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Ireland (Tripartite Conference)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley 12:00 am, 10th December 1973

I certainly acknowledge the contributions made by the right hon Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) in the proposals they put forward some time ago, some of which were embodied in the agreement. As the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) knows, I acknowledged to the conference last night and to the Press at the signing the part which my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has played. Again I pay tribute to those round the table from the Executive-designate as well as to the Prime Minister and his colleagues from the Republic.

I willingly confirm that the whole of these arrangements were reached voluntarily and without any sort of pressure or compulsion. I would have thought that the length of time the conference took, and the amount of work we had to do, indicated that clearly enough to everybody outside the conference, and those inside who heard the varied proposals put forward—some of them very ingenious for solving the problems we were confronted with also realised that there was no question other than that of voluntary effort by everybody and, in the end, voluntary agreement.