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Northern Ireland (Goc's Speech)

Volume 890: debated on Monday 14 April 1975

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I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 for a specific and important matter that should be given urgent consideration, namely,

whether the House should have adequate time to debate the situation whereby an Army General has taken over the rĂ´le of the politicians and interfered in the politics of this country as Lieutenant-General Sir Frank King, the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, has done in commenting adversely on the Government's policy of bringing internment to a swift end.
Whether this act is acceptable or totally unacceptable to this elected Chamber, it is a matter of serious public importance and of enormous importance for parliamentary democracy. It is important for the House to debate the situation. I do not accept that a Private Notice Question and a statement from the Secretary of State is adequate.

If we put to one side the issue of Northern Ireland, I see this as being an issue striking at the heart of parliamentary democracy and parliamentary government in this nation. If any non-elected public servant did this within the British Civil Service there would be a similar outcry. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will agree to my request and give the House the opportunity adequately to debate this important transgression by this General who is in command in Northern Ireland.

I am much obliged to the hon. Lady for giving me her reasons in writing as well as for the way in which she has spoken. I have considered this matter carefully. I have also had regard to what has already taken place in the House today. The decision for me is whether I should allow the business of today or of tomorrow to be disrupted by a debate on this matter. I am afraid that the answer is "No".