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Scheduled Offences (Royal Prerogative Of Mercy)

Volume 86: debated on Thursday 14 November 1985

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will review his practice in releasing under the royal prerogative of mercy persons imprisoned for scheduled offences.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the justified public indignation that is excited by these unexplained decisions will become tenfold when it is known that they are open to the influence of Ministers of the Irish Republic? That will infuriate those who regard them as insults that are directed at those who have been bereaved or injured.

On the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, I understand that it has never been the practice to give reasons for the exercise of the royal prerogative, and I confirm that I propose to maintain that position.

In respect of any speculation into which the right hon. Gentleman entered in the second part of his question, I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State.

In the right hon. Gentleman's speech to the East Belfast rotary club he said that the Government had already taken into account questions and points of concern put to him by the Irish Republic. Did he mean that the Government were already doing what the Irish Republic wanted them to do, as well as being prepared to do it in future?

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether his decisions will be influenced by the formal arrangements with the Irish Republic?

I say again what I have already said—that I urge the House to study the details and the consequences of any agreement, should there be one, before entering into any judgments.