HL Deb 20 July 1982 vol 433 cc772-4

4.2 p.m.

Lord Elton

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a Statement.

"I regret to have to inform the House that two bombs have exploded in London today.

"At 10.43 this morning in Hyde Park a bomb concealed in a car exploded as a mounted squadron of The Queen's Household Cavalry were passing on their way to guard duty. The latest information I have is that three soldiers were killed and a further number were injured, two of them very seriously. The explosion was large and created damage over a significant area. In all 22 people, including soldiers, were taken in ambulances to three hospitals. I understand that some more people were injured but not seriously enough to require hospital treatment. Several horses were killed directly or have had to be destroyed.

"Just before 1 p.m. a further bomb exploded under the bandstand south of the zoo in Regent's Park. The band of the Royal Green Jackets were playing at the time. The latest information I have is that six people were killed and 25 injured.

"I understand that the Provisional IRA have in a telephone call to the BBC in Belfast admitted responsibility for the explosion in Hyde Park.

"I know that I can speak for the whole House in expressing the deepest sympathy for the relatives of the victims of these despicable attacks."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

Lord Elystan-Morgan

My Lords, the House is deeply grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for repeating a Statement made in another place. We on these Benches join in expressing our revulsion at these cowardly and barbaric acts, which give a new and obscene twist to modern terrorism. There is no language strong enough to use in their condemnation. May we, too, express our deepest sympathy with the families of those who have lost their lives and with those who have suffered injury; as well, indeed, as expressing our gratitude and admiration for the courage and the competence of those who have taken part in rescue operations. May I also register our anxious hope that those who have perpetrated these deeds will soon be brought to answer for their outrages.

My Lords, I have four short questions to ask of the noble Lord the Minister. First, is there any information at this stage as to whether either or both the bombs concerned were detonated by remote control? Secondly, is it the case, as has indeed been reported on the wireless, that unexploded bombs have been found; and, if this is the case, has it been possible to dismantle them with a view to forensic examination? Thirdly, so far as the danger of car bombs is concerned, is the Minister satisfied that everything possible is done by vigorous and restrictive supervision of parking to protect the most obvious military targets in the London area? Lastly, whereas up to today there had been a lull of some nine months since the last series of similar outrages, is the Minister satisfied that everything possible is done and will be done to ensure the active co-operation and the commitment of the public at large to their most sensitive vigilance in so far as reporting any suspicious circumstance is concerned? Is there not a case for a further substantial campaign for public education?

Lord Hampton

My Lords, we, too, should like to thank the noble Lord the Minister for repeating this Statement about these tragic events. I am sure I speak for all my noble friends in recording shock, horror and sorrow: shock that such things can happen in this day and age, involving all those who live or work in London more or less closely; horror that men can seek to advance their ends by inflicting such suffering on their fellows, and horror that anyone should be so filled with hatred as to deceive himself that such action can be anything but counter-productive; and sorrow—profound sorrow—at the deaths and the injuries. We certainly join in extending our most sincere sympathy to those who have suffered, and to their relatives and friends. This is not a time for party politics. Security measures must once again be urgently reviewed, and I am sure they will be so reviewed. I think I can to advantage add no more.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I am grateful to the two noble Lords for their reception of this Statement. Your Lordships will understand that I have little further information that I can give at this stage, though it would seem from common sense clear that some sort of remote control was necessary for the explosions to take place. I would not wish to give away anything about defensive measures being taken, but I heartily endorse the acute need for the public to be aware of the necessity to spot anything suspicious, and not to be shy or think it is not a matter with which to trouble the police. If they see anything which makes them doubt, then they should report it.

Viscount Brookeborough

My Lords, I feel it would be inappropriate, coming from Northern Ireland and dealing with Northern Ireland matters today, if I did not express (and while I cannot claim to be a representative of Northern Ireland, I know I represent the views of the people of Northern Ireland) our absolute horror at what has happened. I would say to the Government, bearing in mind the words of the Minister of Defence, Mr. Collins, in which he expressed the view that it was unreasonable to expect security cooperation if there was not political co-operation, that they must pursue the terrorists in Dublin to the absolute maximum. But, my Lords, the people who have been killed have been in our Province and have defended us, so we feel very strongly about it indeed.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I think civilised people of every religion and in every country in the world will see that these deeds are not merely criminal but wicked.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he would not agree that this is the second attack on British servicemen in London within a relatively short space of time, and that this demonstrates the need for the various measures which have been taken by the present and previous Governments to deal with the situation, particularly the Prevention of Terrorism Act? May I ask the noble Lord whether he would agree that, although we have all, I think, been seriously concerned about developments in the last few days, this demonstrates the real peril so far as the people of this country are concerned, and, indeed, the need to support the police in the measures that they are taking to deal with it?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord that we need a framework of law within which the police force can, with the vigilant support of the public, counteract this despicable conduct.