House Of Commons
Monday, 29th November, 1971
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will now meet the Welsh Advisory Committee of the Trades Union Congress to discuss the level of unemployment in Wales, in view of the latest figures of redundancies.
Yes, I hope to do so very shortly.
I am pleased to hear that reply, because the position in Wales, with more than 50,000 unemployed and with 15,000 redundancies notified at the end of October last, means that unemployment is now at crisis level. The step taken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman will perhaps correct the impression given, rightly or wrongly, that his inactivity was resulting in the displacement of two generations of Welsh people who sought employment.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have had three meetings with the Welsh T.U.C., and I look forward to having further discussions with it.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in my constituency, some unemployment is already being experienced, and a great deal more is likely in the haulage industry due to the failure of the Government to provide permits to haulage firms to use their lorries on the Continent? Would he be good enough to have a word with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and ask him to look into this problem?
I shall certainly look into the matter and write to the hon. Gentleman.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what special steps he proposes to take to alleviate unemployment amongst young people in Wales.
A lasting reduction in unemployment among young people in Wales can only be brought about by renewed economic growth. We are pledged to achieve this. More immediately I am in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment about the part Wales shall play in the National Association of Youth Clubs scheme which he announced last week.
Does not the Secretary of State appreciate that most of us on this side of the House welcome the initiative of the youth clubs in Wales in this connection? At the same time, in Wales there are 50,000 reasons why we are extremely critical of the Government's unemployment policy. Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman at least accept that he has a special responsibility to the young unemployed in Wales, and would he consider approaching directly public authorities, local authorities, nationalised industries and even private firms urging them to increase the number of apprenticeships?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is very important that there should be an increase in apprenticeships. As he knows, there has recently been a considerable increase in training facilities. I am fully aware of the seriousness of the unemployment situation. That is why I am glad that such massive reflationary Measures, many of which were announced last week, have been taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In view of all these questions about unemployment, has my right hon. and learned Friend noted that in the New Statesman and in Tribune, which are by no means devoted to the support of the present Government, there have been deep criticisms recently about the sharp growth of unemployment in the latter days of the Labour Government? As the present Government also inherited a inflationary situation, does not that explain our difficulty?
If this Government are at fault, it is in their misjudgment of the deep-seated effect of the deflationary policies pursued by the previous Administration and of the effect of the serious wage-cost inflation with which we were left in 1970. That is why the massive and unprecedented reflationary policies announced by my right hon. Friend will be the only answer to the problems we face.
Is not the Secretary of State aware that by dismantling the regional development policy, mainly with the abolition of investment grants, the Government are responsible for what they are doing, which has resulted in 70 per cent. fewer jobs and 50 per cent. fewer industries coming to Wales than a year ago? This is the direct result not of the actions of the C.E.I. or anyone else but of the Government.
The hon. Gentleman is wrong. The regional policies announced by the Government offer a great inducement to industry to go to the areas when there is an upturn in the economy nationally.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that in North Wales at least, one slightly brighter spot in a very grim employment picture is that the whole picture for school leavers has begun to show signs of improvement?
Yes. Although the matter has been serious, I am happy to say that the majority of school leavers are in employment.
Whilst we all accept that there were difficulties during the period of Labour Government, would the Secretary of State explain why more new jobs were created in Wales during a period of deflation under a Labour Government than are now being created in a period of reflation under his Government?
I can explain that. It was because the deflationary policies pursued from 1966 onwards took some time to work through the economy. On top of that there was the unprecedented wage-cost inflation which was left for the present Government when we took over last year.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate he has made of the effect of additional Government expenditure in Wales on overcoming unemployment.
No precise estimate can be made but the additional Government expenditure announced in recent months is designed to improve employment opportunities in Wales substantially.
Is it not a novel doctrine of a so-called considered Government, which the Prime Minister promised, that measures are now being taken without any calculation of their likely effect? Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say how many jobs will be provided by the miserable 5 per cent. of the total amount allocated to Wales in last week's announcement?
The hon. Gentleman is extraordinary in the way he tries to denigrate the major proposals for Wales, the £21 million which comes with the infrastructure, the £9 million extra to be spent on roads and, in addition, the share of the acceleration of the nationalised industry expenditure. The hon. Gentleman tries to make light of that. Clearly, it will mean many jobs for Wales, but it is impossible to be precise about numbers because the jobs will be done by local authorities and many other bodies and it is impossible to get the figures.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the time has come to stop tinkering round the edges of the problem, which is all that the Government have so far done in Wales? Does not he take the view that we must now have a crash programme for employment in Wales?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman heard the figures I gave. These are major additional figures to be spent within the next one and two years.
Cockle Industry, Burry Inlet
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he is aware that the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee is prevented from taking action to reduce the number of oystercatchers in the Burry Inlet, which have a serious detrimental effect on the cockle industry of the area; whether he will consider a scheme to remedy the situation in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy and the National Trust, which own the land there; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. and learned Friend and I are considering this matter further in the light of representations that have been made by the Association of Sea Fisheries Committees. I will inform the hon. Member of our conclusions in due course.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply. I hope he will realise this is an urgent matter. As he will be aware, the Home Office took these birds off the protected list in 1963. In the meantime nothing has been done to control their numbers, with the result that the present figure has reached 22,000, an increase of 25 per cent., within recent weeks. May I appeal to the Minister to do everything possible to bring the parties together so that there is some understanding between all those concerned that it is necessary to save this very important industry which is being threatened?
I am aware of the importance of this, and I think that the hon. Member was at the Welsh Office when the last application was made in August, 1969. We shall certainly let him know as soon as we can what our conclusions are.
Allis Chalmers, Mold
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received in connection with the threatened closure of the Allis Chalmers plant at Mold; and what discussions he has had on this matter.
In addition to the representations made by my hon. Friend, concern has been expressed to me by the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mr. Barry Jones) and by the county council. I hope to discuss this subject with the hon. Members and representatives of the county shortly.
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Will he assure the House that he will maintain the closest possible contact with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry? Time is running out for these people at Allis Chalmers' plant and it is urgent to try to find another employer for the factory.
The Department of Trade and Industry has full details of this factory and will draw the attention of industrialists to it.
European Economic Community
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will ask the Welsh Council to set up a study into shipping facilities from South Wales ports to European countries, as part of the necessary preparation for entry into the European Economic Community.
The council's recent report on "Wales and the Common Market" took shipping facilities into account. I understand that the council has further work in hand.
Is my hon. Friend aware that many South Wales industrialists are dissatisfied with the present cargo shipping facilities to European ports and find it extremely expensive to ship out of East Coast and other ports? Will my hon. Friend do his best to ensure that all possible steps are taken to improve these facilities before we go into Europe?
Certainly, Sir, and I should add that the work being done by the Welsh Council Communications Panel, which will be completed shortly, will also help in this regard.
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that the real inquiry should be into the sell-out of Welsh port interests by the present Conservative Government in authorising the carrying out of the Port of Bristol West Dock scheme, after the scheme had been rejected by the Labour Government on both commercial and technical grounds?
The hon. Gentleman has a short memory. If there had not been a Conservative Government last year, we should have seen the nationalisation of all ports in South Wales.
Local Government Reform
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied that 1st April, 1974, is a realistic date for the commencement of the new structure of local government in Wales; and if he will make a statement.
Yes, Sir. I am satisfied that the timetable I have proposed is realistic and sensible.
But does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman read the WesternMail or consider the concern expressed by many officials of local authorities that this date is too early to enable them to prepare properly? Does he not realise that Mid-Glamorgan, the new county which he has carved out by his surrender to the "Keep Cardiff a Tory Capital" lobby, has no administrative centre of its own and nowhere that the new county authority can meet? Does he expect that authority to ask the eisteddfod authorities for the use of the National Eisteddfod Pavilion as the only place where it can meet?
I have read the article. I notice that the Pontypridd and Llantrisant councils are already starting joint meetings, which I think is very sensible. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it is very important that a timetable should be adhered to. That is certainly the view of all the local authority associations and the staff association. I think that the time table which I have proposed is the right one.
Health And Social Services (Increased Expenditure)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what will be the Welsh share of the recently announced increase of £118 million to be spent in the next four years on health and personal social services.
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) on 23rd November, 1971.—[Vol. 826, c. 352.]
I am grateful for that reply, which I read after I had put down my Question. I welcome the Government's conversion to increased public expenditure, particularly in health and social services. Could the hon. Gentleman ensure that a fairly substantial proportion of this money is reserved for spending on services dealing with the chronic sick and disabled people, particularly on the conversion of houses to meet the special needs of the disabled?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that a great deal of this large increase is to be used for the elderly, the mentally ill and the mentally handicapped, and also for children. Taking into account the extra £5½ million announced last year, special additions amounting to £13 million at present prices have been made available for health and personal social services in Wales since the present Government came into office. This excludes infrastructure money totalling £7 million.
Bala (Growth Town Development)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how much additional money has been offered to Bala Urban District Council for its capital expenditure programme in furtherance of his growth towns policy; and whether he will make a statement.
Capital expenditure incurred by Bala Urban District Council in connection with expansion proposals will be financed in the normal way. I hope to discuss the position of the growth towns in Mid-Wales with hon. Members representing the area and representatives of the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association when I meet them shortly.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the small and ambitious little council of Bala, which was encouraged to double the size of its township, has received a grand total of £450 in additional money towards the programme which the Secretary of State and his advisers set for this corporation? If he has no realistic plans to offer for the council, can he tell its representatives not to bother to come and see him on Thursday, since they could at least use their fare money towards their much-needed rate relief?
I informed the council that I was studying the possibility of widening the application of grants for basic services. This will be discussed at the meeting to which I have referred.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will now pay an official visit to the County Borough of Newport.
I have already paid several official visits to Newport.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that if he were to visit Newport he would find that, within 18 months this once prosperous town has been turned into one of high unemployment, where the latest figures show that 2,339 men are competing for only 82 registered male vacancies? Will he come and explain things to the people of Newport? Then, perhaps, he can be persuaded to resign his office.
I am fully aware of the unemployment figures in Newport. I am also aware that there is great potential there. If I receive an invitation to visit Newport, I shall be very happy to consider it.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will ask the Welsh Council to make a further study of the incentives suitable for industrialists to invest in Wales.
I do not consider it necessary to ask for a further study at this stage but I shall certainly keep the possibility in mind.
In view of the failure of the Government's development area policies, could they not at least try to remedy the situation by allowing industrialists to opt between investment grants and tax allowances where they consider that grants are a superior form of investment incentive?
I disagree with the hon. Gentleman that the Government's regional and development policies have been a failure. In fact, they offer considerable inducements. With growth in the economy in Wales, I have no doubt that they will be a great attraction to industry in the region.
In view of the report published during the weekend about the pessimistic future for manufacturing industry generally, whatever support and incentives are offered, would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that it is time for a radical reappraisal of the whole system of incentives and inducements, and also of the kind of industry which we are trying to get into Wales, in view of the fact that no upturn is likely in manufacturing industry in the next two years?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the massive reflationary policies announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer which are in great contrast to the deflationary policies pursued by our predecessors. There is no doubt that when the economy of the country improves, as it will, Wales will benefit considerably.
Comprehensive Education (Aberdare)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he expects fully comprehensive education to be operating in the area of the Urban District of Aberdare.
Not before 1975.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the present position causes considerable annoyance and embarrassment to my constituents, inasmuch as the constituency is covered by one education executive yet one half of it has comprehensive education and the other half has not? Will he ask his Department to try to persuade the education authority to speed up matters?
As the hon. Gentleman appreciates, it is for the local education authorities themselves to decide their building priorities. I would be ready to consider on its merits within the resources available any firm proposal for the area. I will certainly bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman has said.
Sully Hospital, Glamorgan
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is aware of disquiet caused by the plans of the Welsh Hospital Board among those who have worked at Sully Hospital, Glamorgan, and who have contributed to the reputation of Sully Hospital; and what steps he will take to ensure the continuance of the work which has been carried on at Sully Hospital in recent years.
I considered carefully and sympathetically the representations made by staff and others about the future of Sully Hospital and I am glad to acknowledge the high reputation which the hospital has earned. I look forward to the continuation of this work at the University Hospital of Wales and Llan- dough Hospital where it will be better provided for.
Will my hon. Friend take into account the admirable siting of this hospital, its very attractive and spacious buildings, the quality of its staff and the fact that it is one of the very few Welsh hospitals with an international reputation? In that context, will he reappraise the rather harsh decision of the Welsh Hospital Board, with which my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has tended to agree?
I am afraid that I cannot alter the decision, but I gladly pay tribute to both the staff and the work which has gone on at the hospital. I agree with my hon. Friend about the position and siting of the hospital and join him in wishing the future of this hospital very well indeed.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the percentage of the average income in Wales paid in rent at the present time by tenants of council houses and by tenants of privately owned property, respectively; and what the percentage will be, in both cases, on the basis of the enactment of the proposals contained in the Housing Finance Bill.
No figures are available which show average incomes of council or private tenants, or the average of rents paid. It follows that no forecast can be made on the hon. Member's assumption.
That is a strangely uneducated reply, when one considers that the current average rent in Wales, private and local authority, is £2·18 and that in 1976 it will be £4·18 according to a projection by the Department of the Environment. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that to 67 local authorities an increase of 50 per cent. represents 25 per cent. of the net unrebated rent and that if local authorities do not increase their rents by 1st April next year by the mandatory £1 this will represent in many cases 50 per cent. of the net unrebated rent? Lastly, would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the message of the Bill is that rents will go up and that he and the Secretary of State are guilty of abdication of duty by failing to take a place in the Standing Committee, where the people of Wales would like to see them?
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will study his rather long supplementary question and write to him on it. On the last part of the question, as I said to his hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), this is the first Government who have ever tried to bring common sense into housing finance.
Does the Minister of State mean that his right hon. and learned Friend agreed to this proposal without having any data to enable him to consider what effect this would have in Wales, when his right hon. and learned Friend has said before that he did not think that this would be unduly injurious to Wales? On what was he basing such supposition?
I do not see that that applies to the Question I am trying to answer. The only information is in the form published in the report for 1970 of the family expenditure survey carried out by the Department of Employment. The hon. Gentleman will find a copy of this in the Library.
Local Authority Contracts (Local Labour)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will issue a circular to local authorities in Wales recommending that they stipulate, when placing contracts, that local labour must be employed as far as possible.
No, Sir. Local authorities are fully aware of the employment situation in their districts and the need to take all practicable steps to alleviate problems of unemployment.
I am well aware of the difficulties in this matter, but is my hon. Friend aware that all too often major contracts, particularly construction contracts, placed in areas of high unemployment result in a very large immigration, very often from Ireland, of building labourers? At the end of the process of construction, the result is that the unemployment level is as high as it was before construction began. Is there not some way in which the situation could be remedied?
My hon. Friend will agree that specialist labour has to travel from job to job, but there is considerable scope for contractors to employ local labour in addition to specialist elements. If my hon. Friend has any particular cases in mind on which I could help, I should be grateful if he would let me know.
Perhaps I could help the Minister on this matter. Is it not a fact that most of the immigrant labour comes in when contracts are given to very large firms already contracting in the areas? Is it not true that the hon. Gentleman's Department has encouraged local authorities in Wales to put contracts out to private firms rather than undertake them with direct labour within the local authority?
Whether or not that is so, some 160 local authorities in Wales are at present using direct labour to carry out projects.
M4 (Economic And Social Results)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales, what research has been undertaken by the Welsh Office into the economic and social consequences for South Wales of the completion of the M4.
The decisions to proceed with the various lengths of the M4 were taken after careful examination of all relevant factors. I have no doubt that the motorway will be of considerable economic and social benefit to South Wales.
Is the Secretary of State satisfied that adequate research has been given to what will undoubtedly be the immense impact of the arrival of this motorway, and that adequate planning advice will be available to local authorities and others once the motorway is nearing completion?
Yes, Sir, I am satisfied. These projects are very expensive and I assure my hon. Friend that they were not embarked upon without a very thorough examination of the costs and benefits and the many other implications of having these excellent communications in South Wales.
Is the Secretary of State aware that there is considerable anxiety in the Amman Valley that the road linking Ammanford and its environs with the motorway at Pont Abraham will not be a road of dual carriageway standard? Would the Secretary of State look again at this matter, especially as the Welsh Office indicated at one time that it would be a dual carriageway?
I shall certainly look at this and write to the hon. Gentleman.
Cambrian Coast Railway
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many deputations he has received in connection with his responsibility for grant-aiding the Cambrian Coast railway line; and whether he will make a statement.
One. I have brought this and the many other representations about the future of the line to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment with whom the responsibility for grant-aiding lies. The next stage will be a further public hearing by the Transport Users Consultative Committee in February.
Is the Secretary of State aware, if he has read the report of the Transport Users Consultative Committee, that the committee specifically stated in that report that it could not imagine alternative bus services being made available on this route? If that was its first report, is the Secretary of State trying to bully this T.U.C.C. to change its mind and bring in a favourable report?
No, Sir. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have no intention of bullying the T.U.C.C. or anyone in respect of their views about this line. The reference to the T.U.C.C. is entirely without prejudice to the ultimate decision on closure proposals. The intention is to consider information which was not available when the committee held its earlier inquiry.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what recent dis- cussion he has had with the British Steel Corporation concerning the future operations of the steel industry in Wales.
I am in close touch with developments and I will be personally meeting the Deputy Chairman later this week.
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that there is considerable uncertainty and low morale amongst steel workers in Wales at present? Will he appreciate that the industry has not been helped by the hullaballoo over hiving-off operations and the Government's intentions concerning price increases and about holding up investment plans? Will he prevail upon the British Steel Corporation to discourage rumours prevalent at present of investment by the corporation in a green-field site on the Continent, when we have available green-field sites in South Wales?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Joint Steering Group is at present engaged on part two of the review—that is, the financial and economic implications of B.S.C.'s long-term development; and when the group's report is made, many of the anxieties that the hon. Gentlement has mentioned will be allayed.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there is a great deal of anxiety in the Wrexham constituency about the Brymbo steelworks and the continuance of that works in the orbit of the British Steel Corporation? Will he ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to decide once and for all whether the works should stay in the B.S.C.? Has the fall-off in production, when the works are already well below operating capacity, anything to do with the fact that the proposed buyer is a major customer?
I am aware of the importance of the steelworks to the part of Wales to which the hon. Gentleman refers. These decisions are being considered at present within the long-term financial review.
Pembrey Bambing Range
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations have been made to the Welsh Office in connection with the decision to continue using the Pembrey bombing range; and what reply has been sent.
Apart from the hon. Member's letter of 9th November to which my hon. Friend the Minister of State replied on 23rd November, Llanelli Rural District Council has also made representations. It has been informed that I have accepted the need for the continued use of the Pembrey range for the reasons given in a letter sent by the Ministry of Defence to the clerk of the council on 15th November.
Is the Secretary of State aware that not only in the area of Pembrey and Kidwelly but throughout Carmarthenshire, there is great concern regarding low-flying aircraft? Apart from the economic consequences of this decision—there is no economic benefit to the county, and Carmarthenshire receives more than its fair share of this activity—will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that despite this decision, there will be no increase in the amount of such low-flying activity and that it will be brought to an end as soon as possible? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman further ensure that the people who benefit from this decision will be those bearing the brunt of the low-flying aircraft activity?
The level of activity at Pembrey will remain as it is now. As to the value to Carmarthenshire, continued use is necessary in association with Brawdy. An important factor is to ensure the civilian employment at Brawdy.
Will my hon. and learned Friend make it abundantly clear that Pembrey and the Royal Air Force base at Brawdy that it will serve will make an immensely important contribution to employment and the economy of the area, and ensure that this latest Socialist threat to employment in my constituency is firmly repudiated?
Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend that that is important. It is by the use of Pembrey that one can assure continuation of civilian employment at Brawdy.
Has the Welsh Office given any consideration to the effect of the continuation of this bombing range on the plans of local authorities to establish a countryside park within the area, which would help to improve the amenities and be of great benefit to the area?
Yes, Sir. Continued use of Pembrey range should not jeopardise the countryside park project.
Glamorgan Coastline (Pollution)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he will take to improve arrangements for the disposal of sewage and industrial waste along the Bristol Channel seaboard of Glamorgan, to ensure improvement in the cleanliness and condition of the beaches and the tidal waters.
Major schemes costing £10 million have been authorised and work is proceeding to improve existing sewage outfall conditions on the Glamorgan coastline. Glamorgan maritime local authorities are also considering further schemes costing f16 million to improve outfall conditions. I shall give them every encouragement to bring their schemes forward.
Has my hon. Friend noted the recent report which claims that pollution is worse in places near Cardiff, Penarth and Barry than in any other part of Britain? In view of the report, will he treat this matter urgently?
Yes, we are treating this as a very grave matter. The report is being given very careful consideration by officials in the Department.
Eastern Avenue, Cardiff (Emergency Telephones)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what proposals he has to provide adequate telephone communications, for use in emergency, on Eastern Avenue, Cardiff.
I do not have this in mind. It is not general policy to provide emergency telephones on all-purpose trunk roads and I am not persuaded that the circumstances on Eastern Avenue make them necessary.
Is my hon. Friend aware that his reply will cause grave disappointment to users of the road and also to experts on road safety in the South Wales area? Will he reconsider the decision?
It is not Government policy to provide emergency telephones on roads other than motorways, and Eastern Avenue is not a motorway. But this matter is at present under consideration at the Welsh Office. If my hon. Friend would like to speak to me about it further, I will look at it.
Trade And Industry
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if, following representations made to him by the hon. Member for Croydon, South, he will seek to amend the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968, so as to enable magistrates' courts to award compensation.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) on 15th November.—[Vol. 826, c. 20–21.]
Is my hon. Friend aware that I heard that answer and found it profoundly unsatisfactory? Would not he agree that one of the objects of the Act was to protect the consumer? That being so, would it not help the consumer if magistrates could award compensation in appropriate cases? Would he not also agree that an amendment of the law would also help the Government's professed intention to help the victim at the expense of the culprit? Finally, would he agree with me that people who suffer because they accept at face value representations about things subsequently found to be false ought to be compensated without having to go to the expense and frustration of civil proceedings?
I said that we would review this point when reviewing the working of the Act. I equally told the House on that occasion that if a trader was convicted under the Act he would be well advised to pay compensation voluntarily, because he would not have much chance of succeeding in a civil court in an action brought against him. That goes a long way to making sure that compensation will be available where it is due.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Act loses most of its validity and a great deal of its strength if he merely throws the victim of someone who has infringed it back on the civil courts? It becomes a reality only if the victim of the misdemeanour is compensated within the terms of the Act itself.
The hon. Gentleman must not forget the heavy deterrent effect of being convicted of a criminal offence under the Act and of the heavy fines which can and have been assessed on the convicted. That in itself is a major protection to the consumer.
Will my hon. Friend, when reviewing the matter in response to the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir R. Thompson), bear in mind that, even with legal aid, civil proceedings may be costly and will certainly involve delay? Is not that a fact which should lead to the adoption, if at all practical, of my hon. Friend's suggestion?
Given the provisions of the Misrepresentation Act, 1967, and the Civil Evidence Act, 1968, it is almost certain that a trader would have to pay compensation and, therefore, civil proceedings should be obviated by voluntary payments.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a Criminal Justice Bill before Parliament which seeks to enlarge the area of compensation for those who are affected by crime? Will he not therefore organise his review immediately so that this suggestion can be incorporated in the Bill?
I have no doubt that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who is in charge of that Bill, will have noted what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what reply he has sent to the Scottish Knitwear Council further to its letter to him of 9th November dealing with Section 8 of the Trade Descriptions Act, 1968.
A meeting has been held when representatives of the council discussed the possible need for stronger general safeguards against the consumer being misled into believing that imported goods are British.
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that what the Scottish Knitwear Council is after is a measure of fair trading and proper identification in the labelling of goods? Is he further aware that many consumers are being swindled by companies selling goods on the basis that they are genuine Scottish knitwear products? Will he give careful consideration to this swindle to which our consumers are being subjected?
I have a copy of the letter from the Scottish Knitwear Council before me. As I understand it, all the points it makes will be met by the Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Mr. Peel) intends to bring into the House.
Will my hon. Friend agree that this question extends far beyond the issue of the Scottish Knitwear Council into the province of textiles and footwear?
It seems to me that it applies to all goods, that it should be impossible to deceive the consumer as to the origin of the goods and that legislation in this matter should apply to all goods and not to any particular category.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what new plans he has for increasing public investment in the regions.
Since the hon. Member tabled this Question my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced many helpful new measures on 23rd November, 1971.
Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise the great contradiction between the statement of the Chancellor last week and the determination, as pronounced in the White Paper of October, 1970, to cut public expendi- ture? When will the Chancellor's belated announcement last week about increasing public investment in the regions have its effect on the unemployment figures?
I do not acknowledge a contradiction for the very good reason that the timing is quite different. One has to be cautious in making forecasts as to the effect of my right hon. Friend's announcement, but I would expect that it would be certainly within the next six months.
Will my hon. Friend accept that already in the North, I am glad to say, some commitments by local authorities have already been brought forward and that I am grateful for this? At the same time, will he convey to the Secretary of State for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Education and Science that I am looking forward to some very good announcements from them for speedier procedures to meet commitments which could be brought forward? I am looking forward with keen anxiety to hearing good news in this connection.
I am always grateful for my hon. Friend's gratitude and I will convey her feelings to my right hon. Friends.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the progress being made in the development of Turnhouse Airport at Edinburgh.
Substantial development of Edinburgh Airport must await the outcome of the British Airports Authority's planning application about which a public inquiry is now in progress.
Can the hon. Gentleman indicate whether progress can be made meanwhile in improving the terminal facilities for passengers which have been a disgrace for far too many years?
If the improvements which the hon. Gentleman has in mind require planning permission, the answer is "No". If improvements internally can be made without planning permission, the answer would be "Yes".
Steel Industry (Oil Exploitation Equipment)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has held with the British Steel Corporation regarding its ability to tender for equipment in connection with the exploitation of North Sea oil.
None; this is a matter for the Corporation to determine in consultation with the oil companies concerned.
May I crave the indulgence of the House to say how sorry we are to hear of the death of Mr. Hugh Stenhouse? It is a great loss to Scotland and to Scottish industry generally.
In relation to my Question is the hon. Gentleman aware that we are extremely perturbed about the possibility of loss of jobs in Scotland due to the lack of initiative, for example, of the British Steel Corporation in relation to supply facilities such as steel construction for the exploitation of North Sea oil, and about the direct loss of jobs in Glasgow because of the closure of the Tube Division office? What is the hon. Gentleman going to do about it?
I join the hon. Gentleman's expression of regret at the untimely death of Mr. Stenhouse.I understand that the Corporation has obtained a large Gas Council order for large diameter pipes and I see no reason why it should not compete for these other orders in the same way.
Has not the Department had some discussion with the corporation on the question of much of this equipment and the reports which have appeared recently? Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that discussions are now proceeding between British Petroleum and the British Steel Corporation on the specifications required and that there is every possibility that the Corporation could meet these specifications? Will he also confirm that the stories that have been published in, for example, the Glasgow Herald are grossly misleading? Surely the Government have shown some interest in the matter.
The Iron Steel Act, which the hon. Gentleman's own Government brought in, expressly forbids Ministers from interfering in the commercial management of the corporation.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the present Government, for purposes which we do not approve, have established quite different relations between Government and the steel industry from those which were laid down in the Act? Can he not use this possibility to discuss matters of major importance about which a Question was put on the Order Paper? Surely the hon. Gentleman should be able to give the Government's view on such an important question.
I can only give the Government's views about matters for which I have statutory authority. The hon. Gentleman knows very well that this Government, like the last one, have no power to intervene in commercial decisions of the corporation of this sort.
Rolls-Royce Sub-Contractors (Development Assistance)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will now take further measures to aid sub-contractors to Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited following the liquidation of Rolls-Royce Limited, in view of their need to fund new technical development and expansion.
No, Sir. It is for Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd. to arrange for continuity of supply of components for its future programmes.
While thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, and reminding him that the renegotiation of the RB211 contract assured continued employment in the regions in the sub-contractual sector, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he could expedite the price negotiations for the assets of Rolls-Royce Limited, because many millions of £s and the expansion capability of sub-contractors are involved? These are two important questions.
My hon. Friend will appreciate that my power to influence the speed of these negotiations is limited. I assure him that the Government will do their best to help in any way they can. But it is a very complex calculation and it will take time.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is not good enough to leave this matter to Rolls-Royce entirely but that the Government should give some indication of future prospects? Is he further aware that the anxieties of the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson) are shared by many employees of sub-contracting firms and Rolls-Royce itself and that it would help to give assurance if we could have the early issue of a White Paper?
The White Paper will be issued very soon. I simply do not follow what the hon. Gentleman implies about giving assurances. I am not in a position to put a value on these assets, and that is the crux of the problem.
asked the Attorney-General how many prosecutions have taken place in November against people accused of drug peddling; and if he will make a statement.
The figures for November are not yet available. In the first six months of 1971, the latest period for which information is available, 238 persons were proceeded against in England, Wales and Scotland for unlawful supply of drugs.
Whereas those who are suffering from drug addiction need treatment and help, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he is satisfied that even with 238 peddlers having been brought to prosecution everything possible is being done to identify drug peddlers at the earliest possible moment?
As the hon. Gentleman recognises, there are difficulties in identifying the peddler. When it is possible to bring a prosecution, that is done. I assure the hon. Member that those who peddle drugs will indeed be subject to police inquiries and, wherever possible, prosecutions will be brought.
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that it is 21 months since this House gave a Second Reading to the Misuse of Drugs Bill, which incorporated in its provisions a new level of penalties for those who push and peddle drugs? When will these important provisions be brought into operation?
I cannot advise the House about that, but if the hon. Gentleman will table a Question on the subject I will certainly answer it.
Mr S Brett
asked the Attorney-General whether he will direct the Director of Public Prosecutions to accede to a police request to prosecute prisoner S. Brett, in view of the admission by Brett that he and others had planned to carry out a robbery on 3rd September, 1970 at the Great Eastern Hotel, Liverpool Street, and the fact that the police investigations proved this to be the case.
No, Sir. I am satisfied that it would not be in the public interest to institute such proceedings.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman look at this case again because this man, who is a convicted criminal—the facts can be verified by the Attorney-General if he consults the police—claims that there should not have been a prosecution because he is innocent of the crime which he allegedly committed and for which he was convicted? Despite his criminal record, should he not be given a chance to prove his innocence of the crime for which he was convicted, although he admits to being guilty of the other crime?
The prisoner referred to in the hon. Gentleman's Question was convicted of conspiracy to rob premises at Brentwood and was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. He made application for leave to appeal and that was refused. He is now applying to the full court and that matter is awaiting hearing. I understand that the grounds of appeal are that he was not conspiring to rob at Brentwood because he was conspiring to rob the Great Eastern Hotel.
Judge Michael Argyle, Qc (Threats)
asked the Attorney-General what action he has taken or intends taking in the light of threats against Judge Michael Argyle, Q.C., and his family.
The police have investigated the deplorable threats against Judge Argyle and his family but have not been able to identify the persons responsible for those threats. It has not, therefore, been possible to take any action against such persons.
May we have an assurance that the police will continue to make investigations into this matter because it was reported in the Press that there was at least prima facie evidence to show that the police knew who were at the back of these threats? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that if that is so, the police should continue with their investigations?
The police made investigations and inquiries at the time these calls and threats were made, but there is no evidence against the person who was responsible for them.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend also investigate the matter of the besetting of the judge's house and the siege which Mrs. Argyle and her family had to endure for many weeks if not months?
My hon. and learned Friend is absolutely correct. Considerable distress and annoyance was caused to the judge and his family, and in particular to Mrs. Argyle, on 6th, 7th and 8th August. As I have said, this deplorable activity is obviously to be condemned by everybody.
Domestic Properties (Registration)
asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation designed to require the registration of particulars of individual domestic properties.
No. The Government's policy is to extend registra- tion of title under the Land Registration Acts.
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I am fully conversant with the Land Registration Act, 1925, under Section 130 of which he has power to extend registration? Is he not failing in his duty by not so extending it, remembering that the effect of doing so would be to cut the conveyancing costs of solicitors by one-third, according to my information? In view of the difficulty which particularly youngsters face in buying houses, would not this make a substantial contribution?
The Law Society made recommendations in 1965 on what might be called the log book principle, which the hon. Gentleman probably has in mind. However, the Law Commission advised against them and the Government of the day did not take the recommendations up. It is the proposal to continue with the substantial progress that is being made, and now some 22½ million people live in compulsory registration areas, which is about half the population.
Naturally the Law Commission would give that advice because it has a vested interest in the matter. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman reconsider this matter, because if both sides of the House are in favour of home ownership and really want to encourage it, this would be a reasonable way to go about giving that encouragement?
The hon. Gentleman must have misunderstood me. It was the solicitors who made the suggestion to the Law Society but the Law Commission, which was established by the Labour Government, rejected it. The solicitors made the proposal but the Law Commission said the best way to proceed was in the way that is now being done.
While for once I regret that I must repudiate what my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) said in his observation about the Law Commission, for which we are immensely grateful in all parts of the House, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to accept that there is a case for speeding up the process of registration, which would make speedier and cheaper the task of conveyancing?
I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman and it was the method about which I was disagreeing with his hon. Friend. I agree that the procedure and movement forward on land registration is of great advantage.
On a point of order. In view of the Minister's unsatisfactory Answer. I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.
European Economic Community
asked the Attorney-General what increase in the staff of the Lord Chancellor's Department will be required for the scrutiny of European Economic Community legislation and giving effect to harmonisation therewith; and what will be the cost of such increase.
Firm estimates are not yet possible, but at the most half a dozen additional staff may be required; the tasks referred to by my right hon. and learned Friend do not primarily fall to the Lord Chancellor's Department.
As the amount of work that will be required to be done is not yet ascertainable and in view of the possibility that it may be very heavy indeed, may I ask my right hon. and learned Friend to be astute and avoid the dangers both of improper scrutiny and undue strain and overwork on the part of these learned gentlemen?
This is certainly a matter which is obviously under consideration. As my right hon. and learned Friend will appreciate, each Department deals with its own responsibility. For example, the additional lawyers in the Lord Chancellor's office will deal mainly with the subject of what is known in the House as lawyer's law.
Will the Attorney-General answer the last part of his right hon. and learned Friend's Question, which he perhaps unconsciously avoided, and give us an idea of the cost of this exercise?
The hon. Gentleman is right and I apologise to my right hon. and learned Friend for not answering that part of his Question. The disclosure now of any cost is impossible because it would be premature to give an estimate at this stage.
Could not the assistance of the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) be enlisted for this important work, now that the Bar has recently suffered his retirement?
That has indeed been a loss to my profession, but I must repeat that the tasks do not fall primarily to the Lord Chancellor's Department; and, as I said, very few extra staff will be required.
asked the Attorney-General whether he will refer to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for consideration, the facts stated in the Compton Report with a view to the initiation of proceedings against Ministers and others concerned with them in the United Kingdom for conspiring to commit criminal assault on internees in Northern Ireland.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognise that this is a very grave matter and that there is at the very least good prima facie evidence for believing that offences have been committed not only in Northern Ireland by those who have breached the law in this respect but by those who, within the English jurisdiction, arranged to do so? Will the Attorney-General not at least remove the doubt which exists in the minds of many people on this point by arranging for the matter to be investigated? Will he at some other time make a fuller statement on the subject and explain his reasons?
As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the note of interrogation is set out in paragraph 46, page 12, of the Compton Report. It sets out the rules which were laid down in 1965 and revised in 1967. Nowhere in those rules are there any instructions or requirement authorising the commission of any criminal offence.
Is not this unfounded and scurrilous Question music in the ears of the gunmen?
I appreciate what my hon. Friend says, but I am answering a Question relating to criminal prosecution.
Have the Government given any consideration at all to whether the Compton findings reveal matters which are consistent or inconsistent with our obligations under Article 3 of the European Convention which, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment?
The Question to which I have directed my reply relates to the institution of criminal proceedings.
Orders Of The Day
[2ND ALLOTTED DAY],— considered.
Before I call the right hon. Gentleman to move the Motion, I would inform the House that I have selected the Amendment in the name of the Prime Minister and other right hon. Gentlemen.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government's present policies in Northern Ireland and the serious deterioration in the relationship between the communities; pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces; regrets the situation in which they have been placed by the decision on internment taken by the Stormont Government: declines to support the continuance of internment without trial and the extraction of information from detainees by methods which must never be permitted in a civilised society; welcomes the initiative taken by the Leader of the Opposition for a solution to these problems; calls upon Her Majesty's Government to respond constructively to this approach including the transfer of responsibility for security to Westminster and the opening of talks leading to the establishment of a constitutional commission.—[Mr. Callaghan.]
I beg to move, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
It is my earnest hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the House this evening because I personally attach very high importance to proceeding in this grave matter, wherever possible and to the maximum extent possible, by agreement both in Parliament here and in Northern Ireland. I think there are two very good reasons for wishing to proceed as far as possible by agreement. The first is this: only agreed solutions will endure. We must surely at this time seek an agreed solution that will last. We cannot look forward to another recrudescence of this violence and tragedy in a few years' time. We cannot look forward to the continuing cycle of violence that we have seen in Ireland over many decades. It must be our objective to find a lasting solution. I emphasise once again that a lasting solution can only really come from continuing agreement. Secondly, I hope this Amendment will be accepted by the House as a whole because I believe this would be the wish of all those who elected us to this House. The people of this country want to see an end to violence and a return of peace. They are looking to those who are responsible for giving leadership to provide that agreed solution. They look to the two communities and their leaders in Northern Ireland—political and religious leaders, leaders of industry, trade unions, social and professional leaders. They look to those who have the responsibility of providing leadership to seek agreed means of reaching a solution. Also, I believe that in this House people are looking to us to pool our ideas and share our counsel in order to try to reach a solution that will endure. I need not stress the gravity of this situation. I need not stress, I hope, that this is a national issue, of national significance. I need not. I hope, stress that the object of all concerned should be the same—to establish in Northern Ireland the same standards of life and government as in the rest of the United Kingdom, the same standards of security, of non-discrimination and of a political system based no longer on the tragic sectarian divisions which have persisted so long in Northern Ireland. These surely must be agreed ob;ectives of Parliament. I have other reasons in more detail for commending this Amendment to the House. It contains three points, and three points only. First, which is common both to the original Motion and to the Amendment itself, it pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces. Second, it contains a policy of putting an end to violence, which seems to me to coincide entirely with the second principle quoted by the Leader of the Opposition last week; namely, that we must seek"pays tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces and supports Her Majesty's Government in the combined policies of putting an end to violence and seeking, through discussion with all concerned who are opposed to the use of violence, means whereby there may be for both communities in Northern Ireland an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the public affairs of the Province".
That is the second point, and once again it seems to me to be wholly beyond controversy in this House. The third point is that side by side with a security solution we must also be seeking a political solution. Once again, to quote the Leader of the Opposition,"a security solution, the assertion of effective law and order, in that the men of violence must be either destroyed or compelled to retire."
I would say in all humility that the words that we have used repeatedly of reaching a solution by agreement"progress to a far-reaching political solution."
express as well as can be done the political objective and the political solution. Therefore, this Amendment says three things—praise and support for the Army, the need for a security solution, and the need at the same time for a political solution. I think it would be sad indeed if the House of Commons or any substantial body of the House of Commons were to reject that three point programme—"whereby there may be for both communities in Northern Ireland an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the public affairs of the Province"
What about internment?
I am hoping to deal with this matter as seriously as did the Leader of the Opposition last week, and I hope that I may have, as he had last week, an uninterrupted hearing in the course of what I have to say.I will deal in due course, as I must, with the words of the Opposition Motion, but first I deal with those three points which, as I say, are the essence of our Amendment. The first is: praise for the courage and resolution of the Army. I hope that everybody agrees with that, and, therefore, I make no further comment on it. The second is: progress towards a security solution. My hon. Friend the Minister of State on Thursday dealt in considerable detail with the progress that is being made, and I have little to add to it. I think there is no doubt that the security forces, the Army and the R.U.C., for whose courage and efforts unstinting praise is merited, have been making considerable progress. Evidence of that certainly is to be found in the recent statement by the leader of the official I.R.A. Saturday's outburst of violence may well have been the reaction to the official I.R.A. statement about the Provisionals. One does not know. But, as the Minister of State said on Thursday, we must expect, before this campaign is brought to an end, further incidents of this kind we must expect further terrorism and further setbacks from time to time. I believe that progress is being steadily made by the security forces. There is still a long way to go, but there can, surely, be no doubt that the security forces must be supported in their endeavours until, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, the gunmen are
I shall concentrate today, as I think the House would wish, on the political solution. That is all I wish to say on the military side of the problem. I shall refer to a number of the detailed proposals put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in our debate last Thursday, and I start, deliberately, by referring to this passage in his speech:"either destroyed or compelled to retire."
I say categorically that the Government welcome that proposal in the spirit in which it was put forward. We accept it entirely. We are perfectly willing to enter into talks on the basis of the right hon. Gentleman's words which I have quoted. If I may add a personal word, in all the problems I have faced one way or another from this Bench over a number of years I have never known anything which has hung round one's shoulders so heavily and so sadly day by day, and often more than day by day. I do not believe that any considerations of personal or political interest are admissible in this context. All solutions, from whatever quarter they come, and must be examined fully, honestly and sincerely. That is our duty as a Parliament. Against that background, we must consider, first, the limitations—they are considerable—within which we are working in looking for a solution and see whether we can agree about them. Second, we must, I believe, agree about the importance of talks with those who can speak for the minority. As I said earlier, agreement is essential to a lasting solution. Agreement can come only through talk and discussion. Those who refuse to talk are opting for solutions not by agreement but by dictation, and that would be a very bad thing for all the people of Northern Ireland. I put forward now what seem to me to be the basic principles of any solution, and, judging from what was said last week, I hope that these principles will command support from both sides of the House. First, a solution must come not by violence but by consent. Second, Northern Ireland will remain part of the United Kingdom unless and until its Parliament and people decide otherwise. This has been stressed time and again. I was struck by the words of Cardinal Conway a little time ago:"I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government will give careful consideration to these proposals which I have put forward and that they will be ready in any case to agree to my suggestion of inter-party talks in this House as a preliminary to similar talks between all the main parties in Westminster and Stormont, leading then, if agreement can be reached, to consideration of the wider proposals I have outlined, or of any other alternative proposals which the Government or anyone else may table."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c, 1585–93.]
Third, troops from Her Majesty's Forces must be available in support of the civil power in Northern Ireland, as they would be in any other part of the United Kingdom, and for so long as they are needed, as they would be in any other part of the United Kingdom. Next, the same standards of impartial government must be established and maintained in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the United Kingdom. I believe that the Downing Street Declaration on human rights, to which reference was made last week, will go a long way, if not the whole way, to establish non-discrimination in these matters. That declaration has been accepted by succeeding Governments here and by succeeding Governments in Northern Ireland, and it must remain the cornerstone of policy in these matters. Next, I accept, as the right hon. Gentleman said last week, that direct rule of Northern Ireland from this country is to be contemplated only as a last resort and not as a deliberate act of policy. Next, I say that both the majority and minority communities have their rights, which should be respected, and both are entitled to expect an opportunity to play their full part in the public affairs of the country in which they live. No individual should be debarred from public service in any form by reason of his religious convictions. The final principle which I put forward—I hope for agreement—is that it is as legitimate to believe in and hope for a united Ireland as it is to believe in and hope for a federal United States of Europe, and it is not legitimate to try to impose these objectives by force, be it physical force or political force. Those seem to me to be principles which not only emerge from previous discussion on this matter but emerge clearly also from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. It follows that we should seek a system wherein all men of good will can work together for the peace and prosperity of Northern Ireland, whatever their views of the ultimate future, respecting what is the majority view at the time, the majority view, democratically established, on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom. I think that many people here find it difficult to see what the obstacle is now. They say, "The Border will not be abolished now or in foreseeable years to come. Both communities will continue for many years to live together in Northern Ireland until the day comes, if ever it conies, when they decide to go into a united Ireland. Realising these realities, why do they not recognise the facts, why do they not agree to put this question aside for 20 years at least, get on with the job of restoring peace, and start the reconstruction of the battered economy of Northern Ireland?" That is what many people in this country feel, and with a good deal of reason. Many suggestions have been put forward to that end. People suggest, for example, that we might have a referendum every 20 years. Many possible solutions and ideas have been canvassed, all of which have difficulties but all of which I find interesting and well worth consideration because they are based on common sense. Although, sometimes, one begins to wonder whether common sense is necessarily a recipe for success in Irish political problems, I still cling to the belief that ideas based on common sense are the best ideas for anyone to take up. It struck me that the plan put forward by the Leader of the Opposition was, in effect, a variant on that theme of putting the Border on one side for a time and meanwhile getting on and working together to restore the life of Northern Ireland. It was, if I may say so, a scheme both novel and ingenious, though I think that one is entitled to doubt whether it is entirely realistic in the form put forward. I think it difficult in present circumstances realistically to see much chance of the majority of people in Northern Ireland voting to go into a united Ireland even on the terms proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. Also, I think it difficult, in practice, to believe that the Republic would accept the Queen as the head of the Commonwealth or would accept the proposals for internal reform which were an integral part of the right hon. Gentleman's plan. But I see no reason at all why these ideas should not be discussed and thrashed out, for from discussed and thrashing out other ideas may arise, other ideas possibly not conceivable at the moment. The more all ideas and solutions are canvassed and discussed, the more chances are there of reaching some solution. I believe with great conviction that from talks and discussion no harm can come, but from a refusal to discuss nothing can come but harm and, possibly, destruction. I welcome the greatest possible degree of co-operation between North and South in all practical ways, and if, by agreement, the North and the South should at some time decide to come together in a United Ireland, if, by agreement, this should be their wish, then not only would we not obstruct that solution but, I am sure, the whole British people would warmly welcome it. But unless and until such a radical solution can come about by agreement, we must deal with the practical problems which face us, the practical means whereby the two communities can live together within Northern Ireland as it is constituted at present. I see the grievances of the minority as twofold. First, there are those that touch on the ordinary business of everyday life. Discrimination between Catholics and Protestants, discrimination in housing, discrimination in jobs, is among the many problems of everyday life which are the first cause of grievance to the Catholic minority. I think that the second and possibly now the more important is the feeling among the minority of being second-class citizens, of never effectively participating in major decisions affecting the Northern Ireland community as a whole. I can understand their saying in the circumstances, "If we can never participate in major decisions for the whole of our Province, how can we belong to this Province at all?" One understands that those are the two main problems, and I will deal with them in turn. I still believe that the Downing Street Declaration clearly pointed the way to disposing of the first problem, that of individual discrimination in jobs and housing and other matters of daily life. Certainly I was sustained in this belief by what I heard in discussions with members of the minority community. The Downing Street Declaration set out a plan, which we inherited, and which we have carried on faithfully, as have succeeding Governments in Northern Ireland, to dispose of this problem of personal discrimination. Much still remains to be done, of course, in matters of housing allocation and job allocation, in all the matters set out in the Northern Ireland White Paper about progress on the Downing Street Declaration, for time is necessary in all these matters. If there is disappointment about the results so far to be seen on the ground, it is not for any lack of willingness on the part of the Government, or Mr. Faulkner's Government, or Lord Mayola's Government, to proceed with the programme, but arises simply because of the fact that time is necessary to get results on the ground so that people may sense them and be made confident by them. The programme of non-discrimination laid down in the Downing Street Declaration was right and continues to be right, and that will deal with the first of the two problems. But, of course, it does not deal with the second, the feeling that participation at all levels should be available to the minority as well as the majority community. Here we have to face—and I have said this in the House more than once—the fact that our democratic practice here is not necessarily applicable in all details to the situation in Northern Ireland. The distinction is that here we battle one party with another on political, economic and social issues, and there is always a prospect of change. There the battle is far more fixed. The battle lines are drawn, and, whatever views there are about these essential matters, the minority community feels inevitably that invariably it will be defeated in what is a sectarian rather than a political battle. I do not believe—I think that the right hon. Gentleman shares this view; I have heard him express it more than once—that there can be full political health in Northern Ireland until the issues of politics there are the same as the issues of politics here. That is an ideal and still a long way off, and meanwhile we have to deal with the problem of minority participation in the areas of the management of the public affairs of the province."No one in his sane senses would try to bomb one million Protestants into a united Ireland."
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the main division is not a sectarian division, but is between certain fanatical Republicans and Loyalists, that the political division is between Republicanism and those who are loyal to Queen and country?
Perhaps I have not chosen my words carefully enough. I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Perhaps I should refer to the division between the majority and the minority communities. It is not a religious struggle, and that is why I was careful to say that it was a sectarian battle. It is a struggle between two communities where the voting lines are drawn on a community basis rather than a political basis.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the issue is the Border? That is what he has said, but he is trying to say it without spelling it out. Let him spell it out. The issue at every election in the Six Counties in the past 50 years has been the Border.
What I am saying is that the issue in the battleline of politics may be the Border, but in reality it is not the Border, because everyone knows that the Border will not be changed in the foreseeable future because there is not a majority in favour of such a change, and everyone agrees that there cannot be a change unless the majority vote for it. The real issue of politics in Northern Ireland is how, within the existing boundaries, two communities can live together. That is what really matters.
I should like to be allowed to continue. I am trying to deal consecutively with the second problem of the minority community.There are three aspects of what they are entitled to ask, as they do ask and as we recognise in our policy. They ask that they should have an active, guaranteed and permanent rôle in the life of the Province. The first is in the administration of the day-by-day business of running the country—the housing authority and the police authority. There are now many good examples of minority participation in administrative organs of this kind which are working well. The police authority, which was quoted last week, is a very good example. The Londonderry Development Commission has been an effective example, and the housing authority is another. The level of administration is extremely important in the day-to-day life of the people. It is a level at which it is already agreed policy that there should be proper minority participation in these organs of Government or administration. Secondly, there is the position of the minority in Parliament. The proposals put forward by Mr. Faulkner go a very long way: proposals for reform of the House, expansion of the Senate and consideration of proportional representation and for a committee system, which, in according status to the minority, goes much further than that accorded in this House, or, so far as I know, in any other democratic Assembly. Any impartial observer would agree that the proposals of the Northern Ireland Government for the reform of Parliament fully meet the requirements of the minority for a proper guaranteed right of participation in the parliamentary system. What the minority cannot ask for in Parliament is a right of the minority to outvote the majority. It is a hard fact, as the Leader of the Opposition said last week, that the majority also have their rights. But when it comes to participation by the minority in the parliamentary system, it seems to me that the offers made by the Northern Ireland Government are very far-seeing indeed.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that in his Green Paper Mr. Faulkner talks about Northern Ireland being a State? In fact, it is not a State, for it is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Therefore, to talk in terms of Cabinet responsibility, as Mr. Faulkner does, is not in line with the actual situation. The minority have a right to participate in immediate decisions about their future and about the administration of these counties in the same way as any minority party has in any county council committee in the country.
I am coming to that, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be patient. The position is properly recognised by the fact that I was invited by Mr. Faulkner to preside over interparty discussions to reach a constitutional solution on the lines put forward, an invitation which recognised that all parties, and particularly Her Majesty's Government, must be party to any satisfactory solution and must participate in the guaranteeing of such a satisfactory solution.I was coming next to the question of government, because, frankly, this is the most difficult aspect of the problem. It is difficult because of the practical difficulties which arise because of the need for a Government to take decisions and the need for any Government to be an effective team if it is to work. We must not under-estimate these practical difficulties. Anyone who has participated in government at any level knows very well from experience how genuine these difficulties are. But nor need we be daunted by them, for I am sure that they can be overcome. I believe, however, that they can be overcome only by discussion, and here above all I emphasise the need for discussion involving the elected leaders of the minority community. That is why I welcomed the efforts of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) to persuade the leaders of the S.D.L.P. and the Nationalist Party to come to these discussions, because this problem can be solved only by discussion. I was struck by some words used by Dr. Newe when first appointed to the Cabinet of Northern Ireland. He said:
That is the spirit in which this problem should be tackled."It also seems to me indisputable that, at this point in time, a majority wish to retain the constitutional link with Great Britain, and this being so I do not believe that active discussion of imminent change is realistic or profitable. However I strongly believe that citizens here have the right by all legitimate peaceful and democratic means to advocate and to work for the ultimate unification of Ireland if that is their aspiration: and the Prime Minister has assured me that he also affirms that right"
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that in his Green Paper Mr. Faulkner entirely ruled out anyone pursuing the long-term aim of a united Ireland from belonging to his Cabinet. It would facilitate matters enormously if the right hon. Gentleman would indicate whether he agrees with that, or whether in the interests of peace and harmony in the United Kingdom he will say whether he sees the possibility of people who believe in a United Ireland being brought about in the long term by peaceful means belonging in any real sense to the executive organs of Government in Northern Ireland.
I do not agree with that interpretation of the Green Paper. What I have just quoted is the complete answer to the hon. Gentleman—that there is now in the Cabinet in Northern Ireland someone who believes strongly in having the right to work for the ultimate unification of Ireland, if that is the aspiration, and who has been assured by Mr. Faulkner that that was his view, too. That is the latest statement of the position, and it is a position which we should clearly understand.My strong conviction is that no system can be devised, however ingenious, that will work in the absence of a genuine will to make it work. We must recognise that such a genuine will is not particularly conspicuous at present. But the whole point of what we should be trying to do in Northern Ireland now is to promote and expand and increase the will to work together among people who will work together and without that will no ingenious constitutional gimmicks can possibly produce succes. That is why I very much regret the unwillingness of the political leaders of the minority community to participate in these discussions. I say once again that without participation there cannot be agreement and without agreement there cannot be a lasting solution. Their major reason for non-participation is said to be internment, and we must face this difficulty. The Leader of the Opposition referred to internment very carefully. He made a number of detailed suggestions about its operation which I will certainly discuss with Mr. Faulkner, who is constitutionally responsible, and I have already set that in hand. I can tell the House that it has been announced today that a Red Cross report on conditions in Long Kesh has been published. There will be visiting again next month. It has also been announced today that a board of visitors will be set up for Long Kesh similar to the system operating in a number of prisons in this country and in Northern Ireland whereby complaints of ill treatment may be made to an impartial body.
May I inquire how it comes about that Mr. Faulkner and Co. are responsible for the policy of internment?
Because it happens to be the law.
I do not wish to give way. I am trying to make a consecutive argument. The Leader of the Opposition was not interrupted, and I have already given away possibly more than enough.The Leader of the Opposition put forward a number of positive suggestions for changing the present system, and, of course, they will be carefully examined. Indeed, I have already made arrangements to set the examination in hand. But, clearly, the Leader of the Opposition did not support the claim that there could be an end to internment. Absolutely clearly he said that it should cease as soon as the necessary conditions existed for an improvement in confidence. No one can say that those conditions exist at present. The S.D.L.P. should heed the words of the Leader of the Opposition, because by continuing to refuse to take part in discussions it is merely prolonging conditions which I know that it genuinely wants to see brought to an end. These are the reasons which I put forward for supporting the Government's Amendment. I hope that I have shown that over the range I have covered of the limits within which we are compelled to operate there is categorically and obviously a broad measure of agreement between the Government and the Leader of the Opposition in his speech and the plan that he put forward last Thursday. I deal briefly, but I hope adequately, with the Opposition's Motion and the reasons that they have given for wishing to divide the House on this occasion. I must say once again, and I hope that I do not sound pious, that to divide the House on this occasion is a very serious step. It will have considerable repercussions here and in Northern Ireland, not least, I think, for the security forces there. Before deciding to do so, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite must be clear on what grounds they have decided to do so. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite regret
Our policies are to restore law and order and to establish a proper position of participation in the public affairs of Northern Ireland for the minority community. They are policies that we inherited from the Labour party. They are policies which we carried on deliberately because we believed that they were right. Everyone recognises that no Government have yet found a solution to the terror and tragedy of Northern Ireland. We regret that no Government's policy has found an answer. That is no reason for dividing the House, unless the Labour Party has a clear and adequate alternative. The second point of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite in their Motion is one with which we all agree. They pay"the failure of Her Majesty's Government's present policies".
"tribute to the courage and resolution of Her Majesty's Forces".
No, our second point refers to
"the serious deterioration in the relationship"—
Obviously, we all regret the deterioration, but I do not understand why right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite regard that as a reason for dividing the House.
It is the result of the Government's policy.
It is our Motion and the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. It is up to him to choose whether he divides the House. He cannot claim that his policy has been successful.
A vote against the Government must be based not on unhappiness about a situation but about a difference of opinion on how to deal with it. That is what I intend to move on to next, since it is the guts of the Motion. It goes on:
I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition did not call for an end of internment. Internment is an alternative to trial through the normal processes of law. Any Government, any Home Secretary, any Minister would always want to see people tried through the normal processes of law. This procedure has been going on apace. I can give figures of arrests which have been made in connection with the possession of explosives in the last three months. In August there were 25. In September there were 24. In October there were 37. All these men have been charged. The information required to catch them red-handed in possession of explosives would not have been available if we had not had internment. As has been proved and acted upon time and time again by more than one Government, it is not possible in these circumstances to confront an accused man with the source of the information against him without destroying the source of the information and endangering the lives of those who have given it. That is simple, brute fact. We want to see the end of internment as soon as possible, and we shall examine the detailed suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition. But the point of confrontation is the fundamental difference between the normal processes of trial and those of appeal to committees now established and working in Northern Ireland. The alternative, if we are voting on this, is to release here and now on to the streets of Northern Ireland a large number of members of the Provisional I.R.A.—"declines to support the continuance of internment without trial and the extraction of information from detainees by methods which must never be permitted in a civilised society".
I have explained that it is impossible to charge them in circumstances where witnesses are intimidated. I am saying that if the Opposition wish to vote for the immediate release of all internees they are welcome to do so.I come next to interrogation. Here, very difficult issues are involved, and we have had a full discussion on the Compton Report. The most difficult issue is to decide what forms of interrogation are permissible in our society in dealing with a campaign of murder and terror, to try to apprehend the terrorists and capture the arms that they intend to use. It is because it is so difficult that we have asked Lord Parker of Waddington, assisted by two other Privy Councillors, one from each side of the House, to examine it. I thought that that commanded the general support of the House as a proper means of proceeding. I believe that it remains the proper means. It is difficult to reconcile that with words which talk about
If, therefore, we are to have a party vote tonight, I must make the required party point. The words "in a civilised society" probably mean "by a civilised society." I do not think that anyone would suggest that it is permissible to use methods in a primitive society which must not be used in an advanced society. The Labour Party says that these methods should never be permitted "in a civilised society." Was Aden civilised in 1965 when these methods were used, as they were used for a number of years in succeeding campaigns? There was the Bowen Committee's Report, which went into that in great detail. Subsequent to that, a revised directive was issued which remains the directive upon which British Forces operate, and the same methods continued to be part of the standard training of British Armed Forces throughout the years of Labour Government."the extraction of information from detainees by methods which must never be permitted in a civilised society".
The right hon. Gentleman keeps on insisting that these methods were disclosed in the Bowen Report and sanctified in rules made thereafter. However, nothing in the Bowen Report discloses any of these methods of interrogation, and the rules laid down after the publication of the Bowen Report relate merely to principles which negate any kind of violence or torture. Nothing in the rules indicates the methods of interrogation disclosed in the Compton Report.
That is what I am saying. The principles laid down are the ones that we have observed. But, with all the information before them at the time, the Government of the day were satisfied with the 1967 directive and these methods of interrogation throughout the entire period of the Labour Government. They remain a standard training system of the British Armed Forces.As I have said, I believe that the right way to deal with this matter in a democracy is first to appoint a committee, as we are doing, and then for this House to direct itself to what is a very serious issue to be decided. There is a world of difference between a polite question to a man, asking for information, and torture, which is unacceptable. It is a problem to which we must address ourselves when we have the report of the Privy Councillors. It would not be honest or sensible to make it a cause of a party Division tonight. The Opposition Motion goes on:
I have tried to do that in saying that we welcome readily the right hon. Gentleman's proposal for talks between the parties on this crucial issue. Therefore, I cannot see in the Motion any—"Welcomes the initiative taken by the Leader of the Opposition for a solution to these problems; calls upon Her Majesty's Government to respond constructively to this approach".
Deal with security.
Certainly I will deal with security. This is another matter which may well be discussed between the parties.
The right hon. Gentleman should let us have his views.
There are practical difficulties in this Government taking over security in Northern Ireland. Certainly there would be added burdens and complications for the British Army. The ideal in Northern Ireland is to have the system and standards of policing that we have in the United Kingdom. However, in present circumstances that system and those standards are not applicable in Northern Ireland. Where a small police force is operating alongside a bigger Army force, the circumstances are not remotely applicable to anything in this country.The Leader of the Opposition referred to the authority of the police authorities. In this country, chief constables have a remarkable degree of freedom. In their operations they are not under the control of the police authorities. A solution of that kind would not be feasible in Northern Ireland, where the whole question of security is fundamental to the problem. Many would see this move as a definite step in the direction of direct control. Whether that be true or not, we must recognise that many people would see it as that. We are agreed on both sides that direct rule should come only as a last resort. Therefore, a measure of this sort which would be thought to be a move in that direction would be fraught with considerable danger. I say that we should examine this and talk about it. I have examined it myself more than once. It is a proposal, and all proposals should be put on the table and thrashed out. I see difficulties in the way of it, and people should be aware of what they are. Looking at the various points in the Opposition Motion, I cannot see that they add up to such a divergence from the policy of the Government as to justify dividing the House on this issue. I come finally to another point which I am sure will interest the House. There is genuine concern about the economic situation in Northern Ireland. It is felt by the trade unions as well as by employers. Sir James Cairncross has been chairing a committee reviewing the Northern Ireland Development Plan. He has reported to the two Governments, and we are both studying his recommendations carefully. We shall announce our decisions later. On the review body's recommendation, the Northern Ireland Government propose to set up a finance corporation which will offer help over the next three years to undertakings which have reasonable long-term prospects but are faced with particular needs at present. Full details will be announced shortly. Meanwhile, the two Governments agree that, if necessary, under the normal financial arrangements up to £50 million can be made available to this body. I hope that that will be taken as an earnest of the seriousness with which we treat this problem of Northern Ireland. It is one of enormous dimensions and of great national gravity. I have explained as best I can how the Government are trying to pursue the twin aims of dealing with the gunmen and of creating a political solution. We are entitled to ask for the support of the whole House on that policy.
The speech which we have just heard from the Home Secretary has served to underline one feature of the debate. Despite his final words I must tell him that whatever differences there are in the House about present policies—and some of them run deep—there is general agreement that this debate has been dominated and shaped by the opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. My right hon. Friend regrets that, owing to a long-standing overseas commitment, which I know the Government understand and appreciate, he cannot be in the House today, but if he is not present in person his advice to the House is very much present, as we have heard from the Home Secretary. My right hon. Friend talked in his speech on Thursday about
He said he believed that, following internment, nothing can ever be quite the same again. That can also be said about my right hon. Friend's speech: nothing can be quite the same again in this House after it, certainly in terms of the public debate about the complex of Irish problems of which the Northern Ireland crisis provides the violent focus. That speech has added a new dimension to the debate. It has placed it on a quite different plane, which gives us new horizons, and new opportunities for dialogue. I was happy to hear from the Home Secretary an immediate positive response to the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition that there ought to be joint talks, first of all in this House, then one hopes, between the parties in Stormont, and, if all goes well, on a wider scale in search of a solution. Of course, the Home Secretary could not resist the temptation—it ran as a recurrent theme through his speech—to try to establish a contradiction between the terms of the speech and the terms of the Motion moved on behalf of the Opposition. Let me meet this attack head-on. There is no internal contradiction in the Opposition Motion. Our Motion regrets the failure of the Government's present policy, and we are entitled to do that. I shall explain why. The Motion does exactly what the Home Secretary said was the only possible justification for it and for dividing on it. It puts forward an adequate and definable alternative, as set out in the speech by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Let me say that, since the Home Secretary spoke in fairly strong terms in defence of his own position, in our view, he is the wrong man to make this kind of critique. Our Motion can be put more pungently and personally as an attack on the degree of drift which the Home Secretary has allowed to take place, and which has made such a contribution to the deterioration of the situation in Northern Ireland during the summer. He charges us with breaking bipartisanship over Northern Ireland at a time when my right hon. Friend is urging all-Party talks. What is bipartisanship? What is its purpose in a Chamber like this? To read the Conservative Press, and to hear the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon, it is clear that there is a simple Tory definition, which is to the effect that, on an issue like Northern Ireland, it is the duty of the Labour Opposition to go along with Conservative Government policy. That is not a definition we can accept as being in the real interests of the Servicemen in Northern Ireland or of the communities there. Of course there is great advantage in being able to maintain bipartisanship in this House in a situation like Northern Ireland, where lives are at stake and our Service men are at risk. But it has to be based on agreement about the way forward. The Home Secretary conceded this in his opening remarks. He said that the basis of bipartisanship must be genuine agreement. Our case is that in recent months that genuine agreement has been disappearing due to the action, or lack of action, on the part of the Government. For a long time we had bipartisanship, both under the Labour Government, and under the present Administration, but as I argued in our emergency debate on 23rd September:"the traumatic change which the internment decision brought about."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 1580.]
Bipartisanship was destroyed not, as the Tory Press over the weekend would like the nation to believe, by a resolution of the Parliamentary Labour Party: that resolution merely reflected the fact that it had already been destroyed by the Government's inertia and errors during the critical summer and autumn. The rôle of a Government in London ought to be constantly, endlessly, with infinite patience, publicly and behind the scenes to persuade, cajole and press all groups in Northern Ireland and in Dublin, if we are to have any chance of influencing them, to move in the right direction, or at least, not to move in the wrong direction. My right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) did this with consummate skill during his period as Home Secretary. That kind of action by a British Government means that they must not be over-committed to any one section or appease any one section as the Government in our view have allowed themselves to appease Stormont over internment."… we believe the Government have departed during the summer from what, during our period of office and afterwards, had remained common ground."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 23rd September 1971; Vol. 823, c. 304.]
The right hon. Gentleman started off reconciling what the Leader of the Opposition said about the terms of the Motion, but he seemed to leave it rather quickly. Would he, had he abandoned it entirely, reconcile what the Leader of the Opposition said about internment with what is said in the Motion about it?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that if he will be patient—I am only at the beginning of a long speech—I shall come to that point in a few moments. I was seeking to make the point about what the Government did in the summer which led to the destruction of the common ground between us. At that point in time it seemed to us that the Government preferred bipartisanship at Stormont to bipartisanship at Westminster. It cannot be said too plainly that it is the Government, and not the Opposition, who failed to preserve the common ground that existed in this House until the summer.Whatever other criticisms he may make the Home Secretary cannot accuse my right hon. Friends on this bench of reckless haste in accepting this fact. In our September debate, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East and I emphasised that, in normal circumstances, we would have criticised the Government by a vote against them. We refrained from so doing because of the talks arranged between the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic and because of the Home Secretary's initiative in bringing people round his table in a search for a solution and because of Mr. Faulkner's Green Paper. We wished all these initiatives well. We hoped desperately that they would produce concrete progress in the weeks that followed. I warned then, in winding up, that we would watch the progress of the talks vigilantly, particularly as they affected the issue of internment and that, after the House returned, we would, if necessary, take the matter to a Division. The Home Secretary cannot argue that he has not been fully warned of the process that was developing. What has happened since that last debate? It seems to us that the Government's initiatives have been running into the sands. The only new development since that debate, on the Government side, has been the report on the methods of deep interrogation contained in the Compton Report, which the House, whatever views may be held about it, will feel has added a new chapter to the Northern Ireland nightmare. The only positive event offering any hope for the future has been the visit of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition to Belfast and Dublin, and the report which has emerged from it. It is for these reasons that we believe that our Motion wholly reflects the realities of the situation, both in this House and in Ireland. The old basis for a common policy has gone, destroyed like so much else in the conflagration that was caused by the way the internment policy was carried out. New common ground has to be created, and here I come close to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain Elliot): we believe that the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend seem to offer the best chances of re-creating that common ground which this House badly needs if it is to solve the problems of Northern Ireland.
The right hon. Gentleman has used the phrase that what he objects to is the way in which the internment policy was carried out. Does this mean that he does not object to internment but to the way of doing it?
If the Prime Minister will be patient I shall treat internment carefully in a moment, in language which I have considered carefully.