§ 2.45 p.m.
§ Lord SHACKLETON rose to move, That this House takes note of the situation in Northern Ireland. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion that this House takes note of the situation in Northern Ireland. As so much has appeared in the newspapers and we have had the benefit of reading the full discussion in another place, I will not, in the interests of time, seek to cover all the points which are relevant to the problems of Northern Ireland and which are fundamental to the actions which are being taken both by the Northern Irish Government and by the Government at Westminster. I shall try—and I am sure that this will be the purpose of all noble Lords—to state the position as objectively and with as little prejudice or emotion as I can.
§ My Lords, we are having this debate at a time which for Northern Ireland is one of hope and at the same time one of disappointment. I think disappointment is in some ways very much an understatement when one considers the agony, particularly of the last few weeks. It is a time of hope that the programme of reforms, initiated by the Northern Ireland Government last November, continued during the year and culminating in the measures announced in the communiqué last Friday, may at last bring to an end the bitterness and unhappiness which have for so long been part of the character of the Province. When I say I hope that it may at last bring the bitterness to an end, I do not think we can expect a decisive change in attitudes in the course of a few days; but let us hope that we are witnessing at least the beginning of the end. Our 1425 disappointment is that the announcement last Friday should have been followed by bloodshed in which United Kingdom citizens have fired on their own policemen and their own soldiers and in which a young policeman has been tragically and brutally murdered.
§ I do not think that anyone will wish to go back too deeply into history—and history is very much the essence of the Northern Irish situation. The important thing is that we should now do the right thing. I am anxious not to attach blame—and it is notable that no-one from either the Government or Opposition Front Benches, has sought to do so. The blame attaches to many of us. There are many Members of this House with an Irish background, noble Lords like the noble Earl, Lord Longford, myself and others, who know Ireland or who are of Northern Irish blood, who are only too well aware of the bitter memories of comparatively recent events, not merely the events of ancient history, which have overlain some of the earlier sins of our forefathers. We can blame ourselves perhaps for failing to understand the extent and depth of feeling of injustice in Northern Ireland which has not just been focused on the issue of the Border.
§ But, my Lords, while we should not dwell too much on these details, we must look at recent events and at the events which brought the troops on to the streets of Londonderry and Belfast in August. We want to consider how peace can be restored, how confidence can be established and how goodwill between the sections of the community can be gradually created. I hope your Lordships will agree with me when I say that the first principle we must recognise is that confidence and goodwill cannot be imposed on Northern Ireland from outside; it must grow among the people themselves. For this reason it has been the Government's policy as well as their constitutional duty to work with the Government which the people of Northern Ireland themselves elected as recently as February of this year and to use our influence and to give them our help in finding their own solution. As your Lordships will be aware, there have been a number of discussions between the two Governments culminating in the talks from which my right honourable friend the Home Secretary returned last Mon- 1426 day. In these talks both Governments have been guided by the principle which was affirmed in the communiqué issued after the talks between the two Prime Ministers on August 19; namely, that in all legislation and executive decisions of Government every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom, irrespective of political views or religion.
§ At the time of the August riots, the Northern Ireland Government had already put in hand an important programme of reform, and they have made remarkable progress in implementing it. This programme of reform deals with such matters as housing allocation, the abolition of the company vote and the institution of a Parliamentary Commissioner. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, depending on the questions that are raised, will perhaps be able to give your Lordships further details of this programme when he winds up the debate. The events of the last two months have, however, shown that these reforms, radical though they are, are not by themselves enough to establish confidence and create goodwill.
§ When my right honourable friend the Home Secretary visited Northern Ireland at the end of August, he found that the Northern Ireland Government shared the view that the greatest single need was to reform the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a force which was being asked, and had always been asked, to do too many different things at once. It was a force which, for all the fine material is contained, stood too remote from the public to command their confidence in the testing times they had been through. The Northern Ireland Government therefore appointed an Advisory Committee on the Police with two distinguished police officers from Great Britain under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, who is so well known to your Lordships and who has made such a great contribution in recent years. The noble Lord's Committee has made a penetrating and constructive appraisal of the needs of the police in Northern Ireland, and I am sure the House will join me in congratulating the noble Lord on his Committee's achievement and on the speed with which their report was completed.1427
§ It is also right to say a little more about the Royal Ulster Constabulary. I believe the proposals of the Hunt Report, so willingly accepted by Her Majesty's Government, and indeed with some courage by the Government of Northern Ireland, will provide a better future for that Force, and the evidence is that the reforms will be welcome to it. Although some justified criticisms of the R.U.C. have been expressed, and these have been the subject of impartial inquiry, I think we should pay tribute to the courage and restraint of the R.U.C. and should mourn the losses they have sustained. It is worth recognising that something like one in every four or five members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary has sustained injury of one kind or another. We have seen, particularly in reports of recent events, examples of the courage they have shown.
§ This is perhaps a moment when we should also pay a tribute to the Army and the entirely predictable discipline and restraint shown by the soldiers, not only last weekend but throughout the difficult and dangerous weeks which preceded it. The task of the Army has demanded tact and patience. It has involved long hours of trying duty and, as in all situations as dreadful as the one revealed by recent events in Northern Ireland, there has been this brighter side. Therefore, I echo the words of praise for the Army which have been uttered in another place. Among people speaking the same language who, on occasions have shown hostility, the troops have shown the same staunchness that we have seen them exhibit in other places all over the world. Indeed, in many ways the situation was painfully similar to situations we have seen in Aden and in other areas. I am sure that the whole House would wish to join me in expressing gratitude to the troops.
§ My Lords, may I return to the Hunt Committee? Their recommendations fall into three groups. The first is that the ordinary function of a civil police force cannot successfully be combined with that of a local defence force. The Committee recommended that this second function should be altogether divorced from the police function, and that the Royal Ulster Constabulary should be a civilianised police force, mainly unarmed, operating on a footing no different from 1428 that of police forces in Great Britain. It should have its own volunteer, part-time reserve force; what in our terms would be called a special constabulary. The duties necessary to guard against the threat of armed guerrilla-type attacks and to protect key installations should be transferred to a new, part-time, locally recruited military force, under the control of the General Officer Commanding. There would of course be the closest consultation between the G.O.C. and the United Kingdom Government, on the one hand, and the Northern Ireland Government, on the other, on the disposition of this force.
§ All this the Government of Northern Ireland has accepted: legislation will be required here at Westminster to set up the force and is, if it is permissible to anticipate in this way, likely to be introduced shortly. All these changes cannot, however, be effective at once. The local military force must be raised. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence hopes for recruitment from a broad range of qualified men, and the B Special Force will be retained till that is done. The rate of transition from an armed Royal Ulster Constabulary to an unarmed Royal Ulster Constabulary must depend on the judgment of its new Inspector-General, the Northern Ireland Government and the G.O.C., and I should mention at this point that none of these plans affects the arrangement whereby the G.O.C. has responsibility for all internal security so that police and troops can work effectively together while the troops remain deployed in aid of the civil power.
§ The second group of recommendations, also accepted in full by the Northern Ireland Government, is to bring the police and the public closer together. This is the reason for the decision to set up a police authority, to which the Inspector-General will be accountable and which will be composed of representatives of the public whom the police serve. The Royal Ulster Constabulary not only needs more men: it also needs to broaden the basis of its recruitment, and we all hope to see many more Roman Catholics in its ranks. Policemen are members of the public who serve the public at large; they cannot command public confidence if they are looked on or look on themselves as a race apart. Thirdly, the Committee 1429 have recognised the need to prevent the dangers of in-breeding. Most notably, the Northern Ireland Government have appointed as Inspector General Sir Arthur Young, whom the Corporation of London have generously agreed to release from his duties as Commissioner of Police of the City. I do not need to explain his reputation to the House, because he has given distinguished service to this country for many years. I am sure he takes with him all our good wishes.
§ I shall want to return to the question of law and order before I finish, but I should like now to deal with the economic and social questions which have also been considered with the Government of Northern Ireland. It is the view of many people that the troubles of Northern Ireland are due not primarily to sectarian bitterness, but to unemployment and poor housing. Whatever view your Lordships may take on this matter, great un-happiness, disruptive of social harmony, results from the sort of conditions that exist to-day in Northern Ireland, conditions which, I should hasten to add, as one who knew Northern Ireland then, were very much worse before the war. It is the duty of any responsible Government to improve the conditions. The main need is to attract new industry to Northern Ireland. The Province suffers from its remoteness from its sources of raw materials, fuel supplies and so on, and from its distance from its main market. To my knowledge, the Northern Ireland Government have made strenuous efforts to try to encourage new industries to Northern Ireland, where there is also the attraction of a vigorous and very hard working people. The inducements to new industry must nevertheless be great, if success is to be achieved.
§ Following the work of the Economic Mission, three decisions have been taken. First, to provide an immediate assurance to new manufacturing projects it has been decided to introduce for a limited period a scheme of free compensation against damage arising from riot or civil commotion, including consequential loss, which would form a supplement to new agreements for assistance under the Industries Development Acts. Secondly, to encourage a still higher rate of expansion, it has been decided, for a period of three years, to increase by 5 per cent. the rates both of investment grants and of grants payable under the Industries 1430 Development Acts. This means that the standard rate of investment grants payable without employment test will become 45 per cent., with a rate of grant of up to 50 per cent. for projects offering worthwhile additional employment. Thirdly, short-term measures have been decided upon which will provide 2, 500 new jobs. The present decisions, which are fully supported by the United Kingdom Government, fall within the existing framework of financial arrangements between the two Governments; and it is the intention of the United Kingdom Government to cover the agreed capital requirements of Northern Ireland on a continuing basis.
§ I now turn from economic to social matters. The three joint working parties, which I mentioned earlier, have reviewed the adequacy of present practice or pledged commitments to ensure, first, the promotion of good community relations by methods including the prohibition of incitement to religious hatred; secondly, the avoidance of any discrimination in any form of public employment; and thirdly, the fair allocation of houses by public authorities.
§ The House will have noted that a Minister of Community Relations has been appointed, and I have already said that a Bill to set up a Community Relations Commission has been introduced in the Northern Ireland House of Commons. It received its Second Reading last week. The duties of the Commission will include encouraging harmonious community relations, helping local bodies working in this field, the organisation of training courses and commissioning research. There is also the Bill which has been introduced to establish a Commissioner for Complaints to deal with complaints of maladministration by local authorities or public bodies. Maladministration will of course include religious discrimination. Not only will an aggrieved person be able to seek remedies in the courts but the Attorney General will be able to seek an injunction to restrain a local or public body from any continuing course of maladministration. The Minister of Community Relations will be considering what further action to prevent discrimination might be desirable and the Northern Ireland Government intend to keep under review the adequacy of the existing law against incitement.1431
§ Northern Ireland Ministers have approved a series of detailed recommendations designed to reinforce the safeguards against discrimination in public employment and are embarking on the necessary consultations. These recommendations include the following. The Civil Service of Northern Ireland deservedly enjoys a high reputation for fairness and impartiality but the powers of the Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration will be extended to personnel matters in the Civil Service. If I may say so, this is a striking development.
§ Other employing bodies in the public field will be required to make a declaration of equality of employment opportunity without regard to religious or political considerations. Every public body should have an approved code of employment procedure. A permanent statutory Local Government Staff Commission will be established with strong advisory powers to assist local authorities in the selection of candidates for senior and designated appointments, and with a continuing duty of reviewing appointment procedures. The idea of a Public Service Commission to operate over the whole of the public sector will be further studied.
§ There remains the matter of the allocation of houses. This, as we know, is a subject of crucial importance in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Government have decided that a solution of the housing problem with which they are faced demands emergency measures with which local authorities cannot be expected to cope. They have therefore decided to create a single-purpose central housing authority, to tackle this most urgent problem. Private enterprise can help and further measures are being considered to stimulate private house building.
§ The transfer of responsibility to the central authority will require legislation and it will be phased to ensure that there is a smooth transfer from the Northern Ireland Housing Trust and the local authorities to ensure that there is no disruption of current housing programme. In the meantime, allocations will be based on the model points scheme which the Northern Ireland Government have already published and which the working party agreed is soundly based. I should 1432 like to emphasise to noble Lords that this is a very striking change indeed. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, especially, with his experience of local government, will know that again the Northern Ireland Government have had to take courage to make such a major decision.
§ In consequence of this decision and to ensure a concerted housing drive, unhampered by difficulties over such things as water and sewerage services, roads and the release of land, the shape and size and staffing of local authorities without housing functions will have to be reassessed. The Northern Ireland Government will set up a broadly based and fully representative review body to reconsider the Government's present proposals for the reorganisation of local administration and to advise on the most efficient distribution of the relevant functions. These proposals and the action that is being taken in this field of social and governmental reform are of very great importance when we examine and seek to diagnose the ills that beset Northern Ireland.
§ Before I close, I should like to say one word about the Border. Here again, views will vary largely according to which side of the Border one is on and to which persuasion one belongs. I recognise that there are many people who have emotional attachments. One can well understand the idea of a united Ireland. But I have an even more powerful conviction that, whatever the historical rights or wrongs, the majority of people in Northern Ireland are passionately opposed to the abolition of the Border; and they are not without reason for this feeling, quite apart from issues of loyalty—a word which is sometimes, I fear, somewhat abused in this context. It has long been my view that every protest involving violence in favour of the abolition of the Border based on historic argument lessened rather than strengthened the prospect of a united Ireland. At least, we today are surely all agreed that this is not an issue that confronts us, whatever the long term future may hold. The Government's pledges in this respect stand and any changes can only come, if at all, by willing consent.
§ I want to stress—and I am sure that noble Lords who come from Ireland, whether it be North or South, will agree 1433 —how difficult it is for people who do not know Ireland to understand the deep issues and the deep feelings. We tend to be rather shocked at what goes on. Shocked we can be, but we should not be smug or superior about this, for the English are in no position to shelve their own responsibilities in the matter of Ireland. The Northern Irish come from tough and resolute stock, and there are some things which cannot be achieved other than by changes or developments over a generation, or indeed generations.
§ One thing that we can be thankful for—and I am sure it will be reflected in the debate to-day, whatever arguments may be developed—is that this is not an issue on which Opposition and Government are at loggerheads. It is easy to blame the Unionist Party, or indeed the House of Lords, for blocking Home Rule in past generations, but I think it would be futile for us to go back over that ground to-day. The important thing is the extent to which the Home Secretary has been able to enjoy national support, so very effectively expressed by Mr. Hogg. I am sure that this will continue to be reflected in this debate. I am sure we should also agree that the Home Secretary has displayed supreme ability, determination and patience.
§ I should like at this point, although many tributes have already been paid, to refer also to the work done, more silently but with great thoroughness and determination, by my noble friend Lord Stonham. He has been paid so many tributes already that I feel I ought not to go on paying them; but I am well aware that were it not for certain changes, and the passage of years, he would be making this speech, and I am glad that he will be participating in the debate.
§ The outcome of the last visit of the Home Secretary and Lord Stonham offers new hope to all the people of Northern Ireland. The course upon which their Government, with our support, have embarked provides the new deal for the Province to which the Home Secretary has referred. It must now be for the people of Northern Ireland to take advantage of this fresh opportunity that has been given to them and, by learning to live together in peace and harmony, to achieve that added prosperity which we all wish for them. I hope and pray 1434 that the effect of your Lordships' debate will be to encourage them in that direction and to send them good wishes for the future.
§ Moved, That this House takes note of the situation in Northern Ireland.—(Lord Shackleton.)
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord BROOKE of CUMNOR
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord the Leader of the House tabled this Motion to take note of the situation in Northern Ireland. It is wholly right that your Lordships should collectively take note of it, though individually I think the feeling of all of us is one of deeply deploring it. The noble Lord said in his speech that two days ago there had appeared to be no difference in the speeches in another place of the Home Secretary and Mr. Quintin Hogg. I think he was right and, so far as I am concerned, I trust that your Lordships will detect no policy difference between my speech and that of the Leader of the House. Indeed, though I will not go so far as to say it is an optimistic sign, it seems to me an important fact that, at any rate in this crisis in Northern Ireland, there appears to be complete unanimity of view between the main political Parties in Britain. If that had happened on some previous occasions, history might have been happier.
The fact that there is no difference of policy between Government and Opposition here makes me slightly less embarrassed in having to say that if this debate continues for some time I may possibly not be able to stay until the end of it, as I have an engagement elsewhere this evening which it is virtually impossible to break. But one of the speeches I am particularly looking forward to hearing is the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. It is not for me to pay fresh tribute to the noble Lord, but I know better perhaps than most how faithfully he has served a succession of chiefs at the Home Office in respect of Northern Ireland affairs during the last five years. I can assure the noble Lord that my friendship and admiration for him will not be altered by any change in his physical location.
I think we all need to remember this afternoon that most deplorable events are still happening in Northern Ireland. We need to keep constantly in our minds 1435 that to-day in our speeches we are not writing history but are acting in it. For myself, I doubt whether anything I or we might say here to-day would materially improve the situation in Northern Ireland. I am certainly convinced, however, that ill-judged remarks in this debate would have the power of worsening it, and I feel sure that all of us, true to the great traditions of this House, will guard against that danger.
It is vivid in my memory that when I first became Home Secretary, in the year 1962, I visited a number of police stations in villages just on the North side of the Border. There (bear in mind that this was 1962) I saw the entrances sandbagged; I saw the windows of the village police stations covered with steel shutters; I saw how the police were sleeping with guns at their sides. To me, coming from London, it was almost unbelievable that this was happening in the United Kingdom. It was happening, and inevitably so, because of I.R.A. raids. Those raids had been sporadically continuing for a considerable period. One police station which I visited had been badly damaged in a raid less than a year before I was there. Officially the I.R.A. campaign had been called off, but precautions inevitably were still being taken. There one saw in all its starkness the legacy of fear.
It was also a sharp reminder that there is a different history in Ireland, North and South, from the history of Britain. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that history is very much the essence of the situation in Northern Ireland. Yes, but it might also be said that in Ireland there is no history, only politics. Another experience I had when I used to visit Northern Ireland as Home Secretary has remained all these years imprinted in my memory. Here in Britain, where I was brought up and had spent all my political life until then, I thought of the Border as a fact of life. I quickly realised that the one thing the majority in Northern Ireland wanted to hear from me as Home Secretary—and as a member of the Government in Westminster—the one thing that would give rise to suspicion if I left it out of any of my speeches or my press conferences, was the assurance that the Border must remain, and there- 1436 fore that Northern Ireland would stay part of the United Kingdom.
It is not the Border that gave rise to the present violence, but the issue of the Border underlies much of the emotion in Northern Ireland. To state the causes of the present tragic situation in language which would be fully acceptable to everybody would tax the spiritual diplomacy of the Angel Gabriel. We might all accept a statement which is as objective as dispassionate observers can make it, a statement in the Report of the Cameron Commission, which was appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland on the advice of the Northern Ireland Government. In paragraph 6 of that Report it says:… the train of events and incidents which began in Londonderry on 5th October, 1968, has had as its background, on the one hand a widespread sense of political and social grievance, for long unadmitted and therefore unredressed by successive Governments of Northern Ireland, and on the other sentiments of fear and apprehension sincerely and tenaciously felt and believed of risks to the integrity and indeed continued existence of the state.The Cameron Commission examined the political and social grievances, and examined them, as it seemed to me, authoritatively. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has said a good deal about the steps which are being taken to deal with these and I therefore need not enumerate them. I must say that to somebody who has been Minister of Housing in this country it seems quite extraordinary that there should be places where the allocation of council houses is made by the action of one local councillor acting alone, and that on obviously religious grounds.
At the same time it is only fair to emphasise that the Cameron Commission found that in 90 per cent. of all the local authorities in Northern Ireland there was no ground for charges of discrimination. This and so much else has been highly localised. But it is utterly undesirable. There has been this rising sense of discrimination in the field of housing, in the field of local government, in the field of appointments to public offices, and so forth. The Government of Northern Ireland is solemnly pledged to put all these matters right. That is what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, gave your Lordships to understand, and I am convinced that it is true. It should have 1437 been done before, but I agree with him that it is something which can be done only from within, and not from without. There must be no discrimination on grounds of race, colour or religion anywhere in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, may I make one point to the noble Lord? He would agree that the Government of this country must accept the overall responsibility for seeing that there is no discrimination anywhere in the United Kingdom.
§ Lord BROOKE of CUMNOR
My Lords, I think the Government of the United Kingdom must accept their responsibility under the law as it stands, where ultimate responsibility, as the noble Earl knows, is resident in the United Kingdom Government. Let me say to the noble Earl that I have naturally searched my conscience and asked myself whether I, as Home Secretary, should have taken action with regard to Northern Ireland Government affairs at a time when things were absolutely quiet, action that might have released forces which I could not have claimed fully to understand, and which I am quite certain I could not have controlled. That is why I say these changes must be made from within Northern Ireland. No changes which were forced from without would be likely to go deep enough to stand the test of tension and of time.
The Northern Ireland Government have commended the Cameron Report for public reflection and study as a whole, and their determination to carry out the reforms called for in it is, I have not the slightest doubt, sincere. I believe that Major Chichester-Clark and his Government, in doing this, deserve the wholehearted support of all Parties in the Parliament at Westminster. At this point I cannot help expressing my personal regret that his distinguished predecessor, Captain Terence O'Neill, was the victim of forces operating personally against him which he could not overcome, when he was doing his damnedest to put things right.
Now we have also the Hunt Report, a masterly Report completed in astonishingly short time, accepted by the Northern Ireland Government, and I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, is 1438 right in saying that it has been positively welcomed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. That is a remarkable achievement, and I think we should record our gratitude both to our noble friend Lord Hunt and to the two distinguished police officers who assisted him. It is absolutely right that the protection of the Border, if it needs protection against the I.R.A., or any other raiders, should be a separate assignment committed to a separate force from the ordinary civil police. Also, for my part, I greatly admire the idea of there being a representative police authority interposed in future between the Northern Ireland Government and the R.U.C. After all, that is the common position in this country. Every police force outside London is accountable not to the Home Secretary, not to Her Majesty's Government, but to a police authority which is broadly based.
In Northern Ireland this development should remove any justification for the suspicion that the Royal Ulster Constabulary is an instrument of the ruling Party. I want to pay my own warm tribute to the Royal Ulster Constabulary—a very fine body of men—who have been under intense strain and, to our deep regret, have suffered casualties. If there have been within it a few black sheep who have not always lived up to its highest standards, nobody knows better than I do that that is liable to be true of any big police force anywhere in Britain, particularly in similar circumstances. These things are sub judice now, and I will not dwell on them. I know Sir Arthur Young, and just as I think that the Royal Ulster Constabulary is fortunate indeed to secure the services of such a leader at such a time, so I think Sir Arthur must have the utmost praise for being willing, at no notice at all, to accept such a position of responsibility at such a moment. This is in the very highest traditions of the Police Service.
I agree with what the Home Secretary said in his speech in another place two days ago, that the position of the Constabulary is very close to the heart of controversy in Northern Ireland at the present time. The Hunt Report, to the best of my knowledge, has been welcomed by all except extremists there. It is unreservedly welcomed on this side of the water, and it seems to me a hopeful sign that Cardinal Conway, the Promate 1439 of all Ireland, has come out publicly with encouragement to Catholics to be ready to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary in its new, unarmed state. It will be a great gain if the R.U.C. as a purely civil police force becomes, and is known to be, truly representative of the whole community in Northern Ireland, just as I believe the police in Britain are truly regarded by almost everyone as an impartial and unbiased body of men among us, representative of us all.
I am quite certain that we all want to join in high tribute to the troops now in Northern Ireland—these troops who are engaged on what must be one of the most distasteful tasks that can fall to the British Army: that of being exposed to murderous attack from violent men on both sides in endeavouring to keep the peace between extreme factions; and all this within the United Kingdom. They are liable to be on duty for intolerably long hours; their lives are in danger, and they will receive no gratitude from either set of bigoted extremists. We must show them how thankful we are to them for the intensely important service they are performing. I suggest that the best way we can let them know of that gratitude is to try to improve their conditions; and I beg the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, in his reply, to give assurance that the Government will do everything possible in that respect, with the winter coming on.
As to the future, as soon as violence can be contained and dies down an exceptional effort must be made to bring more employment to Northern Ireland. These present troubles cannot be cured by employment, but the process of recovery for Northern Ireland will be vastly helped if unemployment can be diminished. One realises that at this particular moment it might be thought to require an act of faith on anybody's part to invest money in Northern Ireland. But let nobody imagine that the whole of the Six Counties are aflame. That is a fundamental misapprehension. The television screen can blow up scenes of violence out of all proportion. We have experienced that in London before; and in the rest of London, except where the row was going on, there was entire peace. So it is over much the greater part of Northern Ireland to-day. The number of those who desire 1440 complete peace to return to Northern Ireland vastly outweighs the number of those who have an interest in maintaining strife. The vast majority of Northern Ireland is at peace, and longing to remain at peace. The violence has been appalling, but it is highly localised.
Just as Hitler was helped to build his Nazi empire in pre-war Germany by the discontent that sprang from long unemployment, so the purveyors of violence in Northern Ireland can turn the discontent arising from heavy local unemployment to their own purposes. A peaceful Ulster must be a well-employed Ulster. It must be an Ulster where discrimination of every sort is rooted out, and it must be an Ulster where the stirring up of religious hatred is seen and known to be utterly incompatible with professions of loyalty to Britain. Though I have never had my home in Ireland myself, my forebears migrated from Cheshire to Ulster some 370 years ago, and lived there for centuries. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his reference to this "tough and resolute stock". In the sense which I have described, I have Ulster Protestantism in my blood. To me loyalty is a noble concept, and I find nothing more false than the use of the word "loyalty" by men who are pouring oil on the flames of civil strife.
Finally, my Lords, the Border. I started with that and I come back to that. When all the reforms to which the Northern Ireland Government have set their hand have been carried out, as they will be carried out; and when, as I hope, the employment outlook has become far sunnier than it has been of late, there will still remain the fear about the Border. I would ask the British Government to consider most seriously what more can be done to allay deeply felt emotional fears about the future of the Border, even if to us they may seem senseless fears. The conservation of Northern Ireland as a Province within the United Kingdom is in the final resort a matter for the United Kingdom Government, and the strongest possible instrument of assurance is needed from the Government and Parliament here in Westminster that the Border will remain and that Northern Ireland will remain, certainly for as long as the majority of people of Northern Ireland make it clear by their votes that they wish it so.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Lord BYERS
My Lords, I should like to follow the two other noble Lords who have spoken, and very much in the same strain. No one except the chaos-mongers can fail to deplore the events in Ulster over the past year and in recent days. I think many of us, particularly in this House, are equally concerned that the trouble is by no means over and may be with us for a very long time. But from these Benches I wish unreservedly to support the Government in the way they have handled the situation, particularly in recent weeks. I think that the Home Secretary in particular has displayed a high degree of coolness, courage and wisdom in dealing with a very delicate and explosive situation. I should also like to say how much we admire Mrs. Callaghan for the courage she displayed in going with him into the situation on the most recent visit. I should also like to associate myself with the comments which have been made about the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. We on these Benches make no secret of the fact that we deplore his removal from the Government at a time when he was doing a first-class job—and I hope that that is reported in the right quarter, too.
Having said that, I think the best thing we can do in this House is to draw some of the lessons which may be learnt from these bitter experiences. The first lesson, certainly in point of time, is that a country like the United Kingdom, which prides itself on its belief in freedom and democracy, simply cannot afford to tolerate within its system political injustice for minorities. I am sure the answer to the question raised by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, is that the ultimate responsibility must rest here in the Palace of Westminster; and we cannot avoid it or evade it. If we do, and we allow this situation to continue, there will inevitably be an eruption sooner or later. We ought to bear this in mind when we are seeking to protect other minorities from political injustices or forms of racial or religious discrimination.
In the case of Ulster, the long-suffering disadvantages of the Catholic minority were well known, and I am afraid it is a terrible indictment of the Unionist Government that nothing was done. The Ulster Liberal Party, which was formed twelve years ago, primarily to press for these reforms, tried to do so, but the 1442 monopoly Government at Stormont took no notice of their regular pleading for reform; nor did they take notice of other movements formed for the same purpose. The Cameron Commission's recommendations and the reforms now promised by Major Chichester-Clark are almost identical with the Human Rights Bill presented to Stormont by Miss Sheelagh Munahan, the Liberal Member. Unfortunately, she has since lost her seat, but she presented her Human Rights Bill on five occasions in that Parliament, and each time it was voted down out of hand. It is the old story, my Lords, of nothing for a long time, and then a little toc late.
This is one of the lessons we must learn. It is the same with students. I do not want to turn this into a Party political debate, but the mass inertia of the Conservatives feeds the very problem that it fails to recognise until an explosion actually fakes place. A second lesson, I believe, is that clear thinking and courage by those ultimately responsible can ameliorate matters. In this category I place the appointment and relatively swift working of the Cameron Commission. Apart from its speed, the open and blunt way in which it presented its findings is greatly to be admired.
It does, however, raise the question as to what can be done by society to reduce the damage which irresponsible elements can cause when a difficult situation arises. How ought we to deal with those who seem to enjoy provoking violence or seeking self-advertisement, even though it may result, if indirectly, in loss of life? One thing we can do is to give the maximum publicity to the condemnation by a Commission such as the Cameron Commission of such individuals and organisations which deserve such condemnation.
I think, too, that political organisations—and I include in that term civil rights movements—have a responsibility for dealing with their own extremists who seek to turn non-violent protests into violent ones. In fact it is this apparent inability to control the activity of people "along the line" which causes many of us a great deal of concern. If genuine reforms are to be achieved (and I believe that the hierarchy of the Ulster Unionists has indeed been sincerely shocked into accepting the need for reforms) they must surely accept the responsibility for rooting 1443 out the supporters and sympathisers of people like Craig, Paisley and Bunting, and others from the local councils, from the constituency associations and from the various sensentive spheres of public life, in which they can do so much damage. Until this is done there is little hope of eliminating the friction which is bound to exist.
Further than this, I think we should recognise that much of the resentment and frustration arises from the monopoly position of the Unionists and the denial of proper representation to any others. I come to my usual hobby-horse, but if there was ever a case, a strong case, for instituting proportional representation into the electoral system, it must be now. If noble Lords will allow me to deploy this argument briefly I should like to point out that not only will this afford a chance of fair representation for the minorities but it will give the moderates of the majority Party a better chance of being represented. At the moment, the extremists and the near-extremists have an influence out of all proportion to their numbers, because they control the nomination of candidates. Moderate Unionists, faced with only one candidate of their Party, instead of a multi-member situation, feel obliged to vote for him; and, as I have said, the nomination is controlled by the extremists. This situation must be faced up to; it cannot simply be laughed off. There may be other ways of dealing with it, but proportional representation is one of them.
One of the things that worries me is the lack of a proper Opposition to the Unionists. I think that the Labour Party has two Members in Stormont, whereas on a proportional representation basis they might have anything from 8 to 12. That would be the beginning of an Opposition. I believe that this would be a useful move. It is more difficult to see what can be done about the non-Unionists, condemned in the Cameron Report, but certainly the political world should not easily be allowed to forget the terms in which they, too, were condemned.
I want to say just one or two words, very briefly because I think that enough has already been said, about the Hunt Report. I am quite sure that the tributes that have been paid to the Royal Ulster 1444 Constabulary are well deserved, but, as with all police forces there are sufficient matters of concern to indicate that radical changes are needed. What I cannot understand is why this situation, in which one had a force which, as The Times said last Saturday, had the character of an armed gendarmerie rather than a civil police force and an army, was not faced up to many years ago. It may have been appropriate in 1922 but it must have been realised subsequently that this was not the right organisation for a situation like Ulster.
In my view the Hunt Committee has done a most important service in pointing the difference between the role of a civil police force and the para-military role of protecting the State against subversion. It is obviously essential that the Royal Ulster Constabulary should come far closer to the unarmed civilian police force of the rest of the United Kingdom as soon as possible. I hope that the abolition of the B Specials will be carried out fairly speedily, despite the open opposition that there will be to this move. Success will depend upon the determination with which the Unionist leadership can convince their followers that this must be accepted, and on the extent to which they can succeed in restraining the extreme Protestants from causing violent demonstrations.
Before I leave the subject of the police I should like to welcome the appointment of Sir Arthur Young. This is not only right but imaginative, and most appropriate. But I should have thought that he will require a good deal more help from this country than is clear at the present time, if he is to get a new spirit into the R.U.C. without delay. I am wondering whether there are not many Irishmen in British police forces to-day, fully trained and having our traditions, who might be encouraged to move to Ulster on short-service contracts to replace some of the hidebound officers and men of the R.U.C. There may be within their ranks a number of Irish Catholic policemen who might also go there to strengthen the forces in the initial period.
It certainly will not be an easy task, my Lords, either for the police or for the Government, to calm down the militants of both sides; but the key must surely be to proceed with the reforms as speedily 1445 as possible. And here I would make a plea to the Catholics in Ulster to respond as speedily and as forcefully as they possibly can. I think that enough has been said on the economic side about the whole question of poverty. We must make a real attack upon this, and I hope that the measures which have been announced by the Government will encourage people to go and set up business in Northern Ireland. I believe that the main problem is to try to clean up the local constituency associations, local government and local councils; to get rid of the bigotry which has pervaded them in the past. In this the Ulster Unionist movement has a very high responsibility, and I am sure that it will be tremendously supported by the Conservative Party in this country.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Lord STONHAM
My Lords, I crave your customary indulgence for yet another maiden speech—the fifth that I have made in this very Chamber. The first was as a Commons Back-Bencher in 1945; the second as an Opposition Peer from the Back Benches in 1958; a little later the third was from the Front Opposition Benches; the fourth was five years ago from the Government Benches, and now I start a fifth career. From clogs to clogs in 24 years
In that period of 24 years there has never in peace time, in my view, been a situation within the boundaries of the United Kingdom so fraught with danger for one and a half millions of our people. I emphasise "our people" because so many of us all too readily forget that Northern Ireland is just as much a part of the United Kingdom as is Yorkshire. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary and the right honourable gentleman Mr. Quintin Hogg made two great speeches in another place on Monday. It does not matter what they said so much as what they conveyed, and that, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was the unity of the major Parties at Westminster on this issue. That is of supreme importance, of course of great importance to the Government of Northern Ireland, but perhaps even more important to that section of the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland which, in my view, presents the only real danger to the success of the efforts which are now being made.
1446 My noble Leader, in his usual clear, authoritative and lucid way, has described what has been happening in the recent months, particularly the decisions of the last few days. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, have made speeches with which I am in entire agreement, but perhaps I may be allowed to reserve judgment on the recrudescence of proportional representation, which was first in the 1922 Act. My only reason for saying that is not because I am unwilling to discuss these issues, but because to-day I believe we have to consider and concentrate on people and not Parties; it is the welfare of people that we are concerned with and the great urgency of seeing that those things are done which are of so much importance to these people of ours over the sea. So, my Lords, I will not cover any of that ground again; it would only waste the time of the House; so many of the things that I might otherwise have said are already before you, and they are truly right.
My Lords, I have for some years been the Minister with special responsibilities for this lovely little country. I have been present in the Cabinet rooms on both sides of the Irish Sea during all the discussions, and I was in Northern Ireland as recently as last Saturday. So now that I am free from my ministerial skin perhaps your Lordships may not take it amiss if I give, as a Back-Bencher beholden to no one but my own conscience, a frank review, as I see it, of the situation—if you like, a Back-Bench report.
After the first visit which the Home Secretary and I paid together to Northern Ireland in August The Times leader of August 30 said that Mr. Callaghan's remarkable progress round the Six Counties gave him a fair claim to the title of the Irish Avatar. I may not have said that correctly; if not, tell me afterwards, not now. Byron was never one of my favourites. The Times leader added:He did indeed descend into the fallen world of Ulster politics like the incarnation of a spirit inhabiting a different plane of political reality. With a sure political touch he became everybody's confidant, the embodiment of moderation and helpful concern, an object of hope for those who want both peace and justice in the province. Without appearing to usurp the authority of the Stormont Government, he stood as in some way guarantor of the impartial enforcement of law and order, and the removal of legitimate 1447 grievances. He has acted beneficially upon the public mood of the province.That is the high-flown language of The Times leader writer, but, my Lords, every single word is true. It is a remarkable description in advance, given on August 30, of what my right honourable friend has achieved.
Cur August visit was a visit of promise. Our October visit was a visit of fulfilment. But even on Thursday, when we were there, and there had been no fulfilment, the Opposition M.P.s and Unionist M.P.s alike were coming to me and saying, "We are full of hope, we are confident". The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, spoke about the great stretches of Northern Ireland where there was no trouble. That is literally true. If you are travelling through Northern Ireland the difficulty is to find trouble unless you go to the particular spots where you know it is. But the atmosphere of the people was so unfeigned and so encouraging and so remarkable.
On our previous visit I spent all my time seeing deputations. On the last occasion I was with the Home Secretary and the extraordinary thing was that wherever we went the people would smile and wave from house windows, come up alongside in cars wherever we stopped, with never a wry word at any time. I said to my right honourable friend, "How is it that they know this car; there are no badges". He said—this was a bit of understatement—"Perhaps they have seen me on television". All I can say is that there was this great change compared to the situation six weeks earlier when those same M.P.s in my room at the Home Office could not see a way through, could not see any hope, and when the newspapers were saying, "A good job has been done, but we do not think success is possible". I say that by Saturday future success was not only possible but probable. I thought it only right that I should say these things about my right honourable friend because I was there. No doubt others could have done as well; I am quite sure that no one could have done better than he did.
But of course he has not done it alone. I know that there is always collective Cabinet responsibility, but this time Her Majesty's Government, the Prime Minister 1448 and all his Ministers, acted as one man. Eight Departments were involved, and whatever was needed was instantly available. And of course there was the transformed Northern Ireland Government, which has grown in stature every day. I have to confess that even after the six hours meeting that we had at 10 Downing Street I had some doubts about the sincerity or the determination of some of the Ministers from Northern Ireland. I do not doubt them now, not at all. Stormont has a united determined Cabinet led by an honest man. It is also a courageous Cabinet, every member of which is subjected to pressures which are quite unknown to us; and not only they but their families and their homes. I suppose every Home Office Minister receives threats of murder and mayhem. I did. But in Northern Ireland the threats are real, and any Protestant M.P., trade unionist or prominent citizen who declares for justice is subjected to them. It is easy for us to talk, but as one Press man said to the Home Secretary, "You should live here, mate". You have got to be there and you have got to know the people to realise just what it is like and what life they have had for fifty years.
Also, we must not forget that almost every Minister in Northern Ireland has to fight a personal prejudice which he took in with his mother's milk. Yet our discussions were the most constructive and friendly that we could wish for. They made all the decisions; there was nothing cut and dried in advance; everything had to be discussed. It was an extraordinary experience during our discussions that there was often, as it were, an instinctive reaction; and then you could almost see them rejecting that reaction as unworthy and coming to the decision on the only course that would ensure that justice could be seen to be done. There was nothing grudging if they changed their minds. As soon as they decided they were eager and added points not previously thought of. We were sitting on opposite sides of the table, but it felt like being in one team, and they made the decision. That is why I have confidence in the future. I say that despite the recent statement by Captain O'Neill, the former Prime Minister, thatThe future of democracy in the Province is dark indeed".1449 It will be dark only if there are too many faint hearts.
I know what has been said about the I.R.A., and I know that there are people there who wish to use these troubles for objectives which no one in this House would support. But, apart from those (and they are few), there will be no trouble from the Catholics or from Opposition M.P.s, providing the promises are implemented as swiftly as the Government intend, and indeed as they must be. Sir Arthur Young, the first police officer to enter Bogside since August 12, was greeted with cheers and hand claps. Unbelievably, incredibly, there were cries of "Long live the police!"—in the Bogside! When the Home Secretary asked the Bogsiders to look after Sir Arthur he was cheered to the echo. Here again, there is the hand of my right honourable friend. There were misgivings. There was the question, "How can you get into the Bogside?". The Home Secretary knew. He simply walked in with Sir Arthur Young, well knowing, or believing—and he was quite right, as he so often was—what the reaction would be.
But there is a real threat to success and to peace and happiness in Northern Ireland in the activities of extreme Right-wing Unionist M.P.s and from the Unionist Associations who are determinedly attacking any Member who supports tolerance and justice. Noble Lords opposite will know that you get an extraordinary and most worthy kind of person at Tory Party Conferences, a minority who sometimes succeed in passing strange resolutions.
§ Lord STONHAM
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Lindgren. Indeed, that is a salutary reminder, because I was not introducing Party politics here but was merely wanting to say that those ladies and gentlemen at those conferences are as nothing in the strength of their prejudices compared with the kind of people I am talking about in Northern Ireland. In my view, they do not think, because they have not the necessary mental equipment. It is scarcely possible to change them, but they are a distinct menace. They are a menace particularly because they are working through the Unionist Associa- 1450 tions, and those Members of Parliament who speak out bravely for tolerance and justice are, almost to a man and woman, assured that if the election came now they would not be renominated.
This is a factor in regard to which we here can do little to help, because it is a domestic Party struggle. But I think we could help if we make it crystal clear that no Party at Westminster, of any political colour, will accept anything less than complete equality of opportunity and equal justice for everyone in Ireland. If we say that in this debate unitedly, then I believe it can have a considerable effect. Indeed, judging by the deputations which I saw, some twenty of them from every walk of life in Northern Ireland, this is what the overwhelming majority of the people want. But of course the overwhelming majority of the people do not control the political machine. Certainly what I have said now I believe represents the view of the great majority of the people in Northern Ireland.
However, we have to make allowance for the fact that the ugly, but indisputable, facts revealed by the Cameron Report, the immediate acceptance of the Hunt Report with all that it implies for long-cherished beliefs, the new laws and administrative changes designed to sweep away intolerable discrimination and privilege in many fields, have combined to stun many Protestants, many good people. In less than two months they have had to accept a burden of guilt for a situation which has built up over fifty years. To their everlasting credit, the majority have accepted it, together with the need to put things right quickly. But a substantial minority will not surrender without a struggle the advantage they gain from the injustices inherent in the present set-up. They cherish the patronage implicit in the ability to discriminate, to allocate houses and to give out jobs unfairly. They know in their hearts that the B Specials were not so much defenders of the State as preservers of their perks. Equally, they know that the Border is not under attack Nor will it be. But the waving of the Union Jack and the beating of the Loyalist drum is their way of implying that the minority is disloyal.
I agree with what my noble Leader and the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said, and what many deputations of Protestants and Catholics said 1451 to me; namely, that if there were a referendum about the Border to-day, 85 per cent. of the people would vote to stay in the United Kingdom. But there are some poor—literally poor—benighted people who can apparently see no tragic contradiction in carrying Union Jacks when they advance to attack British troops. Their leaders are not so simple. They stop at nothing. They are prepared to risk civil war rather than live under what to them are the intolerable conditions of justice for all. At their forefront is the pseudo-cleric Paisley, who besmirches our flag every time he touches it and who so misuses the Scriptures that they sound to me like blasphemy.
My Lords, I am a Protestant and a former churchwarden, but I cannot summon in myself the Christian charity of the Catholic priest who told me last Friday that he prays for Mr. Paisley every night. Next morning, the Saturday morning, the Irish paper reported Mr. Paisley as saying thatthe Protestants would resist disbandment"—as he called itof the U.S.C. and the destruction of the R.U.C.Asked if the objection would be peaceful, he said, "You must wait on events." The same papers reported that angry mobs had roamed the Shankill Road singing,Paisley is our leader We shall not be moved.We did not have to wait long on events. That night there was a raging gun battle, including machine guns; three people were killed, including a police officer, and 64 were wounded.
I say that is cause and effect that can be neither ignored nor tolerated. People who incite poor people to such action in my view have blood on their hands. The proposed new measure against incitement will be a vehicle for dealing with those who war with words. It must be applied. There are some who counsel that Mr. Paisley should not be made a martyr. My answer is that a Government ceases to be a Government when it fails to implement the law. As for those who fight with weapons, they should remember the Home Secretary's warning, that those who live by the gun may perish by the gun.
1452 I thoroughly endorse everything that has been said about the troops and about the R.U.C.—there are some wonderful chaps in it. Two or three hours after Sir Arthur Young took over they came to him and said "Let us get rid of our guns now". The next morning the police at Stormont had no guns at all. There are great changes for the better there, and I endorse what has been said. Let no one question the competence and determination of the troops and the R.U.C. under their new leader, and their confidence in their ability to deal with the forces of disorder and to search out and seize illegal weapons. They are pledged to establish and maintain law and order and they will. But it is doubly tragic that all this is happening in the United Kingdom and that our British boys are risking their lives to quell armed rioters who are claiming to fight under the British flag and claiming that they are doing it out of loyalty to the same Queen and the same country that the troops serve.
We have heard a lot about this, and I very much regret that these pressing questions of law and order and our preoccupation with political matters and issues of security have tended to obscure the substantial progress made in other fields: the economic measures to increase employment—it is quite right that unemployment is the basis of great trouble—the outlawing of job discrimination and, most important, the setting up of a central housing organisation to assume responsibility for the management and building of all publicly-owned housing in Northern Ireland.
The first deputation I met in August was the Northern Ireland Housing Trust, set up by the Government, responsible for 40 per cent. of publicly owned housing in Northern Ireland and the one organisation I found which was trusted by everyone. I formed the view then that the one and only possible answer to the problem of public housing in Northern Ireland was a central housing authority on these lines, and I am delighted to think that that is what the Northern Ireland Government have decided to do. They will build a lot more houses; they will be trusted by everyone; they can pay for more efficient management, and I am sure that in a very short 1453 time one of the great grievances will be removed.
Education also is to be administered centrally. This is a subject that was not discussed. I understand why it was so pressing to put first things first, but in the long run education is a subject of vital importance. We can go to any town in this country and see white and coloured schoolchildren mixing happily and naturally (there are no feelings among them then) and I should like to see Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren going to school together. I say nothing whatever against the voluntary schools; it is right and proper that if the parents wish, their children should go either to a Catholic voluntary school or to a Protestant voluntary school, and it is right that both should be given the same 80 per cent. level of assistance from State funds and that all the teachers in those schools should be paid by State funds. That is right; but what is wrong goes back to the failure of the 1923 Education Act and the 1930 Education Act. It meant that all the county schools—what we call the State schools—were Protestant schools for Protestant children, and it was impossible in the religious situation (and I understand this) for the Catholics to go there.
I ask your Lordships to obtain a copy of this booklet, Education Administration in Northern Ireland, and read it. It was produced by the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, who came to see me on my first visit to Northern Ireland. The Ulster Teachers' Organisation came as well. Because time was short, I asked them to set out all the facts they could in a memorandum, which they very kindly did. I learn that that memorandum was printed in September and circulated to their 3, 400 members. It was published yesterday and made available to the public, which is why I am able now to refer to it.
Education since 1920 has been a tragic story of discrimination and injustice which, in my view, has had a marked effect on, and is a major reason for, the problems with which we are now confronted. For example, in the administrative educational headquarters of County Tyrone to-day, a county which I think has a majority of Catholics, there are 77 salaried staff, 1454 but only one is a Catholic. In the education committees, which, of course, have great influence, out of 194 members only 25 are Catholic—13 per cent. Of school inspectors, out of a total of 53, 6 are Catholic. In the Association of Education Committees, of 63 members 3 are Catholic. That is all in one county. There are 5 counties without a single Catholic representative. On the executive council of the Association of Education Committees, which consists of 34 members, there are no Catholic representatives.
Here I am expressing an entirely personal opinion—and I am glad that I am free to express a personal opinion on this vital subject although I might well have said the same things as a Minister. In State schools in Northern Ireland I should like to see the position that we have here, which permits Catholics and Protestants to attend the same school without affront to their conscience, because if they know each other as children they are less likely to shun each other as adults. I mentioned this briefly on one occasion to Cardinal Conway, a big man in every sense of the word and a compassionate and saintly one. There are obvious difficulties, but I should hope—and perhaps my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack when he comes to reply can say if there is a hope—that an initiative could be taken to start a conference where the difficulties in the way of the achievement of what so many people would like to achieve can be faced and consideration given to what steps can be taken. It will not do any immediate good except to goodwill, but it will have a great effect on the future.
I have found the people of Northern Ireland of all religions a lovable, warm, kindly people. They are part of us, and we must give every help we can and sustain a close interest in this part of our national family across the water. I hope that the message which will go to them from your Lordships' House is that we will give every help and sustain them. Let us also say to Major Chichester-Clark and his Cabinet: "Go to in with courage and in honour. While you work with a will to wipe out the shameful things which happened in the past we will back you to the limit, and when that job is done democracy in Northern Ireland will be able to take care of itself."
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Lord RATHCAVAN
My Lords, following the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I should like to add my own personal congratulations to the many he has already received on his recent appointment to the Privy Council, and to express the appreciation of all the people of Northern Ireland for what he has done for that Province over the last four or five years while he has been at the Home Office. We are very sorry to lose him, because we look upon him as a friend of Ulster.
In the few words that I propose to address to the House I should like first of all to make some comments about the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland; then to make some comments about the Roman Catholic minority, and finally to give an assessment of my own view on the present situation. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said that the great majority of Northern Ireland is to-day completely peaceful. That is true. Ninety-five per cent. of the Province is living in complete peace and harmony; it is only in the few trouble spots like Belfast and Londonderry that these riots are taking place. To my mind it is abhorrent beyond belief that, in these modem days, a kind of religious war between the Protestants and Catholics should be taking place in the United Kingdom. It is an appalling situation: it is 400 years behind the times. On the other hand, we must not forget that for over a hundred years Protestant v. Catholic dominated political thought and action in this country, in England. All that has now gone, but it was not until 1829 that Catholic emancipation in this country came about.
I want to say a word or two about the two communities in Northern Ireland, and that means a very short incursion into history. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that he was not going into history, and I think he was right. But it is very difficult to deal with the situation in Ulster without some reference to what has happened in the past. It is of course well known to all Members of this House that, originally, the Protestant element in Northern Ireland all came from this side of the Irish Channel. When the wars in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I came to an end, in the early 1600s, there was not a Protestant in Ulster. After 1456 Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone was defeated at the Battle of Kinsale, in, I think, 1601, all the lands of the old Catholic Irish in the North of Ireland were confiscated by the British Crown.
James I then carried out one of the greatest colonial enterprises of all time, by sending Protestant people over from England and Scotland to take up grants of land which had been confiscated from the defeated Roman Catholics. That is how the Protestants came to Northern Ireland. That colonial experiment, as I am sure noble Lords know, was very largely assisted by the City of London Companies of that day—Companies such as the Drapers, the Mercers, the Cloth-workers, and so on, all of whom were granted land in the county which was then known as Derry and which, because it was colonised from London, became Londonderry as it is to-day.
My Lords, what sort of people are these Ulster Protestants? I have no use for the thugs and hooligans of the Shankill Road in Belfast—largely drunk, according to Paisley—who fired on our soldiers and police. Those men are the dregs of society. But the great majority of the Protestant community are decent law-abiding people with a very great tradition behind them, as has already been said. They have supplied distinguished soldiers and statesmen to this country, and, incidentally, have had a tremendous impact on the history of the United States of America to which many of them emigrated in the early 1700s. They became known in the United States as the Scotch-Irish, and they played a great part in the development of the United States and in its War of Independence. I have seen it stated, so far as I know correctly, that no fewer than 10 Presidents of the United States were of Ulster origin.
The Ulster Protestants at home became the majority Party in the Province, and a pattern grew up, known as Protestant ascendancy, under which, admittedly, serious mistakes have been made in the treatment of the Catholic minority. Those mistakes must now be put right. Recent events, however, have been proceeding so fast that the average decent Protestant does not know where he stands: he is bewildered and in a state of uncertainty and disquiet. Two days ago, The Times had a leading article on Northern 1457 Ireland, and I should like to quote a few words from it. It said:In consultation with Mr. Callaghan and his officials Major Chichester-Clark's Government pledged itself to carry out a programme of social and institutional change of a radicalism which is not fully appreciated on this side of the Irish Sea. The Protestants of Ulster suddenly find themselves in a world of different public political assumptions, different objectives, and uncertain prospects. Their settled ideas of their own society are authoritatively contradicted.Above all the role of their regular and special constabulary is about to be drastically revised.So much for the Protestant majority.
I should like now to say a word about the Roman Catholic minority. They, of course, are the descendants of the old Celtic native Irish. They have never accepted the Constitution of Northern Ireland under the Act of 1920. They have always worked and striven for Ulster's incorporation in the Irish Republic. With some honourable exceptions, they have always held aloof from the life of the community. I remember very well that when, during the war, Belfast was bombed twice by German planes, my wife was asked to find homes in my part of County Antrim for Catholic children from Belfast who had been bombed out. She naturally went to see the local priest. He said: "I will have nothing to do with that; it will be helping the British Government". However, she managed to find a more enlightened Roman Catholic schoolmaster—quite a different type—who co-operated, and homes were found for these children.
§ Lord SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord purely on a point of history, since we are deeply in history? It is also worth recalling that the Dublin fire brigade came up to put out the fires in Belfast.
§ Lord KILBRACKEN
My Lords, may I also ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that in percentage terms there were more volunteers to the British Forces from the Republic of Ireland during the war than there were from the North?
§ Lord RATHCAVAN
For 120 years—that is to say, from the Union of 1800 up to 1920—Ulster was governed directly 1458 from Westminster, and much of what exists in the Province to-day is a relic of that British rule. For example, the Royal Ulster Constabulary are modelled on the old Royal Irish Constabulary who were a British force, an armed force, a semi-military force, just as the Ulster Constabulary were until a few days ago. We hear a lot of talk about Catholic ghettoes, like the Bogside area in Londonderry—and I believe it is a terrible place. But all that existed under British rule. I see it has been suggested that Ulster should again be subject to direct rule from London. It must not be forgotten that what Ulster strove for in the years 1912 to 1914 was not a Parliament of its own. It did not Want a Parliament: it wanted to remain ruled directly by Britain. Eventually it had to accept a Parliament because a Parliament was given to the South. It had to accept it in the interests, as it was then thought, of peace in Ireland. Having obtained this home rule, Ulster would now, of course, be very reluctant to give it up.
Should Britain again assume direct government in Ulster? In my view it should, but only in either of two sets of circumstances: first, if the promised reforms were not being carried out; and, second, if the extreme Protestant element under Paisley were ever to gain control. In those circumstances I think that direct government again from Westmonster would be desirable. As to the first, the present situation is that the Chichester-Clark Government have accepted all the promised reforms, the Cameron Report and now the Hunt Report also. But as I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned, there are signs at this moment that the Right Wing of the Unionist Party in Ulster may refuse to follow this line, and that there may be a split in the Unionist Party. Whether or not this will lead to the downfall of the ChichesterClark Government remains to be seen. What has happened, I wonder, to all those people in Ulster—thousands and thousands of them—who rallied to the support of Captain O'Neill when he made his broadcast in favour of greater liberality and reforms? We do not seem to hear them now, and I am afraid that in the last six, eight or ten months there has been a hardening of opinion on the Unionist side.
1459 The Home Secretary, Mr. Callaghan, together with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, did a very fine job in Ulster, and everyone there should be grateful to him, as I know they are. I can also find no fault with the action of the British Government. We are grateful, too, as so many noble Lords have already said, to the Army and to the police for the way in which they have stood up to the most trying and difficult circumstances.
It is very much the fashion now to criticise what the Ulster Government have done during the last fifty years. They have made mistakes. They have, admittedly now, not treated the minority as it should have been treated. But on the whole they have every right to be proud of much that they have accomplished. They have carried out a tremendous programme of social and industrial reform. New and modern roads have been constructed, quite a number of them motorways. The standard of even the smallest roads in Northern Ireland is of the very highest order. Those who know the Province will, I think, agree that the roads there, although there are a great many of them, are as good as those in any other part of the United Kingdom, if not better.
In spite of all that has been said about housing, a large number of new houses have been built in the last fifty years. Not enough, I know; but compared with what the situation used to be the difference is extraordinary. Every village now has its new housing estate. Many new modern schools have been built, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. New industries have been attracted, new factories. Great British concerns like I.C.I. and Courtaulds, and American ones like Dupont, Monsanto, and Chemstrand, and many more smaller industries have come to Northern Ireland in the last twenty years or so, largely through the really splendid work performed by Mr. Faulkner when he was Minister of Development in attracting industries from the U.S.A., from this country and from Europe. Before him, Sir Basil Brooke, as he then was (now Lord Brookeborough), also succeeded in bringing a number of new industries into the Province.
But, unfortunately, in spite of that, there is still a very high measure of unemployment and, as has already been 1460 stated, one of the really urgent things to be done in the future is on the side of employment for the people. I believe that the immediate future in Northern Ireland is critical. One can only hope and pray that moderation will prevail. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that the great mass of the Ulster people want peace and quiet; but it is difficult sometimes to get them to make their voices heard. One can only hope that in the months and years that lie ahead moderate counsels will prevail and that a happier future will be seen to come to all the people of the North of Ireland.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, might I put the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, right—
§ Lord SHACKLETON
My Lords, the noble Viscount really ought not, in accordance with our custom, to start a debate with another noble Lord. We have an order of speakers and my noble friend Lord Longford is about to speak. The noble Viscount will have a chance to speak later.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan. If anyone in this House has a right to speak about Northern Ireland, it is the noble Lord. On Monday, I had the pleasure of being received by his son, the Minister of Agriculture in the Stormont Government. His son is regarded as the most liberal Member of that Government. Whether the noble Lord is regarded as the most liberal Member of this House is not for me to say, but at any rate his son enjoys that particular reputation. His son was telling me that he is frequently mistaken—I mean, in a physical sense—for me. This of course is gratifying, for he is a young man—not yet 60. And in a country where bullets are apt to fly a little freely it is much safer for me to be mistaken for him than for him to be mistaken for me; for I am not in the least a popular figure in some of those areas. I have therefore a great personal link with the noble Lord's family.
I am not going to follow him on the subject of discrimination. In December 1461 of last year, in a debate in your Lordships' House (and I have given him notice of this reference), he said:… I have grown up and lived with the Irish question all my life."—which is true.I am against discrimination. Whether or not it exists in Northern Ireland, I cannot say."—[Official Report, 3/12/68, col. 138.]The noble Lord said last year that he could not say whether there was any discrimination in Northern Ireland. Well, my Lords, time has moved on, and the noble Lord with it. We are all wiser than we were last December. However, I am not going to follow him on these debating lines.
I should like to express my regard for—well, let me say, for all the speakers; but especially to pay a tribute to my noble friend Lord Stonham. He must be wishing there were some synonym for the word "tribute". It must be getting rather tedious for him. But he knows what I feel about his work at the Home Office and also about his dealings with Northern Ireland. I thought that he gave a very grave warning to the House, a warning which was very carefully given but well-informed. The noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, who is also extremely well-informed, from a different angle, warned us of some of the tendencies in the Unionist Party at the present time.
I will not follow up with my noble friend Lord Stonham the discussion about Catholic education. I have myself sent eight children to Catholic schools; I am not ready to abandon that practice in the case of my grandchildren—if I can ever afford to pay for them. So I am not going to take instruction from my noble friend on that point. He dressed it up in a very attractive way and made it seem a sort of a special opportunity for the Catholics. Nevertheless, what I would say is that there is no question of the Catholics' abandoning their schools in Northern Ireland before they abandon them in England. But where I think something could be done, something which will appeal to the noble Lord, in view of his interest in youth, is on the side of the youth service or its equivalent there. I feel that much more could be done outside schools, in youth clubs, dance halls and so on, to bring young people together more. I think 1462 that a great deal could be accomplished on those lines.
My Lords, just before I rose to speak, somebody asked me whether I thought my speech would do more good than harm. That is always a difficult question to answer in advance. And even afterwards one is sometimes not quite sure. But I can promise the House that I shall speak much more moderately than my convictions would suggest to me was proper. I cannot disguise the fact that for many years I have deplored three manifest evils in the Ulster scene without for a moment disparaging or trying to belittle all that has been achieved. I hasten to say to the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan—and it is only fair to point it out—that the Cameron Commission, which many of us accepted as a "bit of Bible", referred to the marked social and economic progress of Northern Ireland. If one is criticising the Province one should mention, even in passing, so much that is good. But I have denounced for many years three features of the scene: the original and continuing partition of the country; the inclusion within the Six Counties of at least two counties that would have much preferred to be with the South; and the gross discrimination against the minority—which is new, it appears, beginning to be generally accepted, although it was not accepted until quite recently.
To the Home Secretary and his general handling of the situation I certainly pay high tribute; but he made this revealing statement in the House of Commons on Monday. He said:… we are now engaged in creasing a single standard of citizenship"—We are now engaged … "! Now—at the end of 1969!—throughout Northern Ireland. That is a solid foundation upon which to raise one state".—[Official Report, Commons, 13/10/69, col. 63.]Yes, indeed! But what has been going on for fifty years?
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has been called away, but I am bound to repeat the point that I put to him earlier; has it not been the ultimate responsibility of this country, and particularly this Government, to see that there was a single standard of citizenship all these years? I am bound to say that—and, Heaven knows! I must bear 1463 my full share, and perhaps rather more than an ordinary share, for the failure in this respect: because, after all, we are now well aware that at least one-third of the population in Northern Ireland have been treated for close on fifty years as second-class citizens. That is how we—and again I bear my full share of the responsibility—have discharged our trust.
Well, my Lords, what about the future? As the Home Scretary said in the same speech, now everybody can go forward. I entirely agree with that. Let us all now go forward and not spend too long dwelling on the past. Perhaps in this connection the House will forgive me, and will think it not inappropriate, if I say a few words about the position of the Irish Republic. At Brighton the Home Secretary made some rather cryptic, though encouraging, remarks on that subject. He said that the speeches of Mr. Lynch, the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, in relation to the North, and of Major Chichester-Clark, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, in his comments on that speech, in relation to the South, at least offered a ray of hope that it would be possible to lift this problem to a new dimension. So it certainly seems from the speech of the Home Secretary that the British Government recognise that this problem cannot be fully tackled, or ever solved, unless in some way or other, at some moment or other, the Irish Republic is brought into the discussion.
Mr. Quintin Hogg, a much-respected former Leader of this House, said on Monday—I hope that I may have the permission of the House to quote verbatim a few sentences from the speech of someone who is not a Minister in another place, but, of course, if necessary I will paraphrase it:I hope that Her Majesty's Government will think seriously about bridge building with the Republic to the South … I hope that they, too "—he was referring to the Government of the Republic—will respond to a gesture of friendship and to a suggestion from the Westminster Government that we may open a new page of happiness to us all."—[Official Report, Commons 13/10/69, cols. 72-3]:So Mr. Quintin Hogg, speaking for the Opposition, called on the Government to make some gesture of friendship towards the Irish Republic; and I hope that the 1464 Lord Chancellor, when he winds up the debate to-day, will be able to say something along those lines because I know that what was said by Mr. Quintin Hogg was, as was natural, well received in Dublin. From such knowledge as I possess, though I am not in official communication with anybody, I know that any gesture of this kind from our Government here would be met at least halfway in Dublin.
The prevailing mood in Dublin (and here again possibly I am in a position to say this, though perhaps not in such a good position as the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, who intervened so appropriately) is one of a desire to help. I shall not be misunderstood if I say that tragedies like those of Saturday—and I join in all the expressions of sympathy regarding those who lost their lives or suffered bereavement—are felt with a special poignancy, with a special nearness, in Southern Ireland. In Dublin at this moment they are not concerned with long-term implications; their immediate desire is to do everything in their power to reduce tension, to diminish suffering, to prevent further bloodshed, whether among Protestants or Catholics, or whom you wish. In this spirit they feel entitled to be consulted; not, Heaven knows! in order to win some hypothetical argument about status or establish some claim on the future. They believe—and I am sure they are right—that they in the South have much to contribute in terms of understanding and influence. If I may quote Mr. Quintin Hogg again, these are his words (col. 72):
the people in Dublin—
have their own lines of communication with the North which are not quite our own.But they cannot make that contribution, with the best will in the world—
§ Lord SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but is he quoting from something that Mr. Quintin Hogg said outside the House of Commons? The noble Earl will know our rule that we may not quote something said inside the House of Commons.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
Well, my Lords, I have finished quoting. The noble Lord's attention must have been distracted, because I began by apologising before I quoted and said that if there 1465 was any objection I would paraphrase it; but, the noble Lord has allowed me to proceed and make the quotation.
§ Lord SHACKLETON
My Lords, I hope that the noble Earl admires my timing, while preserving the proprieties.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, it is a great deal better than mine ever was.
If it is true, as Mr. Hogg has firmly suggested, that the influence of Dublin could be useful in affecting beneficially the attitude of the minority in the North, I hope that nobody in our Government here is going to tell them to "Shut up!" or to "Buzz off! "I hope that no one is going to tell them that this is no affair of theirs; because that would be a very crude point of view. I do not believe for a moment that someone like the Lord Chancellor, or the Leader of the House, or their colleagues, would adopt language of that type.
Well, my Lords, what of the future? I believe that close co-operation and warm friendship between the two parts of Ireland are indispensable to the real success and happiness of both. I cannot believe that anybody who cares for either part of Ireland, or for Ireland as a whole, can believe anything else. I have views about how that co-operation might take place in future. I am not going to develop them now because at the moment the tension is too great. We are too much moving in a state of crisis, and I do not think that one wants to say anything to imply far-reaching developments which might alarm people in the North who are undoubtedly in a rather sensitive condition.
I returned from Northern Ireland yesterday night. While I was there I asked quite a number of people, especially leading Protestants, whether there was anything that someone like myself, within the limits of one's small influence, could possibly say that could bring the slightest reassurance in Northern Ireland. It has been said so often, from Mr. de Valera to Mr. Lynch—it has been said many times in the last 50 years—that there is no question of using force on the part of the Irish Government and that no attempt would ever be made to coerce Ulster. Indeed, I think that anybody who is at all adult knows that it would 1466 be quite impossible, and therefore I think it is pure fantasy to discuss a matter which, in any case, is rejected in the South on moral grounds. But I think one must try to add two words, two further thoughts. They have been often expressed in one way or another, but let me say them now because I think that, coming from someone who is so concerned with Irish unity, these points may be worth making.
A minority deserves justice, and I hope and believe that at last the minority in Northern Ireland is going to receive it. But a majority also has its rights. The question whether the North ever joins with Southern Ireland is something which lies entirely with the majority in Northern Ireland, it is their decision; and as someone who stands for the unity of Ireland I want to say that again and again. It is their right, the right of the majority, to decide it, whether or not I, or anybody else, happens to like the way in which they make their decision. I would add this further point which certainly has been made recently—it has been made at other times, but it has been made recently by Mr. Lynch, the Prime Minister of Southern Ireland. He has referred to the unity of Ireland as a long-term issue. It is not—and here I entirely agree with the Leader of the House—an issue at the present time. It is not an issue in any immediate future. Speaking as one who will never renounce the aspiration of a united Ireland, I want to say clearly that this is not an issue at the present time and I cannot see its becoming one in the near future.
I will deal with only one other aspect of this great, far-reaching question. There is a natural tendency, expressed by the Home Secretary, for example, at Brighton, to ask what the Catholics propose to do. So many concessions seem to be made to them. There are ways in which this question can be formulated fairly and ways in which it can be formulated unfairly. The Home Secretary and Mr. Hogg and my noble friend Lord Shackleton to-day referred approvingly to the response of Cardinal Conway to the Hunt Report. Certainly even since Mr. Callaghan spoke at Brighton, the spokesmen of the minority in the North have not been slow to express their thanks and gratitude for the reforms which are being introduced.
1467 Cardinal Conway himself has said that you cannot shake hands with a man while he has his foot on your neck. We can surely agree that it would be quite wrong to make any sort of bargain with a large majority of the citizens to the effect that we will do something for them if they give us justice. But justice is justice. One either docs it for the citizens as a whole or does not do it at all, and I hope now that it is going to be done. The Cardinal and, it seems to me, the leaders of the minority in the North recognise, as I certainly do, that a new situation is in process of being created.
But the struggle for justice is not yet won. If any noble Lord came to the House thinking that it was all over bar the shouting, if he had listened carefully to the speech of my noble friend, Lord Stonham, so well informed, and, for that matter, to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, I think he would have formed a much more cautious view. It is obvious to anybody who has been in Northern Ireland lately that the package of reforms agreed to and accepted with much courage by Major Chichester-Clark and his colleagues—and I pay my tribute to them—is highly unpopular with the organised ranks of the Unionist Party at the present time. I do not say that it will always be so. Once they get used to the idea that it is not so bad to live on an equality with your neighbours and that all the joy of life does not pass away with ascendency, they may become much more reasonable. But at this moment, as my noble friend Lord Stonham brought out clearly, Major Chichester-Clark and his colleagues would not have a good time at all if they faced their own Party. So we are not yet out of the wood.
I believe that these reforms can be carried through and will be carried through, but if it were left entirely, with all their sincerity, to the present Northern Ireland Government and they were not given adequate support here, I do not believe the reforms will go through at all. I believe that a very different sort of Government would be installed at Stormont. I am going to put it as unequivocally as possible. We in this country, having put our hands to the plough, must certainly not turn back for a long time to come, if it should be necessary to continue.
1468 The Cardinal was good enough to see me for two hours on his way through London on Sunday. I told him that I was speaking in the House to-day and asked whether he could authorise me to say anything to add his encouragement to Catholics in the North, with a view to securing their maximum support for the reforms. He pointed out that he had already given much encouragement in that direction, that he had already expressed the hope that Catholics would join the police force and the new security force. He was not quite sure what he would add, but he was anxious that his spirit of co-operation and that of the Catholic Church in the North should be fully understood by everyone here and outside. I took down a few words among many. If Catholics, said Cardinal Conway to me, are invited to become members of statutory Boards and other organs of public authority from which up to now they have been virtually excluded, they should be anxious and willing to come forward and play their part to the full. There really can be no doubt that the leaders of the minority are anxious to co-operate very fully indeed and to show their very active response to these proposals. The question of the recruitment of Catholics for the police and for the new security force is not without difficulty. I talked about these matters for a considerable time yesterday to General Freeland. May I pay my tribute to the General and express my admiration for him and for our troops. I feel sure that this problem will be solved. For what it is worth, may I express the fervent hope that Catholics will come forward in ample numbers to join the force and the reserve force.
As I went round a block of Catholic houses close to the Falls Road yesterday, I saw the bullet holes (and my noble friend Lord Stonham may have seen them) where machine gun bullets, supposed to have been fired by the police, had penetrated working-class houses, where one child had been killed and many women frightened almost out of their lives. I met men whose houses had been destroyed but who had not received any prospect of compensation, again a point that we may want to attend to. After meeting people like that, I wondered whether, coming back here this afternoon, I should be able, without humbug, to call on these people, 1469 who have suffered 50 years of suppression and are still suffering a good deal of physical hardship, to make the response which is so easy to call for and sometimes so hard to offer. If I must make this call, I do so because I believe it is their Christian duty and in the interests of everybody.
The Catholic minority in the North of Ireland cannot be said up to now to have co-operated or to have refused to co-operate. They have not been given the chance to co-operate. But now they are being given the full opportunity—at least, I hope and believe that they will be given it, if we stand firm in this Parliament and in this country. I hope and believe that the Catholics (I speak of them because they happen to be my own religious Communion), on their side, and of course everyone else, will accept the doctrine that equal rights mean equal duties. A time will come, I hope, when this horrible language of rival communities will be forgotten as an evil dream. But we cannot expect the miracle overnight. In the times immediately ahead I feel that particularly members of my own Communion should play their full part in the new Northern Ireland, and if they do so at this critical moment of history I am sure that they will be blessed unto the third and fourth generation.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Lord COLERAINE
My Lords, may I offer to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, my own expression of regard to add to the many that he has received in the debate this afternoon, and may I ask the noble Earl whether he will accept that as a suitable synonym for the overworked word "tribute "? I fully share the view of other noble Lords that the departure of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, is a loss to the Government. I do not know whether or not I have heard all his five "maiden speeches", but there is little to take exception to in the speech he made this afternoon, except for one point. He said that everyone who is associated with this problem has prejudices which he imbibed with his mother's milk.
§ Lord STONHAM
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said, but when he looks at my speech 1470 he will see that I said "almost all" the Ministers.
§ Lord COLERAINE
My Lords, I wanted to assure the noble Lord that my prejudices, which are deeply ingrained and probably ineradicable, were imbibed not with my mother's milk but at my father's knee.
When I was called to your Lordships' House fifteen years ago, I felt very much honoured that I was allowed to take my title from the town in Northern Ireland from which my forbears came. Whenever I go there and see that pleasant countryside at the side of the Bann, there is something that stirs in my heart. I have a tremendous regard for the people of Ulster, and for that reason the events of recent weeks and recent months are an inexpressible sadness to me, indeed a tragedy beyond expression. But it seems to me that this tragedy is redeemed by one consideration, redemptive not of the past, because that has gone, but redemptive for the present and the future. There is now in this country again a renewed interest in Ulster and a renewed understanding of the fact, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, pointed out, that this is not a foreign land but is a part of our own country. But, even more than that, I think there is a new understanding which covers the whole political spectrum of the nature and the realities of the problems which beset the Province of Ulster.
On this side of the House, where we have always regarded ourselves traditionally as the friends of the North of Ireland, we are learning, possibly for the first time, that the Catholic minority has been the victim of injustice and perhaps persecution. But I should like to make two observations on that. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, says: "It is all very well to realise that now. Why did we not realise it fifty years ago?" Well, if every evil was at once recognised and remedied there would be very little left to-day for a reforming temperament like that of the noble Earl. It seems to me that the really important thing, as has now been recognised, is that there is this other factor—and I think the Home Secretary in one or other of his speeches gave full force to it—namely, that the attitude of the majority to the minority did not stem from malice or evilness of 1471 mind, but stemmed very largely from fear.
On the other side of the House and in other quarters of the House I think that something has been learned, too. We have heard this afternoon on every side, from the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal, the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and, I think, from the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that the Border is not in question. I think this is the first time that that has been explicitly accepted by the whole of this Parliament, and I hope that this fact will have a reassuring effect upon the Protestant majority, which is still, as my noble friend Lord Rathcavan pointed out, extremely restive and nervous.
On Monday I listened in another place to a good deal of the debate, and I thought it was conducted in general (I hope I am not out of order in saying this) at a very high standard. I do not think it would have been possible to have two speeches better attuned to the seriousness of the hour and its needs than those of the Home Secretary and Mr. Quintin Hogg. However, I should like at this point to make two comments on the speech of the Home Secretary. During the course of his speech he stated, and emphasised—and nobody could doubt his sincerity—that Her Majesty's Government would give every possible help to the Government at Stormont. I do not think any one of us has any doubt about that. But it is important for the Home Secretary to realise, if I may say so without impertinence, and for us all to realise, that the manner of that support may be critical.
Until now it has been necessary for Her Majesty's Government to be, so to speak, in the forefront of the battle. From now on, if I may say so, I think it is important that they should withdraw; that they should leave the responsibility to Stormont and make it clear that they have so left it. The one thing more than anything else that could wreck any hopes that we may have of coming through this tragic situation is the belief, which will surely be played on in certain quarters, that the Government of Stormont are simply the stooge of the Government of Westminster.
§ Lord STONHAM
My Lords, the noble Lord has said something that is of great importance, and perhaps he will 1472 forgive me for interrupting. I assure him, and your Lordships, that that just is not true. The Northern Ireland Government made their own decisions all the way along. There is no question about it.
§ Lord COLERAINE
I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said.
The other point that I should like to put to the Government, arising out of the Home Secretary's speech, is this. Now that the responsibilities of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Special Constabulary have been changed, and particularly that they are no longer responsible for the defence of the Border, it is vitally important that the Border should not be neglected. I do not want the noble Earl to misunderstand what I am saying. I do not believe, any more than he believes, that the Border is under threat from the Government in Dublin; but I do believe that the Government is under threat from the I.R.A. That threat has not materialised because, as the Hunt Report pointed out, the I.R.A. was not prepared for this eventuality. I believe that the I.R.A. has no particular interest in a united Ireland, has no particular interest in the well-being of the people, or in the Government of the South of Ireland. But it has a real interest in the destruction of society. I think it has taken on a new role, and we may find that the I.R.A. is going to play a bigger part in the future than it has done before.
I should like to say a word on the Hunt Report. This seems to me to be a most remarkable document, not only for the speed with which it was produced but also for the fairness and balance it has shown. It is quite clear from the Report that Lord Hunt's Committee had the highest respect for the discipline, the patriotism and the record of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and indeed of the Special Constabulary. The Committee have made us understand why the police force developed in Northern Ireland in the way it did, and made us understand, too, why the form of organisation which was understandable, indeed essential, in 1920 is quite intolerable for 1970. I have seen in the Press reports about the B Specials, and their resentment at the Hunt Report. I do not believe that the resentment is justified; I do not believe, either, that they can have read the Report. I think they have heard about the Report; I think they have been told 1473 that it is "a complete and utter sell-out". On that point one might fairly comment that anyone having read the Report who believes that, and says that, is either very mad, or very bad, or both.
The Hunt Report seems to me to be remarkable, too, for its extraordinary perception of the realities of the present situation. We have heard a great deal about history, about how we are prisoners of history, of our past and so on. The Hunt Report puts its finger on something else, and that is we are in a special sense the prisoners of the present, and that new chains are being forged which enormously exacerbate the situation in Northern Ireland. In paragraph 14 of the Report Lord Hunt reflects—as I think did my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor—on the extraordinary distortion of events which, in all innocence, is made by the mass media and in particular by the television screen. I have often wondered about Mr. Paisley. I have sometimes felt that he could not really exist, and I now believe that he does not exist: he is just a figure, a kind of nightmare figure, conjured out of the television screen. But whether that is so or not, I ask myself this question: Is it really necessary, is it really wise, for the Prime Minister at Stormont and the G.O.C., Northern Ireland, to receive Mr. Paisley as though he were head of a sovereign State? If they cannot shut the man up, do they have to "blow him up" like this?
There is another point in the Hunt Report to which I should like to draw attention. In paragraph 9 Lord Hunt refers to the extraordinary wave of violence and lawlessness which is sweeping around the world, which engulfs not only Northern Ireland but this country, and almost every other country. It is a kind of moral Black Death. Once again I go back to the very wise speech of the Home Secretary in London, in which he implored us—the British people—not to be too self-righteous. He pointed out that we should not have to dig very deep to find some very unpleasant things in our own make-up.
I wonder whether your Lordships remember a little poem of Rudyard Kipling's called A St. Helena Lullaby, in which, stanza by stanza, he goes through Napoleon's career, and links each incident up with the final incident, his death 1474 on the island of St. Helena. The poem begins:How far is St. Helena from a little child at play?What makes you want to wander there with all the world betweenOh mother, call your son again or else he'll run away.(No one thinks of winter when the grass is green.)".I sometimes wonder how far Grosvenor Square, Clare Market or Houghton Street really is from the Shankill Road and Bogside. They may not be so far away as the map suggests. Let us, above all, in this unhappy situation avoid what is almost our supreme national sin, self-righteousness: because nothing could do more to worsen the situation in Northern Ireland.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Lord MONSON
My Lords, it is not often, in recent years, that a group of people has been so aggressively vilified as the Protestant community of Northern Ireland, not of course in responsible quarters like your Lordships' House, nor in another place, but elsewhere. This is not just my own view. Mary Holland, herself I believe Irish and a Roman Catholic, wrote a sympathetic article in the Observer last Sunday from which I should like to quote to your Lordships:Protestants of almost all shades of opinion are still groggy from the communal shock they have sustained from the Cameron report, and other attacks on their own image of themselves. They have been asked—in the space of a few weeks—to accept a burden of guilt which, though infinitely smaller in scale, is … of the same quality which the German people were asked to accept after the war. Not surprisingly, their reactions range from confusion and pain to outraged rejection of the charges.To give your Lordships some idea of the universality of these exaggerated accusations, I read, for instance, in a French newspaper that the entire Catholic population of Londonderry were obliged to live in bidonvilles, a bidonville being a shanty town made of packing cases with corrugated iron roofs, with no electricity, running water or sewerage. Certainly, unhappily, slums do exist in Londonderry, as in other United Kingdom industrial cities, but I would suggest that bidonvilles exist strictly South of the English Channel.
Television in Switzerland, where only 50 per cent. of the population have a 1475 vote, has loftily criticised the former Ulster electoral system, where 100 per cent. of the population have a vote in General Elections, and 76 per cent. in provincial elections. This and similar themes have been taken up by the Press which is controlled by General Franco's regime, whose attitude to the Gibral-tarians, Spanish Protestants, Basque priests and others, needs no describing to your Lordships. Governessy reproofs, laced with ill-concealed satisfaction, have also been directed at these people by many of the less responsible opinion formers in this country.
The last straw, though, so far as I was concerned, which made me resolve to address your Lordships, despite the fact that I have no connection myself with Ulster whatsoever, was a shocking statement made on September 29 last, by a speaker at the Labour Party Conference, who said:It is an absolute disgrace in this modern age that we have on our doorstep almost another Biafra,implying, in other words, that thousands of Catholics were being blown to pieces by high explosives and millions of others were starving. Of course, not many people took this gentleman literally, but if one throws enough mud quite a lot of it sticks, and I have no doubt that a large proportion of the British population has been brainwashed into thinking that these Ulster Protestants are, to a man, selfish individuals who cruelly persecute their fellow-countrymen because of trivial and obscure differences of religious doctrine.
Your Lordships might say that because some of these accusations are true, or partly true, it is just hard luck that they have been so monstrously exaggerated; it is the sort of thing that happens to other people, and they must just grin and bear it. I believe that such a reaction would be dangerously sanguine, for two reasons. In the first place, any body of people, of whatever nationality, race or religion, who find themselves friendless, apart from their own representatives, and unjustly condemned and derided—and I am thinking mainly of the poorer Protestants here—invariably react violently and irrationally. We have seen the tragic results of this already.
In the second place, if we on this side of the Irish Channel deceive ourselves 1476 that the Protestant fears are essentially ephemeral, without any solid foundation, and will disappear as soon as a certain publicity-seeking clergyman decides to keep his mouth shut, we will, I think, have appraised the situation falsely, and in consequence will take the wrong decisions, and it will take very much longer to achieve peace and prosperity. If, on the other hand, we can come to understand the background to their fears, then a solution does present itself, as I hope to be able to convince your Lordships.
Historically, since partition there have been two chief Protestant fears: the external threat and the demographic threat. To put the first one in perspective, let me read to your Lordships some excerpts from the Constitution of the Irish Republic, as follows:The national territory is declared to be the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas … Pending the reintegration of the national territory, and without prejudice to the right of the Parliament and the Government … to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of the national territory … "—and so on. This Constitution was drawn up in 1937 but these sentiments are still a reality. On August 13 the Irish Prime Minister called for an end to partition. On August 22 Mr. Cecil King, in an article in The Times, wrote as follows:To his"—that is, Mr. Lynch's—followers, the division of Ireland into two parts is a standing offence. There are many Irishmen to whom the unity of Ireland has an almost mystical significance".From the point of view of sentiment I can understand that. As someone with strong feelings about many matters myself, I can understand and sympathise with strong feelings in others, even if I do not agree with them. Perhaps if I were a Celtic Catholic Irishman I might feel the same way; I do not know. But I am not, and neither are the Ulster Protestants. And, from the point of view of practical politics, of everyday common sense, nothing could be more calculated to keep in flame the fears and tensions of Ulster loyalists than this sword of Damocles, as they see it, hanging over them.
What is more, it contributes, I believe, in part, to some of the employment discrimination that exists, or has existed, against Catholics. I do not think it is 1477 too far-fetched to compare Ulster, with a Catholic minority, with pre-1967 Israel, with its Arab minority. Again, I do not want to take sides. I understand, up to a point, the Arab point of view. But in each case a contiguous State demands its right to a separate existence, and so inevitably, and however unfairly, there is a reluctance to employ those whose sympathy might, just might, lie across the border.
In this country at the beginning of World War II there were many German and Italian refugees, anti-Nazi and anti-Fascist, especially, almost to a man. Despite this, they had the greatest difficulty in joining the Armed Forces, to start with, and finding employment; some were even interned. This was extremely unfair. But 99 per cent. had to suffer because there was a possible 1 per cent. that might be disloyal. But these sort of things happen in war time. Although it may sound exaggerated, I believe that in a sense, in a muted sense, Northern Ireland has felt herself to be in a state of cold war for the past 49 years.
The other main fear, whether the Protestants call it this or not, is the demographic danger. Cardinal Conway, speaking on "Panorama" just over four weeks ago, discussing past Unionist policy, gave as his opinion that one of the Unionist aims had been to keep the Catholic population stabilised at about 35 per cent. of the whole. This probably puzzled many viewers, but of course most people in Ireland knew what he was getting at. You can only keep down that which would otherwise rise. It is known that 42 per cent. of the school children in the North are Roman Catholic, and Londonderry, a mainly Catholic city, has the highest birth rate in the United Kingdom. The way in which the Catholic proportion of the population has been kept down has been, I suppose it must be conceded, by giving preference of employment to those whose loyalty to Ulster, and those whose children's loyalty to Ulster, is absolutely assured. When said like that, this sounds terribly Machiaevellian and cold-blooded, but I do not believe it is quite as bad as that.
Emigration both from the North and from the South to England, and further afield, has been a feature of Ireland for many years. But of course I do not 1478 approve of this discrimination. It is obviously morally wrong that anyone should be deprived of a job to which his talents entitle him. It cannot be excused, but to some degree it can be explained. These fears that another community with a higher birth rate may jeopardise their own well-being are not unique to the Protestants of Ireland. They are shared by such different peoples as the Negroes of Guyana, the Walloons in Belgium, the Creoles in Mauritius, the indigenous Melanesian population of Fiji, and now, perhaps, the peoples of European origin, whether Protestant, Roman Cathclic or anything else, in the world at large.
Some people may say, "Well, granted this may be the case. Now that suffrage is universal it is quite possible that Catholic and therefore mainly (although not entirely) Republican, sympathisers will, before too long, be in the majority in the Stormont Parliament. But if that is so, is it really worth making such a fuss about? After all, it would not be the end of the world; and, in addition, the Republic of Ireland is a perfectly delightful country." I would agree, up to a point. It would not be the end of the world for the Ulster Unionists. They would not feel, as the Roman Catholic and Jewish minorities in Algeria felt, that their choice lay between a suitcase and a coffin. It is true that the Republic of Ireland is a delightful place for tourists; for those who are born and bred there, and for those who have chosen of their own free will to make it their home, knowing, liking and accepting the customs and traditions of the country. But to pretend that there will be no real difference in the daily lives of the people, as some quite prominent individuals who have called for the end of partition in recent years without the excuse of being Irish themselves, have done (this has come from certain individuals in another place); to call for the almost immediate end of partition is being quite as unrealistic as the most bigoted member of the Orange Order might be.
Let us consider just four specific areas. First, financial. It is probably true to say that even a Republican majority would not vote for the ending of partition until the gap in the relative standards of life in the United Kingdom and the Republic were narrowed. On the other hand, I think it would be somewhat 1479 insulting to suggest that were the gap a narrow one they would not press for re-unification. Anyone who feels so strongly about history, tradition, culture, and so on, is not going to be put off by the thought of 5s. a week less on the old age pension. So in the first place one could predict a small but tangible fall in the standard of living.
Secondly, what to most Ulster loyalists is the most important issue of all is that of their very nationality. One cannot deny that if partition were to end these people would wake up one morning to find themselves in, literally, a foreign country—a democratic and well-run country, certainly, but a foreign country all the same. Gone would be their flag, their National Anthem, anything associated with a monarchy, and their passports. On a lesser plane the street names would be changed and statues of past monarchs and of British naval and military heroes would be demolished. There is a large body of opinion in this country to whom such considerations are purely laughable and I suppose it would be useless to try to convince them that this is anything worth caring about, so let me point out the third area of inevitable change, which might strike a chord with those same people.
President de Valera is on record as having said that in a re-united Ireland divorce would have to be forbidden to Protestants—and, by inference, to atheists, agnostics and others. Inevitably birth control would be banned and the censorship of books, plays and films would become stricter. I am not condemning the Eire attitude in all these matters—I am sure it suits their way of life and their personality very well, and it is entirely their own affair. What is indisputable is that such changes would result in a diminution of the freedoms which we in the United Kingdom now take for granted.
Fourthly, there is the question of language. Referring back to the Eire Constitution once again, we read that the Irish language, being the national language, is the first official language. Again, I can understand the sentiments which lead the Eire Government to promote as fully as possible their historic and poetic language, but none the less re-unification 1480 would oblige thousands of mainly non-Celtic Protestants to learn the language or else to lose their jobs in the Civil Service, the police and local government. These four issues alone surely prove beyond argument that re-unification with the Republic as it exists at present would mean very considerable hardship in both the material and mental sense for Ulster loyalists.
Now, my Lords, where does this bring us? The external threat has, albeit belatedly, been modified. In mid-September the main opposition Party in the Republic made a statement affirming that the only way that the divided state of the island could or should be modified is with the consent of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland. I was away at the time but I believe the Government Party made a statement along the same lines. In other words, reverting to the relatively "dovelike" position maintained by President Cosgrave during the 1920s. However, the population fears still exist, intensified, not unnaturally, by the granting of universal suffrage. There is the prospect that given the different birth rates of the two communities the Stormont Parliament could have a Republican majority within a fairly short number of years.
The Ireland Act 1949 as it stands states in Section 1 (2):… it is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of His Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.Clearly the Parliament of Northern Ireland has a Republican majority and this safeguard is no longer a safeguard. Is there something which would placate the fears of the loyalists and Protestants—and I certainly accept that they are not synonymous; there are plenty of loyalist Catholics as well—without detracting from the rights of the Catholic community and without causing worse relations than there need be between this country and the Republic? I believe there is.
Many suggestions have been made over the past two months that the 1949 Act should be modified so as to provide for a Referendum before any constitutional change, but these suggestions as published have one grave defect. That envisaged a referendum to be decided by a bare 1481 majority of 50.1 per cent. or more. Because of the population fears, I think that the introduction of the possibility of a referendum on these lines would do more harm than good. However, a referendum requiring a majority of two to one or three to one before any constitutional change is made is a very different matter.
There are many respectable precedents for a referendum requiring a majority of two to one or more before any drastic constitutional change is made, in various countries. In the State of Illinois 66⅔ per cent. is the required percentage. In Switzerland and Australia respectively, where referenda are held frequently, a majority in each of the 22 Cantons or 6 States respectively is required before any change is made. If only one has a negative vote then the change cannot go through. And in Ulster that would be equivalent to requiring a majority of each county to approve. One of the better known of the referenda in recent years was that held in Belgium in 1950 to determine whether King Leopold should return to the throne. The qualifying percentage was fixed at 55 per cent., but—this may be of interest to Her Majesty's Government—against the advice of the Socialists, led by M. Spaak, who pressed for a 66⅔ per cent. vote in favour. In the end M. Spaak effectively got his way, because, although the affirmative vote was 57.7 per cent., such was the civil strife and tension and bloodshed that it was decided not to go ahead with the King's return. Then there is perhaps the most respectable precedent of all—I do not see any right reverend Prelates sitting on the Episcopal Benches—but the Anglican-Methodist unity scheme required a vote of 75 per cent. in favour.
I believe that an amendment to the 1949 Act on these lines, coupled with the changes which so rightly give better opportunities of housing and employment to the minority, would go an enormous way to ensuring justice for all. The Roman Catholics, apart from those who are intensely, passionately Republican—and they are not perhaps as large a number as we think—would have most of the changes which they ask for, while the Protestants would be assured that their future and their way of life was not preserved for a mere decade but for generations to come. Fears and mistrust would be dispelled. This, I sincerely 1482 believe, would allow peace and prosperity to the return to the Province.
§ 5.54 p.m.
My Lords, I live in Northern Ireland, and this morning I flew over to participate in this debate, not because I was so presumptuous as to think I could explain the whole matter to your Lordships, certainly not thinking that I could disclose any cast-iron solution to your Lordships; rather I have come to learn and to listen, perhaps respectfully to comment and here and there to suggest. One thing that I am certainly not going to do is to indulge in any recrimination.
When I speak to various people who do not live in Northern Ireland but live on this side of the water, there are one or two misconceptions which I notice from time to time. One of them, which I was very glad the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, cleared up, was the belief that the trouble is not isolated to certain small areas. Indeed, if you did not read the papers or watch television you could easily spend a month in Ireland and not know that there was anything wrong, other than that the army seemed to be having a lot of manœuvres.
Another point I would make is that this whole trouble is not religious; it is political and social and economic. I agree that one side is aligned with one Faith and the other with another, for historical reasons which we have heard. But of anyone who says it is religious I would ask, what is the point at issue? Is it Transubtantiation? What is it? I heard recently of an Indian doctor working in a Belfast hospital who was stopped one night at a barricade. The vigilante asked him what religion he was. He replied, "Hindu". He was immediately addressed rather roughly and told not to avoid the question but to state without delay whether he was a Protestant or a Catholic Hindu. That illustrates that the trouble is not entirely religious.
One thing of which I am convinced is that with the exception of certain members of the Free Presbyterian Church, the mainstream of church-going people in Northern Ireland have had a strong moderating influence. Certainly they have had a shining example from their leaders, the clergy, who, night after night, have gone out into the streets to try to 1483 reason with the people and take some heat out of the situation. I hesitate to single out one, but it would be difficult not to mention that physical and spiritual giant, Father Murphy, who is perhaps the most influential figure in West Belfast and who has personally contributed more to de-escalating the situation in the Falls than anyone else could possibly have done.
People often ask me who is concerned in all this trouble, what are the different factions in Northern Ireland—a very difficult question. However, taking a stab at it, I would say, first of all, that there is a very small number of deliberate disrupters, trouble makers. They started off as an even smaller number. Many of them did not come from Northern Ireland. They surveyed the United Kingdom to find an appropriate place to do an experiment in anarchy. I do not know what else they thought of trying—maybe Wolverhampton or Smethwick, but they found that Derry was the obvious place; it was small, compact, with clearcut divisions in the community. They are a very small number of people who have succeeded in causing a very big thing to happen. I do not deny that there was plenty of inflammatory material there, plenty of justifiable grievances, and it was for this very reason that they chose Derry to make a start. I would respectfully suggest that it might be worth keeping an eye on any other potentially inflammatory places. The first experiment has been very successful, and they might think of trying another.
Secondly, there are the louts, the thugs, the hooligans whom you get in any society, the people who all their lives have been longing to break shop windows, set fire to premises and loot pubs, and who have a feeling of momentary power by intimidating innocent people. This category has been having a field day whenever public order breaks down. The answer is, quite obviously, the strengthening of the security forces to crack down really hard on these people and make it clear to all of them that they will not get away with it any longer.
I was particularly glad to hear the tributes paid to the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They have been criticised a great deal. This has hurt them very much, I know. They feel very wounded 1484 about some of the criticism they have received. When one bears in mind the situations in which they have found themselves—and one of the most tragic, if not the most tragic, was when Constable Arbuckle was brutally and tragically killed the other night—it is perhaps not surprising that, human nature being what it is, there may have been the odd lapse. I do not feel competent to comment on the Hunt Report, other than to say that it seems a pity, in a way, to change the R.U.C. uniform. I read the reasons for it in the Hunt Report, but anyone who has served in the Army will know how much a uniform means to men and how it somehow summarises all their feelings of loyalty towards the body to which they belong. Furthermore, the better the morale in that body the more strongly the men feel about their uniform.
I sincerely hope that the new reserve security force, the volunteer force which will replace the B Specials, will be a success. Some of the people who, like myself, advocated the retention of the Territorial Army Reserve Category III to meet a contingency of this sort might be tempted to think that the new force will be quite similar, answerable to the General Officer Commanding and having an internal security role; but in the circumstances it would hardly be constructive to say, "I told you so". Finally, in dealing with this category of louts, thugs and hooligans I make a suggestion, quite seriously—I am not being facetious—
§ Lord SHACKLETON
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. I think he was on a rather important point. Was he saying that for the R.U.C. to be responsible in the long run to the G.O.C. would not work very well? Was that his point? I may have misunderstood him.
No, my Lords, it was not. I was saying that the new volunteer force which is going to take the place of the B Specials will be responsible to the G.O.C., as indeed was AVR III in the Territorial Army.
The fourth suggestion I would make is that public houses should be closed at lunch-time on Saturdays. I am aware that this would mean that publicans would lose their best half-day's trade in the week; but a great deal depends on 1485 this, and, quite bluntly, there is no doubt whatever that serious incidents have been started by drunks.
The third category I would mention is that rather larger number of people of limited intelligence, with time on their hands, who are easily led and gullible to rumours, however groundless or unfounded those rumours may be. A lot of the trouble, I think, depends on economic and housing conditions. Where you get high unemployment, where you get bad housing with too high a density, you are more likely to get people standing around the street corners passing on rumours and being ready to be roused by any rabble rousers who may come along. There are, of course, militants who are possessed of a sort of blind, unthinking hatred. They are not subject to reason; you cannot argue or discuss a question with them. They have closed their minds and their ears. All I can say is that I hope that with improving education over the years, the climate will be less appropriate for people of that sort. I trust that every effort will be made to expose the extremist leaders for what they really are, in the hope that at least some of these people will be disillusioned.
I believe that, given positive and good leadership, many people would respond favourably. In this connection I must pay tribute to the positive, good, strong, constructive leadership given by Mr. William Blease, who is Northern Ireland Officer of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. He has acted in a highly responsible manner and has given an excellent lead to all his people. Anyone who knows Mr. Blease would expect him to do that. What is more noteworthy, and perhaps even more creditable, is the way in which trade unionists have influenced their members to keep on working. They have influenced them to reduce tension. In one factory of a company of which I am a director it is purely due to the trade unionists on the shop floor that the men carry on working, Protestant beside Catholic—not without any tension, because there is bound to be tension; nevertheless they are still working and they are still friends. I think that is a tremendous thing.
The next category I would mention Is the large number of honest people who are bewildered and confused: they do not know what has hit them. They will 1486 not even believe what they see on television and read in the papers; they are so ashamed. It has come to them as such a shock that they think the Press and those responsible for television programmes are making it up, and that it cannot be true. It is difficult to know what to do about it. I think a lot more political courage and public honesty would be a good thing. To be quite frank, if you compare the statements of some public people now with what they were saying eighteen months ago you can only assume that they have had an experience similar to that which St. Paul had on the road to Damascus. The only difference is that St. Paul at least had the honesty to admit this, and he gave his reasons at some considerable length.
Finally, there is the category of thinking moderates who have opted out in the past. Often they are well educated and intelligent people, but they have never taken any part in public life, either in politics or in local government. Whereas I am not intelligent or educated, I must admit that I categorise myself in this group because I have never done so; and I think we must all bear a share of the blame for some of the things that have happened. If we had all gone to the trouble of joining our local constituency association, of whatever Party we belong to, and had made our influence felt, however small that influence might be, I believe that things could be quite different to-day. With the encouraging signs of the new Ulster Movement, the Parliamentary associations which are gradually increasing, and new ones being formed over in Northern Ireland, I hope that moderates will do that, and that they will, within a comparatively short space of time, remove the conditions whereby people like Captain O'Neill and Mr. Richard Ferguson, M.P. for South Antrim, can be hounded out of their jobs simply because they had the courage to act according to the dictates of their consciences.
My Lords, a few suggestions. I believe that there is a tremendous need for generosity on all sides and for the stature to be able to make some conciliatory gestures. I am delighted about the reforms which have been promised by the Northern Ireland Government: I only hope that they will press ahead with them with all expedition. I am sure that Major Chichester-Clark has the will to 1487 do it. I am sure that he has the "guts" to do it. I only hope that he has the necessary stamina. And if some members of his Party start being difficult again, I hope he will just tell them to go away and form a new Party of their own because he wants nothing to do with them. But if the Unionist Party lets itself get dragged down by the Right Wing, then I think that once again the hope for democracy in Northern Ireland will, as Captain O'Neill put it, "be very slim indeed".
The only worry is, even if the reforms are implemented really quickly, how much effect this will have at street level. That is what worries me, because talking to many of the people at street level one gets the impression that the original issues have been obscured; that it is more a question of "that lot from the Falls made it rough for us last weekend: we are going to make it twice as rough for them this weekend." This is a difficult problem. Even so, I welcome the reforms and I hope that they will go through as quickly as possible. But in my view even one or two more gestures could do a substantial amount of good. On the Protestant side, it would be an excellent thing if, somehow, it could be publicly affirmed that just to be a Republican is not a sin provided you are prepared to pursue your Republican aims through the ballot box and not with a bullet. If it could be made clear that in Northern Ireland nationalists, Republicans, are just as acceptable as Scottish nationalists are in Scotland, I believe that this would be something.
Secondly, just because a man is loyal to the Union Jack and to the Queen, it does not necessarily mean that he has to be waving the flag all the time, and singing the National Anthem all the time. If Protestants would have some respect for their neighbour's feelings it would not necessarily depreciate their respect for the Crown and their loyalty; indeed, it would serve their purpose of maintaining the link with the United Kingdom very much better if they were to respect their neighbour's feelings and not be provocative in demonstrating their loyalty. Thirdly, there must be wholehearted and sincere acceptance of Roman Catholics at all levels. If only we could get out of the language this phrase, "He 1488 is a terribly decent fellow, but of course he is a Catholic". You do not hear it very often, but you still hear it now and again and I wish we could get rid of it.
On the Catholic side, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who referred to education. I fully accept that Catholic parents may want their children to attend corporate worship in the morning according to the Catholic service and to receive religious instruction from Catholic instructors; and similarly with Protestant parents. I do not see why this should not happen in the same school, in different classrooms or different halls, and then let the children learn together and play their games together. After all, there is no commandment in the Bible, or no teaching, that says association football is better or worse than Gaelic football: they are both perfectly healthy activities. If the youngsters could just get together—at school, at youth clubs, and at Boy Scout and Boys' Brigade level as well—it would do a tremendous amount of good; and a concession of this sort from the Catholic Church would go a long way to allaying Protestant fears.
I have a tremendous respect for the Cardinal, and I think he is a big man and a generous man. He has difficulty with his conservatives, of course, just as we all do. From his recent statements one would almost infer that he had accorded a de facto recognition to the Constitution of Northern Ireland. If he would just confirm that I think again that it would go a long way towards allaying Protestant fears. Finally—a delicate matter—if there could be some flexibility on the Ne Femere decree; if there could be more chance for Catholic families to mingle with Protestant families without the risk that a marriage would mean that the children would have to be brought up as Roman Catholics (which is a great Protestant fear) it would do much to take the tension out of the community.
I am sure I speak for the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland when I say how deeply grateful we are for what the Home Secretary has done and for what his opposite number on the Opposition Front Benches has done, together with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. We are grateful to noble Lords for giving up time to debate Northern Ireland this 1489 afternoon, and for the very penetrating and well-informed debate that we have had. We are grateful, too, to the people of the United Kingdom as a whole for their patience and understanding during this, our time of trouble. I genuinely believe that there is a good chance that we can now make a new start. Conditions are still highly critical and highly dangerous; but you never know. It may be that in ten years' time we shall look back and say, "Yes, that was a rough period, but at least it brought a lot of people to their senses and was instrumental in setting up the new Northern Ireland of which everyone can be proud".
As for me, my family was not planted in Northern Ireland; we have always been there. For a thousand years we were hereditary custodians of St. Patrick's Bell—the bell in the Dublin Museum at the moment. We had our ups and downs. The first property we bought in Belfast in the late eighteenth century, the deed for which was signed with an "X", and the clerk wrote beside it, "Thomas Mulholland, his mark". We have belonged to Northern Ireland; we have always been there. As for me, it is still the Promised Land; it is still the Garden of Eden, and I am going to soldier on there, come what may.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord STRANGE
My Lords, may I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, for bringing the bogs of Ireland and the green hills of Tyrone right into this House. It is the best speech that I have heard to-day. I thank the noble Lord very much for it. Your Lordships know me, and you know I am an impossible person, always seeking the impossible, which makes it so difficult. I have very little to say, and I would not say it if I did not think that it was different from what has been said before. If one studies the police court records on Monday mornings in Glasgow or Belfast one will find that there has been quite a mini-riot going on; and this is historic, it goes on for ever. If you add to these people the agitators, the great grievants, and all the "cried-up" people who go to the supreme top edge of Mr. Paisley and so forth, you are getting a row.
1490 This last week a charming friend of mine, Colonel Gray, of the Paratroop Regiment, came to stay with me. He is a very astute chap, and he said, "If the Hunt Report comes out at the week-end I shall probably have to leave you early Sunday morning because they will be out shooting. If the Hunt Report is kept over to next week, I may be able to stay with you a bit longer because they will know more about it and they won't be shooting so much; there will be a riot the next morning". Of course, the Paratroop Regiment is a very distinguished Regiment who have been blowing out riots for ages all over the world. They have been in all these places. These boys think Colonel Grey is a wonderful colonel, and the majors, the N.C.Os and the men are all wonderful people; they are calm people and they know how to blow out riots. It is their job. You also have in Ireland the Royal Marines, who are equally good. There are a great many soldiers there who are having the most terrible time—and I hope something will be done about it—without any accommodation, and the way they are living is quite disgraceful. When winter comes I do not suppose it will be warm, they will be feeling rather damp anyway, and I think something should be done for them.
I have heard (and I cannot help mentioning it, although perhaps I ought not to say this) that the Grenadiers at Derry have blown out all the riots there just by pure efficiency. They are just sitting there and doing nothing, but their efficiency and competence has stopped all trouble there. I have heard that from two or three sources, and I think it is true. So that is the position. The expert riot people go in smoothly, kindly, quietly. They take out the leaders, and they keep on taking them out, putting them into "the clink", "jug", until there are no leaders left; and then the riot stops. That is the only way to stop a riot. It cannot be done in any other way. Other ways have been tried, but that is the way it is done.
Eventually, in Northern Ireland from these spot riots—for they are really spot riots—the authorities will have a bagful of general leaders, agitators and the like. And my own personal feeling is that when the foreign agitators leave (some of them got out fairly early on, but there 1491 may be some of the foreign agitators still "in the bag") it would be civil of the Northern Ireland Government if, before they pushed them out of the country, they stamped their passports, "Occupation, professional agitator". I think it would be civil to other countries, because there are so many of these agitators going about, and they are a perfect nuisance to everybody in the way they start riots. One can only hope that there will be peace after this.
The trouble has existed for a very long time, and one should now try some new approach. People who do not know the charm and calmness of Northern Ireland think it is the sort of place to which people should go to play soldiers. There seems to be civil war going on half the time, and people do not realise what a charming place it is. There is no doubt that the Irish are very charming people. There are some very amusing men and some very pretty girls in North and South Ireland; and they are nice people. But I do not know that this country has ever approached them in the right way.
I speak as one who is as English as you can get, and I know that I am charming. I know that we are all charming, and that we are wonderful, marvellous people. But, somehow, we never give that impression to other people. We mess about with our laws and cause historic grievances which have never been righted. Most of the Southern and Northern Irish are charming, but they have never found out how charming we are. They have never had anything but interference and upsets. But people cannot continue for ever thinking about "the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit", as that time is a bit far off.
The noble Earl, Lord Longford, made a very true remark, when he said that the Southern Irish want us to be more friendly and that they would join in if we were more friendly. Surely, after all these years we could start being kind and friendly, and could say to Southern Ireland, "Look, we are neighbours of yours. We like you, and we think the Irish are amusing people." If that were said to Southern Ireland, as well as to Northern Ireland, it might make a big difference. But if the Southern Irish got the six emeralds of Tyrone in their
1492 Crown they might find them rather phoney, because the British Government have spent an enormous sum of money on industries and are going to spend a lot more.
All that money has been spent, however, in a place which does not have a coalmine or any natural resources at all. I am told, on quite good authority, that even flax is now imported into Northern Ireland and that the country stands entirely on our loans and on its exports to us. If the British Government left it and the Southern Irish got it, it would be a "dead letter" country to them. It would be in the red from the word, "go". I do not think the Southern Irish really want it, although they would not say so officially. Before I leave that aspect, I might add that there are our friends the I.R.A., who are now said to be purely a revolutionary body, and they could come over the Border.
Then the Irish have an enormous sense of humour, and nobody has thought of exploiting their sense of humour. They are very witty people, and in the trouble centres they write on the walls. "Throw well, throw Shell!" I think that is witty, although rather sinister. It is what is called a "sick joke". Also, they put detergent in the petrol bombs, so that if they hit anybody they cannot be put out, and the people have to run about on fire. Even so, there is a grain of wit in that. There are many true stories about the Irish sense of humour. There is the story of a woman who got a piano out of a shop window. She went to get the rest of her friends to help her, but when she came back she found that somebody had taken the piano. She tried to find a policeman to get the "thief" arrested for stealing, because she thought it was her piano as she got it through the plate glass window first. So a sense of humour could be got into the rioting, which has been going on for years. Nobody has ever stopped it, and a sense of humour would be a very good thing. I want to stress those two points: more friendship with Southern Ireland—and how else can we talk about this problem?—and a strong sense of humour. We should not take this matter too seriously.
Lastly (and I consider it is the most important thing in the world to-day, although nobody else thinks so) we in this country should set an example to 1493 Northern Ireland which could spread throughout the world. We should make it clear that we believe in the freedom of speech, but that we also believe in truth, and if anybody makes public speeches from platforms—and I do not leave out politicians—the speeches should be dissected and checked to see what has been said to start up the trouble. If we did that in Northern Ireland, there would not be half the trouble. There are so many people talking, agitating, getting other people stirred up; and nobody really knows what has been said and how the row started. If the speeches were dissected, and if it were shown that they were misleading people, it would be a great step forward not only in Ireland but throughout our civilised world.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, I always find it a little difficult to follow the noble Lord, Lord Strange. He has said that he is charming, and I am sure that all of us in this House recognise his charm and consider that his human approach to these problems is not only a contribution to the solution of the difficulties in Northern Ireland but a contribution to the solution of many of the problems in the world. I shall be referring later to his point about the condition of the soldiers who are now in Northern Ireland. I want to say how much I appreciated the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath. I am quite sure that all of us who heard it were tremendously informed, not only about the more superficial conditions in Northern Ireland but about the deeper conditions to which he referred. I was especially pleased to hear his tribute to the trade unionists, and I shall be referring later to their contribution.
In a sense, this debate is both too early and too late. It is too early, because we are still in the centre of this crisis and almost any comment upon it may add wounds rather than healing. I shall endeavour to speak with restraint so that I am not guilty of causing harm. This debate is too late, because our Parliament and our Government have a very considerable responsibility for what has happened in Northern Ireland. Those on these Benches may criticise the Unionist Party in Northern Ireland and past Stor- 1494 mont Governments, but all of us have a responsibility in that we did not take action on these matters earlier, and, in the words of Mr. Quintin Hogg in his speech at the Brighton Conservative Conference, did not insist long ago that there should be no second-class citizens in the United Kingdom.
I think we should begin by recognising and welcoming the revolution in opinion and attitudes which has now taken place in the responsible leadership in Northern Ireland. It is only a few months ago that the Prime Minister of the Stormont Government was removed because he was regarded as too moderate and conciliatory. We have now had the Cameron Report, which is one of the deepest indictments of a society that has ever been written and which has been accepted by the Stormont Government. We have also had this extraordinary series of reforms which have been proposed by our Home Secretary, Mr. Callaghan, which will change the whole character of Northern Ireland and which, again, have been accepted. This is a mental transformation in the leadership of a country for which I think it would be very difficult indeed to find any parallel and which we all must deeply and sincerely welcome.
But I think we must face the fact, as particularly emphasised in the speech of my noble friend Lord Stonham to-day, that the difficulties of implementing these changes are going to be very great. It is not merely the opposition which is led by Mr. Paisley, or the degree of support which he has received, which is disturbing. It is too much to expect that an attitude of mind which has been dominant over fifty years is going easily to adjust itself to the changes which are now being proposed; and, my Lords, we in our Parliament and in this country must do everything to strengthen the hands of those in Northern Ireland who are pledged to these reforms. There is the danger that even in the Unionist Party, of which the Stormont Government is an expression, there may be, as speeches to-day have indicated, a revolt against the policy of that leadership. We must make it clear that we will take every step necessary in this country to support the full implementation of those reforms.
To-day we have had a number of tributes, and I never feel very much inspired to paying personal tributes; I do 1495 not believe in the personality cult. But I am quite impelled to pay a tribute to the part which our Home Secretary, Mr. James Callaghan, has played—to the extraordinary combination of firmness, of good will and conciliation which he has shown in his visits to Northern Ireland, when it would have been so easy to make mistakes. He has not made a mistake; and his contribution to the kind of feeling that there is in the leadership in Northern Ireland to-day cannot be overpraised. I just add to that—and so many words have been said to-day that I need not press it—not only our admiration but our affection for the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for what he did both on this occasion and on so many other occasions. Let me be inclusive. I want to express my appreciation of the speech which Mr. Quintin Hogg made on this subject at the Conservative Conference, which has also contributed towards the present situation. The noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, referred to the part of Church leaders—Presbyterians, Catholics, Father Murphy. To that I want to add only my expression of appreciation of the action of the Lady Mayoress of Belfast yesterday in appealing to the women in Northern Ireland.
My Lords, I did not expect the day would ever come when I should welcome the presence of British troops in Ireland, but I say at once that I do welcome them in Northern Ireland to-day. The tribute that one has paid to the Home Secretary might be extended, not only to the commanders but to the rank and file of the troops who are in Northern Ireland. Their restraint, their conciliation, their discipline under strain and fatigue, have been quite remarkable. I urge Her Majesty's Government to take very urgent action indeed to improve the conditions under which the troops are serving in Northern Ireland. We have seen the photographs of them sleeping on pavements after twelve or fifteen hours' duty. We have seen the report in The Times this morning of there not being enough beds for them to sleep on; how they are sleeping on the floors; how, in the Falls Road School, 100 troops have only three lavatories between them. My Lords, such conditions might be expected were the troops serving in the desert or in the front line of war, but that these conditions should be tolerated in a modern city 1496 seems to me to be unforgivable; and, while they have shown all this restraint and conciliation, there is just some danger that if they are asked to accept intolerable conditions of strain and fatigue their nerve may to some extent break.
I was moved by what the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, said regarding the contribution which trade unionists in Northern Ireland have been making during this crisis. He spoke, as a director, of his own workers and of the attitude of the shop stewards. I want to speak of the workers in the shipbuilding industry and of the shop stewards there, who, among the workers, have spread the view that between Protestants and Catholics there must remain good will, comradeship, no discrimination and no antagonism. I regard this as a great hope for the future, because both the Protestant workers and the Catholic workers in Northern Ireland are the victims of the poverty which is there. They have been divided one from the other on the grounds of their Catholic religion or their Protestant religion, but they are both the victims of wretched wages, of long periods of unemployment—greater by far than there is in this country—and of appalling slum conditions. The fact that, during this crisis, the trade unionists, Catholic and Protestant, have refrained from falling to the pressures on each side gives some hope that the workers in Northern Ireland will begin to realise that they must find a basis of common action on the ground of their struggle against poverty, unemployment, the appalling housing conditions and all the wretchedness which our present industrial society brings to them.
I welcome the contribution which Her Majesty's Government have decided to make towards industrial development in Ireland, but I have one doubt. Our subsidies in grants and customs to Northern Ireland already amount to between £140 million and £150 million a year. That is, ironically, equal to all the aid which we give to the developing countries throughout the whole world. Those are the subsidies we give; and yet there is poverty, there is unemployment, there are appalling slums. If we are to make this additional contribution towards the industrial development of Northern Ireland, it will require a plan—a plan not 1497 merely for the creation of new industries but one which also determines that the wealth of this industrial development shall go to the people and begin to lift them up from the appalling standards of life from which they now suffer. Do that and you will make your biggest contribution towards the future of Ireland. I say this passionately, because I am one of those who believe that a better environment, better human conditions, will be the greatest contribution to ending the kind of conflict which exists in Northern Ireland to-day. If Catholic and Protestant workers can together unite for this purpose, it will lead to a diminution of the antagonism which now exists.
My Lords, Britain's relations with Ireland over three centuries, from the days of Cromwell onwards, have not been very happy, I believe that we now have a new opportunity to end discrimination, a new opportunity—and I repeat what I said earlier—to carry out what Mr. Quintin Hogg said at the Brighton Conference: to end any second-class citizenship within the United Kingdom. I believe that we have a new opportunity to build a new standard of life for the people of Northern Ireland. And, my Lords, I do not want us to think at this point only of Northern Ireland; I believe that we have a new opportunity within the whole of Ireland itself. Even before recent events relations between Northern and Southern Ireland had improved. The Prime Ministers had met. The Prime Minister of Southern Ireland has now given a pledge that he will not seek any alteration of the Border by force.
If these reforms are carried out in Northern Ireland, if the Catholic minority are given equality of opportunity and the discriminations against them are removed, the effect will inevitably spread, and happily spread, to Southern Ireland as well. I want to reiterate the plea which my noble friend, Lord Longford, made to-day: that even if there are not official communications between our Government and the Government of Southern Ireland, there should be an attitude of friendly consultation. In the relations between Governments, one knows that, apart from what is done officially, the attitude of co-operation and friendship which can exist between representatives creates an entirely new climate. As did my noble 1498 friend Lord Longford, I am appealing for that new climate in our relations with Southern Ireland. It is too early to move towards a pact in the relationship of Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland; it is not too early to create this climate of co-operation. We have been going through terrible days of tragedy in Northern Ireland, but I believe they can be made an opportunity for better relations not only within Northern Ireland but between the North and the South. I beg Her Majesty's Government—and I know they have the mind to respond—to seize this opportunity.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD
My Lords, surely the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, rather exaggerated the conditions prevailing in the North of Ireland. That the wages are low by English standards is true enough; and I agree that the unemployment rate is high. But the people of the North of Ireland do have the Welfare State to a great extent as it is practised here in England and throughout the United Kingdom. I rather object to the impression that the noble Lord gave, that the North of Ireland was a place where people were almost starving and were living in direst poverty. I agree that there is bad housing, especially in Belfast, and that there are also slum dwellings perhaps in one or two other towns. But the picture is not so bad as that given by the noble Lord.
I spent my very early years in the North of Ireland, until I was about seven. Of course I was then burnt out—or, rather, my parents were burnt out, which comes to the same thing. I can vaguely remember what was then called "The Troubles" in the early 1920s. From what I can remember, the troubles then appeared much more clearly cut than is the case to-day. The fundamental issues were quite clear. It was really, in the First World War, a rebellion against the British Crown, and so far as I can remember there was little talk of religious differences. I was brought up always to respect the Catholics, and although my family have always in Ireland espoused the Protestant cause—they did so throughout the whole country before the Union, and not only in the North of Ireland—in fact they have given land to the Roman Catholics for churches.
1499 I was rather surprised to hear the noble Earl, Lord Longford, emphasising the religious differences. I was pleased to hear my noble friend, Lord Dunleath, say that in his opinion religious differences played a very small part in the present troubles, and I agree with him. It must be extremely hard for people in this country to understand and it must appear as rather a fantasy. If you compare the present situation with that in the 1920s and the period of the Great War, you realise that at that time it would have been quite impossible to have a crowd waving Union Jacks and at the same time abusing British troops and hurling missiles at them.
The present situation appears to be completely different. The reason is that this is not a spontaneous rising. The trouble this year—it really started last year—has been very carefully planned. We have seen reports in papers such as The Times that in the North of Ireland people have been seen who are professional agitators and who have taken part in riots in Paris and disturbances in London and other capitals. I think that the People's Democratic Party, in which Miss Devlin plays such a large part, have announced publicly—or Miss Devlin has announced publicly—that their object is to have a united Ireland run on the lines of Cuba. Therefore I think we must regard the present troubles as being rather different.
I was saying that the whole affair must appear extraordinary to people in this country. Ulster is a very loyal part of the United Kingdom—it is second to none in that regard—and it must be very difficult for people here to understand why any advance of the Catholics in the North of Ireland (and they have been rightly helped by British troops) appears to drive the Protestants, or some of them, into a frenzy. My Lords, the reason is not because Protestants in the North of Ireland have religious differences with the Catholics. If the Protestants in the North of Ireland were in England, they could be perfectly friendly with the Catholics in England and have no differences with them at all. The reason the Protestants in the North of Ireland appear to be anti-Catholic—the educated ones are not, but the majority are—is because of their fear of what the Catholics in Ireland represent.
1500 This is a very primitive fear. The Protestants are afraid that one day, if the Catholic Republican Government in Eire ever got control of the North of Ireland, they would lose some of their property or some of their rights. This fear may not be justified, but it is an instinctive fear. You could say that it is a primitive instinct of territorial rights. In order to obtain real peace in the North of Ireland the Protestants there must be disabused of this fear. If there were only 5 per cent., or even 10 per cent., of Catholics in the North of Ireland, there would be no trouble at all; but with 30 per cent. or perhaps slightly more, and with a very powerful Catholic neighbour in the South, the Protestants do have these fears. They probably remember that when the Irish Republic came into being about a quarter of the population was Protestant. To-day, only about 5 per cent. of the population in Southern Ireland is Protestant. There is no discrimination against Protestants in Southern Ireland, and if there were only 5 per cent. of Catholics in the North I am sure that there would be no discrimination against them. If only we could drive this fear from the Protestants in the North of Ireland I think that all our troubles would be over. But the question is, how to do that.
My Lords, I should like to suggest one or two ways in which we might do it. The first would be if the heads of the Catholic community, which of course includes the Southern Irish Government, would give up their dream of a united Ireland. That would go a long way, perhaps the whole way, to calming these fears. Apart from the need for a majority in the North of Ireland to desire a united Ireland for it to be achieved, the idea of a united Ireland is something for the distant future—if ever it comes at all. It is a day-dream. Therefore, if the leaders of the Catholic community would stop holding out this dream of a united Ireland, that would go a long way to appeasing Protestant fears.
I agree that, because of their fears, the Protestants have not been all they might have been. The noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, mentioned schools, and I believe that schools were mentioned also by the noble Earl, Lord Longford. I understand the difficulties, but it would 1501 be a great help if the Catholic community could have schools where there were Catholics and Protestants. This would not interfere with the religious teaching of Catholics. There could be separate classrooms, but if the children could play together and eat together that would be a great help. Because of conditions in Northern Ireland the Catholic and Protestant population tend to separate into two different communities. One of the reasons is the Protestant habit of a great number of local authorities responsible for housing of herding all the Catholics into the same area. I do not know why they do this, but I have a shrewd idea that perhaps it has something to do with elections. I want to play down the idea in the minds of many English people that in Northern Ireland there is great religious hate, as in the Middle Ages. This is not true. It is a question of this fear about which I have been speaking.
I welcome the Hunt Report on the reorganisation of the police. I should also like to pay tribute to the Royal Ulster Constabulary. They are a fine body of men who have only been doing their duty as they see it. There may be one or two bad ones, but we have them in our own police forces and they are to be found in any organisation. The men of the R.U.C. have been rather hurt, I think, by the amount of criticism they have received. I should like to point out that when the R.U.C. are unarmed the organisation of this new special duties force will take some time. Will this force be able to defend the Border? We must remember that over the last fifty years the raids across the Border have all been from the South. There has never been a raid from the North. If we do not give Ulster Protestants every hope of full protection on the Border they are going to be very uneasy. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, said that the Prime Minister of Southern Ireland is anxious to be helpful. I am sure that he is now anxious to be helpful, but I hardly think it was being helpful to mobilise troops in Southern Ireland and to take the matter to the United Nations. I am sure that Mr. Lynch is a moderate man. I have met him. He is certainly no fanatic or trouble-maker.
1502 Those parts of the Cameron Report that I have read seem fair enough, but I wonder whether discrimination has not been over-played a little. I hope that out of these troubles will come a new era for Ulster. It is an excellent thing that Catholics are to be recruited as members of the new unarmed police force and that Cardinal Conway has given his support. Major Chichester-Clark has pointed out that the Unionist Party has always been pleased to have Catholic members. There is an idea abroad that the Unionist Party is a sort of secret society controlled by Orangemen. That is not so; it has always been open to Catholic members.
I hope that it will not be found necessary to keep such large British forces in am afraid that it may be because it will take quite a time for the more extreme Protestants in Northern Ireland to get used to these new arrangements. I am sure that if tolerance is forthcoming from both sides—it will certainly be forth-coming from Major Chichester-Clark and the majority of the Unionist Party—Ulster may look forward to a healthy future. I should like to add a note of warning about the revolutionary elements that have been stirring up this trouble. They are a very small minority but it would be wise for the authorities to keep an eye on their movements. In conclusion, I can only express my best wishes for the implementation of the Hunt Committee's proposals and the hope that when we come to debate this matter again we shall have a much more cheerful outlook to discuss.
§ 7.10 p.m.
The Earl of GOWRIE
My Lords, the speech which at 2.30 this afternoon appeared to be a collaboration on Irish themes between Burke and Wilde now looks like an effort of the Vicar of Bray on one of his off days. I am going to cut into that considerably. I will not follow my noble friend directly, because I did not catch a completely coherent argument from him. I caught a reference to the Welfare State which I shall take up later, and which I am grateful to him for raising. He said something about small minorities. It is conventional piety in dealing with any trouble to talk about small or violent minorities. It must be said that almost everything in life that 1503 moves people forward or backwards is done by small minorities. It is not an argument to raise.
I was fascinated by Lord Dunleath's eloquence and speech. I felt that the authentic breeze of ruling Ulster in its greatness, as well as some things that I disagree with, came into the Chamber, and I think we needed that to give authenticity and realism to this debate. I am again a little critical of his itemising minorities here and there, militants or thugs in a fairly generalised way. It seems as if the noble Lord was expecting that the Apprentice Boys of Derry would shortly roll up at the London School of Economics to see what they could do there.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, identified the Republic of Ireland, where I live, rather too closely, I think, with Mr. de Valera. I was born under Mr. de Valera's T. Sharpenden—if that is the word—and I have great respect and admiration for him. So I say to the noble Lord that if he goes to our Library and looks at the copies of the Irish Times of the last two days he will see an enchanting picture of Mr. De Valera and his spaniel. He is celebrating his 87th birthday, and not everything in contemporary Ireland can be identified with his régime.
I want to address myself briefly to a theme that crops up again and again in debate on the Ulster question. It is what might be called a form of political paranoia; the feeling, at once violent and vague, that the Catholic sector of the community is at heart opposed to the very existence of Ulster as a sovereign, if dependent, State. Recently we have heard of another sad neurosis said to be raging in Protestant group psychology; namely, the feeling that not only Westminster, but also Major Chichester-Clark's rather cliff-hanging ré gime, is liable at any moment to sell the majority down the minority's river. Because of these fears, many noble Lords and many Members of another place have urged more and more reassurances in more and more unqualified terms that nothing is further from Westminster's and Stormont's minds; from Mr. Callaghan's and Mr. Healey's minds, Mr. Hogg's mind and, of course, Lord Cameron's and Lord Hunt's minds.
1504 My Lords, I believe that this is entirely to the good. But what too few people stop to consider is the question of what is on Mr. Lynch's mind, and Fianna Fail's mind, and what the group psychology of the Catholic majority in the Irish Republic might be, at least where it bears on the sad breakdown of order and good government in Northern Ireland.
The only reason why I put my name down to speak, albeit briefly, this evening is that I was born in the Republic, and live there, and so may be able to add a little flesh to your Lordships' and the people of Northern Ireland's desire for reassurances. Of course, we who live in the Republic regret the Border. At their least controversial level, borders are bores. Of course, too, we have a sense of and love for the geophysical union of Ireland, and an understandable sense of identification with that beautiful and still largely unspoilt unity. But the vast majority of us—a majority who stood stolidily behind Mr. Lynch and his Party at the last election—are realistic about our relations with the United Kingdom.
Early in this century we made our political point and, at any rate to an acceptable degree, achieved our political ends. Our concerns now—again, the vast majority of us—are the obvious ones. We want to improve our economic condition and more equitably distribute the fruits of that improvement around the country, and do this in the form of the Social Services of which Westminster and, yes, Stormont provide good examples, and which we rather conspicuously lack. In the first of these aims we depend very largely on our special trading and taxation relationships with the United Kingdom; and we know it. In the second aim, we have, as I say, a decent example very close to hand. My local paper, wrote after the first wave of disturbances in Londonderry last year:Remember that it is still better to be poor in Derry than poor in Cork.And it was that Cork man, Mr. Lynch, to whom the editor of my local paper was addressing himself.
I want to make one more point about Mr. Lynch. It has been said that his sending troops—even in a kind of "field-hospital" capacity—to the Border was 1505 irresponsible, and in some way an encouragement, a backing up of violence, specifically Catholic violence in Londonderry and Belfast; likewise his involving the United Nations in the dispute. My Lords, I have tried to present the majority of us who live in the South as moderate men—but men we are; human, political animals, subject, like men in Westminster and men in Stormont, to the pressures and exigencies of political life. If Mr. Lynch had done nothing he would quite simply have lost his job. He has his own Right-wingers and Left-wingers to contend with; his own "hyenas" and "stormy petrels".
Popular opinion where I live, the Dublin area in fact, believes that the true role of the army of the Irish Republic was to keep their illegitimate namesake out of the North; that Mr. Lynch's act was in effect a totally legitimate one of internal policing. I am not concerned to argue this point—historically, I do not know. I mention it, as others have done, to indicate what responsible metropolitan opinion in Dublin in my experience believes. And because I believe this experience to be capable of reassuring those who are very often much too quick to see the shadow of the gunman behind Republican politics, I mention it.
I beg your Lordships, and my noble friends especially (I am finding out the hard way my noble friends' historical tendency to be "hardliners" where Irish affairs are concerneed) to re-read Mr. Hogg's speech, and especially the passage quoted—I mean mentioned—by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and to read tomorrow Lord Longford's speech, and not to yield to the temptation of finding a Republican bogey behind every bush.
Those of us who wish to see the Border come down are very likely to be supporters of more rather than less regional autonomy, fulfilling in the end their larger aims in the continent of which we are necessarily a part. The Irish people, having won their independence, are no longer xenophobic, as indeed one would expect from a people with a long tradition of immigration. The Catholic sensibility (I am, incidentally, a Protestant) is one obviously well equipped to deal with the European idea. It seems to me that it is in the context of the European idea, the common European challenge, that we 1506 must dare hope that regional, cultural and spiritual borders may be life-enriching things, never again to be associated with barbed wire, or barricades, or violent death.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ The Earl of CORK and ORRERY
My Lords, there has, I think, been one small but noticeable gap in the course of our debate up to this time, and that is the presence of, in spirit only, though very often referred to, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. It seems to me a little sad that he has not been able to hear all the kind and admiring things that have been said about him. He will look forward to reading them in the morning, and when he does so, I would ask him to associate me with everything that has been said to his credit. It is pleasant to see him now.
Reverting to the Cameron Report, if we turn to Chapter 16, page 91, we find that there are seven general conclusions. They all refer in the first word or two of each paragraph to such matters as "A rising sense of continuing injustice"; "Complaints … of discrimination"; "Complaints … of deliberate manipulation of local government"; "A growing and powerful sense of resentment and frustration"; "Resentment"; "Widespread resentment"; and "Fears and apprehensions". That is the gist of those seven general conclusions.
If we turn back to paragraph 6 we find the passage already quoted by my noble friend Lord Brooke, but perhaps I may be forgiven for skimming through it again in order to produce a comment. It refers to,a widespread sense of political and social grievance for long unadmitted and therefore unredressed by successive Governments of Northern Ireland, and on the other sentiments of fear and apprehension sincerely and tenaciously felt and believed, of risks to the integrity and indeed continued existence of the state.The comment is not from myself, but from the Home Secretary the day before yesterday, who said this in the course of his most admirable speech, if I may so describe it:I do not think that it is possible to better that as a short description in one sentence of the causes which have underlain much of the disturbances and violence that we have seen in Northern Ireland during the summer months."—[OFFICIAL Report, Commons, 13/10/69; col. 47.]1507 I feel very strongly inclined to concur in that opinion.
The point I want to make is that all these matters that have been mentioned in that passage and in the general conclusions at the end, excellently though they may summarise the immediate causes of the disturbances and riots that we have lately seen or experienced, miss out altogether one factor which I have not heard seriously or deliberately mentioned anywhere at all—the fears. All these prejudices, resentments and one thing and another may, broadly speaking, for convenience, be classified as fears of one kind or another. Fear, whatever it may be, must have not only an effect but a cause as well. It is very difficult to disentangle cause and effect, and the fears that operate in Northern Ireland are sometimes cause and sometimes effect. At the back of all these fears, somewhere deep down below them, there lies something which is much more difficult to dispose of than a fear, which can be disposed of by the removal of its causes, something which will last much longer, because it is embedded not in politics, nor in economics, but in the hearts of men; and that is hate.
I have no doubt whatever that in Northern Ireland it is not a normal factor or symptom of the disease which operates among the people as a whole, but it most certainly does operate. We see it at its most spectacular when it comes out in what my noble friend Lord Coleraine described as that "nightmare figure" Mr. Paisley, that bogus cleric who is able to twist the Gospel to his own purposes and use good, honest Christian hymns for purposes which are something totally opposite. Mr. Callaghan also said very well that Fight the Good Fight sounds very different in the morning, after a night of rioting, from the way it sounds when sung in a village church on a Sunday afternoon.
I do not suggest that hate is generated by a Paisley or a Bunting. I say it is greatly magnified. Also it is endemic in the whole situation. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, referred to prejudices—I think that was the word—prejudices that one may take in with one's mother's milk. It would not be too strong to use the word "hate" for what is taken in by many children in the North of Ireland with their mother's milk. I do not wish 1508 to make the mistake that others were warned against, pretending that this is a very widespread thing, for it is localised to certain districts. In the districts to which I refer, children are brought up and they are born, not asEither a little LiberalOr else a little Conservative",but as a little Catholic or a little Protestant—or, as they might say, a little "Mick" or a little "Prod". They grow up thinking almost automatically from birth that the other side are the "baddies". The reason why they are the "baddies" is because of some perfectly good reason that is explained to them, not because they believe in transubstantiation, or anything like that. It is not purely a religious matter, it is sectarian; because "they are the other side, they are against us, and we have reason to be afraid of what they intend to do, whether they are a minority, or a majority". That is prejudice, that is fear; but having started in babyhood like that, it ends up as hate.
I use that word on purpose, not because I am being deliberately pessimistic but because I wish to reduce the euphoria which has been generated, to some extent, over the future and which would have us believe that when the causes of the fears are removed, as they will be by these old-fashioned type of things, then all will be happy and "Mick" and "Prod" can go out and be happy and gay together. But, my Lords, they will not. It will take three generations to do that in some parts of Northern Ireland simply because this hate is ingrained. Look for the reason, not to the religious difference or the sectarian difference; look simply to the fact that these children were brought up as babies to feel like this. Intellectually they may grow up to know better; but even when the hate has turned to prejudice it will still be there and the country will not be calm, happy and sunny from the point of view of 90 per cent. of the inhabitants, as it ought to be and as we all long to see it.
I may be told that this is simply Cassandra-type talking. Perhaps it is, but I believe it is true and that we shall have to keep troops in Ireland for a long time. However, my prognostications in that matter are perhaps of No interest. To be a little bit more practical, I should like to touch again on something which 1509 has been mentioned only once in this debate, and then by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, and that is the question of the Border. The question of the Border has been mentioned often enough, but he said something in particular to which I am referring. It has been said frequently in the Prime Ministers' communiqué s which have come from Downing Street and Stormont that the Border is not an issue. It has been said by the noble Lord, the Leader of the House, this afternoon, and it has been said by other noble Lords. We all know precisely what they mean. They mean that the Border is not a thing to be talked about in this connection; that there is no question of bargaining over the Border; that the Border is fixed, and there it is. It is something which should be told, and repeatedly told, to the people of Northern Ireland.
But however much you may go on saying that the Border is not an issue, the fact remains that it is not only an issue but the issue. The Border is the fount and origin of the existence of Northern Ireland—you cannot get away from that fact. It is the fount and origin of the dominance of the Ulster Unionist Party for the past fifty years. It is responsible for the existence of Stormont Castle itself. It is responsible for the arming, which now, thanks to the Hunt Committee, is to come to an end, of that remarkably fine police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary. It brought into being and maintained in being the B Specials. You cannot just laugh it off and say that if all the fears about housing, discrimination—economic and otherwise—are taken away, then all will be happy and everybody will sit down and enjoy the Border.
The Border is not permanent. It was not meant to be permanent when it was set there. It has grown more permanent and fixed in the intervening fifty years, and perhaps it will become permanent. Some hope that it will; some hope that it will not. The point is that control of the Border, whether it remains or goes, is now, at least by inference, in the hands of the majority at Stormont, and nobody else. The Act says that it shall not be done away with without the agreement of the Northern Irish Parliament. The Northern Irish Parliament presumably represents the Northern Irish people. In 1510 another document (I am not quite sure which document) the phrase "People and Parliament" is used. I do not know what that means, precisely. It is either people, or Parliament, or both, but presumably they are not identified one with another. So long as the Parliament of the country and the Province is responsible for keeping or destroying the Border, the people who are in power in Parliament will see that it stays there. That is what has been happening for fifty years.
Even if the disabilities are taken away and a much more liberal attitude obtains, the fact is that there will still be fears on the part of the people that there may grow up a Roman Catholic majority in Parliament—not necessarily the country—which will do away with the Border. That fear will remain and in fact may be increased to a certain extent. The electoral fear of the Unionist, the Loyalist, as he calls himself—very often rightly—will remain; and so every general election from 1921 up to this time and into the future is an election and will be an election about the Border. In how many constituencies is it possible for a candidate to be elected on any other point? If there is a Catholic and a Protestant in a constituency, then one stands for the abolition of the Border and one stands for the retention of the Border. That may not be literally true, but, vaguely speaking, that is the general attitude of mind of many people. Therefore a Protestant, as he is probably a Protestant Unionist, at any rate, gets elected. So every election is about the Border, and no election is about housing or economics or policy of any other kind.
Is it not possible to do what the noble Lord, Lord Monson, suggested and take this matter right out of politics altogether? I do not know how it can be done. I make no particular suggestions about numbers, majorities or anything of that kind. It is possible that I may be one of those to whom the noble Lord referred when he said that something had been published in the last few months, because I have written about this. But it seems to me that it would be of the greatest possible help if this matter could be taken out of the hands of the majority in Parliament and put into the hands of the majority in the country, so that the decision about the Border, if it ever had to be made, should be made by the whole 1511 people, the whole electorate, voting on that one point, and that only.
One other point and I have done. This is, I am afraid, repetitive—it is worth repeating—but I wish once more to draw attention to, and to reinforce, what was said by Mr. Quintin Hogg in his speech. It has been referred to this afternoon by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and also by my noble friend Lord Gowrie just now. It is the matter of bridge-building with the South. It is idle to pretend that the people of the Republic of Ireland have No interest in the affairs of the North. Of course they have. There is no need even to argue that, surely. During the recent troubles and the earlier ones, in Derry particularly, perhaps some misguided things were said. They were said on both sides. I think they were said by Mr. Lynch, and probably also, with great provocation and every justification, by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in reply to Mr. Lynch—a rather crisp retort.
Let us not repeat them. On the other hand, let us not take it for granted that hard things are to be said if, in a situation such as that, the Government of the Republic should send up ambulance services and ancillary troops to support them. This is a perfectly reasonable and proper thing to do; exactly proper; no more and no less proper than it was for any country to send ambulance units with ancillary troops, supporting troops, to the borders of Czechoslovakia when the riots were going on there. I do not make a comparison between the two situations, except that those in a country on one side of the Border are interested in people who are their concern to some extent on the other side. It is an ordinary matter of humanity. It is a great pity, I think, that this kind of thing is drummed up into a provocation which, to my mind, it should never have been.
My Lords, I think that is about all I have to say, but I end as I began and revert to the matter of hate. This is the one underlying factor. There is only one weapon that can be used against hate and that is love; and that is a weapon (if "weapon" is the right word: I think it is) which I am thankful to see is being used now. The word may not be readily recognisable to everybody. But good will, patience, a determination to help, to see 1512 that conditions are made easier, so that people may live together in peace and look forward to a life in which they are not estranged from one another within the borders of their own country—that, my Lords, is love; and that, manifesting chiefly I suspect as patience into a quite long-drawn-out future, is the great policy that we must now take in our hands and put into effect.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Lord GIFFORD
My Lords, I wish to say at once that my direct experience of Northern Ireland is small. It is limited to a short but very memorable visit to Belfast and Londonderry at the beginning of January of this year. The students' march from Belfast to Derry had just ended; the attack of the police on the Bogside had taken place a few days before, and the barricades were still up. When I attended mass meetings held by the Citizens' Action Committee there, when I talked to the people of Bogside and saw the vigilantes out in their hundreds right through the nights I was there, I began to be convinced no doubt if I had seen an equivalent Protestant working-class community I should have been equally convinced that things at that point were getting to a stage—indeed, had arrived at the stage—where words like "patience", "moderation" and "trust" had almost ceased to be applicable.
I was in Bogside as secretary of a committee of the Society of Labour Lawyers, which was set up in the summer of 1967 to look into the allegations of discrimination in Northern Ireland. Over twelve months that committee received a mountain of evidence from all sides. It is a matter of very great regret to me that the time and the resources at our disposal did not enable us to get a report out on that evidence almost as soon as it was received; because while we were still in the process of our investigations the first upheaval of October 5 (only just over a year ago), the first wave, began to break over Northern Ireland. Since then the question of Northern Ireland, and any utility of our work, has been somewhat overtaken by events and by the investigations made by people more qualified than I am.
It is worth looking back at the evidence which we received then before there was 1513 any question of strife, or before there was any outbreak of strife. If one looks at the evidence, and at the grievances which were being formulated during that time, the first thing that strikes one, and strikes one as being very tragic, is that even as short a time as twelve months ago these convulsions in Northern Ireland could have been avoided. They could have been avoided by taking steps and making reforms, which would have been only half as radical as those that are now promised by the present Government. The demands that were being made during 1967 and 1968, and of course long before that, were modest and simple enough. The first one—we must remember this—was for universal adult suffrage in local government elections. It is a measure, it is sad to say, of the blindness of the then Administration that that demand was not finally acceded to, even after so much trouble, until May of this year.
Those who gave evidence to us demanded an end to the monstrous disparity of local authority boundaries. They demanded an end to discrimination in the allocation of local authority housing—discrimination which then was not even admitted but which now has been tackled, not only by the model points scheme but more effectively by the appointment of the central housing authority. And they demanded, finally, an end to discrimination in public employment. That was about the sum total of the grievances which were then present, it seemed to us, in the minds of those who gave evidence. All these matters are now part of the policy—some have been part of it for some time—of the Northern Ireland Government.
It is not only—I say this in no spirit of apportioning blame—the O'Neill Government who were culpable in not facing up to those demands. They had, after all, an invidious task in standing up to their own Right Wing. It is we, all of us, as has been said before this afternoon, who are to blame. All of us are to blame, all of us here in Westminster, who assumed that the welfare of the people of Northern Ireland could best be left to their own Government. The idea that it was better not to intervene in Northern Ireland has now of course been shown to be hopelessly misleading, because it is quite clear that only since our Government have taken a strong and 1514 positive line and positive action on Northern Ireland have the problems been seriously faced and radical solutions advanced.
I say at once that although action from Westminster was belated—and we are all to blame for that—now that it has come it has been handled by the Home Secretary in a masterly manner. In both his personal courage, his evident determination to see that radical change is effected, and also in his political skill I think he has won the admiration of everyone in this House. Reforms which were unthinkable only a few months ago have now been adopted as the policy of the Northern Ireland Government.
It has been said in the past that the solution to these problems would be direct rule from Westminster. I hope that that will never be necessary, because I believe it to be a recipe for greater bloodshed. It is obvious that the stamp of Westminster—the hallmark of Westminster—is now on the reforms which have been announced. I believe that Section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act is now a living reality in the co-operation which the Government of Westminster is giving to the Government in Stormont, and that the best guarantee of a permanent solution is in the present action of the Home Secretary and his advisers—and of course, the troops.
That is all I wish to say about the past, except for one thing. I think it is only right that I, who perhaps am the youngest (I am not quite sure) who has spoken, should pay tribute to one group whose contribution I think has not been sufficiently recognised. I refer to the young people of the People's Democracy. I have met many of them, and I believe that the idealism of youth has scarcely anywhere been put to greater good purpose than over the last year in Northern Ireland. They have shown physical courage, as anyone who has followed the events of the Belfast—Londonderry march can testify. Their ideals and the ideals of their movement, as expressed in the manifesto which is on the last page of the Cameron Report, are clearly a reflection of the yearnings of many of their elders and are reflected by their electoral success. Most important of all, they have resolutely refused, as indeed has the rest of the Civil Rights Movement, to act along sectarian lines. No 1515 better understanding of the predicament of working-class Paisleyites has come to my notice than in the speech of Miss Bernadette Devlin on Monday last. She realises the pressures and quite appropriately blames, not them but those who have led them to think of politics and political action, not along lines of policies but along lines of religion.
I now turn to the future—and not so much the immediate future of getting out of the present mess: I think we must leave that essentially to the wisdom of the two Governments and, to some extent, to our hope that the backlash will not be too great. I turn to the permanent future, to ensure a permanently just society for Northern Ireland. I come back to the record of successive Governments because it is an awful warning for the future. It may be true (and I have no reason to doubt this) that the Government in Northern Ireland to-day has set its face firmly toward reform. But it might be easy when the heat is off to be subjected to the same temptations as were yielded to before. It might be easy, when the troops eventually leave, for our Government to feel that, the emergency being over, they can again leave Northern Ireland to her own devices. This is something which must now never happen.
I have just three thoughts for the future. The first concerns the question of discrimination. I believe that substantially the measures now taken, or proposed, to combat discrimination are a major step forward. They cover the whole field of public employment, public housing and, to some extent, private employment where it is a question of Government contracts. I hope that that will be enough; but, of course, there is no reason to suppose that private citizens have been behaving any better than members of public authorities. I would ask my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack to consider very seriously why it is that the machinery of our antidiscrimination legislation is not thought appropriate to be applied, in addition to the measures already put forward, to Northern Ireland, so that the citizens of whatever creed—or, for that matter, colour—could know that in all spheres of life in their freedom from discrimination is protected.
1516 My second thought follows closely along the lines spoken to by my noble friend Lord Stonham, concerning the educational divide. Certainly freedom for children to receive the religious instruction appropriate to the parents' faith is an essential feature of a healthy society. But it sticks in my throat that where there is a sectarian division, where, in the words of the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, there is hate, where there is a need to bring a community together and to put an end to bigotry of a religious nature, in that community the children of Catholic parents and of Protestant parents are educated in totally different establishments. I believe that to be a recipe for the handing down of mistrust, and in some cases bigotry, from generation to generation.
My Lords, this is a big question. Clearly, there is no easy solution that can be advocated. But can the dialogue begin? With great respect to my noble friend Lord Longford, I do not think it begins by saying, "The Catholics will not abandon their schools". It should begin in an atmosphere of concern, to see, if possible, whether educational integration cannot become more and more a reality.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, may I put a point to the noble Lord? Supposing you believe that it is a spiritual necessity for your children to be given an education of the religious flavour of your faith, would the fact that you were being persecuted by somebody else make you abandon that principle?
§ Lord GIFFORD
My Lords, I certainly do not agree that the Roman Catholics in Ulster should abandon anything in answer to persecution. I believe that this particular question is one on which both sides need to think carefully. I am not challenging the need for freedom for people to send their children to the school of their choice: I am asking leaders in Northern Ireland to think of the consequences of that freedom in the situation in Northern Ireland to-day, and to see whether steps cannot be taken to lessen those consequences.
My third point is on the economy. I think that everyone who has spoken in this debate has referred to the need to end the spectre of unemployment in 1517 Northern Ireland. We have had a great deal of exhortation, and we have had promises and pledges of action by the Government. At the moment I find the promise of 2, 500 jobs very heartening. But I fear that the more general pledges of massive effort and incentive may not be enough. I should like to ask my learned and noble friend to consider this suggestion: why cannot State industries be set up inside Northern Ireland? I can think of no place where the forces of the market and the exigencies of capitalism have led more directly to unemployment than in Northern Ireland, and I can think of no better example of a Socialist measure which could be of such direct benefit to the people of that territory.
With a thriving economy, with freedom from discrimination guaranteed, and with steps being taken, or dialogue beginning, about educational apartheid, the time may come when the destinies of the people of Northern Ireland may be safely left to their own elected leaders, for at that time their leaders (and here I again agree with the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery) might be elected on the basis of their policies and not on the basis of their religion. Until then, I leave this appeal with my noble friends in the Government and successive Governments: that never again should this territory of Northern Ireland be regarded from over here as a forgotten territory across the water.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Lord SOPER
My Lords, I shall not detain the House for more than a few minutes. Had I known that I could be here I would have put my name down to speak, but I feared that I should not be able to attend. I am very glad that I have been able to come. I would add my tributes and encomiums to those already so freely offered, and your Lordships will not account me churlish if I do not specify. I am fortified a little in this intrusion at this late hour because I find myself the only ordained person, of either Catholic or Protestant persuasion, who has taken part in the debate.
It seems to me that there is paramount need that those who regard the situation in Northern Ireland as one needing clarification should not ignore one of the aspects, however important or central or peripheral one may think it to be, which 1518 has agitated and deformed the character of Northern Ireland for so long. Let me first stand up and be counted. I am a Protestant. I have no doubt whatever that the Catholics in Northern Ireland have been grossly afflicted with injustice for a very long time. I am therefore the more glad to see that the opportunity is at last being seized to put some of the evil right.
But when I find myself confronted with the argument that this is not really a religious matter, that this is a superstructure which we erect upon an economic foundation, while I am attracted to that theory I am not convinced by it. I am sure that what has to be done at this moment is to implement at all costs the proposals which were adumbrated and set forth with such clarity in the opening statement from my noble friend the Leader of the House. This is the imperative first stage, and I entirely concur with those who feel that there is a long way still to go but that that fact should not deter us from making a good beginning.
At the same time, there is the peculiar relationship in Northern Ireland between religion and economics and politics, a relationship which, if we are to calculate accurately and wisely, we must not ignore. It is true that Catholics and Protestants can live in comparative equanimity in other parts of the world, but where Catholicism and Protestantism of a particular kind are associated with issues which themselves are divisive, then the character and nature of the religious attitude bedevils the political aspects and creates situations which become almost impossible to solve.
There is within certain areas of Catholicism, as I think my friends in the Roman Catholic Church would admit, an attitude of authoritarianism, of totalitarianism, in which, infallibility having been presumed, argument is prevented. This is not an attack upon my friends in the Roman Catholic Church. It is simply an assumption which derives inevitably from the belief that, resident in the Vatican, when His Holiness speaks ex-cathedrâ on faith and morals on behalf of the whole Church he is Divinely protected from making any mistake. This filters down to the character and relationship between Catholic and Catholic, and between Catholic and 1519 those who are not Catholic. I entertain the liveliest hope from the present debate on collegiality which is going on in the Roman Catholic Church, and I would offer without presumption a little comfort to those who feel perhaps a little peculiar about this. But there is no doubt that until that kind of totalitarianism is removed it will be impossible to conduct a sensible argument with those who disagree with it.
But there is an even worse case. Had I to choose between joining the Roman Catholic Church and becoming a Paisleyite, I should eagerly ask to be admitted to the Roman Catholic Church, for if totalitarianism of Papal infallibility is an obstacle, there is nothing more senseless and, in the end, more wicked than the ascription of a Biblical infallibility, for it happens that you make up your mind what you believe and look up the appropriate text to prove it. Those who protest their infallible doctrines of the Bible always take the precaution of not reading the document, for the reading of the document itself would dispose quite simply of the fallacy that lies behind that assumption.
I shall not refer to Mr. Paisley except to remind myself that he is an egregious minister of the Gospel; I had my say about him some months ago, and I feel that I need add nothing and take away nothing from what I then said about him. I wish he had never emerged from the obscurity to which he is entitled. At the same time, I have no doubt at all that the kind of totalitarianism represented by those who are invited to follow him is one of the prime causes of the bitterness and hatred. Of course, he sings the wrong hymns—or at any rate he sings them at the wrong time. I could suggest much better hymns for him, beginning with, "Turn back, O man, forsake thy foolish ways". Perhaps he does not know that one. What I am concerned to say is that here we have a situation in which the extremes of religious and sectarian totalitarianism imperil any solution in the practical and political world, because both involve, at either ends of the scale, an attitude of complete assurance wherein those who disagree are not only in error but also in mortal sin.
1520 It is for that reason that I want to make a plea; and I make it in the name of the Churches with which I am associated. And remember, as I say this, that to-morrow there will be presented before the Free Church Council a resolution, very much in the terms of what I have just been saying, asking for the most immediate and thorough-going presentation to all Christians of the need for the reforms which are now before the Stormont Government. What I am concerned to plead for is that before we entertain the livelier hopes of a final solution we remember that theology has an imperative place in this, and that a bit more charity and dealing with the iron rations of faith, rather than the asumption that we know all the answers, is one of the absolute requirements of any religion which is going to persist in Northern Ireland, or anywhere else, and be worth living for.
I am sure that there are other matters upon which insufficient attention has been deployed to-night. I should like to know how much alcohol has to do with a great many of these nocturnal escapades. If Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon is anything to go by, a great many Irishmen have a liquid lunch in order to lubricate themselves for argument in Hyde Park in the afternoon. I have no doubt that, as the day goes on, among many in Northern Ireland alcohol does play a part. But I am not going to beat that Methodist drum this afternoon. Whatever may be the final answer to the question, "Is religion the dominant issue in Northern Ireland, and is sectarianism the foe?" it nevertheless is true, whatever proportion may be attached to politics or economics, that within the field of religious bigotry lies a permanent menace to any solution of these problems. It seems to recur, to quote Mr. Quintin Hogg, in this debate. I remember his peroration in which he advocated very properly, faith, hope and charity. They are empty words, my Lords, unless faith is attached to a programme which can be seen to express its meaning; unless hope is entertained that that programme will be successful, and unless charity is the expression of the way in which we attempt to carry it forward. If faith, hope and charity are attached to the present reforms, we shall have a respite from these evils and have at least the antepast of a final solution.
§ 8 p.m.
The Earl of ENNISKILLEN
My Lords, it is getting late, and it is becoming difficult to say anything constructive that has not already been better said by better speakers. But the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, introduced into this debate a constructive aspect which I should like to pursue. We have had in front of us and have read the Reports of the Hunt Committee and the Cameron Committee. Although they—and particularly, of course, the Cameron Report—make shameful reading, they hold out to Ulster a new approach on a sound foundation. I hope that we shall consider them constructively.
I think there is a new approach both within and without the country, thanks to Her Majesty's Government and to our closer union with Her Majesty's Government. I, as a Unionist, support this, naturally. I think it can do nothing but good, and I cannot understand some of my countrymen who say that we must not get closer to Westminster, that we must get further away, but yet call themselves Unionists. This is something I have never been able to understand, excepting, of course, if Westminster should endeavour to force their views upon the Northern Ireland Government at Stormont; this they have not done in this respect. They were placed in the position of being asked for their help. I submit that they have most generously given their help, and I think that we should be most thankful for that help. But we are part and parcel of an entity; we are helping each other; we are not taking your help, so to speak, as beggars, but as partners, and we are going forward in the shape of a partnership.
Our constabulary has been criticised for its behaviour, for the fact that it is armed. Well, there are good reasons for that, and we have been through all the reasons. But now it is to have closer links. Now it is to do what it has always itself wanted to do, to give up its arms and revert to police work proper. In the Hunt Report there is provided every facility, and a real and comprehensive review of how that can be done. I commend the Hunt Report enormously for the amount of detail those concerned managed to get into it in the short time that they had to prepare it. There are many small things that one could criti- 1522 cise, small things that one might improve upon. This is not the moment to do it. I think in its entirety the Hunt Report stands for what it shows itself to be, a really true effort to restore confidence in our police forces, confidence in law and order and in the ability of the local people, the Ulster men—it does not matter whether they be Roman Catholic or Protestant—to play their role in looking after their own country.
The B Specials have had coals of fire heaped upon their heads. Let me just give them one solid word of praise. They were formed forty years ago and they have given voluntary service to the rest of their community. They have got up late at night and have come back late in the morning, and they have gone out to their ordinary duties on the same day. They can be criticised; anybody can be criticised. But nothing can ever detract from the service that those men have performed. If they are to be disbanded—I hope to be re-absorbed in different fashion and in different form—I should like to say that if you are looking for names for the "Specials" or whatever you may call them, do let us call them what they are, the voluntary reserve of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. That would be their identity and so they should be described. Let us have the military role, which, most unfortunately, we on our boundaries of the United Kingdom must still perform, carried out and maintained by the military, whose job and proper business efficiency it is to do.
Let us get back to "the man on the beat", the policeman, the "bobby". What has happened now with the modern reorganisation of the police? If you see a policeman to-day he is usually travelling at 60 m.p.h. in a smart car with a flashing light, and if you do not get splashed in the face by the mud from the road, caused by the car passing, you are extremely lucky. These policemen are tied down in their offices writing reports, doing this and that, and they are never having a drink with the people with whom they are living or should be living. The small stations were closed down, the police stations were concentrated, and in my opinion the police lost touch with the people. That is something that we must get back, and something that the people would welcome.
1523 We have to build an homogeneous people again. This disturbance, these fundamental differences, are all part of the cooking, you may say, and are an inevitable concomitant to trying to bring two opposing factions together when both sides are nervous of giving way in any one direction. I think it is ridiculous that we should continue to look for bogeys. My noble friend Lord Gowrie said this, and quite rightly. There are far too many bogeys about, both in the future and in the past, and having listened to the debate to-day in your Lordships' House and also to that in another place, I think that one of the dangers is that at the present moment, out of all the constructive effort that is now being put into restoring confidence—and this is what we are at—we may jump too far too fast. There have been proposals in regard to doing things before we have established law and order, before we have established the proposals that have been put forward and before we can see that they are going to work.
I concede the fact that nobody would wish to revert to the malaise of laissez-faire which might have gone before, but nevertheless there is such a thing as overeating. I feel that we must give our maximum support to what is on the plate at the moment. Let us eat this dish. Let us give our attention to eating this dish, and then let us think, in the calmer attitudes that I hope will prevail, of better and better and better improvements as time goes on. What of these Reports? What of all the actions that we are at? What are they designed for? Surely, they are designed to make life better, more prosperous, more peaceful for every single citizen in the United Kingdom. We are talking particularly about Northern Ireland at the present moment, but the same rules, the same significance, the same emphasis and the same effort must be put in throughout the United Kingdom, not just in one part at one time and in another part at another time.
The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, referred to the amount of money which, by grant and kindness, is supplied to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland pays its taxes. Charity begins at home, and I would not begrudge one single penny piece of that money. 1524 If I could, I would double it if it would make the people happier by providing them with the constructive materials upon which they could work instead of their feeling that someone else is going to get a job if they lose it, that someone else is going to be this, that or the other, or have a better standard of living, or have a better house. These are the things we must do to put matters right. We cannot continue in this day and age—as we do at the present time in many parts of the United Kingdom, not only in Northern Ireland—to permit conditions which put us to shame. The money should be spent there; it should be spent at home; and only after we have put our own house in order can we really wholeheartedly subscribe to the affairs of other countries.
I believe that there is a great chance for Ulster. I sincerely hope that my fellow-countrymen will ponder every time a bomb is thrown, every time a bullet is fired, which way they want to go. In my submission, we have got to go forward. We are going forward, and I am quite sure that we are on firm ground, and I should not let anybody undercut that ground. I think that the present Government in Northern Ireland are fully capable, fully staffed, and have the right spirit to do this. Now the spirit has to be put at the other end of the scale, at the bottom, so that the two can marry up into a successful issue.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Lord HUNT
My Lords, I must apologise for intervening so late in your Lordships' debate, and particularly for doing so without having heard the majority of the speeches preceding mine. I do not propose to speak to my Report, but it would be less than gracious if I did not get up to acknowledge gratefully the generous remarks made by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, who retailed to me the tributes for the Report that had been paid to my colleagues and myself in speeches earlier in the debate.
All I should like to do is to speak very briefly, perhaps for two minutes, not about the Report, but about the aftermath of the Report. It is one thing to write a Report with great speed and under a due sense of urgency about the fundamental changes which we felt to be necessary in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and to establish a basic 1525 principle about where the responsibility for the protection of Northern Ireland should lie, and to do so in complete unanimity; it is quite another thing to carry through these fundamental changes in the present climate in Northern Ireland and with the urgency which we enjoined on the Stormont Government. I hope I am not at variance with the noble Earl, Lord Enniskillen, in stressing the urgency which we felt to be necessary and which we placed as a stamp on our Report. We felt to be particularly urgent the implementation of the principle as to the defence of Ulster.
In the aftermath, having written our Report, my thoughts on leaving Belfast were, and they remain, with those in the Stormont Government, Major Chichester-Clark, Mr. Porter, the Minister for Home Affairs, and their colleagues who have to see these things through. I have met these men and I have seen the strain and the tensions under which they have laboured all these months, and the pressures to which they have been subjected, both in their country and from over the water here. They need and deserve the support of their own countrymen. I am perfectly certain that from the Royal Ulster Constabulary they are going to get support for the reforms which they, the Government, have confirmed will be made, and which, in large measure, the Royal Ulster Constabulary want, and have wanted for some time.
I hope that they will get the support of the men, officers and N.C.O.s, of the Ulster Special Constabulary; those men who are so staunchly loyal to Ulster and who profess their great and deep loyalty to the United Kingdom. But I also believe that they will welcome the support and encouragement that I believe they can read from the debate in your Lordships' House this evening. I hope they will receive that message, Lord and clear and unanimously, from all your Lordships to-night.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ The Lord CHANCELLOR (Lord Gardiner)
My Lords, this has been an unusual afternoon and evening, in a way. I suppose in the last five years I have heard all the debates which have taken place in your Lordships' House on any substantial subject, but I never remember one in which there has been virtual unanimity that the Government have 1526 taken the right course. Certainly, it is very unusual so far as this Government is concerned. However, it has the merit that after nearly six hours I have not really a great deal to say. This is a subject on which there has been the deepest division in the past, both in this country and in this Parliament, and it is interesting that we should now have arrived at a point where there is unity. Unfortunately, that is not so in Northern Ireland.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, started by saying that there was complete unanimity of view among the Party Leaders, and, as he rightly said, nothing that is said can improve the situation but ill-judged words might make it worse, which is another reason, why I should be short. The noble Lord raised the question of Army accommodation, and so did my noble friend Lord Brockway. What do you expect where you have accommodation built for three accompanied major units and then you have to put in ten or eleven? This is a country of admittedly poor housing, of houses burnt and either destroyed or damaged. You obviously cannot turn out Irish families in order to put British troops in.
One really has to divide this matter into two. First, there is operational accommodation for the troops. They are on continuous guard duties, strung out over a very large area, and they first of all need some protection while they are on guard duty. Their conditions can be improved by providing sentry boxes, small four-man shelters, and caravans in isolated areas. Action on all these points is well under way, and I think there is no doubt that the bulk of the problems will be solved this month.
However, when the men come off duty they need somewhere to eat and sleep comfortably before going back on duty. It is right that I should say that we have had a great deal of help from the Northern Ireland Government in obtaining premises suitable for these company bases, and a great deal has been done towards solving the problems. More needs to be done, and of course the problem is not eased, particularly in Belfast, by the fluidity of the security situation. The company bases need to be near the source of likely trouble and, as we saw so recently, the source of trouble can so quickly switch from one 1527 part of Belfast to another. However, a very high priority is being given to providing the best possible accommodation for this purpose. At the moment, we are using police barracks, schools, swimming baths and Territorial drill halls, as well as garages and other less comfortable premises. I know that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence spoke to the Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs about this problem when he was in Northern Ireland, and I feel sure that, with help from the Northern Ireland Government, we should be able to beat the problem before the onset of winter.
Next we need good battalion base camps to which our troops can return to rest when they are withdrawn into reserve away from the trouble areas. At the moment, we are finding battalion base camps from some permanent barracks where we are doubling up when we can; in two week-end training centres which have hutted accommodation; an empty factory in Antrim which the Northern Ireland Ministry of Commerce has made available; and the hall at the Agricultural Show Ground in Belfast. We are providing the kind of huts which will make this accommodation fit for the winter. We are also asking the Northern Ireland Government to release to us the former Fusilier depot in Armagh, as well as to let us have security of tenure at Antrim and Balmoral. Therefore, disregarding for the moment the question of long-term accommodation, including married accommodation, my right honourable friend is satisfied that everything that can be done is being done, and that the situation should be in hand by the winter.
The noble Lord, Lord Byers, said that he unreservedly supported the Government in what they had done and similar observations apply. He went back somewhat into the history of the Liberal Party and proportional representation. If it be a matter of interest, I am told that when proportional representation was given up in 1929 the results of the Elections of 1921 and 1925, under proportional representation, and 1929 and 1933, with single member constituencies, were almost exactly the same. But I do not want to depress him about proportional representation.
§ The Lord CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it might be. There is no Member of your Lordships' House who has a greater personal admiration for my noble friend Lord Stonham than I have, or who will miss him more as a colleague. It may be that he will now have more time to devote to the House without his ministerial duties and, from my point of view over here, there is not much difference between row one and row two. My noble friend said that he was going to give us a Back-Bench review. If that is the quality of the Back-Bench reviews which we may expect from him in the future, we shall rejoice in that. He dealt with the question of education, and, of course, with his general experience of the whole subject. The noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, started with Elizabeth I, but said that he could find no fault with the action which the British Government have taken. So I think I have nothing to refer to there.
My noble friend Lord Longford really raised two points. First of all, he wanted the Government to approach the Irish Government to do some bridge building, and he said that the Home Secretary and Mr. Hogg had said that. Mr. Hogg did say so, but in the context of also saying.… of course it is true that talk of the border increases Protestant fears".—[Official Report, Commons, 13/10/69, col. 72.]And while it is quite true that my right honourable friend mentioned co-operation between North and South, it was in this context. He said:The Protestants have fears, too—genuine fears, deeply felt fears. They desire, I understand, better relations with their neighbours to the South. They would not tolerate being submerged by the South. They want a growth in co-operation between the North and South. They do not want to be swallowed up by the South. The majority in Northern Ireland would feel safer if the Catholics in Northern Ireland would make a gesture towards them.I do not wish to go into sore subjects, but my noble friend will remember the public statement which was made by the Prime Minister of Eire as to the root cause of the trouble being partition, and this, really, even among moderate Protestants, undid at a blow all that had been achieved in the meetings between the Prime Ministers of North and South. Then, of course, when their Foreign Minister went to the United Nations to 1529 try to create trouble for us there, that did not really improve the position. But having said that, may I say in one breath that we must try to understand everybody's point of view, North and South. This feeling about the unity of Ireland occupies such a place in the South that it is very doubtful whether any Prime Minister of Eire could have taken any other line. I think we must appreciate and understand that. While it has done some damage for the moment, I hope that it will be purely temporary. When the question was raised with the Home Secretary at his Press Conference last Friday, I am told he said that the time is not yet ripe for any specific action; that co-operation is important for the future of Ireland, North and South; and that in due course the time will be ripe for efforts to restore co-operation. I think we must leave it there.
The other main point about which my noble friend Lord Longford said something was education. This is a very difficult subject, one that was also adverted to by my noble friend Lord Stonham. Of course, as my noble friend Lord Longford will remember, the Cameron Report, in dealing with the causes of all the trouble said:There is division also in the segregation of race, real or imagined as it may be. Segregated education—insisted upon by the Roman Catholic Church—also plays its part in initiating and maintaining division and differences among the young.I know that this is a very difficult and delicate subject, and I do not want to pursue it. But my noble friend Lord Longford himself said of the Protestants, "Once they were used to living with people on terms of equality, they would find that it was not so bad". Whether that would apply to Catholic children living on terms of equality with Protestants, I am not sure. I realise that this is indeed a difficult subject.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, may I suggest to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor that he is guilty of a confusion such as I have never heard from him in many years of admiring his speaking in this House. I do not see that Catholics in this country who go to separate schools are living on some basis of superiority. To be quite honest, the Lord Chancellor seems to be ignoring the fact that this policy of 1530 separate Catholic schools and denominational schools here is official Government and Labour Party policy.
§ The Lord CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I was only pointing out that the Cameron Report say that is one of the divisive factors. My noble friend was being a little sarcastic about the Protestants, and about how they would not find it too bad if they all lived together. It is quite possible that Protestants might feel that about the Catholics in relation to schools.
The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said—and I wholeheartedly agree—how important it is that the Government of Northern Ireland should not appear to be the stooge of this country. He, like everyone, commended the Report by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. He referred to Mr. Paisley. Of course, I know that as a Christian it is our duty to love everyone. I can only say that, having seen Mr. Paisley several times on television, I find it extraordinarily difficult to love him. The noble Lord referred to Grosvenor Square. It is clear that both here and in Northern Ireland those who make trouble are comparatively few. They are the extremists. So when we refer to Grosvenor Square we must also remember the 30, 000 in Hyde Park. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, thought that the Government of Ireland Act ought to be revised, but I should have thought that at the moment that would create considerable difficulties. However, that is no doubt a point on which anybody is entitled to hold a view.
The noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, thought that it was more a question of hooligans than anything else and suggested that the public houses should be shut on Saturday afternoons, which naturally met with the approbation of my noble friend Lord Soper, and I will see that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary considers that point. Also, he was the first noble Lord to commend the trade unions. I am glad that he did that, because I think that any body which contains both Protestants and Catholics on terms of equality is obviously doing good. As I understand it, the trade unions have done a lot of good; and even a body like that to which my noble friend Lord Gifford referred—the Society of Labour Lawyers—which is a body of lawyers, of both 1531 Catholic and Protestant persuasion, who get on perfectly well together. Then the noble Lord, Lord Strange, said, no doubt rightly, that most of the country is peaceful with very nice people living in it, and that people should stop making inflammatory remarks.
My noble friend Lord Gifford thought, first, that the Government of Northern Ireland ought to be doing more about this question of discrimination. But if he will read the communiqué which was issued after the last meeting between my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and the Government of Northern Ireland, I think he will see what an extraordinary amount in that field is in train.
Then the noble Lord said that the whole difficulty might have been stopped by earlier concessions. This is something one never really knows, just as one does not know whether, if we had intervened earlier, it would have been better or worse. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, who suggested that if we had intervened out of a blue sky we might merely have invited the enmity of all Northern Ireland. As to the setting up of State industries, it is of course a matter for the Government of Northern Ireland whether they think that their industries will be better advantaged by spending what money they have on the creation of State industry, which might or might not pay, or by some other expenditure of the money.
With Lord Soper I always agree; and with Lord Hunt I should not dare to disagree. But if I may summarise the matter, if ever there was a place in which one cannot please all the people all the time, Northern Ireland is that place. Every action there produces its reaction; and it is often a violent and emotional reaction. No Government, here or in Belfast, are going to solve the problems in Northern Ireland by themselves. The future of the Province is in the hands of its citizens, and they alone can control its destiny. From where we sit we can see that a permanent political minority must have safeguards which are not needed in the political environment that exists in Great Britain. We can see that rights for the minorities place duties on the minorities. These things do not appear to be realised in Northern Ireland.
1532 As for the majority, they, too, have fears which are genuine, if often irrational and largely unfounded. Those fears came to the surface in the riots last week, and part of our task must be to set these fears at rest. One of these fears, undoubtedly, is that Northern Ireland will lose its constitutional position as part of the United Kingdom. This fear is totally unfounded. As has been pointed out, Section 1 (2) of the Ireland Act 1949 declares:… in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be a part of … the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.This guarantee was repeated in the communiqué which was issued on August 19. The United Kingdom Government have repeatedly affirmed that the Border is not in issue.
We must be clear that the various decisions taken recently by the Northern Ireland Government, with the full support of the United Kingdom Government, constitute a comprehensive programme of action designed to ensure a common standard of citizenship and to continue, in the words of the communiqué issued last week:to give to all citizens of Northern Ireland the opportunity to live in harmony and prosperity".It is this opportunity that now lies open before the people of Northern Ireland. The Government at Stormont will press on with their programme, and there is no doubt that the lead which they are now giving will have the support of the very great majority of the citizens of the Province. It is important to remember that the great majority of Ulstermen, whatever their political allegiance or their religious persuasions, wholeheartedly desire peace for the Province and welfare for its people. It is only a small number of irresponsible and intolerant extremists who seem unable to share the hopes of the majority that all may be able to live peaceably together in an orderly society.
May I just say, in an intervention directed to the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, that, while I agree that there may be hate, the cause of the hate is really fear. The noble Earl wanted to reduce our euphoria—and he may be right in thinking that we are taking too optimistic a view. But I think it has also to be remembered that the average age in Northern Ireland is—what?—about 1533 30; and there will be a great many young people (please do not think I am saying that this is a good thing) who will not be Protestants and will not be Catholics. I talked to some of the younger lawyers. I have No idea whether they were representative, but there was a general atitude of "We couldn't care less about the Protestants or the Catholics because we are agnostics". This is one factor which may have to be borne in mind.
There are some who, either with deliberate malice or through wilful blindness, are prepared to threaten the fabric of that society and to call in question the continued existence of Northern Ireland as we know it. Lawlessness and violence can no longer be tolerated. The streets must be made safe for all. Men, women and children must be able to live securely in their homes; and the forces of law and order must be accepted everywhere. My Lords, I am glad to know that the Government's conduct throughout has not 1534 been challenged or criticised. I have not repeated the tributes which have so often been made to so many. If I had, it would be in the first place, I think, to the Government at Stormont, who are showing considerable courage in the measures which they are carrying out; to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, so many of whom have been injured, free at last to act as police instead of as a military force; and to the others who have also been mentioned.
My Lords, I am sure it is the wish of everyone here that law and order should be restored as soon as possible; and those few who seek to exploit ancient fears and to lead their fellow citizens in violence must and will be dealt with firmly and resolutely, in order that the Government and people of Northern Ireland may be able to enjoy the new opportunities which are now opening up for them.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.