Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions)

– in the House of Commons at 3:54 pm on 8th March 1989.

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Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 3:54 pm, 8th March 1989

I beg to move, That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 1st March, be approved. We are gathered here for the annual event of the renewal of the emergency powers and provisions in Northern Ireland. As the House knows, the rules have been changed under the 1987 Act so that that Act will lapse in 1992 and it will require totally fresh—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the Secretary of State, but I should make it clear to the House that we are also debating the second motion: That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 1989, which were laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I think that that will be for the convenience of the House.

The 1987 Act will lapse in 1992 and it will then be necessary for totally fresh legislation to be brought before the House if the emergency provisions and emergency powers are to continue.

These provisions require an annual renewal of the legislation, which gives the House an opportunity to review it. The first question before the House today is whether the emergency provisions and emergency powers are necessary. If that question is answered in the affirmative, as it is by Lord Colville in his extremely valuable review, the second question is whether they are all necessary, given that they are necessary in general.

One of the advantages now enjoyed by our debate is that we are in possession of Lord Colville's report on the operation in 1988 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts. I am sure that I speak on behalf of the House when I express our appreciation for the thorough and constructive way in which Lord Colville has approached that task. His report has undoubtedly improved the quality of our debates. People do not necessarily agree with all the conclusions that Lord Colville may draw, but he has gone into these matters thoroughly and made clear in his report how many people he spoke to and the depth in which he has studied these matters. It is extremely helpful to have his independent assessment of the Acts.

Lord Colville concluded that the emergency powers are necessary; not least after yesterday's events, and after other recent outrages, I hardly think that anybody would seek to suggest that there was not every need to ensure that the security forces are properly equipped with the necessary powers and resources to give support to the community and to protect it from attacks, from whichever extreme they may come.

As the House is aware, the IRA is currently seeking to mount a particularly vicious campaign in Northern Ireland, aided and significantly resourced by weapons and explosives from Libya. That campaign poses a major threat at present to the security of the community and it endangers members of that community throughout the Province no matter from which side they may come. We have had some particularly awful and nasty IRA attacks, as well as attacks from other extreme republican terrorist groups, and some particularly appalling loyalist extremist attacks. I know that the House will join me in uniformly condemning them, from whichever quarter they come.

Yesterday evening's atrocity, against the background of the recent instructions for no attacks on civilians which were, apparently, given by supporters of the IRA, strikes the depths of hypocrisy. We have seen a background of attacks on distinguished civil servants, judges, contractors, service families, on the Hanna family, Gillian Johnston, the grandfather and grand-daughter returning from bingo in Benburb and on the good neighbours in Londonderry going to see whether another neighbour was all right. We have seen the bomb attached under the car of somebody who had the misfortune of buying a house previously owned by an RUC member who had moved more than a year before, the attacks on the two civilians passing the Falls road swimming pool and the security guard at Donacloney, the atrocity last night at Coagh and the attack on the former policeman in Donegal. We have seen mistake after mistake, and nastiness after nastiness from both extremes.

Those outrages bring home to us all too clearly, as those who work or spend time in Northern Ireland know, the vital need to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the security forces and to ensure that whoever is responsible for outrages is brought to justice and that those who can give help or information to the RUC do so to break this appalling cycle of murder, viciousness and bestiality, whose only product is yet more murder, killing and bestiality.

In bringing these instruments before the House, I have even less need for embarrassment than before in standing for the need for the special powers and the paramount importance of ensuring that the police and security forces have the resources and powers available to them to deal with the nasty and evil people who exist in some of the darker and less attractive corners of the Province.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

The whole House is with the right hon. Gentleman in what he has said. Can he tell us a little more about the incident to which he referred in which more Semtex was discovered yesterday in Scarborough and the possibility that more than one active cell of the IRA may be involved in trying to promote more violence in Great Britain?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I cannot comment further on that from the information that the police have made available. I referred earlier to a particularly vicious IRA campaign which is amply reinforced by weapons and explosives supplied by Libya. I know that no hon. Member is under any illusions that the campaign is confined to Northern Ireland or to Great Britain. One knows from events, whether in Gibraltar, Germany or Holland, that the IRA's intention is to kill, maim and murder wherever it finds easy targets and wherever it thinks that carnage can be created and attention drawn to its evil purposes.

I am afraid that we had confirmation yesterday of the IRA's determination to use its resources in whatever ways may cause the maximum stress and suffering. It also reminds us that no society can stand aside from such terrorism and that everyone in the mainland of Great Britain is as one with the people of Northern Ireland. We face a common threat, we must face it together with all the resources that our country can bring to bear, and we must face it with the Government of the Republic as well. Anyone who stops for more than a second to study the IRA—or the UVF and others in the short term—knows that, if they were to succeed in their awful campaign in Northern Ireland, it would be a serious threat to the future of democratic government throughout the island of Ireland.

Photo of Mr James Kilfedder Mr James Kilfedder , North Down

In view of the catalogue of atrocities to which the right hon. Gentleman has rightly referred, was it not wrong for the Government to cut the amount of money available to the Royal Ulster Constabulary?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

What is quite wrong is to try to score such political points, especially if they are totally incorrect. If the hon. Gentleman wants to say that he wishes that the increased funds to the RUC had been increased by even more than the amount by which we increased them this year, he has a valid point, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the House and I assume that his remark was an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Funds for the RUC have in no sense been cut. They have been increased and we shall seek to ensure, at all times, that the RUC has the necessary resources available.

Anyone who is familiar with, or knows something of, the work of the RUC cannot fail to be impressed by their courage, professionalism, training and equipment. all of which take resources, and do not give the impression, with great respect to the hon. Gentleman, that the RUC is starved of funds. It is a police force for which I am proud to have some responsibility. It works bravely in extremely difficult circumstances and is increasingly recognised as a force seeking honestly to deal impartially with both communities and to protect both from the extremes and nastiness that can exist in Northern Ireland. I am anxious to ensure that it has the necessary resources to achieve its objectives. I hope that that point is clear.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport

In view of the discovery of Semtex in Scarborough yesterday and yet another threat to assassinate our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, will my right hon. Friend say something about the freedom of movement of Irish citizens across the border from Southern Ireland into Ulster and by sea from the Republic to ports in this country? Is he satisfied that there is adequate surveillance? As my right hon. Friend is aware, there is at present a debate about border controls between, for example, France and the United Kingdom and Belgium and United Kingdom. Yet Irish citizens can move here freely without passports. Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there are proper controls over their movements?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My hon. Friend is right: there is easy and ready access, and the connections between the two countries are manifest and extensive. On the most recent figures, about 1 million first-generation Irish people are living and working in Great Britain. The contacts and involvements are substantial, and there are various anomalies. It is, for example, no secret that there are citizens of the Irish Republic serving in the British Army. They are enlisting in British regiments and serving honourably and bravely in them. There are many connections.

The tragedy and awfulness of terrorism is that the genuine and admirable relationships which have existed for so long between our countries are put under strain by evil men and evil pressures. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are trying to ensure free movement backwards and forwards, whether for Irish race horses coming here or for Jack Charlton managing the Irish football team, and the relationships are myriad. We try to ensure that decent, honest people can maintain friendly relations, while also trying to ensure that proper scrutiny and the best intelligence are maintained on those whose intentions may be less satisfactory than we would wish.

We have a short debate, so I must proceed to say a word about the two Acts. That is necessary, because I doubt that I am the only Member of this House who has difficulty in finding his way through the maze of the two Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 and the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 and deciding which powers arise from which Act.

Although I have enormous sympathy with Lord Colville's suggestion about consolidating all the legislation, I cannot respond to that. However, it would be enormously to the benefit of any hon. Member trying to contribute to these debates, because the legislation has evolved in a complex way. Although I do not see any early prospect of such consolidation, I can well understand why Lord Colville made that suggestion.

I remind the House that we are proposing to continue the emergency provisions Act 1978, which has three key elements. It gives the security forces in Northern Ireland extra powers to deal with the special problems of terrorism in Northern Ireland, including the powers to stop and question, to arrest, to search and to seize. It also provides powers to proscribe organisations and creates offences relating to training people in the manufacture or use of firearms or explosives and to displays of support for proscribed organisations. That Act also provides the legal authority for the so-called Diplock courts.

The 1987 Act introduced a statutory right for persons arrested to have someone notified of their arrest and whereabouts and to have access to legal advice. It provides authority for me to impose statutory time limits on pretrial stages of proceedings and it introduced a statutory scheme for regulating the security guard industry in Northern Ireland. That was one of the first steps that we took to try to stop some of the rackets and the gangsterism that disfigures various activities in Northern Ireland. The provision of those two Acts are all temporary and, unless we renew them in this order, they will lapse on 21 March.

I turn now to the basis on which we are proposing that the two Acts be renewed. As I did last year, I express my appreciation to Lord Colville for his review, which was thorough and penetrating. I refer to his recommendations on certain provisions that could lapse, but as I said at the beginning of my speech, we have two questions to answer: should we renew these emergency provisions, and if we should, do we need to renew them all?

Lord Colville pointed to certain powers that can now be allowed to lapse. They all relate to the 1978 Act and comprise section 24, which gives the security forces the power to call upon assemblies of three or more people to disperse: paragraph 4 of schedule 3, which allows the RUC to impose directions on the conduct of funerals and paragraph 5 of schedule 3, under which I can, by order close licensed premises and clubs for public order purposes. Lord Colville stated that each of those three powers could now be allowed to lapse, apart from one part of paragraph 4 of schedule 3, under which the police can require people taking part in funerals to travel by car.

The Government welcome those recommendations, and the order and regulations that we are considering today will give effect to them. I hope that the House recognises that that confirms our readiness to consider the provisions, to review them where sensible and to reduce powers that are no longer necessary, but only—I stress the word "only"—when it is safe to do so.

In that context, I also welcome and accept Lord Colville's recommendation that when the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 becomes law, the RUC's power of arrest under section 13 of the 1978 Act can lapse. That is the police's sole remaining arrest power under the emergency provisions Acts—thereafter, the police will rely on the power in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 or the ordinary criminal law. That further reduction in the emergency law would be another welcome adjustment in the balance of the law.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

Given that we have seen extreme violence at funerals, what powers will the police have over the conduct of such funerals in the future?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

There are powers in the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 in the prevention of terrorism Act and in the ordinary criminal law. Rather than try to give a precise answer to that question off the cuff, I suggest that the hon. Gentleman studies Lord Colville's report because the powers that Lord Colville suggests can lapse will not leave gaps that would leave the RUC without proper powers of control. As Lord Colville identified, there is undoubtedly some duplication. We should like to achieve the least possible difference. The security forces have powers that make the emergency provisions redundant. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will—

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I shall give way again briefly to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

Can we take it as a general principle that all the provisions that are being allowed to fall are covered elsewhere?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

If the hon. Gentleman reads Lord Colville's report, he will find that that is his view—and it is our view also. I am putting forward our proposals only after close consultation with the RUC and the Army.

I turn now to the main findings of Lord Colville's report. As I have already said, Lord Colville makes it clear that, in general, the powers continue to be needed, but it is important that the powers are seen to be used fairly and impartially. Lord Colville also raised a difficult issue that had been raised previously—that of an alternative charge of manslaughter for members of the security forces who may be charged with the use of undue force or even with murder. In the present circumstances, they can be found only guilty or not guilty of that serious charge, and it has been suggested that there should be an alternative charge of manslaughter. At the moment, Lord Windlesham is chairing a committee on murder and manslaughter and their treatment under the law. As that issue is under consideration, I propose to await the outcome of that committee's findings before commenting further. However, I entirely understand why Lord Colville raised that issue.

Elsewhere in his report, Lord Colville returned to the question of "certifying in". That is the idea that, instead of defendants being tried before a Diplock court, unless the Attorney-General decides otherwise, the presumption should be that they will be sent for a jury trial unless the case is certified in to a Diplock court. Since Lord Colville's report last year, the balance seems to have shifted more in favour of the idea of certifying in. As that might be perceived as a further step towards normality, we are willing to consider it seriously, especially if we find that the proposal is generally welcomed. I hope that those comments will be helpful.

Likewise, we shall have another close look at Lord Colville's remarks about the video recording of terrorist interviews, although there are substantial arguments against such a course. Such arguments are partly rehearsed in Lord Colville's report, as is the question of the audio recording of terrorist interviews, but that also raises some difficult issues. However, as I have said, we shall reconsider that.

I have made it clear that the Government are pleased to accept most of Lord Colville's recommendations and that they are contained in the amending regulations. We shall reconsider his two points about certifying in and video recording and. as I have said, the issue of a manslaughter offence will be considered further in the light of the Windlesham findings.

The debate on these emergency provisions and the focusing on the powers that they contain can be misrepresented by others to suggest that the Government believe that, by these provisions alone, the serious situation and threat of terrorism can be effectively addressed. It is, of course, vital to ensure that in the exceptional difficulties and circumstances that the security forces face in protecting the community from attacks, from whichever quarter they may come, they have the necessary powers to enable them to discharge those responsibilities.

But as Lord Colville emphasised, it is absolutely vital that the powers about which I have talked—of arrest, of stop and search and of seizure—are used in a responsible and proper manner. I know that the Chief Constable and General Officer Commanding, Northern Ireland attach the greatest importance to ensuring that all those concerned—be they constables or private soldiers, and whether they be in the RUC, the Regular Army or the UDR—at all times conduct themselves to the highest standards and in the best traditions of the regiments and organisations to which they belong.

Anybody who knows anything about Northern Ireland appreciates how easy it is for them to be, and how often they will be, subject to provocation—how people try to embarrass them and how young soldiers often find themselves in difficult circumstances, when a great deal is asked of them. We in this House must recognise, and pay tribute to, the way in which the overwhelming majority of those young people, on finding themselves in often dangerous and frightening circumstances, still comply with and honour the codes under which they have been trained and instructed. We owe a great debt to them.

It is absolutely vital that they act in that way. When those standards are not maintained and when, sometimes under stress or pressure of one sort or another, one constable, young soldier or whoever it may be, slips from those standards, the propaganda machine can easily wind into action, criticism can easily arise and damage can be done to the whole reputation of the security forces, to the cause for which they stand and to the interests of a free society. I appreciate, therefore, why Lord Colville addressed these matters as he did. I appreciate also the enormous importance that those in authority give to ensuring that the people under their command understand the importance of all of this.

Apart from the exercise of these provisions, it is important, if we are to meet the threat of terrorism and the evil attack on democratic society that it represents, that in every respect we can be seen to be conducting administration—be it the administration of justice or of government in Northern Ireland—thoroughly, fairly and properly.

I pay tribute to the courage, tremendous service and distinction of the judiciary, to all those involved in the courts service and particularly, in view of recent events, of all those involved in the legal profession, who seek to maintain the standards of justice in Northern Ireland.

We have had problems, for instance in the administration of justice. There have been problems over delays in cases coming forward, with considerable delays for people on remand. All of those have given rise to genuine feelings of grievance, with people believing that they have not been fairly treated. We owe it to the security forces and to those who stand in the front line to ensure that the other elements in our policy are fair and effective and do not give rise to grievance and disaffection in such a way that their task is made more difficult.

We must consider the situation in the courts, the proper administration of the courts, and have a fair and positive approach to prison policy. In economic policy, we must ensure that we create the opportunity for more employment, with fairness and equality of opportunity in the achievement of those jobs. We must provide a better environment and seek to ensure a better quality of housing; establish higher standards and better opportunities in education, with more opportunity for education together by way of integrated education, cross-community contacts and schemes between schools and in further education or in other voluntary activities. All those features can contribute to what must be an effective and comprehensive Government policy towards addressing some of the tragedies and challenges that are represented by attitudes and the situation in Northern Ireland today.

It is the aim of the terrorist to destroy and intimidate, and to kill the hopes of a better life and future for the people in Northern Ireland. It is our ambition—as it is of every Member in this democratic House of Commons—to see that the people of Northern Ireland have a chance of a better future, and better prospects and, through the defeat of the men of violence, to restore hope and opportunity to the Province.

We seek by many means to achieve that, but one necessary ingredient must be to ensure that the security forces, who stand in the front line against the most evil and nasty elements that exist in the Province, have the powers and provisions to do their job. It is in that spirit that I commend the order to the House.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North 4:26 pm, 8th March 1989

Regrettably, once again we are obliged to discuss Northern Ireland business in the shadow of the gunman. Yesterday's murders demonstrated yet again the depth to which the conflict in Northern Ireland can sink. On behalf of the Opposition, I extend my condolences to the families of the victims.

I assure the Government that we are committed to the defeat of the so-called freedom fighters, whose vision of freedom is limited to the freedom of the graveyard. Our difference with the Government is how that goal can best be achieved. Whether one rejects or supports the order, no one can be satisfied that we should be obliged to debate yet another renewal order for the emergency provisions Acts.

No hon. Member in any part of the House can take comfort from the fact that the Government feel it necessary to renew the Acts and thus admit that Northern Ireland continues to be a society in which armed soldiers are required to patrol the streets, in which police officers are obliged to carry arms and in which many of the human rights that we take for granted are suspended.

The Labour party realises that there is a serious problem which requires the use of the Army and which necessitates an armed police force. But we do not accept that human rights can be suspended indefinitely without defeating the purpose which the security forces are trying to achieve—the protection of those same rights against the would-be dictators of the paramilitary groups.

The strategy adopted by the Government places the security forces in an invidious position. My party cannot accept that the policy of containment alone, which appears to be adopted by the Government—despite what the Secretary of State said—is viable, and therefore we shall vote against the order.

It has long been accepted by the security forces that they are engaged in a holding operation the objective of which is to provide the space for political leaders to devise effective institutions for the Province. Without such political reforms, the role of the security forces becomes a demoralising exercise in futility.

The longer the politicians hide behind the security forces and rely on them to deal with the problems which emerge from the political morass in Northern Ireland, the more intractable the problems become, the more difficult is the position of the security forces and the more difficult becomes the possibility of a political settlement.

Ultimately, emergency legislation has a corrupting and counter-productive effect. I say corrupting in the sense that the persistence of the emergency leads Ministers and other political leaders to lose the sense of urgency that the occasion demands. It is counter-productive because the suspension of human rights eventually becomes the abolition of those rights, thus accentuating the political problems which gave rise to the emergency in the first place, and so the vicious spiral continues.

It is useless to deny that the security forces face a major problem in the Province, but it is equally foolish to deny that they are part of the problem. They are asked to operate on behalf of political institutions whose legitimacy is contested by part of the population. As a result, the security forces are not accepted in the same way as they would be in other democratic societies. Continuing to allow them the use of powers which they would not need in other democratic societies is an abdication of political responsibility by the leaders in the Province, for which the security forces pay the price. That again is why we shall vote against the order.

Having said that, I am pleased that the Secretary of State has decided to act upon some elements of Lord Colville's report on the operation of the legislation. It is a pity that the Government were not more forthcoming on his report on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984. Although I do not agree with all the conclusions in the report, I believe that it contains a significant number of comments and recommendations which reflect the views of my party.

I want to single out two issues identified by Lord Colville as being of particular importance. In paragraph 1·5 he stated: The battle for hearts and minds should be the paramount preoccupation of those who exercise emergency powers. Although the Labour party believes that the emergency powers themselves are a factor in sustaining grievances which encourage violence, their impact can be significantly attenuated or accentuated by the ways in which the powers are exercised in the homes, on the streets and in the courts.

Lord Colville gives a striking example. The end of the supergrass trials has removed a particularly damaging threat to public confidence in the Diplock courts. Those courts will still be unlikely to gain the compete legitimacy that the judicial institutions in Britain or even the ordinary criminal courts in Northern Ireland enjoy because of the way in which they were instituted, but at least it is possible now to avoid some of the practices which throw the administration of justice into complete public disrepute.

Another issue which Lord Colville raised correctly was the standard of behaviour of the security forces. Critics may object that hon. Members demand an excessively high standard of behaviour from the police and the Army, confronted as they are by paramilitaries whose contempt for human rights is only equalled by their hypocrisy on the subject. Faced with sectarian killers, bombers and vigilantes, there is a natural temptation to take off the kid gloves. That is precisely what must not be allowed to happen. I know that the Secretary of State agrees with me on that, as he said earlier.

We expect high standards from the security forces precisely because they are there to provide security, not insecurity. It is in the best interests of the security forces that they occupy the high moral ground. That increases the chance of defeating the paramilitaries, eventually allowing for the establishment for the first time of recognisably normal forms of policing in Northern Ireland, which is the aim of every party in the House.

I am, therefore, concerned that even after last year's debate the 1982 shootings in Armagh have not yet been laid to rest. On the one hand, the inquest proceedings have been hindered by the negative attitude of the Government in appealing from the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland to the House of Lords, and now, tragically, by the death of Patrick Finucane, the solicitor murdered after the ill-advised comments by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). One of Northern Ireland's most experienced legal figures, Sir Oliver Napier, the current chairman of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, has pointed out: I would hope that Ministers of the Crown would learn that in Northern Ireland words can kill and that their words can be used to justify murder. If those two lessons are learned, Pat Finucane will not have died in vain. Perhaps the Under-Secretary of State has realised the error of his ways and even wishes to forget the remarks that he made, regrettably, in the Standing Committee. That seems to be his attitude because in letters to people who complained about what he said, he now talks about "remarks attributed to me". I do not know what reflection that is upon the people who write for Hansard, or even on the members of the press who were there and heard what he said, or on members of the Committee. Now that he is referring to "remarks attributed to me", I wonder at what stage he will forget that he ever said them.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

The hon. Gentleman has made a serious allegation against my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). He read out part of a letter which I think he said was written by my hon. Friend. Does the hon. Gentleman think that he would be fair if he read out to the House not only that short phrase but the longer passage or the whole paragraph from which he selected those words?

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

It is a short letter to a person who wrote to him on a postcard about the murder of Patrick Finucane. The Under-Secretary of State wrote: This is a tragic and wicked killing. I very much hope that those responsible will be brought before the courts as soon as possible. As to the identity of those responsible or the circumstances in which the murder has taken place, that is a matter for the RUC.I entirely agree with the views Tom King expressed on this matter on Monday 13 February and reject any connection between Mr. Finucane's murder and remarks attributed to me. To seek to make political points on the back of such a tragedy is unworthy and does nobody any credit". It does no one any credit either to deny what he has said or to seek to give an impression by the use of the word "attributed" that that was not the point he made.

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

I am not giving way. The hon. Gentleman asked me to read out the passage, and I have done so.

In regard to confidence in police matters, the internal police proceedings should be speedily concluded in the Stalker affair. I hope that they will be completed before the new chief of the RUC takes over. Not only would that improve confidence in the administration of the RUC but it would be fair to the police officers who have been kept in a state of uncertainty for far too long. Public confidence in the RUC has been damaged by the failure to clear up the affair.

The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) has raised the case of the Armagh four. I have had an opportunity to read the documents which he sent to my right hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock). On the strength of those documents, there are grounds for concern about the case. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider carefully the points made by the hon. Gentleman.

I agree entirely with Lord Colville's second major point. In paragraph 3 of the report he stated: I have approached the review on a simple basis, that the emergency legislation should not remain in force unless the case for it is clearly established. It is clear from the review that that approach extends to the parts as well as the whole. That is an important principle which should not be overlooked. We cannot allow emergency legislation or any emergency powers to remain on the statute book simply through the force of inertia. There is a duty to assess constantly the validity of responses to the paramilitary threat, both in terms of the action on the ground by the security forces, and the policies put into practice by the Secretary of State and by the legislative decisions of the House.

That cannot be confined to the annual reports by the reviewer appointed by the Secretary of State, estimable though the reviewer is and the reports may be. There is already in existence a statutory watchdog for that purpose—the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights established by Parliament under section 20 of the Northern Ireland Act 1974. I regret that the Secretary of State has not treated the commision with sufficient respect in the past year, as he has ignored its views and in some cases its right to be consulted over several issues. As the commission chairman pointed out in a statement on 19 January: I am fearful that everything the commission is doing to promote human rights in Northern Ireland will be cut from under us if the Government does not make greater use of the consultative process which in a democratic society is absolutely essential. The cumulative impact of what Government is doing is most worrying However, the Secretary of State has decided to accept the advice of Lord Colville concerning those parts of the Act which are no longer necessary. I welcome his decision to allow section 24 to lapse and to amend schedule 3. Those powers are unnecessary as they are now covered by other parts of the law. I hope that the Government will act in a similar way in regard to section 13, in the order which I presume will be laid before the House next year—unfortunately. I say unfortunately in the context that all such legislation is unfortunate. I welcome what the Secretary of State said about section 13.

The police power of arrest under section 13 is clearly superfluous, having been used only once, in the first six months of 1988. I suspect that it is something of an embarrassment to the police. and was used only by accident when police officers became confused by the plethora of powers at their disposal. I shall return to that point later and refer to the need for clarity in the law, on which I disagree with the Secretary of State's conclusions.

I am also pleased that Lord Colville recommended that the process of certifying out cases from the Diplock court should be replaced by a system of certifying in. Opposition Members have urged that course for a considerable time. Therefore, we very much welcome the Secretary of State's statement that he is considering that as a sensible option. I believe that that would be one stage closer to restoring the law to normality. If cases are certified in that would be an unusual procedure, and we would improve the position so that there would be more trials by jury.

Perhaps one of the most contentious aspects of the Acts are the powers of internment contained in section 12 and schedule 1 of the 1978 Act. I am pleased that the Secretary of State has had the good sense to continue to allow those powers to lapse, despite urgings from some parts of the House. No Government, since the end of internment in 1976, have considered internment to be a sensible or effective method of dealing with the paramilitaries. However, permitting the power of internment, even if it is dormant, to remain on the statute book presents certain problems. For many in the Province, the distinction is too subtle and demands an awareness of legislative procedure that I doubt exists, and in any case is sometimes misleading.

In Northern Ireland, it is correctly assumed that the Secretary of State can simply sign detention orders at any time he sees fit and fill the prison ships once again. Although an Order in Council would be necessary, the detainees could be in custody long before Parliament had the opportunity to consider the order. Because of that, the power of internment is not dormant in a political sense. It is a live issue which the paramilitaries are only too willing to exploit in the aftermath of their periodic spectacular atrocities, using the threat, and its emotive connotations, to divert attention from their own commitment to violate human rights.

A clear political sign that internment is not an option should be given by removing the power from the statute book. Its existence is a constant reminder to the people of Northern Ireland of the fragility and contested legitimacy of political institutions in the Province.

There are of course aspects of the report with which I disagree, such as the length of periods of remand. The Secretary of State spoke about his new powers in that sphere and we hope to see them in operation fairly soon. Nevertheless, remand periods continue to be excessive. Although efforts have been made to reduce periods spent on remand, the figures remain unacceptably high. According to the statistics published by the Northern Ireland Office, in the first six months of 1988 the average period between first remand and sentencing or discharge was 234 days. Such a state of affairs enables supporters of the paramilitaries to gain credence for claims that internment by remand exists in Northern Ireland. To eliminate that source of controversy, the Secretary of State should make use of his powers under section 3 of the 1987 Act.

Another issue connected with the emergency which has attracted increasing concern is the problem of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences. The review procedure for setting release dates is attracting increasing concern because of the apparent lack of precision and lack of understanding by the parties involved.

We hope that the Government will be able to establish clear and objective criteria for the setting of release dates to reduce the degree of uncertainty and insecurity which afflicts prisoners and their families. We recognise that there are difficulties, but they are not insuperable. We believe that it is in the best interests of good order in the prisons, of the families of the prisoners and of the community that there should be no unnecessary sources of grievances in the prison system.

The Labour party also believes that there is a need to reform the present Diplock court system. I accept that some progress has been made in increasing confidence in the courts, but as long as the sole judge and jury are one and the same, there will be a credibility gap. An effective alternative would be the establishment of three-judge courts. That has also been recommended by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights.

Another area of concern is the admissibility of evidence. Although section 5 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1987 rules out confessions obtained by torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, or by violence or threat of violence, it does not require confessions to be voluntary. I do not share the conclusions of the review on that issue. The courts have interpreted that section in a way which has been regarded as strengthening the position of the prosecution. Once again, confidence in the judicial process has been somewhat reduced. The trend towards the acceptance of involuntary confessions is now to be reinforced powerfully by the possibility of drawing inferences from silence under interrogation permitted by the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. Furthermore, there have been some worrying signs from what goes on during interrogations, as was demonstrated in the Gillen and Forbes cases which are recent, not ancient, history that interrogation rules have been violated and excessive force has been used in some cases. For those reasons it is more urgent than ever that the taping of interviews in police stations should be introduced, as should videoing, as Lord Colville has recommended. Unfortunately, Lord Colville's recommendations did not make completely clear whether videoing meant a silent recording of what went on or whether such videos should include a soundtrack. We believe that the videos should include a soundtrack. The power of the police to deny legal advice to detainees should also be removed, rather than regulated as it is at present.

I was interested to read Lord Colville's comments on the codes of practice for the police and the Army. I hope that those codes will be finalised and published as soon as possible. I feel sure that the Secretary of State and the security forces will wish to avoid the nonsense surrounding the publication of the RUC document "Professional Policing Ethics" at 3.30 on a Friday afternoon. We believe that all codes of practice issued to the RUC and the Army should be published. Given that the whole point of the codes of practice is to convince the public that the security forces behave impartially, there is no reason to keep them under wraps. We are also in favour of giving statutory effect to the codes of practice to ensure that they are not simply instruments for the effective management of the security forces. It is equally important to ensure that members of the public can secure redress and that action is taken publicly to deal with violations of the code. As the aftermath of the Stalker affair revealed, disciplinary hearings in private cannot replace the court room as a forum for winning and maintaining public confidence in the police and the Army.

Finally, I return to the clarity of the criminal law, a matter to which the Secretary of State referred. Lord Colville has twice suggested that the emergency provisions Acts and certain sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be consolidated into separate legislation. That is a welcome suggestion, but I believe that we need to go much further and examine the total picture and the inter-relationship of the various parts of the criminal law with the emergency law and the non-emergency law.

At the most basic level, there is an urgent need to clarify the law for the security forces as well as for the average citizen. Ministers themselves have been somewhat confused, as has been shown by the remarks on searches made by the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, and the recent controversy which the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office provoked by his views on the powers of the security forces to demand dates of birth. Not only does it make Ministers a laughing stock, but, more importantly, it is detrimental to public confidence in the law. Furthermore, it also gives the impression of a piecemeal and haphazard security policy.

If we are to have an emergency law, it should be clear, coherent and concise. There should be no powers which are not needed and no duplication of powers with other emergency powers or with the ordinary criminal law. We should not fall into the trap of believing that the criminal law alone can solve the problems of Northern Ireland.

As the Government fail to address those challenges, I call upon the House to reject the order. Until the Government grasp the reality of Northern Ireland politics and make moves to establish fully legitimate political arrangements for the Province and make proper use of the potential contained in the Anglo-lrish Agreement, and until they realise that there are no military solutions in Northern Ireland, the present depressing climate is likely to prevail. As the emergency provisions Act, far from being a determined response to the paramilitary threat, epitomises political lethargy, the Labour party is obliged to vote against the order.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea , Mid Ulster 4:50 pm, 8th March 1989

I rise with a heavy heart having experienced yesterday evening a most despicable and diabolical sectarian attack in my constituency which left three decent civilians dead in the village of Coagh. It is significant that we are debating the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order 1989 only a few hours after the slaughter of the innocents.

I want first to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the security forces for their faithful service to the Ulster community in very dangerous and trying circumstances. Words of appreciation are not sufficient to express our debt of gratitude to the thousands of young men and women who wear the uniform in defence of freedom, especially during the past years of continuing murderous attacks by the Provisional IRA.

The security situation, unfortunately, continues to deteriorate and a very dangerous situation is about to explode. After 20 years, why do we come to the House today to debate the continuance of emergency provisions? After 20 years, why have the terrorist attacks not ceased or the terrorists been defeated?

I must declare that, unfortunately and sadly, there has been success in the terrorist camp and there are many reasons for that success. One of the reasons why we have to debate these emergency provisions after 20 years is that there is popular support for terrorism within a portion of the republican and nationalist community in Northern Ireland. There is no doubt that the IRA and its political wing, Sinn Fein, can boast considerable popular support in the Roman Catholic community. However, it must also he said that many Roman Catholics find the actions of the murder gangs repugnant. Unfortunately, many find themselves in large republican enclaves in the Province and they are held under the heel of terror. The defeat of terrorism would not only release the majority community in Northern Ireland, the Unionist population, from the heel of the terrorists; it would also release many of the decent Roman Catholics as well.

Unfortunately, over many years there has been a breeding of anti-British hatred and that has been expressed through the use of the gun. I speak with the support of the vast majority of the people in the Province, and, although Ministers may deny this, the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement was a signal to the terrorists as is shown in the infamous words of Danny Morrison following its signing, "We have now proved that more violence will gain more concessions." Unfortunately, the violence continues.

There has been a lack of resolute action against the terrorist gangs. I was interested in the remarks made by the Secretary of State in reaction to my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder) about the availability of finances for the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Around Castlederg terrorist attacks have been common and members of the security forces are continually under threat. Some 400 serving members and ex-members of the security forces must be protected by the soft target protection unit. Is it right for the Secretary of State to claim that all is well when there are only 11 members of the STPU to care for 400 people over miles of countryside? I have spoken to members and ex-members of the RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment and I know that in that border area they feel in grave danger. They believe that there is insufficient protection for them in their homes or when they try to defend the freedom in that area.

It cannot be right for the Secretary of State to claim that all is well. Reserve Constable Monteith was murdered recently in Castlederg at the town's check-point. As the town is so close to the border and because of the evident danger to members of the security forces manning that check-point, a promise was made that three people would man the check-point at all times. Only one person was available to man it on the day that reserve Constable Monteith was murdered. Reserve Constable Monteith was not working that day, but an hour after the check-point was to be opened, he received a telephone call telling him to report for duty because there was no second person to man it. No third person was available; the IRA saw the breach in security and reserve Constable Monteith was murdered and buried as a result.

I make my appeal with the full knowledge and support of the members of the security forces serving in that area.

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

I have listened to the hon. Gentleman in these debates for several years, but he never refers to killings carried out by the so-called loyalists. Does he, along with the rest of us, condemn killings no matter which side carries them out? Does he not think, therefore, that he should mention the loyalist killings, many of which have happened recently?

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea , Mid Ulster

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. However, it is sad to see that he has not examined the official record and has deliberately misrepresented—

Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam , Redcar

Answer the question.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea , Mid Ulster

With the greatest respect, I will answer in my own time and if the hon. Lady wants to intervene, she should have the decency to ask.

I have made it absolutely clear that Ulster does not need any killings and I want to see the security forces carrying out an effective policy throughout the Province which will remove the men of terror right across the community. That is what I want for Northern Ireland. In the five or six years that I have been a Member of this House I have still to hear the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) state genuinely that he has much pity for the loyalist community, which has suffered so much over the past 20 years from the murderous thugs of the IRA. As usual, the hon. Gentleman wants to draw us away from the attacks. All I am talking about is an innocent RUC man and I suppose that that is not enough for the hon. Member for Hillsborough.

I am concerned about members of the security forces who are in danger and I have been asked to make representations on their behalf by the people who elected me. It ill becomes any hon. Member to try to play down the serious threat faced by members of the security forces from callous, cowardly bunches of thugs and terrorists who do not care whether they murder Protestants or Roman Catholics.

Members of the security forces do not believe that there are sufficient personnel to protect Castlederg in my constituency. The other evening I spoke at a meeting there. A call was put out to me as a Member of Parliament that, since we were only half a mile from the border, there should be extra security personnel.

Castlederg police station is close to the border and the town is more vulnerable to and has faced more bomb attacks than any other. In its graveyard a dozen UDR men and reserve personnel are lying in their coffins, yet whenever a call is made for more personnel, the answer comes back "Sorry, we have only two people to cover the complete area and no one is available to go out in a car because the station will be left without personnel". I should be delighted for the Secretary of State to check that. Personnel from Strabane covered the meeting that evening.

Unfortunately, my constituency is in the border area and the community faces attacks from terrorists hiding in the safe haven of the Irish Republic.

In answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for North Down the Secretary of State painted a picture of sufficient manpower and security force members to do the job. I hope, perhaps in a written reply, I shall receive an answer about what happened in the specific cases I have mentioned. I owe it to the gallant members of the security forces to make my voice heard in their support in the House. If members come to me fearing that the lives of people along the border are at risk because there are not enough personnel, it is only right and proper that, as the representative of that area, I should do that.

I know that in the past certain hon. Members have befriended IRA personnel and brought them into the House. I know that the House does not want to hear this, but we are in an emergency. Unfortunately, 20 years on, it is still an emergency, and I shall explain why. Recent events in the Province show that the vicious nature of the campaign is gaining momentum and crudeness.

What I have to say may not bother some people but yesterday, in my constituency, a business man and his wife returned from shopping in Cookstown. The man entered his garage while his wife sat in the car waiting for their two children—a boy of 14 and a girl of 16—to return from school. For those who do not know cosy, quiet, Coagh village, the garage was run by 39-year-old stock car ace, Lesley Dallas. He was the European hot rod champion in 1986 and lived for his stock car racing and his little business, which he had built up with pride.

Quite rightly, he was the pride and joy of his wife and two children, who loved him dearly. How proud they were last Saturday when he went to the silver jubilee race at Ballymena hot rod meeting and came second. He felt that he had achieved honour for his family and district.

I grew up with Lesley Dallas—we played around the same houses and went to the same school. Lesley Dallas was one year younger than me. With Lesley lying in his coffin at home, am I supposed to come to the House and be Mr. Nice Guy for everyone to applaud, and to whom everyone can say how nice everything is? Tomorrow we shall bury Lesley Dallas and not one hon. Member—other than Unionist representatives—will go through the door of his house to say that they are sorry about what happened. They will never take the hand of Mrs. Dallas or her 14-year-old son or 16-year-old daughter, or of his widowed mother, sitting broken-hearted and riddled with arthritis in the corner.

I can assure the House that the hon. Member for Hillsborough—who was quick to get to his feet a few moments ago—will not pass through the Dallas door to speak to the sorrowing family. I would take more seriously comments from someone who knows what it is to walk into houses where there is death and who has experienced what it is to look into the face of bereaved loved ones. Such a person could not walk away with a pious attitude or a smile on his face after such an occasion. There is nothing glorious about that, or—as I will be doing tomorrow—about attending three funerals and going from one house to the next, to the next, for the burial of three constituents. I am sure that when I offer my sympathy and sorrow to the families I shall not be crowded out by a lot of hon. Members.

Lesley Dallas, whom I knew very well, stood with his hands in his pockets listening to a joke and was gunned down in cold blood as his wife was forced to crouch in the car seeking to avoid the bullets fired around her. Unfortunately, the race—remember he was a stock car driver—of life finished suddenly for Lesley Dallas yesterday as he leaned against his garage door laughing at a joke with his neighbours.

Austin Nelson, the father of four children—his daughter is a member of my congregation—appeared on television one night playing the fiddle. His only crime was that he was a fiddle player. He spoke on television about his retirement hobby of violin making and, at the end of the programme, he said that he hoped that he would be long spared, not only to make fiddles and violins for his children and grandchildren but to give people happiness by listening to the music he played. Last year, Austin went on a special course in Cambridge to further his hobby. His gracious nature won him the respect and affection of his neighbours. One evening, he entered a garage to enjoy what in Ulster is called a good bit of "crack" or humour.

Last night, less than 24 hours later, Austin reappeared on television, this time, not as a man playing a fiddle but as a body being carried off the street of Coagh. This time, the news was the announcement of his murder.

Ernie Rankin, who was 72, was a very popular Coagh character with a keen interest in football. He had no relatives and the people of the area adopted him as a son of the village. They fed him, looked after him and gathered him in on Sunday afternoons because he was a person who liked simply country humour. Ernie enjoyed nothing better than a hearty chat and a laugh to dispel the loneliness of his life. He was nearly blind: if an IRA man had been standing in front of him, he could not have recognised him. He enjoyed company. He was called—we can see why from the photographs—the Coagh Jimmy Savile because of the way he kept his hair.

Lesley Dallas will not be driving this Saturday; Austin Nelson will not be entertaining with his fiddle on any more stages; and old Ernie Rankin, the simple, retired, loving pensioner, will not be walking Coagh street befriending everyone that passes by, irrespective of who they are.

How did these men die? At 10 past 4 in the afternoon Coagh main street turned into a scene from a John Wayne western. Outside Coagh the men were seen donning their masks. The hooded gunmen drove in and sprayed the garage corner with indiscriminate fire. Three men were murdered. Mrs. Gibson was in the car as the gunfire surrounded it. Mr. Gibson's brother was in the back of the garage as the gun fire spread through it—thank God they were saved.

No sooner had the gunmen done their deed than a bus stopped and a 14-year-old boy stepped off it, immediately opposite the place where his dad way lying in a pool of blood. A second bus pulled up behind the first and a 16-year-old girl stepped off it and walked over, not to meet her mother with joy to find out what she had bought in the shops, but to find her mother screeching and her father lying with his two friends with whom he had been sharing a joke, in a pool of blood.

After completing their task the gunmen drove down the Ballinderry road. Again, it was like a John Wayne film. As they drove away they continued firing indiscriminately into the air and then started cheering. It was another job well done. And some hon. Members, with their friendships, claim that these are the heroes and soldiers of Ireland. They are nothing better than cold-blooded murderers; let no one try to paint them in any other light.

Some weeks ago, the president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, and Martin McGuinness talked about refined violence and avoiding civilian casualties. The Unionist population knew that that was eyewash, and so it has proved. It was pathetic to hear the media trotting out IRA excuses for the Coagh carnage. First they said it was retaliation; then they changed their story, claiming that the garage was a UVF hideout. A 72-year-old pensioner, a 61-year-old retired man who took up the hobby of violin-making and a 39-year-old stock car racing driver who was looked upon as a champion in the community—these were the supposed conspirators. This was nothing more than a sectarian killing; none of the people was connected with any political party or paramilitary organisation, as the police have made clear.

The legislation has not dealt with the emergency. If it had, we would not be here talking about it 20 years on. This same village had a 1,000 lb bomb placed in it last September. The bomb was left at the police station. This was not an attack on the security forces—the IRA knew that only an unlicensed dog was guarding the police station. The IRA thought that the time was right to place a 1,000 lb bomb there, not to kill the dog but to murder people living in an adjacent estate, whose inhabitants were 100 per cent. Protestant. Through the mercy of God, they were not killed.

Listening to the Secretary of State discussing the changes that he accepts, one would think that affairs were improving and that we were leaving the crisis behind. The crisis is deepening, and the daily crimes are growing more violent. It grieves me and the people of Northern Ireland to see the media's lack of interest whenever Protestants and Unionist people are murdered. For months on end we heard stories every day about Gibraltar, but when three Protestants were murdered in Coagh last night, the media gave the event 30 seconds. The headlines in the daily papers do not mention the event—they gave the story five lines. The victims happen to be Unionists. I assure the House that if the attack had been carried out by anyone else, it would have made the headlines. If it had been carried out on anyone else the same would apply, hut for Unionists there are no headlines.

This is the facing down of Unionists, for which a certain political party called when seeking the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The IRA has faced down three innocent men. Their families asked me to ask the House when this is going to end. I should be glad to receive a promise from the Minister of State about that. What can I promise my constituents who are walking broken-hearted behind coffin after coffin? They are not facing threats: this is the real thing. I can tell them that the Government say that they accept recommendations for improving the emergency powers legislation, because we are moving in the right direction. The Government can bring in whatever emergency legislation they want, but unless they are willing to take the initiative and face the terrorists, they will never defeat them.

I beg the Secretary of State—he has the power—and the Prime Minister—she has the authority, as she has proved so often—to take resolute action to end the nightmare and the carnage in the Province which I love best and which is a part of this great Kingdom. I am sure that the House understands how I feel. I trust that right hon. and hon. Members will also understand that I must return to my constituency, and to the families of those murdered there. I want to listen to the rest of the debate, but I must leave for the airport. I trust that the next speaker will understand that no disrespect is meant, but will bear in mind that I must return to those families who will be burying their loved ones tomorrow.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry 5:20 pm, 8th March 1989

The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea), who is my parliamentary neighbour, drew attention to media coverage of three recent deaths in Northern Ireland. He contrasted that coverage with that of other incidents. I was surprised that he did not draw attention to the endless stream of coverage of an author who has simply been threatened with death. That is another facet of the circumstances with which right hon. and hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies must live. If a threat is made against an individual or groups of individuals in Britain, it is headline news. But whenever there is death in Ulster it will be lightly passed over as just another killing, unless it is a case of multiple death.

The victims of IRA terrorism in Northern Ireland are being killed because they want to be members and citizens of the nation. At the end of the day, those killings are not about sectarianism but are an attack on British citizenship and the British presence in the Province. I am part of that British presence. When the IRA talk of driving out the British, they are talking not about the fellow in a uniform who comes from Kent or Glasgow, but about me, those who vote for me, and those whom I represent. That fact is one that the House steadfastly ignores.

When a similar debate took place at about this time last year, the cry that went up was about the bombing at Enniskillen and about the tragedy and horror of the multiple death there. Had the debate occurred a week later, the cry would have gone up instead—as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster—about the deaths of three would-be murderers in Gibraltar. A fortnight or so later, that crazy madman Stone was seen running through a cemetery murdering people. If our debate had occurred three days after that incident, it could have concerned itself with the butchering of Corporal Wood and Corporal Howes by people who are worse than wild animals, as we saw on our television screens.

The same Ministers are in the House today as one year ago. Five or 10 years ago, their predecessors were wending the same weary path, for the same weary reasons—the lack of proper understanding and of proper measures being taken to resolve the conflict. The incidents of the past year have highlighted the need to control funerals, for example. I interrupted the Secretary of State to ask for an assurance that the power to control funerals is to remain. My belief is that funerals should be very strictly controlled, no matter which murderer is being buried.

Funerals give the IRA and others an opportunity to display their power to intimidate and to do their own thing in their own areas. Those displays are as much a challenge to the security forces and to the governance of Northern Ireland as any IRA attack, such as that which occurred yesterday. They serve as a proclamation that the area in which the display takes place is one in which the IRA can operate. I draw the attention of the House to the almost casual arrogance now being displayed in IRA killings. The soldier murdered in Londonderry city recently was killed not in the heart of a republican area but right in the heart of the loyalist stronghold there. Ten years ago, the IRA would not have dared to do that. It would not have dared when the present Administration came to office. The fact that it does now illustrates the IRA belief that it is making progress, which further illustrates the Government's failure to deal with the situation.

I think back to the funeral last year that led to the deaths of two young soldiers who simply took the wrong turning, and I wonder who told the security forces to stay away. I wonder what pressures and subtle nuances were brought to bear to keep the security forces away from that IRA funeral. I wonder who told the security forces not to interfere, even when those two young soldiers were being butchered. A "chopper" fitted with a television camera was hovering overhead, observing it all, yet apparently no effort was made to rescue the two individuals who were being killed. That still angers and niggles Ulster people, who have not yet been given the answers that they want.

At the beginning of the debate, reference was made to the winning of hearts and minds. In a way, I think that that is the wrong policy. It is said that the security forces representing the Government should try to win hearts and minds by staying away from funerals, for example, because their presence will be resented. The House, the Government, the nation and the security forces should instead set about convincing the IRA and Irish republicanism in general that they are not going to win. I ask right hon. and hon. Members to note that I am referring to violent IRA republicanism, because that is the well from which all other terrorist organisations ultimately draw their sustaining strength. The activities of the IRA are given as an excuse for Protestant paramilitary attacks and other endless acts of violence. If the IRA problem is solved, the Protestant paramilitary problem will deteriorate, decay and disappear along with it. The conquest and destruction of the IRA is the key to peace in Northern Ireland. Until that fact is faced, and until measures are taken to bring about that conquest, things will go on in the same old way.

For the IRA, winning is the achievement of a united Ireland. It is as simple and as straightforward as that. It does not matter to the average IRA man or republican whether it is an all-Ireland republic dominated by Charles Haughey or by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon)—

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh

I would not dominate anyone.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

But the hon. Gentleman would no doubt be part of a nationalist party, and it would be a nationalist-dominated Ireland. It would be a nationalist Ireland with a nationalist ethos, which is something that I and the people whom I represent would reject.

The IRA does not really give two hoots, any more than its supporters, which is the dominant republican nationalist element, provided that there is an all-Ireland republic. They are not even very worried whether it is Labour, Left-wing, centre or Right-wing, provided that it is an all-Ireland republic. They would be happy with that, but I would not. The failure to comprehend the nature of the Northern Ireland situation is the root cause of the Government's failure to devise policies that would be totally effective in bringing peace and stability. I have left out the bit about reconciliation because reconciliation is the result of many years of peace and stability and of people living together. I do not think that we shall fall into each other's arms if the IRA stops murdering people tomorrow.

Since last year some incidents have broken through the normal crust which leads to people ignoring Northern Ireland. I shall mention a few of them. Last August an Army bus was bombed and a number of young men were butchered on their way back from leave. Then we had the Father Ryan affair, over which there was a great deal of hubbub, froth and hot air. Now there is a sort of embarrassed silence because he has vanished into thin air and the chances of getting him back to stand trial here are a very short way above nil, if they are above it at all.

Yesterday we had the incident in Coagh. There was also a bomb find, apparently where weaponry was being prepared to attack the Prime Minister when she visits Scarborough. Throughout the year there was continuing public and private evidence of a border that is practically afloat in Semtex and weapons. All the evidence available to anyone who takes an interest in Ulster or to those like me who live in it and represent people there shows that Government policy is not defeating the IRA.

Now and again the people who live on this side of the Irish sea see the tip of what I can only describe as the moral cowardice of the Government in dealing with this matter. Facing the terrorists is not a matter of physical courage because many people are willing to do that. What we see is moral cowardice, an unwillingness to stand up to the propaganda, the lies and the nonsense with which we are taunted throughout the world by the supporters of the IRA murder gangs. That moral cowardice is illustrated by the story of a young paratrooper who was walking around on guard with an empty weapon. Perhaps that is an advance, because I think that at one stage they walked around with pickaxe shafts. That is not much good against a Colt 45.

When I was in the Ulster Special Constabulary, of which I was glad to be a member and proud to serve for 16 years, I never saw the sort of creatures who are often described by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh. We rarely went about with unloaded rifles. We had charged magazines in the rifles. Anyone who knows anything about shooting knows that that means that the bolt has only to be pulled backwards and forwards and the weapon can be fired. That is the way in which every soldier on guard outside any military establishment should be armed and ready.

We are sending these lads out to wander about with unloaded weapons. They are young men in crack regiments of what we are told is the best army in the world. I believe that. We are sending them out with unloaded weapons, as if their expensive training was so ineffective as to render them incapable of handling loaded weapons. That is nonsense and I hope that the people of Britain have seen the end of that nonsense in this incident. I hope that the next time a paratrooper or some other soldier or naval officer or member of the RAF Regiment walks round the corner of a building and sees a terrorist planting a 60 lb Semtex bomb, he will at least be able to fire at him.

Regardless of when the next shooting incident takes place I hope that we shall not hear in the House and everywhere else claims that "these people are out shooting to kill". Who the devil ever shot to miss? People are meant to shoot to kill, to stop, and if a modern weapon is fired at a body it will cause severe damage, and the person will be extremely lucky to survive. That is what the weapons and ammunition presently issued to the Army are for and they do their job very effectively. I regret that the job is not done often enough.

If I went to any pub in London tonight—leaving out those that are peopled by the Irish—or if I went anywhere else in Britain and asked the average Englishman, Scotsman or Welshman what he thinks should be done with the IRA or terrorists, he would give exactly the same answer as I give and would probably do it rather more crudely than I would like to do in your presence, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh

That would be indelicate.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

I thank the hon. Gentleman for the first and possibly the last time.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

Has the hon. Member considered what would have happened if the sentry on duty at Shrewsbury, having secured his ammunition, had been able to fire accurately at those who were running away? At that stage they had not blown up the barracks. If he had killed one of them, under our present state of law, he would surely have been charged with murder. Does that not show that our present criminal law simply does not apply to the reality of terrorism in Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , East Londonderry

Of course, the hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct. He will remember the two corporals butchered in Belfast in March last year and that one of them leaned out of the car window with a pistol. If an Ulsterman had been leaning out of the window with that pistol, I wonder whether everyone facing him would have been alive 110 seconds later? That soldier was acting under the rules of engagement about which we heard from Opposition Front Bench spokesmen. Members of the security forces are out in places where they are likely to be killed and the law should reflect that reality. The Government should not behave as if they are dealing with a peaceful English village on a summer afternoon. Sometimes we read in the newspapers about little riots in such places, so perhaps they are not so peaceful.

An IRA man or any terrorist with a gun has one intention. It is to plant a bomb or to kill, and he is already psyched up to do it. He will kill as quickly as a snap of the fingers. A police officer friend of mine stopped a person one day in the street in Dungiven, my own village, to ask a question and it ended in him being buried.

The House and the country should recognise the reality of the situation in Ulster. This House does not think that we are at war, but the IRA figures that it is at war with us and its attitude is that anything goes. I do not want to enter that sewer where anything goes but the laws of the realm should reflect the reality of the task that we have asked our security forces to carry out. The laws that we are debating are not doing that. We should also understand that when incidents such as the one in Gibraltar happen there will be massive howls of indignation.

The Secretary of State spoke about the propaganda war. The Government lack the commitment to ensure a better and louder propaganda statement. That propaganda must be founded upon truth to rebut the misrepresentations put out by the terrorist organisations.

This debate must end at 7 o'clock. It is somewhat better attended than many on this issue—and I have been sitting through such debates for 15 years. However, it should not end with the discussion in this House; it should go on within the parties—and principally within the party of government—to ensure that the changes that are absolutely vital are made. This legislation should be part of the whole policy of convincing the IRA—those who, for many years, have been prepared to risk life, limb anti liberty—that the game is not worth the candle. That is what it is all about—convincing them that they are going to lose.

But convincing them that they are going to lose is only partly a question of law; it is also very largely a question of the perception of Government intention as to where Ulster will be five, 10 or 20 years hence. Unless the Government's actions are sustained, it will not be possible to convince the supporters of the IRA that the IRA will fail, that the republicans will fail, that the nationalists will fail, that the SDLP will fail, in their objective of bringing, about a united Ireland. So long as that policy continues, the war will continue at the steady drip, drip, drip of murder that we have seen for the last few years. In that respect things have not changed very much.

A new Chief Constable has just been appointed. The politicisation of the police in Northern Ireland under the Anglo-Irish Agreement is far greater and far more evident than that which was alleged under the Stormont regime. I wonder how much discussion there was, within the terms of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, about the appointment of the new Chief Constable. Indeed, the Government are duty bound to listen to what the Irish Government say. Should the British Government not introduce the matter into the discussions, the Irish Republic's Ministers certainly would, as they would be duty bound to do.

How much discussion took place as to who the new Chief Constable should be? How much discussion was there about what sort of man would be acceptable to the nationalist community? Of course, we shall not get an answer. That information will remain hidden perhaps for ever—or at least for 30 years. The Minister replying to this debate will deny that any such discussions took place, but in Northern Ireland his denials will have about as much effect as would throwing a bucket of water on a duck. People will not readily believe them.

Under article 7 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which is relevant to this debate, the conference considers security policy. This calls into question whether the Secretary of State and his Ministers could easily act in defiance of Dublin's wishes. Given that they are required to work towards agreement with the Government of the Irish Republic, how on earth could they ever arrive at a new effective policy in the short term? Only after the most protracted discussions in the conference could any new policy appear.

Appointments to the police authority also have to be discussed. To say that these matters do not strike at the very root of the problem in Northern Ireland is to ignore the factual evidence. I wonder whether the new Chief Constable has been given a timetable for the defeat of the IRA, and what policy restrictions are to be placed upon him and upon the other security forces. Given the circumstances under which the Chief Constable is appointed and the circumstances in which he operates, how could anyone say that he is independent? He has to sit with his political masters and with his opposite number from Dublin and his political masters—and the Republic has a very political police force. Bearing all these things in mind, one can only conclude that the political influence that was complained of in the past has not only returned but been reintroduced in a form a dozen times stronger.

Unless there is a deep and fundamental change in Government policy, we shall be talking in the same terms next year, and the year after that, and for many years to come. The perspective of the terrorist is what matters. The terrorist believes that he has made progress and is making progress. His whole attitude and all of his actions—no doubt some people in this place do not understand those actions because they do not live with them—indicate that what he perceives is Government retreat and republican advance.

We shall be back next year, and in five years' time, and in 10 years' time, unless there is a deep, fundamental change in Government policy, and unless the new policy is acted upon. Otherwise, the IRA will go on, quietly, steadily, mercilessly, and with ruthless efficiency, killing in dribs and drabs and sometimes in large numbers, to keep the temperature high and to undermine the will of the people to remain British. But we shall not allow our birthright, our nationhood and the things that we believe in to be taken from us by such people. I can assure this House that we shall be there for a long time—British, and being killed because we want to stay British.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington 5:47 pm, 8th March 1989

The agony of the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland has been going on for over 20 years, and in its wake the constitutional government of the Province has been set aside. Normal local government has been virtually abolished. Transitional constitutional experiments, designed to give the minority a share of power, even to the extent of allowing a foreign country the right of consultation, have been tried and have failed.

All those developments were designed to placate the minority in Northern Ireland, who would rather be governed by the Irish Republic than by the United Kingdom. British Governments of all persuasions have thought that, if those people could be placated, they would not support the terrorist campaign, which seeks to achieve republican aims by violence. But that is wrong, and it has always been wrong. The violence has not ceased; indeed, since the conclusion of the last desperate expedient—the Anglo-Irish Agreement—it has escalated.

I shall not repeat the arguments that I have used over the past 10 years against these foolish efforts to appease our enemies in Ulster. I pay tribute to the courage and integrity of my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, but I have to say that all their efforts have failed and that the British Government are left with a situation which, in some ways, is worse than it has ever been. Far from being abated by the Government's efforts at conciliation, the hostility and resentment of a significant part of the Irish republican minority in Northern Ireland has been aggravated by a situation in which they see themselves as the political masters, whereas they once thought of themselves as the underdogs. The majority of the population—loyal, but often sullen and anxious, and fearful of being abandoned by a Conservative Government they can no longer look on as a trusted friend have—suspended their judgment, and most of their representatives now sit opposite the Government in the House of Commons.

The scope is small for further political initiatives to end the constitutional impasse and terrorism. The only outstanding initiative, which has not been taken up so far, lies in the Irish Prime Minister summoning Unionist leaders to Dublin as though to hear his terms for a settlement.

Devolution has failed, as it inevitably must when we try to isolate in one cockpit two warring, incompatible elements divided by race and Church. The continuing habit of British Ministers in such circumstances to repeat the cry of devolution as though it were some possible solution makes one wonder at their common sense. A further long period of stalemate and attrition faces us. The agony, torment and suffering of the good British people of Ulster seems destined to go on, reinforcing misery, deepening divisions, and providing new agents and new recruits of bitterness and hostility to carry on the conflict which many people now believe that neither side can win while Northern Ireland remains in its present form. The IRA has made it quite impossible—it is quite out of the question—for any loyal Ulsterman even to contemplate a united Ireland.

One honourable option is still open to us. I know that I am presently much in the minority of Unionists who advocate it. It is to provide for an exercise in self-determination in Northern Ireland by way of a referendum designed to identify those who wish to remain in the United Kingdom and those who wish to live in the Irish Republic. Where, in border areas, a majority exists for the Irish Republic, let those areas secede from the United Kingdom. For the rest, let a similar logic apply—generous resettlement grants for those who find themselves on what they may consider to be the wrong side of the new border. That would be a drastic and costly remedy to the situation in Northern Ireland, but only a drastic step will detach the republican population from the IRA. That remedy would not he nearly as costly as the continuation of the present situation.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh 5:53 pm, 8th March 1989

One of the tragedies of this type of debate is that we never seem to deal with the subject that we are supposed to be discussing. In this instance, we are discussing the emergency provisions legislation as it applies in the North of Ireland and also references to it by Viscount Colville of Culross. During this debate, there has been remarkable insight into some attutudes not just to this subject but to the context in which that legislation is to operate. I can understand the anger and resentment that was expressed by hon. Members who represent the Unionist community in the North of Ireland, but we should never allow that anger, or the sentimentality that it produces, to cloud our judgment of the challenge that faces us.

The challenge is simple. It is how to get a solution to the awful problem that faces all of us, not just in Northern Ireland but in Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Whatever type of thinking we bring to it, the problem does not stop at the border or the coastline. It transcends them. It is a three-part problem that will require everybody's resources, commitment and resolve.

Throughout the debate, I have been reminded of the famous words of Wilfred Owen about war situations: The poetry is in the pity. I like to think that we can get to a stage in Northern Ireland at which the politics are in the pity and that the pity that was clearly expressed today could translate itself into the type of political attitude in which, rather than getting bogged down in the type of emotional binge that we all indulge in so often, we try to think our way out of the problem. I hope that, somewhere along the line, anger, resentment and pity can be translated into the type of practical politics that alone will solve the problem.

This has been a political debate. The only time we get a chance to debate the political problem in Northern Ireland is during a debate on a piece of emergency legislation. Unfortunately, the political context is tied to an emotive matter. Since I have been elected to the House, there has not been a time when the purely political element of a debate could be discussed in a more rational manner. That is one of the tragedies.

I should like to dispel some of the problems enunciated by the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross). He talked about nationalists' wish to dominate people on the island of Ireland. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the nationalists whom my party represents firmly believe in nationalism and are absolutely opposed to the use of violence to obtain their political objectives. They do not wish to dominate anyone. They have no desire to indulge in domination, not only because of the human elements concerned but because, if history has taught us anything, it has clearly shown that domination will never solve any problem. I take this opportunity of informing the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues—I have said it before in such debates, and I shall say it again—that the problem will not be solved on the Floor of the House of Commons.

It has been interesting to note almost schizophrenia on the part of some hon. Members—their irrational fear of nationalism and disillusionment with membership of the House, while proclaiming their Britishness. Political Unionism is expressing its disillusionment with its British context, its British presence arid membership of the House. That schizophrenia affects all people and not just unionism in the North of Ireland. We must patiently try to work it out. The immediate image that sprang to mind during the debate was of the magnificent play, written not so long ago, called "Observe the sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme". It was almost as if we could hear those footsteps again, blaming the British connection for their own failure to work out a means of living peacefully on a small piece of land called Ireland. That is the basis of the political approach that my party would offer those people who live with us.

I am not one who likes to get up here or anywhere else wearing my heart on my sleeve. I am a villager as well. I live in a small village. I lifted a policeman up one night, shot dead by people who call themselves Irish patriots. I lifted up my own election agent one night from his doorstep, riddled with bullets, dead. I do not want to go into that. It is not the way forward. All we are doing is clouding our own judgment. All we are doing is losing sight of the objective, which is to solve this problem.

But I understand the emotions that exist about Coagh. It is a small village. Everyone knows it. I could pick out three people in my own village who would be mirror images of those who were killed. We could do it for every village in the North of Ireland. So it is not just an isolated feeling of pity. One of the strengths of our situation is that the pity is there, the abhorrence of that terrible sectarian deed is there, throughout the North of Ireland. Rather than let it become an end in itself, I would ask that it become a springboard for consideration of our problems.

The problem is nothing new. Nationalism has been used in a very throwaway sense here this evening. People in the North of Ireland, however, were killing each other in the same way long before nationalism became a force. The famous massacre on the river Bann in Portadown took place in the 17th century, long before nationalism became the vogue, as it did as a result of the French revolution, and long before it became a potent force in Irish life before and after partition. We have on record sectarian assassination after sectarian assassination in the county that I live in, long before nationalism became either a political or a physical force. So the problem is more profound.

Yet it may be much simpler than we often make it. How do we, a small group of people living on a small island, decide together how we will live there for the benefit of-everyone, how we will live in peace, with nobody winning" with no domination, with no surrender on anyone's part? I suggest that we start looking at that question. It struck me tonight, as it has often struck me, that if we spent more time in the House discussing how we might solve the problem, or even the same amount of time as we have spent on this piece of legislation and the prevention of terrorism legislation and the public order legislation, and on and on, perhaps somewhere we would get some light and some insight into the way that we must move.

I want to reassure those who represent Unionists in the North of Ireland that domination has no part in our political philosophy. Victory has no part in our political philosophy. We believe that, it they look at this problem simply as an extension of the House, it will not be solved, because we are all optional extras in the Palace of Westminster. Nobody from the North of Ireland needs to be told that. One of the roots of Unionism's anger and frustration is that Unionists are only now realising what perhaps others of us have seen from the outside for so long. Nor will it be solved on the floor of Dail Eireann. I have been there and I realised that in many ways I was again an optional extra from a different place. But we will solve this problem, when we solve it, with the help of the House, the active help and involvement of the House and of Dail Eireann in getting to grips with it. Then we shall be in a position to begin to talk rationally about this and other pieces of legislation and see where they fit into the overall jigsaw.

I do not want to make light of the problem of not talking about the emergency provisions, because they are very serious indeed. There is the problem of policing. Viscount Colville has said that there is a problem, and we all know that there is a problem. If there is a problem, let us, for heaven's sake, face it. Let us start talking about it. I am frustrated when, time and time again, we get platitudes from Ministers. They stand up, pat us on the head and take almost a different position every month to see what the reaction may be.

We must face the reality that, in almost half the land mass of the North of Ireland, there is not a single policeman. That is a fundamental problem. So we must ask two questions: why is it that way, and how can we deal with it? It is correct to say that one of the reasons is that they would be killed, but the problem is much more fundamental than that as well. So do we ever get an opportunity from the Government to begin to discuss the problems, or do we spend the rest of our political lives feeding on the type of platitude that we often hear?

We must also look at the very factor that Lord Colville identifies—the relationship between the community, the police and the security forces. He identifies that as one of the problems, and it is a big one. How do we deal with that type of relationship? Bad policing is having a terrible and corrosive effect. It is counter-productive. Viscount Colville clearly identifies that, and I am glad that he does so. He puts it right at the forefront of his report, in the hope that something will be done about it.

I take this opportunity of asking the Secretary of State and the Minister of State what they will do to ensure that it is driven home to those charged with looking after law and order that policing must be done on a fair and equitable basis and within their own rules. They must tell me. And, no thanks, I want no more platitudes—I have had enough of them. I want to know what steps will be taken. I agree with Viscount Colville when he makes it clear that senior police officers realise that this is a very important issue which must be dealt with.

What will be done at the political level by the Government to ensure that that realisation filters down from the senior officers to the ranks? If the problem continues, it is due to one of two things: either the senior officers and the Ministers do not make their writ run, or the junior officers involved in these incidents are cocking a snook at those who are giving the orders. It is one or the other, and it is so serious that I ask again, as I have asked so often, what steps will be taken to deal with it.

Viscount Colville focuses on the problems of both the Police Complaints Commission and the complaints procedure for the Army. To date, the new Police Complaints Commission has been a fairly abysmal failure. It has a flaccid, passive approach to dealing with the legislation that it is given. While that legislation is inadequate in many ways, it is at least there to be used, but it has not been used by an inactive commission, with the result that the commission in its own way is counter-productive when it comes to the problems that will be faced by a new Chief Constable.

I welcome that appointment. I do not know the man from Adam. I do not know his religion. It makes no difference to me where he is from—Dublin or Belfast—or what his religion is. All I want to know is whether he is a good cop. Does he know what he is doing? Has he the strength to go in there and look at the problems and not pretend that they do not exist? Has he the strength to go through with his decisions and to ensure that those decisons will help to bring about a solution to a policing problem which has always been there? Has he the vision to look at policing structures and to see whether there is a way within those structures in which we can get to grips with the problem? We talk about policing as an amorphous thing. There are 48 police services in England and Wales and eight in Scotland. Northern Ireland has a structural problem. Perhaps at some time we will have the vision to consider how we can deal with that element of the problem.

Reluctantly, I turn to something which affected the debate earlier, which was the reference by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department to the position of solicitors in the North of Ireland. My views on that are on record, and I do not want to enter into that controversy again. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said that, in a letter, the Under-Secretary talked about "remarks attributed to me". He repeated that allegation 11 times. I am wondering whether he is saying that that was attributed to him 11 times.

Much more importantly, the Under-Secretary began by saying, "I have been advised". Who advised the Under-Secretary to put those remarks on record? He must have been advised, because he displayed an absymal ignorance about everything else about the North of Ireland. Who told him that that was the position? Only three agencies could have told him—first, his Government colleagues; secondly. the police and Army authorities in the North of Ireland; thirdly, lay people. The Under-Secretary owes it to the House and to the people in the North of Ireland to tell us who advised him to put his foot in it to the extent to which he did.

I believe that we must draw together all these pieces of legislation. Their re-enactment will again come before the House in 1992. We have the prevention of terrorism Act, the emergency provisions Acts, the public order legislation and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act as it applies to the North of Ireland. When one starts to deal with those, especially in Committee, it is a nightmare, because one is jumping from one piece of legislation to another. It is almost impossible to follow the strands, because there are contradictions, elements which overlap and elements which simply do not make any sense. There is an opportunity to discard some of the elements that Lord Colville and others have recommended we should discard.

I have argued the case for normality so often that I shall not detain the House with it again. If the emergency legislation must be repeated, at least let it be repeated in a way which makes logistical sense, because as it stands there is provision for some elements of the emergency provisions Acts in the public order legislation that is applied under the prevention of terrorism Act. It is a nightmare not just for people in the House who must deal with it, but for police officers, solicitors and, above all, for the person who is arrested under that legislation.

I have seen at first hand the financial sacrifices, inconvenience and hardship caused to people who come to this country to visit their relatives in prison. It does not make any humanitarian sense to stick strictly by the letter of the law and to say that people from Ireland—especially Northern Ireland—must serve out their sentences here if they were committed here. The hardship caused to relatives is a hidden factor, something that we are ignoring. I ask that the process of transferring prisoners from gaols in Britain to serve out their sentence in Northern Ireland be speeded up. We can then bring a little humanitarianism, consideration and pity into an otherwise harsh landscape of emergency legislation.

Photo of Mr Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Newbury 6:15 pm, 8th March 1989

I hope to mention at least one of the points made by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon).

Recently I saw a poster issued, I believe, by one of the Northern Irish political parties in which superimposed on the word "Terrorism" was the slogan: Defeat it, don't debate it. After 20 years of violence and yet one more debate, one might feel that the poster's author had a point. However, with all their imperfections and inadequacies, debates on the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts enable us both to debate and to maintain the legal structure within which our security forces must operate at all times.

On this occasion, there is another dimension to the debate. It is taking place while the review period for the Anglo-Irish Agreement is proceeding. Three years ago when the agreement was announced to the House, we were told that its objectives were to secure peace, stability and reconciliation: that by the agreement security on both sides of the border would be improved with much greater co-operation between the Garda and the RUC and, therefore, peace might become a reality in the Province. We were told that, through the ministerial meetings that were enshrined in the agreement, matters of mutual interest would be discussed and that the concerns of the minority community in the North would have a powerful new advocate in the shape of the Dublin Government. Sadly, what the agreement lacked—and one of the reasons why I voted against it—was any place in its machinery for the voice to be heard of the majority community in the Province. For that reason it was, and remains, seriously flawed. I hope that during the review process that flaw will be put right. Although I may be told that the Unionists will not accept the agreement anyway, nevertheless, if that agreement is ever to obtain acceptability among the majority in the Province, it can do so only if they have a voice in its counsels. To this day it has amazed me that we felt that we could sign such a treaty without incorporating that obvious need.

Of course, in some quarters there is the hope that the continuing hostility to the agreement from the Unionist parties and the events in the South over extradition will, in fact, result in the agreement being shelved altogether—somehow or other it will wither on the branch and will die a natural death. I wonder if that is a realistic scenario. Apart from the fact that, as far as I know, no British Government has ever unilaterally broken a treaty, what would be the effect on Irish politics and international opinion if under pressure from one part of the community the Government gave up the agreement? I believe that it would be catastrophic. Those who want to believe that the Catholic minority is always under threat from the Protestant majority would have their worst fears confirmed.

Irish America would be incensed and would no doubt multiply many times over its contributions to Noraid. The IRA would have a field day. It would have scored such a major propaganda victory as to give it new hope and zest to continue its fearful and bloody campaign of violence, another terrible example of which were the killings in county Tyrone yesterday.

Would the Province suddenly become more peaceful? Would the minority community be more willing to co-operate with the Government? Would the security forces or the RUC get co-operation from the minority community if the agreement was torn up? Would we be any nearer to seeing the Acts that we are debating tonight lapse if that happened? I believe that the only answer to all those questions is a resounding no.

For all practical purposes I consider that the agreement must stand and that the Unionist parties must modify their refusal to co-operate with the Secretary of State and his Ministers as they seek a way in which to implement the words in the Queen's Speech about allowing local politicians greater involvement in the affairs of the Province.

Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson , Belfast East

Would the hon. Gentleman change his view were it possible to negotiate a better agreement which would command wider support than the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Why would the hon. Gentleman want to hold on to an agreement that has so lamentably failed and that does not have the consent of the community if it were possible to get an agreement which the Unionist leaders would consider as an alternative to and replacement of the Anglo-Irish Agreement or the Social Democratic and Labour party leader would consider as transcending in importance that agreement?

Photo of Mr Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Newbury

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman as I was just about to say exactly what he said. If the agreement has failed to deliver peace, stability and reconciliation, what useful purpose does it serve? Standing on its own and after three years perhaps not much, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman would agree that cross-border co-operation has greatly improved, even if we cite as evidence only the huge arms finds north and south of the border. Those finds have done much to negative the threat posed by the shipment of explosives and weapons from Libya to the IRA. We all recognise that those arms finds are extremely important to the lives of a great many people, particularly in the North.

The acceptance in writing of the status of the Province set out in the treaty could be, if we chose it to be, the beginning of a new stability for Northern Ireland. It could be seen as a way to achieving peace and reconciliation. As so many speakers have already said we all know that terrorism thrives on—indeed, seeks to create—instability, the feeling that nothing is permanent and that everything is up for grabs. That is why each failed political initiative in Northern Ireland has ultimately played into the hands of the IRA and those who believe that the instability of the Province serves their political ends.

While Ulster is without an assembly or a regional administration and the political parties that represent the majority of her people boycott the Secretary of State and his efforts to create a local forum—while there is a political vacuum in the Province—those politicians are working against their own best interests. I also question whether they are completely in step with certain bodies of opinion in the Province if the recent poll in Sunday Life—a local Sunday newspaper in Northern Ireland—of 26 February is anything to go by. That survey showed that of those polled, 78 per cent. of Protestants and 57 per cent. of Catholics preferred power sharing to other options such as integration or a federal Ireland. In fact, more Catholics even preferred that option to a united Ireland. No one suggests that one poll is conclusive evidence, but it is a rough guide to local feeling—nobody can gainsay that.

If, as the poll suggested, it is also true that a majority of Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance members and a sizeable proportion of the Democratic Unionist party were in favour of the Duisburg inter-party talks, is it not possible that the desire for a new political structure in the Province—one which would give Ulstermen a proper share in the administration of the six counties, their counties—could, if taken up seriously, lead to a political institution from which the entire community could benefit and reconciliation become a reality?

According to the agreement, the involvement of the southern Government in the affairs of the Province are or would be limited by the extent of the responsibilities given to a devolved administration. Surely that is a prize to make the most anti-agreement politican ask whether non-cooperation with the Northern Ireland Office is now not self-defeating.

Photo of Mr Harry Barnes Mr Harry Barnes , North East Derbyshire

A democracy of devolved institutions is more than just majority rule—majority rule has caused some of the problems in Northern Ireland. Even if the political parties share a desire to come together, how the politics work out might mean that majority rule leads to a situation in which the minority feel oppressed. In those circumstances, would it not be a good idea for a bill of rights to accompany any move towards devolved government? In that way the minority, as well as the majority, would feel that their civil liberties were protected. In that way the conditions in which democracy could work would be improved as democracy is not just about votes, but about the spirit in which it operates.

Photo of Mr Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Newbury

I do not dissent from that. I hope that the hon. Gentleman heard me refer to power sharing as the favoured option of the majority in both the Catholic and Protestant communities. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Duisburg talks involved the SDLP, the Unionists and the DUP. I am not suggesting, nor would anyone else suggest, that we should go back to old style majority rule. I am talking about a local administration and I would like the Government to spell out the framework in which such an administration could be created.

Photo of John Taylor John Taylor , Strangford

On the suggestion of a devolved assembly in Northern Ireland with power sharing between those who want a united Ireland and those who are British—in other words, the nationalists and the Unionists—does the hon. Gentleman extend the sample principle to Scotland? Is he in favour of power sharing between the Scottish Nationalists and the Scottish Conservatives in Edinburgh?

Photo of Mr Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Newbury

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not pursue that particular argument. I believe that he was a member of a Government in Northern Ireland who were certainly prepared to offer some of the chairmanship of their committees to the other political parties that were not in the majority in the old Stormont. I may be wrong, but I believe that that was the case. I do not believe that my suggestions would differ widely from that because the right hon. Gentleman will note that I have stressed the word administration. I believe that there would be committees covering various aspects of that administration and I understand that there is wide agreement that the chairmanship of those committees could be spread among the parties.

Photo of John Taylor John Taylor , Strangford

I agree with the sharing of chairmanships among the parties, but with regard to the former Stormont Parliament I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the nationalist Member for Mourne was the Chairman of Ways and Means of the House of Commons.

Photo of Mr Michael McNair-Wilson Mr Michael McNair-Wilson , Newbury

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that information and I hope that I have been able to clarify the point he made.

In a sense my peroration is rather ruined; perhaps that is no bad thing. I believe secure borders and a stable local administration to be the most effective answers to the terrorist who seeks to manipulate the region's politics out of the barrel of his gun. Are they not the way to stability and peace for the future?

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough 6:28 pm, 8th March 1989

My hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) mentioned a point about which I have felt deeply for rather more years than he has—that we never discuss the politics of Northern Ireland or Ireland without there being some kind of emergency or emergency legislation. In Committee, we have discussed emergency provisions to the point of exhaustion, but one point that has stood out in today's debate has been the avoidance, by almost all hon. Members, of discussing what we came here to discuss—the renewal of the Acts. There is a good political reason for that and it is linked precisely with the fact that politics breaks through, whether we like it or not. All hon. Members have discussed the politics of Northern Ireland today and have only occasionally mentioned the emergency provisions legislation.

To make matters worse this time, we have just heard of the dreadful and melancholy killings, although all our debates on Northern Ireland are melancholy. It is a sad business, but a harsh reality, that people who have such a sense of humour should never use it in debate. The emergency provisions legislation has hardly been mentioned because it is almost irrelevant to the problems. That is one reason, among others, why I shall be voting against the renewal of the provisions for the umpteenth time tonight.

The overwhelming majority of the citizens of Northern Ireland—the extremely overwhelming majority, if one can say that—on both sides of the sectarian divide are honest and law-abiding people who want to live in peace and democracy. For as long as I can remember, they have not been given the chance to do that. The problem burst through, for the umpteenth time, about 20 years ago. When I became a Member of Parliament—15 years ago this week—I never dreamed that we would go on discussing the problem, as it had been raised in 1973 and the civil rights march had taken place in 1969. We must, therefore, while struggling against the paramilitaries of both sides, protect all innocent people from arbitrary arrest and harassment. The harassment is often not directly physical, but springs from the terrible situation in Northern Ireland which makes all the population of Northern Ireland—innocent and law-abiding as they are—feel that they are part of the struggle across the sectarian divide and causes them to see no hope of getting anywhere. If we do not realise that when we are discussing the emergency provisions and if we do not realise that people who have never harmed anyone feel that everything is hopeless and that they are getting nowhere, we are not seeing the situation properly. It is wrong that we do not discuss the politics of Northern Ireland in straightforward debate without it always being tied to emergency legislation.

This morning,the publicity Member of Parliament for the Official Unionist party—the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis)—was on the radio and, once again, he called for internment. It is extremely sad that, after all we have learned, he should be calling, once again, for internment. I believe that, in fact, internment can still be used, although it is not being used at present. To call for internment once again is to pour petrol on the terrible fire that is once again raging in Northern Ireland. I cannot understand why anybody who has been immersed in the struggle for so many years would call for that, although my heart goes out to the people who live there and I say that in every debate. I do not live there and when I listen to the people, from both sides, who do, I am staggered at their courage.

For such a person to call for one of the causes of the deepening struggle in Northern Ireland was shocking. The gaoling of people whom we do not know to be guilty is a real crime. It immediately intensifies the problem. It brings the detainees' families into the struggle when the detainees have never even been tried. It is shocking to have an important Member of Parliament calling for internment when he knows that in flinging what he called the godfathers into gaol without trial we would bring a whole new section of people in Northern Ireland into physical action and strengthen the hand of the paramilitaries on both sides. It would strengthen the IRA when, on present showing, it can go on indefinitely killing and maiming and surely we want that to stop, not to intensify. There are no signs of the paramilitaries being defeated either by the security forces or by each other.

We shall go on discussing the problem long after I am gone if something political is not done. To raise the politics of Northern Ireland in the House is to be condemned straight away. Yet we would then be discussing the reality of what is happening and not the superficialities of the terrible deaths, killings and slaughter which continue all the time. We could go on discussing that as the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) did. I know that it was hard for him because people had just been killed in his constituency, but we must discuss the causes and not just the symptoms of these terrible problems. There are no signs of either side being defeated. Both have considerable support in their communities and stores of armaments from various sources. They can carry on as they are, almost indefinitely, unless politics intervenes or supervenes.

The deadly enemy of terrorism is democracy, not defeating the other side or armaments. It is precisely because there was no real democracy in Northern Ireland that we are in this mess today. I must say to all Unionists that they still have the old Stormont mentality. All they want is to go back to the old Stormont, but that is impossible. However, as long as that mentality pervades their ranks, the slaughter will go on. That is the harsh reality which we never discuss here because we never discuss the politics of the situation.

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon , Newry and Armagh

I do not think that that is the reality. Many Unionists now do not think in those terms and are desperately seeking, as we are, to see how we can get not just an arrangement, but a solution to the problem. If they are not prepared to put that on record, I may be forgiven for helping them out by doing so.

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

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for correcting me if I was wrong. I do not see the situation with the same clarity, but I do not see it with the optimism that he conveyed in his remarks either. I am surprised that he feels such optimism. I cannot sense it, but I hope that I am wrong and that he is right.

The House condemns terrorism by both sides. It is time that the Unionists did what I asked of one of them earlier today. They should condemn murders when committed by paramilitary loyalist groups and condemn the IRA when it carries out murders. They should condemn both, but they should not intensify the struggle by condemning only one side. We must condemn terrorism from both sides.

The present legislation has not done anything to stop the killings. The killings have intensified and there is considerable evidence that the Acts have exacerbated the problem and have not achieved anything held out by Lord Colville, or by Sir George Baker before him. I have attended almost every Northern Ireland debate and Question Time in the past 15 years and, once again, matters are becoming worse. There is no victory on the agenda in Northern Ireland for anyone. There is a problem to be faced, but no victory. The people who believe that they can be victorious are living in a dream world. They might want to smash the enemy and put him down, but if they did, he would rise again, whichever side he was on, Peace will come only when proof is given that equality and democracy will be given to both communities and that there will be no return to the flagrant lack of democracy of the old Stormont, which brought about the civil rights march and the attack on it 20 years ago.

Mr. William:

rose

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

No, I shall not give way because it is time for me to conclude my speech.

The only hope for peace is to ensure that the majority community never again enjoys a virtual autocracy over the minority community and that there is a coming together of the communities. There is no future in slaughtering each other. The only hope is for a change of mind on the part of the Unionists and for them to offer the hand of democracy to the minority community. I am sure that if that hand were reached out, the other side would heartily grip it and there would be peace, but that is the only hope that I can see.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South 6:39 pm, 8th March 1989

We have had an interesting debate which has been highly charged in part. It is well that we remind ourselves of the people about whom we have been talking and of the reason the security forces claim to need the emergency powers. We are talking about the thousands, if not millions, of ordinary people who live in the Province who wish simply to go about their daily business unhindered and without the threat of violence. They wish to pursue what we consider to be ordinary objectives such as a job, a decent house, a decent school and all the other things that make up normal social and economic life for the rest of the United Kingdom.

We must always remember that that is the backcloth to our debates. Like the rest of the citizens of the United Kingdom, the people of Northern Ireland wish to live in peace and in a democratic society. That is why the Army went into the Province some years ago and that is why the emergency provisions legislation was introduced. It is as well to remind ourselves also that the Army entered the Province to uphold democratic values and to support, not supplant, the civilian authorities in upholding the rule of law. If that is the backcloth and those are the reasons, despite the cries for greater activity from some hon. Members, it inevitably means the minimum use of force and, where possible, the application of the general criminal law, and every derogation from those values must be justified. Our claim is that there has been a distinct failure to do that, especially in the Secretary of State's speech, and that is one reason why we shall vote against the order.

I should liketo make it clear that that does not mean any softening towards terrorism or acts or terrorism. Terrorism is inimical to the basic democratic instincts that the vast majority of Members of Parliament in the House share. I regret and reject the charge made by the hon. Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross) that there is a lack of resolve against terrorism. He charged the Government with a lack of resolve and, by implication, his charge was general against all parties in the House. I totally reject that charge if it was levelled at the Labour party. I am sure that when the Minister replies he will reject the charge equally vehemently on behalf of the Government.

We are not soft on terrorism. Terrorism must be defeated, but it must be defeated in a way that does justice to the democratic values of our society and that does not use techniques or methods that would be more appropriate in a more authoritarian if not dictatorial society.

The hon. Member for Londonderry, East also gave the impression that the attitude of the IRA and its apparent freedom of movement suggest that the IRA thinks that it has won the battle. That is turning truth on its head. The frustration of the IRA and its inability to make real political progress, either north or south of the border, is shown by its increased use of violence in its attacks in the North of Ireland and in the attacks that it has sought to carry out in Great Britain. There is no way, politically, in which the IRA can win the hearts and minds of the majority of the minority community in the North of Ireland and there is no way in which the IRA can militarily defeat the security forces in the North of Ireland.

Photo of John Taylor John Taylor , Strangford

As election results have consistently shown that 30 per cent. of the Roman Catholic community votes for the terrorist party Sinn Fein, why does the hon. Gentleman think it impossible for Sinn Fein to advance from 30 per cent. to 50 per cent?

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

If the hon. Gentleman reads my remarks in Hansard tomorrow, he will see that I said that Sinn Fein has failed to win the majority of the minority community in the North of Ireland. That is the position now. My best guess is that it would find it virtually impossible to secure the majority vote of the minority community in the North of Ireland—

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

Because the majority of people in the minority community—as in the majority community—do not like being pushed around by bully boys. They want to lead normal lives and to live in peace with people across the community. It is for that reason that they share the same aspirations, desires and aims as all other ordinary people in the North of Ireland and why they do not share the aims and objectives of the gunmen and the terrorists.

As I have only four minutes left, I shall try to make further progress rapidly. I refer now to the speech made by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea). In his absence I shall say only that I wish that the hon. Gentleman would show as much emotion and feeling when seeking to attain a political solution in Northern Ireland as he shows when bringing to the House one catalogue of death after another. The hon. Gentleman shows a high degree of emotion and feels highly emotional about the position. However, if he could divert his energy and emotion into positive avenues of seeking a political solution in Northern Ireland if only for a few seconds, Northern Ireland would be a far better place.

I turn finally to the comments of the Secretary of State. He singularly failed to give any justification of the measures that he is bringing forward for renewal today. He made two general assertions with which no one would disagree. I remind the Secretary of State of those two assertions. The first was that, in view of yesterday's and other recent events, the security forces require every assistance and support. I agree with that—everyone would agree with it. The second general assertion was that the perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice. Again, we all agree with that general assertion. However, the Secretary of State then sought to imply that, having made those two general assertions, there was no need to seek to justify the measures in detail. That was a failure on the part of the Secretary of State this afternoon.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) made clear, when we are seeking to justify changes from the normal criminal law and derogations from normal standards, it is vital that justifications are given and that they are convincing. The Secretary of State tried to hide his lack of any real argument in favour of the measure by drawing attention to progress made by the Government in other spheres, and he referred to jobs, equality of opportunity and housing. While the Government have made admirable progress in those areas, the right hon. Gentleman must appreciate that unless there is political progress, with a determination on his part and that of the constitutional parties to get together and form a new political consensus in the North, all that admirable economic and social progress will count for naught.

I urge the Secretary of State, as I have in previous debates, to continue to seek talks with the constitutional parties, and I appreciate that that is his intention. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) pointed out, there is great need for politicians in the North to talk in terms of making political progress and not concentrate always on the evil aspects of the Province.

We need a body of criminal law in Northern Ireland which is clear, coherent and concise. We should dispense with all powers that are not really needed. There should be no duplication of powers and we should not fall into the trap of believing that the criminal law alone can solve the problems of Northern Ireland.

Because it fails to answer those challenges, we shall, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North said, oppose the order tonight.

Photo of Mr Ian Stewart Mr Ian Stewart The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 6:53 pm, 8th March 1989

This debate is taking place in the shadow of last night's atrocity in Coagh, and hon. Members present this evening appreciate the emotion of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea), who spoke about those whom he knew personally. But despite that emotion, we must lake decisions using judgment, according to our best advice and experience of the facts.

I heard with sadness from the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) that the Opposition would vote against the order tonight, because there is no subject about which one could say more strongly that the Government wished that they had no grounds to criticise the Opposition. If ever there was a subject on which a unity of purpose and approach was desirable in this House, it is this issue of the troubles and terrorism in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, we do not have that tonight. To use an Irish writer's phrase, the Labour party's attitude to terrorism is in a state of "chassis."

I recall that, when we debated what was then the Prevention of Terrorism Bill on Second Reading, some Opposition Members abstained, some voted for a reasoned amendment and some voted against. Tonight they have decided to vote against. I hope that some of them may be honourable enough to abstain, or even to vote in the Lobby with the Government.

I draw a contrast between what was said in this debate by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North and his noble Friend Lord Mason who, when he had the responsibility for dealing with these problems, introduced and supported measures such as we are discussing tonight and ensured that the security forces had the powers they needed. Speaking in the other place recently in the context of prevention of terrorism legislation, Lord Mason said: we stood together"— referring to the 1970s— with the major political parties behind us."—[official Report, House of Lords, 13 February 1989; Vol. 504. c. 34.]

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. If the Minister is quoting from a speech made by a Member of the other place who is not a Minister, will he please paraphrase?

Photo of Mr Ian Stewart Mr Ian Stewart The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

Thank you for that guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Lord Mason said in another place that at that time basic freedoms were under serious threat and that bipartisan support was necessary. I regret that we have not had that in this debate.

When Labour Members were in office in the 1970s they were responsible for these issues and were determined to deal with the problem. I was sorry to hear the remarks of the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), because he seemed to be apologising for the position that his Front Bench was advocating. Opposition Members seem to have lost their grip on reality. They say that they are committed to the fight against terrorism, but they will not support any longer the measures that are necessary to conduct that fight. To will the end but not the means is a position of irresponsibility.

The Government have their responsibilities in this matter. We regret, just as Lord Colville regretted, that he had to conclude that there was reluctant acceptance of the need for emergency provisions of this kind. The powers which we seek to renew are a regrettable necessity. We do not view security policy in isolation. We do not want to leave a vacuum on the political front. We believe that progress towards political development and dialogue would help, but they would not achieve a solution on their own. Without the necessary powers, our security forces cannot pursue the campaign against terrorism which, alas, is essential in Northern Ireland today.

The Government will continue to deal robustly with terrorism within the law. With emergency legislation, it is always a question of balance and fine judgment. Measures must be powerful enough to be effective, but we must never lose that essential ingredient of fairness and general consideration towards the public, a point to which several hon. Members have referred.

Lord Colville emphasised, above all in what he said, that the comments made to him were not so much about the powers as about the way in which they were exercised. I wish to endorse again on behalf of the Government our commitment that all these powers should be implemented in a fair and impartial way, with courtesy and consideration, and that lapses—which occasionally, I am afraid, are bound to happen and are deeply to be regretted—must be as few as possible. We appreciate that they have an effect on public confidence and that the support of the community is a vital contributory factor in countering terrorism.

I hope that the independent commission for police complaints, which was not enthusiastically received by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), will prove to be an important instrument for dealing with complaints. We must bear in mind that the commission has not yet produced a report on its first 10 months of activity. I am sure that its establishment is an important innovation.

The fact that the Army has taken new measures to speed up the machinery for dealing with complaints demonstrates our belief that this is an important matter, and we support what Lord Colville said about the impact that it can make in the general campaign against terrorism.

To get the matter into perspective, with 10,000 regular troops and 6,000 members of the UDR in Northern Ireland, in the eight months to the end of January that represented nearly 4 million troop days of activity, and that has resulted in fewer than 200 complaints coming to Army headquarters, Northern Ireland. I wish that the number was smaller, but one must keep the situation in perspective.

I pay tribute to the members of the RUC, the Regulars and the Reserves, the UDR and the Regular soldiers for the way in which they, on behalf of the whole community—of the Government, the people of Great Britain and the people of Northern Ireland—at great risk to themselves—day after day, month after month and alas year after year—enable the people of Northern Ireland to live as normal a life as possible in difficult circumstances.

We are anxious to see an improvement in the security situation, and I am not without hope on that front. Significant finds of weaponry have been made in recent months in the North of Ireland, and also by the Gardai in the Republic. I am encouraged by the growing feeling of resentment in Northern Ireland about the futility of terrorism as a means of achieving any of the ends that the terrorists say they espouse.

There are better prospects now in Northern Ireland; they could be even better if terrorism could be seen to fail. Terrorism itself will never achieve anything but grief and waste. We need to ensure, under those circumstances, that the brave members of the security forces who carry such responsibilities on behalf of us all have the means to counter terrorism. They need the sort of powers that were introduced in the emergency provisions legislation of the 1970s and 1980s. They need the provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill which is going through Parliament—

It being Seven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question on the motion, pursuant to Order [3 March].

The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 118.

Division No. 119][7 pm
AYES
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBatiste, Spencer
Alton, DavidBeggs, Roy
Amess, DavidBellingham, Henry
Amos, AlanBendall, Vivian
Arbuthnot, JamesBennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Benyon, W.
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Bevan, David Gilroy
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyBlackburn, Dr John G.
Aspinwall, JackBlaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Boscawen, Hon Robert
Baldry, TonyBoswell, Tim
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Bottomley, Peter
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Bowis, JohnHowells, Geraint
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHunt, David (Wirral W)
Brazier, JulianHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Bright, GrahamHunter, Andrew
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Irvine, Michael
Buck, Sir AntonyIrving, Charles
Burns, SimonJack, Michael
Burt, AlistairJackson, Robert
Butler, ChrisJanman, Tim
Butterfill, JohnJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Kilfedder, James
Carrington, MatthewKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Carttiss, MichaelKing, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Cartwright, JohnKirkhope, Timothy
Cash, WilliamKirkwood, Archy
Channon, Rt Hon PaulKnapman, Roger
Chapman, SydneyKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Chope, ChristopherKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Knowles, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Knox, David
Colvin, MichaelLawrence, Ivan
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Lee, John (Pendle)
Cope, Rt Hon JohnLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Cran, JamesLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaLilley, Peter
Curry, DavidLivsey, Richard
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Day, StephenLord, Michael
Devlin, TimLuce, Rt Hon Richard
Dorrell, StephenMcCrindle, Robert
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Dover, DenMacGregor, Rt Hon John
Dunn, BobMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Durant, TonyMaclean, David
Dykes, HughMaclennan, Robert
Emery, Sir PeterMcLoughlin, Patrick
Evennett, DavidMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Fallon, MichaelMadel, David
Favell, TonyMans, Keith
Fearn, RonaldMaples, John
Fishburn, John DudleyMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Fookes, Dame JanetMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Forman, NigelMaude, Hon Francis
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Forth, EricMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMiller, Sir Hal
Fox, Sir MarcusMills, Iain
Franks, CecilMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Freeman, RogerMitchell, Sir David
French, DouglasMoate, Roger
Gale, RogerMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Gardiner, GeorgeMorrison, Sir Charles
Garel-Jones, TristanMoss, Malcolm
Gill, ChristopherMoynihan, Hon Colin
Glyn, Dr AlanMudd, David
Gow, IanNeedham, Richard
Gregory, ConalNelson, Anthony
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynNeubert, Michael
Hague, WilliamNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Nicholls, Patrick
Hanley, JeremyNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hannam, JohnNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Harg reaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Harris, DavidOppenheim, Phillip
Haselhurst, AlanOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyPage, Richard
Hayward, RobertPatnick, Irvine
Heath, Rt Hon EdwardPawsey, James
Heddle, JohnPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hind, KennethPorter, David (Waveney)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Portillo, Michael
Howard, MichaelPowell, William (Corby)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Price, Sir David
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Raffan, Keith
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Rathbone, TimStewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Redwood, JohnStradling Thomas, Sir John
Rhodes James, RobertTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Riddick, GrahamTaylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Ridsdale, Sir JulianTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Rifkind, Rt Hon MalcolmThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Ross, William (Londonderry E)Thorne, Neil
Ryder, RichardTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Sackville, Hon TomTrippier, David
Sainsbury, Hon TimTwinn, Dr Ian
Sayeed, JonathanViggers, Peter
Shaw, David (Dover)Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Walden, George
Shelton, Sir WilliamWalker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Walters, Sir Dennis
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Shersby, MichaelWells, Bowen
Skeet, Sir TrevorWiddecombe, Ann
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Wiggin, Jerry
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)Wood, Timothy
Squire, RobinYeo, Tim
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir JohnYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Steel, Rt Hon David
Steen, AnthonyTellers for the Ayes:
Stern, MichaelMr. David Lightbown and
Stevens, Lewis Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
NOES
Allen, GrahamCarl Me, Alex (Mont'g)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterClark, Dr David (S Shields)
Armstrong, HilaryClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Ashton, JoeClay, Bob
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Clelland, David
Barron, KevinCohen, Harry
Battle, JohnColeman, Donald
Beckett, MargaretCook, Robin (Livingston)
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCorbett, Robin
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Corbyn, Jeremy
Bermingham, GeraldCousins, Jim
Bidwell, SydneyCrowther, Stan
Blunkett, DavidCryer, Bob
Boateng, PaulCunliffe, Lawrence
Boyes, RolandDarling, Alistair
Bradley, KeithDavies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Buckley, George J.Dixon, Don
Callaghan, JimDobson, Frank
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Duffy, A. E. P.
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Dunnachie, Jimmy
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Mahon, Mrs Alice
Fisher, MarkMallon, Seamus
Flannery, MartinMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Foster, DerekMartlew, Eric
Fyfe, MariaMeale, Alan
Galloway, GeorgeMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Morgan, Rhodri
Godman, Dr Norman A.Morley, Elliott
Golding, Mrs LlinMowlam, Marjorie
Gordon, MildredMullin, Chris
Gould, BryanMurphy, Paul
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)O'Brien, William
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Pendry, Tom
Haynes, FrankPike, Peter L.
Heffer, Eric S.Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hinchliffe, DavidPrescott, John
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Quin, Ms Joyce
Hoyle, DougRichardson, Jo
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Robertson, George
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Rogers, Allan
Illsley, EricRowlands, Ted
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Short, Clare
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Skinner, Dennis
Lamond, JamesSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Leadbitter, TedSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Snape, Peter
Lewis, TerrySpearing, Nigel
Litherland, RobertSteinberg, Gerry
Livingstone, KenStott, Roger
Lloyd, Tony (Stratford)Strang, Gavin
Lofthouse, GeoffreyVaz, Keith
Loyden, EddieWall, Pat
McCartney, IanWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Macdonald, Calum A.Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McFall, JohnWinnick, David
McGrady, EddieWise, Mrs Audrey
McNamara, Kevin
McTaggart, BobTellers for the Noes:
McWilliam, JohnMr. Allen McKay and
Madden, Max Mr. Ken Eastham.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.

It being after Seven o'clockMR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to Order [3 March], put the Question forthwith,That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 1989, which were laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.

Question agreed to.