HL Deb 01 December 1971 vol 326 cc261-2

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what has been preventing them from counting the explosions and threats of explosions referred to in their Written Answer of November 11, and what steps they are prepared to take to enable Parliament and the public to be informed of the scale of phenomena of such vital public interest.]


My Lords, no statistics are collected by the Home Office about threats or warnings of explosions. These are frequent and are often hoaxes. As regards actual explosions, information in the form requested by the noble Lord is not readily available and the cost of instituting special inquiries to try to obtain it would be disproportionate.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for that Answer and for his courtesy in the covering letter to the Written Answer, may I ask him whether it is not possible at least to count these occurrences as they are mentioned in the Press, if nothing else? Has the noble Lord any information on the number of explosions, for example, attributable to either the I.R.A. or the Angry Brigade. In view of the recently publicised extra security precautions on Ministry of Defence armouries, can he give the House any information in that regard? Moreover, as it was anounced in the Press last week that the Prime Minister's father had to be given a police guard because of I.R.A. threats, may I ask how many other members of the public have been so threatened and have had to be given police protection?


My Lords, the Criminal Statistics cover persons proceeded against and convicted under a number of Acts of Parliament for offences both against the person and against property. But they do not give information as to the actual number of explosions. However, I can assure noble Lords that the police are active in gathering information as to the scale of occurrences of this kind, whether threatened or actual, and as to the identity and motives of those who may be responsible. We do not believe that it is in the public interest to disclose the police assessment of these threats.

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