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Northern Ireland (Conscription)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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50.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give further consideration to the desirability of extending conscription to Northern Ireland in view of the altered circumstances which now prevail since the matter was under consideration some two years ago; and, in particular, will he inform the House of the nature of the difficulties which would interfere with the imposition of conscription in Northern Ireland as elsewhere in the United King- dom of which Northern Ireland is an integral part, considering that the people and Government of Northern Ireland are in favour of the proposal and the need for the enrolment of additional men and women to assist the war effort?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some thousands of women whose sons and husbands are engaged on munition work in this country, are about to be called up by the Minister of Labour to work 40 hours a week, and that people in factories and offices are told that they will probably have to work 50 hours a week? In these circumstances is it not desirable that in Northern Ireland, which, as he recently told the House, is an integral part of the United Kingdom, the 20,000 men and women who are unemployed should be made available? Does not my right hon. Friend realise that people feel very keenly about this?

As the right hon. Gentleman has twice repeated that it is more trouble than it is worth to introduce conscription into Northern Ireland, from whom does he anticipate trouble? Is it from Northern Ireland or from a neutral State which has no jurisdiction over Northern Ireland?