HC Deb 29 January 1947 vol 432 cc937-8
52. Sir R. Ross

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware that citizens of Eire, who have no residence permit, are employed in a civil capacity in substantial numbers by all three Services in Northern Ireland in preference to ex-Servicemen who are citizens of the United Kingdom; and whether this represents the policy of the Government.

Mr. Alexander

The number of Eire citizens employed by the three Service Departments in Northern Ireland totals 104. These were engaged some time ago when ex-Servicemen were not available. They have given good service and it is not intended to discharge them especially in order to create vacancies. We are considering whether, if discharges arising from redundancy become necessary, citizens of Eire should be discharged first.

Sir R. Ross

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's opinion that no priority should be given to those who have fought for this country, and that the places which they could occupy should be kept occupied by neutrals merely because those neutrals have lived in peace and comfort during the war?

Mr. Alexander

I do not think that can be taken as a general comment on the situation, because, of course, the men are, of very varying ages.

Mr. Cobb

Would the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that nationals of Eire also fought for us during the war as volunteers?

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Will the Minister also bear in mind that the more the citizens of Northern and Southern Ireland get mixed up together, the sooner will the nonsense of partition be ended?