New clause 1 - Discrimination in appointments

Part of Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 11th March 2003.

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Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne 2:30 pm, 11th March 2003

I thank my hon. Friend for that, because it is true. This is a clear case of discrimination, which happened in the past and which we have tried to prevent from happening again. I do not buy the argument that we should do something that we have said is wrong just because the ends justify the means. There is a problem, but that is not the way to solve it.

We would make more progress in finding a solution if we understood the point about how the situation came about in the first place. I am well aware of the arguments about the RUC being biased and I can accept that there was some substance to them in the past. Due to that, the argument follows, people from the other tradition in Northern Ireland were unwilling to join an organisation that they saw as oppressive and discriminatory.

I understand that argument and there may be some truth in it, but, without any shred of doubt, it is also true that intimidation stopped people joining the RUC. Instead of addressing that problem, the Government have introduced a scheme that ducks the issue of intimidation. The right hon. Member for Upper Bann has pointed out that the situation is getting better in many places in the Province, but not in hard-line republican areas. That should suggest to the Government that they are only papering over the cracks rather than addressing the problem.