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Column 1172IRA, a vast amount of Army intelligence work was devoted to the activities of some people who have managed to get themselves elected to the House of Commons. In retrospect, it will probably be found that Army intelligence got a bit excited and carried away ; I do not think that there was ever any realistic prospect of an independent Northern Ireland state, but often Army intelligence does get carried away, to say nothing of what happens in MI5.
Watching the programme, we waited with bated breath to see what happened to Roy Garland's information. It was clear that he had filed his report, which went to a senior MI5 officer--who had been identified by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) as Ian Cameron. In a letter to my hon. Friend on 26 June, Colin Wallace identified the officer concerned--
"For example, the BBC Public Eye' programme demonstrated very clearly that :
(a) both Army Intelligence and MI5 were aware of the Kincora situation in the mid 1970s ;
(b) MI5 refused to allow one of its senior officers, Ian Cameron, to be interviewed by the police about the scandal".
Ministers should not take it that we are necessarily against the intelligence services. I do not want to be too personal, but it so happens that next Thursday--along with the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery)--I shall be attending a memorial service for George Young, formerly of MI6. To put it bluntly, people are not asked to do that if they are automatically against the intelligence services. Some of us are very concerned about this matter.
Mr. Livingstone : The MI5 officer who received the information indirectly was Ian Cameron. The Army intelligence officer wrote a report of his meeting with Garland, and sent it to his Army superiors as a matter of routine. He said that it was then passed to MI5--which shared the same building at Army headquarters--and that he was summoned to see the senior MI5 officer. On the "Public Eye" programme, he said of that meeting :
"I can't honestly say that I was expecting three gold stars but I went up feeling pretty positive, expecting a normal meeting. Instead I got blown out of his office. He's rude to me, he tells me that the kind of information that I have submitted is not proper intelligence, that we have nothing--we, as intelligence officers, don't dabble in homosexual affairs, that these moral matters are nothing to do with us. He vilifies my report, he tells me to cut off the contact. I can remember him saying to me words to the effect get rid of him, break the contact, just get rid'. I'm surprised because we had had a pretty good relationship going up until then. He blows me out of the office."
That, surely, is a remarkable position for one of the most senior MI5 officers on operational duty in the north of Ireland : having been told of systematic child abuse by a leading militant Protestant paramilitary, MI5 decided to do nothing about it.
We were told in the programme about other information made public by "James", the unidentified Army intelligence officer. We were told that he was involved in discussions about trying to blackmail another Unionist paramilitary leader, of suggestions that MI5 had film of that Unionist leader involved in homosexual activity, and of how that information was to be used to make him more amenable. It seems likely that, when MI5 arrived in the north of Ireland as the troubles blew up at the end of the 1960s and found--as we now know from all
Column 1173the published accounts of intelligence sources there--that there was virtually no effective intelligence-gathering network, it would have found a nest of vipers burrowed away inside Kincora, and tremendous opportunities. One could either expose that abuse and stop it, or use it to entrap people that one wished to control--people who were perceived as a threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I think that that is what happened--that MI5 was aware of what was going on at Kincora, but considered it more important to continue to gather intelligence that could be used to blackmail those Unionist politicians who were not part of the establishment network. I have not the slightest doubt that the prime target of much of that activity was the Democratic Unionist party. All kinds of rumours began to float around. The leader of the DUP--the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)--has raised in the House other attempts to smear leading members of his party, involving forged bank accounts and a network of rumour and suspicion. Senior officers in MI5 made a calculated decision that it was better, on balance, to allow the child abuse to continue, because the intelligece being gathered gave them a hold over some of the more eccentric figures inside the Unionist paramilitary organisations.
Mr. Dalyell : It should go on record that some of us think that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and his colleagues suffered far more, and far more outrageously, at that time than did Harold Wilson or Ted Short.
Mr. Livingstone : I agree with my hon. Friend. The vast amount of time that I have put into this matter has led me to the conclusion that the British state sought to destroy the hon. Member for Antrim North, but has been unable to do so. He was the prime target, not the IRA or the Irish National Liberation Army. For all our disagreements, he is a democratic politician who puts his views to the ballot box. Elements within the British security services decided to destroy him and his party by any means possible. Kincora was part of that. After three years of examining the matter, I have not found a shred of evidence to link that party with the events at Kincora, although I have had many interesting titbits dropped in my direction to try to lead me to make such a suggestion in a public speech.
In the past 10 years there have been six inquiries into Kincora, and a vast amount of work has been done. However, all the public disquiet remains.
In 1980, the first of the three RUC inquiries led to the conviction of McGrath, Mains and Sempel. A month after those
convictions--December 1981--the then Northern Ireland Secretary, James Prior, announced the establishment of a committee of inquiry to be headed by Stephen McGonagle, the former ombudsman for Northern Ireland. It sat for one day, three members resigned, and that was the end of that. McGonagle, who was interviewed on the "Public Eye" programme, made it quite clear that he thought that all the inquiries that had been conducted so far were unsatisfactory and had not indentified what had been going on, and that there needed to be a full, frank and open inquiry.
Two new investigations were set up after that. One involving possible criminal matters was headed by the chief constable of Sussex, Sir George Terry. Sir George was asked to oversee a new RUC inquiry into allegations
Column 1174that Kincora was part of a homosexual vice ring involving civil servants and other prominent figures. That was conducted by the same RUC team under Superintendent George Caskey, who had brought McGrath and the others to justice. Sir George completed his report in October 1983. The following year, the public inquiry got under way with a retired English judge, William Hughes, as its chairman.
Whenever I have raised the matter in the House, I have been told again and again by leading members of the Government that it has been investigated by Hughes. The first page of the Hughes inquiry report states that under its terms of reference it was not investigating anything to do with the intelligence services or public figures. That is right at the beginning of the report--we do not need to read the rest of it. I ploughed through it-- it is not the lightest or most entertaining reading. It is quite a horrifying story. It is nonsense to suggest that that is the answer to the allegations that many hon. Members have raised.
The RUC team, led by Superintendent George Caskey, under the supervision of George Terry, tried to probe the activities of the Security Service, however. That came to light in the "Public Eye" programme ; most hon. Members had not been aware of it before. The programme makers tried to put key questions to the senior officer in MI5 but they were denied access to him by the Ministry of Defence. There we have the RUC charged with investigating this matter and being blocked, not by some criminal or by some sleazy character in the shadows, but by the Government--barred from interviewing the MI5 officer about why he had not acted on the information that was passed to him by Roy Garland. It is absolute nonsense.
Mr. Dalyell : Has my hon. Friend heard that Sir John Hermon was absolutely livid when he found out, albeit in retirement, exactly how he was treated and how his colleagues were treated? Sir John Hermon, whom I do not know, has every right to be extremely angry.
Mr. Livingstone : It will be obvious by now that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and I are not defending people with whom we find ourselves broadly in political agreement. None of the people whom I have been defending so far would throw a vote my way this side of hell, but they were right. They were sought to be targeted and destroyed by the British state. Few people have been more critical than I of abuses by the RUC, but it is not the fault of the RUC that this matter has not been brought to a conclusion. It tried but it was blocked by the Ministry of Defence, which denied it access to the MI5 officer who refused to take action on the information that was passed to him from Roy Garland via the Army intelligence officer. Roy Garland told the RUC team about his meetings with the Army intelligence officer who was given the name James in the programme. The RUC then spoke to that Army intelligence officer, and he gave his account of the way in which he had been treated by the senior MI5 officer who refused to take action. It was obvious that the RUC would need to interview that MI5 officer.
Its attempt to gain access to MI5 began at Stormont, at a meeting with a deputy secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, who had recently been attached to the Ministry of Defence. Arrangements were made for detectives from the RUC team to visit Ministry of Defence offices in London. Over two months, several meetings took place between the RUC and an official representing the Ministry of Defence,
Column 1175but, despite repeated requests, the MI5 officer was never made available for interview. No explanation was ever given. Further approaches were made through the Northern Ireland Office and, eventually, a compromise was reached. The RUC would submit a series of questions in writing. The list of questions included why no action was taken to investigate the allegations Army intelligence had passed on, why the Army intelligence officer concerned was told to drop Kincora, why he was told to set up contact with the source, and whether MI5 knew what was going on in the home and, if MI5 did know, whether it was prepared to let it continue for another purpose. No answers to those questions were ever received.
We are not talking about a bunch of criminals using a slick, expensive barrister to avoid justice ; we are talking about the British Government, some of the most senior officers answerable to the British Government, and this Government--not a previous Government--blocking the RUC's attempt to bring the guilty to justice.
The avenue of inquiry came to a halt, not surprisingly, when the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that there would be no further criminal prosecutions with regard to Kincora. As far as the RUC was concerned, the case had been closed--over its objections at the squashing of its investigation. The RUC investigation was completed without the evidence of the senior MI5 figures and, as late as 1982, the Security Service had managed to obstruct a top-level police investigation overseen by a senior English chief constable. I find that breathtaking. This really is the time to hear members of the Government explain why the Government took that action. Would there have been a threat to the security of the British state if the matter had come out into the open? That would be so only if something absolutely horrendous was being done.
I am prepared to give way if any hon. Member wants to volunteer some information on why this Government stopped their own loyal officers in the RUC investigating the Government's own Security Service's involvement in the matter. I notice that no Conservative Member is rushing to intervene to enlighten me or the House on what has been going on.
When Sir George Terry completed his report, he made one conclusion, which he worded carefully. He thanked the military authorities with fulsome praise and said :
"the military sources have been very frank with me and perfectly open during the ongoing inquiry under Detective Superintendent Caskey."
That clearly does not include MI5. There is no reference to the co- operation of the intelligence services.
Frankly, I do not think that the Government can continue to stonewall any longer. I have raised this matter in the House for three years. Members of other parties have been doing so for over a decade. There has been waffle and bluster. Clearly, one does not blame the present Secretary of State, who has inherited an explosive mess. It is not his fault. Most of those who are responsible for the decisions have long since retired, but that does not mean that they should be able to retire with honour.
Mr. Dalyell : There has been bluster, but there has also been abuse. I happen to think that the present Ministers are courteous and helpful. However, I remember that awful night--I have never been angrier in the Chamber
Column 1176--when my hon. Friend and I were given by a Minister a load of abuse such as I have not had in 27 years. It was from the then junior Minister at the Home Office, the right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten). I thought that he was a disgrace to that university town that night. The right hon. Gentleman has never apologised or withdrawn his remarks. He said things that were subsequently proved wrong by a Government statement ; if they were not wrong, the Calcutt inquiry would not have been set up.
Mr. Livingstone : I thank my hon. Friend for reminding me of some of the unkind things that have been said. As someone who has spent 20 years in the London Labour party, it did not seem too bad to me at the time--I have heard worse.
The Army intelligence officer, who interviewed Garland and passed on information to his seniors and to MI5, said :
"We are not talking here about great national secrets, we are talking about covering up a matter concerning a moral issue of the gravest importance : the abuse of young men and officials knowing about it and officialdom apparently, for some reason, doing nothing. That's something that not only shocks and horrifies me, that's something that will shock and horrify in every part of our society and I believe that this issue ... has to be brought out into the open and we have to say these three most difficult words in the English language : we were wrong'--either because it was bungled or because there is some more sinister, conspiratorial reason for covering it up. And I don't know what the reason is but I do know that it was covered up because I put the information in and nobody did anything about it."
Surely someone on the Government Benches can explain what went on to justify that decision not to take action when MI5 was told about the child abuse, and to allow it to continue for another five years. I do not believe that that was a mistake. I do not believe that someone simply filed it away. The abusive way in which the Army intelligence officer was treated by the senior MI5 officer makes it clear that it was not a mistake ; it was an MI5 operation which it did not want blown and wound up.
I do not blame Conservative Members for this, because it all happened years ago, but the cover-up must stop because the people who decided to take no action are guilty of the most appalling crime. They are complicit in the destruction of the lives of young boys, many of whom will never by able to recover or lead normal lives. The sums that are now being handed out in the courts as compensation are irrelevant to the damage that those young men suffered. Elements in MI5 decided to allow what was happening to continue because they felt that it was in the national interest to be able to blackmail Unionist politicians who were involved in the abuse.
I could have made a speech about who might or might not be involved in the abuse. Any hon. Member who travels to Ireland and picks up a copy of a magazine such as Now will read a list of names of the great and the good. I am not prepared to repeat those names in the House because I am not certain that the lists are accurate. We know that several people were involved, but only three men have gone to prison for the continual violent anal rape of young boys at Kincora. I believe that many more leading figures were involved. We know--I wrote about this outside the House last year--that four people who were suspected of abusing those boys died in mysterious circumstances while the RUC was investigating them. Even in terms of the violence that exists in Northern Ireland, it is a remarkable coincidence that people were killed between one interview with the RUC and another.
Column 1177I believe that something absolutely rotten at the heart of the British intelligence services is festering away. As long as I am a Member of the House--or even outside it--I shall continue to keep on about this, because the people who took the decision to allow that abuse to continue are guilty of an appalling crime and they should be exposed for it--not just the three scapegoats. They sought not only to destroy the lives of those boys, but to use what was going on to try to destroy the reputations of Members of this House and of legitimate political organisations. I do not agree with those organisations but they have every right to exist and function in a democratic society. There is no justification for those people continuing to be employed by the British Government in any form whatsoever. It is time that they were exposed.
It is time that the Government stopped waffling and admitted what went on, punished the guilty people and made damn certain that we make changes in the way in which our intelligence services operate so that something like this can never happen again.
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South) : I follow the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), not wishing to travel down the road that he has detailed, but certainly expressing some concern about it. My greatest concern is why the present Administration seem to be continuing to cover up the past. One could perhaps have understood the cover-up if they were responsible but, as they were not, I find it very difficult to understand. I recognise that one difficulty with popular journalism is that there are many false trails and that people were smeared by innuendo and suggestion. The sooner it is cleared up, the better for all.
The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) did not give us one of the finest commando raids when he concluded his speech with some absolutely irrelevant statements and departed, although he apologised for doing so. I believe that it is still one of the conventions of the House that an hon. Member remains in the Chamber until the hon. Member who succeeds him on the Floor concludes his or her speech, and does not simply leave. We all have pressures upon us, and it seems wrong that an hon. Member should pull rank to catch Mr. Deputy Speaker's eye and then depart, leaving the rest of us to carry on the business.
I categorically refute the right hon. Gentleman's innuendoes about the institution of which, for 18 years, I have been privileged to be the Grand Master in Ireland and, for 10 of those years, in the world at large. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the speeches on 12 July. I should like him to provide the evidence. For someone who grew up in the sheltered area of Comber in North Down, the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to know much about the community and the bonds that have bound people over the years, whether they were Orange or Green. It is fascinating that, on the 300th anniversary of the battle of the Boyne, there are still those who differentiate between the Orange and the Green. It shows their bad understanding of history. The Williamite forces wore green to distinguish themselves at the Boyne. Thereafter, they stood for the principles of civil and religious liberty.
That is one reason why I am speaking in this debate. Although Ministers may not be happy to acknowledge it, I happen to believe that in Northern Ireland today we are
Column 1178suffering from as much arbitrary power and tyranny as James I sought to impose upon this nation and upon Ireland at that time. We in this land have the privilege of parliamentary constitutional government. As it comprises human beings--male and female-- it is not necessarily perfect, but until we get a better system, it is the one that I favour.
I stand here with a sense of regret in two respects. Perhaps events have proved me right and we have not had the detailed statement that some people thought we would have--the press certainly speculated that that was what we would have today. You will remember, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and colleagues who have read Hansard will know, that at business questions last Thursday I urged that a detailed statement should not be made and that, because of the sensitivity of the discussions, it would be better if a document were circulated among the party leaders concerned so that there might be a considered response.
I am happy that the response in this debate has, to a large extent, been balanced and sober. My fears of last week have not been realised, but there is a road block. As I understand the vibrations and the drums that beat throughout the land, it appears that the breach came from Dublin. When I heard about it, I was reminded of something that happened some years ago in Dublin when the then Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Ryan, said to me, " I have always said to the Government here that if they were serious about Irish unity, they would build a better road towards Belfast". It appears that today they have joined the IRA in putting a road block between Dublin and Belfast. That is their responsibility, and history will judge them on it. I hope that the Secretary of State, who has gone down that road of negotiation, and paid tribute to those who have been engaged on it, will continue to move down that road.
I should like to put the record straight. It seems to me that, because we in Ulster have clearly said no to the Anglo-Irish diktat, some people say that we are absolutely negative. Since 1987 and the general election, the leaders of the Unionist people have been in regular touch with the Secretary of State. Indeed, the previous Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. King), who is currently Secretary of State for Defence, received a document, but it was obvious either that somebody in the Northern Ireland Office was unable to read or that the Northern Ireland Office has developed the secrecy of MI5 or MI6. It was suggested at one stage that it did not have the document. There was much good-humoured discussion about whether we should have literacy classes to help them to read it. If it had been written in my handwriting, I could have understood the difficulty, but that could not have been the problem because the document came from others.
Subsequently, the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has had conversations and discussions with the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) and the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), seeking to be positive and to restore a form of democratic rule to Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, but holding out the hand of friendship, which we have done more than once to those who seceded from us.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) is missing. I understand why he had to leave and I knew that he was leaving. He treated us to the concept of
Column 1179Europe. We are prepared to play our part in Europe. Some of us are not terribly keen on certain movements that are taking place in Europe, but we have sought to play our part in various ways. However, our neighbours have not been prepared to play in the spirit of neighbourliness. As a result they have again put road blocks on the intermixing of people from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
We are told that one of the poorest areas of Northern Ireland is Newry, and the House has been berated regularly for not putting industry and so on into Newry. However, when people from Dundalk, Drogheda and even Dublin travelled across to Newry to shop we were told that it drained the Exchequer of the Republic. Against European regulations the Republic pulled down the shutters. Even when the courts in Europe said that it was wrong, it continued to filibuster in an attempt to look after its self-interest. That is fair enough, if it is open about it But when we look after our self -interest we are told that we are bad boys and we should not do it.
In 1921 in the island of Ireland, in keeping with the pattern that was prevalent at the time, the people were given a choice. The people of Northern Ireland said that they wanted to remain within the United Kingdom, but the people of the Republic said that they wanted to leave. A council of Ireland was set up. The Unionists ofNorthern Ireland appointed delegates, but the peopleof the Republic of Ireland refused to appointdelegates. Ever since, we have been maligned for various reasons.
I appreciate why the hon. Member for Brent, North
Rev. Martin Smyth : Yes. Brent, North is across the way. I appreciate why the hon. Gentleman paid tribute to the RUC. Even in the worst days of 1969, with less than its establishment of staff because it had played fair by the laws of the land and reserved places for members of the Catholic community, the RUC acted impartially. Whoever broke the law was on the receiving end of the RUC's actions. The RUC sought to investigate the case to which the hon. Member for Brent, East drew our attention. They exercised their rights within the law in other cases. As the RUC is made up of human beings, I do not doubt that some of its members acted amiss. When we achieve a perfect society we shall have joined the Prime Minister in her expectation of twanging the harp. I do not expect to achieve a perfect society this side of eternity but, with the imperfect circumstances that pertain, we must consider other matters. I am glad that it has been clearly demonstrated that obstructions were not created by Ulster Unionist leaders. Suggestions have been made in the media that my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley has constantly changed the goalposts. Our election manifesto and every statement that we have made show that we have not changed an iota of our pattern of policy. We sought to negotiate. The London and Dublin Governments said that there could be no change to the agreement. We sought to persuade them to change it. They said that to do so it would be necessary to suspend the workings of the
Column 1180Anglo-Irish Conference. There are those in Northern Ireland who say, "Hang the whole bunch ; we should not have them near the place." The reasonable request of Ulster Unionist leaders was that the working of the conference be suspended. It would have been an absolute abomination--Ministers will confirm this--to have men and women sitting round a table discussing the future of Northern Ireland when the helicopter was coming in or, what is even worse, when they left the conference a well- known journalist would stick his microphone in their faces to find out what their reaction was to Mr. Collins's or Mr. Haughey's visit to Northern Ireland. It would be nonsensical and the atmosphere would be wrong. We have maintained that position. The House has been lectured for 10 years on the market economy and value for money. Ulster Scots would say that if the job of the secretariat was to staff the working of the conference and the conference did not work, the secretariat should be dismissed because it did not give value for money. Those are the three things for which we have asked and we have not changed those requests. We have not changed the goalposts.
Northern Ireland has had 16 years of direct rule. As a Unionist, I would not mind if it were direct rule. People say that it is a second-best solution. None of us wants second best ; I want the best. There is something wrong with a Parliament that allows civil servants in Northern Ireland to escape the scrutiny that we demand of civil servants in the rest of the Kingdom. Whether they are Northern Ireland bred and based civil servants or those who are seconded for a period, like Ministers, they should be under the scrutiny of the House.
There is no reason why there should not be a Northern Ireland Select Committee. Let us get away from the nonsense that if there were devolved government in the Province we would not need a Select Committee. There will always be issues which affect the House and which require the scrutiny of the House. There is no reason for any further delay. I should like the Secretary of State to read over some of the answers that the Lord President has given me on the matter. He said that I should speak to the Secretary of State. My hon. Friends are speaking to him. As I understand the working of the House, it is not the job of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to create a Select Committee. It is for the Lord President to move a motion on behalf of the Procedure Committee. That will be done in due course to establish a Select Committee on Social Security. I plead that we should stop drifting in so-called direct rule. Let us have a Select Committee of hon. Members to monitor what is going on with greater scrutiny.
The hon. Member for Foyle dreamed dreams and saw visions. I could do the same. Our neighbours have a view of history that is debatable. Yorkshire miners and other people were abused by the landlords in Yorkshire at the same time as my family and others were abused by landlords in Ireland. It is far too simplistic a view of history to say that the bad English were oppressing the Irish. Thousands upon thousands of people from the Republic of Ireland are voting with their feet and coming back into the Kingdom. I suggest that the Labour Front-Bench spokesmen's support for devolved administration for the regions would be a way forward. The Labour party may not yet have my vision of a federal solution for the islands, but ultimately that will be the way
Column 1181forward. Few people in the Republic of Ireland will argue against that when they have already crowned Jack Charlton an honorary Irishman.
Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster) : Hon. Members on both sides, including the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), have raised important issues which need investigating. I hope that, in view of the representations that have been made, the Government will carry out the fullest possible in-depth inquiry so that the full facts and the truth may be revealed.
As we debate this extension measure dating from 1974, it is clear that the way in which we legislate for the people of Northern Ireland is disgraceful. Vital issues affecting the lives of the people there do not receive sufficient consideration. Having said that, I must admit, as I look round the Benches on both sides of the House, that we have adequate debating time today for Northern Ireland affairs. That is happening only because so few hon. Members want to take part in the debate.
That will not be the case on future occasions--for example, at Northern Ireland Question Time, which is prime television time. On those occasions, hon. Members will crowd into the Chamber, trying to remove the fire from the remarks of hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland constituencies. It is to be hoped that there will be fewer planted questions, even from Conservative Members.
I note, as I speak of planted questions in those terms, that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland shakes his head in dissent. Does he really believe that the Government have never even thought of using that tactic? I assure him that I have seen pieces of paper with questions written on them being handed by certain hon. Members to other hon. Members, the former asking, "Will you please sign this, and it can go in for Question Time?"
Rev. Ian Paisley : My hon. Friend will be aware that, even though hon. Members representing constituencies in Northern Ireland may hand in their questions first, they never appear first on the Order Paper for Question Time. Indeed, some of them never even appear among the listed questions. Of all questions that are asked, the House should be interested in hearing from hon. Members who represent constituencies in Northern Ireland. I am not suggesting that other hon. Members should not have an opportunity to ask questions, but Northern Ireland hon. Members should have their questions called if those questions are handed in on time.
Rev. William McCrea : I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention. He will agree, however, that hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland constituencies would be delighted to know that other hon. Members in all parts of the House were deeply interested in the internal affairs of all parts of Her Majesty's domain, including Northern Ireland. Irrespective of prime television time, it is a shame that, for this debate, the Benches are so unoccupied. The public who see the television screening of the debate will appreciate that for themselves. They will also realise that many hon. Members do not care about the problems of the people of Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State said that he owed the House an account of the Government's stewardship in Northern
Column 1182Ireland over the past year. The facts of that stewardship should be drawn to everyone's attention, and that is why we need full debates regularly on matters affecting the people of Northern Ireland. In that connection, we should have the same privilege as other hon. Members of tabling amendments to legislation affecting the people of Northern Ireland.
That is why I agree with the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) that there should be a Northern Ireland Select Committee, in which we could scrutinise in depth what is happening in the various Departments. After all, it is time that questions were put to civil servants about what is going on. Although we have the front men--the Ministers--we should be able to question civil servants on issues affecting the Province, for they are beavering away in the background. May we have an assurance tonight that such a Select Committee will be established and that instead of the Order in Council procedure, which is a despicable and deplorable way of legislating for the people of part of the United Kingdom, we will have a proper forum in which to discuss all relevant issues in depth?
I join other hon. Members in commending the Secretary of State for the way in which he has endeavoured to make progress in Northern Ireland. I listened with interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) commend the efforts of the Secretary of State. Although I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman has acted, and will continue to act, with courtesy and refreshing honesty, members of the Northern Ireland Office have been beavering away with private press releases, press conferences and interviews with members of the press, seeking to undermine the elected leaders of Ulster Unionism. That has been a despicable action on the part of members of the press corps in the Northern Ireland Office. They would be better employed putting out propaganda to benefit the Province, rather than seeking to undermine the leadership of Ulster Unionism.
The elected leaders of the Unionist parties in the House have the backing of the members of their parties for the stand that they have made for Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. All the underhand efforts of those little, despicable men and women in the Northern Ireland Office will not destroy the character and integrity of the leaders of Ulster Unionism.
I urge the Government to tell certain people in that press corps to get on with the business of projecting a bright future for Northern Ireland across the world, instead of adopting a negative attitude, trying to backstab those who are in the front line and who, through the ballot box, represent the will and wishes of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland.
When the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) spoke about unemployment, he referred to the situation in Ballymurphy. I am not suggesting that that area does not have an unemployment problem. I want all the people in our Province, and throughout the United Kingdom, to enjoy productive employment. But I remind the hon. Gentleman that not only Ballymurphy suffers from high unemployment. We in Mid-Ulster have massive unemployment--the second-highest in the United Kingdom.
I urge Her Majesty's Opposition to look wider than particular Nationalist areas. Let us consider not whether a person is a Nationalist or a Unionist when we debate
Column 1183unemployment. Let us ensure that the people of Mid-Ulster, be they Protestants or Roman Catholics, have jobs. I am sure that the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) will agree that everyone in the Province has a right to a job.
The Secretary of State spoke about encouraging employment, and to that end we have had visitors from Japan, France and the rest. But if he studies the figures carefully he will find that not much employment has been brought to Mid-Ulster or west of the Bann. It is essential that the Government encourage employment in those areas west of the Bann which are suffering massive unemployment, for example, Castlederg. It has also suffered more from terrorism than any other area of equivalent size in the United Kingdom. The people there are terrorised by merciless IRA attacks from over the border. That is fact, not rhetoric. The IRA terrorists come from over the border, carry out their terrible acts and then return to their safe haven in the Irish Republic until they desire to move again. Once again, I beg the Government to look afresh at the needs of my constituents. That is what stewardship in Northern Ireland is all about. People have an urgent need for a job, but it does not follow, as some would maintain, that because they have no job they turn to terrorism. That is an excuse for terrorism. In my constituency of Mid-Ulster, neither Protestants nor Roman Catholics turn to terrorism because they lack employment. However, it would be a major benefit for my constituents to have a job to go to in the morning. There is nothing more refreshing than to rise in the morning, go out and do a good day's work and, one hopes, receive respectable payment for it at the end of the week. That would benefit not only my constituents but the community as a whole.
The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North spoke about the Fair Employment Act. The impression given today and in previous debates is that discrimination is endured by only one section of the community. It is interesting that Newry and Mourne council has been accused of discriminating against its Protestant community, yet the SDLP is the major group on that council. It is also interesting to note that not one SDLP Member is present for this important Northern Ireland debate. I accept that the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) has had to leave to attend to other business, but others could have been present to deal with this important matter.
The SDLP and the Nationalists were in control of Strabane council for many years, and Protestants were discriminated against by that council. It is easy for people to identify a particular religious group and claim that it is being discriminated against. I do not agree with discrimination against a person. A person should not get a job because of his religion, nor should he be denied a job because of his religion.
The head of the Fair Employment Agency, Mr. Bob Cooper, came to Magherafelt district council, on which I had the honour to serve for some 17 years, during which time the SDLP was in control for 12 years and the Unionists for four years. A report on that council accused Magherafelt council, under the control of the SDLP, of discriminating against Roman Catholics. We have not yet had Mr. Cooper's final report, but it has emerged from his inquiries that for 16 years, 12 of them under the SDLP, the
Column 1184only years during which there was fair employment were--wait for it--the four years when I was chairman and the Unionists were in control. I make it abundantly clear that I and my party believe that every person has a right to a job, irrespective of who that person is and from what community he comes. I am delighted that scrutiny showed that when the Unionist family was in control of Magherafelt council there was fair employment for all. There will be no praise from the Government for Magherafelt council for those years under Unionist control, and Mr. Cooper will also be strangely silent on that. I could deal with many aspects of the Government's future, but I must deal with an important matter which has affected my constituents since November 1985 and which was dealt with by the Secretary of State in the second part of his address--the Anglo-Irish Agreement and what is to happen now.
Most of us, on coming to the House today, expected that the Secretary of State would tell us that we were moving forward and that things were progressing. But that is not the case. We are told that optimism has turned to pessimism or, to use other words that we have heard today, that the optimism has been blighted. The reality is that the southern Government have once again vetoed a statement from the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State did not make the statement that he intended to make today because of the veto of a foreign Government.
I have been a Member of the House for eight years and during that time I have heard many boasts about Parliament's sovereignty. It is strange that, despite all the boasting, the Secretary of State could not make the speech to the House of Commons that he intended to make because of the desire of the leader of a foreign country to veto progress in Northern Ireland. People in Northern Ireland are sickened by the interference from Dublin in the affairs of our part of the United Kingdom. Let it be abundantly clear that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. That is the stance of the people of Northern Ireland. By entering into an alliance with a foreign Government through the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Government have changed that. I do not have the same rights as every other citizen within the United Kingdom. What is happening in my part of the United Kingdom is not happening in every other part.
The Secretary of State told us today that the Anglo-Irish Agreement confirms the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. That is not true. Article 1 states :
"Any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only come about with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland." As my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North said, that status is one thing in Dublin but quite another in this House and in the United Kingdom. If the Government believe that we are misinterpreting the agreement, why not test it in the European Court, in the light of all that has happened such as the McGimpsey case in Dublin?
If the Government believe that they are right, surely they would be delighted to prove it. Nothing would please them better than proving that our interpretation was wrong. I genuinely believe that the Government do not believe what they are saying, so they are misleading the House by declaring that the Anglo-Irish Agreement
Column 1185secures Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom. It does nothing of the sort ; it allows a foreign Government to meddle in the affairs of Northern Ireland.
I listened carefully to the considered speech of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). He asked whether a new agreement would need the widespread support of both sides of the community in Northern Ireland. Why did not the Government seek that widespread support for the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Why did not the Government want to find out whether the people of Northern Ireland oppose the Anglo-Irish Agreement? Why not put it to the people? They must accept that I and other Unionist Members were elected on a platform of opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
We were told that the agreement would be judged on three criteria--peace, stability and reconciliation. That was not how we said it would be judged ; that was the stance of Mr. Garret FitzGerald, who entered into the agreement with our Prime Minister. He is from the south of Ireland. We must judge it on peace, stability and reconciliation. The Government know well that there is no widespread support for the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
In his statement, the Secretary of State said that there was no reason why the present agreement should be the last word. The Government know that it is opposed by the people of Northern Ireland. They say that if a better agreement which commanded widespread support from both sides of the community in Northern Ireland were to be reached, it would be an important step forward. Therefore, any alternative to the agreement must command widespread support. If the current agreement is to stand, should not it also command widespread support from both sides of the community in Northern Ireland? The reason why the Unionist view was not sought at the time the agreement was entered into was that the Government had bought the SDLP line--to face down the Unionists. The leader of the SDLP said that. Reconciliation was not a consideration, only facing down the Unionist population. No matter how long the agreement stands, the Government must realise that it will never be accepted, and anyone who suggests that it will be is deceiving both himself and the House.
Mr. Dalyell : Some of us care deeply about what happens in the north of Ireland. To the dismay--indeed, minor annoyance--of our colleagues, we voted against the agreement. I have no regrets. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman did not mean it, but he appeared to label everyone generically as having voted in favour of it. That is not fact : I voted against it.
Rev. William McCrea : I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. A small number of hon. Members--47 out of 650--voted against the Anglo-Irish Agreement. However, it was forced upon the people of Northern Ireland by the vast majority of hon. Members. Many hon. Members came to the House when the vote was called, not having listened to the arguments or the debate. They were the usual Lobby fodder and they forced through the agreement. Both the Government and the Opposition believed that they could force it upon the people of Northern Ireland, who they thought would huff and puff, but whose resistance would disappear. If those hon. Members wish to be honourable before this House, they must admit that they were mistaken, first, about the opposition to the agreement and, secondly, in thinking
Column 1186that it could be forced upon the people of Ulster under the disguise of democracy. Some 600 hon. Members voted to force it upon the people of Northern Ireland, against their will, and that is called democracy.
The people of Northern Ireland oppose the agreement. I am delighted that the Government, at this late stage, appear to recognise that fact. The Secretary of State now accepts that the agreement is not working and cannot work and that an alternative must be sought. The Unionist population are willing earnestly to consider that. They are willing to play their part, as the Government acknowledge. After the agreement was signed, the Prime Minister stated that it could be devolved away. There were people in the Northern Ireland Office who sold to the Prime Minister something that was not reality because it cannot be devolved away. The people of Northern Ireland have a democratic right to oppose that obnoxious agreement and to seek something that is durable, practical and constructive.
Yesterday evening I watched the television hoping that the English football team would win and today I read in the papers about the disappointment and the tears of despair on the faces of the players. I honestly believe that Members of Parliament do not fully understand the tears of despair that have been shed by the innocent people of Northern Ireland who have suffered a terrible campaign of destruction and murder.
My constituents have suffered as much as if not more than most. The other day, I walked behind the coffins of two policemen. I spoke to their widows and sought to bring them some comfort and succour in their hour of need. I stood there having suffered the ravages of the IRA within my own family. I ask hon. Members, whenever they think about despair, to think about the way forward and to remember that all the settlements and constitutional talks one could ever conceive of will never talk away the Provisional IRA. Its members are roaming at will in my constituency. They are blowing up businesses and have been blasting and scattering bodies across my constituency for the past 20 years.
Few hon. Members have visited the homes of widows, met their children and experienced the tragedy for themselves. Although I do not doubt the sincerity of those who sympathise, widows are sick to the teeth of sympathy from people who have the power to allow a campaign of military might against the IRA and to bring about the defeat of those who are terrorising the community.
The Prime Minister said that it was her desire to eradicate terrorism. Twenty years on I ask the Minister, without beating about the bush, to tell me and my constituents, the widows and the intended widows, when the nightmare of terrorism will end. With all respect to the leaders of my party, the Official Unionist party, the SDLP and Ministers, if anyone in the House thinks that a constitutional settlement tomorrow will wipe out the IRA, he has been fooled. The IRA is embedded in the community and the only way to defeat terrorism is to root it out of the community and to allow every decent citizen, Protestant and Roman Catholic, to live in peace, enjoy stability and to have lasting and real reconciliation.