§ Major HAMILTON
(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Gracious Speech on the occasion of the opening of the Northern Parliament in Ireland will be based on the advice of His Majesty's Ministers in this country, or His Majesty's Ministers in Northern Ireland?
The speech which His Majesty will deliver will not announce the programme of legislation of the Government of Northern Ireland, upon which the local Ministers would naturally advise, but will be an act of State by the Head of the Empire at the opening of the new Parliament. It will therefore be made on the advice of the Ministers responsible to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
§ Major HAMILTON
Will there be anything in the nature of a King's Speech setting forth the policy of His Majesty's Ministers in Northern Ireland after His Majesty has graciously opened that Parliament?
That I cannot say. In any case it will not be the speech which will be delivered by His Majesty at the opening of the Parliament. Whether the Viceroy will subsequently on the advice of his Ministry deliver a speech setting forth the programme of the Ministry, or whether that programme will be set forth in a Ministerial declaration by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, is not for us to state, and I cannot say.
§ Lieut.-Colonel CROFT
Is it not a fact that in any Assembly comparable to that of the Ulster Parliament in other parts of the Empire there is no precedent to show that there has ever been a King's Speech of the character suggested?
I am not clear as to the meaning of my hon. and gallant Friend, but every Session of each Parliament of the Empire is, I think, habitually opened by the representative of the King in the country concerned reading a speech prepared on the advice of the local Ministers, and containing their programme on the same lines as the programme of the Government in this country is put into the King's Speech here. Of course, there is no exact precedent for the presence of the King at the opening of any Parliament, except this 1085 Parliament, but there is an analogous case when his Majesty, as the Duke of York, shortly after the accession of King Edward, went to Australia and opened the first Commonwealth Parliament of Australia. The course which we are taking on this occasion is the course which was taken then, and I think that it is clearly the proper constitutional course.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
Am I to understand from that that any speech which His Majesty may graciously make at the opening of the North of Ireland Parliament to-morrow will be one for which Ministers in the North of Ireland will have no responsibility whatever?
Certainly. The speech which His Majesty will make at the opening of the North of Ireland Parliament will be a speech for which Ministers here take full responsibility. It has been prepared on their advice.