HC Deb 16 January 1975 vol 884 cc653-5
2. Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons have been the subject of exclusion orders made by him under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974; and how many have been refused entry into Northern Ireland under the powers of that Act or the Immigration Act 1971.

Mr. Rees

I have made no exclusion orders under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 in respect of persons in, or attempting to enter, Northern Ireland. Immigration is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, but I understand that since the 1974 Act came into force three persons, all foreign nationals, have been refused leave to enter Northern Ireland ports of entry under the Immigration Act 1971.

Mr. Powell

Is the Secretary of State satisfied that he has the necessary means of control and identification to make a reality of exclusion orders when he finds it necessary to make them?

Mr. Rees

There is obviously a problem on the land boundary. Anybody who knows the land boundary will realise what I mean in terms of its length, the nature of the crossings, and so on. I have the necessary powers to exclude people who are found inside the area. It would be idle to pretend that there are not difficulties, given the nature and the length of the border, but I intend to carry out this Act because I believe that it is necessary.

Mr. Watkinson

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to explain the circumstances in which Charles Devine was released from the Maze Prison on condition that he left Northern Ireland, but when he came to this country he was arrested and sent back, and is now a free man? Does he agree that this undermines the operation and authority of the law in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Rees

The actions of the commissioner are not for me to go into; they are entirely a matter for him. He released Mr. Devine. There was no conditional release. The fact of the matter is that he was released and he eventually went back to Northern Ireland. I can deal only with someone who is concerned with terrorism within Northern Ireland. When the man came back there were no grounds on which I should or could have done anything.

Mr. McCusker

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is still room for improvement in co-operation between the RUC, the Army, and customs officers in border control duties, and that this view was frequently expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) during a recent tour of the border? Will he have discussions with his colleagues in the Treasury with a view to improving the situation?

Mr. Rees

I think that the hon. Gentleman in that instance is referring principally to co-operation with customs officers. I am content with the co-operation between the Army and the RUC on most issues of which I know. If the hon. Gentleman has any particular incident in mind, I will look at it. In any event, I shall look at it because he has raised the matter.

Mr. Fitt

Reverting to the case of Mr. Charles Devine from Derry, who was recently excluded from Britain, is it not a fact that the commissioner who heard his case in Long Kesh agreed to release him on condition that he went to England and then to Germany?

Mr. Rees

I must again make the point to my hon. Friend that there are no such things as conditional releases. There may be a factor that a commissioner takes into account. I must not comment on this matter, because of the legal nature of it, but there are no such things as conditional releases. Factors could be taken into account, and it is up to the commissioner concerned. That is all that I can say on the matter.