HL Deb 11 December 1969 vol 306 cc727-86

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Shackleton.)


My Lords, before that Question is put, would the Leader of the House be kind enough to tell us what his proposals are about business? I am extremely anxious that there should be an interval between the Committee stage and the Report stage, and I am sure it would facilitate business and it will certainly make me much easier in mind if I know that that interval is to exist.


My Lords, the noble Lord's ease of mind is of im- portance to me on a matter of such importance as this particular Bill, and it is the intention of the Government, if that be the wish of the House, that we take only the Committee stage. I was going to say this, but the noble Lord anticipated me. We should hope to finish it on Monday. I think it is right that the further stages should be separate, and we hope the House will then co-operate in ensuring that we get Report and Third Reading.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Establishment and status of Ulster Defence Regiment]:

LORD BROCKWAYmoved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 6, leave out ("Ulster Defence Regiment") and insert ("Northern Ireland Territorial Force")

The noble Lord said: May I again express my regret that we are entering the Committee stage of this very important Bill at so late an hour? I want to make it quite clear that I am not complaining of the arrangements for to-day, because I appreciate the long discussion which has taken place on the Animals Bill. Nevertheless, it is a little regrettable that we are at this late hour engaged on a discussion of this very important Bill.

There are four Amendments regarding the title of the Regiment. I want to make it clear in moving this Amendment on behalf of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and myself, that we are in no way tied to the terms of the title we are suggesting. All these four Amendments have one thing in common: they seek to delete the name "Ulster" from the Regiment which is to be authorised. I hope it will be for the convenience of the House if all four Amendments are discussed together. As I understand it, at the end of that discussion there is likely to be a Division on the Amendment which the noble Earl and I are moving, but I want to make it very clear indeed that if there is a Division on that Amendment our concern will be the principle of the inclusion of the word "Ulster" in the name. We would be ready to accept any of the suggestions made in the other Amendments for a different name; indeed, we would be prepared to accept another suggestion to which I will refer before I conclude, which has very authoritative support in this House. Therefore, when a Division does take place on the Amendment which I am now moving, it will be on the broad principle of deleting the word "Ulster", and, after the discussion, when we have heard other suggestions, we should be able, on the Report stage of the Bill on Monday, to propose an Amendment which would be most appropriate and most acceptable to this House.

I always think it far the best to be honest and frank with this House, and therefore I want to say, even though other Members may differ with me, that I am opposed to this Bill altogether. I am opposed to it on the grounds which I expressed on Second Reading. I do not think there is a threat from Southern Ireland; I think the threat from the I.R.A. is very much exaggerated, and I consider the Bill itself is a provocation which will prejudice the desire for harmony. Having said that, and recognising that the Bill is likely to become law in one form or another, I want to emphasise very strongly that those who are associated with this Amendment wish to contribute, in the critical, perhaps even dangerous, situation in Northern Ireland, proposals which will make for the harmony of the races there.

I first want to say that we have deeply considered the appeal which was made by my noble friend Lord Shackleton, and also from the noble Lord, Lord Byers, whose absence I regret, that we should refrain from pressing this issue because it might encourage in Northern Ireland Catholic abstention from this new force. None of us who is concerned about harmony in Northern Ireland can have rejected that appeal without careful thought, but we have come to the conclusion that the danger of the title in its present form, including "Ulster", as a deterrent to the minority response in Northern Ireland, is greater than the deterrence which may occur because we have debated this matter. After all, this debate follows controversy in Northern Ireland itself; it follows a night long debate in another place, and I think it is pressing things a little far to suggest that because we have a debate here on this matter it is likely to be a contributory factor in dissuading the Catholic minority from joining this force. On the other hand, we take very strongly the view that the inclusion of the term "Ulster" would deter them from joining the force.

I listened with great attention to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, who has recently been to Northern Ireland and investigated these issues. He did not say it, but another noble Lord said that he had taken a different view before he went to Northern Ireland; and I am impressed by that fact. The noble Lord will excuse me if I pay more attention, even than to the noble Lord, Lord Byers, to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who was the head of the Committee which investigated this problem and prepared the very remarkable Report that has been the basis for so much which has contributed to conciliation.

I would draw attention to the words which Lord Hunt used in this House on the Second Reading; they appear in column 332 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of last Monday: Ulster, as we know, is a fact, a historic fact, but a fact which has strong Party political and partisan connotations, whereas Northern Ireland is simply a geographical fact of life. I am sorry that that name has not been attached to the force. I realise, of course, the difficulties with which the Government have to deal in this matter, and I am not going to press it. But I cannot help wishing that my Committee, who felt that this subject was outside their terms of reference, had not strayed outside those terms to suggest a name for this force."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8/12/69, col. 332.] In view of the authority of the contribution which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has made, none of us can be indifferent to that expression of opinion. I would add that I had the opportunity this morning to speak to Lord Hunt, and he has authorised me to make a statement which I shall do before I conclude my speech, and I hope that it may have a considerable influence on this House in relation to the decision which it reaches.

I felt that the weakest possible argument made from the Front Bench during the Second Reading by my noble friend, Lord Winterbottom, was that the term "Ulster" should still be included in the title of this force because of precedent; because, in the past, it had been attached to certain regiments in Northern Ireland. Surely the one thing that we have learnt in recent months on the issue of Northern Ireland is that we must not be tied to precedent and that we must not be tied to the past. If there is one happy or hopeful feature in the situation —and I have paid my tribute to the Home Secretary; I have paid my tribute to the attitude of the British troops there —it is that the past is ended, the past is forgotten, and we are building something new. To argue in favour of the retention of the term "Ulster" on the ground that it has been included in the name of certain incidental regiments in Northern Ireland in the past seems the most ineffective argument that could be made to persuade your Lordships.

There is no doubt at all that the name "Ulster" evokes emotive resistance from a large section of the population whom we wish to bring into harmony. In Northern Ireland the term "Ulster" has for many years been associated with the Orange organisations. It is included in the name of organisations which now represent the great danger from the majority side, as there are dangers from the minority side, that community relations will not get better. It is in the name of the Ulster Defence Committee; it is in the name of the Ulster Constitutional Defence Committee; it is in the name of the Ulster Protestant Volunteer Force; it is in the name of the Ulster Special Constabulary. The first three of those organisations, in which the name "Ulster" is emphasised, exclude any Catholic from being a member. In those circumstances, can it be surprising that the minority Catholic community in Northern Ireland have this emotive response to the term "Ulster"?

I want to put another argument very seriously to my Front Bench. This is the first occasion in all history that the term "Ulster" has been used in a constitutional instrument adopted by the Houses of Parliament. Always before, the term "Northern Ireland" has been used. It is quite true, as I have previously said, that the names of certain regiments which are not determined by the decisions of the Houses of Parliament have had the term "Ulster" associated with them; but it is this moment, when the desire of all of us must be to create a condition of harmony between the communities in Northern Ireland, that for the first time in the whole of history the term "Ulster" is included in an Act of Parliament. The effect must be prejudicial to the harmony of its people.

The next point I want to put is this. The term is inaccurate—hopelessly inaccurate. Ulster is composed of nine counties. Only six of those counties are within Northern Ireland under the control of the Stormont Government. Three of them—Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal—are in the Irish Republic. Yet it is suggested that, for this legislation, we should use the term "Ulster" rather than the term "Northern Ireland". To suggest that we should use that term in a constitutional instrument for the first time is an affront to the Republic of Ireland and, still more, to the population of the three counties which are not within Northern Ireland. In fact, it is ironic that we are now asked to accept the term "Ulster" in the name of this Regiment when the majority of the population of Ulster, including those three counties, are Catholics. In Northern Ireland the Catholics represent what we recognise is a minority, but in Ulster itself they are actually a majority.

I do not want to be provocative on this occasion. I regard this issue as so important that I want to make a persuasive appeal to the Government Front Bench. They have said that the title of this force is unimportant. That has been said by Ministers in another place and in this place. I say to them, if it is unimportant, why retain it at the cost of the danger of losing the co-operation of the Catholic minority? Our stated object is to build a multi-community force. Very quietly but sincerely, I ask this question: is this not the crucial decision which we have to make tonight? Will more or fewer Catholics join this Regiment if the name is changed? If more will join by a change of name and so help to secure harmony in Northern Ireland, surely we should make the change.

My Lords, I want finally to say this. I have repeated what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said in this House, and he has asked me to express his regrets that he is not able to be here tonight to take part in this debate. But he has authorised me to say that he supports a change in the name of this Regiment. The proposal which he endorses is that it should become the Northern Ireland Defence Regiment. I say on behalf of my noble friend Lord Longford, who is associated with me in this Amendment—and, I think, probably on behalf of those others who are proposing a change in the name —that we should accept that proposal.

The vote will be on the Amendment which I am proposing. It will be a vote on the principle of some change and the deletion of the term "Ulster". We will listen carefully to the other proposals. It may be that all of us will accept the suggestion which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has authorised me to make to the Committee tonight. If our Amendment is accepted to-day then, when we reach the Report stage, we shall be very well prepared either to accept whatever change is most supported in your Lordships' House or the change which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has suggested. I beg to move.

7.13 p.m.


I think that the noble Lord rather over-played this question of a name. It was Shakespeare who said, "Call a rose by any other name …". The noble Lord appeared to think that any title containing "Ulster" would be complete anathema to Catholics; but I put the example of the Ulster Unionist Party; there are many Catholic members of the Ulster Unionist Party. I should also like to point out to the noble Lord that names do not have to apply strictly to geographical boundaries. For instance, in the Highland Brigade in Scotland, you have a regiment (I think it has been amalgamated now; but I am talking of a few years ago) like the H.L.I., which is recruited entirely from Glasgow and has nothing to do with the Highlands. Take the Black Watch, recruited chiefly from Dundee. You cannot call that the Highlands. I think that the noble Lord has rather exaggerated the importance of the name. I cannot imagine that Catholics would be prevented from joining a regiment just because its title included the word "Ulster".


I rise to make a few remarks because, in the light of what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has just said, I do not propose to move the next Amendment, which stands in my name. I am well content with the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that the force should be called the Northern Ireland Defence Regiment, which I think is admirable. I put mine merely as an alternative suggestion which might be more acceptable to your Lordships; but I think on the whole that Northern Ireland Defence Regiment is the best that can be devised. My main concern, as it is the concern of Lord Brockway and of others of us who feel very uneasy about this situation, is to delete the word "Ulster". That is the point. I want to say, in a few words, what has already been said much better by Lord Brockway and to express my deep apprehension—and it really is deep apprehension—that the name "Ulster" will frighten the Catholics away. It is as simple as that.

As Lord Brockway has said, the Province of Ulster is not the same thing as Northern Ireland. The name gives rise to frightening memories of a past which, as I have already said, is best forgotten and which it is part of the objective of this Bill—I should have thought the main part—to achieve—forgetfulness of a tragic past which has lasted nearly 300 years. If the new Defence Regiment is simply to be a reactivation of the B Specials it will be, as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has said, a farce. That is what I am genuinely frightened of.

I do not think that your Lordships can ignore the very statesmanlike speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, on the Second Reading of this Bill. After all, his associations with Ulster are much closer than those of most of us. He went a long way; he went so far as to say that if the Title of the Bill was a stumbling block to Catholics joining the new Regiment, then the Title should be swept away and a new one put in its place. I thought that a remarkable statement coming from that source. Equally, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, could not possibly be ignored. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has quoted him; and his Report has given rise to this Bill.

I feel so apprehensive about the possible consequences of the Bill, so apprehensive that the name "Ulster" will drive away Catholics and that they will not join the new force—which is perhaps the primary objective of this Bill—that it will lead to the re-creation of the B Specials under a slightly different name, that I feel inclined to press the Government very hard on this matter. I would make an appeal to the noble Lord the Leader of the House to reconsider the question (I should regret it if we had to go to a Division to-night) over the weekend and perhaps come forward with a new proposal on Monday.

I do not think that he can go against speeches of the kind that we have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Rathcavan and Lord Hunt, and from Lord Brock-way to-night. I think the feeling is strong, I think it is very sincere, and I beg the noble Lord to give serious consideration to it.


May I add my voice to that appeal by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby? I wish that I had made the speech that Lord Brockway made to-night. I also want to put to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard—and I apply this to the Front Bench as well—the question whether the new Regiment will include recruits from the three counties that do not belong to Northern Ireland but which are in fact included in the term "Ulster".


I should like to add my voice to that of Lord Boothby and to ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House to consider very carefully whether it would not be wise to use the time between now and the Report stage to consider the feeling in the House and not to force this issue to a Division. If it is forced to a Divison, then, whatever the result, the fact that there is a cleavage will be reported in the Northern Irish Press to-morrow morning; and though there the gap may be closing this may force it apart.

I should not have intervened in this debate after the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Brockway and Lord Boothby, except for this reason. My position is quite different from that of Lord Brockway. I am impressed with the Hunt Report. I am convinced, as I said during the Second Reading debate, that Lord Hunt's basic principle that a military solution has to be found is absolutely right. If a military solution has to be found, surely you must try, above all, to make that solution work. My occasional visits to Ireland have generally been to The Curragh and not to Northern Ireland, though I once served there for a brief period. I listened with some interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, during the Second Reading debate and I found it impressive, until I recollected that a Liberal going to Northern Ireland over the week-end in search of the facts is, perhaps, not always the least gullible of persons. So I took the precaution of checking with people of established reputation.

The truth is, for better or for worse, that there is a belief in Northern Ireland— perhaps it is this that people want to believe—that the Title is the result of a deal; that there has been a deal with the Stormont Government that they accept the implications of the Hunt Report provided that this Title is used.


That is right.


If that is so, it is about the most shortsighted deal that ever could be; because that horse will never get out of the stable. I believe entirely in the Government's intention to try to make this work—that is my difference with the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I think, with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that a military solution is necessary and that you must have something like this Bill. But those who wish it well need, as it were, to check the Government from some of the shortsightedness which is inevitable when a complicated measure of this kind, complicated not only politically but organisationally, has to be put through both Houses of Parliament against some misunderstanding and—if the Government wish— some mis-representation. In the circumstances the Government would be wise to listen to their friends. I want to see this Bill work. So does the noble Lord, Lord Boothby; so does the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, and so does the noble Lord, Lord Hunt.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is against it root and branch. We want it to work, and if it is to work we have to obtain good will. if I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is a bit of a romantic if he thinks that at any time you can wipe out the memories of hundreds of years with mere words. The memories are there, and what you have to do is as Lord Brockway himself said, to look at the problem frankly and honestly. You have to see the other chap's point of view and do your honest best to meet him. I do not, of course, agree with the arguments of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, which I thought were a little flimsy and advanced on the spur of the moment.

Of course, there is nothing in a title. Of course, a rose smells as sweet, whatever you may call it. But take, for instance, the Celtic versus Rangers football match and see what happens! Not only is the fire brigade needed to keep order; you need the Brigade of Guards. At that football match all the fundamental differences which have surged through the centuries come to the surface. As rational men, as men of good will, as men who claim to influence the affairs of the nation, we have to meet the irrational; we have to drag it out into the open and do what we can to make the best of a bad job. But that does not mean we should necessarily accept any particular title. It is for the Leader of the House to go back to the Government, to go back to the Cabinet, to go back to the Prime Minister, and to say that the feeling of this Committee is that there ought to be second thoughts.


I wish most heartily to associate myself with the objective described by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, which I accept as being an aim to get rid of the Title of the Bill. My arguments are not precisely the same as his; they are nearer to those of the noble Lord, Lord Wigg. Whatever Amendment is ultimately accepted, what I am most anxious to secure is that the words, "Ulster defence" shall be left out of the name of the Regiment. More time has been spent discussing the word "Ulster" than anything else including the word "defence", and some curious things have emerged as a result. One of them is that the Government do not care about it. During the Committee stage in another place the Under-Secretary of State for the Army, referring to an Amendment of this kind, said … the Government considered that the use of the word 'Ulster' is, frankly, unimportant "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons 1/12/69, cot. 1041.] In your Lordships' House, the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, said something slightly different. He said: … Army Units have used and continue to use the word 'Ulster' in their titles.… It has been the practice, when forming new units, to incorporate names which have been used before and, in using the word 'Ulster' on this occasion, we are simply following this practice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8/12/69; col. 311.] The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, spoke to some effect on the argument about precedent.

Another point is involved which almost everyone has missed so far. Hardly anyone in another place noticed it, or axed on it, and, so far, there has been only one Member in your Lordships' House; that was the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder. This is not a precedent at all. We are not simply following a practice, because never before has there been a Regiment, or unit, or any formation of any kind, which has confined its recruiting solely to the Six Counties of Northern Ireland. I was for some years an officer of the Royal Ulster Rifles. Nobody objected to that title. The Regiment recruited all over Ulster and far outside the Six Counties; far outside even the North. There was no restriction, any more than there is, or was, on the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or, for that matter, the Royal Irish Fusiliers. This Regiment is the first in history in which any resident in the three Republican, Northern Ireland, counties of Ulster—that is Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, is forbidden to serve at all. For that reason the word "Ulster" must be wrong, because some of the men in Ulster —three-ninths of them—are actually excluded by law from joining the Regiment; and they have every right to object to the word "Ulster" being used in the title of a Regiment which they are forbidden to join. That must be accepted as a point.

I wish to refer briefly to something which was said by the noble Lord, Lord Byers. He said that when he was in Northern Ireland—it was not for very long—he discussed the question of including the word "Ulster" in the title with a number of Catholics and … the answer I got was that this should not be a major issue; that there was enough trouble without raising the name of this regiment into a large political issue."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8/12/69; col. 329.] My Lords, I could not be more totally in agreement with that. So why in the name of sanity should we fix on a name that can be raised into a big political issue? It is almost incredible. It is interesting to note—now I come to what is really worrying me—the line taken by the Government against changing the proposed name of the Regiment. No defence has been put up at all.

I have already stated that the Government have said that they do not care about the word "Ulster". The Minister, at the end of the Third Reading debate in another place, said: I am bound to say … that when one puts these advantages"— he had meant to reel off twelve advantages but he was shouted down before he got to the end— and these achievements on the one side of the balance sheet, and on the other side one puts the criticisms one has heard in debate on the Bill—namely, that the name is wrong and that the force is too high—the overwhelming advantages for Northern Ireland come down very much in favour of the Bill." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 1/12/69; col. 1255.] Of course they do. But what an astonishing piece of balancing! You do not put the title of the Regiment on one side of the balance and everything else in the Bill on the other, and say, therefore, that, on the whole, it is a good Bill because there is nothing wrong with the title. If we put the title of the Regiment on one side of the balance, we must put an alternative title on the other and say which is the better. That was a totally irrelevant answer.

When we come to your Lordships' House, we had one of the most interest- ing speeches on this Bill. I refer to the winding-up speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. Bearing in mind the fact that the Government regard the Title of the Bill as unimportant, it is interesting and illuminating to see what the noble Lord said about it. I have a suspicion that he was, not for the first time, trapped by his own honesty. He said: This brings me to the highly contentious question of title of the Ulster Defence Regiment.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8/12/69; col. 378.] It is a "highly contentious question", but no other spokesman for the Government had bothered to pay any attention to it at all. The noble Lord went on: Powerful arguments have been put forward by nearly every noble Lord who has spoken… I must say that this is important to both sides in the argument …" It is not important to the Government. So why do we find the Government coming down heavily on one side which is important? Indeed, what are the two sides? One we know, the one represented by the national minority, who bitterly resent the title. What is the other? It is on that other side that the Government come down.

If we go on seeking for illumination, we find a strange thing. We find that the noble Lord does not extoll the merits of the Bill but the merits of the Northern Ireland Government, and does it for something like three-quarters of a column. He says: … the Northern Ireland Government have shown, I believe, a great deal of courage —although one may have criticised them in the past—in accepting a number of measures which will provide a large-scale programme of fundamental reforms in Northern Ireland." [Col. 378.] And so on—I will not read it all out; I do not think it is necessary. Perhaps your Lordships can take my word for it that it is a eulogy—a well-deserved eulogy, if I may say so without impertinence—to the Stormont Government, which ends up like this: Your Lordships know the range of advance in difficult circumstances that the Northern Ireland Government have made, under very heavy pressure and, if I may say so, in an inflammable situation—and the Government, having considered all the aspects and having considered the very arguments that noble Lords have put forward, of which I myself am only too well aware, have come to the view that in the circumstances it was right to agree that this should be called the Ulster Defence Regiment." [Col. 378.] All the circumstances that the noble Lord listed in that column are circumstances of merit on behalf of the Stormont Government, which in the noble Lord's view makes it right to agree that this force should be called the Ulster Defence Regiment.

So far as I can see—and I stand willingly to be corrected—there is only one possible inference to be drawn from that. It is that the Government of Northern Ireland do so well that the least we can do is to let them have this title. Naturally agreements are made and even deals are made. A "deal" is not necessarily disreputable, and I do not choose to use it in that sense. But in this case, what was the deal? We know, and nobody in the world knows better than the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that this is an absolutely deadly title. He knows exactly what I mean when I say that it has echoes of the voice of Carson, as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, has also said. Yet this is something which the Government of Northern Ireland apparently wants so much that we ought to let them have it. Why do they want it so badly? Who have they done a deal with? Is that a fair question? If not, I would ask another one. Do they really want this provocative title attached to a Regiment raised in their defence. Do they want it, the Government as a whole, or are they themselves under pressure from their extreme Right-Wing? There is no question but that this title is extreme Right-Wing. This title is militant, Protestant, Unionist—if you like, Orange, but I do not particularly want to bring that in.

Perhaps at this moment it might be appropriate for me to explain where I stand. I do not want to be looked at too askance by too many noble Lords. I have no home in Ireland. I have what might be called a foot on either side of the Border, perhaps not so heavily planted in the South now as once it was in the North. So far as sectarianism is concerned, if that is the word, I am a Protestant.

In the debate on Second Reading I was concerned to explain why I believe that suspicious persons (that is, persons of the Nationalist or Roman Catholic minority) had grounds for suspecting the motives of the Northern Ireland Government or even of the British Government in Westminster in putting forward this title. I am bound to say that I now no longer take that stand. I am not speaking as an advocate of those who are suspicious. I am myself one of them. I cannot believe that it is possible for any Government simply to let this title go through, without offering any defence of it whatever—and none has been offered either in this House or the other place. Knowing what damage it would do, they cannot possibly do that, unless they have some reason that we do not know. I find it impossible not to think that something very strange is going on behind the scenes, and I do not like it. That is why I am not deterred from putting down an Amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, appealed to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway—he admitted that this was a dangerous argument to use, and he was right—to consider whether the Amendment he was moving was making a contribution to peace in Northern Ireland. He did not mention my own idea, but naturally I take the question as addressed to me also. I see the force of it, and I am worried as to whether the idea in my Amendment may conceivably represent a danger to peace. Who is going to re-act against such an Amendment to such an extent that it will be a risk to peace? I also ask myself the corresponding question: if I remain silent and say nothing in the face of what I believe is wrong and dangerous, am I then not also and even more so endangering the prospects of peace in Northern Ireland? If I took the noble Lord's advice and was silent, the danger would be far greater than any danger that could be brought about by moving this Amendment.

May I make one more short quotation from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, to emphasise what I have already said. He said: I think the noble Earl put his finger on a crucial point"— It is crucial, yet the Government are saying that they do not care— and this is the only one that gave me doubts. It is the association of the word 'defence'. I want to urge that, although this is an important point, we can make too much of it … The Government have made nothing at all of it yet. Yet the noble Lord himself says that it is crucial. It is time, surely, for the Government to come out into the open and either accept an Amendment, whatever it might ultimately be, to delete the present name "Ulster Defence Regiment" with a good grace or else say why not.

7.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to take further what the noble Earl has said about the speech made by my noble friend the Leader of the House, when he cited the passage: … and the Government … have come to the view that in the circumstances it was right to agree that this should be called the Ulster Defence Regiment …".—[Col. 378.] I want to press a little harder with this point and ask what agreement was reached by whom and with whom, and whether my noble Leader meant to say that some quite definite assurance had been given to the Stormont Government that the title of the Regiment would be the Ulster Defence Force.

The Minister in another place was questioned very forcibly, both by Miss Devlin and by Mr. Michael Foot, as to whether the Government—even if they thought it were desirable—would be in a position to accept such an Amendment, or whether an assurance had in fact already been given to Stormont that the name would not be changed. Although the Minister was pressed over and over again very hard indeed, he did not admit that any such agreement existed.

On Second Reading in this House it seemed to me that the noble Lord the Leader of the House, said that the Stormont Government had made certain concessions; that agreements had been reached, and that we in turn felt it right to agree that the new force should be called by the proposed title. I feel—and my honourable friends in another place said that if this were the case they would feel—that it would be a profoundly unsatisfactory state of affairs if the Government's hands were in effect tied and that in coming to this House, and to the other place, they were unable to accept such an Amendment because of assurances that had been given beforehand to Stormont.

I began by putting my name to this Amendment, and I decided to put down an Amendment of my own, which is the same as that of the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigg. I did so solely because I thought there might be some objections on technical grounds to the inclusion of the word "Territorial" in the title. If there is none, then I will not press my Amendment. I think the most important matter is that we should agree upon which is the best title, and we should all, if it comes to a Division, vote for whichever we think is most appropriate. I felt a certain apprehension about what my noble friend Lord Brockway said about perhaps waiting until Monday and moving it again, because we might possibly get agreement to-day whereas on Monday, if it was put to the vote again, we might not be successful.


May I just interrupt the noble Lord? The suggestion I made was that we should vote to-night. The vote will have to be on the Amendment which I proposed. I made it clear that if the vote was on that Amendment it should be on the principle of deleting "Ulster" from the title, and that we should consider on the Report stage moving a title which would be most acceptable to the House.


My only fear would be that that motion might be lost if there was a fuller House, with more people voting. In any case, I have no objection to the proposal that my noble friend has made. I am not so happy about the proposal which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has made, because it includes the word "Defence". I would personally prefer simply to vote on this Amendment and hope all those who want to get rid of "Ulster Defence" from the title will vote for it and leave it at that.

7.45 p.m.


Last time spoke I promised to take five minutes and I am afraid that I took seven. I will try to take three minutes to-day, and if I take five I hope your Lordships will forgive me, if only on the principle that I think it would be a pity if nobody spoke from the Liberal Benches to express solidarity. I made my position quite clear last time that I spoke as a Back-Bencher, and gave my own views. I find it very unusual to get up and find almost nothing that has been said with which I can disagree. I will save your Lordships' time if I concentrate on the only two propositions which I found difficult to accept and which have been put up to-night. I will do this as shortly as I can.

One was the proposition of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard —and it was a sort of a proposition, because he recalled Shakespeare's words, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet", implying that the title is not important. He knows more about Ireland than I do, but I wonder whether, if you called an orange a greengage in Northern Ireland, the answer would not be a lemon. All I want to emphasise is that I would certainly vote for any Amendment which has been put up to-night. And I think I would go further, just to ram home the point, if I may, with regard to names and logical defences of names. I have only this minute thought of two names for which I would not vote. One would be if the Regiment were to be called "Carson's Own", and the other if it were to be called "Casement's Own". I would not be convinced that Southern Irish people would be pacified, if it were to be called "Carson's Own", by the fact that Carson was a South Irishman, or that Northern Irish Protestants would be pacified, if it were called "Casement's Own", simply because Sir Roger Casement was in fact a Northern Irish Protestant. There are emotional associations here and one wants to get away from that.

The second point is that I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, and the only thing on which I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is that history has to be considered. History is a very important factor here and we have to realise—as anyone who has read Miss Devlin's interesting book knows—that Irish history is taught in two quite different ways. In Catholic schools you hear one view; in Protestant schools you hear another. People have a great many prejudices to get out of the way.

To emhpasise that, may I read a very short extract from a Liberal who was writing a long time ago—in 1821—about a siege that was almost the contemporary of the siege of Londonderry, the siege of Limerick, which most people in English history do not know about. I think it is a pity that we do not know about this, but I will quote a few lines from an article in the Edinburgh Review, which was published a very long time ago, but is, I think, relevant to-day. The writer mentions the William of Orange War and says that this was terminated by the surrender of Limerick: upon conditions by which the Catholics hoped, and very rationally hoped, to secure to themselves the free enjoyment of their religion in future, and an exemption from all those civil penalties and incapacities which the ruling creed is so fond of heaping upon its subjugated rivals"— He goes on to enumerate the various articles. I will not read them, but they were giving complete liberty. This is how he concludes: These, and other articles, King William ratifies for himself, his heirs and successors, as far as in him lies; and confirms the same, and every other clause and matter therein contained. These articles were signed by the English general … and diffused comfort, confidence and tranquility among … the Catholics. On 22nd October, the English Parliament excluded Catholics from the Irish Houses of Lords and Commons by compelling them to take the oaths of supremacy before admission. In 1695, the Catholics were deprived of all means of educating their children. at home or abroad, and of the privilege of being guardians to their own or to other persons' children. Then all tae Catholics were disarmed,—and then all priests banished. After this (probably by way of joke). an Act was passed to confirm the Treaty of Limerick. If that is an account given by an English clergyman who was anti-Catholic, one can imagine how that would be taught in Irish schools. I am not for a moment supposing that that is necessarily correct history, although I think it is an objective account. We have these prejudices and the more we can forget them, the better. The one way to rub them in is to insist on names which quite lately, in our lifetime, not in William of Orange's time, are associated with fire, slaughter and injustice.


It is certainly not for me in these latter days to give even the mildest hint as to how long this debate should suitably continue, but I feel that we have now drawn near a point where we shall be anxious to hear from the noble Lord the Leader of the House. The arguments have been deployed with extraordinary effect by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in the first place, and other speakers. There cannot be anybody here who by now has not made up his mind. I do not imply that we are not likely to hear new arguments. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is extremely ingenious in argument, and a very good set of arguments it is that he has already put forward. He has made what must at any rate have been the main part of his case in the earlier debate.

I am not going to speak for more than a minute or two now. We all agree that we want this to be a balanced force; we all attach tremendous importance to that. We all agree that it is going to be extraordinarily difficult, whatever name this body is given. I do not remember in my time—I do not know whether the noble Lord the Leader has a clearer recollection—such an overwhelming mobilisation of well-informed opinion against a particular proposal as we have to-day. There is this overwhelming conviction that this difficult task of getting a balanced force is going to be made virtually impossible if we go ahead with the name "Ulster". So I hope that fairly soon, after the Leader has spoken, it will be possible to divide and test opinion.

7.53 p.m.


I am grateful to my noble friend, who has not forgotten his part as a former Leader of the House in trying to help the House to come to a decision. The reason why I did not rise earlier was that there were a number of names down to Amendments and I felt it was only fair that every noble Lord should speak first. They will, of course—but I hope they will not take advantage of it—have the right to speak after I have spoken.

I should first like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, that I am sorry it is late, but really it is not as late as all that; and I should have thought he was one of the last people to complain of the lateness of the hour, since he is quite good on occasions at keeping us here. Of course it is difficult ever to foretell just how long debates are going to take; but I think this debate might have taken place two or three hours earlier and there still would not have been as many Members in your Lordships' House as there are now.

I have listened with great care to everything that has been said. I am bound (to say that some of the noble Lords who spoke struck me as being not very familiar with Northern Ireland or Ulster. Even the terms and the pronunciations suggested a certain unfamiliarity. I really cannot accept the argument in general terms that the world "Ulster" is not appropriate and in general use in Northern Ireland. Noble Lords are not entirely correct. I know that my noble friend Lord Rathcavan lives on what he chooses to call the right side of the Border—


My name is Kilbracken.


There was a strange alliance across the Border on this occasion, but—


We can all get our facts wrong.


The noble Lord says, as he made clear last time, "on the wrong side of the Border".


The right side.


Well, I do not know which the noble Lord wants. He tries to correct it each time. I tried to find out what he meant. He was not able to explain it.


I immediately said, "on the Republican side".


At any rate —does the noble Lord wish to go on interrupting me?


No. I have finished.


I am only trying to say that while I fully acknowledge that the noble Lord certainly knows both sides of the Border, I simply do not accept, as somebody who also knows both North and South Ireland, that the word "Ulster" is not in general use in relation to Northern Ireland. This is not, I may say in making this point, to dispose of some of the other very valid arguments that have been made, with which I will try to deal. I must address myself now to some of those arguments. First of all, my noble friend Lord Brockway said that the I.R.A. are no threat. It may well be that in recent months there has not been the type of I.R.A. activity which has occurred at intervals over a number of years; but I do not believe that anyone responsible for security in Northern Ireland, or if I may say so, in the Republic, can ignore the possibility of a threat from the I.R.A.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said that one of the weakest arguments my noble friend Lord Winterbottom used was the argument of precedent. The case for calling this unit, this body, the Ulster Defence Regiment, does not rest simply on precedent. What my noble friend sought to prove was that there were plenty of precedents to suggest that it would be appropriate to name this new force as in fact the Government propose that it should be named. I cannot understand why it should be proper to use the term "Ulster Rifles", or "Ulster" for any of the other units which I mentioned on the last occasion, but not apply "Ulster" to this particular unit, on what seems to me the peculiarly illogical argument that everybody who belongs to it happens to live in Northern Ireland. I cannot see that that is an effective argument.


Will the noble Lord forgive me interrupting for one moment? It is because we want the Catholics to join it, and we are afraid that they will be put off by the word "Ulster"—as they will.


If noble Lords will allow me, I will try to deal with this matter point by point.


I want to follow the noble Lord as closely as I can. He says he cannot see the logic; that if one accepts the title "Royal Ulster Rifles" one should now accept the title "Ulster Defence Regiment". For heaven's sake!, you are not recruiting for the Royal Ulster Rifles. They were established a long time ago. At that time the Royal Ulster Rifles had a pull. But the point is this: if the noble Lord were now establishing a new infantry regiment of the same kind, and recruiting in Northern Ireland, unless he was mad he would not call them the Royal Ulster Rifles.


What I have been addressing myself to is the fact that some new units have been formed in which the word "Ulster" has appeared. and no objection has been raised. The particular point I was on in terms of logic is the argument that it is logical to use the word "Ulster" provided they recruit from everywhere—not only in Northern Ireland and Ulster but in other areas—but that it is illogical to do so if they are all in fact inhabitants of Northern Ireland. I am dealing only with arguments; I am not dealing with the central point at this moment. But those arguments have been advanced, and I think it right I should deal with them.

Both the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, and my noble friend Lord Kilbracken—I apologise for getting muddled on the last occasion—chose, I think, to read a great deal more into what I said on the Second Reading. Let me repeat again that it is really showing signs of paranoic suspicion to believe that there is some kind of mysterious deal. I should like to make very clear that the British Government discuss the problems of Northern Ireland with the Government in Stormont. Obviously there are consultations on the name of the force and other points which relate to it. We took account of their views in the same way that we took account of other views, but it was Her Majesty's Government in Westminster who made up their minds on this matter, and the decision in regard to this title is in fact the decision of the Government in London.

I am naturally concerned at the argument that this title will have a divisive effect. I am concerned that it should be suggested that as a result of it very few Roman Catholics will join. It is worth pointing out that the Royal Ulster Constabulary has 10 per cent. of Catholics, and I believe the fact that there are not more Catholics in the Royal Ulster Constabulary is not because of its name. Therefore, while I believe this to be of importance, I think its importance can be exaggerated out of all proportion. I have listened with great care to everything that has been said. I have not sought to answer every single argument, and I am grateful for the fact that your Lordships have chosen to focus the different Amendments on the one subject of Northern Ireland or Ulster—apart from the use of the word "defence". On the latter subject, although the word "defence" is sometimes used in a rather euphemistic sense, it was deliberately chosen to distinguish this from other units which might well go outside their particular country, and it was for that reason that "defence" was considered so particularly appropriate. But on the subject as to whether we should now adopt a name such as that suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has said he would be content with, I can only say that I am certainly prepared to consider, with my right honourable friend, the very strong opinions expressed in this House. But it would not be fair for me to offer any sort of undertaking, and I think it would be quite wrong if I did not allow the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, to test the opinions of your Lordships in this matter.

I am bound to say that I am still unconvinced that it will serve a valuable purpose to change the name. Indeed, I am nervous of the consequences in other areas. There are the most delicate judgments to be made in Northern Ireland. I think it was either the noble Earl or some other noble Lord who pointed to the fact that there are two sets of opinions, and it has been pointed out that there is a majority in Northern Ireland who prefer the word "Ulster". Therefore, whatever we do, we shall be in some difficulty, and it is a question of measuring what is in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland. So, while I cannot give any undertaking, and I think it is right that we should now settle this matter by dividing, I am grateful to noble Lords for the way in which they have deployed their case.


Before the noble Lord sits down, may I just say how much I appreciate the spirit in which he has spoken. But in view of his inability to

give an undertaking we must press this Amendment to a Division tonight.


May I express my personal regret that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is determined to divide on this, because I had hoped that he would accept the assurance given by the noble Lord the Leader of the House that he and the Government would consider this matter further. This is obviously a difficult matter, and I think it would be wrong if nothing were to be said from this Bench. If there were a generally agreed alternative title for this Regiment I should be happy to support it. At the same time, in a case where there is apparent agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Government of Northern Ireland which, to put it mildly, do not spring exactly from the same political philosophies, I doubt whether it is wise to intervene and seek to upset that agreement.

I have some experience of Northern Ireland, and I hope noble Lords will accept that I appreciate all that has been said by the supporters of these Amendments. I cannot go so far as to agree with those who say that the term "Ulster" is one which all Catholics avoid using, and I think it would be fair to say—to quote one of the bodies instanced in another place —that such a body as the Ulster Federation of Homing Pigeon Societies probably includes Catholics as well as Protestants among its members. So do not let any of us press our arguments too far. As I have said, if there were an alternative agreed title I should be happy to support it, but at this stage there is not and, therefore, if it comes to a Division I shall feel it my duty to support the Government.


Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 30.

Barrington, V. Ferrier, L. Lindgren, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gowrie, E. Longford, E.
Boothby, L. Greenway, L. Merthyr, L.
Borckway, L. [Teller.] Hawke, L. Moyne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Headfort, M. Nunburnholme, L.
Clwyd, L. Kilbracken, L. O'Hagan, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. [Teller.] Killearn, L. Raglan, L.
Ritchie-Calder, L. Strang, L. Wigg, L.
St. Davids, V. Strange of Knokin, Bs. Winchester, L. Bp.
Stocks, Bs. Swansea, L.
Belstead, L. Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. McLeavy, L.
Bessborough, E. Delacourt-Smith, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Beswick, L. Denham, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Bowles, L. Falkland, V. Monson, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]
Burden, L. Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Serota, Bs.
Chalfont, L. Garnsworthy, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Collison, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] Shepherd, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hughes, L. Strabolgi, L.
Conesford, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Winterbottom, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

8.15 p.m.


Page 1, line 10, at end insert— ("Provided that, in the establishment and maintenance of the Regiment efforts shall be made, under conditions to be prescribed, to ensure that not less than one quarter of the men accepted for service are of the Roman Catholic faith.")

The noble Viscount said: In putting down this Amendment I have done so entirely as a private individual. As I have strong connections with the Unionist Party in the North of Ireland, may I repeat that: this Amendment is entirely a private effort. We have heard, in this House and in another place, great doubts expressed whether this Regiment will serve any useful purpose, because the Catholic minority fear, so we are told, that this force will be Protestant-dominated and that it will therefore oppress them. The noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, who has chosen to pitch this Republican flag rather close, I should have thought, to the Protestant Bishops, appears to look upon this regiment, the Ulster Defence Regiment, as a form of Orangemen's plot, as he said in his Second Reading speech, "to harry and terrorise" the Catholic minority. I must say that I think that is very extravagant language.

My family have had a very long political connection with Ireland, extending over hundreds of years. We have held all sorts of political offices in that country for the British Crown, for the Protestant Crown, ever since the days of Queen Elizabeth. I am the proud possessor or, rather, my father was (now the Bank of Ireland has it) of the Mace of Ireland and the Speaker's Chair (which got burnt in the Rebellion) but I still have all the Parliamentary Linen. This is because on the Ferrard side of my family John Foster was the last Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and was well enough thought of when he had to give up his post, owing to the Act of Union in 1800, to be allowed to take the Mace and the Chair and the Parliamentary Linen. The Mace, as I have said, is now in the Bank of Ireland, and the Chair got burnt in the Rebellion.

I am really tired of hearing, and a great number of my Unionist friends are tired of hearing, what I can only call wild statements as to the oppression of the Catholics in the North of Ireland. Some of these statements are greatly exaggerated. This Amendment, coming as it does from me, may surprise some Unionists in the North of Ireland; but it will not surprise what I call the educated Unionists. These are the Unionists who really love the North of Ireland, and who have the interests of that country at heart.

As I said when talking about the North of Ireland in the Second Reading debate, any oppression that may exist does not come because the people in the Province in the North object to Catholics: they are quite at home with the Catholics as in England or Scotland. As I pointed out at the time, it comes from a perfectly legitimate fear—though I do not agree with it—of their more populous and powerful neighbour in the South. Their fear is a territorial fear; it is intrinsically a fear that, if the North of Ireland went into the South, gradually, over a period of time, they would lose their jobs and be driven out of the North of Ireland. This fear is held by a great number of less well educated people in the North of Ireland, and we have to accept that fact. But we can only hope that time will cure it.

I cannot say that in the last two or three months the Nationalist Movement and the Civil Rights Association have helped to pour oil on troubled water, nor do I think the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, really has attempted to pour oil on troubled water. When he spoke of being happy to be on the "right side of the Border" I was wondering whether he was approaching the Border from the West or from the East. Of course I now realise what he really meant. I do not want to hit the noble Lord below the belt, but perhaps the reason the noble Lord is happy on what he calls "the right side of the Border"—in other words, the Republic of Ireland— is because it is cheaper to live there; wages are lower; you can get drink cheaper, and there are various other advantages.


Should I be in order in asking the noble Viscount whether this relates to the Amendment in any way at all?


It leads up to it. There are a great many people who live in the North of Ireland because they get higher wages and various other social benefits. Where I think a great many people go wrong is in thinking that every Catholic in the North of Ireland wants to go to the South. But there are plenty of Catholics in the North of Ireland—I know several —who are extremely loyal to the British connection, and are perfectly happy to remain as part of the United Kingdom. Personally, I should he very sad to see the North of Ireland lose the British connection. We have been assured, of course, that that can never happen so long as a majority in the North of Ireland desire to keep the British connection. Provided we have that assurance, we cannot ask for more.

I have put this Amendment down because, in my opinion, if this Regiment is to be accepted, it must include quite a high proportion of Catholics. I am slightly frightended that if Catholics do not have great encouragement to join the Regiment they may not join in sufficient numbers to make it quite impartial. I am not saying that the Ulster Defence Regiment, if it was composed of Prot estants, would not be impartial, but I think it would certainly be fair to say that some of the fears of the Catholics in the North of Ireland would be calmed if a certain percentage of this Regiment were Catholic. I have chosen the figure of 25 per cent. of the population. I think the actual percentage of Catholics in the North of Ireland is 30 per cent.



I understand that if you do not count the children, the proportion in the adult population is round about 25 per cent. Whether it is 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. is a small point.

I am in rather an awkward position this evening as I have to go downstairs to be host to the Irish Peers. Your Lordships are probably quite pleased to hear that, because I shall have to stop speaking very shortly. However, there is no doubt that my Amendment may not be entirely practical. But I should like to see whether something like this can he done to encourage Catholics to join this force. I am a full-blooded Protestant, and my family have been for hundreds of years, but I feel, and there are many other Protestants who feel like me in the North of Ireland, that we are prepared to do anything reasonable that we can to try to solve this problem and make it a happy Province. I beg to move.

8.29 p.m.


When I saw this Amendment on the Order Paper I assumed that its purpose was to get a balanced force. I did not quite get that impression from the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and I would put just two objections to the Amendment. The first is that the suggestion that not less than one-quarter of the men should be accepted from the Catholic faith is rather an under-representation of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland. Much more deeply there is the objection that I think it is very dangerous indeed if, in the laws of this land, we make a reference either to a particular race, or a particular religion. Those of us who are opposed to racial discrimination, and also to discrimination on religious grounds, take the view that it would be a bad precedent in our law to have a reference to a religious faith as there is here.

But I particularly wanted to rise to put a question to Her Majesty's Government. There was a debate in another place on this question of a balanced force, and at the end of that debate Mr. Hattersley, the Minister speaking on behalf of the Government, agreed that he would write to the members of the B-Special force outlining clearly the methods and the terms of recruitment. That promise was given because there had been some evidence that the B-Specials were not joining as individuals but were joining as groups, and, most extraordinarily, that it was as a result of a meeting of an unofficial committee within the Regiment. Because of that, there was the very great danger that there might be over-pressure to get B-Specials to join; and Mr. Hattersley promised that he would communicate with the members of the B-Special Regiment. I just want to ask my Front Bench: What has been done in this respect? Has such a letter been sent? And, if so, what are the contents of that letter? I ask this in order that we may feel that everything is being done to create a multi-community force.


I should like to intervene for a moment. The noble Viscount asked me various questions about myself and why I said I was happy to live in the Republic of Ireland. I really do not think it is necessary for me to explain again. I live in the Republic of Ireland because I prefer the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. I prefer the life there, and that is why I am happy when I wake up. I say this and I am not ashamed of it; indeed I am pleased and proud of it. However, I felt that his remarks were considerably irrelevant to the Amendment he was proposing. I myself think—I certainly hope—that this Amendment is completely unnecessary. That is because the Government have indicated over and over again that they are going to do everything in their power —and I completely respect their sincerity —to get as many members as possible of the Catholic faith and followers of the Nationalist belief to join this force. I know that they will try, and I know that attempts are being made in that direction. I am afraid they are not going to be successful; and I think that if one other noble Lord or noble Baroness had voted the other way just now the chances would be much greater that there would be Catholics who would come forward. I feel certain that every attempt will be made, but I am afraid that even as things are the figure that the noble Viscount wants to see of 25 per cent. will not be reached, and that therefore absolutely nothing will be gained by putting it in.

On the other hand, I cannot help having a sneaking wish that it could be in the Bill, for the reason suggested to me by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, who is not in the Chamber at present. That is, because if it were in the Bill it might very well restrict the size of the force to three Protestants. If no Catholic chose to come forward, which I think will be extremely probable, then, if this were a part of the measure, the force would be restricted to three; and that is about the size I should like it to be.


My Lords, I sympathise with the idea in the mind of the noble Viscount, and as he is a member of the Unionist Grand Council, or words to that effect—a very high Unionist body in Northern Ireland—I think it comes very well and handsomely from him. I am sorry he marred that noble aspiration by some of the observations that fell from him; but let us et those aside. There is no doubt at all that we all want to see a proportion as high as this if we can, and, if possible, higher; but I think it is going to be incredibly difficult to achieve this proportion. The only question is whether one gains anything by putting it in. I should not have thought so myself, except that Lord Hunt, who recommended against continuing a fixed proportion in the police, in his speech on Monday actually recommended introducing a fixed proportion, or words to that effect, here. That was rather striking, coming from him. Therefore, I should like the noble Viscount to feel that when he throws out a liberal idea of this sort he does meet with some response. But, having said that, I can only tell him that if he presses the Amendment to a Division he will not find me there.


The noble Viscount has proposed an Amendment which, in the spirit if not in the letter, will, I know, command a good deal of sympathy from your Lordships' Committee. If I may express a personal opinion, I should have thought the ideal make-up of this force would be 100 per cent. agnostics; but that is something which I think we are unlikely to achieve.


May I ask my noble friend whether he is speaking for the Government?


I thought I made it quite clear that this was a purely personal view; that, to me, that would be the ideal composition of the force; but I said it was not likely to be achieved. I think the noble Viscount was right to draw attention to the question of achieving a proper balance within the new force, because that might well be an important factor in the success of the Ulster Defence Regiment. It is for this reason that Her Majesty's Government are paying so much attention to this aspect of the new arrangements in Northern Ireland. Your Lordships will appreciate, however, that there would be serious difficulties in seeking to find a proper balance by legislation in the manner of the Amendment, not only because of the practical difficulties in enforcing a fixed percentage of members of a particular religious denomination or faith but also because it has not been our custom, and rightly so, to regard religion as a relevant consideration for entry into the Army. That is not to say that Her Majesty's Government will not take positive steps to see that a proper balance is achieved. On the contrary, as stated in the clearest possible terms by my honourable friend the Minister of Defence for Administration in the Second Reading debate on November 19 in another place, the recruitment of a well-balanced force will be a primary objective.

The detailed arrangements that are being made are directed towards that end. Applicants for membership of the Ulster Defence Regiment will be asked to state their religion on their application form—and I want to stress this point—for the sole purpose of enabling a watch to be kept on this aspect of the balance. There will be no automatic transfer of members of the Ulster Special Constabulary to the Ulster Defence Regiment. Application forms will be widely available for all potential recruits, and the recruitment campaign will be directed towards all sections of the community in Northern Ireland. As I said in the debate in your Lordships' House on December 8, General Sir John Anderson, the Colonel Commandant-designate of the Ulster Defence Regiment, will be taking special steps to see that as many as possible of the members of the minority community in Northern Ireland apply to join the new force. Again, the G.O.C., Northern Ireland, will have the benefit of the help of an advisory council—I mentioned that in the debate—one of whose tasks will be to advise on the composition of the force and on matters of improving recruitment in minority communities.

Her Majesty's Government believe that they have already taken such practical steps as are open to them to see that the Ulster Defence Regiment becomes a well-balanced force which is fully representative of all the responsible communities in Northern Ireland, and that the arrangements that they have made are far preferable to seeking to incorporate in legislation a provision which would be out of keeping with our custom, not necessarily workable in practice and, indeed, virtually impossible to enforce. I hope the noble Viscount will accept the fact that we are in complete agreement with the spirit behind his Amendment, but I hope he will not force it to a Division.


Before my noble friend sits down, may I ask him whether he heard the question which I put to him, which I think is important in this connection? Mr. Hattersley, his colleague, made a definite promise in another place. I am asking whether the letter which he promised would go to the members of the B-Specials has been sent, and I am asking him what are the contents of that letter. My noble friend has ignored that question altogether.


I am grateful to my noble friend for reminding me. The position is that the matter is still being looked into. I am therefore not able to tell him what will be the contents of such a letter, if it is in fact sent.


But it was promised.


That promise has not yet been broken. It is being looked into.


I thank the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, for his explanation. I am glad to hear that every effort is to be made to achieve a proper balance in the force, and I can only hope that that will be successful. I quite appreciate —in fact, I knew—that it has never been the custom in the British Army to choose recruits on their religious faith, or to have a certain percentage of one faith and a certain percentage of another. Of course, Northern Ireland is a rather unusual place, perhaps— certainly at the moment. It was the best solution that I could think of, but I quite agree that it is probably not practicable. As I said before, I am very pressed for time. I should have liked to answer the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, and others. I do not agree with him when he says that it could happen that there would be only three in the Regiment. I think he was exaggerating. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.42 p.m.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 6: Page 1, line 24, leave out ("when he is in possession, or ")

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is completely non-contentious and non-controversial. Clause 1(2) lays down the occasions when members of the force will be subject to military discipline, and subsection (2)(b)(ii) states that a member of the force will be under military discipline … when he is in possession, or when, in pursuance of any order given … by a superior officer of his, he is required or authorised to be in possession, of any arms or ammunition … ". I am proposing to delete the words, "when he is in possession, or". My point is simply that these words are unnecessary. A member of the force remains under military discipline, if these words are deleted, if he is required or authorised to be in possession, of any arms, and so on. Those are the only circumstances under which he should possess them. If these words are left in, there would be the implication that a member may be in possession of arms when he is not "required or authorised to be in possession". I propose for the sake of clarity that these words should be deleted. I beg to move.


The noble Lord has the point right, but he has not spotted the danger. He has argued that these words are unnecessary in that a member of the force should be in possession of arms only if he is required or authorised to be so. That must certainly be the hope of all of us. But your Lordships will appreciate that no one can guarantee that some occasion will not arise when a member of the force is in unauthorised possession of arms either because he mistook his orders or because he was negligent or perhaps even because he was disobedient. This is a possible and genuinely dangerous situation. It seemed only prudent to provide against such a contingency. To do so is not to make a judgment on the likelihood of such a contingency arising.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence has emphasised that this is to be a well disciplined and well trained Regiment. No one assumes anything else. But if there were to be only a single breach of the rule it would be intolerable to find that for lack of this provision a member of the force in irregular possession of arms was not subject to military law. May I repeat that: for lack of this provision a member of the force in irregular possession of arms—which is a situation which could arise—was not subject to military law. I hope, therefore, that my noble friend will not press this Amendment.


I have no intention of pressing this Amendment. It seems to me that if a member of the force were in possession of arms at a time when he was not required or authorised to be in possession, he would be guilty of an offence and could be taken to court for acting in a way in which he should not act, and would be liable to the penalties of the court, whether under military discipline or not. However, in the light of the assurance that my noble friend has given, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.46 p.m.

THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERYmoved Amendment No. 7: Page 2, line 2, leave out from ("any") to end of line 4 and insert ("equipment belonging, to Her Majesty of such description as may be prescribed for the purposes of this section".)

The noble Earl said: I must apologise to the Committee and to the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom. I must disclose the personal fact that yesterday I was in bed with 'flu. If I had been in a better state of health I would have noticed the errors in the drafting of this Amendment. I wonder whether it is worth while explaining the point that I meant to make. We have in the Bill the words, "prescribed description of equipment", possession of which can bring a man under the operation of military law. "Prescribed description of equipment" is a vague term. "Prescribed" means, according to the definition, "rescribed by order or regulation" and it might cover anything from a bicycle to water bottles. Presumably it is not intended to refer to possession of that kind of equipment which is normal for every man in the force. The purpose of my Amendment, if it had been correctly drafted, was to make it read in such a way that "equipment" would refer to such equipment of such description as may be prescribed for the purposes of this section. In other words, "prescribed" in this clause refers only to equipment "prescribed for the purpose of this section." In other words, if he is ordered to take a bicycle or a wireless set he comes under military law; but if he has only web equipment or a water bottle, obviously he does not.


The noble Earl has explained that his concern is with the wording more than with the merits of this provision—I believe he accepts that the possession of some kinds of equipment, like arms or ammunition, should make members of the force subject to military law. His difficulty, as I understand it, circulates round the word "prescribed". I can assure the noble Earl that "prescribed" in line 2 of page 2 does indeed mean "prescribed for the purposes of this section"; and prescription will be by regulation made by my right honourable friend under the provisions of Clause 4(1) of the Bill. When he raised this topic on Second Reading, the noble Earl said that he though it of "somewhat dubious propriety" to bring a man under military law by a minor regulation made under Clause 4(1). I hope it will help the noble Earl if I say, first, that these regulations are in no sense "minor": they will be made under the authority of this Act, and will not only have all the force of, for example, Regulations of the T. & A.V.R., but, like them, will be drawn up with care, and will be published and laid before your Lordships' House. The purport of the noble Earl's Amendment being thus the same as the words of the Bill, I hope that with this assurance from me he will not press it further. The regulations in question follow a known pattern relating to defence forces. They will be laid but will not be subject to Parliamentary control by either Affirmative or Negative Resolution; but since they are laid before the House they could be debated if the noble Earl or any other noble Lord wished to do so. Control will be kept so that the important elements will be included and the nonsenses excluded.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for that more than adequate explanation and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


In calling Amendment No. 8 may I point out to the Committee that, if it were agreed to, I should not be able to call Amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 11.

8.50 p.m.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 8: Page 2, line 34, leave out from beginning to ("shall") in line 38.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 8. I am doing so because I believe the words which I am proposing to delete are unnecessary. So far as I am aware, a member of this Regiment would not be liable to any service of any kind unless the force or some part of it has been called out under one or other of the subsections of Clause 2 which are mentioned. It therefore seems to me all the more clear that he cannot be liable to whole-time service unless he has been called out. An alternative would be to include the words, "or part-time" as is suggested by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, in Amendment No. 10. So far as training is concerned, the obligation of a member for full-time service is already clearly stated in Clause 2(5), because a member cannot be liable for any kind of service unless the force has been called out.


My noble friend is quite right in drawing attention to the fact that the only liabilities for service or training imposed on members of the force are those under Clause 2 of the Bill. But my noble friend will have appreciated that none of these is framed in exclusive terms—indeed, they could not have been so drafted, because the liabilities for service are alternative. The subsection to which my noble friend's Amendment relates gives my right honourable friend power to make orders and regulations for the duties of the force. That is obviously necessary, and it is usual in Royal Forces legislation to give the Secretary of State this kind of discretion. But as legislation expressly concerns itself with prescribing liabilities for service it is desirable that there should, in this subsection, be a corresponding limitation. My noble friend will have observed that the same argument applies to the provision about service in Northern Ireland.

I think it is fair to say that these words only add emphasis: they are a positive expression of a limit which, as my noble friend has acutely observed, is implicit elsewhere in the Bill. But they do follow the precedent of an earlier Statute, the Home Guard Act 1951, and I hope my noble friend will agree that they do no harm in making clear this crucial protection of the rights of members of the force.


I should like to study my noble friend's reply. I feel that he has given a very detailed and satisfactory answer and I do not propose to press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 9: Page 2, line 34, leave out ("require") and insert ("call upon")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 9, which is to substitute the words "call upon" for "require" in the passage which in the last Amendment I have just proposed we should delete. It seems to me that the word "require" is not strong enough. All this subsection says at present is that members of the force may not be required to give whole-time service, except when the force or part of it has been called out. But surely that does not mean that members of the force, if they were willing to be called out, might not be able to take part in operations. I feel that there is very little meaning or force in the sentence so long as the word "require" is used and that something stronger, such as "call upon", should be substituted.


I think that my noble friend is tripping over something that arises from the art of the Parliamentary draftsmen. We believe that the word "require" in line 34 is better than the phrase "call upon". The subsection describes what is and is not to go into the regulations. The regulations are mandatory and I am advised that "require" is not only the traditional but the proper term. There has been previous legislation in which the term "require" has always been used and I hope that for this reason my noble friend will accept it.


I feel a certain amount of doubt about it because the Bill says that orders or regulations "shall not require members of the Force" to do so and so. It does not say that these orders or regulations shall not request them. The regulations made could still request members of the force to do whole-time service although they might not require it. Therefore I feel that they go a little further than is perhaps intended. But in view of the fact that my noble friend assures me that this is the word normally used, and cannot have the effect that I feared, I accept what he says and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERYmoved Amendment No. 10: Page 2, line 34, after ("whole-time") insert ("or part-time").

The noble Earl said: I feel that I may fairly claim that this Amendment is drafted with the most unfailing accuracy. As I understand it, the second half of subsection (5) is designed to protect the soldier from being imposed on and required to perform any kind of military duty when not out training, on the one hand, or called out, on the other. It says that members of the force shall not be required to give whole-time service, which does not exclude the possibility that they might be required to give part-time service. It seems to me that this difficulty could be overcome by leaving out the words "whole-time", but that would leave the words "give service", which would seem rather curious in a military context. It would be easier, neater and self-explanatory to add the words I suggest, so that the subsection would read: shall not require members of the force to give whole-time or part-time service except during any period"— and so on. Only then, I submit, would the man be completely covered in the way the subsection intends he should be. I beg to move.


I should like to add a word of support to what has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery. I see this as a possible solution to the problem which was worrying me. It seemed to me that no service of any kind should be given unless the force had been called out. I do not see why only whole-time service is specified in the subsection. If the noble Earl's Amendment were accepted, and whole-time and part-time service specified, the force would not be called out before it could be required.


The noble Earl's Amendment is designed to ensure that all the circumstances in which members of the force attend for training are covered by this provision. I recognise the force of his argument, but I believe there are special reasons for emphasising whole-time service in this way. It is not the practice with reserve forces generally, and in particular with this force, to prescribe by Statute the total amount of part-time training. The demands of training vary from time to time, and on the whole it is best to be as flexible as possible and to prescribe by regulations rather than in the Act. But service 24 hours a day is a serious matter for a part-time force, and for this reason we have particularly emphasised the utmost extent of the demands that may be made on a man for whole-time service. We have laid down what is the most he can be asked to do, but if he is asked to do less than that, we feel that it would be better to leave the question undefined.


I am slightly puzzled, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so. If I understood him aright, a question might arise of additional periods of training being prescribed under regulation. So we do not know, simply by reading the Bill, how much work a man would be required to do. But if that happened, surely it is covered by the words or they are undergoing training" in line 36. So that no matter what happens, whether statutory periods of training are increased or decreased, a man is still covered, in the sense that he must do what he is told when he is training. It does not affect the fact that while he is undergoing training or called up, he can still, as the subsection is now drafted, be called up to do half a day's work when he should not be. Is that not possible?


I should have thought not. The regulations I mentioned will be available to the House, and if this is a matter of concern to the noble Earl I am certain that he will watch them. Since this is a voluntary force, I am perfectly certain that we will take the trouble to see that no-one is driven out of the Regiment by overwork or by an oppressive use of the words, "whole-time". I am pretty certain that common sense will be applied, and that it is not necessary, as the noble Earl wishes, to define it in this exact phrase.


I do not wish to press this Amendment, but simply wish to register the point. I am not at all convinced by the noble Lord's argument, but I am happy to leave it at that. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 11: Page 2, line 36, leave out ("(2)")

The noble Lord said: Subsection (5) states that regulations … shall not require members of the force to give whole-time service except during any period during which the force or the part of it to which they belong is called out under subsection (2), (3) or (4),… Clause 2(3), states: The force shall be liable to be called out for permanent service in Northern Ireland in defence of the United Kingdom against actual or apprehended attack;… Under subsection (2) the force may be called out … for emergency service in Northern Ireland if, and for so long as, it appears … to be necessary or expedient for the defence of life or property in Northern Ireland against armed attack or sabotage, whether actual or apprehended.

I am of the opinion that if the only threat to security in Northern Ireland is one which requires the defence of life and property against armed attack or sabotage, there would never justifiably be a case to call out the entire Regiment for whole-time service, though I appreciate that it could be called out to defend the United Kingdom, which in this case means to defend Northern Ireland, because it may not serve outside Northern Ireland, against actual or apprehended attack. But the whole force should not be called upon for full-time service subject to the condition foreseen in Clause 2(2). I beg to move.


With respect to my noble friend, I think that this is essentially a question of semantics. He must make a distinction between whole-time service and permanent service. Whole-time service means service 24 hours a day: it is likely that members of this force will often do less than this—for instance when they are undertaking guard duties or when they are doing evening training. But it is also possible that even on emergency service they may be called out for more than 24 hours at a time and in those circumstances they would be treated, and of course paid, as on whole-time service. For example, a man could do a 36-hour period when doing training at weekends. Permanent service extends this concept. It is whole-time service of indefinite duration as is to be expected in the context of general war. That is the difference.


I thank my noble friend for his explanation. I had not appreciated the difference between whole-time and permanent service. In view of what he has told me, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.8 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill.


During the Second Reading I raised with the noble Lord the spokesman for the Government, the matter of the reference in subsection (3) to Parts II to V of the Army Act. He has since Written to me (I received the letter only to-day) and argues that the reference is sufficient to override the doubts that I have, or that arise from the fact that the Army Act would remain unamended; and for a man to become liable for military law, as it seemed to me, reading the Army Act, he had to be one of those designated in Section 205.

I should be prepared to leave it there because I sensed the difficulty that the Ministry of Defence must have had in drafting this Bill. There was no suitable opportunity of amending the Army Act, and so they have got round it in this way. The Minister argued that there is a precedent, in that the same thing was done when the Home Guard Act was introduced in 1951. My worry is that subsection (2) refers only to Parts II to V; there is no reference to Part I. Yet during our deliberations this evening the noble Lord said that the Government attach special importance to the answer that a man would give on attestation. The point where a man can be charged with a false answer on attestation does not arise on Parts II to V; it arises out of Section 19 of the Army Act 1955, which states that a person appearing before a recruiting officer and makes a false answer under attestation should be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding £20. So it seems that procedures would arise here under Section 19. I have not had the time to go into this because, as I say, the Minister's letter telling me that he is satisfied about the drafting of the Bill before us reached me in the House only to-day. I suggested to the Minister that perhaps he could ask his advisers to look at this point again. Frankly, I do not like it. It is legislation by reference. And in dealing with a disciplined force this is particularly unfortunate.

I speak from the experience I had on the Select Committee which considered the Army Act, and which produced the revised version. We were most anxious to get it all in one place. That is the reason why every five years the Act comes up and, instead of being continued year by year, is referred in the fifth year to a Select Committee in order to keep it up to date. It is something of very great importance to the Armed Forces, and I do not like a reference of this kind. If the Minister's legal advisers are satisfied that in the future, if a man is charged under the provisions of Parts II to V there will be no legal difficulties, I shall be satisfied, except that I think that, in the interests of the job he is doing, it would be as well if he considered whether a reference to Part I is necessary. It may be that it is not. However, I repeat that I do no more than raise the point because I have had no opportunity of studying it in any depth.


The whole House takes very seriously any views that the noble Lord, Lord Wigg expresses on the matter of military law. I am afraid that I cannot convince him. I have done my best. However, to make assurance doubly sure, I will ask my advisers to look at it again, and I will write to the noble Lord when they have considered what he has had to say.


There is no need to write to me; I will not trouble the noble Lord to do that. If his advisers are satisfied that the point I have raised is adequately covered, then there is no need to do anything about it. On the other hand, if he finds differently—and he himself said that he attached importance to the answers on attestation—and if he finds the enlistment provision here is necessary, then in his own interest he ought to do something about it. Whether he does or not is a matter for him, because the future will show whether or not there was a need to do something.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Liabilities for Service and Training]:

9.14 p.m.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 12: Page 2, line 45, leave out ("of a rank not lower than major").

The noble Lord said: I beg leave to move Amendment No. 12, and I hope it will be for the convenience of the House if we consider at the same time Amendment No. 14. I consider these two to be dependent upon each other, and I should not wish one of them to be operative without the other being operative also. This is a question of the officers to whom the right may be designated to call out a force. It was stated on three separate occasions on a Committee stage in another place by the Minister, Mr. Ivor Richard, that it was the intention of the Government that this power should be exercised only by officers whom the Secretary of State had personally authorised. I will not quote directly what the Minister said, because I think I should be out of order in doing so, but in column 1237, for instance, on the Committee stage of the Bill, he quite definitely stated that it is the Government's intention that the power of call-out should be reserved for those persons whom the Secretary of State had specifically authorised.

Will your Lordships look at line 3 on page 3? It seems to me that here are two words that are extremely ambiguous, and they confused me as they stand at present. Those words are "him" and "such". We have the situation that the Secretary of State may certainly grant authority in writing to a designated officer of the regular forces, and we go on: with or without authority for that officer in turn to authorise any other officer designated by shim". My point here is that we do not know whether this means designated by the Secretary of State, or designated by the officer to whom authority has been designated by the Secretary of State.

When I read this Bill for about the fourteenth time I decided that it meant that the officer to whom the right had been designated by the Secretary of State himself was being given power to designate that authority to another officer. But then, when I read what had been said in the Committee stage in the House of Commons, it seemed to me that the word "him" must refer to the Secretary of State. In any case, whether it refers to one or the other, it certainly is not clear; it is ambiguous. I think that it should refer to the Secretary of State, and that only the Secretary of State should be entitled to decide which officer should have this very important power, in which case "Secretary of State" should be substituted for "him". But it I am wrong in that, then again it should be clear whether this power to delegate the authority further resides in the person who has been designated by the Secretary of State.

Then we have to consider what is meant by: being such an officer of the regular forces as aforesaid".

At present we read that this authority may be granted: to any designated officer of the regular forces within the meaning of the Army Act 1955 of a rank not lower than major".

It simply is not clear whether "such an officer" means an officer of the regular forces within the meaning of the Army Act 1955

or an officer of the regular forces within the meaning of the Army Act 1955 of a rank not lower than major".

I now understand what I had not understood before, that it is meant to have the latter meaning, and that the officer to whom the right can be designated must be of the rank of major or senior to that rank. But I suggest that it is not clear at present precisely what is meant by the expression "such an officer". Believing, as I do, that no officer should have this right unless he has been granted authority by the Secretary of State, I am proposing to bring that about by deleting these two passages, as proposed in my Amendments Nos. 12 and 14. I beg to move.


I am sorry that the intention of this subsection is not clear to the noble Lord, and if it is not clear to him it is probably not clear to other people. For that reason, I should like to say, here and now, that the words which he mentioned, "him" and "such an officer", refer to, not the Secretary of State, but the officer authorised by him; they refer to the authorised officer. That is quite clearly for practical purposes. The object of the provision is to ensure that the power to call out the force for emergency service is devolved in a practical way without sacrificing essential control. Too much centralisation would be a mistake in the conditons in which this force is to work. From time to time requirements will change and the organisation of the force must be reasonably flexible. The main thing is to ensure that at all times some responsible officer is available to call out a given unit of the force. This, obviously, cannot be achieved without delegation. You do not expect the Secretary of State to call out a section of a platoon to guard a pumping station. That is a job for an officer not below the rank of major to whom responsibility has been delegated by the Army chain of command.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? I am not suggesting that the Secretary of State should call out some small platoon, but that it should be only the Secretary of State who has the right to designate an officer as having the right to call out that platoon.


No, the Secretary of State authorises the General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland, and then he can delegate authority to other officers who are authorised by him to use the delegated authority given to them. It is a simple and straightforward chain of command, and the delegated authority stops with the man with the rank of major. But one simply cannot so organise things that the Secretary of State is constantly concerned with authorising individuals of a comparatively junior military rank. He has to leave it to the judgment of the General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland, to whom he delegates authority, and for that reason I must repeat that the words "him" and "such an officer" do refer to an officer authorised by the military chain of command, the chain starting with the Secretary of State but being delegated to the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland and other officers.


I completely accept the assurance given by my noble friend, but I feel that it is not immediately or necessarily obvious that the "him" referred to in line 3 is the designated officer, or that "such an officer" means an officer of a rank not lower than major. I had certainly assumed that officers below that rank would be entitled to have this power delegated to them. However, if, having drawn the attention of my noble friend to the difficulty I had in interpreting these passages, he feels it is perfectly clear and does not need any change I am willing to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.23 p.m.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 13: Page 2, line 45, afer ("major") insert ("who is not such an officer merely by virtue of his membership of the force").

The noble Lord said: This refers back to the question of the major to whom authority may be granted in writing by the Secretary of State to call out the force, and we are told, clearly and simply, that he must be an officer of the regular forces. As I understand it, almost any officer who is serving with this Regiment is in fact a member of the regular forces. At the time of the Committee stage in another place the Minister, Mr. Richard —and again I must not quote him, but I will paraphrase what he said—


It is in order for the noble Lord to quote it.


That makes it much easier. I sought advice, but I was led astray. The Minister said that: They would be regular officers and not persons who would come within that category merely by virtue of their membership of the Ulster Defence Regiment. For that reason, because I think it important that this very important power should be exercised only by regular army officers and in the words of the Minister, not by those who come within that category merely by virtue of their membership of that Regiment, I am proposing to add here the words that were used by the Minister on that occasion. I beg to move.


I am grateful to my noble friend for moving this Amendment. I can assure him, as my right honourable and honourable friends have said in another place, that it is our intention that power to call out the force on emergency service will be vested in officers of the Regular Army. Having examined this subsection again in the light of my noble friend's Amendment, we agree with him that this point needs more accurate definition. My noble friend's Amendment does not fully meet the point, but if he is willing to withdraw it I will undertake to move a Government Amendment to achieve the same effect at the Report stage of the Bill.


I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for giving this undertaking. I thought it was a point of substance. I was not sure that I had worded it correctly. I am glad to know the Government will take it up, and in view of the undertaking given I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.26 p.m.

LORD KILBRACKENmoved Amendment No. 17:

Page 3, line 6, at end insert— ("Provided that all arms under the authority of such officers shall be stored in armouries and not in the private houses of members of the force, unless it has been called out; and then only in rural districts, with the written permission of a designated officer ".)

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 17. This question was debated at very considerable length in another place. It is, of course, the question whether members of this force should be allowed to keep their arms in their own homes. My honourable friends in another place put down an Amendment which was identical with mine except that it ended at the word "force"; their proposal was that all arms must be stored in armouries and not in the private houses of the members of the force, and that was all there was to it.

I am not making as big a demand on the Government as that. I am saying that this may be permitted, but only if the force has been called out and then only in remote rural districts and with the written permission of a designated officer. I feel most apprehensive about the whole idea of members of a force being allowed to keep rifles and offensive equipment in their own homes. Of course, I know that so long as they have their rifles with them they will be subject to military discipline, but as things stand at present they could have their rifles in their own home when the force has not been called out.

What is the point of this? I imagine a member of the force in an outlandish farmhouse in Fermanagh or in the wilds of Tyrone, and he has his gun there in the corner of the room, which makes him very much more a target and very much more unpopular than he would otherwise be. He hears a fusillade of shots outside the window, which might turn out to be a car backfiring, but he is a bit jumpy and nervous, and he realises that he has not been called out. Therefore, although he has his gun in the room, he is not, as I understand it, allowed to use it. What does he do? How does he get called out? He may have a telephone. Can he ring up the designated officer and say, "For Heaven's sake, there is a fusillade of shots outside the window; will you please call me out?", and the designated officer says, "Yes, you are called out". And will he go out with his rifle and search for this probably mythical enemy in the mountains of Tyrone?

I am surprised that the form that has to be gone through before a member of the force is called out is not laid out anywhere in the Bill. It has been stated in another place, and I think here, that it is the intention that rifles should only be permitted in those remote rural districts where members of the force are under what was admitted, in the Commons, to be an irrational fear of attack by members of the I.R.A. from over the Border. If there is this irrational fear, I suppose that for a certain length of time it is possibly right that some members of the force should be allowed a rifle at home, if they are in these remote rural districts and if they are men who have been given written permission as being responsible people by a designated officer; but I do not see that it is any advantage to them to have a rifle in their house unless they have been called out. As I say, they cannot use it and an emergency may arise, but I think the call-out procedure should involve going to a barracks, or some central depot, and being formally told, "You are now called out; you are under military discipline;here is your rifle;you must now take it home and look after it and keep it under lock and key, and you may use it if neces- sary". But unless the force have been called out, they should not have a rifle; and they should have a rifle in their hands only in the most exceptional circumstances. It is because I believe these things that I beg leave to move.


I should like to say a few words in support of this Amendment. It is recognised, and indeed it has been said by members of the Government, that one of the great difficulties in Northern Ireland to-day is that so many people have guns in their own homes, and I think the call-in of those guns has been rather disappointing to the authorities in Northern Ireland. Under this Bill it will still be possible for those in isolated rural areas to retain guns, and the reason is that they might be specially subject to attacks. In the debate in another place it was described how they were being threatened in letters and over the telephone and in other ways. May I just say, incidentally, that that does not happen only in Northern Ireland. I was interested, in reading that debate, to find that when Mr. Fitt, a Republican Member of Parliament, said that he was subject to exactly the same threats, the answer of the Government was: "Yes, but you are living in a town and not in a rural area".

This afternoon I have been speaking to Miss Bernadette Devlin. I want to say, and I say it because so much is said in denigration of her, that I have the greatest possible admiration for Bernadette Devlin. I do not endorse all that she has said, but she has brought to politicians, of the younger generation at least, a credibility and a belief in her honesty and forthrightness, a belief that in all circumstances she will say what she believes and what is the truth, which is what politicians to-day want more than any characteristic which I can conceive. This extraordinary tribunal in Belfast, where she says "Yes, I did throw bombs"—


Pardon me, but I wonder whether the noble Lord would be kind enough, as I am puzzled, to explain what this eulogy of Miss Bernadette Devlin has to do with the clause we are discussing at the moment.


I accept that interruption. I admit at once that I was expanding too far my references to Miss Devlin. What I was going to say was this: that, unlike Mr. Fitt, she lives in a country village, and she is subject to all the threats which were put forward in another place as the justification for members of this force having arms. I express my regret to your Lordships' Committee if my appreciation of Miss Devlin went further than it ought to have done.

What I want to say to the Minister is this. If there are individuals in the Regiment who are in danger of these attacks, it will be because they are known partisans in the Irish conflict. Miss Devlin was threatened because she is a partisan. If members of the new force are threatened it will be because they are known to be partisans; and I suggest that those who are known to be partisans in that way are the last members who should be accepted in a force which is going to be independent, impartial and multi-community.

There is one other possibility. There may be individuals who are particularly nervous and who, because they are particularly nervous, want arms. I want to suggest again in their case that it is very dangerous to permit them to have arms in their homes, because a person with that kind of temperament might easily let loose an arm too readily even when there is no danger to his own life. Therefore, I hope this Amendment will be accepted, particularly as it adds the suggestion that there might be exceptions to the prohibition of arms in private homes in the event of a call-up. I hope that members of the Committee will give their support to this Amendment.


As we move towards the end of the Committee stage, I am certain that your Lordships are grateful to the two noble Lords who have spoken at this late hour on the splendid scenarios they have put to us. The picture painted by my noble friend Lord Brockway, of a neurotic bigot cowering in his hole and discharging his arm at random, really does not fit in with what we have been trying to explain to noble Lords during the progress of this Bill through your Lordships' House. These men, who will be very carefully chosen because of their impartiality, their character and their suitability, will not be the type of men described by my noble friend. They will be sound, disciplined men who will be given arms only on the judgment of their superior military commander. He will be able to assess the characters of the men, and I am pretty certain that he will not give arms to a man of the type depicted by my noble friend.


If I may interrupt my noble friend, perhaps I may ask him: is it not virtually certain that at least part of the force, and probably two-thirds, will be former members of the Ulster Special Constabulary?


That, surely, is somewhat scandalously said of that particular body of men. Is my noble friend saying that the whole of that force is made up of bigots? I do not think the Committee would accept that. The noble Lord thinks so, but I do not think the Committee takes that view.


I think that the great majority are.


If they are known bigots, I am certain that they will not be recruited into the Ulster Defence Regiment.

If I may turn to the first scenario, I am afraid that I cannot picture it because I have not had the pleasure of travelling in the part of Ireland described by my noble friend. But it really would be a ludicrous situation, if the countryside is as empty and as remote as he described it, for a man, having heard the explosion, having looked outside, having found that it was not a car which had back-fired, then to have to rush across country by some means to report to his commanding officer, to receive authorisation to be given firearms; and then to have to rush back to the scene of the explosion. This really introduces an element of farce into the situation. As we have constantly said, it is desirable that arms issued to the force be stored, wherever possible, in armouries. We hope that this will be practicable, but there will of course be some occasions (from what I know of the country there are remote areas) where the arms must be kept at home. They will be kept under the safeguard of a responsible military commander and a trained disciplined man. But the man who is in this particularly responsible position must have his arms at home so that he has not to travel substantial distances in order to carry out the duties he has to perform.


Can my noble friend tell me what is the position if the force has not been called out? Let us suppose that it has not been called out; that the man is sitting at home with his rifle, and that he has no telephone. He cannot communicate with the designated officer. Is it not the case that when the force is not called out he is not allowed to use the weapon and that therefore his having the rifle is of no use? Unless he is called out he is merely a civilian. Is that not the case?


I will write to my noble friend on this point. I can say that a man at that lime would be under military law if he has the weapon at home. He is then under military law, and presumably, he is in possession of orders from his superior officer. But I will confirm this so that my noble friend is in no doubt.


I look forward to hearing from my noble friend. This is a matter of some importance. What is the position of a man on his own with a gun who has not been called out? Can he use that gun—and if he can, in what way?—without communicating in any way with his superior officer? I know that the Government intend to proceed with a programme of building armouries, so that it will become less and less necessary for members of the force to keep arms at home, and I would express the hope that this programme will continue as rapidly as possible. I do not intend to press this Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD WIGGmoved Amendment No. 18:

Page 3, line 13. at end insert: (2A) The Secretary of State shall, on the relevant date for the purposes of this subsection, report to Parliament the occasion of any calling out of the force or any part of it in exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (2) of this section. (2B) The relevant date for the purposes of the foregoing subsection is the first day of March, June, September or December imme- diately following the exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (2) of this section, or, if Parliament is not then sitting, the first sitting day thereafter.

The noble Lord said: I do not think that I need to say much about this Amendment; it speaks for itself. I raised this point on Second Reading. It has been constitutional practice down the centuries that Parliament should have control over the Armed Forces. It is clearly laid down in the Reserve Acts that when the Reserve Forces as a whole are called out. Parliament must be informed and, if necessary, recalled for that purpose. The circumstances in which executive action can be taken by one of Her Majesty's Ministers to call out the Army Reservists are governed by Statute and are very closely defined. The situation with which this Bill is drafted to deal is quite unlike the circumstances in the Reserve Acts.

I made it clear—I am not absolutely sure that the Minister who replied thoroughly understood my point—that I do not suggest that when a member of this force has been called out, that should be reported by teleprinter to the Minister of Defence and that forthwith he should go to the House of Commons, or that a Minister in this House should then come along to inform your Lordships, that that has happened. That would be absurd. But what I do say is that it is constitutional practice, and of great constitutional importance, that the Houses of Parliament should have control over the Armed Forces and that it should not be left to the will of a Minister, however eminent, to decide when he will inform Parliament.

In my judgment, this must be governed by Statute, and so in this Amendment I propose that the Secretary of State shall report on relevant dates the purposes for which the men have been called out; and for that purpose the relevant dates shall be March 1, June 1, September 1 and December 1. If the Minister wishes he can alter these dates; but enshrined in the Amendment is the principle that Parliament shall be informed and that the Minister shall be under statutory obligation to inform the House. In order to meet his convenience this could be done at intervals.

To depart from something such as is contained in the Amendment would be to run right away from what has been the practice for centuries and something from which the House of Commons was reluctant to depart when the procedure on the Army Act was altered. Although I do not think that any of Her Majesty's Ministers are likely to indulge in any arbitrary action as a result of the provisions in this measure, as the guardians of freedom we should be very careful before we depart in the slightest degree from the principle of very tight Parliamentary control over the use of the Armed Forces, particularly when the Bill has been drafted in such a way as to deal with a situation where the forces which are being organised under its provisions are likely to engage in warlike acts. I beg to move.


The noble Lord, Lord Wigg, has drawn on his formidable experience of Army matters. He emphasises the constitutional principle that Parliament must keep control of the activities of the Army, at least by being informed of them. It is true that the call-out of the Reserve Forces, and indeed of this force, in circumstances of imminent national danger must be reported to Parliament. So too, of course, must be the call-out of the T. & A.V.R. when warlike operations are in preparation or progress. There is no similar provision for call-out in circumstances of actual or apprehended attack under Section 6 of the Army Reserve Act 1950. My noble friend the Lord Privy Seal has asked me to express his regret that in his remarks when winding up the debate on Monday he stated that this was the case. The absence of such a provision must no doubt be attributed partly to the view that there would not be an opportunity to do this in circumstances of war. These liabilities are all designed to be invoked in circumstances of grave national crisis, and in each case they bear particularly heavily on the part-time soldier because they call him out for permanent service.

It is noteworthy that under Section 10 of the Army Reserve Act 1950 there still exists another liability for men of the Army Reserve to be called out to aid the civil power in the preservation of the public peace which does not have to be reported to Parliament. Though there are important differences between this liability and that for emergency service under Clause 2 (2) of the Bill, I think it fair to say that both are directed to local rather than to nation-wide crises and to short-term rather than permanent service. At all events, it is not unprecedented to be able to call out a part-time military force without automatically reporting to Parliament.

Having said so much, may I say that I recognise the entirely proper concern shown by the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, regarding this matter. I can certainly repeat my noble Leader's undertaking given on Second Reading that if a general call-out is necessitated by a general emergency, the Government would expect to come to Parliament. I do not think, however, that it would be appropriate to undertake a binding commitment in this Bill to report at stated intervals for all time the exercise of the power to call out under Clause 2(2). I believe that that would be going too far. We must all hope that in due course tensions will leave Northern Ireland and that the need to call out the force on emergency service, even on routine guard duties, will die away.

Therefore I would suggest to the noble Lord that a permanent provision of this nature might prove superfluous, and certainly would be most onerous to administer. But during the early days of the force's existence I am certain, as the noble Lord is, that Members of both Houses will be anxious to receive reports from time to time. If the noble Lord will accept my assurance, I hope that at a later stage of the Bill in this House we can suggest some machinery which, without going so far as a statutory requirement, will meet the substance of his proposals. I hope that on the basis of that assurance he will withdraw his Amendment.


I am sorry but I cannot accept that. It is quite wrong for a matter of this kind to be left to the will of the Minister. It does not matter who the Minister happens to be. A special force is being organised. It may find itself engaged in war-like operations. I am not going to press the matter too hard, but I should like the Minister to give an assurance that he will give the matter further consideration, or ask his right honourable friend to consider it, and then see whether it is possible to find some words—not to satisfy me because I am merely a voice calling attention to what I regard as an important problem—which could be moved on Report stage to meet this problem.

9.52 p.m.


As the noble Lord knows, we pay great attention to his views in such matters. I understand that what he is proposing would in its own way be rather unprecedented. There are cases when forces are called out and this is not reported to Parliament—indeed, in more exceptional circumstances than are likely to be foreseen for this force. None the less, while I think it would be wrong to give an undertaking to put down an Amendment (the noble Lord may wish to preserve his own position with regard to that), I will certainly undertake to ensure that we look at this further. Anybody who knew the noble Lord in another place knows that, like other Members of Parliament, he is not content just to trust the Executive in such matters, unless there is something rather more binding. I do not know whether it will be possible but I fully take the point of what he is saying and will see whether there is a little more we can do to help him.


I am much obliged. I want to make this point because it seems to me that it would narrow the gap. The noble Lord the Leader of the House says that he is alive to the fact that there are no precedents for legislation of this kind. He is completely wrong about this. Up to the outbreak of the First World War it would have been regarded as a constitutional outrage to attempt to do anything like this. At least that opinion has changed. Up to the Second World War it was still required that Parliament should be recalled if the Reserve Forces were called out. My noble friend will recollect that under Vote A of the Army Act there was strict control by Parliament.

It was only with the emergence of the cold war that a change came. It was realised that it might be undesirable to let the enemy know what was being done. There was also a great danger of worsening the situation by informing the world at large that you were going to call out the reserves. So came the first break with tradition which was carried through in the lifetime of the first Labour Government, when it was then legislated that Section A of the Army Reserve could, if necessary, be called out by notice. Section A were the people required to bring establishments up to something like strength.

There have been a number of other breaks for administrative reasons. Therefore, I refute the argument that I am asking for something which is quite extraordinary. What is extraordinary is the way that, on a rather salami basis, the control of the Houses of Parliament has been whittled away, if you like in the desire to meet for administrative reasons the national need. When you get a Bill of this kind, which envisages a possibility of war-like action on the soil of the United Kingdom, it seems to me that it is the time to call a halt—not to switch back to what was the pre-Second War position, and not to go back to anything like the First World War position. But to say to the Executive. "Yes, you take this" is certainly an encroachment on liberty. Evil men could use this. Therefore, the only safeguard you have—and the only safeguard the public have—is to know what is going on.

If you also make the concession, as I have tried to do, of not asking the Executive to inform the House of Commons at once, then there ought to be a willingness on the part of the Government—particularly a Labour Government—to say, "Yes, we accept the principle that Parliament must have supreme control in a matter of this kind. But it might be a matter of life and death"—and that might be so in the future—" therefore, we say that we shall not do it when it happens, but we will accept the statutory obligation to come at convenient intervals"—and they can choose the intervals. But they must accept a statutory obligation to keep the Houses of Parliament informed. On that basis I will be glad to accept—and I will not stretch it—not the Leader of the House's assurances, but the kindly way in which he has tried to meet the points of view that I am putting to him. I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported, without amendment.