Beside the guilt involved in these acts by reason of their opposition to the law of God, anyone who shall within this Diocese of Cork, organise to take part in an ambush or in kidnapping or otherwise shall be guilty of murder or attempted murder, shall incur by the very fact the censure of excommunication."625
That is a quotation I give to show to the House that the prelacy of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland have are coming forward, belatedly as I think in the main, though there are many honourable exceptions, to face the real issue, the only great issue in Irish history, namely, murder, indiscriminate and callous, of the forces of the Crown and of law-abiding citizens of all creeds and classes. The hon. and gallant Gentleman makes no such emphasis on this issue of murder as does His Lordship the Bishop of Cork. While I am quoting Bishops, may I quote another to bring fully before the House as I believe what some of these Roman Catholic clergy feel on this question. They are not speaking as friends of this House, but they are certainly friends interested in the flocks entrusted to their spiritual care. Here is what the Bishop of Kilmore said recently:
O young men of the diocese, what has come over some of you? You wore religious, you wore virtuous, you hearkened to the teaching of the Church. You were noble-hearted, pure minded, chivalrous, and generous. What Devil's doctrine has gripped your minds, darkened your conscience, steeled your heart, that at the bidding of anyone you should pour out the blood of one of God's human brings?
§ That followed the ghastly murder of a policeman. I see no such emphasis on the broad vital issue in Ireland in the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member or of anybody in that quarter. The hon. and gallant Member said this great House is suffering in the esteem of persons abroad and in our own Dominions. I deny that. Every information obtainable by the Government goes to show that in this conflict in Ireland the Government is standing for civilisation to put down a campaign of assassination. But if this country's prestige has not weakened abroad it is not the fault of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has spoken or the fault of his leader the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. I hold in my hand a chart which purports to give reprisals in Ireland, which dots in Ireland every spot where a house has been damaged or destroyed or where a village has been damaged. That is bad enough to issue in this country without comment, without reference to the disasters that have come upon Ireland during the past few years, and especially since the 1916 Rebellion. But this is issued to French papers. 626 It is issued by an old colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. It is part of propaganda carried on by official Liberalism, out to destroy this Government, and in that attempt they besmirch the name of this country, which should be a pride to everyone. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the name?"] This is issued over the head of "Master-man, former Minister of the Asquith Cabinet."
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Let me read what this is, because those who allege this country is suffering abroad ought to do something, I think, different to what this is.The Irish in effect having captured hundreds of constables and soldiers (including an English general) have always treated them humanely and courteously, and after a little time have released them, whereas the English Government, for its part, when it captures Irish rebels, loses no time in hanging them.Up to the present we have hanged one only. [HON. MEMBERS: "And shot?"] And one has been shot under martial law.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
This is after the Macroom massacre, where 16 auxiliaries were done to death and hacked with axes after death. This is after the kidnapping of six British officers in Cork. They have never been found, and to that kidnapping Father Dominic, an Irish monk, referred in these words:Six British officers have gone to glory to-day. Ono of them squealed like a rat.That is this Irish monk's reference. That does not bear out "Masterman, former Minister of the Asquith Cabinet's" view. This document issued in England is bad enough, where party rancour is understood; but to send it broadcast throughout the world is the most unworthy form of propaganda I ever have known.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
On the question of propaganda also I want to draw attention to a letter issued by De Valera, who is the President in hiding of what is called the Irish Republic, and I am told he 627 showed a great discrimination in only sending it to certain Members of this House.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I am sure there are no bitterer opponents of Sinn Fein in Ireland or in this House than the Nationalist Members or the Nationalist party. That document reiterates the usual accusations against the Government. But there is one accusation I must publicly draw the House's attention to. It deals with the allegation that our soldiers and policemen in Ireland have been guilty of outrages on women. That is the most serious charge that can be laid at the door of any white man. We have over 60,000 armed men in Ireland, and there has never been one bit of evidence produced to show that there has been any outrage of this kind. The House will understand that if there could be a case got up against the soldiers or policemen it would be gladly produced with all its loathsome details to harm this Government and besmirch the name of these gallant men who are the representatives of this House in trying to put down the greatest conspiracy this country has been faced with for many years. Now as to the details which the hon. and gallant Gentleman produced. I cannot answer offhand the various cases. No one would expect me. He asked me will I make inquiry.
§ Captain W. BENN
Did not the right hon. Gentleman receive a verbatim report of all the evidence given before Judge Bodkin? Judge Budkin sent him a full verbatim account of the proceedings weeks ago. Has the right hon. Gentleman examined that? Why not?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I am dealing with Judge Bodkin under another heading. I am dealing with cases not referred to in the Bodkin Report. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has this advantage over me that he is the intimate friend of Mr. and Mrs. Erskine Childers who are Sinn Feiners and whose house is the rendezvous and, with that of another person, the clearing place for correspondence between Michael Collins and Mulcahy, the heads of the Irish Republican party, and 628 Members of this House who wish to receive information. Let there be no mistake about that.
§ Captain BENN
The right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to say that I am an intimate friend of Mr. Childers. I am a friend of Mr. Childers. I took on work he was doing during the War as an airman, but I have not been in Dublin or heard from Mr. Childers for many months. I simply say that I repudiate the inference the right hon. Gentleman has made.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I said that the hon. and gallant Gentleman enjoyed the intimate friendship of Mr. Erskine Childers. My second point was that Mr. Childers' house was that of an extreme Sinn Fein Republican, and I still say that it is a clearing-house for giving information. I feel very strongly that information coming from extreme Sinn Fein Republicans in Ireland ought not to be taken without regard to what the circumstances are. I am sorry if I said a word to reflect upon the hon and gallant Gentleman who moved this Motion. I can assure him that, while he can say what he likes about me, I shall continue to pay him the utmost respect because of his services in the late War. There is one case of which I can speak from personal knowledge. The hon and gallant Gentleman quoted a statement by Mr. Stephen Gwynn that a High Court judge was dragged down from a tramear, and complained of the vulgar language used by some policemen. I happen to know the judge. He told the story himself with great glee, and here it is. Mr. Justice Wylie, the last, and one of the best, judges appointed in Ireland, was riding on a tramear to a hunting meet. When he got to the end of his ride, there were some policemen on duty, and they did use a word which, I trust, no hon. Member of thin House will ever use, in calling him down from the tram. They did him no harm. He treated it as a joke, and he would be the man most surprised to find it quoted in this House and in the "Observer" as an example of the decadence of the Irish police. With reference to the case of James Murphy, if what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has quoted with regard to that and other cases is true, they are abominable cases, I agree, and I shall hope to show to the House the strong steps that have been taken in reference to the discipline of the 629 forces of the Crown, so that, if these unfortunate cases do occur, punishment is certain. Let me now deal with the report of His Honour Judge Bodkin, of Clare. Judge Bodkin dealt particularly with the burning of three villages, and awarded damages—inflated, as I think—to the extent of £140,000 in respect of those three villages. I was not represented, nor was the Irish Government.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I do not take my orders from a County Court judge in County Clare; I take my orders from this House.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The Crown has no status before a County Court judge. His business is to assess the damage done. It is not his business publicly to issue statements of a partisan character reflecting on the conduct of the administration. At any rate, his Honour has put to me a question which is a perfectly proper one. Having regard to the damage done in the whole of Clare over a period of years, the ratepayers will find it an intolerable burden to bear the expense of compensation, and he asks me to consider the question of recommending to the House the payment of the damages out of the National Exchequer. I cannot recommend the House to do that. All these damages are the result of a state of war extending over a series of years. I have always said from this desk that I shall take into sympathetic consideration certain cases in Ireland that I think ought to be paid for, with the permission of the House, out of national funds. His Honour, the County Court judge—and he is emulated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken—did not say in his report anything about the 28 murders that have taken place in the County of Clare. He did not say anything about what preceded the burning of the three villages.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I dealt with the question myself in the House months ago. I admitted the burning of these villages by forces of the Crown, but the House has forgotten the cause. One day 630 six policemen were ambushed, murdered by explosive bullets, and their bodies disembowelled by those bullets. A short time afterwards some other forces of the Crown, coming along, saw this frightful mess of their comrades. I admitted in the House months ago, and I admit now, that they lost control of themselves, and thse villages were burned, people were turned out of their houses, and men were shot in the heat of a hot-blooded reprisal. I regret it beyond words. That lack of discipline in the forces is the one serious ground for criticism of my administration in Ireland. It is, however, no use Judge Bodkin or the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Benn) coming with half the story to this house; let us have some tears for the 28 soldiers and policemen who have been brutally murdered. I will deal with Judge Bodkin's report on its merits, but I decline to admit that he is the best judge as to how Ireland should be governed, or that he is the person to urge where the money should come from to pay for damages that are the natural result and the inevitable consequence of a state of rebellion such as exists in Ireland.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke as if Ireland had been normal until I went there.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
He did not deal with any of those prime causes from which have come all the consequences from which we are now suffering in Ireland. I hope the House will give me its attention while I deal briefly with some of them. First of all, let me deal with that fraud which is a favourite item of propaganda, that Ireland is in economic ruins Since 1914, and largely because of the War, Ireland has enjoyed a period of great prosperity, and that prosperity reached its zenith in the year 1920. The statistics of Ireland show its unexampled prosperity, in spite of the Sinn Fein conspiracy to set up an independent Republic by a policy of intimidation, arson and assassination. This conspiracy—and this is the explanation of the prosperity in spite of the orgy of bloodshed—this conspiracy is carried on by young men who are a minority, and are not of the business, industrial or productive classes of 631 Ireland. Their operations are always destructive, and they have extended and are extending to England and Scotland. I warned the House last year of the certainty of Sinn Fein murder and arson extending to England. I again warn the House that Sinn Fein organisations are frantically working in the hope of intimidating the British people and the British Government by the revolver and the torch. In this hope they have been encouraged by the direct actionists of Labour, by the speeches of some Labour leaders, and by speeches of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Asquith). Let me give some examples of the prosperity of Ireland, and then I will give a striking proof of the intentions of these Sinn Fein gentlemen.
In Ireland, thanks to the Land Purchase Acts passed by various Governments, three-fifths of the farmers are now called tenant holders of land. They invariably pay their rent, in spite of all this talk about economic ruin, and they have enjoyed a prosperity unexampled in the history of that or any other country. The deposits in the Irish joint stock banks have increased from £74,000,000 in 1914, to £160,000,000 in 1919, and to £200,000,000 in 1920—the year for which I am responsible. The receipts from Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise in Ireland for the nine months ending with December, 1920, were £5,500,000 more than in the corresponding months of 1919. With regard to the creameries, about which we hear a good deal, there was an increase in 1920, as compared with 1919, in the quantity of milk products exported from Ireland. I hope that this statement in reference to the increased prosperity of these creameries will reassure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, who has shown such touching solicitude for Irish milk. The Registrar-General for Ireland informs me that the death-rate for 1920 from all causes, including deaths from violence, is the lowest recorded for Ireland, while the birth-rate shows on increase as compared with that of 1919, and the marriage-rate for 1920 is the highest on record. My submission is that these pictures of devastation and economic ruin in Ireland are not true. I am sorry to say that in 1921 some areas cannot prosper as they did in 1920. With the support of the 632 House I am going to make the lives of individuals of all classes, as well as of the forces of the Crown, the primary consideration. If it is necessary to lengthen curfews, restrict race-meetings, and so on, in the interests of saving life, then those measures must be taken. Let the House appreciate the fact that this Sinn Fein conspiracy is not restricted to Ireland. I regret to say that it is spreading seriously to England, as is obvious to anyone who reads the newspapers. I urge the House to remember that it is going to spread further.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The authorities and the police here in England show greater capacitly in dealing with it than the Irish police and soldiers. Here is a memorandum captured on Saturday last at the headquarters of the Sinn Fein Irish Republican Army. It deals with an appropriation to the Irish Republican Army of £30,000—most of which money, by the way, comes from Irish-American sympathisers with this campaign that is going on now.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
No, it was simply seized. The gentleman who owned the document left just before the police arrived. Under the head of "Operations abroad," this is what is said. I want the House to remember that this is in keeping with the whole policy of Sinn Fein—Large scale operations are of paramount importance. I fear, however, that the volunteers abroad, owing to their lack of training, cannot be relied on absolutely for operations on a large scale with certainty of success. Liverpool gives the greatest hope. Manchester is hopeless. London will do something on a small scale. I have no knowledge of Glasgow, but from the reports which have been received it is clear that they have no military instinct and apparently no training. There are possibilities of a couple of large companies in Newcastle-on-Tyne. Minor operations could well be carried on in Liverpool, London, and possibly, Glasgow and Newcastle. The following operations are some which can be carried out, but obviously will require a considerable amount of preparation. Destruction of large ships by fire, the destruction of buildings by fire, the destruction of blast furnaces, possibly the destruction of the coal mines of the district, and the destruction of the telegraph and tele- 633 phone system of the district, the signalling system, the wrecking of trains and trams, the destruction by fire of crops. General remarks.—The staff officer in charge of operations abroad should be given a free hand. A considerable amount more could have been done in Liverpool, were I allowed a freer hand. My instructions were to carry out these operations in a way which will cause the least amount of unemployment, exactly the opposite of what is required, particularly at the present moment. Operations also should be directed in such channels as would encourage direct action by such bodies as Communists and the unemployed, and action also with the mob in the direction of looting. Further, the officer in charge should not be tied down by considerations such as preserving the lives of enemy subjects. If such is left out of consideration more effective action will be taken towards crippling the daily life of the enemy people. For instance, if one train were wrecked it would have the effect of causing considerable alarm to the travelling public and extra expense to the railway companies either in patrolling the railway lines or in employing pilot engines; also, if gas works were to be blown up, no doubt lives would be lost, but the effect of throwing a town into darkness would encourage those organised and unorganised crowds referred to.I submit that that is as serious a document as could possibly be issued by any rebel organisation. The point I want to impress on the House is this: These Sinn Fein conspirators mean to do their best to carry it out. I give them credit for their intention to do the worst. They have done some of these things already. They will do more. The troubles in this country are commencing. The troubles in Ireland are being effectively dealt with. At any rate, from these documents that I have read setting out a criminal campaign, the expression "Sinn Fein," meaning "Ourselves alone," seems an appropriate title for that organisation.
Let me deal with this question of reprisals about which I know many hon. Members feel strongly, and no Member more than I do. The first act of what are called reprisals took place on 9th September. 1919, following the brutal murder of a soldier at Fermoy. During that year the Irish Republican Army had been busy recruiting and drilling an army. Before that first reprisal took place 10 police, one soldier, and two civilians had been murdered, and 15 police, nine soldiers, and three civilians had been wounded. There was little protest in Ireland from quarters from which one would expect protest. There was prac- 634 tically no notice taken of it in this country. It must not be forgotten that murder, and the threat to murder, have always been in Irish history, and are now the principal weapon of the extremist minority of that country. Between the dates of 9th September, 1919, and September, 1920, the date of the Balbriggan reprisal, which followed the murder of Head Constable Burke and the wounding of his brother, the number of serious reprisals were few, and invariably the consequence of the murder, often with atrocious cruelty, of police and soldiers. In this interval of a year the Sinn Fein movement grew bolder, and its weapon, the Irish Republican Army, openly drilled and paraded in two-thirds or three-fourths of Ireland. Police, soldiers, and civilians were murdered with impunity. The Crown and this Parliament were flaunted, its authority challenged and in some places overturned. There were in this period that I refer to 82 police murdered, 144 wounded, 11 soldiers murdered and 47 wounded, 21 civilians murdered and 71 wounded, and 744 public buildings destroyed or damaged by the Irish Republican Army, or members of it. It was not until the burning of a shirt factory in Balbriggan that hon. Gentlemen opposite raised any question of reprisals in this House.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
And the murder of two men. But it was the burning of Balbriggan more than the murder of the two men, I am afraid, that startled the House, although I never could understand how the burning of a house or a town was comparable to the irrevocable damage of the destruction of human life. I feel as keenly on this question as anyone in the House. It comes to me every day of my life, through widows and orphans of soldiers and policemen as well as of others. There is not a single thing that is going on in Ireland to-day that is incurable, except this taking of human life. But the responsibility for the commencement of this orgy of murder is not upon any Government on these Benches. It is not upon soldiers or police. It is upon these Sinn Fein conspirators, following on the rebellion of 1916, who have never ceased, and are not ceasing now, to murder. They are worse, if anything. One reason why there are more 635 casualties is that the Forces of the Crown are not now sealed up in their barracks. They are fighting for the authority of the Crown, and succeeding. The speeches of some leaders of the parties opposite have a most exasperating effect upon the Forces of the Crown in Ireland. Their stirring duties, their dangerous duties, their loyalty are ignored, and their assassins are encouraged, and they feel it deeply. I feel it myself when I go to Ireland and read the Irish papers, ignoring every word except the words of those who wish to condemn this Government in its difficult and imperative task. As far as reprisals are concerned, in the martial law area they are now conducted according to the rules governing reprisals under martial law in civil war.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
That is a matter of opinion. In my opinion they are effective, and they are carried out always—
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
With regard to the lives of innocent people.
Let me deal with the question of the administration of justice generally in Ireland, because I am afraid some hon. Members do not realise the difficulties that the Irish Government have. On the civil side, the ordinary Civil Courts, the High Court, County Courts and Resident Magistrates are again functioning in nearly every part of Ireland. On the criminal side we have to hand over the major portion of the administration of the criminal law and offences under the Restoration of Order (Ireland) Act to courts-martial. The Noble Lord (Lord H. Cecil) says, "Why not use civilian judges? People would have greater confidence in them." Because there are no civilian judges or civilians who are not judges with judicial status available. The Noble Lord does not, and the House does not, realise that a man who is a judge in Ireland for criminal cases—mainly for the murders of policemen or soldiers—is in hourly danger of his life. Therefore we select British officers with a trained lawyer always on the Board when a 636 capital offence is involved. In these cases of capital offences the courts are open to the Press.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I am almost sorry the Noble Lord has raised that question, but I will answer it. The way we save that trained lawyer is to put him into khaki and let him live in barracks. Every man must be armed in Ireland who is in khaki. Has the House forgotten 21st November, when 14 officers, many of them court-martial officers, were massacred in cold blood in their beds, in their bath or at breakfast at nine o'clock?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Before their wives. They were men carrying on the administration of justice. Only two of them were combatant officers. The rest were engaged in the carrying on of justice. I give that case of the difficulty in carrying on administration. Let me take another difficulty. It is not only the judges. No ordinary court could carry on the criminal law in Ireland, because the officials would be murdered. Let us come to the case of evidence. Evidence against prisoners has always been the greatest difficulty of every Irish Secretary. Let me give some cases which have occurred in the last few days. Two Protestant farmers in Cork, one 65 and the other 55 years of age, gave evidence at a military court about men collecting for Sinn Fein armies in the district. What happened? They were murdered before their families. We had a man on charge for his life for the murder of one of these officers in November. The principal witness was a major in the Army. An attempt was made to assassinate him the day before the trial. He was shot through the chest and arm, and the trial has had to be postponed until he gets better. In Belfast a man was on a charge for murder of a policeman. Royal Irish Constabulary went up to give evidence. They were followed after they had retired to their rooms by five assassins. Two of them were murdered in their sleep, and I am afraid the third will die from his wounds. 637 What is the use of the Noble Lord and others with no appreciation of the reign of terror in Ireland talking about the administration of justice as if it were a matter of the Old Bailey? It is a most difficult thing. I must bear tribute to the large number of Irish people who show a heroism unequalled in the history of the nation. We had the other day—and let me here pay tribute to her—a most heroic English housemaid in service for one of these officers who was murdered. She identified the murderer, and she was threatened with death and hounded out of her place. We had to take charge of her in Dublin Castle. She gave her evidence, and was not shaken. What is the result? To save her life she has had to change her name and to leave Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] Shame? I think it is a monstrous thing, and the people who are murdering witnesses ought not to have one word of sympathy.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
They do not get it? They get encouragement. When you have a reign of terror caused by assassins in a country like Ireland there are only two sides, one for the assassin and one against him. Take the case of the ex-service men in Ireland, who represent some of the finest Irishmen and some of finest Irish families. Not one of them were conscripts. An ex-service man is suspected as a loyalist. The majority of murders of civilians in Ireland has been the murders of ex-service men. The condition of some of these men is pitiful. Why is it? Because the local authorities refuse to accept grants of English money for the employment of these men, on the ground that they ought not to submit to the audit imposed by a statute passed by this House. I hope that when the question of unemployment comes before this House the plight of these gallant men, who are being murdered week after week in Ireland because they are ex-service men[...] will be particularly and sympathetically considered. I want anyone who follows me in this Debate to show me how to protect witnesses, and how to get a better administration of the law in Ire land. Find, if you can, better substitutes than British officers.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
If the right hon. Gentleman will march out of Ireland I will go there. We must ge[...] rid of you first.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I understand from the Noble Lord that the Chief Secretary is to march out and he is to march in, and all will be well in Ireland. If I thought that, I would gladly agree. Let me now come to the administration by another arm of the law, namely, the police, and I ask the House carefully to listen to this. The Royal Irish Constabulary is recruited from Ireland and from Great Britain almost entirely from ex-service men. Every recruit has to have the best character possible in his Army discharge. The fullest inquiry is made about him. That applies also to the ex-officers who form the Auxiliary Division in Ireland. I want the House to bear with me while I give them the type of men who are abused because they belong to the Royal Irish Constabularly or the Auxiliary Division.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Yes. There called upon me at the Chief Secretary's Lodge recently Mrs. O'Sullivan, wife of District Inspector O'Sullivan. District Inspector O'Sullivan was walking from the barracks to his house about a month ago, holding his little boy of four by the hand, when he was murdered on the way by assassins. That man had defended Kil-mallock Barracks with twelve comrades last year against 500 Irish Republicans. They fought from one a.m. till seven o'clock. Two of the men were killed, burnt in the burning building, and all the other were wounded. They shot their last cartridge, fixed bayonets and charged the brutal mob. O'Sullivan was promoted on the spot and had been promoted since. Because of his heroism, which ought to have moved every Irishman who had a spark of patriotism in him, he was a marked man. He knew he was a marked man, but he refused to be transferred from the danger zone. His widow 639 came to see me, with her children. She had no reflection to make against the British Government. It is a moving story. Her requests were these, she said:Before my husband died he asked me to bring my boys to you, his champion.That is some appreciation of my efforts, and I value it far more than all the abuse that I get from the other side. She brought her two boys to me and asked me to see that they were brought up as members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. She asked my permission to wear her husband's medal. She asked my permission to wear the buttons cut from his tunic, covered with his blood on the day of his murder. She asked my permission to have his rifle, which was broken with bullets, and which he used in the final bayonet charge by these gallant men at Kilmallock. I want the House to understand that the best people in Ireland and the majority, sympathise with Mrs. O'Sullivan and admire her gallant husband. What is the use of bringing to this House isolated cases of murder?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
What is the use of bringing isolated cases of murder to this House, without any revelation of the gallantry of the men who are standing between this House and chaos in Ireland, and without any reference to the sacrifices of these men and their widows and children, who are now numbered in many hundreds. Let me give a case of Auxiliary Division men. At Longford a couple of military lorries of Auxiliary men, every one wearing decorations won in the War, were ambushed. A mine was exploded under the lorries, making a crater six feet by four. Four men were killed, six seriously wounded, three wounded, and five others unwounded. District - Inspector Craven, who had charge, was hit in the leg. He fell down but got up again. He refused to take cover, and walked up and down the road encouraging the others and controlling the fire until he was killed. Who was District-Inspector Craven? He was a Lieutenant-Commander in the War. He had charge of a mine-sweeper in the Irish Sea, and saved an American transport from being sunk by submarine, thereby saving the lives of 600 American soldiers. He has been murdered, by men paid by Irish-American money, in the defence not 640 only of the honour of this country, but in the defence of, I think, the civilisation of America also. District - Inspector Taylor remained fighting until he was shot through the chest and the stomach. Temporary Cadet Wase, when his ammunition was expended, remained by the wounded, bandaging them under fire. Cadet Richardson was shot through the leg, but he volunteered to go for reinforcements, and did so successfully. Temporary Cadet Maddox—I like Maddox, and have marked him for promotion—fired his Lewis gun and all his revolver ammunition except two rounds, and these last two he fired through the breech mechanism of the Lewis gun and put the same out of action. Although wounded the men continued fighting until all their ammunition was expended. This is the type of man who won the War for this country, and he is winning the war now in Ireland, and yet the right hon. Member for Paisley made this reference in a speech given to the Liberals at Cambridge on 7th January:After an interlude of barbarism which recalls the worst achievements both of the ancient and the modern Hun.Who are these rivals of the ancient and modern Hun? They are the forces of the Crown in Ireland. There is no question about it.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
There is the reference, and it is a most unworthy reference. It makes my task more difficult when an ex-Prime Minister, who is more than a personality, who is an institution in the history and government of this country, makes remarks that can be implied to be a reflection upon the men who are risking their lives every day in Ireland. Now as to the question of the discipline. I am glad to say the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Benn) has relieved my mind, because he says there is no fault to find with the British Army in Ireland as to discipline. I am delighted to hear it. I am delighted to hear there is no criticism of that force in this House, although, let it be remembered, the publication issued by Mr. de Valera accuses them of every known crime in the criminal calendar. The discipline of this force is more severe than the discipline of any other police force in the world. Men are dismissed at once if they are suspected of 641 drinking, of negligence in their duty, or of discourtesy to the population. They are commanded by General Tudor, the distinguished Commander of the famous 9th Scottish Division at the front. He has visited pretty nearly every large police station in Ireland. By my own orders, written by my own hand, and on my visits and by my speeches, I have impressed upon these gallant men that they are responsible to this honourable House for everything they do, and that this House will support them only so long as their discipline is worthy of the cause and of the corps. The Labour party sent out a most extraordinary Commission to Ireland, and in its Report it said that not more than 1 per cent, of the Royal Irish Constabulary could be called really bad men. I wonder if this House of Commons could stand that test. I wonder if the House of Lords could stand it.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Could any body of men stand that test? I notice that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of my Church—
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I am a very sincere member of the Church of England, not a political member or a talking member. I wonder if His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in the House of Lords to-morrow, could survey his black army of clergymen—[laughter]— his army of clergymen, and could put his hand on his heart and say, "Not more than one per cent. of these clergy under my archiepiscopal care are really bad men." Will lawyers stand the test? Will Labour Leaders? The fact is, when you consider the provocation, the anxieties, the hourly danger of death in which these men are placed, it is a superb compliment to pay them to say that only one per cent, can be criticised. The Labour Commission, with all the desire in the world to damage the Government and thwart its policy, showed how little it understood the situation when it dealt with this force in that way. In that Report this extraordinary criticism is made:The majority of the junior officers in the Army are generally ignorant of their professional duties. Many in the infantry 642 battalions have not passed through the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.That is signed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson) and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson).Subalterns who have passed through the Royal Military College or the Royal Military Academy, 55 per cent. Subalterns whose commissions are direct from the ranks, 44 per cent.That is from General Sir Nevil Macready, and shows the status of the junior officers of the Army. This is the point I want to make—the men who did not pass through Sandhurst are men who won commissions from the ranks at the Front. They are sons of working men, and yet the Labour Commission sneers at them.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
No, I never sneered at any man in my life. I think it is the finest thing in the world to have democratised the commissioned ranks of the British Army, but the amazing thing is, now that it is done, these men, selected from every field in the late war on grounds of merit and merit only, should be sneered at as inefficient by this precious Labour Commission which went to Ireland to hurt the Government, and wound by insulting the class from which so many of them come. I will explode another bubble in that report of bubbles.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I say bubbles. The report suggests that masks were issued to the forces of the Crown to enable them to disguise themselves and go on errands of pillage and murder. They said they saw a mask. They did, and I will give the military description of the mask they saw.These goggles are issued to Royal Engineers, infantry and other dismounted units for practising night work by day. They consist of a cloth mask with two light and two dark films. A depôt gets sixteen pairs. Hence the number sent to the depôt of the Royal Irish Fusiliers. They are issued to all infantry units, quite irrespective of where they are stationed. They were originally introduced in 1917.In the Labour Report they suggest that these masks were specially made; and issued so that the Forces of the Crown could disguise themselves and go about 643 on a murder campaign. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] It is a monstrous thing. I confess that I was disappointed at that Report. I had the whole Commission in my room at the Castle. I assembled all the Generals, the Heads of the Police, the Heads of the Government Departments of Ireland. I asked the Labour Commission to question these men. I offered to produce evidence from any part of Ireland they wanted. They had no questions to ask. They never asked for one item of evidence that I know of throughout the whole of that tour.
§ Mr. LAWSON
That is not true. There was no place we went to where we did not see the head of the Army in that particular area.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Need I press the point? We were prepared to help them. I am dealing with them rather harshly, with regret, because they say several nice things about me.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
And the policy of reprisals may arise again. My point about that Labour Report is this. It is an important point. That Report, published in England, is innocuous because nobody believes it—it is part of a political campaign—but that Report is sent abroad. To that extent it besmirches the fair name of this country and holds up not myself, because I am quite immune now— every Irish Secretary becomes immune to criticism from certain quarters—but it holds up to obloquy British soldiers and Irish police to the outside world.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland in April, 1920. I had the pleasure of contesting what I may call a successful by-election in the month of April. I went to Ireland in May. For two months and a little more there was a conciliation period in Ireland. I want the House to remember that great changes were made in the personnel of the Government of Ireland. A number of English civil servants, selected on grounds of merit, were taken to Ireland to assist the administration and right splendidly have they borne their duties. The General 644 Officer Commanding-in-Chief was changed and the present General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Sir Nevil Macready, was appointed. Every deportee and suspect was released, as a token of good will, by the Government. In order to give me a start, in a spirit of good will a measure of payment of primary teachers was carried through as an administrative measure, which paid these under-paid teachers on a scale equal to that given in England, and the House of Commons may have some criticism on that point when the Vote comes before them because we admit that they had no control over it, that this was done without them as a sign of good will.
Sinn Fein hailed every evidence of goodwill as a sign of weakness. They perfected the organisation of a Republican Government to undermine the authority of the Crown in local administration. They got their Irish Republican Army ready, and it continued to intensify its campaign of murder and arson. The County Council elections were swept by the Sinn Feiners, exactly in the same way as they defeated the Nationalists in the General Election of 1918—by intimidation. Anyone who did not vote Sinn Fein was terrorised from voting at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "How can you tell?"] Ask anybody who knows Irish politics. The summer assizes in Ireland were a failure because jurors and witnesses were intimidated and could not attend. Inquests became a farce. Therefore we had to set up military tribunals in lieu of them. The Royal Irish Constabulary reached its lowest ebb for years owing to hundreds and hundreds of resignations. By July of last year the Sinn Fein terror was triumphant in two-thirds or three-fourths of Ireland. The Irish Republic was functioning because an armed and ruthless minority had terrorised into submission a non-armed majority. The House in considering my régime in Ireland will want to understand the difficulties of the situation. The Irish Republican Army, composed of young men of from 18 to 25, patrolled the streets and roads with arms, controlled public institutions, held courts, levied fines, collected money at the point of the pistol. They wounded, burned, terrorised at will, and no one dared seek redress. The loyal law-abiding people submitted with anger and despair. The Royal Irish Constabulary was sealed up in its scattered barracks inadequately 645 armed, without transport, diminishing week by week in numbers, and disheartened. From 1908 until 1916 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was Prime Minister. He commanded a large and loyal majority in this House. He succeeded to a peaceful Ireland. This Sinn Fein conspiracy grew up unchecked under his careless régime. The meanest rebellion in history, foreseeable, but not foreseen, broke out in Easter, 1916.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The House will remember how unarmed soldiers were massacred in the Rebellion of 1916. Martial law was set up for the whole of Ireland. A few conspirators were shot, and hundreds were imprisoned and soon released, and returned to Ireland and continued the fight for an independent Ireland and to help the Germans to defeat the allies of America. The late Prime Minister's treatment of the rebels encouraged every enemy in Ireland just as his attitude encourages them to-day. He does not intend it, I know, but because of his attitude every assassin in Ireland looks upon him as a friend, and every law-abiding citizen in Ireland looks upon his speeches with despair. [HON. MEMBERS: "How do you know?" "Disgraceful!"] He abuses my administration, which has lasted for 10 months. What about his Government, which lasted eight years?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I am now fighting this conspiracy, which he allowed to grow up and now encourages to go on. To-day the police are no longer prisoners in their own barracks. They are no longer resigning. Every county in Ireland is sending recruits to the Royal Irish Constabulary. They are armed and equipped and they are re-occupying territory in the South and West that was evacuated. Casualties will occur because the Forces of the Crown 646 are now insisting on upholding the authority of the Crown. They are cooperating with an Army which, I think, is efficient and I know is intensely keen and loyal. The Irish Republican Army is confined to certain areas, principally the Munster and martial law areas. There are more murders in Munster than in the whole of the rest of Ireland. It is quite wrong to suppose that the whole of the rest of Ireland is going through an orgy of crime. Isolated groups of assassins are wandering round trying to stir up trouble, and in some counties they succeed. We have broken the boycott, broken the railway boycott. We have broken the reign of terror in nearly two-thirds of Ireland. I think that fear of terrorism is disappearing, and it is due to those Forces of the Crown which some Members of this House do not appreciate. While I am on that point may I say that so stern is the discipline of this Force that I have to report that five of the Royal Irish Constabulary have been dismissed and eight Auxiliaries and one Dublin Metropolitan policeman have been convicted for offences quite outside their, police duties. There are now awaiting trial 28 of the Royal Irish Constabulary, eight Metropolitan constables, and 11 Auxiliaries. As soon as an accusation is made against a policeman he is arrested to stand his trial. Can anyone do more than that in enforcing discipline? We find that most of the accusations are false when they come to trial, but so anxious am I that the discipline of the Force should be, not only unimpaired, but most severe, that the House ought to know that an accusation means arrest of the accused pending his trial.
After all, the House may abuse the Chief Secretary and those who work with him; the House may find fault with the policy of to-day. But the question is, how can we all help to break this murder conspiracy? I submit that if this House would show a united front these murders would cease. I believe the Sinn Fein movement has lost ground in every country in the world, and it has no great backing among the peoples of these Islands. But undoubtedly they are encouraged to further and more desperate efforts by the hope that some combination on the part of right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen in this House will dismiss the present Government from power and concede the demands for an Independent 647 Republic in Ireland. I would like to see every Member of this House not merely emphasise the fearful consequence of this state of war, but condemn the origin and authors of it. I do not think that is asking too much. There is another point. The Home Rule Act is now law. That fact, in my opinion, will move Irish politics from this House to a large extent.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
There will be elections in Ireland within two months from now. The Northern Parliament will be elected and will be opened in June, and it is hoped that all the Prime Ministers of the Dominions will be able to welcome in Ulster a new and vigorous partner into the Commonwealth. I certainly hope that the same procedure will take place in Dublin in reference to the Southern Parliament. At any rate the electors of the Southern Parliament will have an opportunity to decide for themselves. That vital and overshadowing fact in Irish history, the terror of the Sinn Fein gunmen, will be the only bar to the election of a really representative Parliament for Southern Ireland. I shall do my best to see that these Sinn Fein gunmen have not the power to terrorise. I submit that the future government of Ireland is now in the hands of the Irish people. The Act provides for the political unity of Ireland. No one outside Ireland can prevent that unity. Any Amendments of the Act must come from Ireland. If the representatives of the two Parliaments ask for anything from this House, subject to Imperial and strategical unity and goodwill, I am sure the request would not be refused. For years past and now Sinn Fein extremists and their Soviet colleagues in Ireland—there is Sovietism in a marked degree in Ireland—have conspired to smash the Empire. A policy of calculated and brutal arson and murder, with all its ghastly consequences, remains uncondemned by Mr. De Valera and the 648 Sinn Fein leaders. The authors of that policy hope to terrorise into submission the British people and the British Government. It is the policy of the assassin that we are fighting, and it is watched by sinister eyes in Great Britain, in Egypt, in India and throughout the world. Its success would mean the break up of the Empire and our civilisation. I submit that there are only two alternatives. The one is to surrender to the assassin and the other is to fight. I am for fighting the assassin.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The right hon. Gentleman has extended to the House an invitation. I propose to accept it He asks us to denounce the origin and the authors of all that is occurring in Ireland to-day. Most gladly do I denounce the authors. The authors sit on the other side of the House, and the origin is there. There is a Coalition of author and origin. One thing that to me is most contemptible in the speeches delivered from Benches opposite by Liberal Members is their assailing of their own colleagues and the policy of their old party. It seems contemptible that, having belonged to the Liberal party, and some of they having belonged even to the Government of the Liberal party that having been associated with the Liberal party, and having gathered their political power from that association, they should take the seats of the mighty and start to deliver violent diatribes against their old colleagues, and saddle old associates with the responsibility for the horrors that they themselves have brought on Ireland. I notice something different in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman from all his past Parliamentary triumphs. There was an absence of something in the orator, and an absence of something in the audience. I did not notice the triumphant note in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, nor did I recognise hilarious cheers from the Gentlemen behind him. He was right not to be triumphant, and his followers were right not to be hilarious. At this moment there is gathered in the Capital of this nation a great band of European statesmen trying to fashion out a new Europe and a new world, to create peace among all men, to bury old racial and national rivalry, and to destroy old passions and hatreds. Here is what we get for Ireland.
649 The right hon. Gentleman's speech was over-coloured and melodramatic. He recited old incidents and tried to paint old horrors. There was everything in the speech but the word of a statesman, everything in his recital but an indication as to where lies the future of Ireland in its relations to this country. The speech has been delivered before, and I am tired of listening to it. It is because this House has no political experience or no political knowledge that speeches of such a character are delivered. They are good enough, because any talk from the Ministerial Benches will arouse the cheers of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues. This is the contribution the right hon. Gentleman offers. The gentleman who was to smash the murder gang three months ago comes and tells us that the murder gang never were so active as they are to-day. The gentleman who said, "Give me another two or three months and I will create peace, even if it be in a wilderness," now admits that no peace has been created. When an hon. and gallant Member from a front Opposition Bench comes forward with a carefully-prepared statement delivered with cold impartiality and a fairness which I have never heard excelled in this House, notwithstanding how indignant he must feel, how does the right hon. Gentleman treat it? With one exception the right hon. Gentleman did not refer to any of the incidents as to which he had been invited to give an answer.
The right hon. Gentleman started his speech with an attack on Mr. Erskine Childers. Is Mr. Erskine Childers a wild Irishman? Is he a leader of an Irish murder gang? Is he some traditional enemy of the Empire? I do not want to be offensive to the right hon Gentleman, but I wonder whether he has forgotten that there was a War recently and that Mr. Erskine Childers played a far more gallant part in that War than the right hon. Gentleman? Mr. Erskine. Childers not only bore a part in the War, but he carries with him the records of splendid service in the Navy during the most critical time of the War. I can hardly hope that the Chief Secretary would stop to listen to me, but at least I can expect that the learned Attorney-General will not sit there and sneer at me. Mr. Erskine Childers went over to Ireland. What finer commentary could there be on British rule in Ireland than that this 650 man, who was one of your bravest fighters in the Great War, having gone to Ireland, should become one of the most profound detesters and loathers of your system in Ireland? In spite of Mr. Childers' name being mentioned here in terms of opprobrium, I would come to the conclusion that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark when a man of this character can become one of the most powerful fighters for Ireland and has been practically driven into the Sinn Fein camp by the horrors which you have brought upon the country.
What was the next thing the right hon. Gentleman did? He made an attack on Judge Bodkin. What was Judge Bodkin's function? Judge Bodkin was called upon in the discharge of his duties to listen to claims for malicious injuries in Ireland. He had these claims brought before him by ordinary legal methods of procedure. These claims were for the destruction of property, which became almost universal in County Clare, the county over which he judicially presides, and when Judge Bodkin first started to hear these cases he learned from witnesses that all these depredations were brought about by uniformed officers of the Crown. He wrote to the Chief Secretary, and he said: "These are terrible charges to make against officers of the Crown. If this damage has been done, it will have to be paid for. Are the innocent citizens who had nothing whatever to do with the destruction of the property to pay for it, although it has been done by officers of the Crown?" As far as I can understand, the Chief Secretary did send a legal representative of the Government, who did appear in these cases, and never once in these 139 cases did this legal representative of the Government ever deny or attempt to question that all these depredations were done by the officers of the Crown. On the contrary, the answer that we get from the Chief Secretary is: "Oh, you gentlemen have no right to expose these things. You have no right to cast a glimmer of the light of public opinion upon these transactions. You are helping the enemy in Ireland and the enemies of the Empire if you endeavour to put an end to transactions that bring a blush of shame to the faces of Englishmen in every part of the world." I am glad that this repudiation of English Members that has come from that bench did not come from the right hon. Gentleman the Prime 651 Minister. There were reprisals once before, in South Africa, and here was the opinion of the Prime Minister then. He criticised and censured the conduct of the men who for the treachery of others burned the homes over the heads of people who were perfectly innocent. In regard to military reprisals, Mr. Lloyd George said in the House of Commons on 15th December, 1900:Nothing was gained by making this man desperate, and it was a silly, foolish, iniquitous policy to burn his farm, ruin his property, and bring his family to the grave. It is not a military question at all: it is a question of understanding the ordinary influences that govern human nature."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1900; col. 897; Vol. 88.]Is this fine moral philosophy which was submitted by Mr. Lloyd George before he became Prime Minister towards the Boers in South Africa to be all changed when similar conditions occur and he is Prime Minister in regard to similar conduct in Ireland by his own agents? I say with him, in regard to all these reprisals that are taking place, that it is not fair fighting; it is degrading to people who talk of Empire while the honour of no Empire is safe in their keeping. What the Prime Minister of England to-day said in regard to these reprisals in South Africa in 1901 I repeat here in their entirety as my impeachment of the policy of the Government towards Ireland in 1921.
One of the first things I expected when the Chief Secretary for Ireland rose to-day in the House was some explanation as to why they have not submitted to this House or published the Strickland Report. What was the origin of the Strickland Report, if such a document exists at this moment? One of the gravest outrages of modern times occurred in the city of Cork. A great city, one of the most beautiful in all Europe, was partly destroyed; the buildings in its greatest thoroughfares disappeared; the principal municipal buildings were burned to the ground; and over £4,000,000 worth of property disappeared almost in a night. One would imagine that that was not a very small thing, that destruction and havoc of this character would have not only appalled this country, but appalled the Government itself, and the natural thing for us to do was to demand a full, complete, and impartial inquiry as to the 652 causes of this burning and this destruction. Uniformed officers of the Crown were charged with the crime of destroying part of Cork. I remember the Chief Secretary rising in his place and growing wildly indignant at the mere suggestion that any uniformed officer of the Crown would directly or indirectly be responsible for so outrageous a transaction. We knew from witnesses that this destruction was the direct result and was caused by the military forces in Ireland. He denied it, and he continued to deny it. We demanded an inquiry. It was his word and the word of his officers against the eye witnesses who saw these horrible outrages committed, and naturally the only way in which the truth of the allegations and denials could be got at was by an impartial inquiry. We asked for an inquiry by Englishmen, by British Tories. I would have been satisfied with a tribunal composed of the most bitter and violent partisans of the Government on that side. But no; the right hon. Gentleman said: "We will not grant you such an inquiry. General Strickland will hold an inquiry himself, and the inquiry will be of the most rigid and exhaustive character." We were told: "You will have it before the House rises." The Attorney-General said, when he was asked whether the Report would be published, "I think so; I think that is the usual course."
We were anxious to get information, not for Ireland, for Ireland knew who the malefactors were, but for England, where the shame lay of having uniformed officers of the Crown sweeping like a gang of marauders all over that city, tearing down its most beautiful buildings, setting a torch and burning them to the ground. This was England's shame, and we gave you an opportunity of showing if it were not true that England could be relieved of that shame, and what did the right hon. Gentleman say? He said, "I hope it will be possible to give the House the result of this Report before it rises next week." I watched the performance here. I was told on unquestioned authority that he had the Report in his pocket at the time. I charged him with that in the House. He denied it and became quite indignant, and I put it to any Member of the House who was present here when these questions and cross-questions took place across the floor of the House, I put it to any Member, of any party, wherever he may sit, or whatever his political con- 653 victions may be, whether he did not leave the House of Commons in the full conviction that that Report would be presented to the House at the earliest possible moment. We have not got that Report yet. Mark you what this means. They would not appoint an impartial tribunal of inquiry into the causes of these outrages, because they could not trust an impartial tribunal. They appointed a military tribunal, and everything that could possibly be said in favour of the military or of those associated with the military would naturally weigh with this tribunal to inquire into these outrages, and yet the Report of this partisan tribunal, the representatives, namely, of the men who committed these outrages in Cork, was not published.
General Strickland, I understand, whatever his faults may be, and however unfortunate the position he occupies, is, I am told, a highly honourable man, and the spirit of General Strickland, I must say, is reflected in the overwhelming mass of the rank and file of the Army in Ireland. Wherever I go, when I inquire into these matters, I am told by people, even by people who are very bitter against the whole military machine, that they have very little to complain about in regard to the conduct either of the officers or privates in what we know as the Army, as it is generally understood, and General Strickland, no doubt anxious for the honour of the army which he controls, tells the true story. What is the world to think of it when this gallant officer, whom they have entrusted with the most extraordinary powers of life and death in Minister, who is charged with the application of martial law over four or five counties—when this officer sits down, examines the cases, gathers evidence, makes his report and sends it to the Government, and the Government, with complete contempt, not only for public opinion, but for the House of Commons, a contempt only equalled in intensity by my own, treat this House of Commons with such complete contempt that they do not even dare to publish the report of their own military officer charged with considering one of the greatest crimes that was ever committed against a community? That is no concern of mine; that is your concern; but I say that if the English people tolerate these things, if Parliament acquiesces in them, if you have become such meek and humble agents of 654 this organised conspiracy against the truth you are told by your own officers, then the shame and the humiliation will rest upon you and not on Ireland, and beware of the day—and it is coming soon—when the burning of Irish towns, and the murdering of Irish citizens, and the destruction of Irish property may not become the political asset of the same party who are carrying on such war against Ireland.
What happened then? When I put the question to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary about the destruction of property in Cork, he said, "We are taking the Black and Tans out of Cork." He knew at the time it was the Black and Tans who did it. If the Black and Tans were not guilty of this crime, why were they taken out of Cork? At all events, the next day they had left, and I asked him where they had gone, and he said they went to West Cork. Now follow the sequence of events. On the following day, or two days afterwards, what occurred in West Cork? A resident magistrate was going along a country road near Dunmanway, and his motor car broke down. This will give you a fair idea, and hon. Members can form their own comments as to the danger to judicial functionaries in Ireland. Here was a resident magistrate, not a very popular functionary in the country, travelling in his motor car on a country road unprotected. His motor broke down, and an aged priest, full of years of service, wonderfully popular amongst his people, rich in their gratitude for all he had done to elevate them, recorded in the official Gazette of the Government as a man who had never taken any part in politics in his life, free from every sort of prejudice, this priest of 50 years' standing in his own church, came along and saw the motor car broken down. He offered sympathy and co-operation in trying to get the motor car started, and while he was standing there a young fellow came along on a bicycle, and the priest invited the young fellow to give a hand in helping with the motor car. Suddenly there came along the Black and Tans, and men who burned Cork. If they did not burn Cork, why did not the right hon. Gentleman tell us so? If they did not do it, why does he not deny it? It dare not be denied, because General Strickland's Re- 655 port would make a liar of every Minister who dared to deny it.
These gentlemen, with their hands reeking with the crimes of Cork, came along in charge of an officer—a gallant officer. These are the melodramatic embarrassments we get from the right hon. Gentleman. There were 12 of them in a motor lorry. The leader of them jumped off, went up to the resident magistrate, and threatened to shoot him. The resident magistrate explained who he was. This cadet might have been the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he knew so little about the country, and he did not know what a resident magistrate was. The resident magistrate, however, with that marvellous resource of his class, produced all his documents. Then there was an investigation, and somewhat slowly the leader of this band agreed to leave the resident magistrate as he was. Then, when he had gone along to complain to the other men in the motor lorry that this man would shoot him, he turned round and he found him pressing the old priest on to his knees, the priest with his hands up, I suppose, pleading for mercy. The priest was shot dead, and, a few minutes afterwards, the young fellow on the bicycle was also shot dead, and they said to the resident magistrate, the symbol of your law and authority in Ireland, protected by a patriotic priest, his motor-car being looked after by a young Irish Nationalist, "You get out of the way, or you will be shot, too." He was the only witness of this crime. He ran along the countryside, and, taking his instructions from the comrades of this gallant officer, he hid as long as he could, and when they left, he came back again and saw what had happened. To hear people talk, you would think that every man who wore a military uniform was sacrosanct. I will denounce malefactors, I care not what uniform they wear. When this resident magistrate came back, he found the body of this old priest had been lifted by these men, and flung over the hedge, and the body of the young peasant also flung over the hedge. He found out afterwards that these very men who were in the motor lorry had pursued him. If they had caught him they, would have done one of two things. They might have shot him dead. My own conclusion is—I think it is not unfair to say it, and I ask the House to mark this, because they will 656 really find an indication of how these things were done—what they would have done was this. They would have taken the resident magistrate back, put him against a wall and shot him, and then they would have said the next day, "We came along, we saw the resident magistrate shot by this priest and by this citizen, and we then shot the priest." [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Yes, men who are capable of doing what they did were capable of doing that. The Black and Tans, Cadets, or whatever they are called—we have such a multiplicity of military departments in Ireland that one cannot discern one from another—but this is really what happened. Cork was destroyed, and the Black and Tans were withdrawn. They go into West Cork, murder two innocent citizens, and attempt to murder a resident magistrate. There is not an expression of indignation for these transactions from the Chief Secretary. Of all the extraordinary appeals I ever heard made in my life, the appeal he made is the most extraordinary. He said, "Oh, do not say a word about it. Let towns be burned, let priests be murdered, let women be shot, let property be destroyed; create hell, but you Members of Parliament, do not say a word about it. England will not know-about it, and England will not be ashamed. This is the moment of our Imperial peril in Ireland; let us stand together in defence of the Empire."
The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was very violent in his reference to Judge Bodkin. He said it was no business of Judge Bodkin to address him. It was a crime for a common county-court judge to send a communication to him. But Judge Bodkin was not the only judge who gave his opinion either in the form of a speech from the Bench or a letter to the Chief Secretary. Judge, Wakely is a crusted Tory, a man who never made a speech in his life on the Bench or off the Bench; he had such a magnificent respect for the traditions of British taciturnity in the administration of justice. Yet Judge Wakely charged at Sligo the uniformed officers of the Crown with deliberately burning the property of the citizens in Sligo. The Recorder of Galway sent a report to the Chief Secretary reciting similar instances to that recited by Judge Bodkin. The Recorder of Derry—sacred and holy Derry!—if you do not believe 657 what occurs in Clare; if you do not believe judges in Sligo, perhaps hon. Gentlemen will believe that the Recorder of Derry will tell the truth—he also stated that the military were responsible for the destruction of property in Derry. Judge Brown, speaking at Carrick-on-Shannon, at the Quarter Sessions, in making his award in the Ballinamore Hall case, said the act was nothing more or less than a piece of brigandage, that he could scarcely believe that in any Christian land men could be guilty of such an act of savagery as this, that destruction should be done in a hall where an Irish class was being conducted, and people were engaged in innocent games. We were taunted by the Prime Minister with not knowing our own language. An Irish class is assembled in a hall in County Leitrim. The representatives of the Prime Minister's Government come along and burn down the hall, and the judge appointed by the Chief Secretary denounces it as one of the most indefensible acts of savagery he ever knew. Yet I am to come here and say, "You British politicians and British statesmen are the wisest men the world has ever seen."
I think we have lost all sense of proportion in regard to these matters. The Chief Secretary tells us there is a war on in Ireland. Very well, if there is a war on, let it be a war. Let us analyse the forces in conflict. According to the right hon. Gentleman, a very small proportion of the Irish people are engaged in this war—a number of peasant boys, badly armed, ill-equipped. Surely you ought to fight them fairly. What have you got on your side? You have got machine-guns, armoured cars, tanks, aeroplanes, you have got 100,000 soldiers, you have Black and Tans, you have everything that a great military power could have to fight them. They have invited themselves into this war; they have taken the responsibility on their shoulders, and you are fighting thorn. But why do you not fight them fairly? Let us be at least as honest to them as the present Prime Minister was to the Boers in South Africa when he was making protests against the infamy that was being carried on there. If the British Empire, with its armoured cars, its soldiers, its machine-guns, its tanks and aeroplanes, and all its scientific machinery of war, cannot beat what he says is a small band of Sinn Feiners, then by all means get out of the 658 country. What is the worth to them of this Empire? What are all these people sitting round the imperial table across the way to think of this? Not satisfied with all this power at your command, you wage a war upon innocent men, you make the lives of non-combatants impossible. It is for these people that I plead and whom I am here to defend. You raid convents, you raid churches, you raid schools, you murder old women, you burn property, you torture prisoners, and you create general hell, in addition to all the other things you have done by this war?
Could this country not fight cleanly; I believe that the masses of the people in this country, if they had to fight this out, would like it to be fought cleanly. What is to be said of armoured cars in the dead of night, breaking into the sanctuaries of women who have consecrated their lives to God? In some of those convents or institutions they are sworn never to speak to a stranger outside the walls, from the day they enter until they leave. One of these convents was entered the other day, the suggestion being that the nuns had broken their vows. These women have sacrificed life and all that life stands for; most of them are women of great wealth belonging to rich families, and have cast everything accounted much in the world behind them, and have gone into the convent and consecrated their lives to their God. Even there they are not safe. The forces of the Crown enter into these institutions and insult these exalted ladies; they insult the Catholic instinct of a race that above all honours and glories in the splendour of the character and the magnificence of their services. It is these things that hurt in Ireland. The brutality that is capable of going into these institutions and of committing these outrages against the secrecy and sanctity of these places is, with other things, cumulative; it will gather and will sweep away anything like good relationships between this country and Ireland during all the years that are to come. It will destroy the good feeling which all classes of men are anxious should be created between the peoples.
I take again the case of the man Murphy, who was shot for carrying a revolver. Nobody in Ireland knew that this man was even sentenced to death until they read that he had been executed. What was his crime? That he 659 carried a revolver. There are thousands of people in the North of Ireland who have been brought before the magistrates for carrying revolvers and have been fined 40s. and costs. This man, because his name was Murphy and he lived in Cork, was sentenced by a court-martial to death, and the death sentence was carried out. Let me take another case, and here in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House I will again protest against the absence of the Chief Secretary. Might I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that we asked for another day to discuss the Irish question. I think it is of sufficient interest to demand two days to discuss it. If it is not, I am sorry for this country. I know there are fully twenty hon. Members who are anxious to speak, but who will not have an opportunity of doing so. I complain, also, that the Chief Secretary for Ireland never replied to a single question put by my hon. and gallant Friend, and that he never dealt with a single one of the cases. I see the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Greenwood) has just come in. May I point out to him that I am compelled, against my will, to take up the time of hon. Members in repeating to him what I have already said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!" and "Oh, oh!"]
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am not allowed to repeat? Well, I will do it, anyway. What I stated was this—and considering that I am the only Irish Member who will probably address the House in this Debate— I think it is most disrespectful on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to leave the House.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I had to leave the House to attend to certain pressing business in connection with my work, and I came back just as soon as I possibly could.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I think it is more important to attend to us than to hold meetings with the representatives of the Black and Tans.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I cannot let that pass. I was dealing with the question of advising on the prerogative of mercy, involving the life of a man in Ireland, and that is more important even than the hon. Gentleman's speech.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am very glad that this merciful spirit has taken hold of the right hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh oh!"] The right hon. Gentleman could easily have got up in the House or have given an intimation to these benches that he was engaged in profoundly important business, instead of walking out of the House when the only representative of Ireland who rose in the House wanted to state the case of those he represents. That is my complaint; but it is not the only one. The right hon. Gentleman occupied the time of the House for fully an hour and a half. He could easily have been engaged in his work of mercy while he was talking nothing from the Front Bench. During the whole of that hour and 25 minutes' speech he never dealt with a single one of those impressive cases brought before him by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. If he had done so it would not have made very much difference what I said in the House. I would have been perfectly satisfied if he had replied to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but he did not do so, and I am here to emphasise these cases and to demand a reply, if not from him at least from his more skilful leader, who would be less melodramatic but would put a finer colour on the picture.
I come to the most important case and I want an answer to this. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give it, I hope some one on the Front Bench will do so. It is the case of those two young men, Kennedy and Murphy. Nobody would think that these were extremely important cases, but they are, and I could stand here for five hours—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
That is more than the right hon. Gentleman could do. I never knew him to stand once. I want to call the attention of the House to this case. I have called attention to the case of Canon Magner, and to the case of the Strickland Report. The right hon. Gentleman never said a word about the Strickland Report, and that is another instance of his contempt for the House of Commons. He never said a word about Canon Magner's case, nor a word about the comrades of the man who murdered this old priest and this innocent citizen, or of what is to be done to him. If any 661 of your uniformed police kill a civilian, he is a lunatic. If anyone of ours does any thing against you he is a rebel.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The last time you interrupted you came badly out of it. Both these cases were mentioned, and the right hon. Gentlman had one and a half hours to deal with them, but he did not once do so. He lectured the late Prime Minister, he lectured the Liberal party and the Labour party. They were all wrong, according to him. No doubt, if we judged the right hon. Gentleman by appearances we should think that every sentiment of his was a pontification, and that every act of his was an infallibility. I come to the case of these two men, Patrick Kennedy and James Murphy. They were arrested by the Crown Forces in Talbot Street, Dublin, at 9.30 p.m., on 9th February, and were taken to the military barracks. They were taken to the Castle for examination, and less than two hours afterwards, about 11 o'clock at night, they were found at Clonturk Park with tins over their heads, battened down. Kennedy was dead, and Murphy was suffering from wounds, and has since died. At the Castle they sedulously spread the story that these men left the Castle before the Curfew hour, and that some civilian murdered them. There is not a word of truth in that, and even the Chief Secretary will not attempt to make that statement here. The official statement issued by the Castle authorities stated these young men had been released at 9.45 p.m., to go home. The affidavit of a brother of one of these men is as follows:My brother, James Murphy, and I[...] lived together in lodgings at 22, Killarney Street, Dublin. My brother's age is 25. He was an assistant at Whiteside and Company, of South Great Georges Street, Dublin, grocers. I saw him last on Wednesday, the 9th instant, about 6.30, when after his day's work he came home for his evening meal. After he had tea he left me, saying that he was going to pass a few hours at the pictures or a game of billiards. I have since ascertained from the said James Murphy that he went to the Cinema Theatre in Talbot Street, and as he was leaving, about 9.30, there was a 'hold up' by the armed forces of the Crown in Talbot Street, when a number of young men were held up and searched. He, with others, was searched, and put by the soldiers on a motor lorry, and brought to Dublin Castle, where he was examined. Nothing of any kind of a compromising 662 character was found on him; he had no weapons and no documents of any kind. The examination was finished at about 10 o'clock, when the military authorities told him that he was released and might go home.As it was then after curfew hour, there was danger and difficulty for anybody going through the streets for fear of the military. Accordingly the officer-in-charge told some-soldiers to take my brother and Patrick Kennedy to their homes and leave them there, and to leave my brother at 22, Killarney Street, or as near to it as they could go. Instead of bringing my brother to his lodgings, the military drove the motor lorry by Drumcondra to Clonturk Park. They halted the motor lorry near a field, where there was unused and derelict ground. They took my brother and Patrick Kennedy out of the motor lorry, brought them into the field, put old tin cans over their heads, put them against the wall, and fired a number of shots at them. I believe Patrick Kennedy was killed almost instantaneously. My brother was hit through the tin can in his mouth on the left cheek, on the right cheek, and through the breast. Having done this the soldiers left them and went away. Shortly afterwards two members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, on their boat in the neighbourhood, hoard groans on the other side of the wall, which came from my brother. They got into the field and they found Kennedy dead and my brother still moaning and bleeding from his wounds. They brought my brother and Kennedy to the Mater Misericordiæ Hospital.At about 3.30 on Thursday the 10th of February, while I was in bed in my lodgings, I was awakened by the flashing in my eyes of an electric torch by an officer, who asked me where was my brother. I told him that I did not know, that he had not come home, and that I could not understand what had become of him. He then told me to get dressed. While I was dressing the officer searched every corner of our little room, but, of course, with no result. With the military party there were two sergeants of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, and one of them told me that my brother has been badly wounded and was in the Mater Hospital. They asked me would I wish to see my brother, when I said I was most anxious to see him at once. They took me away in the motor lorry to the Mater Misericordiæ Hospital. My brother was then conscious, and he told me the facts above stated. He assured me that when he was interrogated at the Castle his examination was perfectly satisfactory, and he was released and told he might go home, and it being after curfew hours, directions were given by an officer that he should be sent home on the motor lorry and he got on that vehicle with the Black and Tans auxiliary police, believing that he was going to be left at his lodgings, instead of which he was brought to Clonturk Park and fired at as above stated. When my brother made the statement to me he was perfectly conscious, and was quite capable of giving an exact and detailed account of what happened. My brother is a quiet and inoffensive man, 663 and took no part in politics whatsoever or in any kind of political movement. And he was not a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. My brother and I have been living together in lodgings since 1909, and during that entire period I am satisfied that he took no part whatsoever in any political movement or was in any way connected with the volunteers or the Irish Republican Army or mixed in political action in any way whatsoever. And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act, 1835.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Yes, his dying declaration. That really is a typical case of what is going on in Ireland. Hon. Members from the Labour party went across to Ireland. I myself am very little about Ireland at present. I confine myself mostly to the city of Belfast. But I meet people here and there, and the tales of horror they tell me and the experiences of some of them is enough to make one's hair stand on end. I wonder, when I hear them, whether I am living in a civilised country. I wonder whether we have any government at all in Ireland save a government of terrorism. I come to the House of Commons and I hear it said: "There are murders committed against the officers of the Crown, let us murder in return. There is destruction of property by certain politicians, let us burn the property down of men who are not politicians; let us establish order by the creation of disorder, let us render law sacrosanct by tearing the law to tatters." I am thinking now of something more than your mere ephemeral discussions here. The right hon. Gentleman in a humorous mood depicted me as Prime Minister of a united Ireland. He meant it as a joke, but if I were to treat it seriously—and I take this aspect of it seriously—I will say this: that when the right hon. Gentleman has gone the way of his predecessors, when he and his army of men who have tried to rule Ireland and to crush it have gone, we will live in Ireland. Ireland is our country. The glory of that race, her material welfare, her intellectual development, the fostering of her industry, the fashioning of her morale, and the creation of her entire destiny is a task that will be left in our hands. But what a legacy you are leaving upon our shoulders? See what a responsibility will have to be borne? That is what I am thinking of. I am not thinking of your momentary quarrel with the Sinn 664 Feiners, because I am quite sure you would be ready to make it up with them, if it were possible. Do not be too sweeping in your denunciations of that body, because you are, according to Press reports, willing to enter into conference with them. There may be a conference. There may be a solution. In the meantime the well-springs of our national life are being poisoned by all these things. Murders, arsons, pillage, insults, humiliations, floggings, desecrations of sanctuaries, touching the hearts and the tenderest feelings of the Catholic people —these are memories, these are legacies that you are leaving with those of us who have to live in that country and who have to play such part as may be in the future destiny of that country.
I need not go into other cases, though I could give dozens of them. Many members of the House desire to speak. I am especially anxious to give an opportunity to men like the Noble Lord who sits below, on the front Opposition bench (Lord Robert Cecil), and a number of Unionist and Tory Members. Let me say here—I may not have many opportunities of addressing this House—that the one bright spot in this House, in my judgment, during these controversies, has been the courage, patriotism, moral power of the young Unionist members of the House of Commons. They have thought of England's honour, not of their own material interest. They have thought of the England that once stood for freedom, for they wanted her to stand for it still. They have spoken here against all these things that bring degradation and shame to the British name, because they knew the future would honour and vindicate them.
It is perhaps one of the curious paradoxes of modern British life that the highest moral note has been sounded for freedom by Tories and by the Unionists in this House. Nothing has been more darkening or despairing than to find the voice of the great Nonconformist leaders silent. Once they were the powerful articulate spokesmen of the rights of crushed humanities in every land. Silent to-day! But a few voices still are heard. I heard sneers at the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister. Why should he be sneered at? I myself think that he made a mistake, a great and vital mistake, when he did not force the authoritative 665 expression of the will of the nation as expressed here, and force the rebels of that day—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
to recognise that order and law counted then as we are told it counts. If in the pursuance of a policy of establishing law and order, and the recognised statutory authority of this House, they had been guilty of the same crimes against the Ulstermen that you are guilty of against my Southern countrymen, I would have denounced them as violently as I denounce them now. However you may try to put down discontent and suppress public feeling, do you think that permanent and enduring injuries will not remain? The right hon. Gentleman, at all events in my judgment, when he speaks, gives expression to the moral conscience of this country. If he does not, if the moral conscience of this country is not to be aroused by what is going on in Ireland to-day, then this nation has got into the deadly grip of a coarse materialism, out of which it will take a century to raise it. If this were a mere arena for the interchange of passionate declamation, very little good would be done by discussion. I think something ought to be done. I think that these discussions should cease to be fruitless recriminations and controversies out of which nothing comes. Is it not possible even now that something should be done? I have almost given up hope. I, with the small body of my colleagues, have been dispirited and discouraged by the small encouragement we have been given. We were trying to end the conflict. We were Constitutionalists.
What did the eloquent apologist opposite (Mr. Inskip) say? I am not sure, but I think he is a lawyer. I must give him this credit; his speech was rather skilful. He was put up to defend. But he is not sufficiently skilful to defend the indefensible. What did he say? "If you only behave yourselves, you Sinn Feiners in Ireland, and turn to us in a constitutional fashion and tell us what you want, there is nothing we will not give you." Has the hon. and learned Gentleman been burying his head in the sand for the last quarter of a century? He may not know, but the Chief Secretary does, for the Chief Secretary has declared that he is an extreme Nationalist, and he would give Ireland even more than any- 666 body else, that we have made our demand for 25 years. We have faced opprobrium in this House. We have been hailed with ridicule. The present Lord Chancellor said he would rather be ruled by Patrick Ford or by the Sultan of Turkey than by John Redmond. John Redmond stood for the cause of peace between the nations. The Lord Chancellor is now making eloquent perorations in favour of Home Rule from the Seats of the Mighty in the House of Lords. Hon. Members need not bury their heads in the sands. We were here for 30 years pleading our cause. We discussed it constitutionally. Our cause was destroyed by the rebellion—bear that in mind. We bore it with patience. Why did confidence disappear? In the moment of your Imperial power, when you came here on that dark day in August and asked for sympathy, and asked the living world to rally around you, when you were face to face with the greatest peril the Empire ever had, we did not ask for terms. We offered our blood. It would have seemed to outrage the universal demand of all the great lovers of freedom and justice if we had put our claim against those fighting for humanity and freedom for the world. We did not do it. We were sold and betrayed. When it is suggested to Sinn Feiners that they should go about the matter in a constitutional fashion, what do they say, "That is a sign that they will betray us as they betrayed you." I will tell you what they want to-day. Your Governments in Ireland have not yet started to function. I hope the right hon. Gentleman would not phophesy. He said the other day, in an interview, he expected I would be the first Prime Minister of an Ulster Parliament.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD indicated dissent.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Yes, the right hon Gentleman did, but it was said more in anger than anything else. He wanted to put that infliction upon me as a return for the compliments I have paid him in this House. I wish he would not prophesy. I would tell him something. There will not be any Parliament in the 26 counties. I think you knew you were only wasting time. You can fill every polling booth with Black and Tans, and do anything you like, but people will return men who will not go into Parliament. You may set up your Ulster Par- 667 liament, but what is your solution? It is not a Parliament for the nation or for a province or half a province, but it is a Parliament for a section of the people within a section of a province. This is the worst solution of the Irish problem. It is not too late yet. I know the Sinn Feiners have a terrific task if they want to fight the British Empire. I know they are engaged in a fruitless task if they think they can beat the powers that you have against them, but you are engaged in an equally difficult task. There is something more than a mere material triumph, that is the triumph of high ideals. It does not mean the mere vindication of the thing you fight for, but it means a satisfaction of your conscience and the knowledge that in yourselves you are right.
In a nation like Ireland what moves them is the irresistible passion for freedom and peace. I believe in compromises, and I believe it would be better that there should be an honest and peaceful arrangement between your nation and ours by which we could in this condition of affairs in Ireland join with the great masses of the British people in a war, not of hatred, but a war of peace and goodwill. Go to the Sinn Feiners and invite them to meet you. If the Prime Minister were here I would say meet them without any reservations. The best way to win the sympathy of a foe is to meet him manfully and courageously, and recognise he has rights and claims as well as you. Some of us may make political capital out of it. I believe if we had been left alone in Ireland as a constitutional party we should have done everything Ireland desires; but we are not here to sneer at our countrymen, but to make the best of the conditions that prevail to-day. You meet the Sinn Fein representatives who are returned to Parliament, and try to devise some scheme by which all this trouble would be ended. I believe the Chief Secretary started with a common desire to do well, but he has found his task impossible, and if he had found it possible he would have been the first to find it so. He has found it impossible, and he will march along and another will come after him, and England will get her legacy, as Ireland will get a legacy of hate, woe, and destruction.
I wish to make another suggestion. This country really cannot divest itself of 668 responsibility for what is going on to-day. I know many hon. Members who are aware of the indignation of British people at the things that are being carried on in Ireland. I do not want to deliver a lecture to Liberals or Labour men in this House, and I am too much of a Home Ruler to force myself into the domestic concerns or the politics of this country. I would say to Liberals and Labour men what is the good of your protestations or drawing public attention to what is going on when every time there is a chance of ending these things you cut each other's throats? I am well aware of the difficulty, but I make an earnest appeal on behalf of Ireland. In this matter not only is Ireland's honour involved, but also her own safety and good name. I appeal to the Liberals and the Labour party to try and arrive at some modus vivendi by which really this thing can be put an end to at once.
I have always thought that the secret of England's greatness was her capacity for compromises. Can there not be an electoral and political compromise among men of all parties. Cannot the Irish question be solved by recognising the realities of the situation and grappling with them and trying to lower your pride. If this is not to be done then the responsibility rests with the Labour and the Liberal party. I do not like to interfere with the internal affairs of British politicians, but I think in this matter I am giving expression to the minds of great masses of people in this country, who hate this cut-throat policy, who see the cause of progress clogged on its way to triumph by this internecine strife. There is one way and that is to lift this blot from your fair name, to clear your honour, to establish your name and to once again raise the fame of England as a great nation of freedom. That is the high purpose for which public unity can be secured, and I trust by that unity our cause will be vindicated.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The speeches in this Debate, interesting and valuable as they have been, have not erred on the side of brevity. I will endeavour myself to be as short as I can. The speech to which we have just listened, and particularly the last quarter of an hour of it, was of great interest and of great value. Whether it is possible now in the present condition of Irish affairs, and with the present Government with all its 669 record behind it, for them to make peace, seems to be, I confess, with all respect to what the last speaker has said, exceedingly doubtful. Still I will never do anything to hamper any effort in that direction. If the Government think there is any way by agreement or conciliation of putting an end to this state of things, I for one will not take advantage of it I can assure my right hon. Friend in any way of criticism or of condemnation. But in my judgment, before we can hope for any settlement of the constitutional question you will have to restore peace and good government in Ireland. I do not think that is possible to expect men in the violent state of excitement in which they are in Ireland at present, to come to any lasting agreement or settlement. I venture very respectfully to press upon the Government that it is not of any assistance to suggest that all their critics are taking the side of the Sinn Feiners, and that is a monstrous charge which the right hon. Gentleman would not venture to make in private life against some of us. He knows it is unt[...]ue, and he has no right to say it.
What are the broad facts of the situation? In 1918 Ireland was disturbed and there was no serious crime. In January last I gather, as far as I have been able to collect statistics, that upwards of 100 of the police and military were either murdered or wounded, and that countless crimes of various kinds, such as burnings, lootings, and murders and shooting, have taken place in addition to these. I heard the Prime Minister say, on the first day of this Debate, that one great improvement was that the murderous attacks were no longer made in the towns, and the reason of that was that the police were chasing the murderers in the hills. Taking only one week, on the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh of February, there were murderous attacks on the police and soldiers in Dublin, and surely this morning's news does not justify any complacency as to the success of the Government policy. I am very sorry to observe in the speech of the hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Inskip), and in the speech of the Chief Secretary, a kind of doctrine that the number of murders in Ireland of the police and officials was, as it were, a justification for the action of the Government. It is nothing of the kind; in fact, it is a fresh charge against them. We do not only have grave- misgivings about their 670 methods or the methods of some of their officials in Ireland in themselves, but we feel confident that their present line of conduct, so far from restoring order, is making things worse every day.
Of course, when I say that I feel confident, perhaps I go too far, because one great difficulty we are in is that the Government will not allow us to have full, free, and impartial information. I read quantities of attacks in pamphlets put out by the Labour party, by the Irish Labour party, and by a number of other organisations, but no reply in detail is made by the Government, and no opportunity for investigating them is afforded. I do not want to go into an elaborate examination of what seems to me to have been the cause of the great deterioration, the immeasurable deterioration that has taken place in Ireland since 1918. Do not let us forget that the condition of Ireland is more serious, more disastrous and more shocking to British justice and British rule than it has been for 120 years at least. I hold that grave mistakes were made during 1919. It was perfectly plain dangers were threatened, and I cannot think that the measures that were then taken were adequate or successful. I do not, however, want to go into that. I want for a few minutes to deal with a much nearer time—last year.
By the spring of 1920 the situation had become exceedingly serious. The Prime Minister referred to the murder of the resident magistrate in a tramcar in Dublin. That was only one of several crimes, all atrocious and scandalous. There was the murder of a district inspector in Cork, the murder of a police sergeant while returning from or in chapel, and many others. The situation was exceedingly serious, and, as an Irishman said the other day, at that period nothing was safer than shooting the police. It was not, and many of us made urgent protests in this House and pressed on the Government the enormous importance of restoring order and protecting their servants. That is why people are exceedingly indignant when the Chief Secretary appears to charge his critics with sympathy with Sinn Fein. There was, as we all know, in May of last year a change in the Government of Ireland, a very large change, and it was obvious at that time—in June or July—that the situation had become exceedingly bad. One of the most serious symptoms was 671 the demoralisation of the Royal Irish Constabulary. I cannot doubt that in that serious state of things the Government, or some Committee of the Government, took a very grave decision. It has often been mentioned in this House and elsewhere and has never been denied. It was that in some form or another— in exactly what form I cannot say—they had determined that it was right to connive or wink at reprisals. If that was not the decision, it is very difficult to understand what did occur, because the Chief Secretary told us this afternoon it was very shortly after that that the reprisals began to become exceedingly frequent. Up till then they had been very rare and of a character quite different from the reprisals now charged. At that time we had the murder of soldiers at Fermoy and we were told how soldiers, bursting out of barracks in a great fury, did a lot of damage, their actions being evidently spontaneous. At any rate, at that time a change did take place in the Government of Ireland and there was no longer the same disapproval of reprisals. If that was so, it was an absolutely fatal decision. Whether the decision was come to or not, there is no doubt about the change that did take place and that reprisals did become a common thing. No one will doubt, and not even the Chief Secretary will deny, that from September or October reprisals became common, shocking and terrible.
I want to call the attention of the Government and of the country to the fact that that policy has been a complete failure. I do not agree with the Chief Secretary, although I admit my information may be defective—I do not agree with him when he says there is an improvement. I see none of it, I can tell him, in all the private information that reaches me almost without exception. That information does not come from Sinn Fein quarters. It is a fantastic idea that we get our information from Mr. Erskine Childers through communications with the Sinn Fein leaders. I should not think of communicating with them. Such information as I have, apart from the public Press, is obtained from friends resident in Ireland, and I can hear nothing of this improvement except from the Chief Secretary. It may exist, but I cannot trace any improvement in the figures. The outrages, as I have pointed 672 out, are just as bad or worse than ever. Murders are more frequent. They are not in the hills, as has been suggested, but they are in the cities as they always were. There is that shocking horrible crime committed yesterday when two men were taken out of a hospital in Cork and shot. Could anything be worse than that as a fruit of the Government of the British Empire in one of its Dependencies? It may be that some of the overt acts committed by Sinn Fein have become less marked. They no longer hold their courts. You have defeated the railway strike. But these are comparatively small matters. It is murder that matters. It is the loss of life that matters.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Certainly, on either side. It is when I read these horrible stories on both sides that I feel it my duty as a Member of Parliament to protest. The Chief Secretary said that there were only isolated groups of murderers wandering about Ireland. I think he is entirely wrong. It is one of the most tragic parts of the Irish situation, as I hear it and as many others hear it, that the Moderates are going over to the Extremists. I was talking only the other day with a Gentleman—I prefer to give no names—who told me—and he was a Moderate of the most pronounced kind who denounced Sinn Fein with all the full-blooded eloquence of the Chief Secretary—that it was a matter of profound regret that so many of his Moderate friends were going over and joining the Extremists.
When we come to reprisals. I cannot doubt that they have grown in numbers and in atrocity. I have read all these accounts, accounts which I agree are suspect because they are supplied by strong critics of the Government, and therefore should be read with caution, but they ought not to be altogether disregarded; they are facts which ought to be considered. The impression left on my mind, even making such allowance as I can, is that there are widespread acts of violence being committed by a certain section of the police, Black and Tans or Auxiliary. I cannot really disbelieve the almost universal testimony that reaches me of the looting—of the fact that in a large number of cases when the forces go into the houses to search they loot them and take anything that they can. I have heard so many accounts 673 from such respectable people that really one cannot doubt them. Then we have the Cork verdict, apparently admitted. It is a shocking thing—enough to make any Englishman blush. Supposing such a charge had been made in respect of one of our Dependencies, supposing it had been alleged that the police force, say, at Ceylon, or anywhere else, had gone into one of the principal towns there and had burnt some of the main buildings and done damage to the amount of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and supposing that matter had been mentioned in this House. The Minister in charge would have risen at once and said, "We are going to institute a public inquiry. We have sent out a distinguished judge," as they did in the case of the Hunter Commission, "and the House may rely upon it we shall leave no stone unturned to have the whole thing thoroughly sifted and the findings of the Commission, and the evidence upon which they are based, will be presented to this House." But no such thing was done here. On the contrary, we had this inquiry under the authority of General Strickland, and I understand no one was allowed to attend the inquiry on behalf of those who suffered loss; an application by a solicitor to be allowed to attend and cross-examine was rejected. The evidence was taken with extreme rapidity, and that in itself was an unsatisfactory feature, as far as thoroughness is concerned, and now the Report is refused to us. Really, if under these circumstances exaggerated charges are made against the Irish Government the Irish Government have themselves, and themselves alone, to blame.
I want to say a word about the reprisals. I have come across one or two incidents. I do not want to pile up the agony, but I must refer to one or two. In the course of the Cork verdict it is alleged that two men, named Delaney, were pulled out of bed and shot there and then in their room in the presence of their sister. It cannot be proved that it was done by the forces of the Crown, but that is the allegation. Then there is the case of Canon Magner. I do not think the fact that a mad officer shot a priest is in itself a matter of grave criticism on the Government. But what is much more shocking is that the body of auxiliary police present did nothing to interfere with the officer. I think the hon. Member who last spoke was misinformed in the account he gave. 674 Crowley was shot first, and after he had been shot the priest was forced on his kness and for some minutes this lunatic, if he was a lunatic, was threatening him with a pistol. During all that time the resident magistrate, Mr. Brady, was appealing to the police in the lorry to save the priest from being murdered. But they would do nothing. That is not only a shocking thing in itself but it throws a lurid light on the attitude of the Force. I do not need to read over again Judge Bodkin's Report, but I desire very respectfully to enter my protest against the Chief Secretary's methods of dealing with it. Here you have a judge discharging an extremely difficult duty and discharging it, as far as I can see, most admirably. He finds when he begins his investigation that the Crown forces are likely to be involved and accused. He thereupon gave notice to the military authorities and to the police authorities—surely the right thing to do, and not to be sneered at by the Chief Secretary. The military authorities sent a solicitor to represent them. The police authorities declined to do so. In the presence of the solicitor representing the military the cases were heard; the report is available, and a very shocking state of affairs is disclosed, namely, three or four brutal murders and burnings—I quite agree very likely under serious provocation, but that does not make the thing any better really, and I wish the Chief Secretary would disabuse his mind of that. It may make us very lenient in criticising the officers who did it, but it is a shocking state of things when, instead of the ordinary process of law the forces of the Crown are engaged in lawless violence of that kind. I cannot tell the House how serious I think it is. It seems to me far more serious than the Government have ever acknowledged. It is not only a very foolish plan. Reprisals are certain to hit the innocent almost as often as they hit the guilty. It is inevitable. What can you expect? You put into the hands of men, without any of the ordinary guarantees of justice, the power of life and death. That is what it comes to. They shoot without any information or with some wretched information. As often as not it is inevitable they will shoot the wrong person. You destroy the whole deterrent effect. You say to the Irish, "It does not matter whether you are innocent or 675 guilty, we shall shoot you if we happen to have a fancy to do so." That is a direct encouragement to crime, and always has proved so.
The experience of the world shows it is vital not only for conscience but for mere prudence to take care you only punish the guilty, and our law, the greatest system of law and order in the world, has shown no characteristic greater than the enormous precaution it erects around the innocent man to prevent him being brought into peril. This is lawlessness; reprisals are the very negation of law. The whole point of law is it shall be ascertained, fixed beforehand, so that you can know what you can do and what you cannot do. Reprisals are arbitrary, violent, and utterly unjust. Depend upon it, it is a most serious thing, going far beyond the actual Irish case, as I shall venture to say a word in a moment, likely to bring the utmost danger and disaster to the Empire. Since I have been sitting in the House a letter has been put into my hand which I think it is worth while to say a word about. The Chief Secretary spoke highly of some of the Irish bishops. I do not know whether he included in his commendation Cardinal Logue, but as far as I remember Cardinal Logue has recently, at any rate, denounced crime with great energy.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I daresay he has, but I know he has recently. Here is a letter written by the Cardinal to an English bishop, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Southwark. I will not read the whole of it; I will only read the important part. He says this:With the assistance of the priests I have done my best to keep things quiet in this diocese. Hitherto we have had comparative peace; but the forces of the Crown seem determined that we shall suffer like the rest.There is a camp of Black and Tans at Gormanstown, on the borders of the diocese; and while that camp remains we may give up all hopes of peace or safety. It seems to be a nest of bandits and homicides.In the month of December they visited Ardee, a country town which was and is perfectly peaceful. As far as I could ascertain there was not a murder in that whole district for a hundred years. Those guardians of the peace invaded the house of the principal merchant, and carried away a quantity of goods to the amount of £150.676Their next visit to Ardee was made under their officers in lorries, some of the men having their faces blackened. They dragged two poor young men out of bed, in the email hours of the morning, and shot them dead. Othere would have met the same fate, but fortunately took the alarm in time and were absent when sought for. Their last exploit in Ardee was to seize the whole stock-in-trade of two young people, a brother and sister, and load it on their lorries. These young people kept a draper's shop, and there was nothing left to them, hardly a reel of thread. Their loss amounted to £1,500 or £2,000, and now they are ruined.The people about Drogheda and the surrounding country will soon be reduced to beggary. Their houses are raided day and night on pretext of a search, and money, valuables, and anything that can be carried away, seized at the point of the revolver. As an instance, one man who was raided and lost heavily some time since, has just lost £400 in a second raid. Those who sell cattle or farm produce have not time to put the money in the bank for safety before it is seized upon. The poor people are afraid to complain lest their houses should be burned down.Hitherto it is only robbery in the Drogheda district. Now Woodshed has commenced. A few nights since two young men, fathers of families, were taken from their beds at dead of night, brought to a lonely place by armed men, and were found, shot dead there next morning.There is not even the excuse of reprisals for this action. There was no crime in Drogheda and the district, except the robbery to which I have referred. You may judge, my dear Lord, how vain it is to counsel peace or secure a spirit of peace and charity in such surroundings.That is the second thing to which I venture to call the attention of the Government. Murders of police have not diminished; they have rather increased. Reprisals have steadily grown worse, both in numbers and atrocity, and there is a suspension of all the guarantees of freedom. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to reprove my noble Friend because he recommended civil courts. He said it was impossible to have civil courts, because the civil judges would be shot. I do not know it is much better that military judges should be shot than the civil judges. But is it really reduced to that, that you cannot even protect your civil judges? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman leads the House to understand, that the condition of Ireland is so terrible that you cannot even protect the civil judges who are engaged in carrying; out your system of justice? He said a great deal about the difficulty of getting witnesses, to the effect that witnesses 677 were murdered. That applies equally to military or civil courts. Personally I am not convinced by the right hon. Gentleman. I am certain that the advantage of employing civil rather than military justice would be immense, and I am confident it would have not only a desirable effect in Ireland, but, what is quite as important, a very reassuring effect on public opinion in this country.
What about open justice? Why is it necessary to have this concealment? We have never had any sufficient explanation of that. Why should not all military courts sit openly? He said they do so in capital crimes. Why not in all crimes. Why should the inquiry into the Cork burnings be secret? I cannot understand why this should be. There is only one possible explanation: the Government are afraid of something coming out, and are afraid of the consequences, not only to themselves, but to what they believe to be the maintenance of law. There is another great disadvantage. It gives rise to the most terrible rumours, rumours which I earnestly hope are untrue. For instance, I was told the other day, it may be quite untrue, but I was told on good authority, that in a town in the south a party of the Auxiliaries came in. They seized seven of the principal inhabitants. This was just shortly before Christmas. They threw them into the river and drowned them. That is what I am told, and if it is untrue then it only shows how shockingly unwise the policy of concealment of the Government is. If they carried on their operations openly—
§ Lord R. CECIL
There would have been an inquiry instantly. Everybody would have known that such a thing could not take place, for an open inquiry would have been held and it would not be believed for a moment. Because everything is hidden, they do not know what to believe. I hear the Attorney-General suggesting the question might have been asked here.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Denis Henry)
We have been masked.
§ Lord R. CECIL
What reply should we have got? You remember we asked about creameries, and we were told there was not a particle of evidence that the 678 forces of the Crown were engaged, whereas as a matter of fact there was evidence of an overwhelming character in almost every case. We were told the same thing about Cork, and I have no doubt there are other instances. I do venture to appeal to the Government even now to throw aside this passion for concealment. Let us have a full searching inquiry into these things. It is the only thing which can possibly restore confidence in this country. Why not appoint a really strong commission of three persons of undoubted reputation—an English judge, an English general, and a Member this House? [HON. MEMBERS: "They would be shot!"] I am told they would be shot. I do not believe it. But I am sure you would not have the least difficulty in finding volunteers to carry out that duty. That would be the first step. Let us know what the real truth is—a complete account of what has happened. My hon. Friend behind me (Captain W. Benn) made a speech full of a number of statements, but even he only dealt with one-tenth or one-hundredth of the cases which are constantly being suggested or alleged. The hon. Member for the Falls Division added one or two. I have added one or two myself. But all this is merely touching the fringe of the question. We want to know what is going on. We must have a thorough searching inquiry.
I confess I look with real anxiety on the present position. I was brought up, as the House knows, as a Conservative, and, as far as I know, I am a Conservatime still; I hope so. And I remember when I was young that Conservatives attached great importance to the reputation and prestige of this country abroad. There was nothing to which they attached greater. In spite of what the Chief Secretary said, I cannot but believe that our position and influence abroad are suffering. He said that, if it is suffering, it is because of the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley. That, really, is an entire illusion. Our foreign critics will probably under-rate the value, if I may say so without disrespect, even of the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman. What they will be impressed by are the reports that reach them from their own correspondents and other sources of that kind. It is what they believe to be the facts that will influence them, not what one politician may say about another. I earnestly 679 appeal to my old Conservative Friends to consider whether they are wise in encouraging the Government in this course. I know that they think that any attack on the Government is really an attack on the forces of order, but we buy support for the Government dearly if we ruin British influence abroad. Another thing in which we used to believe was the Empire. I am confident that the British Empire stands only on the basis of justice and equity and freedom. Anything that attacks justice, equity and freedom attacks the whole basis on which the British Empire stands. That is really the issue in this matter, for it is the supremacy of the law that is the guarantee of freedom. That is what all the lovers of freedom in our history have fought for. It was the real controversy which produced the great civil war; it was the failure of Cromwell to establish a really legal system that brought his government to the ground. It was what drove James II from the throne; it was the great weapon that Pitt used against Fox in their celebrated controversy; and even at the present day, if the Labour party will allow me to say so, their threats of direct action, and that they will put their organisation above the law, have done them, and rightly so, infinite disservice in the opinion of their fellow-countrymen. There is nothing more valuable than the supremacy of the law, which, as this country has taught the world, is the great secret of freedom. It is worth anything to preserve that reputation, and reprisals are the very negation of the supremacy of the law. They are a direct blow at the most valuable of all our institutions. I earnestly appeal to the Government to abandon the whole policy definitely—not by tepid disapproval, but by a real effort, and, as their first step in that effort, by instituting a thorough inquiry, so that we may know exactly where we stand. Let me conclude with a phrase of Abraham Lincoln: "It is for us to set a great example, and not to follow a wicked one."
§ Mr. G. BARNES
This Debate has followed the lines which are familiar in Irish Debates. It opened with an indictment of the Government, consisting practically of a catalogue of crimes said to have been committed by the forces of the Crown. It was followed by an appeal from the Unionist point of view for good will, and 680 then we had the speech of the Chief Secretary, which practically amounted to telling the Opposition, "You're another." It contained a further catalogue of crimes committed, as was said, by the Sinn Feiners. Then we had the usual denunciation by the hon. Member for the Falls Division of Belfast of the system of Irish government; and now we have had the criticism of the Government by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin, who has put forward a plea, which I should like heartily to support, for greater publicity and for the upholding of the civil arm. Might I say, with all due deference to the other speakers, that the outstanding speech of the day, to my mind, has been that of the hon. Member for Falls? The moving appeal with which he concluded finds a response, at all events, in my heart and conscience, and I want to say a few words in support of his plea that we should end anarchy by getting together in some way and discussing the matter. I rise with reluctance, because I am fearful of saying anything which would even tend to make anyone believe that I was saying a single word to encourage Sinn Fein anarchy. I have, however, watched events for the last few months with growing misgiving, and I have come, or am rapidly coming, to the conclusion that what we have to do is in some way or another to turn over a new leaf by means of negotiation.
A year or two ago I was in favour of the application of stern administration of the law in Ireland. I had in my mind what had taken place during the War. My mind went back, perhaps in a subconscious way, to the rebellion of 1916, when we were in the throes of the great War. I also had in mind what took place in the spring of 1918, when, I suppose, we were going through the most terrible time that we experienced during the whole of the period from 1914 to 1918. I remember the offer that was then made to the Irish, and I know that it was an honest offer, because I was inside at the time. In effect it was this: "We will give you Home Rule if you will take your part with us in getting Home Rule for other people in other lands." They did not accept that offer. Instead of that, they went across to Ireland—I am speaking now of Members of this House —and fomented trouble there. Then I had in mind the murders that have taken place in more recent times, some of them 681 standing out in my mind with great distinctness, as, for instance, the murder of a man in a chapel, the murder of another man in the presence of his wife, and several others. I had all this in mind when, a year or two ago, it was decided that the law should be sternly administered, that is to say, that it was necessary, and I agreed, to end terrorism. Has not the time now come when we ought to consider whether that has been a success? It seems to me to have been a self-evident failure. Look at the report, to which reference has already been made, which appeared in the newspapers only this morning. The two murders reported this morning are amongst the most cruel and dastardly murders that have yet taken place. In one case a man was lying sick in bed—I believe unconscious— and the attendants in the hospital were actually compelled to convey him outside on a stretcher, when he was deliberately murdered. His murderers—in plain clothes, I believe—walked off with impunity. In the second case, which is almost as bad, the man was compelled to get up and dress himself, and was marched out to the back of the Union yard and there shot.
I admit that there are several instances showing that there is some improvement. For instance, I suppose that the Sinn Fein courts do not operate now. They had superseded the ordinary courts a few months ago, and they are now-suppressed. I suppose too, that murder, in spite of these terrible cases reported this morning, is less frequent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I know that it has been. What, to my mind, is perhaps the greatest achievement, is the fact that the railwaymen are now back at work carrying arms and soldiers and anything that is to be carried. May I say, by way of having a dig at my old colleagues opposite, that that might have been done long ago if they had taken their courage in both hands and told the men to go back to their work like sensible men six or eight months ago. These are all instances in which it is fair to admit that the Government have had some success. Sinn Fein has been driven to distraction and almost to desperation. But at what cost? That is the point in my mind. The time has come to consider that cost, and also to consider what are the chances of peace. What is the cost? I do not mean the cost in loss of life. The figures have 682 been given to-day. That is all bad, but it is not the worst of the cost. It seems to me that the real cost is that we are losing our prestige. Are we really vindicating the law by what has been going on during the last few months? Not at all, because it seems to me that the law can only be vindicated in a lawful and disciplined manner, and we are not doing it. We are no longer administering the law in that way. On the contrary, I think the right hon. Gentleman admitted that we have lost control of our own forces. For a long time I was slow to believe it. I heard the cheery optimism of my right hon. Friend when he told us that by a certain time peace would be fully established, and I have been looking for peace for a long time, but I see no apparent early coming of it so far. In fact the Prime Minister admitted the other day, as you have admitted to-day yourselves, that you have practically lost control of the Forces of the Crown. Therefore, what measure of success we have had in putting down crime is simply by involuntary and unauthorised reprisals, which I am afraid have caused uneasiness, not only in our own country, but in other countries as well.
Let us take the second question, How long is it going to last? I have been listening to the optimistic predictions of my right hon. Friend for a long time as to when he is going to have peace. I think peace was promised us by Easter. It only wants about a month to Easter now, but I cannot even find it coming. So far we have only got war. I remember a very distinguished Member of this House coming out to Geneva last November. One of the first questions I asked him was, How were things going on in Ireland? Are we getting the best of the disorder? He said, "Yes, we are getting over it nicely In a month or two's time things will be all right." He came on 21st November, and the conversation took place the next morning. On that same day those 14 or 15 officers were done to death in Dublin in their beds, and there have been outrages almost as bad since that time. The outstanding fact to my mind is that the Sinn Fein war and the counter war by the Government have signally and absolutely failed to advance the cause of self-government on the one hand or to vindicate the law on the other. That is my conclusion. What are we going to do in the way of a remedy? 683 What is the way out of it? If I thought Sinn Fein was directly responsible for such murders as we read of in the newspapers this morning, if I thought Sinn Fein was directly responsible for the murder of inoffensive civilians, I would not here plead for any negotiations at all. I believe the larger part of the murders which are now taking place is because the Sinn Feiners brought a monster into being that they cannot control, just exactly as the Government by putting Black and Tans into Ireland have also put a monster into that country that they cannot control.
But is it not time that something was done in the way of bringing the two sides together—not murderers, but the responsible people on both sides, on the one hand those who can speak for the moral counsels of this country, and on the other side those who could speak for responsible Sinn Fein? What stands [...] the way? I think it is that each side has unnecessarily hampered itself with unnecessary conditions. So far as I can gather, the Prime Minister has said, "We will not meet Sinn Fein until Sinn Fein surrenders its arms and surrenders its claims," and on the other side the Sinn Feiners say, "We will not talk except upon the basis of independence." I should like to see the two sides come together without any conditions at all. What good are these conditions after all? Supposing the Government and the Sinn Fein representatives came together? Would independence be a serious proposition? Would the Irish Republic ever come forword as a serious proposition to serious-minded men? Not at all. Would there be any claim for an Irish Army or Navy or an Irish Republic? Not at all. What good is an Irish Army or Navy to Ireland? If they had both to-morrow they would be no good except for internal order and an Irish Republic, if it came to-morrow, would still be dependent upon this country, as Ireland must necessarily be dependent on this country. Therefore from all the facts of the situation Ireland must remain a part of the strategic whole of the United Kingdom, and for that reason I should like to see some talk arranged without conditions, except of course the one great condition of ceasing to fight. What can be done in that direction? I do not expect the Government is going to climb down and say, "We want 684 to meet you, please come and meet us." But something ought to be done to bring the two sides together, and it seems to me that the person or body that has sufficient moral authority to begin talk of that sort would be doing the best service to Ireland and the best service that could be done to the Empire. I hope that may be arranged somehow or other, and that the Government and the other side will cease making these charges and countercharges, which lead nowhere, but will try to get together and effect a settlement of this ancient controversy.
§ Mr. A. HENDERSON
I rise for the purpose of putting before the House the position which the Labour party proposes to take up with regard to this Amendment. We should have preferred that the discussion had taken place upon an Amendment worded similarly to that which we have on the Paper, regretting that, "in view of the present deplorable condition of affairs in Ireland, there is no expressed intention on the part of the Government to make a real effort towards reconciliation and settlement by meeting in conference the elected representatives of the Irish people, and exploring with an open mind every possible avenue to peace." This raises the question of peace through negotiations. We are very strongly favourable to that course being followed. In fact, we hoped, when we were visiting Ireland a few weeks ago with the Commission, that we were in a very fair way of having some definite negotiations opened on these lines, which we believe would have led to a satisfactory solution of the problem. We recognise that, after so many years of strife, it becomes quite easy for one side to make recriminations against the other. We also realise that much time can be spent in this House, especially if we keep in mind the British treatment of the Irish problem, in seeking to apportion blame and responsibility. Grievances can be so magnified and hatred so intensified that the road to peaceful endeavour may become entirely blocked. We further realise that, after more blood has been spilt and more property has been destroyed, some form of negotiation must at last be entered upon. I feel I am quite safe in expressing the view that there must be amongst all sections of the House, especially having regard to the appalling conditions in Ire- 685 land, a general desire to see some negotiations opened. I think all sections of the House would have welcomed an assurance in the Gracious Speech from the Throne that the Government were determined to explore every possible avenue of peace.
The Amendment now under consideration declares that the policy and practice of the Government have failed to secure the repression of organised outrage. All who are familiar with the facts of the case must admit that this is the correct view. For many months we have been confronted with this fact that outrages and reprisals have produced further reprisals and more outrages. Things are by no means improving. The facts easily show that they have gone from bad to worse during the last few months. In this connection I should like to say a few words about the Report of the Labour Commission which visited Ireland in December last. The Chief Secretary seemed to find it quite easy to dismiss that Report almost with a wave of the hand. I claim that that Report merits much more serious consideration than it appears to have received from the Chief Secretary. It can be regarded as containing a very serious indictment of British policy and administration, and I claim for it that we have endeavoured to present a true picture. We have tried to state the position as we found it. It is neither highly coloured nor extravagant in its language. Some of its critics, those who are favourable to an entire change of policy in Ireland, claim that it has erred altogether on the side of moderation. The Chief Secretary made, what I thought, a very unworthy sneer and tried to make a little capital out of a few words that he lifted from the Report. It was dealing with the reference to the armed forces in Ireland. I will read the paragraph that he failed to read and out of which he merely took some words. That paragraph, and it is consistent with the whole Report, the language is moderate, was an effort on our part to state actually what we believed to be the facts:Some 50,000 soldiers are at present quartered in Ireland. They are in the main young and inexperienced. Few of them have had the training given to the recruit in prewar days before joining a service unit. The majority of the junior officers are equally ignorant of their professional duties; many in infantry battalions have not passed through the Royal Military College at S[...]dhurst.686 These are the words which the right hon. Gentleman quoted. He did not go on and state the following:Under the conditions existing in Ireland, up to the visit of the Commission, these lads"—They are lads, and I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to deny that they are mere lads in many cases, mere boys just away from school:were continually being called upon to support the police against the civil population, a task which has always been distasteful to regular soldiers, and should be confided only to highly disciplined troops.Is there a Member of this House who does not say that that is a very correct demand to make, namely, that the work that is being done to-day all over Ireland, which is difficult and dangerous work, should be carried out only by the most disciplined troops that this country has at its disposal. I was amazed to find that the right hon. Gentleman tried to make capital by merely quoting from half a long paragraph in the way he did. He also made another remark in regard to our visit to Ireland. He reminded the House that we had the honour to be received by himself at his office, surrounded by all the heads, military and civil, that he could bring together. We appreciated his interest in the visit of the Commission. Before the Commission went, and during the time it was there, he did not think it was quite the hopeless crowd that he seemed to suggest to the House this afternoon. At any rate, we were invited by him to go to the Castle, and we accepted the invitation, and I must take exception, and other members of the Commission also take exception, to his statement that we were offered all information but that we did not ask for any. I want to put before him two facts. In the first place, we called his attention to the destruction of the Bandon hosiery factories, and he admitted that they could not justify it. Was that the impression he left upon the House to-day? He created the impression that we went there and practically walked away without asking any questions or asking for any information whatever. I object to the Chief Secretary dealing with the Commission in that way.
We published this Report for what it was worth. We endeavoured to give it the fullest publicity possible. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have not yet seen fit to publish the Report 687 made by General Strickland which he practically promised to issue, and I think that it ill becomes him to try to slur away the work of the Commission and to suggest that the only motive—and I was rather surprised he made the suggestion— of the Commission and the Party that sent the Commission was to try to make political capital out of the visit against the Government. I do not know how he dare make that suggestion when he knew that two members of the Commission were diverted entirely away from the original purpose and gave the whole of their time to assist the Government in trying to find a method whereby they could open up negotiations and that we did it with the full knowledge of the Prime Minister and of the Chief Secretary, and then we have the House misled in the way in which it was misled this afternoon. At any rate that Report is an indictment to the Government and a challenge to them, and I am glad to have this opportunity of saying in the presence of the Chief Secretary that it exposes clearly the inaccuracy and the inadequacy of much of the information that he has been the instrument of presenting to this House of the actual state of affairs going on in that country of which he is to some extent the head at this moment.
I want to claim for our report further that we did not confine our attention to the outrages on one side, as the Chief Secretary this afternoon seemed to suggest. He seemed to lump us all together. We have only got to challenge his policy since he took up the duties of his very difficult position and then we are all put down as friends of the enemy, and it is said we look at what only is being done by his agents and ignore entirely the outrages on the other side. We have from the very beginning, and I think that he will admit it, in this House refused to defend or condone the outrages committed in the name of the Sinn Fein movement. We have consistently deplored them and abhorred them, and we will continue to do so so long as these outrages are practised, no matter how sacred may be the cause or the fight for freedom in which those people may be engaged. But our condemnation of the outrages conducted by Sinn Fein is one thing and our attitude towards the deliberate reprisals practised by the agents of the Crown and sanctioned if not altogether encouraged by 688 the Chief Secretary and other responsible Members of the Government is another thing. Our investigations show clearly that the Government cannot now control effectively many of its own agents, and we believe that this is due very largely to the encouragement and condonation that have been given to reprisals by the heads of the Government. Our inquiries also prove that some of the agents of the Crown have been guilty of what may clearly be defined as official murder, incendiarism, theft and brutality.
We have made these charges in our Report, and if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to do now what he was not prepared to do in October, namely, to give us a searching and impartial investigation into the charges that we made, we are prepared to bring all witnesses, provided that their interests can be safeguarded, upon whom we based our Report, before any such inquiry, because we are exceedingly anxious to have this thing probed to the very bottom. Terror and outrage on the part of the members of the forces of the Crown in Ireland are believed, in Ireland, to be condoned and defended and justified by the authorities at the Castle. At any rate, we found an atmosphere of general terrorism and a policy of stern and calculated brutality and repression which is altogether indefensible. Therefore I sum up my reference to the Report by saying we stand by our Report, and we shall continue to do so until its findings are disproved by an independent judicial inquiry.
I must join with those who have endeavoured to make out the claim that the situation in Ireland is becoming gradually worse, and I want to remind the Chief Secretary of the position which he took up when we raised this question in the Debate on the 20th October. On the 19th of October, in reply to a question, he said:The means available to the Government for protecting all servants of the Crown in the discharge of their duties, and for bringing to justice those who commit or connive at outrages, are steadily improving. The forces of the Crown are all effectively grappling with the organised, paid and brutal campaign of murder in Ireland.The following day, in debate, he made a very definite statement indeed, that seems to me to be very well worth bringing to his mind. He said: 689I can assure the House that things are growing better. The statistics for the week ended the 16th instant show a great decline in the total number of crimes throughout the country, and furnish satisfactory evidence that the number of persons actually engaged in lawlessness has considerably decreased. I believe in a few months there will be an end of the murderous campaign in Ireland.Need I remind the House of what are the actual facts? The right hon. Gentleman gave an answer to a question since this Session began, and I would ask the House to compare his two answers. On 19th October he said, "that since 1st January, 1920, 100 police and 18 military had been killed," an average of 12 of the Crown forces killed per month. In an answer given here on the 17th inst. the Chief Secretary announced that for the two months December, 1920, and January, 1921, there were 3 military and 17 police killed. That is 40 of the Crown forces, or an average of 20 a month. This, I think, does not show that matters are improving, but I want to take it further to show how completely the Government's singular methods have failed, and this may be judged from a page of the weekly "Freeman" of Saturday, 12th February, 1921. I will read to the House headings which appeared on one page of that journal on the date mentioned—
- A pitched battle.
- Biggest engagement since rising of 1916.
- Six civilians killed, 20 wounded.
- Mine explodes.
- Desperate attack on Crown forces in County Longford.
- Terrible reprisals.
- Eleven killed.
- R.I.C. ambushed in County Limerick.
- Police car upset.
- Balbriggan: Auxiliary policeman shot in public house; escape in nightshirt.
- Shot at the counter.
- Corporal killed in City public house.
- Two Cork lads shot; found lying wounded on Patrick's Quay.
- Father and son shot.
- Gallant defence against armed raiders.
- Military operations; Son shot dead; father's house previously burned.
- Ambushers surprised.
- Farmer's son shot dead.
- Corporal wounded.
- Fire and sword.
- Terrible military reprisals in the South. Shot whilst dining.
- Auxiliary officer fired at in City restaurant.
- Warren Point ambush; 'Special' shot dead, and two others injured.
- Boy of 14 shot dead; two other boys dangerously wounded.
- Terror of the torch; burning down homestead in Tipperary.
- Still another victim: Aged Cork farmer dies from wounds.
- Officer attacked by three armed ci
- Mysterious raid: Armed civilians at Amiens Street Goods Yard.
- Killed at 21: Crown forces discovery in graveyard.
- Conflicts in Carsonia.
- Patrol ambushed.
- Barracks set on fire.
- Affray in Kenmare.
- Midnight terrorism; boys savagely beaten by armed raiders."
§ Is that an improving state of affairs? I remember that at the close of the Debate on the vote of censure in October last, I told the right hon. Gentleman that this Session we would ask him when his promise that he was going to destroy the murder gang and, as it were, get the whole thing under his control would be fulfilled. I ask him that question now. Is the long list I have quoted evidence of improvement? I will take his own statistics as recently published. The outrage statistics to 5th February, as issued in Dublin, give these figures: Court houses destroyed, 70; police barracks destroyed, 535; police barracks damaged, 203; raids for arms, 3,032; policemen killed, 224; policeman wounded, 536; soldiers killed, 57; soldiers wounded, 143. The increase in the number of persons engaged in lawlessness seems to have come mostly from those areas which are under martial law. I felt very strongly the imposition of martial law, because my right hon. Friend (Mr. Adamson) and I returned from Ireland before the inquiry was completed and we reported to the Prime Minister what the position was—how we had found almost universal yearning for peace. We were to have another appointment the following evening, but the appointment was not given, and I remember leaving for the country for some meetings. We saw the Prime Minister on the Tuesday. To my amazement in the Press on Saturday morning there was the report of an announcement made in this House that the policy of the Government was the imposition of martial law and more intensified reprisals. To me it seems a great misfortune that on the morning of the issue of the Report of the Convention the Government should meet that Report in such a way; on the morning of what we believed to be very promising negotiations, there is the imposition of martial 691 law, and the announcement of a policy of intensified reprisals.
I know that, so far as the only people in Ireland who can deliver the goods are concerned, that announcement had the most disastrous effect. It made it impossible for those with whom I was associated to go on with the very promising effort we were making to get a conference in order that negotiations might be begun. Here we are to-night faced with this fact —and the right hon. Gentleman admits it—that the increase in all the horrors to which I have referred is greatest in the districts where at that moment the Government announced its policy of martial law. Another thing can be said. Since martial law was put into operation, the severity of the ambushes has considerably increased. On the 15th of this month 8 were killed and 12 wounded in the ambush of a train at Upton Station on the Cork and Bandon Railway. The official report says that the assailants numbered about 50, that they arrested and imprisoned the stationmaster and his staff, cleared the station, and took up a position in buildings opposite the station. Another ambush on the same day was reported in the Douglas district, and heavy firing was heard from there up to mid-day. In a round-up at Mourne Abbey, County Cork, seven were reported killed. The official summary to which I have referred stated that the arrests for outrages or political offences numbered 97 for that week, and that 84 trials of civilians by court-martial took place during the week, resulting in 66 convictions. Orders for internment were made in 167 cases during the week. The total number of persons now interned is 1,855.
The point I am making is that, in spite of the Chief Secretary's efforts, the very thing he is trying to put down is increasing, and that he cannot claim to-day, as he claimed on 20th October last, that the number of people engaged in lawlessness is decreasing. If this House will institute an inquiry in order to ascertain the effects of this policy of the Government, it would be astonished at the result. I believe it would find, from the international standpoint, that the civilised world is looking on to-day with amazement at our treatment of the Irish people, that not one of our Allies approves of our recent handling of the Irish situation, 692 and that one of the worst results of such methods is that it is actually encouraging a dangerous and cynical disregard of law and order, not only in Ireland, but also in this country. If the Government had resorted to this policy of intensified repression with the object of arousing the Irish people to a greater hostility or a more abiding hatred of British government of any kind, they could not have done it more successfully. An investigation to-day would undoubtedly show that the Government methods, as Lord Denbigh, in his letter to the "Times" on the 18th inst., said, "are rapidly creating in the minds of erstwhile moderate Irishmen a feeling of intense hatred of England which it will take generations to-undo"; and possibly the most disastrous result of all is the demoralising effect their policy is having upon the mind of the rising generation of Irishmen. It is safe to say that young Ireland is now concluding that England must be regarded as the implacable enemy of their country, and that it is our unalterable determination to keep the Irish race in perpetual subjection. Many of us are convinced that we never can suppress crime and that we will never succeed in overcoming the resistance of the Irish people by such methods. We say to the Government that their policy gives no promise of success and is frustrating the prospects of an agreed settlement, as the Amendment before the House declares.
Surely it is time that all of us recognised that the question of peace with Ireland is a matter of supreme importance, not only to this country, but to the entire British Empire. In fact, it is more than time that we made a supreme effort to secure the goodwill of a friendly Ireland upon some plan founded on the will of the Irish people. The Gracious Speech now before the House holds out the hope that Irish unity and Irish self-government may be secured through the new Government of Ireland Act. I do not share this hope. I venture to say you have only to visit Ireland and move amongst the people and you will be compelled to come-to the conclusion that that treatment of the subject holds out no hope whatever of the settlement which we desire. When in Ireland I found no section of the people ready to welcome the now Government of Ireland Act. I found a number who claimed that it could never be successful, because it violated the fundamental principles which British statesmen claimed we 693 were fighting for during the War. May I remind the House of the principles to which I refer and which were repeatedly brought to our notice when we were in Ireland—that every people have the right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live like other nations, that the small States of the world have the right to enjoy the same respect for their sovereignty and their territorial integrity that the great and powerful nations insist upon, and that the world has the right to be free from every disturbance to its peace that has its origin in aggression and the disregard of the rights of peoples and nations? Therefore the question arises— and I was very pleased to hear the question put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Barnes)—as to whether some means cannot be found whereby a satisfactory settlement may be secured. I must say that we on these benches mean by that a settlement consistent with the aspirations of the majority of the Irish people.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
If the majority of the Irish people declare, by constitutional means, that they want an independent Ireland, so long as we take steps to safeguard Ireland from becoming a danger, I say we cannot stand in the way. I mean a settlement consistent with the aspirations of the Irish people, and I was going on to say—but my hon. and learned Friend opposite did not wait for the second part of my sentence—and the safety of this Empire, such a settlement as would secure for us a friendly Ireland With regard to a friendly Ireland, I want to quote from a speech delivered in this House by the Leader of the House. Speaking in the House of Commons on 16th April, 1912, he said:I am ready to say for myself … that if it were necessary or if it were possible to grant Home Rule—and for reasons which I shall give later on I do not think it is possible—I would grant it fully and completely. I would give to Ireland precisely the same powers which are enjoyed now by Canada, and I would do it for this reason. By that arrangement you would have a chance of a friendly Ireland. Under this Bill there i9 absolutely no hope of a friendly Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1912; col. 287, Vol. 37.]For once I agree with the right hon Gentleman. I think if Home Rule has to be granted it should be granted fully and completely, and I believe that the 694 paramount object that we should all have in view at this moment is to secure the goodwill of a friendly Ireland. Perhaps the hon. and learned Member who inter rupted me a moment ago objects as a former Home Ruler to the enlarged demand now being made.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
Perhaps he will take the opportunity in the House of explaining what he means. I am endeavouring to explain what I mean. I was going to say that as a former Home Ruler he may object to the enlarged demand. I am one of those, like the hon. Member for the Falls Division of Belfast (Mr. Devlin), who would like to have seen this settled long ago, when it would have been very much easier to settle than it is now, but I would remind those who object to the enlarged demand that for nearly 40 years from those benches, and for 18 years to my knowledge, there has been a most insistent demand for self-government within the Empire. That was their legitimate and their reasonable demand, and if there is an enlarged demand now before the country and before the world, the responsibility rests on those who resisted the more reasonable demand, and is does not fall to their lot to question the enlarged demand, provided that that enlarged demand is made known by proper and constitutional means.
As we have discussed this question of a friendly Ireland, and as I have quoted the Leader of the House, I would like to take the opportunity of quoting the latest declaration by official Sinn Fein. I am convinced we do not know sufficient of the Irish point of view. I think it is one of the evils that we do not trouble to inform ourselves of the Irish point of view, but I have here a statement made recently, and we cannot afford to ignore these views, coming from a man like De Valera. He may be the president in. hiding, as the Chief Secretary described him, but if the right hon. Gentleman were in Ireland, I am not sure he, with all his courage, would not be in hiding. When Mr. De Valera was asked the question, "On what basis would Sinn Fein consider entering into peace negotiations with the British Government?" his reply was,We have indicated the basis time after time—Ireland's separate nationality, which 695 implies the right of the people of Ireland to determine freely for themselves their own form of government, and to adjust as a nation their political relationships with other nations upon a common equality of right.He was also asked whether he would accept Dominion Home Rule. To this he said:Those who talk like this are simply fooling with a phrase. As it is applied to Ireland the expression has no definite meaning. The essence of Dominion Home Rule for Canada, Australia, etc., is, as Mr. Bonar Law put it in the British House of Commons, 30th March, 1920: 'That they have control of their whole destinies.' Their right to secede altogether from the British connection, if they so desire, is also definitely acknowledged. To quote Mr. Bonar Law again: 'If the self-governing Dominions those to say to-morrow, 'We will no longer make a part of the British Empire,' we (the British Government) would not try to force them. Dominion Home Rule means the right to decide their own destinies.'Having regard to what I have said about a friendly Ireland, I want to give another quotation from De Valera:If there ever be a British statesman who will really desire to bring peace to the peoples of these two neighbouring islands, he will approach the task in the following manner:In view of the quotations that I have given, in view of the statements made so continuously throughout the whole War period as to what we were fighting for during the War, it seems to me that this demand which is made here cannot be considered either extravagant or impossible; in fact, I want to show that it is neither extravagant nor impossible. I want to show that it is entirely consistent with statements made during the War by prominent representatives of the present Government. The Prime Minister said:
- (a) Acknowledge Ireland's right as a free and independent nation as a preliminary. For England's sake, as well as for Ireland's, this is necessary, for any agreements made under the duress of force, or a supposed existing partnership (which Ireland denies), would not be worth the paper they are written upon.
- (b) Then negotiate with Ireland such a partnership or alliance as the common interests of both islands may suggest, and on such terms as the peoples of both countries mutually agree upon."The Liberal party has special interest in the causes for which we are struggling in this great War, and the principle that the 696 rights of nations, however small, are as sacred as the rights of the biggest Empires.Let me give another quotation from the new Colonial Secretary:Let us fight for the great and sound principles of the European system. The first is the principle of nationality—that is to say, not the conquest or subjugation of any great community or any strong race of men, but the setting free of those races which have been subjugated. And if doubt arises about disputed areas of country, we should try to settle their ultimate destination with a fair regard to the wishes of the people who live in them.I want to know, are these high ideals, these sound principles, to be applied only to Poland and Czecho-Slovakia, and are they going to be denied to Ireland? Have we one set of principles to be applied in countries far away from here? And, mark you, the whole weight of the British Empire, both on the field and in the Conference, when negotiation has been taking place, has stood behind the application of these principles to Czechoslovakia and to Poland, and we have yet to hear the justification against their being applied to the sister isle.
In conclusion, I want to ask one or two questions. We have been given to understand that negotiations have been going on. Are those negotiations being continued, or are they entirely at an end? If they are at an end, have they terminated because the Government have laid down certain conditions? If that is the case, can we be informed of the conditions upon which the negotiations broke down? I also want to ask as to the public statement that negotiations with Sinn Fein were pursued until 14th December, and led to a declaration which, according to the "Manchester Guardian" of 15th February, were reduced to the following written formula—I hope the right hon. Gentleman will inform the House whether this written formula was actually brought into existence:The British Government undertakes that during the truce no raids, arrests, pursuits, burnings, shootings, lootings, demolitions, courts-martial or other acts of violence will be carried out by its forces.These conditions were said in the same written formula to be suggestedwith the object of creating an atmosphere favourable to the meeting together of the representatives of the Irish people with a view to bringing about a permanent peace.I hope that before the Debate closes we may be told exactly what this position 697 is. As I said just now, we found an almost universal yearning for peace in Ireland. That ought to be exploited for all it is worth, and I regret more than I can say that there was just the hitch because of the imposition—at whose request or suggestion I do not know—of martial law. I think it has been shown in this Debate, and it has been admitted by the Chief Secretary, that in the martial law areas things are indeed worse. Surely, we ought to go back to Where we were on the 14th December. We ought to adopt any means, and I do not mind saying to the right hon. Gentleman that, just as we were willing to negotiate without trying to make party capital in December, 1920, so we would be willing to do everything in our power to assist the Government to open up negotiations, and, mark you, we have some influence in Ireland. The policy for which we stand, and which was stated in this House in one of the recent Debates by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson) is the policy approved, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, at a great Conference of over a thousand delegates held in Dublin. So we have some influence. Is it not possible to put on the Table here, or to get some mediation by some party that will take the conditions of the Government—I mean conditions short of absolute and uncondition[...] surrender; you are never going to settle this question by demanding absolute and unconditional surrender. If you sot conditions short of that, I believe, if those conditions are at all consistent with the principles of democracy, that it would not be difficult to open up proper negotiations. Once those negotiations were entered upon, I have every confidence that they would lead to some settlement satisfactory to both sides of this great question.
§ Brigadier-General COCKERILL
When I came down to the House to-day my intention was to say a few words on the subject of reprisals. After listening to the speeches to-night, I am in some difficulty. I listened to the very long speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but I did not gather from it whether His Majesty's Government are or are not deliberately pursuing a policy of reprisals. If they are not, obviously any words of mine are useless. If they are, I wanted to speak to them from the experience of nearly half a lifetime in the exercise of arbitrary power. I began my experience when, under three successive generals, in 698 South Africa, I was entrusted 20 years ago with the difficult duty of administering martial law. The powers entrusted to officers administering martial law in South Africa were almost absolute, and I am not here to suggest that when the Government of Ireland is engaged in repelling force by force it should not avail itself of every power that the Executive entrusts to it. The question does arise, however, what are the powers that should be exercised under martial law? In the school in which I learned, serving under those three generals, it was taught that while on the one hand every act that was necessary for the repression of rebellion or for the safety of the troops or for the security of the civilian population could be justified, yet no act that could not be shown to be necessary for this purpose was justified, and that no act should be done in the name of the Executive unless it were directed towards those objects, and was reasonably likely to ensure them. I suggest that that is the real test in regard to all these arbitrary powers. Are they necessary for the repression of rebellion; are they necessary for the safety of the troops; are they necessary for the security of the civilian population, and are they reasonably likely to ensure those ends? If they have served these purposes they are justified. If they have failed to serve them they are unjustifiable. I should have liked to have heard from the Chief Secretary whether he approved the principles on which the generals under whom I served in South Africa worked.
My experience did not come to an end twenty years ago in South Africa. When the War began I found myself at the War Office. I found certain Emergency Acts, afterwards called D.O.R.A., ready, prepared to be passed by the House of Commons, and I was selected for the task of superintending, under the Army Council, the execution of the whole of those powers which this House had en trusted to competent military authorities in this country. That was a heavy load of responsibility. I had to guide me nothing but the lessons I had learned in South Africa from the general officers under whom I then served. I endeavoured to act on the same principles. After spending seven years of my life in exercising arbitrary powers, and after spending many more years in planning the powers that should 699 reside in competent military authorities in time of war and rebellion, I venture to support the views which have fallen this afternoon from my right hon. Friend the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil). He speaks from a large experience in Government Departments as a head of great offices. I have no such experience, but I speak from the experience of the years to which I have referred, and all that the Noble Lord said to-night about the spirit in which arbitrary powers ought to be exercised is confirmed in every detail by the experience I have enjoyed. Before I go on to make a few observations on the trend of the Debate in its latter stages to-night I want to ask whether any really useful purpose is served by this long string of outrages of which, if we are to judge from the attitude of the Treasury Bench, it is impossible to deny that some—not the regular forces, as I believe—of the forces of the Crown in Ireland have unfortunately been guilty? My view, and the view I saw carried into effect in South Africa and elsewhere, is that if unfortunately these things take place there is no punishment too severe in reprobation of them. No one who has had the experience that I have had in the practical difficulties that beset those who are charged with these responsible duties in time of war and rebellion is likely to say one word lightly to add to the difficulties of those at the head of affairs, or to undermine their authority. Certainly, I have no desire to attack the Government. I recognise the difficulties which the Government, in the face of this criminal conspiracy to murder, has had to encounter. But I suggest to the Chief Secretary—or I would were he in his place—that the restoration of law and order which is so necessary in Ireland is delayed rather than accelerated, and the authority of those who exercise arbitrary power in Ireland is undermined rather than supported, when acts which cannot be justified are committed by servants of the Crown, and are neither disowned nor punished. The Regulations in South Africa were stringent Regulations. They were enforced on those who harboured, or assisted, or failed to report the presence of the enemy with great rigour, and fearlessly. I am not suggesting that similar steps should not be taken in Ireland. At 700 the same time, these Regulations were enforced with moderation and discretion. I suggest to the Government—I think it was the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) who suggested that it might be possible—to send some Commission of Inquiry, consisting of three responsible persons, to Ireland to inquire into these things. Here, again, the whole of my experience confirms the wisdom of that suggestion.
We had in South Africa a standing Committee of Inquiry. It consisted of a great banker, Sir Lewis Michell, the Attorney-General of South Africa (Sir John Graham), and myself representing the General Officer Commanding. Every man who felt he had a grievance against the administration of martial law, was not merely permitted, but encouraged to come and submit his complaint to the Committee. This proved to be of immense value to us, for it took a great burden of responsibility from our shoulders. The Committee inquired into these cases, and where any wrong was being done—and occasionally wrongs are done even by regular soldiers—it was its duty to redress the grievance and to right the wrong. I suggest that if you had a Standing Committee, or a Commission such as the Noble Lord suggests, sitting permanently in Ireland to whom complaints of wrongs might come, you would fir>d that the time of the Chief Secretary was not occupied to the extent it is now by inquiring into these complaints.
The means which are being adopted in Ireland are means to an end. The end, surely, to which the Government must be working is to make an honourable peace with the people of the sister island. The Prime Minister himself has more than once expressed an anxious desire to negotiate peace between the people of Great Britain and Ireland. I hope he will continue to explore every avenue to peace. I hope every Member of this House will make it clear to him that he supports the Prime Minister in that policy, and will blow on the embers of his resolution, if ever it may be necessary, and if ever they seem to be cooling. The state of affairs in Ireland is so deplorable that some remedy should be found and found at once. By all means first restore order. When you have done so, what is the next step? Speaking for the Labour party, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henderson) made proposals which it seemed to me went 701 even beyond the peace that you can negotiate to-day if you negotiate with the people of Ireland. After all, I suggest that we cast our minds back 100 years or more, and reflect out of what elements this United Kingdom was constituted. The very Act of Union itself proves that it was a union of two separate kingdoms. It was an Act, a treaty, between the Kingdom of Ireland and the Kingdom of Great Britain. There is not a party in this House but suggests that some modification of that treaty is necessary. Lord Grey puts forward one proposal for its modification. The leader of the Liberal party puts forward another. To-night we have had from the representative of the Labour party yet another proposal. We have got in the shape of a Government Bill for the granting of Home Rule and Parliaments for Southern and Northern Ireland the solution of the Government for a modification of the Union with Ireland. There is not a single contract in any ordinary transaction in life, the terms of which you seek to alter, in which you do not go to the original parties to the contract and come to some agreement as to the modification required.
I cannot go as far as a great many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen go in, as it were, throwing bones to an Irish dog under the table. One after another, they have, thrown a bone with a gesture, sometimes of one kind and sometimes of another, saying "Take it; it is the best we can give you." I do not believe in that method. I believe in recognising the humanity of the people of Ireland. I believe in according to Irishmen what, after all, every Englishman for his own nationality, every Scotsman and Welshman for his, demands, and expects to receive, and that is a recognition of the nationality of Ireland. Negotiate with them as with a Kingdom. If you must alter your union—though I remain a Unionist, and would have gladly seen the Union unaltered—surely it is with the people of Ireland that you should negotiate. By what means? What are the ordinary means of negotiating a treaty or convention—call it what you please—between two nations? Is it not that you get each of them to put forward one, two or three representatives; not the whole people, not Parliament, nor constituent assemblies, but one or two representatives, bring them together, 702 and negotiate at a round table. You did that in South Africa. Why, even when the universities want to settle the terms on which they are going to play their golf match they select two representatives of the respective sides to settle the terms. It is a procedure that everybody in an ordinary sphere of life would adopt, and yet because on one side there have been these political attacks, necessarily defended from the other side, you decline to take what is after all the most ordinary means of affecting a reconciliation between the two parties. I put these proposals forward first in 1913—not in the public press, but privately, in the constituency for which I stood in 1910—and I was only carrying out, as I thought, the spirit of the proposals which were then put forward by the present Leader of the House (Mr. Bonar Law). I put forward the same proposal again on the 8th October last, in a letter to the "Times," and within a week Mr. Arthur Griffith, who, I think, is called the Acting President of the Sinn Feiners, acting on behalf of the Irish people or the largest portion of them, accepted that proposal with both hands.
Let me state quite frankly what that acceptance means. I have here a letter written, as I believe, by Mr. Arthur Griffith to a correspondent—not to me— and dated the 16th November, 1920. In this he refers to his interview with the "Manchester Guardian" about a month earlier, in which he stated that if the English people desired peace with honour and security proposals such as those made by me in my letter to the "Times" would be their guide.
The letter goes on:Those proposals involved a truce and a conference unhampered by preliminary conditions"—that is an important point—between representatives of the British Government and Dail Eireann. If these proposals are accepted by the British Government, Dail Eireann will accept them and a cessation of all activities which might hamper the assembly and sitting of such a conference could be speedily arranged.I believe that letter came from Mr. Arthur Griffith himself. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is it signed by Mr. Arthur Griffith?"] It is signed by what I believe to be the signature of Mr. Arthur Griffith, but he was thrown into gaol a few days later for reasons of which I know nothing, and I 703 have not been able to communicate with him, nor, indeed, have I had any desire to communicate with him, for I venture to think that it is not for private Members to enter into negotiations behind the back of any Government with anyone claiming to represent Ireland or anyone else, and the only step I could take was to put the gentleman who came to me in touch with the Government, and there my part ended. I know that that letter was written, and it is confirmed entirely by the words read just now by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henderson) as being the words of Mr. de Valera. There you have the fact that, if only you will it, there can be a truce at once, and there can be a cessation of these murders, and then there will be no need for hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen to come down here with a list of the alleged crimes committed by the forces of tin-Crown, and there will be no need for the Government to answer that it was Sinn Fein who began, and that the cowardly murders, which appeared to be condoned by Sinn Fein, gave some possible excuse for the crimes committed. There will be then a cessation of competition in arson and these other crimes in Ireland, and I venture to think, and I have good reason for believing, that, if you could by this means get a cessation of these murders on one side, they would not recommence. Surely that is something, and you can lose nothing by it. If you make an offer to Sinn Fein, indeed they have offered it to you, they are prepared, if you accept this offer to ask their representatives who sit in this House, who were elected to this House representing Ireland, to elect one or two or three representatives to meet representatives from His Majesty's Government. I believe that if reasonably minded men anxious for peace and anxious to see the cessation of all this murder and crime, whoever may be responsible for it, men animated by a desire to seek peace, if they could be brought together, they might even ensue it.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I have listened, as I believe a large majority of the House have listened, not only with interest, but with sympathy to the concluding observations of my hon. and gallant Friend who has just sat down. If I may say so, I think that is the spirit in which all ought to endeavour to approach perhaps the 704 gravest situation that has ever confronted the British Parliament in the long and troubled chronicle of our relations with Ireland. The case for this Amendment was presented by my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain W. Bonn) at the opening of the Debate with such an admirable combination of temperateness and force, and with such an irresistible array of relevant evidence, that unless and until it could be displaced in the course of our discussion, and it has not been, I should have been quite content myself to leave it as it stood. The case put by him, during the hours of debate that have followed, is at this moment not only unanswered, but there has not been a shade of a shadow of an attempt to answer it. The Chief Secretary himself, who I am sorry not to see in his place, in the course of his reply, allowed every count presented by my hon. and gallant Friend to go as a. case of judgment by default.
Let me take one illustration and one only for the moment, that is the Bodkin Report. That was treated in a most cavalier fashion by the Chief Secretary. He seemed to think it was almost presumption on the part of a County Court Judge to address to a man in his position and exercising his authority any such Report. What was the Bodkin Report? It was a deliberate pronouncement made-by a judicial officer, independent of the-Executive, after a long series of investigations, not behind closed doors, but in the light of day, founded upon testimony given upon oath, with the fullest possible opportunity to those who are the natural custodians of the honour of the Executive to come forward and cross-examine the witnesses that were put into the box, and present, if they could, counter evidence of their own. It was unlike any other inquiry, except those in which other county court judges have recorded similar conclusions—very unlike any other inquiry held into these proceedings. What is the judgment, the considered judgment, of this judicial officer after hearing all these eases, a judgment pronounced in court, then communicated to the Executive, and finally published to the whole world? I will read it again, because these are words that cannot be too often quoted and seriously pondered. I will read the statement of results. There were in all 139 cases, that is in a single county, the county of Clare, in which it was proved 705 that criminal injuries, cases of arson, of plunder, of pillage, accompanied in some instances by gross acts of outrage, and even by actual homicide—there were in all 139 cases, in which it was proved that the criminal injuries were committed by armed forces of the Government, and only in five cases were any witnesses produced to justify, or deny, or explain In no case was there any evidence to suggest that the victims had been guilty of any offence. Leaving out the next two paragraphs, I come to the final words:I repeat the opinion expressed at the previous Sessions three months ago, that law and order cannot be restored or maintained by what I feel bound to describe as a competition in crime.10.0 P.M.That is one of the gravest indictments ever presented by a judicial authority against an executive government in a free country. What did the Chief Secretary answer? Practically nothing. He has given no ground whatsoever to this House for questioning, let alone quarrelling with, this comprehensive finding of the County Court judge, and therefore we are bound to assume, for the purposes of this Debate, that in 139 cases in one county the armed forces of the Crown, in the course of three months, have been engaged in a series of most wicked and criminal outrages. The Chief Secretary brushed that aside and spent a good deal of his speech, a waste both of time and energy, if I may be permitted to say so, on other matters, including a personal attack on myself: a very unimportant matter, but since he has made it, I propose to occupy at least two or three minutes in replying. I give the minimum of consideration to the suggestion put forward by the right hon. Gentleman that the present terrible state of things in Ireland is the direct effect and consequence of maladministration by a Liberal Government between the years 1906 and 1916. I was the head of that Government. The present Prime Minister was my leading colleague. Throughout the whole of that time where was the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary?
§ Mr. ASQUITH
During that time, as far as my memory serves me, he was a docile, uncomplaining, uncritical, and, in the language of the present day, a reliable supporter. Well, this is a matter which I recommend him to go and settle with 706 his present political chief. I feel sure that in the compact organisation of the Coalition, at any rate of the Liberal wing of the Coalition, a place has been found for a Director of Consciences: a very responsible, and I hope a well-remunerated office. So much for that. I come to a much more serious charge. The right hon. Gentlemen pointedly and directly accused me and those who have acted with me in relation to the matter of the reprisals, of being apologists, abettors. and accomplices of crime.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I made no accusation against the right hon. Gentleman of being an accomplice in crime. What I said was that I feel it very strongly that an ex-Prime Minister of this country should have made speeches unwittingly—I used that word—which were a source of encouragement to Sinn Fein.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
That is a compliment to my character at the expense of my intelligence. But the right hon. Gentleman said in my hearing that the speeches made by me had been treated as an expression of sympathy and encouragement.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD indicated assent.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I think the right hon. Gentleman will credit me with the intention of knowing what I did. I never made a speech—it is really a wicked charge—I have never made one speech during the whole of this campaign, in which I have not denounced in the strongest and most emphatic terms, the resort by the Sinn Fein organisations, or by whatever name it calls itself—a branch of the Sinn Fein organisation—to any form of outrage or crime. I have never expressed anything but the most heartful denunciation of these crimes. I have never accused and never will accuse the great bulk of His Majesty's Forces in Ireland and particularly the Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary of having any sympathy with the misguided and I think criminal policy of the Government. But it is because I felt so strongly and denounced so sternly the resort by the supporters of Sinn Fein to methods of crime and outrage, because of my hatred of their 707 methods which were inflicting an almost irremedial injury on the cause of Irish freedom and self-government—it is for that very reason I felt constrained to denounce in even stronger language the imitation by the Government, the competition on the part of the officers and of the Government in the same criminal methods. Do not let us have any mistake whatever about this; it goes down to the roots. If it is wrong, as it is wrong, for people in pursuit of their own ideals of freedom and emancipation to resort to criminal methods, that offence is a greater offence, because it is more far-reaching in its consequences, it is more demoralising in its character, it is more injurious and dishonouring, when these methods are borrowed and pursued by those who are responsible for the pure, ovenhanded, and impartial administration of the law. But that is only a personal matter; it does not affect me very much. I have been called in my day a pro-German and I still live. I have been called a Bolshevik and I still live. Now I am called a Sinn Feiner. [HON. MEMBERS: "You were not."] That was the whole implication of his speech. But I have a faint, lingering hope that my political reputation may still survive.
The real vindication or attempted vindication—I shall in a moment show how-unreal it is—of the policy which has been so unhappily pursued during these last six months, is that it has succeeded, or at any rate it has good prospects of success. The Prime Minister two or three nights ago gave us an almost glowing, at any rate an exuberant, description of the enormous advance which is being made in the direction of the pacification and the repression of crime in Ireland under the right hon. Gentleman's administration. Crime, rampant when he took the reins, has now been, so the Prime Minister told us, if not driven underground, at any rate driven to obscure refuges in the hills. What are the facts? At the very moment when the Prime Minister was speaking an hon. Friend of mine sitting here put in my hands a telegram that had come from Ireland that day which described how, within a very few miles of the city of Cork— [An HON. MEMBER: "Who sent it?"] It appeared in the newspapers the next day. It did not come from Sinn Fein sources. It is public property. It was a statement that at that very moment on 708 the Cork and Bandon Railway two trains had been ambushed and a number of soldiers and civilians had lost their lives. If you look in the newspapers only to-day you will see that in the city of Cork, not in the hills, not in those remote outlying regions, within the last ten days—I am reading from the "Times" of to-day— five citizens of Cork have been shot dead in the most terrible circumstancs. [An HON. MEMBER: "By whom?"] By Sinn Feiners. That is not the point. And only yesterday or the day before yesterday there was an open fight near the town of Midleton, in the same county, in which 13 people, I believe the number is now added to, were killed. Does anyone suppose I look upon those things with sympathy? Nothing of the kind. It is a most deplorable and condemnable thing; but how do they bear upon the allegation that peace and order are being restored through the policy of reprisals? I take the statement made by the Chief Secretary himself at that box this afternoon, when he told us that civilian judges could not safely be entrusted with the duty of adjudicating, and that witnesses; so we were told when the courts martial were set up some months ago, dare not come and give testimony for fear of their lives. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Let him look at the speech of the Prime Minister to which I myself replied and he will see what I am saying is correct. You could not have a more darkly significant statement than that of the Chief Secretary, that after all these months of this extreme administration the lives of both judges and witnesses are still unsafe. There was a case, I am not going into the details, referred to to-day, first by my hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Benn) and then by the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin), which happened within the fast ten days in Dublin—not among the hills—the city of Dublin, the capital of Ireland—I think one of the most horrible and repulsive of all these cases. It is the case of Murphy and the other young man, Kennedy. Let the House consider. Here is a young man, apparently, of blameless antecedents, who had never taken any part in any political movement—was not even a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in any of its forms or organisations. He had come home after his work, and had gone out to the theatre. As he emerges frm the door of the theatre, 709 he is taken, with a companion, by a body of these police, to Dublin Castle, and searched most carefully, without any compromising documents or evidence of any kind being found. He was told to return home. It was after curfew, when it is no longer safe for anyone to perambulate the streets of that great Irish town; so, by order of an officer, he was put into a military lorry, with orders that he should be taken back to his own residence, and the other young man like wise. The lorry was in charge of a body of these auxiliaries who go by the name of Black and Tans. What did they do? These two young men—it has not been denied so far—were driven into the suburbs and taken out of the lorry, tin cans or pails were put over their heads, they were put up against a wall, and there, in cold blood, they were made the targets for the rifles of these Black and Tan auxiliaries. One of them was shot dead on the spot; the other was mortally wounded, and has since died. They were left there—the dead body and the dying man—for some hours, until an officer of the Metropolitan Police, making his rounds, was attracted by the sound of groaning, and found the dying man and the corpse of the other. That was done, not months ago, but ten days ago, in Dublin, the metropolis of Ireland; and done, admittedly—there can be no dispute about it—by persons in the service of the Crown. What is to be said? If it were an isolated case I should not quote it, but it is not an isolated case.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I only quote it because it is one of the latest, and reflects a most lurid light upon the absurd claim put forward by the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary that, through the operation of this method of reprisals, order has been restored. The Chief Secretary made no attempt to deal with this; I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman who is to follow me is in a position to do so. If the facts be as they are sworn to, they are of such a kind as to make any one of us—any Englishman, any Scotsman, anybody who has any kind of responsibility, direct or indirect, for the conduct and administration of this country—blush with shame. After the many illustrations that have been already given, I will not go further into the details of particular 710 cases. There is a mass of evidence, not coming from tainted sources, but, as I entirely agree with my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin, coming to me, as it comes to him and, I have no doubt, to many Members of this House, from persons who have no sympathy with Sinn Fein, many of whom are convinced and lifelong Unionists, persons of position, of authority, and of undoubted credit. To my mind, whatever the Chief Secretary may think—and it was reluctantly and slowly that I came to any such conclusion —it shows a complete state of demoralisation of this branch, at any rate, of the executive forces of the Crown, which is the natural and inevitable result of letting them loose, as they have been during all these past months, without discipline, without control, to wreak indiscriminate and blind passions of vengeance upon the innocent as well as upon the guilty. I do not want to use the language of exaggeration, but I do not think there is a more discreditable chapter in the whole history of British administration.
That in itself would be enough to justify the terms of this Amendment, but I do not wish to leave it there. There are two things more, apart from the urgent duty that appears to me to lie upon this House of expressing its reprobation and its condemnation of the action of the executive which, unless we do, we shall not have performed our full duty. The first is— and here I reinforce what was said with so much force by my Noble Friend an hour or two ago—the need for a prompt, open, impartial, independent inquiry. As he says very truly, if one of these things had been reported as having happened in any one of our Crown Colonies, or in India, this House would have insisted, and every Government would have granted such an inquiry. Think what happened the other day at Amritsar. Very properly, a Commission, headed by a Judge of great distinction, was sent out at once to India, and spent weeks and months investigating the matter. What happened many years ago —I can remember it as a young man or as a boy—when there was a terrible outbreak in Jamaica and the establishment of martial law [...] er the then celebrated, now almost fo[...]tten, Governor Eyre? The Government of that day—I think it was the Government of Lord Palmerston —sent out at [...] a Judicial Commission to Jamaica to inquire into the facts. What happened, even to come down to a 711 much later date, after the abortive attempt at a rebellion in the year 1916? The Government, of which I was head and of which the right hon. Gentleman opposite was a member, at once appointed a Commission, which was presided over by Lord Hardinge, which inquired into the administrative responsibility for those acts. And, again, I would remind him of the case of the very same Government when there was a very necessary inquiry into what had happened at the shooting, which in those days was regarded with such reprobation and indignation and incredulity that we could hardly believe it, of two innocent men in the prison yard of a prison in Dublin. Again, we sent a Commission, over which Sir John Simon presided, and, if I am not mistaken, the present Attorney-General for Ireland was one of the members. I have given four cases.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
Featherstone was another. I was Home Secretary at the time. I was accused of being an assassin. That is another thing that has been brought to my charge. It was not for that that I appointed a Commission. There was a regrettable loss of life at an industrial disturbance at Feathertsone at the hands of the military. I, as Home Secretary, appointed a Commission, of which the present Lord Haldane was one of the members, which inquired upon the spot into the whole of the facts—an open inquiry to which all witnesses were admitted and not excluding the Press, which made a most valuable report, which has been the foundation, or, at least, an authoritative declaration of the duties of the civilian and military powers in case of dispute ever since. There is a catena of authority. Why does not the Government do the same thing? I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to tell us. I know what he is going to say. "The state of things is so serious in Ireland, that it would not be safe." Safe for whom? They would have no difficulty whatever to secure immunity for the judges and the witnesses who appeared before such a tribunal. To what risks, and from what quarter would they be exposed? Not from the Auxiliaries of the Government, I hope. I cannot conceive what other risks would happen to them.
712 My first point is that it is the duty of this House to demand that the Government should grant such an inquiry, and that promptly and without delay. My next, and final, point is to reinforce as strongly as I can and with, I believe, the sympathy and assent of the vast majority of this House, the need for putting an end to this ghastly tragedy by a truce—a course which has been urged by the hon. and gallant Member (Brigadier-General Cockerill) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson). A truce, and a truce which means not merely a suspension of this terrible day to day intensification of passion and multiplication of crime, but a truce which might lead to or which might form, at any rate, the avenue to a permanent settlement. I hoped very much just before we separated for the recess, from what the Prime Minister then said, that there was a prospect of settlement. We know that steps were taken, that negotiations were entered into, which, for the time being, seemed to have a hopeful prospect. They broke down, and if the account which has been given us, if the account given by the Prime Minister is the correct one, they broke down, as they were bound to break down, on any such conditions as were proposed. You must look at these things as practical men, having regard to the realities of the case, and among those realities not the least important is the psychology and state of mind of the Irish people. I do not think that they are more suspicious than other people, but I think that we must have an unreserved and an unconditional truce. Certainly I would not impose conditions which no one is in a position authoritatively to fulfil. I would have an unreserved truce, so long as it lasts, completely binding upon both sides without any equivocation or condition. If that could be brought about, then, dark in many ways as the prospect is, darker than it was six or even three months ago, I am still not without hope that we might find ourselves on the road to permanent peace.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)
I do not need to claim that His Majesty's Government would welcome eagerly, and would do as much to secure, a real peace as any section of this House, but you will only get that if you do what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith) said, 713 and what he is very apt to forget—deal with realities, and not with things as we imagine them to be.
Naturally, a Debate of this kind, where an issue so clear is joined, cannot fail to arouse strong feeling, and perhaps passionate expressions, but I shall do my best not to make that atmosphere stronger. My right hon. Friend rebuked the Chief Secretary for what he had said about the effect of his speeches in encouraging Sinn Fein. I have heard the speech of my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Greenwood). He did not say a word which implied that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith) was an accomplice of or sympathiser with these murderers, but he did say, and it is true, that extracts from the speeches of my right hon. Friend are taken as a direct encouragement, not only by Sinn Feiners in Ireland, but to my certain knowledge are quoted all over the world, without any of the reservations, and are regarded as condonation—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I do not deny that if the right hon. Gentleman really feels that we are as guilty as he now declares us to be, it is his duty to say so, and I do not deny that extracts might be taken from his speeches which produce an effect which he does not desire. But I have something more to say which I think is a legitimate complaint as to the first action taken by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the denunciation of murder. That action was taken, unless I am mistaken, after the Balbriggan outrage. Before that outrage, 82 policemen had been murdered in Ireland. He did not bring that to the notice of the House of Commons. What is more—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have looked, and I have not been able to find a single reference. There is, however, proof which does not admit of contradiction that we have some ground for that complaint. In the first Vote of Censure on what has been 714 done by His Majesty's Forces, we all called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that his Amendment, which condemned these reprisals, had no word of condemnation for the murders for which they were reprisals. So much did that affect the right hon. Gentleman that the next time he moved an Amendment he had the murders included in the condemnation. The right hon. Gentleman is in a different position from most of those who are criticising the Government. From his recollection of the sort of things said about him and his Government, he should have some consideration and some hesitation in saying the same sort of thing about the Government which succeeded his own. I remember perfectly well that again and again it was said in this House—I almost remember that the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) was one of those who said it—over and over again the Nationalist Members told the right hon. Gentleman that his cruel action after the rebellion of 1916 was the sole reason why Sinn Feiners had been created in Ireland.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Unfortunately, I have got some quotations here. I do not think it is true, but undoubtedly that was said. In this House, on 11th May, 1916, Mr. Dillon used these words about the right hon. Gentleman:I say deliberately that in the whole of modern history, taking all the circumstances into account, there has been no rebellion or insurrection put down with so much blood and so much savagery as the recent insurrection in Ireland.He could not say anything worse to-day. The House has to remember—any of us who is old enough to recall the periods of what is called "coercion" can do so—that precisely the same kind of charge against the police and against the Government who were encouraging them has been made on every occasion when coercion was used to put down rebellion.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It was said constantly by the Nationalists when Lord Spencer was carrying out the government of Ireland, and it was said constantly by the Nationalists, plus Mr. Gladstone and 715 his followers, when my right hon. Friend the President of the Council was trying to carry out the same work. [Interruption.] I listened to what was said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I would call the attention of the hon. Member (Mr. Hogge) to the fact that the hon. and gallant Member sitting by his side (Captain Benn) was listened to in almost absolute silence. Surely when we talk about fair play, it is the proper thing to listen to the reply.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has not been here, I think, during the whole or greater part of the Debate.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I will read one more extract. This one accuses the police of all the crimes which we hear now, and accuses the Government of backing them up and refusing an inquiry. They were the words of Mr. John Morley on 16th February, 1891:What I saw in Tipperary opened my eyes to the pitch of demoralisation, incompetence, brutality, and lawlessness to which the subordinate agents of the right hon. Gentleman bad been brought by his system"—That is exactly the charge that is made to-day. He goes on:—of standing up for everything they do, whether right or wrong, of crediting every statement they make, and discrediting every statement in competition, and refusing any inquiry into their conduct, no matter what the cause of it may be.That is exactly what is said to-day. My right hon. Friend says there is a perfectly simple course, to have a public inquiry. What are the facts? Every time there has been trouble in Ireland, an inquiry has been demanded—of Mr. Gladstone, of Lord Salisbury, of anyone responsible—and every time it has been refused, and why? My right hon. Friend actually said that witnesses could give their evidence without any danger. Only yesterday two men were murdered be- 716 cause they had given evidence. It is certain—and if my right hon. Friend would think of the realities of Ireland he would know it—that, though evidence might safely be given against the police, and there would be plenty of it, no evidence dare be given in their favour while this system of terror prevails in Ireland.
There was one occasion when an inquiry was held. My right hon. Friend referred to the case of Governor Eyre, of the Featherstone riots, and of the rebellion of 1916. In all these cases it was after the event, or it was thought to be after the event. But Lord Hardinge's inquiry gave one very interesting piece of information, which shows how impossible it is to have these inquiries. This Commission of Lord Hardinge reported that the action of the Government in granting the inquiry broke the morale of the police, and was the cause of the rebellion in 1916. No, Sir, you cannot have inquiries. My right hon. Friend refuses to look at the actual facts of the situation. My Noble Friend (Lord Robert Cecil) took up this case for an inquiry with even greater energy than my right hon. Friend. He told us quite truly that, in the earlier stages, he had constantly attacked the Government because they were not enforcing order stringently enough. It is quite true, and I remember very well asking him, when we were doing our best, "Will you tell us what we can do?" He was not very helpful. He told us that it was the business of the Government to find a remedy. We tried, but my Noble Friend said some things then which would have been useful had they been repeated to-day. In March, 1920, he said:When, however, he asks, as I understand him to ask, for a sudden and immediate removal of what he calls coercive measures, I must point out to him that if we were to cease governing by force, might we not say, as the French proverb has it, 'Let the murderers begin.'My right hon. Friend opposite spent some time in attacking my right hon. Friend beside me for wasting time, but as he repeated in detail an incident which has been told twice before in this House, I thought it was not the best way in which he might have employed his time. But he gave us the incident of two men whom he said were taken from the Castle, and murdered by the police ten days ago. Already an inquiry has been set on foot 717 in regard to that. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has seen the head of the police in regard to it, and if complicity in such a crime can be brought home to anyone guilty of it, they will pay the penalty.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I have listened to all this string of charges made by the mover of the Amendment. I receive them all with the greatest suspicion, and I will tell the House why. We were told by my Noble Friend (Lord Robert Cecil) that no witnesses were allowed in Cork. It is not true.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
But no individual was there on trial, and therefore there was no necessity for counsel. In regard to Mallow, what happened was that the inquiry was postponed again and again, in order to get evidence, and it was not given. And why? The Sinn Feiners are very skilful propagandists. They avoid giving evidence at a court where it can be examined and sifted. They prefer to have it circulated to Members of the House of Commons, who can use it here.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I must be the judge of what I shall say. In regard to the whole matter, there is no advantage to be gained by harrowing our feelings with accounts of brutality or murders on either side. That does not help us. If it could be said with truth that we are deliberately encouraging and not punishing crimes of that kind, then that would be a charge against the British Government.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
As I have said, that is a charge that has always been made against any British Government.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
This is the real position. My right hon. Friend said, taking the different parts of his Amendment, that our claim that the position in Ireland has improved is false, is entirely wrong. In June and July of last year, to my knowledge, Unionists from all over Ireland were telling us, "It is no good; you have lost Ireland, and you may as well recognise it." The police were in a state of so great demoralisation that some of the officials in Dublin Castle told us that they would resign wholesale. Sinn Fein courts were being held all over Ireland openly; patrols wearing the armlet of the Irish Republican Army were going openly and controlling the traffic in the towns. What was worse than all that, the civil courts could not sit in any part of 26 counties. Now, what has happened? Let me tell you another thing that occurred in my own experience. A friend of mine in Lancashire brought a doctor from one of these Southern counties to see me here at that time. I asked him about the state of Ireland. He said: "It is perfectly peaceable in my neighbourhood." I expressed surprise, and he said: "It is peaceable because there is no opposition to Sinn Fein. Whatever they ask is given; they are the rulers of the country." I say that that confession, that fact that the Government of the Crown was no longer the Government of Ireland, was, to my mind, a far more serious thing than anything else that could happen in regard to the Government of Ireland. That has changed. The police are being recruited by Irishmen, not merely by those who come from England. The civil courts are running in all parts of Ireland, and at the time I speak of it was impossible to get anyone convicted for any crime—
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Now, convictions are taking place, and men are being punished. The law is again asserting itself.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
Do not imagine—the House would make a great mistake if it imagined—that we have ever felt certain that the restoration of order after such conditions would be a short 719 process. It took two or three years under Lord Spencer; it took two or three years under Lord Salisbury. We shall not do it in a hurry, but we shall do it. What my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Greenwood) said was quite true. You have to decide on broad lines between one of two policies. There are only the two. You have either to surrender to this campaign of crime, and do what they want, or you have to prove that it is in our power to put down crime, and then to consider the matter, not from the point of view merely of what the extremists in Ireland want, but of what is best for the whole of the United Kingdom. There is no other way.
Just consider what is the position. My right hon. Friend to-day read a plan of campaign for England and Scotland. This was actually taken from the chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army. There is no doubt about it. They are going to begin here—they have begun already—the same campaign of lawlessness, murder and arson which they have carried out in Ireland. What is the object? They are not altogether fools. I believe some of them —a large number—have got so imbued in this murder business that they
§ cannot give it up. But behind all that are the men who know perfectly well that if this country is in earnest, they cannot force their way by methods of this kind. What do they hope for? If we were to judge by the action of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) and those who support him their hope, in face of the fact that every increase of crime in Ireland has been met by a further proposal of concession by the right hon. Gentleman—their one hope, and it is a hope encouraged by such discussions as we are having to-day, it is encouraged by those speeches all over the country—is that there will be such a reaction that this great country, which stood up against the greatest army the world has ever seen, will surrender to a. conspiracy of murder. Those who think so represent accurately a certain section of the people of this country. They do not represent the heart of the British people.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 88; Noes, 257.721
|Division No. 3.]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Gould, James C.||Mills, John Edmund|
|Asqu[...]h, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Morgan, Major D. Watts|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Mosley, Oswald|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Guest, J. (York. W. R., Hemsworth)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hancock, John George||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bent[...]nck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Hartshorn, Vernon||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hayday, Arthur||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Br[...]ant, Frank||Hayward, Major Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cape, Thomas||Hinds, John||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Irving, Dan||Spencer, George A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (O[...]. Univ.)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Johnstone, Joseph||Swan, J. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, East)||Tootill, Robert|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kenyon, Barnet||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kiley, James D.||Wignall, James|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawson, John J.||Williams, Aneur[...]n (Durham, Consett)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Lunn, William||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Wintringham, T.|
|F[...]nney, Samuel||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Glanville, Harold James||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Mr. G. Thorne and Mr. Hogge.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Barnett, Major R. W.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Barnston, Major Harry|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Beck, Sir C. (Essex, Saffron Walden)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Banner, Sir John S. Harmood[...]||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Barlow, Sir Montague||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bigland, Alfred||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Percy, Charles|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Perring, William George|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Higham, Charles Frederick||Pratt, John William|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Prescott, Major W. H.|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hood, Joseph||Purchase, H. G.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Randies, Sir John S.|
|Briggs, Harold||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Rankin, Captain James S.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hopkins, John W. W.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Howard, Major S. G.||Reid, D. D.|
|Burdett-Coutts, Rt. Hon. William||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Remer, J. R.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel A. H.||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hurd, Percy A.||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Roundel], Colonel R. F.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. sir Edward H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Jephcott, A. R.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Jesson, C.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Chadwick, sir Robert||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm.,W.)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydv[...])||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Chilcot, Lieut-Com. Harry W.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Churchman, sir Arthur||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'cattle-on-T.)|
|Clough, Robert||Kerr-Smlley, Major Peter Kerr||S[...]mm, M. T.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Colvin, Briq.-General Richard Beale||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Stanler, Captain sir Bevi[...]e|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cra[...]k, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lloyd, George Butler||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Curzon, Commander viscount||Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Taylor, J.|
|Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Lonsdale, James Rolston||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Lorden, John William||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryh[...])|
|Davison, sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lort-Williams, J.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lynn, R. J.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Cam[...]ach[...]e)||Vickers, Douglas|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Elveden, Viscount||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Macqulsten, F. A.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Manville, Edward||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wigan, Brig-General John Tyson|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Mitchell, William Lane||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Forrest, Walter||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Morden, Lieut.-Col. W. Grant||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Gilmour, Lieut-Colonel John||Morrison, Hugh||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Murchison, C. K.||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Neal, Arthur||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Gregory, Holman||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Wise, Frederick|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Newton, Major Harry Kottingham||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hall, Captain Sir Douglas Bernard||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hall, Lieut. Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Hall, Rt-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W. D'by)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Younger, Sir George|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hanna, George Boyle||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed.722
§ It being after Eleven of the clock and objection being taken to further Proceeding, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to interrupt the business.723
§ Whereupon, Mr. BONAR LAW rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.