§ Lord HYLTON
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What representations they have received this year concerning the Northern Irish Emergency laws; and what plans they have for amending this legislation, when it falls due for renewal, with a view to returning wherever possible to traditional rights and to the normal process of justice.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY of STATE, NORTHERN IRELAND OFFICE (Lord Elton)
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has received a small number of representations concerning the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978, notably from the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, the peace people and some political parties. As he said in another place in July this year, it was with reluctance that he asked the House of Commons to renew powers which are not normal in a democracy; but he stressed that they remain necessary to bring to justice terrorists who pay no heed to democracy. It is an indication of the Government's desire to return wherever possible to traditional rights and to the normal process of justice, that Section 12 of the Act (which, together with Schedule 1, gave the Secretary of State power to detain indefinitely and without trial persons suspected of being terrorists) was not renewed in July this year. The whole of the Act remains constantly under review and Her Majesty's Government will only seek to renew those sections which it considers to be essential to the elimination of terrorism in Northern Ireland,