Northern Ireland

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st January 1972.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton 12:00 am, 31st January 1972

Even on the assumption, Mr. Speaker, that you may grant an application under Standing Order No. 9—we do not yet know—this House is far from satisfied on this matter. It is important that, in a debate on Standing Order No. 9, we get a rather deeper analysis of the problems than has been given by the right hon. Gentleman. May I put one or two questions, and could not the same apply to any other hon. Member whom you want to call? First, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we welcome his announcement of an inquiry on the grounds that serious allegations have been made—including a number by impartial, or, so far as we can tell, impartial, observers—and in view of the fact that the inquiry has been demanded by Cardinal Conway, whose record in condemning violence is known to all hon. Members?

On the other hand, we have had the categorical statements of the Commander, Land Forces, to the effect that no shots were fired until sniping began, and that shots were fired only at snipers. In view of all this, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we will support the announcement of an inquiry, and that, as he has now agreed, it should be speedy, independent and judicial? Could I therefore press upon the right hon. Gentleman that it must be held in public?

Second, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, even so, however speedy, consistent with a fair report, it may be, the Northern Irish situation will not wait for an inquiry? We have not had the Scar-man Report yet to deal with events from 1969. Will the right hon. Gentleman, between now and tomorrow, address himself to proposals put from this Box nine-and-a-half weeks about the transfer of the responsibility for security from the Northern Ireland Government to Her Majesty's Government—from the Stormont Parliament to this House?

Third, will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that, while the House is deeply preoccupied today, as it must be, with the tragedy and with the loss of life and the feelings of the relatives of those who were wounded—including the soldiers who have been wounded in this incident and in others—there will be no answer to this on a basis purely of a military answer; that there has to be a political solution? While I will stand in my corner with the Prime Minister on the fact that it is now nine weeks since the Government accepted my proposal for all-party talks—I accept my responsibility for the delays together with the right hon. Gentleman—will he recognise that we can now wait no longer, that there must be all-party talks in this House leading to talks with the Stormont Parliament and then with the Parliament in Dublin?