Detention

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1972.

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Photo of Mr Peter Archer Mr Peter Archer , Rowley Regis and Tipton 12:00 am, 14th December 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many references to commissioners under the Detention of Terrorists (Northern Ireland) Order have now been determined; and how many of them have resulted in the making of detention orders; and

(2) how many persons are now detained pursuant, respectively, to interim custody orders and to detention orders under the Detention of Terrorists (Northern Ireland) Order 1972; and how many are now detained after the expiry of 28 days from the making of an interim custody order while awaiting determination of a reference to a commissioner.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

Up to 13th December 141 cases had been determined by the commissioners, 86 of them resulting in the making of detention orders and 55 resulting in releases. A total of 190 persons were on that date detained under interim custody orders, of whom 161 had been held for more than 28 days since the making of the order.

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

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that helpful information. Does he recall the figures quoted by the Attorney-General in Monday's debate, namely, that out of 72 persons dealt with through the ordinary criminal courts in Belfast in a period of seven weeks for terrorist-type offences, only six were acquitted by juries? Does not that indicate that normally these cases can be dealt with satisfactorily through the ordinary criminal process, and will he undertake that no one will be dealt with under the Detention of Terrorists (Northern Ireland) Order unless there is reason to believe that he cannot be dealt with by the ordinary processes of the law?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I give that undertaking completely. As I think the hon. and learned Gentleman appreciates, a number of people have been charged with firearms offences and other terrorist offences in recent weeks and months. This is a very satisfactory development. It is one that I wish to encourage.

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

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is happening to those who have been interned since the beginning of the emergency, and certainly for a good deal longer than 28 days? Will they be dealt with under this order, or is there some other procedure by which they may be kept interned?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

There is no other procedure. All of them are being dealt with under this order. They have been dealt with in chronological order up to now.