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Northern Ireland (Television And Radio Broadcasts)

Volume 986: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1980

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I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the necessity of securing a more effective application of incitement-to-hatred legisation, when such incitement results from television or radio broadcasts".
Yesterday evening the nation was again subjected to the sick and twisted journalism of Miss Mary Holland in a programme that purported to document life in the Creggan area of Londonderry. No attempt was made to present a political and/or economic analysis of the situation in that area. Instead, there was a period of 45 minutes in which unrelenting hatred was encouraged and marshalled. It was all directed at members of the British Army in Northern Ireland.

This purveyor of hate reaches a new depth of gutter journalism, which will result in serious attacks on Her Majesty's forces in the near future. It is therefore vital that we should immediately discuss the existence of such programmes and how best to obviate their results. It is the duty of the Government to ensure that hate propaganda coming from such disturbed minds should not be allowed to add to the growing cesspool of lies and distortion about Ulster. The Government should immediately determine effectively to apply anti-hatred legislation to protect identifiable groups such as the British Army. If there is no adequate legislation, we should immediately attend to that. I therefore ask for a debate this afternoon.

The hon. Gentleman gave me notice before noon today that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the necessity of securing a more effective application of incitement-to-hatred legislation, when such incitement results from television or radio broadcasts".
As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take account of the several factors set out in the order but to give no reasons for my decision. I listened with care to the hon. Gentleman's representations, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.

I do not expect to be in the Chamber at the conclusion of the Ten-Minute Bill, so I appeal to hon. Members to be strict with themselves over the length of their speeches in the Ferranti debate, which has to finish at 7 o'clock. Every hon. Gentleman who has written to me appears to have a claim to be called.