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Northern Ireland

Volume 80: debated on Thursday 13 June 1985

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

Since I last answered questions in the House on 9 May, four police officers and two civilians have died in incidents arising from the security situation in the Province. The recent tragedy at the Killeen border crossing point, in which the four police officers died, underlines the grave risks which the security forces continue to face in carrying out their duties. I am sure that the House will join me in paying tribute to their outstanding courage and determination to defeat terrorism. Our sympathies go to the families of the bereaved.

Since the beginning of this year a total of 230 people have been charged with serious offences, including 20 with murder and 18 with attempted murder, and 103 weapons, 5,715 rounds of ammunition and 3,858 lb of explosives have been recovered.

The House will be grateful to my right hon. Friend for that statement. Does he regret the reluctance of the Irish Police Commissioner, Mr. Wren, to meet and to co-operate with Sir John Hermon, the Chief Constable of the RUC, since such co-operation must be in the best interests of both police forces to ensure that terrorism is eliminated as speedily as possible?

It is not for me to analyse the position of Commissioner Wren of the Garda. As my hon. Friend knows, in many ways there is strong and worthwhile co-operation between the RUC and the Garda, as a result of which many lives have been saved. However, that must be buttressed by regular meetings at a senior level between the two police forces, and I would hope that it could be regarded as a matter of course that the two chiefs of the police forces should also meet from time to time

Is the Secretary of State aware that the Chief Constable of the RUC has consistently stated that he has no disagreement with Commissioner Wren? Has the commissioner or the Government of the Irish Republic identified to the British Government the substance of any disagreement on their part with the chief constable?

No, Sir. As the hon. Gentleman said, Sir John Hermon has always been keen to improve co-operation, which in many respects is good, but which could be improved.

Will the Secretary of State comment on the remarks made at the annual meeting of the police representative body in Northern Ireland, when Mr. Alan Wright said that the financial cuts were hindering the RUC in their campaign against terrorism, and that the deplorable state of some border police stations was telling against the morale of the RUC?

I have noted those remarks, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State was present at the dinner. There have been no financial cuts, in the sense that the RUC now disposes of greater financial resources than ever before. I understand what Mr. Wright said about the need for the renovation and replacement of buildings, and £20 million has been designated for that purpose for each of the next three years. That will match the needs created by the rapid expansion of the RUC in recent years.

Did the Secretary of State see the editorial in The Economist and think about its implications for security? It suggested that the Government were wrong to refuse to meet elected Sinn Fein representatives. Does he agree that it is a better democratic principle to meet the representatives of all elected parties than for the Government to pick and choose which representatives they find acceptable?

I am a little puzzled about The Economist. In one article it advises us not to talk to Dublin any more, and in another, as the hon. Lady said, it advises us to talk to Sinn Fein. I am clear that there is no purpose in deceiving ourselves that any conversations with Sinn Fein representatives would turn members of the Provisional IRA into decent, law-abiding citizens. In my view, that is not a possibility. The policy which I pursue is clearly different from that practised by the hon. Lady, though not, as I understand it, by her Front Bench spokesmen, who took an aeroplane to London before the embarrassing meeting took place. The policy in which I believe is that we should use every means within the law to distinguish between those in Northern Ireland who believe in and practise constitutional means and those who connive at violence.

Is my right hon. Friend content with the present practice in relation to marches and parades in the Province?

I have not lived through a marching and parading season yet, but I am uneasy about the present position. The policing of marches and parades on the present scale places a heavy burden on the police and in some cases, not all, can provoke sectarian conflict. Those who wish to see the police concentrate on the basic security problems of saving lives and protecting the community should think rather more carefully about the way in which some, not all, of those parades are organised and the burden that they place upon the RUC.

Despite Sir John Hermon's repeated statements that he wants to see an improvement in relations between the RUC and the Garda, does the Secretary of State agree that such an improvement will not be helped by public recriminations and by the apportioning of blame by the RUC or by the Garda?

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I agree with that. It is inevitable that occasionally feelings run high and that there are misunderstandings. Those produce statements and further misunderstandings. I do not believe that any of those principally involved believe that that is a sensible way to carry on.

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind the serious statement made by the Sinn Fein chairman of Omagh council, who claimed that if ordinary Northern Ireland council workmen don the Queen's uniform and are part-time members of the security forces and the IRA say that they are legitimate targets, he is happy to abide by that? What action will the Secretary of State and the Government take against Provo Kerr, and what protection will they give to my constituents who happen to be part-time members of the security forces and work for Omagh council? When shall we see an end to the mockery of Sinn Fein-IRA vampires in our councils in Northern Ireland?

Anyone in Northern Ireland, whether a councillor or not, is under the law, and any remarks made or any membership of any illegal organisation—whether the person involved is a councillor or not—fall to be examined by the police and prosecuting authorities in the same way as with any other citizen. I hope that people who make the kind of highly objectionable and disgusting remarks to which the hon. Gentleman referred have that point well in mind.

In view of the fact that the armed wing of Sinn Fein has murdered three councillors in County Armagh, an hon. Member and a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, what measures has the Secretary of State taken to protect other councillors, council officials and council workers in the Province?

The level of personal protection accorded to personalities in the Province who may be under threat is plainly something that the RUC studies constantly, sometimes adding and sometimes subtracting protection as it assesses the threat. With his long experience, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that that is the only sensible way to proceed.

While the House is pleased to hear my right hon. Friend's comment about cross-border co-operation, is it not a fact that the two chief officers of police have not met for more than two years, and that, however good that co-operation may be today, it would be much better if the two chief officers of police could be persuaded to get together more frequently?

It is true that the co-operation that exists and is particularly strong in the border areas would be buttressed and re-inforced if there was more regular contact and co-operation at senior levels of the police forces. It should become a matter of course, without need for publicity or notice, that the commanders of the two police forces occasionally meet.

For the avoidance of doubt, will the Secretary of State accept that the return to London yesterday of my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) and me for an evening engagement was arranged before we knew the timetable of the working group and the order in which it was seeing delegations. However strongly the right hon. Gentleman may disagree, as we all do, with some of the views expressed by Sinn Fein, does he accept that the essence of democratic and constitutional politics, in which we all profess to believe, is listening to people with whom we disagree? In particular, can the right hon. Gentleman justify refusing to talk to elected councillors about health and safety matters? Does he agree that those whose reaction to every circumstance is to throw a tantrum and walk out can hardly complain if they are seen as being more interested in dramatic discord than genuine understanding?

I am sorry to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation, because it means that he associated himself with the Labour party delegation's decision that it was right to receive Sinn Fein. I simply repeat what I believe to be the right attitude for people in positions of responsibility, which is to distinguish to the maximum extent permitted by the law between those, whether we agree with them or not, who practise constitutional means of arguing their objectives and those who connive at violence.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the recent cross-border incursions by British soldiers into County Louth and the consequences of it? Is he further aware that there have been many such incursions, that they are always one way, and that the soldiers always give the same reason— a map-reading error? What conclusions does the Secretary of State draw from the fact that the only soldiers in Ireland who appear to be able to read maps are Irish soldiers?

I am not so sure that there are many Irish soldiers in those areas. The hon. Gentleman is correct in drawing attention to an error that was made and has been acknowledged by the Army. He spoke of "consequences", and he may be talking about a certain tap and oil supply. I have no evidence to lead me to suppose that that incident had anything to do with the British Army.

Kilroot Power Station


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a further statement about the decision to convert the Kilroot power station to burning coal and lignite.

The decision to convert the first phase of Kilroot power station to dual solid fuel—oil firing was announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) on 22 May 1985. It has been widely welcomed in Northern Ireland as a first step towards reducing the costly dependence on oil.

I warmly welcome the decision to use lignite mined in Northern Ireland to fire a power station there. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that makes good sense economically, and that it will lead to a reduction of sulphur dioxide emissions from that power station compared with other conventional coal-fired power stations in the United Kingdom? If that is the case, is he aware that his Department is taking a welcome lead by setting an example to other Departments in playing a part in reducing what could be the severe effects of acid rain in the United Kingdom and acid rain exported to Scandinavia?

I am delighted to be a crusader in the House for clean air by the conversion of Kilroot power station to coal. The sulphur content of heavy fuel oil is 3 per cent., of coal 1 per cent., and of lignite in Northern Ireland 0.2 per cent. Therefore, the conversion of Kilroot to coal will cut by one third the amount of sulphur pollution. If we can eventually move to lignite production in the Crumlin area, we shall cut the sulphur content again by about 40 per cent.

As the Ayrshire coalfield had hoped to supply coal to Kilroot power station, will the Minister say what proportion of the solid fuel will be composed of lignite and what proportion will be occasioned by the burning of Ayrshire coal?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that supplementary question and I know that the NCB and the coal miners welcome the switch of Kilroot to coal. The intention of the switch at the outset is completely to coal. The transfer will cost £94 million and the saving will be between £25 million and £30 million a year. It will, therefore, pay for itself within three or four years—a relationship with capital expenditure currently almost without equal. If we decide eventually that lignite is right, and the test at the West Belfast station has not yet been completed, it will be used first not at Kilroot but near the mine. The intention for the foreseeable future, though not necessarily for the long-term future, is to use coal at Kilroot.

Stc Monkstown


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if discussions have taken place between Government Ministers, the chairman and chief executive of STC and trade union officials regarding job losses at STC Monkstown, Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

In the course of the past few months I have had discussions with STC's chairman, the Monkstown factory work force representatives and the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. I have also corresponded with STC's chairman. I have stressed my concern to secure the future of the factory and have promised that the Industrial Development Board of Northern Ireland will do all it can to help the company in its efforts to increase the factory's efficiency and to bring in new products.

I thank the Minister for his efforts so far. Does he accept that the privatisaton of British Telecom and the policy of purchasing from foreign companies contributed to the loss of 345 jobs in 1984 and will contribute to further job losses totalling 550 this year? Will he undertake to press the board of STC further to encourage the company to allocate products for manufacture at the Monkstown plant in Northern Ireland? May we be assured that the centralisation of STC activities in London is not a precursor to its withdrawal from Northern Ireland?

The answer to the first part of that supplementary question is that the Government are committed to a policy of free competition within the telecommunications sector. It is up to the manufacturing companies to exploit the opportunities available to them within that framework. The problem in relation to STC, as raised in the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, is that we have products there which have been sold in the past and are selling now. We need new products which will sell in the future. The whole problem of the Northern Ireland economy, of which the IDB is aware, is the need to encourage the development, by STC and other companies, of products that will sell in Northern Ireland, in Great Britain and throughout the world in the coming 20 to 30 years.

Crumlin Road Court (Trial)


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make arrangements to pay an official visit to observe a trial involving evidence from a self-confessed terrorist at the Crumlin road court.

Is the Minister aware that many people regard the present system of juryless trials at the Crumlin road court as outrageous? It would be appropriate for him to pay a visit to see the way in which trials take place, with no jury, where the decision is made solely on the word of a supergrass witness who stands to benefit from giving evidence, and where only the judge makes the decision. How much money has been paid in the last four years to supergrass witnesses for their evidence in such circumstances?

The figure for which the hon. Gentleman asks, £1·3 million in recent years, has previously been given in the House. The answer to the main point of his supplementary question is that the matter must be seen against the background of terrorism and the struggle to protect the citizens of Northern Ireland. Terrorism has in the past included the intimidation of jurors, and that is why the recent Baker report concluded that the Diplock courts should continue. The uncorroborated evidence of which the hon. Gentleman complains is admissible in England and Wales, under federal law in the United States and in many Western countries. It is for the court to decide how much weight should be placed on that evidence. It is much better that the court should decide than that politicians or others outside the court should decide.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who believe that the Maguires and Bernard Conlans were erroneously convicted of terrorism by an English court with an English jury, also believe that they would probably have been acquitted if they had been tried in Northern Ireland by a Diplock court with a greater knowledge of explosive cases?

My hon. Friend will not expect me to follow him too closely down the Maguire trail. However, it is true, and it is a notable figure, that of those in Northern Ireland who pleaded not guilty before the courts, 50 per cent. were acquitted by a jury, and a higher proportion, 53 per cent., were acquitted in Diplock courts.

In view of the Government's rejection of the principle of joint sovereignty, will the Secretary of State also reject the Dublin proposals for the involvement of, and a role for, the Republic's judges in Northern Ireland?

I have noticed a flurry of speculation in the press, including the lead story in The Irish Times today. It is difficult to comment in the House or in public on discussions between Governments that are going on all the time and are confidential, but the right hon. Gentleman is too shrewd a hand to allow himself to be carried away by such speculation.

Does not recent experience, including the acquittal of several alleged terrorists at trials where accomplice evidence has been admitted, show that the judiciary of Northern Ireland is well aware of the dangers of convicting on uncorroborated evidence of accomplices, and that its quality is at least as high as that of the judiciary in the rest of the United Kingdom?

Is it not a violation of both natural and legal justice that some self-confessed murderers are literally being paid to give evidence that will save their skins, and are doing so in trials without juries? The right hon. Gentleman said that it is all right for that to happen in England and Wales, but he omitted the fact that there are juries in England and Wales but not in Northern Ireland. Is he going to do nothing to set right such a travesty of justice in Northern Ireland?

I am looking, as the hon. Member knows, at the Baker report's proposals and I shall soon, I hope, be able to tell the House the way in which my mind is working. I am sure that it would be wrong, and a false service to the citizens of Northern Ireland, if we were either to abolish the Diplock courts and go back to the intimidation of jurors, or to pass extraordinary provision by which Parliament would rule out uncorroborated accomplice evidence, however much a court might later wish to assess its weight. That would be an extraordinary and untoward decision.

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind that opposition to the supergrass system comes not only from Republicans, but, almost unanimously, from the Unionist side of the House? Does he not realise that the Unionist side would defend a proper legal system, which is one of the systems under which we have to work? By taking uncorroborated evidence, the system under which we want to live is seriously weakened.

I agree that the sooner we can work toward the restoration of, or at least an increase in, jury trials, the more that everybody in the House and Northern Ireland will be pleased. The hon. Gentleman knows the proposals which the Baker report made in that direction, which I am weighing. I return to the basic point, which is that so long as intimidation of jurors is a problem in Northern Ireland we would be rash to suppose that we could reconcile justice with an untrammelled restoration of the jury system.

May I remind the Secretary of State that this question is about the use of supergrasses and that the vast majority of the citizens of Northern Ireland, to whom he referred, in both sections of the community, regard the supergrass system, according to recent opinion polls, as a very serious travesty of justice.

Let us suppose that a terrorist had committed a terrorist crime and that the only evidence available to bring him to justice was the evidence of one of his accomplices. As the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) said, it is not a matter of which community he belongs to. It would be very hard to say that that person could not be brought to justice even if the evidence of his accomplice would carry great weight in the court. Surely it must be right for the courts, whose independence has been rightly praised this afternoon, to make a decision in each case on the merits of that case.

Cross-Border Co-Operation


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next proposes to meet Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Ireland to discuss cross-border co-operation.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about co-operation with the Irish Republic, making special reference to security.

I met the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Barry, on 30 May. No date for a future meeting with Irish Ministers has been set. I welcome close co-operation with Irish Ministers in areas where we can work together to our mutual benefit. It is essential that we co-operate closely in dealing with the common threat of terrorist violence. I welcome the co-operation that exists at present between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Garda and I hope that this can be developed further.

Is the Secretary of State aware that many people regard talks between the British Government and the Dublin Government as crucial, not just in areas of security, but in areas covering the whole range of affairs in Northern Ireland? Is he further aware that, as all that we have to go on are pessimistic newspaper leaks that are causing a great deal of dismay, it would be better if the secret diplomacy came to an end and he were frank about what is going on? It would be better if the Secretary of State said this to us instead of always being scared about what the Unionists might say to him if he revealed something about these discussions.

One or two contradictions are embedded in that question. We have frequent discussions with Irish Ministers within the framework of the Intergovernmental Council, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman's remarks about those discussions. We are holding serious and confidential discussions with the Irish Government to establish whether the relationship sketched in the Chequers communique last November could be made more substantial. It would not do much good to break off the negotiations at this stage and reveal their contents to the public. It may be a little time yet before we know whether they will succeed in the form of an outcome that would have to be explained and defended in this House.

Did not the Taoiseach describe the IRA as "our common enemy"? Despite the reported disagreements between the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, has not the co-operation between those two admirable forces saved many lives on both sides of the border?

That is true, and it is one reason why we should like the existing co-operation to be strengthened and improved.

Has the Secretary of State noticed the good news of the increased recruitment of Catholics — between 10 and 12 per cent. — into the RUC? [Interruption.] It is a good step upwards. Is there any possibility of the two police forces holding joint training exercises and getting together to try to reach an understanding of the problems?

There has been an increase in the proportion of Catholics joining the RUC, which I welcome. However, the hon. Gentleman will accept that there is a long way to go before we can be satisfied about the position. A great deal depends upon what I hope will be a growing understanding between the leaders of the nationalist minority in the north and the police force. As for the hon. Gentleman's second question, I should like to move in that direction, but it has to be a step at a time.

In recent months, 14 members of the RUC have been brutally butchered in my constituency by the IRA. The Secretary of State's words ring hollow in the ears of my constituents. The co-operation to which he refers with the Irish Republic is a sham and non-existent. Does the Secretary of State not recognise that fact?

It is certainly true that the hon. Member's constituency, above all other constituencies in the Province, has suffered grievously in the course of this year. The response of the great majority of his constituents in both communities has been very steady and praiseworthy. I think that the hon. Gentleman went a little too far in his remarks, because I could take him to a place on the border, not far from his constituency, where the local RUC superintendent, if asked about his personal co-operation with his Garda counterpart across the road or across the river, would say that it was good and useful.

Bearing in mind the importance to cross-border security and co-operation between the two police forces of a Royal Ulster Constabulary with a considerable number of Catholics in it—and it needs to have more — and bearing in mind also the apparent ignorance of some Irish Ministers, particularly Mr. Barry, about the facts of the case, will my right hon. Friend take an early opportunity to reaffirm to the Irish Ministers that there is a 10 per cent. Catholic component in the RUC and a 12 per cent. recruitment rate, and that he and his fellow Ministers want to see both figures increased?

The Irish know that. Mr. Barry and I regularly find opportunities to enlighten each other's ignorance.

Will the Secretary of State accept that the Opposition welcome the fact that the serious and confidential discussions with the Irish Government are continuing? He has not, however, denied the aura of pessimism in relation to the talks to which my hon Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs) referred. Can the Secretary of State confirm that Her Majesty's Government will, with the utmost vigour, press the talks to a successful conclusion?

Sometimes in the past few months there has been too much optimism about the talks and sometimes there has been too much pessimism. What I see and experience is a steady negotiation, seriously conducted, on both sides, but I do not yet know and cannot yet tell the House whether it will succeed.

Having had the opportunity of discussing with members of the Garda on one side of the border and with members of the RUC on the other side their practical co-operation, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will accept that at the operational level there is good co-operation, intelligence and information-gathering between the two forces? Nevertheless, will he accept that the recent incident at Killeen has raised some real anxieties among operational members of the RUC, and that there may be a case for some independent investigation into exactly what happened, and whether the four dead officers were set up before they were killed?

There is a police investigation proceeding into what happened and my hon. Friend, with his experience, will not expect me to elaborate on that. I think that the police are the right people to do the investigation and bring to justice, if they can, those responsible for a particularly atrocious crime.

May I ask the Secretary of State, when in discussions with Irish Ministers on cross-border co-operation, to demand that action be taken against those terrorists who are hiding in the South under a cloak of respectability? Will he take steps to demand that they be apprehended and returned to justice in Northern Ireland?

Yes, indeed. When there is proof that we can adduce, or that can be adduced in a court of law in the North, we do not hesitate to ask for the return of those concerned. As the hon. Gentleman knows, often it is not necessarily a question of proof, which may already be available. It is a question of wanting information that could be useful operationally.

Anti-Discrimination Safeguards


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has any plans to introduce additional safeguards against discrimination in Northern Ireland.

A wide range of laws and powers to safeguard individuals against discrimination have been in place for over a decade. We keep a careful watch on the effectiveness of these measures. I have already welcomed the review to be undertaken by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights. I am examining information about the relative social and economic positions of the major denominational groups in Northern Ireland. I shall shortly publish data about that and make a statement about the Government's proposals for further consideration of this matter.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his very full reply. Does he agree that outside interference in that area is not helpful? In particular, does he agree that the adoption by American companies of the so-called McBride principles would not be helpful for employment or equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland?

My hon. Friend is quite right. I have been encouraged by the number of people in Northern Ireland and the United States, usually supporters of the nationalist community, who have seized that point and are explaining to Americans that the McBride campaign could damage the whole community in Northern Ireland.

Discrimination in employment in Northern Ireland is illegal. Therefore the best way to secure fresh jobs for the nationalist minority is to secure fresh jobs for Northern Ireland.

Improvement Grants


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what period of time elapses between application for and authorisation of improvement grants; and if he is satisfied with the performance of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in this respect.

This is a matter for the chairman of the Housing Executive, who has advised me that the average time taken is 15 months. However, progress has recently been made to cut the backlog and that should contribute to an improvement in the time taken to process new applications.

While welcoming the Minister's understanding that improvement will occur, may I ask whether he acknowledges that some people have been on the list for two years and that some of them have died before their applications have been approved? Indeed, the increase in costs has made it impossible for people to proceed.

I am aware of the problem. I am pleased that we have cut the backlog, which peaked about 15 months ago, by about two thirds. We are presently reviewing with the Housing Executive ways in which we can target grants more effectively, to take account of both personal and housing need.

In the context of housing policy, will my hon. Friend say a word about his right-to-buy programme and whether home ownership is in fact conducive to greater stability in society, including greater stability in the Province?

I agree with my hon. Friend. We have managed to sell 26,000 Housing Executive homes in Northern IreIand to theirtenants. There are 150 applications a week and 100 completions. I think that that should have some of the benefits to which my hon. Friend referred.

Elections (Identification Documents)


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what use he intends to make of the power to extend by statutory instrument the prescribed identification documents in the Elections (Northern Ireland) Act 1985.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
(Mr. Nicholas Scott)

My right hon. Friend is currently reviewing the list of specified documents in the light of experience at the district council elections on 15 May. The Government will in due course consider bringing forward legislative proposals to apply the specified document requirement to other categories of elections held in Northern Ireland.

Making use of the blessed interval between elections to which we are now looking forward in Northern Ireland, will the Government be careful to consult all those with practical experience derived from the local government elections a month ago?

The Assembly has already had a debate on that subject, and we shall be studying that. We are ready to listen to representations from any quarter in Northern Ireland about the range of the documents electors might produce or, indeed, other aspects of the conduct of those elections.

Is my hon. Friend certain and satisfied that those wishing to take part in the recent elections in Northern Ireland were able to do so and were not denied the opportunity because they had the wrong documents available on the prescribed list?

We got the balance about right. The overriding fact is that, as the Irish News put it, personation was well and truly buried at this election as the result of our legislation. That was our aim, and we achieved it.

Can the Minister assure us that the Central Services Agency is doing everything in its power to issue a post-1973 medical card to everyone in Northern Ireland?

In giving that assurance, I wish also to pay the warmest tribute to the staff of the Central Services Agency for their efforts in putting out more than 50,000 cards immediately before the election.

Will the Minister keep in mind the proposal put in this House—[Interruption.]—when the matter was debated by—[Interruption.]

Will the Minister keep in mind the proposal put to this House by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume) that those who wished to have their names on the electoral list would have to sign the forms themselves and put their date of birth, which would be duplicated so that the presiding officer could properly check that all those voting were on the list?

As I said earlier, we shall want to review the experience of the district council elections and ensure that in future elections personation is as well and truly buried as it was in those elections.

Enterprise Ulster


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the planned level of funding for Enterprise Ulster for the financial year 1985–86.

Is it not a fact that funding in real terms has increased, yet the minimum target for 1985–86 of 1,000 newly created jobs has remained the same?

What the hon. Gentleman says is broadly true. The cost per individual of the Enterprise Ulster scheme is much higher than the cost of, say, the ACE scheme. The net cost of the Enterprise Ulster scheme is £1,899 per head, compared with £345 per head for the ACE scheme. The planned level of funding for Enterprise Ulster was set to ascertain how many jobs could be done under that scheme compared with other schemes.