HC Deb 01 February 1972 vol 830 cc264-331

4.32 p.m.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

I beg to move, That this House do now adjourn.

What is clear from the events in Northern Ireland over the years is that there is no military solution to the problems there. Sunday's events are recent proof, and they are part of a continuing story. Since 1969, 232 people have been killed. In January this year the figure was 26 killed: 18 civilians, 4 police, 3 soldiers and 1 member of the U.D.F. Since internment, 169 people have been killed.

Sunday's events have been traumatic. To some it has been an explosion in a pub; to others a gunman coming in and shooting down a father; and to others it is girls who have been permanently scarred as a result of a bomb in an electricity headquarters. Scars are left on the minds and hearts of Protestants and Catholics. The more Protestants killed by the I.R.A., the more Protestants are determined to remain firm. The more Catholics who are killed by security forces, the more Catholics are determined to get the British out. There is no military solution. There must be a political solution; it will have to be found. That was the view of the Labour Party when in Government. It is still our view today.

Concerning the inquiry which has been announced today, which stems from the events on Sunday. I simply say that the Opposition asked for it before the announcement was made. We hope that all those who are making allegations will attend.

I notice in the Press today that Cardinal Heenan, in a letter to the Prime Minister, said: The latest reports from Northern Ireland will have shocked all in this country, irrespective of their political or religious views. Without further information, I would not be prepared to judge the degree of responsibility of those involved in yesterday's tragedy. Without further information, it is impossible to know the truth of the allegations against the soldiers or to what extent they were provoked. If, indeed, several unarmed citizens have been killed by our soldiers, the rôle of the British Army as a peace-keeping force will be suspect. I hope you will order an official and independent inquiry into this tragedy with the least possible delay. The Government have done that. It is our hope, and I am sure the hope of the whole House, that all those who have made allegations will offer their evidence in the appropriate place. Even the Financial Times today, which is further evidence that this inquiry is necessary, states that neither official version is true. The only way to clear this up is by an inquiry, and it must be speedy. Unless there is speed attached to it, with due care for the judicial side, it will not remove what we want to remove in Derry.

Another aspect which has arisen as a result of Sunday's events is the banning of marches. This was introduced in the days when the Government were concerned about the Orange marches going through parts of Belfast which were provocative. If this is broken by the Civil Rights Movement, will it be broken by the Orangemen? In particular, we should like the Government clearly to state their views—we are trying to be helpful in this matter—concerning the march which is to take place at Newry on Saturday. Is it the case—this is not an Orange march—that there is selection by the security forces who state that people may march so far, but not beyond? It is important to get this absolutely clear, because this form of political Russian roulette which results from marches is extremely dangerous. I hope that the Government will give their view.

In the Motion I refer to the need for urgency in Government policy on security decisions and talks leading to a political settlement. I think that we can take the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in November as the turning point. He then made a series of proposals which, it was agreed on all sides, raised the level of the discussion. It broadened the political horizon. One often finds it being quoted, even by Members on the Government benches.

There is no need to go into all that my right hon. Friend said, but I should mention that, when he said that he sought a political solution not by violence and that the violence should be rooted out before the proposals were put into effect, he did not mean there should not be discussions straightaway which could be implemented at the right moment.

We accept that a list of proposals is not enough. Policy implementation is for the Government. It is where the politician who has the levers of Government at his control comes in. Only members of the Government can take political initiatives. Of course, all the points of a policy need to be fully orchestrated. It is not just a package deal; it is the way in which the policy is outlined.

It would be a mistake to have policy decisions coming out in dribs and drabs reacting to events. It is important that security should be transferred to West minster. It is important that, from a part of the United Kingdom, there should be this transference to Westminster.

This is not new. My right hon.

Friend, on 25th November, stated: …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". —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th Nov., 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1586–7.] How is security control exercised now? That is important and relevant in the context of Sunday. As I understand it, from the statement of the Prime Minister in October, there is a Committee chaired by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. The members are the Minister of State and the senior Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the G.O.C., the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Secretary of the Northern Ireland Cabinet, the Government security adviser and the United Kingdom representative. We are interested to know because it is relevant, despite the inquiry—because it is a policy decision with which we are concerned—as to what happened on Sunday.

Was a decision made at Westminster before Sunday that the troops should go into the Bogside and into the Creggan, where there has been practically no movement by the security forces for some time? In the law and order sense of the term, it has been a no man's land. Was a decision taken to go into an area where Government writ does not run? Was the opportunity taken because of the march, which had arisen obviously for other reasons, to begin moving into the Bogside to deal with that area in the way that similar areas had already been dealt with in Belfast? This is important and will be important in relation to the events that took place on the day. It is the belief of many in Londonderry that this is so. I have a telegram from a very eminent Catholic who played a major part in the life of the city until internment. The telegram states: Can assure you Army shooting was planned. Indiscriminate. Designed to teach Bogside a lesson. It is important that if feelings and beliefs like that are not true, people should be disabused of them.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

Did the hon. Gentleman say that that telegram came from a person who is now interned? If so, how did he know?

Mr. Rees

I did not say that. I said that until internment he played a major part in the life of the city.

In the context of security, I ask the Minister to explain to us again the rôle of the Army. I have attempted to put my mind to this matter. I have been on patrol with the paratroopers in Belfast, with three other hon. Members, at night—I am very glad that it was at night. It is a job that I should not want. But the responsibility—not in the technical sense of the term in which I have been asking about security—ultimately is ours. As far as I can see, with limited military knowledge, in the strictly military sense of the term the Army could stay there for years. But in the internal security rôle played by the Army in Ulster—not in a colonial territory where the terrain is different; it is impossible enough there—it seems that we give the Army a task almost impossible to perform.

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

You sent them there.

Mr. Rees

I agree that the Government of the day sent them there. I do not seek to play clever stuff on this matter. The Army was sent there by the previous Administration, and all of us have a responsibility in this sense. So we seek information from the Government about the Army's rôle.

I come to policy generally. When my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made his speech, he made certain proposals that were received well by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. Why has there been a delay of nine weeks in the inter-party talks at Westminster?

Captain Orr

I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman, but this is an important point. I am trying to understand the argument about the transfer of security. Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that subject, can he say whether he envisages in that proposition that, for example, control of the Royal Ulster Constabulary should now become the responsibility of the Home Secretary rather than a police authority?

Mr. Rees

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition will deal with that point and develop the point I have already made.

Turning to the talks, why was there a delay of nine weeks, when even in the months before November there was talk and eventually the recall of Parliament. The Home Secretary has made it clear on a number of occasions that all matters can be discussed; the new rôle for the minority, and the economic development, about which not nearly enough has been said. The Prime Minister is reported to have said in Paris that the Northern Ireland troubles would be far, far less if we had gone in to the E.E.C. in 1961. With the Government's enthusiasm for the E.E.C., I am wondering whether any thought has been given to co-operation between Eire and the United Kingdom and the Northern Ireland part of it, especially in the context of regional development. This is most important. All of us could get involved with it.

When we see two countries close together, with the need for regional development on either side, and with an artificial border laid down 50 years ago having an effect on the economy—this is true of Londonderry—at the very least the Governments could get together economically and make an eventual improvement in the relationship between the two sides of the border. I agree that that is a long-term suggestion.

Internment is an important issue. We debated this in November. The Government have said that internment can be part of the discussion. But, in advance of this, the Government should have responded to all the various ideas that were put forward by lawyers and others for bringing internment, as it is, within the rule of law. Many suggestions were put forward in November. The Northern Ireland Labour Party has put forward its proposals. But unless something is done about the rule of law and internment, it will be impossible for many people in Northern Ireland—and we sometimes forget the emotion on that side of the water—to play a part in any discussions. If the Government have given thought to this, with all the difficulties of internment, it would have been possible, and still is possible, to find a means of dealing with this and of bringing the S.D.L.P. in this instance into the talks.

When talking about Northern Ireland, there is always a tendency for all of us to state the obvious. One such obvious statement is that there is no easy or clear cut logical solution at hand. We are used to compromise in our political relationships. That seems to have gone altogether in Northern Ireland. I do not underrate the difficulties. But given this situation, the Government have been dilatory. We criticise the Government. They have not responded to the gravity of events. Our concern is still for a peaceful settlement. We reject the rule of the gun on either side.

Too often moderate opinion on either side is polarised to a degree that one wonders whether one will ever be able to move it back to moderation. Even in this country among people of all political parties there has been a renewal of the attitude, "Let them get on with it; we have had enough". That is the polarisation on this side of the water that one finds on the other side as well. We criticise the Government's lack of urgency and, in the words of the Motion— The deteriorating situation …and the need for urgency in Government policy on security decisions and talks leading to a political settlement. We want to hear this afternoon, not just because of Sunday which, tragic though it is, is one of a series of tragic events, that the Government will take a political initiative.

4.50 p.m.

The Minister of State for Defence (Lord Balniel)

I begin by saying how very much I appreciate the general tone and manner of the speech made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees).

There has been widespread distress, anxiety and emotion over the events in Londonderry last Sunday. The reports of events conflict wildly. My right hon. Friend explained yesterday that the march had been organised in deliberate defiance of the legal order which banned it. It culminated in an exchange of fire that led to a number of people being killed and injured, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced today the Government's decision to set up a highly authoritative independent inquiry into the circumstances of the march and the casualties which resulted. Our broad purpose is to establish as impartially and as speedily as possible the facts of the situation. I echo the words of the hon. Member for Leeds, South, that we very much hope that all who have made allegations will find it possible to attend and give evidence before this impartial inquiry.

In normal circumstances one could well claim that, since an inquiry is to be set up, it would be better that nothing should be said at this stage which might seem to prejudge what the findings of the inquiry will be. But, as the House knows, there has been a series of reports involving the most serious allegations against the Army's conduct. It is conceivable, although I much hope that it will not prove to be the case, that these allegations will be given further currency during the course of the debate.

I think, therefore, that it is right for me to set out in good faith the facts as I know them, although I realise that the facts as I know them conflict with the statements which have been made by other people. It is right because, however urgently the inquiry is conducted, some time is bound to elapse before the evidence can be collected and weighed. It is not right that the Army's case should go by default when bitter, intemperate and, to the best of my belief, inaccurate or untrue statements have been made against it. It would be grossly unfair to the Forces who are in Northern Ireland. We must also recognise that the I.R.A. is waging a war, not only of bullets and bombs but of words. It is waging a highly skilled war of propaganda, in which corpses, the unutterable sadness of relatives, the confusion, the gullibility and the downright lies are all brought into play. If the I.R.A. is allowed to win this war I shudder to think what will be the future of the people living in Northern Ireland.

To allow the Army's case to go by default would be to allow to go by default the case of the very people whose sole purpose is to prevent Northern Ireland sliding into civil war.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

The whole House will respect and understand the noble Lord's wish to see that the Army's case is put forward so that to use his own words, "its case should not go by default". I ask him to be cautious in the next stage of his speech. The Lord Chief Justice of England has been appointed, as announced by the Prime Minister, took into these events. Does the noble Lord realise that if he, with the best will in the world, puts forward one case, this will be bound to spark off somebody else to put a contrary view. There may be some who might be thought to do a disservice in prejudging and being irresponsible in so doing, but we expect from the tribunal the highest possible judicial standards.

Lord Balniel

I fully appreciate the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made. Allegations have been made which must be looked into by the inquiry. I have explained why, after the most careful consideration, I have felt it right not to allow the factual statement—and I will put it in as temperate and careful terms as I can—to go by default. I consider that it is my duty to put forward the facts. The security forces are trying to fulfil their task—

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)


Lord Balniel

I have given way once. The security forces—

Mr. Abse

The noble Lord, apparently, is going to give what he claims is a factual account of the knowledge in his possession. Does he not appreciate that, inevitably, once the announcement is made about the tribunal, everybody by the law of contempt would be silent? His statement now, pre-empting the situation—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. I hope the hon. Gentleman will realise that the tribunal has not yet been set up. I hope also that the whole House will realise the shortness of time available for this debate and will allow the debate to continue. Lord Balniel.

Mr. Abse


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Abse

The noble Lord gave way to me.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hoped that I had made clear to the hon. Gentleman that the point which he was on was not in order. Lord Balniel.

Mr. Abse

I was putting to the noble Lord the fact that once it has been announced that there is to be a tribunal everybody will be silenced. Does not the noble Lord appreciate that in making a statement now he will spread the impression throughout the world that the Government are pre-empting the situation and giving a direction to the Lord Chief Justice as to what are the facts? Is not this a disastrous course to take?

Lord Balniel

The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. No one is silenced, anyone can express his views in the debate, and the Motion has not yet been put before the House. Therefore, I am perfectly entitled to put the facts as I know them.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

Under the law a tribunal is not a court of justice and no one is precluded from making any comment he wishes to make. whether or not the tribunal is set up.

Lord Balniel

The security forces are trying to fulfil their task in incredibly difficult circumstances under orders to use no more force than is necessary to preserve law and order. In the process of using minimum force they have suffered many casualties and death. This weekend, for instance, another soldier died of his wounds.

The pattern of events in recent months has shown the continued ability of I.R.A. terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction. However, if we analyse the recent activities of bombers and gunners we do not see a picture of growing strength but rather one of growing desperation. The continuing build-up of information has enabled the security forces to form a clearer picture of the organisations, tactics and whereabouts of the I.R.A. This in turn has led to a significant increase in the number of arrests of wanted men and in the finds of arms, ammunition and explosives. Some areas of Belfast which were previously largely under terrorist domination have now become nearly trouble-free. In other areas where the I.R.A. has been particularly active in the past its command structure has been disrupted.

So the I.R.A. has changed its tactics. It has recently concentrated its efforts on what are described as the "soft", the "easy" targets; the police, or the Ulster Defence Regiment man in his home. Three policemen were murdered at the end of last week—one in Londonderry. Another policeman had his leg amputated today as a result of an explosion. The I.R.A. has also concentrated on hit-and-run attacks and ambushes from the safe haven across the border. We saw another attempt only last night. I.R.A. men have developed the deliberate use of crowd cover, either mixing themselves amongst demonstrations or causing explosions among the general public in shopping areas. From behind the general public, who are, of course, often quite innocent of any evil intention, they mount attacks against the security forces. This is a new pattern of I.R.A. techniques.

Civil rights marches suit the I.R.A.'s tactics and purposes well—not just because of their propaganda value but also because they give it a chance to create trouble. After repeated appeals by Catholic leaders, from both North and South of the border, a six-month ban on marches was imposed by the Northern Ireland Government. The decision was taken with the full approval of the British Government. The Northern Ireland Government, again with the full approval of the British Government, have announced their intention to extend the ban. The reasons for the ban are obvious. Marches by whichever community are likely to be provocative, as we have seen in the past. They stir up counter-demonstrations and lead to outbreaks of inter-communal strife. The task of controlling marches diverts the security forces from what I regard as their priority task of hunting down the terrorists, and marches can be used as a screen behind which gunmen can operate.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Lord Balniel

I would rather get on with my speech, because this is a short debate.

It was known in advance that two attempts at marches were to be made during the past weekend. A statement issued by Army headquarters in Northern Ireland on Saturday emphasised the illegality of such attempts and that the responsibility rested with the organisers for any violence which resulted from them. The same afternoon, one attempt at an illegal march took place between Dungannon and Coalisland. The security forces used barriers to prevent the demonstrators from carrying out a successful march, and, mercifully, there were no serious disturbances.

I turn now to the events of Sunday afternoon in Londonderry. Intelligence information had given the security forces good reason to believe that the I.R.A. would exploit the opportunities afforded by the march and subsequent rioting to mount attacks on the security forces. Marchers began to gather in the Creggan, at about 2 p.m. By about 2.45, when they numbered about 800, they set off on a tour of the Creggan and Bogside, gradually building up their strength to about 3,000. The march was well marshalled at this stage.

Troops from the three resident Londonderry battalions were manning a number of barriers inside the edge of a Catholic area, and in particular in the area of William Street. The decision precisely when and where to intervene in an illegal march in order to frustrate it is a matter for the commander on the spot. In this case, no action was to be taken against the marchers unless they tried to break through barriers or to direct violence against the troops.

The marchers reached the barrier in William Street, east of the junction with Rossville Street, just before 3.40. There was a brief discussion between the march leaders, the Army and the R.U.C. The leaders began to move off, but stewards were unable to keep control and large groups of trouble-makers started to throw stones, bottles, steel bars, and other Missiles—including canisters of CS—at the troops manning the barriers in the area. Water cannon were used, and the bulk of the crowd moved back to the open ground around Rossville Street, leaving behind a hooligan element still attacking troops at the barriers. At this stage troops used CS and rubber bullets against the rioters.

By five minutes past four the crowd in Rossville Street was largely dispersing. There was clear separation between the rioters at the barricades and the remaining marchers in the area. There had, however, already been two incidents foreshadowing the terrorist violence which was to come. At 3.55 a high-velocity round was fired across William Street from the direction of the Rossville Flats, striking a drainpipe four feet above the heads of a party of soldiers. A few moments later, a man was seen preparing to light a nail bomb in William Street; he was shot as he prepared to throw, was seen to fall, and was dragged away by his fellows.

Between 4.5 and 4.10, the brigade commander ordered the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, to launch an arrest operation against the rioters, who, as I have said, were well separated from the marchers. These rioters were flagrantly breaking the law; hurling missiles at the troops and establishing a degree of violence which was quite unacceptable. The level of their violence was highly dangerous to the police and the Army.

The hon. Member for Leeds, South asked about the responsibility for the decision to arrest. The arrest operation was discussed by the Joint Security Council after decisions had been taken by Ministers here. Where the barricades are actually placed is a matter for the operational commanders on the spot.

The Parachute Regiment, the Belfast reserve battalion, had been deployed to Londonderry as a precaution, and had been kept behind the line of barriers for use in this way in case it was needed. Three companies of soldiers therefore came through the barriers in William Street at about 4.15 p.m. They fired rubber bullets when necessary. It is the noise of these rubber-bullet firings which, incidentally, I believe is the reason why many of the marchers who were well away from the area believed that the Army opened fire first.

Two companies made a number of arrests. One company found the rioters it intended to arrest withdrawing towards Rossville flats and followed them in armoured vehicles towards those buildings. On the way, three rounds struck one vehicle, and a burst of about 15 rounds from a sub-machine gun struck the ground just a few yards away from a group of soldiers as they got out of their vehicle.

The soldiers continued to arrest the rioters whom they had chased. They arrested about 28 in a matter of a few minutes. At the same time, they came under fire from gunmen, nail bombers and petrol bombers, some in the flats and some at ground level. Between 4.17 and 4.35 p.m., a number of these men were engaged. Some gunmen and bombers were certainly hit and some almost certainly killed. In each case, soldiers fired aimed shots at men identified as gunmen or bombers. They fired in self-defence or in defence of their comrades who were threatened. I reject entirely the suggestion that they fired indiscriminately or that they fired into a peaceful and innocent crowd—[Interruption.] I also reject—

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)


Lord Balniel

I also reject utterly the slurs made on the Parachute Regiment—

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. I think that it must be clear to hon. Members that the right hon. Gentleman has not given way.

Mr. Rose

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With great respect to you, a tribunal of inquiry has been set up. Is not the Minister entirely preempting—[Interruption.] Perhaps right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to hear the truth from the tribunal of inquiry—[Interruption.] I shall not sit down until I have made my point of order, so perhaps right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will be quiet. Is not the right hon. Gentleman entirely pre-empting that tribunal of inquiry by giving his own highly coloured account, which is quite contrary to the accounts published by independent observers in at least 12 newspapers on this side and on the other side of the Irish Sea?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hope that the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) will have heard that, technically, the tribunal to which he has referred will be set up by this House presumably later tonight. I hope that the House will wish to hear whatever expressions of opinion may be called during this very short debate.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the whole House wants to get on with this short debate, and I know that many hon. Members want to speak. But may I make this appeal to the right hon. Gentleman? Whether or not the tribunal has been technically set up, if its report is to carry any conviction—and it is vitally important to save more lives that it does—is not it essential that the right hon. Gentleman brings this part of his speech to an end as quickly as possible?

Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)


Lord Balniel

I do not accept the hypothesis on which—

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If we are having a debate on this subject at all, surely it cannot be out of order for us to have a full factual statement from the Minister responsible for the Army. If we cannot have that, we cannot have a debate.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the right hon. Gentleman is giving us the Army's version, will he include the statement that General Ford made on the 9 o'clock news on Sunday night and the statement of a lieutenant-colonel of the Parachute Regiment which contradict what the right hon. Gentleman has said today?

Lord Balniel

With respect, these continual points of order are stopping me from concluding my speech, which I was about to do in literally a moment or two.

I thought it right to refer to the slurs which have been made on the Parachute Regiment—

Mr. Frank McManus (Fermanagh and Co. Tyrone)

On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman is giving the Government's view of the events in Derry. Does he accept, when he does that, that most hon. Members on this side of the House will wonder why the Government have set up a tribunal of inquiry at all?

Lord Balniel

In the past week or two, we have heard suggestions that the Parachute Regiment is rather rougher and less sensitive to the needs of the situation than other soldiers—

Mr. Abse

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is clear from the announcement which has been made that a tribunal is to be set up. We have heard that evidence is to be submitted to it. Is not the action of the Minister of State totally discrediting belief in that tribunal, when a definitive Government statement is put forward about these events? This is the way to ruin—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) knows that that is not a point of order.

Lord Balniel

Clearly, the tribunal will examine all the evidence that it considers necessary for the conclusion of its task.

I was about to say that there has been a sustained campaign against the Parachute Regiment in the last week or two. Suggestions have been made that soldiers in that regiment are less sensitive to the needs of the situation than other troops. We have heard suggestions that their discipline broke down over the weekend. I believe both those suggestions to be totally without foundation. In fact, they are part of a deliberate propaganda campaign to vilify individual regiments. At one time, the vilification campaign was directed against the Scottish regiments. At the moment, it is being directed against the Parachute Regiment.

The soldiers in that regiment are in fact a very experienced battalion, having been in Northern Ireland since September, 1970. They have nearly completed their tour of duty as one of the resident battalions. They are more experienced than most soldiers in Northern Ireland, and they are very well versed in the circumstances under which troops may open fire. They are well-disciplined, and their commander and the Government have every confidence in them.

In a debate on very serious matters of this sort, it is worth mentioning, although it may sound trivial, that this battalion has an excellent reputation for establishing good community relations—

Mr. Rose


Lord Balniel

Its soldiers are, for example, paying out of their own savings for a holiday abroad for a hundred poor Protestant and Catholic children. That may sound trivial, but it reflects great credit on the men concerned.

I end by repeating what my colleagues and I have said repeatedly. The Government do not believe that a purely military solution is possible to the problems of Northern Ireland. We must get on with the talking, and the key to talks lies in the hands of leaders of the Catholic community in Northern Ireland. When they are ready to enter into discussions without rigid preconditions, we are ready likewise to do so.

Meanwhile, the Services have the unenviable and dangerous task of helping to restore law and order. I believe that almost everyone in the country recognises that amongst all the horror, death and misery, amongst all the confusion and hatred, the Army has conducted itself with great skill and restraint in one of the saddest phases in the history of Northern Ireland.

5.20 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

I intend to be very brief and raise only two points, one dealing with the tribunal, the other with the current political situation. If there is one thing which should unite the whole House it is the statement that we should dispassionately and impartially establish the true facts about what happened on Sunday last.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

And back the Army.

Mr. Thorpe

I repeat what I said for the edification of the hon. and gallant Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) and I hope that he will subscribe to it. We should impartially and dispassionately establish what happened last Sunday. By that I mean that we should not pass judgment or counter-judgment on any particular group of persons involved. If there are any hon. or right hon. Gentlemen who believe that the facts are established beyond any doubt I hope that they will vote against the setting up of an inquiry tonight. That is the logic of their belief. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman, with all the authority of the 1922 Committee behind him can already say with complete certitude what happened on that Sunday, and what conclusions may be drawn I hope that he will dissociate himself with the conviction and sincerity we know he practices, and I mean that genuinely, from the Prime Minister and his other hon. and right hon. Friends in setting up this inquiry.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Having had a son who was deeply involved in an incident in Cyprus some years ago called the Gunyeli incident I think I know why it is necessary in this instance to set up an inquiry. In the meantime, let us back the Army.

Mr. Thorpe

I do not want to continue—[Interruption.] At least in regard to Rhodesia my loyalty to the Crown has never been in doubt, nor in Northern Ireland. For once in my life may I recommend that in preference to the position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, hon. Member's should adhere to the position taken by the Prime Minister this afternoon—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) would contain himself for a moment it would assist. The position of the Prime Minister was if I may say so wholly correct. When he was asked to express an opinion on certain charges or counter-charges he said—I am paraphrasing him and if I am inaccurate I withdraw and apologise: These are matters which it would be better to leave to the inquiry". I would respectfully agree and I believe that should be the tenor of this debate. If it happened that one side or another has been wrongly blamed and charges have been made which are unsubstantiated then there is no person in whom I have greater confidence than the Lord Chief Justice of England. I hope that in the debate we will not follow the example of the Minister of State whose motives, however, I can completely understand, and we will not use this as an occasion for giving evidence on a matter which should more properly be left to the inquiry.

May I make two technical points on the inquiry. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), whose period of retirement from the Bar is of even longer duration than mine, has, as perhaps one would expect, allowed his prejudice to overcome his legal knowledge. If we look at the 1921 Act there is no question that the tribunal under Section 1: …shall have all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court, or in Scotland the Court of Session, or a judge of either such court, on…the following matters. Those matters are then set out and I will not rehearse them, but in effect they give the powers of a Court of Record to it in regard to subpoenaing witnesses and the law of contempt. To say that the tribunal is not on all fours with the High Court is something about which I hope at the end of this debate only the hon. and learned Member will have any doubt.

Mr. Paget

It is perfectly true that the Tribunals of Inquiry Act gives the tribunal, whether or not it includes a judge, powers to subpoena, to inquire and call upon witnesses. It provides nothing whatever which precludes anyone from commenting on matters which are the subject of the inquiry during the inquiry. It has happened constantly during other inquiries and will doubtless continue during this one.

Mr. Thorpe

I do not want to delay the House. I will only refer the hon. and learned Gentleman to Section 1(2)(c): If any person does any other thing which would, if the tribunal had been a court of law having power to permit contempt, have been contempt of that court…the chairman of the tribunal may certify the offence of that person under his hand to the High Court… It is therefore on all fours with the High Court and it is just as impossible to make comment on these matters when the matter is sub judice as if it were before an ordinary High Court judge.

The second point I wish to make—and the only other one about the tribunal—is that those who refuse to give evidence to the tribunal may be subpoenaed. They may be subject to all the same penalties as any witness who has so refused before a High Court judge. If a large section of the community decides to boycott this tribunal, and I hope it does not, the tribunal will be possessed of powers which it will be impossible to implement and therefore it will itself come into contempt.

It is for that reason, because I believe the tribunal is the proper way to approach the matter, because I have the highest respect for and confidence in the Lord Chief Justice who is not only a distinguished judge but a person who comes from my part of the world and indeed takes his territorial designation from my constituency, that I believe it is important that he should be so supplemented in the judicial task which he has to discharge as to give the widest possible confidence to the world at large and to make it virtually impossible for anyone in good conscience to refuse to appear before the tribunal. It is no good the Government saying that they will leave it to the Lord Chief Justice. The Government have recently manifested this new-found passion for shelving off, pushing on to the shoulders of eminent judges, what are basically political decisions, whether it be Lord Pearce or now Lord Widgery.

The only point I wish to make about the tribunal is that it seems of the very essence that there should be two assessors, not because Lord Widgery is unable to discharge this task but because politically the tribunal has to be widely accepted. If the Government should on reflection change their view we will not say. "We told you so, why did you not do it the first time?" I want this tribunal to be a success and I honestly believe that unless we have those outside assessors the chances of acceptance are greatly reduced. I do not want to see those chances reduced, I want to see them enhanced.

There is no doubt that we have to take the political initiative in Ireland. It is no good saying today that it ought to have been done 5, 10 or 50 years ago, however tempting. We all know that, and collectively this House must bear the responsibility and some, alas, must bear it more than others. Nor should we bring forward political initiatives merely in response to particular acts of violence or cases of bloodshed. But I do get the feeling that the Government have ploughed into the sand. The most difficult thing is to suggest what new initiative could be taken.

I want to put forward one or two things which I hope the Government will consider. First I do not believe that in a situation in which United Kingdom troops are permanently stationed in part of the United Kingdom any other group of persons should be responsible for what is happening other than the United Kingdom Parliament. The problem of security must be transferred to this House. It is fair to the Army to do so, and indeed I do not believe that it is fair to the Stormont Government to continue the present situation. Secondly if there is a Secretary of State for Wales and one for Scotland I cannot believe that it is right that there is no Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who is full-time charged with responsibilities for the Province. With the best will in the world, the Home Secretary has multifarious responsibilities, and there should be a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with an advisory committee representative of all shades of opinion both in Northern Ireland and in this House.

If there are those left in Northern Ireland who are prepared to make a system of parliamentary government work, and that is a big "if", then I believe that in the present crisis situation we must consider the idea of having an all-party government in Northern Ireland. [Interruption.] It is all very well for some hon. Members to say "Oh dear", but at a time when people are being shot and we have virtually a state of civil war in a part of the United Kingdom, anything must be tried, particularly when everything else has so far failed.

Only one country has tried this. In Switzerland there is a guaranteed percentage of places for each of the major political interests represented in the Confederation. To a lesser extent it happens in the Lebanon, where certain religious interests have a guaranteed right of representation. I trust that this idea will not be turned down out of hand.

I further believe that we must have a system in which minorities have a guaranteed right of representation in relation to their strength in the Province. It is no coincidence that a system of proportional representation was written into the 1920 Constitution. It is no surprise that the predominantly Protestant Shankill area regularly returned two Protestants and one Catholic at the local government level and that in the Catholic Falls Road area there were returned two Catholics and one Protestant at the local government level. This occurred because minorities had rights and there was an interaction between the two communities. These are the sort of political initiatives that we must consider immediately.

I support what the Prime Minister said in his speech at the Guildhall—though it has received too little publicity—that we should not rule out the possibility that one day there may be a move towards a united Ireland but that that could not come about without the wholehearted consent of the Protestant minority in the North—I am, of course, speaking of "minority" in an all-Ireland sense—and without the conscious will of the majorities in both halves of the country.

I would not recommend someone in Northern Ireland to vote for unity unless he or she could see a rising standard of living in the South, with social legislation comparable to that enjoyed in the North. These things provide a challenge to both halves of the country.

I say to the civil rights movement, with whose objectives I have very much sympathy, just as much as I say to the extreme Protestant organisations, that whatever may be the feelings of political repression, I cannot believe that in this situation the right to march is one of the basic fundamental issues that must be defended at all costs, particularly when it involves an escalation of force and an increase in tension between the two communities. I would have thought that that was perhaps one aspect of political life which we could temporarily do without.

I conclude by again making it clear that I want this tribunal to be a success. I therefore want it to be able to approach its deliberations in a judicial atmosphere, and not after this House has put the case for or against one side or the other. I want it to be accepted and therefore I want the Lord Chief Justice to have the advantage of two assessors.

We must take the political initiative. I want to see the idea of talks, which was put forward by the Leader of the Opposition—his idea does not seem to have made much progress after nine weeks—fully examined and I do not want to see any political initiative turned down on the old English basis that it has not been tried or thought of before. This is the time for ingenuity and initiative and for people of goodwill. Whatever the initiative, it may fail, but at least we can say that we tried.

5.36 p.m.

Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)

If all the speeches that are made in this debate from the benches opposite are conducted with such studied moderation as that made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees), this debate will do no harm and may do some good.

However, I wish to make it clear in all humility that when one begins to think that one understands the position in Northern Ireland, that is the time to start all over again. Although I am of Northern Ireland, I have started all over again many times.

Earlier this afternoon I asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister where the tribunal was likely to sit. I asked that question because I have today received from constituents a number of messages which give me great cause for concern. They are to the effect that Londonderry is today in the grip of terror and intimidation on a scale it has never before known, though I am bound to say that there has been terror and intimidation there before. I repeat, however, that it has not existed to the extent that it prevails this afternoon.

I am told that anyone who opens his shop there is threatened, that many Roman Catholics who are trying to get to work are being intimated by the I.R.A., that the banks are closed, that many post offices have also shut their doors—possibly all of them have closed; I have not had an opportunity to check—that the telephone exchange has closed, that old age pensioners have been unable to collect their pensions because the money has not been delivered to the sub-offices, and that the Crown buildings closed early yesterday. That follows the state of intimidation which I saw for myself last weekend in Londonderry but which is even worse now.

I therefore wonder whether the House really believes that an inquiry of this kind can be conducted in such an atmosphere and whether witnesses will be safe from intimidation. This is an extremely important matter which I trust will receive the urgent attention of the Government.

Speed in this case is essential. This inquiry is quite different from the Scarman Tribunal. It is true that that has taken a very long time and I agree that Mr. Justice Scarman is acting alone, a point that was made by the Leader of the Opposition. However, he has been dealing with many aspects and inquiring into many different occasions and events over a number of years.

In this case Lord Widgery will be inquiring into one event which occurred on one particular day, although there may be occasion for him to inquire into some things that happened a few days before. I therefore do not anticipate the same sort of delay in this case.

I have not had time to examine the Act, but I earnestly hope that the evidence will not be reproduced in the newspapers, because from such publicity in the case of the Scarman Commission came the most sectarian business, and the delay in that case has produced a great deal of bitterness, so that when we finally get the findings they will be largely irrelevant to the present situation and will only recall many unpleasant memories for many people.

I do not wish to anticipate the next debate, though it may help to economise on time if I ask now how far, if the tribunal is held in private, those giving evidence will be entitled, as it were unilaterally, to publish their evidence. This is an important question for the reasons I have given.

I do not know whether this applies to this tribunal or to some other investigation, but I should like to be assured that a full inquiry will take place not only into the motives of the marchers but into why an illegal march was planned and executed in defiance of a ban imposed on all marches and which I understand had the backing of all three sides of the political spectrum in this country, and presumably of Dublin as well. It is a fair question, especially when one is being asked about the transfer of security from Stormont to this House, to ask the Opposition, since they have approved an overall ban on all parties over this period, and given the situation in Londonderry on Sunday, what their orders would have been to the troops—what they would have expected the troops to do in those circumstances.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Can my Friend explain why it is, when marches are illegal, that they are advertised in the public Press?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

That is a point well worth looking into. I am afraid that I could not tell my hon. Friend—[Laughter.]' Hon. Members may laugh, but this is clearly a very serious matter. I did not see any of these marches advertised in the public Press, but this is something which should be looked into. I hope that the Civil Rights Association, as it was formerly called, will be examined to see just how far it has been infiltrated and how far the same personnel exists in it as in the leadership of the I.R.A.

Will the tribunal have sufficient powers to consider the evidence of certainly carefully selected reporters who were bidden to a Press conference given by both wings of the I.R.A. subsequent to the events of Sunday? They were called to the Bogside, where the Press conference was held in a room which, according to one newspaper report at least, was stacked with rifles. I hope that that will be taken into account by the tribunal as well.

I accept that, when death occurs on such a tragic scale—these were my constituents—an inquiry is inevitable, but I would also point out that all inquiries of such a nature must have some effect at least upon the morale of the soldiers—not just of those involved in the particular incident, but of all soldiers in Northern Ireland.

Also, perhaps, one needs a little more detailed assurance than the Prime Minister was able to give this afternoon in answer to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) that it will not affect the orders that the troops will have about, say, next Saturday's march in Newry, which is a very worrying occasion, that no amendment has been made to their orders or to the form that those orders took up to last Sunday. We need an assurance that our troops will not be inhibited in defending themselves and law-abiding citizens. Nor must they be prevented from taking the initiative in the struggle against the I.R.A. when opportunity offers, if it does.

Whatever may come of this inquiry, there are thousands upon thousands of law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland who will never, as long as they live, forget the courage and humanity shown by both the police and the troops in the last two years or more. Most of them feel that they owe a debt of gratitude to the security forces in general which can never properly be repaid.

Nor have they forgotten—I hope that I will not be called contentious for saying this—that it was one of those same paratroopers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) reminded us yesterday, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for saving the lives of Ulster children.

Mr. Orme

Having said that, could the hon. Gentleman tell us whether, in 1969, he advocated the British Army going into Northern Ireland at the behest of the Labour Government to protect the people of the Bogside?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

So far as I remember—I remember it pretty well, because I was pretty deeply involved—the Army went in at the request of the Northern Ireland Government, to aid the civil power. Those are the facts of the situation.

There is one question that one is bound to ask about Sunday's events. Enormous numbers of allegations have been made, in some cases by eye witnesses and in some cases by journalists, who seem to have been almost exclusively on the civil rights side of the barricade. Was there really none or virtually none on the troops' side behind the barricades, to see what was going on there? I can see that this would be difficult to arrange. Naturally, troops do not want journalists and reporters in among them at a difficult time like this when there is danger to life.

Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)

We appreciate the point—we have read the newspaper reports—but did not the hon. Gentleman see that the television cameras of the B.B.C. and the I.T.V. were obviously behind the barricades? We saw the whole of the action from behind the barricades: we could not have seen it more clearly.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I did not see an enormous amount of television; I was listening to the radio on the particular day—but from many quarters I heard that the difference between the version shown on Independent Television and that shown by the British Broadcasting Corporation was very marked indeed. I will not elaborate that any further. Most of my hon. Friends know what I am talking about.

I should have thought that this was something which the authorities could have foreseen, that they could have arranged adequate coverage by reporters with the troops—

Mr. Rose

There were.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I wish that the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), who has a considerable responsibility for what has happened in Northern Ireland—

Mr. Rose


Mr. Chichester-Clark

I will not give way.

Mr. Rose

The hon. Gentleman has made a personal attack—

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I am not giving way.

Mr. Rose


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)


Mr. Rose

The hon. Gentleman made an attack—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that all hon. Gentlemen will remember that very many people hope to take part in this very short debate.

Mr. Chichester-Clark


Mr. Rose


Mr. Chichester-Clark

I give way very freely in this House. If I am allowed to finish my speech, the hon. Gentleman will have ample opportunity.

Mr. Rose

The hon. Gentleman made a personal attack.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I have been attacked by the hon. Gentleman many times, so he need not—

Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not in order for an hon. Member who makes a personal attack on another hon. Member to give way? On the occasion of the last debate, the hon. Member in question made a personal attack on the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and I had to intervene then on the hon. Gentleman's behalf. I intervene now on behalf of my hon. Friend—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that hon. Members will know that it rests with the hon. Members concerned.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

In the circumstances, I will allow the hon. Gentleman to intervene.

Mr. Rose

I am very grateful to the hon. Member. He knows that I have a very deep respect for him. That is said in all sincerity, because he is one of those people who has been very concerned about this. But the hon. Gentleman knows that, when we raised these matters seven years ago, he and his hon. Friends told us, "There is nothing wrong in Northern Ireland. The responsibility is not ours. They will not listen to us."

Did not the hon. Gentleman see the report in The Times yesterday by Brian Cashinella and John Chartres, which said: A photographer who was directly behind the parachutists when they jumped down from their armoured cars said, 'I was appalled. They opened up into a group of people. As far as I could see, they did not fire over people's heads at all.'"? The hon. Gentleman should watch television and read the Press—all of it.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The hon. Member should read some of my speeches in 1964 and 1965. I was the first person and the most frequent to say over and over again that the answer to discrimination in Northern Ireland was to provide houses and jobs, that, while there was a shortage of both, there would never be an end to discrimination. The words that I used earlier—carefully—were not that there were no journalists with the troops but that they seemed to be almost exclusively on the other side of the barricades, and I adhere to that belief.

I am sorry that that happened. I should have thought that, with the lessons of 1968 behind us, what happened to the morale of the R.U.C. as a result of the persistent vilification and propaganda against them might have been taken on board now, and that we might have expected the same thing to have happened to the Army as happened to the R.U.C.

We have heard something about talks and I dare say that we shall be hearing more. The Home Secretary has said more than once how much he would welcome round table talks. The Northern Ireland Government have announced over and over again that they wish that everyone concerned, in the Opposition in particular, would come to the conference table. Indeed, they have said that it is in the paramount interest of saving life to do so, and I echo that.

If such talks are held, I am very willing to take part. I should go into them making it clear that I was not interested in any solution which meant that the citizens of Northern Ireland should no longer eventually find themselves part of the United Kingdom. I should go into the talks saying so, and I have no doubt that I should come out of them saying the same thing. I make that clear. But that does not preclude my taking part in talks; nor does it preclude my hon. Friends. That seems to me a not unreasonable attitude, which might perhaps set an example to other quarters.

There is an ample list which needs to be talked about in relation to the whole Northern Ireland situation. We all have our own solutions. I have my own ideas of what the solution might be. But these are ideas that I should be hesistant to put in public now because I know what happens to ideas when they are put out in public now. They are seized upon by one person or another—particularly one whom I shall not name—to take up a new political posture in order to escalate their demands, so any initiative is almost immediately smothered as soon as it is made. There are great dangers—not for me but for some other people—in making public pronouncements.

One remembers what came to be known as "that programme" just after Christmas. I refused to take part because I did not believe in instant political postures taken up for the benefit of a television public. Nor do I believe it now. I have never felt more amply justified than when I watched that programme and saw the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) pinned like a butterfly to a board in a posture from which he will find great difficulty in extricating himself.

That is why in my view talks are so vital in private, even if—I say this advisedly—in taking part in them some of those who do take part incur the distrust of some of their following. I think that they have in these circumstances to be responsible enough to be prepared to incur that distrust, if necessary it is.

Who is to go to these talks? I make it clear that it is ludicrous, although it has got abroad to a great extent, of the hon. Member for Belfast, West to claim that his party represents 40 per cent. of the people of Northern Ireland. It does not—there can be no doubt about that. There is great distrust of his party among the minority. We hear very often the phrase, "The silent majority". I think this House should be reminded that in Northern Ireland there is also a silent minority, and it may be that if we can get them past the barriers of intimidation they have a great deal more to offer than all the mob orators from whom we have heard so far. I say again to those who really want to save life in Northern Ireland that they have a duty to enter into private talks at once. I for my part am very willing to do so.

6.53 p.m.

Miss Bernadette Devlin (Mid-Ulster)

When opening the debate for the Government, the Minister of State for Defence produced what he said was a statement. Many hon. Members were annoyed that he should make a statement of fact and at the same time set up a tribunal. Nevertheless, he put forward the Army's view point as fact. He was not in the City of Derry on Sunday. I was. I therefore make no apology for putting my side of the story beside the story of the people who took part in the march and for questioning a number of the facts put forward by the Minister today.

The Minister said, presumably on the authority of the Army, that approximately at 2 o'clock some 800 people gathered in the Bishopfields and that when they started to make their way down towards Rossville Street there might have been 3,000 of them. I know that it is against the rules of order to call a Minister a liar, and I do not propose to do so, but I wish to say that anyone watching either the B.B.C. or I.T.A. news broadcasts, which showed only a section of that crowd making its way down Creggan Hill, would be hard put to it to take at face value what the right hon. Gentleman has said and would ask whether a man entrusted with such a responsibility would not be better off learning to count before coming to this House with such a statement.

There were at least 15,000 unarmed, peaceful civilians at the demonstration on Sunday on the Creggan. Those 15,000 people were the friends, relatives or neighbours of 600 people interned in three concentration camps in the north of Ireland; they were the friends, relatives or neighbours of over 1,000 people held without trial in the gaols of the north of Ireland; they were perfectly well aware that there was a ban on parades and they did not pay any attention to it. Many of them had defied it before. All of them were prepared, if singled out by the authorities and convicted and sentenced, to face the six months' mandatory gaol sentence. None of them had been informed that overnight the death penalty had been imposed for breaking the ban on marches in Northern Ireland.

The march proceeded for a distance of between two and three miles before it was stopped by the Army. It was stopped in William Street, having come from the area known as Rossville Street corner. They came down the length of the street approaching William Street. There they were confronted by the usual Army barricade and there the usual confrontation broke out at the front.

The marchers were once again informed that the march was illegal. The organisers, as is the practice, went into consultation with the Army. A number of youths at the front threw stones and bricks at the Army, which was preventing them from going along William Street, All of that had become a normal daily occurrence in William Street, as is admitted by every section of the British Press. What the authorities call a riot but was, if anything. a confrontation was on a smaller scale than usual and certainly much smaller than would have been expected with a crowd of from 15,000 to 20,000 people. The reason for that was equally simple—there were so many people in the street that it was difficult at times to find where to put one's feet, never mind use one's arms to take any concerted action against the Army.

After several minutes of stone-throwing to and fro, the Army decided to disperse the crowd. This it did, once again in its usual fashion. Rubber bullets were fired into the crowd; CS gas was fired into the crowd. Then a water cannon spraying purple dye was brought up. People immediately panicked and ran. No one hangs around, as hon. Members know from their personal experience, when CS gas arrives on the scene. People know what it is like.

People flooded back into the Bogside down Rossville Street. The organisers decided to hold the meeting at Free Derry Corner at the opposite end of Rossville Street. A lorry to serve as a platform was drawn up against Free Derry wall, a white wall with the slogan "You are now entering Free Derry". Those members of the platform who intended to speak climbed on the lorry. The organisers then moved through the crowd calling on the people to assemble at that point and attend the meeting.

Several thousand, possibly 7,000 or 8,000, people were standing at the base of the lorry. The rest of the people were making their way towards that point. The number of people left in William Street was very small and still consisted mainly of young people, but there were several older people who were continuing to throw stones and bricks at the soldiers and running down the street when CS gas was fired and possibly running up again once the air had cleared.

The majority of the people had ceased marching and were making their way, as best as could 15,000 or 20,000, along the street to the meeting. There were no shots fired at the British Army. That will be the subject of an inquiry and there will be those who will not be members of either side, the Army or the Catholic population, but people representing the Press who were so appalled that they too were calling for an inquiry. They have stated their willingness to go before that inquiry and to tell what they saw, that the first shot fired came from the British Army, wounding a civilian below the knee.

That civilian was taken into a house where he was followed by a photographer. The photographer did not manage to get into the house before the Parachute Regiment came storming into the Bogside led by Saracen tanks from which they were firing and from behind which they were firing. At that time I was standing on a platform, as I said, at Derry Corner. Several people were standing in front of me. The meeting had just been opened and the chairman had passed the microphone to me, informing the crowd that I would be the first speaker.

The Minister of State for Defence has said that the rubber bullets might have been what caused the people to panic. We have heard so many of the CS gas canisters going off and so many shots being fired that a five-year-old child can tell not only what is a real bullet and what is a rubber bullet, but almost the calibre by the sound of the shot, so accustomed have the children become to the noise of the firing of guns. So what they heard and what we saw was not rubber bullets but the Parachute Regiment invading from the far end of Rossville Street, the Bogside area, and those people in front of me fleeing in panic and falling.

It was a sight I never want to see again: thousands and thousands of people lying flat on their faces on the ground. Immediately Mr. Ivan Cooper, a Member of Parliament in Stormont, threw Lord Brockway—who was also a speaker on the platform—to the ground and we all dived for cover. I was lying on my mouth and nose, and with the assistance of Mr. Cooper we continued as calmly as we could—which was not easy in the circumstances—to tell the people to keep their heads down and on no account to rise any higher than their knees but to crawl, crawl on the streets of their own city, on their hands and knees, out of the line of fire. That is what they did.

When I next raised my head to see what was happening, the people in front of us had dispersed, moved up the Lecky Road to the safety of the Meenan Gardens area, and the street in front of me was clear except for soldiers and scattered bodies of people, who probably never rose again but were carried away. We then got off the lorry, taking Lord Brockway first to safety, and then tried to calm and reassure hysterical women. Mr. Cooper then made his way back down to us where he himself became a target for the paratroopers as he attempted to move the wounded.

Whatever the reasons may be—and the permutations may be endless—I personally do not believe that the paratroops went berserk. I do not believe that a regiment like the British Parachute Regiment is trained and then goes berserk. It was a normal ordinary exercise to those men. I do not think they lost any night's sleep over it, but they fired into a crowd of unarmed civilians and thousands lay there.

Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss Devlin

The hon. Lady will not give way.

A young girl, no older than myself, asked if I had seen her brother. I had just been running to the hospital to find the list of the dead. I have done many things in my life, but I was not able to face that young girl and say "Your brother is lying in the morgue of Altnagelvin Hospital and you have to identify him". The Minister of State tells us that the paratroopers opened fire when shots were fired at them. Major-General Ford was heard and seen by millions watching television last night to say that 200 shots were fired on the British Army before the British Army opened fire. We shall hear from all the reporters of newspapers and sound radio and from civil liberties observers—[Laughter.] [HON. MEMBERS: "Do not laugh."] We shall hear this and we are talking about intimidation. We shall hope to hear from those in the British Army who are not paratroopers about when 200 shots were fired. We shall hear from the B.B.C. that there were no 200 shots fired and we shall see that on that newsreel.

The British Army stated that they fired only at identifiable objects, targets and people, people who were about to fire on them, snipers from the Rossville Street flats. Hon. Members may not be aware that the Rossville Street flats are 12 storeys high. If a British soldier shot at a sniper on the roof of those flats, that sniper would now be lying in hospital with multiple fractures, but there is not one body with such injuries as would indicate that the person had fallen from such a height. If those people were all snipers as the Minister of State for Defence says, or people throwing petrol bombs at the British Army, how does it come about that the majority happened to be shot in the back or in the back of the head?

I have had my disagreements with a certain reporter on The Guardian whose writings I criticised and made the subject of a discussion in this House. Quite recently he wrote an article in The Guardian about British paratroopers. Did they think that he was a sniper or that he was Simon Winchester who had done them down and that they might get him when they were at it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Members may talk as they like, but I hope hon. Members will bear with me because 13 people are 13 human beings.

The point might be made in this House that I should say who they were. This comes to another point made by the Minister of State for Defence. They were Gerald McKinney, John Young, Michael McDaid, William Nash, Hugh Gilmore, Bernard McGuigan, Jack Duddy, Michael Kelly, William McKinney, James Wray, Kevin McIlhenney, Gerald Donaghy and Patrick Doherty. The British Army killed every last one of them. They tell us that four of those men were on the British Army's wanted list. Let the Minister of State for Defence say which four—[Interruption.]

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)


Miss Devlin

—were on that list. The employed men on that list went to their work every day and the unemployed on that list have been drawing their unemployment pay every week at precisely the same time. Where were they supposed to be skulking and hiding away if they could not be found unless they were dead? Tell us who are the four now dead on that list.

It has been said that Derry City today is in the grip of the worst intimidation it has ever seen. I hope that hon. Members on this side of the House, having a better idea of human beings than the people who sit on the Government side, will know the difference between a general strike and intimidation. Nobody went to work in Derry. Children did not go to school and in many of the schools in other parts of Northern Ireland the children walked out. And this was not only confined to Ireland. I had a letter today from an English family with no Irish connections and the mother said she sat and watched the B.B.C. news and cried right through it when she felt that such things could be done in the name of her family and her country.

All through the whole of the North of Ireland, throughout the 32 counties, people are outraged and indignant, and the Conservative Government by their activities on Sunday may well have lit a fire in Ireland the flames of which may not die out until the last vestige of British rule has ended in that country, until the last trace of British domination has gone. [Interruption.] Thirteen people died and 17 people were injured all in the space of 10 minutes, but they were not the first 13 people. We remember Barney Watt, Annette McGavigan and Eamonn McDevitt. The list goes on for ever of people who have been accused after their death. After accusations have been blazoned in the newspapers they have been found innocent but never cleared.

This is not our first bloody Sunday at the hands of the British Army. But we will be in Newry on Saturday and we will be marching. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] We have been kicked and batoned by the police, we have been imprisoned and interned and finally we have been slaughtered by the British Army. But we have yet to be defeated. I would say, not so much to the British Government on the benches opposite, but to the people who strengthen their nerve and stiffen their resolve at home and to their friends in this country, that the paratroopers may have had their day on our bloody Sunday, but we have a saying in Ireland that there is another day coming.

6.12 p.m.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

It is to be regretted that there is not more time in this House for us to discuss this matter, since this is a vitally important matter not only for this House and for the people of Scotland, England and Wales, but especially for the people of Northern Ireland. I hope that perhaps in the dark shadows of the past events this House will come to real grips with the reality of the serious situation with which we are now faced in Northern Ireland.

I would say to the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) that everybody I would claim to speak for certainly values human life, but I would say that there should be no discrimination in respect of the value of those lives. I have failed to hear from her any lament when British soldiers have been killed. I have failed to hear from her any lament when any members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the very City of Londonderry last week were brutally murdered.

In the Daily Mail today there is a report of a statement made by the hon. Lady in which she said: The official and the provisional I.R.A. have each said they will kill 13 paratroopers in vengence for those who died on Sunday. That is 26 coffins coming home to England, and I won't shed a tear for any one of them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] All of us who heard the hon. Lady today will realise that we have seen on the Floor of this House something of the hatred and real terror with which Northern Ireland is being gripped.

Let us make no mistake about it, there is a war on in Northern Ireland. The object of the Irish Republican Army, clearly spelt out in all its manifestoes, is for a United Ireland. The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are determined to remain part and parcel of the United Kingdom. Because those people have borne with great patience, albeit with much frustration, the actions of the past days, let no Member of this House think that there is any weakening in the determination of the Ulster people to refuse any deals with the South of Ireland. So far as they are concerned a United Ireland is definitely out.

When we hear the leader of the S.D.L.P. in Londonderry, Mr. John Hume, say that it is a United Ireland or nothing, we learn the real objective behind this present state of agitation and riot and revolution in Northern Ireland. The vast majority of people in Northern Ireland cannot accept that the only poli- tical solution to the problem is a United Ireland.

I come to a point to which many of those who have supported me so far will object, but I must say what I feel is the reality of the situation. It is all very well for hon. Members in this House to sit here and listen to a statement at the Dispatch Box that there will be a blanket ban on parades and to feel that that is a solution of the problem. This blanket ban is unworkable among both sections of the community. The section of the community represented by the hon. Lady refuses to abide by the ban. The loyalist people feel they have every right to parade in their own districts.

The spokesman for the Opposition today said that the ban was brought in to deal with the Orangemen of Northern Ireland. Nobody could control the situation in Northern Ireland if either side took it into its head to go on parade. The whole of the British Army could not do it. Therefore, the blanket ban is unworkable. The sooner the Government take a hard look at the point and are prepared to allow sections of the community to parade in their own areas, the better for everybody concerned. It takes far more troops to stop a parade than to look after a well-marshalled parade; it takes far more troops to attempt to stop a parade than it would take to deal with a parade which was legal. We in this House must recognise this fact. These are the facts of the situation.

The matter of internment lies at the heart of the present problems in Northern Ireland. I have taken an entirely different line from many people on this side of the House who say they are loyalists. I believe that the House must look at internment and say why it is that if certain people can be charged, put through the courts and be found guilty—and this applies to 200 people who have gone through the courts in the proper way—others cannot also go through the courts in this way.

It is all very well for those who say "There will be threats." Yes, there will be threats. There are threats now. A friend of mine was shot in his own home. He was a Crown witness. He asked for protection, did not receive it and was gunned down in his own home. It is the duty of the authorities to see that men who are accused are properly tried and put away.

It seems that parliamentary representatives on both sides of the House have a serious responsibility. Those of us who represent constituencies in another place have a serious responsibility. It is no use our saying "It is not my responsibility to make a move." I suggest that the Government should say to Mr. Faulkner's Government: "We believe that you should set up a Select Committee of your own House under whose authority internment is enacted to look into the problem of internment." I believe that all parliamentary representatives would then have a responsibility to look at this problem and that those Members at Stormont who object to internment would have the right to ask questions in a proper parliamentary forum and get the answers they should receive. Until we are prepared to look at the problem of internment, we shall go from bad to worse in this situation.

I have been accused by hon. Members on this side of wanting to open the gates of Long Kesh and to set loose the street gunmen. I want to do no such thing. I want the gunman and the murderers to be tried properly and put away. Until we are prepared to look at the matter, we shall have serious difficulties in Northern Ireland.

Let us face the situation. The murders, the buntings and the shootings go on. We have found today, even in this House, that there is reluctance by hon. Members to listen to a defence of their own soldiers in Londonderry. It is a sad commentary for an Ulsterman to come to the British House of Commons and find a reluctance by hon. Members to listen to a defence of their own troops in Northern Ireland.

I am reminded that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the City of Londonderry were brutally attacked with petrol bombs, and hon. Members saw fit to take sides with those who maligned them. The Royal Ulster Constabulary was practically discredited. Now there has been a complete turn of the wheel. The same attacks are being made on the British Army. I do not believe that every member of the British Army—

Mr. Simon Mahon

The hon. Gentleman is blaming hon. Members on this side of the House for attacks on the British Army. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman said precisely that. There are hon. Members on this side of the House who have served their country as loyally as anybody who ever lived in Ulster. The hon. Gentleman has maligned not only us, but members of the British Army.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I made no such reference. I said that there were hon. Members in this House who were not prepared to listen to a defence of the British Army. I said that it was a sad commentary for an Ulsterman to come to the British House of Commons and see that hon. Members were not even going to allow the Minister at the Dispatch Box to defend his own troops.

I do not believe that every member of the British Army is an angel. Nor is every hon. Member of this House an angel. I do not believe that every member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary or the Ulster Special Constabulary is an angel. However, I believe that, in the main, these forces want to do what is right. Individual soldiers in Northern Ireland have done things which no hon. Member could justify. I have personally taken the evidence, the photographs, to the Minister at the Dispatch Box. I am not here to defend every individual member of the British Army but I must in fairness say that the Army has been seriously maligned. The Parachute Regiment has been slurred and slandered. It is only right that someone should stand up and defend the Army. Hon. Members should be prepared to listen to its defence just as they have been prepared to listen to the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster make very serious charges against these men who are serving their Queen and country in Northern Ireland.

All the debates in this House will not settle this problem. The only thing which will settle it is for Ulster men and women to realise that there will be nothing left for them if they are not prepared to sit round the table and, as reasonable people, discuss the problem. Once again I say that the people and party I represent are prepared to sit down and talk about these matters. I have suggested a Select Committee to consider the problem of internment.

Finally, the majority of people in Northern Ireland believe that our solution lies in the context of a United Kingdom, never in the context of a united Ireland.

6.26 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

When I have spoken previously on Irish matters I have paid tribute to the conduct of the British Army in an extremely difficult and dangerous situation. I do so again.

Regarding the events of Sunday, we have certainly had differing accounts from the Minister of State for Defence, from the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) and from a number of Press and television observers. Because of this it was right to have an inquiry. I trust that everybody on either side who has allegations of any character to make will make them in evidence before the inquiry and that differences of opinion about the type or personnel of the inquiry will not deter them from giving information which could be valuable.

Yet even if the Lord Chief Justice is able, with the best combination of speed and thoroughness, to provide us with a most admirable report, at the end of which we may be able to say "This statement is true, that one is false blame must be apportioned for this to so-and-so and for that to somebody else ", how much further forward are we to getting peace in Ireland and Britain extricating herself and her soldiers from an increasingly intolerable situation?

The real lesson is that last Sunday's events were the most spectacular of a long line of bloodshed and cruelty which demonstrate more and more that we have reached a deadlock which cannot be resolved within the dimensions in which we have so far tried to resolve it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) put a question to the Government which the noble Lord did not answer: was it the fact that it was the intention of the Armed Forces to enter the Bogside, march or no march, and that this was an act of policy, to use my hon. Friend's phrase, to teach the Bogsiders a lesson? That question was not answered by the noble Lord. We shall want an answer to it.

I quite see that a military case might be made for doing so. An Army com- mander might say, "In view of my duty to carry out the instructions given to me by my political superiors and at the same time to be as careful as possible for the lives of my men, it may be necessary in military terms, if I believe that irreconcilable armed enemies are in a particular district, to deal with that situation". But that means that a military commander would be being driven for sound military reasons to do something that would inevitably worsen the situation politically. My anxiety is that that is the position into which both the Army and the civil power are being driven in Northern Ireland, a situation in which, as far as we can see, there is no right answer. If marches are not banned, evidence can be produced that this will produce widespread disorder. If they are banned, we run the risk of a repetition of last Sunday's events.

We have been told repeatedly by the Government that if we do not intern people we cannot repress terrorism. It has been stated from another part of the Government benches that if we intern people we are interfering with the rule of law and making the whole problem very difficult to solve. The trouble is that in these and other confrontations both sides can produce apparently unanswerable arguments for their point of view. Why is that? It is because a large section of the population of Northern Ireland have now no confidence whatever in not merely the Stormont Government but the whole constitutional arrangements for Northern Ireland.

In consequence, people who in normal circumstances would be thoroughly law-abiding citizens no longer have that sense of obligation to keep the peace which normally holds together human society. It is no good judging people who are in this frame of mind as if they were common criminals. It sometimes happens, when an impossible political situation exists, that people who in normal times and proper circumstances would have every respect for law, order and decency firmly come to the conclusion that they have no further obligation to keep the peace and no obligation to help the Army to deal with the I.R.A.

The Minister of State put the whole problem in terms of whether the power of the I.R.A. can be broken. He gave us an account of how progress was being made in breaking it. His speech was followed by that of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark), who described the conditions in that town. It transpired from exchanges that apparently an illegal march can be advertised in the newspapers. It does not look as if the progressive victory of the forces of law and order over the I.R.A., in which the Minister of State has put his faith, is an accurate description of what is happening. It is not happening, because so many of the people of Northern Ireland may be deeply distressed, in heart and conscience, with the ruthless methods employed by the I.R.A. but are none the less not prepared to help the civil power against the I.R.A. and are increasingly prepared to help the I.R.A. in what it is doing.

In those circumstances it is no use simply continuing to abuse people for being or for aiding terrorists. One has to ask why the situation has arisen that so large a section of the population is in this frame of mind that we are faced with a series of administrative military questions, such as whether we should or should not allow marches and whether we should intern, and we find that all these are insoluble and unanswerable.

I believe, therefore, that that is why so many have come to the conclusion that what is called a political solution is necessary. This does not mean that one has to work out an elaborate political solution and carry it all through before one can hope to restore peace in Ireland. But one has to begin it, and it has to be begun with such a sense of reality and emergency that large numbers of people in Northern Ireland who now feel no sort of obligation to help in the task of keeping the peace will feel that there is some such obligation because there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

What kind of a political solution should there be? Here I disagree most profoundly with the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). He said that a united Ireland is out of the question. I would say that no political solution has any chance of being a basis on which peace in Ireland can be restored if it does not contain the clear objective of a united Ireland. I beg those of our fellow citizens in the province of Northern Ireland who now reject that intensely to wonder for how long the present situation is to continue. When I first expressed these views in the House, when the House was recalled during the last Summer Recess, they were dismissed by many hon. Members as impossible, outrageous and encouragement to terrorists, and hon. Members said that the real job was to restore law and order.

I invite those who took that view to look back over the events of the past eight or nine months and to ask themselves whether they still have the same absolute confidence in rejecting this idea. I am glad to find that it is an idea that has made progress. We all know perfectly well that the best platform on which we can build anything was that set out by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I was glad to find that the Government did not look with entire disfavour on this. I had thought at one time—it must have been from a mistaken report—that the hon. Member for Antrim, North was not entirely averse to what my right hon. Friend had proposed. I wish that that had been so.

I do not underestimate the enormous difficulty of creating a united Ireland. Many problems will have to be solved on the way and it will take a considerable time. I am quite certain that all parties have got to say "This is what we are working for".

Mr. Rafton Pounder (Belfast, South)


Mr. Stewart

I shall not give way. I am speaking only briefly and hon. Members will be able to express their disagreements with me in their speeches.

Without that solution, I do not believe that we shall make any real advance. Our ground of criticism against the Government is that there has not been the intensity of imagination nor the sense of urgency that the situation requires in taking what my right hon. Friend has put forward and helping to fashion it into a policy on which hope for peace in this unhappy country could be built.

6.38 p.m.

Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)

I rise to make a brief contribution to this most important debate. The hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) did not make a very helpful contribution to our discussions today but it was a significant contribution, because it is only by listening to her words that one can plumb the depths of bitterness and hatred that are rampant amongst the minority in Northern Ireland today.

In his own way, the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) was equally significant—his was a rather more skilful speech because he is a more sophisticated politician than the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster—but his speech had a moment of truth in it, too, when he said that this was a quarrel between the two communities in Northern Ireland and one which the British could not solve. This is a situation in which British troops are playing the unenviable rôle of keeping the two communities from destroying each other and being vilified in the process. That is why my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence was right today, as the Minister responsible for the Army, to put on record his statement of fact on what he believes to have taken place.

It is nonsense to say that we should await the findings of the tribunal. As the Leader of the Opposition said, Ireland will not wait for the tribunal, nor will Britain. Is it reasonable to ask the Minister of State to put on himself a self-denying ordinance which nobody else in this controversy will observe? Is the Prime Minister of Ireland doing it? Is Senator Kennedy keeping quiet? Will the Sunday Times Insight team be silent next Sunday? Will anyone in the House be silent and conceal his opinions until the Lord Chief Justice reports?

Mr. McMaster

I know my hon. Friend's great regard for the truth. Will he not reconsider what he said about the rôle of the Army being to keep the two communities apart? Is he aware that in the last two years, and particularly last weekend in Londonderry, there has been no confrontation between Protestants and Catholics? The 230 people who have been killed in the last two years have been killed entirely as a result of action by the I.R.A. As long as we foster this error we shall not get to the root of the problem, which is that there is a small, vicious, militant group which wants to impose its will upon the majority and is prepared to go to any lengths to do so. As to keeping the two communities apart, the Protestant community is right out of the picture.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My hon. Friend must analyse the situation in his own way and I will analyse it in mine. I was referring specifically to the rôle of the British Army. My right hon. Friend was right to make his statement today; not to have done so would have been a dereliction of his duty. Whilst I certainly do not subscribe to the doctrine "my country right or wrong", I do not subscribe either to the doctrine "my country always wrong"

Mr. Abse

Is it not a fact that the Minister does not speak for the Army but for the Government and that, in making a statement giving his set of facts, he makes a Government statement at a time when the Government are appointing a tribunal? Does it not occur to the hon. Gentleman that that inevitably will make the tribunal lack credibility and be unacceptable to many people? Is not the intervention of the noble Lord disastrous and will it not discredit the tribunal?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I know that the hon. Member holds that view strongly; he has already expressed it once in the debate. I do not believe that it is true. The statement which the Minister made to the House is one of the statements which the tribunal will have to take into account in coming to its conclusion. It is no less and no more than that.

What we are debating this afternoon comes down to the fact that 13 citizens of the United Kingdom have lost their lives, 13 families today are bereaved. That personal tragedy, which we should never forget, is the basis of our debate. If one asks who is responsible, one is perhaps entitled to ask another question: what do the dead care? They are dead; they are the people who have made the biggest sacrifice of all. The House of Commons should, therefore, today record its sympathy with the relations of those who have died and also our shame that, whoever is responsible. this could happen in a civilised country like our own in the second half of the 20th century. We must follow that up by a determination to do all we can to ensure that this never happens again, and that means taking not only security measures but political measures as well to change the circumstances which produced this situation.

My final point is on the question of the political solution. The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) mentioned the prospect of a united Ireland. I do not believe that is a possible immediate solution to the problem, but I certainly do not rule it out. The dividing line which the House should draw is not between those who favour a united Ireland and those who favour a link with the United Kingdom, but between those who favour attaining that end by persuasion and those who are prepared to use force. Those who are prepared to use persuasion should be listened to, whether their views are popular or unpopular. Those who are prepared to use force should not be listened to.

I do not want to go into the details of a political solution. We have heard some details from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party. He mentioned the transfer of security to this House. There is much to be said for that, but we must recognise that it would not have made the slightest difference. We cannot run an Army from this House. It has to be run operationally on the spot. The right hon. Gentleman made a plea for constitutional reform. I agree with much of what he said, but I do not want to peddle paper constitutions at this point in our debate. My point, which is concerned not with the small print but with the capital letters, is that we must not lose our nerve, we must not despair and say that there is no solution. We must continually, even in our blackest moments—and this is surely one of them—be determined to pursue a political solution because this is the only ultimate solution to the problems of Northern Ireland. We must not be defeated by wickedness or folly or by any combination of the two.

The Government must persevere, and the Leader of the Opposition must persevere in putting forward his solutions, so that we can get a rational solution to the Irish problem. The darkest hour is the hour before the dawn, and I think that this is the darkest hour in the long and shadowed history of Ireland. We should create a chink of light in this darkness and do everything we can both to create it and to take advantage of it.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)

On many occasions I have not found myself in full agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). Today I wish to put on record with all the vehemence at my command, that I agree with every single sentiment she uttered. What happened last Sunday in Derry has dramatically changed the whole political outlook. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in the House a few months ago that men of moderation have nothing to hope for but that men of violence have everything to hope for. Until last Sunday I regarded myself as a man of moderation. I have consistently condemned violence. I have condemned every life that was unnecessarily taken, every shot that was fired and every explosion that has taken place. But I am consistent with my own conscience, with the fact that I was born and reared, and will be until the day I die, an Irishman. If I condemn the violence of anyone in Northern Ireland I must condemn the violence of the British Army that was meted out to the Irish people in the City of Derry last Sunday.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)


Mr. Fitt

The hon. Gentleman may think it is nonsense. Never did I realise more in my life, in the debate today and yesterday, but particularly during this afternoon's debate, that I am an Irishman and the hon. Gentleman is an Englishman. That is where the difference lies. The hon. Gentleman has no sympathy, no understanding, no conscience for the people who live in Derry who are Irish.

Another hon. Member, who has now left the Chamber, said during the speech of one of my hon. Friends, "Back the Army. Why do you not back the Army?" He meant that the Army must be backed, right or wrong—and the Army was disastrously wrong in Derry last Saturday and Sunday.

We are talking of settlements, of political solutions. The political solution that would have been acceptable last Saturday is not acceptable today. I tell the Home Secretary with all the seriousness at my command, so that he and the Government will know, the British Army and those on the Conservative benches will know, and my hon. Friends will know, what is happening in Ireland. There is a national fervour throughout the 32 counties of Ireland that has not existed since the years 1916 and 1921. The disaster committed by the British Government in 1916, when they executed the 12 leaders of the Irish rebellion, eventually led to a national uprising, which eventually brought about the 26-county Republic. The events in Derry on Sunday exactly parallel that. Thirteen more innocent people who were not engaged in rebellion, who never used firearms, were shot in the back by the British Army.

An Hon. Member


Mr. Rose

My hon. Friend has seen the bodies.

Mr. Fitt

I am not worried in the least by the fools on the Government benches.

It is for the reasons I have given that there is now a national fervour and national awareness throughout the 32 counties of Ireland that has not been evident since our country was unnaturally partitioned in 1921.

I make no apologies for what I say, because I know that I shall be proved right within the next 24 hours, the next 48 hours, the next week and the next month. I remember saying in this House that it would be a disaster if the British troops were taken out of Northern Ireland, because that would leave the Catholic community open to a backlash from the majority community, and there might be untold fatalities. But people in Derry, Belfast and my constituency now ask, "What is the difference between a backlash from the extreme Unionists and from the loyal regiment of paratroops? There might not have been so many casualties from a Protestant-Catholic confrontation in Derry, because the Unionists might not be so well armed.

Whether we like it or not, the British Army is no longer acceptable in Belfast, Derry or anywhere in Northern Ireland. It is seen as acting in support of a discredited and corrupt Unionist Government, and as such it is no longer welcome.

I support what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster. People who were involved in the civil rights demonstration believed they were supporting the cause of 600 men who were incarcerated in prison and internment camps throughout Northern Ireland because they had expressed their opposition towards the Unionist Government. They regarded it as a major civil right that before a person could be interned or imprisoned charges must be proved against him. They say that they will continue to march until the internees are released or brought to trial. I am not saying whether or not they should be brought to trial; I am saying that at present in my mind they are innocent, because they have been proved guilty of nothing.

I tell the Home Secretary, in words he will clearly understand, that the marches will continue. They will continue next weekend in Newry, and then the following week and the week after that, until the internment problem is tackled by the Westminster Government, because it is the only Government that can tackle it. Brian Faulkner and the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland would commit political suicide if they admitted at this point that they made a disastrous political mistake in introducing internment. Therefore, the internment problem can be examined only by the Government here, because it is a security problem. I agree that responsibility for security must be taken from the Stormont authorities and placed in the hands of this House. Whatever confidence we may have in this House—and it has been sadly shaken by the apologies put forward by the Minister of State this afternoon—confidence in the Northern Ireland Parliament is nonexistent.

I saw the Minister of State on "Panorama" last night. He acted as a judge and found the paratroops not guilty of any charge levelled against them. If the inquiry or tribunal is set up, and it is found that the Parachute Regiment was guilty of a dereliction of duty in Derry last Sunday, will the noble Lord resign? He should be called upon to resign, because he has passed a verdict. He has completely exonerated the paratroops, whereas that is not the verdict of other people, particularly in Derry, but throughout the island of Ireland—indeed throughout the world among those who are uncommitted, who are impartial, such as the people who were doing a job in Derry on Sunday as television and Press reporters. Had they anything to gain by making such charges against the paratroops?

It is reported in this morning's Irish Times that an Italian reporter who was there said he saw a paratrooper shooting a young boy dead from a range of one yard. What will Tory Members say about that? It will be said that that reporter is a "Wop", a foreigner, a continental with no love for the British Government, and that he is biased in his reporting. Yet the Government are falling over themselves to be in the Common Market, where the Italians will be their partners.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that it is two minutes to 7 o'clock.

Mr. Fitt

If the Home Secretary, the Prime Minister or the Minister of State for Defence are thinking of stopping the march in Newry next week, employing the same tactics as were employed in Derry last Sunday, I can give them a little advance notice that I will be in Newry next Saturday, and I will bring as many constituents as I can. If there are lives to be lost, Ireland has a long history of suffering and injustice at the hands of Tory Governments. We may have been conquered on occasions, but we were never beaten. The only way to solve the immediate problem is to stop internment, which will stop the marches, take responsibility for security to this House, and in the final analysis suspend Stormont and take the British Army out of Ireland. There will never be peace until those things are done.

6.59 p.m.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

I am reluctant to intervene, just as the House is reluctant to see the debate brought to an end. We shall soon need a longer debate so that we can make a fuller contribution to examining the problems of Northern Ireland.

I begin, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) yesterday in asking his question about Northern Ireland, by expressing sympathy with the relatives of all those who lost their lives in the tragedy on Sunday and all those, including the soldiers, who sustained wounds. The quality of sympathy that the House extends is not strained by considerations of the religious, political or communal views of those afflicted. It is extended not to the victims of one act or another act, however committed by one man or another, but to the victims of a wider tragedy, that of Northern Ireland today, which begins to become greater and more remorseless than any of the men, whoever they are, who act as its instruments.

That period of 20 minutes or so last Sunday which killed 13 human beings—and some allege more—by its nature creates a new situation. It is yet one more tragic point of no return. Once again in this deepening tragedy it will be said, and said rightly, that whatever the merits, wherever lies the blame, nothing will ever be the same again. As I said on 25th November, we have reached a point now where reality is not what is but what is believed to be. Londonderry, 30th January, 1972, in that sense has passed into history and will itself play its part in determining the unfolding of future history.

Yet this House realises that 13 deaths in a few minutes are also to be set against week after week where equal numbers have been killed regardless, as was last Sunday, of guilty or innocence, whatever that may be, of Catholic or Protestant. More have been killed over a number of incidents in a single week or less. More have been killed in one tragic explosion in a bar in Belfast. There have been the murders of British soldiers off duty, of Defence Regiment members, of police and public men, in some cases brutally struck down in the presence of their families. This tragedy is now becoming greater than the actors who play their willing or unwilling rôle in it.

What we have to prove is whether it is to become greater than the ability of those who in this House—and I emphasise that here in this House is the ultimate responsibility—have to show their ability to command and not be commanded by it.

I welcome the inquiry. It is essential. All of us have been deeply disturbed by the reports of independent witnesses. All of us have heard or read the categorical statements of the Commander, Land Forces. All of us know the uniquely difficult conditions in which the troops are operating, not by their own decision but by political decision. They are operating in conditions of guerrilla warfare for which no troops in history have been trained. They are operating in conditions and under orders for which politicians and not soldiers—politicians here, no less than in Stormont—ultimately have responsibility. I understand the sincerity of those who have given their accounts in this House, first-hand or second-hand, of what happened last Sunday. But I am not willing to countenance any effort in this House to judge the conduct of Her Majesty's Forces last Sunday until the inquiry has unfolded facts not yet known, adjudged between competing and fundamentally incompatible statements.

It is rather for us here to take a sense of grip and resolve—grip that we do not let passions, however natural, override wisdom and judgment, and resolve that we deal with this situation with authority, with no dragging of feet and with no competitive attribution of blame, excuses that it is the fault of others, even the responsibility of another Parliament, because in the last resort the responsibility, even the responsibility of continued delegation, must be ours.

Even now I remain of the view that the assertion of direct rule, which is within the competence of this House to decide, would be an action of last resort. I still take the view that it would be a confession of failure—on the part of ourselves and others—and manifestly not an easy way out; for who can be sure that the result would not be still greater carnage and anarchy?

I do not intend to go over the ground of my speech of 25th November. Nearly 10 weeks have passed. It was urgent then. Some thought that what I said then was perilously late. Today, let us simply draw the lessons not for the purposes of debate and division but for action and urgent action now.

The first lesson must relate to the position in which our troops were put, and day by day are put. It is a position immeasurably worsened by last Sunday, whatever the facts, whatever the truth, whatever the inquiry may reveal.

Her Majesty's Forces act not by their voluntary decision but under a political decision, if not a series of political decisions. If it is theirs not to reason why, we here have to reason why. We have to lay down the political ambience and we have to define the political parameters in which those political decisions are taken. The relevant political decisions in this case are taken not by this House but for this House. We have not been able to establish whether the two previous decisions which caused the deterioration in the situation and in the position of our troops—namely, the events of 7th July, 1970. and the internment decision—were taken by Ministers here or by Ministers there. We have still not got an answer to that question. Despite our urgent plea for information about the acceptance of Ministerial responsibility, this House has not been told.

Yet we in this House know that those two decisions and now this tragic third event have caused not a deterioration of degree but a deterioration of kind. It is Britsh soldiers, acting in the last resort as the agents or the instruments of the policies of this House, who are carrying the burden, and this House has no means of asserting its responsibility.

I take full responsibility for the order to British troops to take over full control of all aspects of internal security. I told the House in 1969—I have repeated it, and the House has approved—the political conditions in which the troops went in. In November I told the House how the troops were cheered in the Falls Road and in Derry as they marched in. They marched in as the assertion not of an Imperial Power but of the authority and insistence of Downing Street and of this House that they were going in to hold the ring, to protect any who needed protection from any threat, no matter whence that threat might come.

It was inevitable that the minority's fears of the majority at that time, real or imagined, should lead many Catholics to believe that our troops were sent in for their protection. But no one, tragically, believes that today. Over 18 months, our troops have been seen increasingly to be the agents of a political authority which is certainly the legal custodian of law and order but which is accepted as acting in a spirit not of neutrality but of sectarianism—a political authority whose responsibility to this House is at best tenuous and undefined and at worst surrounded by confusion and an obscurantist blurring of responsibility.

We here have to insist, at whatever the cost, that the political orders given to the Armed Forces for whom we are responsible and internationally responsible are matters for which we have the accountability and the control. The enforcement of security without responsibility is the prerogative of the mercenary throughout the ages, and our Armed Forces neither want to be mercenaries nor can be allowed to be capable of being represesented as mercenaries. Neither is it any longer a question of their being deployed in aid of the civil power.

In September, 1970, I suggested that there should be a Minister of State stationed in Northern Ireland. That was dismissed out of hand at the time. I believe that the solution of some of the problems now and the decision which had to be taken before last Saturday might have been easier if there had been a Minister there to give a political view, because the only political view there is given by Northern Ireland Ministers.

On 25th November I felt that even that was not enough. A key proposal in the points that I laid before the House was the transfer of responsibility for security from Stormont to Westminster so that British troops would act under the direction of Ministers responsible to this House and so that decisions as cataclysmic as internment, if they were to be taken, would be taken under our ultimate control with a consideration of political as well as military and security consequences. If any special powers were needed they should be taken not by a stroke of a Ministerial pen but under the rigid conditions which this House has jealously preserved. As far as I am aware this proposed transfer has not yet been considered. Regardless of whether consideration of the remaining 14 points is to be expedited or frustrated, this decision about security should in our view be taken now. It is minimum condition for enabling British troops to be, and appear to be, impartial as between those members of both communities who forswear the use of violence for political aims.

My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) has reminded the House of what I said in November: that if men have nothing to hope for, men of violence have something to shoot for, to bomb for, to murder for—and increasingly tens of thousands who would hold to a moderate, non-violent posture are being driven, not by the individual behaviour of the troops but by the orders under which our troops operate, first into an unwilling but increasingly determined tolerance and then into support for violence.

Hon. Members will have read reports of reactions south of the Border. Some may have been given reports at first hand as I have. We may deplore those reactions but we should be foolish to ignore them. Last week Mr. Lynch, who has been criticised greatly by hon. Members opposite, arrested gunmen. Were he to do so today he would be driven from office. Last Sunday's events throw grave doubts on whether any jury would convict. This is now in a very real sense an all-Ireland problem.

The House must realise, averse though we are to it, that this is 1911, 1912 and 1913 again. God grant that it is not 1920 and 1921. It is those pre-war years with all that that could mean, and in one sense it is worse in that the right hon. Gentleman, unlike Asquith, has no apparent right of direct intervention.

On 25th November I referred to the power of legend, to the history books which the Catholic and Unionist children read, so different as they are, in their individual schools. By 6 p.m. last Sunday there were already two histories of what happened in William Street and we have heard them in this House today. God grant that the inquiry may help to produce the truth, but let us recognise that the two legends will outlive the truth.

I have told the House of the realities of the internment decision. The reality is that, whatever the gains, as one gunman is caught two more spring up, as from dragon's teeth. We are still not told on whose initiative and orders the internment decision was taken. Last Sunday was of its kind another such event, part of history before the blood was even dry on the pavement. History will record it as the creation of a further unpaid recruiting sergeant for the I.R.A. What was created last Sunday was a still more efficient recruiting officer, not for the guerrilla lines of today but for the guerrilla lines of the 1980s and 1990s.

Before sitting down I must record my deep concern about the long delay in setting up the all-party talks for which I called on 25th November. On 28th November, nine weeks ago yesterday, I understood that both the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister welcomed and accepted my proposals for discussion. My concern today is first that weeks have passed and secondly that the two right hon. Gentlemen have hardened their hearts about the form and purpose of the talks.

Dealing with delay, I took my share of the responsibility. Admittedly I was out of the country for four days in December. The Prime Minister and I empowered the Home Secreary and my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) to work out in detail what we had discussed. That meeting took place on 17th December. It was the subject of a letter from my right hon. Friend on 30th December. All of this has been published in the Press so there is no breach of Privy Council privilege. There was no reply to that letter until 14th January. I cannot indicate how far the proposal was then changed because this was what we discussed, but two things are clear.

First, the Home Secretary has spent much more time trying to censor the B.B.C. than in getting the talks mounted. Secondly, he was too ready to assume their failure because of public statements by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West and therefore he is against proceeding. For over a week the Government have briefed publicly their insistence on Privy Council terms. In this afternoon's paper before this debate this has been put out, and I cannot accept this limitation.

Our proposal is for inter-party talks here designed to move as quickly as possible to all-party talks between Westminster and Stormont and as quickly as may be three-Parliament talks. In the interests of speed we were prepared to bypass the Westminster talks and go straight to Stormont. All we are offered today are Privy Council talks at Westminster level not directed to working out the basis on which they can be extended to Stormont and Dublin. If many weeks late we have open-ended talks with no limits on subject matters, any specially sensitive question can be referred to a sub-committee of Privy Councillors who can then report back to the Westminster talks.

This is urgent and I must ask the right hon. Gentleman not to go on dragging his feet. The Home Secretary has produced no policy for Northern Ireland since his announcement last September that he was willing to hear the views of different Ulster parties and interests. That got us no further because of internment. Even so, very full reports of my own talks, taken by a Cabinet official have been available to the right hon. Gentleman. He knows what the parties in Northern Ireland think. He does not have to wait for those particular talks. Why is it that we have this falling away from what I thought was an agreed position? Is it a veto from Stormont? Is it Mr. Faulkner? Is it not that the right hon. Gentleman really believed that we were within days of a military solution? We had a lot of this in the Press just before Christmas. Does anyone believe there is a military solution without a corresponding and simultaneous effort to secure—although not of course until the right conditions obtain—a political solution?

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will announce today that after all these weeks he accepts the 25th November programme in full. If not we shall have to go ahead with those who will talk, and this will in consequence identify those who refuse to talk. I do not disguise from the House that the events of last weekend, like internment, make all our tasks harder. Time is not on our side. I said that in November. The right hon. Gentleman sometimes appears—perhaps he will clear this up—to carry on as though time was his ally in Northern Ireland. It is working remorsely against us.

Our vote tonight will not involve any expression of opinion or judgment about the conduct of the troops. We shall await the report of the tribunal. What it does is to record our disapproval of the continued procrastination over the talks. What it does is to demand urgent action to begin the all-party talks on the 15-point plan and any other proposals which any party desires to make. Above all, in advance of these talks, our vote calls on the Government to take immediate measures, to transfer de jure and de facto responsibility for all aspects of security, for all orders under which our forces operate, to the United Kingdom Government and to this House.

I do not think anyone will disagree with me when I say that this week's events and those of the week before re-emphasise that there can be no future, no military solution, without a political solution. I believe increasingly that there can be no political solution without a united Ireland, with proper safeguards for the Ulster majority at the end of the road. This I believe is what history, looking back, will record. The responsibility falling on this House today and the speed and power and wisdom of our reaction to last week's events may be our last opportunity. Our responsibility is to do all in our power to ensure that that history is not written in blood.

7.19 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

This has been a debate of great sadness. Even while we were talking another British soldier was shot in Belfast this afternoon. No one in this House lacks either awareness of the tragedy of the situation or the goodwill to try to achieve a settlement. All of us really want to see the people of Northern Ireland living together in peace—an ambition on a major scale. If I can ever make a small contribution to that I would feel that I had done something useful. I am afraid that this debate, lasting only three hours, cannot carry us far in this tangled problem. I fear that it has illustrated the depth of division there is in this House about the solution of this problem—the division between, for example, the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) and the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). Both strongly hold their own points of view, totally opposed as to what is the right solution—[Interruption.]—for the people of Northern Ireland; whether the Protestant majority should be brought into a united Ireland or whether they should be entitled to exercise their right to stay out. This fundamental difference has come out clearly today.

I fear that I shall have to spend a certain amount of time answering the points made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I do not want to do this because I wish to deal with some of the other comments that have been made in the debate. However, I must do so because I gather that he and his party intend to divide the House tonight and that the main reason for this is that, in their view, we have been dilatory in holding all-party talks—

Mr. Harold Wilson

indicated dissent.

Mr. Maudling

—but this is totally incorrect.

I welcome what the Leader of the Opposition said about welcoming this inquiry. He is absolutely right and I agree that one cannot have a higher authority for an inquiry than the Lord Chief Justice. I welcome what he said about direct rule being the last possible resort. That, too, is absolutely true. The transfer of all responsibility for security, quite apart from the very serious practical problems that would be involved, would I think be regarded by the Protestant community of Northern Ireland as tantamount to direct rule, and the right hon. Gentleman must bear this in mind.

Having said that, I now challenge him on several points. For example, he said that his hon. Friends had never been told who was responsible for the internment decision and how it was reached. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I have said time and again, both before and after the decision, that it was a decision which was constitutionally in the hands of the Northern Ireland Government but that they would not act without our agreement. They did not act without our agreement. That is the perfectly simple position and it has been explained time and again. [Interruption.]

I wish particularly to refer to the situation over talks and the implication in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks that we have been holding up inter-party talks on the situation. I feel strongly about this. For months past I have been trying to do precisely that, namely to have inter-party talks. Since the summer I have been trying, as the appointed chairman of inter-party talks, to get people together to talk to me. The Northern Ireland Labour Party came. The Northern Ireland trade unions came. The Alliance Party and the Liberal Party came. Everybody came except the S.D.L.P. and the Nationalist Party, the representatives of the Catholic minority.

I have been trying to get these talks going and I was trying to do so before the Leader of the Opposition took his initiative. He suggested that, first of all, there should be talks here at Westminster followed by talks of an all-party nature in Northern Ireland. We agreed.

Subsequently the idea was changed and they wanted us to proceed as quickly as possible to talks with the Northern Ireland parties, and it was the hope of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who unfortunately is not with us today, that he would be able to persuade the S.D.L.P. at a meeting to be held in London on 20th December to come to these talks.

I entirely agreed and welcomed that course and I said, in effect, "I wish you the best of fortune. I hope that you can persuade them to come", but in the event he failed. The S.D.L.P. would not come and therefore the right hon. Gentleman's initiative of 20th December came to a complete halt.

Mr. Harold Wilson

indicated dissent.

Mr. Maudling

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that this is so. If he reads the newspapers for the following day he will see that it is so, and everything that has been said since proves that it was the case. I welcomed his initiative and I still welcome it, but it came to a dead halt on 20th December.

Subsequently a letter was sent to me asking if I agreed that talks could take place on the basis of no conditions. I agreed to that course and I still agree to it. This is what we should be aiming to get. We want to get talks among all concerned instead of arguing about whether nine or 10 weeks have gone by and who is responsible for what.

The Leader of the Opposition accuses me of dragging my feet and he intends to vote on this point. [HON. MEMBERS: ["Nonsense."] Let me assure him that he and his hon. Friends will not be voting on a valid point. We have not dragged our feet. We are not dragging our feet. [Interruption.] One thing above all we want to see taking place are talks among all people with any part to play in the affairs of Northern Ireland. I have said time and again, and I repeat now, that a settlement can come only by agreement, and agreement can come only by talking. Without talking, agreement cannot be reached.

This debate arose from incidents in Londonderry. The account by the Army of what happened was, as one would have expected, clear, detailed and documented—[Interruption.]—and it will be examined in detail—

Miss Devlin


Mr. Maudling

—by the Lord Chief Justice, and the Army will offer every facility to him that he requires.

All that I will say about the rôle of the Army in Northern Ireland—I say it because time and again it has been said that the Army is a tool of a corrupt political régime in Stormont, which is utterly untrue—is that it is not there at its request. Our soldiers do not want to be there. They did not ask to be there. They are performing a duty which has been imposed on them as part of their loyalty to the Crown. They are there to protect law and order—[Interruption.]—and the Army is brought into action only when law and order are threatened.

When illegal force is evident, legal force must be employed if any organised society is to remain. The British troops always operate under the rule of common law that no more force may be employed in protecting law and order than is necessary. However, the degree of force that is necessary depends on what is done by the lawbreakers. People who attack British soldiers with bullets and bombs are themselves responsible for the degree of force that the Army has to use to resist them.

Last Sunday's procession was organised clearly in defiance of the law—[Interruption.]—and in defiance of a ban on political processions, a ban which was asked for repeatedly in the past by both sides, a ban of which this House has always approved and a ban which most people in this country think is common sense, knowing the danger that can arise from political marches.

That ban was legal. This march was organised clearly in deliberate contravention of it and, that being so, how could any Government do other than instruct their security forces to prevent a breach of the law? That is what took place. The security forces were told to prevent the march and they prevented it with the minimum use of force. [Interruption.]

Miss Devlin

Give way.

Mr. Rose

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

He must give way.

Mr. Maudling

As for talk about incursions into the Bogside, let me dispose of this rumour straight away. There was never for a moment a suggestion that the time had come to teach the people of Bogside a lesson. The troops were, of course, moving in to arrest hooligans who were bombarding them with stones and bricks, and it was obviously right and proper for soldiers who had been bombarded for a considerable time with stones and bricks to move in to arrest the people who were bombarding them.

I say again that the people who organised this procession, though I readily recognise that they did all they could to make sure that it was lawful and peaceful, must have known—they were warned about this—that hooligan elements, as they often associate themselves with processions, would use the shield of the procession to conduct violent attacks on the British Army. The people who carried out that procession did so in the knowledge of this danger, and therefore carry responsibility—[Interruption.]

I go further. I say to the hon. Member for Belfast, West that if he is saying, as I thought he said earlier, that he intends deliberately to organise further marches—

Mr. Fitt

Not organise them.

Mr. Maudling

—or participate in or support other marches deliberately in defiance of the law of his country—

Mr. Rose

Why not shoot him now?

Mr. Maudling

—the consequences may be very grave.

Miss Devlin

Give way.

Mr. Maudling

I am saying—

Miss Devlin


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. McManus


Mr. Maudling

I am putting a simple proposition. I am simply saying that those who organise a breach of the law bear a heavy responsibility for what follows that breach. The law will be maintained—

Miss Devlin


Mr. Maudling

—by the security forces with the minimum force necessary for that purpose. If force is required on a substantial scale, it will be solely and only for the people who are challenging the forces of law and order—

Mr. Rose


Several Hon. Members


Mr. Maudling

—and deciding their own tactics.

Mr. Rose


Mr. Heffer


Mr. Maudling

This is not disgraceful. I wish to conclude what I am saying on this point—

Mr. Rose

Why not shoot him now? Why wait till Sunday?

Mr. Orme

Bring your soldiers.

Miss Devlin


Mr. Maudling

All I am saying is the simple proposition that those who deliberately set about defying the law and attacking the law carry a very heavy responsibility.

My final point is that we can achieve success in Northern Ireland only if we cling to our clear objectives of dealing with a policy of violence and achieving a political settlement through discussion between all parties involved.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes 266, Noes 304.

Division No. 50.] AYES 17.30 p.m.
Abse, Leo Forrester, John McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Albu, Austen Fraser, John (Norwood) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Freeson, Reginald Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Galpern, Sir Myer Marks, Kenneth
Ashley, Jack Garrett, W. E. Marquand, David
Ashton, Joe Gilbert, Dr. John Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Atkinson, Norman Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Golding, John Mayhew, Christopher
Barnes, Michael Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Meacher, Michael
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Grant, George (Morpeth) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Grant, John D. (Islington E.) Mendelson, John
Beaney, Alan Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mikardo, Ian
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Millan, Bruce
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Miller, Dr. M. S.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Milne, Edward
Booth, Albert Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Hamling, William Molloy, William
Bradley, Tom Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Hardy, Peter Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hattersley, Roy Moyle, Roland
Buchan, Norman Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Heffer, Eric S. Murray, Ronald King
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Horam, John Oakes, Gordon
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Ogden, Eric
Cant, R. B. Howell, Denis (Small Health) O'Halloran, Michael
Carmichael, Neil Huckfield, Leslie O'Malley, Brian
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oram, Bert
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hughes, Mark (Durham) Orbach, Maurice
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Orme, Stanley
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Oswald, Thomas
Cohen, Stanley Hunter, Adam Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Coleman, Donald Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill) Padley, Walter
Concannon, J. D. Janner, Greville Paget, R. T.
Conlan, Bernard Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Palmer, Arthur
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jeger, Mrs. Lena Panned, Rt. Hn. Charles
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pardoe, John
Crawshaw, Richard John, Brynmor Parker, John (Dagenham)
Cronin, John Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W. Pavitt, Laurie
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Dalyell, Tarn Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Pendry, Tom
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Perry, Ernest G.
Davidson, Arthur Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Jones.Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Prescott, John
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Price, William (Rugby)
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Judd, Frank Probert, Arthur
Deakins, Eric Kaufman, Gerald Rankin, John
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kelley, Richard Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Delargy, H. J. Kerr, Russell Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Kinnock, Neil Rhodes, Geoffrey
Dempsey, James Lambie, David Richard, Ivor
Devlin, Miss Bernadette Lamond, James Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Doig, Peter Latham, Arthur Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)
Dormand, J. D. Leadbitter, Ted Robertson, John (Paisley)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roderick,CaerwynE.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Leonard, Dick Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Driberg, Tom Lestor, Miss Joan Roper, John
Duffy, A. E. P. Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Rose, Paul B.
Dunn, James A. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Dunnett, Jack Lipton, Marcus Sandelson, Neville
Eadie, Alex Lomas, Kenneth Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Edelman, Maurice Loughlin, Charles Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)
Ellis, Tom Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Silkln, Rt. Hn John (Deptford)
English, Michael McBride, Neil Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Evans, Fred McCann, John Sillars, James
Ewing, Henry McElhone, Frank Silverman, Julius
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. McGulde, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Fisher.Mrs.Doris (B'ham,Ladywood) Mackenzie, Gregor Small, William
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mackie, John Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Mackintosh, John P. Spearing, Nigel
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Maclennan, Robert Spriggs, Leslie
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McManus, Frank Stallard, A. W.
Foot, Michael Steel, David
Ford, Ben
Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Tuck, Raphael Whitlock, William
Stoddart, David (Swindon) Urwin, T. W. Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Varley, Eric G. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Strang, Gavin Wainwright, Edwin Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Swain, Thomas Wallace, George Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff.W.) Watkins, David Woot, Robert
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Weitzman, David
Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy White, James (Glasgow, Pollok) Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Tinn, James Whitehead, Phillip Mr. Joseph Harper.
Adley, Robert Drayson, G. B. Iremonger, T. L.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Dykes, Hugh James, David
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Eden, Sir John Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Astor, John Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Jessel, Toby
Atkins, Humphrey Emery, Peter Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Awdry, Daniel Farr, John Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fell, Anthony Jopling, Michael
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Fidler, Michael Kaberry, Sir Donald
Batsford, Brian Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kershaw, Anthony
Bell, Ronald Fookes, Miss Janet Kilfedder, James
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Fortescue, Tim Kimball, Marcus
Benyon, W. Foster, Sir John King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Fowler, Norman King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Biffen, John Fox, Marcus Kirk, Peter
Biggs-Davison, John Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Kitson, Timothy
Blaker, Peter Fry, Peter Knight, Mrs. Jill
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Knox, David
Body, Richard Gardner, Edward Lambton, Antony
Boscawen, Robert Gibson-Watt, David Lane, David
Bossom, Sir Clive Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Bowden, Andrew Gilmour, Sir John (Fife E.) Le Marchant, Spencer
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Glyn, Dr. Alan Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Braine, Sir Bernard Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Longden, Sir Gilbert
Bray, Ronald Goodhart, Philip Loveridge, John
Brewis, John Goodhew, Victor Luce, R. N.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Gorst, John McAdden, Sir Stephen
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Gower, Raymond MacArthur, Ian
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) McCrindle, R. A.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gray, Hamish McLaren, Martin
Bryan, Paul Green, Alan Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N&M) Grieve, Percy McMaster, Stanley
Buck, Antony Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) McNair-Wilson, Michael
Bullus, Sir Eric Grylls, Michael McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)
Burden, F. A. Gummer, Selwyn Maddan, Martin
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Gurden, Harold Madel, David
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G. (Moray&Nairn) Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Maginnis, John E.
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hall, John (Wycombe) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Cary, Sir Robert Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Marten, Neil
Channon, Paul Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mather, Carol
Chapman, Sydney Hannam, John (Exeter) Maude, Angus
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Chichester-Clark, R. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mawby, Ray
Churchill, W. S. Haselhurst, Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hastings, Stephen Meyer, Sir Anthony
Clerke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Havers, Michael Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Clegg, Walter Hawkins, Paul Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Cockeram, Eric Hay, John Miscampbell, Norman
Cooke, Robert Hayhoe, Barney Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire, W)
Cooper, A. E. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Cordle, John Heseltine, Michael Moate, Roger
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Hicks, Robert Molyneaux, James
Cormack, Patrick Higgins, Terence L. Money, Ernle
Costain, A. P. Hiley, Joseph Monks, Mrs. Connie
Critchley, Julian Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Monro, Hector
Crouch, David Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Montgomery, Fergus
Crowder, F. P. Holland, Philip More, Jasper
Curran, Charles Holt, Miss Mary Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Hordern, Peter Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hornby, Richard Morrison, Charles
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.MaJ.-Gen. James Hornsby-Smith.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Mudd, David
Dean, Paul Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Murton, Oscar
Digby, Simon Wingfield Howell, David (Guildford) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Dixon, Piers Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Neave, Airey
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Hunt, John Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Hutchison, Michael Clark
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Nott, John Rost, Peter Tilney, John
Onslow, Cranley Royle, Anthony Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Oppenheim. Mrs. Sally Russell, Sir Ronald Trew, Peter
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. St. John-Stevas, Norman Tugendhat, Christopher
Osborn, John Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Scott, Nicholas van Straubenzee, W. R.
Page, Graham (Crosby) Scott-Hopkins, James Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Sharples, Richard Vickers, Dame Joan
Paisley, Rev. Ian Shelton, William (Clapham) Waddington, David
Parkinson, Cecil Simeons, Charles Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Peel, John Skeet, T. H. H. Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Percival, Ian Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Pike, Miss Mervyn Soref, Harold Wall, Patrick
Pink, R. Bonner Speed, Keith Walters, Dennis
Pounder, Rafton Spence, John Ward, Dame Irene
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Sproat, Iain Warren, Kenneth
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stainton, Keith Wells, John (Maidsdtone)
Prior. Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Stanbrook, Ivor White, Roger (Gravesend)
Proudfoot, Wilfred Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Wiggin, Jerry
Quennell, Miss J. M. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Wilkinson, John
Raison, Timothy Stokes, John Winterton, Nicholas
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Redmond, Robert Sutcliffe, John Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Reed, Laurance (Bolton E.) Tapsell, Peter Woodnutt, Mark
Rees, Peter (Dover) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Worsley, Marcus
Rees-Davies, W. R. Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Younger, Hn. George
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Ridsdale, Julian Tebbit, Norman TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Mr. Reginald Eyre and Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)