HC Deb 23 January 1964 vol 687 cc1260-1
25. Mr. Delargy

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has had with the Government of Northern Ireland regarding the amount of the Imperial contribution to be paid by them into the United Kingdom Exchequer

Mr. Brooke

None, Sir.

Mr. Delargy

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why he has not had consultations on this important matter, since the Imperial contribution would be reduced or even extinguished if aid for economic development in Northern Ireland were wasted or improperly used, as seems to have happened in a recent case which was judged in the Northern Ireland courts? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that this House has sufficient control over money authorised to be spent in Northern Ireland? If he is so satisfied, will he kindly explain the extent of our control over the spending of this money?

Mr. Brooke

I do not accept any of the allegations that the hon. Gentleman makes. The reason why I have had no consultations is that the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, passed by this Parliament, places the duty of determining the Imperial contribution on the Joint Exchequer Board, of which I am not a member.

Mr. Lee

Does not the size of this contribution plus the oil subsidy and the coal subsidy determine the sort of subsidy which this country sends to Northern Ireland? Therefore, ought not the Government to look into the affair which my hon. Friend has mentioned, since, if they do not safeguard the moneys spent on industrial development in Northern Ireland, there is no guarantee that it will be the only case which we shall have to bring to the Government's notice?

Mr. Brooke

The administration of Northern Ireland grants to industry is a matter entirely within the competence of the Northern Ireland Government. Any question on the amount of the Imperial contribution should be addressed not to me but to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.