HC Deb 29 November 1922 vol 159 cc741-74

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I hope that I may be allowed to say a word or two on the Third Reading of this historic Bill before it leaves this Chamber. It may not be inappropriate that I should intervene, because it is now nearly three years ago since it was my duty, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, to produce the original Bill. Much has happened during those three years. We see Northern Ireland to-day sturdy, centralised, indubitably loyal, confining herself to the business of Government as her citizens did in the old days, without any assistance from nature, desirous of making Belfast one of the great industrial centres of the Empire. I think I am speaking on behalf of the friends with whom I am now associated when I say that so long as Ulster cares to pursue her destiny in her own way, within the British Empire, she will have undivided support from those of us who work together on this side. We wish the South and West well.

4.0 P.M.

It is a significant fact that the Measure which is now leaving this Chamber for the last time should be passed by a united House of Commons. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on going down to history as the final author of one of the greatest Parliamentary achievements of this century. It is also significant that we, as a House of Commons, are passing without any acrimony and without any hostile criticism from any part of the House a Bill drafted by Ireland's own sons to give the South and West of Ireland what they regard as their legitimate rights. I am speaking to-day in the absence of a great many colleagues of mine who, in the last Parliament, bore the heat and burden of the day. I think I may most appropriately refer to my right hon. Friend Mr. Churchill, who, in the judgment of all those who were present in the last Parliament, carried through this Bill to this stage because of his own great courage, his great Parliamentary skill and his love of Ireland. I can only say this, that we on this side of the House hope that the path of Ireland in the South and West may be the path of peace.

Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

As a new Member, I crave the indulgence of the House. I want to speak on a matter which concerns many thousands of my compatriots who are brought under the new Irish Free State Government. I would not have ventured to have taken up the time of the House so early in the Session had it not been for the fact that this is a subject that interests us most vitally. It may also be the last opportunity that we shall have in this House of discussing these matters which are so essential to our future life under the Irish Free State Government. The late Government were responsible for this Treaty. They were anxious to settle the whole Irish question. For the past 50 years and more Ireland has been the shuttlecock of parties. We wish this House to treat its policy with Ireland as a national policy, in the same way as we ought to treat our foreign policy. The changes have brought to this House the loss of its Irish Members. Possibly those from Scotland may take their place in some discussions such as there used to be in olden times. The late Government made this Treaty, and the present Government, I hope, are fully satisfied that the Constitution in every respect comes within the terms of that Treaty. The late Government gave their blessing to it, but what they gave with one hand they took away with the other. Here was a country seething at the time with insurrection, and what was the first action of the late Government? They withdrew the Army and the police, and they left all those who were living there with no protection whatever. I blame the last Government for the withdrawal of those troops. It is an ordinary custom, whether in business or in the Army, that when you have to hand over a post to hand it over in proper fashion to someone who can look after the responsibilities of that post. In this case, they did not hand it over to anyone. The natural result was what anyone who lived there could have foretold. Everyone was armed, and the forces of lawlessness, disorder, and anarchy at once came to the surface. There were no restraints of law: no punishments were inflicted, and the natural result was the same as would happen in this great city were all the police and soldiers suddenly to be withdrawn.

I am glad to see that the Government realise their moral responsibility for all the damage that has accrued since that date. The damage amounts to between £20,000,000 and £30,000,000. The Irish Free State Government have said—and I believe that they intend to keep their word—that they will pay the amount that is due to those who have been driven out of the country and who have lost everything, but I wish that there was the backing of this country behind those promises. Ireland is a country of surprises, and we do not know how long the Government in Ireland may last and what may happen. Are we, who have been driven out of the country, to suffer from the inability of the Irish Government to pay what they owe? I would like some definite statement from the Government as to what they intend to do in such a case, which we hope may not happen. I am glad to see that the Government have realised their duty to the ex-soldiers in Ireland. I do not think it is realised what a difference there is between the ex-soldiers in Ireland and the ex-soldiers in this country. In this country, their friends and relations urged them to join, and, if they did not join, then after a certain time they were compelled to join. In Ireland, the compulsion was on the other side. They joined up against the wishes of their friends and relations and against the orders of their parents, and when they returned to that country after the War they were not welcomed with open arms as they were in this country. I can tell the House of the very sad case of a young boy who went out to France and who came back gassed and with only a few months to live. His own friends would have nothing whatever to say to him. They turned him away and spurned him, and said, "It is your own fault; you went to fight for the English." That is only one of many such cases. The question of the boundaries of the Northern Government and the Southern Government is bound to crop up as the result of the Treaty. The late Government were responsible for making promises which were inconsistent one with another. They made a promise to the Northern Government and they made a promise to the Southern Government, and the two did not tally. I believe that the two Irish Governments, if left to themselves, will be able, with goodwill between the two parties, to reach an amicable and friendly settlement. The Treaty, after all, is only a makeshift. It excludes from a State, which surely needs ballast at the present time, and which is fighting for its life, all the stable and settled elements of the North-East, but it has handed over to the Irish people the responsibility for their own actions.

The final end of every Irishman is to have a united Ireland. It cannot come by pressure or by force from outside. It cannot come by force or by compulsion from inside. It will not come immediately. Memories of murders and outrages are still too fresh. It will take many years before the two parties can forget. Time alone can soften. Perhaps it may not even come in our lifetime. But come one day it will. It is bound to come, but it can only come by a policy of good will between the Northern and Southern Governments, and by a full appreciation of the difficulties that each has to undergo. If the North will show good will towards the South, and the South can show that they can govern firmly and justly without partiality, favour, or affection, then, I believe, the time for the unity of Ireland is not so far off. An island divided against itself can never prosper, and Ireland is not such a very big island after all, though its influence extends to nearly every country in the world.

We have now gone so far along the road that we cannot withdraw, and the only thing that this Government can do is to assist the new Free State Government by every method possible and to try and make a firm Government that can rule and that can bring law and order into the country. If one picks up the sheets of any Irish newspaper to-day, the "Irish Independent," "Freeman's Journal," and the "Irish Times," one sees column upon column of outrages—bridges blown up, trains derailed, and every sort of outrage going on. It is a Government faced with unparalleled difficulties which people in this country can hardly realise. The English Press ignores the difficulties, and by their sins of omission they have brought about a state of feeling in which people do not understand what is happening in Ireland. I wish the right hon. Gentleman the late Member for Dundee, Mr. Churchill, instead of saying that all was quiet in Ireland, had paid a visit to that country and had seen for himself what was going on. Dublin is only nine hours from London, not so far as Dundee, and had he gone and seen things for himself, he would have changed his opinion as expressed in his report of what was occurring in that country. I would ask this Government to do all that it can to ensure that the New Free State Government is set up firmly on its legs and to give it all the sympathy it can in the great difficulties that surround it at the present time. Everyone in Ireland is praying for peace and for law and order. In every church, whether it be Catholic or Protestant, the same prayer goes up every day— Lord, give us peace in our midst"— and peace can only come about when a firm Government is established in that country. It is not by criticisms from people in this country when it tries to act firm y in order to put down rebellion that it will come. The only way and the only hope of getting peace is to ensure a firm and a stable Government, and only a firm and stable Government will bring peace and law and order to that unhappy and distracted island.


I hope the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken will allow me to congratulate him on the well-informed and straightforward speech to which we have just listened. The hon. Gentleman is not only a gallant soldier, but the House will be interested to know that he was the leader of the first expedition which endeavoured to climb Mount Everest, and which achieved such a large measure of success. If anyone be entitled to comment upon the present position in Ireland and to offer up a hope and prayer for tie amelioration of conditions in that country, it is an hon. Member who, like himself, knows the country and who has his home there.

I am not on this occasion going to repeat the criticisms which I made on the Second Reading of this Bill. I do not blame the present Government, but when we find Clauses in the Treaty which inflict intolerable wrong upon British subjects outside Ireland, I think it is a great misfortune. May I remind hon. Members that under this Measure, whenever a British subject domiciled in England, Scotland or other parts of the Empire goes over to Ireland, he is deprived of all civil rights in that country, unless he is prepared to give up his home and take up a new home in Southern Ireland? He pays taxes, it is true, and he may reside in Ireland as long as he likes without becoming domiciled, yet he has no right to vote at any election for Parliament. We used to hear a good deal about the principle that there should be no taxation without representation. That is an admirable principle, and I would suggest to the present Government that they should insist upon a system in Ireland under which they do not tax British subjects without giving them the right to representation, because that is treading along a very dangerous path.

There are three points with reference to the position of civil servants and public servants under Article 10 on which I should like some assurance. I am sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here, because I would have liked to have his personal assurance on these points. The first point is that under Article 10 of the Treaty, civil servants and public servants who retire, or are discharged by the Free State Government, are entitled to certain compensation and pensions. When this point was first raised—I think it was in December last, in a question to the then Leader of the House as to who would pay this compensation—I was told definitely and plainly that the Free State Government would be responsible in the first instance for the payment of this compensation, but behind them would be the British Government, and if the Free State Government did not pay then the British Government would pay. If the Attorney-General desires to have the reference he will find it in the OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 149, col. 413, on the 19th of December last year. But the matter did not rest there, because many questions were put on this subject during the Session of 1922. This question of the guaranteeing of pensions and allowances to public servants under Article 10 was repeatedly raised, and Mr. Churchill, the then Colonial Secretary, on at least two occasions, if not more, and in particular on 13th March, 1922, repeated this assurance.

Surely such guarantees ought to be embodied in a Statute. A person ought to be able to assert his rights, not by hunting up the volumes of the OFFICIAL EEPORT and quoting a particular speech of some Secretary of State, but he ought to be able to turn to the Statute and say, "The Government have put these guarantees in the form of a Statute which binds not only this Government but all future Governments." I do appeal to the Attorney-General that the Government should at the earliest possible moment embody that verbal guarantee in an Act of Parliament in the form of a statutory guarantee. I know that I should have raised this matter on the earlier stages of the Bill, but we have had very little time to consider this Measure. I think the Government will realise that when a promise such as that is made they ought to take the earliest possible opportunity of making that guarantee good.


I am a new Member, and I do not quite understand the right method of procedure. But on a point of Order, I wish to ask whether the hon. and learned Baronet is in order in repeating arguments which he has used before. I know, Mr. Speaker, that this is a matter in your discretion, but I think that when an hon. Member gets up to speak a second time, he ought to produce new matter and new arguments, and if he does not do so, I think he is out of order.


I think the hon. and learned Baronet is quite within his rights, because his previous speech was made upon a different stage of this Measure. We are now dealing with the Third Reading of this Bill.


My second point is as to how this compensation is to be paid. The question was raised last Session as to whether this money should be paid in British currency or in Irish currency. This is a very important question, because it is quite possible to conceive that the Irish Government might establish a currency of their own which might be depreciated, and it would be a very serious matter for persons entitled to this compensation, if it were paid in a depreciated currency. As a matter of right, I think there can be no doubt on this point, because the Treaty says that these civil servants will get compensation under no less favourable terms than they would have got under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. In that Act they would have got their compensation in British currency, because there was no idea then of setting up a Government in Ireland which might issue a new currency. I believe that a promise was given last Session by Members of the Government that these public servants would be paid in British currency, but whether that promise was given or not, I ask that it should be given now and that these men should not be placed in a worse position than they would have been under the Act of 1920.

Then there is the question of the commutation of these pensions. Civil servants in England have, under Acts ranging from 1871 to 1882, certain rights and privileges in regard to getting their pensions commuted. I think the matter is left to the discretion of the Treasury and they can commute the whole or part of their pensions and receive a lump sum down. If any men are entitled to get pensions commuted, I think it is that class whose careers have been cut short in Ireland, who have either retired or have been discharged by the new Irish Government, and have had to embark upon a new career. In many cases they may have to establish themselves in a new business in another country and endeavour to cut out a new career for themselves. Therefore I think it is exceedingly important that they should have some right of commutation as that which is accorded to British civil servants.

I want to know if the civil servants who get compensation under Article 10 will be entitled to go to the British Treasury to have their pensions commuted? The answer will probably be that their pensions will be dealt with by the Irish Government, and that being so it is difficult to provide that they should have power to go to the British Treasury. If that is so, then the only Government who could make provision for the commutation of pensions would be the new Irish Free State Government. It may be quite true that we cannot make provision for that commutation, but I think the Government could make representations to the Free State Government pointing out that it is most desirable that they should pass legislation dealing with this point, because if legislation for that purpose is not passed these eivil servants will not be placed in as good position as if they had received compensation under the Act of 1920. If they had received compensation under that Act they would have been entitled to go to the British Government and ask for a commutation of the whole or part of their pension. Unless some provision is made by which they can go to the English Government and get their pensions or part of them commuted, then they are in a worse position than they would have been under the Act of 1920. Those are the points to which I wish to draw attention, and I should like to have some assurance that what, I have asked for will be done.


The Debates in this House on these two Bills and on other stages of this question which have received the attention of this House have been very different from the Irish Debates to which we were accustomed some years ago. I rose to say only a few words in order to associate hon. Gentlemen who sit on these benches with the last stage of these two Bills. There have been, in the course of these discussions, references to the part which parties have played in this country upon this question during the past 40 years. I am not going to attempt to apportion either blame or praise, for indeed we are faced now with a problem which compels us to approach it more or less in a chastened mood.

We have undergone a succession of costly and bitter experiences, and viewing the results as they are, we are bound to look at them from a very different angle. I will only say for the Labour party, in the country and in the House of Commons, that it has no regret whatever in regard to its attitude on the question of Irish self-government since first its Members come to this House, or since first it was created as a party in the country. I listened yesterday with feelings of regret to some speeches made by hon. Gentlemen who apparently feel that there is in the Irish character some inherent defect, tending to illegalities and breaches of the law as part of the Irish nature. I not only do not share that view, but I repudiate any such conclusion. We must take into account what has been the method of Irish government for generations. Admittedly it has been a method resting upon force, and operating through instruments forged against the will of the people and in defiance of their persistent demand for no more than we have claimed a right to enjoy ourselves—the right of the people to govern their own country. Instead of proceeding now, as some hon. Members have done, to indulge in further censure of the Irish people, we ought to make the most complete atonement to the people of Ireland which we can, and which this Measure offers us some opportunity of doing. Force always begets force, and parties who would not listen lo demands pressed peacefully and constitutionally year by year, have been compelled to listen by a measure of force which they themselves have evoked.

There is left in this House of Commons but one representative of a party which at one time was powerful—a party which in constitutional form made constitutional demands and pressed them year by year, a party which had behind its back an enormous majority of the Irish people. I do not know whether the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) intends to speak in the course of this Debate, but I do not think this question can be properly closed without some words from him as to the efforts made by that party in this House for so many years. Irishmen in other lands than Ireland, in Scotland, in our Colonics and in America, have shown themselves as law-abiding as any other sections of the community in any one of those countries, and they have been able to take part in making the laws which govern them. I only want to add that, in my view, to give this Treaty full force unity is required in Ireland. When the Governments of the North and South have completely repressed disorder and have established themselves on a footing comparable with the peaceful conditions obtaining in other lands, they will thereby have accomplished a very difficult task. But there will still be need to try and unite Ireland as well as to give it self-government, and that cannot be assured until we have Irish unity. Irishmen must seek the economic, social and agricultural prosperity of their country by acting as one unit and not as two conflicting elements and forces. I would therefore suggest, so far as my words may reach the Irish leaders of every class or section, North or South, that they can help that unity by themselves appealing to the masses of the Irish people to bury these worn-out causes of conflict and to beat the drum less loudly than is done on certain so-called days of celebration. The leaders know better, and I wish they would more frankly and more honestly tell their followers the truth about these matters. It is up to them to lead the masses of the people in the right direction. When this Act is finally consummated, and when we have established a condition of affairs under which law-abiding and peaceably disposed people can live, there will still remain that task on the part of the Irish leaders, of trying to unite the two sections of the Irish people and to make them into one coherent nation, animated by the high purpose of seeking the prosperity of their native country.


I want to say a word or two on behalf of the Loyalist minority in the South and West of Ireland. In the first place, I should like, as regards the Treaty, and in order to put myself right with some of my own friends, to say at once I acknowledge that that Treaty must be accepted in its entirety, and that it is the duty of every loyal subject of His Majesty neither by word nor deed to prevent it being brought to fruition. In speaking of the Loyalist minority in Ireland, I would like to ask who are these people, what have they done, and what has been their reward? It is very necessary, I think, to tell some people who these Loyalist minority are, because it seems to me there is a great deal of ignorance on the subject. The Loyalist minority in the South and West of Ireland consist in the first place of descendants of Irish people who, in the 12fch century, came over to this country and asked the then King of England to go to Ireland and establish some sort of Government there under which people could live in prosperity, comfort and safety. A further section of this Loyalist minority are descended from soldiers, judicial functionaries, administrators and mer- chants, who have, during seven and a half centuries, left England to come over to Ireland and settle there, and have upheld the Government of the Kings of England all that time. Coming up to more recent dates, a great many members of this minority are civil servants who have gone over from this country to take up positions in Ireland. What have these people done? They have upheld the Government of the Kings of England in Ireland for 750 years through good report and through evil report.

What has been their reward? Their reward has been that by the Treaty which has been agreed to, and to which this Act of Parliament gives fruition, they have been deprived of the protection of the nation whose rights in Ireland they have upheld, and they have been left at the mercy of a Government established by His Majesty's Government which it is acknowledged is incapable of protecting them when the Treaty comes into force. We all know that it has been incapable of protecting them, and that as a result those who have been compelled to remain in Ireland are living in terror, while many have been forced to fly to this country as refugees. I say that the meting out of such treatment to people who have done such noble service to the British nation is a very poor reward. I am now making an appeal to His Majesty's Government to do everything in their power to ensure the security, peace and comfort of these people in the future. A great many of these unfortunate individuals have been deprived of everything they possess. I hope the Government will take the necessary steps to see that they get just reparation for all that they have lost, and that when the Free State Government comes over to England later on, as it undoubtedly will, in order to obtain monetary assistance for carrying on its Government, such monetary assistance shall only be given on the condition that the claims of the Loyalist minority in the South and West of Ireland shall be a first charge upon the grant in order that they may be recouped the losses they have sustained.

Another class I would like to refer to for a moment consists of Englishmen who have within the last 10 or 15 years gone over to Ireland as civil servants. The position of these men at the present moment is absolutely impossible. They are not wealthy men, and for some years to come there is not the least chance of there being reciprocity of feeling between Irishmen and Englishmen in Ireland. I say that with regret because I have been living in England for 31 years and have received nothing but the greatest consideration, generosity, and hospitality from Englishmen. I am ashamed to think that for some considerable time to come Englishmen in Ireland are not likely to receive the treatment which I have enjoyed over here. My attention has been called to the position of those Englishmen who have received Civil Service appointments in Ireland by a man who served in my regiment during the War. He tells me that they are more or less on the horns of a dilemma. They have either to remain in the Irish Civil Service and to be ostracised, or they have to go on an utterly inadequate pension. I hope the Government can see its way to look into this matter and ensure that these men are recompensed in a proper manner. If they have to leave Ireland, they ought to be provided for by the Government here.


We all wish for the time to come when the South and North of Ireland will come together, and when all Irishmen will work for the common good of the Motherland. I am inclined to think that once Ireland is removed from party politics in this country, Irishmen will come together much quicker than was possible under old methods. I am very sorry to say I believe that Ireland has been made the sport of both political parties in this country. The one party used the one portion when it suited them, and the other party used the other portion. I think that once that influence is removed the probability is that the Irish will be able to make up what is really not a fault at all, and work for the good of the country. The point that I want to place before the House is this: We do not think that any man or woman should be driven out of Ireland because of their race or any other disability, and, if that has taken place, either in the North or in the South, we regret it very much. I want, however, to remind hon. Members here that that has happened right through the history of Ireland. The world is covered with men and women of Irish blood who have had to leave the country because of the malpractices in the British government of that country. It is not, therefore, any new thing that Irishmen have been driven forth from their own country. You have them in Scotland, in England, in America, a standing protest against the misgovernment that has taken place in their country.

We hope that the passing of this Measure may be the beginning of a new era, not only in Ireland, but in the relations of Ireland with this country. I have been reading in to-day's paper a speech made by the Marquess of Graham at some function in Scotland, in which the Noble Marquess advocated that, now that this Measure is passed, Irishmen in this country should lose the right to vote. I would like hon. Members to pay attention to that, because the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) seemed to make that a grievance so far as this country is concerned. The Marquess of Graham, however, is advocating that Irishmen and Irishwomen in Scotland and England should have no right of citizenship and no right to vote. We deprecate anything of that kind. If a man goes to Ireland and wants to take up a new citizenship, he should be at liberty to do so. On the other hand, if he wants to keep his British citizenship, he should be at liberty to do so. But that must apply to both sides of the Channel, and not only to one side. I would only add that I sincerely hope that the quarrel that has taken place in Ireland will come to an end. It is in the interest of that country that it should come to an end. I have met the men from the North and the men from the South. There is no great difference between those men. They are both good in their own way, and I am quite certain that, when they can agree so well in the industrial field, they will be able to agree in other fields. We wish that that time may come speedily, in the interest, not only of Ireland, but of this country.


There is one thing in which all Irishmen who know Ireland and love that country will agree, and all Englishmen who are interested in Ireland will agree with them. That is that it is most desirable that Ireland should be one united country, and that no permanency, either economic, financial or social, can be brought about on a firm and lasting basis until Ireland agrees to be one people and one country. The hon. Member who has just sat down informed the House I that the world is full of Irishmen who have been driven out of Ireland by the malpractices of previous British Governments. I understand that in America alone there are some 20,000,000 men and women of Irish extraction, and there are large numbers, amounting to millions, in other parts of the world. Are we to assume that it is the hon. Member's view that, now that the malpractices of the British Government of Ireland have ceased, vast numbers of those people will return to the land from which they have been driven by previous British Governments? Of course, an argument of that kind will not bear the slightest examination. Like other countries, Ireland can only maintain a certain number of people, and, owing to the character of the Irish race, there has been a constant stream of emigration to other countries. That is the reason why so large a number of Irishmen and Irishwomen are no longer domiciled in Ireland, but in other parts of the world.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) deprecated the use of force, and devoted some strong sentences in his speech to a condemnation of the use of force, for which he blamed the British Government in Ireland. He appears, however, to forget that the Provisional Government's only hope of being able to exist is that it will be able so to use the force at its command that it may suppress disorder and rebellion, and reestablish peace in the unhappy State of Southern Ireland. As in every other country where disorder arises, even this new Provisional Government has to use force, and its only hope of existence is in that. Arguments of that kind are really of no account and of no use. The act has been taken and the deed is done, so far as this House and this country are concerned. It has been decided that a Free State shall be set up in Southern Ireland, and that there shall be a Northern Parliament and a Northern State still attached to the United Kingdom. We have to face that position, and, great as our misgivings may be, it is now our duty to do what we can to make this decision workable, and to give it every opportunity for success. I regret nothing that I have done, but the established fact is there. I do know that many prayers are made for peace in Southern Ireland. Those prayers, however, are not made with the faith which moves mountains, but in fear and trembling as to the result.

I desire to associate myself with the appeal which has been made by two hon. Members who have addressed the House for the first time this afternoon on behalf of the unhappy loyalist population, a large number of whom are still left in Southern Ireland. Their position is deplorable. There appears to be—I am not saying by whom — an organised attempt to raid the farms, the businesses and dwellings, and particularly to destroy the dwellings, of all those residents in those parts of Southern Ireland who have the misfortune to be of English extraction. There is a particular attempt made to destroy public and business buildings which have been erected by Englishmen in Ireland. It might almost appear that a deliberate attempt is being made to wipe out and obliterate all traces of the English occupation of Ireland during 700 years. Meanwhile the unfortunate loyalist population are left in a most deplorable condition. They are more subject—this is very easy to prove, and what I say can be challenged if desired—to the outrages which have been described in this House more than once, than any other portion of the population. If they choose to remain British subjects they are, under this Constitution, left without the particular rights conferred upon Irish citizens under the new Constitution. They will be in the position of outlanders, with boycott pressure and prejudice, against them; and their only crime is that they believed in the Ministers of the British Crown, and endeavoured loyally to uphold the British authority in Ireland when it was still there. Are we not bound in honour to do all that we can to take every measure possible for the protection and comfort of these people, to take care that monetary compensation shall be given as some solatium to them for the wrongs and losses which they have suffered, that that compensation shall be paid promptly without any undue delay, and that, in any case, the British Government shall give some guarantee which shall be something more than mere words. I would press this point upon the attention of His Majesty's Ministers, and urge them to take active and immediate steps to come to the support and solace of the loyal population, mainly from Southern Ireland, who have been driven out, ruined, to this side of the Irish Channel.

I support also the appeal made by the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) on behalf of those who are to receive compensation for pensions when they are discharged from the service of the State in Ireland. The position of these people is extremely unsatisfactory and uncertain, and they are in great doubt as to what the outcome will be. Without repeating anything that my hon. and learned Friend has said, I would point out that quite a large number of civil servants have been driven out of Ireland owing to recent events, and they are not able to go over to Dublin to make claims for compensation, because, if they did, under present conditions, their lives would be in the most serious danger, and no protection would be afforded them. I turn, finally, and this is the only large point remaining to be raised, to the question of the interpretation of the Constitution. We have raised points of doubt and difficulty under a number of Articles of the Constitution, and the Attorney-General has given answers; but those answers, at the best, have only been partial, and constantly he has had to rely upon the second Section of the Constituent Act, stated in the Schedule to this Bill, which is to the effect that the Constitution must be read with reference to the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty with Great Britain, and that anything repugnant to any of the provisions of the Treaty shall be absolutely void and inoperative to the extent of its repugnancy. I have not used all the words, but that is the effect. It will be admitted on all sides that the Treaty is a very much wider instrument than was generally known or understood at the time when it passed this House. We have; been constantly referring to the four corners of the Treaty, but those four corners are very far apart indeed. In fact, they almost seem to be torn away from the Treaty altogether, so wide and so loose is it in some of its provisions. We have to consider what is to be done when any question arises as to whether the Constitution, or the acts arising under the powers of the Constitution, are within the terms of the Treaty.

5.0 P.M.

Who is to set in motion this second Clause? I imagine there will be various matters which might arise, including the case of the interpretation of Article 49 of the Treaty, which sets out what is the duty of the Free State Government and what are the rights and privileges of the British Government in the case of strained relations or actual war. I imagine that a case of that kind would be one for negotiation and adjustment between the two Governments, and if those two Governments disagreed there would be the usual resort which might be taken by any two Governments, either economic pressure or the application of force of arms. It is not a very satisfactory position. There will probably be in addition a very large number of cases where British subjects or groups of British subjects, or it may be citizens of the Irish Free State, have doubt and feel it incumbent to raise questions as to the interpretation of the Constitution within the four corners of the Treaty. How are they to proceed? In the case of British subjects without the rights of Irish citizenship, how are they to proceed?

I think the Attorney-General will agree that the Constitution lays down that questions of the interpretation of the Constitution can only be raised in the Irish High Court. They may go to the Irish Supreme Court and then, according to the Constitution, the Crown may exercise its prerogative and give a right of appeal. But how can all those matters be set in motion? I think this is a matter which is of the most urgent importance having regard to what we have found out as to the meaning of the new Constitution in the course of these Debates. There are matters undoubtedly of great doubt which will require interpretation. Can the British subject resident in Ireland, though not domiciled, or a citizen of the Irish Free State set these processes in motion and claim the protection of the Privy Council if he is aggrieved or represents a large class of persons who are aggrieved by any Acts which may be within or outside the Constitution? Friends of mine in Southern Ireland are-greatly exercised over these matters, and I urge the Government seriously to address itself to these very urgent questions. Are they satisfied that the right of appeal to aggrieved British subjects or citizens of the Irish Free State to the-Privy Council of this country to interpret points arising out of the Constitution and the Treaty is absolutely indisputable and established? If they are, by what means may that right be set in motion and exercised? This Act gives me and many of my friends the gravest misgiving, but we are in a minority. The British people, rightly or wrongly, perhaps ignorant of the facts of the case, have by a majority decided that this experiment is to be made. We do not desire or intend to do anything, either as Members of the House or privately, to impede the successful establishment of a peaceable and orderly Government. We desire to see it established.


As an Irish man, this is the happiest day of my life. The House has given us what we have been looking for for 700 years. Five generations of our family have fought for this freedom and, thank God, I have seen the day on which it has come. The hon. Member opposite is very doleful about the Irish question. He may rest assured that Irishmen will do the very best for the country. It is a great act of justice done to them and they will never forget it. You have given them this freedom and you can rest assured that when they take the Oath of Allegiance they will hold to it and will never go back. Irishmen have never had a chance. Now we will give them a chance, and you will never regret it. The Government in Ireland has not had an opportunity. Really the Irish people are moral and peaceable when they get a chance to do what is right. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to us and there is not an Irishman in England who does not glorify what is done for her. As an Irishman speaking for my people in England, we are thankful for what is done for us, and I am sure you will never regret what you have done.

Colonel Sir C. YATE

The question of Irish citizenship has been raised, and I should like to ask the Attorney-General to make the position of Englishmen in Ireland in future a little clearer than it has been made yet. Speaking yesterday he said the qualifications for citizenship are set out in Article 3, and in Article 3 it is laid down that there must be a residence in Ireland of seven years, and an Englishman in Ireland can either accept Irish citizenship or not, as he pleases. Will an Englishman now in Ireland, or going over there subsequently after the full period, if he accepts Irish citizenship, lose English citizenship? The principal questions are the franchise and the right to sit in the Irish Parliament. If an Englishman goes over to Ireland hereafter, I understand the precise period he will have to qualify by residence is not yet finally laid down, but whatever the period is, will that be considered reciprocally in this country? Whatever rules are laid down as regards qualification for the franchise and the right to sit in the Irish Parliament for an Englishman in Ireland, will the same rules be applied to an Irishman in England? An hon. Member opposite said these rules should apply equally to both, and I quite agree. Whatever rule is laid down in Ireland, I think the same rule should be applied to Irishmen in England. I do not know whether the hon. Member (Mr. Collins) has seven years' residence or not, but he is evidently entitled without any such qualification.


I should like to have an opportunity of speaking as an Irishman who has more then seven years' residence in this country but at the same time more than seven years' residence in Ireland in the past. I should like to make my appeal to-day especially to those who represent constituencies in the North of Ireland. All my people, my parents, myself in my younger days—that is the only excuse I can offer for it now, that I was young—held and voiced the views that I have heard stated by some hon. Members coming from constituencies in the North of Ireland. With some of them I am in entire agreement to-day, particularly those who are now pleading—and I hope their plea will be answered—for unity in the very near future amongst the different sections in Ireland. I have been one of those who would be considered if I were in Ireland to-day to be a Southern Irish Loyalist—I mean my time in Ireland was spent amongst these people. I know a good few of them personally and I am in touch with them to some extent to-day. When I was younger I had an opportunity of listening to many of the speeches that used to be made by the late Colonel King-Harman and I was influenced by them, and because of the views that he and others held in common with myself, I put forward some of the opinions I have heard voiced in this House, which frankly I regret much to hear voiced in this House to-day. There are still undoubtedly a number of Members here representing those views who, although they appear to give lip service to unity in Ireland, do not order their actions and their speeches in a way which would give any real hope to those of us who really believe in Irish unity for the future. I speak as one who used to be one of them and who has left them, who used to hold their views, and has given up those views because I reasoned and, reasoning, saw the effects not only in the South but in the North of Ireland of the expression of the views that are still, unfortunately, being expressed. I had an opportunity in my younger days of working on a farm. Later, I worked in a shipyard in the Belfast area, and I had an opportunity of witnessing some things that compelled me to reconsider the views which I held in regard to the position of the Nationalists. I have seen many things, and other hon. Members must have seen even more things, that made mc ashamed of being associated with people who could be responsible for some of the actions that I saw. I have seen men throw heavy-iron rivets at little school children merely because they were Catholics. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Yes, I have seen it in the shipyards in Belfast, and when I protested I was brutally beaten. I am speaking now of many years ago, and if I could believe that that condition of things did not prevail in the North of Ireland to-day I should be exceedingly glad, but on reading the English papers, and living in England, one cannot fail to notice that during the last 12 months men have been treated in a similar way, simply and solely because they were Catholics, in the City of Belfast.

I have had an opportunity of interviewing some of my fellow workers who were driven out of Belfast, not because of any political views they held, because some of them were what would be called Loyalists in Belfast, but because of circumstances over which they had no control, simply because they happened to be born Catholics in Catholic families. These things are still going on, unfortunately, and any man, whatever his political views, would be ashamed to stand up here and defend that kind of action. I am told, and I believe it is true, certainly I have no reason to doubt it, that in the South of Ireland cases of a similar character are taking place in regard to men who would be described as Loyalists. I am exceedingly sorry to hear it, and I do not think that anybody on these benches would give any support to that kind of action. We are face to face with the fact that both in the North of Ireland and in the South of Ireland these things which we all regret are taking place at the present time, and we should all be best engaged, especially those of us who are Irishmen, in trying to do away with the feeling that leads to actions which we also seriously deprecate.

I should like to make a suggestion to my friends from the North of Ireland, and I make it as one who has been amongst them but who has left them because I was convinced they were wrong. No doubt they are quite as convinced that they are right. I am not, and never have been, a Sinn Feiner. I am not, and never have been, a Nationalist. I am simply one of those who knows that whether in the North or in the South there is a special class in the community, the working class, who have had very little consideration either from Nationalists or from Loyalists when they were in power and had the opportunity of determining their lives. I have not much information that the conditions are much altered to-day. I believe that the working classes in the North and in the South of Ireland are in exactly the same condition to-day as they were years ago. They are suffering from the same unemployment and from the same lack of housing accommodation. I have seen children in the North and in the South—and if I went over to-day I am certain that T could see them now— suffering from lack of food, and having no decent boots or clothes to wear. These are things that the North and the South will have to attend to immediately if there is going to be any unity or any real peace in Ireland in the future.

May I make a special appeal to my hon. Friends opposite? The speeches of leaders in Ireland, whether in the North or in the South, have a tremendous influence upon Irishmen living in that country. I do not think that there is any other country in the world where the ordinary rank and file pay so much attention and give such loyalty to their leaders as they do in Ireland. I have seen huge crowds of men and women influenced by the words of a speaker, and I have seen actions that were almost certain to be taken stopped by the advice of a speaker, a leader. May I appeal to my hon. Friends opposite who come from the North of Ireland, that they will not continue to do that which they have done in the past? I should make the same appeal if I were addressing men holding Sinn Fein or Southern Irish views. I ask my hon. Friends not to deliberately stir up the people to the strife that has been going on in the past, that they shall not use their influence with one section of working people against another section of working people in any part of Ireland, that they shall not do as they have done in the past in that direction, but that they shall do the very opposite.

I ask them to go back to their people and to say to them; "We are sincerely desirous that the people of Ireland, Protestant and Catholic, and those who hold neither view, shall live together in peace and settle down to the determination to make Ireland prosperous, as Ireland could be prosperous, given the opportunity." If hon. Members will do that, and if their views, speaking as representatives of the North of Ireland, are broadcasted, they will find amongst the Southern Irishmen a keen desire to hold out the hand of fellowship to aid them in bringing real peace and prosperity to the country. I have travelled as a Protestant over the whole of Southern Ireland, and I have been in places where I was probably the only Protestant within a radius of five or six miles. I have lived among Southern Irish Catholics, and I want to say, to their eternal credit, that never on one occasion in the years that I lived there was I in any way interfered with because of my religious views. That could not have happened had I been a Roman Catholic living in Belfast. I might have lived there for 11 months and three weeks as a Southern Irish Catholic, if I happened to have been one, and I might have lived there in close friendship and good fellowship with all my fellow workers, but immediately we approached the 12th July—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish!"]—It is not rubbish. I am speaking of what I experienced. The history of the riots of the 12th July prove it. I have heard some people talk about the treatment meted out to the Loyalists in the South of Ireland, and I deprecate that treatment as much as anybody, but let us not forget the treatment meted out to Catholics in the North of Ireland. I have seen it myself, and I know it. I was foolish enough to take part in it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—when I was a young man, and influenced by the kind of opinion which I deprecate so much to-day.

If hon. Members opposite really believe in peace, and if they are prepared to give more than lip service to peace, I ask them to go back to Ireland and say to their people, as some of them have said in the House of Commons: "We believe in making Ireland prosperous. We want to stop the bitterness of the past, and to forget it. The past is dead. Do no trouble to bury it. Let it lie there, dead." There is work to do, and no man will ever do better work than using his time to bring about a rapprochement between the North and South of Ireland, and to give an opportunity to the people of Ireland to make at least a decent and prosperous future for that country. I appeal to my hon. Friends from the North of Ireland to do that, and I know from years of association with the men in the South, I know as a Protestant who has lived amongst Catholics in the South, and who is even now in close association with them, although living in this country, that they will respond. I ask hon. Members to use their influence, even if they are the first to do it, and even if they think that the other side are not prepared to do it. Let them offer the hand of good fellowship, and I am certain that the other side will accept it. I am more certain that if they accept it, Ireland will be all the better in the future because they have had the manhood and the courage to do it.

Colonel NEWMAN

This Debate has revealed the fact that there are now in this House a number of Members who are Irishmen. I wish that they had been in the last Parliament. The hon. Member who has just spoken displays a real knowledge of the South of Ireland. He said he had lived in the South of Ireland, as a Protestant, for a great number of years amongst the Catholics of the South, and that no harm had ever been done to him. That is perfectly true. Every word he said on that point is true, but, during the last few unhappy years, how is it that it is the houses of Protestants that have been burnt down, that it is the property of Protestants that has been stolen, and that it is the land of Protestants that has been confiscated? In ray own neighbourhood, I can call to mind five big houses, four of which belonged to Protestants and one to a Catholic. To-day, of those five houses the only one which is standing is the one which belongs to a Catholic. Every Irishman who has spoken this afternoon joined in the hope that this will be a just and lasting peace, but we have to remember that up to the present time it has not brought Ireland to a condition of peace and prosperity. Even if we do get a lasting peace, we shall have bought it at great cost. We shall have bought it by the sacrifice of 300,000 Protestants in the three Southern provinces of Ireland.

Now a word as to the Sinn Feiner of 1916, the Republican of 1920 and the Free Stater of 1922. None of these have ever said that they were going to hold out any particular hand of fellowship to the minority in the three Southern provinces of Ireland. On the occasion of former Home Rule Bills, Nationalist Members in those days used to declare that they wanted all Irishmen to work together for the good of Ireland, but there has been no hand of fellowship offered to us during the last 10 years, and I, personally, am very glad of it, because we know exactly where we stand. We have, therefore, got a remnant of 300,000 men, women and children who have got to make their choice as to whether they will clear out of the" country altogether or remain in Ireland as citizens of the Irish Free State. Apparently they are not to be the subjects any longer of Great Britain, and they will pay taxes without any further chance of representation in either of the two Irish Assemblies, and all that those of us who sympathise with the fate of these people can do now is to compensate them as far as possible in material ways for what they have suffered.

Very few know, and nobody in the House knows, how the Southern Irish loyalists have suffered during the last five or six years. It has been carefully hidden—I think rightly perhaps—by newspapers, the Government and public opinion generally. In a way it is wrong that what they have suffered should be hidden, as it has been, for this reason: It has been rather put; about by the late Government in reference to what was happening in Ireland; all these dis- turbances and outrages were something in the nature merely of civil disturbance such as happened at the time of the White Boys, the Fenians or the Land Leaguers, though rather more acute or more dangerous. If we were so say that to any official Minister or member of the present Irish Assembly, he would repudiate it with indignation, and would say, "What we had during the last few years was the Anglo-Irish war, and in that Anglo-Irish war, on the whole, we came out victorious." That makes all the difference. There is all the difference between claims for compensation arising out of civil disturbance and those arising from an avowed state of war as there has been during the last two years. When my house was burned, was it done by what I may call a mob of angry peasants, who had suffered very greatly under me or under my forefathers before me, and at last joined in a sort of Jacquerie and burnt my house? Not a bit of it. It was done by order of the General Officer Commanding the Third Irish Division of the Republicans. He handed a signed notice to my caretaker to say that it was done by his order as a reprisal for the burning of certain houses by British troops, not in my county, but in the adjacent county of Limerick. I was told that the officer who gave the notice to my land steward did not even speak with a County Cork accent, but was a man from another part of the country.

Then there are instances of men and women who at the risk of their lives warned British troops and Royal Irish Constabulary of intended ambushes and thus saved their lives, and the houses of these people were burned down as a consequence. That is not civil disturbance, that is an act of war. Suppose that, as a result of the Great War, there had been a draw, and that neither the Entente nor the Germans had won, and that as a result of the peace settlement Alsace which had been devastated by the French and by the Germans in turn was erected into something in the nature of a Free State Government or Republic. It would not be a reasonable settlement when the Republic was set up to say that the Germans should recompense the French for damage suffered by them, and the French the Germans. That would be a ridiculous settlement; yet that is the settlement made in Ireland to-day with, to my mind, a most unjust result. In con- nection with the claims against the British Government damage was done by the British troops to the amount of £2,500,000, and of that amount the British Government have already paid over £2,000,000. There has been a balance of damage done by Republican troops of something like £7,500,000, of which the Free State Government, up to date, have discharged less than £500,000, and that has been paid mainly, not to the victims, not to persons like myself or persons worse off than myself, because I have a roof over me, but to certain insurance companies. That is the position now. The British Government are paying for their damage, and the other side are not. It is a very unjustifiable state of affairs. Besides that, there is all the great damage which cannot be claimed for before the Shaw Commission or any county court in the case of those who had their houses burned, their land taken away, their cattle seized and their timber cut. There is no redress at all at present for them, though the Free State Government have given a sort of bond to do something. That is an unfair state of things. This House should do everything it can to do justice to these people.

I wish now to make an appeal to the Attorney-General on the question of citizenship. I have been requested during the last few days to represent to the right hon. Gentleman that, there is a great number of residents in the South of Ireland who have left that country and do not wish to return to it. They want to sell up all they have as best they can, and make a fresh start for themselves elsewhere. Is it the position, as it is in their opinion, that they will still, against their will, be Free State citizens? They do not want to acquire Free State citizenship. They do not want to go to any expense, trouble or worry in divesting themselves of the Free State citizenship, but they wish to remain simply British subjects. They asked me to put it to you—will it be necessary for them to take some measures to divest themselves of citizenship, and, if so, what will those measures be? Four hundred and four Members have been returned to this House, having signed a pledge sent to them to give every help to the Southern Irish Loyalists and do everything they possibly can to get fair treatment for the Loyalists of Southern Ireland. Now I am asking them—and I am a Southern Irish Loyalist myself—if ever the opportunity arises to implement that pledge and to do everything in their power to have it carried into effect, and with that appeal I leave it in their hands.


The recital of the infamies mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member could be matched by similar recitals from this side of the House. But there is no use in entering into a competition of that kind. What he has told us is nothing more than the result of long resented wrong unredressed in Ireland. He is referring to a period of violence. We are looking forward to a period of peace, and I think that the events which he has so vividly described, and in which he has personally suffered, furnish no criterion of what will be the future of the South and West of Ireland. The South were provoked to violence and violence provoked violence in return. We hope that that period of Irish history will be closed definitely by the Act which we are passing to-day.

I did not rise, however, to comment on that. I simply want to ask a word or two-from the Attorney-General with regard to the Boundaries Commission. Are any appointments to that Commission anticipated, and does he contemplate any difficulty with regard to the appointment of a Commissioner by Northern Ireland? There is no provision under Clause 12 of the Bill for the appointment of a Commissioner in the event of Northern Ireland not appointing one, and I would like to know if Northern Ireland fails to appoint a Commissioner what action he proposes to take or what action is possible under the Bill? Then Clause 12 provides that the Commissioner is to take into consideration the wishes of the inhabitants. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an interpretation of that phrase, and say how the wishes of the inhabitants are to be acertained by the Commission, whether a plebiscite is to be taken, and if so what are the areas over which that plebiscite is to be taken? These are difficulties which have not been brought before the House during this Debate, and I would like to know whether any steps have been taken to set up the Commission, whether the right hon. Gentleman has in mind who the Commissioners are to be, and what instructions are to be given to the Commission in order to ascertain the wishes of the inhabitants?


The hon. Member who has just spoken, after sympathetically referring to a speech by the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman), said, "After all, let byegones be byegones." I have every sympathy with that desire, but I do not think that we can divest ourselves of our responsibility by enunciating that pious hope. As has been pointed out by speakers from the South of Ireland, the Southern Loyalists have suffered terribly. I am not at the moment concerned to discuss whether any justification can be offered or not. The fact is that the Southern Loyalists have suffered terribly. Although it is not actually contained in the wording of the Treaty, it was an honourable understanding between those representing the Free State and the British Ministers representing this Government when the Treaty was signed, that protection would be given, if the Free State came about, to the Loyalists in Southern Ireland, both as to their lives and property. I understand that up to the period of the Truce decrees were obtained in the Trish Courts, mainly by the Southern Loyalists, to an amount of about £10,000,000 sterling, and that since the Truce further damage has been assessed to the amount of nearly £20,000,000 sterling. Before the House parts with this Bill I want to know whether that honourable understanding is in process of being carried out, what part of that £10,000,000 of pre-Truce claims has actually been paid, what part of the £20,000,000 of post-Truce claims has been dealt with by the Free State Government, and what amount is still outstanding. With regard to the outstanding amounts, what assurance have the British Government obtained from the Free State Government that they hold themselves responsible for making provision in respect of the damage to life and property which I have indicated? While I conclude, as I began, by saying that all parties desire that byegones should be byegones, and that we desire that there should be peace in Southern Ireland, still we cannot obtain that peace by the sacrifice of compensation for what has been suffered by the Loyalists in the South.


This bewildering Irish discussion is now reaching its fretful and rather feeble end. I think that the feeling shared by every party in the House is one of profound thankfulness that we have, in the conclusion of the task on which we have been engaged, succeeded in removing Irish affairs from the control of the British Parliament. It is not a question of what the Loyalists in the South may have suffered or what those in the North may have suffered. There has also been prolonged political suffering here due to the fact that the position of Ireland and the interests of Ireland have been made a matter of party disputation in this House in the memory of all those who have been engaged in politics for the last two generations. But when we have accomplished this task let us not be satisfied that we have done anything of very positive worth. Too soon is the term applied that this is an Irish settlement. From the point of view of this House and the Government, it is not a settlement; it is a scuttlement. We are simply removing Ireland from the consideration of this Parliament and from the restraint of our laws and system, and we are merely saying that we can no longer concern ourselves with her problems, and that she must manage them as best she can. While I do not put the prospect too high, I think it should go forth from this House with absolute unanimity that, having tried by every policy which could be devised to serve Ireland, we are now trying to serve her best by leaving her entirely in charge of her own affairs. Not merely shall we make her a present of this prematurely described settlement, but we shall accompany it with the goodwill of all political sections at home.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

I think the House may congratulate itself upon the high level which has been maintained on all sides of the House in discussing this Motion, and especially, if I may say so, in the fact that, although we are no longer to have representatives here of constituencies in Southern Ireland, we shall still have men of Irish birth who will continue to assist our councils and to adorn our Debates as they have done to-day. A number of questions have been addressed to me, and I propose to deal with them shortly. The first question was one which I have tried to answer more than once. It is the question of Irish citizenship under Article 3. I would like to state quite definitely and certainly that, in my judgment—and I think in the judgment of any responsible lawyer on either side of the House who examined the document—the fact that any person qualified so to do elected to accept Irish citizenship, does not in any way injure or affect his status as a British subject. He remains a British subject just as much as he would in Canada if he accepted the conditions which are made for the franchise there. The other point was whether or not we would legislate in England to ensure that Irishmen resident in England should get the franchise here only on the same terms as Englishmen resident in Ireland. My answer to that is that, although I have not discussed the matter with my colleagues in the Government, I do not for a moment suppose that they would assent to any such legislation being introduced. My own view is that all persons, from wherever they come, are entitled to the franchise on the same conditions, one with the other, in England, and that the question of the conditions on which their particular country of origin may give the franchise to Englishmen never enters into the matter at all. I should be sorry to make any departure from that principle in the solitary case of the Irish Free State.

I was asked several questions about the loyal minority and about the compensation to which they are entitled. With regard to the figures which my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) asked for, I have not had any notice that he would require them and so have not furnished myself with them, but if he would be good enough to refer to a Debate which took place in another place only yesterday, he will find a speech of my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, extending over some six columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT, in which all the information for which he asks, so far as it is in the possession of the Government, is fully set out. With regard to the loyal minority generally, I would say what I think has been said before, that this Government recognises and recognises fully the very great hardships which undoubtedly they have sustained. We have not been blind to those hardships and we have not been inactive in regard to them. We have been in communication with the Irish Free State upon them and we have the assurance of the Free State that it recognises its liability to make compensation for the injuries which have been received. I have been asked also as to the position of civil servants. The point of the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher), regarding pension commutation, was mentioned to me only this afternoon, but I think that if he will look at the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, which regulates the rate of compensation, he will find the Acts about which he is anxious expressly referred to and applied by Section 55, Sub-section (6) of that Act.


Under the Act of 1920 the British Government had to pay these pensions and the British Exchequer would be the proper authority to give commutation. Inasmuch as under the Treaty the Irish Government pays the pensions, would it be possible for the pensioner to get his commutation in England?


I do not think that from the moment of the passage of this Bill the British Government is going to be responsible for the pensions of civil servants transferred to Ireland. The point my hon. and learned Friend put, was, I believe, whether or not the Pensions Commutation Acts applied. I think the answer is that Article 10 of the Treaty provides that compensation is to be on terms at least as favourable as the 1920 Act, and, therefore, since the 1920 Act embodies those Acts, the same principle would apply when the Irish Government came to compensate. We were asked what we would do if the Irish Government failed to carry out its Treaty obligation, and did not give the compensation to which it was pledged. I want to say at once that the whole basis upon which we are bringing in this Bill, and asking the House to pass it, is the basis that the Irish Free State is loyally intending to carry out the Treaty. We are asking this House to legislate upon that hypothesis only. I do not think it would help to carry out the desire which I am sure my hon. Friends have just as much as we have, that that hypothesis should be maintained, if we proceeded in this Act of Parliament to provide for what was to happen if the Irish Free State failed to carry out what it has undertaken to do. I do not believe the Irish Free State means to fail in that respect. It is, of course, clear that if any breach of the Treaty were committed, it would be a matter of immediate concern for the Government, and that would apply just as much to Article 10 as to any other Article. But I refuse to believe in or contemplate the prospect of the Irish Free State having any such intention.


The question I put was what steps the Government proposed to take to carry out the verbal promise repeatedly given by Ministers in the last Parliament, that if the Free State did not pay the British Government would pay.

6.0 P.M.


That is exactly the question which, as I endeavoured to point out, we are not considering. I am not considering, and do not pro- pose to consider—unless the House thinks I ought to— what we are to do to the Irish Free State if it fails to carry out its duties. We are confident it intends to carry out its duties, and although it would be a matter of immediate concern to this Government if it failed to do so, that is a prospect which I do not propose to contemplate. Some references have been made to the prospects of unity in Ireland. I do not propose to discuss this topic for the reason that I am sure, if unity in Ireland is to come, and is desired by both portions of the island, it will come much better without either party being preached at from this country and without any pressure being brought to bear on them.

This is an occasion on which the temptation to refer to the past is almost irresistible. I am glad to think it has very largely been resisted. I do not think it is profitable to go back to the past. That there have been failures in the; past I think we must all admit. I neither accept blame, nor do I desire to impute blame, for those failures. For myself, and I think I am speaking for the Members on this side of the House, we are looking to the future and not to the past. We believe and hope that the result of the new departure which this Bill enacts will be to wipe out memories of the past on both sides. The Southern Irish people have for many years demanded the control of their own destinies. By this Bill we are giving them that control. We are bestowing on them the same self-government as that under which our Dominions across the seas have built up their great and free communities. We are giving to them that same autonomy which those Dominions repay with that splendid loyalty and affection which we saw in the days of the Great War. We on this side of the Channel will watch with sympathy and goodwill the efforts of the Irish Free State. We realise they are face to face with great difficulties. We believe they intend loyally to carry out their bargain just as we are endeavouring to carry out ours. We can only hope and pray that they will achieve the same measure of success as their great sister nations have already achieved. Is it too much I hope that in the course of time they may feel the same affection for Great Britain and the same pride in being members of the great community of nations which we know as the British Empire as the other Dominions who have fought for us and beside us; and that they may join with us whole-heartedly in that splendid union which makes up our proud and mighty Empire.



Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

Does the hon. Member wish to raise a point of Order? He has already exhausted his right to speak.


I wished to know whether the Attorney-General would reply to the question about the Boundary Commission?

Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.