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Uk And Irish Republic (Travel Permits, Abolition)

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 27 March 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is prepared to abolish the control of passenger traffic between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent he is prepared to modify the travel restrictions at present in force between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

After careful consideration, I have decided that the present system of control of passengers travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Great Britain and the Irish Republic, should be abolished; and it will be discontinued on 7th April. From that date, it will be unnecessary for passengers travelling on the routes in question to obtain special documents for the journey or to obtain leave to land from an immigration officer. Aliens will, of course, still have to carry documents establishing their nationality and identity: and amendments have been made to the Aliens Order to make possible the imposition on aliens coming from the Republic of conditions such as are normally attached to the grant by an immigration officer of leave to land in the United Kingdom.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that, in removing these restrictions, he will receive the thanks of the business community and also of tourists, who have so long been denied their rights as British subjects to travel freely within the United Kingdom? Is he also aware that hon. Members opposite, who are not so friendly disposed towards Ulster, can scarce forbear to cheer, and that this will also benefit the Irish Republic?

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that during the last two Parliaments the abolition of these unnecessary restrictions on travel to essential parts of the United Kingdom was frequently pressed upon his predecessor without success and that today, in making this decision, he has earned the gratitude of everyone in Northern Ireland, irrespective of party?

Does the answer mean that passports will or will not be necessary in travelling to and from Ireland in future?

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman's reply mean that, in return for this concession, he will ask the Northern Ireland Government to abolish the censorship of letters, which is equally distasteful?