asked the Undersecretary for War if he will explain why the band of the 1st battalion of the Buffs did not play the National Anthem on the occasion of the Newry Agricultural Society's annual show at Newry on 27th June last, though it appeared, as customary, as the final item on the musical programme?
§ Colonel SEELY
I am informed that the Anthem was not played in deference to the representation of a member of the committee to the effect that it was desirable not to play the anthem for fear that when it had been played the public should conclude that the exhibition was over and leave the ground. It is quite usual for military bands playing at public entertain- 811 ments of this description to complete their programme without playing the National Anthem.
May I ask whether that has not been the custom in the Army when their bands play at such festivities, to conclude their proceedings by playing the National Anthem, and whether it is not the fact that everyone knows perfectly well that it does not follow because the band plays the National Anthem and leaves the ground, that the ground is to be closed up? Is he aware that this has occurred twice in the same place and has created much discontent among the loyal population of the north of Ireland?
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, can he tell me whether it is a fact that the president of this society is Lord Kilmorey, a Member of the House of Lords and president of the South Down Unionist Association? (Laughter.)
§ Colonel SEELY
If so, it may help to explain the fact, because I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that he has on this occasion really got hold of a mare's nest. I have seen a letter from the commanding officer of the Brigade, whose loyalty cannot be in any doubt, explaining that the only reason the National anthem was not played was the fear that the people might leave the ground thinking the fete was over, and the letter also states that this constantly happens and there is always a fear that when the National Anthem is played people may go away thinking the proceedings are over.
Will the right hon. Gentleman contradict the suggestion that Lord Kilmorey had anything to do with the band not playing the National Anthem; will he not, in the circumstances, state distinctly that Lord Kilmorey had nothing to do with it?