Political Parties

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1972.

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Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire 12:00 am, 14th December 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a further statement on the meetings he has had with representatives of political parties in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

Following the publication of the paper for discussion, I have been having further talks with representatives of political parties in Northern Ireland, of the churches, and of both sides of industry. These talks have been valuable and have enabled me to discuss the considered reactions of various sections of opinion in Northern Ireland to the points made in the paper for discussion.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Has he indicated to the political parties the date that he expects to set for the border poll, and told them of some of the contents of his White Paper?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

No, I did not indicate that to the political parties—for the very good reason that I shall be answering Questions on this subject at the conclusion of Question Time. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that the right place to give answers is in the House. As for the White Paper, I have made no commitment and will not do so.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Is the Secretary of State aware that we are very pleased that discussions have begun with the SDLP? We understand that the right hon. Gentleman had a meeting with that party. Has he anything to say about those discussions, and will they continue with the SDLP, the NILP, the Unionist Party, and so on?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I made it clear that I would not say anything about the discussions. I was interested to hear their views. They are entitled to express to the Press, as they have done, what they said to me. I have kept my side of the discussions confidential, as is right and proper, before I report to my colleagues.