§ 10.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn
On a point of procedure, if the hon. Gentleman will allow me. I would like to ask whether, in fact on the Amendment which the hon. Gentleman is about to move, we are raising the points which are raised in the proposed new Clause (Provisions as to Northern Ireland) which is on the Paper in the name of the Home Secretary?
§ Mr. Benn
In that case I shall be right in raising the point which I want to raise. At an earlier stage in the proceedings I raised this point of procedure, or perhaps it is a point of Order. My contention is that Sub-section (2) of the Secretary of State's proposed new Clause is outside the Title of the Bill, because it amounts to an amendment of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920.The reply of the Government is that in their view that is not the case. The reasons why I think it is outside the Title of the Bill, and in fact is a substantial amendment of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, are these: First of all, the Government of Ireland Act lays down, in Section 9, that certain matters relating to land are not within the competence of the Northern Ireland Government; and Section 4 specifically includes, as matters not within the competence of the Northern Ireland Government:The making of peace or war, or matters arising from a state of war.I notice that in Clause 6 of the Bill the words"hostile attack" are used, so I imagine that the Bill does deal with matters arising from a state of war. Therefore it appears to me that the right course for the Government to pursue would have been to amend the Government of Ireland Act, and not to pretend by this strangely worded declaratory Subsection, that they always had the power to do these things. That is my first point. My second point is that, if it be a fact, as the Under-Secretary says, that Sub-section (2) is merely declaratory, and that the power exists already, under the Government of Ireland Act, to clear up these points, I would point out that Section 51 of the Government of Ireland Act lays down a special procedure for clearing up doubts as to what powers do and what powers do not reside with the 1052 Government of Northern Ireland. Therefore, the questions that I would put to you, Colonel Clifton Brown, are, first: Is this Amendment in fact a substantial Amendment of the Government of Northern Ireland Act, and, therefore, out with the Title of the Bill; and, secondly, if not, is the Amendment otiose or superfluous inasmuch as the machinery for making such a declaration already exists in Section 51 of the Government of Ireland Act?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I must confess that it is extremely difficult for me to answer those questions, since I have not had sufficient time in which to consider them, but on the face of it I must rule against the right hon. Gentleman. It does not seem to me, as far as I can tell, that the Sub-section in question is unnecessary or outside the scope of the Bill. It does not strike me that either of those contentions is sound, and, therefore, I must conclude that the proposed new Clause is in order.
§ 11.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Peake
I beg to move, in page 79, line 43, to leave out Sub-section (2).
I was going to suggest to the Committee, when the right hon. Gentleman rose, that it might be for the general convenience to take the discussion of this Amendment and of the proposed new Clause of the Home Secretary at the same time, and then to take a Division, if a Division is challenged, on either the one or the other, as the right hon. Gentleman may prefer. The general purpose of the Amendment is to give effect to an agreement which has been reached, subject to Parliamentary approval, between the Treasury and the Northern Ireland Ministry of Finance, for the payment to the Northern Ireland Exchequer by the United Kingdom Exchequer of a contribution in aid of the cost of civil defence. This contribution is not to exceed a total of £ 750,000 for the next four financial years or £ 50,000 in any subsequent year, the amounts, of course, being determined, as stated in the body of the new Clause, by the Treasury from time to time. Sub-section (1) of the new Clause provides thatThe provisions of this Act, other than the provisions of this Section, shall not extend to Northern Ireland.I think the whole Committee will agree that it would be administratively impos- 1053 sible, in a Bill of this kind, to apply its provisions to Northern Ireland directly, because that would involve direct negotiations and direct interference by the Treasury with the local authorities in Northern Ireland, and, on both administrative and legislative grounds — that is to say, under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920— such a course would be practically impossible. Sub-section (2) of the new Clause, as I said in answer to a question by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) this afternoon, is declaratory of the law, and it follows on a provision in the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1937, of a similar nature. The question of Civil Defence was, of course, not specifically dealt with in the Government of Ireland Acts, 1920 and 1922. In fact, at that time, obviously, this kind of defence was not in contemplation at all. Doubts existed in 1937 as to whose function this form of defence was; and that was the reason why we declared in Section 14 of the 1937 Act that:It is and always has been within the functions of the Government of Northern Ireland to secure that in Northern Ireland precautions shall, as in other parts of the United Kingdom, be taken with a view to the protection of persons and property from injury or damage in the event of hostile attack from the air, and that the Parliament of Northern Ireland has power to make laws for such purposes.
§ Mr. Peake
I really think it would be better for the right hon. Gentleman to leave me to explain the matter in my own way and to deal later on with any points he has to put. Following the Act of 1937, the Northern Ireland Parliament passed an Air-Raid Precautions Act in 1938. That provides for the apportionment of responsibilities and financial burdens between the Northern Ireland Exchequer and the local authorities in Northern Ireland on the same basis as in Great Britain. The present Bill goes further than the Air-Raid Precautions Act, 1937, in imposing liabilities not only on local authorities but also on public utility undertakings and private persons, and provides for Government assistance to them. The Government of Northern Ireland contemplate introducing similar 1054 legislation in their Parliament, and, in so far as they incur expenditure for this purpose, they will, if this new Clause is passed, qualify for grants from the Imperial Exchequer in the manner proposed by this Clause.
I am afraid I shall have to detain the Committee for a few moments in explaining the financial relations between the British Exchequer and Northern Ireland. The financial arrangements between, the United Kingdom and the Northern Ireland Governments depend on the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and the Consequential Provisions Act, 1922. Approximately 80 per cent, of the tax revenue of Northern Ireland is derived from the Northern Ireland share of the reserve taxes attributable to Northern Ireland. That is to say, the United Kingdom Government levies the Income Tax, Surtax and Customs and Excise, and administers the Post Office of Northern Ireland, and pays over the net yields of those taxes after deducting cost of collection. Broadly speaking, the people of Northern Ireland pay the same taxes as the people of Great Britain. On the expenditure side the same standard of social services is maintained and there is a Budget surplus, which in practice forms the contribution of Northern Ireland to the Imperial expenditure. Northern Ireland is obviously not among the most wealthy portions of the United Kingdom, and, for the last 10 years at any rate, has suffered very seriously from unemployment and depression. It has been, in fact, in very much the same position as our Special Areas, and even in the last I2 months the figure for unemployment has averaged 20 per cent., which is practically double the figure for Great Britain. Apart from certain reserved services, the cost of the local administration is borne by the Northern Ireland Budget, whilst the cost of Imperial services, such as defence, foreign affairs and so forth, is borne by the United Kingdom Government. In 1937 it was decided that legislation about civil defence should properly be passed by the Northern Ireland Parliament.
As in the case of Great Britain, part of the public cost falls on local authorities and will not be affected by the proposed new Clause. As regards the portion falling on the Northern Ireland Exchequer, there is nothing in the Government of Ireland Act or the Act of 1922 which covers the question whether 1055 the United Kingdom Government should make some grant to the Government of Northern Ireland to cover part of the civil defence expenditure falling on the central Government of Northern Ireland. As long as expenditure on air raid precautions was comparatively small, there was no practical inconvenience in the way of it being charged to the Northern Ireland Budget without any grant from the United Kingdom, but the larger expenditure which will be required under the provisions of their legislation corresponding to the present Bill might seriously upset the Northern Ireland Budget if no grant towards it were made by the United Kingdom. If no grant were made the first result would be that the Budget surplus, and consequently the contribution of Northern Ireland to Imperial expenditure, would have been proportionately reduced. What we are doing by making a grant to Northern Ireland in respect of Air-Raid Precautions and Civil Defence expenditure is to enable them to continue to make a substantial contribution towards Imperial defence. The provisional figure for the Northern Ireland contribution was, in the year 1937-38, £ 1,100,000, in 1938-39, £ 1,000,000, and next year it is £ 700,000.
§ Mr. Peake
We can go into these figures a little later on in greater detail, but I am pointing out that, as far as this heavy burden for Civil Defence and Air-Raid Precautions is concerned, there are three courses which might be followed. The first is that their Imperial contribution might be very greatly reduced. One alternative to that would be for them to increase taxation in Northern Ireland. This would be a very difficult thing for them to do because the principal taxes— Income Tax and Excise and Customs— are part of the reserved taxation, and the field available for increased taxation in Northern Ireland is exceedingly small. They already pay upon all the other subjects of taxation the same rate of taxes as people pay in this country. There is one other possible alternative which I am sure the whole Committee would wish to turn down, and that is that they should 1056 cut down their social services. I do not feel that it would be the wish of anybody in any quarter of the Committee that the social services in Northern Ireland should be reduced below the levels at which they stand at the present time, and which are on a corresponding scale to those in this country.
§ Mr. Peake
If there are any other alternatives the hon. Member will no doubt await his opportunity and tell us what they are.
I want to say a few words about the amount of the proposed contribution. It would manifestly be wrong to provide for the whole of Northern Ireland civil defence measures on the same scale as are required for Great Britain, since the degree of vulnerability is not comparable, and account has been taken of this factor in assessing the total amount of expenditure in Northern Ireland. Apart from Belfast, which is obviously of very considerable importance on account of its shipbuilding activities and the naval construction which goes on in the shipyards, a considerable portion of Northern Ireland is of a character which does not require a very great deal of expense on Air-Raid Precautions and matters of the kind dealt with under this Bill. But if the expenditure in Northern Ireland were to be on a comparable basis per head of the population with that undertaken in this country, the expenditure in Northern Ireland would be 2.8 per cent. of the expenditure on Civil Defence undertaken in Great Britain.
Government expenditure in Great Britain, including the Estimate for 1939– 40, and the proposed expenditure under the present Bill, will amount to approximately £ 81,000,000, and consists of £ 25,500,000 under the present Bill, £ 20,000,000 for steel shelters and £ 36,000,000 under the Air-Raid Precautions Act. Of that figure, 2.8 per cent. would amount to £ 2,268,000, so that if the expenditure in Northern Ireland was on a comparable basis with the average for the whole of Great Britain, that is the figure which Northern Ireland would have to spend under the Bill and the Air-Raid Precautions Act. In point of fact, the estimated expenditure in Northern Ireland is going to be £ 958,000, and that is 42 per cent. of the figure of 1057 £ 2,268,000, which would be the comparable figure, if they were to spend on these matters on the same scale as we are spending in Great Britain. The various heads of expenditure have been discussed and agreed between the Departments in Northern Ireland and in this country. The maximum grants proposed to be made represent 80 per cent, of the actual expenditure falling on the Northern Ireland Exchequer, that is to say whereas we under this Clause say that we are prepared to go to a maximum of £ 750,000 over a period of four years, in order to attract that grant the Government of Northern Ireland will have to expend at least £ 900,000.
To summarise the facts that I have put before the Committee, it will be seen that the proposals do not affect the amount of expenditure falling on the local authorities, public utility undertakings or persons in Northern Ireland. All those bodies and individuals will have to bear exactly the same proportion of civil defence expenditure as they would do if they were situated in Great Britain. The British Government are prepared to contribute, subject to Treasury approval of individual items, up to £ 750,000 for the next four years, provided the Northern Ireland Exchequer are prepared to bear a burden equivalent to 20 per cent. As far as the £ 50,000 per annum in subsequent years is concerned, that provision is put in for two purposes. The first purpose is this: it may very well be that the Government of Northern Ireland will not expend such a sum as will attract the full grant from this country during the four years ending 1943. They are a good long way behind Great Britain in the undertaking of civil defence expenditure. Whereas in this country we have already spent rather more than half of our total estimated expenditure, in Northern Ireland they have spent barely one-third of their total estimated expenditure, and it is probable that they will not complete their schemes before the four years fixed by the new Clause expires.
For that reason we are providing that a further £ 50,000 per annum may be granted in subsequent financial years. That sum will also be available to meet the expenses of maintenance and storage and other costs which will continue after capital expenditure has been completed. It is indeterminate in point of time but every item has to be 1058 approved by the Treasury and I can assure the Committee that there will be no undue extravagance under the proposals we are making.
§ 11.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Benson
I must congratulate the Under-Secretary on putting a very good face on a very bad case. He suggested that the financial arrangements between this country and Northern Ireland depend upon the Act of 1920. It is perfectly true that the Act of 1920 intended to establish the financial arrangements between Great Britain and Ulster, but it has never succeeded in doing so. There has always been a steady demand for, and when the Conservative party have been in office, a steady grant of, subventions from the taxpayers of this country to Northern Ireland, and this is only the latest of a long series. Your predecessor in the Chair, Sir Dennis, ruled that Civil Defence was what is known as an Irish service upon which the Northern Irish Parliament was perfectly entitled to legislate itself. Section 21 of the Government of Northern Ireland Act says quite definitely that an Irish Service shall be borne out of Irish taxation. The words of the Section are:The Government of Northern Ireland shall make provision for acts within its jurisdiction of Irish Services and any grant contribution out of moneys provided by the Parliament of the United Kingdom so far as made for these services, shall cease.The grant which is now being made does not come within the four corners of the Act of 1920. It is simply carrying on the policy of granting subventions to the pets of the Tory party. The Under-Secretary made a very strange suggestion: He said that when the expenditure on air-raid precautions was a very small amount it could be borne without any inconvenience, but that now that it has grown to a large amount we must not inconvenience Northern Ireland. So we must dump it on the British taxpayer. He asked what are we going to do? Are we going to ask them to cut down then-social services? Nobody on this side of the Committee would ask them to do that, but what we do ask is that they should cut down their undoubted extravagance.
The Under-Secretary gave us a description of the financial arrangements be- 1059 tween this country and Northern Ireland. I should like to extend that description. He referred to the Imperial Contribution. The Imperial Contribution was to be one of the most important links between this country and Northern Ireland, according to the Government of Ireland Act; and under that Act, it was estimated that it would amount to £ 8,000,000 a year. Local Irish services were to be borne by Irish taxation, but Ulster was to pay her share of the very heavy Imperial expenses, such as War Debt, War Debt interest, and Defence. This year, we are paying some £ 200,000,000 interest on the National Debt and some £600,000,000 for Defence— a total of £ 800,000,000. That amounts to £20 per head for every man and woman in the country. The hon. Gentleman said that Ireland was making a handsome contribution towards this, and he gave us the figure. It was £ 700,000— 11s. per head of the population of Northern Ireland. We are paying £ 20 per head, and the handsome contribution which we get towards this from Northern Ireland amounts to us. per Irish head.
But that leaves out of account entirely the various payments from this country to Northern Ireland. As a matter of fact, Northern Ireland contributes nothing to the Imperial expenses of this country; she is a drain and a drag year by year. To begin with, we have surrendered £650,000 a year in Land Annuities, which flow into the Exchequer of the Northern Ireland Government. In addition, this year we are making a payment of over £ 1,700,000 directly from our Exchequer to the Exchequer of Northern Ireland. The total loss this year on Northern Ireland, as far as the taxpayers of this country are concerned, is £ 1,600,000, irrespective of the proposed grant under this Clause. Now we are proposing, on top of that deficit of £ 1,600,000, to add £ 750,000 which may well be spent in the next 12 months, although it is a maximum over four years. In addition to that, I see that, according to a recent answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we are proposing to pay agricultural subsidies to the farmers of Northern Ireland directly from the British Exchequer.
All this adverse balance is what the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department refers to as a handsome contribution from Northern Ireland. As the Clause is drafted, I say quite 1060 definitely, in contradiction of the Undersecretary, that there is practically no check on Northern Ireland extravagance. The whole of the present arrangements between this country and Northern Ireland put a premium on Northern Ireland extravagance. They are supposed to pay an annual Imperial contribution, but that Imperial contribution is the last charge upon the Northern Ireland Exchequer, and the more they spend inside Ireland, the less becomes that contribution to us. They know that, even if the hon. Gentleman does not, and they know how it works out. Lord Craigavon actually boasted how Parliamentary institutions do not cost the Ulster people a shilling.
The whole expense of their comic opera Parliament is borne out of our taxation. Those words I have quoted were Lord Craigavon's words on 13th March, 1926, and I can see that in a very short time Lord Craigavon will be going about saying that the whole of A.R.P. does not cost the Ulster taxpayer a single shilling. In view of this extraordinary and extravagant arrangement between this country and Northern Ireland, we are entitled to ask what safeguards there are. The Under-Secretary said that an Act had been passed and was already in existence in Northern Ireland on the lines of the Bill which we are discussing.
§ Mr. Benson
I beg pardon!—on the same lines as the Air-Raid Precautions Act. The hon. Gentleman suggested that, therefore, there was no likelihood of any wild expenditure in Northern Ireland. But this new Clause gives them power to pass an Act, not similar in terms to this Bill, but similar in intention. It gives them unlimited scope and a free hand. If the hon. Gentleman refers to Sub-section (2) of the new Clause, he will find that it gives Northern Ireland a free hand to pass any kind of Act they like and send the bill to us. The hon. Gentleman suggested that because the grant had to receive Treasury sanction, the Treasury would, therefore, be able to check the expenditure, but on what basis is the Treasury to check the expenditure? Is it to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General here? Are the accounts 1061 to come before the Public Accounts Committee of this House for examination, or is the Treasury to rely upon the audit of the spenders themselves? Are we to accept Northern Ireland's certificate that they have been careful and wise in their expenditure? There is no safeguard in the new Clause as it stands. I do not know whether the Government have any safeguard in mind. They may have, but all that we are concerned with is the wording of the Clause and there is no suggestion of a safeguard in it from beginning to end. We are shovelling out money for Northern Ireland and, as far as I can see, there is neither check nor control either contemplated or designed.
There is another important matter. We have no guarantee that this money will be spent fairly and justly as between one local authority and another. There is in Ulster a very high percentage of Catholics in the population. Are they going to get their fair share? The Northern Ireland Government has a very highly developed spoils system. It has a spoils system which is a disgrace to the British Empire. It is practically impossible for a Catholic to get a job under the Northern Ireland Government. We are paying this year £ 1,600,000 into their Unemployment Insurance Fund. It may astonish the House to know that among the officials who conduct investigations under Part II of the Act — the means test — there is not one Catholic.
Take another point. Education is a transferred service, and grants are under the control of the Northern Ireland Government. Of the building expenditure on schools last year, 93 per cent, was on Protestant schools and only 7 per cent, on Catholic Schools, yet 33⅓ per cent, of the population are Catholic. Of this - £ 700,000, is 93 per cent, going to be spent in Protestant areas, and will the Catholic areas get the other 7 per cent.? They are doing that in education. They have their spoils system working so far as their Government, civil servants, and employés are concerned. What precautions are there in this Clause? I am not prepared to hand over a penny of English taxpayers' money to Northern Ireland until this thing has been cleaned up. Every day the Government of Northern Ireland is a violation of the Government of Ireland Act. They were pledged in that Act to make no distinction between one religion and another, but their whole administra- 1062 tion is a violation of that pledge. Nothing whatever has been done, no attempt has been made, to check it. The Government here ask for a subvention of £ 700,000, and they give powers to the Northern Ireland Government not only to spend the £ 700,000, but to spend more. It is suggested by the Under-Secretary that the expenditure will be £ 900,000. We have no check on that, and even that extra £ 200,000 will not be borne by Northern Ireland; it will come out of the Imperial contribution. It is of no use pretending that Northern Ireland are bearing 20 per cent, of the A.R.P. expenditure. This expenditure there will be borne by grants from this House and by deductions from the Imperial contribution. That is the whole farce of the Northern Ireland position. We give them a comic opera Government which has enabled the Government of the six counties to be carried on by gangsters,"and send the bill in to us." I, for one, shall vote against this infamous Clause.
§ 11.43 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Ross
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson), and I hope it will be read by every working man in Northern Ireland.
§ Sir R. Ross
That is too bad, and if the right hon. Gentleman had taken any interest in the matter, he would have known that there are not 11 Ulster Members absent. He has not counted us right, but if the right hon. Gentleman addresses himself to the topic, doubtless he will get it right. I was saying that I hope the speech that we have just heard will be read by every working man in the North of Ireland, so that they may read of the sneers and the jeers which came from the Socialist party. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite assist to impose taxes on Northern Ireland. We are not able to impose them on ourselves, 1063 but they are imposed from here, and we pay every penny as much taxation as anybody else does. Are we to be denied even the elementary right of being protected at the nation's cost?
A little while ago we had from the so-called Socialists opposite the amazing contention that in a crisis the State could call upon the assistance of only those of its citizens who felt inclined to give it. [An HON. MEMBER:"Northern Ireland got out of the Military Training Act."] If so it was because hon. Members voted for that; it was not we from Ulster. We wanted to be on the same footing as everybody else. It was the one occasion on which all parties have been united, the National Government, the Opposition, the Liberal Opposition, the Independent Labour party, and the Communist party — to a man. They all voted for it, and it was entirely against the views of the representatives of Ulster, who wanted Ulster to bear the same share as everybody else in defence.
§ Sir R. Ross
I am coming to the money. I know it interests hon. Members opposite more than anything else. We in Ulster pay exactly the same as everyone else in the United Kingdom, and are we not entitled to the same protection?
§ Sir R. Ross
We take money for the social services. Do you want to stop them? What we were giving originally under the Act of 1920 was so many millions. As social services rise the amount we have to spend on them inside our area rises, too. To anyone of intelligence it would be clear that the more expenditure rises on the social services the more we are required to spend locally inside the area. Is this a new principle that areas are only to be protected in proportion to their wealth? Hon. Members opposite occasionally almost boast of the poorness of their constituencies and the hardships of their constituents. They are hoarse with their efforts to get more money. Apparently we in Ulster are either to put on extra taxes 1064 or are to be denied the elementary defences which everyone is given.
As for the hon. Member for Chesterfield, he started off on a diatribe in terms of abuse which came very freely and easily from his lips. No doubt he is used to using them to his friends and other people. He said we were prejudiced and that Catholics could never get any appointments in Northern Ireland. There are many people who consider that Catholics have more than their fair share. It is a pity he does not know something about it. The police are an important body and out of the six county inspectors in Ulster four are Roman Catholics. He spoke about education. The Roman Catholic schools there have a greater degree of control than they get in Great Britain. The senior permanent official in the Department of Education, Northern Ireland, from the time Northern Ireland has existed up to this year, when this very distinguished and admirable official retired, was a Roman Catholic.
§ Sir R. Ross
We did not want to. We appointed him. [Interruption.] The hon. Member must"take it" if he finds that he is wrong. He was appointed by the Northern Ireland Government, he served them well and faithfully and now he has returned after 17 years as the head of his Department. So I hope we shall hear no more on those lines. In any case, I think it was nice of you, Sir Dennis, to allow the hon. Member to stray so far from the matters before us. [HON. MEMBERS:"Order!"] If I have said anything which may be derogatory to you, Sir Dennis, I unreservedly withdraw it, because I think it has been fortunate for me to have the opportunity of denying these imputations. I cannot go very far into the subject or I should do so. As to the whole point of this question, as to whether it is an expense which is to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer or by the Northern Ireland Exchequer, the first time the matter came up was in the Air-Raid Precautions Act, Section 14. I raised the point. I did not get any assistance from the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite or from anyone else on the other side of the House. This was something outside the 1920 Act. There is nothing inside the 1920 Act which suggests that Northern Ireland should have 1065 to pay out of its own share of the taxes raised in its own territory towards defence. Any Defence Service has always been borne by the Imperial Government, but an agreement has been come to, and I do not propose to argue or try to go behind that agreement. But that agreement is specific in terms.
I believe I am right in saying that all such things as the protection of Northern Ireland Government establishments are paid for by the Northern Ireland Government. On a percentage basis per head we are getting a far smaller contribution than anywhere else, and I think that is an agreement which is certainly by no means on the generous side to us. The duty of arranging these A.R.P. measures, and so forth, has been delegated to the Northern Ireland Government. They did not want it, but it was the difficulty of doing it from here. I still maintain that the ultimate responsibility is a responsibility for this country. The local authorities and everyone else will have to contribute in our country as they do elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
§ Sir R. Ross
I heard an entire party making some rather unusually low comment at that moment. I suppose that that was, as usual, that we should go with Mr. de Valera into Eire. That would be driving us on to a scale of social services infinitely lower than those enjoyed in this country or in Northern Ireland. I do not think anyone wishes to put us on a lower scale of social services. At all events, it will be of great interest to working men in Northern Ireland. I would remind hon. Members opposite that there are over 80,000 members of British trade unions alone in that area, and they certainly will look with interest at the attitude taken up by the Socialist party here, which, in effect, says either that we should be deprived of the elementary rights against air raids or else we should have to pay extra taxes to provide them for ourselves. I do not think this is a particularly generous agreement with Northern Ireland, but it is an agreement, and, therefore, it should be honoured, and I think the attitude of any party which tries to deny the people in a big industrial area— because it is the Belfast area which is really the big area, and no one suggests that the small towns in 1066 Ulster should have much air raid protection— should try to deny them what is given to everyone else. That would be an outrage.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ 11.55 p.m.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I rise for the purpose of making a suggestion, to which, I understand, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury is agreeable. It is that, since on the Amendment to leave out Subsection (2) we have had the discussion on the subject of Northern Ireland, it would be convenient if we could now divide on the new Clause and so clear that subject off the Order Paper. Then perhaps the Government would agree to report Progress, and we could proceed with the other new Clause straight away tomorrow.
§ The Chairman
The right hon. Gentleman will realise that his request that the new Clause (Provisions as to Northern Ireland) should be taken out of its order is unsual. The position, however, is that the only other items to be dealt with in Committee on the Bill are two new Clauses, and, as they are both Government Clauses, if the Government agree and the Committee generally do not object, I do not see why the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman should not be followed.
§ Mr. Morrison
I appreciate that my suggestion is unusual, but as the discussion we have had has covered both the Amendment and the new Clause, it seems to me that, if we could clear the subject off now, so that it will not need to come up again to-morrow, it would expedite the business, and I am sure we shall all be very much obliged to you, Sir Dennis, if you can see your way to accept the proposal.
§ The Chairman
I entirely agree that it would be an advantage, but I must guard myself against its being used as a precedent.