HC Deb 07 November 1921 vol 148 cc21-2
37. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Prime Minister whether he can assure the House that nothing will be done by the British Government to coerce or to bring pressure to bear upon the Government and people of Northern Ireland with a view to forcing them into surrendering any of the territory or rights granted to them by the Government of Ireland Act?


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has any information to the effect that the representations of Sinn Fein are prepared to abandon the claim for Irish independence, provided that the Government consents to make certain modifications of the Constitutions set up by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, in the direction of reducing the area under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Northern Ireland or of changing the Constitution and powers of the Council of Ireland; and whether, seeing that such a proposal, if made, would be an example of the device of putting forward impossible demands in order to use their subsequent withdrawal as a means to extort concessions which would not otherwise be considered, he can give an assurance that under no circumstances will the Cabinet be induced by the employment of this device, or otherwise, to consent to any change in the powers of, or the extent of territory subject to, the Parliament of Northern Ireland, or in the constitution of the Council of Ireland?


The House by an overwhelming majority has confirmed the decision of the Government to enter the Conference, and in the course of the Debate the position of the Government was again stated by myself and the Leader of the House. But no Conference could proceed if each fresh rumour as to its discussions or as to the attitude of the Members taking part in it were to be made the subject of Parliamentary question and answer. I must therefore very respectfully urge my hon. Friends not to press their questions.


Can the right hon. Gentleman not repeat to the House the definite assurance which he has again and again given, that under no circumstances would Ulster be coerced or pressed to surrender anything which she had been given by the Government of Ireland Act?


As the right hon. Gentleman has replied to my question also, while I very gladly accede to his request not to press it further at present, I would ask, does he realise that Question 43 is based upon an anxiety which is very generally shared by many of his most loyal supporters?


Yes, I do realise that, and so do all my colleagues.


In the course of his speech a day or two since when the right hon. Gentleman induced many Members to follow him into the Lobby, did the right hon. Gentleman not say that, whatever else happened, Ulster would not be coerced?


That is exactly the same question put to me in a different form.

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