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Iran (Diplomatic Relations)

3.30 pm

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (by private notice) : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the breaking off of diplomatic relations by Iran.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Geoffrey Howe) : The Iranian Government broke diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom on 7 March. I told the House on 21 February that in face of the incitement to murder proclaimed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, we were closing our embassy in Tehran and had asked the Iranian Government to withdraw their charge d'affaires and the one other Iranian-based member of his staff from London. They left on 28 February.

We have made clear throughout that, as with any other country, normal relations between Britain and Iran must depend on Iran's fulfilment of her international obligations, in particular by renouncing the use or threat of violence against our citizens. Iran has not withdrawn those threats. We have therefore decided that on security grounds, a number of Iranians must be required to leave this country. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department will shortly be giving notice to that effect. We are keeping the activities of other Iranians under very close review and further action will be taken as necessary. The Iranian Government have until now maintained a consulate-general in Hong Kong. They have been told to close the consulate-general. Its staff have been given two weeks in which to leave.

Mr. Kaufman : I welcome the response by the Foreign Secretary and the action that he has announced. That has our full support and the Foreign Secretary also has our full support for refusing to make any kind of deal with Iran until that country's regime withdraws its monstrous death threat against Mr. Rushdie. Deplorably, that threat has now been reaffirmed by the President of Iran.

Does the Foreign Secretary share our satisfaction that, apart from Libya, no Government of a Moslem country has endorsed the death threat? Although we do not have to agree with everything that it says, the attitude of the Islamic world is much more accurately reflected in the calm and balanced tone of the statement by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Can the Foreign Secretary tell us what arrangements are being made to keep in touch with and protect the interests of Mr. Roger Cooper, whose family must, understandably, be extremely worried about his welfare and safety, especially in the light of the deplorable cancellation by the Iranian authorities of a Swedish consular visit to him that should have taken place yesterday?

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that, far from the United Kingdom caving in to any ultimatum from Iran, it is the Government of Iran who must prove themselves fit to resume diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : The right hon. Gentleman's last point is at the heart of this matter. That view is widely supported in the world. Not the least important feature is the extent to which it is supported by Governments of Moslem countries as well as by Governments in the rest of the world. I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's support

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for that. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Mr. Cooper. We are greatly and continuously concerned about the prospects for his future, as well as about the prospects of freedom for the British hostages who are still detained. We deplore the refusal by the Iranian Government to allow the consular visit to Roger Cooper which was arranged only a short time ago. They have broken the undertaking to allow such a visit. We shall therefore continue to press for consular access through the Teheran embassy of Sweden, our protecting power, whose support in this matter, as in others, we greatly value.

Mr. Peter Temple-Morris (Leominster) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that he deserves universal support for the measures that he has had to take in in respect of this regrettable matter? Does he agree that the key, so far as elements within Iran are concerned, is international solidarity? Will he do his utmost to preserve the lead that the European Community has given? Does he accept that, in a very difficult situation, he deserves some congratulation for demonstrating understanding of the insult that this book represents to the Moslem world--going far beyond the Ayatollah Khomeini and what he stands for? Finally, does he accept that, much as we all like to make interventions in this House and elsewhere, a period of calm would perhaps be beneficial to all in efforts to solve this matter?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I accept all the points that have been made by my hon. Friend. The most important feature of the case, perhaps, is the strong, unified signal to the people and Government of Iran that came so promptly from the European Community--a signal that has been so widely supported elsewhere. That has been fortified by the generally calm approach by other Islamic countries and, equally, by the willingness of Islamic communities in Britain to recognise the importance of different communities in a country respecting each other's point of view. Only when general recognition, in a tolerant fashion, of the need for co-existence in a world of different religions is accepted by the Government of Iran will we be able to move towards a return to normal relations.

Mr. David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) : Will the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary accept from Members on these Benches support for the actions he has had to take? Will the Government continue to make it clear that, in upholding the absolute freedom to write and to publish, they are not signifying any approval of a book that many of us recognise is deeply offensive to Islam, not least to the Moslem population of this country? We accept that no Government can possibly tolerate a threat to the lives of its individual citizens and that the breach of diplomatic relations was therefore inevitable. However, we hope that normality may be resumed once passions have cooled.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's support. The Government will continue to uphold the freedom of speech within the law, upon a rock-solid basis. That does not mean that either the Government or this House, or any hon. Member, is required to condone or defend any particular book. I fully understand the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has expressed himself on this matter.

Sir Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South) : Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there will be a particular

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welcome from the Government side of the House for the support he has received from both right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have intervened? Their comments will help to make it clear to the rulers of Iran that there is agreement in the House and in this country that there can be no question of resuming normal relations with Iran while a British subject is under threat of assassination from that country's Government.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : Once again, I express my gratitude to my right hon. Friend, as well as to the hon. and right hon. Gentleman whom he has identified. On this matter they all speak for the entire House, and it is important that there should be no room for doubt about that.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : Will the Foreign Secretary confirm that this country has no quarrel at all with the people of Iran-- only with its rulers, a regime which has shown total contempt for international law? Is it not the case that, within the last few months alone, thousands, literally thousands, of political prisoners in Iran have been executed, many of them--the large majority, I assume--devout followers of Islam? Would it not be wise for the rulers in Iran to bear in mind the number of dictators and tyrants in this century who have under-estimated the will and resilience of this country?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : Once again, I am glad to be able to agree with the hon. Gentleman. Quite aside from the respect that we have for the people of Iran, we join the hon. Member in leaving the Iranian authorities in no doubt whatsoever about our grave concern over the abuses of human rights that are taking place there. I refer in particular to the recent allegations of mass exterminations.

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath) : While strongly supporting the attempts of my right hon. and learned Friend, not only in recent weeks but over the last year, to restore relations between our two countries, may I ask whether he does not agree that, in the long run, it is important to both that we have a civilised means of communicating with each other? Can we not take some comfort from the fact that Iran needs Britain far more than Britain needs Iran?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : It is clear that, in a civilised and well- ordered world, there should be relations between countries of the importance of Iran and the United Kingdom, not least taking account of the fact that the United Kingdom is one of the permanent members of the Security Council and, in that capacity, played a substantial part in helping to bring to an end the conflict in which the people of Iran were so tragically engaged. It is because we wish to keep open the possibility of restoring representation between our two countries that we refrained from breaking relations in the hope that wiser counsels might prevail. That has not happened. We shall have to wait for a change of heart, as my hon. Friend pointed out.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) : In addition to the protection that has quite rightly been offered to Salman Rushdie, will the Foreign Secretary contact his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and ensure that similar protection is given to any Iranians living in this country who are likely to be the subject of attacks by agents acting on behalf of the Iranian Government? Is he aware that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) pointed out, over 3,000 people have

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been executed for political activities in Iran since the ceasefire took place, and many more are on death row at present?

It is essential that everyone stands up against the Iranian Government for what they are doing to the people of Iran and the people of the rest of the world. In that sense, it would be totally wrong for any trade with that country to take place, any credits to be given to it and, above all, any sales of any arms by any other country which could be used as part of the political repression that is the awful lot of so many people in Iran at present.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I think that the whole world is as disturbed as the hon. Gentleman by the continuing record of abuse of human rights in that country and joins us in condemning it, as I have already done. Likewise, the whole House would agree with the hon. Gentleman that anyone living in this country, lawfully here and abiding by our laws and institutions, is entitled to the full protection of the law against threats or the actuality of violence.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East) : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is a tragedy that the rulers of the people of Iran should behave in such an intolerable way? Is not the solution for us to wait until they can elect some new leaders?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I hesitate to have as much confidence as my hon. Friend about the method by which a change of Government will take place there. The Iranian people are entitled to a Government of higher quality than the present deplorable regime.

Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham) : In view of what he has said about the world being disturbed, does the Foreign Secretary agree that the time has come to break off all relations with Iran--not only diplomatic but commercial relations--as long as that appalling regime is in power? Would it not be helpful at least to give some expression of support to the National Council of Resistance, which is seeking to replace that oppressive regime with a democratic one?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : We stand ready to take whatever action may be necessary in the light of events.

Sir Dennis Walters (Westbury) : My right hon. and learned Friend has rightly received the support of the whole House for his statement. Will he accept that the Rushdie book is now the focal point of a power struggle within Iran, the outcome of which will be relevant to the interests of the west as well as peace in the middle east? Therefore, will he assure us that he will continue to handle the situation with the utmost sensitivity?

Sir Geoffrey Howe : I appreciate my hon. Friend's point. It is clearly important to go on making our position clear on the various points raised in the House today, as I think that the whole House has done. We certainly would wish to see the restoration of normal relations with the people, and thus with the Government, of Iran, but we are not prepared to see that done at the price of surrendering our commitment to our own principles. We must hope that events take such a course in Iran that will make that possible.

Several Hon. Members rose --

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Mr. Speaker : Order. I have to remind the House that this is an extension of Question Time. We have a busy day ahead of us.

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Points of Order

4.44 pm

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you received a request from the Government or the Secretary of State for Transport to make a statement, in view of today's announcement by British Rail on the Channel tunnel? It makes it clear that an extra £1 billion will be required to meet problems in Kent. That clearly transfers the matter from a private Bill procedure to a public investment, which means public accountability. It is quite deplorable that we have had no statement from the Government. This matter affects not only the people of Kent but everybody in all parts of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Speaker : I have had no such request today. I understand that the statement was only made at 3.30.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since you are the final arbiter on questions that are tabled in the Table Office, could you give me some assistance as to why part of a question that I tabled has been refused? I--

Mr. Speaker : Order. May I stop the hon. Lady there? I have not had an opportunity of looking at this question and I am afraid that I know nothing about it. Will she please allow me to do so before she raises a point of order on the matter?

Mrs. Mahon rose --

Mr. Speaker : Order. It cannot be raised now. Let me look into it, please.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you received any request from the Secretary of State for Health to introduce regulations into the House to ensure that those people who are seeking to make claims from his Department to enable them to travel to visit sick relatives can have their claims properly dealt with rather than held up in a queue of 10,000 in the offices in Newcastle?

Mr. Speaker : I have not had such a request.



That the Value Added Tax (Education) Order 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 267) be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.-- [Mr. Lightbown.]

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Homes for the Elderly

3.45 pm

Mr. Malcolm Moss (Cambridgeshire, North-East) : I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to regulate quality of service and standard of care of homes for the elderly and for other purposes.

The elderly proportion of our population is increasing quite dramatically as people live longer through better diet, improved living standards and a higher quality of health care. In 1987 there were some 9.3 million people aged 60 and over, of which 3.4 million, or 36 per cent., were 75 or over. By the year 2027 there will be an increase of 33 per cent. in the over-60 group, to 12.4 million and an increase in the over-75 group of 44 per cent., to 4.9 million. This will mean greater pressure than ever before on care and nursing facilities for the elderly.

Parelleling this increase in the elderly population in the past decade has been the massive rise in the cost of caring for elderly people in residential care homes and nursing homes. Estimates for 1988-89 suggest that the cost will break through the £1 billion barrier for the year, representing a fortyfold increase in costs since 1980. In May 1988, the annual figure was £878 million, compared with just £18 million in 1980. The current bill is rising by a staggering £200 million a year. This is probably the fastest growing area of public expenditure within the Department of Social Security. This upward trend raises the obvious question whether this represents the best value for money for the taxpayer, commensurate with the most appropriate type of care in all circumstances for the elderly. Paradoxically, finance through social security benefits is available for what appears to be the most expensive type of care. Residential care takes its rightful place as part of the provision of care within the community, a subject which was highlighted in three major reports last year. In March 1988, we had the Griffiths report on community care, followed by Lady Wagner's independent review of residential care, and both these followed on a report by the Committee of Public Accounts, "Community Care Developments", published last April. Before that, we had the report of the social services inspectorate's inspection of the implementation of the Registered Homes Act 1984, entitled "Certain Standards". The subject is, therefore, in the forefront of much research and investigation, a lot of it Government-commissioned.

All these reports highlighted similar problems. There was an enormous variation in the quality of care and standards of service in residential and nursing homes between different local authorities and between local authority provision and that of the voluntary and private sectors in the same statutory area. There was no general agreement on whether these variations should be tolerated or even allowed in the first instance. The social services departments of local authorities, as the registering authorities, were in many cases ill-equipped to fulfil their functions of registration and inspection.

There was little co-operation between public and private sectors, few joint approaches and little co-ordinated planning. The main deficiency was the absence of rights and privileges for the elderly residents, the

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customers, who often seemed simply to feature as statistics and rarely as human beings with the right to a dignified retirement. The Registered Homes Act 1984 was intended to ensure regulation of standards in private and voluntary residential care homes, while allowing for local development, flexibility and co-operation. The Act has brought some much needed discipline and structural form to the operation of residential care homes and nursing homes. However, it has failed to meet some of its objectives, especially in developing a relationship between the social services departments and the private sector. It has also failed to eliminate completely the scandals of disgracefully run homes, of which there are enough examples for us to demand changes to that Act to strengthen its regulatory powers. The most recent statement on the issue was the report entitled "Residential Care for elderly people : a consumer viewpoint", recently published by the National Consumer Council and submitted to the Department of Health. Building on many of the recommendations of Griffiths and Wagner, it put the case for the consumer right at the heart of the issue. It is that emphasis on consumers' rights that is fundamental to the changes to the law proposed in the Bill. The Bill proposes that the responsibility for registration is taken away from the social services departments of local authorities, principally because they have been placed in the invidious position of having to monitor registration requirements and standards, which in some cases their own homes fail to reach. Conflicts of interest inherent in service-providers monitoring their own standards is a general problem. Instead, the task of registration will be taken over by a new independent authority, to be called the residential homes inspectorate. That body will also be responsible for conducting regular inspections of all homes--not less than twice a year--in a systematic way, using procedures set by the Secretary of State. For the first time all homes--the local authority homes included--will need to achieve the registration requirements and be subject to regular inspection. The Bill also widens the scope to embrace nursing homes and mental nursing homes, as well as residential care homes, as defined in the 1984 Act.

In the 1984 Act, homes with fewer than four residents were excluded from the legislation, and that has given rise to real fears and criticism. The Bill proposes to bring all homes into the registration process, including those with four residents or fewer, unless, at that smaller size, the home is not run for reward. That will still allow small units caring for relatives to exist outside the registration process.

It is estimated that in East Sussex alone there are 3,000 unregistered homes of that size. I believe that a time bomb is ticking away and a scandal is waiting to happen.

The Bill brings in a new clause to strengthen the regulatory powers of the Secretary of State, so that he shall make regulations to establish minimum and universally applicable standards of care and service. The Centre for Policy on Aging's code of practice, as set out in its 1984 publication, "Home Life", which has already been endorsed by the Secretary of State, shall provide the basis for detailed regulations and those shall apply equally to nursing as well as residential homes. Those nationally determined standards will form the basis for the residential homes inspectorate's registration and inspection responsibilities.

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Focusing yet further on the consumer dimension, the Bill's other proposals introduce the requirement for comprehensive information about homes--information concerning their style, the regimes of life and internal rules. That information would be made readily available to customers and potential customers.

That will be achieved, primarily, by the mandatory requirement to publish and distribute a brochure or handbook about the home. Requirements on content and presentation will be established by the Secretary of State and their implementation will be monitored by the inspectorate. Each home will be required to set up a well publicised charter of customer rights and a complaints procedure. The inspectorate will have powers to investigate complaints and adjudicate on them. It will be mandatory for each home to set up self-evaluation procedures with proper training of staff, together with a regular performance review.

The Bill will not answer the vexed question of who makes, and under what procedures or organisation, the decision that care for an elderly person is best delivered in a residential home, as opposed to them receiving community care in their own homes. The Griffiths report made recommendations concerning community care and the Minister's statement in February gave on grounds for optimism that that report will soon be brought before the House for full debate. Care for the elderly in homes is, however, a vital and rapidly increasing ingredient in the provision of community care, and improvements in overall quality of service and standards, universally and independently monitored, are long overdue.

The majority of homes achieve adequate standards, but that is not good enough. The best are excellent, and the best practice should be encouraged to become the norm.

As Sir Roy Griffiths said :

"Community care is a poor relation, everybody's distant relative and nobody's baby."

It is time that that baby was adopted.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Malcolm Moss, Miss Ann Widdecombe, Mrs. Gillian Shephard, Mr. Roger Knapman and Mr. John Hannam.

Homes for the Elderly

Mr. Malcolm Moss accordingly presented a Bill to regulate quality of service and standard of care of homes for the elderly and for other purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 17 March and to be printed. [Bill 93.]

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Orders of the Day

Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions)

3.54 pm

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Tom King) : I beg to move,

That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.

We are gathered here for the annual event of the renewal of the emergency powers and provisions in Northern Ireland. As the House knows, the rules have been changed under the 1987 Act so that that Act will lapse in 1992 and it will require totally fresh--

Mr. Speaker : Order. I am sorry to interrupt the Secretary of State, but I should make it clear to the House that we are also debating the second motion :

That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 1989, which were laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.

Mr. King : I think that that will be for the convenience of the House.

The 1987 Act will lapse in 1992 and it will then be necessary for totally fresh legislation to be brought before the House if the emergency provisions and emergency powers are to continue. These provisions require an annual renewal of the legislation, which gives the House an opportunity to review it. The first question before the House today is whether the emergency provisions and emergency powers are necessary. If that question is answered in the affirmative, as it is by Lord Colville in his extremely valuable review, the second question is whether they are all necessary, given that they are necessary in general.

One of the advantages now enjoyed by our debate is that we are in possession of Lord Colville's report on the operation in 1988 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts. I am sure that I speak on behalf of the House when I express our appreciation for the thorough and constructive way in which Lord Colville has approached that task. His report has undoubtedly improved the quality of our debates. People do not necessarily agree with all the conclusions that Lord Colville may draw, but he has gone into these matters thoroughly and made clear in his report how many people he spoke to and the depth in which he has studied these matters. It is extremely helpful to have his independent assessment of the Acts.

Lord Colville concluded that the emergency powers are necessary ; not least after yesterday's events, and after other recent outrages, I hardly think that anybody would seek to suggest that there was not every need to ensure that the security forces are properly equipped with the necessary powers and resources to give support to the community and to protect it from attacks, from whichever extreme they may come.

As the House is aware, the IRA is currently seeking to mount a particularly vicious campaign in Northern Ireland, aided and significantly resourced by weapons and explosives from Libya. That campaign poses a major threat at present to the security of the community and it endangers members of that community throughout the

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Province no matter from which side they may come. We have had some particularly awful and nasty IRA attacks, as well as attacks from other extreme republican terrorist groups, and some particularly appalling loyalist extremist attacks. I know that the House will join me in uniformly condemning them, from whichever quarter they come. Yesterday evening's atrocity, against the background of the recent instructions for no attacks on civilians which were, apparently, given by supporters of the IRA, strikes the depths of hypocrisy. We have seen a background of attacks on distinguished civil servants, judges, contractors, service families, on the Hanna family, Gillian Johnston, the grandfather and grand-daughter returning from bingo in Benburb and on the good neighbours in Londonderry going to see whether another neighbour was all right. We have seen the bomb attached under the car of somebody who had the misfortune of buying a house previously owned by an RUC member who had moved more than a year before, the attacks on the two civilians passing the Falls road swimming pool and the security guard at Donacloney, the atrocity last night at Coagh and the attack on the former policeman in Donegal. We have seen mistake after mistake, and nastiness after nastiness from both extremes.

Those outrages bring home to us all too clearly, as those who work or spend time in Northern Ireland know, the vital need to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the security forces and to ensure that whoever is responsible for outrages is brought to justice and that those who can give help or information to the RUC do so to break this appalling cycle of murder, viciousness and bestiality, whose only product is yet more murder, killing and bestiality.

In bringing these instruments before the House, I have even less need for embarrassment than before in standing for the need for the special powers and the paramount importance of ensuring that the police and security forces have the resources and powers available to them to deal with the nasty and evil people who exist in some of the darker and less attractive corners of the Province.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill) : The whole House is with the right hon. Gentleman in what he has said. Can he tell us a little more about the incident to which he referred in which more Semtex was discovered yesterday in Scarborough and the possibility that more than one active cell of the IRA may be involved in trying to promote more violence in Great Britain?

Mr. King : I cannot comment further on that from the information that the police have made available. I referred earlier to a particularly vicious IRA campaign which is amply reinforced by weapons and explosives supplied by Libya. I know that no hon. Member is under any illusions that the campaign is confined to Northern Ireland or to Great Britain. One knows from events, whether in Gibraltar, Germany or Holland, that the IRA's intention is to kill, maim and murder wherever it finds easy targets and wherever it thinks that carnage can be created and attention drawn to its evil purposes.

I am afraid that we had confirmation yesterday of the IRA's determination to use its resources in whatever ways may cause the maximum stress and suffering. It also reminds us that no society can stand aside from such terrorism and that everyone in the mainland of Great Britain is as one with the people of Northern Ireland. We

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face a common threat, we must face it together with all the resources that our country can bring to bear, and we must face it with the Government of the Republic as well. Anyone who stops for more than a second to study the IRA--or the UVF and others in the short term--knows that, if they were to succeed in their awful campaign in Northern Ireland, it would be a serious threat to the future of democratic government throughout the island of Ireland.

Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down) : In view of the catalogue of atrocities to which the right hon. Gentleman has rightly referred, was it not wrong for the Government to cut the amount of money available to the Royal Ulster Constabulary?

Mr. King : What is quite wrong is to try to score such political points, especially if they are totally incorrect. If the hon. Gentleman wants to say that he wishes that the increased funds to the RUC had been increased by even more than the amount by which we increased them this year, he has a valid point, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the House and I assume that his remark was an unfortunate slip of the tongue. Funds for the RUC have in no sense been cut. They have been increased and we shall seek to ensure, at all times, that the RUC has the necessary resources available.

Anyone who is familiar with, or knows something of, the work of the RUC cannot fail to be impressed by their courage, professionalism, training and equipment, all of which take resources, and do not give the impression, with great respect to the hon. Gentleman, that the RUC is starved of funds. It is a police force for which I am proud to have some responsibility. It works bravely in extremely difficult circumstances and is increasingly recognised as a force seeking honestly to deal impartially with both communities and to protect both from the extremes and nastiness that can exist in Northern Ireland. I am anxious to ensure that it has the necessary resources to achieve its objectives. I hope that that point is clear.

Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport) : In view of the discovery of Semtex in Scarborough yesterday and yet another threat to assassinate our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, will my right hon. Friend say something about the freedom of movement of Irish citizens across the border from Southern Ireland into Ulster and by sea from the Republic to ports in this country? Is he satisfied that there is adequate surveillance? As my right hon. Friend is aware, there is at present a debate about border controls between, for example, France and the United Kingdom and Belgium and United Kingdom. Yet Irish citizens can move here freely without passports. Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there are proper controls over their movements?

Mr. King : My hon. Friend is right : there is easy and ready access, and the connections between the two countries are manifest and extensive. On the most recent figures, about 1 million

first-generation Irish people are living and working in Great Britain. The contacts and involvements are substantial, and there are various anomalies. It is, for example, no secret that there are citizens of the Irish Republic serving in the British Army.

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They are enlisting in British regiments and serving honourably and bravely in them. There are many connections.

The tragedy and awfulness of terrorism is that the genuine and admirable relationships which have existed for so long between our countries are put under strain by evil men and evil pressures. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are trying to ensure free movement backwards and forwards, whether for Irish race horses coming here or for Jack Charlton managing the Irish football team, and the relationships are myriad. We try to ensure that decent, honest people can maintain friendly relations, while also trying to ensure that proper scrutiny and the best intelligence are maintained on those whose intentions may be less satisfactory than we would wish. We have a short debate, so I must proceed to say a word about the two Acts. That is necessary, because I doubt that I am the only Member of this House who has difficulty in finding his way through the maze of the two Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 and the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1984 and deciding which powers arise from which Act.

Although I have enormous sympathy with Lord Colville's suggestion about consolidating all the legislation, I cannot respond to that. However, it would be enormously to the benefit of any hon. Member trying to contribute to these debates, because the legislation has evolved in a complex way. Although I do not see any early prospect of such consolidation, I can well understand why Lord Colville made that suggestion.

I remind the House that we are proposing to continue the emergency provisions Act 1978, which has three key elements. It gives the security forces in Northern Ireland extra powers to deal with the special problems of terrorism in Northern Ireland, including the powers to stop and question, to arrest, to search and to seize. It also provides powers to proscribe organisations and creates offences relating to training people in the manufacture or use of firearms or explosives and to displays of support for proscribed organisations. That Act also provides the legal authority for the so-called Diplock courts.

The 1987 Act introduced a statutory right for persons arrested to have someone notified of their arrest and whereabouts and to have access to legal advice. It provides authority for me to impose statutory time limits on pretrial stages of proceedings and it introduced a statutory scheme for regulating the security guard industry in Northern Ireland. That was one of the first steps that we took to try to stop some of the rackets and the gangsterism that disfigures various activities in Northern Ireland. The provision of those two Acts are all temporary and, unless we renew them in this order, they will lapse on 21 March.

I turn now to the basis on which we are proposing that the two Acts be renewed. As I did last year, I express my appreciation to Lord Colville for his review, which was thorough and penetrating. I refer to his recommendations on certain provisions that could lapse, but as I said at the beginning of my speech, we have two questions to answer : should we renew these emergency provisions, and if we should, do we need to renew them all?

Lord Colville pointed to certain powers that can now be allowed to lapse. They all relate to the 1978 Act and comprise section 24, which gives the security forces the

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