§ (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 he 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.
§ Mr. MOLES
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the wordsSubject to the following modification, that is to say, if an Address is presented to His Majesty under Article 12 of the said Agreement, the representative of the Crown referred to in Article 3 of the said Agreement shall exercise no jurisdiction or authority in or relating to Northern Ireland.I do not know whether, from the point of view of results, it is worth while moving this or any of the remaining 30 odd Amendments on the Paper. I notice that that sentiment is cheered most heartily from that section of the Committee most barren of suggestion. None 904 the less, we have a duty to discharge here, and, wherever there may be intelligence in the Committee, we shall at least have sympathy. Under the Treaty, there will be two functionaries representing His Majesty in Ireland in one person. There will be two sets of conflicting duties to be discharged by the same person, and the result almost inevitably will be to bring the two Parliaments and the two peoples into conflict. Under the Treaty, the Southern Parliament will have a Governor-General as Canada has, and that Governor-General will be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General in Canada is appointed. The Executive acting for the Southern Parliament will be consulted, and, as a matter of fact, its approval will be necessary before the appointment be made, because in Southern Ireland, no more than in Canada or in any of His Majesty's Dominions beyond the seas, would His Majesty's Government on this side of the channel be likely to resort to the insanity of appointing a Governor-General in conflict with the desires and wishes of the Irish Free State. The Governor-General, of course, will really be the nominee of the Southern Parliament, and they will take very good care to select a nominee who is known to be in sympathy with their views and likely to co-operate with them. For precisely the same reason, they will take good care to choose a nominee hostile to the Northern Parliament, to whom His Majesty's Government owe just as much duty as they do to the Southern Parliament. The Viceroy for the Northern Parliament will be the same person, but the nature of the duty and relationship he will hold to the one Parliament and to the other will be so dissimilar as to give another and a still more grotesque example of what my right hon. Friend on Friday described as "a real grievance and anomaly." We appealed to him to redress that grievance and to remove that anomaly. We now ask him to redress this one. I suppose we shall get precisely the same answer. It does not matter what appeal we make, it does not matter how hopeless the position which the right hon. Gentleman stands at that box to defend, how nonsensical and absurd the arguments which he puts forward to sustain an impossible position, he will do nothing. He is determined to go on with this monstrosity, 905 with this imbecile caricature of a Treaty, and to preserve in it all its original faults and remove none.
Let me illustrate to the Committee something which might happen. Let us suppose this case, which is not so remote from the facts. Supposing you have certain prisoners lying in a gaol in Northern Ireland under sentence of death; supposing within that gaol there are certain warders acting in collusion with a party outside. That party gains admittance to the gaol. They proceed to attack two officials in charge of the prisoners and do those officials, foully and brutally, to death and they are brought to trial. They are tried by a jury of their fellow countrymen, and there being no question whatever about the facts, sentence of death is duly passed. The Viceroy, in that case, would have the power to disregard the views of the judge who tried the case, and to disregard the Home Secretary of Northern Ireland, who is adviser to the Viceroy in Northern Ireland just as the Home Secretary here is the adviser to His Majesty in similar circumstances. You could set all law at defiance and make human life cheap by the action of the Viceroy using his power in that way. That is no imaginary case, though I have put it as, what, I suppose, my right hon. Friend, with his genius for phrases, would call a nebular hypothesis or something equally grandiose. It is not a suppositious case, nor is it an isolated case, because my right hon. Friend will remember another and hardly less notorious one. That is the case in which Larkin, a man who did more mischief up and down the whole of Ireland than almost any other human being who ever was there, was sentenced by a judge in Cork to be put in prison for 12 months, and within 12 days the then Viceroy, disregarding the Chief Secretary, and disregarding the judge who tried the case, liberated him and brought him to tea in Dublin Castle. Such travesties of justice—
§ Mr. MOLES
I do not care under what rule it was. That does not make it any better from my hon. Friend's point of view. He will agree with me, if he has the regard for law and order, which I suspect him to have in his heart, that that sort of thing ought not to go on, and that any Treaty, or any law, or any system of 906 Government which permits it, stands condemned by the facts. Let me take another case. What is called a football team is proceeding to a football match, and in order, I suppose, that the game may be played strictly according to rules, half a dozen bombs are put into the brake and the members of the team all have revolvers, and twenty or thirty rounds apiece—presumably because this is to be a friendly game. But the police happen to drop across this football team, and they are unable to find any place in the rules which govern the game for these articles, and they suspect that the purpose is really to engage in the gaol-breaking affair I have already described. They apprehend the members of the team under the law which precludes people from marching about in Ireland with arms and without proper authority. These men are brought before a magistrate and the magistrate, as he is bound to do on the facts disclosed, returns them for trial. The Viceroy, in disregard of law and everything else, in disregard of absolute sanity, orders the jail doors to be opened and these men to be turned out without trial on the one hand, or without honourable acquittal on the other. That, again, is no suppositious case. That is an actual case, and my right hon. Friend is perfectly familiar with the facts of both the cases I have cited.
Under this Treaty, that kind of case can happen just as often as the Lord-Lieutenant may choose to act in that way. We protest against it. I believe in his heart of hearts the right hon. Gentleman himself would protest against it. I remember one occasion upon which law and order were being defied in this city, and he gallantly went to the "front" on that occasion, and did not hesitate to face the rigours of war at Stepney. Recalling that case, where it was his own personal affair, I ask him to have sympathy now with those who are responsible for law and order in Northern Ireland when they are called upon to face such contingencies as I have suggested. There is no possibility of reconciling two conflicting duties in the same person. He cannot accommodate himself to hostile views as between the one Parliament which may adopt certain courses and the other which proposes to stand for law and order. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to get rid of that anomaly, and he ought to get rid of it, he will accept this 907 Amendment. If he wishes to perpetuate it, and make such cases as I have mentioned possible every day in the week, he will resist this Amendment. Which of these courses is he prepared to take?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill)
I am in agreement with the substance of the case made by my hon. Friend, but I cannot accept the Amendment as he has put it on the Paper, because it would constitute an amendment of the Treaty.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am willing to consider that. In the meanwhile, I wish to make it quite clear that if Ulster contracts out of the area of the Free State, as she will have a statutory right to do, and unless there is an agreement, we should regard the wishes of Ulster in this respect as decisive. I make that statement definitely. If she docs not wish the Viceroy or Governor-General selected for the Free State, to discharge these functions over Northern Ireland, some other arrangement will be made. I wish to make that quite clear. I still hope that by that time, which will be several months from now, it may not have been found impossible to arrive at a common agreement, but in default of a common agreement, some other arrangement will be made. The Treaty prescribes that a general adherence to the Canadian precedents shall be followed in these constitional matters, and, of course, in the appointment of a Governor-General for Canada, great pains are taken by those who have that responsibility to discharge to make an appointment in accordance with the legitimate wishes and feelings of that great Dominion. The Dominions do not seek to choose or to decide, but it would be extremely bad Imperial diplomacy and Imperial administration to make appointments which one had not ascertained beforehand to be in accordance with the feelings and interests of the Dominions. These are not matters capable of being reduced to a rigid statutory structure. They are matters 908 relating to smooth, convenient, administrative processes, and similar methods will be followed in dealing with the Irish Free State if, and when, it is fully constituted. I can quite see the difficulties which would confront the Northern Government, assuming there were great differences of the kind indicated opened up between the Northern and the Southern administrations, and if these very important functions were discharged by a Governor-General physically located in the area of the Free State. It may be that other arrangements will have to be made; at any rate, as far as the Government is concerned, we quite recognise that, in the event of there being no agreement, and a separate arrangement being desired by Ulster, effect must be given to their view.
§ Mr. O'NEILL
The right hon. Gentleman has been rather tardy in his admissions in the course of these proceedings, but here is a case in which he has promised a definite remedy, which is something rare since we entered upon the Committee stage of this Bill. He now undertakes on the part of the Government that if and when Northern Ireland votes itself out of the Free State it will be dealt with by the appointment of a Governor of its own. I suppose it would be impracticable to leave the Northern Government responsible directly to His Majesty, and I assume the right hon. Gentleman means that there will be appointed a Governor, or Governor-General, or Lieutenant-Governor, or whatever he may be termed, for Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has given us a definite undertaking if it is possible to give a definite undertaking from his position as Minister in charge of this Bill. Why could he not have given us a similar undertaking with regard to the boundary?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The boundary question is fully provided for in the Treaty. [HON. MEMBERS: "So is this!"] I cannot alter or vary that, but this does not affect the Treaty.
§ Mr. O'NEILL
This matter is in the Treaty. Article 3 of the Treaty says:The representative of the Crown in Ireland"—not in Southern Ireland— 909shall be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada and in accordance with the practice observed in the making of such appointments.It all comes back to the folly of the Government in having made this Treaty with people whom they knew were not the representatives of Ireland, and yet whom they choose to consider to be the representatives of Ireland. I should be glad to say that the representatives of Northern Ireland were, able to thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said, but so much has been said, and so recently said, in the shape of promises and pledges to the people of Northern Ireland, that it is difficult, even when the right hon. Gentleman makes so strong a statement as he has just made, to accept it without considerable mental qualification. On the merits of the case, there can be no question that an impossible and intolerable position will arise if you have the same man acting as Governor-General for Northern Ireland and the Free State.
There have been many rumours in Ireland and elsewhere as to whom the Government will appoint as the first Governor-General of the Free State. I even heard it rumoured they were going to appoint Mr. Arthur Griffith, and thereby, by one of those sublime gestures which are so often made to the Irish people, legalise at one stroke his claim to be President of that country. I do not know whether there was any truth in that. The only other names one has heard mentioned have all been those of people connected, not with this country, but with the Dominions. We heard the other day in the Press Lord Shaughnessy's name mentioned. I do not say that he or any other prominent Canadian, or Australian, or New Zealander might not be quite suitable as Governor-General for the Irish Free State and acceptable to the people of the Irish Free State, but the person who is acceptable to them would not necessarily be acceptable to Northern Ireland, and I venture to think, if any such startling departure from precedent were made, and if some Governor-General who was not accustomed to the constitutional machinery of this centre of the Empire were appointed, it would create an absolutely intolerable position for Northern Ireland. We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he 910 has said, so far as it goes, and I hope we may take it from him that it is a definite pledge—
§ Mr. O'NEILL
—a definite pledge that, if Northern Ireland votes itself out, the Governor-General of the Free State will have no legal or constitutional prerogatives or rights of any sort or kind in relation to the Government of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am somewhat amazed at the attitude taken up by the Colonial Secretary, because if ever there was a case in which he should have made no concession whatever, this was that case. In presenting the Amendment, the hon. Member for the Ormeau Division (Mr. Moles) gave a very lurid picture of the results of the conduct of the Governor of the Free State if he were to have the Governorship of all Ireland, and that is good for my argument against this concession. The hon. Member said that if a Governor-General were appointed, he would be appointed at the suggestion of the Government of Southern Ireland, and that necessarily he would be a strong partisan of the Provisional Government, and he said that he, as a representative of Ulster opinion, would not regard that position as one of safety and security for his friends in Ulster. What is the alternative position? It seems to me to be the characteristic of this Government to be always trying by some trick to satisfy somebody, and yet it never satisfies anybody. The right hon. Gentleman has not got any thanks for the concession he has made. Why has he made that concession?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend is mistaken. It is not a concession. It is the reading which we are advised is the correct reading of the Treaty. The anouncement which I made was not the result, if I may say so with respect, of the arguments presented by my hon. Friend the Member for the Ormeau Division (Mr. Moles). For more than a fortnight it has appeared on my notes on the Treaty, and it is the interpretation which I have placed upon it. Hon. Members will see from the concluding words of Article 12 of the Treaty that if the Northern Government exercise their option of contracting out of the Irish Free State, the area of the Irish Free State is diminished 911 accordingly, and the Treaty applies only with the necessary modifications—"and this instrument shall have effect subject to the necessary modifications." There is all the difference in the world between that and a concession.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Oh! I see. That is more satisfactory, but I would like to know what is precisely the position of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter, and as the Attorney-General is not here to make it clear, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will clarify the situation. It seems to me—and I protest against it—that the right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with this Ulster question, imagines that there is no population in Ulster except the population represented by the hon. Members opposite. When the Act of 1920 was being passed in this House there was a terrific agitation on the part of hon. Members opposite to secure representation for the minority in Southern Ireland, and they were magnificently successful. That Act of 1920, that most ineffective and ill-conceived Measure, which has nearly lived a year and which is buried without a tear from any party in Ireland or any part of the world, that magnificent instrument—I think that is the modern interpretation, the new orientation of Parliamentary oratory—that magnificent piece of Statecraft, the Act of 1920, has disappeared and is the contempt of all thoughtful, constitutionally-minded people. According to that Act the Southern Unionists, the Protestants, of the 26 counties, representing a population of about 400,000 in a population of 3½ millions, got an Upper Chamber so powerful and so reactionary that it was capable almost of nullifying the decisions of the majority of the people of Southern Ireland. I invited them at the time—and they did not respond—that in the spirit of their desire to have minorities represented they should do something for the minority in the six counties. There are 350,000 Roman Catholics and 800,000 Protestants in the area of the Northern Parliament, and what was the 912 character of the Upper Chamber which they gave us to defend the interests of the minority there, a minority crushed, beaten, and persecuted?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Certainly, and I have never gone into them, the reason being that there were no Members there to address if I went in. When I want to address the Ulster Parliament, I come here, with the Speaker of the Northern Parliament in the Chair. I would invite some of the English Members who are supporting the Ulster men to answer this: How is it that 400,000 Protestants in the 26 counties can get an Upper Chamber, made up of Bishops, and landlords, and Privy Councillors, and Die-hards, and Die-softs, in Ireland, while in the Upper Chamber for Northern Ireland we get not a single representative of the minority there?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
It is your fault. In the Act of 1920, when every effort was made to give representation to the Northern Catholics, they got no representation or Upper Chamber unless an Upper Chamber selected by hon. Members opposite. Therefore there are still 350,000 Roman Catholics in this area with a population of a little over a million, and they have practically no representation in that Parliament at all?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Does the hon. Member connect this matter with the jurisdiction of the Governor-General?
Certainly. I had no intention of intervening at all, but for the fact that it is quite possible, if there were an impartial Governor-General of all Ireland, and if there were some wrong done or persecution continued against the already persecuted Roman Catholics of Ireland, that we might have a Governor-General to whom we could appeal, and so prevent the military forces in this country from being sent over there to back up the Government of hon. Members opposite, but, instead of that, you are giving them a Governor-General of their own, if they want one.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Perhaps we shall be better able to discuss the separate 913 arrangement when we know what it is, but it seems to me a strange thing that, although the right hon. Gentleman argues that this is not a concession, it is possible for him to make this change, which is a change against the interests of the unrepresented element in North-East Ulster, to whom this Parliament should give some consideration. They have never got any. You are going to leave us entirely at the mercy of hon. Members, opposite, and we know what that means, and what to expect from them when they are in power. Therefore, I protest against any change, either in the spirit or the letter of this Treaty, if there is to be a Treaty, and, whether this is a concession or not, the right hon. Gentleman should be prepared to stand by the Treaty and defend it in every part.
§ Captain CRAIG
I am sorry the Colonial Secretary has not seen fit to meet this Amendment in a more friendly spirit. I do not suppose there has ever been a case where there has been such an important Bill as this before the House of Commons, in which the Government have made a declaration beforehand that not one single Amendment brought forward by anyone else than themselves would be accepted.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I really have never said that. I said that no Amendment which interprets, elucidates—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am in charge of this Bill, and must be allowed to go on in my own way. I would willingly accept an Amendment not in any way in amplification or modification of the Treaty, but this particular Amendment I do not wish to accept, although I am prepared to meet it in substance.
§ Captain CRAIG
The right hon. Gentleman tells us that any Amendment which either alters, modifies, extends, explains, elucidates, amplifies, or otherwise affects the text of the instrument, meaning the Treaty, of course, will not be received. We think that is wrong, but, letting that go for the moment, we submit that this very reasonable Amendment which is now before the Committee does not come within that category. It does not have any of those effects. It has nothing to 914 do with the area of the Irish Free State, but is confined entirely to the effect which the passage of this Bill will have on Northern Ireland, and it is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that at some future date the views that he has expressed will be given effect to. When is that to happen? The position is that this Bill, giving the force of law to the so-called Treaty, cuts across the Act of 1920 in a vast number of directions, and, amongst others, in this matter of the Lord Lieutenant. We are told in a general way that all these alterations arid modifications of the position brought about by the Act of 1920 will be duly dealt with on some future occasion. Sometimes it has been hinted that the matter to which we refer will be dealt with by the Act embodying the constitution of the Irish Free State. It is obvious, on the other hand, that a matter like this cannot be dealt with by the constitution of the Irish Free State. We assume, of course, that Northern Ireland is going to vote itself out of the Free State, and therefore who or what is going to be the representative of the Crown in Northern Ireland cannot be dealt with in an Act setting up a constitution for Southern Ireland.
Again, I ask, when are these matters going to be dealt with? Although the position in Southern Ireland may have been made clear by the Act confirming the Constitution, we see an indefinite period in front of us during which we have no promise, and no definite indication, as to when our position will be dealt with. That, I think, from every point of view, is extremely unsatisfactory. I can see no reason why this Amendment should not be accepted. We simply ask this Committee to affirm the principle, that whoever is to be in the position of Governor-General or Lieutenant-Governor, or whatever he may be in Southern Ireland, that individual shall not have anything to say in the government of Northern Ireland. That is a very simple proposition. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted the reasonableness of it. I submit that it in no way affects or alters the Treaty, and I cannot see why the right hon. Gentleman cannot accept it.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I merely rise to try to elucidate the meaning of the speech of the Colonial Secretary. I should, first, like to say, with regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin), 915 that his argument, as I understand it, is this: There is in Northern Ireland a majority which oppresses the minority. There is in Southern Ireland a majority which oppresses the minority.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
That is not what I said. I said there was a majority there which does not oppress the minority.
§ Lord H. CECIL
In Northern Ireland there is a majority which oppresses the minority, and the remedy of the hon. Gentleman is to bring in an impartial British official. That is a somewhat novel proposal, coming from the hon. Gentleman, as it has always been the policy of the Unionist party in respect, of Irish Government, that, as you cannot trust Irish majorities in the face of Irish minorities, therefore you ought to keep Ireland in the United Kingdom to ensure impartial government. I am glad the hon. Member for Belfast is making progress towards salvation.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
My point is that if you are to have an English official there at all, he ought to be an impartial person. If you take him away altogether, the Irish people will manage without him.
§ Lord H. CECIL
It is a step in the right direction that the hon. Gentleman says that an impartial English official has his utilities sometimes. I come to the speech of the Colonial Secretary. He says, in the first place, he cannot accept the Amendment, on the grounds with which we are familiar, that it changes the Treaty. He goes on to say that some remedy will be found which will substantially meet the difficulty, without altering the Treaty, and he calls our attention to the words in Article 12—continue to be of full farce and effect, and this instrument shall have effect subject to the necessary modifications.What is the right hon. Gentleman's objection to reciting in this Bill what are those "necessary modifications? I quite understand that to modify the Treaty might be contrary to the plan of the Government. I will not re-open that controversy on this Amendment. He says there is contemplated in the Treaty itself—and I agree with him—a certain power of modification. In certain contingencies modifications are to be put in. What is his objection to saying in the Bill that among these modifications is the one 916 recited in the Amendment? Surely the Amendment only says in words, which are sufficiently clear, exactly what my right hon. Friend says the Government will, in fact, do. There surely cannot be any difference in ethics, in reason or in policy, in announcing beforehand what are the modifications you propose to put in when the event takes place of the Northern Parliament voting itself out of the Irish Free State. Therefore, I do not quite, understand why my right hon. Friend, on his own showing, should not accept the Amendment. I should like to ask what Article 3, which we have under consideration in this Amendment, exactly does mean. It says:The representative of the Crown in Ireland shall be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada.That surely is not a very peculiar way of appointing a Governor-General. The Governor-General of Canada is appointed just like any similar official by the Crown, on the advice of the Minister.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Canada is taken as typical throughout the Bill, as we thought that would be the best model to follow. As a matter of fact the procedure adopted in choosing the Governor-General of Australia is similar to that in the case of Canada, but we thought, on the whole, the Canadian precedent was convenient, and adopted it on that account.
§ Lord H. CECIL
Article 3 goes on to sayand in accordance with the practice.That is redundant, I presume. The Treaty was written by people in a style almost as faulty as can be conceived.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It was written by people anxious to arrive at agreement, and anxious to put in the Bill words which indicated that those appointments would not be made without any regard whatever to the wishes or feelings of the Governments concerned.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I quite understand the Government believe ambiguity and obscurity convenient diplomatic methods.
§ Lord H. CECIL
If you say something twice over, people are apt to think you cannot be so silly as that, and think you mean something you do not mean by the second expression, and the result is 917 obscurity. That would not matter very much, except for the comment my right hon. Friend himself made. He said these things cannot be given statutory force and effect. Then, what is the purpose of this Bill except to give statutory force and effect to these redundancies and obscurities? You are to give the force of law to this ridiculous expression about "manner" and "effect," which mean nothing in particular, but something likely to soothe the Irish delegates at two o'clock in the morning on some night in December.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Then on some other occasion. It is in order to propitiate the Irish delegates. But why give it the force of law? My right hon. Friend himself said that you cannot give to language of this sort statutory effect. I wonder what difference there is between statutory effect and course of law. I only point this out because the principle object of these Debates is to show how very badly the Government have done their work. They have engaged in a most mysterious policy, and they have done it in a most clumsy method.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I do not want in the least to worry my right hon. Friend. He has, I admit, met us on this Amendment in a much more conciliatory spirit, at any rate, that he has on many others, but I really do not quite understand now the reason for the attitude he takes up. If he can give us the promise he has, that when the Northern Parliament have voted themselves out of the Free State he will make some other arrangements for Northern Ireland, why cannot it be put in the Bill? It is obvious that it cannot be a violation of the Treaty, otherwise he would be giving us a promise that at a certain time he would break the Agreement. He cannot do that, and I am sure he will see it is a little difficult for us to understand, when he says in one breath he cannot accept this Amendment because it would break the Treaty, and in the next breath he says he will do it in time. Why not say here in the Bill that one of the modifications you intend will be that which he has just promised? After all, where is the distinction? He cannot be accused by his friends in Ireland of breaking faith with 918 them if he does this. The speech he has just made will be published. They will know perfectly well that when the time comes he is going to do it. They why not say in the Bill he is going to do it? Of course, it is quite a different position from that taken up by the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin). He opposes the idea of there being any public representative of the Crown in the North of Ireland, and he does it for very extra-ordinary reasons. My Noble Friend (Lord H. Cecil) has pointed out one of them. I am very much surprised and very interested to find my hon. Friend, as the Noble Lord has pointed out, appealing to the British authority as the impartial authority—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
My point was that if there was to be a representative from Britain in Ireland, he should be an impartial one. I do not want him there at all, but if he is to be there, he should be an impartial authority.
§ Mr. McNEILL
My hon. Friend wants to have this impartial authority over two different States in the same island. He might be an entirely impartial authority in one area without being so in the other. That is not the only point which surprised me in my hon. Friend's speech, because he has complained—[Interruption].
§ The CHAIRMAN
I really must ask hon. Members not to interrupt, especially as they are not interested in this Bill.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The minority in the North of Ireland, the hon. Member says, are likely to be oppressed.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The hon. Gentleman is a Member of the Northern Parliament, and I think he has some colleagues. I should have thought the ordinary way of 919 representing that oppressed minority was to put forward his opinions in the House of Commons to which my hon. Friend has been elected.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
My hon. Friend knows as well as I do that a small minority in a Parliament cannot do anything.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I quite admit there are occasions when a minority, especially if it is a permanent minority, must consider itself in danger; tout I would remind my hon. Friend that he was a supporter in this Parliament of proposals for the government of Ireland which would have put those with whom I sympathise into the position of a permanent minority in a Parliament in Dublin. He knows that if he had his way, and there was a constitution for the whole of Ireland, the only effect would be that the minority of whom I am one would be in exactly the same position which he finds so very onerous when it is applied to himself.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
May I interrupt again? I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not mind; we are very good friends. In the 1914 Act there was an Upper Chamber which safeguarded the interests of his and every other minority; and in the Convention, of which I was a member, we made such arrangements as would have put the minority in Ulster practically on an equality with the majority.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I do not wish to argue the question further, as it would take up too much time, but I would only say how very interested I am to find that he relies upon a Second Chamber in order to preserve people whom he represents from oppression, and that, on this particular Amendment, he goes further and wishes to call in the prerogative of the Crown. It would have been much more in accordance with his views if he had manfully gone to the Parliament of Northern Ireland and, with his usual skill, represented the minority there and made his influence felt. He would have done more in that way than by calling in either a Second Chamber or the prerogative of the Crown. We really do not want to press the Secretary of State for the Colonies too far, but it would be very satisfactory to us if either he or the Chief Secretary would explain why it is that under these circumstances he cannot give us the gratification of seeing this in the Bill itself.
§ Major HILLS
I want to point out to my hon. Friend who has just spoken the extreme danger of what he advocates from his own point of view. He has pressed the Colonial Secretary to insert in this Bill one modification which must take place in the future He knows very well that if you insert only one of a series of modifications you may exclude other modifications.
§ Mr. McNEILL
While that is true as a matter of general interpretation, it is the simplest thing in the world, by a matter of drafting, to exclude that danger.
§ Major HILLS
I know the danger of the course, and my hon. Friend knows it as well. There must be a series of modifications in the Act of 1920 whether Northern Ireland contracts out or not, such, for example, as the case we discussed last Friday of the Council. He would be rather a clever man who could now say all the modifications which will be required—it would be a most dangerous thing to attempt it; it would be a most dangerous thing to specify one or one series of modifications out of the large number of modifications which are essential. I do not see how the Colonial Secretary could have gone further than he has to-day. He has given a most explicit pledge, and I am certain he would be very ill-advised if it were put in the Bill. I do not see how you can get any clearer pledge than you have got, and I hope the hon. Members who, quite rightly, have raised this point, will accept the assurance.
§ Mr. LYNN
The Colonial Secretary admits that the burden of the argument is in favour of the Amendment and that it ought to be accepted. The hon. Member who has just spoken says it must not be accepted because it would alter the Treaty; but docs not that leave us under the disadvantage that the Colonial Secretary admits we are under The hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) objects on the ground that the minority in the North of Ireland are not represented under the present system, but both the Lower House and the Second Chamber are elected on the basis of proportional representation, and my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division has with him a very large minority in the House, if they chose to exercise their 921 power and take part in working the Constitution. The Senate also is elected by proportional representation, and if the hon. Gentleman and his Friends are not in the Senate the fault is theirs and not the fault of the Constitution. One reason why it is impossible to have an arrangement such as is laid down in the Treaty is that you would be having a Governor-General who might have to accept advice from two Governments, and their advice on a particular subject might be diametrically opposed. I think it is laid down in Constitutional Law that the Crown must always act upon the advice of the Minister. If you are to have cases such as my hon. Friend the Member for the Ormeau Division (Mr. Moles) mentioned, to which of the Ministers is the Governor-General to pay heed? This whole Treaty is, I was going to say, an ungrammatical mass, and, certainly, it is a mass of absurdities. Let us have at least one Clause of it clear. I think the right hon. Gentleman could clear up this Clause by accepting the Amendment. I do not see that he can do it in any other way.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Durham (Major Hills) was, I thought, a whole-hearted supporter of the Treaty, but now he has explained that considerable modifications will have to be made in it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg pardon, I did not understand that; I thought he meant considerable modifications in this Bill, and I do not see the force of his argument. May I point out to my friends from Ulster what the real situation is at the present time. We have the Colonial Secretary saying: "I cannot accept this amendment"?—the usual argument—"it is a modification of the Treaty," and then he goes on to say this—I took down his words—In default of a common agreement in some months' time another alternative will be suggested.What chance is there of a common agreement in some months' time? He knows very well there is no chance whatever between Ulster and the Irish Free State. I do not say the Colonial Secretary is not absolutely sincere when he made his statement, but I have very often seen 922 statements like this made by Ministers. They have refused to accept Amendments in a Bill and have said: "That will be put right in another place," or "Something will be done to alter that," and in nine cases out of ten that something never is done. When the time comes we are told: "Oh, well, the business was so great and the Ministers were so occupied that it was really impossible to do it, and, after all, it is working very well now." Or Parliament may not be sitting; that may very likely happen. Or there might be another Government, and we might not have the privilege of the assistance of the Colonial Secretary. Then I want hon. Members to observe this, that the moment the Colonial Secretary stated that another alternative would be suggested, and said in substance what would be done, the hon. Member for the Falls Division, who, everybody will acknowledge, is one of the moderate Irishmen and most sensible Irishmen in Ireland, rose in opposition. If that happened with him, what would happen with all the other leaders of Irish opinion who are far more intransigeant and far more advanced than the hon. Gentleman. They will come down at once and say: "We will have nothing to do with it," and then what will the Colonial Secretary do? He will run away and nothing whatever will be done.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Cannot the Colonial Secretary give us the promise that, if he cannot accept this Amendment, he will bring up an alternative form on Report which will meet the difficulty? I understand we are in quite a different position on this Amendment from previous Amendments. In previous Amendments we have been told, "Carry this Amendment and you kill the Treaty." The Colonial Secretary says nothing of this sort in this case; he says, on the contrary, that the Treaty contemplates a modification of this sort—the modification referred to in Article 12. If that be so, would it not meet the case if the Colonial Secretary could embody in a Clause to be brought up on Report something of that statement, namely, that he admits that it would not be right for the same Governor-General to act for Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, and put that into the Bill? The hon. and gallant Member for Durham (Major Hills) suggested that another occasion would arise for putting in an appropriate 923 Clause, namely, when we were going to revise and amend the Act of 1920. I have not heard anything of a Bill being brought in for that purpose. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary will tell us whether a Bill is to be brought in. We have got the matter before us now, however, and I think it is far better that we should deal with it.
§ Mr. MOLES
Perhaps it may not be necessary to divide the Committee in view of the statement my right hon. Friend has made, but, as the Mover of this Amendment, I feel it incumbent upon me to be perfectly certain on this occasion that we have had in very definite and precise terms from my right hon. Friend that there shall be no hesitation upon his part, as representing the Government, to put that pledge into effective force if and when the time comes.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I interrupted the hon. Member when he was dilating upon that, and I do not see how I can allow this point to be pursued.
§ Mr. MOLES
I take it, in asking leave of the Committee to withdraw this Amendment, that I have the promise definitely and irrevocably from my right hon. Friend, and when I ask him for that I want to remind him of a long series of broken pledges dealing with Ulster. There was to be no automatic inclusion, no abrogation of our rights, no infraction of our privileges, and so on. Not one of them has been kept, and it is not very encouraging to ask me now to rely firmly and confidently upon pledges coming from precisely the same quarter. However, we have this in the sight of this Committee and in the eyes of the world, and we intend, if the occasion arises, to hold the right hon. Gentleman to it, and, if not, he will be answerable for whatever consequences may eventuate.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.924
§ Captain CRAIG
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1) to insert the wordsSubject to the following modification, that is to say, if an Address is presented to His Majesty under Article 12 of the said Agreement the High Court of Appeal for Ireland shall cease to exist as from the date of such Address, and Section forty-nine of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, shall be read as though the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland were substituted for the said High Court of Appeal.The object of this Amendment will be seen if the Committee will refer to the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, Section 38, which says:The Supreme Court of Judicature in Ireland shall cease to exist, and there shall be established in Ireland the following Courts, that is to say, a Court having jurisdiction in Southern Ireland to be called the Supreme Court of Judicature of Southern Ireland, a Court having jurisdiction in Northern Ireland to be called the Supreme Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland, and a Court having appellate jurisdiction throughout the whole of Ireland to be called the High Court of Appeal for Ireland.That Court of Appeal is one of the things in the Act strongly objected to, but certain vested interests in Ireland were too strong for us, and although this Appeal Court was quite unnecessary it was included in the Bill. As the Courts in Southern Ireland will no longer be appointed as in the past, it will be unreasonable altogether to expect people living in the Northern area to have to go before an Appeal Court in Dublin. The object of my Amendment is to do away with that, so that in future, if my Amendment be carried, an appeal which at present has to go from the Court in Northern Ireland through the Appeal Court in Dublin to the House of Lords, will go direct from the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland to the House of Lords. The Amendment is not unreasonable if for no other reason than it points towards economy, and does away altogether with an unnecessary stage in an appeal case. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, will not give the same reply to this Amendment as he did to the last, because this Amendment is one which affects the people in the North of Ireland as from, the moment this Treaty Bill is passed into law. There are, no doubt, matters in which litigants are considering whether they will or will not prosecute their appeal. Certainly 925 if they have to appeal to a Court in Dublin they will not do so.
It was open to the right hon. Gentleman to argue upon the last Amendment that he had not made up his mind as to what was to take place in respect to the Lord Lieutenant, and in case the Government arrived at the conclusion that the office should be abolished. Some people have suggested that the Northern part of Ireland should be directly administered by the Home Office, and others think that the Lord-Lieutenant should definitely function so far as Northern Ireland is concerned. If there are other ideas as to how the link between this country and the Northern part of Ireland should be arranged, well, these are all methods which, I admit, require a certain amount of discussion and thought. Here, however, is a question which does not require any thought at all. Everybody is agreed that this Court should be done away with, and therefore there is no reason against the Amendment which I have on the Paper. It does not affect the Treaty in any way. Its inclusion in the Bill will not violate any settlement or promise or pledge which the Government have given to this House during the passage of this Bill, nor to the people with whom they have conferred and with whom they have signed the Treaty.
§ Mr. REID
I should like very strongly to press this Amendment upon the right hon. Gentleman, because it is not a matter concerning the alteration of the Treaty in any way whatsoever. I think we can say that definitely. It is a practical question in regard to the administration of justice in Ireland. Under the Treaty the Free State has absolute jurisdiction in its own House. It will be able to set up what Courts it pleases and to abolish any of the existing Courts. The High Court of Appeal for Ireland was a composite Court, consisting of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the Lord Chief Justice of Southern Ireland, or a Judge of the Supreme Court of Southern Ireland nominated by him, and the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, or a Judge of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland nominated by him, so that it does not even follow that there are materials for setting up a Court. By Section 47 of the Act of 1920 it is provided that:—All matters relating to the Supreme Court of Southern Ireland, the Supreme 926 Court of Northern Ireland, and the High Court of Appeal for Ireland shall be reserved matters until the date of Irish Union, … but the constituent Acts or any Act of the Parliament of Ireland may provide for the amalgamation of the Supreme Court of Southern Ireland and the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland and the abolition or merger in the Court so constituted of the High Court of Appeal for Ireland …If Southern Ireland chooses to put an end to this Court, or the Court ceases to exist, then it will be impossible for the Northern Parliament to make any provision for that serious state of affairs which will have arisen. Under the Act which will still be in force in Northern Ireland a man may go to the Northern Court of Appeal, and then to the Appeal Court in Ireland, which Court will have ceased to exist. It would be impossible, then, for him to prosecute his claim to the House of Lords, because the necessary preliminary would be wanting. He could not carry out the statutory requirements of the case. We only want this purely practical difficulty we see ahead of us, when the Court of Appeal in Ireland ceases to exist, settled. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the words of the Amendment are too wide he can quite easily introduce some limitation. They are not too wide, we think, because by the Treaty the whole legal jurisdiction in the Southern Ireland is vested in the Free State. The last paragraph of the Amendment is really only an Amendment of Section 49 of the Act of 1920, which says:An appeal shall lie from the High Court of Appeal for Ireland to the House of Lords—in certain cases. It is simply to arrange the matter so that an appeal can go from the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland direct to the House of Lords. On the merits of the case, why should we not have this reform? I speak as one accustomed to a different system in Ireland. It has always seemed to me that the right of appeal there was extremely cumbersome. English people are satisfied with two appeals. The result of our Amendment would give two appeals in Irish cases and bring the matter into conformity with the English system, which is working all right. We desire to meet the technical difficulty which will stand in the way of administration of justice in Northern Ireland I unless some such provision is made.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Sir Hamar Greenwood)
Under Section 38 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, the Government established a High Court of Appeal for the whole of Ireland. My first point against the Amendment is: Why rule out the possibility of an agreement for an Appeal Court for all Ireland? Until the Free State Constitution comes before Parliament for approval, the 1920 Act holds the field, and no one is prejudiced. Therefore, as I say, why rule out the possibility of an agreement before the Free State Constitution is submitted to this House?
§ Captain CRAIG
I can answer that. The answer is that we in Northern Ireland have always objected to having this Court of Appeal at all. We have three Courts of Appeal, and we only want two.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
Why, I was saying, rule out the possibility of agreement of having one Court of Appeal for all Ireland. If it is to be ruled out, this is not the time to do it. The time to rule it out is when the Free State Constitution is before this House. If under that Constitution it appears to the representatives of the Northern Government that they do not desire a Court of Appeal for all Ireland, then steps will be taken to modify the Act of 1920, so that there would not be a Court of Appeal for all Ireland, but there will be one Court of Appeal for Northern Ireland, and from that Court of Appeal appeal would be made to the highest Court of Appeal here in England. That is what the Amendment asks us to do now. My point is that we cannot do it now. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I will tell the hon. Member why. Because the Act of 1920 stands until it is modified. [HON. MEMBERS: "Modify it."] Perhaps hon. Members will listen. Hon. Members have their own view. The Government view is that this is not the time to modify the system of judiciary in Ireland set up in 1920 and which gave powers to the Northern judiciary. I therefore ask my hon. and gallant Friend not to press this Amendment. The Government cannot give way on it. If when the time comes, namely, when the Free State Constitution is before 928 this House, the representatives of the Northern Parliament and the Northern Government insist upon having no appeal from the Appeal Court of Northern Ireland to any High Court of Appeal for all Ireland, then will be the time to put it right, and I will promise it will be put right.
§ Captain CRAIG
There is no necessity to wait five or ten months during which the Free State people are drawing up their Constitution for an answer as to whether we desire a Court of Appeal for the whole of Ireland or not. We shall not agree to that. We have considered that matter already, and we have decided that we have now too complicated a system. We have one, more Court of Appeal than we want at the present time, and one more than we think there is the slightest necessity for. The one we want to do away with is the All-Ireland Court of Appeal. The right hon. Gentleman says that this is not the right time to carry out this reform, which he admits will be carried out on some other occasion if we desire it. What is to happen to all the litigation which is to be held up for four or five months while Southern Ireland is drawing up a Constitution?
The moment this Bill becomes law the whole situation with regard to judges and courts of law in Southern Ireland is altered, and they become responsible to the Provisional Government. That Government can appoint all the judges they like, and we are to be asked by the right hon. Gentleman practically to give a blank cheque for six or eight months to judges and courts in which we may have had confidence up to the present, although we cannot say that we are at all likely to have confidence in them in the future. This is another case in which our Amendment can do no harm whatever to the Bill, and it does not affect the Southern area. It affects the Northern area, which will contract itself out at the earliest possible moment. If we are to be dealt with in this Bill against our will the Government should at least see that our business and ordinary daily avocations are not interrupted.
I see no reason in the world why this Amendment cannot be passed except that the Government has made up its mind to be as obstinate as a mule, and not accept any Amendments except those proposed by the Government itself. I cannot 929 accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that this matter will be put forward at some indefinite date. This is a strict matter of business. If the Bill is left as it is then it will inflict considerable inconvenience, and possibly expense, on litigants in the North of Ireland, and I see no reason in the world why because the Government have not the courage, or because they have not drawn up the Treaty in a more businesslike way, we should be put to all this trouble.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The signatories to the Treaty have already accepted a certain interpretation. May I point out that the Amendment, if carried, would not come into immediate operation, and it cannot come into operation until the Free State Constitution is passed? I submit that on this interpretation there is practically no difference between us, and I cannot see why the hon. and gallant Gentleman should press his Amendment.
§ Mr. REID
The right hon. Gentleman has raised this point before, and I think he must admit that this proposal puts us in a very awkward situation. He says that the Treaty means a certain thing, but I cannot find anyone who agrees with him, in fact anyone I consult says precisely the opposite. He says that the signatories have agreed upon a certain interpretation, and yet the right hon. Gentleman has absolutely refused to put that interpretation into the Bill. The Government insist on this Treaty being given the force of law in its present shape, and if this is done we shall have no security that any Court will adopt the right hon. Gentleman's view. If the Chief Secretary wants us to rely on the Government interpretation, the only possible way to do this is to put it in plain words in the Bill. The Chief Secretary says the time will come when we can make this Amendment in the Act of 1920, but does not tell us when. It is obvious that this change cannot be made by the Free State Constitution, because that will have nothing to do with the law of Northern Ireland if Northern Ireland exercises its option and comes out. I would like to ask, is there going to be a Bill running concurrently with the Free State Constitution Bill in which we can make the necessary Amendment? The right hon. Gentleman appears to me to be looking at everything from outside. He does not live in Ireland, and he is not affected personally, but if 930 he lived in Ireland he would see what an extraordinary situation he is forcing upon the people in Ireland, and Northern Ireland in particular. Northern Ireland is to be governed under an Act which requires modifications, and I would like to know if these modifications are going to be made by Orders in Council, and whether that is the purpose of the Amendment which the Colonial Secretary has placed upon the paper. I wish somebody would tell us where we are, because we do not know at the present moment.
§ Mr. MOLES
I am certain the right hon. Gentleman cannot have considered whore his arguments lead to. He says it is perfectly true that the contingency we speak of will have to be provided for when it arises, and he tells us that the Government will be ready then to accept our suggestion, but he states that the time for it has not arisen. Let me give a parallel. When the time comes to vote ourselves out of the proposed Irish Free State, in which we are automatically included, he has provided for that contingency by setting up under the Treaty a Boundary Commission. He contemplates that contingency and provides for it, but when we call attention to another contingency certainly not less unlikely or real, he says, "Never mind, when the time comes the Government will stand by you and see you through." Why cannot the two contingencies be dealt with on the same plane? If one is right the other cannot be wrong. If the setting up of a Boundary Commission is necessary to provide for one contingency, why cannot the right hon. Gentleman accept this proposal to meet another contingency. He tells us that we shall have an opportunity of making this Amendment when the Free State Constitution comes before us for ratification. But I would like to ask him is he in a position to bind the Free State in respect of that matter. Of course he is not. When he tries to put us off with ridiculous nonsense of that kind, he knows perfectly well that it is the merest eyewash. The South or the Free State will drafts its own Constitution, and when they have done that they will tell the Government exactly what they have told them already about this Treaty, that you must not alter, amend, elucidate, or vary a single phrase; we shall have lost our opportunity and we shall be completely 931 out of court, and yet the right hon. Gentleman expects us to be content with a position of that kind. He asks why rule out the possibility of agreement? I put to him why rule out the certainty of disagreement? Why not provide for it now, when you have a real practical proposal before you? You have allowed the Act of 1920 to go by the board. Are you now going to freeze on to this one particular thing and set it up like a solitary headstone in a cemetery? Are you going to fasten upon the North one of the Siamese twins of an Irish Court of Appeal, and expect the live body to carry about a corpse until it is infected with the virus of death? When you have scrapped nearly all the 1920 Act, why retain this? One might parody with appropriateness Dean Swift's bitter cynicism:Behold a proof of British wit!Here British sense is seen,When nothing's left that's worth defence,They build a magazine.What are the facts? It is admitted in view of the totally changed position and the obliteration of the old situation that what was possible under the old conditions is no longer possible under the new. This thing will be an absolute incumberance. The change we ask for does not run counter to anything in the Treaty. We are only asking for an Amendment here which is a variation which makes for administrative smoothness. An argument which ought to weigh with this Committee. Our proposal makes for cheapness and facility of litigation. It is no use telling us that the Free State will adopt our suggestion under the Act of 1920, and that they will desire to constitute the Irish Court of Appeal in the way we desire. They will do nothing of the kind. My right hon. Friend is perfectly well aware of that, and he knows that there is not a solitary sane reason under Heaven for resisting this Amendment. Our point has not been met by any arguments which the right hon. Gentleman has advanced. I understand that the Chief Secretary intends to resist this Amendment to the bitter end, and if he does it will only lead to one more line on his monument, "Genius perverted, and an avocation mistaken."
§ Colonel ASHLEY
There is one very important matter which was raised a few minutes ago. It was pointed out that 932 when the Bill came before the House for ratifying the Constitution of Southern Ireland it would be quite outside the scope of that Bill to make any modification of the 1920 Act, so far as it affects the Government of Northern Ireland. The hon. Member who made the point put this question, whether the Government intend any modification of the Act of 1920 as far as it affects Northern Ireland, and, if so, do they propose to proceed with it by Bill or by Provisional Order. It is vital to know whether the Government of Northern Ireland is going to have the advantage of a free discussion in this House of any modifications or amplifications of its powers, or whether the Government intends autocratically, and without consultation with the House of Commons, to proceed by Order in Council to whittle down or change the powers solemnly given under the Act of 1920. A strong and indignant protest should be entered at the failure of the Government to give information on this vitally important point. Are they going to break faith again with our fellow subjects in Ulster, and are they going to put them under the indignity of taking away their liberties merely by Order in Council?
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
The Chief Secretary has admitted that this Amendment is one which ought to be allowed to go forward. He claims, however, that it should not be made now, but by an Amendment to the Bill setting up the Constitution of the Irish Free State. I welcome that statement because it means—and I hope I have gathered its meaning rightly—that when the Bill for setting up the new Constitution of the Irish Free State comes before this House, we shall be entitled to amend it if we so desire, and shall not be told, as we are constantly being told on this Bill ratifying the Treaty, that we cannot touch it, and that it is beyond our power to alter it. I gather, therefore, that when the Bill setting up the Constitution of the new Irish Free State is before Parliament, we shall be able to amend it as we choose. Am I right in that conclusion? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give me an answer.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I did not say that Bill could be changed by this House. My point was that at the time when the Free State Constitution Bill comes before Parliament, that will be the proper time for proposing such an alteration as is contemplated by this Amendment. It will be the time when a change can be made in the present judiciary of Northern Ireland under the Act of 1920. When the Free State Constitution is before this House that will be the time to make any necessary modifications in the Act of 1920.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I am more mystified than ever. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that when the Bill setting up the constitution of the Irish Free State is before the House, we can amend it and put in what may be deemed to be reasonable. The right hon. Gentleman also tells us that when that Bill is before the House, this alteration can be provided for. But how is it going to be done? Is it to be dealt with in another Bill, or are we to be allowed to alter the Constitution Bill? The position is very difficult. My right hon. Friend says in the first place: "You must postpone this Amendment until the Constitution Bill is before the House," and now he says: "You cannot alter the Constitution Bill." When will we have an opportunity of making this alteration? I cannot for the life of me understand the right hon. Gentleman's position. I put it to him quite definitely: When the Constitution Bill is before the House, will there be another Bill running simultaneously to modify the Act of 1920? As I understand it, we can only make this Amendment in a second Bill, and if there is to be no second Bill, when will we have the opportunity of doing it? The right hon. Gentleman first puts forward an argument in favour of postponing this Amendment. He asks us to wait until the Constitution Bill is before the House. Will he give us an absolute assurance that when the Constitution Bill is before the House, there will also be another Bill modifying the Act of 1920, into which this Amendment can be introduced? He has admitted that it is a reasonable Amendment, and indeed it cannot be objected to on any conceivable ground, least of all by Mr. Collins and his friends, seeing that it does not concern them and that it solely concerns Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
I have listened carefully to this Debate, and I think my hon. Friends from Ulster have put forward a case which ought to be answered from the Government Bench. What is the Amendment they are suggesting? It is to introduce at this stage of the negotiations words which will make it absolutely clear that there shall be a Court of Appeal for Northern Ireland. As I understand the series of amazing speeches we have had from the Chief Secretary, we cannot possibly make this Amendment at this stage of the proceedings, because there is on the Statute Book the Act of 1920 which is so sacrosanct that we must not touch it. I thought the Act of 1920 was not operative at all in Southern Ireland. At any rate, the Chief Secretary has discovered that it is so sacrosanct that it must not be touched by any Amendment from these benches. If my hon. Friends press this matter to a Division, they will have the support of more than one of the English Members above the Gangway as a protest against the position taken up by the Chief Secretary. Every neutral observer in this Debate must have been entirely mystified by the attitude of the Chief Secretary. If he is sincere in the proposal he has made to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, let him agree to put these words in at once by accepting this Amendment.
§ Mr. LYNN
After the speech of the Chief Secretary, I think it is absolutely essential that this Amendment should be passed. He has told us we cannot alter the Constitution Bill for Southern Ireland, and supposing that Bill should include a Clause providing for a Court of Appeal for the whole of Ireland, what position shall we in Northern Ireland be in? We shall then be told that we cannot alter the Clause, and, judging from past experience, we shall also be informed that we ought to have pressed our Amendment on this present Bill. I hope Members of the Committee will support this Amendment and see to it that the situation is cleared of all the humbug and confusion which has been imported into by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The whole argument for postponing this Amendment is that there will be another opportunity, and a more suitable one, for making this change. The Government have been pressed to say when that opportunity will 935 occur. We are to be faced, it appears, with a Constitution Bill for Southern Ireland, which we are not to be allowed to amend. What opportunity then will be given for introducing this Amendment? I really think the Committee is entitled to an answer to that question, especially as it has been admitted that the Amendment is one which ought to be made at some time. The Constitution of the Southern State will be drawn up by representatives of that State without consultation, either with the Government or with representatives of Ulster. It is, therefore, necessary that the issue should be faced now. It does not affect the Treaty, it merely puts the Judiciary of Northern Ireland on a sound footing, and, surely, that is desirable if only in the interests of good administration. Every subject of His Majesty should have free access to the Courts, and why object, therefore, to the setting up of a Court which will settle most promptly any disputes that may arise? If this Bill is so sacrosanct that no Amendment is to be allowed, then we ought to be told by the Government when we can make this Amendment and how. When we come to the Constitution Bill, the Government will be so committed to the Provisional Government in Dublin that they will resist any Amendment, even though it may not affect the Southern State. The hands of Parliament should not be tied in the way the right hon. Gentleman is now tying them. It would only be an Act of justice to the Northern State to put its Courts on a sound footing so that its business may be proceeded with without delay.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GREGORY
I venture to make a few observations upon the position, at I understand it, with regard to this matter. By Section 49 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, it is provided that there shall be a common Court of Appeal for Northern and Southern Ireland. The portion of the Act dealing with that matter, however, has not functioned, because a government in Southern Ireland has not come into existence under the Act. We are now asked to ratify a Treaty with Southern Ireland. Northern Ireland does not, as I understand, desire this common Court of Appeal; while an hon. Member opposite stated, and I have no 936 doubt it is correct, that, when the Free State in Southern Ireland draw up their Constitution, the last thing they will want will be a common Court of Appeal. If they do not provide for it in their Constitution, there can be no common Court of Appeal, and when that happens some arrangement will have to be made as to a Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. Why introduce the subject now? Why, when we are asked to ratify the Treaty, attempt to amend, at a time which seems to me to be inopportune, the Act of 1920? Surely my hon. Friends opposite must see that, when you are dealing with the ratification of a Treaty as it stands, it is unwise and inadvisable at the same time to say that you will also amend some previous Act of Parliament. I admit the premise of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, that at some time this question will have to be dealt with, because Southern Ireland will not assent to a common Court of Appeal; and that time, when it comes, will be the best time for dealing with the subject about which, quite rightly, hon. Members opposite are so anxious.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down might be expected to know something about the legal provisions of the Act about which he has been speaking, but it is quite clear that he has never read the Act. His whole argument is that it is inopportune at the present time, but that at some future time, no doubt, Northern Ireland will want a Court of Appeal of its own. If he had read the Act he would know that it has one. The whole point is whether a Court of Appeal for the whole of Ireland should intervene between that Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. A very important practical point is here involved, which ought to appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman. Suppose that there is at the present moment, as there very well may be, some important commercial litigation going on in Belfast, in which very important principles are involved, and in which it may be of vital importance that the decision of the highest Court should be obtained.
What is the present position? Owing to what has taken place, the Court of Appeal for all Ireland is knocked out. Consequently, when a decision is given in my supposed important commercial case by the Court of first instance, one or 937 other of the parties appeals to the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland, and a decision is there given. It is very important to carry that to a higher Court, but in present circumstances there is no higher Court to which they can go. We do not want the Court of Appeal for all Ireland, which has been knocked out, but we do want that there should be a free course up to the House of Lords to get a final decision. That is a very practical point, and at the present moment that course of litigation is absolutely stayed. The answer which, I understand, was given by the Chief Secretary—I had not the privilege of hearing his speech—is not a sufficient answer to that. Even supposing it to be correct, it is not sufficient to say that at some future time the matter will be cleared up. You have no right to interfere with such an important part of the life of a commercial community, and to say that for six months, or whatever the period may be, there shall be no means open to that community to obtain the judgment of the highest Court. Therefore, even supposing that the half-promise which has been made could be relied upon, and that the difficulty would be cleared up some time next summer, that is not a sufficient answer. We are entitled to demand that when the Government—with, I think, undue haste and a want of proper consideration—have torn up the vital structure of the Act of 1920 without putting anything in its place, they should make good the defect, and should make some arrangement by which the ordinary commercial life of the country may be carried on.
§ Captain CRAIG
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after the word "if" ["If an Address is presented"], to insert the words "at any time after the passing of this Act."
The Chief Secretary, when he addressed the Committee just now, referred to the doubt which exists in the minds of many hon. Members as to when the month within which the Northern Parliament can vote itself out of the Treaty begins to run. He takes the view that that month does not begin to run until the passing of the Act confirming the Constitution of the Free State; we, on the other hand, take the view that it runs from the passing of this Measure. To provide against the idea that the right hon. Gentleman's view is a correct one 938 and that ours is wrong, and against the people of Northern Ireland having, through our inadvertence, to wait five, six, or possibly 10 months before the road is clear for anyone who may desire to take an appeal to the House of Lords, I desire to add these words. The matter would then be perfectly clear, and would be on the footing that, if our Amendment be carried, the Court of Appeal for all Ireland will disappear the moment we vote ourselves out of the Treaty. I do not want to say any more on this, as the arguments have been very well put, but I would repeat that it is monstrous if, because it does not suit the Government to put a simple Amendment like this into the Bill, the commercial community of Belfast should be held up for a great many months, possibly even for a year. We have no guarantee that an Act will be introduced making the necessary modifications and Amendments in the Act of 1920. We have no guarantee that that will be introduced at all, much less that it will be introduced immediately after the passing of the Act confirming the constitution of the Irish Free State.
Mr. J. JONES
I have been very interested in this Debate, particularly from the legal point of view. My knowledge of law has generally been gained in the dock, but on this occasion I have been very interested in hearing legal luminaries on both sides arguing against one another. I was under the impression that the legislation dealing with Ireland in days gone by was mainly compromise legislation, and the Act of 1920 was the greatest compromise of all. It was an attempt to settle the unsettleable.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order. Is not the question before the Committee at the present moment whether the words "at any time after the passing of this Act" be there inserted, and, therefore, are not the only arguments that can be used arguments in favour of or against the insertion of those words?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Sir E. Cornwall)
I think the right hon. Baronet is correct, but I do not know why he thinks it necessary to intervene.
I must plead guilty to being ignorant of the Rules of Debate as against the right hon. Baronet. I have only been here long enough to find 939 out how ignorant I am, and, therefore, I hope the right hon. Baronet will excuse my not knowing the Rules quite so well as he does.
I only wanted to say that I protest most emphatically against Irishmen in Ireland imagining that they are the only pebbles on the beach. There are a large number of Irishmen in all parts of Great Britain who are interested in this business quite as much as the Irishmen in Ireland, and whose interests and liberties are just as much affected. We thought the Treaty arranged between the people of Southern and Western Ireland and the Government of Great Britain was going to lead to the unification of the Irish people. [A laugh.] That laugh shows the spirit that prevails. Evidently people have made up their minds to put unification back in Ireland; they are determined that there shall be no unity, and that there must be "die-hards" on both sides. If that be the Treaty, then God help Ireland—and God help England too!
Scotland is all right, because Scotsmen always make the best of a bad bargain. So far as we on this side are concerned, we are not interested in these legal quibbles. Why should there be a difference as to the solution of the Irish problem? The Treaty provides the best way out of the difficulty. You are asking now for pledges, for anticipations. So far as the House of Commons is concerned, the Treaty is the best thing that has ever been done in connection with the solution of the Irish problem, and all parties ought to unite in carrying it into effect.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope the Committee will come to a conclusion on this subject. There is really no reason for the apprehension or mystification that has been assumed with regard to it. I speak, of course, with diffidence on matters which may deviate into a legal aspect, but under the existing system the Courts are 940 functioning as prescribed by the Act of 1920, and those Courts will continue to function until the Free State Constitution has been passed into law and has been passed through the House of Commons. Then the new arrangement will supervene. I cannot see how that imposes any anomaly or any undue hardship on any person, whether in Northern or in Southern Ireland. To introduce this Amendment into the present Bill would be most inopportune and inappropriate, because it, with other matters, will come up for consideration at the time the Bill giving effect to the Irish Free State Constitution comes for ratification into this House. There will be a Bill which will give effect to the Irish Free State Constitution. That Constitution will no doubt have been framed by those who frame it in Ireland, just as a Dominion Constitution would be framed in the Dominion, in consultation no doubt from the point of view of its coming within the limits of the Treaty, but it will be an Irish production. If it be within the limits of the Treaty it will be voted on by the Irish people, and if at the end of the election there there is found a definite majority for the Free State Constitution His Majesty's Government will take the responsibility of bringing that Constitution before Parliament in order that it may be ratified, and as such it will be incapable of amendment as far as the Government is concerned.
The powers of Parliament are unlimited. Parliament can at any time tear up anything. In its wisdom and in its pleasure it can destroy any arrangement or any constitution, but it is not always wise to exercise to the full the undoubted and the inalienable powers which it possesses. But although the Constitution of the Irish Free State will be presented by the Government as a whole to Parliament in the same way as the Treaty, and although we shall urge Parliament not to touch it in any respect once it has been agreed upon, settled and put to the Irish nation, the consequential reactions of that Constitution on Northern Ireland, if Northern Ireland opts out, or upon this country, will be the subject of legislation, either in the same Bill or in a different Bill, and that part of the legislation it will be entirely within the competence of Parliament not only to debate, but to amend, and the Government will not in any way 941 be in the same rigid position as they are in regard to the Treaty engagement. Then when that portion of our legislation, either the same Bill or a simultaneous separate Bill, comes before Parliament, this kind of question will be decided—what are the consequential provisions in England and in Northern Ireland in the event of Ulster exercising her option—that will be the time when these matters will be discussed.
Of course, when we say the Treaty is incapable of amendment, we only mean that it is incapable of amendment in the sense that we, the responsible Ministry, are unable to accept any Amendments. Parliament has full rights. But there will be no such tight limitation upon matters which affect Northern Ireland and this country. There we shall not be dealing with another Parliament. We shall be having the matter entirely in our own disposition, and there will be no question of having to obtain an agreement with another Parliament. The reactions belong to us. I hope we may await the time when this legislation comes before Parliament before we attempt to deal with these questions of detail, of which, no doubt, there are several. Amendments could, no doubt, be framed on various points on the hypothesis of Ulster opting out, as she probably will, and providing for the contingencies which will then arise, but I hope we shall not attempt to do it in this legislation. I am advised that it could be drafted in a certain way, but I hope we shall not attempt to write it in on the surface of this Bill. The proper time will be in a separate part of the Free State Bill or in a Bill passed at the same time.
§ Mr. MARRIOTT
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the Government will introduce a Bill simultaneously with the Free State Bill embodying such points as those raised here?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Yes. There will be a Free State Constitution, in the Schedule, and the consequential reactions of the Constitution upon Northern Ireland if she opts out, and also upon this country, will be dealt with in a separate part of the same Bill or a separate simultaneous Bill, and in regard to either it is obvious that it will not be open to the Government to plead that 942 those are matters in which their hands are tied.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
The right hon. Gentleman has, I admit, to a certain extent cleared up some of the mystification, but my difficulty is this. He has told us that when this Bill for the Irish Constitution comes here it will be put in the Schedule to the Bill, which will be just as unalterable as the Treaty. Of course, Parliament can tear up anything. We all know, as a matter of practical politics, that if the Government of the day say what the right hon. Gentleman said the other day, that if an Amendment were carried it would kill the Bill, kill the Treaty, and kill the Government, under these circumstances it is really idle to say that Parliament is free. We know perfectly well that it is not so. The position I anticipate with some anxiety is this. Supposing some such question as is raised in this Amendment is left, as it very likely will be, in the Constitution. The right hon. Gentleman says that is a consequential matter which affects third parties—this country and Northern Ireland—and that they will be open to amend. But it will not be open to amendment, on his own showing, if it is embodied in the Constitution itself, and what is to prevent it being embodied?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL indicated dissent.
§ Mr. McNEILL
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Does he mean to say that the case I am putting is not correct in fact? He cannot deny that it is a possibility. He cannot deny that it will be open to the framers of the Irish Constitution to put in a provision similar to this Amendment for an All-Ireland Court of Appeal, and if they do so it will not be open to this Parliament to interfere with it, except of course at the price of destroying the policy of the Government and destroying the Government itself, which Parliament would probably be unwilling to do, and it is quite certain that none of my hon. Friends who represent Northern Ireland flatter themselves that their interests are going to prevail with this House of Commons as against the interests of the Government. Therefore I do not see that the right hon. Gentleman has given very much security as to what will happen. When he says, for instance, that legisla- 943 tion of that sort will only touch third parties, that is equally true of the Treaty. This Treaty which we are considering now, as everyone now knows, affects very materially the interests of Northern Ireland without their consent and without their knowledge, and therefore there is really no security for us. When the right hon. Gentleman says anything that appears in the Constitution Bill will be open to amendment in so far as it affects the interests of Northern Ireland or of this country, that really is not so. I should like him to show us without any possibility of doubt that a matter of this sort, even if it were embodied in the Constitution, in so far as it affects those interests in which we are concerned, will be open to amendment freely and that such amendment will not be opposed by the Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If Ulster exercises her option she opts out of the Free State Constitution altogether, completely, in every respect and in every detail, and she is not affected in any way. Then will remain the questions indicated in the last line of Clause 12 of the Agreement. That part of the legislation will undoubtedly be a matter which we should be entirely free to settle as we please.
§ Mr. McNEILL
Why will Northern Ireland, after having opted out, be any more outside the purview of this legislation than she is now? She is outside the
§ Treaty. She is not a party to the Treaty. She is being dealt with by the Government against her will. The Government having dealt with her in this very high-handed way in the Treaty, surely is capable of being equally highhanded in the future. I am perfectly prepared to take the promise of the right hon. Gentleman so far as his own individual action is concerned, but when it is asked, on a very important matter of this sort, that assurances given in the name of the Government should be accepted by the people who are concerned, it is not unfair to point out that what the Government have done as regards Northern Ireland, in relation to this Treaty, she may very well do again. Her opting out will not take her any more out of the Free State than she is now.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
Question put, "That the words:
'Subject to the following modification, that is to say, if at any time after the passing of this Act an Address is presented to His Majesty under Article 12 of the said Agreement the High Court of Appeal for Ireland shall cease to exist as from the date of such Address, and Section forty-nine of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, shall be read as though the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland were substituted for the said High Court of Appeal'
be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 46; Noes, 243.945
|Division No. 32.]||AYES.||[6.30 p. m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Donald, Thompson||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Erskine, James Malcolm Montelth||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfleld)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Foxcrolt, Captain Charles Talbot||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Gretton, Colonel John||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfred W.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (LIv'p'I.W.D'by)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Lynn, R. J.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Willoughby. Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||M'Guffin, Samuel||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||Moles, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Reid and Viscount Curzon.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis D.||Barrand, A. R.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon, Charles W.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bartley-Dennlss, Sir Edmund Robert||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M.S.||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Breese, Major Charles E.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C H. (Devizes)||Bruton, Sir James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Buckley, Lieut -Colonel A.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish.||Bull, Rt, Hon. Sir William James|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas,, Gorbals)||Betterton, Henry B.||Campbell, J. O. G.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Campion, Lieut-Colonel W. R.|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Pearce, Sir William|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Hogge, James Myles||Pease, Rt. Hon Herbert Pike|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hohler, Gerald Fltzroy||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Blrm. W.)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Perring, William George|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn.W.)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Pratt, John William|
|Clay, Lieut-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Hopkins, John W. W.||Purchase, H. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hunter-Weston, Lieut-Gen. Sir A. G-||Rees. Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hurd, Percy A.||Remer, J. R.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hurst, Lieut-Colonel Gerald B.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brlxton)||Irving, Dan||Robertson, John|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F, S.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Johnstone, Joseph||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Jones, fir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Sllvertown)||Sexton, James|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Keilaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, George||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Shortt, Rt. Hon E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Kennedy, Thomas||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Kiley, James Daniel||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Fisher. Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George'||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Foot, Isaac||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontyprild)||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lloyd, George Butler||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Forestier-Walker, L.||Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Forrest, Walter||Locker-Lampson, G, (Wood Green)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Lorden, John William||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhlli)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lunn, William||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Waddington, R.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||M'Lean, Lieut-Col. Charles W, W.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Glyn. Major Ralph||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Goff. Sir R. Park||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Waring, Major Walter|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mallalleu, Frederick William||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Green, Albert (Derby)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Manville, Edward||Wignall, James|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Williams, Aneurln (Durham, Consettl|
|Gregory, Holman||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Montagu, Rt Hon. E. S.||Windsor, Viscount|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Winterton, Earl|
|Grundy, T. W.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Morris, Richard||Wise, Frederick|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Morrison, Hugh||Wood, Hon. Edward F L. (Ripon)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Myers, Thomas||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hancock, John George||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Neal, Arthur||Yeo, Sir A. W.|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hayward, Evan||Newson, Sir Percy W.||Younger, Sir George|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Hennessy, Major J, R. G.||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Parker, James|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)|
§ Mr. REID
I beg to move, at the end of Subsection (1), to add the words:subject to the following modification, that is to say, representatives of the Government of Northern Ireland shall be entitled to take part in the conference mentioned in Article 6 of the said Agreement.946 By Article 6 provision is made The Article says:Until an arrangement has been made between the British and Irish Governments whereby the Irish Free State undertakes her own coastal defence, the defence by sea of Great Britain and Ireland shall be undertaken by His Majesty's Imperial Forces, but 947 this shall not prevent the construction or maintenance by the Government of the Irish Free State of such vessels as are necessary for the protection of the Revenue or the Fisheries.The foregoing provisions of this Article shall be reviewed at a conference of Representatives of the British and Irish Governments to be held at the expiration of five years from the date hereof with a view to the undertaking by Ireland of a share in her own coastal defence.In this matter of the Irish Free State taking over its own coastal defence, Northern Ireland has a direct interest, because Northern Ireland has a land frontier with the Irish Free State. Therefore the Irish Free State could always open a back door to an invader. Here is an Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman might accept, because the Article says that there is to bea conference of Representatives of the British and Irish Governments,If Northern Ireland opts out of the Free State it will, for many purposes, be still part of the United Kingdom, and among these Imperial matters are naval affairs. Therefore the representatives of the British Government at the Conference will represent Northern Ireland, and we ask that one of those representatives should be a person nominated by the Government of Northern Ireland. We have been told many times in the last few weeks what happens to people who stay away from conferences. It has been suggested that Sir James Craig might have been in the fateful Conference and that we might have been in a better position in that case. Now, we want to profit by the lesson that has been put before us so many times, and we want to have a representative at the Conference of representatives in regard to the question of coastal defence. This Amendment in no way interferes with the Treaty. It is simply a concession by the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the British Government, saying that one of the British representatives shall be a person chosen by Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I cannot accept this Amendment. I do not think it is necessary. I do not feel that there can be any real anxiety. If Northern Ireland exercises her option and stands out of the Free State, the defence of the coast of Northern Ireland is the inalienable, indefeasible responsibility of the Royal 948 Navy, and as such it must be and will be discharged. In regard to what my hon. Friend suggested about the flanks of their line being turned from the sea by the Free State Navy, my answer is that should such circumstances arise, the resources of the not inadequate naval establishment of this powerful country will be available to cope with such forms of attack, and I have no doubt that they will be sufficient to resist them effectively. If Ulster exercises her option to back out, she will have her representatives in this House, and she will be in a position to press her case. No doubt her representatives and members of her Government will be in touch with the Admiralty in the future as they have been in the past, and I do not think there is any danger whatever of their special views being overlooked. I do not think that Ulster can do better than rely upon the influence which they will certainly command upon the Government of this country, upon this House, and upon the Admiralty. The representatives of any Dominion Government or any quasiDominion Government always have access here and will always meet with a cordial reception.
§ Mr. MOLES
Surely my right hon. Friend involved himself somewhat in this arguments. He told us that we must not have representation in the Conference in respect of these vital matters, and in the same breath he assured us that though the Government of Northern Ireland could not have representation the Government of Northern Ireland would none the less be called into consultation. If he intends in the contingency contemplated by this Amendment that he will consult and confer with the representatives of the Government of Northern Ireland, what is the objection to this Amendment? If he means to call our representatives in, why does he not write it? Why does he not give us the pledge that that will be done? Look at the position in which we are placed. Forty-four per cent, of the Imperial contribution from Ireland will come from the six counties. The Government of the 26 counties, which only contribute 56 per cent, are to be called in as representing a sovereign state to confer upon this vital matter, but we who contribute 44 per cent., and have some interests that are absolutely vital to Ireland, and in some senses vital to the nation, are not to have any representation 949 at all. Take our shipyards, the greatest, not only in the three kingdoms, but in the whole world. How vital it was to the Empire in the years down to the close of 1919 that they should be kept going. In the contingency which we contemplate in this Amendment, we are to call upon the British Navy, I suppose, long after the mischief has been done. It would be within the province of the Free State Government to have 12 submarines and send them into our harbours, to destroy the gigantic gantries, the tremendous engine works, and the mighty electric light station now nearing completion there, which would be all reduced to dust while we would be sending out our message to the right hon. Gentleman, who would arrive two or three days after the whole damage had been done. When this concerns us so much, and so much is at stake, the loyal people of Ulster ought to be given the same right to confer as it is proposed to give to those who have been hostile to you. The attitude of sheer negation taken up by the right hon. Gentleman is altogther unworthy of him and unfair to us.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ASHLEY
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman appreciated the point of this Amendment. My hon. Friend argues that one or two of the representatives who, after the five years, will represent the British Government should be either agreeable to the Government of Northern Ireland, or representatives appointed by them. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the British Navy will guard the coasts of Ulster. Probably it will if the reductions in the Navy do not go too far, but the danger which I apprehend is not that the coasts of Ulster will not be efficiently guarded by His Majesty's Navy, but that after these five years, if certain duties regarding the rest of the Irish coast are handed over to the Free State Government, those duties may not be properly performed. They say: "We have no guarantee that when you withdraw the British Navy to a large extent from guarding the coast, the Government in Southern Ireland, though it may have the will, shall be able to guard our shores from invasion by a foreign power." It may be easy for England to take a detached view of that contingency, but it is very difficult for people living in the North of that small island, who would be in danger 950 of having their flank turned by a foreign invader who had landed in Southern Ireland, so that they in the North might find themselves invaded on the land side. This is a very reasonable request. It does not cut across the Treaty in any way. It would make the representatives of the Northern Government happier and easier in their mind, and is one of those requests which the right hon. Gentleman should grant. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government in regarding the whole of this Bill as something sacrosanct. What is the use of discussing it at all? Why not bring in a Closure Motion and pass the entire Bill as it stands? Why waste one or two days in debating it? The right hon. Gentleman says that he stands by the principle of the Bill. But I cannot understand why verbal Amendments which do not affect the principle are not accepted. By wasting three or four days of Parliamentary time, when the Government are accepting no Amendment, they are making a farce of the whole thing.
§ Captain CRAIG
This Amendment deals also with the question of fisheries, and embodies a very moderate and reasonable request to which, in a conference between representatives of British and Irish interests to review the provisions with reference to coastal defence and fisheries, the Government might very well agree. The latter part of Clause VI deals with the holding of a conference to review those matters.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
There is an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Lynn) which deals with this question.
§ Captain CRAIG
This is a different point. There is going to be set up, some years after the coming into force of the Act confirming the Constitution, a conference dealing with these questions of fisheries and coastal defence. Fisheries are a purely local matter about which the people of Northern Ireland must know a great deal more than some of the people appointed from Westminster. It is an entirely reasonable suggestion, but as time is getting on and the Amendment will not be accepted, I desire, if it be permissible, to withdraw it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not know whether the Committee appreciates what the Colonial Secretary said that, when 951 the conference takes place, the Ulster members need have no fear of anything being done against their interests, because they would have representatives in this House who would look after their interests, and the Navy would be sufficiently strong to protect them. I hope that it will, but the danger is that when a conference takes place an agreement will be arrived at between representatives of the Irish State and representatives of the English Government, and if that agreement cannot be altered, what is the use of Ulster members having representatives in this House so far as that agreement is concerned? There may be something in that agreement which may say that the Navy may not go beyond a certain point of the coast. Then, what is the use of the Navy in these operations? It seems to me that my hon. Friend did not quite understand what the Colonial Secretary said. Unless we are very careful, in five years we shall be in exactly the same position as that in which we are now, and we shall be told: "This is a Treaty, and you cannot alter it." We know what happens. There are 80 Members in the House, of whom 40 are against the Government, and then there are another 240, as in the last Division, who are outside and who vote, knowing nothing whatever of what has been going on in this House.
§ Amendment negatived.
I beg to move, at at the end of Sub-section (1), to add the wordsProvided that nothing in this Act or in the said Articles of Agreement shall be construed as enabling the Parliament of the Irish Free State or the Parliament of Northern Ireland to establish any religion or to make any religious belief or religious ceremony a condition of the validity of any marriage.The subject matter of this Amendment has been debated frequently in this House. It was debated on the Home Rule Bills of 1886, 1892, 1912 and 1920. I now raise the question, I hope, for the last time. I admit that in the powers conceded to any Dominion Government the laws relating to marriage have always 952 been included. But though that has been the case, yet in every case in which this House had to discuss a Bill conferring Home Rule of any sort on Ireland, those powers have always been reserved to the Imperial Parliament. Even in the Act of 1920, under Section 5, the powers of dealing with marriage, the establishment or endowment of religion, and so forth, are reserved to the Imperial Parliament. Even in this particular Treaty, Article 16 provides that the greater part of Section 5 of the Act of 1920 shall be adopted. There are one or two exceptions. Under Section 5 the Parliaments in Ireland are forbidden to establish or endow any religion or to give any preference or privilege or advantage. They are also forbidden to make any religious belief or ceremony a condition for the validity of any marriage. But while in the main. Section 5 has been copied into Article 16 of this Treaty, for some reason which I do not understand certain words have been left out. While the endowment of any religion and the giving of any preference are forbidden, "establishment is left out." This means that the Government of the Irish Free State will be able to establish a certain religion as the religion of the State. If they be allowed to do that under the Treaty, probably they will do it.
The word "privilege" is also left out of Article 16. What "privilege" means exactly I do not know. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary will tell me why "privilege" is put into Section 5 and is left out of Article 16? I now come to a more important point. Why were these particular words, as to the making of any religious belief or ceremony a condition of the validity of any marriage, left out of Article 16? To us in the South of Ireland who will be the future Protestant subjects of this Irish Free State that is a very vital omission. I do not wish to attack any man's religion. I have dwelt during most of the years of my life with my fellow Roman Catholic subjects in the South of Ireland, and I should be the last man in the world to wish to attack any man for his religion. But we Irish Protestants who come from the South are Protestants, and we do not intend to give to the very able battalion who select the Pope any more allegiance than we are going to give to the President of an Irish Republic. We 953 do not wish to attack religion, but we have the experience of what the Roman Catholic religion stands for on this particular point. We know the Ne Temere decree published in 1908, and that decree in Ireland has been acted upon. I understand—although I speak without great knowledge—that nobody attempted to enforce that decree in England, and that there is hardly any country in the world, except Ireland, where the Roman Catholic religion has attempted to enforce it. It is a serious thing for us, now that we are being handed over to a Government, from which we shall have practically no appeal to this country, that in this particular Article 16 of the Treaty those words which would save us from the effect of this Ne Temeredecree are left out. After all, what does this decree mean when it comes into effect? It practically means that our women are driven into something approaching concubinage. No body of men or women, bring Protestants or what they will, will submit to that. I do not propose to ask my fellow Protestants who live with me in the South of Ireland to agree to this thing without protest, whether under Pius XI, Cardinal Logue, or the President of the Irish Republic. It may be said that these are brave and boastful words, and I may be asked, "What chance have you here, speaking for this handful of people scattered all through the Southern provinces of Ireland? You are in the grip of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Churchill); the right hon. Gentleman does not agree with you in policy; being a convinced Home Ruler he has opposed you. He himself is in the grip of Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins is in the grip of the Irish Republican Army."
I have said that I am in the grip of the right hon. Gentleman. Be that as it may, I am going to appeal over the head of the right hon. Gentleman, over the head of Mr. Collins, and over the head of the Irish Republican Army to the British people and to this Committee, because I believe myself that when this Committee knows what is being done, that these particular words which are vital to us have been left out without a word being said, they will demand from all parts why this thing is being done. I would like to try to save the Com- 954 mittee's time by making the speech which-the right hon. Gentleman will make in reply to me. He will say, "Look at your Treaty; read the Articles. Look at Article 1, and Article 2 and Article 3."
We all have them in our hands. He will say, "The Free State has been fashioned on the Government of Canada. Therefore you have the protection which the subject in Canada has. You have your appeal from your Irish Privy Council"—I do not know what it will be called under the. Irish Free State—"to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council here. You have your Governor-General who will have the same powers in the Irish Free State as has the Governor-General of Canada. Therefore, the Governor-General of the Free State will, if he thinks lit, be able to annul any legislation passed to repress you Protestants in your marriage laws." After all, what does the Canada Act say as regards the power of the Governor-General? Section 55 of that Act says:When a Bill passed by the Houses of the Parliament is presented to the Governor-General for the Queen's Assent, he shall declare, according to his discretion, either that he assents in the Queen's name or withholds the Queen's assent or that he reserves the Bill for the significance of the Queen's pleasure.Is it a fact that when this Irish Free State Constitution comes to be written those safeguards will be preserved to us? Shall we have our appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as they have in Canada? May I point out that there was only in the year 1912 an appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada to the Judicial Committee of this country on the subject of the Ne Temeredecree in Quebec. Are we to have that? I ask, further, will the Governor-General of the Irish Free State have the power to declare, according to his discretion, that he assents to or dissents from certain Acts? Of course, if I can get these assurances from the right hon. Gentleman we are given some chance, but if we cannot get those, then our only chance is to get it from him as to why these words were left out, and why they cannot be put in. Let us suppose a case in Quebec, which has a Roman Catholic and Protestant population almost exactly balancing the South of Ireland. In Quebec the Protestant minority is about 955 12 per cent, of the population. Suppose that Quebec, driven to extremes by some wrongs, were to declare a Republic, there was a settlement on the lines of the Settlement for the South of Ireland, and she was given something in the nature of the Irish Free State. Will anyone tell me that if that was being done the Dominion of Canada would not insist that the right to enforce the Ne Temeredecree should be withheld from Quebec? Of course it would; and if that is so then it ought to be done in the case of Southern Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman will give the assurances I have asked for a good many of my fears will be withdrawn. If he cannot do that, the Committee should insist that these simple words to defend us in the South from a very great wrong be inserted in the Treaty.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
In so far as this subject affects Southern Ireland—the Irish Free State—the Government is strictly limited by the provisions of Article 16 of the Treaty. My hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Newman), with a prophetic insight, foresaw that I should be bound to make that answer. There is Article 16, for good or for ill, and we cannot permit ourselves to write in any addition to it. It is a very good Article in a great many ways. It even contains some provisions not previously embodied in Irish legislation, such as the subject of discrimination as regards State aid to schools. Therefore, so far as the Free State is concerned, I cannot possibly accept any Amendment without infringing on the Treaty. Articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty prescribe adhesion to the general principles of the Canadian Constitution, and in accordance with that, of course, the powers of the Governor-General and of the Crown, acting on the advice of Ministers, will be the same with respect to Ireland as they are in respect to the Dominion of Canada. As the House knows, the question of the exercise of such powers is fraught with very great and serious constitutional issues, and in modern times they have been very infrequently exercised in the sense of reserving legislation for the veto of the Crown. I could not hold out any hope that it would be possible for the Government to define in advance the course that would be taken on some future occasion that we hope will not arise. There is 956 Article 16, and within the limits of Article 16 the Government of the Irish Free State will have the full rights of any great Dominion of the British Empire to govern or misgovern, to rule wisely or unwisely, as it chooses, over those people who are subject to its jurisdiction and in its areas.
I do not myself believe that the outlook is at all bad in this respect. There is much less religious intolerance in the South than there is in some other parts of the British Empire, and one has every hope that the Protestants living in the South of Ireland will enjoy all the protection which the Amendment of my hon. Friend would give them. In any case, be it so or be it not so, I am unable to move a hair's-breadth beyond the provision of Article 16 of the Treaty. So far as Northern Ireland is concerned, these words which my hon. Friend likes are already included in the 1920 Act, and if Northern Ireland exercises its option to stand out from the Free State she will, of course, repose herself and subside upon the full provisions of the 1920 Act in this respect.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I should not have intervened on this Amendment if it were confined to the question of the establishment of a religion, but the question of marriage seems to create a considerable grievance. I have always regarded the Ne Temeredecree, that anathema of the Roman Catholic Church, as a great outrage on Christian morality. It goes almost as far, in one way, to subvert the essentials of Christian marriage law as Lord Buckmaster's Divorce Bill goes in another way. Moreover, anything affecting the marriage law has quite a peculiar importance in regard to social life. Conspicuously, marriage is one of the things in which it does become rather artificial to treat Ireland as distinct from Great Britain, and very artificial to treat the Irish Free State as distinct from Northern Ireland, because people will intermarry. English people will marry with people from the Irish Free State, and people from the Northern part of Ireland will marry with those from the South of Ireland. Therefore you may easily have a very serious grievance arising from the point of view of the subject—for example, as in the case of an English woman marrying according to her own religion and according to English law, and yet, 957 within the limits of the Irish Free State, being regarded as in precisely the same state as a woman who lives with a man as his mistress and without marriage at all. It may be true, as my right hon. Friend says, that it is a grievance which exists in other parts of the world, but surely everyone must recognise that it is a very objectionable thing. Nothing could well be more objectionable than that people should be married in the view of both Church and State in one part of a country and not married at all in another, but apparently living in fornication. I think therefore there is a very real grievance.
I quite appreciate that, on the principle on which the Government have conducted these discussions, they are unable to accept this Amendment; but it seems to me that in this very important matter they might very well approach the Irish representatives with a view to having this Article of the Treaty modified by consent. I should be surprised to hear that the Irish delegation themselves attached very great importance to safeguarding the Ne Temeredecree and retaining the power of the Irish Free State to make Irish law conform to that Papal rule. I should have thought it would have been just as proper, or more proper, to make concessions with respect to marriage as to make concessions with respect to education and the endowment of religion as they have already done under the Treaty. This is a matter on which approach might successfully have been made to the Irish delegation to modify the Treaty. In the circumstances, I feel bound to support my hon. and gallant Friend the Mover of the Amendment, and I believe he has drawn attention to a real grievance and to a real blot in the Treaty.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The Noble Lord is so eminent an authority on the internal affairs of his own Church and has signalised himself so often in the internal controversies of the Church of England, that one would imagine he would leave other churches alone. I am not sure that he has so successfully functioned at the meetings of the High Church Councils in England that he ought to come here to lecture those of us who do not belong to his Church, as to the tenets of our own Church. I do not propose, however, to 958 enter into a theological discussion with him. I know I should be nowhere, though probably if I did deliver a theological dissertation, I might ultimately have as powerful an effect on the minds of my hearers as he has on the minds of the Church Councils which he guides so often. I am rather surprised that the other side of the question has not been heard from his fellow Die-hard the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Lieut.-Colonel Archer-Shee), but the hon. and gallant Member sat there and then, as Die-hards usually do, he ran away at the most critical moment in the discussion instead of dealing with the theological heterodoxies of the Noble Lord. I do not propose to go into that at all, but I suggest it is perfectly intolerable that an Amendment of this character, not introduced for any useful purpose at all, should have been submitted to the House by the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman). He comes here as a persecuted Protestant from the South of Ireland. Why, men of this type have lived and fattened upon the toleration of Irish Catholics in the South of Ireland, and if you go through the whole history of the conduct of every movement in Ireland for one hundred years, you will find that so far from there being any religious intolerance in the South of Ireland, it has been quite the opposite.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The hon. and gallant Member's house was burned because he was a danger to the State. I wish I could effectively quench him as a danger to Parliamentary institutions. He is the victim of the political circumstances that exist to-day, but how long has he lived in the South of Ireland? How long, oh Lord, how long? I think I am entitled to put it that way in the midst of this theological controversy. He has lived there about half a century, and was, I believe, elected to a county council in the South of Ireland. Why, I do not know. It seems to me there must be electors for county councils in Ireland just as unintelligent as electors in Parliamentary elections in England. At any rate, he was elected a member of a county council, and I venture to say that in his constituency there would not be 5 per cent, of Protestants. He was elected by Catholic voters.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Another sign of Irish intelligence. What are the facts? I invite any hon. Member of this House to take a train from Dundalk, which is on the border of Southern Ireland, and travel all through the 26 counties, and his invariable experience will be that nearly all the rich shopkeepers, the big merchants, those who are prosperous out of the product of the people's custom are mostly Protestants.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
They are not packing up to go because they are Protestants, but because they have always failed to enter into the spirit and aspirations of the people. Nor are they all going: most of them are there still. Gentlemen who prefer to come over here as British politicians to slander their own country cannot expect large charity at the hands of a very human people like the Irish. Irish Catholics are not intolerant towards Protestants—I only wish they were more tolerant towards each other. The hon. and gallant Member should be the last to talk about the McCann case. That case was discussed over 10 years ago in this House, and the men who raised it were the present Lord Carson and Lord Glenavy, the late Lord Chancellor of Ireland. They both presented their case here in this House, and the hon. and gallant Member, eminent as we know him to be and highly qualified to make clear and pellucid all issues of this character, will admit that he could not, at all events, make the case any clearer than Lord Carson and Lord Glenavy did. Yet, although it was a friendly House, after these two Gentlemen had stated their case against the Ne Temeredecree, based upon a ridiculous and absurd domestic quarrel and not upon religion at all—
§ Mr. DEVLIN
The hon. Member was not here then. I prefer the intelligence of the House of Commons to that of the "Northern Whig." The House of Commons at that time treated the matter with such contempt that after Lord Carson spoke and Lord Glenavy spoke and I spoke, nobody else wanted to speak, and so ended the Ne Temeredecree.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I like to incite people to be intelligent. The real point is this, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has moved the Amendment is masquerading as an advocate of religious tolerance, and he comes from a community where there is no such thing as religious intolerance, where war is never waged on people because of their religion. If it is, let us have instances of it. If there are any cases where Protestants who have flourished among their own countrymen have been victimised, the victimisation has been caused by the vicissitudes of politics and the complexities of the situation. They have not suffered because they were Protestants. Catholics have suffered in the same way. In my own constituency, in the midst of the barbarities which are being committed against the Catholics of Belfast, several Protestant churches are standing there without a single pane of glass broken in them, where there is not a single Protestant living within 500 yards. They are protected by Catholic people because they are institutions which, whether they be Protestant or Catholic, should be sacred to all just and Christian men. [Interruption.] I resent these charges about the intolerance of Irish Catholics whether North or South. Religion has been used by the enemies of Ireland as an instrument to defeat the people, and by the division of the people upon Christian principles—so called—the reactionaries and the enemies of progress and humanity have been able to become the political leaders and guides of the ignoramuses whom they inspire through these bigotries and prejudices. I rose to make that protest and I have made it. The hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment comes from the South of Ireland and has lived among the people; he admits himself that he has been kindly and generously treated by the people. He 961 has not a single complaint to make against them. He talks about his house being burned a few months ago. Since I came into this House I have listened to the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member and he has never seen anything good in his country or his countrymen. Their aspirations for liberty were an outrage upon what he conceived to be freedom. Why, the very Tory party itself is now giving a larger measure of freedom than that which he denounced in the most violent terms. Everything that was for Ireland and the welfare and the happiness of her people he opposed.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot help pointing out to the hon. Member that he is devoting a disproportionate amount of attention to the personality of the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley, as compared with that which he is devoting to the subject matter of the Amendment.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
It is not that I am giving much attention to his personality, but I am taking him as a type, and delivering a lecture to the House upon it.
§ Mr. LYNN
Listening to the vigorous speech of the hon. Member for Falls (Mr. Devlin), one would imagine that the Ne Temeredecree was something that had been created by a number of Protestant bigots. I remember that in 1873 a catechism was published in Maynooth which stated that the theory of the infallibility of the Pope was a falsehood circulated by Protestants for the purpose of destroying the Vatican. No doubt the hon. Member for Falls wants the Committee to believe that the Ne Temeredecree was drafted by the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley, but let us get the facts. If the hon. Member for Falls has a grievance against anyone it is against the head of his own Church, who has laid down the decree in these words;No marriage is valid which is not contracted in the presence of the parish priost"—that is the Roman Catholic priest—of the place, or of the ordinary, or of a priest deputed by them," etc.That is not laid down by the Tory party, not even by the Welsh wizard. It is laid down by the Vatican itself, and we have had practical cases. I can well understand the hon. Member not wanting the McCann case re-opened.
§ Mr. LYNN
The McCann case took place in his own constituency, and the facts were very simple. Husband and wife were living happily together, and had done so for many years, when the priest intervened and insisted that the husband could not live with the wife any longer because they were living in a state of sin. The husband disappeared, and the children were kidnapped, and the unfortunate woman has neither seen the one nor the other since.
§ Mr. LYNN
I listened with patience to my hon. Friend, and if he wants to speak again, I will sit down and let him. The case was raised in this House in 1909, when the hon. Member for Falls was trying to make the case that he has been trying to make this evening, and he was then repudiated by the authorities of his own Church in Belfast, who stated distinctly that this was the law of the Roman Church and was going to be enforced whether the hon. Member for Falls liked it or not. I am quite sure the hon. Member detests the Ne Temeredecree as much as I do. He has too much sense to believe in the Ne Temeredecree, but the Ne Temeredecree is not the only one. There is another decree that was brought into force at the same time, to the effect that the civil courts could take no action against Roman priests. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary mentioned a number of things included here in paragraph 16 of the Treaty, but he did not mention those things that are left out. For example, in the Home Rule Bill of 1886, it was impossible to establish any Church in Ireland. Personally, I am opposed to any Church being established in any country, whether Roman Catholic or not. In 1893, it was again laid down that no Church should be established in Ireland, and in the 1912 Bill, with which the right hon. Gentleman had a good deal to do, it was again laid down that you were not to establish any Church, while in the 1920 Act the same thing happened, but here in this Treaty there is nothing to prevent you from establishing the Roman Church or any other Church in the country.
I hate discussing religious questions. I know there are people who imagine that the Ulsterman's only prayer is, "To hell with the Pope!" and that on going to 963 bed at night he is not happy unless he has got a Roman Catholic scalp, but there is nothing further from the truth. Some of us have a very good record in fighting for the Church when they were not able to fight for themselves as they are to-day, but at the present time, when the Roman Church—and here I am speaking not religiously at all, but politically— is becoming so aggressive all over the Empire, when it used its influence all over the Empire to defeat us in the last War. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, and the Prime Minister would be the first to admit it, but I am not going to go into that now. At a time like this, when the Roman Church is showing so much aggression, I think it is not a proper moment for us to allow this new State which is to be set up in the Empire to establish the Roman Church, and therefore I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope I may make an appeal to the Committee. We have had a very good discussion, and we have not yet reached the end of the first Sub-section. We have not touched any of the operative parts of the Bill, but have been living entirely in a world of provisoes, most of which are quite inconsistent with the Treaty. I would like to submit that there will necessarily be a Report stage, as there are some Amendments to be made to the Bill, and it may therefore be possible to divide up some of these Amendments on this portion of the Bill and discuss some now and some on the Report stage. I trust that we may be permitted to make progress and get on to Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, and pass the operative provisions of the Bill.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Why are the very precise terms of the 1920 Act in regard to marriage omitted from this Bill?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I cannot say myself what was the actual process which imposed this Article in the Treaty. There were many discussions which took place, and this was the agreed form in which this Article was presented. As a layman it seemed to me that it was an extremely good and comprehensive Article, but it did not include this particular point, and I cannot say what was the actual reason one way or the other.
§ Viscount WOLMER
In regard to what has fallen from the Colonial Secretary, 964 I should like to make a protest. Here we are dealing with probably the most important Bill that has ever been presented to the House pf Commons. It has been in Committee two days, one of which was a Friday. We have been informed, through the usual channels, that all the points of substance raised by this Bill can, practically speaking, only be raised by provisoes to the first Sub-section, and therefore, being limited in that way by the Rules of Order, it has been necessary for those who wish to raise the very important questions arising on this Bill to raise them as provisoes to the first Sub-section. Then the right hon. Gentleman comes down and lectures us—I do not know whether he charges us with obstruction or obscurantism, but he gives us a lecture—for daring to debate these questions, which are raised by his own Bill, in the only place where we can discuss them. He has so drafted this Bill that we cannot raise them on the Schedule, and this is the only place where we can raise them, and to be told that a Bill of this sort is to be passed without any discussion at all is an insult to the Committee. It would be very much better if the right hon. Gentleman had moved the Closure. I would not have made that protest if it had not been for the tone that the right hon. Gentleman has adopted to the critics of this Measure throughout the Committee stage, which he appears to regard as nothing but a nuisance and as taking up his time from more useful work. The point I would like to put to him a little bit more specifically was mentioned by the hon. Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison). The Act of 1920 very specifically says, in Section 5:Neither the Parliament of Southern Ireland nor the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall make a law so as either directly or indirectly to establish or endow any religion, or prohibit or restrict the free exercise thereof, or give a preference, privilege, or advantage, or impose any disability or disadvantage, on account of religious belief or religious or ecclesiastical status, or make any religious belief or religious ceremony a condition of the validity of any marriage.When this Treaty was being negotiated, the right hon. Gentleman and the Government had these words actually before them, and it is idle to tell the Committee that the Government did not look at the Section of the 1920 Act when they were making the bargain with Mr. Collins. 965 Of course the Government and both sides had this Act on the Table, and there is a very definite departure in the terms of this Agreement from the terms of the 1920 Act. We want to know why that is so. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman is listening to a word I am saying, and I will wait till he has finished the interesting conversation he is having with his colleague. I do not want to be discourteous, but I want to ask him certain definite questions. I want to know what objections Mr. Collins and his colleagues had to the terms of the 1920 Act in this respect. The right hon. Gentleman, I gather from what he said just now, was quite unaware of what the negotiations were when this particular paragraph was reached, and, if that is the ease, I think there ought to be somebody on that Bench who is aware. All the Unionist, or so-called Unionist, Ministers of the Government have been conspicuous by their absence from this Debate, but really, if the right hon. Gentleman is not aware of the facts on this question as the spokesman of the Government, there ought to be somebody here who is, and it is really a very germane point. What objection had Mr. Collins and the Sinn Fein delegates to the words of the 1920 Act? We want to know. On what ground did they object to them, and why were these words substituted? I think the right hon. Gentleman would be treating the Committee with more respect if he would tell us that.
§ Mr. STEWART
I do not want to delay the Division, if my hon. Friend goes to a Division, but I think the right hon. Gentleman is treating this matter unfairly. It is a matter which is a delicate one, and I do not want to say anything which will offend my Roman Catholic friends. The speech of the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) shows how very sensitive and thin-skinned they are in these matters. I have great respect for all religions, because I think in their own way and from their own point of view they do their best for mankind; but we know that there are some who are so obsessed with the idea of their own religion that they are not very tolerant of those who take a different point of view. There is a difference in Ireland between two sections of the Christian religion which has existed for a very long time. I feel that 966 the bitterness is dying down a great deal, and I do not want to do anything to increase it again; but, from what I hear, our fellow subjects, the Protestants in the South of Ireland, are really very earnestly alarmed about this matter. I understand that under the Ne Temeredecree a mixed marriage in Ireland is not valid except it is performed in a Roman Catholic church. I would equally oppose a law being passed against the validity of a marriage which had not taken place in a Protestant church. In days gone by, in all previous Home Rule Bills, when the position between Ireland and this country was going to be very much closer than it is under this Treaty, Liberal statesmen took such precautions as they could to protect Protestants from anything approaching ecclesiastical domination. In 1893, Mr. Gladstone copied out a section of the American Constitution which was only put in in 1868, and if in that Bill such a safeguard was considered necessary, it shows that it is at least as necessary now. I submit that if such precautionary legislation was thought necessary in the U.S.A. in 1868, it is clear proof of the distaste and uneasiness in men's minds, even in such a Free State as the American Republic, at the risk of anything approaching ecclesiastical domination. If in America such a course was thought advisable, how much more is it necessary in Ireland, where religious differences are so much more acute. In 1912 this necessity was appreciated again by a Liberal Prime Minister, and in 1920 this safeguard against ecclesiastical domination was again inserted, and as it is one of the chief canons of Liberal policy that if you repeat a thing three times it has the sanctity of law, an opinion repeated on a point like this by three Liberal Prime Ministers should receive more support from professed Liberals like the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary than it has done in this case. In fact, if they do not support this Amendment it looks as if they tacitly admit that their Parliament Act was founded on a fallacy, and requires amendment.
There is no doubt that the position has been made much more delicate owing to the Ne Temeredecree which was issued in 1908, and much more apprehensive to the Protestant mind, and it seems that if you act as you do in this Treaty, a woman may be a wife 967 in Ulster but not in the South of Ireland, or she may be an annulled wife on the other side of St. George's Channel and still retain her right to be called a wife in Great Britain. I think we are justified in asking for the effective insertion of a provision of this sort. What will be the position of the Viceroy in the South of Ireland on a matter of this kind? If he disapproves of a law, will he have the right of veto? I expect I shall be told that that is a matter for the new Irish Constitution, and when that Constitution is brought up in this House we shall probably again be told that this is a thing we cannot alter. We are entitled to protest against the way the Government are forcing this Irish legislation through this House. If there is risk of intolerance, the Amendment ought to be inserted. If there be no risk of intolerance, I cannot see why the Sinn Fein party and the Government should raise any objection. If they combine against the minority in the South of Ireland and force the law upon them as they now make it, the outlook is very menacing indeed for all those in the South of Ireland who do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church. The only remedy I can suggest to minimise the danger is to try and effect wholesale exchanges of farms and businesses, between North and South, where those migrating, from one area into the other, will find themselves more in harmony with their environment. I admit that the safeguard of an Imperial Act of Parliament is slight, but it is all we can do, and if there is little real compelling force behind such a Clause as proposed there is a certain and considerable moral force and if it is violated the responsibility rests with the violators. I notice that the right hon. Gentleman spoke in the country the other day against the Communist party. I venture to think that if legislation be forced through Parliament, as it is being forced through now, and this House is subjected to futile and barren discussion, you are doing incalculable mischief to all those who believe in Constitutional government, and playing right into the hands of Communists and agitators who think Parliamentary institutions out of date and of no further use. I support this Amendment, and, if it goes to a Division, I shall certainly vote for it.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I am sorry I was not here during the earlier part of the discussion, for reasons over which I have no control, and I particularly regret I missed the speech of the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin). I have consistently supported the Government in regard to this Treaty, and I share, with great respect, the view which the Colonial Secretary takes that, having passed the Treaty, it cannot be amended without the consent of both parties to it. That is a principle common to all agreements. It may, therefore, be the fact that it would be wrong to insert this Amendment in the Treaty, but what I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman is some declaration of the determination of the Government that a provision such as this shall find its place in the constitution of the new Free State. It is a matter of such supreme importance to Ireland and to hundreds of persons in Ireland, that it ought not to be left in the unsatisfactory position in which it is to-day. I am quite sure my hon. Friends would not press this matter to a Division if the right hon. Gentleman could give some assurance that the Government have a mind upon the question, and are determined not to leave these people defence-less against what is almost sure to occur, if no provision is made for their protection either here or hereafter. It is not only a protection of those who may desire to be married after the Free State is set up, but, as my right hon. Friend knows, it affects the marriage of every Catholic and Protestant in Ireland at the present time—marriages which are valid to-day.
A case occurred about a month or six weeks ago, even in Great Britain, in one of our naval ports, where a petty officer's wife left him and was re-married in a Roman Catholic church, with the assent of the authorities, on the ground that she was a Catholic, and that her marriage to her real husband had not been performed in a Roman Catholic church, or according to the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. I say nothing further about the case, because the learned judge who heard the proceedings intimated that he had sent the case to the Public Prosecutor, in order that appropriate action might be taken. But it does illustrate, I was going to say, the effrontery with which evil-minded persons may make use of a law of their own Church to suit their own 969 ends, and it is quite conceivable that a man or a woman may be defrauded of their proper rights because no protection is given.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman indicates his displeasure that I should prolong the Debate, but it is a matter of such real importance that I venture to think there is no subject upon which we might more properly delay ourselves. Those of us who are supporting the Treaty have sometimes been charged with deserting our brothers and sisters in Ireland. We had better desert them in relation to their property and in relation to their liberty, than desert them in relation to this matter, and if the right hon. Gentleman really can give no expression of his sympathy with this proposal, or of his present intention or determination to see that some such protection is given, one is almost afraid there is a secret intention to omit it from all consideration on the part of the Government, either on the Report stage or when the Constitution comes to be granted. If we are thrown back upon Article 16 of the Treaty, carefully drafted and perfectly prepared as it is in relation to the matters with which it deals, I say it is no protection in regard to this matter.
It is a principle of law that when you express certain matters in relation to a general subject matter, you exclude other matters, and Article 16 provides that neither Parliament shall prohibit the free exercise of any religion or religious belief. That is perfectly proper, but it will not touch this question. It provides that no child shall be prejudicially affected with regard to its attendance at religious instruction. That will not touch this particular question. Certain disabilities are referred to in Article 16, and the Parliaments of both States are prevented from making any disability in consequence of religious belief in connection with those matters; but this question of marriage is carefully excluded, although to those who know the facts in Ireland and other countries, it is one which is most intimately connected with the life and liberty of the subjects of these Free States. The right hon. Gentleman, I regret, is adopting an attitude which really weakens the interest and the sympathy which some of us have with the efforts of the Government for promoting peace in Ireland. I do not believe that hon. 970 Gentlemen opposite, who, perhaps, are more concerned with the interests of the Roman Catholic Church than others, really desire that the liberty, safety and happiness of persons should be interfered with, as we know they are in danger of being interfered with. Then, why cannot the right hon. Gentleman give us some indication that he will safeguard these interests, instead of adopting the attitude which I deeply regret he is adopting on this matter? I apologise for delaying the Committee after the somewhat lengthy Debate. The right hon. Gentleman, I understand, thinks I have been delaying it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not. I wish my hon. and learned Friend would not endeavour to take up any remark I make, and put an entirely false construction on it. What I was saying was, how could I alter any Article of the Treaty?
§ Mr. INSKIP
I am sorry if I misheard my right hon. Friend's interruptions, which I assumed, wrongly, were addressed to me or my observations, but if my right hon. Friend tells me he cannot introduce anything into this Treaty at this time, I quite accept that. But cannot he give us some indication—I apologise to him if I have caused him any unnecessary irritation—that he will at the proper stage, in connection with the Constitution, give some protection to these people whose interests we have at heart?
§ 8.0 p.m.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. ALLEN
After the very lengthy discussion, and the very interesting speeches made on this subject, and more particularly the appeal of my hon. and learned Friend who has just sat down, there is very little more to be said on this subject. Those who are responsible for this Debate are those who deliberately sat down in No. 10, Downing Street, and excised this matter from the Act of 1920 for some particular purpose of their own. Had the words as they stand in Clause 5, Sub-section (1), of the Act of 1920 been embodied in the present Treaty, there would have been no discussion on this at all. It is really extraordinary how any sensible individual here can vote for the Treaty as it stands. The right hon. Gentleman admits that Northern Ireland can vote itself out of 971 this Bill. A boundary line is to be defined later on—in our minds it is defined now, and we hope it will remain—but there is to be a boundary line in this small island of ours, and there will be two laws in it with regard to marriage. Nothing can be more absurd or illogical, and yet those gentlemen who pose as the greatest Statesmen of the century, and who have passed this great act of Statesmanship of which they are so proud, have sat down deliberately and planned such a ridiculous thing. On one side of the border a marriage will be valid, and on the other side of the border that marriage will be invalid. I do not know that anything can be more ridiculous. I hope the Colonial Secretary will listen to the appeal of one of his own supporters and one of his own friends, who sees this particular thing from a different point of view from the Irish point of view. The right hon. Gentleman is in a difficult position. He has been sent here by the Cabinet to say "No" to everything we ask, and it is an extraordinary thing that those who are largely responsible for all this trouble are absenting themselves from the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman has the whole responsibility, the whole
§ weight of it, thrown upon his shoulders. I think it is a mean trick.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
I believe the right hon. Gentleman feels his position more than anyone else, though I am quite satisfied he will not give his comrades away to that extent; but it is an extraordinary position. Here is this Debate going on about one of the things that is of vital interest to the people of Ireland, and the gentleman who is responsible for the very fact that we have a Treaty at all is absent from all these debates. I think it is an insult to the House. On the question of the excision of these few words there is a responsibility beyond the Cabinet, a responsibility beyond the men who signed the Treaty on behalf of Southern Ireland, and one would not have to look very far for the influence that was used in order that this Ne Temeredecree should have full effect in Ireland if it be possible, and certainly in Southern Ireland.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 45; Noes. 178.973
|Division No. 33.]||AYES.||[8.5 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Allen, Lieut Col. Sir William James||France, Gerald Ashburner||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Gretton, Colonel John||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Reid, D. D.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Johnstone, Joseph||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Lynn, R. J.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||M'Guffin, Samuel||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Cory, Sir C. J, (Cornwall, St, Ives)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Whltla, Sir William|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon, Sir Henry||Moles. Thomas||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Donald, Thompson||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Nicholson, William G, (Petersfield)||Mr. Gershom Stewart and Sir W. Davison.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bruton, Sir James||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Devlin, Joseph|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Cairns, John||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Ammon, Charles George||Campbell, J. D. G.||Edge, Captain Sir William|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Ednam, Viscount|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A.(Birm.,W.)||Edwards, Hugh (Glam, Neath)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Clough, Sir Robert||Eyres-Monsell. Com. Bolton M,|
|Bartley-Dennlss. Sir Edmund Robert||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Colvin, Brig,-General Richard Beale||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Forestler-Walker, L.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Forrest, Walter|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Briant, Frank||Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontyprldd)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Lloyd, George Butler||Rose, Frank H.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Lorden, John William||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Lunn, William||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Green, Joseph F, (Leicester, W.)||M'Lean, Lieut. Col. Charles W, W.||Sexton, James|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Gregory, Holman||Magnus, Sir Philip||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mallalleu, Frederick William||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Manville, Edward||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. G.||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Hancock, John George||Morris, Richard||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Maryhill)|
|Harmsworth, c. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Murchison, C. K.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hayward, Evan||Myers, Thomas||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Neal, Arthur||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Waddington, R.|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Newson, Sir Percy W.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hirst, G. H.||Norrls, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Wignall, James|
|Hohler, Gerald Fltzroy||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Parker, James||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Winterton, Earl|
|Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wise, Frederick|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Perring, William George||Woolcock, William James u.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Phillpps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Purchase, H. G.||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)||Rees. Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Kendall, Athelstan||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Robertson, John|
§ Mr. CHURCHILL rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question' That the words of the Clause to the word "of," in Sub-section (2) ["For the purpose of giving effect"], stand part of the Clause,' be now put."
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
On a point of Order. I wish to know, having regard to the fact that these Amendments are all Amendments which in the ordinary course would come scattered all over the Bill and all over the Schedule, but owing to the peculiar structure of this Bill must necessarily be grouped together in order to be in order—whether under these circumstances the Government is in order, or entitled, to move a Closure which, though it might be quite reasonable if the Amendments came in the ordinary course, will have the effect of cutting out a number of very important—most important, some of us consider them—Amendments, merely on account of the technical drafting of the Bill?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
(Sir E. Cornwall): The Government is quite in 974 order, and quite entitled to move it, and I have accepted the Motion made by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I understand, Sir, that you have a discretion as to whether you should accept this Motion or not. Might I ask whether, before exercising that discretion, you would consider that almost all the important Amendments to this Bill are contained in provisos to this first Clause, and necessarily so contained because in the ordinary course they come as Amendments to the Schedule in due order, but that owing to the extraordinary structure of the Bill as it stands, all these important points have to be put in one place. I venture respectfully to suggest, therefore, that you should exercise your discretion by not accepting this Motion.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have considered that fully, and have decided to accept the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman.
|Division No. 34.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Agg Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wlgan)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hall. F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Perring, William George|
|Barker, C. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hancock, John George||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H (Devlzes)||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Bonn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart. (Gr'nw'h)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hills, Major John Waller||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hirst, G. H.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Robertson, John|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rose, Frank H.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Rothschild. Lionel de|
|Briant, Frank||Hopkins, John W. W.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hurd, Percy A.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Cairns, John||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Sexton, James|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Johnstone, Joseph||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jones, J. T (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Freak. George||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Stanley, Major Hon, G. (Preston)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lewis, T. A. (Glain, Pontypridd)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lloyd, George Butler||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Lorden, John William||Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Edwards, Hugh (Gtam., Neath)||Lunn, William||Townshend, sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Waddington, R.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, ince)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mailalleu, Frederick William||Waring, Major Walter|
|Foot, Isaac||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Forestier-walker, L.||Manville, Edward||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Forrest, Walter||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Wignall, James|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Morris, Richard||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Gee, Captain Robert||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Winterton, Earl|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Murchlson, C. K.||Wise, Frederick|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Myers, Thomas||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Goft, Sir R. Park||Neal, Arthur||Yeo, Sir Allred William|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Newson, Sir Percy W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, w.)||Norrls, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Haman||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gregory, Holman||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypooh)||Parker, James|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Dixon, Captain Herbert||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Allen. Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Donald, Thompson||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Foxcrott, Captain Charles Talbot||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfred W.||Gretton, Colonel John||Pennefather. De Fonblanque|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Reid, D. D.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Burn, T. H, (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Lynn, R. J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Butcher, Sir John George||McConnell, Thomas Edward||Whitla, Sir William|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||M'Guffin, Samuel||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Maddocks, Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sir W. Davison and Mr. Moles.|
§ The Committee divided: Noes, 31.977
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words of the clause to the word 'of' in Sub-section (2) stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 183; Noes,30.979
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
I understand that the next Amendment is to leave out Subsection (2). I do not know exactly the form in which it should be moved.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
We have already passed three words of that Sub-section, and the question must be so put as to retain those words. Then a discussion can take place on Subsection (2).
§ Viscount WOLMER
I would like to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, under, which Standing Order has the Colonial Secretary just made his Motion?
§ Viscount WOLMER
I have an Amendment on the Paper raising the question of the interpretation of Article 11 of the Agreement, which is not at all contentious, and I wish to know when I shall have an opportunity of raising the question.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not know how the matter can be raised unless the Noble Lord puts in a manuscript Amendment, and, of course, I have no knowledge now as to whether it would be in order until I see it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The Noble Lord is quite aware that he is not in order in raising that point now
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
The Motion made by the Colonial Secretary comes under paragraph (2) of Standing Order 26, and, according to my reading of the Standing Order, such a Motion can only be made after the Closure has been applied. May I point out that no Closure was applied, and the words of the Standing Order only apply distinctly to a case where the Closure has been applied? Paragraph (2) of the Standing Order says:When the Motion "That the Question be now put" has been carried, and the Question consequent thereon has been decided, any further Motion may be made which may be requisite to bring to a decision any Question already proposed from the Chair; and also if a Clause be then under consideration, a Motion may be made that the Question that certain words of the Clause defined in the Motion stand part of the Clause, or that the Clause stand part of or be added to the Bill, be now put.980 I suggest that it is only after the application of the Closure that any such Motion as that which was moved by the right hon. Gentleman can be made, and, if that be so, is there any other Standing Order to justify that Motion?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I do not agree with the hon. and learned Member's interpretation as regards the Standing Order, but this is not the time to challenge the decision of the Chair or of the Committee. It is a settled matter now.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
In view of the ruling of the Chair, I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "of giving effect to Article 17."
I hope I may be allowed at the outset to express the very strongest possible protest at the way in which we have just been treated by the Government. We have been treated with the most gross discourtesy by the two right hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of this Bill. We are, I agree, a comparatively small body of Members who have been fighting this Bill in opposition to the proposals of the Government, but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary has hitherto taken the view that we are in any way either lacking in sincerity or obstructing the business of the House of Commons. Under these circumstances, and considering that the Leader of the House moved that the Standing Order be suspended, thus allowing plenty of time for debating a good many of these important Amendments, it has caused me very great surprise that this discourtesy should have been shown to us without even a warning that the Government intended to do this thing. The right hon Gentleman got up at a moment's notice and made this Motion without giving us time to look at the Standing Order, or to see where we should stand on the Order Paper if the Motion were accepted. Considering that we are a comparatively small body, I think that action on the part of the Government was the action of a bully. The Government know they have large battalions, which they can bring into the Lobby. The right hon. Gentleman in charge, of the Bill has been showing unmistakably throughout the Debate his weariness of the duties he has been called upon to perform. He has not brought into the Committee any of his Unionist colleagues, who are equally with himself 981 responsible for the legislation we are discussing, and now, when I suppose he wants to get his dinner or when we are approaching some Amendments that may be very awkward for the Government, especially one with regard to the Oath, he suddenly gets up and treats us in this way. These remarks are quite relevant to the Amendment I have moved, because one of the most important Amendments is that which has to do with the Oath. This Sub-section (2) makes provision for the election which is to be held in Ireland in order to set up the Provisional Government. It is a vital matter that the Provisional Government, when setup, should be one bonâ fide within the ordinary ambit of the Empire. Our contention is that there is really no distinction whatever between the constitution which the Government are now giving to Southern Ireland and that which the more extreme party in that country are claiming. If we could have debated that Amendment, it would have affected very much our attitude on the Provisional Constitution set up under Article 17 of the Schedule. But I quite realise it is perfectly useless for us even to attempt courteously, as we have endeavoured to do, to put our views before the Government. We have been treated with complete contempt, and the last action of the Government has been so outrageously offensive that I shall, for my part, decline to put before the Government arguments which I think very strong in favour of leaving out these words. Having made this protest, I move the Amendment standing in my name, and decline to take any further part in the discussion.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I think we have just witnessed the most disgraceful scene that has ever occurred in the House of Commons since Oliver Cromwell said, "Take away that bauble!"
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I allowed the hon. Member in moving the Amendment to offer a few remarks of protest, but the Noble Lord knows that it is not in order to reflect on the decision of the Chair, or on the decision of the Committee, as this is a matter which is settled by Standing Orders.
§ Viscount WOLMER
I desire to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again." 982 I do this in order to call attention to the way in which the minority has been treated. Twelve substantial Amendments have been cut out from discussion by the procedure adopted by the Government, and we are now asked to discuss an Amendment not of our own choosing but of their choosing. Such action is an outrage to the House of Commons and to the whole country. I am sure of this, that although the minority may be very small, it is very widely representative of the country, and it ought not to have been treated in this way. Such a state of affairs has not occurred in this Parliament before. It is quite impossible to discuss a Bill in this way. All the issues we wished to bring up have been denied to us, and we are brought on to an Amendment which is simply childish. We cannot discuss the Bill in this way. We had a variety of important points which we have tried to raise to the best of our ability. There has been absolutely no obstruction in connection with this Bill at all. We have been two days in Committee, whereas on the Home Rule Bill of 1893 the House of Commons was in Committee for 53 days; yet this Bill is of infinitely greater importance than the Home Rule Bill of 1893- Further, it has been drafted in such a way that the only points we can raise in regard to it had to be raised on the first Sub-section of the first Clause. That was the ruling of the Chair itself. We know perfectly well it is impossible, owing to the way in which the Bill has been drafted, to raise any of these questions on the Schedule. It was therefore necessary for us to raise all germane and important points—points not merely of drafting, points that were not obstructive—by means of provisos on the first Sub-section of the Bill. Now, owing to the action of the Government and what they have been allowed to do, we are denied the opportunity of raising and setting forth, for the education of the country, our objections in detail to this Bill. We are being muzzled as an Opposition has never been muzzled before. We have been treated with a contempt with which an Opposition has never been treated before.
Minorities, until now, have been allowed in the House of Commons to make their protest. Although they may have been voted down time and again, they have been allowed to make their protest and to examine the proposals that 983 have been put before the House; but we have been denied that to-night, and the whole of the remainder of the Committee stage of this Bill now becomes a. disgusting farce—there is no other word for it. There is not a single one of the main points remaining to be moved by those who desire to criticise the Bill, and not only to criticise it, but also to expose it and to try to get the Government to defend it; to analyse it in order to teach the country and the Empire what it means. There is not a single one of those points that is not shut out by the cowardly attempt at a muzzling order by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman sits there while his companions and colleagues are at dinner. Nine-tenths of them have not deigned to come into this Chamber during these Debates. The country nowadays is not governed by Parliament, but by secret juntas and confabulations of Ministers with rebels or assassins, or other self-appointed people, in Downing Street and other quarters. The House of Commons is treated as it never has been treated before. It is useless for us to continue the Debate in that way. If the Government are going to cut out, by their trickery, the Amendments which it is awkward for them to discuss and which they do not desire to have ventilated, why have a House of Commons at all? If we are only going to have the Amendments which the Government think it is convenient for them should be taken, what is the use of asking hon. Members to make any criticisms or suggestions at all? This Amendment, which has been served up to us as a sort of pretence, that we can munch while Ministers are munching their dinner, is not an Amendment that is worthy of the consideration of the House of Commons. The Government could easily dispose of an Amendment of that sort, because it would make the Bill quite unworkable. The Amendments, however, which we have been refused permission to move, were Amendments which could have been worked into the Bill, and for which there is a case to be stated; but we have been denied the right to that. I challenge the Government, I challenge the Chair, to point to a single instance in which an Opposition has been treated in the way in which we have been treated. Therefore, I desire to move that the Chairman do report Progress.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am unable to accept the Motion, because it would be a reflection on the Committee.
§ Mr. MOLES
I hope, Sir Edwin, that while you rule, as we know you always do, with conspicuous fairness and as much generosity as the Rules permit, you will afford to us, in view of the just indignation which we all feel at the monstrous treatment which has been meted out to us, some degree of latitude of expression.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am sure the hon. Member realises that it is not open to Members to reflect upon the decision of the Committee.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
A Division was taken, and the Committee came to a decision. Hon. Members may disagree with the decision of the Committee, but the Committee has come to a decision, and it is quite beyond my power to allow a discussion which reflects on that decision.
§ Viscount WOLMER
Do you think that the Committee really realised what they were doing? Nine-tenths of them were at dinner.
§ Mr. MOLES
I quite realise that, and, even if I did not, I would most loyally accept any decision of yours. But, on the Amendment now before the Committee, let us look where we are. We put down no Amendments without prolonged consideration. We put down no Amendments of any sort or kind that were not animated by a desire to make this Treaty, in so far as it affected us, a workable Treaty. We had no desire in the world to obstruct it, so far as it affected the Irish Free State. Our desire alone was that it should impose no injury or injustice upon us, and there is not a solitary Amendment on the Paper, good, bad or indifferent, through which that sentiment and principle does not run. That is why we feel acutely the fact that Amendments which were put on the Paper with that as their objective have every one been swept off. We complain, and have a right to complain, that the great Unionist party, the largest party in the House of Commons, the 985 party to which we belong, and which we have so loyally and steadfastly supported through fair weather and foul, through good and evil report, has treated us with a contempt which no party in the House of Commons has ever shown before. Not one of them has come to the Government Bench to stand up and defend its position, to try and mitigate the wrongs which we have sought to rectify. They leave the right hon. Gentleman there like Casabianca—the boy standing on the burning deck, whence all but he have fled, except a couple of Junior Lords of the Treasury; and we are expected to submit to that kind of indignity. No kind of courtesy is extended to its. This thing has been sprung upon us in a manner which I know I may not venture to describe in the language in which I feel inclined to describe it; but I think there is no parallel to it, except the gentleman who operates at a country fair with the pea under the thimble. It is that kind of trickery that incenses us so much.
I regret very much that it is not open to you to accept the Noble Lord's Motion to report progress, but, if that be not open to us, there is a method open to us of registering our protest here in the most emphatic and, indeed, the only way that is left to us. The Government do not care twopence about the opinion of the Committee, or of the House, or of the country. They have trampled us down, they have trampled the Committee down, and they flout and utterly disregard public opinion; but that cannot go on for long. Time is on our side, and the principles for which we stand, and for which we have contended in this Committee and in the House of Commons, will, when the inevitable appeal to the country comes, be vindicated there, and the Government which has treated us in such a brutal and contemptuous fashion will itself be treated as ruthlessly and as contemptuously as, and certainly very much more justly than, they have treated us. So far as I am concerned, and I believe I speak for my colleagues, if that be the attitude of the Government, and they resolve to resort to a sort of thing that has not been seen before in the House of Commons, and if this Committee will support them and submit to it like tame poodles, I will take no further part in a discussion which is reduced to an utter travesty of justice. The right hon. Gentleman, who not so 986 long ago was standing at that Box in different circumstances from those of today, frequently had to turn to these Benches and appeal for sympathy, and he always got it. He is now the main agent in wiping his boots upon those whose help he sorely needed, and whose help he got in times past. I do not wish to remind him of the ingratitude of that. There is no use in appealing to his sense of justice if there is none to appeal to. He may defend his principles as long as he likes, but there is no one in the Committee who believes that either he or the Government have any principles to defend or justify. He belongs to a group of political latitudinarians who believe in nothing except possession of the Treasury Bench and will resort to any artifice to retain possession. However, I see I am trespassing on the rules and possibly on your patience. I have made my protest. I know how ineffective it is, but I am confident that sooner or later the Government, when it makes its appeal to the country, will be judged by the country.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
I do not think the last two or three speeches quite worthy of the occasion, and I should advise my hon. Friends opposite, however sure they may feel about the passage of this Bill or the general attitude which has been adopted by the Government relating to this Treaty as a whole, not to desert the discussions, no matter how much they may be voted down. I have been in the House 17 years, and I have seen two or three occasions when Members have been voted down, and have decided, in view of the apparently hopeless position of their cause so far as numbers are concerned, to desert the House, but I have never known any good to result to their cause. I have the greatest sympathy with hon. Members opposite. I cannot forget the way in which they unquestionably have been deceived, perhaps not intentionally, and I can quite understand, therefore, the way in which their feelings have been aroused, but I ask. them to consider, after all, that they represent an important part, so far, of the United Kingdom, and a part which I understand has decided to remain with us, and under the circumstances, while the majority of this House, and the majority of the country, have agreed to see an effort made along the lines of this Treaty, to see if the century-old dispute between us and the South of Ireland 987 cannot possibly be settled. I am sure anything we can do to assuage the feelings of our Friends opposite we shall do. At least that is the way I look on the subject. I hope bad feeling will not be generated in any way.
There are one or two questions I should like to ask relating to the Amendment. Really, for myself, if I were in the position of the Chief Secretary, I should care very little whether the Amendment were carried or withdrawn or what became of it, because it gives effect to Article 17 of the Agreement. So far as I can see, there is not a thing in that Article which has not already been carried out. The meeting of the Dail has taken place, the meeting of the Southern Parliament has taken place. The ratification has taken place by a very small majority after one of the most unseemly debates the world has ever seen, where more venom and hatred against a great and generous people was given utterance to than was ever the case in a similar discussion before.By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of Members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland since the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920"—That has been done.and for constituting a Provisional Government"—That has been done.and the British Government shall take steps to transfer to such Provisional Government the powers and machinery requisite for the discharge of its duties.You have given them authority over the police. You have withdrawn your Army and established theirs. You have done, it seems to me, everything that Article 17 requires, and it is a mere matter of form now whether we legalise it or not. It is already effected, whether our decision is in favour of it or not. There is, however, one thing I should like to know. One part of the Article is extremely interesting to me. I should like to know whether the Chief Secretary can give any information on the subject—Provided that every member of such Provisional Government shall have signified 988 in writing his or her acceptance of this instrument.Has every Member of the Provisional Government signified in writing his absolute acceptance of the Treaty, in its entirety, without any reservation? It would be extremely interesting to know whether this is a fact or not, because I should imagine it is essential that if we are to stick so religiously to the Treaty the other side should stick equally religiously to it, and if the written signature of each of these men without reservation has not been secured it is unquestionably a serious breach of the Treaty itself. But I am assuming that there is* that signature. I am assuming, from all I can see, that the other side are attempting to the best of their ability under the circumstances to carry out their side of the bargain. I hope it is so, and if so there is no reason for us to be quarrelling who happen to differ upon the necessity of this Treaty, because there are serious differences amongst those who take a wide democratic view of things generally so far as this movement is concerned. I am delighted to think that our friends in the North of Ireland have decided to remain with us, and I cannot understand the Government wishing to push them out. I hope that we shall do everything to have solid discussion in regard to these serious differences, but that we shall not, in connection with what one had hoped would be a message of peace and goodwill between two estranged peoples, end in estranging ourselves one from another.
§ Captain CRAIG
I thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman on behalf of my colleagues and myself for what he has said. The course which has been suggested by some of my hon. Friends is practically the only course which is left for us to pursue. Such few Members of the Committee as are now present will agree with me when I say that all the Amendments that have been put down by colleagues of my own, and I think it can be equally said about the Amendments put down by other hon. Members, are of a most reasonable description. The Committee will agree that there is not one single Amendment which can in any way be described as a blocking Amendment or a wrecking Amendment. We feel very deeply that so little attention has been paid to the attempts which we have made, in all good faith, to render less 989 objectionable, from our point of view, the Bill which we are now discussing. On practically every occasion the Government has admitted that our Amendments are reasonable, and the only objection they have taken to them is that they have not been brought forward at the proper time. They have said that if they came forward in six months' time, when another Bill comes before the House, they would be acceptable to the Government. We do not take that view. We have moved our Amendments, but, owing to the action of the Government, a number of Amendments of equal importance to those we have moved have been ruled out, and we take the view that very little good can come by our proceeding with the other Amendments which stand in our name. We know that they will be received in the same spirit by the Government. Some of them will be dubbed reasonable Amendments, but Amendments which cannot be accepted at the present time.
The only qualms I have in taking the course which I propose to recommend to my colleagues is that there are two Amendments by the Secretary of State for the Colonies about which we should have liked to have said something. One of them is to insert in Sub-section (2), the words "and not later than four months." The Sub-section will then read:… as soon as may be and not later than four months after the passing of this Actthe Parliament of Southern Ireland shall be dissolved and steps taken for an election. There is a great deal to be said on that Amendment. As we all know, the whole tenour of the arguments of Members of the Government who have spoken on this Bill has been that no alteration, modification, amplification, declaration, explanation, etc., etc. can be made and yet, after iterating and reiterating these statements for days on every succeeding stage of the Bill, we find that, at the instigation of the Dail Eireann, the Government is prepared to change their Bill in spite of the fact that they have from time to time declared that not one word must be altered. I will not elaborate that point, but I ask hon. Members to note the fact that whereas the Government have refused to meet us by the alteration of one word or one comma of the Bill, as soon as the Provisional Government asks them, or rather as soon as 990 they pass a Resolution in Dublin which necessitates a change in the Bill, the Government fall in with their wishes. There is a second Amendment of the Secretary for the Colonies, which states thatAny Order in Council under this Section"—the Section we are now discussing—may contain such incidental, consequential, or supplemental provisions as may appear to be necessary or proper for the purpose of giving effect to the foregoing provisions of this Section.If we thought it any use we could have had a long Debate on that subject, because it is quite obvious that under the terms of that Amendment the Government could do anything they liked in Ireland. We do not think the Government should have that Amendment. Of course, they will get it, because they have a subservient majority in this House which, as its last dying kick before the Coalition is broken up, will apparently do anything that the Government asks them. But I would point out to the few Members of the Committee who are present that this Amendment gives to the Government—a Government which we Ulster men have every reason to distrust for the way in which they have treated us in connection with this Treaty—absolute power to do anything they like in Ulster. They can make whatever arrangements they like on such questions as boundaries or anything else. If we thought it worth our while we could have a very prolonged discussion on that Amendment. With both those Amendments we entirely and absolutely disagree, but as the discussion during the last two and a half hours has proved that any amelioration of our position under this Bill from any Amendment put down to make the Bill a less bad Bill than it is at the present time is doomed to absolute failure, I shall take no further part in this Debate, and I hope that my colleagues from Ulster will do the same thing.
§ Captain Viscount CURZON
Unfortunately I was not in my place when the ruling was given which, I understand, has had the effect of cutting out most of the Amendments on the Paper. I was not therefore able to utter my protest. One of the things that has struck me in connection with this Bill is that it is essentially a Bill that must be obtained by 991 general consent. There is very little hope for it in Ireland unless you get general consent, but, unfortunately, action has been taken by the Government in some way which has had the effect of making hon. Members opposite take no further part in the discussion. Their counsel and criticism would have been most helpful to our proceedings, and it is a matter of regret to Englishmen like myself that hon. Members opposite feel the uselessness of taking any further part. I say now, as I said last week, that there is not a single Amendment which was in any way designed to wreck or destroy the Bill. In common with hon. Members opposite I look upon the Treaty as a fait accompli which we have no power to vary in its main essentials, but we want to make the Bill a really honest, workmanlike, statesmanlike Measure, if possible. This Bill is founded upon an Agreement which was drawn up at midnight, and the Clauses are nearly all ambiguous. The Government have failed to explain them; in fact they have gone so far as to say they will not explain them. I do not know whether they say they cannot.
I have sat with very short exceptions through the whole of this Debate, and during all that time not a single Unionist Minister has spoken. That is a point which every Unionist had better take to heart. It is a notable fact that the Leader of the House has not been present to explain a single Clause, and there has not been a single Unionist or Conservative on the Ministerial Bench. None but Liberal Ministers have sat there during the whole discussion. That is not a point to be forgotten. Hon. Members with whom I am associated only want to make the, Bill a workable Measure. We have given a great deal of time and thought to getting our Amendments into shape, and half of them are cut out. I sympathise sincerely with the hon. Members from Ulster. They have been treated shamefully. The Government have gone behind the back of Parliament and of the country in arriving at this agreement with Sinn Fein, and now they cannot or will not explain this thing in the House of Commons. They will not allow us to alter a single comma of the Bill. They burk all discussion or closure us when we endeavour to have discussion, and they get the other Amendments ruled out. I am sorry that hon. Members opposite have 992 seen it necessary to take the course which they are adopting, but I understand their reasons. There is very little good in an English Member continuing the discussion in these circumstances. I cannot think that the action which they are taking will redound to the credit of the Government, who, I believe, will live to regret the day when they brought into being this Treaty, which, thank God, I voted against every time it came before the House.
§ Captain LOSEBY
There are two or three observations of the hon. and gallant Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig) and the Noble Lord which ought not to go unchallenged. The hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested that though Amendments which have been brought forward by the Members who represent Ulster have received scant courtesy, nevertheless, Amendments which he stated had been initiated by the Provisional Government of Ireland, have been accepted. There is no one who has not the deepest sympathy with the Ulster Members, but, in my humble opinion, it would have been impossible for the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this Bill to have treated any Amendment with greater respect, sympathy or courtesy—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have allowed a few Members who have very strong feelings upon the matter to make a protest, and I thought that it was only reasonable on my part that I should do so, but to allow a discussion as to procedure, which has already been decided by the Committee, would be quite out of order.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "be" ["may be after"], to insert the words, "and not later than four months."
This Amendment postpones the election until the Constitution of the Free State has been framed. It is hoped that under the new arrangement this may be done early in June; but the Amendment allows a certain amount of latitude by giving until the latter part of July. I 993 hope that the Committee will think the Amendment a reasonable one.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD
One cannot help being struck by the peculiar attitude adopted by right hon. Gentlemen on that Bench in reference to Amendments put forward by friends of the country as compared with those put forward by persons who are admittedly our enemies. If one had the Committee present instead of being mostly away at dinner, I should imagine that, after hearing the discussion, the Committee would reject this Amendment. I do feel the greatest sympathy with men who are to come under the operations of this Act, to a certain extent, and to live so near their shadow, so to speak, as to be affected by their possibilities. We have put down, as they have done, numerous Amendments dealing with the different problems which we thought-required safeguard and elucidation, and every speech from the Government Bench has been: "We cannot alter a word, because the moment we insert something that is in the slightest degree contrary to the Treaty we destroy the arrangement made between representatives of Southern Ireland and representatives of the British Government." And now, with no reference whatever to the Treaty, the South of Ireland, both sides hostile, one more hostile than the other, come to an arrangement by which they decide that the Treaty itself so far as the time of its introduction and its working are concerned, shall be delayed for three or four months. They made that arrangement for some purpose of their own; nobody knows what. The Chief Secretary has not attempted to tell us. He might have suggested why, these two parties in Ireland having met together and decided to abrogate some part of the Treaty, we should be obliged to amend the Bill which the Government drafted with the determination that it should not be altered in a syllable. This is stretching the loyalty even of those supporters of the Government who agree with this Treaty, even men like myself who have gone into the Lobby time after time because they believed that every genuine effort should be made, if it were possible to do so, in spite of the violent occurrences taking place from day to day, which must naturally occur in the state of transition between the old order and the new, to support the Measure in the belief that we ought to give it a trial.
994 It is indeed straining one's loyalty when one has supported the Government right-through in order that no word, no line, and no syllable shall be altered if the suggestion comes from our friends from Ulster—those who wish to stay with us. There is no comfort for them nor consideration for any suggestion from them. Why should we bother about them, those who are going to stick to us, the people we ought to consider? The persons whose voices shall be listened to are not those, and to some extent this is the attitude of the Government generally on almost every question, that if a man or a party will stand out and fight and mean it—not the shillyshallying things such as we sometimes see from the Opposition in this House, but real opposition—then the diehards will soon get something. One sees it to be a fatal instinct of party Government to assist enemies rather than to support and maintain friends. We have seen to-day appeal after appeal from a little band that has been voted out of existence and has retired from the discussions through disgust. They are removed from this farce of debate, because this Amendment has reduced it to a farce. The story told us up to this moment has been that not a line of this Bill should be changed, that not a syllable, nor a single detail connected with it from A to Z could be altered in any way whatever. We now know, as a matter of fact, that while that is the answer to our friends in Ulster, and even to our friends in England who to a certain extent indirectly represent Ulster, the answer to those who are our enemies, who are doing everything: they can against our authority, even in: that part of Ireland that still remains to us, is that the moment a suggestion comes from them it is laid hold of with both hands. I do not say I will vote against the Amendment proposed by the Colonial Secretary, or the Chief Secretary as the case may be, but I do say that it shows up the utter absurdity of the pretence that not a line or a comma can be altered. It shows that all that was wanted was a suggestion for a change to come from the right quarter, from those opposed to this House, the country, and the Empire generally. Then the suggestion will be favourably received, but any suggested Amendment in the interest of the people who are going to remain with us, any suggestion for their protection—it may not be legal or proper, but it satis- 995 fies some sentiment connected with their position in Ireland—is rejected. When one sees the difference in treatment of the two suppliants to this House, as it were, those who are our friends and those who have been, and I am afraid will continue, to be our enemies, I am astounded by the attitude adopted by the Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Really I am seriously concerned that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward) should have teen the victim of such a complete misunderstanding. This Amendment I am moving does not affect the Treaty in any way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It has absolutely nothing to do with the Treaty.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Really, the intelligence for which my hon. and gallant Friend is so justly renowned should protect him from remarks of that character. There is the Treaty, and there are the methods, the time table, machinery, and procedure by which the Treaty is to be brought into operation—a totally different thing. The Treaty is a thing that cannot be altered except by agreement with the other party. The time table by which the Treaty is brought into operation has nothing sacrosanct about it. It is a matter of administrative convenience. In this case it is perfectly true we are altering our plans, but not the plan of the Treaty, nor of the Agreement arrived at between the British and Irish representatives at the conference. What we are doing is to alter the plan for bringing this Treaty into operation that we put before the House when we introduced the Bill. Why are we doing that? When we introduced the Bill, the view taken in Ireland of the position was—you may perfectly well consider their view; they are trying to bring the Treaty into operation and to set up their Free State—the view taken was that the election should be held at the earliest possible moment. They then had discussions in their Sinn Fein caucus, and they reached an agreement to which we were not a party at all, but which was from their point of view satisfactory. That agreement was based on the fact that there should be a three or four months' delay in the elec- 996 tion, and that the Constitution should be put forward to the Irish people at the time that the Treaty is also put before them, so that they know for what it is they are going to vote. What is called the pig-in-the-poke argument was used with great effect. We used it when we said that the Ulster month should only run from the time that the Constitution had been definitely agreed to. The same argument was used by Mr. De Valera, who argued as to why the Irish people should take the Treaty without seeing the Constitution which was to implement it. In these circumstances, they agreed to put off the election for three months. We naturally endeavoured to facilitate its carrying out. What effect does it have on the Treaty? Not in the slightest degree does it alter it at all. Nor does it affix any interpretation, or modify, or extend it. I repudiate altogether the suggestion. I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend has really been misled, and I repudiate the contention altogether. I would repudiate it with indignation if it came from anyone with whom I agreed less often on important matters. The suggestion that we have one measure of treatment for our friends and another for our enemies I do not accept in any way so far as this Bill is concerned, which is what I am responsible for. I have explained most clearly that I am quite ready to discuss with a view to acceptance any Amendment of this Bill that does not affect in any way the Treaty.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Almost every one of those Amendments affected the Treaty. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not suggest that we are prepared to consent to a modification of the Treaty when it is asked for by Sinn Fein and we refuse when it is asked for by those in the North. There is absolutely no truth whatever in that. This Amendment has no effect whatever on the Treaty.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am afraid I do not quite understand the statement which has just been made by the Colonial Secretary. First, may I offer sincere congratulations to the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel John Ward)? A more powerful, honest, and clear speech I do not think I have ever 997 heard. I wish I could say quite the same in regard to the speech of the Colonial Secretary. I am very much afraid I cannot. I do not wish to misrepresent the Colonial Secretary, and he will correct me if I say anything which is wrong, but I understood him to state that this Amendment would not in any way alter the Treaty but merely makes an alteration in the Bill.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It merely makes an alteration in those parts of the Bill which deal with bringing the Treaty into operation.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I now ask the Committee to turn to Article 17 of the Treaty which states that—By way of provisional arrangement for the administration of Southern Ireland during the interval which must elapse between the date hereof and the constitution of a Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State in accordance therewith, steps shall be taken forthwith for summoning a meeting of Members of Parliament elected for constituencies in Southern Ireland.Now the Colonial Secretary is going to alter in another part of the Bill the word "forthwith" to "not later than four months."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, my right hon. Friend is quite wrong. This applied to the approval process. That was to be taken forthwith. Members for the constituencies in Southern Ireland were summoned after the Dail Eireann meeting. The members of the Dail Eireann were summoned and also the extra members—the Unionist members—and action was taken in strict accordance with this.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not wish to put a false interpretation upon the Colonial Secretary's word. This is much too important a matter to endeavour to take any advantage of any sort or kind, but it seems to me that the meeting of Members of Parliament to be summoned "forthwith" is altered by the Amendment of the Colonial Secretary, which has the effect of making the Bill read that the Parliament of Southern Ireland shall be dissolved and necessary steps taken within four months. Presuming I am wrong, and that this does not alter the Treaty, will the right hon. Gentleman point out to the Committee what it really 998 does? The right hon. Gentleman said it was intended in this Bill thatAs 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, etc.That is going to be altered.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Why is it going to be altered? Because the Republicans in Ireland have made an arrangement with the Provisional Government. That is a statement that no one can gainsay. A week ago we were told that the Provisional Government, who carried the ratification of the Treaty by a majority of seven, were really the friends of England, and that we must do everything to support them. They have now made a compact with the Republicans, who are the enemies of England. No later than last Thursday an hon. and gallant Member said he would give the last drop of his blood and the last farthing in his pocket before there would be any question of granting a Republic to Ireland. That was cheered from the Front Bench. What has happened? The Provisional Government have made an agreement with the Republicans, and because of that agreement this is to be altered. Whether it is in the Treaty or in the Bill, there is to be an alteration because of this agreement with the Republicans. What a day on which to alter it! We were told at Question time that some hundreds of armed men had taken possession of the city of Limerick. May I ask the Colonial Secretary whether there have been any telegrams of congratulation from foreign nations upon that event? We were told that all the foreign nations extolled the Provisional Government because it would lead to peace. With the exception of a large number of murders, all it has led to so far is the occupation of a city in Ireland by a force of some hundreds of armed men. We ought to drop this farce. Not only is the Eleven o'clock Rule suspended, but advantage is taken of the Guillotine Rule to stop discussion, and that is done during dinner time, when very few Members are present. Now we are asked to humbly submit to a proposal made by the enemies of our country, the Republicans in Ireland. I do not propose to say anything more. It is useless to continue this Debate. The Colonial Secretary, two or three hours ago, told 999 us it was absurd to say that certain things could not be done, because Parliament could do anything and cancel anything. Parliament under this Government can do nothing except register the decrees of the Government, which, in nine cases out of ten—I must correct that and say in every case—are in favour of our enemies and against our friends.
The Colonial Secretary spoke somewhat airily about what four months' delay would mean to this House. He said it would mean nothing at all. May I point out to him and to the Committee what four months' delay means to us in the South of Ireland? It means four months more of anarchy; and anarchy is not a pleasant thing. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the present moment, in the town of Tip-perary, the red flag is flying from the gasworks, which have been seized by the Soviet party? The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has already told the Committee about Limerick being seized by Irish Republican troops. I could go on for the next two or three hours telling the Committee of various outrages, big outrages, small outrages, and petty outrages, perpetrated on the few remaining members of the loyalist population in the three Southern counties. I can tell the Committee what we loyalists want. We want government of some sort. If you asked the ordinary, over-driven, persecuted loyalist Protestant farmer in the three Southern counties what government he wanted, he would say, "I do not care, but, for God's sake, give me a government of some sort." We know perfectly well that this particular Government have backed one Irish tribe to win, and that is the Collins tribe. They have given them lots of ammunition and rifles and money, and backed them to win as against the de Valera tribe. We shall thus eventually, in the course of months, get some sort of government, probably a reactionary government, a government run by the priesthood and the peasant proprietors with some of the working elements of the big towns who are under the Soviet flag. That is going to be our future, but let us have, as soon as we can, even that government. Do not keep us for four months longer watching the play acting of Mr. de 1000 Valera or President Arthur Griffith. There is no reason for it.
Supposing I was to ask the Colonial Secretary the reason for this adjournment, he would say it was because Mr. Collins said it was necessary for drawing up the new Constitution. That Constitution is to be drawn up, not by a properly elected body, but by Mr. Collins' tribe and Mr. de Valera's tribe, and the Irish people are to choose between them. Mr. Collins said that so far as his tribe was concerned, they have done 60 per cent, of their work, that 60 per cent, of Mr. Collins Constitution was ready and could be submitted to Ireland to-morrow. Therefore, why did Mr. Collins want four more months for drawing up the Constitution? It could be done in a month. Then, again, why have Dail Eireann adjourned till 25th April? In their debates, which I have followed very closely, there was not a word said about drawing up the Constitution as the reason for adjourning. They simply disappeared till 25th April. What is going to happen at the end of four months? They have adjourned simply in order to allow Ireland to know for the next four months that one assembly only in Ireland is supreme, that there is only one body in Ireland that functions, and if Mr. de Valera had not got that pronouncement from President Griffith the Dail would not have been allowed to adjourn the other day. This is what Mr. de Valera asked President Griffith:I ask the President, as they are his nominations in the Cabinet, to give an assurance here in terms similar to those mentioned by the Minister of Defence, that he still holds that this is the Sovereign Assembly of the nation. … We want an assurance that this is the Sovereign Assembly of the nation, and that any Ministers or others who exercise authority, through whatever channels they may exercise it, do so in virtue of this authority and no other. I simply want an assurance that the authority of Dail Eireann is maintained. Otherwise, if there is some other sovereign body, I do not, for one, want to come here.Mr. Griffith replied:Every Minister here is a Minister for Dail Eireann. As a Minister for Dail Eireann he is going to see that the Provisional Government works in harmony with Dail Eireann.Mr. de VALERA: Hear, hear!Therefore, for the next four months Dail Eireann is supreme in Ireland. Dail Eireann, and not the Provisional Govern- 1001 ment, runs the country. What is going to happen at the end of the four months I do not know, but to give these four months extra is, I am sure, a foolish and a wrong thing to do on the part of the Government.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I think the time has come when we should ask the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman) for whom he speaks. He says he speaks for the Southern Unionists, but who gave him his mandate to speak for them?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Nothing of the sort. There is no committee in any part of the world so foolish as to authorise the hon. and gallant Gentleman to speak for them. There are in this House Southern Unionists. There are members of the Southern Irish Parliament who are Unionists, and all these gentlemen elected by Unionists and by Protestants in the South of Ireland are in favour of this Treaty. Not one of them has taken exception to the Treaty. All the Irish Members elected to the Southern Parliament are in favour of the Treaty, and everyone of those men has done everything possible to ease the situation. I recognise the difficulties in Southern Ireland. The hon. and gallant Member says they want some form of government, but he wants to prevent them from having any government. May I remind him of this fact, that at the time when we were doing our best to save the constitutional movement in Ireland, when the party to which I belonged was assisting and cooperating with you in order to keep great matters of vital concern in the hands of the Imperial Government, I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley say he would vote for Sinn Feiners before he would vote for us. Will he deny that? No, he will not. This is the same old unchanging policy to-day as it always was, always opposing progress, always endeavouring to keep Irishmen asunder, to foster hatred between two peoples and nations who ought to co-operate in a spirit of humanity and brotherhood. This is the last gasp of reaction in Ireland.
1002 I do not object at all to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman's opinion, but when he gets up to speak for any volume of public opinion in Ireland, Northern or Southern, Eastern or Western, any intelligent public opinion, I am inclined to enter a caveat, and I enter it here and now. He has done nothing, as I told him earlier in the evening, but try to create fresh mischief and to maintain bad blood, and he uses his position in this House—he is not an Irish Member at all; he represents some English constituency; I do not know where it is, but I will go some time and see what it is like—for the purpose of misrepresenting the opinions of Southern Ireland. He says he represents a Unionist Committee. There is undoubtedly a Unionist Committee in Southern Ireland. It is made up of men of the highest distinction, that is, of the highest distinction from their own point of view. They are all landlords and wealthy men. They are all men who have what you would call here a stake in the country. I regret that I have not got their names here, or I would recite them to the Committee. It seems to me a strange thing that they are all profoundly anxious for this solution.
As to whether this Treaty is a right solution or not, I have had nothing to do with it, and I do not want anything to do with it. I want to make the matter perfectly clear that, so far as Southern Unionist opinion can express itself in an authoritative fashion, it has done so through the real Unionist Council, as people understand it. In addition, they have a very powerful newspaper in Ireland, a newspaper which ranks as one of the greatest in the three kingdoms, the "Irish Times," which has supported this Treaty, and has no sympathy with the attitude of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who takes advantage of the absence of representatives of Southern Unionists to some here and express their opinion for them, when he has been repudiated every time he has dared to speak for them in this House or out of it.
§ Captain LOSEBY
I rise to speak on this Amendment, because I am afraid of the impression that will be caused by the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward), whose words always carry—and rightly carry—such weight in the country. The hon. and 1003 gallant Member criticised this Amendment because he said he suspected that it was initiated from the Provisional Government of Ireland, and he was alarmed because an Amendment initiated from the other side had been accepted, whereas an Amendment put down by hon. Members speaking in the interests of Ulster had not been accepted. It seems to me perfectly clear, and I do think my hon. and gallant Friend was under a misapprehension. Surely a Treaty is in exactly the same position as a contract. Where either of the two parties to a contract put their contract in writing, it is surely impossible to alter it by a comma or a letter without violating that contract, and it is idle for beneficiaries to come along and say this and that would improve the contract. The answer must be, "Whether we agree with you or not, it is quite impossible, unless there be mutual agreement in regard to it." I think it is highly dangerous to let it go out from this Committee that the Amendments put down by hon. Members who are anxious on behalf of Ulster, as this whole House is, have been treated with any kind of discourtesy, as it must be known that, although deep sympathy may have been felt for those Amendments, it was utterly impossible even to consider them.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
The hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) took up his full time in this Committee, not in speaking about the Amendment at all, but in criticising the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman), because he had given his opinion on this Amendment, when, according to the hon. Member for the Falls Division, he had no right to speak or to express an opinion. It is going to be an entirely new theory if hon. Members cannot speak about a particular Amendment with out being asked for whom they speak. The Colonial Secretary pretends—and I say "pretends" advisedly, because he really must know—that this is an unimportant Amendment. I suggest it is an extremely important one. We are not allowed to alter the wording of this Bill, because it is said, if we do, it will be breaking the Treaty. He has altered the Treaty himself, and expects us to take it lying down. The really important point, it seems to me, is that if this Amendment be accepted, by which the time is extended to four months, 1004 it means that the Constitution, which is really the important part in regard to our relations with Ireland in the future, is going to be drafted, not by a properly constituted Parliament, as was promised, but by people who have been returned there as members of the Republican party. In December, when this Treaty was first brought before this House, the Government laid great stress on the fact that the Constitution was going to be drafted by men who had taken the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown. If this Amendment be carried, the Constitution will not be drafted by men who have taken that Oath of Allegiance, but by men who have taken an oath of allegiance to the Republic. I say that is a vital difference. This is what the Secretary of State for War said in December last:It means that presently—next Session—we shall be asked in this House to establish a Constitution for the Irish Free State, and part of the terms of the settlement will be that the members who go to serve in that Free State Parliament will have to swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution as passed by the House of Commons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1921; col. 249, Vol. 149.]If these four months are passed, I ask the Colonial Secretary, Who is going to draw up the Constitution in the meantime? These very men who have not taken the Oath of Allegiance.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It is not going to be drawn up by the Dail Eireann, but under the authority of the Provisional Government.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
If you read Article 17, you will see there that it is to be drawn up by people who constitute the Southern Parliament, who are being elected in accordance with the terms of the Agree- 1005 ment, by which they take the oath. It is an entirely different proposition, and, as another hon. Member has said, it must prolong this difficulty for four months. Why should it be? It is because the right hon. Gentleman has again surrendered. He has surrendered to threats and force. One of the main objects which the Government put forward last December for this amazing. Treaty was that they were dealing with people who could deliver the goods. Now they find they cannot deliver the goods; they can only see wherever they can deliver the goods, if the Republican Army allows them to do so. Yet the Colonial Secretary comes here and says that this is merely a drafting Amendment! I certainly hope that the Committee will divide against the Government.
§ Viscount CURZON
I should like to point out the contrast which seems to me to exist in the treatment which has been accorded to my hon. Friends from Ulster, who have left the Committee, and to the treatment which is accorded to other parties to this Treaty. Our Friends opposite moved Amendment after Amendment, and they were told that they could not be accepted because they expanded and amplified the Treaty, but when it comes to the other Parties to the Agreement, and when they want something inserted in the Treaty, the Government are quite ready to move any Amendment they wish. I could understand that if the Government would only do what seems to me to be the honest thing and say, "We are very sorry; we have got a pistol at our heads. If this Treaty is ever to work we have got to do this thing. We know it is a variation of the Treaty, but we cannot help it." The Colonial Secretary, however, does not take that view.
|Division No. 36.]||AYES.||[10.10 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Cope, Major William|
|Ammon, Charles George||Breese, Major Charles E.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Briant, Frank||Davidson, J. C. c. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bruton, Sir James||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Devlin, Joseph|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Cairns, John||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Foot, Isaac|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Forrest, Walter|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Blane, T. A.||Clough, Sir Robert||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
§ He says it is not a variation of the Treaty, and that is what I cannot understand. Why cannot the Government be honest and say what they mean?
§ I should like to say just one word in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Bradford (Captain Loseby). I must apologise for having interrupted him, but when he accused me of consistently misrepresenting those who supported the Government, I felt that he was saying what was not quite fair to me. I have only spoken twice in this Debate. He has spoken twice this evening, and therefore I do not think that he can say that I have consistently misrepresented those who supported the Government. It is true that I have taken a different view from him, but I have no doubt that their view is quite as honest as mine. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin), they seem to be very amusing, but I recollect the other day he said he looked upon Mr. Michael Collins as being his lieutenant.
§ Viscount CURZON
Therefore the hon. Member must act as Mr. Collins's cabin boy. I hope that hon. Members from Ulster will be able to take part in this discussion at a later stage. I feel that we lose on this Amendment a great deal of the benefit of their counsel, and there for I hope that, however sore they may feel now, during the future stages of this Bill they see fit to take their places again in the Committee.
§ Question put, "That these words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 217; Noes, 36.
|Galbraith, Samuel||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Lloyd, George Butler||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Goff, Sir R. Park||Lorden, John William||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Gould, James C.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lawther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Grant, James Augustus||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Lunn, William||Sexton, James|
|Green, Joseph F, (Leicester, W.)||M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. Charles A.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Gregory, Holman||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Magnus, Sir Philip||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Matthews, David||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Morrison, Hugh||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hancock, John George||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Myers, Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Mayday, Arthur||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hayward, Evan||Neal, Arthur||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Townshend, Sir Charles Vera Ferrers|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Newson, Sir Percy W.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Hirst, G. H.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Waddington, R.|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Walters, Rt. Hon. sir John Tudor|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn,W.)||Parker, James||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wignall, James|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Perring, William George||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Philippe, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Windsor, viscount|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Pilditch, Sir Philip||Winterton, Earl|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Wintringham, Margaret|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wise, Frederick|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Purchase, H. G.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr N.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Remer, J. R.||Younger, Sir George|
|Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Rendall, Atheistan|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Richardson, Sir Alex, (Gravesend)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Rose, Frank H.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Houston, Sir Robert Patterson||Remnant, Sir James|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Larmor, Sir Joseph||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Molson, Major John Eisdale||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Sir F. Banbury and Captain Foxcroft.|
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment on the Order Paper that I propose to call is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Pennefather), in Subsection (2), after the word "elected," to insert the wordsafter having taken the prescribed oath and having signified his or her acceptance 1008 of this instrument in like manner as provided for every member of the Provisional Government in Article 17.Before, however, I call upon the hon. Member, I propose to invite the hon. Member for the Seaham Division of Durham (Mr. Hayward), if he wishes to press his Amendment at this stage, to 1009 make an explanatory statement, as I am not quite clear as to its significance.
§ Mr. HAYWARD
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the words "which would have been" ["for the constituencies which would have been entitled to elect members"].
It seems to me that either these words ought to be left out of the Sub-section or some other words should be put in. It is a matter of construction, or probably drafting. Perhaps the Colonial Secretary will read the sentence as it stands. I think he will probably find that it needs some amendment. Wherever you find the words that I propose to leave out, "which would have been," you will always find some condition following, and there is here no such condition following.
§ The CHAIRMAN
In view of the hon. Gentleman's statement, I think I must rule his Amendment out of order. According to the Sub-section, the Parliament of Southern Ireland will have been dissolved, and, therefore, the constituencies will not be entitled to elect members. If any question of interpretation arises, no doubt it will be put right at a later stage. I do not think it will be open to me to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. PENNEFATHER
In view of what has happened in Committee, and the general attitude of the Government in regard to the Amendments on the Paper, I do not propose to move my Amendment. I hold it is absolutely hopeless to get the Government to consider any reasonable Amendment.
§ The following Amendments stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. GWYNNE:
§ In Sub-section (2) to leave out the words "within the jurisdiction of" and to insert instead thereof the words "transferred under this Section to."
At the end of Sub-section (2) to insert the words
Provided that that Parliament shall not be deemed to be properly constituted unless and until all the Members sitting and voting therein have taken the oath of allegiance to His Majesty in the form prescribed to be taken by Members of the Commons House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for 1010 Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne) is not in order, because I do not think that any powers are actually transferred under this Section. The other Amendment in the name of the same hon. Member raises the same point and is out of order.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
In view of the intolerable way in which the Government have proceeded I shall adopt the same attitude as other hon. Members and I do not move.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2) to insert the words:Any Order in Council under this Section may contain such incidental, consequential, or supplemental provisions as may appear to be necessary or proper for the purpose of giving effect to the foregoing provisions of this Section.As a consequence of transferring the powers and machinery of existing Departments to the Provisional Government, it will be necessary to make certain adjustments and modifications in existing Statutes. Where the powers of existing Departments are transferred in Southern Ireland to the Provisional Government, it will be necessary to adapt the existing Statute. At the same time, we wish to preserve a certain amount of constitutional latitude to carry out such incidental or consequential provisions which may be necessary to give effect to the general provisions of the Clause, especially in regard to the effect it may have on the area of the Northern Government. If this Amendment were not carried, we might find it difficult to extend the necessary powers to Northern Ireland.
§ Colonel GRETTON
This Clause is an admirable example of the methods adopted by the Government in legislation. They do not put what they intend to pass in the Bill, but they afterwards take sweeping powers to do whatever they like by Orders in Council. I submit that in a Bill of this kind Parliament ought to see the whole of the powers that are to be taken put down in the Bill itself. The Government is in too big a hurry to rush through a Bill to which they have not devoted the necessary time or thought. 1011 Therefore they do not put even this particular provision in the Bill. At the last moment they find they have forgotten something and must put words in to cover themselves, but they do not know exactly what they have forgotten. This is a perfect farce. I submit Parliament ought not to permit legislation of this kind. It is turning our proceedings into ridicule. It is useless to debate matters when we are treated in this unconstitutional and outrageous way by the Government, and I shall therefore content myself with calling attention to what the Government are doing and to the humiliation to which this Parliament is being subjected, a humiliation which Ministers themselves feel, for I have noticed the complete absence of one group of Ministers from these Debates, only one wing of the Coalition having attended. I want to draw the attention of the Committee to what is going forward. It is no use continuing the Debate, but we must register our protest in the Division Lobby.
§ Lord H. CECIL
It is necessary to call attention to some of the features of this Amendment, because it sets a precedent which might be very largely followed. The Amendment provides "that any Order in Council under this Section may contain such incidental, consequential or supplemental provisions as may appear to be necessary or proper for the purpose of giving effect to the foregoing provisions of this Section." These words are very wide. They would cover almost anything. We might have a Bill which provided in Section (1), that the Church of England should be disestablished and disendowed and Section (2) might provide for the carrying out of all incidental, consequential and supplemental provisions by such Orders in Council as might appear to be necessary. There is nothing you cannot do by legislation in that way. I dare say what the right hon. Gentleman contemplates may be quite reasonable, but these words would cover anything reasonable or unreasonable, drastic, revolutionary or orderly, as the Government might please.
§ Lord H. CECIL
You are setting a precedent which might be largely used in other legislation, and there is nothing you might not do. You could bring in a Bill, one Clause of which contained the main purpose of the Measure, while the second would enable you to carry out the whole of the machinery without any further Clauses in the Bill. It is a slovenly way of doing business, and does not really conduce to usefulness of Parliament. If you want to have a Bill of this, kind carried you really should take the trouble to put it in proper form. The Government cannot complain of the discussion which has taken place, and it cannot be suggested that there has been obstruction, but there has been on the part of the Government a desire to hurry the Bill through with the utmost possible speed. The time has long gone when the rules for the protection of minorities in this House had force, and the Government now have their way in all things; therefore, it is less excusable that they should throw over to Orders in Council all the machinery of legislation. They ought to take the trouble to draft their Bills in proper form so that we may know what, the legislation really amounts to. This is a very slovenly piece of work, and deserves the censure that has been passed upon it.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I am sorry that I could not support a proposal of this sort. That is not because I am not in favour of the Bill, for I am in favour of it; but Subsection (2) of Clause 1 provides that Orders in Council may be made transferring to the Provisional Government the powers under the Article referred to, and, under any interpretation of the law, those Orders in Council will include anything that is required to make that transfer effective. This new Amendment is not required unless it is intended to do something which is not contemplated in the Bill as at present drafted. The machinery of Orders in Council is very necessary and useful in some circumstances, and if hon. Members care to read a short and instructive book, recently published, called "Delegated Legislation," which they will find in the Library, and which deals with legislation by Orders in Council, they will derive not only instruction but amusement. This, however, is exactly an illustration of what is not per- 1013 missible, in my respectful opinion, because provision is already made for Orders in Council to transfer these powers to the Provisional Government and, as I have already said, every Order of that sort may contain everything that is necessary to make the transference of these powers effective. All this is not intended to relieve Parliament of its numerous duties, or to save the time of the House of Commons, but is really, I cannot help thinking, put in at the last moment because someone has thought that it may be necessary to give effect to some arrangement which may be made behind the backs of the House. Unless we have some disclaimer that there is no intention of putting into an Order in Council some new arrangement made after this Bill has become law, I could not possibly support the Amendment, because we are voting in the dark, and, according to the view which I take, it is not required if all that is intended is to make the provisions of the Clause effective.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am delighted to give the Committee the assurance for which the hon. and learned Member asks. This provision is moved by the Government after consultation with the authorities concerned with the administration of Northern Ireland. We are dealing with a Provisional Government and with an interim period pending the time when the Free State Government, as we must suppose, will be established by an election in Ireland and by the ratifying legislation of Parliament. We are dealing with this provisional, interim period when we are trying to establish a Provisional Government, which itself is altogether without precedent. We have put into the Bill power to enable us to create it, and we cannot quite foresee at each particular stage every conceivable reaction which the transference of these powers to the Provisional Government will effect in the powers of the Northern Parliament. For instance, when a Department is taken over which has hitherto been functioning for the whole of Ireland, one wants to release that part which is under the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland, and enable the Government of Northern Ireland to obtain similar facilities to the South; and I understood that to be in accordance with the wishes of Northern Ireland. It does not serve the convenience of the 1014 Irish Provisional Government in any way; it is simply to enable us to carry out pari passu in Northern Ireland the transference of powers which we are making in Southern Ireland. There are a number of minor matters which are very complicated, and with the details of which I cannot profess to be acquainted, but which I am assured are required to be dealt with. If the Amendment gives rise to opposition I will not press it, but I understood that it was for the convenience of the Northern Government, while we are in this unique period of transition.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
The right hon. Gentleman has made a rather curious revelation. He has told us that this provision was put in after communication with, the Government of Northern Ireland, and therefore I take it that it appears on the Order Paper in fulfilment of some promise which has been given in that quarter. But in consequence of the attitude of the Government this afternoon—at which I am not at all surprised myself—all my hon. Friends who usually sit on these benches, and who represent Ulster constituencies, have been driven out of the Committee, it having been made impossible for them with any sense of dignity and consistency to remain here after the treatment they have received. Then when the right hon. Gentleman has taken that course, and has got rid of my Friends out of the House, in consequence of some opposition to his Amendment, nothing like so strong as has been manifested against the Government in other respects, after one or two speeches, probably made without full understanding of what the Amendment was intended for, notwithstanding that he has made a promise to the Government of Northern Ireland he sits down with the announcement that ho is not prepared to press the Amendment. That seems to me a most astonishing thing to do. I agree that most of those with whom I am in the habit of acting in these matters only required to have been told that this provision is intended for the benefit of Northern Ireland and they would have been perfectly satisfied. I shall feel very much aggrieved if the right hon. Gentleman recedes from the promise he has made, and I hope he will insist now on the Amendment being carried.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will excuse some of us if we 1015 look on with suspicion on the suggestion he made that he was trying to safeguard the interests of Ulster. We have got so accustomed during these discussions to Ulster being flouted in every direction that we can hardly believe he is now trying to look after their interests. From the point of view of the House of Commons and the precedent which the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) has mentioned, would it not get over the difficulty if he undertook that these Orders in Council should be laid on the Table of the House? It is the course always adopted, and I think it will satisfy all sections of the House? There is an Amendment in my name.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I think mine is the better. The precedent will appeal to the Government, for it is from the 1920 Act. If the right hon. Gentleman will accept that it will get over the difficulty.
Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY
Cannot we have a reply from the Government on this point? It is very important and will certainly influence some of us how we vote on the Amendment. I do not think it ought to go in at all. It is setting a bad precedent which may be used adversely in future. It is very much on a par with legislation by reference, of which we have seen so much in past years, and even though pressed by Members from Ulster as being of some use to them, I do not think, on broad constitutional grounds, it ought to go into the Bill at all. I urge the Colonial Secretary to let us know whether or not he is going to accede to the request made to him. It will certainly influence some of us.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No, I am not prepared to accede to the request in regard to the laying of these Provisional Orders. That must be discussed in its proper place. I am now moving an Amendment which is intended solely and exclusively to facilitate the convenience and the administrative action of the Northern Government during this very novel and unprecedented interim provisional period. I should have been quite willing, if the Members concerned in the matter decided that they did not want it, to withdraw the Amendment, but the hon. Member 1016 for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill), who although not an Ulster Member himself, speaks not only with great authority, but with very great weight on these matters, would, I am sure, deprecate the withdrawal of the Amendment, and in these circumstances, as he is here in his place and has made those remarks, I shall certainly insist on the matter being decided in the Division Lobby.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
There is something beyond the Ulster question involved in this Amendment. This is a great Constitutional question. Are we going to allow the Government to make Orders in Council whether for our friends or for our enemies? Parliament ought to deal with these matters by Bills. This great Constitutional question ought not to be dealt with in this way, especially after the right hon. Gentleman has said that he will not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne) which provides that the Orders in Council shall lie on the Table for a certain number of days. If we agree to this we shall later be met with the argument that we agree to this procedure when it suits us and disagree when it does not suit us. Unless there is some strong reason for agreeing with the Amendment, we ought not to agree. It is not our fault that the Ulster Members have left the House. Rightly or wrongly, they have left the House owing to certain action taken in regard to their Amendments. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should withdraw, the Amendment now and remove it on the Report stage, when I understand the Ulster Members will be present. We shall then have an opportunity of knowing what it is they really want.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I do not think the Government can reasonably ask the Committee to think of these matters merely in the light in which the Government look upon many matters, as to an understanding with this person or that person. We are rather tired of these back-stair promises by which the Government think they can manage State affairs. I do not know what promises they have made to the Ulster Members, but I hope they will keep their promises. So far, they have only kept their promises to those who are strong enough to enforce obedience to the engagements. We hear of these promises for the first time. Our 1017 business is to see that legislation is properly conducted. No one can doubt that this particular way of forming legislation is a very bad one. It is slovenly and negligent. The Government ought to think of these matters much more carefully. They ought not to have been so careless of tradition and constitutional practice. It is our business as Members of Parliament to protest, and not be satisfied by the assurance that some understanding has been come to, otherwise we have no control, and no one can give us a safeguard against betrayal. I am not satisfied with the answer of the Colonial Secretary. We ought not to pass the Amendment at this stage, but leave it open to the Government to put it in on the Report stage if it is necessary.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
I said that I thought the Colonial Secretary ought to press this Amendment. I gratefully acknowledge the way in which he met me and referred to what I said. I ought to explain that my own knowledge of this Amendment and what it may mean is nil. I am acting entirely by what the right hon. Gentleman said in regard to its purpose. Therefore I must not be taken as dissenting in any way from the general proposition laid down by my hon. Friends opposite. I do not know whether the object of assisting the Northern Government can best be carried out by this method or some other method. Accepting the right hon. Gentleman's statement as to what is intended to be done, that is the object which I have in view, and if this is the only way of doing it, I shall support it. If the right hon. Gentleman chooses to respond to the request of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Banbury) and take time to see whether the same purpose can be carried out by other means on the Report stage, I shall have no objection. I do not wish him to feel bound, as otherwise he might feel bound by the promise which he has just made.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am ready to withdraw the Amendment and move it on the Report stage. The form is well known. The words which the Noble Lord imagines that I conceived figure in scores of Acts, but I am very anxious to meet the Ulster Members, especially when they have resumed their attendance.
§ Major-General SEELY
Is the right hon. Gentleman sure that there is any substance in the criticism which has been 1018 made? Is there not a danger that, in withdrawing this in the absence of the Ulster members, there may be another chance of a charge of breach of faith? I would urge him to do no such thing. If he will observe the terms of his own Amendment, he will see that none of the criticisms as to the possibility of its being used in a wrong way have any force. It is purely supplemental and giving effect to the foregoing provisions of the Section. These are exceptional circumstances, and cannot be used in derogation of the rights of this House. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The following Amendment stood on the Order Paper in the name of Earl WINTERTON:
At the end of Sub-section (2) to insert the words:
(3) If a Boundary Commission is set up under Article 12 of the said Agreement it shall be constituted by an Order in Council which shall specify the terms of reference and name the chairman.
(4) Every Order in Council made under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament, within fourteen days after the Order is laid before it, being days on which the House is sitting, praying that the Order may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Order, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything; done thereunder.
§ Earl WINTERTON
May I submit that the first part is in order. While there has been an extensive discussion on the Boundary Commission, the specific point as to its creation by an Order in Council has not been raised before.
§ The CHAIRMAN
What I should have said was that the point had been covered by the discussion that has already been taken, and I do not propose to call the first part of the Amendment, but I call the second part.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The second part has no sense without the first part. Our intention was that the Boundary Commission should be constituted by Order 1019 in Council. The whole object is to deal with the question of the boundary.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
If the Noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment I am willing to let him move mine, which is in order. Possibly he will have more influence than I. I give it up as a bad job, but, moving it with renewed vigour, he may find other methods of persuading the Government.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I will not adopt the suggestion of my hon. Friend, whom I never found to suffer from undue modesty.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is not a point of Order. I would ask hon. Members to make up their minds whether they want to move Amendments or not.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the words(3) Every Order in Council made under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament, within fourteen days after the Order is laid before it, being days on which the House is sitting, praying that the Order may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the Order, and it shall thenceforth he void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything done thereunder.I desire to move this Amendment in which I shall have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne). The object of the second of these two Amendments is to lay down that every Order in Council made under this Act shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House within fourteen days praying that the Order may be annulled His Majesty in Council may annul the Order, and it shall thenceforth be void without prejudice to the validity of anything done thereunder. The reason for this is that we wish to give both Houses, if they require it, some opportunity to discuss or reject any Order in Council made under this Act. I gather from the attitude taken up by the Colonial Secretary earlier in the evening on other Amendments appertaining to the 1020 same subject that he is not prepared to accept this. I think it right to say here and now, however—while not having very much sympathy with the reasons for the opposition to this Treaty—that I do sympathise with the fears expressed, notably by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Inskip), of allowing the Government uncontrolled powers over Regulations under this Act without the House having an opportunity to discuss them. I am informed by many interests in Ireland that they would much prefer these Orders in Council to be laid on the Table and discussed by the House, and I have reason to believe that an Amendment of this kind will be proposed and pressed in another place, and that it is likely to be put in there. In those circumstances perhaps my right hon. Friend might like to consider the acceptance of this Amendment.
§ Major HILLS
I hope the Colonial Secretary will accept this Amendment. Under Article 17 of the Treaty all the powers the Provisional Governments gets are under Orders in Council, and it is clear that those powers must be very extensive and far reaching. Under Clause 1 of this Bill those powers are granted by Orders in Council. If we pass that Clause as it stands for all time this House will lose possession of these Orders in Council. I would also call particular attention to the limited character of the Amendment which has been moved by my Noble Friend. We do not ask that the House should approve of these Orders in Council before they become effective. All we ask is that if the House objects to them it shall have a chance to reject them. Further, the time these Orders are allowed to lay on the Table is the shortest I have ever known. It is 14 sitting days, and a very usual term is 30 days. As the Committee knows, I have supported this Treaty throughout, and have voted with the Government in every Division, but I do feel that in a very important matter of this kind the House ought to have some say. We shall not be hampering the Government. They can still transfer powers by Orders in Council, and unless the House objects, these powers will stand. Surely, if some special ease arises in which the House objects to some special power being transferred, it is reasonable that Parliament should have a say in the matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!] 1021 There has been a good deal of rather cheap mocking at the Government, but I do not indulge in any of these gibes about breach of faith. I think they have rather overshot their mark. I am certain my right hon. Friend wants to carry out the Treaty in the best way possible, but with all respect, I think he is looking rather too much to Ireland and too little to England, because after all we do come into the picture. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Yes, we come into the picture, and we should not pass this Clause without this guarding proviso. My right hon. Friend knows I am whole-heartedly a supporter of what he has done in Ireland, and I assure him, by the acceptance of this Amendment, he will do no harm at all, but will facilitate the passage of the Bill and the pacification of Ireland.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Much as I should like to defer to my hon. and gallant Friend who spoke last, and to my Noble and gallant Friend the mover of the Amendment, whose contributions to the passage of the Irish settlement have been inestimable, at the same time, whether this Amendment is looked at in its original form or in its present truncated aspect, I could not possibly accept it. In so far as it affects the question of the Boundary Commission, it undoubtedly affects Article 12 of the Treaty. It would leave to an Order in Council the terms of reference already laid down under Article 12; it would leave to the Houses of Parliament the appointment of the Chairman, which, under the Treaty, is specifically reserved to the Executive Government.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that we are now dealing only with the second part of the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If I may say so, that is the peg on which the second part of the Amendment hangs. The peg having been removed, we shall have to discuss the second part in its transition stage from the peg to the ground. That is where we come to such items as would be included in this transition. These would almost entirely be concerned with the Orders in Council dealing with the transference of powers. It would be quite futile to lay before Parliament Orders in Council transferring powers to the Provisional Government, because once 1022 the powers had been transferred it would be no good annulling the Order. The powers would have passed. My hon. and gallant Friend says that he does not suggest that the Government should be obstructed in the matter, that they should take action to transfer the powers, but that Parliament should have an opportunity within 14 days of recalling the Order. How can you set up a Provisional Government in that way? How can you transfer control of affairs by Order in Council to a responsible body of men, and then 14 days afterwards or 13 days afterwards recall them to the House by a Vote? You would be confronted in all probability with the resignation of Ministers if you were to handle any Dominion Government in that way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I do not mean of Ministers here. That would be a threat with no terrors to anyone, least of all to themselves. It is quite impossible to transfer these powers by Order in Council and think that within ten or twelve or fourteen days afterwards, you could recall them in this House without creating a deadlock most fatal to the smooth working of your policy and the successful fruition of that on which so much has been staked.
§ 11.0 P.M.
§ Lord H. CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary said that, supposing you transferred powers to the Provisional Government, this Amendment would have the effect of taking those powers away again. That is probably quite true, but why should he think either House of Parliament would wish to take them away again? These Orders in Council may cover a large number of different things, and are not at all confined to the transference of powers, but the question really is: Is it wise to give the Executive Government so large a power, without any check whatever? If there is no power given to suspend or annul these Orders in Council, it would leave the Government absolutely unchecked, and surely it would be only ordinary prudence to keep the last word with Parliament, in order, if necessary, to prevent the Government misusing this large power. I cannot, therefore, agree that because some of the Orders in Council ought not to be annulled, that is a reason against giving 1023 the House of Commons power to annul Orders in Council which it might be wise to annul.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The ordinary form of procedure with Orders in Council is that they should be laid before both Houses of Parliament in draft, and that His Majesty should not be advised to bring them into force until Parliament has had an opportunity of criticising or of suggesting Amendments, but my Noble Friend opposite (Earl Winterton) and his Friends are so exceedingly anxious to facilitate the passage of this Bill that they have drawn up their Amendment in another form and have proposed that His Majesty shall be advised to issue an Order in Council, and that then Parliament shall be invited to disagree with His Majesty and to annul the Order. As I have said, that is quite different from what is the usual and proper and constitutional form of procedure in these matters.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I only rise for the purpose of saying that any advice which comes from one whose eloquence in this and other assemblies is so widely recognised, should receive the most respectful consideration, and under ordinary circumstances, I should be so much impressed by the arguments he has put in his inimitable way, that I should be inclined to withdraw my Amendment, and put it in the form he desires. But, in view of the lateness of the hour, and my right hon. Friend not being disposed to accept it, I think the best way would be to withdraw it, and leave to the Die-hards the business of carrying on—which they do extremely ineffectually—their fight against this Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Lord H. CECIL
I do not wish to prolong this Debate unreasonably, but I think it is desirable that we should say one or two words in protest against the Clause. The Government have conducted the Bill through Committee by the method of refusing all Amendments. I do not think they had a very good case, and I do not think they have gained much by it. My Noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), whom I am 1024 sure we all welcome on his approaching Under-Secretaryship, has exceeded himself in devotion to the Government. They have not rewarded him with more than the notice that is taken of an animal which is friendly and runs before you, and sometimes licks your hand when you would be rather attending to other business.
§ Lord H. CECIL
I will leave that to my Noble Friend's powers of introspection and self-study. The question we have here is whether this Clause does contribute to the pacification of Ireland, My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary complains that our criticisms are merely destructive, and that we do nothing to construct. We should be very glad to assist in the work of pacifying Ireland if we thought there was any prospect of succeeding, but it seems to me that this proposal is already doomed to failure. All the signs seem to point to its failure, and we are not surprised. The Government are endeavouring to set up what will be nothing like a permanent settlement. Under this proposal the Treaty is to have the force of law. We do not exactly know what the effect of the Bill legally is, but it will, according to the Government, undoubtedly promote the acceptance of the Treaty in Ireland, and a new Government will be set up. I think we are not much encouraged by what has been disclosed to us during these discussions. It makes it more and more clear that the Government have achieved the measure of agreement which has been achieved by ambiguities which are only of value in that they take in a certain body of opinion in Ireland and which must certainly end in disappointment unless there is to be some breach of faith with the representatives of Ulster or of the other side. All these tactics of ambiguity are put forward to achieve a settlement, but sooner or later a disclosure must come and when disclosure does come, the Government lose more than they gain by such tactics. When you are dealing with such deeply seated controversies, it is vain to hope that you will ever achieve a settlement by merely adjusting differences between delegates negotiating in such a conference as has taken place. The sort of acts that 1025 bring people round a table are not the sort of acts that bring a settlement of this question.
The short discussions which we have had on this Bill show that there is more than one point about which it is a little doubtful as to how the Treaty will work. If the question had been really settled, how different these discussions would have been. Supposing that they had really met the great grievances which, whether they are right or wrong, really do exist in the other side of St. George's Channel, if they had really removed the Irish Question as a man removes a stone from his shoe when he is feeling in pain, and when it is cast out he goes forward in ease; if that had been achieved it would have been possible for the Government to make all sorts of concessions. They would have known that the trouble was settled and there would have been no boggling on the other side of the Channel on this point or that; there would have been a general willingness to smooth the path of the Treaty. The rigidity to which my right hon. Friend has felt bound to adhere is evidence of his great misgivings as to whether the Treaty will be adopted on the other side of the Channel, and his hope is that by clinging to the letter of the Treaty you may settle this great controversy. But the letter of a Treaty settles no great controversy. Had it been settled the details would not have mattered so much, one way or the other. But the failure of the Government's policy has been shown at every step in this Debate. We can only stand by and watch. The right hon. Gentleman complains that we have not been constructive. There appears to be two conceptions of the value of Parliamentary Debate. Many of my hon. Friends on the other side have made speeches that have evidently been intended to be helpful. But I do not believe that Parliament is at all useful when it is trying to help. Again, there is the function of Council. But the value of that is lessened when the Government majority is always at hand to vote it down. Anyone who will look at the history of Parliament will see that the times the House of Commons has been a great institution is when it has been a place of criticism, not when it has tried to do the work of a Council, for which it is quite unsuited. I think it is the business of Parliament to make useful 1026 criticism. That is all it can hope to do. Criticism of this Clause would be useful, but the right hon. Gentleman has shown the Government position again and again, and has been obliged to fall back upon the letter of the Treaty, because in no other way could he answer the arguments against him. Hardly in a single discussion has be been able to say. "The case against me is an unreasonable one," or "There is not a great deal in it"; or, "These are not arguments that will induce us to modify the Treaty or even to elucidate it." No, this Irish Question, which has been with us for so many years, is to be solved by this Treaty. A word of elucidation or of explanation would be fatal, and the Treaty would perish without doing its good work. I think we here show the essential weakness of the Government's Irish policy. Time will show following generations. Perhaps the next will be able to judge—whether the Government's record entitled its Members to be regarded as statesmen or only skilful diplomatists, rather unscrupulous in action, masquerading in the guise of statesmen who have done an ill day's work for the country they pretended to serve.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The inward and spiritual light of the Noble Lord is no doubt very beautiful, but its outward manifestation is a doubtful thing. Again and again he has contributed to the discussions, but he does not share the difficulties of the situation of the responsible representatives of Ulster. To-night he has excelled himself in the use of harsh and unwarrantable expressions. When I look back on the years that I have been in this House and consider the great use my Noble Friend might have made of his unequalled gifts, I do profoundly deplore the fact that in this Irish Question, with its hideous difficulties admitted, too, the position in which all parties in this House and in Ireland stand, and the awful and chaotic consequences which would follow a collapse, contrasted with the bright hopes which would attend the success of this Treaty—I could have wished most earnestly and most sincerely that my Noble Friend had given earnest and weighty study to this question with a desire to help and not to hinder. I do express on behalf of the Government the earnest desire that the Noble Lord should 1027 make some great contribution to the public interests of this country.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
This is one of the most important Bills that has been introduced into this House since the Act of Union, and what has taken place in regard to it. The Committee stage was commenced on Thursday last; we had the same stage again on Friday, and we have been considering the Committee stage once more up to twenty minutes past eleven to-day, and that makes two and a half days to discuss the Committee stage of this Bill. The Schedule cannot be altered, therefore the whole discussion must be upon Clause 1, which is practically the whole Bill. What has been the attitude of the Government? At a time when they have just brought in an Amendment to postpone the election of the Southern Parliament for four months they cannot give us more than two and a half days for the Committee stage without suspending the Eleven o'clock Rule and putting the Closure into operation by which 12 important Amendments in the names of those hon. Members representing Ulster were ruled out, and this caused my hon. Friends to leave the House. The Colonial Secretary has made an appeal to the Committee upon the ground that it is the duty of everybody to do their best to settle the dreadful state in which Ireland is at the present moment. The Unionist party for the last 30 years have said that if anything of this sort took place the result would be exactly what is taking place now, and if ever we were right we are right at the present moment.
We want to call attention to the fact that we have not been allowed to discuss this Bill in a proper manner. Two and a half days with the Eleven o'Clock Rule suspended, even if there had been no Closure, would not have been sufficient time to discuss this question. How many times has it been said in this House that we cannot discuss great Measures in the early hours of the morning? It was not sufficient for the Government to suspend the Eleven o'Clock Rule; they also closured 12 Ulster Amendments. There has been no obstruction, or attempt at or wish for it. Had the Government Bill been so excellent and our case against it so bad, would they not have allowed us reasonable time to discuss it? But they have not 1028 done that. They preferred to fall back on their big battalions. There are in this building three or four Chambers, one for Debates, one for rest, one for refreshment, and one for smoking. The Debating Chamber throughout has been sparsely occupied; the others have been fully occupied, and Members who have not troubled to listen to what was going on here have come in and voted down those of us who have done their best according to their lights to improve the Bill. We are just as anxious as others for the peace of the country, but we believe this is the wrong way to secure it. We had the right, I maintain, to express our opinions on this matter without being closured. The only possible excuse for closuring us would have been flagrant obstruction. If the country understood what has taken place they would no longer support the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "They will not do so as it is."] I hope that is so, for if ever there has been a flagrant ease of Parliament being overridden by the Executive this is one. I am not quite sure whether it is worth while dividing against this Clause, but I want the country, the Committee and the reporters to note the tyrannical way in which the minority at any rate are treated in this House by a so-called Conservative Government. It is now half-past eleven, and during the greater part of the Debate there have not been on the front Government Bench more than two or three Ministers, and not one of them a Unionist, It is unnecessary for me to say more, but I could not let this occasion pass without drawing the attention of the Committee, and especially of those hon. Members who, quite accidentally, were unaware of what was taking place, to the unwarranted conduct of the Government in closuring the Debate during the dinner hour.
§ Colonel GRETTON
I agree with the right hon. Baronet that it is perfectly useless to prolong these proceedings. It is no use dividing. We have done our best to convince the Government that this Bill might be improved by amendment, and no one can accuse us of obstruction. We have curtailed our arguments, limited our Amendments, and done everything we could to keep to points of substance. In spite of all that, the Government came down to-day without attempting, as is often done, to make some arrangement as 1029 to the order of Amendments, and, without any warning, have got the closure by a vote of the Committee during the dinner hour, and have secured the elimination of a large number of Amendments of great substance and of great importance, particularly to Ulster. Such procedure is perfectly unwarranted, and is a direct attack on the liberties of debate and the liberties of Parliament. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) that you can only endeavour to improve a Bill of this kind by criticism; it is impossible to give helpful constructive arguments and suggestions. On other matters it may be possible to take a different line, but with a Bill of this kind it is hopeless. It is on a rotten foundation, conceived in shame arid humiliation. It is a surrender of the powers of the Crown, of Parliament, and of the State to people in Ireland who only recently were in arms against us. The Government have lost their courage, and this Bill is the result. They have made a base surrender, and now we are asked to ratify it. They resent criticism and every attempt that we make to improve the matter. We can do no more, and I am not prepared further to prolong these proceedings. I make this protest against the Clause standing part, and do not propose to take any further part in the proceedings.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ROYDS
The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has singled me out this evening; I do not quite know why, for I have taken no part in this Debate. I am a most ardent supporter of the Bill; I think it is one of the highest acts of statesmanship that has ever been performed by any Government; but I have not risen in my place before to say so, and I must thank my right hon. Friend for giving me, at this last moment, the opportunity which I have not previously had. My right hon. Friend said that I only came here of an evening. It is quite true that I have only been here this evening, but I have been here every afternoon previously when this Bill has been discussed, and the reason I did not attend this afternoon was that each time I have been here I have heard precisely the same speeches. I thought I had heard all it was possible for me to hear, and therefore absented myself this afternoon and was engaged in what I thought was something more useful. When I 1030 came here I heard exactly the same speeches from my right hon. Friend here, the Noble Lord there, and my hon. Friend here, repeating almost verbatim what they had been saying on a previous occasion, and therefore I hope the Committee will excuse my non-attendance here this afternoon.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
I am very sorry that my right hon. Friend brought out the speech to which we have just listened, because, until I heard it, I had a high opinion of my hon. and gallant Friend's intelligence. I daresay, if he were to speak again, he would say he always hears me saying the same thing over and over again. I am not in the least perturbed by that, but I cannot allow this Clause to become part of the Bill without adding a word of my own to my hon. Friend's protest. I again express my surprise, as well as my resentment, at the way in which we have been treated this afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman. I will not detail again the reasons why it is outrageous to closure out of existence the Amendments we had put on the Paper, beyond saying that it was a trick by which the Government chose to take advantage of the technicalities of the drafting of the Bill to get rid of Amendments which they could not have got rid of if the, Bill had been drafted in the ordinary form. I want to know whether that treatment deliberately adopted towards a group of Conservative Members by the Government has or has not anything to do with what is filling the newspapers a great deal at present with regard to the formation, reformation and transformation—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The discussion on the Question, that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill, has gone very wide, but I cannot go as wide as to embrace the whole of the actual political situation.
§ Mr. McNEILL
You will remember that the Government have by their action prevented us discussing the various Amendments which were on the Paper within the ambit of this Clause. Surely I am entitled, in view of that, to inquire what the reason was for that action. It appears to me to be very likely part of the policy which we have been told is going to be adopted by the Government for, I suppose, purging the Coalition and making some Conservative Members of the Coalition toe the line.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I hold very strongly the opinion that Clause 1 should not stand part of the Bill. I do not believe really in the reality of the right hon. Gentleman's optimism with regard to this policy. I think he made a most unwarranted attack on my Noble Friend. After all, a whirlwind peroration from the right hon. Gentleman is no proper way of meeting the penetrating criticism which my Noble Friend has given to almost every proposal in the Bill, and I really think we are entitled to a little more respectful treatment than we have had in that respect. I do not believe in the right hon. Gentleman's optimism. He has told us, with regard to the policy embodied in the Bill, time after time, that if we only keep this Treaty, put it forward in Ireland and give them an opportunity of forming their Constitution, we shall arrive at peace and prosperity, and that the Irish Free State will become a happy and contented part of the British Empire. That is really the policy in which the right hon. Gentleman professes to believe. I do not think he really believes it at all, and one of the objections we have to the Clause is that we are tieing ourselves to the acceptance of this in Ireland without the slightest reason for confidence that the men with whom the Treaty was made will be in a position to carry on the Government there at all, and the proper method would have been to delay the legislation which we are now engaged in until we know whether or not the delegates who met in Downing Street are really entrusted by the people of Ireland with the duty of forming a Government. I think very likely we shall find that before the election takes place, Ireland will be in the hands of an avowed Republican majority. I do not think it matters in the least whether the majority is for the Free State or for a Republic; there is not the slightest warrant for the optimistic view of the right hon. Gentleman, and my Noble Friend is perfectly right in pointing out that the very particularity with which the right hon. Gentleman ties himself to the exact letter of the Treaty shows that he has no confidence in the larger question, that this policy as a whole is going to work for appeasement between 1032 the two nations. If he thought there was any such appeasement in view, he would not have been so meticulous as to whether this sentence or that sentence was or was not exactly wihin the terms of the Treaty. If the representatives of these two nations really were at one, or were anxious to come to an agreement, they would not break off merely because some small alteration was made which, in the course of Debates in this House, has been found to be absolutely necessary to the smooth, not to say the just working of legislation. Therefore, I emphatically associate myself with those of my hon. Friends who have protested against the way in which we have been treated, and what is a far more important matter than the question of our treatment.
I protest against the proposals which are now going to be carried through. I believe they can work nothing but disaster. I do not in the least believe that they are going to work any good. It is deplorable that the Government, in the hasty, unconsidered way in which this was embarked upon, have brought before Parliament a Bill of this character and have forced it through without even allowing us to discuss the matter with any fulness. This is probably in some respects the most important Measure that this House has had to deal with for centuries. Certainly it is an infinitely more important matter than the Home Rule Bill of 1893. That Bill was debated in Committee 52 or 53 days, and no one suggested that the time spent upon it was too great. Yet here we have this much larger Measure, which is practically putting an end to the British Government in Ireland for all time probably, unless in the course of time we have to reconquer Ireland, and the Government grudge us three days in Committee. We have spent two Friday afternoons upon it and on the third day in Committee, with many of the most difficult matters to discuss, the Eleven o'clock Rule is suspended in order that we may be intimidated into passing these Clauses as rapidly as possible—because everybody knows the unpopularity and disagreeableness of sitting up late—and when we were about to consider Amendments which we thought important, but which the Government thought inconvenient, the right hon. Gentleman moved the Closure upon us. That is not a policy which in the 1033 long run will commend this Coalition Government, which seems to be so tottering at the present time, to the good sense of the people of the country. I protest strongly against the way in which the Government have proceeded.
§ Mr. E. HARMSWORTH
I wish to protest against the way the Government have treated the Committee to-night. Many of the Amendments which have been closured were put down not only with the intention of trying to carry the Amendments, but to get some information from the Government on the questions to which they refer. It was necessary to get information from the Government on the various points which interested the House and the country. The closuring of this Debate to prevent us from getting that information was exceedingly stupid from the point of view of the Government, because it will not be understood outside this House. There are people who think that the Government have something to hide and do not want it to come out in this Debate. There is a very considerable body of Members of this House who are representative of large sections of opinion in the country which are against the Bill and wish to know exactly what the Government mean by the way they are dealing with it. We have a right to ask the Government for information and to press our Amendments. I was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Government in these Debates replied to the right hon. Member who was criticising him and said that his criticism was always unproductive. If this Treaty is a symbol of what the Government are going to produce, it would be an extremely good thing for this country if for a time the Government would cease to produce. I add my protest not only against the closuring of this Debate, but also against the whole Clause. I admit that, the Treaty having been signed, I for one am not going to vote against it, and I do not think that we should carry any Amendment which would smash the whole Treaty, because, now that the Government have signed the Treaty, we have got to carry it into law. We all admit that. But we wish at the same time certain safeguards given to Ulster and to the country, and we have the right to ask that they should be given. The entire Committee, even those who are in favour of the Bill, should protest against the Bill being closured in this 1034 manner, and the rights of a section of the House being interfered with in the manner which we have seen this evening.
§ Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Short Title) ordered to stand part of the Bill.