HC Deb 22 June 1972 vol 839 cc695-7
10. Mr. Duffy

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the present Army civilian arrest procedures in operation in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Lord Balniel

The instructions issued to the Army in Northern Ireland on the subject of arrest procedures are kept under constant review and are designed to ensure that arrests are properly carried out.

Mr. Duffy

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when I was in Northern Ireland a fortnight ago I was meeting people who were still bitterly resentful and critical of civilian arrest procedures employed by the Army, which they thought unnecessarily tough and discriminatory? Whatever changes may now be impending in the light of the statement to be made later by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, does not the Minister think that his right hon. Friend's hard-won gains will not be preserved unless civilian arrest procedures are kept under the most scrupulous review?

Lord Balniel

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that the civilian arrest procedures must be kept under scrupulous review and control. Troops have been instructed that they should not use more force than is necessary in carrying out arrests. I do not accept the fairly sweeping allegation which I think was made to the hon. Gentleman by some people. Where there appears to be evidence of a criminal offence the case is referred to the civil authority, which is responsible for deciding what action, if any, is called for.

Mr. McMaster

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that no instructions are given to the troops which in any way inhibit their ability to pursue terrorists who have been either shooting at them or attacking them in any other way, or who are attacking any member of the public in Northern Ireland, and ensure that terrorists are pursued even into buildings so that an effective arrest can be made, in order to protect both soldiers and citizens for the future?

Lord Balniel

Yes, Sir. The Services have a responsibility to aid the civil power in the maintenance of law and order and they take whatever action is appropriate to do so.

13. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Minister of State for Defence what consideration he has given to further measures to control illegal traffic across the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

Lord Balniel

The security forces continue to exercise as tight a control on the border as is practicable. Naturally the requirement for further measures is kept under constant review.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

As the situation may be slightly more hopeful now than when I put down the Question, I will not press my right hon. Friend any further by way of supplementary question, because the last thing any of us in the House should do—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The word must match the intention.

18. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will make a further statement on the provision of compensation for the relatives of the men killed in Londonderry on 30th January last who were found innocent by the Widgery Report.

Lord Balniel

Negotiations are taking place in respect of the claims which have been received.

Mr. Willey

Will the Minister try to expedite these negotiations? Surely he realises that evidence of generous and sympathetic consideration would do a great deal to improve relations?

Lord Balniel

I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that these claims should be settled as speedily as circumstances permit.