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Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 3 February 2010

At the beginning of January, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning confirmed a major act of decommissioning by the UDA. We applaud the leadership and courage behind that decision and those responsible.

Order. These are important and serious matters we are discussing, but on both sides of the Chamber there are far too many private conversations taking place. If people want to have private chats, the answer is simple: leave the Chamber.

The Secretary of State rightly says that there has been welcome decommissioning by the UDA, but he will also be aware of the worrying number of loyalist dissident assaults, which are up by almost 250 per cent. on the same time last year. What is his Department doing to ensure that the people who orchestrate and authorise such assaults face justice?

First, this is a matter for the Chief Constable. That being said, we are ensuring that the resources are available for him to deal with all those who are engaged in crime. If the agreement that we are trying to work through at Hillsborough succeeds, an additional £800 million will be available to policing and justice in Northern Ireland to help with these things. If the agreement is not reached, that money will not be available and the police will have to suffer the consequences of a failure to reach agreement.

Along with others, my right hon. Friend has played a major part in the decommissioning talks. They have certainly brought safety to Northern Ireland, but does he believe that there is more to come from decommissioning, and has he any news that he can share with the House today?

Let us reflect on the success of the decommissioning policy. We have seen full decommissioning from the Provisional IRA, the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association, and limited decommissioning is reported from the Loyalist Volunteer Force. It has been an extremely successful programme, but I should share with my hon. Friend the fact that next week, on 9 February, it comes to an end—the process will be over—and that will be that on decommissioning.