HC Deb 11 June 1918 vol 106 cc2024-8
10. Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that it is the declared intention of the Government to give grants of land to young men in Ireland who may join His Majesty's Forces before 1st October, he will state what recognition it is proposed to give to the men over forty-one in Great Britain who are now being called up under the last Military Service Act?


I am told that when my hon. and gallant Friend hears the statement which is being made on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, in reply to questions on this subject to-day, he will realise that his question is based on a misunderstanding.

19. Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether, in view of the fact that young men in Ireland between the ages of eighteen and twenty-seven are being offerd land in order to induce them to join His Majesty's Forces, he will now state whether it has been decided to give the war bounty to time-expired men above the age of forty-one years who have been compelled to serve on and to time-expired men between the ages of forty-one and fifty-one who are now being recalled to the Colours under the Military Service (No. 2) Act of 1918, and who are excluded from the benefits conferred by Army Order 209 of 1916?


The bounty will be given to men retained or recalled under the Act under conditions similar to those for previous Acts. The precise conditions will be published in the course of a few days.

45. Mr. KING

asked the Prime Minister whether the Proclamation of Lord French, dated 3rd June, appealing for voluntary Irish recruits, was made after consultation with the Irish Department of Agriculture, and is to be taken as assuming that no more men can be released from Irish agriculture; whether the offers of land made are in addition to other and previous plans of the Government for settling soldiers on the land after the War; whether land to be offered to Irish volunteers is to be land in Ireland, in the Colonies, or elsewhere; and whether the legislation under consideration refers to the Emigration Bill and the Small Holding Colonies Bill or to other legislation not yet introduced?


asked the Prime Minister whether the offer of land made to Irish Volunteers in the Proclamation issued by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland is confined to Irishmen, or whether the legislation to give effect to the offer is to include the conscripted soldiers of England, Scotland, and Wales?

48. General McCALMONT

asked the Prime Minister whether, under the Government's proposals for the grant of land to Irish soldiers, the claims of those who enlisted in the early stages of the War will be dealt with first?


asked the Prime Minister whether the Proclamation just issued in Ireland is intended to convey the idea that men who volunteer in Ireland in 1918, and who only serve for the concluding period of the War, will obtain a preference over men who volunteered in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales in 1914, 1915, 1916, or 1917, and who have therefore already served for long periods, and have in many cases, been wounded and discharged; if that is not the idea intended to be conveyed by the Proclamation, will he state precisely what is meant by the implied promises in regard to land contained therein! how far the promises also apply to soldiers who have volunteered in the United Kingdom since the outbreak of war; and whether in any case effect can be given to such promises until Parliament has passed the necessary legislation


asked the Prime Minister whether it is the policy of the Government that soldiers enlisted from England, Scotland, and Wales shall receive land on the same terms as those enlisted from Ireland; whether the promises now being made to prospective recruits in Ireland will apply to those who have already served or are serving with the Colours; and if he will state the terms on which it is proposed that land should be given?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to these questions.

The proposed legislation takes the form of an Amendment of the Irish Land Purchase Acts. The general effect of the proposed Amendments will be to secure to men who have served in the present War, but who are not tenants or proprietors of land, the same privileges with regard to the purchase of untenanted land as are already enjoyed by tenants or proprietors of holdings, and to extend the provisions as to the purchase and settlement of land for the relief of congestion to the case of any untenanted land which may be required in order to provide holdings for such men.

As elaborate machinery already exists in Ireland for the acquisition and distribution of untenanted land, the problem of acquisition in Ireland does not present the same difficulties as in Great Britain.

It is intended that the proposals should extend to all Irish soldiers who enlisted at any time during the War. Priority of enlistment and length of service will certainly be factors to be considered when applications for land from soldiers are being dealt with.

As regards the first paragraph of the question of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King), I may state that a Report was obtained from the Department of Agriculture in Ireland before the Proclamation was issued, but the hon. Member must not assume more than is set out in the Proclamation, which states that it is not expected that many of the rural population will be available at present for military purposes.

As to the question of the hon. Member for the Attercliffe Division (Mr. Anderson), the policy of settling ex-Service men upon the land was initiated by the Small Holdings Colonies Act, 1916. That Act applies to Great Britain only, and the proposed Irish legislation will extend the principle to Ireland, regard being had to the difference in Irish land legislation and tenure. I may add that the introduction of such legislation has been under consideration for a considerable period, and statements to that effect were made in reply to questions addressed to the previous Chief Secretary arid the Minister of Labour by members of different Irish parties.


Are we to understand from this that the offers made to voluntary recruits, whom it is now wished to bring in, will be offers which will be dealt with subsequently to all the demands for land from Irish soldiers who have already served?


The hon. Gentleman will understand from the reply which I read that "Priority of enlistment and length of service will certainly be factors to be considered when applications for land from soldiers are being dealt with."


Does that not mean that the offer now made to induce men to come in voluntarily is a very vague and nebulous offer?


The hon. Member must draw his own conclusions.

Colonel ASHLEY

Does that mean that the men who are to be conscripted under the Government policy shortly to be put into effect will be included or excluded? May I have an answer? It is a very important point.


May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend, or the Leader of the House, whether we shall have an opportunity of discussing this very vague Proclamation? Is he not aware that it has given rise to a great deal of anxiety and commotion in Ireland as to what it really means, and what men are to get it if they enlist?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Bonar Law)

Of course, if there be any general desire for a discussion, I shall be glad to try to arrange it. The Chief Secretary has not been able to come from Ireland this week. Perhaps my right hon. and learned Friend will put this question again next week?


May I ask for an answer to Question 50, which has practically not been touched by the right hon. and learned Member?


I have nothing to add. I think it is quite covered


May I put the question down another day?


Does the reply mean that Irishmen who fight to save Ireland from German aggression will have to buy land from an Irish landlord who has done nothing?


The hon. Member should study the Irish Land Acts.

Major E. WOOD

Can the right hon. and learned Member state whether it is proposed to pass this legislation before the House rises?


Is this Bill going to be introduced before or after the Home Rule Bill?


Some of these questions might be put on the Paper.

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