HC Deb 18 February 1992 vol 204 cc303-4

Queen's Recommendation having been signified—

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Army Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other enactment.—[Mr. Nicholas Baker.]

11.58 pm
Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

The money resolution concerns section 2 of the Armed Forces Act 1966, in relation to the Ulster Defence Regiment. It concerns extra expenditure for the Army in Northern Ireland and that is the topic on which I propose to address the House briefly in the minutes available to me.

I realise that it is late, and I do not wish to detain the House for long; however, it is important that people realise that the key to effective security is intelligence. In recent days, we have had an eloquent example of how the effective exploitation of intelligence can prevent terrorist incidents, and how additional money put into the exploitation of intelligence can be used to the advantage of the military authorities.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. I realise that the hon. Gentleman is still on his preamble, but I must remind him that the money resolution is very narrow, and directly concerns expenditure related to the Ulster Defence Regiment. It would not be in order to introduce wider issues about intelligence.

Mr. Allason

I am grateful for the Chair's guidance. I propose to address the House on the 1966 Act in relation to the Ulster Defence Regiment, and to additional funds for the payment, support, welfare and, if necessary, resettlement and long-term security provision for intelligence sources. That goes to the heart of the money resolution.

How is one to acquire important intelligence in the Province? Certainly, technical surveillance has a role, as do radio and telephone intercepts. There is limited scope for clandestine surveillance. The real key, where money is involved, is in relation to agents.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to a recent case, that of Brian Nelson—a soldier who spent six years in the Black Watch, subsequently became entangled with the Ulster Defence Association and then moved to Germany. He was persuaded to return to Northern Ireland by the Army. In the years that followed, he was paid the princely sum of approximately £200 a week to supply information to the security authorities.

I hold no brief for Brian Nelson. I do not believe that he was an angel, although—in his defence—it was said at the time that he saved the lives of about 200 people. I am not going to stray from the—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, again, but I am finding it difficult to relate what he is saying to the narrow money order before the House.

Mr. Allason

The money resolution relates to the provision of money to the Ulster Defence Regiment, which is the subject that I am tackling.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is not quite that. It only relates to the amalgamation to which the Bill applies.

Mr. Allason

I thank the Chair for guidance. I have studied the 1966 Act, especially section 2. I hope that the Chair recognises that that is the topic of the money resolution.

My concern is not that the source was the victim of the Stevens inquiry. I do not think he was. However, it is in the long-term interests of the country and of the security of the people of Northern Ireland that sufficient money should be provided to ensure that people who volunteer information to the security authorities should not merely be rewarded at that time. It should be certain that they and their families will be looked after in the years ahead.

I shall give a brief illustration of what is likely to happen if the authorities fail to give that support.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but money resolutions, by the nature of things, are extremely narrow. He is now raising a much wider issue and, rather than having me keep interrupting him, it would be much more in his interests if he were to find another opportunity to raise this issue.

Mr. Allason

The money resolution relates to how money is spent in support of the Ulster Defence Regiment. It is important to consider how the people of Northern Ireland are to be protected.

Unless people are given long-term security, instead of long-term prison sentences, the authorities will be unlikely in the future to get the co-operation of those who are in a position to volunteer information to UDR or related organisations. I do not believe that my comments are straying from the resolution, particularly when Mr. Nelson, once he is released from prison, is likely to be a target not just of the UDA, which regards him as a traitor, but of the Provisional IRA. That organisation is now fully aware of his activities.

Unless money is made available, long term, for the protection and resettlement of such individuals, it will always be—

Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)

Has the hon. Gentleman considered how much the newspaper, television and film rights of Mr. Nelson's experiences will be worth?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. You see, this is the trouble: we are now about to start a debate that is a long way from the money resolution. I know that the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason) feels strongly about this issue, but he must find another opportunity on which to raise it. It is not at all in order to do so on this money resolution.

Question put and agreed to.