§ (1) The pay of district inspectors of the Royal Irish Constabulary shall be accord- 484 ing to the rates specified in Part I. of the First Schedule to this Act instead of the rates specified in Part I. of the First Schedule to the Constabulary and Police (Ireland) Act, 1914 (in this Act referred to as "the Act of 1914").
§ (2) The pay of constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary shall be according to the rates specified in Part II. of the First Schedule to this Act instead of the rates specified in Part II. of the First Schedule to the Act of 1914.
§ (3) The pay of constables of the Dublin Metropolitan Police shall be according to the rates specified in the Second Schedule to this Act instead of the rates specified in the Second Schedule to the Act of 1914.
§ (4) Subject to the provisions of this Act any enactment with respect to the pay of district inspectors or constables shall apply to pay at the rates authorised by this Act in like manner as it applies to pay at the rates actually in force at the passing of this Act.
§ (5) In this Act the expression "constable" has the same meaning as in the Act of 1914.
§ (6) Sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 1 of the Act of 1914 and the First and Second Schedules to that Act are hereby repealed.
§ Mr. P. MEEHAN
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the words-"save that in the case of married members of the Royal Irish Constabulary not higher in rank than head constable the rates specified in Part II of the First Schedule to this Act shall be increased by two shillings."
This Amendment has been put down with the object of making an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the married men in the rank and file who, I think, have a very strong case for consideration in this respect. The lodging allowance which they get on marriage is the sum of 2s. per week. In other branches of the public service the allowance is considerably greater. A prison warder, for instance, gets an allowance of 7s. per week. A sergeant in the Army is granted from £15 to £20 per annum for lodging. The lodging allowance allowed to the higher officers in this force has been increased by a sum of £5 per year. If it is necessary to increase the allowance for the officers, I cannot see why that for the married men in the rank and file, which was fixed at the same time as that of the 485 officers, should not also be increased. To my mind, they have an unanswerable case for an increased allowance. If a single man is deemed to be entitled to 3s. more per week on account of the increased cost of living, surely the married man is entitled to something beyond that. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give this question his consideration.
I desire to second this Amendment. I was surprised to hear the answer given to-day by the Chief Secretary at Question Time to an hon. Member above the Gangway with regard to the allowance to the higher-paid officers of this force. I understand that to vary or increase these allowances it is not necessary to have the authority of a new Act of Parliament, but that the Executive have power to take any action within limits which it considers right in the matter. I hope that hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway who have shown so much interest in the lot of the higher officers will join with us in pressing this very moderate claim on behalf of the lower-paid men. I should like for one moment to refer to the Report of the Departmental Committee which considered the question of the police force in Ireland in 1914. I want to read one short paragraph—paragraph 20, which says:In the years 1905 and 1912 the Board of Trade made special inquiry in six cit es in Ireland as to the price of certain commodities which included bread, flour, potatoes, beef, mutton, pork, bacon, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, tea, sugar and coal. In 1906 the inquiry was extended to four other towns, and Mr. McLeod has nformed us that his department find that the mean idvance in price in the six cities between the years 1905 and 1912 was about fifteen per cent.On the information supplied to that Committee it was decided by the Government in 1914 to further increase the pay of the lower ranks in the force. If they acted thus in 1914 on an increase in the cost of living of 15 per cent., I think they ought to have done considerably more than they propose under this Bill, seeing that the increase since 1914 has been, not 15 per cent., but nearer 60 per cent. My hon. Friend told the Chief Secretary at Question Time that he does not desire to make a difference now between married men and unmarried men I do not think that is a fair position for him to take up, because it must be clear to everyone that married men have far higher expenses by reason of their families than the unmarried men, and it would be reasonable to concede some additional amounts to them, 486 either in this way or in some other way, so that they may be better enabled to meet the increased cost of living.
Since an hon. Member below the Gangway appeared to throw out the idea that because I specially brought forward the case on the Second Reading of this Bill of those not mentioned in this Bill at all, I was less sympathetic to those in the Bill, I should like to say that I stated at the time that I desired in every way to support anything that could be done for this force, and if the hon. Member goes to a Division, I shall certainly support him.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
Hon. Members have laid stress upon the difficulties of the married man in these times, and any of us who, either in the remote or more recent past, have taken part in a raid on the Treasury know how attractive that argument is. It is a perfectly reasonable argument to be addressed to the Government, that there should be a variation in the case of the married men. The first answer to that is, however, that its proposed introduction is an entirely new principle in the remuneration of public servants. It is proposed to substitute for the principle of remuneration for work done a provision for the worker which depends upon the degree of his necessity. That is not a thing known, I venture to pay, in public life or in any employ, and, outside the Government service, I do not think I ever heard it proposed. It would result in some such transaction as this. There is a post for which the market rate of wages is, let us say, 30s. There is a man who can live on 15s. Very well, let him have 20s., a single man. There is another man who is a very deserving married man, who has two children. Perhaps he has 25s. But the case then has to be considered of the married man with perhaps ten children, and really it is a wonderful testimony to the courage and endurance of many of the married men in the Royal Irish Constabulary that they have very large families indeed. But what is being proposed here is the introduction, not of a scale of remuneration for work done which would have some relation to the market rate of pay, or considerations of that kind, but a system of ascertaining what are the necessities of 487 those who do the work, and graduating your payment accordingly. If I had the capacity for dealing with a matter of that kind, I would not shirk from the task, or from making a recommendation, however hardly it might be met at the Treasury.
It is said that the case of these men has been harshly dealt with. Let me tell the Committee just what has been done about a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary with ten years' service, and what his present position is. In 1913 a constable in that position who was a married man had 24s. pay and an allowance of 2s. or 3s,. according to whether he served in the city or in the country. The allowance was not less than 2s. I do not want to overcharge my memory as to when the advantage of residence in the city was given. A man with ten years' service in the Constabulary Force had thus 24s., and 2s., namely 26s., at least if he was a married man. At the present time he has 27s., and if he is in the city, 3s., or in the country 2s. That is 29s., or 30s., and a War bonus of 3s. 6d. That gives him 32s. 6d. or 33s. 6d. Under the proposal of this Bill he will have, if he is a man in the city, 30s. of pay, 3s. of lodging allowance, and 3s. 6d. of War bonus. I do not think it can be said that a man in that position has been neglected. That is all I can say. It would not be right for me in times of great public difficulty to be lavish, or to pretend to be lavish, with public money. It seems to me that a man who, for the sake of the avoidance of personal inconvenience or for securing popularity, is lavish of public money at such a time as this is guilty of an offence of which I would not be guilty. On the other hand, I would not be guilty of proposing, or being a party to, what was less than what in justice is required, and I must say that in the scale of pay which has been adjusted with great pains and care what was essential and just has been aimed at. Whether it has been ultimately arrived at, I am not sure. It has been pointed out that allowances rest on a different footing. They have always done so, but, having regard to the amelioration which has been made in the position of married men, and the difference of principle in dealing with them on the lines recommended, I hope that, although the proposal is as attractive as it is, this Amendment will not be pressed on the Committee.
§ Major NEWMAN
The Chief Secretary led us to suppose that no married man 488 joining the public service can get a greater rate of pay because he is married, and has perhaps a numerous family. Let me point out to him that under a recent arrangement between the War Office and the Ministry of Munitions this very thing is being done. Under that arrangement men no longer fit to serve at the front, and willing to serve in garrison work at home, are by arrangement with the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Munitions—they are still soldiers—to be transferred from the Army to work on munitions, and they are to work at a certain minimum wage, 7d. an hour with overtime. That is the minimum, but there is something more than that. If that man in the Munition Army Reserve has a wife and a certain number of children he may be able to get more pay per week. In addition to his 7d. he gets 2s. 6d. a week, I think, for two or three children, and if he has five children or more he gets 5s. There is a public servant, a soldier transferred to munition work, married, with a large family, and because he is he automatically goes into munitions, and gets 2s. 6d. or 5s. a week more. If that can be done in the case of a soldier munition worker, surely it can be done in the case of a constable if the Chief Secretary cares to do it. If he does not like to do it—
§ Mr. DUKE
It is not in accordance with the manner in which a discussion upon questions of public business is usually conducted in Committee in this House that the hon. Member should rise and say that with regard to a war bonus if I choose to introduce provisions as to pay in the police force which tally with those which have attracted his attention I am at liberty to do it, and that if I do not do it the responsibility is upon me. I am not able to do it, as I have told the Committee I am not able.
§ Mr. O'SHEE
The right hon. Gentleman in describing what has happened since 1913 in increases in pay has not mentioned, probably he is not aware, that in 1914, when the last Act was passed dealing with this matter, though pay was increased, immediately after the passing of the Act the Treasury deprived a certain class of police-constables of an allowance which they had hitherto received. I refer to the men in charge of stations. Sergeants or acting-sergeants in charge of stations received up to 1914, up to the passing of the Act, what is called a station allowance of 8s. 8d. a month—nearly 2s. 2d. a week. Immediately after the Act 489 had passed to give them increased pay the Treasury made a regulation depriving them of this allowance. It was a gradual taking away with one hand of what had been given with the other under the Act. Is that allowance going to be restored or not? Of course, this Bill does not deal with allowances. It deals with pay, but may not we have, after this Bill has passed, something similar to what occurred in 1914, when the last increase in pay was given under the Act? As I have said, the Treasury then made a regulation taking it away with the other hand. Are we going to have the same thing repeated again? Is some other allowance to be taken away as soon as this Bill passes giving an increase in pay? I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman can use his influence in the Treasury to get that allowance of 8s. 8d. per month taken away in 1914 restored for the men in charge of stations. The right hon. Gentleman should be aware that probably the average number of constables to a police station in Ireland would be about six; so that the station allowance affects probably one man out of every six in the Constabulary Force in Ireland. It is, therefore, a very important matter. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to make inquiries if he has not already had the information given to him on this point with regard to it, and to endeavour to get the station allowance restored.
§ Mr. DUKE
I have a hazy recollection of the facts relating to station sergeants, but I do not remember sufficiently clearly to warrant my giving a definite answer. If an allowance has been withdrawn against the manifest intention of the Act of Parliament—if that has happened—I should certainly represent as strongly as I can that it ought to be altered. So far as increases pay under this Act are concerned, the hon. Member will see that I should regard as a breach of public duty the withdrawal with one hand secretly and quietly of a benefit which Parliament had conferred. The hon. Member will find that I shall be no party to any such thing, and I am sure he will find that no Member will be a party to a transaction of that sort.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Would not the right hon. Gentleman be willing to apply the same principle with regard at least to the increases in allowances to officers also to the men, and increase the allowances of the men? In addition to the increase in the salaries of officers you have also increased their allowances, and the Member 490 for Queen's County (Mr. P. Meehan) asks you to adopt precisely the same line in regard to the men. If you say, that you cannot give an increase in salary, but that you will, at all events, give an increase in allowances, that will meet the hon. Member's point, and we simply ask for the men what you are prepared to give to the officers.
§ Mr. DUKE
I desire to meet every representation which can reasonably be met. My present belief is that the whole of these changes have been so adjusted that they are relatively fair, but on any question of allowance it is open to any member of the force to make a representation. I am not excluding the possibility of such a representation. At the same time, it is impossible for me at this time to hold out hope that it will succeed. All I can say is that it will receive a reasonable answer.
§ Mr. MEEHAN
Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not consider that a lodging allowance of 2s. is a sufficient allowance? It is meant to cover the rent of the house. Anybody who knows Ireland knows that a constable cannot get a house for that. If it is not meant to cover the rent, it is a contribution. Surely, if it is considered that the officers should get an increase of £5 a year in their lodging allowance, the same reason applies in the case of a married constable? I cannot think that there is any difference. If there is a necessity in the one case, surely the same necessity exists in the other?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Major NEWMAN
I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (3).
This House on Tuesday and to-day has given so far some hours to discussing the needs and the rights of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan. Police. As I said the other day, both these forces are in a very peculiar position. They have to look to this House for their wants and for the redress of their grievances. It is only occasionally that we are able to attend to these matters, and it is perhaps only after a great deal of pressure from the members of those forces that the Ministry moves. I am glad to say-that it took very little to move the present Chief Secretary For a great many months I have been putting down questions on this matter, but it was only when the present Chief Secretary came into office that something was done. I am perfectly convinced that both forces are 491 very grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for having taken the matter into his hands as quickly as he has done. We have got to realise that what we do at any stated time in connection with the Royal Irish Constabulary or the Dublin Metropolitan Police has certainly to stand for some years before it can be adjusted again. Therefore it may be worth our while to take this opportunity of doing the thing thoroughly, and of meeting any possible grievance and difficulty which may arise in either of the two forces. As this Bill came before the House there unexpectedly arose in the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force a difficulty which we have been called upon to settle. The question is one which embraces the broad question of discipline in the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The Chief Secretary on Tuesday told us that we should have to deal with that question, and he said how in his opinion it ought to be dealt with. He said we oughtto co-operate in seeing that the immediate future of Ireland is not disfigured either by insubordination of police or by disorder in any considerable body of the other citizens of Ireland."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 7th November, 1916 col. 121.]That is, I take it, what this Committee has got to do this afternoon. We have to deal with this question one way or another before this Bill passes from the Committee. The Chief Secretary—and I rather took note of the words used on Tuesday—spoke ofthe immediate future of Ireland.The right hon. and learned Gentleman and I do not see eye to eye in relation to the government of Ireland. I believe he thinks that after a short while the Act of 1914 will be in operation. I myself do not think it will be. At any rate, when that Act is in operation, then automatically the Dublin Metropolitan Police will come under the Irish Parliament and thus pass out of our control. It may, therefore, be that in the immediate future we in this House will have nothing more to say to that force. We have, however, also to consider the question of the Royal Irish Constabulary, though if and when that Act is in operation that force will, as I understand, for a period of six years be still under the control of the Imperial Parliament and not under the control of the Irish House. Though the outlook for the Dublin Metropolitan Police may be certainly unimportant, that for the Royal Irish Constabulary is important. The Chief Secretary went on to declare that 492 until that happens members of both these forces, and especially the Dublin Metropolitan Police—this, I think, in answer to an hon. Member who put a question—ought to forego membership of other organised forces. That is the question. Is this Committee going to agree with what the Chief Secretary said? Is the Committee going to say that members of the Irish Police Forces, whether they belong to the Dublin Metropolitan Police or the Royal Irish Constabulary, shall not be allowed to become members of what the Chief Secretary called "organised forces."
What is the immediate position? Owing to the censorship on this subject—to which I have alluded—we, of course, in this House have to rely upon what the Chief Secretary told us on Tuesday. I listened to his speech then, and I read his speech over very carefully in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I say this: It is an admirable example of the sort of speech that gets past the Censor, for certainly no Censor could object to passing it! To my mind, however, it was somewhat difficult to make out from what the right hon. and learned Gentleman told us what is the exact position. He said, so far as I can make out, that no member of the police force had actually broken his oath or obligation by joining the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which is admittedly what some of them did. They had not, it appears, broken the oath which they took, an oath imposed upon them by an old Statute of William IV., by which it was enacted that they should not belong to any secret or political society with the exception of the order of Freemasons. The Chief Secretary admitted, because we all knew it, that a certain proportion of the Dublin Metropolitan Police had undoubtedly committed a breach of discipline. They had, in defiance of orders, rightly or wrongly, wisely or unwisely, issued by superior officers, gone to a meeting of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, I think, indeed, two successive meetings. I understand that under the eyes of their superior officers, they formed themselves into a lodge or branch of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. That breach of discipline was not denied. I understand it has been dealt with. The Chief Secretary told us that one member of the police force who was suspected of being a ringleader had been dismissed. A few others had been fined £l each, and some others have been transferred to other stations.
Another point. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told us that the police 493 were led astray, as I understood him, by certain civilian influence or civilian element, in conjunction with a few of the ringleaders, amongst the members of the force, by "procuring"—that is the expression I think he used—by "procuring" a breach of discipline amongst the members of the force. The ringleaders in the force have been punished. Whether that punishment was adequate, more than adequate, too severe, or not severe enough, I do not know. But they have been punished. What about the civilians? What about those who went about and got hold of these policemen and tried to suborn them to do something directly contrary to the order of their superior officers? Have they been dealt with? Have they been arrested or punished? I should imagine that under some portion of the Defence of the Realm Act, even in Ireland, anyone who went about trying to seduce the police from their allegiance to superior authority ought to be very severaly punished. I should like to know whether or not that has been done? I should like the Chief Secretary to answer that. I should also like him to tell me whether or not any members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police at the present time belong to the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Some 300, as I understand, joined this Order. Are they still members or not? Does the matter really rest in this way: that the ringleaders have been punished, one man dismissed, two or three men fined, and other men transferred to other stations, and that the bulk of the force are allowed to retain their membership of this lodge, which they formed; or has the lodge been broken up and has every man of the force given an explicit undertaking that he will no longer belong to that Order so long as the instruction against it holds out?
I should like to get from the Chief Secretary an answer to another question. I know that to a certain extent the Chief Secretary has to reap where another has sown. To a great extent he has our sympathy. He has had to meet a difficult situation—a nasty situation. He is not a military man. Perhaps he does not realise what disobedience to an order lawfully given means. Perhaps he hardly realises what the penalty would be if these young constables, who might be, and I dare say ought to be, not constables in Dublin, but serving with the Irish Guards on the Somme, had been soldiers, and had disobeyed an order lawfully given. I urge 494 him to deal with us frankly and fairly in this matter. I repeat a suggestion which was made, I think, at the conclusion of the speech of an hon. Member below the Gangway, and that is, let us allow these constables to belong to no secret society whatsoever. Do not let us have the Hibernians, Orangemen, or Freemasons, at any rate so long as both these forces are under the control of Parliament. What may happen after they are transferred to the Dublin Parliament does not concern us now. Up till then, for the safety of Ireland, for fair play, and on behalf of the peace of that country, let us lay down once and for all the rule that, so long as we here have control of these forces, so long as they have to look to us for their emoluments and so on, we will not allow any member of those forces, be he county inspector, divisional inspector, subordinate officer, head constable, or what not, to be a member of any secret society—Freemasons, Ancient Order of Hibernians, or Orangemen. If the Chief Secretary will give us assurances on this point I shall not press my Amendment to a Division. If not, I should certainly like to test the feelings of the House in the matter.
§ Mr. DILLON
I do not desire, on this very delicate subject which has been raised, to say anything that will increase the difficulty of the task of the Chief Secretary. He knows by this time, what I said when he came to Ireland, the extreme difficulty of his work. I cannot think, however, that the hon. Member who undertook to raise this very important discussion had exactly the same principle in his mind when he did raise it. It has undoubtedly a very broad and a very far-reaching incidence. He has forced upon the House a discussion which it is now quite impossible to avoid as to the police-constables in Dublin. In the course of his observations he made what appeared to me to be meant as a reflection upon the Chief Secretary's capacity for governing Ireland. He said, "He is not a military man." I suppose in the eyes of the hon. and gallant Gentleman—recently become"gallant"—nobody is fit to govern Ireland except a military man.
§ Mr. DILLON
The Chief Secretary will be hardly surprised to hear that I consider that rather in his favour than against his qualifications for governing Ireland. In opening his observations the hon. and gallant Member for Enfield said that this 495 was a broad question of discipline. I quite agree. It is a very broad and far-reaching question of discipline. What is the complaint made by the hon. Member? He alleges that 500 police of Dublin have formed themselves into a lodge of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I did not gather that from the observations of the Chief Secretary the other day, but that is the hon. and gallant Gentleman's statement, and statements somewhat similar have appeared in the Dublin Press.
I told the Chief Secretary the other day that, while the police in Dublin have had, I think, substantial grievances as regards their pay, these were by no means the whole of their grievances. I know something of the Dublin police, and I know that for many, many years there has been simmering in the ranks of the police, the constables and sergeants, a great deal of discontent, quite apart from their pay, and that discontent had many causes, into which I do not like to go in any detail, but substantially it was concerned with the fact that there were certain influences at work which convinced the police that promotion in the ranks of the Dublin Police Force did not go according to merit and efficiency. It is undoubtedly true that was the belief of the police, and when the hon. Member for Enfield comes forward at the eleventh hour, in face of this agitation in Dublin, of which he has drawn so lurid a picture, and proposes—I was very glad to hear him make the proposal—to alter the oath—a most improper oath—under which the police of Dublin have been bound for years, I think it is another unfortunate illustration of the characteristic which is so frequently manifested in the government of Ireland, that these grievances may go on for year after year, and for generation after generation, and nobody thinks of remedying them, or of listening to them, until some great crisis arises, which threatens the community and law, order, and discipline with serious danger.
The other day, when some of us pointed out that both the Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police, by an extraordinary oath, are prohibited from belonging to any secret society or any political association, excepting the Society of Freemasons, several hon. Members cried out that the Society of Freemasons is not political. I do not know anything about the Society of Freemasons in this country, or about the details of its proceedings in 496 Ireland; but I do know this, that you may-state that fact until you are black in the face, but you will not get any man in Ireland to believe it. I speak as an outsider altogether, quite ignorant of these matters, as, being a Roman Catholic, I am obliged to be, but it is a very singular-thing that the great Society of Freemasons, against whom I do not desire to make any attack whatever, in certain countries, in certain times, has become a most powerful and dominating political society. Nobody who has studied history will challenge that. It is a matter of public knowledge that the great revolution in Turkey was carried out by the Grand Lodge of Salonika, and that all the Young Turks whose names were famous throughout the world at that time owed a great-deal of their remarkable power, which enabled them to overthrow the Sultan's-rule, to the fact that they were leading and high up in the Masonic Order. That is a matter of common knowledge throughout Europe, and it is remarkable that in certain countries and at certain periods the Masonic Society, which in this country may be, for all I know, and I believe it is, a purely charitable, social, and benevolent society, becomes when under the control of certain individuals, and, under the stress of certain peculiar circumstances, locally a most powerful and formidable-political association. It was so in Italy, Portugal, and Turkey. That has been the case in Ireland for three or four generations, notoriously, and it is perfectly idle-to deny it.
Here is the oath which the constabulary of Ireland and the Dublin Metropolitan Police are compelled to swear, with one slight variation, to which I will draw attention in a moment. This oath—and it is a thing which it is well for the Chief Secretary to take note of—was imposed upon the constabulary in 1836, at a time when a great deal of the Penal Code against the Catholics had been barely repealed—I mean when the Catholics of Ireland were an oppressed majority of the population, and really were kept out of all authority and all social position in their own country. The oath is:I, A B., do swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign,and so forth, and then it goes on to detail the duties which he undertakes to perform—and that I do not now belong, and that I will not while I shall hold the said office, join, subscribe or belong to any political society whatsoever, or to any secret society whatsoever, unless to the Society of Freemasons.497 That oath, imposed upon the constables of a Catholic nation, where the vast majority of the people were suffering under cruel oppression from the law, and where that majority were forbidden by the Church, under pain of mortal sin, to join this association, was an act of highhanded oppression, and was calculated in the eyes of the people to mark out the policemen as partisans of the ascendancy faction who ruled Ireland for many years, and this act destroyed all idea of faith on the part of the Irish in the impartiality of the administration of the law. I say, therefore, that the infliction of that oath, which has gone on to this hour, was a cruel and very outrageous insult to the Catholic people of Ireland. Here is the form of oath taken by the Dublin Metropolitan Police—and that I do not now belong to, and that while I shall hold the said office I will not join or belong to, any political society whatsoever, or any secret society whatsoever, unless the Society of Freemasons.That form of oath, administered to the Dublin Metropolitan Police, admits in the very words of the oath that the Freemasons are a political society, because. it says, "I will not belong to any political society except the Society of Freemasons."
§ Mr. DILLON
The wording of the oath conveys the meaning which even the framers of the oath recognised.
§ Mr. DILLON
That is the situation. In a country governed, as Ireland has always been governed, without the slightest regard to the wishes of her own people, on these men was imposed a duty so difficult and delicate that it was almost beyond the resources of men to carry out those duties in a way to command the public confidence, and the Government in those days went out of their way to frame an oath which would destroy, in my opinion, all hope of impartiality on the part of the police. How has that worked out? I need not go over the long history, alluded to the other day by the hon. and gallant Member, of disturbances and collisions-between police and people. All I will say with reference to that is that it is one of the most horrible misfortunes that can happen to any town or country in the world that the police should be looked upon by the people, not as their protectors, servants and friends, but as their 498 enemies, and as the instrument of a tyrrany against which they have struggled. It is not alone in the spirit embodied in that oath and the whole administration of the Metropolitan Police, and the Constabulary as well, but it is that they have been always placed under the control of officers who are out of sympathy with the masses of the people. One of the causes of the trouble in Dublin—and now that the subject has been raised we should speak perfectly frankly—is that the belief has grown up amongst the police—and I believe it to be a sound one—that promotion does not always wait upon merit, but is the reward of certain occult influences, outside influences, and political views which ought not to enter into the question of the promotion of a police force at all. There you have one of the causes, and I warn the Chief Secretary that he had better inform himself on that matter fully before he proceeds to deal with this trouble in the Dublin Police, or before he imagines that he has got rid of the trouble altogether.
Considering all these things, I think the way in which those police have carried out their duties in the city, as a rule, has been worthy of all praise. They are a very respectable body of men, a very efficient body of men, and I must say physically, I think, the finest body of police in the world. I do not think I have ever seen a finer body. They have been once or twice, but only once or twice, in my memory badly in collision with the people, and one of the causes of their discontent is that they believe, and we believe that those collisions were entirely due to the want of skill, the want of police training, the want of tact, and the want of popular sympathy in the case of their superior officers. Over and over again, you have put men at the head of the police in Dublin who have no more experience of police duties than I have, or any man in this House has. That is a perfect outrage. To be a successful police officer requires careful training; it is not a thing a man can take up as he takes up-golf or any form of amusement. I admit golf needs some amount of training. But to police a great city requires long experience in training. I am not saying anything against the present Commissioner, because he has had the training, but his predecessor and others before him had no more knowledge of police duties, and no more training and experience, than the first man you meet in the street. 499 That was the cause, in my opinion, of the terrible troubles, the trace of which is still, to some extent, existing in the city, and the terrible troubles of 1911 and 1912, when the city was in a state of disorder. These are all contributory causes towards the present trouble, and in face of this delicate and difficult situation the hon. and gallant Member calmly proposes to cut out the very modest proposals of the Government to meet the grievances of these men in regard to their claim. In proposing his Amendment the hon. and gallant Member pours a flood of denunciation on the Dublin police, and challenges the Chief Secretary to punish—by way of a piece of amusement, I suppose, not having enough anxiety on his hands in Ireland—500 Dublin policemen. No man out of a lunatic asylum ever made such a proposal. I would like to see what the hon. and gallant Member would do if he got rid of 600 policemen.
§ Mr. DILLON
When the hon. Member throws that taunt to the Irish police it is -a base taunt. They were willing to go to the trenches, and the very finest regiments you have put in the field were the Irish Guards drawn from the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Police. They offered to go to the trenches, but Lord Kitchener and the War Office forbade them to go, and the Irish Government was so much afraid of us that they would not allow the Dublin Police to go. We offered Lord Kitchener, on several occasions, to create three battalions of the Irish Guards from the Dublin Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary, and they were quite willing to volunteer, and they would not have them, so that the hon. and gallant Member had better drop that form of taunt. It is unworthy of him because these men were willing to go, and they would have formed the finest troops England ever put on the field. The hon. and gallant Member calmly proposes to punish five hundred of the Dublin police because they joined, as he alleges out of his great knowledge, the Ancient Order 500 of Hibernians. What is the Ancient Order of Hibernians? It is not a secret society, it is not an oath-bound society, and it is not a political society. It is a friendly society registered under the Insurance Act. It is an open legal friendly society which is open to Catholics. I admit it is a sectarian society, but in Ireland the Freemasons are a sectarian society closed to Catholics, and all that the police have done—I admit it is very delicate ground, but they have been smarting under grievances which have existed a long time—all that it is alleged they have done—I do not know whether it is a fact—is that 500 of them have joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians. I ask on what grounds of justice can the hon. Member take up the position that they are not as much entitled to join the Ancient Order of Hibernians as the officers are entitled to join the Freemasons. That is an impossible position.
If the hon. Member wants my opinion, I will give it to him. I would not allow, if I were administering the affairs of Ireland, a policeman to join any society. I would carry it further, and I would not allow any man engaged in the administration of the law to join any society. But we know perfectly well that up to quite recently every man engaged in the administration of the law in Ireland was a Freemason. I say that the law, whether it be administered by policemen or magistrates or prosecutors, or the Attorney-General or judges, they ought to be all above suspicion and stand equally between His Majesty's subjects, no matter what society they belong to. Therefore, I go further than the hon. and gallant Member does, as I would require every judge, magistrate, Crown prosecutor, and everyone, whoever he may be, in carrying out the law to take an oath that he would not belong or did not belong to any association. We all remember the Lord's Prayer, and human nature is weak, and if you have before you in the administration of the law a man who is bound to you by the bonds of an association you are tempted to be friendly. The principle is a sound one. Remember, when we talk so lightly about punishing these constables in Dublin, you have a very delicate situation in Dublin and Ireland in general. Whatever the action of these men may have been, that action has been the result of long-continued injustice for which they saw no remedy whatever, and now for the hundredth time in the history of Ireland, when they have 501 taken strong action and some attempt, at all events, is made to remedy their grievances, and an addition is made to their pay by the Government, the hon. and gallant Member says he thinks this ought to be removed.
§ Mr. DUKE
The situation which has been described by hon. Members does not impress me with alarm or even indignation, but it is, nevertheless, a situation which requires to be regarded with temper and forbearance as well as reasonable courage. I want to say a word with regard to the Amendment. My hon. Friend opposite says that hundreds of members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police have broken their oaths by joining a secret society, and he says that I should dismiss them. Now that is a very bold and simple proposition. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), who probably has as good a means of knowledge on this question as the hon. Member opposite, and probably as good as I have, of this society, which is stigmatised as a political and secret society, the joining of which is said to be a breach of the oath, says it is not a secret society and it is not a political society. Now I am called in question in no moderate terms because I do not accept a newspaper report, a biassed and interested newspaper report published with a definite intent and not a good intent, which is not only an indictment of the members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, but is a conviction of them, and I am expected, upon a series of newspaper reports as to the honesty of which I will not say I doubt, although I am convinced that they are mischievous in many particulars—upon these I am asked to accept the indictment and conviction, and to proceed to statutory punishment. If I were capable of conduct of that kind, I think I should demonstrate that His Majesty's Government made a woeful mistake when they invited me to go to Ireland to endeavour to discharge the duties of Chief Secretary. It is not in that spirit that I deal with any question in Ireland, and rather than do so I would resign the office which I hold. What the hon. Member for Enfield (Major Newman) proposes practically means that an editor here and there, an editor in Belfast, and perhaps one in London, have convicted the members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, or some of them, of a breach of their oath and that I should proceed to punish them.
§ Major NEWMAN
What I said was that owing to the censorship we really do not 502 know what has happened, and I asked the Chief Secretary to tell us exactly what has happened. I merely mention the fact that he had already punished five of these men in various degrees.
§ Mr. DUKE
I will deal with that point in its proper place. I am called into question and subjected to public censure because I have not proceeded to extreme measures with the Dublin Police Force on the ground of the allegation that has been made against them, and made with a real motive, in various newspapers. A few nights ago I told the House what my knowledge was of this matter. I said it was alleged that a considerable body of these men had broken their oaths. I said that it will be the business of the Administration to ascertain whether these men have broken their oaths or not. It is not the business of any Administration to assume that men have broken their oaths. The hon. and gallant Member for Enfield declares that he does not know, and the, hon. Member for East Mayo declares that he does know, the facts with regard to the Ancient Order of Hibernians. This body has been entirely reconstituted in recent years, and I have said I will not believe that a body of Irishmen, whose conduct has been generally excellent, could be deliberately guilty of a breach of their oath, and that I must be satisfied these men have broken their oath before I conclude in my own mind that they have. More particularly so when it is always present to my mind that the Statute which constituted this body put me at their head, and consequently the members of this force are entitled to expect that I will have some little regard for their honour and not assume lightly that they have committed such a scandalous offence as a breach of their oath. If the course which the hon. Member for East Mayo has indicated is followed, there will be no need for that investigation. During the years in which the hon. Member for East Mayo and I have sat in this House I have not) found myself in agreement with him on many occasions, but we are in agreement here. The hon. Member said frankly, and I think courageously, that a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Force ought not to belong to associations which may affect his discipline. That is the proposition which I lay down in this matter, and I extend it to all bye associations. I may say, with regard to the Dublin Metropolitan Police, that I am not anxious to find that they have committed 503 either breaches of discipline or infringements of an obligation more solemn than discipline, but if I find that they have and that it is persisted in I shall not shrink from any duty which my position imposes upon me. I have, however, to be satisfied first. That is all I need say with regard to the questions: what is the Ancient Order of Hibernians; who is said to have joined it; has he joined it; and does he when his attention is called to the matter persist in his membership? When the facts are clear, the course of duty for the man who is charged with discipline in that force will also be clear, and I can tell the hon. Member for Enfield that if I am minded to shrink from that duty I shall take care that some man who is not succeeds me.
There have been breaches of discipline or acts of indiscipline. I said so. I deplore them. It has been to me a most painful business. There have been acts of indiscipline which it seemed to the very experienced Chief Commissioner ought to be dealt with in a particular manner. I am going a little further. There has been a defiance of authority in another matter which has led me to the conclusion that the Chief Commissioner should deal again with the question of discipline. The Chief Commissioner will do his duty in that matter, and the Chief Secretary will endeavour to do his duty. But assuming that, just see what is proposed. Here is a force of upwards of 1,000 men who have done police duty and done it creditably and well for a very long time. There are breaches of discipline which I believe are of a transitory nature and which I also believe will entirely pass away if the situation is dealt with moderately and reasonably and not in the provocative way which is pressed upon me from some quarters. On those breaches of discipline the hon. Member comes and says, "The Dublin Metropolitan Police are in a disturbed condition. Let us improve the situation by refusing to all of them, refusing to the whole one thousand, eleven hundred or twelve hundred, an increase of pay which the Chief Secretary has declared on his responsibility in this House is due to them as a matter of justice." My hon. Friend thinks that would help police discipline! He likened police discipline in Dublin to military discipline, and suggested that if they had been soldiers and had done certain things they would not have been in a trench but under it. My hon. Friend's cheerful suggestion is a sort of incitement 504 to me to go even further than the powers-of the head of a police force would induce me to go. Take them at 1,100 men, take them at 1,000 men, half of them married men with families living in Dublin, anxious, so far as I know, chiefly to do, their duty and to earn wages on which they can live; take the single men anxious-to earn money, and the greater part of them anxious to save a little so that they may get married; take it that among them are some who are insubordinate. The course which the hon. Member recommends to me is a course which, I believe, would probably result in giving me not a few rafractory spirits who had been misled into acts of indiscipline, but a compact body of men who would say, "You have stood up in the House of Commons and pressed upon it as a measure of justice that we should have an increase in our pay. There have been newspaper reports of widespread indiscipline and undoubted acts of individual indiscipline, and so you are going to inflict summary punishment upon the whole of us and deny justice to us en bloc." Those are not my notions as to the proper mode of carrying on government.
I want the men of the Dublin Metropolitan Police to understand fully what the position is at the present time and what are the risks. The risk on the part of the public is that a body of men would run away from their discipline and would have to be displaced. If they were not a disciplined force, if they had ceased to be police and had become a body of refractory persons, then a plain duty would fall upon the man who was charged with the administration. That does not arise, and I do not fear that it is going to arise unless the Dublin police are egged on and incited and provoked to something which I do not conceive that they have ever entertained. That situation is not going to arise. What is the next thing? It may be that there will be isolated acts of insubordination. If you get isolated acts of insubordination in a disciplined force and they are not repented of and no amend is made, there must be punishment for indiscipline, and no man of sense, whether he sits in this House, in any quarter of it, or whether he is a citizen of Dublin, or a man engaged in administration, or whether he is a member of the-police force, can doubt that if there is persistent disobedience and refusal to discipline in a disciplined force there must be punishment. I want that to be clearly 505 understood. I still have confidence that the men of the Dublin Metropolitan Police will remember their old traditions and their duty, and, if they are let alone, I am sure that they desire to do their duty. Taking that to be so, the road will be easy for every man who has not committed an offence for which it is impossible not to punish him to get on comfortably and well in the situation in which he has chosen to embark.
I desire the well-being of the Metropolitan Police. I desire it because by Statute I am at the head of that force; I desire it in the interests of Dublin; and I desire it for the common credit of the nation where it has been supposed we can govern ourselves without recourse to those means of violence and those recondite measures which are pressed upon one by irresponsible people. In the proposals here I have endeavoured to do justice to the Metropolitan Police. If I have failed, it has not been for want of intent. I believe that the police desire no more than that they should receive justice. I expect that they will yield to those to whom they owe allegiance that allegiance they owe, and in that confidence I ask the House to reject the Amendment of the hon. Member for Enfield, and to put it in the power of the administration to deal justly with the Dublin Police Force, so that if recourse has to be made to acts of discipline they will feel, at any rate, that the hand of discipline is not the hand of injustice.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
This is not an entirely Irish question, because, peculiarly enough, there is at this moment a similar dispute in this country arising out of the decision of certain policemen to join a trade union, which they have done, and which has compelled the authorities to take action against them. The House generally will appreciate the spirit in which the Chief Secretary has approached this question. If I were to quarrel with anything that he said, it would be his reference to irresponsible persons, because I take that reference to be to the Gentleman who has the honour of representing my Constituency, Enfield. But I want to say to the hon. Member for Enfield one or two things. First, he had better stop, and I think the House ought to stop, talking about either driving men into the trenches or shooting them immediately you have a grievance against them, because people in the country and working men are beginning to ask, when so much is 506 being said about the trenches, how it is that a man can be a major in khaki one day and in plain clothes the next.
§ Major NEWMAN
As this is about the second time in this Debate that the same charge has been made against me—of course, it is a charge of cowardice which the hon. Member makes against me—may I explain that at this time last year I was out in France. I was in the trenches about ten days afterwards, and I stayed in the trenches till the second week in January, when I came home with rheumatism. I have not been allowed to go out since, and I am at present on light duty, doing recruiting in Whitehall without pay.
§ Major NEWMAN
I may or may not be attacking my own countrymen here, but I want to put it to the House that these perpetual charges of cowardice—that is what it is—which are being made against me are rather unfair. After all, the hon. Member for West Belfast is a younger man than I am. I am forty-six, and he is younger than that.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. W. Wilson)
The hon. Member was permitted to rise to make a personal explanation, but not to proceed to make a personal attack—especially in an interlude.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I never said anything about cowardice. What is the explanation of the hon. Member? It is that there is a reason for his absence from the trenches. If he is entiled to say that, we must accept his reason without knowing it before, are we not entitled to say to him, "What reason have you got to accuse other people of cowardice until you know their side of the case as well?" The answer to him, therefore, is that nothing is so calculated to cause irritation and ill-feeling as the mere statement, made in this House whenever working men revolt against something, that they are to be treated as a lot of children and either whipped or driven into the Army. This question affects the real principle of citizenship. On two occasions, once about nine months ago, the men on the Southwestern Railway who are employed as policemen, and who take precisely the same oath that has been read out—in every sense policemen, with all the powers of the ordinary Metropolitan Police—decided to join a trade union. The 507 railway company, which was nominally their employer, said, "You have broken your oath by this action." They said, "We cannot permit you to join a trade union, when by being a member of that union you may be called upon to break the oath of allegiance which you have taken." But even the railway company did not take the drastic remedy pre-posed by the hon. Member for Enfield. They did not say, "We will dismiss you," but what they said was, "We will give you an opportunity of either leaving your union or sticking to it, in which event we will give you a job equivalent in pay and everything else." On the other hand, I joined issue with my own men on this question, because I do not think it is a good or right thing to have people who are in the position of policemen in a trade union or associations with large masses of men where they are bound by the very nature of things to come in conflict with the authorities. Although the bulk of the men want to be in the union, I took a stand immediately and said, having regard to the discipline required and to the fact that you are compelled to take an oath, and that you have either got to be loyal to the union or to break the oath, no man ought to be allowed to be put into that position. That is the stand I took then against my own men, and I stand to that position to-day. You cannot expect either the employer to put a man in that position normally and you cannot expect the State to encourage him in that position; but the question cannot stop there. If you deny to policemen or others the ordinary rights of combination and opportunities to improve their position, then you must of necessity provide means for redressing those men's grievances. In the case I have mentioned it was notorious that the men were driven to that step because there were no means of redressing their grievances, and advantage was taken of the fact that they were unorganised and could have no support. Therefore, I put it to the Chief Secretary that, in considering this question, it is essential to keep in mind that if men of this position have grievances and complaints there must of necessity be some avenue open whereby those grievances and complaints can be remedied.
On the other hand, you have no right to say to a constable, private or sergeant, you shall be denied associations in certain directions, if you are going to allow the head of the police to have similar associa- 508 tions—in other words, if it is right in the interests of law and order and for the good of the community to lay down the rule that a constable shall not be a member of a society, no matter what that society is for the moment, then you have got to apply that rule rigidly at the top of the tree as well as the bottom. If you do not, then you cannot blame the men for following the example of others, and you are on the high road to break the very discipline which is necessary. I rose to put this point because it is not purely an Irish point. It is an English point as well. It is felt in London, and in this country, but I do appreciate what the hon. Member for Mayo has said that in a matter of this kind it would be far better for the men to be free in every sense from associations, and the only way to keep them free is to give them real and legitimate opportunities of remedying any grievances they may have and of improving their position. If the direction suggested by the hon. Member for Enfield is followed in that direction lies disaster. It is a cruel thing-to anyone who knows about Ireland and the state of things and feeling that exists there to see men goaded practically to do the wrong thing. It is an easy matter in a great dispute for someone to say to the men do not do so-and-so, stop out or go on strike. But the people who are entrusted with responsibility have got to-look all round a question before they take that course. We find seething discontent in Ireland to-day, and anyone who has been there knows it exists, and we have the impression created by the speech of the hon. Member for Enfield. After all the people in Ireland do not know him so well as we do. There would be no harm or danger or difficulty if the full measure of the situation was understood, but unfortunately it is not understood. Because it is not understood it will be more desirable in the interests of Ireland and of this country that friction and irritation should be avoided, instead of aggravated in the manner suggested by a step like that which has just been put forward.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
There is an Amendment on the Paper which deals with the question we have just been discussing, and the Chief Secretary has not told the House whether it is his intention to accept that Amendment.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
It is in the name of the hon. Member for the College Green Division of Dublin (Mr. Nugent), and its purpose is to alter the oath which the police now have to take.
§ Mr. DUKE
I said when the Bill was before us on Second Reading that I saw no answer to the objection there was to retaining this exception in favour of the Order of Freemasons in the oath, and that I proposed to take the necessary steps in accordance with that view. It is difficult to say what I will do on a particular Amendment, because it is not quite so simple as to enable me to say yes or no with regard to the particular Amendment, but, of course, I propose to make the change.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
A great deal of the time of the House, and the time perhaps that ought to be occupied with other matters contained in this Bill, has already been taken up in the discussion of this question, and I wanted, as far as possible, to avoid the repetition of the discussion, therefore I am very glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman, in pursuance of the promise which he gave when the Bill was before the House on the Second Reading, proposes to accept the Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend. I desire to make one or two observations in reply to the hon. Member for Enfield (Major Newman). He stated that I, with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Thomas), charged him with cowardice. I desire to say that I did nothing of the sort, and I want it to be understood that I do not in the slightest degree feel that I was entitled to charge him with anything of the sort. The hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension if he thinks that in anything I said that I charged him with cowardice. I had no such intention in my mind, but I want to point out this: The hon. Gentleman states that, for reasons of infirmity, he has been compelled to come back here from the front where, I understood, he spent ten days.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Undoubtedly the hon. Gentleman has manifested activities, intellectual and physical, in this House which certainly do not indicate that he is in a very infirm mood. He has come here day after day in khaki, and he has put questions on the Paper making reflections upon leaders, organisations, and 510 causes, and many things that affect Ireland and her welfare, and then, when he stands up in the House when a claim is made for justice for a body of public-servants like the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and when he says that the proper place for them is not in Dublin but in the trenches, am I not entitled to put to-him a tu quogue and ask him why he is-not there himself, because these other men, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, were prepared to go if the Government will allow them to do so. But I may point out to the House that the hon. Gentleman represents perhaps one of the most reactionary elements in Europe. He represents the South of Ireland landlords. I myself have the greatest admiration for the straightness and courage of the Ulster Orangemen, but I have nothing, but contempt for the Southern Unionists. He is a gentleman who lives upon the toleration and good will of his Catholic fellow-countrymen, and then avails of his-position as an English Member of Parliament in this House to use every opportunity at his command and every incident for the purpose of misrepresenting the people who treat him kindly and tolerantly in Ireland.
As long as the Irish police were instruments of tyranny they- were the most-superb and heroic body of men in the world, but when they are endeavouring to work in a spirit of sympathy, as they have been in the Dublin Metropolitan. Force, and to regard the people as their friends and their comrades and fellow citizens, and not as slaves and creatures whom they can trample upon, then the hon. Gentleman comes here and says that their action is illegitimate. I think no-means is illegitimate for men who feel that they are badly used, and badly paid, and badly treated, and no method is so which is not revolutionary in their judgment which is used in order to extract the concessions which justice demands. The moment they do that the solution of the problem from this South of Ireland representative of an English Tory constituency is to refuse to this force the justice which even the Chief Secretary for Ireland believes should be conceded to them, though I. must confess I think even yet the demands of the Dublin Metropolitan Police have not been conceded as adequately as they ought to have been. I am very glad this discussion has been raised. It was not raised by us. An 511 issue has been raised by the hon. Member for Enfield, and we are glad it has been raised. We have never claimed for Catholic constables in Ireland, nor for Catholics in any branch of activity, rights or privileges which ought not to be given to those of every religious persuasion. It may be some information to the House to learn that this is the first time I ever heard of this oath. If the Dublin Metropolitan Police have done no greater service than the service of bringing attention to bear upon what I regard as a most anomalous condition of things, they have rendered a great service indeed. Let all policemen in Ireland stand upon the basis of a common equality. Let them either join the Hibernians or any other society they like, and let them join the Freemasons or any other society they like, but if the principle which the hon. Member opposite has laid down as a leader of the Labour cause, a still more acceptable principle, is to be the principle that operates as to men in great disciplined forces charged with the custody of the preservation of public authority and law, and if those men are not to have any connection or affiliation direct or indirect with associations, then I say let that be a common principle equally applicable to all men in the force.
I see no harm in my intervening in the Debate, because I have been indirectly referred to by more than one speaker. During the Second Reading of this Bill the Chief Secretary made a number of statements to which I intended to reply at the time, but I thought I had better wait until we saw what developments took place. The right hon. Gentleman's statements were inaccurate. His first statement was that somebody unnamed, in order to get an increase for the Dublin Metropolitan Police, had succeeded in seducing them into disorder. That statement is absolutely inaccurate. If there is any disorder among the Dublin Metropolitan Police, the Chief Secretary himself is responsible. This has been going on for months. Every effort was made to elicit some information from the Chief Secretary. I myself wrote an appeal to him asking that when he was considering this question that he should receive a deputation from the men. That would have necessitated no organisation, no meetings, no anything. What was the reply? It was that if the Chief Secretary con- 512 sidered it desirable, if the constables approached their officers and if their officers agreed, then he would receive a deputation. I pointed out to him the ridiculousness of the position, and that if he considered it desirable that he should communicate it to the constables. How were the men to know otherwise? It would have saved the Chief Secretary and others considerable trouble if he had adopted that course. If men have grievances the best way to remedy them—it may not be the way of Dublin Castle—is the way any business would be transacted, namely, ascertain what the grievances are.
Another statement was made by the Chief Secretary as to the holdings of meetings. Meetings were held during the last two months, at first in the Forresters' Hall, but subsequently the Commissioner of Police advised the men to hold their meetings in Capel Street police station. They were held there, and not the slightest indication was given to the men that they would receive any attention, but dark hints were thrown out by officers that the men who put forward these grievances would be victimised. Who were the men selected? The men who organised the meetings in Capel Street Police Station with the authority and permission of the Chief Commissioner. Again, we were told by the Chief Secretary that no man who took part in the famous Howth proceedings would be penalised. That, however, has happened. The very man who has been penalised was one of those who got up a memorial on behalf of the two men dismissed appealing for their reinstatement. Because he got up that memorial the officers threatened that he would be dealt with. I tell the Chief Secretary—I know the Metropolitan Police, and am probably more intimate with them than anybody else—that they have not the slightest grievance or resentment against the Chief Commissioner or the Assistant Commissioner or against the main body of officers, but they take objection to the fact that it is permissible for a certain lady to go to these men inviting them to attend prayer meetings and try to seduce Roman Catholic constables to attend Merrion Hall and another hall, and that those who go have the advocacy of this particular lady for their promotion. That promotion was not given for merit. The original rule was that there should be an examination, but the examination was dropped and this other was substituted. 513 As regards the hon. and gallant Member representing Enfield (Major Newman), so far as I am concerned, I only regret that he was ever born in Ireland. It is a great pity that we have such things produced in Ireland.
It is unquestionably distressful that we should have to witness one who claims that he was born there never ceasing in his attacks upon the land that had the misfortune to give him birth. I have listened to the suggestion made not by one speaker, but by all, that this antiquated rule which prohibits men from joining any secret society other than the Freemasons should be wiped out of existence. I am glad that that is now recognised. I agree that men should not belong to any secret society—Catholic, Protestant, or anything else—which, as the Chief Secretary said, should cross or interfere with the discharge of their public duties. But how is this to apply? Did the Chief Secretary interfere when the district inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary called meetings in Lurgan to invite constables, sergeants, and officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary to sign the covenant and to cooperate with the Unionist party in Ulster? That gentleman was not interfered with. When the district inspector of Lurgan called the meeting and when one of the constables in order to indicate the spirit of revolt was among them raised a flag over his own house, it nearly provoked a riot. It is a terrible objection to a man that he should be a member of an organisation of Catholics, but it is no objection when he signs the covenant or joins the Freemasons' organisation. There is no objection to their attending meetings in Merrion Hall, and there is no objection to attending Miss Price's parties once a week in order to report progress. Let me say to the Chief Secretary that so far as the Metropolitan Police are concerned he is quite right in saying that they are a perfectly loyal body of men and have not broken the rule. The hon. Member for Enfield is extremely anxious to know whether they will join the Hibernian Society. Time will tell. We must await developments. It will be quite time enough to answer that question later on.
This action of the Metropolitan Police has served more than one good purpose, because it has compelled hon. Gentlemen 514 above the Gangway to at once admit that the statements made regarding the Hibernian Society are absolutely false, and that this bogey of the Hibernian Society and the Hibernian oath, which was used all over the country for political purposes, is false. The hon. Gentleman now admits that the Masonic organisation is a perfectly secret society, from which Catholics are excluded by their religion. In the City of Dublin more than 80 per cent. of the people are Catholic, and in theDublin Metropolitan Police more than 80 per cent. of the men are Catholic. They are informed that they can join the Masonic organisation and have its influence to secure promotion, but that if they join a Catholic organisation, or the Hibernian Society, it is an entirely different thing. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is not a political society and is not a secret society. It is a society registered under the Friendly Societies Act, its books are open for inspection to every member of the society, its returns are made to the Registrar of Friendly Societies, it is approved under the Insurance Act as one of those societies which are to administer it. I can say here without fear of contradiction that there is no society in Great Britain that has been able to conduct its business better. We are told that because the men are alleged to have joined the Hibernian Association they have broken their oath. It would have been far better if there was less disposition shown to penalise the five or six men who are regarded with complete confidence by not 200, 300, or 500, but by the entire Metropolitan Police Force. It may suit the convenience of hon. Gentlemen to suggest the dismissal of 100, 200, or 500 men, but those who have any interest in the City of Dublin or in the country will recognise that there is a limit to human endurance, and that if there is to be any penalising of these men there will be more trouble than either the hon. Member for Enfield or the Chief Secretary himself imagine.
During the discussion reference was made to making responsible the person who is supposed to have seduced these constables. In all humility I may claim to be the person responsible for anything that has taken place. We Irish politicians do not enter politics for amusement or remunerative employment. We enter them knowing the risks and we never shirk from accepting the responsibilities and paying the 515 penalties whatever they may be. During the last two weeks in Dublin great efforts were made by the military authorities, and continual statements were made that I would soon be lifted under the Defence of the Realm Act. The right hon. Gentleman can apply that at any time he likes. For any action we take we shall be prepared to accept the responsibility. If it is the desire, as it should be the desire of everybody not only in this House, but connected with the Government of Ireland, to have peace, not only among the police force, but peace in the City of Dublin, it will not do to provoke disorder. No one is more anxious to prevent disorder in the Metropolitan Police Force than I am. I would, therefore, make this appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. There are too many victims already, and those responsible for the maintenance of discipline would do well to be a little more generous and a little more lenient when they recognise that these men are suffering under an intolerable grievance and burden, and that the whole crime with which they are charged is that of attending one meeting with regard to which a statement was published in the Press, and, when the arrangements were made for the meeting, instructions were issued that they should not attend a meeting that evening. That is the offence. The offence against the man who was dismissed was that he stood outside the steps of the hall, and met constables coming in in plain clothes, and when they are off duty it is understood they can go where they like, so long as they do not go outside the metropolitan area. That is a generally recognised principle. The only remark made in the charge-sheet was that he good-humouredly remarked to the officers who were standing outside, "Boys, we have got a guard of honour to-night." It was an awful crime. The Chief Secretary can penalise these men. He can have this man dismissed. It would be far better in the interests of good government, in the interests of the City and Metropolitan police, and in the interests of the peace of the city to be generous in this critical period whenever you are introducing a Bill which to some extent will remove some of the grievances under which the men suffer.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left but stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.516
§ Mr. BYRNE
I beg to move, at the end of the Sub-section, to add the words,save that in the case of married constables not higher in rank than sergeant the rates specified in the Second Schedule of this Act shall be increased by the sum of two shillings.Having regard to the house rents and food prices in Dublin, I do not think I am, asking too much for the married men of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. After all, since 1882, the Dublin Police have only received an increase of 2s. a week in their salary whilst the London Police have received an increase of 12s. The Dublin police are a Metropolitan body, and the London Police are also a Metropolitan body, and I claim that any advantage or concession given to the London Police should also be given to the Dublin Police.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am not familiar with this question. I may take it that the Amendment the hon. Member is now proposing is not covered by the one which was moved at the beginning of the proceedings.
§ Mr. BYRNE
The Royal Irish Constabulary is a county force, and the other is a Metropolitan force. The two Amendments are practically the same for the two different bodies, and that is one of the reasons why I think the Dublin Police, as a Metropolitan body, have a very good claim for consideration. The cost of living in Dublin is well known to be more than 2s. in advance of that in the country parts of Ireland. For that reason alone, I think the Chief Secretary should try to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. FIELD
Surely as such a large amount of money has been given to the police here in London and elsewhere, the Dublin Metropolitan Police are entitled to at least equal treatment. We are told there are equal laws in the three Kingdoms, and we belong to the United Kingdom, and what is good for England is good for Ireland. But when it comes to a question of pay or work or anything of a material character, there is a difference of treatment as between the two countries. I think this is a reasonable Amendment which ought to be immediately accepted by the Chief Secretary.
§ Mr. DUKE
I must point out what the position is. The married men of over eight years' service will now receive 34s. pay, 3s. lodging allowance, and 3s. 6d. war bonus—a total of 40s. 6d. I hope the 517 Amendment will not be pressed. If it were in my power to meet it, I feel so much impressed with the difference between the position of married men in London and the provinces that I should be glad to do it.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
May there not be a way out of the difficulty? The scheme, as I understand it, is that the Corporation of Dublin pays part of these men's wages. There is a limit put upon that by Act of Parliament. Why is there no Clause inserted in the Bill extending the limit? They, as well as the British taxpayer, might pay some part of this rise which I gather from all sides of the House is considered desirable. Surely the city gets the benefit of the valuable services which are being rendered by the force, and when there is a rise in wages they should pay some share of the increase, and there is no doubt Dublin is in no less prosperous a condition owing to the War than it was before.
§ Mr. BYRNE
The Dublin police rate is 8d. in the £l—the highest in the United Kingdom. The valuation of Dublin was increased only twelve months ago, and it brings in unasked to the British Treasury £180,000 a year. I do not think I am asking too much when I ask for 2s. for the policeman out of that £180,000 they are getting unasked.
§ Mr. FIELD
If it is in order to discuss the point that has been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman we can go into the figures. I think there is an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. Hazleton) dealing with this question. The hon. and learned Gentleman really does not understand the subject at all. He does not know what he is talking about. When an hon. Member does not know much about the subject it would be well for him not to talk.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I thought it was a most harmless suggestion when there is a certain amount of difficulty, and even some question of a point of Order whether such an Amendment as this could be raised. When the Chief Secretary thought it desirable that the thing should be done, and it could not be done out of the Treasury, I suggested that possibly the city which was. getting the benefit of the services 518 of these men would be in a position to contribute some small portion. If it is impossible, I should be the last person to press it.
§ Mr. FLAVIN
The hon. and learned Gentleman shows in the matter of the Metropolitan Police of Dublin the same amount of ignorance, if I might use the phrase, as he always shows in connection with the national sympathies of Ireland. He alleges, quite truly, that the ratepayers of Dublin are paying 8d. in the £1, but why does he not acknowledge at the same time that the ratepayers have no control over the force? It is a purely military force. Why should he ask the ratepayers of Dublin to increase a rate, which is already the very heaviest burden, for a body of men over whom they have no control in any shape or form? I should like to know from the Chief Secretary, when he talks about 3s. a week lodging money allowed to the married men, whether, in the course of his manœuvring in Ireland, he has made any inquiries as to what the actual lodging money paid by the married men is. I would ask him to place himself in the position of a married constable having a wife and five or six children to educate, clothe, and maintain. Five or six children in a family means at least two different sleeping apartments, and a kitchen. That means a rent at the very lowest estimate of 9s. a week, and of 9s. a week which they pay, the Government in their magnanimity allow them 3s. a week, so that in reality you have to make a deduction from the 40s. a week, which he says they are getting, of 6s. a week. The right hon. Gentleman is beginning his career in Ireland, and I hope he will begin it with a strong hand and a clean sheet. He has a long road to travel, and I hope he will travel it with character and determination.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.