HC Deb 12 August 1919 vol 119 cc1086-8
39. Mr. MacVEAGH

asked on what date General Hacket Pain rejoined the British Army; on what date in 1912 he ceased to be an officer in the Army; and who is at present in command of the Northern District of Ireland?

Captain GUEST

As I explained to the hon. Member by letter on Thursday last, I very much regret that, through an unfortu- nate error, the latter part of the answer to his previous question was incorrect. Brigadier-General Sir G. W. Hacket Pain is in command of the Northern District of the Irish Command. He retired from the Army on 5th February, 1912, and was re-employed in command of a brigade on the 4th September, 1914 I find that the mistake arose from the inadvertence of a sub ordinate officer.


Is it a fact that this gentleman, who was responsible for smuggling rifles into Ulster from Germany with a view to civil war, is now in charge of the same rifles as an officer in the British Army?

Captain GUEST

There are two statements in that supplementary question which I am not in a position to accept. First, I am not in a position to accept the statement that this officer smuggled arms into Ireland; and, second, these arms, to the best of my knowledge, are in ordnance charge, which is a very different thing from being under his direct control and supervision.


Was not this gentleman chief of the staff of the Ulster Volunteers, and was he not engaged five years ago in organising the employment of armed forces against the Crown and Parliament of this country; and is this same gentleman at the present moment what is called a competent officer to order courts-martial and sentence to one, two, and three years' imprisonment his political opponents?

Captain GUEST

That raises a different set of questions. The officer referred to was connected, as everybody knows, with that movement in Ireland, and the fact that he has those disciplinary powers as an officer in command of a particular district is not in any way connected with the question of the hon. Gentleman.


Is it calculated to restore public confidence in Ireland, or to retain public confidence in Great Britain, that a scandal of this kind should continue?

Captain GUEST

I cannot accept for a moment that it is a scandal that an officer of high efficiency should perform duties in this part of the United Kingdom.


I must recur to my question, to which I have got no answer. Is it right that all the administration of the penal Clauses of the Defence of the Realm Acts by courts-martial over political opponents should be entrusted to an ex-rebel against the Crown and Parliament?


The hon. Member has had his reply. It is a matter on which we can all form our own opinion. It is not a matter for a Departmental answer.