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The Future of Northern Ireland:
A Paper for Discussion (Green Paper; 1972)

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The Future of Northern Ireland
A Paper for Discussion

Northern Ireland Office

Published in London by,

SBN 11 700498 7

PART I: Historical Background
PART II: Proposals and Possibilities
Proposals by Political Parties in Northern Ireland
Other Proposals
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
The Executive
Local Government
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
1The Government of Ireland Act, 1920: the original scheme of government
2Developments in North-South Relations
3The Reform Programme, 1968-72
4'Towards the Future' - Ulster Unionist Party [see separate document]
5Views of the Alliance Party
6Views of the Northern Ireland Labour Party
7'Towards a New Ireland' - Social Democratic and Labour Party [see separate document]
8Views 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.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

October, 1972.


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 stillborn.

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 necessary.

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.[1]

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 Ireland.

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[2] as follows:

    'Neither the IRA nor any Protestant organisation nor anybody else planned a campaign of riots. They were communal disturbances arising from a complex political, social and economic situation. More often than not they arose from slight beginnings: but the communal tensions were such that, once begun, they could not be controlled'. (Paragraph 24).
Even with the commitment of members of the Ulster Special Constabulary in conditions for which their training had in no adequate way prepared them, the 'law and order' resources of the Government of Northern Ireland were stretched to breaking point. First in Londonderry, and then in Belfast, requests were made and granted for the deployment of the Army in aid of the civil power. This turn of events inevitably had profound effects upon the conventional relationship which had hitherto existed between the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom and the authorities iii Northern Ireland. The practice that Parliament did not discuss, except in the most general way, matters within the 'transferred' responsibility of Northern Ireland Ministers was discarded by general consent. The United Kingdom Government, widely supported in this respect by Members of all parties, concluded that a much deeper involvement in the domestic affairs of Northern Ireland was now inescapable.

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[3], 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;[4] 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.


Proposals by Political Parties in Northern Ireland

  1. It is appropriate to begin a review of the possibilities of future political development in Northern Ireland with a brief analysis of the proposals made by Northern Ireland political parties and interests, some of which were discussed at the Darlington Conference. Paragraphs 27-31 (Paragraph 27, Paragraph 28, Paragraph 29, Paragraph 30, Paragraph 31) accordingly provide a brief summary of the proposals of political parties; but since any process of compression may involve the omission of points considered important by those who put them forward, the published views of the various parties are, with their permission, reproduced in full in Annexes 4 to 9 (Annex 4,Annex 5,Annex 6, Annex 7,Annex 8,Annex 9). Paragraphs 33 to 35 (Paragraph 33, Paragraph 34, Paragraph 35)concern the proposals of other organisations and of individual members of the public. This section concludes with a brief reference, in paragraph 36, to the views of United Kingdom political parties.

  2. Proposals of the Ulster Unionist Party (32 Members in the Northern Ireland House of Commons before prorogation: Leader, Mr sBrian Faulkner).

      (i) A unicameral Northern Ireland Parliament of 100 Members elected by simple majority vote; five Parliamentary Committees, each covering the activities of a department, plus a Public Accounts Committee. Membership of Committees to reflect the strength of parties in Parliament and at least three to be chaired by Opposition Members.

      (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.

  3. Proposals of the Alliance Party (Three Members in the Northern Ireland House of Commons before prorogation. Leader, Mr Phelim ,O'Neill.)

      (i) A unicameral Northern Ireland Assembly elected by the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of proportional representation at maximum intervals of four years, and divided into Committees according to the main functions. Chairmen of Committees to be elected by the Assembly by proportional representation.

      (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.

  4. Proposals of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (One Member in the Northern Ireland House of Commons before prorogation, Mr F. V. Simpson).

      (i) A unicameral Northern Ireland Assembly of 100 Members, elected by proportional representation at maximum intervals of four years, with dissolution also possible by simple majority vote. A system of Departmental Committees of the Assembly elected on a proportionate basis.

      (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.

  5. Proposals of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (The Social Democratic and Labour Party's publication 'Towards a New Ireland' is reproduced with their permission in full in Annex 7: it was not submitted to the Darlington conference) (Six Members in the Northern Ireland House of Commons before prorogation Leader, Mr. Gerard Fitt).

      (i) An immediate declaration by the United Kingdom that it would be in the best interest of all sections of the communities in both islands (i.e. Great Britain and Ireland) if Ireland were to become united on terms which would be acceptable to all the people of Ireland, and that the United Kingdom will positively encourage such a development.

      (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.

  6. Proposals have also been sent to the Secretary of State by the Ulster Liberal Party, which was not represented in the Northern Ireland House of Commons at the time of prorogation. The main features are as follows:

      (i)A unicameral Northern Ireland Assembly of 75 Members elected by the STV system of proportional representation, with a system of Departmental Committees.

      (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.

  7. To complete this account of the views of the Northern Ireland political parties, mention must be made of the general position of those parties which were not represented at the Darlington Conference and which have not sent to the Secretary of State any detailed, formal proposals for the future:

      (a) the Nationalist Party (four Members at Stormont before prorogation) and

      (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).

Other Proposals

  1. There are in addition to the political parties in Northern Ireland, other organisations, both inside and outside the Province, which have from time to time expressed views about the future, and accounts have been taken of these views in the analyses in paragraphs 37-64 (Paragraph 37, Paragraph 38, Paragraph 39, Paragraph 40, Paragraph 41, Paragraph 42, Paragraph 43, Paragraph 44, Paragraph 45, Paragraph 46, Paragraph 47, Paragraph 48, Paragraph 49, Paragraph 50, Paragraph 51, Paragraph 52, Paragraph 53, Paragraph 54, Paragraph 55, Paragraph 56, Paragraph 57, Paragraph 58, Paragraph 59, Paragraph 60, Paragraph 61, Paragraph 62, Paragraph 63, Paragraph 64) .

  2. Some of these organisations have sent specific proposals to the Secretary of State. The New Ulster Movement advocates :

      (i) A unicameral Northern Ireland Assembly elected by the STV system of proportional representation, with six or seven Members returned for each of the 12 Westminster constituencies, giving a total of 72-84. A committee system.

      (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.

  3. Nor have the suggestions for the future government of Northern Ireland come only from Northern Ireland parties and organisations. Following an appeal to the people of Northern Ireland by the Secretary of State that they should write to him putting forward their own views, some 2,500 (of which 200 were anonymous) have been sent to him by individual citizens. The views expressed in those letters are taken into account in the analyses in paragraphs 37-64 (Paragraph 37, Paragraph 38, Paragraph 39, Paragraph 40, Paragraph 41, Paragraph 42, Paragraph 43, Paragraph 44, Paragraph 45, Paragraph 46, Paragraph 47, Paragraph 48, Paragraph 49, Paragraph 50, Paragraph 51, Paragraph 52, Paragraph 53, Paragraph 54, Paragraph 55, Paragraph 56, Paragraph 57, Paragraph 58, Paragraph 59, Paragraph 60, Paragraph 61, Paragraph 62, Paragraph 63, Paragraph 64 )

  4. Views have of course also been expressed by parties and interests outside Northern Ireland. The attitude of the Government has been consistently to seek by inter-party discussion the widest possible measure of agreement as to how Northern Ireland should in future be governed and how in particular the minority as well as the majority may be assured of an active, permanent and guaranteed role in its life and public affairs. The Labour Party have made their own specific proposals for consideration in that context, based on the 15-point plan put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in his House of Commons speech on 25 November 1971 (House of Commons Official Report Vol. 826, No. 18. Columns 1571-1593). Mr. Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party has endorsed the views of the Ulster Liberal Party (which are summarised in paragraph 31, and set out in full in Annex 8).

The Theoretical Possibilities

  1. At this stage it is possible to set out the range of possibilities theoretically open before firm decisions on detailed policy are taken. In setting this out account is taken not only of the great volume of specific proposals already published but of parliamentary and constitutional development in other countries, where this appears to be even potentially useful or illuminating.

  2. The following paragraphs accordingly set out the major components from which the detailed form of an ultimate settlement will have to be constructed. Paragraphs 39-42 (Paragraph 39, Paragraph 40, Paragraph 41, Paragraph 42) relate to questions of sovereignty and citizenship, paragraphs 43-45 (Paragraph 43, Paragraph 44, Paragraph 45) to possible forms of Government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, paragraphs 46-49 (Paragraph 46, Paragraph 47, Paragraph 48, Paragraph 49) to the division of power between United Kingdom and Northern Ireland institutions; and paragraph 50 to the supervision of the exercise of powers by Northern Ireland institutions. Paragraphs 51-63 (Paragraph 51, Paragraph 52, Paragraph 53, Paragraph 54, Paragraph 55, Paragraph 56, Paragraph 57, Paragraph 58, Paragraph 59, Paragraph 60, Paragraph 61, Paragraph 62, Paragraph 63) deal with details of possible Northern Ireland institutions. The proposals for a Bill of Rights are dealt with in

    Sovereignty and Citizenship

    1. First there are issues of sovereignty and citizenship concerned with Northern Ireland's status as part of the United Kingdom and its relationship with the rest of Ireland. United Kingdom policy on this matter is governed by the solemn and binding pledges given by successive governments since the decision of what is now the Irish Republic to sever its connections with the Crown and Commonwealth. The pledge was originally expressed by Mr. Attlee as Prime Minister on 28 October 1948 in the words:

      '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'.

    2. It has been argued that consideration might be given to a partial or incomplete transfer of sovereignty either in geographical terms (ie by transferring to the Irish Republic those parts of Northern Ireland where a majority in favour of such a transfer exists) or in jurisdictional terms (eg, by adopting a pattern of joint sovereign responsibility for Northern Ireland as recommended by the Social Democratic and Labour Party or by a scheme of condominium for which there are such precedents as the New Hebrides and Andorra). However neither of these courses if adopted without consent, would be compatible with the express wording of Section 1(2) of the Ireland Act, 1949. Moreover the exponents of a united Ireland all demand a unity of the whole island and show no sign of settling for less: they might well regard the establishment of a predominantly Protestant state as an obstacle to unity.

    3. In announcing Direct Rule the Prime Minister stated that in the future periodic plebiscites would be held to allow the people of Northern Ireland to declare their views on the Border issue. Within the context of this general decision, specific decisions will have to be made as to how frequent the plebiscites are to be; what should be asked; and what procedures are to be followed in the event of a majority vote at a future plebiscite in favour of constitutional change.

    4. Such then is the present position. The United Kingdom Government is bound both by statute and by clear and repeated pledges to the people of Northern Ireland. It is only in this context that the following selection of theoretically possible courses of action, not all of which are mutually exclusive, can be examined:

        (a) Simply to affirm that Northern Ireland is part of the sovereign territory of the United Kingdom and will remain so: and not even to admit the possibility of change at any time. This course is not without its advocates, who argue that Northern Ireland cannot achieve stability as long as its constitutional future appears to be open-ended; but it is difficult to sustain the argument that Northern Ireland is to remain part of the United Kingdom while that is the wish of a majority, if it must also so remain even if a majority wish otherwise.

        (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.

    Form of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom

    1. It is noteworthy that even amongst those who advocate the earliest possible achievement of Irish unity there is a wide measure of agreement that this could not come about for some considerable time. If a plebiscite or other means of determining the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland shows that they wish to remain within the United Kingdom then the question does not arise unless and until a further expression of view shows a different result; but if a desire for unity were to be made manifest at the first plebiscite there is a general recognition that a lengthy process of discussion and negotiation would inevitably follow. Therefore whatever assumption is made about the longer term the immediate question to be determined is how Northern Ireland should be governed so Ion. as it remains a part of the United Kingdom.

    2. Insistence upon Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom, involves accepting unequivocally the ultimate sovereign authority, in all circumstances, of the United Kingdom Parliament over Northern Ireland as over all other parts of the country. The question then posed is, what law-making and executive powers (if any) should be devolved upon specifically Northern Ireland institutions?

        (a) 'Total integration'

        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.

    3. With the exception of course (a), each of the solutions discussed in paragraph 44 has certain elements of 'integration' (reservation of power to the United Kingdom Parliament and Government) and certain elements of 'devolution' (grant of power to Northern Ireland institutions)-but the balance between reservation and devolution of power differs from one model to another.

    Division of powers between United Kingdom and Northern Ireland institutions

    1. The division of powers is clearly bound up with the view taken on the question of forms of government (paragraphs 44 and 45), but it also involves the separate consideration both of the extent of powers (which functions should be allocated to Northern Ireland institutions?) and the degree of supervision of them by Westminster (how genuinely autonomous ought the exercise of the devolved powers to be?).

    Extent of powers

    1. There are a number of different aspects from which this problem has been considered by interests in Northern Ireland:

        (a) There is first, what may be described as the 'argument from Macrory', which proceeds from the contention that the entire scheme of reorganisation of local government recommended by the Macrory Report assumed the existence of Stormont as a top-tier authority in relation to services transferred from local government, and that therefore any new institutions should as a minimum have power to deal with those services as Stormont would have done.

        (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.

    2. Much the most difficult decisions relate to the issues of finance and of what might be called divisive powers: part I of this Paper has sought to illustrate how, in practice, the operation of certain powers in Northern Ireland proved controversial and divisive. The matters involved included electoral law and boundaries, the courts and the general administration of justice, security and public order, emergency powers and the police. This cannot be an exhaustive list, for in a divided and tense society almost any matter can be made an occasion of conflict, but it does include those matters which have occasioned much bitterness. Strong arguments have accordingly been advanced either that all or most of these powers should be excluded from the responsibilities of any new institutions in Northern Ireland, or that at the least their exercise should be subject to the most stringent controls and safeguards against any possible abuse. It is argued that, if any new constitution for Northern Ireland permits majority government, the majority may use such powers oppressively or discriminatorily; and that if, on the other hand, a new constitution seeks. to promote broadly-based government, the exercise of the divisive powers would submit such a government to intolerable strains. On the other hand, there are those who argue, in relation to the 'law and order' powers in particular, that these are fundamental to the operation of anything which can be characterised as a government; or, that the more real and pressing problems are, the more important it is to force representatives of the community concerned to face up to them. It is not the purpose of this Paper to strike a balance now between these conflicting arguments; but in considering questions of security, the overall responsibility of the central government for the defence of the realm and the operation of the armed forces must be taken fully into account.

    3. Finally, there is the question of finance. Here there is a strong theoretical argument that any Northern Ireland institutions with appreciable functions will not be capable of developing real political responsibility, imagination and courage unless they also have to provide the resources for carrying them out. But the hard logic of the situation must be faced. To meet this requirement it would be necessary either to supplement Northern Ireland's own resources with large unconditional grants (and it may be questioned whether any United Kingdom Parliament could or would provide additional assistance on a massive scale automatically and without conditions), or to reduce Northern Ireland's expenditure to relate it to the area's true means involving radical reduction in all public expenditure and a failure to maintain parity of standards with the rest of the United Kingdom. As an alternative to either of these radical courses, it would be possible to continue to provide assistance to Northern Ireland for the financing of agreed programmes and to explore the scope for giving the Northern Ireland institutions the power to make their own decisions within defined financial limits.

    Supervision of powers

    1. It should be appreciated that the devolution of powers to subordinate institutions does not leave these institutions completely free to exercise such powers as they wish. Under the Act of 1920 as it stands, the sovereign authority of the Westminster Parliament is expressly saved by Section 75, the courts may review the validity of Acts of the Northern Ireland Parliament, and certain constitutional questions may be referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Under his Instructions the Governor may reserve the Royal Assent to a Northern Ireland Bill, and there was one such case, although the Bill in question was eventually allowed to become law. There are other possible patterns of supervision. Any Acts passed by the legislatures of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are subject to the approval of Her Majesty in Council and the Crown acts through the Privy Council on the recommendation of United Kingdom Ministers. This might be described as 'governmental supervision'. Another theoretical device would be 'parliamentary supervision' by which the legislation of a Northern Ireland Parliament or Assembly (or defined categories thereof, possibly within the fields described earlier as 'divisive') would either require an affirmative resolution at Westminster to be given the force of law, or could be 'prayed against' within a prescribed time. (These parliamentary sanctions at present exist in relation to Northern Ireland legislation during the currency of the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act by way of Orders in Council.) Other theoretical possibilities indicate supervision by some form of joint United Kingdom/Northern Ireland Parliamentary Commission, or by a 'Council of State' of Northern Ireland notables appointed by the Crown or United Kingdom Government.

    Northern Ireland Institutions

    1. The complex question of the form, structure, composition and functioning of a Northern Ireland Parliament or Assembly and executive is again inter-related with the questions already discussed. Separate analysis is, however, required of four distinct but related questions-the form, etc., of any representative assembly in Northern Ireland; the form, etc., of the executive in Northern Ireland; the form of local government in Northern Ireland and its relationship to the Assembly and the Executive; and the implications of these three questions for the relationship between the Assembly and the Executive on the one hand, and Westminster on the other.

    2. A Representative Assembly: Form of Assembly. It will be seen from the submissions of some of the parties that there is a view that any new legislature should not be called a Parliament. It is argued that the title and the adoption of elaborate Westminster procedures have not only been out of proportion to the real functions independently performed and to the size of population covered by them, so that these arrangements have led to what may be described as 'over-government', but also have promoted a false view of 'Stormont sovereignty' which has been positively harmful. Amongst those who hold this view there is strong support for the title of 'Assembly'. The Ulster Unionist Party does not share this view, and its proposals call for the continuation of a Northern Ireland Parliament. They share with others, however, the opinion that there should henceforth be a single chamber legislature, with membership of the order of 72-100. There appears to be comparatively little support for a second chamber in a new structure although, in considering the range of theoretical options, it should be appreciated that the second chamber is used in a number of jurisdictions to give particular interests a weight they would not achieve through a popular-elected chamber based on universal suffrage, and/or to allow measures to be blocked by the second chamber so weighted. A second chamber is also frequently used to introduce into parliamentary life the representatives of certain broad 'interests' (as, indeed, is the case in the Senate of the Republic of Ireland). It would also be possible, though some would object in principle to the dilution of the popular mandate, to nominate to a single chamber Assembly (or to its Committees) representatives of important interests or of communities under-represented following an election.

    3. The nature of an Assembly may also be influenced by the basis and method of elections to it; and it is apparent from the submissions of the political parties that there is a good deal of support for the use in Northern Ireland of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of proportional representation (although the Ulster Unionist Party, in recommending a chamber of some 100 members, notes that this increase 'would reduce the need for proportional representation since there would be fewer wasted majorities'). Another theoretical possibility is the use of separate or multiple voting rolls. This mechanism assures a minority community of adequate representation, but it does so at considerable risk of entrenching divisions and encouraging polarisation.

    4. As to the method of working of an Assembly, again there is considerable agreement amongst the Northern Ireland political parties that there should be a highly-developed system of functional Committees, and some have advocated that the chairmanships of such Committees should be shared amongst the parties, rather than concentrated in majority hands. While the post of chairman is obviously one of real influence and importance, and the more so if Committees have really significant executive as distinct from advisory or consultative responsibilities, the establishment of a committee system does not of itself assure the participation of minorities in the exercise of power. It is the normal practice, both in parliamentary and local government, that Committees should constitute a microcosm of the whole body, with the majority of the whole constituting also a majority of each Committee. Thus, the application to Northern Ireland of a system of committee government would make the application of executive power less concentrated, but in the last resort matters put to a vote would be carried by the elected majority. This would be true whether the Committees served as a check on the executive (as the Ulster Unionist Party proposes) or themselves constituted the executive (as proposed by other parties).

    1. There are various forms of blocking mechanism inside or outside an Assembly, some of which (such as a Council of State or a degree of supervision by the Sovereign Parliament or Government) have already been mentioned. There are also a number of overseas precedents. Thus, in Belgium, with its problem of linguistic divisions, three-quarters of either language group in Parliament can cause any draft legislation to be referred back to the Council of Ministers if it is considered harmful to intercommunal relations. In Switzerland, any law passed by the Federal Assembly may be made the subject of a national referendum if 30,000 eligible voters so request within 90 days.

    2. The Executive. Here the crucial question is whether, in addition to any heightening of their influence, it is desirable and possible to secure the participation of the Northern Ireland minority in the actual exercise of executive powers. On the one hand, it can be argued that in Northern Ireland, as in many other democracies, those who represent a majority in the legislature should have the right to form the government; that any form of coalition tends to provide weak and indecisive government, and all the more so if it comes about artificially, rather than by the voluntary collaboration of parties with real mutual interest; that the underlying problem of Northern Ireland can only be solved by the slow and steady evolution of new party structures rooted in both communities: and that, bearing in mind the real practical problems which must be solved in Northern Ireland, it would be dangerous to make complex arrangements which can be manipulated to produce deadlock and frustration.

    3. On the other hand, it can be argued that the British democratic system only works where a regular alternation of parties is possible; that the real test of a democratic system is its ability to provide peaceful and orderly Government, and that by that standard the existing system has failed in Northern Ireland; that other countries with divided communities have made special constitutional provision to ensure participation by all; that a number of these countries have had stable and successful coalition governments over many years; and that there is no hope of binding the minority to the support of new political arrangements in Northern Ireland unless they are admitted to active participation in any new structures.

    4. If the need for actual participation is accepted, there are a number of ways in which it might in practice be achieved. Reference has already been made to the proposal that executive powers in Northern Ireland should be exercised through a structure of Committees, and of the difficulty that, while this would increase the active part played by minority interests, it would not in the last resort prevent decisions being taken on a majority vote, if in the event decisions developed along party lines. If, on the other hand, Northern Ireland were to continue to have Cabinet Government, other considerations would apply. In other jurisdictions, a broad basis of government is sometimes achieved by convention and sometimes by formal constitutional provision.

    5. Apart from what may be described as 'committee government', which has already been discussed, there are at least four theoretical means of securing a broadly-based administration in Northern Ireland.

        (a) 'Entrenched government', whereby certain minority elements must by constitutional requirement be included in a government. This course could present very difficult problems of definition, and impede the development of non-sectarian party structures.

        (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.

    6. It must be recognised that there is, in the use of any of these devices, an inherent danger that any major political element could choose, for its own purposes, to bring the system to a standstill. Any such system would therefore have to be under-pinned by clear, swift and efficient procedures for the resolution of disputes and the exercise of reserve powers: and such procedures carry the dangerous dilemma that if the political groupings are deadlocked, the holder of reserve powers must either override them or allow the deadlock to persist.

    7. Local Government. In the context of any system of administration in Northern Ireland, account must clearly be taken of the 'Macrory' reorganisation of local services. The restructuring of local government in Northern Ireland, as in many other cases, proved a difficult and time consuming affair: there were a number of false starts before the Macrory review body completed its report (Report of the Review Body on Local Government in Northern Ireland 1970-Cmnd. 546 of 1970) in 1970. This scheme of local Government adopted on the basis of this report was to reduce the existing, basically two-tier structure of local government to a single-tier system of 26 elected district councils exercising local environmental powers: while large scale regional services were to be transferred to the central government, to be managed either directly (eg water, sewerage, roads, electoral arrangements) or through Area Boards (personal social services, education and libraries). Plans had already been made to transfer housing administration to a statutory body, the Housing Executive. When the Northern Ireland Parliament was prorogued some of the measures necessary to carry these reforms into effect had already been enacted, some were in the process of passing through that Parliament, and others had still to be introduced. Planning for the detailed implementation of the new structure was far advanced and the uncertainty about local government could not be allowed to persist for much length without serious risk to its future viability. In these circumstances, the United Kingdom Government decided that the reorganisation programme should continue, and be carried through to completion, under the temporary powers granted by Parliament. While it would be theoretically possible, after the reorganisation takes full effect next year, to 'unscramble' it again, there are extremely strong arguments against doing so, if the efficiency of the public services and the morale of those 60,000 people involved in the operation of them are not to be impaired. It was an inherent part of the 'Macrory' structure that the Northern Ireland Parliament would constitute a top-tier authority of democratic scrutiny and control of services to be managed henceforth on a Province-wide basis; and there is a need for a central body capable of carrying out that particular function.

    8. Representation of Northern Ireland interests in the United Kingdom Parliament and Government. Consideration of the number of Members sent by Northern Ireland to the Parliament at Westminster would rest on a number of factors including the extent of powers devolved upon Northern Ireland; the basis of election to Westminster (whether the same as for the rest of the United Kingdom, or the same as at other Northern Ireland elections even if these are conducted on a different basis); and the nature and extent of Westminster involvement in matters covered by devolved powers. Taking into account the nature of any institutions proposed for Northern Ireland and of the powers to be given to them, arrangements will also have to be made to ensure the continuing effective representation of Northern Ireland interest within the United Kingdom Government. Moreover, the United Kingdom Government will clearly have a major continuing interest in Northern Ireland which must be recognised by suitable machinery of government in Belfast.

    Bill of Rights

    1. Finally there is a wide body of opinion that a Bill of Rights should be enacted in Northern Ireland. There is much to commend this suggestion but in devising any Bill of Rights certain fundamental problems must first be faced, such as what rights are to be enshrined; whether they should be protected through the Courts or by a body specially set up for that purpose; how to secure practical, effective and speedy means of redress and compensation; and how to deal with those who consistently and deliberately infringe the rights of others. What is essential is that any provisions which might be incorporated in legislation should have a practical and not just a declaratory effect.


    Some Basic Facts

    1. Part I has dealt with the development of the present situation, and Part II with the proposals and possibilities available to those who must determine the way forward. This part of the Paper, while not setting out to pre-judge the ultimate form of a settlement, places on record some unalterable facts about the situation, and some vital conditions which must be met.

    2. The financing of services in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland contains 35 per cent of the population of the whole of Ireland, and 2.5 per cent of the population of the British Isles. Average earnings per head in April 1971 were only 85 per cent of the average in Great Britain, and unemployment percentages have also consistently been higher than in Great Britain.

    3. Such a community has required, and has received in common with other less prosperous areas substantial material support from the United Kingdom as a whole. This has taken many different forms: details of the financial arrangements are given in the White Paper Northern Ireland: Financial Arrangements and Legislation (Cmnd. 4998), in paragraph 15 of which it is demonstrated that special payments and subsidies amounted to some £125 million in 1972, while loan advances to the Northern Ireland Government amounted to £65 million, and both sums were expected to increase. The combined total of special payments, subsidies, and loan advances from the National Loans Fund, is estimated to amount to around £300 million in the current year, of which loan advances represent an amount of the order of £100 million. In addition, industries vital to Northern Ireland, particularly shipbuilding and aircraft, have been given financial support by Westminster. It must, of course, be remembered that the people of Northern Ireland bear tax obligations virtually identical with those borne by their fellow-citizens in Great Britain, and have made their own distinctive contributions in peace and in war to the progress, life and survival of the whole nation.

    4. The Armed Forces. More recently, the assistance has gone far beyond the provision of financial and economic aid. Since August 1969, when it became apparent that the existing forces of law and order were unable (for whatever reasons) to control a deteriorating security situation, an increasing military commitment became inevitable. On the eve of the disorders in August 1969 the strength of the Army in Northern Ireland stood at some 3,000 men; on 12 July 1970, at 13,000; on the day of internment, 9 August 1971, at some 14,000; and on the day of Operation Motorman on 31 July 1972, at about 21,000 men. This very large ,-,increase is indicative of the determination of successive United Kingdom Governments to provide the security forces with sufficient strength to deal with violence and the threat of violence from whatever quarter, despite the penalties which this carries in terms of cost and the stretching of the Army's resources (to the extent that it has been necessary on occasions to deploy temporarily in Northern Ireland units which form part of the United Kingdom's NATO commitment): and the cost is not confined to penalties of this kind-by 1 October 1972, Regular Army casualties in Northern Ireland stood at 132 dead and 880 wounded.

    5. It may be argued by some people in Northern Ireland that the situation could, and should, have been dealt with by security forces responsible to the Northern Ireland Government. It should be remembered in this context that the commitment of the Army in aid of the civil power came about only at the request of the Northern Ireland Government and after the civil power in Northern Ireland had failed to contain the situation by use of the regular and reserve forces available to it. It must also be emphasised that this commitment preceded the Hunt Report and the subsequent reorganisation of the police. Nor could the situation as it has since developed have been met other than by the raising of a local full-time military force, which is outside the constitutional competence of the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland.

    6. As in the financial and economic fields, so in the security field the support accorded to Northern Ireland is what its inhabitants (many of whom have themselves served with distinction in the Armed Forces) have a right to expect as citizens of the United Kingdom; but its extent is not always adequately appreciated.

    7. Moreover, it is quite apparent that, once peace and stability in Northern Ireland have been restored, its rehabilitation and the restoration of its full potential for social and economic growth will involve an investment of national economic resources on a very substantial scale. The mere task of replacing and compensation for what has been damaged or destroyed will be enormous, but beyond this lies the still more demanding work of recreating confidence and the capacity to attract new investment at the high rate required. These tasks will demand an effort not just by Northern Ireland but by the United Kingdom as a whole.

    8. The interdependence of Northern Ireland. Any proposed political settlement which considered Northern Ireland in isolation would be unrealistic. In a world of growing inter-dependence, where even the aspirations of major sovereign powers can only be fully met by their participation in wider associations and communities, a small area such as Northern Ireland cannot, without the gravest consequences for its own citizens, make its way alone. Even if it were feasible for Northern Ireland so to reduce its expenditures as to be able to live within its own real means - and such a reduction would greatly lower the standards of life and of services enjoyed by the whole community - it would remain dependent upon external investment and external trade, and upon its standing and credit-worthiness in the European and the wider international communities.

    9. Northern Ireland cannot expect a form of independence which would guarantee substantial continuing financial, economic and military aid from the United Kingdom but which would otherwise confer upon it virtually sovereign status. No United Kingdom Government could be a party to such a settlement. It may be argued by some that if Northern Ireland was prepared to accept a drastic fall in the standards of living and services it could in that sense be viable though at a very high cost to all its people; but that is too limited a view. Such a form of government could not be viable in a much more fundamental sense, that of being a state commanding the loyalty of the overwhelming majority of its own citizens and the acceptance and respect of the international community.

    The United Kingdom Interest

    1. Division and disorder in Northern Ireland are liabilities both to that Province and to the United Kingdom as a whole; and in seeking to restore order and resume progress there the United Kingdom Government are serving both the national interest and the true interest of all the people of Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom Government has three major concerns in Northern Ireland. First, that it should be internally at peace - a divided and strife-ridden Province is bound to disturb and weaken the whole Kingdom. Second, that it should prosper, so as to contribute to and not detract from the prosperity of the whole. Third, that Northern Ireland should not offer a base for any external threat to the security of the United Kingdom. In pursuing these objectives, the Government will wish to consider at all times the views and interests in Northern Ireland and to take them as fully as possible into account. So long as Northern Ireland remains part of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom Parliament must be the sovereign authority over all persons, matters and things in Northern Ireland, and the ultimate acceptance of that authority must be a necessary condition of the financial, economic and military assistance from which Northern Ireland benefits as a part of the United Kin-dom. While such assistance continues, or may be required in the future, no Government could recommend a settlement to Parliament which did not give the Government an effective voice in the use to which it is put.

    2. A recognition of the right of self-determination of the people of Northern Ireland does not exclude the legitimate interest of other parties. To say that it would be wrong to terminate the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom against the wishes a majority in Northern Ireland is not to say that it is for Northern Ireland alone to determine how it shall be governed as a part of the United Kingdom, since its association with Great Britain involves rights and obligations on both sides; it is to say that insistence upon membership of the United Kingdom carries with it the obligations of membership including acceptance of the sovereignty of Parliament as representing the people as a whole.

    The Irish Dimension

    1. A settlement must also recognise Northern Ireland's position within Ireland as a whole. The guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland that the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom will not be changed without their consent is an absolute: this pledge cannot and will not be set aside. Nevertheless it is a fact that Northern Ireland is part of the geographical entity of Ireland; that it shares with the Republic of Ireland common problems, such as the under-development of western areas; and that, in the context of membership of the European Communities, Northern Ireland and the Republic will have certain common difficulties and opportunities which will differ in some respects from those which will face Great Britain. It is also a fact that an element of the minority in Northern Ireland has hitherto seen itself as simply a part of the wider Irish community. The problem of accommodating that minority within the political structures of Northern Ireland has to some considerable extent been an aspect of a wider problem within Ireland as a whole. Even if the minority had themselves been more disposed, and more encouraged than they were, to accept the settlement of 1920, they would still have been subject to those powerful influences which regard the unification of Ireland as unfinished business', declined to accept the institutions of Northern Ireland as legitimate, and were made manifest in the Irish Constitution of 1937. As long as such influences continue to exist they are bound to be a powerful factor to be taken into account in the search for stability in Northern Ireland. Moreover the problem of political terrorism, which has reached such proportions in Northern Ireland today, has always had manifestations throughout the island (although, of course, the great majority of those who wish to see the unification of Ireland do not advocate or approve of the use of violence to achieve it).

    2. No United Kingdom Government for many years has had any wish to impede the realisation of Irish unity, if it were to come about by genuine and freely given mutual agreement and on conditions acceptable to the distinctive communities. Indeed the Act of 1920 itself, which has for so many years been the foundation of Northern Ireland's constitutional status, explicitly provided means to move towards ultimate unity on just such a basis; but the will to work this was never present. It is a matter of historical fact that this failure stemmed from decisions and actions taken not only in Great Britain and Northern Ireland but in the Republic of Ireland also.

    3. Whatever arrangements are made for the future administration of Northern Ireland must take account of the Province's relationship with the Republic of Ireland: and to the extent that this is done, there is an obligation upon the Republic to reciprocate. Both the economy and the security of the two areas are to some considerable extent inter-dependent, and the same is true of both in their relationship with Great Britain. It is therefore clearly desirable that any new arrangements for Northern Ireland should, whilst meeting the wishes of Northern Ireland and Great Britain, be so far as possible acceptable to and accepted by the Republic of Ireland which from 1 January 1973, will share the rights and obligations of membership of the European Communities. It remains the view of the United Kingdom Government that it is for the people of Northern Ireland to decide what should be their relationship to the United Kingdom and to the Republic of Ireland: and that it should not be impossible to devise measures which will meet the best interests of all three. Such measures would seek to secure the acceptance, in both Northern Ireland and in the Republic, of the present status of Northern Ireland, and of the possibility which would have to be compatible with the principle of consent-of subsequent change in that status; to make possible effective consultation and co-operation in Ireland for the benefit of North and South alike; and to provide a firm basis for concerted governmental and community action against those terrorist organisations which represent a threat to free democratic institutions in Ireland as a whole.



    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:-

      (a) In accordance with the specific pledges given by successive United Kingdom Governments, Northern Ireland must and will remain part of the United Kingdom for as long as that is the wish of a majority of the people; but that status does not preclude the necessary taking into account of what has been described in this Paper as the 'Irish Dimension'.

      (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.

    80 The objective now must be to advance as rapidly as possible towards the preparation of a comprehensive new scheme for the government of' Northern Ireland which will satisfy these fundamental conditions.

    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 part.

    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.



    1. The main points of the Act of 1920 as it came into force in Northern Ireland were as follows:-

        (i) It provided for the establishment in Belfast of a bicameral Parliament, consisting of a 52 member House of Commons elected by Proportional Representation, and a Senate of 26 Members, 24 elected by the Members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons and two (the Lord Mayor of Belfast and Mayor of Londonderry) sitting ex officio.

        (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.--

          (a) The Act specifically reserved to the Parliament of the United Kingdom certain powers principally relating to the Armed Forces, the Crown, and international matters.

          (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'.

        (iii) The Governor of Northern Ireland, in whom the executive powers of the Northern Ireland Parliament were vested, was 'aided and advised' by the executive committee of the Privy Council, or Cabinet consisting of Ministers of Northern Ireland.

        (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.

    2. The Act also made provision for a Council of Ireland, whose purpose was defined in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Government of Ireland Bill in the following terms:-

      '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.


    1. As noted in Annex 1, the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 included provisions to establish a Council of Ireland as a means to facilitate unity between the Parliaments and Governments to be set up with equal powers and status, both within the United Kingdom.

    2. The Act came into force in May 1921, but the Parliament of Southern Ireland never effectively met, because of the massive swing of public opinion in the South behind the much more radical separatist aims of Sinn Fein. As a result, the Southern membership of the Council of Ireland was never elected.

    3. The 'truce' of July 1921 was followed by further discussions between British representatives and the representatives of Sinn Fein, leading eventually to the conclusion of the treaty which received parliamentary confirmation in the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act 1922. This agreement granted dominion status to the whole of Ireland, but allowed to Northern Ireland the option (which was swiftly exercised) of remaining outside the new Irish State and retaining the system of government established by the Act of 1920, including the provisions relating to the Council of Ireland, slightly amended to take account of the constitutional changes in the South. However, although the Parliament of Northern Ireland appointed its representatives to the Council as early as June 1921, the new Parliament or Oireachtas of the Irish Free State never reciprocated. Thus the Council did not function, and the matters specifically reserved to it by the Act of 1920 were for a time exercised in Belfast by a United Kingdom official known as the Imperial Secretary.

    4. The treaty had also provided for a Boundary Commission to consider adjustment of the border between North and South, taking account as far as possible of the wishes of the inhabitants; and the parties to the agreement appear to have had somewhat different impressions of the likely outcome, with the Irish representatives apparently anticipating, or at least hoping for, a substantial contraction of the area and population of Northern Ireland. The establishment of the Commission was attended by various difficulties, but eventually it carried out its work and completed its award under the Chairmanship of the South African judge, Mr Justice Feetham. The nature of the award (which transferred to the Irish Free State some comparatively limited areas of Northern Ireland, but which also transferred to Northern Ireland less extensive areas of the Free State) was a grave disappointment to the Dublin Government and in the event it was agreed between the British, Northern Irish and Irish Free State Governments that the Report should not be published, but that the existing boundary should be re-affirmed. This agreement (endorsed by the Ireland (Confirmation of Agreement) Act, 1925) also pledged the two Irish Governments to a friendly and neighbourly relationship to be underpinned by regular cross border meetings.

    5. The expectations prompted by this agreement were not fulfilled, and in. 1937 there was promulgated a new Irish Constitution, which proclaimed that the 'national territory' consisted of the whole island of Ireland. The growing gulf between North and South was further accentuated when the Irish Government remained neutral throughout the Second World War. In 1948 that Government decided to sever its links with the Crown and Commonwealth and to establish an Irish Republic. In the subsequent United Kingdom legislation made necessary by these developments (the Ireland Act, 1949), Parliament affirmed that Northern Ireland remained part of the United Kingdom, and that neither Northern Ireland as a whole nor any part thereof should cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Northern Ireland Parliament.

    6. While the progressive withdrawal of what had been the Irish Free State from its formal associations with the British Commonwealth and the Crown inevitably changed the nature of partition, this did not prevent in the post-war era the development of certain measures of practical co-operation between the Governments in Ireland-as, for example, in the establishment of the Lough Foyle Fisheries Commission, the Erne drainage and hydro-electricity scheme, and joint action to save the Great Northern Railway. In 1965 meetings took place between the Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland and of the Irish Republic leading to a closer co-operation in tourist promotion and other areas and to the establishment of an inter-connector between the two electricity systems.

    7. Relations between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic were affected by the periodic activity of militant republican elements. At its inception Northern Ireland had suffered the impact of a major terrorist campaign; the threat of renewed violence was felt to be ever present, and indeed became a reality at different times, as for example between 1956 and 1962. Frequently this activity took the form of armed raids across the border, and the headquarters of the Irish Republican Army was throughout based in the South. Although firm action (including, for instance, the use of internment powers between 1957 and 1961) was from time to time taken in the Republic, the IRA remained a continuing threat. In the current troubles in Northern Ireland, terrorists based in the Republic, some of them fugitives from Northern Ireland, have continued to make armed raids across the border.


    1. A five-point reform programme was announced by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland on 22 November 1968. Successive Northern Ireland Governments have been firmly committed to the implementation of this programme and indeed expanded it as time went on. The initial proposals were.-

        (i) the substitution of a broadly-based Development Commission for elected local government in the Londonderry area-implemented by the establishment of the Londonderry Development Commission on 5 February 1969;

        (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.

    2. Further reforms followed. The Northern Ireland Government accepted the recommendations of the Hunt Committee that the Royal Ulster Constabulary should become a normally unarmed force and that defence of Northern Ireland against armed terrorists should be a military responsibility. Thus a new structure for the police force was embodied in the Police Act of 1970 and the Ulster Special Constabulary was replaced by the RUC Reserve established under that Act. In addition the part-time Ulster Defence Regiment which was established by the United Kingdom Government to assist the Army in its security role became operational on 1 April 1970.

    3. Provision for a central housing authority to be responsible for all public authority house building, management and allocation was made in the Housing Executive Act which became law on 25 February 1971.

    4. Following the decision to centralise responsibility for housing, a committee under the Chairmanship of Mr Patrick Macrory was set up to review the then existing plans for the reorganisation of local government.

    5. In the context of local government reorganisation an interim Staff Commission was established in June 1970 on a non-statutory basis to assist central and local government with the complex staffing difficulties of reorganisation. Provision for a permanent and statutory local government Staff Commission was made in the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland), 1972.

    6. The Ministry of Community Relations was established under legislation which became law on 28 October 1969. Among other things the Ministry was charged with the responsibility for obtaining declarations of equality of employment opportunity from public bodies and local authorities and of ensuring that the same employing authorities devolved and adopted acceptable codes of employment procedure. In addition, a Community Relations Commission was appointed under the Community Relations Act (Northern Ireland), 1969.

    7. The Northern Ireland Government also made proposals for the reform of the Stormont Parliament. On 22 June 1971 Mr Faulkner, then Prime Minister, announced that the Government intended to recommend to Parliament a new committee system. In addition to the Public Accounts Committee, there would be three new functional Committees covering the fields of social services, environmental services and industrial services. It was intended that the Committees should be representative of party strength in the House and that members of the Opposition should chair at least two. These proposals were later incorporated in a Green Paper on the Future Development of the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland published in October 1971 (Cmd 560 of 1971) which canvassed, inter alia, the possibility of introducing proportional representation, of increasing the size of the House of Commons and of widening the basis of the Senate. They were developed in correspondence between the Governments of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, referred to in the Northern Ireland Government's White Paper Political Settlement (Cmd 568 of 1972).

    The remaining annexes of this document will be made available later


    [1] 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) ):

      (1) A rising sense of continuing injustice and grievance among large sections of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland,- in particular in Londonderry and Dungannon, in respect of (i) inadequacy of housing provision by certain local authorities (ii) unfair methods of allocation of houses built and let by such authorities, in particular, refusals and omissions to adopt a 'points' system in determining priorities and making allocations (iii) misuse in certain cases of discretionary powers of allocation of houses to perpetuate Unionist control of the local authority.

      (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.

    [2] Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969 - Cmd 566 of 1972

    [3] Cmd. 4154 of 1969. The full text is:

      1 The United Kingdom Government reaffirm that nothing which has happened in recent weeks in Northern Ireland derogates from the clear pledges made 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 or from the provision in Section I of the Ireland Act, 1949, that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The border is not an issue.

      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.

    [4] see Annex 3, para. 2.

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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