HC Deb 17 February 1995 vol 254 cc833-4W
Mr. Waterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will now publish the report of Mr. J. J. Rowe's fundamental review of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991; and what arrangements he has made to review the operation of the Act in 1994.

Sir Patrick Mayhew

I announced on 24 May 1994 that Mr. J. J. Rowe QC would be undertaking a fundamental review of the provisions of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991. This review would assist the Government in reaching decisions about what to do when the present Act reaches the end of its life in August 1996. Mr. Rowe's report is being published in full today as a Command Paper. I am most grateful to Mr. Rowe for his valuable work.

As Mr. Rowe himself makes clear, most of his work was completed before the Provisional IRA cessation of violence and it was wholly completed before the Loyalist cessation. His recommendations do not, therefore, take full account of the new situation which these events created, nor of the Government's working assumption that the ceasefires are intended to be permanent. The Government's hope is that a lasting peace will prove to be established and that the need for the exceptional powers provided by this Act will accordingly be removed. In the meantime, the Government will keep the need for such powers under continuing review.

Mr. Rowe has also accepted my invitation to prepare a report on the operation of the Act during 1994. As the temporary provisions of the Act will lapse on 15 June 1995 unless continued in force by order, I have asked Mr. Rowe to submit his report in sufficient time to facilitate Parliament's consideration of the Emergency Provisions Act.

At the same time, and as part of the Government's continuing review of the use of powers under emergency legislation, I have concluded on the basis of security advice that there is no longer a need to maintain those exclusion orders for which I am responsible and which are in force under the Prevention of Terrorism Acts. I have, therefore, directed the revocation of those orders. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary will announce in due course the outcome of a review of the 56 exclusion orders for which he is responsible.