§ 2.50 p.m.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM rose to draw the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the present relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, and to the desirability of closer economic and cultural associations between the two countries; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, a few months ago it occurred to my noble Leader and to others of us on these Benches that it was a very long time since any matters connected with the Republic of Ireland or with the relationship between this country and the Republic of Ireland had been either debated or even mentioned. My noble Leader therefore suggested that since I am, for the time being at any rate, resident in that country, perhaps I should be a suitable person to pat down a Motion on the subject. Those of you who have read the wording of the Motion carefully will see that it has been drawn in broad and general terms in the hope that it will be treated in the same way and that matters of controversy may perhaps be left out.
§ In my Motion I am urging the Government to think about improving relations in a field where, happily, they are already good. But nothing is so good that it cannot be better, and I hope—indeed, noble Lords on these Benches who have encouraged me in this Motion agree with me—that what I say to-day will perhaps start up certain thoughts which may be helpful in time. It is in no way our idea to put forward criticisms of Government policy at the moment, or to make any dramatic or far-reaching suggestions as to what they should do. We do not intend to do that. My speech will resemble, to some extent, those admirable periodic surveys of foreign affairs to which we always 472 look forward from the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. He speaks with enormous knowledge of the subject—much more than I have of this subject—and at the end of it all one has heard good speeches, and much good comes there-from. That is our object, and I hope that what I have to say will be treated in that light; also in the hope that the speakers—I am gratified to observe that in the list of speakers there are two former Cabinet Ministers—will confine themselves, so far as they can, to the terms of the Motion.
§ I have referred in my Motion to economic relations and cultural relations. I greatly hope, as we all do, that political aspects, which can get a "bad Press" and cause trouble, may be left out of this debate to-day. I feel that if economic and cultural ties are encouraged, political differences and the old antipathies will gradually die a natural and overdue death. It is not so long ago that the Oxford Union was addressed by the 'present Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, Mr. Lemass. He was well received, and I think he found it enjoyable and instructive. Not so very long ago, such a debate would not have been possible. That it is possible now shows progress in the right direction. Then we have Embassies both here and in Dublin. There is the Irish Embassy in London, with a popular and able Ambassador. In Dublin we have Sir Ian MacLennan, a young and very capable man, extremely popular with the Irish, who does a good job of work there. I think that, in passing, I should also mention Mr. Boland, who was well known in London when he was Ambassador here, and who is now the Chairman of the United Nations in New York, where his personality has also made an immediate and satisfactory impact on the delegates.
§ To pass from the general to the particular, I have divided my remarks into two—economic relations first. I do not pose as an expert in any way, shape, or form. Admittedly, I am involved in industry in a small and rather modest way, but I do not look upon myself as an expert, and what I have to put forward to-day are points which I have tabulated and discussed with people both here and in Dublin. I hope that perhaps they may form the basis for a discussion 473 among your Lordships and that when the noble Duke comes to reply he may find that something I have said may be helpful in the future.
§ As many of your Lordships will appreciate, the Trade Agreement of 1938 between this country and the Republic of Ireland virtually gave duty-free entry into this country to all Irish manufactured goods. Of course, it was a two-way traffic. This Trade Agreement was confirmed in 1948 and again in the spring of this year, though on the latter occasion a review of certain items took place and a different rate of duty has in fact been agreed on certain items. I believe that the discussions which took place at the time were most amicable, and I think I am right in saying (though I should have checked this) that the noble Earl who until recently led us, was in the chair on that occasion. My Irish friends tell me that the negotiations were very friendly and, to a point, satisfactory. I know that as things stand at the moment, the terms of the Agreement, so far as industrial products are concerned, were acceptable and well received in Dublin—though a little less so where agriculture is concerned. As your Lordships appreciate, Ireland is primarily an agricultural country.
Instead of airing my own views on the subject, which are of comparatively little value, perhaps I may quote a few lines from a speech made in the Dail by Mr. Lemass on April 26, 1960, on his return from London. He said:
…the proposals which we made to the British involved action by us, in consideration of their accepting the principle of a general linking of farm produce prices and of concerted agricultural production and marketing policies, to secure for British exporters to the Irish market trade advantages of at least equal magnitude by alternative methods which we suggested.
In other words, Mr. Lemass tried to put up various proposals on the industrial side in order to obtain certain concessions on the agricultural side. However, he went on to say:
It was stated then, clearly and definitely, the British Ministers present at the negotiations that no trade advantages that we could offer them of this character"—
that is to say, in the industrial field—
could in their judgment overcome the practical difficulties involved for them in our proposals.
What those difficulties were are not stated, but no doubt there were cogent reasons.
A little later in his speech Mr. Lemass said:
I have always tried to make it clear in the various discussions I have had with British Ministers that we would not seek, nor indeed would we wish to receive, any trade advantages from Britain which could possibly be regarded as being at the expense of Six County interests. Neither would we desire that measures taken to promote economic development in this part of Ireland"—
that is to say, the Republic of Ireland—
should prove substantially detrimental to those interests. We must, however, be realistic and recognise that some adverse consequences may, while circumstances remain as at present, be unavoidable. Our wish would be to reduce the effect so far as practicable.
My Lords, I think one can say that that is a reasonable statement—in fact, I would say that it was an unexceptionable statement on the part of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland; and I hope that when the noble Duke comes to reply he will be able to tell us whether a little more can be done in that direction. I will revert to this; matter a little later in my speech.
§ Commonwealth preferential rates where duty is concerned are, of course, enjoyed by enterprises other than Irish enterprises —those situated in Ireland, of which there are quite a number—and one wonders whether perhaps in 1938, when the Trade Agreement was made, such a state of affairs was at that time visualised. Probably not. But, of course, this is no criticism. If foreign capital has started up various industries in Ireland and those people thereby gain the benefit of Commonwealth preferential rates, there is no reason why they should not do so. In arty case, it is two-way; one has only to look at the negotiations going on at Dagenham, with Fords. The Irish could equally say that industrial production from this country to Ireland gets preferential treatment, though in the case I mention, based on American capital. It is quite an interesting thought to consider whether, when the signatories drew up the Agreement in 1938. they had in mind the way in which this particular matter would develop; and that industries which were based on capital other than Irish would, in fact, profit.475
§ Lately, Mr. Aiken, the Minister for External Affairs, was in Bonn, where he spent quite a long time and made a series of speeches in which he encouraged German industrialists to come to Ireland, and to invest capital and start up industries there. I understand that there were discussions of a most amicable nature. I am given to understand (and I shall refer to this at greater length later on) that at the moment surplus capital in West Germany for investment is so great that they are looking for outlets everywhere; and Ireland seems to be a suitable one. Perhaps this comes strangely from a country which finds difficulty in paying the Occupation costs of N.A.T.O. troops in her territory.
§ There are now operating in the Shannon "duty-free area" eight foreign firms, of which only two are British. In view of our geographical propinquity that seems to me a very small proportion. One of those firms is Japanese-owned and is making transistors. There are a Dutch firm and an American firm; but, as I have said, only two out of the eight are British enterprises. Considerable concessions are given in regard to income tax and corporation profits tax on exported goods—that is, goods manufactured in that duty-free area of Shannon—and there are also Government grants to these enterprises. I wonder whether British industrialists have not been a little slow to appreciate these rather obvious advantages. Perhaps I am accusing them of not noticing something which in fact they have noticed. But in view of what I have said about the geographical propinquity of the two countries the proportion—two out of eight—seems to me very small.
§ There are many other firms starting in the area. The Germans, needless to say, have not been slow in coming forward; and at Killarney, on the shores of that marvellous lake where the scenery is really fabulous (and, in passing, I would urge those who have not seen it to see it before they die, for it is certainly the finest I ever saw) there is a considerable German development, with shops, houses, hotels—an entire colony. I am reliably informed that that is a subsidiary of Krupps, of Essen.
§ Before I leave that point—and I hope it may be of some interest to your Lordships, even though I am not urging Her 476 Majesty's Government to do anything, for it is plainly outside their power—I wonder if noble Lords have heard (doubtless some of them will have done) of a project to make a deep sea port in the Shannon Estuary, to take tankers of 100,000 tons or more into a "duty-free area" of about 20 miles square for transhipment, no duty being payable, on the same lines at that at Europort at the mouth of the Rhine. This project has not yet developed very far—perhaps it may never develop; but there again, the Sunday Times, in June, I believe, stated on their front page that Krupps, of Essen, had offered £22 million for the project. This was later denied by an official spokesman of the Irish Government, but it seems that the possibility of very great development with surplus capital from Western Germany is toward in that part of the world; and that may or may not be of some interest to your Lordships' House.
§ To turn to another aspect of the economic scene, lately it was suddenly announced that there would be an increase of 7½ per cent. in freight rates between the two countries. We were told of that increase in freight rates overnight. This increase, as your Lordships can imagine, was very ill-received by a number of industrialists who were working on a rather fine margin. At this point, the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, speaking in Northern Ireland (though I did not hear him say it), was reported as saying, when tackled on the matter, that in any major concern freight rates were a minimal consideration. I thought that that was a most extraordinary remark. I can assure the noble Viscount that if he were in my business he would look on freight rates as very important indeed. I would ask the noble Duke whether he will take note of and consider the possibility of having an ad hoc committee of experts (not necessarily Government experts) who could perhaps sit and consider some of these 'points and report. I do not suggest a Standing Committee at present, for I do not think that is called for; but perhaps an ad hoc committee of experts, who could look at some of the points I am mentioning now, might in time find aspects on which they could oil the wheels here and there, and help things along a little. That is the first point I wish to raise.
§ Secondly, the air and sea communications between the two countries are poor, 477 especially at peak periods. Here we have a major problem. The number of Irish subjects now working in England is tremendous, and they all want to go home for Christmas, at August Bank holiday time and, many of them, at Whitsun also; and the means of communication just do not exist. One cannot extend shipping lines or airways: they do their best, and in fact they do a wonderful job; but the situation is chaotic—there are no other words for it. One wonders whether the British Transport Commission could not find some means of transferring shipping at peak periods for this traffic? Perhaps that is impossible, but if something could be done it would be helpful.
§ There are only two airports in Ireland, Shannon and Dublin, apart from Cork, which is building. The sea routes are Dublin-Liverpool, Dun Laoghaire Holyhead, Rosslare-Fishguard and Cork-Fishguard. There is one day every year when it is impossible to get in or out of Ireland; there is simply no means of doing so. That could be a serious state of affairs in the case of very serious illness or other emergency. That happens on Christmas Day, and for twenty-four hours one cannot get in or out by any means, other than chartering an aircraft. There again, perhaps the noble Duke, if he has nothing else to do one day, could have a word with the British Transport Commission or British European Airways to see if something could be done in that direction.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords. I wonder whether the noble Lord would be so good as to tell us his ideas on what might be done about passenger communications between Great Britain and the Irish Republic.
My Lords, I rather thought I had done so. The British Transport Commission—British Railways—might be able at peak periods to divert a ship or two from some other line on which the load is not so heavy at Christmas time, for instance. That is my suggestion if it is practicable.
Finally, before I leave the first part of my speech concerning the economic side I should like to mention the question of bloodstock breeding, since it is, of course, a major industry where the Irish are concerned. It runs at a little 478 over £2 million per annum, from Ireland to England, and that is quite a lot of money. In fact, the breeding stock sent from Ireland to England is about four-fifths or five-sixths of the total bloodstock export from Ireland. I am told by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor (whom I tried to get into this debate; but unfortunately failed), since he breeds bloodstock in both countries, that he finds the existing arrangements are satisfactory.
While we are on the subject of that noble animal the horse, some of your Lordships will be pleased to have noted in the Press that control of the live horse-meat trade has been tightened up recently by the Irish Government, in consequence of protests about the inhumanity and brutality of shipping old horses abroad for slaughter. The Irish Government have subsidised a slaughter house not far from Dublin, and stringent regulations have been introduced to cover the export of horses for slaughter. In fact, no horse of over seven years of age may be exported for slaughter now, and there are other regulations into which it would take too long to go. I am sure your Lordships will be glad to hear that, in consequence of the representations, the Irish Government took that action.
That concludes the first half of my remarks and the second half will be rather shorter. I wish very much that my noble friend Lord Esher were here to-day, because he has forgotten more about the cultural side than I shall ever know. But ill health unfortunately prevents his attendance, and I know that your Lordships will join with me in expressing sympathy for him in his present condition. Here, again, I do not profess to any special knowledge at all on any of these cultural matters and put them forward alter some research merely in the hope of doing a little good here and there.
First, in the world of literature your Lordships will be very glad and interested to hear that the Book of Kells, dating from the eighth century—a fabulous work, I would say, to those who have not seen it—is to be on view in Burlington House from mid-January, with other tart treasures, including the Lindisfarne Gospels which are even older and date from about 700 A.D. The proceeds are 479 going towards building a library at New Trinity College, Dublin. I hope that some of your Lordships will be able to go and see these two extraordinary works of art side by side; this is the first time, so far as I know, that it has been possible to see them like that. It is a gesture—my noble friend Lord Moyne may be involved—and I hope that your Lordships will be able to see them in this helpful and entirely worthwhile activity. I should like to mention the subject of Trinity College, about which more may be said later by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. There is an increase in British students there, of whom quite a number are coloured students from Jamaica and West Africa. One sees a great many there. In fact, they probably run the cricket side! I can assure your Lordships that in Ireland racial discrimination is, luckily, non-existent.
In the world of art there was, on the subject of the Lane pictures, a long and rather bitter controversy which was very unfortunate. One side stood rather on the letter of the law and the other, perhaps, on the spirit of the law. In any case, the difference has now been resolved; and here again Lord Moyne had quite a lot to do with it. As a result, it has been agreed that alternately for five-year periods for the next twenty years half these pictures will be shown in Dublin and half in London. In fact, the first half is ready to be shown in Dublin now and it includes some extremely valuable and important masterpieces, including a Renoir, Les Parapluies, valued at £200,000 currently, and a Manet, valued at a little less—I think £150,000. Here is a matter eventually settled, not without some acrimony. If anything I can say can make a matter of that sort settled more quickly and easily in future, it will be to the general good.
In the theatre, the days of Sean O'Casey, and Synge are perhaps over, and no one has come up to replace them in the Irish theatre. It seems a pity. We do not get quite the plays we used to like to see or should like to have. We are always pleased to see a première of a play by Mr. Noel Coward—no one enjoys it more than I do—but perhaps it is not quite the same thing, even though in the last play we had the enormous pleasure of hearing Dame Sybil Thorn 480 dike there. The Dublin Theatre Festival, which takes place every year, is not tremendously encouraged by the British theatre, and one would like to see a little more done in that way. The Italians and Germans both have opera seasons in Dublin; there have been Spanish dancing companies there quite often. Admittedly, the Royal Ballet came once, though rather a long time ago—three years ago. But if anything I say this afternoon reaches them, perhaps it will encourage them to come again.
In the world of the cinema, there is the Cork Film Festival which, I am told by those qualified to speak about these things, is a great success and ranks very well with the Festival at Venice. I can say no more about that than to give it a passing reference.
In the world of music, the Festival of Wexford, which has taken place over several years, is a most praiseworthy endeavour, in my view, in a small city. It goes on for a week and is very well worth while. The President is Sir Compton Mackenzie and one of the leading sponsors is a former Member of another place, Sir Alfred Beit. I hope that the Arts Councils of both countries and other interested bodies will co-operate in promoting cultural ties between the two countries. I know that the Arts Councils are permanently short of money. That is so in the case of the Irish Arts Council quite certainly, and the British Arts Council's annual grant, I am told, would build four miles of a motorway! I am all for motorways being built, my Lords, but I wonder whether we have it quite in proportion when a sum of money of that size only can be devoted to these much more far-reaching projects.
Finally, I revert to another form of culture—physical culture or, as it is more shortly called, sport. Here the situation is very much better. In the world of international Rugby, for instance, and soccer, international matches take place, are very well attended, are always popular and do a lot of good. The Marylebone Cricket Club come to Ireland alternate years, and Ireland plays the M.C.C. at Lord's. This year we had Sir Leonard Hutton playing in Dublin and he must have signed thousands of autographs. In fact, he hardly had time to do any batting because he was continually surrounded by a mob of small 481 boys taking his autograph. That is a very good thing, most popular; and that is the type of thing one wants to see. In the world of golf, the Canada Cup was played in Ireland this year for the first time, at Portmarnock's magnificent links. It attracted a daily crowd of 20,000 people; and I might remind those of your Lordships who are golfers (and I can see at least one or two) that three times in the last ten years the British Open Champion was that agreeable figure, Joe Carr of Dublin.
There are a few other activities—athletics, boxing, tennis and the rest. The A.A.A., the L.T.A., et cetera, can all help by sending teams, by encouraging people to go, and by not saying, "Go to Paris and Brussels but do not bother much about Dublin; there is nothing much there". There is, my Lords; and there is plenty of competition. I am very glad to say that not very long ago a charity in which I am interested, with a view to building a rehabilitation centre, organised an athletic meeting in Ireland, with people coming from all over Europe. It was going to attract a very big crowd for this excellent charity. At the last minute, the British team withdrew and was said not to be coming. That sort of thing creates a very bad impression, though we probably had good reason for it. I got on to the telephone to my old friend the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter (whom I should very much have liked to see here to-day, but who is not well at the moment), the Chairman of -the three A's, and I said, "You must do something". He said, "I will", and a team (admittedly a smaller team, but a team) was flown over and took part. I was very grateful to the noble Marquess for that, and I wish he were here to hear those few words.
My Lords, that is really all I have to say, and I am sorry to have kept you so long. It is nothing more, really, than a survey of points which occurred to me and which I thought your Lordships might like to think about, if no more. I have tried to draw attention to various matters which have not been mentioned here for years; and it seems a little odd. really, that that should be so, since the Republic of Ireland is our closest neighbour except for France. There is an old French saying—and there is no truer one —which says, Se comprendre, c'est la paix: if you understand the other man's 482 point of view, the more you see of it and the more you understand the little difficulties that arise, the longer you will have peace and good relations, advantageous to everyone. But there is in this country at the moment an extraordinary ignorance about Irish affairs. It is not wilful, but it exists; and if anything I have been able to say to-day has helped to fill what is, in my view, a little vacuum, then it will have been worth while. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, we have listened with great interest to the speech that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has made; and I must express my own apologies that, if I intervene for a short time now, I shall not be able to stay long afterwards because I have an appointment that I cannot avoid. But everybody else whose name is on the list will take part in the debate and will, of course, express his own point of view.
I must say that I was rather disappointed by the noble Lord's speech, because what was lacking seemed to me to be any concrete conclusions as to what he wanted done. I do not think any of us can quarrel in principle with what the noble Lord has said as to the desirability of encouraging good economic and cultural relations between Great Britain and the Irish Republic, but there was in his speech a lack of definition as to what he wants done and as to whether Government economic aid to the Irish Republic is desired—in short, to bring the points to which he drew the attention of the House to positive, concrete conclusions that one could get hold of and examine, let us hope, upon their merits. I share with the noble Lord the pleasure that Mr. Boland has attained the high position of President of the United Nations Assembly. I know Mr. Boland and his wife very well. I have met them on social occasions, and they are very likeable people—and, II think, good friends of our country.
The noble Lord referred to tariffs, as to which there were discussions between the two countries and upon which there was, apparently, some conflict of interest between Irish agriculture and British agriculture. That is not surprising, because it is one of the difficulties which, unfortunately, exist about the Common 483 Market arrangements, with the principle of which I am in favour. But these are negotiations between one foreign country and another foreign country. One must not underestimate that factor in the situation. They are negotiations with a foreign country just as much as they would be if they were with a foreign country on the Continent of Europe or elsewhere. I do not know whether the noble Lord was seeking tariff concessions to Southern Ireland beyond what would be conceded to other foreign countries: it was not too clear from what he said. But I do mot think it follows that because Krupp's, which played a considerable part in preparing the Nazi war material before the last war, have been welcomed to Ireland and have opened up a place there, we have to do the same, although I am perfectly sure that many British firms will open up factories in Ireland, probably because of the tariffs which exist between the two countries and because it pays them to, particularly from the point of view of their export trade.
As to passenger communication, I do not think any of us objects to an improvement in that direction, especially at Christmas-time and in August, so long as it does not involve our subsidising that traffic between the two countries. If, as the noble Lord suggested, the shipping companies or air companies can, without economic detriment, divert some of their transportation to British-Irish communications, that is quite all right, and I fully sympathise with the desire of the many Irish citizens of our own country who, very naturally, want to get back to the Irish Republic to see their relations and friends at these times.
The Lane pictures have also been mentioned. I remember that complex, difficult argument which took place. and which involved the Government of which I was a member. It was exceedingly difficult to come to a clear-cut conclusion about it, but, in the end, a compromise was reached whereby the pictures are sometimes in Dublin and sometimes in England. Then, the Arts Council was mentioned, and I think that, here again, there is uncertainty as to whether it was desired that the Arts Council should make any grant towards the arts in the Irish Republic, which I think would be a little difficult to defend.
484 My Lords, I personally am in favour of the principle of good economic and cultural relations between our country and the Irish Republic; but, although I do not wish to introduce needless controversy, I am bound to mention one or two points that may be controversial. I should not like those improvements in economic and cultural relations to be in any way to the detriment of Northern Ireland, because Northern Ireland is another matter. It is part of the United Kingdom. It is very loyal to the United Kingdom. I once said that it was aggressively loyal to the United Kingdom. When the ports of Southern Ireland were denied to our use after we had handed them back (no doubt because the Government of that day were under the impression that it would clear up all the trouble between us and Ireland), it meant that many British sailors and merchant seamen lost their lives who otherwise would not have lost them. We would not quarrel with the Irish about it, because they had their rights and they exercised them; but if we had not had Northern Ireland, the Northern Irish ports and the Northern Irish air bases, no doubt we should have lost many more lives in the Battle of the Atlantic and might, indeed, have lost the Battle of the Atlantic altogether.
If it had been the general wish of the Irish people as a whole that there should be unity in their country, and if that country had remained part of the United Kingdom and part of the British Commonwealth, sharing with us defence, so that we took care of the whole of Ireland, then history might have been different. And I admit that history has a lot to do with this awkward problem. British actions in Ireland years and years ago were bad. I think British policy in Ireland as regards Home Rule proved that it was a great pity that Mr. Gladstone did not have his way. It would have made a great deal of difference to subsequent history. I think the Conservatives and Unionists of that time have been proved to be wrong—and those in this House took an active part in the matter —in their resistance to Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule proposals. In the result, the time came when Southern Ireland did not get Home Rule in the Gladstonian sense but got independence, or virtual independence, in the Free State, although they were still to be part of the British 485 Commonwealth; and there were the Black and Tans, and other incidents, which preceded that.
But, my Lords, it must be remembered that the violence and murders were not all on the one side. I remember standing on the roof of Cork Town Hall and being advised and informed by the Lord Mayor's charming private secretary. She pointed out places where she said the brutal British had shot down the Irish, set fire to their houses, and so on. I expressed my deep regret, of course, that this should have been so. But she went on in a pretty aggressive, aggrieved manner, which I understood. Then I said: "I would venture to remind you that there were some British policemen, or policemen employed by the British Government, who were shot in the back as well, and they had a lot of troubles." Well, she did not have any room for that kind of consideration; and that is the spirit which existed, understandably but regrettably, of a willingness to see one's own country's point of view but not the other's.
I can understand the views of the people in the present Irish Republic. In the Free State the tie with the Commonwealth remained. It is true that it was reduced merely to the point that His Majesty signed the credentials of ambassadors. That is the only tie which remained under Mr. de Valera, but he did leave it. He did want some connection. Then there came into power a more moderate—on the face of it—Southern Irish Government, and this more moderate Government removed that link—a most curious thing—until Southern Ireland became an absolutely and completely foreign country. It is curious, nevertheless, that the Irish Republic still remains within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Relations Office. That is a peculiar thing. One would have thought that it would come under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Office, who are experienced in the handling of foreign countries and have all the diplomatic expertise, but it is still within the Commonwealth Relations Office. It may be that there is a psychological factor in the minds of the Government and the Commonwealth Relations Office that somehow persuades them that the Irish Republic is still within the Commonwealth.
486 The only point I am worried about is whether there is any motive behind this Motion—I am not asserting that there is—whereby our economic and cultural ties should remain strong with the Irish Republic, and be improved (with which principle I do not disagree), but that that might be at the expense of the relationship which exists between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. If there were a desire to weaken that relationship, I should not be in favour of it. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and I think there are a good many Nationalists in Northern lreland who, under the counter, so to speak, still favour that association, because it undoubtedly brings great benefits economically to the people of Northern Ireland and to their social services. If Southern -Ireland had remained within the United Kingdom, it is possible that some arrangements of that kind might also have been made with the Government of the Irish Republic; but that was not to be.
I have dealt with Northern Ireland, and it is one of the reasons why I am speaking. When I was Secretary of State for the Home Department, that was one of the areas which came within the purview of Home Office influence, and I had a lot to do with its Ministers. I found them very co-operative with our Government, and I had occasion to visit Northern Ireland on a number of occasions. As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, the only thing I should like them to do, if they would do it, is to include three Labour Members among the twelve Northern Ireland Members in the other House. I say that not merely for partisan, political reasons—of which I know even the noble Viscount the Leader of the House would not suspect me for a moment—but because I think it would help to remove some of the prejudice against Northern Ireland which exists in some Labour circles. It is a great pity. I tried to encourage them to do that, and indeed I spoke there in the last Election. The vote was a bit better, but my ambition did not succeed, and I think it is a pity.
I have visited Southern Ireland and the Irish there are charming people, good hosts and good friends. I met Mr. de Valera and had an hour and a half's private discussion with him about 487 British-Irish relations. I have always found Mr. de Valera, both there and in Strasbourg, an exceedingly charming man. He would have made a first-class British Cabinet Minister; but that was not to be. I like him very much. He has great ability and I think he has been a considerable Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, as he is now a considerable President. He knows his way about. He is a good negotiator, a good persuader, and you need to have your wits about you when you deal with him. His Government was good enough to give me a dinner party, and we had a very good time. I have been to Trinity College (the College which has been mentioned) and I had a good time there. The only trouble about going to Trinity College debates is that you have a job to get to bed afterwards. The boys are very anxious to keep you up all night and make you less and less capable of remaining mentally alert. But they are very hospitable, and that is the danger. Therefore I have no bias against Southern Ireland.
However, I must say I have an affection for Northern Ireland and I like the way they have stuck to their British connections. They played a great and loyal part in the last war. Therefore, while I do not object to the noble Lord's Motion in principle, I should not like it to be interpreted in a way which would weaken either the economy or the relationship between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
§ 3.39 p.m.
§ LORD RATHCAVAN
My Lords, when I saw that this Motion was to be moved by the noble Lord. Lord Windlesham, I felt that possibly it might be a good thing if someone whose home is in Northern Ireland, and who has had a good deal to do with Irish affairs over a considerable number of years, said a word during the debate. After all, Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom which has a land frontier with the Republic of Ireland. I was a little surprised—though very grateful to him—at some of the things the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, has just said about Northern Ireland. I thought that this debate was to be mainly, in fact, entirely, confined to economic and cultural matters; and 488 the noble Lord, much though I agreed with everything that he said, has undoubtedly put a political slant upon his speech, which I hope I shall definitely not do.
When I was speaking a few days ago to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, he told me that it was nine years since Ireland had been discussed in any way in your Lordships' House. I have been a Member of this House for nearly eight years, and certainly I remember no debate on Ireland. It is a remarkable thing that that should be so, when one thinks how much the Irish scene occupied the political life of this country in years past, and how some of the most dramatic events in the history of this House took place in the old days over the Home Rule controversies.
I have always found that few people realise that in about 1845—that is to say, 115 years ago—the population of Ireland was about 8 million, when the population of England was 16 million. In other words, 115 years ago, the population of Ireland was half the population of England. To-day, the population of Ireland is about 4 million, or even less, whereas that of England is over 50 million.
§ LORD RATHCAVAN
It may be just over 4 million. In other words, in a little more than 100 years, the population of Ireland is half what it was, and the population of England is three time what it was.
This trend still continues. In the Irish Republic, between 1951 and 1959, the population declined by 3.8 per cent., whereas in Northern Ireland it rose by 2.7 per cent. Of course, the population of Ireland in 1845, when it was 8 million, was far too great for the country's resources. Ireland was an agricultural country, as it is to-day. They had no manufacturing industries of any consequence. The peasant population had very large families living on land which was quite unable to support them. Consequently, there was great poverty and great distress. Then, in 1845, came the great potato famine, with all its terrible consequences, one of the principal consequences being the mass 489 emigration of the Irish people to the United States of America, and to a lesser extent to Australia, causing a decline of population in a way to which I think it would be very difficult to find a parallel in any other part of the world.
It seems to me that probably it would be true to say that there has been no great change in the economic set-up of Southern Ireland in the last 100 years. She is still mainly an agricultural country. She still has no really great industries or enterprises, in spite of the few in the Shannon area, to which the noble Lord referred. She still has people leaving the country, though now they do not go to the United States or to Australia—they come here to Great Britain. As the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said, thousands of people from the Irish Republic come over here to take up work and are now living in Great Britain. I think that it would not be an exaggeration to say that at this time a large section of the population in the Irish Republic is living on remittances received from workers in this country who are earning good wages.
Northern Ireland is also mainly an agricultural country—that is to say, agriculture is still its largest industry—but within the last 100 years it has developed great industrial enterprises. There is shipbuilding. The great yard of Harland and Wolff in Belfast has built some of the finest passenger vessels which sail the seas to-clay. They built most of the great ships for the P. & O. Line and the Royal Mail Line. There is the great linen industry, originally introduced into Northern Ireland by Huguenot immigrants from France in the days of the persecution of Protestants there. There is also a large number of new industries which have been established within the last ten or fifteen years, including several industries with American capital and controlled by citizens of the United States.
The interesting thing about the industries of Northern Ireland, which applies both to shipbuilding and to linen, is that they have been built up without any what I might call natural help from the country itself. In shipbuilding, all the raw materials—steel and so on—must come from over the sea, mostly from this 490 country. In the linen industry, the raw flax comes mainly from Europe, from Belgium. It used to come from the Baltic States and Russia; and I believe that a certain amount still comes from there. My point is that the industries which the Ulster people have built up over the last 100 years have been built up in spite of the fact that the raw materials for those industries have all had to be imported from abroad. The same is true of the cotton industry in Lancashire.
I fully agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said about the recent alarming increase in the freight rates between Great Britain and Ireland, whether North or South. There is one other point, to which I should like to refer, on the economic side. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, when he comes to speak, is going to refer to a suggestion recently made by Mr. Lemass, the Prime Minister of the Republic, for economic talks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with a view to reducing duties on certain Northern Irish goods entering the Republic.
I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but I do not know why he is so firm in his opinion of what I might say. I have not published my intentions. I might say something of the sort, or I might not, but I cannot help wondering why the noble Lord is so certain that I intend to deal with that topic.
§ LORD RATHCAVAN
I can give the noble Lord a complete answer. I was yesterday in the Northern Ireland Office, in Regent Street, in London, asking for some statistics, and they told me that the noble Lord had been telephoning to them and had asked them for particulars about the very matters I am going to mention.
I was anxious that any statements made by Lord Brookeborough which have already been published should be made available to me so that I should not misrepresent him. I was not asking for any private information, and I am bound to say that I was not under the impression, when I spoke to those excellent officials, that they would want to convey what my intentions were to the noble Lord. But that is a matter of taste.
§ LORD RATHCAVAN
Whether the noble Lord will refer to the matter or not, I intend to say a few words about it; that is to say, about the economic talks which Mr. Lemass, the Prime Minister of the Republic, wished to have with the Government of Northern Ireland, with a view to reducing the duties on certain Northern Ireland goods entering the Republic. The Northern Ireland Government have not made a very favourable response, and I should like to explain to the House the reason why.
In the first place, the Government of Northern Ireland have no power to conclude any tariff agreement with the Republic, because Customs and Excise are entirely within the purview of the United Kingdom Government. But let us suppose that this difficulty could be overcome and that a joint request was made to the British Government to implement any arrangement which might have been made. What then would the position be? It would mean that certain Northern Ireland goods entering the market in the Irish Republic would have been granted privileges not available to goods from other parts of the United Kingdom. In other words, it would mean treating Northern Ireland's industry as something separate from British industry; and that might be the thin end of the wedge towards undermining Ulster's present position as part of the United Kingdom, with complete equality as regards trade and industry within the United Kingdom economic unit. That is a situation which Ulster could never contemplate, because her membership of the United Kingdom is her economic sheet anchor.
I was looking the other day at some figures, which have just been published by the Ministry of Commerce in Belfast, as regards exports from Northern Ireland in the year 1959. The value of exports from Northern Ireland in 1959 was £321,686,000—a record figure. Of those exports 93 per cent. went to Great Britain or to other countries via Great Britain, and only just over 4 per cent. went across the land frontier to the Irish Republic. So that, in any event, the amount of exports which might be affected by any agreement between Northern Ireland and the Republic on tariffs is so infinitesimal that it is really hardly worth considering. 492 Here are some more figures that I have, illustrating in detail what the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, referred to just now—namely, the economic advantages which Northern Ireland has through being an integral part of the United Kingdom, as compared with the situation in the Irish Republic. Wage rates in Northern Ireland are universally higher. The wage of agricultural labourers is nearly 50 per cent. more than in the Republic. In the Irish Republic unemployment benefit is 40 per cent. less than it is in Northern Ireland; sickness benefit is 40 per cent. less; widows' pensions are 40 per cent. less; family allowances 50 per cent. less, and maternity grant 84 per cent. less. In agriculture, Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, receives the full benefit of all guaranteed prices and subsidies. And on a population basis, as regards trade, the trade of Northern Ireland is four times as great as corresponding values in the Irish Republic. I mention those figures merely to show what was so well said just now by the noble Lord. Lord Morrison of Lambeth: that the fact that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom is for her, from the economic point of view, of such tremendous importance that she could not possibly consider any discussions with Southern Ireland which might tend in any way to diminish that great advantage.
§ 3.57 p.m.
§ LORD KILLANIN
My Lords, as has been said earlier, it is, I think, eleven years since Ireland was mentioned in this House; and I, as one of the Members of your Lordships' House who lives in the Republic of Ireland, have not been here since then, because the few things I know about have not been discussed. It was some 25 years ago that I rose to make my maiden speech here, at the time of the discussion on the return of the ports. Soon after that the 1938 Act was passed, to which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, who moved the Motion, referred. All our economic developments date from that period.
I came here this afternoon rather 'under the impression that we were to confine ourselves largely to cultural and economic matters, and I was a little surprised to find the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, getting up and making a speech part of which might have 493 been made from the Unionist Front Benches in the last century, and the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, getting up and making a speech about Northern Ireland when the Motion is on the Republic of Ireland. But in many ways I am delighted about the latter. The first remark I was going to make was that I thought it a pity that this Motion did not cover all Ireland, because, whatever differences we may have, our economic and cultural problems are the same. We dive in a day when some people in Ireland feel that when the words "unity" and "union" are discussed in other spheres, at least we can find our common denominators. One thing the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, did was to explain that the economic problems of Northern Ireland vis-à-vis Great Britain and the world are exactly the same as those in the 26 counties of the Irish Republic. The sooner we can sit down and face those realities, and not make, for example, a customs barrier an official excuse for not discussing mutual problems, the better it will be, not only for Ireland, but also for the British Isles and Western Europe, in which we in Ireland, both North and South, feel we mast play our part.
I always find it difficult, because like so many Members of your Lordships' House I have a foot on either side of the Irish Sea. I hope no one minds my saying that, just as naturally a Scotsman's first loyalty is to Scotland, so my first loyalty must be to Ireland. Therefore, if I make a slight mistake when I say "we" or "I", I am thinking purely of a personal point of view. Personally, I think it is sad, as the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, has frequently mentioned at Stormont, that the customs barrier between the North of Ireland and the Republic is a great stumbling block. But the moment a suggestion is made in Dublin that it could be removed, wonderful excuses are found in Belfast to place the responsibility on Britain. It would be very easy to remove that small barrier. It is a matter of adjustment and negotiation, and at this moment officials of the Commonwealth Relations Office are having discussions in Dublin—one of the regular discussions arising out of the 1960 Agreement. I hope that this question of the possibility of Northern Ireland being able to trade with the Republic without paying customs duty will 494 be reviewed. I am in touch with Unionists and Republicans of all extremes, and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, is not representing all Northern Irish businessmen when he says there is no desire to have that tariff removed. I did not come here to talk politics, but I find myself having been led on, and I apologise for doing it.
There are certain spheres where I think the interests of Great Britain and Ireland are closely associated. If we want to have close relations between Ireland and England, the one thing we must make easier is travel between the two countries. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, raised that point. Aer Lingus, the Irish Airlines, in which B.E.A. originally had a minority holding and has now, I am glad to say, alternating British directors, both Members of your Lordships' House, runs in conjunction with B.E.A. an extremely good service, not only between London and Dublin, but between Dublin and the greater cities of England. Not only that, but Ireland also links us with America, and I am glad to say that the Lord Mayors of Belfast, Dublin and Cork, and several British Mayors, only last week went through Dublin on the first Boeing flight to the United States.
Air transport, I think naturally, is hard pushed at Christmas-time, like everything else; but it has moved with the times, whereas it would appear that the rail and sea transport has really not. progressed. If you want to go by sea you go either from Liverpool to Dublin or from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire. The Liverpool service, which goes under the Irish flag, is in paint of fact a subsidiary of Coast Lines, and is controlled from this side of the Irish Sea. It grew out of the cattle trade, and I find that it has not improved as might have with the competition with air since the war. The many visitors who wish to go to Ireland, and especially if they wish to take their cars to travel there, have facilities which do not compare with my personal experience on similar types of journeys in the Mediterranean or between Scandinavian countries.
Far worse is the British Railways route. We want to encourage tourists to Ireland, and the best tourists we have are the British. They come over with great regularity and are extremely popular. 495 But at the peak season the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire (Kingstown) service is far from adequate. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, asked for concrete suggestions about this. There is one ship called the "Princess Maud." I must say that her days must be nearly numbered, and she needs replacing. If she is replaced, I would suggest that a completely new look should be taken at the communication's and the approach to communication. Whereas the Liverpool-Dublin service was based on cattle, the Holyhead-Kingstown service was chiefly based on the day of the emigrant traffic. To-day, many of our emigrants coming over here, as the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, said, earn a lot of money and are not used to travelling in bad conditions.
It needs a completely new approach, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will make capital available to British Railways and the British Transport Commission, Who control this service, so that we can have a ship which can make a quick turn-round, take 150 cars, and have seats like buses—the journey takes only three hours—a modern concept, instead of the extremely uncomfortable accommodation for the general public and a limited number of cabins, which I imagine must date from the days when people like my grandfather and predecessors had the special privilege of travelling first-class in the few luxurious cabins.
As regards the tourist trade, there is no doubt at all, as I mentioned just now, that our best visitors and those who create the best relations between Ireland and England are the English. Our people come here to work and English people visit Ireland for holidays. Also, a large number of Americans come into Europe each year, and I think it would be in the common interest of the North of Ireland, of the Republic of Ireland and the British, that there should be more concentrated and co-operative work between the various tourist organisations. Many tourists come to Ireland who might well be channelled to visit Britain but who, instead, go on to Europe. In the same way, many people come direct to England who might well spend some of their time in Ireland.
496 On the question of culture, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, mentioned the Dublin Theatre Festival over which I preside. He also mentioned the fact that the Royal Ballet has visited Ireland. I should like to inform your Lordships that through the Dublin Theatre Festival —which is now purely a theatre festival, although originally we had ballet—we brought to Dublin the Royal Ballet and the Festival Ballet and, this year, the Old Vic and the Belgrade Company from Coventry. That had to be done purely by means of Irish subsidies—from the money we were able to raise to support our Theatre Festival. The reason why I think we do not get assistance for British companies to come to Ireland, as do the French and Italian companies, is because we are in a strange position. Sometimes people say that we get the best of both worlds, but that in culture we fall between the Arts Council and the British Council.
I would ask Her Majesty's Government to bear in mind that it should be possible, when the Old Vic is going abroad, as it is in the case of Russia, and comes to Dublin as its first place, for the British Council to extend their facilities so that some of the grant might be used for that purpose. I must mention that the British Council are taking three plays to Russia, two of them written by men born in Dublin, one of them Shaw and the other Wilde. Also, I must correct the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, who said that since O'Casey and Synge there have been no great playwrights. It is very hard to judge playwrights of the present time. I must remind him of Beckett and Brendan Behan. Although they may make the headlines in rather odd ways, they are people with considerable impact. I remember Peter Ustinov coming to Dublin to an International P.E.N. Conference of which the noble Lord, Lord Moyne, is now Chairman. Peter Ustinov opened his speech by saying:Gentlemen, I think I am the only English playwright who is not Irish, and I am Russian.But that theatre tradition continues. I sincerely hope that we shall continue to bring important English companies to Dublin. But we shall not be able to do that unless we receive some further financial assistance such as we get from the French or the Italians.
497 One last thing. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, mentioned sport—and again I must apologise for mentioning my own position, because I happen to be President of the Olympic Council of Ireland and, with the noble Lord, Lord Luke, and the noble Marquess, Lord Exeter, I sit on the International Olympic Committee. I am glad to say there is no doubt at all that the relationship which exists in sport is one of the healthiest and best for Anglo-Irish relations. There used to be a time when the games of Rugby football and soccer were called garrison games by some. The Gaelic Athletic Association has done a great deal to promote sport in Ireland. Recently in South. London, on Mitcham Common or some other Common, I saw what I at first thought was hockey being played, but which I found was the Irish national game of hurling. I feel that this exchange of games, and the very fact that Irishmen can fill Wembley Stadium with hurlers and their supporters in the same way as crowds at Lansdowne Road watch Rugby football could not he healthier. Most sport, like practically everything cultural in Ireland, such as the Royal Irish Academy, Hibernian Academy, and so on, is organised on an all-Ireland basis and free from politics. Field and track is the only exception. We seem to have innumerable organisations running this branch of athletics, which unfortunately is due to politics.
I can assure your Lordships that there is a great change in Ireland, and those of us who know the North well, know the Republic well and know England well realise that to-day there is more practical thought on the question of unity and co-operation. I disagree with the two noble Lords who have spoken; I am one who believes strongly in the eventual future of a united Ireland: whether it is within the Commonwealth or what its relation is to this country is not for us to discuss to-day. I do know that in Ireland we have one people and one culture, whatever our differences in politics and religion are at the moment.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I admire the courage of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in bringing his Motion, but my doubts, before he brought it, as to the wisdom of doing so have, in fact, been confirmed by most of 498 what has been said. I admire the self-control of the noble Lord who has just spoken, who seems to me to have done his best to bring us back to the subject Lord Windlesham wished us to talk about. The fact is, as he himself said, the Motion is cast in very wide terms, and although we have in fact succeeded in keeping off the Border, except by implication, it was bound to arise at some lime during this debate. I think I shall have little to say that is political—indeed I have little to say at all.
I am certain of one thing, arid that is that, so far as anybody wishes to see better relationships, and possibly a united Ireland, the less he should say about it. It seems to me to be a danger that whenever Irish affairs are discussed, and particularly if they are discussed in this country, it can only give rise to discussion of the history of the past, about which we in this country have little to be proud and on which the Irish also have something to be ashamed. But I do not wish to go into the past in any detail, beyond saying that every time the Border is mentioned or, equally, every time a bomb is thrown, the further a united Ireland—and I admit that I am emotionally in favour of a united Ireland —is put off; because the people of this country (and I am quite sure my noble friend who spoke on the Front Bench would agree) are not willing to be party to the weakening of the Northern Irish position.
I should like to concentrate on the points which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, tried to bring out—namely, cultural relations and, indeed, economic relations. Here I think there was a certain unreality about some of the debate. Conditions may be very difficult for people going to Ireland in the peak season. I would suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, should try going to the Isle of Wight in the peak season. He would find that he would be packed like cattle on that journey. Whether it is a criticism of British Railways or of our habits as holiday-makers I do not know; but the fact remains that some of those things cannot be put right easily. Nor can we alter the fact that the Republic of Ireland is now outside the Commonwealth, and the encouraging thing is the limitation of the damage that might have arisen from that particular move. Undoubtedly the personal relations between 499 the Irish and the English as individuals have never been better. Certainly the general exchange of people has never been larger. The largest exports of the Irish at the moment—or the most important, so far as this country are concerned—are, of course, in manpower, and I think it is true that many of the essential services of this country would break down without them. I doubt whether, if the Irish were removed, enough of the lifts would continue running in London to get us up to the top floors of many buildings.
The other exchange, which is one on which I think we have not acknowledged our debt to Ireland, is in the matter of education, and particularly university education. The university population of Ireland is somewhere around 6,000 at any one time, and a very high proportion of British students go to Trinity College, Dublin, while a certain number of other Commonwealth students, and a few British, too, go to the National University. On this Ireland is paying for what we get, because we are in a privileged position in our access to those universities. We in this country have a special responsibility for Trinity College, Dublin. It is the old Elizabethan University, which was founded by Archbishop Loftus, who was an ancestor of mine, and I do not doubt was an ancestor of many of your Lordships. Trinity College, Dublin, contains some of the most beautiful 18th century buildings to be found anywhere. It provides an education for many British students, whether they be from this country or from the Commonwealth, and they are freely accepted there. Some of the great treasures which the noble Lord mentioned, like the Book of Kells, are housed there. It is one of the copyright libraries. But we must recognise that the Republic of Ireland is a poor country. They do need support for carrying out their responsibilities, which are part of our general cultural heritage, whether British, Irish, European or of the world. I hope there will be support for the exhibition which is shortly to take place at Burlington House.
I have nothing more to add, beyond this: that I hope there will be a continued recognition that it is not wholly to the disadvantage of this country that the Irish Republic is to-day a Republic. 500 The part that Irish statesmen have played in world affairs is something which certainly has been to the advantage of this country and, indeed, of the West as a whole. The part that Ireland, as a neutral country, is playing in those appalling conditions in the Congo is something we can recognise. At least, Ireland is one country we have not heard (unless I have missed it) that threaten to withdraw her troops: practically every other country has. To that extent we have gained. I am sure that all noble Lords, however much they may be divided on certain issues like the Border, will be at one in wishing to see closer cultural relations and, if I may say so, a wise, and at times silent, approach to their improvement.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has rendered a valuable service in raising this debate to-day. So often Ireland is regarded as a kind of backwoods country of uneducated people. Those who come over here are frequently blamed for crimes such as drunkenness, allegations which in my submission are completely unfair. My only qualification for taking part in this debate is that the first Baron Auckland was in the latter half of the 18th century Chief Secretary of Ireland. I myself have spent two very pleasant and memorable holidays in that delightful country. Two of the few times in my life when I have been near to tears were on occasions on which I had to leave Ireland and return home. That is not said by way of disparagement of my own country, but to show my intense love and affection for that country during my visits.
On that point, may I say that the last time I was in Ireland was at the time of the tragic Harrow rail disaster. In the small town of Mallow, where I was holiday-making, almost every shopkeeper expressed the sincerest sympathy with both myself and other English and British people of that community on this tragic disaster. The pro-British feeling in Eire is far more considerable than many people may think. The Irish are essentially most charming and sincere people. They are often regarded as perhaps dreamy and of a not sufficient-unto-the-day mentality; but sincerity is one of their great virtues.
501 I am not going to say anything on the economic side of this Motion; I wish to concentrate my few remarks on the tourist and the cultural side. Several noble Lords have expressed their opinions as to the inadequacy of travel between this country and Southern Ireland, and I would wholeheartedly agree with them. I myself travel between Fishguard and Rosslare and Cork during the off-tourist season in October, and even those conditions have been most inadequate. I am not going to apportion any particular blame for this, but I would urge Her Majesty's Government to contact the British Transport Commission to see whether anything can be done to alleviate the situation. As the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, rightly said, a number of Irish people in this country wish to get home at holiday Time, and the services afforded to them are., I submit, in many cases very poor indeed.
Figures of the tourist trade between this country and Eire are most encouraging. Only a short time ago I contacted the Irish Tourist Travel Board, and they told me that in the year 1959–60 there was an increase of 8 per cent. on the number in the previous year of people travelling to Eire on holiday. That is most encouraging, and I should like to see that figure exceeded. This has come about despite what, in my opinion, was most insidious propaganda put forward last year regarding the Irish horse trade. I think a lot of it was misinformed. The fault was not primarily with Eire. It is at least encouraging to see that this did not have a great deal of effect on people travelling to Ireland. At least one well-known tourist agency boycotted bookings to Ireland. I think that was an unfortunate course of action to take.
Many people think that Killarney alone is a place of beauty in Southern Ireland. I would immediately dispel that illusion. I should say that Lismore, Connemara and Donegal have equal, if not more, beauty, and excellent hotel facilities. So far as culture is concerned, last year the London Symphony Orchestra had an extremely successful tour of Southern Ireland. They visited Limerick, Wexford, Cork and, I believe, Dublin. I should like to add this rider. They arrived at Limerick at 3 o'clock in the morning, and at quite a small hotel where they were staying they were 502 served, without any complaint, with hot bacon and eggs and coffee. That is something of which certain four or five-star British hotels might take note so far as foreign travellers are concerned. I know that that is not directly within the range of the debate, but certainly my experience of Irish hotels has been one of cleanliness, efficiency and courtesy. The same applies to Irish railways. Admittedly, schedules are not entirely punctual; but on the occasions on which I have had breakfast on the Irish railways the meal has been hot, cooked to order and served with absolutely clean white tablecloths.
I would reinforce the plea for closer liaison between the Arts Council, the British Council and their counterparts in Southern Ireland. I was most happy to hear from the noble Lord. Lord Killanin, that the Old Vic company has been to Ireland. I should like to see this occur regularly, perhaps with the Abbey Theatre company coming over here. Recently Synge's great play, The Playboy of the Western World, had a season in London. I did not see it, but I read the comments on it and, apart from the criticism that some of the actors talked rather too quickly, the play was most favourably received. I have seen a number of Irish plays by Synge on television, and they have been beautifully acted, with such actors as Michael MacLiamóir, Harry Hutchinson and Donal Donnelly. There are some fine actors and musicians in Ireland There was, of course, the late Count. John McCormack, and singers such as Veronica Dunne. There is the excellent Radio-Eirean symphony orchestra, and orchestras of which we hear all too little but which have great talent. One wishes that they would come over here more often. There are such novelists as Liam O'Flaherty. One of his greatest books, The Informer, was filmed some years ago, with that great actor Victor McLaghlan. I think this was one of the greatest films of all time. Admittedly, it presented a controversial picture of Ireland, but it was done with tremendous realism.
Then there are the Irish nurses. I should like to see a scheme whereby there might be some interchange of nurses between the United Kingdom and Ireland. There is, of course, a shortage 503 of nurses in this country which may make such an arrangement difficult at the present time, but certainly I would say that in my experience Irish nurses are some of the finest and kindest in the world. So far as recreations are concerned, that of shooting is one which encourages much of the tourist industry. Snipe in Ireland is almost a form of currency, and snipe shooting is a sport indulged in by all classes of society, from the richest to the poorest; and a number of tourists, too, take part. I feel that this has been a very worthwhile debate, and I should like to see Her Majesty's Government taking some positive action in seeking and striving for a much greater cultural, tourist and economic relationship between these two neighbouring countries.
§ 4.32 p.m.
My Lords, I am always happy to follow the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, and certainly what he has said will be appreciated when it is, read in Ireland. I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for raising this subject and doing it in so charming a way. He gave very firm instructions to those who were to follow regarding the speeches they were to make; and indeed more or less wrote them for us at one time. But his directive seemed to be aimed particularly at the two Cabinet Ministers who were to come later. Clearly, the noble Lord was not referring to me; although I had the great honour of being First Lord of the Admiralty I was never a member of the Cabinet. The noble Lord must have been referring to the noble Lords, Lord Morrison of Lambeth and Lord Rathcavan—who, I take it, was a member of the Cabinet of Northern Ireland. He shakes his head but surely he deserved that position.
Certainly if the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, was hoping they would follow his instructions, he was disappointed, because no one could have said that either of those mighty noble Lords confined themselves to questions of economic and cultural relations with Southern Ireland. Nevertheless, I will try to restrain myself, though it may not be altogether possible. For many years I have held strong views on Irish questions and have expressed them freely in 504 speech and in writing, even on one occasion inflicting 100,000 words at a time on the public. My position to-day is rather like that of a young man who wrote a letter to a counsellor on a woman's paper. His letter ran roughly as follows:Dear friend, for some time I have been trying to please my fiancée by making myself as much like Adam Faith as possible. I have had my hair nibbled in front."—that, of course, would be beyond some of us in these later days—Now she tells me she fancies someone more mature, like the Duke of Bedford. Will you please tell me how I am to set about imitating him?Your Lordships will see me in the capacity of someone trying to be as mature as possible, as much like the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford, as possible, or indeed any other noble Duke —say, the noble Duke who I am so glad is to answer this debate. If I am duller than I should wish, it may come partly from nature and also because it has been imposed upon me.
I shall say little about cultural questions, but I hope that if I pass them over rather rapidly that will not be put down to lack of interest. I am greatly honoured to belong to a Committee which is appealing in this country, and is responsible for the British part of the appeal, on behalf of Trinity College. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has left us for the moment, but what he said on that was of the utmost value. My elder brother, who I hasten to point out is a staunch Irish Protestant and was at one time a senator, has run a theatre in Dublin and in other parts of Ireland for many years; so I am not lacking in interest in Irish culture.
I pass over the religious field, inseparable though it is from any discussion of Irish culture, except just to say that nothing could do more in the long run to bring our two people together than greater understanding and sympathy between the main Christian communions. And I cannot refrain from paying my respectful and very sincere tribute to a certain memorable visit which will be in the minds of many of us here. But perhaps the House would rather hear from me, if at all, on the economic side. I am chairman of a clearing bank founded by Daniel O'Connell, with branches in all parts of 505 Ireland. I must not engage in what is called a "plug", but I cannot help mentioning that part of my credentials. We are represented in Northern Ireland but not as strongly as I could wish. We are engaged on a policy of expansion there, so if the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, wonders whether I am blind and deaf to the charms of his part of Ireland, let me assure him that I am well aware of the old saying:Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also.And so I am full of good will and keen interest in Northern Ireland—which I hope will be reciprocated.
Banking and Rugby football—and, I should add, a common aversion to Lady Chatterley's Lover— are attributes which overrun the Border in Northern Ireland. It would be tempting for me (though not pleasant for your Lordships) to unload a mass of statistics about the development of the Irish economy and Anglo-Irish trade. I will resist that temptation except to point out that British exports to Ireland—and when I say "Ireland" the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, will forgive me if I use the expression as meaning the Irish Republic, because, in fact, I am anxious to use the right word—are running at a rate of about £1 00 million a year, and in return we in this country are buying from Southern Ireland—leaving out the North for the moment—something between £80 million and £90 million a year.
Professor Jewkes the Oxford Professor of Economic Organisation, recently pointed out the importance of the trade of each country to the other. No doubt it is true that the smaller country—the Irish Republic—is not as likely to be as important in a trade sense to the larger one—Britain—as Britain is to the smaller. I should point out, however—and this point has not come up in the debate, though it is fundamental for those who are concerned with running the economic life of Ireland —that the presence of a wealthy country like Britain so close to the shores of Ireland is not an unmixed blessing. It brings advantages and disadvantages, as well. It virtually imposes upon Ireland the effort to maintain the standard of life which the Irish Republic must maintain if her population is not to disappear or very greatly diminish.
I am sure that, on balance, both countries benefit, and benefit greatly, from 506 the free movement of population between the two; but the really grave long-term problem facing Ireland's economic planners is how to maintain the population. For good or ill, it would be much easier (I am not saying on balance it would be a pleasanter situation), though it would mean a low standard of life, if Ireland were several hundred miles away. That is an absolutely basic condition of all Irish planning.
In spite of all her problems—and we in this country have plenty at the moment —things are going pretty well on Ireland's economic front. I do not want to embark on an invidious comparison between the situation in the South and that in the North. I am hopeful that both will do well, and equally well. Per head of the population, the North is a richer community—I would not deny that. But while her wealth is greater it would seem that just at this particular moment the North is confronted with more acute difficulties than the South. I do not take any pleasure in that and I hope those difficulties will he overcome. I can never remember, in my lifetime, a time when the economic prospects of the Irish Republic were so bright.
If I may quote Professor Jewkes again —and he has no Irish connections I know of, except that I think he advises at least one great firm which operates there; but he is an excellent professor and is quite dispassionate—he says that in the case of Ireland:We are discussing a country which is instinctively and stubbornly disposed to put first things first. The great debate within Ireland About major economic strategy is being conducted at the high level which befits a country possessing first-class economists, an admirable array of economic statistics and a set of basic economic documents, both public and private…which have set out the issues with a rare combination of analytical power and business acumen.So Professor Jewkes considers the problems there are being faced in a most sensible fashion.
I have no Irish Party politics, and there are good men on all sides there, but, by general consent, the country possesses in Mr. Lemass a Minister of good will and much realistic statesmanship. And I am very glad that my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth paid a tribute which I thought, if I may say so, came very much from the heart to Mr. de Valera Mr. de Valera has been the 507 centre of many disputes in the course of forty years of public controversy, but to-day he surely is regarded all the world over as a man of unexampled or, at any rate, unsurpassed integrity and idealism.
Those of us who are explaining the Irish problem (though I hope I am not putting matters from one point of view only) are not to-day coming to the House to plead the cause of an oppressed victim, as it was pleaded with incomparable eloquence by Mr. Gladstone in 1886. The noble Viscount will remember those words because he is, I am quite sure, soaked in great orators. Mr. Gladstone said,Ireland stands at your Bar expectant, hopeful, almost suppliant.Well, that was true at that time. There is a picture in a passage here of this House throwing out, a few years later, the second Home Rule Bill, by, I think, 419 votes to 41—a terrible error, as I think most of us would regard it now. But that, in a sense, belongs to the past.
I myself, in my own book on the Irish Treaty, fifty years after Mr. Gladstone and after his great speech, 25 years ago ended as follows:Whatever England's policy, it remains for Ireland to do herself justice as a nation. For that she has not yet done. Whatever Ireland's policy, it remains for England to make atonement. For that she has not yet made.I wrote those words 25 years ago and I have no desire to unsay them. But we are not coming down to this House this afternoon to talk that particular language. We are discussing these matters to-day not in terms of supplication or recrimination, but in an effort to see where good relations can be further improved by any methods that are of mutual advantage.
I am anxious to say as little as humanly possible about Irish partition and Irish unity this afternoon, but I feel that I have been given perhaps some slight excuse in what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan. So far as I am concerned, I hope he will intervene far more often in our debates and return to these subjects. However, if I said absolutely nothing about the unity of Ireland I think there would be thought to be something positively sinister about it, so may I say these few sentences? I take it for granted that no solution can ever be arrived at which is not accepted voluntarily by Northern Ireland. That is the 508 beginning of all wisdom in the matter. A great British Government servant—I hesitate to indicate him more precisely, but he is a Member of the House, a man to whom Ireland has much reason to be grateful—said to me many years ago that the only rational solution was the political unity of Ireland and the strategic unity of the British Isles. And certainly one would think so if one looked at the map.
Since he said that to me we have seen many developments. The Commonwealth has assumed new and ever more liberal forms of partnership. Ireland has left it. I have often wondered whether that would have occurred if the question of Ireland's leaving the Commonwealth had arisen just after the Indian solution was reached instead of just before. I think it was one of the tragic accidents of history that the problem became so acute in the Irish case before the Indian solution was arrived at. But certainly the Commonwealth to-day is very different from the old Empire against which Irish nationalists struggled for so long. Ireland has gained (as my noble friend Lord Shackleton said) new prestige through her Presidency of the United Nations Assembly; and I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth for what be said about Mr. Boland, an old son of Trinity College, as Lord Shackleton will be aware. Ireland has played a part in the Congo which has brought much admiration, and she has responded to her losses in a spirit which every Member of this House would applaud. At this moment I think that a Bill is being passed through the Irish Parliament which will enable her to replace her troops in the Congo when the time comes; and I hope and believe that she is setting an example which other parts of the world will follow.
Some of us felt a little while ago that the real danger to Ireland—a danger arising through circumstances which were not a fault of hers, and which would become really serious if it continued—was a kind of mental isolationism which one found inclined to grow up. In the last few years, particularly under the impact of recent events, there are unmistakable signs of Ireland's breaking out of any isolationism in thought and rededicating herself to an historic international mission.
509 Is it possible, my Lords, to visualise a lasting political solution? Of all the proposals put forward, that which came some little while ago from Cardinal D'Alton seemed to me far the best. This is not the time to try to lay down precise arrangements in any dogmatic fashion, but the conditions of settlement seem to me to be crystal clear. Whatever the rights and wrongs, it is in my eyes inconceivable that Irish unity will ever be achieved while Ireland remains outside the Commonwealth. On the other hand, if she comes inside I am convinced that all the forces of nature and good sense will lead the men of the North to see their destiny in a 'united country. If that is the right answer, Ireland, a country as proud as England, with a people as ancient as England's, cannot be expected to come forward cap in hand. It should be made publicly clear to her in advance that she would be truly welcome.
I appreciate that it is difficult for anybody of real consequence in the South of Ireland, or in the North of Ireland or in this country, to give a lead in this matter. Everybody, it seems to me, is waiting for everybody else. No one can tell what response would be evoked. But I am passionately convinced that what I have just said had to be said by someone, and I can only hope that your Lordships will forgive me for introducing it into this very rare discussion on Ireland
To be candid—and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, greatly —it is very difficult, one might say almost impossible, to discuss the economics of either part of Ireland without some reference to the political framework, for reasons which must have come out this afternoon and are bound to conic out still more plainly as we proceed. The Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement, signed in April this year, made provision—one of its most valuable features—for regular consultations between British and Irish officials. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has suggested, if I understood him aright, an ad hoc inquiry which would sharpen and focus those discussions. I cannot help quoting in that connection a dispassionate judge, Professor Jewkes again, when he concluded this recent essay from which I have quoted. He said: 510It still seems irrefutable that the obstacles to commerce between Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain, do not make senseI do not know what Professor Jewkes's politics are, if he has any, but he is still speaking as an economist. He continues:Could there be anything but advantage in the three Governments setting up a joint expert committee instructed to find ways of removing the obstacles?That would be a tripartite expert committee. One would certainly think not. In all humility, I cannot help hoping that the noble Viscount, Lord Brooke-borough, would not regard this proposal —the one of Professor Jewkes—with quite the same suspicion that has been aroused in his mind by various suggestions for talks which Mr. Lemass has recently been putting forward.
There is, of course, plenty of cooperation in various economic matters between the North and the South of Ireland on the official level. Lord Brookeborough said recently at the Queen's University—and I am quoting from the Belfast Telegraph, with which I was supplied, the noble Lord will be pleased to hear, by the office which he quoted earlier—that he was not against the principle of cooperation with Eire, but what his Government was opposed to was any move which would weaken Northern ties with or detach the North from Great Britain. And Mr. Lemass's offers on trade concessions clearly have this object in mind.Whether Lord Brookeborough is right in his interpretation of Mr. Lemass's intentions—and I have no grounds for saying that he is—he is clearly, if I may say so without impertinence, entitled, as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, to hold his view, and is not unlikely to go on holding it. That is a situation which we must probably regard as a fact.
Let us assume—though, of course, I do not myself assume it—that it is in Northern Ireland's best interests that the Border should remain. Let us assume that for the purposes of this debate and for the purposes of any subsequent discussions concerning mutual economic benefit. If the Border has to stay, cannot all concerned at least make the best of the status quo without the fear that trade arrangements of mutual advantage would be a first step towards political obliteration? I raise the question: it is not for 511 me to answer it. I hope that what I have said on this point, though not on the wider issue, will perhaps draw some comment from the noble Duke, though I appreciate that I am really asking a question, part of the answer to which must come from the Northern Ireland Government. Therefore, there is a limit to what the noble Duke could say about the matter.
If bilateral talks on trade arrangements between North and South are felt in the North to be too dangerous, then why not these tripartite talks; or, if you prefer, a tripartite expert inquiry? No one, I suppose, would seriously expect the leaders of the South, of the Irish Republic, to renounce all hope of Irish unity for all time. One could not expect them to say, "We will never try to bring about unification". But I myself—though I am not speaking in any sense as some sort of mouthpiece for leaders in the South of Ireland; I am speaking simply from what would be common sense, and from my knowledge of the land—feel confident that, if there were any triparte inquiry of that kind, and if the Southern leaders would agree to enter it, they would enter it without prejudice to the ultimate arrangements concerning the unity. They would enter it simply as a way of improving the economic position of all parts of Ireland.
My Lords, I said earlier that I could never remember a time when the economic future of Ireland was so bright, and I would add that I can never remember a time when the feeling between the two peoples was so good. I was brought up partly in Ireland and partly in England. In those days no one could pretend that there was not a great deal of anti-British feeling in Ireland and a certain amount of contemptuous feeling towards Ireland in this country, but I would say that there has been a marvellous improvement in the past 40 years or so. That abstraction England—behaved abominably to the Irish people for hundreds of years. That is the lesson of history, of which many of us are aware. But I believe that, in their hearts, most Irish people not only admire the British for the part they played in the war, but are grateful for the British attitude of restraint towards Ireland during that time. It may be said that that gratitude is not often expressed. I do 512 not think proud nations express gratitude very much to each other; but I believe that the restraint exercised by this country during the war won us a new place in the esteem of Ireland. Be that as it may, I believe that the possibilities of friendship between our two peoples, these two democratic, Christian peoples, are unlimited in an age when Christianity and democracy are struggling alike for their existence. I hope and pray that this debate will have served that end, and I am sure that no other purpose than that will be in the mind of the noble Duke when he comes to reply.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Windlesham for putting down this Motion to-day, and for giving us the opportunity of a very interesting debate. I think it is high time we had such a debate in this House. As the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, has said, it is many years since Ireland was mentioned. She is almost our nearest neighbour, and I, for one, do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that a subject like this should not be discussed here. I consider that your Lordships' House, which can deal with these matters objectively and without rancour, and with a certain amount of imagination, too, is the best possible forum for debates of this kind. I hope that we shall have many such debates, not only on this subject but also on many other subjects which may be thought to be rather delicate, because very often a great deal of good can be done, in spite of the possibility of some harm.
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said during the course of his speech that there was a danger at one time of Ireland becoming somewhat, as it were, inbred. Perhaps that is not the expression he used, but he meant that they were looking inwards rather than outwards. That was not by any means their fault. For many years they were not a member of the United Nations, and they were not admitted to many of the international organisations. That situation has now gone; and, with other noble Lords who have spoken, I should like to congratulate both the Republic of Ireland and Mr. Boland upon the great honour which has fallen to him as President of the United Nations Assembly, 513 and on the way in which he has conducted a most difficult task. No previous President has had to grapple with Mr. Khrushchev, or anyone like him, or has had to deal, in those circumstances, with people of such great world calibre (or, anyway, such world figures) as Mr. Khrushchev and others; and the way he carried out his task is a great tribute to the capacity of Mr. Boland, and reflects credit upon his country. I should also like to pay tribute to the Irish Government for the way in which they have sent troops to the Congo. This is the first time that any Irish troops have ever left the country—officially, anyway—and I think it is a matter upon which they deserve our thanks and our congratulations. It will be a great experience to the troops, and also to the Irish Government.
I must say that I was inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, in that I thought that both the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, and the noble Lord. Lord Morrison of Lambeth, were rather negative. I am quite certain that my noble friend did not put this Motion down merely to discuss the question whether Northern Ireland was better off than Southern Ireland. We know that it is; largely because, as Lord Rathcavan said, it gets a very great deal of help from this country. Of course it is better off; but my noble friend did not put this Motion down from that point of view at all. It is rather surprising to me that none of the speakers in this debate has touched on a point which is very much in the minds of the Irish. I went over to Ireland last year and did a tour. I met a very large number of people—Ministers, publicans, poets and pugilists. I met all sorts of characters in the course of that tour, and one thing they all mentioned was that they were Celts, and they welcomed me as a fellow Celt. They might have been Czechoslovakian for all that has been said by noble Lords speaking in this debate. Not even the noble Lord from Northern Ireland has mentioned that this is a Celtic nation. They feel very proud of the fact that they are a great part of the Celtic heritage. Not a word has been said about that, and I should like to rectify the omission.
Your Lordships will have noticed that all the time we have been talking about Ireland discussion has centred upon Eng- 514 land and Ireland, or Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. What about Wales and Ireland? What about the Highlands of Scotland and Ireland? What about the other Celtic countries and Ireland? We have many things in common. I was particularly glad to see that last week the Minister of State for Wales, Lord Brecon, visited Scotland. It was the first time in history that any Welsh Minister (not that there has been a Welsh Minister for very long in history, I may say, but even during the period when there has been one) has ever visited another Celtic country. He went there with Lord Craigton, who, unfortunately (I am sure not because of this incident) was immediately taken ill.
Lord Brecon and Lord Craigton went round the country and saw conditions in Scotland, and they came to the conclusion that there were many things in common between Wales and Scotland, as indeed there are. And now officials from Wales are going to Scotland to study the conditions further. Had Lord Brecon been here, and I regret to see that he is not, I should have liked to ask him whether he would now carry on the work which he started and visit the Republic of Ireland, so that he may study there questions affecting the two countries; because they are very similar.
For example, take the situation in the rural areas. There is a declining population; there is a culture which is always being impinged upon by great forces from outside; there is infertility of the soil. There are many problems in common. So far as the West of Ireland is concerned, they are very much in a quandary as to what to do about their cattle population. Nothing has been mentioned about that, but when I was over there that was the thing they talked to me about most. Because unless they can clear bovine tuberculosis from Ireland, it will be very difficult to sell their stock over here. Indeed, in County Clare, the proposition was suggested to me that they might be able to make the whole area west of the River Shannon a tuberculosis-free area, and ship their cattle from Galway to the Welsh ports. In the old days, of course, we in Wales took an enormous number of Irish cattle, but that is more difficult now with the existence of this bovine tuberculosis. That is the sort of problem that I should 515 like Lord Brecon to study on the spot. How can we in Wales help them with their cattle problems, having regard to the fact that they have not yet cleared bovine tuberculosis? We have been able to help them, and this shows that what I am saying is not just "hot air" but has a basis of fact. One of our great plant and grassland specialists—and we in Wales have a great deal of experience with that sort of thing—Mr. Moses Griffith, has been to Ireland, and has done a tremendous amount of work to help them with their grassland.
Now I come to the tourist trade. The Tourist Board spend £500,000 a year in Ireland. It is a well-established industry there, and is very well run indeed. In fact, they can teach us in Wales a good deal about running a tourist industry. We know a good deal about it, but we have not the finance. The Government gives us very little, if any, finance, and therefore, we cannot put into practice many of the excellent projects which the Irish Tourist Board adopt. Furthermore, we are handicapped by the fact that the United Kingdom has never been prepared to establish the links between Wales and Ireland. We were pressing for years for an air car-ferry from the Island of Anglesey to Dublin. That was put off from year to year, and finally one was started from Speke in Liverpool. I myself pressed in your Lordships' House a year or two ago for an air-ferry from Cork to Pembrokeshire. I am glad to say that there is now a possibility of a passenger service, though not an air car-ferry, between those two places. But at least, they have gone some way, and this will be of some consequence.
Finally, culture. When people talk of culture in Ireland, what they mean is Celtic culture. It is very nice, of course, to have things like the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells, and so on; and I am all for that sort of thing. But to my mind culture, to a large extent, is international, and we are very glad to see various products of national culture coming from one country to another. However, in order to make a contribution to the international school of culture, it is essential to have a national culture; and in Ireland that means Celtic culture. Again, I am surprised that the noble Lords from Ireland who have spoken did not mention 516 this enormous flowering of dramatic play-writing which there is in Ireland. The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, mentioned it: he mentioned a number of artists who are of great promise in Ireland. Some of them, indeed, are of more than promise—they are mature artists. Cyril Cusack was one; and there are others. At the present time in Wales and Ireland, for some peculiar reason (I do not know why), we have a marvellous school of playwrights growing up. We have a great burst of genius, as it were, among a number of young actors and actresses in both countries. We have great things in common between us, and I am sure that we can help each other a great deal.
I would only wish that I could persuade my compatriots in Wales (I regret to say that as yet I have met with no success, though one may still hope) to broaden out the Royal National Eisteddfod—a cultural occupation of ours—so that it would cater for the six Celtic nations, of which the three main are, of course, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the three others, Brittany, Cornwall and Man. They all come together at the Celtic Congress, which this year was held at Aberystwyth, the President being the Chief Justice of Ireland. I hope that we in Wales will be able to broaden out our own cultural institutions and allow these other Celtic nations to take advantage of this to help us in our own Celtic cultural association.
My Lords, that is almost all I have to say. Once more I thank my noble friend for putting down this Motion. I am sure that it has been a very useful debate, and that it will be looked at with great interest, and heard with great interest, in Ireland. Perhaps there is one circumstance which might be interesting to your Lordships, which I should mention. That is that the radio programmes received in Ireland, particularly on the Eastern side but also on the Western, include, apart from their own programmes, programmes from Wales. Therefore I dare say that the Welsh programmes will carry something of this debate, and the people in Ireland will hear something of this debate. Their papers, I imagine, will also carry part of our debate, and I am sure that they will be interested in it. I only hope that the Dail will have a similar debate, because it is all to the good. I believe 517 that we, should do everything we can to draw closer to the Irish. The old wrongs will then be forgotten and new friendships forged.
§ 5.9 p.m.
THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, in replying to this most useful and interesting debate, I must begin by declaring an interest in the subject, because my family have had, and I am very happy to say still have, property in the Republic of Ireland. Furthermore, there is no part of the year to which my family and I look fprward more than that part which we spend in County Waterford.
Much has been said in to-day's debate of what the Republic has to offer to this country, and indeed to the world. To these would add that she provides salmon fishing and, at any rate in my part of the country, a superb climate for gardening. As I have said in your Lordships' House on an earlier occasion, I consider myself something of an expert on leisure and I know of no two better ways of spending one's leisure than in fishing and in gardening. And for the many happy hours I have spent in these two activities within the shores of the Republic, I am much in debt to that lovely country. Therefore I most warmly welcome what has been said to further the good relations between the two countries, and in saying this, I say it not only on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, but also as one who is happy to have such close personal relations with both countries. I am most grateful, therefore, to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for instigating to-day's debate, and I feel sure that noble Lords on all sides of the House will feel that we have had a useful afternoon. Since the debate was instigated by a member of a family whose name, I suppose, one might say is a household word in the world of drink, perhaps we may describe the debate as "heady stuff."
Broadly speaking, noble Lords who have spoken have divided their remarks into three categories—political, economic and cultural—and I should like to follow them in this. I will deal with the first heading, which will be by far the shortest—that is, the poli- 518 tical aspects of to-day's debate. Some reference, though not a great deal, has been made to the question of partition. It is not my intention to touch upon this subject, because I am most anxious, like other noble Lords, to stick to the terms of the Motion, though I would say that the House listened with great interest to, and I am sure was deeply moved by, what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenhann, had to say on the Republic and the Commonwealth. I would only add that of course membership of the Commonwealth is not a matter for only the two countries; there are others to be considered. I would also say in general on the question of partition that the policy of the United Kingdom is well known and is embodied in legislation which safeguards the position of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. I am sure that I should not be furthering the aim of closer economic and cultural association between the two countries were I to say more on this subject, and it is certainly not my intention to rake over the past—a most unrewarding pastime—because, after all, it is with the happy future relations between the two countries that we are concerned this afternoon.
As to the economic relations between the two countries, as your Lordships will know, and as was pointed out this afternoon, they are governed by three Trade Agreements. The first of these, which may be said to be the main Agreement, was signed in April, 1938, and under it each country extends special preferential treatment to the other's goods. Nearly all the Republic's agricultural and industrial products are allowed into the United Kingdom free of duty or quantitative restrictions. In return, we enjoy in the Republic tariff preference over a wide range of our exports
The Agreement signed on July 3l. 1948, made certain modifications to the main Agreement, particularly with reference to the balance of payments difficulties of both countries and to the United Kingdom bulk purchasing of agricultural products. It left undisturbed the provisions relating to preferential treatment to which I have just referred. In these circumstances, and having regard to the obligations of the United Kingdom under G.A.T.T., our membership of the European Free Trade Association and to the importance of safeguarding the special 519 position of the members of the Commonwealth as trading partners of the United Kingdom, the scope for still closer economic association with the Republic of Ireland is limited. Nevertheless, our economic relations with the Republic are kept under review. In fact, the latest of the three Trade Agreements, which was signed in April of this year, contains provisions under which representatives of the two Governments meet at least once a year, and at any other time at the request of either Government, to discuss the trading relations between the two countries and, in particular, to exchange information and views on agricultural policies and production trends. A meeting took place in London in September in accordance with this arrangement and a further meeting took place only yesterday, as the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, mentioned.
Of the other provisions contained in the most recent Agreement, perhaps the most important are those referring to livestock imports to this country from the Republic. The Agreement states that:On and after 13th April, 1960, attested cattle imported from the Irish Republic and fattened in the United Kingdom for not less than three months qualify for payments under the fatstock guarantee scheme at the same rates as cattle bred in the United Kingdom.A further article provides for the Government of the Irish Republic to initiate a further review of protective duties and other import restrictions applied in the Republic of Ireland on goods produced and manufactured in the United Kingdom. Steps have already been taken to initiate a review of duties on certain United Kingdom exports to the Republic. Further reviews will follow on items to be agreed between the two Governments. Thus, the conclusion of this 1960 Agreement is evidence of the cordial way in which we are able on both sides to adapt our trade arrangements in our common interests.
It is understandable that some industries may complain about the disparity between the duty free entry accorded to Irish manufacturers exporting to the United Kingdom and the comparatively high rate of duty applied to their products entering the Republic. We can sympathise with these industries for feel- 520 ing aggrieved at this disparity. Its existence is justified, however, when one considers the overall exchange of advantages contained in the Trade Agreements, which are conducive to a high level of trade in each direction, figures of which were given by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. Any industry adversely affected by this disparity is recommended to consider consulting the Board of Trade with the purpose of obtaining a review of the particular duty thaw is affecting it.
Before leaving this aspect of trade between the two countries, may I say a word on what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, had to say on the proposal for linking farm prices in the two countries, together with concerted agricultural marketing policies in return for certain unspecified trade concessions to the United Kingdom. As I have already said, there was a thorough joint examination of the whole field of economic relations between the two countries prior to the drawing up and signing of the Trade Agreement of April of this year. During these consultations a proposal of the kind to which the noble Lord has alluded was then scrutinised. The pros and cons of it are thus already known to the United Kingdom Government and, in any case, since the machinery for close consultation in trade matters between the two countries is firmly established, should either country wish to re-examine the setting up of something of this kind, a meeting could always be called for the purpose.
As to the matter of freight rates, which two noble Lords have complained of as being too high, I would just say this. It is Her Majesty's Government's firm and long standing view that freight rates and other such aspects of sea transportation can best be left for commercial negotiations between shippers and shipping companies. I have learned with interest that recently a Shippers' Council has been set up in the Irish Republic, and we regard this as a development of considerable value. Since this Council has now been set up, I wonder whether there might be referred to it not only the question of freight rates but also the matter of inadequacy of travel arrangements between the two countries, mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, particularly in regard to travel by the 521 sea routes. I hope that when this Council has found its feet it will perhaps be able to deal with those two matters.
We in the United Kingdom understand the difficulties that have prompted the Government of the Republic to put into effect its current programme of economic expansion, with its emphasis on increasing productivity, on improving marketing in agricultural production and on concentrating industrial investment on those products that can, in the long run, hold their own in a world of increasing free trade. We are glad to note that a considerable measure of success has attended the programme so far. It is, of course, natural that in order to lessen the country's dependance on agriculture as its main source of export earnings, the Government of the Irish Republic wish to do what they can to diversify their country's economy. The establishment of industries which would contribute to these earnings, however, requires the investment of capital on a much greater scale than is available from the internal sources alone. The Government of the Republic, therefore, wish to attract the overseas investor. With this in view they enacted lams in 1959 with the object of encouraging the setting up of new industries in places, including the Shannon Free Airport area, outside existing development areas.
The financial inducements provided under this legislation, which include exemption, under certain conditions, from taxation on profits for a period of years, attracted foreign capital from a number of countries. But—and I should like to stress this point—no advantages are offered by the Irish Government to any other country which are not equally available to United Kingdom investors. While there are indications that the United Kingdom's share in new investment in the Republic was less than that of some other foreign countries in 1959 and in the early part of 1960, I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in this connection to look at this matter in a broader sphere. The picture over the past 21½years shows that the United Kingdom are still an important source of external capital investment in the Republic. Out of 88 new factory projects which materialised in the Republic during that 21½ years period, 25 were sponsored by Irish groups in association with foreign groups, 16 by British, 14 by 522 German, 12 by the United States and 5 by Netherlands firms. The remaining 16 new projects were shared among 6 other European countries, South Africa and Japan with one alluded to by a noble Lord.
Arising from this, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, raised the question of foreign manufacturers' obtaining duty-free entry for their goods into the United Kingdom by having them manufactured by their subsidiaries in the Republic. I think this is a point of some importance, and I should like to explain to the House the conditions under which this duty-free entry can be obtained. For imports to qualify for duty-free entry into the United Kingdom, importers must satisfy our Customs that the goods conform to the statutory requirements as to Commonwealth origin and content. These involve the addition off a substantial element of value in the Republic or elsewhere in the preference area. For almost all the goods which we import from the Republic the addition is 50 per cent. The Minister for Industry and Commerce in the Irish Republic stated in the Dail on June 2 of this year:I should like to take the opportunity of warning any industrialists who may be tempted to get around the 50 per cent, requirement that my Department will co-operate in dealing with them … certainly we shall have no hesitation in asking the Revenue Commissioners to make a full disclosure to the Revenue Officers of Britain of any of these activities.He then made reference to the degree of trust and confidence obtaining between officers on both sides to ensurethat Ireland will not be used as a back door for the entry of certain types of goods to the British market.Moreover, we have agreed in our latest trade agreement to consult together to find equitable solutions for any cases of special difficulty that may arise in our trade.
Before I leave the economic side of the debate I should like to say a word or two about the tripartite trade talks mentioned by my noble friend Lord Rathcavan, and also by the noble Lord opposite. I can only endorse what my noble friend Lord Rathcavan had to say on this subject. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom. Her trade interests are covered by United Kingdom trade interests and by 523 the existing machinery of consultation, to which I have already alluded. To show how well covered Northern Ireland interests are, Northern Irish officials take part in these consultations and in the drawing up of the Trade Agreements. That, I think, shows that there is really no room for tripartite trade talks. Northern Ireland's interests are fully covered by the existing talks that do take place and will take place in the future.
To turn to the cultural side, as noble Lords in all parts of the House have said, the cultural contacts between the two countries are many and wide. As has been said, British theatrical companies visit Dublin regularly. This year the Old Vic took part in the Dublin Festival, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, said, they presented the plays they are to take to Russia next year. Thus we may say that it gives a new twist to the old saying, for what is news in Dublin to-day will be news in Moscow to-morrow. I am only sorry that they did not mingle together with the approval of the noble Lord. The Sadler's Wells and the Royal Ballet go to Dublin, as do the Hallé Orchestra and the B.B.C. Orchestra. I am sure that the more these splendid cultural organisations can cross the Irish sea, the better it will be. Reference was made to the musical festivals at Wexford and at Cork. Here again there are invariably British performers at these festivals, as there are when musical festivals take place in Dublin. They do not take place there every year, but they do from time to time.
As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, there are many students from the United Kingdom in Ireland and from other parts of the Commonwealth. I understand that about one-third of the students at Trinity College, Dublin, come from the United Kingdom. In this connection, it is perhaps of interest to note that Trinity College still retains its statutory right to a copy of every work published in the United Kingdom. Whether or not the College has seen, or will see, fit to exert this right in so far as to acquire a copy of the volume which is to be discussed in this House at the close of this debate is a matter upon which I can only speculate. I might 524 add that, in return for the right to which I have referred, five British libraries retain statutory rights to a copy of every work published in the Irish Republic.
I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, made reference to the forthcoming exhibition of the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels, which are to be shown side by side. I join with him and other noble Lords in hoping that this country will support this exhibition, as the money from it will go towards Trinity College; and as we in the United Kingdom have a large interest in the welfare of Trinity College, I hope that we shall see fit to support the exhibition in the strongest possible way.
While Her Majesty's Government are in no way responsible for the recent agreement for the Lane pictures (it was entirely a matter for the Trustees of the National Gallery and the Commissioners of Public Works in Dublin) Her Majesty's Government naturally most warmly welcome the agreement that has at last been found to this very thorny problem. The noble Lord, Lord Killanin, made reference Ito the benefits we in this country have had in the past from Irish plays and Irish actors and actresses. I would warmly endorse the words of the noble Lord, who said that this benefit was still continuing. The English stage is fortunate to have an injection of Irish culture and Irish acting ability; and indeed, the performance of Siohban McKenna in The Playboy of the Western World, which is still running, is a fine current example.
One word, if I might, on the professions. Because of its former position as part of the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic retains for its professional people many advantages in the United Kingdom. Medical, dental, veterinary and other degrees given in the Republic receive virtually the same recognition as those of the United Kingdom, and membership of many United Kingdom professional bodies is open to Irish citizens. Reciprocal arrangements apply in the Irish Republic, where doctors and dentists with United Kingdom qualifications are permitted to practice without formalities.
The noble Lord, Lord Killanin, made some allusion to the Arts Council. I 525 think it true to say that the Arts Council does operate in certain ways which benefit the relations between the two countries. For example, it has given help and advice to its counterpart in the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Arts Council. In 1948, it arranged for the showing in London of the Jack B. Yeats Exhibition, and only last year under similar arrangements London was able to see and benefit from the Evie Hone Memorial Exhibition of Stained Glass. Some reference was made to the British Council. The British Council has an adviser in Dublin. His main duties are to look after the interests of, and to help and assist, Commonwealth students who are resident there As this debate has shown, the normal exchanges of all kinds between the United Kingdom and the Republic are very considerable. I feel that noble Lords will agree with me when I say that the Council's resources, which naturally have to be limited, should be deployed in countries with special needs and where this cultural exchange does not normally operate.
I have talked for long enough and, with all your Lordships here, it is my earnest hope that the result of this debate will be an added impetus towards establishing a lastingly happy relationship between the two countries. The past history of the two countries and the happy, close but, perhaps, unusual relationship which exists might surprise those who have read only their history books. I do not want to end on a discordant note, but the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, made an inaccurate statement. I believe that he aid, alluding to the Republic, "It is just another foreign country—as foreign as any on the Continent of Europe." That is not the case. The Ireland Act, 1949, lays down that:…notwithstanding that the Republic of Ireland is not part of His Majesty's dominions the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom…
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, may I suggest to the noble Duke that it is also not a foreign country in feeling or, indeed in any other respect?
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I would readily endorse what the noble Lord has said. To my mind, how- 526 ever, this unique relationship can be viewed with great satisfaction. And the fact that I, as a member of the Commonwealth Relations Office, am replying to the debate, rather than a representative of the Foreign Office, shows how very Irish the relationship is. My Lords, what could be happier or more suitable than that?
§ 5.36 p.m.
My Lords, the time is getting on, and you have another debate before you. But before asking your Lordships' leave to withdraw this Motion I should like to thank all noble Lords who have been kind enough to come and take part in the debate. If I might keep your Lordships for, at the outside, three or four minutes, to mention one or two things that have been said, I should be grateful for the indulgence.
At the beginning of the debate, I was a little worried, as I think several of your Lordships may have been, that the first two speakers confined themselves almost entirely to reaffirming the position of Northern Ireland—a position of which I am well aware, and which I did not intend to query in any way. Nor would I wish to do so. I think the position is quite clear where the Government of Northern Ireland is concerned. I am aware that economic matters cannot be separated in any way. I think the quotation I made from Mr. Lemass's speech, in which he said that the Government of the Republic have no wish to enter into any arrangements with the British Government which were to the detriment of Northern Ireland, should clear up that point. He made that statement quite clearly and unequivocally.
The noble Lord, Lord Killanin, who I am sure your Lordships' will agree we should like to hear more often (he has taken eleven years to address us, and I hope that it will not be another eleven years before he does so again), put up a virtuoso performance which I enjoyed very much indeed. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was a little depressing at first. He seemed to deplore the debate at all. He thought it was better to leave tricky problems alone. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, later said—and I agree with him—that thorny problems are not solved by being kept in a drawer. It is the ostrich system, and personally I do 527 not believe in it. I believe that if problems can be pulled out into the open, and discussed in a reasonable way by reasonable people they will be solved. That was the basis of our Motion, and we kept it, so far as we could, on the economic and cultural level which in time we hope may come to solve all differences.
The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, made a most agreeable speech, for which I was most grateful. He said a lot of nice things. He talked about the charm of the Irish, and if I might keep your Lordships for one moment I should like to tell you this. When I first went to Ireland, the house I was going to move into was full of workmen. Weeks and months went past, and I could not get rid of them; and eventually we had to move in, too, which I believe is the classic remedy. It had no effect. We all settled down in a happy family, and the frequency of cups of tea became absolutely extraordinary. After a week I had to go to London, and on returning I sent for the foreman and addressed him in a peremptory and military way, and said, "How did you get on while I was away?" He said, "Ah, we missed you". My Lords, what can you do with people like that?
The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said that I had almost written his speech for him. I am quite incapable of doing such a thing. The noble Lord addressed us with great brilliance and eloquence, and he brought up "the 64,000-dollar question". It is too late in the evening to pursue it. He put it, I thought, clearly and sincerely. I think we can leave it on the record for your Lordships to read again to-morrow. I think the feeling in some people's minds that closer economic ties between the Government of this country and that of the Republic will loosen the ties with the North, is quite wrong. Rather is it the other way round: it will strengthen them rather than loosen them, and that has been one of my objects to-day. Lord Ogmore, in his speech, confined himself mainly to the importance of being a Celt. I am sure that it is important. He is one himself, and there is no doubt that the Irish culture is a culture of which they are very proud.
The noble Duke gave us a very comprehensive and reassuring reply, for 528 which I am most grateful. He spoke about certain machinery which was recently set up for the review and discussion, at the request of the Government at any time, of any economic matters that may perhaps (though I am not sure that it will) make the ad hoc committee of experts I advocated unnecessary. I say I am not sure that it will, because there is a difference between having experts from outside, as opposed to civil servants who are concerned in the matter all the time and may perhaps at some stage fail to see the wood for the trees. Nevertheless he made a reassuring reply and I am grateful for it. When I put this Motion down several people came to me and said, "What is behind this Motion of yours?" My Lords, there is nothing behind it, but I very much hope that there may be something before it I ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.