HC Deb 24 July 1916 vol 84 c1322
52. Mr. DILLON

asked the Prime Minister who is at present in control of the Executive Government of Ireland; and who is responsible to this House for the Irish Executive?


The Civil Executive Government of Ireland is being administered by the Lords Justices acting under the general direction of His Majesty's Government conveyed through the Home Secretary. In accordance with constitutional precedent, when the office of Chief Secretary is unfilled, or there is no Chief Secretary in the Cabinet, the Home Secretary is responsible to this House for Irish Affairs. In military matters General Maxwell exercises the powers of General Officer Commanding in Ireland, which include, of course, the exceptional powers conferred on the military authorities by the Defence of the Realm Act.


Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the statement made on behalf of the Government on 11th July, to the following effect: I say with a certain amount of confidence that under the system which exists at this moment there ought not to be much fear of Ireland getting out of hand. General Sir John Maxwell is responsible for the conduct of Irish affairs, with, I believe, some 40,000 soldiers to support him, and with the control of the Royal Irish Constabulary in his hands. Lord Midleton asked me whether he would have a free hand. I am certainly not aware of any case in which his hands have been tied by any restrictions calculated to interfere with his authority or his freedom of action. There is no Lord Lieutenant. There is no Chief Secretary. There is no representative of the Irish Government in either House of Parliament. That was the declaration of Lord Lansdowne, made on behalf of the Government. How does the Prime Minister reconcile that declaration with the answer he has now given?


These are rather debatable points. My answer must be taken to be the opinion of the Government.