Yes, Sir. During the past two years there has been a considerable influx into Northern Ireland of persons normally resident elsewhere and this influx is continuing to a considerable extent. It has been decided to take power by a Defence Regulation to institute a system of control over persons who come to Northern Ireland, whether from Eire, Great Britain or elsewhere, and to require such persons to furnish particulars as to their addresses and occupations. Subject to exceptions for children and persons in the service of the Crown, all British subjects who were not ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland on 1st January, 1940, will be required, if they desire to take up residence there or to continue to reside there for longer than six weeks, to obtain permits which will be issued on my behalf by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Northern Ireland. Unless there are security objections in individual cases permits will be granted for so long as their services are needed to applicants who are already in occupations, and to those who in future come into Northern Ireland to take up work. They will also be granted to those who ought to be allowed to remain there on compassionate or other special grounds. Each permit will bear a photograph of the holder. Permits will in all cases be issued for a period of six months or for the duration of the employment specified in the permit, whichever is the less, but they will be renewable on the same conditions as govern their issue. Permit holders will be required to notify the authorities of any change of address.
The immediate object of the scheme is to deal with war conditions, but it is also contemplated that the scheme will be of value on the termination of hostilities for the purpose of facilitating the reinstatement in employment of demobilised men from Northern Ireland who joined His Majesty's Forces as volunteers. At such a time it will be right to give to the demobilised volunteers preference in the labour market of Northern Ireland over these newcomers and for this purpose to have power to terminate the permits granted to persons who are in employment. It is accordingly contemplated that the scheme will be kept in existence for a reasonable time after the end of the war, and if the Defence Regulation should expire before the demobilised men have had reasonable opportunity of being absorbed into employment, it will in the view of the Government be right that the necessary legislation should be introduced in the United Kingdom Parliament for a temporary prolongation of the system.
Yes, Sir; there is no obligation on the Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs, acting for me, to grant a permit; furthermore, a permit can be withdrawn at any time. I can assure my right hon. Friend, however, that the Minister of Home Affairs in Northern Ireland will be reasonable in the exercise of this power. But the answer to my hon. Friend's Question is in the affirmative.