HC Deb 25 November 1971 vol 826 cc1571-678

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Pym.]

4.36 p.m.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

Even while I was working last night on the notes from which I shall be speaking, yet another British soldier was murdered and two others injured. That is the sombre backcloth to the debate.

I begin by thanking the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister for all the arrangements he made for my Northern Ireland visit, including travel and the help given by United Kingdom civil servants and Armed Forces, enabling me to see in a very short period representatives of almost every point of view, political and religious, the whole, very wide spectrum. This made it possible for me to have 32 meetings in 36 hours of talks in Northern Ireland, some of them at meals arranged by the Governor.

In the Governor's wisdom, grasp and understanding I believe that Northern Ireland is extremely fortunate. At some of the occasions he arranged individuals of widely varying viewpoints were present. It was the whole spectrum, therefore, from the extreme minority point of view to the most extreme of the Ulster Unionists and beyond. Some of my hon. Friends will wish to know that I met a group of shop stewards from a large Belfast factory whose comments made the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) look like a liberal republican by contrast.

On the political side, I met the Northern Ireland Cabinet, in addition to the Prime Minister separately; the back-bench Unionist M.P.s; the members of the Protestant Democratic Unionists; the Northern Ireland Labour Party, the Social and Democratic Labour Party, the new Ulster Movement and the Alliance Party and independent Unionists.

Representatives of religious views included Cardinal Conway; the Church of Ireland Archbishop, leading an interdenominational group of Protestant clergy; Bishop Philbin; the Rev. Eric Gallagher; an ecumenical group ranging from leading Catholics to leading Presbyterians; and Father Murphy, now Canon Murphy I believe, with Mr. Conaty.

I met the Northern Ireland T.U.C., C.B.I., Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Trade, two representatives of retail trade interests whose interests have been very much prejudiced by the violence, a group of Catholic doctors and surgeons, and the chairman of a women's reconciliation movement.

I had a long briefing from the G.O.C., arranged by the right hon. Gentleman opposite on Privy Counicillor terms, with the chief constable and his senior officers, and in Derry from the Brigadier and the police chief, and on my last day a full discussion with the police authority set up under the Hunt reforms. I visited Long Kesh and Palace Barracks and in Derry had a full and impressive meeting with the Development Commission established in the 1969 reforms, on which occasion the Catholic representatives, who had withdrawn from the Commission following internment, rejoined their colleagues for this special meeting with me.

I had the opportunity of talking to soldiers on active duty and on call, to a group of policewomen and lady clerks, to one badly injured police officer who had been in police stations damaged or destroyed by explosions, to Long Kesh warders and to two internees.

As the House knows, I spent a part of the Thursday visiting first a community centre in the Short Strand area, where I met a number of Protestant householders and community and youth workers, and in North Belfast a gathering of Catholic householders and community workers. It was not many yards from the Paxton Street meeting which I held that three hours after my visit a soldier was murdered and another gravely injured.

One group I did not see was representatives of the I.R.A., in accordance with my announcement that I would not meet any men who sought to change the existing order by violence. I had reason in the North to regard a message which reached me as a suggestion for a meeting, and this was confirmed by something said to me in Dublin. But I felt it right to adhere to my refusal to see them.

In Dublin I spent 10 hours in all in meetings with the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet, and leaders and members of Fine Gael and the Irish Labour Party and of the newly-formed Republican Unity Party, formed by Mr. Boland. Hon. Members on both sides of this House who represent, and have lived all their lives in, Northern Irish constituencies will be the first to agree with me that a three-day visit can do no more than scratch the surface, though I hope they will agree that in that time I saw as many representatives of every viewpoint and interest as it was possible to see, and will feel that the impressions I now seek to record are an honest appraisal of all I saw and heard in Northern Ireland. Those Northern Irish Members who expressed a willingness to see me—two Unionists deputed by their colleagues and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt)—gave me their views in meetings behind Mr. Speaker's Chair before my visit.

Many who presently find themselves unable to take either their places in their elected seats in Stormont or such appointments as the Derry Commission or to place their views before the Home Secretary spoke very frankly to me, and, with their knowledge, a report of our meetings is available to Her Majesty's Government. I pressed them on the question of resuming normal activities and contacts, but I failed. I respect their answer, and I will explain later why I accept that it has become impossible in present circumstances for them to resume normal sittings and contacts. Indeed, I regret to say that I would be extremely worried about the consequences were they to try. Anyone who fails to appreciate their reasons does not recognise the facts of Northern Ireland today, how increasingly desperate and dangerous the situation has become over these past three weeks, almost week by week, and how the task of reconciliation has become increasingly difficult. I ask the House to recognise the high quality, determination and courage of so many, of both communities, who are striving in their personal lives and in other ways for reconciliation, striving to rebuild confidence and, above all, to damp down fear, the overriding fear, the suspicion, the bitterness, the hatred—in some cases hate beyond all reason—which I found on my visit and which is the true appraisal of Northern Ireland in November, 1971.

Of course, a great deal of this is deeply rooted in history. There are too many on the one side who speak as though the greatest festival of the Christian calendar was to commemorate not the rising from the Sepulchre in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago but the rising in and around Dublin Post Office 55 years ago. There are too many on the other side who appear to think that history began and ended in 1689 and 1690. There are too many who appear to feel that marching feet and broken heads are substitutes for thought or that worn-out slogans are substitutes for constructive proposals. I regret it if words I have used in the House have given offence on both sides. What I realise much more now is how much the marching, the uniforms, the martial music and the dynastic songs are themselves the creations of fear about the future and an attempt to express a determination, as far as those concerned can express it, that those fears shall never become a reality.

Yet I must tell the House that in most of my meetings I did not sense the pre-occupation with long-dead history that so many accounts of Northern Ireland suggest. I heard a lot more about the Downing Street Declaration on all sides than about the Battle of the Boyne. I heard far more about Lord Hunt than about Oliver Cromwell, though many who spoke to me who would have idolised Cromwell were far from feeling the same about the noble Lord. This could be a reason for hope, though I dread to think how even now the history of the events of the past three years, of the past three months even, is being rewritten in accordance with two fundamentally opposing interpretations of history.

The House will recall my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) saying that a big step forward would have been taken when boys and girls from both Protestant and Catholic schools were taught their history from the same text books. That is true. I fear that the problem is not only the history of 1651, 1689 or 1921 but that it applies and will apply no less to the history of these times, of 1969, 1970 and 1971. For very many who will be studying this history, the events of the Falls Road in July, 1970, and internment in August, 1971, expressed in fact and before very long in legend, will be regarded as turning points as great in their consequences as many of the events of years ago.

Just before I left for Northern Ireland a British newspaper began its leading article with a quotation from Sean O'Casey: The hate, the murdering hate …". The sense of that fear and hate is the first impression I must lay before the House. The murderous hate will, I believe, be contained and put down. What there is no immediate prospect of dissipating is the fear and festering hate which created it, tolerated it and in growing measure has fostered it, the attitudes which obstructed and still obstruct its speedy elimination.

Second, I refer to the Army. Whatever differences of view are taken here and elsewhere about the policies under which the Army operates—the mistaken actions in the heat of the moment, in the face of a form of urban violence which hardly any army in the free world has ever had to face—whatever the feelings, there can only be from all of us totally unqualified admiration and tribute for those who, on the policies of successive Governments, with parliamentary support, by day and by night undertake these fundamentally distasteful and dangerous duties.

I talked to those of almost every individual rank during my visit, and there can be no stinting of the expression of the debt owed by the House and those whom we represent. I believe that the soldiers are superbly generalled. There can be no doubt about the military qualifications and qualities of General Tuzo. What impressed me was the wisdom, statesmanship and political sensitivity he brings to a task that no training curriculum in the Army or anywhere else could ever have provided. Hon. Members who have visited Belfast and Derry, and even more those who live there, will agree about the maturity as well as the coolness and fair-minded approach of the very young soldiers serving there, some of them for the second or even third time. Incidentally, I was given the clear impression that the Army is totally opposed to any censorship of television or Press reporting.

The tragedy for all of us is now the overwhelming testimony about the situation that the Army faces, I believe through no fault of a single serving soldier. In August, 1969, they were cheered as they marched in. Not everyone could have foreseen that that would be so. I was desperately worried about their reception when we gave the order. They were there as neutrally and fairly representing the authority of Britain, above the battle—indeed, it was hoped, as the best guarantee that there would be no battle. That was their task, and strict were the orders to enforce it. Time and time again I was told by Catholics I met that the Catholics above all welcomed the troops as being there for their protection against the Orange backlash which they feared. Last Thursday I took down the words of a young Catholic worker in the Greencastle area. He had come to the meeting from Unity Flats, where he lived. The people there, he said, speaking of the entry of the Army in 1969, "had tears in their eyes. It was like the relief of"—and he tried to find a parallel—"Ladysmith. My father, who fought in the Republican Army against the British, came down to the street, and he told me afterwards, 'I put out my hand and shook hands with a British major.'" I was given the major's name and unit. The man told me that his father said, "I had never thought that I would ever live to see the day when I would want to do that." "Now," my informant went on "the children of the Unity Flats are spitting on British soldiers."

The way in which he put it, and the way in which others have put it, was that the troops are today fighting two wars—the I.R.A. and what we called the residents of the Catholic ghettos. I believe that to be totally untrue, but the important fact in the situation which we must take into account is that so many people believe it.

We all have a duty to ensure that the Government here, this House and the Army there—all of us—are discharging our tasks, and are seen to be doing so, in a posture of complete neutrality as between the two principal communities in Northern Ireland.

I was also told that a few weeks ago internment was a fear—the fear of the early morning knock on the door. Today, I was told, many people regard it as an award; an accolade or decoration of war. I was told that when mothers meet in shops one will congratulate the other on her son's internment.

What I have said about the soldiers I believe applies in the main to the police I met. There is within the police, and certainly within the police authority, a real desire to press on with the Hunt reforms, even though Lord Hunt was legislating for a peace-time establishment and rôle, a rôle very different from the situation in which some brave officers and their equally brave families must operate. It is of supreme importance that the Hunt reforms proceed apace, and that is what the police authority—and here the Catholics are still fully represented—are working to achieve.

The defence of police stations is one thing, and I understand the pressures on the Home Secretary and his decision. But any suggestion to reconstitute the "B" Specials or arm the men on the beat—I appreciate that he faces ugly dangers and that his colleagues have met a cowardly death—would in my view be utterly wrong.

It is not my task today to attempt a military appreciation, still less to reveal what I was told on Privy Councillor terms about the arrangements made by the right hon. Gentleman. From a number of those whom I met—not on a basis enjoining secrecy—there was a feeling of very cautious, restrained, touching-wood optimism that the worst of the violence is over.

If that is so—and I regret having to say this to any of my hon. Friends, especially in view of my own criticisms at the time—then part at least of this—and some in a position to estimate said this even if they were opposed to internment at the time—is due to information available as a result of internment, and only so available. That is, of course, entirely different from the political consequences of the internment decision, to which I will come later—the short-term and long-term effects on winning hearts and minds for the campaign against violence. It is right for me to give an honest appraisal whether what I say is agreeable now—or would have been so before I went—to any hon. Member in any part of the House.

Some of those who expressed short-run optimism feared that an end to violence would be only for a limited time—not for six years this time like the last lull—and that it would provide an opportunity to recruit, regroup, retrain and build up financial resources and the munitions of street violence.

There were some who commented on the intellectual resources that are available to the Provisionals, in contrast to the old, rather more crude I.R.A.—the sophistication of their psychological warfare, black propaganda, their ability to play on hatred and fear—above all on fear—and their success in converting lies into legends.

I repeat that there can be no progress while violence lasts. In that sense, there must be what is called a military solution, which means the elimination, the extirpation of violence and, if necessary, the men of violence. This does not necessarily mean going right on until the shooting of the last gunman and gelignite carrier. Policies should be directed to a solution where the gunman and bomber withdraws, because the end is inevitable, folds up his tent and steals silently away—where there is nobody left to shoot.

It is here that we come to the question of a political solution. In my view no political solution can come about, or be put into effect, until what is called the military solution is effective—until the security problem is solved and is seen to be solved.

It is no less important, however, that work should begin, discussions entered into, at the earliest possible moment, without waiting for the completion of the security task. Indeed, this is essential in my view to help the security forces in that task—in winning hearts and minds which have been desperately alienated.

While I have said that no political advance can be implemented now, it must be clear that the comprehensive and adequate political solution which must be worked out, starting now, will be implemented, progressively, stage by stage, the day the shooting stops.

As to the form of such a solution, I need not tell the House that I was presented with a rich diversity of proposals. I have identified over 30 different ones, in addition to the advice of those who warned even against the use of the phrase "political solution" because of the fears they said it would invoke in a substantial section of the population. I said that it must be comprehensive and adequate, and I shall outline what I think it should include before I come to the end of my speech.

There is one thing above all that needs to be said, and this is my third impression. Nowhere more than in Northern Ireland—not even in India, Cyprus or Kenya—have we seen more clearly the law of diminishing returns at work in the adequacy and effectiveness of a given set of reforms. What might be effective, even gratefully grasped, at one moment can become tragically inadequate and irrelevant a year or two, a month or two, a week or two, and even in the present circumstances I could almost say a day or two later because of the march of other events.

The O'Neill reforms, formulated with courage and imagination on his initiative, strongly pressed by our Government on him, had a part to play. The tragedy was that they had been so long withheld that 40 years of necessary advance had to be concentrated into four. Even so he fell, not because they were then seen as inadequate but because he could not carry his party, including some leading members of his Cabinet, with him.

The Downing Street Declaration, reaffirming both the nature of the reforms and the will of both Governments to carry them into effect, had, I believe, a real degree of acceptance at the time and a degree of magic, as influential Catholics with a detailed knowledge of their grass roots have confirmed. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East recently said, the political effects, the adequacy now, in this situation, of the Downing Street Declaration, is today almost as though it had never been promulgated. Many of the reforms have been implemented, or are in the process of implementation, but they are as dust in the wind in terms of adequacy for a political solution.

Mr. Faulkner, who as Development Minister played a leading and determined part in their implementation, himself made new proposals on becoming Prime Minister. The nature of them must have made some of his Unionist predecessors turn in their graves. His proposals to involve minority parties in the work of his proposed parliamentary committees, with key chairmanships for minority Members, may be discounted now—but I ask those who sneer at them now to note the enthusiastic and strong welcome given to them by, for example, S.D.L.P. Members like my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West and Mr. John Hume. But within weeks the S.D.L.P. Members had withdrawn from the Stormont House, for quite other reasons—the Cusack shooting and the refusal to hold an independent inquiry. So we see that something that was welcomed then is now inadequate.

Again, the so-called Green Paper on constitutional reform, which both in respect of P.R. and the issue of collective responsibility within a broader-based Cabinet—which I felt was inadequate at the time, as I informed Mr. Faulkner—is now equally blowing in the wind so far as acceptability is concerned.

I have to say that the same is true of the 12-point proposals which I made in a speech in the country in September, and to which I referred in the House on 22nd September. They might have had validity or appeal at any time before the days of early August, but once the internment decision was made the whole situation was changed and my proposals, too, are victims of the law of diminishing acceptability. I should have realised that then. I realise it now. It took my visit to bring home to me, as I must try to bring home to the House, the traumatic change which the internment decision brought about.

The words I am about to use are words which one should use only with the utmost caution, but I believe it is true that following internment nothing can ever be quite the same again. This process of diminishing acceptability is not just to be dismissed as the perversity of the Irish or of the Catholic population, after the famous reference to Mr. Gladstone, of whom it was said that in his declining years he devoted himself to seeking an answer to the Irish question, only to find, whenever he was getting warm, that the Irish had changed the question. That is not the point here. It is a basic elemental question of lack of confidence, created by an ever-increasing sense of fear, which no words, no speech, no diffident delineation of reforms and, it would seem, almost no action can change. It has reached a position where what matters as an objective fact is the situation is not what the facts are—they are always challenged—but what people believe.

I give an example. I was at Long Kesh, I was told that the construction of the internment camp had begun in April, but it was hurriedly explained that this was a contingency decision in case internment was decided upon at some future date. Others believe that in March or April the Stormont Government took the decision in principle, subject to being able to convince the British Government in the light of provocative acts by terrorists in the summer. I do not know which interpretation is true. Perhaps no one will ever know. But it is an important element in the situation, and in the estimate of the support for violence, that the more sinister explanation is so widely believed, and nothing now will talk them out of it.

It must be recalled that not only the elected representatives of the minority, but all those whom they are elected to represent, are, and have been for more than half a century, denied any power to influence, still less to determine, the conditions under which they live. They are doomed to a position of impotence; they are denied the ability to present alternative policies, as the major parties in this House are not, on which the electorate could vote and return an alternative Government.

Naturally, I heard a great deal in the North about the theocratic nature of the Irish Republican Constitution, with the power it was considered this gave over a secular government. I shall return to that point. But in a real sense the practice, if not the constitution, of Northern Ireland also is theocratic, in that no Government can be elected, no Prime Minister selected—certainly none could long survive—without the approval and support of the Orange Order, which itself is a body formed to uphold strict religious forms, and capable of enforcing its views under a de facto one-party system of government whose membership of the ruling party and of the Government corresponds closely with membership of the Order.

But while we have a great responsibility in this House, as we must always have, for reassuring the now gravely alienated minority, we have to remember the million who form the majority. It is all too frequent in the affairs of nations to forget that majorities, too, have their rights. Many among the majority are as fearful and as bitter as any in the minority. It is too easy to refer to majority aggressiveness and arrogance but not often enough realised that this is caused by fear and insecurity. Any settlement must provide a real future, real security, certainty in which families can make their own domestic plans, for Protestants as well as for Catholics, and both communities have an equal right to a secure future and to the ability to live their lives in their own way. This must mean also—and without it is almost meaningless to examine what this solution can be—offering to the people of Northern Ireland the right to work that some of us have asserted for the men of the Clyde and indeed for all on this side of the water.

This is going to mean a massive injection of capital from the national Exchequer, from the constituents of all of us here. Today generous incentives in Northern Ireland for the attraction of new industry—more generous than in any other part of the United Kingdom—have to contend with the overriding disincentive of violence and fear. That must be recognised but it must not, when violence has been put down, be an excuse for parsimony or neglect in the provision of that economic help, giving work for Protestant and Catholic alike, which it is our clear duty to ensure.

Before I discuss the principles on which any political solution must be based, I would like to give two final impressions. I referred to the quality of so many of those I met, in both communities, and above all those in the churches, the professions, the reconciliation movements and on both sides of industry. The tragedy is their political ineffectiveness in a province where for too long political processes have been decided, with totally predictable results, on the basis of hard line religious attitudes, one or the other, and an obsession with the past, with—and this is a serious point—no middle ground to which Government and Opposition can appeal and must appeal. There have been years with no attempt at a consensus, no possibility at any time of attaining a consensus.

Great advances have been recorded with the new bi-communal authorities, such as the Derry Commission. That Commission takes decisions with deep religious connotations every day—the siting of houses or of flats and other decisions affecting Catholics and Protestants. But they are taken without bigotry and, over three years now, with so little division between Protestant and Catholics that a vote has never been taken on the Commission. But the Commission is now under sentence of death under the local government reforms.

With the police authority also I believe that still more could be achieved if there were less political control and interference. I would like to see the reaction of the Lancashire Police Authority or of the Chief Constable if the Home Office sought similarly to interfere, as happens in Northern Ireland. But then, of course, security questions do not govern the very conditions of life in Lancashire as they do in Northern Ireland. Politics in Lancashire, amateur and professional, do not have to be concerned primarily with security. One of the factors inhibiting the development of real policemanship—a phrase used to my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East and me when Mr. Robert Mark was sent over there and reported back to us more than two years ago—is that every politician in Northern Ireland at every level is an expert on security—he feels he has to be—and that too many tend to identify security with repression.

But the sense of quality which struck me goes deep in the professions and on both sides of industry and in some politicians on both sides, including, some on the extremes. The potential of management there, to say nothing of the puritanical attitude to work of Northern Irish workers, is such that if I were a Dublin politician and a proposal to abolish the Border were put to me, I would have the same fear that the easy-going Malaysians had when they agreed to absorb the vigorous Singaporeans, to say nothing of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. I think that there are many, North and South, who would regard the absorption of Ulster by the South as being what is called, in Stock Exchange parlance, a reverse takeover.

But the most compelling impression any visitor to Northern Ireland feels is what effect this present situation must have on the children of the Province, Protestant and Catholic. Teenagers, and those still younger, are encouraged and duped into street fighting in conditions which must condition their characters and instincts for years to come; there is inculcation of hatred and violence; there are incidents such as one which a young Catholic mother alleged to me—of a police officer, not of the post-Hunt school and, if the allegations are right, I would feel that he is a highly exceptional throwback, provoking and bullying young schoolchildren. I asked for the evidence, so that it could be referred to the inquiry machinery. If it is one-tenth true, it is appalling. What is important again is perhaps no longer what is true but what is believed. And it is even more important with children.

Think of the effect on children when their father is suddenly taken away in a dawn swoop for detention and interrogation, perhaps internment—no communication, no idea where he is. He may be sick and people may fear for his future. They do not know how long he will be away. What does that mean for the generation of tomorrow? Think of what Protestant mothers in the Short Strand area, and Catholics who met me in the Greencastle area told me about the condition in which their children sleep or are too frightened to sleep in night after night of terror. Hon. Members on both sides know this to be true and, time and again in our debates in the House, have used their authority to inform the House about it.

Many of us on this side of the House owe part of our political education to reproductions of the Will Dyson cartoon in the old Daily Herald in 1919. Hon. Members opposite will know of it, too. It was a cartoon of the statesmen of Versailles and a child tragically labelled "class of 1940". The words said by one of the statesmen were: Curious, I seem to hear a child weeping. We are Versailles 50 years later—that is Belfast and Derry today, and we have to pause in our own conflicts and ponder what it means. That child crying today wears the insignia of the class of the guerrillas, the gunmen or the vigilantes—the class of 1980, the class of 1990, the class of all the years there are to come. We cannot approach the principles which must govern a political solution unless these questions and whatever answers we give to them are kept in the forefront of our minds. I repeat, time is not on our side nor on the side of anyone else in this situation.

I submit these principles to the House, therefore, before I come to what that political solution might be.

First, the political solution must not be brought about by violence; nor, in constructing such a solution, can we be allowed to take into consideration the demands of the men of violence. The violence must be rooted out before any new proposals can be put into effect.

Second, this means a security solution, the assertion of effective law and order, in that the men of violence must be either destroyed or compelled to retire.

Third, it follows that British troops must remain as long as they are required to maintain public order, the supremacy of law and the safeguarding of human life. There can be no withdrawal.

Fourth, equally, it must be recognised that no solution depending solely on the preservation of law and order by the forces of law and order can hope to succeed, still less persist, without progress to a far-reaching political solution.

Fifth, the constitutional position must continue to be governed by the Attlee Declaration of 1949, reaffirmed in the Downing Street Declaration of 19th August 1969, namely, that: … Northern Ireland should not cease to be a part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland or from the provision in Section 1 of the Ireland Act, 1949, that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland … Sixth, it follows that the Border cannot be changed by violence. Any political solution must be directed to winning the hearts and minds of the Northern Ireland population, Protestant and Catholic, to the proposition that no violent solution, no matter whence it derives, can ever be accepted, that the task of achieving reconciliation and free agreement is of such a dimension that it means recognising that a political solution capable of sufficing for a short duration must rapidly prove outdated and inadequate. It means recognising that a comprehensive, more fundamental, approach is required.

Seventh, I have reiterated the Downing Street Declaration reaffirming the Attlee pledge, and insisted yet again that any settlement must be by agreement. But I believe that the situation has now gone so far that it is impossible to conceive of an effective long-term solution in which the agenda at least does not include consideration of, and which is not in some way directed to finding a means of achieving, the aspirations envisaged half a century ago, of progress towards a united Ireland, to which statesmen of all views in Northern Ireland have expressed their support, in the right conditions and on the right terms, within the parameters of the Attlee Declaration. At Guildhall, 10 days ago, the Prime Minister said: Many Catholics in Northern Ireland would like to see Northern Ireland unified with the South. That is understandable. It is legitimate that they should seek to further that aim by democratic and constitutional means. If at some future date the majority of the people in Northern Ireland want unification and express that desire in the appropriate constitutional manner, I do not believe any British Government would stand in the way. But that is not what the majority want today. A substantial term of years will be required before any concept of unification could become a reality, but the dream must be there. If men of moderation have nothing to hope for, men of violence will have something to shoot for.

Eighth, in the short term, as equally in the long term, the governance of Northern Ireland must be at all times directed to the human rights provisions of the Downing Street Declaration, namely: … in all legislation and executive decisions of Government, every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom irrespective of political views or religion … Ninth, in the short term, equally with the long term, the minority should participate at all levels in Parliament and Government, independently of what their long-term views, aims or aspirations may be, provided that they undertake loyally to accept the interim system of Government in Northern Ireland.

Tenth, I believe that as part of the task of reconciliation, of the removal of bitterness from Northern Ireland politics and institutions, Her Majesty's Government, with their responsibility to this House, should take over Ministerial responsibility for all aspects of security, providing in police matters the maximum local devolution to the Ulster Police Authority.

From these principles, if they are agreed—and of course they will be a matter of great controversy in this House and still more outside—it would follow that such proposed solutions as the suspension of the Stormont Parliament and Government, and their supersession either by a commission of politicians or a commission divorced from politics and politicians should, in my view, fall. I do not support suspension. The same applies to the imposition, as an act of policy, of direct rule.

My view, which I expressed in April and September in our debates and in speeches outside the House—and everything I have seen and heard confirms me in this view—is that direct rule cannot be ruled out as a last resort, as a counsel of despair, were the existing processes of law and order and civil government to be deemed by the Westminster Parliament and by this House to have failed. But, as an act of policy, as something to be worked for, direct rule must, I submit, be totally rejected.

Equally, I totally reject proposals for the withdrawal of British troops, hard though their task must be. In the present situation of communal hostility in the Province, this House must not rule out, in the absence of British troops, the possibility of civil war and massacre which could make the eve of St. Bartholomew an event of minor proportions. That is the reality we face.

Finally, I come to an outline of the proposals which we—and I hope all others concerned in Northern and Southern Ireland—should consider carefully and in a spirit of reconciliation. The proposals are these.

First, violence must cease, and be seen to have ceased.

Second, I would suggest that there should be inter-party talks here, within this House, and then with the principal parties in Northern Ireland. If agreement can be reached, or some consensus arrived at between the parties, having had the bilateral meetings, this should then lead to discussions between the Governments of the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, directed to the establishment of a constitutional commission representing the major parties of the three Parliaments, including of course adequate representation of the Government parties and the Governments themselves.

The terms of reference of this Commission should include any proposals, from Her Majesty's Government or from any other quarter in Northern Ireland, here, or elsewhere, and should also include—following up what I said earlier—the examination of what would be involved in agreeing on the constitution of a united Ireland.

Let us examine it—a constitution of a united Ireland, to be reached by agreement and requiring ratification by all three Parliaments and with enforceable safeguards for minorities, to come into effect 15 years from the date agreement is reached. Why do we not examine what would be involved—some may want to go into it with utter determination, others may wish to treat it as an exercise—in a constitution of a united Ireland to come into effect 15 years from the date agreement is reached, provided that violence, as a political weapon, comes to an end? It would be a subject for consideration—I am not sure whether this is right—that such a settlement should be deferred by, say, one month beyond the 15 years for every act of violence committed in the name of union after signature and ratification of this agreement.

Such a proviso might have the effect of minimising support or tacit approval by non-violent members of the minority or those who seek a solution by violence. With such a provision, all acts of violence would be seen by all, whatever their views today, to be not advancing but actually retarding the cause of unity of Ireland.

Third, internment would cease as soon as the necessary conditions exist for an improvement in confidence, it being understood that all against whom criminal charges were to be preferred would be subject to normal criminal procedure.

I have heard criticisms that internment was introduced, by a stroke of the pen, without any constitutional procedures. If all concerned, in both countries, agree that special powers in some form cannot be repealed in the special conditions of Northern Ireland—as they exist today in Southern Ireland and if there were any question of a transition to a united Ireland, there might be special strains which would cause some, at any rate, perhaps as much in the South as in the North, to feel that special powers might be required—then I believe profoundly that any decision to invoke them—and then only in conditions of dire emergency—must require, as is indeed provided in our own legislation, a Declaration of Emergency, ratified by a decision of this House and lapsing automatically unless renewed, 30 days by 30 days, by this House.

No deprivation of personal liberty, in a situation where we may not be able immediately to move to the absolute rule of law, should be in the hands of any individual, even be he a Minister. It should be under the total control of this House, which alone must be able to lay down the conditions in which it is exercised, the rules to be followed, interrogation procedures and everything else. One condition which this House would insist upon would be that such powers would be conferred only when the ordinary processes of law have broken down and are seen to have broken down. Another must be that every individual must be informed of the charge he has to meet and be given the opportunity to meet it, with proper legal support.

An internee I met in Long Kesh told me that he had no idea of the charge against him. I do not know whether that is so, but hon. Members will have seen the article in The Times of Tuesday recording that internment powers in India, in Kenya, in Malaya, in Singapore, in Nkrumah's Ghana and—of importance to this House—in wartime Britain, required the nature of the charge to be notified to the detainee. This was what we provided for even in wartime. Just as the internment powers, even in Rhodesia, requires parliamentary approval of a state of emergency, this House certainly cannot insist on less.

Fourth, any constitutional agreement about a United Ireland submitted for ratification by the three Parliaments, would have to include full legal and other safeguards for the rights of minorities, be those minorities in North or South. Examination should be given to alternative forms of a Federal constitution, be that based on a dual system or on the four historic Irish provinces, or to a system of meaningful devolution. It should be devised in such a manner as to encourage the best of the Northern Irish political leaders of all parties, who, I believe, need not fear comparison South of the border or anywhere else, including this House, to seek to exercise their political abilities on an all-Ireland stage.

The agreement would have to provide, whether by a blocking vote mechanism or other means, constitutional guarantees to ensure protection for minorities against any change in the entrenched clauses dealing with the basic constitutional issues, without their agreement. These are problems of which we have had some familiarity in other contexts.

Fifth, the agreement should be further enshrined in an international convention entered into by the two sovereign powers concerned, with provision for binding arbitration by the International Court or other agreed appropriate tribunal.

Sixth, if progress were made in the freely constituted Constitutional Commission, with the last word held by the three Parliaments, the Irish Republic should undertake to seek as a Republic, membership of the Commonwealth, recognising the Queen as head of that Commonwealth. It has long been my view that, had the Indian formula providing for a sovereign republic to be a member of the Commonwealth been devised in time to affect the Irish settlement, Ireland could well have remained within the Commonwealth. I recognise the great difficulty this would present to Irish leaders, having regard to history; but more than at any time in Irish history, we have to regard the struggle of the past as an inspiration for the future, not an impediment to securing a peaceful future so different from that past.

Seventh, for a long period of years—and this is why I have made the earlier proposal—to be specified in the constitutional settlement, any oath of allegiance for those who so chose, could be in the form of allegiance to the constitution of the new Ireland, and to the Queen as head of the Commonwealth.

Eighth, from the moment of agreement, if one could be freely reached, on the Irish settlement, the Government of the Irish Republic would give a solemn undertaking, incorporated in the agreement, not when it comes into effect, but now, to use all appropriate powers, and all the energy, forces and means at its command to pursue and extirpate terrorist organisations, operating from, located in, or supported from Irish soil. It would further undertake, jointly with the British Armed Forces, and other security services, to engage, as the situation required, in all necessary operations of Border patrols and other means of Border control to prevent terrorist infiltration into the North.

Ninth, the Government should give a binding undertaking to maintain, for the whole 15 year period of transition, and thereafter if the Sovereign power so agreed, sufficient military forces to safeguard law and order and eliminate violence. I would see no reason why they should not remain, if the Government of a united Ireland saw fit, for a further five or 10 years, that is, for up to a quarter of a century from the date of these negotiations.

To emphasise Britain's determination in this regard, new buildings and facilities of a permanent character should be consrtucted, not so much a garrison as a military town, including married quarters and training facilities, so that there would be a large force of troops, both for training and available for operations. The idea would be a peacetime establishment similar to Aldershot or Catterick, so as to avoid the drama and sensation of the entry of troops for riot or subversive situations. The building and maintenance would provide much-needed employment.

Tenth, during the transitional period the Government should assume full Ministerial responsibility for all aspects of security, military and police, with the maximum devolution I have suggested to the police authority. Arrangements would be made for reports to be made by United Kingdom Ministers to the Parliament of Stormont, whether through a Standing Committee or direct to Parliament itself.

Eleventh, in the interim period, the Stormont Government should include representatives of minority views, pro- vided that each such Minister made clear his loyal acceptance of the interim constitution, in addition to his acceptance of the long-term settlement set out in the agreement.

Twelfth, the constitution of the new Ireland would include the Human Rights Provision of the Downing Street Declaration, together with adequate machinery for its enforcement.

Thirteenth—and here we come to the theocratic problem—the constitution would further provide for changes in the 1937 Irish Constitution necessary to give assurance that there would be no constitutional impediment to the creation of a National Health Service on the British model; to a social security system not less eligible than that now enjoyed by the citizens of Northern Ireland; that all censorship or prohibition of books or the importation of newspapers would be removed; that the right would be asserted to legislate in the field of personal liberties, for example, in family planning, abortion and other matters, in accordance with British practices, and provision made to place legislation on all these matters on the British model, on the Statute Book during the transitional period.

Fourteenth, it should also provide for a dual and equal system of education on the lines of the English and Scottish models, with such limited changes as are required for the needs of a united Ireland.

Fifteenth and finally, social service provisions should be progressively assimilated to the British System to guarantee to Northern Ireland citizens the rights they have enjoyed within the United Kingdom. The task of harmonising the Irish system of social security with the British should begin with the signature of the Constitutional Agreement, having regard to wage levels and other matters affecting the standard of living in both countries. Five years after signature of the Agreement the first of 10 annual increments in Irish social benefits would begin, assisted by an injection of British financial aid, total harmonisation being effective simultaneously with the entry into force of the long-term constitutional provisions of the Agreement and Treaty, and the achievement of a united Ireland.

Perhaps I could say this to the Prime Minister, whom I have already thanked—we know that it has been difficult for him to be here and we all understand that he has to honour a long-standing engagement. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will give careful consideration to these proposals I have put forward and that they will be ready in any case to agree to my suggestion of inter-party talks in this House as a preliminary to similar talks between all the main parties in Westminster and Stormont, leading then, if agreement can be reached, to consideration of the wider proposals I have outlined, or of any other alternative proposals which the Government or anyone else may table.

No one underrates the immensity of the task of reconcilation but still less will anyone underrate the alternative to reconciliation in terms of bitterness and violence. No one here underrates the primary duty, for Northern Ireland's Protestants, for Northern Ireland's Catholics, of helping them, together, to find security for each, and so to provide the certainty, and the hope, so tragically lacking today, which will enable each family, of whatever faith, to plan and to live its own life in the way it has the right to choose.

5.32 p.m.

The Minister of State for Defence (Lord Balniel)

The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), in opening the debate, has spoken of one of the greatest problems facing the country and rightly emphasised the sombre picture where hate and fear are so often the dominant sentiments in society. He has rightly spoken of the immensity of the task of reconciliation, and I am glad to follow him. I hope that he will not think it presumptuous of me to say that the whole House has listened to his speech with profound interest and has regarded its theme and the suggestions he made as being constructive and put forward in a most helpful manner.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will speak on Monday and so be enabled not only to deploy the Government's views but also to take into account the arguments and suggestions which have been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. I can assure him at this stage that we shall give them the most careful consideration. The value of his speech lies not only in the suggestions which have been put forward but also in the broad measure of agreement which clearly exists between the two parties.

There was no suggestion that the troops should be withdrawn; there was an acceptance of the fact that military measures are necessary before a political solution can be implemented. There is also the acceptance, whatever his views might have been in the past, that internment, while immensely distasteful to every hon. Member, has a crucial importance in the short term in putting down violence. There is agreement that there is no departure from the constitutional position as set out in the Downing Street Declaration. There is agreement between the parties that there should be no proposal for direct rule except in the last resort, when the whole fabric of society in Northern Ireland has broken down.

There is agreement between the parties that there should be no going back on the Hunt recommendations and there is agreement that the Border should not be changed by violence. There is agreement that all citizens of Northern Ireland, to whatever community they belong, should be treated equally and have equal opportunities in society. It is on this basis that we begin the debate, with a broad measure of agreement, with the suggestions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, which we shall consider most carefully and on which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will comment on Monday.

I believe that it would be of greatest help to the House if I tried to give some appraisal of the security situation in Northern Ireland. My right hon. Friend and I have repeatedly made clear that military measures alone cannot solve the underlying problems of Northern Ireland.

As was said in the Gracious Speech, the Government remain determined to continue their efforts to establish political conditions in Northern Ireland which ensure for the communities there an active, permanent and guaranteed rôle in the life and public affairs of the Province. But equally prominent in the Gracious Speech was the Government's determination that violence in Northern Ireland shall be brought to an end.

This does not mean that the search for political advance must await the end of the terrorist campaign. But no political solution can be implemented until the campaign has been curbed—until the terror has been lifted.

Those men of the I.R.A. who seek to gain their ends by terror have certainly taken a heavy toll of life-38 regular soldiers; two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers; 11 policemen of the Royal Ulster Constabulary—all killed in the past year. In the appalling catalogue of crime one must include those who are not covered by the statistics, those many others who have been wounded. All too often on my desk in the daily reports from the military forces in Northern Ireland I read, "Private, bullet wound, lower spine, permanently paralysed from the waist down", or "Corporal, bullet wound, in lung and hip, paralysed right leg, probably permanently". The tragedy is not something which can be measured in statistics; it is something that will remain with many of the soldiers for the rest of their lives.

These most certainly were men of the security forces—prepared in the course of duty to risk their lives in the interests of the community. But there are many others—innocent civilians—who even in the eyes of the I.R.A. have been guilty of no more than that they worked at a particular office, drank at a particular pub or even travelled on a particular bus. It is just their sad, bad luck in the eyes of the I.R.A. that they had to be gunned down or blasted by bombs.

I do not think that in this House I need say a word more about the immeasurable sadness they have brought to the people of Ireland—except to quote the words of the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic. He said: The activities of the I.R.A., especially their indiscriminate bombing causing the loss of innocent lives, have not only alienated sympathy, widely held abroad for the deprived minority in the North, but could set the attainment of national unity back for many, many years. It is difficult to believe that the evil minds that plan these activities can be motivated by the ideal of the unification of ' our people and our country'. I think it unwise to speculate as to when the situation will be back to normal—where in Belfast and Londonderry people can walk and live in peace and tranquillity. I fear that no doubt we shall see more shooting, more horror. I have no doubt that yet more degraded forms of terror will be seen—I am bound to say, though, that it is a long time since the Army last found it necessary to guard our wounded in hospitals against further attacks by gunmen.

But the I.R.A. is not attaining any of its major objectives. It hoped that the security forces would retaliate with uncontrolled violence and repression. But the forces have remained calm and disciplined. It hoped to provoke the Protestants into taking the law into their own hands. Again it is not succeeding. It hoped that this country would despair—and sickened with horror would withdraw the Army—and it hoped for Civil War.

But it has miscalculated. The determination of the Government is that British forces will stay in Northern Ireland in such strength and for as long as they are needed to restore and maintain law and order. This is the determination of the Government and has been underscored by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech today.

They will work with the minimum of force; with complete impartiality between the communities but steadily and inexorably their efficiency is increasing; their knowledge and information is growing; and they will win the fight against the terrorist.

The I.R.A. has taken a very hard knock indeed. And the House does not have to take my words on this. Cathal Goulding, chief of staff of the official I.R.A., has been reported by the Press only in the last few days as saying that We —that is, he and the Provisionals whom he blames for their terror campaign— we are both suffering from internment and military occupation. Whereas in the beginning internment was a failure, gradually but surely more people in both movements are being arrested every day. Whether combined or individually, we are not going to win in the military sense. They will suppress the armed revolutionary. He will be defeated. And he is right. They will be defeated. They are in the process of being defeated at the moment.

The information at the disposal of the security forces is growing—leading to more seizures of arms; more arrests of wanted persons. The pattern of arrests of wanted men has risen from 28 in the first week of October; 40 in the next week; 53 in the next week; 73 in the next week and 41 in the following week—and now to rather over 100 a week so far this month. Two days ago, for instance, 32 wanted men were arrested.

Just as the arrests of wanted men have increased, so it has been followed by a steady increase in the discovery of arms. This year the security forces have discovered in Northern Ireland 458 guns, of various types. They have found 112,000 rounds of ammunition and 1¼ tons of explosives. There was also the big haul in Amsterdam.

The layman's mind boggles with these kind of statistics—when one pound of gelignite is enough to kill a roomful of people. In fact, we have found enough arms to equip roughly a battalion of troops.

The usual shelter for a gunman is a crowd of women or children—and the soldiers have to take incredibly dangerous risks to try and ensure that no innocent people are hurt. The troops act very carefully—but they act extremely toughly against the terrorists themselves. They are making inroads into the strength and reserves of the I.R.A. The figures I have given illustrate this point.

The House may also wish to be aware of the recent figures for terrorist acts. The average number of shooting incidents a week in September and October was about 70. There were 99 in the last week of October. Since then, in successive weeks, there have been 75, 69 and 36. The explosions continued but at a reduced rate. There were 34 in the week ending 27th October; in the following week there were 50; in the next two weeks there were 23 and 21.

Nevertheless, the present rate of incidents is appallingly high. Every act of terrorism is one too many. Very small numbers of terrorists can wreak tremendous havoc. As a country we must not anticipate an easy or quick elimination of the campaign. A vital factor is the Army's ability to arrest wanted men and to locate weapons. This flows directly from improving intelligence.

We debated one aspect of this subject last week and it was the task of the Compton Committee to establish the facts. It did not have the incredibly difficult task of deciding what methods can be morally justified in balancing the intensity of interrogating people strongly suspected of being deeply implicated in terrorism, against the desperate need to save lives and obtain up-to-date intelligence. This is an extremely difficult judgment for any Government to make and our decision to refer this matter to a Committee of Privy Councillors, under the chairmanship of an eminent judge—Lord Parker, has commanded a large measure of general agreement in the House as being the most constructive step we can take.

One particularly sad feature of recent weeks is that the I.R.A. has stepped up its attacks on unarmed police in the R.U.C. Its purpose is to undermine the morale and steadfastness of the police force and to achieve a complete breakdown of law and order. These policemen have had to face attacks upon themselves, their police stations and, even worse, on their homes and families.

They, the police force, welcomed the Hunt Report and the idea of developing a basically unarmed force. But the situation has changed. We all sympathise with the view of the senior policeman who said the other day: Most of us were quite happy to lose our guns because we realised this would help us to hang on to the civilian role. But unfortunately the present terror campaign against the R.U.C. makes the idea of an ordinary British type police force impossible. You cannot expect a man to walk about the streets unarmed when he knows he is a target for dozens of gunmen. It has been necessary for policemen in certain areas to carry arms for much of the time when they are away from their stations on duty. The R.U.C. Reserve is also to be armed when on similar duties.

We have also agreed to a number of measures, announced on 12th November by my right hon. Friend, for the better protection of police stations, many of which include accommodation for policemen's families.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

Will my hon. Friend tell us what improvements in accommodation facilities are being carried out for our troops in Northern Ireland, in view of the fact that obviously they will be there for a considerable time?

Lord Balniel

Perhaps my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not deal with that point at the moment. I refer my hon. Friend to an answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army at Question Time today, and I have no doubt that he will try and answer the question more specifically, if necessary.

Reverting to the protection of the police, the Army will guard as many stations as the operational situation and the regular and U.D.R. manpower in Northern Ireland will permit. To guard the remainder, the police have been provided with automatic weapons. These stations will also be covered by Army patrols. These are all very necessary measures in the current situation. I am sure the House will agree that it is right to offer the police some measure of self-protection against the type of attacks which have been made against them.

The Army will continue to help on police patrols giving cover where it can. But this cannot always be available without diverting troops from other tasks where they can be pursuing a more active initiative in combating terrorism. However, I echo the words of the Leader of the Opposition. There is no suggestion of reverting to the situation which existed prior to the Hunt Report.

It would be wrong of me to let this occasion pass without a brief reference and tribute to the Ulster Defence Regiment, although my hon. Friend will deal with it later in the debate. It is increasing significantly in strength. The force has been in the forefront of the campaign and has suffered casualties, with two men killed. The members of the U.D.R. continue to make a most useful and effective contribution to the security forces.

Much public attention in recent weeks has focussed on the Border. It is unfortunately the case that the members of the I.R.A. use the territory of the Republic—even though it is an illegal organisation there—for many purposes. They use it for training, as a sanctuary when they know they are wanted in Northern Ireland, and as a supply route for arms and explosives. Some control of the Border is therefore well worth while.

Complete control by sealing the Border is impracticable. It is over 300 miles long, and there are in addition many places where a small boat could readily land in Northern Ireland. The forces that would be needed to close off terrorist traffic along the entire length of the Border are quite prohibitive. Even partial measures mean a great deal of inconvenience for the peaceful traffic which makes the great bulk of crossings each day, and especially for considerable numbers of local people both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic whose everyday life straddles the Border.

However, the Government do not intend to allow I.R.A. members to move to and fro just as they please and without hindrance. We cannot stop determined men slipping across the Border on foot, perhaps carrying small loads. But we can make it very much more difficult for them to drive across freely.

It is with this in mind that a considerable number of unapproved crossings have been blocked. Some may argue that this action at most inconveniences the I.R.A. But it should not be seen as an isolated military measure. It is part of a sequence of means steadily tightening the grip on the I.R.A., and it makes it possible to control traffic on the remaining roads much more tightly.

The general picture is one in which we see military efficiency increasing. Steadily and inexorably we see a tighter grip being fastened on terrorism. But the picture is also one in which we cannot expect any immediate and sudden end to terrorist activity and in which we as a country have to brace ourselves for yet further outrage.

Throughout the weeks and months which lie ahead, the Government will pursue their dual task of ending and rooting out violence and continuing with our efforts to establish conditions where all sectors of the Northern Ireland community have a permanent, active and cultured life in their country.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South-West)

When I heard the opening of this debate, although I had intended to speak, temporarily I changed my mind because some of the comments that I wished to make were not entirely in keeping with the very constructive way in which the debate had begun. However, the few comments that I wish to make may best be made at this stage, immediately following the speech of the Minister of State and his remarks about the rôle of the Army.

It is appropriate that the debate should begin in this very serious, constructive and responsible manner. There can be no Member of this House who does not feel intense shame about what has happened in Northern Ireland. Whenever one becomes conscious of the fact that citizens of this country cannot walk on the streets of their towns without the risk of being shot, that is a cause for shame for us all.

It should be noted in passing that for too many years this House did not live up to its responsibilities in Northern Ireland because it did not allow the affairs of Northern Ireland to be discussed. We should make a mental note that never again will any aspect of the affairs of our country be ruled out of order for discussion in this House. To some extent, we are bearing the consequences of that today.

I find my views on the situation clearly divided. However, I believe that there is a consistency of approach. I support the remark of the Minister that the Army is to be respected for the responsible way in which it has gone about its duties in Northern Ireland. I resent the fact that one can see on television British troops being stoned by school children when they are going about their lawful duties. We are constantly telling ourselves that one of the reasons why those who commit acts against peace in Northern Ireland cannot be prosecuted is that witnesses will not come forward. On our television screens we see youths throwing stones at soldiers. Surely still photographs can be taken of those events, and surely prosecutions can be brought on the basis of them. I dare say that some prosecutions are brought, but I think not many. I should have thought that this was one relatively minor infringement of the law that we ought not to tolerate.

I should also be prepared to see far tougher action on certain other means of keeping the peace in Northern Ireland. Certainly the Border needs to be controlled far more than it has been in the past, while not being closed. It is ludicrous to attempt to conduct a campaign of this kind with an open border across which those who break the peace can escape.

However, we must not allow our feelings on these kinds of point to affect our views about the very serious matters which came to light last week. In making my points about the Compton Report, I beg the Minister to believe that I am not motivated by any opposition to the Army as such but by a firm belief that the Army can do its job in Northern Ireland and will be permitted to do its job only in the way in which we are accustomed to see judicial proceedings conducted in this country.

I have had the feeling during the last week that the country, and especially this House, has been anaesthetised, and has not recognised the facts set out in the Compton Report. I do not believe that the Compton Report was a whitewash in any proper sense of the word, but I do think that the wording of the Report, and the way in which the clearly set out facts are embedded in a lot of other material, has led people not quite to recognise the gravity of what is therein stated.

This afternoon I asked the Minister about the legality of what was done, and he asserted that in his opinion standing people up against a wall, hooding them, inflicting noise on them and subjecting them to semi-starvation were not illegal acts. That may be his opinion, and though I may have an opposite opinion, the fact is that there is here an objective matter to be tested. One cannot allow a situation to continue in which British troops, their officers and the Ministers who are responsible for what they do—I leave aside the Ulster Constabulary—may have been responsible for conspiring to commit a breach of the law. We must get that matter clarified.

If it is the case that British Ministers are implicated in that responsibility, it follows, according to the traditions of this country, that the senior Minister responsible would have to resign. That must be looked into, and we shall all have read with interest the second leader in The Times of today. The Times has finally awakened to the point, as I think many people are beginning to do, and I think that we must settle the issue, one way or the other.

I hope that in reading the Compton Report hon. Members will bring to it some degree of worldly wisdom, because anyone who has spent a day or a night in a guardroom, on whichever side of the bars, must have read some paragraphs in the Report with amusement, qualified only by the seriousness of the matter in hand. When it is said that the men who were stood against the wall had their hands rubbed by their guards to restore the circulation to their hands, one cannot fail to wonder whether that was a totally accurate representation of what occurred.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

A gentle massage.

Mr. Cunningham

As my hon. Friend says, it was a gentle massage. That is what was represented as having occurred. I do not suppose that any hon. Member believes that that kind of incident happens in any legal or gentle manner.

There are many other passages in the Report about which the same comment could be made, but I do not want to dwell on those allegations made to the Committee which were thought to be disproved by the Committee, or those upon which the Committee could take no decision one way or the other.

If we consider the four activities which the Committee found to have taken place in respect of a number of men, we realise that there is enormous cause for concern. I do not want to use the word "torture" because, on the more severe side of what happened, there are gradations of torture almost to infinity. But it was torture, or very mild torture, and the House of Commons does not tolerate torture, however mild. It always starts by being mild, but it will not remain so.

It has been said that the purpose of the Committee of Privy Councillors is to try to find a line between activities which are acceptable to us and activities which are not. I suggest that that line could be found at two clearly differentiated places. First, there is the line which is found in this country for normal purposes, and that line, basically, is the line between asking for information, and going on asking for information for what I might call a normal working day, with breaks for meals, and so on. That is the line which we apply in this country.

Then there is the line which would divide some form of, shall we say, pressure from other forms of pressure. If the Committee tries to find the second line, and even if it tries to find that second line on the gentle side of the activities which were found by the Compton Report to have taken place, I suggest that we are opening a sluice gate which we shall never manage to close.

Let me put the point like this. If the Privy Councillors are to try to define that second line, will they say that it is all right to stand a man up against the wall and use physical force to keep him there—because he will not stand there voluntarily—half starve him, subject him to noise, and so on, while that is going on? Will they say that it is all right to do that for 20 hours, but not for 25? Will they say that it is all right to do that to a man, but not to a woman? Will they say that that can be done to a woman, but not to a pregnant woman? Where is the line to be drawn which is not only capable of being written down in rules but which is capable of being defended in morality and logic?

Can anyone really believe that guards, when they have a man up against the wall, will think that his feet are too far apart and he is a bit uncomfortable and will say, "He is too uncomfortable. We had better put his feet closer together. He will give us the information quickly if we leave him like that"? It is nonsense. If someone is going in for torture, he has to keep on with it, in the logic of the thing.

It is not possible to have gentle torture. Gentle torture is the only thing which the House of Commons would be prepared to accept, but it cannot accept even that. The dilemma is that if someone is in the business of forcing information out of people, he has to apply a little pressure. He will not get his information otherwise, and if he applies too much pressure he offends the feelings of 99 per cent. of the hon. Members of this House.

I make no apology for speaking in terms of torture, because that is what the Compton Report found. I do not believe that it is right to set up a Committee of Privy Councillors and suggest that their job is to find a line between some form of ill-treatment which would be bearable, and others which would not. That line can never be found. If it can be defined in words, it can never be defended in morality or in logic.

When these allegations were found to have been proved to the extent that they were, the right thing was for the House to condemn them outright, for Ministers to have done so, and for Ministers to have taken action to prosecute those responsible. And, if Ministers were responsible, for the appropriate Minister to resign. I still hope that that kind of action can be taken.

There is one other point on the dangers of torture which one would have thought it was necessary to make in the House. If one puts a man up against a wall and subjects him to unbearable noise, gives him a diet of one slice of bread every six hours and puts a black hood over his head, as were all done simultaneously and were proved by the Report to have been done, he has something of an incentive to make up some information. He may therefore provide names off the top of his head. In the logic of the situation, one then pulls in the bearers of those names, and stands them up against a wall and half starves them and so on.

I hope that hon. Members have paid attention to the letters from professional lawyers and medical men which have recently been printed in The Times, suggesting not only that, in morality, justice and law, such behaviour is intolerable, but also that it is not effective in getting reliable information. However, one must admit that these methods can produce some reliable information which can help to save lives.

Anyone who takes the line which I am now pressing—I hope that it will wake up the whole House eventually—is saying that we would rather do without some information than gather it on this basis and that we recognise that doing without that information might mean the loss of some innocent lives. We have always been prepared to accept such a loss in this country. Every night, in every police station in the country, the police could adopt these methods. They could save lives, stop burglaries and recover material by the use of these methods—but they do not do so. They are not legally entitled to do so and we would not like it if they tried to do so. It has always been our law and practice. We need now to get back on the rails in Northern Ireland, and it needs to be the practice there, too.

I hope that, when the Minister has considered the matter, he will decide that it is important for some Minister to make a statement about the legal implications. If the Minister's view is that the actions are not illegal, let him at least make a statement to that effect.

I also hope that the Minister will change his decision not to allow Members of Parliament to see the electronic noise machine which I have asked for permission to see. If ever there comes a time when it is possible to bombard people in British hands with such devices, if Ministers ever say to a Member of Parliament, "No, you cannot see the exact nature of what we do," we have come to a very low ebb indeed. These methods have been called "interrogation in depth". "Depth" is the right word. I hope that when hon. Members consider this coolly and rationally, they will decide that these are methods which no British Parliament can possibly allow to continue.

6.13 p.m.

Mr. John E. Maginnis (Armagh)

I will not follow the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham) in his examination in depth of the report which we discussed last week. I should like to turn my attention to what the Leader of the Opposition said in his very long and protracted speech. His summing up of the situation was superb, but his solutions could be described in the words which he used about his previous 12 points—they will be blowing in the wind by this time next week.

We have had Irish Republican Army troubles since even before Northern Ireland was separated from the rest of Ireland. During my lifetime, from the 1920 Act to 1925, there were various stages of I.R.A. activity almost as vicious as what we are seeing today in Belfast, Derry and other places. We had it again in the 1930s, the 1940s and the 1950s, right up to 1962, and we have it again today.

The solution which the right hon. Gentleman has put before the House deserves consideration. I would remind the House that the majority of the one million Protestants living in Northern Ireland will never accept an all-Ireland Republic, although they would accept a united Ireland under Britain. The alternative suggestion put forward, that of a regional solution, would carry more weight than setting up a Commission, which would spread its wings over 15 years and involve an awful lot of talk with no result.

The situation today is improving. I should like to pay my tribute to the men of the British Army, which is our Army, for their efforts in tracking down the gunmen in Northern Ireland. I know that we could criticise the lack of security in certain areas, but these gaps will be filled in the near future because of the vast improvement in recruitment to the U.D.R. It is only when we have the presence of the Army and the U.D.R. in every area that we shall finally crush the gunmen's efforts to subvert the rightly-elected Government of Stormont.

We have this huge problem of the Border. Up to the moment we have had very little co-operation from the Parliament in Dublin. The powers-that-be here should try hard to impress upon Mr. Lynch that the great bone of contention, the matter which digs very deeply into the hearts and minds of all the Unionists living in Northern Ireland, is that part of the constitution of the Republic which lays claim to Northern Ireland.

It is also asserted by the Provisional I.R.A. that the only way of bringing about a united Ireland is by force. This is entirely false. Men of good will from all sides are today prepared to sit down and do their best to find some solution to the problem. I should like to reiterate what the Leader of the Opposition said: that no political solution should be put forward until the violence has come to an end and the gunmen have been wiped out. Any political solution emanating from this House or anywhere else would only be a sop to the Irish Republican Army.

We must remember that since the formation of Northern Ireland into a division of the country the majority of people in Northern Ireland have consistently stated, in election after election, that they want to remain part of the United Kingdom. The original Unionists, before the country was divided, never wanted it to be divided; they wanted it to remain under Westminster.

The threat of direct rule—" If you do not do what we want you to do, direct rule will be imposed"—has been hanging like a sword of Damocles over the administration at Stormont for the past two or three years. Direct rule will not solve the problem of Northern Ireland. All that it will do is transfer the troubles from the streets of Belfast to the streets of London, from Stormont to Westminster.

I hope that anyone who suggests direct rule as a solution to our problem will have second thoughts. The one thing which the Provisional I.R.A. want is direct rule. Once they get it, they will put on such pressure that even politicians in this House will give them what they want—and that is a united Ireland by force.

6.19 p.m.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I am not always an unqualified admirer of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), my leader, but my admiration for him today was quite unqualified. I thought he made a magnificent and very brave speech. People may be agreeing upstairs at this moment with that. I thought he made a very wise speech with feeling for what is happening in Ireland. It was an imaginatively brave speech, because it is very rash for any man to risk putting forward proposals of the sort that he put forward, a number of which are bound to be shot down, and yet no one in authority will find a political solution unless he has the guts to do that. I therefore pay an unqualified tribute to my leader, particularly because on other occasions I have been somewhat rough in my criticisms of him.

I agree with all that the noble Lord the Minister of State and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said about the magnificent conduct of the Army in terribly wearing circumstances. It is a tribute to the astonishing qualities of the British professional Army that it can maintain its morale in these circumstances—with no leave, not being able to get out, in wretched living conditions and with the eternal fear that a bullet may be fired from any window or corner. Yet, despite the strain on the nerves, not even the most prejudiced person claims that the soldiers have been brutal, have lost their heads, gone berserk or shot anywhere. One wonders how long this situation will last in view of the pressures.

I have taken tremendous interest in the question of an army faced by guerrillas in occupation. I have written on the subject quite a bit. I came to it when I defended Marshal Manstein, to whom I pay tribute as a great commander and very wise and humane man. I remember when he talked to me about the time that he faced a guerrilla in the Crimea. He said, "One thing you must realise in a guerrilla situation is that you are the side of order and they are the side of disorder and that terror is the instrument of disorder and that once you start, as these Gestapo will start, a rival terror, you are lost. The only way in which we can succeed against the guerrilla is by providing the security that every ordinary man wants. Once he feels that we can protect him he will be on our side. The point at which I knew I had won my conflict with the Crimean guerrillas was when I could arm the villagers for their own defence." However, the Russians returned and there were terrible consequences for the villagers. This was the tragedy of that awful war.

We must be able to provide people with security against the gunmen's vengeance. Until we have provided that security, the gunmen's campaign of terror will be maintained. To a tremendous degree, the Army has restrained itself in providing a rival terror. It has not yet succeeded in providing a system of adequate security for ordinary people who wish for peace and protection against the inroads of the gunmen.

We have not been as good as this before. In the early 1920s, in the days of the Black and Tans, we fell into the error of competitive terror. The situation got completely out of control and we had to make our escape. We came near to that situation in Israel, when troops under great pressure lost their heads. There were rival brutalities and the situation became unmanageable. That has not happened in Northern Ireland.

But the people must still be protected. If we are to provide protection, we must get the necessary information. If we are to protect people against gunmen, we must obtain the information which enables us to identify the gunmen and find their arms and explosives, which otherwise will blow up harmless passers-by in the street and visitors to hotels in an entirely promiscuous attempt to create disorder and misery.

I am not unduly shocked by anything disclosed in the Compton Report. It seems to me unduly squeamish to compare the maiming and crippling, the paralysed backs of children without fathers, and the misery of sweethearts whose lovers have gone as a result of the dreadful damage caused by the bomb and the sniper, with the distressing 48 hours which a detainee may suffer.

Mr. George Cunningham

Will my hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that most people who criticise the actions set out in the Compton Report do not equate the two things but argue that those actions must be legally and morally wrong, even though the terror is far and away worse than those actions.

Mr. Paget

If my hon. Friend will permit me to say so, I greatly admired his speech. I admired its moderation and the humanity which it exhibited. I agree with him that people have not been comparing the two things. I think they should; that is my point. My hon. Friend said that he recognised that to put a limitation on the methods used to obtain information would cost innocent lives but that is a price which must be paid. I do not agree with him. I am not prepared deliberately to sacrifice the innocent lives of passers-by or of our troops. to whom we have given this terrible job to do, in order to save people a very distressing 48 hours. The two things are not comparable.

As I say, I do not feel particularly squeamish about what is disclosed in the Compton Report. But is it effective? That is the test question. I am certain that anything like torture is totally ineffective. The wrong names are given and as a result the wrong people are sought. In the 1920s the Black and Tans simply gave the names of the people they wanted to get rid of. Torture is totally counterproductive, so whatever moral views we may have about it do not make sense. But, again, the simple, "Have a cup of tea and tell us about it" does not work either. We have to have an interrogation in depth. But how does one do this?

In our courts, we have interrogation in depth. We put a chap in the witness box, and that is a hell of an experience. It can be a terrible experience. I, and I am sure you, Mr. Speaker, have known cases of people who have perhaps never quite recovered from a really formidable cross-examination in court. But it is not a question of putting on that kind of pressure just to get the answers. It is to break down the lies and get a person to the point where his resistance to examination has gone and he begins to spill out the truth. This is the process one is attempting, and this is the process which is accelerated if a man is tired, hungry or, perhaps, frightened. When the information has to be produced quickly, these conditions, which help the cross-examiner and weaken the cross-examined, need to be provided. That is what is meant by cross-examination—examination in depth.

The question of the methods which have been used is for the Privy Councillors. That has to be said. But when we ask our troops in these circumstances to take on this task, and when we say we have to provide protection for the people who will be involved, for the people who will be blown up by these explosives if the chap who is being grilled does not say where they are—when we have to do those things we cannot be too squeamish about making the conditions comfortable for the person whose will is being broken down by the process of cross-examination. That is the whole problem that we are up against. It is the problem which the judge and the Privy Councillors will have to consider.

Mr. George Cunningham

Would not my hon. and learned Friend agree that if he wants to apply these methods, which are quite unknown to the law of this country, Parliament must have the guts to pass legislation to allow this kind of action and cannot tolerate it happening without legislative authority and, thus, contrary to the law?

Mr. Paget

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I do not wish to prolong the debate by going into a legal argument on it, but my hon. Friend should look at the terms of the Special Powers Act. I think he would find that these things fall within it. Perhaps we shall have a Law Officer to explain it. I am certainly not a law officer of the Government. I am merely discussing what I feel should be done in this overwhelming task of the Army not to create terror itself but to provide protection, which alone can bring people to its assistance.

6.34 p.m.

Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)

I shall be very brief. I want to concentrate on one aspect only of Ulster, the coverage of the crisis in Ulster by radio and television, and by the B.B.C. in particular.

I begin by referring to Lord Hill's apologia, which we heard a day or two ago. It is the seventh apology this year that the B.B.C. has made to the public. The sixth was made by Mr. Huw Wheldon, when he found himself on a religious broadcast last Sunday. He confessed that in his view Mr. Alan Hart's interview with Mr. Brian Faulkner a week ago on "Panorama" was a mistake and that Mr. Hart had gone, as he said, "over the top". But Lord Hill, in his statement in response to the meeting he had with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, included a sentence in which he said that those who believe in censorship in television will also support censorship in newspapers. That is, clearly, not the case.

First, except for my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell), there is not one hon. Member on this side of the House who has advocated the censorship of what happens on "the box" in Ulster. Secondly, even if we had advocated censorship, it does not follow from that that we would also advocate the censorship of newspaper articles. Third, that sentence from Lord Hill makes no distinction between the effect of newspaper reporting, on the one hand, and the effect of television on the other, upon a situation or a crisis.

Those of us who have had cause to complain about the B.B.C. in particular in Northern Ireland have suggested that what should happen is that the instant interview of a soldier, gunman or passerby should be banned. We suggest that the instant interview should go because we feel that it is not a device used to find the truth, which is what some reporters will say in justification. It is not a device to find the truth. How could it be, in the circumstances of some emergency in the streets? It is a means to provide entertainment for the British public. If we wish to find the truth about an incident in the streets of Bog-side or Ballymurphy, it can be discovered by a newspaper or television journalist who is prepared to take his time, to look to his sources, and then, after a lapse of time, to come to a considered judgment. But to add to an Army patrol a camera, whether belonging to the B.B.C. or an independent television company, which is looking over its shoulder when it is in action is to place a burden upon the Army which goes far beyond the need to show the people in this country what is happening in Northern Ireland.

When one suggests that the instant interview should be dropped, many people in broadcasting—Lord Hill is no exception—immediately raise the cry that this is censorship, oblivious to the fact that earlier this year, at the request of Stormont and of the Home Office, the B.B.C. and the independent television companies themselves banned live coverage of intercommunal strife on the streets of Belfast. They banned it because of the politicians' suggestion to the broadcasting authorities that if they showed live television of a riot at the end of a street the inevitable consequence would be that people left their milky drinks or their Guinness, or whatever it was, and went out and joined in.

What is sad is that it was not the broadcasting authorities themselves that came to this very obvious conclusion, but that they had to be nudged into it by the politicians. All that some of us are trying to do is to persuade the television authorities to act in an equally responsible manner with regard to the instant interview in Northern Ireland, as they were prepared to act earlier this year to stop the live film coverage of inter-communal strife.

To claim that this is censorship reveals on the part of the B.B.C. no more than a feeling of being under siege. If the B.B.C. is under siege, it is because of several anxieties which we all have about certain aspects of its behaviour, whether it be sex, which Mrs. Mary Whitehouse has made her own, or triviality or violence or distortion or bias. There is any number of anxieties which many people feel about the condition of television.

The feeling that we have not altogether seen a fair picture of what is happening in Ulster must be seen in the context of the wider disenchantment which many of us have with the conduct of the B.B.C. itself.

If the B.B.C. is under fire in part because of its Ulster coverage, the other war which is being fought is not between the B.B.C. and its critics. The real war is being fought within the Corporation itself between the management of the B.B.C. and those of its producers, editors and performers who were licensed by Sir Hugh Carleton Greene to say precisely what they wished to say on any given issue.

It is the ambition of a journalist working at the B.B.C. to be able to express an opinion, in the same way as I as a journalist would be able to express an opinion in a newspaper. But there are vitally important differences. First, the B.B.C. is obliged by its charter to be fair and impartial and not to take an editorial view. Secondly, the B.B.C. enjoys a monopoly. For as long as it enjoys a monopoly, it becomes the responsibility of management within the Corporation to ensure that any desire on the part of the staff to editorialise is curbed.

I wish Lord Hill success in his attempts to reform and strengthen the management side of the B.B.C., but he must not be surprised if many of us on both sides of the House are prepared to express the anxieties that many of our constituents feel, not just about "the box" in generally, but more particularly, in terms of this debate, about the way in which Ulster has been treated.

I do not advocate that there should not be equal time for the Catholic and for the Protestant. Certainly there should be fair reporting as between the moderates of both sides. However, I do not think that there is any room in the coverage of the B.B.C. for fair reporting or equal shares, as it were, between the I.R.A. and the Army.

There is among my constituents at Aldershot, many of whom are soldiers' wives, tremendous anxiety at watching what they see every night on television, because they fear that their husbands might be involved, and anger at what they consider to be unfair reporting. As we are in the House most evenings until late at night it is difficult for us to watch all the television we would like. I am certain that sometimes it is six of one and half a dozen of the other, but the B.B.C. would be well advised, assuming that the anxieties that exist have some foundation, at least to go as far as to advise its staff in Ulster to ban the instant interview of the soldier on duty, just as. at the prompting of politicians, the B.B.C. banned live film coverage of intercommunal strife in the streets of Belfast, for the obvious reason that this served only to advertise what was happening.

6.44 p.m.

Captain L. P. S. Orr (Down, South)

The hon. Member for Islington, South West (Mr. George Cunningham) and the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) discussed at some length and with widely differing viewpoints the question of internment.

The hon. and learned Gentleman, having congratulated his leader upon his courage, thereupon himself showed considerable courage, because he put into words the feeling of what might be called the peaceable man-in-the-street in Ulster, and the feeling of the policeman's widow and others who had suffered from I.R.A. violence—the fact that they cannot understand how the House of Commons could be squeamish, to use the hon. and learned Gentleman's word, about the treatment of internees. However, I am somewhat between the hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. Member for Islington, South-West, in that I think that in a situation where violence and brutality are swamping humanity there is something to be said for keeping aloft the banner of humanity and keeping it high.

Thus my position on internment—I will not argue it at great length, because we had a debate upon it and no doubt the question will be argued again on Monday—is now very near to that of the leader in The Times today. The proper principle to be applied at present, as The Times put it at the end of that leader, is: In our view it is absolutely necessary to combat terrorism in Northern Ireland by imprisonment without trial. We do not believe that this harsh but necessary policy can be maintained with public support, unless the legal and administrative safeguards provided are rigorously adhered to. That is my own position on internment, and I should be very happy to see whatever change is made in that.

I agree entirely with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton that, whatever else happens, intelligence is vital in the battle. It is the key. It is the reason why the battle is now being won. If the gleaning of intelligence is relaxed in any way, one is moving to a position where the battle could be lost.

I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition is not now here, but I understand precisely the reason for it. I want to comment upon his remarkable speech. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that the right hon. Gentleman's speech was so well heralded that we had expected something disappointing, but we heard a massive speech from him this afternoon. The early part of the speech showed a remarkable grasp of the situation for the short period the right hon. Gentleman was there. I do not greatly dissent from his analysis of the situation.

One thing which the Leader of the Opposition may have under-rated, and which became apparent during the course of his proposals towards the end of his speech, was the long-standing historic desire of the Ulster Loyalist to remain British. This underlying desire, which the right hon. Gentleman has underestimated, makes the proposals he made at the end of his speech sound, to put it kindly, a shade idealistic. None the less, It is proper, in the spirit of conciliation, to say that whatever proposition is put forward in the present situation, when it is clearly put forward with sincerity and thought, will be considered as objectively as possible.

Perhaps the best service that I can render the House at this moment, as the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in a sense raised the issue, is once again to go back to the fundamental reasons why the Ulsterman believes in the Union and re-state them for the record.

Going no further back in history than the Downing Street Declaration, one would have thought that its first two clauses and the sixth were the end of the matter, that the agreement between the two parties on which the bipartisan policy was based, the principle that Northern Ireland shall not cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and so on, was sacrosanct because of the pledges of the two parties. But there has been a considerable movement from that position within the Labour Party. The Leader of the Opposition tonight reaffirmed the pledge, and he has stood by it. But there is a large section of his party which does not subscribe to that and has always been consistent about it. No one quarrels about that, but it has been joined recently by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), who was a member of the Government which was a party to that Declaration.

Therefore, it is necessary once again to underline the reasons why the majority in Northern Ireland, as my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Maginnis) has said, have in repeated elections decided that they wished to remain British. First, there is the long argument of history. I can understand the Leader of the Opposition's pleasure that people now talk about the Downing Street Declaration rather than the Battle of the Boyne. That is good, but people go back to the Downing Street Declaration because it is the up-to-date version of the constitution upon which the people of Northern Ireland depend. Anything that would look like a movement from that raises the most profound fear.

The reasons for the fear are not always recognised by people who would wish for a united Ireland as such. There is a tendency to look at geography rather than people, and that is a mistake in the case of Ireland. One looks at Ireland and sees an island surrounded by water, and therefore thinks that the people on it must be the same. They are not. We talk in Ulster about two communities. There are two communities, of widely different ethnic and historic origins.

I prefer to speak of the Loyalist in Ulster rather than the Protestant, because the religious division is not always precisely the same as the political division, although it is one of the tragedies of history that religion has become the badge of what is an ethnic, cultural and historic difference. There is the long tradition of being British. The Ulster Loyalist has been British as long as anyone in the House has been British in his ancestry. The idea of becoming anything but British is unthinkable, just as it would be unthinkable for any hon. Member suddenly to cease to call himself British. Any political solution based upon the concept that an Ulster Loyalist should cease to think of himself as British is unthinkable, and would be resisted literally to the death. Any political solution considered in those terms is doomed from the very beginning, though that does not mean that we should not honestly consider propositions put forward. That is the historic reason.

The second reason for the maintenance of the Union, which the Leader of the Opposition dismissed a trifle airily, is the fear of the Ulster Protestant of the clerical nature of society south of the Border. The right hon. Gentleman said that no doubt it would be possible as a result of talks and conferences to induce the authorities in the Irish Republic to remove the kind of influences which have prevented them from having modern legislation on contraception, divorce, censorship, health services and so on. But can anyone imagine the difficulties involved in making such changes? Can anyone imagine the problems in education? Can anyone imagine a situation in which the authorities in the Irish Republic could move to a system of education which would appeal in the very slightest to the Ulster Protestant?

I cannot put the fear in connection with education better than an article in Tribune, which is not one of my pet forms of reading. It said: There have been other glimpses, and now we have the latest example, the move towards comprehensives. Initially the reform was aimed at creating community schools by amalgamating local authority, denominational and other secondary institutions. Labour welcome the proposals, the hierarchy criticised them. Then began the closed discussions with interested parties that typifies Ireland. The result appears to be victory for the hierarchy. The reworked proposals now vest ownership of the schools in trustees, and a clear majority of the trustees are to be nominated by the bishops. That may very well be a system of education which suits the Republic of Ireland, but it immediately raises the kind of fear in the minds of people in Ulster that is almost ineradicable and would take years and years to bring to an end.

There are the economic reasons for the maintenance of the union, which I need not go into at great length. The best evidence I can give on them is simply to quote Mr. Sean MacBride, who has been a Minister in Eire and is leader of the Republican Party now. A report of a speech by him said: Before any ' real progress' could be made regarding 'partition' … they must face the reality that unless and until the established economic and social security conditions in Eire at least approximated those in Northern Ireland they could not hope to arouse the enthusiasm of even their own people in Northern Ireland for the ending of 'partition'. … The old-age pensioner in Eire got 12s. 6d. a week at the age of 70 when he or she became completely destitute, whereas under the new social scheme in Northern Ireland a man got 26s. a week at the age of 65 and a woman at the age of 60. … The marriage rate of Northern Ireland was higher than Eire's, the birth rate over the past ten years was also higher, while on the other hand the death rate in the South was higher than in Northern Ireland. Their tuberculosis mortality and infantile mortality rates were higher than in Northern Ireland, yet it was the same climate, people, and soil. In Northern Ireland 257 persons were supported per square mile, whereas they were only supporting 112 persons per square mile. Those are not my words. It is almost unnecessary to quote figures to show the difference in the economic base and to illustrate the economic argument for the Union. It is there. It is indisputable.

In recent times another argument for the maintenance of the union with Great Britain has been added; namely, the instability now prevailing in the Irish Republic. Again I use but one quotation, this time from Mr. Cosgrave, the Leader of the Opposition in the Dail. This is what he said on 29th October last: I have good grounds for believing that we in the Republic have now come perilously close to political anarchy and chaos. The illegal armies have become so active, their drilling and other activities so notorious up and down the country, that the one lawful army of the State appears to have been upstaged by them. That does not present a very attractive proposition. I do not believe that anyone fully realises the state of instability prevailing now in Ireland, North and South. One is apt to say, "If only Mr. Lynch's Government would do this or that …". The plain fact, which everyone can see, is that Mr. Lynch's Government cannot do this or that. Violence in Irish life has long been a fact of history. It has always been near the surface. The violent solution all through history—and recent his- tory at that—has always been a solution to be seized upon. We are coming back to that situation in the whole island.

For that reason, anyone of any responsibility must seek, between men of good will, men who believe in civilised methods rather than methods of violence, to see whether there is any common ground. In fact, there is a good deal of common ground. One of the great services which the Leader of the Opposition did, and did with great courage—I accept what the hon. and learned Member for Northampton said—was to point to the fact that in this House of Commons there is considerable unity of approach. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State said, we have a tremendous amount of common ground.

There is still a bipartisan policy. This ought to be retained, if at all possible, for nothing would be worse for Ireland, North and South, than if it were to become the plaything of party-political activity in this country, nothing would be worse for the British political system, and nothing would lead to more trouble. Therefore, all people of good will should try to retain that bipartisan approach if they can.

When one is talking in terms of what should be done about the relationship of Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom, about its relationship to the Irish Republic, and about the relationship of the Irish Republic to this country, it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that we are talking about separate sovereign States. We are not. This is not altogether appreciated by everyone. The great realities of power in the British islands, power over the conduct of foreign affairs, power over defence, power over broad economic policies, and monetary power, all reside here. The Irish Republic, with respect to the main instruments of policies and power, is in no sense an independent country. It is doubtful that the Parliament of the Irish Republic has much more power—indeed, it has probably less—than the Parliament at Stormont. It is probable that the citizens of the Irish Republic at present have less control over their economic welfare than do the citizens of Northern Ireland.

The citizens of Northern Ireland are represented in this House, and they have some say in whether, for example, it would be right to reflate the economy. The citizens of the Irish Republic have no say in these matters because the policy is determined here. I take, for example, the question of entry into the Common Market. We who represent Northern Ireland here are able to express our constituents' view on the subject. The United Kingdom, rightly or wrongly, decides that it will join the E.E.C. What happens to the Irish Republic? It has no option. It must make application at the same time, and it must go in with the United Kingdom—or stay out with the United Kingdom, as the case might be.

We are not, therefore, talking about relationships between sovereign States. Essentially, we are talking about what form local self-government will take in Ireland, in a part of the British islands. I still think in terms of the old Union of the British Islands. In my view, by far the best hope for the future is the hope that within the context of the Common Market, within the context of the reform of local government in this country, and in the light, say, of the Royal Commission on the Constitution and what may follow from that, there may be more realistic thinking by sensible people South of the Border, and help and understanding North of it, towards a reconstitution of the old Union of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

I believe that that is more hopeful in the long term than is the view put forward by the Leader of the Opposition today. I thought he was thinking in slightly more separatist terms. He confined himself to talking about a return of the Irish Republic to the Commonwealth. It should be remembered that the Irish Republic was a member of the Commonwealth even during the war, when, again, the separatism was clear and the Irish Republic was neutral while the rest of the Commonwealth was involved in the struggle against Hitler. So that is not in itself sufficient to bring about the kind of unity of hearts and good sense that one wants to see.

I agree with what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition and by other right hon. and hon. Members, that before one can even begin to think in wide and deep terms of that sort one must bring violence, murder and terror to an end.

First, the gun must be taken out of the situation, and then, and only then, can we seek to re-establish confidence between the two communities in Northern Ireland. Such confidence will never be restored while terror goes on. There is a certain chicken and egg argument about this. Some say that confidence will be restored only when the gun is removed, which is my view, while others take the contrary opinion. I agree very strongly with the Leader of the Opposition about this and I thought he was courageous to say so.

It it vital that people should be able to sleep secure in their beds and know that if they support the forces of law and the institutions of the State they will be free from terror, intimidation and murder. Only when that happens can we talk about the restoration of good will between one community and another. Only in those circumstances can feelings of charity and good will, which we all want to see, come to the fore.

I can say on behalf of my colleagues from Ulster that despite what I have said we will seriously consider everything the Leader of the Opposition said. We will endeavour to do so in a spirit of reconciliation and objectivity. If on Monday my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) and some of my other hon. Friends catch Mr. Speaker's eye they will deal with these matters after more mature consideration.

In the meantime, I warmly welcome the broad consensus in the House that terror must be brought to an end at all costs and that peace must prevail before peacetime reconstruction can begin.

7.12 p.m.

Mr. J. D. Concannon (Mansfield)

Although not an expert on Irish matters, I am pleased to take part in the debate because I accept that over the years we have tended to sit back while all was quiet in Northern Ireland, to forget the past and to hope that all would remain quiet. Only because of recent events are many of us now taking a professional interest in that part of these islands.

Worry has been expressed about the television and radio coverage of events in Northern Ireland. I have no fear of the cameras looking over the shoulders of our troops. Indeed, the record of the British Army is all the better because what our troops there have had to face has been seen, usually on the day it has happened, in this country. Many mothers and fathers of soldiers in Northern Ireland have been reassured by these pictures and reports.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who has apologised for not remaining in his place during the debate, spoke of the Compton Report. I detected a flaw in his argument, and I speak as one who served in Palestine with the British Army right up to the end of the Mandate. My hon. and learned Friend is anxious that we do not go down the slippery slope of committing even worse atrocities. I agree with him, but I am anxious also to protect our troops.

I do not want us to follow the pattern that occurred in Palestine. Towards the end of the battle both sides were sending out what can only be described as execution squads. I want to be sure that the slippery slope is not followed. It may be hoods today. Will it be torture tomorrow?

Because I am not an expert on Irish affairs, I intend to comment only on the rôle of our troops there, because I fear that we have, in effect, already lost a major battle. I have no doubt that the British Army will beat the I.R.A.—indeed, we are winning now—but only if it is a lasting victory will it have any meaning. It will have been in vain if the I.R.A. goes underground only to emerge at a future date.

We must begin winning back the people of Northern Ireland. In this urban guerrilla type of warfare the I.R.A. can flourish only if it has the backing of the local people. I regret to say that what has seemed to happen is that the British Army is no longer under the control of Parliament—

Lord Balniel


Mr. Concannon

I expected the Minister to disagree with me, and I deliberately prefaced my last remark by saying that it had seemed to happen, not that it had happened.

Lord Balniel

Let me make it profoundly clear that what the hon. Gentleman said is not so. The British Army is firmly under the control of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and myself as Minister of State.

Mr. Concannon

I am only expressing what I know to be the feeling among many people in Northern Ireland, and unfortunately it is also felt by some of our troops.

On the question of internment, I disagree with many of my hon. Friends. I am not necessarily against it. How could I be with my background? There have been times when, because law and order has broken down in various parts of the world, internment has been absolutely necessary. If, during my Army career, I had gone out and brought someone in and had been told the following morning that he had been released without being charged, I, too, would have felt aggrieved. It is particularly morale sapping for troops to bring in a number of people whom they think should be interned and to find that half of them are released almost immediately.

It seemed—I stress that this has only seemed to be the case—that this aspect of the campaign was not under the direct control of the Home Secretary. It should have been made clear that when people were brought in, the files on them would be examined in such a way that the British Home Secretary would determine whether or not they were released.

Unfortunately, the internment policy has not worked because for every I.R.A. murderer, gunman or bomber interned, another ten have taken his place outside. Ten have been recruited for every one caught in the net, and this has resulted in more shooting of British soldiers and civilians.

The House at times has given the British Army difficult and disagreeable tasks. We have only to look at Palestine, Cyprus, Malaya, Kenya and Korea. But what we are asking our troops to do in Northern Ireland is one of the most difficult and disagreeable tasks the British Army has ever had to perform, and the Army is performing it as no other Army in the world could perform it.

I wonder whether we are doing the troops a great service by stressing that their morale is always sky high. Unfortunately, it is not; it is ebbing to a great extent, and I say this with great regret, but any other Army in the world under similar pressure would have disintegrated by now.

There must be a fresh direction to our policy in Northern Ireland. I hope that the Government will carefully consider my right hon. Friend's speech and make a fresh start. This will be a long haul and there will be still much heartache. There can be no quick solution. What is required is a change of direction. I do not say this with any malice, but historically the Tory Party does not have the same opportunities for doing certain things as the Labour Party has in Government.

I hope that my Leader's remarkable speech, in which he showed great perception, will give a ray of hope to the people of Northern Ireland, and that our bipartisan policy will continue, especially while British troops are still in Northern Ireland, so that we can give them the full backing which they deserve.

7.22 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Tugendhat (Cities of London and Westminster)

The party to which I have the honour to belong is known as the Conservative and Unionist Party. The word "Unionist" signifies the traditional devotion of the party to the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I hope that the crisis through which we have been passing will lead us to think of a new meaning for "Unionist" which will signify our desire that British standards and equal standards should apply in this country and in Northern Ireland.

We must all know in our hearts that over many centuries of British rule Ireland has not been treated equally with this country. The people of Ireland have not enjoyed the same rights and privileges as the people of this country and, in particular, those of the Roman Catholic faith have been discriminated against for many hundreds of years. But this is not a time for recrimination.

In the last two years important reforms have been introduced by Lord O'Neill, Lord Moyola and Mr. Brian Faulkner. One can safely say that if the reforms of the last two years had been introduced earlier with the full-hearted support of the Protestant population we should not be in the mess we are in today. Although it is not a time for recrimination, one must look at the history of Ireland to get an understanding of the type of solution that is likely to be enduring, to bring peace to the island and to prevent a recurrence of the problems which have occurred each decade since the Government of Ireland Act and many times before that.

The most important feature of the Irish situation is that, as a result of their unhappy experiences, a feeling has grown up amongst the people that the Government and the forces of law and order when they are connected with this country are not to be trusted. There is the feeling that the Government are there to maintain supremacy, and that the police are there to maintain the supremacy of the Government.

There have been important reforms in the last few years and the reasons for the suspicions of the Catholic population have been met, but one cannot expect the suspicions of many hundreds of years to disappear as the result of two years' legislation. There is a feeling amongst the Catholic population that the Government and the forces of law and order, including the British Army, exist to maintain the position of Protestant supremacy. It is this which has led to the continuation of the supremacy and the illegal organisations over so many years, the feeling among the Catholic minority partly of injustice and partly of vulnerability, and the feeling that when troubles occur there is nobody to protect them. At first they thought that the British Army would do so, but the suspicions of ages reasserted themselves once the terrorist campaign began.

At the same time, we must recognise the sad and difficult position of the Protestant community in Northern Ireland. They, too, feel themselves to be a minority, as the Leader of the Opposition said. They, too, feel themselves to be embattled, and they, too, are constantly afraid that they will be let down and become a minority in a hostile country. Their feelings of insecurity and their suspicions about the aims and ambitions of others have been enhanced by the fact that they enjoyed the protection of a permanent Government over many years, and tended to regard certain of the forces of law and order as being designed primarily to maintain the position, rather than in the light in which we think of the police force here.

I have made this brief excursion into what I believe to be the causes of the suspicions of the two communities in Northern Ireland because it is important to look at the past if one is to have a clear idea on how the future should develop. We must recognise that Northern Ireland's history—particularly since we are responsible for it now—suggests that we cannot look at Northern Ireland merely as an extension of this country or as an extension of the Republic of Ireland. If our object is to bring British standards, justice, equality and fair treatment to the people of that country, and to maintain them, different representative institutions, and different mechanisms and procedures for implementing law and order, may well be necessary. As a result of its history, Northern Ireland is different from this country. Our ambition must certainly be the maintenance of and adherence to a universal British set of standards. This does not necessarily mean that the institutions which are applicable in this country would be applicable in Northern Ireland, with its unique history and problems.

I do not believe that this is the time for a back bencher to put forward detailed proposals for settling the dispute. For one thing, he does not have the information to enable him to do so, and, for another, it is hardly the place of a back bencher to put forward ideas that he can have no possible means of implementing. I do, however, feel that one can from the back benches make certain suggestions about the principles on which a settlement should be founded.

The first of these is clear. The Roman Catholic minority must be guaranteed a stake, a voice, an interest, in the Government of the Province. The history of this minority means, as the Northern Ireland Green Paper admitted, that the Catholic minority can never hope in the normal course of events to share in the Government. Special provision should, therefore, be made to ensure that the Roman Catholic population have a voice and a share in the Government of the Province.

It is essential to devise a system of maintaining law and order in the long term in which the Roman Catholic population can feel an enduring interest and in which it has a stake. This may well mean that we shall have to adjust our- selves to different ideas for the organisation of the police force from those we have become accustomed in this country. It may mean that the idea of a single police force or a provincial police force may not be appropriate. I do not think, however, that this is the time for backbenchers to put forward detailed proposals. Just as it is necessary for the Roman Catholic population to have a voice in the Government, so it is necessary to ensure that they never again feel the vulnerability which they have felt in times of trouble and which has proved such a source of strength to the I.R.A. They must be given confidence in the forces of law and order.

The third principle on which we must base our thinking is that this Parliament and this Government cannot allow themselves to stand aside, like Pontius Pilate, from the affairs of Northern Ireland. We must admit that this House and our Government have tended to do that over the years of British rule in Ireland. Even in the short time that I have been in this House I have been appalled by the fact that when the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) was in prison soon after I arrived here extraordinary difficulties arose when hon. Members wanted to ask Questions on the subject.

My hon. Friends in the Ulster Unionist Party maintain, and I support their right to do so, that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and, as the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Capt. Orr) said, they feel themselves to be British. That is their right, and I support it. If they feel themselves to be British then this House should have the same rights in Northern Ireland to make inquiries of the kind I have mentioned, the same rights as it has in Scotland and Wales. Westminster cannot allow itself to be separated from Northern Ireland affairs in the way it has done in the past.

Any arrangement made for bringing about a new system in Northern Ireland—a new relationship between Northern Ireland and this country—must always be based on the principle that Northern Ireland will remain a part of this country for as long as the majority of its people wish.

Equally, the system must have provision for a united Ireland, should the people of Northern Ireland wish to take that route. When the Government of Ireland Act was passed after the First World War it was expected, both in London and in Dublin, that this would be a temporary Measure. It was believed that when the Six Counties were established as a separate unit this would be the first step towards a united Ireland. Hon. Members who have studied this will know that the machinery existed in embryo in the Council of Ireland and in other ways. It was the belief of the British Government as much as the Irish Government that Northern Ireland would not remain separate for all time and it was not expected that the Government of Ireland Act would become Holy writ. It is right that Northern Ireland should remain a part of the United Kingdom for as long as its people wish, but it is also right that there should be provision in the constitutional relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, likewise between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, for a united Ireland should the people of the South as well as the North wish to be united.

Any progress we make in Northern Ireland must hinge and depend on the success of the troops in fighting the terrorists. If they are not successful, anarchy will result, not only in Northern Ireland but throughout the whole of Ireland. There are no simple solutions. It is absurd to suggest, as some hon. Members have, that we can simply withdraw our troops and leave the parties to settle their own affairs. That would bring about bloodshed that might—as the Leader of the Opposition said today—make even St. Bartholomew's Eve look like a dress rehearsal. There is no simple solution to be found by saying that we can hand over Northern Ireland to the Republic. Sensible people of all parties in Dublin recognise this. It is also recognised in Northern Ireland and in this House by virtually everyone. No political initiative can succeed unless there is success against the terrorists. Military success will not be worth fighting for, the troops will have died in vain, if that success is not accompanied by political initiatives. These must be designed to preserve a just society based on British principles, but taking account of Irish realities.

Some hon. Gentlemen have suggested that there are lessons to be learned from Northern Ireland for this country; that what is happening in Northern Ireland could happen in the Midlands and in great cities throughout the country where we have an immigrant population. They are quite right. The lesson of Northern Ireland is that where a minority of the population is treated unjustly and becomes alienated from the Government and the police, anarchy can result. The lesson should be that never again should territory under our rule and for which we are responsible have within it such conditions as bring about a situation in which evil can flourish in the way it has flourished in Northern Ireland. If we learn that lesson we shall have learned something from all the tragedy and sorrow of the situation, and something will have been gained.

7.38 p.m.

Mr. John D. Grant (Islington, East)

I endorse the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat). I shall not follow him in trying to dissect the problems, nor will I set out a 15-point plan, much as I admire the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition in so doing. I address myself to one particular aspect of the Northern Ireland situation, namely censorship. This was referred to by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) earlier in the debate.

It is clear that we are not only involved in fighting a war in Northern Ireland; we are also involved in a propaganda war—a war for men's minds. In these circumstances it is not surprising that some voices have been raised suggesting that any reporting of events and, even more serious, of points of view which may appear to give some comfort to the terrorists in Northern Ireland should not be permitted. I share the view already expressed that that is starting on the slippery slope. It is akin to the problem of physical interrogation leading to torture.

Many of us on this side of the House feel that there is a very narrow dividing line. The application of censorship can lead to a situation in which the real victim is the truth. In that situation doubts and suspicions are created, fears are heightened, and rumour abounds. When it is suggested that reporters should not talk to the troops, to say nothing of the I.R.A., we are indeed on that slippery slope. It is good to know that these voices are not coming from the Army itself.

There will of course be errors of judgment by journalists concerned in on-the-spot reporting of a situation such as this. I have no time for the "T.V. bullies", the interviewers who sometimes seem less anxious to probe for the truth than to create good T.V. These people are not usually to be found in the ranks of the front-line reporters. They are the glamour boys, the prima donnas of the T.V. studios.

According to reports of a meeting of the Television and Radio Journalists held in London this week there is at least a form of unofficial censorship going on within the B.B.C. and I.T.V. over the reporting on Ulster. One reporter is quoted as saying: People now go for the safest angle"— he means journalists reporting the scene— they talk to the police and the army but, because they no longer talk to the Catholics, they do not understand what the Catholics are thinking. If that is the case—and it appears to be so—it is a very sad and serious situation. I refer to The Times of last Thursday which said: It has to be remembered that the Press has a duty to report all sides of every case. The Press has to report the I.R.A. for the same reason it had to report the pre-war Nazi Government of Germany because without such reporting the situation cannot be understood. Despite individual and inevitable errors, some of which have infuriated the Catholic minority, just as others have infuriated the Protestant majority, Press and television have been giving an account of the whole situation and so in particular has the B.B.C. I am sure The Times was correct when it went on to say that censorship was not only offensive in a mature democracy but also counter-productive, as I believe internment has proved to be. But that is another issue. Censorship would mean that no assessment was free from the taint of suspicion of Government supervision, and it would undermine confidence. I am among those Members of the House who favour the establishment of a broadcasting council because I see it as a body to deal with legitimate com- plaints, not only from viewers but also from within the television media. I would certainly oppose any such body if I thought it would turn into an arm of censorship.

This dispute over the reporting of events in Ulster has, if anything, underlined the need for a body of this kind which can operate freely and impartially, and I would say free from the backstairs pressures to which it seems broadcasters in this respect have been subject and which may well constitute a subtle form of censorship.

I trust that when the Home Secretary deals with these matters on Monday he will underline firmly and unequivocally the Government's complete rejection of censorship, whether it occurs in dictatorships such as South America and Rhodesia, Greece, Spain and in the Eastern European countries, or in any form in the United Kingdom.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)

There are three basic problems—to beat the gunman, to command public support for the measures necessary to do so, and to find an ultimate political solution. The heartening feature of the debate so far is, as one would expect, that in speeches from both sides there is reflected the absolute determination of those who have spoken, and of those on whose behalf they have spoken throughout our country, to ensure that however long and grim the struggle may be, the gunman will be defeated. If we do nothing else in this debate but send that message to Northern Ireland, we shall have played a useful rôle in the tragic crisis in that Province.

The rôle of the Army in all this has been magnificent, and it remains absolutely crucial. There is no need for me to add to the great tributes which have deservedly been paid from both sides to the Army.

Earlier today I read an editorial from the regimental magazine of a regiment which has just been transferred from Northern Ireland back to Germany. I thought I would read an extract to the House. I understand that it is written by the commanding officer. It says: The precious gift of law and order, hard won after many centuries of troubles in England and Scotland and Wales, has never been fully achieved in Ireland. There may be many more months of strife in this unhappy island before some of the inhabitants are converted from their mediaeval attitudes of mind and begin thinking in terms of this century. However, the British Army with its discipline and restraint has been a most powerful and civilising influence. We are glad to have been called and we will return to Ireland again and again until the job is done. We have all had first-hand experience of how a few evil and bigoted men can bring terror and foster deep hatreds among people who are individually charming, generous to an extreme and loyal to their friends. We will watch the extermination of the I.R.A. in the next few years from our stations in Germany where the last generation of British soldiers carried out the same civilising process when fighting the Nazis a quarter of a century ago. That extract expresses very well the attitude of the Army in the rôle which it has to play and which it has done so supremely well.

We have to ensure that it has sufficient men to carry out this work. The whole country was shocked by the tarring and feathering a few weeks ago of those poor girls. Apart from the appalling personal humiliation of the girls, for which we felt so deeply, what horrified me was that it was possible, in a part of the United Kingdom, for a large crowd to gather for a considerable time and to behave in that way without interruption from the Army or police.

I understand that the Army has to concentrate in particular areas at certain times and cannot be everywhere at once. The fact is that at the moment there are not sufficient troops there to carry out the necessary tasks. We all hope that the Minister of State is right when he said that there were indications that the Army was getting on top of the I.R.A. He was careful not to put a time scale on this. We have to accept that it will be a grim and long struggle and that, to vary a famous phrase, we may have to think in terms of years rather than months.

If the Army finds that it has not enough men—and we already have 14 of our 45 battalions in Northern Ireland—more men will have to be found from elsewhere. We must demonstrate our absolute determination to ensure that the Queen's Writ runs in every part of Northern Ireland. We must make it absolutely clear to all concerned that, if necessary, we shall not hesitate to call up the Territorials, if more men are needed and cannot be found in the Regular Army.

We must also make it clear that, if necessary, we shall call up enough men to be able to close the Border really effectively between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. The whole history of guerrilla warfare in every country is that it is extremely difficult to defeat guerrillas if they have an open frontier over which they can retreat and be re-equipped. I do not believe that the battle against the I.R.A. will be decisively won until effective control of the Border has been established.

The second part of the battle, and in some ways the most important part, is the commanding of public support for the necessary measures. The I.R.A. recognises clearly the value of public support. It lays great emphasis on its public relations and propaganda. We must do the same. I do not subscribe to the view that there should be any censorship of what goes on in Northern Ireland. Though there is much talk about censorship I have never met anybody on this side of the House who believes it should be introduced. It appears to be largely an imaginary suggestion that there should be censorship. It is, however, important that the media should exercise patriotism and good judgment in reporting accurately and truthfully what is happening in Northern Ireland.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications put the point very well in a speech over the weekend by saying that there can be no impartiality between our soldiers and the gunman. I was glad to see that on the following day Lord Hill, in a statement defending the B.B.C., picked up that sentence and reproduced it almost identically. I believe that that sentence went to the root of the matter. If the B.B.C. at all times recognises that there can be no impartiality between the gunmen and the forces of law and order, then it will not be open to criticism.

The media can report only what is said to them. Those who hold moderate views have a duty to see that their views are constructively expressed. Some times I feel that insufficient attention is given to the presentation of discussions of Northern Ireland. Often when people talk about Northern Ireland they fall into a strange form of foreign patois. The fact that Westminster in the past has not been so closely involved with Northern Ireland as it should have been makes it more difficult to explain to public opinion at home that Ulster is in no sense a foreign country but an integral part of the United Kingdom.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in answer to Questions on Tuesday, truly said that he had had conversations with the Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland and Eire. To the ordinary man in the street such words automaticaly creates an atmosphere in which Northern Ireland is felt to be a less integral part of the United Kingdom than it really is. The constitutional position of Northern Ireland could be usefully examined with a view to underling the fact that Westminster is the sovereign authority.

Another small example of the wrong approach to this matter was the decision to award the General Service Medal to our troops serving in Northern Ireland. Nobody suggests that the troops do not deserve recognition, but it was a psych-logical and political mistake to award to our troops in Northern Ireland the same medal as was given to our troops who served in so many colonial campaigns. It would surely have been better to have issued a special Queen's Medal, or whatever one likes to call it, particularly related to Northern Ireland, which in no way could be identified with overseas colonial struggles. We must always remember that this is an outbreak of violence in a part of the United Kingdom.

I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat) in saying that it is not the duty of a backbench Member to put forward detailed constitutional solutions. I intended to make a number of such suggestions but, having listened to the Leader of the Opposition's constructive speech earlier today, and having noted the bipartisan tone of the debate, I have decided not to put them forward now. They are not as detailed as those put forward by the Leader of the Opposition, and since some of them coincide fairly fairly closely with some of his suggestions and others do not. I see no advantage in introducing a possible note of controversy into these discussions.

We should, perhaps, take heart from the fact that when de Tocqueville wrote about the origins of revolutions, he pointed out that violence frequently breaks out not at the time when there is the greatest repression and injustice under a bad Government, but precisely at the moment when reforms are being introduced by a moderate and good Government. Ulster in recent years has been a classic example of this. Lord O'Neill has proved to be the Mirabeau of the Ulster situation. Unfortunately, a large number of people seem anxious to play the role of Robespierre. However, the British people are good at dealing with Robespierres. If we can build on the reforms of the last few years, which have already gone a considerable way towards abolishing the undoubted part injustices suffered by the minority religious group in Ulster, then, having smashed the I.R.A., I believe there may be a happier future for Northern Ireland than seems possible at present.

7.58 p.m.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

I feel as deeply perplexed about this subject as most hon. Members of the House, and certainly as most members of the public. I find no easy answers on Northern Ireland. I confess my personal knowledge of the situation to be limited. I see the various items on television, I read the newspaper reports and I hear reports on the situation from those whom I trust in this House. There seems to be no obvious solution which puts itself forward as more meritorious than any other.

I listened with deep interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition today, and I hoped that the new initiative of which he spoke might be the way to break through the cloud of ignorance and bigotry which has so long bedevilled that island. But, in view of the history of the matter, nobody can be hopeful of even achieving the comprehensive suggestions put forward by my right hon. Friend.

I wish to raise certain points in connection with the debate last week on the Compton Report. Because of the nature of that report, one crucial issue connected with Ireland, was lost sight of, and it is with that that I wish to deal. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham) and I have raised this matter as a point of principle in our own party, on the Floor of the House, in Parliamentary Questions and in a Motion on the Order Paper which has now attracted 90 signatures.

What we are saying is not a criticism of the British Forces in Northern Island, nor is it a criticism of the Irish situation as such. It is a criticism of the authorised methods of interrogation as disclosed in the Compton Report. We do not consider in our criticisms any of the allegations of ill-treatment or brutality made by any of the complaints mentioned in the Compton Report. We take and accept the explanations made by the security forces about those allegations. I am prepared to accept what the Compton Report says about those individual allegations.

What disturbs me is that the memorandum put in by the Ministry of Defence about methods of interrogation discloses an alarming situation, which apparently has been accepted by the authorities. Here there is no question of a conflict of testimony between gunmen and the security forces. This criticism is based simply upon the memorandum which was put in to the Compton Committee by the Ministry of Defence. The memorandum, which was accepted by the Compton Committee, disclosed as part of the authorised procedure that when men were interrogated they were stood against a wall for up to six hours at a time and for totals which in one case amounted to 43½ hours. It disclosed that they had hoods placed over their heads and that they were subjected to a noise machine which was described by the Compton Committee as … a continuous hissing noise, or electronic 'mush', loud enough to mask extraneous sounds and prevent effective oral communication between detainees. It disclosed that their posture at the wall was such as to place them with their legs apart and their hands on the wall. It disclosed that their food and drink was supplied by quantities of bread and water at widely spaced intervals.

When I read that in cold print I was horrified. I did not believe that our methods of interrogation ever reached that kind of uncivilised standard. I have heard the explanation of the Home Secretary, of the Minister of State for Defence and of other Government spokesmen that this is an authorised procedure which dates back to Aden and is in accordance with rules which were first put forward by the Labour Government in 1965 and subsequently amended.

When I look at those rules, I find no suggestion about the methods of interrogation. They set out general principles about a negative attitude towards violence, brutality and ill-treatment. But the methods which are to be used by the security services in interrogation are not set out at all.

Reference has been made by the Minister of State for Defence to the Bowen Report as if that in some way gave a clearance for these kinds of methods. I have looked through that report closely, and it contains no suggestion that these methods of interrogation were used. What is said in the Bowen Report is that there were allegations of physical ill-treatment—namely, beating, bruising, and so on—that these were investigated by Mr. Bowen, and that he accepted some while rejecting others. But there is no suggestion that the authorised methods of interrogation were at fault; still less is there any description of what the authorised methods of interrogation amounted to.

Now that they have been disclosed, there must be a careful appraisal of what methods of interrogation should be allowed in our society, and they should be vetted openly by this House. I am not content that "three wise men", however distinguished and learned, should pass judgment about this, and that in some vicarious way that should be considered my judgment upon the matter. This is a matter which goes to the root of what one accepts as civilised behaviour in our society, and it has to be decided by this House.

Before interrogation methods of this kind can be tolerated further, the Government have to come to this House with a set of regulations or a Motion which affirms that these methods are tolerable, that this House has to vote on it, and that a majority has to accept it. In my view, it would be intolerable if a majority of this House were to say that these methods were justifiable whatever the result.

I have put down a Parliamentary Question for next Monday asking how much information, how much ammunition, how many arms, and how much explosive were recovered as a result of the interrogation of the 14 men who were subjected to methods of this kind in Northern Ireland. I ask it in that way in order that the information should not be traced back to the men, so that they are not endangered in any way. I want to know simply the total amounts of arms and ammunition, which were recovered. I am prepared to accept that a substantial amount was recovered. But, even if it was, and even if thereby there were a reduction in the amount of slaughter that has been taking place in Northern Ireland, I could not accept that that was sufficient to justify these methods of interrogation being used.

One hon. Member put it to me at one stage that if by torturing one U-boat captain one can save the lives of all the men in an aircraft carrier, one is thereby justified in torturing the U-boat captain. But how far is one to go? If the U-boat captain will not yield up this vital information when a hood is put over his head, when his arms are outstretched against the wall and he has to lean against it, when he is subjected to a noise machine which emits an electronic "mush", and when he is fed on bread and water at intervals of six hours, is not the implication of the argument that one can step up the methods of interrogation until the required information is obtained?

If necessity knows no law, if it does not know the law of mitigated methods of interrogation, it means that we can apply some electronic device to a detainee's genitals, as was done by the Richardson gang, and find the information that we require in that way. We must say at some stage that to use these methods of force to extract information is not tolerable whatever the degree of provocation. To allow any other judgment upon the matter seems to be giving in to the kind of provocation which has been exerted by the I.R.A.

The I.R.A. says that it will use any methods of violence to get its own way. If we resort to methods of violence against detainees which would be unacceptable to the ordinary police force in this country in carrying out their duties, we, too, will be using methods of violence which normally we should deplore, and we shall slip back from civilised standards. The I.R.A. will have won. It will not have won in the way that it intends, but it will have won in debasing our standards of civilised behaviour. I cannot accept that as a necessary concomitant of fighting the I.R.A. and winning the battle.

I go further. I say that even if the methods of interrogation were to yield the required information, still I would not accept them. However, I do not think that it is necessary to have such methods in order to yield this kind of information.

A moment ago I mentioned the activities of the Richardson gang. There can be no worse example of the criminal ill-treatment of human beings than that which came out in the evidence in the course of the trial of the gang at the Old Bailey. These men subsequently were convicted. They were convicted partly out of the mouths of witnesses who were prepared to give evidence against them. They were convicted partly out of their own mouths. Their own evidence was obtained by methods which have been hallowed over the years as normal police methods of interrogation. In the course of my life at the Bar I have seen and dealt with vicious and violent men who have no regard for human life or human sensibility. I have seen the police methods of interrogating that kind of man.

I do not believe that anybody in the I.R.A. is worse than some of the men I have seen in the criminal courts, but the police do not resort to these methods of interrogation to get information, and if they did there would be an immediate outcry in this House. Indeed, this is the most serious aspect of the matter, because if any suggestion is made in a criminal court that the police have exceeded the normal methods of interrogation and used force, such allegations are nearly always—in fact, in my experience, always—denied by the police. They may later be accepted by the jury, but they are denied by the police, because the police know the limits of interrogation and refuse to admit that they have gone beyond them.

Sometimes a policeman takes the law into his own hands because he wants to get evidence against a person whom he believes is guilty, and he goes beyond the accepted code, but if that is proved he is condemned. He is therefore careful about what he does, and the general totality of policemen do not go beyond the accepted limits of interrogation.

What we are saying in this report is that these methods of interrogation are not outside the accepted code, that they are what we, in the name of the British people, have authorised our interrogators to carry out; and that I cannot accept. It may be that sometimes in the course of interrogation some security men go beyond the limits of accepted methods of interrogation. I should condemn that, too, but I can understand that that kind of assiduous dedication to getting information might take place.

But for us to hallow it, for us to write it into the rules, for us to say that this is acceptable by standards of decent behaviour, seems to be so shocking that I was surprised that there was not an open revolt in the House when this report came out, and I was surprised that it did not come out openly during the debate last week. I hope and believe that when the report of the "three wise men" is produced to the House there will be a debate upon it which will show a depth of feeling which will make these methods of interrogation impossible in the future.

8.12 p.m.

Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)

I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) and I should like to deal with some of the points he made. Perhaps he will allow me to do so during my speech, because I intended to deal with some of the matters which he raised.

My hon. Friend the Member for Horn-castle (Mr. Tapsell) felt that the number of Army units in Northern Ireland could be increased. I should like to draw his attention to a reply which I received today from the Minister of State when I asked what arrangements were being made for the protection of police stations in Northern Ireland. He said: The Army … will guard as many stations as the operational situation and the Regular and U.D.R. manpower available in Northern Ireland permit. There has been an increase recently in the number of stations at which full-time or part-time guards are provided: this number was 76 in all at 19th November, compared with 61 in October. There are only 150 stations, and these have been made the object of deliberate attacks by terrorists as part of their campaign. It is disgraceful that the Army cannot provide enough men to protect another 40 or 50 stations at which policemen are stationed, sometimes with their wives and children, which are being deliberately attacked. The Army should protect these courageous men who are serving and protecting people in Northern Ireland. I agree with my hon. Friend. There should be sufficient troops in Northern Ireland to protect the 50 or 60 police barracks which are not now protected.

I do not intend in any way to criticise the Army itself, or the soldiers. No words can express the gratitude of the people in Northern Ireland for the work done by the troops. I have seen them on duty for 16 and 18 hours out of 24, and in all conditions. Even tonight, with the weather conditions as they are, soldiers are out on the streets in Northern Ireland, liable to be shot at by snipers hiding on the roofs of houses. The sniper cowardly waits until a small patrol passes below him and then picks off the last man. Because it is dark, it is impossible for the rest of the patrol to discover where the shot came from, or to root out the sniper.

These terrorists—and this answers the point made by the hon. Member for York—are vile and vicious in the extreme. With them it is a case of no holds barred. They will kill their own people. They have tied up, tarred and feathered and shot the legs from under a man because they suspected that he had been talking to the police. They have tarred and feathered young girls. Within 100 yards of my own house they blew up an electricity headquarters. They have killed and horribly maimed innocent girls.

They are not like the men in the aircraft carrier to which the hon. Gentleman referred. The people who have been killed in Northern Ireland were not at war. They were ordinary civilians going about their ordinary, everyday business. The terrorists came in, put a bomb under the staircase, and then telephoned the office to say that a bomb would go off in five minutes and everbody should be cleared out of the building before then. In fact, the bomb went off 30 seconds later, before anybody had time to get further than the staircase. One man was killed and many girls injured and maimed for life.

In his speech today my hon. Friend the Minister of State referred to some of these incidents, and the House listened to him in silence. He spoke about an average of 70 shooting incidents a week during October and November. I ask the House to realise that that means 10 shooting incidents each day. There were 99 incidents during the last week of October, and my hon. Friend gave further details of the number of incidents each week during October and November. In addition there are, on average, about 34 explosions a week. These are explosions of 20 lb., 30 lb., and sometimes 40 lb. of gelignite. It should be realised that one 1 lb. of gelignite can kill about 12 people. These bombs are placed in crowded shops in the middle of the afternoon, and they are set off quite indiscriminately.

The law has always recognised the difference between ordinary criminals, whom the police usually get the better of, and those who are motivated by seditious intent, such as these terrorists who are out to overthrow the constitution. This campaign, which is an attack on the constitution of the country, is in a class of its own. These men may be interrogated for five or six hours with their hands resting on a wall, but they do not suffer any lasting damage. They do not suffer like the girl in the Red Lion public house a week ago who lost two fingers and her legs. I ask hon. Members to think of her having a drink and then suddenly being maimed in this way for the rest of her life.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

I understand the hon. Gentleman's distress, and I share it, for innocent people who are maimed, injured or killed. I did not want to refer to it in my speech, but I am pressed to do so now. I remind the hon. Gentleman of the case which is going on at the Old Bailey now in which men are charged with carrying out the same kind of activities as those to which he is referring. Can the hon. Gentleman suggest that the police in that case ought to have been allowed to use methods of interrogation such as those disclosed in the Compton Report?

Mr. McMaster

As yet, and I hope that it never happens, this country has not known a terrorist campaign equivalent to that in Northern Ireland in recent months. The methods used by the interrogators are obviously successful. It would be totally wrong for the hon. Gentleman to be given the information for which he has asked in his Question. It could show that the 14 men interrogated had given information to the police, and if that were so their homes would be at risk. They have no compunction in killing the wives and children and murdering the men whom they only think give information to the police, just as they tarred and feathered and shaved the head of one of the girls in Londonderry, and almost blinded her, because they thought that she was going out with a soldier.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

The hon. Member says that these methods have been successful. How does he measure success? Before internment, the numbers of shootings, killings and other atrocities was extremely low compared with the soaring number following internment. If it is so successful, how does he account for this escalation?

Mr. McMaster

The hon. Gentleman must study his facts. In the six months of the year until internment was introduced in July, one and a half tons of explosives had been used in Northern Ireland—a colossal figure. No country can accept a state of affairs in which there is open terrorism of this nature, open, indiscriminate terrorism, without taking the steps which the Leader of the Opposition was prepared to accept were necessary—

Mr. Rose


Mr. McMaster

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will read the speech of his right hon. Friend tomorrow. He will find that his right hon. Friend admitted that internment was necessary—

Mr. Rose

Answer the question.

Mr. McMaster

I was answering the first part of the question. As to the second half—how do I know that the interrogations have been successful?—I would say that the figures quoted by my hon. Friend show that the number of arrests has increased since interrogation began from 28 to 73 in one week. The number of explosives, arms and weapons recovered has been increasing rapidly in recent weeks—

Mr. Rose

That does not answer the question.

Mr. McMaster

I will not allow myself to be diverted any more. I am convinced, and if the hon. Gentleman would like me to go into the figures in detail—

Mr. Frank McManus (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

Reverting to my hon. Friend's point, would the hon. Gentleman deny that, in the 10 months before internment, 28 persons lost their lives in Northern Ireland and that in the weeks since internment, over 100 people have lost their lives? How does he prove, in the face of those facts, that internment has been anything but an absolute disaster?

Mr. McMaster

I am afraid that I must go back to my original statement. In 1969, 12 civilians were killed and in 1970, some 17 were killed, and 28 this year, before internment. The number has been rising rapidly throughout the past year and has gone on rising even throughout internment, but the situation—[Laughter.]—

The Lord Commissioner to the Treasury (Mr. Walter Clegg)

This is not a laughing matter.

Mr. McMaster

Who can tolerate a situation in which one and a half tons of explosive has been used openly? In premises near my own house, one incident occurred before internment. These people, many of them not even members of the police or Army but just ordinary civilians going about their ordinary lives, were shot down and callously killed. The security forces are under the duty to detect those they think are responsible. Those responsible were not afraid to attend funerals of members of the I.R.A. or blatantly to boast that they were members themselves, or to attend meetings and issue statements to the Press.

Can these people be allowed to go about their ordinary business when the I.R.A. is given to such a campaign of violence? Is this tolerable in a civilised society? This was the reason for internment. The Leader of the Opposition feels that internment, although it should in ordinary circumstances be deplored, had, by the time that it was introduced in Northern Ireland, become an absolute necessity to protect the innocent lives of men, women and children.

I should like to inform the House of the results of the searches by the Army. They have recovered some 216 illegal rifles, 71 shotguns, 282 pistols, 23 machine guns, 119,000 rounds of ammunition, 147 hand grenades, 3,240 lbs of gelignite, 4,857 detonators, 124 incendiary devices, 1,691 pipe bombs and over 19,000 ft. of fuse wire. These are frightening figures. One is appalled to think of an arsenal like that being held by any group illegally within a country to be used to do the maximum amount of damage and destruction, absolutely regardless.

An example is the activity of the gang reported in the Mirror on 16th September this year: Petrol bombers attacked a school bus carrying handicapped children in Belfast. The bus, with about 30 children on board, was halted by a gang of stone-throwing youths. Children screamed in terror as three petrol bombs were hurled at the bus. What kind of people are capable of incidents like that against handicapped children? As it happened, they were Roman Catholic children in the bus—

Miss Bernadette Devlin (Mid-Ulster)


Mr. McMaster

No, I will not give way—

Miss Devlin

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that those who threw the petrol bombs—

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith)


Miss Devlin

—were in fact members of the Ulster Volunteer Force?

Mr. McManus

On a point of order. Is it in order for a Minister on the Front Bench to usurp the duties of the Speaker by himself shouting, "Order."?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

I have not seen or heard anything disorderly.

Mr. McMaster

To return to the theme, although we in Northern Ireland are very grateful for the work of the Army, this work must be intensified. There are signs that conditions are improving. The number of shooting incidents has fallen in the last two weeks, as has the number of bomb incidents. The number of arrests has increased dramatically. There are only a very few areas in Northern Ireland where most of this trouble originates. In Belfast, for example, one thinks immediately of the Falls Road, Seaford Street, Ballymurphy and the Ardoyne and there is the Bog-side in Londonderry. These areas are sometimes less than a square mile. They must be properly cordoned off and thoroughly searched by the troops, so that those who are hiding there and coming out, who are responsible for these indiscriminate attacks on the soldiers and the police, can be found.

Two detectives whom I knew were shot in the back going home in my own constituency in a quiet street in Belfast. A gunman came out of a side street and shot Inspector Moore and Inspector McMaster, who bore the same name as myself. Eleven unarmed policemen have been shot in the back. Some of them were lured to their death by malicious 'phone calls and then shot down by these terrorists. The hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) smirks. I have heard no expression of sympathy from her lips for the people who have been killed or injured.

Miss Devlin

On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman has accused me of smirking. I was not smirking but doubting his statements. He seems to feel that the responsibility for every death, for every person who drops dead, for every incident, particularly that to which he referred concerning Roman Catholic children, should be laid at the door of the I.R.A. without giving any evidence for it. It would be far better if he started to look among his constituents and supporters for the propagators of some of the violence.

Mr. McMaster

It will be a strange day when my constituents go to the middle of the Falls Road, the Ardoyne or the Bogside and take part in tarring and feathering incidents. None of my constituents was seen near the areas where these incidents have taken place, and the hon. Lady well knows it.

Miss Devlin

What about the three Scottish soldiers?

Mr. McMaster

The only way to get on top of the terrorist campaign is to continue and intensify the methods already being used and to intensify the searches which the Army has been carrying out so successfully in recent days. The House must realise what it is like to live in Northern Ireland at a time like the present. Even in quiet areas, no one can sleep in his bed at night and feel safe. Last month a man was found in my constituency with his hands tied behind his back. He had been blindfolded, gagged and shot through the head—the traditional way which the I.R.A. has of dealing with its enemies. I have records of many other cases, but I do not intend to take up time tonight by dealing with them.

I am surprised at the restraint of the majority of the population. Much play has been made of the fear of a Protestant blacklash. I am grateful to say that there has been very little sign of it, in the face of the terrible provocation which has led to the deaths of 160 people in Northern Ireland in the last three years. Many hundreds have been maimed for life by the actions of the terrorists.

The Protestants have formed vigilante groups. They stand through the cold nights at the end of their streets to stop cars being driven by terrorists down the streets and to prevent the throwing of pipe bombs into buildings. The older men among the vigilantes operate from nine o'clock to midnight. The young men, having done a day's work, come on from midnight to 3 a.m. The third shift is from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. They guard each street in Belfast, such is the fear of people of the actions of these Republican murderers.

That brings me to the point which I particularly noted in the very interesting and useful contribution made by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that what had impressed him during his visit to Northern Ireland was the fear and hatred there. I underline what the right hon. Gentleman said. The fear and hatred must be experienced to be properly understood. I express my great apprehension about the future and the legacy which we are leaving our children, who are being brought up in an atmosphere of violence, lawlessness burning and looting. The impression made on the minds of children is too frightening even to contemplate. That is perhaps the answer, if answer is required, to the points made genuinely and firmly by the hon. Member for York, who asked why prisoners should be interrogated in order to try to bring the violence to an early conclusion.

I wish to mention another aspect—it is an important aspect but not on the same level as the violence and intimidation—and that is the economic damage being done to Northern Ireland. This is a depressed area with unemployment figures very much higher than those of any other area. Our unemployment average among registered male workers is 8½ per cent., but in many areas it is up to 20 per cent. Businesses are being forced to close. Peoples' businesses are being burned during the night. They receive compensation, but they have devoted their lives to building them up. Shops, small factories and other premises are burned indiscriminately as part of the terrorists' campaign. These people cannot easily start up in business again.

We are, and always have been, anxious to attract new business to Northern Ireland, but what business man in his right mind would think of setting up a factory in Northern Ireland in the present conditions? The prospects for dealing with our unemployment problem in Northern Ireland are very bleak, and this is part, and a deliberate result, of the terrorists' campaign, a campaign designed not only to drive Northern Ireland and those responsible here into submitting to the claims of the terrorists but to drive the economy of Northern Ireland to the point of bankruptcy.

My hon. Friends have mentioned the way in which the media has been covering the situation in Northern Ireland. Together with the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, I feel that on the whole we have had very fair and just reporting of the incidents which have occurred there. But there is one aspect that concerns me. I have had many letters, not only from my constituents but from people living in England and Scotland, the relatives of people who are serving in Northern Ireland, concerning the way in which the B.B.C. in particular continually interview the spokesmen of the minority. There is not an opportunity lost by these people to spread malicious propaganda about Northern Ireland. Many people in the country feel that if the story is repeated frequently enough, it will be generally believed.

I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications said the other day, that there is no duty on the B.B.C., where the dispute lies between the terrorist and the soldier, to keep a fair balance between the two. The opposition we are facing, the enemy, the I.R.A., have a deliberate, well-thought-out plan. The plan follows traditional anarchist lines. First, they seek to discredit the security forces. In 1969 it was the police in Londonderry. Now it is the Army. They seek to discredit them by every means at their disposal, and they make very clever and cunning use of the media

I am surprised at how some of our leading journalists have been duped. I was surprised when I read a recent article in The Times, referring to a three-day battle in Londonderry in which the police were pelted with hundreds of petrol bombs, about the police retiring to pubs to argue about who fired the first shot. That type of reporting plays into the enemy's hands. It undermines our police. It is this type of reporting which has led to the escalation in violence over the last three years.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the I.R.A., many of us may agree with him, but earlier he used the word "minority". I hope he is not taking the view that the B.B.C., or any other organisation, should not outline and make known the views of the minority population in Northern Ireland. Would the hon. Gentleman clarify that?

Mr. McMaster

The hon. Member is right. I would in no way criticise that. The minority's views must be heard in the media. But those who have publicly proclaimed themselves to be supporters of the I.R.A. should not be exposed so much on the media, as they are at present. I do not envy the very difficult job of editors, either of the Press or the B.B.C., but they must always remember that their first duty, and that of everyone in the country, is to support the Government and the security forces. If they do not, we shall have anarchy.

Once we start allowing ourselves to be the dupes of the propagandists, the anarchists and the terrorists in Northern Ireland, and once we allow ourselves to carry their propaganda and to further it, we are furthering their ends and undermining the security forces, who have a very difficult job under the most trying circumstances. In circumstances of almost open warfare in Northern Ireland, it is up to us to support our security forces and the Government.

As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) said, we need further time to consider the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. As I said, I welcomed his visit to Northern Ireland, and I welcomed his report of it to the House. The right hon. Gentleman has made a very careful appraisal of the terrorist campaign. He laid emphasis on the necessity to restore law and order before anything else can be attempted.

However, I cannot let this opportunity pass without placing on record my disagreement with some of the right hon. Gentleman's final suggestions. I am sure that this will come as no surprise to the right hon. Gentleman. In particular, his suggestion that the Governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Eire should immediately sit round a table and consider ways of ending partition in Ireland is not only untenable but is, to a certain extent, counter-productive. It can only give encouragement to the terrorists. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman had not dealt in such detail with this point. It is, apart from anything else, totally impracticable. Every day hon. Members opposite call for majority rule in Rhodesia. If they call for majority rule in Rhodesia. why do they not admit that majority rule is the only proper form of rule in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Rose

For the whole of Ireland.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

For the whole of the United Kingdom?

Mr. McMaster

To take it even further, as my right hon. Friend suggests, where does the unit stand? One can take the whole of the United Kingdom as one unit, in which case the Republicans would be greatly outnumbered within the British Isles.

I call on the House tonight to show its confidence in the Government of Northern Ireland, who have been tackling a very difficult task, unparalleled in recent history. A campaign has been skilfully mounted against them which has not only been carried out by internal subversive organisations but in which there is clear evidence of external interference. The discovery of the arms at Antwerp is perhaps as clear an indication as anything else of the intervention of outside agencies. The desire of certain people to fish in troubled waters has aggravated the situation in Northern Ireland and has led to these colossal difficulties with arms being discovered there.

Those arms could not have got into Northern Ireland and into the hands of the terrorists, nor could the terrorists have been trained in their use, without the open and deliberate support of outside agencies.

I, together with many other hon. Members who have spoken in this debate, believe that there should be more co-operation between the communities. My hon. Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat) said that there is deplorable segregation in Northern Ireland. This is a two-sided story. I have always deplored segregation in education. If children are educated apart, for the rest of their lives they cannot and will not grow up and work and live happily together. People of different religions live in separate localities in Northern Ireland. I should like to see this coming to an end.

As I say, it is a two-sided story. A policy of definite non-co-operation is pursued by many elements of the minority. I have had examples of this in things such as boys' clubs in my constituency. There is as great a duty on the minority to come forward and to play its full part as there is on the majority to make further concessions.

I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to express in their concluding speeches their determination to root out the terrorists, the men of violence. This would be the best contribution that my right hon. and hon. Friends could make in bringing a speedy end to the terrorist campaign.

In so far as a political solution is required, the only sensible political solution that we require is that steps be taken to ensure that law and order are never disrupted again in the way that they have been in the past three years. The momentum the terrorist campaign has attained as a result of the mistakes of both the Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom Government should not be allowed to be repeated.

I particularly ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army to see whether better use could be made of our own local defence forces—the police, auxiliary police, Ulster Defence Regiment and even the Territorials. I am surprised that in the present circumstances better use has not been made of the Territorials. I do not accept the answer I have previously been given that the members of the Territorial Army should join the Ulster Defence Regiment. They are already in battalions. They have cohesion and local knowledge. I am sure that it is not beyond the ingenuity of the House to devise a way of mobilising the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland without having to mobilise the Territorial Army throughout the rest of the United Kingdom. I ask my hon. Friend to reconsider that proposal.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester. Blackley)

The hon. Member for Belfast. East (Mr. McMaster) has given us one of his characteristically blinkered speeches. I am beginning to wonder what is worse, the noise machine described in the Compton Report or listening to the hon. Gentleman for 33 minutes droning on without making a single constructive proposal for a political solution to what is a political problem. The hon. Gentleman is unable to see, and has been unable to see for the seven years since I entered the House, that Northern Ireland faces a political problem, and that a political problem cannot be solved by military means.

Many of us remember how seven years ago the hon. Gentleman told the whole world in a speech in the House that there was nothing wrong with Northern Ireland and that it was all a figment of our imagination. He and his colleagues are responsible, and must accept the responsibility, for the killings occurring now. Had they then acknowledged the faults in the system of government in what the hon. Gentleman calls a civilised country, we should not be having the kind of debate we have to have. He would not then acknowledge that, far from being a civilised country, Northern Ireland practised forms of discrimination that would have brought a glimmer into the eye of a Dr. Vorster or Dr. Verwoerd.

Mr. MacMaster

The hon. Gentleman has not listened to what I said. The root of the trouble in Northern Ireland is not political, nor is it because of the oppression of a minority. It is that there exists in Northern Ireland a small portion of the minority who will never give up the idea of a united Ireland, no matter what concessions are made. They are fanatics. It is significant that all the concessions they asked for in Londonderry in 1969 were granted by the Northern Ireland Government, and the only result was an intensification of the terrorist campaign. They got what they asked for, and only asked for more and intensified their campaign.

Mr. Rose

If the hon. Gentleman proposes to make a second speech, I am sure that the whole House will be delighted. But he has left me with only about 12 minutes to answer those points, and I intend to deal with them thoroughly in my speech. The hon. Gentleman knows all too well that he and his hon. Friends entirely denied any of the charges levelled against them. It ill behoves him to talk about the reforms that were introduced, when he opposed every one of them. I shall catalogue them later.

Today has been a historic day in the history of Northern Ireland, for two reasons. The first is that perhaps for the first time this century a Front Bench spokesman, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, has talked of a transitional period towards the reunification of an Ireland that was artificially divided because of the threat of force by the hon. Gentleman's friends 50 years ago. I am one of those who are entirely opposed to coercion or force in the Irish situation, and I welcome the fact that a political initiative has been put forward today with regard to the long-term prospects.

Today is also historic because at the Labour Party meeting today a Motion which I moved earlier this week was passed unanimously, with the support of the whole party. It condemns the way in which the rôle of British troops has changed since they were rightly sent in by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), now the Shadow Home Secretary—they were sent in with a rôle as mediators to prevent the destruction of the Bogside ghetto by those gentlemen whom the hon. Member seeks to support—and condemns in no uncertain terms the policy of internment, that ill-conceived policy which has been carried out with most remarkable means, as disclosed in the Compton Report, with remarkable bungling, and which has been entirely counter-productive, as the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) show, for since internment there has been an escalation of violence.

Far from detaching the population from the gunmen, the hon. Gentleman's policy has forced them into the hands of the gunmen. The policy which he supports has been counter-productive not because the root cause of the problem is the existence of a few thugs or disgruntled men, men whose methods one entirely condemns, but because such men can flourish only in a society in which there are enough people to support them. As my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) said at our party meeting, the doors are open to them and the kettles are on tonight to receive them. because people are so disaffected by 50 years of oppression by the hon. Gentleman's friends that they are willing to tolerate the gunmen, knowing that when their houses were burned down and when they were driven out of their streets nobody protected them. Unfortunately, in this sort of situation the gunmen step into the vacuum.

I wish to dispose of one or two canards. First, there is the suggestion that because we on this side put forward constructive political proposals we can be taken in some way as not condemning the vile methods which have been used by the I.R.A. Provisionals, for example, in planting a bomb in a public house to which ordinary Protestant workers go, thus dividing the ordinary working people of Belfast one from another even more on sectarian lines. I have no hesitation in condemning that, just as Conor Cruse O'Brien does in referring to the incipient Fascism which is latent in at least part of the I.R.A.

I wish to dispose, also, of the canard that because we utterly condemn the methods of ill treatment referred to in the Compton Report we can be accused in some way or other of undermining the morale of our forces. On the contrary. What undermines the morale of forces, as could be seen in Algeria and any other colonial war, is to put troops, by reason of the orders given to them, in an impossible situation, a situation in which actions of that kind become inevitable and escalate. I have the deepest sympathy for those young men who are out there tonight facing the sniper's bullet because of the policies which the hon. Member for Belfast, East has supported and pursued but which he has not yet had the intellectual honesty to recognise as an utter failure.

We saw that mentality displayed by the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Lt.-Col. Colin Mitchell), who certainly had some experience of colonial wars, when he justified these methods because, he told us, they had been used in Cyprus, in Kenya and in Aden, though without going on to add that in every case they had been a failure, and that "Mad Mitch", as he was then known. was thrown out.

Mr. Carol Mather (Esher)

Not Kenya.

Mr. Rose

No, the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not in Kenya. We left Kenya, we left Cyprus, we left Aden. We have had to leave every one of those areas, and in every case—

Mr. Mather


Mr. Rose

—that method and policy failed except, as the hon. Gentleman rightly says, in Malaysia. It did not fail in Malaysia because we had begun to understand by that time that one does not defeat subversion of this kind by driving the gunmen—or, in that case, the Communists—into the arms of the people; one has to detach them from the people.

Internment has forced into the arms of the I.R.A. the whole of the minority population, to the extent that even the most moderate person on the side of the minority will not speak to the Home Secretary until internment ends. It has been self-defeating and carried out with the most remarkable bungling.

Reference has been made to the censorship of news coverage. I wonder what hon. Gentlemen opposite will say when they hear that I have asked for a showing in the House of Commons of a film which has been taken by "The World In Action" unit. I have asked for it to be shown exclusively to hon. Members, the elected representatives of the people.

I am not yet asking for this film to be shown generally on television. Perhaps it is wrong that it should be shown to the public. Perhaps it is one-sided. I reserve judgment because I have not seen it. I gather, however, that it will not be permitted to be shown here. It is right that hon. Members should see this film before talking about censorship. It is remarkable that we are to be denied the privilege of seeing it by I.T.A. and Granada.

It is suggested that by exposing the faults in the interrogation methods we are somehow destroying morale. The reverse is the case; by condemning such methods we are upholding the rule of law, for only by not condemning them shall we debase our standards to the point when we can be criticised in the way that we criticise oppressive régimes such as Franco's Spain, where the sort of tactics about which we are complaining in Northern Ireland are used for the suppression of the people. The same happens in Africa, which I visited recently. I am conscious that to talk about Northern Ireland today is like walking through a minefield, with possibly the same explosive results.

Since I became an hon. Member seven years ago I have, because of a close association with Northern Ireland, been putting forward proposals for peaceful reforms to take place there. As a result of my experience over the years, I can only tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that they have a lot for which to answer be- cause they have expressed nothing but opposition to those reforms. The Labour Party failed in some ways because of our desire all the time to bring the Conservative Party along with us in our efforts to improve matters in Northern Ireland and secure much-needed reforms. I am delighted to say that at our party meeting today we decided unanimously that bipartisanship is not to be our policy.

That does not mean that we favour Catholic against Protestant. The Labour Party stands for human rights wherever they are assailed—where Protestants are being persecuted by Catholics, as in Franco's Spain, or vice versa in Northern Ireland. The same will be our view wherever persecution occurs in any part of the world. It is as foolish to say that we are pro-Catholic as to say that we are pro-black and anti-white because we do not believe in a sell-out to Ian Smith in Rhodesia.

Just as it was a mistake for us to try all along to take the blinkered hon. Gentlemen opposite with us in securing reforms in Northern Ireland, so it is equally true to say that the reforms that were agreed came too late. There have not yet been elections in Northern Ireland since the gerrymandering—or should I say "Derrymandering"—came to an end and we reformed the electoral system.

I recall my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock asking seven years ago, "What can we debate other than the question of Harland and Wolff?" Convention prevented us from discussing the whole question of Northern Ireland, and hon. Gentlemen opposite were responsible for that.

At every stage we were unable to proceed with reforms at a pace fast enough to overcome 50 years' accumulated grievances because the right wing of the Unionist Party smashed O'Neill, smashed Chichester-Clarke and will probably eventually do the same to Mr. Faulkner for having the courage to try to follow Westminster in carrying out reforms in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Belfast, East asked about reforms, during the passage of the 1965 Race Relations Bill, and again in 1967, we asked for an end to discrimination on religious grounds in Northern Ireland, and we got nowhere with that.

Mr. McMaster


Mr. Rose

The hon. Gentleman had his say for 30 minutes. I should like to give way, but I really cannot. He knows that I moved an Amendment asking for an ombudsman in Northern Ireland. We had one two years later. The trouble was that the reforms came only as a response to pent-up tensions and did not come soon enough to prevent those tensions from building up.

At that time some hon. Members thought that Northern Ireland sooner or later would become an issue in world politics. Emperor Haile Sellassie of Ethiopia, when I visited him a fortnight ago, after he had been questioned, asked what we were doing about the Northern Ireland issue. This is a world issue, and we are getting a very bad Press in the world. Only after blood was shed, after my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) was battered in Derry, were the more moderate voices which had been speaking for several years listened to.

We are on the brink of a very dangerous situation in which civil war could break out in Northern Ireland and it is, therefore, necessary to make political proposals. The hon. Member for Belfast, East has done no service to the House by his catalogue and by refusing to make suggestions for any political initiative. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in a complex and historic speech has made long-term proposals. In the short term we must recognise that the rôle of the Army has changed to such an extent that it is unacceptable when it is seen to do what it did in the Falls Road and because of the policy of internment without trial. I demand an answer to the question whether these men will be brought to trial, what form of tribunal will be used to decide which men are guilty of offences, and whether the men against whom no evidence has been given will be released.

Ultimately the only answer is to replace the current set-up in Stormont by a form of government, a commission or otherwise, which gives the minority for the first time in 50 years a say in the affairs and the decision-making. The reason why one-third of the population is disaffected is that they have been second-class citizens. They have a right to participate in decision-making on an equal basis with their fellow citizens at local and national government level. The root of the trouble lies there and not with a few gunmen, because a few gunmen cannot act without the support of a large number of people.

I ask the Government to come forward with constructive political proposals for bringing the minority population into the affairs of State and local government, and to state their political and military aims.

9.4 p.m.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

The winding-up speeches at the end of the first day of a two-day debate cannot have the air of finality which marks the normal one-day debate, but they may have the merit of a quieter atmosphere in which to consider the interesting ideas that have been put forward, particularly by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. In my view, however, there is only one key which will unlock the door which blocks progress and ensure the greater success of the various proposals made by my right hon. Friend, and that is internment.

The problems in Northern Ireland are many-sided. At one time the political aspect is important, at another the military aspect and at another the economic aspect. But these problems are not separate; they are together at all times. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in September said that there were two separate facts in Northern Ireland, the security and the political. In my view, they cannot be separated. Policy on Ulster, in any event, cannot stand still. What was appropriate in 1969 may not be appropriate in 1971. In our view, the policy introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) in 1969 is no longer as relevant as it was. It has come to the end of the road.

This can be seen in the Catholic attitude to the troops. They are no longer seen by the Catholics in Ulster in a peacekeeping rôle, as they were two years ago. What has been happening in recent weeks and months has been expressed as an end to bi-partisanship, but what is really involved is a thinking aloud about changes in policy which are required. We have been working towards a new policy, in new circumstances, and it is our hope today not only that the changes in policy suggested by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will be considered—as we have been told they will be—but that most of them will be accepted by the Government.

These ideas were not forthcoming without great consideration; they were produced after much discussion with interested parties. We have noted the words of the Minister of State who spoke about "broad agreement", and when the debate is resumed next week, we shall listen attentively to discover what this means. I say this, not in any partisan way. It may be that given the history of the Conservative Party in this respect, the rôle of the Labour Party on Ulster can be more significant at this time than is usually possible for an Opposition.

As a result of my visit to Ulster, and, in particular, to Long Kesh and Crumlin Road, and from talking to people in many walks of life, I feel that the key is internment. Whoever one talks to in the minority group in Ulster, one can be in no doubt that since internment the political situation has changed radically. Internment has hardened attitudes. I appreciate that military judgment is involved in the question of garnering extra intelligence, but political internment was a turning point in Northern Ireland, and whatever happens, things will never be the same again until this aspect has been dealt with. The tribal loyalties which I noted in the Catholic community areas, because such they were, are always strong enough to support the I.R.A. to some degree on the basis of the past. Now, as we hear time and time again, the people in those areas offer relief and succour to the gunmen. The gunmen could not operate without a wide degree of support—[An HON. MEMBER: "And Russian arms."]—That may be so, but it does not matter from where the arms come.

If one is to make an analysis of the situation, one has to accept the views of both sides. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) has left the Chamber, but one cannot look at the situation without accepting views such as his and the views of Irish Republican Members in this House. In order to get an honest solution, one has to face up to the fact that the two views exist. For the purposes of my analysis, it does not matter too much from where the arms have come. The plain fact is that there is support for the gunmen.

What everyone has been trying to do in this debate is to get some idea of what is involved in the situation. I felt the same at Long Kesh. The only internment camps that I have ever seen before have not been on British territory. I do not think that anyone can be very happy about it. To see it is shameful, as it is to see other parts of Belfast, to hear the views of both sides, and to hear about such incidents as that involving a bus with crippled children on board having a bomb thrown at it.

The existence of the internment camp is part of the wider shame of Belfast which affects both sides who express themselves in ways which are foreign to political life in this country. But, given all the practical difficulties, given the fact that of course there must be I.R.A. men among those who are interned, there has to be a better procedure on internment than we have at the moment. We must put our minds to devising a procedure which brings in the rule of law.

After our visit to Long Kesh and the Crumlin Road, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Peter Archer) and I talked. My hon. and learned Friend put his mind to the problem as he saw it. He wrote to the Home Secretary: While some internees are presenting their cases to the Commission under Judge Brown, there is a general feeling that it would command more confidence among internees and their families if it … included a number of members nominated by an eminent international authority such as the President of the European Commission or the European Court of Human Rights, and if there were some assurance that their recommendations would be accepted or, where rejected, reasons would be given. Lastly, I spoke with certain solicitors, who were advising clients in connection with applications to the Commission. For reasons which are not clear to me Judge Brown has announced that the Commission will not hear oral arguments by lawyers, and the rôle of lawyers will be confined to assisting clients to prepare their cases. Indeed, legal aid is available for this purpose. But every practising lawyer is aware that such preparation is impracticable where no charges have been proffered, no specific allegations made, and there is no method of knowing in advance what will be said. I am sure that we have to put our minds to this.

In The Times of Tuesday, I read: In the Second world war there were better safeguards governing internment in the United Kingdom than now exist in Northern Ireland. The Times today, referring to detainees and internees, says: It is important they be treated according to the law, strict as that law can be. It refers to the Special Powers Act, which I have looked at, and it says: There were disturbingly few safeguards. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that even in Rhodesia there was legal advice and representation was permitted under the 1959 Act. I looked this evening at an internment notice which was served on a black African in Kenya in 1953. One of his crimes was making anti-European speeches to immigrants calculated to embarrass race relations, in the course of which he said that all Europeans should be made to leave the country. For one of the charges, the man was interned. It would be odd if anyone in this country advocating the return of immigrants were interned.

On Tuesday The Times spoke about the United Kingdom being internationally responsible for its preventive detention laws and that it should assert its authority to ensure the passage of law consistent with our international obligations and our democratic traditions. It said that, above all, internment must be the responsibility of the Westminster Parliament and the Westminster Government.

Internment changes by themselves will not be enough, but changes to bring matters within the rule of law are necessary to progress, in bringing Catholics into the Government, and in practical terms in doing something to bring the Social Democratic and Labour Party back to Stormont.

I felt when I was in Ireland that these things were not happening because of the "gut" reaction in the community as a whole. What must happen to achieve change of policy is to try to put ourselves in the position of people who feel strongly because of the situation. This change must come simultaneously with other changes. I hope that such changes will not be presented as a catalogue, but as part of a new political climate which will enable them to be understood.

I hope that this is what will happen to the ideas put forward by my right hon. Friend today. There is no need to rehearse those suggestions but they envisage a commission before which people can talk freely—which at least gives a hope that something may be done. They also envisage a recasting of the Government of Northern Ireland to bring Catholics into various posts—and I appreciate that this idea has been put forward before. There must clearly be seen to be a move against discrimination in the community and, above all, there must be a massive economic and social expenditure on the provision of jobs and new industries and. above all, on housing.

Perhaps because I represent an area in the North which has a vast housing problem, I cannot help feeling some sympathy for the tribal feeling which exists in certain parts of Belfast. There are areas there which have disappeared, or are fast disappearing, from most of the Briitsh cities.

The political climate must be affected in two main ways. It must be made clear to the Protestants that one million of them cannot be forced out of the United Kingdom. I am sure that in Eire nobody in his right senses believes that Eire could cope with one million reluctant citizens. I have heard this view expressed by Republicans who have stated categorically that a million people cannot be forced into Eire. Protestants feel threatened; they feel beleagured; they feel that their view of life is under attack, not just from political changes but also from economic factors.

It was impressed at a party meeting in this House by a speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) pointing out that Protestants tend to be in the declining industries. They, too, feel beleagured. Perhaps because I originally came from South Wales, I understand the lack of confidence that comes from economic change since it brings about social change in such a blunt way. The Orange Order, with its religious basis in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is not understood by the more sophisticated. I do not believe that any ideas anybody has for change should result in Orangemen feeling threatened. In the same way, the minority cannot be asked to give up their strongly held belief in a united Ireland. But it must be made clear that discrimination must go and that nobody's way of life is under attack. Something has to be done about internment. That is a "bull" point.

It would be better for both religions if they had to face up to the relevance of their faith in a changing economic and social world, instead of facing up to what they feel is a threat from the outside world to the religious ideas they hold dear. I felt when I was there that in the present social and economic climate they face a battle in seeking to maintain their beliefs in changing circumstances.

It is to the social and economic aspects in Northern Ireland that particular attention should be paid. Only if the political scene is set with great care can progress be made and a round-table discussion make any sense. Such a discussion must be the aim of the Government, and we shall listen very carefully on Monday. It was put to me—and we have all had different suggestions made to us—that the only way to force people in Ulster to face up to their responsibilities, instead of them to some degree living off our backs is for us to pull out. It is said that this would confront both sides with reality and, as has happened in Palestine and India, there may be a blood-bath but in the end it concentrates the mind.

We reject that solution. It is far too easy a solution. We equally reject the military solution for Ulster. I felt today when my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, that some of his ideas will be received with incredulity by extremists on either side. The hon. Member for Belfast, East revealed that when he spoke. One of the suggestions about a discussion with the Government of Eire was a suggestion which he could not contemplate, he said. There will be other ideas which the Catholic minority could not contemplate. To some degree my right hon. Friend's speech forced people to face up to realities. At the moment there is drift in the Government's policy. Whether or not they wish it, there is too much separation in the Government's aims.

Even if the I.R.A. is beaten, as has happened before it will return, because the I.R.A. is an endemic disease and has been over the last 50 years in Ireland. It does not die; it emerges from time to time. It emerged in this country from time to time before the Second World War.

Relations with Ireland are illogical. When we were discussing the Immigration Bill introduced by the Home Secretary we discovered that the citizens of Eire are treated in this cauntry as if they were Commonwealth citizens. From the moment they arrive in this country this is so, and if they fill in a form in September then in the following February they have the right to vote here. They are aliens but, because of an accident of history—it may be deeper than that—they are treated as Commonwealth citizens.

There is no immigration control, and there have been many arguments about this going back to 1962, when the then Home Secretary was justifying the fact that there could not be such control on the Irish. The Home Secretary will recall that he discussed this matter at some length in Committee. A large number of citizens of Eire come to this country. This system brings great benefits to Eire. It provides it with the benefit of being a foreign country, which is a benefit maybe to its amour propre more than anything else, but at the same time its people get the benefit of being treated as Commonwealth citizens without the responsibilities, small as they are, which other Commonwealth citizens have.

Mr. Powell

I also remember that that Measure contains provisions for imposing just that control.

Mr. Rees

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. What I am saying is that since the British Nationality Act was passed—even before then; going back to the days when Commonwealth citizenship was expressed in the words "British subject" and all that implied—there has been an illogical relationship between Eire and this country.

In all big cities in this country, my own not least, but probably even more so in Birmingham, there are large numbers of citizens of Eire, some recent arrivals, some of them going back for two or three generations, and many of them play a most important part in the life of the community.

There are trading arrangements between this country and Eire going back to the 'twenties and 'thirties. Indeed, if the Government get their way and Ireland and this country go into the Common Market there will be arrangements which will bring the two countries closer together in economic terms.

The discussion today has shown that the relationship between us and Ireland is illogical. Let us not therefore try to find a logical solution to the Irish question, because I do not believe there is one. We might have to find—indeed, we shall find—an illogical solution. The last flames of the Irish question, which dominated this House for 50 years, can be seen in Ulster. We failed then. If we had had the wit, if we had had the wisdom, if we had granted home rule 30 or 40 years before it was obtained by military means, by civil war, with a county council type of government, who knows what the position might be today?

There were the political "gut beliefs" which had to be satisfied in this country, and which split the great political parties. Indeed, the very name of the Conservative Party when it is printed in full tells us what happened in the 1870s, or the 1880s. It is not surprising that Joseph Chamberlain came from Birmingham, and that he had been a Republican on one occasion. It may be that it was because he was a populist, because populism flourishes in the Irish situation.

Perhaps when we consider all that, we realise why we failed. We dare not fail on this occasion. It is our belief that the speech of the Leader of the Opposition today has lifted the debate above the level at which it has been in recent months. What we seek from the Government is a change of policy. We want the Government to take the initiative, but before that succeeds there must be a return to the rule of law and the abandonment of the present rules of internment.

9.28 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army (Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith)

Although I warmed to the spirit of much of what was said by the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees), I hope he will not mind if I do not follow him on many of the arguments which he deployed but follow the example of my noble Friend and concern myself with military matters. It is this aspect which I should like to discuss because many military issues have been raised, and my hon. Friend gave an undertaking that I would deal with these when I wound up the debate today. I hope that those hon. Members who have concerned themselves with important matters which were part of the debate on the Compton Report will acquit me of discourtesy if I do not go into those matters either.

The part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition which gave me the most pleasure was his praise for the qualities of the General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland. I especially appreciated, and wish to be associated with, his comments about the political sensitivity shown by General Sir Harry Tuzo in discharging this most difficult task.

As the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) said, the Army has one of the most difficult tasks that it has ever been called upon to perform in its history. Its rôle in this most difficult of circumstances demands courage, and the Army is certainly not short of that. But the situation demands other qualities as well which are not so readily associated with armies—patience, a deep understanding of complicated political and social factors, a restraint which calls upon soldiers to use only the minimum of force, and the emphasising of the impartiality of the Army's rôle, save in its attitude to those who would seek to destroy the lives of innocent people.

I know that there are people in Northern Ireland who, for one reason or another, say that the Army's rôle is not impartial. But I cannot emphasise too much that the Army and my right hon. and hon. Friends are determined that the impartiality, the fairness between one section of the community and another, should remain one of the cornerstones of the actions of the security forces in Northern Ireland.

The rôle of the Army, simply stated, is difficult to perform. It is to work for peace. It is agreed on both sides of the House—it was one of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition—that it is only in conditions of peace that real political and social progress can be made and the wounds of the past healed.

In the course of discussions on Northern Ireland, we rightly lay great stress on the activities and sacrifices of the soldiers of the British Army. Sometimes the question is asked: what about Ulstermen themselves, both Protestants and Catholics? Do they play no part in helping to save lives and secure the stability of the areas in which they live? I therefore thought that it might be convenient for the House if I said a few words about those Ulstermen who play an important part in helping the security forces to discharge their duties. I am referring to the men who joined the Ulster Defence Regiment.

Mr. George Cunningham

Do I understand the hon. Gentleman correctly, that he does not intend to deal with any of the rather important points which have been made about the Compton Report in this debate?

Mr. Johnson Smith

Yes, the hon. Gentleman did understand me correctly. I said at the time that I hoped that he and others would acquit me of discourtesy. We have had a debate on Compton. The Government have made it clear that a Committee would be set up of three Privy Councillors. I should have thought that it would be wise to await their report, when no doubt a debate will be arranged so that it can be discussed and the House can decide what further action can be taken.

Mr. McNamara

Can the hon. Gentleman say how many men in the interim will be subject to the procedures laid down and condemned by the Compton Committee?

Mr. Johnson Smith

There is no interrogation of the kind mentioned in the Compton Report at present being conducted.

The Ulster Defence Regiment—

Mr. George Thomson (Dundee, East)


Mr. Johnson Smith

I have said that there is nothing that I can add to what has already been said in the Compton Report. But I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Thomson

With all respect to the Under-Secretary, we are in the middle of an important two-day debate on Northern Ireland. A number of my hon. Friends have made speeches about im- portent matters arising out of the Compton Report. One very important matter, I understand—I did not have the good fortune to hear the speech myself—has been raised since the last debate on the Compton Report. The hon. Gentleman is responsible for the Army. The Army was responsible for the training of the people who were engaged in that form of interrogation in depth. The hon. Gentleman cannot treat the House in this way.

Mr. Johnson Smith

We have had a debate on this matter. The question has been raised. We are tending to go over old ground. If there are further points of a more political nature, they might be dealt with in what remains of this debate. The right hon. Gentleman is aware of the presence of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who no doubt will return, if he thinks it necessary, in response to this debate, to the political implications which still appear to worry some hon. Members.

But we have had many questions about the more military aspects of the Army and the conditions which face the Army, and I am concerned to refer to these points in the remaining moments of this section of the debate.

Mr. Cunningham


Mr. Johnson Smith

I have a great deal of ground to cover. I know the point which the hon. Gentleman raised and I will do my best to answer it if I have time.

I know the concern which people have expressed about the rôle of the Ulster Defence Regiment. During the last two months or so the enlisted strength has increased by 30 per cent. This is an important point because people wonder to what extent Ulstermen are willing to undertake responsibilities for the security of their own country. Yesterday the strength of the regiment was 249 officers and 5,264 soldiers, a total of over 5,500. In addition, about 800 applicants have been accepted but not yet enrolled. A further 1,300 applications are being processed. Applicants are coming in at the encouraging rate of 250 a week—three times the rate which obtained during July and August.

We shall keep up our recruiting publicity and other recruitment activity, and we hope that many more applicants will apply to join this thriving, non-sectarian force. It has got off to a very good start, and is playing an important part in our efforts to secure peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

I have just pointed out that 1,300 applications are still being processed. The House may think that this is a large number to have in the pipeline. We are doing all we can to speed up the recruitment processes, but at the same time we are anxious to ensure that every applition is scrutinised in a proper manner and that no unsuitable applicant is enlisted into the regiment. As I told the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) earlier today, there has been no change in the general policy of vetting recruits, as was explained to the House two years ago, and we intend to continue in this way.

With the very significant increase in the number of new applications in recent months, there has, perhaps understandably enough, been a drop in the overall proportion of Roman Catholics in the enlisted strength. This now stands at about 8 per cent. We want to see a significant increase in this percentage. I hope that more Roman Catholics will apply to join the regiment.

Mr. A. W. Stallard (St. Pancras, North)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Johnson Smith

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but the regiment provides an umbrella under which it is possible for Catholics and Protestants to come together and unite. It is one of the most effective vehicles in which people can show their mutual trust in one another. It is not something to deprecate but an organisation which holds out hope for the future of people in Northern Ireland.

I can assure the House that we shall continue to pay particular attention to these important aspects in our efforts to go on building up the strength of the Ulster Defence Regiment. I have visited Northern Ireland to see how the regiment has been faring. I am convinced that it has a fine non-sectarian spirit, and we are doing everything we can to give it priority in such matters as clothing, vehicle protection kits and accommodation.

Mr. Stallard

I was shaking my head because I do not think the hon. Gentle- man has dealt with the essential feature in Northern Ireland in relation to the Army. Does he accept that the Army's rôle has changed dramatically since 1970, when it could rightly be said that it was above the argument? It is now seen to be simply a force maintaining the discredited régime at Stormont. The hon. Gentleman has missed that point.

Mr. Johnson Smith

I cannot understand why the hon. Gentleman repeats legend. What he has said is what some people want to think the Army is; they put it around every day. The hon. Gentleman should know better than to repeat a legend. The Army's rôle is the same as it ever was, and the hon. Gentleman knows that. Sonic people may think differently, but I cannot help the views of people who are misled or the fact that someone whose husband has been arrested and whose whereabouts are not known for a time turns on the Army which is discharging its duties as best it can. The Army's rôle is to protect people and the peace, and that cannot be emphasised too much.

Mr. Ernle Money (Ipswich)

Like other English Members, I have had constituents shot down in cold blood in Ireland, and fiancées tarred and feathered. Would my hon. Friend accept that one of the things doing most harm to the morale of the Army is the constant sniping at them that occurs in the House?

Mr. Stallard

What a lot of rubbish the hon. Gentleman talks.

Mr. Johnson Smith

Criticism of the sniping variety does not help, but the Army's morale can stand sniping. I am not trying to criticise the motives of the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard).

I turn to the important rôle played by the Ulster Defence Regiment. I attach importance to the fact that it brings people of different denominations together It involves Ulstermen in working for their peace. We are giving all we possibly can to them in terms of physical and monetary aid so that they can discharge their duties effectively. We are building six new centres for U.D.R. companies. This is of importance to the people in Ulster. We have seen that the U.D.R. is fully equipped with B vehicles, with arms and with the clothing most urgently needed for the winter. More money has been found for an intensified advertising campaign, and we are hoping to provide more rifle ranges and more permanent staff.

I am about to pay another visit to Northern Ireland, and I shall be having further discussions with the military authorities on the spot and with the Ulster Defence Regiment Advisory Council. which have played, and are continuing to play, such an important part in the affairs of the Regiment, especially in recruitment.

Side by side with conditions which affect Ulstermen serving Ulster and the Ulster Defence Regiment, there has been expressed over the past weeks and in to- day's debate a concern about the accommodation and conditions of service of the men in the Regular Army. There is no doubt that the rapid increase in force levels in Northern Ireland has produced problems. The fact is that Army units are there on active service, and much of the accommodation is inevitably of a temporary nature. Apart from the resident battalions, the units are there for short tours only, and during this time they are highly mobile. Moreover, for tactical reasons it is sometimes necessary for accommodation to be near the scene of operations to enable the unit to react as quickly as possible. The Army, therefore, has not always been able to choose accommodation which will provide the degree of comfort which we would like for our men. Much of it is dilapidated and in poor condition. But, once it is occupied, the men have made it weatherproof and as habitable as possible. But there is a limit to what can be done. We have, therefore, turned our attention to making money available for immediate improvements to make life a little more comfortable and to provide more temporary accommodation where this can be used.

My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Defence recently announced in another place that an additional £500,000 was being made available to provide improvements not possible under the normal procedures. The House will be glad to know that within the last 10 days a large part of this money has been allocated to such things as the improvement of cooking equipment and furnishings, the use of contract cleaning to improve the interior of buildings, improved partitioning, repainting, cleaning equipment and washing machines. All these things and others will make life a little more comfortable in the winter months ahead. In addition, a swimming pool will be provided for a large number of troops in the Belfast area, and £75,000 has been set aside for local unit commanders to draw on for smaller and individual improvements.

As regards better accommodation, immediate steps have been taken to ship six Twynham huts and 26 mobile homes to Northern Ireland. A further 20 are to be despatched there soon. Arrangements are also being made to provide, on a contractual basis, a reserve of hutted accommodation at short notice to meet new requirements as they arise. Work has already been started on five new hutted camps, two of which will be completed by the end of next month.

To sum up, we shall be spending some £5 million more in 1972–73 than we would otherwise have spent on Army accommodation in Northern Ireland. In addition to the physical needs of the forces, a number of steps have been taken to provide better recreational facilities for off duty moments and to allow soldiers to get in touch with their families and friends at home.

A welfare agency staffed by the Women's Royal Voluntary Service has now been set up to give information about welfare amenities and facilities in Northern Ireland. We have allotted funds for the hire of civilian coaches for welfare and recreational purposes.

Of particular concern to hon. Members has been the question of soldiers getting back on leave and being able to do so by air as opposed to land or sea. With the help of British European Airways and other airlines, valuable air concessions are now available once every emergency tour of four months and once a year in the case of members of the permanent garrison. Other travel concessions have also been allowed.

To help the troops keep in close day-to-day touch with their families who have been left behind and with their friends and relatives in Great Britain, we have provided more coin-operated telephone boxes, and there are now over 80 of these installed in Army Camps in Northern Ireland.

I mention for the benefit of my right hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) that I am looking into the possibility of reduced charges to the troops for telephone calls from these coin-operated boxes and we hope to be able to make suitable arrangements shortly, at the expense of defence Votes.

We are very grateful to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and to the Post Office for all the help they have given.

Mr. George Cunningham

I do not criticise the Minister for going into details, first because they are important to the troops involved and, second, because if hon. Members attend an important debate like this in such small numbers the House gets what it deserves. However, will the hon. Gentleman depart from these matters for a moment and return to a point he made earlier, when I understood him to say words to the effect that the methods of interrogation mentioned in the Compton Report are in suspense?

I remind the hon. Gentleman of the words the Home Secretary used on 16th November: Interrogation cannot be stopped altogether, obviously, because interrogation and intelligence are fundamental to the fight against the gunmen."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 220.] Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House whether the methods described in the Compton Report are in suspense pending the examination by the Committee of Privy Councillors? Can we take it that in the meantime the only methods permitted are, roughly speaking, those available for police interrogation in Britain?

Mr. Johnson Smith

I will not go further than my noble Friend. No interrogations are taking place in depth now. In any case, they were very rare. I do not think that I should say in advance what happens in a situation where it may be felt that a deep interrogation should take place. It is obviously true—I say this gladly—that Compton having reported in the fashion he has, the Government will have to take into account what Compton has said. I cannot say any more than that.

Mr. George Cunningham

So they might or might not be.

Mr. Johnson Smith

My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) raised the question of the use of the T.A.V.R. and asked that its members be allowed to play an active part in security operations in Northern Ireland. They are, after all, trained and disciplined reserve forces, keen to do their duty, with valuable local experience.

At first sight it might seem only natural that units of the T.A.V.R. should be used in Ulster. However, I must emphasise that the T.A.V.R. is not like the U.D.R. First, it is a reserve force and not a part-time local force. It is a reserve for the British Army as a whole. Its main rôle is to increase the Army's order of battle when called out for full-time service over a prolonged period of national emergency. There is no provision for the T.A.V.R. to undertake operational duties on a part-time basis only.

The U.D.R., on the other hand, is a local volunteer force specifically created by Parliament for security duties in Northern Ireland under legislation which allows its members to undertake operational duties either on a part-time basis—at night or at weekends—or on a full-time basis for emergency periods. Therefore, the two forces have distinctively different rôles and terms of service, and the legislation under which they operate is different. The extent to which members of the T.A.V.R. can involve themselves in the present situation must therefore be limited to protecting their own premises and other tasks that can form part of their training.

However, we have given thought to enlisting the valuable services of the disciplines of the T.A.V.R. members. Since a man cannot be a member of both the T.A.V.R. and the U.D.R., we introduced rules which would allow individuals to transfer to the U.D.R. with the minimum of dislocation. These terms were announced as long ago as 25th September. We shall do all we can to make arrangements for groups of T.A.V.R. members as well as individuals to transfer to the U.D.R. where there are places for them in the new units being formed, so that we can take advantage of their esprit de corps, if they wish to keep together to play their part in the current expansion; in other words, to continue to serve together in one of the new units. I hope very much that men who are anxious to serve in the present situation will make use of these arrangements. Certainly, the U.D.R. will be able to make excellent use of their experience and qualifications.

With regard to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) and the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham), who has left the Chamber—

Mr. John D. Grant

He was disgusted. He walked out.

Mr. Johnson Smith

The Government do not believe in the imposition of censorship in the circumstances of Northern Ireland. It is for the Press, radio and television authorities to ensure that a proper sense of responsibility is exercised. If they fail to do so, I think that public opinion will not let them get away with it. Moreover, censorship can be self-defeating, in that people will cease to believe in the credibility of the news they see on television and read in the Press. The situation is not one that people are used to in wartime, with the troops in one area and civilians in another, with a great gap between them. Circumstances then are different, and it is easier to impose censorship.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm what I said today from my impression, that the Army emphatically does not want censorship of television or the Press?

Mr. Johnson Smith

I gladly give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance. The Government do not want censorship, and the Army certainly does not. Indeed, some of the interviews given at the discretion of the local commanding officers have been part of the reason why people have gained confidence in the integrity of the Army.

On the whole I believe that a sense of responsibility has been shown in the reporting of events in Northern Ireland by the Press and television news reporters. People who ask for censorship forget the curious situation of urban guerrilla warfare. People in Northern Ireland, however vexatious they find life, expect to have their milk and food undiluted and also to have their news undiluted, and if anyone tried to dilute it they would find ways and means of getting round it. I am sure that we are right to denounce censorship.

There have been lapses. Many people in this country with sons or husbands in the services are naturally incensed by hectoring interviewers. People are incensed when blatant propaganda put out by terrorists is clothed with authority when it is given unbalanced prominence on television. Producers and others who have a sense of responsibility must take account of the feelings of people with sons and husbands in the Services in Northern Ireland. Impartiality can never mean impartiality between right and wrong. To equate in moral terms the terrorist murderer and the soldier will not be accepted by the public.

It is remarkable that so far the results of bringing to our firesides every night a visual account of what has been happening in Northern Ireland, a visual account of a shooting war against ruthless terrorists in the streets of the cities there, has not been disastrous. All of us have in the back of our minds the memory of what happened to the American public at the time of Vietnam, and the rôle played by television in that. So far I think that the coverage, in spite of its faults, has—not only because of the interviews with the British soldiers, but overall—helped the British public to develop a deep and lasting respect for the integrity and discipline of the Army.

I have no doubt that the Army will not fail us but—I think that this is at the back of the right hon. Gentleman's mind, and it must have been borne in on him when he visited Ulster recently—the Army, those who risk their lives to save life, ask that we in Great Britain, who live in peace, should understand the enormous complexity of their task and the tremendous difficulties which it poses. They ask, too, that we in the House of Commons should strive earnestly, and be seen to strive earnestly and unitedly, to find a basis upon which people in all sections of the community in Northern Ireland may build their own peace, a peace which this time will be a lasting peace.

Mr. Victor Goodhew (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury)

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.