Mr Rafton Pounder: I believe that, last Friday, the Government took a wrong turning, and the legislation which we have debated now over the past 27 hours, because it represents the enactment of those policy decisions, is, in my judgment, equally misguided. Nevertheless, three important factors have emerged from our discussions during the past two days. The first is that many right hon. and hon. Members who...
Mr Rafton Pounder: I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) would like to thank, as I do, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) for taking up so vigorously the point raised by him with reference to the constitutional guarantee, which has been so often reiterated but is not covered by this Bill. Welcome as these assurances are, I hope steps will be...
Mr Rafton Pounder: Because in the manifesto on which Conservative and Unionist Members fought the last election there was reference to that matter. There is no reference in that manifesto to local government in Northern Ireland. The only point I am making is that here is a major issue which should not be dealt with by means of an Order in Council. The other Bills to which the right hon. Member for Cardiff,...
Mr Rafton Pounder: I am indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for that very clear statement. Frankly, as things stood, the Commission was being seen in the light in which I portrayed it—were its eight members Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I come to deal with the legal point that this Bill represents a marked departure from constitutional practice. From the British North America Act, 1867, to the Statute of...
Mr Rafton Pounder: With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, no one has ever suggested that responsibility for the Armed Forces should lie other than in this House. But we are talking, in terms of the transfer of security, about the police, courts, remand homes, borstals and suchlike. We are not discussing the Armed Forces.
Mr Rafton Pounder: Mr. Pounder rose—
Mr Rafton Pounder: Just for the record, since the right hon. Gentleman is trying to make a very fair point, the following are the words used last Saturday by Mr. Craig— No change in the Constitution of Northern Ireland except with the consent of the majority. That is not quite the way in which the right hon. Gentleman was stating the case for the Unionist Party.
Mr Rafton Pounder: They are the same thing.
Mr Rafton Pounder: When I intervened in the speech of the Leader of the Liberal Party I was taking the constitution to mean simply and solely the Border of Northern Ireland, and not further ramifications. The right hon. Gentleman must ask Mr. Craig whether his reading is the same as mine.
Mr Rafton Pounder: Does my noble Friend not realise that there is grave anxiety about border security in Northern Ireland, and that while it may be unreasonable to ask armed units to under take this task, it is a job which could be done by an expanded Ulster Defence Regiment if the obstacles in the way of transfer from the T.A. on a part-time or full-time basis were removed?
Mr Rafton Pounder: Do I assume that the figure of 2,078 given by my hon. Friend represents persons arrested on direct confrontation with the Army and security forces as distinct from persons who may be on the wanted list? If not, what is the number of arrests resulting from direct confrontation with the Army over that period?
Mr Rafton Pounder: rose—
Mr Rafton Pounder: I do not feel that this occasion can pass without saying two things. The first is to express sincere thanks and gratitude to Her Majesty's Government for increasing the borrowing powers of the Northern Ireland Government, particularly at this time. The Government have shown very considerable financial generosity to Northern Ireland, as the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) said....
Mr Rafton Pounder: As I was present when my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneux) made that speech, I should tell the hon. Gentleman—and I know he is not trying to be unfair—that the two points my hon. Friend raised were both constituency matters.
Mr Rafton Pounder: Will my hon. Friend say to what extent there has been a falling-off in the use and presentation of toy weapons in Northern Ireland since Christmas, when they were at a very high and dangerous level? Has the Army's warning been heeded?
Mr Rafton Pounder: I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important flatter that should have urgent consideration; namely, the provision of protection to persons in Northern Ireland who hold public office. The House will recall the dastardly attack on, and murder of, Senator Jack Barnhill on Sunday evening. The House ...
Mr Rafton Pounder: In view of this appalling explosion and the disaster and tragedy that have followed, and while realising that at the present time there is a lot of information to be collated, may I ask whether my hon. Friend will assure the House that a statement will be made either here or somewhere else when he is in possession of greater knowledge of what happened?
Mr Rafton Pounder: Is my right hon. Friend not aware that, even after the deduction of rental payments from security benefits, a married couple with two children are still nearly £5 a week better off than their counterparts in Southern Ireland?
Mr Rafton Pounder: asked the Prime Minister whether he will pay an early official visit to Northern Ireland.
Mr Rafton Pounder: I appreciate that answer from my right hon. Friend, but does he not realise that there is a strong and a growing view in Northern Ireland that a visit by him would be beneficial? No- body is asking for any dramatic statement arising out of such a visit, but if he would come and see the serious situation there for himself it would be greatly appreciated.