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Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1971) A Record of Constructive Change. Belfast: HMSO.



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Text: Northern Ireland. Parliament. ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh

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GOVERNMENT OF NORTHERN IRELAND

A Record of
Constructive Change

Presented to Parliament by Command of
His Excellency the Governor of Northern Ireland
August 1971

 

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HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
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Cmd. 558



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Introduction

1. In August 1969 the Governments of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland issued a joint statement of policy in relation to Northern Ireland. The text of this statement (known as The Downing Street Declaration) is reproduced in full in the Appendix.

2. In face of unsubstantiated allegations that it has failed to honour its obligations under the Downing Street Declaration the Government of Northern Ireland has decided to place the facts clearly and succinctly on record.

3. The Northern Ireland Government’s purpose in so doing is not to provoke controversy: the facts speak plainly for themselves, requiring neither gloss nor explanation. Nor is its purpose simply or solely to refute calumny. Clearly no progress is possible towards reconciliation and mutual co-operation within Northern Ireland if the essential facts are either misunderstood or misrepresented by leaders of opinion inside Northern Ireland or by persons holding high office elsewhere.

4. Furthermore, it should be noted that the Downing Street Declaration is not confined (as is often implied) to the re-affirmation of the principle that "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." The Declaration also stresses that "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."

5. Accordingly this Paper deals first with the steps which have been taken by the Northern Ireland Government since August 1969 to implement the principle of "equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination." It then summarises very briefly the massive programme of economic and social development which has been set in train to promote stability and improve the quality of life within Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Government does not interpret in any narrow or legalistic sense its duty to secure equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination. It recognises also its obligation to promote higher standards of life, greater economic opportunity and a fuller, freer and more satisfying environment for all citizens of Northern Ireland. Great progress has already been made towards the achievement of these social and economic aims; but the Northern Ireland Government alone cannot ensure success in this matter. The creation of a stable and prosperous society requires the co-operation of all sections of the community within Northern Ireland as well as the, continuing support and active involvement of the Government of the United Kingdom. The restoration of Jaw and Order is the indispensable foundation of this further progress and this means the cessation not only of riots, shootings, bombing and arson but also of intimidation extortion and all forms of civil disobedience.

Legislative and Administrative Change

6. The Downing Street Declaration laid down general guidelines and was followed by specific commitments on the part of the Northern Ireland Government as set down in the Joint Communiques of 29 August and 10 October 1969 (1). The following sections record these commitments and the steps taken by the Northern Ireland Government to put them into effect.

7. The Police

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To accept the principle of a civilianised and unarmed police force.
Action:
This principle was embodied in the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 which became law on 26 March 1970.

8. A Police Authority

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To establish a Police Authority representative of the community as a whole.
Action:
The Authority was established by the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970. As a result the Royal Ulster Constabulary is now controlled by the Authority which is representative of all sections of the community.

9. A Public Prosecutor

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To relieve the police of all responsibility for prosecutions and to establish a system of independent public prosecutors.
Action:
The Northern Ireland Government announced on 17 April 1971 that it had accepted the recommendation of an independent Working Party on Public Prosecutions under the chairmanship of the Hon. J. C. MacDermott, Q.C., that a system of public prosecutors should be established to relieve the police of the burdens of prosecuting in all summary offences other than minor ones. On 13 May the Prime Minister announced that the Northern Ireland Government intended to appoint a Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. As in England he will be responsible to the Attorney General, who in turn will be answerable to Parliament.

10. Replacement of Ulster Special Constabulary

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To replace the Ulster Special Constabulary with a volunteer reserve.
Action:
The Ulster Special Constabulary has been phased out and under the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 provision was made for the establishment of the R.U.C. Reserve. The Royal Ulster Constabulary now has a Reserve of up to 1,500 part-time policemen to assist it in its civilian role. At the same time the United Kingdom Government has established the part-time Ulster Defence Regiment to assist the Army in its security role. The Regiment became operational on 1 April 1970 and is over 4,000 strong with a target strength of 6,000. It undertakes the duties envisaged for it in the Joint Communique, namely guarding key installations, carrying out patrols and operating check points and road blocks. It is not used on crowd control or riot duties.

11. Special Powers Act

Commitment:
The original five point reform programme announced by the Northern Ireland Government in November 1968 undertook to withdraw those Special Powers which were in conflict with international obligations where this could be done without hazard. No specific mention was made of this undertaking in the Downing Street Declaration or the subsequent Joint Communiques.
Action:
While the Northern Ireland Government would wish as soon as possible to revoke those Special Powers which are in conflict with international obligations, it clearly cannot contemplate the withdrawal of any powers required to protect life and property in face of the mounting scale of violence and subversive activity. The prior condition of any such change is a renunciation of violence and terrorism. Far from this condition having been fulfilled, the escalation of violence on the part of the I.R.A. during the last two years has left the Northern Ireland Government no alternative but to invoke, with extreme reluctance, the powers of detention and internment.

12. Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969:
This office was established prior to the Downing Street Declaration but was welcomed in that Declaration by the United Kingdom Government as demonstrating the determination of the Northern Ireland Government that there shall be full equality of treatment for all citizens.
Action:
A Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration was appointed under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act (Northern Ireland) 1969, which became law on 24 June 1969. The present holder of the office is Sir Edmund Compton, G.C.B., who until recently also held the office of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration at Westminster. The Commissioner, whose job it is to investigate complaints of maladministration against Government Departments, has already issued two reports (H.C. 1954 and H.C. 2076).
In his second report (H.C. 2076), covering a period of 18 months, the Parliamentary Commissioner said: "My first years of office in Northern Ireland have not produced a single instance of culpable action in the organs of central government." In the same report the Parliamentary Commissioner also said: "I think it fair to say that the quality of administrative performance in the Northern Ireland Ministries compares well with my experience of Government Departments in the United Kingdom. Indeed the individual citizen frequently gets a better service from a Northern Ireland Ministry than he would get from a United Kingdom Department in similar circumstances owing to the easier access to central government."

13. Commissioner for Complaints

Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969:
To introduce legislation to establish machinery for the investigation of citizens’ grievances against local authorities and other public authorities.
Action:
The Commissioner for Complaints Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 became law on 25 November 1969. Under the Act, a Commissioner for Complaints was appointed to deal with citizens’ grievances against local councils and public bodies. The Commissioner, Mr. J. M. Benn, C.B., like the Parliamentary Commissioner, is independent of the Government and reports to the Northern Ireland Parliament. This machinery for the investigation of the citizens’ complaints has no counterpart either in Great Britain or the Irish Republic. Three reports have been issued by the Commissioner (H.C. Nos. 2001, 2048, and 2101). In his Third Report, the Commissioner defined discrimination as the taking of a decision in favour of, or against, a person which is motivated by consideration of the person’s religious beliefs or political opinions. He went on to say that in most of the cases of alleged discrimination (only 6 per cent of the total number of complaints accepted for investigation) which he reported on, he was satisfied that the action complained of was not motivated by discrimination. The full text of this statement is contained in paragraphs 31-36 of the Commissioner’s Third Report (H.C. 2101).

14. Fair representation

Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969:
To assure the proper representation of minorities at the elected levels of government by completely fair electoral laws, practices and boundaries and at nominated and appointed levels by a recognition that such minorities have a right to an effective voice in affairs.
Action:
Before the Downing Street Declaration, an Electoral Law Bill (which subsequently became law on 25 November 1969) had already been introduced into the Northern Ireland Parliament to institute universal adult suffrage (or one man one vote) for local council elections, where the franchise had previously been restricted to ratepayers. lit also introduced votes for all at the age of 18 in both Parliamentary and local council elections. Elections for the Stormont Parliament had always been on the basis of universal adult suffrage. The first full local government election under the new system is expected in late 1972 following the re-organisation of local government. Meanwhile under the Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 which became law on 25 February 1971 all by-elections to local councils are being conducted on the basis of one man one vote and universal suffrage at the age of 18.
In the context of local government re-organisation, local government boundaries are being re-drawn, as described in paragraph 27.
The new Ministry of Community Relations has the task of keeping under review, in conjunction with other Departments, the question of fair representation of the whole community on public boards and bodies. The Minister of Community Relations has asked Members of Parliament for the names of representative people prepared to serve and has undertaken to give consideration to all such suggestions.

15. Public employment: The Northern Ireland Civil Service

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
While it was recognised that the Northern Ireland Civil Service deservedly enjoyed a high reputation for fairness and impartiality in its employment practices, the Northern Ireland Government agreed to take action on a few minor aspects which might be open to criticism, and to extend the powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration to cover personnel matters in the Civil Service.
Action:
Minor changes in relation to the composition and scope of the Civil Service Commission and to recruitment boards for the administrative, professional and executive classes have been introduced. The powers of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration were extended by Order in Council to cover personnel matters in the Civil Service with effect from 1 April, 1970.

16. Public employment: Declarations of equality of employment opportunity

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
In those parts of public employment where the Government was not a direct employer, to require each employing body to make a declaration that its aim was to have equality of employment opportunity without regard to religious or political considerations.
Action:
The Ministry of Community Relations has been given the task of obtaining declarations from public bodies and local authorities. All statutory bodies and local authorities have now made a declaration of equality of employment opportunity.

17. Public employment: Codes of employment procedure

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To require every public body in Northern Ireland to adopt an approved code of employment procedure.
Action:
The Ministry of Community Relations has been charged with the responsibility of ensuring that model codes are evolved and adopted by local authorities and public bodies. All statutory bodies have adopted acceptable codes of employment procedure and all local, authority associations have evolved model codes of employment procedure which are in the course of adoption by local authorities.

18. Public employment: Local Government Staff Commission

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To establish a permanent statutory Local Government Staff Commission with strong advisory powers to assist local authorities in the selection of candidates for senior and designated appointments and with a continuing duty of reviewing appointment procedures; and to establish an Interim Commission acting on a non-statutory basis to fulfil these functions while the structure of local government was being reviewed.
Action:
An Interim Staff Commission was established in June 1970 under the chairmanship of Sir Cecil Bateman, K.B.E., and is fully operational on a non-statutory basis. The legislation for a Permanent Staff Commission for local government will be brought forward in the autumn of 1971 and the Permanent Commission will take over from the Interim Commission on a date to be fixed. A temporary staff commission for employees in the health and personal social services has also been established under the Health Services Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 and the Welfare Services Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 to deal with the problems raised by re-organisation.

19. Public employment: Study of Public Service Commission

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To make a further study of the idea of a Public Service Commission concerned with certain aspects of staffing throughout the public sector including both local government service and the Civil Service.
Action:
The idea of a Public Service Commission covering both the Civil Service and the local government service has been examined in detail by the Civil Service Management Division of the Ministry of Finance. It has been decided that the implementation of the proposal would be too complicated to achieve in the very tight timetable laid down for local government re-organisation and that until re-organisation is fully established the Civil Service Commission and the new Local Government Staff Commission should deal separately with staff matters in the Civil Service and in local government. The idea of a Public Service Commission will then be re-considered. In the meantime, the Government has established a Working Party to look into the question of central training arrangements and organisation for the whole of the Public Service in Northern Ireland. The Chairman of this body will be Mr. Paul Osmond, C.B., a Deputy Secretary in the Lord Chancellor’s Department in London who has had considerable experience in the Civil Service Department on training matters.

20. Anti-discrimination clause in Government contracts

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To introduce an anti-discrimination clause in all Northern Ireland Government contracts.
Action:
On 22 June, 1971, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland announced that those tendering for any Northern Ireland Government contract advertised after that date will be required to complete an undertaking not to practise any form of religious discrimination in the performance of the contract.
A similar requirement will apply to a contract where the Northern Ireland Government meets one hundred per cent. of the cost and another body acts as its agent.
No tenders will be considered from a contractor who fails to complete the undertaking. Any person who considers he has been discriminated against in his employment or intended employment may complain to the Department which has appointed that contractor who will refer the complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for investigation.

21. Review of other forms of discrimination

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To consider what further action to prevent discrimination in other fields might be desirable.
Action:
Action has already been taken, as described in the preceding paragraph, to prevent discrimination in employment within the private sector in relation to Government contracts. The Government has now begun to turn its attention to the possibility of further initiatives in the private sector. Progress in preventing discrimination within that part of the private sector which is not directly amenable to Government control depends on the active cooperation of employers and the trade union movement, and account has to be taken of practical problems in a wide variety of different locations and circumstances. It is important to distinguish discriminatory practices as such from the whole complex of factors—such as accidents of location, the particular blend of industrial skills required in the labour force, or traditional methods of recruitment—which affect the balance of employment in any given concern.
Accordingly, further detailed consultation with representative employer and trade union interests will be required to determine the most practicable means of ensuring continued progress in this field.

22. Housing allocation
Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969:
To introduce a points scheme for housing allocation as originally proposed in the five point reform programme announced by the Northern Ireland Government in November, 1968.
Action:
The Ministry of Development has prepared a model points scheme which was accepted as being soundly based in the 10 October Communique. In the interim period before the effective operation of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Northern Ireland Government has ensured that all public authority housing is allocated on a points scheme, based on the Ministry of Development’s model code. The creation of a Northern Ireland Housing Executive, discussed in paragraph 26, was also designed, amongst many other things, to end allegations of sectarian discrimination in housing allocations.

23. Ministry of Community Relations
Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969:
To designate a Minister with special responsibility for community relations.
Action:
A Ministry of Community Relations was set up under the Ministry of Community Relations (Northern Ireland) Act 1969 which became law on 28 October 1969. The first Minister of Community Relations, Dr. Robert Simpson, M.P., was initially appointed as a Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Department, before the creation of his Ministry. Mr. David Bleakley succeeded Dr. Simpson on 25 March, 1971. The Ministry has been involved in monitoring the progress of work in implementing the Joint Communiques, in advising other Departments on community relations aspects of their work, in carrying out its obligations in relation to the Community Relations Commission, and in administering the Social Need (Grants) Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 which became law on 9 June 1970 and empowers the Ministry to pay grants normally of 75% to local authorities and voluntary bodies for projects designed to improve social amenities in urban areas suffering from social deprivation.

24. The Community Relations Commission
Commitment in the Communique of 29 August 1969:
To introduce legislation to set up a Community Relations Board to promote good relations between all sections of the community;, half the members of the Board to be Protestant and half Roman Catholic.
Action:
The Community Relations Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 became law on 11 November 1969. The Act established the Community Relations Commission, a body independent of the Government. The duties of the Commission include encouraging the establishment of harmonious community relations and advising Northern Ireland Ministers on questions relating to community relations. The Commission is able to assist local bodies concerned with community relations, to provide training courses, to promote conferences and to undertake research. The Chairman of the Commission is Mr. Maurice Hayes and its membership is evenly balanced between Roman Catholics and Protestants. The Commission has been active in establishing a Community Development team to work in Belfast, Londonderry and other major towns, in convening conferences and in sponsoring research.

25. Incitement to Religious Hatred

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To keep under review the adequacy of the existing law against incitement.
Action:
The [Prevention of] Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 became law on 2 July 1970. The Act imposes penalties for incitement to hatred and for the circulation of certain false statements or false reports.

26. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
To establish a Central Housing Authority.
Action:
The Housing Executive Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 which provides for all public authority house-building and allocation to be the responsibility of one central housing organisation, became law on 25 February 1971.
The house-building target of the Five-Year Development Programme (1970-75) is 73,500 at a cost of nearly £300 million. This will represent a steep increase on existing output, even though the output of all new dwellings in the financial year 1970-71 was in itself a record figure of over 13,000.
The appointment of Mr. Desmond Lorimer as chairman of the new Housing Executive was announced on 4 March 1971. Five other members have been appointed by the Minister of Development. The remaining three come from the Housing Council, a new advisory body representative of existing housing authorities.
The membership of the completed Executive was announced on 6 May, 1971. The first full meeting was held within a week and the Executive at once undertook a study of the problems facing it. After extensive consultations, the Executive has publicly announced the programme which it wishes to carry out for taking over responsibility from existing housing authorities:

(a) The Executive will assume all the functions of the Northern Ireland Housing Trust on 1 October 1971;
(b) The Executive will assume all the housing functions of the Belfast Corporation about January 1972;
(c) The remaining local authorities having housing functions will become agents of the Executive under its policy control about April 1972;
(d) The functions of these authorities will be taken over fully not later than October 1972;
(e) Finally, the housing functions of the three Development Commissions(2) will be taken over not later than April 1973.

A full statement was issued by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on 2 August 1971 on the progress made by the Executive and of its proposals for the assumption over a phased period of its full functions and responsibilities.

27. Local Government reorganisation

Commitment in the Communique of 10 October 1969:
Although the process of local government reorganisation was started several years before the Downing Street Declaration, the decision to establish a Northern Ireland Housing Executive had such important consequences that it was necessary to re-examine the whole sphere of local government reorganisation. For this re-examination, the Northern Ireland Government undertook to set up a Review Body which would be broadly based and include representatives of the two main religious denominations as well as of business, professional and trade union interests to review in conjunction with the Ministries in Northern Ireland and local authorities, current proposals for reshaping local administration and to advise on the most efficient distribution of the relevant functions under the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland. This step was supported by the United Kingdom Government.
Action:
An independent Review Body under the chairmanship of Mr. Patrick Macrory was appointed by the Minister of Development on 17 December 1969. Its Report, completed on 29 May 1970, was debated in Parliament in October 1970, after which the Government carried out an intensive study of the recommendations in the Report and of Parliamentary and public reactions to them. A major Statement, made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 17 December 1970, laid down the principles on which a radical re-shaping of all local administration was to take place. Broadly, functions of a regional character such as health, personal social services, education, planning, roads, water, sewerage, fire service, electricity, electoral arrangements and many others were to be administered on a regional footing for the whole of Northern Ireland, while functions of a local or district character were to be administered on a local footing by twenty-six new District Councils operating in a new single -tier local government system. These decisions were subsequently debated in the House of Commons in January 1971 and given general endorsement.
Since then an intensive programme of action has followed, consultative Documents seeking to convert the principles of re- organisation into detailed administrative proposals were published in March and April 1971. A Local Government Consultative Committee representing the various categories of Local Authority has been actively at work, directly and through various sub-committees and working parties.
The first legislative step was embodied in the Local Government Boundaries Act (Northern Ireland) 1971 which provided for the appointment by His Excellency the Governor of a Boundaries Commissioner to recommend the boundaries and names of the twenty-six District Councils indicated in the Act and also the electoral districts or wards into which they are to be divided. The Act became law on 23 March 1971 and shortly afterwards a distinguished Lawyer, ‘Mr. F. A. L. Harrison, Q.C., was appointed as Boundaries Commissioner. He commenced work at once. Time limits are embodied in the Statute with a view to ensuring that arrangements are in readiness for elections to be held to the new District Councils by the autumn of 1972, on new boundaries, new wards, universal franchise and votes at eighteen.
The Queen’s Speech at the Opening of the new Session of Parliament on 22 June 1971 summarized the many legislative measures which will be necessary to give effect to the widespread programme of re-organisation replacing the historic system of seventy-three local authorities ‘by new regional and local arrangements and transferring some forty thousand local government staff to new employers. This quite unprecedented task is to be completed by 1 April 1973 when the Housing Executive, the five Area Education Boards, ‘the four Health and Social Service Boards, the Ministry of Development regional services, the Ministry of Finance Regional Rating service and the twenty -six District Councils will all come into full operation.

28. A new Committee system for the Northern Ireland Parliament

Finally a new and important initiative not arising from either the Downing Street Declaration or the subsequent Communiques must be placed on record.
The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, in the House of Commons on 22 June 1971, announced that:

"because of the increased work-load which will be placed upon us from 1973 onwards and the need for greater participation in our work by all honourable Members, the Government has decided to recommend to the House, for early implementation, a new Committee system. Alongside the Public Accounts Committee, which will continue to operate as at present, there should be three new Functional Committee9 of the House covering respectively the fields of Social Services, Environmental Services and Industrial Services. One of their principal functions would be the consideration of major proposals of policy. The second major function would be that of reviewing performances—in other words, to probe and assess after the event the performance of executive functions by the Government and its agencies. A further possible function would be the consideration of certain legislation."

The Prime Minister said that the Northern Ireland Government was thinking in terms of Committees of not more than nine members each, broadly representative of Party strength in the House. Of the three functional committees, plus the Public Accounts Committee, the Opposition should provide at least two chairmen. These would be salaried posts. Members serving on the Committees would receive a fee for attendance. "It must be recognised", the Prime Minister said, "that any concept of participation (by the minority) will be hollow which does not recognise the duty to participate in bearing the burdens of the State as well as enjoying its advantages; and that no duty is more important than to mount a united opposition to terror."

29. The Social Democratic and Labour Party, after welcoming this initiative in Parliament, decided later to withdraw from Parliament, along with the Nationalist Party and the representative of the Republican Labour Party. The Government of Northern Ireland has since emphasised that the offer of participation by the Opposition in functional Committees in the House of Commons has not been withdrawn. It can be implemented as soon as the Opposition return to Parliament.

Economic and Social Development

30. The Northern Ireland Government has been concerned to promote the economic and social welfare of all its people. Full British standards prevail in Northern Ireland, and have prevailed since 1948, in the fields of social security, health and social welfare services, without regard to class or creed. In education, the private sector, aided by generous Government ;grants to voluntary schools, occupies a far larger place than in Great Britain. But at each level of the educational system—primary, secondary and higher education (including Universities)—standards and opportunities are equivalent to those in Great Britain. Since the War, 195,870 new dwellings have been built, equivalent to a total of some seven million for Great Britain allowing for population differences.

31. Unemployment has been the prime economic problem in Northern Ireland and has proved intractable in that the major staple industries of the area, shipbuilding, traditional textiles and agriculture, have all been reducing their labour requirements substantially, thus offsetting the gains made in a vigorous industrial development drive, spearheaded by the Northern Ireland Ministry of Commerce which has negotiated almost 100,000 new jobs for Northern Ireland since 1945. In recent years a large programme of industrial training has been mounted by the Northern Ireland Government to provide the skills required by modern industry. The manpower and training facilities made available by the Northern Ireland Government to incoming industry are widely recognised outside Northern Ireland as a model for development areas generally. The training programme also has the object of increasing the range of economic opportunity for the working population. For example, the proportion of school -leavers entering apprentice-training in Northern Ireland has risen from only 16 per cent in the early nineteen-sixties to no less than 40 per cent as compared with slightly over 40 per cent in Great Britain.

32. The Northern Ireland Government has kept its economic policies under constant review and has not hesitated to seek expert advice from outside Northern Ireland on several occasions. In May 1968, before the political unrest which started in October 1968, the Northern Ireland Government invited three Consultants to draw up a Development Programme for the years 1970-75. The Consultants were Professor Sir Robert Matthew of Edinburgh, Professor Tom Wilson of Glasgow and Professor Jack Parkinson, formerly of Queen’s University, Belfast, and now of Nottingham University. The Programme involved a review of progress made under the Matthew Plan of.1963 and the Wilson Economic Plan of 1965 both of which had been accepted and acted upon by the Northern Ireland Government. This Programme was in course of preparation at the time of the Downing Street Declaration and the issue of the two Communiques in 1969. The Northern Ireland Development Programme 1970-75 was published in June 1970 and dealt in detail with every facet of development in Northern Ireland:
employment, industrial development, industrial training, industrial relations, housing, physical development and location strategy. mobility. amenity. tourism, agriculture, transport and communications, education, health and welfare and administration.

33. Along with the Consultants’ Programme, the Northern Ireland Government published a White Paper (Cmd. 547) which set out the legislative and executive steps which it intended to take to implement the Programme over the five-year period. The whole programme of public expenditure accepted by the Northern Ireland Government was estimated to cost some £2,400 million (at 1969 prices) over the five years 1970-75. In particular, the Government accepted an extremely ambitious housing target of 73,500 in the five-year period 1970-75 and further substantial initiatives in the field of industrial training. In addition, special provision was made for creating employment for older men, especially in the remoter areas of Northern Ireland.

34. The Northern Ireland Government is now preparing a report on the progress of the Development Programme in its first year. In public investment, progress has been generally satisfactory but continuing civil unrest has affected the rate of private investment and the creation of new industrial jobs.

35. In this new situation where there is a risk of a shortfall in private investment in commerce and industry, the Northern Ireland Government jointly with the United Kingdom Government have initiated a special social and economic enquiry to analyse the current position and to identify what further steps might be taken. The enquiry is being carried out by Sir Alec Cairncross, Master of St. Peter’s College, Oxford, former head of the United Kingdom Government Economic Service; Mr. Charles Villiers of Guiness Mahon Ltd.; and Mr. Darwin Templeton, partner in a Belfast firm of chartered accountants. The terms of reference of the enquiry are as follows:

"To review the prospects for economic and social development as envisaged in the Development Programme with particular reference to the present and expected levels of investment in Northern Ireland and to recommend to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Governments any further measures which might be adopted."

36. The economic and social welfare of all the people of the region has been a constant pre-occupation of Government. Strenuous efforts have been made by the Northern Ireland Government with the limited authority available to it in this sphere, to provide employment and prosperity and to create a satisfactory social and physical environment for the people of the Province.

Conclusion

37. The Northern Ireland Government is not content simply to stand on the record of the measures and, the initiatives set out in this Paper as fulfilling its obligations under the Downing Street Declaration. Equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination are prerequisites of a just society, but they are of little comfort to those who lack security in their homes, in the streets or in their place of work; nor do they confer any material benefit on those who lack jobs or decent houses and have no stake in society. The first requirement is and must remain the full restoration of peace, stability and security of life and property. The next requirement is to harness the energies of all sections of the community in a programme of constructive social and economic development. It is the purpose of this Paper not merely to place on public record the steps taken by the Northern Ireland Government to fulfil the Downing Street Declaration but to show that the opportunity exists, and must be grasped by all the citizens of Northern Ireland, to raise the whole standard of life in a full, free and participating society.


Footnotes:

(1) Northern Ireland: Text of a Communique issued following discussions between the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Northern Ireland Government in Belfast on 9 and 10 October 1969. Cmnd. 4178.

(2) The Londonderry Development Commission was established early in 1969 in accordance with the undertaking by the Northern Ireland Government in the five point programme of reform announced in November 1968.


APPENDIX

The Downing Street Declaration
20 August 1969

1. The United Kingdom Government re-affirm 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 1 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 in relation 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 re-affirmed 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 future 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.

 

Printed in Northern Ireland by The Northern Whig Ltd., Belfast,
and published for the Government of Northern Ireland by
HER MAJESTY’ S STATIONERY OFFICE

 


See also:
Catholic Board Members. (1971) Commentary upon The White Paper (Cmd.558) entitled 'A Record of Constructive Change', (20 September 1971). Belfast: Irish News.


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


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