§ Mr. Thorne
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make it his policy to repeal the Emergency Provisions Act in Northern Ireland as soon as possible, and proceed to the passing of a Bill of Rights for the whole of the Northern Ireland 517W people's; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
As I told the House on 4th April, Lord Gardiner has accepted the chairmanship of a committee which will considerwhat provisions and powers, consistent to the maximum extent practicable in the circumstances with the preservation of civil liberties and human rights, are required to deal with terrorism and subversion in Northern Ireland, including provisions for the administration of justice, and to examine the working of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973; and to make recommendations.But in a situation where over 1,000 people have lost their lives, and where bombings and shootings still persist, I am not prepared to leave the security forces without adequate means to deal with the men of violence. I shall, therefore, invite the House at the appropriate time to approve an order extending the duration of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973.
Before taking any decision on a Bill of Rights, the Government will wish to see whether the special provisions made for Northern Ireland, including the appointment of a Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, are adequate and effective.