§ (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 and not later than four months 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.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The first Amendment to the Bill standing in the name of the hon. Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harms-worth)—at the beginning of Sub-section (2), to insert the words "Article 17 of,"—is out of order. That was a matter for the Second Reading, and it is not in order on the Report stage.
§ Mr. PENNEFATHER
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words 1322Provided always that if an Address is presented to His Majesty by the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland under Article 12 of the said Agreement the military defence forces of the Irish Free State mentioned in Article 8 of the Agreement shall then not exceed in size such proportion of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as the population of the Free State bears to the population of Great Britain.This Amendment is not intended to wreck the Bill, but to improve a Bill which stands sorely in need of improvement. I will move it in the fewest possible words, and not in any provocative spirit. What I propose to lay before the House is mainly a matter of arithmetic. If hon. Members will refer to Article 8 they will see it reads:With a view to securing the observance of the principle of international limitation of armaments, if the Government of the Irish Free State establishes and maintains a military defence force, the establishments thereof shall not exceed in size such proportion of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as that which the population of Ireland bears to the population of Great Britain.Perhaps a simpler way of putting that proposition is this: As the population of Ireland is to the population of Great Britain, so is the size of the Irish Free State Army to compare with the size of the British Army; or, to put it in a still simpler form, if Great Britain maintains a certain number of soldiers per thousand of its inhabitants, then the Irish Free State is entitled to maintain an equal number of soldiers per thousand of the population of Ireland. I am not going to express any opinion as to the wisdom or otherwise of establishing such an army, but if such an army is to be established, Article 8 would be all right if, as a matter of fact, the Irish Free State were to include the whole of Ireland. That assumption, however, we all know, is a piece of make-believe. We all know that Ulster is going to contract out, and, therefore, we all know that the Irish Free State, when constituted, will consist of 26 out of 32 Irish counties. Therefore, I submit that it would be absurd to authorise the Irish Free State, comprising 26 counties, to add an extra soldier to her force for every hundred or two of a population which will be no more part of the Irish Free State than Yorkshire or Lancashire, or any other part of this country. I do not think that I need elaborate my points any further. It is 1323 perfectly clear to me that there is some necessity for this Amendment, and I imagine the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will have no hesitation in accepting it. After all, it puts in the very simplest form the fact that if Ulster avails herself of the powers given to contract out of the Act that the Irish Free State is not the whole, but only a portion of Ireland, and that, therefore, the size of the Army maintained by the Irish Free State should be reduced accordingly.
I beg to second the Amendment.
On the Committee stage of the Bill I pointed out to the Colonial Secretary the ambiguity under which we were leaving the Treaty. I pointed out that in Article 8 the Government of the Free State was talked about and also the population of "Ireland." I showed the right hon. Gentleman then, as now—and I think he must agree—how Article 8 stood in our eyes, and other hon. Members also pointed it out. What the right hon. Gentleman appears really to mean is this: The size of the army which the Free State is going to be allowed to maintain, or will maintain, under the Treaty is not in relation to the population of Ireland as compared with the population of Great Britain, but the population of the Irish Free State, as compared with the population of Great Britain—something totally different. In the six counties there is a population of 1½ millions, while the population of the rest of Ireland is something over 3 millions. Our population here in Great Britain is something over 37 millions. Therefore we may take it that the proportion is as 1 to 12. From that proportion, therefore, we may get what ought to be the number of men that the Free State may keep under arms if they want to observe Article 8 of the Bill.
The strength of our Army is 335,000 men, excluding, of course, the troops in the Indian Empire, but including the Colonial and native troops. That number is going to be reduced under the recommendations of the Geddes Committee to something like, I imagine, 200,000 men. On that basis the strength of the Free State Army is to be a little more than 17,000. I will go a bit further and 1324 imagine that the Government meant when they concluded this Treaty that the Irish Free State was not to be compared with the total of the British Army at home and abroad. What they meant was the total of our whole Regular Army. At present that number is 140,000. That will be reduced under the Geddes recommendations to something less. We may put it, then, that the comparative strength of the Irish home army, which is called a Defence Force, as compared with the strength of the Army here at home, would be about 10,000 men.
Here I am putting forward these two suggestions which seem to me may be what is meant; but I come now to the real suggestion, the one which, as I think, the Government really had in mind, but which I do not know the Free State Government had in mind. They really meant that the Irish Defence Force should be a Territorial Force, a Force for Home Defence, and that it should be based, therefore, on the strength of our Territorial Army in Great Britain. The Territorial Force of Great Britain numbers to-day, I understand, 218,000 men. Therefore, if it is the intention of the Irish Free State Government to maintain something in the nature of a defensive Territorial Army on the same lines as here, whose members are called out periodically for a certain short period of training, then on that assumption the Free State will have the right to maintain a Territorial Army or a Militia, if you like to call it so, of something about 18,000 men. I should say that is quite enough. Let the House remember that, in addition to this Territorial Force, at present there are being enrolled Civil Guards, which are to number 4,000. A private in the Civil Guard will get 70s., and a sergeant £5, with proportionally higher payments for the higher ranks. Supposing the Free State maintains a Militia or Territorial Force of 18,000 men, and has besides a picked Civil Guard of 4,000 men, then it will be amply well protected against any assault or any internal danger.
I am approaching this question, not from a Washington Convention point of view and reduction of armaments. I am not approaching it as a League of Nations enthusiast. This question should be approached solely from one point of view, that of the Free State taxpayer. I am one who in a few months from now will 1325 likely be taxed, and probably heavily taxed by the Free State Government. Every sensible man will recognise that the Irish Free State will be a country like Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, and JugoSlavia. It will be mainly an agricultural country. Unless the Free State is going to print paper money, or cripple its inhabitants with over-taxation, it cannot afford an expensive military establishment. It can only afford something in the nature of a small inexpensive militia. I should like to get from the Government that when they made this Treaty on behalf of the Government with the Irish Free State representatives that they gave them to understand that this Army would be a small inexpensive local militia and not a highly paid expensive standing force. I should like to know what at the present time what are the numbers of the Irish Republican Army. I see brigades dashing about here and there. Companies going here and there, and battalions going forward, and so on. I imagine that the number of men in arms in Ireland to-day is probably more than 20,000. Therefore I second this Amendment with the idea of getting from the Government exactly what has been arranged between themselves and Mr. Collins and the other gentlemen who appended their names to the Treaty. If they give us that, then I for one shall be very much obliged.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill)
No exact or detailed settlement was arrived at as to the basis or definition of what the Forces of the Irish Free State were to be compared with the Forces of Great Britain. The words in the Treaty embodied the whole agreement, so far as it was carried by the parties on both sides. Therefore there is latitude in interpretation. Of course, I am free to confess that no interpretation which we might put on it in this House can be final. Any dispute about the Treaty has got to be settled by agreement between the two parties concerned. If one, however, takes a reasonable view, and takes the figures as they are—at their highest—they would be very like the figures of which my hon. and gallant Friend has spoken, and on a logical basis, they should perhaps include a small regular force proportionate to our permanent and highly-trained Regular Army here, with another portion 1326 in the nature of a local Militia like our Territorial Army. That would be a fair comparison. An exact definition was not effected, and was not attempted to be reached, because the matter was not thought of sufficient importance to complicate the already difficult character of the negotiations. So we must stand on the words of Article 8. I can, however, quite conceive one interpretation which would give an increase of 4,000 or 5,000 men and another interpretation which would mean an abatement. But, taking the total at 30,000, we cannot conceive that it is likely to be a serious menace to this powerful country and Empire.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will put upon matters of expenditure in the Free State that searching criticism which he brings to bear on matters here, the result ought to be satisfactory. Anyhow, there is a margin of 4,000 or 5,000 men involved in the way in which this definition is ultimately interpreted. It is on that basis I propose to take the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend. He needs to be very careful. He says that the only question is that of the proportion of the Army in Ireland to the British Army, and suggests that it has been decided that the Irish Free State Army is to be in the same proportion to the population in Ireland as the British Army bears to the population of Great Britain. But he says the Northern area, that is Ulster, will opt out. If so, the Free State Army quota should be reduced. He will see that that will make a reduction of about one-third or one-fourth; that is to say, by 5,000 or 6,000 men. So the issue involved in the Amendment is not larger than the variation which in any case will arise upon the definition which is taken of what the military establishments of Great Britain are for the purpose of this Treaty. I am with the hon Member who moved this Amendment in his interpretation. That is the interpretation we had in our mind, and the view which I am advised is correct. Again, I say, we cannot lay down the law, but the view we are advised is correct is, that if Ulster opts out, the quota of the Free State Army would be reduced proportionately to the population, and that the proper construction of Article 8, if 1327 Ulster contracted out, would require the word "Ireland" to be read in the sense of the Irish Free State, and "Great Britain" to be read as "Great Britain and Northern Ireland." We have no power or means of altering the Treaty or of giving a different interpretation of it. I cannot accept the Amendment, because if it limits Article 8, it is outside my power and the power of the Government to accept it without altering the Treaty, and if it is in accordance with Article 8, then, obviously, it is unnecessary.
I hope the hon. Gentleman opposite will not press this Amendment. I do not think the apprehensions which he has expressed are really justified, and if he remembers the attitude of the Southern Irish throughout he will realise that those apprehensions are not justified, and it will be the effort of any Government in Southern Ireland to keep taxation as low as possible. It is obvious that the Southern Irish are inclined to use all their endeavours in the hope that there will ultimately be an alliance between the North and the South, and one of the things they rely upon to achieve that union is the existence of a lower scale of taxation in the South than in the North.
That is not the point. It seems to me that it will not only be the duty, but the pleasure of the Govern-of Southern Ireland to use all their endeavours to keep taxation at the lowest possible level. With regard to the immediate situation, I should say that it would be most dangerous not to allow those in Ireland who are loyally supporting this Treaty to use such methods as they are capable of employing to deal with the existing menace. I think to impose any limitations on the Free State Government to deal with the situation in Limerick would be unwise. We say to the Southern Irish, "We recognise your difficulties, and we will not insist too strictly upon imposing additional difficulties while things are in the present uncertain state in some parts of the South of Ireland."
I want the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill to 1328 give me a pledge if possible. He is a very considerable student of military history, and he is aware of the fact that a nation may keep at any particular moment a comparatively small body of troops under arms, say 20,000, but by passing men extremely rapidly through the ranks and keeping cadres waiting, a nation may have 20,000 or 30,000 men under arms at one moment, and in this way may produce 250,000 or 300,000 men at a crisis. The great example of this in history is the case of Prussia in 1812 and 1813. Prussia was restricted by a treaty with Napoleon to keeping not more than 40,000 men under arms, but she passed through the ranks of the regular army and through cadres an enormous number of short-service men, with the result that she declared war on Napoleon after the Moscow retreat, and produced not 40,000 troops, but 250,000 men, which afterwards developed into 350,000 men. What measures has the right hon. Gentleman taken in the Agreement he has made in this case in order to see that nothing of that kind can happen? We should be certain that the Irish Free State will only be able to keep a regular army of a limited long-service kind, and that there is nothing which she will be able to develop enormously at short notice.
Representations may be put forward that the Free State only requires 26,000 men under arms, but at the same time they may have a possibility of developing an attack on Ulster with ten times that force. There are ways of securing such things as agreements. The case of Bulgaria is a good example, where the character of the army and its strength is stipulated. It has to be a voluntary army and not raised by conscription, and its numbers are limited. It is important we should know that conscription will not be allowed in Ireland, that the passing of troops quickly through the ranks will not be instituted, and that Ireland will be provided with an army of well-trained and well-disciplined men and an army of a comparatively modest strength, strong enough to keep civil peace rather than a skeleton of what can be made into a most dangerous weapon of offence in times of trouble.
§ Sip F. BANBURY
I agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that the lesson of Prussia in the time of Napoleon at the beginning of the last 1329 century is one which we ought to bear in mind, not only with regard to Ireland, but in reference to other places at the present moment. The hon. Gentleman has asked the Colonial Secretary what steps the Government have taken in Ireland to meet that danger. I know it will be considered presumptuous for me to answer for the Government, but I am going to do so on this occasion. I have no hesitation in saying that the Government have taken no steps, and do not intend to take any steps, in that direction. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Captain Coote) seems to me to be of a very innocent sort, and he appears to have a child-like faith in Ireland generally, and in Southern Ireland in particular. He appears to think that by conciliation—I suppose he has explored every avenue to find it—he is going to secure peace. He seems to think that conciliation, by some miraculous process, is going to achieve fusion between Northern and Southern Ireland.
I have had a little longer experience in these matters than the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I venture to say that there is not the slightest chance of a union between Northern and Southern Ireland, either by conciliation or by force. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that taxation is going to be lowered in Southern Ireland. So it is, but only on some people, and there will be a great number of unfortunate people who will be taxed out of existence in order that the friends of the hon. and gallant Gentleman at the present time may help themselves to the property of their unfortunate neighbours who up to the present time have been loyal to the British Crown. The Colonial Secretary made what seemed to me to be a very startling announcement. Speaking in reference to the number of the Irish Free State Army, the right hon. Gentleman said the matter was not of sufficient importance to go into detail.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad I am not misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman, and I gather that he acquiesces in what I have stated. I am the last person to wish to misrepresent him or any other Member of the Government. He says that the size of the Irish Free State Army is a subject not of sufficient importance to 1330 go into detail about. I was not aware that this Amendment was coming on, but if I had been, I could have brought down quotation after quotation from speeches by Members who sit on the Treasury Bench in which they declare that they would not grant Dominion Home Rule to Ireland because it would involve an army. That was said by right hon. Gentleman opposite, including the Prime Minister. Having said that within the last one and a half years, that it is impossible to give Home Rule because it involves granting an armed force to Ireland, now we are told that it is not important to know what the number of the army is going to be.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Yes. Not beyond the broad issue involved in this proposal. That seems to me to be a very startling proposition, and it is rendered more startling by the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman) who has given us an account of what took place in 1812. The Colonial Secretary apparently is just as innocent as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely, because the right hon. Gentleman says if Ulster refuses to accept this offer and declines to join with the Free State—which is certainly not controlled by people with a very high reputation—certain things will happen, and Ulster may be cajolled into accepting this arrangement. That is all nonsense, because Ulster is not going to have anything whatever to do with the Free State. Under those circumstances, I think we have to consider whether or not this proposal to allow the Free State in Ireland to have an army of this sort is not only a very great menace to Ulster but also to England as well—perhaps I ought to say to Great Britain.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The general question of the military force to be raised in Ireland is not raised in this Amendment. All that is raised is the size of the army, if Ulster either decide to come in or to remain outside the orbit of the Free State.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understood the Amendment to be:Provided always that if an Address is presented to His Majesty by the Houses of Parliament of Northern Ireland under 1331 Article 12 of the said Agreement the military defence forces of the Irish Free State mentioned in Article 8 of the Agreement shall then not exceed in size such proportion of the military establishments maintained in Great Britain as the population of the Free State bears to the population of Great Britain.What I was going to say was that the votes of hon. Members should be given in support of this Amendment, because unless that is done a greater force may be maintained than was originally proposed to be maintained, and that that would be a menace to this country. That was the argument I intended to put before the House. Unless something be done to ensure that this force is kept within reasonable limits, it would be a menace to this country. Under these circumstances, I am rather inclined to think that it is a matter of considerable importance, and we ought to show that we regard it as being such by going into the Division Lobby. I consider it advisable that it should be shown that some limit should be put to the force.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I think my hon. Friends from Ulster take the same view as I do with regard to this matter. It is a matter of supreme unimportance one way or another. I pay no attention to the Amendment or to Article 8 because I know that, whatever force the Free State desire they will have, and the Treaty will make no difference. The Ulster people understand that, as soon as the Bill goes through, it will be necessary for them to provide themselves with a sufficient force to protect themselves.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE
The Colonial Secretary's statement that it was a matter of little importance what number of men might be raised now, under Article 8, is typical of the way in which the Government have dealt with the whole of the Agreement. The question of the force is one of the most important things. Speaking in this House, I think it was at the end of December, 1920, the Prime Minister, I remember very well, attacked the proposal to have Dominion Home Rule and actually mentioned the number of men which it would be possible for Ireland to raise if we gave them Dominion Home Rule. He mentioned between four and five hundred thousand men. I remember that he held it up to frighten the Labour party. The Prime Minister told them in effect, You have always been against conscrip- 1332 tion, and yet, if we were to allow this, we should have to have conscription in this country. That showed the importance that the Prime Minister attached at that time to the matter, but, of course, they have changed their ideas, and we now learn from the lips of the Colonial Secretary that it was not considered to be of sufficient importance even to allow it to be put down in black and white. Apparently we are not to be allowed to put even a very mild interpretation on this matter. It is being left entirely for the Irish Free State to interpret it just as they like. We can well understand the manner in which they will interpret it, for Mr. Michael Collins, speaking on Sunday last, in alluding to North East Ulster, said:If the Free State was established, union was certain. Forces of pressure and persuasion were embodied in the Treaty which would bring them both into a united Ireland.With great respect to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill), I do not agree that it is a matter of little importance. Surely, it was one of the first things the Government should have done in framing the Agreement with these representatives of the Irish rebels? It was one of their first duties to the people of this country to say that it was not possible to allow a big force to be raised. Then the Colonial Secretary tells us that it is a matter of no importance. The whole manner in which the Agreement has been carried out shows that the Government has been dictated to by the Irish rebels. These are matters which jeopardise not only Ireland, but the safety of this kingdom. It has been left to be interpreted not by a clearly-drawn Treaty or Agreement, but to the Irish State to do as they like. It is one of those things, like other matters we have heard about, such as the boundaries question, which may lead to grave differences of opinion. We may have the representatives of the Irish Free State saying that they understood that they were allowed to have as large a force as they liked, and that they can raise three or four hundred thousand men by means of conscription if they like. Surely, the right hon. Gentleman, who has been a widely travelled soldier and has fought in a great many campaigns throughout the world, must have devoted some attention to this matter while the Agreement 1333 was being put through I suggest that it was his duty above all people—he who had certainly far more military experience than others of the British negotiators—to see that it was not possible for the Irish Free State to go behind the word of
§ the Treaty and raise these forces, such as they can do now, without breaking the Treaty in any way.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 41; Noes, 275.1335
|Division No. 42.]||AYES.||[5.11 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gretton, Colonel John||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Stewart, Gershom|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Whitia, Sir William|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Nall, Major Joseph||Mr. Pennefather and Col. Newman.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Cope, Major William||Hancock, John George|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Ammon, Charles George||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Armitage, Robert||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Haslam, Lewis|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hinds, John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hirst, G. H.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Dean, Commander P. T.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Edge, Captain Sir William||Hodge, James Myles|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelity)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Barrand, A. R.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Fildes, Henry||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Finney, Samuel||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Irving, Dan|
|Bigland, Alfred||Foot, Isaac||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Forestler-Walker, L.||Jesson, C.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||France, Gerald Ashburner||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Johnstone, Joseph|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Galbraith, Samuel||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Britton, G. B.||Gange, E. Stanley||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Ganzonl, Sir John||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Bromfield, William||Gardiner, James||Kellaway, Rt- Hon. Fredk. George|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Gardner, Ernest||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Gillis, William||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Kiley, James Daniel|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Glanville, Harold James||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Cairns, John||Glyn, Major Ralph||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)|
|Casey, T. W.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Lawson, John James|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Grundy, T. W.||Lorden, John William|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Lunn, William|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hailwood, Augustine||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Halls, Walter||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Redmond, Captain William Archer||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Maryhill)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Remer, J. R.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Martin, A. E.||Randall, Athelstan||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Matthews, David||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Robertson, John||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Rodger, A. K.||Wallace, J.|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Rose, Frank H.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Royce, William Stapleton||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Morris, Richard||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Morrison, Hugh||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Murchison, C. K.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Seager, Sir William||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Myers, Thomas||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Sexton, James||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Wignall, James|
|Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Norman, Major Ht. Hon. Sir Henry||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|O'Connor, Thomas P||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Parker, James||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Wilson. Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Pearce, Sir William||Spencer, George A.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Stanley, Major Hon, G. (Preston)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Stanton, Charles Butt||Winterton, Earl|
|Perring, William George||Starkey, Captain John Ralph||Wise, Frederick|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Sugden, W. H.||Young. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Sutherland, Sir William||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Pratt, John William||Sutton, John Edward||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Purchase, H. G.||Swan, J. E.|
|Rae, H. Norman||Taylor, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Members for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Pennefather) and for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Harmsworth)—at the end of Sub-section (1) to insert the wordsProvided that the military establishments in Great Britain referred to in Article 8 of the said Agreement shall be understood to be those maintained in Great Britain for Home Defence and not such as may be maintained either in or out of Great Britain for service elsewhere.is covered by the discussion which has just taken place.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsProvided that the British Government assumes ultimate responsibility for the payment under Article 10 of fair compensation in terms not less, favourable than those agreed on by the Act of 1920 to judges, officials, members of police forces, and other public servants who are discharged by the Government of the Irish Free State or who retire in consequence of the change of government to be carried out, and that such sums as may be incurred by the British Government in satisfying these claims shall be set off in the balance to be struck between the two Governments as a claim against the Government of the Irish Free State.This Amendment is simply a safeguarding Amendment, and, therefore, it is one 1336 which I hope the Government may see it right to accept. It does not really affect the Treaty except to put the ultimate responsibility for the payment of certain pensions upon the British Government instead of leaving it entirely to the Provisional Government. I cannot conceive that the Provisional Government or the Irish Free State Government would have any objection to the Amendment which I am proposing. The reasons for it are these. There are a great many officials in Ireland, who, after all, contracted to serve not the Irish Free State Government or a Republican Government or the Provisional Government, but the British Government. Many of them have served many years and are approaching the time for retiring and receiving pensions which are in the nature of deferred pay. These people find themselves in a very bad position under this Treaty, because the responsibility for paying them their pensions and giving them their gratuities on retirement is placed on the Irish Free State Government instead of resting on the Imperial Government. The interests of the people to whom I allude—and they form a very large class including Local Government officials, magistrates, policemen, ex-soldiers and pensioners, many of whom have served 1337 the Imperial Government for many years—were carefully safeguarded by this House in Section 54 in the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, which states that these officiate shallcontinue to receive the same salary, gratuities and pensions, and to enjoy the same rights and privileges and to be liable to perform the same duties … or such duties as His Majesty may declare to be analogous, and their salaries and pensions shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, or the growing produce thereof, and all sums so paid shall be made good by means of deductions from the Irish Residuary share of reserved taxes under this Act in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury.That completely safeguarded the position of these officials, but under this Agreement that safeguard has disappeared, and these men, many of whom have served long years under the British Government, and have shown themselves to be loyal officials, are now to be placed at the mercy of men who, at any rate up till quite recently, were enemies of the British Government. Assuming that the Irish Free State Government intend to carry out with goodwill everything in this Treaty, and to pay these men their pensions and gratuities, how are we to know that Mr. de Valera and his followers may not at some future time secure success at an election and proclaim a Republic, with the result that all these pensioners will probably find themselves, because they have been loyal officials and servants of the British Government, in the position of having their pensions stopped and of being impoverished and possibly driven out of Ireland? I suggest it is the absolute duty in honour of this House, acting in the name of England, to see that justice is done to these loyal men. It must be remembered that the more loyal they have been to the British Government, the more they are likely to be penalised. They are in fact being penalised at the present time. I have a letter here from a local government official who up till December last was receiving his pay from the British Government. He had been dismissed by a county council because he refused to carry out illegal orders which he received from that body. It was a Sinn Fein council which dismissed him, and the British Government, recognising their liability, went on paying him his salary, because he was their servant and not a servant of Sinn Fein. The Government 1338 continued paying it up till December last, the money being derived from Grants-in-Aid which were withheld from these public bodies, the Lord Lieutenant having declared that these officials should continue to receive their pay out of these Grants-in-Aid.
This shows that the Government recognised their liability up till December last. Directly the Agreement was signed this man's pay ceased and he and his fellows are beginning to find that their loyal service to the British Government in the past is now placing them in a very bad financial position. This Amendment seeks to make it absolutely certain that these men shall not suffer in this way, and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that this is a matter in which the honour of this country is involved. It has never been the case before that any large number of men—there may have been individual instances—have been turned out of their employment and their contracts with the Government cancelled and repudiated by a British Government. The word of England has been passed in these cases. It is the proudest word which holds good among all the nations of the world. In Latin countries, in South America, if a man wishes to say that what he has declared is absolutely true, he swears by the English word. [An HON. MEMBER: "British!"] No doubt the Scottish people who have been in South America have been mixed up in the Spanish mind under the word "English" and so, too, have the Irish in the past, for they all came under the generic term "English." I submit that these men have an absolute contract with the Government which they elected to serve and that the Government cannot—no matter what it may cost—shed its responsibility for paying their pensions, and it cannot place the burden upon the shoulders of any other Government.
I beg to second the Amendment.
It is a matter for some astonishment, to my mind, that, whereas in the Bill of 1920 there were no less than six Clauses, covering eight pages, devoted to this question of the payment of compensation to civil servants and others in Ireland who would or might lose their positions in Ireland when that particular Bill became an Act, as it did, now the 1339 whole thing is boiled down to a Clause of only 6½ lines in the Treaty. That Clause in the Treaty simply states, for what it is worth, that compensation shall be paid on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920. If this Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland had been a Treaty in the real sense of the word—if it had been a handshake between the two nations, between two peoples long estranged, who were both members of the same great Empire, and who were now going to clear up all their difficulties and come together in peace and amity for evermore—if the joy bells which rang in this country on that day last December had also rung out in Dublin the next morning—matters would have been different. But that is not so. It is not a handshake. It is simply regarded by the Irish Free State authorities as a method of getting the English bag and baggage out of Ireland. I am not complaining of that; I am not even saying that it is new. It happened in 1898, when the late Mr. John Redmond, speaking about eight miles from where I live, said:Our object is to get the British bag and baggage out of Ireland.The object of this Treaty is to do that, to get the British connection out of Ireland and to get finished with it. That being so, we have to look to what treatment those who have formed our connection up to now will receive when this Treaty goes from our hands and becomes an Act of Parliament. My hon. and gallant Friend has asked what will be the treatment accorded to the Royal Irish Constabulary? I have here a letter which really gives a small pen picture of the future of the Royal Irish Constabulary. It is written to me by a woman in Dublin, and it says:My husband was demobilised from the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1917 owing to injuries received on active service during the Easter week trouble the previous year. He was awarded a disability pension of 22s. a week. Within three months he was appointed a clerk in the Department of Agriculture and has worked there since. His activities in the Royal Irish Constabulary won him early promotion and about a score of favourable records, all of which now militate against him. His recent request for permanent appointment in the Civil Service has been refused for reasons stated in the attached letter.The attached letter is to the effect that no member of the Royal Irish Constabu- 1340 lary can come under the terms of the Lytton Report, because service in the Royal Irish Constabulary is not recognised as service in His Majesty's forces.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
The question is not whether the Provisional Government are likely to admit members of the Royal Irish Constabulary to the Civil Service, or otherwise, but who shall be responsible for the compensation which they are to receive. I do not think it would be possible to allow the hon. and gallant Member to pursue his present line of argument.
What I was going to endeavour to do was to point out to the House that someone has got to be responsible for the condition in which this unfortunate man finds himself, and I suggest that we ought to make it perfectly clear that the Irish Free State Government will have to be responsible. At the moment they refuse to do so. If I may read on, I shall be able to show my meaning. The letter proceeds:He was specially mobilised for and despatched on active service by order of General Maxwell in April, 1916, and was so injured in discharging active military duties that his health gave way and he lost his situation.Then he got appointed to this position in the Board of Agriculture in Dublin, but his application that his appointment might be made permanent was refused, although the Board had no hesitation—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The very terms of this Amendment assume that there will be a number of ex-officers in Ireland who will have lost their employment. The question is who shall be responsible for the compensation paid to them. It is unnecessary for the hon. and gallant Member to labour the point, because the terms of the Amendment assume it.
I will ask the Colonial Secretary, when he comes to reply, to say that in a case of this sort the Irish Free State Government will be responsible for compensating the man for the injuries he suffered and the disability under which he labours. I could quote many more instances of hardship which the Royal Irish Constabulary, at any rate, fear they are going to suffer. I get letters from, them every day, and not only could I quote their grievances or feared grievances, but those of other 1341 classes of civil servants. With regard, for instance, to resident magistrates, are they going to be properly compensated when we leave the country? I have had several letters from them—from men who fear that, after having served this country faithfully in positions of great danger and difficulty, they are now going to be let down and left to starve on a miserably inadequate pension. I want to be told that that is not so. I do not want to labour the point or to put myself out of order, but this is our last chance to get from the Government an assurance that these faithful servants of the Crown, the difficulties and dangers of whose work are known to us who live in Ireland, are not going to be thrown to the wolves, but will got the full terms that they would have got under the Act of 1920.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
If the Minister is going, to accept this Amendment, I have nothing to say, but if not, I should like to supplement what the Mover and Seconder of the Ajnendment have said. The people affected by this Amendment are those who constituted the link between Great Britain and Ireland. Civil servants and others in Ireland were really divided into two classes. There were those who were intensely loyal to the British connection, and who believed that Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom; and there were those who, while under the British rule, were really steeped to the neck in Sinn Fein beliefs and doctrines. Dublin Castle was honeycombed in that way, and it even penetrated to some extent into the military service. That was largely why the policy which the Chief Secretary tried to carry out broke in his hands. It seems to me monstrous that these loyal men should now be left to the tender mercies of the Free State Government. We do not know yet whether there is going to be any Government in Ireland or not, or which of the parties is going to prevail. We do not know whether the South may not be reduced to a state of anarchy. We hope not; we hope that this experiment may turn out to be successful; but we have no right whatever to transfer these loyal servants for pension purposes to new employers. We are the people who employed them, and it is our duty to see them through. It is monstrous that we should depart from that duty and try to shift our responsibilities on to other 1342 shoulders. They had no option, no chance of changing their minds. I wish the Leader of the House were here to take a hand in this matter. He must remember that he is putting a great strain on many of us. There has not been such a sudden change of policy by any leader of a political party since what happened to Saul on the road to Damascus. Many of us wish to see this Treaty through, and to help to make it successful, but we do not think we should do that at the expense of any of those who have risked their lives and fortunes for a great many years, believing, above all things, in the word and good faith of Britain.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Article 10 of the Treaty prescribes thatThe Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920"—to which Act the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman) referred in eulogistic terms, describing how many of its Clauses were taken up in dealing with this matter. The Article further prescribes:The Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920 to judges, officials, members of police forces, and other public servants who are discharged by it or who retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance hereof.We rest on the Treaty, which it is the duty and obligation of the Free State Government to carry out fully, fairly, and strictly. If, however, they do not—if any of the evil anticipations in which hon. Gentlemen have indulged come to pass, if there is no Government in Ireland, if there is nothing but anarchy, if there is a Government with which we are in a state of complete hostility—if that state of affairs is created, what is to happen? The Leader of the House, on the 19th December last, in answer to the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) said:Clause 10 of the Articles of Agreement defines the obligations of the Irish Free State in regard to the compensation of existing police and civil officials who may retire or be discharged in consequence of the change of government. The police and the officials concerned are assured of treatment not less favourable than that provided in the Government of Ireland Act, and His Majesty's Government will be the guarantor of their pensions."—[OFFICIAL REPOKT, 19th December, 1921; col. 413, Vol. 149.]1343 In the ultimate issue we are the guarantor of their pensions. I do not propose, however, to accept this Amendment and to write this upon the text of the present Bill. I think that to do so would be to throw a quite unjustifiable slur upon the action of a Government which has not yet come into existence, and which, if it comes into existence at all, will do so on the basis of the Treaty, and will, we must assume, honourably execute the provisions of the Treaty. I could not accept the suggestion that this provision be inserted. I think it would tend to encourage people to think that they were entitled to evade their obligations, and to regard it as a statutory provision, in the event of their doing so, for the Government assuming responsibility. It would be most unfortunate to begin by assuming that an Irish Free State Government—which, after all, is the goal of this policy, and without which the policy would fail and many grave and immeasurable evils would supervene in our affairs—would not carry out its obligations. To assume that would be a great mistake, and I hope the Committee will not agree with those who would so assume.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
For once, I am very glad to say, I agree with the Colonial Secretary. He has repeated, I understand with approval, the statement made by the Leader of the House on 19th December, that this country will see that the actual money is paid. Under these circumstances, it would be a mistake to put anything into the Treaty which would leave the Free State in the position that all they had to do was to repudiate their share of the bargain, and then the British taxpayer would pay.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am quite aware of that piece at the end. My hon. and gallant Friend and I are at one in these matters and neither of us believes in the Irish Free State, or any arrangement which may be made. I know what that settlement will be. We shall pay and we shall get nothing back. I do not want to encourage the Irish Free State to think that all they have to do is to say: "You must look after your own affairs. You have put it in the Treaty 1344 and you have to pay." I am rather inclined to think it would be better to be satisfied with the declaration of the Colonial Secretary. But I should like the Government to give us clearly to understand, in no uncertain terms, that should the unfortunate circumstance arise of the Irish Free State repudiating their bargain, these people would not suffer.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Sir Hamar Greenwood)
We have said so.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not want to say anything in any kind of way offensive, but over and over again statements have been made which have not been adhered to, and, therefore, if we are supporting the Government at present, we ought to have it clearly stated by some authoritative person that that is not going to take place.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I should like to ask the Chief Secretary a point on which I am not quite clear. Have we the assurance of the Government that all these pensions, which primarily fall upon the Free State, are guaranteed by the British Government in case the Free State does not carry out its obligations, and does it include not merely the salaries of the judges and police, but of all the public servants who are referred to in this Clause?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The hon. Baronet did not understand the Colonial Secretary. In answer to a question put down by himself on December last, the Leader of the House said:Clause 10 of the Articles of Agreement defines the obligations of the Irish Free State in regard to the compensation of existing police and civil officials who may retire or be discharged in consequence of the change of Government. The police and officials concerned are assured of treatment not less favourable than that provided in the Government of Ireland Act, and His Majesty's Government will be the guarantor of their pensions.I do not think it could be put more clearly than that. That answer of the Lord Privy Seal was carefully prepared to meet the question of the hon. Baronet.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I am very much obliged to the Chief Secretary. That removes the doubt I had. I was under the impression that the answer did not 1345 apply to all the officials in the public service who are referred to. If it does, it removes apprehensions on that score. Having got that from the Government, I suggest that it is most desirable to put it into this Bill. I am not casting any slur on the Irish Free State. We know that they are in great straits for money at present, and they may be in great straits for money in the future. If I suggest that possibly they may not be able to get the money to pay all these pensions and their other obligations, I am not saying that they are necessarily a corrupt and incompetent Government. I do not think anyone in the House will say it is not possible that that event may arise. If that is so, surely these old servants of the Crown, judges and others, who have served the Crown faithfully ought not to be left out in the cold. If there is no money in the Free State, surely this country, which appointed them, which has had the benefit of their service, and by whose action they lose their positions, ought to see that they are paid. It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman says: "I promise you on the Floor of the House that they shall be paid." That is really not the way to do business. If you want to secure their position, you ought to put it in an Act of Parliament. What is the objection to that? I cannot see it. If you do not put it into the present Bill, will there be any opportunity of putting it into another Bill? It cannot go into the Bill dealing with the Constitution. We are not to be allowed to amend that. Can the right hon. Gentleman point to any other Bill which is coming on into which we shall be able to put a provision of this sort?
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Supposing the Government ever become liable, they will have to pass a Bill to impose an obligation on the Exchequer.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
It is obvious that we cannot impose a liability on the Exchequer by the mere statement of a Minister. It obviously requires legislation to make good the promise the right hon. Gentleman has given us, but surely now is the time to do it. A year hence, when the occasion arises, there may possibly be a different staff on that bench from the people who now ornament it. Will they necessarily be bound by the pledges given by my right hon. Friend? I do not know. Perhaps 1346 they are. But be that as it may, sooner or later those promises given the other day will have to be put into an Act of Parliament. Why should it not be put in now? I am quite certain there is not a man in this House, whichever side he sits on, who wants to desert these old servants of the Crown or leave them to starve after their long service. There is not a man in the House who would not desire that our obligations should be recorded in this Bill and be made binding on us, and that would remove what at this moment is a very grave source of anxiety to these people.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HURST
I should like to reinforce the point which has just been made. I approach this question from a very different angle from that from which it has been approached by a good many speakers. I have not spoken or voted against the Government yet on the Committee stage because I believe this Treaty, however much it may be criticised, is the best way out of a very difficult and bad situation. I am quite prepared to accept the formula of the Government that we must not go beyond the Treaty. We must have the Treaty, the whole Treaty and nothing but the Treaty in this Bill. Nevertheless, there is nothing in the Amendment repugnant to the Treaty in any way. It does not go to the root of the primary liability of the Government of the Irish Free State. What it does is to add to that liability an additional security to the people whose pension rights we all want to see secured. The Government offers an oral promise that these men shall be looked after by the British Government if the Irish Government does not fulfil its obligation. If they have no objection to undertaking that liability, what objection can they take to having that liability given the sanction of an Act of Parliament? The difference is between the mere obiter dictumof a Minister and a statutory guarantee on which these civil servants can rely. From the point of view of the civil servant, that is all the difference in the world. Another party may come into power which may ignore this purely moral obligation, whereas if this Amendment is accepted, the pensioner will be able to rely on a statutory guarantee which is available under all circumstances. There is therefore all the difference in the world from the point of view of the civil 1347 servant, whose interests we wish to see protected.
We are told that Clause 10 of the Treaty gives them a sufficient guarantee. It is quite clear that the agreements there entered into by the Government of the Irish Free State are really unenforceable. These officers have no agreement of service with the Irish Free State Government, and therefore a Law Court in the Irish Free State would in all probability refuse to recognise any legal obligation at all. Under Clause 10 the Government of the Irish Free State do not enter into any contractual relations with their servants. It is simply a pledge to the British Government, and it would therefore be futile for any of these officers in the future to take proceedings in Irish Courts for their pensions or for compensation. Their position is really very similar to that of the loyalists in North America after the War of Independence. At the end of the American Revolution the new Government of the United States undertook to secure that no loyalists there would suffer by reason of their adherence to the Mother Country during the War. With the best will in the world the Government of the United States was unable to fulfil that undertaking, and the British Government had ultimately to pay many millions in compensation to these loyalists. Where great men like Washington and Hamilton failed, it is not likely that men like Collins and Griffith will succeed. The rights which we give by Clause 10 of the Treaty are not enforceable. They are simply dependent upon the grace of the Free State Government, and the probability is that with the best intentions in the world the Free State Government will be unable to give effect to its good intentions and to give the civil servants those rights which we are all anxious to see enforced. That being the case, it is clear that a statutory guarantee by the British Government is necessary, and for these reasons moderate men—those who wish to see the Treaty carried out to the fullest possible extent—will certainly be with those who have raised this point on this Amendment in hoping that the Government will see their way to give what is only just and right to these civil servants.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ASHLEY
The Government is extremely narrow-minded in deal- 1348 ing with this Bill. They seem absolutely unable to go outside the text of the Bill. They seem to be afraid to move one inch further than the printed matter in front of their noses. What can be the reason for that? It seems to me that they must have given some pledge, verbal or written, to the representatives of Sinn Fein that when the Bill was brought before the House of Commons they would accept no Amendment of any description. I understand the Chief Secretary says he is in complete agreement with the sense of this Amendment and pledges the Government, in the event of the Free State Government failing to fulfil its obligations, to carry out these obligations. If the Minister says the Government is willing to do that, why does he refuse to give it the force of law? In a year or so, when these things come up, some other Government—a Labour Government—may be in charge. More unlikely things have happened than that, and hon. Members opposite naturally will not be bound by pledges given by a former Government. The Government obstinately refuse day after day to accept any Amendments even though they entirely agree with them.
There must be something which we do not understand, and something which is not creditable to the Government, to cause them to carry on their business in this way. Why are we doubtful whether the Free State Government will be able to carry out this obligation? Ireland is not a rich country. There will be a great number of people who will have to be found jobs when the Free Stat* Government is set up. There will be a great deal of social and material reconstruction to be carried out if Southern Ireland, which has been so much desolated in the last few years, is to be put right, and, with all the best will in the world, a new Government in Ireland will say, "Our friends first, and those who served our enemies last." Therefore these discharged officials will be the last of the beneficiaries of the Free State Government. Though they might be paid in time, they would have to wait a long time. On that ground, I press the Government to consider the matter, and to see whether they could not insert in the Bill a provision that the British nation has still some gratitude for those whom it is casting off, and will see that their pensions and the money owing to them are properly paid.
1349 There is another contingency which the Committee ought to face, and it is a real live possibility, and that is that the Free State Government may never function, and that a Republic may be set up. We see grave signs of unrest in many parts of Ireland. We see open rebellion against the Provisional Government. The golden opportunity for a General Election has been allowed to slip by, and has been put off for three or four months. I would not be in the least surprised if, when that General Election does take place, a Republican majority is returned in Southern Ireland, and not a majority favourable to the Free State. Where will the pledges for these wretched men be then? The Republican majority, even though they do not set up a real Republic, will say: "We are not bound by the pledges of Mr. Arthur Griffith or of Mr. Collins. We have always profoundly disagreed with them. We are not going to pay these pensions and this money owing to the servants of the hated English. We will not pay them one penny," What these wretched men can get is simply the word of the Chief Secretary, who as an honourable man would carry out his pledge if he could, but he may not be here, and his Government may not be here. However important a man may be, be he the Chief Secretary or not, his word does not carry one ounce of weight in a Court of Law. All that the Court of Law says is, "What is in the Act of Parliament?" and it takes no account of the declarations of Ministers, however important. On these grounds I do earnestly press the Government as a mere question of justice to do something really definite for these unfortunate people.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I find it exceedingly difficult to reconcile the answer given by the Lord Privy Seal to the hon. and learned Member for York, with the actual text of the Treaty, and I would call the attention of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the terms of Article 10—The Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920 to judges, officials, members of police forces, and other public servants who are discharged," etc.Then there is a Proviso in the following terms: 1350Provided that this Agreement shall not apply to members of the Auxiliary Police Force or to persons recruited in Great Britain for the Royal Irish Constabulary during the two years next preceding the date hereof.The words to which I wish to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for the Colonies are the following:The British Government will assume responsibility for such compensation or pensions as may be payable to any of these excepted persons.What is the inference? In set terms the British Government accept responsibility for such compensation or pensions as may be payable to the excepted persons. The inference is, that they do not accept responsibility for the earlier part of the Clause. That is the distinct inference from, the actual terms of the Treaty. We have the Colonial Secretary quoting the opinion, or, as the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Lieut. -Colonel Hurst) described it, the obiter dictumof the Lord Privy Seal, in which he said that the British Government would assume responsibility for, and would guarantee, the payment of these pensions to the judges and other civil servants who were dispossessed, if the Irish Free State failed to fulfil their obligations. If that is so, why does not the Colonial Secretary accept the terms of this Amendment, which are in no way an infraction of the terms of the Treaty? I realise that the Government are not in a position to alter by a comma the actual Agreement which they have made with the Free State, but I ask the Government and the Committee this question: "Does this Amendment alter in any way, either in law or in morals, the obligations which the Government have entered into with the Free State in regard to the civil servants?" In these circumstances, I invite the Colonial Secretary to explain the omission from the earlier part of Article 10 of the proviso referred to.
§ Viscount CURZON
In the event of the Free State Government not being able or not wishing to carrying out the obligations they have entered into under this Treaty, I understand that the Leader of the House has said that the British Government will undertake the liability. If that is so, will legislation be required to carry out the obligation which the Leader of the House admitted? If legislation is necessary, can the Colonial 1351 Secretary give an undertaking that he will bring in such legislation to enable the House to deal with the question?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
My reply to the Noble Lord is, that you must have a Vote if you are going to pay money to the pensioners indicated in Article 10.
§ Sir JAMES GREIG
The Amendment does not cover the cases in the contingency to which my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Ashley) referred. Suppose the Free State Government is not formed, this Amendment would not operate, because it refers tojudges, officials, members of police forces, and other public servants who are discharged by the Government of the Irish Free State.It is far better, instead of putting in something which will not operate if the contingency which some hon. Members seem to fear arises, to leave it to the general moral obligation of His Majesty's Government, which has been given in face of the whole country. That will be much bettor than putting in an Amendment which will not cover the cases that might arise. Moreover, by inserting this Amendment we show doubt on our part as to the bona fidesof any Free State Government which is going to be set up. To put such a provision in the Statute would be the very worse thing we could do.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The Committee is entitled to know where it stands in regard to the discussion of this Measure. Do the Government consider it a point of honour to accept no Amendment whatever on this Bill?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is not in order to raise that point on the present occasion. We must deal with each Amendment as we come to it.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
The Amendment before the House is exactly one which emphasises my point. It is in no sense a wrecking Amendment. It in no sense dictates to any Irish Government, but is purely a matter of guarantee on the part of the British Government. It has been moved in most moderate terms, and it is accepted practically by the Colonial Secretary, who gives a verbal guarantee that the British Government will fulfil what is stated in this Amendment, but by reason of a point of honour, which is 1352 apparently enforced by the Government, or some one behind the Government, he will not accept it and put it in the Bill. If that is so, hon. Members would be very well advised to take no further part in the discussion of the Bill on the Report stage. It is a perfect farce, and it is degrading to the House of Commons that Amendments which are perfectly reasonable, and which are admitted by the Government to be reasonable, and which are even guaranteed verbally by the Government, are not to be put into the Bill. To proceed as a legislative assembly with a sham discussion when we are treated in this way is an absurdity, and I will take no further part in this stage of the Bill.
§ Mr. SPENCER
I have a very great measure of sympathy with the very difficult position in which the supporters of the Amendment find themselves. On the one hand they have no faith whatever in the Free State Government discharging its duties at any time, and on the other hand they have no faith—and the last speaker was perhaps more pronounced than anyone else on this point—either in the British Parliament or the British Government or the British people. Nevertheless, the hon. Member is seeking to transfer a legitimate burden which should be borne by the Free State Government to a Parliament in which he has absolutely no faith. In the few words which the hon. Member has expressed tonight he has recanted the statements which he has been making consistently in regard to this Measure. We have this most amazing spectacle to Members on this side of the House of finding hon. Members opposite saying that they cannot trust either the Free State Government or the British House of Commons, while the hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Colonel Ashley) could not even trust the Labour party when they come into power. Even after a declaration has been made by responsible Ministers that the financial obligation will be borne by this country and this Parliament if the Free State Government fails to meet its obligations, they have absolutely no faith in themselves, in this Parliament or in anyone else.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and 1353 learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher)—at the end of Sub-section (1) to insert the wordsSubject to the following modification, that is to say, the oath to be taken by Members of the Parliament of the Irish Free State shall be in like form as the oath required to be taken by Members of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada"—is out of order. It would negative the Treaty.
The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harms-worth)—in Sub-section (2), after the word "to" ["to Article 17"] to insert the words "the said"—applies to a question which was ruled out of order to-day.
The Amendment in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Finehley (Colonel Newman)—in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "the house of"—is constitutionally wrong.
The Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Dublin University (Mr. Jellett)—at the end of Sub-section (2) to insert the wordsProvided always that in the event of the said Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland not being ratified by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members so elected to constitute the said Parliament within twenty-eight days from the date on which the said Parliament shall be first summoned to meet this Act and all the provisions therein contained shall cease to have effect, and all the provisions of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, shall thereupon become operative as if this Act had not been passed"—would have the effect of negativing the Treaty.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to add the wordsAny Order in Council under this Section may contain such incidental, consequential, or supplemental provisions as may appear to be necessary or proper for the purpose of giving effect to the foregoing provisions of this Section.This is the Amendment which I moved in the Committee stage and which I was asked to postpone until the Report stage. I acceded to that request entirely in order to have some occasion of agreeing to the wish of the Committee and not to lend colour to the statement which has been made so often that I am trying to meet every suggestion with a negative. This 1354 Amendment is being put in order to give reasonable facilities for dealing with incidental or supplemental provisions which may be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of Clause I. When this process of transferring the powers of the Government to the Provisional Government occurs, certain reactions will undoubtedly take place with regard to Ulster, owing to the area of some of the Departments of the Provisional Government being separated from the area of the present Irish Departments. We are taking this power in order to bring the Provisional Government in Southern Ireland into legal being without inconveniencing or hampering the administration of the Northern Government. It was said the other day in Committee by my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), that it was a most abominable thing for the Government to take this power to do anything and everything by Order in Council, that it was a sign of the growing degeneracy of the age and the decadence of Parliamentary institutions, and to emphasise this my Noble Friend went so far as to suggest that this particular phrase "incidental, consequential or supplemental" was traceable by its literary form to me. I cannot claim that credit. I just took the trouble in the interval to look up a few of the precedents for words of this description and there are numberless such precedents:
(1) The Winter Assizes Act, 1896, passed when a pure Conservative Government was in power, presided over by no less a statesman than Disraeli, provides in Section 2 (4) that an Order in Council made for uniting counties for the purposes of Winter Assizes may providefor any matters which appear to Her Majesty to be necessary or proper for carrying into effect an Order in Council under this Act.(2) The Municipal Corporations (New Charters Act), 1877, also passed when a pure Conservative Government was in power, provided that schemes adjusting property and liabilities on the creation of a new borough might containsuch provisions as appear to the Committee of Council to be necessary or proper for fully carrying into effect any such adjustment and provision as aforesaid.(3) The Local Government Act, 1888, when again there was a Conservative Government under the great Lord Salisbury, provided in Section 59 that 1355a scheme or Order under this Act may make such administrative and judicial arrangements incidental to or consequential on any alteration of boundaries, authorities or other matters made by the scheme or Order as may seem expedient.(4) The London Government Act, 1899, passed when a Unionist Government was in power, also under Lord Salisbury, provided in Section 16 that schemes made in connection with the establishment of the Metropolitan Boroughsmay contain"—I ask the House to give attention to these remarkable words which have been attributed to the exuberance of my literary fancy—any incidental, consequential or supplemental provisions which may appear to be necessary or proper for the purposes of the scheme.(5) The National Insurance Act, 1913, passed when a Liberal Government was in power, provides in Section 28 that regulations made by the Insurance Commissioners may containsuch incidental, supplemental and consequential provisions as appear necessary for modifying and adapting the provisions of the principal Act to the provisions of the regulations and otherwise for the purposes of the regulations.(6) The Acts establishing the Ministries of Health and Transport, passed by the present Coalition Government—I am increasing the weight of the authorities as I go along—provide that Orders in Council transferring powers under those Actsmay make such incidental, consequential and supplemental provisions as may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of giving full effect to any transfer of powers and duties.It will thus be seen that the powers contained in this Amendment are not new or revolutionary. There are precedents not only for the Amendment, but for the language in Acts passed by Governments of all kinds of political complexion, pure Conservative, Unionist, Liberal and Coalition that have existed in this country during the last 40 years. I trust that we may be allowed the latitude which all these distinguished authorities and administrations have taken on themselves in the past.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman has repudiated the authorship of what appears to be very excellent language. But may I draw attention to the fact that an Amendment 1356 of this description, which was apparently introduced in former days, dealt then merely with the establishment of local authorities, the boundaries of boroughs and matters of that sort, and that that is a very different thing from giving powers to a new Government.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad to say that I voted against that Act. Its absurdity is made manifest by the fact that we are now on the Report stage of a Bill which practically reverses everything in that Act. I do not think we need worry about the 1920 Act. This is a very much more important matter than the small matters connected with local authorities. No doubt when those particular Bills were introduced it was not thought necessary that the House of Commons should be consulted, but anything in reference to a new Government should be subject to the approval of the House of Commons. Sub-section (2) of Clause I of this Bill begins:For the purpose of giving effect to Article 17 of the said Agreement Orders in Council may be made.Then the powers of the Orders in Council are defined, and then the right hon. Gentleman wants to insert this Amendment at the end of the Subsection. I do not see the necessity of giving the power for Orders in Council at the beginning of the Clause and then inserting them in a slightly altered form at the end of the Clause, unless there is something which the House does not understand. When the Amendment was before the Committee it was postponed to the Report stage in order that we might have the opinion of the Ulster Members. It was said that it was necessary in their interests that this should be done. I am not satisfied that they are united in their idea as to what should be done. Even with regard to municipal and local matters, for which this principle was formerly introduced, it is a great mistake to allow it to be introduced into an Act of Parliament. During the War grave matters were delegated to the Privy Council, giving them the right to make Orders in Council affecting the liberties of the people in this country. Possibly in time of war that was inevitable, but the result is that at the present moment there is 1357 established in the minds of the Government an idea that all they have got to do is to introduce a certain Clause, and then tack on to it certain powers to issue Orders in Council which give them carte blanche so far as that Clause is concerned. Here the Government are to have power to do anything they like. Though I should be sorry to do anything which would in any way put difficulties in the way of the Ulster Government in administering their particular province, still this is a very important constitutional question. It is far beyond this Bill; it is far beyond even the question of Ulster. We cannot take up the line that this is a bad principle if it applies to the Labour party and a good principle if it affects our friends on this side. We must either take up the line that the principle is good or that it is bad, I think that the principle is bad and therefore I hope that the Government will not press this Amendment.
§ Colonel GRETTON
On this matter the right hon. Baronet is a great authority. There is no greater authority in this House on Parliamentary procedure. I desire to add a few words to what he has said. I will call attention to the words of the Colonial Secretary in his attempt to justify the language which he uses. His alliteration attracted the attention of certain Members—
§ Colonel GRETTON
In any case he endeavoured to show that language of a similar kind has been used in previous Acts of Parliament, but in all he said I did not catch one single instance where powers so wide and so sweeping, dealing with so vast a subject, have been handed over to any Government to be used by them through Orders in Council. The right hon. Gentleman quoted Orders dealing with matters of local government. He quoted powers given to make Regulations dealing with education and on other subjects, but all were of narrow range and none of them dealt with great national or constitutional questions. Here we are asked for the first time—certainly since I have been in Parliament—to hand over great administrative powers of a wide and sweeping character to the discretion of the Government of the day to be disposed of by Order in Council, 1358 without let or hindrance, in any way they may think fit. Surely this is a grave constitutional question. The Government in this particular Bill and in all this hasty legislation, have involved themselves in such a maze of irregularities that they have to take short cuts in order to solve the problem. In fact the Colonial Secretary has said that he does not know what may not be proposed. Anything may have to be done to deal with matters which may arise, and which, in the nature of the case, the Government have been unable to foresee I suggest that if this House does give these powers it ought to insist on the usual safegards, namely, that the Orders in draft, should lie upon the Table of the-House for a reasonable period in order that objection may be taken to them if necessary, and that they may be debated, and that the power of Parliament may not be altogether thrown away. Probably the House, at this stage, may be disposed to give these powers, however great the objection to doing so, but I think the Government should agree to allowing the Orders to lie upon the Table without becoming operative until a reasonable period has elapsed during which Parliament may take action. Much more may be said on the subject, and I propose, with your leave, Mr. Speaker, to move that a proviso be added to this Clause, that the Orders should lay upon the Table as I suggest.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Colonel GRETTON
I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the wordsProvided that any Order to be made under this Section shall lie upon the Table of both Houses of Parliament for 21 days on which Parliament is sitting, and that an Address may be presented to His Majesty, by either of the Houses of Parliament, praying that an Order may not be made.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
This is very sudden. I could not possibly agree to this very serious limitation on the necessary and legitimate facilities which the Government should have for setting up the Provisional Government. After all, we are having a very difficult task at the present time, and this Bill, if it passes, will deal only with an interregnum period. Another Bill will be required to ratify 1359 the constitution of the Irish Free State, and before that Bill comes to the House the House will be in possession of the whole Irish situation, will know the position the Irish people have taken up, and will know whether the Free State Government is definitely constituted in accordance with it. That will be the time when we shall be able to take final views upon this Irish legislation. In the interval, what have we got to do? We have got to clothe with legal power and effective executive authority an administration which now has no legal foundation at all, but which, nevertheless, is still the means whereby we have to provide for peace, order, and good government in Ireland. Every day lost in transferring these powers, for good or for ill, to this Government, which is all we have to count on to make a success of the policy on which the British nation has embarked with the assent of both Houses, is serious. The business of transferring to them these powers cannot be delayed. I could not undertake that every step in transferring Departments, that every Order that is made to bring this new Government into existence, during the transitional period, shall first be laid upon the Table of this House for 21 days before becoming operative. I would not take the responsibility of trying to make this experiment a success if we were compelled to do so.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
This has nothing to do with Ulster. My hon. Friend has been allowing his brain to repose for a few moments and we have passed on to another Amendment altogether. This applies to all Orders in Council which may have to be made under the Bill. It is general in its application. There are Orders which would be required probably in regard to matters of convenience and adjustment relating to Ulster, but there are other Orders in Council which have to be made under the Bill, from time to time, and we could not possibly undertake that all these Orders should lie for 21 days on the Table of the House before passing into law. Let it not be thought, however, that this House has no remedy or that it is parting with its sovereign powers. This House still possesses all its powers in plen- 1360 ary fullness, and at any time on a Vote of Censure, or on the Adjournment of the House, or on any of the numerous occasions when the general policy of the Government can be debated, the House is invested with every opportunity for regulating, supervising and controlling the action of the Government. There is really no need to insert such a proviso as is proposed, in order to safeguard the powers and authority of Parliament. The administration stands or falls entirely by the support which it receives from the House of Commons, and the complaint which the hon. Members who have, moved this Amendment have previously made, is not that that Support has not been forthcoming, but rather that that support of the House of Commons has been given to the Government in abundant and overflowing measure.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I may point out to the House that I have now had time to examine this Amendment, and I find that it will not work. It will not make sense. It is a head without a tail. It provides for the laying of Orders in Council on the Table and for certain Addresses, but it makes no provision whatever as to what is to happen in case of the carrying of such an Addrees. I do not think I ought to put it to the House, because it will have no effect. Does the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman) wish to move the next Amendment?
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3), to add the wordsAll writs, regulations, notices, and forms in connection with the holding of the aforesaid election of Members to serve in the first Parliament of the Irish Free State shall, if they are printed or published in Erse, be also printed and published in English.Every newly created or re-created State has a laudable ambition to use or to re-create its own language. I quite understand that. A newly-made State sometimes goes further than that, however. Take, for example, the newly-created State of Czechc-Slovakia. I was in Prague not many months ago, and I find that it is an offence there to speak German. You have to speak the Czech language. If one has no knowledge of the Czech language, that makes life in Prague to-day somewhat more difficult than it was in the old days when Bohemia was still a part of the Austrian 1361 Empire. There is an example of a newly-created State enforcing by law the use of the Czech language as against the Austrian language.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If my hon. and gallant Friend will permit me to refer him to Sub-section (2), I think he will find the effect of it is that what he wishes will be fully done. The election which is to be held under the provisions of this Bill will be an election under the British law, and consequently all the writs, regulations, notices, forms, and everything in connection with the election must be written in English.
Has the right hon. Gentleman any assurance from those who are to be Ministers of the Free State that they will stand by that? He is working on Sub-section (2) of Clause I of the Bill, which saysSuch steps shall be taken as may be necessary for holding, in acordance 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,and so on. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the other day in the Dail Eireann, which is the supreme assembly ruling in Southern Ireland now, whose members—they are called "deputies"— did not take any oath, it was asked whether or not women between the ages of 21 and 30 should not be admitted to the franchise forthwith, and I understand the matter was held over for consideration?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If I remember rightly, the representatives of the Irish Provisional Government repudiated the suggestion and pointed out that this was a proposal brought forward by those who wanted to wreck the Treaty and create delay.
Yes, because they said it would take longer to prepare a new register. They did not say that it could not be done because it was contrary to anything in the Bill now before the British House of Commons. If the right hon. Gentleman will give me his assurance here and now that in this election, which is going to be held some months from now, English will be used, I am content. This election will be held under the proportional representation system, which, in the first instance, is somewhat difficult for electors to follow. 1362 It is absolutely necessary in the case of a nation which does not yet know its own language—the mass of the people cannot speak Erse, though there are said to be 10,000 people who speak Erse only—that there should be a chance given to have this system of election explained in English.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.