Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:13 am on 26th June 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Humphrey Atkins Mr Humphrey Atkins , Spelthorne 12:13 am, 26th June 1985

I shall be very brief, but I must comment on what I regard as a deplorable speech from the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer). He knows as well as anyone else in the House that the Provisional IRA and all other terrorist organisations are evil and ruthless. So far as one can judge, they want only one thing: to overthrow the existing order and replace it with themselves. No doubt if they achieve that, they would keep order with the same methods as they used to get it. As we know, they will do anything to achieve their objectives. They will murder—Airey Neave, for example. They will murder British soldiers, Irish soldiers, and innocent citizens in Northern Ireland. They will resort to the weapon of blackmail by using the hunger strike, which happened when I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. They will murder indiscriminately innocent people on the mainland.

Terrorists will use any method to achieve their ends, yet the right hon. and learned Gentleman maintains that they should be dealt with as though they were people who had broken the speed limit in Sussex. I cannot believe that Labour Back-Bench Members will support him. I hope that they will not. I beg them not to support him, because the emergency powers that we are being invited to renew tonight are a weapon which we would much rather not use if we had the opportunity, but which we have used and which the people whom we hire to work on our behalf—the security forces—wish to continue to use. They believe that they are to our advantage.