HC Deb 13 January 1977 vol 923 cc1625-6
6. Mr. van Straubenzee

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he intends to be present, or to be represented, at the 59th Session of the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe on 27th January, when the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism is opened for signature.

Mr. Mason

No, Sir. The United Kingdom will be represented by a Foreign: and Commonwealth Office Minister.

Mr. van Straubenzee

In a week that has seen deplorably spineless action by the French Government in regard to terrorism, is not this convention ever more important, and would not the presence of a Northern Ireland Minister at the signing, which I appreciate is essentially a Foreign and Commonwealth Office matter, encourage the Government of the Republic of Eire also to sign fully, so demonstrating clearly that it is joining others in rooting out terrorism in all parts of the island of Ireland?

Mr. Mason

We are straying into the Foreign Office field rather than the question of my own personal responsibilities, but I hope—I have noticed the motions on the Order Paper—that the House will not be misled into feeling that the convention has been denounced because of the activities of the French in the recent terrorist case. The convention itself has not yet come into being. The signing is not until 27th January, and we shall have to wait for at least three Council of Europe countries to ratify after that.

Mr. Marten

Under paragraph 5 of the Command Paper which we debated on Monday, did the Ministers of the Common Market not agree to do everything they could to suppress terrorism? Ireland is a member of the Common Market.

Mr. Mason

The hon. Gentleman may be right, but that Government is not yet bound by the Suppression of Terrorism Convention. The signatures will be called for on 27th January and we intend to sign and to ratify. We hope that every other country in the Council of Europe, including the Republic, will do so. In doing so, we shall take a major step forward in the capture of terrorists within Northern Ireland. Those that have fled to the South will have no political argument for remaining there.

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