§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
Following the narrow squeak that we have just had—and I recall occasions when it has been necessary, as a result of something of that kind, for the Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household to make a ceremonial entrance here—I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Pevention of Terrorism (Supplemental Temporary Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 (S.I., 1976, No. 466), dated 25th March 1976, a copy of which was laid before this House on 26th March, be annulled.We now move from provisions for the prevention of terrorists entering or remaining in Great Britain, as against the rest of the world, to similar provisions designed to prevent terrorists from entering or remaining in Northern Ireland, as against the rest of the world, whether from Great Britain or from the Irish Republic.
The background is substantially altered by the fact that Northern Ireland has the one land frontier of the United Kingdom. That accounts for many of the verbal differences between this Order and the one which we have just been considering. Also, of course, one's view of the Order is necessarily affected by conditions as they actually are on the ground in Northern Ireland compared with those at the ports in Great Britain. Therefore, I ask hon. Members to realise that they are now, as it were, in Northern Ireland and looking at these provisions from that point of view.
I deal first—as the hon. Lady, as it happens, was dealing last—with the question of identification and documents, that is to say, with Articles 6 and 8 of the Order. I wish to ask questions on both those articles.
First, Article 6(2) says that, if so required by an examining officer, a person being examined under Article 5 shallproduce either a valid passport with photograph"—128 I have no query on that—or some other document satisfactorily establishing his identity and nationality or citizenship".It is to those words that I should like to direct the attention of the Minister of State.
This article does not say that the person must produce a document satisfactorily establishing his identity, though actually that is the form in which the request is commonly addressed to passengers entering Great Britain. It describes the document, if it is not a passport, in a particular way—as a document which satisfactorily establishes the traveller's nationality or citizenship as well as his identity, and it would appear that unless it is such a document the requirement embodied in Article 6 is not effective.
What worries me is that most of the documents which are produced and treated as satisfactory by examining officers, or those acting on their behalf, do not comply with the foregoing description. Passports, of course, do comply with it; and many travellers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain carry passports—they may in many cases be needing them for further journeys. But all kinds of documents are, at the request of the examining officers, produced to establish identity.
I ask the Minister of State to recognise that that is not in fact what the article says. It insists upon the production, should the examining officer so require, of documents which establish identity and nationality or citizenship. In other words, they must be documents which show whether a person is a British subject, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a citizen of the Irish Republic.
It may be said that this does not prevent the examining officer, under more general provisions such as Article 6(1), from asking for the production of a letter or some other document not falling within this description ; but it would be an extraordinarily slovenly form of legislation, albeit subordinate legislation, if, in the very paragraph which made provision for enforcing the requirement to produce a document, it carefully described the document as identifying nationality or citizenship when in fact that kind of document was not being required and not 129 being sought. Therefore, I ask the Minister of State to attend to the wording of this article and to compare or contrast it with what actually happens on the ground in practice.
Now I pass to Article 8 of the Order, which provides that,if so required by an examining officer",a person disembarking or embarking shallcomplete and produce to that officer a landing or…an embarkation card in such form as the Secretary of State may direct".I want to know what is going on here. First, I want to know whether examination on embarkation in Great Britain is regarded by the Secretary of State as satisfactory for his purposes for the control of disembarkation or entry into Northern Ireland. It will be within the knowledge of the Minister of State that there is little or nothing which corresponds on arrival in Northern Ireland by air or sea to that which happens on arrival in Great Britain by air or sea. Since these are reciprocal provisions, and since it is now the purpose of the Act to give Northern Ireland the same protection against would-be terrorists entering from Great Britain as Great Britain has had hitherto against would-be terrorists entering from Northern Ireland, we ought to hear why, if it be the case, the examination which occurs on landing in Great Britain has no counterpart, so far as I have observed, in Northern Ireland. It may be that the answer is in part connected with embarkation procedures at Heathrow or at Gatwick. If so, it would be helpful if the Minister could tell us.
Now I come to the embarkation card. Why are embarkation cards issued to and requested from passengers at Gatwick but not at Heathrow? Is it because it is inconvenient to do so at Heathrow? That cannot be the excuse. If embarkation cards are useful for the prevention of terrorists moving backwards and forwards between different parts of the United Kingdom, they cannot only be useful for that purpose at Gatwick. It cannot be that the sort of terrorist who is caught out by the embarkation card uses only British Midland Airways. The people who use British Midland Airways are those who have got wise to the inconveniences of the TriStar and the arrangements at Heathrow. I do not think it 130 would only be the terrorists liable to be caught—I suppose through describing the purpose of their visit as terrorism—by an embarkation card who frequent Gatwick. So I want to know, as many other passengers want to know, why it is that only at Gatwick are embarkation cards issued and requested.
But we were told by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department that the Secretary of State—in that case, her Secretary of State—had not yet directed what was to be the form of the embarkation cards. Embarkation cards have been issued, filled in and collected by examining officers for the past 18 months at Gatwick. Who has authorised the form of embarkation card which is in use? Since this has been going on for 18 months, surely it is time that the Secretary of State got round either to scrapping this procedure altogether or to giving directions. Yet we were told by the hon. Lady that a form had not yet been prescribed.
We therefore have the anomalous situation that an unprescribed form not directed by the Secretary of State is being required at one of the airports of embarkation for Northern Ireland in Great Britain but not at others. This cannot be a satisfactory situation. It ought to be explained, or it ought to he remedied.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman's question is directed to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, and obviously he will reply to it. However, other hon. Members, myself among them, have not heard about this before, and therefore I wish to be quite clear about it. I have never yet arrived back from Northern Ireland at Gatwick. I have always come in to Heathrow. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that anyone travelling back to Gatwick has to fill in a disembarkation card as if he were coming back from the Republic of France but that if he returns by Heathrow he does not have to fill in such a card, and that this difference has existed for the past 18 months? If I understand the right hon. Gentleman correctly, that is what he is saying.
§ Mr. Powell
That is what I am saying, though with one slight amendment. The hon. Member referred to passengers having to fill in cards, and that brings me to my next point. Broadly speaking, 131 embarkation cards are in regular use at Gatwick and are believed by the passengers in both directions who complete them to be required. In my experience, this never, or very rarely, happens at Heathrow.
When I first read this article, I was somewhat shaken. I have made a habit of carrying around a well-worn, faded extract of Hansard in which the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department says in a Written Answer:Although there is power under the Prevention of Terrorism (Supplemental Temporary Provisions) Order 1974 to require landing and embarkation cards to be produced by all travellers between Great Britain and Ireland, completion of such cards is at present on a voluntary basis.> That must mean that, although there are powers to require the completion of cards, they had not been implemented in June last year. The hon. Lady went on to say:
It is for the chief officer of police concerned to decide whether travellers should be asked to complete cards "—I assume that the word "asked" was deliberately chosen instead of "required"—having regard to the particular circumstances of each port."—[Official Report, 12th June 1975 ; Vol. 893, c. 231.]It is difficult to reconcile that answer with the wording of Article 8, which says that anybody travelling to Northern Ireland shall, if required by an examining officer, complete and produce to him a landing card. I cannot see that this is consistent with completion being on a voluntary basis. So I take it that, at least in relation to Northern Ireland, there is now a binding requirement to fill up the card, although, of course, that requirement depends upon the exercise of an act of judgment by an examining officer.
In the light of that wording, it surely cannot still be a voluntary matter. It will in future be impossible for travellers like my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast. South (Mr. Bradford) and myself, who carry copies of this Hansard extract, to point out with the utmost politeness to the examining officer that in her reply the Under-Secretary said that completion of the cards was at present on a voluntary basis.
It cannot now be on a voluntary basis if, according to the wording of Article 8, 132 a traveller may be required to fill in a card by the examining officer. I hope that the Minister of State will make clear that it has now become compulsory, though at the discretion of the examining officer. Formerly it was voluntary, whether or not discretion was exercised.
That leaves him with the task of explaining why examining officers at Gatwick find it almost invariably necessary for passengers to complete cards—perhaps it is in the light of "the particular circumstances" of the airport—and why this is not thought necessary at Heathrow.
I turn now to Article 5, which is of graver and more substantial character. It includes references to arrival by ship or aircraft but also includes arrival by crossing of the land frontier. That is why, as the Under-Secretary explained, the word "vehicle" and the power compulsorily to remove a person from a vehicle appears in the Northern Ireland Order but not in the Great Britain Order.
Article 5 of the Northern Ireland Order enables an examining officer to examine any personentering or seeking to enter or leave Northern Ireland by land from, or to go to, the Republic of Ireland for the purpose of determining whether any such personlooks like a terrorist, is subject to an exclusion order, or may have committed other offences under the Act.
Moreover, paragraph (3) enables the examining officer, even though such a person is not actuallyentering or seeking to enter or leaveto pick up, as it were, anybody whom he finds within the one-mile zone from the border in order to ascertainwhether he is in the course of entering or leaving Northern Ireland by landI do not wish to make anything appear in the slightest degree humorous, because this is no humorous matter that the House is considering; but there is something grotesque, when we envisage the land frontier between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, in this notion of empowering examining officers to examine those actually entering or leaving by land or those within one mile of the frontier who they think might have the intention of entering or leaving. I presume that means the intention of leaving or the recent experience of entering.
133 This does not correspond with reality. We are enactng law which is remote from the facts of the situation. Here is a law for the purpose of protecting, as best we can, the lives and property of citizens in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. For that purpose, we are giving examining officers power to do things in circumstances in which they are not taking place today and in which at present they are difficult to envisage taking place.
I ask the Minister of State seriously to confront what he is doing. It is not sufficient to say "As the Act applies to Northern Ireland, we must have a Supplemental Temporary Provisions Order for Northern Ireland and put something in it about the land frontier, since there is a land frontier, but whether what we put in has any practical effect or is being implemented does not matter, because it is just for the sake of form"
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not say that. I do not think that in his office he could stand up and say that. He must say that measures are in fact being taken. I am not asking him to specify aspects of such measures which it might not be in the public interest to make known. I am asking him to say that the duty to exercise surveillance over entry and departure across the land frontier is being taken as seriously as any of the other obligations to examine which are contained in these Orders and that the land frontier, which is the principal access of terrorism to the whole of the United Kingdom, is not, as it were, being written off. I ask the Minister to respond to that request, which is seriously addressed to him.
In doing so I return to Article 5(3), which is the power to examine any person found within a one-mile zone—no 200. mile fishing limit here—of the frontier. Realistically speaking, as with any other country which has an open land frontier, the only way in which entry or departure can be effectively controlled is by establishment of identity inside the country. That is nothing peculiar to Northern Ireland. It applies to all such countries in the world, except perhaps the Soviet Union with its Berlin Wall and its Iron Curtain. They all have methods of doing as a permanent feature what is here required urgently as a temporary provision. I am saying to the Minister of 134 State that it is really a pretence to say that in Northern Ireland this can be achieved by establishing the identity of would-be travellers either crossing the border or within a zone one mile from the border. It can only be carried out if establishment of identity is, in fact, enforced and enforceable anywhere in the Province. I should like the Minister of State to give an assurance that, under whatever powers—I imagine that they are not the powers in this legislation, but under effective powers—that is being done.
This applies also to persons entering Northern Ireland by train. I have not had the privilege of entering Northern Ireland by train. I have often thought that it would be an exciting novelty to attempt to do so, although in recent weeks those who have made the journey have more frequently experienced frustration than enjoyment. Nevertheless, it still happens that from time to time persons from the Irish Republic undoubtedly do get through to the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. McCusker) by train and end up at the terminus in. Belfast.
Article 5(4) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Supplemental Temporary Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order states:A person entering Northern Ireland by train may be examined when he arrives at the first place where the train is scheduled to stop for the purpose of allowing passengers to alight.This House is approving legislation. It is conferring a power—indeed, it is restricting a power—to examine travellers arriving by train, because they must be examined when they arrive at the first place where the train is scheduled to stop for the purpose of allowing passengers to alight. Even if a person is coming to Belfast, he cannot be examined at Belfast on his arrival if the train is scheduled to stop at Portadown. Is there any system of examination at Portadown?
§ Mr. Powell
I am told that there is. No doubt we shall get confirmation from the Minister of State.
Is there any system for express passengers—if that be not too ironical a description in present circumstances—to be 135 examined on arrival in Belfast? Is this, in other words, a mere paper provision which we are putting in for the sake of apparent completeness, or is it something which is effectively carried through? Those whom we represent in Northern Ireland wished us to support, as we did support, these provisions, even when they were one way only, in the 1974 Act, and they have been gratified by the decision of the Government that the provisions should be amended so as to afford Northern Ireland as far as possible equal protection with Great Britain. But they will expect that legislation and Orders of this sort actually mean that an endeavour will be made as seriously and intensively to prevent terrorists entering the kingdom in Northern Ireland as is made to prevent them from entering it in Great Britain.
For those reasons, I hope that the Minister will take the opportunity of speaking, if he will, at some length and giving a general picture covering entry by land into Northern Ireland as well as answering the particular points.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Wm. Ross (Londonderry)
This Order says that it is for the prevention of terrorism. The first thing one should realise about terrorism is its absolute speed and ferocity. It can arise at any time and place suddenly, and apparently out of the blue, although perhaps it was carefully planned long beforehand, and then the person who commits the act of terrorism vanishes instantly.
When I looked at this Order and compared it with the Order for the rest of the United Kingdom, I was immediately struck by the fact that in Article 4, as far as Northern Ireland is concerned, the third paragraph says:Any functions conferred by the Act or this Order on an examining officer may be performed also by a member of Her Majesty's forces on dutyThat is not contained in the Order for the rest of the United Kingdom. It is all very well to say that it is not needed in the rest of the United Kingdom, but we do not know what terrorist act may be planned or what force may be necessary to deal with it. The forces of the 'Crown might be needed. The power 136 would then not be in the hands of these forces to deal with it and act as agents of the police. If terrorism should ever spring up on a large scale, the time to nip it is when it is in the bud and not whenever it has come to its full evil flower.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) referred at some length to Article 6, to the whole question of identity and to the question of passports and other documents whereby one might identify oneself. I came through Gatwick this afternoon and I noticed that most of the people who came through did not produce a passport. They produced a Northern Ireland driving licence, which has a photograph, but there is no reason why evil-intentioned persons should not get their hands on a driving licence that is totally false. All they have to do is apply in the name of someone who is dead.
If the family happens to be a Republican family or if it is connected with any terrorist organisation and wishes to cooperate, a licence is forthcoming. There is no great detailed investigation into who has applied for such a document and who may get it. A false name could be produced and the person concerned travel through. I ask for some serious efforts to improve the whole process of identification in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Ross
My right hon. Friend once more draws attention to the point he has already made, and it is very true. A driving licence at best, even when it is truthful, can only establish that it was given to a person of such-and-such a name who lives in such-and-such a place. That person may have been born in any country of the world and still have a Northern Ireland driving licence if he has lived there for a few years.
We come back once more to the whole problem of identity cards. This suggestion has been put up time after time and knocked down time after time, but I have never been convinced of the validity of the arguments against identity cards. I believe that the law-abiding citizens of Northern Ireland would have 137 no objection to carrying and producing them on request.
I shall not attempt to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South in everything he said about Article 8, because he put it much better than I could. The embarkation or departure card is a regular feature of travel in and out of Gatwick. As usual, today, I did not fill it in and the officer on duty accepted my parliamentary card. I suppose that he recognised it for what it was, but there does not seem any good reason why the rest of the citizens of Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom as a whole should be asked to fill in a card that a Member of Parliament does not have to fill in.
I repeat my right hon. Friend's question. Is the filling in of these cards a statutory requirement now? If it is, since the Order came into operation on 27th March, why was I able to pass through today without filling it in? If this is now law, have the officers in question not been told? This article suggests that the filling in will be done at the request of the individual officer. Is that the sole criterion? Is it a question of the state of an individual officer's temper, whether he has had a dust-up with his wife, or has a cold and wants to make everyone else feel as bad as he feels, or is this a requirement laid down by the Secretary of State?
Article 10 talks about the driver or owner of a vehicle in which someone crosses the land frontier being required to remove the passenger from Northern Ireland if the passenger should not be entering Northern Ireland. That is all very well in the case of a private car or a taxi, but what about a bus in which many other legitimate citizens may be going about their normal business? Will the driver be compelled to turn around and take his unwelcome visitor back to the last stop down the road or the previous village or town—or even, in the case of the Londonderry-Dublin express, all the way back to Dublin? This is not a reasonable provision and we should have a clearer explanation of the law.
What happens if the unwelcome visitor is found on a train? How is he to be removed then? Is the train to go back down the line and drop him off, or is he to be put in a taxi at public expense in Northern Ireland and sent back?
Article 11(3) refers to the responsibilities laid upon the captain of a ship or an 138 aircraft. The captain of a ship crossing from Liverpool has some time to investigate his passengers, but the captain of an aircraft has not. Yet that captain will be absolutely responsible for seeing that such people do not disembark. He alone is the responsible person.
Article 13(4) and (5) provide that when the ship comes into a harbour in a control area, the owners or agents shall only take "all reasonable steps". Why is it that people on dry land, with the forces of law and order behind them, are required only to take reasonable steps whereas the captain of a ship on the high seas, who might have to deal with a bunch of armed and dangerous men, will be absolutely responsible for their behaviour—a responsibility which he will be in no position to enforce, if the previous history of the IRA and its fellow travellers is anything to go by?
Paragraph 14 provides that the captain of a vehicle, ship or aircraft is responsible, for the examination of those people whenever they are being lined up like sheep to answer questions. Why are the forces of law and order not responsible? The captain is also responsible for the lists of passengers and crew. What happens if someone tells him lies? Is he responsible for the lives of his passengers or crew?
These points have not been looked at seriously. They seem to place upon the officer concerned a great responsibility which he is incapable of fulfilling with the knowledge at his disposal.
Has anyone been removed from Northern Ireland under these provisions? I raised the question of a couple in my constituency suspected of certain violent acts and stone throwing. They went to prison some months ago and all at once the "rent-a-riot" business seemed to suffer a disastrous setback. I hope that the Minister will take a long hard look at this couple when they reappear in the streets.
The whole question of control of terrorism in Northern Ireland is related to control of the border. We are told repeatedly that the border cannot be controlled, but that is an admission of failure by successive Governments. The House is supposed to be responsible for the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom. Yet it apparently cannot control 200 to 300 miles of border sufficiently 139 closely to stop terrorists from coming across. That is a serious admission of failure and I hope that the Government will correct it.
Law-abiding people would be perfectly prepared to accept any steps taken to control the exit and inflow of terrorists and terrorist materials to and from Northern Ireland. People might grumble when steps were taken to prevent them from running across the border or causing them to go a couple of miles out of their way, but they would be more than content if the result was adequate control of the border. The border must be controlled if the problem of terrorism is to be solved.
In previous debates on this subject we have been told that this measure would strike at the root of terrorism. But the root of terrorism in Northern Ireland is the Provisional IRA, and the root of the IRA is its finance and its ability to raise money for its evil deeds. While this Order is primarily concerned with the movement of people, the Government should look at the situation on the ground, particularly in Belfast. They should look at the widespread use of legitimate front businesses set up by terror organisations, because this use makes the IRA's financial base much stronger. If the IRA is to be defeated, we must destroy its hope of victory for once and for all. That hope is still present.
The Order is a little like giving an aspirin to a man with cancer. I do not believe that a measure such as this can cut it out. It is at best a help if properly and rigorously applied and that application is perfectly acceptable to the law abiding.
If one thinks back to the declared programme of the IRA on the first day that it appeared on the streets and in the villages of Northern Ireland, one must agree that many of the things which it demanded have been won. Perhaps the Minister does not go along with that, but if he were to ask people in Northern Ireland he would find that they would not agree with him and unless the position is reversed and the IRA is seen to be losing, it will maintain its hope of victory and continue with its wickedness and evil.
We must consider persons who are believed to be members of the IRA, such 140 as Martin McGuinness who was arrested and had to be released. In fact, he almost begged to be arrested. Surely there can be a categorical statement about their status in the eyes of the law. This should be done, because it does the law no good for it to be brought into disrepute in such instances.
We must also consider the law of sedition and take account of speeches such as those made in Londonderry some months ago by Kevin Agnew and Mairi Drumm. We must bear in mind the anger that such speeches create among political opponents.
I now come to consider the removal of persons from Northern Ireland. What is the position of persons who enjoy dual citizenship which, in the eyes of the Dublin Government, every person born in Northern Ireland can claim? They can claim citizenship of the Irish Republic. They can hold, and I believe that a Member of this House does hold, an Irish passport.
If a document has to be produced at a point of embarkation, is an Irish passport considered to be good and sufficient proof of a person's nationality? Is it considered good and sufficient proof of his identity? Is it acceptable that this system of dual citizenship should continue in the present situation in Ireland?
During the previous debate, when the Minister was talking about embarkation cards, it was said that as soon as the Government had more details action would be taken. If this Order is an indication of the seriousness with which the Government treat the prevention of terrorism in the United Kingdom, if this is an indication of the determination with which they are fighting terrorism in Northern Ireland, God help the people of Ulster.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. James Molyneaux (Antrim, South)
At the risk of engaging in some repetition, I want to cover the three main points which have been dealt with so far in the debate. In doing so, one might be able to illustrate the different experiences of hon. Members sitting on the same Bench. Those different experiences reflect different procedures, and those different procedures imply, and in practice mean, a weakness in the system.
141 I want, first, to deal with the problem of documentation. When we are approaching a British airport, particularly Heathrow, airline hostesses and stewardesses invariably warn us that we shall be expected to produce some form of identity card or proof of identity. On occasions I have even heard it suggested that we might produce bank cheque cards. How that can be regarded as any kind of satisfactory proof of identity within the meaning of this Order, I fail to understand.
Let me relate my recent experience when coming through Heathrow Airport. I was following two of my colleagues who are perhaps more widely known and more highly respected than I am. They were passed through without any request for proof of identity. I was detained with the usual little tap on the elbow and "Excuse me, sir. Can you produce any proof of your identity'?" I thought that I could not do better than produce the pass that authorises me, as a suspect, to gain access to this House.
The examining officer asked whether I had an airline ticket. I said "No, there was only a carbon copy left—a utility model which had come apart—and I threw it away". He was not asking for the airline ticket as confirmation of the House of Commons pass which I had submitted to him. He regarded the House of Commons pass as being of little account. The British Airways voucher—and a faint copy it would be at that stage—seemed to be a superior proof of identity.
The examining officer wanted to know whether I could go back to look for my ticket. I told him that it was on the other side of the Irish Sea and I had not enough time to engage in that sort of operation. He asked me whether I had a ticket. I said "I listened to the proceedings before the House of the Act which governs your procedure, when I heard reference to authority being given to examining officers to delegate authority. Would it be impertinent to ask whether the reverse has occurred and British Airways have delegated to you the authority to check whether I paid for my airline ticket?" At that point he said "You had better go on".
That story illustrates the problems which arise and the discrepancy which 142 exists between the cast-iron system at Gatwick and the walk-through system at Heathrow. I understand that for 18 months it has been standard practice at Gatwick for passengers to complete and produce embarkation and disembarkation cards. That kind of card of itself is not accepted as proof. It is also necessary to produce a document of identity, just as at Heathrow. Why are those two proofs of identity necessary at one airport and not at the other?
At Glasgow Airport the position is different. Passengers waiting to board the flight for Belfast are asked to complete a card similar to the one used at Gatwick. It is collected from the passengers before they are allowed to board the aircraft. At those three airports there are three entirely different systems.
Difficulties are experienced at Stranraer. I have had occasion to write to the former Secretary of State for Scotland about that matter. The examining officers are often inexperienced and not very tactful, and frequently friction and misunderstandings arise. On the last occasion I tactfully suggested that someone should take a look at the system and the personnel at Stranraer to see whether the procedures could be made to work more smoothly, as I received more complaints from passengers using Stranraer than from those using other points of embarkation. I was told, perhaps not quite so politely, that there was nothing strange about that as practically all passengers went by Stranraer anyway. I cannot imagine that Stranraer can compete with Heathrow in the numbers game, and I do not receive streams of complaints from Heathrow. The complaints I receive are not from passengers from Northern Ireland but from citizens of Great Britain who have not been told of the proofs which will be required. Very little understanding of their problem is shown.
I come to the main weakness in the system, which is the lack of control at the frontier. At the weekend there was a demonstration of some consequence in Dublin. I imagine that one-third of those who participated in it probably came from Northern Ireland. As the Order was in force long before the weekend, were those people checked when they were leaving the United Kingdom—namely, when they were crossing the 143 Northern Ireland border—and, even more important, will they be checked as they return to the United Kingdom across the land frontier of the United Kingdom? I would imagine that the security forces would have a very deep interest in these people.
§ Mr. Wm. Ross
Following up the matter raised by my hon. Friend regarding the identification of those who crossed into the Republic over the weekend, can the Minister confirm or deny a report which I have received that at the time of Frank Stagg's funeral the Royal Ulster Constabulary was not allowed to check the identity of persons in buses who travelled to that funeral, contrary to former practice?
§ Mr. Molyneaux
I am grateful for that contribution by my hon. Friend. Indeed, it was the reports of that incident and other such happenings that led me to make my simple request to the Minister of State to which I hope he will be able to give a satisfactory answer.
Article 5(3) of the Order provides for examination within one mile of the border. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. McCusker) will agree readily that examination by any form of official or examining officer in that zone in certain parts of their constituencies would be a hazardous occupation, to say the very least. In many cases the examining officer himself would have to be protected if he were to carry out his duties, and even his protectors would be putting themselves at considerable risk, security being what it is in certain parts of those constituencies.
If that is the case, does it make sense to say "We cannot have people in that bit of the border zone, so we will shift them over and deal with them in a rather more comfortable part. We will let the suspects go free"? As my right hon. Friend said, it is ludicrous that once they are free from this zone they can apparently go scot-free: they cannot be checked up on when they get to their intended area of operations deep inside Northern Ireland.
Surely the very existence of this so-called frontier zone is an incentive to terrorists to increase their domination of 144 that area and thereby move the frontier of the United Kingdom back. I join my hon. Friend in pleading with the Government to renew and redouble their determination to extend the control of the security forces to all parts of the United Kingdom—in this area right up to the frontier itself. It is there that effective checks should be made.
The Minister of State can be assured that my colleagues and I will do everything we can to assist Her Majesty's Government in all their efforts to combat terrorism in all parts of the United Kingdom. Our contributions tonight and in earlier debates when we have discussed the related legislation have been and are designed to make the legislation much more effective.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)
I hope that if I merely seek to raise a point of drafting, it will not be thought that I wish to diminish in any way the powerful matters raised by hon. Members from Northern Ireland.
I apologise also for repeating a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) on Order No. 465, which I feel was not adequately dealt with by the hon. Lady the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department in that earlier debate. I hope that the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, will be more receptive, bearing in mind the differences between Order No. 466 and Order No. 465. I know that the people concerned in drafting these matters are normally the most astute in considering the accuracy and effect of language.
I wish to refer to Article 5 of the Order, and in particular to what can fairly be described as a shoddy piece of drafting. Article 5(1) requires an examining officer to examine any persons who havearrived in or are seeking to leave Northern Ireland by ship or aircraft for the purpose of determining—(a) whether any such person appears to be a person who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".The object of using words in similar circumstances in other items of legislation is to eliminate confusion. Therefore, it is most important that the words used in this Order can be easily understood 145 by the persons against whom they are to be used and also that they should be easily understood by those who will have to enforce the regulations. The words should be such as to protect the citizen against frivolous or unjustified use of the power of detention, because that is what is involved in giving an examining officer power to examine.
When the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department was asked on Order No. 465 what "appears to be" meant, she said that it meant reasonable grounds for suspecting that such a person was a terrorist or was concerned with acts of terrorism. But if that is what it means, that is what it should say. When somebody who has to administer this legislation examines those words, he cannot look to see what explanation was given by a Minister in this place. He has to interpret the words as they appear on the face of the document. The wordsappears to be a personare much too wide for the protection of the citizen against frivolous detention. The phrase is much too wide for the simple appreciation of its meaning by those who have to enforce the law. What is the normally accepted meaning of such words in this situation relates to whether there are reasonable grounds for suspicion.
I wish to suggest a better way of drafting the provision. I suggest that the provision should read:An examining officer may examine any person who have arrived in or are seeking to leave Northern Ireland by ship or air-craft—
and I insert the word "reasonable" because it is absent but is normally there and ought to be there:
- (a) if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that such persons have been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; or
- (b) to determine whether any such person is subject to an exclusion order;
- (c) if there are reasonable grounds"—for suspecting that any such person has committed an offence under section 9 or 11 of the Act.If legislation is properly worded, it causes less trouble for those who administer it and for those who have to decide what it means in the courts. I ask the Minister to bear that in mind so that drafting is 146 properly considered when legislation as important as this is before the House.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
We welcome this Order but I share some of the doubts about Article 5 that have been so clearly expressed by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). If we are serious about the control of the land frontier, and I hope that we are, I warn the Minister of State that Article 5(3) will not work. I ask the Minister whether it is seriously intended that in South Armagh examining officers will soon be on regular duty within one mile of the border. If not, yet another blow will have been struck at the prestige and authority of the Government in Northern Ireland.
I suspect that the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) may well be right when he suggests that the difficulties over the implementation of this part of the Order will strengthen the hand of those who are pressing for the introduction of more general identity cards in Northern Ireland. When I first read Article 8 I had assumed that we were about to see, at least for a period, the general introduction of embarkation and landing cards for all sea and air travellers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. After listening to the exchange between my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) and the Under-Secretary during the debate on the last Order, I am totally baffled about the Government's intentions.
The security forces have been enormously helped in recent years by the accumulation and recording of quantities of low-level information about the movement of individuals in certain parts of Northern Ireland. It is not impossible to imagine that the wholesale collection and scrutiny of landing and embarkation cards could be of substantial benefit to the security forces. There is only one way to see whether the widespread use of such cards is worth the effort and that is to try them over a period of months and evaluate the results.
It would be interesting to know whether the landing cards that have been handed in at Gatwick in the course of the past 18 months have produced any information of value to the security forces. I hope that the Government have plans in this 147 area which are more sensible and precise than those so far unveiled.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Roland Moyle)
We have had a lengthy debate on the Northern Ireland Order to which a number of hon. Members have contributed. I drew great comfort from the fact that a number of hon. Members opposite said that they would fully support any Government measures which were necessary to defeat terrorism. Therefore, it should be assumed that the motion was purely a technicality for the purposes of debate and that broadly the House supported the provisions which the Government were making to control the movement into and out of Northern Ireland and, in the case of the other Order, Great Britain.
The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) raised the drafting point which had been raised earlier by the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison) with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. I was brought up never to draft in Committee. I am sure that drafting in Committee. whatever its dangers, is not half as dangerous as drafting in the House. Therefore, I shall not commit myself to making any specific changes in the Order.
However, I have studied the article to which the hon. Member for Burton drew attention. As far as I can see, Article 5(1) (a) is crystal clear. If an examining officer wants to question someone to ascertain whether heappears to be a person who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorismhe may do so. Whether that is the best basis for conducting an examination is another matter.
Therefore, after the debate I shall go to a quiet place and think more deeply about the hon. Gentleman's words and the concept which the Order appears to convey and consider whether it is necessary to make alterations. I am sensible that there may be a point here for consideration, and I promise that it will be considered.
§ Mr. Lawrence
In particular, will the hon. Gentleman consider whether it is 148 necessary for there to be reasonable grounds for examining?
§ Mr. Moyle
It is clear that the wording in the Order does not convey the idea of reasonable grounds. It is to that point that I should like to turn my attention. There may bra fully justified reasons for questioning people to secure an appearance.
I should like to be slightly critical of the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart), who is normally a responsible contributor to our debates on Northern Ireland. To say, in view of the wording of Article 5(3), that if an examining officer is not on duty within one mile of the South Armagh border following the passage of the Order it will be a blow struck at the prestige of the British Government is a very irresponsible statement, because, as he knows, the control of terrorism is a Province-wide business.
How the security forces are deployed within the Province to deal with terrorism is an operational matter, but the problem of controlling terrorism on the border is a matter not only for South Armagh but for the whole border. Indeed, it is a matter of the deployment of forces throughout the Province. This power is exercised under the Emergency Powers Act not only by constables, immigration officers and Customs and Excise officials, but by the Armed Forces of the Crown who are permanently deployed throughout the Province in aid of the civil power. I hope that on reflection the hon. Gentleman will agree that he was perhaps slightly extravagant in his use of language.
Article 5(3) does not say that examining officers willexamine any person found in Northern Ireland within a distance of one mile from the border".It says that they may do so. It is a question of exercising all these controls on a selective basis. If we tried to control everybody crossing the border, coming into a port or using an airport, the whole system would choke. I hope that hon. Members accept that the whole basis of the operation is to select the area and the person, in order that the flow of persons and goods, wherever they may be, may carry on at the same time as a reasonably rigorous effort is made to ensure that 149 people intending to engage in terrorist activity do not do so.
§ Mr. Goodhart
We recognise that there are difficulties in South Armagh in getting within one mile of the border. But in choosing the wording of Article 5(3) the Government have made the task of the security forces that much more difficult, in that the area in which the security forces have to operate is precisely defined. I fully accept that the article says that people may be questioned, not that they will be, but if people are never questioned within one mile of the frontier in South Armagh the blow to the Government's authority will be severe.
§ Mr. Moyle
That considerably limits the statement that the hon. Gentleman made, but he and the House must remember that it is only the powers in the Order which are exercisable within one mile of the frontier. Thereafter, apart from the special case of the railways, if people process beyond the one-mile zone other powers can be exercised by other persons on much the same lines throughout the whole Province. One has only to recall the substantial finds of explosives which have taken place in the Province well beyond the one-mile zone to realise that no one can conclude that, as a result of the Order, once he gets beyond the one-mile zone he may heave a sigh of relief and act with total freedom. That is not so.
I want to conclude this part of my remarks by making the point that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) asked me to make. The Government are determined to exercise the most rigorous practical control of the border that we can. All the resources and planning of many men and women are devoted to that purpose. We intend to maintain the integrity of the border to the maximum degree from the security point of view. There are many thousands of people involved in this operation in the Province. Whereas we cannot claim perfection, although it is our aim to achieve it if possible, we are putting in a substantial effort to control security, and not only on our side of the border. I am happy to say that as time goes by we are receiving better and better co-operation from the other side of the border in the interests also of the security of the Irish Republic. This has improved matters considerably.
150 The right hon. Member for Down, South raised many problems. It is true that Article 6 speaks of a person being required by an examining officer toproduce either a valid passport with photograph or some other document satisfactorily establishing his identity and nationality or citizenship".My attention was drawn to the fact that people at the various ports require documents to be produced which show identity but do not in practice, in most cases, establish nationality or citizenship. There are two points to be made here. First, the person entering Northern Ireland will only have to produce this document if required to do so by the examining officer. He does not have to have it with him. Second, it is all based on the concept of what the reasonable man in the court would accept as the proper evidence and what was proper in the circumstances.
Obviously, if a specific document requiring nationality or citizenship as well as identity to be proved is not made mandatory, the whole standard becomes much less rigorous, and it is assumed that the examining officer will deduce, from such evidence as is available, sufficient evidence in most cases to make an assessment of the identity of the citizenship or the nationality of the person with whom he is dealing. If the officer is unreasonable in that respect, the citizen may seek protection through the normal course of the law.
Here we immediately come to the whole question of identity cards, raised by several Members during the course of the debate. As hon. Members have already heard from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Home Secretary, following advice on the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Powers Act—especially the former—undertook once again to seek the advice of the Metropolitan Police in particular on whether identity cards were a reasonable way of controlling this sort of movement. The advice given to him by the police is that a system of identity cards would not be generally helpful. That is also the advice independently given to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland by the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
151 It seems to me, therefore, that we should have to be very sure indeed of our ground as a Government in overthrowing two separate sets of independent police advice and introducing identity cards, because the police argument is that identity cards, if introduced on a standard basis for everyone, could be very easily forged and would therefore be less of a protection than the present system now adopted.
§ Mr. Powell
I quite accept the distinction between an immigration control function and the function implied by the Order, but, after listening carefully to the Minister of State, I am even less able to understand the reason why the words "and nationality or citizenship" appear at all. I can understand the purpose of a document, which may be a passport, which establishes the identity of a person. After all, one has a list of people against whom there are exclusion orders, and one wants to know whether this fellow is one of them, and who he is. But it seems to me that these very words confuse the distinction between immigration control and the purposes of the Order —that very distinction which the hon. Member is making. I am still puzzled why a document which establishes nationality as well as identity is specifically indicated as one of the two kinds on which the examining officer can, at his discretion, insist.
§ Mr. Moyle
I am afraid that I must apologise to the right hon. Gentleman, because I misunderstood his point. I thought that his point was the practical one that there are documents which in many cases can establish identity but which do not necessarily establish nationality and that people might be put to embarrassment by the rather vague indication about nationality. I did not realise that the right hon. Gentleman was seeking to discover the purpose of the introduction of nationality or citizenship. I shall have to undertake to look into that and to clarify it later.
§ Mr. Powell
The hon. Gentleman has shown a great desire to take every item in this Order seriously. If he will undertake to do that, may I draw his attention to the fact that in Article 4(4) (a) the pasenger list is also supposed to include 152 the nationality or citizenship of every passenger. It seems that we are writing into this Order several requirements which are to be what Shakespeare did not mean by sayingMore honour'd in the breach than the observance
§ Mr. William Craig (Belfast, East)
Meantime, may I ask the Minister to give some positive guidance to members of the public travelling tomorrow from Belfast to London? Under these powers, an examining officer may ask for a document establishing nationality. Are the Government saying to the travelling public "Carry this document with you"?
§ Mr. Moyle
I do not think that the Government would want specifically to advise any single document to be carried by travellers. The argument of the examining officers is that if they have the power to request the production of documents which give an indication to them of who a person is or what his nationality or citizenship is, rather than a specific official document, they are more likely to get at the truth of the matter. Therefore, the more documents of identity that a person carries with him, the more likely he is to be able to establish the validity of his position. I should not like to go into more specific advice to travellers between London and Belfast than that.
This is a matter which I myself come across quite often as I enter Government offices. I find that the security guards at Government offices switch from day to day, and I am frequently asked to produce identification. Sometimes I can wave my bag which has on itMinister of State, Northern IrelandAt other times I produce my official pass. At other times I show my driving licence. Sometimes I show my House of Commons identification card, which I still have although it indicates a different constituency from the one which I represent now. I think that the position is similar for ordinary members of the public travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
The right hon. Member for Down, South also asked about landing cards at 153 Gatwick and Heathrow and the different practices which prevailed. As I understand it, the position at the moment is that there is no legal requirement to fill in a landing card at any airport at which passengers may arrive in the United Kingdom. The requirement at Gatwick can only be because the person responsible in the area thinks that it would be a good idea and has therefore requested that landing cards be filled in by people landing at Gatwick. But there is no legal requirement on hon. Members or members of the travelling public to fill in these landing cards.
As a result of the passage of this Order, which became effective on 27th March, the Secretary of State now has the power to require people to fill in landing cards in the form which he wants them to take. But that will not operate until the Secretary of State actually puts his requirement into operation, when there will have to be publicity. Until the Secretary of State exercises his powers under Article 8, there is no legal power to require anybody to fill in a landing or embarkation card.
§ Mr. Powell
I am grateful to the Minister for resolving at least part of the conundrum. It appears that compulsion turns upon the word "direct" as applied to the Secretary of State. But I hope he will explain why 100 per cent. of examining officers have this bright idea at Gatwick while the officers at Heathrow do not have it.
I understand that some officers may take a different view in different circumstances, but it appears irrational to my hon. Friends and myself and to members of the public that something should be thought essential, if only as a request, at Gatwick but not at all necessary at Heathrow.
§ Mr. Moyle
For obvious reasons, I am not sure that it would be in the general interest to go into a detailed explanation of why these considerations apply at Gatwick but not at Heathrow. However, I shall look into the matter to see whether there is an explanation which may be made public.
The right hon. Member for Down, South also asked who authorised the type of embarkation card used at Gatwick. This is not a matter for me. I shall draw it to the attention of my right hon. Friend 154 the Home Secretary in case there is an official position which needs explaining.
I have dealt with the right hon. Member's views on the question of the frontier, the border zone and the enforcement of security throughout the Province. I have also given an undertaking that we shall exercise the maximum force in our power to control the border.
I cannot give the right hon. Member the specific details for which he asked on the question of the railways. I shall find out what provision is made for examination and control at Belfast and Portadown. There are, of course, the full powers of the Order which may be exercised in respect of any train within one mile of the border. This is an extension of existing specific powers.
The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) asked why the Armed Forces of the Crown did not have the same powers of policing this sort of movement in Great Britain as they had in Northern Ireland. The reason is that in Northern Ireland they arc specifically committed to the support of the civil power under the emergency powers legislation.
I think I have dealt with the points raised by the hon. Member in relation to identity cards in my reply to general points. My view will not be new to him. He has put the same case on several occasions and has had the same reply. I understand the feelings he expresses about identity cards, but we are continually given technical advice that the idea is not the best way of controlling movements.
The hon. Member for Londonderry also raised the question of people coming across the border in buses and trains and how they should be returned over the border. An examining officer has the power to return a vehicle across the border. But there is power for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to make specific arrangements for returning people across the border.
It is not our intention wilfully to put to considerable inconvenience perhaps 40 or 50 people because one person is a source of suspicion. Arrangements can be made to transfer such a person to another vehicle or to a train going in the other direction. Many such arrangements could be made to return people across the border.
155 The hon. Gentleman also drew attention to the obligations laid on captains of aircraft and of ships as opposed to owners. I agree that a greater onus appears to be laid on captains than on owners. The legal powers of captains in control of ships and aircraft are, under the general law of the land, somewhat greater than those of the owners once those ships are tied up in port or those aircraft are at an airfield.
The hon. Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) in his effective way concentrated on the general theme of the whole debate. I think that I have probably answered the points that he made in dealing with the points made by other hon. Members, apart from the activities of examining officers at Stranraer. I promise to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to that matter.
The hon. Member for Londonderry referred specifically to the evidence of a Republic of Ireland passport in the administration of the Order. The use of an Irish passport is just as good to estab- 156 lish identity as the use of any other passport, including a Russian or Chinese passport, as well as a British passport. I think that someone producing a Republic of Ireland passport would be in a strong position to prove his identity and citizenship. However, it must not be assumed that, because a passport is in order, that is the end of the matter.
The right hon. Member for Down, South referred to nationality and citizenship. I am advised that that is relevant to the question of exclusion since United Kingdom citizens may not be excluded in certain circumstances where non-United Kingdom citizens may. Since the examination may lead to exclusion under Article 5, it is reasonable to allow that such documents may be required.
I think that I have covered all the points made in the debate. I hope that the House will be satisfied, except in so far as I have promised to write to hon. Members, with the explanations which I have given and that the motion to annul the Order will be withdrawn.
§ Question put and negatived