Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th January 1989.

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Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 12:00 am, 12th January 1989

Obviously I endorse the hon. Gentleman's opening comments. Although the number of deaths is the same as the figure for the year before, that figure is far too high. At the same time, as he knows, we are in the teeth of what the IRA intend to be a sustained campaign, of which the chief constable of the RUC made mention. It would be right to pay tribute to the efforts of the security forces over the past few months in preventing what could have been, and what was forecast to be, an appalling end to the year. That did not actually happen, but that does not mean that there is any room for complacency. It is right to recognise the significant number of finds of arms and explosives and the significant number of arrests where charges have been preferred as well.

As to the hon. Gentleman's particular point, he knows that I will not give him a blanket answer from the Dispatch Box, but it is vital that we make the very best use or available resources. That may not always mean leaving security checks in a static position, which takes up a lot of manpower and can often be easily bypassed.