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Gardiner Report

Volume 888: debated on Thursday 13 March 1975

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has any further statement to make on his proposals for the implementation of the Gardiner Report.

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to implement the recommendations in the Gardiner Report: and whether he will make a statement.

I would refer to the reply given to Questions by the hon. Members for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) and Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) on Thursday 13th February.—[Vol. 886, c. 585–8.] My right hon. Friend hopes to make a further statement soon.

Now that the right hon. Gentleman has implemented one or two of the recommendations of the Gardiner Committee, and as events to some extent have moved on since the report was published, would it not be wise for us to have a comprehensive statement analying, in present circumstances, the recommendations to be made, together with an indication, even if provisional, of the Government's intentions?

The report is obviously wide-ranging and the situation complex, but I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has taken on board that point and is considering it.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Gardiner Committee's proposal for a bill of rights could be commended to the Convention? Does he propose to provide the Convention with any information on this subject?

We are considering the question of a bill of rights. There are substantial provisions in regard to protection of civil liberties under the 1973 Constitution Act. The last point put forward by the hon. Gentleman is a question for the Convention.

Has the Minister held any consultations with the Government of the Republic on the Gardiner Report in connection with measures to deal with terrorism, that being one of the subjects of the Gardiner Report? Does he consider that the Criminal Jurisdiction Bill now going through Parliament will be a satisfactory alternative to extradition?

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's first point is "No". The answer to his second point is "Yes".

I apologise to the hon. Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates). I should have called him earlier as he had a Question on the Order Paper. I call him now.

Is the Minister aware that we would wish to congratulate him in general on the way in which he has handled a difficult situation over the past few months? He is walking a tightrope between a fragile peace and a return to extremism. I am sure that we all wish him well. Is the Minister aware that one of the festering sores about which the Gardiner Report has made specific recommendations is the question of special category prisoners? Is he now able to tell us not just that it is a difficult problem, which we already know, and not just that he is considering it, which again we already know, but whether he is some way towards finding a solution? That is one of the key factors in removing a source of severe discontent throughout the Province within both communities.

I am afraid that at this juncture I am not able to add anything to the statement made by my right hon. Friend. The solution depends on prison accommodation and work facilities in the Province.

Does the Minister not also agree that there are two other fundamental issues in the Gardiner Report on which the Government's views should be known? First, there is the question of the resettlement of detainees and the prerelease centre. When can we hear the Government's views about the Gardiner Report's recommendations on that matter? Secondly, there is the need for a new temporary prison to keep detainees separate from convicted prisoners. When can the House hear about that?

We have on several occasions given the House details of the new prison. We are still considering resettlement.

Will the Minister assure the House that when his right hon. Friend makes his considered statement he will give us some idea of what the Government will do about the Gardiner proposals? Will the House have the opportunity to debate them before the final decision is taken?

I shall convey the hon. Gentleman's views to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.