Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th November 1971.

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Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral 12:00 am, 29th November 1971

Before I call the right hon. Gentleman to move the Motion, I would inform the House that I have selected the Amendment in the name of the Prime Minister and other right hon. Gentlemen.

Motion made, and Question proposed,That this House regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government's present policies in Northern Ireland and the serious deterioration in the relationship between the communities; pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces; regrets the situation in which they have been placed by the decision on internment taken by the Stormont Government: declines to support the continuance of internment without trial and the extraction of information from detainees by methods which must never be permitted in a civilised society; welcomes the initiative taken by the Leader of the Opposition for a solution to these problems; calls upon Her Majesty's Government to respond constructively to this approach including the transfer of responsibility for security to Westminster and the opening of talks leading to the establishment of a constitutional commission.—[Mr. Callaghan.]

3.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I beg to move, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces and supports Her Majesty's Government in the combined policies of putting an end to violence and seeking, through discussion with all concerned who are opposed to the use of violence, means whereby there may be for both communities in Northern Ireland an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the public affairs of the Province". It is my earnest hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the House this evening because I personally attach very high importance to proceeding in this grave matter, wherever possible and to the maximum extent possible, by agreement both in Parliament here and in Northern Ireland.

I think there are two very good reasons for wishing to proceed as far as possible by agreement. The first is this: only agreed solutions will endure. We must surely at this time seek an agreed solution that will last. We cannot look forward to another recrudescence of this violence and tragedy in a few years' time. We cannot look forward to the continuing cycle of violence that we have seen in Ireland over many decades. It must be our objective to find a lasting solution. I emphasise once again that a lasting solution can only really come from continuing agreement.

Secondly, I hope this Amendment will be accepted by the House as a whole because I believe this would be the wish of all those who elected us to this House. The people of this country want to see an end to violence and a return of peace. They are looking to those who are responsible for giving leadership to provide that agreed solution. They look to the two communities and their leaders in Northern Ireland—political and religious leaders, leaders of industry, trade unions, social and professional leaders. They look to those who have the responsibility of providing leadership to seek agreed means of reaching a solution. Also, I believe that in this House people are looking to us to pool our ideas and share our counsel in order to try to reach a solution that will endure.

I need not stress the gravity of this situation. I need not stress, I hope, that this is a national issue, of national significance. I need not. I hope, stress that the object of all concerned should be the same—to establish in Northern Ireland the same standards of life and government as in the rest of the United Kingdom, the same standards of security, of non-discrimination and of a political system based no longer on the tragic sectarian divisions which have persisted so long in Northern Ireland. These surely must be agreed ob;ectives of Parliament.

I have other reasons in more detail for commending this Amendment to the House. It contains three points, and three points only. First, which is common both to the original Motion and to the Amendment itself, it pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces. Second, it contains a policy of putting an end to violence, which seems to me to coincide entirely with the second principle quoted by the Leader of the Opposition last week; namely, that we must seek a security solution, the assertion of effective law and order, in that the men of violence must be either destroyed or compelled to retire. That is the second point, and once again it seems to me to be wholly beyond controversy in this House.

The third point is that side by side with a security solution we must also be seeking a political solution. Once again, to quote the Leader of the Opposition, progress to a far-reaching political solution. I would say in all humility that the words that we have used repeatedly of reaching a solution by agreement whereby there may be for both communities in Northern Ireland an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the public affairs of the Province express as well as can be done the political objective and the political solution. Therefore, this Amendment says three things—praise and support for the Army, the need for a security solution, and the need at the same time for a political solution.

I think it would be sad indeed if the House of Commons or any substantial body of the House of Commons were to reject that three point programme—

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

What about internment?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am hoping to deal with this matter as seriously as did the Leader of the Opposition last week, and I hope that I may have, as he had last week, an uninterrupted hearing in the course of what I have to say.

I will deal in due course, as I must, with the words of the Opposition Motion, but first I deal with those three points which, as I say, are the essence of our Amendment. The first is: praise for the courage and resolution of the Army. I hope that everybody agrees with that, and, therefore, I make no further comment on it. The second is: progress towards a security solution. My hon. Friend the Minister of State on Thursday dealt in considerable detail with the progress that is being made, and I have little to add to it. I think there is no doubt that the security forces, the Army and the R.U.C., for whose courage and efforts unstinting praise is merited, have been making considerable progress. Evidence of that certainly is to be found in the recent statement by the leader of the official I.R.A. Saturday's outburst of violence may well have been the reaction to the official I.R.A. statement about the Provisionals. One does not know. But, as the Minister of State said on Thursday, we must expect, before this campaign is brought to an end, further incidents of this kind we must expect further terrorism and further setbacks from time to time. I believe that progress is being steadily made by the security forces. There is still a long way to go, but there can, surely, be no doubt that the security forces must be supported in their endeavours until, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, the gunmen are either destroyed or compelled to retire. I shall concentrate today, as I think the House would wish, on the political solution. That is all I wish to say on the military side of the problem. I shall refer to a number of the detailed proposals put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in our debate last Thursday, and I start, deliberately, by referring to this passage in his speech: I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will give careful consideration to these proposals which I have put forward and that they will be ready in any case to agree to my suggestion of inter-party talks in this House as a preliminary to similar talks between all the main parties in Westminster and Stormont, leading then, if agreement can be reached, to consideration of the wider proposals I have outlined, or of any other alternative proposals which the Government or anyone else may table."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c, 1585–93.] I say categorically that the Government welcome that proposal in the spirit in which it was put forward. We accept it entirely. We are perfectly willing to enter into talks on the basis of the right hon. Gentleman's words which I have quoted.

If I may add a personal word, in all the problems I have faced one way or another from this Bench over a number of years I have never known anything which has hung round one's shoulders so heavily and so sadly day by day, and often more than day by day. I do not believe that any considerations of personal or political interest are admissible in this context. All solutions, from whatever quarter they come, and must be examined fully, honestly and sincerely. That is our duty as a Parliament.

Against that background, we must consider, first, the limitations—they are considerable—within which we are working in looking for a solution and see whether we can agree about them. Second, we must, I believe, agree about the importance of talks with those who can speak for the minority. As I said earlier, agreement is essential to a lasting solution. Agreement can come only through talk and discussion. Those who refuse to talk are opting for solutions not by agreement but by dictation, and that would be a very bad thing for all the people of Northern Ireland.

I put forward now what seem to me to be the basic principles of any solution, and, judging from what was said last week, I hope that these principles will command support from both sides of the House.

First, a solution must come not by violence but by consent. Second, Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom unless and until its Parliament and people decide otherwise. This has been stressed time and again. I was struck by the words of Cardinal Conway a little time ago: No one in his sane senses would try to bomb one million Protestants into a united Ireland. Third, troops from Her Majesty's Forces must be available in support of the civil power in Northern Ireland, as they would be in any other part of the United Kingdom, and for so long as they are needed, as they would be in any other part of the United Kingdom.

Next, the same standards of impartial government must be established and maintained in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the United Kingdom. I believe that the Downing Street Declaration on human rights, to which reference was made last week, will go a long way, if not the whole way, to establish non-discrimination in these matters. That declaration has been accepted by succeeding Governments here and by succeeding Governments in Northern Ireland, and it must remain the cornerstone of policy in these matters.

Next, I accept, as the right hon. Gentleman said last week, that direct rule of Northern Ireland from this country is to be contemplated only as a last resort and not as a deliberate act of policy.

Next, I say that both the majority and minority communities have their rights, which should be respected, and both are entitled to expect an opportunity to play their full part in the public affairs of the country in which they live. No individual should be debarred from public service in any form by reason of his religious convictions.

The final principle which I put forward—I hope for agreement—is that it is as legitimate to believe in and hope for a united Ireland as it is to believe in and hope for a federal United States of Europe, and it is not legitimate to try to impose these objectives by force, be it physical force or political force.

Those seem to me to be principles which not only emerge from previous discussion on this matter but emerge clearly also from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. It follows that we should seek a system wherein all men of good will can work together for the peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland, whatever their views of the ultimate future, respecting what is the majority view at the time, the majority view, democratically established, on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom.

I think that many people here find it difficult to see what the obstacle is now. They say, "The Border will not be abolished now or in foreseeable years to come. Both communities will continue for many years to live together in Northern Ireland until the day comes, if ever it conies, when they decide to go into a united Ireland. Realising these realities, why do they not recognise the facts, why do they not agree to put this question aside for 20 years at least, get on with the job of restoring peace, and start the reconstruction of the battered economy of Northern Ireland?"

That is what many people in this country feel, and with a good deal of reason. Many suggestions have been put forward to that end. People suggest, for example, that we might have a referendum every 20 years. Many possible solutions and ideas have been canvassed, all of which have difficulties but all of which I find interesting and well worth consideration because they are based on common sense. Although, sometimes, one begins to wonder whether common sense is necessarily a recipe for success in Irish political problems, I still cling to the belief that ideas based on common sense are the best ideas for anyone to take up.

It struck me that the plan put forward by the Leader of the Opposition was, in effect, a variant on that theme of putting the Border on one side for a time and meanwhile getting on and working together to restore the life of Northern Ireland. It was, if I may say so, a scheme both novel and ingenious, though I think that one is entitled to doubt whether it is entirely realistic in the form put forward.

I think it difficult in present circumstances realistically to see much chance of the majority of people in Northern Ireland voting to go into a united Ireland even on the terms proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. Also, I think it difficult, in practice, to believe that the Republic would accept the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth or would accept the proposals for internal reform which were an integral part of the right hon. Gentleman's plan. But I see no reason at all why these ideas should not be discussed and thrashed out, for from discussed and thrashing out other ideas may arise, other ideas possibly not conceivable at the moment. The more all ideas and solutions are canvassed and discussed, the more chances are there of reaching some solution. I believe with great conviction that from talks and discussion no harm can come, but from a refusal to discuss nothing can come but harm and, possibly, destruction.

I welcome the greatest possible degree of co-operation between North and South in all practical ways, and if, by agreement, the North and the South should at some time decide to come together in a United Ireland, if, by agreement, this should be their wish, then not only would we not obstruct that solution but, I am sure, the whole British people would warmly welcome it. But unless and until such a radical solution can come about by agreement, we must deal with the practical problems which face us, the practical means whereby the two communities can live together within Northern Ireland as it is constituted at present.

I see the grievances of the minority as twofold. First, there are those that touch on the ordinary business of everyday life. Discrimination between Catholics and Protestants, discrimination in housing, discrimination in jobs, is among the many problems of everyday life which are the first cause of grievance to the Catholic minority.

I think that the second and possibly now the more important is the feeling among the minority of being second-class citizens, of never effectively participating in major decisions affecting the Northern Ireland community as a whole. I can understand their saying in the circumstances, "If we can never participate in major decisions for the whole of our Province, how can we belong to this Province at all?" One understands that those are the two main problems, and I will deal with them in turn.

I still believe that the Downing Street Declaration clearly pointed the way to disposing of the first problem, that of individual discrimination in jobs and housing and other matters of daily life. Certainly I was sustained in this belief by what I heard in discussions with members of the minority community. The Downing Street Declaration set out a plan, which we inherited, and which we have carried on faithfully, as have succeeding Governments in Northern Ireland, to dispose of this problem of personal discrimination.

Much still remains to be done, of course, in matters of housing allocation and job allocation, in all the matters set out in the Northern Ireland White Paper about progress on the Downing Street Declaration, for time is necessary in all these matters. If there is disappointment about the results so far to be seen on the ground, it is not for any lack of willingness on the part of the Government, or Mr. Faulkner's Government, or Lord Mayola's Government, to proceed with the programme, but arises simply because of the fact that time is necessary to get results on the ground so that people may sense them and be made confident by them. The programme of non-discrimination laid down in the Downing Street Declaration was right and continues to be right, and that will deal with the first of the two problems.

But, of course, it does not deal with the second, the feeling that participation at all levels should be available to the minority as well as the majority community. Here we have to face—and I have said this in the House more than once—the fact that our democratic practice here is not necessarily applicable in all details to the situation in Northern Ireland. The distinction is that here we battle one party with another on political, economic and social issues, and there is always a prospect of change. There the battle is far more fixed. The battle lines are drawn, and, whatever views there are about these essential matters, the minority community feels inevitably that invariably it will be defeated in what is a sectarian rather than a political battle.

I do not believe—I think that the right hon. Gentleman shares this view; I have heard him express it more than once—that there can be full political health in Northern Ireland until the issues of politics there are the same as the issues of politics here. That is an ideal and still a long way off, and meanwhile we have to deal with the problem of minority participation in the areas of the management of the public affairs of the province.

Photo of Mr Stanley McMaster Mr Stanley McMaster , Belfast East

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the main division is not a sectarian division, but is between certain fanatical Republicans and Loyalists, that the political division is between Republicanism and those who are loyal to Queen and country?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Perhaps I have not chosen my words carefully enough. I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Perhaps I should refer to the division between the majority and the minority communities. It is not a religious struggle, and that is why I was careful to say that it was a sectarian battle. It is a struggle between two communities where the voting lines are drawn on a community basis rather than a political basis.

Photo of Mr Jock Stallard Mr Jock Stallard , St Pancras North

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the issue is the Border? That is what he has said, but he is trying to say it without spelling it out. Let him spell it out. The issue at every election in the Six Counties in the past 50 years has been the Border.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

What I am saying is that the issue in the battleline of politics may be the Border, but in reality it is not the Border, because everyone knows that the Border will not be changed in the foreseeable future because there is not a majority in favour of such a change, and everyone agrees that there cannot be a change unless the majority vote for it. The real issue of politics in Northern Ireland is how, within the existing boundaries, two communities can live together. That is what really matters.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I should like to be allowed to continue. I am trying to deal consecutively with the second problem of the minority community.

There are three aspects of what they are entitled to ask, as they do ask and as we recognise in our policy. They ask that they should have an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the life of the Province. The first is in the administration of the day-by-day business of running the country—the housing authority and the police authority. There are now many good examples of minority participation in administrative organs of this kind which are working well. The police authority, which was quoted last week, is a very good example. The Londonderry Development Commission has been an effective example, and the housing authority is another. The level of administration is extremely important in the day-to-day life of the people. It is a level at which it is already agreed policy that there should be proper minority participation in these organs of Government or administration.

Secondly, there is the position of the minority in Parliament. The proposals put forward by Mr. Faulkner go a very long way: proposals for reform of the House, expansion of the Senate and consideration of proportional representation and for a committee system, which, in according status to the minority, goes much further than that accorded in this House, or, so far as I know, in any other democratic Assembly.

Any impartial observer would agree that the proposals of the Northern Ireland Government for the reform of Parliament fully meet the requirements of the minority for a proper guaranteed right of participation in the parliamentary system. What the minority cannot ask for in Parliament is a right of the minority to outvote the majority. It is a hard fact, as the Leader of the Opposition said last week, that the majority also have their rights. But when it comes to participation by the minority in the parliamentary system, it seems to me that the offers made by the Northern Ireland Government are very far-seeing indeed.

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

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that in his Green Paper Mr. Faulkner talks about Northern Ireland being a State? In fact, it is not a State, for it is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Therefore, to talk in terms of Cabinet responsibility, as Mr. Faulkner does, is not in line with the actual situation. The minority have a right to participate in immediate decisions about their future and about the administration of these counties in the same way as any minority party has in any county council committee in the country.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am coming to that, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be patient. The position is properly recognised by the fact that I was invited by Mr. Faulkner to preside over interparty discussions to reach a constitutional solution on the lines put forward, an invitation which recognised that all parties, and particularly Her Majesty's Government, must be party to any satisfactory solution and must participate in the guaranteeing of such a satisfactory solution.

I was coming next to the question of government, because, frankly, this is the most difficult aspect of the problem. It is difficult because of the practical difficulties which arise because of the need for a Government to take decisions and the need for any Government to be an effective team if it is to work. We must not under-estimate these practical difficulties. Anyone who has participated in government at any level knows very well from experience how genuine these difficulties are. But nor need we be daunted by them, for I am sure that they can be overcome.

I believe, however, that they can be overcome only by discussion, and here above all I emphasise the need for discussion involving the elected leaders of the minority community. That is why I welcomed the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) to persuade the leaders of the S.D.L.P. and the Nationalist Party to come to these discussions, because this problem can be solved only by discussion.

I was struck by some words used by Dr. Newe when first appointed to the Cabinet of Northern Ireland. He said: It also seems to me indisputable that, at this point in time, a majority wish to retain the constitutional link with Great Britain, and this being so I do not believe that active discussion of imminent change is realistic or profitable. However I strongly believe that citizens here have the right by all legitimate peaceful and democratic means to advocate and to work for the ultimate unification of Ireland if that is their aspiration: and the Prime Minister has assured me that he also affirms that right That is the spirit in which this problem should be tackled.

Photo of Mr Maurice Foley Mr Maurice Foley , West Bromwich

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that in his Green Paper Mr. Faulkner entirely ruled out anyone pursuing the long-term aim of a united Ireland from belonging to his Cabinet. It would facilitate matters enormously if the right hon. Gentleman would indicate whether he agrees with that, or whether in the interests of peace and harmony in the United Kingdom he will say whether he sees the possibility of people who believe in a United Ireland being brought about in the long term by peaceful means belonging in any real sense to the executive organs of Government in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I do not agree with that interpretation of the Green Paper. What I have just quoted is the complete answer to the hon. Gentleman—that there is now in the Cabinet in Northern Ireland someone who believes strongly in having the right to work for the ultimate unification of Ireland, if that is the aspiration, and who has been assured by Mr. Faulkner that that was his view, too. That is the latest statement of the position, and it is a position which we should clearly understand.

My strong conviction is that no system can be devised, however ingenious, that will work in the absence of a genuine will to make it work. We must recognise that such a genuine will is not particularly conspicuous at present. But the whole point of what we should be trying to do in Northern Ireland now is to promote and expand and increase the will to work together among people who will work together and without that will no ingenious constitutional gimmicks can possibly produce succes.

That is why I very much regret the unwillingness of the political leaders of the minority community to participate in these discussions. I say once again that without participation there cannot be agreement and without agreement there cannot be a lasting solution. Their major reason for non-participation is said to be internment, and we must face this difficulty. The Leader of the Opposition referred to internment very carefully. He made a number of detailed suggestions about its operation which I will certainly discuss with Mr. Faulkner, who is constitutionally responsible, and I have already set that in hand.

I can tell the House that it has been announced today that a Red Cross report on conditions in Long Kesh has been published. There will be visiting again next month. It has also been announced today that a board of visitors will be set up for Long Kesh similar to the system operating in a number of prisons in this country and in Northern Ireland whereby complaints of ill treatment may be made to an impartial body.

Photo of Mr Russell Kerr Mr Russell Kerr , Feltham

May I inquire how it comes about that Mr. Faulkner and Co. are responsible for the policy of internment?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Because it happens to be the law.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I do not wish to give way. I am trying to make a consecutive argument. The Leader of the Opposition was not interrupted, and I have already given away possibly more than enough.

The Leader of the Opposition put forward a number of positive suggestions for changing the present system, and, of course, they will be carefully examined. Indeed, I have already made arrangements to set the examination in hand. But, clearly, the Leader of the Opposition did not support the claim that there could be an end to internment. Absolutely clearly he said that it should cease as soon as the necessary conditions existed for an improvement in confidence. No one can say that those conditions exist at present. The S.D.L.P. should heed the words of the Leader of the Opposition, because by continuing to refuse to take part in discussions it is merely prolonging conditions which I know that it genuinely wants to see brought to an end.

These are the reasons which I put forward for supporting the Government's Amendment. I hope that I have shown that over the range I have covered of the limits within which we are compelled to operate there is categorically and obviously a broad measure of agreement between the Government and the Leader of the Opposition in his speech and the plan that he put forward last Thursday.

I deal briefly, but I hope adequately, with the Opposition's Motion and the reasons that they have given for wishing to divide the House on this occasion. I must say once again, and I hope that I do not sound pious, that to divide the House on this occasion is a very serious step. It will have considerable repercussions here and in Northern Ireland, not least, I think, for the security forces there. Before deciding to do so, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite must be clear on what grounds they have decided to do so.

Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite regret the failure of Her Majesty's Government's present policies". Our policies are to restore law and order and to establish a proper position of participation in the public affairs of Northern Ireland for the minority community. They are policies that we inherited from the Labour party. They are policies which we carried on deliberately because we believed that they were right. Everyone recognises that no Government have yet found a solution to the terror and tragedy of Northern Ireland. We regret that no Government's policy has found an answer. That is no reason for dividing the House, unless the Labour Party has a clear and adequate alternative.

The second point of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite in their Motion is one with which we all agree. They pay tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces".

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Obviously, we all regret the deterioration, but I do not understand why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite regard that as a reason for dividing the House.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

It is the result of the Government's policy.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment

It is our Motion and the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. It is up to him to choose whether he divides the House. He cannot claim that his policy has been successful.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

A vote against the Government must be based not on unhappiness about a situation but about a difference of opinion on how to deal with it. That is what I intend to move on to next, since it is the guts of the Motion. It goes on: declines to support the continuance of internment without trial and the extraction of information from detainees by methods which must never be permitted in a civilised society". I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition did not call for an end of internment. Internment is an alternative to trial through the normal processes of law. Any Government, any Home Secretary, any Minister would always want to see people tried through the normal processes of law. This procedure has been going on apace.

I can give figures of arrests which have been made in connection with the possession of explosives in the last three months. In August there were 25. In September there were 24. In October there were 37. All these men have been charged. The information required to catch them red-handed in possession of explosives would not have been available if we had not had internment. As has been proved and acted upon time and time again by more than one Government, it is not possible in these circumstances to confront an accused man with the source of the information against him without destroying the source of the information and endangering the lives of those who have given it. That is simple, brute fact.

We want to see the end of internment as soon as possible, and we shall examine the detailed suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition. But the point of confrontation is the fundamental difference between the normal processes of trial and those of appeal to committees now established and working in Northern Ireland. The alternative, if we are voting on this, is to release here and now on to the streets of Northern Ireland a large number of members of the Provisional I.R.A.—

An Hon. Member:

Charge them.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I have explained that it is impossible to charge them in circumstances where witnesses are intimidated. I am saying that if the Opposition wish to vote for the immediate release of all internees they are welcome to do so.

I come next to interrogation. Here, very difficult issues are involved, and we have had a full discussion on the Compton Report. The most difficult issue is to decide what forms of interrogation are permissible in our society in dealing with a campaign of murder and terror, to try to apprehend the terrorists and capture the arms that they intend to use. It is because it is so difficult that we have asked Lord Parker of Waddington, assisted by two other Privy Councillors, one from each side of the House, to examine it. I thought that that commanded the general support of the House as a proper means of proceeding. I believe that it remains the proper means.

It is difficult to reconcile that with words which talk about the extraction of information from detainees by methods which must never be permitted in a civilised society". If, therefore, we are to have a party vote tonight, I must make the required party point. The words "in a civilised society" probably mean "by a civilised society." I do not think that anyone would suggest that it is permissible to use methods in a primitive society which must not be used in an advanced society.

The Labour Party says that these methods should never be permitted "in a civilised society." Was Aden civilised in 1965 when these methods were used, as they were used for a number of years in succeeding campaigns? There was the Bowen Committee's Report, which went into that in great detail. Subsequent to that, a revised directive was issued which remains the directive upon which British Forces operate, and the same methods continued to be part of the standard training of British Armed Forces throughout the years of Labour Government.

Photo of Mr Alex Lyon Mr Alex Lyon , City of York

The right hon. Gentleman keeps on insisting that these methods were disclosed in the Bowen Report and sanctified in rules made thereafter. However, nothing in the Bowen Report discloses any of these methods of interrogation, and the rules laid down after the publication of the Bowen Report relate merely to principles which negate any kind of violence or torture. Nothing in the rules indicates the methods of interrogation disclosed in the Compton Report.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is what I am saying. The principles laid down are the ones that we have observed. But, with all the information before them at the time, the Government of the day were satisfied with the 1967 directive and these methods of interrogation throughout the entire period of the Labour Government. They remain a standard training system of the British Armed Forces.

As I have said, I believe that the right way to deal with this matter in a democracy is first to appoint a committee, as we are doing, and then for this House to direct itself to what is a very serious issue to be decided. There is a world of difference between a polite question to a man, asking for information, and torture, which is unacceptable. It is a problem to which we must address ourselves when we have the report of the Privy Councillors. It would not be honest or sensible to make it a cause of a party Division tonight.

The Opposition Motion goes on: Welcomes the initiative taken by the Leader of the Opposition for a solution to these problems; calls upon Her Majesty's Government to respond constructively to this approach". I have tried to do that in saying that we welcome readily the right hon. Gentleman's proposal for talks between the parties on this crucial issue. Therefore, I cannot see in the Motion any—

An Hon. Member:

Deal with security.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Certainly I will deal with security. This is another matter which may well be discussed between the parties.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

The right hon. Gentleman should let us have his views.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

There are practical difficulties in this Government taking over security in Northern Ireland. Certainly there would be added burdens and complications for the British Army. The ideal in Northern Ireland is to have the system and standards of policing that we have in the United Kingdom. However, in present circumstances that system and those standards are not applicable in Northern Ireland. Where a small police force is operating alongside a bigger Army force, the circumstances are not remotely applicable to anything in this country.

The Leader of the Opposition referred to the authority of the police authorities. In this country, chief constables have a remarkable degree of freedom. In their operations they are not under the control of the police authorities. A solution of that kind would not be feasible in Northern Ireland, where the whole question of security is fundamental to the problem.

Many would see this move as a definite step in the direction of direct control. Whether that be true or not, we must recognise that many people would see it as that. We are agreed on both sides that direct rule should come only as a last resort. Therefore, a measure of this sort which would be thought to be a move in that direction would be fraught with considerable danger. I say that we should examine this and talk about it. I have examined it myself more than once. It is a proposal, and all proposals should be put on the table and thrashed out. I see difficulties in the way of it, and people should be aware of what they are.

Looking at the various points in the Opposition Motion, I cannot see that they add up to such a divergence from the policy of the Government as to justify dividing the House on this issue.

I come finally to another point which I am sure will interest the House. There is genuine concern about the economic situation in Northern Ireland. It is felt by the trade unions as well as by employers. Sir James Cairncross has been chairing a committee reviewing the Northern Ireland Development Plan. He has reported to the two Governments, and we are both studying his recommendations carefully. We shall announce our decisions later.

On the review body's recommendation, the Northern Ireland Government propose to set up a finance corporation which will offer help over the next three years to undertakings which have reasonable long-term prospects but are faced with particular needs at present. Full details will be announced shortly. Meanwhile, the two Governments agree that, if necessary, under the normal financial arrangements up to £50 million can be made available to this body.

I hope that that will be taken as an earnest of the seriousness with which we treat this problem of Northern Ireland. It is one of enormous dimensions and of great national gravity. I have explained as best I can how the Government are trying to pursue the twin aims of dealing with the gunmen and of creating a political solution. We are entitled to ask for the support of the whole House on that policy.

4.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

The speech which we have just heard from the Home Secretary has served to underline one feature of the debate. Despite his final words I must tell him that whatever differences there are in the House about present policies—and some of them run deep—there is general agreement that this debate has been dominated and shaped by the opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. My right hon. Friend regrets that, owing to a long-standing overseas commitment, which I know the Government understand and appreciate, he cannot be in the House today, but if he is not present in person his advice to the House is very much present, as we have heard from the Home Secretary. My right hon. Friend talked in his speech on Thursday about the traumatic change which the internment decision brought about."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1580.] He said he believed that, following internment, nothing can ever be quite the same again. That can also be said about my right hon. Friend's speech: nothing can be quite the same again in this House after it, certainly in terms of the public debate about the complex of Irish problems of which the Northern Ireland crisis provides the violent focus. That speech has added a new dimension to the debate. It has placed it on a quite different plane, which gives us new horizons, and new opportunities for dialogue.

I was happy to hear from the Home Secretary an immediate positive response to the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition that there ought to be joint talks, first of all in this House, then one hopes, between the parties in Stormont, and, if all goes well, on a wider scale in search of a solution. Of course, the Home Secretary could not resist the temptation—it ran as a recurrent theme through his speech—to try to establish a contradiction between the terms of the speech and the terms of the Motion moved on behalf of the Opposition. Let me meet this attack head-on. There is no internal contradiction in the Opposition Motion. Our Motion regrets the failure of the Government's present policy, and we are entitled to do that. I shall explain why.

The Motion does exactly what the Home Secretary said was the only possible justification for it and for dividing on it. It puts forward an adequate and definable alternative, as set out in the speech by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Let me say that, since the Home Secretary spoke in fairly strong terms in defence of his own position, in our view, he is the wrong man to make this kind of critique. Our Motion can be put more pungently and personally as an attack on the degree of drift which the Home Secretary has allowed to take place, and which has made such a contribution to the deterioration of the situation in Northern Ireland during the summer.

He charges us with breaking bipartisanship over Northern Ireland at a time when my right hon. Friend is urging all-Party talks. What is bipartisanship? What is its purpose in a Chamber like this? To read the Conservative Press, and to hear the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, it is clear that there is a simple Tory definition, which is to the effect that, on an issue like Northern Ireland, it is the duty of the Labour Opposition to go along with Conservative Government policy. That is not a definition we can accept as being in the real interests of the Servicemen in Northern Ireland or of the communities there. Of course there is great advantage in being able to maintain bipartisanship in this House in a situation like Northern Ireland, where lives are at stake and our Service men are at risk. But it has to be based on agreement about the way forward. The Home Secretary conceded this in his opening remarks. He said that the basis of bipartisanship must be genuine agreement. Our case is that in recent months that genuine agreement has been disappearing due to the action, or lack of action, on the part of the Government.

For a long time we had bipartisanship, both under the Labour Government, and under the present Administration, but as I argued in our emergency debate on 23rd September: … we believe the Government have departed during the summer from what, during our period of office and afterwards, had remained common ground."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 23rd September 1971; Vol. 823, c. 304.] Bipartisanship was destroyed not, as the Tory Press over the weekend would like the nation to believe, by a resolution of the Parliamentary Labour Party: that resolution merely reflected the fact that it had already been destroyed by the Government's inertia and errors during the critical summer and autumn. The rôle of a Government in London ought to be constantly, endlessly, with infinite patience, publicly and behind the scenes to persuade, cajole and press all groups in Northern Ireland and in Dublin, if we are to have any chance of influencing them, to move in the right direction, or at least, not to move in the wrong direction.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) did this with consummate skill during his period as Home Secretary. That kind of action by a British Government means that they must not be over-committed to any one section or appease any one section as the Government in our view have allowed themselves to appease Stormont over internment.

Photo of Captain Walter Elliot Captain Walter Elliot , Carshalton

The right hon. Gentleman started off reconciling what the Leader of the Opposition said about the terms of the Motion, but he seemed to leave it rather quickly. Would he, had he abandoned it entirely, reconcile what the Leader of the Opposition said about internment with what is said in the Motion about it?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that if he will be patient—I am only at the beginning of a long speech—I shall come to that point in a few moments. I was seeking to make the point about what the Government did in the summer which led to the destruction of the common ground between us. At that point in time it seemed to us that the Government preferred bipartisanship at Stormont to bipartisanship at Westminster. It cannot be said too plainly that it is the Government, and not the Opposition, who failed to preserve the common ground that existed in this House until the summer.

Whatever other criticisms he may make the Home Secretary cannot accuse my right hon. Friends on this bench of reckless haste in accepting this fact. In our September debate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East and I emphasised that, in normal circumstances, we would have criticised the Government by a vote against them. We refrained from so doing because of the talks arranged between the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic and because of the Home Secretary's initiative in bringing people round his table in a search for a solution and because of Mr. Faulkner's Green Paper. We wished all these initiatives well. We hoped desperately that they would produce concrete progress in the weeks that followed. I warned then, in winding up, that we would watch the progress of the talks vigilantly, particularly as they affected the issue of internment and that, after the House returned, we would, if necessary, take the matter to a Division. The Home Secretary cannot argue that he has not been fully warned of the process that was developing.

What has happened since that last debate? It seems to us that the Government's initiatives have been running into the sands. The only new development since that debate, on the Government side, has been the report on the methods of deep interrogation contained in the Compton Report, which the House, whatever views may be held about it, will feel has added a new chapter to the Northern Ireland nightmare. The only positive event offering any hope for the future has been the visit of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to Belfast and Dublin, and the report which has emerged from it.

It is for these reasons that we believe that our Motion wholly reflects the realities of the situation, both in this House and in Ireland. The old basis for a common policy has gone, destroyed like so much else in the conflagration that was caused by the way the internment policy was carried out. New common ground has to be created, and here I come close to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain Elliot): we believe that the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend seem to offer the best chances of re-creating that common ground which this House badly needs if it is to solve the problems of Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The right hon. Gentleman has used the phrase that what he objects to is the way in which the internment policy was carried out. Does this mean that he does not object to internment but to the way of doing it?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

If the Prime Minister will be patient I shall treat internment carefully in a moment, in language which I have considered carefully.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

It was a perfectly clear and straightforward question. Surely the right hon. Gentleman can give an answer?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I must ask the Prime Minister to be patient. I will give him a considered answer. I cannot promise that it will be one which will satisfy him. I was trying to meet the charge that we are dividing the House at a time when the Leader of the Opposition has proposed a new basis for inter-party talks. What I am arguing is that it is right that the Opposition should pass judgment on the recent past. I do not believe that we can refrain from doing so in this debate, especially—and this is an important aspect sometimes overlooked—if the confidence of the minority community in the sense of fairness of this House is to be retained.

Having said that, it is the future that matters most, and that is why I regard my right hon. Friend's speech as the most important single feature of the debate and that is why I very much welcomed the response which the right hon. Gentleman made to it. No one can be expected to accept all the details of my right hon. Friend's proposals as they stand. He would be the last person to expect that to happen. But this does offer everyone a chance to discuss new perspectives which might help to stop the slide to disaster in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Stanley McMaster Mr Stanley McMaster , Belfast East

On the point about the constitutional talks, does not the right hon. Gentleman see a danger, in certain circumstances, of holding talks such as those which the Leader of the Opposition suggested, since they give encouragement to the Republicans and lead to a resurgence of violence such as we have seen this last weekend and such as we have seen ever since the talks of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister with his opposite number from Dublin? There has been increasing violence because they get encouragement from these talks; they think that they are achieving their ends.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I do not underestimate the dangers attached to any course in connection with the Irish problem. But the greatest dangers and disasters are likely to follow acceptance of the doctrine of despair which the hon. Member is constantly giving this House.

I come now to internment, which was raised by the Prime Minister. From what I have said about internment and from our Motion it will be clear that we regard it as being at the heart of any improvement in the short-term situation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was sketching on a broad canvass; perhaps I might come down to the more immediate foreground which certainly concerns the question of internment. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees), in winding up for the Opposition on Thursday evening, gave the House some interesting ideas for meeting the fundamental dilemma that we are in as a result of what I regard as the political blunder over the way that the internment policy was carried out in August.

This dilemma is that, on the one hand, there is the lack of an adequate judicial process of trial for those who are detained while, on the other hand, there is the impossibility, to which the Home Secretary referred, of releasing on to the streets known gunmen who, once normal conditions of confidence are restored, would face criminal charges with witnesses ready to come forward and testify against them. At the moment Northern Ireland, an integral part of the United Kingdom for which right hon. Gentlemen opposite are directly responsible, suffers internment without trial to a degree that we never allowed to happen in any of our colonies in the past. I emphasise the words "without trial", from our own Motion, because even while the full and formal panoply of the traditional trial may be impossible in present circumstances, because of the fear of intimidation, it is possible, we believe, to provide some reasonably adequate alternative.

It is possible to provide what I noticed Mr. Conor Cruise O'Brien described in a perceptive article in the Observer yesterday as judicial hearings in camera at which detainees and internees could be represented by counsel. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Peter Archer), who was one of the delegation from this House which visited the internees, tells me that at present they receive no notification of the nature of the charge against them, so that if they present their cases to Judge Brown's Commission they are without knowledge of the allegations against them, they have no method of knowing in advance what will be said, and I understand the Commission refuses to hear all argument by lawyers on behalf of the internees. It would be a substantial step forward to providing maximum possible opportunities for trial within the limitations imposed if those things were to be allowed.

My hon. and learned Friend suggested that additional confidence could be created among the internees if the Commission included international personalities, and he mentioned the President of the European Court. Other Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East, mentioned the possibility that distinguished Commonwealth judges might have a "confidence-creating" rôole to play here.

It must be remembered that Northern Ireland cannot be an integral part of the United Kingdom without a recognition that the British Government have to carry the international responsibility of internment. Mr. Faulkner's Green Paper seemed to me to have a number of constructive features to which the Home Secretary drew attention, but one of the mistakes appeared to be the placing of the responsibilities of the Stormont Cabinet in respect of security on broadly the same level as that of Whitehall. The inevitable corollary of Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom is that Westminster must be the sovereign Parliament and Stormont the subordinate one. To have complete responsibility for security, which we have in this House, but only divided power is becoming increasingly unsatisfactory.

The Home Secretary's response to this point was equally unsatisfactory this afternoon. He said that the constitutional responsibility was shared, which is the fact. When he was asked about it he shrugged his shoulders and said, "It happens to be the law." The law is made in this House, and this is something with which the Government can deal.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am interested in the point which the right hon. Gentleman is making, but he has not come to the crunch on this issue. He referred to the difficulties of releasing "known gunmen"—an interesting phrase—on the streets. He accepts that they are known. The crunch is this—do the Opposition envisage a system whereby the source of the information and the identity of the person giving the information should become known to the detainee or internee and his adviser? This is the crunch of the whole business of trial in internment procedures.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I am not a lawyer, but as someone who has had some connection with colonial administration over years in this House, what I do know is that the arrangements we have made with regard to such situations in colonial territories offered those who were detained an infinitely better chance of defending themselves, knowing what they were charged with and dealing with that, than we are doing in Ulster.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

There is a fundamental question which the right hon. Gentleman has not answered. Do the Opposition recommend that the source of information and the identity of the person providing it should become known to the detainee and his advisers?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I see no reason why in the first place the charge on which the internee is detained without trial, a most repugnant thing as the Home Secretary has said on many occasions, should not be made known to the internee. I do not see why, if proceedings are held in camera, those who hold them cannot strike a reasonable balance between the security of the community and the interests of those detained.

Photo of Mr Peter Archer Mr Peter Archer , Rowley Regis and Tipton

Would my right hon. Friend accept that there is a world of difference in any event between telling an internee and his lawyer what is alleged against him and telling him the source of the information?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Indeed. I want to put to the Government another consideration about the transfer of responsibility for security clearly and unequivocally to this House and the Government in Westminster. It is a practical argument of some importance. If security clearly lay here in Westminster and Whitehall, this would greatly clear the decks at Stormont for pursuing various constructive proposals which Mr. Faulkner and others have made for internal reform and would win a bigger hope of a positive response from the side of the minority community.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Does the proposal mean the transfer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, because if so that would mean a further division of responsibility between Stormont and Westminster.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I see no reason why the R.U.C. should not be in the same relationship to Whitehall and Westminster as any other of the great police forces of the United Kingdom. This is a united kingdom, and because of the way in which things have been developing we have to face the problems which have been created by these developments.

I was going on to argue that the transfer of security to the Government here and to the House would centralise the responsibility for interrogation methods, and here I come to the point made by the Home Secretary at the end of his speech. Everyone who is horrified by the acts of violence perpetrated by the I.R.A. against innocent victims must recognise, as the Home Secretary asked us to do, that there is a difficult balance to be struck as to how far a democratic society is entitled to go to obtain information from those in detention in order to save lives. Nevertheless, on reflection, I believe that many hon. Members on both sides of the House believe that the line must be drawn in a way which clearly rules out the kind of techniques involving the physical ill-treatment described by the Compton Inquiry.

It is true that these techniques have been used elsewhere in other emergencies, but what is more important to recognise is that this is the first time that these techniques have become known to Ministers and to Parliament—I mean known to Ministers of the previous Administration, or to Ministers of the present one. The skin of civilisation seems to be preciously thin, as we see day after day in Ulster. It is very easy to break that skin, and desperately hard to heal it. The forces of law and order are striving desperately, in the face of great provocation, to preserve the wafer-thin veneer of civilisation in Northern Ireland. It would be tragically self-defeating if they were to slide into the habit of breaking it themselves.

I recognise that this involves a double standard for the gunman and the law-keeper, but that is a basic definition of the rule of law of civilised societies. It is a rule to which every policeman faced with trying to get information from a common thug has to conform, and it is not possible to have one rule for the Belfast interrogation centre and another for the average English police station. Indeed, by all accounts the legal basis of the techniques that were used at the interrogation centre is very much open to question.

I did not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham) received an adequate answer from the Attorney-General on that matter earlier this afternoon. We urgently need a considered explanation from one of the Law Officers about the legal powers under which this interrogation in depth takes place, and what protection it is proposed to offer those carrying out these orders. If the Attorney-General does not tell the House about it, I warn him that he is likely to have to provide some sort of explanation at the European Court of Human Rights, as was indicated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin).

None of our anxieties about internment or interrogation reflects in any way—and I should make this crystal clear—on the conduct or courage of the British forces in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

It merely makes it more difficult for them.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I am astonished to hear that from the hon. Gentleman, because I do not think he would find it endorsed by any officer who has the responsibility of commanding troops in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

One of the most despicable acts a politician can do is to put troops into action to do a job and then let them down as soon as somebody else has the responsibility for them.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I hope to deal with this issue of the respective duties of politicians and soldiers in a moment, but let me first say something about the soldiers.

They are carrying out what I suppose is the most difficult task that British troops have carried out at any time during this century. They are carrying out the most distasteful of military tasks, that of peace-keeping within the boundaries of their own country, and amongst their own people. They are doing this, as everybody recognises, whatever other differences there may be between us, with immense patience, good humour and superb professional skill in that most difficult of military techniques, the use of minimum force.

There are bound to be occasions when things go wrong and must be thoroughly investigated. It does not help the forces if anyone in this House seeks to brush aside instances where there must be investigations, and the forces themselves have behaved with tremendous good sense and dignity in these matters. The forces have shamed a number of honourable and some gallant Members opposite by resisting the kind of pressures which some hon. Gentlemen opposite have been trying to generate to impose censorship in Northern Ireland. The forces, when they have to undergo ordeal by television, do so with immense dignity and self-restraint.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will absolve me of that charge, bearing in mind what I said during the debate on the Compton Report. I said that I condemn censorship, and that I do not want it.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I accept that, and I am happy to absolve the hon. Gentleman of that charge. I hope that he will on reflection absolve me of the charge of wishing to make more difficult the task of our soldiers in Northern Ireland. I was pretty angry when that charge was made against me.

It would be wise if the citizens of Northern Ireland, whether they belong to any of the fanatical minorities, or to the acquiescent and often too-silent majorities, were to realise that public opinion on this side of the Irish Sea has little sympathy for any of them. Public opinion in this country is on the side of the soldiers who are there simply to prevent a blood bath. The soldiers know that there can be no military solution in Northern Ireland, either way.

The golden rule for defence policy—I direct these words to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely—seems to me that soldiers should not be asked to do politicians' jobs for them. Admiration for the qualities of our soliders is no substitute for political policy, and the duty of politicians, be they in London, Belfast, or Dublin, is to find political solutions.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has sought to do exactly that. He has not shirked the harsh realities in what he put before the House. In his first-hand report from Northern Ireland he recognised that the gunmen must be destroyed or compelled to retire. He recognised that there must be success for the security forces before a political situation can be fully implemented, but equally—and this is sometimes rather overlooked in the subsequent debate—that that does not mean that a political solution can or must await a military victory. If that were to be so, it might wait for ever.

Progress towards a political solution must go hand in hand with the security operation if the security operation itself is to succeed. So long as the minority feel repressed, they will shelter violent men who seek to take violent action. Law and order are not of themselves enough. What we are seeking is to bring about law and justice, and my right hon. Friend underlined the fact that even if the I R.A. could be defeated militarily, it would rise again more militantly in a few years' time if there were no settlement which gave peace with justice.

In that he was echoing the wise words of Brian Faulkner in Stormont when he introduced his Green Paper. He said then: Moreover, I will not be satisfied with just heating the present I.R.A. campaign. I don't want to have to tell my children, 'Well, we have hammered violence into its box for a few more years, but we can't guarantee it won't break out again in your time, and that will he your problem'. I want our posterity to say that this was the generation which sought to get to the roots of the problem which has for so long bedevilled this country. I agree with those words, and my right hon. Friend sought to get to the root of the problem. His proposals were both wide-ranging and detailed. He did not underestimate the objections which would be raised, but his proposals will have done well, indeed, if they simply force everybody concerned with this problem, wherever they are, to rethink their basic attitudes. The proposals were meant, above all, to get a dialogue going. Until my right hon. Friend spoke, I had a forbidding sense of moving into a cul-de-sac which sloped inexorably downwards while the walls on either side grew higher and higher all the time.

Suddenly, my right hon. Friend offers us what I think the scientists call a quantum jump. It cannot of itself take us out of the cul-de-sac; that remains our present position, and tonight we on this side of the House will express our regret about the policies which got us into that cul-de-sac. But what my right hon. Friend offers us is the chance to move on to a different plane where the perspectives and possibilities can change. This involves a concept of a completely different relationship between Dublin, Belfast and London. It involves the possibility of a united Ireland, based, as the Ireland Act, 1949, laid down, on the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. That is the only way that it can happen.

But the Home Secretary was less than adequate when questioned on the attitude of Mr. Faulkner to this a little earlier today. It is vitally important, if we are to make progress, if there is to be an adequate response to the Leader of the Opposition's proposals, that it should not be laid down in Northern Ireland that no one who has a belief in a united Ireland, however long-term and however much it may be based on the consent of the peoples concerned, should be debarred from a share of the guaranteed and permanent power that the Home Secretary, quite correctly, seeks to bring about in Northern Ireland.

To quote again from the Observer article by Mr. Conor Cruise O'Brien, addressing this time his own compatriots in Dublin: No British Government will force a million Ulster Protestants into a United Ireland …—a truism so massive that it would not need to be stated, except through such a mental fog that has so long brooded over Ulster-Irish politics. That is the reality of the matter. The job which the Leader of the Opposition sought to do on Thursday was to point some signposts through that fog which envelops all of us.

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

While we agree that that has been said by Conor Cruise O'Brien, it has also been said by every member of the hierarchy in Ireland: that one cannot browbeat a million non-Catholics into a united Ireland. But the tragedy today is that so many Catholics in Northern Ireland will not have Stormont at any price.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I agree. The Home Secretary himself quoted Cardinal Conway on exactly the same point. That is the reality of things. That is why the Home Secretary is right when he presses his proposals for a permanent, active and guaranteed share of political power in Northern Ireland, when he says that civil rights and the abolition of discrimination, important though they are, in fact are not enough, that one must move from that to a share of political power, and to a share of the political administration.

We might dispute with him where the limitations of that lie in terms of operating a Cabinet system and so on, but on the central point he is absolutely right. It was against that background that we very much welcomed the response which he made to the proposals by my right hon. Friend for joint talks as a beginning to wider talks on a wider scale in Northern Ireland itself.

I hope that he will be able, through these talks, to begin building up a new and more realistic common ground between the parties here. I believe that there is a desperate need for a new start in a new dimension. Whatever difficulties this offers, I believe that it is the best hope of peace with justice for the shattered, fear-ridden communities of Northern Ireland.

4.53 p.m.

Photo of Sir Fitzroy Maclean Sir Fitzroy Maclean , Bute and North Ayrshire

I have no special knowledge of Northern Ireland except as an agreeable place to visit in happier times, so I will not try to go into the more abstruse political aspects of an agonising problem. What I should like to do is to touch very briefly on the question of insurgency as a form of warfare and on possible answers to it. That, after all, is what we are most immediately concerned with—although, sooner or later, an agreed political solution must clearly be found. And to that extent, I welcome and recognise the importance of the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition, and also welcome his firm assertion that there can be no progress and no withdrawal so long as violence lasts.

I only wish that his views commanded more support in the party which he strives so manfully to lead. I must say I was a little disappointed by the ambivalence of the attempts of the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) to reconcile his leader's speech with his party's Motion. Ambivalence is something which we have learned not to expect from the right hon. Gentleman and, if I may say so, it is also something at which he is not at all good.

My own experience of insurgency, as it happens, has been largely on the side of the insurgent, of the guerrilla, and the small-scale raider. But, in the present situation, perhaps that is not altogether irrelevant, because if one knows or can guess what the enemy is trying to do, it may help one to decide what to do oneself.

For a guerrilla to succeed, certain things are necessary. First of all, he must have mobility—mobility that gives him the initiative and makes possible surprise, that enables him to attack the enemy where he least expects it and then to fade back again quickly into the hinterland, denying his opponents a firm target at which to hit back. As T. E. Lawrence said: The guerrilla must be a thing intangible, invulnerable, without front or back, drifting about like a gas. There could not be a better description of the I.R.A. Above all, a guerrilla must never let himself be pinned down.

Now, in order to be able to operate in this way, he needs, first of all, a background, a hinterland from which to emerge, from which to strike and into which to disappear. Lawrence and others since had the desert; others had mountains or forests or the jungle. A city, if one knows one's way around it and has the run of it, can be a perfectly adequate background for guerrilla operations, as has been shown over and over again. So, of course, can a neighbouring country if it is friendly.

Secondly, if a guerrilla is always to be a jump ahead—and he must be, if he is to survive at all—he needs good intelligence, better intelligence than his adversary. Finally, in addition to all these, it is of enormous advantage to him if he has the support, or at any rate the connivance—willing or unwilling—of the local population. As Mao Tse-Tung has told us—and he speaks with authority— a guerrilla must be able to live among the people as a fish lives in water". He will, after all, in all probability depend on the local population for intelligence, shelter and probably supplies.

If we want to get on top of the I.R.A.—and I assume that most of us do, at any rate on this side of the House—the first thing to do is to consider how far they enjoy the tactical and strategic advantages which I have described, and then decide how we can best deprive them of those advantages.

Clearly, the answer is that, to a greater or lesser degree, the I.R.A. at present possess all these advantages and consequently still have the initiative. And so our aim, as I see it, must be to reverse the situation, so that in future it is they who are at the receiving end and we who possess the initiative. If we are to succeed in this, there are a number of things we need to do. We must ensure that our intelligence is better than theirs, and not vice versa. We must deprive them, if we possibly can, of the support of at any rate the majority of the local population. We must try to deny them the possibility of surprise. We must restrict their mobility and freedom of movement and seek to pin them down.

I was glad that, on Thursday, my noble Friend emphasised the importance of good intelligence and gave an account of the Army's recent successes. Once our intelligence is better than that of the I.R.A., we are well on the way to denying them the vital element of surprise. We can at least stop them taking us by surprise and with any luck start taking them by surprise.

But what seems to me the most important thing of all is that we should deny the I.R.A. the almost complete freedom of movement which they at present possess. So long as they can move freely back and forth across the Border, using the Irish Republic as a sanctuary and supply base, and so long as there are areas in Belfast and Londonderry which they virtually control, we have not in my view got a hope of ending the emergency.

Nor, so long as that is the case, can we really have much hope of winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the uncommitted population. There are certainly a good many people in Northern Ireland who support the I.R.A. voluntarily. But there are a good many more who put up with the I.R.A. only because they are terrorised into doing so, and we have seen horrifying examples on the front pages of our newspapers to prove this. Until we can keep order in our own cities and reassure the uncommitted and give them something to hope for, and get them to look to us for protection now and in the future, large numbers of them will inevitably go on conniving, collaborating or co-operating with the I.R.A. and giving them comfort and shelter.

For all these reasons I must say I was not entirely reassured by what my noble Friend said about the Border on Thursday. It may perhaps be impracticable to seal it off completely against the I.R.A. But surely we ought to be able to do better than, as he said, make it very much more difficult for them to drive across freely".—[OFFICIAL REPORT 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1600.] Because, so long as the I.R.A. are able to move back and forth across the Border at will, even if they sometimes have to do so on foot, the emergency will go on. I know that closing the Border may involve inconvenience for the people who live nearby, but that after all is nothing like the inconvenience that the emergency is causing everyone else.

And, of course, the same applies to the areas in the cities which the enemy at present control—or which at any rate we quite clearly do not control. Until we can clear those areas of gunmen and reestablish British rule there, the I.R.A.'s reign of terror is bound to continue.

I know, of course, that more troops will be needed for this and that we are short of men on the ground. I know, too, that it is a question of priorities. But surely there can be no higher priority, when it comes to deciding how to use such troops as we have, than preventing terrorism in the United Kingdom itself. And that, I believe, can be done only by closing the Border as effectively as possible and by regaining control without further delay of the areas at present out-with our control. Only when we have done this can we hope to achieve what we all want to see, namely, a political settlement and an end to the emergency.

Rightly or wrongly, successive Governments have whittled away our foreign and overseas military commitments until today very few remain. But this is not a foreign commitment this is a United Kingdom commitment and, as such, it is a difficult one to get rid of, short of abandoning an integral part of this country to massacre and civil war.

I would like to end, as others have done, by paying tribute to the British Army and to the exceptional steadfastness, courage and restraint with which they are performing their difficult, exacting and distasteful duties. There is no more unpleasant task for regular troops than to be engaged in an undeclared war of this kind, never knowing when they will be blown up or shot in the back or who is going to do it—never knowing when some innocent-looking child will throw a handgrenade at one. In such circumstances it is the easiest thing in the world to lose one's nerve and overreact or, alternatively, to fall back on a policy of deliberate frightfulness.

I think the steadiness and restraint shown by the British Army in Northern Ireland, under the severest possible provocation, can have few parallels in history, contemporary or otherwise. And I think that our Press and television, in their efforts to appear unbiassed, would do well to bear this in mind.

5.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I begin by making some of my own comments about the remarkable speech with which the debate was opened last Thursday by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.

In my view, that speech changed permanently and fundamentally the whole character and nature of the Irish debate.

A senior British politician has for the first time in 50 years spoken of Irish unity not simply as an honourable goal but as an attainable one. As a result I do not believe that the Irish debate can ever be the same again.

My right hon. Friend's references to unity were carefully and necessarily qualified and properly and responsibly limited. But the idea of Irish unity has been broached, and in my view this idea will prove to be increasingly contagious—indeed already there is a good deal of common ground among people throughout the country in favour of the idea.

In the light of some Press comment that has appeared today and over the weekend, I wish to make perfectly clear how widespread in the ranks of the Opposition is not only our support for the goal of eventual Irish unity but, equally our support for vocalising and demonstrating tonight our criticism of what the Conservative Government have done in the last 18 months. I cannot help but reflect on the second leader in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, in which some of us who pride ourselves in having urged criticism of the Government were described as irresponsible politicians for vocally supporting Irish unity—when only a few weeks ago we were described as statesmen of considerable eminence for vocally supporting European unity.

I see no conflict between the long-term aim and the short-term criticism. Both are common to every group within the Opposition and both will be demonstrated when we vote against the Government tonight, it is absolutely nonsensical to pretend that this single act of voting for the first time on an Irish question since the entry of British troops into the streets of Derry and Belfast in 1969 means, in itself, the end of bipartisanship.

Bipartisanship—it is an ugly as well as an imprecise word—has to be a two-way business. That ended when the Government adopted policies which the Opposition could not in conscience support. It was killed stone dead on the night of 9th August when internment without trial was introduced. It was dealt an almost mortal blow six weeks before because of the manner in which some of the searches in Derry and Belfast were carried out—carried out in such a way that the minority community was bound to be antagonised.

The antagonisation of the minority community is central to our criticism of the Government. Peace cannot be restored until the majority of Catholics—the law-abiding minority community in Northern Ireland—believe that they have nothing to gain from the gunmen and everything to gain from the rule of law. When a wedge should have been driven between the gunmen and the law-abiding Catholics, a wedge was driven between the law-abiding Catholics and the law itself. Nothing more accelerated that process than the introduction of internment without trial. In those circumstances, bipartisanship is impossible.

Photo of Sir Fitzroy Maclean Sir Fitzroy Maclean , Bute and North Ayrshire

Is the hon. Gentleman unaware of the fact that his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made it clear in his speech on Thursday that internment should cease only when certain necessary conditions had improved?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I am so well aware of what he said that I have marked in my copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT C. 1577 to 1580 which deal with that point. However, that is not my interpretation of what my right hon. Friend was saying. [Laughter.] Nor do I regard internment without trial as a matter of great jocularity.

We all agree that internment has improved intelligence. That is clearly the case, and nobody would deny it. But my right hon. Friend went on to say that a terrible price had been paid amongst both communities. He talked about the traumatic change that that decision brought about and said that following interment nothing could be the same again. I am echoing those sentiments.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Would the hon. Gentleman address himself to the conclusion of the Leader of the Opposition, cited by my hon. Friend?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I have done that. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I will repeat it for the Prime Minister's benefit. I have said that the conclusion which is cited by his hon. Friend is certainly not a conclusion I read from the speech. I do not believe that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, had he been Prime Minister, would have countenanced internment or that he would have slavishly agreed to proposals of Mr. Brian Faulkner, as did the present Prime Minister. I believe that his criticism of internment, in principle and in practice, is as strong as mine.

Photo of Sir Fitzroy Maclean Sir Fitzroy Maclean , Bute and North Ayrshire

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that his Leader considers that internment should continue until confidence has been restored? If he does not interpret his Leader's words—which he and I have both emphasised—as meaning that, what does he interpret?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I do not interpret it as that for a moment. If the hon. Gentleman at some future date, or the Prime Minister when he replies to the debate, would like to quote the exact sentence in which that is explicit, many of my right hon. and hon. Friends would be surprised.

I make an essential point about the preservation of bipartisan policy. The Opposition cannot accept that bipartnership is the slavish support of the Government of the day in whatever they happen to think is right. Bipartisanship means that both parties, Government and Opposition, must pursue mutually agreed goals according to policies which are themselves mutually acceptable. Tonight I shall vote against two policies which are, in my terms, totally unacceptable.

First, I regard internment as wrong in principle. It has been demonstrably counter-productive in practice. The second policy involves distribution of power between Whitehall and Westminster on the one hand and the Government of Stormont on the other. Both these I criticise and regard as justification for a vote. They have crucially alienated the support of the law-abiding Catholic population in Northern Ireland. They are directly relevant to the point made by the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean). He knows infinitely more than I do about guerrilla warfare. It is almost an impertinence for me to say that the point he made which seemed to have the greatest force was the necessity for a guerrilla organisation to have a hinterland into which it can retire when things become difficult. What internment has meant is that the hinterland has been extended by the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and that many thousands of Catholic homes which were not open to gunmen before 9th August are now available to them.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As the hon. Gentleman asked for the exact reference, it is at the foot of column 1588 in the proposals of his Leader. After the party conference and after the constitution, the right hon. Gentleman then said: Third, internment would cease as soon as the necessary conditions exist for an improvement in confidence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1588.] No one can say that those conditions exist today.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I am sorry to develop this point, but the Prime Minister insists in interpreting the speech to meet his own terms, and suggesting that that point is the support of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for continuing a policy of internment. The right hon. Gentleman must read the speech as a whole, in its full context.

Whilst internment was a regrettable decision, and one which I would not support in normal circumstances, it cannot be ended—to use a phrase borrowed from my right hon. Friend—at a stroke of the pen. Therefore, we cannot free all the internees tomorrow. Nobody says that. Neither my right hon. Friend nor I say that. I am confirmed in my belief that the particular passage meant no more and no less by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan).

The Prime Minister has taken up a little of my time and I must continue. Before I explain the two points of disagreement, the shift of power from Westminster to Stormont and the inadequacy of the policy of internment, there are two matters about policies which join Government and Opposition. Those are the continued presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland and our general support—indeed admiration—for their conduct. I said a week ago and I repeat today, I deeply resent the suggestion of the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) that any criticism of Government policy is itself an attack on the Army. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of us believe that if the Government were acting in a more rational fashion the Army's job would be easier. I refer to the point of making Catholic homes available to insurgents in a way they were not available before the summer antagonisation. The constant repetition, which was all that we had from the Government Benches in the debate last Thursday, of our admiration for the Army is not a substitute for a policy in Northern Ireland. What we have to say about the Army unites it; but what we have to say about Northern Ireland policies does not.

Photo of Mr Stanley McMaster Mr Stanley McMaster , Belfast East

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, would he accept that there are fewer homes now open to the members of the I.R.A., that we have more information coming from those quarters than ever before, and that what the hon. Gentleman says is totally wrong? A year ago there were far more homes open to them than there are today.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I do not accept that for a moment.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

If the hon. Gentleman is telling the House that the law-abiding Catholics have not been antagonised to the point of alienation by the affairs of June, July and 9th August, he does not justify a moment's credibility for his opinions on Northern Ireland.

My second point concerns the transfer of influence and power from the Government at Westminster to the Government at Stormont. That movement is exemplified by three things. The first is internment itself. I do not propose to pursue the unhappy origin of internment, but everyone knows that it was Mr. Faulkner's policy for years before he became Prime Minister, and everyone knows that it was imposed on the Government by him.

Second, perhaps more flagrant, is the cratering of roads on the border, done at the suggestion of Mr. John Taylor, with virtually no military justification. The Army did not like it two years ago and does not like it now. That was a political decision.

Third, on the decision to interrogate in depth, a fortnight ago it was admitted that this decision was taken by Stormont Ministers, although that interrogation was supervised by British troops and was carried out on men interned by the Army.

Now we have a new example—perhaps the most flagrant of all—the flippant answer of the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr). My hon. Friend asked why security was not to be transferred from Stormont to Westminster. The Home Secretary said that that was the law.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I was asked why responsibility for security rested with Stormont. I said, "Because it is the law", and that is the fact at present. I said nothing about changing the law.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

That is the narrow legalistic fact. But there is another fact. Those who are basically responsible for security are British soldiers responsible to this House. Those who arrested internees are British soldiers responsible to this House. Those who supervised interrogation in depth are British soldiers responsible to this House. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that those risking their lives and losing their lives in Belfast are British soldiers responsible to this House. To shrug off responsibility for security in that flippant way seems to be little short of a disgrace—not only a disgrace, but deeply indicative of the Government's willingness to accept the dictates of Mr. Brian Faulkner and his Unionist Cabinet. I believe that some concessions have to be made to avoid direct rule. The Government have made far more concessions, however, than the House should accept. They have made far more concessions than I am prepared to accept or remotely support.

If the short-term solution is to be achieved before the solution which my right hon. Friend outlined comes about, a great deal more economic aid must be channelled into Northern Ireland. I am the first person to concede that since 1968 economic aid escalated under the Labour Government and has been further increased, under this Government, but I do not believe that it has expanded half as fast enough. Every Irish politician from Gratton through Parnell to Arthur Griffiths has talked as much about the economic difficulties of Northern Ireland as a result of policies which this House followed in the eighteenth and nineteeth centuries as he has talked about political freedom. Political freedom and economic prosperity have to go hand in hand.

We owe the Irish people a debt for our economic policies of 100, and indeed 200, years ago. We have to start paying it in terms of our moral obligation and in terms of getting the political and economic situation right.

Finally—and this attitude has permeated much of our debate—the Prime Minister must stop treating Stormont as if it were a sovereign power and the Prime Minister at Stormont as if he were Prime Minister of a sovereign nation. It is not a sovereign power and Mr. Faulkner is not Prime Minister of a sovereign nation. The right hon. Gentleman should stop negotiating with Mr. Faulkner as an equal. Stormont does not stand parallel to this House as a legislature. The right hon. Gentleman and the Home Secretary should exercise, one way or another, a great deal more control than they have done in the last 18 months. For that reason alone, if for no other, I would vote against the Government tonight.

5.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

After listening to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), I am surprised that he takes from the passage of the Leader of the Opposition's speech which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has quoted a rather different meaning about internment from that which the House takes. It seems that he has not done his homework in the thorough way he usually does. But, even if he did not take that meaning, he should have known the Leader of the Opposition's policy on this matter because when the right hon. Gentleman was pressed on this point in relation to the Special Powers Act in April, 1970 and it must be remembered that the situation had not escalated at all at that point to anything like the problem which had arisen before internment—he said that no Government—and he meant the Northern Ireland Government in particular could possibly be expected to do away with the Act, which contains the provisions for internment, in the circumstances prevailing at the time. The hon. Gentleman should have looked that passage up. If he does so, no doubt it will influence him tonight.

I begin with a few somewhat mildly offensive words. They concern the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley).

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that the procedure is that when an hon. Member is going to launch an attack on another hon. Member he should give notice to that hon. Member. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) has on no occasion since I have been a Member of this House had the courtesy to inform me that he was going to attack me.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

There is a problem. I had intended to give the hon. Gentleman notice this afternoon but I was told that he was lost in a fog, which is his customary posture. [HON. MEMBERS:" Others were here before him."] Others who had been caught in the fog were certainly here before him Apparently they got out a little earlier than he did.

Until recently, I would not have expected misrepresentation from behind a clerical collar, but I have learnt my lesson now, especially after hearing the way in which the hon. Gentleman dealt with the statement I made in answer to the Leader of the Opposition. This was used by the hon. Gentleman for home consumption on television to indicate that I was in some way or another in favour of a united Ireland. He knows the effect of that sort of statement at home. We ought to be used to instant politics from him, however. If he had heard the Leader of the Opposition—indeed, we might have expected him to be here on such an important occasion—he would have heard the speech and judged it more cautiously instead of delivering such calumnies against me. But, as I say we are used to his instant politics.

Not long ago we heard from the hon. Gentleman that the dreaded direct rule was about to be imposed. He frightened the community in Northern Ireland. He said that he had it from an unimpeachable source and on the highest authority. Where now is that source? Where is that authority? I am comforted by the fact that in the community of Northern Ireland an increasing number of people know just how to judge his prophesies.

After the Leader of the Opposition's speech, I said that I believed it to have been courageous, and I repeat that statement. It was courageous, if in certain respects more than somewhat misguided. He was, after all, attempting to carry his party in a bipartisan policy. I believe that for the sake of the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland, and in particular for the sake of the troops, that was the right policy to pursue. I regret the signs of it coming to an end.

There were parts of the right hon. Gentleman's speech with which my friends and I found ourselves very much in agreement. The first was that violence must be rooted out. We believe that before any long-term proposals can be coolly and rationally examined that must be the case. Obviously, as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, the troops must remain. Any one in his sane senses who has studied the situation would recognise that to be so. Naturally, we accept and totally agree with the reaffirmation of the Attlee pledge in the Downing Street Declaration of 1969. We agree that the Border cannot be changed by violence and that there can be no violent solution.

But I must come to a point which, sometime or another, must be stated in these arguments. It will cause no surprise to hon. Members, and it must be said clearly. I say frankly that the proposition in the right hon. Gentleman's speech leading to and involving united Ireland finds no favour with us—and that must be the understatement of the year. My hon. Friends and I and the large bulk of the people of Northern Ireland take that view.

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

This is a very important point. The Prime Minister said at Guildhall that a united Ireland, or the dream of a united Ireland, was a laudable belief for anyone to hold, in Ireland or here. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said precisely the same thing. Would not it help all the people of Northern Ireland if they understood clearly that eventually a united and peaceful Ireland was a possibility? Would it not be to the hon. Gentleman's credit, and to mine, to agree on that?

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend used the word "laudable", and it matters little. I share the sentiment. It is a legitimate aspiration for anyone, including the minority, to want to work towards a united Ireland. I cannot see what the hon. Gentleman is worried about in what I am saying. It is equally laudable to want something different, to want to remain part of the United Kingdom. I do not see why we should not work towards that, and that is the end to which we are working.

It may be that there are emotional reasons for a united Ireland. But no one has yet given me one reason which I regard as logical. To see why there is no really logical reason, one needs only look more closely at the 1½ million people making up the two distinct communities. They live, sometimes for one reason, sometimes for another, in different streets, often for preference; they often live in different districts. They go to separate schools. As the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) has commented sadly, they have a different history, a different cultural outlook. They even play different games, and they have a different ethic. One community originated with the Scots-English settlers, and the other conies from older waves of immigration into Ireland. The first category happens to be Protestant and the second Roman Catholic.

The Protestant majority happens to base its values on the Protestant ethic, with a strong belief in freedom of conscience in matters like marriage, divorce and contraception. It believes in freedom of education, and it has a strong belief in Sunday observance, restricted licensing and the rest—in all these matters and in aspects of art and literature. It is a fact that the Roman Catholic Community is wedded to the language and traditions of Dublin. When two such different cultures are side by side it is the classical recipe for strife. What I am saying is this—from the beginning the difference between the two communities has been as much a racial one as a religious one. I believe that the clue to knitting the two communities together—or rather the difficulty of knitting them together—can be found at least by looking at these things as readily in this country as in Northern Ireland itself.

Let us look at the immigrants from the Republic to Britain, and at the Northern Catholics who come from Ulster to Britain. There is an interesting point. When they come here they do not lose their identity. They are usually readily identifiable by the kind of institutions they found and use—their Irish clubs, particular public houses which they frequent; latterly, even by the newspapers they read. That is the experience of many hon. Members. They congregate—and I could make a political point here if I wished—in particular areas. What happens to the Northern Protestants who come here? There are many thousands of them, yet we do not really know where they are? Why? It is because they assimilate, except in one or two areas, so much more easily into this community. They feel an identity, indeed they have an identity, with the people of this country.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

This is a very important point. In my constituency, there has been a large measure of Irish immigration going back two or three generations. They are now assimilated, and I cannot tell the difference between immigrants from the Republic and Protestant immigrants from Northern Ireland. In either case, if they are working class, they will both be supporting the Labour Party in all probability, although there is a chance that they could support the Conservative Party. They have moved away from the ghetto situation as the slums and the ghetto conditions have been cleared. For the hon. Gentleman to say that the division is perpetrated in this country is nonsense. The fact is that the religious divisions do not exist here—thank God—and we must prevent them from doing so.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

I have not said that anything was perpetrated in this country. I was stating what I believe to be the facts of the situation. Many of my hon. Friends agree that these are the facts. If the hon. Gentleman is so fortunate to have found assimilation so easily in his constituency, I am delighted, but I have noticed that he does not forget about the Irish immigrants in his constituency. I have noticed that over the last few years.

I was talking about the Northern Protestants. These are the majority in Northern Ireland. They are essentially British. One may ask whether it would be a practical proposition to merge them into Southern Ireland. If one asks that question, one gets the other question, "Why does the Republic have so little trouble with its minority?" The question needs answering, and I believe that the answer is two-fold. First, the minority is so small, being only about 6 per cent., and I do not believe that one gets great trouble with minorities until the proportion reaches, say, about 20 per cent. Secondly, by and large in the Republic the minority consists of the Anglo-Irish. I do not wish to offend anyone, and I do not say this in any pejorative sense, but the point is that the Anglo-Irish in the South take what some might call a broader view of matters of life than do the Calvinist Presbyterians and so one gets considerably less trouble in the South upon that score.

Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien has been quoted often. When asked about the possibility in the foreseeable future of urging unity, he said that it would be to create in reverse in the South the problems which now exist in the North, because there was no hope of obtaining peace by offering instead of a solution unacceptable to one-third of the population in the area, a solution unacceptable to two thirds of these. I must make it plain that the proposition of a united Ireland is something that we would resist with all constitutional means open to us. We believe—and it is a perfectly sincere and earnestly-held belief—that even discussion of it at this time would be dangerous. That is one of the limitations one must work under.

Is what I have been saying about racial integration an argument for total integration of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom? The answer here must be, "No", for the foreseeable future. That simply at present does not bear discussion, not while the I.R.A. dictates, or tries to dictate, terms and use it as a kind of leverage for a united Ireland. The first object must be to crush the I.R.A. and expose the futility of violence.

It is no secret to my hon. Friends that in the past I have had a good deal of sympathy for the idea of the integration of Northern Ireland with the United Kingdom. If means could be found, I would not oppose the exchange of the guarantees in the 1949 Act for a meaningful guarantee which would be virtually irreversible, by all parties in this House. One must face the fact that if that had come about years before the troubles arose in 1968 we would not be in the terrible position we are in today.

Photo of Captain Walter Elliot Captain Walter Elliot , Carshalton

I am interested in my hon. Friend's argument about integration of the North and the South. I do not want to sound farfetched or facetious in any way, but many of us look on the whole of Ireland as part of the British Isles—I do not say part of the United Kingdom. Does my hon. Friend feel that, if we go into the Common Market, with Eire, this might have an effect eventually?

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

I was talking about integration into Britain, and my hon. and gallant Friend has mistaken my point. As far as integration into Britain at present is concerned, the majority are too frightened. I do not say this offensively to any section of this House, but they do not believe in any so-called lasting guarantees.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

It may be a shame, and I agree, but it is a fact of life. For all that, it is something which in the long term should be tackled—to try to integrate what, after all, are British people into Britain. But to do so we have to have guarantees like cement. We have to demonstrate that we mean what we say. It need not be as difficult a task as many of my hon. Friends imagine. After all, if the dissenting minority is to be convinced that the British way of life is better than any alternative, it is perhaps the best way to go about it.

A survey conducted by Professor Rose some time ago recorded that 33 per cent. of the minority in Northern Ireland were actually in favour of union with this country. That is worth remembering. Admittedly, 34 per cent. were against. But, much more interesting, 32 per cent. were "don't knows", which indicates that at that time at least, whatever may have happened since—although some of this is still true—there was a middle ground which could have been worked on and influenced. But integration is out for the moment. It is only discussable when the people of Northern Ireland think that we in this Chamber mean it as a lasting place for them and not just as a palliative, before being handed over to the republic, which is a fear among them which we may as well acknowledge.

As I said in September, the basic situation is that we shall have to get the gunmen out of Northern Ireland. For the sake of détente within the existing borders of Northern Ireland, I believe that if we can we should talk with anyone—anyone, that is, who does not believe in a violent solution. We can talk about old institutions being looked at again, about "revamping" them, and we can even talk about new ones, with the Home Secretary as the honest broker in the middle. The Leader of the Opposition acknowledged the reforms and changes which have been made in recent years and which will enable the minority to take part in public life. I passionately believe in all those reforms which have been brought in.

It is said that the changes are inadequate and that they do not function. But one is entitled to ask: have they ever been given a chance? The Leader of the Opposition reminded us of Mr. Faulkner's proposals of a parliamentary committee, with key chairmanships for minority members, which were welcomed at the time by the S.D.L.P. He reminded us that they left Parliament as stated for quite another reason. These proposals were not to be taken just on their own. They followed a very large programme of other legislation, including franchise modernisation, which we were constantly told by the S.D.L.P. was the very kernel of the trouble in Northern Ireland.

Neither the S.D.L.P. nor many of its supporters have been willing to examine the long-term effects of minority participation in this very great variety of new approaches. Nor have they been willing to give credit to the change of attitudes on the part of the majority in Northern Ireland which their implementation represents. Look at the new district councils. Those will provide many more opportunities for participation. So will the area boards. If the proposition goes through, the size of the House of Commons and the Senate, which is going to be enlarged, will provide more opportunities. Mr. Faulkner himself, on his recent appointment to the Cabinet in Northern Ireland, has shown yet another opportunity.

But most important of all the opportunities are the functional committees, which are really quite unprecedented. Certainly there is nothing like them in this country. I do not believe their uniqueness has been recognised by hon. Members opposite, nor have they given credit for the proposition. Short of the Cabinet itself, there should not now be any post in Northern Ireland which a member of the minority, even one who actually opposes the State in which he lives, cannot take if he is willing to take it. I wonder in what other country is that the case?

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

What about Harland and Woolf?

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. He usually makes better contributions than that.

Have the reforms been tried? If not, can anyone say that they have really been found wanting? Have the minority themselves been given a chance to try out the reforms? Of course they have not. That is the point. One side of this House will say that that is because of internment, and we on this side of the House may say it is because of intimidation. It does not really matter which it is. The eventual solution can only be found after the intimidation is removed and then internment ended as speedily as possible. Then the solution must come about by agreement within Northern Ireland if it is to be a lasting and real solution.

Here I find myself strangely at one with the leader of the S.D.L.P., the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), whom I do not see here at the moment. He said some time back "that Stormont is the only institution that can bring about reform in Northern Ireland". With all its shortcomings, it is Stormont that can bring about that solution in the end. If I were able, I would say to the minority in Northern Ireland that the majority's attitude has changed. What the majority is now waiting for is a sign from the minority that theirs has, too. "It is easy enough", I would say to the minority, "to excuse your silence now, in the shadow of the gunmen, but unless your leaders are prepared to stand up and talk we shall all become the victims of the gunman as we watch the tragic spectacle of your community sliding further and further into anarchy."

I have given some of the reasons why one of the main propositions in the right hon. Gentleman's speech last Thursday must be, so far as we are concerned, one for rejection. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) gave others on Thursday night. It is not easy in the present situation to put forward new and constructive ideas. It is also sometimes necessary to be firmly negative.

So, I must conclude by making it absolutely clear that the one issue of a united Ireland and the discussion leading to it is something on which we cannot and will not compromise. I speak for my hon. Friends in the Unionist Party on this matter. Let it be plainly understood that if this argument is pushed forward it will be dangerous, and, for our part, it will be met with unrelieved, unrelenting and unending opposition.

5.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Russell Johnston Mr Russell Johnston , Inverness

Despite the speech of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark), I am afraid that I consider, as do other hon. Members, that the genesis of this horrible situation in Northern Ireland lies not in a particular proportion of the minority but in the treatment which the majority gave to the minority over many years. Despite what the hon. Gentleman says about his passionate belief in the reforms which have been introduced, I remember that when the solitary Liberal was in Stormont, Sheila Murnaghan, for four successive years she introduced a Bill of Human Rights, and the degree of passionate support of those rights which she derived from the Unionist benches was one abstention on one occasion and no support at all.

The hon. Gentleman cannot say, in spite of his interesting arguments on the racial, religious and deep-rooted differences between groups, that the genesis of this horrible situation lies other than in the fact that the majority, for whatever reasons, did not treat the minority as it should have done, and eventually the minority inevitably reacted against it.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

The hon Gentleman was talking about Stormont. It is, of course, very easy to make assertions of 50 years of misrule and injustice. As in all these statements, there is something in that. But it is also easy, although I think unprofitable, to talk about 50 years of negative and unco-operative opposition when there were so many occasions when members of the minority with a sense of responsibility wished to come forward and take part in public life and they were so ill treated as a result of their willingness by their own co-religionists that it was impossible for them to continue. I can give the hon. Gentleman in private several leading examples; indeed, I have done so in public.

Photo of Mr Russell Johnston Mr Russell Johnston , Inverness

I doubt whether there is any profit in our continuing this particular argument now.

Before turning to the specific point which the Home Secretary made at the beginning of his speech, I should like the Home Secretary's reaction on one matter. He inevitably dealt for a large part of his speech with the speech of the Leader of the Opposition on Thursday and with the particular initiatives that he proposed. I want specifically to ask about what he said in reaction to the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition for all-party discussions here and in Stormont. He said, as I understand, that he welcomed both these initiatives. I think I am correct in saying that. Certainly on these benches that is of considerable importance in determining what we may do tonight.

I will go into this in more detail later, but I want to be clear about the basis on which one is operating. I do not think the best way to begin all-party discussions is to divide. But I want to be clear that all-party discussions are intended. I will give way to the Home Secretary if he feels that I have in any way misrepresented him in what he said at the beginning of the debate, although I do not think I did.

I turn now to the Leader of the Opposition's initiatives, which I regard as undoubtedly the most important move made in this whole business in recent months, or, perhaps, even year. I go along with what was said by the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) about the significance of his right hon. Friend's speech.

There were, I think, three matters in particular in the Leader of the Opposition's speech which Liberals would welcome. First, there was his statement that there would be no question of withdrawal of British troops for so long as they were necessary. I think that we are all agreed about that. Second—again, despite what was said by the hon. Member for Londonderry—there was the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that practical steps be now taken to consider just what would be involved in unification, without necessarily in any way breaching the principle of majority consent. We would regard that as a good move which might open the way to a fruitful discussion—the word is not "dialogue"—on this question. Third, the proposal that responsibility for security be clearly removed to Westminster is one on which we would lay stress.

The points upon which Liberals would, perhaps, lay more stress than did the Leader of the Opposition are these. In the first place, we wish to see repeal of the Special Powers Act. I shall not go over the argument that we have had so many times. I think that internment was inevitable. We have already had an argument about what the Leader of the Opposition meant, and I shall not quote his words again, but I thought that in his speech on Thursday the right hon. Gentleman recognised that those who are presently interned cannot just be released. I regard as valuable the suggestion by Mr. Conor Cruse O'Brien, which was touched on by the right hon. Member for Dundee, East. None of us likes internment, none of us wants this sort of situation to prevail, but a judicial committee sitting in camera might offer a way of letting people out more quickly than seems possible at the moment, since one cannot, for the reasons which have already been gone into, institute the normal kind of criminal proceedings one would otherwise wish to see.

I cannot, however, understand quite what the right hon. Member for Dundee, East meant with reference to the Opposition Motion. The crux of the Motion is the question of internment, and, certainly, his references to that generated the greatest degree of sympathetic noise from the benches behind. Yet I cannot see how we can get out of this situation now unless some such suggestion as that made by Conor Cruse O'Brien, commented on by the right hon. Member for Dundee, East, is taken up, and the point must surely be fairly given to the Home Secretary that, in his general observations regarding the basis of all-party discussions, he clearly showed that he was prepared—he repeated it more than once—to look carefully at and to discuss any possible solution. I hope that we may take it that he would not exclude such a proposal but look urgently at it, urgency being a vital ingredient of the exercise.

If we are prepared to deal with internment in that way, however, recognising that it will continue for a time, we must remove for the future the Special Powers Act provisions which are so deeply resented by many people.

Second, there was a lack of firm commitment in what the Leader of the Opposition said about proportional representation. The hon. Member for Londonderry reminded us that the Protestant minority in Southern Ireland is small, about 6 per cent. Yet it is a fact, I believe, that there has been a Protestant Minister in practically every Government of Eire since its independence after the First World War. It is extremely important that a method of enabling the minorities to be effectively represented—this is of special significance in local government—be introduced as soon as possible.

There have been many references to the need to have Catholic representation in the Stormont Government, and Catholic representation not chosen by the Gov-ernment but elected by the Opposition. This is important. It is no good saying, "Let us have a tame Catholic nominee". We must have someone whom the Oppo sition elects, since only in that way can we create a situation in which the minority can have some commitment to Stormont, an involvement in Stormont, and a feeling of trust in Stormont, for trust is the great thing absent today. One thinks in this connection of Switzerland, for example, where there are deep linguistic and national differences but where such a system is operated with remarkable success.

I have no wish to impinge too much upon the time of hon. Members who are heavily concerned in Northern Ireland's affairs, so I shall be as brief as I can. I come now, therefore, in conclusion to the constitutional question, to call it that. The Home Secretary recalled that a suggestion had been made for periodic referenda. I do not like the referendum as a method for reaching decisions. By and large, it is a bad method, in my view. Nevertheless, political circumstances may always arise which lead one to set aside a general principle which one otherwise holds.

The great trouble with successive elections to Stormont and indeed to this House from Northern Ireland is that each becomes in itself a referendum on the Border. The Unionist Party says, "We are the only ones you can really rely on to keep the Border. Forget all about the gradations of political opinion which you or we may hold. We are the chaps to keep the Border, so elect us". It is difficult, therefore, for the moderate voice to express itself. [Interruption.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to frown and murmur. The drift of Prime Ministers from O'Neill onwards has not been a drift to the Left; it has been a drift to the Right as pressures forced each leader out.

The great problem is to isolate the constitutional issue from the normal elections. Therefore, if one could say that the constitutional future of Northern Ireland would be determined by a referendum, this would allow a great deal more flexibility in elections to Stormont, and it is flexibility in elections to Stormont which is so necessary, for gentlemen like the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) have exerted considerable influence and considerable pressure upon Unionists who have but seldom dissented from such views themselves and who only recently felt able at all then to take up the views which the hon. Member expresses, as the hon. Member for Londonderry did today.

It is a sad and sorry business, but we must not give up hope. Provided that the Home Secretary responds as I hope he will, to the questions which I have asked. I should recommend to my right hon. and hon. Friends on this bench that we abstain rather than be involved in a direct breach vote at this stage when there is hope, largely due to the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition, of a new move and a new attempt to bring peace to this sorry Province.

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Derek Coombs Mr Derek Coombs , Birmingham, Yardley

I am sure that most hon. Members will agree that the history of Northern Ireland is certainly not a creditable chapter in the annals of British history. Successive British Governments must accept their responsibility for decades of injustice and inactivity. Since 1965 we have witnessed the mishandling of a very delicate situation, a catalogue of errors either in an inability to comprehend that grievances existed or in a belief in the early years—this was the critical period, which the Opposition would do well to remember—that it was better to leave what superficially seemed to be well alone.

One dislikes now apportioning blame between respective Governments, but both parties should acknowledge their responsibities for what has happened and express their determination to profit from it. It would be equally unfair to suggest that the fault lies only at Westminster, for no side—Dublin, Belfast or London—can escape blame for this disease. Ireland is a haemophiliac country where scars not only do not heal but are passed on, through the mother it is said, from generation to generation. The view which sees the North of Ireland as the last stronghold of a Protestant garrison continually resisting the struggle of the Irish nation towards full independence can be misleading. There is an ever present temptation—I know, for I have indulged in it myself—to explain the very complex forces which mould the political life of Ulster in terms of false simplicity.

As Winston Churchill once said, great empires have been overturned, the whole map of Europe has been changed, the mood and thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs, the grouping of parties, all have encountered violence and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world, but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall, we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that have been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world. It has still not been altered Even now, in an utterly changed world, the splinter of the Irish bone remains in the English throat.

But solution there must be, and now more than ever both moderate Catholic and Protestant people need to stand up and be counted. They now need the will to control their own extremists difficult and dangerous though this may be. The Provisionals in a bizarre fashion, associate themselves with civil rights. If it is a civil right to become an executioner, acting against the law and against the long-term interests of all in Ireland, then the gunmen of the Provisionals uphold civil rights.

But the bloodshed in Northern Ireland cannot be stopped by simple condemnations or simply by wishing it away. I believe that alongside security measures there must be some new political initiatives. Having said that, one is not suggesting that there is an easy solution, or that our Government are not constantly seeking to find one. But I do believe that sometimes back benchers can take initiatives on their own account which Ministers would find it impossible to do, and for this reason I feel that our trip might have served some useful purpose.

I turn now to the Irish Government in Dublin. They know full well that any form of unity is totally unrealistic without the ultimate consent of the majority in Ulster, and Dublin realises that this consent can never be secured without first establishing stability in the Province. The Government of Ireland, like the Catholic Church, is in a quandry. On the one hand, it condemns violence, and yet it is deeply and emotionally affected by the difficulties of the Catholics in the North.

All the main political parties in the South are, broadly speaking, totally opposed to the Provisionals, and even the I.R.A. is divided within itself. They all know that a terrorist victory in the North would be just as disastrous for them as it would be for the Protestants. Ironically, it could conceivably well start as civil war in the South setting Catholic against Catholic, Provisional against Official and then dangerously engulf the Irish Government itself.

The political wing of the official I.R.A., Sinn Fein, is now a registered party and is seeking representation in the Dâil, but it is not likely to claim much support. Why, then, the difficulty? The answer lies in the fact that while the Irish Government themselves cannot act, the Provisionals can and do. The Irish Government condemn these men, but cannot as yet move against them because—and this we must try to understand—for them to do so would be to deny the Catholics in the ghettos their moral support, which to many would seem like a betrayal of the Republic's very existence.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Bradford West

Is my hon. Friend saying that unless the Government in Dublin give overt or tacit support to the activities of the Provisionals in the I.R.A., they will not be judged by their compatriots to be sympathetic to the lawful aspirations of the Catholics in the North of Ireland? It so, it is an extraordinary statement.

Photo of Mr Derek Coombs Mr Derek Coombs , Birmingham, Yardley

Regretfully, I am saying that. I think that it is wrong and, while I sympathise with their problems, I cannot agree with them. For I do not believe—and this answers my hon. Friend—that they serve their real interests or the long-term interests of Ireland in this way. They must measure their actions very carefully, otherwise they themselves will come to bear as much responsibility for denying civil rights to the Catholics in the North as any reactionary Protestant Parliament in Stormont. Incidentally, the I.R.A., as we all know, is divided into several separate groups. I think four in all, but whichever faction within the generic term, I.R.A., they must be made to realise that they can never hope to achieve a united Ireland with a alienated Protestant population.

We must ask ourselves why the Catholics rejected the Provisionals from 1956 to 1962 and why they have accepted them now. Any responsible person will acknowledge that the Catholics have had a raw deal in the past. They have been virtually disenfranchised which successive Governments, both Labour and Conservative, have failed to understand and deal with. The Labour Government did nothing for four years when civil rights reared its head, and reacted only when they had no other choice. Reforms have always come too late and Protestantism is still identified with racial ascendancy. For the people in the Bogside and the Falls the terrorist Provisional has become a kind of vigilante protecting them not only from the British Army, but also, lest we forget, from the Protestants. This is what we must try to break down.

But what of the Ulster Government? It is about time they recognised that their bigotry, stemming no doubt from a deep sense of insecurity, has given rise to the present situation. That their insensitivity has forced moderate people through sheer frustration to be associated with professional killers whose methods would normally be totally alien to them. Their allegiance to the Crown cannot be based on the hollow creed, "You have our support provided you in turn endorse our sectarian rule."

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

As a Catholic of Irish descent, whose family has lived in this country for generations, I must take the hon. Gentleman to task. What support has he for his opinion that Catholics are lending themselves to killers? Has he not heard of the overwhelming condemnation by Catholic authorities of the killing and of the views of millions of people like myself in this country who want nothing to do with the I.R.A.?

Photo of Mr Derek Coombs Mr Derek Coombs , Birmingham, Yardley

The hon. Gentleman has entirely missed my point. I am saying that they have been forced into the position where, whether they like it or not, willy they become associated with the Provisionals, where the Provisionals have become their custodians, and this is what we have to face.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. I hope that there will not be too many interruptions, for there are very many hon. Members who wish to speak.

Photo of Mr Derek Coombs Mr Derek Coombs , Birmingham, Yardley

I know that there are many who feel that Stormont will never offer any meaningful participation and that direct rule is the only recourse. I tend to share this view, but, on the other hand, I feel that there are men of good will on both sides and that Protestant good will can be tested only provided that talks begin. I do not believe that any British Government, of whichever party, is likely to allow direct rule until it is conclusively proved, after negotiation, that moderate opinion on both sides is unable to reach agreement, and this must be put to the test.

The I.R.A., using the term generically, must be restricted in its power of decision, because it is too committed to unworkable propositions with force as its only platform. However, there is an emotional power source at this moment of time and withdrawal must be accompanied by a reason that is both visible and popularly acceptable. Paradoxically, the credibility of our British Army units in Catholic eyes can only be bolstered by our supplying that reason, and a sufficiently acceptable one at that, which, like justice, must be seen to be right and patently motivated to take the hate out of the crisis.

What is required is a gesture from both Westminster and Stormont of unanticipated magnanimity, or the professional will stay on the streets, using the threat implied by rumour or uninvestigated allegations, and our soldiers will continue to die. In consequence of a reason that can be observed and understood, there would follow as a sequence an elevation of Protestant and Catholic confrontation to a plateau where dialogue rather than bullets dictated the issues of order and justice.

We in London, Birmingham, Leeds and elsewhere can talk in detail about an hour, a day, or an incident in the middle of last week, but the Irish of Cork, Galway and the Bogside can talk of 50 years ago as if it were last week. Perhaps the curse of a long memory in this age of shorthand communication is at rock bottom a burdensome thing; but so is the Bourbon malady of learning nothing and forgetting nothing.

Let there be no mistake about it—the intention of the Provisionals is to reduce to rubble the economic potential of Northern Ireland by undermining its social and industrial fabric. The function of the terrorist is to render Government impossible, but their hold over the Catholic community cannot be replaced by simple force. Our Army cannot answer this on its own; it cannot succeed because the answers are in the no-go enclaves and on the streets.

However, to confine the problem to a Northern Ireland context is obviously an evasion of the causes of the conflict. That is why I welcomed the recent meeting of the three Prime Ministers and also some of the new proposals by the Leader of the Opposition, for attempts directed only at curing the effects and not the causes can lead to nothing but further division and hate. The practical problem is: how to isolate the extremists? It is to our shame that we have avoided this issue and have not sat round the table like civilised beings years ago and discussed it in a rational and constructive manner. It is my firm conviction that if this community of interests between the people of our two islands had been adopted by Westminster, Dublin and Belfast, all the other problems would appear to be soluble now.

Therefore, my first request is this—that we call together immediately a conference of representatives of Government and Opposition parties from Westminster, Dublin and Belfast to study the community of interests between our two islands and in this context to work out an agreed solution to the Northern Ireland situation on a realistic and compassionate basis. In this I am not echoing the new proposals of the Leader of the Opposition, for, much as I would like to see a united Ireland, I feel that he has rather impulsively pitched his starting point too high. Certainly his original plan for talks was not successful because it did not specify a precise agenda, but, at the other extreme, we are not likely to get a constitutional discussion moving straight away. It would therefore seem infinitely more practical to start a dialogue rather more modestly on social and economic co-operation, this to be held at Ministerial level, bringing in, of course, the Opposition parties. I believe that this could well prove acceptable to both North and South and produce significant gains in all fields.

The way to stop the Provisionals is not just by military means, but by isolating them from the country from which they draw their support. A conference of this kind could well establish that good will and provide that means. At that stage, should the bombing or shooting campaign continue, the Dublin and Belfast Governments might well decide themselves actively to co-operate on both sides of the border against it.

Most people, whether north or south of the Border, know that a united Ireland can be achieved only through constitutional means which can be expressed either through Ulster's elected representatives, as in the 1949 Act, or provided that it is the wish of the majority of the people living there. The S.D.L.P. leaders must realise that talks are essential and that, by refusing to talk until internment is finished, unwittingly they are delaying the end of internment.

At the same time, it would be wrong for Mr. Faulkner to reject good men in his Cabinet simply because they believe in the ultimate reunification of Ireland, which could take place at some future date or not at all. Equally, these good men, too, should express their belief that their ideal can be accomplished only with the overwhelming will of the people of Northern Ireland, and not otherwise. In the meantime, let them all work together for the sake of the present. Let them strive to establish peace and goodwill between all citizens, and leave their successors and future generations to agree on what should be the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Catholics are not asking to dominate the Northern Ireland Parliament. I do not believe that they are seeking even a 50/50 basis because, in practical terms, that would not be representative. What I think they desire is total equality guaranteed by some say in Government at decision-making level. This seems to me to be both eminently fair and reasonable, and will, I hope, be supported by both sides of this House.

One suggestion that I would make, separate from changes in the Stormont Administration, refer to local government in Northern Ireland dealing with people at grass roots level. To begin with, we should recognise that votes in the foreseeable future will be cast on a sectarian basis and that this state of affairs will not be changed in the immediate term by trying to pretend otherwise. In short, we should acknowledge it and come to terms with it.

My proposition is simply in every local government election there should be a minimum of four candidates, two Catholics and two Protestants, and that each elector should vote for two people, one of whom must be Protestant and one of whom must be Catholic. Automatically, therefore, Catholics and Protestants would have an equal balance in local government regardless of whether the area was Protestant or Catholic-dominated. Catholics would be competing against each other to obtain the Protestant vote just as much as Protestants would be competing to obtain the Catholic vote, which would be highly desirable. Needless to say, whether a person cast a second vote would be immaterial. It would mean simply a lower poll for second choice, but still the same proportional representation would apply.

Such an arrangement need only operate for a period of, say, five or 10 years, but to my mind it would be the catalyst whereby religious barriers were eventually broken down and normal political attitudes developed. I realise that this is an unusual suggestion, but we are dealing with a unique situation which cannot be handled by strictly conventional means. I am sure that it would not be beyond the wit of the legislators to incorporate this in the new Local Government Bill, covering the 26 districts for the 1972 elections. Obviously, this would be totally unworkable at Stormont level, which must be reorganised on a different basis. What is more, it would not in any way affect Westminster representation. However, I believe that it would go a long way locally, which is most important to bring the two communities closer together.

The rights of the majority as well as of the minority have to be protected. Therefore, we reach three conclusions. The first is that Mr. Faulkner should ignore the extreme elements in his party, recognise the realities, and do what I am sure Lord O'Neill would have done—offer a hand of friendship, for, in practical terms, only he can do it.

Secondly, the moderate Catholic leaders, many of whom are losing their influence, must be helped back into the fold by Mr. Faulkner, and they in turn, must be willing to come not on sell-out terms but on terms that offer genuine justice to the Catholic communities.

Thirdly, as a gesture of goodwill by the British Government, further internment, not arms searches, should cease for a short period to see whether a genuine dialogue can begin. This war will never be resolved on a purely military basis, it never can be, and I hope that it was not conceived in that way. If this fails, one is left with implacable hatred, and many more lives will be lost needlessly which otherwise could have been saved. In the final analysis, we shall come back to a solution of this kind, whether we like it or not.

This is the time for moderate leaders from both Catholic and Protestant communities to declare themselves to put forward new proposals which will allow a breathing-space for talks to begin and for political initiatives to develop. This could well be the last chance. Concessions will have to be made from both sides, with Stormont representing not a citadel of hatred but a citadel of democracy and justice which is concerned with the interests of all citizens throughout Northern Ireland. The goodwill and serious intent of both sides can be judged only by the outcome of these talks.

There must be a means of maintaining a constitutional framework within Northern Ireland which is acceptable to both Protestant and Catholic alike, but it does require reasoned men with open minds and open hearts. Whether courageous leaders of such calibre exist, neither seeking nor demanding total surrender from one side or the other, is the acid test. What is certain is that, if their voices are not heard soon, they will not be heard at all.

6.22 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Coombs) made a competent and courageous speech, though I feel that he spoiled it towards the end by trying to dot too many i's and cross too many t's. Nevertheless, we on this side of the House recognise the sincerity with which he expressed his views.

The reason why I intervene in this debate is that I was in Belfast all day on Friday of last week. I was in that city immediately following the debates in this House. Anyone who has been to Belfast recently has no desire to make party political points. It is a city which, in parts, is bleeding to death. I was appalled by what I saw in certain parts of the city. I had the opportunity to travel through the Falls Road area and the Ballymurphy estate, where I found a sense of total despair, and where no one knows what to do about the situation. Incidentally, if I had been in College Square 10 minutes earlier than I was, Mr. Speaker, you would have been shortly issuing a Writ for a by-election in my constituency.

When the bombs explode and one sees the problem that the average citizen faces, one realises deeply the despair of Northern Ireland. As one goes along the Falls Road and through the Ballymurphy Estate, there are no lights. The lamp standards are bruised, battered and hanging over. The cables are hanging loose. There is no public transport, because the Corporation does not allow buses to travel down those streets and its bus drivers do not and cannot drive their buses there, anyway. One feels that here is part of a city which is almost without hope, and is full of intimidation and fear.

I wish to say unreservedly that hon. Members on this side of the House should condemn the activities of the I.R.A. There can be no excuse for those who seek to maim or kill innocent people or destroy public buildings. However, it should be made clear that it is not true that all Catholics support the I.R.A. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) said, they do not. In many instances, they are frightened to condemn—

Photo of Mr Derek Coombs Mr Derek Coombs , Birmingham, Yardley

When the hon. Gentleman comes to read my speech, I do not think he will find that I said that at all. I said that the Catholics had been forced into an invidious position where basically they were frightened and intimidated by the I.R.A. I do not think that they find their position any more tenable than hon. Members do.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

I was not referring to the hon. Gentleman's speech when I said that. I was putting forward my own opinion based on what I saw and heard during my visit and on what I have heard in recent months.

When I was in Belfast, I heard of examples which came not from Irish people, north or south of the Border, but from English people running factories in the Province. They gave the examples of some of the I.R.A.'s activities. They told me how Catholic people were taken from a works because they had informed on the I.R.A. Having had their kneecaps broken, they finished up on the doorsteps of the works from which they had been taken. Activities of that sort are evil and are to be condemned. However, they are no more evil than some of the atrocities and brutalities committed by the Ulster Volunteer Forces. There is evil on both sides.

I condemn all violence. I believe that a peaceful, just and rightful settlement can never be achieved by violent means. However, unlike some of my hon. Friends. I do not condemn internment as such. I felt that it was a necessary step to safeguard the lives of innocent people. What I say about internment is that those who are interned have the right to be brought to trial charged with whatever crime they are suspected of perpetrating, within a few days of being picked up. I take the view that imprisoning people without trial is a total negation of human rights.

Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is characteristic that internment is of a one-sided character?

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

I am prepared to say that if there are people on the Protestant or Catholic sides who are suspected of or likely to perform acts of atrocity, the security forces have every right to take those people and hold them. Once they are held, however, be they Roman Catholic or Protestant, they have the right to be charged with the crimes that they are supposed to have committed.

In Belfast, I saw the tension under which our forces are operating. It has to be seen to be believed. Our troops in Belfast are living virtually on their nerves. Unless something is done soon by this Government, the Army will be forced, with every justification, into reacting to the accusations made against them. This will not be good, either for the Province or for the British Army.

The tragedy is that British troops were sent in to maintain law and order and to protect the minority against the majority. Today, our soldiers are looked upon as the tools of a reactionary Stormont Government. It is time that the British Government spelled out their policy towards Northern Ireland more clearly than anything we have heard so far today.

Like many other hon. Members, I am sick and tired of listening to arguments about battles which were won and lost 60 years ago and even 300 years ago. It is time to put those behind us. We must recognise that, whatever our religious beliefs, we are human beings and we should be able to live side by side with each other.

As I see it, the Stormont Government were forced to make certain concessions and reforms as a result of violence. The net result is that people in Northern Ireland now regard violence as one of the answers to their problems. What the Stormont Government have done, or promised to do, is too little and too late. I think that they recognise these facts themselves. On Friday afternoon, I spoke to Mr. Kenneth Bloomfield, who is Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet. I think that he accepts that something has to be done.

I come now to one or two suggestions. I think that what Her Majesty's Government should do is to persuade Mr. Faulkner, to begin with, to try to bring the communities together. One way might be by asking the Churches of the two communities to unite and to preach peace instead of hate, and law and order instead of disorder. If there is any authority left in either of the Churches, we should try to get their leaders together and persuade them to knock out between themselves some kind of agreed policy. Above all, we should persuade them to stand between the opposing forces. When young children of eight, nine, ten or eleven throw stones, bricks and nail bombs, I should like to see an army of priests or ministers standing between them and the soldiers instead of inculcating hatred in the minds of young people. If we profess to be Christians then let us act like Christians. It would be a pleasant change. The message from Mr. Bloomfield, Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet at Stormont is plain: he is telling the Opposition parties in Stormont to sit down and talk. He gave me an assurance that if the Opposition parties at Stormont would talk, then internment and all the injustices which they rightly accuse the Stormont Government of perpetrating could be items one and two on the agenda.

For goodness' sake, let us ask those people in opposition, distinguished people, important people, practical people, to go back to the place to which they were democratically elected, sit round a table and hammer out some policy. I believe and hope that one day Ireland will be united. I want that to happen. It may be that it will be united within the context of a United Europe. Whether or not that comes about, Ireland can never be united by violence, but only by the democratic will of people, north and south of the Border.

Before that happens, it is, as the Leader of the Opposition said, crucial and vital that law and order should be restored in Northern Ireland. I do not believe that the problems of Ulster will be solved by extremists on either side; they will be solved by rational people, moderates and not revolutionaries.

On Friday last I was in a Protestant household where they told me that they have lived for years in peace with their Catholic neighbours. It was only when suddenly The Red Lion public house was blown up at the end of the road and they found friends of theirs in hospital with 100 stitches in their faces that they felt tempted to become extremists. This is what is happening all the time.

What do we mean when talking about a minority in Northern Ireland? One thing must be spelled out. All Catholics are not nationalists and all nationalists are not Catholics. There are Catholics who wish to remain in the United Kingdom and equally there are Protestants who would prefer a united Ireland. We must understand that when we are talking about a minority, we are talking in many instances about the nationalist minority as against the Catholic one.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Perhaps that argument might have been true only months ago. But did my hon. Friend find anyone on the Catholic side who was not a nationalist or anyone on the Protestant side who was not a Unionist?

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

Yes. I spoke to both Catholic and Protestant and some people said that they believed in a united Ireland provided that Ireland entered the Commonwealth. That is open to argument. Some Catholics have said that because of the I.R.A. they wished to remain under the protection of the United Kingdom. I take the view that the minority is entitled to argue its rights, but it has no right to inflict suffering and hardship on the people of Northern Ireland.

The argument has been advanced that there should be an end to bipartisanship. I hope that whatever the vote it is possible, that we shall be able to speak with a united voice of the Westminster Government and that we can go to Mr. Faulkner's Government and speak to him and to the Opposition parties and also to the Government of the Irish Republic. Just as I believe that Mr. Faulkner's Government must grant the elementary basic rights to the Catholics of Northern Ireland, which they have for so long been denied, so Mr. Lynch must be prepared to consider and talk about the proposals outlined in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. More than that, he must be prepared to condemn unreservedly the activities of the I.R.A.

Ireland must not be united over dead bodies, neither those of the soldiers nor the citizens of North or South, Catholic or Protestant, but by the mutual desires of people from both sides. The agony of Belfast must be ended. We are not talking about an academic problem but about future generations—about the child being born today, the child of ten years old, the child that has been indoctrinated with hatred. We must stop this; peace and hope for the future must be the order of the day. Let all men of good will and good faith condemn what is going on from both sides, and work for a democratic government that will extend the hand of friendship and human rights to everyone irrespective of creed, colour, religion or political persuasion.

6.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr Angus Maude Mr Angus Maude , Stratford-on-Avon

I shall try to follow the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Lomas) in speaking with moderation. The trouble about those who have tried to understand the Ulster situation and to look at it objectively is that they soon find themselves tempted to give up hope and say that there is no solution at all. The difficulty, the trouble and the danger is that it becomes fatally easy to look for a facile solution and to believe that one has found the answer.

I have never had much doubt that the Labour Party would come round to the idea of a united Ireland. When we had the debate on the Adjournment for the Summer Recess, the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) brought forward the suggestion as though he had just discovered it himself. It did not require much imagination to see that a number of his colleagues would, in the end, have to follow him, first because there is no other solution that they could bring forward to satisfy their Irish supporters, and secondly, because it sounds all right as a solution—yet it is not one at all.

I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) about the total, ultimate impossibility of some kind of union in Ireland. In the past I have said that I thought it possible that, in a generation or two, it might be conceivable for some federal association of one kind or another to emerge with the United Kingdom, in which the two halves of Ireland would be in closer association with each other. I do not think that this is a practical or feasible proposition now, nor did the Leader of the Opposition, who talked in terms of 15 years. I found the speech of the Leader of the Opposition interesting. It was an honest, genuine and statesmanlike attempt to grapple with a problem which, politically, he has no hope of answering to the satisfaction of his party.

We have listened today to the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, not only in the Opposition's Motion but between the speech of the Leader of the Opposition on Thursday and the Motion today. We have also listened to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) trying to wriggle away from a perfectly clear statement by his party leader that he thought that internment should continue, and trying to prove that the sentence meant the reverse. This is the kind of difficulty which, unfortunately, the Opposition get into once they start on the slippery path towards advocating a united Ireland as if it were the solution to the problem with which we are now faced. It is not and it cannot be. Before I try to show why it cannot be, may we just try to shed our prejudices and convictions and attempt to look at the matter objectively and ask ourselves afresh: why should it be a solution? Why has anyone ever thought it should be or could be a solution?

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

It is one country and they are all Irish, that is why.

Photo of Mr Angus Maude Mr Angus Maude , Stratford-on-Avon

Let us look at this objectively. It is an island, a smallish country. If I heard the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) right, he said that they are all Irish. This is not true, and if he believes that, then he is not within 100 miles of understanding the problem. The majority of people in Northern Ireland do not call themselves Irish. I have been over there again and again and I do not think that I have ever heard, at a Unionist or any other Protestant meeting in Northern Ireland, the word "Ireland" or "Irish" mentioned except in terms of opprobrium. They do not consider themselves Irish; they do not call themselves Irish.

Just for the sake of argument, will the hon. Member accept that this is the fact and let us see where it gets us? What talk of a united Ireland does is to conjure up the idea that a two to one majority is to be asked to become a four to one or five to one minority in a country with a much lower standard of living and with social and political customs, arising out of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, which the majority in the North finds deeply repugnant. That would be a difficult enough thing to try to achieve, but the question is why it should ever be thought, even without that, that it should work.

I would remind the House that on every occasion when we in Westminster have tried to impose a federal solution on differing communities in the same geographical area, it has always failed. The usual result has been civil war, as we have seen in Nigeria. It is just possible that this might be a situation analogous to Cyprus, but there is no reason why it should be. All the precedents for trying to unite different communities in geographical juxtaposition into one State show that the odds are against it. In this case we might as well admit that the odds are pretty large. Maybe one day we can find a way, but we have not found it yet.

While I admired immensely the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, it struck me that it had certain dangers—and I am not trying to make political points because this is too desperately dangerous and serious a matter. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered two things. If he says that the ultimate objective is and should be a united Ireland, what will be the effect on those who say, "But this is what the I.R.A. is fighting for. So what the I.R.A. is fighting for is right, is it, in the view of the alternative Government at Westminster? Therefore, the I.R.A. must be right." Secondly, when we say that a united Ireland is the ultimate objective and solution, this convinces the majority in Northern Ireland—because it is in a state of nervousness and fear, just as is the minority—that what it has always stood out against and believed to be the overriding political issue in Northern Ireland is to be settled over its head in favour of the minority.

If it is dangerous—and we know it is—as well as tragic for a minority to live in fear and nervousness, then it is a damned sight more dangerous for a majority to become frightened and nervous. The bloodshed that can arise from that can be a much more serious thing. We need to be a little careful how we trifle with the nervousness of the majority. We hear so much today about political solutions and compromises: after all, every political solution is a compromise. As an hon. Member opposite said earlier in an intervention, the whole thing is a question of the Border. The overriding issue in Northern Ireland is the question whether the Union should be maintained or destroyed.

Photo of Mr Angus Maude Mr Angus Maude , Stratford-on-Avon

We cannot compromise between those two things. I know perfectly well that there is the question of the discrimination and civil rights and so on, and we know equally that attempts have been made and will go on being made to deal with that. But what determines how people vote in Ireland—and it will go on determining it in present circumstances—is whether they believe that the Union should be preserved or destroyed.

Photo of Mr Maurice Foley Mr Maurice Foley , West Bromwich

The hon. Gentleman is being very dogmatic about attitudes on this side of the House over a united Ireland and he is also being dogmatic about the predominant issue in the minds of the minority North of the Border. I would like to know from where he got his information, because if he talks with any of the leaders of the Opposition party in the North they will tell him clearly that the dominant problem is the failure of the Stormont Government and this Government to give the minority any effective participation.

Photo of Mr Angus Maude Mr Angus Maude , Stratford-on-Avon

I am sorry that I gave way because that was a long intervention and I am trying to be brief. I will come to the question how the Opposition party can help in a moment. I was not talking solely about the minority; what I said was that what determines how people vote in Northern Ireland is the question of the maintenance or destruction of the Union. For the overwhelming majority this is true and it is futile to deny it. Anyone who tries to do so will not come within a mile of solving the problem.

If this is the overriding political issue—and everyone who has been there knows that it is—there can be no compromise political solution between the maintenance or destruction of the Union. If there can be no compromise there, then there can be no compromise with the I.R.A. In any case there cannot be a compromise between someone who says, "I am going to shoot you" and someone who says, "You must not shoot me." Political solutions will come after the I.R.A. has been destroyed, and it cannot be a political solution arrived at just by saying now, at the height of the bloodshed and the nervousness, that the Union is to be destroyed. That is the one thing that utterly condemns any political solution to futility before it is begun.

What we have to do is to start discussions now on how the communities are to live together without violence, without talking in terms of a united Ireland for the foreseeable future. The only way we can do this will be if the Opposition party is prepared to co-operate and talk with the Stormont Government. If we are to be bogged down in a situation in which one side says, "We will not talk because of internment" and the other side says, "We have to go on with internment whether or not you talk", we shall not get anywhere. I have one suggestion to make to the Opposition leaders. The maintenance of internment is in the view of the Governments of Stormont and Westminster, and, I believe, in the view of the overwhelming majority of people in this country, essential for the saving of lives and, in particular, the lives of British soldiers as well as of innocent civilians.

The ending of internment may be essential for the sake of the theory of constitutional law, it may be that it will save some people a great deal of inconvenience and certain mild physical ill-treatment in terms of the Compton Report, but there cannot be any comparison between the urgent need to save lives and prevent bloodshed and the need to get a political dialogue going again while we are deciding how soon and how quickly we can get rid of internment.

There must be talk about this now, and it must be talk not on the basis of frightening the majority into believing that what they regard as the main plank of their political platform is to be pulled from underneath them, but on the basis of give and take on the things on which compromise is possible. If we are to talk airily about compromise on the things in which compromise is not possible, we shall never get a solution at all.

I therefore regret that the Labour Party and the Leader of the Labour Party have come down on the side of a united Ireland. I agree with certain of my hon. Friends that this has dangers. The Home Secretary had the rights of it this afternoon when he was feeling his way bit by bit, making appeal after appeal for co-operation in the things that can be done. That is the most that at this present moment we can hope for—that, and a united determination to destroy the gunmen, and to do it quickly and by whatever means.

6.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall

I confess that before I visited Long Kesh internment camp at the beginning of last month as one of an all-party delegation I did not have any deep or lasting feeling for the Ireland problem. I had the distant view that most Britishers have, and which has been at least suggested on a number of occasions—and this debate may again be one—that the best thing we could do was to let the Irish stew in their own juice.

But the new ingredient in the thinking of the British working people is that British troops are employed there carrying out a mission that they themselves would not wish. It is wrong to say that the natural sympathy of the British people as a whole is simply with the troops. The natural feeling of British people, since currently the Westminster Tory Government are not exactly in vogue, is to be impressed about the rôle the troops are asked to play there and to be considerably suspicious of the Stormont-Ulster-Tory réegime.

It was suggested by the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) though very tentatively, that the present situation in Northern Ireland might be compared with the Cyprus experience. I visited Cyprus, though only for a few days. I went into the problems. I heard of past battles. I found that very many armed men have the job of making sure that the place does not go up in smoke. One sought some means that would bring the Turkish and Greek communities together. Until those means are found, there is very little possibility of a drawing together in political, military or economic terms.

That, as I understand it, is not the situation now prevailing in Northern Ireland, yet there are all the symptoms of excessive polarisation which seem to indicate that the situation is nearly as hopeless as that in Cyprus.

I suppose that it was the military experience of the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lieut.-Colonel Colin Mitchell)—"Mad Mitch" as he was commonly known, though I sincerely hope that he will not be offended by my saying so—that led him to say that those held at Long Kesh and in the Crumlin Road Prison were not having such a bad deal. Such a reaction may not be surprising from one who was able to compare Long Kesh with prisoner-ofwar camps that he had seen in various parts of the world.

My reaction was totally different. The utter depression caused by the sight of men in the United Kingdom being put into a place like Long Kesh brought tears to my eyes, and I am nct ashamed to confess it, because for me it was a case of, "There but for the grace of God go I". I speak particularly of the internment camp, because in the Crumlin Road Prison the men ganged up against our deputation. They would not see us. We saw only representatives of the detainees and internees. Our visit to Long Kesh was a different story, and I do not believe that that story has yet been adequately told.

At Long Kesh we had a demonstration, not of the military kind as has been suggested elsewhere but more a trade union demonstration fiercely protesting against internment. The cry was: "We demand unconditional release". I was able to speak to several of the internees individually, and they asked me the simple question: "Do we belong here?" I asked myself that question over and over again. When hon. Members opposite say, as they have done on occasion, of these internees: "All these are I.R.A. men, these are all terrorists, hellbent on wrecking what is left of civilisation in Northern Ireland", I can tell them from my own experience that that is a blatant lie. I also know from my political background that if I were now in my Socialist youth and in Northern Ireland, in the present polarised and repressive situation I would be driven step by step into the hands of the I.R.A., into the camp of terrorism. That seems to be exactly what is happening in Northern Ireland at present, and the British people should awaken to the realities of what is taking place.

I had a conversation with some of the staff at Stormont. I had not seen the place before. It reminded me of the palatial establishments of the Raj in British India. It was a miserable caricature of this place. What spoke volumes was what I was told by ordinary people who did not know that I was a British Member of Parliament. One member of the staff at Stormont said that there would be no solution of the Northern Ireland problem until the Border was closed and all the Roman Catholics were given passports and sent south.

I have had some experience of the race relations problem in this country, and I could not help comparing what I have sometimes met here with what is happening there. I was told about the polarisation which exists in the slum areas of Belfast. In Protestant areas, isolated Catholic families have had notes stuck through their letter boxes telling them to get out, while in predominantly Catholic areas Protestant families have similarly been told to get out. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has suggested that immigrant families should be paid £2,000 to return to their countries of origin. I could not help fitting that idea into the story told me by this "ordinary man", to use the phraseology of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West.

I recollect, too, the conversation that I had with the wife of an Ulster Unionist Member of this Assembly. She was positively spitting venom when talking about Catholic women. I have not had a religious upbringing. To some extent I am very much opposed to the bigoted aspect of what I consider the Roman Catholic religion to be about, but I can appreciate the problems of the Catholics in Northern Ireland, and it seems to me that they are not capable of solution by military means.

I was disappointed, when the House was recalled during September, to find that the official Opposition did not intend to divide the House on an issue which was causing great anxiety to the nation as a whole. Some of us divided the House because we considered the policy of internment to be so repugnant that we had to do something to demonstrate how we felt.

A policy of violence was being pursued in Northern Ireland before internment was introduced, but the violence has escalated since then, and I have asked myself a thousand times what my reaction would have been if, because I was known to have been at a civil rights meeting, or to have been drinking in the company of someone who was known to be, or thought to be, or had the intention of becoming, a member of the I.R.A., quite suddenly one morning, while I was in bed a rest beside my wife, I was arrested and taken away? That is a form of violence which equals any other kind of violence now going on in Ireland.

Photo of Mr James Kilfedder Mr James Kilfedder , North Down

The hon. Gentleman persists in saying that no member of the I.R.A. is in Long Kesh. Is he aware that the I.R.A. have said that some of its officers are interned there? The hon. Gentleman seems to think that the I.R.A. is a phenomenon of 50 years of Unionist rule in Northern Ireland. Would he consider the history of the Irish Republic, which shows that, since 1922, the I.R.A. has murdered Irish Republican Ministers, that members of the I.R.A. were interned during the war, that some were court martialled and executed when De Valera was in power, and that Mr. Lynch threatened to introduce internment only a year ago?

Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall

I cannot now go into the history of Ireland, but I understand that there is, first, the old guard of the I.R.A. and, second, those who are much more effective, namely the Provisionals. I do not know how one discovers who is a member of the I.R.A. Does he carry a card. Is there a simplified stratum of membership of the I.R.A.? Is there a second, third or fourth remove? According to the Sunday Times and other newspapers, there is a new kind of I.R.A. known as the Provisionals.

I think that we have to take the situation in Northern Ireland out of the hands of Irish men altogether, whether they are Ulster Unionists who dislike being labelled Irish, or whether they are Southern Irish. This is essentially a matter for the United Kingdom. People here are fed up with the situation and are looking for a solution. We cannot wash our hands of the problem. There is no question of dragging the majority of the people of Northern Ireland kicking and struggling into an artificial unification of Ireland. Everybody knows that. That is not the urgent problem of the hour.

In a long wide-ranging speech, delivered with an elder statesmanlike attitude, my right hon. Friend put forward proposals which would be fine if he were Prime Minister and he could put his proposals into effect step by step. But he cannot do that, and he is therefore in danger of the Government picking up one or two strands of the considerable array of ideas which he put forward. There have been exchanges about what my right hon. Friend meant when he referred to internment. I am not quite sure what he meant, because what we are in danger of doing is saying that we are opposed to internment as long as it does not let anybody out. But internees have been let out, as have some people who have been branded as terrorists, gunmen, and so on. It is therefore supposed that some gunmen and terrorists have been let out, but we know that that is not the case.

I want to underscore the characteristics of internment. It does not require any tremendous depth of suspicion to get somebody interned. The internment forms supplied to some of us who went to Long Kesh do not require the man to be thought to have been engaging in terrorist activities, but merely that he is thinking about them, or belongs to some kind of association in which, according to the authorities, he might be engaged in such activities.

That is not good enough. The point is not to deliver cake when bread is required by the people of Northern Ireland, but to put forward immediate measures to de-escalate the violence and to pay careful heed to the rights of the minority in Northern Ireland who are spelling out the conditions under which such measures could be brought to fruition. I do not pretend to be an expert on the Irish situation simply because I went to Northern Ireland and to Long Kesh internment camp, but that was the deep and lasting impression which I gained.

My feeling, the feeling of the British trade union and Labour movement, and the feeling developing in the Parliamentary Labour Party is that this Government, and perhaps even more the Ulster Government, have been incompetent and wooden-headed in dealing with the situation. The Home Secretary said that he accepted the 1969 measures. If I recollect correctly, parts of the 1969 measures were designed to deal with internment, but only a handful of people were interned. Now there is massive internment, with the Ulster Government saying that they are about to get the situation in hand. When one reads of whole blocks of flats being raided and every male living therein being interrogated, when one hears of dustbin lids being rattled to inform members of the I.R.A. and their sympathisers what is happening, one can understand the degree of polarisation that is taking place.

After my visit to Long Kesh and after speaking to the internees there and trying to get the size of it—obviously with certain limitations—I invited a couple of people there to write to me. I passed these two letters on to the Home Secretary, and almost at the same time a letter was on its way to me from Ivan Barr, the chairman of the Civil Rights Movement, setting out his whole political history.

Peculiarly enough, when I saw him he did not complain of interrogation or of having had a hood put over his head or having been threatened with being thrown out of a helicopter, as some of the internees told me was the case. He was complaining of lack of interrogation, of being stuck in Long Kesh when he had a well-known and lifelong pacifist position. As he explained in his letter to me, he was well known to the police authorities as having, at certain risk to himself, prevented violence and physical disorder at meetings in the past.

The other lad also told me volumes, particularly when I related it to the Compton Report, which this House had to consider. That Report found that physical ill-treatment had taken place. In that debate, in which I was not able to take part, the word "cruelty" somehow or other got left out. One will find in the interrogation notes printed in the Compton Report that cruelty and torture are coupled together.

While there might be a wide division between physical ill-treatment and torture—at least they were not plucking out their toenails—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."]—one has to relate it to the aspects of cruelty itself. What I said was that obviously this kind of activity would go on and that there would be obsessive fringe activity.

Everyone has noticed the tendency of hon. and gallant Members opposite who have served in the Armed Services to say that every soldier is the Archangel Gabriel. We know that that is not one of the facts of life. We know that the British police force is, by and large, the best in the world, but we also know that there are such people as a few officers who have served in the Leeds area. We take this with a pinch of salt, as do the British people as a whole.

I will read, in conclusion, this passage from the letter from Mr. K. A. Hart, an epileptic who, so far as I know, is still in the Long Kesh camp. I have written to him asking whether this is the case. He says that, when he was picked up in that period in August, I complained about too much exercise. The reply I received was, 'These are not meant as exercises, son. They are positions of extreme discomfort.' This man had a record of epilepsy and of course I have passed that on to the Home Secretary. I assume that steps are being taken to see that he is having proper medical treatment, even if he has not yet been let out of Long Kesh, as many have.

The political conclusions to be drawn, I believe, are that the advent of a Tory Government here in June 1970 goes hand in hand with a deterioration in the situation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Scandalous!"] It cannot be pulled back. There can only be restitution of a bipartisan policy with a full recognition of how disastrous an internment policy has been. When one denounces violence all over a wide front, as it has been denounced, it has to be seen as a total renunciation of violence, which includes also the policy of internment and violent activity which might be carried out by the opponents of the minority as well.

7.15 p.m.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I am sure that the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) will not have anything against me if I do not follow him and seek to answer him. But I must say just one thing. My views on internment, which I put on the last occasion when I addressed this honourable House, remain the same. But tonight, as the hon. Member spent so much time on internment, one would think that that was the root cause of our problems in Northern Ireland. I am sure that if he came to the hospital wards where I have gone, and if he looked on the mangled bodies and heards the cries of orphans and those who have lost their loved ones, he, too, would have tears in his eyes for them.

I feel that we should get this matter in its true perspective. I made known my views on internment in my last speech. I understand that I spoke too long. I do not want to speak too long tonight, so I will not follow the hon. Member, apart from that one comment.

The leader of the Ulster Unionists, the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) saw fit to pass some strictures on my position. I am sorry that I have to digress now and say a few things to him. He thought that he was scoring, I suppose, a cheap debating point by saying that I was not in the House because I had been in a fog. May I remind hon. Members that that fog brought tragedy to a number of people on the M1 today?

The hon. Member's argument is the type of arrogance that we who oppose the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland have had to stick from time to time. It is the type of arrogance which would tread upon those who would dare to raise their voices against the Establishment—whether those voices be the voices of Protestants or of Roman Catholics. That needs to be said, and it needs to be said in this House.

What is more, the hon. Member implied that he would have given me notice, if I had been in the House, that he intended to pass these remarks against me. When I made my maiden speech in this House, he passed remarks about me which, if read carefully in HANSARD, can be seen as an attempt to imply the same thing.

When the hon. Gentleman was attacking the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) who was in prison, the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) asked whether he had given notice to the hon. Lady. He tried then to imply that he had given notice to me about the attack which he made upon me on that occasion. Then he swings his arms and says, "This is the type of thing we would expect from the hon. Member." This is the type of thing we can expect from you, Sir, and the type of people you have misrepresented down through the years—

Photo of Mr Edward Mallalieu Mr Edward Mallalieu , Brigg

Order. The hon. Member must not address me like that, please.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker; I was not addressing you: I was addressing the hon. Member for Londonderry—

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

No, I am not finished with you yet, Sir. I regret to have to waste valuable time dealing with this matter, but it was the hon. Member for Londonderry who said that some of his hon. Friends had got here before me. I disagree, for the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Maginnis), the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) and the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) managed to get out of the fog as I did, but they travelled in the same taxi to the House.

Photo of Mr Simon Mahon Mr Simon Mahon , Bootle

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry to introduce a note of levity, but is this a private fight or can anyone join in? [Laughter.]

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

The hon. Member for Londonderry attacked me. I have answered him.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I will not give way. I want to come to the important part of my speech.

The kernel of the speech made in the House by the Leader of the Opposition on Thursday was that the solution to the problem of Northern Ireland lay in a united Ireland. This is also the objective of the Irish Republican Army—[Interruption.]—because it, too, wants a united Ireland. This cannot be denied. I accept that there are differences, but the objective, the goal, in each case is a united Ireland.

This would be totally unacceptable to the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland. Even the Prime Minister of Southern Ireland, the Cardinal of Armagh and the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) have on many occasions said that it would not be the intention of those who sought a united Ireland to coerce the Protestants in the North into a united Ireland situation. However, if this matter were put to the people of Northern Ireland now, they would give an overwhelming answer of "No" to the suggestion that the way to solve the problems of Northern Ireland would be in the direction of a united Ireland.

At the time of the Downing Street agreement we were told that the Border was not an issue. When the Leader of the Opposition came to Northern Ireland recently he said the matter had been dealt with by legislation in 1920 and it was clear all along that the solution did not lie in terms of a united Ireland.

Hon. Members understand the effect of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, in which he said that there should be a working within 15 years towards a united Ireland. I believe that no solution, either one thought out in this House or agreed to by the present Government of Northern Ireland, could be regarded as the answer because the Government of Northern Ireland are totally unrepresentative of the people. The present Prime Minister of Northern Ireland fought an election against Lord O'Neill. He was an anti-O'Neill candidate. He is now leading a parliamentary party having got to power through the leadership of Lord O'Neill. We must face the fact that Mr. Faulkner is not representative of the people of Northern Ireland.

In terms of a united Ireland, no settlement thought out here or agreed to by Mr. Faulkner's Government would be acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland. I go further and say that the only solution to the serious condition of things in that country is through an agreement reached in Northern Ireland by the people of Northern Ireland and by the elected representatives of those people. That must take place.

How, one may ask, can it take place? It certainly cannot take place now because certain people—I refer specifically to the Unionist Party—do not represent their constituents. Indeed, one of them has been rejected by his own constituency party, yet he has been put into the Government of Northern Ireland. There should be an immediate General Election there, and the people of Northern Ireland should have a say as to who represent them.

I believe that if there were a General Election in Northern Ireland now there would be a change of circumstances and that the leadership elected by the people would be prepared to get down to the business of solving the problems of Northern Ireland, and, whether or not one likes it, only the people of Northern Ireland can solve them.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I am afraid I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman. Having refused to give way to several hon. Members on this side of the House, I would be kicked up and down Northern Ireland if I now gave way to him. In any event, I am anxious to keep to the time limit that I have set for my speech.

It is imperative that the elected representatives of the people get together as quickly as they possibly can because the people of Northern Ireland need something to be done for them immediately in this terrible situation.

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

First, something must be done about the tragedy of unemployment. We have thousands of men out of work. There needs to be a massive injection of finance to deliver the people from the plight of unemployment, which demoralises the individual and creates a situation in which it is impossible to have peace, especially in a society in which unemployment is rising, as it is in Northern Ireland now. [Interruption.] It has been brought about by the failure of the Stormont Government to grapple with the problem of unemployment.

I represent 30,000 Roman Catholic people in my constituency, and not one of them can say that I have not represented them in the way they should have been represented. [Interruption.] I have sheaves of letters from Roman Catholic people in my constituency thanking me for at last being a representative of them to whom they can come and discuss matters, unlike their previous Unionist representatives who on many occasions slammed the 'phone down on them when they tried to call up to ask a question.

I say to the Roman Catholic people of Northern Ireland that there can be no solution to the problems of our country by supporting the gunman. The gunman is bound to fail. But, even if he were to defeat the Royal Ulster Constabulary and even if this House in Westminster were to be frustrated, lose patience and withdraw the troops, that would not lead to peace in Northern Ireland. It would lead to a sad state of affairs—

Photo of Ian Paisley Ian Paisley Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

I regret that I cannot give way. I intend to resume my seat within seconds.

The only solution lies in there being above all a desire on all sides for peace. The Roman Catholic population must realise that the gunman cannot bring peace. To support the gunman is to support a policy of folly which can lead only to bloodshed, anarchy and murder and Ulster mourning her dead. When they realise that, when there is a motivation on all sides that peace must prevail, and when both communities have that overriding motivation, that will conquer every other difference, and then the communities can work under the present constitution in Northern Ireland for the peace and prosperity of the whole community.

If the Roman Catholic population can persuade the Protestant population that the best thing for them is a united Ireland, let them use their powers of persuasion. If the Protestants can persuade the Roman Catholics that the best way for them to make Ulster a prosperous place, let them do so. The man living in the Shankill Road and the man living in the Falls Road are human beings with the same aspirations, the same desires to bring bring up their children, to get work to support his children, to be properly housed and to enjoy the amenities that all ought to have. Those two individuals represent the two classes in our society. If both populations think that the only way is that we should work for peace under the present constitution, that will be the beginning of better days for Northern Ireland.

There are other matters that could be dealt with. All of us have strong convictions, and no one has stronger convictions than I have. But the only hope for the people of Northern Ireland is that it can work under the present constitution. Why do I say that? It is because at present the majority of people want that constitution to remain.

Finally, if the people of the Republic want to show to the Protestants of the North of Ireland their genuine desire to include them in an all-Ireland republic, let them deal with their own constitution, for that constitution is sectarian, not only in its fruits but at its very roots, and that would have to be dealt with. If they did that, it would show the Protestants that they really meant business and were prepared to show to their Protestant fellow-countrymen that they meant business in regard to final Irish unity.

Someone has said that people in Ulster do not think of themselves as Irish. People in Ulster have always called themselves Ulstermen, and they are proud to belong to the North of Ireland. But they are also proud of their British citizenship as members of the United Kingdom. Let no one say that Ulstermen want to repudiate the fact that they live on the island of Ireland. We live on that island and we are proud of Northern Ireland; we have nothing to be ashamed of as citizens of Northern Ireland.

7.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

I rise in trepidation that I may find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). I agree with him on one point, and that is the appalling unemployment figures we now have in Northern Ireland—an issue which has been debated in the House many times—although it must continually be stressed that the purpose of this debate is to try to devise some ways and means of finding a political solution to the present difficulties which beset not only Northern Ireland but the whole island of Ireland, and the rest of the United Kingdom.

In opening the debate my right hon. Friend the leader of the Opposition made a very courageous departure from previously accepted policies of Leaders of the Opposition and ex-Prime Ministers. He stated that it must now be freely recognised and clearly identified that the problem in the island of Ireland which was brought about by partition can be solved in the ultimate to the advantage of all the people of Ireland only by recognising that a mistake was made in 1920 by the unjust partition of Ireland. That is the full context of what my right hon. Friend was trying to say.

Is there any Member, on whatever side of the House, who can say—I have denied this before and deny it now—that partition has been a success anywhere in the world where it has been tried? One has only to look at the state of the world today in those partitioned countries—partitioned mostly by this House—to see the distress that has been brought to those forced to live in those lands. From now on, I believe that it will be respectable in the United Kingdom and tolerated in the House if one says that one believes that the only peaceful solution which can bring peace to Ireland is the ultimate re-unification of that country.

I have lived in Northern Ireland and I believe—this has been recognised by many hon. Members, particularly by my hon. Friends—that the 1920 Act was a disastrous failure. For the first time in European history we have the setting up of a Parliament and a people where there could be only majority-minority politics. On the day that the 1920 Government of Ireland came into power, it meant that from then on we should have a permanent Unionist majority and Government in Northern Ireland; on the other hand, it meant that we should have a permanently frustrated, oppressed, repressed minority in Northern Ireland. In those circumstances how can anyone now claim that they are surprised, after 50 years, that the system has broken down?

Now that the advance has been made by my right hon. Friend to state clearly that the ultimate ideal must be the unification of Ireland, not only geographically but politically, and that the unification of the people in Ireland must be paramount, I believe that we can set our sights in this direction and try to bring about the re-unification of Ireland by non-violent methods.

I state clearly and unequivocally that I have never in my political life supported violence towards the achievement of political ends in Ireland. I believe that the violence now taking place in the streets of my city, Belfast, will only hinder the day when Ireland will be united. I appeal to all those who believe as fervently and sincerely as I do in the ultimate re-unification of the country to desist from further violence in adopting the methods they are now adopting. They can only put off the day that I hope and want to live to see.

My right hon. Friend made another very important point. He suggested that security should be taken out of the hands of the Northern Ireland Government and that the responsibility should be placed with this House. I believe that that suggestion should be taken up by the Government immediately.

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

No. This suggestion should be taken up by the Government immediately, because the question of the security of Northern Ireland affects not only Northern Ireland but the whole of the United Kingdom. If the trouble in Northern Ireland is allowed to continue unabated, day by day, there can be absolutely no doubt that people in other parts of the United Kingdom, Liverpool and Glasgow particularly, and in London, in the Irish communities throughout these islands, will find themselves embroiled in turmoil. So the security of Northern Ireland should be a matter for the House because it involves the security of the United Kingdom.

When I speak of security, I do not mean only the British Army, as it is in Northern Ireland at present. Security, to me, means internment, the interrogation methods used, and the way the Compton Report has highlighted what happened to people interned by the so-called security forces.

In his speech my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said: No deprivation of personal liberty, in a situation where we may not be able to move to the absolute rule of law, should be in the hands of any individual, even be he a Minister."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1589.] For 20 years in Northern Ireland we have had a Minister for Home Affairs who has had complete and absolute power in deciding whether any individual should be interned. That power has been used in the past with the intention of silencing the political opponents of Unionism. Anyone who had the temerity to voice their opposition to the Unionist Party and its absolute control of affairs in Northern Ireland was liable to find himself behind prison bars or in an internment camp. There can be no doubt that that is happening today. That is why I say that the question of security is all- important and should be treated as such by this Government.

Arising out of the debate, the British Government, the Home Secretary and, indeed, the Prime Minister, should say to the Northern Ireland authorities that they want to see the evidence which was placed at the disposal of the Minister for Home Affairs before he signed the detention and internment orders. I have sufficient respect for this House to believe that its standards would be much higher than those in Northern Ireland at present. I understand that in the island of Britain it is accepted that one can be a vehement opponent of any political doctrine without rendering oneself liable to imprisonment or unjustified detention.

In making that request to the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary, I am confident enough to state that if all the papers which were before the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland—acting in his capacity as Minister for Home Affairs—were vetted by some impartial tribunal, an impartial Minister or some Cabinet tribunal, many of those who are behind bars would be released in the shortest possible time.

I shall not detain the House by discussing again the Compton Report. I recognise that certain newspapers may have tried to whitewash what was found by Compton, but even Compton, and those who were assisting him, were repelled. I believed, by the methods they found in use.

I am delighted to see, in the words of the Motion, that the Opposition Front Bench, supported by every hon. Member on this side of the House, now says quite clearly, in a language which cannot be misunderstood, that that type of interrogation should not be used in a civilised country. There is complete unanimity on that point. The words of the Motion condemn internment.

In speaking about internment, my right hon. Friend did not please me in everything that he said. Indeed, he was rather acting as a contortionist when he discussed this subject. The Government may say that the House will take some solace from the fact that my right hon. Friend did not demand the immediate end of internment. But one has to study closely my right hon. Friend's remarks. It can clearly be seen that he said that since internment was introduced on 9th August, nothing could ever be the same again in Northern Ireland.

That single act brought about by the Northern Ireland Government—I wonder whether it was supported by the British Government—has completely alienated 40 per cent. of the community in Northern Ireland. They have withdrawn their con- sent to be governed any longer by a Unionist Government.

As a representative of West Belfast and and as a leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, I make it clear that we shall accept no invitation from the Unionist Prime Minister at Stormont to engage in further talks with him and so to perpetuate the Unionist domination of Northern Ireland. We say that the system has failed and failed lamentably over 50 years and no attempt can be made now to prop up a discredited and corrupt régime such as we have had to call a Government in Northern Ireland.

The responsibility now rests firmly and squarely on Westminster. Any political actions or moves that must be taken must be taken from this House because, whilst internment lasts, whilst many of my constituents find themselves behind bars, there is no possibility of a solution. I heard today that another 45 men were arrested last night and that 34 of them were on the wanted list. How many men are on the wanted list in Northern Ireland? Is every Northern Ireland man who is opposed to Unionism on the wanted list of the Unionist Government and a candidate for internment? That is what it seems to be. This is all in line with a military solution.

I was bitterly disappointed that my right hon. Friend did not come out more strongly against internment and that he seemed to accept that there could be a military solution. [Interruption.] Perhaps I may amend that. He suggested that until there was a military solution there could be no political solution. I say to him in his absence and to the Government that there cannot be any military solution to the problem which now besets Northern Ireland. [Interruption.] Perhaps I took up my right hon. Friend's remarks wrongly. If I have done so, I certainly apologise and I am delighted to have the opportunity to do so. I believe that what he was trying to say was that military activity must be continued but at the same time political discussions must take place. I accept that. But what have we heard today?

An hon. Member opposite said that it is scandalous to say that there has been a deterioration in the political situation in Northern Ireland since the present British Government took office. Whether it is scandalous or not, it is true. Hundreds of people have died since June, 1970. Many innocent people were shot by the British Army—young boys, innocent women, a Catholic priest. Who killed him? The British Army. Many others were killed by the I.R.A. and I condemn that from this House. But the fact remains that many people have been killed by the activities of the British Army since the election of this Government in 1970. I do not think that there can be any contradiction of that fact.

Can we offer any solution that will stop the killings and ease the distress and despair that is at present prevalent in my constituency and throughout Northern Ireland? My right hon. Friend spoke of a long-term solution, 15 years from now, that there may be a united Ireland. I accept that. But what we desperately need at this moment, not in 15 years but now, is some new initiative to prevent further loss of life in Northern Ireland.

I have some suggestions. Perhaps they will not be acceptable on the benches opposite. Indeed, I recognise that I may not have the full support of many of my hon. Friends. I recognise that it takes some courage to condemn some of the activities of the British Army in Northern Ireland. I recognise that every country has a right to be proud of its army. But that will not deny me the right to say what I have seen in my constituency. I have seen many members of the British Army acting in a very un-British way. I would be less than honest if I did not come to this House and say so.

One has only to read the newspapers daily throughout Northern Ireland to see that in the last 48 hours a rubber bullet was fired deliberately into the face of a young girl. Another woman opened her window to see what was happening when the Army raided the area at 4 a.m. Again a rubber bullet was deliberately fired and she is blind for life. Many innocent people have suffered by the actions of the British Army. What is causing the complete polarisation and alienation of the Catholic community? I make it clear that I am not speaking for the Catholic community. I sit on this side of the House because I am a Socialist, not because I am a Catholic. Many innocent Protestant people have also suffered at the hands of the British military.

I suggest that there should not be such a heavy concentration of British Army vehicles and British personnel in anti-Unionist areas throughout Northern Ireland, because it appears by their presence there that they have identified every Catholic area, every anti-Unionist area, and all the people who live in them, as being enemies of Britain, potential murderers and bombers. This is patently not so because thousands of people living in those areas—including West Belfast, which the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) had the honour to represent on one occasion for a very short period—

Photo of Mr Gerry Fitt Mr Gerry Fitt , Belfast West

—do not, as the hon. Gentleman knows, want to be involved in any altercation with the British military forces but are forced into that situation by the activity of the British Army. There is one positive solution—take away the heavy concentration that is at present so clearly to be seen in those areas.

In dealing with security we should take the Special Powers Act from Stormont to here, because I have no doubt that the vast majority of right hon. and hon. Members, be they Conservative, Liberal or Labour, would not tolerate for a second the Act as it exists in Northern Ireland being on the Statute book here. It would be completely and bitterly rejected. Surely what is good for England, Scotland and Wales must also be good for Northern Ireland, and we should not allow draconian legislation to govern the lives and safety of the people of Northern Ireland when it would not be acceptable here.

I come now to the question of the civil disobedience campaign. We in the civil rights movement, accompanied by many other people of anti-Unionist political opinions, began the civil disobedience campaign with the intention of giving to thousands of people in Northern Ireland, who so detest Unionism, some way of showing their detestation of that political regime. I recognise that, particularly on the benches opposite, the campaign is viewed with distaste and even horror. But hon. Members must recognise that in the situation in Northern Ireland it is sometimes necessary to depart from the strict bounds of legality when one has a bewildered and frightened people to look after and represent as their Member of Parliament.

What was the Unionist Government's attitude to the civil disobedience campaign? Once people said, "We are not going to pay our rates and our rents. We are no longer going to finance a system which has oppressed us for so long", the Stormont Government immediately held an all-night sitting and brought into force one of the most draconian pieces of legislation ever to pass any House in these islands this century—the Payments of Debts Act. Many of my hon. Friends will have read it and of the terrible effects it is now having on defenceless people throughout Northern Ireland. That type of legislation would also not be tolerated for one second in this House by any party.

The civil disobedience campaign will continue because it must, because if the generals and the military representatives like the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) and others—the ex-Army people—feel for one moment that they have won the military campaign and that there is a military solution, then all I can look forward to, along with my constituents, is another 20 or 30 years of oppression by Unionism That is just not on, because people in Northern Ireland will resist until they have brought about by their own efforts, possibly with the help of others—and I appeal to the trade unions and the Socialist movement in this country to help us in this fight—a society in Northern Ireland wherein there will be peace and justice for all.

I ask the Prime Minister why it is that the Scarman Report has not been issued. Lord Justice Scarman was appointed to inquire into what happened in Northern Ireland when all the evidence pointed to the fact that the Unionist-Orange extremists had set about a murderous campaign throughout the Catholic communities in August, 1969. He has held many sittings and all the evidence has been given to him. We heard that his report was to be published in the early summer, then in the middle summer, then in the early autumn, then in the late autumn this year. Is it a fact that the British Government have entered into a conspiracy with the Northern Ireland Government to prevent that report being made available? I believe the report should be made available to us as soon as possible.

In Northern Ireland, on whatever side of the political spectrum one may happen to be, from time to time one finds oneself at variance with the broadcasting media on the reporting of affairs in Northern Ireland. But I want to pay a personal tribute to Mr. David Chipp, of the Press Association, and to those directors of the B.B.C. who have resisted the pressures being exerted by the Government and their supporters not to report accurately, and indeed sometimes to report inaccurately, what has been happening. We have been told that what they should apply is patriotic censorship. That to me is telling lies. That is exactly what it means. That is what it means during wartime, when one tells one's own side of the story and not the facts. I make an appeal to the Press and television of this country to go on reporting Northern Ireland, even when they may not agree with the people involved on many occasions. I appeal to them to keep on doing so because the British people want to know and should know what is happening in Northern Ireland in the name of democracy.

The long-term proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend are, I believe, worthy of consideration, but he did make some mistakes. I understand that he said on television that possibly people could find 100 faults. He was a little too pessimisitc. I found only 98. One of them was to the effect that if we did arrive at a solution whereby Ireland would be in process of reunification then, for every single incident, the day of reunification would be put off for a month. He prefaced his remarks by saying that he was not sure whether this would work. One only has to imagine what would happen if a situation arose in which the supporters of the hon. Member for Antrim, North deferred indefinitely the final reunification of Ireland.

He made the rather outlandish suggestion that we would have to have in Ireland a permanent military base or establishment such as Aldershot or Catterick in this country. He thought that this would be very useful in easing the unemployment situation. I hope that other ways and means can be found to tackle the disastrous unemployment situation in Northern Ireland. I hope that it will be unnecessary to have a military establishment there because the very presence of a military establishment in Ireland would indicate that a forced solution had been arrived at.

Perhaps I shall be called upon to pass comment or take action on whether Ireland should apply for re-entry into the Commonwealth. Will there be a Commonwealth in 15 years' time? Is there a Commonwealth today? One thing of which we can be certain is, whether or not there is a Commonwealth, there will be the island of Ireland. If we approach the problem as we see it today, we should take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation. We shall see that the British Army is not concentrated in anti-Unionist areas and that any arms, legal or illegal, which are at present in the hands of Unionist extremists should be taken away from them by the forces of this Government.

I thought I detected in the remarks of the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon the threat of a backlash. I think that is what he was trying to say. We have heard a lot of this backlash, and I do not wish to say anything which could in any way exacerbate feelings or bring about that backlash. But if it is known, as I believe it is known, that there are arms in the hands of Unionist extremists, they should be taken away from them.

Before I left home this morning I had consultations with a number of men in the legal profession, and they told me of the concern which exists in their profession because of the activities of the Minister for Home Affairs and the police. Eminent members of the legal profession have defended people charged with having explosives and arms. The Crown prosecutor in the courts objects to every Catholic who is called to serve on the jury, so that on most of these juries there are 12 Protestants. When a case has been heard and the 12 Protestants have found a Catholic not guilty—this has happened on numerous occasions—the man walks out of the court and is immediately arrested by the Special Branch and interned.

So what price British justice? A man is found not guilty by the court and he is immediately arrested by the Special Branch and interned without trial and, indeed, without a charge. Is it any wonder that there is concern amongst the legal profession? Is it any wonder that there is concern amongst the minority population in Northern Ireland about what is happening under the code of internment and interrogation?

I can remember when a number of people were involved in blowing up gas and water mains with the intention of upsetting Terence O'Neill's Government. The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Nigel Fisher) will remember the occasion very well. One man was convicted and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. But many of his colleagues were found not guilty. Why were they not interned in exactly the same circumstances as those in which people are interned today? The answer is: they are supporters of the Unionist Government. One recognises that fact very clearly.

That is another concrete suggestion I put forward to the Government—to inquire into the procedures which are now being used by the Special Branch to intern people after they have been found not guilty by the courts; to take the Army out of the anti-Unionist areas where they are over-concentrated, and let them go elsewhere in Northern Ireland where they will find something to their advantage—that is, if they want to find something to their advantage.

At present there is no single issue which could de-escalate the situation. But a combination of steps could be taken. Again I agree with the hon. Member for Antrim, North. Some dramatic economic measures should be taken to help relieve the terrible unemployment that we have in Northern Ireland, where there are 48,000 unemployed—10·7 per cent. of the male population. The Royal Navy Yard is in danger of closing down. Some of the shop stewards in Northern Ireland would not support any Member on this side of the House. They would rather support the election of Unionist Members.

My right hon. Friend said that we should have inter-party talks between the Government and the Opposition. That is a matter for the Government and the Opposition in this House. But would those talks relate to the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend, or would they be with the intention of trying to persuade abstentionist Members in Northern Ireland to have further talks and go back, like little timid children, to Stormont? If that is the reason for the talks in this House, it is a waste of time. But if the talks envisaged by my right hon. Friend are to have the intention of discussing the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend, then I say: go ahead and have those talks, and whatever emerges from those talks may decide whether we, the abstentionist politicians in Northern Ireland, would be prepared to have further discussions.

One of the issues which must be discussed at inter-party level in this House is the burning issue of internment. If a satisfactory solution can be arrived at on the question of internment between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party in this House whereby those detained without trial could be released, we shall have overcome the major obstacle which is preventing any fruitful discussion taking place.

I say to the Government and to my hon. Friends on this side of the House: certainly engage in talks. I wish them success. If the talks are successful it will mean an end to internment in Northern Ireland. It will mean that the security problem will be taken away from Stormont and we shall be able to stop the interrogations and unjust internment. Arising from such decisions there is no doubt that we can then start taking our first timid steps along the road pointed out by my right hon. Friend last Thursday.

In the course of his speech—I thought it a most important phrase—my right hon. Friend said: If men of moderation have nothing to hope for, men of violence will have something to shoot for".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1586.] I ask the House now, in the context of the discussions which have taken place and which may take place—give men of moderation in Ireland, North and South, something to hope for.

8.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

I did not agree with much that the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) said in his extremely long speech, but, on balance, I would rather listen to him than to the deafeningly noisy nonsense of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), who habitually comes into the Chamber an hour before he wants to speak and leaves it the moment he has spoken.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

I am glad that my hon. Friend has mentioned that. It is a curious situation. The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) complains bitterly that he is not given notice of a speech which would be made in the debate, but on both occasions when I have attacked him in the House he has been present. On the other hand, the other side of the coin is that he can go on television and radio and attack me without notice—

Photo of Mr Patrick Duffy Mr Patrick Duffy , Sheffield, Attercliffe

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Has the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) given the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) notice that he intended to make this personal attack on him?

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Let us not go on with all this.

Photo of Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris , Nantwich

Order. Perhaps we can leave the subject where it is for the moment.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

It is not really my quarrel, and I am just begining a speech which, I hope, will not be too long.

The hon. Members for Belfast, West and for Antrim, North agreed at least on one point—and I agree with them both about it—that is, the terrible unemployment in Northern Ireland today—about 10 per cent. of the working population. It is a grave situation. But they were less than fair to the Government, considering that the Home Secretary has announced a sum of £50 million to be spent in helping Northern Ireland, and especially its unemployment problem.

I read in the Saturday supplement of The Times the other day that David Lloyd George's Irish policy between December, 1920, and December, 1921, when the Irish Treaty was signed, was to crush the murder gang, but whenever there is an opening for peace, take it". That must be our policy for Northern Ireland 50 years later—to beat the terrorists but to seize any chance of a political settlement that there may be.

I am sure that that was the thought and the policy behind what I regarded as the courageous speech of the Leader of the Opposition last Thursday. In principle, therefore, I feel that we on this side of the House should welcome it and try to build upon it. After all, when all the hard liners and the extremists on both sides condemn an idea or a policy, it is always worth the while of moderate men to examine it with care. If the hon. Member for Antrim, North and the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) unite to oppose something, it makes me feel that it must at least be worth looking at.

I was glad that the Leader of the Opposition, at the outset of his speech, paid a generous tribute to the Governor of Northern Ireland. He referred to "the wisdom, grasp and understanding" of the Governor. I simply comment that, in my view Lord Grey's professional experience of not very dissimilar conditions in Guyana, which I remember well from my service in the old Colonial Office, has been somewhat under-used in Ulster. That is certainly not a complaint by him, and, no doubt, he would be rather embarrassed if he knew that I was saying it. It is simply an observation by me.

The Daily Telegraph described the right hon. Gentleman's speech last Thursday as "Wilson in Wonderland" I agree that in some respects it was Utopian and unrealistic, but I thought the comment rather less than fair to the right hon. Gentleman. He seemed to me to be trying to maintain a bipartisan policy for Ulster, and I regard that as very important indeed.

In an interview on his return from Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said that the fact that there was fear, death and misery in Ulster should put the question above parties. I entirely agree with that. I agree also with his rejection of direct rule, United Nations intervention and withdrawal of British troops. I agree with him that our first priority must be to beat the I.R.A. and—since it has been mentioned a great deal today—internment must continue, much as we all dislike it, until that has been achieved. That is what the Leader of the Opposition said, and even the right hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson), who is skilful in these matters, could not possibly reconcile that line of argument from his right hon. Friend on Thursday with the terms of today's Motion and the sort of speeches which we hear from below the Gangway opposite in these debates. In fact, they are irreconcilable.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

If the hon. Gentleman looks, he will see that the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition heads the list of signatures to the Motion.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Yes, I saw that, and I was surprised, in view of its terms, though I am not at all surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is not here to vote for it tonight. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]

We are at war with the I.R.A. If the terrorists want a united Ireland, their present policy of violence and death is totally counter-productive. No British Government will negotiate with gunmen, and there are a million Protestants in Ulster who will never join the South—or dream of it—at the behest of gunmen. The Government and people of the Republic should recognise that. Some of them do, of course; but what are the people of Ulster to think when they hear Mr. Neil Blaney, a former Minister of Agriculture in the Eire Government, calling on his Donegal constituents to support the Provisionals? "Give them shelter," he said the other day, "Give them aid, give them money, and anything that might be useful to them." What a message to send into Ulster.

But once the Army has beaten the gunmen we should negotiate a generous political settlement. This is where, in my view, the importance of the right hon. Gentleman's speech last Thursday lies. At least it stimulates thought about a political settlement, and I am sorry that the Opposition's Motion today apparently rejects a bipartisan approach despite the Leader of the Opposition's attempt to pre- serve one. It is an odd situation. I wish that some hon. Members opposite would forget the Irish vote in their constituencies and look at these matters in a wider context—[interruption.]—as a great problem to which England, Ulster and the Republic must together find a solution.

We must first ensure that all the genuine grievances of the Catholic minority are redressed. We do not hear so much nowadays about civil rights because the genuine grievances have been or are being met.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Of course they are. They should have been met 20, 30 or 40 years ago, and if they had been met gradually and tactfully by Lord Brookeborough we should not be in the mess we are in today. But it is no use living in the past. They are being met now, and hon. Members opposite including the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster, know that perfectly well.

As the next step, we should consider the introduction of proportional representation in Ulster—not a P.R.-based government, which would not be majority rule, but a P.R.-based Parliament so as to give the minority greater representation at Stormont.

Then, Mr. Faulkner's idea of functional committees should be implemented. He has suggested three new committees to consider major proposals of policy and to review the performance of the executive function of the Government. Out of four committees in all, the Opposition, I believe, would appoint the chairmen of two. That was a useful and constructive suggestion, but the S.D.L.P. has rejected it.

The attitude of the S.D.L.P. throughout the whole trouble has been entirely negative. Yet it cannot possibly be in favour of the I.R.A. Why, then, do not members of the S.D.L.P. speak for the thousands of Catholics in Northern Ireland who simply want to live in peace and prosperity in their own Province? The number of people engaged in violence is very small. The number of people supporting violence, although distressingly large from a security point of view, is not very large in fact. It is by no means the whole of the Catholic population of Ulster.

Is there no one here who will speak for the moderate Catholics who hate violence and fear the I.R.A.? I thought that the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Lomas) went somewhere near doing so, but it is very seldom that we hear the moderate Catholics spoken for in this House.

On my last visit to Ulster three weeks ago, I spent some time with a battalion of the Army. I was encouraged to hear the optimism of the Army of all ranks, not just the officers. They feel—or they felt then, three weeks ago, certainly—that they were winning. They told me that the information is at last coming in. Apropos the comments about internment, one of the reasons why it was coming in, they said, was internment. People would not go to a police post or an Army barracks to give information and they would not even give it over the telephone, but now that various men had been interned they feel it safe to talk. [An HON. MEMBER: "What an argument."] That is what the Servicemen told me, and they are the people who have to do the job. They tell me that they can now go to a particular house and pick up the arms or the ammunition or an I.R.A. man who is hiding there.

This was the first time I have found the troops so confident of ultimate victory. They told me that they were beating the Ulster-based I.R.A. What they could not cope with were the I.R.A. men from the South who came over the Border, plant a couple of bombs, and then go back to the Republic or take the next boat to Liverpool. We cannot effectively police the Border.

What the soldiers do not like—I have said this to my hon. Friend the Minister of State on another occasion, and I say it again now—are the television interviews. The ordinary private soldier or guardsman is not a P.R. expert and does not like having a microphone shoved under his nose and he does not like the apparently hostile questions which he is often asked. I thought that the Alan Hart interview with Mr. Faulkner was an appalling example of a hostile and hectoring attitude. Mr. Faulkner is a professional and well able to take care of himself, as he did on that occasion; but the soldiers are not professional P.R. experts and they dislike being put on the defensive by B.B.C. reporters.

The remedy for this is not censorship or anything like it, but it might be better not to film riot situations "live". In similar conditions in Los Angeles five or six years ago and in Amsterdam, too, the television people stopped filming riot incidents live, although the incidents were reported verbally in news programmes, and in each case the change of policy had a good effect.

I should like to pay my tribute, as others have done, to the restraint, often in the face of great provocation, shown by the soldiers, the police, the Protestant population as a whole, the moderate Catholics and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland himself. In their very different ways they have been having a rough time in Ulster and they need our support and encouragement.

It would be a great support and encouragement to them if my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would visit the Province. I know how well informed he is about the situation there and how greatly concerned he is, but that is not known among the ordinary people in Ulster, nor among the troops. It is the only part of the United Kingdom which is in trial and turmoil, and the people there would appreciate—I know because they have told me so—the evidence of his concern. Everyone, soldier or civilian, to whom I talked in Ulster has sooner or later mentioned this and they have been talking about it since last summer.

It would have to be made clear, of course, that he was going there not to return with some miraculous solution to our troubles but simply to look and listen. I believe that the people of Ulster would understand that. I have always thought that the best way to understand a problem or a people is to go to the source and talk to the people on their own ground.

The other day, in reply to a Question from one of my hon. Friends, the Prime Minister said that he would go "at an opportune time". I hope that it will be very soon. An early visit would do an immense amount of good simply by showing his concern, his interest and his support for the troops and the unhappy people of Ulster. There is no panacea which he or anyone else can devise, and we all know that perfectly well. We know that there is no quick or easy solution for the problems of Ireland, and there never has been.

Peregrine Worsthorne wrote in the Sunday Telegraph two weeks ago that the British have always misgoverned Ireland because we do not understand the Irish. We do not much enjoy fighting, but the Irish love it. We do not understand how to hate; the Irish do. They forget nothing and they forgive nothing. In the North they remember William of Orange and the Battle of the Boyne. In the South they remember Queen Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell, the Potato Famine, the Easter Rising, and the Black and Tans of 50 years ago. They forget nothing and they live partly in the past.

I am an optimist, and, despite the past, Protestants and Catholics have, in fact, co-existed peacefully in Ulster before and I believe that, once the I.R.A. is beaten, they will again. At least, that is the aim towards which all of us here should work.

8.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Maurice Foley Mr Maurice Foley , West Bromwich

It is very rarely that I disagree with the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Nigel Fisher), but this is one issue on which we profoundly disagree. It was rather cheap of him to suggest that we were concerned with the Irish votes in our constituencies and that that was our motivation for dividing the House. I hope that my own views will clearly demonstrate that we intend to divide the House because we profoundly believe that the Government have failed to grasp the urgency of the situation, have failed to produce anything in terms of political initiatives and by their inertia are conveying to the world their view that a military solution is the answer to Ulster's problems.

I welcome the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition precisely because it provokes thought. I do not believe that one can attempt any kind of time scale. What is needed is to start people thinking instead of accepting the slogans with which they have lived for so long. In that respect my right hon. Friend has done a service to the House and the country. Equally, his long-term proposals should not prevent us from looking to the more immediate needs.

In this respect the first reactions of the two voices of the Ulster Unionists were deplorable. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) quoted statistics from polls among the minority in the North. He seemed to have strange ideas of the behaviour of the Irish who emigrated to England. What he failed to say was that that poll was conducted by the Belfast Telegraph six or seven years ago. He has not even caught up with what has happened since—civil rights, the Bogside, the Hunt Report, British troops in the North, and so on.

I was reminded that the leader of the Ulster Unionists was the authentic voice of Unionism because, just as he distorted these statistics so over many years, he and his colleagues have distorted statistics in the name of democracy in their gerrymandering in Londonderry for many years, so as to maintain electoral control over the affairs of the country.

Photo of Mr Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Walthamstow East

My hon. Friend was quoting from a study which has appeared in the last six months. The figures go back some time, but the book has just been published.

Photo of Mr Maurice Foley Mr Maurice Foley , West Bromwich

He quoted the figures, but he did not give the time scale and he ought to be sure that the information he gives is correct. By giving figures which were six or seven years out of date, he suggested that half the minority in the North did not want to change the legal status of the North and that others did not have any opinion.

What is tragic about the situation in the North is the extreme polarisation of the attitudes of the two communities. I shall not attempt to give percentages to show how people have been anxious to find acceptable proposals. The sad thing is that there are two hostile communities. That is the nature of this problem with which we have to deal.

Much the same comment applies to the other voice of Ulster Unionism, the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). The only remark in what he said that I liked came when he referred to unemployment and the need for economic development. However, I do not think that this House needs any lectures on tolerance from the hon. Gentleman. After all, we hear his views expressed so often through the news media. We know the hon. Gentleman for what he is. However, the hon. Gentleman put his finger on the point when he discussed unemployment. We have before us a series of interlocking problems. They stem from political, economic, social and historical reasons, and they must be dealt with if we are to evolve some kind of solution.

I want now to discuss the way in which the minority in Northern Ireland have been alienated and consciously have taken themselves away from belonging. They believe, I think rightly, that the whole paraphernalia of government in the North was designed to keep them in the minority, to keep them in their place. The feeling of not belonging was encouraged by the majority. This is the uniqueness of the problem in Northern Ireland, and it requires a unique solution.

We have to try to understand the feeling of let-down after 1969 and through into 1970 if we want to deal fully with this problem of violence. The let-down resulted from the proposed reforms not being implemented quickly. Often there was a reluctant move to implement them, with the result that the minority began to believe that it was all a sham.

I have cited the instance before in this House of the police authority. The Government of Northern Ireland appointed their members and then proceeded to appoint the members for the minority, saying that that was democracy. It could never happen in the case of the Lancashire police authority, but for Ulster it is different. It is this mentality, this notion, "We were born to rule, we shall dominate, we are in charge", with which we have to deal for the sake of members of the minority who have grown up with it and know nothing different.

This is why, time and time again, one has seen eruptions about the Border and outbreaks of violence every 10 or 15 years. If we want to get to the root of it and deal with it effectively, we have to look not merely at the gunman but at the whole minority population which gives him protection and support. This is where the Government are wrong. They are responsible for asking the military to perform a task when they are not performing their task of searching for political initiatives. We shall not defeat the gunman until we wean the minority away from him and from giving him protection. This is an aspect of thinking which so far has not been characterised in the Government's action.

I move on to an experience that I had in the North last weekend—

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Before you leave that point, since the Government's minds are closed to hon. Members on this side representing Northern Ireland constituencies, perhaps I might through you make the vital point about internment, which has not yet got through to people in this country. There are 500,000 people in the North who are in the minority. The average family consists of 4·5—

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Bradford West

On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Member opposite to engage in a dialogue with one of his hon. Friends and not address him through the Chair? Is not this stretching order a bit too far?

Photo of Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris , Nantwich

Order. At any rate, it is not parliamentary. If an hon. Member wishes to make an interjection, he should be short and sharp and remember that time is running on.

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

I am giving information to my hon. Friend. I am telling him that, on average, one household out of every 100 in Northern Ireland has now a man interned. Each family has a circle of friends. It means that internment is not an act of war against the I.R.A. It is an act against almost the entire community.

Photo of Mr Maurice Foley Mr Maurice Foley , West Bromwich

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I was about to come on to the problems imposed by the alienation of the minority.

Last weekend, I was in Northern Ireland. I happened to go to Coalisland immediately following a search by the military. Troops had surrounded the town at 3.30 a.m. and set up road blocks. At about seven o'clock, they began knocking on doors and doing what they had to do. I do not blame them for that. Theirs is necessarily a distasteful task if they are to search for gunmen and their weapons.

I arrived in the area at about 9.30 a.m. At a road block at the crossroads outside the town there was a queue of nearly half a mile of vehicles. They had been there since 7 a.m. Between then and 9.30 a.m. or 9.45 a.m. nothing moved. There were bus loads of people on their way to work. There was a baker on his round. There were men needed urgently at the hospital. The outside curfew was lifted at about 10 a.m. and, when I went into the town, I met people on the streets. Some were annoyed at being disturbed and deprived of the chance of getting to work. Others were furious with the Army. Their comments about the Army were rather crusty. I heard verbal abuse from a number of people.

I make the point not to say that the Army should not do its job, but to suggest that, in the process of searching the town, the I.R.A. may well have made a couple of hundred extra recruits. People were deprived of their liberty. They were not able to do their normal work. They were subjected to considerable inconvenience. This is repeated over and over again, in the absence of any kind of initiative, and it reinforces the view of the minority that the Army is there to conduct a campaign of repression. No matter how many times we say that it is not, members of the minority believe that it is, and they will continue to believe it until they see moves by this Government to take meaningful political initiatives whereby leaders of the minority can feel that at last they can sit down and talk because they have something meaningful to discuss.

Today, the Home Secretary said that the Government accepted the first part of the proposals of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for talks between the parties in this House, to be followed by talks with the major parties from Stormont. It is for Her Majesty's Government to prepare the ground for both sets of talks, if they hope for success, by disclosing their thoughts on a number of issues which are of fundamental importance.

I put the first point to the right hon. Gentleman earlier today. I was not satisfied with his reply. I spoke of the Green Paper produced by the Northern Ireland Government referring to a P.R. system and an enlarged Senate. In that publication, the specific point is made that the Government of Northern Ireland do not feel that they can accept in their Cabinet people whose long-term aim is a united Ireland. That is stated clearly in the Green Paper. When I asked the Home Secretary whether Her Majesty's Government subscribed to the view advanced by Mr. Faulkner, the right hon. Gentleman said that Dr. Newe, who had been brought into the Faulkner Government, had revealed in a private talk that he had received an assurance from Faulkner that he had no objection. However, that is not good enough for this House. Nor is it good enough for the success of any talks.

The Government must state their views clearly. Do they believe that a person who wants to work in a peaceful manner towards a united Ireland should be excluded from representing his people effectively in the Northern Ireland Cabinet? That is the first point.

Secondly, in terms of Government thinking, the proposal was made by myself among others, some months ago, that security in home affairs ought to be brought back to Westminster. The specific proposal was made by my right hon. Friend last Thursday in opening the debate. The Government must indicate, not necessarily with a degree of precision, but broadly, what is their view. It is not sufficient for the Home Secretary to say that there are obligations. What are these obligations? Is it that the Stormont Government do not wish to give up any of their powers? Is it, as some people feel, that the tail is wagging the dog? Or is there a military reason? The House ought to be let into the Home Secretary's confidence on this broad issue.

My final point has to do with the credence of a military solution. What I fear is that, because it is said by many people that the Army is getting on top of the situation, this will be regarded as enough; that once the gunmen are gone it will be felt that there are no problems left. That may be the suggestion emanating from people in the Unionist Party in the North who say, "Thank you—leave the Army here until we have had the chance to reorganise the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the B Specials, then leave us alone. We do not want the reform of Stormont." [An HON. MEMBER: "Good government is the answer."] If this is the result of 50 years of good majority government, it is a sad commentary that British troops have had to go in to protect the minority; that Hunt had to do what he did; that we have not yet had Scarman and all that it will reveal. If this is good government, it is standing the term on its head, and it is time, in that event, that we got rid of it altogether. As for the initial proposals involving the major parties in the North, if they are to have a cat in Hell's chance of success, the Government must, in the first instance, disclose their mind on the fundamental issues involved.

8.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , South Antrim

The hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) seemed anxious to obtain the relevant dates which were mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark). The figures were based on a survey carried out in 1968, and not eight year ago as he suggested. All of us in Northern Ireland sympathise with the inhabitants of Coalisland in the inconvenience caused them. I would suggest that the message to be conveyed to them from this House ought to be that if they would refrain from attacking, or allowing the attacks to continue, almost nightly, on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station, they would be left in peace. So long as these attacks continue the people of Coalisland must expect to be put to a degree of inconvenience.

Over the past weekend many citizens of Northern Ireland have been almost wishing that this debate had never taken place. They have seen death and suffering, resulting from what I call the nose-thumbing response and reaction of the terrorists who despise the proposed solutions and exploit the confusion which is caused by those in this House who condemn the violence but accept and concede the objectives of that violence.

In the first day of the debate it was evident that many hon. Members and some right hon. Members still harboured many misconceptions. It is vital that these should be removed if we are to form an objective judgment and make a realistic approach to the problems confronting these islands.

The first misconception is that the rôle of the Army has changed. There has been a development of the situation flowing directly from decisions taken in 1969 when, having decided that the Ulster security system must be dismantled to placate Republican anarchists, the United Kingdom Government asserted in the Downing Street Declaration this incredible statement: They"— that is Her Majesty's Government— emphasised again that troops will be withdrawn when law and order has been restored. The two things are contradictory because once local security had been destroyed the Army could never be withdrawn and when the Army became the only effective law enforcement instrument it was inevitable that conflict with law-breakers would steadily increase.

We who know the Republican mind saw that it would never accept what chooses to regard as foreign imperialist soldiers tramping on its sacred soil. It suited such people to hide their feelings for the time being and enjoy the immunity afforded by the policy of containment and even protection of the "no go" areas to build up their strength, equip themselves with arms and impose their will and domination on the Catholic people of their communes.

When they launched their offensive, then of course the rôle of the Army changed, and the soldiers had to face vicious attacks launched from areas which they for so long had protected. The terrorist offensive naturally startled, shocked and indeed stunned many People in Great Britain. At last all but the very few who do not want to see fully realise the real nature of the events in Ulster since 1968.

I turn now to the other misconception, that the—

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , South Antrim

I am sorry, I cannot give way. I have given an undertaking to be brief.

The Leader of the Opposition expressed pained surprise at the rate at which a given set of reforms became obsolete and inadequate. What has happened since 1968 is that as one set of reforms has been introduced the agitators, not the majority, increased their bidding. Now they are bidding to abolish the Stormont system. We must be fair to them and acknowledge that they said very clearly that they wanted not reform but revolution. It is a strange thing to me that people flatly refuse to accept the evidence of their own eyes—

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that it is against the best traditions of this House for an hon. Member to read his speech?

Photo of Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris Wing Commander Sir Robert Grant-Ferris , Nantwich

Yes, it is against the best traditions, but it is customary for Members to refresh themselves with copious notes.

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , South Antrim

The Leader of the Opposition referred to the latest Stormont offer of the key chairmanship of committees at Stormont to members of the minority. He contrasted what he described as the enthusiastic and strong welcome given to the offer by the S.D.L.P. with its withdrawal from Stormont a few weeks later. If the right hon. Gentleman had looked a little more closely he would have detected at the backs of the S.D.L.P. members the guns of the I.R.A., which could not possibly permit the S.D.L.P. to enter into any arrangement which would perpetuate the Stormont system, which it was determined to destroy. So great was the S.D.L.P.'s haste that it could not take time even to look for credible excuses for withdrawal. It seized on the rather ludicrous idea of protest that the Ministry of Defence in London refused to grant an inquiry into the Cusacks shootings. It was not until many weeks later that it switched to a protest against internment.

It has been suggested that security should be transferred to Westminster. There is in Northern Ireland a police authority on which both communities are represented. In fact, they are so well represented that when one member took part in and assisted at an I.R.A. Press conference he was, at the unanimous request of all his colleagues on both sides, removed from the authority. It is also a fact that the Minister for Home Affairs at Stormont who appointed the authority stated in the Stormont Parliament that he had accepted all the representatives of the minority who had been nominated by the various public authorities. But all that would be gained by substituting Westminster for Stormont in the control of security would be distance and delay. So delicate and decisive is the control of public order in Northern Ireland that it must be handled on the spot with speed by responsible and knowledgeable people.

A rational Irish settlement for the twenty-first century would be for Ireland to be united within the United Kingdom. The minority of million-odd in the north would then get the best of both worlds. They want the abolition of Stormont and they also want the benefits of the British Welfare State: they would get both. The finger points to their political leaders: what do we see there? We see a group of men holding out, as their predecessors have done for over 50 years, for an independent all-Ireland republic, knowing that the whole idea is repugnant to the majority of the electorate in Northern Ireland and, indeed, not in the best interests of their own supporters.

This failure on the part of the Stormont Opposition to offer the electorate any constitutional alternative has made one-party rule inevitable. The blame has been laid, quite illogically, on the ruling party or on the system. The deprivation of political power has been represented as the deprivation of civil rights. Any effective measures taken by the Government to resist the enforcement of minority rule by extra-parliamentary methods—civil disobedience and urban guerrilla warfare—have been represented as repression. There is nothing wrong with the system but only with the refusal of the Opposition to work it.

The search for political initiatives need go no further than the leaders of the S.D.L.P. Can they not now, even at this very late hour, drop their posture of injured alienation and start working constructively for a peaceful and prosperous Ulster? Their alternative is to go on fomenting extra-parliamentary pressures in the hope that some British Government of the future will eventually withdraw the Army, and give the several armies of the Irish Republic, official and unofficial, a free run in the North. What do they want—democracy or blood?

8.55 p.m.

Photo of Miss Bernadette Devlin Miss Bernadette Devlin , Mid-Ulster

I am grateful at this late hour for the opportunity to take part in the debate. If I may say so with due respect to the Chair, we in Northern Ireland are more than happy that hon. Members should visit, so to speak, the scene of the crime, and we are grateful for the short-term measure which makes up for our falling off in tourism, but those who live there and represent the area would be grateful if, in debates on Northern Ireland Members who make a whistle stop tour of the area would take so much time to not recount all their experiences. We live there and know what it is like, and the House has heard it all.

I should like to address as briefly as I can most of my remarks to the Leader of the Opposition. I am sorry that he is not in the House this evening. One of the most important things about the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was that he was giving the Tory Front Bench—and perhaps right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have done well to listen—an effective lecture on how one ought to be a successful imperialist in 1971. If the Tories do not realise it, the leadership of the British Labour Party, as represented by the Opposition Front Bench, is aware that we live in 1970, and that British interests in Ireland have changed vastly from the old constitutional days and the Treaty of 1920.

What the Leader of the Opposition was trying to say to leaders of the Tory Party and to the Prime Minister was that things in Ireland were not the same as they used to be. There is massive British investment in the south of Ireland on what might be described as classical neo-colonial lines, and the days of serving the British interest by bolstering the Orange régime have gone. It is now at least as desirable to maintain friendly relationships with capital and Irish Toryism south of the Border as to continue that relationship in the North.

What the Leader of the Opposition was saying was that since the Tories came to power in June, 1970, they have shown little awareness of that need, and that they have acted, not in the best interests of British imperialism, but on the basis of a primitive, basic, simple Tory instinct, which is to smash with as much savagery as it requires any attempt to upset the status quo.

The Leader of the Opposition was saying that that was a crude way to go about their business in 1971. There is no need to smash everybody down. There are those who can be bought off, and the Government ought to buy those who are offering themselves for sale, and it would appear from the right hon. Gentleman's recent safari that he had some bargain offers in the North and South of Ireland.

I ask hon. Members to cast their minds back to one of the right hon. Gentleman's previous ideas. He was the master-mind behind what is better known to some of us as the Magna Carta of the middle classes, the Downing Street Agreement. That was another little plan put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, and yet in this House last Thursday he said that he had now discovered that it would not work. Two years ago when it was proposed in this House it was welcomed and applauded by the three major parties in the south of Ireland, it was applauded by the three major parties in this House, and by all bodies of opinion representing themselves as moderate and responsible in Northern Ireland. If my memory serves me correctly, I was the only Member who said—though no one believed it, and thought that I was my usual irresponsible self—that the Downing Street Agreement would not work.

I am glad that after two years the right hon. Gentleman has finally agreed with me that it will not work, and I hope that it will not take two years to learn that his present plan will not work, either. Despite the fact that it has not been received with unanimous approval in the North or South of Ireland, or in this country, it has met with sufficient approval to produce the chance that it might work, but I should like to put forward a number of reasons why it will not.

First, there is the question of a military victory before the implementation of the political solutions. I think that that shows little or no understanding of the situation, of the nature of the I.R.A., or of the reason why its members are supported by the Catholic community in the North of Ireland. There are two fundamental reasons which, if for no other reason, explain it in sound rational terms, if not to hon. Members, certainly to members of the Catholic community from whom the I.R.A. come.

From the inception of the Northern Ireland system 50 years ago members of the Catholic community have been physically insecure. Their communities and their lives have on occasion been threatened. People have been terrorised, others have been murdered, and yet others have been burned out of their homes. That has been part and parcel of the lives of the people there. The most recent example, which hon. Members will recall, occurred in August, 1969 when there were, once again, attacks on the Catholic areas, both in Belfast and Derry.

These attacks were not carried out by an independent mob of hooligans, they were carried out by the forces of the North of Ireland State, the visible representatives of the State. Therefore, once again, in the minds of Catholic people, their security could be seen only in two forms—in the immediate form of repulsing any attack by the forces of the State and in the long term by smashing the very State which they represented.

There is now a situation in which, following the Tory Government coming to power and the failure of any attempt at a political solution, whether this House likes it or not, to the members of the Catholic community, the British Army appears today as an R.U.C. in a different uniform. Today it is British soldiers who drag people off in the dead of night to internment camps, who intern them, who interrogate them and who torture them. It was British Army bullets which killed Eamon McDevitt, Annette McGavigern, Seamus Cusacks, Harry Thornton, Mrs. Meehan, Desmond Beattie, and a number of other people. In all, 27 people have been killed, who are admitted at this stage by the British Army to have been killed in error.

Therefore, that Catholic community, feeling insecure, requires and sees first of all the British Army as some kind of intruder, some kind of hostile element, and it requires the day-to-day security of actions to get them out of the Catholic ghettoes. It also requires as a long-term security the end of the State itself.

The I.R.A. does not steal across the Border in the dead of night, as has been said. It is rooted in the communities in which it acts and lives, and it is supported there. The I.R.A. is ready to take on any hostile body, to take on any invader. Also, believing in the basis of smashing the State, it appears to the community in the Catholic ghettos as representing the same aspirations, on a simple level, which they themselves have.

Therefore, when the Leader of the Opposition says that he will have a military victory over the I.R.A., let me tell this House; it is simply not on. One cannot do it by declaring that one will root out the last I.R.A. man, by declaring that one will seek a military victory, that one will take on, lock, stock and barrel, the Catholic community from which the I.R.A. comes.

What they will have to do to get through and defeat the I.R.A. or ask them to pitch their tents elsewhere—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not true."] Hon. Gentlemen may say, "Not true". The same hon. Gentlemen, being a good deal older than myself, may have sat on these very benches at the time of Aden and at the time of Cyprus and, with the same meaningless wisdom, have said, "It is not true", and it turned out to be true.

Among the responsible hon. Members, we have the Leader of the Opposition, who went to Northern Ireland and met everyone from the middle-class upwards, but did not meet the gunmen, because that was not responsible. I ask, if it is not responsible to talk to these gunmen of whom the right hon. Gentleman speaks so glibly, how is he going to understand the nature of the community from which they come? How will he understand the nature of the problem?

They always say in this House that they will not talk to gunmen. What hypocrisy. They will not talk to men of violence. These people who maintain a standing army of professional gunmen say that they will not talk of people of violence. What happened in Aden? Did they talk to the gunmen there? What happened in Cyprus? Did they talk to them there? Yes, they did. What is so different in Ireland? Because we are white and speak English, do we have a different brand of gunmen? If that is the attitude of the House, hon. Members are very mistaken.

It has been said in this House—I would like to say this before I leave the military question and come to the economic problems: I will try not to keep the House more than another two minutes—that there can be no neutrality. A lot is heard about the British Army, about hon. Members not being allowed to say anything which might weaken the morale of the British Army, that no one in this House is neutral, that no one can be. But I have explained the nature of the I.R.A. and the nature of the community from which it conies. I want to make my position clear without apology to the House.

There is no neutrality on the question of the military victory. If it is the intention of the House to take on the community from which I come, to take on the people whom I represent, as I believe they are doing and as I believe it is their avowed intention so to do, nor am I neutral. I do not ally myself to the British Army. I see them as the forces of imperialism.

I have publicly condemned many of the activities of the I.R.A. I certainly do not cross every "t" and dot every "i" of the conduct of either wing of the I.R.A. Indeed, I do not believe that terrorism will bring about a solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. Only a Socialist revolution will at the end of the day do that.

Nevertheless, when one is forced to take sides, while I have my criticisms of the I.R.A., it is clear that this House takes its side with the British Army, and I, without apology, take mine with the I.R.A. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to cry "Shame", which is one of the semantics of this House. I prefer to shout the facts.

I agree with everything that has been said about the need for economic proposals for Northern Ireland. We need radical economic changes because we are a poor country. Why are we so poor? Much play is made of the amount of money that flows from the British Exchequer to the people of Northern Ireland and about the British benefits that are paid to the people of my country. They are not just British benefits. They are working-class benefits paid for by working-class money. That is why we have them.

We hear a lot about how much we in Northern Ireland cost the British taxpayer, but little is said about how much money flows not from here across the Irish Sea to Ireland but back not to the people of this country but into the pockets of the chairmen, directors and shareholders of, among others, I.C.I., Courtaulds and Chemstrand. These are the sort of people who have exploited the people of Ireland for their own purposes.

If hon. Gentlemen opposite want to bring about changes in Northern Ireland and not simple to rearrange the system as it exists, if they want to find a better relationship between British imperialism in Ireland as it exists today and the exploitation of Irish labour, then let me propose, not for the first time in this House, that something be done about the 10·2 per cent. male unemployment rate in Northern Ireland. The figure in the past 12 years has never been below 7 per cent. If hon. Members want to do something to end that heavy rate of unemployment, let them ban the export of profits from Northern Ireland.

It is, of course, almost ludicrous to suggest that that shower on the Front Bench opposite who represent British economic imperialism in Northern Ireland should do anything. They are responsible for creating one million unemployed in this country. Nor will this House take action to get rid of Northern Ireland's housing debt and so allow us to build houses that the working class can afford to rent. That will not happen.

It is clearly pointless asking the occupants of the Government Front Bench to consider any constructive proposals that might be taken. All I can do is to appeal—not to them or, for that matter, even to the Opposition Front Bench—to those who believe in the rights of the working class, British or Irish, to bring down the Tory Government and put in their place a Socialist Government who will implement the kind of radical economic changes we need.

In the last debate—[Interruption.] Before allowing the Front Bench speakers to ramble on about non-existent solutions I must make this point—I tried to ask the Minister of State for Defence a question, but I was not allowed to do so. I wanted to question him about the Compton Report. Much play has been made of this Report. Is it not a fact that the Tory Government were well aware that the last inquiry ordered by this House on the lines of the Compton Inquiry was the Profumo Inquiry? Following that, a Royal Commission on Inquiries was set up to investigate—[Interruption.] Lord Justice Salmon, reporting on that Royal Commission, said clearly that no future Government should again attempt to use in a highly charged political matter the kind of inquiry that was used in the Profumo affair. Despite that warning, the Compton Inquiry was set up on exactly the same lines. It infringed 12 major points which Lord Justice Salmon had made. It is clear that it was designed not to seek the truth but to prevent it from reaching the light of day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Those are Lord Justice Salmon's words, not mine.

My last point is about censorship. Many hon. Members seem to be worried about censorship, but they have little to fear when, in the North of Ireland only 48 hours ago, six young people, guilty of no more or no less crime than selling on the streets The Free Citizen, a two-page paper—now called The Unfree Citizen since internment—were arrested under Section 10 of the Special Powers Act and detained for 48 hours. Such was their crime and violence. But there is no need for hon. Members opposite to worry about censorship, if they remember once again their adventures in Aden and Cyprus. I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lieut.-Col. Colin Mitchell) is not present, because he would vouch for the fact that the British Press are full and four-square behind the British Government and his policies. The hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire, West was a murderer of the people of the Southern Yemen, and the British Press will stand equally solidly behind his successors in Northern Ireland today.

9.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment

For the first time in the House I have the unusual experience of Conservative Members apparently wishing to listen to me. I thank the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) for that unaccustomed courtesy. The debate has also had the other remarkable effect that the last two partisan speakers, the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster and the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), have been brought to agreement in condemning the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. At least we are getting on. I have always said that it was an essential pre-condition of solving the problems in Northern Ireland that the people of Northern Ireland themselves should agree, and if they can only agree at least that we are wrong, that is a first step in the right direction, and I am glad to hear it.

It is fair to say that my right hon. Friend's speech set the course of the debate. He has presented the Government with a very considerable opportunity. It was a bold and imaginative initiative. The question now is how it is to be treated by the Government and by the Opposition. That is perhaps even more important than the way in which others treat it. Although I have always taken the view that the British Parliament perhaps has an important but marginal rôle to play in this particular matter, I am not altogether discouraged by the reception that my right hon. Friend's speech has had. The Home Secretary said that it was novel, ingenious but not very realistic; nevertheless, he was willing to discuss it.

One of the tasks of an Opposition, especially when faced with a Government who do not seem to know how to handle the situation, is to say things which may be uncomfortable and disconcerting and which the Government may not even wish them to say. This is the way that the debate is carried forward in our democracy. It sometimes happens that what an Opposition says today is vehemently attacked by the Government but is adopted by the Government as policy tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

As to other comments, they are very much what one would expect. No one would expect Mr. Falkner to say more than he has said at present, or Mr. Lynch to embrace enthusiastically the idea of joining the Commonwealth. It is important that we should discuss the issue first in the House between the parties and, second, and as soon as possible, in wider circles.

It has taken a desperate situation to create an opportunity for fresh thinking. My one fear is that many of the majority in Northern Ireland, but not all, may still believe that once the I.R.A. has ceased to exist as an effective fighting force, they can turn to a system that existed before 1968–69. I do not believe that they can, and more and more people in Northern Ireland themselves are coming to that conclusion. I sometimes wonder whether the politicians are not behind the people in the sense of being in the rear of people of Northern Ireland in some of these matters and, because politicians are always to some extent prisoners of the mists of the past, whether they are not able to say what an increasing number, but as yet still a minority, of people in Northern Ireland are saying about these particular problems. If the I.R.A. ceased to be an effective fighting force—which is not impossible and I hope that they do cease to be such a force—there will be a very great temptation confronting the Government, with the problems of the E.E.C., unemployment, inflation and the rest, for the problem of Northern Ireland to cease to form part of the Cabinets agenda. I beg the Government not to allow that to happen.

As a result of a great deal of bloodshed and violence, we have been presented with a possible opportunity for a long-term settlement—I do not know whether this would be a final settlement of this problem. I hope that if the violence ceased the Government and certainly the Opposition would keep this matter right at the top of the agenda. We now have the best chance since 1921 to shift the centre of gravity of this recurring problem. How shall we do it?

My right hon. Friend called for examination of what would be involved in the constitution for a united Ireland. He did not say that this would be achieved in 15 years' time. He said that it would be achieved 15 years after agreement had been reached—which is a very different matter from what has been the common interpretation put upon his speech up till now. He then called for an examination of what would be involved. He said that some would undertake that examination with a determination to bring it about and others would merely do it as an exercise.

It is our view that one should begin by bringing in the Westminster Parliament and Westminster parties, and then the Northern Ireland parties at a later date. It is possible that we would get some surprising results, and surprising combinations of persons may emerge from such examination, especially as the condition for it is that it should first be conducted by the parties and Government in Northern Ireland alongside the parties and Government in the United Kingdom. The parties in the North may find that they have more in common than they now seem to believe, especially if the chorus of hate dies down and they have to sit around a conference table. They may find that they have more to discuss and that their supporters may be closer together than they possibly even think at present.

Once they sit around a table they may discover alliances and an identity of interest on a number of problems which are now submerged. I agree with the hon. Member for Antrim, North that the people of Northern Ireland must come together before any great changes can be embarked upon. I think we all agree that they cannot be forced by violence into unity. If we do not agree that, there is no common ground between us. This is the possibility which my right hon. Friend's speech has opened up. I trust that the Government will grasp it in the spirit in which it was proferred.

I now turn to the matters of our dissatisfaction with the Government's handling of the situation. There is no doubt that it is the problem of internment which has concerned the Opposition very much. I will explain why. I believe that this has been the turning point in our relations with the Government—the techniques of interrogation which were discussed by the House last week, techniques not previously known to the House. Internment first began four months ago. The number of people who have been affected in some way or another are considerable. The Home Secretary has been good enough to supply me with figures. I do not know whether the House realises that 1,260 men have been arrested and detained for varying periods. One-half of these—625—have been released without either an internment order or a detention order being served on them. That is to say, they were held for short periods and then released. At present, 477 are held under detention orders or internment orders.

Under Regulation 11—and the House should realise this and consider the principle against which we are dissatisfied on the issue of internment and see what can be done about it—there are 126 people detained. These are persons who have been arrested without warrant as persons suspected of acting or having acted or of being about to act in a manner pre- judicial to the preservation of peace, or who are suspected of having committed an offence against the regulations. These persons are arrested on the order of a Minister—not of a court, be it noted. They are detained on a Minister's order in prison or elsewhere. Their finger- prints can be taken. They may be photo- graphed and they may be interrogated They can be released only after a Minister so directs in writing a resident magistrate, who may then discharge them.

Behind the mere recital of these powers of detention and release, surely there is a clue to why the minority is now so disaffected. Regulation 12 says that a person may be detained when a county inspector of the Royal Ulster Constabulary recommends to the Minister of Home Affairs that it is expedient that internment should take place because he is suspected of having acted, or acting, or being about to act, in a manner prejudicial to the peace or maintenance of order. A total of 351 men are now so interned.

Despite the fact that four months have gone by since internment was introduced, the Government have not come forward with any plans of a major nature for altering or modifying this procedure. These men are now detained on the order of a Minister for an indefinite period without charges having been brought against them. Surely this is a matter upon which the House of Commons should itself be concerned. The Home Secretary said today that technically it is a matter for the Northern Ireland Government. We do not accept that it should or could be left there.

If Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, as it is claimed to be and as I accept that it is, it seems to me that, however uncomfortable and distasteful it may be, it is the responsibility of the sovereign Government at Westminster to accept responsibility for this situation. We cannot and should not, in my view, if we are all members of the United Kingdom, deprive a man of his liberty without trial for an indefinite period unless we ourselves are ready to take responsibility for it. That is the first point I put to the Prime Minister.

The House may be surprised to know that in early spring, 1969, we seemed to be getting to the position where the Northern Ireland Government themselves were willing to get rid of the Special Powers Act and replace it by permanent legislation. Alas, the proposition fell. Events overtook us. But it looked as if we might get to that position. Now we may have to revive it again, and I think that we should—with the difference that we should consider whether the British Government should not undertake legislative responsibility for such a vital issue as this. This will make us much more aware of how and when these powers are to be used.

In our view, the requirements are that this Parliament at Westminster should agree the occasions when the special powers are required; that the British Parliament should be responsible for their renewal at fixed intervals; that those detained or interned should be informed what charges are preferred against them; and that there should be a hearing, which may be and usually will be in private, although on occasions it may be in public. We believe that there should be a judge who should determine whether such a hearing should take place in private or in public in accordance with well defined rules, and that those so charged should have the assistance of lawyers to help them to present their case.

The question was raised today: Do you want to confront them with witnesses? No, I do not. But what I regard as basic to the conditions I have laid down is that they should be notified of the charges and given the assistance of lawyers in presenting their case, and that they should be able to present their case to an independent tribunal. I do not think that it is possible in present circumstances in Northern Ireland to face them with their accusers, but it is an important part, I understand, of the criminal law that a man should be faced with his accusers. How do we get over that?

We suggest that it could be done by allowing the judge to determine the credibility of the accuser. We must all of us have had letters from people in Northern Ireland who have relatives detained but they do not know on what charge or for how long. This is not right. It is this, I believe, which has led many more—an increasing number—of people to take up this cause and say that this procedure is not adequate to present purposes. I believe that many more people will yet say so as well. If we were to tell the man what the charges were, and allow the judge to see his accuser and determine his credibility, we would be in a fair position to determine it.

We have two living ex-Lord ChancellorsLord Gardiner and Lord Dilhorne. I would like to see them take an active hand in this matter. I believe it could bring at least a lot of satisfaction here.

I go on from this to say that it is not the view of the Opposition that all internees should be released. [Interruption.] That is not what the Amendment says. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, I know, has been busy today. But if he reads the Amendment he will see that it says that they should not continue in detention without trial. What I have suggested is a form of trial which at least, if not consistent with the normal processes of law in this country, comes as close to it as possible in the circumstances of Northern Ireland. That is where we stand, and we believe it would enable some confidence to be restored.

The next point is that if confidence is to be restored the Leader of the Unionist Party must relinquish his right to decide whether a man should be interned or released. This is not to cast any aspersions upon Mr. Faulkner. It is to recognise that the Prime Minister of a country which is as divided as Northern Ireland, who holds his position only by the support of one section of the community, does not and cannot command the confidence of the minority in a matter so sensitive and vital as this. We do not propose the release of the committed I.R.A. men. We propose a procedure which we believe should get as close to achieving justice as is possible in these circumstances.

I will leave the question of interrogation in depth except to say that it is our view that the Privy Councillors—we intend to appoint a Privy Councillor to this Committee of Inquiry—should begin from the basic principle that there cannot be acceptable methods of interrogation which involve ill-treatment or brutality.

The Amendment that we vote for tonight will mark our approach to the problem of talks between the parties in this country. There has been much talk about bipartisan arrangements. What is our responsibility? It is obviously not our responsibility to say "Yes" to everything that the Government put forward. Our responsibility is to say on what conditions we believe co-operation on an issue as vital as this can be achieved. That is our responsibility and that is what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) have been saying. We believe that such talks will have a greater chance of success if they are conducted whilst violence is still going on. We do not believe it is sufficient to wait until violence is over and the I.R.A. has been mauled.

We believe that such talks themselves, the knowledge that they are going on—if the Prime Minister will give me two or three minutes, because I must take a little time to say how I think these talks should be carried on—would lessen support for the I.R.A. among the minority in that country. These talks would also have a greater chance of success if the Government introduced measures similar to those which I suggested on the subject of internment.

Thirdly, we believe that the talks would have a greater chance of success if the agenda was all-embracing, if it was as wide as Ireland itself, so that we could get everybody round the table—those who believe, as the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) does, that Northern Ireland should be fully integrated into the United Kingdom, and those who believe that the Border should be abolished as soon as possible. Every item should be on the agenda of these talks, and nothing should be excluded.

If we did that, the procedure could be as follows. First, let us have talks between the parties in this country. Let us see whether we can agree upon a procedure—I would not go any further than that—for holding the talks and on the range of the agenda, although obviously not on the items on the agenda. Then let us see whether the Northern Ireland parties and the Northern Ireland Government would join in. Then we should establish a Commission of all concerned, of Great Britain parties and Northern Ireland parties, perhaps with an independent non-governmental chairman. Such a Commission would have to meet for a considerable period; it might be for a year or even longer—I do not know. We would see it moving along, with substantial periods of adjournment for talks between the various parties which make up the Commission. We believe that the adjournments could be framed in such a way that any such private conversations could go on without unnecessary haste.

As I understand it, the Government do not seem to be keen on such an all-embracing agenda. Their Amendment refers only to giving the minority an active, guaranteed and permanent role in the public affairs of the Province". It so happens that I believe, as I said before, that if they all got together they would discover unsuspected merits in one another and, perhaps, unsuspected identities of view, though, perhaps, it might go no further than that. But if we are to get people round the table, we must allow them to hammer out all these problems and have a clash of the various diametrically opposed views which now hold the day. If we exclude anything from the agenda, we should, in my view, militate against the success of the talks.

The House will realise that I have tended to go rather fast and to leave out a great deal of material which I should otherwise have wished to include. I wish now to end on this note, a note which has been hinted at already by a number of hon. Members: the one hopeful factor in this situation is that we are not now in 1912, either on this side of the Channel, between the parties here, or on the other side of the Channel. Anyone who harks back to 1912 is mistaking the mood of the people of Northern Ireland themselves, who are the people primarily concerned. There is the need which ordinary people always feel for some settlement of their affairs. They want to know the worst in some cases, they hope for the best in many others, but they want to feel that some agreement can be reached.

There is a great prize to be gained. I believe that the terrible strife we have gone through puts such a prize within our grasp. Given energy, greater energy than the Government have shown so far, and given an open-minded approach on this question, I believe that it will be possible for us to achieve that prize.

9.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The House will agree that this two-day debate has been unusual by any criteria. I much regret that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) found it necessary to rush what he had to say and to omit a great deal of what I know he wishes to contribute to the debate.

On the first day we had a detailed analysis of immense interest and then a constructive series of proposals from the Leader of the Opposition, following his visit to Northern Ireland. In that speech, the right hon. Gentleman asked for talks with Her Majesty's Government, and asked for a warm and positive response to his request. That response he received from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and it was fully repeated this afternoon; namely, acceptance of the right hon. Gentleman's initiative, or his request, that there should be full talks.

I was very glad that the Leader of the Opposition made that request in his speech on Thursday. I fear that if we had suggested the talks ourselves, he might not have been allowed to respond. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] As he has made it, we can respond, and we have responded, and I assure his right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East that we respond without any limitations on the agenda. They will be perfectly open-ended talks, just as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary intended in his proposal for talks with all parties in Northern Ireland. I assure the right hon. Gentleman also that for our part, as I imagine on his own part, there are no commitments to specific policies as regards the talks. He himself suggested that the first part should be on procedure.

We are absolutely determined that when the shooting and the bombing stops, everything will be done to reach a full solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman expressed his anxiety that, when violence ceases in Northern Ireland, both sides of the Channel will slip back into indifference again. I assure him that, from the point of view of Her Majesty's Government, that is certainly not so.

Following the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, however, which, as I said, presented a constructive set of proposals, his party immediately put down a Motion condemning the Government. I think that even the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East will agree that that is a somewhat unusual procedure in a debate of this kind, and it is to the credit of his right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. George Thomson) that his attempt to explain it this afternoon failed miserably.

As the Opposition have decided to divide the House tonight, there is something I must say right at the beginning of my speech. It is that tonight's vote by the Opposition will make absolutely no difference to Her Majesty's Govern-men's determination to deal with violence in Northern Ireland, no difference to our determination to overcome the bombers and the gunmen. I must make it plain to Her Majesty's Forces, to the Government of Northern Ireland and to the people of Northern Ireland, of all creeds and political beliefs, that we will pursue this objective with all the vigour and resources necessary to achieve our aim. I must therefore make it clear to any, whether North or South of the Border, who may be toying with fantasies that Britain will withdraw her forces from part of the United Kingdom and leave the gunmen to bring about a united Ireland by force, that that is not going to happen.

There have been many congratulations to Her Majesty's Forces, quite rightly, and the Commander-in-Chief, from the Leader of the Opposition. I therefore very much regretted that the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) saw fit in his speech to allege that the British Army had been responsible for shooting down innocent men, women and children. I know that he condemned the terrorists and has done so before, and for that we are grateful, but allegations of that kind are unworthy of him. I regret it, because I am sure that he knows that they are just not true and that time and time again members of Her Majesty's Forces have chosen, at great risk to themselves, to refrain from returning fire aimed at them by snipers, simply because there were crowds of bystanders and because of the risk of hitting innocent people, and Her Majesty's Forces ought to have the credit for that restraint. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman should have expressed those views.

Dealing with the gunmen was the first priority of the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that there is no doubt about this. He said: The violence must be rooted out before any new proposals can be put into effect. He added: First, violence must cease and be seen to have ceased". That is a very clear priority by the Leader of the Opposition.

There is a connection between this and internment. It should be recalled that it was after a visit to Northern Ireland, when he was given every facility and official facilities, that the Leader of the Opposition gave his view, and I want to quote it very fully. He said: It is not my task today to attempt a military appreciation, still less to reveal what I was told on Privy Councillor terms about the arrangements made by the right hon. Gentleman. From a number of those whom I met—not on a basis of enjoining secrecy—there was a feeling of very cautious, restrained, touching-wood optimism that the worst of the violence is over.If that is so—and I regret having to say this to any of my hon. Friends, especially in view of my own criticisms at the time—then part at least of this—and some in a position to estimate said this even if they were opposed to internment at the time—is due to information available as a result of internment and only so available. That is the considered view of the Leader of the Opposition after discussing the matter, and he went on to discuss the political implications of that. If the first priority is to put down violence, as the Leader of the Opposition said, and if internment by providing information is contributing to that, it is internment rather than the political implications which must be used to deal with the gunmen. That is a perfectly clear arrangement of priorities, and we fully recognise all the difficulties of internment, as we said in the debate in September, but it was a question of priorities.

I therefore agreed with the conclusion of the Leader of the Opposition when in his proposals he said that, after the conference and after working out the constitution: Third, internment would cease as soon as the necessary conditions exist for an improvement in confidence, it being understood that all against whom criminal charges were to be preferred would be subject to normal criminal procedure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1577–88.] Of course, at this moment, if criminal charges can be preferred in Northern Ireland, they are being made, but nobody can argue that, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, the necessary conditions exist for an improvement in confidence.

I must say in all fairness to the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that his Motion is quite clear, and it says: declines to support the continuance of internment without trial. If there were a trial, it would not be internment. It is the whole characteristic of internment that there is no trial. The Motion does not say that the Opposition decline to support the continuance of internment without trial under the Northern Ireland Government, with the implication that if it were transferred to Westminster it would be all right. The Motion declines to support the continuance of internment without trial and, therefore, puts it plainly on record that even if alterations in the system were made, alterations which the right hon. Gentleman has requested this evening, the Opposition would still decline to support internment because it is internment without trial.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment

I want to make it absolutely clear that if the kind of procedure I have outlined were carried out, with minor modifications, perhaps, but broadly in full, and it led to the conclusion that a man should continue to be detained, I should support that conclusion.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I am glad to hear that, because I am about to discuss the matters which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. But I must say clearly that that is not what the Motion says and is therefore not what the right hon. Gentleman is dividing the House about.

I want to deal with the issue of detainees because it was raised by a number of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen. It has been suggested to us at times that, rather than have internment, we should hold people for long periods in detention. This has been put to us by a number of other countries which have said that we should not then have the international problems which we have with internment. That I reject entirely. It would be an even worse situation in which people were detained without any formal declaration of internment, or the opportunity of going to the impartial tribunal which exists at the moment. Therefore, I have rejected that suggestion.

There are those who have said that there should be closed courts, and the right hon. Member for Dundee, East was hinting at this suggestion this afternoon. There are countries in which this form of court exists.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

We have courts sitting in camera.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

By any definition, a closed court is different from a court sitting in camera. However, I shall come to deal with courts sitting in camera. There are many hon. Members below the Gangway opposite who would object to that as well. However, leaving that aside, if a case is to be heard in camera, the real question is whether counsel are to be present. If they are, are they to be present in the presence of witnesses? If they are, no witnesses will believe that his identity is secure. That must be faced. If a person accused of being a member of the I.R.A. and engaged in activities of murder is represented by counsel who is then able to confront a witness, that witness will not believe that his identity and security are safe.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I am dealing with a serious argument—

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Part of the windup time of both the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East and myself has been lost already. I ask the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin) to do me the courtesy of listening.

This has an important part also in trials of security questions—those who have held high office know that this has produced a problem: the confrontation of witnesses and sources in the presence of counsel.

I put this point very clearly and seriously to the right hon. Gentleman. We have thought a great deal about it to see whether it would be possible to have a form of court which one could say provided security for sources and witnesses and which at the same time was a court. I regret that neither the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, the right hon. Member for Dundee, East, nor those advising us have found what could be called a "court". Right hon. and hon. Members opposite should remember that there is an appeal committee for internees. We are already examining the points which have been made in various articles in the Press by distinguished lawyers, and we shall examine the points made by the right hon. Member for Cardiff. South-East.

I agree about the proposal that internees should be told formally in writing of the nature of the accusations against them. That is one which should be examined urgently, and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and his Government are now doing that.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

It should be done here.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I come to the next point which makes the hon. Gentleman so excited. The fact is that the law at present under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and then the Special Powers Act, 1922, gives these powers to the Northern Ireland Government. They have remained so under Governments of both parties and Coalitions since that time. The Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East have proposed in this debate that those powers should be transferred to Westminster. Obviously I do not know what consideration they gave it when they were in office, but it is fair to say that they did not propose or make the change themselves. I am prepared to argue the matter here or in private or to consider representations about it, but it is a major change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. Therefore, I suggest that this itself does not offer sufficient grounds for a Motion condemning the Government and for voting against the Government tonight.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Treasurer, Labour Party, Shadow Home Secretary, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment

I am sorry to take the Prime Minister back to the question of procedure. There are two points here. Why should not the judge in charge of the case, even in the absence of counsel, examine the credibility of the accuser, which is an essential part? Secondly, is not it possible to supply counsel with a transcript of the evidence of the accuser, deleting anything identifying the accuser before it goes to counsel? Would not that be better than simply interning men without any charges being made, with no one knowing what is going on?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I have said that we shall examine procedures for informing internees of the allegations against them. But the judge presiding over the committee to which they can appeal and which is hearing all cases is able and entitled, with the members of his committee, to test the credibility of the evidence produced about a detainee. That is the purpose of the committee to which detainees can appeal.

If the right hon. Gentleman likes to call that a court, well and good. As far as I am concerned, it is not a court, because it does not adopt the normal procedures of British courts sitting either in public or in camera.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I come to the point which I want to bring home to the House. It is that whatever improvements we are willing and able to make one still faces a situation which is internment—

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

—and thus the saving of people's lives.

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

On a point of order. This is the fourth day of debates on Northern Ireland that I have sat here hoping to be called. I have been wanting to make two important points. If the Prime Minister refuses to give way how can I make two points on what he is saying?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. That is not a point of order.

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Will the hon. Gentleman give way for two minutes?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The hon. Gentleman spoke for over 20 minutes in the last debate.

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way to allow me to make two points? Is he afraid to listen to two points?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. There are only 10 more minutes for this debate.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

No, I shall not give way. This is the second occasion on which there has been an attempt to disrupt the Government wind-up in an Irish debate—

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Two points. Will the Prime Minister listen to two points? He is ready to conduct a symphony orchestra.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. I would ask the hon. Member to resume his seat.

Photo of Mr Frank McManus Mr Frank McManus , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Will the Prime Minister tell the House about the "No inquest" clause?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The hon. Member must not rise like that again.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Because I have a great deal to say and my time has already been cut short.

I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that it is not possible to implement a political solution now because discussions should be about the various means of organising that. If those in Northern Ireland had been prepared to sit round a table, as we invited them, without any conditions of any kind, then they too could be discussing and could have been discussing over the past months, solutions which could then have been put into practice directly the shooting stopped.

I do not share the apparent feeling of the Leader of the Opposition of disillusionment about what he and his colleagues and we have been able to achieve. I am sad that he should have said that because I believe the Downing Street Declaration in 1969 achieved a great deal. It has achieved a change in the police, in the Police Committee, it has brought about the Housing Executive, local government reform which is to be implemented, new boundaries which will benefit the Catholics and give more Catholic control of authorities, and it has produced the Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Complaints on local government. I believe that when the shooting stops these measures will then be fully appreciated.

There is also the offer of half the chairmanships of the committees, which is far more than this House has got, and the offer of the larger House of Commons and the larger Senate as well as the discussions on proportional representation. These are all matters which are to be more readily accepted when violence is overcome. If the initiatives made by the Leader of the Opposition, as he realised, run certain risks—he says that initiatives have been swept aside—it could be that his run the risk that the objections to them will be so strongly stated in the House, as they have been, that people will take up entrenched positions. These were risks which he decided to run. We are prepared to discuss these matters with him.

I want to make these points. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised that the 1949 Act undertaking must remain. Change, therefore, can only be by consent. Any negotiations for any arrangement of this kind between North and South must, therefore, be freely agreed and can only be arranged by consent. This means that any proposals must be wanted for their own sake. This is of great importance. From the basic premise of the Leader of the Opposition, it must follow that Northern Ireland cannot be forced into an arrangement for a United Ireland which it does not freely accept.

If there are any who look favourably on the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition for this reason, then they have been reinforced by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East tonight, who said that it must be agreed and the time-scale also must be agreed. The Leader of the Opposition did not lay down the 15-year arrangement which has often been interpreted. My position was explained in the Guildhall speech which the right hon. Gentleman quoted. I said this to Mr. Lynch at the meeting at Chequers last September. I said "Of course it is perfectly honourable and legitimate that people in Northern Ireland should wish to have a united Ireland. All that we ask is that it should be brought about by consent."

I said this to Mr. Lynch and Mr. Faulkner when we had the tripartite meetings. I was particularly interested in a statement by Dr. Newe when he assumed office, saying precisely this, that he had such ambitions, he had a dream of a united Ireland but he was prepared to work the system in the meantime. This is also the position in Mr. Faulkner's Green Paper. All he asks is that people should accept the position of the 1949 Act that change can only be by consent. So I took the initiative in bringing the Prime Ministers together, and this was my position. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that all that can be put in the talks. I said earlier to Mr. Lynch that there would be discussions whenever he wished it between myself and himself, as heads of sovereign Governments—not as of right; we do not claim a right as far as the Republic was concerned—because the affairs of our two countries so interact that we should agree freely to discuss these matters.

But what some would like would be for us to say to Northern Ireland that Her Majesty's Government want, and that Northern Ireland ought to want, a united Ireland. That we cannot do, because it would be usurping the right of choice of the people of Northern Ireland. But I believe that there are some things which the Republic could do, because if there is to be change by consent the responsibility also lies on the Republic to show the North the sort of united Ireland that it itself wants, and I believe that there is here much scope for action to be taken.

Of course, there are problems which make the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition difficult. Those problems are easily recognisable: the difference in economic status, the difference in social arrangements, the difference in constitutional arrangements at the moment in the Republic. They all exist. Some of them, the economic ones, will take time to put right. On others, action could be taken in the Republic whenever the Republic so decided. In particular, the Republic could restore more confidence in the North by dealing with those in the Republic who we know want to bring about change not by peaceful means, which Mr. Lynch and his Government want, but by supporting violence in various spheres.

In summing up the debate, one can say that discussion has emerged about the possibility of unity in Ireland by consent, undoubtedly taking time. There has also emerged the desire for improving the present arrangements in Stormont. We know what has been done, we know what is being proposed, and I believe that the real problem is how the minority can have still further participation in those affairs. I do not have time to go into the details of the speech of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). I differ from him in that, having examined these things, I know that there are very few county councils or city councils today which are not run on party lines and in which, therefore, the majority does not run the organisation. The minority takes part in debate, but cannot be said actually to be the executive arm of the Council. This is the real problem that we come up against, but here is a field in which we can give real thought to making the progress which will in any case be required in the arrangements for Stormont itself.

The Opposition Amendment regrets the Government's policies. To what do they object in the Military sphere? The Leader of the Opposition gave full credit for these military policies, and I have heard very little criticism of them today. On political intiative, we have had since the September debate Mr. Faulkner's initiative with the Green Paper, before it we had the bilateral, and since it we have had the tripartite meeting. We have had Dr. Newe's appointment to the Cabinet It is well known that Mr. Falkner wanted to bring in a member of another party, a trade unionist, who did not want to join, though not for political or personal reasons. So there has been progress in this field as well. We backed up, on coming into office, the previous Administration's proposal for a £70 million development fund, and are now committed to another £50 million. These are all initiatives.

So I flatly repudiate the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that in the last few months there has been nothing but drift. There have been political discussions and initiatives, and we are pursuing a policy which is in agreement with the views of the Leader of the Opposition. But there cannot be action until we are on top of the gunmen, and that we are determined to achieve.

I deeply regret the Opposition Amendment which seeks to censure the Government, not because I am not prepared to argue on it and vote in this House whenever required, but because I do not believe that in this circumstance it can be justified by the Labour Party and I regret the impact it will have outside. It is the Opposition's responsibility, but I still deeply regret it.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 293, Noes 259.

Division No. 19.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Adley, RobertCrowder, F. P.Heseltine, Michael
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Davis, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)Hicks, Robert
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryHiggins, Terence L.
Amery, Rt. Hn. Juliand'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. JamesHiley, Joseph
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)Dean, PaulHill, James (Southampton, Test)
Astor, JohnDeedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.Holland, Philip
Atkins, HumphreyDixon, PiersHolt, Miss Mary
Awdry, DanielDouglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir AlecHordern, Peter
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)Drayson, G. B.Hornby, Richard
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)du cann, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardHornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia
Balniel, LordDykes, HughHowe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Batsford, BrianEden, Sir JohnHowell, David (Guildford)
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonEdwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Bell, RonaldElliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Hunt, John
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)Elliot, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Farr, JohnIremonger, T. L.
Benyon, W.Fell, AnthonyIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Berry, Hn. AnthonyFenner, Mrs. PeggyJames, David
Biffen, John
Biggs-Davison, JohnFidler, MichaelJenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Blaker, PeterFinsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)Jessel, Toby
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Body, RichardFletcher-Cooke, CharlesJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Boscawen, RobertFookes, Miss JanetJopling, Michael
Bossom, Sir CliveFortescue, TimJoseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Bowden, AndrewFoster, Sir JohnKaberry, Sir Donald
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnFox, MarcusKellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Braine, BernardFraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)Kershaw, Anthony
Bray, RonaldFry, PeterKilfedder, James
Brewis, JohnGalbraith, Hn. T. G.Kimball, Marcus
Brinton, Sir TattonGardner, EdwardKing, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Brocklebank-Fowler, ChristopherGibson-Walt, DavidKing, Tom (Bridgwater)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Kinsey, J. R.
Kirk, Peter
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Glyn, Dr. AlanKitson, Timothy
Bryan, PaulGoodhart, PhilipKnight, Mrs. Jill
Buck, AntonyGoodhew, VictorKnox, David
Bullus, Sir EricGorst, JohnLambton, Antony
Burden, F. A.Gower, RaymondLane, David
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)Langford-Holt, Sir John
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)Gray, HamishLegge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Carlisle, MarkGreen, AlanLe Marchant, Spencer
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertGriffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Channon, PaulGrylls, MichaelLloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)
Chapman, SydneyGummer, J. SelwynLongden, Gilbert
Chataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherGurden, HaroldLoveridge, John
Chichester-Clark, R.Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)Luce, R. N.
Churchill, W. S.Hall, John (Wycombe)McAdden, Sir Stephen
Clark, William (Surrey, E.)Hall-Davis, A. G. F.MacArthur, Ian
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)McCrindle, R. A.
Clegg, WalterHannam, John, (Exeter)McLaren, Martin
Cockeram, EricHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Cooke, RobertHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)McMaster, Stanley
Coombs, DerekHaselhurst, AlanMacmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Cooper, A. E.Hastings, StephenMcNair-Wilson, Michael
Cordle, JohnHavers, MichaelMcNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Corfield, Rt. Hn. FrederickHawkins, PaulMaddan, Martin
Cormack, PatrickHay, JohnMadel, David
Costain, A. P.Hayhoe, BarneyMaginnis, John E.
Crouch, DavidHeath, Rt. Hn. EdwardMarples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Marten, NeilPrice, David (Eastleigh)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Mather, CarolProudfoot, WilfredTaylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Maude, AngusPym, Rt. Hn. FrancisTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Maudling, Rt. Hn. ReginaldQuennell, Miss J. M.Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)
Mawby, RayRaison, TimothyTebbit, Norman
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Ramsden, Rt. Hn. JamesTemple, John M.
Meyer, Sir AnthonyRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PeterThatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Mills, Peter (Torrington)Redmond, RobertThomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)Rees, Peter (Dover)Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Rees-Davis, W. R.Tilney, John
Moate, RogerRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir DavidTrafford, Dr. Anthony
Molyneaux, JamesRhys Williams, Sir BrandonTrew, Peter
Money, ErnieRidley, Hn. NicholasTugendhat, Christopher
Monks, Mrs. ConnieRidsdale, JulianTurton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Monro, HectorRoberts Michael (Cardiff, N.)van Straubenzee, W. R.
Montgomery, FergusRoberts, Wyn (Conway)Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
More, JasperRost, PeterWaddington, David
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)Russell, Sir RonaldWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.Scott, NicholasWalker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Morrison, CharlesSharples, RichardWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Mudd, DavidShaw Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)Wall Patrick
Murton, OscarShelton, William (Clapham)Ward, Dame Irene
Nabarro, Sir GeraldSimeons, CharlesWarren, Kenneth
Nicholls, Sir HarmerSinclair, Sir GeorgeWells, John (Maidstone)
Noble, Rt. Hn. MichaelSkeet, T. H. H.White, Roger (Gravensend)
Normanton, TomSmith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Nott, JohnSoref, HaroldWiggin, Jerry
Onslow, CranleySpeed, KeithWilkinson, John
Oppenheim, Mrs. SallySpence, JohnWinterton, Nicholas
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Sproat, IainWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Osborn, JohnStainton, KeithWoodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Page, Graham (Crosby)Stanbrook, IvorWoodnutt, Mark
Page, John (Harrow, W.)Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)Worsley, Marcus
Parkinson, CecilStodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Percival, IanStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.Younger, Hn. George
Peyton, Rt. Hn. JohnStokes, John
Pike, Miss MervynStuttaford, Dr. TomTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Pink, R. BonnerSutcliffe, JohnMr. Reginald Eyre and
Pounder, RaftonTapsell, PeterMr. Bernard Weatherill.
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
NOES
Abse, LeoCohen, StanleyFaulds, Andrew
Albu, AustenConcannon, J. D.Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Conlan, BernardFitch, Alan (Wigan)
Allen, ScholefieldCorbet, Mrs. FredaFitt, Gerald (Belfast, W.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Armstrong, ErnestCronin, JohnFletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Ashley, JackCrosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyFoley, Maurice
Ashton, JoeCrossman, Rt. Hn. RichardFoot, Michael
Atkinson, NormanCunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)Ford, Ben
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)Forrester, John
Barnes, MichaelDalyell, TamFraser, John (Norwood)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Davidson, ArthurFreeson, Reginald
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)Galpern, Sir Myer
Baxter, WilliamDavies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Garrett, W. E.
Beaney, AlanDavies, Ifor (Gower)Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodDavies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)Golding, John
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Davis Clinton (Hackney, C.)Gourlay, Harry
Bidwell, SydneyDavis, Terry (Bromsgrove)Grant, George (Morpeth)
Bishop, E. S.Deakins, EricGrant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Blenkinsop, Arthurde Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir GeoffreyGriffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Delargy, H. J.Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Booth, AlbertDell, Rt. Hn. EdmundHamilton, James (Bothwell)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurDempsey, JamesHamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Bradley, TomDevlin, Miss BernadetteHamling, William
Broughton, Sir AlfredDoig, PeterHannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Dormand, J. D.Hardy, Peter
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)Douglas-Mann, BruceHart, Rt. Hn. Judith
Buchan, NormanDriberg, TomHattersley, Roy
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Duffy, A. E. P.Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesDunnett, JackHeffer, Eric S.
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)Eadie, AlexHoram, John
Cant, R. B.Edelman, MauriceHoughton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Carmichael, NeilEdwards, Robert (Bilston)Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)Edwards, William (Merioneth)Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Ellis, TomHughes, Mark (Durham)
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraEnglish, MichaelHughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Evans, FredHughes, Roy (Newport)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)Ewing, HenryHunter, Adam
Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Mellish, Rt. Hn. RobertShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Janner, GrevilleMendelson, JohnShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Jay, Rt. Hn. DouglasMikardo, IanShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Miller, Dr. M. S.Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Milne, EdwardSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
John, BrynmorMitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)Sillars, James
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Morgan, Elysian (Cardiganshire)Silverman, Julius
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Skinner, Dennis
Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Small, William
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Ewlyn (W. Ham, S.)Moyle, RolandSpearing, Nigel
Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickSpriggs, Leslie
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)Murray, Ronald KingStallard, A. W.
Kaufman, GeraldOakes, GordonStoddart, David (Swindon)
Kelley, RichardOgden, EricStonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Kerr, RussellO'Halloran, MichaelStrang, Gavin
Lambie, DavidO'Malley, BrianStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Lamond, JamesOram, BertSummerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Latham, ArthurOrbach, MauriceSwain, Thomas
Lawson, GeorgeOrme, StanleyTaverne, Dick
Leadbitter, TedOswald, ThomasThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Lee, Rt. Hn. FrederickOwen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Leonard, DickPalmer, ArthurTinn, James
Lestor, Miss Joan
Lever, Rt. Hn. HaroldPannell, Rt. Hn. CharlesTorney, Tom
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)Parker, John (Dagenham)Tuck, Raphael
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)Urwin, T. W.
Lipton, MarcusPavitt, LaurieVarley, Eric G.
Lomas, KennethPeart, Rt. Hn. FredWainwright, Edwin
Loughlin, CharlesPendry, TomWalden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York)Pentland, NormanWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
McBride, NeilPerry, Ernest G.Wallce, George
McCann, JohnPrentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.Watkins, David
McCartney, HughPrescott, JohnWeitzman, David
McElhone, FrankPrice, William (Rugby)Wellbeloved, James
McGuire, MichaelProbert, ArthurWells, William (Walsall, N.)
Mackenzie, GregorRankin, JohnWhite, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Mackie, JohnReed, D. (Sedgefield)Whitehead, Phillip
Mackintosh, John P.Rees Merlyn (Leeds, S.)Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
McManus, FrankRhodes, GeoffreyWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Roberts, Albert (Norman)Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
McNamara, J. KevinRoberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caervarvon)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Mahon, Simon (Bootle)Robertson, John (Paisley)Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Marks, KennethRoper, JohnWoof, Robert
Marsden, F.Rose, Paul B.
Marshall, Dr. EdmundRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mayhew, ChristopherSandelson, NevilleMr. Joseph Harper and
Meacher, MichaelSheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)Mr. James A. Dunn.

Main Question, as amended, put:

The House divided: Ayes 294, Noes 260.

Division No. 20.]AYES[10.12 p.m.
Adley, RobertBraine, BernardCordie, John
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Bray, RonaldCorfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Brewis, JohnCormack, Patrick
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianBrinton, Sir TattonCostain, A. P.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)Brocklebank-Fowler, ChristopherCrouch, David
Astor, JohnBrown, Sir Edward (Bath)Crowder, F. P.
Atkins, HumphreyBruce-Gardyne, J.Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)
Awdry, DanielBryan, Pauld'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)Buck, Anthonyd'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)Bullus, Sir EricDean, Paul
Balniel, LordBurden, F. A.Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Batsford, BrianButler, Adam (Bosworth)Dixon, Piers
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonCampbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)Douglas-Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Alec
Bell, RonaldCarlisle, MarkDrayson, G. B.
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)Carr, Rt. Hn. Robertdu Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Channon, PaulDykes, Hugh
Benyon, W.Chapman, SydneyEden, Sir John
Berry, Hn. AnthonyChataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherEdwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Biffen, JohnChichester-Clark, R.Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Biggs-Davison, JohnChurchill, W. S.Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)
Blaker, PeterClark, William (Surrey, E.)Farr, John
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Fell, Anthony
Body, RichardClegg, WalterFenner, Mrs. Peggy
Boscawen, RobertCockeram, EricFidler, Michael
Bossom, Sir CliveCooke, RobertFinsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Bowden, AndrewCoombs, DerekFisher, Nigel (Surbiton)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnCooper, A. E.Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Fookes, Miss JanetLambton, AnthonyReed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Fortescue, TimLane, DavidRees, Peter (Dover)
Foster, Sir JohnLangford-Holt, Sir JohnRees-Davies, W. R.
Fowler, NormanLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Fox, MarcusLe Marchant, SpencerRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Fry, PeterLloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)Ridsdale, Julian
Galbraith, Hn. T. G.Longden, GilbertRoberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Gardner, EdwardLoveridge, JohnRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
Gibson-Watt, DavidLuce, R. N.Rost, Peter
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)McAdden, Sir StephenRussell, Sir Ronald
Glyn, Dr. AlanMacArthur, IanScott, Nicholas
Goodhart, PhilipMcCrindle, R. A.Sharples, Richard
Goodhew, VictorMacLaren, MartinShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Gorst, JohnMaclean, Sir FitzroyShelton, William (Clapham)
Gower, RaymondMcMaster, StanleySimeons, Charles
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)Sinclair, Sir George
Gray, HamishMcNair-Wilson, MichaelSkeet, T. H. H.
Green, AlanMcNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Maddan, MartinSoref, Harold
Grylls, MichaelMadel, DavidSpeed, Keith
Gummer, J. SelwynMaginnis, John E.Spence, John
Gurden, HaroldMarples, Rt. Hn. ErnestSproat, Iain
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)Marten, NeilStainton, Keith
Hall, John (Wycombe)Mather, CarolStanbrook, Ivor
Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Maude, AngusStewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Maudling, Rt. Hn. ReginaldStodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Hannam, John (Exeter)Mawby, RayStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Harrison, Brian (Maldon)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Stokes, John
Harrison, Col, Sir Harwood (Eye)Meyer, Sir AnthonyStuttaford, Dr. Tom
Hasethurst, AlanMills, Peter (Torrington)Sutcliffe, John
Hastings, StephenMills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Tapsell, Peter
Havers, MichaelMitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W.)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hawkins, PaulMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Hay, JohnMoate, RogerTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Hayhoe, BarneyMolyneaux, JamesTaylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)
Heath, Rt. Hn. EdwardMoney, ErnieTebbit, Norman
Heseltine, MichaelMonks, Mrs. ConnieTemple, John M.
Hicks, RobertMonro, HectorThatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Higgins, Terence L.Montgomery, FergusThomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Hiley, JosephMore, JasperThomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Hill, James (Southampton, Test)Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Holland, PhilipMorgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.Tilney, John
Holt, Miss MaryMorrison, CharlesTrafford, Dr. Anthony
Hordern, PeterMudd, DavidTrew, Peter
Hornby, RichardMurton, OscarTugendhat, Christopher
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame PatriciaNabarro, Sir GeraldTurton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)Nicholls, Sir Harmarvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Howell, David (Guildford)Noble, Rt. Hn. MichaelVaughan, Dr. Gerard
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)Normanton, TomWaddington, David
Hunt, JohnNott, JohnWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Hutchison, Michael ClarkOnslow, CranleyWalker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Iremonger, T. L.Oppenheim, Mrs. SallyWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Wall, Patrick
James, DavidOsborn, JohnWard, Dame Irene
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Page, Graham (Crosby)Warren, Kenneth
Jessel, TobyPage, John (Harrow, W.)Wells, John (Maidstone)
Johnson Smith. G. (E. Grinstead)White, Roger (Gravesend)
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Parkinson, CecilWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Jopling, MichaelPercival, IanWiggin, Jerry
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir KeithPeyton, Rt. Hn. JohnWilkinson, John
Karberry, Sir DonaldPike, Miss MervynWinterton, Nicholas
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. ElainePink, R. BonnerWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Kershaw, AnthonyPounder, RaftonWoodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Kilfedder, JamesPowell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochWoodnutt, Mark
Kimball, MarcusPrice, David (Eastleigh)Worsley, Marcus
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Proudfoot, WilfredWylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
King, Tom (Bridgwater)Pym, Rt. Hn. FrancisYounger, Hn. George
Kinsey, J. R.Quennell, Miss J. M.
Kirk, PeterRaison, TimothyTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Kitson, TimothyRamsden, Rt. Hn. JamesMr. Reginald Eyre and
Knight, Mrs. JillRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PeterMr. Bernard Weatherill.
Knox, DavidRedmond, Robert
NOES
Abse, LeoAtkinson, NormanBennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Albu, AustenBagier, Gordon A. T.Bidwell, Sydney
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Barnes, MichaelBishop, E. S.
Allen, ScholefieldBarnett, Guy (Greenwich)Blenkinsop, Arthur
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)Boardman, H. (Leigh)
Armstrong, ErnestBaxter, WilliamBooth, Albert
Ashley, JackBeaney, AlanBottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur
Ashton, JoeBenn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodBradley, Tom
Broughton, Sir AlfredHardy, PeterOram, Bert
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Orbach, Maurice
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Hart, Rt. Hn. JudithOrme, Stanley
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)Hattersley, RoyOswald, Thomas
Buchan, NormanHealey, Rt. Hn. DenisOwen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Heffer, Eric S.Palmer, Arthur
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesHoram, JohnPannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)Houghton, Rt. Hn. DouglasParker, John (Dagenham)
Cant, R. B.Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Carmichael, NeilHughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Pavitt, Laurie
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)Hughes, Mark (Durham)Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)Pendry, Tom
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraHughes, Roy (Newport)Pentland, Norman
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Hunter, AdamPerry, Ernest G.
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Cohen, StanleyJanner, GrevillePrescott, John
Concannon, J. D.Jay, Rt. Hn. DouglasPrice, William (Rugby)
Conlan, BernardJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Probert, Arthur
Corbet, Mrs. FredaJenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Rankin, John
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)John, BrynmorReed, D. (Sedgefield)
Crawshaw, RichardJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Cronin, JohnJohnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyJohnson, Walter (Derby, S.)Richard, Ivor
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardJones, Dan (Burnley)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dalyell, TamJones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davidson, ArthurKaufman, GeraldRoper, John
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)Kelley, RichardRose, Paul B.
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Kerr, RussellRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lambie, DavidSandelson, Neville
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)Lamond, JamesSheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)Latham, ArthurShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)Lawson, GeorgeShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Deakins, EricLeadbitter, TedShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir GeoffreyLee, Rt. Hn. FrederickSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Delargy, H. J.Leonard, DickSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundLestor, Miss JoanSillars, James
Dempsey, JamesLever, Rt. Hn. HaroldSilverman, Julius
Devlin, Miss BernadelleLewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)Skinner, Dennis
Doig, PeterLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Small, William
Dormand, J. D.Lipton, MarcusSmith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)Lomas, KennethSpearing, Nigel
Douglas-Mann, BruceLoughlin, CharlesSpriggs, Leslie
Driberg, TomLyon, Alexander W. (York)Stallard, A. W.
Duffy, A. E. P.McBride, NeilStoddart, David (Swindon)
Dunnett, JackMcCann, JohnStonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Eadie, AlexMcCartney, HughStrang, Gavin
Edelman, MauriceMcElhone, FrankStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)McGuire, MichaelSummerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Edwards, William (Merioneth)Mackenzie, GregorSwain, Thomas
Ellis, TomMackie, JohnTaverne, Dick
English, MichaelMackintosh, John P.Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Evans, FredMcManus, FrankThomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Ewing, HenryMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Tinn, James
Faulds, AndrewMcNamara, J. KevinTorney, Tom
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)Mahon, Simon (Bootle)Tuck, Raphael
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Urwin, T. W.
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)Marks, KennethVarley, Eric G.
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Marsden, F.Wainwright, Edwin
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Marshall, Dr. EdmundWalden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Foley, MauriceMayhew, ChristopherWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Foot, MichaelMeacher, MichaelWallace, George
Ford, BenMellish, Rt. Hn. RobertWatkins, David
Forrester, JohnMendelson, JohnWeitzman, David
Fraser, John (Norwood)Mikardo, IanWellbeloved, James
Freeson, ReginaldMiller, Dr. M. S.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Galpern, Sir MyerMilne, EdwardWhite, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Garrett, W. E.Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)Whitehead, Phillip
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Golding, JohnMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Gourlay, HarryMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grant, George (Morpeth)Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)Moyle, RolandWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange)Murray, Ronald KingWoof, Robert
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Oakes, Gordon
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)Ogden, EricTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hamling, WilliamO'Halloran, MichaelMr. Joseph Harper and
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)O'Malley, BrianMr. James A. Dunn.

Resolved,That this House pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces and supports Her Majesty's Government in the combined policies of putting an end to violence and seeking, through discussion with all concerned who are opposed to the use of violence, means whereby there may be for both communities in Northern Ireland an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the public affairs of the Province.