HC Deb 14 November 1991 vol 198 cc1221-2
9. Mr. Hayward

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the application of the citizens charter to Northern Ireland.

Dr. Mawhinney

Although the principles set out in the citizens charter White Paper apply throughout the United Kingdom, the structures for the administration of public services in Northern Ireland are different from those in Great Britain. Accordingly, when the White Paper was launched in July, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that he would publish a separate Northern Ireland charter. It will usefully reinforce the important principles contained in the White Paper as they will be applied in the Province. The Northern Ireland charter will be launched shortly.

Mr. Hayward

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he confirm that his answer does not imply that the standards applied in Northern Ireland will be different from those in the rest of the United Kingdom?

Dr. Mawhinney

I can certainly offer my hon. Friend and the people of Northern Ireland that assurance.

Mr. Alton

Given the creditable support that the Minister has previously given to integrated education in Northern Ireland, will he ensure that provision is made within the citizens charter to develop integrated education and to facilitate the opportunity for children in Northern Ireland to enter such education? Is not that the best investment that we can make in the long-term future for that troubled area?

Dr. Mawhinney

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's kind personal comment and for his continuing support over many years for the policy of integrated education. The best possible defence of that policy is that it is now available in statute as a third option which the parents of Northern Ireland can exercise. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the citizens charter and the parents charter which will follow from it in Northern Ireland will not undermine that policy initiative.

Rev. William McCrea

Does the Minister agree that the best right for the people of the United Kingdom under any citizens charter would be the right to live and to go about their daily work without the continual threat of terrorism? We have had 20 long years of murder and destruction in the Province. What can the Minister tell the people of Northern Ireland after a night of carnage in the city of Belfast?

Dr. Mawhinney

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that the right to life and to not being molested or attacked is fundamental. He will also know of the bravery and dedication of the security forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary as they have sought to pursue terrorists and those who wantonly break the law. He should also be in no doubt of the effectiveness of that policy bearing in mind the fact that the Chief Constable said recently that more than four out of five terrorist incidents are thwarted and never take place. I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that that is a commendable advance by the RUC and the security forces, although it should not lead to complacency, because we shall not be satisfied until five out of five incidents are thwarted.

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