Northern Ireland Constitution Bill

Clause 36 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th July 1973.

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Question again proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Rees:

From what group will lieutenants of the three new types be chosen? What type of person are we talking about? There was a time, certainly in the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, when lord lieutenants where chosen from ex-members of Her Majesty's forces, and in particular from the Army. There was then a connection with the Territorial Army. Are we saying that this will be a similar type of person? I am not asking for names, but will these people have to wear uniforms? Unless people have a military background, given the peculiar nature of Northern Ireland, let alone the peculiar nature of the United Kingdom, it might be difficult to find the type of people who have a uniform to wear. What work will they do?

These questions, which come straight out of the top of my head, are important to us. I shall be glad to hear the answers later. We are talking about some counties where there are large groups of people who never thought to be considered as lord lieutenants and groups of people who do not consider themselves to be part of the United Kingdom. It is important for us to know what the Government have in mind when they say that Northern Ireland is to be brought into line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr Rafton Pounder Mr Rafton Pounder , Belfast South

I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, and to my hon. Friend the Minister of State for not having heard the opening observations of my hon. Friend.

Though obviously I profoundly regret the abolition of the office of governor, nevertheless the amendment goes a considerable way towards meeting the anxieties which were widely expressed in Northern Ireland about the office of governor. I welcome the amendment and thank my hon. Friend for presenting it to the House.

Photo of Mr David Howell Mr David Howell , Guildford

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Pounder) and to the hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Merlyn Rees) for the way they have commented upon the amendment.

The reason "may" is there is that it is constitutionally inappropriate to require the Queen to make an Order in Council. Orders in Council are under the Royal Prerogative and are without parliamentary procedure.

I cannot follow the hon. Gentleman in his speculations on the types of person and about uniforms. The question how the representation of Her Majesty is carried out is a matter on which it would not be proper for me to comment. The amendment implies no change from the procedures adopted in the rest of the United Kingdom. That is as far as I can go. The rest is a matter for Her Majesty and for the normal procedures by which these matters are decided by her.

Question put and agreed to.