HC Deb 07 December 1961 vol 650 cc1527-9
Q5. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the concern in the Republic of Ireland about proposals to limit immigration of Irish people to the United Kingdom, if he will consider inviting the Prime Minister of Ireland to come to the United Kingdom to discuss the question.

The Prime Minister

I see no reason to expect that consultation through normal diplomatic channels will not meet the case.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Prime Minister realise that there is in Ireland great interest in the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill? If he is going out of his way to meet President de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer, ought not the Prime Minister to extend the same sort of treatment to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland?

The Prime Minister

I think that this is being dealt with satisfactorily by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Gaitskell

Since the Home Secretary informed the House that he had only obtained from the newspapers an account of the Irish Government's intentions in this matter, could the Prime Minister tell us what has, in fact, been the nature of these diplomatic exchanges? Have there been discussions through diplomatic channels, and to what end?

The Prime Minister

We have, of course, been having discussions through diplomatic channels on the general problem. I think that any specific Question should be put to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Turton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members are concerned about the indeterminate nature of the proposal to control immigration from the Republic of Ireland?

The Prime Minister

This is really a matter for debate on the Bill, not for questions as to whether I should meet the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland.

Mr. Grimond

The Home Secretary told us that he understood that arrangements were being made with the Government of the Republic of Ireland to control immigration at the ports within Ireland. Is not the Prime Minister in a position either to confirm or deny this statement of the Home Secretary's?

The Prime Minister

If the Home Secretary said so, it obviously was true.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Home Secretary said, not that he was certain that this was the case, but that he had read it in the newspapers? Is the Prime Minister telling us that we should believe everything we read in the newspapers? Further, is it the business of the Home Secretary to negotiate with Ireland on this matter? Is it not a matter for either the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations or the Foreign Secretary?

The Prime Minister

I suggest, therefore, that it should be put either to the Foreign Secretary or the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.

Mr. Gaitskell rose—

Mr. Speaker

I have an idea that there will be other opportunities to discuss these matters. I think that we had better get on.