Intergovernmental Conference

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st February 1990.

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Photo of Mr David Nicholson Mr David Nicholson , Taunton

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his most recent meeting with Cabinet Ministers of the Republic of Ireland.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I last met Ministers from the Irish Republic at a meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference on 30 November 1989. The joint statement issued afterwards was placed in the Library. A meeting of the Conference was due to be held on 31 January but was postponed due to the unavailability of Irish Ministers.

Photo of Mr Ernie Ross Mr Ernie Ross , Dundee West

How would the right hon. Gentleman have explained to the Irish Government how that part of the Anglo-Irish Agreement that seeks to improve public confidence in the security forces would have been advanced by the Government's handling of the Colin Wallace affair?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will make a statement on that matter later this afternoon. For me to engage in what Irish Ministers and I would have said to each other yesterday is not perhaps the most constructive use of the House's time.

Photo of Mr David Nicholson Mr David Nicholson , Taunton

Does my right hon. Friend agree that increased prosperity will contribute to the defeat of terrorism in the Province and the Republic? What progress is being monitored in discussions about the increase in inward investment to the Province and the Republic and how does the Northern Ireland Development Board, whose success we all admire, work with its counterpart in the Republic?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I am glad to agree with my hon. Friend about the contribution that jobs and fuller employment make towards the security situation in Northern Ireland. As to collaboration with the Republic, both the Republic and ourselves are vividly aware that we are in competition for inward investment and sometimes find ourselves directly competing.

Photo of Mr James Molyneaux Mr James Molyneaux , Lagan Valley

At the last Conference did the British team put forward suggestions for the consideration of a new and more workable Agreement? Did they urge the necessity of the reasonable request for the suspension of the present Agreement for a limited period? If they did not, will they do so at the next meeting in view of Mr. Haughey's more flexible attitude?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Immediately after the last Conference I said that suspension had not been discussed. However the right hon. Gentleman will be aware of paragraph 29 of the review of the Agreement that we published last year which stated that both Governments would be prepared to consider without preconditions any propositions put before them. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is right in thinking that it is a subject which we will discuss at future Conferences.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

Did my right hon. Friend discuss at the Intergovernmental Conference the proposals for some form of local government in Northern Ireland? If he did, did those attending the Intergovernmental Conference think it was a good idea, and if they did not, can they tell us why?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

That subject has not been discussed at the Intergovernmental Conference since I became Secretary of State.

Photo of Mr Patrick Duffy Mr Patrick Duffy , Sheffield, Attercliffe

This week's RAF involvement in air-sea rescue missions off Westport and in the Irish sea raises once again the question of the adequacy of the emergency services on both sides of the Irish sea and as between the north and the south of Ireland. Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the quality and liaison of such services are a proper subject for the Intergovernmental Conference? As such air-sea rescues increasingly now involve foreign vessels, especially Spanish fishing vessels, will he explore with his colleagues in Dublin the need for international funding of such provision, the burden of which is mostly now borne—magnificently, of course—by the Royal Air Force?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

The hon. Gentleman makes a constructive suggestion. I do not know whether it would fall naturally within the agenda of a Conference, but it is quite clearly something which could be discussed in the margin of a Conference even if it were not on the agenda.

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

The Secretary of State referred earlier to a statement that will be made later today, but in the answer given earlier this week a matter referred to which was the responsibility of the Secretary of State—the role of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In the light, therefore, of truth being stranger than fiction, and of the Colin Wallace allegations, will he now order a complete investigation into Mr. Wallace's allegations concerning the Kincora boys home? Will he also give a complete guarantee that Mr. Wallace will not be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act for any information concerning that affair and concerning the security forces that he might give to the RUC? Finally, will the right hon. Gentleman now undertake to give serious consideration to the evidence published by Mr. Paul Foot and the forensic report drawn up by Mr. Radley suggesting that Mr. Wallace's memorandum concerning the events in the Kincora boys home is genuine?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

The hon. Gentleman would, I think, be the first to acknowledge that this does not naturally fall within the purview of the main question. However, to be helpful to the House, if Mr. Wallace has evidence that he wishes to submit in relation to the Kincora affair, he should give that evidence to the RUC and if it is classified information he should first consult the director of Army security. As to forensic evidence, I owe the hon. Gentleman a letter.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Following on that answer, will the Secretary of State at least give the House an unequivocal assurance that no Clockwork Orange-type of operation is now taking place in Northern Ireland or in any part of the United Kingdom on matters relating to Northern Ireland?

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces gave a very specific response on that very question in the answer that he gave on Tuesday.