HC Deb 04 July 1985 vol 82 cc545-75 4.41 pm
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'invites the Government to continue to promote measures which encourage peace, stability and good relations between the two communities in Northern Ireland; invites both communities to work to these ends; recognises the contribution which improved relations with the Government of the Republic of Ireland can make in furthering these objectives; and recognises the need to maintain a firm security policy under the law.'. Hon. Members on the Unionist Opposition Benches have, I think, chosen an admirable theme for their Supply day, and the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) moved the motion in a clear and calm way. I think that it is an admirable theme because stability under the law is the first need of any society. It is not always present in Northern Ireland, and that is certainly the main shortcoming in Northern Ireland today. We discussed last week in two debates the details of this, and therefore I need today only to set out again, briefly, how we, the Government, work to achieve the stability which the Opposition and the hon. Member for Belfast, South rightly wish to see.

The motion that the Unionists have tabled selects one particular matter as destabilising, to use their phrase, and that is the talks between the British and Irish Governments, so I ought to deal with that first.

I cannot advise the House to accept the unamended motion that the Unionist party has tabled, but I notice that it is couched in moderate terms. It does not ask us to refuse discussions with the Irish Republic but to bring them to an early termination. It does not ask us to reject any agreement with the Irish Government but to publish any conclusions in a White Paper.

The origins of this round of discussions between the two Governments have been often discussed in the House. The House knows that they originated in the Chequers summit communiqué, which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach issued after that summit, in which they reaffirmed the constitutional guarantee of the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, and went on to say that they wanted to find ways of reflecting the identity of both communities in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to the United States Congress on 20 February, my right hon. Friend said: Garret FitzGerald and I will continue to consult together in the quest for stability"— note the same word as in the motion— in Northern Ireland and hope we will have your continued support for our joint efforts to find a way forward. Both my right hon. Friend and I have made it clear on numerous occasions that there is no intention on the Government's part either to transfer or to share with others outside Northern Ireland in some scheme for joint authority the exercise of executive power in the Province.

The discussions with the Irish Government are, I think I can safely say, reasonably well advanced. I cannot say this afternoon exactly when they will come to a conclusion, nor can I say whether that conclusion will be a successful agreement. There is work still to be done. I suspect that it will not be all that long now before we know one way or another, but we do not know, I do not know, no one knows, this afternoon.

I recognise the point made in the motion that in this period there are press reports that confuse and that can create anxiety. I think many Opposition Members will recognise that there are in the Province people who are anxious that there should be anxiety. There are people whose aim is not stability, but rather keeping the temperature high.

However, I recognise that there is also genuine anxiety in the majority community born out of many sufferings and the strong feelings of a community that has often felt beleaguered and threatened. I ask them to accept that, if discussions are to be serious, they do sometimes have to be in confidence until they are concluded. I think that it is almost implicit in the motion that they do accept this. This is true in many walks of life, and often in transactions between Governments.

I must tell the House that it would be rather easier for me personally in the job that I have if I were able to break confidences and deal faithfully with the rumours that have been circulating, but I am not so free at present. All that I can give the hon. Member for Belfast, South this afternoon is the assurance that, as soon as the present round of talks comes to an end, whether they succeed or fail, the outcome will be fully and openly announced. Obviously, if they result in any agreement, the House will have an opportunity to discuss and take a view on that agreement.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (South Down)

When the Prime Minister in the last few days entered into discussions on behalf of this country with the representatives of other nations, she set out clearly to the House what the objectives were, what she wanted, what she was prepared to accept and what she was not prepared to accept. Would it not be helpful if the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would do that in the relations between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, which are much more tense and which concern much more directly the stability of the Province?

Mr. Hurd

If the right hon. Gentleman would look up the account that my right hon. Friend gave to the House after the Chequers summit, he will see there set out exactly the same sort of explanation and analysis of objectives as my right hon. Friend gave the other day after the Milan summit. The aim of the talks, as the right hon. Gentleman will see if he looks up that reference, the aim of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and of our colleagues, is increased stability, to take place within the framework of the assurances that we have been given and to which I have referred.

The hon. Member for Belfast, South, as I expected, made a connection between the subject which he raised — the talks — and the tradition of parades and marches, which is part of the summer scene in Northern Ireland. At its best, that tradition is cheerful and festive, and both communities organise such events. Last year 2,200 parades took place in Northern Ireland of which the police knew, and no doubt there were many of which they did not know. I happened to ask how many there were three days ago, and the answer was 41 on one day alone.

Of course, the parades in themselves are a display of solidarity, but it is a display that can be made without any sense of insult or provocation to others. Neither the Chief Constable nor I have any desire to interfere with parades of this kind, let alone to impose a general ban such as was imposed in the last days of Stormont rule. Every evening at this time of year, dozens of such parades are taking place in every one of the six counties along routes agreed with the police without difficulty in calm and good-tempered circumstances, as I have seen for myself. The difficulty arises with a few of the proposed parades. Some of those, as the hon. Member for Belfast, South said, are not traditional but have sprung up in recent years in a deliberate attempt to provoke those who live in the streets through which they seek to pass.

One example is the parade at Castlewellan, which I banned last week. More than 90 per cent. of the citizens of Castlewellan are Catholics. The proposed parade was overwhelmingly an affair of outsiders, who wished to put the stamp of Protestant ascendancy upon a Catholic town. I had no difficulty in agreeing with the Chief Constable's recommendation that I should ban that parade in the interests of public order. It seemed to me that the organisers were playing into the hands of Sinn Fein and the IRA, and that if I had allowed the parade to take place I should have merely confirmed the untrue accusations of Sinn Fein and the IRA about the biased nature of direct rule. This year, or some year soon, there would probably have been a sectarian riot. The organisers of the parade, as the House will have noted, tried to defy the ban, and there were scenes of law breaking. Fortunately, the RUC was able to uphold the ban. Those who tried to overturn it did a bad service to Northern Ireland.

There are other parades — I am following the hon. Member's analysis — which are traditional but whose nature has changed over the years. In many cases, that is not the fault of the original organisers. In some cases, crude and provocative bands from miles away attach themselves to what used to be an orderly occasion. In other cases, a route which was once through green fields and passed friendly houses now runs through streets inhabited by the other community. A threat to public order can thus be feared, as at Portadown, in the next few weeks.

The correct answer in such cases—I repeat that they are a small minority — is for the organisers and the police to work out a different route that avoids the danger. I must stress that routes are not a matter for the Secretary of State. Under the law, they are rightly the responsibility of the police and the Chief Constable. The Chief Constable must choose place by place, parade by parade, how far he must insist on re-routeing if negotiations with the organisers break down.

Anyone who has experience of such matters will acknowledge that those are difficult decisions. I am sure that it is right that they should not be imposed from Stormont castle under some general policy. The decisions should be taken individually, as the law provides, by the Chief Constable, probably late in the day, in the light of his assessment of the needs of public order.

Sir John Hermon will have my full support in the decisions that he makes on the routeing of parades. I have heard it suggested — though diffidently by the hon. Gentleman today — that the Chief Constable's actions will be influenced by some form of interference or influence from Dublin. That is not so. The Irish Government's views about provocative parades are not hard to guess, but the Chief Constable's decisions on routes are taken on the ground of public order and stem from the genuine anxieties which he has clearly and repeatedly set out in his annual reports. He follows a policy line that he has openly explained and justified on the ground of public order in Northern Ireland.

The abuse, for provocative purposes, of the parading tradition cannot be reconciled with the need for stability in Northern Ireland. The best way to maintain the good things in the tradition which Opposition Members rightly respect, is to eliminate the abuse.

Without wishing to bore the House with a repetition of the points that I made during our debate last week, I wish to describe what we mean by the search for stability and a firm security policy under the law as set out in the amendment. We mean eradicating terrorism by bringing those suspected of terrorist acts before the courts. We mean keeping the security forces one step ahead through a flexible policy, by overt and covert patrolling, gaining the co-operation of local people and maximising good intelligence.

In this country we have had an important success in the past week or so, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has reported to the House. That success is important for Northern Ireland as well as for the rest of the kingdom. It will bring relief on the other side of the water as well as here. The House will not expect me to say more about that because at present I plainly cannot. The House will have noticed, however, that one of those charged was an escaped prisoner from the Maze. The House will also have deduced that that success was the result of co-operation between police forces within the kingdom, but co-operation does not and should not stop short at the border with the Republic.

I listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman said about border co-operation. I listened carefully to what the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) sand when he gave us a long analysis of his views on that subject in our debate last week. He said that although Garda Siochana and RUC worked together up to a point because they shared a profession, no hope of wider cooperation existed because, to a large extent, the political aims of the Irish Government and the IRA converged, and were bound to converge. In his view, security co-operation in any depth was thus a myth. I hope that I have not distorted what the right hon. Gentleman said.

In the day-to-day world of trying to face the problems and trying to find the right answers which will save lives and eradicate terrorism, I do not believe that that negative analysis makes sense, partly because we see, as the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Mr. Scott) pointed out, the Irish Government making major and successful efforts to combat terrorism. Those holding the positions that my hon. Friend I do must work as hard as they can to find a better and more systematic way of improving the cooperation that exists between the Irish Republic and the north. I believe that that is crucial to any sustained and remarkable improvement in the security position.

Anyone who has studied the facts and reports, for example, about home-made explosives, funds and the flow of weapons would, I think accept that cross-border security co-operation must be a prime aim if we are serious about the subject.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Is the right hon. Gentleman so innocent that he is unaware that the Irish Republic lays on finds and those operations when they fit the phase in which it finds itself in its negotiations with the British Government?

Mr. Hurd

I do not believe that I am innocent in those matters. I must take them seriously. I am not satisfied with the present level of co-operation. I should like to see it more sustained and systematic. I regard improving it as one of the essential aims of the Government and our security policy. Anyone who studies subject by subject the different sectors of security policy will be driven to that conclusion. I am not saying that that will be easy or that it will be achieved by a few sweet words or meetings. I am not denying the difficulties that plainly exist. I am saying that the aim is central——

Mr. McNamara

The Secretary of State has made an important statement because in the past we have had nothing from the Government Front Bench but praise for the degree of security co-operation that comes from the Republic. Will he tell us in what areas co-operation needs to be more sustained and more systematic so that we can then judge the basis of his argument?

Mr. Hurd

The analysis that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I have consistently given while I have been in this place is that security co-operation is good but that it could be improved. That work is essential to improve the protection available to the citizens of Northern Ireland.

I wish to discuss the role that the security forces play in working for stability, and I address myself, in particular, to Opposition Members.

The Opposition will accept that the security forces—the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Army and the Ulster Defence Regiment—are not present in Northern Ireland to impose the ascendancy of one community over another. That is emphatically not the purpose for which Parliament and United Kingdom taxpayers provide and sustain the security forces. The security forces are present to uphold the law even-handedly and to protect all law-abiding citizens from violence. There will be no stability in Northern Ireland unless that is true and seen to be true. I hope that Unionist Members will support that intention.

The decisions made by the security forces in attempting to exercise impartiality will sometimes be questioned or criticised. That is inevitable in a free society. I appreciate that there are fears of a slippery slope, that one step, one apparently reasonable concession, will lead to the exaction of another and that the slide will continue until the majority is eventually dragged unwillingly into a united Ireland. I can understand that fear because it has been explained to me cogently many times by people whose understanding of the majority community I respect, but I believe that it is an unreal fear.

The main evil in Northern Ireland is the calculated brutality of terrorism. Another evil, which feeds on that, is the inability in some places and in some sections of community life for the two communities to live in harmony. If Northern Ireland is to flourish there must be growth of co-operation across that boundary. There must be respect between the two communities. Whatever the outcome of the Anglo-Irish talks, we must seek to bring that harmony into existence. The Government will continue to work towards a form of devolution that will command the acceptance and involvement of both communities and enable the elected representatives to play a better, more active part in the decisions that affect the daily life of the Province.

I was glad to hear my favourite sentence from "The Way Forward" quoted today even though it was qualified. We must all keep alive and develop the spirit in which the authors wrote that document. Responsible people need to support the security forces if we are to suceed in bringing about peace and greater stability in the Province. They must appreciate that detailed decisions must be taken in the interests of Northern Ireland as a whole. I have made this point in the past to the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) and I am sorry that he is not present for this important debate. I make the same appeal to all Unionist Members.

Mr. James Molyneaux (Lagan Valley)

The hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) told me the day before yesterday that he had an important engagement with the Industrial Development Board in Northern Ireland, which he hoped might lead to further investment in the Province. That is the reason for his absence.

Mr. Hurd

I have clearly been unfair to the hon. Member for Foyle and I withdraw any criticism implied in my previous remarks about him.

In some respects what we ask is not easy. There is a large backlog of suspicions, incriminations, anxieties and feelings of insecurity that Unionist Members face when they return to Northern Ireland. The majority of people in Northern Ireland want peace and stability and regard them as great blessings, but those blessings are not the exclusive gift of Government. The Government have an essential part to play in creating these conditions but the responsibility lies not with us alone but with the elected representatives of the Province, with the community leaders and with the people.

I have tried to allay some of the anxieties that the hon. Member for Belfast, South raised in a calm manner when he opened the debate. I hope that I have shown some understanding of the anxieties that genuinely beset the people of the Province. The Government will not allow the greater stability — which is not yet perfect, but which has grown up in recent years and of which people in Northern Ireland are so proud—to be undone in a fit of midsummer frustration. That stability is too precious to be sacrificed in backlash and counter-reaction. We have seen in the past what lies down that road. That is why I commend the Government amendment to the House.

5.5 pm

Mr. Peter Archer (Warley, West)

The hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) ventilated some interesting thoughts, which I intend to pursue. First, however, I shall venture some reflections, partly philosophical and partly severely practical, which I hope will not fall outside the terms of the motion. The solutions on how best to govern Northern Ireland fall into three categories. First, there are long-term solutions — I use that expression in the sense of the permanency of the proposals rather than the length of time that we need take to achieve them. Secondly, there are medium-term solutions — measures to initiate the process of resolution and reconciliation. Thirdly, there are short-term solutions — measures that can be taken immediately without awaiting agreement on any other questions. I propose to discuss an example of the third category.

Between the hours of 2.30 am and 4.30 am today the House embarked on consideration of two orders of great importance to the people of Northern Ireland. The first embraced a wide range of powers available to local councils to improve the quality of life in their areas. I repeat now what I said then partly because the House was not then so tightly packed as it is now and also because at that hour it was unlikely that my remarks would receive much consideration from the media. I said that anyone who chose that late hour to concentrate his thoughts on future policy for a Chinese laundry would be inviting bankruptcy, yet the Government considered it an appropriate time to consider the future of Northern Ireland. I said that the order related to a wide diversity of powers, approval of one part not necessarily entailing approval of the others, and that there was room for argument about the extent of the powers and safeguards required. But the order was unamendable and the House was invited to take it or leave it in its entirety. There was no possibility of making improvements.

I suggested that it was not beyond our collective wisdom to devise a better way of considering Northern Ireland business, and the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell), in a kind reference to my remarks, made it clear that, whatever our differences on other issues, here we were in agreement. He suggested on behalf of his party that there might be talks between the Government, the official Opposition, the Official Unionist party and any other party which consented to participate to explore what could sensibly be done.

I mention this matter for two reasons. First, I was brought up in an area where forgings were an essential part of many industrial processes and the work was carried out by blacksmiths, so I learned quite literally what was meant by striking while the iron is hot. The Labour party would welcome discussions for the purpose outlined by the right hon. Member for South Down, and if there is any response we will do our best to contribute to their success. Secondly, what was suggested seems to illustrate the point which I have tried constantly to make, that talks for a limited purpose, with no preconditions that anyone should first embrace or renounce any specific opinion, may make a positive contribution to good government. We may find that we enjoy the process; it may become a habit.

I had hoped that the hon. Member for Belfast, South would suggest channels for agreement whereby his party might contemplate making concessions—that he would recognise the anxieties on the other side and hold out a hand. I say to him in all friendship that I think that he has demonstrated that public speeches are not the best way of advancing these discussions. The hon. Gentleman said nothing that would carry the dialogue any further. He tempted me to reiterate the Labour party's policy but, if I had done so, I would have been repeating what I have said on many occasions. The hon. Gentleman was there on most of them—perhaps he was not listening—but, if it will help, I shall provide him with the references to all the reports.

The Labour party is not unanimous on all aspects of its attitude to Northern Ireland. We are deeply suspicious of parties which are so clear about what they believe that discussion has come to a standstill, that their minds are closed to any new ideas and that they will not consider it possible that they may be wrong. The Labour party is looking and listening to all parties in Northern Ireland to see whether there is any sign among any of them of a new tolerance and a suggestion that, were they in a dominant position, they would be prepared to be generous.

It was right that the hon. Member for Belfast, South and his colleagues sought to use their Supply day for ventilating this issue. The people of Northern Ireland and the people on this side of the water are anxious to know what progress has been made in the talks between the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the Republic, if only because none of us is content with the status quo. The condition of Northern Ireland bears witness to the fact that there must be a better way of administering its affairs than the present way.

In the debate on 26 June the Secretary of State reported that the Government had maintained a dialogue with the Irish Government."—Official Report. 26 June 1985; Vol. 81, c. 974.] He said that the details must remain confidential. I understand what the hon. Member for Belfast, South and the motion say—that secrecy breeds rumours and that people cannot resist making guesses, which are frequently bad guesses—but I am bound to say, being as objective as I can, that on this issue I come down on the side of the Government. There are two ways of conducting discussions—openly and publicly at each stage, so that we are all aware of what is happening, or they may proceed privately and, when agreement has been reached or when it is clear that no agreement is possible, the Government may announce the outcome. On many occasions, the open method is to be preferred. In a democracy the public should be provided with the maximum information about what is happening, unless there are good reasons for keeping the matter dark. It cannot be a good reason that it would be politically expedient for the Government to face us all with a fait accompli or that the Government would prefer not to answer awkward questions. Some of us entertain a suspicion that that may be their reason for keeping certain matters dark.

But where two sides are negotiating with a genuine hope of reaching understanding, where they have to explore possible ways of making progress — rejecting some proposals at the outset when it is clear that there is no advantage in pursuing them, and seeking to ascertain where there is already common ground and to find out which issues separate them—the negotiations are much more likely to be successful if they can be assured that a proposal will not be published out of context before the package is agreed, that a proposal which is not pursued will not bedevil progress, and that suggestions are not over-simplified or misunderstood before the details are worked out. In that situation, the two sides can be honest with each other, without having to watch every word because of the emotion that it might evoke. Being as fair as I usually try to be, on that issue I side with the Government.

I would be prepared for these discussions, as with some discussions between Ministers and right hon. Members, to take place privately in the hope that they would enable some progress to be made without public allegations and counter-allegations. What is important is not declamation and drama, but patient hard work on the debate. If I may say so without offence, if the Prime Minister defers calling another press conference until after some progress has been made and then handles the matter with sensitivity and restraint, we shall all breathe freely again. But the Secretary of State must not assume that the patience of the public or of the House is unlimited. There comes a time when, understandably, people want to know what is happening and how long they must wait for a resolution of their problems. So I do not complain about the fact that the hon. Member for Belfast, South has asked these questions.

I should like the Government to discuss many matters with the Government of the Irish Republic. One activity, on which I believe all hon. Members would like the authorities on both sides of the border to co-operate more efficiently is the one mentioned by the Secretary of State — security. We would all like both police forces to operate as effectively, as fairly and as sensibly as possible. No one but a lawbreaker would derive any comfort from hearing that co-operation is impeded because of personal friction between senior officers in the respective forces. I hope that the two Governments are considering ways in which recruitment, the command structure and the nomenclature can be made to contribute to a situation in which the police are seen as protecting people of all traditions and are entitled in exchange to the co-operation of people of all traditions.

We should be moving towards a stage where the people of the nationalist tradition can believe that the police are objective and non-discriminating in the way that they discharge their duties so that, in the recent words of Mr. Peter Barry, a young nationalist may join the police without being any the less a nationalist. That objective will not be advanced if some Protestant politicians give the impression that they expect the police to make a distinction between their treatment of the two traditions. I know of no complaints from Loyalist sources when the police have rerouted nationalist marches. But when Loyalist marches have been affected, the police have been labelled as "traitors" and "puppets of the IRA", their actions have been ascribed to the long arm of the Republic acid it has become a question of the right of Ulster Protestants to walk on the roads in their own country.

Of course it is legitimate to ask whether a particular march is likely to be provocative or to endanger public order. Of course it makes sense to inquire as a matter of judgment whether police-public relations can best be improved in a particular way. I appreciate the restraint that hon. Members have shown in a difficult situation, and I hope that I am exercising similar restraint. It is easy to capture the headlines; it is harder to resist the temptation.

But those throughout the world who watch events in Northern Ireland have marvelled at the apparent expectation among some Protestant politicians that the police will apply double standards. They have been horrified at the remarks attributed to the Rev. Ivan Foster that he and his associates would identify every RUC man on duty in Castlewellan at the time of the march because Protestants are not prepared to have these policemen seeking refuge from the IRA in Protestant villages".

When Protestant politicians appear to expect the police to treat Protestant marches and Catholic marches differently, it is hardly surprising if the same expectation is entertained in some Catholic circles.

I should like to hear that the two Governments have been discussing how they can co-operate to make security measures more effective, but that is not the only aspect where co-operation makes sense. If it appeared that the Government were interested in co-operation only in respect of security measures, that they were concerned only with what the Secretary of State called "stability" but that they preferred in other respects to keep the Government of the Republic at arm's length, that would confirm the view of those who suspect that the Government see Northern Ireland principally as a security problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) asked the Secretary of State what he thought of other areas in which there might be cooperation, but I did not detect an answer. I think that the Secretary of State simply reiterated what he said earlier —that security was one respect in which there might be co-operation. I believe that there are other areas where simple elementary common sense calls for more effective channels of co-operation.

Last week we saw an example of where it was demonstrably and manifestly absurd to have two district policies on one island. The Republic has access to natural gas at Kinsale which it regards as a saleable commodity. At the same time, United Kingdom Ministers are closing the gas industry in Northern Ireland, depriving consumers of an option available in every other country in Europe and depriving loyal and skilled employees of their jobs. Let me give another example. It is not for the convenience of travellers that the Republic relies largely on the railway system for its transport, while the north places emphasis on its roads. I have never understood how it could be conducive to securing investment from abroad to have two competing authorities charged with attracting overseas investment. There is much that the two Governments can sensibly discuss.

Last week, too, the Secretary of State told the House: The Irish Government have a legitimate interest in what goes on in Northern Ireland." — [Official Report, 26 June 1985; Vol. 81, c. 974.] In reply to an intervention, he said that it was natural that Ministers in the south should have views about what happens in Northern Ireland. He said that there could be discussions about whether present channels for the expression of those views could be improved. We would like to have heard more about that today, but if the Minister judges that, if nothing is said publicly for the moment, prospects for progress will be better, I shall contain my curiosity a little longer.

I hope that the two Governments will not feel constrained in their discussions by any rigid definitions or text-book concepts in the vocabulary of constitutional lawyers. As a constitutional lawyer, I have tried to warn against being hypnotised by that vocabulary. Constitutional lawyers should be the servants of the people and not their masters.

In many ways, the problems of Northern Ireland are unique. We may need to find administrative arrangements which are original, in order to find widely acceptable ways of resolving the problems. I urge the Government to consider first how the affairs of the people can be sensibly administered and their aspirations met. Only then should they instruct the constitutional lawyers to devise the technical format. Words such as "sovereignty" and "citizenship" may not be the ideal tools for the job of initiating discussions. Indeed, they may impede the possibility of agreement.

To reach agreement will require goodwill and concessions on both sides. The Irish Government must demonstrate that the parties to the Forum report were serious when they said that they recognised the anxieties of the Protestant people and that they would do what they reasonably could to set them at rest. People of each tradition fear the possibility of being at the mercy of the other tradition. The irony is that each tradition finds it difficult to understand what the other side fears. When our Labour party working group visited Northern Ireland a fortnight ago we met representatives of all the parties who would speak with us. It was very noticeable—I shall be interested to know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North can confirm this—that every delegation we met declared that they were not convinced that, if the other side were in a dominant position, they would be fairly treated. But every delegation declared that, if their side were in a dominant position, they would treat the other side fairly. Each side had doubts about the good faith of the other; neither side could understand why the other should have doubts about its own good faith.

It is not a simple matter of good intentions. It needs imagination-and sensitivity to traditions, customs and aspirations which one does not share. That entails two sorts of discussion which are interdependent and which must proceed together. It entails formal safeguards for whoever is the minority at a particular place and time. It means considering ways of sharing power which are not dependent upon the discretion of the majority party in a state or province, or on a council. It may mean considering electoral systems which offer representation to minorities. It may mean considering channels of complaint for individuals or communities if they believe that they have been victims of discrimination. It may mean discussing Bills of Rights and strengthening equal opportunities machinery. I have written to the Secretary of State on that matter.

I recall that Mr. Sean MacBride, in his submission to the New Ireland Forum, suggested a Bill of Rights, which would be subscribed to by both Governments, in cases where it would not be known which side on a specific occasion was the dominant majority, or which side would be invoking the rights of the minority. So each side would have an incentive to care about the rights of minorities. I do not put that forward as a literal suggestion for discussion, but it seems to me that he was on to something.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that he is describing the parliamentary democracy of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Archer

I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman, for whom I have great respect, is so insensitive as not to recognise the distinction between an electoral majority that may change and an electoral majority that is firm, established and permanent.

Mr. Powell

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman follow the analogy a little further and consider what would be the position if County Durham were treated as separate and self-governing in the same way as we view Northern Ireland? We would almost have a fixed majority and a fixed minority. A conclusion can be drawn from this.

Mr. Archer

I thought that we had established this morning the common ground between the right hon. Gentleman and myself. If we consider powers appropriate to a county council, certain considerations apply, but if we consider powers of a totally different order, other conclusions follow.

Mr. Powell


Mr. Archer

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I discuss this matter with him later. If we turn this into a duologue, it will take an inordinate amount of time. However, obviously there is room for discussion between us and that gladdens my heart because it is what I have tried to establish.

All the devices that I have mentioned may be worth considering in the context of Northern Ireland, even though they are not appropriate elsewhere in the United Kingdom where the problems and needs are different.

A more difficult kind of discussion is about how the people of each tradition, and their leaders, may be helped to understand how it feels to belong to the other tradition. There is probably an urge in all of us to persecute those who are different, just because they are different, because their hair is longer or shorter than ours, or they dress differently, or worship in a different way, or eat a different meal on Fridays. They are different; not worse; not better; just different. If to that urge is added a feeling of insecurity, we have the ingredients of a 17th century witch hunt. It is not to the point to quote examples of people from the two traditions who get on together as good colleagues, or good neighbours or good workmates. Our behaviour as individuals is quite distinct from our political behaviour.

I am conscious that sermons preached about love and charity have little influence on events, especially when preached at a safe distance from the problem. But I have never understood why "do-gooders" is a term of opprobrium. As a personal predilection, I prefer sermons about love and charity to those in favour of hellfire. But if discussions about formal machinery are concurrent with discussions about the promotion of greater understanding, each may help the other.

Of course, the spearhead of the solutions must be talks within Northern Ireland and attempts by the groups and parties there to find a better future together. But I believe that Irish Ministers are anxious, in good faith, to contribute to that process. I do not believe that their overtures are part of a cold-blooded plot to deceive us about their real intentions. I do not believe that there is a calculated conspiracy between Irish Ministers, officials at Stormont castle and RUC officers to deliver the majority in Northern Ireland into serfdom. Those who invent such conspiracies perform no service to the Protestant people.

I believe that the good will expressed in the Forum report was genuine, and that the response in "The Way Forward" was genuine. Questions of whether any good will expressed in the past was genuine do not arise, because until recently nobody expressed any. That is the new factor. A further new factor could be if each side considered the possibility that there might be a genuine desire to find a solution on the other side.

5.30 pm
Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster)

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the freely expressed wish of the people. The right of any country to self-determination and to choose its own destiny is a fundamental constitutional and democratic principle enshrined in international law. The majority of the people of Northern Ireland have consistently declared through the ballot box their unalterable desire to remain within the United Kingdom. Every right hon. and hon. Member is aware of that fact. Some hon. Members may not like it, but it is an established and firm fact.

Recognition and support for the right of self-determination for the people of Northern Ireland is an inescapable obligation for those who have respect for the ballot box. It is not the British troops in the street who keep Ulster British and our people within the United Kingdom, but such overwhelming declarations in favour of that union with Great Britain as emerged from the 1973 referendum and from every election since that occasion.

I must state in unmistakable terms that any attempt at any time to force the Ulster people out of the United Kingdom and into an all-Ireland republic will be fiercely resisted with the same grim determination that was displayed in the House by our forefathers many years ago. Historically, culturally, economically — and therefore politically — the six counties which form Northern Ireland have been and still are utterly different from the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland. Therefore, Irish unification could occur only by the suppression of Northern Ireland's democratic right to and exercise of self-determination.

The leader who dominated southern politics for many years—De Valera—once described Unionists as "a rock on the road" to Irish unification. That same politician said that if necessary that rock must be blasted out of the path. For many years the IRA has sought to do just that. It has sought to blast the Unionists out of existence and those that would be left into an all-Ireland republic. The Ulster Loyalists have never yielded to bombing or to murder. Indeed, their courage and determination has defied every bomb and every bullet.

Alas, Ulster has suffered not only from those who have attacked with the bomb and the bullet, but from some who should be our friends. For many years Ulster prospered. Stability was enjoyed by the Northern Ireland people until plans and schemes began to be laid by those who thought that the best way to achieve the Irish solution was in the United Ireland context. Some even thought that the best way to achieve peace was through a policy of appeasement; a policy of giving in here, there and everywhere to appease the terrorists.

The proposed restructuring of Stormont was admitted by Lord Carrington to be a modification of the principle of pure democracy. That would never have been contemplated but for the savagery of the cruel IRA campaign launched against the Province. The IRA, having served its apprenticeship in the civil rights campaign, began successfully to blackmail politicians in Ulster into a policy of self-inflicted disintegration. Concession after concession was made to appease, but nothing will satisfy those whose only avowed aim is the destruction of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom.

Since the days of O'Neill we have witnessed in Northern Ireland the unfolding of a scheme—continuing today—which, in the minds of those who have planned it, will eventually lead us, ease us and tease us into an all-Ireland solution. The IRA's aim is the same but the political moves and aims are to achieve it deceitfully by stages.

For many years some people in Northern Ireland feared that they would wake up one morning and find themselves in a united Ireland. If that had been possible, it would have been done already.

The purpose, the plan and the design of politicians in some parts of the United Kingdom is, little by little, to ease Northern Ireland out of its ties with the United Kingdom. It is clear that London and Dublin are engaged in attempting gradually to integrate Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic. Ever closer co-operation between north and south and an increasing number of social and economic plans have been foisted upon Northern Ireland in an attempt to condition the people into thinking that their real affinity lies, after all, with the Irish Republic and not with the rest of the United Kingdom. It is a devious plan and ploy.

Many hon. Members are forthright in their declaration of what they desire. Others are more underhand. Unification by degree, by stages or little by little, is anathema to the Unionists of Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland people resent the neutral stance adopted by successive British Governments about the Union. Westminster refuses to declare itself in favour of the Union, but some Opposition spokesmen make no bones about it. They would like a united Ireland, but they add the rider that they want it by peaceful means and not by the bomb and the bullet. However, others in the House say that they have no preference and that if the people want to go into a united Ireland, let it be.

Where are those who desire the Union? Why is there always a neutrality? Why does not the rest of the United Kingdom clearly state that Northern Ireland, like Scotland, Wales and England, should be a part of this great United Kingdom?

The IRA interpret that as a signal that the British Government will not stand in its way — the way of unification—if it can persuade Northern Ireland to join a 32-county republic. It derives encouragement and succour from attempts by the British Government to move gradually in the direction of an all-Ireland republic. I have heard many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House and Unionist politicians express that view. The purpose of this and successive Governments has been the easing, or setting adrift, of the strong links that have been forged between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Such measures would be an insult to those who have died or been injured in Northern Ireland and victory for the barbaric campaign of Republican terrorism. I demand in the name of those who elected me—I therefore have a democratic right to say it—that the current discussions with the Government of the Irish Republic be brought to an immediate end. Because of the past, people are suspicious of the words of politicians. People do not really trust what politicians say—they believe that their words are chosen to suit the occasion. Indeed, when the Secretary of State or others come on the television screen in Northern Ireland and say categorically that there are no moves to ease Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom, the people of Northern Ireland become suspicious. Many of their suspicions are later found to be true.

The people of Northern Ireland are forthright and open. They like to call a spade a spade, and they say exactly what they mean. If the Government have certain designs for the Province, the people would far rather hear them said to their faces than through one of those leaks or kites that are often flown by the press. Not all of what the papers suggest is derived from uninspired leaks. Many are deliberate leaks to assess the temperature and what the people of Northern Ireland will accept. Surely it is about time that the majority in Northern Ireland asked the Government to come clean about the negotiations and talks with Dublin.

It is a disgrace that the future of British Ulstermen is being discussed, yet no member of the majority is made aware of what matters are under discussion. Some hon. Members may say that no member of the minority knows. That is clearly not true. The Government can inform the Reagan Administration about the core of the negotiations between the London and Dublin Governments. The Dublin Government make no bones about the fact that, when the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) makes his weekly flight to Dublin to hear the next episode in the story, they are happy to tell him exactly what stage the negotiations are at and what the negotiations are about.

The majority, whose future is at stake, are kept in the dark about these discussions until some conclusion has been reached. With the greatest respect to the minority, the majority community should know what is discussed. It is only then that the Loyalists and the majority community can give their answers to the proposals under discussion and acknowledge the truth of the situation.

The Government's amendment invites the Government to continue to promote measures which encourage peace, stability and good relations between the two communities in Northern Ireland". That sounds very good. Everyone wants to continue to promote measures which encourage peace yet insensitive measures have been taken during the past week concerning the re-routeing of traditional Loyalist parades—I join the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) in saying traditional Loyalist parades. Those insensitive measures have been taken at the request of Mr. Peter Barry—a Foreign Minister with no responsibility to the Government or to the people of Northern Ireland. This action, taken at the request of Mr. Peter Barry, Sinn Fein and the SDLP—the Republican trio — does nothing to instil hope into the hearts of Ulster people.

As for the Secretary of State's statement about the Chief Constable's decision, I remind him, as an Ulster Member of Parliament, that the local chiefs of police in Cookstown did not want the parade to be re-routed. They made it absolutely clear that the Chief Constable's decision was not a decision which they recommended for the preservation of order in Cookstown, which is part of my constituency. There had to be another motive for that rerouteing—because Sinn Fein wanted it. Loyalists have to sit in local councils with Sinn Fein. Last evening, I talked to colleagues in the border area of Strabane who told me, as it has been announced, that a Sinn Fein councillor is being questioned about murderous activity. Because my fellow Loyalist councillors will not sit at the table with Sinn Fein, they were ordered out by the SDLP chairman of the Strabane district council. Such actions and the SDLP's close associations with Sinn Fein instil little hope of that party encouraging the return of stability to Northern Ireland.

The IRA and similar organisations cannot be eliminated by new structures of government in Northern Ireland or by any political settlement. We are told to get ahead with the political settlement of Northern Ireland—has everyone forgotten that the IRA is not concerned about political stability in Northern Ireland? It will give no allegiance to any Government, with or without cross-community support. It must still be tackled and dealt with.

I am delighted that the Government have stated clearly that it is their policy to eliminate terrorism. After 17 years of trouble under the policies pursued by successive Governments, it is about time for an assessment of whether the policy is working. The Government's amendment recognises the need to maintain a firm security policy under the law. Perhaps I may remind the House of a recent international terrorist action concerning American hostages which all right-thinking politicians condemn. We are delighted that most of the hostages have been released and pray that those still being held in Lebanon will also be released.

I understand that the American Administration are offering money for information about the whereabouts of the person who hijacked the plane and, to go even further, the person who shot the young service man. Would anyone suggest that Mr. Reagan would consider offering money if he was going through the usual processes of the law? Is he asking the Lebanese to deal with their terrorists? He is not. The American Administration desire to eliminate that terrorist so that he can never again commit his dastardly deeds.

The Government know the whereabouts of well-known IRA murderers who have a safe haven — I know that certain Ministers do not like to hear that mentioned—in the Irish Republic. A place called Provohill contains some of the most beautiful houses and bungalows built in the south of Ireland, paid for with money from skulduggery. Those terrorists sit in the south of Ireland without fear of arrest or harassment. They enjoy the fruits of their terrorism.

If the south of Ireland wants to prove the sincerity of its friendship, let it come up with a proper extradition treaty so that those guilty of the most vile atrocities can be brought to justice in the United Kingdom. It is only with the military defeat of the IRA that peace can be restored to Northern Ireland.

The Republican politicians who insist that only the adoption of policies leading to a united Ireland can bring peace are using IRA terror to blackmail the Unionists and the British Government into submission. The violence of IRA murderers cannot be allowed to succeed. The people of Northern Ireland are remarkably resilient and restrained in the face of the most violent of atrocities. They want only that which is their inalienable right—to live as British citizens and to go about their daily business in peace.

There are those in Northern Ireland who want the Province destroyed. However, the vast majority of people in the Province want stability. They have no desire to ride over the heads of others who hold different opinions. It is all very well for a minority group to have a dream. We have heard of the dream of some people in the United States centred around Martin Luther King. There are those in Northern Ireland who dream of a united Ireland. However, it is one thing to have a dream but another to murder and destroy the vast majority of people to achieve that dream.

Northern Ireland needs stability. The real needs of its people can be served only by the restoration of a proper devolved Government to the Province. Such devolution must be based on established British democratic principles. Our Stormont has been destroyed. Our Parliament has been taken from us. Local government has been destroyed by the presence of Sinn Fein. There are those in government who tell us that Ulster people will be held to ransom—that either they will move or they will never again have control over their own affairs.

The Government have given the SDLP a veto on progress in Northern Ireland. Because its representatives will not serve in the Assembly, there are those who are crying out for the Assembly to be closed. A great deal of good work has been done by those who have attended the Assembly. The Minister must acknowledge that many changes in legislation affecting the lives of people in Northern Ireland have been brought about by the Assembly committees. That is to be welcomed. There is a desire to move a step forward.

The Government must tell the SDLP that Northern Ireland's future is within the United Kingdom and that it must reach an accommodation with the Unionists to ensure that future. Holding the possible carrot of the intervention of Dublin in our affairs will never bring reality into the position or force reality upon the minority community in Northern Ireland. I say with all my heart that if realism was brought to the SDLP, and if it was told that the future of Northern Ireland lay firmly within the United Kingdom, the SDLP would be forced to sit down and talk genuine business with the Unionist community.

It must be laid clearly on the line today that the Unionists offered clear and genuine discussions with the SDLP. I trust that it will turn its back on its new-found friends in Sinn Fein and return to sanity and reason so that there can be a future for the people of our beloved country. May stability soon be restored to our Province again. I know that it is for this House to dictate the terms to Ulster. I know that it is in the hands of the House to tell it what it must do. But this House must also remember that the people of Ulster have it in their hands to make the final decision.

5.57 pm
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

During the past week I have had the task of studying the consultative paper on police complaints and discipline, collating the opinions of my party colleagues and submitting them to the Secretary of State. I wish to quote two sentences from the report. One states: Despite the fact that all complaints are investigated by senior and experienced officers, it seems apparent that this has not proved sufficient in all cases to sustain public confidence in the complaints system. The other states: every effort should be made to ensure that the Royal Ulster Constabulary is acceptable to all law-abiding people in Northern Ireland. When I see such a statement in a Government report, I begin to wonder what on earth they are doing to the RUC. Those two sentences give the impression that the RUC is not a force of which we can be proud and not one that has served the community so well over many years.

During the past 15 years there have been many reports on security, the judiciary and methods of dealing with terrorism in Northern Ireland. There must have been eight, 10 or 12 reports. They range from the Hunt report to the Bennett report. Each of the reports trots out the same old arguments and adjustments are made—yet what is the outcome? Within our community there is a section that is never satisfied, so we must have yet a further report and further concessions to try to satisfy the insatiable. It seems typical of the Government's apparent will to be subservient to all except those law-abiding citizens and the law enforcers who work under such difficult circumstances in Ulster.

This afternoon, we listened to the Secretary of State saying that our motion was commendable and he approved of it but that the Government had to modify it. Can anyone tell me how the motion diverges from the opinion we expressed in our document "The Way Forward", and why the Government find it necessary to push us a little bit further and a little bit quicker when my party is trying to be responsible in facing the issues that confront us? Are the Government of the opinion that by doing that they can dissuade terrorists from continuing with their terrorism? Surely they have learned their lesson after 15 years.

A French criminologist, Jacques Léanté, said: Terrorism is an act of communication. We know that it is other things as well, but I draw that phrase to the attention of the House because, during the past week the Secretary of State has complained to me that he is finding things very difficult. He complains that his efforts towards progress are being stymied by rumour. He is right. The difficulty is that law-abiding citizens, ordinary men and women in the street, do not know what is happening in our Province.

There is a lack of information coming from the Government as well as misinformation. A good example of that was given by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth). He observed that the Secretary of State had told us that he had received no communication from the Irish Republic about parades. The Secretary of State could have gone further and said that his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, has had communication. So there is misinformation to some extent.

Unfortunately, the Secretary of State was grossly insulted last week during a meeting at which I was present. I deplored that insult to a member of Her Majesty's Government, which was uncalled for. However, there has been some ambiguity in what the Government have told us and what has emanated from the Northern Ireland Office for the past 13 years. People become sceptical and disheartened and suspicious. Over the years, the people of Northern Ireland have seen the liaison by the Government with the Provisional IRA. It took place against the sound, solid and reasoned advice of members of my party. The Government were told, "You cannot deal with those people, they are terrorists. They are not prepared, irrespective of what indications they may appear to give, to deal with a democratic Government in the normal way." That advice was not heeded and the liaison was a disaster.

We advised also against political status. That was not heeded and the result was disaster. We advised against the setting up of a Sinn Fein advice centre. The Government gave the Provisional IRA money and said, "Go and take over that incident centre or that advice centre." That was a tremendous boost for the IRA. Again, the Government did not listen to our advice.

More recently, we told the Government, "Do not allow a person who says he is going to the ballot box with an Armalite in his hand to take a seat in local government." Again, they did not take our advice. Unionists are blamed if they do not keep their councils peaceful. It is very difficult for Unionists to keep the councils peaceful when they are sitting opposite people who they know have been involved with murders and in murder. Some councils are succeeding. It is not for the want of trying, but I believe that most councils have not succeeded. I accept that there are one or two councils where a wholehearted effort has yet to be made to overcome the handicap of having a Sinn Fein member sitting in the chamber. I hope that all our councils will endeavour to overcome that handicap in a way which will not allow these killers to enjoy propaganda. We suffer from Provisional IRA-inspired propaganda and the IRA will do its best to drive the ordinary decent person in the Province over the brink. The Government must endeavour not to help them.

I shall contrast what happens in the Irish Republic with what happens in Ulster when we deal with Provos. A week ago there was the sad murder of Garda Sergeant Morrissey. A member of the Provisional IRA was arrested and charged with his murder. On 2 July in The Irish Times we saw a photograph of a screaming suspect being shoved into a car by five burly policemen. In the Irish Independent we saw a photograph of a suspect who was having to be virtually carried into court from the hospital by two members of the Garda Siochana. If that had happened in Ulster it would have been called police brutality. The Americans would have been involved, hon. Members would have been involved and the Government of the Republic of Ireland would have been deeply involved in protesting about police brutality.

When a complaint was made in court about the treatment of the suspect, the judge said that there was no case. He did not take Provo propaganda at face value. Let me make it perfectly clear, I am not criticising the Garda Siochana. I believe it has done a difficult job in facing up to the IRA when it has endeavoured to subvert law and order in that country.

Fifteen years ago it was the Ulster Special Constabulary and the Royal Ulster Constabulary which were guilty of a not very clearly defined crime against the minority community. Then it was the Ulster Defence Regiment and now it is the judiciary. Next it will be the police. Away from the forces of law and order it has recently become the Orangemen. Why does the Northern Ireland Office give credibility to those who continue to spew out this vitriolic propaganda against our people?

Can we not look at what has really happened over the years in Ulster? Can we not realise that for the last 15 years, in the face of an IRA onslaught, the Orange institution has stood out against any retaliatory violence? I can say that because I am not a member of the Orange Order. That stand should make the order proud of its tolerance and its strength. It has stood in a way that should make the Government and the Northern Ireland Office a little less sensitive about propaganda relating to traditional marches.

How wrong I found the Secretary of State to be this evening when he talked about the parades being cheerful and festive. Indeed they are cheerful and festive, but that is not their purpose. The purpose is to enable those who have a Protestant and Unionist heritage to demonstrate it in a lawful way. He is telling us we should not go into certain areas because we provoke the minority. How on earth could the Orange Order, which has protected the minority for many years and stopped retaliation against it, be provocative? Is it not a great deal more provocative that the nationalists who are in charge of Londonderry council have done their best to alienate the Protestant community? They have driven that community, including the last policeman who was murdered, from the west bank of the Foyle.

When the nationalist-controlled council in Omagh took over it stated categorically it was all right to kill council employees who were members of the security forces. Has the vice-chairman of Magherafelt council not said he would not dispute that point because he believes that the dictates of the Irish Republican Army council are correct? In the face of that provocation, how can the Secretary of State ask the Unionist people to give up their right at least to show that Northern Ireland is Unionist and part of the United Kingdom? That is what we would be doing if we gave up our traditional parade routes.

He is saying, "Of course, those routes have changed. Members of the minority community now live along those routes and you did not have that 20 or 25 years ago." He is really saying, "You must allow yourselves to be driven out bit by bit and you must concede to the sort of philosophy which exists in Londonderry, Omagh and Magherafelt." He must understand that that is the way my section of the community looks at things.

Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)


Mr. Maginnis

I should prefer not to give way.

Dublin's role is treated with suspicion. Can we forget that Charlie Haughey was tried for supplying arms at the very start of the troubles; that the money for those arms was laundered through a public company in the Irish Republic? Can we forget that on every possible occasion Peter Barry and Mr. Noonan have done their best to discredit the Ulster Defence Regiment? Despite his overtures, the Taoiseach himself, Mr. FitzGerald, delivered in America a speech which was harmful to the work being done by our security forces and endangered the lives of people in them.

Unfortunately, our greatest difficulty is getting proper liaison with the Northern Ireland Office. I should like to read to the House a letter I had from a Minister's office in the Northern Ireland Office. I will leave the Minister unnamed, but I was told he would be undertaking an official engagement in my constituency. The letter went on: Considerations of security oblige us to confine advance notice of the details of the visit to those directly involved, and I regret that for this reason I cannot be more informative about his visit to your constituency. Does that Minister not realise that I hold a commission from Her Majesty; that I am a member of the Select Committee on Defence of this House, and that I have had the privilege of a top-secret briefing in the Pentagon and in defence establishments in this county? Does he believe that he can trust me less than he can trust a civil servant? Does he forget that Bill McConnell, a prison officer, was murdered at the behest of someone employed in the Civil Service? I do not want to condemn all civil servants.

Mr. Hurd

The hon. Member's criticism of the letter he received has been brought to my notice and he will receive a letter of apology. There is a real problem here which he is familiar with and which we cannot discuss now. It is one to which we have riot yet found the right answer and I want to discuss it with the leader of his party and with the party.

Mr. Maginnis

I thank the Secretary of State for his response. I ask him to think in terms of the majority community. I am not talking about the majority Unionist community, but about the majority who want to live in peace one with the other. He cannot continue to place himself in the middle as a referee. I do not need my dealings with my Catholic neighbours to be refereed by anyone. I am willing and able to conduct my own liaison with my Roman Catholic neighbours and I am able to live at peace with them. I believe the vast majority of them wish to live in peace with me.

I want to see the Secretary of State dealing with a situation of which he is aware: that in one county in my constituency 73 murders have been committed. Six of those were murders of Catholics by Protestants. Four of them have been solved, but 67 of them have been murders of Protestants and Roman Catholics by the IRA and not a single one has been solved. I want to see the Minister dealing with that and I want to see him dealing with the rights and interests of the RUC and the UDR. I want to see UDR full-timers having a proper career structure and I hope that he has been making overtures to the MOD about that.

Some of our full-time police reservists have been serving for 12 years and I want to see them being given pension rights because they are being treated abominably over security of employment. I want to see our elected representatives who want to work, who are willing to work and who have tried to work for peace, being given an opportunity to do so without undue interference from another country, the Irish Republic.

6.19 pm
Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) said that he was not a member of the Orange Order. I have some Ulster ancestry, but I am ineligible for membership of the Orange Order. However, the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) knows that I respect the modern Orange Order as a legitimate expression of loyal sentiment and Protestant solidarity that has generally proved to be a responsible influence for restraint in the present troubles. I therefore understand how keenly Northern Ireland Members must feel at the curtailing of traditional parades by the authority which they support. It seems a poor reward for moderation, yet it is far-fetched to allege that the re-routeing of a parade is the result of a diktat from Dublin.

I myself heard Mr. Peter Barry lay somewhat exaggerated claims to a locus standi in respect of Northern Ireland, but we must expect the Irish Government to express opinions to Her Majesty's Government when the affairs of the United Kingdom and the Republic are so closely knit and we seek ever closer collaboration between our respective security forces.

There is nothing new in southern representations about the minority in Northern Ireland. In 1922, Sir James Craig was talking in London to Michael Collins and assuring him of arrangements for the protection of Northern Catholics.

The motion is founded on "conflicting unofficial reports", but during today's business questions the Leader of the House said that we do not base our business on press speculation. That is not the proper foundation of public policy. It is for the Government to judge how, when and where it is best to carry on diplomacy and dialogue on matters of common concern to the kingdom and Republic, and it is then for Parliament to assess the results. However, I agree with what has been said about cause for suspicion due to lack of information. I think that the Secretary of State had sympathy with the suggestion of a White Paper.

The Secretary of State is responsible to Crown and Parliament for law and order in the Province and the Chief Constable has his own independent part to play. I hope that the statement issued by the RUC will be placed in the Library. Part of it states: It should be clearly understood that it is the duty of the police to maintain community stability and public order at all times regardless of the political or religious persuasion of those who threaten or challenge the peace. It adds: The number of parades has increased and, regrettably, in some instances the standard of conduct has deteriorated … It is intolerable that police officers carrying out their duty should be subjected to abuse, personal threats and physical injury, as has happened on several recent occasions. The decisions that the Chief Constable and Secretary of State must take are unenviably difficult. Let us suppose that all parades proceeded according to custom and that serious rioting resulted. The police and the Government would be assailed from all sides. However that may be, the shenanigans at Castlewellan and Cookstown and the disturbances in the Shankill are a disgrace. So is the blackguarding of the Secretary of State in the Northern Ireland Assembly by a member of the Democratic Unionist party. I would have expected the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) to express some regret at what happened, even if the leader of his party, the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), is unable to be present to do that himself.

Rev. William McCrea

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir John Biggs-Davison

Very briefly, because I intend to bring my remarks to a close very shortly.

Rev. William McCrea

The hon. Gentleman can take it from me, on behalf of my colleagues, that we genuinely believe that the Secretary of State clearly misled the people of Northern Ireland. I therefore make no apology on behalf of my colleagues. Indeed, other members of the Assembly —including the Chairman of the Committee who was interviewed on television — agreed that the right hon. Gentleman should be told that he had made such misleading statements.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

I regret that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman. Those who want thus to display their loyalism should understand that they are opening a breach in the national unity of the United Kingdom at a time when a diabolical conspiracy to blast men, women and children in our mainland resorts had brought it home in Great Britain that we are all caught up in one anti-terrorist struggle and that we must win it together.

There is admiration on this side of the water — perhaps there should be more—of the restraint of the majority in Northern Ireland through more than a decade and a half of Republican terror. But there is scant sympathy on this side of the water for those who beat drums at the doors of those in whom those drums inspire an atavistic dread. There is no sympathy at all for those who would press an insistence on traditional observance to the point of conflict with the hard-pressed RUC who have dared and endured so much and for whom the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone spoke so well. Unfortunately, it is a far cry from the times when, for example, the events of 1689 could be commemorated in Londonderry by both bishops and the whole community of that great city.

I conclude with a few words on the political and constitutional aspects of stability. I suspect that Ministers are now beginning to realise that the Northern Ireland Assembly is more limited in its role and potential than in its cost to the taxpayer. The fullest administrative devolution is desirable, but legislative devolution in any terms acceptable to Parliament is impracticable. The agreement would not exist.

The right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) spoke of one tradition being fearful of domination by the other tradition. Surely the lesson of Stormont, with all its virtues, is that the minority is safest under Westminster. We are told that that is second best, but it is a second best that least divides the people of Northern Ireland and allows co-operation with Dublin to proceed unbedevilled either by separatist hopes or Unionist fears.

6.27 pm
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

Because of pressure of time, I shall not comment on the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Epping Forest, (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) about the future of institutions in Northern Ireland.

I wish to address myself to the content of the speeches that have so far been made by hon. Members representing Northern Ireland and to what they have not said. They have spoken passionately about stability, but not one has to any extent addressed his mind to the problems of the minority and why, among the minority population, the great majority find it very difficult to accept the role of the police and the UDR. No Northern Ireland Member has said why those two institutions, which are responsible for maintaining law and order and stability, do not have the support of that population. When one adds to that the problems that we now face over the reported statements and attitudes of the judiciary on aspects of co-operation with the Republic of Ireland, it appears that those institutions do not, and cannot, at present have the support of the minority.

It therefore behoves members of the majority to go out of their way to say something positive to help their fellow citizens to arrive at that support for the institutions within Northern Ireland. All the speeches to which I have listened so far, and I have heard them all, have failed to do that.

The amendment talks of trying to achieve some cohesion between the communities. What positive acts will the Government take to try to achieve the allegiance of the minority population to the institutions of the state? By "allegiance" I do not mean that they must necessarily feel that they have to surrender their identity, that they must be loyal to the Union Jack or anything of that nature, but a general sense of feeling and confidence within the community that they will be treated fairly. That is what I am looking for, no more. There need be no surrender of identity. They feel that this does not exist in the community. It is a question not of political or national aspirations, but of a general feeling of fairness. They do not believe that in the institutions of security within the state—whether it is the RUC, or, more particularly, the UDR, and now what is happening in the judiciary—they are likely to be treated fairly. Until the Government can come forward with positive proposals which seem to the minority community to do that, the stability that we all want to see, whichever way we see the future of the Province, is not going to be present.

My second point relates to the question raised by the Secretary of State about suddenly throwing suspicion on the support that he is receiving from the Government of the Republic in terms of security. I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary of State could enlarge upon those areas where he feels the Republic is not giving 100 per cent. support to maintain security, to hunt the terrorists and to cut the power of those who seek to destabilise both communities.

I say to hon. Members from the whole of the Unionist tradition, whether it be Conservative and Unionist or Ulster Unionist, that they cannot expect the Republic of Ireland to shoulder the burden of security and not have a powerful voice and interest in saying, "What are the causes of instability which cause us as taxpayers to have to put so much of our wealth into security?" Those figures show that their spending, in percentage and per capita terms, far outweigh spending in the United Kingdom as a whole. Therefore, it must be accepted that if we expect to have responsibility and co-operation from the Republic, we cannot expect the Republic not to take a powerful and realisable interest in what is going on within the six counties.

6.33 pm
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

Last Wednesday I sat in this Chamber for four and a half hours listening to the debate on the continuance Order for the Northern Ireland Act 1974. It was a singularly dispiriting experience and I found myself becoming ever more depressed. It would be invidious to offer a critique of each of the lengthy and barren offerings to which we were treated. The verbal cock-fighting came as no real surprise, but the speech of the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux.) left me with a feeling of hopelessness such as I have rarely felt. In short, during his bleak speech he offered no hope that the intractability of the Northern Ireland situation as it is presently cast will ever give way to the sort of discussion and consultation that can lead to a lasting political solution. For those of us who hope, perhaps naively, for an end to the tragedy there was scant encouragement from last Wednesday's proceedings.

English Members are reticent about fishing in the muddy waters of Northern Ireland politics and reluctant to intrude in what seems like a family affair. That circumspection in no way lessens the concern we feel about the continuing violence and political instability in the Province. If Northern Ireland politics was purely the domestic concern of Ulster politicians then I should be the last person to consider himself qualified by two brief visits during the last year to offer any thoughts at all on the situation. But of course there is an English dimension, even a dimension impinging on my own constituency in south-east England. There is the dimension of transfer payments from east to west across the Irish sea each year to support the Northern Ireland economy. There is the enormous dimension of our troops being in Northern Ireland for 15 years and being killed and maimed for a time longer now than the two great wars, the Boer War and the Korean War put together. That, incidentally, is where my own constituency is concerned because in that constituency is the Royal Engineers military engineering school and a regimental headquarters.

In terms of the life of this House, Northern Ireland politics consume a great deal of the energy and time of Government Ministers and hon. Members. I feel constrained to speak for just a few minutes this evening because of the gloomy reports emanating from the English-Irish talks presently going on. It has been suggested that some right hon. and hon. Members almost hope that they will fail. I believe that that attitude is utterly wrong, because to deny any Irish dimension to the Northern Ireland situation is to bury one's head in the sand.

I would be the last person to try to force upon the majority population any form of union consideration or even closer liaison with the Republic against the majority wish, but it is unrealistic to say that there is no Irish dimension. I recognise all of those features of Irish life which make and maintain the division between the communities. I recognise the feeling of vulnerability on the part of the majority population when viewing any constitutional or structural change that has as its aim closer relations with the Republic.

I understand and recognise the essentially tribal dimensions of the Northern Irish situation but I am forced to ask just how long we must wait for the Northern Ireland politicians — most of them are in the Chamber this evening—to use their influence to bring some sense and sanity to the situation and to allow talks to develop which may lead to a lasting solution. How long will it be before the House may dare to see an end to all the Acts it has had to pass in recent years to maintain some semblance of order in the Province? How long will the economic life of Ulster be disrupted by violence? How long will the bomb and the bullet continue to subjugate the ballot box?

It is a cliché to suggest that only a political solution can defeat the gunmen in Northern Ireland, but it is true. That is the only lasting way to peace. I beg all those who are influential in Northern Irish politics and affairs to examine their position, to review their stand in relation to the present discussions and, what is more, to use their influence to foster any political initiative that may emerge. The rapid collapse of discussions and initiatives of last September, if repeated, can only deepen the despair and bitterness on which the violence and hatred thrives. There must one day be an end to the intransigence and intractability on both sides if a just solution is to be reached. I would ask that people use their influence to make that intransigence give way to what is a very simple goal—the peace in the Province to which we all aspire.

6.37 pm
Mr. Harold McCusker (Upper Bann)

Like the good Presbyterian he is, my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth), when he moved the motion, defined stability. I felt that he had missed the most significant aspect of stability — that it is a relative phenomenon. I suppose it is self-evident that what would be considered constitutional stability in the Lebanon or Cyprus would be a nightmare in Norway, Sweden or Switzerland. What might be considered a stable internal security situation in Spain certainly would not be tolerated in the USSR. Just as stability is relative between countries, so it is relative within countries. I am not simply talking about what we might mean by stability in Northern Ireland vis-a-vis stability in Great Britain—we have evidence during the past year of variations in what might be considered stability between Yorkshire and perhaps the south-east of England.

I do not aspire to the values of Chelsea or Bath or any of the other areas where stability would be much admired by many people in this House. I do not in any way criticise those people who hold strongly to the personal and social values associated with those communities. Equally, I hope that they would not belittle the personal and social values which I hold in Northern Ireland and which make Northern Ireland distinctive within the United Kingdom, just as there are certain characteristics which make other regions of the United Kingdom distinctive.

All we can hope for is relative stability. The hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) may wish fervently for peace, but he may have to conclude one day that peace as he defines it may never exist in Northern Ireland. He should not be reticient about getting into what he describes as a muddy pool. England helped create the muddy pool. The House contributed substantially to the muddy pool, if it is there, and every hon. Member in the House has a responsibility to deliberate upon what goes on in that muddy pool. We look forward to hearing other contributions from the hon. Member.

I should like to see a return to relative stability. I would prefer it to be the stability we had prior to the terrorist campaign but I would settle for the relative stability of the 1977–79 period when public confidence in Northern Ireland reached its high water mark of the past 17 years. Public confidence is the key to stability. Public confidence does not mean obtaining the confidence of the majority of the minority. If it is achieved by that means, it is being bought at too high a price, especially if the public confidence of the majority of the majority is being sacrificed. That is where the balance has gone wrong.

Since 1979 public confidence has ebbed away. Occasionally the ebbing away has been stemmed by the actions of the Prime Minister when she has intervened, but the incompetence of 1980–81, the double talk and double standards of 1981–84 and the ambivalence of 1985 have caused public confidence to drift to its lowest point in the past decade.

I do not want to allude to any single issue as causing the fall in public confidence. There has been a combination of factors—the Anglo-Irish process and the collaboration of the Government with the Sinn Fein exploitation of the ballot box and the bullet. If we layer on top of that the inept handling of the parades issue, we find ourselves standing on the edge of an abyss that has been created by the Government. A fortnight ago there was controversy and concern in Northern Ireland about the first two points, but everything has been brought to a head by the inept and ham-fisted handling of parades.

Let me go back to the Anglo-Irish process that is sometimes referred to as a dialogue. There are four parties to the process—Her Majesty's Government, the Irish Government, the Social Democratic and Labour party and the Unionists. Two parties, I presume, know what they are talking about. A third, the SDLP, pretends to know, thinks it knows or perhaps does know what the other two parties are talking about.

Mr. John David Taylor (Strangford)

The Dublin Government meets the SDLP after each meeting of the two Prime Ministers.

Mr. McCusker

My right hon. Friend tells me that the SDLP is invited to have consultations with the Irish element of the dialogue. Unionists do not have that advantage. We are not consulted or advised by Her Majesty's Government; we have to glean what we can from the leaks to the press and from what the SDLP tells us. Clearly someone is lying. I do not know who the liar is. The deputy leader of the SDLP has assured us during the past few weeks that the Foreign Minister of the Irish Republic has persistently raised the issue of parades with Her Majesty's Government as part of the on-going process.

When my future and the future of my children are at stake, it is not good enough to be told that the discussions have to be kept in confidence and that we cannot be told what is happening. If the Secretary of State tells me that, he will raise my suspicions and the suspicions of others in the community. Equally, he cannot say to me that issues such as security strategy, future forms of government and police tactics are not part of the discussions. They must be an essential part, or the Irish Government would not think it worth while to continue the discussions. Those matters raise genuine fears.

I noticed that some of the Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office laughed when my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South said that, whether or not these things are facts, the people of Northern Ireland believe they are facts. They do not need politicians to tell them lies or to raise their fears. The people feel it in their hearts.

Whatever number was in Portadown last night, whether it was 20,000, 30,000 or whatever, it was a very large number. It was a bigger number of people than I have ever seen in Portadown before, and I have lived there for the best part of my life. They came there with little exhortation from politicians. They were there to react not simply against the ban on parades but against the Anglo-Irish dialogue and the exploitation by Sinn Fein of the ballot box and the bullet.

The bland assertion of the Secretary of State that Sinn Fein can be out-manoeuvred and out-voted, and that it is important that the world should see how little real support it has at the ballot box, does not wash with a community that has had to take so much from Sinn Fein. We now know that a former Sinn Fein candidate is part of the group that has been arrested in connection with the planned bombing campaign on the mainland, that an elected Sinn Fein councillor in Northern Ireland is being questioned about terrorist offences, and that some Sinn Fein councillors are convicted terrorists. They were able to stand for election only because there is automatic remission of 50 per cent. of prison sentences in Northern Ireland. The one advantage that a terrorist has in Northern Ireland, irrespective of the sentence he gets for whatever crime he has committed, is that the sentence has to be cut in half.

The feeling in the Unionist community about Sinn Fein must be understood by the Secretary of State because that lies behind much of what we are facing today. The average Northern Ireland Unionist thinks that if someone murders a Member of Parliament or a councillor he becomes a Member of Parliament or a councillor; if someone blows up council premises and kills council employees, he becomes a member of that council; if someone murders a judge or a magistrate, later a judge or magistrate will find in his favour when he seeks protection in pursuit of his despicable ends, whatever they may be.

The Incorporated Law Society of Northern Ireland has admitted a convicted terrorist to train as a lawyer, but he has not expressed contrition or regret for what he has done. We will never know whether he regrets his crime. Automatic 50 per cent. remission means that it is not necessary to determine whether terrorists regret what they have done. In my constituency there is a senior social worker who was formerly a convicted terrorist. He may have regretted his former acts but there has been no impartial assessment of whether he has done so. All these things force people in my community further and further on to the defensive. They ask what the Government are doing about this.

The IRA has told us what its objective is. It says that it intends to take power in Ireland through the ballot box and bullet. By our behaviour, are we not assisting the IRA to achieve that objective? The Secretary of State has told me that it is important that the people should know how little support the Provisional IRA has. The Provisional IRA clearly does not see that as a disadvantage. At the moment it is happy to settle for the support of one third of the adult Roman Catholic community in elections. If there is an advantage for us in the Government's policy, I should like to know what the disadvantage is for the Provisional IRA. It does not appear to see any disadvantage.

I want to deal briefly with the Portadown parade because the right hon. Gentleman knows how strongly I feel, not simply about whether we walk or not but about the consequences if we walk. Despite what has been said in the media the walk in Portadown by Orangemen is from the town of Portadown to a parish church to worship. It is not a parade of Orangemen through a Catholic district of Portadown. That is incidental to the walk.

I have gone into detail with the Minister about the location. There are three routes to Drumcree church, which is set in the Protestant hinterland of Portadown. Portadown itself is a 75 per cent. Protestant town and the tragedy is that the three routes from the town to the church all go through Catholic areas. That is coincidental. There is no ideal route. One of the routes that is recommended as a return route from the church is through a Catholic area which numerically is much stronger than the one from which the parade is being re-routed. When he does not know what to do in circumstances of that kind, the Secretary of State should pause and consider doing nothing, because to do nothing might be better than to do something which may create trouble in the town.

The police cannot do their job without majority support. The number of people in Portadown last night will not be there on Sunday morning. Those who will be walking to church on Sunday morning will not want confrontation with the police, but there may be others who will. Even if the police stop those men from walking to church next Sunday morning, what will happen between then and the 12th? What will happen on the eleventh night when 20 or 30 bonfires are blazing around Portadown and more alcohol is being consumed than is good for those people? What will happen in the few hours between then and the start of the parade? No matter how many police and troops are put into Portadown, they will be unable to stop people from going down that road for the wrong reasons.

I appeal to the Secretary of State and, through him, to the Chief Constable, to see sense. This parade has taken place for over 150 years. It causes the minimum amount of aggravation. No party tunes are played; there is no flaunting of colours; there is no beating of drums. It may not be exactly what the Secretary of State or the Chief Constable want, but if the parade takes place on Sunday it will be in the best interests of all concerned.

6.51 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Nicholas Scott)

It will be impossible for me to deal with all the points that have been raised in the debate. However, like my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I welcome the fact that the theme of the debate and the motion on the Order Paper relate to stability in Northern Ireland. Everybody wishes stability to be created in Northern Ireland, but I take note of the point of the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. McCusker) that stability can be relative between countries and regions and, indeed, over a period. The concept of stability in Northern Ireland today is different from what it was 15, 10, or perhaps even four years ago. The graffiti in west Belfast, querying whether there was life before death, touched a chord, but I hope that the times that gave rise to that have passed for ever in Northern Ireland. The Government and the security forces will make every effort to maintain the new stability that has been created in Northern Ireland, but responsibility for maintaining that stability rests not only upon the Government and the police. That is a point to which I hope to return later.

The House owes a very great debt to the people of Northern Ireland for their courage, resilience and endurance during the most vicious and sustained period of terrorism that modern Europe has experienced. The House owes to their elected representatives understanding because of the unique burdens that they bear. They represent a society that has been torn apart and has had to endure terrorism on a massive scale for a very long period. They act honourably as the democratic representatives of a divided society. Not least are we in their debt because of the personal danger that they face in doing their duty to their Northern Ireland constituents. Many of them, not least the hon. Member for Upper Bann, have seen constituents, friends and colleagues murdered and maimed by the men of violence.

We owe a very great deal to the Northern Ireland Members of Parliament and we have a duty to listen to, appreciate and be sensitive to their unique anxieties. Those anxieties have been presented in a constructive way in this debate by the Official Unionist party. But it owes something to this House and also to those who are privileged to share in Government—namely, recognition of our good faith in seeking to govern Northern Ireland fairly, even-handedly and, dare I say it, generously within the context of the constitutional guarantee about the future place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. As we grapple with the complex economic and political problems that face Northern Ireland and pursue the eradication of terrorism, we are entitled to the recognition that we are acting in good faith on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland.

I hope that the House will examine the problems of Northern Ireland on the basis of fact rather than of mythology.

I turn to one of the themes that has run through this afternoon's debate: parades and marches in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) spelt out the aim of those parades and marches: to demonstrate in a lawful way their adherence to their protestant heritage. That deserves respect, but the key word is "lawful." It cannot be lawful to ignore to seek to set aside a re-routeing order by the Chief Constable or a banning order by the Secretary of State. That is breaking the law. It cannot be justified or defended.

It is worth while putting the problem in its proper context. The hon. Member for Upper Bann suggested that a move is being made towards completely overturning the current practice on parades and marches in Northern Ireland. Nothing could be further from the truth. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, during the last marching season, as it is called, in Northern Ireland, 2,200 parades had to be policed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Many of those marches had their routes adjusted by mutual agreement between the police and the organisers — whether they were Republican, Loyalist, Orange, or any other kind of parade—that it would be sensible to make minor adjustments.

Would that this were always the case and that it was unnecessary for the Chief Constable to impose a re-routeing order or for my right hon. Friend to ban a parade. However, in the interests of harmony in the community, sustaining law and order and avoiding the dangers of large-scale rioting, there are occasions when, in the professional judgment of the Chief Constable, action is necessary. But there is no policy which prevents people from marching or walking in recognition of their Protestant heritage. There is no political direction behind all this and there is no Dublin role. To make the distinction that the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone did not make, the representations in the question to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary related to banning a parade on St. Patrick's day in Portadown. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's comments related to the present marching season.

The concern that is felt about parades and marches in Northern Ireland is not a recent phenomenon. I have considered the Chief Constable's reports not only for 1984, but for 1980–1984. In each report he drew attention to this problem in different ways. In 1980 he referred to large numbers of police personnel having to be deployed to deal with politically inspired parades and demonstrations, many of which pose a serious threat to law and order. In different ways he has drawn attention during the last five years to problems that face the police in Northern Ireland because of parades.

For the handful of parades that might be affected by a re-routeing order or, exceptionally, by a banning order, we have to depend upon the professional advice of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. It has a difficult job to do in Northern Ireland. For the RUC to be assaulted by representatives of the majority community in Northern Ireland is unacceptable to the vast majority of law-abiding Unionists.

I can only re-emphasise what has been said on a number of occasions about the dialogue between the sovereign Governments of London and Dublin. It is carried on entirely within the parameters defined by the Chequers communiqué. The exaggerated fears of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) have to be set in the context of that cast-iron guarantee. I commend the amendment to the House.

Question, That the original words stand part of the Question, put and negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER, forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House invites the Government to continue to promote measures which encourage peace, stability and good relations between the two communities in Northern Ireland; invites both communities to work to these ends; recognises the contribution which improved relations with the Government of the Republic of Ireland can make in furthering these objectives; and recognises the need to maintain a firm security policy under the law.