§ Mr. Speaker
I have selected the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude); namely, in Clause 1, page 2, line 36, leave out 'a', and insert 'such'; and in line 36, leave out 'of one year', and insert 'as the Order may specify'.
§ 9.20 a.m.
§ Mr. Maude
I beg to move in Clause 1, page 2, line 36, leave out 'a', and insert 'such'.
I should like at the same time to discuss the other Amendment selected by Mr. Speaker.
The purpose of this brief pair of Amendments is to substitute for the words that the sectionshall continue in force for a further period of one year from the time at which it would otherwise expirethe wordsshall continue in force for such further period as the Order may specify".This relates to a point which was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) who pointed out that, as the Bill is at present drafted, it is a singularly inflexible provision. It means that the Government cannot provide that the continuation of the Bill at the end of one year should be for a less period than one year or that it cannot be for a slightly longer period than one year.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State-designate said in reply to another debate that serious difficulties could arise if it should happen that at the time the Bill came up for renewal or when the Government wanted it to end important legislation was still on its way through what might be called the sausage machine. Therefore, it would clearly be for the benefit of the Government if it were possible to make this small Amendment so as to leave them with a more flexible power to extend this for a period. It is obvious that they would not wish to make the period markedly longer, but it would give them the ability to adjust it for a shorter period.
§ Sir Elwyn Jones
Does the effect of what the hon. Gentleman proposes mean that, if the Government so willed, they could introduce an order to have effect for 10 years? I thought that one of the burdens of complaint in the debate in the small hours was not from a desire to give greater power of indefinite extension, but from a desire to restrict and limit it. I am surprised at the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Maude
The object of the Amendment is to give the Government greater 766 flexibility upwards and downwards. We have frequently been assured by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that they would have no intention of coming to the House asking for a longer period. The Secretary of State-designate said that there were certain difficulties which he foresaw arising if he had legislation of importance which had not completed its passage at the point where he would be wanting to renew the powers. If he has no alternative but to renew for a complete extra year it is perfectly possible that he might find himself having to continue the suspension of the Northern Ireland Parliament for a longer period than he would want to. It seems reasonable that he should have this flexibility.
§ Mr. Channon
We debated this point earlier in Committee when it was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). The question was whether subsection (5) was too rigidly worded inasmuch as an order can only be made continuing the powers for a period of one year and neither a greater nor less period can be specified. If the Amendment were carried I must advise the House that it would have the effect mentioned by the right hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Sir Elwyn Jones).
The Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) would empower my right hon. Friend to recommend to Parliament by Order in Council that an order be made not for one year but for such period, either greater or less than one year. It would be possible to envisage a situation where someone made an order for 10 years. It is an unlikely proposition maybe, but nevertheless under the terms of the Amendment this could be done.
My right hon. Friend and I have given assurances about this, and I wonder whether my hon. Friend would really like this provision to be in the Statute. My hon. Friend seeks to give my right hon. Friend more flexibility so that the period does not have to be for one year but can be reduced. In practice, as I tried to explain in Committee, I do not think that the fact that it is worded as being for one year will make any substantial difference. If during the course of a year a new situation arose it would almost inevitably require legislation to 767 be placed before this House to deal with that situation. Such new legislation would include, probably, the repeal of this Measure. There need be no worry on my hon. Friend's part that the subsection is restrictively worded so as to compel my right hon. Friend to continue these powers longer than he would otherwise want to.
At the conclusion of this period some form of legislation would be required and the repeal of this Measure could be included in such legislation. I hope the House will agree that on balance it is better to keep the Bill as it is rather than incorporate a provision which might allow future Secretaries of State to ask for an order, if the House approved, directing that the powers should not expire in one year but possibly continue for some greater period than presently envisaged. I would have thought, knowing that this House is jealous of its rights and seeks to guard against the Executive taking such arbitrary powers, that it would be wiser to allow the Bill to remain as it is. I understand my hon. Friend's wish to help and make matters more flexible, but I believe that it would widen too greatly the discretion to make Orders in Council for these purposes.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
In Northern Ireland the effect of this might be read as being likely to give this House much greater power to renew for a longer period than is contemplated.
§ Mr. Channon
It would give such powers, and I do not think that the House, if I sense the mood of the House during these long hours, is likely to approve of that.
We all want the House to be jealous of its rights in these matters, and it would not be right for the Amendment to be accepted.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 9.30 a.m.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
We have come to the end of a long road and to an end, 768 for the moment, of discussion of the Bill. The House has tonight, I believe, learned something of the kind of burden it has put upon itself—because it is by its own action that the burden has arisen.
We still believe that this step is the wrong step in the wrong way at the wrong time. Although the Bill has been marginally improved and we have managed to get the Government to do something to improve a little the morale of those in Northern Ireland who believe in the link with the United Kingdom, the Government have left a situation in which they have made it mandatory upon themselves to appoint a Commission. This seems to us still a sack which they have slung around their own necks, from around which they may well suffer much in the future and which they may come to regret.
There is a great deal more to be said against this Bill. Having said that, however, most of what is necessary has been said about the Bill, and I suggest to my hon. Friends that they should take the last opportunity to try to cut the throat of the Bill.
§ 9.32 a.m.
§ Mr. McNamara
I have no intention of detaining the House for long, but merely to say that the Bill goes a long way to meet many of the criticisms hon. Members on this side were making of the policy of Her Majesty's Government over the past year.
We have had first the transfer of security. While some have said that this has been done because of the dual control of power over security matters, to me, representing a Hull constituency, a British constituency, it was more important that, throughout the whole period during which the county of Yorkshire has been supplying so many casualties of the British Army—during these troublesome times—as a constituency Member in Yorkshire I have not had the right to criticise or to have access on the question of command decisions which were being taken and were placing my constituents in jeopardy. I therefore particularly welcome the transfer of security. The House will recall that this is a point which I have specifically urged all the time—that we as a House should control what happens to British soldiers.
I would also say that we welcome the suspension of Stormont. My hon. Friend 769 the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) and his colleagues in the Social Democratic and Labour Party, as well as other hon. Members on this side, have, in the long run, all thought that we should see that if Stormont were suspended, there would be given, perhaps, an opportunity for a fresh start. It was perhaps only a glimmer of hope, a little shred of light in the dark gloom, but a chance which exists now which did not exist before. We therefore welcome this suspension of Stormont and also welcome what the Secretary of State designate said about the possibility of talks, but I urge on him, as during our debates, that what he said about the position of internment and special powers we still do not find satisfactory.
We appreciate his problems. We do not deny them. But he in his turn must realise that internment and the special powers go to the root of these troubles—the arbitrary use of power and the possibility that it may be used not in the interests of equality before the law but for the domination of one political sect by another. It is this with which he has to grapple. I am sure that he will do it with good conscience and to the best of his ability, but as speed is of the essence in the whole of this situation, it is something he must do quickly.
I should be wrong if I were to say to the House, granted this Bill gives a breathing space, perhaps an opportunity and time for the majority to reassess their position within Ireland, that I regard this as more than just a phasing out of an unhappy experiment in the history of Ireland. The only successful solution which can come will not be when we in this House impose solutions upon the people of Ireland but when we, with our unhappy history of interference in that island, have a situation in which we get the ordinary, representative Irish people around the table to decide their own future. The conclusion they must inevitably come to, as the Prorogation of that subordinate Parliament shows, is that there can only be an Ireland United in one form or another.
§ 9.37 a.m.
§ Captain Orr
I simply want to say, as we come to the end of this long discussion on the Bill, a very brief word of appreciation to the Ministers who have sat through the night—and, indeed, 770 to others who have sat through the night—for their courtesy and forbearance. It was necessary, since we have a Bill bringing to an end for the time being representative government in a part of the United Kingdom, that this House should have proper opportunity of discussing it in full. Therefore I make no apology—I do not imagine anybody would expect one—for the fact that the House has sat for so many long hours.
We have had a remarkably full discussion, but I am bound to say at the end of the day that, however agreeable Ministers may have been, they have in fact presided over a very, very bad Bill The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) spoke of arbitrary power. If ever there were arbitrary power, this is it. It is temporary, it is true, but arbitrary it is. All that one can do is to pray and hope that my right hon. Friend, shortly to be the Secretary of State, will be wise in the exercise of this Draconian authority.
I described this Bill at the beginning as a Bill of surrender. It is also a Bill which contains the seeds of division and dissolution. I pray to God that I may be wrong. I wish Ministers well in the effort to prove me so.
§ 9.39 a.m.
§ Miss Devlin
It is not my intention at this hour of the morning to detain the House for long on Third Reading of the Bill. I have stated clearly why I felt it necessary for me to vote against the Bill before, and I still believe it necessary for me to vote against it if the House divides on Third Reading. The Bill, even as amended in Committee, still presents us with fundamental problems. While I am glad to see Stormont coming to an end, I do not believe that what we are replacing it with is essentially any better in the sense of moving towards democracy. It is just a more polite, more refined way of depriving the people in Northern Ireland of democracy.
I believe that the Secretary of State designate will find when he gets to Northern Ireland that many of the problems which have been spoken of in this House are less real than the kinds of problem he will meet there. The problem will not be whether things are dealt with in Orders in Council and whether under the affirmative or negative procedure, but whether 771 people believe him and accept his credibility, the work he is doing and his motivation. If he is to take any chance of using the breathing space the Tory Government have won—for themselves, not for the people of Northern Ireland—and if it is to be used in the interests of the people, he must view the demands made in Northern Ireland in terms of their hard reality.
I speak only for those demands made by the civil rights movement, the civil disobedience movement, the civil resistance movement. The right hon. Gentleman may well face a civil disobedience campaign from the Vanguard movement. He must remember that he still faces and will continue to face a civil disobedience campaign from the minority community, until such time as the last internee is released. There is no point in saying that that is not the case, because each organisation has said it is, and the right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to realise that.
He would also be well advised to remember that despite the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) has said that he and his party are willing and eager to co-operate, my hon. Friend has also pointed out that he and his party are still unable to do so until the question of internment has been dealt with. I should like to bring the matter down to a practical level by telling the House of one person who has been interned, Mr. Sean Keenan, a man from the city of Derry, who is serving his 11th year in an internment camp, never having appeared in a court charged with as much as a motoring offence in his life. When he was released for 48 hours to bury his son in Derry some weeks ago I asked him his opinion on the phasing out of internment. That man, who is now 63 or 64 and who, with all respect to him, looks about 74 because of his life year after year in various camps, said, "Don't talk to me about phasing out internment. The last time they phased it out I waited four long years for my turn to come." That was quite true. He was one of the first to go in during the 1950s and on0e of the last out in the 1960s.
I ask the Secretary of State designate to remember that the words "phasing out internment" hold no reality for the internees. He may face another prob- 772 lem from the internees, in that they will not be prepared to play the game of hostages. For the right hon. Gentleman to say that 100 can go and if everybody outside behaves more will be released is to put the onus for the Government's own Special Powers Act on the wrong shoulders. The Special Powers Act and internment cannot be justified and explained away by saying, "If the men of violence stop the violence we shall stop our State official violence." That is not good enough, and it will not work, because the internees will not be prepared to play the rôle of hostages when it is said, "That hundred will go and this hundred will stay." They may well say that they are not going until they go as free men and no longer have to sign those ridiculous bits of paper. They may well say, "We are not going until you accept that internment was wrong and stop hounding men."
Again my advice to the Secretary of State is to stop hounding the men he has not yet managed to put in the camps. Let the men come home. Let them live with their families. If those men had the right to go home without fear of internment and were allowed to live with their families, the right hon. Gentleman would not have the problem of the so-called I.R.A. in the South. That is a practical problem which he will have to face.
I am sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite realise what they will have to face from the Protestant population who now feel that they can no longer take the word of any Minister. They will be feeling the way the Catholic community have felt for 50 years. They will be putting the Minister's words to the test of credibility, and he will have to prove that he is prepared to be fair. To be fair is not to hammer one side as toughly as he hammered the other.
I wish to make it perfectly clear on behalf of the people I represent that if the Secretary of State designate signs an internment order for one solitary member of the Protestant community he will still have us to account to. We have fought a campaign against the internment of people without trial in Northern Ireland and we will not be told that it is now respectable, fair-minded and liberal legislation. Perhaps the people in Shankhill will have to face the 773 midnight searchings, the raids without warning, the driving off of their fathers and the building of separate internment camps in which to keep them.
Let the Minister and the Government be aware that we in the civil rights movement and the civil resistance movement will not stand for it. We will not just watch because British policy has changed. We are not prepared to see meted out to the Protestant population the treatment that has been meted out to us for 50 years.
§ 9.46 a.m.
§ Mr. Biffen
Anyone who reflects on the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) will realise the tremendous burdens that bear upon the designate Secretary of State. I am sure that all on this side of the House, and the overwhelming majority of those on the Opposition benches, whatever reservations and hesitations they may have on the policy contained in the Bill, will extend to my right hon. Friend their heartfelt best wishes because they know that the task which he undertakes is one of the most formidable that could confront any person in British politics.
The Bill is about the assertion of authority, the assertion of the right to give law and the expectation that that law shall be observed. Nothing could be more thorough and precise than the wording of Clause 1(1)(b):all functions which…belong…to…a department of the Government of Northern Ireland shall be discharged by the Secretary of State".For our own political protection we must realise that this state of affairs has come about at least in part as a result of the determined action of those who are anarchistically motivated and who have had as their objective the overthrow of that citadel of authority, the Northern Ireland Stormont Parliament. But make no mistake, those people have as their objective the overthrow of that authority whether it derives from the Dail or from Westminster. That is one measure of the formidable undertaking which we have embarked upon.
We shall be obliged to see that there is the closest possible identification of the people to whom this law will apply with the new law-giving institutions, pre-eminent of which is the House of Commons. My hon. Friend the Member 774 for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) was quite right when he reminded us that we have just been given an initial inkling into what lies ahead now that the House takes upon itself through the Bill the intimate responsibilities for law giving and law enforcement in Northern Ireland. It places upon each and every one of us a solemn responsibility to be more intimately concerned with the affairs of our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland. The least we can offer is proper, full-hearted and detailed concern with the affairs of Northern Ireland.
§ 9.50 a.m.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)
I join my right hon and hon. Friends in wishing well to the new Secretary of State. At the same time, however, at this late hour, particularly on probably his last day in office, I must pay a tribute to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. His courage, leadership, faultless restraint and unashamed patriotism have been an example to all of us in Government and on the back benches alike. The sense of hurt is not confined to the loyal people of Ulster. In the clubs and pubs, the people I meet are shocked. They admired Mr. Faulkner and felt that he was treated unjustly. In all honesty, I cannot see how any Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from this side of the water, for all his magnanimous intentions and for all the great respect in which we hold him, and even diligently assisted as he will be by able and liberal-minded lieutenants, is an advance. Even the Fine Gael party in the Republic regards the prorogation of Stormont as retrograde, as does that eminent nationalist Mr. Eddie McAteer.
I do not see how a Secretary of State, with quasi-viceregal powers, advised by an appointed Commission from which the majority have withdrawn their participation in advance, is somehow more competent than a locally-born and bred Prime Minister advised by a democratically-elected Cabinet and Parliament from which only the minority have withdrawn their support. How is the alienation of the majority preferable to the alienation of the minority? Now, as the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Mis Devlin) has said, we have the alienation of both, and success in the anti-terrorist operations depends on the whole-hearted support of the majority just as much as terrorism 775 in Ulster is dependent on the enforced or freely-given support of the minority.
In opposing the Bill I am not expressing an aversion to political movement; indeed, it is the very fact that room for political manoeuvre is reduced which leads me to oppose it. The careful relaxation of internment could have won over the minority, but the destruction of the Northern Ireland constitution is a fatal blow to majority support. I am not averse to organic constitutional change or to reform by consent. But what happend in the inter-governmental negotiations was that proposals were put by Her Majesty's Government which they themselves knew must have been unacceptable to the Government of Northern Ireland. Further to suggest that the democratically-elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland are not even to be allowed responsibility for their own police is to deprive them not just of the responsibility of a coconut colony but of a county council, and that was bound to be unacceptable.
I wish the Secretary of State designate and his colleagues well, but I am afraid that in Ulster, as here, the Bill will be seen as an act of diktat imposed against the will of the majority; it will implicitly be construed as a victory for terrorism and inasmuch as that is so it is a defeat for us all.
§ 9.55 a.m.
§ Mr. Fitt
I view the Third Reading of the Bill with mixed feelings. I have supported the Government on Second Reading and throughout the Committee stage. It is with a certain amount of regret that I have found myself opposing Ulstermen throughout the Committee stage. As an Ulsterman, though a Roman Catholic, it was my hope that possibly there would be some common ground on which all Ulster representatives could find themselves acting in concert.
I agree with the Government in bringing Stormont to an end. I have always considered that Stormont, since its creation, was a total disaster. It did nothing to bring together the two communities in Northern Ireland. It only created a deep divide, with those in one section of the community feeling that they were an oppressed minority and those in the majority section deluded into believing 776 that somehow they were just that little better than those in the minority.
It was because of the existence of Stormont that we had such tragedy, and I do not just mean throughout the last three or four years since the beginning of the civil rights movement. We have had institutional violence. We have had violence by diktat. We have had violence by decree from Stormont and the agencies of Stormontat local authority level. After a 50-year trial period for this type of government, certainly we could not enter the second half-century with the prospect of continuing the disaster through which we have lived in Northern Ireland.
From different points of view, many of us do not find the Bill satisfactory. I applaud the demise of Stormont, whereas hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies on the Unionist side will view the passing of Stormont with regret. But neither of us can be satisfied. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin) has underlined the fact that unless and until the internment problem is settled there can be no hope of co-operation between the Secretary of State and the minority representatives in Northern Ireland. I recognise that there are many hon. Members on the Government side and a few on this side of the House who believe that we have adopted an intransigent attitude when we have talked of releasing internees on to the streets. I know that many Protestants in Northern Ireland say that every internee is a gunman, a bomber and a potential murderer, and that it is unrealistic for me and my colleagues to advocate the release of internees as they would continue their campaign of violence.
There are many violent men in Northern Ireland, and they are not confined to one section of the community. Even in the last two or three hours an attempt has been made on the life of my colleague in the S.D.L.P., Ivan Cooper, by placing a bomb under his car. It is possible that we shall never know who was responsible, but I do not believe that the bomb was planted by a member of the minority community. So it will be seen that there are violent men at work throughout Northern Ireland.
On Second Reading I said that I hoped the enactment of the Bill would in some way do something to de-escalate the 777 violence that we have seen for so long in Northern Ireland. If it gave us a breathing space, there would be many people throughout Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland and Great Britain who would say that the hours that we have spent here had been worth while. But we who represent Northern Ireland constituencies know only too well that this legislation has been bought at a terrible cost. There are thousands of people in Northern Ireland who have suffered grievous injury because of the campaign of violence. There are men, women, boys and girls who have lost their limbs. What will a united Ireland mean to them? They will never again have their full physical capabilities. They have paid a high price for the legislation which we are bringing in.
I regard this legislation as necessary but as coming far too late. I believe that Stormont should never have been created, because it was so symbolic of racial superiority of one section of the community over the other.
I believe that throughout the night and early hours of this morning Unionist Members here, from their point of view, from what they regard as being in the best interests of their constituents, have fought from their corner for what they believe to be right. I have been in that position for many years in both Stormont and, indeed, this House. When I have attempted to put forward my views I have seldom been on the winning side when the votes were cast. Therefore I do not regard this as a victory over the Unionist representatives here. I regard this legislation as a step towards sanity in Northern Ireland.
I and my party desperately want to give this legislation a chance to succeed. We will endeavour, if we are given the opportunity, to co-operate with the Secretary of State designate and the Ministers whom he may appoint to conduct Northern Ireland affairs. However, there is the obstacle of internment. We believe that the people who have been interned without trial should be released. We cannot accept that internment in any circumstances is justified. We believe that it is immoral and unjust.
I hope that this legislation will help to put an end to the violence. I hope that we will be given an opportunity to co-operate with the new Secretary of State and—I make this appeal—with the 778 Unionist representatives to whom we have been opposed for the past 50 years. Let us take this opportunity to try to build a new Northern Ireland and a new Ireland.
§ 10.2 a.m.
§ Mr. McMaster
I shall deal very shortly with the speech made by the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt). At an earlier stage the hon. Gentleman mentioned that the duties of a Northern Ireland Member of Parliament at Westminster were restricted purely to the Army or foreign affairs. He will know that Short Bros., Harland and Wolff, and other such matters can easily be worked in. However, I do not intend to mention those matters now.
I should like my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General to deal with certain points which I raised some 18 hours ago. I thought I had an understanding with the Secretary of State designate. Perhaps I was wrong. In Committee we had a debate on an Amendment which referred to the effects of prorogation on the Northern Ireland Parliament. Unfortunately my right hon. and learned Friend was not present at the time—nor indeed was there anybody in the Box—so he was not able to deal with the many interesting legal points raised by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides.
Has my right hon. and learned Friend now had an opportunity of looking into the points which were raised during that debate? Has he decided whether the Speaker of the House of Commons in Northern Ireland is the person who would be in a position to move a Writ if there were a decision to move a Writ to fill a vacancy? What would be the position if, as came out later in the debate, the Bill were extended for a number of years? Will there be any procedure to fill vacancies which may occur so that, if the Northern Ireland Parliament is restored, there will still be some semblance of a Parliament there?
What is the effect of prorogation on the quinquennial Act? Will it affect the life of Parliament? Will it be restricted to five years? If the Bill is extended, will Parliament come to an end in two or three years? Will there have to be a General Election in Northern Ireland? These are important matters. If my right hon. and learned Friend has had time to consider 779 them, perhaps he is in a position to deal with them.
I should say briefly, in reply to the points made by the hon. Member for Belfast, West and the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin), that as I see it the main sticking point is internment. In turn I should like to make a plea to the hon. Member for Belfast, West. I resent—as would any lawyer—the idea of internment without trial as much as any other hon. Member. I feel that it is an undesirable step. But the hon. Member himself referred to the fact that in Northern Ireland, sporadically over the the last 50 years, there has been a campaign of violence which, in the last two years, has escalated in an alarming fashion.
The hon. Member referred to the bomb placed in a car of his friend Mr. Ivan Cooper. I would refer to the cases concerning John Taylor, Senator Barnhill and others, and to the terrible incidents in the Abercorn Restaurant and Jock McGurk's Bar, when there were multiple deaths and horrible injuries. In one case one girl lost both her arms, one leg and an eye, and her sister lost a leg. What a tragedy that was for their family! That was just one of many similar tragedies. Furthermore, witnesses are intimidated and even shot. It seems important to me that the strongest measures should be taken to bring those responsible to trial. If it is found impossible to try them, at least they should be placed under restraint.
The Home Secretary referred to these people as psychopaths, and he might be right. Whether or not they are psychopaths, and whether or not they are responsible for their actions, there are people behind them who are planning these actions and supplying these persons with guns and arms. They must be rooted out and confined until the terrorism is over.
In the light of all those circumstances, I plead with the hon. Member for Belfast, West to agree that this legislation provides most of the things that he and his party have sought. Stormont has been suspended. I ask him and his party to sit round a table with us to try to thrash out the political solution on which the future of Ulster and the United Kingdom must depend.
780 Government depends on consent, and what we are in danger of losing in the Bill is the consent of the majority. When dealing with the doctrine of internment one must remember the effect upon the majority of these vile and atrocious actions. Is it reasonable to expect people to allow the Government to give up interment without showing some reaction? I ask the hon. Member to consider the number of deaths and injuries. I ask him and his friends to reflect on these points, to try to be reasonable and to come forward to the conference table.
§ 10.8 a.m.
§ Mr. Derek Coombs (Birmingham, Yardley)
I shall speak very briefly in support of the Bill. Reason and common sense are not always attributes which can be plucked out of the maelstrom of Irish politics, but unless we find reasoned moderation there can be no hope. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet have shown real guts in taking a decision which most Administrations, whatever the circumstances, would have shirked.
Whether or not one agrees with the initiative of the Government—and there are bound to be mixed feeling about this—what we must surely accept is that now that the decision has been reached there can be no going back. What is most important is the interpretation that will be given in Northern Ireland to the temper of this debate. Fortunately, it has been reasonably moderate. I hope that this moderation will continue outside.
We all share one common goal—to achieve peace, even though we may differ as to how best it may be achieved. Protestant feelings are understandably very sensitive, and I hope that we shall not do anything or say anything, however strongly we feel—and I am talking particularly about the next few weeks—which might encourage a backlash of any kind. That is precisely what the I.R.A. want.
The I.R.A. parade themselves as defenders of the Catholic community, and there is no doubt that many Catholics joined the I.R.A. not so much because they believed in them, only because they felt that they had no other alternative.
I think there are now clear signs that these people can be weaned away for they do not share the real aim of much of the I.R.A. hierarchy, which is the total 781 destruction of society as we know it throughout Ireland. To my mind these leaders of the I.R.A. are deeply disturbed by London's initiative and now rely wholly on threats of extremist Protestant feeling to secure their position again within the Catholic community. There can be no doubt that if this is not forthcoming the I.R.A. will ultimately wither away. Surely it is right therefore to ask Protestant fellow citizens to dignify themselves and their cause by acting responsibly and helping to work out sensible proposals with the new Secretary of State.
I do not believe that any solution can honourably fail to take account of the wishes of the majority, and I am talking not just about the Border, which has already been guaranteed, but also about the composition of government which one hopes will be reborn in Northern Ireland and ultimately developed on a non-sectarian basis. If the British Government were foolish enough to take any decision which did not take rightful account of the majority interest, that must surely be the time for Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Craig to adopt a policy of non-co-operation. But this is not that time, certainly not now. Otherwise, they will not only play into the hands of the I.R.A. but will demonstrate that they are no better than some of the people they despise.
Surely a politician cannot talk about law and order in government and then not strongly condemn anarchy and disruption outside. Putting it mildly or obliquely is not enough. These double standards only encourage hooliganism by the minority—we have seen this with the Tartan Gang already—and awaken cynicism about their leaders' interpretation of right and wrong which seems dependent on whether they are in or out of office. Mr. Craig should ponder on this, for he and other leaders, particularly Mr. Faulkner, will have the most important part to play in the reconstruction and rebuilding of the land they love, and I refer only to Northern Ireland. It would indeed be tragic and ironic if these same leaders who have dedicated themselves to the destruction of the I.R.A. should unwittingly encourage its continued existence and so guarantee it a permanent rôle in the life of their country.
If there is a time for moderation and an opportunity for peace, it is surely now. 782 I wish my right hon. Friend the new Secretary of State well in what is a tremendous task and congratulate him on his choice of junior ministers. In all I think he has an excellent team which must surely have the best chance of stopping the senseless killing, but he is certainly going to need every ounce of support that we in the House of Commons can muster.
§ 10.13 a.m.
§ Mr. Orme
Those of us who have been in this Chamber since 3.30 p.m. yesterday have experienced an historic occasion. The debate has been conducted in a manner in which I hope the debate will continue in Northern Ireland. All hon. Members will agree that there have been forthright speeches and points of view have been expressed in a way which was a credit to the House during the last 12 or 14 hours. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Coombs) had the courage openly to criticise Mr. Craig and Mr. Faulkner forthrightly in a similar way to the criticism by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) of both wings of the I.R.A.
This Bill gives us a fresh chance, not to resolve the problem but to make a start. That is why I am pleased that good humour has been shown in discussion of the Amendments. I do not think we could have an Irish debate in which no humour was involved.
The strikes and demonstrations which have occurred recently, and the alliance which seems to have sprung up between Mr. Craig and Mr. Faulkner, appear to indicate that the trouble is far from over. If all options are left open, so that all issues can be discussed, if we do not try to sweep our differences under the carpet, if we say that the Border is an issue and should be debated in an open political manner, we have a chance at least of examining the problems. We have a chance of giving reassurance to the minority and at this time to the majority.
The people of Northern Ireland must be reminded of the responsibility Britain has in terms of finance. We must remind them that the British people might not take it too kindly if opportunities are missed when they are provided under the Bill.
783 There are the major problems or the Special Powers Act, internment, and the fact that Stormont has been prorogued. I hope that we can get some understanding. Everybody has expressed his views freely and frankly. Hon. Members know that I favour a united Ireland. I believe that it will come inevitably, but I do not believe that it will come by trying to force either the majority or the minority into accepting something they do not want. I believe, however, that perhaps more quickly than many people think, they will come to accept such a change. In the last two years we have seen changes of such a nature that anything could happen. We could move either to disaster or to a peaceful solution.
The Secretary of State designate has a very difficult job ahead of him. He goes into it with a great deal of good will from the House of Commons. He will not have unlimited time. We often talk about the honeymoon period in Ireland. I was in Northern Ireland when the Labour Government sent British troops there at the request of the minority to protect the minority. At that time I said to Ministers, "The Catholic community welcome British troops, but it will not be for an indefinite period. Things can and will change". The right hon. Gentleman must strike while the iron is hot to try to get some détente, to take the heat out of the present situation.
It will not be easy. People will not forget either 50 or 300 years of history. Those of us who have taken part throughout the whole of this three-day debate know that history plays a large part in the Irish question. We are now in 1972. I am one who has consistently taken the side of the minority in regard to civil rights. I want the people of Northern Ireland to have the same rights as all other people in the United Kingdom have. I take that stand purely on that basis.
Those of us on this side who have spent the night here have not done this out of any spirit of antagonism towards the Protestant majority. I recognise that they are working people and that they have a right to a place in the sun. They have fears which must be allayed. I believe that it can be done. I believe that many of their fears are unjustified and misguided, but their fears do exist. We have seen that from some of the speeches, 784 not least from the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). Nevertheless I believe that a meeting can be arranged and I hope that this Bill will be the beginning of the meeting.
§ 10.21 p.m.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I do not intend to detain the House for long. We have had a long, strong, hard, sometimes humorous and sometimes serious debate, and I think it has been in the highest standards of the traditions of British democracy.
My heart tonight is sore after the speech by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). Hers was a speech of hopelessness, that one section of the community, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, will bitterly oppose all the legislation we will have passed, and that another section of the community might take a similar road.
I have at least 30,000 Roman Catholics in my constituency, and I think they will all bear me out that since I became their Member of Parliament I have not treated them as second-class citizens. I have fought their cases and worked for them. The hon. Lady's speech makes us sad tonight. We have fought the Bill and I will vote against the Third Reading. But the time has come when all sections of the community should learn that the battles can be fought and the points of view can be made on the Floor of this Parliament. After the points are made, the battles fought and the Amendments dealt with we all have a responsibility to put our shoulders to the wheel.
I have been in prison and I know the rigours of imprisonment. I know how the men feel in Long Kesh—I have been to Long Kesh—and I know that they feel bitter, because when I was in prison I felt resentment that I was not allowed to call witnesses who should have been called on my case. These men have not been charged. No one has said what they are guilty of. I have taken a consistent stand on this thorny problem. The Secretary of State-designate has a terrible task before him in Northern Ireland. But the sad and terrible thing is that if the wisdom that is being expressed tonight in the House had been expressed at the beginning of the troubles, perhaps we would not have gone so far down the slippery slope. We all learn by our mistakes. These men, if they have committed crimes, must in some way be tried. 785 As a Member of the Stormont Parliament I asked the Attorney-General there if he had any evidence of juries bringing in perverse verdicts, and he said he had no such evidence. I asked him if he had evidence of the police and juries being intimidated in the mass, and he said "No." Charges should be brought against these men, the courts opened, the men who are accused should hear who accuses them, and they should be tried. They should be convicted if they are guilty. If they cannot be charged, if no one can come forward and lay charges against them in a legal manner, then, no matter what the suspicion may be, it is surely the elementary basis of British democracy that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
On that point, does my hon. Friend take the view that it would be perfectly in accordance with the feelings of Ulstermen if they were to be tried in this country? If there be fear of intimidation, and if evidence is sufficient, there is no reason why those who would be standing their trial should be brought over and tried here rather than in Ulster.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley
I would agree with that absolutely. Whether the people who were being tried would agree would be another matter; but I certainly would agree.
In conclusion, I want to leave the matter of internment, because there was one matter on which there was full agreement among all the Ulstermen here and that was that the ban on parades over Easter should be lifted. That brought universal agreement from the Imperial Grand Master of the Orange Institute, the leaders of the civil rights movement and the Republicans in the House.
If the Secretary of State-designate were able to say that the traditional parades could take place—I would not say that he should encourage any other parades, but at this time the traditional parades of both sides, religious and political—and that within their district people would be free to demonstrate, that would be the first thing that would bring some normality to the situation. Whether the House likes it or not, the Ulster people, the Irish people, like to parade and demonstrate, and they like to march. If this was possible it may, in this very tense situation, in some way pour oil on 786 what could be very troubled waters indeed.
But let us not lose heart. I believe that all people in Ulster, whether they be Roman Catholic or Protestant, are at heart very lovable and likeable people. In the darknesss that is upon Ulster at present there is still burning a light, and by the assistance of the House that light can shine the way to what I think is the first priority. Here I part company with hon. Members opposite. The first priority, on which even they could go along the road with me part of the way, is a united Ulster. When we have a united Ulster, then we can move forward to better days of peace, prosperity and progress. Please God that those days will come more quickly than any of us at the moment can anticipate.
§ 10.28 a.m.
§ Mr. Duffy
I join my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Orme) in saying how reassured I was on occasions during the night by the manner in which we conducted our proceedings, and how reassured I was for the most part. For this hon. Members on all sides of the House are responsible, none excepted.
However, on such occasions, especially on Third Reading, there is always the danger that in the customary welter of mutual admiration and self-congratulation certain unsatisfactory features may be glossed over. I want to mention three features that disturb me. I shall do so very briefly.
The first is the continued evidence that we had during the night from the Ulster Unionist Members of their failure still to recognise that the protests of the minority in Northern Ireland had their roots in discernible discrimination, in substandard housing, in unemployment and, above all, in a lack of civil rights. I ask them not to carry their defence of the institutions of Northern Ireland or of its great achievements over the last 50 years to the point of utter intransigence, otherwise they will make all the more difficult, if not impossible, the future rôles and responsibilities of their right hon. Friend and his colleagues.
Secondly, I point out to hon. Members opposite representing English constituencies who, in some instances, during the night seemed too ready to support this 787 intransigence that they may be doing a disservice, not only to their own party but to Northern Ireland, by continuing to nurture the siege mentality that is still all too expressive of Ulster Unionism. This is why I greatly regretted the Government's acceptance of Amendment No. 53. I pointed out when the Amendment was being discussed that there was no question that change should be made on the basis of consent. It is interesting to note that this has been stressed time and again in the House and outside. I know of scarcely anyone who does not subscribe to this view. This is why I thought it might be counter-productive if we went on reassuring Northern Ireland that no change was contemplated, and it is why I agreed very much with the speech of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell).
It seemed to me that the logic of accepting the Amendment must lead to further assurances of the kind asked for by the hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Stratton Mills) which might have an inhibiting effect on future developments. This is why I put it to the Secretary of State designate that he might find his room for manoeuvre seriously limited and that he has even more options than we suspect.
I was not surprised that of all the things said during the night's debate, acceptance of Amendment No. 53 was the only item mentioned on the 8.30 news summary this morning. The B.B.C. could hardly mention many of the things that were said, but it mentioned acceptance of the Amendment and went on to say, in bold terms, that it meant that there should be no change in the Border. I cannot believe that the majority in Northern Ireland will be any more reassured by that, for many of the reasons given a few hours ago. But I ask hon. Members to contemplate the possible effect on the minority and on the work of the Secretary of State designate and his colleagues.
Having mentioned three features of our discussions which have depressed me, I go on to say that hon. Members will know from my earlier remarks that I attach the utmost importance to economic development. Ireland has had more than its fill of political discussion, and even discussion on other matters, such as religious questions. It is about time we began to recognise the economic develop- 788 ments which are afoot. Taking an objective view, I believe that there will be change of a far-reaching character, and perhaps even the transformation which my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West suggested. All I ask of hon. Members is that they recognise the possible economic developments. I do not say that they are inevitably bound up with Common Market membership. They are more likely to be speeded up and acted upon if we do not go into the Common Market. Anyone who considers the economic changes which are afoot, not only in Western Europe but especially in Ireland—in the South as well as in the North—knows that they will eventually take charge of the situation whether we like it or not. We must harness those changes in a positive and constructive way.
I look forward to continued discussions at this level, especially of the kind that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) mentioned. He said that he looked forward to an early debate on the Border and on the economic questions. I look forward to hearing his contributions to those discussion. I welcome all the hon. Gentleman's contributions. In recent months it has seemed to me that the hon. Gentleman has been much more credible—and I say this with the greatest respect to Ulster Unionist Members—and has been perhaps the authentic voice of many of the majority in Northern Ireland. Having said that, I hope he will accept in the best possible spirit what I now wish to say.
The hon. Member for Antrim, North did not spare my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) during the night when he reminded him of his reluctance to join in committee work at Stormont. I value the presence of the hon. Gentleman so much that I have noticed his attendances in this House during the last year. We shall not have that constructive debate about Northern Ireland, as well as the chance to examine Northern Ireland legislation in which we on these benches will want to play as full a part as we are permitted and the economic questions which will show whether there is any ground for an adjustment of the Border, unless the hon. Gentleman is here more than once or twice a fortnight.
I say to the hon. Gentleman in the best possible spirit that I look forward to 789 his being here, like the rest of us, if not on four days a week—I know of the other claims on his time and that there is not a busier man in the House—on at least three days a week. We need his contributions, and I hope that they will be on the lines which, as he recognised this morning, are required. That is the kind of contribution I want to make, and I look forward to joining the hon. Gentleman in dealing with these matters.
§ 10.36 a.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
I wish to say briefly why I cannot support the Bill. It could lead in one of two directions. It could lead to the total, unquestioned and inalienable integration of Ulster with the United Kingdom, in which case I should not wish to have done anything to prevent or impede it because I believe that that is now the best course. I cannot see, any more than Members on either side of the House can see, our simply returning in 12 months to the constitution of Stormont which we have suspended. I do not think history ever turns itself back in that identical way. Therefore, if the Bill leads to total integration it will have been a good thing, even though some of the incidents attending the doing of it may not command the consent of all of us.
But there is the other possibility which remains open and which, in my opinion, could lead to disaster, and that is that the Bill will lead to an attempt to integrate Ulster, against its will, with the South of Ireland. I know that guarantees have been given about the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, but there are more ways of killing a chicken than by wringing its neck. If once an attitude of defeatism is launched, with the prestige of the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom behind it, I can foresee great troubles arising in Ireland.
If my right hon. Friend who is to take responsibility in Ulster wishes to ask himself an appropriate question, it should not be the question proposed many times during the night. The single question which he should ask is this: will violence—murder, explosions, arson and all the rest—have produced for Southern Irish irredentism anything which it would not have achieved without violence? If so, a most dangerous step will have been 790 taken. Violence must not be seen to have paid. Militancy must not be seen to have paid.
All too often since the end of the war British Governments—indeed, in some respects. Western Governments—have suffered from this disease of compromising with violence, of buying off awkward situations by compromise. If the Bill were in the end to result in such a situation in Ireland that people would say that violence had paid a dividend once again, boundaries of surrender would have reached into the United Kingdom. Let us not imagine that we are being fanciful about that. It is, after all, only a week ago since Bristol Council appeared to be about to refuse the Royal Gloucesters the right to march through the city lest that might cause offence to the Irish population in it. So far can surrender and compromise go once we begin on this dangerous path.
All too often it has seemed to me in the last 20 or 25 years that the most dangerous thing one could be in the world was a friend of Britain. If one were loyal, if one's only desire was to be loyal and friendly to Britain, British Governments seemed to think that the wise and statesmanlike course was to sacrifice one and one's interests in an attempt to placate enemies. That is the danger.
In saying these things I do not accuse my right hon. Friend of intending such a thing. I certainly do not. I trust that things will turn out quite the opposite, but we have had no indication of how the Bill is to be used. I do not necessarily complain about that. It may tactically be the right thing to do, but we have had no indication of what the future shape of things in Ireland is to be. There are two possibilities. One I would support, the other I would deplore; and because there is no indication and the field is wide open I do not feel I can properly support the Bill on Third Reading.
§ 10.42 a.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
There has been some disagreement over the last two days and particularly in the last 19 consecutive hours and this has been mainly amongst Ulster Unionists, a group of the Government party, and the hon. Lady the Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin), but over all there has been a remarkable unanimity. That is, I concede, because the Government have come round to a 791 view which we on this side have expressed over recent months but also because, I believe, all of us have recognised the grave danger which faces this country and the Government in Ireland.
If it is not a trite thing to say, particularly at this time of the morning, there are times when this House recognises an occasion and rises to heights, and I believe it has done so in the face of the problems in Ireland in recent weeks. I took part in a three-party television broadcast about Ireland this week and I can only hope that some future historian will not find the film and believe it typical, because he would be wrong. Like others amongst my hon. Friends, I can only hope that the tolerance which has been shown here, not only by the Members from Britain but by those from the United Kingdom generally, will be shown in Northern Ireland itself. It is easier said than done. The atmosphere there is completely different. However, there are signs of hope even there that that can be done.
As a last resort we are shortly to have a Secretary of State, the chief executive—which, we have learned, was the description used in the original legislation—who is to be responsible for the North of Ireland. There are many problems to be settled. We are at the beginning and not the end. The first of the many problems will be the setting up of the Commission. It does not look hopeful, but even should it fail it will not mean that the initiative of the Government will not be able to be followed. We in this House still have problems of accountability. These remain to be dealt with.
On behalf of the Opposition side of the House I prefer to leave it at that. I repeat what has been said so many times: we wish the right hon. Gentleman well. History repeats itself. We in this House have been discussing Ireland as happened on so many occasions in the nineteenth century, and we have learned in the night that some of it we shall not like, but I hope that on this occasion we shall make a better success of it than we did the last time we had full responsibility.
§ 10.46 a.m.
§ Mr. Maginnis
No one will disagree with me when I say we have had a hard day's night. We have discussed this 792 Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Bill for many long hours. I am sure no one will disagree with me when I say that nothing is as permanent as temporary measures. I believe that this Measure itself will not solve the problems of Northern Ireland. They will be solved only by the people who live in Northern Ireland. I have never had objections to closer links with this country. As I said earlier, originally the Unionists did not want Ireland divided and Stormont was accepted only as a compromise.
Two questions will remain in the minds of many people. The first one is this. Does this Measure, shortly to become law, mean a move to a United Ireland or integration? The second question to be asked is whether this is the historic break-up of the United Kingdom. Only history can answer those questions. It will take the wisdom of a Solomon to solve the difficulties which we now face in Northern Ireland, but let it be remembered that when Solomon was asked to decide who was the owner of the child he decided that the only way he could do so would be by dividing the child in half; it was then that he discovered who the real mother was. If Ulster starts to tear herself apart, then indeed it will be found who the people are who really believe that Ulster will have a future within the United Kingdom.
I am convinced that passing the Bill will not solve the problem. All we are doing is not getting rid of a turbulent priest in Northern Ireland but unfrocking him for a period of one year.
§ 10.48 a.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wall (Haltemprice)
I believe this to be a better Bill because of the Amendments which have been made to it during this long sitting. What has again emerged from these many hours of debate is that the Government policy is to preserve Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. However, I believe that it is a dangerous Bill because the minority will demand further concessions and the majority will resent its contents.
One of the results of this Bill is that it will remove Stormont. I use the word "remove" because I believe that hon. Members on both sides of the House feel in their heart of hearts that Stormont will never be recreated, anyhow in its present 793 form. This will at least show the minority that reforms passed by Stormont will go through.
What worried me when talking to Catholics in Northern Ireland was that none of them believed that the reforms thought of in this House and initiated by the Government in Northern Ireland would actually become effective after the shooting stopped. Now they will realise that the discrimination from which Catholics in Northern Ireland have suffered for so many years will finally be removed. I fear that this will, unfortunately, not be enough and that further concessions will be demanded. It will be we in this Parliament who will have to decide these issues.
History has always shown that Irishmen from north or south of the Border resent legislation about their country from this Parliament. Indicative of that is this debate, which during the long hours of the night, having been conducted at the highest standard of moderation, has run through one day and is well into the next. This is only the start, and Government managers will no doubt be taking note of how Irish hon. Members have throughout history clogged the business of this House; this matter affects the future of all in Britain.
I believe that the Bill will attract the moderates and that there is no better man than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State-designate to put these reforms in to effect. I am sure that he appreciates that speed is of the essence. Irishmen—I can say this because I have Irish blood in my veins—are governed by their emotions, and emotions favour extremism on both sides. I hope that the provisions of this Measure will end the violence. Both communities want it to end, and the leaders of both communities must work together to end it.
However, we must realise that only some 2 per cent. of the people who form the minority of Northern Ireland actively support the I.R.A. We are told that this Bill will detach the majority of this minority from its support of the I.R.A. I hope that that is true, but the position would be even worse if 2 per cent. of the majority took similar action and received similar tacit support from the majority community. This is one of the great dangers that I see in the Bill. 794 The only hope of ending violence in Ireland would then be the imposition of martial law or the Republican Government in the south controlling the I.R.A., and neither course is likely.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) that the real danger to Ireland, south and north of the Border, is that the regular I.R.A. is now a Marxist organisation which will leave no stone unturned to proceed to create a united Republican Ireland which it has maintained will become the Cuba of Europe.
The Bill is full of good intentions, and I accept that my right hon. Friend is the right man to put them into effect. Nevertheless, I believe that the answer could have been effected in quite a different way; by the integration of Northern Ireland as a British county shorn perhaps of the predominantly 90 per cent. Catholic parts on the Border. It is because it could in my view have been done in another way and because of the two basic dangers to which I have referred that I have abstained from voting through the passage of this Bill.
The first danger I see inherent in the Bill is the backlash which could cause a reaction against British troops by both communities. That in turn could cause a demand in this country for the withdrawal of our men, similar to the demand for American forces to be withdrawn from Vietnam. If that were to happen, there would be civil war throughout the whole of Ireland.
The second danger I see inherent in the Bill is that of the growth of the now Marxist regular I.R.A. in the South. In that event, its first target will not be this House but the Government of Southern Ireland, and its second target the Roman Catholic Church, and that is something about which I feel extremely deeply. I very much hope that I shall be proved wrong. I cannot believe that the Bill is the right way of handling the dangerous situation, and that is why I cannot support it.
§ 10.55 a.m.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
The hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) drew attention to a recent outrage in Northern Ireland. Alas, in these troubled times far worse things have happened. However, perhaps it is appropriate for a 795 Catholic Unionist hon. Member to express his abhorrence of what appears to have been an attempt on the life of a Protestant member of the S.D.L.P.
This is, as the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) pointed out, a time for traditional parades, and I am all for them. It is also the season when Catholics and Protestants remember that they not only have a common homeland but share a common baptism.
What have we done during these long and courteous hours of debate? This Measure does not totally integrate Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom, a solution which I would not, at any rate at present, support. We are suspending eventual self-government in Northern Ireland with much the same alacrity as that Parliament of Cromwell, whose curse lies heavily on Ireland, extinguished the parliamentary process throughout Ireland.
Like Cromwell, we have replaced a Parliament with government by semi-dictatorial decree, this at a time when people are talking about the need for devolution throughout the United Kingdom. Indeed, a Commission on the Constitution is considering these matters. Moreover, this is being done at a time when criticism is made—it has been made throughout these debates, especially from the benches opposite—of conditions in Southern Ireland, where it is said that there is an anachronistic theocracy and where democracy is not up to date and modern. There is at least a parliament there. There is to be no parliament in the North.
The legacy of British rule in Ireland was two parliaments, one established in Dublin under Treaty and the other established at Stormont under the Government of Ireland Act.
I agreed very much with the moving speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson). The tribute he paid to Mr. Faulkner might decently also have been given—and perhaps it will come—from the Treasury Bench. To the list of distinguished Southern Irish figures who deplore the suspension of Parliament in the North, one might add the name of Connor Cruse O'Brien. We have placed the Parliament of the North in the freezer.
796 Stormont, with all its faults—there has been a great deal of prejudice and injustice about it—has been a bastion of British influence and defensive strategy. That bastion has fallen at a time when Northern Ireland, in this third world war—that is what it is; a third world war of international subversion and guerrilla—is just as vital to Britain as it was in the two world wars of the submarine conflict, when its ports, as Michael Collins said, were essential to our life.
Those of us who have opposed this Measure from the start and who will vote against its Third Reading pledge to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State designate and his junior colleagues any help that we can give them, including help for constitutional order and the restoration of peace in Northern Ireland.
I must warn them, however, that they may feel the wind blow cold as they camp beneath the walls of the fallen bastion. The Bill is the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Bill. Let us make sure that it lives—or, rather, dies—up to its name.
§ 11.0 a.m.
§ Mr. Rafton Pounder (Belfast, South)
I believe that, last Friday, the Government took a wrong turning, and the legislation which we have debated now over the past 27 hours, because it represents the enactment of those policy decisions, is, in my judgment, equally misguided. Nevertheless, three important factors have emerged from our discussions during the past two days.
The first is that many right hon. and hon. Members who have been in the Chamber during our debates, and the House as a whole, probably now appreciate as never before the complexities of the problems likely to be faced during the next 12 months. For too long, perhaps, the attitude taken, and understandably so, by many hon. Members was, "Leave Ulster affairs to the Northern Ireland Members". That can no longer be anyone's position, and I earnestly hope that those who have stayed during these hours do not feel that the complexities and difficulties are as insuperable as, perhaps, they had previously imagined.
The second important factor emerging from deliberations is the incorporation of 797 certain Amendments in the Bill. Obviously, the Bill is better for them. I cannot help wondering how many mistakes we shall make over the next 12 months, during the period of government by decree in matters relating to Stormont legislation, even with the improvements which the House has made in this Bill.
The third factor—I speak here with absolute sincerity—is the approach which I believe, we shall all make to these great problems from now on. There have been disagreements on the Bill, but I suspect that it is more than likely that, in a few minutes, it will pass its Third Reading. Let us have no illusions, once it is passed. If the package fails, it will not be this House which will lose. It will be the people of Northern Ireland who will lose. Therefore, we must all realise—certainly, all Ulster Members, even though we have disagreed on the Bill, realise it—that it is our own people who are the losers, and one's sense of responsibility must come to the fore once the Bill is enacted.
None the less, I am bound to feel profoundly sad, as any Ulster Unionist must at this time, because we are legislating for the interment of Stormont for 12 months. Perhaps the only joy now for an Ulster Unionist can be the hope, a hope frequently expressed from the Government Front Bench, which I fervently share, that in the not-too-distant future Stormont will once again become a legislative Assembly.
§ 11.3 a.m.
§ The Attorney-General
I suppose that I may be the last person to speak in the debate upon this momentous Bill, and I recognise that I am very much the pale shadow of my right hon. Friend the Lord President as I substitute for him now. This is, I imagine, the last time that I shall be able to call him the Lord President, because I hope this evening, when the Bill has become law, to be present when he is sworn in as Secretary of State.
I have a certain claim, however, to make the closing speech in the debate, for I shall have imposed upon myself grave responsibilities in becoming Attorney-General for Northern Ireland when the Bill is enacted. In this context I wish to say a word to my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. 798 McMaster), who put down a certain Amendment which was not called. Despite the provisions in the Bill regarding the position which, by virtue of my post here in England, I shall now have in Northern Ireland, I applied, before my hon. Friend put down his Amendment, to the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland to seek to be called to the Bar of Northern Ireland, quite independently of any matters in the Bill. I shall take upon myself many responsibilities with regard to the prosecution of offences and matters of law and order in Northern Ireland.
No one who has listened to the debate or who has an ounce of sense or heart in him can but realise how important this issue is. Whatever the Tightness or wrongness of the decision taken, it is a decision of the greatest importance, and it imposes upon all of us in the House, because of the means and form of legislation in the future, a great responsibility towards the lives and security of human beings, fellow citizens of the United Kingdom living in Northern Ireland.
During our 27 hours of debate many right hon. and hon. Members have been present throughout every hour of it, though not, perhaps, as many as are present now. I think it was my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) who said that those of us who have been here throughout the debate will not, perhaps, be altogether surprised now to realise that Irishmen can get on together, even across the Floor of the House of Commons. Having served in an Irish regiment and having had the honour and privilege to command Irish soldiers, from both North and South, I know very well that, basically, of course, Irishmen can all get on together. As for the shades of a Scottish Grand Committee or a Welsh Grand Committee, I can only say that Northern Ireland Members have shown themselves not one bit more frail than those hon. Members who represent Scottish or Welsh constituencies.
We have had warnings and pronouncements of what the consequences of the Bill may be, and it has been suggested by some that the step which we are taking can lead only to failure. I do not subscribe to that view. No one who has had anything to do with this Measure, however, has any illusions about the 799 problems which we face. It is in no spirit of surrender to violence or terrorism that the Bill has been introduced—not in the least—and, if it had been so, I do not for a moment believe that my right hon. Friend or my hon. Friends who are here now would have joined in presenting the Bill to the House.
The Bill has been presented because it gives a better chance of tackling the situation, a better chance of dealing with the problems of Ireland, a better chance of leading to conversation, to talk, to settlement and to the solution of this centuries-old problem.
I well recognise the great sincerity of those of my hon. Friends from Northern Ireland constituencies who have spoken on these great issues. None could fail to be impressed by the way in which they have both presented their case and debated it throughout all these hours. They have made their position clear, and I realise that they will vote against the Bill on Third Reading, but I ask them thereafter to join with my right hon. Friend in the venture now before us, to which he has dedicated himself, because it is only with the will of all, and principally the will of the House of Commons, that this venture can be brought to a conclusion. If it reaches the right conclusion, as we all earnestly hope it will, it will give a prize beyond price. I commend the Bill to the House.
§ 11.9 a.m.800
§ the House is that it would like to come to a decision. I feel that the hon. Member would be well advised not to intervene now, but, if he insists, I must call him.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
I shall detain the House for only two minutes, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I hate to disappoint my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General in his thought that his speech would be the last, but I think it right and appropriate that an Ulster Unionist should have the last word in a debate which sees the demise of Stormont. Moreover I wish to join in the tributes paid to Stormont, echoing the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson).
There are people in Northern Ireland who are confused and who do not know what the future holds for them. If I had the scriptural knowledge of my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), no doubt I could give an appropriate quotation.
I say to the people of Northern Ireland that we in the House of Commons, on both sides of the House, will now be looking after affairs in Northern Ireland, certainly for this year to come, and they need not fear that Ulster's future will not be looked after. Secondly, I say to the people in Northern Ireland that they should have no fears for the future.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 13.801
|Division No. 113.]||AYES||[11.11 a.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Dykes, Hugh|
|Astor, John||Carlisle, Mark||Eden, Sir John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Carter, Ray (Birmingham, Northfield)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Benyon, W.||Channon, Paul||Eyre, Reginald|
|Biffen, John||Chapman, Sydney||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)|
|Blaker, Peter||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Churchill, W. S.||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Clark, William (Surrey E.)||Fortescue, Tim|
|Body, Richard||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Fowler, Norman|
|Boscawen, Robert||Conlan, Bernard||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Coombs, Derek||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Bowden, Andrew||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Goodhew, Victor|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Cormack, Patrick||Gorst, John|
|Bray, Ronald||Crowder, F. P.||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Dalyell, Tam||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Buck, Antony||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||McCartney, Hugh||Rost, Peter|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)||McCrindle, R. A.||Royle, Anthony|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Hastings, Stephen||McNamara, J. Kevin||Scott, Nicholas|
|Hattersley, Roy||Madel, David||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Havers, Michael||Mather, Carol||Sharples, Richard|
|Hawkins, Paul||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Mikardo, Ian||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Moate, Roger||Simeons, Charles|
|Heseltine, Michael||Money, Ernle||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hiley, Joseph||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Morrison, Charles||Spearing, Nigel|
|Holland, Philip||Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Speed, Keith|
|Hordern, Peter||Murton, Oscar||Sproat, Iain|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patrick||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Stallard, A. W.|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Neave, Airey||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Normanton, Tom||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Hunt, John||O'Halloran, Michael||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|James, David||Onslow, Cranley||Taverne, Dick|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Orme, Stanley||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Pardoe, John||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Jessel, Toby||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Pavitt, Laurie||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)||Peel, John||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Jopling, Michael||Pendry, Tom||Trew, Peter|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Percival, Ian||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Perry, Ernest G.||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Waddington, David|
|Kirk, Peter||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Raison, Timothy||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Knox, David||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Lambton, Lord||Redmond, Robert||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Lane, David||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Whitlock, William|
|Lawson, George||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Lipton, Marcus||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Longden, Sir Gilbert||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Luce, R. N.||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Mr. John Stradling Thomas.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Maude, Angus||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Devlin, Miss Bernadette||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Kilfedder, James||Molyneaux, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McManus, Frank||Paisley, Rev. Ian||Captain L.P.S. Orr and|
|McMaster, Stanley||Pounder, Rafton||Mr. Biggs-Davison.|
|Maginnis, John E.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.