§ The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Sir Patrick Mayhew)
I beg to move,
That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency and Prevention of Terrorism Provisions) (Continuance) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 20th April, be approved.The House has become too familiar with the need, year after year, to renew the temporary provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1991 and its predecessor. The Act has a five-year lifespan. Therefore, unless it is wholly re-enacted before August 1996, its provisions will cease to have effect completely. By then, I shall have published a report from Mr. John Rowe, Queen's counsel, following a fundamental review of the Act's provisions and their operation, which I have already commissioned and which is due to begin next month. We need immediately, however, to note that the Act's temporary provisions—as defined in section 69—lapse on 15 June unless the order is approved. Regretfully, I must advise the House that their renewal is certainly required.
I intend to leave as much time as possible for hon. and right hon. Members to speak. Therefore, some points on which I do not touch, as well as those raised in this debate, may fall to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to deal with when he replies or in correspondence.
We already have to assist us Mr. Rowe's first report, published on 16 May. I am most grateful to him for taking on this responsibility, in succession to Lord Colville QC. In endorsing his conclusion that the powers conferred by the Act remain necessary for a further year, it is right that I should express the Government's regret that this should be so. Yet in asking the security forces to uphold the rule of law, it is our duty to see to it that the law itself is sensibly adapted in response to the challenge thrown down by the terrorists.
This is a matter of great importance to the Government and, accordingly, we very carefully keep the law under review. Against the need to meet that challenge, we have to balance the need to maintain the essential fairness of the law recognising, among other considerations, that unfair law, perceived to be oppressive, does not gain public acceptance and soon becomes law that works against its purpose.
I deal now with some of the recent atrocities of those who bear the responsibility for the continuing need for these provisions. Since the last renewal of the Act, 84 people have died as a result of terrorist violence in Northern Ireland. Eleven were members of the security forces, and 32 of those killed have been murdered this year alone. The memory of atrocities such as the Shankill road bombing and the Greysteel murders in October last year remain etched vividly on all our minds. However, every bit as evil, although less widely recalled, are the individual murders which leave their indelible imprint on shattered families and fearful communities.
The past few weeks, and indeed the past few days, have seen hideous examples: the young soldier killed in Keady, County Armagh on his first tour of duty; the elderly woman shot dead near Dungannon and the young students murdered in Armagh; the Northern Ireland Electricity cleaner shot dead in front of his wife on his way to work, 264 and the police station cleaner killed by a car bomb that injured his wife and son and placed his three-year old daughter's life in the balance; the abduction, so-called interrogation, and cold-blooded murder of a young Royal Irish soldier, and the killing of a 19-year-old security guard in Belfast. The callousness of those who carry out these and similar acts beggars description. It induces a cold determination in us all to eliminate such evil rather than waste time with the vocabulary of condemnation.
It is to meet the challenge presented by such crimes that we need to renew the temporary provisions of the Act. The Act provides modifications to the criminal justice system, including the mode of trial for terrorist-type offences; arrest, search and seizure powers for the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army; and covers certain specific offences such as belonging to a proscribed organisation. It also provides valuable powers directed against terrorist finances. It contains significant safeguards for those who may be affected by the special provisions.
It is also right, I think, to refer to the power to order executive detention. This power, although not currently in force, is retained in the Act. There is, the Government firmly believe, a need to retain it in the Act. If the extremity of circumstances should warrant it, we shall not shrink from activating it. To abandon it, as the Labour party has in the past so regrettably proposed, would be, in our view, an act of high irresponsibility. To vote against previous renewal orders for that purpose was always bad logic as well as bad judgment. The power to order detention can be removed only by primary legislation.
Legal provisions of this character are of themselves of course not enough to secure the Government's primary objective in Northern Ireland, which is the defeat and elimination of terrorism. However, they are shown by experience to give the RUC and the Army the capability to prevent and disrupt a great many attacks that would otherwise have occurred and to bring to justice, week in, week out, many of those responsible for terrorist crime.
I now give some examples of such operations, all drawn from the Belfast area. They are of a character replicated elsewhere in Northern Ireland. In February, a group of people was intercepted in east Belfast: two AKM rifles, a hand-gun and a MK15 coffee jar grenade were recovered and six people were subsequently charged with terrorist-related offences. The following day, a mortar was recovered from a house in north Belfast, preventing an attack on a nearby RUC station, and three men were charged in connection with the incident. More recently, the police searched a house in west Belfast and recovered weapons, sledge hammers and other terrorist equipment and made four arrests. Only last week, a man appeared in court charged under section 27 of the Act with directing a terrorist organisation. All these cases are, of course, now sub judice.
There has been, and will be, no relaxation in the security forces' efforts of this character.
§ Sir Patrick Mayhew
I had hoped to leave time for hon. Members to speak. I shall give way, but it reduces the time available.
§ Rev. Martin Smyth
I appreciate the Secretary of State's giving way. I also appreciate and welcome those 265 illustrations of success, but is it possible to be told the number of occasions on which legislation against terrorist financing and the organising of terror has been used?
§ Sir Patrick Mayhew
It is used all the time. It is used to secure very considerable disruption of terrorist financing and of the vehicles by which it is sought to conceal the financing operations on which terrorism depends so heavily. There have been few prosecutions, and I think that that is the point that the hon. Gentleman seeks to make. These cases take a very long time to prepare. If they were insufficiently prepared, the hon. Gentleman and others would be rightly critical of the failure that would result.
The scale of the remorseless erosion by the RUC of the paramilitary forces on both sides is not always recognised. Last year, 372 people were charged with terrorist offences. This year alone, 171 people have been charged, including more than 100 loyalists and 57 republicans. Persons who, after due process of law, may ultimately be convicted of terrorist offences are not some kind of political prisoner, of which we have none in our country. Their conduct is made criminal by the statute book or by the common law. The sentences that their conduct attracts will usually ensure that they stay in prison for many a long year. They are heavy sentences indeed.
Noting the scale of those highly significant and valuable successes, I therefore take this opportunity to pay tribute to the dedicated work of the security forces. They face cruel and callous criminals who stop at nothing, including torture. They face them willingly, always acknowledging that they themselves must operate within the law. They know that, as the rule of law requires, their own actions will be carefully and impartially scrutinised by authorities that are independent of the Government. Immense discipline and restraint, as well as courage, are called for from the security forces—police and military—as well as from the prison service. For the very high standards that they achieve, I believe that they deserve our warm gratitude and admiration.
I refer now to the co-operation that the security forces receive from across the border. It is sometimes suggested that the quality of security co-operation with the Republic could be enhanced. Achieving the most effective security co-operation possible is vital to our joint opposition to terrorism. I am therefore glad to report to the House that the quality of the co-operation that we receive from the Republic is, in the words of our Chief Constable, "at an all-time high".
Throughout this year, the Garda Siochana on the ground has continued to make very significant finds of arms and munitions, has taken part in a number of co-ordinated operations and made arrests. This work is greatly appreciated. Both Governments, however, constantly strive to find ways of improving the effectiveness of security measures, through the mechanisms of the intergovernmental conference and elsewhere. As recent events have shown, the terrorist threat is not confined to the north, and the co-operation between the two police forces will continue to be two-way traffic.
I return to the legislation itself and to the general reports on facets of its operation that I have commissioned and already published. First, I refer to the holding centres and the question whether interviews with terrorist suspects should be recorded. The holding centres, or police offices, play a central part in bringing terrorists to justice; perhaps that is why they have attracted controversy in the past. We 266 want them to be demythologised. Accordingly, on 1 January this year, codes of practice concerning the detention and questioning of suspects came into effect under section 61 of the Act.
At the end of 1992, I appointed Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC as independent commissioner for the holding centres, which was a new post. I am most grateful to him for his diligent and inquiring work since then, as I am also to his deputy, Dr. Bill Norris. Sir Louis' first annual report to me, now published, is characteristically thoughtful and I am grateful for it. All should be pleased to note that he
found absolutely nothing that might give anyone the slightest cause for concern about the care and treatment of detainees held in the custody of uniformed officers of the RUC".I shall now touch on some of the issues that Sir Louis raises. He advocates, as does Mr. Rowe, some form of audio or video recording of interviews. I readily acknowledge the strong arguments in favour of either video or audio recording. They have powerful judicial support, and hold out the prospects of some obvious and valuable advantages, not least in shortening or eliminating at trial challenges made to the authenticity of alleged confessions.
However, one of the key tests is whether it could be absolutely guaranteed that such a recording could not later come to be seen or heard by someone who had a punitive motive. I myself am not sure that such guarantee would be regarded by suspects as reliable. It is the strong view of Sir Hugh Annesley, who, as Chief Constable, is my principal security adviser, that in the circumstances of Northern Ireland any electronic recording of interviews would inhibit still further the chances of lawfully obtaining information that would lead to the conviction of terrorists or to the saving of other people's lives. I have discussed the matter with him at length, and I am not prepared to take a serious risk of that character. I am bound to attach special weight to the opinion of Sir Hugh Annesley, who leads the RUC with such distinction, and I am not currently persuaded to accept the proposal.
Sir Louis also made other recommendations. We are happy to accept his proposal to reorganise the medical services in the police offices. The proposal for a legal advice unit is also attractive, but that is not entirely ours to dispose. We have asked the Law Society of Northern Ireland, whose co-operation would be vital, for its views. I understand from Sir Louis that he wishes to progress his work on this issue still further. He intends, I believe, to produce a separate interim report on the proposal in the autumn; I look forward to that.
Sir Louis also criticises the physical conditions in Castlereagh. I have to agree that they are unsatisfactory, and I am aware that the Police Authority for Northern Ireland is actively pursuing a solution to the problem.
I now return to Mr. Rowe's report, and to complaints against the police and armed forces. Police officers and soldiers move and work in the community, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. It would be remarkable if there were not what Mr. Rowe describes as abrasive incidents. The security forces are trained to avoid them, but everyone is human and it is important that there should be sound mechanisms to deal with any complaint when one occurs.
For the police, there is the Independent Commission for Police Complaints, whose sixth annual report was published last week. The commission is a fully independent body, with wide-ranging powers, and is 267 acknowledged as a world leader. Its chairman, Mr. James Grew, is currently chairman of the international association of such organisations. That is a tribute not only to him but to the body over which he presides.
The Army, too, maintains extensive and sophisticated complaints procedures. At the end of 1992, I appointed, under section 60 of the Act, Mr. David Hewitt, an experienced and respected Belfast solicitor, to be independent assessor of military complaints procedures—another new post. His first annual report to me was published last month. I believe that now, for the first time, a thorough and impartial account of those mechanisms is in the public domain. With it came recommendations for improvement. The GOC, Sir Roger Wheeler, has said that he is examining these very carefully with a view to their implementation, and I look forward to having further discussions with him.
Mr. Rowe also draws attention to conflicting views on the law as it affects soldiers or police officers who have killed terrorists, or people believed to be terrorists. I know that many people, including some in eminent positions, regard the present law as unsatisfactory.
The Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland has lent his support to a change in the law in a recent judgment upholding the conviction of a soldier for murder. Sir Brian Hutton, whose view naturally commands the highest respect, stated his belief that the law would be fairer if a conviction for manslaughter rather than murder were possible where a soldier or police officer had killed a person, not from an evil motive, but because, his duties having placed him on the scene armed with a weapon, he had reacted wrongly to a situation that suddenly confronted him.
Police officers and soldiers are required to operate in areas in Northern Ireland where there is a grave threat against them. They do that in order to uphold law and order and to protect the community. The fact that almost 1,000 members of the security forces have been killed during the current terrorist campaign is evidence enough of the risks that they face.
They are, in certain circumstances, under a duty to use their weapons for the protection of themselves or of others. They must make up their minds in a trice. In so doing, they are offered no more and no less protection under the law than that available to any citizen.
However, I think that such a change in the law would soon be criticised. It would be said that the Government were intent on protecting members of the security forces from facing the charge that they allegedly ought to face—that of murder. "One law for the security forces and another for the rest," would be the criticism. Yet it has always been the policy of successive Governments that members of the security forces should be bound by the ordinary criminal law. I believe that that is a sound principle, and one which attracts public confidence. After the most careful consideration, I do not find myself persuaded that the overall interests of justice would be served by a change of that character.
The Act needs to achieve a balance between safeguarding the rights of the individual and providing condign measures against terrorists and the organisations that sustain them. So, in the context of the debate, it is relevant to recall that the Chief Constable of the RUC has 268 put to me certain proposals for law reform. I have considered those most carefully, in consultation with the RUC and according to the criteria that I have mentioned. Naturally, I have also taken into account judicial opinion in Northern Ireland. I shall deal with those proposals briefly now.
I agree that we should make it easier for the police to obtain from suspects samples for forensic analysis. It is vital to be able to undertake DNA analysis, and by means of a Government amendment to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, currently in another place, plucked hair will be classified beyond doubt as a non-intimate sample for the purposes of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. More work on forensic analysis generally is being undertaken in the context of the report of the Royal Commission on criminal justice.
The Chief Constable believes that if means could be found of admitting in evidence the product of warranted interception of communications, obtained under the Interception of Communications Act 1985, that would valuably help to secure the conviction of some terrorists who might well otherwise go free. I have much sympathy with that idea. It is a serious and weighty argument, and one to which I and others need to give full and careful consideration. I am mindful also of the considerable success which has attended the use, notably in the United States, of wire-tap material.
However, the provisions of the 1985 Act were intended to maintain the complete secrecy of the system of organised interception. It was considered then that the system could be irrevocably damaged, both as a method of protecting national security and of dealing with serious crime. For example, in some circumstances, even to allow someone to discover that he was the subject of interception might make it impossible to pursue an investigation. Anything that disclosed the pattern of use of interception could also be damaging.
Accordingly, although the Government are not as yet persuaded that the case for change has been made out, we are continuing to examine most carefully both the way in which cases develop, and the balance of advantage and disadvantage in any changes, in the uniquely difficult circumstances of Northern Ireland.
Sir Hugh Annesley has further suggested that a suspect's so-called right to silence be amended by the adaptation and extension to all terrorist crime of the provisions concerning authorised investigators contained in the recently introduced section 57 and schedule 5 of the Act. That would make it a criminal offence for a suspect to refuse to answer questions in certain circumstances. The powers in question derive from provisions designed for use against fraud. They enable the RUC to obtain the expertise of particular individuals for the skilled questioning of suspects in complex fraud cases, with criminal sanctions for unreasonably refusing to answer. After careful consultation about the proposal to extend them, I do not believe that so important a change in a basic principle of our criminal justice system should be commended to Parliament.
A further proposal would significantly narrow a court's discretion to acquit in cases of possession. That would involve amending the Act to require the court to make the necessary assumption of knowledge in such cases unless it were shown to be incorrect or the court were satisfied that there would be a serious risk of injustice. I am, however, not convinced that it would achieve the desired effect, and 269 I am concerned that it might also increase the risk of miscarriages of justice. I therefore believe that the potential benefit would be outweighed by the practical and theoretical drawbacks.
The people of Northern Ireland continue to face, with great steadfastness and resolution, evil campaigns of violence that are pursued with political motivation. They not only need to have confidence in the resolution, fairness, impartiality, courage and sensitivity of our security forces and those qualities in our security policy; they also need to have confidence in the effectiveness of the law with which the security forces are called on to counter the men of violence. As Mr. Rowe says in his report, the community's right to be free from terrorism is as important as any individual's rights, and that well describes the competing interests which the House must bring into judicious balance.
I greatly hope that the Opposition will nerve themselves in the interests of Northern Ireland not to vote against the order. The iniquitous crimes of terrorists continue to necessitate the renewal of the Act's temporary provisions, and I commend the order to the House.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
The renewal of the emergency powers has, sadly, become an annual ritual in the House. What were originally intended as temporary measures have now been in existence for 21 years. Powers that can be justified in an emergency cannot be justified as a permanent feature of the criminal justice system in a liberal democratic society, and that is why we examine them each year.
This debate provides an opportunity for the House to assess the security situation in Northern Ireland and the Government's new initiatives. It also provides an opportunity to comment on some of the interesting statements made by the Secretary of State about some of the Chief Constable's requests for additional powers.
Despite the joint declaration and the strong momentum behind the peace process, the level of violence has escalated recently. The rate of killings in Northern Ireland this year is as depressingly high as it was in 1993. No community in Northern Ireland has escaped the impact of paramilitary activities.
There can be no excuse for such callous disregard for human life. It should not be forgotten that we would not be here debating this renewal order if all the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland brought the killings to an end, with the permanent cessation of violence. We regret that the call of the leader of the Ulster Unionist party for the loyalist paramilitaries to end their campaign has not received an immediate and positive response.
In response to Sinn Fein's questions on the joint declaration, the Government made four important points. First, the Government of Ireland Act 1920 can be on the negotiating table; secondly, no party has a veto over Government policy; thirdly, there is no need for Sinn Fein to accept the joint declaration, only to renounce the use of violence for political ends; and, fourthly, there is recognition of Sinn Fein's electoral mandate. Given that response by the Government, there can be no justification, if ever there was—which I deny—for continued IRA violence. They should lay down their arms and come to the conference table.
270 Like the Secretary of State, we express our support and admiration for the work done by the security forces, the prison service and the judiciary, as they seek impartially to uphold the rule of law. Those men and women deserve acknowledgement for coping with the continuing stress and danger associated with their work—and, indeed, sadly, after they have ceased their full-time service. We also welcome the continuing high level of co-operation between the RUC and the Garda Siochana.
In its present form, the emergency provisions Act confers on the security forces wide-ranging powers which represent a marked departure from the usually accepted standards in a democracy. The Labour party recognises the justification for some emergency powers to counter the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland. However, we cannot support this order while the power of internment remains on the statute book and the Government still refuse to implement measures recommended by their own advisers and bodies, such as the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights.
The power of internment is an infringement of fundamental human rights. It is totally unacceptable. The power of the Executive to imprison without charge, let alone trial, undermines the founding principles of any democratic country. The legitimacy of the state is based on the rule of law. The power of internment grants the Executive the right to suspend the rule of law. Such a right weakens the integrity of the state, and thereby strengthens the terrorists.
§ Mr. McNamara
Not at the moment.
Speculation after every terrorist atrocity over the possibility of the reintroduction of internment only fuels paramilitary violence and suggests that somehow there is a quick fix—an immediate solution to a continuing problem. Further, because of the history of internment, it heightens the levels of alienation and distrust, which again plays into the hands of the paramilitaries. The Government should take heed of Sir George Baker, the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights and Lord Colville, and repeal the power.
This debate takes place against the background of four major reports—two by John Rowe QC on the emergency provisions Act and the prevention of terrorism Act, and the annual reports of Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC, the independent commissioner for the holding centres, and David Hewitt, the independent assessor of military complaints procedures.
Fears concerning possible abuses at the holding centres have contributed to disillusionment with the process of justice in Northern Ireland. We welcome the fact that, in his report, Sir Louis Blom-Cooper recognises the need for proper safeguards to be introduced in order to build confidence in the security forces and to provide police officers with protection against false allegations of physical and verbal harassment.
Yesterday, I visited the Castlereagh holding centre. I am indebted to the RUC officers for their the courtesy and help in explaining their procedures and practices to me. I looked at the battery of small television screens monitoring the interview rooms. I think that there were only eight 271 interviews taking place in this instance with 16 screens to be monitored. I therefore concur with Sir Louis Blom-Cooper's assessment:If there is, at any one time, more than a handful of interviews taking place—and frequently there are as many as eight to a dozen in action—it is difficult to understand how any inspector of police, however vigilant and undistracted by other duties … can be alerted to an untoward incident which might take place in the interview room.Sir Loius Blom-Cooper argues that, as a result,it is well nigh impossible to monitor the screens effectively".He therefore concludes that a system should be introduced whereby
every interview would be tape-recorded, both audio and visual, but particularly the former".I listened with care to what the Secretary of State said about the views of the Chief Constable. He must keep those views very much in mind. Sometimes, chief constables must be overruled, and this is one of those occasions when that is necessary, both in the interests of apparent justice and in the interests of defeating terrorism.
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper joins a wide body of opinion in favour of some method of recording interviews at holding centres. For example, John Rowe states:I hold the firm view that interviews with terrorist suspects should be recorded by audio tape.He also accepts that video recording is "desirable" in certain circumstances.
The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights has already supported the introduction of silent video recording, and is considering the call for audio recording. Lord Colville also called for the introduction of video recording.
Sir Louis Blom-Cooper outlined a system to protect tape recordings of interviews. His proposal that the disclosure of tapes should be a judicial decision is in line with what Labour has argued. If such a procedure is felt to be undesirable, however, it should still be possible for the Government—despite the Chief Constable—to accept in principle the introduction of audio and video recording and to establish a small working party representing the Bar, the RUC, the Law Society and the judiciary, to propose a system that would be satisfactory.
I accept what Sir Hugh Annesley said about guaranteeing security, but nothing is secure in that system, and audio recording of terrorist interrogations takes place in Britain, where we do not find that too strong an argument against it. We also know that procedures are being considered in Britain, in principle, for the introduction of video safeguards again for the interrogation of terrorists; therefore, guaranteeing security does not seem to be a powerful argument in Britain.
In Paddington Green police station, all interviews of terrorist suspects are audio-taped and soon will be video-taped. If it is possible to ensure reasonable safety in Great Britain, I fail to see why it cannot be done in Northern Ireland.
There has been a change in the RUC's argument, as the Secretary of State reported. Its earlier argument would have been that, if the tapes fell into the wrong hands, people could find out sources and hints of intelligence, or that sources of information might dry up. In fact, the RUC defeats that argument by saying, in answer to criticisms on other matters, that, once a detainee is released into an ordinary prison, he or she is debriefed.
272 Two other main points arise from Sir Louis Blom-Cooper's argument. First, as the Secretary of State said, his proposal for a permanent, full-time legal advice unit for detainees in holding centres deserves further consideration, and I am glad to hear that Sir Louis will give it. It is clear, however, that whatever unit is established would have to be run independently by the Law Society and be seen to be independent of the Government.
Membership of such a unit would in no sense have to be restricted to exclude certain solicitors. It would have one advantage, in that, if it were adopted, it would be right to expect an end to the use of 48-hour deferrals of access to a solicitor. That represents a severe curtailment of the fundamental right of access to legal advice. If such a unit were established, although solicitors would go into the compound to interview, their permanent office should be outside, as a symbol of the fact that they are independent of Government.
I am also concerned about persistent rumours of unsubstantiated allegations that certain solicitors pass on information that they receive from their clients to paramilitary organisations. Those insinuations may bring the authorities into conflict with United Nations basic principles on the role of lawyers, which state among other things:
Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.If such actions are taking place, evidence should be supplied to the Director of Public Prosecutions, as it would be a criminal offence, or to the professional conduct committee of the Law Society, as it would also be a professional offence. If there is no evidence, however, the allegations should stop. Unsubstantiated attacks on the reputations of solicitors attending clients at holding centres cannot be allowed to continue. Such attacks represent a serious breach of the principle that every individual has a right to a proper defence by a lawyer of his or her choice.
Video and audio taping would have one slight advantage, in that they help to prevent the allegations made by some detainees that their solicitors' connections with paramilitary organisations are said to prove their guilt.
Secondly, I have witnessed the extremely poor conditions within the Castlereagh holding centre to which Sir Louis referred in his report. He asserts:the whole centre is not conducive to the civilised administration of a process of holding persons in police custody for the purpose of interrogation".I agree. He also states:The absence of any realistic space for exercise in the open air … and the absence of any clock or watch and the denial of reading and writing matter are serious deprivations".I understand that exercise in the open air would be difficult, but the others could be complied with immediately.
Furthermore, RUC officers stationed at Castlereagh are also forced to endure appalling working conditions. We support the proposal that the police authority should urgently get on with finding other premises.
Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society, and a significant section of the population refuse to accept the legitimacy of the forces of law and order. In such circumstances, the impartial upholding of the law is crucial, and the lack of confidence in the security forces which exists among some groups cannot be ignored.
While the majority of the security forces in Northern Ireland maintain, and have maintained, the high standards expected of them, often in the face of tremendous abuse and the temptation to retaliate, it nevertheless must be 273 recognised that there are occasional abuses of power. This further damages confidence in the community, and reinforces the sense of alienation. Even with safeguards to protect citizens, abuses of power are still almost inevitable.
John Rowe reports that the number of complaints against the police in 1993 was 2,956, yet only 1 per cent. of those were substantiated. Rowe asserts:the small number of complaints substantiated causes resentment in the community".Such a low level of success damages the credibility of the independent commission. I support the commission's call for a change in the legislation to enable it to call in cases for investigate without the need for a complaint or referral by the Secretary of State, the Chief Constable or the police authority.
The Secretary of State said that he would not accept what the Lord Chief Justice said about a new, or lesser, crime to be indicted against members of the security forces who kill somebody in doubtful situations when they are on duty. I confess that I believe that there is still a lot to be debated in this area. One can see the problem facing the serving soldier.
I was under the impression that, at the intergovernmental conference over a year ago, the matter was referred to civil servants from both sides for discussion. I had expected that there might have been an outcome to the deliberations. Certainly I believe that there is wide scope for debate. I do not think that we can casually, in a few moments, throw over what the Lord Chief Justice has said—as the Secretary of State has done in the debate—without examining it more carefully.
The Labour party warmly welcomes the impressively detailed first annual report of Mr. David Hewitt. While we maintain that the assessor should have powers to investigate the merits of particular cases, and while we regret that the powers relate only to procedure, David Hewitt's research and recommendations deserve careful consideration by the Government.
I was pleased to hear that the commanding officer is looking at the matters carefully—and, I hope, sympathetically—because much of what Hewitt suggested is powerful, and could go a long way towards easing many troubles. The low number of successful complaints, as he has pointed out, remains a matter of concern, because it calls into question the accountability of the armed force, and reinforces the perception that they are above the law, which we all know and believe they are not.
In 1993, only 16 formal non-criminal complaints—7.6 per cent. of the total—were upheld. Hewitt concludes:
perhaps as many as 50 per cent. of the 'denied' and 'not substantiated nor disproven' cases may have been from individuals genuinely and understandably aggrieved by Army behaviour, at least on the balance of probability, if not beyond reasonable doubt.Hewitt concludes that the low level of successful complaints leads to "widespread dissatisfaction", which he considers to be justified. That is a damning indictment of the present procedures.
§ Mr. Brazier
As the hon. Gentleman works through his long laundry list of the existing powers with which he agrees and disagrees, would he like to make it clear whether there are any extra powers that he thinks the security forces should enjoy in Ulster to defeat the very real threat from terrorism?
§ Mr. McNamara
I believe that a careful balance must be struck between those powers that are necessary and 274 which will not alienate the community, and those that, if used, would alienate the community and therefore would be self-defeating. For example, there are powers relating to the laundering of money and matters of that nature which are a very proper part of the ordinary law of the land and of the emergency provisions.
I regret that we have to have trials without juries, but I would rather have contracting in than certifying out. There are others, which I could go through. The principal one which I have stated I do not believe should remain is the power of internment. The Government should also accept the other recommendations that have followed.
No one can quarrel with David Hewitt's assertion that the overwhelming aim of the complaints procedure is to give reasonable satisfaction to a genuine complainant. In cases where it is simply the soldier's word against that of the complainant, Hewitt recommends that the complainant should more often be given the benefit of the doubt and an apology should be dispatched on a "without prejudice" basis. I support that proposal.
Also of concern are cases highlighted by Hewitt which fall outside the Army's non-criminal investigation procedure because they have been deemed criminal by the RUC, but where the Director of Public Prosecutions decides not to prosecute. In those cases, no further action or prosecution is undertaken by the Army. Again, I support Hewitt's call for all criminal incidents that are not prosecuted to be made automatically the subject of Army investigation, and a reply made in the same way as with non-criminal formal complaints. That has the added advantage of ensuring that the Army is seen to take an interest, and increases the possibility of disciplinary action if the complaint is upheld.
John Rowe also discussed the need to implement as soon as possible a code for stop-and-search guidelines. Such a code would provide an indication to the police, armed forces and ordinary citizens of what is acceptable in practice. It would prove a useful yardstick against which to measure behaviour when a complaint is lodged, and the reasonableness of a complaint. That should also be supported.
The Secretary of State mentioned a number of matters on which he had had discussions, following the list produced by the Chief Constable. On the question of the plucked hair, I presume that the hair would be plucked from the scalp. The power already exists to take a swab from the mouth for DNA purposes. Plucking a hair or taking a swab from the mouth would still be seen as an assault, but plucking a hair would probably be easier than taking a swab from the mouth. I presume that the intention is that the hair would be plucked from the scalp. The circumstances under which that was done would have to be considered carefully, but I regard that as a reasonable matter to go ahead.
I also understand the Secretary of State's difficulty about the intercepting of telecommunications, which could make available evidence that would lead to more successful prosecutions. The problem is, under what circumstances, controls and patterns would such evidence be taken; how could it be rendered credible; and what would the protections be? Would it be done by judicial warrant or the fiat of the Secretary of State? A political decision in such circumstances would not be acceptable. Equally, however, I understand why the Secretary of State is reluctant to see the prerogative powers cut back.
275 Although I would have to refer the matter to my hon. Friends, I believe that the attaining of evidence in that manner, subject to proper judicial control, would lead to successful prosecutions, as we have seen against the Mafia in the United States. I would not lose much sleep about it, but I want proper controls over it. It should not be left to political decisions by the Secretary of State. Just cause for curtailing such evidence would have to be given before a judicial officer.
On the right to silence and the possession and assumption of knowledge, the Secretary of State has taken the right decisions.
The Government must recognise that we cannot continue to maintain the same policing methods in a divided society which, every year, grows even more geographically segregated. We understand the difficulties in recruiting greater numbers of the minority community to the RUC. However, more than 90 per cent. of the membership of the police force is drawn from one community. That serious imbalance cannot be ignored.
The Government's recent discussion paper, "Policing in the Community", does not tackle the problems of community acceptability and recruitment. Instead of examining alternative structures, it merely proposes the further centralisation of power. The discussion paper seeks to maintain the fiction that community policy and security policing are separate.
Northern Ireland needs the whole community to feel that the police force belongs to all of them. While we understand that this objective is intrinsically linked to the political situation and to the question of a political settlement, it should nevertheless still be the immediate aim of the Government to consider ways in which to improve the general acceptability of the police force.
The Labour party recognises the need for an effective anti-terrorist policy. We ourselves have instituted a major independent research project to re-evaluate current anti-terrorist methods, to develop alternative proposals and to look also at European experience. The failure to develop a comprehensive and successful counter-subversion policy has led to a steady erosion of civil liberties, and meanwhile has left the citizens of this country exposed to terrorist attack.
The terrorist denies the most basic of human rights: the citizen's right to life. But that does not free the Government of their responsibility to maintain certain democratic principles, objectives and rights.
We will vote against the order tonight, because it has failed to be an effective mechanism to defeat the paramilitary; because the power of internment remains on the statute books; and because of the Government's constant failure to accept the recommendations of their own advisers to improve the protection of the citizen and remove propaganda material from the mouths of terrorists. Until the Government repeal the power of internment and introduce reforms and safeguards recommended by their own hand-picked advisers, the Labour party is unable to support the renewal of the order.
§ Mr. Andrew Hunter (Basingstoke)
It is therapeutic to listen to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) because whatever inner doubts one might have about one's own position are instantly dispelled by his tortuous and fallacious reasoning.
I shall be brief. The substantive arguments relating to the emergency provisions have been well rehearsed over the years. Many of us who hope to catch your eye in the debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will speak from well-entrenched and well-defined positions. I am no exception to that rule. I strongly support the renewal of the emergency provisions.
The underlying issue—the key to the debate—is of course the tension which exists between, on the one hand, championing civil liberties and, on the other hand, taking effective measures in the fight against terrorism. I do not deny for one moment that both the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 and the emergency provisions do curtail civil rights, but I believe that the greatest threat to civil liberties actually comes from terrorism and not from these measures. Those who seek to undermine or change the decision of the ballot box by bullet or bomb are themselves committing a greater offence against civil liberties than are these measures.
It is a paradox that unless we take appropriate measures against terrorism we are ourselves undermining cherished civil liberties. In the context of terrorism, we have to requalify civil liberties. Nor should we overlook the fact that the emergency provisions go hand in hand with the search for a political settlement, and we undermine the chances of achieving a political settlement if we do not take effective measures against terrorism.
I shall discipline myself and select just three points from Mr. Rowe's report. Many others can be made and other hon. Members will no doubt make them. The first takes up a substantial part of the speech by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North. I welcome the retention of the detention orders in part IV, section 34—I refer particularly to page 30, chapter 7 of the report. This is, we know, an emotive and divisive issue. My personal views have not changed, and I do not apologise for holding them. I believe that there are circumstances—select, special circumstances—in which detention is justified and should be used. I therefore welcome Mr. Rowe's conclusion.
§ Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)
I thank the hon. Member for giving way. Will he share with us at least one, perhaps two, of the select circumstances in which he would favour detention?
§ Mr. Hunter
The hon. Gentleman is excessively enthusiastic. Had he borne with me for a moment or so, I would have discussed that point.
Before I gave way a little prematurely, I was saying that I therefore welcome the conclusion drawn by Mr. Rowe that the detention powers should remain part of the Act. I acknowledge that internment is an infringement of civil liberties. I acknowledge that when it was practised in the 1970s probably some people were unjustly detained. I acknowledge that in the 1970s it was a boost to terrorism, but I believe that that was yesterday's argument and that the times have significantly changed.
Internment today would be regarded as fairer than was the case in the 1970s, for the simple reason that it would strike across the community divide. That is a substantial 277 difference from the practice of internment 20 years or so ago. Both the political climate and public thinking have substantially changed. Whereas then we were dealing with an immediate backlog of an abuse of civil liberties, that is hardly the case today. Public thinking has changed, and so has the quality of intelligence. For those reasons, I am suspicious of the familiar arguments against internment.
In answer to the question that the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) asked me, I believe that the most justifiable circumstances for the use of internment are when heightened terrorist activity is a reality or is anticipated on strong intelligence grounds. Selective internment at that point, aimed at key people known in the terrorist movements, can totally undermine and destroy terrorist cells' command and communication structures and incapacitate terrorist activity. In those circumstances, used selectively and sensitively, I believe that internment can work.
§ Mr. Brazier
Does my hon. Friend agree that powers of that type, although they are not called internment powers, already exist in almost every other country in Europe and have been used successfully—holding people for months on end—in dealing with organisations such as the Red Brigade?
§ Mr. Hunter
I do not have the intimate knowledge that my hon. Friend has. From my reading about the ways in which other countries have tackled terrorist problems, I know that there has never been a success without the legal powers to detain the leading players in the game of terrorism.
I shall accelerate to the second theme that I want to take up from Mr. Rowe's report. I am prompted to that by a statement on page 19, paragraph 3, under the heading,General remarks on Part I of the Act",where Mr. Rowe writes:
It was said to me that there should be … no further use of hearsay against the defendant on material points or substantial and contentious matters.Leading questions always need to be asked about our battle against Irish terrorism. Are the resources available? Are the legal powers that we need there? Is our intelligence gathering all that it should be? Is the co-operation with the Republic all that it should be? The question of legal powers is pertinent to the emergency powers that we are discussing.
I listened with great interest to the comments of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State. I must confess that I followed closely the arguments that emanated especially from the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and which were reflected in the amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill tabled by the hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble). Those amendments and the surrounding debate concentrated on whether hearsay and electronically gathered evidence should be admitted. There was the question whether the right to silence should be redefined. There was the question of providing greater protection for witnesses and the emotive issue of encouraging super-grass evidence. I do not think that the debate is closed. Many more people will give their ideas in the next few months and I know that my hon. Friends share the thought that perhaps those should be considered closely before we come to a conclusion.
There is to be a major review of the emergency provisions next year. I hope that those will be among the many issues to be considered in that review. If the feeling 278 of the RUC is that these additional powers should be enshrined in law, we as politicians would have to have very good reasons for failing to go along with the proposal. The RUC is, after all, in the front line of the fight against Irish terrorism.
My last point refers to paragraph 3 on page 35 of Mr. Rowe's report. This concerns the conclusion that interviews should be recorded on audio tape. I remain cynical about that conclusion. I have listened carefully to the arguments put forward by the RUC. Mr. Rowe summarises at great length the case that he encountered. What interests me about his thesis is that his counter-argument singularly fails to convince. Mr. Rowe quarrels with the fact that all that the RUC feared would happen if tape recording were introduced is the current reality. Surely that fact is an argument for looking at existing practices rather than for jumping to the conclusion that what is needed is the recording of interviews.
The emergency provisions have an essential and integral part to play in the battle against terrorism. They therefore supplement the search for political agreement. The annual report unequivocally recommends their renewal, and that is precisely what we should do today.
§ Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)
I find it very difficult to take part in this debate. In the past seven days, there have been four murders in my constituency. Two of those murdered were neighbours of mine—young students shot in a taxi station in Armagh—one was a young soldier in the town of Keady, and the fourth was a young soldier in the city of Armagh. Having experienced such a thing so recently, and having known it so often over the past 25 years, one is torn emotionally, intellectually and, indeed, politically when one addresses these issues. It would be very difficult for people like me to adopt the decided views that can be taken by people living in England, Scotland or Wales.
In these circumstances, it is all the more essential that we examine, scrutinise and, indeed, criticise the legislation. The more terrorism strikes at the heart of a community, the more that community's legislators should defend those things in the system of law and in society that we all hold dear. The last thing we should be doing is facilitating terrorists by allowing them to create a legal wasteland, to force us to bend the law as is done in this legislation and to produce in us knee-jerk reactions that often have more to do with personal prejudices than with the defeat of terrorism.
That is why it is absolutely essential that the House of Commons should ensure that it does not approach the matter as being, in the words of the Evening Standard of 10 March 1993,a litmus test for sound anti-terrorist credentials.I do not for one moment believe that there is an hon. Member in the House who does not have sound anti-terrorist credentials. Whatever our views, they should be treated on that basis.
Our views should also be treated in a wider way because we are at a crucial time in the life of the north of Ireland. Put simply, is it possible that we can persuade the terrorist groups to stop their violence, become part of the political process and create peace or is it not? The answer to that question very much determines views on what may or may not be contained in this legislation or any future legislation. 279 For that reason, it is essential that we examine, scrutinise, and, with courage, question that which we feel should be questioned.
There is no point in our participating in a three-hour debate once a year, to be ritualistic, say safe things and make comments that might please other people. We should put the spotlight on the subject: where there is a deviation and derogation from the normal law, we must always shine the spotlight. For that reason, I would not regard today's debate as ritualistic, although it may sometimes sound ritualistic, but as an essential part of the process.
We should ask broad general questions. We may not be able to answer some of them and we may have divided views on some of them. The first question that I would ask is this: can the implementation of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973 and the prevention of terrorism Act be fully and properly accommodated within a civilised society without doing irreparable damage? Secondly, is damage done to the process of law that has been seen in this country to have resulted in unsound and unsatisfactory convictions—of which I think there have been six over this period?
On the subject of damage to the process of justice itself, are the highest standards and integrity of law and the process of justice being eroded in any way by the implementation of the legislation? We have only to look at some of the events that have taken place over the years in what are now called holding centres and what used to be called interrogation centres, at some of the incidents that have happened on the streets and at the incidents that involve loss of life. If we consider the issue in those terms, we must say that there is a danger that damage is done to the process of justice.
Is damage done to the body politic itself? Is there an erosion of the proper conviction that the law, the courts, the police and the legislators are there to protect every person's right as well as to punish him or her when he or she transgresses? Is the legislation there to protect, rather than diminish, those rights? After all, legislation exists to defend the innocent, not to make him or her subject to detention for the purpose of intelligence gathering, as has happened in the past—a subject to which I shall refer later. Is damage done to society as a whole? Are the highest standards, which we should all cherish, being damaged in the process of trying to arrive at a political solution through the legal process?
We should ask those questions and we should keep asking them, because what is at stake is not just the future elimination or defeat of terrorism in Northern Ireland or what happens to the Provisional IRA or the so-called loyalist paramilitary groups. At stake are the principles and the highest standards that have been built up painstakingly over centuries. Once those are diminished, it is difficult to re-establish and reinstate them. Every time the law is diminished, society is diminished, and every time society is diminished, so is every person within it. Against that background, no matter whom it might hurt, we should examine the legislation and the laws within it very carefully indeed.
I shall concentrate on about four issues and intend to speak briefly. The first issue concerns the delays in remand. I quote the Secretary of State in a previous debate on 8 June 1993: 280We set demanding targets of 38 weeks from first remand to committal, and 14 weeks from committal to arraignment. The scheme began on 1 July 1992. The agencies involved in the prosecution process have embarked on the operation with great vigour.We should examine that vigour and commitment. Mr. Rowe told us in his report that the average time for remand in 1992 was 57 weeks. Notwithstanding the Secretary of State's statement about the vigour that would operate in relation to remand, the average time of remand went up to 65 weeks in 1993. That is not great evidence of the vigour that I should like to see exercised by those agencies of the law that have responsibility for remand.
Let us remind ourselves that remand involves taking away a person's freedom before that person is found guilty. Let us have more vigour. Let us subject the Secretary of State's statement to scrutiny and ask the Secretary of State to ask the agencies why that vigour has not in effect shown the results that he anticipated in the time limits to which he referred.
§ Mr. Peter Robinson (Belfast, East)
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I strongly support his view that there have been undue delays in bringing cases to court. Many people wait more than two years before they get their day in court and some never get to court as their cases are dropped before they get that far. Nobody could approve of that. Has the hon. Gentleman considered the two possibilities in the Rowe report—that in one set of circumstances the accused would be allowed bail after a given period or, alternatively, that the case would fall altogether? Which of those two does the hon. Gentleman support?
§ Mr. Mallon
I have to be honest and say neither. If I wanted to make a debating point, I would have chosen one of them, but the Secretary of State committed himself one year ago when he said:A more satisfactory assessment will be possible in the light of a full year's operation of the scheme. Then we shall able to address Lord Colville's proposal for a new scheme of time limits, statutory or otherwise, to cover all those on remand and custody for the indictable offences. That is an important factor.I agree. Surely the only satisfactory solution is not to have a statutory time limit—which I believe applies in Scotland—or an arbitrary limit whereby after a given period the person is released irrespective of what evidence may have been accumulated, but an arrangement whereby the agencies adhere to the time limit set down by the Secretary of State, which was 38 weeks plus 14.
My second question relates to recording interviews. Lord Colville recommended video recording. Mr. Rowe recommends audio recording; he says that he has no view on video recording. I trust that he will develop a view before the substantive report is made for the five-year review. The Chief Constable opposes it. He seems to be fairly lonely on that issue, because I have not met anyone in the system who does not see the merits of it.
In his report, Mr. Rowe refers to the amount of compensation for allegations of ill treatment and so on in interrogation centres. He makes the point that some of it may be finding its way into the coffers of paramilitary groups. But surely one of the sound ways of preventing that is to have the type of video recording about which he has no view. It is there as a protection not just for the individual but for the police themselves against allegations that might be unfounded and is worth serious consideration.
281 The Law Reform Commission of Canada, when studying that point in 1985–87, said:Aside from providing a new tool for the investigative process, the Police, Crown Counsel and defence lawyers viewed the introduction of this technology as an improvement of the administration of justice. An accurate video tape record of police interviews largely eliminates court room conflicts over what was said and how an accused was treated. The new technology, therefore, helps police in gathering evidence at the same time as it adds protection to the rights of the accused.I think that that opinion, substantiated by Lord Colville and supported by Mr. Rowe, is one which the Secretary of State should look at again. We must question Sir Hugh Annesley's view on that, because it is not enough to say that he is head of the police and that he is the person ultimately responsible. His views must be challenged as well. If we are to get to the root of much of the apprehension that exists about holding centres, that surely is one of the ways to do it. That is the way in which to protect the police as well as the person in custody.
I refer now to the intimidation of lawyers which is cropping up. Some instances have been referred to me in my work. I cite the case of a law firm in Newry called Fitzsimons, Mallon and—I have forgotten the other name. The Mallon is no relation. I shall supply the rest of the name to the Secretary of State. Some of the most scurrilous allegations are alleged to have been made by interrogating police officers to clients of that firm. It has made its complaint to the police. I ask the Secretary of State to ensure that that does not happen within the legal process, because if such allegations are continually made, there is something in the air, and responsible solicitors will not contact my office or anybody else's unless they are fairly sure of their ground—fairly sure that the allegation is not a concoction, and has, indeed, been made.
My third point is about compensation for those whose businesses or homes might be affected by the security forces. A year ago, the Secretary of State gave a commitment:I shall see whether it is possible to devise and implement a fair and practicable scheme which would help them, but that cannot be done quickly."—[Official Report, 8 June 1993; Vol. 226, c. 155–60.]A year has elapsed since the Secretary of State gave that commitment. It is right and proper that we should ask him whether he has been able to do so, and in a way that will show results.
There is a bakery in my constituency which goes back to 1903 and which is now surrounded by a police base. It needs to expand but cannot, for the simple reason that the police have taken the land that it would need to do so for use as a heliport. Its entrance is now guarded by the Army, and its lorries must go through it as though they were going into a police state. That bakery has been offered no compensation for the fact that it cannot run its business properly. In the light of the commitment that he made last year, I ask the Secretary of State to examine that case; indeed, there are many cases throughout the north of Ireland in which compensation is justified.
My final point relates to detention for up to seven days. I have considerable reservations about that, mainly because of something that was said in the House of Commons in October 1983 by the then Home Secretary. Leon Brittan said that the power of detention had actedfirst, as a deterrent to persons other than the people who have been detained".A Home Secretary was telling us that it was right that 282 people should be detained in order to deter others, through a process which is a derogation from the European convention on human rights. Secondly, the power hadenabled information to be obtained that was of direct value in the battle against terrorism, even though it did not lead to action against the people concerned."—[Official Report, 24 October 1983; Vol. 47, c. 55–6.]That is what a Home Secretary said, on the Floor of the House of Commons, about the use of powers of detention under the PTA and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991.
Surely we have a right to be concerned when such a motivation is put on record on the Floor of the House as a justifiable reason—two justifiable reasons—for the use of seven-day detention powers. In the cases that were specified, the detentions did not result from the activities of the people involved but were intended to act as a deterrent or to trawl for information.
I do not know whether that is still happening, but I am concerned about the figures. In 1993, 1,641 people were detained in Northern Ireland under the PTA; 379 were charged and 1,262 were released without charge. I know the difficulties faced by the police: I know that those involved in terrorism sometimes cannot be broken down, and may leave the police station after the relevant period with a smirk on their faces, knowing that they have avoided charges. I recognise the problem of a police officer who knows that the person sitting across the table either organised or carried out the most heinous crimes, and also knows that he must release that person after seven days.
Nevertheless, there is something wrong in those figures —something questionable. I do not know what it is, but I ask the Secretary of State—in the spirit in which I began—to subject them to as much scrutiny as possible. It would be intolerable if the legislation were used for the reasons given by the then Home Secretary.
I welcome this opportunity to deal with some of the points raised by the motion. I think that we should do this, and do it as honestly as we can. There is something that will survive IRA and so-called loyalist terrorism—the high standard that we have set ourselves in this country and in Ireland, which is worth protecting.
§ Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster)
Once again, we gather for what some consider a ritual debate on the Northern Ireland (Emergency and Prevention of Terrorism Provisions) (Continuance) Order. Since our last debate, violence and murder have not only continued unabated but increased dramatically. Therefore, it is appropriate for elected representatives in the House from both Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom to question why there is such a deplorable and deadly situation.
I read the morning view in a local newspaper, which said:Evil forces are at work in our community who have got to be confronted head on by the Government and by those tasked with law and order in our Province.Innocent people must be protected as they go about their normal business. The RUC and the army have got to switch the emphasis to providing proactive rather than reactive security … The troubles have plagued the people of Northern Ireland for 25 long years. There can never be an acceptable level of violence and even one more day of terror is a day too much for a people who have endured more than their share of suffering.I concur with those remarks. When one reads that, after 25 years of terrorism in our Province and in the United Kingdom, one fact is clear. It is beyond dispute that the 283 so-called and much-heralded peace policy purported to be the real answer to our ills has failed abysmally. The debate and the renewal of the Act are proof of that stubborn fact.
On 9 November, my hon. Friends presented proposals to the Prime Minister. During that meeting, the Prime Minister said that he was not rejecting those proposals, as many of them were in accordance with his own views. However, he said that he had a quicker and a more certain way in which to produce peace and a quicker way in which to bring an end to terrorism. That process was the one on which he had embarked with the Dublin Government. It was promised that the London-Dublin discussions would produce the peace prize for which every sane person yearned—and yearns. We were all assured by the Dublin Government that we would have peace by Christmas. The SDLP said that we would have peace within a week, then by Christmas, then by Easter, then after Easter. Now it is a prize well worth waiting for.
Of course, we must not forget that, in our constituencies—certainly in mine, for yesterday I again stood at the graveside of a young, gallant member of the security forces—the murder, the slaughter, the carnage and the torture of innocent people continues. In reality, the so-called peace process, in which many are engaged, is in my opinion and in the opinion of many in the Province nothing more or less than bogus and a deceit. The overtures to the IRA-Sinn Fein murderers have continued, while Northern Ireland has been savaged by terrorism.
Yesterday's murder of a young Shankill road man in the centre of the city of Belfast brings the total of murders this year to 32—three more than last year. Yet we are supposed to be in the midst of the peace process. We are supposed to be in a time of expressions of peace from the IRA-Sinn Fein. The galling fact is that, while innocent victims lie on the street, the media parade animals on our television screens talking about their efforts for peace. Yesterday, I stood once again in my constituency at the open grave of a young soldier, one who was 19 years of age. My eldest is 21. That soldier was only a boy, who was walking the streets of Armagh. That boy was taken and was not only done to death—not quickly because, even for them, that would have been too little—but was tortured in the most despicable way.
Can anyone here understand the pain of a mother or father whose son is murdered? Can anyone really understand the anguish in the heart of a mother when she realises that her son was taken and, while she was lying in her bed, was tortured and parts of his body rent asunder while the very people who parade on our television screens are, we are told, involved in a peace process? The Secretary of State tells us that, in a short while, if they lay down their weapons, we shall draw a line in the sand. Can anyone imagine what that does to a mother?
Let us bear in mind that, a year ago, the young boy of 19 walked down the same road that we walked along yesterday, carrying his brother in a coffin. His brother had been murdered by the same scum that murdered him. That is not all. Thirteen years ago, that boy's granny—an old woman—was blown to bits by the IRA so that family, who are my constituents, have lost a granny, a grandson of 22 and a boy of 19.
What was that young boy's crime? His crime was to put on the Queen's uniform. He wanted to protect the 284 law-abiding citizens of our community, Protestant and Roman Catholic. He wanted to provide a better life for them and believed that he had a duty to do something to ensure the safety of the people of the Province. It is a duty that some people criticise from their armchairs, but they themselves would never do anything to provide that protection for the community.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) said that the security forces were in fact representative of only one community in Northern Ireland. In all the years that he has been shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, he would have done well to have called, at the Dispatch Box, on members of the other community to join the security forces and protect the people, instead of using every opportunity to gut and cut asunder the efforts of brave and courageous young men and women who have joined the security forces and defended the right to life. I salute all members of our security forces for their bravery and courage.
It is all very well for hon. Members to sit here in these beautiful surroundings, on the green Benches of Westminster, but let me tell them where some of the boys whom I represent are. They are lying behind a ditch or walking the roads while the snow is on the ground, the hail beats down on them or the rain soaks them. They are certainly not doing it for the money because no one could say that ordinary soldier boys are overpaid. Those young lads operate not in the comfort of the House but along the border. They are in areas where to put on the uniform means danger, but not to put on the uniform means the surrender of law and order to the terrorists.
§ Dr. Joe Hendron (Belfast, West)
The hon. Gentleman used the word "scum". I totally agree with that description of the people who tortured the young soldier from Cookstown and brutally murdered him, and with the other strong language that the hon. Gentleman used. But would he also use the word "scum", as I certainly would, to described the so-called loyalist paramilitaries, who have also taken young people out and brutally tortured and murdered them?
§ Rev. William McCrea
I know exactly what it is not to sit away from terrorism, but to feel terrorism. No terrorism has any glory in it. There is nothing delightful about any terrorist and nothing courageous about terrorism. I know, because in our family we have experienced the reality of terrorism not once, not twice, not three times, but more often. I know what the reality and the curse of terrorism is.
Because I know what terrorism does, and I know about the blight of terrorism in the community, I believe that we need to take the actions that will destroy terrorists. We should not parade them on our television screens, as if in a matter of three months of decontamination they could be looked upon as something other than the terrorists that they are. I do not buy that argument when I think about Reggie and Nigel McCollum and the lady in Dungannon. I do not buy it when I think about young Fred Anthony, or about little Emma, who is fighting for her life at this moment.
After standing at the graveside yesterday I went to the home of Emma Anthony and sat with the family there. Does the House really know what that is like? She is a little girl of three. If the look or the picture of a wee three-year-old child does not touch the heart of the terrorists, does anybody think that, because of a few 285 appeals to them, a few pats on the back, the idea that they will become gentlemen if they just lay down their weapons, they will turn from their vile and evil deeds?
I believe that if the people in IRA-Sinn Fein are thinking anything at the present moment it is how they can advance their position politically. It is not that they are sick of terrorism, or of the vile deeds that they have done. It is not that they are ready to repent for what they have done within the community. No, they are behaving in a certain way because they believe that they have a better chance than ever before, and that they will get rewards for their deeds—because they have been able to bomb their way to a place at the table.
Like every other Member of the House from Northern Ireland, I entered the House not through the bomb or the bullet but through the ballot box, and through honouring the ballot box. Yet what have we seen? We have seen the sickening appearance of the Government dealing through the back door, in my opinion contemptibly and disgracefully, in betrayal of the gallant men and women who down through the years have made the ultimate sacrifice in the battle against terrorism.
What do we find? We find that Government agencies and Government people are negotiating with, talking to, and in cahoots with, the terrorists behind the scenes. On 29 November, after many months and years, our Government were found to be involved in that process, through certain contacts with the IRA. The revelations came shortly after our Prime Minister said at the Dispatch Box that his stomach would turn at the thought of negotiating with the IRA-Sinn Fein.
To find out that those contacts were already taking place on the very day on which that statement was made, proved to the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland the utter duplicity of British Government policy towards the Province. The declaration is a declaration addressed to the IRA-Sinn Fein. No consideration was given to the long-suffering, heartbroken majority of our Province.
The other day, I heard some folks say that the same offer is on the table for the loyalist terrorists. I must challenge that because I remember a meeting that I held with the Prime Minister and my colleagues, the leader and the deputy leader of my party. At that meeting, I asked the Prime Minister why the Secretary of State, in the speeches that he was making throughout the Province, said that if the IRA-Sinn Fein turned its back or put down its weapons, there would be a place at the table for it. Why did he not mention the UVF, the UFF, the UDA and the Red Hand commandos? I found the answer interesting. The Prime Minister said that in discussions he had had with others, it was evident that the UVF, the UFF, the UDA and the Red Hand commandos would not have a mandate from the electorate but that Sinn Fein did, so it could not be treated in the same way.
The Prime Minister also said that loyalist violence was only reactive, not proactive, and therefore it was believed and perceived that the Government had only to address the IRA terrorism and all other terrorism would cease. In other words, the Government had only to buy off the IRA—there was no need to buy off anyone else because the violence would automatically stop.
No credence is given to the concerns and alienation of the loyalist people until the statistics change. That is what is so sickening about it all. The only time that one is recognised and one is told that one can get the same treatment is if one starts to murder—if one starts to put up 286 one's statistics and beats the other boys at the same game. In other words, the only thing that one needs is proof—the only time that people will listen is when one murders. That is the law of the jungle, but it is not the law of the United Kingdom and it is not the law of democracy. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) should not be laughing.
§ Mr. Mallon
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I do not find it funny at all; I find it terribly pathetic.
§ Rev. William McCrea
I would wipe the sneer off the hon. Gentleman's face. I can assure the House that while the murder was in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, he was not standing with me yesterday in Sandholes; nor did he visit the family of the young boy who was brutally done to death.
It is evident from the fact that, after all these years, we are still talking about emergency and prevention of terrorism provisions that we are in an unholy mess and tragedy. The price that the IRA demands may be offered by the Government, but that will not decide the matter because they are not in a position to make the offer. The people of Northern Ireland will have the final say. The feeling of frustration and alienation within the majority community has been dismissed by many as rabble rousing, yet I wonder what it will take before the truth of the situation is faced.
The other day, Mr. Adair was lifted in the Shankill road. I shall not enter into his case because it is sub judice. We were told that that was the first time that such legislation had been used and the essence of the charge is that he is supposed to have been directing terrorism. What about Mr. Martin McGuinness from Londonderry? What about the mountain of evidence produced on two television programmes against him for directing terrorism? He has not been lifted under the legislation—oh no, that will do for the Protestants and the loyalists—but we know why. I asked in the House why Mr. McGuinness was not lifted immediately after Roger Cook's two television programmes. Let us remember that Mr. Cook was very courageous even to put them together. The Government could not let Mr. McGuinness be lifted because he was fronting their IRA-Sinn Fein connection and doing deals in back rooms, so they could not touch him. Is that fair execution of justice? It seems rather strange.
The Government introduced legislation on incitement to hatred. It is interesting that it was used only against another loyalist. Would anyone suggest that many speeches by IRA members—whether wearing hoods in Carrickmore or standing on a stage to be photographed—were an incitement to hatred although the legislation was not used? There is a feeling of alienation within the community. The position of democratically elected politicians, especially in the Unionist community, is being undermined and demeaned and murderers are being elevated.
I trust that the House will pass this legislation. It is a sad reality that we need it after all these years because we ought to have defeated the enemy. Unfortunately, if one talks to such people in back rooms, behind doors, one cannot be expected to defeat them. I and my colleagues will join hon. Members who support the legislation in the Lobby, but I must say that I long for peace with all my heart. My constituency, like others, has been ravaged by terrorism, but there is still a belief that one can buy off terrorists.
§ Sir Patrick Mayhew
I have been reflecting on what the hon. Gentleman said about prosecution and the lack of it. Will he tell the House openly whether he is asserting that the Chief Constable of the RUC and the Director of Public Prosecutions are politically motivated in the exercise of their functions and are other than independent?
§ Rev. William McCrea
With the greatest respect, Madam Speaker, I suggest that you are in command of this debate, not the Secretary of State.
As far as prosecutions are concerned, the question is still unanswered. Who is guilty? I do not have the information. Will the Secretary of State tell the House why Martin McGuinness is not behind bars tonight? Will the Secretary of State tell the House why Martin McGuinness could not be arrested after two damning—I use the word properly—programmes with a wealth of evidence? Why was he not before a court? I had a constituent from Mid-Ulster—a loyalist—and Roger Cook did one programme in which he was involved. My constituent was lifted the morning after the programme, interviewed and sentenced to imprisonment in Magilligan prison.
If it was right—the Secretary of State will be able to answer the question far better than I—that there has been hokery-pokery, no one in the Province will believe the Secretary of State. No one believes that Martin McGuinness should not at least have been arrested after such evidence was gathered. After talking to members of his own Northern Ireland Office, I can tell the Secretary of State that that is believed there as well.
I suppose that it is difficult to say that because there might be a rampage to find out who speaks to me from either the Secretary of State's private office or the Northern Ireland Office. The Government would more concerned about that than they would be about finding out whether McGuinness was responsible for murders and for directing terrorism in the Province.
§ Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)
Is not the point which the hon. Gentleman is making not so much whether we should question the competence of the Chief Constable or of the Director of Public Prosecutions, but whether McGuinness should not at least have been arrested and questioned after the two programmes? Should not questions have come from the Northern Ireland Office as to why McGuinness, with a wealth of evidence against him, was not arrested and questioned?
§ Rev. William McCrea
I accept whole-heartedly what the hon. Gentleman said. I raised the question in the House during an earlier debate and I am still waiting for a reply—it may be lost in the post. Perhaps I can look forward to the Secretary of State telling me why, after two major programmes which went out across the airwaves, Martin McGuinness has not been questioned. If one considered the question, one would have to say, "How could he have been questioned when he was the front man for the terrorists in their negotiations through the back door with the Government?"
§ Mr. Peter Robinson
Is not it the case that, arising from the programmes, Roger Cook's team presented the security 288 forces with the evidence, including sworn affidavits from people who were witnesses to Martin McGuinness's involvement in terrorism? The security forces therefore had the evidence in their possession and, at the very least, should have brought him in to question him.
§ Rev. William McCrea
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, with which I whole-heartedly concur. I know that the Secretary of State has also heard my hon. Friend's remarks and the evidence that he has presented to the House and that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will keep that in his thoughts when he is replying to specific questions. I can assure the House that the Province waits with interest to find out what the Secretary of State's response is.
I conclude my remarks by saying that, for the people I represent, the violence, murders and destruction go on. Can anyone understand what it is to visit their homes? They ask, "When will it end?" Unfortunately, under the present policy of the Government, the end is certainly not in sight.
§ Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)
Few hon. Members can match the passion or direct experience of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea) and I do not intend to try. However, even if one does not bring to these matters that same passion and experience, that does not excuse the House from considering carefully the terms of the proposal before us and, in a responsible way, reaching a proper conclusion on whether the provisions should be renewed yet again for 12 months.
If there is a Division, I shall advise my right hon and hon. Friends to vote for the order. We shall not do so with great enthusiasm but rather because we regard it as a regrettable necessity. Indeed, we shall vote for the order with considerable reservations because we profoundly believe that the rights, protections and civil liberties of all United Kingdom citizens should be the same wherever they live and that only in the most unusual circumstances can a departure from those principles be justified.
On the evidence that we have heard in the debate so far, quite apart from our own knowledge, I must conclude that the circumstances still obtaining in Northern Ireland justify renewing the order once again. Indeed, they justify powers that, in other circumstances, might be regarded as draconian. Those powers should not be maintained for an instant longer than is necessary. They should be grudgingly tolerated and we should work, with all the power available to us, to withdraw them at the earliest possible date, for they represent a serious incursion into the rights that citizens throughout the United Kingdom are entitled to expect.
The powers continue to be justified only because the cancer of terrorism still lies at the heart of life in Northern Ireland. They will not eliminate that cancer; at best, they may contain it. Unless and until a political settlement that commands the support of the whole community of Northern Ireland is achieved, we are likely to continue to face the kind of terrorist outrages that so affect our judgment of these issues.
As always, I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). I was sorry to hear him say yet again that, because of the existence of the power of internment and certain defects in the legislation, he and his party are not disposed to support the order. I am surprised because I 289 should have thought that, at a time when the joint declaration has been published and the clarification sought has been provided, a unilateral act by the British Parliament to withdraw those powers would appear singularly inappropriate.
I assume that, in pressing the motion to a Division, the hon. Gentleman hopes—perhaps even expects—that the Government will be defeated. The logic of that position is that, were he to win the vote, those parts of the order that he supports and acknowledges are necessary for the security forces would be denied to the security forces after 16 June this year. I have great respect for the hon. Gentleman, but it is an unusual position to adopt in the light of the present circumstances and the logical consequences of his position.
§ Mr. McNamara
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman believe that internment and detention without due process of law undermine the legitimacy of the state in whose name they are perpetrated?
§ Mr. Campbell
Certainly, were it to be in use. The point to which the hon. Gentleman fails to give sufficient weight is that, although the power exists, it is not being implemented. Were the power to be implemented, my judgment is that its use would be counter-productive. It might give rise to the kind of response from certain parts of the community in Northern Ireland that the hon. Gentleman predicts.
I return to the question of logic. When the Division is called, if the hon. Gentleman succeeds in what he sets out to do he will deny to the security forces those powers that he says they are entitled to have. That seems to me to be quite a difficult position to sustain, particularly at this time.
I make a number of criticisms of the existing arrangements. In relation to Diplock courts, I believe that there is a compelling argument to have not a single judge, but three judges. I believe that insufficient use has been made of section 27—the charge of directing terrorism—to which some reference has been made already. I think that efforts should be made to ensure that the power is utilised impartially and more effectively.
With regard to the confiscation of the proceeds of terrorist-related funding, it seems to me that the House might well be entitled to ask the Secretary of State what has happened in the past 12 months and whether he is satisfied that the existing powers are adequate to deal with the problem.
§ Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)
If there are all these reservations about the order, how will we amend it? We have an order on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. If it is offensive in some way, we could reject it and ask the Government to produce a fresh order before the date that it is required.
§ Mr. Campbell
I doubt whether the last part of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion is feasible in the time scale available. He is quite right to say that it is an unamendable order. If his argument is that we should legislate for Northern Ireland in a different manner, he will find ready support from me.
I return to the point I made earlier. At this time, is it to be seriously argued in the Chamber that the House should say to the security forces that they cannot have powers that it is unanimously accepted on both sides of the House are powers they ought to have?
290 My view is rather different from the Secretary of State's on the question of taping interviews. This is not a matter upon which one ranges one individual against another and says, "Take your pick". Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, Lord Colville and Mr. Rowe have taken a different view on the question whether interviews should be either audio or video taped. Clearly, the Chief Constable's view carries great weight, but sometimes those who stand back and who are not directly in the front line of these matters are in a position to have a more objective and informed view.
There are a number of other aspects on which, if time permitted, I might express criticisms of the legislation. However, I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House—some with more direct knowledge of these matters than I—wish to speak. At the outset of my remarks I described the order as a regrettable necessity. On that footing, I believe that it is entitled to the support of the House.
§ Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)
As some hon. Members have said, this is a rather ritual occasion which does not really provide an adequate substitute for proper scrutiny by the House of the operation of the legislation. I still believe that at some point we shall have to consider how to scrutinise the legislation in a better way.
While it is a ritual occasion, it still has its surprises. I must record that I had at least one surprise this evening when—if I heard correctly, and I hope that I did—the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) suddenly said something at the end of his speech with which I profoundly agreed, and something that I had never heard from him before in any debate. He seemed to announce that his party had commissioned a study of the effectiveness of the legislation, apparently with a view to ensuring that it is more effective. He said that, in so doing, particular regard would be given to the experience in Europe. I am delighted to hear that the Labour party is to undertake a serious study to find out how we can have effective anti-terrorist legislation, with the emphasis on the word "effective". I especially commend the study of the experience in Europe because the Government have much to learn about the reasons for success in Europe in contrast with their own comparative failure.
I wish to discuss some of those reforms, drawing partly on the European experience, which ought to be considered. I shall not refer to the matter at length as I have had occasion to refer to those reforms before, but I shall briefly mention some of them.
The hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) referred to proposals about hearsay. An excellent speech on the general subject of evidence was made in the other place by Lord Hailsham, the former Lord Chancellor and I believe that he said all that has to be said. I should especially like the Minister of State, the right hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler), to read that speech in view of his reply to me the last time we debated that subject.
On the suggestion made by the Chief Constable to extend the powers of authorised investigators, the Secretary of State said that he was reluctant to make—indeed, would not make—so important a change in our criminal justice system. I think that I quote him correctly. But the change has already been made: the right to silence has been abrogated with regard to certain offences. If that 291 is too important a change to make, does the Secretary of State propose to repeal the provision already in the Act that we are discussing today?
The Act abrogates the right to silence in relation to certain offences. We are suggesting that we extend the abrogation not to less serious offences, but to more serious ones. If it is not right to extend it to the more serious offence of directing a terrorist organisation, why do we have it in relation to the financing of terrorism? The exception has already been made, the precedent has been established and there is no logic in the Secretary of State's refusal to follow that precedent.
On the other hand, I commend the Secretary of State for keeping a sympathetic mind with regard to "wire-tap evidence", as we have used that phrase. The issue is more than simply that of intercepted telephone communication; it relates to electronic surveillance generally. I noticed that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North had a generally favourable approach to it. Electronic surveillance —eavesdropping—is being used and the resulting evidence is being brought before the court. Indeed, that was one of the major sources of the evidence presented to the court to enable the remand to take place in the one case of directing terrorist organisations under section 27 that was heard by the courts in Northern Ireland as recently as last week. Apparently, some of the evidence is of conversations tape-recorded unbeknown to the suspect, the tape recordings being made by the police officers to whom he was speaking, by means of microphones concealed about their person. Electronic surveillance is therefore admissible without the battery of safeguards that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North suggested. We need to reconsider that more seriously.
A general welcome has been given to the report of Mr. Rowe. Especially as I was critical of his report on the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, it is only right that I should welcome his report and say that those of my colleagues who have had the opportunity to study it in the short time in which it has been available were impressed by it. I disagree, however, with Mr. Rowe's proposals on the audiotaping of police interviews.
I acknowledge that there is a potential saving here and the potential saving is significant with regard to obviating the need for the voire dire, which is a substantial argument, but Mr. Rowe misses the point. He says that under the present system it is possible for terrorist organisations to ascertain what has been said in an interview. As he points out, that could happen because the interviewee co-operates with the terrorist organisation during a debriefing and also because a copy of the formal record of the interview can be obtained. That is correct. If the interviewee co-operates with the terrorist organisation, a certain amount of information can be obtained.
One of the grounds for police worry is that apparently the police regularly obtain information from suspects who are anxious to conceal that co-operation with the police from the terrorist organisation. I understand that such information is regularly given on the basis that it is not written down and not incorporated in the formal record of the interview. The minute one brings audiotaping into the picture, one loses that co-operation. The police say—and I have no reason to disbelieve them—that this is an important source of intelligence information. It must 292 therefore be given considerable weight. I find more sympathy for the view expressed by Lord Colville in earlier reports on the question of having video but not audio taping. As I have said on previous occasions, I would be prepared to look in that direction if I had to make a choice for an experiment.
Section 27 of the Act deals with the offence of directing terrorist organisations. This was a major innovation of the Act of 1991. Since then, we have complained about the failure to use the provision. As has been said, one charge has at last been brought. I shall not comment on the particular case, which is now a matter for the courts, save to say that we have no complaint about the bringing of the charge.What we do complain about, and what other hon. Members have complained about during the debate, is the apparent immunity enjoyed by the godfathers of republican terrorism.
I do not intend to cover again ground that was covered by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea), but essentially the hon. Gentleman is right. Regrettably, the Secretary of State, in his intervention during the hon. Gentleman's speech, did nothing to allay people's suspicions, particularly with regard to Mr. Martin McGuinness. It is ironic that only about 10 days ago—the right hon. and learned Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—the Secretary of State himself, in a speech in Dublin, described Mr. McGuinness as a leading member of the IRA. In this context, the real question is: why has there been no follow-up, no inquiry? If this man is a leading member of the IRA, as the Secretary of State himself says, he is guilty not only of membership but of directing a terrorist organisation. I do not know anybody who doubts that. The only possible legitimate reason for failing to bring a case against McGuinness is lack of evidence, but why should there be no questioning? Why should there be no attempt to find out and to follow up the material to which the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster has referred?
Then there is Mr. McGuinness's close colleague—Mr. Adams himself. The Sunday Times story last week shows clearly that Mr. Adams's close associates in his advice centres in west Belfast were key elements in the recent wave of so-called punishment shootings against people allegedly involved in drugs. One of the persons injured on that occasion said that Mr. Adams's bodyguard was the man who decided whether or not someone would be shot. Has there been any follow-up on that?
In an intervention, the Secretary of State asked the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster whether he was suggesting that the Chief Constable and the Director of Public Prosecutions are not impartial in respect of these matters. I am disturbed by a Northern Ireland press report from what I regard as an authoritative source. This report said that, following the "Cook Report", the RUC in Londonderry wanted to interview Mr. McGuinness, but that instructions came, through special branch, from higher places—the implication was that the source was political and not the Chief Constable—that he was not to be touched. That is a matter on which I should dearly love to hear the Secretary of State speak frankly.
Then there are the godfathers in Belfast, who are all well known to journalists, to the police and to members of the public. There is the commander of the IRA in Belfast, Mr. Brian Gillen; there is the IRA's Belfast intelligence officer, one of the Finnucane brothers; there is the gentleman who probably planned the Shankill road bomb, one Eddie Copeland. Why have there been no inquiries into those 293 people? Why have they not been questioned? Who grants such immunity? A national newspaper suggested recently that the Minister of State has told the RUC to concentrate on preventing specific incidents and to give lower priority to the targeting of IRA godfathers. Will the Minister of State comment on that in his reply?
The comparative failure to charge under section 27 reminds one of the comparative failure with regard to terrorist finances—a matter mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth). There have been no cases. Have any accounts been seized? Has any money been recovered? The authorities have claimed that terrorist financing has been disrupted. Here I am reminded of words used in another context: where is the beef? Where is the money? Where are the proceeds? What has been seized? We need some information about that.
There is a matter that touches on the criticism in Her Majesty's inspectorate's report on the RUC. I refer to the suggestion that there was an absence of policing strategy aimed at putting terrorist criminals behind bars. Too much of the present activity appears to be intelligence oriented—aimed at spoiling terrorist operations rather than eliminating or, as the present Home Secretary said, extirpating the terrorist organisations. The reluctance to charge with regard to funding and the reluctance to use intelligence information in court points in that direction—if so, it is wrong and should be changed.
As well as being even handed in the pursuit of terrorists, the so-called "peace process"—I hope that that appears in inverted commas—must also be even handed. Many of us regard that process as being essentially bogus, for it involves making political concessions to terrorism. Not only would that be morally reprehensible; it would not be successful, for to reward terrorism would only encourage more terrorism. It would be even worse to appear to reward one terrorist faction while ignoring its rivals.
The Downing street declaration focuses essentially on the interests of one section of the community and deals only with the interests of the greater number of the community incidentally and by implication. As a consequence, it has presented itself in a lopsided manner to the public in Northern Ireland. That has accelerated what my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) described in a statement on Friday as the race to achieve a balance of terror.
In that statement, my right hon. Friend said that interpretations of the declaration had missed a significant point in paragraph 10, which explains the consequences that would follow a cessation of terrorism. It draws no distinction between republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations: once a commitment to a permanent end to the use of, or support for, paramilitary violence is established and verified, any such organisation becomes eligible to enter exploratory discussions on how it can, in due course, be considered for participation in the democratic process.
It was on the basis of that reading of the declaration that my right hon. Friend felt entitled to demand an immediate halt to the race to achieve a balance of terror. I would appreciate it if the Minister, in his reply, would comment specifically on that matter, and on the construction advanced by my right hon. Friend. Failure to do so will be seen as endorsing the one-sided interpretation of the declaration and all that that entails. I would hope that the two Governments who set their hands to the declaration have thought the matter through. They have not said how 294 they would expect a one-sided approach to terrorism to work. Have they taken account of the possibility that one reason why republicans have not responded may be fear for their personal survival? I say that to emphasise the need for consistency.
In my view, those terrorists have not and will not respond positively. I say that because the declaration and the recent Northern Ireland Office statement stress that there will be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. That means that, whatever might be discussed, there will be no change in the fundamental constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom.
By acknowledging the principle of consent, the Irish Government have accepted that the views of the people of Northern Ireland are paramount, but there is still work to be done. The Irish Government have not yet put that principle into practice—that means publicly respecting the oft-repeated expression of the views of the people in favour of the Union. One cannot say that one respects people's views and, at the same time, advance proposals that run contrary to those expressed views. If one says that one accepts and respects those views, one must do so and carry that into practice. It is possible that one reason for the failure, so far, by the Irish Government to put that principle into practice is that Her Majesty's Government's endorsement of the Union has been so muted; that, too, must change.
There was one significant event in the corresponding debate last year—the contribution of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath). He made a powerful speech in which he called for a unified drive against terrorism throughout the United Kingdom, under the control of a single Cabinet Minister directly responsible to the Prime Minister. That view found considerable echo on these Benches. I am sorry to say that, so far, there has been no action and the anti-terrorist drive in the past year has had the same lack of success as in previous years. We should return to that suggestion.
The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup also said that the politics and the use of military force must go together—in other words, they must pull in the same direction. Currently, they lack coherence. The root cause of terrorism is the hope and fear that it can achieve change. Force exercised by authority, designed to defeat that by showing it, will not achieve change. Anti-terrorist force cannot succeed if the Government's policies hint at or promote the very change in question. The ambiguity must be removed. The use of police and military force and political measures must be aligned. By all means we can couple that with giving people the opportunity of joining the political process, but that must be done not on a false basis, but on the basis of an honest appreciation of the realities.
If we encourage people to enter politics, we must show that politics in Northern Ireland can work. That means having representative political institutions which can actually do something, in which all who want to can play a meaningful part, and we in the Ulster Unionist party have done so in the blueprint for stability. It is high time that that, too, was taken up by the Government and implemented.
§ Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne)
Tonight's debate is bound to be seen by many inside and outside the House in the context of the Downing street declaration. Some people will inevitably ask whether that declaration makes the order unnecessary. Others will ask whether the order will make the peace process more difficult. However, those are not the key questions. For me, the declaration is relevant tonight only in so far as it offers one possible route to a permanent end to violence. That and only that will make the order unnecessary.
I am totally persuaded that a permanent end to violence must come first and Labour's refusal to agree to the orders by voting against them tonight plays into the hands of terrorists and signals that violence can pay if one sticks at it long enough.
For me, the key questions when deciding how to vote tonight are not about the peace process or the theory of democracy but are quite simple: is terrorism currently continuing and will the order help to counter it? Nobody who follows the events in Northern Ireland, whether living there or from across the water, can be in any doubt at all that the answer to the first question, "Is terrorism continuing?" has to be an unequivocal yes. We have heard the statistics tonight. There have been 32 murders since the declaration was signed. That is more than in the same period last year before the declaration.
We are not only talking about murder: extortion, intimidation and maiming continue. The 32 deaths are simply the tip of the iceberg. Terrorism continues and we have to address it, whatever is happening in the peace process. I am persuaded that the answer to the second question, "Will the order help to counter terrorism?" is also yes. The Secretary of State set out the case earlier this evening. It fits with my knowledge and experience. I accept that the order is necessary and I will not repeat the arguments again at this time of night.
I am only too well aware that some people would dispute my conclusions. There are those within the Labour party who believe that such powers make violence worse and that the order would lead to the abuse of power. Worse still, there are even some people in the Labour party who believe that the orders turn us into terrorists as well. Year after year, those same Labour Members have voted against these orders. That is a complete and utter disgrace. I hope that they sleep soundly in their beds, because if I opposed the orders, I would feel that I was condoning murder, maiming and extortion.
I shall spend a moment answering each of what I consider to be bogus points. The first allegation that is made against people who say as I do and vote for the orders is that it will make violence worse. As I understand the affairs of Northern Ireland, it was not the orders that caused the violence; they came about as a response to it. If I understand anything, the violence has been going on for 25 years. Yet these particular powers date back just three years, and others for 16 years. It was only after trying for nine years without them that the House took action. I believe that that is the answer to the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), who said, "Beware of knee-jerks." Given the nine-year delay before taking those powers, I do not judge them to be remotely a knee-jerk reaction: they are the inevitable response to people who will not respect the rule of law and the discussions in this House.
§ Mr. Mallon
Would the hon. Gentleman like to re-examine what he said recently—that those who oppose the Bill condone murder and extortion? In the light of the responsible attitudes that have been shown down through the years from this side of the House, would he like to rethink that statement and reflect on the enormity of it?
§ Mr. Wilshire
I will always reconsider what the hon. Gentleman asks me to. I do not doubt or question for one moment his sincerity and views. Similarly, I hope that he will show me the respect of believing that what I say is what I believe. I will reconsider, but I very much doubt whether in the morning I will wish to rephrase what I said.
The second allegation is that the order will offer a cloak for further abuse of power. We are all well aware of the allegations that are made about the abuse of physical and legal power, and I see no need to repeat them here. But we must also all be aware that the Government have responded to those allegations by setting up the opportunities for people to complain, for investigations to be carried out and for public reports to be made. Earlier in the debate, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State responded to that process. He made announcements; he announced decisions. I believe that they will go a long way to reassuring the people who are prepared to consider such issues with an open and fair mind.
The third allegation is that the order makes us as bad as terrorists. It is all too easy to deliver lectures on the theory of democracy from the relative comfort of the House and the relative safety of the mainland, but I judge that psychopathic murderers, be they acting in the name of Catholicism, Protestantism or anything else, are not amenable to rational argument and democratic debate. It was not the state that recently murdered an elderly woman. It was not the state that recently maimed a three-year-old child. It was terrorists and terrorism. No lectures on democracy will wipe those facts from the history book.
At the outset, I rejected any attempt to put tonight's debate in the context of the Downing street declaration, but there is one context that I hope that the Government may be willing to think about and act on as quickly as possible. I believe that we could and should make the future renewal of these provisions part of a package that is designed to do not the one thing that happens at the moment, but two things. The first thing that it should do—as we have been doing each year and will, I hope, continue doing until terrorism is overcome—is make it clear that we in this House are determined to resist debate by semtex, and that we are determined to prevent change coming via the barrel of a gun. But I hope that the second part of a package for future debate will present an opportunity for democratic debate in a locally elected forum in Northern Ireland. I hope that the package will ensure that there is real and proper scope for change by peaceful, agreed consent.
I support the order—perhaps with some regret, but none the less willingly. I support the belief that terrorism must never be allowed to pay or be seen to pay, or be supported by any hon. Member, regardless of political persuasion. I would support proposals to allow the people of Northern Ireland to settle their own future, through democracy, in their own Province.
§ Dr. Joe Hendron (Belfast, West)
I did not intend to speak, especially after the excellent analysis of the legislation presented by my hon. Friend the Member for 297 Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon). I am prompted to do so by the speech of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea). He used powerful language to condemn the murder in Armagh city of a young soldier from Cookstown, and eloquently described the funeral and the effect on the family; he used the word "scum".
In an intervention—I thank the hon. Gentleman for allowing it—I said that I agreed: I, too, would use that word to describe the people who had committed the murder. I asked the hon. Gentleman whether he would also use the word to describe members of the loyalist community—the so-called loyalist paramilitaries of the UDA or the UVF. He did not answer my question. I am not criticising him, but I would have been happier if he had used the word in that context.
I am not in the numbers game, but I believe that more people have died as a result of violence in my constituency than in any other constituency in Northern Ireland—or, for that matter, in any other part of these islands. I am talking about people who have been murdered. We have heard a good deal of talk about Sinn Fein tonight; most of its leaders are within yards of my advice centre in west Belfast, as is the advice centre—I hesitate to use the term—of the Sinn Fein president, Mr. Adams.
Not very far away—just over the so-called peace line, but also in my constituency—are the hard men of the UDA and UVF. On both sides of that so-called peace line, there has been a frightening number of murders over the years. Unfortunately, I cannot give the exact number. The people who live there worry every day and every night about their families—their sons and daughters.
I, too, have stood beside the graves into which young people have been lowered, and have seen the tears of families—not only as a public representative, but as a medical practitioner in the area for many years.
I understand the position of the police, and have great sympathy for them. Policing a divided community is fraught with difficulty. However, I must make a couple of comments about the Castlereagh interrogation centre.
I deeply resent any action or legislation that in any way helps a paramilitary organisation, be it the IRA or the UDA. The vast majority of the police are doing their best in very difficult circumstances. But it is a fact that, over the years, people have been assaulted in the Castlereagh interrogation centre, or holding centre; I do not mind what it is called.
I take no pleasure from saying it, but many of my constituents have been assaulted over the years. Some may have been guilty of terrible crimes, but many were not. That is why I make my point about helping the godfathers of the paramilitary to exploit young people and bring them into their organisations.
Hon. Members will remember the Bennett report, produced some years ago, about people assaulted in Castlereagh. The last thing I want to do is undermine the police, but it must be said that in all those years not one policeman has been charged and found guilty of assault in Castlereagh. We are all aware of the number of cases that have been settled out of court.
Police and soldiers carry out searches every day of the week. Such searches are necessary—we all understand that. Very often, information is obtained in places such as Castlereagh. Sometimes, it is correct; but sometimes it is wrong. Often a young person under pressure will not give information about a paramilitary colleague. Instead, he will give information about some other family—he will name 298 some family who are not involved. As a result, police or soldiers will arrive at their house at 5 o'clock in the morning and a search will be carried out.
I understand that. But let me emphasise to the Secretary of State and the House that when such a mistake is made, it is simple for either a senior Army or a senior police person to call to see that family in the following few days to say sorry and to explain that the wrong information had been received. This has to do with the dignity of the family and of young people. Young people become easy prey to paramilitaries. Over the years, I have found that such situations, in which there is inevitable confrontation with the security forces, only lead to young people joining the IRA or the UDA. I am sure that the House will agree that that is what the paramilitary organisations want. They want confrontation with the security forces. That is the history of terrorist organisations around the world. It is important that the Government and those in charge of the security forces should be aware of that.
I totally support the comment of my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh about the intimidation of solicitors, but I would like to add one point that is a wee bit opposite to it. We all want law and order in Northern Ireland and we want the paramilitaries off our backs. However, as I have said many times over the years, it is unfortunate that the great legal profession in Northern Ireland, for which I have tremendous admiration—the Incorporated Law Society of Northern Ireland representing the solicitors and the Bar Association of Northern Ireland representing the barristers—has never on one occasion that I can recall over the past 20 or 25 years pointed to the harassment or to the beatings that have taken place in Castlereagh. Those organisations have never acknowledged it in any public way—it would have come out in various court cases—which I deeply regret.
I fully understand the great difficulties that the police have and it is fair to say that the people on the ground, including those in west Belfast, will support the police as long as they are seen to be supporting the people on the ground.
§ 11.2 pm
§ Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)
I have attended many debates on Northern Ireland over the past six years—probably as many as any other Back-Bench Member. In that time, I do not think that I have ever heard as impassioned a speech as that made by the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea). I have come to appreciate the problems faced by the Protestant community in Northern Ireland and the violence that is directed towards it. However, there was a very meaningful moment in the hon. Gentleman's speech when the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Dr. Hendron) intervened—a moment to which the hon. Member for Belfast, West referred. He asked the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster to respond in a similar way to the activities of the UFF and the UVF as to those of the IRA. We did not hear such a response.
Although I expect members of the Ulster Unionist parties to stress IRA violence and members of the SDLP to stress the violence of the UFF and UVF, I also expect all hon. Members to stress in their speeches that they condemn all the violence equally. I hope that our attitude is that we are opposed to violence from any avenue—from any sectarian force or any force involved in the state—and that we must seek to stop it together. That is more important 299 than the measure that we are discussing or where we stand in relation to the prevention of terrorism provisions and their extension, whether we are for or against them. Arguments can be made for either case, but, whatever our attitude to the provisions, we should condemn utterly the people involved in violent and sectarian activity, from whichever side it comes. I hope that the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster will do just that so that the passion that he expressed in cases relevant to his own community becomes more broadly based. I would also ask representatives of the SDLP to do likewise.
§ 11.4 pm
§ Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)
I have listened to almost the entire debate, except when I made a brief visit to the toilet. I listened in particular to the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire), whom I have known for many years and whom I respect. I hope that on reflection, in the cool of the morning, he will feel it necessary to withdraw or at least to amend some of his comments which, I believe, were directed either at the Social Democratic and Labour party or at myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). I shall deal with that matter in a moment.
I wish that we did not have to renew the prevention of terrorism Act and the emergency provisions year after year. I look around the Chamber and I think that, apart from the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux), only my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North and I were in the House 21 years ago when the legislation was passed.
§ Mr. Stott
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. Let us say that not many of us were here at that time. In any event, we have witnessed the renewal ever since.
I have listened carefully to the speeches made in the debate and, as is now traditional, we heard the Government recite their standard justification for the emergency powers, despite the fact that the legislation has patently failed to suppress terrorist activity in Northern Ireland.
The hon. Member for Spelthorne in particular implied that the Labour party's opposition to the renewal of the provisions was evidence that we are soft on terrorism. That is a gross misrepresentation of the truth, and I refute it. It is fair to say that all parties and all hon. Members are opposed to paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland. The very nature of the campaign to seek political ends through violence must be abhorrent to any democrats. To suggest that the Labour party in any way condones unspeakable acts of violence is to make a cheap political point of an issue that is too important to be reduced to such a level.
The Labour party is united in condemnation of all acts of terrorism, from whatever quarter they come. We do not disagree with the Government that terrorists need to be defeated and brought to justice, but we disagree on the method by which that objective is achieved. That is perfectly legitimate. Conservatives may not approve, but surely they cannot deny that we have a right to examine what the Government are proposing.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North, I support and commend the work of the security services, the judiciary and the prison service, 300 representatives of all of whom my hon. Friend and I have met and will continue to meet. They deserve our support for doing their job in a dangerous and stressful environment.
In a democracy, the duty of the Government is to protect the civil rights of their citizens. If those rights are to be infringed or suspended, there must be overriding and compelling cause.
We accept that there may be a need for emergency powers to counteract the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland. However, we believe that the powers in the emergency provisions Acts weaken the core principles on which civilised society is based. That in itself is of assistance to the terrorists in their evil campaign of violence.
Regrettably, we must continue to oppose the legislation while the power of internment remains on the statute book. In spite of what the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) said in his thoughtful contribution, the power of the Executive to imprison without charge or trial is an affront to democratic principles. It places the Executive above the rule of law, and undermines the criminal justice system—the very system that the terrorists are waging a campaign to defeat.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North outlined in detail why the Labour party favours the introduction of video and audio taping of interrogations in the holding centres. As the Government's own adviser has now argued, mechanisms can be established to limit the disclosure of such tapes so as to protect both the detainee and any sensitive information. The introduction of those safeguards in the holding centres would protect the security services from false allegations by detainees, and would immeasurably improve community relations. The safeguard of audio taping terrorist suspects is already in place here in Great Britain, and the Government have still failed to provide a reasonable justification for their refusal to introduce similar safeguards in Northern Ireland.
After listening to the contributions to the debate, and having further considered the report by Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, I tell the House that if the Government again refuse to introduce audio and video recordings, suspicion in Northern Ireland will be compounded. That is all the more important because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) has already explained, regrettably the security forces do not have the support of the whole community in Northern Ireland. In order to build up trust and confidence in the forces of law and order and in the judiciary, justice must not only be seen to be done but be seen inevitably to be done.
The is why the Labour party believes that mechanisms to hold members of the security services properly accountable, too, are vital. No one must appear to be above the law. We support the calls by the Independent Commission for Police Complaints for its powers of investigation to be strengthened, to enforce its credibility and effectiveness. Clearly, as has already been said, the reason why so few complaints are upheld against the police and the Army needs to be further investigated. Reforms such as those advocated by David Hewitt and the Independent Commission for Police Complaints need to be considered as a matter of urgency by the Secretary of State.
The Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973 was passed quickly through Parliament 21 years ago as a temporary measure in extreme circumstances. The very fact that it is still on the statute book is damning evidence 301 of the ineffectiveness of the powers within it. I can tell the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), who challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North a little earlier, that the Labour party has for some time been calling on the Government to join us in developing a more coherent and effective counter-terrorist policy, with due regard to the basic civil rights of the citizens of this country. Thus far, the Government have refused to countenance such a review.
Rightly, the Downing street joint declaration has been mentioned. It is my view and that of my party—certainly it was the view of my late lamented leader, John Smith —that the declaration is to be welcomed. Indeed, it is the only game in town as a starter for the peace process. It is regrettable that Sinn Fein has not responded more positively to the clarified Downing street declaration.
It is also regrettable that the DUP and its leader have made this an issue in the European elections. The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) is stomping around the Province saying that a vote for him is a vote against the joint declaration. On television, when he left Downing street he said that he would be back on 10 June with a mandate from the people of Northern Ireland because he is standing in the election against the Downing street declaration. He is making it an issue.
§ Mr. Stott
No, I will not give way; I do not have time.
If that is the attitude of the hon. Member for Antrim, North, I suggest that he look at page 24 of the Labour party European election manifesto where we clearly state our support for the Government's join declaration. Every Labour candidate who stands in the election will be standing on the manifesto. Labour candidates in the rest of the United Kingdom will get millions of votes for standing on our manifesto which expressly supports the joint statement.
§ Mr. Stott
At the previous election, the leader of the DUP polled 160,110 votes; the Labour candidates polled 6 million votes. We will probably do even better than that; we will probably get up to 8 million votes. If the DUP wants a referendum on the joint statement, the Labour party will give them one.
§ Mr. Peter Robinson
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us how many votes the Labour party got in Northern Ireland in the last election? Does the issue of consent mean anything? Is the Labour party looking for the consent of the people of Northern Ireland? How much consent will his party get in Northern Ireland at the election?
§ Mr. Stott
The hon. Gentleman knows that the British Labour party does not organise in Northern Ireland, and he knows the reasons why we do not do so. The hon. Gentleman and his party cannot have it both ways. He claims his loyalty and his Britishness. The British people will have their say on 9 June, and they will vote for candidates who support the joint declaration. [Interruption.] That certainly livened up the debate.
For the reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North and I have given, it is 302 regrettable—I say this sincerely—that we cannot find a consensus in the House on these issues, and therefore we will reluctantly vote against the order tonight.
§ The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Sir John Wheeler)
I shall forgo the pleasure of a discourse about the relative merits of the manifestos for the forthcoming European elections and concentrate on the provisions before the House.
Tonight, the House has had an opportunity to give its full and open consideration to the powers in place to continue the fight against terrorists from both sides in Northern Ireland. I agree with the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) and other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate that, sadly, these powers remain necessary. They will be used resolutely for so long, but only so long, as terrorism persists. They are kept under review and are subject to the annual review process, which we have been debating tonight.
This year, our debate has been informed by the published reports of three independent and eminent figures. All three are welcome and objective reports. They will be studied with care. That such reports are available is a testament to the Government's determination that our security policy and its implementation should be as open as possible.
It is essential that those not involved in pursuing their aims by killing people should have nothing to fear. It is important that they should have confidence in the processes involved in defeating terrorism.
The nine Back-Bench Members who have spoken this evening raised many valuable points and I shall seek to touch on as many as I can in my remaining time. I welcome the support of the hon. Member for Wigan for the joint declaration. At least there is unity in the House about the overwhelming desire for peace in Northern Ireland and an end to the killing.
The hon Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara), raised the question of codes of practice. I remind him that statutory codes of practice dealing with civil and criminal proceedings governing the detention, treatment, questioning and identification of terrorist suspects in police custody came into effect on 1 January this year.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has also decided to introduce, under sections 61 and 62, a code of practice to cover the police and armed forces' powers of stop, search and seizure under part II of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991. A draft code is in preparation.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North gave as his chief reason for urging that the Opposition should vote against annual renewal the fact that he opposed the continued part played by detention in the 1991 Act. The making of this order has no effect on its availability, which can continue to be activated by separate order unless and until principal legislation removes it from the Act. To justify opposing this order by saying that Opposition Members are against detention is disingenuous nonsense and simply does not wash. When the time comes, I am sure that hon. Members will be clear about that and will have no difficulty in supporting the order.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North also referred to video recording of people interviewed in the 303 holding centres. It is not a question of what the Chief Constable wants. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State and I have to make very careful judgments. We have to weigh up all the issues. On some occasions, we disagree with what the Chief Constable wants. Earlier tonight, my right hon. and learned Friend announced that some of the Chief Constable's proposals for the review of the law were not acceptable and gave reasons.
On the question of people detained for interview in holding centres, my right hon. and learned Friend and I are convinced that for the time being—we keep the matter under review—there would be grave repercussions for the fight against terrorism if tapes of any kind were to find their way into the legal system. Those in custody would know it and would be fearful of the consequences of disobeying the instructions of their terrorist organisations not to co-operate with the police. That important consideration must weigh heavily with the House.
We have heard from many hon. Members about the horror and evil of terrorism in Northern Ireland and the indiscriminate killing there. It would be a serious error of judgment were we to disregard the level of that violence and the advice which the Chief Constable gives to my right hon. and learned Friend as his principal security adviser.
§ Mr. McNamara
What is different in principle between audio recordings in Paddington Green police station and those in Castlereagh police station for people accused of terrorist offences?
§ Sir John Wheeler
I can help the hon. Gentleman with that. I am glad to learn that he has visited Castlereagh holding centre. It is important that hon. Members who are concerned with the issues should be able to see for themselves what goes on in that centre. There is no mystery about the operation of that centre or about the work of the RUC.
I suspect that the hon. Gentleman has not yet had the time to visit Paddington Green police station in my constituency—which I do regularly—and discuss that very point with the police officers responsible for that establishment. The two police stations deal with totally different terrorist situations. People in Great Britain are not being murdered by terrorist gangs because of the information which they give to police. People in Northern Ireland are liable to be murdered by terrorist gangs.
That it is the principal reason why, for the time being, the advice that my right hon. and learned Friend and I are resolved to accept is that we should continue with the present arrangements for the safety of the people who are subject to that interview process.
§ Mr. Trimble
I wish merely to remind the right hon. Gentleman that he has only two minutes left. I posed a very important question to him concerning the interpretation of paragraph 10 of the joint declaration which he must deal with.
§ Sir John Wheeler
The hon. Gentleman did indeed raise that very important question which I shall come to at once in view of the time. I can confirm that for our part we stand by paragraph 10 of the joint declaration which calls for 304a permanent end to the use of, or support for, paramilitary violence. They"—that is, the British and Irish Governments—
confirm that, in these circumstances, democratically mandated parties which establish a commitment to exclusively peaceful methods and which have shown that they abide by the democratic process are free to participate fully in democratic politics and to join in dialogue in due course between the Governments and the political parties on the way ahead.I confirm to the hon. Gentleman the point which he seeks.
§ Sir John Wheeler
I shall not give way, as I have but a minute left.
The terrorists are a small and unrepresentative minority of the people in Northern Ireland. They are abhorred by the overwhelming majority, both within Northern Ireland and further afield. They have nothing to say. They will not win. It is our duty, and one which we will not shirk in the defeat of terrorism—
§ It being three hours after the motion was entered upon, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to order [19 May]:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 257, Noes 154.307
|Division No. 258]||[11.28 pm|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Carrington, Matthew|
|Alexander, Richard||Carttiss, Michael|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Cash, William|
|Allason, Rupert (Tortay)||Clappison, James|
|Alton, David||Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey|
|Amess, David||Coe, Sebastian|
|Ancram, Michael||Colvin, Michael|
|Arbuthnot, James||Congdon, David|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Conway, Derek|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)|
|Ashby, David||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Atkins, Robert||Couchman, James|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Cran, James|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Davies, Quentin (Stamford)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Baldry, Tony||Day, Stephen|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)||Devlin, Tim|
|Batiste, Spencer||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Beggs, Roy||Dover, Den|
|Bellingham, Henry||Duncan, Alan|
|Bendall, Vivian||Duncan-Smith, Iain|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Dunn, Bob|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Elletson, Harold|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)|
|Booth, Hartley||Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)|
|Boswell, Tim||Faber, David|
|Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)||Fabricant, Michael|
|Bowden, Andrew||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Bowis, John||Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Fishburn, Dudley|
|Brazier, Julian||Forman, Nigel|
|Bright, Graham||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Forth, Eric|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Foster, Don (Bath)|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)|
|Burns, Simon||Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)|
|Burt, Alistair||Freeman, Rt Hon Roger|
|Butler, Peter||French, Douglas|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Gale, Roger|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)||Gallie, Phil|
|Gardiner, Sir George||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian|
|Garnier, Edward||Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick|
|Gillan, Cheryl||Merchant, Piers|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Mills, Iain|
|Gorst, John||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Moate, Sir Roger|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Hague, William||Moss, Malcolm|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Hargreaves, Andrew||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Harris, David||Norris, Steve|
|Hawkins, Nick||Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley|
|Hawksley, Warren||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Hayes, Jerry||Paice, James|
|Heald, Oliver||Patnick, Irvine|
|Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Pawsey, James|
|Hendry, Charles||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hill, James (Southampton Test)||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Horam, John||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)||Rendel, David|
|Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)||Richards, Rod|
|Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)||Riddick, Graham|
|Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)||Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)|
|Hunter, Andrew||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|Jack, Michael||Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Ross, William (E Londonderry)|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)|
|Jessel, Toby||Ryder, Rt Hon Richard|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Sackville, Tom|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)||Sims, Roger|
|Key, Robert||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Kilfedder, Sir James||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Speed, Sir Keith|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Knapman, Roger||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Spring, Richard|
|Knox, Sir David||Sproat, Iain|
|Kynoch, George (Kincardine)||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Lang, Rt Hon Ian||Steen, Anthony|
|Lawrence, Sir Ivan||Stephen, Michael|
|Legg, Barry||Streeter, Gary|
|Leigh, Edward||Sweeney, Walter|
|Lennox-Boyd, Mark||Sykes, John|
|Lightbown, David||Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)|
|Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)||Taylor, John M. (Solihull)|
|Lord, Michael||Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)|
|Luff, Peter||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Lynne, Ms Liz||Thomason, Roy|
|McCrea, Rev William||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|MacKay, Andrew||Thornton, Sir Malcolm|
|Maclean, David||Thurnham, Peter|
|Maclennan, Robert||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)|
|McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick||Tredinnick, David|
|Maddock, Mrs Diana||Trend, Michael|
|Maginnis, Ken||Trimble, David|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Trotter, Neville|
|Major, Rt Hon John||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Malone, Gerald||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Mans, Keith||Viggers, Peter|
|Marland, Paul||Walden, George|
|Marlow, Tony||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Wallace, James|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Waller, Gary|
|Mates, Michael||Ward, John|
|Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John||Wood, Timothy|
|Whitney, Ray||Yeo, Tim|
|Whittingdale, John||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Wilkinson, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Wilshire, David||Mr. Sydney Chapman and|
|Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)||Mr. Bowen Wells.|
|Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'fld)|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Hanson, David|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Hardy, Peter|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov?try NE)||Hendron, Dr Joe|
|Allen, Graham||Heppell, John|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Hill, Keith (Streatham)|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Hinchliffe, David|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Home Robertson, John|
|Barnes, Harry||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Barron, Kevin||Hoyle, Doug|
|Battle, John||Hutton, John|
|Bayley, Hugh||Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret||Jamieson, David|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)|
|Bennett, Andrew F.||Jowell, Tessa|
|Benton, Joe||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)|
|Berry, Roger||Lewis, Terry|
|Betts, Clive||Livingstone, Ken|
|Blunkett, David||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Boateng, Paul||Loyden, Eddie|
|Boyes, Roland||McAllion, John|
|Bradley, Keith||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||McCartney, Ian|
|Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Macdonald, Calum|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)||McFall, John|
|Burden, Richard||McGrady, Eddie|
|Byers, Stephen||McKelvey, William|
|Callaghan, Jim||Mackinlay, Andrew|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||McMaster, Gordon|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||McNamara, Kevin|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||McWilliam, John|
|Clapham, Michael||Madden, Max|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Mahon, Alice|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Mallon, Seamus|
|Clelland, David||Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Michael, Alun|
|Cohen, Harry||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Milburn, Alan|
|Corbett, Robin||Miller, Andrew|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Corston, Ms Jean||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Morley, Elliot|
|Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)||Mullin, Chris|
|Dalyell, Tam||Murphy, Paul|
|Davidson, Ian||O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)|
|Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)||O'Brien, William (Normanton)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)||O'Hara, Edward|
|Dewar, Donald||Olner, William|
|Dixon, Don||O'Neill, Martin|
|Donohoe, Brian H.||Parry, Robert|
|Dowd, Jim||Patchett, Terry|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Pickthall, Colin|
|Eagle, Ms Angela||Pike, Peter L.|
|Enright, Derek||Pope, Greg|
|Etherington, Bill||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Foster, Rt Hon Derek||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)|
|Foulkes, George||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Fyfe, Maria||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Galbraith, Sam||Purchase, Ken|
|Galloway, George||Raynsford, Nick|
|Gerrard, Neil||Reid, Dr John|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Robertson, George (Hamilton)|
|Godsiff, Roger||Roche, Mrs. Barbara|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Gordon, Mildred||Ruddock, Joan|
|Graham, Thomas||Sheerman, Barry|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)||Simpson, Alan|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hall, Mike||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Soley, Clive||Winnick, David|
|Steinberg, Gerry||Wise, Audrey|
|Stevenson, George||Worthington, Tony|
|Stott, Roger||Wray, Jimmy|
|Strang, Dr. Gavin||Wright, Dr Tony|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Wareing, Robert N||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Watson, Mike||Mr. Eric Illsley and|
|Wicks, Malcolm||Mr. Alan Meale.|
|Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency and Prevention of Terrorism Provisions) (Continuance) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 20th April, be approved.