HC Deb 12 April 1922 vol 153 cc400-2

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how much money and what quantity of arms and ammunition have been handed over or sold by the British Government to the Irish Provisional Government; whether any further payments or delivery of arms have been promised; whether any condition has been made with the Irish Provisional Government that they shall restore law and order in Southern Ireland within any given time;. and whether the British Government are taking any, and what, steps to recover the arms and ammunition recently stolen from one of their vessels on the coast of Cork?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill)

In reply to the first part of the question, 4,000 rifles, 2,200 revolvers, and 6 machine guns, to- gether with corresponding amounts of ammunition have been handed over by the British Government to the Provisional Government. I have, with the approval of the Cabinet, given authority for further issues to be made as required. The reply to the second and third parts of the question is in the negative. In reply to the last part of the question, I have no doubt that the Provisional Government, who are far more nearly concerned in this matter than the British Government, are taking all possible steps to recover these arms. I am informed that since the Treaty was signed 60 rifles of those handed over to the Provisional Government have been lost by them, about 600 taken from the Royal Irish Constabulary and 380 from the Admiralty.

Viscount CURZON

Do these figures include the armoured cars which were turned over to the Provisional Government?


One of the armoured cars which was lent to the Provisional Government in connection with the Limerick disorders has passed out of its control. It is in the hands of people who are in a mutinous attitude towards the properly constituted authority in the country. But it has been dismantled and the essential parts of the mechanism removed.


I did not ask the right hon. Gentleman about the Provisional Government, but as to what steps the British Government were taking to recover their property taken from Cork?


We certainly are not going to take measures in the interior of Ireland to recover these goods.


Is anybody doing it for us? Are the armies of the Provisional Government?


The Provisional Government are, naturally, trying to secure in their own hands and in the hands of their adherents all the weapons loose in Ireland at the present time. We must leave it to them.


Are they doing anything to get back the property stolen from our Government? What is the Provisional Government doing?


As a matter of fact, the Provisional Government have, I think, certain grounds of complaint against us for having allowed, no doubt under very difficult circumstances, these things to pass out of the hands of the British Government into the hands of those who are, at least, as much enemies of the Provisional Government as they are of the British Government.