asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will relax the restrictions on travel between Great Britain and Ireland so as to enable persons to travel to their homes in either country not more than twice in any period of 12 months instead of not more than once in any period of six months as at present?
Yes, Sir. In order to avoid hardship in the case of persons engaged on war work who cannot plan their holidays as they choose, I have decided that as from to-day, persons who qualify for exit permits to visit their homes in Great Britain or Ireland may be allowed to make the journey twice in any period of 12 months instead of once in any period of 6 months. Workers who are conditionally landed on their arrival in Great Britain will be required to remain in this country for an initial period of three months before they make a visit to Ireland. The 12-month period will run from to-day to 30th September, 1943, in all cases. Visits home will include visits to husbands, wives, parents and children, who are established in homes in cither country but will not include visits to more remote relatives.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir William Allen:
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, with reference to the reply he has just given, to use his influence or issue some kind of intimation to those who are responsible for granting these permits to see that applicants are told with as little delay as possible? Frequently a full fortnight passes before the permits are granted.
asked the Home Secretary whether he will deal with the serious grievances of Northern Ireland people in Britain by having the regulations regarding the granting of travel permits reconsidered with a view to the relaxation of their stringency; and whether he will instruct passport officials to grant permits in all cases where persons have to visit Northern Ireland for the transaction of business?
As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I have just given to Question No. 25. As regards the second part of the Question, the position is that permits are granted to enable persons to travel between Great Britain and Ireland on business of national importance, but I regret that I would not feel justified in modifying the restrictions on travel between the two countries so as to enable persons to travel to either country for the transaction of purely private business.
Does my right hon. Friend consider it reasonable to have no restriction on travel to a neutral country and to impose these very severe restrictions upon travel to a part of the United Kingdom?
The travelling accommodation is limited. The check on people going in is a great strain on us. The position must be that if people go to Northern Ireland they must show good cause in the national interest why they should go, or family necessity, and so on. Again, I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that he is constantly pressing me to tighten up movements and at the same time also pressing me to relax them.