HC Deb 04 December 1975 vol 901 cc1915-6
5. Mr. Clemitson

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons who have been excluded from Great Britain under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974, have subsequently been imprisoned or interned in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

None has been imprisoned for terrorist-type offences, and none has been detained.

Mr. Clemitson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this provides very strong further evidence that the most effective way in which to combat terrorism anywhere in the United Kingdom is by normal police methods and proper court procedures?

Mr. Rees

I certainly believe that where there is evidence that can be put to a court, that is the best way to proceed. In Northern Ireland there is a particular problem.

As for the other matter that my hon. Friend raises, when people return to Northern Ireland, having been away for some time, whatever their connection it does not follow that they immediately become involved, or become involved in such a way that the Northern Ireland police have evidence of their involvement over there. That is what the RUC is concerned with. It is the question whether they then become involved in Northern Ireland that will determine the success of our policy of exclusion from Great Britain.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Is not one of the great weaknesses of the anti-terrorism legislation the fact that Northern Ireland is being used just as a dumping ground for those suspected of terrorism here?

Mr. Rees

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will consider the facts of the matter. The operation of the legislation over here is not for me, in Northern Ireland. What matters in relation to people who have been involved, or might be involved, and who have Northern Ireland roots—I appreciate that this is distasteful to people in Northern Ireland, with their feelings on the matter—is their connection with organisations, and so on. In the Government's view it is better for them to be excluded rather than to operate in the hole-and-corner way in which they operate here, which is much more difficult to deal with than it is for me, in Northern Ireland.

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