HC Deb 16 January 1975 vol 884 cc661-2
10. Mr. Bradford

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the approach by Northern Ireland clergymen to his Department to approach the European Commission on Human Rights to appoint a representative to sit on a special commission to recommend parole or release for convicted murderers.

Mr. Orme

My right hon. Friend has no knowledge of this proposal.

Mr. Bradford

Does the Minister of State accept that it would cause great misgivings and mistrust in Northern Ireland to involve an institution which has been used by the Republican Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) to castigate, discredit and demoralise members of Her Majesty's Forces when those forces are doing a great job in Northern Ireland and deserve the full support of the House?

Mr. Orme

The hon. Member is not facing the reality of the situation. I have given him a clear answer that the Government have no idea of any such proposals and therefore could not act upon them.

Mr. Fitt

May I ask a supplementary question to what was said by my hon. Friend in a reply to an earlier Question?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am certain that it is not beyond the hon. Member's ingenuity to make his point in the form of a supplementary question to this Question.

Mr. Fitt

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The two Questions are tied. In Northern Ireland—and the question directly relates to events in Northern Ireland—a very small group of people are casting aspersions on the good will of the clergymen who have been acting in the context of peace. The Question relates directly to whether or not they have been carrying messages to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in relation to the European Commission on Human Rights. It is accepted that this is not so. Is my hon. Friend aware that when the hon. Member for Belfast, West appeared at Strasbourg in relation to a very important case proceeding there the evidence had not been published and could not have been known by the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford)?

Mr. Orme

I am sure that my hon. Friend does not want me to intervene in a personal dispute between himself and the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford). The Government are at present looking for a constructive peace, based on the Secretary of State's statement on Tuesday, and we believe that the basis for such a peace is there.

Mr. Mather

Will the Minister of State say what success he is having with the Dublin Government in persuading them to withdraw their case against British troops in Northern Ireland, which is before the European Commission on Human Rights?

Mr. Orme

Overall we are getting more co-operation from the Dublin Government on matters like the border and other sensitive areas. We want to do nothing which would disrupt that now.