§ Mr. Harold McCusker (Upper Bann)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the complete withdrawal of all British customs and excise services in South Armagh on Saturday 5 March 1988.The matter is specific because it refers to the complete shutdown of Newry customs clearance station and the 10 customs clearance agencies that operate there. It is important because the Newry customs station is by far the largest and most important customs post on the frontier with the Irish Republic and is responsible for processing the bulk of legitimate trade between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and for controlling other movements across the border, and for reducing the massive swindles involving smuggling and other EEC procedures. The Newry customs station is normally open every Saturday until 5.30 pm.
The matter is urgent because the withdrawal of customs service occurred as a result of a single telephone call, allegedly from a terrorist or terrorist sympathiser. That telephone call did not contain any identifying code and was not accompanied by any public threat from the IRA, yet it resulted in not one member of the customs service turning up for work last Saturday, the day on which two terrorists were buried who had blown themselves up with their own bomb.
Within the next few days, the bodies of three more terrorists will return to Northern Ireland for burial. Will a number of telephone calls be allowed to bring chaos to Northern Ireland again, or will the Government take a stand against such intimidation? That matter requires to be debated urgently in the Chamber today.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of considering a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the complete withdrawal of all British customs and excise services in South Armagh on Saturday 5 March.I have listened with care and concern to what the hon. Gentleman said. He knows that in Standing Order No. 20 applications I have to decide whether to give the matter precedence over the business set down for today or for tomorrow. I regret that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20, and I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.