The Stormont Papers
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Volume 2 (1922) / Pages 29 - 30
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Volume 2 / Page 29

HOUSE OF COMMONS.

Wednesday, 15th March, 1922.

The House met at a Quarter after Two of the Clock, Mr. Speaker in the Chair.

BILLS PRESENTED. Civil Authorities of Northern Ireland (Special Powers).â??Bill to empower certain authorities of the Government of Northern Ireland to take steps for preserving the peace and maintaining order in Northern Ireland, and for purposes connected therewith The Minister of Home Affairs (Sir Dawson Bates).

Read a First Time, Ordered to be read a Second time to-morrow, and to be printed.

Belfast Harbour.â??Bill, to extend the borrowing powers of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners, and for other purposes.

Read a First Time. Ordered to be read a Second Time.

ORDER OF THE DAY.

KING'S SPEECH. DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS.

[Second Day.]Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question (14th March).

"That an humble Address be presented to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as followeth: Your Excellency, We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to your Excellency for the Speech which your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament. (Mr. McBride.)" Question again proposed.

Mr.COOTE: I wish to compliment, if I may, the mover and seconder of this Address (Mr.McBride and Mr. Duff), and I think the House has a right to congratulate our hon. Friends on their maiden speeches on the occasion. I might also say that we, the ordinary Members of this House, wish to pay a tribute here, if we may, to the Minister of Labour for the excellent way in which he has conducted his department under very trying circumstances since this Parliament met before. We appreciate very much his tact, and his judgment, and his common sense, and the indication which he has given of his capacity to carry on the work of this very important arm of the Government augurs very well indeed for his department. I think when we come to deal with this Speech of His Gracious Majesty we must say that it is remarkable more for its sins of omission than of commission. I was looking out for, and hoping

to see that right in the fronts of this Address there would be some indication given to us by the Government that they were going to make come provision for dealing with, or doing away with, the principle of Proportional Representation as applied to municipal, county, and rural elections. We feel it is a very grave omission, and we wonder if it has occurred by design or through inadvertence.

The PRIME MINISTER: Perhaps I might say, in answer to my hon. Friend, that I am at present in personal touch with some of the municipal authorities on that point. They themselves have not made up their minds yet, and we are waiting to hear their decision before going any further.

Mr. COOTE: We shall hope that some further opportunity will be given us at a later stage of discussing the whole question, because it is one on which there may be a variety of opinions. There are certainly very strong opinions on one side. Then we had expected that there would be something more definitely said on the housing question, one of the biggest social questions we have to deal with in Northern Ireland. Where do we stand as a Government and as a Parliament in regard to our quota for the Northern area of the money that should be transmitted from the Imperial Government for the whole of Ireland? I say where do we stand to-day? There is no enlightenment from the Government on the various phases of the housing question. I hone I am right in saying that under the Soldiers and Sailors Building Scheme, which was inaugurated by the British Government. there ought to be something like 600.000 coming into the Ulster Exchequer for building houses for soldiers and sailors in Northern Ireland. We have complained all along that this money has not been spent in Northern Ireland, although we have contributed a greater quota of men to the fighting forces than has been contributed by any other part of Ireland. So far as I can understand there are only something like 86 houses built for soldiers. There is a great deal of unexpended money somewhere. We want to know where this money is. Have the Northern Exchequer received this money? If so, it is all right, but, then, if they have not received it, is not the time limited in which they can apply for it before it reverts back to the British Treasury? The same thing applies to the housing scheme generally. The same also applies to the million voted by the Imperial Parliament for the erection of labourers' cottages in the rural districts of Ireland. Have we received our quota of this million of money in Ireland? From the time this money was voted about two years ago till the present there have been very few labourers cottages erected in any part of Ireland owing to the restrictive enactments of the Local Government Board in Dublin. We want to know is this money in our hands? Has the Local Government Board of Northern Ireland received this money? If so when are they going to bring in some scheme by which this money will be expended in the time given for its expenditure, or are we going to drift on until this money reverts back to the British Treasury and will not be used at all in this Northern area? These are questions we would

 
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