HC Deb 20 March 1972 vol 833 cc1076-144

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

Leave having been given on Thursday, 16th March, under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss: the failure of the Government to announce the long-promised political initiative on Northern Ireland and the consequences and immediate dangers arising from that failure.

3.32 p.m.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

Once again the House debates Northern Ireland in the shadow of a ghastly atrocity today which the whole House will deplore.

This debate is long overdue. The House will be aware that for five or six weeks I have not pressed on the Government the proposal for all-party talks which I thought most hon. Members, and certainly the Government, had accepted in principle 16 weeks ago. The reason was that for the past six weeks and more there have been clear signals from the Government, supplemented by statements in the House, that a comprehensive Government initiative was being planned and that, having agreed on that initiative, the Government would bulldog it through without fear or favour.

There has been a great deal of Press speculation about the contents of the proposed package, much of which must have been pure speculation because some of the proposals we were told to expect were flatly inconsistent one with another. Not all of it was speculation. There was a strong belief that the Government were acting on clear proposals for, first, constitutional changes to provide for Catholic Ministers in a Coalition Cabinet; second, a run-down of internment; and, third, a 12-yearly referendum on the issue of the Border.

Ministers will concede that we have not pressed them unduly to hurry a statement. Indeed, recognising the difficulties which any Government would face in such a situation, particularly the possibility of making a statement on the eve of the Ulster Unionist Annual Conference, I said to the Lord President after the Business Statement on 2nd March: Is he aware that we trust it will not be too long delayed? On the other hand, it is better to get the right statement a day or two late than to rush the whole proceedings and pert haps get it wrong."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1972; Vol. 832, c. 755.] But that is nearly three weeks ago, and even today there is no guarantee of a statement this week.

After weeks of uncertainty, dangerous uncertainty in Northern Ireland exploited by men of evil intention—on both sides—we were told last Wednesday that the Prime Minister and Mr. Faulkner would be meeting, but not until seven days later. I acquit the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister of any desire for procrastination. It seems more that it was the pro-consul who was treating lightly the emperor's summons. If this visit has to wait for another seven days one has to ask whether Mr. Faulkner perhaps feels that these long weeks of uncertainty have strengthened his ability to resist the introduction of the comprehensive measures which the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues consider necessary.

Indeed, all last week the stage was being set for further resistance. Graver still, these weeks have been used for the development of a para-military state of preparedness which is causing deep insecurity and fear on both sides of the Border.

I do not under-rate the difficulties of the Government in this matter. Given courage, determination and willingness to attack this problem on a sufficiently comprehensive basis, when the initiative is announced the Government have the right to ask for the help of all of us. But we read—and, still more important, those who live in daily terror of the spread of violence read—stories of a divided Cabinet and of the inability of the right hon. Gentleman to take the action he believes to be necessary.

The evidence appears to be too deep and circumstantial to dismiss this speculation. We must all hope that it is untrue, or, if it is true, that the Prime Minister will now assert his authority. Were a decision on Northern Ireland adequate in scope and in authority to be withheld or further delayed for any such reason, this would amount to abdication in the face of the greatest challenge we have faced as a nation in this generation.

Last week the House read with deep anxiety the account of a resolution unanimously passed by Ulster Unionist back benchers rejecting in terms each and every proposal which in one grouping or another must form the constituents of the Government's initiative. The Prime Minister must make clear—I am sure he will—that the authority lies here in this House. We read of the pressures on the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and I for one am prepared to believe that some of the otherwise inexplicable actions of Mr. Faulkner have been designed to enable him to resist intolerable pressures from his own extremists. God grant that is so.

The House has debated Northern Ireland several times over recent months. I myself have spoken in the recall debate last September, in the debate on the Address, in the debate which followed shortly on my visit to Northern Ireland and in the debate on the tragedy of Derry. In the brief time we have today it is not necessary to go over all the arguments, and I do not propose to do so except to say that in my view, from intimate contacts with those most closely concerned in the North and among all those I met last week in Dublin the mood has worsened from doubt and anxiety to fear. There is fear that a still graver situation is on the point of developing which could engulf not only the danger areas of the North but the South, and—we must face this—could extend to this side of the water.

In terms of violence and threats of violence, in terms of fear, insecurity and the alienation and perversion of a whole generation of Ulster's youth, Catholic and Protestant, in a very real sense the bell tolls for all of us in these islands. Whatever any of us have said in past debates remains true but true in graver, greyer, darker colours.

The problems of Northern Ireland will not be solved by violence. I said this in Dublin last week in private as in public. For those who seek the unity of Ireland—and I said this in Dublin—violence can delay unity. It cannot achieve the unity of Ireland, still less advance it. No bombs, no guns, no acts of heroism can coerce a community into a political solution which they are not prepared to concede on the basis of consent. Violence can destroy Ireland long before there is any hope of uniting Ireland. Following the sombre words of the Victoria Hospital surgeon John Robb, wracked as he was by the obscenities of the Abercorn incident, in Dublin, I said: You can no more reassemble the dismembered parts of a nation than you can put together the dismembered, mutilated parts of the human body. Equally, a mere negative resistance to violence—and this is totally necessary—will not of itself bring peace and reconciliation to Ireland, North or South. In debate after debate we have urged this; urged that there must be a political initiative capable of firing the imagination of those who increasingly have been driven, wrongly but remorselessly, to the point where they believe that their grievances cannot be assuaged, that their aspirations can be made a possibility only by the invocation of violence.

At this point I must tell the House about another meeting in which I was involved in Dublin last week. On the initiative of a prominent member of the Dail, a meeting was arranged with three members of the Sinn Fein, which I understand is a legally registered political party, but one section of which has great influence over the I.R.A. Provisionals.

My purpose was to make clear to them that violence would achieve no political objectives in Northern Ireland, that there must be a political solution in the end negotiated between the elected representatives—and only between elected representatives—in the three Parliaments of the principal parties, that violence could not unite Ireland—indeed, could only delay the unity of Ireland, and could even destroy Ireland.

I also made it clear that no British Government could accept the three proposed conditions contained in the Republican movement's published document of 10th March as required, in their view, for continuing the three-day truce. I further pressed the point that when the British Government's initiative was made public there should be a truce to enable all parties, all organisations, all churches and all persons in Northern Ireland to judge the initiative coolly and not under pressure of violence. Indeed, if the Government's initiative was perhaps not regarded as adequate, among important sections in Northern Ireland, I strongly pressed the view that there should be an open-ended cease-fire to enable all-party talks to take place for building on and expanding the terms of the Government's initiative.

Finally, I made clear that many of us in Britain deemed it vital that elected political representatives of the minority in Northern Ireland should be totally free, without threats of violence and without other interference, to act as spokesmen of the minority in the search for a solution; because the efforts of us all—the Government from September onwards and the proposals for Northern Ireland talks—have suffered through the inability and fears of the elected representatives of the Catholic minority to feel free to enter openly into the talks which all of us in this House, and I believe in Ireland, desire.

I should make it clear that, while the Government were aware that such a meeting might take place, I did not seek their approval, nor could they have given it. But I must make it clear that I was not in this meeting to which I have referred, or at any point in my visit to Dublin, acting as intermediary for the British Government. This was made clear throughout my visit both in public and in private. I stressed publicly and privately that I had no foreknowledge of the contents of the proposed initiative. I have, however, since reported to the Government briefly on my talks in Dublin.

Going back to what has happened over the time since the House debated Northern Ireland in a two-day debate last November, I would point out that it is not so long ago that we were told that the security forces were getting on top. It seems a long time since we had reassuring statements that the containment of violence was succeeding. Event has succeeded event, and the legends created by each event have entered into hearts and minds, and into Irish history, regardless of the relation of these legends to these events. Bitterness, fear, insecurity have grown. In Ireland, tragically, legends mean more than facts; what is believed is more important than what is.

As the incident in the Falls Road in July, 1970—a tragic mistake but one for which I have never held this Government responsible—destroyed the confidence in troops who, when they marched in, were charged with the rôle of absolute neutrality between the communities; as internment changed the situation—now, as we must all admit, almost beyond repair; as Derry, where we await the report of Lord Widgery, has itself entered Irish history and legend with the same force as the histories of the Irish martyrs, whatever Lord Widgery may report—as a result of all this we start again today from a situation where initiatives which not long ago could have solved this problem could now be no more than dust in the wind. This is the law of diminishing acceptability of which I warned the House last November, 16 weeks ago.

There must be a willingness to negotiate, there must in due course be even a willingness to forget, if the power to forget even exists in a people so dominated by history.

The Government must take the initiative. Sixteen weeks ago I put forward my own proposals. One of them, which perhaps is worth mentioning, involved the continuance of Stormont on terms which included the transfer of responsibility for security from Stormont to this House. The events in the months since then have underlined this paramount necessity. The rôle of British troops has totally changed since they went in on the orders of the previous Government, and to the cheers of all communities in Northern Ireland, charged with protecting any against whom violence might be directed. My view is that their presence there is as urgently needed as ever. Tragically, it may shortly be needed even more so, indeed to protect a community too many of whom now look to the I.R.A. for protection, but whom in the case of an Grange backlash they know the I.R.A. could not protect.

We must produce an initiative in which the Army is there as the protector of all—and not regarded as pursuing a rôle directed against one section of the community—as quickly as possible. At the earliest possible moment, it is a peacekeeping rôle, not a rôle of search and arrest, to which the forces of the Crown must again be committed.

Nearly a year ago, when I pleaded with the Government to withdraw all the licences for privately held guns, I made clear that that impartial rôle was what I had in mind. In such a case if troops were to enter a house in search of weapons, it would be an impartial search involving Unionists' homes and Catholic homes alike. But now, through no fault of the troops but because of the orders they are given from political authority, they are regarded as the instruments of the Unionist majority.

We know how wrong that is, because the Unionist political leaders and their active supporters are themselves only a fraction within a Protestant majority which, outside politics—and many of us have met very many of them, trade unionists, businessmen, members of chambers of commerce and others—and freed from fear would be capable of understanding and desirous of reconciliation.

Mr. R. Stanley McMaster (Belfast, East)

Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that all the 270 to 280 people killed and 5,000 very seriously injured over the past two years have been killed or injured entirely as a result of I.R.A. activity?

Mr. Wilson

In all those cases where evidence has been produced, what the hon. Gentleman said is substantially true. There are some obscene atrocities in which the evidence is not as yet sufficiently clear. There is a growing danger of other forces using this kind of action in a provocative way to try to blacken still further the record of other people. This is something we must increasingly fear when a different I.R.A. faction, and perhaps some men of violence and evil on the other side, may wish to invoke violence. There is no evidence yet that it has happend so far.

In Dublin last week when on television I said that no British Government could accept a single one of the three propositions put forward by the I.R.A. Provisionals, and I expressed my view that British forces should stay as long as the people of Northern Ireland needed them. This is true, whatever the future may hold, and I say this not excluding the vision of a united Ireland; for if such an agreement were reached, it would be for the politicians of a united Ireland then to decide whether the presence of British troops was still required.

I trust that the initiative which the Government will put forward will be comprehensive, imaginative, courageous and, above all, adequate; and what is adequate today may drive deeper and harder, and to some may appear more provocative, than what would have been adequate last November.

Because delay has brought deterioration and fresh danger, I fear that it might have to go further even than what would have been adequate when the Government first proclaimed their intention to announce an initiative of their own only six weeks ago, so rapidly has the situation deteriorated. If the initiative is further delayed, what will have to be done will grow more difficult, more repugnant perhaps to many hon. Members, than the terms which I had hoped to debate today.

I asked of all the leaders of all the parties in Southern Ireland last week—and this is what I have said to my own party—a willingness to study the terms of the Government's initiative when it comes, to support with all our hearts and all our influence—because each of us in this House and certainly each party is capable of influence in varying degree on different communities in Northern Ireland—any proposals that we can fairly consider to be directed towards peace and reconciliation.

Indeed, we have gone further. If, as appears likely, the Government's initiative—and we recognise their difficulties—contains some elements which are worthy of support, the House should give them our full support and, even if we consider the package as a whole totally and perhaps bitterly inadequate, we should then seek to build on what is good rather than swing into a posture of out right condemnaiton.

Governments alone will not solve this problem. Parliaments can; but only on a genuine all-party basis, here, in Belfast, and in Dublin. If we fail, not as Governments but as Parliaments, then we create an area of desolation where violence and murder, an inhumanity bordering on bestiality, will breed and take over, where we shall perhaps have what many anxious people north and south of the Border fear most of all, a cross-fire of murder and violence almost impossible to control, with the Army and other security forces caught mercilessly and almost hopelessly within that cross-fire from the two extremes.

For those reasons, I shall not suggest today what should be the constituents of the Government's comprehensive initiative. I made my own proposals 16 weeks ago, and I have developed some of them since. Others here and north and south of the Irish Border have made their contribution to the pool of ideas which must be considered. I suggest that we should not today enter into a competition of permutations. If we do, false hopes will be raised and needless fears will be fed.

In these circumstances, therefore, I make only two points for the Government to take into account. One relates to suggestions which have been made for constitutional changes granting to the minority the statuory right of representation at every level in the Cabinet and the Ulster Government. This is right. The basic trouble, of course, has been the denial for over 50 years of any right to the minority one-third of the population to have any voice in decisions affecting their future.

Many of us would welcome constitutional changes of this kind. But I must warn the Government: constitutional guarantees on a confessional basis, depending on a man's faith, religion, whether he goes to Mass or takes a Protestant form of Communion, would be utterly wrong. It would be quite wrong to legislate on a confessional basis. If there is to be legislation—and I should welcome it—it should be to apportion authority in relation to the elected strengths of political parties, not faiths. The case is all the stronger in that in addition to the Northern Ireland Labour Party which has always rejected any religious test and which represents men and women of all faiths and none, we now see the cross-community Alliance Party with a parliamentary base for the first time.

My second point is this. If the Government, because of the difficulties that they face with their own party or in their dealings with Stormont, are forced into a position where their initiative is more restricted than we had been led to believe a month ago and on which high hopes were built, I plead with them at least to take an urgent and immediate decision by a programme, a time-table of phased releases to end imprisonment without trial.

Internment, as I have frankly told the House, certainly has led to the incarceration of many men concerned with acts of violence even if they have not yet been brought to trial. But no one can place any hope in a weary, negative continuance of that policy. For every man imprisoned, 10 more recruits have sprung up, as from dragons' teeth. When I called internment a recruiting sergeant for the I.R.A., there were many who felt that I was understating the position. The worst feature of all is that those who have flocked to the I.R.A. colours are drawn not only from the adult population, not even mainly from the adult population, but, above all, from the young and even the very young—that "class of 1980"to which I referred last November.

Nor is this all, with the facts and boasts of para-military preparations among the ultras on the Unionist side, together with the threats issued this weekend. The House must recognise this. Death's recruiting sergeant now at work, not on one side only, wears not the tricolour armband alone. Increasingly he wears the orange sash.

Therefore, I beseech the Government. This delay, pressures whether internal or external to this House, may have retricted the parameters within which their initiative can now be constructed and carried through; and all of us would regard this as a tragedy. But if that is so, at least let them have the courage now—and it will need courage which the world will applaud—to announce a phased programme on a time scale to end imprisonment without trial in Northern Ireland.

Then let us start from there. Then let us have the all-party talks, against that background, designed to produce a political settlement, short term, medium term and long term; and I repeat that long term must include the possibility of an Ireland united by consent.

It is our duty now in all parts of this House, in Stormont, and in Dublin, to work for a political settlement which alone can solve the problems of the tragic inheritance with which this generation must contend. We of this generation have inherited it. It is an inheritance deriving from events in history and no less in legend long before most of us were born, for which we do not carry the fault and for which we carry no responsibility. But responsibility for dealing with that inheritance is ours now. Above all—and there is no escaping this—it is the responsibility of this House and, in the last resort, only of this House. It is a responsibility that we cannot escape unless we confess ourselves content, having failed, to be absorbed into a still darker, still longer record and legend as the co-destroyers of a civilisation which one day a future generation to whom we shall have ignobly passed the burden will have to recreate and rebuild.

3.57 p.m.

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

As the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) rightly said, this debate takes place under the shadow of yet another atrocity. While the details are still coming in, it appears to have been a particularly callous and brutal act, once again regardless of the danger to the lives and limbs of innocent people of every age and of either sex. We must realise that any attempts to deal with the problems of Northern Ireland are bedevilled by these senseless, brutal acts of violence.

This debate takes place under the inhibition that the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland is coming here in a couple of days' time. Clearly, it would be wrong, if the Government had proposals to make, to make them public before they had been discussed with the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Therefore, I am sure that the House will recognise that I am not in a position today to go beyond what is possible in those circumstances.

I was grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about the way in which any proposals that the Government should make should be received. I am sure that it is right that, if we put forward proposals, they should be considered by everyone concerned with the future and peace of Northern Ireland deliberately and carefully before judgment is made.

Therefore, I am a little sorry because I understand that the debate is to end in a Division. I did not detect from the right hon. Gentleman's speech any division of principle which would justify dividing the House of Commons this evening. As I have said before, I attach very great and serious importance to trying to do what we can to present to the people of Northern Ireland a united point of view from this Parliament.

The right hon. Gentleman criticised us for delay, and it is fair to criticise any Government for delay, but I do not think that it is adequate to divide the House of Commons. In a matter like this, as the right hon. Gentleman knows so well—like the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), whom we are glad to see restored to health—those who shoulder this responsibility know the dangers inherent in any move in this particularly tense and delicate situation. Anything that we do can be a mistake, and mistakes in these matters can cost human lives. Therefore, caution and deliberation are reasonable counsellors in these matters.

It is right always to consider the dangers of taking an initiative, if that word is appropriate, against the danger of continuing the course on which we are at present set. We have to balance the one against the other. There is also the particular danger, when two sets of people are widely divided the one from the other—I am not talking about the Government, the I.R.A. or the men of violence; I am talking of the two communities, the genuine peace-loving vast majority of both communities who are certainly divided one from the other—that by trying to come with a solution between the two points of view we destroy our own position and do not contribute to a final solution.

That is why we have always sought to get agreement by discussion. This is why we have sought for many months past to get discussion between all parties concerned in Northern Ireland. We believe—I believe very strongly myself—that in the long run it is only by discussion that a lasting solution can evolve.

We took the initiative last summer when we proposed discussions with all concerned in Northern Ireland about the position there, discussions without any inhibitions and limitations. Indeed, I think that this was the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman and his party when they proposed discussions on an all-party basis. But they, like we, ran into the same road block. The political representatives of the minority community were not prepared to have these discussions. [Interruption.] I know the reasons that they gave. However, the simple fact is that they have not been prepared to have discussions. I think that history will record that this refusal to discuss the possibility of agreement has contributed a great deal to the prolongation of the problems of Northern Ireland.

I think that any solution must fall within certain very well defined limits, to which I should like to refer.

The first is that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. This simple statement of fact carries connotations in terms of both rights and obligations. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom by the will of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, and there can be no withdrawal of troops. People talk about withdrawing British troops. This surely is a total misunderstanding. It is said by many people abroad—in the United States particularly—that they are part of our Army, of our country. We cannot withdraw our own troops from our own country so long as they are needed to support the police force and the civil power in maintaining law and order. In a way, it is a pity to use the phrase—I confess that I have often used it myself—"the British Army". It is the United Kingdom Army in any part of the United Kingdom, and it will always be available in any part of the United Kingdom so long as the civil power needs its support in maintaining law and order.

The second point is that the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom cannot change without the consent of the majority. This is enshrined in the 1949 Act and in repeated assurances given time and again from both sides of this House—assurances from which I am certain neither side of the House could possibly depart without shame and dishonour. However, I must at the same time say that the rest of the United Kingdom, while recognising the right of Northern Ireland to remain with us, which we welcome so long as the majority wishes it, has to bear some very heavy burdens.

First, there is the presence of the Army of the United Kingdom carrying out a most distasteful task. I can imagine no worse, more difficult or more tragic task for any army than the job which our troops have to do in Northern Ireland. Nor can I think of any army whose morale could be so superb in the face of these difficulties.

The rest of the United Kingdom also has to carry a very heavy financial burden, the full extent of which is not yet wholly recognised, which is certainly growing as the development of the Northern Ireland economy is inhibited by the campaign of terror and violence.

Therefore, in exchange for these burdens, the rest of the United Kingdom is entitled to say to all people in Northern Ireland: "We expect all of you to do your best to reduce these burdens, even at some cost in your own ambitions or desires."

The present situation is a combination of criminal violence and political alienation. Neither should be underestimated. No one underestimates the degree of violence, though one cannot help wondering somehow or other that whereas six months ago one or two murders were a headline, now they seem to disappear into the inside depths of the newspapers. Almost inevitably anything in this world, sadly enough, becomes lost in its sharpness by repetition. The degree of brutality and violence of the terrorists should not be lost to sight by any of us.

We should not underestimate that there is also a deep political gulf now between the two communities in Northern Ireland. Surely there are the two things with which we should contend, both of them equally important. No solution for Northern Ireland can be satisfactory unless it deals with violence and also achieves a reconciliation between the two communities.

It is part of the aim of the I.R.A. to alienate the Catholic population from the Army and the peace-keeping forces. One thing which we must always bear in the forefront of our minds is the imperative necessity of distinguishing between the men of violence and the minority community as a whole, the vast majority of whom are totally opposed to violence in any form. That has been the aim of the I.R.A., and to some extent I am afraid that inevitably, in the facts of the situation, there has been some success.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston-upon-Hull, North) rose

Mr. Maudling

But there can be no compromise with murder in any shape or form. However, the nature of the problem is political as well as military, and the solution of the problem calls for a political as well as a military solution.

Mr. McNamara

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that before internment was introduced he was warned con- tinuously by hon. Members from this side of the House that the policy of internment would drive the I.R.A. towards finding a secure refuge amongst the minority, and that it is this foolish policy of the Government which has precipitated so much of the trouble?

Mr. Maudling

This matter is often argued, but I cannot accept it. I remember very well the way that the bombings and shootings escalated before internment was introduced. It was solely because of the extremely rapid rate of escalation of those incidents that internment was introduced. I shall have something to say about internment later.

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

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the rate of escalation has increased even more since the introduction of internment?

Mr. Maudling

No. I have studied the facts with great care. I do not accept that conclusion.

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

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Leader of the Opposition was listened to very carefully in almost complete silence. I think that the Government spokesman should be allowed the same courtesy.

Mr. Maudling

I was saying that this is a situation which must be dealt with by both military and political policies: military to deal with the security situation and political to achieve what we have always described as agreement on how we might have an active, permanent and guaranteed place for both the minority and the majority communities alike in the life and public affairs of Northern Ireland. This is our second objective, wholly subscribed to by the Northern Ireland Government and by Mr. Faulkner himself. This is still our desire. The two objectives together must be achieved. The one without the other is not adequate.

What has been lost in the last few months is a realisation of how much progress has been made since the Downing Street Declaration in the reform programme followed by successive Northern Ireland Governments. They have fully carried out the undertakings given in 1969 in the Downing Street Declaration. I think that if it were studied by any impartial person he would find that the degree of discrimination in jobs, houses, and so on, which was said to exist in 1969, will, with the completion of the reform programme, be eliminated.

But there are still two perfectly genuine fears, or feelings, on the part of the minority community. Just as the majority wish to have a total, permanent and effective guarantee that they will not, in Cardinal Conway's words, be bombed into a united Ireland, so the minority are entitled to ask for two things. The first is that discrimination on grounds of religion or any other sectarian grounds shall not be allowed to persist, and that there shall be guarantees against that. Secondly, they say—and I think rightly—that they want to play a full and proper part in the life of the country of which they are members. That reflects words which I have used, and which Mr. Brian Faulkner has used, that the minority community, like the majority community, should have an active, guaranteed and permanent part in the life of the country in which they live. Those, surely, are the limitations within which any proposals, or solution, or any intiative—if if one likes—should repose.

I now come to two other matters, the first of which is internment. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the problem of internment. Everyone—certainly everyone that I know—wants it to end as soon as possible. But it is a little too easy for people to say—the right hon. Gentleman did not do so, and I acquit him on this score—"Let us abolish internment, but do not let the gunmen loose again". It is not as easy as that. Everyone who can be charged with a crime in a normal court of law under the normal procedures is so charged. It is obviously in everyone's interests that he should be so charged. But when one looks at the facts in Northern Ireland, and at the recent examples of potential witnesses who have been murdered, one realises that the intimidation of witnesses is such that normal processes cannot wholly operate.

Everyone wants to see a rundown of internment, and then its abolition as soon as possible, but I do not think that anyone in this House—certainly not the right hon. Gentleman—wants to see the gunmen amongst the internees released on to the streets of Belfast to begin again their campaign of murder and violence. That is the problem of internment which we have to face frankly and as effectively as we can.

The other point that I want to make is the economic one, which is sometimes overlaid by the other, more dramatic, aspects of violence that are taking place. The trade unions of Northern Ireland, particularly when they have come to see me, have emphasised the need for massive economic help. We have provided massive economic help from this country, and I am certain that the House would want to do more in that direction. We shall, of course, do anything that we can do to provide economic sustenance for peaceful existence and development in Northern Ireland; but all that will be lost if it is poured into a country rent asunder and torn by fighting and violence. Any solution for the problems of Northern Ireland must contain within it far-reaching and important economic measures of support.

Mr. McMaster

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that what the terrorists want is not just political reform of the kind indicated by my right hon. Friend, nor even economic reform, but a united Ireland? Does he not agree that they want only one thing, and that is the unification of Ireland, against the will, or irrespective of the will, of the majority in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Maudling

My hon. Friend is right, and that is the one thing which they will not get in any circumstances. Neither side of the House, in any circumstances, would agree to the unification of Ireland against the wishes of the majority. Both parties are totally pledged to that.

I am sorry that I cannot go into more detail, for reasons which I explained at the beginning of my speech. I cannot do so because of the meeting that is to take place.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

My right hon. Friend having stressed that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, may I ask whether the Government have considered completely integrating Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, instead of diluting the powers of the present Parliament in Stormont?

Mr. Maudling

Any Government must consider all possibilities, and I hope that my hon. Friend, if he gets an opportunity to take part in the debate, will indicate his attitude to that suggestion.

It would be wrong for me in anything that I said to imply that we were doing one thing or another in the proposals that we may be putting forward this week. For reasons well known to the House this is a difficult time to debate Northern Ireland, but I believe that the considerations which I have laid down will be accepted as setting up limits within which any solution acceptable to the House can be reached. I still cannot see what is the issue of principle on which the right hon. Gentleman intends to divide the House tonight.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

Before the right hon. Gentleman resumes his seat, may I give him the opportunity to elucidate his phrase "in any circumstances"? I understood the right hon. Gentleman to mean that in no circumstances could terrorism lead to a united Ireland. I take it that he was not saying that in no circumstances could there be a united Ireland.

Mr. Maudling

My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) said that the terrorists wanted a united Ireland against the wishes of the majority. If the majority wished for a united Ireland, no one could stand in their way. We shall not force a minority into a united Ireland if they do not want it.

4.16 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

I naturally accept that the Home Secretary is in this difficulty, that talks with Mr. Faulkner are to take place soon and, therefore, he cannot possibly disclose to the House what are the terms of the package. What I find depressing, though, is that what the right hon. Gentleman said in his speech today he has been saying week in and week out, month in and month out, and, as we know, it has led to the situation that in his own words, the gulf between the communities has widened.

I confess that there was not in the right hon. Gentleman's speech today very much indication of new thinking or new hope. The right hon. Gentleman said that it was hoped that these matters could be settled by discussion. The answer is that we all did, but it has not worked, and the reason is that there is very little new to discuss until the Government take the initiative.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will at least acquit my Liberal colleagues in Northern Ireland, who may represent a small party, but one which, I think, has an honourable record in Stormont, of failure to take part in talks. One of its members is a former Member of Parliament, a Roman Catholic, and a person who has had great courage in remaining on the Community Relations Commission and trying to make community politics in that sense work. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that I speak as one who hoped that discussions would work, but they have not, and I would much rather that today we were discussing the Government's proposals than commenting on the fact that we are still awaiting them.

If one factor has been true in Ireland, it is that our timing has always been wrong. The present proposals would probably have been more acceptable even a week ago, before Mr. Craig and the Ulster Vanguard. They probably would have been more acceptable even after Londonderry. They probably would have been more acceptable immediately after the despatch of the troops in 1969. Also, they would, of course, have been preferable had they been put forward before the necessity arose for troops to be sent in the first place. We had to wait until we were virtually in a state of civil war before troops were sent to protect a Catholic minority who were in fear of their lives. Indeed, right up to that moment the House of Commons could not even debate the affairs of Northern Ireland.

I repeat that I believe that the great failure has always been one of timing, and the longer that these arrangements are delayed, the longer that Westminster appears to equivocate, the greater will be the opportunity given to men of extreme views who will be advocating extreme action. I hope that the Government, when they have made these package proposals, will move with great rapidity, and that these will be proposals which can be supported by both sides of the House.

I think that the Government would be the first to accept that one of their greatest impediments is that they have been so closely associated with the Unionist Party, which, by the very nature of its history, is committed to maintaining the Border in perpetuity. The job surely of this Government—of any Government in this country, I should have thought—is to be in favour of the unification of Ireland but only on the basis of consent, whereas, of course, the first part of that formula is a situation which, at least up to this moment, would never be contemplated by any Unionists.

As I have said before, the Prime Minister's speech in the Guildhall went a long way towards saying that unification was not ruled out, was not an impossibility for all time, that the Government rejected the sort of Hopkins on situation that we saw in Cyprus, of "never, never, never" would there be independence.

The right hon. Gentleman made it clear that if there were a clear majority for unification, it was unlikely that any British Government would stand in the way of that. That is a revolutionary departure from the position which was adopted by the Unionist Party and, so far as I know, is adopted by it to this moment.

So, first, we have to give long-term hope to the minority and reassurance to the majority.

Mr. Rafton Pounder (Belfast, South)

Just for the record, since the right hon. Gentleman is trying to make a very fair point, the following are the words used last Saturday by Mr. Craig— No change in the Constitution of Northern Ireland except with the consent of the majority. That is not quite the way in which the right hon. Gentleman was stating the case for the Unionist Party.

Mr. Thorpe

Mr. Craig was talking about the constitution and not the Border—

Mr. Pounder

They are the same thing.

Mr. Thorpe

With great respect, there are two totally different things. There is the actual constitution of Northern Ireland, which may or may not be changed—for example, with security transferred to Westminster but with a resident Minister in Belfast. That is a change in the constitution. There is then a major change in the constitution involving the end of the Border. They are all constitutional changes. Mr. Craig was saying that there could be no change in the constitution at all without the expressed consent of the majority in the North.

What I am saying is that there may well have to be an amendment of the constitution which did not have the consent of the majority in Northern Ireland—with the exception of the Border, which is a very particular issue on which I believe the people of Northern Ireland have a specific and special right of consultation.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Surely the point that the right hon. Gentleman is making is perfectly sound. The Attlee Declaration and the 1949 Act referred specifically to the Border, but in the Government of Ireland Act surely Section 75 reserves the total right of this House to legislate, whatever may be done in Northern Ireland. That right, of course, refers clearly to the constitution and is not covered, as in the Attlee Declaration, by any requirement that it must be supported by the majority. Surely that is the point.

Mr. Thorpe

I am very grateful. Of course this is completely the position. Section 75 reserves to this House the right to make constitutional changes with the exception of Section 1 of the 1949 Act, which expressly reserves to the Parliament of Northern Ireland a decision about the future of the Border.

Therefore, with respect to the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder), Mr. Craig's statement went very much further than he has suggested. The moral may well be that before people jump on Mr. Craig's bandwagon they should be clear about what he is actually saying. This is a case in point.

How, then, do we get negotiations for peace going? Obviously, internment looms very large. Perhaps it is the largest single factor. Of course I accept that some, indeed many, very dangerous men have been interned, but I also accept that it is highly probable—I put it as moderately as that—that some innocent men have been interned as well.

I know of a man who has been interned since 7th November, who is emphatic—and I believe him to be speaking the truth—that he has had no—[An. HON. MEMBER: "Can he prove it?"]. But this is the whole basis of the British legal system. That is the biggest Freudian slip of all—"Can he prove it?". The whole basis of our criminal law is that a man is innocent until and unless charges are brought against him. This is why we are dealing with an almost alien mentality, why the reservation in Section 75, thank God, reserves to this House the constitutional amendments which may be required.

This man has been waiting four weeks since he appeared before the Advisory Committee. He believes that one of the reasons why he has not been released is that he has refused to sign a declaration that he renounces violence. The reason is, he says, that he has never indulged in violence; he says that he has been wrongly interned, that he never intends to indulge in violence. Why, in order to terminate his wrongful internment, should he have to renounce something which he has never indulged in and never intends to?

Therefore, if we are to get talks going, it is vital that there should be no more internment. The House has to realise the fear in which many innocent members of the Catholic community stand—not merely of violence from the I.R.A. or the Provos, but that they themselves may be "lifted", that they may be interned. We have to say that all those against whom no charges can be brought will be released.

I accept that there is a grave difficulty with the intimidation of witnesses. I accept that for some of those who have to be charged there may have to be special courts sitting in camera, and that witnesses may have to give evidence by affidavit. It may even be that their names cannot be disclosed to counsel appearing for the accused. That is a great derogation from our legal system, but I accept that in this situation it may be necessary.

But I believe that, apart from that, there should be no more arrests, save within the context of the criminal law—and that means that the Special Powers Act has to go. That one thing is crucially important if we are to have some form of talks between the communities.

Mr. McMaster

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the full implica- tions of the following case in my constituency? Just three weeks ago an ordinary bus driver, Sidney Agnew, whose bus was hi-jacked, recognised one of the terrorists. A knock came at his door at 5 o'clock. He came to the door and, in front of his wife and children, he was shot dead. Every witness, every juryman and even the magistrate would be under a terrible threat to his own life if any attempt were made to try many of these terrorists.

Mr. Thorpe

I will answer the hon. Gentleman's point, but then I hope that the House will forgive me if I do not give way again, since so many still wish to speak.

Of course I accept that there is intimidation of witnesses, and that people who have laid complaints have been shot and murdered. But we also have to get talks going between all communities. I also accept that there are some innocent members of the community interned at the moment. I recognise the debilitating effect of this and of the fact that all those who are interned are exclusively members of one community. I am certain that the phasing out of internment is a prerequisite condition for getting negotiations going between people of good will on both sides.

I assume that if we are to keep the elective process going in Northern Ireland we want to encourage moderates in all communities not only to vote for moderates but to have cross-voting. I make no apologies as a Liberal for saying that I believe that the electoral system introduced in 1920, of P.R., will have to be re-introduced. I want a situation in which a moderate Catholic will cast his second preference for a moderate Protestant, and vice versa. This was happening at local and Stormont level when the system was operating. In other words, it has happened in the past and it can happen in future. It is vital that it does happen, not only for Stormont but for local government elections, too.

I agree with what the Leader of the Opposition said about community government. It must be not simply on the basis of confessional belief but on the basis of the representation of parties. I accept that this constitutes a form of all-party coalition, but we are dealing with the sort of situation in which this country would have accepted an all-party coalition.

It must be on the basis of an electoral system in which the members of the different communities can show not merely the strength of their voting but the variety of opinions which they express within one party. This must be the case, otherwise we shall have those branded as "Castle Catholics".

When considering the question of the Border we must bear in mind that Section 1 of the 1949 Act reserves this exclusively to Stormont. Indeed, that provision states that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of His Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. That means that every Stormont election is, in effect, a referendum on the Border. If one is in favour of the Border being maintained, one votes Unionist. If not, one votes Nationalist. I want to take this issue out of Stormont politics. I want Stormont, if it survives—there is a big question mark over that—to get on with the job of running the affairs of Northern Ireland, but that means having a system by which the people of Northern Ireland can be consulted.

I am aware that every political initiative which one takes in Northern Ireland will receive the reply "How will it apply in the United Kingdom?" I shall be told "The Liberals want P.R. in Northern Ireland only because they want it in the United Kingdom generally." To that I reply "No. I want a system which represents minorities, and nowhere is that more important than in Northern Ireland."

I shall then be told "You Liberals want a referendum on the Border issue. How do you square that with not wanting a referendum on the question of entering Europe?" My answer to that is that the question of Europe can and should be determined by a sovereign Parliament here at Westminster, whereas the problem of the Border should ideally be determined by this House in Westminster without a referendum. However, I want to take the whole issue away from Stormont, and the only logical way one can have that specialised interest consulted is by having a referendum in Northern Ireland.

Thus, the logic of being in favour of this course for Northern Ireland but not for the rest of the United Kingdom lies in the fact that we are dealing with two entirely different animals; here we have a sovereign Parliament, while in Stormont we have a Parliament with delegated powers.

It is clear that we must get talks going. This can be done only on the basis of phasing out internment. We must get community politics on the basis of an electoral system which guarantees the fair representation of minorities. We shall get ahead in future only if the whole question of the Border is taken out of the current elections in Stormont.

I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take to heart the letter from 14 prominent Catholics dealing with community relations, employment, the Ombudsman, participation, the police and other matters in which they are not convinced that the Downing Street package has been implemented in the way it should have been.

I believe that they are right and that the Unionists have been dragging their feet. The package cannot be left to the Unionists for implementation. This is the responsibility of this Government here, and if they have fair, realistic and courageous proposals and if they are seen to be pursuing them with vigour and determination, then I hope they will have the support of the whole House.

4.34 p.m.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

As this is a very short debate and many hon. Members wish to take part, I shall be extremely brief and not give way.

The Leader of the Liberal Party made an attempt to grapple with this extraordinarily difficult problem. There were a few, but not many, points in his speech with which I could agree, though his general remarks, like so many on this subject, were based on two clichés which we must get out of our minds before we can talk sensibly about this subject.

The first cliché is that the situation in Northern Ireland is so bad that no proposals could make it worse. This is not true. The approach of civil war in Ireland would be very much worse than the situation now.

The second cliché—this is so frequently said that it has become literally a cliché—is that there can be no military solution, so that there must be a political one. From this it is suggested that a political solution instead of a military one can solve the basic problem of Northern Ireland. Again, this is not self-evidently true, and, in my view, it is totally false. There must be a military solution of part of the problem. Of this there can be no doubt. No political solution can replace that military solution.

It is also possible for certain political proposals to exacerbate the situation to such an extent that the task of the military is rendered more difficult, if not impossible. So far from criticising the Government for not having rushed into the kind of proposals which have been mooted with increasing firmness in the Press and other media in recent weeks, I congratulate them. They could have done more harm than good had they rushed in with such proposals; and the longer they think about this, the more apparent the difficulties will become and the more apparent will be the dangers of the process and the minor nature of the benefits which are to be gained.

I said that I agreed with some of what the Leader of the Liberal Party said. It is not true to say that those on this side of the House who are described as hardliners about Ulster think that there is no need for reform and political action of any kind. We obviously believe that there is. If it is true—the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) may be right aboutthis—that a number of reforms which we thought we had got agreed between Westminster and Stormont and all parties have not been fully implemented—obviously some of them cannot be in the present situation in Ulster; those which could have been, should have been—then I agree that Her Majesty's Government at Westminster should bring all pressure to bear to see that they are implemented, and in my view they would have little difficulty in the present situation in getting the necessary assurances from Mr. Faulkner.

Certain political proposals could be put forward now, for at the end, when the violence has stopped, there must be a political situation in which the two hostile communities can live together. It is entirely right that proposals should be made now to make this possible when the violence has stopped.

What is overlooked by many commentators and others is the fact that proposals of this kind made now will do little to help the immediate difficulties with which we are faced in Northern Ireland. First, there is the risk that if they go too far they will exacerbate the extremists in the Protestant majority and feed the suspicion and doubts which the majority have and so make a solution more difficult.

Second, there is the fact—I beg the Government to recognise this—that for any political initiatives of this kind, the return at the moment will be infinitesimal. The people whom we are being asked to conciliate are in large measure unconcilable, unless they have been conciliated already. A considerable proportion of the Catholic minority has already been conciliated. The reforms which have been carried out or promised will, when completed, meet the points which the original civil rights movement existed to achieve.

The civil rights movement has illustrated throughout its history precisely the difficulty with which we are faced in Ulster. When one thing is granted, the demands escalate. It is futile to imagine that anything will stop the I.R.A. or will stop the extremists in the civil rights movement from continuing a campaign which is either violent or tends towards violence. The conciliation of these people cannot be achieved by minor political initiatives now, and major political initiatives will inevitably exacerbate the so-called Protestant backlash. I hold no brief for Mr. Craig. I have heard him speaking to Unionist audiences. I again urge the Government not to underestimate either his influence or his effectiveness with Unionist audiences in Ulster. He is a very influential and effective man, and is becoming more so.

I disagree with those who have suggested—including, I think, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—that the increase in the strength and noisiness of the Unionist extremists has been due to the Government's delay in producing a package deal. On the contrary, things started to escalate badly in Northern Ireland, and the doubts and suspicions of the Unionists began to be exacerbated, from last November when the Leader of the Opposition originally made his proposals.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)


Mr. Maude

The right hon. Gentleman's proposals were based on the virtual promise of a united Ireland ultimately. We know that he hedged it about with provisos and safeguards, but it was when the Labour Party apparently, to the Northern Irish, committed itself to a united Ireland that the trouble began and the Protestants began—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite do not like this, but it is true. One has only to go there and listen, as I have done several times since then, to know what the feeling has become. It is not the fault of the Government that things have been getting more difficult in Northern Ireland. If it is anyone's fault, it is the Opposition's fault.

I beg the Government to believe that they can now, by a single false step, make a civil war in Ireland not perhaps a certainty but a very grave danger. This would be a hideous betrayal of the peaceful Catholic minority as well as of the Unionist majority. Moreover—and I acquit my right hon. Friends of any intention to do this—if it should appear in Northern Ireland that Mr. Faulkner, when he comes here, is being confronted with unacceptable conditions or terms and being blackmailed into accepting them, the situation will get worse from that moment. Moreover, Mr. Faulkner's position might become totally untenable. I beg the Government to believe, if they do not know this already—though I think they do—that if Mr. Faulkner goes, there is no hope of ever negotiating terms with a moderate Unionist Government in Northern Ireland. Therefore, somehow or other the Government must negotiate an agreement with Mr. Faulkner which will meet the long-term political necessities of peaceful co-existence, which we know have to be agreed, without giving way on the things which are immediately urgent now to secure an end of violence.

Of course everybody wants the end of internment. Of course this is what the I.R.A. and its supporters and sympathisers want. Moderate Catholics will say that they want a few internees released. But we cannot turn 200 or 300 hard-core gunmen on to the streets of Belfast and Derry. If we release a few now—there may be some whom it would be safe to release: if so, I do not mind: but I know that—

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Is the hon. Gentleman in favour of permanent internment?

Mr. Maude

If we release a few, the demand will escalate to release more and more and then the lot. It will not bring anyone to the conference table. Anyone who believes that is fooling himself. If the representatives of the Catholic minority are so anxious to get around a table and do a deal, why have they not done it so far and why are they not at Stormont now representing their constituents? We are told that the minority is unrepresented politically. It has representatives. They walked out. They are not doing their job. No amount of appeasement short of what the I.R.A. and its sympathisers want will ever bring them to negotiate. It is folly to imagine that it will, because they are now so far out on a limb that they cannot get back.

The Government have an almost impossible task. This is an almost impossible situation. But it has got to be solved by the destruction and defeat of violence. The wrong attempts at compromise now could make it worse and not better.

4.46 p.m.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

I shall be very brief. There is an air of déjà vu about the debate. Our classic failure for centuries, more specifically over the last century, in dealing with Ireland—this is what the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) does not understand—is that we have always done too little and done it too late. The other failing is to let a minority of Irishmen who happen to live in four of the 32 counties of Ireland dictate policy at Westminster. These are the same people who, when my hon. Friends the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) and I went to Ireland to see for ourselves in 1967, talked about "interfering Englishmen". Yet today they ask to be integrated. These are the people who waved the Union Jack as they shot down R.U.C. Constable Arbuckle. It was not a member of the I.R.A. who did that but people on the Shankill waving a Union Jack, pumping bullets into British soldiers. That started off the escalation of violence.

Mr. McMaster rose

Mr. Rose

These are people who have talked for years about U.D.I.—there is nothing new about Craig's statement this weekend—and have now used the breathing space that has been conveniently given to them by the party opposite by their dilatory behaviour, to form a para-military organisation, the Ulster Vanguard, only replacing what was illegal before, the U.V.F. We know about the activities of the U.V.F. Many of us had many threats from them, years and years ago, long before the I.R.A. existed. We know that the U.V.F. was threatening Members of this House. I have letters to prove it. There is nothing remarkable—

Mr. James Kilfedder (Down, North) rose—[Interruption]

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


Mr. Kilfedder

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member representing an English constituency to make remarks of that sort?

Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr. Rose

I promised to be brief. The hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) voted against the Manchester Corporation Bill when he represented a constituency in Northern Ireland.

These are the people who this weekend were inciting to murder by talk of liquidation of their opponents. There is nothing remarkable about it, because these are things that we have known all along. Our failure to confront them when we had the opportunity to do so now means that when we eventually grasp that nettle, as we inevitably have to do, it will be that much more difficult.

We are told that the Government will not and should not yield to violence. I agree with that; but the violence is not merely from one side. When violence comes from the I.R.A., we abhor and condemn that violence out of hand. I want to get hon. Members opposite to condemn the violence that has come from their side.

The beginning of the I.R.A. must be understood. The last escalation came after the burning down of hundreds of houses, when slogans were put up saying, "I.R.A.—Run away", because the people, in their bitterness at having their homes burned down, felt they were not being supported. That incident saw the birth of the I.R.A. and their campaign of violence.

The Government cannot go on using the blackmail of the backlash as an expedient and pretext for resisting an initiative which, in the words of Sydney Smith, ought to have been taken 150 years ago, if one reads as far back as that time. Ulster was founded on the threat of violence and insurrection by Carson. Craig has now donned the mantle of Carson and the same threat of violence in order to blackmail the Government. There will be no peace in Ulster until that threat is met. Who is the Home Secretary, or the hon. Member for Down, North, to dictate and control security? What is the philosophical justification for men who will fight to the death for the British connection and will fight against the British Army in doing this? Ultimately they are men of straw and we should not overrate the backlash. Their whole philosophy crumbles if they claim to be British and yet resist the will of this Parliament, blackmailing Parliament and the rightful Government of this country.

A community government is needed, therefore, where decision-making will be made by all the people in Northern Ireland, whatever their community. There is the example of the Derry Commission which worked well until internment was brought in. Such a Commission might replace Stormont. The second priority must be to end internment. In the few months before internment four civilians and four military personnel were killed. In the same period after internment began the number had risen to 70. That was the effect of internment in damping down the situation. In the long run there must be the vision and perspective of the possibility of a United Ireland in which we, with Dublin, and with elected representatives of both the communities in Northern Ireland must take part. The Protestants in Northern Ireland, with their industry. their background and their very strong qualities, have a great deal to give to a united Ireland. They are complementary and Ireland would be the poorer without them. I believe there must be generosity by Dublin, particularly in those aspects of law that affect personal life, to show more flexibility to accommodate the new situation. This is why I want to see talks not only with Dublin but with the communities of both the minority and majority in Northern Ireland.

So let us not again do too little too late and let us not forget that the Compton Report was not new. There was a Devon Report 101 years ago on the same subject, which said the same thing, until it was found out 10 or 20 years later what had actually happened to the prisoners. Let us not forget what was written 150 years ago by Sydney Smith who predicted the inevitable confrontation with the Orangemen who have divided worker from worker in Northern Ireland. Ulster saw the growth of threats of violence by the Craigs of that time. Let us not forget the home rule Bill which did not get through until it was too late for it to be effective or that the 1916 shootings were counter-productive and it was from them that the need grew for—

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle) rose

Mr. Rose

I will discuss the matter later with the hon. Member but I promised Mr. Speaker that I would speak for no more than five minutes and I—[Interruption] Hon. Members are preventing me from honouring a promise to Mr. Speaker that I would take no more than five minutes.

All these things were counter productive just as the hangings were as far back as 1867. We will never learn. In this Parliament we have never known how to deal with the territory that is nearest to us across the Irish Sea. We will not learn the lesson of 150 or, indeed, 700 years. We, who have set an example to the world in dealing with a vast empire, have never understood our nearest neighbours.

Ulstermen, whatever their faith, are not Yorkshiremen. They have great traditions which have been manipulated and twisted by politicians from Sir Randolph Churchill down to hon. Members opposite. They have been twisted and perverted to the same old slogan of "no surrender" and "a Protestant Parliament for Protestant people". In an artificially created State guaranteeing permanent majority rule to one section of the population there can be no democracy. Stormont is an imitation and a very poor and perverted imitation of democracy and in that situation a new and radical initiative is needed. [Interruption.] If hon. Members would stop heckling me from a sedentary position—

Mr. William Clark (Surrey, East)

The hon. Member could have said something about the British point of view and he could have castigated the I.R.A. rather than giving the impression that the I.R.A. was absolutely right.

Mr. Rose

If the hon. Member had not been barracking he would have heard me repeatedly condemn the I.R.A. and I will go on condemning the I.R.A. for its acts of violence. I explained how the violence came about and I ask him to condemn those on the other side who have also used violence.

A radical initiative is now needed. Every day we have a divided Cabinet putting off the decision the battle lines harden and the forces draw up on both sides. The ultimate achievement of a political settlement becomes more and more difficult and the ultimate task of the military may also become more difficult. For weeks we have had the Government dithering and trembling on the brink and we shall show our disapproval of that dithering and trembling and of their thoroughly negative attitude in the Lobbies tonight.

4.59 p.m.

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

The situation is far too serious for me to debate the dreamy fallacies which the hon. Member has just been discussing. The latest news from Belfast is that the bomb in the car in Donegall Street killed six and injured 97, some very badly. There were three warning telephone calls which appear to have been designed to get the people into the street where the explosion was to take place. This is the background against which we are debating this situation today.

The Leader of the Opposition was perfectly right to present the problem in sombre terms. It is a very sombre situation. In the last three years the majority community in Ulster—and when I say the majority I am not talking of Protestants alone but of the Protestant and Catholic people of Ulster who want nothing more than peace, order and security—have suffered with the most extraordinary patience and courage the most appalling disasters that could have befallen any community.

There have been 245 dead, 5,500 injured, 1,500 explosions and millions and millions of pounds worth of damage in an area with the population of 1,500,000. If all that had happened in the boroughs of South-East London would the people there have been as patient as our people have been? My own town of Newry, a little town of 11,393 inhabitants, has suffered damages amounting to approximately £2 million. Almost half the business establishments in that little town have been destroyed.

That is the background against which the debate is taking place. The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley has an awful lot to answer for. He has more to answer for now as a result of the attempt to be inflammatory today.

Mr. Rose rose

Captain Orr

I will not give way. I have made the same promise to Mr. Speaker as the hon. Gentleman did. The hon. Gentleman has done enough.

Mr. Duffy

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a convention of the House that when an hon. Gentleman makes an attack on another hon. Member he gives way to the hon. Member in question?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is a matter entirely for the hon. Gentleman concerned.

Captain Orr

I, too, have promised to be brief. The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley is fond of dishing it out. He can jolly well take it this time. I will continue with my speech.

Mr. Rose

On a point of order. The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) insists upon making not a general attack but a personal attack on me and my integrity. Do not I have the right to reply to him Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have already answered that point of order.

Captain Orr

The Leader of the Opposition and others talked about the deterioration which has taken place in the situation over the past few weeks. It is true that a considerable deterioration has taken place, and for one reason only—the doubts that have been created about the future.

The Government have not been the only culprit by any manner of means in the creation of doubts. I accept that the Leader of the Opposition may not have intended when in Dublin to create doubt, but certainly some of the things he said created doubts. The trouble is—and this is the reason for the Vanguard movement and the rallies in Ormeau Park—that the message is getting abroad in Ulster that the only way to make or prevent political decisions is through a massive display of force.

This is an appalling indictment of all our handling of the situation. It is an indictment of the House. We have made serious failures in our approach to the matter in the House. The first is the failure to give the law-abiding majority, both Catholic and Protestant, confidence that their houses, their lives, their children, their property, and the constitution under which they live are secure. The second failure is to make the majority of the Catholic community feel confident that they can respond to the offer of a greater share in Government without fear. The third mistake is that we have failed to make it clear that the democratically-expressed will of the majority of the community will be respected.

I agree with the Leader of the Opposition, I think it was, who said that now is perhaps not the right time to discuss specific proposals of any kind. I am inclined to follow his example now and deal with a few guiding principles which I think should be in the minds of people of good will, when they are talking between Governments on Wednesday and when we are considering what may come out of any discussions.

The first one—and I hope no one in the House will dissent from this—is that nothing should be done that will raise the temperature. It is very tempting in a difficult political situation for a Government, an Opposition, or anyone to make dramatic suggestions. There are times, and there may have been times in the past, when a dramatic initiative might have been useful, but now is not the time for drama. If ever there was a time for a Government to keep their head and play it cool, it is now.

The second principle is that whatever is done must be done with the objective of restoring confidence in the future to both Catholic and Protestants. This House must win, what it does not have at present, the trust of the majority of the people of Ulster. It has not got it because of the doubts which have been expressed about the political future. That trust must be gained, because unless policies for Ulster are founded on the broad wishes of the majority of the people those policies are condemned to ruin and the country is condemned to chaos and destruction.

My third principle is the removal of political fear. In looking on Wednesday, and thereafter, at the arrangements which may be made between the Governments for the political future, we must look at anything which looks like a transfer of authority from one to another against the background of the fact that the House does not command the confidence of the majority in Ulster at present. So long as Labour Members and sections of the Press continue to make the wildest speculations and the wildest suggestions about the future in Ulster, so long as it is suggested that the will of the majority in Ulster might be flouted, so long will any real or imagined transfer of authority be likely to increase tension rather than diminish it. It is the fear that hon. Members like the Member for Manchester, Blackley might some day be in power here that makes the people of Ulster stick to their local Parliament. Until that fear is removed—

Mr. Stallart rose

Captain Orr

I will not give way, because I have promised to be brief.

My next principle—and I was glad that the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party made almost the same point—is that neither on Wednesday nor in any other discussions should anything be forced upon the Government of Northern Ireland that would create an apartheid system based upon religion. [Interruption.] It is true that history has brought about a situation in Ulster where apartheid does exist, in the sense that people tend to live in different places and go to different schools. I ask the House not to despair of integration, not to think permanently of two communities. I honestly believe that integration of the communities is still possible. It exists in the U.D.R., the R.U.C., the professions and the new industries. There are many conditions under which Catholic and Protestant work perfectly happily together, in the trade unions and other organisations. We should not in any of our arrangements create a situation where that could not develop.

There is another aspect which the Government should take into account when considering what takes place on Wednesday. I beg my right hon. Friend to be careful about it. Whatever we do, whatever ideas may be produced on Wednesday, whatever ideas may be discussed between the Governments, there comes a time when something may have to be announced, and it is vitally important that the maximum sensitivity should be used in the handling of anything that may be done. A good idea may come forward but it is doomed to failure unless it is presented with some kind of sensitivity.

Let us remember that the people in Ulster have not simply been reading the terror and the tears for three years; they have been suffering the terror and the tears for three years. The nerves are raw. The political antennae are hopelessly over-sensitive. Any foolish handling of the situation, however good the idea may be, is doomed to failure unless someone of the highest authority tells the people what is impending, what has happened, and convinces them that it is for their benefit, for their good, for peace, order, safety and security, that it is designed to destroy terror. Only in that way can something good come out of what happens. The very last thing must be anything that looks like an attempt to coerce or dragoon people.

I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend emphasise that the Army is the United Kingdom Army on United Kingdom soil. It is vital to remember that what the majority of the people in Ulster want above all is a guarantee of the Union. Within the guarantee of the Union, one can bring about a perfectly just society, but the Union must be guaranteed and the guarantee must include the restoration of peace and order and safety for everyone.

5.13 p.m.

Mr. Maurice Foley (West Bromwich)

I associate myself with the condemnation of the violence in Donegall Street today and express my regret at the bereavements which have taken place. It is probably the only thing, quite frankly, in which I can associate myself with the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr), who, given the responsible position he has held in the Orange Order, reminds me, when he lectures the House on majorities and minorities, of Satan rebuking sin. Indeed, not only do I deeply sympathise with the Home Secretary, who has difficulties enough in producing his new package, but I start to understand some of the hesitations of the last six weeks after listening to one of his colleagues indulging in the kind of phrases we have just heard from the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South, who gave an absolute distortion of the truth.

It is true that each day there are deaths and violence. It is true that the Government have consistently taken the easier options to react to violence and to allow the local situation to determine their lines of policy. I found it incredible that the hon. Gentleman, referring to the uncertainty about potential political intiatives as having produced the Vanguard movement, said not a word of condemnation of the speeches made at the weekend and of the sinister undertones and, indeed, the overtones, in that kind of assembly.

I want to turn now to the question of law and order and one aspect in particular which is often neglected but which is probably more profound than some of the violence we see on our television screens. This is the extent to which the campaign of civil disobedience has bitten into the heart of the minority community and to which competent, able men of responsibility and honour have withdrawn from public life over many years as a demonstration of their abhorrence at the drift and the partiality of the British Government in dealing with the situation in Northern Ireland.

The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude), who articulates it in particular, commented that there could be no solution other than a military one—that until we get that we can get nothing more. But we ought to learn from other people's experience, and from our own colonial experience in Africa as well as in Aden of recent years, that where a population provides custody for gunmen, one takes on that population, and until one finds some means of political solution whereby it disowns the gunmen, one will never get a military solution.

Mr. Maude

I had better correct the hon. Gentleman now. I did not say that there could be no political solution until there was a military solution. I said that there could be no solution which did not include a military solution of the present situation.

Mr. Foley

I accept that that is what the hon. Gentleman said. All I can say is that, since the deployment of British troops in Northern Ireland and since the escalation of violence, one has seen nothing in the way of political initiatives, and this has led everyone to believe that the Government were intent on a military solution.

Mr. McMaster rose

Mr. Foley

No, I must get on. Those who argue that this is just an urban guerrilla situation have misread history and reality. If the Government argue that way, then, whenever they may produce their proposals, they will be doomed to failure if their reading of the situation is that somehow it concerns just a group of bombers and madmen and nothing more. In effect, through the policy of internment, we have the total alienation of the minority population. About 900 men are interned or detained, and except for a handful they are all Catholic. When the Home Secretary says, as he has done today, that the violence has not escalated since internment, he should look at the facts again, and I hope that we can be told the death toll of soldiers since the policy of internment was introduced, compared with what it was before.

Mr. Maudling

I did not say that it had not escalated. I said that the rate of escalation had not changed in the two periods.

Mr. Foley

Will the right hon. Gentleman then explain whether it is his judgment that the violence, the deaths, are the bombings are all exclusively carried out from the minority side and whether this policy of search and detention and internment is the policy of repression of the minority? One is inescapably led to believe, given the realities of internment, that there is a degree of bias, that there must be a degree of political direction, either from Stormont with the connivance of Westminster, or from Westminster itself, in terms of dealing with the minority community.

There is no panacea; there is no one simple way to minimise violence and bring about normality. To build upon common ground, we must not deal with the effects but the cause. The cause is that for 15 years the minority community in part of the United Kingdom has been denied its fundamental rights, and we must recognise this. It is right to reassure the majority in the North that the constitutional link with Britain stays until the majority wishes otherwise. We cannot intimidate or coerce the majority into belonging to a united Ireland, we cannot embark on a policy of creating a Bogside in reverse.

Secondly, and equally important, we must assure the minority that new structures must emerge to give them full participation in economic and political life. I want something more from the Home Secretary than talk of permanent and guaranteed rights which he has been using since last September. I want him to spell this out a little more clearly. Does he mean that it is perfectly respectable for someone in the North to want to maintain links with Britain? Is it equally perfectly respectable for someone to believe in a United Ireland? If these two views are both respectable, provided there is no argument about coercion, intimidation or violence to achieve them, we might be beginning a return to normality.

The Orange Order and the Unionist Party has maintained for the last 50 years that anyone who believed in a united Ireland was a subversive element, to be kept under control. If we have learned that from the last three years we have achieved something and we have something on which to build. I should like a declaration from the Government saying that this is so, that someone who believes in a united Ireland through peaceful ends is not to be denigrated or denied his fundamental rights but can live and work towards that principle in Northern Ireland, accepting positions of responsibility at all levels. If this is so it is a contradiction of Orange Unionism over the last 50 years and we have achieved something for the minority.

Where do we move from here? Given the political divisions in Northern Ireland it is nonsense to expect people to sit round a table and produce some kind of solution. We need to buy a breathing space to enable us to invest in normality so that the majority and minority may ultimately work out a solution from within Northern Ireland. We must move with internment, we must bring security and home affairs under the control of Westminster. Stormont ought to be put in abeyance for two years to give us a chance to build that normality, with economic assistance, with a view to recreating something new built on the harsh and bitter experience of the past.

If these thoughts can be embodied in the Home Secretary's proposals I will support them. In the absence of such policies I have no hesitation in condemning the Government for their failure to take a political initiative.

5.23 p.m.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)

A debate on Ulster obviously creates special difficulties at this time. I must express my sorrow that the Leader of the Opposition decided to press for a debate now and my even greater sorrow that it should be the intention of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to divide the House. This is a great pity. Nevertheless, there are some things which can usefully be said about the present situation without exacerbating it.

All of us who speak ought to mark our words well to see that they do not have the effect of exacerbating an existing tragic situation. That has largely been the case in the debate so far, with the exception of the speech of the hon. hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose). I am sorry that he is not present. I do not say that any of the speeches made by my hon. Friends on this subject have in any way been exacer-batory, but I would say to the hon. Member that I hope he will carefully and quietly read his speech tomorrow and then search his heart and ask whether he thinks that his contribution was really helpful in the context of the present situation. It was an inflammatory speech, not at all helpful.

He and others opposite have asked for a condemnation of violence from this side of the House—violence from where ever it comes. Of course, I gladly make such a condemnation and a condemnation of talk of violence and liquidation. This way of expressing oneself in this context by any leaders in Ulster or anywhere must be condemned and I gladly do so.

Mr. Orme

That is the first time anyone on that side of the House has done so today.

Mr. Buck

I hope that we shall have two things from hon. Members and hon. Ladies opposite—condemnation of I.R.A. violence and it would not come amiss if we had from all hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies opposite a tribute to the forbearance of the British troops in Ulster and to the magnificent work they are doing. A tribute to their families also would not come amiss. Many of them live in my constituency and I see the great strain and suffering imposed on them by the present situation. I have made earlier the condemnation for which hon. Members opposite ask. I hope that we shall have a response from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who may speak later.

We are soon to have an announcement of what has been described as the Government's initiative. The word "initiative" and the concept behind an initiative appear to have been condemned by some, including, according to Press reports at the weekend, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) who I am sorry is not here. I have told him that I intended to refer to what he had to say.

He is reported as having suggested that the word "initiative" in the context of Northern Ireland today is to be regarded as synonomous with abdication. I believe that my right hon. Friend is in error on this. Change there must be from time to time in the framework and structure of Government. My right hon. Friend has spoken with considerable eloquence of the prime duties of Government being to provide a civilised framework for Government and to hold the ring for growth and change. From time to time the frame- work of Government must be altered or repaired and at present few would suggest that this framework is perfect. In the past my right hon. Friend has taken a more radical view than I of the changes necessary. What would be abdication at this time would be to do nothing, because it would mean that the gunmen had got their way in perpetuating an imperfect system. They would be able to use those imperfections to strengthen their base. It would be abdication for there to be no action at this time. What will be brought forward we do not know, although a wide range of possibilities was suggested in the Sunday newspapers over the weekend.

Criticism has been made of the time it is taking my right hon. Friends to bring forward their suggestions and plans. Such criticisms are really criticisms of our democratic system and are less valid because of the complexities of the issues and because so much in terms of human happiness and human misery depends on the decisions being right. We are not here concerned with fiscal finesse or lame ducks; we are concerned with preventing maimed bodies and preventing the loss of life of men, women, children and young soldiers in their full prime and vigour. The situation is already septic and if it is allowed to become gangrenous the health of the whole body politic will be affected.

As a friend of Ulster I say that change is needed. I regard myself as a friend of Ulster. I have had the privilege, and sometimes the high adventure, of visiting the Province on many occasions. I have also had the pleasure of visiting the home of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). My visits go back to the halcyon days of 1952 when I was Chairman of the Federation of University Conservative and Unionist Associations—[Laughter.]—a very fine organisation although it was strangely named. At that time I developed an admiration for those who succeeded in remaining moderate in the context of Ulster politics. The people of Ulster have a gaiety and kindness but to remain moderate in Ulster politics takes great courage. There are many in the Unionist Party whose courage I greatly admire. We must back the forces of moderation.

To condemn unheard the proposals which are to be brought forward by the Government would be foolish, and there has unfortunately already been a tendency to show that type of foolishness. Fortunately, Lord Moyola and Sir Robert Porter have shown their customary good sense in reiterating that there can be no question of a movement towards a united Ireland in the absence of majority support for it, but have also shown strength and moderation by pointing out that there is room for manoeuvre. Modest and well thought out change can be our ally, but it must be on the basis of twin pillars. The first pillar is that the one million people and more who wish to remain part of the United Kingdom will be allowed so to do. I hope that is a policy on which a majority on both sides of the House can agree. The second pillar is that the 250,000 and more will not be second-class citizens but will be assisted to live full lives playing an active part in the affairs of the Province, so long as they adopt a rational attitude to the affairs of the Province.

I have no doubt that the proposals which will be brought forward shortly will be imaginative and moderate and I hope that both sides of the House will be able to support them, although there will inevitably be a few exceptions. I hope we shall be able to unite in supporting moderation in Ulster which, almost miraculously, is still a strong force, as was indicated by the polls published over the weekend.

5.35 p.m.

Mr. Frank McManus (Fermanagh and Tyrone)

I will not attempt to comment on the remarks of the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck). I do not understand how something can at the same time be moderate and imaginative; there seems to be an illogicality there.

The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) dwelt poetically on the theme of sensitivity. He seemed to feel that without sensitivity anything which was done might fail. I conclude that the initiatives which are to come may be aimed for once against his side of the fence and that is why he pleads for sensitivity. The least sensitive thing that has happened in Northern Ireland for 50 years is internment, which was brutal in all its aspects, yet when internment was introduced the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South did not plead for sensitivity. The hypocrisy of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is plain.

Why do the Government always follow the diktat, "Too little, too late"? They have waited more than seven months since internment in an atmosphere of escalating violence, destruction, death, horror and terror. For all that time, they have done nothing. Seven months ago moderate suggestions were put to them, but the Government did nothing. They are now considering the sort of demands which were made then. In seven months' time, after further death, destruction and horror, they will be considering the demands which are being made now. It is always too little, too late. The Government have only themselves to blame if the proposals they now bring forward, which we suspect will be too little too late, are publicly and unanimously rejected by the minority. The Government are not capable of solving this problem, and the sooner they step down and allow someone else to try the better for us all.

Not only have the Government done nothing about Northern Ireland but they have extended their repressive policies into England. England prides itself on its great tradition of freedom of speech. Speakers' Corner and Trafalgar Square are renowned all over the world as places where people can stand up and speak their minds. But the Government now say that Irish people cannot speak their minds on the Irish question. In addition, they are sending left-wing Socialist Irishmen home on trumped-up charges. The only thing they have not done is to embody the Special Powers Act and intern Socialists and Irishmen in this country who do not agree with the Government's attitude on Northern Ireland. That is probably round the corner.

For the benefit of the Government I will reiterate the basic demands of the minority in Northern Ireland. That minority is not 250,000 as the hon. Member for Colchester suggested, it is almost 40 per cent. of the population of Northern Ireland. The basic demands are these: an absolute unconditional end to internment and an amnesty for all political prisoners; the immediate withdrawal of the troops from the streets pending their eventual withdrawal altogether from Northern Ireland; and the abolition of Stormont. Those are the unanimous demands of the minority.

The fact that they also happen to be the demands of the I.R.A. is embarrassing to many people, but it is nevertheless a fact. There is from the minority a clear, united, unambiguous demand coming from the minority and therefore there can be no confusion on the Government side. They cannot afterwards say, "We did not know who spoke for the minority. We did not know whom to look towards. They are disunited. They are running this way and that, with one person saying this and another saying something else." The situation is clear and unambiguous and they now know the situation in advance of anything they might want to say.

If the initiative comes, as we expect it to come, this week and falls short of these demands—and I speak for my two friends who are sitting beside me, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) and my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt)—these initiatives will without question be rejected as too little too late.

Hon. Members opposite have now found reasons to argue that something must be done about internment. They say, "Why do we not let out a few of these boys, and then let us get on with the job". But that is nonsense, and I could prove it. It is not only the minority that is involved in these basic demands. There are considerable proportions of the majority who agree that Stormont should be abolished. I think that later in the debate we shall hear a spokesman from the majority—I refer to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)—who will no doubt indicate that he is not adverse to direct rule and that Stormont should be replaced rather than diminished.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I would ask the hon. Gentleman not to anticipate anything I say until I actually say it.

Mr. McManus

I only wanted to remind the hon. Gentleman of what he might intend to say, so that he does not forget to make that important point. It is clearly nonsense to make concessions on internment. To let out 100, 200 or 500 of the internees is to say, "We have been wrong, but we do not agree that we have been entirely wrong". It is equivalent to saying, "As a gesture of goodwill, we shall let a few out, but we shall hold on to a few hostages to ensure the good behaviour of everybody else." If internment is wrong, as I submit it is—and most hon. Members on this side of the House will agree with me—I submit that it is wrong of itself. If the Government believe internment is right, then the Government must stick to it. But if they come to the conclusion that internment is wrong, they must do away with it. They cannot have it both ways.

Internment is not the real issue, and never was. It has been variously referred to as disastrous and as a stumbling block, but it is only a symptom of the real issue, and the real issue is Stormont. We all know that the cause of all this in the first place was partition, and Stormont is the manifestation of the evils of partition. Hon. Members opposite still perhaps regard Stormont as some kind of democratic Parliament, but it is no such thing and never was. It is a Mafia headquarters. It is the headquarters of a political system which was born out of threats of force and which has been nurtured on discrimination and downright thuggery.

How can one expect to say to a man, who all his life has discriminated against his neighbours, "The Government have now decided you have been a bad boy and from now on, because there is an Act of Parliament, you must no longer discriminate"? That does not work and we all know it does not work. People do not change as quickly as that. How can one expect politicians who have continually passed bad laws now to begin to pass good ones? Not one single person in the minority—and a great number of people in the majority—believes Brian Faulkner, the Prime Minister so-called of Northern Ireland, is capable of passing a good law. He has been brought up in the tradition of bad laws involving discrimination against the minority and therefore cannot change.

What in brief I am saying is that Stormont cannot be reformed and therefore must be abolished. If there is to be unity between the two communities, it will never come as long as Stormont remains, because in between the Catholics and Protestants stands Stormont the headquarters of Unionism. It is the duty of Stormont if it is to survive to see to it that Catholics and Protestants remain disunited for, as long as that situation remains, there can be no progress.

I know that a number of hon. Members opposite will say that that is nonsense. Time will tell that it is not nonsense. Fifty years ought to have proved that it is not nonsense, that it cannot work, has not worked and never will work. I submit that, if the Government do not act now, in six or seven months' hence they will reluctantly—if unfortunately they remain in power for that long—come shamefacedly to the Dispatch Box and say, "We have reached the conclusion after much deliberation that Stormont must be abolished." In the meantime, countless Irishmen and women of all denominations will have suffered.

The time for the Government to act, if they wish to see progress towards peace, is now. The first and absolute thing they must do is to abolish Stormont.

The reasons given for not changing the situation are twofold. There are those opposite who argue eloquently that the status quo, whatever it is, must be maintained. The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) gave the House a dissertation of how a million of the minority must not be subverted in any way. The same type of man will argue that a racialist minority in Rhodesia must be maintained against all the wishes of countless millions who oppose them. Their only logic appears to be: what is might is right.

In Northern Ireland at the moment the Unionists appear to be the mighty ones, and therefore it is decided that one should side with them. In Rhodesia Ian Smith is the mighty one and therefore one sides with him. What better message could the Tories give to organisations like the I.R.A. The message is clear: "Get yourselves strong and the Government will talk to you." What is being said is that this will happen only if they are strong, because the Conservative Government talk only to strong people.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham)

It is because they are weak men.

Mr. McManus

The other reason given against change is the fear of the Protestant backlash. The fear has become more apparent; it has been encouraged by organs of opinion in this country. I refer to the leader in the Sunday Express yesterday which gave the following advice to Mr. Faulkner: "Mr. Faulkner, tell the British Government to go to hell." That is a paper to which the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avoncontributes and that is the message it put out to Mr. Faulkner. If any single member of the minority stood up and said words on those lines in Northern Ireland, they would be put in gaol instantly for incitement of one sort or another.

The backlash has governed British Government policy on Northern Ireland for 15 years. Always at a time of crisis or when the tricks seem to be slipping away from the Unionists, they with the connivance of many members of the Tory Party whip up the threat of the backlash. Werecognise that the emergence of Vanguard, with Mr. Craig talking about liquidating the enemy, is being done with the connivance of many members of the Unionist Party. The official Unionist Party said recently that there is a place in Vanguard for most official Unionists. With the connivance of that party and of a number of members of the Tory Party, the backlash is held up once again to demonstrate that there shall be no change in Ulster.

I submit to this Government that if they want progress at all, they must grasp this nettle and confront the Protestant backlash. They must ask the Protestant backlash, "What are your fears? For 50 years we have sacrificed everything to your fears. You have never told us exactly what they are. Let us hear now what are your fears about change in Ulster. Is it that you are so scared of a united Ireland that you are prepared to resist the Government of the United Kingdom? Are you so scared of a united Ireland that you are prepared to wreak awful vengeance and horror on your defenceless Catholic neighbours?"

If the question is asked resolutely now, the answer will be found insufficient. There is no substance in the fears. No one in the minority in Northern Ireland demands a united Ireland tomorrow or next week. We are attempting to point out that a united Ireland is inevitable. We are saying that the changes towards that inevitability must be made now. The Protestant backlash and Stormont which stand in the way of progress must be removed. If they are not, this British Government will go down in history as the worst British Government ever to deal with the Irish question.

Many people have talked about a final solution to the Irish question. I want the Government of the day to bear in mind that one of the most imaginative suggestions for a final solution came from the very people whom right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite constantly vilify and condemn from that Dispatch Box. I refer, of course, to the I.R.A. It was the I.R.A. which suggested a new type of Ireland with a regional government concept. The idea is for one Government with four regional parliaments. That would give the Protestants in the North of Ireland immediate access to power and allay many of their fears. That suggestion has come from the so-called terrorists and gunmen. I believe that it is a good idea, as do many others. It well behoves the British Government to consider it, together with the other solutions that have been put forward. It is time now to act. Next week, next month, next year will be too late.

5.53 p.m.

Mrs. Connie Monks (Chorley)

In view of the meetings which are to be held between our Government and Mr. Faulkner, I am certain that the people of this country and of Ireland would have expected this House, at least to present a united front today. Even at this late stage I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw his intention to force a vote on this issue, especially after the terrible happenings in Ireland today.

One of the tragedies for Ireland is that this House has not closed its ranks in a common determination to try to find a just settlement of the difficulties. The decision of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to divide the House tonight goes against some of the wishes of their own strongest supporters. To prove what I say, I wish to read extracts from a letter from one of my constituents. He begins: I personally am a member of the Labour Party but above all I hope I am honest enough to be called Christian. He goes on to say that he is an active member of the British Legion, a member of his regimental association, and an active trade unionist. He says that he belongs to these organisations and that he is proud of them. He writes to me as his Member of Parliament solely as an individual because, he says, I am most perturbed at certain situations in Britain (which of course includes Ulster) that are prevalent at this moment. Again he emphasises: I am a member of the Labour Party and will never vote otherwise, but I deplore that party's attitude to the Ulster problem. Although I have many close Roman Catholic friends—including some of their clergy—I have fixed views on the Ulster situation and I would like to enumerate some of them; as in the main, I imagine they are common views of most ex-Service men and women.

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South-West)

Why not read a bit faster?

Mrs. Monks

Because I want to be certain that hon. Members opposite take it in. He goes on: Having spent several holidays in Ulster in my youth, moving about the country as a rover scout"— [Laughter.]

There is nothing humorous in being a rover scout. I might point out that some hon. Members opposite would be better disciplined if they had been rover scouts.

During his travels in Ireland he realised that there was a strong Roman Catholic community and an even stronger Scots Presbyterian type of Protestantism and that to talk of church unity was and is stupid. I realise also that the Roman Catholic element have complaints. For years both factions threw bricks, etc. at each other on certain special occasions, but only very rarely were rifles used, and petrol and nail bombs never. The B.4 Specials who were 100 per cent. Protestants were created and acted solely, in the beginning, as an anti-I.R.A. force.

Mr. Duffy

I suppose they were boy scouts as well.

Mrs. Monks

My constituent's fifth point is one with which the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus) will probably agree. He says: Human rights and freedom are one of the fundamental rights of any human society. That is what the war of 1939–45 was about and why people fought, bled and died to defend it, particularly the Armed Forces of the Crown which also included Irish men, north and southern volunteers in the ranks. My constituent's sixth point—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to read at dictation speed?

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

The hon. Member is making rather a large proportion of her speech a quotation. I think that is to be deprecated.

Mrs. Monks

In view of the point that you have made, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall give my constituent's last two points in my own words. Any action taken against responsibility must be smashed or else the result is anarchy, and any use of children by either parent is laying up future troubles for the individuals and the State.

That is a valid point. Any march which includes women and children and on which troops open fire must have women and children casualties if that firing is indiscriminate. Where only men are shot by professionals, then the firing is certainly not indiscriminate, whatever any Press reporter or priest may insist.

It is the responsibility of this House to remove the blinkers and to look at the facts as they are, free from prejudice. Ironically, we have had to do undemocratic things, such as impose internment without trial, in our determination to protect innocent citizens, British justice, of which we have always been so proud, is jeopardised by intimidation so that witnesses dare not testify.

Reluctant as we are to admit it, it is clear that, as yet, the maintenance of order is dependent on the continuing presence of the British Army. This House has to be firm and united in a common purpose to maintain the law as it is. Any changes that may be necessary cannot be made as a surrender to violence. Change must be seen to come about in a democratic way. That is why at this late stage I hope that we shall not be forced to a Division.

6.2 p.m.

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

I shall be extremely brief in order that there may be time for other hon. Members to speak.

I welcome the debate. Much of what has been said, particularly from the other side of the House, has been almost irrelevant and perhaps more fitting to the next debate which will take place after—I hope—the Government announce initiatives, if at all.

I want to concentrate on the last part of the Motion, which deals with the consequences of the long delay and the immediate dangers to this country arising from that delay. Therefore, I should like to mention the decision to ban Irish demonstrations in Trafalgar Square. Earlier today I tried to table a Private Notice Question on this matter. I regret that you, Mr. Speaker, were unable to accept that Question. It is my opinion, to say the least, that this is another outrageous attack on our civil liberties. It will be interpreted as yet another attempt by the Government to stifle all opposition to their policy, or lack of policy in dealing with the problems of the Six Counties.

It may be even more sinister. The Government may be trying to incite people to defy this ban, which would then provide them with an excuse to extend the ban to other places and other issues, in anticipation of the mass protests which are mounting on many issues involving Government policy, such as the Housing Finance Bill, wage claims, and so on. I take this as an attack not only on the Irish question but generally, on all the mass protests of the working class movement in this country.

By itself, the ban would be bad enough. However, I should like to refer to last week's search of the homes of private individuals under the guise of the Criminal Damage Act, 1971, on a warrant which, I understand, simply stated that the police were looking for explosives. I know that they raided the home of at least one of my constituents and took away a number of documents, all to do with the International Socialist Movement, including lists of names and addresses which had nothing to do with the Irish problem and certainly were not explosive.

Linked with that we see this apparently unobstructed massive demonstration of the Vanguard movement in Northern Ireland and other cities at the weekend. We heard of the inflammatory speeches by the main speakers at those rallies. Together with the continuation of internment and imprisonment without trial, this latest measure banning marches and demonstrations will be seen as a still further attack on the minority population of the Six Counties and their supporters here, in lieu of a definite constructive alternative policy.

I should like to quote from the weekend speeches of, for instance, Mr. William Craig and Pastor Jack Glass, which are reported in The Times this morning. Mr. Craig said: We must get down to positive action"— if the politicians fail. One day it may be our job to liquidate the enemy. We all know the implications of that.

Another report in The Times, states that A Protestant army of 5,000 men will be raised in Glasgow to fight in Northern Ireland if the Government attempts to alter the province's constitution, Pastor Jack Glass, a leader of militant Protestants and loyalists in the city, told me last week. He said civil war was almost inevitable in Northern Ireland and this would lead Protestants in Scotland to take dramatic action. 'If I can go by what people have said to me I could take as many as 5,000 to Ulster quite easily', he said. So much for moderation.

I should like now to refer briefly to internment. To my mind—I have been a consistent opponent of it—internment is still the biggest single stumbling block to any real discussions. If the Government are thinking about phased ending, which has been mentioned by many politicians, they ought to put a definite time limit on it. I do not think that many people understand too much about internment as yet, and I want to make one or two criticisms on the phased ending.

First, none of the internees or detainees has yet been charged, so there is no proven justification for holding them. I will give some examples to show who these men are. At the end of last year a survey was made of the internees in one area. This is what was found in the hut. Two men were members of the old A.U.B.T.W. Hon. Members on this side will not need me to enlarge on what that means. It has now been amalgamated. The only possible crime that one of them had committed was to have been an active Republican in the 1930s.

Two men were members of the Sheet Metal Workers Union. Ten men were members of the British Transport and General Workers' Union. It is true that one of them had been interned about 15 years ago. That was his crime. One man was a member of the National Union of Seamen, apparently subverting Stormont while he sailed the seven seas. One man was a member of the Irish Transport Workers' Union, and two men were members of my own union, the A.U.E.W. One man was a member of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers. Finally, in that part of the hut, one man was a member of the National Union of General and Municipal Workers.

I submit that these men were not lay-abouts. They were honest, hardworking members of the community—not villains—interested in the conditions, both working and political, of their fellowmen and women in those organisations.

Another criticism, which has already been touched upon, is that if we discuss this kind of phased ending of internment we shall be back in the situation—to which we always go back when we talk about Irish problems—which existed at Ballykinler in 1921—when the treaty negotiations were going on—when men still held in prison were used as hostages. That is a serious fear which people on the other side of the Channel have when we talk about phased ending of internment.

I think that the Government have tragically mistimed the whole operation. They have lost the many opportunities in the past seven months when it would have been possible to talk constructively. What we want now is a big decision—much bigger than we have ever needed before, and bigger than this Government are prepared or courageous enough to undertake. We need big decisions; not more repression and bans and escalations, particularly on this side of the Channel. I suggest, therefore, that the Government lift the ban that they have put on demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, end internment, bring control of security back to Westminster, and begin inter-party talks on a broad agenda immediately.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The debate must end at 6.32. I think that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) hopes to catch my eye at about 6.15 p.m.

6.10 p.m.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

I want briefly to elaborate on some points that I made in a question to the Home Secretary and in anticipation of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. McManus).

The people of Ulster are in a state of war. Those of us who live in the City of Belfast and move about Ulster are aware of that, whereas many hon. Members evidently are not aware of the terrible situation that we are in. I cannot underline that enough.

On the one hand, there must be an initiative—I use the word deliberately—andI mean a military initiative, to deal with terrorists, to find the bomb makers and bomb planters, and to stop the gelignite trail from the South of Ireland to the North. That must be done. Until it is, there will be no peace in our society.

Coming to the political aspect of the problem, to the people of Northern Ireland at least four things may be considered. First, there may be a consideration of putting the people of Ulster into a United Ireland. For the majority of the people in Ulster that is definitely out. The majority of people in Northern Ireland will not have any sell-out to a United Ireland. This House needs to make itself aware of the deep feeling on that subject, and I say now that the people of Northern Ireland want one thing.

There is one priority before the Loyalists. Let the House not think that there are many priorities. There is just one. They want to save the Union. That is essential, and those who have read the Press know the stand which the party to which I belong has taken against the Vanguard movement. We deplore any suggestion that any section of the population should rise against another section and liquidate it. The forces of the Crown are the people to deal with subversives, and the forces of the Crown only. It is to be regretted that hon. Members of this House voted on the disastrous Hunt proposals, and that took away the solid bulwarks which had stood against subversion for 48 years, but I shall not go into that in detail now.

People in Northern Ireland need to be given some way to show how they feel. There should be an immediate referen- dum so that the people of Northern Ireland can stand up and be counted on the question of the Union. They ought to have the opportunity to express their views through a constitutional channel. Incidentally, if the House wanted a referendum on the Common Market I should be happy about that, too.

The second thing is Mr. Craig's U.D.I. That is certainly not acceptable to the vast majority of Loyalists. Had their opinions been sought, they would have said that they wanted to hold to the Union. It is the Union that is uppermost in their minds. I emphasise that.

Thirdly, the Government could dilute Stormont, prune it, take away its power, take away whatever democracy it still has, or suspend Stormont and have a Commission. Does anybody believe that any Government would bring Stormont back? If Stormont were suspended, that would be the end of it.

Although Loyalists would not advocate it, and would prefer to adhere to the 1920 Act, there is another option open, namely, to integrate Northern Ireland into the rest of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West) rose

Rev. Ian Paisley

I must conclude my speech in one minute. But for that, I should give way to the hon. Gentleman.

I am talking not about a colonial situation, but about part of the United Kingdom. Let us be completely integrated. Let this House take its courage into its hands and control the destinies of part of the United Kingdom. In that way lies a possible solution, because I believe that there are Roman Catholics—in fact, a vast number of them—who would prefer to be part and parcel of the United Kingdom rather than have Stormont in its present place.

I am not calling for the destruction of Stormont, but I am saying that if the Government are going to tamper with it and take away its democracy the best option is that which I am putting forward, and I believe that it would commend itself to the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland.

6.16 p.m.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

This interim debate has been useful for apprising the Government of a number of different views that are held, including those in the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). Its seems to me that one or two misconceptions need to be hammered on the head again. We have said that so many times.

I come immediately to the question of the Border. I was always aware that it was necessary to say that the Border was sacrosanct—to say that one had said it, and to say it again. The plain truth—and this should be known in Northern Ireland as clearly as we can say it—is that it is the settled policy of this country that the Border remains whilst the majority of the people of Northern Ireland wish it so to do. That is enshrined in a statute introduced by the 1945–51 Labour Government. It is also enshrined in the constitution of Northern Ireland.

That having been made clear both by those who feel that it would be against the best interests of the Protestants in Northern Ireland to come into a United Ireland and by those who believe that it would be in the best interests of Protestants in Northern Ireland to enter a new United Ireland—and both views are held—cannot it once and for all, as a preliminary to the talks that are about to be held, be understood by the people of Northern Ireland that this is settled policy?

That leads me to the second point, introduced by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder), who referred to the words of Mr. Craig that he would stand no tampering with the constitution. It is important to get this point clear. In the eyes of many in Northern Ireland, the word "constitution" means the Border. That is why this confusion arises. But it means more than the Border, and it is the responsibility of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Belfast, South, not to fall into that confusion.

The Government of Ireland Act, 1920, provides a written constitution. It is, incidentally, one of the lessons for this country never to have a written constitution. It is here, and it exists, but no one can suggest that it is impossible to alter this constitution. Section 75 clearly reserves the power to this Parliament so to do.

I shall not go into the details of the written constitution—I trust that they are well known to hon. Members—but it would be absurd and misleading if Mr. Craig were to advance the view that in no circumstances can this written constitution be altered. Is that what he is saying? If so, it is an extremely dangerous doctrine, which should be repudiated by both sides of the House of Commons.

The question of the Border is not the same as the question of the constitution

Mr. Pounder

When I intervened in the speech of the Leader of the Liberal Party I was taking the constitution to mean simply and solely the Border of Northern Ireland, and not further ramifications. The right hon. Gentleman must ask Mr. Craig whether his reading is the same as mine.

Mr. Callaghan

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will ask Mr. Craig what he means. Mr. Craig, whose terms are frequently ambiguous, may have been ambiguous in this matter. Since he addressed an audience estimated at between 50,000 and 90,000, we are entitled to know what he meant. If he meant that no phrase, no comma, no full stop in this constitution can be altered, the Prime Minister might as well not bother to see Mr. Faulkner in the coming week.

I am one of those—I am not alone in this, even among Ulster Protestants—who believe that in a united Ireland the vigour, force and energy of the Protestants would be such that they would command a great deal of influence; they would hold their own. But although I may hold that view, this is not a decision for me to take; it is their decision. Any one of us is entitled to his own view on the question whether Ireland is likely to have more tension or less, and whether the communities are likely to live together better or worse if they are mingled together in their own constitution and their own political institutions than if they are separated by the Border. But no one is entitled to say that this House will depart from the settled policy that exists on the Border in relation to the majority of the people.

There is a great responsibility on the South. They have already started, but they could do more. The institutions could begin to emerge and people could start to meet and live together. That is another matter, with which only they can deal, but I beg that they should do it.

I come now to consider the status of the talks with Mr. Faulkner. I am assuming that it is possible to amend this constitution. Let me say to the Home Secretary, who does not seem to understand it, that we are voting tonight on a simple issue. We believe that the Government's delay has resulted in the situation becoming worse and not better. We believe that as more time has elapsed it has become more difficult to get solutions accepted now than it would have been three months ago, and certainly more difficult than it would have been when internment was introduced.

What we are voting about, simply, is the Government's handling of the situation so far. With respect, they are responsible for it. It is they, not we, who allowed it to be known, by winks and nods, that they thought that some change was desirable and necessary in the political structure of Northern Ireland. It was they and not we who said, "We must go ahead with this, irrespective of what is coming."

They were then unclear—I have followed these things closely recently; I have had very little else to do—as to whether they intended to have discussions first between the various parties—which is one way of doing it—in an attempt to get agreement, or to reach their own conclusions, announce them to the world and then either act on them or, at that stage, have some discussions.

The responsibility lies here. If the Prime Minister objects that those who do not carry the responsibility must be careful how they criticise, I can only say to him that I do not believe that the delay is the result of a detailed calculation by his Ministers. It is my conviction—this can only be a matter of opinion—that the delay arises because the subject was not given a high enough priority by the Prime Minister, due to the fact that there have been divisions in the arguments which have gone on in the Cabinet, due to the fact that strong pressure has been brought to bear on the Government by some of their back benchers, and due to the fact that the Home Secretary has not pressed this issue to a conclusion sooner.

That is my conviction about the reason for the delay, and it has nothing to do with the issues before us. Not a single initiative will be put to Mr. Faulkner this week which has not been canvassed a dozen times by 50 different Members on both sides of the House. There is no evidence for assuming that the delay has made the likelihood of acceptance any greater. It has made it worse, and everyone knows it.

So I come back to the status of these talks. I take it that the Government plan—

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is expecting the Home Secretary to follow him, but in case he is not, I must most strongly repudiate the allegation that he has just made. The problem of Northern Ireland has been given the highest priority. The right hon. Gentleman himself will recognise from his own experience as Home Secretary the intractable nature of all the problems with which any Government have to wrestle. That is what we have been doing, in an endeavour to find a solution which will at any rate bring to an end the tragic loss of life which we have seen yet again today.

What we are trying to do is find a solution which will reduce the risks in Northern Ireland, and not increase them. I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that ever since last September we have been clearly saying that we wanted discussions with all parties, here and in Northern Ireland. We have not been able to get them—but neither has the right hon. Gentleman and his party.

Mr. Callaghan

In those circumstances I cannot understand why the Government have waited so long to call Mr. Faulkner into consultation. If they have been aware for months that they could not get talks going why have they not used the interval to clear their proposals with Mr. Faulkner? We do not know now whether we will have an announcement on this matter before Easter. Nor do we know—the Prime Minister did not take up this point—what we should know at some stage, namely, what happens if Mr. Faulkner raises objections.

The Political Editor of The Times said this morning that the Government are determined to go through with it. Is that so? If so, the House should know it. I would believe that that was right. The moment has come when the Government must take the responsibility and go through with their proposals. They may make things worse or better. I only hope that the sensitivity to which the hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) referred will be present on this occasion. I would not say that sensitivity has been the hallmark of Government during the last two years. Certainly I agree that it is needed on this matter. I hope that whatever proposals are put forward will be put forward with the sensitivity that is required.

At the same time, there is a responsibility on the Government if they can command the support of the House. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, we shall set out to build on what is good. We shall not condemn the whole if we think that some parts are inadequate. If the Government can command the support of the House for any plan that they bring forward—I trust that it will be as imaginative as the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) said it needed to be—they are right in present circumstances to press ahead with it.

But I beg them to do one thing in addition to consulting Mr. Faulkner. He will come here clad in the robes of a Prime Minister, but will have to be, and will be fully known to be, looking over his shoulder as a party leader. We have all seen him driven—in my view against his own inclinations—further and further to the right in the last few months, because of the pressure put upon him. He is an able, ambitious and energetic man, and what he has done is fill the vacuum left by the Home Secretary.

The Government now have an opportunity to pull that situation back. They have an opportunity, if they can get the support of the House, to press forward with this plan, which, as my right hon. Friend rightly said, must include something more about the Border. They must both reassure the majority and indicate to the minority that the Border is not closed for ever. They must include internment, including the package to which

the Home Secretary referred, and they must include another political structure which will enable the minority, in whatever form it is phrased, to play a bigger part.

We condemn the Government tonight and are voting against them because we believe that the solutions which they now propose to put to Mr. Faulkner could have been put forward weeks—no, months—ago. They have missed the tide on more than one occasion over this. They have missed it not because of the inherent difficulties of the situation but because they have failed to grasp the situation quickly enough.

That is what we shall be voting against tonight. It is the inertia of the Government which has made me feel so frustrated time after time. I believe that there has been an opportunity to take the situation in hand; because the Irish respond. The people of Northern Ireland—Protestant and Catholic alike—respond to generosity, to imagination, and to leadership when it is given. I have seen it happen. It could happen again.

I trust that on this occasion we shall have both the statesmen there and the measures that will enable the great majority of people in Northern Ireland who want peace—peace with justice to them all—to come together. If we can achieve that, that will be the time when further measures against the I.R.A., if such can be taken, will be profitable and fruitful; because it will be at that moment that the population will say, "We are tired of this attack on our liberties and of the troubles. We want to see an end to them. We can see a future now".

When the Prime Minister puts his plan to Mr. Faulkner and to all the leaders from Ireland, what they will be considering this week is not what the future direction of Northern Ireland shall be. What they will be considering is whether Northern Ireland has a future; and the responsibility for that is in their hands.

Question put. That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes 257, Noes 294.

Division No. 101.] AYES [6.30 p.m.
Abse, Leo Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Bagier, Gordon A. T.
Albu, Austen Armstrong, Ernest Barnes, Michael
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Ashley, Jack Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)
Allen, Scholefield Ashton, Joe Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)
Beaney, Alan Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Ogden, Eric
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hamling, William O'Halloran, Michael
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) O'Malley, Brian
Bidwell, Sydney Hardy, Peter Oram, Bert
Bishop, E. S. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orbach, Maurice
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Orme, Stanley
Booth, Albert Hattersley, Roy Oswald, Thomas
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Hilton, W. S. Padley, Walter
Bradley, Tom Hooson, Emlyn Palmer, Arthur
Broughton, Sir Alfred Horam, John Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pardoe, John
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Huckfield, Leslie Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Pavitt, Laurie
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pentland, Norman
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hunter, Adam Perry, Ernest G.
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill) Prescott, John
Cant, R. B. Janner, Greville Price, William (Rugby)
Carmichael, Neil Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Probert, Arthur
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Jeger, Mrs. Lena Rankin, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) John, Brynmor Rhodes, Geoffrey
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Richard, Ivor
Cohen, Stanley Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Coleman, Donald Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Concannon, J. D. Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Conlan, Bernard Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roper, John
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Rose, Paul B.
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Crawshaw, Richard Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Sandelson, Neville
Cronin, John Kaufman, Gerald Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Kelley, Richard Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Kerr, Russell Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Lambie, David Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Latham, Arthur Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davidson, Arthur Leadbitter, Ted Silverman, Julius
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Skinner, Dennis
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Leonard, Dick Small, William
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lestor, Miss Joan Spearing, Nigel
Deakins, Eric Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Spriggs, Leslie
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Stallard, A. W.
Delargy, H. J. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lipton, Marcus Steel, David
Dempsey, James Lomas, Kenneth Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Devlin, Miss Bernadette Loughlin, Charles Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Doig, Peter Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Dormand, J. D. Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Swain, Thomas
Duffy, A. E. P. McBride, Neil
Eadie, Alex McCann, John Taverne, Dick
Edelman, Maurice McCartney, Hugh Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McElhone, Frank Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McGuire, Michael Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Ellis, Tom Mackenzie, Gregor Tomney, Frank
English, Michael Mackie, John Torney, Tom
Evans, Fred McManus, Frank Tuck, Raphael
Ewing, Harry McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Urwin, T. W.
Faulds, Andrew MeNamara, J. Kevin Varley, Eric G.
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Wainwright, Edwin
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham,Ladywood) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Marks, Kenneth Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marquand, David Wallace, George
Foley, Maurice Marsden, F. Watkins, David
Foot, Michael Marshall, Dr. Edmund Weitzman, David
Ford, Ben Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Wellbeloved, James
Forrester, John Mayhew, Christopher Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Meacher, Michael White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Freeson, Reginald Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Whitehead, Phillip
Galpern, Sir Myer Mendelson, John Whitlock, William
Garrett, W. E. Millan, Bruce Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Gilbert, Dr. John Miller, Dr. M. S. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Milne, Edward Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Golding, John Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Gourlay, Harry Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Woof, Robert
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Moyle, Roland TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Murray, Ronald King Mr. Joseph Harper and
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Oakes, Gordon Mr. Tom Pendry.
Adley, Robert Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fry, Peter McMaster, Stanley
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Gardner, Edward McNair-Wilson, Michael
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Gibson-Watt, David McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)
Astor, John Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maddan, Martin
Atkins, Humphrey Glyn, Dr. Alan Madel, David
Awdry, Daniel Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maginnis, John E.
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Goodhart, Philip Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Balniel, Lord Goodhew, Victor Marten, Neil
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gorst, John Mather, Carol
Batsford, Brian Gower, Raymond Maude, Angus
Beamish, Col, Sir Tufton Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Gray, Hamish Mawby, Ray
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Green, Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Benyon, W. Grieve, Percy Meyer, Sir Anthony
Berry, Hn. Anthony Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Biffen, John Grylls, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Biggs-Davison, John Gummer, Selwyn Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)
Blaker, Peter Gurden, Harold Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Moate, Roger
Body, Richard Hall, John (Wycombe) Molyneaux, James
Boscawen, Robert Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Money, Ernle
Bossom, Sir Clive Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bowden, Andrew Hannam, John (Exeter) Monks, Mrs. Connie
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Monro, Hector
Braine, Bernard Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Montgomery, Fergus
Bray, Ronald Hastings, Stephen More, Jasper
Brinton, Sir Tatton Havers, Michael Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Brocklebank Fowler, Christopher Hawkins, Paul Morrison, Charles
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hay, John Mudd, David
Bryan, Paul Hayhoe, Barney Murton, Oscar
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N&M) Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Buck, Antony Heseltine, Michael Neave, Airey
Bullus, Sir Eric Hicks, Robert Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Burden, F. A. Higgins, Terence L. Normanton, Tom
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hiley, Joseph Nott, John
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Onslow, Cranley
Carlisle, Mark Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Holland, Philip Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Cary, Sir Robert Holt, Miss Mary Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Channon, Paul Hordern, Peter Page, Graham (Crosby)
Chapman, Sydney Hornby, Richard Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Paisley, Rev. Ian
Chichesler Clark, R. Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Parkinson, Cecil
Churchill, W. S. Howell, David (Guildford) Peel, John
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Percival, Ian
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hunt, John Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Clegg, Walter Hutchison, Michael Clark Pike, Miss Mervyn
Cockeram, Eric Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pink, R. Bonner
Cooke, Robert James, David Pounder, Rafton
Coombs, Derek Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cooper, A. E. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Jessel, Toby Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Cormack, Patrick Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Costain, A. P. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Crouch, David Jopling, Michael Quennell, Miss J. M.
Crowder, F. P. Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Raison, Timothy
Curran, Charles Kaberry, Sir Donald Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kershaw, Anthony Redmond, Robert
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen.James Kilfedder, James Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Deedes. Rt. Hn. W. F. Kimball, Marcus Rees, Peter (Dover)
Dixon, Piers King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Rees-Davies, W. R.
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward King, Tom (Bridgwater) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Dykes, Hugh Kinsey, J. R. Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Eden, Sir John Kirk, Peter Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kitson, Timothy Ridsdale, Julian
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Knight, Mrs. Jill Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Knox, David Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Emery, Peter Lambton, Lord Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Farr, John Lane, David Rost, Peter
Fell, Anthony Langford-Holt, Sir John Royle, Anthony
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Russell, Sir Ronald
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Le Marchant, Spencer St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Scott, Nicholas
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Scott-Hopkins, James
Fookes, Miss Janet Longden, Gilbert Sharples, Richard
Fortescue, Tim Loveridge, John Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Foster, Sir John Luce, R. N. Shelton, William (Clapham)
Fowler, Norman McAdden, Sir Stephen Simeons, Charles
Fox, Marcus McCrindle, R. A. Sinclair, Sir George
Skeet, T. H. H. Temple, John M. Warren, Kenneth
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Wells, John (Maidstone)
Soref, Harold Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Speed, Keith Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Spence, John Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.) Wiggin, Jerry
Stainton, Keith Tilney, John Wilkinson, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Trafford, Dr. Anthony Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Trew, Peter Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Tugendhat, Christopher Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Stokes, John Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Woodnutt, Mark
Stuttaford, Dr. Tom van Straubenzee, W. R. Worsley, Marcus
Sutcliffe, John Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Tapsell, Peter Waddington, David Younger, Hn. George
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wall, Patrick Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Walters, Dennis Mr Bernard Weatherill.
Tebbit, Norman Ward, Dame Irene

Question accordingly negatived.