HC Deb 21 June 1990 vol 174 cc1104-5
8. Mr. Ernie Ross

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the protection of human rights in Northern Ireland.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. John Cope)

Human rights are already well protected in Northern Ireland, but we are always willing to consider proposals for strengthening existing safeguards.

Mr. Ross

Will the incorporation of the international convention on human rights in Northern Ireland legislation appear on the agenda of any of the three parallel discussions that the Minister hopes to have in the autumn?

Mr. Cope

That is possible, but as no agenda have yet been decided, I cannot guarantee that. The European convention on human rights establishes the right of individual petition, and so on, which the Government accept. Most of the rights that it contains are incorporated in our legislation.

Mr. Latham

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the most important human right to be protected in Northern Ireland is the right not to be blown up or murdered by IRA terrorists?

Mr. Cope

I absolutely confirm that. The worst violation of human rights is that done to the victims of terrorists.

Mr. Molyneaux

Given that for the past 18 years Northern Ireland has been governed and administered entirely by Ministers accountable to this House, what is the need for protecting human rights in Belfast as opposed to Birmingham?

Mr. Cope

I am not sure of the distinction that the right hon. Gentleman draws. We do our best to legislate to ensure that human rights are protected.

Rev. William McCrea

Bearing in mind the fact that the Minister has told the House that human rights are well protected within Northern Ireland, and accepting that the greatest human right to be protected is the right to live, will the Minister tell the House why it is that an increasing number of contractors in my constituency are daily threatened by the IRA, why men are forced into unemployment, why bombs are put under employees' cars, and why people are slaughtered? Is not it time that the Government brought the nightmare of terrorism to an end, so that the people of Ulster can enjoy the right to live?

Mr. Cope

We fight terrorism in all its forms, and I particularly deplore the terrorism aimed against contractors, to which the hon. Gentleman draws our attention. We are taking every step that we can to bring it to an end.