§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That this House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL of DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 6:
§ Power to adapt enactments, & c.
§ 6.—(1) His Majesty may, by Order in Council,—
- (a) make such adaptations of any enactments so far as they relate to any of His Majesty's Dominions other than the Irish Free State as may appear to him necessary or proper as a consequence of the establishment of the Irish Free State;
- (b) make such provision as may appear to him necessary or proper for effecting the severance of the system of national health insurance in Great Britain from that in the Irish Free State, and for giving effect to any arrangements which may be made with the Irish Free State for that purpose, and for requiring such transfers of funds of societies and branches whose principal office is situate in Great Britain as may be necessary to give effect to any apportionments made in pursuance of the Order, and as to the application and disposal of the funds so transferred, and for extending to Northern Ireland and to societies and
189 branches whose principal office is situate in Northern Ireland the like provisions as are made by any such Order in respect to Great Britain and societies and branches whose principal office is situate in Great Britain;
- (c) give effect to any reciprocal arrangements which may be made with the Irish Free State with respect to unemployment insurance:
- (d) make such provision with respect to the management of the National Debt and Government Securities and Annuities (including India Stock) as may be necessary to secure that the management thereof shall not as respects any part thereof be transacted within the Irish Free State;
§ (2) Any Order in Council made under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it. is made, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either of those Houses within twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Order is laid before it praying that the Order may be annulled, His Majesty may thereupon by Order in Council annul the same, and the Order so annulled shall forthwith become void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything which in the meantime may have been done thereunder.
§ LORD MACDONNELL moved, in subsection (1) (d), to leave out "as respects any part thereof" and insert "except to such extent as may be authorised by the Order." The noble Lord said: The object of my Amendment is that the Government should give itself a further discretion before it decides to withdraw the power for registering transfers of Government securities, which, as I understand, has been operative in Ireland since the year 1797. The withdrawal of this power will have a great and injurious effect in Southern Ireland. It will greatly hamper commercial transactions between the people, greatly retard banks and borrowers in their mutual transactions, and cause intense irritation amongst the general public. I quite understand that it is within the power of the British Government to withdraw from the Irish Free State this practice of registering transfers of Government securities, and I do not want to question that power. All I ask is that it should be put into operation slowly and tentatively and that nothing in this Bill should preclude the Government, if it saw 190 fit at a future time, from restoring the practice which has been prevalent in Ireland for so long.
§ I may perhaps be permitted to say that my object in no way conflicts with the Amendment which the noble Duke, the Duke of Devonshire, has on the Paper on this clause. I have no objection whatever to every commercial facility being given to the North of Ireland, but there is no reason, so far as I know, why this practice should not be allowed to continue in the South. I think that the discretion, the elasticity, which I should like to see in this clause, would be secured by the deletion of the words mentioned in my Amendment, and the substitution of those which I suggest.
Page 6, lines 10 and 11, leave out ("as respects any part thereof") and insert ("except to such extent as may be authorised by the Order").—(Lord MacDonnell.)
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
The paragraph to which the noble Lord's Amendment refers is part of a clause which, as the noble Lord no doubt is aware, is merely an empowering clause, which enables Orders in Council to be issued. My right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in another place, stated that no Orders would be issued until all the interested parties had been heard and their observations considered. As a matter of fact, I see no reason why I should not accept the noble Lord's Amendment. I think possibly the point may be covered by the Amendment which I shall move in a few moments, but, if it will satisfy the noble Lord, I see no objection to accepting his Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE moved, after paragraph (d) of subsection (1), to insert:
or to enable the business of the Bank of Ireland in relation thereto to be partly transacted at an office of the Bank in Northern Ireland, and in the latter case to apply in respect of any securities or annuities inscribed or registered in the books and registers kept at such office the provisions applicable in respect of securities and annuities inscribed or registered in the books and registers kept at the Bank of England or the Bank of Ireland.
§ The noble Duke said: The Amendment which I now have to move is in furtherance of an undertaking given by my right hon. 191 friend, in another place, to enable the Bank of Ireland to keep books for the inscription and registration of Government stock in the Belfast branch as well as in Dublin. This undertaking was given in response to many inquiries in another place.
Page 6, line 12, after ("State")insert the said words.—(The Duke of Devonshire.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
LORD GLENAVY moved, after Clause 7, to insert the following new clause:
(8) In furtherance of the provisions of the Treaty (Clause 10) all 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 effected by this Act, shall be entitled to payment of fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920.
§ The noble Lord said: I invite careful consideration to the terms of the Amendment which I now have the privilege to move. It does not raise any great constitutional question, or any question involving international law. It merely provides security for the future of that enormous body of civil servants who, under the Treaty, and through this legislation, will be transferred from Imperial control to that of the Irish Free State. I have not put down this Amendment for the purpose or with the idea of delaying in any way the passage of this legislation. As one whose home has always been, and still is, in Southern Ireland, I am anxious that this Treaty and the Constitution should be ratified at the earliest date in order to fortify the new Government of Ireland with its proper powers. At the same time, I think I shall be able to satisfy noble Lords that, as the proposal stands at present, this great body of public officials, the civil servants, have not received the protection to which they are entitled.
Under the Act of 1920, very elaborate provisions indeed, with lengthy schedules, were made for their protection, providing for compensation in the case of compulsory retirement, and making elaborate provisions which were really a charter for these people. But all this has been abrogated by the Treaty, and now the
situation in which they stand is as follows. Article 10 of the Treaty reads in this way:
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.
That is the sole and only provision that now exists for the future protection of any of these officials who may find that they are compelled to retire or may be coerced to retire.
§ There is an exception. The Government have included in this Bill a schedule which makes special provision in the case of Judges of the High Court and County Court Judges. This was introduced by the Government, and will come on for consideration in a few minutes. I point that out to show that His Majesty's Government have realised that, at least as regards the officials whom I have mentioned, further protection was required. If further protection was necessary in the case of these highly placed and highly paid officials, I think I am entitled to enlist the sympathy of your Lordships on behalf of those officials who are in minor positions, and are not equally able to protect their own interests.
§ The point which I wish specially to make is that, under this Article of the Treaty, the only provision made for them is an agreement between the Irish Free State Government and the Imperial Government to give them fair play. That is excellent so far as it goes, and I am not to be taken for a moment as throwing the slightest doubt upon the sincerity and good faith of the present Government of the Irish Free State. I have followed their progress for the last two months with the greatest interest and care at home, and I am bound to say that I have been tremendously impressed, not only by their courage and sincerity, but also by the qualities of statesmanship and moderation which they have displayed. But this Government may change, its constituent elements will disappear, new men and new ideas will prevail, and, if any individual official finds himself deprived of the privileges or advantages which this clause in the Treaty is supposed to safeguard, what is his remedy? I respectfully submit that he has none. As the noble and learned Lord Chancellor stated last night, in answer to a question raised by the noble Lord opposite 193 (Lord Killanin), it would be a breach of the Treaty if in any particular case an individual did not receive the justice to which he was entitled. But it will be a very poor satisfaction indeed to such a man to be told that his only remedy is to seek to have it made acasus belli between the two Governments.
What I want to secure is that his right to fair treatment and full compensation shall not depend upon au agreement between the members of one Government and the members of another, but shall be put into this Bill, and thereby given statutory force, which will enable the individual to sue. I propose, therefore, that we shall now insert a clause which will follow the very words of the article of the Treaty that I have read, instead of allowing the matter to rest upon an agreement or an undertaking on the part of the Free State Government. I propose that it should be in the Statute itself, and I move the insertion of the following clause, which, as your Lordships will see, follows literally the words of the Article of the Treaty, with this distinction, and this distinction only, that it gives a statutory right, instead of a right dependent upon the agreement or undertaking of the Government of the Irish Free State—
In furtherance of the provisions of the Treaty (Clause 10) all Judges, officials, members of Police Force 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 effected by this Act shall be entitled to payment of fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920.
Therefore your Lordships will see that literally andverbatim I have followed the words of the Article of the Treaty, save that I have proposed that it shall be changed from an undertaking or agreement into a statutory right on which the individual can rely, and upon any violation of which he will be entitled to seek redress. I beg to move.
After Clause 7, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Glenavy.)
§ VISCOUNT LONG OF WRAXALL
My Lords, as I was a member of the Cabinet which prepared the Bill of 1920, and was also responsible for that Bill in the House of Commons until, for reasons of health, I had to be absent, I desire to support the Amendment which my noble friend behind me has moved, and to tell your Lordships 194 that during the preparation of that Bill of 1920 it was my duty to have a great many interviews and conversations with the representatives of the public services, on whose behalf the Amendment is now moved by my noble and learned friend. I do not hesitate to say that these gentlemen presented their case with the utmost moderation. They asked for nothing more than that to which they are entitled, and which is granted, so far as I know, to every other servant, whether of the Crown or of a corporation in this country, in circumstances similar to those described by my noble and learned friend.
I venture to press this on behalf especially of the humbler members of these services. The bigger men will probably be adequately treated. The smaller men have much greater difficulty in presenting their case and defending themselves, and, like my noble and learned friend, I support this Amendment not because I wish to cast any doubt upon thebona fides of the Provisional Government. On the contrary, I hold that the obligation in this case is really much more properly to be borne by His Majesty's Government than by an Irish Government, for this reason, that the great mass of these men, and the class to which they belong, did not desire this change in the government of Ireland; they did not want tins Bill, and were, indeed, strongly opposed to it, and it is hardly fair to sacrifice them in the interests of the country at large. It is in the interests of the country at large that the Government propose to make this change, and if the change is to be made surely those should pay for it who are doing it because they believe it to be a great public duty.
It is not fair, I submit with great confidence, to throw upon these small men, who can ill afford it, the burden of losing the pension, or gratuity or other compensation to which they are entitled. These payments have in some cases been made, and in some cases are now being withheld, and those who are entitled to them do not know where they stand, or whether they can recover them or not. My noble and learned friend holds that the clause as drawn would not give them the right to claim or sue, and I beg His Majesty's Government to do everything to meet the case of these men, who have served in various capacities with absolute devotion and loyalty. Not a word has been said against the way they have performed their 195 duties. They have either come to the end of their service or, for political reasons, have been dismissed. Surely their request for fair treatment is one to which Parliament ought not to turn a deaf ear. Therefore, I hope the Government will accept the proposal of my noble and learned friend.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My noble and learned friend Lord Glenavy, in calling attention to this matter, contrasted the position of the civil servants referred to in his Amendment with the position under this Bill of the Judges and the Land Commissioners. It is not because I am in the least going to shirk the question he has raised, but simply in order to make the matter clear, that I wish to point out to begin with that the two cases do not stand in the same position. The salaries of the Judges and the Land Commissioners to-day are charged upon the Consolidated Fund. These officials hold office for life; they cannot be removed except by an Address to Parliament; and for those reasons are specially dealt with in the Bill. The position of the civil servant is somewhat different. By Articles 77 and 78 of the Constitution all these officers are transferred to the new Southern Irish Government, and therefore they are their servants to-day, or will be their servants to-morrow, holding office on the same terms as those on which they held office under the late Government.
At the same time, the Constitution provides that all of them shall be entitled, in the event of their giving up office, to the benefits of Article 10 of the Treaty;i.e., to be compensated by the Free State Government for loss of office. Article 10 prescribes the form and the extent of the compensation. It is to be regulated by the provisions of the Act of 1920—provisions which were fully considered at the time with representatives of the Civil Service, and accepted by them as satisfactory. Therefore, their present right is to hold office as servants of the Free State Government, and if they lose office, or give it up in consequence of this change of system, they are to be compensated by that Government. So far, I am entirely with my noble and learned friend. But what he says, and says with great force, as does the noble Viscount behind me also, is that this is not enough. He says: "True, by the Treaty and by the Article of the Constitution, these men are entitled to be compensated. That is not enough for them. You must give them some further security."
196 What does he propose?; and it is here that I think the House requires to look more closely into the form of the Amendment. He proposes to put into the Bill a clause that these persons shall be entitled to the payment of fair compensation on the terms of the Act of 1920. He transfers that from the Treaty to the Bill. Of course, he means "shall be entitled to payment by the Free State Government." He cannot, of course, mean "shall be entitled to payment by our Government," because that is a provision which this House would not be entitled to insert in the Bill. He means to make statutory the obligation of the Free State Government which is in the Treaty. May I point out to him that that is statutory already by the Agreement Act? It is expressly provided that all the obligations of the Treaty shall have the force of law, and passing this Amendment will not make the least difference; it will not make the Bill the least bit stronger for the purpose of securing compensation than it is to-day. And therefore I hope he will not press the Amendment, at all events in this form.
But may I add something which I am glad to add, and which I think may bring some greater assurance to his mind, and to the minds of those admirable public servants for whom he is speaking to-day. We know exactly what the Free State Government is doing. They have appointed a Committee, the Civil Service Compensation Committee, which consists of two representatives of the Minister of Finance and of two representatives of the staff, who are, I think, entirely satisfactory to the staff interested in the matter, and which has as its chairman a distinguished Irish Judge of the Supreme Court., Mr. Justice Wylie. That Committee is appointed to deal with claims for compensation under Article 10 of the Treaty, with the following terms of reference:To inquire into and advise the Minister of Finance as to the compensation, and all matters consequent thereon, which should be paid under Article 10 of the Treaty to any civil servant or other public servant or officer of the Irish Government who may be discharged or may retire in consequence of the change of Government.The two representatives of the Civil Service are nominees of the Civil Service Federation, but it is expressly provided that, when a member of any other branch of the Service is interested, some representative of that branch shall be present at the meeting of the Committee to help 197 to deal with the matter. It seems to me a thoroughly fair arrangement. The Committee has sat, and has dealt already with a large number of claims. It has awarded compensation, and no question has been raised as to the decisions or proceedings of the Committee. I am sure that everybody who knows Mr. Justice Wylie will have full confidence in his action as chairman of that Committee.
So far, I think the facts which I have stated show that the Free State Government is dealing with the matter in accordance with its obligations, and exactly in the manner in which we should be disposed to deal with it in this country. That being so, I do not think we ought for a moment to assume that they will not go on to the end and fulfil the terms of the. Treaty, which are binding upon them. But I add this—and I am entitled to say it because I am only repeating pledges given by the late Government—I think, in the end, should the compensation not be paid, we are bound to see that the just and fair thing is done. And I can repeat the assurances given before, that, so far as we are concerned, we will do everything within our power to see that this term of the Treaty will be carried out, and that full justice will be done. Having regard to what I have said, I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ LORD CARSON
My Lords, the only part of the speech of the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, to which I attach the slightest importance is that contained in the last few sentences. The mover of this Amendment, my noble and learned friend Lord Glenavy, if I did not misunderstand his speech, has, I think, given no grounds for moving the Amendment. He has the utmost confidence in the Provisional Government. In fact, the eulogiums be pronounced upon them led me to the conclusion that he would wind up by saying that he himself intended to transfer his pension as an ex-Lord Chancellor of Ireland from the Consolidated Fund to the Irish Fund administered by the Provisional Government. And the confidence that he and (I am more surprised still) the Lord Chancellor shows in the Provisional Government is really, I think, part of the humour of the situation. If you have so much confidence in them why not leave everything to them? Why not, like Mr. Gladstone, say they are not endowed with 198 a double dose of original sin. They are great statesmen, said my noble and learned friend. Yes, they are honest statesmen, they are doing their best, and the Lord Chancellor is absolutely delighted with the Committee they have set up, which, he says, is going to mete out justice. If all that is so, why worry about it? I am beginning to think they will be fairer than the British Government, and I do not see what all this fuss is about.
On the other hand, when I see a Government seizing hold of the College of Science in Dublin within the last few days, and forcibly turning out all the professors and students; when I get a letter from an official—who is not provided for by these Bills, though he is a very high official—telling me that within the last few days his house has been four times raided; when I see the President of the Free State and the Home Secretary get up, one to say that he has not got credit for twopence if he were to mortgage the resources of the country, and the other that they have no credit at all, then I think I know what is really in my noble and learned friend's mind.
But let us be perfectly frank about the matter. There is no use saying in one breath that we trust this Provisional Government, and in the next breath finding fault with the way in which the matter is left. The way I look at the question is this. The Lord Chancellor says that the Treaty has been already made part of the Statutes. I agree with him in that, from the legal point of view. He says, then, that the civil servants have been transferred to the Free State, and they have all the benefit of the clause of the Statute, and that that is quite enough. That is not my view of the way in which the British Government ought to discharge its duties towards faithful servants, who have served the Crown in probably the most difficult circumstances with which any body of men were ever confronted in any country.
The Lord Chancellor says: "We have transferred them to the Free State Government." Where do you get your right to transfer them? Talk of Chinese slavery! When you transferred one workman from one employer to another you had an outcry throughout this country which rent from top to bottom the Government then in power. That is nothing to the indignity, 199 as some of these men feel it to be, of transferring civil servants who took service under the British Crown, with all its honour and dignity, to a Government which only succeeded in placing itself in power, as your Lordships all know well, by murder and outrage and the creation of an anarchy unexampled in the British Empire. It is very easy to transfer these civil servants on paper; but how many of your Lordships would like to be transferred from any employment you may have at present to the Free State in Ireland? I heard a Roman Catholic who had held a high appointment say only the other evening that, according to the tenets of his Church and his own conscience, he could not for one moment take service under a Government which had come to power by the murder of his own fellow-countrymen and fellow-citizens, and I can quite understand it. Pass your Bill! Go on with your policy if you like, but put aside all this infernal hypocrisy which you are casting around it, as if it were a curtain to screen from your view the ignominy and humiliation which faces you in everything you did along the line of this base and cowardly surrender.
You have no right to transfer honest, honourable, loyal men whether they like it or not, against their will, to another power, and that a power which they hate. You know it, you are ashamed of it, and you try to cloak it every time the matter comes up for consideration. No one hates it more, and, therefore, no one tries to cloak it more, than the Government which has just come into power. You have betrayed every man who tried to serve you in Ireland, and now you are trying to betray yourselves and your own consciences. What you are doing is the outcome of a base surrender. Face it, and say: "We were beaten, and we have nothing else open to us." Do not try to throw around it a cloak of virtue, as though you were doing something which was great for these unfortunate men whom you are transferring, with chains about their necks, to their own degradation and humiliation, though that is not so great as yours who are the real transgressors in the matter.
There is nothing for it but to do as the noble Viscount: said, and he said it, I believe, in all honesty—namely, that England must make good. In the revolution to which your Lordships were parties England ought 200 to make good at all costs. A few thousands, or a few hundred thousands here or there, are nothing to be compared with the remedying of injustice. There are many men—I have the particulars of their eases in my pocket, but this is not the place where I can raise them—who have held high office, who have been overlooked, and will be turned out the day this Bill passes. There are many men who have faithfully served you who will be left, sonic of them, beggars in your midst. If you want to do justice set up at once a Committee which will openly, honestly and fairly deal with these men. I wish it were a Statutory Committee brought into existence by this Bill, because it is impossible to take each individual case and provide for it upon an occasion of this kind. If the Government will announce that they will set up a Statutory Committee to provide that any man who is wronged by this transfer which you are carrying out, not at his behest but because you think it is a policy which can be entered upon for your benefit, then, and only then, you will do something to alleviate the sufferings and anxieties which you have caused. It is well worth doing.
I do not know whether you ever contemplate how many men, who have been your faithful subjects and most loyal followers in Ireland, you are driving out into the Empire. There are thousands and thousands of them. I am seeing them from morning until night in my spare time, and I can assure your Lordships that it is no easy matter to face them. Here are thousands of your most loyal friends whom you are turning into your most bitter enemies, who are going out as missionaries to your Empire to tell the people in the Colonies awl elsewhere that the one Government in the whole world who cannot be trusted is the British Government; to warn those people that loyalty is the very worst asset that a man can possess, and that to trust a British Government is probably to lay for themselves the foundations of subsequent treachery and ruin. That is what the late Government laid the foundations of, and the sooner your Lordships stop it by putting an end to the anxieties of these men and treating them honourably and fairly, as it is consonant with the British character to do, the sooner will you allay the widespread and disastrous hostility to your country which the action of the late Government has created through the whole of your Empire.
§ LORD KILLANIN
I hope the Government will reconsider their decision on this matter. I raised the question last night. I addressed your Lordships on the subject some seven or eight months ago, and the House was impressed not by my remarks but by the debate generally and came to the conclusion that the view we take should be supported. An Amendment to that effect was carried last March. I raised this question last night although it was a Committee point, because I wanted to bring it forward as soon as possible; but I am very glad and proud that it has received to-day the learned and eloquent support of two noble Lords opposite who, as your Lordships all know, look at these Irish matters from different points of view, but on this particular matter are absolutely united. I think that fact ought to carry weight with His Majesty's Government. The noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, says that all these civil servants pass over to the Irish Free State and, therefore, we have nothing more to say to the matter.
§ LORD KILLANIN
They pass into the hands of the Free State Government and, therefore, the Government here has nothing more to do with them.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Lord will forgive me; I did not say we had nothing to do with the matter. I said the exact contrary.
§ LORD KILLANIN
Surely these civil servants pass over to the control of the Irish Free State, in the first instance anyway, and in so far as they are civil servants who are going to remain in the service of the Irish Free State well and good. We are not talking about such men as those. We are raising this question on the assumption that these men are going to be discharged and, in that sense, are not going to become servants of the Irish Free State. Those for whom we speak are men who are either going to be discharged or who do not wish to live under thatrégime. On the assumption that they are going to be discharged by the Irish Free State, there is not going to be the most agreeable terms between them. I think the Government should not put 202 on the shoulders of others, which is what they are trying to do, obligations and responsibilities which they owe to their own servants the men who have served them and who now wish to leave that service, or are actually being discharged from the service of the new Government under whose control they are going to be put.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
I think your Lordships will recognise that in addressing myself to a point of this kind, I have shown by many speeches how deeply I sympathise with the view which has been represented so eloquently by the noble Lord who has just sat down, and by my noble and learned friend, Lord Carson. Of course, we sympathise. No one can blame more than I do the course of policy which led up to this, but I think no useful purpose is served in repeating my view upon that now in this place. I only mention it by way of making it absolutely clear that the present Government are in no sense responsible for the policy which has led up to this Bill. That being said, how can we treat the present Amendment? I think if your Lordships will refer to-morrow, in the OFFICIAL REPORT, to the speech of my noble and learned friend, the Lord Chancellor, you will see how very far the Government have gone!
In the first place he said—I believe truly—that even if your Lordships saw fit to carry this Amendment it would make no difference whatever, because it is already enacted. It is already part of the law of the land. It is one of the clauses of the Treaty which has become statutory, so that the Amendment does not add anything at all. The second observation which my noble and learned friend made was that so far as the British Government was concerned we engaged to sea the civil servants through. What more can you say than that? I think that if, upon an issue of this kind, the Government are prepared to say that though obviously the obligation rests upon the Provisional Government, yet there is behind it an obligation which we accept on the part of the British Government, no more can be said. I think the noble and learned Lord has obtained everything he can think he ought to obtain by moving his Amendment, and nothing is to be got by proceeding any further.
§ LORD GLENAVY
I have one or two observations to make by way of reply. I do not complain of the good-natured banter of my noble and learned friend opposite, but he was not quite fair to me in purporting to repeat the observation I made regarding my confidence in the Free State Government. I said that I had every confidence in the present members of that Government, but I took care to point out that not only do individuals in a Government change, but the Government itself changes, and that, therefore, from my point of view, I would have confidence in them, but that I could quite understand the position of these unfortunate individuals who wanted some more tangible security than merely this. As I listened to the impassioned speech of my noble and learned friend, for which I never thought my modest Amendment would be responsible, I could not help reflecting that, having regard to the tremendous interest he takes, and always has taken, in the fate and future of the civil servants, he might have been a little more favourably inclined to this Amendment, seeing that I have put it down at the express desire of a representative committee of all classes of public servants in Ireland, who consider that they need this protection.
My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor says that they have already in the Treaty precisely what I propose to give them. There I join issue. What they have in the Treaty, and what is ratified by this Bill when it becomes law, is an Agreement between the Free State Government and the Government of this country to treat these men fairly. But in my opinion—subject, of course, to the views that may be taken by others who may think the contrary—there is nothing in the Bill as it stands at present, and there is nothing in Article 10, which gives to the individual civil servant who may consider himself wronged or aggrieved a right of personal action. If my Amendment were adopted he would have that right, and it is on that account that I have been asked to put the Amendment before the House. I do not wish to delay the passage of this Bill in any way, and if I could receive an assurance from the noble Lords who are acting for the Government in this matter that they will consider the position, and, if they can see their way, either in this form or some other, secure for these men the right to claim this relief if refused all recourse to 204 the Courts of Law, I should be quite satisfied.
But I wish to mention this matter before I sit down. It is true that a Commission is sitting at the present time to deal with the case of civil servants, but this Article 10 does not cover civil servants only; it includes many officers who are not civil servants. Let me give one illustration to show how it may work, unless this protection and this right to sue is provided. You are coming forward in a few minutes with a schedule which the Government have themselves introduced, and which is not to be found in the Treaty—a schedule making elaborate provisions for His Majesty's Judges, including High Court and County Court Judges, in Ireland. That schedule omits three individuals who hold important judicial offices in Ireland, and who have been transferred under the provisions of this Treaty and Constitution to the Government of the Free State. I allude to the three Divisional Justices of the City of Dublin who hold positions analogous to that of County Court Judges. They have been transferred under a clause which says that they are to hold by the same tenure as heretofore. The clause goes on to say that this is only until new Courts are set up. It is well known that it is the intention of the Free State to set up new Courts immediately in Dublin.
What is going to be the position of these men? They were senior men at the Bar, all King's Counsel, men who were promoted to these positions after many years of hard work in their profession. One has eight years' service, another has four, and a third has only two. What compensation are they going to get if new Courts are set up, and their freehold tenure is destroyed? I think the clause that I propose to insert would give them this guarantee. They would know that whatever compensation they are to get is to depend not upon an agreement between the Free State Government and the Government here but upon a statutory right, following the very words of the Treaty, which has been inserted in this Bill. At the same time they have no desire to embarrass in any way the passing of this Bill, and if my noble friend will give me an assurance that the matter will be considered before the Bill is finally passed into law I shall be satisfied.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
The diffi- 205 culty which lay members of the House feel arises from the different views taken by the noble and learned Lord who has just sat down, and the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, but what strikes me more than anything else is the great importance of the announcement and declaration which has been made by two members of the Government as to the position the British Government takes up in this matter. It is unthinkable that these men should be turned over to be dealt with in any way by those who may be supposed to be unsympathetic to their claims. Some of them are not merely members of the Civil Service, hut, as we know, members of the local services who have actually been forced to vacate their situations for obeying orders given to them by the Local Government Board at the instance of the Government here during the late trouble.
I do not wish to throw the slightest doubt on the good faith of the present authorities in Ireland. On the contrary, I believe that we ought to credit them with all possible good faith in this matter. But above and beyond that we stand by the declaration made by the Lord Chancellor and the noble Marquess who is leading the House at the moment—that in this matter His Majesty's Government has a responsibility. This is language which differs materially from the language used from the Woolsack under the last Government, that such matters ought to be dealt with by the Irish Government. That attitude has passed away and we have the much more generous and equitable declaration which has been made. I hope, therefore, the noble and learned Lord will not think it necessary to divide. The declaration itself is far more important than any words in the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT LONG OF WRAXALL
I want to be quite clear as to the meaning of the declaration made by the Lord Chancellor and reinforced by the noble Marquess. Is it clear that the cases which are to be considered, in the event of failure on the part of the Irish Government to compensate, will not be limited only to civil servants? There are sonic other cases, not numerous but very hard cases, precisely analogous to those of civil servants, and I ask that they should be considered as well. If that is the case I hope my noble and learned friend will withdraw his Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is a new point. Perhaps my noble friend will consider it and put it on Monday.
§ VISCOUNT LONG OF WRAXALL
It is not exactly a new point. It is the case of the civil servants to whom Lord Midleton referred. There are some civil servants under local boards and corporations who have lost their employment entirely owing to political reasons. They are entitled to pensions, and have been getting pensions, but at the moment these have been stopped, no doubt from want of money. I want to know whether their cases will be included. It is hard to say to these men: "We have passed this Act, you must pay the cost."
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is a new point. The Amendment only deals with persons entitled to compensation under Article 10 of the Treaty. My noble friend now seeks to bring in servants of local authorities and corporations. I do not think I can deal with that at this moment.
§ Loan GLENAVY
Having regard to the declaration made by the Lord Chancellor and my desire to get this Bill through at the earliest moment, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment. I am satisfied with the declaration.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 8 agreed to.