HC Deb 27 May 1941 vol 371 cc1718-9
The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim (Sir H. O'Neill) had a Question (No. 46) on the Order Paper about the application of conscription to Northern Ireland. I said a week ago that this matter had been engaging our attention. We have made a number of inquiries in various directions, with the result that we have come to the conclusion that at the present time, although there can be no dispute about our rights or about the merits, it would be more trouble than it is worth to enforce such a policy.

Sir Hugh O'Neill

Will it not make a rather bad impression throughout the Empire that, once again, the Government have had to burke this issue, obviously because of pressure from Southern Ireland?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that I can put it better than I have done. After a full survey we came to the decision which I have announced.

Sir H. O'Neill

There is one point which I think, in fairness, the Prime Minister would like to make clear. Was it not the view of the Government of Northern Ireland that conscription could be and should be applied?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. That was the view of the Government of Northern Ireland, for whose loyal aid and continued and constant support of our cause, no words of praise can be too high.

Professor Savory

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he is not aware that the Government of Northern Ireland were unanimous in recommending that conscription should be applied to Northern Ireland?

Mr. Speaker

That question has been answered.