HC Deb 20 May 1941 vol 371 cc1390-1
47. Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

asked the Prime Minister whether he will reconsider the question of conscription for Northern Ireland; and whether he can make any statement about it?

49. Sir Annesley Somerville

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the strong feeling in Ulster in favour of conscription, he will consider the desirability of introducing this measure?

50. Mr. Harland

asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government will reconsider the policy of not applying military conscription to Northern Ireland, in view of the fact that the people of Northern Ireland are in favour of this course?

The Prime Minister

This question has for some time past engaged the attention of His Majesty's Government, and I hope to be in a position to make a statement about it on the first Sitting Day after this week.

Sir A. Somerville

Does not my right hon. Friend remember that the people of Northern Ireland regard this negative policy up to the present as a slight on their patriotism, and also that one frightful result of it is that the good men volunteer while the less good men get their jobs?

Sir Hugh O'Neill

Would my right hon. Friend agree that the reason conscription was not originally applied in Northern Ireland was that strong representations were made to the British Government by Mr. De Valera against it, and that Mr. De Valera stated that if it were imposed, it would lead to strong opposition from the minority in Northern Ireland? Is not the present time, when people of all classes and parties in Northern Ireland are mercilessly bombed, a good opportunity for reconsidering the whole matter?

The Prime Minister

The facts are, I believe, as stated by my right hon. Friend, but I hope to be in a position to make a statement on the whole subject shortly.

Mr. Buchanan

Seeing that the Prime Minister of the Irish Free State did make representation, will the right hon. Gentleman agree that before he makes any statement on the matter, any new representations which Mr. de Valera may make will be considered also?

The Prime Minister

Representations which reach His Majesty's Government from any quarter are always considered.

Professor Savory

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the Cabinet of Northern Ireland were unanimous in 1939 in pressing that conscription should be applied to Northern Ireland?

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