I beg to move, "That the system of government at present maintained in Ireland is inconsistent with the principles for which the Allies are fighting in Europe, and has been mainly responsible for the recent unhappy events and for the present state of feeling in that country."
My object in raising this discussion this afternoon is to call the attention of Parliament and the attention of the country to the very serious situation which exists in Ireland at this moment. I propose to snake a general survey—not I hope at very great length—of that situation and of the causes which have led to it. This is certainly an occasion when the public interests can be served by plain speaking. It is a plain, undeniable fact that at this moment there is a situation in Ireland full of menace and of danger—full of menace to Ireland and to all our hopes and aspirations for her entire future; full of menace to that good understanding between the two peoples which has been the great result of the patient labours of the constitutional movement in Ireland for the last forty years, and, I think, full of menace also to the highest interests of the Empire at this moment. In describing such a situation, in endeavouring to explain it, and in offering any suggestions for its amelioration, I feel that one must tread with caution. My object is to allay and not to inflame feeling, to minimise and not to increase difficulties, and to show how, in my opinion, it is possible even yet to save the situation.
The crisis which has arisen in Ireland was of very slow and gradual growth; but I will only go back as far as the declaration of war. Were my purpose different from what it is, were my desire simply to make a political point in a party controversy, the temptation would, I think, be irresistible to go back far beyond the outbreak of war and to show where the 582 original responsibility lies for what has occurred. But I do not want to make a party speech. I will commence my survey at the outbreak of war. At that moment, fraught with the most terrible consequences to the whole Empire, this country found, for the first time in the history of the relations between Great Britain and Ireland, that the Irish Nationalist representatives, representing the overwhelming mass of the people of Ireland, were enabled to declare themselves upon the, side of the Allies, and in support of this country in the War. They did that with their eyes open. They knew the difficulties in their way. They knew, none so well, the distrust and suspicion of British good faith which had been in the past universal, almost, in Ireland. They recognised that the boon of self-government had not been finally granted to their country. They knew the traditional hostility which existed in many parts of Ireland to recruiting. Facing all these things, and all the risks that they entailed, they returned from this House to Ireland and told her sons that it was their duty to rally to the support of the Allies in a war which was in defence of the principles of freedom and civilisation. They succeeded far better than they had anticipated or hoped.
At the commencement—and this is a notorious fact—there was genuine enthusiasm in Ireland on the side of the Allies. I myself was a witness of that. I addressed great popular gatherings in every province in Ireland in support of the Allies. The whole atmosphere on the question of recruiting in Ireland had been altered, and I say here, solemnly, that all that was needed was a little sympathetic understanding on the part of the Government of this country to have created a practically united Ireland in support of the War. Surely the most elementary statesmanship would have dictated the wisdom and the policy of supporting and encouraging our efforts by every possible means at the disposal of the Government of this country. But instead of that, I am sorry to say that from the very first hour our efforts were thwarted, ignored, and snubbed. Our suggestions were derided. Everything, almost, that we asked for was refused, and everything, almost, that we protested against was done. Everything which tended to arouse Irish national pride and enthusiasm in connection with the War was rigorously suppressed. Under all the 583 circumstances of the case, looking back now, I am amazed at the success which at first attended our efforts. I am not today going to enter into any argument as to whether Ireland has or has not done all that she could. Of course, that topic may be raised and may be discussed later in the Debate or on some other occasion. All I will do now is to point to the fact that Ireland has at this moment 157,000 men in the Army, 95,000 Catholics and 62,000 Protestants, and that she has 10,000 men in the Navy—that is 167,000 men, including both—and that they are drawn—I speak not now of the proportions—from every part of Ireland—north, south, east, and west. But when we entered on this work our difficulties rapidly increased. The delay in putting the Home Rule Bill on the Statute Book was really of no advantage to any political party in this House. No party gained the smallest advantage by that delay. But in Ireland that delay gave every opponent of ours an opportunity of saying that we were about to be cheated and betrayed.
We offered at the very commencement of the War many thousands of Irish National Volunteers for Home defence to be put in the same position practically as the Territorials were at that moment in this country, but they would not be accepted, and there was no disguise—and this is the thing that did the harm in Ireland—made of the reason, the reason being that you could not bring yourselves to trust Nationalist Ireland. Since then I am glad to know that 30,000 of these Irish Nationalist Volunteers have entered the Army. Many of them have made the sacrifice of their lives on the field of battle, and very many of them have gained very high military distinction. But if your response at that time, at that critical moment, had been a generous and chivalrous response, if it had been a response of trust when we made that offer, I say that that number would easily have been trebled, and what was regarded as little short of an insult to Irish national feeling would have been avoided. To such extreme and absurd lengths did this distrust go that even a man like Lord Powerscourt, when he came here to London with an offer to raise for Home defence a battalion of a 1,000 men in his own county, was refused. We asked then for the creation of an Irish Army Corps, that all the Irish divisions and regiments 584 should be put together to form an Irish Army Corps. The Prime Minister will remember that in his speech in September last year in Dublin he promised that that request of ours would be acceded to. I am not making any attack upon him when I say that that promise has never been carried out, and we had to wait many weeks and months before the 16th Irish Division was called into being in the South of Ireland.
Day by day and hour by hour our difficult and uphill task of endeavouring to popularise the Army was systematically thwarted—in small things, perhaps, which singly would have been of no account, but which in their cumulative effect had a damning influence upon the work in which we were engaged. The Ulster Division properly—I was delighted when it occurred—were permitted to wear in their caps a special badge with the red hand of O'Neill. The Welsh Division—the present Minister of War took care of that—were allowed to have a special distinguished badge with the Dragon of Wales. When we asked for a special distinguishing Irish badge for our Irish Division in the South of Ireland it was refused. A committee of Irish ladies—if my recollection does not betray me, I think it was on the initiative of Lady Fingall—came together to embroider flags for the new Irish Division. The offer was accepted with gratitude by the General Commanding the Division, and subscriptions and committees were started all over the country, when suddenly, within a few days, a peremptory letter appeared in the papers saying that the War Office would not permit the acceptance of these flags. Officers Training Corps were established in Dublin University and in Belfast University. I think they existed in most of the Universities of this country. But when the new National University in Dublin asked for an Officers' Training Corps they were refused. When my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) raised three or four thousand troops in his constituency for the Irish Division, and when they were being brought to Cork, through Dublin, we asked that they should be allowed to march with military bands from one railway station to another. We asked it as a recruiting device in order to arouse military enthusiasm. No, it was refused, and these thousands of men who had come down from my hon. Friend's constituency were kept at Amiens Street station, cooped up in the 585 train for some hours, then they were brought round by the loop line to Kingsbridge and taken down in secret to Cork
Then when recruiting committees were established in Ireland, almost invariably in Nationalist districts, the Unionist registration agents were given charge of them. I wonder if my hon. Friend who sits below me, the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), will be annoyed if I tell a story with reference to him in this matter. The chief town in his constituency is the town of Swinford. I need not say what his position is in that constituency. The recruiting agent appointed was the Unionist agent, a highly respectable gentleman. I say nothing against him; but in that constituency, where the Unionists are but a handful, the Unionist registration agent was the person put in charge of the committee, and he decided to call a recruiting meeting in Swinford, and he wrote a letter to my hon. Friend which really was as good a joke as ever I heard. He wrote to him to say, "We are calling a meeting to be held in the town of Swinford and we invite your presence, and I can assure you that if you come you will be well received." Then at all these meetings Unionist speakers were selected. Bands were refused to the new battalions. Now I dare say that in pre-war times it was a regulation of the War Office that a band should be provided out of the private purses of the officers. That may be so for all I know. But here you were trying to create a New Army in a country where the first thing you had to do was to arouse some enthusiasm on the part of the people. The War Office refused to give anything at all towards bands, and I had myself to get up a subscription among some of my friends which enabled me to present a fife-and-drum band and an Irish war pipes band to every one of these new battalions.
When Sir Hedley Le Bas went to Ireland to endeavour to push on recruiting he stated in his report to the War Office, which I saw, that in some places—I will not mention them—in Dublin he was plainly told by members of the recruiting committee that they did not want too many Nationalist recruits, and it was only after a prolonged struggle that we got what was considered by the Catholic Hierarchy an adequate number of Catholic chaplain in either the Army or the Navy. Then there seemed to us—at any rate there seemed to the mass of the Irish 586 people whom we were trying to wean away from their old hostilities—to be on foot a systematic suppression of recognition of the gallantry of the Irish troops at the front. I do not think that there was any single incident that did more harm to our efforts at that time than the suppression in the official dispatches of all recognition, even of the names being mentioned, of the gallantry of the Dublin Fusiliers and the Munster Fusiliers in the landing at V Beach at Gallipoli. Then we asked that these new battalions should be trained in places where their very presence and appearance would help us in our work. That also was refused. In the whole province of Connaught not one single new battalion was trained. Galway is the headquarters, I think, of the Connaught Rangers. Several new battalions of the Connaught Rangers were raised, but not one of them was allowed to be trained within the confines of the province of Connaught, although there is at the present moment, outside Galway, an admirable training ground properly equipped with rifle ranges and everything else.
Then what about the officers? I do not want to go into the question of Nationalist or Catholic or Protestant, but it is a strange thing—and while such considerations do not influence me, you must realise how they were likely to influence the masses of people in Ireland—that up to the time that the 16th Division went to the front, with the exception of two or three subalterns, there was not a Catholic officer in the Division. That has been somewhat changed now I am glad to say, and some of these other things which I have mentioned have been changed, but too late. The mischief was done at the time when I was striving with all my might and main in this matter, and when I was entitled, in the circumstances, to all the support which the Government could give me. Let me give one more instance, and I will pass on. On the Tyneside in this country, owing largely to the generosity of Mr. Joseph Cowen, I think five battalions of Irishmen were raised. My hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) made a request that of those five battalions one at least might be trained in Ireland. Why? We wanted the spectacle seen in Ireland of an Irish battalion from England going to Ireland and marching through the streets of Dublin and 587 being trained there as an example and stimulus to the rest of Ireland. It was said, first, that it would be hard on the battalions, because the men were very often billeted in their own homes, and that it would be a loss to them. But these battalions asked to go, but it was said, No, they would not be allowed.
Taking any one of these things singly, you may say they seem contemptible and small, but the cumulative effect was enormous, and they took all the heart out of the efforts which were being made. Day by day the undoubted enthusiasm at the commencement of the War began to die down. Day by day our enemies were instilling into the minds of the people that we were just as much distrusted by England as ever, and that in the end we would be cheated and betrayed. Then, what I may call the final blow came in the creation of the Coalition Government. I tell the Prime Minister that, from the day the Coalition was formed, recruiting for the Army in Ireland declined rapidly. From the day the Coalition was formed, recruiting for the revolutionary, anti-recruiting, Sinn Fein party rapidly increased. An eminent Prelate once declared that, in his opinion, Home Rule was dead and buried. Distrust and suspicion spread all over the country, and the spectacle—explain it how we would to the people of Ireland—of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University being given a seat in the Cabinet as chief Law Officer meant, to the minds of these people—I am speaking of the impression created in Ireland—meant, in the minds of large masses of the people, that in the end they would be betrayed. The offer that was made to me to join the Cabinet of course deceived nobody. Everyone knew that I would not and could not accept it. Everyone noted this further fact that, while representatives of the small Unionist party in Ireland were put in this Coalition Government, into the Executive of Ireland, the offer made to me, who represented the majority of the Irish people, was not an office in the Government of my own country at all, but some unnamed English office. I begged the Prime Minister at the time to leave Ireland out of the Coalition. He refused, and the result in Ireland was fatal.
I did not, however, in consequence of this, even then relax my efforts, but, from that day to this, things have gone from bad to worse. Suspicion and distrust have 588 spread rapidly, and finally came the rising in the City of Dublin last Easter. At first, that rising was resented universally by all classes of the people of Ireland. It seemed so causeless, so reckless, so wicked, and I am to-day profoundly convinced of this, that if that rising had been dealt with in the spirit in which General Botha dealt with the rising in South Africa, it probably would have been the means, strange though it may sound to hear it, of saving the whole situation. But, unfortunately, it was dealt with by panicky violence. Executions, spread out day after day, and week after week—some of them young boys of whom none of us had never even heard, and who turned out to have been young dreamers and idealists—shocked and revolted the public mind of Ireland. There were only some fifteen hundred men, according to my information, who took part in that rising, and yet the military authorities scoured the entire country, and arrested thousands—we heard the number of thousands to-day at Question Time—of perfectly innocent men and young boys, and spread terror and indignation all through the land. I know myself personally of perfectly peaceful villagers, where the Sinn Feiners have never been heard of, who were raided, in some cases in the dead of night, and in some cases, to my knowledge, against the advice of the local police officer, and young boys were dragged off to Dublin only to be returned a couple of days afterwards when it was found there was nothing against them. By that proceeding terror and indignation were spread throughout the country, and popular sympathy, which was entirely against the rising on its merits, and against the rising when it took place, rapidly and completely turned round.
All this was a terrible and fatal blunder. How different was the action of General Botha. Do you ever reflect how this South African case is relevant to the case of Ireland? You made peace with General Botha, in spite of profound distrust, in spite of bitter and powerful opposition. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman sealed that peace with freedom. If he had not done so where would South Africa be to-day? He trusted General Botha, and South Africa had been, at the time war broke out, in the enjoyment of free institutions for ten or twelve, or more, years; and in spite of that, and in spite of your trust in General Botha, and in spite of the fact that they had the experience of the 589 working for several years of self-government, General Botha was faced, after war broke out, with a rebellion, just as we were in Ireland. And yet poor Ireland was denounced because a couple of thousand foolish men attempted this mad rising—Ireland which had not been trusted, which had not had ten years' experience of free institutions; Ireland, which had not yet tasted the first fruits of the peace which she had been only too glad and proud to make with the people of this country.
Is the situation hopeless? Is it too late to repair the mischief? Will you trust Ireland even now? When the Prime Minister returned to this country from Ireland, after the suppression of the rising, he solemnly told his colleagues and the House of Commons that the system of government in Ireland had hopelessly broken down, and, as he told us, his colleagues unanimously asked the present Minister for War to endeavour to bring about a settlement by agreement. After many conversations, he put before us a certain set of proposals, and asked us to go back and submit them to our followers in Ireland. We had the assurance that these proposals were accepted by him. We had more. We had the assurance that they were accepted by the Prime Minister, and if we had had the remotest idea that these two right hon. Gentlemen were not prepared to stand by these proposals, do you think we would have been such fools as to go with them in our hands for the acceptance of our followers in Ireland? We had this assurance, we went, and, in the teeth of enormous difficulties, we got our people to agree to most unpopular proposals. We then came back here, and found that these proposals were thrown over by the Cabinet; and the answer that you have given to Ireland, if she were trusted even now, is that you have again set on its legs this system of government which the Prime Minister told us had hopelessly failed. You have set up Dublin Castle, and you have gut into it not merely a Coalition Government, but a Unionist Government—a Unionist Chief Secretary and a Unionist Attorney-General—the two men who practically conduct the whole of the government of Ireland. We have it on the statement of the Prime Minister himself that the Viceroy has no power, and we know it. The men responsible for the government of Ireland are these two Unionist gentlemen.
590 And what is the system of government they are administering? They are administering a system of universal martial law all over the country. I am here this afternoon to ask the Government what do they propose? The new Chief Secretary went to Ireland to attempt to find a solution. Has he found one? What does he propose? Is it seriously proposed to maintain the present system to perpetuate martial law, to keep a Unionist executive in office, to keep hundreds of unaccused and untried prisoners in prison? I think we are entitled to demand from the Government a statement of their policy. To me, personally, one of the saddest things in the present situation is the danger which in spite of anything I can do, there is that the Irish regiments at the front may not be kept up to their full strength. Personally I would do anything possible to avert that catastrophe. But it is no use you asking me to do the impossible. These gallant men have an irresistible claim on their fellow countrymen. No one can accuse my colleagues or myself of any desire to evade that claim. Several of my colleagues are themselves in the Army. One of my colleagues who joined the Army at the commencement of the War died in the Service very soon after. An ex-colleague of ours, a brilliant young Irishman, Professor Kettle, died the other day on the Somme. At least twenty Irish Nationalist Members have sons in the Army. One of my hon. Friends here has four sons in the Army. Two of my colleagues in this party have had their sons killed in this War. There are very few of us on these benches who have not some near and dear relatives taking all the risks side by side with you.
What I feel about these Irish soldiers is this: I feel that by their gallant deeds they have already won a new place for Ireland before the world, a new place in the policy and councils of the Empire. My conviction is that it is for Ireland in her own interests to keep that place, and it is for the Empire in the Empire's interests to enable her and to help her to keep it. How? By removing once and for all all this fog of bad faith and bad management, and by settling Ireland on a basis of freedom and responsibility. I put on one side for the moment the question of Conscription in Ireland. All I will say of that, at this stage—we may have to speak about it later on—is that it would be not a remedy but an aggravation, and I cannot bring myself to believe that any man 591 responsible for the government of Ireland, either in the civil or in the military sphere would, at this moment, recommend it. What, then, you say, can nothing be done? I will state what in my opinion can be done—done, first of all, by the authorities I am speaking of. I will refer to the responsibility of the Government later on. From the first it seemed to us in Ireland as if there had been a distinct desire to deplete the 16th Division. Drafts have been sent to my personal knowledge from the 16th Division since they went to the front to English Divisions. Three hundred men of one of our reserve regiments in Ireland were the other day put into kilts and sent to a Highland regiment. A similar draft was only the other day sent from another of our reserve regiments to an English regiment. My hon. Friend the Member for Galway had a question about the 10th Dublins.
Let the House bear with me for a moment while I tell them something about the history of the 10th Dublins. At the commencement of the War a battalion called the "Pals Battalion" of the Dublin Fusiliers was raised in the City of Dublin. It was composed of young university men, athletes, and young professional men, and so on, who went in their hundreds and enlisted as privates in this regiment. They went out to Gallipoli, and in two days 75 per cent. of that gallant regiment was destroyed. One would think that would have damped the ardour of the City of Dublin. Not at all. The men in the City of Dublin thought the best monument they could raise to their sons who had died so gallantly in Gallipoli was to raise a new "Pals Battalion," and so they raised the 10th Dublins, one of the finest battalions ever raised in Ireland. I met them two months ago, by chance, at Holyhead; I was on the platform when the ships came sailing in, with Irish war pipes playing Irish national airs. I saw them filing down; they marched past me almost all carrying a little green flag on their bayonets. They recognised me and greeted me warmly, and I said to them, "Well, you are going to the front. I am sure you will maintain the traditions of your gallant Irish regiment." Yes, but where did they go? What right has the War Office to reproach us with not keeping up the Irish Divisions when they send a battalion like that, not to an Irish Division, but to a new Division called the Naval Division, made up, I suppose, of Marines. I de- 592 mand, as a right, when we are told we are not keeping up our 16th Division, that that magnificent battalion, which was raised for the purpose of doing honour to the Irish Army at the front, should go to the 16th Division.
Let me say something more that the authorities can do. One of the most encouraging things that I have heard about the War is the large proportion of the casualties which are slight wounds, so that the men in a month, perhaps more or less, are able to return. My information is, so far as the 16th Division is concerned, that hundreds and hundreds of these wounded men from the ranks sent to the base hospital at Boulogne or elsewhere, on recovery, are sent, not to the 16th Division, but to English Divisions. So long as these things happen, what a mockery it is to us to reproach us with not keeping up our Division ! Then I complain of the persistent refusal, notwithstanding Army Orders I see published in the newspapers, of recruiting officers in Great Britain to send Irish recruits to the Irish regiments to which they desire to go to. Men ask to be sent to Irish regiments and are put, against their will, into English and Scottish regiments. I was talking today to an officer who called my attention to the fact that there are twenty times more Irishmen in English, Scottish and Welsh battalions in the Army than there are Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen in Irish regiments. Why persisently refuse to transfer these men? I have had scores on scores of letters from these Irishmen in British battalions asking me to get them transferred to the Connaught Bangers or the Dublins. I have never succeeded in a single case in getting them transferred. Why should they not be allowed to do it? Why should not any man who chooses be allowed to volunteer to go from the Gordon Highlanders or the Seaforth Highlanders to join the Connaught Regiment?
I pass from individual men to the battalions. There are many, very many, entirely Irish battalions raised in this country. I spoke a moment ago of the five Tyneside battalions. In all nearly 100,000 Irishmen have joined the Colours in Lancashire. There are in Liverpool battalions called the Liverpool Irish. Why not allow one or two of these battalions to join the 16th Division? Let me take a case in point. There is a gallant regiment here in London called the London Irish. I remember at the commencement of the War, when a notice appeared in the "Gazette," 593 leaving out the word "Irish." When I questioned the War Office about it in this House I was told that they had no such right to be called the London Irish as the London Scottish had to be called the London Scottish, as they had no records; they were a new battalion. When I enlightened the ignorance of the War Office by showing them the records of this battalion, going back for nearly 100 years and containing the names of most distinguished soldiers, then an assurance was given me that once again they would be allowed to call themselves the London Irish. You know what the London Irish have done in the War; they are the regiment who captured Loos, who dribbled a football in front of them. You know what they did on that occasion and on others. Now the London Scottish have been attached to the Gordon Highlanders. Why will you not allow the London Irish to be attached to the 16th Division? Is not that a reasonable request? But no, that request has been refused, and they have been attached to the Rifle Brigade. I say if the London Scottish have a right to be attached to the Gordon Highlanders, the London Irish have a right if they choose—and they are anxious for it—to be attached to the 16th Division. In these ways the authorities may do a great deal—a very great deal indeed—to help us in this matter of the Irish Division.
But I recognise fully—I would not be honest if I did not say so plainly—that these expedients cannot fully meet the case. The case can only be met by boldly grappling with the situation in Ireland itself. So long as the present state of government exists in Ireland, so long will the present excited and irritating national public feeling exist there, and so long as that feeling exists, everything will be wrong. So long as the Irish people feel that England, fighting for the small nationalities of Europe, is maintaining by martial law a State Unionist Government against the will of the people in Ireland, so long no real improvement can be hoped for. Let the Government withdraw martial law, let them put in command of the forces in Ireland some man who has not been connected with the unhappy actions of the past. Let the administration of the Defence of the Realm Act be as stringent as you like, but let it be animated by the same spirit and carried into effect by the same machinery as takes place in Great Britain. Let the 500 untried prisoners be released, let the penal servitude prisoners 594 be treated as political prisoners, and, above all, and incomparably more important than all, let the Government take their courage in both hands and trust the Irish people once and for all, by putting the Home Rule Act into operation and resolutely, on their own responsibility, facing any problems that that may entail.
One hon. Gentleman who has notice of an Amendment to my Motion on the Paper speaks of this as a matter of purely domestic controversy. But this is not a matter, if I may respectfully say so to him, which concerns only Ireland and Great Britain. It concerns the highest interests of the Empire and of the War. I have myself intimate personal knowledge of how injuriously the Irish situation is affecting the interests of England and the best interests of victory for England all through the Continent of America. It is having, as the Government themselves well know—and there is not a man who does not know it—the same effect in the Dominions, and especially is it having its effect in Australia. As one who has honestly done his best, and who is prepared to continue honestly doing his best, no matter what the risk to his popularity or his influence, to help you to win this War I do beg of the Government to hearken seriously to my warning and my advice.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. Duke)
I should not do justice to my own appreciation of the part which the hon and learned Member for Waterford has taken in regard to the prosecution of the War from the day war was declared until this day, and of his speech, if I did not recognise underlying his speech the profound desire which I am sure he feels that Ireland should play a part worthy of the highest instincts of her countrymen in this great struggle in which Great Britain with her Allies is engaged. The hon. Member at the outset of the War pledged himself to its prosecution. It has become a war of existence, and it seems to me that the real question with which the House is confronted now, and the real question with which Ireland is confronted now, is whether, when Britain is fighting a war of existence, Ireland, because of passing resentments or of ancient ambitions, or of unfulfilled hopes, shall stand aside from rendering the fullest part she can render in attaining the common objects of all the loyal subjects of the Crown. Running 595 through the hon. Member's speech, there was a note which was struck yesterday morning. I am sure he will forgive me if I allude to it. When I arrived from Ireland yesterday morning the first thing of which I became aware was the noble letter of one of the hon. Member's nearest relatives, which dismissed from view historic difficulties, recent disappointments and rooted bitterness, and appealed to Irishmen wherever they are to play their part in this testing time. I found in many passages' of the hon. Member's speech the same spirit that I found, and which I am sure every colleague of the hon. Member for Clare (Major W. Redmond) found with admiration and delight in the letter to which I have referred.
I propose to make some reply to the criticisms of the hon. and learned Member. I propose to do what I think the hon. and learned Member did not to such an extent as might have been expected—refer to the specific terms of the Resolution which the House is asked to adopt. That Resolution has no relation to ineptitude in recruiting, to stupidities or alleged stupidities in administration, or even to the passing existence of a particular form of administration. It is based upon the system of government which exists in Ireland. What it says with regard to British government in Ireland is that it is inconsistent with the principles for which the Allies are fighting, and declares it to have been mainly responsible for the recent unhappy events. I should think that since the parable of the wolf and the lamb there never has been a charge which, on the face of it, was more conspicuously groundless than the charge that His Majesty's Government and the system of administration maintained in Ireland under our present constitution was the cause of the Sinn Fein rebellion. The Resolution goes on to attribute to the system of government the present state of feeling in Ireland. I propose presently to deal with those matters. But I want, in the first place, to refer to the specific complaints which the hon. and learned Member has made. I confess that as to many of them with regard to the methods of recruiting, the distribution of reinforcements, and matters of that kind, they are things which I heard, and I am afraid I must Bay which I learnt with pain and regret 596 to be real causes of dissatisfaction in Ireland. I will only say more with regard to them that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War is a man who, if any man in this House deserves the qualification, is jealous of the rights of small nationalities, a man who is sensitive to the claims of minorities, and I think I need not dwell for any length of time upon those grounds of criticism which depend upon mistakes in recruiting policy, mismanagement in military administration, or matters of that kind. They are capable of rectification. But the hon. and learned Member told us in the course of his speech that these are not a sufficient explanation of the failure of Ireland to do all she could do in maintaining the Irish Divisions at the strength at which it is necessary they should be maintained in the field.
I did not say anything about the failure of Ireland. I said that really these things were only small expedients, and that the remedy of the situation had to go to something much more radical. I never spoke about the failure of Ireland.
§ Mr. DUKE
I withdraw the expression. What I was referring to was the fact of the absence of a sufficient body of recruits to keep the Irish Divisions in the field at a strength sufficient to make them an effective representation of the Irish contribution to this War. I gathered from his speech that the hon. and learned Member did not find in these mistakes any sufficient explanation of that state of things. At any rate, I cannot conceive that the House will find in administrative mistakes a sufficient explanation of the matters to which I have referred. The hon. Member came nearer to the Motion when he dealt with the constitution of the present administration in Ireland. The constitution of the present administration in Ireland is no more than an accident of the system of government as it at present exists under the law, and it is by no means an accident of the character described in the hon. and learned Member's speech, and of which we have heard a great deal in criticism outside the House. It is said that the administration in Ireland 597 at the present time is an Unionist administration. That was said with the greatest distinctness and the greatest positiveness by the hon. and learned Member. Let us consider that proposition. Is the Lord Lieutenant a Unionist? [HON. MEMBERS: "No !" and "What power has he?"] We are told that the Lord Lieutenant is no Unionist. That he is a figurehead in the administration I deny. The Lord Lieutenant is able to take, and is warranted in taking, an active interest in the process of administration, and is entitled to be heard upon questions of administration which arise from day to day. The constitutional responsibility for the administration rests upon His Majesty's Government and upon that member of it particularly who happens to be Chief Secretary for Ireland. Is it supposed that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland is a Unionist? Everybody knows that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland is a distinguished member of the legal profession who was for a considerable period Attorney-General under a Liberal Administration. Having been in frequent consultation with the Lord Chancellor, I have the advantage of knowing that he has not, at any rate, departed from his beliefs with regard to those matters, beliefs which were well known at the time he was in frequent communication with hon. Members below the Gangway.
I have never had any communication, direct or indirect, with the Lord Chancellor since his appointment.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DUKE
I have dealt with two members of the Administration who are able, from day to day, to interest themselves in the government of Ireland. About the Chief Secretary I will say a word presently. With regard to the Attorney-General, he is an Irishman who is very familiar with the problems of Irish administration. But he is undoubtedly an avowed and declared Unionist, and in that respect such a representative of the Unionist party as might be expected to be found in a Coalition Administration when it is extended to every part of the affairs of this United Kingdom. No com- 598 plaint is made of the presence of the Unionist Attorney-General for England; no complaint is made of the presence of the Liberal Lord Advocate for Scotland; and I have great difficulty in seeing why my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General for Ireland should be singled out for attack in the case of Ireland. My right hon. Friend has as his colleague in Ireland a distinguished member of the Nationalist party. The Solicitor-General is a distinguished lawyer of undoubted National views. I can speak with intimate knowledge of his views upon many of these matters. I have the advantage of his advice many times when I am engaged in my work in Dublin. I suggest that it is a travesty to describe the present administration of Ireland as a Unionist Administration which does violence to the principle of the Coalition Administration. The real complaint in this matter is against the Coalition Administration. I do not defend my own place in the Administration. All I want hon. Members to bear in mind, with regard to my presence as a Unionist in that Administration, is that my last public act before I was offered the office of Chief Secretary was to declare to my constituents that I regarded it as an essential matter, in the interests of Great Britain, of Ireland, and of the Empire, that an amicable end should be made to the controversies which have divided Irishmen from Englishmen in regard to the question of Home Rule. If to hold that view is to be a Unionist and incapable of rendering any service in Irish administration, then, while I hope this Resolution will not be passed, because I regard it as full of practical untruths in point of fact, the difficulty in respect to the Chief Secretary could be easily remedied. I want to say a word in regard to the true position of Ireland in respect of British administration. Nothing in the speech of the hon. Member has been said as to the present position of Ireland. We are told that the treatment of Ireland by this country contradicts those principles upon which the war is being waged by the Allied Powers. That would seem to raise the inquiry as to whether there is something in common between the treatment of Ireland by England and the treatment of Belgium and Serbia by those who were the aggressors in this War. What is the position of Ireland at the present time? [An HON. MEMBER: "That of Serbia!"] Her 599 greatest industry is more prosperous than it has ever been. She is immune from a great part of the griefs of the War which fall upon the people of this country. No man can be present in Ireland for a week without realising how different is the atmosphere there in regard to the War from the atmosphere in England. The War is a distant thing in Ireland. Ireland is protected from the practical perils of being made a field of warfare by the common enemy by the vigilance of the British Fleet, and by the presence of British Forces. In that state of the case this House has refrained from demanding from the manhood of Ireland the degree of sacrifice which it has not refrained from putting upon the men of Great Britain. These things cannot be put out of mind. You cannot dismiss all these great matters or put them out of the mind when you are trying to form a just judgment upon the treatment of Ireland by Great Britain. In regard to the first declaration of this Resolution, that the system of government in Ireland in all its main essentials is inconsistent with the principles for which the Allies are fighting, I ask that it shall be renounced by every man who is capable of forming a fair judgment of the position of Ireland at the present time towards the United Kingdom.
The responsibility for the Sinn Fein rising is laid, as I said, by the hon. Member at the door of the Government. I think the true character of the Sinn Fein rising, and the great extent to which it has pervaded and poisoned the social life of Ireland during the whole period since it occurred, and the extent to which it still continues to pervade and to poison the life of Ireland, is misunderstood. It does not truly represent the state of the case to describe the rising as an affair of some few hundreds of men who might have been treated as negligible factors. The true case is that for many months, probably for a good part of two years—certainly for more than a year before the rising—those who ultimately gave the signal of revolt had been organising throughout all the counties of Ireland a conspiracy of rebellion which it was intended to carry into effect with German aid. At Easter of this year, those throughout Ireland who unfortunately had become involved in that conspiracy were on the alert. Where they had arms they stood to arms. Whether they had arms or not, they awaited orders. And with that con- 600 dition of things in Ireland centralised in Dublin, kept in practical effect by the activities of the men who had devoted themselves with amazing perseverance during the long period before the rebellion, centred upon Dublin but pervading the country, there was that state of peril to the United Kingdom and the cause of the Allies. What was awiated was the successful landing on the West Coast of Ireland of arms sufficient for the better part of two divisions of Infantry. Fortunately those arms, instead of being landed, went to the bottom of the sea.
I am not speaking in these matters as casting any reproach upon the body of people in Ireland. It would not be true to do anything of the kind. The great body of people in Ireland were indignant at the action which was taken in Easter week. But they could not prevent it, and did not prevent it, and one of the difficulties which you find existing now is that the men who had not arms, and the men who were not arrested, still in one part of the country or another retain their old views, and are a menace to the public security so long as they retain those views, and so long as they persevere in the determination, if they can, to defeat all the hopes of the hon. Member for Waterford; to defeat all the hopes of their countrymen who love constitutional methods and who believe in constitutional progress, and to embark again in some hopeless and bloody adventure such as that of Easter week. It is not a just view of the case to regard the happenings in Dublin in Easter week as though they were local happenings. It is because they were not local in extent, because they were rooted amongst foolish, desperate, and criminal people in various parts of the country, that it is impossible for His Majesty's Government at the present time to accept quite literally the easy prescriptions of the hon. Member for Waterford. It is impossible. When a man is ill of fever, you do not give him a spoonful of water to cure him. You deal with real remedies. In regard to the events of the rebellion and subsequent events, I want to make a few connected remarks showing what the Government has done, why it was necessary; what the Government is now doing, and why it is necessary that it should be done. There was an armed rebellion. There was a readiness to accept foreign assistance, if it could be had. There was the necessity for the 601 presence in Ireland of divisions of troops. There was the necessity for arrest. It is said that the Government should have declared an amnesty instead of bringing prisoners to trial. Is it realised that in that fighting in Dublin between 500 and 600 innocent. law-abiding subjects of the Crown lost their lives, or suffered grave injuries?
§ Mr. DUKE
Is that a thing which can be passed by? Which can be allowed to go into oblivion with nothing more than an Act of Indemnity? I think the judgment of His Majesty's subjects at large is that that could not be done. When this matter was discussed in the House three days after the outbreak of the rebellion the hon. and learned Member for Waterford himself passed judgment on the criminal conduct of the men who were leaders and participants in the rebellion. He said this:Perhaps I ought to give expression, on behalf of all my colleagues, and, as I believe, the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland, of the feeling of detestation and horror with which we have regarded these proceedings.That view is not receded from by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. Given a rebellion of the deliberate character and general menace which characterised that rebellion, taken in conjunction with the fact that you have considerable numbers of persons still ready to persevere in acts of the kind if they get the opportunity, I ask is an amnesty the treatment for that state of things? The hon. Member for Waterford referred to the effects of constitutional change, of constitutional methods of reform, and of the Home Rule Bill. These men were more deadly enemies of the hon. Member and of the Home Rule Bill than they were of the British Parliament. No man in Ireland, no man in this country, is more exposed to the hostility of the men who organised the rebellion and who took part in it and encouraged it, than is the hon. Member for Waterford. When you have that state of things, can you sanely and reasonably contemplate amnesty and indemnity as effective treatment for the safeguarding of the public peace, and for giving security to the King's subjects of all classes in Ireland? In my view of the matter it is impossible that that view should be taken. What happened? There were arrests. There were trials.
§ Mr. DUKE
There were fifteen executions upon sentences of courts-martial. There were a very much greater number of reprieves and diminutions of sentences. There were a certain number of sentences of penal servitude. What remained waste deal with the multitude of people who had been active participants in the rebellion, or who were reasonably suspected of complicity in it; but who were not, so far as is known, ringleaders, or whose part was of a minor order. What was done was this: There were 3,000 people who were suspected of that kind of complicity in the rebellion. I think five hundred and sixty have remained in internment down to the present time. They are of the class of people who had an intelligent appreciation of what was going on, people who gave orders which led to the presence of men on the countryside—men in military array waiting for arms—even people who organised attacks on police stations, in some cases attacks which had either fatal results or results producing serious injury. They were men whom it was not thought necessary to bring to trial. Do hon. Members desire that there should be five hundred and sixty trials for treason, and that the consequences should follow of sentence in these cases in which there is very clear evidence in regard to very large proportions of these people that they were actively and seriously engaged in the direction of the operations of the rebellion? His Majesty's Government has not thought that that was necessary, and thinks now it is unnecessary. If you are not to bring them to trial and have them sentenced for treason or other acts of violence, are you to send them back to a countryside which has not yet completely settled down after the rebellion? In the greater part of Ireland the police, no doubt, could watch over these people with a reasonable degree of security, but they could not keep them there. In the counties of Ireland in which there was the greatest peril from the rebellion, in which there were the greatest facilities for action hostile to this country, the largest numbers of these men would be found.
When the House was discussing this matter in August, I said that if there were any of these men who made application for release, and for whom reasonable security could be found as to their future good behaviour, their application for release would be entertained. There were very 603 few cases in which those applications were made. They have been more frequent lately, but, in every case where the application has been made, the case has been closely examined, and in a considerable number of cases arrangements have been made, or are being made at the present time for the release of men whose release is consistent with public safety. That is the position with regard to those interned men, and, in my judgment, after examining great numbers of the cases, the time has not come when they could be indiscriminately turned loose on the countryside in the West of Ireland with any reasonable expectation that their presence there would be consistent with public safety.
The hon. Member made some recommendations to which I want further to refer. He spoke of the abolition of martial law. What is to be the state of things in the districts to which I have referred, where men who were a party to the rebellion in the Easter week are still present and still unconvinced by all the arguments of the constitutional party of the wickedness and the hopelessness of their proposals? What is to be done to protect the community? Two provisions exist in Ireland with regard to the maintenance of public order at the present time. The first is the Proclamation of martial law which was made by the Lord Lieutenant. The second set of provisions is that under the Defence of the Realm Act, with the necessary means under the Amending Acts, which permit of the trial, in case of necessity, of offenders by courts-martial. During the past three months I have not heard a complaint that anybody in Ireland has been made a victim of cither of these provisions under which the peace of Ireland at the present time is maintained. As to the Proclamation, it is a Proclamation under which General Maxwell took most useful and wholesome action in the early part of his presence in Ireland—action, I mean, with regard to restraint of the threat of misconduct and the threat of disturbance at the instance of the class of persons to whom I have referred.
As to the Defence of the Realm Act, would the hon. Member for Waterford think it was a reasonable thing that in every case where there is the attempt to organise disloyal proceedings, seditious agitation, treaonable or semi-treasonable 604 action, those who are responsible for order should be under the necessity of going to a local bench of magistrates and taking their view as to whether the particular facts which alone could be brought to their notice were of such a nature as to necessitate the restraint of dangerous individuals? I cannot conceive that the Member for Waterford could take that view. If you are not to take that view as the law stands at present, you have no alternative but to maintain the means you have by court-martial, not so much for bringing men of that class to speedy trial, but of preventing the necessity of bringing them to trial. Of course, throughout the districts where there is danger, there is a wholesome apprehension of the possible effects of infringement of either the Proclamations or of disobedience to orders such as those which have been necessary, but if the hon. Member for Waterford were to tell His Majesty's Government that he is ready to concur in steps by which dangerous persons could be brought promptly to trial before a tribunal which could deal systematically with that matter, but which would be a civil tribunal, that is a matter which might advance us a good way on the road of being able to dispense with anything in the nature of martial law or with recourse to any of the powers of the Proclamation.
I asked the right hon. Gentleman for the withdrawal of martial law, and I asked at the same time that the Defence of the Realm Act should be administered in the same spirit in Ireland as it is administered in Great Britain. That was my demand.
§ Mr. DUKE
Administration in one country in the spirit in which there is administration in another country is a little vague. If what the hon. Member is willing for is that in Ireland the Defence of the Realm Act Regulations shall be relied on, and that the necessary powers shall exist for bringing offenders against those Regulations to some civil trial, that is a reasonable alternative to the present mode of trial. But there can be no doubt, I think, in the mind of any man who knows the condition of the West and South-West of Ireland at the present time, that some restraint of those who were parties to, or sympathisers in, the recent rebellion, and who have not yet abandoned their foolish ambitions, should be put upon them, and, 605 if there is no alternative to existing restraints, then it would be the business of His Majesty's Government to maintain the application of the remedy until the malady has disappeared. The hon. Gentleman referred to the state of feeling in Ireland. He referred to the disappointment and dissatisfaction which resulted from, first of all, the postponement of the introduction of Home Rule by the events of the War, and, secondly, the failure of the attempts which were made in the summer of this year to secure a working arrangement by which Home Rule could be brought into present operation. I wish the hon. Member for Waterford would take part in satisfying his countrymen that, at any rate, there was in the summer of this year an honest attempt on the part of statesmen in this country to produce a solution of the Home Rule difficulties, notwithstanding the obstacles which were in the way by reason of the War.
§ Mr. DUKE
I will tell the hon. Member the kind of statement of the truth, as he calls it, which is being made, and is being circulated in Ireland at the present time. When the hon. Member refers to feeling in Ireland, I think he will see that it is not without some provocation from those who ought to be rather themselves persons to restrain any extreme feeling rather than to provoke it. Here is an extract from a speech which was made in Kilkenny as recently as the 14th of this month by a Member of this House, the hon. Member for North Kilkenny. Hon. Members seem not to attach much consequence, but it was reported verbatim in the Press and circulated widely in that part of Ireland. This was what was said by a Member of this House, a follower of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, on this subject:I believe myself that the present and past Cabinet of England is composed of the damnedest political tricksters that ever cursed a nation, and I believe, as it is at present, that there was never a greater pack of political tricksters on the face of the earth. They hate Ireland—if they could afford it. Take Easter week, and see the most abominable week of shootings and brutal murders of the best men that Ireland ever produced.Men who were the authors of the rebellion have been denounced in this House as being guilty of a detestable crime, but if behind that denunciation you get proclaimed from Irish platforms by Irish Members of Parliament that those men were murdered, that they were the best 606 men Ireland ever produced, and if you get proclaimed at the same time that the statesmen of Great Britain are a race of tricksters, that they have swindled and cheated Ireland, you have not far to seek for a cause of ill-feeling in Ireland, quite apart from any legitimate disappointment at the failure of the efforts of those who had devoted so many years to the promotion of Home Rule.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Was not language much stronger than that used by the present members of the Coalition about each other only a few months past?
§ Mr. DUKE
I do not think it existed. At any rate, no such language was used during a state of war to provoke exasperation against the Government of the country and to make the political situation impossible. I do not cite that speech in order to cast any reflection upon the general body of Nationalist Members, but I cite it as an illustration of the kind of thing which goes on at a time when it is said there is a tyranny in Ireland which represses not only reasonable action, but liberty of speech and every other good thing which free men desire. Obviously nothing of the kind exists in Ireland. That speech was made, and the newspaper was not proceeded against, neither was the speaker. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford asked what is to be done, and he said, "Give Ireland the measure of Home Rule which she has so long desired." I should like to say a word about the disappointment which Nationalists in Ireland suffered at the frustration of their efforts for the establishment of Home Rule. I think there would have been a parallel case in this country if, in the year 1832, when the Crown had overruled and overborne the opposition of the House of Lords, when you had come to the Third Reading of the Reform Bill, some unforeseen cause, be it what it may, had interposed between the determination and the desire of the great majority of the people of this country and the realisation of their aims, and if that frustration and postponement took place under circumstances which gave rise to controversy, such as exists in Ireland to-day. For myself, I think that would have produced a lamentable state of discord and confusion in this country.
607 It does not strike me with any surprise that men who had for thirty-five years devoted themselves to the advocacy of a constitutional change should express disappointment and disgust when their expectations failed; but that does not advance them far upon the road to the Home Rule which hon. Members desire. What was the obstacle to Home Rule in July of this year? It was that Irishmen were not agreed about Home Rule. It was not that the British Parliament was not ready to to concede Home Rule. The British Parliament was ready, so far as I could judge the position of affairs, to have conceded any measure upon which Irishmen were agreed. Is the system of government, and His Majesty's present Administration to be held up to odium in the country, in the Empire, and before its Allies, because of that failure? The censure is unjust and the reproach is not deserved. The failure was at home in Ireland, and it is there to-day. Last July there were sacrifices in many quarters between the leaders of the Irish party, and there was a great effort on the part of British statesmen, who turned aside from an even greater task to see if they could snatch a success in the settlement of Irish affairs; but in spite of those efforts there was failure, because upon one proposition Irishmen were not agreed. When you come to test public opinion in Ireland, there are almost as many minds as there are men at the present time upon the question of Home Rule and upon the mode of applying Home Rule in Ireland. What strikes me, and would strike me with dismay if that were a state of mind I was accustomed to encourage in myself, would be the fact that men who have suffered a reverse in a constitutional conflict did not stand up to their difficulties in a constitutional way, fighting this situation of difficulty, and why, with this object of their desire still unattained, they do not convince their countrymen of the necessity and the reason of the settlement they desire.
Is it supposed that there is any man of sense in England or in the British Empire who does not devoutly wish that Irish grievances might be brought to an end? There are very few. I said men of sense. Where is the difficulty? The difficulty is in Ireland. I venture to say that the task which presents itself to Irishmen to-day who believe in constitutional action is the task of bringing together their common contribution in order that by 608 united action they may remove the obstacles which lie in the way of Home Rule, and that they, as men of sense, as loyal subjects, as men who have their interests bound up with the interests of Ireland and the Empire, shall present to the House of Commons such modifications of the present scheme, or such scheme of their own as they wish. I do not believe this House would put restrictions upon their liberty. They should present the existing scheme with its appropriate amendments, or a new scheme. If they would do this, in the midst of the greatest War the world has ever seen, this House of Commons would turn aside for a reasonable time from prosecuting the War, and would make sacrifices to bring conciliation and peace in Ireland. That may seem an extravagant hope. The minds of Irishmen in Ireland and of those who have fought this long constitutional struggle, the minds of those who have been their opponents, and of Irishmen the world over, are bent on this task. For my own part, speaking merely as a public man, not committing anybody to a declaration which I believe is shared by most hon. Members of this House, in that effort I most sincerely wish them God-speed. But can it be said that you are to enact and bring into operation Home Rule in Ireland whilst Ulster stands out against the Home Rule Bill? [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] Can it be said that you are to set on foot coercive measures in any part of Ireland during the War? [An HON. MEMBER: "You are coercing the whole of Ireland now !"] Whatever coercion there is in Ireland extends as widely in Ulster as elsewhere. I can tell hon. Members that, although it is said there is a Unionist Administration, there is no discrimination so far as I am aware in the enforcement of the law, and there will not be any discrimination.
The proceedings of last summer seem to me to forbid anything during the War except a voluntary settlement of this matter. If hon. Members from Ireland, or if Irishmen with the co-operation of their leaders, are able to effect that settlement, then you remove all those forces of bitterness and dissatisfaction to which the hon. Member for Waterford referred. In the meantime what is the task of His Majesty's Government? There are in Ireland at the present time people carrying on their avocations who engage steadfastly in other proceedings, men who are ready, I am satisfied, to repeat the mad and criminal proceedings of Easter week. They have no 609 chance under the present system of doing anything of the kind—I mean no effective chance. The feeling in Ireland comprises not only the feeling of disappointed movers in political affairs, but it comprises the feeling of law-abiding people who want to be protected against violence and outrage. It includes the great mass of the people of Ireland, who, I believe, are as opposed to-day as they were at the time of the Sinn Fein rising to any transactions of that kind. In that state of the case His Majesty's Government must bide its time, and it must ascertain closely week by week and day by day what is the state of the country. It is bound by every consideration of constitutional propriety, and of the public good to withdraw every measure of restriction as soon as it can be removed, but in the meantime its primary and paramount duty, as I conceive the case, is to secure to every law-abiding subject of the Crown in Ireland the protection which can be secured to him by whatever means are at the command of His Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I must say that I cannot regard the speech of the Chief Secretary as very hopeful. What was the nature of the speech my right hon. Friend made? It was simply coercion, more coercion, and more coercion. That is what it comes to. I am sure that my right hon. Friend does not in the least appreciate that that is the meaning of his speech and his policy, but that is the meaning of it. I should have thought that to any man responsible for the government of Ireland who had taken the most cursory glance at its history the one thing that would be clear is the absolute failure of coercion, the only effect of which has been to aggravate the ills of the country. I dare say my right hon. Friend denies that the policy he describes is coercion, just as he denies that we have a Unionist Government in Ireland. He says that we have a Liberal Lord Lieutenant (Lord Wimborne), and the Lord Chancellor is supposed to have national sympathy. Does not everybody know that the two men who really govern Ireland, and have always governed that country, except in the case of Lord Spencer, are my right hon. Friend himself and the Attorney-General. And now Ireland, after having been offered and cheated of self-government, is given as an alternative policy two Tory lawyers as its rulers, and a regimé of coercion. In all the topsy-turvydom or the stupid maladministration and bad policy which has ever been 610 adopted in Ireland I think this is the worst and the most stupid. Ireland is offered Home Rule. The chalice is almost put to her lips and it is dragged away—I do not want to use stronger language than is absolutely necessary, and I will not say by bad faith; I will take it as bad management. The chalice of liberty is almost put to her lips, and on the morrow of the promise, the cheated promise of self-government, she is given back the old Tory regime, with the old Tory figure of the Attorney-General for Ireland, one of the leaders of the Orange party, the disposer of the legal patronage, and the administrator of the Executive action of the country. That is the way Ireland is going to be tranquillised. Outside Bedlam, I do not think anybody ever proposed anything like it.
If I wanted disproof of the wisdom of this policy, I might take it from the right hon. Gentleman's own speech and acknowledgment. His speech was a perfectly frank one. He is a perfectly well-meaning man, but he has before him an impossible proposition according to his policy. I do not doubt his good intentions and his good will towards the Irish people. What did he himself candidly confess? That this rebellion was condemned by nearly all public opinion in Ireland. I can carry the case further. Even within the first two or three days of the rebellion in Ireland there were Nationalists who condemned it so strongly that they were prepared themselves to take violent action against the rebels. [An HON. MEMBER: "They did."] The Volunteers in various parts of the country did take action against it, not trusting alone to the British Army. The Irish people themselves were ready to put down the rebellion, and a good many of the regiments engaged in putting it down were Irish regiments. If the advice of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. John Redmond) to the War Office of enrolling the Volunteers for the defence of Ireland, armed, equipped, and drilled by the War Office, had been adopted, there would have been no Sinn Fein rebellion, because there would have been no Sinn Feiners on whom to draw for rebel forces. Some, at least, of the men who are lying in their graves in the gaol yards of Dublin to-day would have died in the trenches if the policy of my hon. and learned Friend had been adopted.
The Chief Secretary said that when the rebellion began there was hostility to it in Ireland. Then he went on to note the 611 change of feeling. What produced that change of feeling? A great official of the Empire said to me that the manner in which the rebellion had been put down had produced one of the most remarkable and astounding phenomena in human history: In a night or two nights the whole heart of the nation was transformed and what had been violent aversion to the rebellion became something like active sympathy of the nation. What does that prove? It proves that the task of my right hon. Friend is hopeless. With all this coercion, and coercion, and yet more coercion, his one hope is to have the sympathy and support of the Irish people in keeping good order and peace and tranquility in Ireland. What answer has my right hon. Friend given? What answer can any man give to that powerful indictment of the War Office which was made in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford, a speech all the more powerful because of its restraint. Was there a single man—I appeal to hon. Members below the gangway on the other side—who was not convinced by that speech? I cannot answer perhaps so much for hon. Gentlemen above the gangway on this side, but I say that every open-minded and sane man in this House was convinced. [Laughter.] I hope that my hon. Friends above the gangway on this side of the House will not expect a testimonial as to their political sanity from me without proof. But is there a sane man in this House, I will say even above the gangway, who was not convinced by my hon. and learned Friend that every single step taken by the War Office in the early days of this War was taken as if the intention were to prevent and not to encourage recruiting.
What was the explanation? I am sorry that I must use the word, but I must do so. It was because there was in the War Office then—I hope that it will not be the case now with the new civil head of that establishment—men with what I may call the Curragh Camp spirit. That spirit was determined, after the War as before the War, to use all the military power of this country to damage and discredit the cause of Home Rule. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is going on now."] An hon. Friend behind says that it is going on now, and so it is. I was told only last night of an eager young man coming to a recruiting office in the North of Ireland to help recruiting and beginning to recruit among the Nationalists themselves. There was there 612 a good old man with his pipe and barrackroom spirit who said, "Why should you try to recruit these Nationalists? We do not want them. The more Nationalists recruited, the better for Ireland." That was the spirit in which recruiting was carried on in Ireland. I do not say that it was the spirit in which it was carried on in this country, but I was coming along the streets of London one day, when I saw a recruiting meeting, and I thought I would hear a recruiting advocate. The first thing I heard him say was this: "You are not Members of Parliament; you do not get £400 a year to eat and get drunk upon, which is all that Members of Parliament do." If I were to quote that as a characteristic recruiting speech in England I should be about as fair as my right hon. Friend was in quoting the speech that he did as typical of the spirit in Ireland.
The Curragh Camp spirit was there all through. I hope that it is not there now. The effort was not to have recruiting in Ireland amongst the Nationalists, but to prevent it, and if my hon. and learned Friend did get many recruits from Ireland, and if my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) did get 3,500 men from Belfast, many of whom to-day are either dead or wounded, it was not because of the War Office, but in spite of the War Office. My hon. Friend, and none of us, got fair play in this recruiting campaign. It is said that all that is past, but the evil of it remains still, because it is characteristic of the whole action of the Government. Take the case of Limerick, a solid Nationalist centre. The man they selected to lead the recruiting campaign there was a Catholic who had stood as a Unionist candidate and had spoken, I believe, on Orange platforms. That was the kind of man who was sent to encourage Irish Catholic Nationalists in the City of Limerick to join the British Army. Every kind of fussy, irritable, half-pay major, the kind of gentleman that appears in every farce on the English stage, was dug out of the ground, where, although he thought that he was living, he was really dead, and his way of appealing to the emotion and temperament and patriotism of the Irish people was to describe them as cowards and slackers, and to use language like that. If any body of men in this country or of any nationality were addressed in language like that they would refuse to respond and come to the Colours.
What is taking place in Ireland to-day? My right hon. Friend says that there is no 613 coercion. I will tell the House what is taking place in Ireland to-day. The old ascendancy gang has got to the top again. My right hon. Friend is young in Irish politics, and perhaps he does not realise the meaning of what I imply by these words. I will put it in this way: I do not say that it is with his influence—I will not say so much for his colleagues—but Kildare Street Club to-day is the Government of Ireland. I know that they will find a pretty tough Englishman if they try any of their cajoleries on him, but they have a powerful aid and friend in his colleague. The old ascendancy party has got on top again. Do you want proof of it? I observe that my right hon. Friend made no allusion to Major Price. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend was in the House when some of my colleagues and myself raised the case of Sergeant Sheridan. Sergeant Sheridan occupied a good many speeches. My right hon. Friend does not know it. I will tell it to him. It will do him a great deal of good. It will be a key to much of the situation in Ireland and to many of the inner purposes of the sleek gentlemen who gather around him to-day. Sergeant Sheridan was a sergeant of police. He committed several crimes with his own hands. [Laughter.] There is laughter. My young Friends were not born then; they are scarcely born now. He committed various crimes with his own hands. That was acknowledged by the Chief Secretary of the period, Mr. George Wyndham. He houghed cattle; he set fire to ricks; and I believe that he assaulted men. He brought innocent people before a tribunal, and he swore their liberty away. Some of them were sent to penal servitude. The whole story was discovered by an accident. Sergeant Sheridan was allowed to get away to America. He was never even prosecuted. That is Irish government in microcosm. The agent-provocateur, the police spy! Can you expect it to be different in Ireland from what it is in any other country that is governed against the will of the people? There are the same agents and the same methods. We have Major Price to-day. As Sergeant Sheridan was the symbol and epitome of Dublin Castle government in the past, so Major Price is the symbol and epitome of Dublin Castle government at the present time.
What is the charge? John MacNeill, the leader of the Irish Volunteers, was lying in prison awaiting his trial. He was visited by Major Price. Why? I am not 614 a lawyer, but I should be surprised to hear if any man were in gaol in this country, about to take his trial for any grave offence, and, above all, for his life, that it is in accord with our criminal administration to allow into his cell, without the presence at least of his solicitor, any man from the outside. Suppose there was a labour dispute in this country and that there was a man of the labour ranks about to stand his trial for his life, and that it could be proved that an agent of Scotland Yard had been seeking evidence in the interests of the employers against that man, and that he came into that prisoner's cell, would not the whole labour world of this country be inflamed, and would not every reasonable man of any party denounce such a practice as perhaps worthy of a despotic country in the past? My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary admitted—I am afraid I must say under pressure—the interview. He was asked why the interview took place, and he said, "To gain information," or some such phrase as that. What a euphemistic phrase. He went into the cell of the man, who within forty-eight hours or a week of that time might be clay in the yard of the gaol, for information. The right hon. Gentleman does not know the kind of information. We know Ireland and we know Dublin Castle a little better than he does, and we know the information that was wanted.
Mr. MacNeill, I understand, has pledged his word as to what he was asked, and my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo has it in the handwriting of John MacNeill. I have no sympathy with the views or acts of John MacNeill, but I never heard anybody doubt that John MacNeill according to his lights is a perfectly honourable man. As to his character and dignity and courage and demeanour at the trial I would appeal to the hon. Member from Belfast, who defended him at his trial. John MacNeill has pledged himself to the statement that what Major Price did was to suggest to him that he should connect my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) with the ideas, the purposes, and the acts of the Sinn Feiners, and that he would save his. life as a reward. Talk of Prussianism, could they do anything worse than that? And that is what my right hon. Friend opposite calls the firm administration of the law which is to gain the sympathy 615 of the Irish people. When they have used the agent-provocateur and offer life on the terms of perjury against two leading politicians of this House, and when the Irish people show sufficient toleration and approval of that regime, then and not till then will he and his colleagues be generous to Ireland. I have dealt with the case of Major Price, not that that creature himself excites any particular interest in me, but as a symbol of the realities which lie behind the euphemistic language of my right hon. Friend when he speaks of the firm administration of the law. I use it for another purpose. My hon. Friends are invited to go on a recruiting campaign in Ireland. My hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, and my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast are to go, the one to Mayo, the other to Belfast. They are to begin their speeches by saying, "I want you to show your love of liberty, of civilisation, of the principle of the freedom of small nations, and of all those other sacred principles for which this country is fighting at this moment and which are involved in the balance. I invite you to join the Army and to give a vote of confidence in the Government and Major Price, who is trying to induce a man, under terror of death, to swear away our lives."
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I do not like to use the familiar phrase on this serious occasion, but there is a saying in a work of where Brer Fox says something very foolish and Brer Rabbit says, "You talk so young, Brer Fox, you make me dribble." When my right hon. Friend says as proof of the falsehood of the story of John MacNeill that the police agent, with a bad record already, denies it, and when he tells me that that is evidence against the word of John MacNeill, I tell my right hon. Friend that before he is many months in Dublin Castle he will be a sadder and a wiser man with regard to that type of evidence. Sergeant Sheridan denied also, yes, and higher men than Sergeant Sheridan denied. I brought the attention of this House once to proceedings under another Government, not a bit more Tory than the Irish administration 616 in Ireland to-day. I brought the attention of the House to dynamite prisoners in Chatham and other gaols, and of how Inspector Littlechild went down and begged them to forswear themselves for their liberty to involve the late Mr. Parnell. This is all new to my right hon. Friend. He is in his political infancy so far as Ireland is concerned. We know it from our very childhood, and we have lived in the middle of it. We know the methods of Dublin Castle, and anybody who knows the methods of that regime will appreciate all this. That is the kind of thing that is going to reconcile Ireland. My right hon. Friend complained that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford did not deal with the terms of the Resolution. I do not know that any observations could be more relevant to the terms of the Resolution than those I have just made. Let me recall to the House the terms of the Resolution, which says:That the system of government at present maintained in Ireland is inconsistent with the principles for which the Allies are lighting in Europe.Is Major Price and the regimé of which he is the embodiment and epitome consistent with the principle for which the Allies are fighting in Europe? I have described government as it is in Ireland. I could give other instances. My hon. Friend's (Mr. Dillon) house in Ballaghaderreen some months ago had the honour of a visit from one of these retired majors or a retired officer. This fellow, in a most bouncing manner, broke into the house of my hon. Friend, demanded the names of the people there, and, in other words, exercised what were supposed to be the principles of martial law. My right hon. Friend has, I am sure, read that valuable Report drawn up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon), which appeared this morning. This man, who was no more insane than Casement, and I do not say that either was quite sane, tried to cover up his crime by every mean and lying device the most cunning mind could conceive. He wrote a false statement with regard to a document which he alleged he had found on the body of Mr. Skeffington, and he wrote false reports, and did everything possible to cover up his crime. He went around shooting at large.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
For nine or ten days that man remained immune. He was not satisfied with murdering those three men, 617 but he murdered also that poor little boy of seventeen years of age who had just come out from a religious service in one of the religious orders. I do not want to repeat gossip, but I have some reason to believe that the only comment made by some of the sleek gentlemen amidst whom the Chief Secretary will pass his time was not of condemnation but of approval. The spirit of ascendancy, the Dublin Castle spirit, is on top, and a newspaper in Dublin tells us that what Ireland requires is a surgical operation, and that the more Ireland was likely to be reconciled and tranquillised. There is not a man who has studied Irish history who does not realise that oceans of blood could not destroy the spirit of Ireland. How will I sum up all this in one word? It is a word which was very familiar to us before the War, and a word which I think was one of the words which, to a certain extent, brought us into the War, and that word was "Zabern." It was because we saw what Prussian militarism meant under those circumstances at Zabern that we formed that conception of Prussian militarism that is nerving the Army of this country to-day to put it down for ever. You have Zabernism in Ireland.
We are asked why the Irish people do not come to the Colours as freely as they did at the beginning of the War, and I think we have explained to the House why. I share the opinion of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford, and I think it would be most deplorable if the Irish Divisions were not filled up by Irishmen. I think they can if Ireland did not give another man. Let me interrupt the thread of my argument by this statement: I speak, and I have some reason to speak, on behalf of a certain section of the Irish people in England. Before there was Conscription 100,000 of my fellow countrymen left the great county of Lancashire for the Army, and 30,000 from the city of Glasgow without waiting for anybody to force them into the ranks. I attended a memorial service to the memory of an Irish battalion at Liverpool a Sunday or two ago, and the Lord Mayor of that City, with a breadth and generosity and toleration, came there to do honour to the occasion. Are those all in the Irish Division? When I was up in Glasgow one day I took up the report of a meeting, and I saw there that a Bailie got up, and I can 618 imagine him uttering these words with tears in his voice:I regret to say that since the last meeting we have lost three more of the gallant members of our Gordon Highlanders, William O'Brien, John Murphy and Patrick Donoghue.There are Irishmen in every regiment. When you are making your case against Ireland, pray do give some little attention to the Irishmen in Great Britain and in all parts of the Empire who have gone into the ranks. I was on the point of the character of the rule in Ireland today. I described it as "Zabernism." It is nothing else. What happened? There were two events in Dublin of very different importance. There was the rebellion which, compared with the repression of the rebellion, was an unimportant matter. To a large extent it would have been forgotten by this time if the proper measures had been taken to put it down. Would those measures ever have been applied in any other part of the British Empire or to any other section of British citizens except Irish Nationalists? It is a hard thing to say, but it is perfectly true. I am not going to enter into a conflict about the different issues of Irish life, but supposing there had been a rebellion in Belfast, as was threatened—I will not discuss the merits or demerits of that movement because that belongs to the dead past, and I do not wish to revive it—and supposing the Post Office had been taken and occupied by members of the other party and they had come out after two or three days, as they would have had to do, and had surrendered, would any of them have been executed?
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
My right hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast (Mr. K. Thompson) says "Yes." If such an execution had taken place there would have been a revolt in this country against the execution of even one man, and I go the length of saying that no man would have pleaded more strongly for mercy than the political opponents of the Chief Secretary. As a member of the Coalition Ministry said, if one man were shot even in open fighting the Government would have been lynched. What would have happened if fifteen leaders of the movement had been executed? This resentment over the execution is regarded as one of the signs of that waywardness and unreasonableness that seem, according to the English mind, to be inseparable from the Irish temperament. It is only human feeling after all. Take, 619 for example, what happened at Tonypandy. Supposing there had been a fierce revolt of the miners against what they regarded as most unjust. Supposing that several men had been shot down and that ten man had been tried and sentenced to death. Do you suppose that when the first or second man was hanged there would not have arisen a cry from all the country against any further executions? Would not every humane man in the country, irrespective of creed or class, say, "We have had enough of blood"? If the same thing had happened to any class of society in this country with regard to men who went in for political rebellion or disturbance of this kind, would there not have been the same instinctive cry for humanity and mercy, which, after all, is not merely the best humanity, but also the wisest policy?
We say that these things are incompatible with the principles for which the Allies are fighting in this War. What are the principles for which we are fighting? I do say that this Government cannot go into the Peace Conference, which I hope, pray, and believe will follow a victorious war on the part of the Allies—no British diplomatist can go into that Peace Conference with clean hands if the question of Ireland has not been settled. What will be our demands at that Conference? We shall demand the liberty of Serbia, Belgium, and Montenegro. We shall demand the recognition of nationality for the Poles, for the Italians of the Trentino, for the French of Alsace and Lorraine, for the Roumanians, and for the Armenians. If we do not get that at the end of the War it will be only a truce. We shall say to Prussia, "You must give up some of your Poles." We shall say to Austria, "You must give up some of your Poles." We shall say to Russia, "You must abandon your despotic rule in Poland and give her self-government." Russia has said that herself. The policies of Governments, we know, are not always to be relied upon. We shall make all these demands. What will Bethmann-Hollweg say? "You demand the liberation of small nations ! There is a country called Ireland. You demand the recognition of the principle of nationality ! There is a country called Ireland. Have you liberated that small nation of your own? Have you recognised that principle of nationality in that island of your own, three hours from your shores?" 620 If you have to say "No"—I pray you may not have to say "No"—what will be the answer? "Thou hypocrite; thou seest the mote in thy brother's eye, but thou hast not cast out the beam in thine own eye." I assure the House most sincerely that my desire to see this Irish question settled, and settled now by an act of Government and not by the acts of private individuals, and settled for ever, is inspired not only by my love for my own country, but by an equally strong desire that this Empire may go into that Peace Conference with her own hands clean with regard to her own nations.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word, "That," to the end of the Question, and to insert instead thereof the words, "having regard to the importance of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland combining with the rest of the Empire in presenting a united front to the enemy, it is undesirable at the present time to discuss matters of controversial domestic politics."
I have listened with great interest, as one always does, to the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) and of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), but I have not listened to them with the pleasure that I usually feel, because hanging at the back of my mind is the question whether those speeches are likely to be helpful to us or not. The House cannot be reminded too often that at the present time the Empire is engaged in the very serious conflict in which we are fighting for our very existence. We have been told that we are fighting for small nationalities and so forth. Further than that, we are fighting for our very existence, and at present the fate of the struggle is not absolutely certain. In that struggle whoever in the Empire is not with us is against us. One question I want to ask is this: Is Ireland with us or against us? I firmly believe—some people will differ from me—that Ireland is with us at the present time. If so, she can show it not by discussing grievances of this kind, but by helping us at once. She can submit herself to the same disabilities to which we have to submit at the present time, and have the same laws applying to Ireland that apply to England at the present moment, and she can help us in every way she can in the terrible conflict in which we are engaged. 621 My Amendment deprecates discussion at the present time. I therefore must not fall into the temptation—a great temptation it is—to answer many of the statements which have been made in the course of this Debate. May I transgress to this small degree and yield to temptation to this extent to say that there is a considerable difference between the rising at Tonypandy, which was a rising in times of peace over a question of industrial dispute between employers and employés, and which, whether it was right or wrong, was a very different matter and deserved different treatment from a rising when the country is in the throes of war which is receiving or expecting help from the common enemy. I will not yield to the temptation of dealing with this matter save to appeal to the Irish Members—I appeal to them as an Englishman—not to discuss or magnify grievances, great though they be or small, but to leave that discussion until the end of the War. I am perfectly certain that the attention Englishmen will give to it will be largely balanced by the fact whether or not they have helped us and shared equally with us the burden of the conflict. I am afraid I have already contravened the terms of my Amendment. I am not going into the speeches we have heard to-night, not even the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in his excellent defence of Irish Administration. It is in the belief that a discussion of this kind is not helpful to the country that I resist the temptation, much as I should like it, of going into the details of these matters and move this Amendment.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
There can be no Member of this House who does not agree with, at any rate, one of the propositions in the Amendment which has just been moved. My hon. and learned Friend would desire us to put on record our sense of the importance of not only Great Britain but Ireland too, combining with the rest of the Empire in presenting a united front to the enemy. There could not be a proposition which people in different parts of the House, whatever their views as to Irish policy, would be more anxious to affirm to be the truth and wish to continue to be the truth. I trust it may still be so, but, unfortunately, it is no good thinking that unity is going to be secured by affirming a proposition which is highly 622 desirable; and the sad thing about the Debate to-day and about the speech which was made in support of the original Resolution is that it undoubtedly goes to show what risks we are running, deeply as we deplore it, if the kind of criticism which was so powerfully urged by the Leader of the Irish party at the beginning of the Debate is criticism which cannot be, at any rate, to some extent, met and disposed of. The Chief Secretary for Ireland is an old friend of mine, and there is no one in the House or out of it who does not admire the public spirit and the courage with which he entered upon a most thankless task. I believe that expresses the feeling of people in Ireland just as much as of people in this country. He was called upon to undertake an almost impossible duty, and it is perfectly plain from what we have read as to his efforts that he has thrown himself into the discharge of that duty with all his might and main, and I think we all owe to the right hon. Gentleman a full and frank acknowledgment of the unwearied effort he is making, and shows himself willing to make, for our common good in this matter. There was one passage in his speech on which I should like to offer a word of comment and criticism. He spoke, as it seemed to me, as though these very severe restrictive measures, of which, complaint is made by hon. Members below the Gangway, were in themselves some remedy for a malady which it was sought to cure. I think that is quite a false metaphor and rather an unfortunate one. Indeed, he went further and said he regarded them not only as a remedy, but as a remedy which was to continue to be applied until the malady had been cured. That is a very ancient and hoary fallacy in the history of Irish government. I do not believe that those expressions of his really, on reflection, will be found to represent the view of the Government as to the reason why they keep these exceptional repressive measures in force.
I do not agree with the hon. Member (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) when he belittled the seriousness of the outbreak in Ireland and drew a picture of what might happen in this country if severe measures had been adopted in corresponding circumstances. I think his perspective is falsified there. It appears to me quite plain that what occurred some time back, in Easter week, in Dublin and the rest of Ireland, made severity absolutely necessary, and I think a man who calls himself a Home 623 Ruler and a Liberal is showing himself very wanting both in good sense and in courage if he does not tell his Irish friends and Irish Home Rulers that any other course than extreme and prompt severity would have been perfectly ridiculous. No man who really judges the necessities of the case can doubt it. But that is a very different thing from coming here months and months after and giving no real answer to this request, Will you be good enough to tell us why you keep martial law up in Ireland? I should like to ask the Government to consider that single question, and it may be give us a further answer about it. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Rawlinson) just now said Irishmen must, in these times, be content to submit themselves to the same disabilities as other people. I am not sure that there are not a good many Irishmen in this House who are critics of the Government who would subscribe to that doctrine, but, they say, What is the reason why you keep martial law up in this country any more? I do not believe that the restrictions which are being put by the Irish Executive on what knight otherwise be dangerous occurrences depend upon martial law the least in the world. They depend on the Defence of the Realm Act and the Regulations under it, and the extent to which the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act can be framed in order to protect the safety and peace of the State in proper circumstances by this time is very well known to everyone. I would most respectfully urge upon the Chief Secretary and his colleagues, is it really impossible now to say, At any rate we can concede this. Though we be in the midst of a War, and though we realise the great difficulties and dangers in the administration of Ireland, we, at any rate, can say that the period of the Proclamation of martial law, whatever that precisely means, might fairly be terminated. I rather understood the Chief Secretary to hint at that as at any rate a fairly debatable question. I understood him to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Redmond) whether he did not see his way to co-operate in securing that what was necessary should be done under civil process rather than by the help of the military administration. Is not that really possible? I have, of course, no claim at all to judge of what may be the feeling in Ireland on this subject, but I cannot help believing that the mere existence, month 624 after month, of what is called martial law in the sister island, in contrast with what happens here, is in itself a great aggravation in the minds of a large mass of Irishmen of the grievances of which they complain.
I would not suggest this if I did not know very well from past experience in. administration in this country that the Defence of the Realm Act in fact provides, or may be made to provide, very abundant security against disorder. I know it does. There are many hon. Members who have thought it right from time to time to complain because in the island in which we live the Defence of the Realm Act and its Regulations are applied too severely. I say nothing about that, but I cannot bring myself to believe that there is any good and solid ground any more for continuing what is called "martial law" in Ireland. That, at any rate, is a matter of immediate administrative policy. It does not raise these large constitutional questions, which I do not think can be solved save by consent in the middle of a war. But why should we continue what must be in itself a great aggravation in the minds of many Irishmen if, as a matter of fact, in this matter Ireland can be treated in the same way in which Englishmen and' Scotsmen are treated—treated under the necessary security which the Defence of the Realm Regulations provide? I desire to submit that on the understanding, of course, that the Government and the Irish Executive have far better information than I can get at, but it appears to me that so far, at least, something might be done now which would tend to assuage this very bitter and dangerous feeling. I intervened because, although the Debate has gone on for some hours, it so happens that no one who in the times before the War was a British supporter of the policy of Irish Home Rule had taken any part in the Debate, and I do not feel at all certain that what I am going to say will necessarily commend itself to all of them. I am sorry that we should need to speak of Unionists on the one hand and Home Rulers on the other in connection with Ireland until the War is over, but I would say this to hon. Members below the Gangway: Nothing that has happened in the view of English or Scottish Home Rulers, so far as I can see, has in the least affected their firm belief that it is along that line that Ireland may hope to become a contented and prosperous country. On the contrary, the experience which we all 625 shared at the beginning of the War as to Ireland's attitude and response was in our view, and will continue to be in our view, the strongest possible proof that it is in itself a wise policy. But at the same time it is really no good imagining that in the midst of a war a great constitutional change is going to be brought about in any part of the United Kingdom except by methods of negotiation and consent. That is impossible. As far as I can speak for any other English Home Rulers, holding as we did these opinions before the War started and believing them to be confirmed by our experience at the beginning of the War, we assure hon. Member's opposite that while we could not take part in anything which might seem to embitter controversy while the War is going on and therefore must join them in an appeal for an arrangement by consent, when the War is over our belief in this policy is quite unchanged and unaffected.
§ Mr. O'GRADY
I think everyone will welcome the argument of the right hon. Gentleman in favour of the removal of martial law in Ireland as one of the results of this Debate. After all, there is only one settlement of this question, unless we want to have it eternally with us, and that is to enact the law as it stands upon the Statute Book to-day. I am not one of those men, although an Irishman, who would ask for conflict and controversy at a time like this, but there are certain things transpiring in Ireland which one cannot allow to go by without comment. It has been agreed on the part of the Government and of other speakers that the Irish people themselves are not responsible for the condition of Ireland to-day; neither do we think they are responsible for what is called the Sinn Fein uprising. If that is accepted generally, and I have heard nothing to the contrary, I suggest that after all we are approaching somewhat nearer the concession on the part of the Government which is claimed in the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Redmond). It is true I do not live in Ireland, but I used to go there occasionally upon my purely trade union work. I have not been there since the suppression of the uprising, but we get information on this side of the water from sources of our own, and letters I have received verify up to the hilt every statement which has been made this evening by the hon. and learned Gentleman—at least with regard to the check which was placed upon him and his colleagues in the work of recruiting. In- 626 deed, knowing these facts, I have been astonished at the magnificent result of their work in getting men to join the Colours. I do not know what possesses the Departments of State in this country. I was going to say the same kind of thing applies to nearly every Department. I know it applies in regard to the Munitions Department. When many of us have made certain practical suggestions, our suggestions have been thrown aside, sometimes almost without comment, certainly without consideration. That is exactly the same kind of thing that was indicated in regard to the War Office in the statements made by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. I was much interested in the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. We were all very glad when he accepted that appointment. I looked forward with some great hope that the iron hand would be softened under his regime in the circumstances that existed in Ireland. But the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duke), like everybody else, is obsessed with the uprising in Ireland, as if because an uprising took place, in which the great majority of the people of Ireland had no part, that must of necessity, for some considerable time, prevent justice being done to Ireland, but something like reasonable treatment being given to the people there.
Let me get back to some of the people in the rebellion. I knew some of the men who were, unfortunately, executed by the British Government. I knew them to be absolutely sincere. They always declared themselves to be what they were—the enemies of English rule in Ireland, and they died enemies of that rule in Ireland. I always thought that it was one of the characteristics of the British race to have some regard for a man who has the courage of his convictions, and that in circumstances like these they would have taken the human view, and, while adopting some form of punishment, would not have gone to the extent of executing these men. I have been told, and I give it for what it is worth, that when a friend of mine was brought before a court-martial and condemned to death, his condition was such that the officers themselves appealed to him that he should put in a plea for mercy, and they thought it possible that the Government might take that view of it. He told the officers there that he was going to die as he had lived, always the enemy of British rule in Ireland. Whatever mistaken views a man may have—and I told; 627 him when he was alive, over and over again, how foolish he was to engage in this movement and tried to persuade him to give it up, but I could not do so—I do suggest that to treat a man like that, under circumstances such as existed in Ireland at the time of his death, is an unwise act of statesmanship, apart from the mere question of the human aspect. It is fairly clear, as a result of this Debate, that the operation of martial law at the moment, and, I am sorry to say, the unsympathetic reply of the Government, has not diminished the support of the Sinn Fein movement in Ireland, but increased it. I respectfully submit to the Chief Secretary that the result of his speech to-night will be to give more impetus to the cumulative support that the Sinn Fein movement is getting in Ireland. The whole position seems to be that this is another instance showing that Englishmen never can and never will understand Ireland. It is a question of psychology, as well as a question of politics and justice. You have never attempted to understand Ireland. At least, Englishmen have never attempted to understand Irishmen from that point of view. I do not know anything more than I have said about the present condition of Ireland, because I have not been there for some time.
I rose mainly to say that I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues on these benches, and I would respectfully suggest that there ought to be some weight attached to our support of this Motion. How do we stand in representative character? Quite outside the question of representing our constituents in this House, there are three and a half millions of organised workpeople represented upon these benches, mostly in England, Scotland, and Wales. That was the number represented before the War. One million of them are out in the trenches, and two and a half millions of them at home, including our women members. If a referendum were taken of these people, representing the trade union movement—three and a half millions of people is no inconsiderable portion of the community, and I suggest that the organised factor should count more than the unorganised factor of public opinion—there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of the Motion moved by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. If you were to carry that referendum to the troops in the trenches—I am not now speaking purely of the Irish 628 troops, but of the trade union men who are now troops in the trenches, in the various theatres of war—you would get the same overwhelming majority in favour of a settlement of the Irish question along the lines suggested. I want to ask, further, whether there is any hon. or right hon. Member in this House who thinks that if it were possible to submit this exact Motion to a referendum of the various constituencies in this country there would be any doubt as to an overwhelming majority being given in favour of it? Of course, we cannot have an election, but the Government want to do the thing that is right, and they want to carry out the wishes of the people in regard to the civil arrangements of our community as well as in connection with the War, and there can be no doubt what the result would be if they cared to hold a referendum.
I agree with one of the speakers who supported the Motion that this is a great Imperial question. Many of us on these benches for a number of years have been advocating the formation of an Imperial Council, dealing with the affairs of the Empire in a way that they can only be dealt with. Just imagine representatives from South Africa, the Commonwealth of Australia, New Zealand and Canada sitting down at an Imperial Council table to discuss a question of this kind ! I think their estimate of British statesmanship, and, if I may say so, of British common sense, would go down very considerably if they found us wasting our time and energy in discussing what is, after all, the putting into operation of a mere act of justice and right. The Chief Secretary spoke about Ireland as a country immune from the ravages of war. Thank God it is, and thank God this country is ! But the right hon. Gentleman overlooked the fact that the immunity of Ireland arises from the bravery of her own sons in the various theatres of war. I do not think that that ought to be thrown out to us as if it were some great benefit that we get as a result of being at the moment under the domination of England. Ireland's own sons have brought about that immunity to a very large extent. This question is more definitely Imperial by reason of the fact that a large number of the sons of Ireland are in the Overseas Dominions, and as a result of this Debate you tell them of the apparent refusal of the Chief Secretary to make any advance towards the acceptance of the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford.
629 I do not want to raise controversy about the North and South of Ireland. I believe a very sincere attempt was made to get over that difficulty. In fact, I understand that the leaders of both parties in Ireland, the Unionists and the Irish Nationalists, had agreed on a settlement, and one of the most tragic things that took place was that somebody, in a pettifogging sense, but possessed of great power and great influence, interfered with that settlement, and brought it down to the ground. In connection with that matter surely the Chief Secretary must admit that there can be no other construction placed upon it by Irish people at home and abroad than that again the Irish people have been sold by the British Government, as, in my opinion, they have been sold for many long years. I am sorry to have to speak in this way, because I think this question can be settled by conciliation and negotiation at the moment. I am, therefore, sorry to speak in this strain, and I want to say at once that though I am speaking like this, and speaking in the name of my own party on the general question, we will not do anything to prevent or to embarrass this Government in carrying on the War to the only conclusion worth fighting for, and that is a victory for the Allies. In the meantime, with our colleagues sitting on the benches opposite, we shall do all we can to persuade this House of Commons, and to bring pressure upon the Government to that effect, that even now justice shall be rendered to Ireland.
§ 7.0 P.M.
In rising to support the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson), I desire to support what I have seen in the Press in the form of a letter by the hon. and gallant Member for East Clare (Major W. Redmond). I am sure the House would like, if it were necessary, to have independent testimony as to the gallant deeds that these Irishmen have performed in the trenches. I desire to say that it has been my privilege to move amongst them so long ago as March in last year. I was amongst them constantly, and it made one marvel to see them and wonder why, seeing those men there, enthusiastic in their work, there should be any trouble in Ireland as to getting more men like them. In talking to them one has constantly heard them express the view that if the men were left to themselves, if they were unfettered, and free from influences, 630 either political or other influence, whatever it may be, that there would be thousands more like them joining up. I believe that. I believe the majority of the Members of this House sincerely believe that if we could get the Irishmen of the countryside to have their free fling, and that if they were properly asked, they would rally up in large numbers to do their share of the fighting at the front. That is their characteristic. They like a fight. I have seen them in Africa, Canada, and elsewhere, on the slightest provocation, fling their things down, put down their coat, trail it along, and dare anyone to tread on the tail of it in order to get up a little excitement. These Irish Debates have puzzled me considerably, because when you see Irishmen abroad they work together, and there is no antagonistic feeling between the Nationalists and the Ulstermen. They make good citizens, and we know how much value they been to the Empire as a whole. Why is it that when they are free from Ireland they make such good citizens, and what is it that is at the root of the evil when we cannot in Ireland get the same result? I do not intend to go into it, but it is a point which has often been impressed upon me by the sound, common sense of what I heard in France from Nationalists, that if the boys were left alone they would come along. It also occurred to me that the splendid example which had been set by the hon. and gallant Member for East Clare might well be followed by others who sit on the benches behind me. I do not know if the hon. Member for West Clare (Mr. Lynch) is in his seat; I saw him in the House. I mean no offence in saying that he fought against us on one occasion, but he is wholly with us in this War, and what better example could he set now than to ask for permission to raise a battalion on his own in Ireland? I am perfectly sure that he would make a good leader and that he would get the men and many more if he would come forward as the hon. and gallant Member for East Clare has done.
It is said that men are wanted for reinforcements. I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind, knowing the little I do of military affairs, that as long as Irishmen can be induced to roll up and do their bit it would be rather immaterial whether they go as reinforcements or go as whole battalions fighting together. It has been said on many sides that Irishmen object 631 to joining up except in existing units. I believe that there is a lot in it. I have it on very high authority from a man who should know that there is a strong feeling in Ireland for joining up with existing old regiments or battalions. If that is so, the difficulty could be overcome by allowing them their freedom of choice to join units for service together, who would be doubtless drafted to the 16th or one of the other Divisions. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford referred on more than one occasion to the 16th Division, and complained that transfers had not been freely granted. May I point out that it is not an easy matter to keep transferring men from one unit to another. It causes confusion and upsets the esprit de corps of the unit. I am perfectly sure, and it is only natural that it should be so, that when a man has been in a regiment—I do not care whether it is English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish—when he gets to know his fellows in that regiment he objects himself to be transferred; and, on the whole, you will find that the majority of men would not willingly transfer from one unit to another.
I have another suggestion to make which might receive the consideration of the Government, and I will ask the Prime Minister's attention to it. It has been suggested that there are a lot of Irishmen who would join some independent unit, and I was asked to put forward for consideration the suggestion that there should be created a Foreign Legion, and that carefully selected French officers should come over and be entrusted with the work of selecting recruiting officers, and that any Irishmen who would volunteer to join that Foreign Legion should be allowed to do so. I think that there is something in that idea. I think that if you had French officers given to us in that way, they might raise conceivably not a battalion, but a brigade or two. There is no earthly reason, if Irishmen would rather serve in such a Legion, why they should not do so. I trust that the suggestion may receive some consideration, because it is thought well of in very high quarters.
When you have seen these Irishmen working and fighting, one feels inclined to go to any measure to get more like them. They are happy and contented, and they fight alongside the Ulstermen I have seen them in two or three of our big 632 battles, and the spirit and zeal which they put into their work are worthy of the great traditions of Irish regiments in the past. There is only one other point I should like to mention. It might be advisable to bring back some of the sons of Nationalist Members sitting in this House who are at present serving this country to see whether they could not, if they had a free hand, be able to raise a battalion or more. I do believe, personally, that Conscription at this moment, though many people believe that it should be adopted, is not an attractive or advisable policy. I do believe in an educational policy generally. Getting some of these men back would, I think, do much good. I am perfectly sure that if the hon. Member for West Clare were to volunteer to raise a battalion, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War would give his approval. I was interested to-night to hear for the first time why the effort at conciliation in July fell through. I want to take this opportunity of saying to this House that I was strongly in favour of it, and I believe that had it been put to a vote in this House the vast majority would have supported the suggestion.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
I do not propose to intervene in this Debate for more than a few minutes, nor shall I attempt to retraverse the ground which was covered by my right hon. Friend and colleague the Chief Secretary. There are just two or three points to which I think it might be useful for me to direct attention. It was suggested during the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the Debate that Dublin Castle government was now being "run by a Unionist Administration." If by that is meant that the administration is being worked in an anti-Home Rule spirit, I must repudiate' the charge. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary in his speeches, both before he assumed his present office and since, has shown that he is animated by no such spirit, and I should have thought that I myself, as head of the Government, might claim, in view of the channel in which my political energies flowed and were almost concentrated in the five years preceding the War, should be free in this matter from suspicion. I will not go back on the various points connected with Irish recruiting to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred. That there were dreadful mistakes and most regrettable blunders at various stages of this matter, 633 as he knows, I am the last person to deny. Unfortunately, those cannot now be repaired. The practical suggestions which he made this afternoon—for which I can assure him I feel very grateful—as to the steps which can now be taken to fill up with Irishmen the wasted ranks—wasted for the most glorious of all reasons—of the gallant Irish Division, I know will receive the most careful and sympathetic attention of the Secretary of State for War, who I hope at a later stage of the Debate will be able to say something on that subject.
The hon. and learned Member and those for whom he speaks have with us, I know, in this matter one and the same object. I am doing him no more than bare justice when I say that there is no man in the Empire who has rendered more consistent, more loyal, and more effective service in recruiting for the Army than the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. That is the primary and fundamental condition of our success in the War. In regard to the present administration of Ireland by the Irish Government, it is, of course, to be remembered that we are dealing with a provisional and, I hope, transitory situation. Martial law, in the commonly accepted sense of the term, is not being applied in Ireland. It exists in name, but does not exist in any substantial reality. I think that everything that has been, or is being done, so far as I am aware—I think that I have made this statement before—is being done under statutory authority and under powers conferred under the Defence of the Realm Act, and I am not aware—I do not profess to be especially familiar with all the daily details of Irish administration—that any act which has been done by the Irish Executive for the justification of which you would require to resort to the Proclamation—I am speaking now of the first proclamation of martial law. The only substantial—it is very substantial I agree—difference between the administration of the law at this moment in Ireland and in Great Britain is the suspension of civil procedure in criminal cases by the Proclamation under the Defence of the Realm Act—I mean, not the proclamation of martial law, but the proclamation which suspends for the time being the right of trial by jury in certain criminal cases—cases which are offences under the Defence of the Realm Act, and no others. An ordinary case of murder can be tried in Ireland just as in England. But the offences in 634 regard to which trial by jury has been suspended are offences under the Defence of the Realm Act and the regulations made thereunder. In existing circumstances, for reasons given by my right hon. Friend, it is not considered right, in the interests of public safety and public order, and in view of a possible recrudescence of the past, to dispense with some such safeguard as that.
Whether it might take a different form is a matter worthy of consideration by the Government and is receiving consideration from the Government. I can assure the hon. Member and those for whom he speaks that no one is more anxious than we are, at the earliest possible moment, to revert to normal conditions. The mere name of martial law, as I have said, has no substantial effect, and if some effective substitute could be devised for trial by court-martial of the limited number of cases to which I have referred, we shall be most anxious and gratified to resort to it. With regard to prisoners, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) knows, I have given a very great deal of personal attention to that subject. A very large number of those who were suspected and temporarily interned have now been released and sent back to their homes, and the number which still remains is comparatively small. [An HON. MEMBER: "Six hundred, and they are starving."] I mean as compared with the total. Their condition is most carefully looked into, and if any suggested case of hardship is brought to the notice of the Home Secretary there will not be an hour's delay in dealing with it.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
In regard to this question of prisoners, there is not a man among us who is not as anxious as any hon. Members opposite to see that they receive, as they are receiving, humane and proper treatment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] If there is any case of hardship, let the hon. Member bring it forward.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
This is the first time my right hon. Friend has heard of it. Let the hon. Gentleman forward particulars of that case, and it shall be inquired into. We have no wish that they 635 should suffer. On the contrary, we wish that they should receive the most humane treatment possible.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I shall be most obliged if he will give himself the trouble to do so. I wish to say one thing more of a general kind.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
In good time, I hope—the moment it can safely be done. I wish to say again that I do not take back anything of what I said in this House when I returned from Ireland early in the summer, either as to the breakdown of the existing system of Irish administration or as to the impossibility of imposing by force, on any section or part of Ireland, a form of government which has not their consent.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The bad atmosphere that at present exists in Ireland, to which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary referred, can only be dispersed by an agreed settlement on Irish Government. That is my settled conviction. There is no party and no sane politician in this country or in Great Britain who would not welcome with joy and co-operate with a whole heart in giving to such an agreement, if and when it is arrived at, as I still pray it may be, the most complete and lasting effect.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has left us his case to answer in this House, and there is a disagreeable feeling that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister rises to rectify it. I am sorry I cannot congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister upon the satisfactory character of the rôle which he occupies. He had come to the House to-night to face a situation of the most stupendous difficulty, and he has not a single suggestion to make in order to solve the problem we have before 636 us. I am glad he did not pose to-night in a dramatic attitude. He came some months ago from Ireland and declared in the most solemn form in this House that after his experience in Dublin he had come to the conclusion that Dublin Castle rule was dead and damned. He proceeded in his somewhat characteristic Parliamentary way to build up Dublin Castle in a worse form than it was before. We have waited for a long period to find out whether further consideration has enabled him to come to this House to tell us what he is going to substitute for Dublin Castle. He has not illumined our minds upon that point; nor has he endeavoured to utter a single word of sympathy with those who are striving to preserve the constitutional movement in Ireland, or acceded to a single request made from these benches by the leader of this party, in order to restore that atmosphere in Ireland which was created by our efforts when the War commenced. The Chief Secretary for Ireland told us that we should come to the words of the Amendment, and keep those words clear before our minds. I accept that.
Why was it that the Irish party, and subsequently the Irish people, threw themselves heartily and enthusiastically on your side in this War. It was because we believed that it was a battle for the rights of small nationalities and for the sanctity of public treaties; yet we have the spectacle—which to my mind is simply a grotesque comedy—of these Gentlemen talking about the rights and liberties of small nations, while standing up in this House and justifying martial law, the abrogation of constitutional authority in Ireland, and the governing of it by a triumvirate who hate Ireland and everything Irish. We hear of the splendid response which Australia and Canada and Africa made to the call of Imperial duty. They deserve all that can be said of them, but why did they respond? They responded because they were in the free and full enjoyment of perfect liberty. Do you mean to tell me that if you sent John Maxwell over to trample on the freedom and the rights of the people in Australia and Canada that you would have had a single recruit? Do you mean to tell me that if you had tried to scrap a single page of their constitutional statute of the freedom of these people that New Zealand, Canada, Australia would not have revolted if you made an appeal to them. 637 You got men from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, not a small contribution of these Forces being Irishmen, of Irish birth and blood. You got them because they believe, and rightly believe, that you are engaged in a battle for human liberty, for the rights and freedom of small nationalities, and for the sanctity of treaties. You have got also a response from Ireland. Lord Kitchener, a few months after the war began, declared that the response of Ireland to your call was magnificent. That was his expression. You have got that response, and why did you get it? After all, we in Ireland are not fools. When we go out for small nationalities we include our own among the others.
I tell you here that for my part I never would have secured a single recruit in this War if I had not believed that when the War was over, and the small nationalities' rights, privileges and liberties were recognised, Ireland would be included in this arrangement. It was because I believed in your honour and in your word that I was one of those who incessantly and insistently pleaded with my fellow countrymen in Ireland, at the risk of unpopularity among many people who are my friends, and I succeeded perhaps more in my own Constituency than any other Member of Parliament from Ulster or from Ireland. Why did I do that? Because the Home Rule Bill was on the Statute Book, and I believed you were going to put it into operation. What has happened since? I was amazed at the statement of the Prime Minister when he said that you would never get Home Rule until there was unity of opinion and complete agreement in Ireland. That is a fine democratic principle to come from the Front Bench of the Liberal party ! Have you ever carried any reform in this country or any measure of liberty by the unanimous assent of the people of this country? Why are you excepting Ireland from every principle that lies at the root of the solution of this question? You want perfect unity in Ireland ! When are you going to get it? Let it not be forgotten there was as near an approach to unity as it was possible to have, and the right hon. Gentleman stated that it was Irishmen themselves who destroyed it. I deny that statement absolutely. The right hon. Gentleman had no right to make it. That settlement was broken, smashed and destroyed, not by either the representatives of Ulster or by ourselves, but by the British Coalition 638 Cabinet, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to know that because it was discussed in this House.
Ireland has given, since the War commenced, believing herself to be included in the small nationalities for which the Allies are fighting to-day, 100,000 recruits. Many of these men have died on the battlefields of France and Flanders. These regiments are to-day crippled for want of men. You say if we do not give you men we are turning our backs on those gallant fighters whose superb courage and whose glory in. the battlefields ought to at least save our country from the denunciations and attacks of the meaner type. Does it ever strike you it is you who have sold the Irish soldiers? Does it ever enter into your mind that those of us who are responsible for sending men to the front receive from some of them bewildered, staggered, and angered letters, and that as they pass along to death they ask themselves, "Is it for this we are fighting—for the rule of Sir John Maxwell and for the operation of martial law?" We were your recruiting agents in Ireland, and we succeeded in getting a contribution from Ireland which Lord Kitchener regarded as magnificent, in face of all the difficulties that were put in our way, difficulties that were cited by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). But we went on, and then the rebellion took place. That rebellion, as my hon. and learned Friend has stated, was regretted and condemned by all of us. No one could defend it.
The way I always feel is that in the government of Ireland by this country, in the relationship of British statesmen to the Irish people, you never can do the right thing, even by accident. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary stood at that table to-night and talked of law and order, and of the suppression of treason, in trite and easy phrases, trippingly thrown off his tongue for the delectation of Members who agree with him. But was it worth your while to lose Ireland for the purpose of securing the lives of fifteen Sinn Feiners? You should have treated these men more mercifully, and, as you were powerful, you should have been generous and magnanimous. You should have treated these men with clemency and with pity, and you should remember such cases as one I know of myself—that of a young fellow from my own Constituency who was associated with that rising and who told the court-martial 639 by which he was sentenced to penal servitude for life that for three months he was struggling to get a commission in the British Army and could not succeed, and by some accident he got into the Sinn Fein movement, with we know what result. I remember myself at the time we were securing hundreds of thousands of recruits for the Army, and for the 16th Division, I could not get a single commission for an Irish Nationalist. The responsibility did not rest with Lord Kitchener, and it did not even rest with the War Office. I felt deeply this refusal to give commissions to young, highly educated, and efficient Catholics in Ireland—I realised how it damnified recruiting in Ireland to be told these men were good enough for soldiers in the trenches to do the spade work in this War. Although these Catholic Nationalist officers who have gone into the Army have been the flower of your officers, not a single commission could I get. I came over specially to see the Prime Minister. With the greatest possible difficulty I got an interview with him, in order to make my protest. I remember he treated me with the utmost coldness. He displayed not the least sympathy. He gave the usual shrug of his shoulders and nod of his head, and that was all the satisfaction I received.
The right hon. Gentleman has one great fault. He is too fond of acting like the ostrich and sticking his head in the sand. That has been the secret of all the troubles that have taken place. If he had had the courage to face these things, to grapple with them, and to deal with them, he could have defeated the machinations of those who were hostile to us at the War Office, who wanted to carry out the spirit of the recruiting meeting in Dublin attended by Sir Hedley Le Bas, when a member of the recruiting party told him they did not want Papists to recruit in the British Army, as it might result in giving greater moral power to the constitutional claim of our people for freedom. Having made a complete and absolute mess of the whole situation, there is so little sense of humour in Englishmen that they ask us in the condition in which they have placed our country, to start again as recruiting agents. If everyone of us spoke with trumpet tones and in the language of Demosthenes, in the present temper of the people we could not succeed. You have taken things in Ireland out of our hands and handed them 640 over to Lord Lansdowne, Major Price, and the editor of the "Morning Post." Let that triumvirate who have taken our places in the work of recruiting In Ireland see what they can succeed in doing. I say that, having blundered all along the line, you now want us to get you out of your difficulty.
I agree with all that has been said, and I am still convinced that these Irish regiments ought to be filled up. I believe they can be filled up, and they will be filled up, but not on your lines or in the way you want it done. You want to have it both ways. You deny us the freedom for which you say you are fighting for the smaller nationalities, yet you ask us, as slaves in our own country, to come out and do your work for you. We may be very impossible; we may be very wrong; but that is the situation which you have created. Until something more than this speech, which has disgusted and even shocked everyone on these benches—until something more than that is offered to Ireland, I am afraid you cannot expect either support or co-operation from us. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in his speech to-night was very grandiloquent and pathetic when dealing with the necessity for suppressing disorder and treason in Ireland. But when my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), after the first execution took place, went to Sir John Maxwell and appealed to him, for the sake of England and of the Empire, as well as for the sake of Ireland, to stop these executions, he replied that he would put this treason down so vigorously that never again would it raise its head in Ireland. The Prime Minister and Sir John Maxwell, however, have created treason where treason never existed before. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, a stranger in Ireland, a well-intentioned stranger it may be, could even in a fortnight surely have learned more than was manifested in his speech here. I tell him this: He may be Chief Secretary for fifty years; he may continue martial law, and he may have a whole army behind him; he may mobilise every power and authority and every force, but he will never make any advance. Ninety-nine Coercion Acts in ninety-nine years ! The gallows, the prisons, racial hate aroused against us in this country. There was not even a vicious element to be found anywhere 641 that was not charged against our country. Have you satisfied her? Have you made her more contented by your policy? There was a period of peace. That was a period of trust. That period of peace, trust, and liberty was destroyed, and with it the fruits of our labours for forty years disappeared. The minute they disappeared old rancours, old hatreds, old discontents, old bitternesses revived. The sagacity of statesmanship—I will say nothing of the spirit of justice—should inspire them to make a supreme effort and even great sacrifices to satisfy these people, who only want to be kindly treated, to be given equality in that spirit of liberty in order to be the most precious and priceless asset you have at this moment of your Imperial necessity. I tell the Prime Minister frankly we do not want any well-composed phrases either from himself or from the Chief Secretary. We want to know do they mean business. You can have our friendship, but you cannot hate us and refuse us liberty and then expect us to help you in your emergency. You would not get Englishmen to do it even here in your own country. If you were carrying on oppression and coercion, and if the Empire was shaking to its very foundation, you would not get Englishmen to help you if you treat them as you have treated us. I may also point out that we are a poor, despised, and often derided element in this House and in this country, but there are powerful men in this House and in the politics of England who have the power and the capacity to make sacrifices. If these Gentlemen want to win the War, and they say that men are needed to win the War and that Ireland could give these men—you can have all you want if you give Ireland not some impossible scheme of liberty, but a scheme of liberty that has been fashioned by yourselves, carried in this House, and received the sanction of the British people at successive elections. Give us Home Rule. If there are any outstanding difficulties, and if by Irishmen meeting together either in their own country or here we can come to an agreement which will receive the sanction of the Irish people, we will be only too delighted to meet and endeavour to grapple with those difficulties to end this long and weary conflict that was never so formidable as it is at the present moment when we want it the least formidable, and to give yourselves that of which you have robbed yourselves—the chivalry, the 642 courage, and the conspicuous spirit of self-sacrifice which have enriched the story of this great world struggle.
§ Colonel YATE
Many of us have listened with great regret to the speech just delivered, and I am afraid it will go far to remove the kindly feeling that was held in England towards Ireland if we are to have speeches of that description. One great charge by the Irish Members to-night has been that Ireland is under Unionist administration. In that connection we must in fairness remember the words of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland who, on taking charge some ten years ago, after a long period of Unionist administration, said that Ireland had never been so peaceful or so prosperous for centuries before. That stands to the credit of Unionist administration, and it ought not to be lost sight of when these charges are brought. The second charge is the retention of martial law in Ireland. After the Chief Secretary's description to-day of the rebellion in Ireland, showing its ramifications all over the country and the organisation that had been going on for months and years beforehand, I think that anyone who talked of removing martial law from Ireland at the present time would be almost out of his mind. I heard the present Chief Secretary some months ago, presumably in the kindness of heart, talking of removing the stigma of martial law from Ireland. The stigma of martial law in Ireland rests on the heads of those rebels and traitors who, at the time of our greatest difficulty and in alliance with Germany, our bitter enemy, tried to give us a mortal stab in the back. Some 300 men of the Midland Territorials gave their lives in quelling the rebellion. Ask their friends and relatives what they think of removing martial law from Ireland. Go to the 997 men who were wounded, maimed, or disabled at the hands of men whom they had hitherto considered their own fellow countrymen, and ask them what they think of removing martial law from Ireland. I may say in passing that these men have received no reward or encouragement from the Government. Even the men who were recommended for meritorious acts have not had their bravery recognised or rewarded up to the present time. It is a shame that the Government should treat in this way men who have gone through the most horrible fighting that any soldier can be called upon to do. If you asked 643 any of these men their opinion about removing martial law from Ireland, I think they would say that the man who proposed it under present circumstances was himself a traitor to his country.
It is not the stigma of martial law that has to be removed from Ireland; it is the stigma of the refusal to bear her share of the burdens of the Empire at the present moment. We have heard a great deal to-day about recruiting in Ireland. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) gave us a most glowing account of how Irishmen in England had enlisted. Irishmen in England have enlisted magnificently without any urging whatsoever. We have been told how a 100,000 Irishmen have enlisted in Lancashire, and many thousands in Glasgow. We have heard of the fine battalions of Tyneside Irish What we want to hear about is the raising of the Shannonside Irish—the enlistment of Irishmen in Ireland. I appeal to my Nationalist friends to save their country from the shame that is coming upon her by the refusal of the Irish to bear their share of the burdens of the Empire at the present time. Look at what England has done.
§ Colonel YATE
I will deal with that. The Prime Minister told us, not long ago, that before the Military Service Act came in 5,000,000 men had enlisted voluntarily in England. That is, roughly, one out of every eight men, women, and children in this country. In Ireland, out of a population of 4,500,000, we have been told to-day that since the opening of the War 100,000 men have enlisted voluntarily—50,000 from Ulster, and 50,000 from the other three provinces. Canada, with a population of 7,000,000, has enlisted 500,000 voluntarily, and is engaged in keeping up her quota at full strength That represents an enlistment of about one in every fourteen of the population. How does Ireland compare with that? Australia, with a population of 4,500,000—the same as that of Ireland—has raised 300,000, and is engaged at the present time in passing a Military Service Bill. New Zealand has already passed a Military Service Act, and has enlisted some 70,000 men out of a population of 1,000,000. South Africa, in addition to conquering German South-West Africa for us, has sent men to our help. If Ireland did what Canada and 644 New Zealand have done, we should have 300,000 men from Ireland instead of 100,000.
§ Colonel YATE
To put Ireland on an equality with Great Britain we should have from her a contingent of 550,000—an additional 450,000. I appeal to Nationalist Members to save their country from the shame that is coming on her. The feeling is growing not only in England, Scotland, and Wales, but in Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, and South Africa. All these Dominions are feeling exactly the same. What did Sir Thomas Smarth, the representative of South Africa say only the other day:Coming from the Dominions which will have to take part in the final settlement, I cannot understand how Irishmen can expect any measure of free local self-government without being prepared to give every available man to fight for civilisation against barbarism.That is the feeling throughout the Dominions and abroad. We have seen it ourselves, When those 400 or 500 young Irishmen tried to embark at Liverpool the stokers came out and said that if those men were allowed to board they would not sail the ship. English harvesters have asked why they should be taken away for the Army and Irishmen allowed to come and take their places. At the present time men are being "combed out" in the various industries. What do they say? They ask, "Why should we be called up and our jobs allowed to be taken by men from Ireland?" Then we have the talk about the military age being raised to forty-five. Do you suppose that Englishmen between 40 and 45 are going to allow a lot of young Irishmen to loll at home with their hands in their pockets? This feeling is growing daily, and I appeal to my Nationalist friends to save their country from the shame that is coming upon her throughout the Empire. I appeal to them to think over this matter carefully. I am a Unionist of the Unionists. I am a life-long Unionist. I stand for the union of all classes at home. I stand for the union of Great Britain and Ireland. I stand for the union of the Empire abroad. But if Ireland would come out voluntarily and join us in this War and say, "We will bear the same burdens that you are bearing, we will give you man for man in the proportion that you are giving," I should say, "Ireland has proved her loyalty, her devotion, and her unity by her blood; and having Droved 645 that with her blood, I, for one, shall no longer stand out against giving Ireland a national assembly for local self-government." But you have to think of the other side. If Ireland refuses, if Ireland carries out the words of the last speaker, if the Military Service Act has to be applied to Ireland by force against the will of the Nationalist representatives, every man in England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa will say, "Ireland has failed us in our need; Ireland has shown that she is not worthy of local self-government."
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Lloyd George)
I simply rise to reply to some of the observations which have been made in criticism of the War Office policy towards recruiting in Ireland. The broader aspect of the question has been treated by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland in his speech, and I understand also by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who, unfortunately, I was unable to be present to hear. Therefore, I would rather not enter on those. In regard, however, to recruiting in Ireland, may I say I am as keen as any man in this House about getting as many men as you can for the British Army. I know how important it is to fill up the ranks, and to keep them filled up to the end. I certainly am very anxious to get as many Irishmen as we possibly can draft into the Army. They are splendid fighting material—there is no better fighting material in the world. That, however, must not "blind us to the special difficulties of the Irish position. Take the question of recruiting. I should like to be able to make a good Parliamentary defence to some of the criticisms of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford upon some of the recruiting methods in Ireland. Honestly I cannot do so. I am now referring to what was the most crucial period in the history of recruiting, either in this country or in Ireland. That was the first few months. I wish I could give an answer to my hon. Friend's criticisms. But some of the—I want to get the right word—some of the stupidities which sometimes almost look like malignancy, which were perpetrated at the beginning of recruiting in Ireland are beyond belief. I do not know who was responsible. I entered into the matter at the beginning when I had no special responsibility. I was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I remember that I was perfectly appalled at the 646 methods adopted to try and induce the Irish people to join the ranks. It really looked as if someone were deliberately discouraging them. I think I shall be able to prove that that unfortunate period is passed, and passed long ago. But it is very difficult to retrieve, to recover a lost opportunity of that kind—very difficult. There were things done which offended Nationalist susceptibilities. It was not altogether confined to Ireland.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
No, no. I am referring to Ireland as a whole. Of course, a great machine had to be improvised for recruiting, and raising a gigantic Army, and it was not always possible to find the best men for the purpose. At any rate, some of the things which were done undoubtedly account to a very large extent for chilling all the original enthusiasm exhibited in Ireland in favour of recruiting. I am afraid that is all I can say in response to the criticism directed by my hon. and learned Friend to the first part of recruiting in Ireland. There was the incident of the flag. That incident was one which but to anyone who belonged to a small nationality would have seemed utterly impossible. I can quite understand the effect it would have in Ireland. It did undoubtedly neutralise to a very great extent the very energetic assistance and powerful appeals made by my hon. and learned Friend, and those associated with him, and especially those associated with the hon. Member for Belfast. I also know something about commissions for young Irishmen. I think it very unfortunate, because. I know how much that counts in a country like Ireland. I come to a question with which I am more particularly connected—the criticism of some recent events. I will take first of all what my hon. Friend has said about the Dublin Fusiliers. I think, when I tell him what has happened, he will understand why the soldiers under these circumstances thought it was essential that this excellent battalion should be put into the 61st Division. This was formerly, though not as a matter of fact, a naval division. It was an Infantry division, and was not used for naval purposes in the ordinary sense of the term. It was a division which was raised without any provision for drafts to fill up the gaps, and it had been very badly let down. They wanted to form it into an efficient division for fighting purposes—I 647 forget where—and they found the Dublin battalion an excellent one, and they used it for filling up the gaps in the 61st Division. At that time there were no gaps in the Irish Division.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am told that at this time there were no gaps. My hon. and learned Friend knows very well the importance of keeping a unit in military formation. There is a great difference between a gap of 100 men in this battalion, of fifty in another, and 150 in another, and a gap into which you can put a whole battalion of 800 men. There is a good deal to be said for what the soldiers did in these circumstances. What happened? They had to choose between breaking up a fine battalion of men who naturally wanted to be kept together and distributing them as drafts amongst the whole of the Irish Divisions, and putting them as a body into another division altogether. If they had been broken up I think they would have complained very bitterly. Therefore, there was a good deal to be said for keeping them together, and putting them into that division for the time being. Now, however, we ought certainly to consider the question of putting this body of Dublin Fusiliers into the Irish Division if it can possibly be arranged. That is my answer upon that particular point. I will come to what my hon. Friend said about certain Irish drafts being sent to Irish regiments. I am sure, certainly, that that has not happened since June.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I have not had time to go beyond June, but I am perfectly certain that since June it has not happened, and I can tell the House quite frankly why. In June arrangements were made and the order given that nationalities should be considered in the question of drafts. That is why I have chosen the month of June. It is exceedingly difficult to keep up the provincial character of regiments at the present time. Anyone who knows what is going on must know and have come to the conclusion, that it is im- 648 possible. For instance, you cannot keep up the county character of the various divisions.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My hon. Friend may know better than I do, but I can assure him that I have gone into the matter very carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that it is absolutely impossible to do it. The House has only to consider what the position is. Take a particular county battalion which goes into action. The losses sustained may be of a very severe character. You cannot get drafts from that particular county to fill up the gaps. You may find, on the other hand, that there are other county battalions which have not been in action and which are at a part of the line where there is not the same drain upon their resources. You have, therefore, to fill up the gaps by taking the men from wherever you can get them. I considered this point specially in relation to questions that were put to me about the Scottish regiments. It was utterly impossible to do what was asked. You cannot keep up the county character of the battalions. The next best thing to do was to keep up the national character of our divisions and battalions. Since June a real effort has been made to keep up these national characteristics. Instead of putting Englishmen into Scottish regiments, and Scotsmen into English regiments, when you are drafting men to the battalions from any particular county to which these particular battalions belong, our rule is to put Scotsmen into Scottish battalions, Englishmen into English battalions, Welshmen into Welsh battalions, and Irishmen into Irish battalions.
§ Mr. REDMOND
May I ask a question? Under these circumstances, will the right hon. Gentleman restore to the Leinster Regiment the hundreds of men taken from it before June and put into Highland regiments?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That involves another question. It involves restoring to English regiments the Englishmen put into Irish regiments. I am sorry to say that there are a great many battalions; that have ceased really to be Irish.
§ Captain S. GWYNN
Will the right hon. Gentleman mention which battalions? I was with a battalion in France about a fortnight ago, and in about 300 men there was only six Englishmen.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I think I shall be able to give my hon. Friend some information. That is the one point I am going to make. The next point raised by my hon. Friend was that Irishmen in English regiments and Irish battalions in English Divisions should be drafted into the Irish Division. He gave the case of the London Scottish, and said the London Scottish had been attached to the Gordon Highlanders. As a matter of fact they have been attached to the London Division. They are with the London Division, and therefore the London Irish have been treated in exactly the same way, I am assured, as the London Scottish in that respect.
§ Mr. REDMOND
Has the right hon. Gentleman looked into that personally? My information comes from very high quarters.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that I have consulted the authorities at the War Office, and it is on their authority that I am making this statement. Those who are responsible for recruiting in the War Office have assured me that the London Scottish are attached to the London Division. There is, I think, a kind of paper arrangement whereby they are attached nominally to the Gordon Highlanders, but, as a matter of fact, they are in the London Division. I do not know whether my hon. Friend will be satisfied with the same arrangement for the London Irish, that nominally they should be attached to the Irish Division, but really attached to the London Rifles?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I got the information from the War Office, but evidently my hon. Friend knows better. Take the case of the Irish battalions raised for English regiments. Take the Northumberland Fusiliers; there were Irish battalions raised there. I am in- 650 formed that not 5 per cent. of those battalions are now Irish. That is my answer to my hon. Friend.
§ Captain GWYNN
May we have this quite clear, because it has been stated very often that Irish regiments are now filled up by Englishmen? What is the case with such regiments as the Tyneside Irish, who have never been allowed to rank as Irish regiments at all?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
My hon. Friend wants to know whether the Irish regiments in Ireland are filled up with Englishmen? I could not give him the information at the present moment, but I will find out whether any of those regiments are filled up with English drafts.
Captain W. A. REDMOND
I can give the right hon. Gentleman a little information on that point. The battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers to which I have been attached at the front have been almost wiped away on at least four occasions. On the last occasion they had about 50 per cent. casualties, and they were filled up by Irishmen, most of them Dublin Fusiliers. That is the point my hon. Friend is trying to make, and the Irish regiments at the front are still composed of Irishmen.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
May I be allowed to say how very glad I am to see the hon. and gallant Gentleman sufficiently recovered to be with us after the great perils he has faced. That is the reason why you could not attach them to the Irish regiments—because they are no longer Irish. Let me give another case. There might be certain cases of emergency where Irish drafts just arrived in France are put into English, Scottish, or Welsh regiments. That arrangement happens with regard to any nationality. You might find, for instance, a division put into action short, and the Commander-in-Chief has got to fill them up at twenty-four hours' notice. There is no time to distribute the drafts then to the Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh Divisions, but he takes the draft available without any reference at all to nationality. There may be cases of that kind, and I have no doubt there are. It is not confined to Irish regiments, but extends to all nationalities alike. My hon. Friend, however, may take it from me that the principle which has been laid down, and the principle to which we mean to adhere, is that nationality shall be respected with 651 regard to drafts. To that extent we have accepted the principle for which he contends and which, I think, is a right and sound one from every point of view. I think I have dealt with most of the cases.
§ Mr. J. REDMOND
There are two points with which the right hon. Gentleman did not deal. One is the desirability of allowing individual transfers, and the other is the question of the wounded men from the base not being sent back to their own division, but to English Divisions.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
That is a question I made inquiries about, and the only answer I can give is that the War Office regard that as quite incredible. They think it might have happened if there were real pressure, and a division was sent short into action and the Commander-in-Chief wanted to fill it up at once. In such a case he might send Irishmen who, before they were wounded, were in Irish battalions; but if it were done apart from that, that is undoubtedly contrary to the principles laid down by the Army Council.
§ Sir E. CARSON
May I say with regard to one of the Irish Divisions that a number of the men when they got well were sent off to other divisions? I complained to the War Office of that being done, as they were wanted back very badly in the division, and the War Office told me there was a general rule that they should be sent back to the division from which they came, and that what occurred must have occurred by accident.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not think it is accident, but pressure. When a great battle is going on there is not time always to sort out nationalities, and you have got to send them at once into the firing line; but the principle is one we certainly accept, and which the Army Council has approved. With regard to recruiting, I am sorry to say I cannot agree with the figures given by my hon. and learned Friend. His figure of recruiting in Ireland is 157,000.
§ Mr. REDMOND
That is the total number, including the number in the Army at the commencement of the War.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Then I have nothing more to say about that, except that I ought to tell the House that the total number of recruits in Ireland since the beginning of the War is 105,000.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the total number of men who offered themselves and were refused on medical and other grounds?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Yes; I can give that too. The total, I think, is about 157,000. I think there were about 50,000 rejections, and, of course, one of the things the War Office say about that is that a very large proportion of men who were unfit tendered themselves as recruits. The number of recruits added to the Army in Ireland since the beginning of the War, 105,000, is about 2½per cent. of the population. There is no doubt that is very low compared with any other part of the United Kingdom or compared with the contribution made by the Dominions. It is a matter of great anxiety to those concerned with the raising of our Armies and the filling up of the gaps that we should be unable to ensure the support of Ireland in this matter. I was very glad to hear the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford this afternoon. It was a very courageous speech. I am glad he does not depart in the least from the desire he has expressed and has worked for to recruit the gallant men of his race and bring them together to fight in this great struggle, which means just as much for Irishmen in the end as it does for Great Britain. I know there is a difficulty, but I feel that men of all classes ought to come together to solve it. I am now speaking not as a Member of any party, but as the War Minister. This is really a matter of the atmosphere. The atmosphere for the recruiting in Ireland is bad, and what I should like men of all parties to do—I am not talking politics now, I am talking war—is not so much to appeal to men in other parties to do their share, but to consider what they can do themselves. It is no use appealing to Ireland to assist; we must appeal to Great Britain to assist. The contribution of Great Britain is the contribution of improving the atmosphere in Ireland.
I am not going into the unfortunate story of the negotiations and why they failed. If you apportion the blame, or try to apportion it, you only create fresh difficulties by doing so, and you enter into unprofitable controversies. What is important is that from the point of view of the War we want in the Army these brave and gallant warlike people who exhibited at the beginning of the War a real desire to help—I should say almost for the first time in the history of our Empire.
653 I should like to see them brought to that again. The representatives of Ireland are impotent unless Great Britain contributes her part. I do hope that men of all parties in this country and men of all sections in Ireland will just consider whether something cannot be done in order to remove a sense of injustice, a sense of distrust, a sense of suspicion, and a sense of misunderstanding between the two races which make it impossible for them to cooperate for an end which is just as important to one as it is to the other. I believe it can be done, and before beginning any controversy about recruiting in Ireland I should like to see that considered. I am making an earnest appeal now, not as a member of the Government, but as the Secretary for War, and I know how vital it is to the interests of this country that everything that the Empire can do in every corner and quarter of it, should be summoned to our aid in this great struggle. We cannot afford to do without Irish help, and let us make it easy for Ireland to assist. I think the British mind is eminently a just one. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Yes, I think a sense of justice is ingrained in the British nation, and if they realise that there is some sense of grievance in the Irish mind which makes it difficult for them to listen to our appeals for assistance, I believe Britishers will face that difficulty and assist to remove it without any regard to previous predilections, prejudices or associations.
In conclusion, I beg, first of all, the men of this country, who know how important success in this War is to the British Empire, to subordinate everything to the securing of the assistance of this great race for us in this combat. I would also appeal to Ireland to approach Great Britain in the same spirit. There are men, and millions of men, in this country who are earnestly anxious to see that justice should be done to Ireland, and more than that, who mean to see that justice shall be done to Ireland. But may I say this: I am appalled at the effect which a failure to achieve this will have upon the fortunes of the people of Ireland. I am sure that every right-thinking Irishman, who thinks about the future of this country, is very anxious to see this conflict of centuries brought to an end and a good understanding established between two races, which Providence has put nigh to each other as neighbours, and who if they do not live on good terms together it will bring misery to one, and not merely dis- 654 comfort and unhappiness to the other, but real difficulties to their door. It is dangerous to Britain and distasteful to Ireland to keep this alive. Instead of continuing the conflict, all of us are anxious above all to bring this War to a successful conclusion. This is a War which will settle the fate of humanity for centuries to come for better or for worse, and we should subordinate all things which by comparison are insignificant—we should subordinate them in order to win this one great end.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
We have heard several speeches delivered from the Treasury Bench to-night, but the only speech which offered us a glimmer of hope in Ireland is the speech which we have just listened to from the Secretary for War. In the speech of the Chief Secretary and the Prime Minister, while there is an admission of the existence—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am afraid the figure of 50,000 which I gave just now is not strictly accurate, and I will give my hon. Friend the real figure later on.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
The speech of the Secretary of State for War is the only speech deserving of the reputation of the Government for any degree of statesmanship to which we have been treated from the Treasury Bench to-night. The speech of the Chief Secretary was disappointing in the very last degree, and I regret to say that the speech of the Prime Minister was equally disappointing. [An HON. MEMBER: "More so!"] Many of my hon. Friends think that the speech of the Prime Minister was more disappointing, but if I express the view that the speech of the Chief Secretary was as disappointing as any speech could be I do not think that I can blame myself for not applying anything stronger to the speech of the Prime Minister. The Chief Secretary for Ireland told the House to-night that if in treating a patient you find that the case is one of fever there is no use in offering a spoonful of water as a remedy. He has not offered to the settlement of the Irish controversy even as much as a spoonful of water. All that he has said to us is this: "During the War let Ireland stand aside so far as she has any quarrel with reference to her treatment. If she has a grievance, let her keep silent in regard to the grievance. Let her trust the British Government." That is the one thing Ireland is not prepared to do at present. The position in which we find ourselves in 655 regard to the relationship between Ireland and this country is one of the most profound distrust of British statesmen that has existed in Ireland at any time for 100 years.
We were told by the Secretary of State for War that it is desirable now not merely in the interest of Ireland, not merely in the interest of Great Britain, but in the most vital Interest of the Empire, to bring about a good cordial friendly relationship between Ireland and this country so as to ensure for the purpose of winning the War the co-operation of Ireland. I was amazed at the Chief Secretary speaking about the knowledge which he has of the West and South of Ireland. What does he know about Ireland after his holiday of a fortnight or three weeks there? From the knowledge we have on these benches as to the feeling of Ireland we may say to the Government without the faintest reserve, "You cannot possibly expect the cooperation of Ireland in the War or for any other purpose unless you concede to Ireland the right to govern herself and manage her own affairs. We have before the House at the present moment a Resolution and an Amendment. I was glad to hear a prominent representative of the Labour party assuring the House that he is going to support this Resolution. He speaks for a party which represents 3,500,000 of the organised workers of Great Britain. This is the Resolution:That the system of government at present maintained in Ireland is inconsistent with the principles for which the Allies are fighting in Europe.The Chief Secretary said that this Resolution embodied even in its very first sentence a falsehood. At the present time, when the sons of Ireland are asked to recruit, Ireland, a country with a charter of liberty on the Statute Book of this Parliament, is being governed, not by her own choice and not by Irishmen, but by a Government the head of which is a Tory lawyer pledged by his party to resist the grant of self-government to Ireland. We are in a worse position than that. We are governed by a despotism that is a disgrace to this country and to the Coalition Government of this country. In these circumstances, is it right to ask for co-operation? Is it right to ask for co-operation without redressing the grievances of Ireland? Let there be no mistake about the actual position of affairs. You may redress grievance after grievance, going into questions in a piecemeal fashion, but 656 never can you expect the co-operation of Ireland until, by the good will of the Government of this country and by the good will of all parties represented in the Government of this country, you settle the Irish question by putting Home Rule into operation, and giving Ireland in effect and in action the Act of Parliament which is on the Statute Book at the present time.
The Amendment to this Resolution is an insult to Ireland and to us. In effect, it says that there is a serious War, and you must observe the truce. There has not been any truce observed in this country by the opponents of Home Rule since the Act was put on the Statute Book. On 28th September, 1914, after the War had been in operation for some time, and when the fortunes of this country and the fortunes of the Allies were in a more perilous position than happily they are at the present moment, there was no truce observed by the Unionists and the Tories of this country in reference to the question of Home Rule for Ireland. On 28th September, 1914, according to the "Times" newspaper, the then leader of the Tory Opposition and the present Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Bonar Law) went to Belfast to deliver what the "Times" the next day described as "a striking message of encouragement to the Covenanters." I have here the report of the speech that was delivered after that message was given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson), but neither I nor any of my colleagues have any wish to embitter feelings. At that critical stage of the War what was said by the right hon. Gentleman who is now a prominent member of the Coalition Government? He said that he, as a leader of his party, had said that in all circumstances the moral support of the party for whom he acted would be given to the Irish Covenanters in resisting the putting into operation of the Home Rule Act, but on this occasion the message which he brought came not from him, a party leader, but from every member of the Unionist party in the House of Commons, and, if the occasion arose, they would support to the last any steps which the senior Member for Trinity College and the leaders thought necessary for them to take to defend their rights. That was a threat that in the event of Home Rule being put into operation not only would the Ulster Volunteers have their support in rebellion, in open rebellion, against the people of this country, against the 657 Government of this country, against the Parliament of this country, and against the Empire, but they would have the then leader of the Opposition and the present Minister of the Colonies backing them. To-day we are reprimanded by Gentlemen like the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the hon. Gentleman who represents Cambridge University for speaking on the question of Home Rule because we are introducing party politics. In the critical days of the War, when the fortunes of this country were not as high as they are to-day, you had the Leader of the biggest political party in this country saying that he was prepared to resist the setting up of Home Rule, not only by giving his moral support, but by giving arms and active assistance to the illegal and unlawful methods by which the Covenanters had threatened to resist the introduction of Home Rule for Ireland. To-night we are told by the Prime Minister, the head of the Coalition Government, that we cannot have Home Rule until there is agreement, absolute agreement, in Ireland. Let me discuss just for a moment what is the basic meaning of the claim set up by the senior Member for Trinity College. He said on that memorable occasion of the 28th September that he loathed the Prime Minister and the Liberal Government and the Home Secretary and all his colleagues. And the Chief Secretary now calmly and coolly reprimands one of the party to which I have the honour to belong because he used language which I think was much more choice than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College used on that occasion in reference to his colleagues, and language quite as mild as was used by the Secretary of State for the Colonies on various occasions and in that speech against the members of the Government who had passed that Act. The Prime Minister says that until there is agreement amongst all parties in Ireland, Irishmen can never hope for the setting up of the institutions which they are entitled to under the Home Rule Act, which became a Statute of this country and the law of the land in 1914. He is attaching to the setting up of Home Rule a condition which is an absolute impossibility.
When the senior Member for Trinity College, during the course of the Debates on Home Rule, asked for the separation of Ulster from the rest of Ireland he made that suggestion not because he thought it was desired by Ulster, not because he thought it was good for Ireland, but be- 658 cause he believed that if he could carry this it would be the means of killing Home Rule. I tell you that the people of Ireland are not to have Home Rule killed, no matter how strong is the opposition of the Member for Trinity College.
If the Prime Minister says Ireland is not going to be coerced, how can he justify the coercion that is going on in Ireland at the present time? Is he going to stand for the principle that the people in a large part of the North-East of Ulster are to be excluded permanently or temporarily from the benefit of the Home Rule Act, of which they are in favour? I say, without the faintest hesitation, that the Government are faced with a peril and a difficulty glossed over by the Prime Minister and by the Chief Secretary, but recognised frankly and honestly by the Secretary of State for War, that until the Irish question is settled not by a promise, and Ireland will never again accept a promise from a British Minister. Nothing will satisfy the people of Ireland but the fact, the fulfilment of the promise. Your promise is very good in itself as a promise, but there is in Ireland at the present time a feeling of distrust which is almost incurable, a feeling of distrust and disaffection which can only be cured by the British Government actually putting Home Rule into operation and settling the just and legitimate claims of Ireland, and by giving the people of Ireland the foundation for the belief that England and English statesmen are sincere, and that Ireland is going to be treated in the same way as Canada, as Australia, as New Zealand and South Africa have been treated.
Think of the contrast between our position and the treatment meted out to us and the position of all the Dominions of all the self-governing Colonies. England began well when she passed the British North America Act, and in every stage and development of the Empire in the extension of free institutions to Australia, to New Zealand, and to South Africa England has excelled herself in generosity. The gift of the right of self-government to South Africa in the circumstances which existed in 1906 showed the true courage and genius of British statesmanship. Has not that courage and that statesmanship had its reward? If the Boers of South Africa had not been treated in a courageous and generous way by a man like Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, could you have the response which South Africa has given in the present war? Contrast with 659 all that how niggardly you have always been in your treatment of Ireland. The one bright thing for us to remember is that whatever statesmen representing British parties in this House may do, we have won for Ireland the sympathy of the democracy of this country and the democracy of the Dominions and Colonies of the Empire. But see how niggardly has been her treatment. We gained Home Rule, and it is put upon the Statute Book. If instead of merely putting Home Rule on the Statute Book in 1914 after we had won our constitutional fight, after years of constitutional action and devotion which showed the quiet heroism and trustworthiness of our people, if you had put Home Rule into actual operation and given the control of Ireland to the men who had proved themselves worthy of controlling the destinies of their own country, you would not now be appealing to us to-day for recruits and assistance, but you would have had from Ireland a degree of loyalty and an amount of support everybody knows which would have been even greater and nobler, I believe, than even the great resopnse which has been given by the Colonies and Dominions within the British Empire. I ask you now, if you wish to secure the best results from Ireland—the results which the Secretary for War says are most desirable not only for Ireland, but for the Empire—to learn the lesson at last, settle the Irish question, and hereafter you will have no difficulty in getting recruits from Ireland.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I did not expect very much result from the Debate upon this Motion, but, at all events, it is clear to the Members on these benches, as it will be clear to the Irish people to-morrow, that the new Chief Secretary has been mesmerised by the officialism of Dublin Castle. He has got into the same old rut as his predecessors. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman was the most discouraging item in the programme this evening. He has been over in Ireland for a short time. We all know the channels through which he has gained his information. Several incidents regarding martial law in Ireland and the unfortunate rebellion in Dublin have been related this evening. I could give many instances myself showing that martial law is not a name but an absolute reality. In the town which I represent there was, pre- 660 vious to the rebellion, an occurrence in which a number of young Sinn Feiners were attacked by a street mob. Their premises were besieged, their windows broken, and their lives threatened. One young man fired a revolver over the heads of the mob. Immediately the police rushed into the room and were taking down the names of those who were there, and a county inspector arrived, who ordered them to disarm. They refused to disarm. Some shots were fired, and, unfortunately, a police sergeant was wounded. Several people were arrested and brought before a resident magistrate. They were remanded from week to week pending the attendance of the sergeant. Immediately martial law was proclaimed the county inspector of police rushed up to the Attorney-General, who was the only official then at the Castle, and begged him to take over these unfortunate young fellows and put them under martial law, as they would have no chance of a proper trial by the civil authorities. The resident magistrate could not understand why such a procedure was necessary. The offence had been committed long before the rebellion occurred in Dublin, and the accused were in the hands of the civil authorities. They were immediately taken up to Dublin and tried under martial law, with the result that through the intervention of some hon. Members sitting on these benches they got a trial at which they were prefessionally represented and ultimately they were released. Immediately after this occurence the resident magistrate, who was a Catholic, was removed, the district inspector, who was also a Catholic, was removed, and two gentlemen of different religious and political thought were put in their places. The position now with regard to the headquarters of the Royal Irish Constabulary in King's County is that the county inspector, the district inspector, the county inspector's clerk, who has as much power as, if not more power than the district inspector, the head constable and the resident magistrate, are all of different political and religious thought from that of nine-tenths of the people there. That is one of the effects of martial law with regard to the constabulary, which is the channel through which the Chief Secretary gets his information as to the feeling in Ireland and what is going on there. There is no town in the North of Ireland in which the Protestant population is in excess of 661 the Catholic population where such a thing would be permitted. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches hardly realise what that means. Personally, I do not care to what religion an official belongs, so long as he is a fair man, but we know that, unfortunately in Ireland, politics and religion go hand in hand, a state of affairs which was being very much wiped out. Here you have an instance where 90 per cent. of the population are Catholic and Nationalist, where the headquarters of the police, who are the representatives of the Government, are Unionist and Protestant.
There are many other instances that have come under my notice so far as martial law is concerned. Immediately after the rebellion hundreds of troops were marched into the country in all directions, and in some instances in King's County—whether it was due to the officers in charge or to the directions which they received, I do not know—everything was done to annoy and insult the people. In one instance a Nationalist teacher, who had never been conected with the Sinn Fein movement and who was a follower of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, was arrested, his lodgings searched, and he was subjected to every kind of insult by private soldiers. He asked what was the charge against him, and was told he would learn afterwards. On searching his lodgings and the school, nothing was found. The officers in charge told him that he did not encourage the children to be respectful enough to the soldiers as they were passing through the village the day before, and he should do better in future. These petty instances were enough to goad people into further acts of disloyalty.
There are many other instances. I know the chairman of a rural district council. He is a farmer, but he was not a member of the Sinn Fein association. His house was searched. He was put under arrest, and his two sons were arrested for the time being, and the only document in his possession was taken from him. He is one of the most highly respected gentlemen in that part of the country and is a magistrate by virtue of his office. We are told that martial law is only a name in Ireland. If it is only a name it is a very bad name. We are asked to stimulate the people of Ireland to fill up the gaps in the Irish regiments. Has the Government given us any quid pro quo? If we go back during the last century into the history of our unfortunate country, we shall find that we 662 were not living under a parental Government by any means. Our population has decreased by half. The industries which were in existence at the time of the Union are all but one or two wiped away. The country is devastated by emigration, and the Secretary for War stated this evening that he hesitated to give the figures of those who were found medically unfit as recruits, fearing hon. Members on these benches might be offended. No wonder that there are great numbers of men of military age in Ireland physically unfit for military service, because the bone and sinew of the country has been drained year after year in the emigrant ships to the States and other parts of the world.
Reference has been made to the treatment of political prisoners at Frongoch, and denials were made by Ministers as to their treatment as far as food and other matters are concerned. I have no faith whatever in replies given by right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench as regards these unfortunate prisoners. I have had considerable experience of the prisoners in Wandsworth. I have visited there on some occasions and the prisoners told me they were absolutely starved—so much so that I and some others were obliged to go outside and send them in food. I put questions on the matter to the Home Secretary, who denied that such was the case. I then asked for a return of the daily diet given to these prisoners and the right hon. Gentleman promised to send it to me but never did so. It is well known that these Irish prisoners have been treated much worse, at all events in the early stages, than convicts who were detained for serious crime.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
Is the hon. Member sure that I made any such promise?
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Is he not confusing me with the representative of the War Office? At that time the prisoners were in military custody.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The right hon. Gentleman promised to send me the daily diet allowed to these prisoners and I never got it. I came to the conclusion that he was ashamed of it.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I have no recollection of the circumstance. I think the hon. Mem- 663 ber must be thinking of one of my colleagues. They were not in my custody at that time.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
It was the right hon. Gentleman who promised to send me the daily diet. I did not get it and I know the reason why. You gave South Africa, immediately after a bloody war which cost £300,000,000, a whole-hearted measure of Home Rule. When this frightful European War took place the first thing that was done in South Africa was to rise up in rebellion. The rebellion was quashed, as everyone knew it could easily be quashed in Ireland—much more easily than it was. What is the result of martial law in Dublin? What is the result of Sir John Maxwell's regime? The shooting of these unfortunate young fellows, the young blood of the country, the young blood that was disappointed when the Bill which was passed through this House and actually became an Act of Parliament was not put into operation. They lost all faith in British statesmanship. It was history repeating itself. They flew to arms—the arms which were in their hands for the purpose of defending the Nationalists of the Midlands and South of Ireland from the threats of the Orangemen of the North. What claim has the British Government of the day that Ireland should go whole-heartedly and enthusiastically and give up the manhood of its country to the Army? What have they done? How much of this expenditure of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a day is spent in Ireland? Is the expenditure just a mere decimal? The circulation of money in England at present is extraordinary. To the workman, the shopkeeper, everyone, no matter in what part they live, the money is flowing in. Ireland, we are told, has never been in such a prosperous condition. In her one industry, agriculture, she gets £4 or £5 more per head for cattle, £1 more for sheep, and 5s. a bushel more for her corn. She is living in the lap of luxury. It is really childish to use arguments such as the Chief Secretary has brought forward as to the prosperity of the country. The one industry we have is going to be crushed out if the threat which is put forward by several leading English newspapers, and also by hon. Members on the benches above the Gangway, are put into operation, namely, that the manhood of the agricultural districts of Ireland is to be taken by force. If that is done, our country will revert to the grass fields and the barren districts of the 664 past. With respect to the manhood of the agricultural districts, I may say that in the district I come from there is not a single labouring man, farm labourer, who is physically fit for military service. I am sure that appertains to many other districts as well as to mine.
I am sorry that in his remarks the hon. and learned Member for Waterford did not go back further than the beginning of the War. I think there are many other reasons why the rebellion took place in Dublin in Easter week than those given by the hon. and learned Gentleman. We know very well that there would have been no Irish Volunteers, no National Volunteers in the middle and the South of Ireland, if the right hon. Member for Trinity College (Sir E. Carson) had not set the example and laid down the headlines. These young fellows in Dublin, these young dreamers as they have been called, or enthusiasts, call them what you like—I believe they were patriots, although mistaken—followed the headlines laid down by the right hon. Gentleman. There would have been no rebellion in Dublin had it not been for the arming of the Orangemen in the North to defy the British Constitution. Remember what the result of that arming was. The then Chief Secretary came to the conclusion that it was time to step in, and when the Army was about to be moved from the Curragh an incident occurred of a kind that had never occurred in the last two centuries. The military officers refused to obey orders, absolutely refused to obey the Government and to carry out the wish of the Executive. Now we are told that we were traitors and rebels, and everything that is wrong, so far as loyalty to the British Constitution is concerned. Goodness gracious, what have we to be loyal for? You have not carried out a single promise that was made previous to the War. Land purchase in Ireland is at a standstill. You spend £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a day on the War, but on the first Land Act for Ireland you can afford no more than £5,000,000. There is no reason in the world why land purchase in Ireland should not be completed in a very short time. Home Rule is on the Statute Book, but you have no trust in the people. When the War broke out you were anxious for a truce, but you could not trust the people of Ireland to manage their own affairs. What gratitude do we owe to the British Government, to go round scouring the country, north, south, 665 east, and west, to fill up the gaps in our gallant regiments who have fought? Ireland is on the debit side of the account until the Government redeems its position, and by the Government I mean until the Prime Minister has carried through the promises he has made, and which in every instance he has broken. I remember that the Prime Minister, on his visit to Dublin, at the invitation of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, addressed a very great meeting, an overflow meeting in the Theatre Royal, in Dublin. Those who were present, many of the old campaigners, many of the veterans of the Land League days, said they were proud to see a Home Rule Prime Minister, accompanied by the Leader of the Irish party, addressing a meeting in the capital of Ireland. What did the Prime Minister say on that occasion? He said that Ireland was a nation,' not two nations, and that, so far as any political strength he had went, and so far as any political influence, he had went, he would never recognise that Ireland could be divided or separated. A few months ago, however, he said in this House that he would never be a party to forcing any single portion of Ireland under Home Rule against its will. I think it was the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin) who pointed out in a very able speech this evening that there is no reform that was ever carried out in this country in regard to which the whole of the people were unanimous, or, rather, that no act of reform was refused to be carried out because the people were not unanimous. In any other country in the world, no matter how good a measure might be, no statesman would be silly enough to say, "I cannot accept this measure, because the whole of the people are not unanimous." That would be childish. I trust that now that this Debate has taken place, that whatever promise is made by any Minister, hon. Members here will not swallow it until they are sure that it is serious and meant to be carried out.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I think that all Members of this House who have listened to the greater part of this Debate, however they may approach this, the most difficult of subjects, would agree that it is in the public interests that this Debate should have taken place. I think that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, in the dignified and consummate expresson which he gave to the views held by himself and his colleagues in this House, 666 has been of great service, because he has made clear, to a degree far greater than was the case before, what is the view taken by the vast majority of the representatives of Ireland upon the events of the last two months. It is well that those views should be expressed and those feelings made known, even where others from a different point of view and under less acute emotional influences may not be able completely to agree with every turn of phrase or with the proportion or perspective of the arguments in every particular. And I think that this Debate and the expression of opinion from those benches cannot but have weight—weight greater than they appear at present to have in the answers from the Front Benches, and that they will have weight upon the immediate future of the government of Ireland. All of us who know my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary as well as I venture to say I do will be confident that whatever the limits of this answer to-day—and I for one regret deeply that those limits were as close as; they were—he cannot have listened unconcerned to what has fallen not only as legitimate rhetoric, but as the expression of facts from the Irish Benches, and that it must weigh with him in the advice which he gives and in the tone and temper of the administration for which he is so largely responsible.
Then I should like to say that I am one of those who are exceedingly sorry that the Government have not gone further than they have gone to-day in this Debate. It is very difficult for ordinary folk to follow the argument that if the Defence of the Realm Act is adequate for any exceptional measures or methods that may be required in Ireland there should be need for anything which may be called martial law as well. We know that in this country we live under the Defence of the Realm. Act and under restrictions and possibilities of administrative interference which in time of peace would be unendurable. It seems to me that the Government have not in this Debate explained why the Defence of the Realm Act, which is so far reaching, is not adequate even for the present state of Ireland with all the tumult of feeling and the dangerous tendencies which undoubtedly exist. I was sorry that I did not hear the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, but I understand that he welcomed suggestions as to how far the Defence of the Realm Act without any tinge of martial law will be adequate. I think that that is quite 667 right. But many of us in this House expect the Government to act upon the suggestions which they themselves only are competent to make and that we shall within a very short time find that the Defence of the Realm Act in itself is adequate for dealing with Ireland, and that these questions of the proclamation of martial law, which are more irritating to the feelings of the people than they are effective in administration, may come to an end.
I say that though there is at present to my mind and to the minds of most Members in this House the consciousness both of what has been suffered by those who took part in that unhappy and bitter rebellion and also what was suffered by the victims of that rebellion. There is this about armed risings, that you have suffering on both sides, and the sufferings on neither side can or ought to be forgotten if we are to keep clarity of vision and proper sound judgment as to what is to follow. No one who has supported during the years of manhood the claim of Ireland to self-government can look upon the present situation with anything but feelings of the greatest sorrow and the greatest anxiety. It is possible, as it seems to me it is right, for us to combine in our memories and in our minds horror and detestation of the crimes committed by those who rebel, and regret and censure for the want of judgment which has been shown in the details of the way in which Ireland has been governed after the rebellion was put down. It seems to me that if after a rebellion like that executions were bound and ought to follow they should follow promptly, and not go on day by day. It is our duty to combine horror of the rebellion and acquiescence in its being put down strongly and rigorously with the feeling that the rebellion, after all, is a symptom, and that the remedy of self-government has not as yet been tried. Those of us who have been pledged to that during all our lives are no less pledged to it now than we were in happier times.
So much do I venture to say on that. May I also say that I hope that this Motion will not be pressed to a Division. I hope it for this reason, that a Division upon this Motion will not give an accurate reflection of the opinions of Members of this House on a large part of the subject matter with which the Motion is concerned. Much of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford dealt 668 with what I can only call the ghastly series of military follies with regard to recruiting. We hope that so far as they are retrievable now they will be retrieved. But the rest of it, the operative part of the hon. Member's speech, like the operative part of the Resolution, dealt with the suggestion that the present government of Ireland was responsible for that rebellion. There are many of us who are sympathetic with Ireland who would be unable to accept that statement with the fulness and the bareness, if I may say so, in which it appears in the Resolution. This Resolution is a vote of censure upon the Government, and those who vote for a vote of censure must be taken to vote for its logical consequences. While I, for one, have already said how strongly I criticise and dislike the grave mistakes which have been made in Ireland under this Government, I am not, in the middle of a great European war, going to give a vote to turn out this Government, unless I am convinced that thereby we shall get one that is better. And I believe, even from the point of view of Ireland, that if this Government were to cease, its alternative would not be a better one, but a worse one, from the point of view so powerfully put from those benches, a point of view with which I have very considerable sympathy.
After all, the first thing is to beat Germany. Take this Government, or any other English Government, Liberal, Unionist, or what you like, and the little finger of Prussia is thicker than the loins of the worst English Government that ever misgoverned Ireland. Therefore, in giving a vote in this House, if we would preserve any sense of that large perspective which is imperative at a time like this, we must be governed and influenced, and I think we ought to be influenced by the effect not only upon Ireland itself, but upon the position and strength of this Government, which, for the time being, is in possession of the interests of the Empire, with which the permanent interests of Ireland are bound up. Therefore I hope that this Resolution, the ventilation of which I am confident has done good, and will do more good, will not be pressed to a Division. If it is, those who vote for it, will not represent the number of Members of this House who have an inextinguishable sympathy for Ireland. For those reasons I have ventured to speak for a few moments on this subject. I conclude by saying that I am confident 669 that this Debate will be a public service. I regret that the Government have not gone further, as it would be a wise thing to go further, in the direction of conciliation, and I hope that they will do so when they meditate on the facts made known to-day and on the temper of the people of Ireland.
§ Major NEWMAN
The hon. Member who has just sat down, towards the close of his speech, kept us on the tenderhooks as to whether he was going to vote at all, and he is very anxious that there should not be a Division. The hon. Member below the Gangway who spoke a few moments ago said that there was a great deal of hardship endured by the Irish prisoners interned at Frongoch. In regard to these charges which are made about our treatment of prisoners, I am perfectly sure, if we accused the Germans of ill-treating their prisoners, they would turn round and say, "How do you English treat your prisoners in Ireland?" Only a few days ago at Frongoch internment camp the interned prisoners had a course over which they did a 100 yards sprint in ten and three-quarter seconds, and they had hop, skip and jump, and other sports, and as to their being starved, I think the Home Secretary will have something to say on that. My hon. Friend the Member for Waterford rose this afternoon to propose his Resolution, and, when he did so, I thought he would tell us what he told his Waterford audience only a fortnight ago, namely, that the relations which we know exist between his party and the members of the Liberal party are now to be fundamentally altered. He told his Waterford audience, in very specific language—he was not quite so specific this afternoon—that these relations were to be altered in the future. In Waterford he was the lion; to-day he was something like the lamb, and he left the Member for West Belfast to tell the Prime Minister exactly what the Irish Nationalist party, the majority of them, think about the Government and about the right hon. Gentleman himself.
After all, it has taken the Irish Nationalist party some little time to make up their minds. We have been at war for twenty-seven months, and in that time a good many hundreds of gallant Irishmen have fallen for the Empire, while in that period a few scores have fallen in Dublin fighting on the side of the Germans. At the end of the twenty-seven months we find that the Nationalist party in Ireland are going to adopt towards this country 670 an attitude of benevolent neutrality. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford said he would do nothing to prevent the War being brought to a victorious conclusion. Of course, Members who represent English constituencies—and I represent one—have a party truce, and they can have no party meetings; but the Member for Waterford has an advantage which English Members do not enjoy, and in addressing his supporters at Waterford he used these words:Those very prosperous farmers, citizens, members of county councils, and peasant proprietors, have secured possession of their property, obtained for them out of public funds; labourers have decent houses and plots, also obtained out of public funds.Then he went on to talk about the priests, professors, and those who hold positions in the National University, and so forth. He told his constituents that from the date of his speech things were to be fundamentally altered, and the attitude of the average Irish Nationalist, be he farmer, priest, professor, or labourer, was going to be one of benevolent neutrality. It occurred to me that, as a matter of fact, during all the months of this great War, or the greater part of that time, these priests, professors, farmers, and labourers have held no other attitude than that of benevolent neutrality. They have never felt the strain or the evils attendant upon this great War. Has the War ever touched them or has it not? Every week I read a Nationalist paper which is published in my native county of Cork. That paper, to my mind, adopts an attitude which is one of absolutely correct neutrality. It puts the things of Ireland first and the things pertaining to the War second. Every week it is perfectly correct in its neutral attitude, and is a journal which might be printed in neutral Holland or Denmark. Take some of the headlines in that paper on 14th October. Ireland comes first, as I said, and we read: "Waterford's Welcome to Mr. Redmond," "Enthusiastic Reception from Plain Clothes Policemen," "Stirring Address," etc. Then further down, "Pig Buying at Ballybricken." In regard to the War, there are the headlines: "Western Allies Increase Their Gain," "Roumanians Heavily Attacked," "Desperate Fighting in the Balkans." These are the lines you see in this paper in the course of this great War. It is an Irish paper dealing with Irish affairs—a neutral paper, no more and no less.
Again, it is not only the farmers of Ireland, not only the professors and the 671 elderly men who are neutral. To my mind the youth of the country, the young men of military age, are perfectly neutral also. Their minds are not so much concerned with the War. They are full of sport and pleasure, and I have here a very vivacious account of a Gaelic athletic tournament, and a big hurling match between the counties of Cork and Tipperary. The vivacious chronicler describes how crowded trains go to the scene of this match on the Sunday morning, and with what pleasure they watch the proceedings. He depicts some of the players in such terms that evidently they have not been starved by the Home Secretary. But while all this is somewhat ludicrous and frivolous, at any rate, it represents what is happening in Ireland to-day. While the youth of Great Britain are interested in the great battles in France, scarcely 200 miles away, these youths in Ireland were fighting their game at hurling on that particular Sunday morning. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why should they not?"] There is no reason at all why they should not, simply because Ireland is a benevolent neutral country. They are prepared to amuse themselves while the youths of Great Britain are engaged in a sterner fight.
§ Major NEWMAN
I daresay the 400,000 small farmers in Ireland can contemplate with a certain amount of complacency the continuance of this War. A speaker below the Gangway controverted the statement made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland that Irish agriculture was prospering because of the War. Surely he cannot know anything about agriculture. What is the price of Irish creamery butter today? It is 200 shillings per cwt. When I was running a creamery in the South of Ireland a few years ago, if I got 90s. per cwt. I was very glad. What is the price of Irish store cattle to-day?
§ Major NEWMAN
A great deal more than I was a few years back. Recollect that these farmers to whom the hon. and learned Member for Waterford referred are freeholders; thanks to English money they own their own land, and they can go on getting these extra profits without anybody to raise their rents on them. As long as the grass grows they can feed 672 their store cattle, they can produce milk, and they can get big prices, and therefore they can speculate with complacency on the course of this War. I am, I hope, speaking for the majority of the House when I say let the Irish youth witness their Sunday hurling matches, let the Irish farmers go on making big profits, but let the Irish party in the House leave us at liberty to go on with this great War and not intrude these Debates upon us when we have far bigger things to deal with. To-morrow we shall debate the question of man-power on the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill. There are many questions which we want to bring up, for the discussion of which we need six days rather than one, and yet we are practically wasting one day to-day on this Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. I hope the hon. and learned Member will not press it to a Division. Should he do so, I shall have very great pleasure in voting against him, and I think the majority against him will be so big that we shall have no more Irish Debates, at any rate, for some time to come.
§ Mr. THOMAS
The hon. Member who represents my Constituency has just complained of the waste of Parliamentary time. He rather deprecates the idea that a day should be given to the discussion of this question, and he appears to forget that in the time he himself occupied he made a very little contribution to the solution of this particular question. But what is more unfortunate is this: Whatever views one may express about the government of Ireland, there certainly ought not to be two opinions as to the magnificent sacrifices the gallant Irish regiments have already made. I could conceive of nothing so calculated to dispirit and cause a feeling of absolute resentment amongst those who are already in the Army than the kind of lecture to the Irish people to which we have just listened. I rise for the purpose of dealing with another phase entirely of the question. I have just returned from Ireland. I went there because I was assured that, so far as the workers were concerned, they were in revolt. I make no apology for saying that whatever the condition of things may be, I have never hesitated to give my men advice against stoppage. I went to Ireland because I was assured that the men there had already tendered their notices, and were 673 determined to strike. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where!"] In Dublin and in Cork, and practically over the whole of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway. If it is to be assumed that Irish railwaymen are without any interest, I would only remind hon. Members of this, that the real Larkinism which got to be connected with the recent rebellion could, to a very large extent, be traced to the dispute in Ireland which was taken up by the transport workers on this side of the Channel, and whatever hon. Gentleman may say, they are faced with the fact that the spirit of comradeship that exists is such that a stoppage in Ireland will complicate and hamper the whole situation on this side. The Gentleman who represents me may deal with things that he knows something about. I am dealing with something that I know about. I repeat, and it cannot be denied, that immediately the Irish dispute broke out Liverpool was in revolt, and that was the cause of the whole trouble before. It is because that trouble arose I went to Ireland. What did I find? I found, first, that there were, not one or two, but hundreds and hundreds of men, with families, working on the railways for 14s., 15s., and 16s. a week. Hundreds of them were getting 13s. 9d. or 14s. 9d., and 16s. was a high figure. It would be useless to waste time in arguing what would be the position of these men. The increased cost of living, which is as much in Dublin as it is in London, with this rate of wages rendered the position of these men absolutely intolerable. It is only fair to say that there is this peculiar difference as compared with the English situation—that we met some of the Irish railway companies and they did not dispute the justice of the men's case. Directors and general managers stated boldly to me last week, "We are not going to argue with you about our men's conditions. We are prepared to admit that it is an intolerable position, and that it is something which we absolutely deplore, but we put it to you that, so far as we are concerned, we cannot get blood out of a stone." In other words, the financial position of many of the railway companies in Ireland is such that I, although speaking for the men, frankly admit that they cannot possibly even improve the position. That is a state of things that wants remedying, because when we met the men at night they had given their notice. They said, "We are going to stop work." We said to them, "We have 674 told the railway companies that, and we beg of you not to stop." Their answer was, "Why should you expect us to continue under conditions of this kind?"
I submit to the Chief Secretary that, apart entirely from any question of Home Rule or better government, there is sound administrative work that can be done in Ireland. I believe that some of these railway companies have a legitimate grievance against the Government. I believe, for instance, that the Dublin South-Eastern Company are entitled to come to the Government and say, "A Royal Commission has reported in favour of the Government doing something for the coast erosion which ruins our railway and prevents our paying the men what we ought to pay them." That is a claim on the part of the railway company which the Chief Secretary himself ought to look into. After all, there is another factor in connection with this. Those who have had an opportunity of discussing the recent rebellion with those who were bitterly opposed to it, assure me that whatever may be said about the so-called Sinn Feiners, they were, after all, idealists, and it was not they who were so much responsible for the real rebellion as the industrial element that came in after. I was assured by many of these people that there would have been no possible danger about the first section, but they were determined and controlled absolutely by the second, and the second was animated by the wretched social conditions of the people. I believed when Larkin first started his crusade in Ireland there was danger, and I said so; because I took the view that any leader of men who said "To hell with contracts!" was a danger to the man as well as to the community. I said so, and I took a stand in fighting him. But the answer I got then is the answer that comes from the people to-day—that their social conditions are due entirely to mismanagement, and they want them altered. Knowing that many other Members desire to take part in the Debate, I limit myself to these few words. I believe the position is serious, that it ought to be dealt with, and that it can be dealt with. I am satisfied that unless it is dealt with there will be trouble in Ireland which must inevitably spread to this side of the Channel, with disastrous results to all concerned.
§ Mr. DILLON
The speech delivered by the Chief Secretary and still more that delivered by the Prime Minister will cause intense disappointment and deep irritation in Ireland. I say this not because they refuse to put Home Rule immediately into operation, but because they refuse to give the smallest indication of any move whatever in the direction of getting away from the impasse and the intolerable situation which now exists. I do not know that the House has ever listened to a more extraordinary statement than that which came from the Prime Minister himself. For the second or third time he declared that martial law in Ireland has no real existence at all and has never been used. He stated to-day, after all these months, that, so far as he knows, martial law has never been put into operation in Ireland. Then, in the name of common sense, why is it not repealed. I put this view of the case to hon. Members above the Gangway on this side. Martial law carries with it in foreign countries the gravest possible impression of the condition of the country to which it is applied. Whatever may be its merits or however it is administered, when a country is under martial law, especially a country subject to the rule of Great Britain, which always holds up its head, whether justly or unjustly, as the champion of liberty in the world, every foreign country believes that that country must be in a condition of revolt. Therefore, I ask the House, can they give any explanation of the attitude of the Prime Minister, who declares that martial law is only a name in Ireland, that it has no real existence, that it has never been used, and that it is simply a precaution? I can easily understand the eloquence of the denunciation that would come from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman. I can easily conceive the denunciation that would come from his lips, or from the lips of any of the Ministers if the Prussians had taken up a stand like that. What would have been said if the Prussians had applied martial law to Alsace and Lorraine at the time of the Zabern incident? The Press of this country would have been ringing with denunciations of German brutality. Yet here you apply martial law to a country which, by the admission of the statesmen who have spoken on this subject, was twenty to one against the rebellion. Because a small minority of the country entered into this wild and insane revolt the whole country in every part has been subjected to martial law. Really, 676 I take that in the first instance as a symptom of the attitude, the wholly irreconcilable attitude, adopted by the Chief Secretary and by the Prime Minister in response to the appeal of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. Then comes the next request that the untried prisoners, numbering 570, should be released. What excuse have the Government given? They have attempted no kind of excuse for their refusal to meet us on this point.
Two thousand men were arrested in arms and brought over to this country. The Prime Minister asked us whether we were in favour of sending these men for trial before a court-martial. Certainly not! Many of these men, hundreds undoubtedly, were taken in arms. Hundreds more were quite innocent. They were found to be innocent. Hundreds more were arrested simply because they were supposed to be sympathisers. Hundreds of them have been taken in arms, and the feeling in Ireland was—and that feeling spread even to the Government—that the wiser policy was not to enforce punishment by court-martial against this vast body of men, even those who surrendered in arms. Even now what has been done. One thousand two hundred and fifty or 1,300 of these men have been released. Of these many hundreds were taken in arms, many hundreds who actually surrendered at the Post Office, at Jacob's, and at the different rebel strongholds in Dublin. For some inscrutable reason you are detaining 560, of whom, to my own knowledge, many are far more innocent than those who have been released. This keeps up a perpetual boiling of irritation in Ireland, and you may dismiss from your mind any idea that you will make even a beginning of improvement in the situation in Ireland so long as you hold these men in gaol.
I come to the third request made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Waterford, that was—that those who are detained in penal servitude should be treated as political prisoners. These men are men of education. They are not criminals in the ordinary sense of the word. They are men whom you may condemn very strongly, but they are men whose whole lives have been consecrated not only, and really less, to war upon Great Britain than to war upon us. These men are almost more embittered enemies to our movement than they are to the connection with this country. Their main object—and it is well known to every 677 Irishman who is present and hears me—their main and avowed object was to keep out Home Rule. That is not a charge against them, because they openly avowed it. They regarded the constitutional movement as a most dangerous and objectionable movement in Ireland. They were perfectly frank about it. I know some of these prisoners very well. They always said, "If Home Rule succeeds there is a danger that the Irish will be reconciled to the English connection, and will become loyal to the Empire." Therefore, I believe and I am convinced that that was one of the great objects amongst many which induced them to embark upon this wild and mad enterprise in which the more instructed of them had not the slightest hope of success. One of the leaders, whom you shot, said to a friend of mine shortly before the insurrection that it would be worth a hopeless insurrection to save the soul of Ireland by killing the imposture of Home Rule. That was their ambition. That was the ambition of many of these leaders. They were proud of it. They were educated men. They were idealists. They believed honestly in their cause. Let me ask hon. Members who were very severe upon me for saying a good word for these men in an hour when passion ran very high whether they can recall to themselves what took place the other day on the Italian front? The deputy from the Trentino who had sat in the Reichsrath of Austria for years and presumably had taken the oath of allegiance more than once to the Emperor of Austria, and was a subject of that Crown, deserted when the War broke out. He enlisted in the ranks of the Italians. The Austrians captured him wounded the other day and shot him as a traitor. They believed he was a traitor—a double traitor—because he had sworn the oath of allegiance to the Emperor of Austria. That man's name was held in honour in this country from end to end as a martyr and patriot. All Italy has honoured him. I want to know, if you admit the honesty and honour of these men in Dublin who fought in this rebellion, what is the difference between them in point of moral guilt and the Italian who fought for his country and cause and broke his oath of allegiance?
§ Mr. DILLON
It was something very like war. Would you consider a Englishman and a Member of this House who went and fought for Prussia less a traitor because it was war? Does that do away with it? What would you think of a man who broke his oath after he had sworn at that table to be loyal because he had some foreign blood in his veins? All I ask for is for better treatment of these men. They are educated men. There is John MacNeill who really did his utmost to prevent the insurrection. He is a professor of Irish. He is supposed to be, and I believe he is—though I am not a judge—the finest Celtic scholar now in Ireland. Do you not know perfectly well that in treating as common convicts you are at variance with the settled practice of all modern civilised States?
§ Mr. DILLON
Yes, you are. No modern civilised State treats political prisoners as common convicts. England occupies an unenviable pre-eminence in this matter. It is a modern pre-eminence. If you read the history of England you will find that up till 1848, when a special law was passed to deal with the Irish political prisoners of that date, in the rebellion in which my own father was involved—it was passed specially to degrade Irish political prisoners—up till then all political prisoners in this country were treated on a totally different basis from ordinary criminals, and had privileges such as we ask for these men. I say again that you are maintaining the bitterest spirit in Ireland as long as these men are treated as common convicts, and not treated as political prisoners and as they would be treated in France, or Italy, or any other country on the Continent under similar circumstances. Here are three demands which in no conceivable way can interfere with the maintenance of law and order in Ireland. Lord Lansdowne has been quoted. The idea of Lord Lansdowne, in his famous speech, reconciling Ireland! You have 40,000 troops in the country. You have the Defence of the Realm Act, which, God knows, is enough to curtail the liberty of any people. You have the constabulary. You have got a Unionist Government in force.
I say that if there is to be any light at all thrown during the War on the future of Ireland, the time has come when some beginning ought to be made towards an improvement, and some effort towards eliciting from the people some response 679 which would perhaps tend to open the door to further advance. And here to-night, after the powerful and, I hoped, irresistible appeal of the hon. Member for Waterford, we were met by a blank, unsympathetic non possumus, and the Chief Secretary, whose good intentions I fully recognise, although an old political enemy of ours, and a very strong enemy of Home Rule, appears to be under the delusion that by giving Ireland a sufficient dose of martial law you will in generate peace and good will in that country, get recruits, and render the people enthusiastic in throwing themselves into this War. He little understands the Irish people. If it is his fate to remain there a little longer his eyes will be opened, and it is no wonder that some of the men on our benches should think that the Kildare Street Club is really the inspiring institution in the present government of Ireland. The Prime Minister on this day week, in opening the Debate on the Vote of Credit, made one of the most powerful speeches to which I have ever listened. In the early days of the War those appeals he made awoke as warm response on these benches as they did in any other part of this House, and it was a generous and an honest response. But on Wednesday last, although I thought as I listened to it that it was perhaps the most eloquent speech to which I had ever listened since the War began, we were cold and unmoved, and is it any wonder, particularly when we listened to the concluding portion of that speech? He spoke of the great sacrifices all had made in this country for the War. He said:We give it without stint, without regret, but only as the price by which the world will purchase and surely hold in the years to come protection for the weak, supremacy of right over force, free development under equal conditions, and each in accordance with its own genius, of all the States, great or small, which build up the family of civilised mankind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th October, 1916, col. 104.]That is a splendid appeal, but it fell on our ears, and it awoke no response, because we could not help thinking of our own country, and feeling that in this magnificent picture of the future mission of England, which I myself for years had nursed as the highest ideal to which this country could possibly look forward to be the champion of liberty all over the world, and to have the feeling that you have succeeded in planting in South Africa, in Australia, and in Canada, wherever the British flag floats, there comes liberty in its train and under its shadow, but that 680 Ireland—Ireland alone should be banished from that prospect.
What security have we, what reason have we to hope after what has happened, after spilling the blood of the bravest and best of our land in this War, that we shall share in the great harvest that you look forward to? No; Ireland is to be cast aside, and the principles which were so nobly and so eloquently set forth by the Prime Minister as the object of this War are to have no application to Ireland, and her rights are not to be recognised. She is not one of the small nations of the earth to be set free by this War. Then came the Leader of the Labour party. He also made a good speech. He said:There can be no doubt that the traditional freedom and liberty of the past are reflected in the conduct and valour of our soldiers at the front to-day. It is because we are a free country and have built upon that tradition that our soldiers have proved their worth, as they have done during the present campaign."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th October, 1916, col. 108.]I quite agree. What is the tradition of our past? We had no tradition of a past of liberty or freedom. We built only on hope, and even building only on the hope of the future we really have made no contemptible contribution to this War. I listened to the hon. Member who calls himself an Irishman, representing an English constituency, who never misses an opportunity to throw discredit and dirt on Ireland. Talk about Ireland's benevolent neutrality! Were we neutral when we saved the French from defeat at Guinchy and Guillemont? Were we neutral at Gallipoli when the best of our Irish blood was shed owing to the incapacity of your generals? These speeches leave upon us a horrible feeling when you ask us to forget the sacrifices we have made.
The action of the Government to-night, and its action when the agreement which was come to was broken by the Government, has made it impossible for us to answer the question which is so often put to us in Ireland, "What are you fighting for?" That is the question which is put to us when we go to our constituents. When we talk about Belgium, Serbia, or the liberty of small nations, we are met by the question, "Where does Ireland come in?" and we find it extremely difficult to answer that question. Let me turn for a moment to the remarkable phenomena on the Notice Paper of the House of Commons, where there is a Motion in the names of no less than ten hon. Members of the party above the Gangway endorsing the Report of the Hardinge Commission as to 681 the causes of the Irish rebellion, and they claim an opportunity for discussing that question. That request comes from hon. Gentlemen who now find fault with us for raising the Irish question, although they clamorously insisted upon raising the Irish question in order to move a Resolution endorsing the scandalous Report of this Commission, and now, when an opportunity has been offered by the Irish party, who have not been afraid to face this question, not a single Member of the party above the Gangway attempts to defend the Report of the Hardinge Commission. That is a matter which is worth taking note of. There are some interesting things in the Report of that Commission, and one deals with the history and progress of the Sinn Fein movement, as given by Sir Neville Chamberlain, the head of the Irish Police. I will not go into that question now, but I would recommend hon. Members who honestly desire to get light from the Irish question to read that Report, which has been made by a man who is hostile to us politically, and who has been at the head of the Irish Constabulary for many years. It will be found that the Sinn Fein movement, although represented as an economic movement, was in reality under the control of men who were avowedly enemies of the British connection. That has been the chief characteristic of the whole movement. They were avowedly bitter enemies of the constitutional movement, and, above all, of our party.
I want to put this question: Would any of you make the inquiry as to who financed the Sinn Fein movement in its early days? I venture to say that any man sitting on those benches who could really obtain the books, if they exist, and find out who financed the Sinn Fein movement in its early days would receive an ugly shock of surprise. There is in reality a party in Ireland which we always describe as the "Ascendancy Party," whose policy for one hundred years has unwaveringly and unremittingly been to foster and keep up bad blood between the Irish and English people. These gentlemen have on more than one occasion encouraged rebellion in Ireland, because they know perfectly well that rebellion works for them and kills constitutional movements in Ireland, and constitutional movements are the only things which they dread. The Sinn Fein movement was patronised by the Unionists, actively patronised by the Unionsts, and, in my opinion, subsidised by Unionists, in its early days. [Laughter.] Do not laugh before you have 682 inquired into the matter. Why was it? Because they regarded it as an efficient weapon with which to strike the Irish party and the constitutional movement for Home Rule—the only thing which they really feared. Then there is another question about the history of the Sinn Fein movement. I remember an Irish official asking me this question: "Can you explain to me, Mr. Dillon, how it comes to pass that there is not a public office in Ireland in which there are not a good many Sinn Feiners?" Now, there was a Commission sent over to try them, and, in my opinion, they are being treated most unjustly, because for years and years it was the case that the Sinn Feiners were encouraged and petted in the public offices in Dublin. There was not a single public office in which they were not encouraged in their propaganda, and now, because the movement has developed up to the point at which it did the other day, they are turned upon, and even men who in my own knowledge had no connection with the insurrection are being most unjustly dismissed from these offices. Would it not have been an interesting thing if this great Commission which was sent over had taken the trouble to inquire into and get some explanation of these facts, and to really ascertain how it was that the Sinn Fein movement came to be the power that it was. Of course, their object, like Major Price, was, if possible to incriminate the Irish party. They think now that they have the Irish party crushed, and with the greatest possible confidence, and with considerable exultation, it has been stated in this House and by Lord Midleton in the House of Lords that if there were an election to-morrow we should all lose our seats, and there would not be a single Nationalist returned for the southern provinces. I believe the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) has endorsed that view.
§ Mr. T. M. HEALY
That statement is false. I have not opened my mouth either publicly or privately since the House rose, because I have not thought it worth my while.
§ Mr. DILLON
We have been told by an innumerable body of men that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) dare not show his nose in Waterford, and that if there were an election he would be beaten by two to one. That, of course, has been shown to be 683 untrue. I am in favour of being perfectly frank in these matters, and I say frankly that the Irish party had got a very severe shock, and that during the summer undoubtedly our power and influence in the country was enormously shaken. But why did we get such a severe shock? Why was the popularity and power of the Irish party in Ireland shaken? Because we had strained to the utmost our hold on our followers in Ireland in endeavouring to support the Government in this War. That is the fact, and supposing it were true that these prophets were to be justified and that when the next election comes, whenever that may be, the Irish party were to disappear and their power to be destroyed and that we were to lose our seats, does any man in this House really believe that it would make any considerable advance towards a settlement of the Irish question? I do not think it would. I think you would then find that you were in a much worse position than you ever were in before. In pursuance of what I have been just saying, I will ask you to consider for a moment what was the condition of Ireland on the eve of the War. You had the Ulster Volunteers in the North and you had the National Volunteers in the South, and the National Volunteers, as everybody who has looked into the history of the question knows, were organised in the first instance and for some time controlled by the men who led this insurrection. In the month of June, 1914, two months before War broke out, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and I myself and a few others made up our minds that it was absolutely essential to the peace of Ireland and the success of the constitutional movement to secure the control of the Volunteers, and we took steps to get control of the Volunteers and we succeeded. But the "Irish Times," the organ of the Southern Unionists, the organ of the party for whom Lord Midleton and Lord Lansdowne speak, opposed us most furiously, and said it would be the greatest misfortune if Mr. Redmond and his colleagues were to succeed in taking out of the hands of The O'Rahilly and Mr. John MacNeill the control of the gallant Irish Volunteers. At that time the Volunteers numbered 60,000, and they subsequently rose to be 140,000. If we had been defeated by the "Irish Times," which in article after article of the bitterest kind backed up the 684 Sinn Fein leaders, whom they knew well to be revolutionaries, against us, what would have been the nature of the rebellion you would have had to face in Ireland?
We know perfectly well when the rebellion did come 30,000 of those volunteers were fighting for you in France, and of those who remained in Ireland the vast majority remained loyal to this country and to the policy of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, and offered to place their services, for what they were worth; and they had very few arms, at the disposal of the authorities. But if we had allowed, as the "Irish Times" determinedly struggled to secure, the whole of the Irish Volunteers to remain under the control of the O'Rahilly and Mr. John MacNeill, I venture to say that the rebellion in Ireland would have been a different matter from what it was as a matter of fact. While all that is true we never obtained the smallest assistance or encouragement from the Government in the efforts we made to recruit and to secure the sympathy of the people for the Army in this War. I need not go over the ground that has been so powerfully put by the hon. Member for Waterford, but it is true that from the hour the War broke out every obstacle that could be put in our path was put in our path by the War Office, and every humiliation and rebuff that could be inflicted on us was inflicted on us. There is one thing the hon. Member for Waterford did not remember to think of. After the War broke out we went to the War Office to Lord Kitchener, on 6th August, 1914, and we went for the purpose of offering to Lord Kitchener our co-operation in every possible way to get him recruits. That was the occasion upon which he said to the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, "If you will give me 5,000 men from Ireland, I will say 'Thank you,' and if you will give me 12,000, I will say that I am deeply obliged." For an hour the hon. and learned Member for Waterford explained to Lord Kitchener the measures which he had thought out in order to secure Irish recruits. Every single one of them Lord Kitchener scornfully rejected. I did not take part in the conversation, but towards the close this is what passed: I said to Lord Kitchener: "I hope you will pardon me for saying so, but you have been living a long way from Ireland, and I see clearly that you do not understand the country or the people." Lord Kitchener turned upon me and said: "Mr. Dillon, I understand 685 everything about Ireland." I said immediately: "I can do no more." We then left the War Office.
When we got over to Dublin we endeavoured to get into communication with General Friend. For three months General Friend was forbidden to speak to us. According to our information, until the Cabinet overruled Lord Kitchener, he would not let General Friend, the Commander of the Forces in Ireland, speak to us. Yet we were expected to aid in recruiting ! The whole of the recruiting machinery in the country was placed in the hands of a set of broken-down ex-land agents, whose idea of recruiting was to go about haranguing farmers in Ireland, calling them a set of cowards, sneaks, and shirkers. They were men who a few years ago were engaged in evictions and in coercion. That was the way in which it was supposed that the Irish people could be got to be enthusiastic over recruiting. The chairman of my party and the hon. Member for West Belfast have told the story about officers. Take the Ulster Division. There was not one Catholic in the officers of the Ulster Division. They would not admit a Catholic private. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not true."] I believe they were asked to sign the Covenant. In the Connaught Rangers and the Munster Fusiliers, in fact, in the whole Irish Division, 95 per cent. of the men were Irish Catholics and Nationalists, while 85 per cent. of the officers, including the higher officers, were Unionists and Protestants. I went down myself to Aldershot, where I was entertained at mess by the Connaught Rangers. What did I find there? The president of the mess was one of the street orators of an hon. Member for Belfast. He entertained me most kindly and hospitably. A nice, young Englishman from Dorsetshire told me he had tried to raise a troop of horse to go over and assist the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) in the Ulster rebellion. The president of the mess, an exceedingly nice, hospitable man, said: "Mr. Dillon, war brings strange nest-fellows. I have spent the last three years in denouncing you and all your party at the street corners of Manchester." I am not saying a word against the officers. When our Division was sent out they got to be good friends of our men. Was that the way to arouse recruiting? It was manifest that there was a set, deliberate purpose to impress upon the Irish Nationalists that they were very food for powder, 686 good missile troops, the best missile troops in the Army, as Colonel Repington was forced unwillingly to admit the other day in the columns of the "Times." [An HON. MEMBER: "Why unwillingly?"] Because Colonel Repington is a great enemy of Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Well, I withdraw that. I was exceedingly proud of his admission, and I was more proud to think it was unwilling. But it is cruel, at a time like this, not to make some concessions to men who are really anxious to be friends and who are met in this way all along the line. The hour is approaching now when we must go to a Division, but there is one thing that I cannot deny myself—[Interruption]—I had no notice that the Government were going to reply.
§ Mr. DILLON
These lines were written by Tom Kettle shortly before he died, and really they are worthy of consideration:Bond, from the toil of hate we may not cease;Free, we are free to be your friend.And when you make your banquet, and we come,Soldier with equal soldier must we sit,Closing a battle, not forgetting it.With not a name to hide,This mate and mother of valiant 'rebels' deadMust come with all her history on her head.We keep the past for pride;No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb;No rawest squad of all Death's volunteers,No rudest men who diedTo tear your flag down in the bitter years,But shall have praise, and three times thrice again,When at the table men shall drink with men.Kettle went to France though he was a bitter Nationalist and was brought up in the hatred of England. He died gallantly fighting in your war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Our war !"] It is not. It is a French war and a Russian war. He died because he believed in the justice of the War and its ideals, but I know from his friends that there was a terrible bitterness in his soul for some weeks before he died because he had no assurance that justice would be done to Ireland.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The hon. Member has sat down recalling to the House the memory of one whom many of us knew and greatly esteemed, who laid down his life in this War. But let us remember that he is only one of many thousands of Irishmen who have done that. I share the regret of the hon. Member that the House should have had addressed to it a speech such as that which preceded his from the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Newman) suggesting that Ireland adopted in this 687 War the attitude of a neutral country, and had lifted no finger to help the Empire in her need. Ireland has sent from her own shores 170,000 soldiers to help the Empire in this conflict, besides the scores of thousands who have gone from Great Britain and from other portions of the British Dominions. I regret that the House should have heard a speech of a tone calculated to maintain ill-feeling, and to arouse in the minds of Irishmen resentment and bitter indignation.
Before dealing with some of the wider aspects that are raised by this Debate, I would like briefly to refer to one or two matters which specially relate to the Department with which I have the honour to be connected. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) has said, very truly, to-day, in an interjection, that I have the task—and I can assure him and the House that it is a most distasteful one—of acting as the gaoler of these Irish prisoners.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I have taken special pains to have inspections made regarding the conditions at Frongoch. On three occasions the camp has been thoroughly inspected, twice by the Home Office and the third time by a sanitary expert of the Royal Army Medical Corps, and each report, of a detailed character, made to me has been most favourable as to the conditions of the camp. The men interned there have the opportunity every day, through their camp leader, appointed by themselves, to make complaints to the commandant.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
The commandant is a man well qualified to deal with these matters. Many suggestions and specific complaints which have been made and addressed to me in this House in the form of questions and in other ways are based on information which I have no doubt that hon. Members believe is correct, but which is totally unfounded. For example, it is suggested that the men are fed upon black bread which is, in fact, uneatable. The suggestion was made in a question placed upon the Order Paper of this House. There is not a word of truth in it. The men are fed on bread precisely the same as that supplied to all 688 internment camps, and which is also eaten by the officers and the soldiers in the camps. It has been suggested that the men are yoked to wagons and compelled to draw heavy loads to and from the quarries. No such incident or anything in the least degree like it has ever taken place.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Again, it has been said by the hon. Member who interrupts me so often that the men have also been punished for refusing to work in the quarries. They were offered work in the quarries under conditions which they were not prepared to accept. They were perfectly within their right in that refusal, and no penalty of any sort or kind was ever thought of being imposed.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
I have not made inquiry, so I cannot say. I had not heard of it until this afternoon, when the hon. Member mentioned it in the course of Debate. The hon. Member has very freely made accusations in regard to the management of this camp; every one has been examined, and every one has been found to be utterly baseless.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
With respect to the diet, it is exactly the same as in other internment camps throughout the country, and it is generally recognised to be ample and sufficient. As for the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Healy)—whose discourtesy reflects more discredit on him than it causes inconvenience to me—his accuracy may be gauged by one incident. He lent the weight of his authority to a suggestion in this House that this camp at Frongoch had been condemned by the American Embassy when it was a camp for interned Germans. That statement, with his name, went throughout Ireland, 689 and I have no doubt was widely believed by thousands of those who, naturally not knowing the hon. and learned Member so well as we do, thought that he would not make an accusation of that kind without having some foundation on which to base it. I challenge him to say whether he has any scrap of foundation for that assertion. On the contrary, I have letters here on the Table from the American Embassy who inspected the camp at the time it was used for the internment of Germans, speaking in the highest terms of the suitability of the camp for the purposes of internment, and saying that it is one of the best camps in the country. It is a confidential report which I cannot lay upon the Table of the House, but if the hon. and learned Member cares to see it I shall have great pleasure in forwarding it to him. With respect to the treatment of these men at Frongoch generally, they are not kept in confinement. They move freely about the camp. They are allowed to have visits, letters, newspapers, and books, and I venture to say that they are treated more leniently than any political prisoners ever have been treated before following a rebellion or a political disturbance. The alternative, hon. Members say, is that they should have been sent to trial. In that event they would have been sent before a court-martial, and I have very little reason to doubt that the fate which would have befallen them would have been far more severe than that to which they have been subjected.
In reference to the cases of those who have been sentenced to penal servitude, I have carefully examined the precedents in regard to men who have been convicted of so-called political offences, offences arising out of political movements in recent times, and I could find no precedent—after the most careful inquiry—for these men "being treated on a different footing.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
But I have been able to allow certain special visits to these men. They are not mixed with other prisoners in these convict prisons, but they work and keep together separately. Not only that, but I have made arrangements for them to have additional supplies of books of a technical and educational character, including books in the Irish language.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
With regard to this question generally, I would remind the House that, after all, rebellion is a very grave crime. When speaking of the position of these men we cannot forget the seventeen young British officers who were killed in Dublin and the forty-six who were wounded, the eighty-six soldiers of the ranks who were killed, the 311 who were wounded, the two officers and twelve men of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were killed, the twenty-three who were wounded, the three men of the Dublin Metropolitan Police who were killed and the three who were wounded—
§ Mr. SAMUEL
We cannot forget the suffering that has fallen upon so many of the citizens of Dublin. If offences of that kind were too easily excused they would be, in the future perhaps, too lightly undertaken. We have released more than two-thirds of the men who were originally interned at Frongoch, and those who are still interned have been adjudged by an Advisory Committee, consisting of two judges and four Members of this House, to be men who should properly be continued to be interned. Nevertheless, we are willing to release a considerable number of those who are still there on receiving an assurance that they will not again engage in rebellion—at all events during the period of the War. Surely that is not a very hard-hearted or stern attitude. But wholesale amnesty, throwing open the doors and setting them all free, is a matter which must necessarily depend upon the condition of Ireland as a whole.
I have only a few moments left to refer to the subject of the Debate generally. I agree for my own part with very much of what we have heard from the Irish Benches to-day. With regard to the fundamental contention of the Members from Ireland, that the ills of Ireland can never be settled until Ireland has self-government, I cannot answer it, because, in my view, it is unanswerable. They are right to say that the Irish question will never be settled until it is settled on a basis of self-government. They are right to say that the glory of the Empire lies in the freedom of its several parts. They are right to say that the national spirit of Ireland, 691 rightly directed, will be not a weakness but a strength to the Empire. The national spirit of Canada and the spirit of Australia are not a weakness but a strength to the Empire. It is the variety of national characteristics which really makes the richness of the whole. Hon. Members speaking to-day, and who made eloquent speeches, have never once touched the real obstacle. They say, "If this is your view, why do you not give us our freedom?" It is Ulster that blocks the way. The Home Rule Act has been placed upon the Statute Book, but it has been made abundantly clear that it would not be regarded as a complete solution of the question, and that it could not be brought into operation without an amending Bill. The Buckingham Palace Conference broke down on the question of area. That was overcome in the negotiations conducted by the Secretary of State for War. But when we came to draft our Bill we found that there was no real agreement on the question of time. The great bulk of the people of Ireland were not prepared to accept a scheme which did not involve the automatic inclusion at some period of the six counties of Ulster. On the other hand, the six counties of Ulster refused to accept any scheme which did involve such automatic inclusion. I conclude with these few words: Are Irish Members prepared to leave out the six counties until they are ready to come in? No. If not, are they ready to wait for Home Rule until the six counties are willing to be included? No. If neither of these, are they prepared to coerce
§ Ulster? The answer is, No. It has again and again been given by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and others of his colleagues that they are not prepared to contemplate armed coercion in Ireland. If they are not willing to leave Ulster out until she is ready to come in, and if they are not prepared to wait for Home Rule until Ulster is ready to come in, then what is their proposal? That is the difficulty which those of us in the Government and in this House, who earnestly desire to secure a satisfactory settlement of the Irish question—that is the dilemma in which we are placed. The most hopeful word spoken today was spoken by the hon. Member for West Belfast, who said that so far as he was concerned, he would be only too glad if Irish Members of different views would meet together with a view to overcoming the difficulties that are still outstanding. The Government would be only too glad, as everyone knows, if that could be. Then I think we might have some prospect that Ireland in this War would march wholeheartedly, not only with Great Britain, but also with France and Italy, the other great democracies of the West, in the conflict to which the attention of this House must hour by hour be directed. In every speech that is made, and every vote that is given in the Division which is just about to take place, the continuing of the waging of that conflict every Member of the House must have in view.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 106; Noes, 303.695
|Division No. 60.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, William||Field, William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Fitzgibbon, John||Lundon, Thomas|
|Anderson, W. C.||Fitzpatrick, John Lalor||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Arnold, Sydney||Flavin, Michael Joseph||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Gilbert, J. D.||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Ginnell, Laurence||McGhee, Richard|
|Boland, John Pius||Glanville, Harold James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Graham, Edward John||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Meagher, Michael|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hackett, John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Byrne, Alfred||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Molloy, Michael|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||Mooney, John J.|
|Cordon, Thomas Joseph||Hazleton, Richard||Morrell, Philip|
|Cosgrave, James||Hogge, James Myles||Murphy, Martin J.|
|Crumley, Patrick||John, Edward Thomas||Nolan, Joseph|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jowett, Frederick William||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Dillon, John||Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Donovan, John Thomas||Keating, Matthew||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Doris, William||Kilbride, Denis||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Duffy, William J.||Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry||O'Dowd, John|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Grady, James|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lardner, James C. R.||O'Malley, William|
|Ffrench, Peter||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Rowntree, Arnold||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|O'Shee, James John||Scanlan, Thomas||Watt, Henry A.|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Sherwell, Arthur James||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Outhwaite, R. L.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Stanton, Charles Butt||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Sutton, John E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Reddy, Michael||Thomas, J. H.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Thome, William (West Ham)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Tootill, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Patrick O'Brien and Captain Donelan.|
|Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Cowan, William Henry||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Craig, Colonel James (Down, E.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Craik, Sir Henry||Hume-Williams, William Ellis|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Currie, George W.||Hunt, Major Rowland|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Armitage, Robert||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Illingworth, Albert H.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Astor, Waldorf||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)|
|Baird, J. L.||Oavies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jackson, Sir John (Devonport)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Denniss, E. R. B.||Jacobson, Thomas Owen|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London)||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Duke. Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Jessel, Colonel Herbert M.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Edge, Captain William||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Barrie, H. T.||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Falconer, James||Kerry, Earl of|
|Beach, William F. H.||Fell, Arthur||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert|
|Bentham, G. J.||Fletcher, John Samuel||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Forster, Henry William||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A.|
|Bird, Alfred||Foster, Philip Staveley||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||France, Gerald Ashburner||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee|
|Black, Sir Arthur W.||Galbraith, Samuel||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Blair, Reginald||Ganzoni, Francis John C.||Lowther, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Appleby)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Gardner, Ernest||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Gastrell, Lieut.-Col. W. Houghton||M'Calmont, Col. Robert C. A.|
|Boyton, James||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Brace, William||George, Rt. Hen. D. Lloyd||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Brookes, Warwick||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanion||Grant, J. A.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Donald|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Macleod, John Mackintosh|
|Bull, Sir William James||Gretton, John||Macmaster, Donald|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Butcher, J. G.||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hamilton, Lord C. H. (Kensington, S.)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Harcourt, Rt Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Carson, Rt. Hen. Sir Edward H.||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Cator, John||Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.)||Mallalieu, Frederick William|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Manfield, Harry|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Haslam, Lewis||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Henry, Sir Charles||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Chambers, James||Hendry, Denis S.||Millar, James Duncan|
|Chappie, Dr. William Allen||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Mills, Lieut. Arthur B.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hewart, Gordon||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.|
|Cochrane, Cecil Algernon||Hibbert, Sir Henry F.||Moore, William|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Morgan, George Hay|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hinds, John||Morison, Hector|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hohler, G. F.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Coote, William||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Mount, William Arthur|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Cory, James Herbert (Cardiff)||Hope, Major J A. (Midlothian)||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Home, Edgar||Newman, John R. P.|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Robinson, Sidney||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Tickler, T. G.|
|Norton-Griffiths, J.||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Touche, George Alexander|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Rutherford, Sir John (Lancs., Darwen)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Partington, Oswald||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Pease, Herbert Pike (Oarlington)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Webb, Sir H.|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Phillips, Sir Owen (Chester)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Col. J. E. B. (Ilkeston)||Whiteley, Herbert J.|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Sharman-Crawford, Col. R. C.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Pratt, J. W.||Shortt, Edward||Wiles, Thomas|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||William, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, West)|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)||Williams, Thomas J. (Swansea)|
|Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Spear, Sir John Ward||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Prothero, Rowland Edmund||Stanier, Captain Beville||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Radford, G. H.||Starkey, John Ralph||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Handles, Sir John S.||Stewart, Gershom||Worthington-Evans, Major L.|
|Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry||Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Sutherland, John E.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.||Swift, Rigby||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Ches., Knutsf'd)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)||Gulland and Lord E. Talbot.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question proposed, "That the proposed words be there added."
§ It being after Eleven of the clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Eighteen minutes after Eleven o'clock.