Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland House of Commons (Prolongation of Life).

– in the House of Commons on 23rd July 1942.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hon. Hugh O'Neill Hon. Hugh O'Neill , Antrim

asked the Home Secretary whether it is proposed to prolong the life of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland which will expire on 1st March, 1943?

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

asked the Home Secretary whether he has come to any decision on the question of the prolongation of the duration of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland; and whether he is aware that, owing to the absence of many Ulstermen on active service and the staleness of the register, a general election held under present conditions would of necessity fail to express the mind of the electorate?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

To continue the duration of the United Kingdom Parliament for another year beyond November next legislation will be required, and the Government propose to include in this Measure a provision enabling the duration of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland to be prolonged for a year from next March provided such prolongation is approved by a resolution of the Northern Ireland House of Commons.

Photo of Hon. Hugh O'Neill Hon. Hugh O'Neill , Antrim

Can my right hon. Friend say when this Bill is likely to be produced?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

If my memory serves me rightly, it will probably be after the House resumes after the Summer Recess.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Before this Bill is definitely decided upon will the Government demand of the Government of Northern Ireland that they make a complete reconstruction of their wholly unrepresentative Government in Northern Ireland at the present time?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

Can the Home Secretary say whether, in view of the fact that in Northern Ireland there are a Government and an Opposition, and that the coalition principle, as in our own case, has not been accepted, there is in fact a substantial case for prolongation, and ought they not to be permitted to have an election?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I very much doubt whether the Parliamentary situation in Northern Ireland can be described as "a Government and an Opposition," but in any case Northern Ireland is not a Crown Colony, and I do not think that it is the duty of the Home Secretary meticulously to interfere with that Government.

Photo of Professor Douglas Savory Professor Douglas Savory , Queen's University of Belfast

Are these questions not out of Order because they are all in the exclusive domain of the Government and Parliament of Northern Ireland, and especially does not the question raised in this House as to the composition of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, which comes exclusively under the Act of 1920, fall within the power of the Parliament of Northern Ireland itself?

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

What is the hon. Member doing here then?

Photo of Hon. Hugh O'Neill Hon. Hugh O'Neill , Antrim

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is no register in Northern Ireland other than the register of voters for the United Kingdom Parliament and that the same consideration would apply there as here, which would make an election on the old register almost a farce?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is true. The conditions are very analogous in almost all respects. Perhaps the only exception in which they are not quite analogous is that an election in Northern Ireland might be somewhat more exciting than it would be in Great Britain.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

While recognising the very strong case against an election in these circumstances, would it not be a reasonable thing to suggest that some endeavour should be made to formulate a National Government on the lines of this Parliament in order to prolong its life?

Photo of Mr David Kirkwood Mr David Kirkwood , Dumbarton District of Burghs

Is it essential that Members of the Northern Ireland Parliament should require to come to this House of Commons to ask whether they may have a general election or not?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

It is the case that the law provides that the Northern Ireland Parliament lasts for five years and no longer and that it cannot be prolonged without action by the Imperial Parliament at Westminster.