HC Deb 08 February 1922 vol 150 cc134-7
Captain C. CRAIG

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information to give the House with reference to the organised attacks by Sinn Feiners on prominent Unionists in the Counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone last night; whether Mr. Anketel Moutray has been kidnapped and Mr. Carson, of Belcoo, has been wounded; whether attacks were made on Unionists over large areas near Enniskillen and whether the houses of Mr. James Cooper, M.P., and Mr. Elliott were attacked by armed bands; whether 11 assailants and three motors containing rifles, revolvers, and ammunition were captured; whether, at Belleek, Major Morrison's house was stormed; and, if so, whether every assistance will be given to the local authorities to hunt down the perpetrators of these outrages


The question has only this moment been put into my hands, and at first sight I am inclined to think that, as we have transferred the responsibility for these matters to the Northern Parliament, this is a question which should be asked there rather than here. As it is the first case of the kind, I will see if the Minister has any answer to this.

Captain CRAIG

In the very likely event of the perpetrators of these outrages having come from the Free State, and after committing the outrages, having returned there, have we not some right to demand from the Government assistance in bringing these people to justice, seeing that they are outside the jurisdiction of the Northern Parliament?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House)

I do not know when my hon. and gallant Friend was able to send notice of his question to the Prime Minister. I was with the Prime Minister not very long ago, but I have heard nothing of this question. Hearing it read for the first time in the House, I should have thought the view that you, Sir, took was right, and that it was a question not to be addressed to a Minister here but to a Minister in the Parliament of Ireland. I do not want to speak dogmatically about that, because I have only heard the question as read by my hon. and gallant Friend.

Captain CRAIG

May I first apologise for the shortness of the notice. I was only able to hand it in just before the House assembled. May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he can give us any assuranee in the case I have put before you, the perpetrators of these outrages having retired out of the jurisdiction of the Northern Parliament into the Free State, and we want to be able to look to the Government that set up this Free State for some assistance in bringing these people to justice.


My hon. and gallant Friend is putting a hypothetical case, which so far he has no reason to know represents the facts in the particular case. Under these circumstances, I think I might ask for notice of such a question.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

On the original point of Order, might I ask whether we are now in order in addressing questions about present and future events in Ireland to the Chief Secretary at all, in particular when we are making enquiries about the troops who remain in Ireland, whom we still pay I understand, or can you make any dividing line where the Chief Secretary, although paid by us in this House, is not competent to answer questions, and, if so, what is the line?


The hon. and gallant Gentleman's question now is quite different from the one with which I was asked to deal. I understand he is not referring to Northern Ireland.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Yes, to Northern Ireland.


I thought his question related to events which happened, or may happen, in other parts of Ireland. I understand there is a question on the Paper for to-morrow on that subject and it will be better to answer it after consideration than on the spur of the moment.

Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE

Is it not a fact that as British troops are now in the North of Ireland, Ministers here are responsible for them, and as they are for the purpose of maintaining order, questions with reference to order will be in order?


Does it not lie with the civil power to call in the assistance of those troops? I think it does.

Viscount CURZON

In the event of the British troops being employed, could you state to whom questions should be addressed with reference to the employ- went of British troops in Northern and Southern Ireland?


I think to the War Office.

Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD

Do we understand that in spite of the fact that Northern Ireland will be continued in its representation in this House, no question can be put in the House relating to either the civil or military authorities and their duties and administration? That seems to me to be a very serious constitutional question if that is your definite ruling.


All I have suggested is that when we have delegated a certain responsibility to another body, we have so delegated it, and in that body is the proper place where the question should be put.