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The Prevention of Terrorism Act continues to play an important part in the fight against terrorism in Northern Ireland. Detailed statistics on the operation of the Act in Northern Ireland are given in quarterly bulletins published by the Northern Ireland Office. Copies of these are available in the Library.
May I have a straight answer to a question that I have repeatedly asked for the past three months? Is it illegal, under section 10 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, for insurance companies in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom to make payments directly or indirectly to the IRA? Is that illegal?
The hon. Gentleman has asked me this or associated questions on four occasions. If he has a shred of evidence which shows that any illegal act has taken place, he should send that evidence to the police.
Is it not also true that a number of people in Northern Ireland and on this side of the water are alive today who would otherwise be dead if it were not for the Prevention of Terrorism Act? Is it not a disgrace that the Opposition should have consistently voted on three-line Whips against that life-preserving measure?
My hon. Friend echoes a point that I have made several times from the Dispatch Box on both the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. If the Opposition came to office they would find that, within a matter of days, they, like us, would need these powers in the battle against terrorism.