HL Deb 20 March 1980 vol 407 cc439-40

Lord BROCKWAY asked Her Majesty's Government:

What reply has been made to the Standing Commission on Human Rights, the relevant statutory body in Northern Ireland, which has proposed that:

(1) the power to detain without trial be ended;

(2) bail application be made easier; and

(3) the rules concerning the acceptance of confessions as evidence be redrafted to make clear that the police are prohibited from the use or threat of physical force.


The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights initially made these recommendations last year. They were repeated in the 5th Annual Report published this month. The Government's response to the commission's recommendations was outlined in another place by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during the debate on the renewal of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 in December last.

The Government take the view that:

(1) While executive detention would only ever be used as a last resort, it is for the moment impossible to assert that the security situation in the Province could never demand its use for the protection of the community;

(2) the Northern Ireland courts already take full account of the rights of the individual in judging bail applications, and the Government would not wish them to look any less closely before granting bail at such questions as the likelihood of interference with witnesses or of further terrorist offences being committed;

(3) the Northern Ireland Courts already use their discretion to exclude statements which they believe might have been obtained by the unlawful use or threat of violence, and the practical need for amendment of Section 8 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 cannot by itself justify an amending Bill.

House adjourned at nineteen minutes before eight o'clock.