HC Deb 03 July 1986 vol 100 cc1153-4
3. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had with representatives of the Royal Ulster Constabulary concerning policing in the Province.

Mr. Scott

My right hon. Friend and I have regular meetings with the Chief Constable and the General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland to discuss security policy issues.

Mr. Maclennan

Will the Minister accept that a prolonged period of government of Northern Ireland without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, which is apparently what we face, puts intolerable pressures on the police, who see themselves having to fulfil more than their proper role of upholding the rule of law? They see themselves, in addition, as the defenders of an unpopular Government. Is the Minister conscious of the criticisms that are now being made within the police force of this role?

Mr. Scott

I believe that the Government's policies in Northern Ireland are correct. The job of Ministers is to win the consent of the majority of the population there for these policies. I am well aware of the pressures that are faced by the RUC. I am probably more aware than anyone in the House of the pressures on the RUC and its members and of some of the disgraceful attacks that have been launched against them and their families. The Government, the Police Authority for Northern Ireland and the Chief Constable have been at pains to ensure that the pressures are ameliorated in so far as that is possible. I am confident that the RUC will do its job on behalf of the entire community in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Gow

Does my hon. Friend consider that the degree of consent of the people of Northern Ireland to be governed under the terms of the Anglo-Irish agreement is greater on 3 July 1986 than it was on 15 November 1985?

Mr. Scott

I do not accept the terms of my hon. Friend's question. Northern Ireland has been governed in exactly the same way since 15 November 1985. All that has happened is that institutional arrangements have been made so that Irish Ministers can reflect the views of the Nationalist community in Northern Ireland. The government of the Province is on precisely the same terms now as it was before 15 November 1985.

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