Skip to main content

Anglo-Irish Relations

Volume 126: debated on Monday 1 February 1988

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

4.18 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"The conclusions reached at the meeting between the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Ministers of the Irish Government yesterday."
It is regrettable that I have to make this application as a matter of urgency and importance. The Government should have made a statement. They have been dodging it since we were promised an early statement on these matters 10 days ago by the Attorney-General.

The matter is urgent and important because this Government and the Irish Government have referred to the constraints and strains that have now been placed on Anglo-Irish relationships and the difficulties that have been raised about confidence in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The level of public confidence in the RUC is now as low as it was at the time of bloody Sunday and the hunger strikes. While it is true for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to say that he was not in office while the shoot-to-kill policy took place, he was in office when Stalker was obstructed in his inquiries into that policy.

We are entitled to have in the House the list of areas of concern and proposals for improvement that the Irish Government are said to have given to the Secretary of State for discussion by the Cabinet. We are entitled to know why the Irish Government felt it necessary to go to the Cabinet. Was it because they did not trust the Secretary of State? Was it because the Prime Minister had authorised the Attorney-General's statement a week ago last Monday? All that is happening against a background of a Greek chorus of the regular Stalker revelations that seem to contradict every item that the Attorney-General told the House about last Monday.

The replies to the Stalker revelations from the Secretary of State, the Home Secretary, the Attorney-General and the RUC have been deafening in their silence. The dogs have not been barking. They are hoping that the matter will go away. We are determined that it shall not go away. The House has a right to discuss such matters urgently in Government time, and that is what should be done.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) seeks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the conclusions reached at the meeting between the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Ministers of the Irish Government yesterday."
I have listened with care to what the hon. Member has said. He knows that when considering an application under Standing Order No. 20 I must have regard for the criteria laid down in the Standing Order. I regret that I do not consider that the matter he has raised as being appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20. I therefore cannot submit his application to the House.