§ 4.59 p.m.
§ [The question was as follows:
§ To ask His Majesty's Government why it is still necessary for a British subject to possess either a passport or a travel permit when travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.]
§ LORD WALKDEN
The object of requiring British subjects who are normally resident in the United Kingdom to carry travel identity documents when travelling between Ireland and Great Britain is to facilitate their passage through the port controls by distinguishing them from aliens and citizens of Eire, whose entry into Great Britain is subject 421 to permission. The production of these documents enables passengers to be passed through the control points with the minimum of delay and inconvenience.
§ LORD HACKING
My Lords, the noble Lord has said that this restriction is put on for the convenience of travellers. May I ask whether he has studied the great inconvenience—apart from the expense—which is caused to those individuals when they apply for passports; the great delay which occurs in obtaining even a form of application for a passport, and then in getting the passport? This takes up to fourteen days. Will the noble Lord also consider the views of Ulster in respect of this matter? Is it true, as I am informed it is, that Ulster would like to see the abolition of this restriction?
Further, is the noble Lord aware that Ulster is part of the United Kingdom? If a restriction is put on travel to Ulster, why not also on travel to Scotland, Lancashire, and other parts of the United Kingdom? If this restriction is necessary at the present moment, which I doubt, will the noble Lord say how long it is to be continued?
§ LORD WALKDEN
My Lords, the Government are as anxious as my noble friend that restrictions of this kind should be raised, but I cannot give him any hope that they are likely to be removed before the end of this year. We are obliged to maintain them at present by reason of the necessity of checking the influx of aliens of all kinds and also of workmen coming from Ireland. Soldiers are being demobilized, and the Government is most anxious that their places in civilian life should not be taken beforehand by immigrants. We admit workmen from Eire for those occupations such as agriculture for which we desire more labour, and in the case of women, for domestic service. There are undesirable aliens in Eire now who wish to come to this country, and so we must maintain these restrictions. We are very sorry for any inconvenience which may be caused to our friends in Ulster, but the undesirable persons in question could, if the restrictions were raised, go to Ulster and then come on to Great Britain. We must preserve quite a close check on these people for some time to come. As for the delay in the granting of passports to which my noble friend has referred, I will have a 422 full inquiry made into that. It was not part of the noble Lord's question.
§ LORD HACKING
My Lords, these people who, Lord Walkden says, are undesirable now will surely always remain undesirable, so it would seem that it is to be assumed that we shall never have this restriction raised.