HC Deb 28 January 1969 vol 776 cc1103-4
Q4. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Prime Minister when he plans to hold further discussions with the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister

I have nothing at present to add to what I said in the House last Thursday.—[Vol. 776, c. 657–61.]

Mr. Hughes

Does not the Prime Minister think that such a meeting would have the constructive effect of enabling Ulster to settle down into the paths of toleration, democracy and peace, having regard to his own wisdom and experience?

The Prime Minister

Having regard to all those factors, the House, I think, has shown, on every exchange we have had on this question, a united desire that Northern Ireland should be able to settle down in the paths of democracy, peace and order, and I do not feel that I can add anything to help in that direction by further comment today. I think that everything which can be said and needs to be said has been said. Now it is a matter for Northern Ireland.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Does the Prime Minister's pledge not to intervene in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland still hold good, or does it now depend upon whether the democratically elected Parliament of Northern Ireland selects Captain O'Neill or someone else to be Prime Minister?

Hon. Members


The Prime Minister

The pledge which has been given, and which indeed, was first given by Lord Attlee, remains. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows, of course, that this House may, in a certain situation, have a duty to act under Section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. It is the last thing, I think, most of us would want to have to do. The hon. and learned Gentleman could also help in this matter. He could have helped by putting his name down more speedily to the Motion put down on this question and signed by all the other Northern Ireland Members of Parliament.

Mr. Ogden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that every Member of the House, with the possible exception of the hon. and learned Member for Antrim, South (Sir Knox Cunningham), will hope that the present Prime Minister of Northern Ireland achieves a massive vote of confidence in the debate tomorrow and that he will be able to go on to implement the proposals which he has already announced, and be able to strengthen them by adding the final one which I think it highly necessary and desirable, that there should be implementation of one man, one vote, and redistribution of ward boundaries before 1970, so that Northern Ireland can go ahead united in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to what I have said on past occasions on all the questions raised by my hon. Friend and the tributes which have been unitedly paid to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland by hon. Members. With reference to any vote which may take place in Northern Ireland tomorrow, it is not a matter for me, or, I would suggest, for this House.

Sir Knox Cunningham

On a point of order. Is it in order for the Prime Minister to instruct Members of the House of Commons how to carry out their Parliamentary duties?

Mr. Speaker

I have heard nothing out of order.