HC Deb 16 November 1972 vol 846 cc583-4
1. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he intends to take against the so-called loyalists who threaten violence against Her Majesty's Forces.

The Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. David Howell)

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General to a Question by the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) on 9th November.—[Vol. 845, c. 250.]

Mr. Hamilton

Can the Minister of State say what steps are being taken to remedy the ludicrous situation whereby members are financed by the British taxpayer to be trained in the UDR and are simultaneously members of the UDA? I do not wish to take sides in the matter, but is it not equally ludicrous that Mr. William Craig can make the kind of speeches that he has been making and still remain a Privy Councillor?

Mr. Howell

On the hon. Gentleman's second point, these kind of wild speeches are to be deplored. They make a mockery of the whole idea of the word "loyalty". On the question of membership of the UDR and the UDA, where there has been any evidence or sign of overlap, or even collusion, these matters are investigated carefully, and are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. On the hon. Gentleman's first point, 10 people have been arrested and charged with receiving weapons from the UDR. This is a matter that concerns the Government greatly, and it is watched very carefully.

Mr. Kilfedder

I condemn violence from any section of the community, but does my hon. Friend agree that it is wrong to equate the violence of the IRA with the actions of some misguided loyalists, for whom there is the explanation that they have allowed some three years of terrorism and, admittedly, a sectarian campaign to break their praiseworthy restraint?

Mr. Howell

Arguments of frustration and violence there may be, but the plain fact is that violence is violence and law-breaking is lawbreaking. They must be dealt with firmly by the law and by the security forces wherever they occur.