HC Deb 28 March 1972 vol 834 cc238-368

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

Before I call the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, I must tell the House that I already know of well over 50 right hon. and hon. Members who will seek to catch my eye in the debate. Therefore, the shorter the speeches the fewer the disappointments.

3.37 p.m.

The Lord President of The Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. William Whitelaw)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place her interests and prerogative, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

It would be appropriate if I started by expressing my thanks for the enormous number of messages and expressions of good will which I have received from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House. I regard these as far more important and significant than something personal, because if the House passes the Bill the British Parliament and the House of Commons will have taken on a major responsibility and a daunting task. We can only hope to succeed if we are prepared to see it through together.

That does not mean a lack of controversy about the proposals which my colleagues and I will put before the House. But it does imply an absolue commitment for me to take the House into my confidence as far as possible. It requires me constantly to remember that I am answer able to the House of Commons for any action upon which my colleagues and I may decide. It underlines my determination to have inter-party discussions and talks.

As a start, I must explain why I believe that the Bill is necessary and why the British Government and this Parliament should take on this extra responsibility. As a basis, we must never forget that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and that British Governments of all parties have pledged themselves to the maintenance of that position so long as it is the wish of the majority in Northern Ireland. No British Government can stand aside if there are threats to law and order in any part of the United Kingdom. That is why the Labour Government sent British troops to Northern Ireland in 1969, and why they have been maintained there in increasing numbers since. Indeed, it is why our soldiers have so tragically lost their lives in the call of duty.

It is fair here to pay a tribute which I believe the House would wish to pay to our troops. I am perfectly convinced that no other army in the world could conceivable have carried out with so much discretion and patience the sort of duties that we in this Parliament have placed upon our Army. But this Parliament equally has a duty to ensure that troops are not placed in an intolerable position and are not given an impossible task. We all want to ensure that violence and terrorism are ended. I am certain that this is the longing—indeed, in many cases the desperate longing—of the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland. There cannot and will not be any surrender to violence nor any relaxation of efforts to bring terrorism and intimidation to an end.

I do not believe that violence and terrorism of this sort can be defeated by purely military means when a considerable section of the community feel themselves in support of the terrorists. No one can deny that the I.R.A. has been gaining in support, both active and passive, from the Catholic minority. Yet I am convinced that many of these people, as Cardinal Conway said on television last night, want violence to end and peace to come. Some say that support for the gunman is due entirely to intimidation. I accept that there is intimidation but I do not agree that it is the fundamental reason. The cause is surely to be found in the feelings of some despair amongst the minority about their position in the community. Whether that is justified or not is not an issue. The fact is that these feelings exist.

The fresh start which the Bill can provide must be used to promote feelings of tolerance, understanding, fairness and impartiality. If it can do that, then moderate opinion in the minority can be weaned away from the gunman. Then, and in my judgment only then, can the terrorists effectively be defeated and violence ended.

My second reason for the new approach concerns the responsibility for security and law and order. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained last night, that was the point of difference between the British and the Northern Irish Governments. We took the view that with a prolonged state of emergency and a very large number of British troops employed the division of responsibility between Belfast and Westminster was unsatisfactory in principle. We in this Parliament have responsibility for the troops, and internationally we have been held accountable for all that has happened. In these circumstances we believed we should have the full power. Mr. Faulkner and his colleagues could not accept that and said that they would resign rather than carry on in such a situation. In spite of all the difficulties, I am convinced it is right to end the division between power and responsibility. These are the reasons why my colleagues and I believe the Bill is necessary. I am absolutely certain that to have shrunk from this decision in the present troubled state of Northern Ireland would have been an abdication of responsibility by the British Government and, indeed, by the British Parliament.

I should now say a word about my visit to Northern Ireland last Saturday, because it is important in the context of how the new arrangements under the Bill can and should be operated. I saw the Governor, whose help and wise counsel in a difficult situation have been of considerable value, and I thanked him for it. I saw the Northern Ireland permanent secretaries and I expressed to them that it would be my wish that we should all work as one team. I received from them the expressions of loyalty which one would expect from the British Civil Service in the highest traditions, and I was very glad to have them. I saw the leaders of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and again I received the same expressions of loyalty which one would expect to receive from a British police force, again in the highest standards of our police. Again I was extremely glad to receive them, because no one should underestimate the difficulties and problems that these people have faced in this situation. I saw the G.O.C. and discussed with him the military position, and I was very much impressed with his immense grasp of the situation.

I was left in no doubt that there would be a most serious strike yesterday and today. We shall all much regret the hardship and inconvenience which have been caused throughout Northern Ireland. But one must be generous and remember that the Protestant majority have been extremely patient when their lives have been seriously disrupted by violence. They have shown great restraint, and no one in this House should forget that. Therefore, one can understand, even if one cannot accept, the feelings which they have expressed in the two-day strike. I hope that once this is over they will settle down and seek with all concerned a new solution.

It is important when considering these factors to remember what this country, this Parliament and the House of Commons have provided, not only in terms of our troops but in many other ways, for the Northern Irish economy. Since 1970 we have given extra financial support which overall represents an additional £100 per head of the population. These are extremely important figures which must be remembered in the context of what we have done for an area which is part of the United Kingdom.

I now wish to consider the basic purposes of the Bill. In the first instance it is temporary and will operate for one year. Stormont will be prorogued and not dissolved. This is a year to be used for talks with all concerned about the best arrangements for the future. I will use every endeavour in that time to promote such talks, and I will spend as much time as I can meeting and discussing with all those who wish to be concerned with the future of Northern Ireland. Naturally, in all this I hope for the close co-operation and help of all parties in this House and of all hon. and right hon. Members.

I should now show how I intend to proceed if the Bill is passed, because that is something which the House should know. I wish first to repeat the assurance about the Border. Under the 1949 Act the Border is still in position. Clearly, the assurance stands absolutely that Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom so long as the majority so decide. In addition to that assurance, we have the proposals for a plebiscite, which add to the assurance I gave, and that assurance stands in the name of all parties in the House. Naturally, I do not want to be committed on the timing of the plebiscite until we can assess the situation fully.

I repeat the assurance that close co-operation between the Army and the police in the campaign against terrorism will be carried forward with the utmost determination. While I will do all in my power to reduce tension and promote tolerance and understanding as a basis for peace, I will have no mercy on those who, by continuing with violence, seek to frustrate those aims.

We have promised in our statement that internment will be phased out. We must still be free to intern if there is a clear case for internment on security grounds. I intend to review all the files of the present cases personally. I must take complete responsibility for the decisions I make. I will take those decisions with complete impartiality and fairness, with the paramount needs of security very much in mind. If I can find some cases that can be brought to trial, they will be brought to trial, but I must arouse no false hopes until I have studied the situation. I must stress with the utmost force the basic, simple principle that the sooner the violence ends the sooner can internment be ended.

Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)

My right hon. Friend refers to the assurances implicit in the 1949 Act about Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom, but can he give the assurance firmly that there is no part of a subsection of the Bill which has the effect of removing those very assurances?

Mr. Whitelaw

The assurance is absolutely solid and reinforced by the proposals on the plebiscite. That is my clear understanding of the position.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

There is great concern in Northern Ireland about one subsection which says that resolutions that could be passed by the House of Commons in Northern Ireland could now be passed by the Secretary of State or his Commission. As a resolution of the Northern Ireland Parliament is the resolution that safeguards the constitution under the 1949 Ireland Act, there is serious concern about that. Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter and give us an assurance on it in Committee?

Mr. Whitelaw

I will certainly look into that matter. I give the positive assurance that there is no question, and can be no question, as both parties in this House have pledged that Northern Ireland can cease to be part of the United Kingdom unless the majority so desire.

Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)

The right hon. Gentleman has just said that when violence ends internment will end. That is the crux of the whole problem. Could he expand on that?

Mr. Whitelaw

I must say no more at this stage. I have something to say, and there are a number of other speeches to be made. I do not want to give way too much.

Perhaps I could now say a few words about the Commission. I do not think this has been properly understood in all quarters. I wish to make it clear that the Commission will assist by way of advice and consultation, but neither the Commission collectively nor individual member of it acting as such will discharge any executive functions in Northern Ireland. There is no question of the Government of Northern Ireland being placed in Commission. The executive power will rest wholly with the Secretary of State as a member of the British Cabinet answerable to this House.

But I think it is right that we should seek to get people of experience, knowledge and responsibility who can help us to help the people of Northern Ireland. Of course, I shall not look only to the Commission for help and advice. I hope to get it from many quarters, and I hope to make myself personally accessible to as many strands of opinion as possible.

I will not rule out anyone as a member of the Commission. I simply wish to see whether I can get those who will help me in this matter. There is a real problem, with the Northern Ireland Parlia- ment standing prorogued, in taking Northern Ireland legislation through this House. The Commission is in no sense a substitute for the Northern Ireland Parliament, but we thought it would be helpful if a body with particular local experience, a body of people prepared to give up their time to help with these intractable problems, had an opportunity to look at any proposed legislation before it was introduced here. But it will not have any form of veto, and I am in no way obliged to take its advice.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will deal with the Order in Council procedure for Northern Ireland legislation. But I must give the House the most complete assurance that I will seek to use these considerable legislative powers as little as possible in the temporary period of the Bill. When I have to use them, I will undertake the maximum possible discussion in this House, particularly with the Northern Ireland Members here as well as in Northern Ireland.

I am grateful for the assurances that the progress of the Bill through the House will be facilitated, because it is very important, now that the decision has seen taken, for me to have the executive authority in Northern Ireland by Thursday. I will go to Northern Ireland immediately the Bill receives the Royal Assent, and of course, I will stay there throughout the difficult Easter period.

I have some important decisions to take, and I hope the House will feel that so far I have acted with that sense of urgency which the situation demands. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) has said that speed in these matters is essential, and I intend to respond to that mood as best as I can.

Naturally, in this immensely difficult task it would be most helpful as a start in our joint endeavour if the Bill could be given a Second Reading without a Division. But I recognise that there are hon. Members who are convinced that the course of action outlined in the Bill is wrong. I accept their absolute right to vote against it. However, I trust that if the Bill goes through they will cooperate with the rest of the House in seeking a means of providing a real improvement for the people of Northern Ireland in this new situation, and a new constitutional advance.

Surely, we can all agree that the prize of success in terms of peace and human happiness for families in Northern Ireland who deserve it and long for it is indeed very great. On the other hand, the cost of failure for Northern Ireland, Ireland as a whole and this country as well will be very great. That is the simple challenge which I believe we face in this country, this Parliament and this House of Commons. As the person to whom this particular responsibility has been entrusted, I can make no easy promise. I can only offer in leadership complete dedication and unremitting effort.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

The Leader of the House is conscious of the fact that he undertakes his task with the good will and support of the whole House. Speaking for myself, I believe that he has the personality that is designed to handle a situation of this sort, if anyone can do so. I thought he was right to go immediately to Belfast on the assumption of his office. I am very glad to hear that he intends to spend time there over Easter. I am sure that all this is right, because the Irish people respond to generosity; they respond to open treatment; they respond to that kind of personality which I believe the right hon. Gentleman has.

I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for not peddling any remedies this afternoon. In some senses the best remedy for Northern Ireland is the remedy by which he can get the highest common factor of agreement and almost everything on which they would agree would be acceptable. I believe that the previous holder of the office felt that and I certainly felt it myself. So he begins with good will and support. He was able to say to those of his followers who do not agree with him that they could vote against the Bill tonight as their consciences dictated. He said that with all the more confidence because he knew that we would be in the Lobby behind him.

As he knows, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has indicated that we shall be supporting the Government on this Bill although, of course, we have particular points to raise, as I have intimated privately to the right hon. Gentleman. We shall wish to move some Amendments, if they are called by the Chair, in Committee, but they will not be designed to hamper the progress of the Bill. They will be designed to improve parliamentary control over what is being done in this House because very great powers are being given to the Secretary of State by this Bill and we think it important that Parliament should exert as much control as possible.

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not mind my saying that I smiled a little wryly when I heard him talking about not giving the troops an impossible task, discussing the causes of discontent felt by the minority and telling us of the methods that should be employed to win minority opinion from the gunmen. I hope that I shall not be thought unduly presumptous when I say that I thought I heard echoes of my own speeches and those of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I do not consider it by any means a new approach, as he termed it. I think it is a return to an old policy from which the Government have drifted, not deliberately moved but drifted away, in the last 18 months and now, with a sudden wrench of the wheel, they have gone back to that policy.

I agree that it is a most momentous occasion this afternoon to deprive a province such as Northern Ireland of its constitutionally elected Parliament, even for one year. Even though that Parliament is perhaps not acceptable to one-third of the population, nevertheless this is a step that the House should pause and deliberate upon before finally taking it. If I may say so to the right hon. Gentleman, when I had to consider these things I considered whether we should not dissolve the Parliament. I believe that he and the Government have taken the better step by proroguing the Parliament for 12 months. I think that is right in order that he should give time for this problem to be considered, but it is a momentous step.

For this reason we shall try to strengthen parliamentary control in this House over the almost dictatorial powers which the right hon. Gentleman is taking, and which we do not deny him, for this period of emergency. We believe it is necessary to take that step, but we cannot see the end of what we are doing today. It is a gamble, a gamble which I believe the Government have now been forced to take. I doubt whether there were any real alternatives except one which has been convassed to which I shall refer later. When one considers the dreadful fact that since internment began 220 people have lost their lives in Northern Ireland—nearly 60 soldiers, over 150 civilians, 15 policemen—one realises that this Government were clearly faced with a situation which could not be allowed to continue and why they have chosen this way out of it.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in the thanks which he extended to our soldiers in Northern Ireland. Their tasks will be as great in future as they have been up to the moment. They may be entirely different, for such is the volatile nature of Irish politics that I now find myself less concerned about what the I.R.A. may do than with the possibilities of 500 Protestant gunmen turning on our soldiers. One is at least as likely as the other. The information that is reaching me from Northern Ireland at this moment—for which I cannot vouch, of course—indicates that certainly some people are discussing what weapons should be used, when they should be used and how they can be disposed of. I hope that the intelligence services have got full knowledge of what is likely to happen in these circumstances. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not feel too pained about this. There is no use in shutting our eyes to what can take place. This at least is as much a possibility as anything else. I do not believe for a moment that Mr. Faulkner—

Mr. John E. Maginnis (Armagh)

The right hon. Gentleman should not make these allegations when he has no justification for them.

Mr. Callaghan

The hon. Member does not know whether I have any justification or not. I am relying on information which I have found reliable in the past, and I certainly do not repeat these matters lightly. There are undoubtedly arms held by extreme Protestants at the present time. We shall not get near the truth by trying to deny these things. I am trying to help the Government to assess the situation. I am indicating that British troops may have to face challenges from other forces, because of the volatile nature of politics, than those which they have faced so far. It is no use trying to evade this issue.

What we are doing by this Bill is not to solve any problems but to exchange one set of problems for another. The Bill will not solve the problem of the I.R.A., or the future of Northern Ireland or of the Protestant community, or what should be the future state of Stormont. The Bill merely gives some holding ground for the Government for the time being. As the right hon. Gentleman accurately said, it brings together the presently separated power and responsibility, which may so far perhaps have confused consideration of the issue, but it does no more than give room for manoeuvre. The question is whether the Government and the right hon. Gentleman will be able to take advantage of the room for manoeuvre which they have created.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is right to act speedily. Without pontificating, if I may utter a word to the Government, because of the difficulty of his task this puts a special responsibility on the Cabinet as a whole, if not to accept his view, at least not challenge it unless there are very good reasons for so doing. The man on the spot who has to handle a situation like this has to have a relatively free hand when bringing back reports to the Cabinet when he sees a possibility of conciliation. I say that in defence of the right hon. Gentleman.

I turn to one or two other matters. I have said that I think it right that the Bill should prorogue the Parliament. I also think it right that the Secretary of State should take responsibility, not the Governor. I think this is a better solution.

I want to raise one question about interventions during the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon in view of Section 1(2) of the Ireland Act, 1949. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman why an assurance along the lines that he has conveyed this afternoon and that was conveyed by the Prime Minister in his statement last Friday is not included in the Bill. It could be so included. Nothing in the Bill could be or should be taken to override the principle affirmed by Section 1(2)of the Ireland Act, 1949. Pledges have been given by both sides of the House that nothing shall be done m this matter that would affect the overriding decision of the majority. If this Bill is to last for 12 months and then may fade out, it seems that there is every justification, if the right hon. Gentleman has said so, for including in the Bill the statement that during this period nothing will be done that will override the principle in the Act.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

I know the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Ireland Act of 1949 is a Statute and provides, as he has said, in Section 1(2): …that Northern Ireland remains part of His Majesty's dominions…and…in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be a Dart of His Majesty's dominions…without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. That remains upon the Statute Book and is part of the law unless and until there is a Statute which alters it.

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

If the right hon. Gentleman or the Attorney-General will look at Clause 4(3) of the Bill he will see that the power is expressly taken away from the Parliament of Northern Ireland in this matter and the guarantee has gone.

Mr. Callaghan

I think that sufficient has been said to justify the Attorney-General—whatever be the legal position—looking at this matter again.

I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition before I make this point. In the Bill that was drafted against such a contingency as this when I was at the Home Office we included a specific provision of this nature, and I would like to read it out. It said: Nothing in this Act"— that was the comparable Bill to the Bill we are now discussing— shall be taken to override or to authorise anything to be done in derogation of the principle affirmed by Section 1(2) of the Ireland Act 1949 that in no event shall Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of Her Majesty's Dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. That may not be necessary, but if it has been necessary to give this double reassurance, in the speech today and in the speech last Friday, it seems that there can be nothing against putting it in the Bill.

Mr. Whitelaw

May I make one point about the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman was quoting? Surely that was for a slightly different position because that was when the Parliament was to be dissolved as opposed to being prorogued and there is a fundamental legal difference as I understand it. Having said that, with my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General I will look further into this, but I am assured that legally the assurance I gave is there.

Mr. Callaghan

I am obliged. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. As I said, we were proposing that Parliament should be dissolved. It seems that in view of the extreme state of anxiety and uncertainty in Northern Ireland at present among the great majority of people it would be worth while doing this even if in the view of lawyers it is otiose.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

Without in any way committing oneself to whether this be a right course, do we understand that neither in the draft Bill which the right hon. Gentleman's party had prepared when in Government nor under the present Bill is there any possibility of changes or adjustments in the line of the frontier without the consent, by plebiscite or whatever, of the Parliament of Northern Ireland? Is it impossible to have adjustments to frontiers?

Mr. Callaghan

Certainly when I was considering the matter we did not consider that particular point, and I doubt whether the present Bill covers it. I do not think that such a possibility is included in the Bill.

To get this Bill in perspective, what it is doing is keeping the situation open for a twelvemonth. That is the case against putting a number of things in here that might otherwise go in, because they should be left for conversations and later legislation.

I come to the question of integration between Northern Ireland and this country. There is a case put up by a number of hon. Gentlemen, and I dare say we shall hear it developed today, that if this is to happen there ought to be complete integration between Northern Ireland and this country. The right hon. Gentleman has said that that can be left for later consideration. I would agree with him that it is quite wrong that it should go into this Bill at this stage when it is a temporary Bill. I would like to go further and say to the Government that I would regard integration as an historical blunder of the first magnitude. It would be something that would be likely to repeat all the ancient Irish history. We have heard in the past too much perhaps of 1689. What about 1801? Pitt the Younger, with the best possible motives at that time in a similar situation, abolished the Irish Parliament and completely integrated Ireland into this country.

Rev. Ian Paisley rose

Mr. Callaghan

Forgive my historical excursions. I am not accustomed to making these, but allow me my little piece of Irish history, too. Pitt failed to do this, and the result was the growth of the Home Rule Movement which bedevilled Irish and British relationships for a long time. I have been looking this up and have been struck by the parallel desire of some hon. Gentlemen to have complete integration.

I conclude with the words written in 1801 by General Cornwallis, a famous general who was Lord Lieutenant and Commander-in-Chief over there. The words are as apposite now as they were then, although he was execrated for saying them. He said: I wish England"— notice Scotland and Wales did not come into it!— could make a union with the Irish nation instead of making it with a party in Ireland. This is the test. If the right hon. Gentleman could get both majority and minority, Catholic and Protestant, together to say "We would like integration, we believe this would be a solution to our problems and enable us to live together", he would be entitled to come to the House. Unless and until he can get some such statement I believe he will be making a most profound blunder. He would be embroiling Great Britain further in the politics of Northern Ireland against the will of one of the two parties in Northern Ireland. This would be a recipe for further difficulties in the long run.

I promised to give way to the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley).

Rev. Ian Paisley

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the union was brought about by corruption and bribery, and that there is a great difference between buying an undemocratic Parliament and the wishes expressed by the vast majority of people who are, whether or not the right hon. Gentleman likes it, still citizens of this Kingdom?

Mr. Callaghan

I do like it, if they wish to remain so. It is for them to decide. Speaking to the hon. Member, who has a very great influence and a great future I believe, I think there is a substantial case for saying that the people whom he leads and who support him in Northern Ireland ought to be looking as much to their neighbours in the South for their future as they are looking over here. I believe that the people who support him and the Government of the Republic have been so intent upon what we are doing here at these Dispatch Boxes that they have failed to take advantage of their opportunities with one another.

One of the things which I hope will arise from what is happening under this Bill is that the hon. Gentleman and those like Mr. Faulkner and maybe Mr. Craig will give a lead to their constituents and say, "Look, this Border is a man-made Border; it is not a natural Border. We will not sweep it away. I have been trying to write that into the Bill." He and others should be saying, "Is it not sense that instead of reviling each other North and South we should try to work and live together and grow together?" I believe that this is the best path for the future happiness of those who support him.

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)

Before the right hon. Gentleman rejects too decisively the concept of full integration as a solution for the future, will he bear in mind that the Younger Pitt's Irish Bill failed not because of opposition from Ireland but because King George III regarded it as a breach of his Coronation oath? Is he aware that most serious historians of Irish history, both Catholic and Protestant, have regarded the failure of Pitt's measure as the greatest political tragedy in the whole of Irish history?

Mr. Callaghan

I should have known better than to venture too far into Irish history. Instead of referring to our forefathers for words of wisdom, I might just as well have uttered my own and left it at that.

There are one or two detailed matters on the Bill which I should like to bring to the attention of the Government. As far as I know there are four major Bills in front of the Northern Ireland Parliament; the Prosecution of Offences Bill, the Education Bill, the Fire Services Bill and a Bill for the transfer of the functions of local government, which I regard as being of supreme importance and for which Mr. Faulkner was responsible and which he nearly carried through. What are the intentions in relation to these Bills? It is of vital importance that the Houseshould know.

I come to the special powers, of which there are a number. In the autumn of 1968 and the spring of 1969 the Northern Ireland Government were considering whether they should abolish the special powers and bring in permanent legislation in their place. Now that these special powers, in all their draconian severity, have become our responsibility, as they do from the time the Bill becomes an Act, it is incumbent upon the Government and the House to review their operation, their number and the need for them. I therefore make a firm request to the Minister to re-examine the existing special powers and to come to a conclusion on how many of them are needed. I ask that he should justify their need in the course of a White Paper. We will give him time to review this matter and publish his conclusions in due course so that Parliament can take its own view on these matters. We all find these powers repulsive, we none of us want them, but the Government must be given the opportunity of making their case on them before we come to a final conclusion.

I am glad to hear what the Minister said about the release of internees in the sense that he intends to review every case, and I am sure that is right. We ask him to review the criteria, if such exist, on which these men have been imprisoned without trial, and to inform us on what criteria they are imprisoned without trial and on what criteria he proposes to act in connection with release. These are important matters. It is almost unprecedented in the history of this country that over 900 men should be in prison without conviction, without sentence, without a case having been heard against them. These are the problems which the Government have inherited and brought upon themselves by their own Bill. Although we are agreeable and willing to help in these matters, nevertheless it is the duty of the Opposition, and, indeed the whole House, to satisfy themselves about the use the Government are making of these powers.

I turn to the Schedule, and particularly paragraphs 4(l)(b) and 4(2). Paragraph 4(1)(b) provides for the negative procedure on important issues that are enacted, if such is the word, by Order in Council—I doubt whether my right hon. Friend would agree with the word "enacted" in relation to Orders in Council—or that come into operation as the result of an Order in Council. It is our view that these powers should not be negative. We all know what happens. A Prayer is put down, the Patronage Secretary finds that it is impossible to give time for its consideration and the time lapses so that it canont be raised or there is a bargain that there will not be a Division. When the House is substituting for the detailed legislation that Stormont has in front of it a mere Order in Council for a Statutory Instrument, the least we are entitled to say is that it should be subject to the affirmative and not the negative procedure.

I put this proposition to the Government and trust that they will be willing to accept it. I do not think it can be done for every order, otherwise we might clutter up the Order Paper to the exclusion of our own Prayers but, given the good will of the Government, it should be possible to define what is important and what is not. All major economic and social issues should be subject to affirmative procedure, and it should be possible to draw up a definition to suit both sides of the House.

Mr. Whitelaw

That is what we are seeking to do in the Bill. If we are not succeeding, we will look at it again. That was how we wished to proceed.

Mr. Callaghan

With respect, the Bill does precisely the opposite, otherwise I should not have raised the question. The Bill is quite clear that we shall use the ordinary Prayer-making procedure by way of negative resolution.

Mr. Whitelaw

I will try to find a way.

Mr. Callaghan

If the right hon. Gentleman means that he is giving way and we shall have the affirmative procedure, that is fine. If that is his intention we have already scored a victory.

The same applies under paragraph 4(2) of the Schedule to regulations made under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act. They should be subject to an affirmative vote of the House of Commons and not to negative procedure for exactly the same reasons. Here we should be taking special powers which are by themselves almost of a dictatorial nature and it is right that the House of Commons should be able to say positively what is to happen.

The Minister has explained what the Commissioners are intended to do. I am a little worried. I doubt whether, with the best will in the world, this will get off the ground. I should in many ways like to see this assistance to the right hon. Gentleman, but, in view of the phrases that have been used and the calls of "traitor" and so on, I think he will find that he will have more difficulty than he imagines.

I will make an alternative suggestion to him which I hope will command general support. If he finds it impossible to get these Commissioners into being, or to find worthwhile people to serve, I recommend a proposal made by the Northern Ireland Labour Party that there should be set up an Economic Development and Employment Council drawn from people in all walks of life who could look at the economic and employment situation in the Province. Everyone who has looked at the situation in the Province agrees that this is vital. The right hon. Gentleman told us how many millions have been spent. I calculate that roughly £150 million has been spent during the last 18 months or two years. Whatever his view about the constitutional nature of the Commissioners, surely no one, whether Protestant or Catholic, could refuse to serve on an Employment and Economic and Development Council which would have the opportunity of advising the Secretary of State. That would be for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland, whatever their political views. I put this suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman if he finds that the Commissioners do not run, as I fear they may not.

It is clear that we shall have a separate Question Time for Questions to the Secretary of State. We shall have much more work to do. I have already been thinking of myself as a Member of Parliament for Northern Ireland, and I shall be even more of a Northern Ireland M.P. now than I have been in the past. We shall all no doubt have numerous questions put to us, and hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies will have a tremendous amount of work to do.

We should also like to have discussions between the major parties on how legislation should be enacted during the next 12 months. It is a difficult matter. I do not think that the Order in Council procedure, even with an affirmative resolution, will be altogether satisfactory when one considers what is being subtracted from the consideration of such draft legislation. We should like to have conversations about this. I do not know how it will turn out although I have my own ideas which I shall not pursue this afternoon.

I want to say one word about the police. I was very glad indeed that the R.U.C. showed that they were not susceptible to blandishments to go on strike. It is, in my view, in their interests in the long-term policing of Northern Ireland that they should be immune from that sort of pressure, and I am sure that in terms of the long-term policing of Northern Ireland they took the right step. By so doing, they have shown the minority opinion of Northern Ireland that they are not the tools or the handmaidens of the majority, and if there is one path to success for any police force it is that of independence.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, while listening to their leaders very carefully—the Chief Constable and the police authority—will maintain the closest personal links with the R.U.C. His relationship with them should be analogous to that of the Home Secretary with the Metropolitan Police, but even closer. He should know what is going on, what their tactics are and what steps they are taking in their search for terrorists, whoever they may be, and should advise them as to what he thinks the political consequences will be, because these men are engaged in political matters of serious consequence in which sensitivity is indeed necessary, and the right hon. Gentleman can play a most important part in this matter.

I must say before finishing that I believe that Mr. Faulkner has some grounds for complaint. I do not approve of the manner in which he conducted his speech yesterday, but I am bound to say to the Government, because it must be put on record as my view, that their conduct of affairs over the past 18 months allowed Mr. Faulkner to go very much his own way and to take over. Whether this was the policy of disengagement being carried into Northern Ireland, I know not, but they allowed Mr. Faulkner to deal with matters on which when our Government were in office, although his predecessor was closely consulted and maybe took the executive action, we knew what was going to happen and said if we did not agree; and we both knew where we stood. The Government have allowed Mr. Faulkner to go his own way. He has almost—I will not say "dragged"—carried the Cabinet behind him. Then suddenly the Cabinet find themselves in an impasse, so they wrench the wheel round and Mr. Faulkner finds that he is out on his own. In my view, therefore, Mr. Faulkner has very genuine grounds for saying "I have been let down; I have been doing what was agreed." I understand this attitude, although I believe that Mr. Faulkner was on the wrong lines.

The right hon. Gentleman does not have Mr. Faulkner to deal with, but in his relationships with all the various groups in Northern Ireland he must keep the channels of communication open and take the initiative. I hope very much, for the sake of the people of Ireland—those of the North as well as those of the South—that he can succeed in bringing them together and that during the next few months the conversations that will ensue will provide for the first time in some hundreds of years the beginning of a permanent solution to the problems of that country.

4.34 p.m.

Mr. Rafton Pounder (Belfast, South)

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) would like to thank, as I do, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) for taking up so vigorously the point raised by him with reference to the constitutional guarantee, which has been so often reiterated but is not covered by this Bill. Welcome as these assurances are, I hope steps will be taken to make the necessary Amendment between now and the Committee stage, because nothing can be left to chance in such an important subject.

No one who was in Northern Ireland over the weekend or yesterday can have any doubt whatsoever about the massive feeling of resentment, bitterness and anger which the package of so-called initiatives has generated. There is an almost universal feeling among the Loyalist community—and these are their words, not mine—that they are being betrayed, sold out, gravely let down. The message which came to me over the last weekend in my constituency meetings was "I am sure that we deserve better than this."

The mood of bitterness is not confined to any one age group or social class. As one who as recently as last Tuesday evening on the very eve of the fateful talks in Downing Street, reiterated in my own constituency for the umpteenth time my confidence in the Prime Minister as a man of absolute integrity whose Christmas message to the people of Ulster meant what it said when he stated: You can trust us: we are behind you all the way. How am I now expected to feel? I know that I feel bitterly let down. My confidence and trust have taken a terrible knock, and I have no doubt whatever that many of my own electors will feel that they can never really trust a Conservative Government again. I derive no pleasure whatsoever from expressing these sentiments, but these are the sentiments which are felt at this time.

Whether the Government realise it or not, this is being seen in Northern Ireland as a victory for violence and civil disobedience. If the Government mean what they say, that there will be no relaxation of the effort to rid Northern Ireland of the agony of violence, then they must show positively that this is so. My right hon. Friend the Lord President made a point of this in his speech.

There has already been an indication in the Press in Northern Ireland on Saturday night and again yesterday morning that a new "softly, softly" directive has been issued. Nothing is more damaging at this time of uncertainty than rumours of this kind, and if there is no truth in them perhaps we could have a very early statement to this effect, because the alternative is that there will be resignations from the Ulster Defence Regiment, and that would be extremely grave.

One of the most disturbing features of the package of proposals is their apparent reliance on political initiatives. These alone cannot bring peace to Northern Ireland; yet on Friday and again today there really has been nothing about the increased security initiatives which many of us feel are desperately needed. For instance, Border patrolling. Border security is, frankly, lamentable, and no great steps on a military front can be taken until this open door of the gelignite trail, as it has been called, has been closed.

The Government here may think that they have bought a breathing space, but at an unknown cost. This Bill has created a deep sense of instability. A perilous journey has been embarked upon. Where the journey will take Northern Ireland is uncertain, but what is certain is that if the Government lose their way or take a wrong turning it is the people of Northern Ireland who will suffer.

Numerous commentators have in recent days expressed the hope, no doubt sincere, that the decisions, having been taken, will work. But hope of itself is a shaky basis. What some may see as a bold initiative others are seeing as a futile surrender. Whichever it is, one fact cannot be glossed over: at the present time in Northern Ireland the view is widespread that violence has been seen to pay. It would appear that Her Majesty's Government have found the programme of violence and disobedience more compelling than the case of the elected representatives of the majority in Stormont. That is indeed a very dangerous political doctrine on which to embark.

I would underscore this claim by reminding the House that it is acknowledged by Her Majesty's Government that Stormont did not fall down on the job, that no fault could be found with the actions and policies of the Northern Ireland Government, and that that Government fulfilled all their commitments, and with courage. In that event, can any other interpretation be placed upon the Bill today than that which I have sought to place before the House?

It really is naïve, with great respect, to imagine that those who refused to talk to Stormont are in the long term going to talk to Westminster—unless perchance they feel that they could not hoodwink Stormont but perhaps London is an easier bet. If Stormont had fallen down on the job, then no matter how disastrous this Bill is, it would be easier to understand.

It is being felt, and I share this view, that Stormont is being sacrificed on the altar of expediency and that perhaps the package is the tip of the iceberg. No one disputes that Westminster is the sovereign Parliament of the United Kingdom and is all-powerful, but what rankles so bitterly is the manner in which that power has been used and the considerations which apparently weighed so heavily in deciding on the exercise of those powers.

Though in theory Stormont is only being prorogued for a year, there is grave doubt in Northern Ireland that Stormont will ever be reconstituted in a meaningful form. I know that many people on the other side of the House like to joke and jeer about Stormont, but its existence is very much valued by the majority of people in Northern Ireland. Therefore, the fact that its future has been called in question is of itself a serious enough problem. But what is far worse is the more immediate and serious issue which was touched upon by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, who asked what was to happen to the legislation which is in the pipeline at Stormont at present.

The right hon. Gentleman detailed four of the major Bills which were to have come before that Parliament. The one which attracts the most attention is that which provides for a major restructuring of local government—by any standards a highly contentious Bill. At Stormont these local government issues, which affect everyday life of everyone in Northern Ireland, could have been debated and dissected by the elected representatives of the people of the Province. That Bill is now to come here by means of an Order in Council. But, worse than that, there is nobody in this House who has a mandate, let alone the knowledge of local affairs in Northern Ireland, to have a view on such a Bill.

I believe that it is wrong to deal with legislation of that magnitude by means of the Order in Council procedure. This is the utter negation of parliamentary democracy. [Hon. Members: "No."] It would be interesting if the Local Government Bill which is now before this House were to be the subject of a 1½-hour Order in Council type debate. It would have given many hon. Members more sleep, but it would hardly have been the way to deal with such an important subject.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Local Government Bill deals with Wales, Scotland and England and that the hon. Gentleman as a Northern Ireland Member voted on that Bill in this House. If Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, why should not hon. Members in this House vote on Bills which affect Northern Ireland?

Mr. Pounder

Because in the manifesto on which Conservative and Unionist Members fought the last election there was reference to that matter. There is no reference in that manifesto to local government in Northern Ireland. The only point I am making is that here is a major issue which should not be dealt with by means of an Order in Council.

The other Bills to which the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East referred are also important. Some procedure will have to be worked out to enable the House to give more consideration to such legislation which normally would come before Stormont.

I make brief reference to the commission. I refer to this matter briefly because I know it will be amplified in other speeches. I utterly reject the concept of the Commission, which is a meaningless buffer. If there is to be direct rule, which I dislike, let it be by the front door and not by the back door. I can only say that, in view of what has been said in Northern Ireland over the weekend, I share the right hon. Gentle- man's view that an Advisory Commission will not get off the ground. Because of the existence of a buffer, it will mean that if mistakes are made in the coming months—as inevitably mistakes are bound to be made, whether those mistakes are great or small—such an advisory body could be on a hiding to to nothing.

Mr. Whitelaw

I do not like the idea of this Advisory Commission taking the form of a buffer. I wish to make it absolutely clear that I, as a member of the British Cabinet, am responsible to the Cabinet and answerable to this House of Commons. Where there are mistakes, or troubles, or wrong decisions, I shall be the person responsible. I can be blamed and taken to account in this House. It is what I am here for, and it is what I expect.

Mr. Pounder

I am indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for that very clear statement. Frankly, as things stood, the Commission was being seen in the light in which I portrayed it—were its eight members Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

I come to deal with the legal point that this Bill represents a marked departure from constitutional practice. From the British North America Act, 1867, to the Statute of Westminster, 1931, a doctrine was developed which has become constitutional practice whereby a Parliament or Legislature established by this House and existing for some years would not be suspended. I appreciate that the word in the Bill is "prorogued", but it means much the same sort of thing. As recently as 1948, in the debates on the Ireland Act, 1949, the then Prime Minister expressed the view that the Government of the United Kingdom should not change the constitutional arrangements of Stormont without Stormont's free agreement. This was interpreted as being part of the constitutional doctrine which had developed over many years.

There is one aspect of this Bill which lies completely outside the powers of this House. The Bill transfers to this House all the powers vested in the Government of Northern Ireland. The supposition is that all these powers emanated from the Westminster Statute. But there is one that did not. In 1925 an agreement was concluded between this Parliament, the Northern Ireland Parliament and the Parliament of the Irish Free State which settled the Border as determined in 1922. This agreement was registered with the League of Nations as an international agreement. I am not a lawyer, but that is my assumption as to the legal interpretation. I hope that we shall have some legal guidance on whether that view is correct.

I promised that I would speak for not more than 12 minutes, and I think I have kept my promise. From what I have said, it must be patently obvious that tonight I shall not support the Government.

4.47 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

I say in all sincerity to the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) that I can understand his feelings of bitterness and sadness. However, I hope that on reflection he will realise that Her Majesty's Government had better reasons for taking this action than the hon. Gentleman suggested in his speech.

The Stormont Parliament was set up, rightly or wrongly, by a Liberal Prime Minister in a coalition Government. I am one who pre-eminently wishes to see a federal system of Government in this country', with the concept of delegated Parliaments extended to Wales, Scotland and England, with this House being a purely federal body with only 200 to 300 members.

None the less I believe Her Majesty's Government have no alternative but to pursue the course which they have taken. I give the hon. Gentleman two basic reasons for saying that I believe this to be true. The Labour Government put troops into Northern Ireland—quite rightly in my view, and, I believe, in the view of the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues—because of the very dangerous situation which was likely to develop. At that time, rightly or wrongly, it was the Catholic minority who felt that they were in danger. Therefore, the troops were put in. Latterly, rightly or wrongly it has been the Protestant majority which have felt themselves to be the main target of terrorism at the hands of a small and ruthless minority of the I.R.A. and the Provisionals. So far as I know, no law-abiding citizen—by which I mean those who merely wish to live in peace with their neighbours, be they Catholic or Protestant—has suggested that Her Majesty's forces should be withdrawn from Northern Ireland. So they are there, and they are there in great numbers. Were they to be withdrawn, the consequences are too terrifying for this House to imagine. They are the Forces of Her Majesty's Government. They have the added danger that they are not merely patrolling Belfast and Londonderry but are patrolling an international frontier with the possibility of incidents of an international character. No one is more determined to accentuate the international character of that frontier than the Unionists, so I need not argue that point to the hon. Gentleman.

What Her Majesty's Government have said is that the total responsibility for those Forces, upon which issues of the international law and relations with foreign nations turn, and for the security of not only the citizens of Northern Ireland but Her Majesty's troops shall be for the imperial Power. Is that really an unreasonable demand? Has there ever been a case in which foreign affairs have been delegated to a subordinate parliament? Could it be suggested that one of the land parliaments of West Germany should in some way be involved in an incident affecting East Germany or East Berlin? Of course not. Therefore on this I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government can be faulted. Nor do I believe that any Unionist has the right to challenge either the right and still more the wisdom of the Government of this country saying that the responsibility for law and order, with special reference to the Armed Forces, is a matter which should be entirely under the control of this sovereign Parliament which is alone the federal Parliament of this country.

Mr. Pounder

With respect to the right hon. Gentleman, no one has ever suggested that responsibility for the Armed Forces should lie other than in this House. But we are talking, in terms of the transfer of security, about the police, courts, remand homes, borstals and suchlike. We are not discussing the Armed Forces.

Mr. Thorpe

I allowed the hon. Gentleman to interrupt me last week when I thought he had failed to understand, deliberately or otherwise I know not, what Mr. Craig currently was saying. If I may say so, the hon. Gentleman has failed to apprehend what Her Majesty's Government are saying; namely, that responsibility for law and order shall be transferred to this House of Commons and to this Government. Surely the hon. Gentleman is not so naïve as to think that it is possible to make a clear separation, in the circumstances of Northern Ireland which are at present unique, between the Armed Forces of the Crown on the one hand and the security and police forces on the other. The dividing line is minimal. The policy has to be total. They have to be co-ordinated. That is what Her Majesty's Government have said, in my view rightly. If Stormont had felt able to agree to that—and I do not criticise Mr. Faulkner; I can understand his difficulties, and I sympathise with him—I do not believe that we should have been seeing direct rule today.

I felt that the hon. Member for Belfast, South had possibly written the notes of his speech before he heard the Leader of the House. I hope that he will feel, on reflection, that his contribution was not perhaps as careful and helpful as the circumstances demand —

Mr. Pounder rose

Mr. Thorpe

I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way to him again. I must get on.

This is a sombre occasion. For the first time in 52 years this House of Commons—and I emphasise "this House of Commons" as well as "this Government"—is accepting responsibility for the day-to-day affairs of Northern Ireland. I suppose one could say that we have been through this before. But the history of Ireland has been one of tragedy, of failure, of violence, and of terrorism. If this generation could solve that problem peaceably, I believe it would be one of the greatest achievements of this Parliament. I know not whether it can be done, but I should like to make one or two suggestions.

I think that the Leader of the House knows that the whole House wishes him well. I say to him with great respect that I think that his quality of earning the trust of those with whom he comes in contact and of retaining that trust is perhaps as important as any quality that he will take to Northern Ireland. But I ask rhetorically that if this House is to exercise legislative powers for Northern Ireland why should it be by Order in Council? Is it because it is thought that it is too heavy a burden to place on the House of Commons? I could suggest other legislation which I think is of less importance and less significance—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I do not include the European Communities Bill.

Alternatively, is it suggested that this procedure is a legal formula whereby the legislation will have authority equivalent to the legislation passed by Stormont? I am bound to say that I should prefer to have legislation passed after debate rather than legislation which is only subject to subsequent veto. If this House of Commons is genuinely to take responsibility for the affairs and day-to-day administration of Northern Ireland, let us shoulder that burden and do it properly. By that, let us prove that we regard the detailed matters relating to the day-by-day lives of the people of Northern Ireland as worthy of just as much parliamentary consideration as those relating to the people of Scotland and the people of Wales.

I wonder, in fact, whether this legislation transfers law and order to Westminster. It does in legal form, of course. I am not certain whether it does in fact. There are limited powers of questioning. I believe that this Bill must be passed, and I shall support it. But we have to look carefully at the way in which we are to shoulder these responsibilities. Those are matters which can be raised properly in Committee.

We have also to realise that there are hon. Members of this House who are specially qualified to speak on behalf of Northern Ireland. They are those who have been returned by the electorate of Northern Ireland. I suppose in any other context one could say that they were a very catholic variety. I think I shall have to vary my terms for fear of causing the hon. Member for Belfast, South to have apoplexy—

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)


Mr. Thorpe

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. "Ecumenical" would be more appropriate. At any rate, they represent varied shades of opinion. I put it no higher than that.

I wonder whether there will be some method whereby they can be especially consulted. After all, they are the elected representatives of Northern Ireland. They say that in their view they are unrepresented in proportion to their numbers. That is a situation with which I am familiar and have some sympathy. I regret that they saw fit in Northern Ireland to abolish for Stormont elections the very electoral system which would have guaranteed them proportional representation. But that was a matter for them.

I believe that the idea of an Ulster Grand Committee would be a cumbrous procedure which would underline the permanency of the intended arrangement. However, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will find some way of consulting different opinions. I hope that those hon. Members who have entered this House and, whether they like it or not, have taken the Oath of Allegiance and are part of the Westminster Parliament will feel some responsibility for working together to make the next year more successful than the past few years. This House would not take with great patience anyone who, having been returned here to represent Northern Ireland, boycotted any discussion or any body which might be set up to consider their affairs.

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman about the Special Powers Act. I know that the position about delegation, new special powers, and so on is carefully written into the Schedules to the Bill. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider—I re-echo what the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said—whether he needs to retain the special powers in their full vigour? Does he need the power to shift the burden of proof on to a person accused of an offence under the Special Powers Act, to provide for punishment by whipping, to enable him to prohibit the circulation of any newspaper, or to prohibit the holding of an inquest after a prisoner's death? Are these powers that this House wishes to retain?

I believe that if we say that we will repeal the Special Powers Act, whilst at the same time continuing to put down terrorism and continuing to prosecute those against whom charges can and should be brought, and that the Special Powers Act will not be one of the weapons which this House is prepared to use, that will have a dramatic effect. I do not believe that it will undermine the confidence of the Protestant majority. Certainly it should not, because I do not believe that they in their wisdom think that the existence of these powers is a determining factor whether we have peace or otherwise.

I hope that we can treat legislation relating to Northern Ireland as we treat legislation for any other part of the United Kingdom. I should hope that that argument would appeal to the Ulster Unionists, who, after all, wish to be regarded pre-eminently as part of the United Kingdom and, who admittedly for a period, are seeing their own legislative Parliament in suspense.

I hope that the phasing-out of internment will be rapid. If the right hon. Gentleman retains the Special Powers Act, which I hope he will not, I remind him that it is still possible to charge a man under that Act for belonging to an illegal organisation, for which there is a punishment of six months' imprisonment. Although I dislike that, I would rather that a man was charged than that he was kept in Long Kesh or any other concentration camp without charge and without trial.

Finally, we must realise what we are taking on. We are taking on the day-to day administration of Northern Ireland. I think that both the Unionists and the Nationalists must realise what we are taking on.

I say to the Nationalists that, so far as this House is concerned, there will be no shot-gun marriage with the South. They cannot shoot through a solution. This House will be very tough and stubborn on that matter.

I say to the Unionists that the argument that we have always heard is that they wish to retain, in the strongest possible sense, their links with this country. It is the Parliament of this country, to which they claim to continue to wish to belong, which is taking responsibility for the day-to-day administration. They may think it a right or a wrong decision. However, I confess that that Unionist claim rings just a little false when we see the Union Jack hauled down from over the City Hall, Belfast, and the Ulster flag run up as if one is to be preferred to the other.

We look to the Unionists, who are represented in this House as part of this federal Parliament, to play their part in trying to pacify Ireland. One thing is obvious. They will not achieve it by hindering the right hon. Gentleman, by hindering and boycotting the Commission, or by trying to prevent an agreement being reached between the various communities.

We approach this dangerous situation without knowing what the outcome will be. I believe that the Government had no alternative. I hope that they will realise that the whole House of Commons is prepared to shoulder this legislative responsibility, not just as a matter of Order in Council. [Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) will contain his comments for just a moment because they are becoming louder as we continue.

Therefore, as the right hon. Gentleman sets off on a very difficult and Northern Ireland—he will certainly have the support of the so-called Loyalists in Northern Ireland—he will certainly have the support of everybody in this House—who want to bring together both communities and see them live in peace.

5.6 p.m.

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

I share a good many of the questions and reflections which the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) has uttered upon the legislative nature of what we are doing this afternoon. Indeed, if the proposition before the House today were the parliamentary reunification of Northern Ireland with Great Britain in a substantive and integral sense, I should be in support of the Bill, though I am not sure that I should think it the most opportune time to make so profound and such a major change, and though certainly such a change would not be possible unless it enjoyed—I am anxious to use an original expression—the full-hearted consent of at least the majority in the Six Counties.

I have for years advocated the genuine embodiment and parliamentary reunification of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland with Great Britain, believing that the separate administration and Parliament which originally was forced upon the majority in Northern Ireland over 50 years ago, but which over the years they have come to see as a symbol not so much of their independence as of their union with the rest of the United Kingdom and which, under distinguished administration and leadership, they have regarded as peculiarly their spokesman, has nevertheless, in the last three or four years, turned to the opposite effect and become for them a cause of danger and a source of division.

I believe, too, that such true reunification must eventully be the means of healing many of the underlying divisions in the Six Counties. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan)—I am sorry that he is not here—has often argued that it is essential for Northern Ireland that its people, claiming as they do to belong to the United Kingdom, should participate in the politics of the United Kingdom, and that we are all looking for some way to escape from the exclusive concentration of the politics of the Six Counties upon the question of union or non-union.

In the greater whole of the Parliament of the United Kingdom many of the other political differences which divide citizens in Northern Ireland, as they divide them here, might well come to the surface and gain expression and thus be the means—differences though they are—of nevertheless neutralising the pro-founder and more irreconcilable antagonisms.

I repeat, therefore, that if that were the proposition before us today, I would welcome it; but that is not the proposition before us. The proposition is the opposite, for direct rule is the opposite to that parliamentary unification about which the right hon. Member for Devon, North found himself reflecting. We do not talk about direct rule in Devon and Cornwall or in Northumberland and Cumberland, because those parts of the United Kingdom regard themselves as integral portions of a kingdom equally and totally represented in this House. The form of direct rule in this Bill emphasises, instead of removes, the distinction and the difference between the Six Counties and the rest of the United Kingdom. That distinction is even sharper and more marked in this Bill than under the existing legislation.

Mr. McGuire

Could I carry the right hon. Gentleman a little further along this line and ask him not to restrict the question to Northumberland, Cornwall and Devon but to consider the case of Wales or Scotland? What would his answer be if 73 per cent. of the people in one of those countries voted for an independent Scotland or Wales? Would he carve out a certain portion to suit his own needs?

Mr. Powell

I have already, in public speeches, repeatedly given the answer to that question. I have said that if it is the settled and preponderant wish—

Mr. McGuire

The right hon. Gentleman does not know what he is talking about.

Mr. Powell

I know what I am talking about in regard to Wales, at any rate—if it is the settled and preponderant wish of any part of the population of the United Kingdom not to belong to the United Kingdom but to be separately governed, I do not believe that such a settled and preponderant wish could or should be opposed. I have said that repeatedly, and I am on record.

What is happening here is that we are marking, in a special and unique way, the separateness of the Six Counties from the rest of the United Kingdom and not their unity with it.

We mark it the more dangerously in that this Bill is of a provisional and, indeed, of a makeshift character; for the very essence of union is by its nature to be permanent and to be intended to be permanent. By this Bill, a Bill renewable year by year, we create a situation, and set up an organisation, which inherently is and always will be tentative, which every month that it exists carries within itself the seeds not of union but of disunion.

Finally, by this Bill—this has already been said several times, even at this stage of the debate—we are setting up government if not without representation at any rate with inadequate representation. When this Bill is passed, a part of the United Kingdom will be governed with far less representation than it is governed at present—

Mr. Thorpe


Mr. Powell

I do not think it is open to dispute that in this House, for his torical reasons which are well known, the representation of the population of the Six Counties is on a far lower scale than the representation of the population of any other part of the Kingdom.

I therefore say that this Measure is the opposite to union. It is the opposite to a declaration of intending and recognising the union of the Six Counties with the rest of the United Kingdom. So it is not surprising if it should be deeply and instinctively offensive, and should appear to be dangerous, to those who believe in that union and are devoted to it.

We are bound to ask why so sudden and so trenchant a Measure was introduced, and was thought to have to be introduced. There is a certain wisp of obscurity which surrounds the genesis of this Bill. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mentioned three points in the initiative or package about which so much had been heard over the preceding weeks. One was a plebiscite; the second was the phasing out of internment; and to both of those he said he had encountered no obstacle or objection on the part of the Northern Ireland Government.

The third was the assumption of responsibility, not, of course—my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) made this clear—the responsibility for the Army and the Army's operations, but the responsibility for total law and order in Northern Ireland. It was upon that, so the Prime Minister informed the House, that the difference arose and the decision had to be taken to bring in this Bill and proceed to this Measure.

But, of course, the contradiction and overlapping between power and responsibility—and there has been such, though perhaps it has been becoming more intense as the months have lengthened into years—has long been implicit, certainly ever since the Army was used in Northern Ireland two and a half years ago. So we still have to ask: what new thing was it, what was the initiative, what were the intentions, which at this point of time made the reconciliation and resolution of that long-standing dilemma so important? I believe it is in the answer to that question that we perceive not merely the danger but the fatal character of what is being put before the House.

My right hon. Friend has made no secret of what he believes must be his purpose as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He diagnoses, and he diagnoses rightly, as the most intractable part of the troubles of Northern Ireland the fact that violence, terror, the I.R.A. and the Provisional I.R.A., find support—of varying degrees, but let me sum it up in the word "support"—among the minority in the Six Counties.

This is undeniably true. But then my right hon. Friend proceeds to what I believe is the fateful, erroneous next step. He proceeds to the assumption that that support is tendered to the enemies of law and order and of the Union in Northern Ireland, and is withheld from the forces of law and order, because of things which can be altered or put right or assuaged by constitutional alterations. He believes that it is because of grievances, discontents, deprivations which are capable of being reduced and removed at this point of time by constitutional arrangements that that fatal connection exists between the minority and violence.

I say that, if that were so, happy indeed should we be. If that were so, we should have seen not a crescendo but a diminuendo in these respects in the last two and a half years. The very course of events has been the refutation of that explanation. No, Sir—the reason for that support is of a more crude, simple and basic character. It is that the gunman, terror, force, the enemy in this war—the word "war" is not my word; it is used by my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench—are believed to be in the ascendant. They are in a position to make it a danger to life not to give them support, not to give them countenance and comfort. It is fear—fear in the present and fear for the future—which is the cause of the difference between the attitude to authority of the minority in Northern Ireland now and two, three or four years ago. One cannot, when a man has a gun in his back, expect to gain what is called his co-operation by offering him a position in a Cabinet, a constitutional change or some new form of franchise.

The reality in this—a reality which it is harsh and even painful for us to recognise, for how often we have stated the opposite in the last two or three years—is that up to the present the war is being lost, and is being seen by the people in the Six Counties to be being lost. The minority find themselves, by reason of that fact, the prisoners—more or less willing, but most of them are not willing prisoners—of the violence and the terror.

A Measure the very purpose of which is founded on a misconception—on a pathetic delusion as to the fundamental reality of the situation in Northern Ireland—can only have the effect of making the position even worse. The interpretation which will be put on this Measure—on this demonstration that Her Majesty's Government share, or profess to share, that delusion—will be for people to say, "You see, violence is succeeding. It is paying off. Another stage has been gained." That is why there was such a remarkable welcome for this step in certain quarters.

In all that my right hon. Friend has said there is nothing about the essential measures; and there is no reason to suppose that the Government are taking these powers and passing this legislation in order the more effectively to bring the essential measures into effect. The result is that the total effect is negative, damaging and disastrous. About what those essential measures are there is no secret; and the fact that they are not to be taken spells its own message to friend and foe in Northern Ireland. They are these: the control of the open frontier; the strengthening, rearming and re-establishment of the police so that policing can be restored throughout the Six Counties, and the fantastic contradiction of an Army attempting to do the job of the police can be resolved; thirdly, the identification of all those who are resident in Northern Ireland or present there, so that the forces of law and order can operate effectively.

Behind those three practical measures is the act from which we have for so long shrunk—the recognition of the truth which we have tried to deny, though the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East mentioned it this afternoon, that it is indeed an international frontier, a frontier dividing two nations, which runs from side to side of Northern Ireland. The recognition of that fact in the law of this country is the necessary background and precondition of the only practical steps which can enable the forces of law to prevail over the forces of terror and violence in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is recommending measures which failed in, for example, Algeria, French Indo-China, Palestine, Cyprus and Aden? Why should they succeed in Ireland?

Mr. Powell

There is one profound difference between those places and Northern Ireland, and that is that the majority of the inhabitants of Northern Ireland identify themselves with this country, regard themselves as part of this country and wish to remain indefinitely part of this country. There is, therefore, no similarity, for that fundamental reason, between the cases which the hon. Gentleman cites and those with which I am dealing.

It is because of both what the Government do not say and what they do say in introducing this Measure that its consequences will be disastrous. What they do not say is to hold out any prospect or intention of doing those further things which would give hope of winning the war which is now being lost. What they do say is that they intend to take measures and indulge in activities which rest on a delusion, a misconception and a false analysis of what is really happening and what are the real facts in Northern Ireland.

There is a great temptation when one's right hon. Friends have taken such a step as this, when legislation such as this has been welcomed from both sides of the House, and when it is introduced in circumstances of such gravity—those of us who do not go home at night or over the weekend to places where they will be in personal danger probably feel a sense of shame when they see colleagues leave their side to do just that—in such circumstances there is a grave temptation to suppress one's doubts and try to believe in miracles; to say to oneself, "Every argument, every ground of reason, every probability points in the opposite direction, and yet—"

Mr. Orme

Which way will the right hon. Gentleman be voting?

Mr. Powell

I shall vote against the Bill.

As I was saying, there is a temptation to say to oneself, "and yet, why not give it a chance?" and so to hold one's peace. It is a dangerous temptation, but it is one which is in contradiction with our duty in this House; for those of us who are on the back benches have only one power and responsibility. It is not to govern but to offer counsel. If we dare to suppress what are our real expectations and fears, we fail to do the one duty which is ours. That is why tonight I shall vote against the Bill.

5.27 p.m.

Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)

I do not suppose there are two more divergent characters in the House than myself and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). The right hon. Gentleman made a characteristic speech which must have shown the Leader of the House just how difficult his task in Ireland will be.

The right hon. Gentleman made a divisive speech, which I admit he was entitled to make, and I take him up on only part of it. Most of us were born in the United Kingdom. It has been said time and again that the consensus in Northern Ireland would be against what the Prime Minister and his colleagues have done. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he took the consensus of the whole of the United Kingdom he would find that overwhelmingly, almost unanimously, opinion would be with Her Majesty's Government.

The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said not a word about the position of our troops in Northern Ireland. The people in this country are becoming more and more concerned about them. Bearing that in mind, I challenge his statement about what would happen if a full plebiscite were taken, without the intimidation of which he spoke. Being as knowledgeable of Northern Irish affairs as most Englishmen, I believe that the overwhelming majority of people there would vote for the steps which Her Majesty's Government are taking if given choice freely and without intimidation.

I do not want to follow up the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, but he might have had the good grace to say what was the original cause of the trouble in Northern Ireland—that in Ulster there was a 50-year, overwhelming built-in majority of certain people, and there was no chance that people like myself, who happened to be Catholics, could participate in the affairs of Northern Ireland. I say to the right hon. Gentleman that because I was born in England and my grandfather and grandmother on my mother's side were born in Northern Ireland, I have been allowed full participation in this country, allowed to enter my trade union and local authority, to practice my faith, to attend my schools, to join the British Army and to become a Member of Parliament. But I am a Member of Parliament for the people I was born amongst and live with. That is what was wrong and is wrong in Northern Ireland, that was the basic cause of discontent.

I did not intend to make this sort of attack on the right hon. Gentleman, nor did I intend to make this sort of speech; but the right hon. Gentleman must be answered when he makes such provocative statements.

Mr. Powell

What has been interesting me as the hon. Gentleman has been speaking is how closely he was following my grounds for wishing agenuine union and integration, a parliamentary union, between the Six Counties and the rest of the United Kingdom. What he has just said illustrates the reasons for that.

Mr. Orme

Tell Mr. Craig that.

Mr. Mahon

I have always believed in the unification of the whole of Ireland, but before that we must have the unification of all the people of Ireland. If people had followed the example I gave, in which I and my family have been able to participate fully in peace and war in the affairs of the country, we should not have had the situation which the right hon. Gentleman had to devise today.

Another matter is the argument that men of violence have won a victory in Northern Ireland. Even though I may be a minority of one, I do not believe that that is true in any respect. As the House knows, I have consistently deplored the violence that has occurred in Ireland. I believe that I was the first Member of Parliament to ask my right hon. Friends to send troops into Northern Ireland to defend Catholics. I have known the right hon. Gentleman who is to be the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for many years and I know his feelings and those of the Cabinet and my right hon. Friends. I would rather believe that this move is a victory for the courage and wisdom of the Government and certainly for the compassion of the British people. The British people have been sickened, as we have all been sickened, by what has been happening in Northern Ireland. I hope that the people of Northern Ireland by some chance will be able to accept and support the Government's initiative. Certainly some of them in the Irish Republic will.

What faces the gunmen and the bomber in Northern Ireland—I disagree completely with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—is not victory or the furtherance of their aims. The only thing that confronts them is complete and utter defeat, because if they lose the opportunity that has been presented by the Government and Parliament as a whole the Irish people will turn on anyone who throws away this opportunity which now exists. From my knowledge and the daily knowledge of my relatives and people in Northern Ireland, more than anything else, more than borders, what the people of Northern Ireland want is what I and anyone else would want in the same set of circumstances. We would want peace. I have been in daily and sometimes hourly touch with Northern Ireland, with community workers and people trying to do their best in these difficult circumstances. They say to me, "It is not a question of the Border. That will eventually resolve itself". But the possibility at present is of "women going out to shop and never returning, of children going to school and never returning".

These are the anxieties of the whole of the people of Northern Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant. Too many people want to make it a case of Protestant and Catholic, black and white, East and West, and to polarise every situation that arises. I often differ with my hon. Friends when I say that we even go too far in polarising capital and labour. I have never believed even in that. But to start from the premise that it is Catholic and Protestant and never the twain shall meet is to give in to hopelessness. I have no intention of adding my influence to that theory.

I have often said, and perhaps touched wood, and hoped to God, that nothing will change. Liverpool has been quiet, dignified and reserved during the whole of these last three years. I should like to think that I took some credit for having given people in Liverpool good advice. But if that is possible in Liverpool between Catholics and Protestants who have lived through days not as bad but difficult, it is possible in Belfast. It has to be made possible. There is no point in talking about the unification of Ireland except in the terms that the Taoiseach, the Prime Minister of Eire, has spoken and as many a cardinal of the Catholic Church has spoken. One cannot bomb a million Protestants into the unification of Ireland. It can come about only—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House will try to bring this about—by the free consent of the people of Northern Ireland. The chance might possibly come—I shall offend many hon. Members here—with the economic and social changes in the South of Ireland. If they were all Catholics or all Protestants in the North, can one think that with these economic inequalities, with poverty in one part and the other being better off, people might wish to keep the Border when the time comes? It may not be necessarily so that all the people in Northern Ireland, Catholic or Protestant, want to get rid of it. There is an awful lot of work to be done in the South to eliminate poverty. There is much inequality to be rectified in the South before this union can take place.

I wish to give a reminiscence to the House which may throw some light on the subject. I remember once taking up a very biased stance in the House. I was once told by the late Aneurin Bevan to look at the thing in perspective. It was a problem similar to the one we are discussing. He told me always to try to do that. He said, "Your hand is a useful limb, but if you put your hand in front of your eye you see neither your eye nor your hand, nor the perspective. To some degree, by putting the limb in front of the eye you cause your own blindness." To a certain extent we have had this problem of Ireland so much before our eyes that we are looking but possibly not seeing. From my experience and Irish background, I know that when I visit Ireland—I have been all over that country, and this is important—people do not know how the Irish are living in England.

There are a million Irish-born people here. There are tens of millions of people of Irish extraction. There are more Irish-born people in this country than in the North of Ireland, and they are doing remarkably well in comparison. I have very often said that to people in Ireland. I have said, "This is the way that Irish people are treated. This is the way that Catholics are treated in England. There is no dichotomy." A simple analogy which may be of interest and of some use to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House is that I told them that, for instance, on Catholic education in this country for every £1,000 spent we get £800 from the Government, our schools are fully maintained and teachers wages paid for, and so on, and this is free participation on every level.

It is these simple facts that could be brought forward. The same position on education in England regarding Catholics and Irish people pertains at present in the North of Ireland. I have often wondered how it is that they did not get the same sort of education as they have in education on housing, job provision and everything else which caused so much unrest. If it was possible at that level, why was it not possible at other levels?

My advice to the Lord President is that if he wants to know Ireland he should not only visit the North of Ireland or the salubrious parts of Dublin. If he wants to know what happened to Ireland, he should remember what happened to parts of his own Scotland, because the history of some parts of Scotland does not bear examination. He should go to the west of Ireland where my forebears lived, to the Hills of Connaught and see the poverty which was created by the incursion of so many foreign people. Then he will begin to understand the meaning of what is called "the Irish question".

It was suggested that Northern Ireland was costing £150–£160 million, but on good authority I can say that at the moment it is costing about £300 million a year. There is talk of unification. But consider what tremendous benefits could accrue for the whole of Ireland with economic and social unification if some of this money could be spent on the things that are needed in Ireland, particularly on the west coast from Londonderry to Bantry Bay. That is how the money should be spent if we could get peace.

The Prime Minister of the Irish Republic has told us that there can be no peace among the exploding bombs: There is no justice in the role of the gun and there is no unity in setting Irishman against Irishman. On the contrary, violence simply frustrates the creation of the conditions in which serious political discussions can take place. Too often it has been believed that the last word on Irish history has been written, but again and again the Irish question has been resuscitated because injustices remained. I hope that the man who can bring permanent peace and social justice to Ireland is the new Secretary of State for Ireland, and I wish him and the Government and everyone concerned all good luck and good fortune possible. He needs it, but more than him the Irish people deserve it.

5.43 p.m.

Mr. James Kilfedder (Down, North)

The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) tried to explain the origins of some of the trouble which has existed in Ireland for a long time. He spoke about the poverty in the south. If he visited Ireland today he would see the same poverty to which he referred in the west of the Irish Free State. Over a million citizens of Eire have left the Republic and are now living happily and quite contentedly under the British wing in this country. Why cannot the half million Roman Catholics living in Northern Ireland also live quite happily and contentedly within the United Kingdom?

Mr. Orme

Because you will not let them.

Mr. Kilfedder

The hon. Member says we would not allow them to do so. I do not wish to dwell on the past, but when Ulster was created and when Stormont was opened in 1920 the Nationalist M.P.s refused to attend. They never appeared at Stormont until 1928. That was where the trouble began for Northern Ireland, because the elected representatives of the minority failed to give the minority the guidance it needed to enable it to make a positive contribution to the future of Ulster. All the Unionists want everyone in Ulster to enjoy the benefits of living in a British Northern Ireland.

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said that Ulster people—perhaps he intended it to apply to all Irish people—responded to generosity. What generosity have they now received from the Government? Under the Bill 1½ million British subjects have been reduced to the status of a subject people in a colony. [Interruption.] I hear cries from hon. Members opposite. Ulster has been deprived of its representative—its 52 M.P.s and its Senators in Stormont. Obviously, that is a blow for democracy, and I would have thought that hon. Members on the Opposition side who shout so much about foreign countries might at least speak for the survival of demorcracy in Northern Ireland. Ulster has been deprived of its Parliament and in its place has been given what is described in the Bill as a "chief executive officer" who will appoint his own advisory body. We have been reduced to a colony in spite of what hon. Members might say.

I am not an opponent of direct rule—by no means. By that I mean I support the full integration of Northern Ireland within the rest of the United Kingdom. To me it is far better to have full direct rule—full in the democratic sense—than a sham Parliament at Stormont. Certainly it would be far better than the charade which would have existed if the Northern Ireland Prime Minister had agreed to the demands which were put to him by the Government after the discussions last Wednesday and Thursday.

Only last Wednesday in an article in the Belfast Telegraph I set out at length my views about direct rule. I have been criticised by Unionists for holding these views, but I hold them firmly, and I am of the conviction that the best future for Northern Ireland is to be fully integrated within the United Kingdom. I do not believe that a local Stormont Parliament can preserve the union as strongly as if we were fully within the United Kingdom. Then there would be one people with one Parliament.

I know my colleagues in the Ulster Unionist Group hold their views sincerely and do not agree with me about full integration. The Ulster Unionist Council has instructed the Ulster Members to demand the restoration of Stormont. If I thought that Stormont could be restored with all its former powers unimpaired I would do so; but the Parliament, which Lord Carson was forced to accept and which he never wanted, is not the weakened Stormont which is now being prorogued by the Government Therefore, I cannot in all conscience work other than for full integration of Ulster within the United Kingdom where all the people in Northern Ireland, irrespective of their religion and their politics, would be seen to enjoy the same rights and bear the same responsibilities as other citizens of the United Kingdom.

This Measure is not proposing democratic direct rule. It is not treating Northern Ireland like any other part of the United Kingdom, and it is not what the peaceful majority would want. The Bill may talk about Stormont being prorogued for a year, but for the man in the street in Ulster it means that his democratically elected Parliament has been taken away from him at a stroke. That is something we must deplore.

This is not the first, but it is the greatest, victory for the Irish Republican Army. Rightly or wrongly, that is how the average working man in Northern Ireland sees it. How, therefore, can we blame the Ulster people for regarding the Bill as a betrayal or for demonstrating against it as they have done today and yesterday in Belfast?

Mr. McNamara

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that if he has the full integration that he wants the demonstration in Belfast yesterday and today would be illegal as a political strike under the Industrial Relations Act?

Mr. Kilfedder

I will not be led down that by-way, but I believe the majority of Unionists would have accepted full democratic direct rule.

All over the world where Britain has been kicked in the teeth by violence she has surrendered to the terrorists. Northern Ireland—despite all the repeated promises which apparently mean nothing—is no exception to the rule. This Government gives way to violent demands. Everyone seems to have won in his struggle except the law-abiding majority who for years have been patiently suffering frustration, facing death and enduring agony. Their return is this kick in the teeth.

The Government's decision has been construed by the Irish Republican Army—its spokesmen have admitted it—as a victory for its arms. The Bill shows conclusively that violence does pay. There is no other justification for the Bill except that the I.R.A. has been able to bring its power effectively to bear on this Government.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

It is well known that the key to the political situation under the previous Administration and the present Government has been to isolate the I.R.A. and the terrorists from the minority of the population. Is not the hon. Gentleman now aiding the creation of a legend that the I.R.A. leaders wish to create that they are responsible for the change of policy, when the truth is in the opposite direction? Should he not join those sober-minded members of the minority in denouncing that claim of the I.R.A. instead of giving it support?

Mr. Kilfedder

I am only going by the statements of the leaders of the Irish Republican Army. I bear in mind what the Leader of the Opposition said after meeting its representatives in Dublin only recently, that it is a well-organised, closely-knit body—in other words, that its members were the people who were responsible for the fighting and who would be responsible for bringing peace in the long run in Northern Ireland if pressure could be brought to bear on the United Kingdom Government.

Not only has the I.R.A. won. The Republicans have had their demands met—the suspension of Stormont, the creation of a Commission, the promised phasing out of internment, and the possibility of re-creating Stormont and the Stormont Government on sectarian lines. The Republicans hope that such a re-created, bogus Stormont will sell Ulster into a united Ireland. They do not wish to have Ulster incorporated into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)


Mr. Kilfedder

I will not give way. I am under strict orders to take as little time as possible.

What is there in it for the law-abiding majority? They get nothing out of the Bill, not even hope. They have the dire warning that 4,000 troops are waiting ready to fly to Ulster if needed to impose this sort of rule on Northern Ireland. Why were they not made available to fight the terrorist, the people responsible for the Abercorn disaster and all the other atrocities committed in Northern Ireland? I should like an assurance from the Minister that those 4,000 men will be brought to Northern Ireland straight away to put an end to these evil men of violence.

Why are we not having direct rule in Ireland? Is it because the Prime Minister is so obsessed with joining the Common Market that he does not want his legislative time table upset? Is the Common Market more important than 1½ million British subjects? I have heard a rumour that the Leader of the Opposition has given his full consent to this legislation and that to balance the eight Members of Parliament who could be voting against the Common Market legislation eight Labour Members will disappear without being paired.

Mr. Callaghan

If that is the basis on which the hon. Gentleman conducts his politics, it is no wonder Northern Ireland is in the mess it is in.

Mr. Kilfedder

It is my own fault for introducing the subject of the Common Market. The right hon. Gentleman should not criticise me in regard to politics, especially on the subject of the Common Market, in view of the turnabout of the Labour Party on it.

Nothing is more dangerous at this time of tension than for people to be denied a parliamentary outlet for their views. Frustration could drive them on to the streets and even to violence. I pray that that does not happen. Instead of reducing the democratic element at this time in Northern Ireland, the Government should be thinking of increasing representation so that the people's voice could be heard. The number of Members from Northern Ireland should be increased from 12 to 18 or 20. I asked for that some time ago, when the situation was not as grim as it is today. Fifty-two Members of the Stormont Parliament have been dismissed against the wishes of the people who democratically elected them.

I represent North Down, and I have 123,000 constituents. Is it in the true democratic tradition of this House that 123,000 people should have only one voice here? It is unfair. When Stormont existed, there was perhaps an excuse for it, but it no longer exists. I think the electoral quota in England is about 60,000 and in Scotland about 50,000. Yet I represent 123,000 people, and my work, because of the troubles, is easily double that of any other hon. Member.

The Prime Minister announced a plebiscite in his statement on Friday. That plebiscite presumably, like the Bill, is intended to reduce tension in the community in Northern Ireland. But I believe it is more likely to keep the temperature at boiling point. A plebiscite will concentrate attention on the existence of the Border and the possibility of its being removed by political or other means. A plebiscite every few years will mean that no political party can afford to ignore that possibility. Every year every party at its conference will have to speak about it and demand that its supporters rally the votes. I believe that it will divide the people even further. I do not believe it will be a contribution to the betterment of community relations.

I and all my Unionist colleagues from Northern Ireland want peace in Northern Ireland. We want everyone to enjoy peace and prosperity, but I do not believe the Bill will bring that peace, and that is something which I deeply regret.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)

I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) into a debate on the Common Market or his claim that he works doubly hard as any other hon. Member. I comment on his question at the beginning of his speech: why cannot half a million Catholics in Northern Ireland live as happily as Irish Catholics live in the rest of the United Kingdom? Obviously the hon. Member knows far more than I could ever dream of obtaining knowledge about on the position of Catholics in Northern Ireland, but he must also know of the absence of discrimination in the rest of the United Kingdom. No one in South Wales dreams of asking a person what his religion is when he applies for a job, seeks a house or does any of the hundred and one things which make up the quality of life in the rest of the United Kingdom.

The hon. Member said that Ulster is being deprived of its elected representatives. Of course in part of the Bill there is a change in the manner of representation and of the rôle of Stormont, but to suggest that Northern Ireland is being reduced to the status of a colony is a piece of blatant nonsense. The hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) suggested that there was something amounting to repugnance in the idea that Members of this House should deal with local government in Northern Ireland, yet hon. Members on the Government side have never felt it repugnant to vote on a Bill dealing with our local government. The Steel Bill did not in any way affect Northern Ireland, yet Ulster Unionists went into the Lobby time after time in Divisions on that Bill and when the Labour Government had a majority of three—indeed, on one occasion of only two.

I join most sincerely in wishing well to the Secretary of State-designate for Northern Ireland. His is a task of difficulty, not without danger and a task in which there is no easy solution to this problem. Regrettably, not for the first time in the history of this House, we have to tackle the Irish question. With all my heart I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be blessed with a measure of success greater than that enjoyed by his predecessors. I hope that there will be not only a closer association between the North and the South, but between the whole of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

While we accept the inevitable need for this legislation today, I think it would be wrong not to criticise the Government for the time which has been lost and the difficulties they have created for themselves. There have been delays week after week and newspapers have referred to initiative after initiative while we had to wait. I understand a little of the difficulties which there may have been in the Cabinet, and also of course the difficulties in negotiating with the Cabinet of Northern Ireland, but the result has been greater delay before the Government announced their initiative. The greater the delay in announcing an initiative the more alarmed would Protestants become week after week.

It is noticeable that the Vanguard campaign has grown and gathered strength contemporaneously with the period of talk and suggestions of some new initiative forthcoming from the Government. However much we accept the inevitability of that, it is apparent to many of us that this has made the task of the Secretary of State-designate doubly, trebly, difficult with the long delays waiting for the legislation which has now been brought before the House. We should also ask why this new initiative was necessary. In my view it has sprung from the policy of internment announced last year. Since that time we have seen a steady breakdown of the acceptance of control in the whole of Northern Ireland. I fully understand the need to preserve law and order and the need at times for desperate measures to that end, because when statesmen have to save countries from themselves they cannot—any more than a surgeon can—do so by pussy-footing.

While I understand the reasons for the policy of internment, having done it at all, I cannot exonerate the Government from blame. This is why we are debating this issue today. The result has been a breakdown of policy and administration and the blunder which undoubtedly this policy has turned out to be. Now we are faced with the problem of whether the new policy will work and, if it does not, of what happens then. Undoubtedly the Secretary of State-designate will have a number of pressures which will make his task exceedingly difficult. The I.R.A.on the one hand can have no commitment to the policy giving it any hope about the Border and the Ulster Unionists will make life as difficult as possible. There may be some element of an Ulster nationalism which in itself will object to involvement and further intervention by this House.

When I visited Northern Ireland for a short time recently the difficulty of the control of security was immediately apparent to me. There was a meeting each Wednesday of the Chief of Staff, General Tuzo, on the one hand and the Chief Constable. On the following Thursday their Home Secretary joined the committee, which was presided over by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland with two of his Ministers, the British representatives, the Chief Constable and General Tuzo. It was heavily dominated by the Northern Irish members. There were protestations from the Treasury Bench that the Army was responsible only to Westminster, but justice should not only be done but should be seen to be done. It was manifest to anyone who saw what was happening in practice that there was a reporting to the Northern Ireland Prime Minister and his colleagues in government that the Army, which had gone there initially to ensure protection for the Catholics and in turn for the Protestants, could not be seen to be acting independently. That has been part of the cause of the breakdown of the system and the transfer of responsibility in Northern Ireland to United Kingdom control.

Has anyone thought of the tremendous imposition which the presence of a great part of our forces in Germany has on the rest of our forces? The 10,000 and more troops going as infantry to Northern Ireland is far greater than the remainder of infantry troops as such in the whole of B.A.O.R. Of course there are other troops, but that is the comparison of troops in Germany as infantry and those now used as infantry in Northern Ireland. Can we afford this? If so, for how long can we afford it and what are the views of our N.A.T.O. partners about it? Last year from the Opposition Front Bench we challenged the Government about whether the four months period which the forces serve in Northern Ireland should not be longer and whether it was right to bring out units time after time and put in new ones substantially ignorant of the problems which they have to tackle.

After examination of the problem and of views in Northern Ireland where I visited the troops, I accept that this is right and that four months is the maximum that troops should undertake on regular duty for 18 hours or more a day. But what will be the effect on the morale of the British Army when units have been there on two, three or four occasions indefinitely, as it were, to carry out the same task?

Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)

Surely this reinforces the argument which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) was making, that with this political package there should be some greater security measures which gave to the police a more meaningful rô1e and which again handed over to locally-recruited security forces such as the U.D.R. a more effective rôle?

Mr. Morris

I would be the first to agree that the main failure of the policies so far has been to contain and reduce terrorism. The longest period our forces can be allowed to remain there, with strenuous duties lasting for up to 18 hours a day, in difficult circumstances and indifferent accommodation is four months.

What will be the effect on the morale of the British Army when units return to Northern Ireland three or four times to carry out such duties? There must be a great risk of a breakdown in morale. We all reject the terrorism which we see nightly on our television screens. When the casualties come home in large numbers I hope that those carrying out acts of violence will give a thought to British families here. The presence of British troops in Northern Ireland should not be taken for granted for all time. If units are to return time after time we must not ignore public feeling in the rest of this country.

If this policy fails, will the next stage be complete integration? While many of us go along with the present policy I would reject wholeheartedly any policy of complete integration. The Irish problem would be with us every day; the House would be dominated by that problem in our time as it has been in our predecessors' time. No one on this side of the water can solve the Irish problem. It will have to be solved within Ireland. Complete integration would be putting the clock back more than 100 years. It goes completely against the grain of participation and democracy, and if we find ourselves in Europe the greater will be the need of proper organs to ensure that democracy can flourish within every part of the United Kingdom.

I hope we can go on to devise new and better means to meet the aspirations of people in every part of the United Kingdom and I hope that never again will we let 50 years go by in any part of this kingdom in sweeping the dust of human misery under the carpet. Isupport this Measure and I wish well to the Secretary of State. I know what is being done: we are buying time. I hope that no one will expect that many of us who agree with this will of necessity support any measure for the complete integration of Northern Ireland with the rest of the United Kingdom.

6.13 p.m.

Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)

The logic of this debate requires me to follow perhaps not the emollient speech of the right hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris) so much as the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) who is not in his place, but we can make no complaint of that because he is a most conscientious attender of any debate in which he takes part. I must reply to him although he cannot be present. With his usual clarity and a good deal of cogency my right hon. Friend explained why he would not be able to support the Bill. I accept the point he made about the dangers of a consensus.

There is no doubt that these are occasions on which the critical faculties are apt to be blinded by a wish to give my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council all possible aid and comfort. I hope my right hon. Friend will accept that he does not have a monopoly of critical faculties on these back benches. I go along with some part of the analysis he made although I reject his conclusion. What I doubt and what should be seriously questioned is whether he is right in wholly attributing this situation to the success of violence, to the fear and intimidation which the gunmen have managed to inspire, powerful though that element has been. There is at least an element of consent which assists the gunmen and which has at least as much value as the fear and intimidation of which my right hon. Friend spoke. Can any régime—and I think of other régimes as well as the I.R.A. régime in Northern Ireland—indefinitely sustain an oppression unless it has the will and the consent of at least a substantial minority? I beg leave to doubt that and I shall show why I believe my right hon. Friend's conclusions were in an important respect incomplete.

Mr. Wilkinson

Would my right hon. Friend like to correct the word "oppression"? The Government of Northern Ireland and this Government together were not oppressing anyone; they were seeking to make sure that the rule of law was maintained throughout the United Kingdom. There is a big difference.

Mr. Deedes

My hon. Friend has misunderstood me. I was referring to the power of the gunmen, not to any constitutional régime in any part of Ireland.

It seems that we have suffered a defeat in Northern Ireland. I do not think that we give the Lord President, who has the personal good wishes of us all, a fair start unless we are willing to face up to this. Whatever we are saying now, direct rule has been declared—not only by this Government—to be a last resort, something which if possible we should avoid. We do not have direct rule; we have Government by decree and that was something we have sought to avoid.

Mr. Faulkner, to judge from his forgivably bitter words, feels that he is the victim of this defeat. I feel that his downfall, whether temporary or permanent, to a degree involves us as well. That must be so because since these troubles began in 1969 we have sought, and the party opposite has sought when in office, to work in harness with the régime under three Prime Ministers. Now we have dissolved that partnership and Mr. Faulkner is entitled to ask, "Where have I failed in doing my share?". He is entitled to feel that he is the victim, not so much of his own failure but to a degree of force to which as yet we have found no adequate answer.

There is no sense in pretending that supporting this Bill and the Lord President with all our hearts, as we do, does not put some of us into difficulty. Some of us have been saying in this country and Northern Ireland that we are not willing to see a constitutionally elected régime, whatever its faults, put down by violence. I have said that repeatedly to my constituents and at meetings in Northern Ireland, not only because it is a bad thing in itself but because it has implications far beyond Northern Ireland. We cannot declare that and then, after Friday pretend that nothing of importance has happened, nothing has gone wrong. It is no good trying to dress that up.

Before we take the next crucial step we have scrupulously to examine the arguments we have now to deploy. It can be argued, Ministers have argued, that the agony had gone on long enough. That is a persuasive argument in one sense. It is not us, our wives or our children who have been suffering. It is not they who have been maimed in the shopping centres of Belfast. The weakness of that argument is obvious enough. We cannot doubt that those who plan such outrages know what the effect of blowing up women and children will be on us. The lessons will not be lost.

Again it could be argued that as things were moving towards a confrontation we were faced with some kind of civil war. The Protestants, their patience exhausted—and small blame for that—were preparing to give battle. There are dangers in that argument also. Can it be doubted that the intention of the I.R.A. all through has been to provoke such strife, to force such a reaction, to force such a backlash and so drive us either out or into action?

Then there is the third and final argument. This takes us to the heart: of the matter, both for Northern Ireland and for this House now. It is to say that come what may, our declared purpose remains that the will of the majority in Northern Ireland shall prevail. That has not only been restated; it has been reinforced. We know what that will is, what it has been since 1920 and years before that, and what it is likely to remain. It is to stay with the United Kingdom. We have given our word on that. We have given it fresh emphasis in Friday's announcement. We have endorsed the Downing Street Declaration of 1969.

A Government willing to declare that—and here I differ from my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—and to hold to it cannot really be accused of surrendering to violence, of violating their word or of betraying their friends. Equally, it is not an undertaking from which a Government could retreat or on which they could even equivocate and survive. For that is the crux, and both sides know it to be the crux and would agree on it. Fundamentally this crisis has never seemed to me to be about Stormont or the British Army in Northern Ireland, or even internment. It is about the Irish dream and the Irish ideal of a united Ireland, which is carried far outside the Republic itself. Let none doubt the force and power behind that idea, not only in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

We have chosen to declare where we have been standing all along, though whether

we have realised it or not I have sometimes doubted. The question is whether we can hold to that undertaking. That is not a rhetorical question. We shall be tested here. The answer cannot come from only one side of the House. A serious responsibility—as the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) recognises—rests on right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Therein lays the importance, and I enormously welcome it, of the proposal which the right hon. Gentleman made in his speech, that the declaratory undertaking on the Border should be incorporated in the Bill now under discussion. I regard that as an important move and one which, even if it is unnecessary, should be included none the less. The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about that. He told us he was speaking with the authority of the Leader of the Opposition.

That attitude, shared by both sides of the House, could crucially alter the course of events in the next year. At least it would have one immediate consequence: it would help to check the haemorrhage of confidence now visible in Northern Ireland. If we were to give any hint at this stage that the Border is not a matter to be decided by the wishes of the majority, but subject to some other formula to be considered by a future Labour Government, the pressures brought to bear upon us, which are going to be heavier than we now realise, would greatly intensify. We should be on a slippery slope.

That is why I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said. He would admit none the less—and nobody knows it better than he—that his view in the matter is not shared by all right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite and on this side of the House. The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) spoke on this matter in an earlier debate. I know he holds other views. I noted during his visit to Dublin a fortnight ago that the Leader of the Opposition was reported as saying that talks could not sensibly exclude the subject of the Border. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] We must be clear about the meaning of words if we are to include our declaration in the Bill now under consideration.

Mr. Onne rose

Mr. Deedes

That illustrates the importance of incorporating some words in the Bill.

Given one mind in Parliament on this crucial issue—I speak broadly, that it is the right of the majority in Northern Ireland to determine this issue and nobody else—we have a chance to hold things together. To take the Border question out of our politics here would not diminish the forces which will now be brought fairly heavily to bear upon us. It would give us the best chance to resist them, which we now unfailingly must.

Mr. Orme

Has the hon. Gentleman finished or is he giving way?

Mr. Deedes

I have finished.

6.25 p.m.

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)

I had intended to open my remarks by saying that I would give unequivocal support to the Bill, but after listening to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) I am beginning to have doubts. Over the past number of months we have heard repeatedly from both the Home Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition that if and when talks began every item could be placed on the agenda, including that of a united Ireland. This afternoon, however, we heard the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) pleading that a safeguard should be written into the Bill, to be supported by the Government, which would exclude any steps being taken on the question of the reunification of Ireland, no matter how far it may be into the future. The right hon. Gentleman, a former Home Secretary, did not say that he wanted the 1949 guarantee written into the Bill. Therefore, that would seem effectively to exclude any discussion of the question of a united Ireland.

We should be realistic and recognise that we are always going to have the Irish problem with us until the day when Ireland is reunited. No one can say when that will be, whether it will be five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years hence. Some day it will happen. Some day it must come. No one can say when or how it will be brought about. We are now to start placing obstacles in the way of the achievement of that ideal, as has been admitted by the righthon. Member for Ashford. He has spoken of the ideal which exists not only in Northern and Southern Ireland but amongst Irish supporters throughout the world. Therefore, if we are to take steps now effectively to preclude the achievement of that ideal at any time in the future, we are only stir- ring up trouble for ourselves in the years to come.

Since I first came into this House some years ago, I believe that on each occasion when I have taken part in a vote I have voted against the Conservative Government. Indeed, I do not think that I have ever had a kind word to say about them. On this occasion, however, I say to the Government that I fully support and congratulate them on the step they have taken. I think they have proved to be very courageous and I sometimes wonder whether any other Government would have shown such courage in such circumstances.

I support the Bill for many reasons. The first is because I believe and fervently hope that it will somehow bring an end to the terrible violence that we have had in Northern Ireland over the past three or four years. I have reason to believe, living there as I do and representing a minority point of view, that there can be—I hope fervently that I am not proved wrong—a cessation of the violence. That is my primary reason for supporting the Bill. Secondly, I support the Bill because I never believed that I would stand up in this House and see a Government, particularly a Right-wing Conservative Government, bringing in legislation which would lead to the end of the disastrous experiment of Stormont, a disaster since it was created 50 years ago.

In supporting the Government and accepting this legislation, I want to make my position clear. I do not regard the Bill as a victory for the Roman Catholics over the Protestants or as a victory of the minority over the majority community in Northern Ireland. I believe that the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland are confused and bewildered and that many indeed feel betrayed. But I want on this occasion to extend the hand of friendship to them, politically opposed to me as they may be, and to assure them that I will take no step in my political life which in any way could be interpreted as my being an enemy of the Protestant majority. At this time Irecognise the deep fears and suspicions which exist within the Protestant community. They have been deluded and exploited for so long. They were somehow made to believe that the only way in which their civil rights and way of life could be guaranteed was to deny them to the minority community in Northern Ireland. That has been the tragedy, and many of them feel that they have now lost the superiority which they had.

Yesterday I went to Unity Flats because I felt that there might be trouble when many people were returning home from the Vanguard rally at the City Hall. I saw poor, deluded Protestant people who had been at the rally castigating and using foul language to the paratroopers guarding the flats, shouting filthy abuse. In the next breath they stood to attention and sang "God Save the Queen". That is an indication of what is happening to the Protestant community. That is why it is imperative at this time that no one, particularly those representing the minority community, should attempt to claim the Bill as a victory.

It is certainly a victory over the Unionist Party; it is a victory to see Stormont abolished. I put my cards on the table. I do not want to see Stormont ever brought into existence again. I was a Member of Stormont and I tried desperately, year after year, to make Stormont work and to co-operate with the Government of Northern Ireland. I stood up to put forward the hopes, ideals and aspirations of my constituents, desperately hoping that I would be listened to by the Northern Ireland Government, but after years of frustration and disappointment the Opposition Members of Stormont were finally forced to withdraw.

After all that has happened in Northern Ireland, Stormont could never, no matter how often the Unionists claimed that it did, hope to represent the two communities in Northern Ireland, because in the minds of the Unionist Party there had to be a superior community and there had to be an inferior class. This is what has lead to such death and destruction.

At present in Belfast a great deal of intimidation is taking place in industrial undertakings. I can mention them—Gallaher's tobacco factory, in my constituency, I.C.I., the Belfast shipyard, Courtaulds and Standard Telephones. Yesterday we were told that thousands of workers had left their work to support the aims and objectives of the Vanguard movement. I think I will have the support even of many hon. Members oppo- site who represent Unionist constituencies in Northern Ireland when I say that not all the people involved yesterday were Vanguard supporters. For example, many Roman Catholics wanted to stay at work but were forced out in no uncertain manner. There are many people in Northern Ireland who are members of the Unionist Party but wo do not believe in the U.D.I, ideal of Craig and his movement. Yet they, too, were forced out of their employment.

The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) sometimes exasperates me in this House by his Right-wing views and his all-consuming concern for Measures such as the Bill dealing with vasectomy which we discussed last Friday. He proclaims himself to be a Roman Catholic and an understanding Roman Catholic. Yesterday afternoon in a major industrial establishment in Northern Ireland a bill was circulated. I have a photocopy of it. It shows a revolver being pointed and it says: Any Roman Catholic who doesn't do what he's told must be threatened first—and then shot. To me, that is blatant intimidation. It must be opposed not only by the spokesmen of the Roman Catholic Church but by everyone who believes in social justice. Intimidation is why so many people were absent from work in Belfast yesterday and what so many attended the Vanguard march and rally.

Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that the bill to which he has referred is an example of the I.R.A.?

Mr. Fitt

Wherever it comes from, it is an example of intimidation.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

My opposition to this Bill is because it has produced and will produce, I fear, the sort of extreme reaction on both sides which I deplore as much as the hon. Gentleman deplores.

Mr. Fitt

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention.

Throughout the past two or three years there has been a great deal of violence in Northern Ireland. As an individual and as a public representative, I have been horrified by the terrible tragedies I have witnessed and read about. It was easy for hon. Members on the Government side, particularly those representing the Unionist Party point of view, to attack the violence because it was not coming from within their own community. I think it was far more courageous that we Opposition representatives—representing the community from which the violence was emanating—stood up and condemned violence.

We have stated many times, and I say it again today, that no political achievements will ever be gained by the perpetuation of violence. I believe that the Bill has been brought before the House not by the activities of the I.R.A. but because now, at long last, there is a deep realisation that Stormont itself could not possibly govern Northern Ireland any longer without the consent of 40 per cent, of the community.

Outside this immediate legislation, the new Secretary of State will have to go into some detail about the responsibilities he has accepted. I assure him that his will be an onerous task. He will certainly have my full support, with qualifications which I want to bring to his attention later. The Bill became necessary because of the intransigent attitude of the Unionists towards security. I have said repeatedly in this House that in the Unionist mind security meant the security of the Unionist Party. It did not mean the security of the State. It meant the security of a Unionist State. That is why the Unionist Party could never agree to these powers being taken away by the British Government.

In Northern Ireland we have a Ministry of Home Affairs which had control of security and which will now come under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State. Many of the civil servants employed in that Ministry have given loyal service to the Unionist Party and many of them got their jobs because they were members of the Unionist Party. Consequently their whole mental approach is oriented to serving the interests of the Unionist Party. I can understand it from their point of view. They were members of the majority party, the Unionist Party; that was why they got their jobs, and no one could expect anything less than loyalty from persons in that position.

Mr. Stratton Mills (Belfast, North)

The hon. Gentleman's allegations against civil servants to whom my right hon. Friend has paid a high tribute, and who are operating on Civil Service Commission lines, are quite unfair. I hope he will remember now that we are moving into a new era that that sort of blanket allegation is not worthy of the traditions of this House.

Mr. Fitt

I did not say that every civil servant in Northern Ireland or in the Ministry of Home Affairs was in that position. There are names I could mention but I have deliberately refrained from doing so. The minority community is aware of the names and the addresses of civil servants within the Ministry of Home Affairs whom it believes to have been instrumental in bringing about the more oppressive and repressive policies of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mr. Whitelaw

Perhaps I may make something perfectly clear. I expect, and I know I shall receive, the loyalty of the Northern Ireland civil servants which they have promised me. That I know. I shall be responsible for all the advice I tender to the Cabinet and all the advice for which I am answerable to this House. I alone must do that. Therefore, I shall have to take all the advice I receive and I shall receive is impartially, but Ishall have to make up my own mind in the end and that I shall do.

Mr. Fitt

If the Secretary of State makes up his own mind, I have little to argue about. I am warning him to be careful from whom he accepts advice in Northern Ireland.

I do not believe that any Government in this country can accept and operate the Special Powers Act for Northern Ireland. This country has had to answer for the operation of that Act before the conscience of the world and has been condemned for doing so. As an elected representative with many constituents incarcerated in prison and interned because of the Act, I can in no way agree with the Government in accepting those powers and implementing them from this House. The sooner the Government recognise that that Act of Northern Ireland should be taken off the Statute Book, or not placed on the Statute Book by this House, the better it will be for peace and progress in Northern Ireland. The Attorney-General will assume responsibility for the police, the Northern Ireland courts and many other aspects of civil law. There is an Act of Parliament on the Statute Book on which the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and I spent many hours in Stormont, I supporting it and he opposing it—namely, the Incitement to Hatred Act. There has under that Act been one prosecution which failed. The Bill I have just mentioned, which is deliberately aimed at intimidating Roman Catholics, would certainly come within the ambit of that Act and a prosecution could be initiated against those who are responsible for its publication. The hon. and gallant Member for Down, South (Captain Orr) will know that the bills are to be seen on the walls of Belfast. It should not be too difficult for the Northern Ireland police to find out and tell the Secretary of State who is responsible for the publication of these bills.

The Attorney-General is to assume responsibility for the operation of the courts. We have had the Parker Report on the interrogation, brutality and assault exercised by the security forces against persons in Northern Ireland. Has the Leader of the House looked at the minority report of Lord Gardiner in which he almost suggests that those who were subjected to that type of treatment from the security forces, whether the police or the military, now have a case for taking civil action against those responsible? I urge the Leader of the House to look at this matter with as much urgency as possible.

Mr. McMaster

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will try to keep a balance. He will be aware that 50 or 60 ordinary residents have been found with hoods over their heads and shot in the back of the neck, and others with their legs shot away, and the I.R.A. has boasted that it was responsible for those vicious acts.

Mr. Fitt

I have never given my support to that type of activity. The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) should be careful before he points a finger at the I.R.A. as being responsible for every atrocity and every type of killing. Recently in Belfast—I know the persons involved, not in my community but of the Unionist Party—men were shot in the same way and were certainly not victims of the I.R.A. Many people could be responsible. If the hon. Gentleman would like to know the names and addresses of the persons to whom I am referring I will tell him in the corridor. I do not want to mention them within the House.

I ask Members of Parliament representing Unionist constituencies whether they will co-operate with the Government in attempting to bring about a change in Northern Ireland. The obstacle of internment is a serious one but it is not insurmountable. I and my party and other elected Opposition leaders have called to the men of violence to desist from further action. This call should be supplemented by the wholehearted approval of the Roman Catholic population. There will then be a cessation of violence and the internees can be released.

A great responsibility falls on the Official and Provisional I.R.A. It is they who will largely determine how long the internees remain incarcerated in Long Kesh, Magilligan and Crumlin Road. I want my constituents to be released from prison. I am sure the wives and families of those who are interned bitterly resent the continuation of violence which means that people continue to be kept in prison. This is a responsibility that the Provisional I.R.A. must accept. If the I.R.A. attempts to carry on its campaign of violence it will not have the support of the Catholic minority and it will certainly not have my support. It never has and it never will. The question of internment is a difficult one which I hope we shall resolve.

The Leader of the House must recognise how deeply conscious we are of involving ourselves in the earliest possible attempt to bring about change in Northern Ireland. I ask Members of the Unionist Party whether they will co-operate in trying to bring about the changes which are so necessary. From what I hear at home no less a person than Mr. Brian Faulkner said that he would like to see who crawls out from the stones of Westminster. This is tantamount to giving a direction to members of the Unionist majority population not to co-operate with the new Secretary of State. If we are to have a new state of affairs in Northern Ireland, if we are to end the violence, if we are ever to have any hope of bringing about the changes which are so needed in that tragic society, we shall need co-operation from the Unionists and the Nationalists, the Catholics and the Protestants.

As I said a few days ago when the Prime Minister announced his proposals at the Dispatch Box, I hope we can soon eliminate from the political vocabulary in Northern Ireland the words "majority" and "minority" and act fully in concert for all the people of Northern Ireland.

6.51 p.m.

Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Heston and Isleworth)

I support the Bill and the related Government proposals and am, I hope, bringing a more constructive series of remarks to this debate than have some of the preceding speakers by giving four particular reasons why I support the action which the Government are proposing.

First of all, I support it because it strengthens or underlines the constitutional link between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. I well understand the Protestant fears about the Border question, but I believe that this series of proposals, in fact, adds to the legal safeguards that exist in that, in addition to the requirement of the 1949 Act that there has to be a decision by the Northern Ireland Parliament, we now have the provision for a plebiscite, which means there has to be decision of the people.

Therefore, I urge upon the Leader of the House, as regards the exchange that took place earlier when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) was speaking about the need for the declaratory provision to be included in this existing Act, that he takes this action whether or not the lawyers advise him it is necessary, because even if the lawyers say it is unnecessary I say to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland designate that, in fact, it is necessary for political reasons now. The mere fact that the question has been raised in this House, the mere fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East has read out what was going to be the paragraph in another draft Bill, makes it essential now that this provision, even if it be redundant on a very pedantic view of the law, is included in the legislation. This is immensely important, and if it is not included there will have to be a very good explanation indeed, because I am perfectly certain that in Northern Ireland a great deal will be made of the fact that no such provision is included in the Bill.

Mr. McNamara

Will the hon. Gentleman not accept that if this type of provision is put into the Bill it will have the opposite effect on other people and might well give people with an evil intent a hook upon which to hang their hat and an opportunity to cause considerable trouble; that the Government have, in fact, made the point very strongly in the statements made by the Lord President of the Council, the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General? Would he not accept that the fact that a provision for a plebiscite has been introduced means that many people would be content to leave this as it is and not pursue the most unfortunate hare that has been started?

Mr. Hayhoe

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I think his comment was more in the nature of a mini-speech than an intervention to me. I believe anyway that on this question of the Border the links are stronger in reality than the legal and constitutional position arising from the 1949 Act or this legislation though I still think it important that an amendment should be made to this Bill that we are now considering.

In reality, however, clearly there can be no question of any change taking place without a substantial majority in the North being in favour of such change. We hear a lot about the North having been sold down the river. I would like to know where the buyer is, because the buyer certainly is not the Dublin Government. They would not take aboard half a million Protestants determined not to go into a united Ireland.

At the moment we have an army of over 14,000 and a substantial police force in the North trying to cope with the grim and violent activities stemming from a host population of the minority of something under half a million. Who on earth in their right minds hoping to be leading figures in the Government of a possible united Ireland would have within their midst such an enormous element of disruptive people? If a united Ireland is to come it will come by consent and at a time when Protestants and Catholics have learnt to live and work harmoniously together. I hope and believe that this Bill will help to make that possibility slightly more likely. But certainly selling down the river or coercing the North into the South is the stuff of mob oratory for meetings in great squares in cities in Northern Ireland; it is not the stuff of reality because in real terms these changes can take place only by consent. But because we understand that these fears exist, let us underline that fact in every possible way in everything that emerges from this House.

I also support the Bill because I believe it will help the fight against the I.R.A. I agree very much with the leader in the Belfast Telegraph of last Friday that: The fact is that the experiment of trying to direct the anti-terrorist campaign through Stormont and Westminster has been tried, and has failed. It failed, partly because Stormont had lost the confidence of a section of the community. A fresh start had to be made, and only Westminster could make it, unencumbered by traditional mistrust. I accept that analysis, and I believe that the I.R.A. attack has always been much more than a merely military and physical attack; it has been a political attack as well. We know that the I.R.A. movement has its political wing, the Sinn Fein. Indeed, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition talked with the political wing when he was in Dublin recently. Surely what has been happening in the past 18 months or so in the North is that as regards their political objectives—their propaganda, their attempt to alienate the Catholic minority from the British Army, and the like—the I.R.A. has been quite successful. Now there is greater alienation and polarisation, not as a result of people standing with a gun behind the Catholic doctor or lawyer, or man working in a machine shop, or person working on a farm, but because the propaganda and the politics of the I.R.A. have been so successful. It is for this reason also that I support the Bill, because I think it will make it more likely that we shall be able to fight against the I.R.A. in both the military and the political sense. There is no point in doing one without the other.

I support the Bill also because I hope it will give Dublin and the present Prime Minister, Mr. Lynch, and his colleagues a push in the right direction, since they, too, now have less reason for not taking action against the I.R.A. I do not know His Excellency the Irish Ambassador who I am told has been sent back to this country, but I would much prefer that some of the I.R.A. leaders in Dublin were sent to jail, and perhaps the Ambassador could come along on another occasion. What is important is that Dublin must do something to help defeat the I.R.A., which is attacking the Dublin Government and the whole structure and system of government in the South just as much as it is attacking the institutions of government in the North.

I also support the Government because this Bill and the Government's actions will give moderates, and moderation, a chance. In speaking of moderates I am thinking of the Alliance Party which, though weak in numbers, in my experience—and I have talked to its leaders on a number of occasions—talks a great deal of good sense. I should like to see in the trade union sphere the moderates getting some support. One has only to meet Billie Bleese and Willie Hull to know who is deserving of support. Therefore, I hope that through the medium of this Bill the Bleeses of Northern Ireland will be supported. I hope that trade unionists here will realise what is being done by some of their fellow trade unionists in Harland and Wolff and elsewhere. Perhaps general secretaries will get over there and do something with their own members.

I hope the Bill will provide opportunities for moderate Catholics, and I hope that they will take those opportunities.

If we look back at the record, we can point to incidents and times during the last 2½ years when moderate Catholic leadership should have been exerted in the North. I hope equally that moderate Protestants will not be bullied or frightened into inactivity. Surely the trouble in Northern Ireland is not between Protestants and Catholics nor between loyalists and republicans. The real struggle is between the moderates and the extremists. The message that goes out from this House today is that this Bill can give moderation a chance. My hope and prayer is that this chance will be used—for another similar opportunity may never occur again.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Richard Crossman (Coventry, East)

I wish that the Leader of the House, who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, had not had to go away so soon after delivering his speech, because he missed the first thoughtful and intelligent bit of support from somebody on his own side of the House. This has been a strange debate, a debate in which I feel I ought to restrain myself from giving warm welcome and support for fear of embarrassing the Government. To be supported by people like us in action of this kind must make it difficult not to deepen suspicions on the Government back benches. Therefore, I shall try to say one or two things which will separate me from my hero on the other side of the House to whom I wish well in Northern Ireland.

I thought that the Leader of the House made one mistake in his speech. He said that direct rule is a last resort; that one can do this only at the last moment. Half the trouble is that this myth has grown up on both sides of the House. As we can now see, direct rule was the precondition of any political initiative. Why was it that week after week we heard and read rumours about a political initiative which was being worked up in Downing Street and which was being submitted for the attention of back benchers? We knew that a political initiative without direct rule meant nothing.

One has to be blunt and say that the function of the British Army has changed since we sent it to Northern Ireland. We became an occupying Army backed by the majority of the country because we were thought to be holding down the minority. Because we were in that position, we could not have a political initiative which would win back the support of the minority whom we had gone there to defend.

It is important to point out these considerations on the Bill because, if we do not understand all this, we shall not understand the need for speed. We have won direct rule for a year, and I shall say later in my speech why I feel it essential that it should be only a year. We have a year in which to do the impossible. We shall not do it unless we take far greater risks than some hon. Members on the Government side seem to imagine. I thought the speech of the hon. Member for Heston and Isle worth (Mr. Hayhoe) was worthy but unaware of the kind of risks and political initiatives we shall have to take, whatever may have been said in the past.

I want to say nothing which will embarrass the Government in terms of their giving way to terrorists. I heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and I relished it a great deal. His fury with his right hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench showed that they had espoused the policies which we had pressed upon them, policies which the right hon. Gentleman thought were high treason. They bounded out of their war against terrorism into saying that they must take a political initiative. The anger of the right hon. Gentleman was a great relief to me. It made me think that he realises, as I do, that his Government have escaped from his clutches and are now fast in our embrace. That is a great improvement.

It is a waste of time to discuss exactly how much influence the I.R.A. had on the decision, and it is a little undiplomatic too. I was unwise last time I spoke on this subject in the House to warn the Government not to say that they would never give way to force. They did not seem to know about the proclivities of British Governments in the past to make such declarations before they took such action. It looks as though history is repeating itself; those who make absurd declarations of that kind find themselves caught out.

Of course it is not true that the I.R.A. has achieved this entirely on its own. Of course there are other factors. One factor is public opinion at home. The Government had begun to understand the situation, having studied the Gallup poll in which 41 per cent. of the people said they wanted to get the troops out straight away. What those people were saying was, "You cannot go on telling us that occupation of Northern Ireland is a permanency". Good reasons were given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris) for saying that in terms of military strategy we cannot continue to have troops in Northern Ireland year after year. The fact that we have some 14,000 troops there makes us a laughing stock in the world. One cannot have a strategy without an army. These are ridiculous concepts. Therefore, there must be a withdrawal of the troops in the relatively near future.

The question is whether it will be an ignominious, infamous withdrawal, as occurred in Palestine where we crawled out, or whether it will be an honourable withdrawal, having strenuously struggled and taken great risks to achieve a settlement. Those are the only two alternatives: to get out with or without a settlement preceding our withdrawal. That is the hard fact, and direct rule is important only because it has won us time, time to seek to make a settlement.

The hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth said that we must write into the Bill yet another declaration which we should have to go back on. Is it really wise to do that?

Mr. Hayhoe

What I was doing in making that remark was seeking to underline what was said from the Opposition Front Bench by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan).

Mr. Crossman

It is not the first time I have had to tell the occupants of our Front Bench something. I am telling them something now. I told them the last time I spoke that declarations saying that the Border was inviolable brought an end to any political initiative. I agree that one can take an initiative and make a declaration and yet discuss the Border. That is called English diplomacy. That is why people do not trust us. This is exactly what we do. We say, "We shall never discuss the Border" and then we immediately start to discuss it in secret. When we are dealing with the Irish and people who are close friends of ours, it seems to me that it would be more sensible to stop these endless declarations about the Border.

One hon. Member mentioned plebiscites. The importance of the plebiscites is not the total vote in the North but the votes in the counties. I hope that they will be done properly so that we can see in the counties exactly where there is a Protestant majority and where there is a Catholic majority.

We cannot exclude a partial partition. We cannot exclude a united Ireland. We can exclude integration into this country. How a partition would come about we cannot foresee. If the Leader of the House goes on asserting that the majority will in Ulster must be absolute in every decision affecting the whole of Ireland, we are back to where we were and we are destroying the freedom for initiative that we have won by direct rule.

I place a good deal of emphasis upon the year for which this legislation is to run. There are many reasons why it cannot last more than a year. Here I make a comment which may disturb my hon. Friends. I agree with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West about direct rule. What is happening under direct rule is this. There is a two-tier system of constitutional democracy in Northern Ireland. They have their Parliament there and they send people to our Parliament. If we prorogue their Parliament, wind up their Cabinet, substitute one British Minister for all their Cabinet and say that he has total executive power, and if we do not debate any of their Bills on the Floor of this House but, instead, deal with them by Statutory Instruments with short debates afterwards, that is sheer colonial rule. The status of the new Secretary of State will be remarkably like that of a High Commissioner—

Mr. Wilkinson

Or Viceroy.

Mr. Crossman

Or Viceroy. The people whom he will have round him are a Legco—a legislative council. There are resemblances here. I can see why people in Ulster say that it is intolerable if that state of affairs should last more than a year. They are right. However, we cannot go back to Stormont. That facade has fallen down. We cannot put that one up again. We shall have to go forward.

Now I come to the point about integration into this country. I was interested to see that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West came out in favour of full integration into this country. However, full integration of a piece of Ireland into this country means that the activities of the terrorists are extended, because it goes on for ever. All that we have done is to make it more difficult. Therefore, more heroes will be found to throw bombs.

People say, rightly, that 1 million Protestants cannot be bombed into a united Ireland. But a British Army can be bombed out of Northern Ireland. That is a simple, unpleasant thought but it is true. The element of force which is used can make matters so intolerable that the British public will not stand for staying there. They will simply say, "Look, we have tried. These damned people will not get on with each other. We have tried everything under the sun. We pack it in."

The biggest weapon that we have to persuade the Irish to come to terms is the threat of our withdrawal. No other threat will impress them. The great danger will be that they do not believe it. One of the disasters of Palestine, a country about which I know a little, was the terrible wind-up there which was infinitely worse because no one believed that the British were withdrawing. Not believing it, they did not have to make peace. Suddenly they found themselves at war in our absence. The war went on and was disastrous.

If the Irish are left with the delusion that they can have the convenience of having us in Northern Ireland taking all the blame and all the kicks and paying for it for ever, they will never do anything to settle it. Southern Ireland sits pretty without any settlement. It is doing very well. It has every advantage in Britain although it is outside the Commonwealth. It has it both ways in every kind of way, and it does not want the burden of Northern Ireland.

The Northern Irish can go on being themselves in their very unattractive way as long as we let them. However, there is one threat. It is that we will not stay. I have said this to the House before. If it were known that we should be out at the end of the year, come what may, people would begin to think sensibly.

However, if they heard speeches from the Government benches saying that this does not mean a big change, that we are just as resolute and that we are not letting down our Stormont friends, they would not be encouraged to think sensibly. To get any sense, we have to betray the Stormont people. We have to be the enemy of both sides and even distrusted by both sides. Our Army has to have the threat from both sides. The only chance of influencing the situation is if each side knows that we are really independent of the other.

The great thing which direct rule has done is to make the Northern Irish Protestants really think that they have been betrayed. That is the healthiest thing to have happened. Unless they are betrayed, there is no chance of a settlement. Though I support what has happened, that is the one encouraging sign.

It has happened a year too late. The Prime Minister has been driven into it against his will. It is rather like Labour's devaluation, which came too late and at the worst possible time. Once again, this is a case where "Mr. Heath follows Mr. Wilson in the style". Having done it, I beg the Government to be bold, to hurry up and not to make too many pledges which they will have to break for the sake of peace and withdrawal.

7.16 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

I am sure that the whole House will welcome the return of the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) to this tangled and dangerous subject. Certainly judging by the acclaim with which the Bill has been greeted at Stormont today, in the right hon. Gentleman's terms it is already having some success.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe), I welcome the Bill. I do so for three main reasons. The first is that, as the right hon. Member for Coventry, East has just made clear, there is a year in which a proper political initiative can be taken and something like a settlement achieved. Everyone, whether living in the North, in the South or here, must realise that there is a term and that if that term is not reached we face the horrors of civil war and the breakdown of Government throughout the whole of the Emerald Isle. Those are the themes of which we should be thinking, and this Bill should concentrate some people's minds on them.

My second reason for welcoming the Bill is military in character. Here I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). The arguments between Her Majesty's Government and Stormont broke down on the precise point of who shall control the forces of law and order. It was not the question of internment. That was agreed. The arguments broke down over the question of law and order being controlled by one body.

It has been the central weakness of both Governments that they have failed to do this. It was an impossible dichotomy. It was the dichotomy of being in support of the civil power over which we had no control. As long as that was the case, there were bound to be mismanagements, breakdowns, failures, bad directions, and decisions involving troops being put into military ghettoes where they had no effect. This has changed, and it was vitally important that this should have been done. Now there will be one direction here and one direction in Northern Ireland. That is perhaps the most important side of the problem.

Another point turns on the question of the military forces. I am convinced that what went wrong in Northern Ireland because of this dichotomy, this mixed control, was that the minority, 500,000 Catholics, regarded British troops as the henchmen of Stormont. That was wrong, but that was the way they regarded the situation. That was the way that the propaganda, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West referred, exploited the position. That meant that for the wrong reasons we had a harbourage, whether at the point of the gun or through sympathy, for the I.R.A. in the Catholic areas. I believe that that will now stop, because it will be seen that the British Army is there to support British law and order directed by a British Minister of the Crown.

Mr. Powell

And the Union.

Mr. Fraser

But the direction will be from here. It will be impartial between Catholic and Protestant. That is the great achievement.

Mr. Stratton Mills

My right hon. Friend has properly acknowledged that there was no proof, in the widespread allegations which he says were believed in many areas, that the Army was acting as the creature of the Unionist Party. Does he not realise that the consequence of that argument is that if in these circumstances people are prepared to believe in delusions, a new delusion will take the place of this one?

Mr. Fraser

Of course people believe in delusions. My right hon. Friend, on whom has fallen the mantles of both Jeremiah and Lord Randolph Churchill, said, "Let us play the Orange card". Of course delusions fall on people. However, if it can be made clear beyond per-adventure that the direction of the military effort and of the civil power is from this country, no one in Ireland, however deluded, will say that it is being directed either pro-Catholic or pro-Protestant, but only in the maintenance of law and order. I believe that, is what we are about.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton) rose

Mr. Fraser

I am sorry. I do not want to take too long.

Unlike most hon. Members on this side of the House—I am not sure about hon. Gentlemen opposite—I have been a guerrilla. I have been engaged in the operation of destroying other people. I have also been engaged in putting down guerrilla operations in both Malaya and Kenya. I am certain that there can be no military success if a third of the population harbours guerrillas, as in Northern Ireland today. These are straight military facts which are incontrovertible. That is why I welcome the Bill.

I turn now to that very dangerous ground which was eschewed by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) when he said that we cannot look to the future. I believe that this is precisely what people have got to look to. The decision has to be made.

People like my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) have a view on the question of total integration, and that view must be debated. The right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) talked about the change of frontiers and the movements of population as possibilities. The House should bear in mind another thought; namely, that the Society of United Irishment founded in 1791 originally came from the City of Belfast. Belfast was the area for the great radicals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were the radical politicians. Let them be radical again and look at the wider issues not of a United Ireland tomorrow but at least of talking now of some of the areas in which there is a federal choice.

Whatever we may say about Anglo-Irish relations, we have an extraordinary situation. There is a more federal institution between this country and Northern and Southern Ireland than in many parts of the so-called federals throughout the world with common currency, passports, business, electricity supplies, and so on. Let these things be looked at to see whether there is some basis on which these greater unities can be built.

I believe that only two groups could now destroy the chance of a better and wider elevation of thought on the problem which has dazzled and bewildered us for so many years. One is the I.R.A. and the other is the extermists on the Orange side. Provided that they can be controlled, I believe that there is now a chance of a year in which to achieve something which can only be achieved by people in this country, in Ulster, and in Eire thinking about this matter.

7.25 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

We have just heard from the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) a most powerful exposition of an erudite case for a United Ireland by peaceful means which would be in the interests of the whole of that country.

Many of us on the Opposition side of the House have pressed over many months for an initiative from this Government. We have asked for some action to be taken. We have said that when such action was taken we would judge it on its merits, examine the issue as it stood, and then see whether it would take us any further. We must acknowledge that the Governments initial decision to take over security, to introduce into this House a Bill under which Stormont would be prorogued, and to set up a Commission goes a long way to meeting the demands which many right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House have been making.

However, that is not the end of the problem. The Secretary of State's problems are only just beginning. He has an exceedingly difficult task before him. No one under-estimates the size of the problem. My right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) has rightly said that the kernel of this issue is the control of the military and of the police. That is the very issue which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) missed. We had a long diatribe from him about giving in to violence and what would flow from it. He did not say that the Government's attitude towards violence has not changed. It means that many of the contradictions which many of us believed Mr. Faulkner had introduced have now been removed.

Many people in this country find it difficult to understand why the majority in Northern Ireland—I want to mention particularly the Protestant working class—should suddenly throw up their hands in horror when they are brought under the direct rule of the very country to which they claim to belong.

Mr. Maginnis

This is not direct rule. I hope that the hon. Gentleman realises that no one will object to free integrated rule from this country. This is rule by Statutory Instrument.

Mr. Orme

That is not how I read what Mr. Craig, Mr. Willie Hull and Mr. Faulkner are saying. They say, "We want back what we had." What is so important about what they had? Why is it that the standards which apply to the rest of the United Kingdom should not apply to Northern Ireland? Why is it so important for a small Parliament to have its own military control, its own police, and its own "B" specials which it had in the past? The reason for the defence of Stormont and why those who profess to be pro-British turn out in effect to be anti-British is that Northern Ireland, a small State consisting of six counties, is maintained at the moment by 16,000 British troops and subsidised to the tune of£150 million a year of the British taxpayers' money. [Interruption.] The £150 million in excess of what is raised in direct subsidy for Northern Ireland is taxpayers' money. People in Britain see that with this subsidy, the presence of British troops and the creation of this State the situation has not been settled. In fact, it has deteriorated.

One of the most courageous speeches has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) in his unconditional condemnation of the Provisional I.R.A. and the Official I.R.A. That condemnation of violence shows that the elected representatives of the Roman Catholic community want peace, but they want peace with dignity and democracy, and they will not go back to the charade of the Stormont Parliament which has existed for 50 years in the Six Counties.

Those of us who have been involved in civil rights and who have spoken on these issues in Northern Ireland have not done so on a religious basis. We have no religious axe to grind. This is why I appeal now to the Protestant working class people. I can understand that. They have been told for 50 years that their only way of defying Roman rule, of avoiding a United Ireland and all these horrors that they have been told about was to have their own Parliament and one-party rule for the rest of their lives. Now they see that removed and they are frightened, and they express their fright with the strike and the demonstration of yesterday and today—and one has to acknowledge the magnitude of what happened. They have exercised their right, but I would say to the Protestant working class that their real problem is not the threat of being forced into a United Ireland. Even the extremists recognise that that will be impossible against the will of the majority, just as it will be impossible to integrate the Six Counties completely if the minority definitely object. Both communities have a sanction here.

I want to see union, but union which is welcomed and which brings a new society and an improved standard of living in the South. For instance, the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) would be quite a dynamic figure in a Parliament in Dublin. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Even more dynamic."] Yes, even more dynamic than he is here. Those of us who know the energy and the application and ingenuity of the Protestant people know that their contribution to an united Ireland will be of outstanding importance. This is becoming recognised more and more.

I welcome the distinction that has been drawn between Mr. Hull and Mr. Bleese. Mr. Hull is a member of my own union. I spoke to him recently in the corridors when he was over here on a deputation. On certain economic issues we might agree. This is the important thing. I, too, want us to get away from the minority-majority situation to one in which we can judge on the economic issues, in which it is more important to fight for jobs than for the Orange Lodge. Those of us who go to Northern Ireland know how depressing it is to see the Six Counties completeley by-passed by the industrial development which has taken place in this part of the United Kingdom over the last 20 years and which has not taken place there despite all the subsidies.

It is in those circumstances that a new chance has been created, not to move immediately to a united Ireland—everyone knows that this is impracticable and that it might take five, 10, 15 or 20 years—but to keep the door open.

This is why I regret what my right hon. Friend said about writing into the Bill some reference to the 1949 Government of Ireland Act. That Act said that this should be the decision of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. But what is to be the arrangement when there is no Parliament? The plebiscite is a classic example. That will cut right across the 1949 Act. [AN HON. MEMBER: "It is not in the Bill."] No, but the Government intend to hold a plebiscite and it will be a plebiscite of the whole people, not a decision of the Stormont parliament.

When the Prime Minister and the new Secretary of State have given the assurance that nothing will be done without the consent of the people, that is a good enough guarantee without writing it into the Bill. Free and unfettered discussions should be allowed to take place.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East that, despite the killing, the bombing and the Alder-shot outrage, the British people have not really roused themselves to the Irish question. Those of us who take an active part in this issue know that our correspondence tends to come from people to the north or the south of the Border rather than from British people. That can change.

The public opinion poll held recently was only a straw in the wind but if, at the end of 12 months after the honeymoon period there is still trouble—perhaps then from both sides—the British people may demand that the British Army be withdrawn. If it were withdrawn in those circumstances, it would be a disaster. It has to be withdrawn with the consent of the population, after some political agreement or détente.

It is not impossible to work out such an agreement. All points of view are represented in this House, and as new Irish Members have arrived it has seemed as if never the twain should meet. But after a while certain meeting points have been found and people have talked about issues.

Mr. McMaster

The hon. Gentleman has based much of his argument on economic factors. What advantage would it be, for instance, to the shipyard or aircraft workers of my constituency to have a United Ireland, to be united with an impoverished South with lower national insurance benefits and all the rest?

Mr. Orme

Some of those shipyard workers are calling for U.D.I. What advantage would that be to them now? The hon. Gentleman will recall that when Short Bros, was being discussed under the Labour Government many of my hon. Friends stood beside him demanding more work and increased orders for Northern Ireland. I shall continue to do that. I look on them not as Catholic or Protestant workers but as people in a depressed area of high unemployment for whom we must do something.

I listened carefully to what the Leader of the House said about examining every case of internment. I hope we can move to a situation when if violence is brought more or less under control—this will not be achieved in a military sense, for only the two communities can bring it about; only the Catholic community can end the I.R.A. activities and the Protestant community the Vanguard movement, or any similar activity—internment will be brought to an end quickly because it is a blot on the British constitution.

Arrest and detention without trial is detestable under any circumstances. What my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said about the need for a whole reassessment of the area of security should be strongly noted. If the Special Powers Act were removed and internment abolished—I am not opposed to charges being brought against those who should be charged—a great deal would have been done to deescalate tension, and perhaps fruitful talks could then take place.

We remember how, under the Labour Government of 1969, British troops were sent to Northern Ireland to defend the Catholic community. About 450 of their homes had been burnt out in Belfast. I was there the day after that happened. Our troops were welcomed by the Catholic community. We recall the difficulties that have occurred since, with internment and so on.

This new initiative will last for only a certain time. I estimate that we have, at the most, 12 months in which to get positive steps taken. I do not imagine that the problem can be completely settled in this time, but only if we can move forward, leaving open the real alternatives, shall we make progress. If the majority want the Border to go, they should be free to see it go. If the majority want it to remain, it should remain until the opposite decision is taken.

It is against that background that I welcome the Bill. It represents a definite step forward. Perhaps it is a little late coming compared with the pressure that we have been putting on for a Measure of this kind to be introduced. Nevertheless, it provides an opportunity for a fresh start to be made, and this is an opportunity which must be accepted.

7.44 p.m.

Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)

I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) and particularly his comments about internment. We must ask ourselves what might have happened if there had not been internment and what made it necessary in the first place.

I am as anxious as is the hon. Member to see it removed because, as he said, internment is inconsistent with our constitutional freedom and democratic rights. We must, however, ask many more questions than the hon. Gentleman posed. I shall be brief because many hon. Members, some of them representing constituencies in Northern Ireland, wish to take part in the debate.

I have noticed in this debate, and particularly in the opening speeches from the Front Benches, a strange bipartisanship. Usually this occurs only when we are at war or when facing something equally disturbing. Rarely does one get the coincidence of view that we have seen today from the occupants of both Front Benches.

This House is, however, being asked to take a lot on trust. By passing the Bill we may be taking an awful gamble. I hope we are taking a calculated risk, but let nobody suppose for a moment that this Measure of itself represents a solution. I regret that the righthon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) is not in his place because I was about to say that there is a call for new statesmanship on this issue. We are dealing with a very old problem and are hoping that new men and new methods will solve it. As many hon. Members have said, this will depend enormously on the good will that we can establish.

We shall, however, be crying for the moon if we suppose that within our lifetime there will be a united Ireland. How can a country which is already a republic be expected to want to return to becoming a constitutional monarchy? How can some of the most loyal subjects to Her Majesty be expected suddenly to become republicans? Unless those questions are resolved I do not see a united Ireland being possible.

I am reminded of a remark made by General Smuts during the last war. Speaking about the League of Nations, which was set up after the First World War, and comparing it with the United Nations, which was to be set up after the Second World War, he said he hoped that at the end of the war we would not imagine that we could build a whole ladder of peace overnight. In his view, if each generation built one rung in the ladder of peace firmly, that would probably do more than any of our predecessors had been able to achieve. It is in that mood that we should approach the task that confronts my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, now the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland designate.

When the House decides to impose on other men tasks such as the one we are imposing on my right hon. Friend and his three colleagues, we should be very guarded in what we do. After all, we are really passing over to them an enormous share of our responsibility.

It is appropriate in this context not to overlook the fact that during the lifetime of the Stormont Government we have been able to avoid charging my right hon. Friend or one of his predecessors with the task which he is now assuming. In other words, Stormont has been carrying a good deal of the can for a responsibility which would otherwise have been exercised by us. It is under this Measure that we shall have to exercise it, and my right hon. Friend and his three colleagues will bear the full brunt of the task.

We send my right hon. Friend out to perform this task with the utmost of good will and no little sympathy. I assure him that he has a great deal of sympathy from me. We are giving him an almost impossible job. Ireland is the graveyard of many political reputations. I hope that my right hon. Friend will overcome the burden, and it is right that we should be optimistic. I hope, however, that we will not be unrealistic.

I have tried in my remarks to be realistic and I have explained that for the foreseeable future, just so long as any of the citizens who are proud to call themselves subjects of Her Majesty wish to remain part of the United Kingdom, they shall do so. My hon. Friends and I are putting down a Motion tonight to reaffirm this. We drafted the Motion last night. We feel very strongly indeed that it is essential that anyone who wishes to remain in Northern Ireland as a subject of Her Majesty shall be entitled to continue feeling part of the United Kingdom.

As he has now returned to the Chamber—and I am glad that he has—I say to the right hon. Member for Coventry, East that I sense, in what he and his right hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. John Morris) said, a rather disturbing change of policy as I understood it to be expressed by the Labour Party regarding British troops in Northern Ireland. I had always understood that it was the Labour Party's policy—and I hope it remains part of the policy of the majority of the Labour Party—that just so long as Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom, just so long will British troops be made available to uphold law and order in Northern Ireland. I hope we shall not qualify that, because if there is one grave danger in the debate it is that we shall make things worse than they are.

The Bill is designed to give a new chance, but I hope that we shall be realistic about it and recognise that we are trying to solve a problem which has for hundreds of years defeated our predecessors.

There is an old Latin tag which is one of the very few I remember from my limited classical education: festina lente, make haste slowly. There has been a great deal of talk about speed of action. The right hon. Member for Coventry, East suggested speed of action in dealing with internees. From what I know of Ireland—and I think perhaps not all hon. Members may know that for many years I employed Roman Catholic Irishmen south of the Border; I still have a very great regard and affection for them—it always seems to me that the trouble with Ireland is not Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, on the one hand or the other, not whether one lives north or south of the Border and the delineation of the Border, but is primarily the fact that physically the Irishman tends to move more slowly than the Englishman, but where his emotions can be aroused they blow up much more rapidly. The national characteristics of our respective people are very different. There is the awful business that if one talks anything remotely like English it is assumed that one thinks like an Englishman. It is just as absurd to think that Irishmen think like Englishmen any more than an American does. It is a difference in make-up and outlook. If we overlook these differences we do so at our peril.

Probably for too long England has imagined that Ireland could be governed as though she were England. Ireland is not and will never be England. She has her own identity, both north and south of the Border. They are separate identities. We have to recognise that. The one thing we must not do at any price is to abandon those who wish to remain loyal subjects of Her Majesty.

Finally, let us not overlook the dedicated service that Mr. Faulkner has tried to give. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] He came to his post not entirely willingly, any more than his predecessor did. He came as a man of peace, and by the sheer circumstances of what he found himself having to handle he had to become a man of war against evil things and evil men. None of us should be reluctant to understand the appalling disappointment he must feel over this, as my hon. Friends who represent Ulster constituencies must also feel. I extend to them my deepest sympathy, lasting respect and, above all, my thanks for the way in which they have tried to do their duty. They have been examples to us all.

7.54 p.m.

Miss Bernadette Devlin (Mid-Ulster)

I shall be voting tonight against the Bill. By doing so I realise that I shall be walking through the Lobby with members of the democratic Unionist Parties. Therefore I wish to make it crystal clear that I have no common purpose or interest with those hon. Members. By walking through the Lobby tonight it is their intention to bring back yesterday, to attempt once again to oil the machine, to get the engine running and to bring back the old days of patronage and privilege in Northern Ireland. Despite their vote tonight, I think they accept that it cannot be done. The reason why I shall vote against the Bill is perfectly straightforward. I know that certain hon. Members on this side of the House have advised me against it and have spoken of the peculiar company in which I shall find myself.

The question I ask hon. Members on this side of the House is whether it is conceivable that they imagine that direct rule and the régime, policies and priorities of the Tory Government could assist or be to the benefit of any section of the working class. The Government of this country have produced 1 million unemployed, a 15 per cent. rise in the cost of living, growing repression here in Britain and the Industrial Relations Act, and they support and defend Rhodesia and send arms to South Africa. Would hon. Members ask me to support that or to believe that such a Government could hold any hope of peace or justice for the people of Northern Ireland?

I believe it is impossible for a Tory Government to solve the problem of Ireland or the problems which beset the working class of this country. I further believe that one of the most important steps in solving the problem of Ireland, in bringing peace to Ireland and halting the rising tide of official violence in this country is not to walk through the Lobby in support of the Tory Government but to walk through the Lobby against them to bring them down.

With being dependent on the Liberal Party, as we have learned not to be, and given that the Unionist Party will vote against the Tories, that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) will walk into the Lobby against the Government and that there will be a number of dissident Conservatives, a simple mathematical calculation shows that a united and determined Labour Party, with the nerve and conviction of its own Socialist policies, could walk through the Lobby tonight and bring down this Tory Government and all they stand for, if it had the nerve and conviction to fight the Tories not only on this issue but on every other issue confronting the working class of all these islands. That is why I would rather find myself on totally opposite ground but in the same Lobby as the powerless and those supporting the crumbling edifice of Toryism in this country.

From both sides of the House we have been told that this solution is no solution. What the Bill does is to bring in a form of direct rule. We have heard from the Government benches that it does not of itself provide a solution. That is certainly true. We have heard from the Opposition Front Bench that it is no solution. I agree. It is true. But why do we have a situation in which the British Conservative Party in government turns upon the machine that it created? Why and how have we come to a position that the dealer who first dealt the Orange card has now discarded it ruthlessly from the pack? Why has that happened?

It is important to the working people of Ulster, Catholic and Protestant, that they understand why it has happened and, from that, understand what will be done with the breathing space which the Tories have achieved for themselves. Successive British Governments, while the main British investment existed in the north of Ireland, were content to allow the machine to rumble on with all its trappings of gerrymandering, discrimination, the Special Powers Act and the rest.

Now, where must that machine go. Not only did the Unionist machine march on—a machine comprising the Orange Order, the apprentice boys and the Royal Black Preceptory with a claimed strength of 100,000 men. The right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong in that assumption. To have the support of 100,000 men out of a male adult population of 500,000 is to produce a machine of which Joe Stalin or Mayor Daley would have been proud. That machine 50 years ago was a powerful machine of a political party. After 50 long years of power, it became not just a machine of one party but, as the two-day strike has shown, almost in entirety, the machine of the State itself.

Not only did the machine march on but time marched on, and the relatively massive investment south of the Border which grew and went its own way demanded that it was now necessary, in the interests of the British economy and British imperialism, to change the relationship. It was as great a priority, if not a greater priority, to have a friendly and safe Government south of the Border as it was to have a friendly and stable Government north of the Border.

When that happened the machine was prodded, pushed and pulled. In the old days Lemass and O'Neill would not have it. Reform package after reform package—the abolition of the B Specials, the attempted reform of the police, attempted reforms of local government, attempts to end discrimination, the Downing Street agreement and the sending of British troops to Northern Ireland—these were all attempts to make the machine change into reverse gear. But it could not be done. Fifty years of going full steam ahead on Right-wing Tory priorities could not be changed overnight. The machine could not reverse gear and inevitably there had to be a collision between the Orange card and the dealer, between the machine men—Mr. Craig, the Rev. Martin Smyth and Mr. Brian Faulkner—and the Tories who wanted an updated method of Tory rule.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has for some time been trying to give the Prime Minister a lesson in the art of successful mid-twentieth century imperialism. Finally the Prime Minister has taken the lesson and he has found a better way to rule. He wants a new relationship, a growing together of the more far-seeing capitalists of the North with Mr. Lynch and his agents in the South. He wants a new cosy Tory relationship in a new cosy Tory Europe. He and his Government seem prepared to discard ruthlessly the machine, and not before time. But the machine was more than just a means by which they held power. It was a means by which the Protestant working class of Northern Ireland thought they existed. It was the means by which they survived the conditions in which they lived. The Prime Minister and his Government now seem determined, if necessary, to get that new relationship that should it be required, through a bloody conflict with the Protestant masses who feel betrayed, deceived and bewildered.

I say to the working class that the way forward is not to try to bring back yesterday. I ask them to look at the yesterday which they should want to fight off, a yesterday which brought them nothing but the slum conditions of Shankill. At least the Catholics got out as far as the Unity Flats, such as they were. It was a yesterday that brought them low wages and the brutalisation of the whole system, which was visited upon us all. Look at the men who will lead them. I ask them to look at Mr. William Craig strutting alongside Billy Hull. I do not see how Billy Hull could forget Mr. Craig, as Minister of Development, told the trade unions to take a long running jump from a very great height if they wanted better wages in Northern Ireland. [Laughter.] Hon. Members on the Government side may find that amusing. The Protestant workers when in conflict with Mr. Craig on that issue did not find it amusing, but they won. Those workers should remember that when employers and trade unionists stand shoulder to shoulder it is the worker who is being conned. That unnatural alliance of interest is never in the interests of the working class.

Quite rightly and quite jealously the working class guard the Welfare State. They look south of the Border and say that they cannot be expected to live on the money paid there. They are right. But it was not through the Unionist Party machine that the Welfare State was won. It was won in this country in spite of the Unionist Party when every last Member of it in this House opposed it at every stage as the legislation went through.

The wages that these people earn in the shipyards and the standard of living they maintain have not been maintained or achieved through the Unionist Party but in spite of it. I have worked with Mr. Hull on trade union matters—for example, to save the aircraft industry and to improve wages and conditions in the shipyards. If he does as he has said he will do at the behest of Mr. Craig, at the hand of his master, if he is prepared to smash the organisations of the working class, how will he defend his shipyard workers against Mr. Craig's new Government when once again Mr. Craig says that if they want better wages they can jump in the river? That will be the thanks for the trade unionists who set up the new régime—the benefit for the Protestant workers who follow them.

I know they are frightened and determined not to become part of Jack Lynch's so-called Free State. Between the coconut colonies and the banana republics, if we can do nothing else in Ireland we can run a fruit market. We all want nothing to do with Jack Lynch's Republic. I ask the Protestant workers not to be misled and divided further from their fellow worker who happens to be a Catholic. We know what it is like. I say to them, "Do not let them make fools of you. Look how every leader of that party has led you along the road, used you, bled you dry, dumped you and betrayed you."

As Catholic workers we also have for too long been led on only to be betrayed by those who shared our religion and despised our class. I understand that many Protestant workers fear direct rule from London because they see in it the way towards rule from Dublin. But Catholic workers fear rule from Belfast because they see in it prepetuation of rule from London. I advise Protestant workers not to be scared of Jack Lynch. He is a time server of Toryism and he has not much time left to serve. Catholic workers must not be led into the Tory trap that says: "We will work out a new deal by which we will more effectively keep you all down". [Interruption.] An hon. Member asks, "Where do they go?" I will tell him. I oppose the Bill tonight because it poses the issue of rule from Belfast or rule from London. The confidence of workers in Northern Ireland depends on the question of whether it means ultimate rule from Dublin. That is the wrong question.

The question we as Catholic and Protestant workers must face is not "Will we be ruled from Belfast, London or Dublin?" but "Will we be ruled?". We will be ruled only by ourselves. Only then do we solve the problems that beset our community.

8.10 p.m.

Mr. Stratton Mills (Belfast, North)

I wish to speak briefly. I hope the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) will forgive me if I do not follow her into her Marxist view of current history. I do not want to raise the temperature. I will say of the hon. Lady only that she is a more significant figure in the gossip columns of the London newspapers than she is in Northern Ireland politics—and I thank God for that.

Mr. John Mendelson

Do not be personal.

Mr. Mills

I come to this debate with a considerable feeling of sadness, for what we are debating is the rape of Stormont. The initiatives by Her Majesty's Government were handled in the clumsiest possible way. As an exercise in diplomacy, this was one of the worst examples of the twentieth century. The Prime Minister and the other Ministers handling the negotiations have ended up by making a very deep enemy of Mr. Brian Faulkner. This must be a considerable setback for the future.

In passing, I would remind the House of a few of the words of Brian Faulkner yesterday. I think the House would broadly agree that throughout the crisis he has handled himself with great dignity in an immensely difficult situation. These words were not said lightly because throughout the past six or seven weeks he has constantly said, "I can trust Ted Heath. I can trust the Conservative Government." Now he is a man who feels that the people he trusted have let him down, and there can be no one more bitter than such a person. He said yesterday: We have lost confidence in the Heath Administration. It is obvious we cannot depend on their judgment as regards our affairs or on the strength of their political will. Our voice, putting a case grounded on reason and justice, has already been drowned by the clamour of expediency. I repeat the words: the clamour of expediency. Where did this mysterious train of political intiatives start? They started off on 30th January when following the tragic events in Londonderry, the Gov- ernment decided that this constituted a watershed, an area where a new look must be taken. I do not accept this as valid timing, but I think that is basically where the package began. It was born last Friday, but it was conceived on 30th January. We must see how relevant it is to the situation we face now. I must also put firmly on the record, as my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) and others of my hon. Friends have done, that it has had a disastrous effect on the confidence of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland.

But let us consider briefly why the talks fell down. They fell down on the question of transferring security to Westminster. It was perfectly clear—the Government here knew it—that Mr. Faulkner was on record as having said that he would not preside over a sham Government whose rôle in security was transferred. Therefore, the Government here must have known that that was a clear sticking point and that if they demanded it they were in practice talking about the end of the Stormont Government. I wonder whether it was more Machiavellian than that. Had the Government decided that they wanted to see that as an ultimate end, and, therefore, were playing that card knowing perfectly well that Mr. Faulkner would not accept it, and therefore they were signing the death warrant of Stormont? Would it not have been honest to go to that direct rather than in that Machiavellian way?

Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)

Will my hon. Friend accept from me an assurance that certain hon. Members on this side who have now acquired a great deal of responsibility in these matters were saying as long as three weeks ago that it might not be a bad thing if Faulkner were to go?

Mr. Mills

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for putting that on the record in this debate.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton. South-West (Mr. Powell) on putting most effectively the basic flaw in the Government's reasoning. I want to ask why the Government here had decided that they must take over security. What security rôle had the Northern Ireland Government? They had a police authority dealing indirectly with the Royal Ulster Constabulary in its new and reformed rôle following the Hunt Report of the former Government. There was a Joint Security Committee in which the Northern Ireland Government were represented, as were the representatives of the Government here. Letno one imagine that in that Committee the Northern Ireland Government had complete sway over what happened. They had a voice; and in the kind of security situation which our Province has faced is it not reasonable that the elected representative Government of that Province should have at least a voice in what was happening, a voice amidst the clamour of death and destruction? Is it not right that an elected Parliament should have the right to put a view to such a Committee? That is what it had.

The Army and the Ulster Defence Regiment were not controlled by the Stormont Government. The paratroopers at Londonderry on 30th January were not controlled by the Ulster Government. They were under the sole control of the Government here at Westminster.

Next we come to the area of special powers, of internment. The decision on internment was taken initially by the Government of Northern Ireland; but does any hon. Member doubt that in practice it was endorsed by the Front Bench here? Does anyone imagine that the Government at Stormont themselves decided this? Of course, it was a joint decision and a joint responsibility, and for heaven's sake let us not run away from it. In this area of joint responsibility, how were the files on men who were being lifted under the Special Powers Act prepared? The R.U.C. rôle and the Army intelligence people had a rôle, and I imagine that the Special Branch here helped where it could. It was a joint effort, and that was right. I have no hesitation as a Unionist in saying that the more one can make this into a joint effort the better. That is fair and reasonable, because the Government here are carrying a major share, through the Army, but it is unrealistic and dishonest to draw away the rôle which the Stormont Government had.

My right hon. Friend the Lord President said that this system was "unsatisfactory in principle". Fair enough; but does he feel he can point to any area in security where Stormont has acted improperly or unfairly? That is the test. It is not a question of a public relations exercise, a grandiose design or being "unsatisfactory in principle". The test is whether he can point to any area where he feels Stormont has abused its position. If he could show that, we should have something to go on.

Mr. McMaster

We might also hear from the Minister who is to reply whether any warning has been given to the Northern Ireland Government, any hint of dissatisfaction with the way in which they were carrying out the security function, so that they might improve on it.

Mr. Mills

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. He has put it very fairly. Had it been said to Stormont that they had been doing something badly and that change was needed, it would be different, but we have heard nothing today and seen nothing in the Press references nor in the statement by the Prime Minister to that effect. It was a glaring blank. How does one test the value of the initiative? It was a major gamble. Does it improve the situation or make it worse? That is the test of an initiative.

I have my own view. I hope that I might be wrong. I have little doubt that although we have seen certainly today incidents of intimidation which I put on record as deploring and we have also seen two deaths and an explosion, we have seen a lower key level of violence over the weekend, not stopping but fairly well down. That I acknowledge; but the Government must not imagine that because the I.R.A. are terrorists they are stupid. Following this initiative, what would an I.R.A. chief of staff do? Would he keep the same level of terror or say, "Now let us make some fairly nominal response"? The key test is what will be the position in two weeks' time, in three weeks' time, or in four weeks' time. I fear the Government have played their second last card and thrown it recklessly away.

My hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) and the Lord President of the Council said that this initiative was introduced to help the moderates. If they really believe that, they understand nothing of politics in Northern Ireland. I am fiercely opposing this Bill and will vote against it tonight because the initiative has destroyed the middle ground in Ulster politics. That is why I condemn it wholly. Today we have seen a demonstration of 300,000 people under the banner of the Vanguard movement marching through the centre of Belfast. Do my hon. Friends believe that that is the banner of moderation? If I may adapt the phrase of another politician in this House, I am afraid Her Majesty's Government with this Measure have been the best recruiting sergeant which the Vanguard has ever had. Following this intiative will Mr. Lynch clamp down on the I.R.A. in the South? Will he round them all up, put them inside, close their training camps, close the supply of arms and the supply of gelignite? Will the Government tell us in a few weeks' time that this has happened and point to devastating success of their policy in that area? I doubt that very much. The initiative has been so mishandled as to show a misunderstanding of Northern Ireland politics which is imposing upon us what Mr. Brian Faulkner has called a form of "coconut society" which I believe will contribute nothing to the problems we have to live with.

8.23 p.m.

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

I must say to the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) that, however earnest his last-minute pleading on behalf of the Stormont system and no matter how vigorous his defence, to those visitors to Ulster in recent months since internment it has been almost impossible to avoid the impression of a total lack of confidence, certainly on the part of a sizeable minority in Northern Ireland and perhaps even in the whole Province.

Yet, despite that and despite all the difficulties and disappointments, even of the longer period before internment spreading over the last three years, hon. Members on this side of the House were anxious to understand the position and to give the Government as much support as they could. We were anxious to display as much forbearance in the face sometimes of temper on the Government benches on the part of Ulster Unionist Members who thought that some of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), had been too curious about the affairs of Northern Ireland. We even understood why it was necessary for the Government to agree to almost anything which a Northern Ireland Prime Minister might ask as a means of political survival.

We thought that that kind of cost was tolerable until internment. Even after internment we held our fire, although I think the time has now arrived for certain things to be said. The first reason I put forward is that no nation can have resort to some of the methods employed on behalf of this country in the name of this House with the resources which this House makes available through the use of our Army at the behest of Stormont politicians, of all people, and expect our moral health to remain unimpaired and our good name throughout the world to remain unaffected.

Secondly, there can be little doubt that we have now reached a stage in Ulster where nothing short of the most dramatic policy initiative could survive. We have been reminded this evening that the defects of that system have cost the lives of British soldiers and produced the only concentration camp in these islands. I know from experience that among those interned are members of major trade unions represented in this House by some of my hon. Friends. There is simply no avoiding the fact that Stormont was born out of a threat of armed insurrection and the flouting of a democratic decision. It based its rôle on the slogan "No surrender"—the very antithesis of parliamentary politics. That was a fatal flaw. Ulster Members know and hon. Members on both sides of the House know how much we depend in our work here on compromise. We know how essential it is to parliamentary democracy; but it has been lacking at Stormont.

Undoubtedly this is one reason why the Government came to the conclusion, which many of us had urged, that the Orange Order mentality and the British notion of justice are irreconcilable. The Prime Minister is to be congratulated on his courage because there was a widespread suspicion, to which I was a party, on Thursday of last week that he would yet yield to the threat issued a week ago last Saturday in Ormeau Park, Belfast. It was a familiar threat which, since Sir Edward Carson swore in 1912 that he would "break every law that is possible" to prevent Irish independence and unity, has supplied Britain's real motive in first establishing and then guaranteeing a State where the Border was drawn to give the Unionists a comfortable majority. I am glad that the Prime Minister has broken with that past. This is not to decry Unionist rights or past achievements or current fears. Nor is it in any way intended to ignore the realities of the present situation.

In 1972 Englishmen as well as Irishmen are entitled to ask how far some Ulstermen have the right to impose a permanent veto on the political development of Ireland or certainly on the development of relations between Ireland and Britain. Mr. Faulkner's response last night was not a hopeful augury. The support he received from leading Unionists expressed more than anything else the instinctive reflex of an entrenched régime to any criticism, reform or desire for change. It exposed completely the bankruptcy of a policy of repression and internment which has blamed Republican Marxist agitators, Dublin-controlled terrorists and now the London Government for the consequences of policies which Stormont has nurtured and unleashed. Mr. Faulkner will regret his present intemperance and intransigence.

Mr. Maginnis

Has the hon. Gentleman not read or heard about the reforms introduced by the Stormont Parliament?

Mr. Duffy

Indeed, I have. Has the hon. Member heard or read of those people who withdrew from public bodies in Northern Ireland the week before last in protest against the failure of the Northern Ireland Government to implement these reforms? There is a letter about this in the Irish Times of 16th March, 1972, and there is a reference to it in the London Times.

Mr. Faulkner is not alone. Ulster Unionists present this evening, notably the hon. Members for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder), Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster) and Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder), cannot yet bring themselves to acknowledge that none of this need have happened if only Stormont had been willing to recognise a people's protests at their discernible discrimination, lack of employment, lack of civil rights, sub-standard housing. As if this was not enough, it failed to reject the reactionary politics practised by its own supporters. Above all, as my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) reminded us, it failed to prevent the murderous assaults on Bombay Street in August, 1969, by its more bigoted supporters. Thus it brought into being the Provisional I.R.A. So, direct rule is the consequence, just as much as the Provisionals are the consequence of the Unionist policies at Stormont.

Direct rule is also a tacit acknowledgment that partition has failed, that the experiment in devolution has failed and that 50 years of massive support by Britain of successive Unionist Governments have produced an evil system. What then, we may fairly ask—in some ways this has been asked, notably by the hon. Member for Belfast, North although in slightly different terms—is the point of Westminster risking further sacrifice of life and property in a bad cause and, above all, accepting responsibility for it unless there is to be a fresh departure?

The Prime Minister surely cannot be thinking that he can enter into yet another arrangement that would secure Unionist rule at Stormont and shore up the position of Mr. Faulkner or whoever may succeed him. That is too much to accept. The present development presumably provides the opportunity to look elsewhere, to look afresh at the rôle and future of Northern Ireland. I do not wish to minimise the difficulties, nor do I expect too much too soon. I have complete sympathy with the fears expressed by the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke).

There must be a phasing out of internment. Equally important, there must be full respect for the civil rights of all the people of Northern Ireland and an end to all the political, economic and religious discrimination, which means also a fresh look at the Special Powers Act.

Thirdly, I want to see an implementation of the many basic reforms promised by the Government both of this country and of Northern Ireland since 1968. That will make it impossible for other members of public bodies to resign, as some have done recently, as a protest against the failure of those Governments to implement such policies vigorously enough.

My right hon. friend the Leader or the Opposition has demonstrated his own basic grasp of the Irish situation in his 15-point proposal, as well as subsequently. He realises the total interrelation of events, both in North and South Ireland. He sees the essential unity of Ireland, and sees that no interim solution will be worth while if that thought is not at the front of everybody's mind. I would be interested to note this evening how many contributors to this debate on both sides of the House have made the same point. It is that state of mind with which we should all be concerned; that is, with its cultivation, and certainly not with encouraging the present siege mentality on the Border question by amending the Bill before us on the lines proposed by, I regret to say, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) as well as the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes).

Nor will periodic referenda be enough unless they are couched in positive, constructive terms, even though we have the kind of difficulty pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). Once we start holding referenda we shall become more aware of the concentrated support for the régime which is just coming to an end in Belfast.

I want to join in supporting all those on both sides of the House who have so far called—and quite rightly—for change only by consent. I want them also to bear in mind that that consent can only be arrived at if it is consciously sought.

Britain's duty now to Ulster is surely not to sustain it in a permanent stance of no surrender which would surely stem from the referenda, and from the emphasis given it by that amendment to which I have just referred, but rather to guide Ulster to a closer working relationship with the rest of Ireland, which is surely a vital precondition for a closer and ever closer working relationship between the whole of Ireland and Britain.

Direct rule, which I welcome for the present, provides the opportunity to bring people on both sides to see how much they have in common and how much they can work together in equality, in justice and in fraternity.

8.40 p.m.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

I trust that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) will forgive me if I do not follow him, because I feel that the best contribution I can make is apart from the other speeches made today.

Many of us who take the traditional Unionist position could deal with some of the glaring inaccuracies which have been put forward in the debate. To suggest that the Unionists of Northern Ireland drew up the Border and said "No surrender" is not historically correct because the Government of the South of Ireland, the Government in Westminster and the Government in Stormont all agreed on the Border. But there is no need for us to go into the history. We are dealing with present-day realities.

There has been violence in Northern Ireland today. We must be honest and accept that violence has come from both sections of the community and we in this House need to understand what we are doing. I wonder whether hon. Members really understand the momentous decision they are taking and the responsibilities they are putting upon their own shoulders by it.

There is no doubt that there is deep and very bitter resentment among the Protestants of Northern Ireland over the Bill. There is no doubt that the Protestants of Northern Ireland have been maligned, slandered, libelled; they have been attacked; their homes have been mutilated and burnt and they have suffered grievously under I.R.A. attacks. The I.R.A. was not born out of these troubles; it has been in existence during the 50 years we have had of the separation of the North and South of Ireland. The Provisional I.R.A. separated from the Official I.R.A. because it rejected the Official I.R.A.'s Marxism, and hon. Members of this House need to know exactly what the Provisional I.R.A. is and what its aims are.

I was especially glad that the Secretary of State designate was generous in his remarks about the strike that took place amongst the Protestant people. It is far better for the Protestant people to express themselves within the law than to have a suppression of their feelings and for those feelings then to erupt where the crust is thinnest.

I want tonight to make an appeal to the Protestant people of Northern Ireland. They have had their strike; they have shown their deep feelings today. I may say that it was at my suggestion, and not at the suggestion of the Vanguard movement, which jumped on it, that the Protestant people lobbied Stormont today. If they had access to this House, they would have lobbied here. We have all seen lobbies here of people who are entitled to come and express their viewpoints within the law. I believe and feel that there is genuine hope on both sides today, which has been freely acknowledged.

I want to say to the Protestant people of the North of Ireland, "You have shown your feelings". Everyone knows that Irishmen, whether they live in the North or in the South, use plain, straight language. In other words they call a spade a spade, and the Protestant people have definitely expressed forthrightly their opinions and are entitled so to do. But I say to them "Now that you have shown your feelings, the voice and the advice of Mr. Craig are the voice and the advice of folly. Anarchy cannot be answered by more anarchy; lawlessness cannot be answered by more lawlessness." Any responsible member of the public who says that the Protestant community should make Northern Ireland ungovernable is playing into the hands of the enemies of the Ulster people. Therefore I say tonight to the Ulster people "Do not betray your country. Do not bring it down by self-inflicted wounds. Do not copy the deplorable tactics which your enemies have adopted. Show yourselves to be resolute and strong".

In every Ulsterman there is a strong streak of the Scot and I believe that that strong streak of the canny Scot will come to the surface and be the salvation of Ulster at this time. At heart its people are loyalist. They respect this House and they respect and honour the Queen and the flag of this country. In a few days' time I believe that they will all come to realise that their best interest is served by paying heed to those who warn them not to launch themselves on a course of absolute catastrophe. I trust that tonight, when the strike has come to a conclusion and when people have returned to work, this appeal will be listened to and heeded.

A week ago yesterday in a speech in this House I pointed out certain options that were open for the Government. I said that the option which the Government have now settled for would not be acceptable to the loyalists of Northern Ireland. I think the Government know that this course is not acceptable to the loyalists. The House should face the reality that Stormont is a thing of the past. It is no use Unionists thinking that by some way or other Stormont will return, because I am afraid Ichabod has been written over it and the glory has departed.

I was a member of Stormont. After the S.D.L.P. and the Nationalists left the House I was the Leader of the Opposition. [Laughter.] Hon. Members will laugh perhaps a little more when they hear what happened. When the members of my party, four of us, were absent from the House, the House sat for only a few minutes. I wonder why all the Unionists are saying that they must have Stormont. They did not serve that Parliament as they should. I defy any Unionist Member sitting on these benches to say that that is not the truth. Parliament and its Members did not shoulder the responsibilities they should have shouldered. I have sat in the House when there were two Members on the Unionist Party benches. I have sat there when there was only one Member on the benches. I wonder how sincere they are in saying that Stormont must come back. I am a realist. I do not want Stormont destroyed—no Ulster Protestant would—but let every hon. Member of this House face the reality that Stormont the way it was will not be returning. Having faced that reality we must look to see what doors lie ahead for the people of Ulster.

The people of Ulster can heed the voice of Mr. Craig. They can heed the voice of Mr. Faulkner who has called for a veto. They can launch themselves on a campaign to make the Province of Ulster totally ungovernable. Let no hon. Member of the House deny that if a huge section of the community says "We will not co-operate", it is impossible to run a country. One-third of the population of Ulster has more or less opted out. We can see the results of that opting out. For the people of Ulster to say that they will try to bring to an end proper government in Northern Ireland would be folly.

There is the suggestion that Ulster could become completely independent. I do not know how reasonable men could put forward such a suggestion. We depend and have a right to depend on the British Exchequer. We are not the poor boys, the Cinderellas. Some parts of this community have to be subsidised more than others and we have a right to expect help from the British Exchequer. People in Northern Ireland have a right to look here for that help. But I admit freely that when we receive such help we must show ourselves grateful and use it in the best possible way.

I was glad that the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) admitted that Protestant people live in poor houses. Some hon. Members of this House think that all the Roman Catholics in Ulster live in poor houses and the Protestants all live in palaces, but some of the poorest houses in the City of Belfast are occupied by Protestants. It is not right or fair to say that the Protestants live in palaces and have jobs and the Roman Catholics live in slums and have no jobs. There is unemployment among the Protestants as well, and that should be made perfectly clear.

So there is this force which would say "Let us make the country ungovernable". That would be a tragedy. There is another that says, "Let us be independent of Britain". That is ridiculous nonsense. Another view has been put forward, and I regret that right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench slammed the door so hard on it. It is the option of total integration into Great Britain, that this House should take its courage in its hands and say "All right, Northern Ireland people are citizens of the United Kingdom. They have a right to come fully under this Chamber as far as legislation is concerned. They have a right to be fully represented in this House according to the ratio of their population. They have a right to these things, but they have a right and an obligation to abide by the laws passed in this House and to build their society according to the structure that this House dictates to them".

If we are realists we will admit that it is easier to change half a million people than it is to change a million people. And there are a million people in Northern Ireland who want to remain part and parcel of the United Kingdom. Their loyalties are very deep and the expression "No surrender" is not as adamant as the hon. Gentleman who used it believes. It means that they do not want to leave the United Kingdom, they do not want to have their citizenship changed; they are not going to surrender their British citizenship. That is what they mean. They are not talking about housing and education.

I know it has an historical connotation—I admit that freely—but I say this to the Roman Catholic people of Northern Ireland. Do they not think that if there is to be no united Ireland in their lifetime they would have a better deal caught up in the full context of the United Kingdom? The Six Counties constitute a very small place. That is one of the great difficulties. Everybody knows one another; people are living cheek by jowl. But if they were lost—and I do not use "lost" in an evil way—and if they were brought into the wider context of the United Kingdom, surely this would be in their best interests. After all, they can see that their co-religionists in this country have nothing to object to in the rule of this country or in the laws of this country. If they can see that, in their best interests they should accept integration; they should accept representation in this House. After all, the representatives of the minority, as they have termed themselves, come to this House; they have not absented themselves from this House. They attend and take part in the debates. I say to the Roman Catholics that they should think hard whether it would be in their best interests to accept some form of integration.

I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) slammed down that argument so hard. I regret his saying that we should not be looking to this House but should be looking to the South of Ireland But where else should the family look but to the father's house? That is the way people look. They look to this place. The right hon. Gentleman was a little egotistical when he said that he was a Member for Northern Ireland. I take strong exception to that, and so would other Northern Ireland representatives.

Mr. Callaghan

I will send the hon. Members my letters to answer.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I thank the right hon. Gentleman very much for that offer.

The door should not be closed. Before any hon. Member in this House slams the door and puts up the locks and chains, I ask him to think again. In this very difficult situation—no one knows the difficulties that lie ahead, and nobody can prophesy what will happen in the next three days—there could be some way in which a large section of the minority could find themselves once again taken up in the political life of Northern Ireland and in the making of its laws for the whole of Northern Ireland with members from the minority.

There is only one other thing I should like to say. How can any Member of this House at present ask a loyalist to look to the South of Ireland? Do we not know that the murderers of our soldiers and policemen walk openly in the south of Ireland and boast of their crimes? Are we not aware of the fact that notable I.R.A. members hold Press conferences in Dublin and release statements to the effect that they are responsible for maiming, bombing and killing people? How can one say to the people of Northern Ireland "There is your future and you must look there for your destiny"?

Anybody who speaks of civil rights well knows that the constitution of the South of Ireland is totally unacceptable to Protestant people and cannot be accepted by them. One has only to study the figures of the Protestant population left in the south of Ireland to know that since the Border was set the Protestant population has diminished. One cannot marry two people overnight and say that they will have to spend their future together. I must say to the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East that in such circumstances there could be no marriage, because the people look not to the South of Ireland but to this House. I believe that it is in looking to this House that they will find their salvation.

Let nobody think that the people who took part in strikes seeking U.D.I. want to make Northern Ireland ungovernable or want to call the Leader of the House and Secretary of State designate a traitor. They do not even know who the right hon. Gentleman is. I do not say that in any derogatory sense. They will soon know him when he comes among them. It was a slander for a Unionist paper to headline the fact that the right hon. Gentleman belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. I am not making any comment about the Roman Catholic Church, but I say that that was a slander and was done purposely by certain Unionist interests. That sort of thing is dishonest. While we all have our faults—and no one has faults more than I have, as everybody knows in this House—Ulster's future lies in its honesty.

It is all very well for the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) to say that Mr. Faulkner would definitely resign if law and order were taken away from him. It was said that Mr. Faulkner had made that perfectly clear. The same gentleman has made many things absolutely clear in the past and has broken his word over and over again. How were the Government to know whether he was bluffing or whether it was true? It is not right to base an argument on that.

The most interesting feature of this debate is that I do not think that anyone has applied himself to the Bill. Each of us has given a general resumé of what he thinks should happen in Northern Ireland. The way before Northern Ireland can be bright if the people of Northern Ireland do not use their fists but instead use their heads, think clearly and go by the right path. But let not this House slam the door in the faces of the people of Northern Ireland and say to them "You will never be full members of the United Kingdom". If this House says that, it will put out a hope that still burns. It will leave the people of Northern Ireland in a darkness which will bring not only depression but disaster.

9.1 p.m.

Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

I am sure that the House will commend the hon. Member for Antrim,North (Rev. Ian Paisley) for a very sober and, in many ways, realistic appraisal of the situation. I agree with a good part of what he said, especially at the beginning of his remarks. I was not so keen on his later pronouncements, on which I have slightly different views.

I have listened intently to the debate, and I, too, shall not attempt to take up either the pseudo-ideological delusions of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) or the anthropological fantasies of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke). The hon. Lady is worried and confused. The hon. Gentleman believes that we might make matters worse in Northern Ireland. But matters could not be worse in Northern Ireland. The hon. Gentleman believes in the maxim, "Hurry slowly", but I believe that we must make progress.

The House listened with very great interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). I am sure that he is right in advising the Government not to include such a futile clarion call as "No discussion about the Border". My right hon. Friend usually deploys a very persuasive case. I think he is also right when he says that by threatening to withdraw our troops we can concentrate wonderfully the minds of the Irish people on both sides of this question.

I take a slightly different point of view about counter-violence. I believe that terrorism can be crushed if the side which proposes to crush it applies measures which are even more brutal than those used by the terrorists. The Nazis proved this in Occupied France. As long as they were prepared to apply methods even more brutal than those being used against them, they could crush acts of terrorism. Stalin proved the same against his enemies. However, I am not advocating the use of such methods because I do not think that any civilised country should go to such extremes.

Stormont has failed, of course. That must be admitted freely. Therefore, we welcome this Bill. I commend the courage of the Government, and I wish the Secretary of State designate well.

It is a rare pleasure in this House to pick up a copy of a Bill and not to see a final Clause reading: The provisions of this Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland. Some of us on this side of the House have been advocating such a Measure for a number of years.

I believe that the House knows about the safari which, in company with my hon. Friends the Members for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) and Salford, West (Mr. Orme), I made in 1967—some time before the present outbreak of violence occurred. It was obvious then—the report which we made to the then Home Secretary brought this home—that there was a growing resentment among the minority population in the Province because discrimination against Catholics was obvious in all spheres: in employment, in housing and politically. Gerrymandering of boundaries was another way in which the Stormont Government perpetuated themselves. With the instituting of internment, the Province, in a literal way, exploded into violence with all its tragic consequences.

It is right that we should shrink from violence, but we have to examine the situation among ourselves. In recent history we have acted violently. We acted violently, for example, in the bombing of Dresden in the Second World War. We also acted violently in Malaysia and Aden. But we justified this violence. I am not suggesting that violence is never justified. It can be justified, and we justified the violent actions which we took. I believe that violence becomes inevitable if every other avenue of protest is blocked, when political and/or economic repression cannot be other resolved.

I do not believe—I may be in disagreement with some of my hon. Friends—that constitutional change in Northern Ireland was impossible. On the contrary, I believe that constitutional change was possible. Therefore, in my opinion, the violence which erupted in the Province recently has no justification. But even in circumstances in which violent reaction must ensue, there surely can be no justification for acts of indiscriminate terrorism directed deliberately and wantonly against the helpless civilian population. Bombs in supermarkets, in restaurants, in pubs, and in other places of public resort are the acts of the thug, not of the patriot. It is my belief that no end result justifies this method. Unfortunately, violence succeeds where there is a population which tacitly accedes.

I am trying to view the position without being emotionally overcome by the terrible imposition of violence which has occurred. When I do this, I see very clearly that it is absolutely wrong that 500,000 people should be deprived of their rights and relegated to second-class citizenship. We now have the opportunity of speeding the reforms which are so necessary in Northern Ireland in housing, employment, political reform, and so on. The Bill is only the first step. In itself, it solves none of the problems of Northern Ireland. We must go even further. We must end internment, we must discuss the withdrawal of troops, and we must also discuss the unification of Ireland. In this I am sorry to disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). Integration with Britain is not on. The whole of the population of the United Kingdom must concur in this. I believe that most of our population do not want it, but if we have no integration and no Stormont and no complete independence of the Province, we are left only with unification.

Of course it is regrettable that self-government has to be withdrawn. I only wish we had taken the same action over Southern Rhodesia. It is a necessary step when the concepts of democracy which are being applied in the United Kingdom are not being practised in Northern Ireland. I am glad that we have retained the power to take this step. Late as it is, we must use the year that we have to bring about the necessary political initiatives in that unhappy Province.

9.11 p.m.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

I agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) that this Bill, which I regretfully oppose, will not solve the problems of Northern Ireland.

The suspension of Stormont, I believe, will be found to have been purchased at a very high price. There are different views about Stormont. For some in this House, it is the symbol of 50 years of oppression. For others, it is the symbol of 50 years of progress in schooling, Catholic and secular, in housing, in industrial development and in the social services.

The Stormont Parliament and Government have been served throughout by a magnificent Civil Service. I say that because of what was said earlier by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). My right hon. Friend the Lord President, whose courage in undertaking this task I salute, will, I believe, find a wonderful support in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. Latterly, however, Stormont has, if we can only be fair about it, been a powerhouse of reforming energy and of rapid advance to effective equal rights and an end to gerrymandering in local government.

Whatever one's attitude to Stormont, one cannot but agree with the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) that it is no light thing to close down a democratic assembly. We are rushing this legislation through. We are told that it must be on the Statute Book by Thursday. We are bringing to an end a Parliament closely modelled on ours, and we are bringing to an end half a century of history. I agree with those who say that it will not probably be impossible to revive Stormont—certainly not as it has been. It is a well-known fact that nothing endures like the provisional.

The legacy of British rule in Ireland was two Parliaments—one in the South and one in the North—and it was the hope that, through a Council of Ireland and in other ways, these two Parliaments would draw closer together. It was the Nationalist, Eddie McAteer, who, commenting on the initiative of Her Majesty's Government, said: Any diminution of self-government in any part of Ireland is a step backward, and it must be for the shortest possible period. That has also been the position of Mr. Conor Cruise O'Brien, of the Irish Labour Party, and it is the position of the Fine Gael.

This diminution of self-government is indeed a retrograde step and should be ended as quickly as possible. It can be brought to an end in one of two ways. The first is the total integration for which some hon. Members have argued this evening. I am not yet fully persuaded that this is the right course, despite a report in the Daily Telegraph of what I am alleged to have said at a private meeting. In fact, that report was not true. I did not commit myself to a policy of total integration.

I believe that the people of Northern Ireland, with all their passionate devotion to the Crown and profound loyalty to Britain, are not the British people but are an Irish people. It is a fact that Lord Craigavon said that he found more in common with the Nationalist Joseph Devlin than with Carson because Devlin was an Ulsterman while Carson was a Southern Irishman.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Shame on him!

Mr. Biggs-Davison

As the hon. and reverend Gentleman interrupts me, perhaps I should reply to his reference to the Press report that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is a "prominent Catholic". This is not a slander; it is a compliment. Unfortunately, he is not a Catholic. If, however, this were said to make my right hon. Friend's task in Northern Ireland more difficult, it was a dirty trick. I am sure that that is what the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) had in mind when he interrupted me, and I agree with him.

The people of Northern Ireland have their own identity and personality. For this reason I would hesitate to suggest that they should be totally integrated within the United Kingdom. They wish to remain part of the United Kingdom, and that is the wish of the overwhelming majority of them.

But at a time when we are considering devolution, we are to suppress a local Parliament at Stormont. We may wish to restore that assembly, indeed: a reformed Parliament there might set an example in regional government, an example which could be of benefit to the whole of the United Kingdom. [Interruption.]

Are certain hon. Gentlemen opposite, for example, the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon), opposed to a reformed Parliament in Northern Ireland? Surely it is worthy of consideration, noting, particularly if, by means of the plebescite, it were possible to take the Border out of day-to-day politics. That was the purpose of the Private Member's Bill which I had the honour to introduce, which received an unopposed First Reading and which matter formed part of the Prime Minister's statement on Thursday.

9.18 p.m.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) indicated his intention to oppose his party on this issue at 10 o'clock. His view is shared by some of his hon. Friends. I wish at the outset to reiterate what is already known, which is that the Labour Party will support the Government on this matter.

In recent years we have had many debates on Northern Ireland. Always, quite properly, we have discussed matters of overall policy, but in the tone of what will happen in future; rather like the Moody and Sankey hymn "In the sweet by-and-by." We have today discussed these matters in the light of reality, brought about by Government policy.

Direct rule raises a number of matters of general policy to which I shall return later in my remarks. Many of them have been discussed at length this afternoon. These are practical matters of government and of accountancy which must be cleared up if in the months ahead we in this House or to perform our job properly.

We wish to be informed at an early stage—although direct rule is a last resort, there must have been contingency plans for its introduction—about the relationship of the new Secretary of State, his Ministers and colleagues and the Departments in Northern Ireland. We shall need to be told far more about this aspect of the matter than we have so far been told.

How will the new system function? What will happen to the Cabinet Office in Northern Ireland? Will it work directly under the right hon. Gentleman? What will it do? A problem that occurs to me and that matters in this country is what will happen, for example, to the Ulster Office? Only recently praise was given to the Northern Ireland Civil Service by Sir Edmund Compton. Knowing the former rôle of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. David Howell), I think it may be that he will concern himself with the problems of the Northern Ireland Civil Service. But above all, in what ways will major aspects of policy be conducted and argued? It matters very much in economic affairs, to which I shall return shortly.

As for accountability, we have a Department and we shall have a Secretary of State. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) raised the matter of Parliamentary Questions. He presumed that they will have to be rearranged to meet the logic of this change. But what sort of questioning will be allowed? From reading the reports of Stormont, it has occurred to me that there were far more grass roots Questions allowed at Stormont, because apart from security, which is a major matter to which I shall refer, Stormont had very much the rôle of a county council. I do not say that in any offensive sense of the term. That was its very nature.

As for the burdens on Members of Parliament, we are dealing with a temporary change—at least, that is what the legislation says. There are Members of Parliament here with large constituencies, and the size of their constituencies will not be corrected before the end of the decade. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East proposed in 1969 to deal with London and to split up the big constituencies and to have the major review of parliamentary boundaries taking place in the mid-1970s, most Unionists at that time voted with the then Opposition. They were not concerned with the large constituencies in Great Britain and were quite prepared to go against the Government of the time. If there is a problem of large constituencies in Northern Ireland, there is a problem of small ones in the Belfast area. The arguments advanced for having more Members here is something that ought to be left until well into the future, until we know far more clearly what we are doing about the government of Northern Ireland.

Regarding local government in Northern Ireland, housing has been moved to Stormont. Education, health, museums and electoral registration were due to move very shortly. The last item is very important because of what we know about Northern Ireland. Those are to come; but Stormont has gone. What happens to that legislation? Is it being suggested that fundamental changes in education or electoral registration in Northern Ireland can be put through this House in an hour and a half late at night? What procedures will there be for hon. Members from all sides of the House and, of course, from Northern Ireland to raise the details of administration? What procedure will there be for raising more general matters?

Another major aspect of accountability must be raised. In the months during which I have had some responsibility in this respect I have been concerned about this matter and I raised it in the House on 26th January with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury when he was asking the House to agree to increase the limit for loans to the National Loans Fund. At that time no details were given. All that was given in the N.L.F. figure was a global sum for Northern Ireland. The Financial Secretary wrote to me later and said that none of the publications in this country gave more than total figures and that for an account of the money we had to go to the statement and accounts of the Northern Ireland Government. Having sent me those copies of those documents, the Financial Secretary said that on constitutional grounds this was the sole responsibility of the Northern Ireland Government.

There are no constitutional grounds now on which the Government can argue, and we need far more information about the financial aspects of the government of Northern Ireland. The constitutional position has changed. We need full details of moneys that go to Northern Ireland from this country. In the debates in recent months we have had one figure given, and right hon. and hon. Members say "We believe the figure is so-and-so." My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) gave a figure tonight. That was different from what I have previously heard. What are the precise figures for the amount of money collected in the United Kingdom and sent to Northern Ireland over and above what is raised there? We ought to know What money is raised locally? Large sums are involved and it would be revealing for us to know.

This is a vital subject and the answer will concentrate the minds of politicians in the South of Ireland. It will also concentrate the mind of Mr. Craig as he considers independence with no money coming from the Westminster Government. What about Harland and Wolff, for which the right hon. Gentleman is or will be the residual Minister. He will be responsible for a shipyard in which the Government hold 47½ per cent. of the equity and to which, under the old Shipbuilding Industry Board, he gave grants. I understand that Stormont was about to give further grants to the yard.

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

These are very important points because one of the biggest employers of labour in my constituency is the Harland and Wolff ship-repair yard. Who will be responsible for that in future?

Mr. Merlyn Rees

As I understand it the Lord President, by virtue of owning 47½ per cent. of the equity, also has a responsibility for shipbuilding in Southampton. I imagine that the shipyard workers in Southampton regard themselves as equally important as the shipyard workers in Belfast.

In HANSARD at column 1570 on 26th January, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury made it abundantly clear that Stormont was responsible for its own administration and for deciding the priorities for spending the money. We need information from the Government on this point.

Of the various departments that the right hon. Gentleman will control, what will be his responsibility for economic matters? The Northern Ireland Government is responsible for grants for training and operating costs. It provides fuel rebates and advance factories. It continued with grants even when the Westminster Administration changed to the system of allowances. The right hon. Gentleman will now be responsible for a development programme. There are three centres of growth—Belfast, Londonderry and Ballymena—and we will have to discuss these. Will there be a reassessment of the policy? We will want to discuss that fact that in Northern Ireland the people have the lowest average income per head of the United Kingdom with half the families below supplementary benefit level. We ought urgently to consider a development bank and agricultural marketing commissions.

Right across the board in Northern Ireland, from right to left and from orange to green, I have heard said that the question of economic development in the North cannot be considered in isolation from economic development in the South. This can be one of the first things for the Lord President to put his mind to. This is one aspect of co-operation which could begin very shortly.

On all these economic matters we realise that the situation is meant to be a temporary one, although if the last two days are anything to go by, and with the problems which the right hon. Gentleman will have with the Commission, it might well exist longer than is expected. We want information and we want the Secretary of State to consider the matter of procedure. One and a half hours' discussion, take it or leave it, late at night will not be enough.

I return to the important matters of general policy which have exercised us for the last three years and are exercising us again tonight. It is the Special Powers Act that marks Northern Ireland out as being different from any other part of the United Kingdom. It is a distinctive feature of Northern Ireland. My right hon. Friend made specific points about the regulations and asked for a White Paper. I reinforce the request and ask the Attorney-General also to put his mind to it.

As a result of my days at the Defence Department and subsequently at the Home Office, I have never been in any doubt that security should be firmly in the hands of Westminster. This is no derogation of Stormont. When I spoke of a county council just now, I had in mind the Greater London Council with its vast responsibilities. It is wrong for security to be in the hands of what some right hon. and hon. Members have called a regional parliament. The United Kingdom should control it, and that is what has happened.

What will happen to the Joint Security Council? I presume that it will go. What is to take its place? Is the Security Council to be in effect the British Cabinet? Is it to be the Secretary of State for Ireland and the Secretary of State for Defence? Who is to decide, not ultimately but in terms of discussion, the rôle of the Army? There is no doubt—this has come out time and time again in recent months—that when the Army first went in nearly three years ago, it was welcomed. It was a traumatic experience for me, who was not in the Army but in the R.A.F., to go out on patrol with the Army at night. I could not but be aware that there were sections of Belfast where the majority of people around did not welcome one. The rôle of the Army was seen by the minority to have changed, or was thought to have changed. Who is to decide about a possible changed rôle for the Army? If there is to be a change in its rôle, it should be done quietly. In many respects the right hon. Gentleman will move silently.

On the whole rôle of the Army I agreed very much with the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), with his practical experience of guerrilla warfare. We have asked the British Army in recent years, given that one-third of the population of Northern Ireland felt and behaved as it did, to fulfil an almost impossible rôle. The question of security and the Army's rôle is one that the right hon. Gentleman will have to consider.

The Prime Minister has indicated in his television broadcast and in the House his tentative views on internment. I put it no higher than that. That approach is right in the early stages. After visiting Long Kesh last October and then talking to people in the Province, I felt that on community grounds alone an error had been made. My view, or at least a value judgment—I am making no imputations—is that the Army had been against internment. It was not a step taken lightly.

I bring back from my visit to the South a possibility of a long truce, call it what one will. There are difficulties for the right hon. Gentleman. Small groups might continue violence even if major violence ceased. There are people on the fringe. There are split groups in this respect. We are not unaware of the difficulties, but we have argued right along the line since last October—perhaps the argument is still relevant to the right hon. Gentleman's policies, even though he might have other things afoot—that people should be charged if they are to be kept inside. Otherwise, they should be released.

I echo the appeal of the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), who made a courageous speech, when he appealed to the I.R.A. to cease the killings. No one could visit Northern Ireland and see what had gone on, the effect on the Protestant population alone, without questioning what the I.R.A. had in mind, even given a belief in guerrilla warfare. At the same time, I appeal to others, to Protestants perhaps now, who are getting involved. Only if the killing stops in Northern Ireland will the talking be able to get under way.

On direct rule my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) queried the "last resort". I shall use the term in the way it has been used in recent weeks. It gives the Government an opportunity for reappraisal. It gives room for hope, but direct rule has its dangers. As ever, the limits are that Protestants cannot be forced into the South and the minority must be allowed to work peaceably, talk about unification and be given a place in society. As simple as that sounds in this House, it is not universally accepted in Northern Ireland.

The hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) spoke of the feelings of many hon. Members and picked up the phrase "chief executive officer" as if there were something terrible about it even in the way in which the Secretary of State used it. Yet in Section 8(2) of the Government of Ireland Act, ever since it was passed, it has been stated: As respects Irish services the Lord Lieutenant or other chief executive officer … In spite of the fact that the words have had long years of usage, they were looked on by the hon. Member as something sinister. In a small way that shows the problems that exist. There is room for hope but room for great danger under direct rule.

The Government, like all Governments, can run into the sand on policy. We could run into the sand here. There are some who think that this will bring Protestants and Catholics together and that they will find a solution. That is one way of reading the scenario. Another way is that there could be a most bloody civil war. If I had to come down on balance, at the moment that would be my assessment of the situation. The right hon. Gentleman has been told enough and quite properly praised. He knows that in the Secretary of State's knapsack lies something which is not a baton but could be something far worse.

My right hon. Friend has said that a majority view for integration is one thing, but without support there would be grave dangers involved for security if we were to try to bring into this community a sizeable population who not only did not want to be in Northern Ireland but did not want to be part of the United Kingdom. It would also bring back boundaries into the discussion in the way that was done in 1920. Complete integration could only mean a smaller Northern Ireland, which is another aspect that has not been discussed enough.

We support the Government tonight because we believe that they are right. We shall co-operate as long as we believe that they continue to be right. In the words of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, even where we have doubts about some aspects we shall seek to build on the good. No Tory Minister could wish for better than that. Our hope is that the right hon. Gentleman will get a momentum into affairs. That is one reason why we will not wish to trammel him with too many guidelines. He might have to change them. He might frequently have to carry out that natural diplomacy which comes so naturally to my right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East. He might have to talk to the South. I hope that when he does he will remind them that there are Catholics in the North who have argued to me that in the present state of affairs they could not look at that South until the South puts its house in order. In Committee we shall look more closely at the details of what is a momentous constitutional Bill, but at this moment we shall support it on Second Reading.

9.40 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

Despite the agreeable comments of the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) about his right hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), it is obvious from his speech and the speeches which went before, and from the mood of the House at the time of the Prime Minister's statement on Friday, that no one fails to appreciate the gravity of the present situation, nor the importance of the Bill and its serious consequences. Many have said in the debate that the constitutional steps represented by the Bill are of such consequence that no Government could or would have contemplated such action unless the situation was so grave as to warrant such a serious measure.

Whatever the opinion of the critics on the correctness of this decision, I am sure that no one will do other than hope that my right hon. Friend's efforts will lead to an improvement in the conditions of life of the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Leeds, South spoke of his forebodings of bloody civil war. Maybe, but at the same time there is hope. All people in the United Kingdom know very well that the main instrument for maintaining order, indeed life, in Northern Ireland has been and is the British Army, the United Kingdom Army, Her Majesty's Forces, operating under their appropriate military command, doing their task of assisting the civil authority in carrying out its duties and responsibilities in keeping the peace and maintaining the law.

Now for one year the law under which that civil authority operates and under which all citizens live is to be the direct responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament. This Bill as was emphasised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) terminates any division of authority between Belfast and Westminster and ends a situation whereby the main instrument for maintaining order lay with Westminster whereas the responsibility, constitutionally, for maintaining law and order rested mainly with Belfast. At times such as the present and in conditions such as now exist, few will doubt that central undivided responsibility offers the better prospect for lawand order and for peace

As many hon. Members have appreciated, sombrely, if and when this Bill becomes law, then fairly and squarely there will rest upon the Government and this Parliament at Westminster responsibility for Northern Irish government, responsibility for overcoming terrorism and bringing violence to an end. After this Bill is passed it will not only be so; it will also be seen to be so. It is in the context of what the Prime Minister said on Friday that the Bill as a whole should be considered. The purposes and intentions of Her Majesty's Government are to defeat the terrorists, re-establish peace, reduce tension by the running-down of internment, provide an opportunity when practical for the people of Northern Ireland to decide their future, provide conditions and opportunities whereby they can express their undoubted desire for peace and whereby talks can begin which could lead to an acceptable and just solution to this centuries-old problem.

No one, whether peripherally concerned, or with major responsibility, such as my right hon. Friend, can approach this great problem without the deepest anxiety and, I believe, humility. Of course the Bill provides no solution. It begins a new phase. What is needed is the will to succeed in the twin task of crushing terrorism and seeking a settlement.

In winding-up the debate I must reply to the questions raised on the technical matters in the Bill. Certainly my right hon. Friend becomes the Chief Executive Officer, as the hon. Gentleman says, as respects Irish services, with all the functions of Ministers of Northern Ireland. He will discharge all the functions which belong to a Department of Northern Ireland. He authorises me to say, in response to the hon. Member for Leeds, South that he wants to discuss these questions and how best they can be handled and how best information can be supplied.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

Would my right hon. and learned Friend and the Government bear this point in mind? I note that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) made the suggestion to the Government—and would both sides bear it in mind—that Ulster Members of whatever party, and on whatever side of the House they sit, are not represented on either Front Bench. Could they be consulted, too?

Mr. Whitelaw


The Attorney-General

My hon. Friend will have heard my right hon. Friend say "certainly".

With the prorogation of the Northern Ireland Parliament, the power to legislate which was given under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, is suspended and for a year certain legislation transferred by the Act of 1920 will be enacted by Order in Council approved by both Houses of Parliament. This will be equivalent to Acts of Parliament of the Northern Ireland Parliament.

It has been suggested that some doubt exists that an Order in Council could give that consent of the Northern Ireland Parliament which is required under Section 1(2) of the Ireland Act and so avoid the Northern Ireland Parliament ever being consulted over any secession of Northern Ireland from Her Majesty's Dominions.

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said there was in the draft of his Bill a saving for union with Great Britain. As my right hon. Friend pointed out, that draft Bill provided for the dissolution of the Northern Ireland Parliament, whereas this Bill merely prorogues the Northern Ireland Parliament.

My hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe), stressed the need for complete clarification, as did the right hon. Gentleman. My right hon. Friend and the Government attach the greatest importance to making the position clear beyond any doubt. It was never the intention of the Government to effect the existing position nor do I believe that this Bill can or does affect the position as it is contained in that section of the Ireland Act. However, I understand that the right hon. Gentleman will put down an Amendment. He has been good enough to show it to my right hon. Friend and myself, and in due course the Government will recommend the acceptance of that Amendment which will make it quite clear that nothing in this Bill will derogate from, nor authorise any derogation from, the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

Many hon. Gentlemen have referred to the parliamentary procedures under which Orders in Council will in future make law for Northern Ireland in respect of matters hitherto transferred to the Northern Ireland Parliament, and so have many of my hon. and right hon. Friends. It has been stressed that this Parliament will now bear the responsibility, and we must provide a parliamentary procedure for this Bill. Under the Bill as at present drafted, orders relating to taxation must be laid before Parliament, and they will lapse within 40 days unless approved by affirmative Resolution. They are the types of limited taxation which can be levied by the Northern Irish Parliament.

Under the Bill as at present drafted all other Orders in Council will be subject to negative Resolution procedure, but as my right hon. Friend said in opening this debate, and as was emphasised by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party, it is on the Westminster Parliament that now rests the real responsibility and power.

My right hon. Friend has considered the matters raised on parliamentary procedure. He accepts the points of principle. The anxiety has been to provide machinery for matters of urgency which can arise. The Government have decided, except in the case of urgency, that the normal rule will be that no Order in Council will be made unless a draft has been approved by affirmative Resolution in each House.

However, there will be occasions when the Government will be unable to wait for an affirmative Resolution before making an order. We therefore provide that in such cases the order can be made forthwith but will lapse if not approved by affirmative Resolution within 40 sitting days. We propose to amend paragraph 4(1) of the Schedule, and the appropriate Amendment, which is not inconsiderable, I fear, will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.

The power to make regulations under the Special Powers Act cannot be delegated under the Bill by my right hon. Friend. He must retain it for himself. As the Bill is drafted, these regulations are subject to the negative procedure but an Amendment will be put on the Order Paper applying the same procedure to them as to the Orders in Council—that is to say, they will be subject to the affirmative procedure with the same urgency exceptions.

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

I am grateful to hear my right hon. and learned Friend say "40 sittings days", which excludes Saturdays and Sundays, which were included under the 1946 Act. I take it that this will be in the Amendment tomorrow?

The Attorney-General

I understand that "40 sittings days" actually means what it says.

As I have indicated, there are examples of urgency. One of these is the proposal to establish the office of Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. This affects my responsibilities under Section 1(2) of the Act. The Government of Northern Ireland had drafted legislation to create a Director of Public Prosecutions—an office hitherto non-existent. This legislation had reached an advanced stage when it was overtaken by events. The Government propose to recommend that the first Order in Council provision shall be on that legislation establishing a Director of Public Prosecutions, with a deputy director and a department of assistant directors. It will be a permanent creation of a permanent office and will outlast the temporary provisions of this Bill.

I am pleased to announce that my right hon. Friend has invited Mr. Barry Shaw, Q.C., to be Director of Public Prosecutions, and Mr. Bernard McCluskie, a solicitor of the Northern Ireland Supreme Court, to be Deputy Director. Both have accepted his invitation, if and when the Order in Council becomes effective. If so, the appointments will take effect in the near future when both are free to take up their new duties.

This means that there will be a Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland holding office during good behaviour. He will be responsible for the initiation and conduct of all major prosecutions in Northern Ireland. He will act under the superintendence of the Attorney-General, Northern Ireland—for the time being, myself—who will give him directions. Certain consents will be saved for the Attorney-General, and there will be reserved to the Attorney-General any prosecutions under the Special Powers Act, 1922. The pattern generally for the office will follow closely that proposed by the Northern Irish legislation.

The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East asked about the Government's intention about Bills now before Stormont—in particular about the Local Government Act, and the Prosecution of Offences, the Education and Libraries and the Fire Services Bill. The Local Government Bill became an Act on 23rd March. The Prosecution of Offences Bill will be taken into the Order in Council about which I have just been telling the House. The other Bills are part of a considerable body of legislation, including the Local Government Act and the Personal Health and Social Services Bill, to implement a complete reform of the local government structure. The House can be assured that the Government will carry this legislation through without any unnecessary delay. Other Bills before Stormont will have to be considered on their merits by the Secretary of State as soon as possible.

With regard to the special powers review and the Special Powers Act, of which many right hon. and hon. Members have spoken, my right hon. Friend wants to make it clear that he intends not only to review the case of each and every person who is now interned under the Special Powers Act, but he also intends to review the whole operation of the Act and of the regulations.

The hon. Member for Leeds, South posed certain questions on financial matters. I remind him of what my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said: We will continue to ensure that the financial arrangements relating to Northern Ireland make available the full amounts required for the social, industrial and other programmes in the Province."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th March, 1972; Vol. 834, c. 36.] Hon. Members, particularly my hon. Friends who represent constituencies in Northern Ireland, have expressed their fears and on some occasions their bitterness about this Measure. I will repeat what has been said solemnly and repeatedly by Ministers of both Governments: that Northern Ireland will not lose its identity as part of the United Kingdom save and unless a majority of its inhabitants so desire. Section 1 of the Ireland Act, 1949, categorically provides and affirms that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of Her Majesty's Dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. That is and remains the law.

Over and above that express provision of law there has been given a categorical pledge that there shall be from time to time as soon as it is practical a plebiscite in which the people of Northern Ireland can express their will. Unless and until the majority of the people of Northern Ireland by plebiscite express their wish to cease to be part of the United Kingdom, and the Parliament of Northern Ireland consents, Northern Ireland remains in Her Majesty's Dominions and the United

Kingdom. That remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

What the Bill alters, and alters only temporarily, is the machinery of government of a part of the United Kingdom. It does not affect by one jot the borders of the United Kingdom or the territory over which Her Majesty exercises dominion. The status, citizenship and nationality of the people of Northern Ireland remain as they are and will so remain unless and until they themselves decide otherwise.

The words of my right hon. Friend since he has taken this appointment proclaim the determination of Her Majesty's Government to mark and assert the maintenance of the territorial integrity of the Province as part of the United Kingdom while at the same time affording time and opportunity for a just political settlement.

Many men and women of moderate opinion in Northern Ireland have always distinguished between the issue of the Border and the issue of the form of Government in Northern Ireland. I appreciate that some sincerely believe that the two are synonymous, but constitutionally, legally and surely in practice they are separate and different issues. Citizens can support one and question the other.

In these conditions of crisis the Bill makes certain alterations for one year in the machinery of government established by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. It affords a single chain of authority back to the heart and centre of the United Kingdom—namely, the United Kingdom Parliament. I suggest to the House that it offers on the one hand a determination to defeat terror and lawlessness and on the other hand a hope for the future.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House Divided: Ayes 483, Noes 18.

Division No. 105.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adley, Robert Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Bidwell, Sydney
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Biffen, John
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Balniel, Lord Bishop, E. S.
Allen, Scholefield Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Blaker, Peter
Amery, Rt Hn. Julian Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Blenkinsop, Arthur
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Boardman, H. (Leigh)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Batsford, Brian Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)
Armstrong, Ernest Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Body, Richard
Astor, John Beaney, Alan Booth, Albert
Atkins, Humphrey Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Boscawen, Robert
Atkinson, Norman Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Bossom, Sir Clive
Awdry, Daniel Benyon, W. Bowden, Andrew
Bagier, Gordon, A. T. Berry, Hn. Anthony Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John
Bradley, Tom Dykes, Hugh Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Braine, Bernard Eadie, Alex Holland, Philip
Bray, Ronald Edelman, Maurice Holt, Miss Mary
Brinton, Sir Tatton Eden, Sir John Horam, John
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hordern, Peter
Broughton, Sir Alfred Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hornby, Richard
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle upon Tyne, W.) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Elliott, R. W. (Nc'tle-upon-Tyne, N. Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Emery, Peter Howell, David (Guildford)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) English, Michael Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Bruce-Gardyne, J Ewing, Harry Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Bryan, Paul Farr John Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Buchan, Norman Faulds, Andrew Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Hunt, John
Buck, Antony Fidler, Michael Hunter, Adam
Bullus, Sir Eric Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Burden, F. A. Fisher, Mrs. Dories (B'ham, Ladywood) Iremonger, T. L.
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) lrvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur(Edge Hill)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) James, David
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G.(Moray&Nairn) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Janner, Greville
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Cant, R. B. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Carlisle, Mark Foley, Maurice Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Carmichael, Neil Fookes, Miss Janet Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Ford, Ben Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Forrester, John Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Fortescue, Tim Jessel, Toby
Channon, Paul Foster, Sir John John, Brynmor
Chapman, Sydney Fowler, Norman Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Fox, Marcus Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Churchill, W. S. Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Fraser, John (Norwood) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Freeson, Reginald Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gardner, Edward Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Clegg, Walter Garrett, W. E. Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Cockeram, Eric Gilbert, Dr. John Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Jopling, Michael
Cohen, Stanley Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Coleman, Donald Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Judd, Frank
Concannon, J. D. Glyn, Dr. Alan Kaufman, Gerald
Conlan, Bernard Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Cooke, Robert Goodhew, Victor Kershaw, Anthony
Coombs, Derek Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Cooper, A. E. Gorst, John Kinsey, J. R.
Cordle, John Gower, Raymond Kirk, Peter
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Kitson, Timothy
Cormack, Patrick Grant, George (Morpeth) Knox, David
Costain, A. P. Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Lambie, David
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Gray, Hamish Lambton, Lord
Crawshaw, Richard Green, Alan Lamond, James
Cronin, John Grieve, Percy Lane, David
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Lawson, George
Crowder, F. P. Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Leadbitter, Ted
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Curran, Charles Grylls, Michael Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Dalyell, Tam Gummer, Selwyn Le Marchant, Spencer
Davidson, Arthur Gurden, Harold Leonard, Dick
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Lestor, Miss Joan
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hamilyton, William (Fife, W.) Lipton, Marcus
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James Hamling, William Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th Langstone)
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hannam, John (Exeter) Lomas, Kenneth
Deakins, Eric Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Longden, Gilbert
Dean, Paul Hardy, Peter Loughlin, Charles
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Harper, Joseph Loveridge, John
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Luce, R. N.
Delargy, H. J. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Dempsey, James Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Dixon, Piers Haselhurst, Alan MacArthur, Ian
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Havers, Michael McBride, Neil
Doig, Peter Hawkins, Paul McCann, John
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Hay, John McCrindle, R. A.
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn, Alec Hayhoe, Barney McElhone, Frank
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward McGuire, Michael
Drayson, G. B. Hicks, Robert Mackenzie, Gregor
Driberg, Tom Higgins, Terence L. Mackie, John
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hiley, Joseph Mackintosh, John P.
Duffy, A. E. P. Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) McLaren, Martin
Dunnett, Jack Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Macmillian, Maurice (Farnham)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Peel, John Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
McNamara, J. Kevin Pentland, Norman Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Maddan, Martin Percival, Ian Strang, Gavin
Madel, David Perry, Ernest G. Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Sutcliffe, John
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Pike, Miss Mervyn Tapsell, Peter
Marks, Kenneth Pink, R. Bonner Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Marquand, David Prescott, John Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow.Cathcart)
Marsden, F. Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Marshall, Dr. Edmund Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Tebbit, Norman
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Temple, John M.
Mawby, Ray Quennell, Miss J. M. Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Raison, Timothy Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Meacher, Michael Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Mendelson, John Redmond, Robert Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Meyer, Sir Anthony Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Tilney, John
Millan, Bruce Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Tinn, James
Miller, Dr. M. S. Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Tomney, Frank
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Rees, Peter (Dover) Torney, Tom
Milne, Edward Rees-Davies, W. R. Trew, Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Tuck, Raphael
Mitchell, Lt. -Col. C.(Aberdeenshire,W) Richard, Ivor Tugendhat, Christopher
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Urwin, T. W.
Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Ridsdale, Julian van Straubenzee, W. R.
Moate, Roger Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Varley, Eric G.
Money, Ernle Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Monks, Mrs. Connie Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaka) Waddington, David
Monro, Hector Roper, John Wainwright, Edwin
More, Jasper Rose, Paul B. Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Rost, Peter Wallace, George
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Royle, Anthony Walters, Dennis
Morrison, Charles Russell, Sir Ronald Ward, Dame Irene
Moyle, Roland St. John-Stevas, Norman Warren, Kenneth
Mudd, David Sandelson, Neville Watkins, David
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Weitzman, David
Murray, Ronald King Scott, Nicholas Wellbeloved, James
Murton, Oscar Scott-Hopkins, James Wells, John (Maidstone)
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Sharples, Richard Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Neave, Airey Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Nicholls, Sir Harmar Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Shelton, William (Clapham) Whitehead, Phillip
Normanton, Tom Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Nott, John Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.) Whitlock, William
Oakes, Gordon Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wiggin, Jerry
Ogden, Eric Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
O'Halloran, Michael Sillars, James Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
O'Malley, Brian Silverman, Julius Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Onslow, Cranley Simeons, Charles Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Sinclair, Sir George Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Oram, Bert Skinner, Dennis Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Orme, Stanley Small, William Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Osborn, John Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Oswald, Thomas Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Spearing, Nigel Woodnutt, Mark
Page, Graham (Crosby) Speed, Keith Woof, Robert
Palmer, Arthur Spence, John Worsley, Marcus
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Spriggs, Leslie Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Pardoe, John Sproat, Iain Younger, Hn. George
Parker, John (Dagenham) Stanbrook, Ivor
Parkinson, Cecil Steel, David TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Mr. Reginald Eyre and Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Biggs-Davison, John Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Chichester-Clark, R. Molyneaux, James Wilkinson, John
Critchley, Julian Paisley, Rev. Ian Winterton, Nicholas
Devlin, Miss Bernadette Pounder, Rafton
Kilfedder, James Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McManus, Frank Skeet, T. H. H. Mr. Angus Maude and Captain L.P.S. Orr
McMaster, Stanley Soref, Harold
Maginnis, John E.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Murton.]

Committee tomorrow.