That a sum, not exceeding £1,130,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1922, for payment of a Grant-in-Aid of Miscellaneous Services to be administered by the Provisional Government.
I beg to move, to leave out "£1,130,000," and to insert instead thereof "£1,129,900."
On the 24th of last month the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary explained why this large subvention of over £1,000,000 which it was at first proposed to devote to the relief of Irish rates, and which as a matter of fact, was, under the Criminal Injuries (Ireland) Act, 1920, diverted from the relief of Irish rates, had now been allocated, once more to something like its original purpose. The Government propose that this large sum of money shall be voted as something in the nature of a Grant-in-Aid to the Provisional Government in order that Irish main roads which have got out of order during the last few years should be put in order, and for other similar purposes. The right hon. Gentleman told the House on that occasion that as far as Great Britain is concernedThe moment the Truce is signed, the period covered by the rebellion or civil war has come to an end."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1922; col. 2253, Vol. 150.]That, in other words, is, in the eyes of the Government and of this House, on 11th July, when the preliminary arrangements were made between Mr. de Valcra and the Prime Minister, technically civil war and rebellion came to an end. On 11th July something else happened. On 11th July, by entering into negotiation with the Sinn Fein forces, the Government recognised that those people who had been opposing us were, as a fact, belligerents, and that it was not a case of putting down civil disturbance and civil strife by the ordinary methods of 704 police action and so forth, but that we had been engaged for some time past in actual warfare. That, of course, is a rather important point for us loyalists in the South of Ireland. We have been looking to this fund of over £1,000,000 a year to get value given back to us for the property which has been destroyed. As long as it was a question merely of civil disturbance, we had this money coming in at the rate of £1,200,000 a year, or something like that, but the minute the Government recognised Sinn Fein forces as belligerents, automatically the Act of 1920 was scrapped, and the money which had been coming in every year disappeared. We lost something substantial. Supposing the Government in July of last year had determined not to make terms with the Irish Republican Army, but to go on with repressing civil disturbance. Supposing they had in a short while managed to re-assert law and order and authority in the South of Ireland, and things had gone on as they were going in 1919 and 1920, then as long as the Irish local authorities refused to obey the Act of 1920 and levy rates to meet compensation claims, we loyalists would have had £1,200,000 a year coming in to satisfy our claims. It is obvious to the House that in a comparatively few years, say, five or six years, our claims would have been satisfied under the Act of 1920.
However the Government recognised the Irish Republican Army as belligerents; the Act of 1920 was scrapped and something which was of great potential value to us disappeared. I admit the situation in which the Government find themselves with regard to the claims put forward by loyalists who have suffered, as well as those put forward by the other side who have suffered by action of the forces of the Crown, is a very novel and difficult one. Thanks to British pluck and British fibre it has been very seldom in the long history of our Empire, that British forces have had to abandon any portion of the British Empire. I suppose the only case we can get, which is at all comparable to what has happened during the last couple of years in Ireland, is the analogy of the American War of Independence. After the American War of Independence, of course, we agreed to withdraw from British North America and British North America was recognised as an 705 independent Republic. On that occasion, there had been years of war, years of outrages committed by one side against the other and, as I dare say a great many Members of the House know, before the conclusion of the hostilities, a large force of British Loyalists, called the United Empire Loyalists, were forced to cross the American frontier into Canada. They went into Canada, and, after a time, the British Government recognised their claim to compensation, and they were awarded a sum of £4,000,000, beside getting free grants of land in Canada. Of course, it is perfectly obvious that £4,000,000 in those days represents something like £20,000,000 now. It is rather interesting to note that a direct ancestor of an hon. and gallant Member in this House led those settlers from the North American Republic across the border into Canada. That is how the Government of that time settled the claims of those British loyalists who were compelled to flee from what is now the United States to Canada. The settlement now proposed is on totally different lines. Each side is going to meet the claims, for the damage which it did. Where the damage was done by order of the competent authority of the Crown forces we pay, and where it was done by the Irish Republican Army the Provisional Government have agreed to pay. On the face of it, our Government have made a very good, bargain financially, because, of course, the damage inflicted by the Irish Republican forces has been a great deal more severe, from the point of view of money, than the damage which the British forces have inflicted on the other side. On the other side, it is rather a case of a certain number of farmhouses being burned by order of the competent military authority. As a reprisal a great number of very valuable houses were burned down. Of course, the claims in respect of those big houses far outweigh the claims in respect of the farmhouses. Therefore the Government have made rather a good arrangement.
I do not want in any way to question the good faith of the Provisional Government. I do not want to say that the heads of the Provisional Government, Mr. Griffith, Mr. Michael Collins, or the others who form the Ministry, are not prepared, if they possibly can, to stand 706 by the arrangement to which they have come with the British Government. During the last few days or more, there has been a very intensified electoral campaign up and down Ireland, in view of the forthcoming General Election there. There have been a great many foolish things said by those who are advocating the Treaty. More than one responsible speaker has said that he regarded this Treaty, which is going to receive the Royal Assent in a couple of days, as a scrap of paper to go the way of other scraps of paper. Other equally foolish things have been said. I prefer to believe that Mr. Michael Collins and Mr. Griffith mean what they say, and that, having given their pledge, they will, if they possibly can, honour every pound of damage awarded to us loyalists in the South of Ireland. But, even supposing they genuinely mean to do that, we have to look at things from a common-sense and practical point of view.
Just imagine two cases: A and B. A is a farmer who has had his farm house burned by order of the competent British authority by reason of an ambush close by, or something of that sort. As a reprisal, 10 miles away, B, a Protestant, has had his farm house burned by order of the competent authorities of the Irish Republican Army. Each of them is awarded £5,000, and these orders are confirmed. Both A and B are anxious for various reasons to get their money rather quickly, so they go to some discount broker or financier with their promissory notes, one backed by our Government and the other backed by the Provisional Government. They each ask that broker: "What will you give me-here and now on this note of mine?" A, backed by the British Government, would, I imagine, easily get something like 15s. in the £, but what would B, backed by the Provisional Government, get? He might get 5s. in the £. We have to see to it that both these men are placed in an absolutely equal position, that they both get their mnoey from a central fund at the same time, that the promise given by the Provisional Government to B is just as good as the promise given by the British Government to A, that when they come to be paid they are paid equally and at the same time, and that there is no more delay in the one case than in the other.
707 There is another advantage that A, who had his house destroyed by the British Military Forces, is going to have. It is perfectly certain that this Government will not lay down any conditions as to the payment of the money. They will not make A swear allegiance to the King, they will not say that he must rebuild his farm house, or that he must stay in the country. They will attach no conditions whatsoever, and rightly so, because, as a matter of fact, in a great many cases these people, who have had their farms destroyed or partially destroyed by the British Forces, have other resources and enough money to rebuild and restart. We have got to make it equally certain that B has no conditions attached to his award, and that the Provisional Government are debarred from making any conditions as to the payment. First of all it must, in both cases, be a cash payment. Of course, the British Government will pay in cash, and, equally, it must be a cash payment by the Provisional Government and not payment in bonds of the Irish Republican State, or the Free State, or any other form of bond raised in the near future by the Irish Government. There must be no conditions attached as to the taking of any Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Free State, or forcing a man to take Free State nationality, or that he must rebuild his house, or that he must live in the country. Those are all conditions which would be absolutely unfair.
There is another point which I want to make, but which I cannot claim, and I do not wish to claim, as a right. I would like to put it to my right hon. Friend as a request. In a great many cases these people who have had their houses burned, and perhaps their stock driven off, are Very hard put to it to live at the present time. Perhaps they have been without income for more than a year, and their condition is getting very precarious. Would it not be possible, where it can be proved that the man is in difficult circumstances, to let him have 5 per cent. interest on his claim without him having to wait until the claim is gone into again? It is perfectly obvious, if, when the award came to be examined, it were reduced, that the interest that he had received would have to be taken into account in his final settlement.
I have said so much about these pre-Treaty cases. I have told the Chief 708 Secretary one or two things which we think are essential if we are to be put on equal terms with those who are lucky enough to have their claims recognised by the British Government. I want to deal, in a very few words, with the post-Treaty cases, cases where a man has had damage done to him, his house burned, his stock driven off, and too often his land occupied after July 11th, or, what we call the Treaty date. There are many of those cases, and they are very hard. For the most part, they are not cases where the homestead has been burned, but where the stock has been driven off, perhaps stolen, where the land has been forcibly seized and taken over by order of the Irish Republican Government where notice to that effect has been put up by some Commandant of the Irish Republican Army, and where the man has been driven away and deprived of his livelihood. Those cases are really harder than the pre-Treaty cases, because in nearly every case he is a small man. In my own county, speaking generally, it is a small man who has become a marked man and unpopular, and he has been driven off his land.
Those men are really deserving of consideration by the Government, and I would like to get an assurance that their cases will be treated as if they were pre-Treaty cases. At present, I understand, they have to go before some Republican Court and get an award from that Court, and then wait and perhaps whistle for their money. They are in a very bad position. Surely they ought to be in exactly the same position as the pre-Treaty case. You cannot draw that arbitrary line of 11th July. The Government ought to recognise their claims just as they do in the pre-Treaty cases, and they ought to impress upon the Provisional Government that they must pay them and treat them exactly as they have promised to treat the pre-Treaty cases. Those are the main facts that I want to put before the House. I am sorry that we are losing this Vote, and that it is being diverted to other purposes, but I think, on the whole, that the Government have made a good and reasonable case, and, if we can get an assurance from them on these few points, we shall, at any rate, feel somewhat more satisfied than we do at the present moment.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
I beg to second the Amendment. I approach this matter from a somewhat different point of view, namely, that of the British taxpayer, and it certainly strikes me as extraordinary that the large number of Members of this House, who profess to be, and are, greatly interested in economy, show such complete indifference to the Vote under discussion. Probably a good many of them who will presently come in and, without knowing anything about what is going on, support the Government, will be somewhat dismayed at the proposals to which they have given their support. Let me very shortly recall to the House exactly what this Vote is. To use the language of the Colonial Secretary, there was, "during the fighting" in Ireland, which means while the right hon. Gentleman was trying to suppress crime without much success, a great deal of damage done to property on both sides. A great deal of damage was necessarily done by the forces of the Crown in their attempt to re-establish order. I am not one of those who at the time complained of that. I understood that, assuming the policy of the right hon. Gentleman to be necessary, such destruction of property was unavoidable. The compensation for that damage would, under the ordinary law, have to be made good by the local authorities, and the Colonial Secretary told us on the 24th February that, "the local authorities, being hostile"—to use his phrase; I suppose he meant being hostile to this country—"refused to strike the necessary rates," and consequently they had no money to meet the claims for which they were legally responsible in making good this damage. Then the Government over here, finding that the local authorities would not strike a rate, stopped certain grants which in the ordinary course would be made to local taxation in Ireland, and by stopping them they formed a fund for meeting these damages. The remarkable thing is that, having formed that fund—remarkable, in view of the present Vote—the Colonial Secretary told us that that money had been practically all spent, that it was all used up to meet these claims, although at a later stage in his speech he used language quite inconsistent with that when he said that the question was the release of these funds. It is not true that there are any funds now to be released, 710 because the Government have used them all, and used them all for the purpose to which they ought to have been devoted by the local authorities.
Let me pause for one moment to point out how this stands. Supposing those monies had been paid over by our Government to the local authorities in the ordinary course, and supposing that the local authorities had carried out their duty under the law and had met the claims for damage, in that case the money would equally have been spent, only it would have been spent by the local authorities, and the only difference is that, owing to what has taken place, this fund, instead of having been spent in the ordinary course by the local authorities, was spent by the Government here in discharging the liabilities of the local authorities. The Provisional Government are now coming to the Government here and to this House, and are saying, "Release these funds"—these funds that have been spent—"in order that we may be able to carry on the ordinary expenses of local government." In particular, the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary said that it was very necessary they should have these funds, because "the roads throughout Ireland have fallen into great disrepair." Therefore, the money we are now being asked to vote, more than a million pounds, is to be handed over to the Provisional Government in Ireland for, among other things, the repair of the roads, but a very illuminating sentence comes in the right hon. Gentleman's speech which tells us how these roads got out of repair. This is what he says:At one time one of the methods employed by the rebels was to blow up the roads in order to prevent the movement of military motor-cars."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1922; col. 2246, Vol. 150.]Just look what that means. It means that while this rebellion, or organised crime, or fighting, or civil war—whichever you call it, according to your point of view—was going on the enemy in Ireland were blowing up roads to prevent the right hon. Gentleman moving his military motors. Having destroyed their roads, they now, after the truce and the subsequent Treaty, come to the Government and to this House, and say, "Will you not vote us £1,130,000 in order that we may make good the damage we have already done to our roads?" The right hon. Gentleman will, of course, carry his 711 Vote, and that is why I say that a great many Members, when they come to realise what they have voted for in supporting the Government to-day, will be rather astonished at the way in which they have disposed of the taxpayers' money. The right hon. Gentleman said that the plea put forward by the Irish so-called Government was, to use his own language, that they "pressed us very strongly to liberate these intercepted revenues." I have already pointed out that it is not a question of liberating intercepted revenues, but it is a question of this House voting de novo £1,130,000 for the purposes which I have described.
The Colonial Secretary, in the course of his speech, used a phrase which I could not possibly endorse, but which is not unimportant from this point of view. He spoke of the operations which had given rise to this necessity as "a rebellion retrospectively viewed as a civil war, terminated by a treaty and amnesty." I should have thought that "terminated" was rather an inapt word with which to describe anything existing in Ireland at the present moment, and certainly I do not share the point of view which regards this "retrospectively" as a civil war, but supposing it is, what is the effect? The British taxpayer, on the invitation of this Government, are now being invited and practically, under present conditions, compelled to pay for the damage done to the rebels by the right hon. Gentleman in trying to overcome them, or, if the Colonial Secretary's language be accepted, and if it were a civil war retrospectively viewed, we may use a more dignified phrase and call them the enemy. But is it not rather curious that if they were the enemy, the British taxpayer should be called upon to pay the damage which was done to the enemy during the War by this country in trying to win that War? The right hon. Gentleman tells us that when we have voted this money, which is to be paid over to the Provisional Government, the matter at some future time has all got to be reckoned up in cross-accounts, and he says that in that cross-account one of the items which will be, I suppose, an asset from this country's point of view, will be payment for goods that they may take over from us. Of course, we know what that means. The goods which they are 712 taking over from us are the munitions of war which they are now using against Ulster.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Churchill) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. McNEILL
But that is so. The right hon. Gentleman has told us often that he has no information that that is so, and therefore I think the most he can do now is to take up an agnostic position. We have plenty of positive evidence that that is so.
§ Mr. McNEILL
A Crossley tender was taken only the other day—seen going over the Derry frontier—and rifles have been taken of British Government make.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Many Crossley tenders and many rifles of British Government make were acquired by the rebel forces during the end of the conflict. They were either stolen or captured in fighting or otherwise acquired
§ Mr. McNEILL
Have they not been restored as part of the Treaty? I accept correction from the right hon. Gentleman to this extent, that possibly it is quite true—I have no positive evidence—that these are stolen rather than purchased goods.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am very concerned to make one point only. I have authorised the handing over of 3,500 rifles up to the present to the Provisional Government for the arming of police and troops of their raising to maintain their own authority, and there is a certain number of motor cars which also have been handed over, I submit my sincere conviction to the House that none of those have been used against Ulster, and I have the most direct personal assurances from the Members of the Provisional Government to that effect.
§ Mr. McNEILL
Of course, there is a difference in our points of view. The right hon. Gentleman, owing to his present policy, pays some attention to those assurances. I pay none. I have the same unfaith that the right hon. Gentleman had a year ago, and the assurances of these gentlemen, on the strength of which he constantly, day after day, gives us information, carry absolutely no weight with us whatsoever, and there- 713 fore there is that fundamental difference between us, that I cannot feel very much impressed by assurances which rest upon no better evidence than that, though I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman is quite sincere in the belief that he puts before us, on however flimsy a ground that belief may rest. My conviction, and that of many others, is, although it may not be so, that the lorries, motor cars, rifles, and ammunition which are being used against Ulster at the present moment are probably in large measure what they have got from the right hon. Gentleman. That is the only thing they want them for. They are using ammunition that they have either bought from this Government or stolen from them, and it really does not very much matter which. The only point I was making was that the right hon. Gentleman says they are going to take into account in cross-accounts the things they have bought from the Government, which certainly include these things.
The right hon. Gentleman has drawn a distinction in principle between the payment that is to be made for personal injuries and the payment that is to be made for damage to property. With regard to personal injuries, he told us on 24th February that each party would compensate its own casualties. I do not complain of that. I think that is all right, but so far as the damage to property is concerned, with which we are dealing under this Vote, exactly the opposite principle is adopted, namely, that the damage done by the forces of the Crown to the rebels is to be paid by us, and the damage done to the forces of the Crown and to their supporters, the loyalists, has got to be paid, not by this Government, but by the Provisional Government. Now how does that work? It works out in this way. The Sinn Feiners and rebels who have been damaged by the operations of the forces of the Crown, are going to get the money of the British taxpayer. The Government, on the other hand, and their supporters and loyalists in Ireland, are going to get the Sinn Feiners' I.O.U. I am quite open to correction, but that is what I gathered from the right hon. Gentleman. What he told us was that these things would be taken into a cross account, and we know perfectly well that when the balance is struck, there will be payments to be made on one side or the 714 other. The payments to which the Government here is liable will be paid—and promptly paid—but although the Sinn Feiners may be held liable to pay, those who have a claim against them will have nothing except an I.O.U. I asked the right hon. Gentleman in a question in this House what security there was, and his answer was that the security was the credit of the Provisional Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Unless there was evidence that the bargain was being honourably carried out on both sides, certainly this Government would hold up its payments. The process would go on so long as it was being carried on honourably, according to the agreement on both sides. We should certainly not pay compensation for damage done by our own people, unless we got compensation for damage done by their people.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I am very glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman's answer to me a little time ago was not quite correct, or, at any rate, not quite sufficient. I am very glad to hear he is not quite so simple, and that our friends on the Government side in Ireland are to have some better security than the credit of the Provisional Government. But he told us the other day this amount is to be fixed by a Commission, and he said:The balance will be included in the general financial settlement between Great Britain and the Irish Free State."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1922; col. 2252, Vol. 150.]Is the Commission—this has not been made clear—going to be charged with the duty of deciding the validity of the various claims? I am glad the right hon. Gentleman is not so simple-minded as I feared, and I hope he will get less simple-minded day by day; but he will remember a very famous occasion after the South African War, when President Kruger, in putting forward his claims, made a very large claim for moral and intellectual damage.
§ Mr. McNEILL
After the Jameson Raid. I think it very likely that that example may be followed in Ireland, and that Mr. Michael Collins and his friends may put forward a similar claim. 715 If it were to be decided by the right hon. Gentleman, I should have complete confidence that they would not get a sixpence, but what is going to happen if it comes before this Commission? Apart from that, we all know quite well the sort of claims put forward by Ireland for years past in respect of overtaxation and matters of that sort, and we shall, no doubt, have a large claim for moral and intellectual damage for overtaxation and many other things, probably running back to the time of Strongbow. When that takes place, is this Commission going to decide all those questions, and are these unfortunate people who have suffered damage, and whose claims, we are told, have got to be taken into that general cross-account, to wait until it has been decided at what particular point in the last 700 years the financial claims of Ireland begin?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
They are two quite separate Commissions. One is the Commission dealing with the assessment of malicious injuries to property. That is the one affected by this Vote. After that there is the general financial settlement between Great Britain and Ireland, which is entirely separate, and will be undertaken at a later period.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I should point out that that second question is not covered by this Vote. This Vote clearly is money that has been withheld from the Local Taxation Account, and simply diverted for the payment of compensation for malicious injuries.
§ Mr. McNEILL
I have already pointed out that this is a Vote for money which has been spent. As soon as this Vote is passed, it will require £1,130,000 to make it good. It will have to be voted, I suppose, in the ordinary way in the Consolidated Fund Bill. It is not money at present in the hands of the Government to be released for purposes to be determined by this Vote, and I understood the Colonial Secretary in Committee of Supply to say that the decision as to how this money, when voted, will be handed over to the Provisional Government in Ireland, how it is to be distributed, will depend upon the decision of a Commission, which is to go into the whole question of cross-accounts as between Great Britain and Ireland.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order. May I call attention to the footnote in the Estimate which we are discussing:It has now been agreed to pay this amount to the Provisional Government for Irish services under condition that it shall be regarded as a payment to account of such sums as may be found due from the British Government to the Irish Free State in connection with the arrangements for settlement between the Governments.Therefore it is in the Vote.
§ Mr. McNEILL
On that point, what I think justifies my enlarged expectations as to the range of this cross-account is that in the Treaty, which is now embodied in a Bill before Parliament, there is a Clause which says that debts from this country to Ireland or from Ireland to this country may be set off, and I take it that it is in relation to this cross-account, which is, some time or other, to be struck, that this provision is brought in, otherwise I do not understand what the right hon. Gentleman meant when he said that a Commission would make inquiry in relation to the cross-account between the two countries. However that may be, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will clear it up later on.
There is one other point I want to bring to the right hon. Gentleman's attention. He has told us that damage done since the Truce, both as regards property and persons, will have to be thrown upon the local authorities under the ordinary law, but I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman this. What is going to be the result for the unfortunate people in the South of Ireland who have valid claims for damage done since the Truce? Supposing the local authorities again refuse to strike a rate, as they probably will? The right hon. Gentleman must bear in mind that, since the Truce last July, a very large proportion of the damage—I cannot say how much, but certainly, roughly, between 80 and 90 per cent.—has been done on the Sinn Fein side, and has been done against those who may be considered friendly to the Government. Therefore it does seem to me very unfair that these people should have to depend upon a much more doubtful security than those who suffered in what the right hon. Gentleman calls the civil war. Why 717 should this distinction be made? I think it is not a bit unlikely that the local authorities will do, as they did before, and say, "These people served the Crown, and are not deserving, and we shall certainly not strike a rate to make good their damage."
This money is money which this House is being asked to Vote now out of the taxpayers' pocket to a Government which has no legal status whatever. It is perfectly true there is a Bill going through Parliament which may do good or bad—we do not know—but it is an extraordinary thing that we are actually voting a million of the taxpayers' money, and handing it over to a junta of gentlemen who have been put in a provisional position, and have yet no legal authority whatever, and, quite possibly, never may have. All depends upon the result, not merely of elections, but a lot of different contingencies and eventualities in Ireland, and, really, that does not seem to me to be the way to carry on national finance. We ought at least to wait until there is a responsible and a legal Government before we vote money and hand it over. Everybody knows that Members of this House will flock in to support the Government on this Vote, and the great majority of Members, keen as they profess to be over public economy, have not the slightest idea of what is being done. All I can say to some of my hon. Friend's who do understand this is: Let them take care that our constituents understand what is being done, and let us see that they understand, not only in our own constituencies, but in other constituencies, the way in which this Coalition Government—and, as we are in these days dividing the cheep from the goats, let me say, two Liberal Coalition Ministers—are asking this House to vote more than £1,000,000 of the taxpayers' money to make good damages incurred in trying to establish law and order in Ireland. I think if the constituencies understand that, it will certainly not be to the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Sir Hamar Greenwood)
May I remind the House exactly what we are asking the House to do? It is set out in a note at the foot of the Estimate, and the right hon. Member for the City of 718 London (Sir F. Banbury) has quite rightly drawn attention to it:Certain sums have been diverted from the Local Taxation account in order to meet payments on account of criminal injuries under the Criminal Injuries Act, 1920. It has now been agreed to pay this amount to the Provisional Government for Irish services under condition that it shall be regarded as a payment to account of such sums as may be found due from the British Government to the Irish Free State in connection with the arrangements for settlement between the Governments.The first point I would make is this. This is not a gift. It is perfectly true, as the hon. Member has said, that this is a Vote of this House, but it is not a gift to the Provisional Government. It will be taken into account by the Government in the grand balance sheet, or, let us say, final balance sheet, which will settle outstanding accounts between the two Governments.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
All I can say is that this sum will be taken into account. The Government have to deal with the damage both in Northern and Southern Ireland. In Northern Ireland by an arrangement with the Prime Minister of that Government a total grant was agreed to. He, in his turn, will settle with all those claimants under the Criminal Injuries Acts. That settles the question of damages under these Acts, so far as the Northern Government is concerned.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
14th January, 1922. A total sum has been agreed to. This fact was stated in Committee by the Colonial Secretary. A total sum of £1,500,000 has been accepted by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. In Southern Ireland the claims are much larger—it is difficult to say how much greater—but the Government has taken steps, which I am glad to say have in the main the support of the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman), who actually lives in Southern Ireland and has been a victim of one of the unfortunate happenings there. Let me first deal with his speech. It is quite true, as he says, that if the Government had left the settlement of these claims to the normal legal procedure 719 under the 1920 and subsequent Acts it might have taken five years to pay every claim awarded under the Criminal Injuries Act. The main object of setting up the Commission to inquire into the property claims is to expedite the payment of these claims. No one, I think, questions the wisdom of setting up this Commission. Personal claims are to be paid in full. We pay the casualties on our side and the Provisional Government pay for the casualties on their side, an agreement being come to in any doubts ful cases. When a man makes a claim, or has an award under the Criminal Injuries Act in regard to his property, this Commission will inquire into it and have power to delegate its authority to investigate and assess, and I anticipate certainly the payments will be made immediately.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I can, of course, speak only on behalf of His Majesty's Government, and say that it is their intention to pay immediately, and until it is proved to the contrary, I presume on the goodwill of the Provisional Government of Ireland—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
And that the Provisional Government will expeditiously discharge these claims. If they are allowed to go on they will be one of the greatest embarrassments to any Government of Ireland. I think that is a fair answer to the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley. If these claims are not expeditiously met, His Majesty's Government must take it into consideration, and steps must be taken to pee that the victims of the hostilities receive attention. I look especially to the Irish Government to see that those concerned with these damaged properties are not left long without the award granted by this Commission.
What becomes of what the Colonial Secretary said, that if the other side do not pay fairly, then, of course, the Government would not pay their side?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
The Colonial Secretary has given the House his opinion on the matter. I do not anti- 720 cipate what the hon. and gallant Gentleman says—
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
That deals then with the question of expediting the payment of the awards as soon as possible. Now I come to another point. The Commission does not go back to the days of 6trongbow, but deals only with the period between two dates, namely, 21st January, 1919, and 11th July, 1921, the date on which the truce became operative. The Commission, therefore, deals only with the claims and claimants between these two dates, for it is between these two dates that the great majority of the claims arise. Subsequent to 11th July it has been agreed between His Majesty's Government and the Provisional Government that the Criminal Injuries Acts shall apply. In the case of anyone who brings a claim, under the Criminal Injuries Acts, and gets an award from the Courts, the local authorities will be responsible for the payment of the award. [An HON. MEMBER: "What Courts?"] Whichever Courts are functioning at the moment—His Majesty's Courts, but if under the Free State Bill or other Act of Parliament any other Courts are set up, the agreement between the two Governments remains the same. I submit to the House that that is reasonable, and for this reason: the number of lives lost, I regret to say, since 11th July, the date of the truce, is large, something, I believe, about 20, and woundings between 40 and 50. That is most deplorable. On the other hand, the amount of property destroyed has been very small, so the number of cases that will be heard by any Court will be few, though I admit the murder and wounding cases are, of course, hideous events of Irish history. It is essential that any Irish Government should put the responsibility for the payment of the damage to property on the local authority within whose areas the damage has been done. That is the underlying principle of the Criminal Injuries Acts. Therefore I think the Irish Government, is right in throwing the responsibility upon the local rating authority for all damage done to life or property that tomes within the Criminal Injuries Acts, subsequent to the truce of 11th July, 1921.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Suppose these local authorities to whom the duty of 721 paying the victims of these outrages is given do not pay, what are the victims to do?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
We will look to the Government of Ireland to see that these claims are paid. The two Governments came to an agreement, and we cannot go behind the back of the Irish Government. You must throw it on them. I do not believe any Irish Government will go back upon its Agreement. [An HON. MEMBER: "Go back on England!"]
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is becoming a general discussion on the Irish situation. The Vote does not justify a debate of that kind at all. It is concerned with particular arrangements in certain cases for dealing with the damage to life and property, and we must not go over the whole of the Treaty ground.
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
It is on the presumption of good will between both Governments that the House is asked to vote this sum of money. On that and on no other presumption I submit is it reasonable or possible, and I decline to believe that any Irish Government will seek to refuse to pay awards of its own Courts—for they will be its own by that time—in regard to criminal injuries subsequent to the Truce of 11th July, 1921, I come now to the personal appeal that the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley has made to me with reference to bard cases. There are many, I regret to say, very hard cases.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say as to whether or not the Irish Government will be prevented from making any conditions of payment, such as the Oath of Allegiance, or living in the locality, rebuilding the houses, and so on?
§ Sir H. GREENWOOD
I think the Irish Government will act reasonably, like the Governments of Canada, Australia, and anywhere else, and will not attach conditions to the judicial award of the Commission agreed to by this House and the Government. I think also that the local rating authorities in the 26 counties in 722 the South, composed of what were called Sinn Feiners, and presumably now supporting the Provisional Government of Ireland, will fully carry out the letter of the awards. As to the appeal in connection with the hard cases, I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend there are many of these. In every case we have endeavoured to make an advance of money to ameliorate the condition of these people who through no fault of their own have fallen victims during the hostilities in Ireland. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman or any other Member can let me know of anyone suffering actual physical hardship by reason of the delay in the payment of any awards I shall do my best to make a cash grant immediately to such person. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. E. McNeill) has left the House, but I think most of his points have been met by the information given by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. Those points that were not so dealt with I think I have dealt with, and it must be remembered that we discussed this particular Vote at great length in Committee. I repeat this is not a gift to the Provisional Government, but it is an agreement with the Provisional Government to give them, by this Vote, and with the consent of the House, this sum of money that was intercepted under the Restoration of Order (Ireland) Act from going to the local authorities, in order to pay for personal injuries and damage to property suffered during the last few years in Ireland. The Provisional Government of Ireland, until the beginning of next month, has no source of revenue with which to carry on. This will help the Government to re-establish all their local authorities. It is a reasonable agreement made between the two Governments and I think it is a fair and a reasonable request that this House should help the Provisional Government to establish its local authorities in their normal working, and so take a step which, I think, is a most important step in re-establishing law and order in Southern Ireland.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ASHLEY
I think there are two points, and two only, in this Debate which really are germane to this discussion. The first is whether the method proposed by the Government to pay compensation is justified, and the second is if it is right and proper that this 723 House should vote over £ 1,100,000 of the British taxpayers' money to finance the Provisional Government till they are able to get some money of their own. In regard to the first point, I myself am in disagreement with my hon. Friends who moved and seconded the reduction, though on the second point I am entirely in agreement with them. I have some personal interest in the method of the distribution of the compensation, as both under the Commission which is going to decide upon the adequacy or otherwise of the compensation awarded between 1st January, 1919, and 11th July, 1921, I have claims to compensation, and also I am personally claiming substantial compensation for damage done to my property since 11th July of last year. Therefore I would ask my hon. Friends, with whom I am in complete sympathy on the general policy, rather to hesitate before they absolutely condemn the method of payment of compensation in both periods outlined by the Government. I have always disagreed with this Treaty, and I profoundly mistrust it, but, having said that, I think, the facts being as they are, the method put forward by the Government is the soundest under the circumstances. Obviously, it is right and proper that there should be a Commission appointed to review the awards made between the 1st January, 1919, and the 11th July, 1921, because it is common knowledge that many inflated claims were passed which ought never to have been allowed, and it is equally well known that there are a number of claims in which very inadequate compensation was given. If we have this Commission we shall arrive at an approximately just estimate of the amount that ought to be paid over to the sufferers in life and property during that period.
Take the method proposed after the 11th July, 1921. It is quite true that those of us who had damage done to our property since the 11th July, 1921, must rely upon the good faith and honesty of the local authorities in Ireland. What other course is there open to us except to trust the local authorities? The Bill will be passed giving them power to set up an independent Free State. It is no use crying over spilt milk, and you have to trust the local authorities. I have 724 great hope that the Provisional Government and their officers will try and do the right thing by those who have suffered loss, not through the orders of the Provisional Government, but owing to the lawlessness which has become ingrained in those counties owing to the number of law breakers at large who commit arson, and do damage to property and to cattle. These are matters which only time and decent government can put in order. I am perfectly willing to leave my own claim, and I think most other people in Ireland will be ready to do the same, to the good sense and justice of the Courts, whether Free State Courts or Imperial Courts.
But when I come, as the representative of an English constituency, and a British taxpayer, to view the proposal of the Government, that £1,100,000 of the British taxpayers' money should be handed over now to a body of individuals, however excellent or well meaning, who have very little authority in Ireland, and who may be turned out at the election and a Republican Government established, and who have no legal status at all, I am amazed that the House of Commons sits down with so little protest and apparently allows this Vote to go through unchallenged. We are here as the guardians of the taxpayers, professing a desire for economy, and yet we allow, practically without any protest, except from a few hon. Members, £ 1,100,000 of the British taxpayers' money to be handed over to a body of gentlemen with no legal status, who are admittedly unable to restrain a large body of their followers, and who have not the command of the armed forces in the 26 counties. What guarantee shall we have that the money will he repaid, or that they will ever balance the account? How do we know that when the final settlement comes the Provisional Government may not owe us money? I think we ought to have some answer on this point. The Chief Secretary has given no answer on that point, and he has given us no assurance. I know he said it will be all right eventually, but how does he know that? It seems to me that we ought to object on the grounds of economy to pay over £ 1,100,000 of the British taxpayers' money without any guarantee that any of this money will ever come back.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
I share the regret of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. E. McNeill) that there are not here to-day more representatives of the British taxpayer to see the way in which their money is being voted away in their absence. I think their constituents will do well to ascertain why their representatives are not here to defend the British taxpayer. In the absence of many hon. Members who ought to be here, I think it is vital that we should be informed exactly what the Government are doing. To put it in plain English, the Government are handing over £ 1,000,000, taken out of the pockets of the British taxpayers, to an illegal Government, and one which would never have come into existence at all but for the very outrages which we are deploring to-day. That is not all. This is a totally unjustifiable diversion of money from the victims of these outrages committed by Sinn Feiners into the hands of the Sinn Fein Government. If this Vote is not passed I take it that things will go on as they are at present, and that the moneys will be paid to the persons to whom the local authorities owe the money. The effect of the action of the Government is to take away from the victims of these outrages money that otherwise they would get, and they are handing over the money to a body which would not have come into existence at all but for the action of the Government. In a speech made on the 24th February the Colonial Secretary said, "This is Irish money, and why not give it to Ireland?" The Colonial Secretary was under a very great misapprehension, because it is not Irish money. In the first place it is taken out of the pockets of the British taxpayers.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Yes, but the propor-portion is very much smaller and it is an insignificant amount. Let me point out what will happen to this money. If the Irish local authorities will pay their debts and pay the victims of these outrages what they owe them by law, that money could be handed over to the local authorities; but the Government thought that if the Irish local authorities contumaciously refused to pay and would not levy a rate to pay the victims to whom they owe the money, then it is quite right and 726 just that the British Government should say, "We will not hand over this money as we should do if you were honest men, but we will pay the persons to whom you owe the money." That would be a perfectly just and reasonable arrangement. So much for the suggestion that it is Irish money, but do not let us be misled by that statement.
What I want to know is what would the British taxpayer say if he knew that this money which is being taken out of his pockets was being distributed in this way? Would he say it was in accordance with his wishes that it should be handed over to this new government at the expense of the people upon whom these atrocious outrages were committed, both to their persons and their property? Now that you are taking this money and handing it over to the Irish Provisional Government to pay the sufferers, what will happen if the sufferers are not paid the money? Supposing the Irish Government do not choose to pay them, what is to happen? The Colonial Secretary gave us some enlightenment on this point because he said, "If they will not pay these men we shall retaliate and we shall not pay the Sinn Feiners the money which we should otherwise pay to them." The right hon. Gentleman said that if the Sinn Fein Government will not pay our people this money then he will not pay the Sinn Feiners the money which we owe them. That is a good form of reprisal, but it is no satisfaction to the loyal men in Ireland, who do not get the money which is due to them. It is poor comfort to them to be told that although they have not got their money the Sinn Feiners will not get theirs. What I want to know-is how are you going to provide that the men who have been lawfully awarded money for injury to life and property are going to get it. They want to get paid, and I hope when the Colonial Secretary speaks he will deal with that question.
These men of whom we are speaking have been awarded by competent courts sums of money as compensation for damage to their property. One would have thought those sums would have been paid without these people being put to any further trouble or expense. Nevertheless they have to go through a totally new process owing to an arrangement made with the Provisional Government in undefended cases, and these unfor- 727 tunate victims have to go before a new tribunal, bringing all their witnesses in order to establish their claim, and they run the risk of getting their awards disallowed. I do not think that course is either reasonable or just, because they have already established their claims before a competent court, and they should not have to go through all through this trouble again. If the parties concerned did not take the trouble to dispute the claims put forward, why should the people who were prepared to prove their claims suffer for it? Surely if anyone should suffer it ought to be the people who did not take the trouble to come forward to dispute the claims. Therefore I would urge the Colonial Secretary to reconsider that matter, and to say that, once these people can show that they have been awarded compensation by a competent court they shall not be put to the expense of re-establishing their claims: also I hope he will say that these moneys with which we are dealing to-day, and which would, in the ordinary way, be available to pay these compensation claims, shall not be handed over to Sinn Feiners over whom we have no control.
Mr. J. JONES
Like the hon. and learned Member who has just addressed the House, I happen to be an Irishman representing an English constituency, and, therefore, I can speak with very little authority on the subject. But it does seem to me that this financial Vote is being used as a tag upon which to hang an attack on the Government Bill for the establishment of an Irish Free State. What is the position? As I understand it—I may be ignorant of the law, but the law and the prophets, are very nearly connected—this money is to be voted to help the Provisional Government of Ireland to function. Every Member of this House knows that in Ireland at the present moment there is no possibility of functioning in the matter of, Government, unless substantial financial assistance is granted. I would draw the attention of hon. Members to the fact that we passed an Act of a similar character at the conclusion of the South African War, and we then voted £ 2,000,000 to people who had been in arms against us. To do what? To help them to carry on the functions of Government. What is going to happen if this particular Vote is re- 728 fused? It means that the people who are against constitutional government in Ireland are going to be supreme, and those who pretend to believe in the rights of property are going to vote themselves out of office. This Vote is not being given to Sinn Feiners. Its object is to compensate those who have lost anything as a consequence of the troubles that have occurred in Ireland. That is what I understand.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No. The money is to be given to the local authorities to enable them to carry on work which Parliament meant them to do. The money which they should have had was intercepted in order to pay a proportion of the claims for damages.
That is another way of saying the same thing. I happen to be Irish and I know something about it. Who are the people who have lost and who require compensation? In a very large number of cases, as the right hon. Gentleman himself will admit, they are people who were loyal to the Government. They were constitutionalists. They have lost their property; their premises have been sacked; and we are now granting local authorities in Ireland, for the purpose of functioning, a certain amount of money to meet the demands made upon them. That is what is being done, and the constitutional Bolshevists and Tall-hats, are saying, "You must not pay this money, because the Government in the South of Ireland have a different kind of complexion to the Government in Northern Ireland." What is happening in Northern Ireland at the present moment? Compensation is going to be given, but not to Roman Catholics or Nationalists in Northern Ireland. Have we any guarantee that any will be given to them? A great deal of fuss is being made in this House this evening about the compensation to be given.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
£ 1,500,000 is to be placed at the disposal of the authorities in Northern Ireland for impartial distribution in aid of making good damages, irrespective of party or religion.
I believe that in Southern Ireland there will be greater impartiality displayed than in Northern Ireland.
§ Captain CRAIG
It is easy to say that. What proof have you of it? If the hon. Gentleman knows he has no opportunity of proving his words here, he ought not to make statements and false accusations.
I am not making accusations; I am only pointing out the fact. I say that Roman Catholics in the North of Ireland, and especially in the North East corner of Ireland, stand as much chance of getting justice as a celluloid cat has of passing through hell.
Yes, you know more about celluloid than I do. You are an aeroplane man, I am not. I say that this money is going to the very people whom hon. Gentlemen who are Apposing this Vote pretend to agree with.
The property owners in Southern Ireland are mainly the people whom hon. Members opposite believe in. They are the loyalists, so called. [An HON. MEMBER: "Small farmers!"] They are mainly constitutionalists. The small farmers are the men I want to back. They are, at any rate in the southern part of Ireland, constitutionalists. They are not revolutionaries; they are not republicans. They are men out to get a form of government based on real democracy. They are now being told that they are not to be compensated for the losses they have sustained, simply because certain Members of this House do not believe in the Constitution which is being granted to Southern Ireland. If the Provisional Government for Southern Ireland is supported as it ought to be by the Members of this House, Ireland will shortly become a united nation, and part and parcel of a great Commonwealth. Yet bigotry is so strong that this Vote is being objected 730 to by men who call themselves constitutionalists, but who, in fact, are the biggest revolutionaries and the biggest Bolshevists in this country.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
It is very extraordinary what a wrong interpretation is put upon this Vote by many Members of the House. In Committee we were told that if we rejected the Vote we should deprive the people of Southern Ireland of compensation. Apparently the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) does not entertain the same view, for he has told us that the money is to be given in order to enable the Irish Provisional Government to carry on. That is rather contradictory to another statement of his that the money will go in compensation to small Irish farmers who have been loyal. It is not going in compensation to anyone, whether they be Loyalists, Disloyalists, Catholics, or Protestants. What is going to happen to this money is this: If hon. Members will look at the Estimate, they will see the item, "Grant in aid of miscellaneous services to be administered by the Provisional Government, £ 1,130,000." This means that we are now voting out of the pockets of the British taxpayer £ 1,130,000 to be handed over to the Provisional Government. It is quite true that in Committee the Colonial Secretary stated that the rebels have blown up roads in the Southern part of Ireland. I believe it has been admitted also that in some cases our troops, for military purposes, have done the same sort of thing. This money, we are informed, is to be devoted to paying the rebels for damage they themselves have done. That seems to me the most extraordinary solution of that great wonderful arrangement by which peace and goodwill was to descend on Ireland, and by which Great Britain was to be relieved of all her troubles in connection with the Irish question. What, in fact, has happened is that peace has not descended upon Ireland, but that the British taxpayer has got to pay.
The right hon. Gentleman has also told us that this money is to go to the Provisional Government, in order to enable the local authorities to repair the damage that has been done. What guarantee have we that they will do that with the money? This £ 1,130,000 is going to be handed over to the Republican Government, and once they have got it, you may be sure they will do what they like with 731 it. They may even purchase arms and ammunition to be used against my hon. Friend below the gangway—the Ulster Members. They may devote the money to any purpose they choose—either to attacking de Valera, or to attacking my hon. Friends from Ulster—more probably the latter. Therefore, I strongly object to this Vote. I object that in these hard times the Government should put their hands into my pocket in order to pay these Irish rebels for the mischief that they have done, and that the Government should ask us to vote this money with the full knowledge that it will not be devoted to the purpose for which it is asked, but that it will be used by the Irish Government to aid them in procuring the particular form of Government they desire. The right hon. Gentleman—I do not know whether I am to call him the late or the present Chief Secretary, perhaps it would be more convenient to speak of him as the Provisional Chief Secretary—intimated that the Government was going to make a cash payment to the Irish loyalists in cases of hardship which might be brought to their notice. From what fund is he going to make these cash payments? What authority has he to make them? The Government seem to think that they have only to say that they will make a cash payment, and that they can do it without asking our permission I What are we here for? It is to grant money. It is not for the right hon. Gentleman to make cash payments. He is not going to make them out of his own pocket—he is going to make them out of the pocket of the British taxpayer, and therefore he is bound to come down here and ask our permission before he does anything of the kind. Then the right hon. Gentleman said it must be remembered that eventually there will be a grand settlement, a grand balance sheet. I say, let us see this balance sheet before we pay anything. Surely that is a business proposition. If you have certain claims against A, and A has certain claims against you, you do not begin by taking money out of your pocket and handing it over to A before you have seen the balance sheet and know whether A is going to pay your claims against him. In this case, however, we are going to pay these claims first, before we have seen 732 the balance sheet or made any arrangements as to the honouring of the results of that balance sheet. We do not know who will be in power in Ireland when this beautiful balance sheet comes out. It may be Mr. de Valera, it may be a Republic, or it may be that we shall have reconquered Ireland ourselves, as I firmly believe we shall have to do. Therefore, a more unbusinesslike arrangement was never submitted to any House of Parliament. Might I ask the Colonial Secretary, who, I understand, is going to reply, was this payment part of any arrangement made at the celebrated interview in Downing Street some short time ago? I have no reason for supposing that it was—
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
No; this arrangement was made about two months after that, as the result of a long discussion following on the approval of the Treaty by the members of the Southern Irish Parliament.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am glad to hear that. I earnestly hope that the few hon. Members who have heard the discussion will assist us, and especially the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir W. Raeburn). I hope he will show his desire to protect the interests of his Scottish constituents, who are the last people who will be anxious to spend their money in helping the Irish rebels, and I hope that if he has listened to the Debate, and understands the real question before the House, he will assist us by voting with us.
§ Mr. GWYNNE
I have listened to the whole of this Debate, and the only satisfactory statement I have heard so far from the Government Benches was that of the Chief Secretary that, if any strong cases of hardship were brought to his notice, such as those of people who have been driven out of the country and awarded compensation but cannot get it, he will see that they get payment. I am glad to hear that, but I would remind him that I have myself recently brought cases to his notice which come under that category, and so far nothing has 733 happened. I could bring many more cases now, of men and women who are in this country practically starving, and who, although they have had large sums awarded to them, cannot get enough even to buy their own lunch. I should like to ask the Colonial Secretary whether, when he replies, he will enlighten us a little as to this money which we are voting. During the Committee stage he talked about it as Irish money. Does he still say that it is Irish money? He nods his head. If it is, I should object very strongly to voting it, on the ground that it ought to be used for the purpose for which it was intercepted, namely, for paying to loyalists compensation which is due to them. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, however, that this money is not Irish money. I take it that it is money collected from Ireland, in the same way in which our own taxes are collected in this country, and going into the general fund, and it is only due to Ireland when the Irish local authorities have carried out certain undertakings.
In this country, and I assume also in Ireland, local authorities make certain expenditures and get Grants-in-Aid towards them. They have to keep up the roads, for instance, and the money is only paid to them after the roads have been made or maintained up to a certain standard, and certificates to that effect have been given. In the same way, Grants-in-Aid are given to local authorities for the upkeep of workhouses and other institutions, but that money is only paid after it has been certified to be due. In the case of these grants for roads, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the money has been spent, and whether the Government have had certificates showing that it is due? Or is it, on the other hand, merely a general payment on account of what might be due after the roads have been made up? My information is that the money was withheld, and these works did not continue. The roads were not made up, and in some cases the workhouses were closed. If that be the case, then this money has not yet become due, and therefore it is not Irish money. The right hon. gentleman during the Committee stage said that this money was for the purpose of enabling the Provisional Government to function, or, to use his own words, to help to deal with the economic situation of the country, and to meet certain minor contingencies inci- 734 dental to the erection of the Provisional Government. If that money has been made over to the Provisional Government, it has not been made over to the local authorities, and therefore I say that we have no right this afternoon to vote this money to the Provisional Government, who, as has been said before, have no legal status at the present time. The payment is not a legal payment, and it is certainly not just, as far as the loyalists are concerned, to tell them that they can wait while this money, which was earmarked for their benefit, is handed over to the so-called Provisional Government.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope the House will now be ready to come to a conclusion on this subject. The position really is quite a simple one. The moneys which Parliament had voted for local services under the Local Government Authorities in Ireland were intercepted by special action on our part during the conflict, in order to enable us to exact from those local authorities funds out of which compensation could be paid to persons, and to a lesser extent on account of property, in respect of injuries received. This money, having been intercepted, was paid over, and still larger sums were paid over by us to persons on account of damage to life and limb, and to a certain extent on account of damage to property, so that a portion of the victims have received compensation, either in whole or in part, out of this money which we intercepted from the local authorities.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am going to try to explain. This money, as I have said, having been intercepted, was handed over—not the identical coin, but that sum, indeed a still larger sum—to persons who had suffered by the devastation and depredations of the conflict. Then the Truce and the Treaty came into being, and we decided that the payment in respect of injuries done to this or that party shall be settled on a certain basis by the Compensation Commission, and paid over by whichever party was responsible for the damage, and that the accounts, when made up, shall be credited or debited to either country in the financial settlement between the two countries. This instalment of compensation which has been paid to loyalists—I 735 use the term to explain what I mean—is only a small proportion of the general question of compensation for malicious injuries. There are considerably larger sums which, no doubt, will be returned by the Commission shortly to be appointed, either against the Irish Free State Government or against the British Government. This is only a small proportion, perhaps one-fifth or one-sixth, of what ultimately will be the total sum required to compensate for damage on one side or the other. We felt, however, that it would not be convenient to defray this small portion of the compensation charges, now that there have been a Truce and a Treaty, out of funds intercepted from the local authorities, but that it would be in accordance with proper accounting and good financial arrangements that the sums which Parliament had voted to the local authorities should now be allowed to resume their normal flow for the purpose of overtaking work which ought to have been done before, and that the question of compensation should be dealt with as a whole in the general financial settlement between the two countries. Therefore, we are not asking the House to vote money for compensation at all at the present time, but to release funds, hitherto earmarked for compensation, which have been paid, and which belong properly to the local government authorities in Ireland, and to allow those authorities to resume their normal services.
§ Sir J. BUTCHER
Is not this money going to be paid over to the Provisional Government to do what they like with, and not to the local authorities?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
That is so. Of course, after this Government gets plenary powers, when the present Bill is through, it will have control over this money, but our belief is that the money will be allocated to the local authorities. That is what it is desired for. After all, there is great unemployment in Ireland—not so great as in the industrial districts of England, but very great unemployment for an agricultural country; and it is in the interests of that Government, and in all our interests, that the largest proportion of the population shall be at work, and that the roads of the country and other public works shall go forward. We certainly have every expecta- 736 tion that this money will be transmitted to the local authorities, to enable them to catch up the really shocking arrears in local administration which have arisen out of the necessary conditions of the conflict. At the same time, I make no concealment of the fact that, once self-government is given, it involves all the responsibility and discretion which attach to it. It involves the right to act wisely or unwisely, to take a reasonable course of action or to take an unreasonable, foolish, and unwise course of action. It would be foolish of us, however, to assume that an unwise or foolish use will be made of this money. Anyhow, pursuing that line of argument, if the Bill which is passing through Parliament passes, as I expect it will, and receives the Royal Assent in the course of next week, the Irish Provisional Government will be masters not only of this £ 1,100,000 but of the whole finances of Southern Ireland. Our method of treating this subject is to render to the local authorities what Parliament had intended should be rendered to them for the service of this year, and to deal with compensation on the general basis which I have already fully explained on this Vote.
I had an opportunity of receiving a deputation, which was not introduced to me by the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman), but which he was good enough to direct to my address, and I had every opportunity of learning the extraordinarily difficult position in which many of these unfortunate people have been placed by the cruel injuries to their property and by the long delay—the law's delays—in securing them compensation. I am most anxious that that process shall be accelerated, but no longer by anticipating the revenues which are properly allocated to Irish local government. I am most anxious that the Commission for dealing with compensation shall set to work at the earliest moment. I hope before the end of next week the personnel of that Commission will be announced and that it will begin its work at once. The hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) says what a one-sided arrangement this is. The loyalist whose castle is burnt receives an I.O.U. from the Provisional Government. The rebel whose cottage has been destroyed as a military reprisal will obtain compensation from the large and ample funds of the British Exchequer. 737 That is not the picture I made of it at all. I see this Commission sitting in Dublin, with subsidiary agencies throughout Ireland, and holding, if necessary, special inquiries in this country and making awards. I see these awards being defrayed, in a considerable proportion, as they are given by the British and Irish Provisional Governments. Certainly I expect that the Irish Provisional Government will keep pace step by step with our march in these matters. Certainly I do not contemplate that we should pay our share to their people and they should pay no corresponding share to ours. What is the use of proceeding on the assumption that they will continually break faith? [Interruption.] I have not had the experience that they have broken faith with us in any detail as far as I have seen since we have entered into agreement with them.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
One particular man, it is true, but I am talking of the Irish Provisional Government, the men who are carrying on, and I certainly do not contemplate that a Government like that, which is interested enormously in the proper liquidation of these compensation claims, would repudiate their part of the bargain and if you assume that they will do that, you must assume that everything will end in ruin and chaos.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not think it does, and I hope my hon. Friend does not hope it does. But if you were to assume that the Provisional Government was going to repudiate its obligations our resources would not be by any means completely exhausted. We could put the money, which is undoubtedly due by us, to people who have been injured by the Crown forces and whose creameries have been destroyed by the Crown forces in the course of the struggle into a fund out of which we could defray the losses of our own people, who would receive the compensation to which they are entitled on the other side of the account. I do not see any possible difficulty in adjusting this matter oven on the basis of a complete breakdown, but I do not at all expect that there will be a complete breakdown. On the contrary, I think it is a probable estimate that the Irish Provisional Government will punctiliously discharge its legal and financial duties under the Treaty and under the Bill that is now passing through Parliament, and in that event I hope during the course of the next few months substantial payments will be made to persons who have suffered injuries inflicted by one side upon the other during the Irish struggle. I hope the House will now permit us to get this Vote.
§ Question put, "That '£ 1,130,000' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 220; Noes, 46.739
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[5.57 p.m.|
|Adamson, Ht. Hon. William||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Cairns, John||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.|
|Amnion, Charles George||Carr, W. Theodore||Falls, Major Sir Bertram Godfray|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Farquharson, Major A. C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cautley, Henry Strother||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. Sir A. J. (City, Lon.)||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Flides, Henry|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue|
|Barrand, A. R.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Ford, Patrick Johnston|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Coats, Sir Stuart||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cockerill, BriGadler-General G. K.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith|
|Beck, Sir Arthur Cecil||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Galbraith, Samuel|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Gardiner, James|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Daiziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Gillis, William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Gould, James C.|
|Brown, Major D. C.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Edgar, Clifford B.||Greene, Lt.-Cot. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Edge, Captain Sir William||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Lowther, Maj. Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon Frederick E.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Hancock, John George||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Seager, Sir William|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Haslam, Lewis||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Mallalieu, Frederick William||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Hayward, Evan||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Mason, Robert||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Morrison, Hugh||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hinds, John||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Murchison, C. K.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Neal, Arthur||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, west]|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Newman. Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Hotchkin, Cantain Stafford Vere||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Crmsby-Gore, Hon. William||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|Hudson, R. M.||Parker, James||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wallace, J.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pearce, Sir William||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|Jesson, C.||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Perkins, Walter Frank||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Waring, Major Walter|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Pratt, John William||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Pretyman, Rt. Hon, Ernest G.||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Purchase, H. G.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Kidd. James||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rankin. Captain James Stuart||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Lawson, John James||Renwick, Sir George||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Rose, Frank H.||McCurdy.|
|Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gretton, Colonel John||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l, W. D'by)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Reid, D. D.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Remnant, Sir James|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jameson, John Gordon||Stewart, Gershom|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Lindsay, William Arthur||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lowther, Col. Claude (Lancaster)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Macquisten, F. A.||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Mr. R. Gwynne and Sir R. Cooper.|
Sixth Resolution read a Second time.