§ As amended, considered.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The House will remember that during the Debate on an earlier stage I was requested by the Government to withdraw an Amendment I had to report Progress. The Government promised to consider between then and now whether an Amendment which they proposed to introduce fulfilled the object they had in mind. I may say that I have taken the opportunity of consulting several legal Members of the House, who were all unanimously of opinion that the Amendment put in the Bill by the Government did not effect its purpose. We had not the advantage of any legal Member of the Government on the Treasury Bench and, therefore, though the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture said that in his opinion the Amendment put in did carry out the object, he will excuse me if I say that I prefer the legal interpretation of it by those hon. Gentlemen who are learned in the law to the interpretation given by the right hon. Gentleman, who among his many qualities does not include that of being learned in the law. I have had no communication from the Government since last Thursday, and I think they might at least have sent to me on the subject. I do not know whether the Government now consider that the Amendment put in carries out their purpose, but I do think they might have had the courtesy to inform me whether the Amendment did or did not carry out their intentions. I must say that I have been driven to the conclusion that the Government, having got the Committee stage, took no further trouble in the matter. As I was afraid that some- 1196 thing of that kind might happen I put down an Amendment to leave out Subsection (5) as amended. It reads thus:—
"Subject to the Government of Ireland Act, 1914, any pensions, allowances, or gratuities granted under or in pursuance of this Act shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament."
I propose for these reasons to leave that out. The right hon. Gentleman said that what he desired to do was to leave the matter so that when the Home Rule Act of 1914 came into force, the Exchequer Board which would be set up under that Act would decide whether a portion of the pensions and gratuities should be borne by the new Irish Government or by the English Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman said he wanted to leave it to the Exchequer Board. I was not prejudging it. I was only carrying out what the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends proposed to carry out. I am always willing under these circumstances to meet the Government, and if they think that the whole matter should be left to the Exchequer Board, I ask why put in anything at all about money provided by Parliament. I think it would have been far better to make it clear that the Home Rule Act of 1914 should not be amended in any kind of way. I think it will be better to leave out about providing money by the Imperial Parliament. I hope that even at the last moment we shall be treated in a rather different way by the Government. It is not encouraging, when we try to meet them in every possible way, to find them taking every advantage.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Not on the merits of this question, but in view of the misunderstanding which appears to have arisen on the last occasion, and which it is very necessary to have cleared up, I beg to second the Motion.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
I am sure that the hon. Baronet, whose sacrifice in his own family in this War is so pathetic, and is one which we all so deeply appreciate, hardly realises the intense amount of feeling which he has created in Ireland by this Amendment. The amount that he would thereby save the Treasury is extremely small, but the action which he has taken has engendered an amount of feeling in the police force in Ireland the like of which I have never known. Let me tell him why. The whole of the depletion in 1197 the ranks of the Irish Guards has been filled by volunteers from the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, who are at this moment serving at the front in one of the most gallant corps connected with the Service, and one in which the Irish people take the utmost pride. I quite understand that the hon. Baronet is taking up what he conceives to be a logical attitude in this case, and is doing it purely from the point of view of what he recognises as the mechanics of finance. I am quite sure that he does not in the least degree realise that he is doing a disservice. For if his Amendment were carried I do not believe that you would get another single recruit for the Irish Guards from—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to interrupt him for a moment. I do not think that he was in the House when I spoke at greater length and when I made it plain that first of all I did not wish in any way to touch these pensions. I do not think that anybody would suggest that I would do anything that would injure the Brigade of Guards, with which my family has been associated. I have been most careful to show that I did not wish in any way to touch the pensions. Whether my Amendment is carried or not, the Irish Guards and the Irish Police would receive the full amount of their pension, which I am anxious that they should receive. The only object and the only effect of my Amendment would be on the question as to whether or not after the coming into operation of the Home Rule Act those pensions would be provided by the English taxpayer or by the Irish taxpayer.
§ Mr. HEALY
I do not for one moment make any reflection upon my hon. Friend, if he will allow me to call him so. I am sure he believes that I am the last man in the world who would make such reflection. I am only dealing with the effect, because do not let it be supposed that the Irish police read the OFFICIAL REPORT of the House of Commons, or read any long reports of what happens in this House. They only look at the general effect, and now what has happened? For the Guards you want men of fine physique, long service and special gallantry, because there is no doubt whatever that these men have been put in the forefront while serving. What do you think will be the effect if, when these men have been asked to join 1198 this gallant force, they should be told that the first man to raise a point against them in the House of Commons was the Member for the City of London, the richest part of His Majesty's Dominions, and that it was in the City of London that a point was raised with regard to the pay and pensions of the men who are prepared to give their blood for the country? Remember this. These police are already in receipt of a very fair amount of remuneration. Their service is not a difficult one where they are at present. You are asking them to go upon the most difficult and most hazardous service. I think it most undesirable from that point of view that this House should appear to do anything to cavil at the action which has been taken by His Majesty's Government, when this has been insisted upon as a term precedent to their service.
But there is another ground of which I am sure the hon. Baronet is not at all aware. The police have been paying into what they call a constabulary force fund for many years, and when they return upon pensions they claim that this constabulary force fund has not been fairly dealt with, and we have had very many requests pressed upon us during the last few years to insist upon matters being put right in connection with this constabulary force fund. For one reason or another the Government always said that it was not a convenient season to deal with the question. There is not a man in the police whose pay has been docked who does, not allege that he has not been fairly treated by the Treasury. There is a third reason which perhaps may, more or less, appeal to my hon. Friend above the Gangway. It is evident to me, having regard to the great taxation which this War has produced, that the finance of the Home Rule Act will have to be completely recast. The finance of the Home Rule Act is as dead as Queen Anne. I do not say that in any spirit of criticism. The finance of a great many other things also is as dead as Queen Anne. We will all have to learn the A B C. of finance at the feet of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in some other Session. But it is perfectly plain that from top to bottom this question of finance will have to be revised. In fact, the Government admitted it in their Budget of last year. Therefore, I say, on that ground that this is not a convenient occasion on which to cobble with a question that will have to be dealt with not by patchwork but as a whole.
1199 There is another point. This Bill only deals with the pensions of those who are actually in the constabulary and police service. But the Government have appealed to a very large number of men who are on pension to rejoin the Colours, and a very largo number of pensioners of the constabulary and police forces have left civil life and come back and joined the Army. I do not think that the Bill gives these men any consideration whatsoever. I may be wrong, but, if I am wrong, I should like to be corrected. I think that the policeman who is on active service in the police, and who joins the Colours, is entitled to credit. Far more so is the policeman who has left the service, who has been a pensioned officer, who has gone into civil life, who perhaps has started a little business and perhaps has got civil employment. That man not merely comes back to the police force, as a number of them have done, but he takes up dangerous and difficult service in connection with the Army. I do think that men of this class are entitled to some consideration. They are men who show just as much gallantry as any other body of men in civil life. Therefore I do think that this Bill, instead of being restricted, should be extended.
Lastly, I am glad to have the opportunity now of dealing with this force which has had to bear a great deal of unpopularity from time to time. The Army has never been unpopular in Ireland, but the police have had a great deal of hard work and a great many harsh words have been thrown at them, and I have myself occasionally held strongly on this side. But when we are winding up the whole of this system, and when we hope to see the police force turned into an ordinary civil force in connection with the Government of the country, and when the men who have had to bear the hard words which many of us have expended upon them, are for the first time taking up this more dangerous service abroad, surely that is a time when Members like myself, who have been engaged in criticising them for the last thirty-five years should say … "We are parting with you under the Government of Ireland Act. A number of you are engaged in difficult service abroad. Let us do the handsome thing by you; let us recognise your gallantry; let us recognise your claim under this Bill, and at all events if you have been criticised and attacked by Conservative Members remember that your own fellow-countrymen did stand up and 1200 recognise the gallant part which you are taking in this service."
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture,) Ireland
When this Bill was in the Committee stage on Thursday night, the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin expressed the hope that there would be no further discussion.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to quote me inaccurately. What I said was that if the Government accepted the Motion to report Progress, I thought it extremely unlikely that there would be any further discussion, on the ground that any show of real friendliness on the part of the Government would have this effect. The Government altogether refused to give any kind of concession, and if any discussion has arisen it is entirely due to the Parliamentary management shown by the Government in this matter.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The reason why the Government refused to accept the Motion to report Progress was that if Progress had been reported we should have had the Committee stage to-night and the whole thing over again. What I understood the Noble Lord to mean was this: That it was a subject of a very delicate character. In his speech the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork has proved clearly what I little more than hinted on Thursday would take place, that discontent would spread amongst the constabulary in Ireland, because they would not read full reports of the speeches: they would only read that pensions had been refused. And that has just come about. That was the reason that I thought that the Noble Lord did not wish a discussion to take place, and that any prolongation of the Committee would produce misunderstanding in Ireland, and very probably have disastrous effects upon enlistment in Ireland. That is the condition in which we left it on Thursday night. We refused to assent to the Motion to report Progress because the Committee stage would have been resumed to-night, and we should have had the whole thing over again. The question is a very narrow one. These men have volunteered: they have joined the Irish Guards. I suppose that they are in the trenches at this moment. The question as to how the pensions and separation allowances are to be paid comes up for discussion in this House. The first Amendment which the hon. Member for the City of 1201 London put on the Paper would have made that charge an Irish Service. It would have prejudged the whole issue. The Government felt themselves compelled to resist it. It would be a very paltry thing to reconsider the whole question of Home Rule finance upon a charge that would certainly not amount to more than £2,000. When it is considered, it will be considered on larger issues than that.
I resisted the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for the City of London because, if it did not make this actually an Irish service, it prejudged the whole question. When the question was introduced in this shape, I brought up an Amendment which obviated that difficulty, or, at all events, it left it to the proper statutory authorities to decide. The hon. Member for the City of London constantly referred to the 37th Section of the Home Rule Act, and at the time I tried to show, as I now propose to do again, that the 37th Section of the Home Rule Act has nothing at all to do with the matter. That Section refers to police pensions for those who have been engaged in the performance of Irish duties; it provides how they shall be paid, and that the Exchequer Board shall deduct the amount. But that applies only to Acts which were in existence when the Home Rule Bill was passed. This Amendment does not come under that category, and therefore Section 37 of the Home Rule Act has nothing to do with it. Section 14 governs the whole thing. It provides that where a dispute arises as to whether a charge is for an Imperial or an Irish service, the Exchequer Board shall give its decision, and if anybody is not satisfied with that decision he has the right of appeal. That is what I tried to explain on Thursday night. The whole contention on behalf of the Government was that these are not police pensions in the ordinary sense. They are not governed by Section 37, nor by the procedure under that Section; they are State pensions for military services, as the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork remarked, of a most valuable character, and I should like to repeat what I said on Thursday night, that they have been very nobly earned by that regiment of Guards.
The hon. Member for the City of London now brings up an Amendment of a wholly different character, and he says that he has been advised by four or five lawyers in this House with regard to the matter. I am not a lawyer, but I have perhaps about as much knowledge of the law as 1202 will enable me to say that I never accept a lawyer's opinion unless I see the case in which it is given. That may net be law, but it is common-sense. I am acting under the sanction of the Treasury, who say that the Bill is properly drawn. I took the hon. Member's Amendment to the Treasury and they said it was one which we could not accept. Notwithstanding the Noble Lord's statement and that of the hon. Gentleman, I think, after the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy), it should not go throughout Ireland that the House of Commons discussed the question of these pensions. I say that this Amendment is full of danger; it is a petty Amendment. You are voting millions of money, sack-loads of money, and you are voting hundreds of millions, and you never ask a word about it. I am delighted that it is so, and we shall go on voting it; yet, in regard to this petty charge of perhaps £2,000 for the pensions of a most famous regiment, one of the most famous regiments in the Service, you allow this House to be represented in Ireland by those who have an interest in representing it in that way; and there are elements in Irish society who, if you allowed that impression to be created, will go to the country and say, "You can go and die in the service of England, the House of Commons will discuss your pensions in order to say that if it has to be paid they must be paid in Ireland." I beg the House to let us have this Bill, and let these men have the pensions.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I have never in my long experience of this House heard a more unfair speech than that of the right hon. Gentleman, nor one in which a Member of the Government has set himself deliberately to mislead this House; and not only that, but to give currency in Ireland to the very views which the right hon. Gentleman pretends he does not want to be started there. If this Bill had been defended, as it was defended by the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman tonight, if it had been defended in those terms by the right hon. Gentleman on the previous occasion, if a speech of that character had been delivered from the Front Bench opposite, the Debate would have ended there and then. If the Government had told us, as the hon. and learned Gentleman did just now, that the question between us was as to the pensions of those who have gone to do a noble duty in a noble way, 1203 the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well not a shadow of opposition would have been offered. He knows that perfectly well; and I think that if that statement had been made in the first instance, if the Government had said that "there is a doubt as to the incidence of this taxation, we are not quite sure, and we frankly tell the House that it may be that this would cause some difference in the incidence of the taxation as between the Irish Exchequer and the English Exchequer, but we want to make this provision in order that the splendid conduct of these men may be adequately recognised," the whole matter would have ended; my hon. Friend would not have moved, or would not have pressed, his Amendment, and the whole controversy would have been closed. It was believed that this Bill effected a change in the conditions laid down in the Home Rule Act, and the representative of the Government asked for an expression of opinion. There was not any expression of opinion forthcoming. We were given assurances; there was no Law Officer present at the time; there was an expression of opinion, but no definite statement was made.
What happened? The hon. Baronet the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture (Sir Harry Verney) represented the Government. We suggested that as a question of this kind opened up a difficulty it would be better that the Government should be represented by an Irish Minister. We were told that was not necessary, and that the Parliamentary Secretary had the whole thing at his fingers' ends. We knew that the hon. Baronet had served in the Irish Office with great credit to himself and great advantage to that Department during four or five years; we thought probably that he had the necessary information; I am not going to put it higher than to say that it was not clear on which side the truth lay in regard to this question. What happened? The hon. Baronet was good enough, with the utmost courtesy, to say that he would consider the matter. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture wrote a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London—which he quoted on the last occasion on which he was speaking for the Government—that the Government would be willing to consider an Amendment on this or any other point. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President made his 1204 first appearance on the second occasion when this question was before the House. There had been no heat in this matter before, and it is only since his appearance that heat has been imported into this Debate to-day, when a Member, representing the Government, gets up here and does not hesitate to charge my hon. Friend and the Opposition with having opposed the pensions of the police, and did what they could to stop recruiting in Ireland.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
No, I said that would be the result of Debates in this House. I said that on Thursday night on the Committee stage, and I know it has been the result already.
§ The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Stanley Buckmaster)
What I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say was that the Vice-President had said that the Opposition treated this Debate as if they were opposing these pensions. That is not what he said.
§ Mr. LONG
I do not know what the Solicitor-General heard, but I have no doubt as to what I did say, that the Vice-President brought the charge against my hon. Friend and those who support him in connection with what we have done, and if there is any feeling of this kind in Ireland, any feeling such as the hon. and learned Gentleman has described, it is due to the fact, in the first place, that the Government have blundered and bungled in introducing this Bill, and, in the second place, that you have given definite pledges and departed from them on the last occasion as you are departing from them on this. The right hon. Gentleman chooses to draw a distinction between my hon. Friend and my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin. The representative 1205 of the Government on the last occasion stated distinctly that if my hon. Friend would not press his Motion to report Progress, the Government would consider between then and the Report stage what my hon. Friend had suggested, together with the views which had been expressed on this side of the House. The matter is a very simple one. We learn now that it is necessary to deal with it in a manner which may affect the relations between Irish and British finance. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the amount of £2,000 or £20,000 or £200,000 is of no importance whatever. So far as we are concerned, if we are frankly told that these pensions must be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer, wholesale if you like, in order that these men may have their pensions, everyone will vote for it to-morrow. All we have asked from the beginning has been that the mystery as to this question should be cleared up and all doubt removed, and that if we were right, as we think we were, that an Amendment should be introduced by which that doubt would be removed. If, on the other hand, you had told us, as you practically tell us today, that it is necessary to charge the Imperial Exchequer for this purpose, and if that statement had been made plainly by the Government, and not left, as it has been, to an hon. and learned Gentleman to give us the real explanation, then I say I am quite convinced we would have accepted it. We do not care whether the sum is twenty times the amount involved, we would do nothing to prevent the men who are doing their duty with the utmost devotion and public spirit from getting the pensions to which they are justly entitled.
I regret, very much indeed, that the Debate has taken the form it has taken. We, the Opposition, have not only in this, but in every other matter, done our best during this Session to support the Government in all that they have to do in connection with the War. We have put ourselves at their disposal and we have subordinated all party or personal interests in every way. There is only one answer to be made to that course of conduct by the Government, and that is scrupulous adherence to the rules which are always observed in this House. When the Government gave the Opposition an assurance that their view would be met, and that steps would be taken to remedy or correct an error, if they said that they could not do so without laying an unfair 1206 charge on the Irish Revenue there would not have been any controversy, and there would not have been any heat. I regret the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President, and I respectfully suggest to the Irish Government that in future, if they have any legislation they want to pass with celerity and without bitter controversy, they had better select some other representative.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I certainly have no desire whatever to add to the heat of this controversy. I regret it has taken place at all. I think all controversies of this kind should be avoided in war-time. I expressed that opinion before, and although I was not present during the speech of the Noble Lord I gather that that is his view. In a time like this one must take into account the extremely excited state of public opinion, and must remember that words and acts which are permissible at other times might very well be misinterpreted. I am not at all surprised, though I am very sorry to hear, that this discussion has already produced a certain amount of unrest among the constabulary in Ireland. I always thought it would, and what has happened has only been the realisation of what I expected. It is, perhaps, because he is not very well acquainted with the eddies and currents of Irish life, but I think the hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) was very ill-advised in raising this question. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand, with his larger experience of Ireland, was even more ill-advised in supporting it. As a matter of fact there are two questions involved which touch Ireland on a very sensitive spot. In the first place there is the question of appearing to discuss a small amount of money given to those gallant Irishmen who have exchanged their duties as policemen for the more perilous duties of soldiers in the trenches. I am perfectly sure, and I quite accept the statement of the hon. Baronet and of the right hon. Gentleman, that nothing was farther from their thoughts—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I said so, and so did my right hon. Friend, and ray Amendment on both occasions would not affect a single farthing of the pensions.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I quite accept that statement, but really a trained politician like the right hon. Gentleman and like the hon. Baronet must know that the general public, the man in the street, especially the body of men who are immediately affected, are not able to make those nice distinctions that he and I are able to make between one form of Parliamentary action and another. The broad fact seemed to emerge from the controversy that when their miserable little pension came up for consideration then, for the first time, that blessed truce which has prevailed with regard to all the millions of money for the cost of the War was broken by the hon. Gentleman. I join my right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Department in the appeal to my countrymen not to take that view of this Debate, which I think is not justified, and not to weary the well-doing of the men in the trenches who defend the liberties of Ireland as well as of England.
The second point which has touched the Irish mind is this. In Ireland the cost of the police has always been regarded as an Imperial burden taken up by the Empire for reasons into which I will not enter on at present. Here is a small, very tiny, almost infinitesimal addition to the Imperial burden with regard to these pensions and the hon. Baronet is so keen in his vigilant criticism of the Irish policy of the Government that he makes it the opportunity of raising the whole question, and how in the name of Heaven can the hon. Baronet think that this particular little sum should be separated from the general consideration that has always ruled in dealing with the police in Ireland? He wants to make it an Irish charge. Fancy, when Irish policemen volunteer to go and fight and perhaps die in the trenches, that this particular occasion should be the occasion chosen to raise the question of removing that burden from the broad shoulders of the Empire and putting it on to the narrow shoulders of the Irish people!
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I have no desire to speak offensively, unfairly, or untruly, but that is the way Irishmen will look at it. At a time when it is the duty of every one of us to nerve the arm and encourage by every means every man who is of the age and in the condition to fight for his 1208 country, I think the hon. Baronet and the right hon. Gentleman might very well have waived this policy of theirs. That is all I have to say. I have not consciously added anything to the heat of this Debate and I think the whole thing was most unwise.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I am sure I do not wish to depart in any way from the spirit of the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. I only rise for two purposes—in the first place, to say that I have always believed that the Irish were very clever and that they would understand politics a great deal better than we would. We are constantly hearing that said.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. and learned Gentleman might have said so without any hyperbole in his case. I cannot myself think, even if they were very much stupider than the English people, that they could have possibly conceived it as within the bounds of possibility that the Unionist party, of all people in the world, should have desired to throw a slight on one of the regiments of the Brigade of Guards. That does appear to be beyond all credibility, and I cannot think that in any circumstances they would have thought that this party of all parties in the country would have desired in any way to diminish the reward, the proper, just and admirable reward, that should be paid to the soldiers. As far as I am concerned, such a thought never crossed my mind for a moment. If I thought my hon. Friend's Amendment, or the discussion raised by it, threw any doubt whatever upon the full right of those men to the pensions to which they are entitled, irrespective as I think of this Bill, then I should not have said one word on the subject, and I am quite sure my hon. Friend would have adopted the same course. The hon. Member has not quite realised what our point was. It was a very small and very simple point and it was, if I may say so, a Treasury point. The hon. Baronet discharges the duty of watching very carefully the financial correctness of what we do, and I am sure everybody will agree that that is what ought to be done in a crisis like this. I am not sure even that in our desire not to hamper the Government we have not given too great latitude for which we may suffer in the money we have to pay in the end.
1209 The hon. Baronet raised a point which is small, but which is important. In the first place, he said this particular amount dealt with in this Bill is a police pension and not a military pension, and therefore ought to be treated as a police and not a military matter. He may have been right or wrong, but that was his point. His second point was that the proposals of the Bill made a change in the Home Rule Act, which was a thing they ought not to do by emergency legislation. I venture to say if this question had been dealt with by any other Minister except the Vice-President of the Department there would not have been the slightest heat, but a friendly and businesslike discussion, and if the Government adhered to their view the thing would have gone through without the slightest opposition. It is all due entirely, absolutely entirely, to the intervention of the Vice-President, because he persistently-appeared to us to be trying to impute motives to us.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
The Noble Lord will remember that I was not present on the occasion of the Second Beading, when there were five speeches and a Division challenged.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture will bear me out that the discussion was perfectly friendly and that there was no heat or warmth at all, except that I am the only possible sinner since I very foolishly expressed a desire for the presence of the Vice-President.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On the Second Reading no Amendment was moved, and there could be no question of a Division.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
All I wish to make clear, as far as one can make anything clear, to the House and country, is that this whole trouble has arisen from the way we have been treated by the Minister in charge of this Bill. As far as I am concerned, having made our protest, I desire to add nothing more. We still chink that as a matter of financial regularity the point we took is right, but I quite agree that at the present time if 1210 there is the slightest danger of misconception, such a point should not be pressed. Having made that protest we have done all we can and I only hope that in future we shall not be treated in the way we have been treated or this occasion.
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
It does seem to me that this discussion is really a storm in a teacup. I listened to the whole of the Debate the other night which took place in a very thin House and to the whole of this Debate. I am extremely sorry that any suggestion should have emanated from either side that any Member of this House in any part of it grudges in any way ample and adequate and suitable pensions to those men who are fighting for us. I am perfectly certain there is no such Member and I hope that the impression which has been suggested will absolutely disappear. I understood the hon. Baronet's Amendment to be an example of his purity in finance, and of his desire to have things regular and in order—nothing more than that. As far is I understand the question at issue it all turns upon whether the pensions which become due to the Dublin Metropolitan Police for their services in the War are police pensions or military pensions. If they are military pensions, surely they should be paid by the nation, and not by Ireland. If they are police pensions it is another question. I believe I am right in saying that the small sum in question represents purely military pensions, due to these men from the whole nation as an expression of its gratitude. For that reason, I hope the discussion will not continue, or, at any rate, that it will not continue its unfortunate character.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. HEALY
Sub-section (3) says:—
"If, with the consent of the police authorities any officer or constable, for the purpose of the present War, enters or re-enters, enlists or re-enlists, or receives a commission,"
and so on, certain Sections shall apply. I wish to ask whether a retired constable in receipt of a pension who joins the Colours, will be in as good a position for the purposes of this Bill as if he were actually a constable at the moment of his re-enlistment. If not, I suggest that some 1211 such words as the following would be required:—
"In this Act the word 'constable' shall, if necessary, include retired constable or pensioner, voluntarily rejoining the Army or Navy."
As it stands, the Bill is somewhat confused. You are providing for the case of the man who must compulsory rejoin. I submit that the man who voluntarily joins should be put in at least as good a position as the man who only obeys the call. There are many such men, and therefore I move the insertion of the words which I have read.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The best way would be to postpone the Third Reading, and move to re-submit the Bill.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We cannot take the Third Reading to-night, because it is a Money Bill. If the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) will put down a Motion for recommittal, it will give an opportunity for considering the exact effect of the proposal.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
Two classes have to be provided for. Reservists of all ranks are provided for. Volunteers are the main feature of this Bill. The essential proposal is to put the Volunteers in exactly the same position as the Reservists.
§ Mr. RUSSELL
It includes men in the service—300 or 400—who have actually volunteered. More volunteered than could be taken. The Government promised that they should be put in the same position as the others. I hope we shall have no more discussion upon the matter, and that the Bill will be allowed to go through.
§ Bill to be read the third time To-morrow.