Wilson calls for voting reform

A letter from Prime Minister Harold Wilson to Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Captain Terence O’Neill, December 23rd 1968 (PREM 13/2841)



SECRET December 23, 1968.

Thank you for your letter of December 6 following our discussions on November 4 and my letter of November 19.

I have studied what you say and have read your Government’s announcement of the measures you propose to take. I welcome these whole-heartedly. It must be the hope of all of us that they will be speedily brought into effect in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.

It will not, however, come as any surprise to you that my colleagues and I are disappointed that you have not so far felt able to announce a policy of early introduction of universal adult suffrage in local government elections. To us this seems to stand at the very heart of citizens’ rights, and I we believe we must discuss this again. I think it would in any case be valuable for us to meet again some time in the New Year, but I recognise that the timing of this must depend to some extent on developments in Northern Ireland. I shall be in touch with you again in the New Year.

I am grateful for what you say about the support of successive Governments here, and in turn my colleagues and I fully recognise, as I have said on a number of occasions in Parliament, the improvements which your administration is helping to bring about in the quality of life in the part of the United Kingdom in which the Northern Ireland Government has responsibility. That represents indeed a contribution to the life of the nation as a whole.

I have, as with our previous exchanges, marked this letter ‘secret’, but I would naturally expect you to feel free to show it to your colleagues.

Yours sincerely,
(SGD H.W.)

Captain The Rt. Hon Terence O’Neill, D.L., M.P.

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