HC Deb 27 November 1980 vol 994 cc127-9W
17. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to influence public opinion about the current Irish Republican Army propaganda campaign surrounding the hunger strikers in Her Majesty's prison, Maze.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins

My colleagues and I are energetically employing every means at our disposal to get across the facts about the prison system in Northern

intended to reduce the size of the Civil Service to about 630,000 over the next four years. Unforeseen demands are bound to arise over the years ahead, and we are therefore allowing for a contingency margin of 15,000. The Government have now settled manpower targets for individual Departments for 1 April 1984. These figures, and those of the staff in post on 1 April 1979 and 1 October 1980, are given below. Each departmental Minister has his general plans which will be developed in detail over the period as circumstances evolve.

Ireland. Our efforts are directed at exposing the groundless claims of the protesting prisoners for political status and at making clear the Government's firm position on the hunger strike. We have been in contact with community leaders, churchmen, humanitarian bodies and the news media throughout the British Isles in pursuit of this aim.

All Members of this House have already received individual copies of the factual material which has been widely distributed and I can now tell the House that a new publication which shows in pictorial form the reality of the situation in the H-blocks is about to be released. Advance copies have today been placed in the Library and I am again arranging for each Member of the House to receive one.

Overseas, we are also ensuring that the facts of the situation are being put across forcefully, particularly in those parts of the world where there are large communities of Irish origin and where Northern Ireland affairs are followed with interest.