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House of Commons

Thursday 14 November 1991

The House met at half-past Two o'clock


[Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]


London Underground (Safety Measures) Bill

[Lords] Read the Third time and passed, with amendments. London Underground (King's Cross) Bill Considered ; to be read the Third time.

Oral Answers to Questions


Constitutional Reform

1. Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals concerning constitutional reform he plans to discuss with representatives of the Irish Government and the political parties of Northern Ireland ; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Peter Brooke) : It remains our objective to transfer substantial power and responsibility to locally elected politicians on a widely acceptable basis within a framework of stable relationships. To this end, the talks held earlier this year were constructive and valuable and, I believe, laid a useful foundation for further developments. I am currently in contact with the four main constitutional parties and with the Irish Government to establish whether a basis for fresh political talks can be found.

Dr. Godman : Will you allow me, Mr. Speaker, briefly to offer my deepest sympathy, by way of a supplementary question, to the families of those who were so horrifically murdered or injured both yesterday and today in Belfast? Do not these apparently daily murders make plain and stark the need for political developments to take place? In the short run, however, will the Secretary of State tell the House whether it is his intention to set a time limit beyond which talks will not be pursued by Her Majesty's Government until after the next general election?

Mr. Brooke : I am sure that the whole House will welcome the sympathy, which I endorse, that has been expressed by the hon. Gentleman to the families concerned.

I share the hon. Gentleman's view that talks on political development constitute a contribution to moving towards stabilisation and peace in the Province. We are continuing to explore with the parties. I have not yet concluded the

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exploration, and I think that it would be a mistake for me to make any premature statement about our next intentions, but I shall keep the House informed.

Rev. Ian Paisley : Will the Secretary of State take it from me that the people of Northern Ireland will appreciate his expressions of sympathy and those of the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman), directed to those who suffered in the terrible massacre that took place last night and to the relatives of the person who was murdered this morning?

When the Secretary of State sees the Republican representatives again, will he put to them the revulsion that was felt by the Unionist community and by a large section of the Roman Catholic community in Northern Ireland when Mr. Haughey attempted to foist into the Anglo-Irish Conference a new Minister for Defence? It is clear from the man's record that he was an ally of a man who escaped from Northern Ireland and who is wanted in Northern Ireland to pay part of the price for the crime that he committed. He was found guilty of attempting to murder an Ulster Defence Regiment man.

Mr. Brooke : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his opening expression of sympathy. I should say in the context of the working of the Anglo-Irish Agreement that at no stage during the time that I have been Secretary of State has the Minister for Defence for the Republic of Ireland taken part in the conference.

Mr. William Ross : What protest did the Government make to the Dublin authorities about the attempt to get Dr. James McDaid into such a key position? Would the Secretary of State have been prepared to sit at the same table-- [Interruption.] I repeat, would the Secretary of State and his colleagues have been prepared to sit at the same table with that man, within the confines of the Anglo-Irish Agreement? If not, how could they have avoided it?

Mr. Brooke : I shall first answer the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question. I have just said that at no stage during the time that I have been Secretary of State has the Irish Defence Minister taken part in any conference talks. On the first part of the question, events moved so rapidly in Dublin last night that by the time that I had heard that the Minister had been appointed, I gather that he had also resigned.

Mr. Kilfedder : Devolution may in due course come to Northern Ireland, but before it arrives do not the Government have it in their power, at a stroke, to restore some degree of democracy to the people of Ulster by establishing a Select Committee? I appeal to the Secretary of State not to deny the people of Ireland the basic and fundamental right of full democracy.

Mr. Brooke : Later I will have the privilege of answering a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on that matter. I assure the hon. Gentleman that it is a subject in which I take the keenest interest.

Mr. Hume : Does the Secretary of State agree that it is quite outrageous that people should stand up in this Chamber and attack the character of someone who is not here to defend himself? I am the only Member of this House who knows Dr. James McDaid-- [Interruption.] Hon. Members should listen for a change. Dr. McDaid's

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constituency and mine are separated by the border, so we work together on common issues. I categorically state that that man in no way supports the IRA or any paramilitary organisation.

Given the stark position on the streets of Northern Ireland, is it not the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility to set a date for the reconvening of talks, so that they can begin where they ended? Whatever difficulties individual parties may have with resuming talks, are they not put well into the shade by the stark reality of events on the streets?

Mr. Brooke : The House will have heard what the hon. Gentleman said about his parliamentary neighbour. On the question of reconvening the talks, I said consistently in the summer that our talks had concluded and that we would need to re-examine the basis for fresh talks. I think that the hon. Gentleman will know what I mean when I say that in the context of coming towards the end of a particular available time, whether it is the time for talks or the time for a general election, there is reluctance among certain parties--and I make this remark generally--to turn their cards face upwards if there is any danger that other people will not have turned their cards face upwards by the time the whistle blows.

Mr. Adley : Does my right hon. Friend accept that as time moves so does opinion on this matter in England, Scotland and Wales? If there is to be detailed discussion of constitutional change, does he accept that the politicians who represent constituencies in England and Scotland and Wales will need to be consulted, and that he may well find that opinions have shifted substantially since the House last discussed the issue?

Mr. Brooke : I know that my hon. Friend will understand if I say that I had some difficulty in persuading everybody to come round a table when I was talking only to the parties in Northern Ireland. If I were to bring in everybody else within the United Kingdom, it might be some time before we foregathered.

Mr. McNamara : Does the Secretary of State agree that there is no romanticism or glory in shooting babies--or, indeed, shooting and murdering anyone? As the whole House has shown this afternoon, recent events in Belfast have considerably underlined the need for the political leaders within the Province to come together to find some solution to the problems that is acceptable throughout both communities and within the island of Ireland?

The right hon. Gentleman said that the previous set of talks had concluded, and that we were looking at the new basis for talks. Will he take this opportunity to confirm that it is the three strands that will form the basis of any future talks, and that against that background there will always be the Anglo-Irish Agreement, until the two Governments feel that they have something that transcends it?

Mr. Brooke : I share the hon. Gentleman's views in the context of the six-week-old baby, just as I do in the context of the children in the school playground who were under threat this morning when the attack was made on the taxi driver. As to coming together for further talks, I think that I speak for all those who were involved in the talks in the summer, which we concluded, when I say that those who took part in them felt that they were valuable and looked forward to the possibility of being able to hold talks again.

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It was further agreed that their structure, and the basis on which we conducted them, was a sensible way of covering all the questions which are at issue.

Transport Workers (Security)

2. Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he has taken to enhance the security of taxi drivers and other transport workers in the Province.

Mr. Brooke : My hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham) has recently announced changes in the regulations and administrative arrangements governing taxis. Those are aimed at reducing the risk of terrorist attack to both drivers and passengers while, in the public interest, continuing to allow the easy identification of legitimate taxis and drivers.

Mr. Barnes : The terrible attack on a taxi driver in St. Mary's primary school yard today, which also affected the school children within that area, must be condemned and sympathy should be expressed to everyone who has been affected by this terrible act.

Representations have been made to the Secretary of State via the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union on behalf of taxi drivers. There might be no ready and easy solution to the problems that taxi drivers face, but there are those, such as the Peace Train organisation, who have taken up the taxi drivers' case and are concerned to alter public opinion and attitudes generally in Northern Ireland. It is that, along with political and economic change which, in the long run, will bring about a change in the situation.

Mr. Brooke : With regard to the incident this morning, we do not know at this stage whether the injured man was operating a taxi or not. However, it is clear that he was not displaying a taxi roof sign. In any event, the new regulations cannot eliminate the risk to taxi drivers. They may reduce the risk of attack, but they cannot prevent random sectarian murders.

On the hon. Gentleman's further point, although we have conducted an interim review of the regulations we shall be conducting a wider one. I pay tribute to him for his support for the Peace Train.

Mr. Molyneaux : As the Secretary of State rightly said, it is pretty well impossible to protect people in a particular occupation. With a view to improving the security of all occupations, does the Secretary of State agree that there is an urgent need to aim for a common sentencing policy throughout the United Kingdom? Given the reluctance of some courts to convict on forensic evidence and the fact that terrorists do not usually leave a signed visiting card at the scene of the crime, will it not become more and more difficult to obtain convictions?

Mr. Brooke : I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on the importance of forensic evidence in cases in Northern Ireland about which we are all aware. However, I assure him that the resources of the Government forensic services are being increased and streamlined to meet that need. I am not precisely sure that I know what the right hon. Gentleman had in mind on sentencing policy, but I am happy to engage in exchanges outside.

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Mr. Stanbrook : All terrorist crime is detestable, whoever the victims, but does not my right hon. Friend agree that the recent upsurge of violence has made more urgent the granting of the Chief Constable's request for at least 400 additional men in his establishment?

Mr. Brooke : I share my hon. Friend's analysis of the issue and later this afternoon I shall be announcing in a more detailed answer an increase in the RUC manpower establishment of 441 extra policemen.

Rev. Martin Smyth : Does the Secretary of State agree that most politicians and Church leaders have asked that there should be no tit-for- tat shootings? However, will the right hon. Gentleman accept from me, speaking as the Member of Parliament for Belfast, South, that those engaged in terrorism are not inclined to listen to such appeals, and that the security situation must be dealt with? We sympathise with victims in north Belfast, with those in south Belfast last evening, and with the driver of the car who was attacked this morning. Does the Secretary of State accept that even the 400 new officers that he has announced will not be deployed primarily in countering terrorism? The Chief Constable's earlier statement that he was deploying a special search squad to deal with loyalist terrorism is itself not very helpful, when the whole of the city of Belfast is left wide open to roaming terrorists from both sides.

Mr. Brooke : I received an assurance today from police and Army commanders that there will be an enhanced security presence in those areas thought to be most at risk in the light of last night's attacks in Belfast. There will be increased RUC patrolling, and two further incident rooms have been established in addition to the special measures introduced by the Chief Constable in north Belfast last month. All possible lines of inquiry are being pursued. The unit to which the hon. Gentleman referred will of course be deployed in the situation that we are now considering.

General Practitioner Budgets

3. Mrs. Gorman : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider extending the opportunity for general practitioners in Northern Ireland to manage their own budgets immediately.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Jeremy Hanley) : I will be issuing next month to every general practitioner in Northern Ireland a prospectus about general practice funds. It will invite expressions of interest in fund holding, which will be available from April 1993.

Mrs. Gorman : Is my hon. Friend aware that there are already 1,700 fund holders in Britain, and that a great many more are in the pipeline? That points to the great success of Conservative health service policies. Does my hon. Friend agree that, now that the Conservative party is formally represented in Northern Ireland and will have candidates in the next general election there, we should remove the anomaly whereby Northern Ireland citizens--who are of course British subjects--have to follow the rest of the United Kingdom? Can he give an assurance that that anomaly will be removed as soon as possible?

Mr. Hanley : Northern Ireland enjoys an integrated system of health and social services care, and therefore

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there are far greater demands on its health boards in dealing with reforms, which do of course bring massive benefits. The boards have to deal both with health reforms themselves and community care reforms. We are just as determined that people in Northern Ireland should benefit from the Government's reforms, including fund-holding practices, and therefore they will be introduced at the earliest possible date.

Mr. Flannery : I hope that both communities in Northern Ireland will unite against any extension of the Government's desire and mania to privatise the health service.--[ Hon. Members :-- "Oh."] I know that Conservative Memberts get upset when that is said, but that is the fact of the matter. We can see that the Government's action is another nasty step towards privatisation, and I hope that both sides in Northern Ireland will unite against it.

Mr. Hanley : I want to make it absolutely clear that general practitioners voluntarily choose to run fund-holding practices and are not forced by the Government to do so--and GPs will take that step only if they can see benefits for their patients. Last year, 300 practices in Britain decided that was the way forward, and another 300 have done so this year. Fund-holding practices are gaining ground in popularity, and patients are certainly enjoying the extra benefits that flow from the GPs' scheme.

Prevention of Terrorism Act

5. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the total number of residents of Northern Ireland who have been questioned under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and (a) subsequently charged and (b) convicted or had an exclusion order placed upon them since 1974.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Dr. Brian Mawhinney) : I regret that it is not possible to provide that information in the form requested.

Mr. Corbyn : It is highly regrettable that the Minister cannot provide information that must be available to the police and to the Northern Ireland Office about the number of people in Northern Ireland who have been questioned under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and subsequently charged and convicted. If the pattern in Northern Ireland is the same as in the rest of the United Kingdom, the Minister will know that the number of persons there subsequently convicted under the Act is very small. Many of us would like to know what happens to the information that is collected during questioning when there is no subsequent conviction. There is clearly a civil liberties aspect to what happens to that information.

Dr. Mawhinney : If the information had been available in the form requested, I should have given it.

Mr. Dickens : Does my hon. Friend agree--unlike the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)--that the Prevention of Terrorism Act is exactly that : a measure to prevent terrorism? Its success is not necessarily based on the number of convictions ; often, it is based on the number of assaults and atrocities that are prevented by the questioning of certain people. That is terribly important. The police, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army save many lives by means of the Act.

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It is not necessary to bring convictions every time, but it is necessary to prevent terrorism. Has the hon. Gentleman not got the message yet?

Dr. Mawhinney : I have certainly got the message. I entirely agree that the Act forms a vital part of the resources needed by the security forces to combat terrorism. I also share my hon. Friend's regret that not every hon. Member appears to understand that.

Mr. Mallon : Despite--or, perhaps, even because of--the horror of terrorism, we must protect and defend the integrity of the law and its enforcement. The Minister will be aware that, in 1989 and 1990, 726 complaints of ill treatment were made. I am allowing for the fact that, in a substantial number of cases, investigations could not be concluded, and many complaints were withdrawn. In some instances, I believe, spurious cases were cobbled together for propaganda purposes.

Is the Minister satisfied that not a single case was substantiated by the independent Police Complaints Commission, or does he share the scepticism of Lord Colville and others, who feel that nought out of 726 does not reflect the world that we in Northern Ireland inhabit?

Dr. Mawhinney : The hon. Gentleman has considerably broadened the original question. He knows--not least because he and I have discussed the matter on a number of occasions--that we take seriously people's right to register a complaint, and that complaints are investigated seriously. He also knows that the Government set considerable store by having in hand arrangements that will inspire confidence across the face of the community in the activities of the security forces and the RUC. We are constantly examining policy in that light.

Mr. John Marshall : Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced by a Government led by Lord Wilson? Is it not unfortunate that, since that time, some members of the Labour party have gone soft on terrorism?

Dr. Mawhinney : My hon. Friend has made his own point with extreme clarity.

Mr. Trimble : I, too, must express slight surprise at the Minister's inability to give the figures that were requested in the original question. Surely it would have been possible at least to give the number of people who had been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and the number of people subsequently charged. If the Minister had given those figures, would they not have shown--especially those relating to the number convicted of terrorist offences--that, over the past decade, there has been a consistent and significant decline in the number of people convicted? Is not that a consequence of the increasing sophistication of terrorist ant- interrogation techniques, such as the ability to destroy forensic evidence? Does not that point to the need to give serious consideration to other methods of dealing with terrorism?

Dr. Mawhinney : I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I must repeat, however, that, if I had had the information in the form in which it was requested, I would have given it.

Mr. McNamara : The House will welcome the Minister's assurance about the protection of people when they are in custody, but unfortunately the Minister's

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perception is completely different from that of the community as a whole. Yesterday, when the Government were defending their postition at the United Nations in Geneva on interrogation procedures and denying that anything untoward was happening, settlements were being awarded in Belfast courts to people who had claimed that they had been assaulted in just those circumstances. Should not the Minister introduce video recording of all interrogations?

Dr. Mawhinney : The hon. Gentleman, uncharacteristically, made a statement which, on reflection, I think he will want to amend. It is not the perception of the whole community in Northern Ireland that the security forces behave in a way that is deliberately detrimental to the rights or interests of various people in the Province. It is important to get that correction--if he will allow me to use that word--on the record. Of course, it is necessary constantly to review policy and constantly to keep in the forefront of our thinking the need for the security forces and the police to have all the resources necessary to do the job that they do on behalf of all of us, the need for which has been so tragically illustrated again in the last 24 hours. At the same time, we must keep in mind the need for the security forces to do that job in a way which not only remains within the law but inspires confidence in the whole community.

Agriculture Ministers

6. Mr. Amess : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the Agriculture Minister in his Department has any proposals to meet the Agriculture Minister of the Republic of Ireland to discuss co-operation.

Mr. Hanley : I regularly met Mr. O'Kennedy, the Republic of Ireland's former Minister of Agriculture and Food, and his Minister of State, Mr. Walsh, to exchange views on a broad range of topics of mutual interest and concern. I look forward to meeting Mr. O'Kennedy's successor, Dr. Woods, so that we can continue this co-operation in the future.

Mr. Amess : I trust that my hon. Friend will agree that co-operation between member states of the European Community is particularly desirable when considering the provision of help to those most in need. To what extent is there co-operation with the Replublic of Ireland to help our rural communities?

Mr. Hanley : In view of the similar social and economic conditions in the border areas of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the potential for co-operation between the two Administrations is considerable. Having established our respective rural development frameworks, we have now set up the cross-border steering committee, which comprises officials of the two Departments responsible for rural development. That committee, which had its first meeting last month, will examine progress on local programmes and will co-ordinate action in response to joint plans developed by the two cross-border communities. I have every confidence, therefore, that Dr. Woods and I will be able to co-operate in resolving the issues referred to us by that committee.

Mr. John D. Taylor : In view of the call by the farmers unions in Scotland and Wales for a ban on the importation

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of Irish beef, has the Minister made any representations to Republican Ministers about the widespread use of clenbuterol, or angel dust, in the Republic?

Mr. Hanley : I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's question. He is absolutely right that putting clenbuterol into animals for slaughter is bad for the reputation of people in general, bad for the reputation of the Republic of Ireland and particularly bad for the reputation of Northern Ireland. We have a clean and green image and produce the healthiest meat possible for consumption and we must do nothing to harm that image. We regularly discuss this matter with the Republic of Ireland, as any deficiency on its part would hurt us, too.


7. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on tourism in the Province.

Mr. Brooke : Very encouraging progress is being made in promoting Northern Ireland as a serious holiday destination, improving the quality of the overall tourist product and increasing the contribution of tourism to economic development. In 1990, a record year, over 1.1 million visitors spent £153 million in Northern Ireland and there was a 40 per cent. increase over 1989 in the number of pure holiday visitors. Projects to increase and improve tourist accommodation and amenities are being developed with assistance from Government, the International Fund for Ireland and the European Community.

Mr. Bruce : I thank my right hon. Friend for that excellent news. Can he comment on the co-operation between the Province and the Republic in marketing the whole island of Ireland to ensure that even more overseas visitors come to that beautiful country?

Mr. Brooke : The number of pure holiday visitors from the Republic increased by over 50 per cent. last year, but the Northern Ireland tourist board is working with Bord Failte on a joint marketing programme designed to increase the number of visitors to the island of Ireland as a whole. With the help of the International Fund for Ireland, the two boards operate a joint Ireland desk in the British Tourist Authority office in London and undertake joint marketing programmes in north America and Europe. Facilities are being developed to exploit the potential in genealogy-based tourism throughout Ireland.

Mr. Beggs : I welcome the Secretary of State's statement and congratulate all those involved in promoting tourism in Northern Ireland. I should like it to be understood that we in Northern Ireland do not expect our tourism promotion to be taken over by Bord Failte. If district councils in Northern Ireland are to have a meaningful role in promoting tourism and job creation within their areas, can the Secretary of State give us an assurance that he will ask the planners to deal more sympathetically with applications that have district council approval for facilities to cater for the tourists who are coming now and the many more that we expect in the future?

Mr. Brooke : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his support for the efforts of those involved and his endorsement of them. It is gratifying that, whereas 10 years ago only one in nine of visitors to Northern Ireland

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was a pure holiday visitor, the figure is now one in five. I shall draw to the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham) when he returns from America the matters concerning district councils and planning.

Rev. Ian Paisley : Further to that supplementary question, will the Minister also have a word with the planners about hotel accommodation, especially in the County Antrim area, and find out why so many obstacles are being put in the way of hoteliers who want to improve their facilities?

Mr. Brooke : I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North is concerned to improve hotel accommodation throughout the Province, so I shall draw the hon. Gentleman's remarks to his attention.

Mr. Jim Marshall : Does the Secretary of State have any further plans for undertaking joint initiatives between the Province and the Republic? Does the Secretary of State accept that the tourist industry in the island as a whole was affected adversely by British Airways' decision to stop the London-Dublin link? Will he give an undertaking to the House that he will have discussions with the chair of British Airways to try to reintroduce that important link between London and Dublin?

Mr. Brooke : I was asked specifically about tourism in Northern Ireland. My understanding is that the decision by British Airways was a commercial one based on the traffic, but I shall discuss that, too, with my hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North when he returns.

Cross-border Security

8. Mr. Cyril D. Townsend : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on cross-border security co- operation between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic.

Dr. Mawhinney : Measures to improve security co-operation, particularly in the border area, are regularly discussed at Anglo-Irish Conference meetings, most recently on 17 October. At that meeting both Governments reaffirmed their determination to work together to enhance security co-operation in every way possible. Close and active security co- operation remains a major objective of the British Government in their discussions with the Irish Government and both Governments are fully committed to achieving further progress.

Mr. Townsend : Will my hon. Friend make sure that close co-operation with the politicians in the south, whoever they may be, remains the keystone of the Government's security policy? Can he confirm that relations between the Chief Constable of the RUC and the Commissioner of the Garda are good and that they meet frequently? Is he satisfied with the present arrangements for hot pursuit?

Dr. Mawhinney : I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He is right to stress the importance of close security co-operation between the two Governments. Relations between the Chief Constable and the Commissioner of the Garda are very good, as are relations between their respective forces.

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Sir Patrick Duffy : Has the Minister noticed the press reports that a member of the Ulster Defence Association inner council has claimed that there could be further cross-border attacks by loyalist paramilitaries--a report that was echoed recently by the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary? Will the Minister therefore continue to give the highest priority to the cross-border security co-operation mentioned in the question?

Dr. Mawhinney : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman and I certainly give him the assurance that he seeks. As he will be aware, for the most part attacks have been going in the direction opposite to that to which he drew attention. We deplore attacks in either direction across the border.

Citizens Charter

9. Mr. Hayward : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the application of the citizens charter to Northern Ireland.

Dr. Mawhinney : Although the principles set out in the citizens charter White Paper apply throughout the United Kingdom, the structures for the administration of public services in Northern Ireland are different from those in Great Britain. Accordingly, when the White Paper was launched in July, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that he would publish a separate Northern Ireland charter. It will usefully reinforce the important principles contained in the White Paper as they will be applied in the Province. The Northern Ireland charter will be launched shortly.

Mr. Hayward : I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Will he confirm that his answer does not imply that the standards applied in Northern Ireland will be different from those in the rest of the United Kingdom?

Dr. Mawhinney : I can certainly offer my hon. Friend and the people of Northern Ireland that assurance.

Mr. Alton : Given the creditable support that the Minister has previously given to integrated education in Northern Ireland, will he ensure that provision is made within the citizens charter to develop integrated education and to facilitate the opportunity for children in Northern Ireland to enter such education? Is not that the best investment that we can make in the long-term future for that troubled area?

Dr. Mawhinney : I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's kind personal comment and for his continuing support over many years for the policy of integrated education. The best possible defence of that policy is that it is now available in statute as a third option which the parents of Northern Ireland can exercise. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the citizens charter and the parents charter which will follow from it in Northern Ireland will not undermine that policy initiative.

Rev. William McCrea : Does the Minister agree that the best right for the people of the United Kingdom under any citizens charter would be the right to live and to go about their daily work without the continual threat of terrorism? We have had 20 long years of murder and destruction in the Province. What can the Minister tell the people of Northern Ireland after a night of carnage in the city of Belfast?

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Dr. Mawhinney : The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that the right to life and to not being molested or attacked is fundamental. He will also know of the bravery and dedication of the security forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary as they have sought to pursue terrorists and those who wantonly break the law. He should also be in no doubt of the effectiveness of that policy bearing in mind the fact that the Chief Constable said recently that more than four out of five terrorist incidents are thwarted and never take place. I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that that is a commendable advance by the RUC and the security forces, although it should not lead to complacency, because we shall not be satisfied until five out of five incidents are thwarted.


10. Mr. Simon Coombs : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the level of expenditure on training in Northern Ireland in 1978-79 ; what is the figure for the current financial year ; and what is the percentage increase in real terms.

Mr. Hanley : Public expenditure on training was £23.4 million in 1978-79 and £90 million in the current financial year, an increase in real terms of 45 per cent. There is also substantial private investment by employers in training for their staff which the Government encourage through the manpower training scheme.

Mr. Coombs : Does my hon. Friend agree that the people of Ulster can only benefit in future from a more highly skilled work force? In that context, are not the figures excellent? Do the figures include expenditure on work experience and, if so, what is that figure?

Mr. Hanley : I thoroughly agree with my hon. Friend that peace in Northern Ireland will be hastened by a healthy economy and by a well- trained work force. As for work experience, I am grateful for the reminder. Action for Community Employment--ACE--is providing an extra £50 million in 1991-92 and 9,850 places of work experience.

Mr. Clifford Forsythe : Does the Minister agree that it is rather pointless to train individuals in any field if, when they are qualified, their qualifications are not properly recognised? For example, when will the Minister reintroduce plumbers' registration in Northern Ireland so that consumers are properly protected?

Mr. Hanley : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. He is one of the greatest plumbers ever elected to the House. I shall raise the issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham), who is currently trying to drum up inward investment into Northern Ireland from north America.

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