HC Deb 12 January 1989 vol 144 cc985-6
8. Mr. Harry Barnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement of his policy towards reconciliation in Northern Ireland in the light of the peace charter which has been sent to him by the Workers' party of Ireland.

Dr. Mawhinney

Reconciliation between the two traditions is fundamental to the achievement of lasting peace and stability in Northern Ireland. The improvement of relations between the communities is a key element in the Government's approach. We are encouraged by the Workers' party's forthright rejection of terrorist violence and by its call for dialogue between political representatives in the Province.

Mr. Barnes

In rejecting all forms of terrorism and struggling for peace in Northern Ireland, the Workers' party is advocating constructive dialogue, the establishment of democratic machinery and procedures throughout Northern Ireland and equal opportunities based upon the elimination of poverty and unemployment. How well do the Government score on that scale?

Dr. Mawhinney

We support in broad principle the sort of proposals included in the Workers' party's peace charter. It may encourage the hon. Gentleman to know that I shall be inviting representatives of the party to talk to me about the proposals.

Mr. Budgen

Would not the course of reconciliation in Northern Ireland be most helped if the people of that Province had the same rights in the legislative procedures in the House as the remainder of the United Kingdom? Is is not an absolute disgrace that the criminal law of Northern Ireland can be changed by order after three hours' debate in the House without an opportunity for reconsideration, receiving the arguments of High Court judges in Northern Ireland or amendment?

Dr. Mawhinney

I note my hon. Friend's point and I note also that it is made at a time when there are two Bills relating to Northern Ireland passing through the House. If my hon. Friend has constructive proposals to make in terms of Northern Ireland legislation, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will listen to them.

Forward to