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European Community

Volume 894: debated on Thursday 26 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the referendum result as it affects the work of his Department.


asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the present arrangements for representing the views and interests of the people of Northern Ireland in the institutions of the EEC.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement made by the Prime Minister on 9th June—[Vol. 893, c. 29–31.] Northern Ireland interests are represented in the EEC institutions within the arrangements for the United Kingdom as a whole.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, despite all the turmoil and trouble which has been and still is Ireland, there has been a common denominator over the years between the Governments of Northern Ireland and of the Republic in the people? Many people think that the referendum has provided further opportunities for economic and financial agreements to be made and extended, which might ultimately lead to peace in Northern Ireland. Many people in Ireland feel that, other methods having failed, economic measures between all the people might succeed.

EEC cross-border studies have suggested that this might be so. On a limited basis, the Government are prepared to study with the Government of the Republic a limited programme which might be attempted, and my right hon. Friend has been in communication with the Government of the Republic to that end. It would be in a rather small way to begin with.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that there is a gap in the representation of Northern Ireland in the EEC on a political level in both the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament? Will he confirm that his right hon. Friend is not a frequent visitor to Ministers' meetings in the EEC, in the nature of the institutions concerned. and that ultimately direct elections to the European Parliament would offer better possibilities for Northern Ireland than the present situation?

I remind the hon. Gentle. man that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. We are told that continuously. Therefore, my right hon Friend the Foreign Secretary obviously represents Northern Ireland since he represents the United Kingdom as such. Representations in a parliamentary sense are a matter for this Parliament.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as the people of Northern Ireland are part of the people of the United Kingdom, whatever represents the people of the United Kingdom represents the people of Northern Ireland? Is he aware also that, as long as the people of Northern Ireland are scandalously underrepresented in this House of Commons, their representation elsewhere is a very subordinate matter?

There are different views about this in Northern Ireland. If an acceptable form of devolved government emerges in Northern Ireland, there will then be representation both in Westminster and in the parliament which will be created in Northern Ireland.