§ (1) For the purpose of providing in Ireland cottages, with or without plots or gardens, for the accommodation of men who served ill any of His Majesty's naval, military, or air forces in the late War, and for other purposes incidental thereto, a body shall be established consisting of five members, of whom three shall be appointed by a Secretary of State, one by the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, and one by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
§ (2) The body so established shall be a body corporate by the name of the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust, with perpetual succession and a common seal, and is in this Section referred to as "the Trust."
§ (3) For the purposes aforesaid the Trust shall have all the powers which are conferred upon the Local Government Board for Ireland by Section four of the Irish Land (Provision for Sailors and Soldiers) Act. 1919, including power to carry out the schemes made under that Section by that Board prior to the passing of this Act, and such powers of management, sale, disposal and otherwise as may be conferred on them by Regulations made by the Treasury, and nil property, assets, rights and liabilities held, enjoyed or borne by the Local Government Board for Ireland in connection with any schemes so made by them shall be transferred to the Trust:
§ Provided that the provisions of the said Section relating to the compulsory acquisition of land, limiting the time within which 570 the power to acquire land may be exercised by the Board, and regulating the expenses and receipts and audit of accounts of the Board shall not apply to the Trust.
§ (4)There shall be paid to the Trust out of moneys provided by Parliament, at such times and in such instalments us the Treasury may direct, a sum not exceeding one million five hundred thousand pounds, and the sum so received and all other receipts of the Trust shall be applied by the Trust to the purposes for which the Trust is created.
§ (5) The Treasury may make regulations as to the procedure of the Trust and as to the application of the proceeds of sale, and as to the audit of the accounts of the Trust, and generally as to the manner ill winch the Trust shall carry out their powers and duties and the Trust shall act in accordance with those regulations.
§ (6) The term of office of a member of the Trust shall be such as may he determined by the authority by whom he is appointed, hut the Trust may act notwithstanding any vacancy in their number.
§ (7) This Section shall not come into operation until the Treasury certify that such legislation has been passed by the Parliament of the Irish Free State and the Parliament of Northern Ireland as is necessary to enable the Trust to acquire and to hold land, to vest in the Trust any land and other property which is under this Section to be transferred to the Trust, and otherwise to enable the Trust to carry out the purposes of this Section.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "War," to insert the wordsincluding men who served in the Mercantile Marine during the late War under the direction or control of any Government Department.I move this Amendment in order to remedy what has obviously been an oversight in making, for the men referred to, some provision equal to that of ex-service men who were in the Army or Navy or Air Force, so far as housing is concerned. I was hoping that the Government would accept the Amendment without much being said in support of it. We have to remember the position with which the Mercantile Marine was confronted during the earlier stages of the great War Hon. Members must recollect vividly that there was a long period during which merchantmen were not armed to repel enemy attacks. During that period the Mercantile Marine was placed at a much graver disadvantage than were the armed forces of the Navy and Army. Many of the men, particularly those in the "Black Gang," working in the bilge of the ship, perhaps 30 ft. or 40 ft. below the water line, had no chance of saving their lives 571 if their ship was hit. I mention that in order to show the gravity of the risks run by the men of the Mercantile Marine at that time. Upon them, as much as upon our other excellent lines of defence, we depended in this nation for the bringing in of the foodstuffs which were necessary not only to feed the civilian population but also to ensure an adequate supply for the forces engaged in more active spheres of operation.
It is not to my mind quite right that in connection with these amounts which are being definitely set aside, this arm of the service should be forgotten or should not have an equal opportunity of securing the advantages of any provision made in this respect. Here I ought to say—although it is very obvious—that I am in no sense mentioning the mercantile marine in competition with the valuable services rendered by the Army, Navy and Air Force. I do not desire to introduce the question of the mercantile marine merely as an argument for expanding the scope of this proposal, although some Members may feel inclined to go beyond its present scope. We should remember, however, that many of these men and women too— stewardesses and others—after having been on vessels which were torpedoed three and four times, at once re-engaged. That is the spirit of the merchant service. It is a spirit which is akin to that of the naval service. The traditions controlling and governing the acts of our race on the high seas of the world are beyond words to describe. The word "magnificent" comes nowhere near an adequate description. Now, many of these men find themselves houseless just as do members of other branches of His Majesty's Forces, and if there is to be any preference at all in a matter of this kind the mercantile marine should have equal opportunity with the other services.
The argument may be used that members of the mercantile marine are in a different category to ex-Navy and ex-Army men in so far as the latter are either time-expired or demobilised, are no longer actively associated with the forces, and must seek home employment. Having sought it, and having perhaps been successful, it may be said that they have an increased hardship in regard to housing accommodation. My answer to that argument is that we must recollect the tonnage which is at present laid up and 572 the stultifying, almost, of the whole of our mercantile marine in the matter of tonnage. Many thousands of these men find their occupation gone, and are in the same category as the other ex-service men. The strain of the War period has equally affected them: it has prematurely-aged a large number of them, and they are apt to seek shore occupations because of that. I urge the Government to accept the Amendment so that after all the magnificent tributes which have been paid to these men on the Floor of the House it shall not be said that now, when the War is over, they are forgotten and regarded as belonging to the past. We can never forget them. Certainly, so long as I have a voice left, I shall never permit any section of the community within my hearing to forget the duty and the obligation which we owe to the mercantile service. During the War period every merchant seaman came under the control of some Government Department or another. There was the Shipping Control Department there was the Naval Department: there was the department dealing with air matters, and these men were all subject to control and to rules set up for their guidance by Government departments. Remembering this fact, and remembering the circumstances of the merchant seamen during that terrible four-and-a-half years, and particularly the earlier portion of it, I ask that they be given equal consideration in this Government subsidised housing scheme with other ex-members of His Majesty's Forces.
§ Sir D. HOGG
I would like to say at once that certainly nobody on this side of the House intends to forget or can forget the services which the mercantile marine rendered during the War. I am glad that this point has been raised by the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), because it has given me an opportunity for making that statement. When I have said that, I should like to point out to the Committee that the hon. Member is under a misapprehension as to the reason for this Clause. In the year 1919 there was passed by this House an Act to facilitate the provision of land in Ireland for men who had served in the Naval, military or air forces of the Crown. That Act gave certain powers and duties to the Irish Local Government Board to acquire land in Ireland and to build cottages for these men. It must be apparent to the Committee that now, 573 when the Irish Free State is constituted and is given jurisdiction, they would resent an English Government Department carrying on operations of that kind within their jurisdiction. They would say that this was a matter in which it was much hotter that we should not directly, as a Government, interfere. Accordingly this Clause is proposed in order to transfer to a new body—a trust constituted in the way defined in the Clause—the duties and obligations which were, up to this moment, entrusted to the Local Government Board. There is no question of making any fresh provision. We are merely altering the machinery by which we are carrying out existing provisions. If the Amendment were carried, the effect would be that there would not be that provision which the House thought fit to make in 1919 available for men who have served in the Forces, because anything which went to the mercantile marine would necessarily, as a result of the Amendment, be deducted from the sum already provided for the ex-service men. I do not think that i3 a result which the hon. Member would wish to attain or which the Committee would wish to sanction. This Clause simply and solely give:; power to the, trust which we hope to set up, to carry out the old provisions, and it may alleviate the quite legitimate anxiety of the hon. Member, if I say that I have made inquiries and I am told that the Board of Trade have not had a single application from any member of the mercantile marine to know whether they could come within the provisions made so long ago as 1919; so there does not seem to be any great demand on behalf of this very gallant class of the
§ community for these particular advantages. I hope with that explanation, the Committee will see fit to leave the Clause in its present form.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
There is not much weight to be attached to the argument as to inquiries at the Board of Trade. Has the Board of Trade at any time sought knowledge as to whether or not there is any demand? If it is left to the sea-going fraternity themselves the last place they will go to for any favour is the Board of Trade. We all know the articles which are read out at the Board of Trade offices when signing-on takes place, and it is certainly the last place seamen would go to in search of houses. Assuming, however, that the number of applications is small, I am not so much concerned about that as about remedying what I consider to be an obvious oversight. Even if there were only one, or two, or very few applications, these men should be given an equal right with the others. That is all I am asking. The services of these men were, analogous to the services of other branches, and were sometimes even more dangerous, for many men described as ex-service men perhaps were depot men who never left depots during the War. I attach no importance to the Board of Trade statement that they have had no applications. Ono would never expect them to have, and all I ask is that these men should have equal opportunities with other ex-service men in this matter.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes. 169; Noes, 264.577
|Division No. 8.]||AYES.||[6.30 p.m.|
|Adamson, Bt. Hon. William||Charleton, H. C.||Gray, Frank (Oxford)|
|Adamsom, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Clarke, Sir E. C.||Greenall, T.|
|Alexander. A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Asqulth, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Collins, Pat (Walsall)||Groves, T.|
|Attlee, C. R.||Collison, Levi||Grundy, T. W.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cotts, Sir William Dingwall Mitchell||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Barnes, A.||Darbishire, C. W.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Harbord, Arthur|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hardie, George D.|
|Bonwick, A.||Duffy, T. Gavan||Harney, E. A.|
|Broad, f. A.||Duncan, C.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Bromfield, William||Edmonds, G.||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Brotherton, J.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hay, Captain J. P. (Cathcart)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Hayday, Arthur|
|Buchanan, G.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Hemmerde, E. G.|
|Buckle, J.||Evans, Capt. H. Arthur (Leicester, E.)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Burgess, S.||Fairbairn, R. R.||Herriotts, J.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Falconer, J.||Hill, A.|
|Cairns, John||Foot, Isaac||Hillary, A E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Graham, D. m. (Hamilton)||Hinds, John|
|Hirst, G. H.||Nicol, Robert||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||O'Grady, Captain James||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Oliver, George Harold||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Paling, W.||Thorne. G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Parker, H. (Hanley)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Pattinson, R. (Grantham)||Thornton, M.|
|Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Pattinson, S. (Horncastle)||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)||Phillipps, Vivian||Trevelyan, C. P.|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Ponsonby, Arthur||Turner, Ben|
|Kirkwood, D.||Potts, John S.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Lansbury, George||Pringle, W. M. R.||Warne, G. H.|
|Lawson, John James||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Leach, W.||Ritson. J.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lee, F.||Roberts. C. H. (Derby)||Webb, Sidney|
|Linfield, F. C.||Roberts, F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Lowth, T.||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Weir, L. M.|
|Lunn, William||Robinson, W. C. (York, Eliand)||Welsh, J. C.|
|MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)||Royce, William Stapleton||Westwood, J.|
|M'Entee, v. L.||Salter, Dr. A.||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Maclean. Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Scrymgeour, E.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|March, S.||Sexton, James||Whiteley, W.|
|Marshall, Sir Arthur H.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)||Wignall, James|
|Martin, F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, E.)||Shinwell, Emanuel||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Mathew, C. J.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Williams, Or. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Maxton, James||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Middleton, G.||Simpson, J. Hope||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Millar, J. D.||Sitch, Charles H.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Morel, E. D.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wintringham. Margaret|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Wood, Major M, M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Mosley, Oswald||Snell, Harry||Wright, W.|
|Muir, John W.||Snowden, Philip||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Murnin, H.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)||Spoor, B. G.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.…|
|Murray. R. (Renfrew, Western)||Stephen, Campbell||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. Morgan|
|Newbold, J. T. W.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Jones.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. s. D. L. (Exeter)||Sullivan, J.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Furness, G. J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton. East)||Clayton, G. C.||Galbraith. J. F. W.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Apsley, Lord||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gardiner, James|
|Astor, J. J. (Kent. Dover)||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Garland, C. S.|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. sir John Lawrence||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Gates, Percy|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Colvin, Brig. General Richard Beale||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Cope, Major William||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Banks. Mitchell||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||God. Sir R. Park|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H (Devizes)||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon w.||Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Greaves-Lord. Walter|
|Bennett. Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Berry, Sir George||Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Guest, Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Crooke, J. S. (Derltend)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Halstead. Major D.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Harrison, F. C.|
|Blundell. F. N.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Harvey, Major S. E.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Davies Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Brass, Captain W.||Davies J. C (Denbigh Denbigh)||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)|
|Brassey Sir Leonard||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Bridgeman. Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Briggs, Harold||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hewett, Sir J. P.|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Dixon, Capt. H. (Belfast, E.)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough. E.)||Dixon, C. H. (Rutland)||Hiley, Sir Ernest|
|Bruford, R.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hoare, Lieut-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Bruton, Sir James||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Edmondson, Major A. J||Holbraok, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Ednam, Viscount||Hood, Sir Joseph|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Elliot, Capt. Walter E, (Lanark)||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Butcher, Sir John George||England, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Houlton, John Plowright|
|Butler, J. R. M. (Cambridge Univ.)||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Hudson, Capt. A.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gon. Sir Aylmer|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Falcon, Captain Michael||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hurst. Lt.-Col. Gerald Berkeley|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Peebles, N.)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Hutchison. W. (Keivingrove)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Flanagan, W. H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm, W.)||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Jarrett, G. W. S.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Forestier-Walker, L.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul|
|Kennedy. Captain M. S. Nigel||Parker, Owen (Kettering)||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|King, Capt. Henry Douglas||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Lamb, J. Q.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Somervllie, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Penny, Frederick George||Sparkes, H. W.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Stanley, Lord|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Perring, William George||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Lorden, John William||Phillpson, H. H.||Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth|
|Longher, L.||Pielou, D. P.||Stott, Lt.-Col, W. H.|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Lumley, L. R.||Raine, W.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Lynn, R. J.||Rawilnson, John Frederick Peel||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|M'Connell, Thomas E.||Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid H.|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Sutcliffe, T.|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Remnant, Sir James||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Reynolds, W. G. W.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Manville, Edward||Rhodes, Lieut.-Col. J. P.||Thomson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Margesson, H. D. R.||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chrtsy)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Mercer, Colonel H.||Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)||Tubbs, S. W.|
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Rogerson, Capt. J. E.||Vaughan-Morgan. Col. K. P.|
|Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Moles, Thomas||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Molloy, Major L. G. S.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Molson, Major John Eisdale||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wheatley, J.|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Russell, William (Bolton)||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Russell-Wells, Sir Sidney||White. Lt.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Nail, Major Joseph||Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||Winterton, Earl|
|Nesbitt, J. C.||Sandon, Lord||Wise, Frederick|
|Nowman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Scott. Sir Leslie (Liverp't, Exchange)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Shepperson, E. W.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Norton-Griffiths, Lieut-Col. Sir John||Simms. Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Simpson-Hinchcliffe, W. A.||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Singlair. Sir A.|
|Paget, T. G.||Singleton, J. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Colonel Gibbs and Major Barnston.|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (7), to insert the wordsProvided that if within six calendar months from the date of the passing of this Act the Parliament of Northern Ireland shall have passed and the Parliament of the Irish Free State shall not have passed such legislation, the said Trust shall be established but shall consist of three Members only, of whom two shall be appointed by a Secretary of State and one by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and its powers and operations shall be limited to Northern Ireland.I think there is a certain amount of misconception with reference to the money in this trust. This is not a new trust set up for the ex-soldiers in Ireland, but it is the remains of an old trust set up in 1919, which was given to Ireland largely through the efforts of the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland and who did everything in his power to help Ireland in a material sense during the time he was in office. We have no abjection whatever to the trust being set up in reference to this money, but what we do object to is this, that the trust cannot come into 578 operation until an agreement has been arrived at as between the Parliament of the Southern Government and the Parliament of the Northern Government. We hold that this is a great hardship to the ex-soldiers in Ireland, and we say that this free gift which has been made to the ex-soldiers for their services to the Empire should at once be put into execution, and that if either the North or the South of Ireland fail to carry out their contract two trusts should be set up. We do not ask that we should have all the money. We are willing to leave that to the financial advisers of the Government, bearing in mind the fact that Ulster sent 76,000 men to the War and that the rest of Ireland sent, I think, 73,000, and also bearing in mind the fact that owing to the Local Government Board being in Dublin and having worked conscientiously against Ulster for the last six or seven years, I think some 1,500 houses have been built in the South and only-half that number in the North. I am sure that every ex-service Member in the House agrees with mc that we should do all we can to see that these men get their houses and their plots at once.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsly-Gore)
I have been very carefully into this question, and I am very much afraid I cannot accept the Amendment. First of all, this Clause comes into this Bill as an agreed Clause, definitely agreed by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and the President of the Provisional Government of the Free State, and when such an agreement has been reached on both sides, I think it would be unfortunate that we should put words into the Bill which might suggest that honourable obligations undertaken in that way are not going to be fulfilled. I am quite sure the proper way to deal with the breakdown is when the breakdown has occurred, and not to imagine that the ex-service men in the Free State after the passing of the Constitution Bill are not going to get the benefits of this Clause. I have every hope and every reason for thinking that they will get the benefits of this Clause. The Local Government Board, which is doing the work in Southern Ireland, ceases to exist on 6th December, but that machinery will not cease to exist as far as Northern Ireland is concerned, and consequently I am informed that there is no reason why, if the trust be not immediately operative, the old machinery should not go on in the North of Ireland if and when Northern Ireland exercises her option to contract out. If we were to split the trust, it would destroy the whole machinery contemplated by this Clause.
This, as I say, is an agreed Clause, and I have every reason to think that, as all the money comes from this country, to discharge an obligation to ex-service men, neither the North nor the South will reject that money. There is one thing which, I think, is clear, and that is that if an Imperial contribution is forthcoming, both sections in Ireland are only too ready to take it, and in this case one rejoices that that is so. After all, it will diminish the housing shortage which is apparent, and I am sure the Free State will welcome the provisions of this Clause. We have no reason to suppose the contrary. Do not let us invite criticism by suggesting it. Whatever happens, we will continue to have this obligation, which was incurred in the 1019 Act, to the soldiers and sailors. We in this Parliament have undertaken that obligation, and, whatever happens, it is up to us to see that it is properly discharged. If 580 it be not properly discharged either by the Board or by this House, it will be for Parliament to reconsider the matter. The money is to be voted by this House, and the machinery is to remain under the control of this House. I want to remove from my hon. Friend's mind the idea that either the Northern Government or the Government of the Free State is going to handle this money. We are definitely retaining control of the Trust by having a majority of the members on the Trust, and the, money is not going to be handed over to either Government, but is going to be administered by the Trust for the benefit of these ex-service men. The Amendment is most unfortunately worded, and would have a most unfortunate effect. An incidental effect, probably not intended, would be that the whole of the activities of the Trust would be limited to the North of Ireland, and, after all, even if it he true, as my hon. Friend said, that in Southern Ireland the Local Government Board has been more active than in Northern Ireland, I think, in view of the position of many ex-service men in Southern Ireland during the last few years, they would probably be well advised in concentrating on securing adequate provision for obtaining houses and plots whereby to maintain their families. Therefore, I urge my hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment, for the reasons I have given.
§ Captain CRAIG
There is one statement, which the hon. Member has made in the course of the speech to which we have just listened, on which I must join issue with him, and that is that this is in any sense an agreed Clause. I can only say that I have been in very close touch with the Prime Minister of the Ulster Parliament during the four or five days which preceded the introduction of these Bills into the House of Commons, and I think I am in possession of all the facts in reference to these matters. This was never agreed, so far as I am aware.
§ Captain CRAIG
The hon. Member is quite wrong; it is not an agreed Clause. By an agreed Clause, I presume the hon. Member means an agreement arrived at between the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and Mr. Cosgrave. I am perfectly certain—in fact I know as a fact— that no such agreement was ever reached. 581 and I doubt very much whether this question of ex-soldiers was ever raised at the last meeting. I, of course, exonerate my hon. Friend from any intention of misleading the Committee, but I wish to make clear that that is not the fact. I am sorry he does not see his way to divide up this Trust. We are quite sensible of the good that may flow from the Clause as it is, and we are glad to have the Clause, but we think it might be improved by treating this in two parts. As to his objection that the machinery may be broken up by dividing the Trust into two parts, I really do not think that is the case. In the South of Ireland, it will, presumably, be the Board of Works, or whatever Department looks after the building of these houses, and in the North there will be a similar Department. I see no difficulty, and I am quite sure that had the draftsmen of the Bill thought dividing this fund into two parts, there would have been no difficulty in doing so, and I have not the faintest doubt that had they done so, it would have been productive of more good than the present system.
There is one more, point. The hon. Member made a conjecture that in providing almost twice as many houses for ex-service men in the South as for ex-service men in the North, in spite of the fact that the North provided almost exactly the same number of men for the War as the South, that that was because of some philanthropic idea of those to whom the administration of this matter was entrusted in the South of Ireland, and that they thought ex-soldiers in the South, in the circumstances, deserved bettor treatment than those in the North. I can only repudiate that idea altogether. We, who come from Ireland know perfectly well that in cases of this kind, where the South has been treated more liberally than the North, it is due entirely to the fact that the officials in Dublin have always preferred the South to the North. The hon. Member is new to his office, but I hope in the course of hit: continuance of that office, which I trust will be prolonged, he will not offer to this House the explanation, where something flagrantly favourable to the South is done by some official in Ireland, that it was done because the South, for some, reason or other, deserved better treatment than the North, when 582 the fact is that the officials in the South are prejudiced against the North, and they show it in some practical form on every occasion it is possible to do so.
I do not know whether it is possible to pursue this arithmetical calculation as to whether the North or the South sent more men to the War. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Because it takes no account of the thousands of Irishmen, exiles from overseas, who came forward with the Dominion troops and did noble service in the War. [HON. MEMBERS: "And Ulstermen as well!"] I do not accept the figures, and fail to see that any profit can be gained by discussing them. The second point is this. There is no doubt at all that if a solution is ever to come for Ireland it will be on the basis of a United Ireland, and whenever anything in the direction of union is mooted the opposition comes from the Ulster Benches. I think when those Members come to this House for money—
The money was voted by this House under the Act of 1919, and the least they can do, if they come here for money, is to accept some little step— it is not much—towards union which is drafted by the Government; but, instead of that they come forward with the original proposal that if the Trust does not do something within six months, the operation of the Trust shall be limited to Northern Ireland. In the event of something happening which is not likely to happen, they make a proposal that the whole of the money should be devoted to Northern Ireland.
I was proceeding to say that for hon. Members from Ulster to propose that this House should set up a Trust, the operations of which, and the funds of which, should be limited to Northern Ireland, is only what I can describe, within the limits of Parliamentary language, as a shameless proposal.
I clearly stated in moving this Amendment that we did not 583 wish for the money, and that we were prepared to leave it to the financial advisers of His Majesty's Government. Therefore, there is no point in what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said. Throughout the whole of this Irish controversy 'he has been the one voice that has stirred up strife on every occasion between the North and the South, and even when the right hon. Gentleman who sits beside him was trying to help us a little in Ireland, he had to go into the country denouncing us in every place. Now he gets up and purposely misrepresents me in this House, and makes a statement which is absolutely untrue. As I have said, I desire fair treatment throughout Ireland for ex-service men—I do not care what part they come from.
§ Mr. MOLES
I do think it is a great calamity that the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, who always poses in this House as being on the side of Irish unity, should try to achieve that object by attacking those who sit on these benches. Over and over again from those, benches opposite there have been provocative speeches, which, I tell him deliberately, have been attended with consequences to human life in Ireland. He deprecates any reference to arithmetical calculations. Of course, he objects to them: they do not suit him. We could not accept the views of his party of what is likely to achieve Irish unity. The whole history of the party with which he is associated has been one calamitous series of blunders leading up to the present situation. I do not wish to pursue the matter. I do not envy the hon. and gallant Gentleman the unworthy distinction he has achieved in that direction. While he describes certain action of ours as shameless, the statements he makes are so hopelessly at variance with the facts, that, were it Parliamentary, I would describe his statements as shameless and impudent impostures.
I want to pass away from that and come to something of really much more moment. Whatever antagonisms party passion may have provoked in the past in this Irish controversy, let us, at any rate when we are discussing the case of ex-service men, put them on one side and not victimise the men. What really is the position in this matter? The Under- 584 Secretary for the Colonies tells us that this was an agreed matter between the representatives of the two Governments.
§ Mr. MOLES
I agree entirely with my hon. Friend, and in saying that I do not wish to imply any reflection on my hon. Friends from Ulster. Supposing, however, it were an agreed matter, the Under-Secretary would not challenge this view that none of the three parties at all considered the probability of the breakdown of the whole scheme. That never was before them, and it is an entirely new fact. It is because we know that position to be imminent, and indeed almost inevitable, that we wish to make some provision for it. The position in which the Free State Government finds itself at this moment is really a desperate one. With the best desire in the world, it will have an infinitely more urgent and terrible problem to deal with. I ask all sides of the Committee if it is fair that, if this problem cannot be dealt with in the South, thousands of ex-service men who need houses in the North should be compelled to wait until the conditions in the South are so cleared up that the problem can be treated as a united one?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I have already said that I am assured that will not be the case. If this trust, which is our purpose, fails, well, it fails: but even if it does fail the machinery can continue to work in Northern Ireland if the North of Ireland opts out of the Free State.
§ Mr. MOLES
Lei me show what the present difficulties are. The machinery you have hitherto employed for dealing with this problem is that of the Local Government Board. That machinery you will scrap on the 6th December, at the week-end. Therefore, the only machinery upon which you could have fallen back will have been destroyed by your own action. The other machinery which you propose to set up will not have become operative. These are the facts. Those of us who come from Ireland have every day contact with the practical working of these problems. It is not reasonable, indeed it is unjustifiable from every point of view, that the Government in the North of Ireland, which is not only willing, but able to deal with the problem in its own area, should have 585 its activities paralysed, and that the ex-service men there should be denied redress for a considerable number of years.
That is not the whole of the matter. What really is behind the Under-Secretary's statement is this. You can set up two Governments, one for the North of Ireland and one for the South of Ireland. You can entrust them with authority over matters of life and death. You can give them complete control over law and order; you can give them the power of legislation; yet we are seriously asked to believe that you cannot give them the control of the erection of houses for ex-service men. I dc not think anybody, from any quarter of the Committee, will attempt to justify that position. If the Government wish this problem to be dealt with, and dealt with early, we offer them a way by which it can be done. I admit, quite frankly, that it cannot be dealt with throughout the whole of Ireland at once. Why cannot you permit it to be carried out in one part where, for the time being, it can be done?
§ Mr. MOLES
Really, although the hon. Gentleman has been a long time in this House, I think some of his friends might take him outside and give him a lesson in deportment. I come back to the practical point involved. Is it or is it not desirable that, if you cannot deal with this problem for the whole of Ireland, you should do so for so much of Ireland where it can be dealt with at the moment? It is not fair on these ex-service men in the North to deny them the redress which can be given to them almost immediately because you cannot get the scheme set up throughout the whole of Ireland at once. It is perfectly easy to make whatever financial discrimination may be thought reasonable and practicable between the two schemes; there will be no acrimony, so far as we are concerned, 586 upon that point. We think, however, as soon as is practicable, in view of the fact that we can deal with this question in the North of Ireland, that it ought to be dealt with there. You should leave it to the Free State Government to deal with the residue of the problem at such time as they can. I hope the Under-Secretary will reconsider his attitude and try to meet us, as we have met him, in regard to the ex-service men.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I will not deal with any of the fulminations of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, either in regard to myself or to the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Bonn). I wish simply to deal with the question whether this Amendment is necessary. When I interrupted the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Moles) with the suggestion that he had misunderstood the Clause, I did it because I had read the Clause. The assumption underlying the hon. Member's speech is that this Trust will come into operation on the 6th December. That is not so. If he reads Sub-section 7–
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Then the statement the hon. Gentleman made in the course of his speech that this Clause was to come into operation—
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The statement, he made in his speech was that the existing machinery would come to an end on the 6th December. It does nothing of the kind. The existing machinery continues until something takes its place, and Subsection (7) says:This Section shall not come into operation until the Treasury certify that such legislation has been passed by the Parliament of the Irish Free State and the Parliament of Northern Ireland us is necessary to enable the Trust to acquire and to hold land, to vest in the Trust any land and other property which is under this Section to be transferred to the Trust, and otherwise to enable the Trust to carry out the purposes of this Section.Therefore, this Clause does not come into operation upon the date the hon. Member suggests at all. Until it does come into 587 operation the existing machinery must operate so far as Northern Ireland is concerned. As that is the Local Government Board, or whatever Department has been instituted in Northern Ireland to take over the functions of the Local Government Board, I submit that, so far as Northern Ireland is concerned, the rights of the ex-service men are safeguarded pending the institution of the Trust. In these circumstances I suggest that the Amendment is unnecessary.
§ Mr. O'NEILL
May I ask the Under-Secretary a question? If, as I think perhaps he can, he is able to give a satisfactory answer, it will largely dissipate the fears we feel. He said just now that the existing administration would continue, and the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Pringle) has just said so. The hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Moles) stated that that would be impossible, because the Local Government Board for Ireland would come to an end on the 6th December. I think that is perfectly true. The Local Government Board in Ireland was the body which administered these soldiers' houses. Can the Under-Secretary for the Colonies give me this assurance that even though the Local Government Board may disappear, there will be some body, possibly the Ministry of Home Affairs in Northern Ireland, which will act on behalf of the Imperial Government? Can he assure us that it will be possible for this scheme to be continued in Northern Ireland, even though the Trust may not come into operation? If he can get me that assurance, then I am authorised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment to say that he will ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I think I am in a position to give that assurance. Of course, the machinery comes to an end on the 6th December in Southern Ireland. There is power under the 1919 Act to make other arrangements to carry on, pro tem., I do not say indefinitely; and if this Trust does not come into operation within a reasonable space of time, we shall have to introduce further legislation for dealing with this matter. I have made that quite clear, and I am advised that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim (Mr. O'Neill) suggested, either through the Ministry of Home Affairs or 588 by other machinery under the Act of 1919, this work will be carried on in Ireland. I hope that will be satisfactory.
§ Mr. M'CONNELL
I am sure the Committee will forgive me for rising, though I do not like to do so after the Under-Secretary for the Colonies has given us such a promise. I cannot allow the statement that has fallen from his lips to the effect that the Government in the South have built houses for ex-service men, while apparently nothing has been done in the North, to pass unchallenged. We have done something in the North. In Belfast we have built between 800 and 900 houses, and not one of those houses is occupied by other than ex-service men. We have also built, something which does not exist anywhere else in the whole, of these islands—a colony for absolutely disabled men. In that colony the men are living free of rent and taxes for the term of their natural life. The Committee will agree with me we have at least done something. We have been spending our own money, and not looking entirely to the British Government for that money. The South of Ireland has been entirely dependent upon the taxpayers of Great Britain for money to build houses. We have not. We have spent over £1,000,000 in Belfast, and we are at present spending over £1,000,000 for the purpose of relieving unemployment. There is no greater need in this country than the provision of houses for these people. By that means unemployment will be grappled with. I hope something will be done with regard to this very important matter, and that at a very early date we shall sec more and more houses erected in the three kingdoms.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
My hon. Friend who has just spoken has rather done me an injustice in giving to something I said a meaning which certainly I had no intention of conveying. What I said was not. that Ulster had done nothing—I never made any reference to that: I said that when my hon. Friend the Member for East Belfast (Captain Dixon) introduced this Amendment, he said that the Local Government Board in Ireland had done more under this scheme in the past for ex-service men in the South than—according to his own showing, I have not had time to go into the figures—they had in the Northern area. Possibly that was due to 589 the disturbed political conditions in the youth making it more urgent that special attention should be given to the cases of individual ex-service men in the South. I deplore any attempts to draw any comparison between the North and South with regard to this, or to bring into the matter such points as have been imported; and I regret that this Debate has given rise to any recriminations. On matters of this kind beyond all others it is desirable, in dealing with the ex-service men in Ireland, that we should keep the atmosphere cool.
I readily accept the assurance that has been given by the hon. Gentleman that no matter whether we go from, his Department or not, or no matter whether the Local Government Board is scrapped or not, that the building of houses for ex-service men in Ireland will go on. That was the statement which he made. I readily accept it. I am glad to know that nothing will hold up the building of houses for ex-service men, and nothing will stop the employment of men in building of houses at the present moment. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I do not see anything in the Clause that lays it down that the ex-service men concerned under this Clause must be Irish. I presume the Government of Ireland will see to that themselves. But I could not help thinking, on reading the Clause, that those ex-service men should think themselves lucky that they are Irish. Had they been Scotsmen coming to the same Government and asking for cottage houses, the same Government, which seems to keep one mind for the Irish problem and another mind for the problems of this country, would have told them that the country had been hard hit and that the Government could not afford a million and a half to provide cottages for the people of this country. I have no doubt whatever that in the very near future representatives of the Government sitting on the Front Bench opposite may use the granting of this million and a half to Ireland as an additional reason why they should not embark on the erection of cottage homes for the ex-service men of England and 590 Scotland. It all gets back to this: that the ex-service men in the industrial districts of this country made themselves too cheap. Had they been more exacting in their demands—had they followed the example of the Irish people and placed a higher value on their lives, they would have been treated with more respect today, and not receive merely lip-service. What are we doing for the ex-service men of these two countries? As a matter of fact the house that is being provided in Glasgow is the poor house for ex-service men while you are proposing cottage homes for Ireland. You are providing cottage homes for the people of Ireland who know how to make themselves uncomfortable to any British Government. I again protest against the attitude of the Government, and say again that the lesson to be derived from it is that if you want to get anything from a British Government you must kick it hard.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I have been looking at the Act—I refer to the corresponding Act for Scotland—and the figure there inserted is £2,750,000. The amount spent altogether was approximately £17,000,000.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am not ready with an answer to that at the present moment, but what I refer to was passed as a land settlement scheme, an Act for Scotland as well as an Act for Ireland. Really the speech of the hon. Member shows an absolute disregard of the facts of the case. He has forgotten the provision that has been made by the respective English and Scottish Acts.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
I have not forgotten this: that in Glasgow, one Division of which I represent, there are tens of thousands of ex-service men who cannot get a cottage under the Act he has quoted.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
We have tens of thousands of men in Lanarkshire who are in need of houses, and this Government, as far as we know, instead of helping has been putting difficulties in the way.
§ Captain ELLIOT
I deprecate these attempts to make party capital for the purposes of the Labour party. It is all very well for the hon. Member to say 591 that the way to get anything from the British Government is to make yourself as unpleasant as you can, and to kick it.
§ Captain ELLIOT
Yes, that is applauded by hon. Members on the other side; but consider what the lot of the ex-service men in Ireland has been. The ex-service men there have been assaulted, abused, and assassinated. If there is one man above another who has suffered in silence in Ireland, it is the ex-service men. Yet the hon. Member (Mr. Wheatley) comes here and in this miserable fashion endeavours to make the treatment of the Irish men an occasion on which to attack the Government. He forgets to add that there are schemes under which we in Scot-land and also the people in England have received benefit. To make party capital out of such an occasion is entirely unjustifiable; but to say that the way for the ex-service men to get benefits is to make themselves obnoxious to the Government is a statement that within the knowledge of every Member is absolutely at variance with the facts.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I should like to make some reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I happen to be an Irishman. Though I have been sometime out of Ireland, yet I have a fair knowledge of what is going on. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Elliot) has charged hon. Members on this side of the House with a desire to make party capital out of the conditions of ex-service men in Belfast, and in the North of Ireland generally, and, may I say, in England too. After all, we on this side of the House are exceedingly pleased that the representatives of Northern Ireland have been able to secure such exceedingly good conditions for the ex-service men, and we should have liked to see such conditions given, where required, to any other body of men or women. We were simply drawing the attention of the House to the fact that, judging by the speeches made by hon. Members opposite, there appears to be in Northern Ireland such a condition of affairs that the ex-service men in a very short time will not be in need of houses. What is there to complain about if we here in England find out that the conditions are not so good as they apparently are in the North of 592 Ireland? In the constituency which I represent we have at the present time 780 applications. The whole or nearly the whole of them are from ex-service men who cannot get a cottage, or a house of any kind, or even in some cases a room to live in. We feel that condition very much indeed. I have had some recent personal experience in dealing with the Department of the Government concerned. We have land. We were compelled to buy it by the late Government and at an exorbitant price, too! We were compelled to borrow the money. We were compelled, further, to make certain grants approved by the late Government.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
On a point of Order. May I ask whether it is in order to go into a long history of what has occurred in certain localities in England on the housing section of the Irish Bill.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I have thought for some time that the hon. Gentleman was rather wide of the mark. The question of housing in England and Scotland can only be used to illustrate an argument, but I hope hon. Members will not continue to discuss it.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I congratulate the Members of Northern Ireland on the fight that they have put up for their ex-service men, but I cannot congratulate hon. Members from Northern Ireland on their continued interjections when someone on this side of the House is trying to put up an equally good fight for the ex-service man here. After all, we are as justified as themselves in our endeavours to induce the Government to give consideration to the men over here, and to treat them at least equally with the men in Northern Ireland. Personally I am exceedingly glad, indeed, to know the good conditions in Northern Ireland, yet, in spite of all that has been said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, I am afraid, from what I know of the place, that after you have spent all your million and a half there will be still opportunity for building more houses—and plenty of need for them in Northern Ireland! I happen to have had some experience over there. I am of opinion—rightly, I think—that the condition of the working classes in respect of housing, more especially in Belfast, is very far from that rosy picture presented to us to-night. We protest against the con- 593 ditions that are imposed upon our ex-service men here, and we hope the Government will pay more attention and give them some opportunity of getting houses. The conditions are such in this country that, although we have been compelled to buy land and to borrow money for our schemes, a large portion of our schemes have been held up. When I heard the representative of the Government make his statement on this point, I could not help thinking that there was a plan being carried out in Ireland which we would like to see carried out in this country.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Hon. Members opposite seem to have taken offence at the statement that the best way to get anything out of the Government is to kick them. May I point out that the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Elliot) seems to think that there is another way of proceeding, which is that you may obtain concessions from the Government by acting as their apologist on particular occasions. In this way I hope the hon. and gallant Member's reward will come in due course, and if he displays as much zeal in regard to housing and housing conditions in that small portion of the County of Lanark, which he represents, as he does in regard to housing conditions in Northern Ireland, I think his constituents will look upon him with more favour than a very large number of them do at the present time.
On these benches we do not protest against the persistency of the representatives of Northern Ireland in this connection, but we rather admire it. I suggest that in subsequent Debates we may follow their admirable lead in regard to other parts of the country, and then I hope they will not complain. It has been said that on these benches we are trying to make party capital out of ex-service men, but I entirely repudiate that statement. We are anxious that ex-service men throughout Great Britain should obtain all that can be provided for them in the way of housing. Further than that, we ask that the Government should provide what they promised years ago with regard to housing conditions.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is not in order to discusss the application of the Housing Acts to other parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
I am afraid that I have been led away by the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Lanark (Captain Elliot) whom we expected to set a good example. I merely content myself by saying that we on this side of the House are not making any complaint about the attitude of hon. Members representing Northern Ireland, and all we ask is that the same persistency displayed in this matter in regard to Northern Ireland may be directed to ex-service men in other parts of Great Britain.
§ Sir W. ALLEN
I rise in order to deny the statement that we are trying to get for Northern Ireland something in the way of preference over other parts of the United Kingdom, because nothing is further from the truth. What we are fighting for is that the Bill of 1919 dealing with this question should not cease its operation because of the passage of this Measure. That Bill has been passed, and there is about to be a dislocation of Departments, and when that takes place we are urging that the procedure formerly adopted may continue. This particular Section is to secure that there shall be no dislocation. It is true that when we got that money before for this purpose we only got it because England and Scotland got its proportion as well. It was only because Bills were being passed for England and Scotland that we got anything at all.
I want hon. Members to disabuse their minds of the false impression that Northern Ireland's representatives are trying to get something preferentially, because they are doing nothing of the kind. We are only trying to secure that these Acts with which we are now dealing shall not dislocate things that have been proceeding smoothly in Ireland. The action of the Local Government Board ceases on the 6th of December, and all we ask is that there shall be a continuity of these housing operations, that there will be expedition and no delay in the carrying out of that which has already been granted and sanctioned. We are very glad to be informed that no delay will be necessary in providing further housing for the ex-soldiers in Northern Ireland. Hon. Members must see that, owing to the difficulties with which the Government of Southern Ireland are confronted at the present time, and which 595 may continue for some time to come, it will be impossible for them to get through all the legislation that is necessary, and consequently we think that Subsection (7) of this particular Clause may militate against expedition in providing ex-soldiers housing accommodation in Northern Ireland. We want more expedition and less delay in order to get houses for the ex-soldiers.