HL Deb 02 July 1986 vol 477 cc951-64

7.34 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Lyell) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 22nd May be approved. [24th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the Motion to continue the powers in the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 I shall, as I usually do, be reviewing the security situation in Northern Ireland. At the same time I shall attempt to describe in general terms some further legislative proposals which the Government intend to pursue when proposing amendments to the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978.

Before I go into the detail of the security situation I shall forestall one question which I know will be asked by everyone who speaks in the debate; namely, when will my right honourable friend introduce a Bill to amend this Act? As your Lordships are aware, we are committed to bringing forward a Bill during the lifetime of this Parliament. I give your Lordships the undertaking that we shall fulfil that commitment.

I shall review the security situation briefly. So far in 1986 14 members of the security forces and 14 civilians have died as a result of the security situation in the Province. Each and every death is of course a matter of the deepest regret and concern. Your Lordships will know that over the past few months the homes of off-duty members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary have been subjected to contemptible and disgraceful attacks, associated with so-called loyalist protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

I am sure that all your Lordships will permit me to ask you to join me in condemning those Loyalist politicians who condone those attacks. Above all, I ask your Lordships to join those Loyalist politicians, of whom there were quite a few, who condemned those attacks. It was a matter of the deepest regret to learn of the disgraceful remarks made by the honourable Member for North Antrim after the Northern Ireland Assembly was dissolved on 23rd June this year. For those of your Lordships who may not have heard or seen those remarks I would point out that he said to the policemen present: Don't come crying to me when your homes are attacked".

Coming from someone with influence in Northern Ireland, such a remark can only be classified as an incitement to attacks on the Royal Ulster Constabulary to whom each and every one of us, let alone everyone in Northern Ireland, owes a profound debt of gratitude. I am sure that your Lordships would agree with me that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has steadfastly and, above all, impartially upheld the law in Northern Ireland for everyone. For it to be attacked and denigrated in that way saddens me. I believe that it saddens all friends of Northern Ireland in your Lordships' House and throughout the world. Such remarks do not and can not help the fight against terrorism which is the object of this order.

I pay tribute to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, in particular for the way in which it has conducted itself in recent months. I shall also take the opportunity to pay tribute to the armed forces for their tremendous support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Your Lordships know that significant extra military resources have been deployed in the Province to assist the Royal Ulster Constabulary to protect police stations and to mount additional patrols, while the men and women of the Ulster Defence Regiment continue to bear the brunt of front-line support for the Royal Ulster Constabulary over much of the Province.

I also wish to pay tribute to the dedication with which members of the prison service approach their duties. I am glad to have your Lordships' unstinting support in this. Those duties are made much more difficult by the nature of the prison population in Northern Ireland. Those prison officers have also been subjected to attacks from so-called Loyalists.

The threat from terrorism, particularly Republican terrorism, regrettably remains high. That threat takes different forms, including shooting attacks on the security forces, the use of home-made explosives, and of course mortar attacks against security force bases. The security forces are countering that threat by maintaining the most intensive rate of operations since 1981. May I make it crystal clear that we are committed to fight and defeat the evil of terrorism. That is done on the basis that our security policy pays strict observance to the law and makes the minimum possible derogation from it to ensure that terrorists are brought to face justice for their crimes. The brave and impartial way in which the judiciary go about their duties must be recognised. I am sure that I have the support of your Lordships in paying tribute to the judiciary.

It is against this background that we consider the emergency provisions Act. All of us will agree that it is the duty of your Lordships' House and of another place to ensure that any derogation from the ordinary law as we know it is fully justified. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State, his predecessors, and, indeed, all my colleagues, have carefully considered the review of the late Sir George Baker of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. We have also given careful consideration to the views of individuals and organisations, including the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, who have commented on Sir George's recommendations. We have accepted that there is scope for amending the Act. As I said earlier, we shall be introducing legislation for this purpose as soon as the parliamentary timetable permits, and certainly during the lifetime of this Parliament.

I should like to take your Lordships once again over the proposals that I have put before the House during the last two debates on orders to continue powers in this Act. I can perhaps elaborate a little more on the proposals this evening. The proposals included an increase in the Attorney-General's discretion to certify cases out of the scheduled mode of trial, the repeal of the police power of arrest in Section 11 of the Act which duplicates that of Section 12 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the recasting of Section 2(2) so that the onus in bail applications will be on the prosecution, the widening of Section 2(5) to include members of the RUC and RUC reserve, and making the temporary provisions of the Act renewable annually by Parliament and subject to a maximum life of five years without re-enactment. The first of these proposals has already been achieved—that is, the Attorney-General's discretion to certify cases out of the scheduled mode of trial.

In my past reviews of the Act I have said that my right honourable friend was considering the recommendation of Sir George Baker that magistrates should be able to remand persons accused of scheduled offences in custody for up to 28 days without consent so as to avoid what your Lordships will, I think, agree are wasteful and meaningless remand hearings. I can now tell your Lordships that my right honourable friend proposes to implement this recommendation. He also proposes that certain powers in the Act—the powers of entry and search in Section 11(2), the power of arrest without warrant in Sections 13 and 14, and the powers of entry and search in Section 15(2) and (3)—should be exercised only on the basis of reasonable suspicion.

In addition, we intend to propose provisions effectively replicating for Northern Ireland the provisions of Sections 56 and 58 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 governing the rights while in custody of suspects arrested under the emergency legislation to have someone informed of their arrest and to have access to a solicitor. We also intend to take the opportunity to introduce measures designed to inhibit the exploitation by para-military organisations of the private security industry in Northern Ireland. It is a matter of deep concern to us and I am sure to your Lordships and naturally to many in Northern Ireland that members of para-military organisations on both sides should be able to engage in what are often little more than glorified extortion rackets while they masquerade as private security companies. We propose what we see to be a relatively simple scheme in which private security companies would be required to seek a certificate from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State which could be denied if the Secretary of State were satisfied that its granting would further the aims of a para-military organisation whether directly or indirectly. That is how our minds are turning. I would be glad to take on board any points that your Lordships may care to raise during the debate.

There is one other matter which I am sure concerns your Lordships, particularly at this time of the year. I refer to the controversial issue of marches and parades. As your Lordships are aware, over the last year or so there have been some who have chosen to abuse the tremendous tradition in Northern Ireland for parades and marches. Some parades have been triumphalist and sectarian and, in many cases, parade organisers have shown no consideration for the rights and feelings of the residents of the areas in which they propose to march. As a result the chief constable of the RUC has had to reroute some parades. I shall have a little more to say about this. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State, on the advice of the chief constable, has banned others. Having said that, the extreme step of rerouting or even banning parades has been taken on very few occasions. The chief constable of the RUC, in his annual report for 1985, reported that of 1,897 Loyalist parades in the past year, only 15 were rerouted by the police and two were banned. I hope therefore that your Lordships will understand the scale of these measures that have had sadly to be taken either by my right honourable friend or by the chief constable requesting rerouting. I am sure that all of your Lordships will join me in asking everyone in Northern Ireland not to undertake any marches that are likely to increase tensions in the community and, above all, to be guided by the advice of the RUC.

This has been a brief review and, I hope, not repeti-tive. I should like finally to mention the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Your Lordships will appreciate the importance of the Border with the Republic and how its importance is emphasised in Republican terrorist activities. The Border aspect is what makes the work being done under the auspices of the Anglo-Irish Agreement on cross-Border security so crucially important. It would be foolish and, I think, unrealistic to expect overnight results. There may be cynics and there may be others who say that there have been no improvements in cross-Border security. Your Lordships will, I believe, agree that major moves of this nature take time. I believe that we have made a start on this very important process.

At the last meeting of the Anglo-Irish intergovernmental conference on 17th June the joint chairmen received a report from the chief constable of the RUC and the deputy commissioner of the Garda on measures agreed to improve arrangements for the exchange of information and to develop liaison structures. I am able to say that a significant amount of work has been done, and more will be done shortly. I would not want to inform your Lordships of what these measures are. All that I am able to say is that they offer the best prospect that there has ever been for improving co-operation between the two forces.

I would be happy—I mean this—if I could come before your Lordships to say that we do not need the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. I am afraid, however, that in the face of the threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland this is simply unrealistic, and I cannot do so. Against that background it would be irresponsible not to retain the important powers in the Act which make it possible for the security forces and the judicial system to deal effectively with terrorism in Northern Ireland. With that in mind I commend the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1979 (Continuance) (No. 2) Order 1986. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 22nd May be approved [24th Report from the Joint Committee. ] —(Lord Lyell.)

Lord Prys-Davies

My Lords, we are grateful to the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, for his short but comprehensive review of the security situation in Northern Ireland. Of course we join with the Minister in expressing our debt of gratitude to members of the RUC and the security forces, members of their families, members of the prison service and the judiciary.

The Minister has reminded us of the background against which the Government ask the House for the renewal of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. The essence of his case is that these provisions—abnormal though they are—are still necessary in order to maintain law and order in the Province. We know that the assassinations and the bombings continue. We know that members of the police force have been attacked and their homes petrol-bombed, and that they have been cold-shouldered by members of their own community. That is obviously very sad. The Minister also referred to the provocative parades. They are still on the streets of Northern Ireland, but relatively few have been rerouted.

In the debate on Monday night on the appropriation order, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Hampton, the Minister said that since 21st May no attacks had been recorded on policemen's homes. Will the Minister tell the House whether his use of the word "recorded" had a special significance? Is there a policy of not reporting each and every attack on policemen's homes which takes place? I noticed the reference to recorded number of attacks.

The task of upholding law and order during the months ahead is likely to be very difficult for the police and the security forces. The Minister has already referred to the utterances of the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. We have all read or listened to his appalling words. He warms to the theme of, hand-to-hand fighting in every street in Northern Ireland". Indeed, he has been moved to proclaim that, we are on the verge of civil war". His deputy reinforces this sinister message when he shouts, the hour of politics has passed". In this House we see how those words bear within them the seeds of conflict, violence and disaster. On top of those threats from the so-called Unionists there is some evidence—though I do not know how conclusive that evidence is—that Libya intends to resume financial aid to the Provisional IRA. In our view, given those internal and external threats the Government would be wrong to assume that the disgraceful speeches and the threats are meaningless rantings and ravings of bogus leaders. One fears that they may be more than that. Therefore the Government are right to ask the House for the renewal of the Act to ensure the continuance of civilised life in the Province.

That is not to say that we have no reservations about some of the provisions of the 1978 Act, or that we have no reservations about the administration of criminal justice in Northern Ireland. The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights has already complained of, the apparent lack of urgency and piecemeal approach to the development of emergency legislation". It is referring to the non-implementation of the Baker recommendations which were delivered to the department in 1984. But this evening the Minister has anticipated a great part of that criticism and we welcome the message that he has brought to the House.

I was particularly pleased that the powers of entry and search under some of the sections of the Act will henceforth be exercised on the basis of reasonable suspicion. But I am sure we would require more time before we would dare to comment on the detailed amendments which the Minister has outlined to the House. However, when we see the Act I am sure that it will in general be given support. It may well be that we shall also come up with our own amendments. I am particularly pleased that the Minister has given a commitment—I do not think that is too strong a word—that the amendments to the 1978 Act will be introduced within the lifetime of this Parliament.

Since we last debated the renewal of the 1978 Act there have been growing pressures in Northern Ireland to abolish supergrass trials. We know that a Private Bill has been introduced in the House of Commons to do away with such trials. I think that a number of Members of your Lordships' House have been approached over the past nine months by various people in Northern Ireland seeking our support for a similar Bill in your Lordships' House. Some of us adopted a cautious attitude to that approach. But there may be a new factor in the situation. As I understand it, there is growing cross-community support for the principles of the Bill which has been introduced in the other place. If that be so—that is my caveat—then I should have thought that the Government ought to have another look at the principle embodied in the Bill.

There is one other matter to which I want to refer; that is, the serious anxiety about the position in which Mr. Stalker finds himself. I am sure we would not be doing our duty in this House if we were not to draw the attention of the Government to the rumours about Mr. Stalker's position. There is anxiety about the manner of his suspension and the alleged grounds for his suspension, and about his removal from the leadership of the RUC inquiry. Indeed, whose decision was it that Mr. Stalker should be suspended and that Mr. Sampson should be invited to take over the RUC inquiry?

We urge the Government to produce the answers to the many questions which are being asked about this worrying affair. The rumours are circulating in the press. It is now high time that the Government got to the heart of those rumours. With those few comments, we give our support to the order.

8 p.m.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

My Lords, if I may agree with the last remarks of my noble friend, of course the Government must clear up this Stalker business quickly. But to say anything about it before it is cleared up seems to me entirely wrong and I shall not follow that course.

We sometimes complain about certain business being taken in the dinner hour. I do not mind being put in the dinner hour if it is the dinner hour. But we have been put in the after-dinner hour this time, and as a result of that the noble Lord will have to forgive me if I do not wait until 8.35 because I have other, absolutely unbreakable duties.

This is not an occasion to say very much. This is the most dangerous time of the year in Northern Ireland, as we all know. If one adds Dr. Paisley's threats—empty though I think they may be and certainly hope they are; but we cannot so assume—to the persistent terrorism of the IRA, this is hardly a time to begin questioning the continuance of the emergency provisions. We on these Benches will happily support their continuance. I hope that in a year's time one may be able to say something different. I must confess that I doubt it. However, until things change, it is no good talking about it at all.

As the Minister told us, some changes have been made. I am particularly interested in one of them. I have always favoured the de-scheduling of offences as much the most likely thing to do any good to the overcrowding of terrorist prisons with offenders some of whom ought not to be there at all. As the noble Lord will remember, the Cobden Trust produced a report suggesting that over 40 per cent. of scheduled trials in the Diplock courts were wholly unconnected with terrorism. I do not know that 40 per cent. is true, but certainly a large number were. If such a step as was recommended by Baker—and by most people who have had anything to do with this—has been taken I should like to hear more about it. Perhaps not tonight, but the next time that we discuss these matters, the noble Lord might give us some estimate of what the de-scheduling has saved in the way of Diplock trials. That will be very helpful.

Equally I think that the temporary suspension of the seven-day production of the criminal before the court is a very wise thing. I have been pressing for this for years in England, where there are not even terrorists. In the case of terrorist crime, which is so much more serious, this is a way of easing the pressure on the prisons and reducing the dangerous risk of moving terrorists about, because on a number of occasions rescues have been made on these moves.

As to the introduction of the two clauses in the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, I have not been able to look up which they are, but I think that they are entirely concerned with the treatment of men under arrest and before charge and they are on the whole very liberalising and decent measures. I am very glad that the noble Lord feels that these can be introduced. I will not go into detail because I may be talking about the wrong ones, but I think it is a very good thing.

I must, I think, join my noble friend and the Minister in condemning not only the words of Dr. Paisley but his suggestion that attacking the police was the sort of thing that his followers might reasonably do. I think that this is something that we must not stop talking about. If the leaders of round about half the Unionist population are going to take that sort of line, we really are in the most serious trouble. With regard to the change in Northern Ireland this year, making the police face both ways, and the fact that the worst of the Unionists despise the police for one reason only—that is, for their impartiality—I believe that this is such a terrible accusation that one really wonders whether the people who speak on behalf of those who hold these views really know what they are saying at all. It is fair to say that half the Unionists, the Molyneaux group, have never supported this sort of thing. The only way forward, of course, is through those people, and they will probably be shot in the back like everybody else who is moderate in Northern Ireland.

One could continue on these lines for some time. The only thing we are here to discuss is the necessity to renew the emergency provisions, and I have not the slightest difficulty in saying that from these Benches we think that it is absolutely essential to do so.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, I wish to begin by express-ing my gratitude to the noble Lord the Minister for explaining in considerable detail the Government's legislative intentions arising out of Sir George Baker's report. That, I am happy to say, enables me to shorten my remarks quite a lot.

The noble Lord went on to mention the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Here I should like to express the strong hope that there will be a major input from the British side into the conference of Ministers concerning the administration of justice and police matters. We cannot just leave it for the Irish Government to make all the points that need to be considered by the conference. I should like to emphasise here that there are many improvements that can be made in present procedures that will not require legislation. Obviously there are others that will require changes in the law, but surely we can make a start with those that can be done administratively.

I come now to the letter from the Secretary of State dated 6th June and addressed to the chairman of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, which again the noble Lord mentioned in passing. Paragraph 19 of the letter acknowledges that there has been a delay in producing legislation to amend the Act that we are considering tonight, but it ends with a rather cryptic sentence: We are very conscious of the need to articulate changes in emergency legislation with developments in the normal law of Northern Ireland. That may be good Civil Service prose, but I wonder what it means. Can the noble Lord throw any light on it? In particular, to what parts of the normal law does it refer?

I have several other questions arising out of the Secretary of State's letter. The first concerns paragraph 21. What does "considerable progress" mean in relation to improved police-public consultation in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act in England and Wales? Surely this is something that can be improved without legislation.

Secondly, on paragraph 23, what does "considerable progress" mean in relation to tape recording of police interviews and a code of practice for the treament of persons in custody? Surely this is another place where there is no need for legislation.

Thirdly, there is the police complaints and disciplinary procedure. I should like to ask whether things are moving faster here, because paragraph 24 of the letter says that there will be a draft order in council later this year, and I welcome that.

Having put those questions to the Minister about some admittedly ultra-sensitive areas of law enforcement and policing, I trust that the whole of your Lordships' House will congratulate the Wiltshire police on its discovery of weapons, and the arrest of two men at Trowbridge yesterday. Equally successful was the discovery of the hotel bombs in Glasgow last summer and the arrest of those recently found guilty of the Brighton bombing and the hotel attempts. In Northern Ireland this year numerous large bombs have been found and successfully defused.

I should like to pay tribute to others who now bear some of the heat and burden of these difficult issues. I mention first the committee on the administration of justice in Northern Ireland. This multidisciplinary voluntary body, which arose out of the fragments of the 1970s movement of the peace people, has held a number of conferences and has published no fewer than eight reports on such subjects as the administration of justice, emergency law, police complaints, police and public consultation, minority rights in Northern Ireland and plastic bullets. Had it not been for that body there would not now be in Northern Ireland so large a pool of informed, responsible, non-violent opinion on these difficult questions.

Secondly, I should like to pay tribute to the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights. It is a government-appointed body. Its members include a Queen's counsel, a leading trade unionist, senior academics and others with good local community contacts under the distinguished chairmanship of Mr. James O'Hara. It is most regrettable, and it must be very frustrating to the members and staff of the commission, that so many of their recommendations remain not yet implemented. They include the recommendations of December 1984, February 1985 and February 1986. The present situation is not, I am afraid, a very good omen for the study now being carried out by the commission on discrimination in Northern Ireland and the promotion of equal opportunities.

Police accountability is the last and most important subject that I wish to mention tonight. It has been highlighted by the miners' strike in England and the case of Mr. John Stalker both in Northern Ireland and in England. Indeed, that case was mentioned quite rightly and properly by the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, when speaking from the Opposition Front Bench. The Minister will be aware that I have tabled a question about this matter and I shall expect a reply in due course. Meanwhile, I commend to your Lordships The Times leader on this matter of 27th June. I hope that it will be widely studied both in this House and by the Government.

I come back to the wider matters of police account-ability. It is a fact that responsibility for the police under both the principal Acts—that of 1970 as well as that of 1964—is divided between police authorities and chief constables and the Secretaries of State. The position is further complicated by the automony of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the autonomy of the inspectors of constabulary.

Northern Ireland differs from England in that its police authority is not composed of two-thirds elected representatives and one-third justices of the peace, but is wholly appointed by the Secretary of State. It is notoriously difficult to get cases brought against police personnel. When cases are brought it is equally difficult to get courts to convict. I suggest that the position will be improved by having independent police complaints commissions with investigating capacity of their own, but I do not believe that that is likely to provide a complete solution.

Another improvement in Northern Ireland may be to have a judicial component in the membership of the police authority. However, I submit that a full examination should be made of how police account-ability is organised in other countries, and in particular those which one could call "plural democracies", and in other divided societies.

The basic legislation both in England and in Northern Ireland should also be amended so as to define much more clearly and precisely the meaning of such words as "police efficiency", "police policies", and "operational control". We place exceptional trust in our police forces, and that demands exceptional responsibility and accountability. I do not want the police to become scapegoats for the ills and sins of our society. The position therefore cannot be allowed simply to drift on either in Britain or in Northern Ireland.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Moyola

My Lords, it was not my intention to say anything on this measure this evening, but as I am perhaps the only person present who actually lives in Northern Ireland I should like to express and add my appreciation of the efforts of the RUC over the past few months. I should also like—and I have done so on at least two occasions—to add my voice of condemnation absolutely wholeheartedly against attacks on the police and on their homes. Above all, I should like to add my condemnation of people who deliberately incite such attacks.

The Anglo-Irish Agreement has been touched upon. I thought that my noble friend in his opening remarks sounded a little complacent on this matter. I am bound to say to him that to those of us in Northern Ireland the good which that agreement has done is, at present, absolutely unapparent. No one to whom I have spoken can see what it is achieving. I need hardly say that the harm which it has done seems to me to be absolutely immense. Resentment is still present. If action against the agreement has perhaps been less over the past few weeks, we must not underestimate in any way that the resentment against the agreement and the way in which it was made is still very much present. With those few words, I most certainly add my support to the Motion.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I hope that I have not pre-empted any of your Lordships who may wish to add anything. We are very grateful for the close attention that has been paid to this rather complicated Act and Order. We are also grateful for the detailed points that have been raised by your Lordships in such a good-humoured, reasonable and kind way. However, at the outset I have one confession to make.

It has been drawn to my attention that in some of the remarks that I made about the events that took place outside the Assembly on 23rd June this year, I referred to a gentleman who is a Member of another place. It says in your Lordships' Standing Orders that it is something in the region of undesirable that any Member of another place should be mentioned by name "or otherwise identified" for the purpose of criticism of a personal nature. What any of us might have said tonight is milk and water compared to what has been said in the Assembly about myself, let alone my right honourable and honourable friends in another place. However, we have rules of conduct in your Lordships' House. I have unwittingly breached some of those rules and I wish to apologise to your Lordships. I, above all, should have known better. I think that our feelings on this particular matter are known.

The noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, referred to a comment which I made in my opening speech about attacks and intimidation in respect of members of the RUC and their homes. If I understand him correctly he referred to "recorded" or was it "reported" attacks on the homes of members of the RUC?

Lord Prys-Davies

It was "recorded".

Lord Lyell

I have glanced through my brief and I see that there is nothing there and so I must have added an obiter dictum. I shall check the implications of what was said and write to the noble Lord on that particular point. So far as the intimidation of members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, members of the prison service and others is concerned, of course the RUC have already adopted a wide range of security measures to counter the risk of attack on police officers and their families by Republican terrorists. But, following the more recent spate of the so-called Loyalist attacks, the chief constable has established a special committee to review whatever additional measures are required to meet this renewed threat. In addition, special arrangements have been made to assist ex-members, and what we call "police families", who are subject to intimidation.

I assure my noble friend Lord Moyola and your Lordships that extra patrols are being mounted in vulnerable areas, and alternative accommodation is being provided for those who have to move from their homes. A wide range of measures has been introduced following the events in Portadown on 31st March this year. These seem to have proved effective, and there has been a gratifying decline in the number of attacks on the RUC and their families, but they have not ceased altogether.

I am not able to add anything of substance as regards any Libyan connection for the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. May I study the implications of his remarks, and if I find anything of value communicate with him in writing? The noble Lord raised another point which was also raised by the noble Lord. Lord Hylton, and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson. This was the question of the inquiry by Mr. Stalker, the deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester.

Mr. Stalker was appointed by the chief constable of the RUC on 24th May 1984 to head a team of detectives drawn from the Greater Manchester police force to carry out an inquiry in Northern Ireland. I understand that Mr. Stalker's interim report was received by the chief constable of the RUC on 18th September 1985, and that it was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland on 13th February this year. I am advised that on 4th March this year the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland asked the chief constable for further information. On 6th June this year it was announced that Mr. Sampson had been invited to replace Mr. Stalker as the leader of the inquiry.

Following allegations against Mr. Stalker, he was taken off the inquiry. After Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and the Attorney-General had been consulted, the chief constable of the RUC invited Mr. Sampson to take Mr. Stalker's place as head of the inquiry into the Northern Ireland allegations, and to bring it to an early conclusion. One further point I wish to stress is that the team remains as it had been under Mr. Stalker's leadership, and the investigation will be completed as soon as possible.

The allegations against Mr. Stalker are a matter for the Greater Manchester Police Authority. I hope that your Lordships will bear with me this evening, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, will bear with me on the position this evening. Of course the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has a further question, and I hope that I shall be able to bring some light to this matter in due course, but I could not—and indeed I would not want to—go any further on this particular matter this evening. I hope that your Lordships understand.

The noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, also raised the question of supergrass trials. The use of the evidence of former accomplices has been instrumental in combating terrorism. We believe that it has saved many lives. The criteria for the use of such evidence in Northern Ireland are the same as in England and Wales. Therefore, I could not hold out any prospect that the Government would support the principles of a Bill introduced in another place.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, raised three points concerning a letter that had been sent by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to the chairman of the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights in Northern Ireland. So far as tape recording and the codes of practice are concerned, we await with considerable interest the outcome of field trials in Great Britain of the tape recording of police interviews. We are also considering the extent to which codes of practice would bite (if I may put that term before your Lordships this evening) on the exercise of powers under the emergency provisions Act and the implications of how these powers would work.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, also raised what he called the "cryptic sentence" in the letter from my right honourable friend. We believe that the law of Northern Ireland should, so far as is possible, reflect the law in the rest of the United Kingdom. Secondly, we believe that the emergency legislation should detract as little as is necessary from the normal legal rights of the individual. Because of the unique constitutional position of Northern Ireland it is not possible to include special provisions connected with terrorism in the normal law which is enacted by Order in Council. I think your Lordships would admit that such provisions require legislation by Act of Parliament, and therefore we propose, as I pointed out in my opening remarks, to make special provisions governing the rights of suspects arrested under the emergency legislation which will have the same effect as Sections 56 and 58 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 as they apply to persons arrested under the provisions for terrorism in Great Britain.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, raised a third question on paragraph 24 of the letter. I hope I can give the noble Lord the assurance that arrangements are in hand for the publication of a proposal for a draft Order in Council. We hope that this will be published before your Lordships' House rises for the summer Recess. Certainly I would not speak for another place, but I think we may be here, and I hope that we shall be able to give the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, some indication of what he is seeking.

We were particularly grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, as we put it, "at this season". As we all know, the warm weather brings out the traditional marching parades, with all the emotions that are engendered. We are also grateful for his support of the 28 days' remand, and his wise words on that matter. I am particularly impressed by, and grateful for, his close attention to the two sections, Sections 56 and 58, of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. I think I expanded a little on that in my earlier remarks when trying to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. We are particularly grateful for the attendance and the remarks of my noble friend Lord Moyola, and for his tributes to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

None of your Lordships would be surprised if I mentioned the agreement. I note the points raised by my noble friend about the agreement. I hope that he will allow me to retain my position in what I said—that it is my belief that it is a first step. However, I understand the feelings of my noble friend.

I hope that I have covered all the points. I shall study everything that has been said and will write to your Lordships if there has been any gap. We have had a worthwhile debate. I have taken on board the suggestions made about any review of the emergency provisions Act.

So often we concentrate on the issues which divide people in Northern Ireland, but I hope I may ask all your Lordships, all our colleagues in another place and, above all, all politicians even in Northern Ireland to concentrate on the common goals. Surely one goal which unites everybody in Northern Ireland is the eradication of terrorism, and that is the one goal before us tonight. I stressed that I hoped that I should not have to come forward another year, but our goal is to eradicate terrorism and, until we do that, emergency powers are necessary. With that, I commend the order to your Lordships this evening.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Viscount Long

My Lords, I beg to move that the House adjourn during pleasure until 8.35 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[Sitting was suspended from 8.30 to 8.35 p.m. ]