HL Deb 30 March 1972 vol 329 cc1191-4

My Lords, I beg to move that the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Bill (of which I hope noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite now have copies) be read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a,—(Lord Windlesham.)


My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Bill, has consented to place Her Majesty's prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.


My Lords, have we been given an assurance that this Bill includes all the Amendments that your Lordships' House made to the No. 2 Bill? I think we ought formally to have it on the Record.


My Lords, I should like to come on to that in commenting on one other matter now that the Royal consent has been signified. We agreed under the procedure which followed discussions earlier in the week that it would not be necessary or desirable for your Lordships to repeat on the main Bill any stage which we had completed on the No. 2 Bill. What has happened now is that we had the full Second Reading debate on the No. 2 Bill yesterday, and this morning we have had a Committee stage on the No. 2 Bill, to which your Lordships made nine Amendments, six on the Marshalled List which was available overnight, and three on the supplementary photostat document which was made available when your Lordships arrived this morning. I can give the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition the assurance that he asks. I am informed that these nine changes (as I think I explained, in each instance identical Amendments were made in another place) are the only differences between the No. 2 Bill and the main Bill. Therefore, since we agreed not to have another Second Reading or another Committee stage, I think there is nothing further that I need say at this point.

On Question, Bill read 2a: Committee negatived.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Windlesham.)


My Lords, on the Second Reading of the No. 2 Bill the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, gave us some figures about the cost to this country of the administration of affairs in Northern Ireland. When I spoke I asked whether his figures were comprehensive, and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, shook his head, indicating that they were not. I ask whether we could have in a Statement a more detailed list of what sums had been spent, and how they had been spent; and I made the point that if in the course of time, at the end of the next 12 months, the British people had to make a decision about affairs there, this was the sort of relevant information that they would have to take into account. I therefore put that question to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor when he came to reply. When the noble and learned Lord replied to the debate, however, he said that he was not going to attempt to answer my figures. Of course I had not given figures, except those which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, had mentioned, and I was not giving those as my figures, but was asking the question as to whether we could have a Statement in the future. I am sure the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack was not intending to be discourteous, but he did rather cursorily dismiss my question. It is an important question, I think, and I should like therefore to have an assurance that we shall be given details of these sums of money which have been spent in this way.


My Lords, I certainly did not intend to be discourteous, but I think the problems are a little more difficult than the noble Lord quite appreciated. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and people draw unemployment benefit, for instance, secure social security payments and other payments of one kind and another simply by virtue of the fact that they are United Kingdom citizens. Some of that unemployment benefit is obviously due to the fact that buildings have been blown up and people take part in demonstrations and strikes. When I sent for the answer to the noble Lord's question I was given two figures: one was £150 million extra, and the other was £130 million ordinary expenditure. You cannot just add one to the other and say that that is the cost. It is extremely difficult, and I should think probably impossible, to disentangle what extra the United Kingdom Parliament has to pay because there has been a security problem in Northern Ireland. Therefore, in my reply I stuck to the figure given by my noble friend Lord Carrington in opening: that there is £150 million which you can identify, but there is a lot more that you cannot identify.


My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord. Before he sits down, perhaps I may ask him whether he has really appreciated the question that I put to him. I was not asking for a figure. I happen to know that it is a complicated matter. I asked the noble and learned Lord whether, if not a White Paper, a Statement would be issued, precisely because I understood that this was a complicated matter. I should have liked to hear the noble and learned Lord say that consideration would be given to the issue of a Statement in which these figures are set forth as clearly as possible.


My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right in saying that I have not appreciated that that was really what he was asking. Now that I know what he is really asking, I will certainly give the assurance for which he asks. I will convey what has been said by the noble Lord to those who will be responsible for issuing a White Paper, and I am sure that it will be given careful consideration.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble and learned Lord.

On Question, Bill read 3a.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. In doing so, I think this would be an appropriate moment to say how much I appreciate the generous comments that were made about the appointment of my right honourable friend Mr. Whitelaw as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from to-day, about Mr. Channon and Mr. Howell, who were mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, yesterday, and about my own appointment. We are all deeply conscious of the formidible and hazardous nature of our task, but it is a great encouragement to know of the good will and support of so many people in this House, in another place and, I think, in the country as a whole, at the beginning of what is going to be an extremely important and significant year for us all.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Windlesham.)

On Question, Bill passed.

House adjourned during pleasure

House resumed.

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