HL Deb 07 May 1970 vol 310 cc318-20

3.53 p.m.


My Lords, with permission I should like now to answer the Private Notice Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. I shall answer it in identical terms to the reply given by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary to a similar Question in another place.

For some months there have been persistent reports of attempts to smuggle arms into Northern Ireland both by land and by sea. Our security forces maintain a constant vigilance in this matter and carry out operations at frequent intervals to prevent such smuggling. The House will know that the Regular Army, the Ulster Defence Regiment and the police are present in such strength that criminal activities of this sort cannot disturb the constitutional position.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord the Leader of the House for replying to my Question. His Answer appears to be a reassuring one; but may I ask him whether any recent successful attempts to smuggle arms into this part of the United Kingdom have been uncovered?


My Lords, I should like to join in thanking the noble Lord the Leader of the House for answering this Question. I think that probably this is an occasion when the less that is said the better, but may I just ask the noble Lord whether Her Majesty's Government approve the support for peaceful policies shown by the Prime Minister of Eire at this difficult time?


My Lords, I fear that I cannot answer the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. I do not myself know the answer; and I am not sure whether the information for which he asks is generally available. On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, I accept what he says: that there is nothing very much one can usefully say with regard to the position in the Irish Republic. We all welcomed the statement by the Dublin Government as outlined by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland last year (I think it was at Tralee), when he announced that the use of force in any circumstances is an unacceptable method of bringing about constitutional change. But obviously I would not wish to discuss the internal affairs of the Irish Republic.


My Lords, can the noble Lord say whether the new Ulster Defence Regiment has been taking part in recent security defence measures in Northern Ireland, and also to what extent it is now complete as regards recruitment?


Here again, my Lords, I cannot give any precise information. We have read reports that the Ulster Defence Regiment has come into being, and I do not doubt that it is already beginning to carry out its duties. But I am afraid that I cannot add anything more. If the noble Lord wishes for an up-to-date statement of the position, so that we know the state of recruitment and progress in the Ulster Defence Regiment, if he cares to put down a Question for another occasion I shall be happy to answer it.

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