HC Deb 16 November 1972 vol 846 c589
6. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the meetings he has had with representatives of the trade union movement in Northern Ireland.

Mr. van Straubenzee

My right hon. Friend met the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on 5th April, 15th May and 13th September, 1972. He met Mr. William Blease, the Northern Ireland officer of the committee, on 18th September and 31st October.

Mr. Douglas

Am I correct in understanding that meetings will take place between his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and representatives of the Irish trade unions in Belfast over the next day or so? Can we have a statement in the House at the earliest possible moment about these meetings, because it is of the utmost importance that we should appreciate that the trade union movement in Northern Ireland is playing a vital part in keeping business going in the Province?

Mr. van Straubenzee

The trade union movement to which the hon. Gentleman refers is one of those bodies which will have the opportunity of making representations to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, for he is consulting a very wide section of opinion in Northern Ireland. I gladly join with the hon. Gentleman in the tribute that he has rightly paid to the trade union movement in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Wilkinson

As the Prime Minister would, in the words of the Secretary of State, like to appraise himself of the facts as they are, will he also endeavour to see the United Loyalist Council, because it is most important that firmly held Loyalist opinion should be clearly understood by the Government in seeking to achieve a just solution?

Mr. van Straubenzee

I think that my right hon. Friend had it in mind to see representatives of those bodies whom he had not had an opportunity to meet and, in the political field, to do so with established political parties.