HC Deb 16 October 1975 vol 897 cc796-7W
Mr. Gow

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a further statement about his policy of releasing detainees from the Maze Prison.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The procedure for the release of detainees is governed by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Act 1975, which came into force on 21st August 1975. The advisers, appointed under the Act, have dealt with the cases of all those previously held under interim custody orders and, having considered their reports, I have released 18 detainees and made detention orders against the remaining 73.

In addition to releases by the former Commissioners and Detention Appeal Tribunal, I have personally released a total of 360 detainees since 22nd December 1974. On 22nd December there were 565 detainees; there are now 191, all subject to detention orders.

The law requires that a person can only be detained when the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person has been concerned in the commission or attempted commission of an act of terrorism and also that his detention is necessary for the protection of the public. My policy on releasing detainees, therefore, remains that of taking into account all the relevant circumstances of a particular case and the prevailing security situation.