OCTOBER 19, 1967
In Britain Today
AN ADDRESS BY
Capt. The Rt. Hon. Terence O'Neill, PRIME MINISTER OF NORTHERN IRELAND
The Economic Future Of Great Britain
AN ADDRESS BY
The Hon. Angus Ogilvy
The President, Graham M. Gore
Our next speaker during British Week also comes from overseas. More specifically he represents a land of green glens, solid cities, and warm-hearted people--a sea-washed domain whose praises are still sung by Canadian servicemen who had the good fortune to sojourn there during the Second World War. I refer, of course, to the Commonwealth country of Northern Ireland, composed of the six counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, and Derry.
Of these six parts of the political entity of Northern Ireland, the County of Antrim is, as we shall see, particularly relevant to the career of our speaker. Besides its pastoral beauty, Antrim boasts prosperous farming, linen, and ship-building industries--and is the home of world-famous Old Bushmills Whiskey. Arts, politics, and commerce, in the New World and the Old, have been enriched by people of Antrim blood. On Antrim's coast is located one of the seven wonders of the world, the Giant's Causeway. Stories are told of the guides at the causeway which embody the Northern Irishman's twinkling sense of humour. A guide might tell you, for example, that there are exactly 35,996 columns in the causeway. If you ask him how he can be sure of that, he may say: "Ah sure, there was precisely 36,000 of them in it when I was a boy, but a rich American gentleman bought four of them since; and I wouldn't need to be much of a scholar to know what's left now."
And now I would like to tell you something about the man who has been the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland since March 1963.
He was born September 10, 1914, the son of Captain The Hon. Arthur O'Neill and grandson of the Second Baron, Lord O'Neill. He is heir presumptive of the 4th Baron, was educated at Eton, and served with the Irish Guards during the Second World War. Both his brothers were killed in action; he himself was wounded while serving with the Guards Armoured Division in the Netherlands.
Captain O'Neill can trace his ancestry to the ancient princes of Tyrone and Niall the Great, monarch of Ireland in the 4th century. His more immediate forbears have represented County Antrim at Westminster. His father was the first M.P. to fall in the First World War. His uncle, now Lord Rathcavan, became Father of the House of Commons with 37 years of continuous service and also served in Northern Ireland as Member of Parliament and as Speaker. His cousin, The Hon. Sir Con O'Neill, is at present British Ambassador to the Common Market in Brussels.
His political life started immediately after the war. He has been Member of Parliament for Bannside, County Antrim, since 1946, and a Privy Councillor of Northern Ireland since 1956. Prior to assuming his present honoured office, he held a number of important portfolios in the Government of Northern Ireland. He is married and has a son and a daughter.
Gentlemen, It is my pleasure to present to you a courageous soldier, a distinguished parliamentarian, and a leader in the Commonwealth- Captain The Rt. Hon. Terence O'Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
In this Centenary Year of Canada's Confederation, statesmen from many countries have been visiting Canada. One of the kings of England died of a "sur feit of lampreys", and there have perhaps been times this year when you have felt the pangs of a surfeit of State visits.
But I crave the indulgence of a special friend visiting friends. Since 1959 it has been my privilege to visit Canada on a number of occasions, and to get to know many of the public personalities of Ottawa and the provinces. Having met him during his Governor-Generalship, I know what a loss the nation suffered by the death of General Vanier -that fine, honest, upright and dignified soldier, a great and patriotic Canadian.
Very many of Northern Ireland's sons have found a new life on this side of the Atlantic. It is sad for any country that those who seek success in distant places tend to include some of its most vigorous and enterprising people. Yet I cannot bring myself to regret the process which has created around the world nations with a common dedication to freedom. Our aim in Northern Ireland must be to bring about the conditions in which no one is obliged to leave his homeland because of lack of opportunity. But I would never seek to discourage any individual from working out his own personal destiny wherever it may lead him. These movements of people have enriched us all. In Northern Ireland our great linen industry received its critical impetus from the emigration of French Huguenots. Sometimes a transplanted flower blooms with renewed vigour in a different soil.
It is not, I think, generally known either in Ulster or in Canada that Ulstermen, over a period of three centuries, played a prominent part in exploration of the North-West Passage. Henry Kelsey, who explored the Hudson Bay area in the last two decades of the 17th century, Arthur Dobbs in the 18th century, and Captain Crozier of Sir John Franklin's expedition in the 19th--all of these were Ulstermen. I might add in parenthesis that one of the greatest adventurers of the 20th century, Sir Francis Chichester, also has interesting family connections with Northern Ireland. From that same Devonshire family came, in the reign of King James I, Sir Arthur Chichester, founder of our own capital city of Belfast and an ancestor of my own.
Ulster has also given to Canada Lords Dufferin and Alexander, Governors-General, a Prime Minister (Meighen), numerous prominent politicians at Federal and Provincial levels, and the world of commerce the founders of the famous T. Eaton Company. Timothy Eaton was born at Portglenone, in my own "Riding", in 1834, and the family have been most generous to the area of their origin. Before emigrating Eaton set up shop in Ballymena and to this day the links between Ballymena and Toronto are very strong. I believe one Eaton called his house "Ballymena".
These, however, are merely a few of the countless thousands of Ulster people who have come, and continue to come to Canada, and particularly to Toronto. I can truthfully say that there is nowhere in the world where--I feel more immediately at home. You may be amused to hear, indeed, that in London the Ulsterman, when speaking in his local accent, is very often taken for a Canadian. Now of course I am extremely happy that many of these emigrants to Canada retain happy recollections of the land of their origin, and I enjoy meeting-both here and in the United States-the various Ulster-Irish or Scotch-Irish societies which exist to strengthen these ties. But at the same time I always make it clear that, in my view, the emigrant's first love and loyalty must unquestionably be to the nation with whose fortunes he has linked himself. I want the Ulster people in Canada to be first and foremost good Canadians. Indeed, the best service which they can perform to their kin-folk on the other side of the Atlantic is to show what responsible, productive and loyal citizens they can be. The position of a man coming to a new country is like that of the bridegroom who leaves the family home on marriage. He will, one hopes, never cease to love and respect his parents, but henceforth his primary responsibility must be to his partner. And so, if an Ulsterman can make a good Canadian, I consider that is as good a way as any of showing his solid Ulster virtues.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, Northern Ireland's status within the United Kingdom is unique. From the beginning of the 19th century until 1920 Britain operated--at any rate in the parliamentary sense--a completely unitary form of government. There were, of course, Irish members of the executive--the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary for Ireland--but they were responsible to Parliament in London. A Scottish Office was not created until 1885--again with its Ministerial Chief responsible to Westminster--and the first Secretary of State for Wales was appointed as recently as October 1964. Although today there are extensive administrative offices in Edinburgh and rather more modest ones in Cardiff, only in Belfast is there a separate Parliament for a component part of the United Kingdom.
What is so extraordinary is that, while many Scots and Welshmen have been avid supporters of the idea of local Parliaments for a long time, Northern Ireland actually obtained one as a result of saying very firmly that it wanted nothing of the kind. That may seem a paradox of peculiar "Irishness". But what happened was that, while people in the rest of Ireland pressed for devolution, the majority of people in Ulster simply wanted to go on being represented at Westminster as they had been for over 100 years. So, in one of those compromises which governments make when they are being ground between the upper and the nether millstone, the British Government of the day said -"Very well, we shall give two Parliaments to Ireland: to the South which wants one, and the North which does not. And we shall also continue to take representatives at Westminster from the North which wants to send them, and from the South which does not." Very, very reluctantly, and lest a worse fate should befall it, Northern Ireland accepted this settlement. Yet today Northern Ireland which did not want a Provincial Parliament has still got it and is determined to preserve it, while the South, which originally wanted a Provincial Parliament within the United Kingdom, first left the U.K. and then the Commonwealth.
So, by one of those historical ironies which make life so interesting, that unloved and unwanted orphan child, the Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, has grown into mature and vigorous manhood, and is seen today by most of our people as a great advantage in securing good government. Regional or provincial government can have a responsiveness to local conditions, an informality and an ease of access which win their own rewards.
May I give an example of what I mean? The subject of industrial investment is, I always find, one of absorbing not to say controversial interest here in Canada. It is also of great importance to us in Northern Ireland, because we have a rapidly growing population and badly need industrial diversification to counter the effects of structural change in some of our basic industries. In attracting new industry, mainly from Great Britain, but also from North America and continental Europe, many factors are of importance: the availability of trained labour, easy access to profitable markets, well-designed schemes of financial incentives and so forth. But I would place very high on the list of such factors the ability to take our own decisions rapidly and decisively, which--as a Provincial government within the United Kingdom--we are able to do. Businessmen at all times have direct and easy access to Ministers, and when I was Minister of Finance I was willing--if need be--to clear multi-million dollar schemes by a telephone call. I find that industry, not least from North America, appreciates this kind of decisiveness.
What is so interesting is that recent years have seen a marked growth in Britain of what is known as "regionalism". This tended to originate with the determination of areas which had problems--particularly of unemployment--to seek their own solutions. So various Councils, backed by private industry, local municipalities and so forth, came into being as "boosters" for their respective Regions. This process has now been taken a significant step further. Great Britain has been divided up by the Government in London into a number of "planning Regions". This includes not just the great historic entities of the United Kingdom--such as Scotland or Wales, which because of their history have a high degree of distinctiveness and self-awareness--but areas of England which have not been distinctive governmental entities since the days of the Anglo-Saxon kings. In each of these Regions tnere is today an Economic Planning Council, very widely based, with representatives of local government authorities, of industry, of trades unions, of universities in the region and so on. These Councils are, at the moment, advisory bodies, and side by side with them each Region has a planning Board, consisting of the principal representatives in the Region of all the organs of central government which have a hand in its physical and economic development. What is important, I think, is that local powers and local options should be exercised in the interests of the nation as a whole. We hope to use our local powers to make our economy stronger and more productive, not just out of selfish local interest, but to serve better the cause of Britain. For while we value our powers of local autonomy, we do not imagine that it would be feasible for us to play a worthwhile role in a wider scheme of things other than as a part of Britain.
The saddest day of Ulster's history was 1st July, 1916, when the Ulster Division went over the top at the Battle of the Somme, and in heroic action suffered terrible losses. Their comrades from Canada and Newfoundland shed their blood over these same costly acres of ground. But was that not a proud day as well as a sad one? It showed that there were men in our own green island, and here across the broad Atlantic, who recognized a call to something greater than a purely local cause. To the farmer in the furrows of County Antrim or in the fertile fields of Canada, the quarrels of the European powers must have seemed at times a very remote thing. Yet they sensed that freedom around the world is indivisible and worth fighting for. They knew that the closest and most cherished things--family, friends, the small area one recognizes as home--can in the last resort only be protected by a willingness to serve wider causes and greater alliances.
Many men, many races have striven to make Canada what it is today, a hundred years after its foundation. Your successes as a nation have been achieved by their sacrifices. And this, I think, is indisputable: that Canada stands in high esteem around the world for its responsible, moderate, peace-making approach to international affairs. Many times Canada has striven, often with great success, to play the role of "honest broker" in difficult circumstances. To play such a part often earns, in an old saying "more kicks than ha'pence". But if all the nations had acted as unselfishly as Canada, and with as true a regard for the welfare of the whole human famly, many of our current problems would not exist.
And so, on behalf of one of the streams which has flowed into the broad, strong flood of Canadian nationhood, I bring you a message of friendship and brother hood from Northern Ireland. On Canada's hundredth birthday, it is my privilege to express the wish that she may have many, many happy returns!
Judging from items in our newspapers, displays in our stores, and the sparkle of recent special occasions, British Week has created quite a stir in the City of Toronto. One of the most sparkling of these occasions was last night's Loyal Societies Dinner for Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra.
Today in the spirit of British Week, it is our privilege to welcome as a special guest the husband of Princess Alexandra-The Honourable Angus Ogilvy. The second son of The 12th Earl of Airlie, he was educated in Eton and Oxford and commissioned in the Scots Guards where he is now on the reserve of officers. He is also a member of the Royal Company of Archers, which is the Queen's Body Guard for Scotland.
His family is an ancient Scottish one whose records go back to the 12th century and whose members have participated in stirring chapters of British history. The First Earl of Airlie, for example, fought for King Charles I in the Civil War. In 1640 he had his castle sacked by the force of the Marquess of Argyll -an event commemorated in the ballad "The Bonnie House of Airlie".
Mr. Ogilvy is a Director of the 117 Group of Investment Trusts in the City of London and represents the Group--as chairman, managing director or director--on the Boards of a number of associated companies. He is also on the Board of the Guardian Assurance Company and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, as well as many other corporations, including Wembley Stadium. Yesterday noon, at a luncheon given by The Committee for Exports to Canada, Sir Peter Allen, whom we welcome at this Head Table today, spoke of Mr. Ogilvy by saying (and I quote), "He is a damn good guy". With that remark I heartily agree and without additional remarks which might have a tendency to detract from the true meaning of Sir Peter's statement, I present to you, Captain the Honourable Angus Ogilvy, who will speak with you.
When I had the great pleasure and honour of being invited to address this distinguished gathering this afternoon, I was asked if I would say a few words about "The economic future of Britain".
Now, Gentlemen, Britain is faced, as you all know only too well, with some very considerable problems. They are plain for all to see, and I for one would not be so foolish as to try and sweep them under the carpet and pretend to you, Gentlemen, that they do not exist.
The important question, however, is not whether the problems exist. It is whether or not Britain can surmount them in this increasingly competitive world? To this my answer is emphatically yes.
I say yes, not because I have been told to by the British Government (although I am bound to admit I don't think they would be frightfully pleased if I said no);
I say yes because I am a businessman, and I suggest to you that if you do look at the facts our economy is fundamentally far sounder than many people are prepared to give us credit for.
I know we pretend to be a race of gloriously inefficient amateurs, but underneath this superficial facade, which is essentially part of the British character, a silent but major revolution has in fact taken place in Britain during the last few years and this is my reason for being optimistic about the future in the long run.
The changes that have been brought about may have been slow and to the outsider almost imperceptible, but they are nonetheless fundamental.
Take our class system for example. It is still a force mitigating against economic efficiency--but it is no longer anything like as powerful a factor as it used to be. Today most of the heads of British businesses are self-made men. Or take our educational system. A generation or so ago, there is no doubt, our public schools were geared to turning out people more for the liberal professions than for business or technology. But today, with the changes in their curriculum and with the immense and continuing improvement in State education, what comes out of the schools is a very different product to what came out, say, 20 years ago.
Or look at the field of business management. The average standard of management in Britain today is considerably higher than it was a few years ago, although l am the first to admit there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Mind you, one of the best things that has ever happened to British industry is the odd invasion that seems to take place from time to time from various Canadian tycoons like Garfield Weston, the late Lord Beaverbrook and Roy Thomson.
Now take Beaverbrook and Thomson as an example. Between them they managed to turn our newspaper industry completely upside down.
Is it any the worse for it?
I don't think so. On the contrary, I think it has gained immeasurably.
I am not pretending, however, that when it first happened it wasn't resented immensely. It was.
But the quiet revolution, which I suggest to you Gentlemen is slowly transforming the British economy, is not merely confined to the field of management. It applies also to the all-important field of exports.
At last, perhaps a little late in the day, we have tumbled to the fact that if we are going to survive, we must pay more attention to exports.
Now, no doubt all of you here have heard a lot about Britain's Balance of Payments difficulties, and make no mistake about it, they are very real, but I do think it is important to get them into perspective. If you take the 1966 figures as an example, which are the latest figures we have for a full year, if only we had been able to reduce our imports on the one hand and increase our exports on the other by a mere one per cent, our visible trade would in fact have been in balance.
The "margin of error", if I can put it that way, is not all that great, particularly if you bear in mind our record over the last six years. During this time we have managed to increase our exports by more than 40 per cent.
I think you will agree -that as amateurs at the game which is what many people regard us, we are not doing as badly as some people would like to make out!
But it will be obvious to you, Gentlemen, that rather than tighten our belts and decrease our imports, we would infinitely prefer, if it is possible, to increase our exports, and this is what we are trying to do now and is one of my reasons for being here today.
We believe that it is in our mutual interests to build up as much trade as is possible between our two countries. For to put it at its crudest we can only afford to buy more from you if the rest of the world--and this includes Canada -buy more from us.
British exporters are not asking for any special favours, We still produce some of the best quality goods in the world, and this philosophy of maintaining the standard of quality and integrity, at all costs, is still true of many industries in Britain today. If only our salesmen can persuade people of the truth of this, and I have no doubt at all that they can, not only in Canada, but all over the world, then the economic outlook of Britain will be transformed overnight.
I would like, if I may, to leave you with one parting thought. You Gentlemen have an expression here known as "B" and "B". So incidentally have we. But at home it has a rather different interpretation.
It sums up, Mr. President, in three simple words, everything I have come here to tell you today. "B" and "B", as far as we are concerned, means this -"Bank on Britain".
by E. A. Royce.
Thanks of the meeting were expressed