HC Deb 27 June 1974 vol 875 cc1712-3
13. Mr. Cryer

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to enable him to prescribe rules for the formation and operations of political parties in Northern Ireland, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

No, Sir.

Mr. Cryer

Is my right hon. Friend not concerned that there have been attempts by extreme right-wing elements to take advantage of the situation, and does not he accept that in order to arrest this lurch to the right it will be necessary for the British trade union and Labour movement to engage in conversations with organisations like the Ulster Workers' Council and other organisations representing the working people of Northern Ireland? Will he seek to assist in such negotiation?

Mr. Rees

The one point that I have learned about Northern Ireland is that there is extreme everything in politics there. It is my job to make sure that everybody who wants to act politically, and not by the bomb or gun, should have the right to do so, and that is the hope. As for some of the organisations my hon. Friend mentions, there is a trade union movement in Northern Ireland which has a view on this matter. It is associated with the trade union movement here. I think that it knows its business on this, and on negotiations on political matters—as with so many other things—it is best left to decide for itself what is the best course.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

If the right hon. Gentleman were to prescribe rules on these lines, could those rules prevent the official IRA from holding an international guerrilla festival in Belfast, or has he powers adequate to deal with that situation already?

Mr. Rees

I am aware of an international conference. I had not come across it under the precise title given by the hon. Member. I certainly have powers to deal with any matter under the Emergency Provisions Act and in other ways where, for example, a meeting might lead to death, fighting, gunfire or things like that. I shall be looking at this conference very closely.