HC Deb 11 May 1944 vol 399 cc2084-6
52. Mr. John Beattie

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what regulation Sir Basil Brooke, M.P., was enabled to travel from Belfast to London on 2nd May, 1944, accompanied by his wife; whether he will grant the same facilities to Members of this House who represent the six counties of Northern Ireland, also trade union representatives in the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Professor Savory

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether this Question is in Order? Ought not the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in the Question to be described as "Prime Minister of Northern Ireland"?

Mr. Speaker

I think the Question makes it perfectly plain who the individual was, whether Prime Minister or not.

Professor Savory

Is it not a question of courtesy?

Mr. H. Morrison

The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and Lady Brooke were invited by the Prime Minister to meet the Prime Ministers of the Dominions assembled in London, and in the view of His Majesty's Government such a journey was clearly in the national interest and could not be postponed. That is the rule we follow.

Mr. Beattie

Does the right hon. Gentleman now stand for the privilege of the few and the disadvantage of the many in Northern Ireland? Is he aware that on this gentleman's own statement he travelled to London with his wife for the purpose of renewing old acquaintances; and is it not a fact that many hundreds of people in Belfast and Northern Ireland are denied the right to follow their legitimate business by the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot follow my hon. Friend's point. I have given the facts about it, and, in my judgment, if I had refused permission, and had made difficulties about the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and his wife coming on such an occasion, I should have been open to a charge of gross discourtesy.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the original answer, if I send an invitation to the Belfast organisers of the Communist Party will the right hon. Gentleman allow them to come?

53. Dr. Little

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will ease the situation of the present travel ban between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by issuing a statement setting forth the special circumstance under which exit permits will be granted to applicants for the same.

Mr. H. Morrison

As stated in the public announcement which was made on 13th March, and with the terms of which my hon. Friend will be familiar, permits or visas for travel between Great Britain on the one hand and Northern Ireland and Eire on the other, can be granted, for the time being, only for business or work of urgent national importance, or on compassionate grounds of the most urgent and compelling character. Each individual case must be considered on its own merits and circumstances vary very widely. I regret, therefore, that it is not possible to comply with my hon. Friend's request, but I can assure him that, consistently with my duty to enforce strictly the temporary suspension of travel between the two Islands which is dictated by military considerations, I am prepared to consider as sympathetically as possible individual applications which it is claimed are covered by the terms of the public announcement.

Dr. Little

Will the right hon. Gentleman not recognise, as he thinks over the matter, that, in the interests of all, the Home Office should issue a statement stating the conditions under which those who apply for permits will receive the same during the continuance of the bar?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, I do not think that I could go into further details than have been given in the public statement I have already issued.