§ (1) The Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland set forth in the Schedule to this Act shall have the force of law as from the date of the passing of this Act.
§ (2) For the purpose of giving effect to Article 17 of the said Agreement, Orders in Council may be made transferring to the Provisional Government established under that Article the powers and machinery therein referred to, and as soon as may be after the passing of this Act the Parliament of Southern Ireland shall be dissolved and such steps shall be taken as may be necessary for holding, in accordance with the law now in force with respect to the franchise number of members and method of election and holding of elections to that Parliament, an election of members for the constituencies which would have been entitled to elect members to that Parliament, and the members so elected shall constitute the House of the Parliament to which the Provisional Government shall be responsible, and that Parliament shall, as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, have power to make laws in like manner as the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted.
§ (3) No writ shall be issued after the passing of this Act for the election of a member to serve in the Commons House of Parliament for a constituency in Ireland other than a constituency in Northern Ireland.
Amendment proposed [2nd March]: At the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words
Provided that for the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that the British Government, in consenting to and Parliament in approving Article 12 of the said Agreement, did not intend to agree to the transfer of the main area of any of the six counties of Northern Ireland to the territory of the Irish Free State, but only to such minor adjustments (if any) in the boundary between "Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, either in the one direction or the other, as might without economic injury either to Northern Ireland or the Irish Free State satisfy the desires of bodies of persons of homogeneous opinions in respect to their territorial situation."—[Lord Hugh Cecil.]
Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I have no wish this morning in any way to weary the Committee by labouring the point which I had brought to the attention of hon. Members at the moment when we reached 11 o'clock last night. I see we have only the privilege of having the Chief Secretary (Sir H. Greenwood) with us this morning, and I do not wish to bring any fresh charges against my right hon. Friend, nor do I wish to labour those I have already made, but I wish to remind the Committee that last night I called attention to the fact that this Amendment raises the very central point of what we resent as the breach of faith on the part of the Government with our friends in Northern Ireland, and not, of course, with them alone, but with this country, which is interested, if not quite as much, at all events to a very large extent, in what is a great imperial matter. I pointed out that the Government, as represented by the Colonial Secretary (Mr. Churchill), yesterday, had put forward as the only possible justification of what we complain of, a plea which is exactly the same as that which was put forward by the German Government for the violation of Belgian neutrality. That such a justification should be put forward is a humiliation, not merely, as I think, to the Government who made it, but to all of us, because, however much I may differ on a single point of policy with the Government of the day, after all, it is the Government of my country, and when the Government of my country use, in respect to a grave matter of public policy, precisely the same argument which we for years had criticised with the greatest possible severity and acerbity when adopted by a foreigner, that is a humiliation that falls upon all of us who do recognise them as the Government of our own country.
The course adopted by the Government with regard to this matter is rather significant. We have had, of course, several debates upon this subject. We debated it in December on the question of ratifying this so-called Treaty. We debated it upon the Second Reading of this Bill, and the matter, therefore, has been raised several times. Now what is the course which the Government have taken with a view to meeting these charges? Each time—I have refreshed my memory upon the point 729 —this breach of faith has been brought to their attention, the Government have passed it without dealing specifically with it in any way whatever. They have, of course, made a sort of general answer—"Look at the majority with which the Government policy has been endorsed, but there has been no specific attempt to meet the charges, and each time the matter is brought up, the House and the country have a sort of vague notion that these charges have been made before, that the matter has become familiar to them, but the precise way in which the matter has been handled has escaped the public memory, and the Government say, "Oh! that is a matter we discussed in December," and "That is a matter we discussed in January." That has been the answer given a hundred times, and so they have merely created the impression that each time the charges are repeated they have been repeated unfairly, and in the face of the refutation they have received in the past. That is entirely inaccurate, and I think it is well that we should bring as clearly as we can before the Committee and the public that those charges have not been refuted.
There is one point in this connection which is also very humiliating to some of us. We have been told by my right hon. Friend and other Members of the Government time after time, that whatever may be said of the past, the Irish gentlemen with whom they have been negotiating are now to be regarded as men of honour and truth, and we are expected to take that upon the assurances of the right hon. Gentleman. I notice when this particular matter was dealt with by Mr. Michael Collins he made a very definite statement to this effect. He said that Sir James Craig had been tricked by his own friends. I think that is a very humiliating thing to have said, coming from that quarter. Anybody who knows the warm-hearted, loyal, strong character of my friend Sir James Craig can understand what his feelings were when such a thing was said to him by Mr. Michael Collins. Sir James Craig has been a colleague of all the present Members of the Government. I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary will not deny that he was a very loyal adherent of the Government—
§ Mr. McNEILL
—that he served the Government to the very best of his ability, and was very loyal to its head and to all his colleagues. He is distinguished by the staunchness of his loyalty to his friends, and, under those circumstances, I can conceive nothing more bitter to such a man, going with the reluctance, which I am certain he must have felt, into consultation with Mr. Michael Collins for high public purposes, than that he should have to submit to being told that he had been tricked by those who were his old colleagues, and his old chief as head of the Government, and the chief bitterness must have lain in the fact that he was compelled to recognise that it was true that ht had been tricked, and he could not deny it. Now the same right hon. Gentlemen who are always telling us that Mr. Michael Collins is a man of honour and truth must, I suppose, be willing to accept this latest testimonial to their character from their new and distinguished friend.
I want to turn from that to call attention to quite a different point which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman, not, for the first time, and it is a very important one. The right hon. Gentleman has told us more than once that there is no hurry about this question. He said, "Why bother about the boundaries at the present time? The question will not arise for several months." It does not arise until, as I understand, some future Bill, which is to carry in the Schedule or something of the sort the constitution derived from Southern Ireland, of the Irish Free State, comes before this House for ratification. That is my impression. I am not sure whether it is correct, but I have gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that it is only when this Bill comes before the House that the question of boundaries will arise. In other words what he has told us, if I understand him rightly, is that the month referred to in paragraph 12 of this Bill, within which the Northern Parliament may pass an address taking themselves out of the Free State, will only begin to run after some subsequent Bill which we have not yet seen has received the Royal Assent. The Colonial Secretary confirms that impression.
731 I want now to pass from the great inconvenience of that course if what I have said be correct. Someone has brought out the fact, if it be a fact, that according to the right hon. Gentleman's timetable this very burning question to Ulster of boundaries may arise just about the 12th July. If that is so, if it arises either then or about the 15th August, I cannot imagine any date more unfortunate from the public point of view. But my point for the moment is quite a different one. I entirely challenge the view which has been put forward to the right hon. Gentleman. If the Committee will turn to Article 18 of the Schedule they will see this:This instrument shall be submitted forthwith by His Majesty's Government for the approval of Parliament and by the Irish signatories to a meeting summoned for the purpose of the Members elected to sit in the House of Commons of Southern Ireland, and if approved shall be ratified by the necessary legislation.Carrying that in one's mind, let us now turn to paragraph 12, which says:This instrument shall have effect subject to the necessary modifications.However, what I had in mind was that the right hon. Gentleman has told us that there is high legal authority for the proposition that the month from the moment of ratification does not run from this Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not quite follow the arguments of the hon. Gentleman. He appears now to be speaking as to the right of Ulster to be left out of the Bill. The Amendment before us presupposes that the contracting out has taken place, and the question as to exactly what the limits of the area contracted out shall be. He appears to me to be taking a point which arises later.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The point I had in my mind, I am not certain whether it is in order or not is this, the right hon. Gentleman told us we were premature in raising this question now; that it cannot arise until after some subsequent Bill has been brought before the House. I understand that to mean that if it were possible to make any change in the boundaries that that opportunity would come when the constitution of Southern Ireland is brought before the House in the subsequent Bill. Otherwise I do not quite see the relevance of the way the right 732 hon. Gentleman has met our Amendment by repeating what he said before, that we were too soon. It is only in order to deal with that point raised by the right hon. Gentleman that I challenge altogether his reading of this Treaty. What was in my mind was Article 11, which says:Until the expiration of one month from the passing of the Act of Parliament for the ratification of this instrument.This is the Bill for the ratification of this instrument. I understand the right hon. Gentleman challenges that, and he tells us of high legal authority for his opinion. I presume that he must mean the law officers of the Crown. I can only say that I myself have taken legal opinion which I think quite equal to that of the law officers of the Crown. I am advised that that is an entirely false reading. It is a matter of the actual interpretation of an Act of Parliament. If the Northern Parliament allows more than a month to run from the passing of this Bill they may find themselves out of date. Whether that is correct or not, it shows that there is very grave doubt upon that as upon other matters. The whole of this document we are considering is so ambiguous that no one can with confidence say what its interpretation may be in any clause.
It is, however, quite clear that the view I am putting forward is the most apparent and struck the most of us when we read this document, and it is certainly supported by very high legal authority. I do not think it is at all necessary for us here to offer any advice to our friends in Northern Ireland. They are quite wary enough, but if I were to offer any advice to my friend Sir James Craig it would need to be very careful not to allow the month to pass after the passing of this Act, and I hope he will so act. This whole matter we are discussing of this Amendment is the real central controversy which has arisen in regard to this Treaty, apart from its general aspect of surrender to the forces of disloyalty. It has been made clear already in the various debates, and I therefore need not dwell upon it, that again the difficulty arises from ambiguity of the terms employed. I do not know—I do not suppose anybody knows—whether the ambiguity is a deliberate and studied ambiguity or whether it is merely the negligence of the signa- 733 tories to an important legal document in the middle of the night, after prolonged negotiations and investigations, tired and weary statesmen, not knowing what they were doing, in the small hours of the morning, putting their hands to a document which, when it comes to be considered, is seen in every clause to be bristling with ambiguities. We are, of course, met on this point, as on every other point, by the one and only plea that the Government have in their armoury, and that is that the thing is done, "we have done it, and we cannot undo it." If that be true—and for the moment I will not contest it—if it be true that here we have ambiguity on a matter of the very greatest possible concern to two populations—the Government admit that ambiguity, because they will not make an absolute pronouncement as to its meaning—not even the Attorney-General dealt with it—that, I say, is the most complete condemnation of what they have done, whether they can undo it or not. It is the duty of governments not to be ambiguous. It is the duty of any government, when they have distinguished legal ability at their disposal, either in drawing up important treaties or Acts of Parliament, to draw them up in such a way that they will be understood. I do not know whether the ordinary rules of interpreting Acts of Parliament will apply to the Commission which is to be set up under this 12th Article. I do not suppose the Chief Secretary can give me any answer. I do not suppose that he knows, but if he does not then he should have somebody here to answer who does know.
It is treating these matters with a great lack of courtesy and seriousness that when important legal points are likely to be raised we have no Minister present to whom we can look for a decisive answer. It is well known that when an Act of Parliament is cited before a court of law the judge will not take into consideration anything but the actual language of the Statute. If counsel desires to impress upon the court a certain interpretation of the Statute, and if he ventures to refer the judge to the OFFICIAL REPORT, the judge will hold that he is not entitled to look at the intention of the Legislature, but to what has actually been done. Is that rule to be followed by the Commission to be set up or not? If so, it makes the gravity of the case very much greater. 734 It might be some alleviation of the grievance if we can be told that when the question of boundaries comes before the Commission that the declarations of the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) which were repeated by my right hon. Friend yesterday, could go before the Commission, and if the Commission were entitled to take them into consideration before interpreting the actual phraseology of the Article, that would go some way towards relieving our anxiety. I am very much afraid, however, that if some distinguished judge is appointed, as probably will be the case, he will naturally feel that he is constrained to apply to this particular work the same canons of interpretation which he is expected to apply in the courts day by day. If that be so, we shall not have placed before the Commission the declarations of the Government as to their intentions or the evidence as to what was the intention of this House when it ratified the Treaty, but we shall have the bare terms of Clause 12 put before a judicial tribunal.
Anybody who knows the facts must know that under the terms of Article 12 there are various interpretations, all equally plausible, if you take the bare terms. The real difficulty arises when it says "the wishes of the inhabitants." That is a slack phrase which has no precise meaning. Does it mean the inhabitants of Ireland as a whole, or the inhabitants of different counties bordering on the border, and if so, why? Counties are quite an arbitrary unit to take for arriving at the wishes of the inhabitants. If you take unions, town lands or baronies which are well-known divisions of land in Ireland, they are all arbitrary to select for this particular purpose, and yet if you do not have some recognised unit of administrative area it is impossible to give effect to the intention of this Article as it was represented to the House by the Prime Minister and other Members of the Government. I do not know whether the Tribunal will feel justified in travelling outside the borders of administrative areas and drawing an arbitrary line through this Union, that barony, or that town land, so as to take in Catholics on the one side or Protestants on the other. That is what we understand the intention to be, but we have 735 no sort of security that such a method will be adopted by the Commission.
This difficulty is made greater when we find that the two main currents of interpretation are adopted on the one side by our own Government, and on the other side by those whom the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday were regarded as the representatives of all Ireland or the Irish nation. I need not refer again to the statements which our own Government have made, but I noticed a very significant article in an Irish newspaper the other day as showing what, at all events, is the intention of the people in Ireland itself. The article appeared in "The Republic of Ireland," which. I understand is the recognised organ of Mr. de Valera's group in Southern Ireland. The writer was arguing against the views of Mr. Michael Collins and the supporters of the Treaty, and the purport of the article was to make as strong a case as possible against the Treaty, upon the ground that it meant the partition of Ireland and sacrificing a considerable portion of it from the Free State. Therefore it was the view of the writer to make the sacrifice as large as possible and if he could have pointed out that nine counties were sacrificed from what they regarded as a united Ireland, he would have done so. It is very significant that the highest case he felt entitled to make was that Mr. Collins had sacrificed three and a half counties, and that shows what is the view, as I think, of the Republican Section and the Free State section. It shows the difference between the views and the expectation entertained by one side of negotiators and the other side, who have been making their declarations before us.
Under these circumstances, I think the Committee can well understand that it is a matter which must cause the very gravest anxiety to those of us in the North of Ireland who know something of the temper with which it will be regarded in that part of the country. The Government have, time after time, based the justification of their proceedings upon the majority which was given in this House, first of all in December, and then on the Second Reading of this Bill, and they have laid great stress upon the apparent approval of the evidence which they have brought forward in favour of their policy 736 in other parts of the world. I am not now going to argue that question, although a great deal could be said upon it as to how these congratulatory messages were obtained. I do not say they were improperly obtained, but they were very hastily obtained, and the opinion upon which the Government laid so much stress in Ireland, as indicating approval of their policy, was certainly not the considered opinion of the Empire at large after full information as to what had been done.
I know that there are already very significant signs that a very different opinion is likely to prevail. I have had many communications myself, especially from Canada, and I am afraid that in Canada, as the terms of the Treaty and its implications become more widely known, there will be a very serious reaction of opinion, and the very large body of opinion in Canada, so far from being ready to congratulate the Government, are ready to express their deep disgust at the way in which this matter has been treated. What with regard to our own country? I am glad to see that my hon. and gallant Friend, the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Colonel L. Wilson), has just come into the Committee. I do not know whether he can give us any enlightenment as to the present feeling in this country. The entrance of my hon. and gallant Friend was exceedingly opportune, because I was just wondering whether this Treaty which the Government claim has brought them such tremendous and overpowering support—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is getting a little wide of the declaratory Clause which we are now discussing.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The Government claim that the whole of this Treaty, including this particular Article, has the approval not only of the electorate of this country, but also of the Empire at large, and I want to point out that there are 6trong indications of dissatisfaction with the Government policy, and that this particular Article, in my opinion, has had more to do than anything else with that dissatisfaction. I certainly will not go into that matter in view of your ruling, but those of us who read our newspapers and hear the talk in the Lobby do not 737 require any assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury that all is not well.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It would be out of order for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury to give any assurance, well or ill.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I will not pursue the matter any further. I have said enough already to indicate what is in my mind, and all that I would say, in conclusion, is that that tendency to which I have just referred is not likely to diminish as the knowledge of this Treaty spreads.
§ Captain DIXON
I want to draw the attention of the Committee to the position of Northern Ireland and the Government of Northern Ireland in this matter. It will be agreed that this Bill was to be passed by the House of Commons in order to bring peace to Ireland. I do not think that it has brought peace to Ireland, and I wish to show that the murders and outrages which have been committed in Ireland are entirely due to the Ministers who sit on that Front Bench.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask the hon. and gallant Member to connect his argument with the question of the Boundary Commission.
§ Captain DIXON
I was coming to it. I wish to show how it is entirely in connection with the Boundary Commission that all this bad feeling exists in Ireland today. I think I can prove to the satisfaction of the Committee that the whole question of the Boundary Commission was founded on a breach of faith and on a falsehood, and that that state of affairs still continues in this House. We had a most extraordinary statement last night from my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, who said:The reason, as is well known, is that we were negotiating with men whom, for good or for ill, rightly or wrongly, we decided to consider as representing the Irish nation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1922; col. 642, Vol. 151.]About 48 hours before that, the Prime Minister gave this signed statement, which was read out in the Northern Ireland House of Commons:By Tuesday next either negotiations with Sinn Fein will have broken down or the Prime Minister will send me new proposals for consideration by the Cabinet. In the meantime the rights of Ulster will be in no way sacrificed or compromised.738 Does that recognise the rights of the Ulster people to have a say in any agreement which touches their boundaries? I ask the Colonial Secretary that for a very particular reason. We who are now endeavouring to govern a small part of Ireland find the greatest difficulty in controlling our own people. I will tell you why. They have stated in public that "Sir James Craig," our leader, "is the footstool of Mr. Lloyd George." How can we gain the confidence of our people if such statements are made?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. and gallant Member's speech would be perfectly in order on the Second Reading of the Bill, or, perhaps, on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," but it is really not in order on this Amendment.
§ Captain DIXON
I bow to your ruling, but this boundary question is so big that it covers the whole area. All I can say is that it is quite useless for the Colonial Secretary to ask us and to ask Mr. Collins to come to an agreement on this subject when neither of us has any idea how wide is the subject. I personally, with the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, met Mr. Collins on this subject. I am not going to disclose anything that occurred at that meeting, but I am allowed to refer to what Mr. Collins said in the paper afterwards and to state here that a map was sent broadcast throughout the whole of the North of Ireland showing the actual pieces of Ulster which Mr. Collins stated the Prime Minister had promised to the Free State, including the city of Londonderry, Newry, Tyrone, and Fermanagh.
§ Captain DIXON
I listen very often to my hon. and gallant Friend, but he does not often listen to me. I am at liberty to say that I met Mr. Collins, that I have seen these maps, that Mr. Collins has never told us anything that was not true, and that I think Mr. Collins believed what he said when he told us that the Prime Minister had promised him this. I believe he said it in earnestness and that he and his people believed it. Our people and the people of England at the present moment believe that we were tricked by the Prime Minister. Undoubtedly, we were sold by the Prime Minister, and I defy the Colonial Secretary to say that we were not. We know that so far we 739 have not been tricked by Mr. Collins, and, until it is denied by the Colonial Secretary and the Prime Minister, we must believe that these things were promised to Mr. Collins. What is the position? We are asked to go into a Boundary Commission on which there will be one on each side, but who is going to appoint the Chairman? Of course, the Prime Minister. If we accepted such a Commission we should be driven out of public life in Northern Ireland, and rightly so. What is the opinion of the people of Northern Ireland and of the whole of Ireland of the Ministerial Front Bench? They believe that if you searched among them with the light of a candle you could not find an honest man.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That has nothing to do with the boundary question. If the hon. Member's argument had any relevance at all to the Clause, it would come in on the next Amendment.
§ Captain DIXON
I am dealing only with the facts with reference to this Boundary Commission. I want the Committee to have a clear statement as to what that Commission is. People in my own country believe what the people in England say, but they do not believe what the Bill says, and therefore they want a clear statement.
§ Mr. DONALD
I wish to say a few words in support of what has fallen from my colleagues on this very vexed boundary question. I agree with the hon. Member who last spoke that this is the central point of the whole Bill. Have these boundaries not been well managed in the past, or are they not up-to-date. In my judgment, if we got from the Government not the six counties, but the nine counties in Ulster, we would only be receiving our just rights. The British Government are going to give not only 26 counties to the Provisional Government, but they want to nibble off parts of our six counties to give to those who supported Germany during the war. If there is one thing above all we like in Ireland it is fair, straight and honest dealing. We have made up our minds that we will not submit to the taking away of one inch of these six counties. You may pass this Bill if you like, but as far as I am concerned, if I had my way in the Northern Parliament, of which I 740 am a member, I would absolutely ignore this or any other Government which came to us and said that we were automatically included in the Southern part of Ireland and would therefore be handed over to it. That is the policy of a weak-kneed and frightened Government. I want to refer to a very important question raised by the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas), who pointed out that the trouble in Southern Ireland was that there were three sections there. I agree with him, and I see the very great danger—
§ The CHAIRMAN
This again may be relevant to a Second Reading debate, but it cannot come in on this Amendment.
§ Mr. DONALD
I was going to point out that I am as anxious for peace in my own country as anyone in this Committee, but while there are three sections of people as at present there is not much chance of it. I could perfectly well understand an alteration of boundaries merely on the ground of some geographical expansion, but I would say to my hon. Friends opposite, suppose we agree to their taking part of Tyrone, Fermanagh or Derry, that would not settle the Irish question. The Members on the Labour Benches have proved themselves the only consistent people with regard to the whole of this business, because they have stood up for Sinn Fein throughout the whole campaign. I am afraid that if we agreed to an alteration of boundaries, trade unionists would begin differentiating against the Roman Catholics in the North—
§ Mr. DONALD
If the hon. Member for the Falls Division is referring to expelled workers, he has never made a bigger mistake. The only men expelled were those who took the place of our boys when they went out to fight the battles of this country. I want that to be quite clearly understood in this House.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That, again, is not in order. I must deprecate interruptions by the hon. Member for the Falls Division. It is not likely that the City of Belfast will be near any boundary that can be possibly drawn by the Commission.
§ Mr. DONALD
I wish to confine myself, to the boundary question without being 741 interrupted. I do not usually take up very much of the time of this House, but there is one thing I have learned during the three years I have been here studying the position, and that is that, generally speaking, it is not with the Government a question of principle first; it is a question of how much sham and untruth they can put upon our country. What has the Chief Secretary himself said with reference to what these people are doing in Ireland—I call it a deliberate organised conspiracy to smash the British Empire.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must really ask the hon. Member to look at the Amendment. The only question is a proposal with regard to the boundaries.
§ Mr. DONALD
Quite so, Sir. I will conclude in a few moments by saying that, as far as the boundary question is concerned, the Northern Parliament will settle that. The people of Northern Ireland will settle it. The people for whom I speak will settle it.
§ Mr. DONALD
We do not. We are pretty certain of ourselves in this matter. If there is one thing I admire in connection with the Colonial Secretary, it is his courage. He has told us he would not tolerate a Republic. But what have we in Ireland to-day? Will he show me in Southern Ireland where the Union Jack flies?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do trust that the hon. Member will endeavour to keep within the bounds of order. I should be very sorry indeed if I were compelled to request him to resume his seat.
§ Mr. DONALD
I should not have taken part in the Debate at all but for this question of boundaries. It is only necessary to be amongst the people, as we are, to know the great difficulties with which we have to contend. My hon. and gallant Friend was quite right when he said that the greatest credit is due to our Prime Minister and the Northern Government for keeping our people in order with regard to this very question. As I have said before, the boundary question, in spite of this Bill, will settle itself in due course, and I ignore entirely this Treaty Bill. We in Ulster, who have continued to do our part for this country, are now 742 being told that more of our territory is going to be taken, and that it is going to be made impossible for us to carry on.
§ 12 N.
§ Lieut.-Colonel CROFT
The point with regard to boundaries appears to me to be the pivot of this question. I only want to make two points, but I think they are very important. First of all, I believe I am right in saying that every party in the House of Commons interpreted the Prime Minister's statement here as meaning that in no circumstances whatever were any territories of any size going to be taken from the Northern Parliament of Ulster. No one can forget what the Prime Minister said, and it gave the impression here, as clearly as it could possibly be given, that there was to be just a little adjustment of villages here, or towns there, or alteration of frontiers by mutual agreement, but that in no circumstances whatever, as I understood it, was there to be any encroachment upon the integrity of the Ulster Counties. Now there is a tremendous discrepancy. We have the statement of Mr. Collins, to which reference has already been made, and which gives the impression that he and his co-signatories thought that they were going to take large tracts of territory from the Northern Parliament, whereas, on the other hand, we have the specific undertaking which the Prime Minister gave here. My reason for thinking it to be vital that these words should be included in the Bill is that, unless they are included, there is really a breach of faith with the House of Commons. Whichever way we look at the question, although the Government have had all the time the support of the Liberal party and the Labour party, I do not believe the Conservative party—I am not now speaking of those who voted against the Treaty—I do not believe there is one member of the Conservative party who would have voted with the Government if they had imagined for one moment that the territory which was granted to Ulster under the Act was to be in any way infringed. This question is a very big one. On the general question of the Irish Agreement there have been varying views, and I think it is true to say that a large section of the Conservative party are extremely anxious to go to any length in order to secure what they hoped might be peace, but on one subject they are pledged up to the hilt. 743 There has never been any variation in the determination that the territory granted under that Act of Parliament should in no way be altered or even discussed. We have this great danger. It is obvious that if the people of Ulster find that under this Boundary Commission great inroads are to be made on their territory, they will resist it, and they will be right, because they have the sanction of Parliament under the existing Act, which has told them what their territory is; and it is monstrous to suppose that you can get peace by trying to take away that which you have granted of your own free will and which has been accepted as a bargain. The Amendment of the Noble Lord in no way alters the spirit of the Agreement, and I venture to hope that the Government will not press the matter to a Division.
If this matter is made clear, half the difficulties are out of the way, but if you are going to proceed with a policy which leads to uncertainty, you are inevitably going to build up a greater state of chaos on the question of the boundaries between the two Parliaments, and are not going to lead to peace. Although personally I believe the Colonial Secretary is really an ardent advocate of peace, he could not, had he been advised by those who desire to see chaos and continuous hostility between the two nations of Ireland, have gone about it much better than to have allowed this thing to creep into the Bill when we had pledged our word of honour to the people of Northern Ireland that their territory would remain as decided under the recent Act. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see the force of this. It is impossible to hope for any sort of peace so long as the people of Ulster are under this threat—because it is a threat—to take from them what they only agreed to out of a spirit of patriotism. I feel very strongly that, if the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues insist on refusing any measure of protection such as is included in this Amendment, it can only mean that we shall have far more serious troubles even than exist at the present moment. I hope, if the Government will not give way, that everyone who has ever given a pledge to Ulster such as was given in the recent Act, will take their courage in both hands and go into the 744 Lobby against the Government. There cannot be any temporising on this question. Our individual honour is concerned, since we have given that pledge to one of the most loyal sections of the whole British Empire.
§ Mr. R. McLAREN
It is rather difficult for one who is not an Irishman to speak upon Irish affairs, but I trust the Committee will bear with me while I give my views on this question of boundaries. It is true that, as the Secretary of State for the Colonies has said, nothing can be done to alter the Treaty, but it rather startled me to think that the Bill which is to be passed to carry out the provisions of the Treaty could not be altered in the least in order to make the Treaty itself easily understandable by the man in the street. I think the whole matter turns on the question of boundaries. I have heard here repeated statements from hon. Members from Ulster that, as far as they were concerned, they did not wish to leave the British Parliament. They were anxious to remain British subjects. I have also heard them state that if this Government wished them to set up a Parliament of their own in the North, they would adopt it and do their best. In connection with the Bill of 1920, everyone thought that the question of boundaries was finally settled. Section two mentioned the various counties which would come under the jurisdiction of the Northern Government, and it must have surprised very many supporters of the Government to learn, in connection with the Treaty, that Article 12 distinctly stated that the question of the boundaries would be reopened. In my own district, when I was there last, I was asked repeatedly, not by Irish people but by supporters of the Government, what the Government meant by going back, as they said, upon their word in connection with the boundary question. I was unable to tell them exactly why it was. The feeling amongst the people in my own district is that in some way or other Ulster has not been fairly treated, and they reason this way. They say that the question of the boundaries was expected to be settled for ever after the passing of the Bill, and notwithstanding that we find that a treaty is entered into between representatives of Southern Ireland and representatives of the Government whereby the whole 745 question is to be reopened. But more than that, it is distinctly stated that in order to get the Treaty passed certain promises were made to Mr. Collins and Mr. Griffith that, if they would consent to accept the Treaty as drawn up, on the other hand they would give them Fermanagh and Tyrone. That is what is being stated, and one is at a loss to understand why we get no statement from the Government as to whether it is true or not.
The people have good reason to think that something has been said leading Mr. Collins and Mr. Griffith to believe that they would receive a big share of the Ulster area else Mr. Collins would never have told Sir James Craig that Fermanagh and Tyrone, together with other parts of Ireland, were to be given to the South of Ireland, and something must have been said to give Michael Collins and his colleagues reason to believe that they were to receive a large share of the territories belonging to the North of Ireland. Notwithstanding what may be said by the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin), who yesterday contradicted my hon. Friend the Member for Springburn (Mr. Macquisten), everyone who knows Ireland—and I know Ireland—I have lived there, I have relatives there, and I have studied the Home Rule question ever since it began—knows perfectly well that there are two distinct races. They are unlike in religion, they are unlike in character, in disposition and in outlook, and you may talk till Doomsday but you can never alter human nature, and so long as this question of the boundary is kept before the people there will be no peace in Ireland. It is a great pity that in order to get the Treaty any promise of any kind was made to touch the boundaries. I am in favour of the Treaty and I take the same stand as my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law). I think it is a pity that, after this thing was settled by the Home Rule Act of 1920, the question of the boundaries ever entered into the contract, and the sooner the Government realises that something should be done to settle the matter the better it will be for the country and for all concerned. I cannot understand the position the Government takes up in connection with this Amendment. Surely something might be said in the Bill to make clear 746 what is really meant in connection with Article 12, and there is no reason whatever why the Government should hesitate to accept an Amendment which will help them in the matter of the Treaty, because, as far as I can learn from those who are better judges than myself, it is full of ambiguities, and the sooner we get the grips the better. The Government has done nothing more to alienate the support the, country gave them at the last Election than they have done in connection with the boundaries. It would have been far better to leave the whole thing alone and settle the question on a proper basis whereby fair play was given to the Ulster people.
§ Mr. LYNN
I do not wish to import any heat into the discussion, but 14 months ago this House made an honourable bar gain with the Ulster Members. We had no desire to see a Parliament established in Northern Ireland. We wanted to remain here, but in the interests of peace we agreed to the setting up of a Parliament, on the distinct understanding that we were to get the six counties. The ink is scarcely dry on the Act of Parliament when the Prime Minister repudiates the bargain he has made with this House and this House has made with us. I am not surprised at the Prime Minister—I have studied his methods very carefully for years—but I am surprised at the Unionist Members of the Cabinet who agreed to this breach of faith. This is more than a political question; it is a question of honour, and no man of honour—I do not care to which party he belongs—can go back on the bargain he made in 1920. The Colonial Secretary—and I have great sympathy with him—said yesterday that, convenient or inconvenient, the Government was going through with the Treaty. That means to say that the Government, or rather a section of the Government, in the small hours of the morning, when their courage had oozed out, and probably some of the guns were peeping out of Mr. Michael Collins's pocket, agreed to repudiate the bargain they had made 14 months ago. Why repudiate that bargain, and be so loyal to the bargain you made with the Sinn Feiners? Are your friends always to be sacrificed in order to placate your enemies? That is exactly what you are going to do.
Then the Colonial Secretary, in philosophical mood, says "Why worry about 747 this now? It will take months before it is settled." I hope the Committee realises what it means if this question be not settled for months. The South will be trying to drive people into Tyrone and Fermanagh in order to get a majority, or a larger majority, and we on the other hand will be resisting that, and will be driving them back. Does the Colonial Secretary think that is going to make for peace? There is no Member in the Committee more anxious for peace than I am. I have made great sacrifices for peace. The line the Government has taken is not going to make for peace, but for civil war, and every day this thing is held back will simply mean that the situation will become worse. If we are not going to settle it for two months, when probably the Colonial Secretary hopes we shall settle it in the way the Kilkenny cats settled their difference—and it is very probable that that is the way it will happen—is that going to make for peace, is it going to make for cooperation between North and South, is it going to tone down the differences that undoubtedly exist between Protestant and Catholic?
I think the Government in this boundary question has done the most' foolish thing it could possibly do. I know there are some hon. Members who think, wrongly, that we want to destroy the Treaty, and that we are not anxious for peace. There is no section of the House that is more anxious for peace than we are, but it must be peace with honour, and this is not peace with honour. Surely hon. Members must know that the Prime Minister left the impression—I do not say he said it in so many words; hon. Members opposite know the Prime Minister better than I know him—but I should say that what happened was this, that a map was produced, and I would like the Colonial Secretary to say whether it was prepared by the Sinn Feiners, or by people in the employment of the Government. Anyhow, a map was prepared, and it was coloured, I presume—indeed, it was, because I have seen it—orange and green, and I can imagine the Prime Minister looking at this map and suggesting to Michael Collins, "If you will only agree to this Agreement, which we, the Government, call a Treaty, you will get the part that is marked green." I do not know whether the Colonial 748 Secretary has seen the map recently, but he must have seen it during the discussion.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend must know that that has been denied most insistently again and again.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No. Numbers of maps were produced—they were on the wall—but that any promise or undertaking was made to Mr. Collins by the Prime Minister that the counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone, or the City of Londonderry would be handed over to them—is absolutely untrue, and has been repeatedly denied.
§ Mr. LYNN
I know exactly the point. I have discussed it with Sir James Craig from his point of view, and I know that the Prime Minister left the impression on him that the boundaries were not to be altered, except for a townland here or a farm there, and so on. He left that impression on Sir James Craig, and Sir James Craig is not a stupid man. He is a man who knows exactly what is said to him, and I know that was the impression left on him. I hope the Colonial Secretary has read the signed statements by Mr. Collins and Sir James Craig. The one says he was left under the impression that he was to get large slices of this Northern area, and the other says he was left under the impression that nothing was to be altered except straightening the boundaries—in fact, that the boundary line was to be like Euclid's line, length without breadth. I do not know how the Colonial Secretary is going to justify that. What I ask the Committee—because I do not appeal to the Government; the Government will do anything that expediency dictates—but I appeal to the Committee, for the sake of its honour, to stick to the bargain that was made in 1920. Even if you make a bargain, and it is to your own hurt, I think you ought honourably to abide by it. That is one of the things they do not understand on the Treasury Bench, but this House has always understood it in the past, and is going to respect it now. This House will stick to its honourable bargain. You have made an honourable bargain with us, and I appeal 749 to the Committee in honour. No man who values his honour can vote against the bargain made in 1920, and therefore hon. Members ought to support the Amendment.
§ Major HILLS
Those of us who support and have supported the Treaty feel in some difficulty over this question. I intend to vote against the Amendment, but I want, if I may be allowed, to explain to the Committee why. I believe that you cannot alter this Treaty, but that you can only accept or reject it, and I am not prepared to take the responsibility of voting for the rejection of the Treaty before I know what would be the consequences of that action. I want, however, to say this, that when the Bill of 1920 was before the House I did not want the boundaries of Northern Ireland to be what they were. I wanted a different boundary, and the House decided against me and in favour of the Bill. I did not think that a right boundary, and I do not think it is right now, but, since the House has decided, I see the very difficult position which hon. Members from Northern Ireland are placed in when they do not know whether this paragraph in the Treaty means a partition of Northern Ireland or merely a readjustment of the boundaries of Northern Ireland. The two things are totally distinct. A partition is one thing, and a readjustment of boundaries is quite another thing. A Boundary Commission to take a bit here or cut out a bit there, and a plan for cutting up the whole of Northern Ireland, as I have seen stated in the Press, are two entirely different operations. Would it not be well if we could get some interpretation of this Treaty? I am convinced that a partition treaty is not intended and that partition is not accorded by Article 12 of this Treaty. I will not weary the Committee with arguing that, but I will say this, that had partition been intended, the words would have been very different, and a different machinery would have been set up.
Everybody who wants peace must regret that this very difficult question has arisen. When Sir James Craig and Mr. Michael Collins first met and agreed, as I thought and hoped they had agreed, to settle this question in a way which all the world would have accepted, I confess that I rejoiced, and I felt that a new state of things altogether had arisen. I do not 750 believe the subsequent breakdown was due to any fault of Sir James Craig, who, I believe, was perfectly prepared to go on with the bargain, and I must assume also that Mr. Michael Collins at the first interview was quite prepared to go on with the bargain, in the same sense as was Sir James Craig. I do not much believe that we shall get peace by putting this off. I have fought for a settlement of this kind for a long time past, and I have advocated what is in effect a treaty or something like it at a time when that attitude was very unpopular in this House, but I feel now that we have passed the Act of 1920. For good or for bad, it is on the Statute Book, and we should be travelling a very difficult and dangerous path if we allowed it to be understood that what was passed by this Parliament less than two years ago could be undone. I do not believe the difficulty is really so great as it appears. I believe that the true interpretation of the Treaty is what hon. Members for Northern Ireland represent, but I think this uncertainty is the most disastrous thing, and I believe that a statement from the Government would go a long way towards healing the matter.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I welcome the speech to which we have just listened as an indication that one who is a supporter of the Government, and an advocate of peace with Ireland, has wakened to a sense of the great danger to peace in that country arising from the existence of this boundary Article. He would be glad to see this grave danger removed, as we all should be, and he makes an appeal, which I hope will not fall upon unheeding ears, that the Government should find some way of ridding us of this great danger which threatens us, not, as the Colonial Secretary says, three or four months hence, but which threatens us to-day, and which, if we are to deal with it, must be dealt with to-day. The Colonial Secretary, in his speech yesterday, referred, in language not in the least degree too strong, to the extraordinary gravity and embarrassment of the boundary question, but what was his contribution towards a solution of this position of extraordinary embarrassment? He said he was in a position of absolute hopelessness and helplessness, that he could not do a thing, could not make a suggestion, to get us 751 out of this danger; and, be it remembered, unless the Amendment of my Noble Friend (Lord Hugh Cecil) be accepted, the whole responsibility for this helplessness, this inability to get out of the situation, lies with the Government themselves and with no one else. They have brought us to this impasse, and it is for them to get us out of it, as I think they could, with a little ingenuity and a little foresight.
May I call the attention of the Committee to what are the admitted, or at least the undeniable, facts of the case? In the first place, no one disputes that the Boundary Clause in its present form is a grave violation of pledges repeatedly given by the Government, not only to Ulster, but to Parliament and to the electorate of this country. No one now disputes that under the terms of this Boundary Clause it will be possible for an independent and capable chairman or commissioner to take large slices out of the guaranteed territory of Ulster and hand them over to Southern Ireland. But we have also the declaration of the Colonial Secretary, following on that of the Prime Minister and others, that such a thing was quite removed from their contemplation, that when they signed this Treaty they had no intention of taking large slices out of Ulster. No one has ventured to get up in the House during the Second Beading of the Bill, or at any other time, to suggest that Parliament intended that this should be more than a mere readjustment of boundaries. There was no intention on the part of Parliament, when it passed the Second Reading, to allow large slices to be taken out of the territory of Ulster. In view of these admitted facts, the Noble Lord has come forward with an Amendment which, if accepted, would get the Government out of the difficulty. It is an Amendment which seeks only to put on the Treaty an interpretation that is the true interpretation of the Government, as it is the true interpretation by Parliament. If that Amendment is accepted, we shall at once give it an effect, by Act of Parliament and not by a statement of a Minister here—which is no good—that will be binding on the Commission, as to what is the true intention of the Government and the House. Further, we should avoid what I think we all earnestly desire to avoid, and that is 752 that it should ever be made a legitimate charge against the Government that they have been guilty of a deliberate breach of faith to the constituencies. More than that, we should avoid the grave danger, which the hon. Member for Woodvale (Mr. Lynn) has told us exists, not merely of some passing dissatisfaction but of civil war. Supposing the Amendment is accepted, who could object? Certainly not the Government, because it would be only giving effect to their expressed intentions. Certainly not this House of Commons, because it would be giving effect to their admitted desire and admitted intention when they passed the Second Reading. Will the Colonial Secretary say it will be objected to by Mr. Michael Collins and those acting with him? I cannot believe it possible.
During the Second Reading I made a suggestion to the Government. The Prime Minister was present, but I do not know whether he paid much attention to my suggestion, and I will repeat it. My suggestion was that the Government should go to Mr. Michael Collins and the other delegates and say, fairly and candidly, how the matter rested, namely, that this Article has been agreed to by the Members of the Government, not with the intention of taking slices out of Ulster territory, but simply in order to readjust the boundaries. They could also point out to Mr. Collins, what, no doubt, he and his associates already know, that the Government could not, without breach of faith, have sanctioned taking large slices out of Ulster territory. They would say to Mr. Michael Collins: "You as an honourable man cannot ask us to commit a breach of faith; you cannot insist upon our committing a breach of faith." Under those circumstances, Mr. Collins, as an honourable man, would surely say: "I see your position, I see that something has slipped into this Treaty which is capable of an interpretation you never meant, and Parliament does not desire, and I therefore accept your view, and we and those who act with us will assent to putting a Clause into this Bill to carry out your intentions." I do not know whether the Government have paid any attention to my suggestions. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary can tell us whether any suggestion on those lines was made to Mr. Michael Collins or any of those acting with him, and, if so made, whether any objection 753 was raised. Could Mr. Collins have raised any valid objection, and did he raise any valid objection? I think I am entitled to ask that from the Colonial Secretary, not only in the interests of honourable action in this House, but to enable Mr. Michael Collins and his friends to act honourably. I hope it is not too late for the Government to extricate themselves from this very grave embarrassment and persuade the members of Dail Eireann to do this. It might be said to-day with truth, "If you accept this situation, not only will you do an act of justice to Ulster—to your fellow-countrymen in Ireland—but you will clear the road for peace in Ireland, peace in Southern Ireland and peace in Northern Ireland, which you all profess ardently to desire." Be that as it may, whether Mr. Collins and those who act with him, accept and gladly accept, as they should, this Amendment to the Bill, it is our duty here today to do so. We, as a United Kingdom Parliament, are bound to give effect to the desires and intentions of the Members of this Parliament, and by so doing and by accepting this Amendment, we shall avoid what would otherwise be a stain not only upon the honour of the Government, but upon the honour of Parliament itself.
I agree with the object of this Amendment, and I believe Ulster has an undeniable claim for better treatment and for some recognition of her grievance which was singularly lacking in the speech of the Colonial Secretary last night. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Durham (Major Hills) with whom I generally find myself in agreement, says he is going to vote against this Amendment. I feel in a state of doubt. I do not think it is possible to support the Government unless they are going to do something to meet the honourable obligation to Ulster, which we understood was secured when the previous phases of this Agreement were being discussed in this House. When the Colonial Secretary was speaking on the Second Reading of this Bill, he was asked:What about the pledges that Ulster would be called in before her interests were in any way interfered with?He answered:I will deal with that when I come to it.He never did deal with it; there was not a word about it, and there was not a 754 word about Ulster's claim in his speech last night to satisfy us on that particular point. It seems to me the Government must tell us more than they have so far told us. It is not fair to put it on the House always to find a way out of an impossible position and to take the choice between breaking one or other of two promises. I do not, however, like the way of dealing with the matter which is suggested in this Amendment. It does not seem to me, at the present time, advisable that we should modify the Treaty or force our interpretation of Article 12 upon the other party without consulting them and without their consent. After all, in this case there is not very great urgency. The vote of Ulster can only take place a month after the Bill dealing with the constitution is passed.
My hon. and gallant Friend says Ulster does not agree to it, but, at any rate, the Government so far tell us that this vote can only take place after the second Bill and not after this Bill. If that be so, there is still a good deal of time, and I suggest as an alternative method of dealing with this point and a method by which you could avoid forcing your interpretation of the Treaty on the other party without consulting them, that this matter should be dealt with by Order in Council. I have an Amendment down with two of my hon. Friends that the terms of reference of the Boundary Commission and the Chairman should be specified in an Order in Council, and that Order in Council, with all other Orders in Council under this Bill, should be laid before this House for 14 days, so that we might have an opportunity of objecting to them, if we consider that the interpretation of the Government, given by these Orders in Council to the terms of the Treaty, is not a proper one. I believe Mr. Griffith may find this Ulster difficulty just as inconvenient as any of us, because, if he is a reasonable man, as we are told he is, he cannot imagine that you are going to solve this problem by force. He cannot believe that it is a possible foundation for Irish peace to have a civil war on the borders of Ulster, and he must know that this Article 12, which was drafted in the early hours of the morning by men who had not, I understand, slept for about 36 755 hours, is in a most ambiguous form. So ambiguous is it that the Colonial Secretary has never been able to tell us exactly what it means.
Surely the best method of getting over the difficulty is to get this Article interpreted and if necessary modified, so as to make it a workable arrangement by agreement. That is the proper way. If we do it by forcing our interpretation as proposed in this Amendment, we run the danger of giving an excuse to the de Valerites to urge going back on the Treaty, owing to a breach of contract on this side. We cannot, however, found a settlement on broken promises. The Government have told us over and over again that they realise the only hope for Ireland to be in the eventual co-operation of Ulster. That is going to be difficult enough in all conscience, but it is going to be impossible, if you are to give a new excuse for bitterness on the part of the northern area. My mind as to this Amendment is not made up. I hope the Colonial Secretary will help those of us who are in doubt by throwing out some alternative and telling us, anyhow, that we are not to be finally committed to the terms of the Treaty, while leaving the interpretation in the hands of the Government, but that he will set up some such machinery as is suggested in my Amendment, so that the door of negotiation may still be open and the final interpretation may still be kept within the control of this House.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I should not have intervened in this Debate at all were it not for some of the speeches to which I have listened from the Benches opposite. Any one who has listened to those speeches might really come to the conclusion that honour was a precept first propounded in 1920, and that honourable obligations between statesmen and nations never existed before that period. When hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite come to this House to put forward whatever case they have to put forward on the basis of Acts of Parliament being sacrosanct, I would like to remind them of one or two things. In the first place, even if an Act of Parliament were passed by a not very intelligent Parliament in 1920, why should an Act of Parliament passed in 1914 by a very intelligent Parliament be considered 756 a wrong thing? Word of honour; scrap of paper! These were the Gentlemen who were the first not only to destroy the scrap of paper, but to compel Ministers to break their word of honour, and who tried rebellion in order to make them surrender. Let me remind the Committee that the Act of 1914 was not an ill-conceived and hurried Measure, rushed through a somewhat ignorant Parliament. The Act of 1914 was an Act which resulted from 25 years' discussion in the British constituencies, and it was an issue fought out at successive bye and general elections. There never was a question—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would remind the hon. Member that we are dealing with the boundaries question, and his reference to it is a little uncertain. He is wandering round a good deal.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
We are all wandering round that boundary. If you decide that the only question we are to discuss is that of boundaries, and not the question of honour, then I at once submit. But this discussion has been based upon the base and cruel betrayal by the Government, upon their surrender, upon their not keeping their word. Hon. Members opposite may think that they have been tricked. Why should they be exempt from British trickery? Is that a luxury that belongs only to the worser part of Ireland. They have never found out these tricksters before, and they have been supporting them for a quarter of a century against their own country. If English statesmen are as bad as you say they are, and I quite agree, what then? One hon. Member opposite has been saying that there is not one honest man on the Front Bench. I turned to a lady friend (Viscountess Astor) sitting on this side and I said to her, "What do you think of your social entourage?"
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The Ministerial Bench. It was described by one of the hon. Members opposite, who said that there was not one honest man on it, and yet these are the most prescient and statesman-like figures in modern history. If that is the class of men who are governing Ireland to-day, imagine how Ireland was governed when worse men than they governed her!
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I did not introduce this topic. I thought it was a merry subject on a Friday morning, and I did not interrupt hon. Members opposite while they were engaged in a somewhat absurd discussion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Though the hon. Member did not interrupt them, I did. I called them to order, and I am afraid I must call the hon. Member to order now.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am sorry. I disagreed with you for interrupting them. I believe that every Government should keep their word, and every individual ought to keep his word. I believe that we in Ireland, if we ever meet together and come to an arrangement with each other, will keep our word. I am not responsible for having British statesmen arranging these things. I have been all the time in favour of allowing Irishmen to arrange these things for themselves, but I do not think that any partition Parliament which exists in Belfast or Dublin, or both, will ever settle this question. My hope for Ireland, and the only guarantee for its enduring greatness and for the immediate prosperity and welfare of all her citizens, lies in one Parliament for one country. A little country like Ireland, with its 4,500,000 population, surrounded by the sea—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
It is a natural boundary. We are divided from this country by a larger stretch of sea than divides France from England. The very fact that there is this sea division makes it all the more imperative upon men of common-sense to act together. They are men of common-sense in Ireland, and could conduct their business properly if it were not for "Die Hards" in England and "Never Dies" in Scotland, who are always telling us how to do things, and what we ought to do. Then we read history, and we see how splendidly they have done things during the time they have had the custody of our country in their hands. The 1920 Act is not sacrosanct. Was there ever in the history of Parliaments a Bill 758 carried through Parliament under the conditions in which the Act of 1920 was passed. It is a thing only worthy of contempt and ridicule by every constitutionally-minded citizen. What were the circumstances under which it was passed through this House? Not a single Irish Member voted for it! Here was the great Magna Charta for Ireland, and yet not a single Member from Ireland voted for it.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I had nothing to do with it. No Irishman had anything to do with it. I described it at the time as a Bill "that was conceived in Bedlam and drafted by F. E. Smith."
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I never was so serious in my life. Then one hears the Act of 1920 described as a solemn covenant, unchanged and unchangeable, and that to touch it would be like laying unholy hands upon the ark of the covenant. It was nothing of the sort. It was merely a Parliamentary trick to meet the situation of the moment. Hon. Members opposite say: "You are taking away from us what this Parliament has given us." This Parliament never had any right to give you Tyrone and Fermanagh. Tyrone and Fermanagh were not yours, and they were not theirs to give. They belong to the people. The people of Tyrone and Fermanagh have the right to determine their own destinies on the principle of self-determination. What right have you to Tyrone and Fermanagh? What right has your hurry-skurry Act of Parliament of 1920 to give you Tyrone and Fermanagh, or Derry City where the Nationalists are in a majority? Therefore, nothing can be taken from you that belongs to you, because those counties do not belong to you. If there be controversy as to this northern area, if it cannot be settled in any other way than by a Boundary Commission, and if that Boundary Commission is to be composed of representatives of both sides, with an impartial arbitrator to settle questions upon which we cannot agree, what is your objection to that? So 759 far as I can see, the principle upon which you want to go is:The good old rule, … the simple plan, That they should take who have the power,And they should keep who can.There never would have been a Treaty if this boundaries question had not been left to some impartial tribunal. Since you are determined to remain out of the Free State, what substitute can you ask for this tribunal? There is to be one representative on your side and one on the side of Southern Ireland and an impartial Englishman, who is not going to be unjust to you.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Well, as a matter of fact they have been your friends for 100 years. They gave you all they had to give, and you got everything which they had to offer.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Things may be got without asking! That action showed a much more shrewed and meritorious mentality. What sort of tribunal would satisfy you? That is what we want to know. You say, "Leave us alone, leave Tyrone and Fermanagh, they all belong to us." Yes, you say they all belong to you when the large majority of their citizens are in favour of joining the Free State. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"] Populations are not to count; numbers are not to count; elections are not to count; nothing is to count. You come here to this British Parliament on purely political grounds, and not on the grounds of justice between classes or between sections of the population.
§ Lieut.-Colonel CROFT
May I ask my hon. Friend if his interpretation is that under this Treaty as it stands the large territories which he has mentioned can be given to the Southern Parliament?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
My dear Sir, I listened to the Attorney-General, who is paid £10,000 a year for interpreting Treaties and Acts of Parliament, and who spoke for 20 minutes, and yet he was not able to satisfy your mind. Do you mean to tell me that I, an uncultivated Belfastman, should satisfy such a mentality as that possessed by the leader of the Anti-Waste 760 party and the potential Prime Minister of England when she rises from the anarchy of to-day? [Interruption.] Well, is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Lieut.-Colonel Croft) the leader of the Anti-Waste party?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Really, we Irish are disgusted! You have got so many parties in this country that we cannot remember their names. Why do you not unite? How many races are there in this country? [Interruption.] We have only two in Ireland. Yet you come here, and sit with your long faces and tell us what horrible people we are—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member has for some time been perambulating the boundary in the most exemplary manner, but he is now really going beyond that question.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
My only purpose in rising was to ask whether this code of honour about which we hear so much commenced only in 1920. Why was the Act of Parliament passed in 1914 and put on the Statute Book, the result of the expression of the considered public opinion in this country for a quarter of a century, made a scrap of paper? Why is the whole Irish constitutional movement destroyed? Why were reprisals and rebellions commenced in Ulster and Munster, unless it was because you broke your word of honour? None of these Gentlemen protested against this, but to-day they come and ask that the Act of 1920—a similacrum of liberty, a thing which satisfies nobody, that sets up no Parliament in the South, and a bad Parliament in the North—because the Southern Parliament does not function and the Northern Parliament has not begun to function—should be regarded as sacrosanct. What about the great Act of 1914? There seems to be nothing sacred about that. Apparently the word of honour of English statesmen should only be kept when given to Irish representatives who are sitting opposite. Their word of honour does not count when given to us. It was broken to 84 Irish Members of this House who represented five-sixths of the people. It was broken, or they thought it was broken. Hon. Gentlemen opposite said nothing then, 761 but now they come to this House, and raise a howl at a time when there is a possibility of settling this question on the basis of Irish freedom and on the basis of this Treaty. They come here and raise this question, and state that their honour has been destroyed, because they choose to put one interpretation upon this Article in the Treaty, and other people put another. There is only one course for hon. Members to take, if I may give them a word of advice. The interpretation of that Article must be left to the Boundary Commission. You have sanctioned this Treaty by an overwhelming majority. You have sanctioned the appointment of the determining member of the Boundary Commission. This tribunal satisfies men outside, and, for my part, I really cannot see what all this trouble about the Boundary Commission is at all. I cannot understand the attitude of some hon. Members.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Before the Colonial Secretary replies I desire to say a very few words on the Amendment, but before I do so I would like again to express my surprise that neither yesterday nor to-day has the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House thought fit to be present when a matter of such vital importance to Ireland and to this country has been under consideration, and especially as the good faith of both hon. Gentlemen has been directly impugned in this House. Surely, when a matter is referred to arbitration it is of the first importance that the arbitrator should know what is the matter on which he has to decide, and I would ask whether any hon. Members can say what it is that the Boundary Commission will have to determine.
There are two very simple questions which I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary to answer when he replies, because this is a matter which we want to get cleared up. The first question is whether the Government still adhere to their repeated pledges that the six counties of Ulster are to remain, in the words of the Leader of the House, "mistress of their own fate" and under no circumstances are to be coerced. That is a very simple question. Do the Government still adhere to that pledge or do they not? I hope the Colonial Secretary has made a note of my question and that he will give an explicit reply. If so, will he deny the statements made by Mr.
762 Griffith, who was chairman of the delegation which came over here and is at present President of Dail Eireann, at the beginning of last month when he received a delegation from Northern Ireland. He told the delegation from Northern Ireland who came to Dublin:He and his fellow delegates had urged the claims of those districts"—which he referred to as Fermanagh and Tyrone, Derry City, and parts of Armagh and Down—for weeks during the negotiations in London, and the result was that the Free State should extend over Ireland, and that Ulster should have the option of voting herself out, but, if she did so, a Boundary Commission should be set up to decide if the districts in question should come into the Free State or not.Is that a true statement of what took place at the Conference? Because it is a matter of vital importance. Those are the two main questions I wish to be answered. There is only one other matter to which I should like to direct attention, and that is as showing the vast uncertainty in which this matter, which is going to arbitration, stands. To send a matter to arbitration without clearly explaining to the tribunal what is the matter which they have to determine, is entirely wrong, and a great House of Parliament such as this should not allow a reference to be sent from them to an arbitral tribunal unless they clearly state the matter on which they are to arbitrate. I do not expect the Committee to accept the opinion of a back bencher like myself on a matter such as this, but there is one opinion I can quote of a man who commands the attention of this House, perhaps, more than any other Member, and that is its late Leader, because since he made the speech which was referred to by the Colonial Secretary in this House, he spoke in Glasgow on the 15th February. He said:Within the last week or two, since the Treaty was ratified by the House of Commons, the claim has been made that what is meant is not an adjustment of boundaries, but practically the breaking up of the Northern Parliament altogether. That is the claim that is made. Well, it was not on that understanding that I voted for the Treaty—
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I have just read a quotation from a speech made by Mr. Griffith to the delegates from Northern Ireland. The claim was that what was to be referred to the tribunal was the question whether Fermanagh and Tyrone, Derry City and parts of Armagh and Down were to be included in Southern Ireland, or remain part of Northern Ireland.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The right hon. Gentleman in his speech, which I am quoting, continued:and it was not on that understanding that the House of Commons voted for it.That is the opinion of the late Leader of the House, whose opinion, I venture to say, is certainly not less respected than that of any other Member of this House. That being the advice of our late Leader, and having heard the case put very clearly in many respects, it is surely the Government's duty to see that directions given to the arbitral tribunal are clear and precise. The Amendment before the Committee to-day is in no sense a wrecking Amendment. It is simply putting in plain, straightforward words what we have been told again and again is the meaning of the Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope that the Committee will come to an issue on this important question. I do not rise for the purpose of re-stating the arguments. I only desire to point out to the Committee that the Government cannot agree to any Amendments which alter, or explain, or interpret the Treaty, and the reason is a very simple one. We have entered into a bargain, and we are bound to keep our part of the bargain. Supposing we were to try to write in upon the Act of Parliament a number of explanatory, or limiting, or interpreting provisos; they might, indeed, express very fully what we mean, what we had in mind when we signed the Treaty, but they would undoubtedly have the effect of vitiating the Treaty. And what would be the position of the signatories of the Treaty in Ireland? Every one of these signatories, and those who are acting with them in forming the Provisional Irish Government, are, day after day, as anyone who reads the papers can see, confronted with the vigorous assaults of Mr. de Valera's party. If we start 764 inserting our interpretations, how could these men prevent the Dail writing in its own interpretations? And so you would get on both sides of the Channel interpretations written down on this side or that which would be wholly inconsistent with one another.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Noble Lord must learn to do other things besides mock. He mocks at everything. He mocks at every Government, and at every effort to try to bring about harmony and agreement. He contributes nothing. We asked what was his solution. He says it is to inculcate a sound moral standard in Ireland—no doubt through the influence of religion, but not the religion of the Irish. But I do not wish to be drawn into controversy with the Noble Lord. I must point out that declarations from Ministers on what the Boundary Commission will do are perfectly useless, and any legislative provision introduced into the Bill voids and destroys the Treaty. There is only one other point I wish to make before I sit down.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question I put, as to whether Mr. Michael Collins and his friends were asked whether they would object to putting into this Bill what was the real intention in framing this Treaty?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am sure that that would not be the way at this juncture to try to get an agreement on this subject. Everywhere in Ireland the cry is raised, in the ordinary jargon, "England is again going back on its undertaking." It would absolutely destroy the political existence of the Provisional Government and the Free State majority which exists in Ireland. You would search far before you found anything which you could put in its place, and you would have the greatest possible difficulties in instituting any new-policy. We have to recognise that these men have gone very far, and their only safety at the present moment is in sticking rigidly to the instrument, and in inculcating and enforcing on the other party an equally rigid adherence to it. But when it is suggested, as it is, that the Prime Minister promised Mr. Collins the counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Londonderry, that statement is absolutely untrue. I 765 rose already in Debate in order to deny it, and I take the opportunity now, before we go to a Division, to repeat the actual words which the Prime Minister used, in the first place, on the 14th December, before the Dail had ratified the Treaty, and before Parliament had ratified the Treaty. The Prime Minister said:What we propose I think is wise for Ulster, namely, that you should have a readjustment of boundaries, not for the six counties, but a readjustment of the boundaries of the North of Ireland which would take into account where there are homogeneous populations of the same kind as that which is in Ulster, and where there are homogeneous populations of the same kind as you have in the South.Later, my right hon. Friend said:For those reasons we have recommended a Boundary Commission—Let the Committee mark well the following words:It is not for me to say what the result will be, whether it will mean that the area of Ulster will be diminished or increased. There are those that think both, but at any rate, we propose to set up an arbitration.— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1921; cols. 40–41, Vol. 149.]That statement, made before the Dail Eireann had decided, apart from any other factor, is the clearest possible evidence that there was no understanding of any sort or kind between the Prime Minister and the Irish signatories as to what the result of the Commission would be. Speaking again on 17th February, on the Second Beading, and being challenged by the hon. Member for the Ormeau Division of Belfast (Mr. Moles), the Prime Minister said:I certainly never gave an assurance that the larger part of Tyrone and Fermanagh would be transferred to the Southern Parliament. I made no such statement. I contradicted that in the House at the time, and before the Treaty was accepted by the House, and before it was decided upon by the Southern Parliament. I denied the statement at the time, and I still deny it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1922: col. 1428, Vol. 150.]
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The statement made again and again is not that the Prime Minister promised to transfer these areas, but that the Prime Minister, as stated in the passage quoted from Mr. Griffith, said that these areas would be a matter for determination by the Boundary Commission. What we want to know is: Did or did not the Prime Minister state to the 766 delegates that these areas would be referred to the Boundary Commission?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I adhere most strictly to the statements which have been made, and which I have just repeated. Let me also point to the absolute impossibility for anyone to make a promise as to what the Commission will or will not do. On that basis we must stand. It may well be that in the interval which elapses the better feeling of a few weeks ago may be restored. It may well be the case, if the Irish people establish a Free State Government and choose a path by which they will go, that further negotiations and discussions will be begun between the Northern and the Southern Parliaments, and that a satisfactory solution will be arrived at by agreement. It may well be that when the Boundary Commission begins its work, composed as it will be of sensible men of high under standing and impartiality, they, in the very process of their work, will undoubtedly labour by every means to procure the agreement and the assent of both parties to the settlement which is made. That is all I need add to the discussion on that subject; but I do say—
§ Mr. McNEILL
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point that the Boundary Commission will arise as soon as this Bill is passed?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It cannot possibly arise as soon as this Bill is passed, first of all, because it could not legally arise according to the highest legal interpretation at the disposal of the Government. During the Ulster month there must be an Irish Provisional Government established by law. That is perfectly clear by Article 11, which says:Until the expiration of one month from the passing of the Act of Parliament for the ratification of this instrument, the powers of the Parliament and the Government of the Irish Free State shall not be exercisable as respects Northern Ireland. …Again, Article 12 says:If … an Address is presented to His Majesty by both Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland to that effect, the powers of the Parliament and the Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland. …Therefore it is impossible for the month contemplated in the Treaty to be running during the period immediately after 767 the passing of this Bill, which only gives statutory effect to the Treaty. There must be another Bill which gives the final and complete ratification and which is connected with the enactment of the Constitution. Quite apart from, and in addition to these perfectly clear arguments, and to the high legal authority which is behind them—quite apart from that there is a definite agreement with the other signatories to the Treaty in Ireland to this effecl—it is true they hold a different view of what constitutes ratification—but they entered into a definite agreement with us, which I read to the House on the Second Reading of the Bill, as follows:The Irish Ministers, however "—this wording will be absolutely binding on both parties—recognising that as a matter of fairness, apart from strict interpretation, much could be said as to the advisability of allowing North-East Ulster to consider the constitution of the Irish Free State before exercising her option, they are willing not to insist on their construction, and to allow the month to run as from the date of the Act of the British Parliament recognising the constitution framed by the Provisional Parliament."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1922; col. 1274, Vol. 150.]So that there you have not only the clearest legal view as expressed by the highest legal authority in this country, but in the second place I am bound to say, speaking as a layman, you have a very reasonable interpretation of the agreement; and, thirdly, an absolute waiver by the other party of any differences of opinion or construction which they might be entitled to maintain.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
We hold that there is absolutely no doubt about it. The other side says in no circumstances will this be challenged. Very well, we get equal satisfaction, security, and comfort upon the point. I may end as I began. In all this we are acting in good faith and with goodwill. It is for the Committee to judge of the way in which we have endeavoured to do this. I am perfectly sure the Committee will support us in this matter, as before. If I were as sure that it would not, the Government could not take any other course in any 768 circumstances, for we must, whatever fortune happens, rigorously and strictly adhere to the terms of the Agreement.
§ Captain CRAIG
There are two points in the speech of the Colonial Secretary to which I desire to direct attention. The first point is this: it is important. The Colonial Secretary has told us, and the Leader of the House has told us, on more than one occasion, that it is utterly impossible for the Government finally to clear up the points which are doubtful on the various matters which have agitated us in Ulster. There is the question of boundaries. The right hon. Gentleman said it is utterly impossible by any declaratory words or any words to explain more clearly the intentions of the Government. In the next breath he told us of another matter, namely, the matter of the meaning and interpretation of the Article of the Treaty which deals with the date from which the month is to run. He has told us that he has already entered into an arrangement or agreement with the parties on the other side of the Treaty as to the meaning of that Article. I submit that that is an important point. I want him to clear up what is not clear in this matter. I think what I have said disposes of the ridiculous theory that the Government cannot alter or detract from one word of this Treaty.
Nevertheless they are quite willing and ready to make an agreement with the other side although they are unwilling to do so with us. We are hurt by this Treaty. We were not consulted about it. It was drawn up behind our backs. The right hon. Gentleman has been trying to show to the Committee that the Prime Minister has never said anything to anybody justifying the statement that large portions of territory in Tyrone and Fermanagh would be taken under this Treaty. I would like to draw attention to the fact that never at any time has the Prime Minister gone further in denying the statement that he told the Sinn Feiners they would have large territories under this Treaty—he has never gone further than he has done on the occasion referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman was asked by one of the Members for Belfast, after an interchange of pleasantries between them, "Does he mean a slight rectification, or does he mean large 769 areas?" and the most the Prime Minister could answer was:I never gave an assurance that the larger part of Tyrone and Fermanagh would be transferred to the Southern Parliament;He could have said, if this is a mere rectification of a boundary, "I will put nothing in the Treaty which will allow you to have more than that." He has further said that he never gave any assurance that the larger portion of Tyrone and Fermanagh would be handed over to the Southern Parliament. I think that proves our case up to the hilt. Now he says that the Commission can hand over large territories which at present belong to Northern Ireland. On this matter I want to appeal to the House of Commons. It has been stated by the Leader of the Government and by leading men of the Government that in setting up the Boundary Commission there is no abrogation or interference with the rights and privileges of the people of Ulster. Really, is it necessary for me to argue the question? This is the pledge which was solemnly made by the Leader of the House. He said:I do not for a moment admit that a Boundary Commission is prejudicial to the Government or to the people of Northern Ireland.On another occasion the right hon. Gentleman said:My hon. and gallant Friend says that we are dishonoured because we have abrogated the rights and privileges of Ulster. I say that we have left her rights and privileges intact, and they will not be altered without her consent. To establish a Boundary Commission is not to abrogate the rights and privileges of Northern Ireland.In face of that statement, is it worth while arguing whether the setting up of a Boundary Commission, which may hand over large portions of our territory to Southern Ireland, is not an abrogation of our rights and privileges? The Government have got themselves into a dreadful mess. They have got themselves into the position that either they must break faith with the people of Ulster or with the Sinn Feiners. Surely when you get in a position of that kind the person or people with whom you have made the first pledge has a right to priority and to demand that you should keep your word. The pledge given to us is more sacred, because it was ratified and confirmed by the House of Commons, which is the most 770 binding pledge that can be given. Further, the Leader of the House said:My hon. and gallant Friend says we are dishonoured because we are altering or amending the Act of Parliament of 1920. If that is so, many of us must have been dishonourable before now, and was there ever a Government which escaped dishonour of that kind?To treat the Act of 1920 in that way is not worthy of the right hon. Gentleman. He must know that that Act was in the nature of a charter, and it was a treaty of a most binding character for Ulster. An hon. Member for one of the divisions of Belfast has reminded us that he did not vote for the Third Beading of that Bill. I would remind the Committee that Ulster Members have for generations been opposed to Home Rule and they only accepted it in 1920 because we were asked to do so in the interests of peace and good government as a final settlement, and because Ulster was given a Parliament of her own.
§ Captain CRAIG
For our own safety, we thought it was a good thing to take that Parliament. We have always claimed that Home Rule was not any good for Ireland and I think events have proved the truth of our contention. The Act of 1920 was at least as solemn a treaty and a bargain with Ulster as the Agreement which the Government signed was with Sinn Fein, and we ask the House to disregard the mess and trouble into which the Government have got themselves and the House of Commons in this matter. I admit it is a big order for the House of Commons, after having entrusted the Government with power to negotiate with these people, or at any rate not having raised any objection, to ask them to go back on what the Government have done. If the Government act so foolishly and so dishonestly as to involve themselves in a position in which there must be a breach of faith, and in which pledges must be broken, I say that we have a very strong case to come to the House of Commons and say that this Boundary Commission Article must be qualified so that the people with whom the solemn pledge was made on a previous occasion must be safeguarded. There can be no safeguard in a Boundary Commission. There can be no safeguard if Ulster be put into a position in which she may lose part of her 771 territories against her consent. I have an Amendment which requires the consent of the Northern Parliament to any alteration of the boundaries, but I do not know whether it will be in order or not. I do not very much mind whether it is or not, but it is a very important Amendment, and perhaps I may ask whether it will be in order.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I say that the next two Amendments—the first standing in the name of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. K. McNeill) and others, and the second standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig) and others—are covered by the Amendment which, we are now discussing.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
No, not the Amendment of the Noble Lord. I do not say that the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Craig) is out of order. I only say that it is covered by this discussion.
§ Captain CRAIG
I am glad that I put that question to you, because this matter of consent is of the utmost importance to my colleagues and myself. The Amendment of the Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) goes a very considerable way to meet the difficulty in which we find ourselves, but it does not go far enough. We have taken up the position that the Act of 1920 was final. It gave us certain boundaries, and it is morally impossible for any Government to deprive us of any part of the territory within those boundaries without our consent. I do not desire this Committee stage of the Bill to go through without our placing on record our view that without our consent no territory can be taken from us. Therefore, although I trust that there will not be a prolonged discussion on the question, I hope that an opportunity will be given to the Committee to divide on that point on which we feel very strongly.
772 Some reference has been made to maps, and I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact, which has been admitted by the right hon. Gentleman, that certainly for some time during the Conference there were various maps displayed hanging up on the walls of the Conference room and presumably having to do with the question of the boundaries. They were coloured, and so on. I would like the Committee to realise that, though territory had been given to the Northern Parliament with great solemnity by the Act of 1920, the Government were actually negotiating with Mr. Collins, Mr. Griffith, and their colleagues on a transfer of territory from one side to the other, and never during the length of those conferences was an intimation given of it to Ulster. I say that that in itself ought to determine the Committee to qualify the boundary Article as proposed by my Noble Friend. Surely, knowing the importance of this question and knowing, as the Government must have known, that if it were proposed to transfer any serious amount of territory from one side to the other, bloodshed and unrest would be certain to follow, it is the duty of the House of Commons to disapprove of such a flagrant violation of the rights of the people of Northern Ireland and such a flagrant incitement to disturbance and disorder on the border.
Words fail me in my attempt to describe the wickedness and the folly of the Government in embarking on a course such as that which they seek to carry out in this Bill. It was bond from the very day that it was suggested to create the utmost trouble, and containing this proposal this great Treaty, which was telegraphed to all the ends of the earth as bringing final peace to Ireland, was bound to intensify rather than to placate the feeling of antagonism which unfortunately exists between the two races in Ireland. A more terrible step could not have been taken by the Government, and I appeal to the Committee, by voting for the Amendment of my Noble Friend, to show, in spite of the fact that the Government have entered into this Agreement, that the House of Commons cannot so far lower itself as to give its consent to a breach of the solemn pact and contract that was entered into with Ulster in the 773 Act of 1920 and the rights and privileges contained in which the Government have over and over again said would never be abrogated or interfered with in any way.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL rose in his place, and774
§ claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 199; Noes, 60.775
|Division No. 27.]||AYES.||[1.44 p.m.|
|Adamson, Ht. Hon. William||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||hall wood, Augustine||Parker, James|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Hall, Captain Sir Douglas Bernard||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hallas, Eldred||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pearce, Sir William|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hancock, John George||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Philippe, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Lelth)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Haslam, Lewis||Preston, W. R.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hayday, Arthu||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Henderson, Rt. Hon A. (Widnes)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hills, Major John Waller||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Remer, J. R.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Holmes, J. Stanley||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Briggs, Harold||Hopkins, John W. W.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hurd, Percy A.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Bromfield, William||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Jephcott, A. R.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jesson, C.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Johnstone, Joseph||Bassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Seely, Major-Genera! Rt. Hon. John|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Sexton, James|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Simm, M. T.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Kennedy, Thomas||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Spencer, George A.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Coote, Colin Relth (Isle of Ely)||Lewis, Ht. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Taylor, J.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lecker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lorden, John William||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Wallace, J.|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Evans, Ernest||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Macpherson, Rt. Hon, James I.||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godtray||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Forrest, Walter||Middlebrook, Sir William||Windsor, Viscount|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Winterton, Earl|
|Foot, Isaac||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Wise, Frederick|
|Gardiner, James||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Morris, Richard||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Gillis, William||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Murchison, C. K.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Golf, Sir R. Park||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Neal, Arthur||Col. Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Greig. Colonel Sir James William||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Brown, Major D. C.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Blair, Sir Reginald||Burn, Col. C. R, (Devon, Torquay)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Cecil, RT. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hayward, Evan||Pennetathar, De Fonblanque|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Polson, Sir Thomas A.|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Reid, D. D.|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||James, Lieut-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Remnant, Sir James|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Jellett, William Morgan||Robertson, John|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lindsay, William Arthur||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lynn, R. J.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Stewart, Gershom|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||M'Guffin, Samuel||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Donald, Thompson||McNeill,-Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth||Mills, John Edmund||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Foxcrott, Captain Charles Talbot||Moles, Thomas||Whitla, Sir William|
|Giant, James Augustus||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Gwynne, Rupert S.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Hall, Rt-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'i, W. D'by)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sir W. Davidson and Viscount Wolmer.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted.776
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 63; Noes, 199.777
|Division No. 28]||AYES.||[1.52 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Foxcrott, Captain Charles Talbot||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin.||Grant, James Augustus||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Gretton, Colonel John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Gwynne, Rupert S.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hall, Captain Sir Douglas Bernard||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hall, Rr-Admi Sir W.(Liv'p'i,W.D'by)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Reid, D. D.|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Jellett, William Morgan||Whitla, Sir William|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lindsay, William Arthur||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Lynn, R. J.||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Windsor, Viscount|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||M'Guffin, Samuel||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Donald, Thompson||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Lord Hugh Cecil and Mr. Moles.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Coats, Sir Stuart||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hallwood, Augustine|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Coote, Colin Relth (Isle of Ely)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Hancock, John George|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Baldwin. Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Barnes Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Devlin, Joseph||Haslam, Lewis|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Doyle, N, Grattan||Hayday, Arthur|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Edge, Captain Sir William||Hayward, Evan|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Bigland, Alfred||Evans, Ernest||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Foot, Isaac||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Forrest, Walter||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Briggs, Harold||Galbraith, Samuel||Jephcott, A. R,|
|Bromfield, William||Gardiner, James||Jesson, C.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Gee, Captain Robert||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gillis, William||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Graham, D, M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on T.)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Simm, M. T.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Spencer, George A.|
|Lorden, John William||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Sugden, W. H.|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Parker, James||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Taylor, J.|
|McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Pearce, Sir William||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|M'Lean, Lieut-Col. Charles W. W.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wallace, J.|
|Macpherson Rt. Hon. James I.||Preston, Sir Walter R.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Raper, A. Baldwin||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Redmond, Captain William Archer||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Mills, John Edmund||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Rees, Capt. J. Tudo. (Barnstaple)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Morltz||Remer, J. R.||Winterton, Earl|
|Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wise, Frederick|
|Morris, Richard||Robertson, John||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., stretford)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Rose, Frank H.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Royce, William Stapleton||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Murray, William (Dumfries)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustavo D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Myers, Thomas||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Neal, Arthur||Sexton, James|
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsProvided that the chairman of the Boundary Commission to be appointed under Article 12 of the said Agreement shall be appointed by the British Government with the consent of both Houses of Parliament, and no appointment shall be deemed to be a valid appointment within the meaning of the said Article 12 until that consent shall have been given.2.0 P.M.
The object of this Amendment is to provide that the chairman of the Boundary Commission shall really be a person in whom the great body of British opinion has confidence, and shall really be an impartial and trustworthy man. As matters now stand, the appointment of the chairman of the Boundary Commission lies purely with the British Government, and, whatever else may be the impression that has been given by the discussions we have had, I do not think anyone will be surprised or will seriously disagree when I say that the effect of these discussions has not been to give increased confidence in the fairness or competence of the Government to make such an appointment as this. It will be observed that the refusal by the Government of the last Amendment, and the extreme ambiguity of the language of the Treaty, enormously increase the importance of the choice of the Commis- 778 sioner. Everything now depends upon him. It is not disputed that the language of the Treaty is very ambiguous. It is not disputed that one sane human being might very easily hold one opinion and another sane human being might hold quite a different opinion, without departing from what might fairly be maintained to be the interpretation of the language of the Treaty. Everything, therefore, turns on who is appointed, and, as things stand, the Government might appoint anyone. They might appoint Mr. Erskine Childers, or they might appoint Lord Carson. I do not know whether either of those appointments would satisfy a large number of critics in Ireland and England. Therefore, it really is desirable that we should have some security that the Government will make a proper appointment.
I quite accept the statements made from the Front Bench, both in previous Debates and now, that the Prime Minister did not say that the Boundary Commission would come to any particular decision; but, accepting that statement, it is nevertheless clear that, whatever he said, the impressions left upon the minds of Sir James Craig and Mr. Collins respectively were quite different. Whatever language the Prime Minister used—and I quite accept, of course, the assurances that have been given on that head 779 —the impression given by that language was quite diverse in the two cases. That seems to show that the Government might lean in one direction or the other, according to the situation at the moment, when they came to the vital matter of appointing the Chairman. They might, under the exigencies of whatever influences were pressing upon them, come to the conclusion that it was desirable that a Chairman who would probably take a view favourable to the claims of the Irish Free State should be appointed; or, under the exigencies of the moment, they might think it desirable that a Chairman who would probably lean towards the Ulster view should be appointed. I am sure that no one will feel that the Government can be safely trusted with so large a discretion. We need the consent of both Houses of Parliament in what, as the Treaty stands in its ambiguity and without any authorised explanation, has become a most critically important matter.
I do not think it can be said that this is in any respect a variation of the Treaty. An illustration will make clear how little it is a departure from the Treaty. Supposing that Dail Eireann wished to appoint their Commissioner—the Commissioner to be appointed by Southern Ireland, by the Irish Free State—in a different way. Supposing that, instead of allowing the Provisional Government to appoint him, they desired that he should be appointed by the body known as Ard Fheis. Would there be any objection to that as being a breach of the Treaty? So long as he was appointed in a manner acceptable to the Southern Irish nation, it would be perfectly in accord with the Treaty. No one would dream of complaining or representing it to be a breach of the Treaty if any variation were made in the method of appointing the Commissioner from the Irish Free State, and similarly in respect of Northern Ireland, no one in Ireland or here would care at all how the Commissioner for Northern Ireland was appointed as long as he was acceptable to the Parliament and the people of Northern Ireland.
Therefore, I do not think it can reasonably be said that we are departing from the Treaty in any degree whatever if we require that before the appointment of the British Government is valid, the consent of the two Houses should be given. It is 780 obvious that that is merely applying the normal working of the British Constitution to this particular executive act. Ministers by an established convention of the Constitution are supposed to carry out what is at any rate the wish of this House. They are not supposed to act perfectly independently of Parliamentary control, even in their executive capacity. Doubtless they are the King's servants, but they are obliged to carry out that service not only in good faith and loyalty to the Sovereign, but also in such a manner as may secure the approbation and confidence of this House. Therefore, with regard to this very important executive act, on which everything depends in respect to this boundary question, if matters are left as they are after the decision of the Committee in the late Division, in order to carry out this very important duty it is quite congruous to the general working of the British Constitution to say there must be Parliamentary control over it. I submit, therefore, that on no reasonable ground can the Amendment be rejected. It has become of the utmost possible importance. Everything depends on the person who is to be appointed. He might be a very unsatisfactory person. It cannot be said, whether the Government are to blame or not, that their action has given confidence either to the Ulster party or to Southern Ireland or to the British nation. It cannot be said that anyone feels a settled confidence that they will perform this duty rightly and not under the influence of some temporary set of circumstances which may be pressing upon them at the moment. Next, the Amendment does not contravene any provision of the Treaty. It merely carries out the Treaty in a particular manner, and we certainly should not raise objections if a similar thing was done by others. Lastly, it conforms to the Constitutional practice of this country by insuring that the Government act in accordance with the will of Parliament in performing an important executive act.
§ Captain CRAIG
While thanking my Noble Friend for the efforts he has made in this and other Amendments to help Ulster in this matter, I regret that my colleagues and myself do not feel ourselves justified in supporting him in the Lobby. We have taken the position throughout that it is beyond the moral powers of the Government, at any rate, to set up a Commission which may 781 possibly deal with territories which belong to us, and which they have no right in the world to interfere with, and we think that agreeing with the Noble Lord's Amendment would be, to some extent, binding us to the principle of a Commission with which we entirely disagree, and which we cannot possibly have anything to do with. While I wish the Amendment every success, I am sorry my colleagues and I cannot vote for it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understand that my hon. and gallant Friend and those who are associated with him take the position that this is a Commission which never ought to have been set up, and that it is in flagrant contradiction of the agreement entered into between the Government and Ulster, and therefore they will be no parties to the arrangement. That is a very good position to take up from their point of view, but speaking as an English Member, if my Noble Friend goes to a Division I shall be very pleased to vote with him. My view of the matter is this. I regret that the Government have taken up the position they have done. To the best of my ability I have supported my Ulster friends all through the discussions on this matter, but the majority of hon. Members, I presume because they never attend to listen to the Debates, and therefore do not know what is going on, have felt it incumbent upon them to support the Government all through these proceedings, and therefore those of us who disagree with the Government's proposals are more or less helpless and have to make the best of a bad job. I am sure my Noble Friend and I are really most desirous for peace, but we do not think you can get peace unless you take up a strong attitude. We do not believe the Government are going to do that, and we are very much afraid—and that is at the bottom of the Amendment—that force of circumstances will compel them to appoint as chairman of this extraordinary Commission some person who, either through his past actions or through the weakness of his nature—and if he is anyone who has ever had anything to do with the Government, we may be quite certain that he has got no backbone of any sort or kind—may give away the whole case, because this person, whoever he may be, is the judge and the sole judge. The Sinn Fein representative and the representative who is supposed to represent Ulster may be crossed out. In 782 my school days it was an excellent thing if I could cross one particular figure out against another. These two gentlemen will be crossed out at once. Upon this question the whole peace of Ireland depends. I do not believe the Government proposal can ever work out successfully. Unless this boundary question is settled to the satisfaction of all parties, and especially to the satisfaction of my hon. Friends below me, no peace can ensue. It is very necessary to have someone on whom we can thoroughly rely. I hope my Noble Friend will go to a Division, if the Government does not assent to the proposal, because I believe we are going to help them in this matter. Consider the position of the Government if they do not accept this Amendment. They will have appointed a person upon whom the whole question of the peace of Ireland and the future of Ireland will depend. It is a very invidious position for the unfortunate man who takes it up, whoever he is. If he is appointed with the consent of both Houses of Parliament, at any rate the Government can say, when the decision comes up: "You cannot blame us, because you agreed to the appointment of this gentleman." If, on the other hand, the Government disapproves of the Amendment and leaves the appointment entirely in their own hands, it will mean that whatever decision this gentleman conies to will not be satisfactory to one of the parties, and it will lay the Government open to attacks from either the Sinn Fein members or the Loyalist members. It will be far better from their own point of view to say that they will substitute for their own power of selecting the chairman the power of Parliament itself to select a fit and proper person to take the post. I do not know what attitude will be taken by the Chief Secretary, but from the fact that he is in charge of the Bill at the present time I am inclined to hope that we may get some satisfaction from his answer.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That I cannot say I am not a reader of countenances, but I can say that it must be evident to anyone that it would be far better that this should be an appointment made by both Houses of Parliament rather than by the Government. The Houses of 783 Parliament still exist. Some hon. Members seem to forget that, and seem to think that all they have to do is to come down here when it suits them and support the Government, whatever it does. It does not matter what they say or do, they have to support the Government. That is not the view of the old Members who made Parliament what it was. If Parliament is to recover its old position, Members must take a different view.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Sir Hamar Greenwood)
The Noble Lord, in moving his Amendment, based his argument on three main points. One was that the Government cannot be trusted to make a suitable appointment to the chairmanship of the Commission. The Committee must decide that at once. They will have an opportunity of deciding at once whether or not the Government is to be trusted in making this appointment. The Committee is the jury, and they must decide the point now. The Government is committed to the Treaty and the Treaty says that the Chairman shall be appointed by the British Government. The Government cannot delegate its responsibility; it must shoulder it, and it asks the Committee to support it in that. The second point of the Noble Lord was that this Amendment does not materially alter the Treaty. It is a most material alteration in the Treaty. The Treaty says that the chairman will be appointed by the British Government, and any alteration in the responsibility for the appointment, or even of the words, would be a vital alteration of the Treaty, and the Government must resist it. The Noble Lord says that the suggestion that this appointment should depend upon an agreement specifically expressed by both Houses of Parliament is in keeping with the practice of the Constitution. I differ from him on that point. The practice of the Constitution, so far as I understand it, is that for these great appointments the Government must assume responsibility. I am speaking generally. In this case they must assume the responsibility because they are pledged to it in the Treaty. I can assure the Noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) that the Government is fully aware of the importance of this Commission, and is fully aware of the necessity of appointing 784 a person who shall command the respect of everybody. We must, therefore, ask the Committee to resist this Amendment, and to trust the Government to make a suitable appointment, because they cannot possibly evade their responsibilities under the Treaty.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
The right hon. Gentleman has said that the Committee must be appealed to on the ground that it must trust the Government to make a proper appointment. I have no trust whatever in the Government making a proper appointment, and after what the Chief Secretary has said I think my Noble Friend would be well advised to withdraw his Amendment, The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to the Committee. Where is the Committee? It is within reach of the bells, but not within reach of his voice. The consequence will be that the right hon. Gentleman will have the bells rung and he will have his 200 Members flocking into the Committee to support the Government, not in the least because they know what the right hon. Gentleman has said or because they care what he has said, but just merely to support the Government. I object to the Government being able to relieve themselves of any responsibility by being able to say that they have the support of the House of Commons in this matter. Through these transactions we have had a great deal of that sort of argument that was entirely unwarranted by the facts. I believe the Government will make an entirely unsatisfactory appointment, and I would rather they did it than that they should be able to throw the responsibility upon this Committee.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that it would not be wise to put the Committee to the trouble of a Division upon this question, but I should like to deal with a few points raised by the right hon. Gentleman before the Amendment is negatived—I do not withdraw it. The right hon. Gentleman makes the most technical distinction in maintaining that this Amendment varies the Treaty. If this House chooses, it can enforce the appointment of any particular Commissioner. There will be nothing to prevent the Government announcing the name of the person whom they intended to appoint, a Vote of Censure being moved in this House and, the Government being defeated, result- 785 ing in the Government going out and a new Commissioner being appointed. That Commissioner would virtually be appointed by this House. You do not get security as the Treaty stands for the free action of Parliament, irrespective of whether they like to change the Government or not. Under my Amendment you would get security for the free action of Parliament in both Houses. The right hon. Gentleman seems to regard it as a breach of the Treaty that the free action of Parliament shall be respected, and that on the other hand the free action of Parliament by changing the Government in connection with the appointment of any particular Commissioner would be in accord with the Treaty. That seems to me to be an extraordinary technical distinction. I am sure that nobody in this country would dream of complaining if the Irish Commissioners were changed—
§ Lord H. CECIL
There are many rooms in this Houst;—some for rest, some for refreshment, and some for Debate. This room is for Debate.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask the hon. Member not to interrupt in that way. The remarks of the Noble Lord are perfectly relevant.
§ Lord H. CECIL
No one would dream of complaining if on the side of the Free State or of the Northern Government there was any variation in the method of appointing their Commissioners without the Treaty being broken. I cannot conceive anybody getting up in the House and complaining that the Treaty had been broken because some different Irish assembly or different Irish authority wished to appoint the Commissioners. It would be a matter of indifference to us, and we should agree that the best possible arrangement was to leave it to the free choice of the Irish 786 Free State or Northern Ireland to appoint the best man. Why are we to be more tied and bound than the other parties to the Treaty? The only reasonable conclusion is that it was intended that the British Government as, in the broad sense of the word, the British authority in this island was to make the appointment, and make it in the manner which should best command confidence, and I believe that will best be done by making the appointment subject to the approval of the two Houses of Parliament, but since my hon. Friends from Ulster do not feel able to take that degree of responsibility, I do not feel that we ought to press it to a Division.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to say a word or two in answer to the arguments of the Chief Secretary. He used two arguments. The first was that it was usual in appointments of this kind for the Government to make them. I listened to that statement with astonishment. This is the first appointment of this kind I have ever heard of during the 30 years I have had the honour of a seat in this House, and I hope it will be the last. It certainly is not a usual appointment. The second argument was that it would break the Treaty. I think my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) has demonstrated quite clearly that it would not break the Treaty, but that it would merely conform to what I, in my ignorance, thought was the usual practice of this country. I thought we were governed by the three estates of the realm, the King, Lords and Commons; but apparently I was wrong. Apparently the Lords and Commons have absolutely nothing to do with it; they have only to register the decrees of the Government, who may do whatever they like—appoint any person to deal with the property of the subjects of this realm. I do not know that I can go so far as my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. R McNeill) when he said he did not trust the Government, but I certainly do not trust them all in all, and under the circumstances I think the proceedings of the Government are most dictatorial and quite out of consonance with the usual practice and habits of this country. As to the Division, my Noble Friend says he is not going to divide and my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury says, and quite properly, that a Division would be useless, because the hon. Members who 787 are not in the Committee would come in and Vote for the Government, whatever it did. May I point out that there is another point to be considered? The Government would say the sense of the Committee in favour of the proposal was so strong that nobody dared to divide against it. I am not sure what is the best way out of the dilemma. I have been in Divisions—and with my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University—when there were very few in the Lobby with us and my experience has taught me that the smaller the minority the better chance it has of being in the right.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The subject of the next Amendment was covered, I take it, by the previous discussion, and I do not propose to call it, and if I select the one that follows, in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig) I must not be taken as allowing a general discussion again on the whole question of the boundary; but as a somewhat different issue is raised I will allow it to be moved and to be argued within the strict limits of that issue.
§ Captain CRAIG
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsProvided that nothing in this Act or in the said Articles of Agreement shall be construed as authorising any part of the boundary of Northern Ireland to be altered except with the consent of the Governments of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State.I am much obliged to you, Sir, for allowing us to move this Amendment, and I shall only detain the Committee for a very few moments; but I was particularly anxious that the Committee should be given an opportunity of dividing upon it, because my colleagues from Ulster and myself want to put on record that we protest most strongly against setting up any Boundary Commission which shall be allowed to deal with territory belonging to the Northern Ireland Government without its consent. Objections have been submitted to the House and the Committee at considerable length on former occasions, and I do not propose to debate them again. We consider the Government had no right and no power to set up a Commission for this purpose. We have been given territory, and it is subject to the jurisdiction of the Northern Parlia- 788 ment, and we consider that it is in consonance with the practice which obtains in reference to all other dependencies and colonies of the Empire that no one should be allowed to touch that territory without our consent. I would emphasise this point by referring to an Act of Parliament passed so lately as 1895 and called:An Act to provide in certain cases for the alteration of the boundaries of Colonies.In Sub-section (2) of the First Section of that Act are these significant words, to which I ask the serious attention of the Committee:Provided that the consent of the self-governing Colony shall be required for the alteration of the boundaries thereof—That is the only extra argument I propose to put before the Committee. There, by an Act of Parliament which has been acted on, I presume, for the last 20 years, it has been specifically laid down, on this very question of the alteration of boundaries of a colony of the Empire, that no such alteration shall be made without the consent of the colony. That is a very strong point, and I submit it is one that is exactly apposite to the case before us, and on the strength of that, and on the strength of the original claim which we make that the Government have no right in the world to interfere with our boundaries without our consent, I wish to move this Amendment. In consonance with the pledge which I gave to you, I beg to appeal to my hon. Friends not to carry on this Debate for any length of time, as we have had a full Debate on the general subject of the boundaries. There are two hon. Members who desire to say a word or two on the subject, but as my sole object in moving the Amendment is to get our determination in this matter registered by means of a Division, I appeal to the Committee not unduly to prolong the Debate.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The Government cannot accept this Amendment. It proposes that the boundary shall not be-altered except with the consent of the two Governments. As I have said again and again, agreement between the two Governments would be far and away the best solution, and better than any arrangement which might be made either by Parliament or by the Boundary Commission set up under the Treaty. If we were to accept the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend and to 789 substitute it for the provisions of Article 12, the effect would be that there could be no alteration in the boundary at all, unless the Northern Government consented to it. That, of course, would be an end of the Treaty. If agreement were reached by both Parliaments, it would be another matter, but to give either Parliament a veto on any alteration, however slight or necessary, of the boundary, however much in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, however much in harmony with geographic and economic considerations, would be resented by the other Government. That would indeed be the end of the Treaty. Therefore we are quite unable to accept this Amendment.
§ Major HAMILTON
I am very sorry my right hon. Friend has taken this line. It seems to mc he is placing himself as Colonial Secretary in a very awkward position. After all he is responsible for many other Parliaments throughout the Empire. It seems a general principle that government by those Parliaments is not interfered with. The hon. and gallant Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig) has quoted an Act of Parliament, which I was going to quote, and which really amounts to this, that no alterations of boundaries can be made in connection with the Dominions, without the consent of the Dominion Parliaments concerned. Only last year, this Government set up under the Act of 1920, a Parliament which is properly functioning, and carrying out its duties, and in the same Act they defined accurately what the boundary of that Parliamentary district was to be. Now we are told that a Royal Commission is to have the right to alter that boundary, and possibly alter it materially. I think the Northern Parliament is a reasonable assembly, and if there were only slight readjustments, according to geographical and economic necessities, there is no doubt the Northern Parliament would agree to such alterations. But if there were large tracts of country taken out of Northern Ireland and placed in Southern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Parliament would probably object.
Leaving aside the constitutional question, and the risk we are running with regard to all our other Parliaments throughout the Empire, by over-riding this subsidiary Parliament in Ulster, I ask 790 the Government why should they put themselves in such an extraordinary dilemma? Supposing the Northern Parliament refuses to accept this Royal Commission, what is the Government going to do? Is it going to coerce them? I should like the Chief Secretary to answer that as the Colonial Secretary has unfortunately gone from the House. Supposing the Royal Commission makes such alterations, that either the Northern Parliament or the Southern Parliament refuse to accept its findings, is the Government going to coerce either of those Parliaments into accepting the findings? Supposing the Commission were to take away half a county from the North and put it into the South, will the Government withdraw British troops from that half county—if the Northern Parliament say they will not give it up—and allow the Southern Parliament to invade it and seize it by force? Are all the pledges we have given to Ulster, that she is not to be coerced to be thrown aside if the Northern Parliament's own territory is interfered with. The proposition in the Amendment is practical and reasonable. It only asks that the findings of the Royal Commission shall receive the approval of both Parliaments. One Parliament is now functioning and the other is being set up by this Bill. The Parliament which is functioning claims the right of approving or disapproving of the findings of the Royal Commission, and I am sure when the other Parliament is set up it will claim exactly the same right. If by any chance the Royal Commission were to take away part of the Southern territory and put it into the North, and if the Free State Parliament does not approve of that finding, surely there can be no doubt in the Government's mind that the Free State Parliament will resist such taking away of their territory. The Government by refusing this reasonable Amendment are putting themselves in the dilemma, that if by any chance either of these Parliaments refuse to accept the findings of the Commission, the Government will either have to coerce the people of the particular districts concerned, or break their pledges not to coerce, or else the whole matter will have to be brought before this House again and some other means of settlement found. Why not settle it now by the simple means proposed in this Amendment, which gets 791 over the constitutional difficulty as it affects the whole Empire and removes any chance of future disputes?
§ Mr. W. COOTE
I wish in a few words to support the arguments which have been advanced on the question of consent. We in the Northern Parliamentary area have undertaken, very much against the will of our people, to set up a Parliament. We have done so in order that we might make a substantial contribution to the cause of peace. We were given this area at the last election by the people of Great Britain, and their decision was confirmed by this House and embodied in the Act of 1920. We occupy this whole territory in the six counties, and are administering it now. Are we now to permit the whole matter to be put again into the melting pot? Are we to have set up without our consent a Commission on Boundaries the result of which may react upon the economic conditions of our Northern area? Are the Government, who have given promises to the leaders of Southern Ireland behind our backs to do this without our consent? It is a situation which the Ulster people will never tolerate. Assuming that you pass this Treaty, as I expect you will, if we do not enter into this Commission, if we do not appoint a Commissioner to act upon it, on the ground that it has been set up without our consent and that its findings will be powerless without our consent—if we do not do so, are we then to be coerced by the people of Great Britain, simply because we will not give up territory which was given to us by the people themselves under an Act of Parliament? Is a different kind of law and liberty to be meted out to us than is meted out to every other self-governing colony? If so, then it is tyranny. We have no hesitation in saying it. It is tyranny of the worst kind, which we will resent, and in no circumstances will we
§ permit the Commissioners to bring in findings, cutting off some of our territory, without our consent.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I intervene solely on the constitutional point and in order that the case may be made clear. It is true that the Act of 1895 contains the provisions stated, but I do not think the hon. and gallant Member for Altrincham (Major Hamilton) should forget that since 1895 there has been a famous boundary arbitration between the United States and Canada in reference to the boundary of Alaska. There a joint Commission, under a British umpire, made a rectification of the frontier and enforced it against strong and universal objection in Canada and in the Canadian Parliament. That shows that my hon. Friend has quite forgotten what the actual constitutional position is in regard to boundaries.
§ Major HAMILTON
The Noble Lord is usually well informed on these subjects, but, as I understand the Alaska Commission, he is entirely wrong in this case. That Commission was set up with the approval of the Canadian Parliament, and the Canadian Parliament pledged themselves to accept the findings of the Commission before the Commission was set up, which the Northern Parliament, in this case, have never done at all.
§ Lord E. PERCY
That is not the position here. We have a position here that a Government in the position of a Dominion or Colonial Government should defer giving its consent until after the arbitration has been made, which is entirely different.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 51; Noes, 207.793
|Division No. 29.]||AYES.||[2.47 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jeilett, William Morgan|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lindsay. William Arthur|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Donald, Thompson||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Lynn, R. J.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||M'Connell, Thomas Edward|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Gretton, Colonel John||M'Guffin, Samuel|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Moles, Thomas|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Newman, Colonel J. R. p. (Finchley)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Stewart, Gershom||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.||Whitla, Sir William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Parker.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hallwood. Augustine||Neal, Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Hallas, Eldred||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hancock, John George||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Armitage, Robert||Hannon. Patrick Joseph Henry||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Haslam, Lewis||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Hayday, Arthur||Pearce, Sir William|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hayward, Evan||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Perring, William George|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hills, Major John Waller||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Bigland. Alfred||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Holmes, J. Stanley||Purchase, H. G.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hopkins, John W. W.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Hurd, Percy A.||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)|
|Briggs, Harold||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor. (Barnstaple)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Jephcott, A. R.||Remer, J. R.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Jesson, C.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Robertson, John|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Johnstone, Joseph||Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., Stretford)|
|Campion. Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Jones. Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Jones. J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)||Rounded, Colonel R. F.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Keiley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Blrm.,W.)||Kennedy, Thomas||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||King, Captain Henry Dougla.||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sexton, James|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Slmm, M. T.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lloyd, George Butler||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Spencer, George A.|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Lorden. John William||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lort-Williams, J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Pialstow)|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Evans, Ernest||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Wallace, J.|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Falle. Major Sir Bertram Godfray||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Foot, Isaac||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Magnus, Sir Philip||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Forestier.Walker, L.||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Wedgwood, Colonel Joslah C.|
|Forrest, Walter||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Fraser. Major Sir Keith||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Middlebrook, Sir William||Wild. Sir Ernest Edward|
|Gardiner, James||Mills, John Edmund||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C||Winterton, Earl|
|Gillis, William||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Wise, Frederick|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Gould, James C.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Graham, D. M, (Lanark, Hamilton)||Murchison, C. K.||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross. Perth)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Murray, William (Dumfries)|
|Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Myers, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Mr. Reid and Captain Dixon.|
§ Mr. MOLES
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsSubject to the following modification, that is to say, if an Address is presented to 794 His Majesty under Article 12 of the said Agreement, the power exercisable by the Council of Ireland under Sub-section (2) of Section ten of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, shall, as respects Northern Ire- 795 land, be exercisable as from the date of that Address by the Government or Parliament of Northern Ireland, as the case requires.This brings us to an Amendment of a somewhat different type from those we have hitherto considered. The Colonial Secretary, invigorated and exhilarated by his lunch, may perhaps be in a more amenable frame of mind than he was before lunch, and therefore give to this Amendment a somewhat different reception from that which he has given to the other Amendments. I hope that this time we shall not be met with what hitherto has been his non possumus attitude. Every suggestion which we have put forward meant to make this Treaty and the Bill a more workable document, leading to greater efficiency and better harmony in Ireland, has been steadfastly resisted. He has told us that if an Amendment alters in any degree the Bill or the Treaty, then it is impossible; if it does not alter it, then it is unnecessary. From all quarters of the Committee there have come complaints that when there are obscure causes nobody will explain them or can explain them; that when interpretations are required and the Attorney-General is brought in, he cannot interpret them; and I cannot help regretting that, on what is possibly the last time the Attorney-General will appear at the Treasury Box, he should have been subject to the kind of humiliation to which he was subjected and should have been put forward to carry out a practically impossible task. He has gone to another and, I hope, a happier sphere, and I am sure that he will adorn it now that he is relieved from the necessity of narrowing his mind and giving up for party what was meant for mankind.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that the hon. Member is not confining himself strictly to the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. MOLES
I am sure you would not disagree, Sir, with anything which I have said about the learned Attorney-General. On the Second Beading of the Debate on this Bill, I called attention to the specific matter put down in this Amendment. I showed then that an anomaly was created between the Treaty on the one hand and the 1920 Act upon the other. I showed that, if the Treaty stood as it then stood and now stands, it must lead to friction, and in the end to chaos. This Amendment is meant to deal with this matter 796 and to remedy the position, and if it be the real desire of the Government that these two Parliaments should work side by side, under conditions that will admit of smoothness and efficiency, then they should agree to this Amendment. But if they refuse this Amendment, it will only be because they do not desire to see those conditions, and because what they really desire is to see the destruction of one or other of those Parliaments.
Let me call the attention of the Committee to what lies behind my Amendment. The 1920 Act contemplated there being two Parliaments, both equal in status and power, and there was devolved upon them equally and commonly certain matters, and other matters were reserved from both Parliaments to a specially arranged Conference which was to be set up, consisting of 20 Members from each Parliament, with a Chairman. That was the Council of Ireland and the matters which were indicated in this Amendment were matters specifically devolved upon that Council. What is the position now? The matters expressly withheld from the two Parliaments have now been expressly conferred upon one of the Parliaments and not upon the other, and from one section of the Council which, by the Act was set up, on the basis that the two Parliaments should be equally represented upon it, and that that Council alone should have the power to deal with the matters transferred to it, these matters are withdrawn entirely. Therefore, that section of the Act of 1920, in so far as it relates to the Southern Parliament, is dead and gone. That cannot be disputed. The Treaty is there; the terms of it are in direct conflict with the Act. None the less, the Council is to be set up. What is to be the position when it is set up? This Southern Parliament will deal exclusively with the matters I have suggested, and it will also claim the right to deal with the matters concerning the Council for Northern Ireland. The Southern Parliament wishes not only to be master in its own household, but to a large extent to have a determining voice in the affairs of the whole of Ireland. The injustice of that is too much. The Colonial Secretary has manifested the most extraordinary effrontery in defending a proposal of that sort. I shall watch him with interest to see whether he defends this one. Let me trouble the 797 Committee by reading a part of Subsection (2) of Section 10 of the 1920 Act:With a view to the uniform administration throughout Ireland of public services in connection with railways and fisheries, and the administration of the Diseases of Animals Acts and powers (mot being powers relating to reserved matters) exerciseable by any Department of the Government of the United Kingdom at the appointed day with respect to railways and fisheries and the contagious diseases of animals in Ireland, and the power of making laws with respect to railways and fisheries and the contagious diseases of animals, shall, as from the appointed day, become powers of the Council of Ireland, and not of the Governments and Parliaments of Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.The Treaty negatives the last four lines of that so far as Southern Ireland is concerned, and it puts these matters in relation to Southern Ireland exclusively under their own Parliament. When you come to the Northern Parliament, precisely the same matters in relation to the North of Ireland are to be dealt with by a body which is to be drawn jointly from Southern Ireland which has no business with it whatever. In common justice, in common equity, and for the sake of harmony, they ought to leave us alone. I ask the Colonial Secretary, is that an unfair proposal? If you resist this, as you have resisted other reasonable Amendments, what is going to be the position? Does the Colonial Secretary imagine that the Parliament of Northern Ireland will submit to such a position? If he does, I tell him frankly and plainly that undoubtedly it will not. If you are going to make anomalies of this kind and create impossible positions you must not expect other people to put up with it. We offer you the opportunity of rectifying and of clearing it up and of taking out this bone of contention and we offer you the opportunity of allowing us to get on together on fair terms. This question has got to be got out of the way, and I know of no other method of doing it except by this Amendment. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to treat this Amendment in a different way from that in which he has treated others, and, if that is of no avail, I appeal from Phillip drunk, in the person of the Colonial Secretary, to Phillip sober, in the person of the Members of the Committee.
§ Mr. REID
I should like to second the appeal to the Colonial Secretary to deal with this Amendment as an administrative matter. If the Committee will only 798 consider for a moment they will see how impossible the position is. Under the Act of 1920 there were certain matters— railways, fisheries, and the administration of the Diseases of Animals Acts—vital to the whole country, which you took away from the jurisdiction of the two local Parliaments, and placed in the hands of the Council, on which these Parliaments were equally to be represented, and the Chairman was to be a person nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. Apparently, the constitution to be set up under the Treaty provides that all these mattersin Southern Ireland are to be dealt with by the Irish Free State. In Northern Ireland they are to be dealt with by this Council of Ireland. It is really asking for trouble to set up a Council of this sort. So long as you have two parties equally represented, you have a motive for the two parties to work together. Otherwise, the system for the whole country will be thrown into disorder. You leave the Irish Free State to deal with all these matters within its own jurisdiction without interference. It then sends people to interfere with the administration in the North. We know there is a large party in the Irish Free State which does not want this administration to succeed, and you are putting into the hands of its enemies a very powerful whip to enable them to do harm. You are going to ask people to go and put grit in their wheels.
Then, although the parties are to be equally represented, there is a chairman to be nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. The Lord Lieutenant, under the Act of 1920, was to be a non-political official. Under this new Treaty, the Lord Lieutenant disappears, and in his place there is a representative of the Crown, who is to be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada. That means that the person appointed will be a person chosen, for all practical purposes, by the Free State. Would anyone say the Government here would send a Governor-General to Canada without consulting the Canadian Government? Anyone knows that whoever takes this job in the Irish Free State will be a person of Sinn Feinn principles. It means that these services in Northern Ireland will be absolutely under the control of the Free State. It practically comes to that. The Free State can make any law it likes in Southern Ireland. It 799 can then insist on the Council of Ireland making some different and absurd rule with regard to the railways in Northern Ireland. It can render the working of the whole railway system impossible. I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman who represents railwaymen in this House to the possibilities this raises with regard to Irish railways. The position will be a very bad one indeed. If the Water Board wants to put up a new waterworks, are they to go to this Council of Ireland and get the necessary powers to do it? Under the Treaty that will be so. On the other hand, if the Corporation of Dublin want to make a new waterworks, they go before the local Parliament and get the power. The Treaty, as drafted, shows such an absolute disregard of its implications that the system as it stands will be unworkable unless, indeed, the Government are prepared to make concessions to meet these administrative difficulties.
We have heard about pledges. This is a case where a pledge arises, for the interests of Northern interests were not to be interfered with without the consent of Northern Ireland. Here we have a flagrant instance, whether through malice, or incompetence, or mere carelessness, where the Government have allowed the interests of Northern Ireland to be interfered with. We ask them to meet us fairly and squarely and try to find a way out. They tell us it is impossible to do so. Then we have the Colonial Secretary telling us that he is advised by someone or another. Let him trot out his advisers. If it is the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General, let them come here and defend their opinion. If it is some mysterious Member in the background, there is no use for the Colonial Secretary to be here to be only a gramophone. If he has an opinion let him put it forward and defend it, and let him not on this as on previous Amendments tell us, as we have been told, that he advises something which is obviously not so.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am always very ready to express an opinion on subjects on which I am qualified to speak: but it is only becoming that we should have regard to the responsible professional advisers who are at the disposal of the Government. There are some matters 800 upon which a layman may not venture without proper guidance. The proposal put forward by the two hon. Members is to alter the Treaty—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—by giving the Government and the Parliament of Northern Ireland the powers of the Council of Ii-eland under Article 12. That is the position. I am bound to make the same answer as on the previous Amendments. We cannot alter the Treaty except by agreement with the other parties to it. There are some subjects, some questions, on which we might desire to alter the Treaty if we could get agreement; but we have no chance of getting it. Therefore we have to appoint an impartial arbitrator, as we have done in the case of the Commission. I quite understand the force of the arguments which have been addressed to me. There is a grievance and an anomaly in the present situation. It is a very formidable anomaly—but there it is! It is that there are some reserved services affecting Northern Ireland which will be dealt with by a body on which the which the South will be represented—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
—whilst the similar services in so far as they relate to the South will be dealt with by the Irish Free State Parliament without, any interference from the Northern representatives. Moreover, these services, such as the railways, the administration of the Diseases of Animals Acts and the Fisheries, are the very services which are most essential. Therefore, proceeding on the strict basis of symmetry, I cannot deny that there is some reality in the arguments that, have been put forward. I would point out, however, that there is a way of remedying these defects, and it is by agreement between the two Governments of Northern and Southern Ireland.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Yes, that is so. I admit that an agreement between the Northern and Southern Governments would be satisfactory instead of a method about which considerable complaints may be made. I would point out that an agreement has already been reached—I think 801 it was signed on the 24th January—between Mr. Michael Collins and Sir James Craig to the effect thatThe two Governments will endeavour to devise a more suitable system than the Council of Ireland for dealing with the affairs of all Ireland.I understand that that Agreement has been in no sense receded from. On the boundary question I know there has been an unhappy breakdown for the time being, but, at any rate, the Agreement stands, and the method has been favourably discussed between the two parties, namely, that instead of this nominated body there should be meetings of the two Executives of the Cabinets of the two countries. There are great advantages in that method. It is not for me to draw a distinction in these matters. When two countries have so many difficulties to face in common, it is certainly an advantage that all the men who will form that council or body should be men who are interested in arriving at a purely practical solution, and therefore it is better that there should be substituted for the Council of Ireland the meetings of the two Executives. The Agreement stands that the two Governments should endeavour to find a more suitable means than is provided for by the Council of Ireland. I have received a formal letter from the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland urging me to have this matter settled in this sense, and I have submitted it to the Provisional Government, but I have not yet received an answer. With regard to what has been said, all I have to say is that, first of all, there is an undoubted grievance and anomaly which should be remedied; secondly, we have no power to remedy it here except by breaking the terms of the Treaty; and thirdly, there is every prospect of a satisfactory arrangement being reached between the parties concerned, and, if such an agreement be reached, there will not be the least difficulty in embodying it in the final legislation which will terminate the proceedings for the ratification of the Treaty.
§ Mr. MOLES
My right hon. Friend has sought to parry the arguments which I used as to the inconveniences and anomalies of the position which the Treaty creates by telling me that the representatives of the two Parliaments have come together and have arrived at an agreement. The possibility of any such further 802 meetings is precluded by the Treaty. Will, the right hon. Gentleman tell us that he has the least belief that the proposals contained in this Treaty will be waived by Southern Ireland and that they will be prepared to meet us on the basis which, he suggests? Of course, he will not.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
There is, of course, no limit to the amount of inconvenience and annoyance that the Governments of Northern and Southern Ireland can mutually inflict upon each other, if, unhappily, they should continue in disagreement; but in this matter, as I say, the Government of Northern Ireland have definitely made a formal request, and, on the general subject of the relations between the two Governments, I have for the last fortnight steadily and continuously made representations to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland that the representatives of Southern Ireland desire a conference. They are in the position of asking for the conference in order to discuss matters of common interest. There are half-a-dozen matters of common interest, apart from most grave and serious questions like the boundary question, which it is proper and appropriate at the present moment to discuss between them, and I certainly think that there is a good possibility of an agreement on this and many other minor matters which would add greatly to the convenience of life in Ireland if only meetings can be arranged. I have repeatedly asked that there should not only be a meeting but that there should be periodical meetings at intervals of say a fortnight to enable minor matters of difficulty to be arranged between the two Governments.
§ Mr. MOLES
I quite agree that it is within the power of at least one of the Parliaments to inflict almost unlimited injury upon the other, but you should not put it in the power of one of the Parliaments to impose all the injury upon the other, and leave the other destitute of offence. That is entirely unjust and that is our objection to this Treaty. Take the railways, which is the classic case. When the trouble originated each of the Parliaments, perceiving the difficulty within its own area and the advantage that would result from common action, came together. That shows that if you left the field open in the same way and they met upon the basis of equality, you could always hope to-get common and rapid action and a proper solution of your problem. As the matter- 803 stands, they deal in the Southern Parliament with the railway problem entirely without any reference to us. The fact is the railways are now a transferred matter to the Southern Parliament. The positions of the two parties in Ireland on this question are quite dissimilar, and it is utterly wrong to pretend that we meet on a basis of equality. My right hon. Friend will forgive me, but I have taken the trouble to look into this matter. We did meet on a basis of equality, mutual trust, and co-operation, but now we are no longer on a level. We come in under wholly dissimilar conditions. The Southern people treat their problem as one entirely apart from ours. They make special arrangements for their own case, and the moment we begin to deal with our case, your wretched Council is set up under the Treaty and they put their fingers in our particular pie, making the position absolutely impossible. My right hon. Friend's suggestion is really wide of the mark. If he wants the former position to be continued, he ought to meet us on this Amendment, and he ought not to seek to impose upon us a perfectly preposterous instrument such as the Council of Ireland, while leaving the other side entire freedom. Let him leave us to come together on a basis of equality. If that were done he would find that we would handle these problems in a different manner to that which they would be dealt with by the cumbrous machinery he is proposing to set up. Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman accept this Amendment? His whole case has gone Toy the board on his own statement. We are told that this Treaty, like the laws of the Modes and Persians, must not be altered. But nobody can explain it. The right hon. Gentleman failed and called in the Attorney-General, who only made the matter more obscure. The right hon. Gentleman admits we have a grievance, but he will do nothing to relieve it. He takes up the position that either of the two Parliaments can scrap the Treaty if they like, but this House cannot. That is the sort of thing which even the most docile supporter of the Government cannot swallow. They may bully us, but eventually they will have to defer to the intelligence of their own supporters.
No hon. Member on our benches has taken part in this Debate for two reasons. The first is, we believed 804 when the Treaty was signed, and when it was ratified by this House, it was impossible to alter it without a breach of faith. We may be wrong in that, but that is, at least, our attitude. Therefore, to take part in a Debate on a matter for which we are satisfied we are compelled to vote, is a waste of time. We have been twitted twice this morning about our attitude, both in this Debate and in the discussion on the 1920 Bill. It is true that we took no part whatever in the discussion of that Bill, nor in any of the Divisions.
We stated the position on the. Second Reading, and took no further part. When our Amendment was defeated, which said that there could be no solution of the Irish problem by creating two Parliaments in Ireland, we felt that we could take no further part in the proceedings. If any evidence of justification of our attitude be necessary, it is to be found in the discussion to-day, which proves conclusively that we were right then. I only rise in answer to the speeches which have been made with regard to the railway situation. When the previous Bill was first introduced, it contained no provision for dealing with services that were common to both North and South.
My hon. Friend will excuse me. I am talking of the Bill when it was first introduced. As regards the railway situation, provision was made for the Northern Parliament to deal with their section, and for the Southern Parliament to deal with their section, and, in the event of disagreement, there were joint provisions; but there was no provition in case either the North or the South refused to work the Act, and in that event, in the absence of any such provision, these services would have been wholly dislocated. Then an Amendment was put in which provided for that situation by the existing Government controlling it. My two hon. Friends have dealt with the railway situation, and I submit that what has taken place since this Treaty was signed is the best justification for hoping that on economic matters both North and South will come together. Both my hon. Friends have stated that 805 what happened prior to the passing of the 1920 Act is wiped out by this Treaty. Some three weeks ago, the Minister for the Northern railways and the Minister for the Southern railways arrived at a common agreement, so what is the use of talking about—
§ Mr. MOLES
Perhaps my right hon. Friend will allow me to put him right. He will give me the credit of being informed. They came together, as I have already explained, in consequence of the provision in the 1920 Act which would have referred that matter specifically to the Council of Ireland. There was no Council of Ireland, the matter could not wait, and the two Ministers from the two Governments respectively came together. But under this Treaty, in the South it will be exclusively for the Southern Parliament, and in the North for the two Parliaments. That is the position to which I want my right hon. Friend to address himself, and to tell me how this Treaty will help in the better working of the railways.
I give my hon. Friend credit for being informed, but, seeing that I am at the head of 20,000 railway-men who are employed, and that it was my own union who, with my own assistance, made the agreement, he will give me credit for being informed, and he must allow me to say that he is not informed if he assumes that to be the fact. The facts are these. The Northern railway companies and the Southern railway companies—I am speaking of the companies themselves now, not of the men—the companies themselves jointly agreed to go to an arbitration court. The decision of that arbitration court was made known. There was ultimately a dispute about the agreement, and the Northern and Southern sections of the railway companies themselves decided to take common action; and ultimately the Northern and Southern Ministers of Labour, with the men—not under any powers of consultation, but on a joint application of the men themselves— arrived at a common agreement that is now applicable to the North and the South.
Very well, then. What is the good of pretending that this Treaty prevents both coming together?
§ Mr. MOLES
The right hon. Gentleman should look at the Act again. The matters with which the Council were to deal were matters of legislation. The strike situation can be dealt with by voluntary arrangement. What we complain of in the Treaty is that it precludes of possibility of that mutual and voluntary agreement. Will the right hon. Gentleman direct himself to that argument? [Interruption.]
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It is not a question of agreeing on railway matters, but of agreeing on what the Treaty does.
I am trying to show that what it is contemplated cannot happen has already happened since the Treaty was made.
I am quite sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is a recognised authority on all matters, will be accepted as one on this. I come back to the point I am trying to answer. The railway difficulty was settled by the North and South coming together. There is common agreement on that. They came together because there was a common interest. The finance and the running of the railways cannot be separated as between North and South.
I thought we were trying to get on to common ground. Since the Treaty was signed between the British Government and the representatives of Southern Ireland the representatives of the North and South came together. They arrived at a common understanding on a matter that affected both. My hon. Friend says that by the passing of this Bill that will be done away with. That is his case. My answer is yes, and for this reason, that just as the workmen North and South have come together, in spite of this House of Commons, where their common interest has been affected, just as the Railway Commissioners' 807 representatives have come together when their common interest has been affected, so there is nothing, in our reading at least of this Treaty or. Bill, to prevent both sides coming together for mutual interest, and there is certainly every advantage in them doing it. The railway illustration does not illustrate the difficulty of meeting, but, on the contrary, it proves conclusively that if there is a desire to come together they can come together. I join with my hon. Friend in saying you are not going to make this Treaty a success by the North assuming that they are going to crush the South, and I equally say to the South that there will be no solution by them assuming that they can crush the North. I have always taken up that attitude. But apart from that argument entirely, the basis of this Treaty must be goodwill, and there is nothing in the Treaty that prevents the common interest of North and South being consulted if both sides desire it.
§ Mr. LYNN
I congratulate the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) on having made a speech that makes the situation as clear to everyone as did the Attorney-General's speech on the interpretation of the word "treaty." It was a most delightful piece of word-spinning, but unfortunately it missed the kernel of the whole matter. What we complain of is that Southern Ireland is going to be constituted as a Dominion State, with absolute control of everything inside its own borders, and not only is it going to be given all these privileges, but it is going to be allowed to appoint half the Council of Ireland, which will manage a large portion of our affairs as well. That is what the Colonial Secretary calls equality. He said there were some things he did not understand. I think that statement was really due to his modesty. I did not think there was anything in heaven or earth that he did not understand. He ought to realise that this is a most unfair anomaly. I am not going to deal with the question of the railways about which so much has been said. Take the question of fisheries. Supposing a boat from Southern Ireland—I do not know what flag it would fly, but perhaps a skull and cross-bones would be an appropriate one —came into Northern waters. What do you expect would happen then?
808 Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that this arrangement is going to make for peace? Every Member of this House, no matter to what party he belongs, wants to see peace in Ireland. Certainly we do, but this thing is not going to give us peace. On the contrary, it will create additional trouble. There must have been some imp of mischief about 10, Downing Street when this Treaty was drawn up, because it looks as if it was drawn up for the purpose not of creating peace between the North and the South, but for the purpose of creating ill-will. This is one of the things that is going to intensify ill-will. The right hon. Gentleman ought to meet us and treat us fairly. I am afraid we shall not get it. The Labour party and the Independent Liberals will go into the Lobby and keep this most wicked Government of modern times in office in order to defeat us, but the country is watching this Debate. The sense of fair play is not dead in Great Britain yet. We appeal from this House, not from Phillip drunk to Phillip sober, to the electorate. We say that we are being unfairly treated, that in every instance the dice is being loaded against us, and we appeal to the electorate to support us.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not disagree with the right hon. Member for Derby. I agree with every word he said, but it has nothing to do with the Amendment. Certain agreements on wages, etc., have been entered into between the Northern and Southern railway companies with the consent of the Minister of Labour for Northern Ireland and the Minister of Labour for Southern Ireland, but that has nothing to do with the point before us. My hon. Friends are not afraid of the railway companies or the trade unions being prevented from coming together. What they are afraid of is that the Southern Parliament may make laws which will deal with the railways. They can make laws as to the fares and as to the number of trains; they can do anything they like. The Northern people cannot make laws with regard to Southern Ireland. The Northern people cannot make any laws with reference to their railways, as can the Southern people; it has to be done by a body consisting half of Southerners and half of Northerners, with a Chairman. The result will be that the Southerners, if they choose, can say, 809 "Although we are going to make laws to deal with our railways in Southern Ireland, we do not choose to allow you to make your laws in Northern Ireland; but we are going to make laws for Northern Ireland which will put up fares, or reduce fares, or say there are to be only a certain number of trains run, or that soldiers or police may not be carried on certain trains." All these things can be done. In Southern Ireland the Southern Parliament can do what it likes with regard to its own railways, but in Northern Ireland the Northern people have to submit to what an independent Chairman appointed by a Sinn Fein Parliament tells them to do.
Perhaps my right hon. Friend, as a practical, railwayman, will answer this. He knows the English railway interests in Ireland as well as I do. Does ho assume, knowing the Irish railways, that any Parliament, North or South, would pass any laws affecting railways that would cripple their undertakings?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
No, I do not think they would. I do not think Southern Ireland would pass laws to cripple its own undertakings, but it is very likely it would pass laws which would cripple somebody else's undertakings, namely, the railways in Northern Ireland. That is extremely likely. The Colonial Secretary has admitted that this is a distinct grievance, but says: "I cannot alter this distinct grievance, because at half-past 2 o'clock on a certain morning we came to an agreement which embodies what is a distinct injustice." Because at half-past 2 in the morning, when they ought to have been in bed, they came to a foolish agreement we here have to ratify it. I should not have got up had I not been challenged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). I do not for one moment impute anything to him, but he happened to come into the Committee only at the last moment, and this is a rather complicated matter. I did not fully understand it myself until I had obtained the Act of 1920, and I can quite understand that if you have not studied that Act very clearly you do not quite know what has taken place. One of the difficulties with which we are confronted is that the Treaty is so complicated that unless you study it very carefully and listen to all the discussion it is 810 very difficult to understand. I make an appeal to the Colonial Secretary to show that he is not hide-bound in these matters, and that when there is a grievance, as he admits, he will remedy it. But what does he say? He says there have been meetings and it has been agreed that the subject shall be considered. What is the use of that? I can agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Durham (Major Hills) that we will consider a question, but it does not follow that we shall come to any decision. Supposing I were the representative of the Free State and I met one of my hon. Friends from Ulster with the object of making an arrangement and he made a proposal, I could say, "No, I shall not agree to that and I am in a superior position, because I can control my own railways and I can control yours. If I am going to give up my control of yours, I want something for doing so."
The Sinn Feiners cannot be blamed for taking advantage of that position. The advantage has been conferred on them, and they are entitled to reap the benefits of it. All the Colonial Secretary will say is that there has been an agreement to that effect. I was going to say that is hardly creditable to his intelligence but I will not say so. He thoroughly understands the position, but he does not know how to get out of the difficulty. That is the real reason why this terrible complication has been arrived at. The Government entered into this arrangement without thinking of the complications which were sure to result. I hope I have made the situation clear to the Committee and I ask them to give a commonsense vote on this point and support the Amendment.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I asked the Colonial Secretary, when dealing with the boundary Amendment, to give me an answer to a plain question. In fact, I asked him two questions, and he has not answered either of them. I ask him again, will he, on behalf of the Government, say "Yes" or "No" to this question: Do the Government adhere to their repeated pledges that the six counties of Ulster are to remain mistress of their own fate?
§ The CHAIRMAN
That might be raised on any Amendment, but I may point out that this Amendment is entirely with regard to the Council of Ireland.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
I quite agree that it could be raised on any Amendment and I think it is clearly a matter which should be raised, if anything is proposed directly contrary to express pledges given by His Majesty's Ministers. I consider that any Member of this House, who is responsible in however humble a capacity, for the honour of this House, is entitled to draw attention to such a matter. If the reply to my question is in the affirmative, as I can only suppose it must be, considering the reiteration by practically every Member of the Cabinet, that Ulster would not in any circumstances be put into an inferior position, then I ask the Colonial Secretary what he means by having admitted a few moments ago that Ulster was put under a very serious grievance by this Article in the Treaty? His only answer is, "Well, unfortunately we have
§ signed the Treaty." If they signed a Treaty in the middle of the night, which puts a serious disability upon Ulster, it is their duty to postpone this Debate, to go to their co-negotiators and say, "We have inadvertently, in spite of pledges given before, agreed to something with you which it is not possible to perform as honourable men, and we ask you to let us off that part of the agreement. That is the only thing honourable men can do, and a Minister should not divest himself of his personal honour simply because he is a Minister. I ask for an answer.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 52; Noes, 217.813
|Division No. 30.]||AYES.||[3.57 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godtray||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gretton, Colonel John||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||Reid, D. D.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Remnant, Sir James|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jellett, William Morgan||Stewart, Gershom|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Lindsay, William Arthur||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lynn, R. J.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon, Claud|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||W'lson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||M'Guffin, Samuel||Windsor, Viscount|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Donald, Thompson||Newman, Colonel J, R. P. (Finchley)|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Moles and Sir W. Davison.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Foot, Isaac|
|Ammon, Charles George||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Foreman, Sir Henry|
|Armitage, Robert||Carr, W. Theodore||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Forrest, Walter|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gardiner, James|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Gee, Captain Robert|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Coats, Sir Stuart||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Gillis, William|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Gould, James C.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Devlin, Joseph||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Greig, Colonel Sir James William|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Edge, Captain Sir William||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Hallwood, Augustine|
|Briggs, Harold||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Evans, Ernest||Hancock, John George|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. M.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hayward, Evan||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Middlebrook, Sir William||Sexton, James|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Mills, John Edmund||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S- J. G.||Molson, Major John Eisdale||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Spencer, George A.|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Morris, Richard||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Morrison, Hugh||Sugden, W. H.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Hudson, R, M.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Murchison, C. K.||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Taylor, J.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Naylor, Thomas Eills||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Jesson, C.||Neal, Arthur||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wallace, J.|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Pearce, Sir William||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Waring, Major Walter|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Perring, William George||Wheler, Col. Granville C. K.|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Lorden, John William||Purchase, H. G.||Winterton, Earl|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Wise, Frederick|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Lowther, Maj-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Redmond, Captain William Archer||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|McCurdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Remer, J. R.||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir O. (Midlothian)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Parker.|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Robertson, John|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rose, Frank H.|
§ It being after Four of the Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next (6th March).