HC Deb 24 May 1922 vol 154 cc1380-2

Resolution reported, That a sum, not exceeding £750,000, 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, 1923, for a grant in aid to the Government of Northern Ireland in respect of compensation for damages arising out of the disturbed condition of Ireland.

Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

Captain W. BENN

When this matter seas debated in Committee a complaint was made that the provision in this Vote did not allow for any compensation to the Catholic workers of Belfast who had suffered injury in their property, and sometimes in their persons, owing to the disturbed state of the country. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote intimated that some steps would be taken to deal with these cases. I think he went so far as to say he would introduce a Supplementary Estimate. He was answering a question which had arisen, and this would be a suitable opportunity to amplify his statement.

The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Sir Hamar Greenwood)

In so far as any expelled worker has suffered injury in his person or property, which injury has been deemed malicious by a county court in any of the Six Counties, he, is entitled to his share in the £720,000 which we are now discussing on the Report stage. I have already introduced an Estimate for £1,500,000, of which £500,000 is entirely for the relief of workers in Belfast, and it is in part precisely for these expelled workers that the Estimate will come before the Committee.


I would like to have a little explanation regarding this money. Hundreds of the men affected are members of the union of which I am a member. I would take the case of a pattern maker or tool maker, men who have to pay 2130 or £160 of their own money into their own tools. Many of these men have had their tools wantonly destroyed, and in some cases have been Hung 120 feet over the side of a boat into the dock. They have never been able to claim in respect of these tools, though to men like them it is a, matter of life and death. They may never have the opportunity to replace the fools they have lost. I think the Chief Secretary might give us more detail. The loss of a kit of tools is very serious. An ordinary micrometer would cost something like three guineas to-day, and there are many thousands of such tools concerned.


This is the Report of a Vote to relieve the taxpayers and ratepayers of Northern Ireland from the burden which certain judgments of the Court have put upon them for malicious injuries. In so far as cases, such as that mentioned, come within that category, it would be, of course, in order to discuss them. It would not be in order to discuss cases which have not formed the subject of judgments by the Courts in Ireland.


Is this not this in fact a Bill of Indemnity? If the House passes this are we excluded from pointing out any acts of injustice which have not been remedied?

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

The other Vote which has been referred to, and which has not yet gone through Committee, will be the opportunity.

Captain W. BENN

Is this £750,000 only to indemnify Northern Ireland for judgments delivered, or is it a grant-in-aid in respect of points such as have been raised?


This £750,000 is a Vote which is the result of an agreement between my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. It is a payment to the Northern Government to relieve the ratepayers of Northern Ireland of awards, or partly of awards, for malicious injuries, up to 14th January of this year.

If any expelled worker has a claim, or rather has an award allowed by any County Court, he, to sonic extent—to what extent I cannot say—will be a sharer in this. May I say this question of expelled workers can be raised on the Estimate still before the Committee of a million and a half, half a million of which is for relief of workers in the northern area, and under the agreement between the Chairman of the Provisional Government and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Precise arrangements are made for these specific workers, whose experience is one of the most regrettable of many regrettable incidents. But that is the Vote upon which it can be specifically raised.


It does not treat the cases of workers who have been thrown out bag and baggage out of work and who have suffered severe personal injury.


I am afraid that would not be in Order.


Is it possible or has it been possible for them to have had their cases tried before any of the Courts? That is the point. We want these to be considered in the category of relief workers for the injury done to them.