Travel Permits, Great Britain and Ireland

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence – in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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

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?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

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

May I express my deep gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman?

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.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I will do my best in the matter. It would also be helpful if applicants would give us as much notice as possible of their wish to travel.

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

Will that concession apply also to teachers in schools in this country?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Yes, Sir. I presume that they will be treated the same as any other citizens.

Photo of Reverend Dr James Little Reverend Dr James Little , Down

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?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

Photo of Mr Ronald Ross Mr Ronald Ross , County Londonderry

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?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

One of the difficulties is that after travelling to the part of the United Kingdom it may not be very difficult to travel to a neutral country.

Photo of Reverend Dr James Little Reverend Dr James Little , Down

Does my right hon. Friend not think that it is a great grievance for people who have business to transact in Northern Ireland to be detained here when they should be there attending to their affairs?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

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.

Photo of Mr Ronald Ross Mr Ronald Ross , County Londonderry

Is it not for my right hon. Friend to control people going to neutral countries?