HC Deb 16 October 1969 vol 788 cc598-600
Q4. Mr. McNamara

asked the Prime Minister what further discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Government.

The Prime Minister

I would refer my hon. Friend to what I said in reply to Questions last Tuesday.—[Vol. 788, c. 199–205.]

Mr. McNamara

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people on both sides of the House, following the publication of the Hunt Report and its acceptance by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, are glad that there is now to be policing of the Falls Road and Bogside again? Because of the interest of hon. Members in this matter and because of our financial responsibility can my right hon. Friend arrange for the financial details, about where the money is to be spent in Northern Ireland, to be published in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The Prime Minister

The House will have taken further satisfaction since we debated this matter on Monday in that real efforts are now being made to get law and order re-established in areas where they have been strangers for several weeks.

As to the question of cost, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will keep the House informed as soon as he is able to do so on all these matters. There will be a series of financial negotiations, arising not only out of the point raised by my hon. Friend but from many other questions. There is the problem of the new reserves which featured in the Hunt Report. My right hon. Friend and the Stormont Government have been too concerned with other questions until now to get down to these financial matters.

Mr. McMaster

Is the Prime Minister aware that all reasonable people in Northern Ireland welcome the return of policing to all parts of Northern Ireland, and that they welcome the Hunt Report? Will he make it clear that the Government and the whole House hope that all sections of the community will now join with the police and play their part in keeping law and order in Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister

I welcome what the hon. Gentleman has said. He is absolutely right that all reasonable people in Northern Ireland welcome the Hunt Report. As the Home Secretary told the House, a large proportion of the Royal Ulster Constabulary welcome it too, especially many of their younger people, who now see a chance for real police functions.

Miss Devlin

Is the Prime Minister aware of certain discrepancies between the interpretation which the Ulster Government puts on the Hunt Report and its suggestions and that put upon it by this Government? Is he aware of recent statements from the Northern Ireland Cabinet Security Committee which indicates that persons currently members of the Ulster Special Constabulary may automatically become members of the new auxiliary police force? Can he assure us that the criteria for enrolment will be in the hands of the General Officer Commanding the Army?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware of any discrepancies between what has been said in Northern Ireland and what was said by my right hon. Friend in this House, on Monday, or in other statements made by him. If the hon. Lady feels that there are discrepancies or that anything needs clearing up, I am sure that she will bring these statements to the attention of my right hon. Friend. At any rate there need be no doubt in her mind or that of anyone else that control of this new reserve will be clearly under the G.O.C., Northern Ireland, who in turn is clearly under the Secretary of State for Defence, who is answerable to this House.