Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 (Continuance)

Bills Presented – in the House of Commons at 10:12 pm on 20th December 1984.

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Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea 10:12 pm, 20th December 1984

I beg to move, That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 (Continuance) (No. 2) Order 1984, which was laid before this House on 27th November, be approved.

We have just concluded a full debate on the issues raised by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 and Sir George Baker's review of its operation. As I have said before, the Government accept that there is a good case for amending the Act, but we have not yet reached final decisions on the shape of our legislative proposals. We shall now proceed to take those decisions in the light of the comments made by Members during the course of the earlier debate and in the light of representations made by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights and other interested parties in Northern Ireland.

In the meantime, for the reasons that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have given, we consider it necessary to ask the House to authorise the continuation of the Act. In so doing, I am conscious that Sir George Baker, having considered all the evidence put to him in the course of his review, accepted that there was a continuing need for emergency powers in Northern Ireland. The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights and other observers have reached the same conclusion. The Government believe that there is some scope for amending those powers, but we are convinced that the principal measures provided for in the Act will remain necessary until there is a more marked improvement in the security situation.

I remind the House briefly of what those powers are. The Act provides for trial by a judge sitting alone for persons accused of specific scheduled offences. It contains additional arrest and detention powers for the police and the Army, together with certain exceptional powers of search and seizure. The Act also provides for the proscription of certain criminal organisations. The Act does not, of course, alter the central principles of British justice as they apply in the Province. The onus remains on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Accused persons have the opportunity to take legal advice of their choice and to be represented by their own lawyers in open court and there remains the right of appeal against conviction or sentence on matters both of law and of fact.

There may be some scope for improving the provisions of the Act. The Government are now proceeding to forge their leagislative proposals. The views expressed in the earlier debate this evening will be helpful and will be taken fully into account alongside other views. Meanwhile, I have no hesitation in saying that in the interests of security, and indeed justice, in Northern Ireland it is essential that the powers in the 1978 Act should remain in force. I therefore commend the order to the House.

Photo of Mr Peter Archer Mr Peter Archer , Warley West 10:15 pm, 20th December 1984

I try not to operate on the principle of the bellman—"If I say it three times it is true." I attempted earlier today to set out the Opposition's position on the administration and performance of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. My hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) supplemented that from the Front Bench, and some of my other hon. Friends also spoke in the debate. Nothing would be gained by repeating what has already been said.

Those who introduced the original Act envisaged it as temporary legislation to deal with an emergency. They therefore provided that the main provisions of the Act should be reviewed by the House every six months. That provision appears in section 33. My right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) said that it was a wise provision, and I respectfully agree with him. It was intended that the House should at six-monthly intervals apply its judgment to the question whether all or any of the provisions of the Act were necessary at the time and whether some of them might be doing more harm than good.

It was a Conservative Government who included that provision because, as the then Attorney-General said, the measure was draconian. The Opposition have tried faithfully to discharge their responsibility, twice a year, of applying their mind to these serious problems.

There may be a case for a single Select Committee or a monitoring body to keep both the Emergency Provisions Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act under constant review and to report to the House on each Act at half-yearly or at least annual intervals. Today, I merely make that suggestion. I shall develop it on some other occasion.

Threats to the life and health of the people of Northern Ireland must be taken seriously. So must threats to their liberty. It is clear from the debate that has just taken place that there are a number of amendments that, like Sir George Baker, we should like to see made to the Act. In some respects, we go further. There are a number of provisions in the legislation of which we doubt the wisdom, and some that we positively believe to be counter-productive. They make no contribution to protecting people from violence. On the contrary, they make the task of the police and the security forces more difficult. If the Government take the Act away and give it serious consideration, together with Sir George Baker's report and what has been said this evening, and then return to the House with appropriate proposals, we will of course reconsider the situation. Tonight, unless we can be persuaded otherwise, we propose to vote against the continuance order.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North 10:17 pm, 20th December 1984

First, I must say how much I regret the fact that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary did not take this opportunity to make a statement about strip searches. I have been promised an answer on that subject for a considerable time, and have suggested a proposal that might take some of the heat out of the situation. The matter is important to those who are in prison, but I do not intend to talk about it now. I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) wishes to speak on the matter.

I shall have to prune the speech that I would have made had I been called earlier. If I do not take up all the points to which hon. Members not of my party but sitting on neighbouring Benches thought that I might have responded, I am prompted not by a lack of desire to do so, but simply by considerations of time.

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

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for saying that he forgives me. From his own account, he has much of which to be forgiven. It being Christmas, I wish the hon. Gentleman a merry Christmas and a happy new year and hope that he will soon find himself within a united Ireland.

Like several other hon. Members, I was invited to give evidence to Sir George Baker. Regrettably, I had to decline. I am even more sorry about that now, having heard the tributes that have been paid to him and having heard what a charming man he was. The House should know why I declined. I did not think that I could give adequate evidence, based on the flimsy replies that I have received from the Northern Ireland Office, under both the Labour Government and the present Government. I have continuously asked how many people who have been convicted of scheduled offences have been convicted on the basis of their uncorroborated confessions. An answer to that question has repeatedly been denied to me for a variety of reasons. If Ministers are not prepared to let me know how the legislation is working, it is difficult for me to make any valid comments on its operation. Therefore, lacking such information, I decided not to accept Sir George Baker's invitation. The Secretary of State of the day was aware of my reasons because we were in correspondence.

The Under-Secretary of State opened the debate blandly, but he said that we are going back to no jury trials, the acceptance of uncorroborated evidence and confessions, a bending of the rules with regard to confessions and a bending of the rules with regard to evidence. People who are convicted under those circumstances are treated specially within the United Kingdom. I am not arguing that they should have special category status—I never have — but they are special and that should be recognised. Many of the political problems that have arisen in the House derive from our failure to accept that people who are convicted under this legislation are treated differently. Some political problems, such as the rise of the Provisional Sinn Fein could have been avoided if we had accepted that.

How are we to measure the success of the legislation in regard to its reducing violence and how are we to measure its effect on political opinion? The Secretary of State wisely said today that the number of violent incidents is falling, we welcome that, but he would not draw any conclusions from that because previous Secretaries of State have latched on to a series of figures and been proved sadly wrong.

We must examine the number of fatalities which are associated with the incidents. Such examination reveals that, although there has been a reduction in the number of incidents, there has been no corresponding reduction in the number of fatalities. The conclusion to be drawn from that is that, unfortunately, the terrorist is becoming more efficient. We must therefore examine associated problems and the political implications of violence. If the terrorist is able to maintain a given level of instability in the Six Counties, he is succeeding. If he is succeeding, that has repercussions on the effect of the Government's policy and our attitude to the legislation. If the object of the legislation is to reduce the number of fatalities and to restore normalcy, it is not succeeding.

We must also realise that problems have arisen as a result of the Ulsterisation policy introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees). I understand why my right hon. Friend is not present, but I told him that I would be raising this matter. I do not want anyone to think that I am doing it behind his back.

The policy of Ulsterisation has been a failure in the Six Counties. It puts the onus on the Loyalist community to fight terrorism, with a reduced British Army commitment. Because Catholics comprise only about 2 per cent. of the membership of the UDR and the RUC, most security force casualties are Loyalists or Protestants. Therefore, many people over here say, "That is the Irish fighting among themselves. Leave them to it." They do not think about the individuals or the circumstances in which they are killed. In addition, because most security force casualties are Loyalists and not British soldiers, people over here think that those Loyalists are expendable if their deaths will keep the lid on the cauldron. That is the wrong attitude, but it is the result of the Ulsterisation policy.

The Ulsterisation policy also increases sectarianism. At one time, most of the people killed in Northern Ireland were Catholics or nationalists. Now the number of Protestant deaths is increasing. Many of those victims are not civilians, but members of the security force. However, when a funeral takes place in Northern Ireland people do not ask whether the dead man was a civilian or a member of the UDR or RUC. They say, "He was a Protestant."

Ulsterisation must be looked at again. It leads to sectarianism and to some of the problems that we are discussing. That must be understood.

Photo of John Taylor John Taylor , Strangford

The hon. Gentleman seems to be implying that there is reduced Roman Catholic participation in the police service in Northern Ireland. Is he aware that there has been a considerable increase in the number of Roman Catholic members of the RUC over the past two years and that, therefore, his argument falls flat?

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

The number may have been increasing within the RUC, but not within the UDR. Within the whole range of security forces, the figure is 2 to 3 per cent. Therefore, my argument stands.

Photo of Mr Ken Maginnis Mr Ken Maginnis , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Why are the Catholics not in the UDR?

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

I do not wish to engage in verbal fisticuffs with the hon. Gentleman, because I have wished him a merry Christmas and a happy new year. but the answer to his question is that many members of the UDR were originally recruited from the B specials. That is why the Catholics would not join.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

The hon. Gentleman's party set them up.

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

The hon. Gentleman does not have to tell me that. He need only read the speeches that I made at the time. I have spent most of my time on this Bench because of our attitude on this issue.

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

I do not mind giving way at Christmas time, but the hon. Gentleman's intervention will keep other hon. Members out of the debate.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that a considerable number of Roman Catholics joined the UDR on the west bank of the Foyle, in Londonderry? If so, I should tell him that, as far as I know, none now joins from that area due to the pressure put on people by their co-religionists, the IRA and similar terrorist organisations in that area.

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

One would need to quantify "a considerable number". However, I do not want to enter into that argument, because it does not help. I thought that my case was helping the hon. Gentleman's position. I was trying to show some sympathy towards it. The hon. Member for Londonderry East (Mr. Ross) did not seem to realise that that was what my speech was about.

One interesting statistic is that 50,000 people in Northern Ireland have been arrested or detained under the emergency provisions or prevention of terrorism legislation without being charged. The overwhelming majority of them come from the Catholic or nationalist community. If that happened in the United Kingdom as a whole, it would mean 900,000 people, and if it happened in the United States it would mean 6·8 million people. Furthermore, if one assumes that each of those people has two relatives who are appalled at their arrest and detention, and at their questioning for information-gathering purposes, and so decide to vote for the Provisional Sinn Fein, we get the total vote that the Provisional Sinn Fein obtained last time. One man detained without trial or charge, and two friends or relatives, and that is the figure that one gets.

Incidentally, it is not that the SDLP vote has fallen, but rather that the Provisional Sinn Fein has benefited from the previous abstentionist vote. The way in which the Act and order have been kept going, and the way in which they fail to take on board the important political implications, has given credibility to the Provisional Sinn Fein. Perhaps the Government are willing to pay that price, but equally a political price has to be paid for such legislation. I think that we saw that in the election in Belfast, West. I think —but I hope that it will not be so—that that may be reflected in next year's local government elections.

The Government must bear a heavy responsibility when it comes to their attitude on these issues. Much of the threat in the Six Counties comes from that failure to realise that people convicted under this legislation are different from other convicted criminals in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. That is what led to the hunger strikes, and to the rise of Provisional Sinn Fein. Much of the blame can be laid at the door of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act. The Government, and those who are prepared to maintain it, have much to answer for.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann 10:33 pm, 20th December 1984

Of course, my right hon. and hon. Friends will support renewal of this legislation. But on their behalf I should point out that we are extremely disappointed that the Government have not used the power of proscription contained in the Act to re-proscribe Sinn Fein. I make no apology for saying that, because I have been saying it over the years.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) warned us of the dangers of the Ulsterisation policy, without putting forward an alternative. I assure him that when there were 15,000 or 17,000 young regular soldiers from the mainland in Northern Ireland, many of them aged 18 to 21, they often inadvertently caused far more alienation and far more problems in the community. That was due to their lack of experience and knowledge. The people of Northern Ireland have never shied away from spilling their blood if necessary in defence of their position within the United Kingdom. If they have to do so now—and while it is regrettable and no one would wish it to happen—they will continue to do so. In spite of the number of members of the security forces who have been murdered, thank God there has been no shortage of people ready to step in to take their place.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

How would the proscription of the Provisional Sinn Fein undermine and destroy terrorism? Would not that give the terrorists a martyr status and influence matters in the United States and elsewhere? That may be precisely what they want.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

I shall come back to that issue, but I wish to refer to several other matters first. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) talked earlier about the supergrass system and seemed to suggest that the potential abuses within the system were special to Northern Ireland.

I shall read to him an article from a London newspaper on 16 September last year, which was headed: Supergrass 'shops' black gangster". It stated: A leading member of a gang of West Indian and armed robbers was jailed for 15 years at the Old Bailey yesterday after being 'shopped' by the country's first black supergrass. He was arrested on the information of fellow gang-member Errol Walker, 27, who gave evidence against him.

Walker turned supergrass in April last year, and is currently serving a lenient five-year sentence for 36 robberies. He named all his criminal associates, after telling detectives 'I want to clear the slate and start a new life'.Mr. Godfrey Carey, prosecuting, said Walker gave Scotland Yard a mass of information which enabled detectives to smash the gang. Various members carried out raids all over West London, using shotguns, machettes, knives and coshes. Their haul totalled £150,000. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that a black supergrass is any more likely to be honest and that his word should be accepted — gangster though he is — than a white supergrass in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Frankly, the man's colour does not bother me, although it sounds as if the hon. Gentleman is bothered about his colour—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I shall answer the question if the public school hooligans will be quiet.

Earlier I referred to the fact that a perjured murderer was responsible for the appearance of 35 people in court. The judge knew that the man was a liar, a killer and rogue. All his actions suggested that he had no integrity whatever, and the judge stripped him clean as a liar. Does the hon. Gentleman really think that the judge had any choice, except to give way? Instead of allowing separate trials, the judge was forced to set all those people free because the supergrass system was an utter failure.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I appeal to the House. This is a short debate and I am anxious to call those hon. Members who were not called in the previous debate, but if there are long interventions, hon. Members will be disappointed.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

I am just as revolted as the hon. Gentleman by what he has related. In fact, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland vindicated the system by exposing that individual. All I am saying is that the system of supergrasses is not confined to Northern Ireland, and that the evidence of criminals is accepted elsewhere.

Photo of Mr Alex Carlile Mr Alex Carlile , Montgomery

Everyone knows that.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

One would not have known it in view of what was said earlier. Mr. Gilmour only became all the things we have heard described once he decided to turn Queen's evidence. Prior to that, he was a close friend of these people — a confidant. He joined them in their murdering activities. He only became what the hon. Gentleman said when he decided to tell the truth—

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

It has been suggested that the Government are pursuing a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland. That policy is being pursued not by the Government but by Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinnis and their associates. They pursue that policy with a great deal of efficiency.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

Is it any wonder that when the security forces are confronted with people committed to a shoot-to-kill policy they do not stand in front of a car, hold up their hands and ask them to stop—they would probably be run down and gunned down. If the security forces have to make split second decisions to defend themselves that result in the deaths of armed terrorists engaged in murdering an innocent person, it ill behoves anyone in this House to complain.

The other comment about the trial was that people had lost their civil liberties because they had been in prison for too long. I agree that that is terrible—hut prison doors open; graves do not open. Cemetery doors in Northern Ireland open only to allow in the innocent victims of murder. To some degree the people who walk out of the Crumlin road have an advantage that hundreds of policemen and police reservists, those who serve in the army and innocent women and children — including those who died in Brighton — do not have. While I regret that loss of freedom, prison gates open and those people will eventually gain their freedom and enjoy life again.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

The Opposition are opposed to the terrorists. We loathe terrorism.

Photo of Mr Harold McCusker Mr Harold McCusker , Upper Bann

If the hon. Gentleman had been here earlier today, he would have heard hon. Member after hon. Member say that.

I want to address myself briefly to what the hon. Gentleman mentioned earlier—the proscription of Sinn Fein. I realise that my hand would have been a great deal stronger if I had been able to cite Sir George Baker in support of the proscription of Sinn Fein. He dealt at length with its relationship with the IRA and how the twin-headed approach of that evil organisation was able to exploit opportunities either by direct terrorist violence or through the political opportunities offered, for example, by the Labour party conferences or by being invited to the House.

Although Baker faced that and put on record a number of important pieces of information about that relationship, he neatly side stepped making a decision. In paragraph 423 he said—and it has already been described as a most remarkable statement: this question is now squarely one for political decision … and because other measures are also being considered by both British and Irish Governments I do not think I am qualified to … make any recommendation on the submissions to proscribe Sinn Fein.

We could not fail to notice the importance that the report attached to the relationship and Baker's fascination with its despicable publication The Republican News, which described in detail for him and the rest of us the murder of Robert Bradford, Member of Parliament, the so-called execution of Edgar Graham, a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the killing of what it described as the legitimate target of Charles Armstrong, the chairman of Armagh district council.

In paragraph 39, Baker described his initial reaction to the publication as surprised annoyance. Why was anyone allowed to publish such a statement of intent? Why was the publication not banned and the author prosecuted? Gradually I came to realise that for me An Phoblacht … should be compulsory reading. It has given me insight into the thinking and intentions … of some Republicans and of the inextricable links between Sinn Fein and the PIRA. There is no doubt that for him and us The Republican News has served a useful purpose. However, it exists not for the benefit of us, judges or academics, but to serve the cause of republican terrorism—to popularise its campaign, to justify its foul murders, to indoctrinate its followers and to give an air of respectability to those who some hon. Members think are politicians. It blackens and besmirches all who challenge it, including the Government, unionists, the Roman Catholic church, the SDLP, and the Government of the Irish Republic. Sir George Baker's initial reaction to The Republican News was right: it should be banned and its authors should be prosecuted.

Having established the inextricable links between Sinn Fein and the PIRA, further research led Sir George Baker to make the following observation in paragraph 46: There cannot be any reason or indeed possible doubt that Sinn Fein is not only a political wing but also a complete accomplice and partner of the PIRA. The IRA is not seen as a wing of Sinn Fein, but Sinn Fein as a wing of the IRA. As the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) pointed out, it is clear within the Republican movement that the IRA is the predominant force and that Sinn Fein is its poodle. It is clear that Sinn Fein is under the control and domination of the IRA, which is why it must annually proclaim its support for the armed struggle.

How does that square with the reason given at the time of de-proscription by the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland? On 4 April 1974 he stated: In my view there are signs that on both extreme wings there are people who, although at one time committed to violence, would now like to find a way back to political activity. It is right to encourage this as much as possible."—[Official Report, 4 April 1974; Vol. 871, c. 1476.] He did not say that the people who had committed violence were moving towards peaceful means to pursue their political objectives, but it is reasonable to assume that he intended that. He could not have intended to de-proscribe and, therefore, to legalise Sinn Fein to enable it to continue supporting violence and to use its political muscle to reinforce what it calls the armed struggle.

There is nothing original or unusual about me or the Government being concerned about that relationship. We must believe Sinn Fein. Morrison has told us how Sinn Fein intends to promote its objective. It has said clearly that it does not believe that terrorism or the ballot box can achieve its form of a united Ireland. It believes that by the use of both terrorism and politics it will gain power in Ireland. We must believe that. If we are to deal with that strategy, we cannot turn from the threat which Sinn Fein poses to the democratic process.

The right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) has changed his view slightly since 1974. He no longer justifies his action on the basis that he was encouraging movement away from violence. That is clear from his answer on 29 November, which is published in the Official Report, column 1075. He now seems to believe that any organisation with a political view should be allowed to pursue it, so long as it does not act in a blatantly paramilitary manner. That was not his view in 1974, but it seems to have been his view in 1984. I am sorry that he is not here, because I should have wished to hear him expound on this. If that is his view now, it contradicts the action that he took after 1974. He proscribed the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1975, which had, and, as far as I know, still has, a political viewpoint. Does the right hon. Gentleman now believe that no organisation, no matter what it supports, should be proscribed, and that action should be taken only against the members of those organisations who engage in criminal activity?

Sir George Baker expressed clearly the view of the majority in Northern Ireland when he said: Proscription is an expression of the outrage of the ordinary citizen, who comprise the overwhelming majority, at the barbarous acts of these organisations, and at the revolting glee with which they claim responsibility", for their acts. That sums up the case for proscription. It is necessary because it will assist in the battle against terrorism generally. Sinn Fein should not be allowed to masquerade as almost a legitimate political party like the others. What offends most people in Northern Ireland is that it is not a political party. The difference is that, if it disagrees with someone, it murders him. It murders people committed to the democratic process who have been returned through the ballot box to public life not only in Northern Ireland but in Great Britain.

Sinn Fein should not be allowed access to Government and statutory bodies. It should not be allowed access to the media. It should be prevented from using modern technology to churn out obnoxious claims of victories when it murders innocent men, women and children. The logic of the Secretary of State's and his Minister's position is that that organisation should be outlawed. Why should the Secretary of State and his Ministers refuse to see the representatives of that body if they consider it to be an ordinary political party? They clearly do not. Yet they continue to allow Sinn Fein to pursue its stated objective of exploiting the ballot box to its own end.

Sir George Baker, having side stepped the issue of proscription, tried to help the Government by putting forward other ways of dealing with Sinn Fein or similar organisations. He suggested that no political grouping should be allowed to contest elections unless it stated clearly that it was opposed to the use of violence. If the Government will not consider proscription, will they at least consider that?

Sir George Baker also said—this should be borne in mind by the supporters of Sinn Fein in the House—that, The utterances of Mr. Adams leave no doubt in my mind that the links are strong enough to prove that a killer is an agent of Sinn Fein also. On that basis, he tried to encourage the victims of terrorism to take civil action against Sinn Fein and try to get damages, in the belief that if we can attack its bankroll, we might undermine its capabilities. I have resources to pay for anyone who might wish to take civil action against Sinn Fein. I appealed publicly to anyone in Northern Ireland who believed himself to have suffered—there are tens of thousands — at the hands of Sinn Fein, to come forward so that we could test what Sir George Baker said. My legal adviser told me that no one would come forward. He was right. They know that if they come forward, they are more likely to get a bullet or a bomb long before their cases came to court. Therefore, we have not been able to test whether civil action can be taken against Sinn Fein.

The right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South suggested another idea, which came to him while he was speaking and which he did not have time to think through. It related to whether the Government could get their hands on the finances of the Provisional Sinn Fein.

If a determined Government can get their hands on NUM finances, why cannot they apply the same ingenuity to getting hold of Provisional Sinn Fein resources? I do not think that they can get their hands on Sinn Fein resources while it is a legitimate political party. However, it cannot be beyond the wit of man to do something—to stop them in their tracks. What we can not do is turn a blind eye to what that organisation has told us. It says, "We shall achieve our political objectives by exploiting democracy when we can, and when we can't we'll use the bomb and the bullet." If that is the challenge, it is time that the Government picked up the gauntlet.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington 10:55 pm, 20th December 1984

This evening we have seen a clear demonstration of a split Labour party on the subject of Northern Ireland. We have heard almost universal condemnation of violence and appropriate expressions of grief and sensitivity. Completely divorced from that was the diatribe from almost every Labour Member on the restrictions upon individual liberty and criminal law and procedure which all Governments have believed to be necessary. It is almost impossible for a neutral observer to conclude that hon. Members are talking about the same parts of the country, or that the two problems go together.

Labour Members have the effrontery to say that there should be no temporary emergency provisions. They can say that and keep straight faces, only because they have split minds.

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) gave us an interesting and learned dissertation upon the academic problems of changing the criminal procedure law in Northern Ireland, the implications for civil liberty and other matters which, in an academic world, receive attention. But we are talking about murder, about life and death, about violence and the intimidation of witnesses and jurors. They are rife. They are daily events. The whole population goes in fear. People cannot carry on their normal lives because a great threat hangs over them.

People who speak up for Northern Ireland, such as our gallant friends in the Unionist parties, have to endure that all the time. Yet the Opposition have the effrontery to go on and on about comparatively small temporary changes in the law. Do they ever say that because of these problems this legislation is necessary; that all they ask is that it is as pain free as possible and that they will remove the restrictions as soon as it is possible for people to move without fear? Of course, they do not, because they are playing the party game.

I know the hon. Member for Middlesbrough to be decent and honest. He and many of his hon. Friends apply their minds to the problems honestly and in the interests of the House, but there is a distinct hint of hyprocrisy about the Labour party's approach to the problem. [Interruption.]

The Opposition spokesman may attack us, but one must say such things, because the party game applied to such subjects is repulsive to ordinary decent people. I do not believe in that game, but it has been played by the Opposition spokesman who refused to say that we should not have temporary emergency provisions to deal with a special and exceptional situation in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell , Middlesbrough

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have not spoken in this debate, and therefore I do not understand any of the points made by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook).

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. The hon. Member is not on a point of order. I believe that he will seek to catch my eye later.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

I am surprised that the hon. Member for Middlesbrough even thought that he was raising a point of order. From time to time, it needs to be said that one cannot in the same speech say that there is great violence in Northern Ireland which affects our courts, and at the same time say that there is no case for temporary emergency provisions to deal with the abuses of our system.

Certain matters should be considered. In an ideal world, one need not have any restrictions.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell , Middlesbrough

Will the hon. Gentleman give way? Mr. Alex Carlile: Give way.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

I shall get this off my chest first. We all know that, in practice, in the mind of a court the line drawn between guilt and innocence does not depend so much on something abstract. It does not really depend upon proof beyond all reasonable doubt, as the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) said.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

The right hon. and learned Gentleman may not have said that, but it is often said. Many other considerations are involved, including the rules of evidence and the sufficiency of evidence. The decision at the end of the day is often made by a jury, considering all the facts and applying its own common sense to the question.

It is true that one of the casualties of the Northern Ireland system of justice is the absence of jury trials. That means that all those who come before Diplock courts, which means anyone accused of committing a scheduled offence—whether a member of the IRA, a policeman or a soldier — is deprived of that benefit. Recently, a British soldier, aged 19, was convicted of murder. He was convicted by a single judge in circumstances which, had they been put before a jury at the Old Bailey at the Central Criminal Court, would certainly have resulted in an acquittal on the murder charge. The circumstances may well have been said to have involved the agony of the moment— such as occurred in the Waldorf action. It could have been said that an officer, in the agony of the moment, under great provocation, might well have acted in a particular way. That is why there is a big difference—

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

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that that case is a matter of appeal at present.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I do not think that this case is before the courts at present. I think I am accurate in saying that.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

In any event, I have got if off my chest. I have said what I wanted to say.

The fact is that the Labour party has not approached this whole subject properly, in a way that honesty dictates that the Labour party should approach it. Labour Members are fixed with the idea that there should be a close examination of civil liberties; yet they ignore those constraints upon their liberties that are necessarily imposed upon any responsible Government placed in such a position.

What is the proper response? It is for the Government to put the whole problem before an independent expert, a former judge of the United Kingdom, and ask: in what respect do we not need these provisions to secure justice in the context of Northern Ireland? The Government have done that, and that judge has reported. The judge has made certain recommendations which should be adopted. The fact remains that there is a strong case, and the Opposition know it, for the preservation of temporary emergency provisions such as those we are debating.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry 11:04 pm, 20th December 1984

I apologise to the Under-Secretary. I was speaking to one of his hon. Friends when he introduced the order and as a result I missed his opening remarks. The debate has, as usual, ranged fairly widely, but I am curious about the effect of article 2 of the order which says that it means all the provisions of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978, except sections 5 and 28 to 36 and so on. I hope that the Under-Secretary will explain the effect of that when he replies.

I listened to much of the earlier debate and all of this debate with the exception of the few minutes that I missed at the start. I was struck, as I have been on many previous occasions, by the apparent willingness of so many hon. Members to believe everything that they are told about Northern Ireland. That is something that has a long but not altogether happy history in the House.

There was the shooting at Gransha hospital recently. There have been a number of terrorist attacks there over the years. Soldiers and people visiting relatives have also been killed at the general hospital which is only a mile or so away. It seems to have escaped attention that two guns were found in the possession of the IRA at Gransha hospital. One of them had been taken from a police constable some years ago. It is alleged that it has been used since to murder several people.

In the previous Parliament for some weeks hon. Members were complaining about a young man called Sean Gallaher from the Strabane area. It was alleged that he was innocent of everything he had ever been accused of. I listened to those exchanges and wondered why the Government never told the House that man's record. It would have cleared up all the arguments immediately. I eventually made some inquiries, but the matter was then dropped, and I never raised it. The House might be interested in it now. It shows that some people are willing to accept everthing that they are told.

The youth was arrested on the Ballycolman estate one day before his 16th birthday.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

It was Strabane. My right hon. Friend's geography is accurate. When the youth was arrested he was in possession of a ·303 rifle, which is not what one normally finds a 15-year-old running around with.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

Even in Northern Ireland it is unusual to find 15-year-olds running around with ·303 rifles.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

It is not. They are obvious, are they not?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

They are, and the fact that the youth was arrested with one should lead one to believe that he did not have it for any good or legal purpose. He was put into St. Patrick's training school, from which he immediately absconded. He was then spotted living around the IRA caravan which was parked in Lifford just across the river. We can stand and look at it.

We then had the famous case of a Mr. McSheffrey, an internee who was released by the noble Lord Whitelaw, no doubt on the application of his tearful wife. Mr. McSheffrey was subsequently arrested holding up a bank for the IRA. Some months after that his house went up in smoke. When the rescue forces turned up, the front wall was in the front yard, the back wall was in the back yard and Mrs. McSheffrey and her children were under the floorboards which had fallen on top of them when the bomb which was being put together in the bedroom exploded.

The security forces in Northern Ireland are not as foolish and as willing to believe all that they are told as some politicians. Many of us who represent constituencies in Northern Ireland are concerned when we listen time after time in the Chamber to accounts that cannot be correct and find that Ministers, who are in possession of all the facts, are not prepared to relate them to the House and the country so that everyone is made aware of the truth. If they had made the facts known, many of the problems that we have encountered could have been avoided.

Many interesting and wise comments were made in the previous debate and the Baker report is a wise and reasonable document. I am gratified that there is a possibility of descheduling certain offences. As Northern Ireland Members carry out their constituency work, they come across cases—this is the experience of us all—where the scheduled procedure was not the appropriate line of action. Of course, there are dangers in all statutory sentences. When we direct ourselves to the consideration of new legislation, I hope that that factor will be well and truely taken care of and remedied.

In the previous debate there were complaints about aggrevation and harassment by members of the security forces. I have no doubt that we shall hear them again if certain Members catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Much of the alleged harassment and aggravation stems from occasions when they are seeking information and the individuals concerned are not prepared to give it. If we had a proper identity card system, all the information required would be available there and then. If someone was not prepared to carry his identity card and a small fine was applied regularly, he would no doubt learn quickly the error of his ways.

When the Government are considering the replacement of this valuable legislation, I hope that they will consider making the possession of a weapon which has been used for murder an offence in itself. This issue has been raised with the Government on many occasions, but, unfortunately, they have failed to act so far. We have only to think of the gun that was recovered at the Gransha hospital a couple of weeks ago to realise that weapons travel. A person who is found with a weapon that was used to commit murder must be presumed to have received it from another person. He did not find the weapon in his garden overnight; someone must have given it to him. If the person who received it knew that possession would of itself carry a heavy prison sentence, he might think twice before accepting responsibility for having it in his possession, let alone committing murder with it.

In the course of our work as constituency Members we have all talked to the police. We know as well as Ministers that weapons have been used for murder in different parts of Northern Ireland and have been transported throughout the Province. They have turned up again and again for the commission of murder. It seems that the IRA has a considerable number of weapons and tends to use only relatively few of them. As the weapons fall into the hands of the security forces, they are replaced. The IRA does not have a large number of weapons in use in all areas.

As a shooting man, I know how difficult it is to keep weapons in good condition. If a weapon becomes damp in the course of a day's shooting, it is necessary thereafter to clean and oil it and generally to take good care of it. Weapons that are used by terrorists have been found in many strange places and we can sssume that they have not received the good care that I have described. If terrorists have weapons that they wish to keep in good condition, they must keep them dry and oiled. The weapons that are in constant use do not receive that care. Therefore, the IRA tends to keep the bulk of its weapons safe and it is prepared at any time to sacrifice the few that are in constant use. For those reasons, the Government should look seriously at creating an offence of possession of a murder weapon.

The other matter that has not been covered, and should be covered, is the right of silence. It has concerned all of us in Northern Ireland for many years. Individuals are brought in, questioned and held, but steadfastly refuse to open their mouths. Those who are the godfathers—they were described as such by the late Airey Neave—are well known to the police. That has been happening in one form or another for many years. The godfathers are restricted to a fairly small number of people. They are the kingpins. Those who sit quietly, not doing anything themselves but directing, organising, recruiting and spreading their evil by every means at their disposal, should be an absolute top priority target for imprisonment. The silence behind which they hide is something that they should not be allowed to go on using in future, as they have in the past. I hope that when we discuss the replacement legislation, we shall find something that will enable us to get at that relatively small group of key people in the IRA, and for that matter, in the Sinn Fein. They tend to turn up in both organisations with unfailing regularity.

I should like to give a relevant quotation from the Baker report. In paragraph 32, the good man who produced the report says: I hope I have understood and have given full weight to all such arguments in my detailed consideration of the powers but there are three points to be made clear now:(1) There are others who attack the EPA, the security forces and the legal process including the judges and the courts, not for the ultimate purpose of preserving human rights and liberties but for sinister reasons. That is why I opened my remarks with a review of a small number of the many cases that I have been aware of in the past. The attack of many people is not honest. When one sees the forces of law and order that keep society together in Ulster coming under attack, one immediately asks, at any rate in Northern Ireland, not what the published purpose is, but the real purpose, which is the one that the people making the allegations are unwilling to make public.

Baker continued: (2) I have felt increasingly the need for a society for the furtherance of human duties to counter-balance those who are, rightly, so valiant for human rights. A long time ago, someone said that the pulpit was the last refuge of the scoundrel — [Ho N. MEMBERS: "Patriotism."] He did not mean genuine patriotism, so I left that bit out. For the information of hon. Members, it had not escaped my attention that the word "patriotism" was used.

The plain truth is that there are many people who hide behind the banner of human rights, and are interested only in taking away human rights, above all, the right that we all want—the right to life. I can see the odd head or two shaking, but perhaps those who shake their heads should question those with whom they march behind the banner of human rights. The House is the final guarantor of human rights in this nation. That is why we who are of the Unionist tradition want to sit in it. This is where our human rights are guaranteed. That is why we come here. That is why the person who does not come here does not do so. He is not interested in human rights. He is interested in his selfish rights, and in the selfish desires of those whom he represents.

Thirdly, Sir George Baker said: Nevertheless, I am completely unconvinced that if the EPA powers were, or were even substantially, abolished we would waken up next morning to universal sweet reason and an end to violence. Unfortunately they remain broadly necessary both to curb violence and to bring the guilty criminals to justice. The high probability of detection and subsequent conviction has always been regarded as the best deterrent. That puts in a nutshell the vital reasons for maintaining this legislation. I believe that the legislation has been necessary, is necessary and, unfortunately, will continue to be necessary.

If anyone doubts the willingness of the IRA to murder those whom it would claim as its religious bedfellows, let him consider the punishment shootings, the murders of other Roman Catholics and the whole edifice of terrorism that the IRA has erected wherever it has become dominant, inflicting the most awful indignities on the population so as to drive them to their deaths or into the evil ways of which the activities of the IRA and Sinn Fein are the most blatant examples that this country has ever seen.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea , Mid Ulster 11:21 pm, 20th December 1984

I am delighted to be able to participate in this debate and to say that my colleagues and I will support the continuation of the legislation.

I remind hon. Members that, while we sit in the comfort of this House, members of the security forces are actively engaged in the defence of freedom and democracy in Northern Ireland. I pay tribute to their courage. Our minds should go to those who, in all kinds of weather, stand between us and the enemy. I am delighted that the voice of the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Adams) is not heard in the Chamber, but I am sorrowful indeed that other hon. Members speak with that kind of voice and parrot many of the phrases of Republican propaganda, which should be condemned by every right-thinking Member of Parliament.

The House should be mindful of the families recently attacked by the IRA with murderous intent. Two members of the UDR are at this very moment fighting for their lives. That will not concern the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), because it is the result of his friends' activities. The whole House should condemn the action of the hon. Member for Islington, North. I hope that instead of running after petty Irish votes in his constituency he will in future think of the safety of the security forces and of every British citizen.

At this season of Christmas we should be thinking of the seven injured members of the UDR and especially the two who are so seriously ill. We should also remember the gallant member of the Army who recently lost his life on the Fermanagh border. It ill becomes any Member of the House to give succour or encouragement to murderous, butchering groups such as Sinn Fein and the fellow travellers of the IRA.

The legislation before us is important. The innocent Northern Ireland community continues to be subject to diabolical criminal attacks from republican men of blood —from terrorists whose only aim is the destruction of democracy and the denial of that right basic to any free society: the right to live. I trust that, after a resounding vote in the House tonight, there will be a continuance of the Act. I trust that Opposition Members will rise to the situation and defend freedom and democratic rights in Northern Ireland by ensuring that this legislation is retained.

I agree that the legislation should have been taken off the statute book long ago. But that can be done only when the situation permits it—when the men of murder and destruction have been defeated.

I was delighted to hear the Minister say that it was for the Government to eradicate the men of terror and the violent men in Northern Ireland. There can only be a future for democracy when the men of terror are removed from society.

When the choice was made in Londonderry between members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the SAS and members of the IRA, I am delighted to report that it was two IRA men who were carried out instead of two members of Her Majesty's forces. I make no apology to any hon. Member for clearly stating that view.

The fact that the legislation must be retained after so many years is an indictment of past Administrations. Normality has not been restored in the Province. The book of Revelation tells us how the souls under the altars cried out, "How long, 0 Lord". The House has a right to ask the Government tonight how long the situation is to be permitted to continue. We have a right to ask that the tragedy should be brought to a speedy conclusion.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea , Mid Ulster

I am glad that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) has taken up some of the words. Perhaps he will be converted, like Saul of Tarsus. Perhaps tonight we shall see the hon. Gentleman standing for the first time side by side with those hon. Members who believe in the continuance of democracy in Northern Ireland. Perhaps he will go through the right Lobby, instead of voting to support the men of terror and violence.

No doubt there are difficulties to be faced by the Secretary of State and the Ministers, but I believe that, until the right diagnosis is made, we cannot effect a cure. The Government must clearly state that the IRA can, must and will be defeated. Their determination must be clearly seen. I trust that, when the Minister replies to the debate, he will make it plain.

Alas, the cancer of terrorism is permitted to inflict sorrow and tragedy upon a long-suffering community. It ill becomes hon. Members to extend the courtesies of the House to members of Sinn Fein, when the same Sinn Fein and the IRA are inflicting continuous murder, violence and sorrow upon the people of Ulster.

Some people are wondering tonight whether their loved one — a member of the security forces or just an ordinary Protestant living near the Border — will be wrapped up in a shroud before Christmas and brought home in a coffin. Hon. Members should give absolute support to the members of the security forces.

In this Christmas season, the House should send its best wishes to the security forces in Northern Ireland, to the RUC and the RUC Reserve, in which we take pride and the Ulster Defence Regiment, which has served Her Majesty and Northern Ireland with absolute distinction. It has shown professionalism and bravery second to none. Last but by no means least we should send our best wishes to the rest of Her Majesty's Forces. I salute them and their courage and trust that they will have a peaceful and joyful Christmas. May 1985 bring us the peace that we have longed for.

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell , Middlesbrough 11:30 pm, 20th December 1984

I admire the energy of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea). He has followed our debates since 3.45 pm and this was his first opportunity to make a speech. I am aware that the Irish problem has been with us for many years and I do not wish in any way to detract from its seriousness, but I was not aware that it went back to the book of Revelation. Even if a solution to the problem came via Tarsus we should be grateful.

I remind hon. Members that the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 was passed by a Labour Government. It was a consolidation measure. We accept that the emergency powers exist to combat sustained terrorist violence. Two years ago at this time, the debate took place against the sombre background of the Ballykelly bombing. One year ago it preceded the Harrods bomb but succeeded the assassination of Edgar Graham, to whom the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) referred in the previous debate. In the past few days, let alone weeks, a car bomb has exploded without warning outside a nightclub used by off-duty soldiers in Holywood, County Down with 60 lbs of nails, nuts and bolts in it, a gunman has been shot dead and a man has been captured by an RUC patrol after a land mine explosion caught a UDR Land Rover, injuring seven men, on a road outside Moy, County Armagh.

These are not anecdotal incidents but part of a pattern and a sad way of life which, as the Secretary of State said, are, we hope, diminishing. Nevertheless, they leave their trace and trail across Northern Ireland. In the Opposition's view, which I know is shared by the Government, there is no such thing as an acceptable level of violence. Nor can we allow terrorism to set the agenda for a political debate. That is not to say, however, that there should not be a political agenda or a political debate.

Much has been said about what are known as SOSPs — those who are held at the Secretary of State's pleasure. They are young people who could not be committed to life imprisonment because, at the time of their conviction, they were under 18. Witnesses told Sir George Baker of how demoralising it is for young people to be imprisoned without a release date, without hope and with nothing fixed to which they could look forward. All hon. Members have referred to that, as did the Secretary of State. The Opposition share that worry and look forward to some alleviation of the problem.

In the earlier debate we discussed Diplock courts and evidence given by the Cobden Trust to Sir George Baker. The Cobden Trust's sample for 1981 showed that 60 per cent. had been remanded for more than nine months before sentence and that almost 10 per cent. had been remanded for more than 15 months. In considering bail applications, judges paid little attention to the evidence against the accused. In addition, 40 per cent. of those tried in the Diplock courts have no connection with political violence, and 87 per cent. of those charged with robbery appeared to have carried out the alleged offences for ordinary criminal motives, and were, thus, denied their right to trial by jury.

The Opposition are extremely worried about civil liberties and civil rights. The Secretary of State said earlier that he would consider some of the amendments proposed by Sir George Baker. When the amendments come before the House, we shall examine them carefully and decide how to vote on them. However, as we look at what is before us now — trial without jury, conviction by a single judge—we have no alternative but to vote against the order. Voting for it would do more harm than good.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea 11:40 pm, 20th December 1984

I had hoped that, having gone through the catalogue of horrors in Northern Ireland, including recent events, the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) would say that the Opposition had decided to support the renewal of the powers.

It has been common ground in virtually all parts of the House that we need exceptional measures to deal with an exceptional situation. It is irresponsible for the Labour party to seek to deny us the necessary powers to deal with terrorism.

It is clearly not possible for me to cover every point raised in the debate. However, we have listened to all the comments made by hon. Members and we will bear them in mind when we shape our legislation.

I apologise to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) for the fact that he has not yet had a reply to his parliamentary question. He will get a reply, and a letter in response to the letter that he sent to me.

The campaign against strip searching in Armagh prison, which is carried on with great hysteria in this country and in the United States, is misguided and is based on false evidence of what happens at Armagh.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

No. I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman.

The impression has been given that every time a prisoner goes from Armagh to the court house nearby she is strip searched when she leaves and strip searched when she comes back. In the past two or three months the number of strip searches of those remand prisoners at Armagh has been running at two or three a month. Strip searching overall at Armagh this year is running at less than one strip search per prisoner per month. The progapanda campaign that has been run against the practice is a distortion of the facts.

The question of proscription was also raised.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I took a delegation to Armagh and we saw the books. The figures given by the Minister are wrong.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. That is not a point of order.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

I get a report every month.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the Minister aware of the large number of—

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not abuse points of order.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

The proscription of Sinn Fein is a matter which the Government keep under—

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I will listen to the hon. Gentleman if he can satisfy me that he has a point of order.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

The Minister has answered numerous parliamentary questions about strip searches. His replies show that they are continuing at Armagh and at other prisons in this country. He ought to be telling us what those answers were, rather than telling us what he believes the trend to be.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

That is a point of argument and not a point of order.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Scott Mr Nicholas Scott , Chelsea

The proscription of Sinn Fein is kept under review, but I do not think that proscription is a weapon which should be used lightly. We are fighting to defend law and order and the democratic process, and freedom of speech is a fundamental part of that process.

I also do not think that the mere proscription of Sinn Fein would stop the present leaders of the organisation from continuing to say and do what they say and do now, though under the guise of another organisation; nor would it change the attitudes of those who support Sinn Fein or prevent them from expressing their support for extreme Republican views. This is a balanced judgment. It is something, as I have said, that the Government keep under review, but at the moment I think that we are right not to go down the road of proscription.

I know that the police study very carefully the statements that are made by Sinn Fein leaders to see whether they would justify action that might lead to a prosecution, and the adequacy of the law in this area, too, is kept under review.

I was asked about those detained at the Secretary of State's pleasure, but all that I would add to my remarks at the end of the previous debate is that I am very much aware of the uncertainty in the minds of all prisoners—and their families — who are serving indeterminate sentences. Very early in the new year I hope to produce a document that will be issued to prisoners, their families, and to organisations outside concerned with the welfare of prisoners, which will indicate how the review procedure works. We shall make it clear that in future prisoners will be able to submit written representations when their cases come up for review, and can then be told the outcome of the review or if the answer is that they are not to have a release date fixed, when the case will next be reviewed. In that way I hope that we can help at least to clear up much of the uncertainty that now bedevils the attitude of those serving indeterminate sentences.

The hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross) raised a detailed point about the second paragraph of the continuation order. It refers to those bits of the Act which, under section 33, do not lapse annually, and so do not need to be reviewed under this order. I shall certainly have another look at his point about the possession of murder weapons as we come to review all the provisions.

I end by echoing some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea). As we conclude the debate, it is right to pay a warm tribute to the judges, magistrates, policemen, soldiers and prison officers in Northern Ireland upon whom we all depend so much. At this time of the year in particular it is right to pay them that tribute. We need their protection. They stand between us and anarchy in Northern Ireland, and I pay a warm tribute to the work that they do on behalf of the community in Northern Ireland.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 37.

Division No. 60][11.42 pm
AYES
Alexander, RichardBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBright, Graham
Amess, DavidBrinton, Tim
Ashby, DavidBrooke, Hon Peter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Bruinvels, Peter
Baldry, TonyButterfill, John
Beggs, RoyCarlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Benyon, WilliamCarlisle, John (N Luton)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Blackburn, JohnCash, William
Bonsor, Sir NicholasChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Boscawen, Hon RobertChope, Christopher
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Colvin, MichaelMeyer, Sir Anthony
Conway, DerekMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Coombs, SimonMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cope, JohnMorris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Couchman, JamesMoynihan, Hon C.
Dover, DenMurphy, Christopher
Dunn, RobertNewton, Tony
Durant, TonyNicholson, J.
Evennett, DavidPaisley, Rev Ian
Eyre, Sir ReginaldPercival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Fallon, MichaelPortillo, Michael
Favell, AnthonyPowell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyPowley, John
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Rhodes James, Robert
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Forth, EricRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanRobinson, P. (Belfast E)
Fox, MarcusRoe, Mrs Marion
Freeman, RogerRoss, Wm. (Londonderry)
Gale, RogerRossi, Sir Hugh
Galley, RoyRowe, Andrew
Goodhart, Sir PhilipRumbold, Mrs Angela
Gregory, ConalSackville, Hon Thomas
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Sayeed, Jonathan
Ground, PatrickScott, Nicholas
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hanley, JeremyShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hargreaves, KennethSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Haselhurst, AlanSmyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Hayes, J.Speed, Keith
Hayward, RobertSpencer, Derek
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidSquire, Robin
Hind, KennethStanbrook, Ivor
Hirst, MichaelSteen, Anthony
Holt, RichardStern, Michael
Hooson, TomStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Howard, MichaelStevens, Martin (Fulham)
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Stradling Thomas, J.
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Taylor, Rt Hon John David
Howells, GeraintTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Hunt, David (Wirral)Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Hunter, AndrewThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasThurnham, Peter
Jackson, RobertTracey, Richard
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickTwinn, Dr Ian
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffreyvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Waddington, David
Jones, Robert (W Herts)Walden, George
Kilfedder, James A.Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Waller, Gary
Knight, Gregory (Derby N)Ward, John
Knowles, MichaelWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Knox, DavidWarren, Kenneth
Lang, IanWatts, John
Lawler, GeoffreyWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Wheeler, John
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkWhitney, Raymond
Lilley, PeterWilkinson, John
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Wolfson, Mark
McCrea, Rev WilliamWood, Timothy
McCurley, Mrs AnnaYeo, Tim
McCusker, Harold
Maginnis, KenTellers for the Ayes:
Major, JohnMr. Archie Hamilton and
Mather, CarolMr. Michael Neubert.
Maude, Hon Francis
NOES
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBeckett, Mrs Margaret
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Bell, Stuart
Brown, N, (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Maynard, Miss Joan
Campbell-Savours, DaleMichie, William
Clay, RobertMikardo, Ian
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Nellist, David
Corbyn, JeremyPike, Peter
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Prescott, John
Deakins, EricRedmond, M.
Dobson, FrankRichardson, Ms Jo
Dormand, JackRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Dubs, AlfredSkinner, Dennis
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Soley, Clive
Flannery, MartinWelsh, Michael
Hume, JohnWinnick, David
Lamond, James
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Tellers for the Noes:
McDonald, Dr OonaghMr. Norman Hogg and
McNamara, KevinMr. John McWilliam.
Marek, Dr John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 (Continuance) (No. 2) Order 1984, which was laid before this House on 27th November, be approved.