§ 15. Mr. Molyneaux
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider laying before the House at regular intervals reports on the progress of operations against the IRA and other terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
A report "Statistics on Security" is produced quarterly, providing a wide range of statistical material about the extent of terrorist violence and the operations of the security forces. Copies of these reports are placed in the Library. I also keep the House fully informed about the Government's security policy.
§ Mr. Molyneaux
Does the Secretary of State agree that, instead of appearing to react to terrorist acts, it would be better to institute a system of detailed reporting, either to this House or perhaps to another form of parliamentary forum?
§ Mr. Rees
All such information is contained in the report which I have with me and a copy of which was placed in the Library on 8th March. It contains details of the number of incidents, explosions, bombs and devices neutralised, the number of houses searched, the amount of explosives recovered, and the number of people served with various orders. The information is there. I asked for it to be placed in the Library some time ago because the report is far better able to tell what is happening in Northern Ireland than piecemeal Answers to Questions in the House.
§ Mr. Powell
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility in this House, would it not be more appropriate for these reports now to be raised to the dignity of Command Papers?
§ Mr. Rees
I will consider that suggestion, because I agree that what matters is that a wide variety of people should have the chance to see this information. It is the information which I study daily with my security advisers. It tells a different story from the situation indicated by some unusual occurrence.