§ Mr. Allan Roberts (Bootle)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the adverse effect of the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act on community relationships on Merseyside.This request to adjourn the House is not a sign that I support violence or terrorism. I do not believe that the Prevention of Terrorism Act helps to prevent terrorism. Indeed, I believe that it is counter-productive and causes us to play into the hands of the IRA.
The issue is specific because it relates to statements made in a broadcast on Radio City — which is Merseyside's local radio station—by three Irishmen who were detained under the Act, two of whom, after seven days in custody, were released without charge. One of the three, James McCormack, was fined £150 for giving false information to the police. He said that his name was Jimmy Young. He was drunk in Liverpool on Christmas eve and as he was Irish as well he was arrested under the Act.
The issue is specific because all three men make serious allegations about how they were treated while in custody. These allegations include being kept in a cell with a large light shining on them all the time, being released in driving rain wearing only socks, having their houses raided by detectives who found nothing, being made to wear only paper overalls in freezing cold, being fiercely and unfairly interrogated and threatened, and being subjected to many other acts designed to cause degradation. These three men were held without evidence. Two of them were never charged and surely they were innocent until proven guilty.
The issue is urgent because of the effect that the Act is having on Merseyside. Once again, sectarian conflict is, regrettably, occurring on the streets where previously Catholics and Protestants of Irish descent have lived in harmony. If a debate were allowed on this issue, I could speak passionately as one brought up a Protestant who represents probably one of the most Catholic of constituencies. The matter is urgent because the Act's implementation is seen to be anti-Irish and anti-Catholic. Merseyside holds the record for the number of people detained under the Act since 1974. I understand that on Merseyside 1,354 have been detained and only one has been charged under the Act.
This is an urgent and serious matter, as the House should hold dear our civil liberties. We are opposed to the people of violence because such people would destroy our liberties. But the very liberties that we wish to safeguard are now being destroyed by the Act.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the adverse effect of the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act on community relations on Merseyside.I have listened with interest and care to what the hon. Member has said, but I regret that I do not consider that the matter he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 10. I cannot therefore submit his application to the House. However, I think that he will find other ways of raising the matter.