The Future of Northern Ireland:
|PART I:||Historical Background|
|PART II:||Proposals and Possibilities|
|Proposals by Political Parties in Northern Ireland|
|The Theoretical Possibilities|
|- Sovereignty and Citizenship|
|- Methods of Government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom|
|- Division of Powers between United Kingdom and Northern Ireland institutions|
|- Northern Ireland institutions|
|A Representative Assembly|
|Representation of Northern Ireland interests in the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom|
|A Bill of Rights|
|PART III:||Towards a Settlement|
|Some Basic Facts|
|- The Financing of Services in Northern Ireland|
|- The Armed Forces|
|- 'The interdependence of Northern Ireland|
|The United Kingdom interest|
|The Irish Dimension|
|PART IV:||The Way Forward|
|1||The Government of Ireland Act, 1920: the original scheme of government|
|2||Developments in North-South Relations|
|3||The Reform Programme, 1968-72|
|4||'Towards the Future' - Ulster Unionist Party [see separate document]|
|5||Views of the Alliance Party|
|6||Views of the Northern Ireland Labour Party|
|7||'Towards a New Ireland' - Social Democratic and Labour Party [see separate document]|
|8||Views of the Ulster Liberal Party|
|9||'A new Constitution for Northern Ireland' - New Ulster Movement|
The British Government have a clear objective in Northern Ireland. It is to deliver its people from the violence and fear in which they live today and to set them free to realise their great potential to the full.
We want to help them to draw together; to find a system of government which will enjoy the support and the respect of the overwhelming majority. If it is to do so, such a system must emerge in large measure from the ideas and the convictions of the Northern Ireland people themselves. This is why there has to be a lengthy process of consultation, which I started on arrival, have been continuing ever since, most recently at the Darlington conference for Northern Ireland parties, and which I shall now seek to bring to fruition over the coming weeks.
But the stage has now been reached at which we must take a step forward in shaping the future. This is the purpose of this Paper for Discussion. It does not set out any single cut and dried scheme for the future but sets out some fundamental conditions (including the clear pledges of successive British Governments) which any settlement must meet. It places the Northern Ireland situation in the wider context of certain unalterable facts of life - political, economic and military - which must fundamentally influence any settlement.
This Paper is intended to provide a comprehensive basis for further
discussions which I now propose immediately to put in hand. These
must go ahead with the utmost urgency. What is at issue is the
future of Northern Ireland, and I have set out in the first paragraph
of this Foreword what the Government aim to achieve for its people.
But the future of any community depends upon the will of its own
people to live, to work and to make progress together; in the
last resort responsibility for bringing about a peaceful future
lies with them. This Paper seeks to provide, as its title and
sub-title indicate, a basis for discussion as to how that may
best be achieved.
1 For more than 50 years, between 1921 and the enactment of the
Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1972, Northern Ireland
was governed under the scheme of devolution embodied in the Government
of Ireland Act, 1920. That scheme remains today the basic constitutional
document for Northern Ireland, since the Act of 1972 did not replace
it, but rather superimposed upon it certain temporary provisions,
in particular the prorogation of the Northern Ireland Parliament
and the assumption by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
of those executive powers hitherto discharged by the Government
of Northern Ireland.
2 Annex I summarises the principal provisions of the Government
of Ireland Act, 1920 (hereafter referred to, for the sake of brevity,
as 'the Act of 1920') as it came into force in Northern Ireland.
It is important to remember, however, that the Act was intended
to establish a scheme of devolution not just for Northern Ireland,
but for Ireland as a whole. In an attempt to reconcile the conflicting
views of the majority in Ireland, who sought Home Rule, with those
of a minority, largely concentrated in the North, who wished to
preserve the Union with Great Britain, the United Kingdom Government
introduced a compromise, providing for the establishment in Northern
Ireland and in Southern Ireland of subordinate legislatures and
governments within the United Kingdom, and also for specific machinery
(the Council of Ireland) to promote co-operation and encourage
ultimate union within the United Kingdom by agreement. In the
event Southern Ireland did not operate the institutions established
by the Act of 1920. The scheme of devolution for which that Act
provided came into force in Northern Ireland alone, subject to
such modifications as were made necessary by the subsequent changes
in the status of the rest of Ireland; and although the subsequent
course of North-South relations (of which a summary is given in
Annex 2) did not preclude a degree of practical co-operation,
the formal joint institutions envisaged by the Act of 1920 were
3 Although the Northern Ireland Parliament (subsequently to become
widely known as 'Stormont' from its eventual location) was endowed
with quite extensive lawmaking powers, it became apparent at an
early date that the exercise of these powers in practice would
be tempered by the realities of the financial situation. The Parliament
and Government of Northern Ireland were from the outset in the
anomalous position of having responsibility for a wide range of
public expenditure without any comparable responsibility for raising
the major part of the revenue to finance it, since those 'transferred'
taxes which the Northern Ireland Parliament had power to levy
were at no time adequate to finance more than a minor proportion
of 'transferred' expenditure. The rates of those 'reserved' (or
Westminster controlled) taxes from which the greater part of Northern
Ireland expenditure had to be met fluctuated in response to economic,
financial and budgetary circumstances of the United Kingdom as
a whole; hence Northern Ireland was unable to engage in those
aspects of economic management which are central to the concerns
of modern democratic governments.
4 On the contrary, there steadily evolved a relationship based
upon the principle of 'parity', by which citizens of the United
Kingdom living in Northern Ireland paid the same taxes and enjoyed
a similar standard of public sector services as their fellow-citizens
in Great Britain, achieved by payments to the Northern Ireland
Exchequer, to Northern Ireland statutory funds (such as the Northern
Ireland National Insurance Fund), and direct to individual citizens
in Northern Ireland.
5 Thus, as a part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has
not been held back by inadequate tax resources from the development
of services to standards acceptable in Great Britain. But the
arrangements designed to secure this end have inevitably meant
that the ability of the Northern Ireland Parliament to create,
by legislation, distinctive policies of its own, has been severely
inhibited. In the specific areas covered by the various 'parity'
agreements, the Northern Ireland Parliament bound itself of its
own choice, and in order to secure substantial benefits for the
Northern Ireland community, to legislate virtually in parallel
with Great Britain. Nor was the effect of Northern Ireland's financial
dependence confined to those areas covered by specific parity
arrangements. Because public expenditure in Northern Ireland exceeded
public revenue raised there, virtually all Northern Ireland's
policies involving significant new expenditure had to be agreed
in advance with HM Treasury; so that even in fields where the
distinctive traditions and needs of Northern Ireland led to the
provision of distinctive programmes and policies, the Northern
Ireland Parliament's freedom of legislative action was limited
by the constraints of United Kingdom public expenditure. In fields
such as industrial development the need to take account of additional
factors such as international obligations and consequential effects
in Great Britain both for individual companies and particular
regions meant that more detailed consultation with Whitehall was
6 The Northern Ireland Parliament has nevertheless enacted in
many fields legislation specially adapted to the local situation.
For example, Northern Ireland legislation on industrial development
at various times and in various ways provided for a level of inducements
to industry intended to offset as far as possible Northern Ireland's
geographic and other disadvantages. Specialised agencies established
by the Northern Ireland Parliament, such as the Northern Ireland
Tuberculosis Authority and the Northern Ireland Housing Trust,
made a most significant contribution towards the betterment of
life in the Province.
7 Because the Northern Ireland Parliament lacked real economic
or financial independence the area of its genuinely and wholly
independent legislative action tended to be concentrated on the
social and regulatory fields, on changes in distinctive codes
of law, and on measures which were significant for other reasons
than their expenditure implications.
8 Of particular importance was that wide area of public policy
which may be described as 'law and order and security'. On the
one hand the Northern Ireland Parliament's general grant of powers
charged it with responsibility for peace and order, as well as
for good government; on the other, the United Kingdom Parliament
reserved to itself responsibility for the defence of the realm
and for the raising of any kind of military force. In practice,
however, this division of power was not easy to observe in the
face of developments in Northern Ireland itself. Although the
Act of 1920 by no means envisaged the Irish border as an international
frontier, it steadily assumed that character as Southern Ireland
became first the Irish Free State and ultimately the Irish Republic.
The partition of Ireland was deeply resented, and the new institutions
of Northern Ireland were opposed; militant elements of the republican
tradition launched violent attacks upon the Province and its institutions
both from within Northern Ireland and across the border.
9 In response to this threat (from time to time dormant, but periodically
renewed) the Northern Ireland Parliament used its legislative
powers to enact measures and to establish institutions without
equivalent in Great Britain, although by no means without precedent
or parallel in Ireland. The Civil Authorities (Special Powers)
Act (Northern Ireland), 1922 conferred upon the executive wide
powers to make regulations for the protection of the State, under
which provision was made, inter alia, for detention and
internment without trial. The Royal Ulster Constabulary, established
in 1922, inherited from its predecessor, the Royal Irish Constabulary,
distinctive traditions and functions which themselves originated
in the special public order problems of Ireland. The Northern
Ireland Parliament also voted moneys for the maintenance of the
Ulster Special Constabulary, which was an armed force most of
whose members had been trained to carry out patrols of a varying
nature and guard duties, rather than to reinforce and assist the
Royal Ulster Constabulary in the performance of police duties
as generally understood in the rest of the United Kingdom.
10 There were also important areas of policy in which Northern
Ireland legislation diverged from that in force in the rest of
the United Kingdom, not because the Northern Ireland Parliament
enacted specifically different legislation, but because it did
not make changes comparable with those made in Great Britain by
the United Kingdom Parliament. Certain of these areas involved
sensitive issues on which there were distinctive Northern Ireland
points of view. Some, however, involved important questions of
citizens' rights. In particular, the Northern Ireland Parliament
did not, for many years, follow the example of the United Kingdom
Parliament in moving from a ratepayers' franchise at local government
elections to a basis of universal adult suffrage.
11 Section 75 of the Act of 1920 saved the sovereign authority
of the United Kingdom Parliament over all matters in Northern
Ireland. In practice, however, this reserve of power came to be
used only in the most limited way. In general the view prevailed
that, having established responsible if subordinate institutions
in Northern Ireland with certain powers, the United Kingdom Parliament
and Government should not lightly supersede or override those
powers. Thus there developed a convention that the United Kingdom
Parliament would legislate within the field of Northern Ireland's
'transferred' powers only by invitation. This convention merely
reflected the general view of the sovereign Parliament as to the
prudent exercise of its powers; it did not, and could not, override
the clear and unambiguous wording of the Statute.
12 The most striking feature of the executive government of Northern
Ireland throughout this period of more than half a century was
its virtually complete concentration in the hands of a single
political party, the Ulster Unionist Party. At every General Election
from 1921 to 1969 this Party secured an absolute majority of the
seats in the Northern Ireland Parliament. Thus, following the
general convention governing such matters in the United Kingdom,
successive leaders of that Party were invited by the Governor
to form an Administration, and did so almost entirely from fellow
members of the Party in one or other House of the Northern Ireland
Parliament, (two of the three notable exceptions being appointed
in 1971 - Mr. Bleakley, and Dr. Newe, a Roman Catholic).
13 The unbroken dominance of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
(and thus of the Government) by the Ulster Unionist Party was
based upon an authentic electoral mandate. Although the franchise
up to 1968 included provision for a business vote, and electoral
boundaries of the Stormont constituencies were not reviewed for
many years, neither of these factors had any major bearing on
the balance of the parties in the Northern Ireland Parliament.
14 The alternation of governing Parties which has for so long
been a characteristic of the British political system, and which
has undoubtedly contributed in a marked degree to the stability
of Parliamentary Government in Great Britain, accordingly did
not exist in Northern Ireland. It is true that there are other
democracies, whether sovereign States or self-governing areas
within them, of which this can also be said. The special feature
of the Northern Ireland situation was that the great divide in
political life was not between different viewpoints on such matters
as the allocation of resources and the determination of priorities,
but between two whole communities. The 'floating vote' for which
rival parties would normally compete was almost non-existent.
Thus the relationship between the parties was not fluctuating
and uncertain, but virtually fixed from one Election to another.
Such a situation was unlikely to foster either sensitivity on
the part of the permanent majority, or a sense of responsibility
on the part of the permanent minority.
15 It would be quite wrong to infer that, in spite of this fundamental
defect at the heart of the system, successive Governments of Northern
Ireland did not achieve-with the co-operation, financial and otherwise,
of successive United Kingdom Governments-substantial advances
in many important fields of vital concern to the individual citizen
and the whole community. In 1921 Northern Ireland, in many of
its public services, shared with the rest of Ireland lower standards
than Great Britain. Over the half century which followed, schools,
hospitals, roads and many other services were developed to levels
fully comparable with those of any area of Great Britain. Energetic
industrial development policies achieved great economic diversification
and a marked increase in real wealth, though, as in certain regions
of Great Britain, this failed to bring unemployment percentages
down to the national average in the face of contracting employment
in certain basic industries.
16 There were, however, persistent protests on behalf of the Roman
Catholic minority that they were being excluded by deliberate
policy from their fair share of the benefits of increasing prosperity,
and from that legitimate political influence which would permit
their claims to be more effectively advanced. While some of these
complaints were undoubtedly justified, in some cases opportunities
to participate were not taken up, and in others the minority,
detecting an unfavourable position resulting from other circumstances,
genuinely believed that there had been bias or malice where none
existed. Thus a higher rate of unemployment in a comparatively
remote area which had a predominantly Roman Catholic population
could be attributed by that population to governmental bias against
it; but could also result from the real practical problems of
promoting new economic development in a remote area. What is incontestable
is that the continuous and complete control of central government
by representatives of the majority alone was virtually bound to
give rise to such suspicions.
17 Moreover, since the Report in 1969 of the Commission headed
by Lord Cameron there has been on record an account of deliberate
policies of discrimination, particularly in relation to housing
and public employment by some though not all of the local authorities
in Northern Ireland, and of a toleration of local government electoral
boundaries in some areas which produced wholly artificial results.
18 When the 1920 Act was passed, there had been a clear intention
to prevent discrimination whether in legislation or in executive
acts. Section 5(1) of the Act prohibited the making of laws interfering
with religious equality, while section 8(6) prohibited the use
of the executive power so as to give a preference, privilege or
advantage, or impose a disability or disadvantage on any person
on account of religious belief. Whether because of doubts about
the application of section 8(6) to local authorities and public
bodies as distinct from central government or because of the difficulty
of proving actual bias in an individual case, these provisions
were not in practice invoked by persons seeking redress before
the Courts. Thus many members of the minority felt that they could
not expect redress of grievance through Parliament or through
the constitutional safeguards which had been written into the
Act of 1920.
19 By 1968 there had emerged an active and articulate movement
demanding changes in the area of civil rights, such as the acceptance
of universal adult suffrage as the basis for all elections, the
redrawing of electoral boundaries, and the ending of discrimination
in employment and housing. From the start this movement was largely
(though not exclusively) Roman Catholic, and although it undoubtedly
attracted support from militant republicanism, its declared aim
was to achieve the objectives by non-violent means. On 5 October
1968, however, a violent confrontation with the police occurred
when a Civil Rights march took place in Londonderry in defiance
of an Order made by the Minister of Home Affairs for Northern
20 The reactions and counter-reactions which followed led in August 1969, to widespread inter-communal disorders at a number of places in Northern Ireland. These were subsequently to be described in the report of the Scarman Tribunal as follows:
21 On 19 August the Prime Minister (Mr. Wilson) and a number of
his senior colleagues met Major Chichester-Clark and other Northern
Ireland Ministers at 10 Downing Street. The practical results
of this meeting included giving the General Officer Commanding
(Northern Ireland) overall responsibility for all security operations
throughout Northern Ireland, with full command of the Ulster Special
Constabulary and with control of the deployment and tasking of
the Royal Ulster Constabulary for all matters relating to security
operations; withdrawing the Ulster Special Constabulary from riot
or crowd control duties and strictly controlling their arms; and
the appointment for the first time of a senior official as United
Kingdom Representative in Northern Ireland. The meeting also produced
the Downing Street Declaration, embodying a re-affirmation
of the pledge by successive United Kingdom Governments that Northern
Ireland should not cease to be a part of the United Kingdom without
the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, and a commitment
to the principle that 'in all legislation and executive decisions
of government every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to
the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination
as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom, irrespective of
political views or religion'.
22 In order to prevent direct confrontation between the communities
in those sensitive areas of West Belfast where they lived in homogeneous
districts contiguous to each other, one of the Army's first major
acts after its involvement in August 1969 was to build the so-called
'Peace Line' along the sensitive inter-face. To a considerable
extent peace was kept, but as the Army stood between the communities
it was drawn into conflict at different times with first one and
then the other. The earliest serious confrontation, in October
1969, was between the Army and Protestant elements on Belfast's
Shankill Road affronted by the Northern Ireland Government's acceptance
of the changes in police organisation recommended by the Hunt
Committee; but as time elapsed the Provisional wing of the
Irish Republican Army (consisting broadly of the more traditionally
militant elements of that organisation after a split in its leadership)
emerged in 1970 as a most serious threat to security and public
order. Because it was in the Catholic areas of Belfast that the
main brunt of the destruction of August 1969 had been borne, the
local IRA elements were able - as they had not been between 1956-62-to
project themselves as the defenders of the wider Catholic community,
and thus to win substantial numbers of recruits and a considerable
degree of mass support. At first encouraging and manipulating
civilian rioters (using such weapons as stones or petrol bombs)
but gradually developing direct action with firearms and explosives
against the security forces and the wider community, the IRA (largely
locally recruited, but to an increasing extent under the influence
of the movement's national leadership in the Republic) steadily
stepped up its efforts, requiring in response a growing commitment
of troops to Northern Ireland.
23 Neither the increasingly tight security policy, involving the
presence of the Army in increasing strength and the use of parts
of the Special Powers Act, nor the implementation or announcement
of a number of radical reforms (see Annex 3) prevented the IRA
from extending its campaign of violence. This led the Northern
Ireland Government, after consultation with the United Kingdom
Government, to introduce internment; one consequence of this was
to reinforce Roman Catholic leaders in the decision they had already
taken a month earlier, on other grounds, to withdraw from the
Northern Ireland Parliament. As both the IRA campaign and this
political rift continued, the growing inter-communal bitterness
steadily reduced any realistic hope of political progress.
24 Faced by this evident impasse the United Kingdom Government
came to the conclusion that it was necessary to remove from the
Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland their responsibilities
for law and order. The Northern Ireland Government felt unable
to accept this transfer of functions, and indicated their intention
to resign instead. The United Kingdom Parliament enacted the Northern
Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1972 in March 1972 which effectively
vested in the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the powers
formerly exercised by the Northern Ireland Government.
25 Following the introduction of direct rule, the Secretary of
State for Northern Ireland has been involved in intensive discussions
with all shades of opinion in Northern Ireland, and has in addition
invited and received many written suggestions from individual
citizens of Northern Ireland. In August 1972 it was announced
that a conference would be held to which each of the seven parliamentary
political parties of Northern Ireland was invited to discuss suggestions
for the future of Northern Ireland: the conference was held at
Darlington from 25-27 September and representatives of the Unionist,
the Alliance and the Northern Ireland Labour Parties were present.
Parts II and III of this Paper take account of the many views
which have been represented to the Secretary of State both during
this conference, and in his other consultations.
(ii) An Executive to consist of a Cabinet comprising a Prime Minister and five or six Ministers each heading a department.
(iii) The Royal Ulster Constabulary and its Reserve to continue to be answerable to the Northern Ireland authorities, and to be responsible for intelligence gathering and the control of subversive activities (as far as possible) as well as for ordinary civil policing.
(iv) The Special Powers Act to be replaced by alternative emergency legislation, excluding the power to intern, with its operation dependent upon the declaration by the Northern Ireland Parliament of a state of emergency, and renewable for six months at a time by resolution of that Parliament. A system of Special Courts to deal with cases involving either widespread sectarian violence or widespread terrorist activity.
(v) A precise and comprehensive Bill of Rights, to equalise and safeguard citizens' rights, with provision for judicial review and enforcement.
(vi) A tripartite Declaration, analogous to the Agreement of 1925, by the Governments in London, Dublin and Belfast affirming the right of the people of Northern Ireland to self-determination. Intergovernmental discussion about co-operation in ending terrorism in Ireland, and review of extradition arrangements or declaration of a Common Law Enforcement Area in Ireland. If such action is taken, the formation of an Irish Intergovernmental Council, with equal membership from the Northern Ireland Government and the Government of the Republic of Ireland, to discuss matters of mutual interest, particularly in the economic and social fields.
(ii) The Assembly itself to oversee executive functions through its Committees with management functions exercised by a Committee consisting of the chairman of the Assembly and the chairmen of its Committees.
(iii) The Royal Ulster Constabulary to be concerned only with serious crime and any police functions affecting security, and to be under Westminster control. An ordinary Police Force, to deal with parking, traffic control and offences, vandalism and minor crime, to be under the control of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
(iv) The Special Powers Act to be phased out as soon as possible, and the new Assembly to have no powers to enact any similar legislation. All security legislation (as also all legislative powers in relation to electoral matters) to be a Westminster responsibility.
(v) A Bill of Rights, guaranteeing, to all citizens their fundamental human rights, and based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
(vi) The Irish Republic not to be represented at talks on the political future of Northern Ireland but should accept a fair settlement. Extradition arrangements to be re-negotiated, to provide for extradition of persons charged with crimes of violence of a political nature. The formation of an advisory Anglo-Irish Council with representatives from Westminster, the Dail and the new Northern Ireland Assembly.
(ii) Each Departmental Committee to constitute the legal entity formerly constituted by a departmental Minister.
(iii) Westminster to be responsible for the courts and judiciary, legislation on and licensing of firearms, emergency powers (which should accord with international obligations and conventions) and the power to raise, disband, arm, or control the criteria for recruiting of, any police force. The Northern Ireland Assembly, however, to. retain management powers in relation to the police, including, power to increase its strength and review the exercise of its functions.
(iv) Anything in the nature of Special Powers legislation to be a Westminster matter, but full account to be taken of the existence of a. serious emergency in Northern Ireland.
(v) A Bill of Rights to give statutory expression to the Downing Street Declaration of August 1969 and acknowledge the Westminster. Parliament's role as guarantor of civil, religious and political liberty in Northern Ireland. The position in Northern Ireland on such matters as the death penalty, race relations, homosexual practices, termination of pregnancy and divorce to be brought into line with that in the rest of the United Kingdom; all future legislation in the field of civil (and individual citizens') rights enacted at Westminster to be applied to Northern Ireland unless the Westminster, Parliament determines otherwise; and the Westminster Parliament to reserve expressly the right to annul any provision made by the Northern Ireland Assembly which it resolves to affect adversely citizens' rights.
(vi) A consultative and deliberative Council of Ireland to be established.
(ii) Pending the achievement of unity, the establishment of an interim system of government for Northern Ireland under the joint sovereignty of the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, who would reserve to themselves all powers relating to foreign affairs, defence, security, police and financial subventions and would be represented in Northern Ireland by Commissioners who would sign all legislation of a Northern Ireland Assembly or, if one or both considered it necessary, refer it for determination by a joint Constitutional Court.
(iii) The Assembly to consist of 84 Members elected by the STV system of proportional representation, with power to legislate in all fields including taxation, except those matters reserved to the joint sovereign powers.
(iv) An executive of 15 Members to be elected from the Assembly by proportional representation and to hold office through the duration of an Assembly except in the case of a 75 per cent adverse vote. A chief executive, elected by the executive, to allocate departmental responsibilities subject to the approval of both Commissioners.
(v) No representation for Northern Ireland in either the Westminster or the Dublin Parliament.
(vi) All powers of security to be under the direct control of a department headed by both Commissioners.
(vii) Creation of a new national Senate for the whole of Ireland, with equal representation from the Dublin Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Parties from each being represented according to their strength, to plan the integration of North and South and agree on an acceptable constitution.
(ii)The main policy-making body to be a Finance Committee. Its chairman, who would in effect be head of the Government, to be the member of the Assembly receiving most first-preference votes in an election of a panel of chairmen by STV. Other members to be the chairmen of the other Committees and three persons appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from outside the Assembly.
(iii) All members of the judiciary to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor. Matters affecting security and civil rights to remain for the time being under the control of the Secretary of State, with power to delegate to relevant departments.
(iv) Westminster to have overriding responsibility for fair and proper standards of government.
(v) A consultative Joint Council to be set up by the Northern Ireland Finance Committee and the Dublin Government, to investigate the necessity for joint Commissions upon which powers could be conferred by the Dail and the Assembly for specific purposes.
(b) the Republican Labour Party (one Member) have consistently seen the future of Northern Ireland in an all-Ireland context.
(c) the Democratic Unionist Party (four Members, two of whom resigned their seats immediately before prorogation) have adopted the general attitude that, since the restoration of the Northern Ireland Parliament with its former powers and status is extremely unlikely Northern Ireland should cease to have any separate legislature or executive of its own, but be fully integrated with the rest of the United Kingdom. (The Democratic Unionist Party intend to present their proposals to the Prime Minister. They were not ready in time for inclusion in this Paper).
(ii) Executive decisions to be made by Committees, with co-ordination through chairmen (posts held in proportion to party strength). Also scope for decentralisation of control to local authorities and delegation to statutory bodies.
(iii) Control of the police to remain in Northern Ireland, provided it is made a fully civilianised force, totally unarmed, clearly separated from the political arena and subject to an effective Police Authority and inspection by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
(iv) An Act of Human Rights, to provide for access of aggrieved persons and organisations to a Tribunal modelled on Industrial Tribunals, with a minimum of rules of procedure and an ultimate appeal to a Tribunal made up of Judges drawn equally from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
(v) Recognition by the Irish Republic of the political status in international law of Northern Ireland as a region of the United Kingdom and its right to remain such until a majority of its citizens decide otherwise. Machinery for North-South co-operation and consultation.
'The view of HM Government has always been that no change should be made in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without Northern Ireland's free agreement.'
The pledge was given the form of a statutory declaration by Section 1(2) of the Ireland Act, 1949:
'It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland remains part of His Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom and it is hereby affirmed that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of His Majesty's dominions and of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.'
This commitment has since been repeated by all successive Governments and as already noted was incorporated in the Downing Street Declaration of 20 August 1969. On 15 November 1971 speaking at the Mansion House in London the present Prime Minister used the following words:
'Many Catholics in Northern Ireland would like to see Northern Ireland unified with the South. That is understandable. It is legitimate that they should seek to further that aim by democratic and constitutional means. If at some future date the majority of the people in Northern Ireland want unification and express that desire in the appropriate constitutional manner, I do not believe any British Government would stand in the way. But that is not what the majority want today'.
(b) To admit the possibility of change, either towards Irish unity or some form of condominium; but not specifically to provide for it. This could take the form either of a 'neutral' declaration ('It is for Northern Ireland to make up its mind what it wishes to do, but the United Kingdom Government would not stand in the way in the event of a wish for change') which has, indeed, already been made in substance by United Kingdom Ministers, or of a 'positive' declaration ('The United Kingdom Government would welcome the achievement of Irish unity, but this cannot come about unless and until the people of Northern Ireland freely consent to it').
(c) To admit the possibility of change, and also to provide specific machinery by which it could be achieved in an orderly way, subject to consent. It would be possible, for instance, to lay out a theoretical path towards closer integration, and possible ultimate unity in Ireland, subject to the consent of the people of Northern Ireland as expressed by plebiscite before advancing from one stage to another.
(d) To legislate for future change, either gradual or rapid. It can be argued, however, that it would be wrong to do so if the demand for such change did not first come from a majority of the people in Northern Ireland; and while there has been much discussion of the possibility one day of an all-Ireland State, there are many conflicting ideas as to its form and constitution, and the need for a continuing devolution of powers to Northern Ireland within such a State.
(e) Whether or not any change is made affecting sovereignty or citizenship, nevertheless to recognise that, because of the existence of common problems, some form of joint machinery, either at interparliamentary or at inter-governmental level, should be established. There is now much common ground between a number of the Northern Ireland parties on the need for some form of joint Council, although some wish to see a consultative and deliberative Council alone, while others envisage a joint discharge of executive functions. It would be possible to start on the more limited basis and subsequently broaden the powers of a Council by mutual agreement.
This would mean that laws for Northern Ireland, as for Great Britain, would henceforth be made by the Westminster Parliament, and the prorogued Stormont Parliament would be abolished. Northern Ireland business in the House of Commons might well be dealt with by a Northern Ireland Grand Committee, analogous to the Scottish Grand and Standing Committees. It would follow that there would be no separate Northern Ireland executive, and that all services of central government in Northern Ireland would be the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government. While, in theory, separate departmental structures in Northern Ireland could be abolished and the functions redistributed amongst appropriate United Kingdom Departments, the more promising course would be to entrust the administration of Northern Ireland services to a Secretary of State and subordinate Ministers on a Scottish Office pattern. This course would afford the best opportunity of preserving the considerable administrative benefits of devolution.
In the event of a solution along these lines, it would have to be borne in mind that, when the changes stemming from the Macrory Report are complete, responsibility for certain public services which in the rest of the United Kingdom will continue to rest with local authorities will in Northern Ireland be the responsibility of central government (ie Westminster). In such circumstances, strong arguments would no doubt be advanced for the restoration in Northern Ireland of responsibility for those services to local government and hence for a different pattern of local authorities. However, a re-opening of this issue would not only involve further confusion and uncertainty, to the detriment of services and personnel, but might also involve consideration of further changes, such as the division of Northern Ireland into comparatively few areas, within which elected authorities would exercise quite wide powers. Indeed it has been argued that the problem of participation of the minority in the exercise of power could more realistically be solved by giving control of services to the overall minority in areas where they are a local majority, rather than by seeking to give them a share of power at the centre. In considering the possibility of 'total integration' account must also be taken of the fact that the majority of parties in Northern Ireland are opposed to it, that it would represent a complete reversal of the traditions of half a century, that it would 'impose a substantial new legislative burden on the Westminster Parliament, and that it would be unacceptable to the Republic of Ireland and would make cooperation with the Republic more difficult.
(b) A purely executive authority (a 'Northern Ireland Council')
This would mean that, while all power to legislate for Northern Ireland would be retained at Westminster, as many executive functions as possible would be carried out by an elected regional authority for the whole of Northern Ireland. Such an authority might have powers to introduce Private Bills at Westminster. Powers hitherto exercised under the Act of 1920 by the Northern Ireland Government, but considered to be unsuitable for exercise by the authority, would for the most part be exercised by a Secretary of State, though some (such as those connected with social security) might be transferred to appropriate United Kingdom Departments and Ministers. As a minimum the powers of the new authority would extend to the 'top-tier' of services transferred from local authorities to the centre in accordance with the Macrory Report.
(c) A limited law making authority (A 'Northern Ireland Convention')
This would involve the establishment of a Northern Ireland Assembly, which might well have (as in pattern (b) above or otherwise) executive functions, but would also play a part in the making of laws relating exclusively to Northern Ireland. This could involve procedures similar to those contemplated by Sir Alec Douglas-Home's Scottish Constitutional Committee, under which Bills would start and finish their legislative process at Westminster but be taken through intervening stages in a local Convention. Such a Convention could also question a Secretary of State and subordinate Ministers in relation to the exercise of powers reserved to them.
(d) A powerful Legislature and Executive (a Northern Ireland Parliament or Assembly)
This would involve either the restoration of a full-scale Parliament and system of Cabinet government with powers comparable with those hitherto exercised at Stormont, or the creation of a new Assembly and Executive capable both of enacting laws and of administering the public services within the powers devolved upon them.
(b) There is the 'argument from social values', which maintains that Northern Ireland ought to have the power to preserve conditions of social behaviour generally acceptable to its own citizens, even where these are different from those in Great Britain (so that laws relating to issues such as abortion or divorce could reflect local religious or other standards): however, it may be noted that the Northern Ireland Labour Party, in its published proposals, took precisely the opposite view.
(c) There is the 'argument for the preservation of distinctive patterns of administration', which proceeds from the contention that in Northern Ireland many services, because of special local conditions or special efforts to overcome local problems, have been developed along distinctive lines and that the ability to do this, and to preserve such advantages as Northern Ireland may gain thereby, should not be lost.
(d) There is, as a converse, the 'argument against the retention of meaningless powers', based on the view that it is pointless for Northern Ireland to retain notional powers to do something different from Great Britain (eg in relation to the cash social services) while in practice to have to do very much the same things because Northern Ireland alone does not have the economic or other resources necessary to follow a different and autonomous policy.
(b) 'Proportional Representation government', whereby all substantial elements elected to the legislature would, in proportion to their representative strengths, secure representation in a government. This course could, however, exclude the possibility of any Opposition as currently understood in the legislature and would not be made easier by the very broad range of political opinion.
(c) 'Bloc government', whereby the party or parties commanding a majority in the legislature would be required to coalesce with the party or parties commanding a majority of the minority. This would ensure some residual opposition, and make possible the exclusion of small irresponsible groups on the extreme wings of politics, but it in practice would be apt to prove a somewhat complex, inflexible and artificial device.
(d) 'Weighted majority government', whereby an incoming government would require the endorsement of the legislature not by a simple majority, but by a majority so weighted as to make necessary a broad range of support. In order to ensure that support would not come from representatives of a single community, the percentage required could hardly be less than 75. The requirements of a weighted majority could be applied solely to the endorsement of a government and subsequent votes of confidence, or to a wider range of parliamentary business.
79 What conclusions may be drawn from the foregoing review of fact or opinion about the future shape of the administration of Northern Ireland? In general, there are widely-differing views about the desirable functions, powers and form of an assembly or authority, and its precise relationship with the sovereign Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom. At the one extreme, the argument is for a substantial form of regional authority; at the other, for a Parliament which would not only have the existing powers of the Northern Ireland Parliament but would be in a position to exercise them more freely. This is not the appropriate stage at which to form a final judgment on these matters, but in the view of Her Majesty's Government any firm proposals must meet the following criteria:-
(b) As long as Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament must be acknowledged, and due provision made for the United Kingdom Government to have an effective and continuing voice in Northern Ireland's affairs, commensurate with the commitment of financial, economic and military resources in the Province.
(c) Any division of powers and responsibilities between the national and the regional authorities must be logical, open and clearly understood. Ambiguity in the relationship is a prescription for confusion and misunderstanding. Any necessary checks, balances or controls must be apparent on the face of a new constitutional scheme.
(d) The two primary purposes of any new institutions must be first to seek a much wider consensus than has hitherto existed; and second to be such as will work efficiently and will be capable of providing the concrete results of good government: peace and order, physical development, social and economic progress. This is fundamental because Northern Ireland's problems flow not just from a clash of national aspirations or from friction between the communities, but also from social and economic conditions such as inadequate housing and unemployment.
(e) Any new institutions must be of a simple and businesslike character, appropriate to the powers and functions of a regional authority.
(f) A Northern Ireland assembly or authority must be capable of involving all its members constructively in ways which satisfy them and those they represent that the whole community has a part to, play in the government of the Province. As a minimum this would involve assuring minority groups of an effective voice and a real influence; but there are strong arguments that the objective of real participation should be achieved by giving minority interests a share in the exercise of executive power if this can be achieved by means which are not unduly complex or artificial, and which do not. represent an obstacle to effective government.
(g) There must be an assurance, built into any new structures, that there will be absolute fairness and equality of opportunity for all. The future administration of Northern Ireland must be seen to be completely even-handed both in law and in fact.
(h) It is of great importance that future arrangements for security and public order in Northern Ireland must command public confidence, both in Northern Ireland itself, and in the United Kingdom as a. whole. If they are to do so they must be seen in practice to be as impartial and effective as possible in restoring and maintaining peace and public order. In any situation such as that which obtains at present, where the Army and the civilian police force are both involved in maintaining law and order and combating terrorism,, it is essential that there should be a single source of direct responsibility. Since Westminster alone can control the Armed Forces of the Crown this unified control must mean Westminster control. For the future any arrangements must ensure that the United Kingdom Government has an effective and a determining voice in relation to any circumstances which involve, or may involve in the future, the commitment of the Armed Forces, the use of emergency powers, or repercussions at international level.
81 The period of one year for which, unless extended, the Northern
Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972, remains in force, comes
to an end on 30 March 1973. While it is possible to extend its
application for a further limited period until more permanent
arrangements are made, there are strong grounds for keeping such
a period to a minimum. The. temporary arrangements for the discharge
of both law-making and executive responsibilities are not suitable
for long-term use. In particular, it would be unsatisfactory to
continue indefinitely making important legislative provision for
Northern Ireland by way of Orders in Council. Moreover, continuing
uncertainty about the future is unsettling to the public service,
and can feed the fears and suspicions of a wider public.
82 As the Government move towards a settlement they will of course
wish to continue to take Northern Ireland opinion fully into account.
The wishes of the people of Northern Ireland on their relationship
to the United Kingdom and to the Republic will be ascertained
by a plebiscite early in the New Year. But it will be essential
for the formulation of new arrangements to hold further and separate
consultations on the issues and options set out in this Paper,
with the object of discovering how far the various strands of
opinion can be brought together into a broad consensus. Such a
process must of its nature be pragmatic and must take a form which
permits those who accept the need for peaceful discussion to take
83 When the process of consultation has been completed, the United
Kingdom Government have the responsibility of putting forward
proposals, and of recommending them to Parliament. They will do
this in the knowledge that there is no definite answer to questions
as difficult and long-standing as these; no panacea which can
transform strife into harmony. Whatever the constitutional arrangements
may be, many difficult practical problems will remain. There is
not least the great need to rid Northern Ireland of the presence
and threat of violence. Both political theory and practical experience
show that no scheme of government, however carefully drawn, can
do more than present an opportunity for progress. It is in the
hearts and minds of the people of Northern Ireland, and not just
in the aims of Government or the words of Acts of Parliament,
that the capacity for working and living together must flourish.
For the ultimate truth is that the people of Northern Ireland
need each other, and that to squander their great talents in bitter
conflict is to diminish the prospects of them all. It is the profound
wish and hope of the United Kingdom Government that this fundamental
truth will be recognised, and will be the basis on which all concerned
will take part in the further consultations for which this Paper
is intended to provide a basis.
(ii) This Parliament was given a general power to make laws for 'the peace, order and good government' of Northern Ireland, subject to certain specific reservations, conditions and safeguards. In particular.--
(b) The fiscal powers of the Northern Ireland Parliament were severely restricted by the reservation to the Parliament of the United Kingdom of power to levy income tax and customs and excise duties.
(c) The Northern Ireland Parliament was specifically prohibited from making laws and the Northern Ireland Government from taking administrative action other than on a basis of religious equality.
(d) Section 75 of the Act provided that:
'the supreme authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall remain unaffected and undiminished over all persons, matters and things in [Northern] Ireland and every part thereof'.
(iv) Northern Ireland was to be represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom by 12 Members for territorial constituencies and one for the Queen's University of Belfast.
(v) Northern Ireland was to make towards 'Imperial liabilities and expenditure, a 'just' contribution having regard to the relative taxable capacities of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole.
'Although at the beginning there are to be two Parliaments and two Governments in Ireland, the Act contemplates and affords every facility for union between North and South, and empowers the two Parliaments by mutual agreement and joint action to terminate partition and to set up one Parliament and one Government for the whole of Ireland. With a view to the eventual establishment of a single Parliament, and to bringing about harmonious action between the two Parliaments and Governments, there is created a bond of union in the meantime by means of a Council of Ireland, which is to consist of 20 representatives elected by each Parliament, and a President nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. It will fall to the members of this body to initiate proposals for united action on the part of the two Parliaments and to bring forward these proposals in the respective Parliaments.'
The Act reserved certain specific but limited matters to the Council, provided that the Belfast and Dublin Parliaments might confer additional functions upon it by identical legislation, and charged it with the specific duty of considering what further matters might, in the general interest of the whole of Ireland, best be administered on a central basis rather than by the two separate administrations.
(ii) the future allocation of public authority housing on a points system implemented on the basis of the model points scheme referred to in the Commission of 29 August 1969;
(iii) new methods of investigating citizens' grievances-implemented by the appointment of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and a Commissioner for Complaints under two new Acts of Parliament which became law on 24 June 1969 and 25 November 1969 respectively; (the statutory limit of the Parliamentary Commissioner being subsequently extended to cover, in addition to the functions discharged by his Westminster counterpart, the investigation of matters of personnel administration; and by arrangement to cover certain matters arising out of the anti-discrimination clause in Northern Ireland Government contracts).
(iv) the abolition of the Business Vote at elections for Stormont, extended in March 1969 to include the substitution of universal adult suffrage for the ratepayers' franchise at local government elections-implemented in the Electoral Law Acts of 1968 and 1969;
(v) a promise to review the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act and Regulations as soon as the situation permitted.
 Disturbances in Northern Ireland (Cmd. 532 of 1969).
The Commission concluded that the general causes of the disorders which began in October 1968 were (paragraph 229(a) ):
(2) Complaints, now well documented in fact, of discrimination in the making of local government appointments, at all levels but especially in senior posts, to the prejudice of non-Unionists and especially Catholic members of the community, in some Unionist controlled authorities.
(3) Complaints, again well documented, in some cases of deliberate manipulation of local government electoral boundaries and in others a refusal to apply for their necessary extension, in order to achieve and maintain Unionist control of local authorities and so to deny to Catholics influence in local government proportionate to their numbers.
(4) A growing and powerful sense of resentment and frustration among the Catholic population at failure to achieve either acceptance on the part of the Government of any need to investigate these complaints or to provide and enforce a remedy for them.
(5) Resentment, particularly among Catholics, as to the existence of the Ulster Special Constabulary (the 'B' Specials) as a partisan and paramilitary force recruited exclusively from Protestants.
(6) Widespread resentment among Catholics in particular at the continuance in force of regulations made under the Special Powers Act, and of the continued presence in the statute book of the Act itself.
(7) Fears and apprehensions among Protestants of a threat to Unionist domination and control of Government by increase of Catholic population and powers, inflamed in particular by the activities of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, provoked strong hostile reaction to civil rights claims as asserted by the Civil Rights Association and later by the People's Democracy which was readily translated into physical violence against Civil Rights demonstrators.
 Cmd. 4154 of 1969. The full text is:
2 The United Kingdom Government again affirm that responsibility for affairs in Northern Ireland is entirely a matter of domestic jurisdiction. The United Kingdom Government will take full responsibility for asserting this principle in all international relationships.
3 The United Kingdom Government have ultimate responsibility for the protection of those who live in Northern Ireland when, as in the past week, a breakdown of law and order has occurred. In this spirit, the United Kingdom Government responded to the requests of the Northern Ireland Government for military assistance in Londonderry and Belfast in order to restore law and order. They emphasise again that troops will be withdrawn when law and order has been restored.
4 The Northern Ireland Government have been informed that troops have been provided on a temporary basis in accordance with the United Kingdom's ultimate responsibility. In the context of the commitment of these troops, the Northern Ireland Government have reaffirmed their intention to take into the fullest account at all times the views of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, especially in relation to matters affecting the status of citizens of that part of the United Kingdom and their equal rights and protection under the law.
5 The United Kingdom Government have welcomed the decisions of the Northern Ireland Government relating to local government franchise, the revision of local government areas, the allocation of houses, the creation of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in Northern Ireland and machinery to consider citizens' grievances against other public authorities which the Prime Minister reported to the House of Commons at Westminster following his meeting with Northern Ireland Ministers on 21 May as demonstrating the determination of the Northern Ireland Government that there shall be full equality of treatment for all citizens. Both Governments have agreed that it is vital that the momentum of internal reform should be maintained.
6 The two Governments at their meeting at 10 Downing Street today have reaffirmed that in all legislation and executive decisions of Government every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom, irrespective of political views or religion. In their further meetings the two Governments will be guided by these mutually accepted principles.
7 Finally, both Governments are determined to take all possible steps to restore normality to the Northern Ireland community so that economic development can proceed at the faster rate which is vital for social stability.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.
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