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Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland (Foyle Fisheries) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1951.

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Photo of Captain William Wellwood Captain William Wellwood , County Londonderry 12:00 am, 3rd December 1951

This enabling Bill is just another example of that extraordinary understanding which exists between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—a matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McKibbin), referred a few days ago.

Unfortunately, I must confess that, in reaching this understanding, there has been a considerable delay. To my knowledge, negotiations have been going on certainly for the last 30 years, and they have been passed from Attorney-General to Attorney-General in Northern Ireland throughout the existence of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. During those years, the negotiations have always been very friendly, and it is a matter of very great pleasure to me that, at last, materialisation has been reached. I hope that, when this Bill goes on the Statute Book, it will be a complete success and that it will be another feather in the cap of our Home Secretary.

I feel quite sure that it will be a great success. Almost all the Foyle fisheries are within my constituency in Northern Ireland, and I have for long enough appreciated the good work done by the Honourable the Irish Society for many years. I think that this is a matter for satisfaction in that it will no longer be a drag on their operations, but will enable them to devote their efforts to their other charity in Northern Ireland, which is in my constituency, particularly in Londonderry and Londonderry County.

The Honourable the Irish Society devote their attention to many events and developments in Northern Ireland. They have endowed schools there, and they do very much appreciate the money which themselves will save by means of this enabling Bill, quite apart from the fact that they are to receive a capital sum of £100,000. I am afraid, however, that this sum will have been considerably reduced by the time all the law charges over the period of 30 years have been met. I think those charges will be considerable, if they have not already been met as they went along, and I do not know whether that is so or not.

My right hon. and learned Friend has explained all the technicalities of this Bill, and I am not qualified to make any remarks about a legal matter such as this. I will merely say that, while I regret that the Honourable the Irish Society is losing some of its property in Northern Ireland, I welcome the Bill and give it my wholehearted support.