HC Deb 02 March 1922 vol 151 cc599-627

(1) The Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland set forth in the Schedule to this Act shall have the force of law as from the date of the passing of this Act.

(2) For the purpose of giving effect to Article 17 of the said Agreement, Orders in Council may be made transferring to the Provisional Government established under that Article the powers and machinery therein referred to, and as soon as may be after the passing of this Act the Parliament of Southern Ireland shall be dissolved and such steps shall be taken as may be necessary for holding, in accordance with the law now in force with respect to the franchise number of members and method of election and holding of elections to that Parliament, an election of members for the constituencies which would have been entitled to elect members to that Parliament, and the members so elected shall constitute the House of the Parliament to which the Provisional Government shall be responsible, and that Parliament shall, as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, have power to make laws in like manner as the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted.

(3) No writ shall be issued after the passing of this Act for the election of a member to serve in the Commons House of Parliament for a constituency in Ireland other than a constituency in Northern Ireland.

Viscount WOLMER

had given notice of an Amendment to leave out Sub-section (1).


The first Amendment on the Paper is not in order because it would reverse the decision come to on the Second Reading.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "for a Treaty."

The object of the Amendment is to raise the whole status of the Agreement which has been made between representatives of the Government and representatives of Ireland. It is called a Treaty. That word seems to be quite unnecessarily inserted in the Bill. What has been come to is an agreement. Under the Constitution a Treaty can only be made between high contracting Powers and independent States, and it is not possible constitutionally for Ministers of the Crown or the Crown itself to make a Treaty with subjects of the Crown. If Ministers maintain that the word "Treaty" is properly inserted at this point they then, by their action and by the phraseology of the Bill, admit that the State which we are setting up in Ireland is a Sovereign Independent State competent to make treaties, and they further admit that at the time the Agreement was come to the Irish representatives had established independence and sovereignty to be in a position to negotiate a Treaty. There have been many previous Acts which have arisen out of Treaties. They always begin by reciting the high contracting Powers who have made the Treaty. I remember one, the Behring Sea Fisheries Act, which recites that a Treaty having been come to between Her Majesty the Queen, who was then the reigning Sovereign, the President of the United States, the Emperor of Russia, and the Emperor of Japan, all competent high contracting Powers of sovereign independent States, and it goes on to recite "these enactments are therefore made." But nothing of the kind is done in this Bill. It is therefore in a new and wrong form, and docs not conform with our constitutional practice. If we are to proceed in a manner entirely unconstitutional, contrary to law, and contrary to the practice of the Constitution, we are taking a revolutionary step, and it is for the Government to say why it is necessary on this occasion to establish a new precedent and to set aside everything which has hitherto been done according to constitutional practice.

I do not want to labour the question, but we want explanation and enlightenment as to the views of His Majesty's Ministers, and in the course of their statement it will help the Committee and help the country at large if they explain what authority the gentlemen who signed the Agreement had. Were they representatives of a high contracting Power? Were they representatives of a properly constituted Parliament, with a Government responsible to that Parliament, or were they merely delegates coming over on their own account, subject to agreement or disagreement at a general meeting which was held in Ireland lately? Then we come to the question as to what authority they have to ratify any Treaty. Was it representative of the Irish State which is being set up? It certainly was not a constitutional Parliament. The Act of 1920, which has not yet been set aside, enacts that there shall be elections held in a regular manner provided for according to law and that the elected representatives of the various constituencies should take a certain oath of allegiance or they were not properly constituted members of that Assembly. That was not done in the case of Dail Eireann. It is notorious. They never took the prescribed oath. It was never constituted according to Statute. It is for the Government to explain how that assembly can be recognised as properly representative of the people of Southern Ireland. These are high constitutional matters on which we may fairly claim a full and candid explanation, which I am sure the Government is willing to give.

4.0 P.M.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

On a point of Order. May I ask for a ruling as to how this Amendment is in order? I do not wish to impede it; I only ask for guidance as to further Amendments. The title at the head of the Schedule is "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty," and that fact appears to me to constitute a case for its being definitely scheduled to the Bill, and therefore, I submit, it is incapable of alteration.

Viscount WOLMER

Surely, if these words came out, it would not affect the Schedule?


The Noble Lord has anticipated my ruling. I should not rule that the words at the head of the Schedule, "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty," were part of the Schedule.

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

This Amendment is verbal in its character in this part of the Bill, and it would not affect the actual substance. In form, it would be very clumsy, because, as has already been pointed out by my hon. and gallant Friend below the gangway (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness), we should not be reproducing in the text of the Bill the actual title which the Agreement in the Schedule bears. Therefore, the Government will resist it. There is, in my view, however, a very strong argument in favour of inserting and even of dwelling on these words. This expression, "the Treaty," has become the foundation of the position of the political party in Ireland which is considering the Republic and which is seeking to establish the Irish Free State. When men have been dealing with difficult questions arising in this and that way out of the settlement, the common solvent of them all has been the Treaty. "We stand on the Treaty." "We must stick to the Treaty." That is our position, and that also is the position of the co-signatories to the Treaty on the other side of the Channel. The use of this word has a great sentimental advantage, and will aid us, the more it is used and the more it is dwelt on, to arrive at that satisfactory result which it is the hope of our legislation and of our policy to achieve. When you come to choose what words you will use, and when your actual position is not affected thereby, you should surely use the words most likely to help you to secure the goodwill, support, and agreement which you seek.

I have an experience which covers another case of a similar character. I remember well that when the Boer War came to an end the Boers made terms with Lord Kitchener and the British Authorities—Lord Milner—at Vereeniging, and for a long time afterwards there was a difference in official circles as to how that agreement, concluded at Vereeniging, should be styled. The pedants and those who wished to rub it in wished to describe the Vereeniging pact as the Terms of Surrender, and rigorously to insert it in the whole series of official documents, whereas those working for the reconciliation of South Africa always referred to it as the Treaty of Vereeniging, and as the Treaty of Vereeniging it stands to-day. It was on the basis of the Treaty of Vereeniging that General Smuts and General Botha came to our aid and maintained the Imperial authority in South Africa during the course of the late great War. This is one of the occasions when one should go out of one's way to employ a term like this when you are seeking, without concessions, without additional concessions in substance, to invest your legislation and action with the greatest amount of acceptability in the eyes of those with whom you are trying to effect a friendly reconciliation, and I earnestly hope that not only will the House decline to remove these words from the Bill, but that if, by any chance, we had omitted to put them in they would by an overwhelming majority have insisted on their insertion.


I listened to my right hon. Friend's explanation with great interest. This Amendment has the advantage of eliciting from the Government what is really their theory of solving the Irish question. It is quite apparent that the Government think that the more difficult the situation the more remote your declarations ought to be from the truth. My right hon. Friend laid it down that you should be as conciliatory as possible, quite irrespective of whether you are really conveying the true meaning or not. I am afraid that is an unsound method of solving the Irish question


That is not what I said; it is what you are putting in my mouth.


Yes, I know, because I am obliged to address myself to the ordinary canons of a rational understanding. My right hon. Friend says that he has had experience of the South African settlement. I thought that he was going to refer to that experience in connection with South Africa when his party used what he termed a "terminological inexactitude," because this is precisely that; it is a terminological inexactitude. It is a misdescription. Do you really mean to treat with the persons with whom you are negotiating as independent powers, or do you not? My right hon. Friend's defence really amounted to this. "We do not regard them as independent, but we earnestly wish that in Ireland it should be thought that we do. We propose to use language which will convey to the Irish people that we are treating Ireland as an independent power, though, as a matter of fact, we do not so regard it." I believe that is all quite unsound. I do not believe that it is true to the Irish character or to human nature at all. I believe that if you want to come to an understanding with people you should be scrupulously frank and candid. Like all human beings, they are quite capable of respecting frank and honest dealing. If you say: "You are not independent, but we are prepared to come to an agreement with you about the points in dispute," that is an intelligible position, but if you indulge in all this camouflage and speak of a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland which is quite unreal, you only bring yourselves into contempt, and you will only be driven hither and thither, because deceit is the natural weapon of weakness. I do not believe in this language. It does not represent what you really intend to say, and to found your fabric on what is untrue and false is bad statesmanship as well as bad morals.


My Noble Friend has put the situation in a nutshell. Of course, the real fact is that the Government are desirous of conveying to Ireland that, in their opinion, they are an independent country with which we can make a Treaty, whereas they want to tell the House of Commons and England that it is not an independent country and that they do not intend to recognize their authority. That is the simple fact. The Colonial Secretary commenced by saying that these words were only form. [HON. MEMBERS: "Verbal!"] Of course, they are verbal. Then he went on to say that it was necessary to do this because you must conciliate, I do not know whether he said your enemies or your friends, but no doubt it is the policy of the Government to "desert your friends so long as you can conciliate your enemies." That is a mistaken policy. These words, if they mean anything, mean that we are making a Treaty. With whom can we make a Treaty? Only with an independent State. Nobody has ever heard of a Treaty being made, shall I say, with Scotland since it became part of the United Kingdom. We cannot make a Treaty with New Zealand. Should we make a Treaty with Canada? We should make an agreement. We should make an agreement with Australia, and with any of our various colonies over which we happen, at the moment, to retain some vestige of authority. We should not make a Treaty with them. Inevitably, you are going to encourage those Irishmen who are desirous of separating from this country and becoming a Republic. What we want is to make them understand—I am not, for the moment, saying that we ought to go back on what we have done, though we have gone too far, and we do not want to go any further—that they are not an independent nation and that they cannot have a Republic. That is why I shall support this Amendment.


The Colonial Secretary in his speech used great violence in order to show that he did not understand the point. What were his reasons for resisting this Amendment? In the first instance, he said it was a verbal Amendment? It is not a verbal Amendment, but, if it were, what was the necessity for his extravagant violence about it? His next point was that it was a matter of sentiment. We have had a good deal too much loose, ill-directed, and foolish sentiment in dealing with Ireland. For God's sake, let us have no more of it. Let us come to realities. If we do, the Irish people will respect us more, especially the better class of the Irish people, and the British people will have a good deal more confidence in our wisdom than if we go on with this pretence and false sentiment. The Colonial Secretary's third point on which he became most eloquent was the Boer Treaty. Of course, it was a Treaty made with the Boers. The Boers were not our subjects. They were engaged in a war with us.


At the time they made the Treaty of Vereeniging they had already been for nearly two years formally annexed to the British Empire.


They were not our subjects. Therefore, it was perfectly correct, constitutionally and otherwise, to describe that as the Vereeniging Treaty. If that is the only analogy, the right hon. Gentleman is going to give us it is a weak one. This document, for which we are asked to give legal authority, is simply and solely an agreement between His Majesty's Government and certain Irishmen who came over here as delegates, though it was not very clear exactly what delegate authority they had, as subsequent events have shown. To call it a Treaty is a gross abuse of language. It is a pure falsehood. Who makes a Treaty? His Majesty the King makes a Treaty and he makes it with the sovereign representative of a foreign Power. There is no other Treaty known to the constitution; there is no other form of agreement that I know of between the King or Government of this country and the representative of a foreign Government. In that case, such an agreement is properly described as a Treaty. I am glad to see the Attorney-General present. We all respect and recognise his grasp of constitutional law, and his great fairness in dealing with these questions. Will he give us any precedent other than the present one for describing an arrangement between the Government and certain of His Majesty's subjects as a Treaty? Is there any such precedent in existence? If there is we shall be very glad to know of it, and it might have some effect on our Votes. The truth of the matter is this, that this Agreement was described as a Treaty, I do not say with the object of deceiving the Irishmen, but certainly it has had the effect of deceiving the Irishmen. When a certain section of the Irish people saw the word "Treaty," they said: "This is de factorecognition of the existing Irish Republic." It is for that reason, and that reason only, that the Irishmen welcomed the word "Treaty," and the sooner we as honest people disabuse them of the idea that they were a Republic, that they are a Republic, or that they are going to be a Republic, the better it will be for the good faith and honesty of this country.


Far be it from bystanders like the Labour party to interfere in the domestic differences of the two interesting parties who are at present engaged in denouncing each other. The man who interferes between husband and wife is likely to get into trouble.


There is no connection between the hon. Member's remarks and the question as to whether the words "for a Treaty" shall stand part of the Bill.


I am coming to the point. The question is whether a Treaty has been signed or not. (Interruption.)


I must ask the hon. Member for Rhondda (Lieut.-Colonel Watts-Morgan) not to interrupt the proceedings.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS-MORGAN

And may I respectfully ask you, Mr. Chairman, to direct your remarks to the other side of the Committee also?


If the occasion arises I shall call hon. Members on either side of the Committee to order. I hope the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Wedgwood) will keep to the question under discussion.


I cannot see where I have been out of order in my speech so far, and why it is necessary for hon. Members to introduce this somewhat acrimonious atmosphere. I was trying to point out that, while the various supporters of His Majesty's Government are trying to make up their minds as to whether this is or is not a Treaty, we on this side of the House are quite satisfied with the words as they stand in the Bill. In spite of all that we have heard from the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher), we are convinced that it is a Treaty that has been signed, and that it is as well that we should have the facts stated in this Act of Parliament. A Treaty has been made between this country and the Irish Republic. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, and it is useless for His Majesty's Government to try to evade the issue by saying that the words are merely formal. They cannot deal with this Bill or this Amendment without draining dregs of humiliation, that after having practised black and tannery for two years—


This is quite out of order. I must ask the hon. and gallant Member to keep to the point.


Am I not, in order, in discussing this Amendment, to ask whether this Treaty was not the result of two years of direct action?


It is quite impossible for the hon. Member to proceed on those lines.


In that case the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies was completely out of order in bringing forward the analogy of South Africa.


He would have been if he had alluded to the methods by which the War was conducted.


The analogy of South Africa did not refer to concentration camps, but it referred to the actual warfare that took place. It referred to the fact that there, as in Ireland, we had a war, and there, as in Ireland, we had to close that war down by a Treaty. I approve of the word Treaty in this Bill, because it does register the facts of the case, and whether it appeals to Irish sentiment or not, it is just as well that the people of this country should realise that they are not in this Bill making a gift to the people of Ireland, but fulfilling their part of a bargain between two free peoples.


I cannot imagine why a discussion of this sort should be conducted with the heat that the hon. and gallant Member has imported into it. Different views can be quite easily taken as between two different parties as to the correct use of language. If anyone will look, though I have not had an opportunity of looking, at any dictionary of the English language, I believe they will find that the use of the word "Treaty" in its primary sense is perfectly consistent with the use of the word "Treaty" as applied to this Agreement, and that the use of the word "Treaty" as being descriptive of an agreement between sovereign States is a secondary and developed use of the word. So much for the question as to the correct use of language. From another point of view it might very well be called a Treaty. It was a matter of grave discussion amongst some of us as to whether the Government ought not at an earlier stage to have recognised as belligerents the people who were carrying on guerilla warfare in Ireland. It is often a nice question as to which belligerents or sovereignty should be recognised. None of us desired to recognise the sovereignty of Ireland, but there was a real necessity at one time to recognise those engaged in the guerilla warfare as belligerents, who would have been subject to the ordinary laws and customs of war. As between persons who have been recognised as belligerents and a sovereign government it would not have been a misuse of the language to describe the agreement as a Treaty, even in the ordinary sense in which rebels who have attained a certain status may be free to make a Treaty with the sovereign against whom they have rebelled. But whether it is a misuse of the English language or not to describe this agreement as a Treaty, I cannot find any real objection to the insertion of the word "Treaty" in the Bill.


This is not a mere verbal matter, as was suggested by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. It is a matter of high constitutional importance. If this Bill receives His Majesty's assent it will be communicated by the King's Most Excellent Majesty. I should like to ask the Attorney-General the simple question whether it is competent or possible for His Majesty to enter into a Treaty with his own subjects. We have discussed from time to time agreements with large and important sections of His Majesty's subjects. A short time ago we had a prolonged discussion on a very important agreement entered into with the coal miners and coal owners. Would it have been competent to describe that as a Treaty. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] You may call a kettle a candlestick, but it does not make it a candlestick. The right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) asked whether it would have been competent for us to make a Treaty with Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, but this is a very much larger question, because the people of Ireland have never had colonial or dominion rights recognised before this agreement.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Gordon Hewart)

It is more pleasant to listen to speeches than to make them, and I was hoping to remain silent this afternoon. But several hon. Members have asked me, in a somewhat pointed manner, for an expression of opinion upon this question. I will express an opinion, and I hope I shall be forgiven if I express it in the shortest and simplest form. In my opinion this is not an occasion for constitutional pedantry. This Agreement, which is the Schedule to the Bill, is spoken of as "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty." I do not propose to be drawn into giving a general answer to hypothetical questions, but I will give an answer with regard to this Bill. The use of the word "Treaty" as applied to these Articles does not add any ingredients to those Articles which they do not otherwise contain, Und there is nothing in the smallest degree improper, if my opinion is asked, in the description which that Agreement has received. I would ask hon. Members to bear in mind one further fact. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, in reply to the Mover of this Amendment a little time ago, dwelt, and, if I may say so, quite naturally upon the sentimental value of this word in this connection. But it has also a certain historical interest, because if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will carry their minds back to the Act for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland, of the 2nd July, 1800, they will remember that that which was then done was spoken of—I admit the circumstances were not the same—as a Treaty of Union. If my opinion is asked as a Law Officer of the Crown, I think there is nothing inconsistent between the nature of this document and the use of this word.

Colonel NEWMAN

I do not suppose the Attorney-General recognises, and I doubt if the Committee recognise, what they are doing this afternoon on the advice of the Colonial Secretary. On Sunday next a great demonstration is to be held in O'Connell Street, Dublin, and it is going to be addressed by the President of the Irish Republic and by Mr. Michael Collins, the Chief Minister of his Cabinet. What we do to-day and to-morrow is to give that meeting a good send-off. We have to insure the success of the speeches of Mr. Griffith and Mr. Michael Collins and anything we say upholding them will be good but if it be against them it will be bad. That really is the position at the moment. As the Colonial Secretary has said this is electioneering. The object is to give an advantage to the Provisional Government, nothing more and nothing less. The Colonial Secretary talked about South Africa and the Vereeniging Treaty. In that case the Boers did surrender to us. Have we surrendered to the Irish in the late war? If hon. Members read a good deal of what I read in the Irish papers they will come to the conclusion we have. Yesterday, or the day before, the barracks at Athlone were taken over by the Irish Republican Army and the Commandant of that force at once talked about surrender. In answering a toast he used that word several times. If we have surrendered to them we are making a Treaty. If we have not been beaten then I submit we cannot make a Treaty with those who are still subjects of the King and of this Empire. I suggest that these words ought to come out.


I have listened with a great deal of interest to the answer of the Attorney-General, and, if he will give me his attention for a few moments I shall be glad, for I am anxious to pay him a compliment. There is no Member of the Government for whom I have a greater admiration, but my admiration every time I have heard him speak lately has been slowly ebbing away. I wish to put a stop to that. I had to comment the other day on the fact that he had spoken for a quarter of an hour without giving the House the explanation asked for. To-day one of my hon. and learned Friends put a pointed question to him, and he got up at that Box. He did not speak for a quarter of an hour—I wish he had done so—but in his short speech he was careful to give no answer to the question asked of him, i.e.,whether it was competent to use the word "treaty" in the connection in which it is used here. He told us with very great solemnity that, in his opinion, there was nothing in the use of the word "treaty" inconsistent with this Bill. That is quite a different point. We never asked him that.


What I said was that the use of the word in this connection was not inconsistent with the Agreement.


Yes, there is nothing in the use of the word in this connection which is inconsistent with the Bill now before us. That, I repeat, is not the question which we put to the right hon. Gentleman. My hon. Friend immediately behind me (Mr. Inskip) told this House that the use of the word "treaty" was not out of accord with the dictionary definition. I have no doubt he is quite right, but, again, that is not the point we raise. The question is not whether the word is rightly used in a dictionary sense, but whether it is properly used in a constitutional sense. That is an entirely different and very important point. When one Member of the Government tells us it is a mere verbal matter, and another tells us that it is not inconsistent to use the word in the Bill, they are both evading what is really the important point. The Colonial Secretary referred to the South African precedent, and said the word was used in connection with the Vereeniging Treaty. But there is another South African incident which I think has been mentioned by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), to which I should like to again call the attention of the Committee. What is really being done is that this word is being used deliberately because it has an ambiguous meaning. It is intended to convey one thing to Ireland and another thing here. That is exactly what happened in connection with South Africa—I refer to the incident in which peace was made after Majuba. On that occasion this country introduced the word "suzerainty," and I remember it being pointed out at the time by a distinguished statesman in this country that it was used in exactly the same way as we are using the word "treaty" here, in order that this country might believe we were retaining the suzerainty, whereas in South Africa people might believe we were retaining nothing. It was largely the ambiguity of this phrase on which the South African War later on arose I hope that no such terrible consequences will follow here, but that is no reason why we should not adhere to sound constitutional usage.

I think it an extraordinary thing that the learned Attorney-General, who should be the one to uphold sound constitutional usage, should not only give his countenance to this misuse of the word, but that he should, when pointedly asked a question, not have the courage to denounce that misuse. What I want to point out is this. In the original terms of the Treaty, as ratified in this House in December, it was stated that it was signed on behalf of the Irish Delegation. That has disappeared. I do not know why the authors of the Bill have not reproduced the whole of the original agreement, but they have left these words out. Nevertheless, we are entitled to remember how these Articles were signed. They were signed by certain Irishmen on behalf of the Irish Delegation. It says in the title of the Bill, "Certain Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland." The original Agreement, however, was not between Great Britain and Ireland, and was not purported so to be made. It was between certain gentlemen representing the British Government and certain other gentlemen representing the Irish Delegation. The distinction is a very important one. We know perfectly well from events that have since arisen that it is not beyond the grounds of possibility that these Irish delegates did not represent Ireland or even a majority of the Irish people, and, therefore, we may be put in this extraordinary position, apart from the narrower objections to the use of the word "treaty," that we are asked in the Imperial Parliament to give the force of law to certain Articles of Agreement made with individuals whom the future may show to have had no right at all to speak on behalf of Ireland or of the majority of the Irish people. We do not know whether they were clothed with that authority or not, and under these circumstances I say it is a gross impropriety to use these words in this connection. Under our Constitution it is the distinct prerogrative of the Crown alone to make treaties. There are certain circumstances under which such treaties have to be sanctioned by this House. I believe that, constitutionally speaking, this House is not called upon to sanction the Treaty unless there are stipulations in it of a money nature. An ordinary treaty is made by the King as head of the executive authority in this country, and it does not even require the sanction of Parliament I think the Government are not treating this point with the importance it deserves, and I hope we may have some other Member of the Government, possibly the Lord President of the Council to whom we always listen with the greatest respect on matters of this sort, to tell us whether or not this is an improper use of this word.


The Amendment which my hon. Friend has moved has been supported by the argument that a treaty can only be so described if it is made between representatives of two sovereign States and that the word treaty is not properly used if it describes an agreement between those who are not representatives of two separate sovereign States. I confess not to have known until to-day what is the full meaning of the word "treaty." When I heard the very powerful arguments of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) I thought I might educate myself by going to the library and referring to the Johnson Dictionary there. The volume I hold is dated 1827, and, therefore, the antiquity and strength of the precedent which was established one way or the other as to the meaning of this word is very important. This is what Dr. Johnson gives as his description and derivation of the word "treaty." It comes from the French "traité"and it is described first as "negotiation, act of treaty." That is illustrated by a quotation from Spenser: She began a treaty to procure established terms twixt both their requests. This refers to individuals, and not to sovereign States. Then the second explanation of the word "treaty" is this, and I ask my hon. Friend to give special attention to it: A pact of accommodation relating to public affairs. Not one word is there in either of these explanations about sovereign States. Then the last description is as follows: Treaty—supplication, petition, solicitation. So the description of the great authority on the meaning of the English language ends, and from beginning to end there is not a single word connecting the explanation of the word "treaty" with what my hon. Friends on the other side of the Committee appear to believe is a necessary derivation as an agreement between sovereign States. It is an agreement for the accommodation of public affairs, and if there ever was an agreement which might come within that derivation it is this agreement "for the accommodation of public affairs."


Considering some of the speeches we have heard from the supporters of the Amendment, the Committee seem to gather that the word "Treaty" implies that we are recognising the Irish Government. If I understand the spokesmen who are supporting the Amendment, that is their contention. There is another meaning which might be attached to this, and it is that we are treating with a nation. I believe the Government are doing right in keeping the word "Treaty," because it does imply that we are treating with a nation. The Irish people are not so much concerned at being considered as belonging to the Irish Republic, but they are very much concerned with being part and parcel of a nation. They are concerned in thinking that those who put their signatures to this Agreement really were acting on behalf of the nation, and were empowered to act on behalf of the Irish nation. I believe that it carries great weight, and on that account the word ought to be retained. We have been asked by some of the speakers to point to a precedent, and a precedent has been mentioned with regard to the Treaty in South Africa; but there is another precedent, namely, the Treaty of Limerick. That is not the first time we have made a Treaty with the people of Ireland. The Treaty of Limerick is valued by the country, and we have a monument standing in Limerick, and Limerick is known all over the world as "the city of the violated Treaty." I support the word "Treaty" being retained, and I hope the Government will stick to it.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

I agree with the Mover of this Amendment that the matter under discussion is of considerable substance, and I cannot fall in with the view of the hon. Baronet the Member for Maldon (Sir F. Flannery) that it is a matter that ought to be considered from an etymological point of view. I think the Colonial Secretary is absolutely justified in saying that the word had a verbal significance in the sense that it did not add anything to the powers transferred to the Free State Government. It is by no means right to say that it is unimportant, because the Colonial Secretary admits that it has a verbal importance. It is very important indeed; and I will only just say one word about the argument brought forward by the Mover of the Amendment that it was unconstitutional and contrary to precedent for a King to make a treaty with any of his subjects. The Attorney-General mentioned that the Act of Union embodied the Treaty, and then we were told that in the case of the Amendment that at that time the condition of Ireland was not quite the same.


The arrangement between Great Britain and Ireland was called the "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty."

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

These Articles of Agreement for a Treaty show that the matter is absolutely on all fours, and I thank my hon. Friend for having intervened. The only other point on which he and his friends are agreed is that they say the position is now different, and that Ireland was then in an entirely independent position. The Declaratory Act never abrogated the sovereignty of the King of Great Britain and Ireland, and it is absolutely contrary to the fact to pretend that there is anything new in our Parliamentary language in implying in the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty an arrangement of this kind between the King and his subjects. We ought not to treat this in a narrow spirit, because it is of great sentimental importance at the present time in Ireland. These words have not been put in by the Parliamentary draftsmen who put together this Bill, but they were in the Treaty as it was published and circulated long before this Bill ever saw the light. I would beg the Committee not lightly to vote for this Amendment, and to consider that any alteration in the Treaty, especially after what has been said to-day, must help the extremists, and must destroy the prospects of those who are working for a settlement in Ireland. I do not think we have too large a margin to spare. We are told continually that the Government has given too much away, but the Treaty was only adopted in the Dail by five votes. If we whittle away that which we have already given, probably when the Treaty in its subsequent stages comes to be dealt with in the new Irish Parliament we shall ensure its defeat.


The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down did not deny the importance of this question; he agrees that it is an important one. He tried to give us an analogy which I do not think has any bearing on the matter at all. It is true there have been treaties between two separate legislative assemblies such as in Scotland and in Ireland, but now we want to know exactly where we are. We must not agree to this or that simply because it is put down. We want to know where we are to-day. I am sorry to say that the lawyers in the present case have not really contributed to our understanding of the question. The Colonial Secretary plainly and frankly stated—I think this to be the gist of his speech—"This is an agreement. Do not investigate it too much. It may mean a little too much, but it is accepted favourably in Ireland, and it would be dangerous to examine it too carefully." Then we have the learned Member for Bristol Central (Mr. Inskip), who told us that he had not consulted a dictionary, and he did not give us that enlightenment which we needed. We want to get from the lawyers what is the meaning of this word in a legal sense. We want to know what the word means in law. The hon. and learned Member for Central Bristol tells us he thinks it may mean anything you like. It is one of the peculiarities of lawyers that they will hairsplit upon the exact meaning of a word if it suits them, but if it does not suit them, they tell us it really does not matter what the word means. Whatever we may think of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) this afternoon, as to whether his speech was quite worthy of his position, we know this at least, that he is determined on behalf of those for whom he speaks to press this word in its full meaning, and to declare to the world at large that we are making a surrender to a successful belligerent Power. These were almost the words of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. In these circumstances we cannot, whatever we may be asked, in our consciences agree with him. We want to know how far we are to be led. Willing as we are to support the Government, we cannot be led step by step further into difficulties, and into unconstitutional acts which may be dangerous hereafter.


Some of these Amendments are very important. On this particular subject we have had a most interesting Debate for over an hour, and almost every angle has been laid before the Committee. I venture to submit, in view of the many important Amendments on the Paper, that we ought to Divide.


Accept the Amendment.


The Irish delegates postponed the matter for two months.

5.0 P.M.

Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE

There are one or two points which have not been alluded to. This, we all agree, is a very important point. The Colonial Secretary said that it was a verbal matter, and the Attorney-General said he did not see anything in the use of the word. Treaty making, it appears, has been jealously guarded by the Imperial Government against the wishes of many of our Dominions. Canada and Australia at different times, through their responsible Statesmen, have endeavoured to negotiate them. Sir Wilfrid Laurier endeavoured to secure such a power, and the point also arose in connection with the request for a Royal Commission on the Federation of Australia in 1870. They asked for that power, and we refused to give them treaty-making power. Yet you are going to give it to Ireland. You are giving it to Ireland by the fact that you are making a Treaty with them which conversely means that they are making a Treaty with you. In connection with a Royal Commission set up by the Government of Victoria to deal with the federal constitution the Report actually states—in paragraph 20—that if they were conceded the treaty-making power, that would fulfil the conditions constituting a sovereign State, and the treaty-making power has always meant that the State making the treaty is a sovereign State. That has been the touchstone and the test by which a sovereign State is differentiated from a subordinate State. We have absolutely refused to let our Dominions have the treaty-making power up to now. Rather have we resisted their demands to get that power, on the ground that it was properly the prerogative of the Imperial Government. Whether we call it a treaty or not, this matter is one of importance, because it means that by calling it a treaty we do indirectly recognise Ireland as a sovereign State, and therefore the matter is far more important than has been suggested by the Colonial Secretary and the Attorney-General. The Colonial Secretary drew an analogy between this Treaty and the Treaty made at Vereneeniging. That was not made with one of our own Dominions, but with a people who were not our subjects at the time. It is quite true that we had anenxed them, but they had not acknowledged that annexation, and there is no analogy in that case, nor is there any analogy with the case quoted by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness). In that case there was an Act of Union; a consolidation was coming about, and you could not possibly be recognising Ireland as a sovereign independent State, when you were actually consolidating Ireland in the United Kingdom.

You may call this an agreement, a compact, a pact, a covenant, a concordat, or a bargain, or any other word you like, but the word "treaty" has been uni- versally recognised as showing the fact that people can make treaties with each other, to be the exact difference between a sovereign State and a subordinate State. Therefore this word is far more important than appears at first sight. If you look at Keith's "Responsible Government" you will find that the Imperial Grown has an absolute power of concluding treaties, and that there is no case yet known in which any treaty has been made without the consent of the Imperial Crown, even in the case of the treaty between Canada and France in 1907, made, I think, by Mr. Fielding. In that case, although the treaty was drawn up by the Canadians with the French Government, it was signed by our Minister in Paris, as His Majesty's representative, and, of course, that was done with the foreknowledge and approval of the Imperial Government, and thereby our treaty-making power was preserved. If you are going to allow that Ireland is in a position to make a treaty either with us or with anyone else, then you will find Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and all the other parts of the British Empire claiming the same right. If they cut away from the universal rule that we have maintained up to now, and get the right to make separate treaties, it is going to be a very serious thing indeed for the British Empire. It is only by keeping the treaty-making power here in the hands of the Imperial Government that we can keep the British Empire linked together properly. If they all go off making treaties in different directions with foreign nations, then the end of the British Empire is within sight.

Not only have we never allowed the Dominions to make treaties, but we have never, in any period of our history, made a treaty with any party within the family circle of the British Empire. Therefore this is an exceedingly bad precedent. Nor do I understand, seeing that the treaty-making power lies legally with the Crown, how this House, legally speaking, has any right to ratify a treaty. Although the practice has grown up in recent years of bringing treaties to this House for approval, strictly speaking, the legal constitutional power lies in the Crown. If that be so, how can the Crown make a treaty with itself, because the Crown is just as much the Crown of Ireland at present as it is the Crown of England? If this is setting up a new precedent, surely it requires a great deal more attention from Ministers, and I ask the Colonial Secretary to reply to this question as to the treaty-making power. Will he answer the argument I have put forward that the treaty-making power has always been kept in the hands of the Imperial Government, that we have never allowed any Dominion of the Empire, so far, to have the treaty-making power, and will he say why it was necessary to give that power to Ireland under this Agreement?


The insertion of these words does not convey any power. They deal with the closing of an episode. As far as the future is concerned, the position of Ireland with regard to treaties will be exactly the same as the position of Canada, Australia, and other Dominions.


The Colonial Secretary has asked us to proceed to a Division now, and I do not want to delay it, but he did so on the ground that we had had a very full discussion and very full speeches. Yes, but the Government have entirely failed to answer the questions which we put to them, and as the Attorney-General and the Colonial Secretary have both failed, I ask that the Prime Minister should answer them. I was going to invite the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but I see he has just gone. We always like to hear his views with regard to Ireland, and he is especially fitted to speak this afternoon, because he is not only a lawyer, but he has experience of Ireland. One statement has been made, which I cannot allow to pass unchallenged. It was made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness). He said we ought not to oppose these words because it was part of the Agreement which had been made, and the Agreement must not be whittled down. His point was that the terms we gave were so poor and so inadequate that they were only accepted in Dail Eireann by a majority of four or five votes. What more does he expect us to give? What more can we give? Talk about whittling down—why everything which could be asked for has been given. I can see only one advantage in leaving in the word "Treaty." It is one which appeals to me, but I am not sure that it will appeal to the Colonial Secretary. I am informed on good authority that Ministers who are responsible for ratifying the conclusion of a Treaty which proves to be derogatory to the honour, or of disadvantage to the welfare, of the nation are liable to impeachment. If the other arguments used by hon. Members have no weight with the Colonial Secretary, I trust he will consider that liability. If he does not answer the question to-day, at some future date he may be called upon to answer it in another place.


I only rise in order to refer to a remark made by the learned Attorney-General, which I suggest to the Committee was entirely wrong. He quoted the instance of the Union with Ireland. It must be remembered that after the repeal of Poyning's Act in 1782, and the establishment of what was known as Grattan's Parliament, Ireland was technically, though not really, a sovereign State and claimed to be so. The position of Ireland was precisely the same as the position of Scotland before 1707, and the Union was the only way in which the matter could be arranged, and the Union had to be arranged by Treaty, and the Treaty was practically made between two sovereign independent Powers. I think the learned Attorney-General did not state the precedent accurately.


The Union was a fraud.

Colonel Sir C. YATE

There is some doubt in my mind as to whether the Government in regard to this question do not speak with one voice on one day

and another voice on another day. There has been published, within the last day or two, the terms of the Agreement with Egypt. I see the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is here and perhaps he will tell us why Lord Allenby can be sent out with the terms of concessions to Egypt, and there is no question of a Treaty there?


Is this a discussion on Egypt?


Why, if no Treaty has been given to Egypt, should there be a Treaty given to Ireland? On that point I should like to ask what is the difference of status between the two countries which causes a Treaty to be given to Ireland and not to Egypt?

Brigadier-General SURTEES

I should like to say that the best evidence as to the original exact meaning of the word "treaty" has not yet been adduced. In the Library of this House there are some 20 ponderous volumes weighing considerably more than Johnson's Dictionary. The Latin word for "treaty" is fœdus and the name of this work is Rymer's "Fœdera." That contains a large collection of treaties—some hundreds of them—and not one of these treaties has been made between a sovereign State and a subordinate State. That is all I have to say.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 279; Noes, 58.

Division No. 23.] AYES. [5.13 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. William Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith- Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.
Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spenoer
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Bowles, Colonel H. F. Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale
Ammon, Charles George Bowyer, Captain G. W. E. Conway, Sir W. Martin
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Breese, Major Charles E. Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)
Astor, Viscountess Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)
Atkey, A. R. Briggs, Harold Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)
Bagley, Captain E. Ashton Broad, Thomas Tucker Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)
Baird, Sir John Lawrence Bromfield, William Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Brown, Major D. C. Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City of Lon.) Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H. Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)
Barlow, Sir Montague Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A. Devlin, Joseph
Barnett, Major Richard W. Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R. Doyle, N. Grattan
Barnston, Major Harry Carew, Charles Robert S. Edge, Captain Sir William
Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff) Carr, W. Theodore Ednam, Viscount
Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington) Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield) Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)
Bell, Lieut. Col. W. C. H. (Devizes) Casey, T. W. Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Cautley, Henry Strother Evans, Ernest
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.) Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray
Bethell, Sir John Henry Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood) Fildes, Henry
Bigland, Alfred Cheyne, Sir William Watson Finney, Samuel
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.
Flannery, Sir James Fortescue Kenyon, Barnet Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Foot, Isaac Kiley, James Daniel Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes., stretford)
Ford, Patrick Johnston King, Captain Henry Douglas Rose, Frank H.
Forrest, Walter Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Royce, William Stapleton
Fraser, Major Sir Keith Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)
Galbraith, Samuel Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale) Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)
Gardiner, James Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H, (Univ., Wales) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Gardner, Ernest Lloyd, George Butler Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur
Gee, Captain Robert Lloyd-Greame, Sir P. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Seager, Sir William
Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham Lorden, John William Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John
Gillis, William Lort-Willlams, J. Sexton, James
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John Lowe, Sir Francis William Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)
Glyn, Major Ralph Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Goff, Sir R. Park Lyle, C. E. Leonard Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)
Gould, James C. M'Donald, Dr. Bouverle F. P. Simm, M. T.
Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A. Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray Sitch, Charles H.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle) Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)
Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne) M'Lean, Lieut-Col. Charles W. W. Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)
Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.) Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D.(Midlothian) Smithers, Sir Alfred W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar McMicking, Major Gilbert Spencer, George A.
Greenwood, William (Stockport) Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)
Greig, Colonel Sir James William MacVeagh, Jeremiah Stanton, Charles Butt
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Magnus, Sir Philip Starkey, Captain John Ralph
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E. Mallalieu, Frederick William Stephenson, Lieut. Colonel H. K.
Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth) Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.) Sugden, W. H.
Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E. Martin, A. E. Sutherland, Sir William
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Middlebrook, Sir William Sutton, John Edward
Hallwood, Augustine Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Morltz Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Hallas, Eldred Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S. Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)
Halls. Walter Moreing, Captain Algernon H. Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Hamilton, Major C. G. C. Morris, Richard Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)
Hancock, John George Morrison. Hugh Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton) Mount, Sir William Arthur Tickler, Thomas George
Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness) Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers
Harris, Sir Henry Percy Murchison, C. K. Wallace, J.
Haslam, Lewis Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen) Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)
Hayday, Arthur Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh) Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes) Murray, Or. D. (Inverness & Ross) Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Hennessy, Major J. R. G. Murray, John (Leeds, West) Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)
Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon Murray, William (Dumfries) Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)
Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank Myers, Thomas Waring, Major Walter
Hills, Major John Waller Naylor, Thomas Ellis Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.
Hinds, John Neal, Arthur Warren, Sir Alfred H.
Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J G. Newbould, Alfred Ernest Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.
Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.
Hogge, James Myles Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster) White, Col. G. O. (Southport)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Norman. Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)
Holmes, J. Stanley Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John Williams, C. (Tavistock)
Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead) O'Connor, Thomas P. Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Howard, Major S. G. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Hudson, R. M. Parker, James Wilson, James (Dudley)
Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G. Pearce, Sir William Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)
Hurd, Percy A. Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike Windsor, Viscount
Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B. Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.) Wintringham, Margaret
Inskip, Thomas Walker H. Perkins, Walter Frank Wise, Frederick
Irving, Dan Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)
Jephcott, A. R. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)
Jesson, C. Pratt, John William Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)
Jodrell, Neville Paul Purchase, H. G. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
John, William (Rhondda, West) Raeburn, Sir William H. Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Johnstone, Joseph Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N. Young, E. H. (Norwich)
Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Redmond, Captain William Archer Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)
Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly) Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East) Younger, Sir George
Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)
Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Kennedy, Thomas Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich) Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.
Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S. Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.
Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin Curzon, Captain Viscount Jellett, William Morgan
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Kidd, James
Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Dixon, Captain Herbert Larmor, Sir Joseph
Banner, Sir John S. Harmood- Donald, Thompson Lindsay, William Arthur
Brassey, H. L. C. Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith Lister, Sir R. Ashton
Burdon, Colonel Rowland Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)
Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay) Gwynne, Rupert S. Lynn, R. J.
Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's) Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent) M'Connell, Thomas Edward
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.) M'Guffin, Samuel
Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)
Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South) Houston, Sir Robert Patterson Moles, Thomas
Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox) Poison, Sir Thomas A. Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.
Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley) Reid, D. D. Whitla, Sir William
Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Remnant, Sir James Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry
Nield, Sir Herbert Sharman-Crawford, Robert G. Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Oman, Sir Charles William C. Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh Stewart, Gershom
Pennefather, De Fonblanque Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Colonel Gretton and Sir J. Butcher.

I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "and," to insert the word "Southern."

Unless we insert the word "Southern" in this Sub-section we make a statement which is incorrect, as no Treaty has been made between Great Britain and Ireland, and therefore, if a Treaty has not been made, it cannot be set forth. I call it a Treaty in deference to the majority of the Committee, who voted, I think, most of them against their consciences, or perhaps I had better not quite say that.


On a point of Order. Will this Amendment put out of order an Amendment in my name, to insert at the end of this Sub-section the words Subject to the following modification, that is to say, Southern Ireland shall be substituted for Ireland in Article 1 of the said Agreement, and the said Articles of Agreement shall be construed accordingly. It raises the same point, and I would like to take your opinion, Sir, as to which is the better place in which to move it.

Colonel NEWMAN

On a point of Order. Might I ask if this Amendment rules out my Amendment to leave out the word "Ireland" and to insert "the Irish Free State"? Also, does it rule out my Amendment to add a new Sub-section at the end of the Clause in the following terms: (4) In the Articles of Agreement for a treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, Ireland and the Irish Government shall be held to mean the Irish Free State and the Government of the Irish Free State, respectively.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)

I think the Amendment now before the Committee would cover the Amendment of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. McNeill). It certainly covers the Amendment standing next in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman).


I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury suffers in any way, because, if my Amendment be carried, there will necessarily be consequential Amendments, which will carry out the purpose he desires to achieve in his Amendment. I was saying that I desired to see that this Clause 1 sets forth correctly what has taken place. The Committee knows perfectly well what has taken place. First of all, in the Act of 1920, two Irelands were constituted. There was the Northern Ireland, including six counties, and the Southern Ireland, consisting of 26 counties, and there was to be a Parliament in each. The Parliament in Northern Ireland was set up and is, I believe, functioning at the present moment. They have obeyed the Act of this House, agreed to by His Majesty, but Southern Ireland did not set up their Parliament, and they remained, under the Act of 1920, as governed by some arrangement—I think it was some sort of Crown Colony arrangement—which was going to be set up in the event of their refusing to set up their Parliament. They did not set up their Parliament, and consequently the Crown Colony arrangement ought to have been set up by the Government if they desired to carry out the Act of Parliament. As nothing would be more foreign to their nature than to break an agreement or an arrangement which was come to, I am really surprised that they never carried out that particular pact of the Act of 1920, but as they did not carry it out, what happened? The Southern part of Ireland was left in a disorganised state. We have the statement of the Colonial Secretary that the Provisional Government, or so-called Provisional Government, of Southern Ireland has no power. Until this Treaty is passed, they have no power and no legal status, and can do nothing.

I need not weary the Committee by pointing out that Northern Ireland had nothing whatever to do with the framing of this Bill, and not only did not agree, but -was not even consulted. Northern Ireland, after all, although the population is something like one-third of the whole of Ireland, consists of the flower of the Irish nation. I think my hon. Friends here will agree that that statement is correct. That being so, we arrive at the particular position, that although an Act was passed only a year ago by this Government giving Northern Ireland a Parliament of its own, Northern Ireland was not even consulted as to this Treaty, and it is perfectly evident you cannot say it is an agreement between Great Britain and Ireland. If there is a Treaty at all between two parties who are capable of entering into a treaty, it must be between Great Britain and Southern Ireland, and I am a little doubtful whether you can put into this Clause that there has been a treaty between anybody, because I do not think it is at all certain that Mr. Michael Collins and Mr. Griffith represent anybody but themselves, and, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel W. Guinness) pointed out, in that wonderful body, Dail Eireann, these gentlemen only had a majority of five, which, I think, was afterwards reduced to a majority of two. That does not make it look as if they were really acting, at any rate, for a large majority of the people of Southern Ireland, and today, so far as I can make out, the Dail Eireann is the self-constituted body. In any case, there can be no question that this Agreement was made between certain persons purporting to represent Southern Ireland and His Majesty's Government. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not regard this as merely a verbal matter, and that he will accept the Amendment.

Whereupon Black Rod being come with a Message, the Chairman left the Chair.

Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.

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