§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I beg to move.That this House regrets the present state of lawlessness in Ireland and the lack of discipline in the armed forces of the Crown, resulting in the death or injury of innocent citizens and the destruction of property; and is of opinion that an independent investigation should at once be instituted into the causes, nature, and extent of reprisals on the part of those whose duty is the maintenance of law and order.It appears to me that no apology is needed from those who form the Opposition to the Government for the introduction of this Motion. It is true that by submitting the Motion we are delaying the further consideration for a few hours of the Government of Ireland Bill, but if justification were required for the course we are adopting, all who have followed the doings in Ireland and who have any knowledge of the actual situation as it now is, must admit that it is so appalling as to warrant us in asking the House to give this matter its most careful attention. Moreover, we are strongly of the opinion that the distressing and deplorable situation now existing constitutes a most humiliating and damaging indictment of the administrative policy of His Majesty's Ministers. We are in somewhat of a difficulty in approaching the examination of the administrative policy of the Government owing to the difficulty of obtaining accurate information as to the extent and the intensity of the militant campaign now being waged in Ireland, for it has to be admitted that there is a very serious militant campaign going on between the British authorities and the more active elements amongst the Irish Nationalists. What does stand out beyond question is that a policy of military terrorism has been inaugurated, which, in our opinion, is not only a betrayal of democratic principles and not only a betrayal of the things for which we claimed to stand during the five years great world War, but is utterly opposed to the best traditions of the British people. Such a policy, it seems to me, can only be characterised as being akin to the policy of frightfulness which was associated with the doings of the 926 Germans, and the doings of him whom we described as the Hun during the War, and which all sections of British people most emphatically condemned.
I am going to ask the House to permit me briefly to survey the question of administration on the part of the Government, especially from the beginning of 1917. I would remind the House that martial law was proclaimed all over Ireland after the insurrection of 1916. According to such information as I have been able to gather, the aggressive, or what might be described as the punitive acts of the British Government in Ireland during the 12 months of 1917 were as follows: arrests for political offences, 349; sentences for political offences, 269; military and police attacks on gatherings of unarmed men, women and children, 18; courts-martial of civilians, 36; deportations of prominent Irishmen without charge or without trial of any kind, 24. In the year 1918 there was a marked increase of repressive acts associated with the British Administration. For instance, there were 250 raids on private houses. Arrests for political offences increased from 349 in 1917 to 1,107 in 1918. According to the best information which I have been able to obtain during 1917 and 1918, only one case of a policeman being killed is recorded. I believe that that was a case of a policeman named Mills. During those two years it is quite clear that the British Government was pursuing a policy of military repression and agression in an intensified form. Yet there is practically no evidence of militant opposition or of deliberate political murder on the part of any section of the Irish people.
That is a very important statement. And I am trying to lead up to showing that during the period to which I have referred there must have been some change in the administration or some emphasis of a certain form of policy that produced that change in the conduct of the Irish people to which I have referred, for it can be said with safety that the Irish people bore without physical retaliation a system of most stringent repression amounting practically to complete suppression of all their civil rights. Not only were there no organised political outrages in this period, but the Government policy seems to me to have been the stamping out of Nationalist 927 opinion during that period, and it was an attempt to break the spirit of the Trish people. Up to the beginning of 1919 practically all the outrages of an organised character were on one side. Murders, armed assaults on unarmed civilians, raids on private dwellings, arrests, deportations, the suppression of newspapers, the proclamation of public meetings, were normal incidents of life in Ireland, and pointed to a deliberate policy of intensified coercion. During the early part of this year, along with some of my colleagues, I spent a couple of weeks in Ireland. We issued a report, and I think I remember the Prime Minister asking my right hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson) how long we had been in Ireland. We were sufficiently long to have it impressed on us that one of the things that had brought about the change in Ireland was the repressive character of the administration of the Government. And I would like to say in passing that I thought that if the Prime Minister had put that question to me about how long I had been in Ireland I should have liked to ask him when he last visited Ireland. If I am not misinformed, the next time he visits Ireland will be the first. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, if he has visited it it is so long ago that we have forgotten all about it.
In 1919 acts of provocation by the English soldiers and police began to multiply. Here are a few figures: 14,000 armed raids on private dwellings, 1,000 arrests for political offences, 300 meetings proclaimed and suppressed, a general suppression of fairs and markets in 7 important counties, 25 newspapers suppressed, 3 towns sacked, 10 civilians killed. I remember when we were in Ireland we had it very graphically described to us that women walking along the road to the nearest market with a few eggs collected in a basket were refused permission to go to the nearest market to dispose of their little produce, and we were paying expensive officials to block the roads in order to prevent women going in the way I have described to the nearest market. We cannot wonder if with the figures I have just recited and the policy to which I have just referred this policy should have produced a very serious change in the outlook of the Irish people. Probably the Government case 928 will be that the sacking of towns, the shooting down of people and the arson by police and military were the result of intolerable provocation. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!"] I am not surprised that that should be about the first cheer since I rose. After all, we admit that there has been a great amount of provocation. It is sometimes said that we on this side never avail ourselves of an opportunity of condemning the outrages out of which the provocation has arisen. That is not so. On the very last occasion on which I spoke before I was compelled to be absent for so long I opened my speech by saying that we could not sufficiently or too emphatically condemn the policy of outrage that then was in such full operation.
Since then, I have availed myself of other opportunities, in the Press and at meetings, to express our horror of the policy that, we shall be told, has led to the provocation to which I have referred. I remember that during our visit we reached Thurles one morning. The night before a policeman had been shot. [HON. MEMBERS: "Murdered!"] I say he had been shot. The circumstances at that time had not been explained and I am not going to call it murder. I do not know whether there was any trial to show that it was murder. We say a policeman was shot. The point I want to bring out is that the first individual we came in contact with at the station was a policeman, who, having told us what had happened, volunteered the statement that he was going to have a little of his own back that night. That was in January of this year. I was not surprised at the policeman saying that. We admit the provocation. Though there may be a great amount of provocation, the question is, what is the correct attitude of the Government and of the officials who represent the Government, even if the provocation may be exceedingly great. I claim that the character of the incidents that have occurred has been quite in keeping with the aggressive policy consistently pursued by this Government, a policy which was consistently pursued before it produced the change out of which so many of these outrages have taken place. If we are to talk about provocation, let us apply it all round. If there has been provocation to the policemen and to the military because 929 some of their comrades have been shot down in cold blood, do let us remember that there has also been the provocation I have outlined in the repressive policy of the Government, which has brought about an atmosphere and a temper that must inevitably result in some of the things which most of us deplore. So far as the Government and many of their officials are concerned, what has been taking place during recent months are reprisals, and reprisals of the most disgraceful and the most humiliating character. These reprisals appear to us to be part of a deliberate and calculated effort to destroy the Irish political movement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] I mean the Irish Nationalist political movement. I say that no Government, much less a Government associated with a people with the magnificent traditions of the British, should ever dare to identify itself with a policy of this character, unless its object is, as we think, to stamp out the legitimate aspirations of people who desire to be a free democracy—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—I say again that we condemn many, if not all, of these outrages. The attacks on the police barracks, the ambushing of the police, and the rest of it, are such that no fair-minded man can view them with anything but the strongest detestation. That being our position, we cannot imitate the attitude of the Prime Minister, if his reference to this subject in his Carnarvon speech correctly described—I do not think it did correctly describe—his real position.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Now that the Prime Minister admits that the Carnarvon speech did correctly represent his position, as we have been asked why we do not condemn the outrages on the one side, may I ask him why he has not thought fit as yet to condemn the outrages on the other side? I think that is a most important point. We are constantly challenged on this matter, and I want to challenge Members of the Government and to ask whether in any speech they have condemned the outrages associated with one part of Ireland during the last two or three months? [HON. MEMBERS: "The Chief Secretary."] I know that in one speech the Chief Secretary did make a brief reference to the subject, but, apart from that, I have looked through the whole of the 930 speeches and I cannot find a single word. In the Carnarvan speech the Prime Minister was dealing with one side of the case. Having regard to his important and responsible position, it seemed to me that it was a little unfortunate that he did not see his way clear to have some word of condemnation for what has been going on in Ulster during the last few weeks. With the evidence of the intensified coercion campaign before us, we cannot resist the conclusion that the acts of the Government agents must be described as a factor, as a provocation which has resulted in some of the outrages, and that they are responsible for what are called the reprisals on the other side. Let me give one or two cases in order to bring it right home to the House. Take the case of Balbriggan. In that case punishment, if what happened was intended for punishment, undoubtedly fell upon a number of innocent people. The killing of two policemen in this affair last September resulted, as I understand the case, from efforts by the local Republican Volunteers to restore order in a public-house. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!" "Where did you get that information?"]
I have already admitted that there is some difficulty in obtaining accurate information. I am putting forward to the House such information as I possess. I am putting forward information which may be challenged by the Government, but if there are these statements going about and influencing the Irish people, I know of no stronger argument in favour of independent and impartial inquiry for which we ask in the Resolution. I am quite content to have doubt thrown upon the veracity of the statement, but that will be merely a reason for a further inquiry in order that the actual facts may be adduced. What followed this attempt to which I have referred? An hour later a deliberately planned attack, we are told, by what are called the "Black and Tans," followed on the town, beginning with a raid by 150 armed men. I am now going to quote the opinion of a paper with which at any rate I do not think the Prime Minister has entirely fallen out—I refer to the "Manchester Guardian." According to the statement of the correspondent of the "Manchester Guardian":The conduct of the 150 'Black and Tans' could only be compared in its brutality, 931 wantonness and destructiveness to the experience of some Belgian village in the early days of the War.Is that not a case for inquiry? Should the Government not be in a position not by making what many people would consider an ex parte statement, but by having the entire position sifted by an independent tribunal—ought they not to put themselves in the position before the country and before the world to show that anything for which they were responsible could never be likened unto the policy of the Huns in the Belgian villages during the War. We are told that in this case men were dragged from their homes into the street and that they were brutally beaten, bayonetted, and even shot. Cottages, public-houses and shops were burned and a big hosiery factory was completely destroyed. There was destruction of property which provided work for no less than three hundred people. Surely there ought to be no doubt that the Government does not look with favour upon any such policy with its wanton destruction of both life and property. I say until this inquiry is held, and until the, whole position has been examined, and until an impartial judgment has been given, you cannot wonder that the Irish people consider those acts and these reprisals are the deliberate policy of the Government in order to destroy, as I said before, the political aspirations, aye, and the economic resources of the Irish people. I wonder what justification there can be for the burning of this factory. Hon. Members on the other side told us often yesterday, and rightly so, about the need for production. Surely the Government ought to be prepared if it has got to use the forces of the Crown at all to say that they can take no responsibility for the destruction of factories out of which the people in the neighbourhood may obtain their livelihood.
Let me give another case. I am going to cite three telegrams I have received from a former Member of this House. I refer to Mr. William O'Brien. I think I can say that though many of us differed from him Mr. William O'Brien was a much respected Member of this House. He has voluntarily sent us a telegram, which I feel I must read:18/10/20.—Mallow. After midnight on Saturday military wrecked and looted the house of a man named Wills directly opposite 932 the house where the manager of the lately destroyed Mallow condensed milk factory was lying at the point of death. Having failed to find a young man they wanted, they dragged away his father and young brother and forced them to stand against the wall and tortured them with gun-stocks and bayonets to make them reveal the whereabouts of the missing man.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
The telegram continues:All day on Sunday Lancers and infantry with an armoured car held the townspeople in a state of terror on the pretext of suppressing the funeral of a young man killed by the military. In Dublin to-day, as a demobilised soldier named Turner, who fought throughout the War, was taking a solitary walk in the Town park he was fired at from the military barrack and dangerously wounded in the abdomen. When casual passers-by rushed to see if he was dead a military firing party turned out of the barracks and delivered a volley at the group around the body.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
The telegram concludes:Those are three days' doings in one of the very friendliest towns of the island. Is it possible that deeds like these committed by the armer forces of the State should remain uninvestigated? As one who spent twenty arduous years in the struggle for peace between the two countries I solemnly tell all men of goodwill that the most peacefully minded men of the Irish race will be filled with horror of the English name unless some stop is speedily put to this atrocious campaign of vengeance, and to the blood-guilty incitements from high quarters to which it is directly traceable. This can only be done by human men of all parties combining to insist upon an investigation of the truth—instant, public, and above suspicion.Mr. O'Brien sent me a second telegram that the man Turner had since died.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Mr. O'Brien has now sent me a third telegram which reads:I pledge my honour that honest investigation will prove official account of the killing of Turner to be a shameful invention.4.0 P.M.
I repeat, that whatever we may think of Mr. O'Brien's political opinions he is a man of influence in Ireland. He was a 933 Member of this House, he has published these statements, and in the Government's own interest and in the interest of the whole country it seems to me that such statements as Mr. O'Brien makes are very strong justification for the demand we are making for this Committee of Inquiry. If such acts as I have referred to are really being committed by officials of the Government, and if they are going to be practically palliated by responsible Ministers, then it seems to me that they are going to place beyond all hope any settlement of the Irish problem. We have already had abundant evidence from Ireland that the attempt which is now being made by the Government to settle that part of the problem out of which all these troubles, after all, arise is not acceptable to the majority of the Irish people. I should have thought they would have been prepared to have accepted the evidence that has come to hand, and, in order to bring about a cessation of this terrible policy of murder, outrage and reprisals which is going on, that they would have been prepared to have made some move in the direction of seeking a solution more in keeping with the aspirations of the majority of the Irish people. I know we shall be told, as we have been told before, "we are not going to change our policy and we are not going to give further consideration to the aspirations of the Irish people so long as this policy of outrage continues." I have been long enough in this House to have heard respective Governments say when Ireland was overrun with lawlessness, and, of course, this is not the first time, unfortunately, when there has been an unsatisfactory condition of affairs, that "so long as that disorder continues we are not going to give any consideration to the aspirations of the Irish people." Then we have gone on, and for a period peace has been restored, but during that temporary period when suggestions have been made that the time has arrived when we should respond to the aspirations of the Irish people, we have been told: "No, never was Ireland in such a satisfactory condition as it is in to-day. Why should we disturb its harmony and its tranquility?" I say that we ought to be setting about to prepare the atmosphere for a final settlement of this problem. We believe that you are not going to prepare 934 that atmosphere until you find some means of terminating this policy of reprisals and this policy of outrage. I believe that the policy of reprisals has been an incitement to further outrages. I believe that it will continue to be so, and we strongly urge that we should stand together, that we should have this investigation as speedily as possible, that the inquiry should report with all speed, and that its conclusions should be made widely known in the hope that we may remove from the life of the Irish people one of the factors which, in our judgment, will make a final solution an absolute impossibility. These are the reasons why we urge this inquiry, and I venture to hope that all sections of the House, dissatisfied with the situation as we know it and realising that it is a mark against the name of the entire country, will join with us in pressing upon the Government to have this inquiry instituted, in the hope that we may have this policy of outrage brought to an end.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Lieut.-Colonel Sir Hamar Greenwood)
I am sure that the House will share with me the pleasure that I feel in welcoming back to our counsels the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He has been long absent through severe illness, and we are all glad to see him back, but I am sorry that he does not re-enter the arena of parliamentary controversy with a better case than that which he has just presented. The right hon. Gentleman referred to "doings in Ireland." I call it a deliberate, organised, highly-paid conspiracy to smash the British Empire.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I say "smash the British Empire," because those are the words of the Lord Mayor of Cork, an authority on Ireland whom the hon. Gentleman will hardly dispute. My right hon. Friend referred to "more active elements among the Irish Nationalists." The Irish Nationalists have nothing to do with the, difficulties in Ireland at the moment. There are no reprisals, or alleged reprisals, on Irish Nationalists.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
I was not using the word "Nationalists" in the political or party sense; I was using it as describing those who believe in Ireland as a nationality.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I am very glad to have the correction of the right hon. Gentleman, because, as one who has associated himself in support of the Irish Nationalist party as it was in this House, I want it to be perfectly clear that there is no connection whatever between the Irish Nationalist party and the difficulties that we have in Ireland. First of all, I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the source of the information that he has seen fit to communicate to the House. I will tell him the source, for I am familiar with it. His information comes from the headquarters of the Irish Republican Army, which army comprises within its ranks the Irish Republican Brotherhood which supplies the assassins who have killed loyal servants of the Crown and loyal civilians during the past two years, and this House must make up its mind whether it will accept information from the headquarters of the Irish Republican Army or information from the Chief Secretary for Ireland speaking with official knowledge from this Box. There is a highly organised Propaganda Department connected with the Irish Republican movement not only in this country, but especially in the United States and in certain countries in Europe, and everything that can be said, regardless of fact, to smirch the name of the United Kingdom and of the British Empire and to smirch the names of loyal servants of the Crown is said by this Propaganda Department.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The majority of British papers decline to accept this information, but some British papers and some British politicians do accept it. Let me make clear to the House the position in reference to information from Ireland. Up till the beginning of this year Irish papers were not afraid to call the assassination of a policeman or of a civilian or of a soldier murder. There is no Irish paper to-day in the south and west of Ireland that dares to refer to the most horrible assassination of a Royal servant of the Crown as murder. The reason for that is that the owners, the editors, the reporters and the linotypers either acquiesce in the non-use of the word "murder" or they are intimidated by the terrorists of the Sinn Fein Movement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question!"] 936 There is no question about this. Every British journalist and American journalist that goes to Ireland knows it. There have been several cases of English journalists who have gone to Ireland to get the real facts and who have been threatened with their lives for the publication of those facts, and they have had to leave Ireland because of those threats.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I cannot give the names, but I can say that most of them belong to papers which in the normal way are severe critics of His Majesty's Government.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I submit that the right hon. Gentleman has not put before the House one single case which justifies him and his friends in the resolution standing in their name, namely:That this House regrets the present state of lawlessness in Ireland, and the lack of discipline in the armed forces of the Crown, resulting in the death or injury of innocent citizens and the destruction of property.I want to point out to the House that the right hon. Gentleman's reading of the recent history of Ireland will not do. The suggestion is that all these awful outrages and the disastrous and almost anarchial state of a part of Ireland is due to the sins of the Government since 1917. It will not do. It is not military repression and the suspension of all civil rights that has caused the present difficulties in Ireland. They are rooted in an unhappy and ancient past. No one regrets it more than the present Chief Secretary for Ireland. No one believes more heartily than I do that the ultimate solution must be some liberal form of Home Rule, and no one has more consistently supported measures of Home Rule in this House while I have had the honour of sitting in it. The difficulty to-day is not based upon a demand for Home Rule. It is based upon a demand for complete independence, and that demand is reinforced by an army equipped, organised, and working day and night. That demand is insisted upon by a policy of assassination and of burning that makes the last two years the saddest and worst in the history of Ireland.
937 The right hon. Gentleman talked about military aggression and imprisoning men on suspicion. When I had the honour of becoming the Chief Secretary of Ireland in April last, the Government, to show its goodwill, let out scores of men who were arrested on suspicion, and justifiable suspicion. Many of them have been rearrested since for shooting policemen. The Government let out every hunger-striker. The Government let out certain convicted hunger-strikers. It may have been right or it may have been wrong—[HON. MEMBERS: "Wrong!"]—but, at any rate, it meets the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that the Government s policy of aggression and imprisonment without trial is the cause of this outburst, especially of the last few months. From the time of the release of those prisoners in April outrages have increased, murder has become more common, and the brutality of the murders more pronounced. Recently expanding bullets, condemned by every civilised race, have become the common weapon of revolting mutilation in carrying out this policy to smash the British Empire. I went to Ireland with high hopes of bringing peace to that country. By no word or deed did I say or do anything to revive old sores, nor did I neglect to try to heal old difficulties. I am profoundly sorry to confess that my attempts at conciliation failed before a policy of assassination, Let there be no mistake. A policy of paid and organised assassination is the policy of the Irish Republican party in Ireland to-day. It is not a question of Home Rule, it is not a question of the ordinary Sinn Feiner, who is entitled to his political views. I have never myself arrested, or allowed anybody to be arrested, merely because of his political views in Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I am speaking from this Box with authority. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not with knowledge!"] The point is that the difficulties of the forces of the Crown are not involved in combating opinions, but in putting down crime of the most hideous and revolting nature.
Let me deal with these forces of the Crown. What are these forces of the Crown that are condemned for lawlessness? We have the Army, under the distinguished Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Nevil Macready. Nearly every officer 938 of that Army wears badges of valour and of courage in the late War. There are tens of thousands of them, a large percentage, men who have served in the late War, all of them represented, a higher standard of education, and I think of conduct, than has ever been seen before in the history of the British Isles. This resolution condemns these men as guilty of lawlessness. Let me take the police force. The police force is composed in the main of Irishmen, and of Roman Catholic Irishmen, who in the history of Ireland since the formation of the force have always considered membership of this force a fine, honourable and patriotic career. They have recently been reinforced from two distinct sources. The first source is that of ex-soldiers and officers who have enlisted as ordinary members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. These are the men that were the heroes of yesterday to everybody in this House. To-day, some accuse them of murder. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] They are the men, they are the selected men, of the Armies that won the late War. They were asked by public advertisements to join the Royal Irish Constabulary. They have recruited in very large numbrs, and are now recruiting at the rate of over 300 a week, and I protest with all the vigour that I can command against the suggestion that these heroes of yesterday to everybody have become murderers to-day.
We have another source from which we draw reinforcements for the Royal Irish Constabulary, namely, ex-officers. This is called the auxiliary division and is composed entirely of ex-officers, ranking from Brigadier-Generals to subalterns, men who have served this noble country and Empire well on every field of battle in the late War. This force is put into the most disturbed areas and runs the greatest dangers, and I have yet to find one authenticated case of a member of this auxiliary division being accused of anything but the highest conduct characteristic of them. All this wild criticism of these gallant men comes from the same tainted source from which the right hon. Gentleman draws his indictment of His Majesty's Government. While I am on the Army and the Police, let me give you some examples of the stern discipline of both those forces. The other day in Cork General Strickland, one of the most distinguished Commanders in the late War, was motoring 939 through the streets. He was ambushed, many shots were fired at him, and some pierced his car, but he came through the fusillade owing to the courage of his driver. He commands, let us say, 10,000 troops in the Cork area. He drove at once to his headquarters in the car, and he issued the most drastic commands that every man in his command should fall in, including officers. Why? Because he did not want any reprisals in that force of his, and there was not a sign or a suspicion of reprisal. These are the forces accused of lawlessness. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] These are the forces that are parading the Thurles Division, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I want to point out to this House what a strong discipline there must be in an Army that will allow its popular and distinguished General to be ambushed, to be shot at by assassins, and yet not strike back. No other army under any other flag in the world can boast, and rightly boast, of such stern discipline.
Let me take another case. In Belfast, in the Ulster Division, we have got several thousand troops and police. They have had the most difficult time that any armed forces of the Crown could have in quelling the fierce and historic conflicts between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants of this part of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman made no reference to that. I know of no case where anyone has accused either the Army or the police of being other than sternly judicial in carrying out their difficult and dangerous duty. Where does the lawlessness come from? Let me take the police particularly, and let me give some cases to show how the police have stood this frightful strain of the last two years. First of all, in order that the House may see the Irish situation in perspective and not in generalities, let me make one or two statements of fact. In the first place, there are nine counties in Ireland in which there has been no military, police, or other servants of the Crown murdered, in 13 others there has been only one of these wretched outrages of murder; in one county there have been two, in another three, in another four, and five in one more. The really serious difficulty of the Irish Government is narrowed down in so far as murder is concerned to a few counties in the West of Ireland and to 940 Dublin City. Clare has a record of 15 murders, and the county of Cork, including the City, has a record of the murder of 22 policemen. Limerick County, including Limerick, is responsible for the brutal murder of 15, and in Dublin the number is about the same.
At any rate, I for one protest against the general assumption that all Irishmen are guilty of these crimes that smirch the name of their country. I believe—and this is the very foundation of the policy of the Government in Ireland—that the vast majority of Irishmen and women hope and pray for a cessation of these murders and outrages, which are bringing their country into contempt in the world and disaster, both political and economical, in their own times. The difficulty in Ireland—and this refers to the whole of Ireland—is that owing to the success in the past of the Irish Republican movement under the name of Sinn Fein there is a reign of terror that extends throughout the country, and the Irish Republican army, organised, remember, in brigades, in companies, in platoons, armed, throughout the whole country, with branches in Scotland, in England, and in Wales.—[HON. MEMBERS: "And in Ulster!"]—Yes, and in Ulster—the Irish Republican army, I say, has terrorised until recently nearly the-whole of Ireland. I am glad to say that that terror is being broken, broken by the forces of the Crown, condemned to-day in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. This point I wish to impress upon the House. It is only the British Government, acting through its forces in Ireland, that can break this terror. The Irish people are helpless under it, admittedly helpless under it. The Roman-Catholic Church is admittedly impotent to break the terror in Ireland. I should consider the British Government unworthy of the name "British" or "Government" if it failed to assume this burden, not only of government, but of civilisation, to break a terror based upon the revolver and the assassin. We are breaking it; North, South, East, and West it is coming to an end, and with the support of this House I foresee at no distant date an end of the rule of the assassin in Ireland.
Let me tell you how this terror works. The Irish Republican army has its representatives in every village, city, and 941 countryside in Ireland. They are armed and they are managed from Dublin; they are ordered to murder this policeman or that man, they are ordered to burn this barracks or that house, and they do it, or they have done it in the past. Connected with the terror is the boycott, and I am glad to say we are breaking the boycott. The boycott meant that no soldier or sailor or policeman could travel on certain Irish railways subsidised by this House. We are breaking that. I would rather see every railway in Ireland shut down for 100 years than yield one inch to the claim of the Irish Republican army that an Irish railway, subsidised by British money, should refuse to carry these loyal servants of the Crown. The boycott extended to many places in Ire-land, to many tradesmen, to farmers, and to creameries. Not only were, the police boycotted, but their wives and children were boycotted, their mothers and fathers in remote parts of Ireland were boycotted and threatened with death unless they persuaded their sons to leave, the Royal Irish Constabulary. Their widows were threatened, driven out of their homes and boycotted by the same gang of terrorists that have defied—I think too long—the authority of this House, and flaunted the laws of civilisation.
Let me give a picture of the difficulties of the police and soldiers in carrying out their duties and your commands in Ireland. I will take specific cases. I am glad to say, in the last two months, we have been able to make a great change making for the safety of the police and soldiers. We have supplied motor transport for police and military duties, to the great advantage of the Forces of the Crown, and, I think, of the well-being of well-disposed persons. These, men patrol in lorries and motor-cars in the course of their duties. In the western counties especially, every hedge, every wall, every house within range is a possible ambush. Not one, but scores, have been killed in these ambushes. The right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and others have talked about the indiscriminate firing of these police and soldiers, evidently quoting from the same tainted source as the light hon. Member for the Widnes Division (Mr. A. Henderson). What are the facts? In these disturbed counties—few in number, happily—where an ambush is possible and suspected, the police and the military do fire a few rounds along the 942 hedge or behind the wall, to make certain they are not being ambushed. That is legitimate self-protection. It has broken up numbers of ambushes; it is saving the lives of many loyal servants of the Crown. There is nothing indiscriminate about it. It is carefully planned, and, so far as I know, no innocent person has ever suffered death or injury because of it. I know, in the language of the Irish Republican Army, murdering a policeman is a political crime. It may be called an execution. It is sometimes called a removal. I like the plain statement of fact. It is a murder. But when one of the members of the Irish Republican Army is shot by the police or the military that becomes a murder. [HON. MEMBERS: "No" and "Hear, hear"] The great majority of alleged reprisals are alleged without knowledge of the fact, or alleged against police and soldiers who are, acting in self defence I want to read from the official order of the, Trish Republican Army exactly what they expect their people to do to soldiers and police, the servants of this House.Small groups of snipers should be posted so as to cover their line of advance,That is your soldiers and police.ready, as soon as opportunity offers, to direct an effective fire on them. If possible, they should be cut off from their base, and annihilated.Those are the cold-blooded, printed instructions issued to every soldier of the Republican Army. British soldiers and the British police will fire first, and, in the proper conduct of their difficult duty, in firing at people who are trying to ambush them and trying to annihilate them, I shall have the honour to support their conduct in the House, and, I trust, with its approval. We are fighting in Ireland, not the ordinary decent, genial, good-natured Irishman, but a gang of terrorists. Let me give you some of the cases of brutality that represent the class of men we are fighting in Ireland. I will take the case of District Inspector Brady, whose uncle sat for many years on one of these Benches as a respected Nationalist Member. District Inspector Brady served through the War as an officer in the Irish Guards, and won the approval of his superiors for his courage in the field. He became, a district inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary in Monaghan, which was looked upon, as things go in Ireland, as rather a peaceful county. He volunteered to go into a disturbed area to exchange with a married 943 man with a family. He was a real Irishman of the best sort. He was travelling in the front seat, the seat of danger, in a patrol lorry in the ordinary course of his duties towards a village called Tuber-curry in Sligo. He and his men were ambushed just before they arrived at the village. The ambush was carefully planned. Over fifty men waited hour after hour for this lorry to come along. Shots—expanding bullets—were fired into the lorry. Poor Brady was seriously wounded in three places. I must say the motor drivers in these patrol lorries, who, remember, have no opportunity to use their arms in defence, represent a new class of heroes in the administration of the law in Ireland, and I had great honour in conferring, for the first time in history, a Royal Irish Constabulary Medal upon a constable the other day who, with both legs broken by a shot, brought his motor car to safety, and, unable to put on his brake because of his wounds, had to run it into a wall, and saved the lives of four of his comrades in the lorry, two of whom were wounded.
But, coming back to the case of Brady, the motor driver brought the car into the yard. Brady, dying, was taken out by his men. I want to show these things in this ghastly chapter of Irish history, not reflecting, as the right hon. Gentleman thinks, the real Irishman, but the grossest form of brutal assassination. Brady's clothes were cut off him. He was wounded horribly in three places by expanding bullets, and anybody who knows anything about the effect of expanding bullets can visualise that gallant district inspector a ghastly mass of mutilation on the floor of the barracks. Another policeman had the calf of his leg blown off by an expanding bullet, and, unconscious, was groaning in pain. A third had his face full of gunshot pellets. That was the scene that met some soldiers and policemen who came along afterwards. They saw Brady on the floor. They knew him. They loved him. Soldiers and policemen trained under the British Flag love their officers. They so love them that they go to their death for them. I admit when they saw Brady's form on the ground they saw red. I admit there was a reprisal. [HON. MEMBERS: "Quite right."] They went out and they burnt three shops of three notorious Sinn Feiners. They smashed several other shops all owned or 944 occupied by notorious Sinn Feiners, and I am convinced, on the evidence, that everyone of those persons who suffered through the reprisal, connived at, possibly helped, and certainly all condoned that murder of District Inspector Brady.
I regret reprisals; nobody regrets them more. I do not want men to get out of hand, because it hurts the discipline of an organised force. I do not want reprisals even on notorious Sinn Feiners. I want them to be arrested, and, if guilty of crime, to be tried. I want no reprisals. I have a right to complain of reprisals, because I am responsible for the discipline of the Irish Contabulary. The Commander-in-Chief has a right to complain of reprisals, because he is responsible for the discipline of the British Army in Ireland. But those men who acquiesced in, connived at, condoned or supported the murder of District Inspector Brady, or members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, have no right to complain of reprisals. They are members of the Irish Republican Army that is pledged by force of arms to set up an independent republic in Ireland, to defy the authority of this House and to claim the right to assassinate the officers of the Crown. I could give many cases of an equally horrible character to this House. I will give one more. To me it is a painful business to think that anyone would stoop so low as to use expanding bullets and carry on a system of assassination that has characterised some of the counties in Ireland.
Let me give you another case, and a case of reprisal. It is called the Ennistymon case. Five policemen, in the course of their duty, were operating in the western part of Clare, near two villages called Ennistymon and Lahinch. They were ambushed by a large number of men, probably 50. Shots were fired that at once stopped the ear. Expanding bullets rained on them. Four of the men were killed instantly as a result of the bullets, and the car was bespattered with blood and the mutilated remains of the four. The fifth, though badly wounded, managed to crawl away from the car for 400 yards. He was pursued. Shot guns were used within a foot of him to blow his body to pieces. The car was on the road, with these men mutilated beyond recognition, when, within ten minutes, another car containing soldiers and police came along. They lost their heads. [An HON. MEMBER: "No wonder'"] 945 They went to the villages of Ennistymon and Lahinch. [A laugh.] I am sure the House, whatever their opinion may be as to this Resolution, will, at any rate, give mo their sympathy in trying to bring peace out of chaos in Ireland. It is true chat reprisals followed the brutal murder of these five gallant men. Sixteen houses and shops were damaged or destroyed—houses that were considered to be occupied or owned by notorious Sinn Feiners.
Here, again, I am convinced that the people of these two villages knew of this ambush. [An HON. MEMBER: "How do you know?"] On the evidence. [The HON. MEMBER: "Let us have the evidence?"] I will. The place of ambush covered a long stretch on both sides of the road, and from the evidence of the bandoliers, haybeds, haversacks, coats, blankets, meat tins, and so on, it was clear that the bivouac had been there at least 12 hours, and possibly 24 hours. The place was within sight of many houses. I am admitting what is called a reprisal. [An HON. MEMBER: And justifying it!"] I am putting to you the provocation that comes to brave men. I hope the evidence I have given has shown what I wish to show; and I can go further with it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Take Balbriggan?"] I shall take it. I have no desire to evade any point. I hope I have shown that the knowledge of that ambush must have been present to many people in the vicinity. The Irish Republican Army is particularly strong in that area. We have lists of the members. We have the muster roll in that area. We know exactly, as far as it is humanly possible to know, the persons who connived at and helped in that ambush which resulted in the mutilation and death of five members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
I could give a great number of these cases, but I come to one which is very apparent in the minds of hon. Members of this House, that of Balbriggan. I will face Balbriggan as all these cases, because in the present abnormal state of Ireland those persons, generally of an anæmic and it may be hysterical disposition, who expect things to work on the lines of the ordered routine you find in this favoured country, expect too much, and are dealing, not with facts, but with visions Take Balbriggan. 946 This case has been stated, I think by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), to be comparable with a Belgian town in the War. I believe the right hon. Gentleman said he had seen some of these places. So have I. Has he seen Balbriggan?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I have. I claim to be an authority on Balbriggan. I will give the case as it is, and I will admit at the start it is a case which I, more than anyone else, have every right to regret, because it did mean a certain break in the splendid discipline of the Irish police. But when the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else compares Balbriggan with a village front, to the Belgian front or any other place in the War the statement has no relation to facts, either in the cause which led to the destruction or in the amount of destruction which resulted. Head Constable Burke, who had recently been decorated for his gallant defence of a barracks, became a marked man for the assassins in Ireland. Everyone in Ireland who gets the Royal Irish Constabulary Medal for courage, or who does anything out of the ordinary in his loyal devotion to duty, is a marked man by the terrorists in Ireland. Head Constable Burke was in Balbriggan with his brother Sergeant Burke of the Royal Irish Constabulary. It is true they had gone into a public-house. But the suggestion that the murder of Head Constable Burke and the dangerous wounding of his brother the sergeant was due to the effort of the Irish volunteers in Balbriggan to bring about peace, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Widnes suggested, is really so remote from the fact that it is in the dark. This head constable, unarmed, and his brother unarmed, were surrounded by what I call assassins—I know no other name for them—and the head constable was shot dead. The brother was shot and dangerously wounded. Then the assassins fled. Head Constable Burke was not only a man of great courage but a very popular man with the police. In two depôts miles away from Balbriggan when they heard of this murder they came in lorries to Balbriggan. When they saw the body of Burke and of his brother they—I admit it—they saw red! I admit it with regret. I always view these action with the profoundest regret. In Balbriggan that 947 night 19 houses of Sinn Feiners were destroyed or damaged, four public-houses were destroyed, and one hosiery factory, which employed 200 hands, was also destroyed. I admit at once that it is difficult to defend the destruction of that factory.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley gets any satisfaction out of it, I will say "murdered." I myself have had the fullest inquiry made into the case. I will tell the House what I found. I found that from 100 to 150 men went to Balbriggan determined to revenge the death of a popular comrade shot at and murdered in cold blood. I find it is impossible out of that 150 to find the men who did the deed, who did the burning. I have had the most searching inquiry made. I have laid down a code of still more severe discipline for the Royal Irish Constabulary, and I shall be glad to know that it will meet with approval. I myself had a parade of a large number of the Royal Irish Constabulary. I addressed them. I saw that what I said was published in nearly every paper in Ireland. I do not want to weary the House with a repetition of my speech, but I put the matter in as strong words as I could command that their business, and mine, was to prevent crime and to detect criminals, and when there was great provocation they must not give way. But I cannot in my heart of hearts—and, Mr. Speaker, I say this—it maybe right or it may be wrong—I cannot condemn in the same way those policemen who lost their heads as I condemn the assassins who provoked this outrage. My quarrel with the right hon Gentleman the Member for Paisley and his friends is that they put all the emphasis on reprisals in Ireland; I put it on the provocation.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The best and the surest way to stop reprisals is to stop the murder of policemen, soldiers, and loyal citizens. I regret these reprisals 948 beyond words. It is a reflection on the discipline of a famous force. It is a reflection upon my administration as political head of that force. But if I could bring to the minds and hearts of every Member of this House, I do not care on what Benches they sit, the two years of agony, of the intolerable provocation that these policemen, and in some cases soldiers, have gone through, the situation would be better understood, and reprisals, whilst condemned, and properly condemned, would be also understood.
I am coming now to another form of reprisals, in relation to the creameries. I will give the facts about these creameries, and the House must judge on the facts. There are in Ireland 710 creameries. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) says 100 have been burned. That is totally inaccurate. The total number of creameries destroyed is 16 and partially destroyed, 11. Long before reprisals became a war-cry, I dealt with the matter myself in answer to letters from Sir Horace Plunkett, who wrote on the 19th of August last in reference to creameries and their destruction. I will read one paragraph from a letter which I sent in reply on the 21st of August last. It was then a very important view and it is now—I deplore and condemn these outrages which have no other result than to injure the economic and agricultural development of the country, and I can assure you that the Irish Government will do all in its power to put a stop to them and to punish those responsible. The difficulty is to obtain evidence as to the persons responsible. So far the outstanding difficulty has been that the sufferers have been unable or unwilling to come forward with such evidence, and I am very glad to sec that you undertake that the officers of the Society will do all they can to aid us in this respect. If evidence is brought forward proving that any servant of the Government is guilty of any such outrage, the offender will be dealt with severely. As regards compensation, no question of the charge of compensation against public funds can arise until the claims have been preferred in the ordinary way in the Courts, and the Courts have adjudicated on them. May I ask you to assure the Society that I fully realise the gravity and importance of this matter, and that the Government shares equally with the Society the desire that these outrages should be prevented.I have never seen a tittle of evidence to prove that the servants of the Crown have destroyed these creameries, and I must act on evidence, whether I am 949 prosecuting servants of the Crown or the assassins of servants of the Crown. I presume it is this destruction of creameries which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley refers to as a deliberate attack upon the economic and industrial development of Ireland. Happily, that development does not depend upon the destruction of 16 out of about 710 creameries, and I claim credit for my colleageus and the Irish Government for having done our best to meet this campaign of murder without interfering with the industrial and economic development of Ireland. So successful have we been that the estimated Exchequer receipts of revenue from Ireland during the first six months of the financial year are very nearly equalled by the actual revenue for those six months. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley is an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he knows as well as I do that that is a significant sign of the industrial development of Ireland, and shows that it is not being crushed or even hampered by His Majesty's Government. I think things could be much better, but the charge cannot fairly be made against the Irish Government that we have done anything which was avoid-able to interfere with the economical and commercial development of Ireland.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes referred to certain outrages, and I will occupy a few minutes more dealing with the actual facts of one day's experience in Ireland. A woman in County Roscommon was accused of supplying milk to the local police. Four men entered her house, two of them seized her by the hands and feet, another put his hand over her mouth, while a fourth, who were a mask, fastened three pig rings with pincers in her flesh. There are other offences such as stealing motor cars, the boycotting and threatening of magistrates, the cutting of telegraph wires, burning barracks, the stealing of bicycles, etc. The murders of police are only a small proportion of the offences of an ordinary day in Ireland. I am glad to tell the House that things are improving and I believe the improvement will be maintained.
Let me just give some extracts from a letter of a well-known assassin who is on the run, as hundreds of them are. Some of them have come to England, and I suppose I am the only man in London 950 who took rather a grim pleasure in witnessing the riot in a London street the other day. That is a daily business for me in Ireland, but if the riot which took place in London had been in Ireland the young hooligans would have been armed members of the Irish Republican Army. They would have shot policemen in the back and policemen would have shot in return. Innocent men would have been killed, and would anybody have been bold enough to have blamed the British Government if the police shot back, or innocent people were shot in the mêlée. Then why do you blame the Irish Government? We have this kind of thing going on every day, especially in towns like Belfast, where, but for the police and the military, there would be a massacre. Here is a letter from a well-known assassin:Yours to the Chief of Stuff re the stuff to hand.I may explain that "the stuff" means explosives, munitions, rifles, revolvers, and expanding bullets for the Irish Republican Army. The object of all this is to kill and murder everybody in Ireland who does his duty to this House. The letter proceeds:For God's sake, Dan, have a hit of sense. What the hell do you or I need to care about the Dublin Corporation. Besides, Dan, the evidence that Beatie really was there to burn the Town Hall would not hang a cat in any Court of Justice.That refers to the death of a gallant officer who jumped from a burning Town Hall in Tipperary, and died as a consequence of his action. The letter proceeds:I will hold over your resignation until I hear from you. E. O'Dwyer is resigning because there is too much fight. He thinks the enemy's way of burning is a knock-out Wow to active service. I felt like chucking it myself, because, like yourself. I think things are too slow, and that we should bum England, but there is such a lot of terror creeping into the Republican ranks that my monkey is up and I will see matters through this crisis if I can. I quite agree with you, Dan, and I don't at all think your idea a bit too wild. As to your suggestion of a South Tipperary contingent going to England, I will speak to G.H.Q. on the matter.I may say that the G.H.Q. are quite alive to the fact, and the head of that gang is also on the run. The letter finishes:Write soon. Cheerio!Then there are a number of other things which you would expect to find in a letter from one assassin to another. Those are the men we are arresting every clay. They are the men that are shot 951 when resisting arrest. These are the men who are shot when, on the command "hands up!" they either shoot back or run away. They are known. We know hundreds of them, and with the continued confidence of this House we will track down every one. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley said the Restoration of Order Act in Ireland, as he prophesied, had been a failure, but I flatly deny it, because it has been most successful. The total number of arrests and convictions for the six weeks proceeding the operation of that Act was 260 arrests, 36 convictions and two acquittals. For the period following, that is, the six weeks after the Act came into operation, the number of arrests was 433, convictions 233, and acquittals 56. I think there is no dispute as to the expedition and fairness of the operation of the Courts-Martial. As a rule the accused person is tried and sentenced or acquitted within a fortnight of his arrest, and it is my policy in Ireland, carried out by the soldiers and the police, not to arrest people for their political opinions.
We are dealing with the leaders of this conspiracy of murder, and we believe that if we catch them we have broken the back of this conspiracy, which has the desperate object of smashing up the British Empire. I can assure the House that things are growing better. The statistics of outrages for the week ending the 16th inst, show a great decline in the total amount of crime throughout the country. Every week furnishes satisfactory evidence that the number of persons actually engaged in lawlessness has considerably decreased. We have had some pitiable letters from the fathers of young hooligans who have got enmeshed in this Irish Republican Army. Thousands of them are struggling to migrate to America, but the Americans do not now welcome the emigrant from Ireland as they used to do in days gone by, for the obvious reason that they do not wish to have in America this disturbing element. In Ireland crime is now particularly directed against the police force, the soldiers and against the loyal servants of the Crown and other loyal civilians. It is to meet that campaign against the police and soldiers that the Government of Ireland is now directing its attention and using all the forces at its command. 952 The Army six months ago was young and untrained. To-day to my mind it is one of the most efficient military units in the Empire. Six months ago the Royal Irish Constabulary were resigning or retiring at the rate of a hundred per week. They are now growing at the rate of hundreds weekly and retirements and resignations are declining. Last week there were twenty-five recruits from Ireland alone, a larger number than was the average number of recruits in peaceful days in Ireland.
One other point before I conclude. Great play was made by the right hon. Member for Widnes—and I have no doubt the right hon. Member for Paisley and others who may want to make speeches against the Government of Ireland say the same thing—of the inconvenience and sometimes suffering caused to innocent persons by the forces of the Crown in the present state of affairs in Ireland. I have made up my mind it is essential to search Ireland for arms, including Ulster. I am very much condemned sometimes by Ulstermen. Only last week a preacher came to Dublin from there and preached a violent sermon, in the course of which he accused me of being a Sinn Feiner with a Papist wife—my splendid wife without whom I would not go on with this job in Ireland. I warn the right hon. Member for Duncairn that he may be suspect soon of being a Sinn Feiner. [An HON MEMBER: "He is a rebel!"] There never was a country in the world's history, there never was a time in the history of any country, when suspicion was so common, deep, and wide as it is in Ireland to-day. There are no two Irishmen to my mind in Ireland who implicitly trust one another. They only agree either in condemning the British Government or in asking for more money from the British Exchequer. They also agree in abusing the Irish Government. I shall consider I am in no sense succeeding if ever I do get the approval of any large number of Irishmen.
If this policy of searching for arms, by which inconvenience is bound to be caused, has the support of the House, I am going on with it. I intend to rake Ireland from east to west and from north to south, and no man, what ever his position, no house, whatever its size or nature, will be free from the loyal forces of the Crown in their searches for these weapons which, owing to their free and unrestricted 953 import after the repeal of the Arms Act, 1906, formed a very starting point for this frightful campaign of murder. I look forward to the time—I hope it will be an early date—when there will be no arms of any shape or kind in Ireland except those under the absolute control of the Government. I hope the House will back me up in that policy. If innocent people suffer temporarily, surely in the long run it is better for every well-disposed person in Ireland to have the country free from these arms, free from ammunition, including expanding bullets, which as long as they are in the hands of persons will be a menace to the lives and property of Irish people.
I do not consider that the right hon. Gentleman has made out any case for this insulting Resolution—insulting to those loyal officers of the Crown, of whose dangers he knows nothing and whose dangers he has not the honour to share. I submit that the immediate, pressing, and paramount duty of the Irish Government now is to break up this murder gang that has terrorised Ireland and rendered the mass of the Irish people inarticulate while it carries out the murders of servants of the Crown. I appeal to this Rouse to strengthen me, to strengthen the loyal civil servants who go about from day to day in danger of their lives, and many have lost their lives. I ask the House to strengthen the police who risk everything, to strengthen the soldiers who risk everything, not in fighting any opinion in Ireland, however extreme, but in extirpating at its very root this policy of assassination, which cannot help Ireland, which is intended to wreck England, and which can only be put down by this House and its officers. In this effort I consider we are representing, not-only the British Government, but civilisation itself. To tolerate a campaign of murder is to abdicate the first principle of civilised government. I shall never be a party to giving in one inch to this policy, whatever the danger may be, and I am glad to say that the loyal servants of the Crown of Ireland, many of whom have been menaced for years, whose friends have been murdered in months gone by, are prepared to go through with their difficult duties. All we ask is that we shall continue to have the loyal support of this House, whose servants we are, and whose wishes we desire to carry out, and with that backing we will go forward, 954 and I believe in a few months there will be an end of this murderous campaign in Ireland, which has done more to hold back the legitimate aspirations of the country than anything else in its history.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
During the course of the very interesting speech to which we have listened some hon. Members challenged me for defending certain acts of the Sinn Feiners and of the Republican Brotherhood in Ireland. It seems to me the House is still under a complete misapprehension as to what our case against the Government is, but I hope some Members, at any rate, will have a sufficient sense of duty towards their country to support this impartial inquiry which is asked for. The Chief Secretary used the word "murder" more often than any other word throughout the whole of his speech. I too will use the word "murder." I have condemned murder, not only in this House, but outside on public platforms, especially with reference to the assassination of police and other servants of the down in Ireland. I have done it in the pest, and I shall do it again. There is, however, another side to the matter. The whole of the Sinn Fein organisation does not consist of a gang of murderers, and anyone who holds that it does is a stranger to the truth. During the last four months I have had figures from a well-known tainted source which should be refuted if they can he. They give chapter and verse, and I am told by Irish Unionists that the information issued by the Sinn Fein Bulletin is on the whole accurate and fair. I find from this information that 269 armed police and soldiers were captured by Republican bands during the four months ending August, 1920. I should like to ask if that is an exaggeration or a falsehood, or whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to accept the figures? Is it not the case that these men were all released without being harmed? If Sinn Fein was nothing but a gang of murderers, surely they would have taken the opportunity, when they had these men in their power, to make away with them. But they did not do so.
The position in Ireland amounts to this: either there is a state of war or there is not. The Sinn Fein organisation 955 claims that there is a state of war in Ireland and that they are in open conflict with the forces of the Crown. The Chief Secretary, I imagine, and the Government will not acquiesce in that description of the position. But I declare, taking the position as a whole, with certain dastardly exceptions, the conduct of the Sinn Fein organisation towards their prisoners has been in accord with the usages of war, and I would quote the case of Brigadier-General Lucas, in which no complaint was made that he was insulted or treated badly or in any manner which was not due to his rank. I am sorry to say that apparently the captives made by our forces in Ireland are not treated in the same way. They are lcoked upon as rebels, but they are not treated as such; they are treated in a way in which men ought not to be treated by civilised captors. Case after case has been reported in the papers and elsewhere of these men being flogged to extort confession. I do not expect the Chief Secretary to listen to me all the time, but I should be grateful if he would answer me now on this point: Reports of these cases appear in the papers. They are not only from the "Sinn Fein Bulletin," but include statements on oath of men who, after having been seized by the police in Ireland, are Hogged in order to extract confessions as to the whereabouts of their comrades. Whatever feeling we have about the campaign of murder and assassination in Ireland, I do not think that we can resort to torture to extract information. That led us into a war with Spain three hundred years ago—the torture of Englishmen to make them confess information to their Spanish captors. If it goes on, it may lead us into a war of another kind in our own time. I would ask the Chief Secretary, has he given the clearest injunctions that any flogging will be put down with the sternest hand, and that either the "third degree," as practised in America, or any other form of torture, will be discountenanced by the Government?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Of course, I answer at once. I have not had any of these cases brought to my knowledge, and I cannot accept as true information as to things of that kind in papers notoriously hostile to the Government. If, however, my hon. and gallant Friend, 956 or any other hon. Member, will bring a specific case to my notice, I can promise that I will have the most careful investigation made, and that I will treat as a most severe breach of discipline the flogging of anyone by any unauthorised person.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I thank the right hon. Gentleman; I shall certainly do it. Some months ago I sent him a letter sent to me by an Irishman—an engine-room artificer who served twenty years at sea in the Navy. That letter gave a most specific case of a man brought up in a van bleeding and wounded, and it went on to describe the way in which this man was kicked and knocked about when being taken into gaol. He may have been an assassin, but you do not ill-treat the vilest murderer when you capture him, if you make any sort of claim to civilised government. I take it that the Chief Secretary still thinks that, in spite of his Chief's disclamours at Carnarvon and elsewhere. We are accused of getting information from a tainted source. I have visiting me here to-day two Irish Protestants from the south-west of Ireland, one a landowner who served thirteen months in the Army, and the other a retired naval officer who served throughout the War—partly with me—at sea. They have an extraordinary story to tell of the system in the south-west. A letter, which I should like read to the Committee, was written to me by one of these gentlemen some time ago. They then decided to come over and see me personally. This gentleman is a retired naval officer, a member of a good Irish family, a Protestant, and a man who, in the ordinary course of things, is quite probably a thoroughly loyal subject of His Majesty. He says—I leave names and addresses out for obvious reasons, but I will, if desired, show the original to any hon. Member—I received yours all right and sent it on to B. I hope he will see his way to come over with me. We had an object lesson as to the proper way to rule people yesterday. Three lorries full of Black and Tans came to this village about 2 p.m., and, after having drinks at a couple of public-houses, proceeded to amuse themselves after their own fashion by knocking about a couple of men who did not have anything to do with them—one an Irish Guardsman who fought through the War, the other a very hard-working respectable farmer. After this display of terrorism they departed, firing a few shots. No control over ammunition 957 seems to be exercised. On Wednesday night the police at—for obvious reasons I wish only to give the names of these gentlemen, or the places where they live, in confidence—were firing rifles, revolvers, and bombs from 8 p.m. to 2.30 a.m. just as an exhibition of high spirits, which had the effect of scaring a lot of people. English people ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing their forces to be used in this manner; it is deliberate persecution; any man would be a cur not to resent it. You can, of course, make what use you like of this letter, leaving out names, as I do not wish to have my head knocked in with the butt of a rifle. Place names also should not be mentioned.This gentleman did as good service in the War as the right hon. Gentleman himself, and he is a member of a good family.Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and, 40 Members being found present—
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
That is one case. Now I will give a case from a tainted source—from the Sinn Fein Bulletin. Hon. Members, however, must remember that these bulletins go all over the world, and extracts from them are printed in every language. This sort of thing is good copy; it gets reprinted in the American papers—especially the Hearst Press—in certain French organs, and everywhere where we might possibly have ill-wishers. It therefore deserves to be fully investigated. The quotation which I am about to give from the "Irish Bulletin" claims to be the sworn statement of a man named Thomas Hales—Commandant Thomas Hales, of the Irish Republican Army. He says that he was captured on a farm and was brought inside the house, where he saw Captain Kelly and other military officers. I may say that I do not accept at all the statement which I am about to quote. There is no proof of it, but what I am asking for is an investigation of this sort of thing. I wish to be quite clear that I do not accept the statement at all. It proceeds:I had no coat on at the time. They then took me into an outhouse, and took all my other clothes off me and searched them for documents. They found some documents on me, and on searching my coat, which was hanging up, they spilt out of it some cartridges. I had no cartridges in my possession, and I am of the opinion that those were placed there by the military Captain Kelly and Lieut. Keogh took all my clothes off me. Lieut. Keogh said, 'You have documents with regard to the boycott of the R.I.C.' When I was undressed they strapped my hands behind my back with leather 958 straps, and put them round my neck and mouth. Harte was also strapped in a similar position. I was not in a position to defend myself, and Lieut. Keogh hit me several times in the face and on the body. Kelly said, 'You have some documents from the Adjutant-General per Michael Collins.' (He apparently assumed that 'M.C.' stood for Michael Collins.) They dressed me again, tied my hands behind my back with leather straps, and also dressed Harte. Kelly said, 'You will be shot.' They put straps round my legs as well as round Harte's legs. They made me stand up; they made Harte stand behind me. They discovered a slab of gun-cotton on the farm. I do not know whether it was brought in by the military or not. They placed the gun-cotton on Harte's back, trapped it there, and Kelly said, 'Be prepared for a shock.' They looked round for a detonator, but could not find one. They then took the gun-cotton off Harte's back, and while my hands were strapped behind my back, and Harte's hands were also strapped behind his back, Lieut. Keogh hit me and Harte in the face several times. He hit me very hard, and he had in his hand, I believe, the butt-end of a revolver.There are other details which I need not go into, but they describe that they were stripped and beaten with canes, in order to extract confession from them. It then goes on;Kelly then told one of the officers to go out and get the pliers. He then said, 'You are an anarchist and a murderer. You have organised all the murder and attacks on barracks in this part of the country.' He said, 'Where, were you on Sunday? Were you at Mass, and at what Mass?' I said, 'I was at Mass at Rossmore.' He then asked me, was I not responsible for raising the training camp at Glandore last year? I refused to answer. The two officers then gave me about forty cuts each on my bare-legs. Kelly then said, 'Will you refuse to tell me, was Professor Gerald O'Sullivan commander of the camp?' told him I did not know such a man. He said, 'You are a damned liar.' The two officers then gave me vicious blows on the legs, and the blood was flowing down my legs from several wounds in them. Dr. Shannon, civilian doctor of Cork Prison, saw the scars that were on my legs. The scars were visible for three weeks after this night's event.He then goes on to describe—I do not wish to harrow the House—the tortures inflicted on this man with pincers by the officers, apparently with the intention of extracting confessions or information about his confederates. As I said at the beginning, I do not accept these statements, but such statements are accepted, or, at least, they are printed in papers all over the world. Such statements are published in the "Daily News" in London—you may say it is opposed to the Government, but it is read by a very big public—and the "Manchester 959 Guardian," which is also read by a very big public, although it is hostile to the Government, strange to say. We are asking for a definite investigation into cases of this sort, and, if the Government do not give it, then they have something to hide.
I would ask hon. Members to cast their minds back over the history of other national struggles. Every hon. Member will recollect the struggle of the Cuban people for freedom from Spain. It went on for years, and there were fighting, massacring and insurrection there. All that we used to hear about here in London was the brutality of the Spanish police and troops in Cuba—the burning of villages, the outraging of women, and the murder of men. In Madrid all that was heard of was the brutal murder of Spanish soldiers and police by wicked Cubans, and in Barcelona they only heard about the murder of their brave Catalonian police, doing their duty to the Spanish Empire in Cuba. Again, take the case of the struggle of Italy for national independence. Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Henry), who is now the sole representative of the Government here, think that no Austrian police or soldiers were killed by Garibaldi's men in North Italy? We heard of nothing but the heroic struggle of the Italian people for freedom; in Vienna they heard of nothing but the brutal assassination of Austrian policemen doing their duty in Italy. In Poland all we heard of was the heroic struggle of the Poles and the atrocities committed by the Tsarist police. I wager that in Odessa and Kieff and Moscow all they heard of was the assassination of the brave Russian police by the revolutionary bands of the Polish Republican Brotherhood. Pilsudski, the present President of Poland, was himself accused of being a member of a secret brotherhood in Poland which tried to gain the freedom of Poland by massacring the Tsarist police.
It is the same right through history. The people outside the two contending forces only see and have sympathy with the struggle of the oppressed nationality. The people of the oppressors hear of nothing but the murder of their police. Is it not probable that the Turkish inhabitants of Constantinople were driven to fury by tales of assassination of 960 Turkish officials and soldiers in Armenia? But an election was fought in this country by Mr. Gladstone on the Armenian and Bulgarian atrocities, and all we heard of here was the struggle of the Bulgarians and the Armenians, while what they heard in Turkey, for the most part, was the wicked assassination of the Turkish police and soldiers doing their duty by the glorious Ottoman Empire. Do not, therefore, let us make any mistake. Every hon. Member on these Benches condemns these murders of police, but people abroad have the greatest sympathy with a nationality struggling for freedom against what is represented to be a tyrant power over them.
The campaign of murder and terrorism has been condemned on these Benches. It has been condemned from the pulpits and from the Catholic priesthood in Ireland. It has been condemned in the pastoral letters of Irish bishops. But all the police and soldiers who figure in the Government casualty lists were not murdered by being shot in the back in the middle of towns. A great many of them were killed in open fighting in which the assailants suffered as heavily as they did. These ambushes which the Chief Secretary describes were carried out at some risk to the attackers, and the complaint that we make is not that in that sort of attacks, where punishment and death are inflicted on the attackers, men are shot by the servants of the Crown. Our complaint is that lynch law is almost openly encouraged by the Government and most flagrantly encouraged and supported by the Prime Minister himself. This campaign in Ireland, fortunately, has its touches of humour. Might I quote a few lines from the "Manchester Guardian" of 14th October, 1920, about the raid by the military on the Richmond lunatic asylum. It says:Apart from the smashing of locks, presses and general dislocation of the work of the Institution, the raid was not destitute of farcical elements. One patient was arrested for speaking flippantly to the raiders. The main purpose of the raid was to arrest an attendant. On arrival the soldiers ran up to the man they were looking for, but did not know him. The officer in charge asked the man if he had seen him. 'Not for the past hour,' replied the wanted man himself. The attendant took off his uniform and donned the dress of a turbulent patient. He then interned himself in a padded cell, and the military left without him.961 That sort of thing really, I think, is not altogether an unfair example of the impotence of the Government in Ireland. The Chief Secretary says they are putting down terror. Might I ask whether one of the patients in the asylum was really arrested for speaking flippantly to the troops, and will the charge against him be sedition or insubordination or treason to the Crown or what will it be? I could not help mentioning that, because in spite of the tragedy of the situation it has its moments of comedy.
I have talked to confirmed and ardent Sinn Feiners who have approached me and whom I have met in various ways about the whole system in Ireland, and I have spoken very plainly to them about the murders. They say that the police and the troops who lose their lives are either killed in open fighting—and I suppose it will be admitted by the Government that there is a good deal of that—or else they are accused of being spies and shot. We who pay these police and who are responsible for the policy of Ireland cannot acquiesce in the doctrine that our servants are spies, though that is the view held by their fellow-countrymen in Ireland, and these men are shot on that pretext, but this system of reprisals by apparently a concerted plan of campaign, and burning down their houses, which apparently is what is being done to-day, I do not think, when it comes to be known, will really be approved of by the English people. The Chief Secretary denounced the murders at Balbriggan, but apparently, if I read him aright, he is advocating a system of burning down houses. I am told that in Ireland to-day the soldiers are acting under officers, and they say they have orders to burn down certain houses. In some cases the officers apologise to the inmates, who are usually women, and the soldiers have actually assisted in getting the furniture out of the houses. Is it really considered that the burning of these men's houses will make them any more amenable to British rule? Is that really the way that we can bring about reconciliation between the English and the Irish people? Is it the way that honestly commends itself to the English people? Belgium has been mentioned. In Germany the excesses in Belgium were excused in the Reichstag by stories of the Belgian civilians firing from their houses on the brave German troops. 962 "Our brave field greys are being shot down by these dangerous Belgians." A few members of the Reichstag protested, but the German people on the whole did not protest, and they accepted the Government's defence for the burning of towns, the taking of hostages, and reprisals on the Belgian people, and, in consequence, they have been adjudged guilty, as well as their Government, by the conscience of the world.
If we do not protest against this system of terrorism which the Chief Secretary haltingly defends, and the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for War boasts of, we shall be guilty before the eyes of the world of adopting exactly the same spirit they adopted in Belgium. They had the same excuse. Germany was fighting for her life, and it was necessary that the numbers of troops on the lines of communication should be kept as low as possible. They could not tolerate the brave German officers and soldiers being shot down by Belgian civilians. It was necessary to strike terror into the inhabitants. The same defence is being made by the Government to-day for this system of burnings in Ireland. If we do not condemn it, we shall be as guilty as the German people, and worse. This House may not condemn it, but I hope the people outside will. If not, then Germany will have won the War. The Prussian spirit will have entered into us. The Prussian spirit at last will be triumphant, and the 800,000, the flower of our race, who lie buried in a score of battle-fronts will really have died in vain. If we are simply going to excuse this system of terrorising people, and keeping them bound down in an unwanted alliance with us by force, by burning the houses of their soldiers and by terrorising women and children, we condone the doctrine of might over right, and Germany has won and we have lost. That is the tragic, wicked part of it.
I do not want to labour this thing too much. I suppose things of the sort happen wherever a small nation is struggling for freedom. We know it happened in the Balkans under the Turks. History, especially the history of the last century, shows that suppressed nationalities always in the end win if the people have the courage to fight on, and I believe the Irish people have that courage to fight on. The War Secretary (Mr. Churchill) jeers at the 963 fasting Lord Mayor of Cork. Will he (Mr. Churchill) go for three days without food? Will he go one day without drink? He jeered on the public platform at the Lord Mayor of Cork. That is the spirit of a man who is inspired by such an ideal that he will deliberately starve himself. Michael Fitzgerald died the other day in Cork Goal, untried and uncondemned, as a hunger-striker. I suppose hon. Members now will not suggest that the whole thing is a fraud. That spirit is a dangerous spirit for us. I do not think there are many hon. Members who are prepared to starve themselves for 69 days. It is because people have not feared to die under the most revolting and horrible circumstances for an ideal in Ireland that I think they will win in the end. The only thing is, Can we even now come to some honourable settlement with them which will not irretrievably embitter the relations between the two peoples? I was challenged to defend certain things during the speech of the Chief Secretary. I am trying to take it up. I said there have been murders by the forces of the Crown, these gallant men with military crosses and D.S.O.s, and the Chief Secretary admitted it. After the shooting of that policeman in Balbriggan by policemen in plain clothes, 12 hours afterwards in the small hours of the morning, 150 men drove up in lorries from the police depot some miles away. They called two men out of their houses in their night-shirts and did them to death. They burnt their houses, they burnt public-houses, they burnt the factory on which the people depended for their livelihood. I am glad the Chief Secretary at any rate admits that the killing of men like that without trial is murder, even if it is done by the bravest man in the British Army. If he had done that to a prisoner in France, he would have been tried by court-martial and shot. If he docs it to one of our fellow-countrymen in Ireland he deserves at any rate to be tried. It is the only way we can clear our name from this stigma which at present rests on us. Stories of terrorism in Ireland are being repeated in every capital in Europe. The more sensational statements about excesses in Irish towns are being printed in the principal newspapers in England and America. It is supplying fine 964 ammunition for our enemies, and after events of the last six years we are not without enemies in the world.
There are hon. Members of the Conservative party who make a great pretence of standing for law and order. If your police and your military in Ireland break out to-day and you do not condemn it, if the Government does not take the most drastic steps to put down indiscipline in the forces, what will happen to-morrow? You have your White Guard in Ireland to-day. You have this special body of ex-officers. I have here an advertisement from my local paper in Hull headed "Employment for ex-officers." It talks of the fine open-air life for these young men, and the pay of £1 per day. If these men are allowed to exercise lynch law in Ireland—and these men have only just gone over to Ireland; it is ridiculous to talk of two years' strain and suffering—if they are allowed to shoot men out of hand on suspicion of being Sinn Feiners or of being murderers what will they do in England to-morrow? We may have a Labour Government in this country. We may get some form of passive resistance by the propertied classes to legislation introduced into this House. These White Guards may be extraordinarily handy in this country. They may set a torch to a barrel of gunpowder and blow up the constitution of the country. Once that sort of thing starts you do not know where it will end, and to think we can tolerate lynch law, terrorism, the burning of houses on suspicion, and if we think that can stop at the other side of St. Georges Channel, we have an optimism which history does not warrant. There is one bright spot in the situation. I am told by all who come in contact with them that the so-called Black and Tans, mostly ex-soldiers, are hardened by the War, and many of them are heavy drinkers. There is a residue in every army after a war which is not really suitable for civilian life. If they have good homes, and go to steady employment they may get over the blunting effects of the War. There is a certain percentage who are not able to re-settle themselves into the relations of peace. It is these men who have been attracted into the special Irish Constabulary. I am only generalising. There may be finer men among them than 965 can be found in this House, probably there are, but there is a strong percentage of these hard cases; men who may be excellent soldiers, but who are not suitable for police work amongst civilians, especially amongst a race they have been taught to hate by the propaganda of the Government. These men have been let loose in Ireland, and their reprisals have been condoned. There are many of us who have some show of evidence that this is a deliberate policy of terrorism. There has, however, been one bright spot. There have been no sexual outrages on women. We have not followed the Germans in that respect. Thank God, English, Scottish, and Welsh soldiers have not sunk to that depth. There have been murders of men and the terrorising of women, the firing of ricks, and the burning down of houses, but there have been no cases, so far as I can gather, of accusations of outrages on women. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite can take no credit for that. They have let these men loose, and, apparently, they have been freely supplied with drink, if all we hear is true. I am not speaking only on information from so-called tainted sources, but on information from respectable, responsible newspapers, with experienced journalists, who have reported what has happened in these cases. These men have been let loose to terrorise people whom the Government wish to terrorise; people who will not look at their suggested system of limited Home Rule, and who demand independence, and whom the Government wish to terrorise out of their just demands. These men might have gene in for outrages upon women, and it is not the fault of the Government that they have not done so. Thank God, English, Scottish, and Welsh soldiers have sufficient sense of honour not to outrage the women, and I hope they will keep their hands off the women of Ireland, even if they do not keep their hands off the men.
In closing, I would like to refer to the Arbitration Courts. My Irish Protestant friends tell me that the only redress they have lies in these courts, and the only semblance of law and order in Ireland to-day are the Arbitration Courts. Those Courts are well conducted, and they are progressively used by a large section of the population. A gentleman who is now in the gallery, an Irish Unionist landowner, 966 assures me that, if his cattle are driven, or if anyone attempts to squat on his land, his redress lies in the Arbitration Court, and that the judgments of the Arbitration Court are fair and are respected. May I give the House one case where two men had a dispute about land? The father had died, and the two sons disputed how the land was to be divided between them. The father's will said that the land must be equally divided, and the men appealed to the Sinn Fein Court. The judgment of the Court was that the eldest brother would divide the land into two and the younger brother would choose which half he would have. That is the sort of justice which is being meted out by the Arbitration Courts, and they are being resorted to by men of both denominations, and by men of all political creeds. Those Courts are now being attacked; they are now being put down, and when they go I suppose that the only law remaining in Ireland will be, on the one hand, the terrorism of the republican brotherhood, and, on the other, the terrorism of the so-called guardians of law and order under the British Crown.
Hon. Members, I am afraid, do not want these charges investigated, and, because the Government is really afraid of the charges being investigated, they will vote down our Motion to-night. There will be an inquiry, nevertheless. An inquiry has been set up in America, and in connection with it there are 100 names of very distinguished persons in that country, men who are Americans, and not simply Irish Americans, distinguished judges, public men, lawyers, and great captains of industries. These men are sitting investigating these charges. I believe Ireland will win through, and I believe she will still be the friend of this country in a world-wide international body, despite the exploiters of patriotism who are exploiting patriotism to-day in its worst form. With them it is a case of my country, right or wrong, whatever happens. That sort of patriotism destroyed the German Empire, and I believe the exploiters of patriotism to-day will be powerless.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I do not agree with the kind of speech which we have just heard. I cannot accept a view which I will not say ignores, but almost ignores the outrages on the police, and is confined entirely to a condemnation of what are called reprisals. The attitude of mind of the hon. and gallant Member 967 (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is really to adopt the point of view of the Irish Republican party. He regards them as an independent country and us as the aggressors. That seems to be a view which it is quite impossible to sustain both in reason and from the point of view of a British Member of Parliament. On the other hand, I do not feel myself altogether happy about the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. I did admire, as we all did, the eloquence and vigour with which he spoke, and I most fully welcome, with both hands, his well-merited denunciation of the shocking outrages and crimes which have been committed against the police and other officials in Ireland. I shall be within the recollection of the House when I say that this is not a new attitude on my part. I have constantly urged upon the Government and the House the immense importance of protecting the servants of the Crown in Ireland. I began very many months ago, and I availed myself of every opportunity which the forms of the House gave me for advancing that point of view. I moved the adjournment of the House and I spoke on every occasion when I could speak. I urged in the strongest way that it was the first duty of any Government to protect its servants in Ireland. I am glad to hear what some of us wish had been more vigorously expressed in those earlier days a wholehearted condemnation of this campaign of crime and a real determination to put it down, and I am very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he is making great progress in that direction.
The House is bound to take note not only of the actual condition of things in Ireland but the causes which have led to that condition. I do not take the view which is put forward by hon. Gentleman opposite that there is any excuse for the campaign of outrage and murder which has taken place, because the overwhelming majority of people in the South and West have failed to realise their political aspirations. That doctrine is a doctrine which leads straight to revolution and anarchy. You cannot maintain for one moment the doctrine that because a political reform is denied to a people they are justified in embarking upon a campaign of murder and outrage. I am bound to say, and I think 968 it right to say, that there is much in the conduct of the Government in Ireland which does appear to be very blameworthy in this connection. We are told that the beginnings of this campaign were visible years ago, before the War came to an end. I think the whole treatment of Ireland in those days was most unwise. There was a kind of feeling that we must give differential treatment to Ireland, and that she was entitled to all sorts of privileges, not because she had done her duty better than any other part of the Empire, but rather because, as some of us thought, she had failed in that respect. I remember one instance, which I thought was most unwise, and that was the release of the prisoners who had been arrested after the rebellion of 1916. That appeared to me to be a most foolish thing to do. There was no question whatever that a great majority of these men were the kind of people who are now leading the campaign of outrage, and there was no reason for letting them out except to create what was called an atmosphere for the Irish convention.
On the other side, I cannot but feel from the information I have—I may be misinformed or imperfectly informed—that a good deal of the repressive measures were extremely ill-conceived. Many of them were not directed against crime but against opinion. I do not share the view of the right hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson) that all the organised outrages were on one side up till 1918 or 1910. The Government may have been mistaken, but they carried out the law. They may have been unwise, but to talk about organised outrages is wrong in a fantastic way. Some of the repressive measures were very foolish. The arrest of people for wearing Sinn Fein colours, the suppression of newspapers and things of that sort were provocative without being of the slightest use in the suppression of crime. I will give an illustration of the kind of thing which I consider to be very foolish. A lady in Cork, at Queenstown, whom I do not know personally, wrote to me about the situation there. A few weeks afterwards, in fact the other day, she wrote me again. She is a lady 80 years of age and she tells me that her house has been searched for papers, not for arms, that all her private correspondence has been taken away—there is no question of any seditious correspondence—and it has never been returned. It is small things 969 like these, this sort of foolish provocative action which causes a great deal of irritation without doing much, if anything, to restore order.
On the one hand we have had the weakness of the Government in releasing prisoners and in giving favours to the Irish, and on the other there has been a provocative form of repression. That went on, and the condition of Ireland steadily became worse, with no effective steps being taken by the Government to suppress real crime or disorder until the introduction of the Irish Home Rule Bill. It seems to me to be about the most foolish thing that could be done in the circumstances. It did not give the slightest ground for hoping for conciliation, and yet looked like a threat to abandon the whole of the forces of law and order in Ireland at a certain time and discourage the effort to repress crime. I have said before, and I repeat, that the administration in Ireland during the last eighteen months has been until quite recently one of the most disastrous and tactless things in the history of the country, and has been largely responsible for allowing the forces of disorder and crime to get ahead as they have done. We have had changes. We have had a new Chief Secretary, and I would like to ask him whether we may be assured that under the new system the administration in Ireland is a unit. One of the difficulties which he has had under the old system was that there were two if not three different authorities in Ireland who apparently were not subject to the control of any one single person. I should be glad to hear that that system has disappeared.
§ Lord R. CECIL
That is very refreshing. I am very glad indeed to hear that the old system has definitely come to an end. That was the state of things until this year. Then, as everybody remembers, at the end of last Session the Government of Ireland introduced the Restoration of Order Bill, which was to re-establish law and order in Ireland. I am very glad to hear the Chief Secretary say that he has done so much to restore law and order, that recruiting for the constabulary is so much better, and that the boycotting of the constabulary has ceased. But what we who voted for that Bill, some portions of which did not seem to us altogether 970 wise, were anxious about was the restoration of the supremacy of the law. My right hon. Friend, in his very interesting and attractive speech, dwelt, as he was fully entitled to do, on the horror and wiekedness of the crimes which have been committed against the police. They are very horrible, very wicked, very outrageous. If he can suggest any adjectives of greater condemnation, I shall be delighted to hear them. But that is not the only reason why they are a great danger to the State. The supremacy of the law is vital to the whole system of order in this country. I remember thirty-four years ago, during a previous discussion of the Irish question in 1866, a brilliant book being written on the "Law of the Constitution," by Professor Dicey, and he there pointed out what is undoubtedly true, that the supremacy of the law, as we understand it, is largely a British conception, one of the great contributions that we have made to the progress and enlightenment of mankind. It exists in this country in a way in which it exists in no other country. It means two things—the absolute omnipotence of the law, and that everybody shall be equal before the law. Those two things are the great guarantees of freedom which we have in this country.
It would ill-become me, speaking before many Members who know the subject far better than I do, to attempt to give a historical lecture on the subject. Anyone who has read English history even as cursorily as I have read it will know that these two things were always at the bottom of the great constitutional struggles in this country. They were the great gift which the magnificent genius of the early Plantagenet kings gave to this country. They were the great boon, the great possession for which the people of this country fought in the great rebellion and in the Revolution of 1688. Therefore, and this is the point of view which I do venture very respectfully to press on the House as one of enormous importance, what we want to reestablish in Ireland is the supremacy of the law. That is, a fixed declared rule which shall be enforced against everybody, officials and private subjects alike, so that all shall know the extent of their rights and the extent to which they are protected from the attacks of their neighbours and others. And if there is anything in the charge about reprisals do let us recognise 971 that it is a most serious offence affecting the very foundations of the liberty of this country. That is a thing which I venture very respectfully to press upon the attention of the House. I do think that this must not be treated as a slight and unimportant matter and put aside merely as the inevitable result of the excited feelings and justifiable indignation of men submitted to an intolerable strain. It is not a question of condemnation. I do not wish to condemn the men in the slightest degree. It is the Government that I desire to criticise in this matter.
I admit that when I come to deal with any Irish question, I am always brought up with this terrible difficulty, that not only, as the Chief Secretary points out, does every Irishman suspect every other Irishman, but that no two Irishmen agree as to any single fact in the history of their country. I listened to the Chief Secretary's account of what he understands to happen in these reprisals. I must say I think that he dealt rather lightly with the Balbriggan case. It was a shocking case. It was not the same case as the other two with which he dealt. It was not a case of men who saw a horrible murder committed, who came to the scene immediately after and lost self-control. It was the case of men who came from a distance and carried out proceedings which were of a very serious character, not only destroying houses and burning down a factory, which I believe was owned—and the Chief Secretary will tell me if I am wrong—by a Protestant and a Unionist, but murdering, as the Chief Secretary pointed out, two of the inhabitants of the town. That is a terrible thing to have happened. Please let the House understand that I am not condemning them. They acted as many others might have acted, but here are officers, servants of the Crown, who are entrusted with the duty of protecting law and order, doing something which, whatever the provocation may have been, cuts at the very roots of the supremacy of the law which it is the object of every reasonable man to see restored in Ireland.
My right hon. Friend says he does not believe the stories which he hears about the reprisals. They are all the fabrications of the propaganda department of the Irish Republican Army. I do not know how far the activities of that department extend, but I will tell the 972 House two or three stories which have reached me. They may have been in some mysterious way created by the Irish Republican Army, but an American journalist came to see me. I knew him as one of the journalists who used to come habitually to receive information from the Foreign Office. I have no reason to doubt that he is an honourable straightforward man. He had just come back from Ireland. In these days one has to be very careful about quoting any body, and I can only say that he may have been entirely misled. He is the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, and I should gather by his conversation that if not a Sinn Feiner—I do not think he was; at any rate, he expressly rejected Sinn Fein—
§ Lord R. CECIL
He is under the suspicion of every one of the hon. Members. All I can say is that this man came to see me. I asked him about these acts because I knew that I should be told that he was in some way not a trustworthy man. He may have been entirely misled, but he produced upon my mind the impression of a perfectly honest man and he came back from Ireland saying that things were shockingly bad, and he quoted several of these reprisals. He said expressly to me that the burnings had been exaggerated, that when it was said villages were burnt down the damage was not so great, but that three or four, or ten or fifteen houses in a town or village had been burned. He gave me several instances and among them he gave this as the kind of thing he heard. He saw a house burned down by the side of the road and the story he was told on the spot was this. Armed officers of the Crown—he did not say whether they were police or not—came up. They seized some hay. They had reason to suspect that a man they wanted was in the house. They ranged the hay alongside the house. They poured petrol on it. They set it alight, and burned the house down, so he was told.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I am telling the House what he was told by two women and an old man. That is the kind of story. The point is this. My hon. Friend, who is a very ingenious man—
§ Lord R. CECIL
A most admirable man. I have no suspicion of him. This man, I am sure, my hon. Friend would have said is an honest man.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Who will deny that we are right in asking for an inquiry on this subject? I will leave that witness and turn to another. My informant in this case is not an Irishman, and though I do not mention his name I am sure that if I did mention it ho would be accepted by everyone in this House as absolutely trustworthy. He tells me that a friend of his who came over to this country recently lives in a remote village in the West of Ireland, that there had been no outrages at all in the district, except that at a distance of some miles from the village an empty coastguard station had been burned down. He states that the military, about 25 of them, arrived recently, that they stayed for a couple of nights in the village, and that the next day some police arrived and proceeded to throw bombs into various houses in the village. That is the story told to me by a gentleman—I am quite ready to give his name to the Chief Secretary—a person who, I can assure the House, is really one whom every single Member of this House would accept as a witness of truth. Surely the right thing is to have a public investigation.
I am not going to deal with all the things that have appeared in the Press. We are told that they all, or most of them, are lies. There are specific statements. I have one in my hand now to the effect that these shootings and wreckings have taken place in 20, 30, 40 and as many as 100 towns and villages in Ireland. Of course, the Chief Secretary cannot deal with a vast mass of detail of that kind. What I suggest is that these are very serious charges, and that they really cut at the root of the whole conception of British freedom. I notice a tendency in some speakers to liken these things to the type of reprisals that an army in occupation of enemy territory is forced to carry out under the doctrine of martial law. This is not martial law at all. If these things are true, these outrages are committed, without any control, by any group 974 of soldiers or police who think that the provocation they have undergone has been intolerable. What may or may not be a perfectly justifiable thing to do, the infliction of a collective punishment on a district, is at best a very severe and drastic method to adopt, and if it is justifiable it should be carried out with all possible guarantees that no excess is committed and no suffering inflicted on those who do not deserve it. But this is a very different state of things. I again say that I hope I shall not be misunderstood. I am not making attacks on the police or on the military, but on the system by which these things are allowed to be done. The incidents have gone on for months and have been notorious for months.
I am bound to call my right hon. Friend's attention to the charge that is made against the Government. I disbelieve the charge, but it has been made in the public Press, in organs of fair reputation, which I think do require some notice from the Government. The charge is that the Government themselves, if they have not authorised these things, have connived at them and have done something to encourage them. That charge is backed up by the fact that no attempt has been made up to now to stop these things and that no contradiction of the charge by any Minister has yet been made. I listened very carefully to my right hon. Friend this afternoon. I hoped that he would give a contradiction of the charges. It has not been contradicted by the Prime Minister or by the Secretary of State for War or by the Chief Secretary. It is really a tremendous accusation. It has been alleged that the police or the soldiers, labouring under the kind of provocation which has been described, lose their heads, rush off and seize the first instrument of wild revenge they can lay hands on and inflict condign punishment on those who they think, rightly or wrongly, are responsible for the state of things in Ireland. If that has been connived at by the Government it becomes far more serious. I think it is in their own interests and in the interests of the good name of this country that the Government should find means to clear themselves absolutely from a charge of ths kind.
§ Lord R. CECIL
In the "New Statesman." It has appeared in several other newspapers as well. The charge has been made publicly and has not been contradicted. My hon. Friend is a lawyer and knows the importance of a statement of that kind. It is in the interests of this country that the matter should be cleared up definitely. The statement has been repeated all over France and all over America. There are correspondents of French and American papers in Ireland, and these charges are being repeated all over the world. It is very serious. There is the vast importance of our national reputation to be considered. I really have this matter very much at heart. I am very anxious to convince the House, if I can, of the enormous importance of preserving intact the British possession, handed down for generations, of the supremacy of the law. I remember that many years ago when I was in Canada our train stopped at a place called Moose Jaw, then a small town which had suddenly sprung up in the prairie. One of the townsmen showed me round the place. I remember he took me up some stairs into a whitewashed room where a British Court of Justice was sitting. I was then practising barrister. I recall the thrill of pride with which I saw the magnificent and passionless impartiality of the British judicial system at work in that whitewashed hall. I asked my guide, "How is it that from Western Canada we do not hear anything of the kind of stories revealed to us about the wild west in America?" He said the explanation was very simple, and he added that two cowboys had come into Canada recently boasting that they would paint the town red, but the North West Mounted Police soon had them by the heels and they were in prison awaiting trial.
That is the spirit for which I would sacrifice almost anything rather than lose it, and no one will agree with that more than the Secretary of State for War. The cowboys were arrested and they were going to be tried. Right hon. Gentlemen might seem to make a joke about it, but no sympathy will be aroused in the country by jokes of that kind. I know the Secretary of State for War has no respect for law or justice. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] I shall not with draw a truism. That is the case I venture to submit to this House. If I have 976 said anything uncivil about the Secretary of State for War I withdraw it. I do not want to antagonise him, and I am sure he will not be antagonised by a casual observation from me. I do appeal to my right hon. Friends. Hero is a great decision to be taken. Here are charges which really do affect very vitally our position and our reputation in the world. If there is no truth in them, as the Chief Secretary says, then let us have them clearly disproved by the unmistakable verdict of an impartial court. No one would rejoice more than I if they were so utterly disproved and made an end of. But, if not, and if my right hon. Friend refuses the demand for an inquiry, and if they do seek to hide up the truth in this matter, or not to permit the full publication, then I can assure him that they will have taken a terrible step for the injury of the British constitution and the British Empire.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I should have hoped it would not have been necessary to disclaim on the part of any of those who supported this Motion for an inquiry either anything in the nature of sympathy with the abominable crimes and outrages to which the constabulary and those engaged in the maintenance of order in Ireland during the last two years have been exposed, or anything in the nature of want of sympathy with the gallant men on whom the Chief Secretary passed a high enconium, and who are engaged in the performance of what is always a thankless and often a very dangerous duty. Certainly I find it almost ludicrous, if I am to maintain my political reputation, or so much as is left of it, to say to the House of Commons that I, from my very heart, denounce crimes and outrages of this kind with as much emphasis and energy of conviction as it is possible for any tongue to express or any temperament to feel. On past occasions it has been my duty to express in the strongest possible terms that sentiment speaking as a responsible Minister of the Crown, and I feel it to-day quite as strongly and quite as sincerely as I have ever done in the past. Nor do I at all share the view, if it is entertained in any quarter, that the military and police in Ireland are not entitled, under the conditions under which they are placed, to use a homely phrase, when they are hit to hit back again. They have not only the right, but in my opinion they have the duty of self-defence, 977 and everything that is consistent with and falls within the legitimate bounds of self-defence they can and ought to resort to. On that point there is no difference of opinion whatever between us. The reason why this request for an inquiry is put forward is because it appears to many of us, and it certainly does to me, that there is a primâ facie case, or what lawyers would call primâ facie evidence, to show that in not a few instances during the last few months in Ireland the officers and servants of the Executive have gone far beyond the limits of legitimate self-defence, and have engaged in what, under the name of reprisals, can be described under no other term than a campaign of outrage against unoffending and innocent people. That is the case presented.
It is said by the Chief Secretary "Where does your evidence come from," and that even though it is prima facie evidence it is from a tainted source and comes from the headquarters of Sinn Fein. He appears to think that evidence derived from that quarter is the subject of suspicion. In the one or two illustrations I am about to give I assure him my information does not come from any Sinn Fein quarter whatsoever. In the first case I propose to mention it is information on the authority of an independent Englishman, who went over and investigated the facts, and in the other cases it is based on evidence which has actually been given in another connection in an Irish court of law itself.
I take first the case to which the Chief Secretary referred, and to which allusion has been made more than once, and with very good reason, in the course of this discussion, the case of Balbriggan. It is quite true I have not been to Balbriggan, but friends of mine have, and I am speaking from information derived from them. Let us see what the facts about Balbriggan are. I do not think there is any controversy between the Chief Secretary and myself about them. Let us see if there is. It is a most important crucial case. Two officers of police, one a distinguished district inspector just promoted, and his brother, went to a public-house in this little town. One of them was killed and the other was severely wounded, the Chief Secretary says by a body of assassins. I do not know whether there is sufficient evidence to say 978 precisely what the circumstances were or who the assailants were, but at any rate it was a foul crime without any justification and it was quite calculated to excite the indignation and the legitimate indignation of the comrades of these two two men. There can be no difference of opinion between us on that point. What happened? A couple of hours afterwards a body of police, belonging to what is familiarly called the "Black and Tans," and the Chief Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, as I do not think they were the regular Royal Irish Constabulary, descended upon this town. They proceeded to ransack some of the houses, and they took two men, both of whom I believe were prominent Sinn Feiners, to the police barracks. They then proceeded on what can only be described as a campaign of arson and looting of the town.
The right hon. Gentleman may regard this as a small matter, but let me call his attention to the precise facts. In one of the main streets, a whole row of poor houses was destroyed. On the other side of the street five cottages recently built by the local authority were burned down. In the other houses all the windows were broken. In other parts of the town single houses, and in some cases two together, were burned, and in the opinion of people there some part of this destruction was obviously wrought by the use of bombs. In all, 35 houses were destroyed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Let us have an inquiry. This information is given to me, not from Sinn Fein sources at all, but by people who made careful inquiries on the spot, and I am told 35 houses were destroyed. In some cases, and I do not know whether this is a matter of controversy, the burning was so rapid that women and children had barely time, terror-stricken as they were, to escape half-clad to the fields. That also is alleged. After they had destroyed these houses, they turned their attention to the factories, of which I believe there were three. One of them which was threatened with destruction appears to have escaped upon the assurance that it was occupied by a Protestant or Unionist employer. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that one hosiery factory was burned to the ground. All the valuable machinery in it was completely destroyed and some 200 or 300 people, there may 979 have been more, dependent for their livelihood on it, have of course been deprived of their means of employment. Let us come back to the case of the two men who had been originally arrested by the police. So far as those people are concerned, there is not a shadow or tittle of evidence to connect those men or either of them with the murder of the two police, of any sort or kind. Those two men, who were confined to the barracks while the arson was going on, were deliberately taken out and, without any form of trial or investigation or examination whatsoever, shot in cold blood.
That is the story, and if that story is true, and there is as the House will observe very little controversy between the Chief Secretary and myself, I say it was an act of frightfulness. Has anybody been brought to book? I ask the Chief Secretary. Here is a murder—a couple of murders—committed in cold blood by persons in the service of the Crown. There can be no difficulty whatever, as there is so often in the other cases, of getting evidence, because this must have been witnessed by their fellow officers, fellow servants in the Constabulary, and there must be many people who know exactly who were directly responsible for all these acts. Nobody has been brought to book. The criminals, for criminals undoubtedly they were, are at large. Can anyone doubt that an act of that kind, uninquired into and of which the guilty agents have been left undetected, as I have shown, is calculated to increase and embitter feeling in Ireland against the whole Executive Government of the country. If that case stood alone I should say it is a case which pre-eminently demands inquiry, but it does not stand alone. I am not going through a long series of instances, but I will deal with a passage from the speech of my right hon. Friend which filled me with surprise. When he came to deal with th outrageous attacks which have been made upon the creameries of Ireland he told us there were 710 creameries, and that only 16 were destroyed. I think he is wrong. The figures I have got here bring it to something like 30, wholly or partially destroyed. My right hon. Friend told the House a few hours ago that he had 980 not got a tittle of evidence to show that the destruction of these creameries, whole or partial, as the case may be, was the action of persons in the service of the Crown. I am surprised that he should make that statement, and I am going to tell the House why. In nine of these cases claims have already been put forward and adjudicated upon by the County Court judges for compensation under the Irish law, the Malicious Injuries Act, which renders the district liable to pay compensation for any injury that has been malicious. Nine at least of these cases have been adjudicated upon already, and there are a number more, I think something like han a dozen, in process of adjudication, and the total amount of damages already awarded by the County Court judges is no less than £37,000, and the House, of course, is aware that the County Court judge cannot lawfully award damages in these circumstances unless he is satisfied that the injury was malicious.
I will take one of these cases, because I happen to have had furnished to me a transcript of the shorthand notes of the proceedings in the County Court. This does not come from a Sinn Fein source at all, but proceedings which actually took place in the County Court on the 1st October. It is the case of Newport in Tipperary, and the outrage took place on the 23rd July last. A claim was brought forward for damages, and I forget what the amount claimed was, but £12,000 was actually awarded in compensation. Now I will ask the House to bear with me for two or three minutes while I summarise, what I have read over myself, the evidence actually given in this case, and remember that not a single one of the soldiers—this was a case in which the soldiers and not the police were concerned—was called as witness or gave any rebutting evidence of any kind.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
My right hon. Friend, who is a great lawyer, will know that in these County Court hearings to assess damage under the Criminal Injuries Act, commonly called the Malicious Injuries Act, the petitioner or owner of the premises damaged can call any witnesses he likes. The only defendant or semi-defendant is the rating authority, and it can call any witnesses it likes. It was not therefore incumbent on the 981 Government to supply either police or soldiers.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I should think in a case of this kind, where the injury could not but be held to be malicious and the damages fell upon the county, it would be only natural for the Government to come to the assistance of the county and the rates by tendering some evidence. Let me tell the House what the case really was. We are told the so-called reprisals are mainly provoked by people in hot blood, who have witnessed or heard of the murder of their fellow officers in the police or in the military. This was a case in which a girl keeping company with a soldier—I suppose it is an unpopular thing in Ireland—had had her hair cropped. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame"! and "One of hundreds."] It was a very outrageous thing, but let us keep a sense of proportion. At half-past nine in the evening a party of some 20 soldiers invaded the town, which contained a creamery, apparently on a somewhat large scale, and a cheese house adjoining which was used for the making and the export of cheese. It is clear from the evidence that the gates of both these places had been locked two hours before and the keys handed over to the manager, and there was nobody inside. As to the suggestion that there may have been somebody on the roof, the evidence was quite conclusive the other way. Eight or twelve of the soldiers scaled the railings of the creamery, and in two or three minutes the place was in flames. It was burnt to the ground. The safe, which contained £160, was broken open and looted. They then passed on to the cheese house, and the evidence shows that they poured either petrol or oil on the stores of cheese in it, and its contents were totally destroyed. Those are the facts as they appear in the evidence before the County Court judge. The judge found, and on the evidence was bound to find, that this was a malicious injury by the persons who were guilty. That is one case. As I say, nine of these cases have already been adjudicated upon in the County Court, and if you were to examine the evidence in the other eases I believe you would find, as in this case, that there was uncontradicted evidence that the persons actually concerned in the outrages were servants of the Crown either as policemen or as soldiers.
982 It is almost inconceivable to my mind that, these proceedings having taken place in all these Courts in the course of the last two months, the Chief Secretary should get up to-day and assure the House that there is not a tittle of evidence, so far as he is aware, that servants of the Crown are concerned. The evidence is uncontradicted in the Newport case, and I understand similar evidence was given in all the others. But if these stood alone, do they not constitute a case for an impartial and independent inquiry? I ask the House as fair-minded men, and not, as I need hardly say, in the interests of Sinn Fein or of the forces of disorder in Ireland, would it not be better in the interests of everybody, of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of the military themselves, when allegations of this kind are made, that they should give the opportunity of sifting them, and of sifting them if possible publicly, by an impartial and an independent inquiry? Who stands to lose by it? Does the authority of the law, does the honour of the Executive, does the prestige of the Government, or, what is perhaps more important than any of these at this moment, does such lingering hope as we have of attracting and reconciling Irish sympathy, Irish public opinion, to the administration? If these things turn out to be untrue, well and good, but if they are true and are proved to be true, then a duty as plain as was ever laid upon a Government falls upon the shoulders of His Majesty's Government, and that is to inflict condign punishment upon those who have disgraced the authority of the law by outrages of this kind committed in its name. You will not get even a shade or shadow of respect for the law if you do not boldly and firmly take that line.
That is what I have to say to the House. I have spoken without any kind of passion and, as I honestly believe, in the common interest. I am certain that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, who is an old political comrade and personal friend of mine, and with whom no one can sympathise more heartily than I do in the arduous task which he has patriotically undertaken—a very difficult task—I am sure my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, whatever may be said or suggested, can have no sympathy with proceedings of this kind. They are dishonourable, if these 983 statements are true, to the forces for the conduct of which he is supremely and ultimately responsible, and I speak with all seriousness and without a trace, as I hope the House will believe, of anything in the nature of political passion, when I say I believe that in the interests of the country and of the Government of Ireland itself, he could take no more opportune step than to grant the inquiry for which this Motion asks.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
No one, I think, can have listened to this Debate without having the feeling that the general outlook on the world of almost every Member who has spoken is entirely changed when he comes to deal with Ireland. My right hon. Friend who opened the Debate (Mr. A. Henderson) began in a curious way. He spoke of a visit which he had paid to Thurles, and said that a policeman had been "shot." Some of my hon. Friends suggested that a better epithet would have been "murdered," but he would not have it, although the facts were—and as he was on the spot he might surely have found them out—that this policeman was unarmed, and was shot while he was going to his hut. Yet the right hon. Gentleman refused to describe it as "murder."
The right hon. Gentleman also, in quite a calm, sedate way of speaking, described what was being done in Ireland. He said the more active section of the Nationalist party, by which he meant those who desire to see Ireland an independent nation, took more active steps, and by the words "more active" party—a curious phrase—he meant the murder gang, who all this time has been pursuing with a cowardly blood-thirstiness, of which there are few examples, the servants of the Crown in Ireland. He gave us an outline of the actions which have been taken by the representatives of the Government in Ireland. He called them "provocative." I suppose, they are. You cannot arrest a murderer without being "provocative" to other murderers. Of course it is provocative. But the right hon. Gentleman docs not seem to consider that it has any bearing on the question as to whether this action was necessary on the part of His Majesty's Government and their representatives.
He went on to give another curious example of his method of looking at Ireland. 984 He told us that in the year 1917, I believe, three or four people were deported without any conviction on suspicion. He said that a very much larger number were deported in the following year. The present Government, as it happened, were in power both in 1917 and 1918, but there is this curious fact as showing how, when he is talking about Ireland, he is absolutely lost in a fog. In the year 1916, when he was a Member of the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) was the head, not twenty-four, but hundreds of men were deported on suspicion without any evidence. My right hon. Friend beside me has given me the number. It was twenty-four in our case; it was 1,836 during the Government of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley was the head, and of which he himself was a Member. [An HON MEMBER: "And so were you!"] And I, of course, but I accept responsibility for both.
I want to say a word or two about the speech of my Noble Friend behind me (Lord R. Cecil). I said they are all in a fog, but of all the fogs his is the deepest. He really seems to imagine that the conditions which are prevailing in Ireland make no difference. He would make the same sort of academic speech if he were living in a Quaker country, where violence was unknown. He told us that the supremacy of British Law, one of the things of which we as a nation have a right to be proud, has been preserved through all our history. It was preserved, he told us—I was rather surprised, but I gather he thought it was for that reason the Civil War took place. But does my Noble Friend really think that while that Civil War was going on, and they were fighting for the ultimate aim of supremacy of the law, they were doing it in the academic way of which he spoke? The very essence of getting, in the long run, and permanently, the supremacy of law is to put down disorder and murder.
I hardly know what to make of the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith) who spoke last. He told us that we should have a sense of proportion, and his speech was devoted to a description of two or three acts of reprisals which nobody defends.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman will say I encouraged it too. It is the case of the burning, according to the right hon. Gentleman, of some fifty or sixty houses of one kind or another, and he wants us to have "a sense of proportion!" The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the amount of property of one kind or another which has been destroyed by those whose activities we are trying to put down is scores of times greater than that to which he referred, and, apart altogether from the outrages by the Sinn Feiners upon such things as police barracks, the number of private citizens' houses which have been destroyed by this gang which we are fighting is at least three times as great as the total number we are accused of having destroyed as the result of reprisals. The sense of proportion! He tells us—it may or may not be true—of certain things done by the armed forces of the Crown. My right hon. Friend says there is not a tittle of evidence. How does he refute it? He says evidence was given which was never cross-examined or questioned at some court of inquiry at which the Government was not represented, and he suggests that the Irish Government dealing with a situation of civil war—for it is veiled civil war—is to be expected to attend every court of inquiry in which there is no evidence in order to make up a case. In another instance there were no lives lost. The provocation which he gave—it is the first I have heard of it—was that a girl had been seized, and her hair cut off because she had been with soldiers, and he thinks that it is amazing that the soldiers should resent that.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
We will have the sense of proportion. My right hon. Friend, who has been the head of the Government responsible for Ireland for eight years, knows all that happened in Ireland in his time, of which I have given an example. He thinks that a sense of proportion justifies him in bringing that up as something of the most terrible crime, when he knows that during the whole of this year murderers stalked at large, and to a large extent with impunity. That is his sense of proportion. One hundred policemen killed—he forgets that, and he brings this up, though I 986 quite recognise that nothing can be worse—well, some things could be worse, but it is very bad—than that men should take the law into their own hands in any case, and as my right hon. Friend has said he is doing his best to prevent that being done, and is succeeding. Well, do let us have a sense of proportion, and when the right hon. Gentleman puts down a Motion without one word in it about these atrocious murders and murder conspiracies, when he goes through Ayr, and elsewhere, fanning the flames of passion because of these reprisals, even if they are as bad as he says they were, I do not remember any meeting held in any part of the country to condemn outrages infinitely worse than any reprisals which have been taken.
My Noble Friend behind me and the right hon. Gentleman opposite put it as the most natural thing in the world that we should give this inquiry. Who can suffer by it? Why not have it? It can do no harm, and it may do good. People who say that are really utterly ignorant of what is happening, or they wish other people to believe it. Suppose you hold an inquiry, the House knows what the conditions are in Ireland. The House knows that through terror, men, under orders, commit murder who desire to avoid committing murder. Does my right hon. Friend suppose that if these men receive orders to swear that such and such a soldier was engaged in such and such reprisal, the order would be disobeyed? Does he suppose in the present conditions in Ireland it is possible to have any inquiry in public which is fair? Of course it is quite impossible.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
How would you get the evidence, and what would happen to the people who gave it? People who talk like that have no conception of the realities. My right hon. Friend himself has had experience that there is nothing worse than that the body on which you have to depend for the security of life and property—if we ever restore it again—on which we have to depend in order to prevent the British Empire being smashed—which is the avowed object of one gentleman who was convicted and imprisoned, and whom my right hon. Friend said it is the "maddest act of folly" not to let out the moment he threatens to commit suicide. If people say 987 that, they can have no other meaning m their minds than this: punish people so long as they do not resist, but as soon as they resist, for Heaven's sake stop punishing them. Nothing is more important, I say, than that this body, on whom we have to depend, should realise that the Government, the House of Commons, on which the Government depend, and the country, on which the House of Commons depend, are behind them. Once you give any impression—not that you will permit any excesses at all without inquiry and punishment—but once you give the impression that these people are liable to have every act they do submitted to an unfair inquiry and perjured evidence, the weapon breaks in your hand. We have had experience of it. Nobody has had more than my right hon. Friend himself. I remember in 1913—I have looked it up to verify the date—there were riots in the city of Derry. The same charges about the brutality of the police which we hear to-day were made then. The only difference then was that they were made against my right hon. Friend, and now he is making them against us. The Corporation of Derry demanded a public inquiry. For some reason, which I do not recall, if I ever knew it, the Nationalist Members, on whom my right hon. Friend then depended, did not demand an inquiry. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman did what anyone would have done in his place. He took the view we do, and no inquiry was granted. But later, in 1914, I think it was, there was some trouble at Howth. There was a Debate in this House. My right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Asquith) said this in regard to what happened at Howth:Shots were fired without orders. They were the acts of individual soldiers. A deplorable loss of life ensued. … Under the whole of these circumstances, I do not think the House, and the country, will come to any other conclusion than that the soldiers were exposed to very great provocation, and that what happened, much as it is to be lamented, is not a fitting subject for condemnation.But certain supporters of the right hon. Gentleman at that time insisted upon an inquiry, and an inquiry was held.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Yes, an inquiry was held. More than that, they suspended the head of the police before the inquiry because of what he had done, and 988 which, according to themselves at the time, they had no means of condemning until the inquiry had been held. What happened? We had the Report of a Commission, which was set up by my right hon. Friend. This is what that Commission said:The resignation of Mr. Harrel was looked upon by the Dublin police as tantamount to dismissal tending to discourage officers of that body from initiative in enforcing the law.Further,There can be no doubt that his dismissal tended to weaken the authority of the police, and it gave rise to the opinion amongst some of the ignorant classes that in any case of disorder the Government might not support their action.There is something more. In a further Report this Commission said:The general conclusion we draw from the evidence before us is that the main cause of the rebellion appears to be that lawlessness has been allowed to grow up unchecked, and that Ireland for several years past has been administered on the principle that it was safer and more expedient to leave the law in abeyance if collision with any faction of the Irish people could thereby be avoided.That is the reason why we will not have a public inquiry.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
We do not want any body of soldiers or police on whom we depend to have any doubt that we are backing them.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Not at all. We have already said—and when my Noble Friend (Lord R. Cecil) said that no condemnation of the reprisals had been uttered he could not have heard the speech of—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Well, that the Government were guilty in this matter. My right hon. Friend not only has condemned them, but it is obvious that anything in the nature of reprisals, apart altogether from higher considerations—and there are higher considerations—is a most deadly thing, because it almost invariably weakens the discipline of the force on which you rely. Not only to-day, but in his address to the police themselves, my right hon. Friend condemned reprisals. 989 Sir Nevil Macready sent out an order doing the same thing. What is more: since my right hon. Friend spoke there has been, if not a complete cessation—I am sorry there has not—but a great reduction in the number of these reprisals. That is our position. We shall have the cases inquired into, but the police and the soldiers will know that inquiry is undertaken fairly by people who realise their responsibilities and dangers, and is not an inquiry held by their enemies.
I myself have never on any political question felt more certain of the justice of our position than I do on this one. My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley told the country the other day that it was a great issue. So it is. Parties are being ranged into different camps. Whatever be the nominal party to which anyone in this House belongs, I hope to-night they will vote on this issue—for it is a very big one—according to their convictions. They are being quite plainly divided on the big issue. It is only a few months ago that many of our own friends were telling us that they would beat us, and that we must give way to it. Here is this murder conspiracy. There are two camps in regard to it There is one body represented by my right hon. Friend which says: "We must surrender to crime." [HON MEMBERS: "No" and "Hear, hear!"] There is another body represented by my right hon. Friend beside me (Sir Hamar Greenwood) and I am glad to support him in this—there is another body which says
Mr. BONAR LAW—which says
"We long for peace in Ireland quite as much as anyone on those Benches," but peace has never been kept in this world by the methods I have described. We are determined that whatever should be given to Ireland shall be given as the result of the calm consideration of what is just and fair. We will be no party to giving anything as a concession to murder.
Mr. J. JONES
It is not often—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]—that those of us who sit upon the back Benches have the opporunity of getting lectured upon the law. To-night, however, in this Debate we have had some of the most prominent representatives of authority lecturing us upon our responsibility, and preaching about the dignity of the law. 990 It is almost an insult to our intelligence. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bonar Law) who spoke about rebels has forgotten his own record. It seems almost a traversty of history for a gentleman with such a record to lecture Members on these Benches. We have spent our time inside our trade unions and socialist organisations preaching the dignity of the law, and in appealing to our members to recognise that the freely-expressed opinion of the people should be recognised as law. We have put this Resolution upon the Paper which means to assert the dignity of the law, because it is asking for an inquiry. We want to know why it comes about that those who are responsible for the administration of the law are themselves the breakers of it. Because we place a resolution upon the Paper asking for an inquiry the whole question is travestied and we are charged with being the defenders of murder and the upholders of those who want to break the law. This comes badly from those who organised gun-running in Belfast, from those who signed the Covenant in this House and out of it. It comes, I say, badly from them to twit Members on these Benches with a desire to back up criminality and support those who desire to break the law. We ask for this inquiry because we want to uphold the good name of those responsible for carrying out the law.
I am glad to know from the speeches to-night that at least this House is not the final Court to which we shall have to appeal, because, so far as this House is concerned, judging from the applause given to certain statements, if we had this House as a Court of Inquiry, the Court would be held in hell, and the devil would be the presiding magistrate. In so far as we are concerned, those who charge us with a desire to support criminality and murder lie, and they know they lie. You know as well as we do that right throughout the world to-day indignation has been expressed against the administration of the law in Ireland. You also know that some of us take our minds back to the early days of 1914, when on every platform we were asked to stand side by side, and some of us did, and we got our members and our friends to rally to the support of this country when it was in danger, and so, by pointing out to them the atrocities committed by the German troops in Belgium, we 991 held up to public scorn those responsible for the administration of affairs in the territory belonging to the Allies occupied by Prussian troops. We denounced lawlessness by the men who had broken every law, human and divine. If it was wrong for the Prussians and for those who occupied Belgium to break all the laws of God and man, then we say that the same condemnation ought to be expressed against the representatives of this country in another who are doing similar deeds. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, if they are.
I happen to be an Irishman, and I am not ashamed to express my opinion on the subject of Ireland, which has as much right to her independence as Belgium. She is as much a nation. Ireland's relationship to the welfare of this country is no different to the relationship of Belgium and Germany. What did the Germans say about Belgium? They said that the independence of Belgium would interfere with the independence of Germany, and it was necessary to make Belgium a vassal State. In as far as you are the friends of British Prussians, you are taking up the same attitude to Ireland. We are asking for this inquiry, and who has a better right to ask for it? Yesterday you told us that the miners of Great Britain were doing wrong when they refused to accept a tribunal to settle a matter of bread and butter to them, and a matter of life and death. You called them rather uncomplimentary names in some quarters because they stood up against the proposal that this matter should be referred to a tribunal. Now we are taking you at your word in this particular case of Ireland. If merely the Sinn Feiners were being punished they would have to face the music without much sympathy from Great Britain, but will anybody say that the people whose homes have been destroyed and whose livelihoods have been taken away from them are the guilty parties?
The Government say that they want us to express confidence in the members of the police force and the Army, but there is no Member of this House who desires to make it more difficult for those men to do their duty. If you refuse the inquiry which we ask for, that refusal will be used to-morrow all over Ireland as 992 evidence that you are not prepared to give a hearing to those who have grievances against the administrators of law in Ireland. Sinn Fein courts are being appealed to instead of the ordinary courts of the land; but what I want is not that we should uphold lawlessness or defend criminality, but we ought to see that fairplay and justice is done to the whole of the people of Ireland. For these reasons we ask for this inquiry, and we demand that the facts shall be published so that the whole world may know the truth.
§ Mr. E. J. KELLY
Anyone who knows the real circumstances under which we are living in Ireland must have listened with astonishment and dismay to the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It was perfectly evident throughout the right hon. Gentleman's speech that he had made it up from reports supplied to him by the police and the auxiliary police against whom the accusations were brought, and he was quite out of touch with the real feeling of the country and the real dangers through which the peaceful inhabitants of Ireland are to-day passing. I gather that for the future there are to be reprisals, and only those which run to excess are to be condemned. Threatening notices have been issued by the auxiliary police. They have been posted up in public and served upon prominent merchants and traders in the towns. Is that practice to be continued? The right hon. Gentleman did condemn the murders, but are we to have these reprisals with semi-official sanction? If that is to continue, I think the House should know who is going to decide in each case. Who is the officer who is going to single out houses for destruction?
The right hon. Gentleman said that these reprisals had ceased, but only on Saturday last in Mullingar all the inhabitants were in a state of terror because an ultimatum had been delivered by the "black and tans" that the town would be wrecked unless two magistrates who had been kidnapped were restored by eleven o'clock on the Saturday following. This was publicly proclaimed in the market place, and all the inhabitants were in dread of their lives. Throughout the whole of Ireland the "black and tans" are terrorising the people, and no man knows when his house is going to be raided, or when he is going to be treated with violence. The country roads in Ireland 993 are not safe. A great number of motor lorries go along, and the men always have their rifles ready. The other day a Unionist who had been spending his holidays in County Cork told me that his wife and children were walking quietly along, when some of these gentlemen turned their rifles on the woman and her children, and that appears to be the attitude taken up in many instances by the police force and the soldiers who have been so lauded up by the. Chief Secretary.
I think the right hon. Gentleman and the Government would be doing a greater service to the police force if, instead of beslavering them with adultation, they presented them with a machine of government which would have the assent of the governed, and enable the police force to take their proper place in an orderly community. The police force have a right to expect that from the Government, because the instrument of government under the present regime has broken down. The present system of government does not rest on the consent of the governed, and as long as that is so there will always be trouble, outrages, murders and reprisals, leading to further murders and further reprisals. There is no prospect held out when all this is going to end, or that we are ever going to get a permanent peaceful settlement for Ireland. We have been promised any amount of repression and frightfulness and nothing else, and that is all the Government have to offer.
I would like the Attorney-General in his reply to make the matter of the reprisals clearer. I wish he would tell us if anyone has power to serve these threatening notices Has any person power to circulate them in any district under any circumstances, and, if so, who is that person? If that power rests with any individual in the barracks, then the state of things is worse than Belgium, because even there frightfulness was the result of inquiry, and the sentence was confirmed by superior officers carried out with care, and the sentence passed was never exceeded. The frightfulness of the police in Ireland has no limit, because the same parties are both judges and executioners rolled into one. Are these notices recognised by the Government, and are they going to continue, and, if so, who is the person who decides upon the functions. Are these matters decided 994 by the auxiliary police force under the Chief Secretary, or are they decided under the Inspector-General, the Commander-in-Chief, or a separate organisation under their own military officers, and responsible to the Cabinet alone?
It is evident that these matters are not under the control of the county police as we know them in Ireland. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some assurances in regard to the discipline of this force. We were told in a vague general sort of way that reprisals in Ireland were deprecated. Can the Attorney-General tell us of one single instance in which any disciplinary measures were applied to any member of the auxiliary police force. We do not want vague denunciations. I want to find out whether there has been any single individual punished for any of these so-called acts of reprisal. These are matters which the House and the people of Ireland have a right to know, and I hope we shall receive from the Attorney-General some definite assurances on these points.
Sir J. D. REES
The Leader of the House made such mincemeat of this Motion that I should not have risen had it not been that I have some little familiarity with what happens to an administration in the midst of disturbed and difficult times, and this inspires me with a strong sense of the absolute absurdity of suggesting in the present condition of Ireland that any impartiality, or anything approaching a fair inquiry, can be held into occurrences which have been described as reprisals. It is a proposal really on all-fours with a proposal to hold an inquiry into the conduct of the Army or Civil Service in the middle of an Indian mutiny. Under present conditions is it supposed that any evidence worth recording or that any degree of impartiality could be obtained with reference to those concerned in the shooting which took place at Balbriggan.
I remember last year at Westport that everybody in the town knew who a year before had shot the resident magistrate when his form was silhouetted against the window blind as he was about to sit down to his evening meal. This was known to everybody in Westport, but not one of them would come forward and give evidence. Is it to be supposed that when similar occurrences occur among those 995 responsible for the maintenance of law and order that anyone is going to inform upon them on their own side. I confess that never since I have been in this House, now some 15 years, have I ever heard what seemed to be more absurd than this proposal to hold an inquiry at the present time. I was tempted, when the Noble Lord behind me (Lord R. Cecil) spoke, to make a note or two of what he said. Very little notice was taken of his speech by the Leader of the House, who naturally dealt chiefly with the right hon. Member for Paisley. As to that right hon. Gentleman, all I would say, speaking of him with that profound respect I naturally feel for a man in his great position, I am amazed he could have suggested it would be possible to leave Ireland with an Army and Navy of her own, and to believe if that happened it would be possible to continue any connection between Ireland and this country. Lord Grey did not go so far as that. His suggestion was that we should clear out and leave our friends to be overwhelmed by our enemies. The suggestion of the right hon. Member for Paisley was to the same effect, but it also threw in an Army and Navy for a country notoriously in a state of absolute revolt against us in order that they might be able to destroy us at their leisure and pleasure. There was very little comfort to be found for us in these suggestions, and I was rather tempted to say what Job said to his friends, "Miserable comforters are ye all."
On the other hand, the Government is determined to put down the rebels who are creating disorder in Ireland, and they propose to give the country such a constitution and such reforms as will enable it to have a chance of success under existing conditions. My Noble Friend referred to the administration of justice in Canada and appeared to be very much impressed with the prompt manner in which a riot by two cow-boys in a mining village there was suppressed. I do not know whether he really thought that that case afforded any parallel to the state of things with which the Government has to deal in Ireland. He told us incidentally that he was then a lawyer. I can only suppose he has long since ceased to practice, for anything less simple than the case he put before the House it would be quite impossible 996 to imagine. I noted down one or two of his arguments on which it may be worth while to comment. His speech consisted first mainly of a resume of the Noble Lord's past action in regard to Ireland—no doubt a matter of great interest to himself.
He then referred to the conduct of the right hon. Member for Paisley in releasing the prisoners at the time of the outbreak in Dublin. That was a time at which I could with difficulty keep my seat in the House or restrain my indignation when I remembered that the ranks of the Sherwood Foresters were filled with young men from Nottingham who, while performing their duty in the streets of Dublin, were shot down in a cruel and cowardly manner from behind the shutters and windows of houses, while the men who committed these gross and terrible murders, and who were released by the right hon. Gentleman, soon after were advising him how to tinker with the Irish constitution! It was with difficulty that at that time I restrained my indignation and maintained that calm which should be observed by a Member of Parliament. The only thing which was impressed upon us to induce us to submit to it was that the object was to give the Government of the day some opportunity of endeavouring to pacify Ireland and bring peace to that distracted country. What was the result? My Noble Friend condemned the late Prime Minister for having released the prisoners. He said it was not wise. I do not think it was, but immediately afterwards my Noble Friend condemned the right hon. Gentleman for the repressive measures he took. What was the right hon. Member for Paisley to do if repression was unwise, and if pacification also was unwise? Nobody as far as I can see has dealt with that phase of the Irish question.
Everything was wrong according to my Noble Friend. He declared that the Irish Bill of last year was the most foolish thing possible. He stated that the last 18 months of administration has been disastrous and fatuous. If that be so, I can only say I believe it to be the aftermath—the natural aftermath—of the extraordinary weakness, the imbecile weakness which distinguished the administration of Mr. Birrell and of the Lord Lieutenant of that day. It is that which brought about the disastrous condition of 997 Ireland we are now condemning. My Noble Friend had not a good word to say for the Irish Bill of the Government which makes the most generous effort ever yet made to give the Irish people Home Rule, and to endeavour to compose the absolutely irreconcilable differences between the Catholics of the south and the Protestants of the north. Remember they are Protestants; they are not Anglicans, they are Protestants. They protest. It is difficult for them to agree with the Catholics of the south. They realise what we in this country do not realise, that the Protestant is a person who protests because of what he considers the errors of the other faith. They never will agree, and nothing that we can do will make them agree.
My Noble Friend gave us a discourse on law. He said we were better governed here than anywhere else. I do not think the law is better observed in England than in other countries. I believe in some other countries it is far better observed. Is this just now a law-abiding population? My Noble Friend said the law was a gift of the Plantagenet kings. I should have said rather that it was extorted by Hampden and his friends from the Stuarts. But at any rate that was all perfectly irrelevant to the Motion before the House. Then the statement was made that the Government had treated what has happened at Balbriggan and elsewhere as a light and unimportant matter. That, certainly, is a most unsustainable statement. I have not heard a word from the Government Bench which has not emphasised in the fullest degree the serious, grave and disastrous character of recent occurrences in Ireland. Then an Irish-American journalist was quoted as evidence good enough to support this Motion—the American-Irish being so notoriously friendly to Great Britain, having made for themselves such a reputation in that behalf during the history of America and of Ireland! It was, however, good enough evidence against the Government. So was the evidence of some person who had been told by somebody else that something had happened, and that some man had burnt a house in some village—neither the man nor the village nor the person who spoke at first hand or at second hand being named to the House.
It was a speech which, I confess, seemed to me to be one of the feeblest 998 as an indictment of the Government that ever I heard in the whole of my experience in the House of Commons. How it would be possible to hold an inquiry at present I cannot say, and I have already stated that I believe such a suggestion to be perfectly absurd. As regards the belief that the British Government connived at reprisals, it was said that the charge was made in some paper called the "New Statesman"—a very suitable name! But do hon. Members believe that statements made in this "New Statesman"—I confess it is the first time I ever heard of the paper, though I am afraid that is my fault—that Continental nations judge Great Britain by accusations made in a journal of that character? The Noble Lord stated that it was bruited all over France and America that the British Government connived at these reprisals, and that our character was lost when these charges—proceeding from so authoritative a source—were allowed to pass without any authoritative denial and repudiation. I do not believe that the British nation are popular on the Continent. As one who has travelled somewhat on the Continent, I have never believed that they ever were, and I do not think they ever will be; but that their character is going to be affected in any degree by what is stated in the "New Statesman," "Daily Herald," and journals of that description, is really a most trivial and absurd argument to bring before the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) handsomely and fairly stated that he did not believe in the Government's acquiescence in the reprisals. The belief that the Government is responsible for reprisals is, so far as my attention to the Debate has gone, confined entirely to the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley expressed surprise that no one was brought to book for the murder—for we must call it so, however great the prvocation—which occurred at Balbriggan. But surely it is impossible that he, who was in office during the rebellion in Dublin, can believe that there was any remissness in the authors of that outrage not having been brought to book. I have already endeavoured to explain why, having had some experience of disturbed areas, I think it would 999 have been an extraordinary occurrence if the perpetrators of that outrage had been brought to book.
I speak with great diffidence, but, from what I have seen of the Irish people and Ireland, it seems to me that there is no way of dealing with them—and I have heard Mr. Healy, who, I suppose, knows something of them, say the same thing many times in this House—there is no way of governing Ireland except by firmness. I believe that the whole of the present disastrous condition in Ireland arises from the gross, scandalous and imbecile weakness which characterised the administration for some years before the present Government came into office, and it is monstrous to visit upon their heads the responsibility for a state of things which only came to a head in their time, and which was fostered and brought on by circumstances over which they had no control whatever. If it is stated that the character of England before the nations is blackened by what has happened, what would happen if we took the advice of Lord Grey, and walked out and left our friends to be overwhelmed by our enemies? What would happen if we took the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, and endowed Ireland with an army and navy, so that there might be actual warfare instead of the mimic warfare—guerilla warfare—in which we now find ourselves engaged? With all my heart I believe that the policy which the Chief Secretary stated in his exceedingly able speech is not only a sound policy but the only sound policy, and that to surrender to Ireland, to betray our friends in order to surrender to our enemies, would be a policy which would blacken our faces in every country in Europe.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
As a very old member of the Conservative party, who has always been led to believe that the first tenet of his party was respect for the authority of the law, I confess that I have for some time been profoundly unhappy and uneasy at the tendency of His Majesty's Government in Ireland. There is no doubt, also, that there is profound uneasiness of conscience throughout the country as to their policy. Although the Chief Secretary scored, I must confess, a considerable parliamentary triumph in his speech this afternoon, I 1000 was disappointed, and I think the country will be disappointed, to find that he was careful not to disavow the responsibility of the Government for a policy of reprisals; nor will the country, I think, accept the rather off-hand way in which he swept away all the accounts of reprisals in Ireland as Sinn Fein propaganda. I hope the House will acquit me of sympathy with murder, either by the forces of the Crown or by the forces of disorder. I have no wish, either, to level broadcast accusations against either the police or the soldiers. I have too great a respect for them both; I know the trials which they have to undergo, and I have the greatest sympathy for them. For the last four years the police, in particular, have been taken away from their proper duties and have been used to suppress the political aspirations of the Irish people; and they have been used in the most reckless and unconscionable manner. For instance, during the tenure of office as Chief Secretary of the present Minister of Pensions there was hardly a fair, a public meeting, a concert, or an athletic sports meeting, which was not forbidden and suppressed, and even old women with their ducks and their geese could not go to market without being met by soldiers and policemen with drawn bayonets. That, I agree with my Noble Friend, was a disastrous and a fatuous policy, and a policy like that can only lead to one result. The police, in consequence of the policy of the Government for the last four years, have got embroiled with the people. The people naturally have got into a state of extreme fury and indignation and irritation, and violence on one side leads to violence on the other, and murder on one side leads to murder on the other, and so we go on from crime to crime and outrage to outrage. My Noble Friend says nothing can excuse murder, whether it is political or not. I heartily agree. I do not want to excuse murder, but it is an undoubted fact that when the political aspirations of the people are denied and oppression is applied in order to squeeze out the political aspirations of a people murder will take place. As has been well said, tyranny is the nursing mother of murder. It was so in Russia, Austria, and Italy, and in every other country. The House will recollect that one of the causes of the Great War was the murder of the Crown Prince at Sarajevo, which 1001 was the direct result of the repression of the political aspirations of the Slav people in the Austrian Empire.
I have no desire to take up the time of the House in recrimination as to the responsibility for the condition of Ireland at present. It is neither the fault of the police nor anyone else. It is the fault of a system, and there is only one way in which peace can be brought to Ireland, and that is that we abolish this system, that we turn over a new leaf and create, if possible, a new atmosphere. If there, is more crime in Ireland than there is in England it is because England is a well governed country and Ireland is a badly governed country. If there is more crime in Ireland now than there has been at any time since 1797, it was because Ireland has been governed on the principles of 1797. Let us put an end to all this. Let us frankly abandon an attempt to tyrannise into submission a whole nationality. If we succeed we shall only succeed by the same methods by which the Germans succeeded in Belgium, and the Turkish Pasha succeeded when he devastated a province and called it peace. Let us found our policy on the glorious tradition of this Empire, namely, on liberty and self-government. Let the light to which the Australians, Canadians and South Africans turn their faces with admiration and love and reverence shine on Ireland and, in the words of Burke, let Great Britain be the sanctuary of liberty. Let it shine out once more as the sanctuary of liberty, and not as the oppressor of a subject nationality. Let it be, as Burke said, a temple dedicated to our common worship.
I appeal to the Government, and particularly to Liberal supporters of the Government, to cut themselves adrift from a policy which can bring them no credit. I ask them to have reliance on the ancient principles of their party and to abandon for ever the fatuous and stupid attempt to repress the political aspirations of a people, and I also most respectfully ask my leaders, the leaders of the Conservative party, where they are going. How far are they going in this policy? What principles or what institutions do they consider they are serving, or preserving, by allowing this policy of brutality and violence? Do they think really they are preserving law and order and respect for order by adding murder to murder, arson 1002 to arson, and brigandage to brigandage. The Society of Friends the other day issued an appeal for a truce of God. That may seem a fantastic proposition, as if there ever can be a truce of God in an unhappy country like Ireland. But it is not a fantastic idea. It would be realised to-morrow if the Prime Minister would only have the courage to throw off the influences which are influencing him today and announce that the people of Ireland have a right to elect by Proportional Representation a constituent assembly for the settlement and management of their problem. I agree heartily with Lord Grey when he said that the starting point of any hopeful settlement of Ireland is the confession that we in this country are hopelessly unable to govern the Irish people. I also agree with Lord Grey that the only safe policy in Ireland is, within certain limits, to give Irishmen entire freedom to manage their own affairs and to settle this most vexed question themselves. It is held over us that if we gave self-government to Ireland, Ireland would be a thorn in our side and would be a strategical danger to us. I do not believe it for a moment. I think if Ireland would only give a guarantee to enter into the League of Nations we need not bother our heads whether we give Ireland the command of an army or a navy or not. To my mind irresponsibility has been the curse of Ireland, and is the curse of Ireland at the present moment. It is irresponsibility which sets the Southerner against the Northerner and the Northerner against the Southerner. It is irresponsibility which has allowed Dublin Castle, ever since the times of the United Irishmen, to drive a wedge in between Northerners and Southerners, and so long as that irresponsibility lasts shall we have crime and outrage and bitterness.
I was very much impressed by an observation that fell from the leader of the Welsh miners in the able speech he made yesterday. Talking about production and an increase in the output of coal, he said his great complaint against the Government was that while they used him and his class in the War to co-operate with them, since the War they had never asked them to co-operate. I have often wondered why the leaders of Labour in this country, who, after all, did great service to the country during the War, have been held as strangers without the gates ever since Peace was declared. If greater 1003 production and greater peace can be secured by co-operating with the Labour leaders, I believe it is equally necessary for us and equally hopeful for us to co-operate with the Irish people. I never can understand the attitude of a great many of my fellow-countrymen, who seem to consider that Irishmen are of an inferior nationality to ourselves. The Irishmen are susceptible to the same aspirations and the same feelings as ourselves. They respond to good government in the same way that we do, and if they are quicker to resent bad government than we are, they are capable of as great and as generous a response as any other nationality to good government. I do hope that as Ireland seems to have got into as bad a condition as it possibly can do, that an improvement may be made. After all, the whole of this question and an increase in the output of coal, powerful man in this country—I mean the Prime Minister. If he had the courage of his convictions the Irish question could be solved to-morrow; but he shows no sign of having any courage at all in this matter. He approaches this question with a small and a petty mind. Let as remember what Edmund Burke once said, that magnanimity in politics is the greatest wisdom. A small mind is ill-assorted with a great Empire. I do ask the Prime Minister to enlarge his mind on this matter of the Irish question. If he cannot enlarge his mind, I submit to aim that it is his duty to stand aside and to allow others of good will and larger mind to take up this question and settle it once for all.
§ Mr. WATERSON
The House has noticed particularly the last two speeches and when we consider that they come from almost the same neighbourhood, for if my memory serves me right their constituencies touch each other, I, at any rate, have more hope from the last speaker as to the future of the Irish people than from the gentleman who preceded him. I am glad that so far as the Nottingham area is concerned we have some vision of what the future for Ireland may be if the principles which the Noble Lord has so ably enunciated are put into operation. I have often thought in regard to this question that if ever there was a man within the British Cabinet who ought to receive the sympathy of everyone in this country it 1004 is the gentleman who is at the head of affairs in connection with the Irish question. The Chief Secretary for Ireland has my sympathy in the task that lies before him. I regret to say that, although we have on innumerable occasions—and I speak not only for myself, but on behalf of my colleagues of the Labour party—deprecated murder in all its forms, yet after listening to the speech of the Chief Secretary to-night, we have to tell the British public that we again deprecate murder. I hate murder or outrage of any kind. I hate it, whether it is murder in cold blood or whether it is murder of the slower kind, murder brought about by starvation or by unemployment, which gradually drives people into avenues that they detest, or whether it is that slower form of murder which compels people to live in hovels that are unfit for human habitation.
The speech of the Chief Secretary dealt with the question of reprisals, but I was astounded to hear from him so little about the reprisals on those institutions which have been built for the specific purpose of providing the necessaries of life. For more than an hour he gave us pictures of how the men of the Royal Irish Constabulary were shot in cold blood. I agree that it is necessary that the British people should be acquainted with the real facts of the situation, and that all the facts should be brought to light. It is fair that every fact should be disclosed so that they may realise what is taking place. I am interested in the question of the reprisals that have been taking place by armed forces of the Crown and have been deliberately committed upon what is known as the co-operative creameries in Ireland. There are movements that are closely associated with similar movements in other countries, and if ever there was a movement in this country that can link the nations together in harmony, in peace, in goodwill and concord, I say without fear of contradiction that the principles of co-operation go a long way in that direction. Our co-operative members in Ireland to-day through the reprisals on our creameries are suffering and enduring hardship. The Chief Secretary dealt very little with that question. What he did say was that they could not produce one tittle of evidence to prove that the armed forces of the Crown had perpetrated this damage. I regret that he appears not to have been cognisant with 1005 the case that was brought before the Courts, and which was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). If the right hon. Gentleman has not one tittle of evidence brought to his notice to show definitely that the armed forces of the Crown perpetrated that damage, I maintain that if he reads the verbatim report of the inquiry he will at once realise that no one but the armed forces of the Crown were responsible for a reprisal of that nature. In these days, when we are told that there is a vital need for production, when there is a world shortage, according to the statement of the Minister of Food, of the vital necessaries of life that these creameries produce, one would think that their reprisals, if reprisals were necessary, would take a different form than outrages upon these establishments which were producing the food of the people. Yet these places of production in Ireland are unwarrantably brought to ruin.
These creameries are brought under the scope of what is known as the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. They are worked co-operatively by working men. It may be said by those who are somewhat antagonistic to the Nationalists that there may be many Sinn Fein members of these organisations; but when they examine the situation they will find that some of their own friends have been engaged in these creameries. Unionists, Protestants, Catholics, and other people have been engaged upon a common non-political, non-sectarian, co-operative basis, amalgamated for the specific purpose of producing the necessaries of life. I do not think that any Member of this House would challenge the loyalty and patriotism of these people who have worked through their association during the period of the War. Where should we have been on many occasions during the War if it had not been for our Irish produce? Men toil long and hard, and these creameries went on as regularly as the clock producing the nation's requirements. After all their hard work and sacrifice for the country in building up these wonderful establishments and producing the food of the people, it ill becomes the Government to perpetrate outrages on them. They have been apparently singled out without any necessity, and property varying in value from £2,500 to £20,000 has been burned to the ground.
1006 The Chief Secretary said that there were 16 creameries affected. I am afraid that he is misinformed. I have been in touch with this very organisation, almost up to the moment I entered this House to-day There have been 22 that we know of, and there are many, numbering about 30, which have been destroyed either fully or partially. Sir Horace Plunkett is the President of that organisation. He has entered an emphatic protest, the reply to which the Chief Secretary read this afternoon. The main aim of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society has been to keep free of all political or religious difficulties in order to produce for the common purposes that which the world to-day needs. This destruction began in April. It was done by the forces of the Crown, and then we had another creamery which was damaged to the extent of £600, and as soon as they reestablished themselves it was deliberately burned to the ground, involving damage to the extent of £3,500. The Chief Secretary said in the letter, which he quoted, that all possible steps would be taken. I am here to declare, on the evidence which I have before me, that practically none have been taken. No regard has been paid to past experience. No inquiry has been instituted. No one has been punished for the outrages of this character. And then he tells us this afternoon that no tittle of evidence can be produced to show that it was the forces of the Crown which have done this.
I ask him if he has read the evidence in the Newport, Tipperary case given on the 1st of October at Nenagh. Here was a creamery standing 40 or 50 yards back from the main road. Iron railings were fixed all round. They had been busy during the day. At seven in the evening, when the men returned home, the place was locked up in safety. It was built of massive stone. The floor was concrete. Nothing of an inflammable nature was within it. A little before 9.30 o'clock 50 or 60 soldiers passed by the manager's home, which was some little distance away, and at 9.30 the place was seen in flames, and soldiers of His Majesty's Government were seen at the place by the manager himself. Mr. Denis Duggan, County Councillor, gave evidence at this inquiry. He said:I live on the road where the creamery was situated. I remember the evening of 23rd of July. The back of my house looks 1007 on the creamery premises, and Mr. Ryan, manager, lives immediately opposite. As the crow flies my house would be about 60 yards from the creamery. There is no truth in the suggestion that there was firing before the military arrived. It could not take place without my knowledge. I was down the town when a boy rushed into the house in which I was, saying that the military were coming. I looked out and saw them and went home. The military went to Newport and came back. I saw them pass by my window. Shortly after they marched past I could hear rifle firing. I then went back to my house and saw a soldier at the office window, break it with a gun, and then go in through the window. At the time of the rifle firing I heard no reply to it. It would be about ten minutes after seeing the man go into the creamery I saw a fire. It came first, as far as I could see, through the fanlight of the roof. Mr. Ryan came to my house. Both of us saw soldiers passing from time to time. There is no truth in the suggestion that there was any disturbance in Newport prior to the arrival of the military.If I were to read the evidence of Mr. Ryan, Manager of the Creamery, I think that the House would be convinced. Remember that this is sworn evidence—
§ Mr. WATERSON
At any rate, I want to give it fair judgment and consideration. But here at 9.30 the place was in flames with nothing of an inflammable nature in the place. You may ask how this affects many workers in this country. It does, because the losses of these people are the losses of many institutions in this country, and if the Government cares nothing as far as the Irish people are concerned, it ought at any rate to concern itself about the interests of people in this country. The co-operative movement here is part and parcel of the Irish organisation. The authorised committee in this country, I know, has passed a resolution condemning the Government. It would be far better to do that at the ballot box. I want to ask what the Government is prepared to do in the matter. If the Govern-is going deliberately by the armed forces of the Crown to commit crimes of this nature, then we as a people demand full compensation for the property that is damaged. When I speak of full compensation I do not mean by the decision of a Court, as effected in this case. Not in the slightest degree. Here is a decision of the Court, £12,349 to be levied on 1008 the North Riding in the County of Tipperary. It has not been the County of Tipperary that has been responsible for reprisals, but the Government, and if full compensation is to be paid it should be a liability of the Crown. Not only should full compensation be granted, but we should have at once an inquiry into the matter, as suggested by the Resolution.
The Government is endeavouring to make an excellent case for its attitude If it is an excellent case and there is nothing to be afraid of, why is the Government unprepared to accept an inquiry? It is said that people would not give evidence. That cannot apply to the question of the burning down of creameries. If an inquiry is refused I think it may be assumed that the Government is convicted of crimes of which it is afraid the public may be made aware. As an opportunity will come to debate the situation, as far as the solving of the Irish problem is concerned, it is not necessary to go into the matter now. You may attempt by your policy of reprisals to crush the Irish people. You may make that attempt by all forms of military intervention, but when you have done that I would respectfully remind you that the spirit of the nation will still be there. For more than 200 years this ration has been clamouring for the right to determine its own destiny. The spirit behind that demand still remains. You may crush the nation by sword, gun, or cannon, but the problem will yet have to be solved.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
I trust I shall at least be acquitted by the House of the charge almost universally levelled by Government spokesmen against hon. Members who criticise them of having any sympathy with crime and outrages in Ireland. I have one very close relative and a great many friends actively engaged in the forces in Ireland. I believe that none of those to whom I have referred have been concerned in any way in the outrages which have been so justly condemned during this Debate. I have not communicated with them in any way, but it is largely on behalf of the troops stationed in Ireland, whom I believe to be entirely innocent of anything of the nature described this afternoon, that I wish to see the demand for an inquiry pressed. Famous regiments, that for generations past have performed most magnificent 1009 services to this country, are to-day labouring under certain imputations—imputations which I have every reason to believe are unjust. They are shouldering the guilt of others. It is only fair to the troops actually engaged in Ireland that the matter should be sifted and that we should know who are guilty of the outrages. An inquiry would not in any way assume the form outlined by the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House evaded the issue by a statement that the evidence produced before such a court of inquiry would necessarily be perjured, in that justice would depend entirely upon the words of Sinn Feiners and that witnesses would be terrorised by the assassination gang in Ireland. I think that that statement in no way represents the facts. I believe the evidence required could be obtained from the officers in charge and the men concerned.
Personally, I have sat upon many military Courts of Inquiry. As hon. Members know, a military Court of Inquiry is instituted even in regard to the loss of a small item of a soldier's clothing, such as a hat or button-stick. I cannot conceive why it is necessary to go further than the officers and men of the units concerned in the Court of Inquiry that is demanded. For instance, a body of troops sets out at night in a lorry, armed with bombs and ammunition of every description. The orderly officer of the day is responsible for the guard which mounts over the transport, and the ammunition in barracks is presumably also under his charge. He is responsible to the commanding officer. The first man to be brought before such an inquiry would be the officer in charge of the barracks on the night that the men broke barracks and proceeded in a lorry to carry out what is called a campaign of reprisal. I believe an inquiry into the whole matter could be conducted before an impartial tribunal purely on the evidence of the officers and men concerned. It would scarcely be necessary to call as witnesses any inhabitants of the country. It is farcical to argue that because affairs of this nature take place in a country which is hostile to the troops and where fair evidence cannot be obtained, there should be no inquiry. If anything of this sort occurred on the Rhine, do the Government hold that no inquiry should be held? There should be an inquiry for the sake of the troops concerned. 1010 The Government throughout have been extraordinarily unfair in the matter. They are confusing the right of men to defend themselves with the right to wander around the countryside, devastating whole communities, destroying the houses and the property of innocent persons, and depriving them of any possible means of earning a livelihood. They really must differentiate between the right of people to defend themselves when attacked and what has been described by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and others as reprisals. In the present state of Ireland one certainly cannot deny the right to shoot a man who, when challenged, refuses to hold up his hands. Anything of that sort is perfectly legitimate. Men who are suspected of being about to attack or who are engaged in actual combat may be shot perfectly fairly and legitimately under the conditions which exist now in Ireland. But it is a very different story we have heard this evening. I do not want to take more evidence than that admitted by the Government. In the language of the Chief Secretary, these atrocities and outrages have taken place, and troops and police have broken barracks and have proceeded in lorries hours after the attack on the police has occurred, and have laid waste the houses of the people whom we are told are leading Sinn Feiners. The Chief Secretary said that only the houses of Sinn Feiners were burned, for the reason that the lists were in the hands of the police and military, and they knew the Sinn Feiners and the people who were concerned in outrages. I would ask the Attorney-General for Ireland how the lists of Sinn Feiners suspected of being concerned in outrages have got into the hands of the private soldiers who broke barracks and proceeded to those districts. Presumably the secret information is in the hands of intelligent officers and is not circulated to every private soldier. It really ought to be elucidated how those lists of leading Republicans get into the hands of private soldiers to wreak their vengeance in the way outlined by the Chief Secretary.
§ Mr. MOSLEY
It is not common to afford access to the private soldier to all 1011 the inner workings of an intelligence department. Possibly it is in Ireland. I am a stranger to that method, but very novel methods have been instituted in Ireland of late. It might have been said that the method employed in Ireland is the same as that employed in Belgium during the War by the Germans. The method is not quite the same. Germany had a method which was outlined before the War by its leading military authorities. They entertained the policy of collective punishment, that is to say, if troops were passing through a village and a soldier was shot the whole area was held responsible by the higher command. Some people were held as hostages, and by deliberate orders certain sections of that town were burnt down. That is not our method. It is not openly admitted. Our method is far more reminiscent of the pogrom of the more barbarous Slav, and it represents a far greater breakdown of law and order and justice than did the German method in Belgium, for the reason that their policy was carried out according to certain methods of procedure under the direct orders of the German Higher Command. We merely have promiscuous devastation of whole communities, some members of which may or may not be guilty of crime. Judgment upon that matter rests entirely in the hands of the private soldier, who is able to break out of barracks. Even if we are prepared to waive aside the moral and ethical side of this question, I am doubtful whether this method is effective in restoring order in Ireland. In Belgium, where more or less the same method was employed, the men who committed attacks on troops lived as a rule in the district, and the potential assassins knew that their neighbourhood would be wrecked. All the evidence goes to show that these Irish assassins are travelling up and down the country, and I am very doubtful whether they mind in the least if the areas in which one of their outrages has been committed is devastated next day by the forces of the Crown. In fact, they probably welcome such an occurrence because it exacerbates Irish public opinion against England, and is made known in every country in the world.
There is only one way to break down the murder gang, and no one is more 1012 anxious than I am to do so, and that is to catch them. That is the only possible way in which you can break up the murder gang. The breaking up of the murder gang must rest on efficiency in administration, and efficiency in this case means information. You must obtain information of their movements. You must elaborate a great system to obtain that information, you must act upon it, and you must introduce greater efficiency into Irish administration than we are witnessing to-day. I know this is difficult and that it is a matter which may take time, and that it will need the gradual building up of an elaborate system, but it can be done. Only the other day there was an instance, the place of which I cannot name as I hope, it will be repeated, where a police barracks was attacked and a certain cavalry regiment by a brilliant manœuvre was able to catch a very large band of Sinn Feiners red-handed, and to punish them very severely. Such manœuvres are perfectly legitimate and would be welcomed by everyone. I am, however, very doubtful of any good results being brought about, even if it could be defended, by travelling gangs of police breaking into houses, turning the inhabitants out, and burning and destroying the means of livelihood of people who may or may not be engaged in any campaign, and who, at any rate, have claim upon the forces of the Crown to protect them till their guilt is proved in a court of justice. These outrages or this system of reprisals have been in force for many months. They are still unchecked, and the assassinations by the Sinn Fein movement are still unchecked. I think it is already evident that by these methods we shall not restore order in Ireland. You will only restore order in Ireland by catching the assassins, breaking up their gang and bringing them to justice. The Leader of the House said this evening that a fundamental difference of opinion had manifested itself on this matter, and I think that is so. Some of us, at any rate, hold the opinion that you will never defeat outrage with the weapons of outrage, and that terrorism will never eradicate terrorism from the Irish political system. You will not restore order in Ireland by pulling old women out of their beds and burning their houses. The travelling assassins of the secret societies are absolutely 1013 indifferent as to whether or not the property of innocent people is destroyed in the neighbourhood where one of their outrages has occurred. They merely laugh at the incompetence of your administration, which so frequently fails to bring the assassins to book, and which so frequently visits the spleen of its inefficiency upon the innocent inhabitants of the neighbourhood. How futile is it for the Leader of the House this evening to speak of surrendering to outrage. The British Government surrendered to the Sinn Feiners when it emulated their policy of assassination. It has surrendered something which I, at any rate, believe to be more important in this world even than outrages in Ireland. It has surrendered the very root principle of British justice.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I would have been inclined almost to despair if the Debate this evening had continued on the lines on which it was begun by the representatives of the Government, and if it had not been for such a speech as that which we have just heard from, as I understand, a Member of the Conservative wing of the Coalition, and such speeches as those which were delivered by the two Noble Lords opposite, also supporters of the Government.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
As a matter of fact, the Noble Lord has always been regarded as belonging to the advanced wing of the Conservative party. It is a remarkable fact that, with the exception, which proves the rule, of one of the hon. Members for Nottingham, the verdict of the whole House of Commons, judged by the speeches, has gone against the Government. The Chief Secretary, as was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, dealt rather lightly and delicately even with the case of Balbriggan, although he made some observations to which I will presently refer. He did not tell the House, for instance, that some of the men who took part in this raid at Balbriggan were woke out of their beds at half-past ten, hours after the murders had been committed in Balbriggan. I am not going into the question of the origin of those murders. I have heard one story and the right hon. Gentleman has heard another. These soldiers and policemen, half policemen 1014 and half soldiers, came into the town of Balbriggan supplied with lorries and petrol and every instrument of war, which ought to be under the charge of responsible officers and not of private soldiers. Therefore I think the officers were the persons who organised and carried out this campaign.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
How did they get the petrol and the lorries except with the assistance of some officers? The hon. and gallant Gentleman is rather like a young bottle of champagne—he foams a little too early.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Either the officers authorised the thing or the soldiers broke loose from the control of their officers, which means that the troops had lost all discipline. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention that the first place visited by the Black and Tans when they came to Balbriggan was a public-house and that they got drunk before they went out again. This is the way to make England loved in Ireland and soldiers respected—to set loose a number of soldiers inflamed with drink! He did not toll us also that the two men who were killed—
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Just wait. The hon. and gallant Gentleman again is going off at half-cock. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell us that these men—such is the information I find in the papers—were prodded with bayonets before they were murdered. They were prodded with bayonets and tortured before they were murdered. There is another little detail which is worth recording. The most admirable book that I have read upon the late War was written by a Spaniard, Ibañe, called "The Four Horses of the Apocalypse," and I do not know any passage which gave me a greater loathing of the Prussian system or a greater understanding of the mind of the Prussian officer than that which records the fact that one of the Generals in the intervals between ordering the execution of poor young Frenchmen played delicately upon a piano. The "Black and Tans," showing almost servile imitation of the Prussian methods, went into the houses and 1015 played pianos while they were engaged in this campaign of arson and of murder.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I accepted the statements of the right hon. Gentleman; I did not ask his proof. My statements were not supplied by Sinn Feiners. They are taken from respectable and responsible English newspapers, if my hon. Friend insists on my sources of information, and they are open to him as well as to me.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Yes, certainly. The "Manchester Guardian." Does my hon. Friend deny the respectability and responsibility of that paper? I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for one thing. He described the killing of these two civilians as murders. Were they so described before the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-night? Is he not the first responsible Member of the Ministry who has ever described these things as murders? I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the word and I compliment him upon his frankness. Two murders, so described by the right hon Gentleman himself, were committed. The position of the right hon. Gentleman, however, is contradictory. He admits the murders, but he protects the murderers. That is a nice position for a right hon. Gentleman responsible for the administration of justice! That is the way Ireland is to be reconciled to England. We know the story of how the factory was burned out, putting a number of people out of employment. Does anybody suggest that the owner of that factory was a Sinn Feiner or an assassin? I understand that he was a Unionist and a Protestant, and probably as loyal a citizen, in the sense of the right hon. Gentleman, as any man in any town in Ireland, but it did not save his property, and that is the real issue to-night, not as it was put by the Leader of the House, not as it was put by the right hon. Gentleman. The real issue before the House to-night is this. Shall we be faithful to the almost unbroken tradition of this great free and constitutional country that law shall be supreme and the protection of the law-shall follow even those charged with the most heinous crime, or shall we adopt the opposite principle of Prussianism, that 1016 the innocent must suffer for the guilty? It is British justice or Prussian frightful-ness; that is the issue. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman trying to confuse it. He did not do it so boldly as that champion of law and order, the Leader of the House, whom I heard threatening Ministers, opposite, including some of his present colleagues, with being lynched if they carried out the law against Ulster. The point I am making against the Government, which I think I have proved against the Government, and which the hon. Gentleman and the two Noble Lords proved against the Government, is that they are conniving at these reprisals.
I will put another case. There was a man named Lynch, who, I believe, was supposed by the Government to be a member of the murder gang. A man named Lynch was found to be in a bedroom in a hotel in Dublin. I do not believe the people of this country realise what is going on in Ireland, and if they have heard, or, having heard, if they have understood, such a story as I am going to tell. At night a body of soldiers come to the hotel and ask what is the number of the room of a man named Lynch; they are told; they go upstairs; the man is killed; they leave the house. The porter does not know anything of what has occurred. It is all done in the deadly silence and secrecy of the night. About two hours afterwards a body of police come, and when asked what is their business, they say, "We have come to take away the corpse." That is the first the porter had heard of the tragic scene that had been enacted upstairs. There is a story spread that these bodies of men went in to arrest this man, that he took out a revolver and attempted to shoot them. That is the official story. I believe that story to be absolutely untrue. I am told, on authority that I believe to be as creditable as any authority from Dublin Castle or from the parties who are engaged in this, that this man was not the Lynch after whom the Government were making their search, that he was not a member of any assassin conspiracy of any kind whatever. If so, fancy what life is in Ireland, when the mere fact that you bear a certain name means that you are sentenced and executed in the middle of the night without trial.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
I really must ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to try to restrain the interruptions of the hon. Gentleman. The only reason I ask this is that they are so absolutely irrelevant that I cannot stop to follow, in what I hope is a logical trend of thought—I do not want to be offensive—these vacuous irrelevancies. I will give the case that the right hon. Gentleman makes. Supposing the man was a member of the murder conspiracy, is it to be argued that because you suspect a man, even on the best of evidence, of being either a potential or an actual murderer, you are entitled to execute that man then and there, without trial, without inquiry, on the ipse dixit of a soldier who may be sober and very often is drunk. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I know the evidence on this, and if I told you all the tales I know about the manner in which the discipline of your Army in Ireland is being destroyed by this policy of reprisals, I think I would surprise you. What is the English theory in all these things? The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin drew an illustration from Canada, and I will, too. I have been all through Canada. I do not want to make other Dominions envious, but I think Canada—and this is a testimony which will be welcome to the Chief Secretary—I think Canada is the brightest jewel of the British Imperial Crown.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Canada had its reactionary minority, its so-called loyal minority, and until you brought the loyal minority to Canada to reason you had not the loyal majority in Canada you have to-day, and you would not have the loyal majority in Canada you have to-day if you had been so much the slaves of the so-called loyal minority in Canada as you are the slaves of the so-called loyal minority in Ireland. But what struck me most in Canada was not its boundless wealth, not its wide and spreading prairies with the best wheatlands in the world, not even its vigorous and virile population, all almost as transatlantically breezy as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary himself—that is not what struck me, and gained my admiration for Canada. It was this, that they had inherited the great tradition of the Mother country that law and order should prevail. I will illustrate it by a little story told me by a great Irishman, one of the 1018 greatest figures in Canada, Lord Shaughnessy. When the Yukon was opened a judge was sent there; if I remember rightly, he was an Irishman named Macnamara. When he came to the Yukon he called the miners together. They had come from all parts of the world. They were adventurers. They were perhaps unruly spirits. We all know what mining camps usually are in those new countries. Judge Macnamara called the miners together, and he said, "Boys, I have just to tell you one thing. There must be no shooting, because if there is shooting there will be hanging," and I believe there was no shooting in the Yukon. I do not want to make these international comparisons, which are always invidious, but the great distinction I saw in Canada—in some parts at least—twenty or thirty years ago and the country on the other side of the border was the reign of law. And what does the reign of law depend on? It depends on the principle that law shall be as much observed by Governments as by citizens, that no man shall be brought to any form of punishment, and, above all, shall not be brought to the punishment of death, except by due process of law. Supposing a negro were to be guilty of some of these crimes which bring lynching upon them in the United States. If it were necessary ten, twenty, one hundred policemen would be sent down to protect that man against the mob who wanted to lynch him. We would expect every one of those policemen to die rather than that that man should be dragged to execution by mob law, and not preserved and safeguarded for due trial in the courts.
That is the principle on which this great country has grown up. It runs through all its history. It is the golden thread which binds the whole fabric of this Empire and all its history together. That is the reason why we do not have these violent and sanguinary revolutions in this country. Bolshevism in England, murders and wholesale scaffolds and wholesale executions, oceans of blood in England as in Russia—impossible! It is impossible because England and her people for countless generations have been brought up to respect and reverence the law, and nothing would ever beat that down in the breast of any Englishman, whether he is a miner or a carpenter, a duke or a lawyer. That is our safeguard, and a great safeguard 1019 it is. I hope it is not because I am getting old that I am getting a greater enemy of revolutionary and violent methods now than ever I was in all my life. For this reason I stand by the English system in England—not in Ireland. That is my complaint, that you have the Prussian or the Bolshevik system in Ireland and not the English system. You have had no reign of terror in England; you have had no guillotines in England. The only execution one remembers was the execution of Charles I, and, though I much sympathise, I think it was a profound mistake, as the hideous and corrupt period of Charles II proved. The reason that revolutions here have been free from the bloodshed and terror of other countries is that law and orderly development are at the very core of every Englishman brought up in English institutions, and I tell the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House, and every Member of the Ministry that they are guilty of high treason to the best traditions of the Empire by the substitution of mob law and the lynch law of the drunken soldier for the ordinary law of the British Empire and the British constitution.
The right hon. Gentleman gave a very eloquent picture of the ambush which took place near Ennistymon. I understand, and I quite sympathise with, the feeling of ferocious fury that came into the minds of men who saw their comrades lying dead and perhaps mutilated. But what happened? They went away and dragged out a poor man and put a pistol to his head. This is one of the most cruel features of all this régimeé. They constantly go to elderly men, put pistols to their heads, threaten them with murder there and then, and they give them one way by which they can save their lives, and that is by betraying their own sons suspected of Sinn Fein proclivities, and perhaps of co-operation in assassination. They dragged this poor man out. I believe they hit him with a gun. The frightening of women and of children, the driving of populations of whole towns, some of them half naked, some with only nightdresses on, to spend a night in the open air—all these are duplications of all the scenes in Belgium that made us all determine that we would destroy that hideous thing, whatever it cost us. This poor man refused to tell the whereabouts of his own son that the son might be 1020 killed by these naturally exasperated soldiers. Women have to fly from their houses. I read of one case where a woman had to carry her poor old mother or invalid sister—I forget the details; I have soaked my mind so much in these hideous details that they are a nightmare to me. I do not want to read them, any more than I want to revisit the battlefields of France and the devastated towns in Belgium. All over Ireland scenes like these are taking place. A gentleman told me this story. It is a small thing, but it shows what is going on in Ireland. His wife went to a seaside resort I know very well in Ireland. The lady who kept the boarding-house where she stopped was eighty years of age. She had three daughters all elderly women, the youngest of them about fifty. There was much shooting going on in the town. If I remember rightly two men were murdered by the "black and tans" or by the soldiers. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the word. This house, kept by an old lady of eighty with three elderly daughters, actually had a hand grenade thrown into it the other day.
All over Ireland that is taking place. That is done in the name of British law, and of a country which was willing to sacrifice 800,000 sons to fight such things in Belgium. I said in the beginning of my observations that I charged the Government, by acknowledging the murders through the lips of the Chief Secretary, with doing their best to protect the murderers. I will prove it. I suppose the House knows that one of the powers given under the last Coercion Act is that of abolishing trial by jury. I will give another case to that which I have already mentioned. I do not say the right hon. Gentleman is wrong or I am right, but I should like to know the facts. How are you to get them. The coroner in Dublin went to his Court to hold an inquest. He was told no inquest would be allowed. Nay, it is more than that! Down in Galway one or two people, I think two, were murdered. The House must not object to me using the word "murder" which is the word of the Chief Secretary—in regard to these outrages and reprisals. Two men were murdered; the coroner's inquiry was not allowed to be held. A body of citizens formed themselves into a voluntary committee with the parish priest at their head to consider the circumstances. An officer of the law— 1021 I do not know whether or not he was a soldier—came into that court and drove them out under threat of force. Inquiry is just as much destroyed by the Government as is coroner's court so that every "black and tan" or any other servant of the Crown in Ireland who commits a murder can commit it with the full assurance that no means will be taken to bring him to justice or find him guilty of the crime with which he is charged. That is the Prussian system which this Government has introduced into Ireland. Where is all this going to end?
My party and myself were given by the right hon. Gentleman an unsolicited testimonial of having no responsibility for these murders. I should think not. The party which I represented has been destroyed. We came to this House and proceeded in a constitutional manner—and I think all good Irishmen are beginning to ask themselves whether it is wise to desert the path which we have followed with such success for Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that my observation is received with applause. Daniel O'Connell used to say that every Englishman was sorry for the sins of his grandfather, and just to every Irish patriot when he was dead. The party which I think now holds high place in the esteem even perhaps of the House constituted as this—that party was for many years attacked by every weapon, foul and fair, that human ingenuity could devise. We had to fight in the law courts of this country the forged letter which was adopted by the Unionist party. We could beat everybody except our political friends and some of our political foes. We could not beat the right hon. Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson), and the movement for which he and the Leader of the House were responsible. We could not beat the Prime Minister. We could not beat even Sir John Maxwell. I remember in my early days Mr. Healy, who, as old Members of this House remember, had a somewhat poignant tongue, was assailed very much by the Clan-na-Gael, or the Irish Republican Brotherhood of that day, in the city of Newcastle-on-Tyne where he resided. They were always denouncing him because he had deserted what they were pleased to call the true path—the true path being revolution! Mr. Healy replied in his usual caustic manner to the effect that the true path of these patriots ended invariably in Jim 1022 Mulcaby's public-house. The revolutionary party in Ireland then, and in England and Scotland then, was reduced to a miserable remnant of men who met in tap-rooms and passed their ridiculous resolutions which had not the least influence on Ireland. It was the same in America.
I was able to raise more money for the constitutional movement in America in Philadelphia or Boston than the Sinn Feiners, the Clan-na-gael, the Republican party, or whatever they called themselves, were able to get in a year. Now our party is dead. The right hon. Member for Duncairn and the Prime Minister are responsible for Sinn Fein and for the destruction of the constitutional movement, and that is not the end of the story. I read a statement to-day by Mr. Arthur Griffith, a gentleman whom I have never even seen, to the effect that Sinn Fein consisted of men of all sorts of opinions on social and political questions. I do not believe it. I do not think the Chief Secretary believes that Mr. Arthur Griffith has anything whatever to do with or approves of this campaign of murder.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
That is a different matter. In my opinion there is within the Sinn Fein party a large body of men of what I may call constructive rather than extreme and revolutionary views. What has the Government done? They have substituted Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican party for the constitutional party demanding autonomy within the British Empire, and with such deadly skill that it almost looks conscious and intentional. They have, I say, substituted the violence of the Sinn Fein party for the constitutional party, and they have substituted the gun-men for what I may call—I will not use the word "moderate" because that might offend them—but for the constructionist element in the Sinn Fein party. How have they done so? They have done it first by a breach of faith with Ireland, repeated over and over again, which has justified the gospel that Sinn Fein in the old times were always preaching against us, namely, that England was the old perfidious England that had always betrayed Ireland and had always broken her promises. Historically I am bound to accept that. But this is a 1023 democratic age, and since the rise of democracy in this country I have never lost faith, and never will, in the conviction that the majority of the people of England want to do justice and give liberty to the Irish people. Home Rule was on the Statute Book in 1914. It was put off mainly owing to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir E. Carson). Home Rule was promised as an accomplished fact in 1916 in proceedings in which I am bound in justice to the right hon. Gentleman to say he played an honourable and useful part. It was broken up by the Government, including his friend the Leader of the House and the Marquis of Lansdowne, who were the main instruments in dashing from Ireland that greatest and best chance of modern times of the parties which had been separated coming together. It was promised in a letter to Sir Horace Plunkett, and that promise was broken. It was also promised when the Prime Minister introduced his absurd proposal in 1918 for conscription in Ireland. Nothing was done in 1919 to redeem those promises. The right hon. Gentleman said to-night that this assassination campaign did not spring from yesterday. This is not a thing indigenous to Ireland, but it follows the historical and universal course. I would not have liberty purchased by assassination, and I will not support any Government which justifies and connives at assassination, whichever party is practising it. There was not a policeman murdered in 1917 or 1918, and I think there were very few in the early part of 1919. Why? An hon. Member said to me this evening that all this must remind me of 30 years ago. It reminds me of 38 years ago, when Lord Cowper came back and boasted that he had driven discontent under the surface. Parnell was afterwards put in gaol, but that did not improve the situation.
What did you do m 1918? I am not a Sinn Feiner and never will be, but the principles of my party have been more than justified by the events which have taken place since our party was destroyed. My friends sometimes feel a little resentment against the ingratitude of the Irish people in this respect, although I recognise that nations have a right to change their mind. Our policy was beaten by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1024 Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) and the Prime Minister, and Ireland in despair decided to try another policy. These men in Ireland were elected under your laws and your constitution and they formed a party. Now you complain that you have nobody to negotiate with, but you had at that time. Why did you not leave them alone? Why did you not let them make their speeches and let them carry on their industrial inquiries? You did everything you could to suppress the newspapers published by those people, and you did not allow them to speak. If they had spoken the Irish people would have been given an opportunity of discussing and deciding these questions, and I do not think the good sense of the Irish people will always be absent from their political decisions.
You began making raids, breaking up meetings, and sending boys and girls to prison for the most trifling offences. You continued deportations, and you provoked disturbances in which many lives were lost. Your representatives entered houses in the deal of night, insulted women, stole some of their furniture, and terrorised everybody. You provoked the people in this way, and you thus destroyed all your reputation for good faith. The Chief Secretary says he is in favour of the most generous form of Home Rule for Ireland. I do not think he would even stand aghast at Canadian Home Rule for Ireland, but he cannot give it. His chief will not give it, and every appeal made to him to give Ireland something acceptable to Ireland has been rejected. The hatred and disappointment of Ireland are increased every hour when you try to palm off upon us this gas and water Bill in place of something which recognises our old traditions and nationality. St. Patrick was dead before Augustine landed, and Ireland was a nation when your forefathers were wandering with painted skins in the woods. One word more. This is a time for plain speaking. I think I can claim from this House that my political course has been consistent. I have always tried to make peace between the peoples of England and Ireland. But it would appear as if my 40 years' work is to be destroyed by the insane acts of revolutionaries, by insane reactionaries, by miserable party calculations which always, following an unfortunate fashion, hold 1025 that Ireland's destinies are mixed up with the fortunes of English political parties.
I have looked with admiration on the splendid campaign of the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin, in behalf of the League of Nations. I do not want to disappoint the Noble Lord, but I think the League of Nations, in the larger spirit to which he aspires, is dead. I was talking to some Frenchmen the other day. I asked them if it were not true that France was going to be protected, according to the preliminary arrangements made in Paris, by a defensive Treaty against German aggression between America, France and England. But France is without that protection. England cannot make any such treaty unless America comes in, and America has not come in. I hope the House does not think that I am a monomaniac on this subject, but my best vision, taking a survey of the general state of the world, is that the poison root of this Irish question is blanching, poisoning and destroying all the best hopes of humanity throughout the world. It has broken the Treaty between France, England and America; it has, in my opinion, broken the League of Nations. Next to the reconciliation of the peoples of England and Ireland, and I have not lost all hope of that, I have looked for hope to a thoroughly good understanding and cooperation between the two great English-speaking democracies of the world. Every man in the House shares that view except some political illiterates, who hold the ridiculous and silly doctrine that this nation need have no regard to the opinions of other nations. I read a speech by Governor Cox, one of the Candidates for the American Presidency, the other day. He held out the hand of America to England. I believe tomorrow, exasperated though they be, extremists though they may be, there is no body of human beings in the world who could more easily be reconciled than the Irish in America. They want this question settled. Nine-tenths of them want this question settled, and settled on terms which shall be honourable to England as well as to Ireland. But there is one necessary preliminary to your League of Nations, to your conjunction with America in the good work of preserving the democratic liberties of the world; there is one essential condition without which all hopes of 1026 these things are as but a vision and a mirage—and that is a reconciled Ireland. In all seriousness I appeal to you, men of England, Scotland and Wales—I appeal to you to try and save, from the graves of our heroes, some harvest of peace and good and justice for the world. Do that by reconciling Ireland. America will never shake the hand of England with Irish blood upon it.
§ Mr. FRANCE
I have listened for II years to speeches from the Leader of the House with varying degrees of pleasure, and I always know that, when he hits the box and shouts, he has a weak case. When, to-night, he resorted to the old party political method of describing those who put down a certain resolution as being supporters of crime and those who voted upon it as being in one of two divisions—either those who support crime or those who are against crime—then I wondered if he really thought, with all the great abilities which he has shown in leading the House, that any reasonable, self respecting Member of Parliament will be influenced to vote in support of the Government if it is suggested that a Resolution of this kind is put down by responsible people who approve of the murders and assassinations in Ireland, and that those who venture to think that there is something to be inquired into in these matters are necessarily themselves supporting crime.
I do not propose to bring any eloquence to bear on this subject; I do not propose to import any passion into what I say. I only want, if I may, to think aloud for a moment, with the House, as to how a Member should vote on this who really wants to support and help good government in Ireland. I hope it is not necessary to assure the House that for the crimes of murder and assassination I, like any others who have spoken in support of the Resolution, have the greatest detestation and hate. I also want to assure the Chief Secretary for Ireland that, speaking for myself, I have greatly admired the way in which he has courageously and patriotically tackled his job. I greatly admire the courage with which he spoke in reproof of these reprisals in Ireland, and I thought that his speech to-day was a frank and honest effort to protect and help those who are working for him in 1027 the government of Ireland. I think all that; but I could not understand his description of this Motion as "insulting". I had no intention of speaking on this subject, and I do not think I should have done so had I not been warmed to it by the suggestion which the Leader of the House made that those who take a different view from him are necessarily the friends of crime. That was an insulting observation.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I did not think it necessary to correct the hon. Member the first time, but when he repeats it I do. I did not say they were supporters of crime, I said they were surrendering to crime.
§ Mr. FRANCE
I apologise, of course, to the Leader of the House for having unconsciously misrepresented him. I agree there is a considerable difference. But to say that the putting down of a Motion of this kind, or voting for it, is a surrender to crime is practically to say that those who support it are surrendering to something which is to be triumphant, and therefore they do it deliberately with the idea that course will he assisted in their course of action. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I come back to the Chief Secretary's description of this as insulting. The Resolution says:This House regrets the present state of lawlessness in Ireland and the lack of discipline in the armed forces of the Crown.Is there or has there been lack of discipline in the armed forces of the Crown? I thought the Chief Secretary said there had, and expressed regret that there had. I thought he referred to an unfortunate, terrible episode as murder by those associated with the forces of the Crown. Surely that is lack of discipline, terrible lack of discipline, and the Chief Secretary has admitted it. The House is asked to express its regret for this lack of discipline, and the Resolution proceeds to state that the House is of opinion that an independent investigation should at once be instituted into the causes—that is a statement of the provocation—the nature—that would be an examination into the actual facts as to how far the statements are true on one side or the other—and the extent of the reprisals. I should have thought that, although I quite recognise that what the Leader of 1028 the House has said in regard to publicity in these matters may have some weight, that the Chief Secretary himself would not have been content simply to tell the House that in one of these cases where 150 or 160 men were involved, he has been unable to find where responsibility lay or who was directly responsible. I should have thought he and the Government would have welcomed some assistance from some independent source which would have done much to support them in restoring full discipline in the Army and would have done much to establish again the full force of law, which it has been said is so necessary in Ireland. I think the House feels in this matter, throughout the whole of it, a unanimity of disgust and hatred of the causes of the provocation which have led to these reprisals, and I also think there are men who are not taking any party view whatever in the matter who think it is a matter of supreme importance that in carrying on even the present form of Government in Ireland and in hunting down the assassins, in breaking up this murder gang, the forces engaged in that task will be strengthened and the Government will be strengthened if they will frankly welcome any assistance which will secure that such incidents do not occur again, and that the stain—and I think there has been a stain—upon the escutcheon of the administration of justice in Ireland should be removed for ever from the escutcheon of our country.
I am not going to waste any time by attempting to apologise for supporting the Motion and being assured of being a party to or not condemning those responsible for outrage. In the Motion that we are submitting we ask the House not to excuse murder, not to surrender to crime, but to prevent the international difficulties that have already arisen and are arising every day, and are doing great harm to this country. No one knows better than the Government that there is a propaganda going on all over the world which I believe is unfair to the nation as a whole, and which is doing incalculable harm to this country. That propaganda is more effective in our own colonies than anywhere else. It is no use talking about America and other places. The fact remains that in our own colonies 1029 a very disturbed situation is arising with regard to the Irish question.
I am not going to state views from tainted quarters. I have been to Ireland repeatedly within the last few weeks. North and South. I have 20,000 members there, 4,000 of whom are dismissed at this moment. I know the position in Ireland. Therefore, I am going to quote the position from North to South with a view to justifying an impartial investigation. The Chief Secretary says that if we can prove that unfair advantage is being taken of innocent people, that the law is being violated, and that citizens are not being protected, he is prepared to have an investigation. That is all we ask. Therefore, it is up to us to show that we can prove that things that taking place which will come into the category of what the Chief Secretary desires. I will first deal with the military action in regard to the railways. Several months ago the railwaymen decided that they would not carry armed soldiers or munitions in Ireland.
The result has been that for several months every day large numbers have been suspended and dismissed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Do not let us quarel about it. The Government were entitled to say that the railways are common carriers, and that therefore everything that is submitted ought to be carried. That is the Government position. I presume that those hon. Members who cheered do not suggest that there should be a different policy for Ireland than for England. I presume the House would agree that if traffic had to be carried in Ireland, and men were dismissed, the same policy ought to be adopted in England. I presume no one will argue that different treatment should be meted out to Ireland than England. For months these men have been dismissed. They have accepted their dismissal. They have not complained. But now, in addition to dismissal, in fact, as a substitute for dismissing them, immediately a railway man decides that he will not assist in the carrying of munitions or troops, it is not dismissal now, but arrest, and they put him into gaol. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear!"] The House, apparently, says, "Hear, hear!" The Chief Secretary has released them, but I want to challenge the authority under which he 1030 released them. The House seems to think that they ought to be arrested and tried in England. Let one of you dare get up and suggest that, if railwaymen in this country decide to-morrow in sympathy with the miners to refuse to carry troops or anything else, they should be arrested.
My hon. and gallant Friend is entitled to commendation for his courage, but the House generally would agree that a very serious situation would arise, and if it is not admissible and is wrong in this country, and you dare not do it in this country, in common fairness what right have you to apply it in Ireland? Two signalmen who refused to pull over the lever to release the signal were promptly arrested by the military, clapped into gaol, and sent out of their town, and it was only when I made representations myself to the Chief Secretary that these men were released. But a very curious thing is that the Chief Secretary in releasing them does not admit that he had no power to arrest them. This is the reply of the Department:I am desired by the Chief Secretary to refer to your letter of & regarding the case of signalman & and to inform you that orders have been issued for his release. Orders have been issued for the release of other signalmen to whose case 'The Times' apparently has referred. The Chief Secretary desires me to say that he is advised that these men have committed an offence and their release could only be justified on the view, which he is glad to be able to take, that in these particular cases they were actuated by fear.That is an excuse which the men will not admit. If the men do not admit it, why should they be released? They either ought not to be released or they ought not to be arrested. There is no power which the Government possesses to-day in Ireland to warrant their arrest. That is the state of affairs that exists in one aspect of it. The Government say, "We are going to insist upon railway men carrying any goods that are offered to them." I am sure the overwhelming majority of the House agree with the Government. But who is there who can support the Government when the railwaymen are not only penalised for refusing to carry the traffic, but the military and police are used deliberately to provoke and force the railwaymen to refuse. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] What is the use of hon. Members 1031 saying "No" when they have never been near it? Mr. Brooks was brutally and cruelly assassinated. He was chairman of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway. It was the most wicked and damnable murder that was ever committed. He had discussed matters with me and I had suggested that he should go and see General Macready with a view of stopping the military from provoking the situation in Ireland. When I told Mr. Brooks that military men were being sent to provoke the situation, that trucks had been burned by the military and not been used, he revolted at it and told me he would go and see General Macready. I walked up to the corner of Dublin Castle with him. Two days later he was assassinated. I know it was a cruel murder. He was going to the Castle to stop this kind of thing. I want the House not merely to condemn assassination. We all condemn it, and I support the Chief Secretary in every action he takes to stamp out crime and murder. On the other hand we are entitled to say to him and to the Government, "Do not, by your action in stamping out this, trespass on and outrage innocent people and burn their property." That is the position of the South.
Let me come to the position in the North. I am about to read a letter which I hope my Belfast friends will note. It is a letter from the chairman of our branch in Belfast, one of the best and most loyal men I ever knew, and an absolute opponent of Sinn Fein. He writes:I venture to write to you as a member of the Committee of—. I may tell you that not one of our religion is working on the Midland or the Great Northern Railway in Belfast. As for myself, a mob 200 strong came into our shops at the Midland sheds shouting for Papist blood. I was about starting work at dinner time, and luckily got out by a side door into safety. Any of the fellows who were caught—they were nearly all caught—were nearly battered to death. Even clerks with 20 years' experience were treated in the same way. After I got away I went to my little chapel, of which I am a regular attendant, as our houses were attacked by an Orange mob, all armed, using revolvers and service rifles. We were in a state of terror for two days. My eldest daughter, 20 years of age, collapsed, and is now between life and death. I am anxious to get, if possible, to my son, who fought throughout the whole of the War, and has himself had to leave the country.Here is a remarkable fact about law and order, and I am quoting now from Government 1032 documents and not Republican Army documents. The Chief Secretary knows that the Belfast evening Press reproduced the notice that was issued in the company's own works as follows:It has been decided to hold a meeting of the Protestant workers employed in the traffic department, including the clerical staff, on Monday next, at the lower end of No. 1 platform at 1.30 sharp. Your attendance is requested by order. Business: That all men employed in this department must sign a declaration bearing true allegiance to His Majesty the King.No one would say more in appreciation of allegiance to the Throne than myself, but would this House and those who are cheering name a shop or establishment in this country in which you dare put up that notice. Can you conceive anything that would be more damaging to the monarchy or can you conceive a graver injustice to the King being done. That is posted in the works of a company which the Chief Secretary tells us is subsidised.
My object is to show that there is neither law nor order, that there is unfair treatment, and that an inquiry should be held. The Chief Secretary said that he was going to insist that when railway companies were subsidised by British money the servants should do their duty. I answer that by saying that railway companies which are subsidised by British money must be impartial to Catholics or Protestants. The Chief Secretary in his reply to me said, "I not only condemn this, but I go further and say that it is typical of the difficulties of many employers with which I am trying to deal." I appreciate the difficulties When you are talking about everything being fair and just in Ireland, I am trying to point out to you that there is something radically wrong, and that we have got to deal with it. I am giving this evidence in support of it. But I do not think that a Debate on reprisals is the solution. I believe that this will continue until we try to tackle the cause. I can only repeat, in spite of all 1033 that is said to the contrary, that I do not believe that those who advocate an Irish republic speak for the majority of opinion in Ireland. I fearlessly say that. I know all too well that there is a large volume of opinion in Ireland in favour of an honourable settlement. The Government's Bill is not the settlement. The Government's Bill is not the solution.
I have repeatedly answered that question, and I do not want again to say what is my view. I believe that there is evidence of the need for an inquiry. I admit all the provocation. I know the provocation. I know what the soldiers feel, because they have told me. On the other hand, no one knows better than the Government that, if it be allowed to go forward, the reprisals can be justified, excused, and condoned in any way, you create a dangerous situation. It is because I believe that it would strengthen the Government's position that we ought to have an investigation, and that there are innocent people suffering in Ireland to-day, that I whole-heartedly support the Motion moved from these Benches.
§ Rear-Admiral ADAIR
I should not have intervened, especially at this late hour, had it not been for something which fell from the lips of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). He referred to the acts of drunken soldiers, and implied that they had been guilty of brutal and cowardly conduct in their drunken state. As a man connected with the fighting services for a great many years, I take strong exception to that charge and I trust that every soldier in this House will support me in doing so. I see in this Motion not merely a charge against the Government, but a charge against the armed forces of the Crown, and I resent that charge with the utmost strength of which I am capable. The Government are quite capable of defending themselves, and they have done so most effectively tonight. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley in his defeat has got what he most justly deserves as being the true cause of all the trouble in Ireland. I do not think sufficient has been 1034 said in defence of those gallant men to whom we are under tremendous obligations. I refer to the Royal Irish Constabulary and such of our Army as are assisting them in endeavouring to maintain law and order in Ireland. I do hope that they will see from this Debate that they have the support and the confidence and the sympathy of this House behind them in carrying out the most distressing duties that they have to perform in Ireland. We hear it spoken of as a scandal that we have some 60,000 troops in Ireland. The scandal does not exist in the fact that there are 60,000 troops in Ireland, but in the fact that there is not law and order maintained. Whose fault is that? It is due to the weak-kneed policy of the Government during the last few years which has prevented these men from doing their duty. They have realised that they have been mishandled, and the consequence is that they have taken the law into their own hands, and have carried out reprisals which every soldier and sailor regrets. Is it to be wondered at? They have been mishandled, and they have suffered intolerable provocation during the last few years, and I, at any rate, am not surprised at what they have done in consequence. I think that in our present Chief Secretary, and in the new Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, we have men who will see that their military duties are properly carried out, and that the military and Royal Irish Constabulary are allowed to do their duty in a proper way, and I trust that that being so their confidence in those who command them will be re-established, and in any case let them understand that they have behind them the confidence and the sympathy of the Members of this House.
§ Colonel YATE
May I as an old soldier ask one question of the Chief Secretary? Under what conditions are the soldiers serving in Ireland? We have heard a great deal to-day about the soldiers in Ireland, and the right hon. Gentleman told us there was a military campaign going on there, and that there was a demand for independence in Ireland, enforced by an army. He told us that the Irish republican army was organised in battalions, companies, and platoons throughout the whole country, and I should like to ask, if our soldiers in Ireland are facing the enemies of their 1035 King and country, enemies who are organised in battalions, companies, and platoons in every village throughout the whole country, is it fair to our soldiers that they should not be able to meet that enemy army on equal terms? Is it fair that our soldiers should not be able to accept the challenge of war that has been given by this enemy Army and that they should not be serving under war conditions in Ireland at the present time? The whole House probably read the other day what happened to the 17th Lancers. I had a letter from a young officer, and it is an instance of what is going on in Ireland. Here we had a party of 35 men in the barracks of the 17th Lancers. They are mounted men, and the horses had been taken out to exercise by, I think, 23 men, leaving 12 men behind in barracks. There was a guard on the gate. Amongst the men in the barracks were three local painters, who had lived with the 17th Lancers, and were looked upon as almost the same as the soldiers and were treated the same. All of a sudden, when the majority of the men were out exercising the horses, a man comes to the gates, hands in a note, and, while the sentry is turning round to take the note, one of the painters pulls out a revolver at the back of the sentry and holds him up. The second painter standing at the guardroom door shoots the sergeant in command dead on the spot and holds up the other two men, who are sitting in the guardroom, with their rifles probably in the rack against the wall, and the third painter signals to some 100 men concealed outside the barracks, who swarm in with revolvers. I think it is not fair on the soldiers that they should have to face war except on war conditions, and I ask that their service in Ireland should count as war service, and that the declaration of war given by the enemy should be accepted, and our men given the same allowances and everything else granted to men who are serving in war.
Another thing struck me in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. He said, "I am the head of the Government, the sole head of the
§ Government in Ireland." Those were his words. Now I would like to ask the Chief Secretary, if he is the sole head of the Government in Ireland, is it not his place to be in Ireland and to stay in Ireland? I have said, in years past, when talking of Ireland, that in all the countries in which I have served I have always found that the Secretary was the servant of the Governor, not the Governor the servant of the Secretary, and whoever is the sole head of the Government of Ireland ought I think to be in Ireland to govern Ireland. By all means let your lawyers do the talking, but the Governor in Ireland ought to be a real Governor, with power to act, and let him govern in Ireland, and leave the lawyers here to do the talking.
§ The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, in his speech, also said that he had done nothing to interfere with the economic development of Ireland. Now I would ask him if he read in the papers the other day the answer given to the South, who were asking for trade facilities, by an American General of the North in 1864. I think the House will agree that if the right hon. Gentleman, instead of affording facilities to our enemies in Ireland for the economic development of Ireland, would give the answer of that American General in the Rebellion, he would do much more to secure peace in Ireland than he is doing at present. [HON. MEMBERS: "What did he say in 1864?"] Hon. Members must read the papers. However, the main thing I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman is that the soldiers in Ireland should be put on a proper war footing, so that they can stand as soldiers against enemy soldiers in Ireland. I hope he will make that arrangement without any delay.
That this House regrets the present state of lawlessness in Ireland and the lack of discipline in the armed forces of the Crown, resulting in the death or injury of innocent citizens and the destruction of property; and is of opinion that an independent investigation should at once be instituted into the causes, nature, and extent of reprisals on the part of those whose duty is the maintenance of law and order.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 79; Noes, 346.1037
|Division No. 324.]||AYES.||[10.50 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Cairns, John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Cape, Thomas|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Briant, Frank||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, East)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Spencer, George A.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Klley, James D.||Swan, J. E.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lawson, John J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lunn, William||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Maclean, Ht. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Finney, Samuel||Mills, John Edmund||Tillett, Benjamin|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Tootill, Robert|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Myers, Thomas||Waterson, A. E.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Wignall, James|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. H., Hemsworth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R. Normanton)||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, R. (Houghton le-Spring)||Wintringham, T.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Henderson, Ht. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Robertson, John||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Hogge, James Myles||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Irving, Dan||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Mr. Tyson Wilson and Mr. Neil|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Maclean.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, w.)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Gregory, Holman|
|Astor, Viscountess||Coats, Sir Stuart||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Atkey, A. R.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Guest, Major O. (Leic., Loughboro')|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gwynne, Rupert S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hallwood, Augustine|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Courthope, Major George L.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hancock, John George|
|Barrand, A. R.||Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Hanna, George Boyle|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin|
|Barrie, Rt. Hon. H. T. (Lon'derry, N.)||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H (Devizes)||Curzon, Commander Viscount||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Haslam, Lewis|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Dean, Lieut.-Commander P. T.||Hickman, Brig.-General Thomas E.|
|Blair, Reginald||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Higham, Charles Frederick|
|Blane, T. A.||Dixon, Captain Herbert||Hinds, John|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel D. F.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Edge, Captain William||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Hood, Joseph|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Briggs, Harold||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Fell, Sir Arthur||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Bruton, Sir James||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Foreman, Henry||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Forestier-Walker, L.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel A. H.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Frece, Sir Walter de||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Jellett, William Morgan|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Gardiner, James||Jesson, C.|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Gardner, Ernest||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Johnson, Sir Stanley|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Casey, T. W.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Glyn, Major Ralph||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Gould, James C.||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, George|
|Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Simm, M. T.|
|Kidd, James||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Parker, James||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Larmor, Sir Joseph||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Stewart, Gershom|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Percy, Charles||Sugden, W. H.|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Perkins, Walter Frank||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Perring, William George||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Taylor, J.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Pickering, Lieut.- Colonel Emil W.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Lonsdale, James Rolston||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Lorden, John William||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Pratt, John William||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Lynn, R. J.||Preston, W. R.||Vickers, Douglas|
|M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Prescott, Major W. H.||Waddington, R.|
|M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|M'Guffin, Samuel||Purchase, H. G.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Ramsden, G. T.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Randies, Sir John S.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rankin, Captain James S.||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Maddocks, Henry||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Reid, D. D.||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Manville, Edward||Remer, J. R.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Remnant, Sir James||Wigan, Brig.-General John Tyson|
|Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Renwick, George||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Mason, Robert||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Matthews, David||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Roberts, Sir s, (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Mitchell, William Lane||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Moles, Thomas||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Rogers, Sir Hallewell||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wise, Frederick|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Roundell, Colonel R F.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Morden, Colonel H. Grant||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Morrison, Hugh||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Murchison, C. K.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Seager, Sir William||Young, W. (Perth S Kinross, Perth)|
|Neal, Arthur||Seddon, J. A.||Younger, Sir George|
|Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Newton, Major Harry Kottingham||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|