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Northern Ireland

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 25 November 1982

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Northern Ireland Act 1982


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will introduce legislation to repeal the Northern Ireland Act 1982.

As we cannot force people to be free, when does the Secretary of State expect to bring together representative groups throughout Ireland with a view to discussing a united and independent Ireland at an early date?

The Government remain committed to the principle of self-determination, which was made statutory by the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. The Assembly elections showed conclusively that the majority of voters favour the maintenance of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. That remains the main plank of the Government's platform.

If the Secretary of State does not intend to repeal the Act, will he amend the legislation that was passed by Parliament on the mistaken assumption that the minority, as defined by the Secretary of State, would participate in the Assembly?

No, Sir. Nor do I think that there was any such assumption by Parliament.

In view of the election of five members of Sinn Fein, which is dedicated to the use of the Armalite bullet as well as the ballot box, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that he needs to redefine what he means by widespread community support?

No. There are several ways in which widespread community support can be defined. I suggest that the Social Democratic and Labour Party is an important part of that.

Youth Opportunities Programme


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are currently engaged in the youth opportunities programme in Northern Ireland.

The youth opportunities programme in Northern Ireland is being phased out and replaced by the youth training programme.

At the end of October 1982 there were 5,412 young people still engaged in the youth opportunities programme. The new comprehensive youth training programme, under which schemes generally began on 20 September, has got off to an excellent start, and by the end of October 6,417 young people were in training.

Is the Minister aware of reports of a lack of consultation with the trade unions and education boards about the employment of youths in those schemes?

There has been no intent not to consult. I agree that the trade union movement declined to take part in the Manpower Advisory Council, which is especially involved with the youth training programme. I am glad that, as a result of recent consultations, that will change. The full participation of the trade union movement in, and its support for, the programme is essential for the programme's success.

Does the Minister agree that the figures he has given are utterly derisory as there are 130,000 unemployed people in Northern Ireland? Does he agree also that it was the absence of any schemes to give employment to disaffected youth in Northern Ireland that led to the very problem that the Secretary of State has condemned—the complete alienation of young people in Northern Ireland, especially those in my constituency?

My figures about the youth training programme are extremely encouraging. Next year, everyone in the 16 and 17-year-old age group will either be in full-time education, or have a job or, if they wish, participate in the youth training programme. That is excellent news.

With regard to what the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fin) said, what is the Minister training those young people for?

It is an easy jibe to ask what is the good of putting those people in the programme if there is no job for them at the end of it. I recognise that even at the end of the programme there will be some who do not immediately get a job.

It is clear from the operation of, for example, the youth opportunities programme that such schemes, especially the new youth training programme, which is more comprehensive and thorough than previous ones, prepare young people better for their adult and working life. With regard to the prospects for Northern Ireland industry, we shall have a considerably better trained work force that should be more attractive to inward investors.

New Industry


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is at present taking to attract new industry to Northern Ireland.

The Industrial Development Board maintains a continuous drive in search of new investment in the United States of America, Japan, Scandinavia, Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe. The United States of America offers the best prospects at present and our representation there is being strengthened. The board's promotional efforts are supported by visits by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and myself, and we have both been in the United States of America within the past five weeks.

Does the Minister agree that the recent report of the Select Committee on Industry and Trade seems to show that the Republic of Ireland has been more successful in attracting industry than have the British Government and their agencies in respect of Northern Ireland? Why is that? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a reduction in unemployment would probably be the most beneficial thing to happen to that unhappy place?

For some years there has been more investment in the Republic from America and Great Britain than there has been in Northern Ireland. If one wants one reason for that, it is the image of Northern Ireland in the minds of would-be investors. However, that image is improving. The Industrial Development Board was established to provide the most efficient machinery with which to attract inward investment. We have a good package of incentives and I intend, as the relevant Minister, to see that those incentives are put to good use.

Does my hon. Friend agree that unless the two communities in Northern Ireland show a willingness to work together through the Assembly, private industry will have no incentive to invest in the Province?

There are plenty of encouragements for private industry to invest in the Province, such as the quality of the work force and the financial incentives. However, I agree that if those representing the two communities could work together, both within and without the new Assembly, it would be a great help.

Is it not political and economic nonsense that two boards—one north and one south of the Border—are trying to outbid each other for new investment? Will the Government make a new approach to the newly elected Government in Dublin with a suggestion for an all-Ireland economic development council?



asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the new Assembly; what initial programme of work he envisages being undertaken; and when it will first meet.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the current position of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the working of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The first meeting of the newly elected Assembly took place on 11 November. The Assembly electe 1 the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) as its Presiding Officer and I congratulate him on his election to this important and responsible office. A Procedures Committee was then appointed by the Assembly under the chairmanship of the Presiding Officer. and I understand that it is due to report today. My ministerial colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office and I loos forward to establishing an effective working relationship with the Assembly, especially through its six statutory Committees. As the House knows, I shall be meeting the Assembly on Tuesday 30 November to discuss security.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that even those who, like me, view the Assembly with a degree of enthusiasm that is just about detectable under an electron microscope nevertheless welcome his decision to talk to the Assembly next week about security? Will my right hon. Friend be able to announce any tough new measures to the Assembly to deal with murder and terrorism, as some certainly seem to be needed?

I am grateful for the rather lukewarm support that my hon. Friend has given to the Assembly. I shall speak to the Assembly next Tuesday, with its permission, and I had better keep my remarks until then—.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, all right, but I have nothing new to announce except the British Government's continal efforts to combat terrorism wherever we can.

What will the Secretary of State's attitude be towards those Assembly Members who have decided to boycott it? Will he have any talks with those Members? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that one of our criticisms of the constitutional proposals that he put before us was that there was no all-Irish dimension? Will he promise the House that once the elections in Ireland are over there will be talks with the new Government to see what can be done about future and further progress in Northern Ireland?

I have already had talks with the SDLP and would welcome further talks with it as and when it is convenient and right. All Members of the Assembly will have the opportunity to raise constituents' problems with Ministers, as requested and required. The question of wider talks with the new Government in the South will have to be considered when that Government have been formed. However. I hope that we shall be able to have good relations with whatever Government are set up.

Have not successive Governments urged supporters of the IRA to proceed not through the bullet, but through the ballot box? However strongly one opposes the IRA's methods and policies—and I certainly feel strongly about them—is it not curious to suggest that the fact that some of its supporters have been elected is in itself a criticism of the Assembly?

That certainly cannot be held to be a criticism of holding free elections. The more that we can hold free elections in Northern Ireland, the better it will be for the people of Northern Ireland and the more likely we are to turn people away from the Armalite rifle and towards the ballot box and true democracy.

Is it not a fact that, no matter how well intentioned the Government are, the minority community will have no part in the Assembly? Is it not also true that some of us, including myself, warned the Minister when discussions took place at the very beginning, that those pople would not take part because they had told us so? As a result of this ploy, is not the situation worse than it was before? Did not killings start immediately after the elections took place, when a degree of legitimacy had been given to the IRA because of the mass vote of the minority community for Sinn Fein?

I entirely refute the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question. Those who have studied Northern Ireland over the years know that the killings did not start after the elections. Regrettably, they have been going on for a very long time. We have always known that the SDLP would find it difficult to join the Assembly. However, I hope that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends will do their best to encourage the SDLP to play a full part.

If my right hon. Friend's intention in the Northern Ireland Act was to restore a measure of local government to Northern Ireland, how long can he allow one minority party to stand in the way of the democratically expressed wishes of the vast majority of those living in the Province? Will he therefore reconsider his earlier answer about not amending the Act, at least in the near future, if that boycott continues?

Unless there is widespread acceptance throughout the community in Northern Ireland for what we are seeking to do, and for devolved Government, there is no chance of creating the political stability that we all desire.

That is the basis upon which the Government set out the Northern Ireland Act, and that remains the position.

United States Of America (Visit)


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the United States of America.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the United States of America.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what contacts with United States authorities he had on his recent visit to that country bearing upon allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency has been involved with supplies for terrorists operating in the United Kingdom.

I visited the United States of America from 14 to 22 November. I addressed several influential audiences, gave a number of radio, television, and press interviews, called on the deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Kenneth Darn, and undertook some industrial development business.

I sought to inform those I met about the current political situation in Northern Ireland, to promote the advantages of Northern Ireland as a location for inward investment and to re-emphasise earlier appeals for Americans not to give political, financial or moral support to organisations associated with the use of violence in Northern Ireland.

During my discussions with Mr. Dam I received the strongest possible assurances that the United States authorities would continue to pursue and prosecute those engaged in sending arms illegally to Northern Ireland.

I thank my right hon. Friend on behalf, I am sure, of the vast majority of people in Great Britain and, I hope, in Northern Ireland, for the efforts that he and his predecessors on both sides of the House have put into their jobs. There has been constant carping in the House about the efforts of successive Governments who have tried to solve that difficult problem.

Is my right hon. Friend aware, and does he believe, that the American Government are aware of the widespread disgust felt in this country at the behaviour of both the jurors and some of the acquitted in a recent New York court case? Can he, through the Foreign Office, bring to the attention of the American Government the feeling of many of my constituents, and others, that unless the American Government are more supportive of the Government we shall continue to see a growth of anti-American feeling?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he said. The American Government are aware of the strong feelings that have been expressed on this side of the Atlantic. They share our disappointment at the outcome of the court case. Just as in this country the Executive and the judiciary are separate, so the American Government can do no more than make certain that the evidence produced at the courts is the best available. The FBI does all it can to prevent the supply of arms.

Did my right hon. Friend see reports when he was in the United States about the president of Noraid, Mr. Flannery, who, when asked during the court case whether it was true that he had been running guns to terrorists in Northern Ireland for the past seven years, denied that and said that he had been doing so for over 20 years? Does my right hon. Friend think that more should be done to persuade ordinary, decent Americans, of whatever national extraction, not to give money to or support Noraid?

Everything must be done to persuade the American public not to support Noraid. That was one of the purposes of my visit. I am also certain that the United States Government intend to prevent by any means they can cash reaching Noraid. They have already taken court action to force Noraid to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act and register as an agent of the Provisional IRA.

I acknowledge the steps that have been taken by the FBI to prevent arms smuggling. Will the Secretary of State admit that the recent acquittal in the New York court, which resulted from claims that the CIA was involved, confirms beliefs already held and gives moral backing to the IRA terrorists? I accept that a President can be unaware of CIA activities, but will the Secretary of State say what representations have been made to the United States authorities about such allegations?

That was obviously a matter that came up during my talks. I am satisfied that the CIA was not and is not involved in the smuggling of arms to Northern Ireland. The State Department described the allegation as ludicrous, and that remains the position.

I have seen how much good my right hon. Friend's visits to America have achieved. Will he encourage other people, not merely politicians but professional people—nurses, teachers and even police officers—to go to the United States and explain to the American public that all people of all religions wish the trade in arms to Northern Ireland to stop?

Yes, Sir. The more people who go, the better it will be, provided that when they go they do so in the right spirit and use the most suitable words to appeal to a sceptical American audience.

When the Secretary of State goes to America, or meets American industrialists will he make it clear that much more stringent criteria will be applied to ventures such as that of De Lorean, that where the taxpayer supports such a venture with a majority shareholding, the taxpayer will retain majority control, and that the Government have set their face firmly against ownership by American companies to which money can be apparently siphoned off in large quantities?

Yes, Sir. There is no doubt that whenever I can I make that point forcefully.

In spite of the difficulties about security in America—I know the difficulties of getting through to certain people, especially on the west coast of America—and the terrible economic position, can the Secretary of State say anything about any success that he had with inward investment? Are public investment and Government participation still his economic policy for Northern Ireland?

It is not the easiest time to attract American investment. There is a serious recession there at the moment and they are not thinking about a great deal of overseas investment. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State said this afternoon, we believe that we have an excellent package that should attract investment. It has to be stringently controlled, as I said to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer). We shall have to look at our package to see whether we can make it rather more suitable. We must continue, even during this period of recession, to keep the minds of American industrialists in touch with Northern Ireland so that when they pull out of the recession they will invest.

Republic Of Ireland (Contacts)


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what contacts have taken place in the last month between officials of his Department and those of the Republic of Ireland.

There have been a number of routine contacts between my officials and their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland on a wide range of practical day-to-day issues of common concern.

Do any of the Secretary of State's officials have authority to discuss with the officials of the Republic the Anglo-Irish dimension and the establishment of an Anglo-Irish parliamentary tier?

When will the Secretary of State put pressure on the new Government in the Republic about the vexed position of extradition? The European Parliament has now decided that those participating should sign the convention on terrorism, and the Republic is the odd man out. Can the Secretary of State put pressure on the Government of the Republic to do something about that?

I have noted the hon. Gentleman's remarks. We had better get the fresh Government first.

After yesterday's election in the Republic, will the Secretary of State take the opportunity to approach the new Government to discuss the possibility of an all-Irish dimension to the Assembly? Ultimately, that is the only way that we shall make it work.

In due course we shall have to discuss all matters with the House, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the new Government of the South.

Plastic Bullets


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many rounds of plastic bullets were fired in Northern Ireland in the last six months; how many injuries resulted; how serious the injuries were; and how many deaths resulted.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what complaints he has received about the use of plastic bullets in Northern Ireland.

Since 1 June 1982, 370 plastic baton rounds have been fired by the security forces in Northern Ireland and three people are believed to have been injured by them. There have been no deaths caused by baton rounds during that period.

Since the beginning of this year I or my Ministers have answered 19 questions in this House or in another place on the subject of baton rounds. In addition, I or members of my Department have replied to 35 letters; not all were complaints.

Will the Secretary of State tell the House whether any and, if so, how many members of the security forces have been prosecuted or disciplined for breaching the regulations on firing plastic bullets? The regulations say that plastic bullets should not be aimed above the waist. The 11 deaths from plastic bullets were all the result of injuries to the head and chest.

I cannot give the hon. Lady precise figures. In a recent case two soldiers were prosecuted, tried and acquitted. That case is now closed. I assure the hon. Lady that, for a whole range of reasons, the tightest control is now exercised over the use of plastic baton rounds.

As 14 people, half of them children, have been killed and hundreds more seriously injured by rubber or plastic bullets over the past decade, why has not one single soldier or policeman responsible been convicted of murder, manslaughter or even improper use of these lethal weapons? Instead of turning a blind eye to the murder of little children, is it not time that the Secretary of State imposed a complete ban on plastic bullets, along the lines of the recent Labour Party conference decision?

The hon. Gentleman should take on board the fact that if young children are used by others to form a riot or to give protection for others in a riot, they are bound at times to get hurt—

The right thing to do is to keep young children away from a riot. The security forces have an extremely difficult job. They do not enjoy the task that is set them. They are there to protect all the people of Northern Ireland.

They do their job to the best of their ability. They need to have additional protection at this time.

How many rounds of high velocity lead bullets have been fired at the security forces in the past six months? How many injuries have those bullets caused? How serious were those injuries, and how many resulted in death?

I cannot give the answer now. If the hon. Gentleman will put down a question on the matter he has raised, I shall try to answer it. I am not certain whether he is talking about high velocity lead bullets or 45-grain plastic baton rounds. I can perhaps reply to the hon. Gentleman in a separate answer.

Would it not be better if the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman), whose voice has been heard so often since she entered the House, gave her support to the forces of law and order in Northern Ireland in the same way as we presume she supports them in her constituency.

Homeless Persons


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many homeless people were housed by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in Northern Ireland during 1981.

The precise figures sought by the hon. Gentleman are not available, but I understand from the chairman of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive that during 1981 the executive provided housing in 870 cases where the applicant was homeless, was under immediate threat of homelessness, or was placed in an extremely difficult or dangerous situation because of civil disturbance.

Does the Minister agree that there is strong feeling that these matters are being made more difficult because they are caught between two Departments? Will he consider placing statutory responsibilities on the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to clarify matters?

A code of practice to clarify any areas of uncertainty is expected to be published by the end of March next year. It is a high priority of the Housing Executive to house the homeless.

I recognise the needs of Belfast in respect of the homeless, but will the Minister keep in mind the other urban areas outside Belfast, where there are also homeless people?

There are 10,000 re-lets a year available to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in the Province outside Belfast as well as within it. This should ensure adequate opportunity for rehousing people in rural areas where the need arises, provided they are prepared to go to an area where accommodation is available.

Will the Minister confirm that there are at least 1,000 empty houses in my constituency, many of them built within the past 10 years? Is he aware that the Housing Executive, with his approval, would be happy to give them away?

I cannot comment on the wishes of the Housing Executive about giving the houses away. I can confirm the figure that the hon. Gentleman has given of the number of empty houses in his constituency. We are seeking to dispose of them. As they are public property, they are not available to be given away.

Will the Minister accept that the re-development programme taking place in the city of 13elfast means that those on the homeless register who have never had a home occupy low priority? Is he aware that some of these people have had their names on the homeless register for years? Cannot he make a more equitable allocation of houses in redevelopment areas to help those who have never had a home?

Absolute priority is given to the homeless by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. If the hon. Gentleman has a particular case in mind and writes to me, I shall take up the matter with the executive.

Social Democratic And Labour Party


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next hopes to meet the leaders of the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

I met them earlier this month and there are no immediate plans for another meeting, but I am always ready to talk to that party's elected representatives.

Does not that reply and the Secretary of State's attitude show that he has accepted completely the Unionist veto and mean that there will never be any power sharing involving the minority? Does it mean that the Government are not prepared to make any gesture to the minority to try to get them to participate in the Assembly?

These are very difficult matters. It was laid down carefully in the Northern Ireland Act that there would have to be widespread acceptance throughout the community if there was to be any transfer of powers. That remains the position of the Government and of this House. I should have thought that it would be to the great benefit of all the parties in Northern Ireland for them to play a part in the Assembly and to seek gradually to move on toward some form of devolved administration.

When the Secretary of State meets the leaders of the SDLP, will he draw to their attention the fact that if proportional representation had not been used in the recent elections Sinn Fein would not have been elected and the SDLP would have been in a stronger electoral position?

If, within the next six months, a majority of the Members of the Assembly ask for powers over security, what will be the Secretary of State's answer?

Is the Secretary of State aware that it is the wish of many hon. Members, certainly those on the Liberal Bench, that the SDLP should play its proper part in the Assembly? We hope that he will convey that message to its leaders. Will the right hon. Gentleman also correct the impression put about by the BBC, among others, that there is no Catholic representation in the Assembly? Six of the 10 Alliance Members are Catholics.

Six Members of the Alliance Party who are Members of the Assembly are Catholics. They are playing an important part in the Assembly. I still hope that at some future date other people will join.

Capital Underspending


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is his latest estimate of the capital underspending in 1982–83 on housing and other environmental projects; and if he will seek to reduce it.

I do not at present expect that there will be any capital underspending on the housing programmes in 1982–83. Capital underspending on other environmental projects is expected to be relatively small.

Does the Minister agree that the high level of unemployment and the poor housing conditions throughout Northern Ireland point to the need to increase capital expenditure? Will he take steps to tackle the problems there by doing so?

The Housing Executive capital programme will amount this year to £169 million, in addition to which £34 million will be available in grants to the private sector. Housing associations are spending £29·5 million. These are high figures. The building programme in Belfast is the largest since 1875. I hope that the hon. Gentleman and Opposition Members will feel that this is some progress in the direction that the House would expect.

Does the Minister accept, unlike his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, that capital investment involves revenue expenditure'? Will he bear that fact in mind in planning expansion, especially in housing, where 37 per cent. of building firms are working at under half capacity.

The number of people unemployed in the construction industry in Northern Ireland has fallen by about 2,000 during the past 12 months. That shows that our capital expenditure programme is creating jobs on the ground.

Will the Minister tell the House what is happening in the negotiations about the £18 million that was to come from the European Community for housing in the Belfast area?

That is a different question. If the hon. Gentleman will table it, I shall endeavour to answer it.

Political Initiatives

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he proposes to take any further political initiatives in Northern Ireland.

The Government will continue to seek to give the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland a greater say in their own affairs in a way which is acceptable to both sides of the community.

As my right hon. Friend's latest initiative has proved abortive, will he now abandon it, and also all thoughts of a parliamentary tier—which can only encourage those who want a united Ireland—and instead provide Northern Ireland with the long period of stable government that it badly needs?

I hope that my hon. Friend will give me some support in helping to provide the long period of stable government that Northern Ireland needs. I do not believe that the way he suggests would bring that about.

I regret that the SDLP is not playing its full part in the Assembly. Am I right to assume—as I hope I am—that the cross-community support part of the Act remains valid, and does that mean that the SDLP plays its part in that cross-community support whether it is in or out of the Assembly?

That part must be valid, because it is part of an Act of Parliament. In answer to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the SDLP being outside the Assembly. only if the SDLP came into the Assembly and played its full part there would it be possible to find out whether there was the amount of cross-community support that was necessary for devolved government.

I am one of those who ensured that the Secretary of State would have the pleasure of an early opportunity to speak to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Bearing in mind what he said about security a few minutes ago, and that he said that he had nothing new to say to the Assembly, what does he hope to achieve on Tuesday afternoon?

That remains to be seen. As the hon. Gentleman was one of those who asked me to attend, perhaps he, too, should wait.

On the subject of initiatives, will my right hon. Friend answer directly the question that was posed to him a little earlier by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell)? Has my right hon. Friend given permission for any of his officials to indulge in discussions about the Anglo-Irish dimension? Will he give the House a direct answer to that question?

Assembly Elections


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the outcome of the recent elections to the Assembly in the Province.

The people of Northern Ireland have elected those whom they wish to represent them and the Assembly has now met. For the first time for eight years Northern Ireland has a locally elected Assembly which can get to grips with the Province's problems, not least in the economic sphere.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the non-participation by the SDLP and other minority parties means that the Northern Ireland Assembly is now a dead duck? Will he say what new positive initiatives he has in mind?

Hon. Members do neither their own cause not the cause of Northern Ireland any good by seeking to undermine and forecast events in Northern Ireland long before they are proved. I suggest that what is needed is a bit of patience, understanding and help.

In an endeavour to help the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, may I ask him to tell the House what initiatives he now has in mind for power-sharing, a parliamentary dimension, and an Anglo-Irish and a North-South dimension to encourage the SDLP to come to the Assembly?

It would be far better to allow things to settle down. I shall report later to the House.

Unemployment Statistics


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people are currently unemployed in Northern Ireland; and what percentage of those have been without work for more than one year.

At 11 October 1982, it was estimated that there were 113,700 unemployed claimants in Northern Ireland, of whom 43 per cent. had been continuously claiming unemployment benefit for more than one year.

Will the Minister's Department use the same fiddling techniques that have been adopted by the Secretary of State for unemployment for the figures for Great Britain as a whole and try to get the figures down by meddling with the books? Will the Minister bear in mind that if it is right and proper for this Government to allocate large sums of money to the Falkland Islands, a colony, it might be right and proper to allocate the same sort of money on a pro rata basis to another colony, Northern Ireland?

No, Sir. The House knows very well that Northern Ireland is not a colony. Equally, those who take any interest in Northern Ireland affairs know that it is an area of the United Kingdom that receives the highest per capita subvention from the Exchequer.