New Clause 1 — Independent Members: Declaration Against Terrorism

Part of Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 2:45 pm on 26th March 2003.

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Photo of Quentin Davies Quentin Davies Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2:45 pm, 26th March 2003

It is indeed amazing—and I am glad that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman, for in doing so I gave him the chance to make a point that I was going to make myself. I agree with him 100 per cent. In fact, I was about to mention the arms cache.

There has been no action whatever from Sinn Fein-IRA to justify the Government's proposals, which are very regrettable. They would have given the wrong signal even had the latest events not occurred. Over the last few days, however, we have seen not just an absence of necessary acts of completion, but prima facie evidence—I put it no more strongly than that, but the hon. Gentleman described it accurately, at least as far as we know from newspaper reports—of a serious breach of the ceasefire and the Belfast agreement. In my view, the Government should respond to such a situation not by offering concessions, half-concessions or conditional concessions—that is how the right hon. Gentleman wants us to understand the situation—but by introducing sanctions, or at least conditional sanctions.

If I were Secretary of State, rather than shadow Secretary of State, I would simply suspend all these clauses, go ahead with the Bill and say that, given this latest arms cache, under no circumstances can we begin to discuss the possibility of including in DPPs people with convictions for serious crimes. Here, we have in mind former terrorists from perhaps both sides; however, given that the Government have introduced this provision as a result of pressure from Sinn Fein-IRA, we are talking about the inclusion of former IRA terrorists in DPPs.