HC Deb 12 February 1987 vol 110 cc451-3
11. Mr. Tom Cox

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he last met the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary; and what issues were discussed.

Mr. Tom King

I meet the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary regularly. Our meetings are confidential and it would not be right to disclose their content.

Mr. Cox

I note that reply, but is the Secretary of State aware of the increasing evidence now coming to light, concerning the matters which Mr. Stalker was investigating, about the activities of the Royal Ulster Constabulary? If, against the background of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, we really are seeking to build confidence in Northern Ireland, surely it is the duty of the Secretary of State, whatever degree of confidentiality he may have with the chief officer, to see that these matters, unpleasant as they are, are discussed. The people in both Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom have a right to know what the findings about them are.

Mr. King

The hon. Member will be aware of the inquiry being conducted, first, by Mr. Stalker and now by Mr. Sampson. I made it clear to the House on a previous occasion exactly what our position is on that and I have nothing to add to the statement that I made then.

Mr. Latham

When my right hon. Friend meets the Chief Constable, will he congratulate him on the police work done under the 714 cases? Will he also stress to him that the one thing which the British taxpayer will in no circumstances put up with is the idea that his or her money will be used to fund paramilitary organisations?

Mr. King

I entirely accept what my hon. Friend says. We take an extremely serious view of this matter. Yesterday's convictions were the latest in a series of successful investigations, and against the impression that this has suddenly come to light I would point out that there were 25 convictions in 1985 and 54 in 1986 and that there are further prosecutions pending. We are determined to see that these matters are pursued extremely vigorously.

Mr. Flannery

Does the Secretary of State not realise that each time he tells the House that he has nothing more to say about the Stalker report, especially after all that has gone on in the past long months and in view of Mr. Stalker's present position, and the more he goes on doing nothing the more everybody thinks that something nasty and dirty is being concealed?

Mr. King

The hon. Member would be the first to complain if he thought that I was interfering in an independent investigation of extremely serious allegations. The hon. Member is aware that the first report of Mr. Sampson is at this moment with the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland—it would, therefore, he quite improper for me to comment on the possible outcome of it—and that the second report on the further allegations, which may lead to possible charges, is at this moment in the final stages of preparation by Mr. Sampson and will, I expect, be forwarded shortly to the Director of Public Prosecutions as well.

Mr. Alton

Has the Secretary of State had the chance to consider the recommendations of the Standing and Advisory Commission on Human Rights in Northern Ireland, reiterated yeserday by Mr. Peter Barry, that non-jury courts should be replaced by courts of three judges?

Mr. King

That is a matter on which I have made our views clear, and I think that they are well known. In our response to the Standing Advisory Commission we have made it clear that we are anxious to see, as far as possible, an extension of jury trials, which would be the preferred option.