HC Deb 02 March 1989 vol 148 cc310-1W
Mr. Mallon

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many house searches were carried out in Armagh during December 1988 and January 1989 by(a) the Army (b) police and (c) the Ulster Defence Regiment; in how many of the houses searched arms, ammunition or explosives were found; and whether there was reasonable suspicion in respect of each house searched or the occupants of each house searched:

(2) how many house searches were carried out by the (a) Royal Ulster Constabulary, (b) Army and (c) Ulster Defence Regiment in each of the Northern Ireland parliamentary constituencies during the year 1 January 1988 to 31 December 1988; whether there was reasonable suspicion in respect of each house searched, or the occupants of each house searched; and how many houses which were searched did not include arms, ammunition or explosives.

Mr. Ian Stewart

[holding answer 31 January 1989]: I assume that the hon. Member is referring to searches under section 15 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. The only figures that are readily available relate to Northern Ireland as a whole. I understand that, in 1988, the RUC carried out 4,136 house searches in Northern Ireland under that section; information about finds as a result of those searches is not readily available. Army records indicate that they carried out 889 searches of houses and other premises under section 15 during that period, although that figure is subject to confirmation, but the majority of these were in conjunction with the RUC and are also counted in their figures. The figure for the Army includes searches by the UDR. Of these 889 searches, arms, ammunition, explosives, transmitters, scanning receivers or hides were found in 102 cases. Under section 15(2) of the Act it is a requirement that there should be reasonable grounds for suspicion that munitions are being held unlawfully in a private dwelling, or that there is a transmitter or scanning receiver there, and all searches are conducted on that basis.