Security Situation

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 2017.

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Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Conservative, North East Hampshire 12:00 am, 28th June 2017

What recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

The terrorist threat level in Northern Ireland remains unchanged at “severe”—namely, an attack is highly likely. The need for vigilance remains, and I pay tribute to the brave men and women who work to keep communities safe. They will always have this Government’s fullest support.

Photo of Ranil Jayawardena Ranil Jayawardena Conservative, North East Hampshire

Last December, the Secretary of State assured me in the Chamber that he would be unswerving and unstinting in underlining the huge contribution of our armed forces, so will the Minister join me in welcoming the commitment in our manifesto that the bodies envisaged in the Stormont House agreement will be fair, balanced and proportionate to former soldiers?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

Yes, I do reiterate that commitment in our manifesto. We continue to focus on implementing the Stormont House agreement and creating new bodies that will be fair, balanced and proportionate. The next phase, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has outlined, is to consult publicly on the detail of those bodies’ workings.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

As the Member of Parliament in the west of the Province who takes his seat, may I ask the Minister whether she is aware of the fact that security has been getting worse in the west of Northern Ireland, particularly the north-west? Will she review the problems associated with the bomb disposal team in getting them to the places where problems have occurred?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s experience in this area and would be more than delighted to meet him to hear more about his specific concerns. As a new Minister, I have endeavoured to be in touch straight away with all the Northern Ireland MPs and those in the House with an interest. We must be vigilant, as I said earlier, and I look forward to further detail from him.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

Will the Minister ensure that she and the Secretary of State play a full part in the Government’s forthcoming review of counter-terrorism strategy to reflect the lethal nature of the domestic terrorism threat in Norther Ireland? [Interruption.]

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

The short answer is yes. Both I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will endeavour to ensure that security is at the forefront of all that we do.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn

The Minister will know that many terrorists have been brought back to Northern Ireland to face justice under the European arrest warrant. Will she commit today from the Dispatch Box that this Government will keep that arrest warrant post-Brexit?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

The right hon. Gentleman will know that all such matters are for negotiation and are in the hands of my right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary. We enjoy strong working relationships with our counterparts in the Irish Government. We intend to continue that, in the service of all the communities of Northern Ireland.