HC Deb 24 October 1952 vol 505 cc1441-2

Considered in Committee, and reported, without Amendment.

11.5 a.m.

The Under-Secretary of Slate for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

As I said to the House on Second Reading, I commend this Bill. It has been made possible thanks to the agreement of the three Governments of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and the Government of Northern Ireland. We hope that this will enable the Trust to fulfil its duties more efficiently by getting them over the difficulty that the Rouses which are in Southern Ireland cannot have rents paid for them. I therefore ask the House to pass this Bill, which has the agreement of these three Governments.

Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)

As we made clear on Second Reading, since the purpose of this Bill is to benefit ex-Service men of the 1914–18 war who live in Ireland, we support it. I had hoped—and I still hope—that it would have been possible for the Under-Secretary, perhaps in a Written answer or by letter, to let us have a little more information about the administrative costs of the year to which we referred. It will be recalled that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) mentioned that the costs worked out at £8,600 in one year, which seemed excessive. If the Under-Secretary would at a later stage let us have information about that, I feel that it would be of benefit to us.

The purpose of this Bill is to benefit ex-Service men. Irishmen have always liked soldiering. I remember being told on my first visit to Ireland that it was a grand country to live in because there were three armies one could join, and every one of them was illegal. Those were the days of the I.R.A., Duffy's Blueshirts, and so on. Although it has not got the same thrill, we now have three perfectly legal forces serving in this country which welcome young men from Ireland. This Bill benefits ex-Service men of one war, and my hon. Friends and I welcome and support it.

Mr. Foster

With the leave of the House, I should like to reply. I will certainly communicate with the Chairman of the Trust and ask him whether he can see his way clear to let hon. Members have more details of the particular expenditure referred to on Second Reading.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I do not think this occasion should go by without some reply to the derogatory references to the people of Southern Ireland. Far from being a belligerent nation, the people of Ireland at the present time have no conscription and are the most pacific people in the world.

Mr. Alan McKibbin (Belfast, East)

I welcome the Bill. I am particularly interested in the people of Northern Ireland, but I hope that it will clear up the awkward situation which has existed during the last 19 years. I hope that this Bill will benefit the ex-Service men of Southern Ireland also.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.