Mr Richard Sharples: I fully and wholeheartedly support the action taken by my right hon. Friend. Will he confirm that the policy remains that of trying to divorce the gunmen from the support which they receive from the population? Does he agree that one of the reasons for the violent action now being taken is the success which that policy was having?
Mr Richard Sharples: Will my right hon. Friend describe more fully the circumstances in which this interview is alleged to have taken place? Does he agree that it is very easy to make a good story by stringing together out of context a number of remarks which may have been made in the course of a long conversation but that it is not very good journalism?
Mr Richard Sharples: I intervene only briefly because there are many hon. Members on both sides who have direct constituency interests in Northern Ireland. It is difficult to disagree with a great deal that the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) said. I am only sorry that he started with an attack on my hon. Friend the Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder). My hon. Friend and those of his colleagues on...
Mr Richard Sharples: I am not in any way trying to evade whatever minor responsibility I may have had. All I say is that, looking back, it would have been better if responsibility had been transferred to Westminster at an earlier stage. It is very easy in matters of this kind to be wise after the event. In the long term the Army will have to come off the streets of Northern Ireland. We cannot go on for ever with...
Mr Richard Sharples: Yes, but I still regard that vote as a hopeful sign that Ireland is looking outwards. Let us not under-estimate the political significance of the Border, but I believe that in the end perhaps not a solution to, but an amelioration of the situation in Ireland as a whole can come about by economic co-operation between the North and the South. As my right hon. Friend said, the enemies in both...
Mr Richard Sharples: I shall not be sidetracked by my right hon. Friend. I mean the full consent of the people of that country.
Mr Richard Sharples: In spite of what my hon. Friend has said, the real enemy is fear, and it is a fear which is exploited by the gunman and the terrorist. It is easy to exploit that fear. Unless there was fear the gunman would not get the support that he has had from people in the Catholic areas. The fear amongst the Protestant population is that by some back-door deal they will be handed over to the South of...
Mr Richard Sharples: While I deplore the bestiality of terrorist activities which have now descended to attacks on children, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will agree that the main purpose of the terrorist is to provoke a reaction from him and from the Protestant community? Will my right hon. Friend resist firmly any temptation to be deflected from the course on which he has embarked, since this...
Mr Richard Sharples: Between 1st August, 1968, and the end of 1970 the average fine imposed on summary conviction in England and Wales for this offence was 6·6 per cent. of the maximum.
Mr Richard Sharples: Adequate penalties are available to the courts, and they are being increased by the Criminal Justice Bill now before Parliament. It is not for me to criticise the actions of the courts.
Mr Richard Sharples: I am sure that the courts will take note of the views expressed on this matter in the House.
Mr Richard Sharples: My right hon. Friend is still not satisfied that the additional staff and expenditure which would be needed to record this information separately would be justified.
Mr Richard Sharples: The Perks Committee recommended in 1967 that the whole system of categorising crime should be reviewed. The first priority is the separate categorisation of crimes of violence, and this must take precedence over the information requested by my hon. Friend.
Mr Richard Sharples: I know the hon. and learned Gentleman has made a particular suggestion about this subject which is being considered by the working party that is examining the question of shoplifting.
Mr Richard Sharples: The total number of special constables at the end of 1971 was 29,990; many more could be used. Recruitment is the responsibility of chief officers of police, who are always on the look-out for suitable volunteers. Some new recruiting material has been prepared and will be available very soon.
Mr Richard Sharples: It does not mean that at all. It means what I said in my reply—that many more could be used. That is the view of my right hon. Friend and myself. As to publicity, we supply to chief constables centrally posters and leaflets which they can use. Special constables have always been recruited locally, and I think that is right.
Mr Richard Sharples: I do not think that it is a matter of finance. Possibly there has not been enough publicity recently, but recruiting is well within the capabilities of the amounts now available.
Mr Richard Sharples: My right hon. Friend is not convinced that any hazard presented by this particular toy is so serious as to justify such action.
Mr Richard Sharples: The toy has been very fully vetted. It was tested at length by ballistics experts, who found that a pea fired from a normal pea-shooter had twice the velocity of a missile fired from this weapon.
Mr Richard Sharples: I do not expect there to be any significant effect.