§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time".
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
We have now arrived, so far as this House is concerned, at the final stage of this Bill, which has been brought in by the Government in order to impose, if they consider it necessary, not certain duties but every kind of duty, not upon certain articles, but upon every class of article that comes from the Irish Free State to this country. We take definite exception to the Bill on the ground that it is vindictive and unnecessary, and that it is a. Bill which ought not to have been brought in until the Dominions Secretary had exhausted the very last avenue of the many avenues which he has explored and no doubt some of which he will continue to explore in the future. I use the expression in no invidious or objectionable manner when I refer to the extremely dogmatic attitude that has been taken up by the Dominions Secretary throughout the discussion of this Bill. For example, he informed the House that there would be no departure, so far as the British Govenment were concerned, from the line that they had adopted, and he added that the British Government had "gone to the limit". I submit that the limit can never be reached in any reasonable attempt to arrive at a specific settlement of something which is in dispute, not merely between two parties, but more particularly between two nations.
The two nations that are here in dispute are two nations between whom there ought to exist, and there have existed, the kindliest feelings and the greatest sincerity in trusting each other and believing that each would endeavour to do the honest thing. There are matters in dispute. Arbitration has been suggested. One of the parties, while prepared to accept arbitration, is at the same time actually thrashing the other or shaking a bludgeon, evidently intending to have its point of view carried through. There is a difference between 806 the representatives of the two countries as to what form the tribunal shall take. Surely it is not beyond the wit of this Government, in conjunction with the representative of the Irish Free State, to agree upon some form of tribunal that will be mutually acceptable. But the Dominions Secretary has laid it down very definitely that the tribunal must be a particular arbitration tribunal, drawn from the representatives of the Dominions.
The question was put to him during the Debate, whether, if two parties within the British Commonwealth of Nations had a dispute—Canada and South Africa were mentioned—and one of those parties desired to go outside the Empire in the selection of a tribunal, no exception could be taken to that course. The Dominions Secretary agreed that it was quite within the rights of a particular Dominion to insist upon the tribunal being one that would be selected from countries outside the Empire. In this dispute between this country and the Irish Free State the right hon. Gentleman by his action denies that. He is prepared to admit that Canada or South Africa, and I take it Australia or New Zealand, or any other Dominion in the British Empire in the case of a dispute, would have the right to go outside the Empire in the selection of a tribunal. But the Irish Free State, according to the right hon. Gentleman, is to have no right to go beyond the Imperial Conference or the British Commonwealth of Nations in selecting a tribunal to judge their claim and to decide upon the dispute which has arisen in this case between them and us.
In order to insist upon his point of view that the Irish Free State is the one British Dominion which has no right to go outside the British Commonwealth of Nations to obtain such a tribunal; in order to impose his will and insist upon his judgment and his point of view, the right hon. Gentleman has brought in this punitive Measure. He is adopting an attitude quite different from the attitude which he has adopted towards other Dominions. The House has a perfect right to reject this Bill in order to bring to their senses in this matter the Government for whom the right hon. Gentleman is spokesman. Certain documents and papers have been issued in connection with these discussions. We have had the correspondence between the right hon. 807 Gentleman and the representatives of the Irish Free State on the Land Purchase Annuities and we have had references to certain other documents, but it is peculiar that the right hon. Gentleman has made no reference whatever to an Act of Parliament which definitely annuls the terms of Article 5 of the Treaty.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
It is the Ireland (Confirmation of Agreement) Act 1925 and the Schedule to that Act states definitely:
The Irish Free State is hereby released from the obligation under Article 5 of the said Articles of Agreement to assume the liability therein mentioned.Article 5 of the "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland" states:The Irish Free State shall assume liability for the service of the public debt of the United Kingdom.The terms of the Act of 1925 from which I have quoted definitely annul that Article, and the application of anything within that Article to the Irish Free State. It is that point which is in dispute and, as far as I have followed the debates in this House, that point has not been met by the right hon. Gentleman or by any supporter of the Government. Certain references have been made to a Command Paper which appears in one of the yearly accounts books of the House of Commons dealing with the heads of a proposed ultimate financial agreement. The right hon. Gentleman has been in this House during all the time that I have been here, and long before I came here. I cannot remember and I am certain that he cannot remember and that the Member whose signature is to this document cannot remember, when any of these heads of agreement were submitted to this House for ratification. I refer to the Command Paper of 1926. These, as I said, are only the heads of an agreement which was to be arrived at but that agreement was never arrived at and evidently was never discussed.
Throughout this controversy the greatest secrecy has been observed by the various Governments which have been dealing with the matter. Here is a document which has evidently been on the files of the Dominions Office or one of the Government departments for eight or 808 nine years. No one in the House of Commons knew anything about it except those to whose care it was entrusted. But it is published in April of this year, and Members of this House of Commons, who had nothing to do with the conditions prevailing at the time when this document was drawn up, are invited to take it as though it had been accepted by the House of Commons. I wish to deny at once, as a member who was in the House of Commons at the time that such a document ever came before us. It was never submitted to the House of Commons and the Government have no right to bring it before the House now and ask us to accept it as having been agreed to by the House of Commons eight or nine years ago. I hope the House is going to reject the Bill. Let us be clear about the powers which the right hon. Gentleman is seeking in this Bill. He himself said:I am not going to disguise from the House for a moment that the powers which are asked for, and which will be exercised if it is necessary to exercise them, include everything that is imported into this country from the Irish Free State. It is only fair that I should leave the House in no doubt upon that point."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1932; col. 528, Vol. 268.]The right hon. Genetleman nods his head in agreement, so that passage evidently represents his considered opinion. The Bill relates to everything that comes from the Irish Free State. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to impose some kind of poll tax upon people who come from the Irish Free State to this country for a holiday? What are some of the things which comes here from the Irish Free State? There is livestock. The right hon. Gentleman is to impose a tariff upon livestock if he cares to do so. Then there are such articles as bacon and potatoes, and other foodstuffs. The right hon. Gentleman is to impose a tariff up to 100 per cent. upon those foodstuffs if he likes to do so. If only a few millions are at stake are we going to all this trouble to impose a punitive measure of this kind upon the Irish Free State in respect of a debt which they deny and the legality of which has not yet been decided? It has not yet been decided that they owe us the money. They deny that they owe it, and my reading of the documents connected with this case shows me that there are good grounds for their objection.
809 There seem to be good grounds for putting this case before an impartial tribunal before we take any action. We have here the Secretary of State for Dominions Affairs, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and we have had many other Members of the Government, including their legal advisers present during these Debates, but not one of them has yet arisen in the House and given us a legal opinion in this matter.
Mr. MAC LEAN
The hon. Member knows nothing about the Rules of Procedure, and therefore he knows nothing about that. The Chairman of the Committee is the one who said whether or not the Attorney-General was within his rights in rising, but there were occasions during the Debates on the Second Reading and in Commitee, and the opportunity has not gone yet from the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General to give us a legal opinion upon this dispute. What are you afraid of?
Mr. MA CLEAN
I am not afraid of you or anyone else. I have submitted that the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General have not given a legal opinion.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I see. The Leader of the House objected to any statement being made. That is something new, for the Leader of the House to object—
§ Mr. MACLEAN
It is something new for the Leader of the Opposition to dictate who shall or shall not speak.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
He did not. What he did say—and I was in the House at the time—was that he objected to a question being asked by a Member who later admitted that he was not going to be in the House to-day and therefore wanted that question answered last night, without any right of reply, according to the Chairman of the Committee, being given to any Member of this House. We certainly object to any statement being made by any Law Officer of the Crown that we are not going to be permitted to question or criticise if we consider it necessary. That is the right of every Member of the House, including the Hon. Member opposite, and as he learns more of the procedure of this House, he will be one of the very first to support the Leader of the Opposition in maintaining the rights of Members, wherever they sit, as to the procedure of this House.
The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have been left to carry the burden of this Bill. A legal opinion has not been given. Are they afraid of it? Is the memory of the Tory Government, now the National Government, still sufficiently quick to remember the large amount of money which the last legal opinion that was given by their Attorney-General cost this country, when it was affecting a similar place, namely, the Irish Free State? Do they remember the hundreds of thousands of pounds that it cost this country? Do they recall the fact that we had to pass an indemnifying Act to make it possible for the then Attorney-General to escape the financial liabilities of his legal opinion; and are they afraid that the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General might be placed in the same situation if they gave us a legal opinion on this question that is now in dispute with the Irish Free State?
All these facts—the indecent haste in rushing this Bill through when the matter is still in dispute, the fact that it is a punitive and vindictive Measure, the fact that the Government have been afraid to place before this House the 11.30 a.m. legal opinions of their own legal advisers, who draw £7,000 a year for giving advice to the Government and who cannot advise this 811 House evidently on this question, and the fact that they have not been brought here to given us their legal opinion on the merits of the dispute—not on the tribunal to be set up, which was the point last night—justify the Opposition in asking the House to reject this Bill.
§ Mr. COCKS
I see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on the Front Bench, and I would remind him that it was said of the House of Stuart that some extraordinary fatality attached to its destinies because, whenever an opportunity came to any member of that house, they always flung it away by some foolish, mistaken policy. It seems to me that some similar fatality attaches itself to the relations between this country and Ireland, that this country, so wise as a rule in Imperial and Colonial policy, has always failed when dealing with Ireland because it has always brought forward at the wrong time a Measure such as the one now before us. I am speaking here in the interests of peace. I want to make an appeal again to the Government in the interests of peace, and by peace I do not mean a peace of headlong surrender or a peace which will impose upon the already overburdened taxpayers of this country a single extra penny of taxation. I ask for peace by arbitration and by negotiation, because it has been admitted in this House that both sides to this dispute agree that the dispute must be settled by arbitration. Both sides have accepted the principle of arbitration, and the Irish Free State Government have placed the moneys in dispute in a suspensory account "in anticipation of arbitration." When that was announced in this House, the Secretary of State for the Dominions said:The issues are narrowed and are now much simpler. The task is much easier … The only issue is the form of the tribunal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th July, 1932; col. 107, Vol. 268.]That is the only issue. That is an issue which ought to be settled by further negotiations, and when you are engaged on such a point as that, to bring in a Bill like this is a profound mistake and might have disastrous and even fatal consequences. The Secretary of State once addressed to me across the Floor of the House a Latin phrase. I therefore gather that the right hon. Gentleman is a student 812 of the classics, and I would commend to him the words of an orator almost as famous as himself, a statesman who also dealt, in his time, with possessions over-seas and with an island. I commend to him these words of Cicero:It is the part of a prudent man to conciliate the minds of others and to turn them to his own advantage.There are many people in Ireland who disagree with Mr. de Valera and there is an organised party which is opposed to him, and it should be the task of the British Government, if they are sure of the justice of their case, to win to their support by their conduct all that is just and generous in Ireland. I am profoundly disturbed lest, as a result of bringing in this Bill, the Government will not only not conciliate those people, but will strengthen the hands of the extremists. I agree with every word that the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brahazon) said the other night on that subject. The danger is that you will strengthen the hands of the extremists and weaken the hands of all those who would do justice to England; the danger is that you will range the whole of Ireland as a single block in favour of Mr. de Valera and against this country. We know that the Irish people are not a people who give way easily to threats. We have tried that for 400 years and the history of those attempts has been a record of miserable failure. Whether we like the Irish people or not, we know that they are high-spirited and courageous, and a people with a long and bitter history. Without wishing to dwell on that, one must remember that it is a fact to be considered. There are some famous words on that subject which I should like tom quote. They are the words of a great English statesman:Nor has this history been only separate, it has been also sorrowful. It has been a history of pain and suffering beyond that of any known European nation; and for six centuries at least that suffering was, as the believes, mainly due to the conduct of England, which was one continuous effort to suppress her nationality and to afflict her people. 'The plowers ploughed upon her back and made long furrows'; and those deep lines of woe have consecrated in the mind of her children the name and idea of Ireland, so that, while other nations love their country, the Irish worship it. For 813 them their country concentrates and embodies, in the highest form, the ideal which religion attaches to the martyr.These are the words of the late Mr. Gladstone. The danger is that by the Government's policy you may cause those great tides of religious fervour and nationality to turn against this land at this moment. If you do that, you will strengthen the hands of the present Government in Ireland; you will get the people in Ireland to believe that we are threatening and attacking them and trying to ruin this trade, as in the past we did ruin it. If they think that that policy of England is to be repeated now the prospects of the future are very black. By it you will fortify Mr. de Valera in the opinion of his people; there may be retaliation, and as a result of retaliation there will be very serious consequences. I am not going to dwell upon this, however. I do not want even to think of it. Look, however, at the most dangerous position that will occur on the frontier of Ulster when a tariff is imposed. There are thousands of sympathisers of Mr. de Valera in Ulster, and if you attempt to impose a tariff barrier on the frontier, the danger is that there might be an uprising in Ulster and once again we may have bloodshed in Ireland and barricades erected in Downing Street.
On this side of the House we consider that further attempts should be made to secure a tribunal which will be satisfactory to both parties. If we cannot get that tribunal, the Government can always appeal to the great tribunal of the world. They can always put their case in simple and plain language that will appeal to the best feelings not only of the world but of Ireland, and range the whole world opinion on our side. It has always been the opinion of people who believe in the League of Nations that world opinion is a great moral force and that one nation can hardly stand out against it. In the meantime, we should use all the resources of diplomacy. I cannot understand why this country is represented at the Vatican if it is not for use in such circumstances as these.
Ireland believes that she has suffered in the past many great injustices at the hands of this country. It may be that an all-wise Providence has decreed that it is essential that this country shall suffer one injustice at the hands of Ireland before the memory of all those past 814 grievances is finally erased from the minds of the Irish people. It may be necessary for that to happen, but I believe that if the Government adopt a sensible and conciliatory attitude, an attitude of the highest statesmanship, they will bring to their side the best opinion in the world and in Ireland. And the result will be either that they will bring Mr. de Valera into a more reasonable frame of mind or that they will hasten forward the day when there will be set up again in Dublin a Government with which we can live in amity and with which we can co-operate for the future prosperity of both peoples. For these reasons, I beg the Government, even at this last moment, to withdraw the Bill and to allow reason, diplomacy and commonsense to operate and perhaps to bring victory out of seeming defeat.
§ Colonel Sir JAMES REYNOLDS
The weapon which the English Parliament has been almost forced to forge is now about to be placed in our hands, but we must remember that it is a double-edged weapon and that in its use it may hurt our own people as well as to bring forth money from the Irish nationalists. It is not a weapon that can be lightly used and should only be brought into use as a last resort when things are at a deadlock between us and Ireland. Ottawa is upon us, and it seems to me that of all the matters that will be under the consideration of the Conference the greatest is goodwill between the component parts of this great Commonwealth of Nations. I cannot imagine any matter that could be brought before Ottawa of greater moment than the relations between England and Ireland. The Irish people permeate all our Dominions and the whole of the English-speaking world, and I cannot help but feel that advantage should be taken of the great opportunity presented by Ottawa to make, as one of its first charges, the most strenuous endeavours to bring some accord between this Government and the Irish Government. It is an opportunity for the statesmen of the Empire to consider the action of Mr. de Valera from all points of view and to consider our responsibility in connection with what we feel is the great injustice that is sought to be put upon us.
I appeal to the Government to withhold the use of this weapon until Ottawa 815 has spoken. I appeal to them to give Ottawa a chance of adjusting this matter. Failing the co-operation of Ireland in any decision that Ottawa may arrive at, I agree that there are no possible other means by which we may obtain our rights than using this extremely dangerous and unsatisfactory weapon. Meanwhile, I think Ireland might be induced to put these monies, which she says she is placing to suspense accounts, into neutral accounts where they would be held for that side which obtains the verdict at what I hope would be a definitely just tribunal established by Ottawa. I think we ought to be determined not to force this quarrel with Ireland until we are absolutely driven to it by Ireland further disregarding the justice that the Empire must consider was her due.
§ Mr. MAXTON
In this calm air of the last Friday of the Parliamentary session anything in the way of a violent attack on this obnoxious Measure of the Government's would be completely out of place, particularly when I understand that all the more vital spirits in the House are watching battles being fought out on the cricket field. I congratulate the hon. Member who has just sat down on raising the voice of restraint from the Government ranks. There have not been many voices raised in that kind of warning—one was the voice of the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)—but I am quite sure there must be many in the ranks of the Government supporters who view with misgiving rather than with enthusiasm the policy adumbrated in this Measure. I hope the Minister himself will agree that in taking this step he is engaging in a very big gamble. He and others have been trying to describe the psychology of the Irish people and explain exactly how they will react to a given situation. I think I know the Irish people reasonably well. There are a considerable number of them in my Division, and over the years I have got to know them, and got to like them. I think that their courage and their good humour in very difficult circumstances is one of the brightest things in life at the present time. My closest associate in this House for many years was an Irishman whom the right hon. Gentleman knew well. I refer to my late colleague the right hon. John Wheatley. His political 816 genius and skill were, in my opinion, unequalled in any of the statesmen I have met in this House. The one thing I have learned from my association with Irishmen in this country is that no one can predict with certainty how they will react to a particular situation, and therefore I think it is a frightful risk that the Government are taking.
One other thing I would say to the Conservative Members in this House. The most important part of the policy of the National Government for dealing with the nation's economic difficulty is the application of tariffs. That again, is a tremendous experiment. My colleagues, who have no strong Free Trade views, have stood aside very largely from the controversy, and said: "Let it go ahead; let us see the experiment worked out to its conclusion; let it have every fair chance that its most enthusiastic apostles would like it to have." I ask those people whether it is wise, when we are making this very big economic experiment on a world scale, to introduce this foreign element, this using of the instrument of tariffs as a penal weapon, inserting this into the middle of your general tariff policy when it is only in its embryonic and experimental stage. I have heard hon. Members say that there is nowhere else where the Irish people can send their goods if the ports of this country are not open to them, and that the total amount of their trade is so small that there are any number of alternative markets from which we can draw supplies. I have given some thought to this matter, and I have had intimate contact with those who have given closer thought to it. One thing which those who have studied the subject are prepared to assert with certainty is that it is not the big mass bulk of any commodity which defines the economic position with regard to it, but the last fraction. It is that little bit extra that makes the difference. Although as regards a whole lot of commodities the Irish supplies may be only a fractional part of the total supply we get, it is an essential part, and it may quite well be that it will prove to be a factor upsetting whole markets in important commodities that are necessary to the life of this nation. I add my appeal to that of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I shall vote against the Third Reading of this Measure, just as I have voted against it in its preceding 817 stages; and though, quite obviously, the Government will get the powers they seek, still I would urge them to consider whether it would not be advisable, while having a giant's strength, to refrain from using it like a giant.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
It is obvious that some step of this kind has to be taken. What is the position? These annuities have been paid for years. They were money advanced to Irish farmers.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
They enabled the land to be acquired on cheap terms. As I said in a previous debate, I wish we had had such an advantage in the Highlands of Scotland. It would have been a great help to us, and we should not have been repopulated to the extent that we are. The loan of this money was a most generous thing. No doubt Ireland has suffered many grievances in the past, but she never suffered such treatment as we got at Culloden—never. She never suffered as we suffered there; but we do not cherish animosities after all these years for what we went through in those days. The money for the purchase of the land in Leland was provided by private people, and the principle we are standing up for here is that we do not propose to allow repudiation without protest, or without taking measures of some kind to protect ourselves. Every civilised country has that interest; otherwise, no country could carry on. It is one of the proud boasts of the Soviet Government that they have paid all their debts since the days of Tsardom—though in that case while they were pleased to take all the assets and would not assume any of the liabilities of the old State.
In this case we are dealing with a liability which the Irish farmers took on, and they have been discharging that liability. They hand the money to the Irish Free State Government, who have the duty of transmitting it here. I may add that the sum involved is not as much as the Free State have been taking out of Great Britain through the Irish sweepstakes in the last year and a-half—and it appears that it is going to be an annual sum, because they are going to continue those sweepstakes. Now this matter has been brought to a point where the real issue is apt to be obscured. A generous offer has been made by 818 the Secretary of State for the Dominions, in a full belief in the justness of his claim, to submit it to the arbitration of an Imperial tribunal. That would seem to imply that there was some doubt about our case. I do not think there is. Supposing we do get a tribunal. Look at the misrepresentation that we met with over the Boundary Commission! The hon. Member for Tyrone and Fermanagh (Mr. Devlin) denounced it in the most scathing terms, taking advantage of the fact that many Members of this House were very young men, or were even at school, when that tribunal functioned; but anybody who was interested in politics at that time knows perfectly well that that tribunal was wonderfully fairly constituted. There was a Member on it for the South, the Free State, of Ireland. He—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
On the Third Reading Debate we cannot refer to the Boundary Commission. There is nothing about that in the Bill.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
I submit to your Ruling. I was merely illustrating that there you had a completely constituted tribunal which was unanimous, even to Southern Ireland.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
It would be impossible to set up a tribunal which satisfied the hon. Gentleman, unless you could guarantee a decision in their favour beforehand, and that tribunal would not function. We had an interesting sidelight upon the sanctity of contracts when the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) spoke the other day. The sanctity of contracts is the very foundation of civilisation. We could not submit to the action of the Irish Government, and we had to take some steps to arm ourselves with the simplest of things which was based on the position: "If you do not hand over the money that you have collected to us, to whom it belongs, then we will collect some money at our ports on your importations" possibly very largely at the expense of the very farmers who could pay and no doubt will pay. The 819 Free State could use the money to pay the duties. With all respect to the point of view put forward by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) I certainly think that we should be a laughing stock of the world if we had allowed this member of the Irish race, who has not a majority in his own Parliament to have a victory over us in the presence of the Irish people, and if he had been permitted to get away with it. We could not let him say: "The way to make a profit in this world is to refuse to pay money you have collected. I have given the previous Irish Government a sound lesson. I have taught them the lesson that the way to deal with the British people is to get hold of anything you can from them and to refuse to pay." It would have been like the triumph of vice over virtue.
In the interests of morality and of the sanctity of contracts, we cannot agree to that. This is simply the most peaceful and the quietest possible way in which it could be done, and the fairest possible way. I have not the slightest doubt that it will be exercised with the greatest possible discretion. It will not give Mr. de Valera the triumph of being able to say to the Irish people: "Well I have pulled it off this soft easy-going race, the English; I have bluffed them again." The English will at least have shown that they have the strength to insist upon their rights, and the extent to which they use it will depend upon the circumstances in the time to come. It is no good saying that the Free State Government putting the money into a fund alters the situation, because, if the tribunal decided against them, they would say that it had decided wrongly, as they did in the case of the previous tribunal on the boundary. The money must be in the control of the tribunal, or it must be in neutral hands. If that is done, that will re-establish our good faith, which has sustained a shock by the repudiation of a contract.
§ Mr. HEALY
The term "repudiation" has been used a good deal in this Debate. The Irish people and the 12 n. Irish Government have never repudiated this debt, or any legal debt. Mr. de Valera's correspondence with the Dominions Secretary has made it perfectly clear that if it can be 820 shown that the debt is either legally or morally due every obligation of the Free State will be honourably met. Therefore, when hon Members use the term. "repudiation", they do so without taking into consideration the relevant facts of the situation. The Dominions Secretary throughout these Debates has not described the matter as it ought to have been described. He has been dealing, both in the correspondence and in the speeches, with two agreements, neither of which have ever been ratified by this House or by the Dublin Parliament of the Irish Free State. On the contrary, he has been ignoring the relevant document, namely, the agreement of 1925, which had the same force as the Treaty. He spoke the other day, drawing an analogy as between a trade union and the Irish Government, and he asked what would happen if there was repudiation of an agreement entered into between employers and employés. The particular agreement to which he refers is dated 1923, and that agreement from 1923 to 1932 has never seen the light of day.
If there was nothing to conceal, why did the British Government refuse to print the document? Why did they refuse to make it a part of the legal documents laid on the Table of this House? If there was nothing to conceal, why was it hidden in manuscript in the archives of the Home Office and in the pigeonholes of the Ministry of Finance in London and Dublin respectively for nine years? That document could never have been put before the people by Mr. Cosgrave or anyone else; if it had been, they would have repudiated it, as they have now, because it was an agreement which in itself would have repealed the Treaty. Article 5 of the Treaty said that Ireland was responsible for her share of the public debt of the United Kingdom, with a set-off for any sums to which she was entitled by over-taxation, and which had been held by the Childers Commission to be £2,000,000 a year. The agreement of 1925 was supplementary to the Treaty, and said that Ireland's liability to contribute to the public funds was cancelled, and, therefore, the undertaking of 1923 was cancelled too. The Dominions Secretary has never said one word in reference to the 1925 agreement, which was signed by the Ministers of both 821 countries and ratified by both Parliaments, but, instead, he barks back to an agreement which had no sanction whatever but that of two signatures, and had never been submitted to this House, had never been printed, and had been concealed from the public for all these years.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
Is it not the case that this agreement was effective for a period of 10 years by the transmission by the Cosgrave Government of the sums contemplated by it; and was it not that circumstance which gave rise to Mr. de Valera's complaint which he placed before the electorate?
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I am sorry to interrupt again, but it is important that this matter should be made quite clear. Is it not the case that the payments in respect of these annuities were transmitted by the Irish Government in pursuance of this agreement for a period of 10 years; and is it not the case that that circumstance gave rise to Mr. de Valera's complaint and to the issue which he placed before the electorate?
§ Mr. HEALY
All the sums of money transmitted with respect to the Land Annuities and these other matters which Mr. de Valera now raises have been sent provisionally pending the ultimate financial settlement for which the Treaty provided. I hope that the hon. and learned Member understands that now; if he will read the relevant documents, he will see that it is made perfectly clear. I say that the ultimate financial settlement provided for in the Treaty has never been reached, and that the agreement of 1923, on which the Secretary of State for the Dominions is relying, is one that is in its conception an exceedingly discreditable one. If there was nothing to conceal about this document of 1923, why should it not have been printed? I endeavoured to search in the Library of this House six months ago to see if any such document existed, and I could not find it. I went to the right hon. Gentleman, and he could not give me a copy of it. The Irish Department could 822 not give me a copy of it, and ultimately Mr. de Valera dragged it out of them. It was kept concealed in the pigeon-holes of the Home Office and the Dominions Office.
There has been no repudiation of the Free State's liability in this respect; the question is whether there is a liability; and Mr. de Valera did not proceed as recklessly as the Secretary of State for the Dominions would have us believe to issue an edict of repudiation. He took up the perfectly constitutional position of putting the whole of the relevant documents before five eminent counsel, and two of those counsel are people who are bitterly opposed to him, so that he was actuated by the very highest motives in getting the best and most disinterested advice that he could get with regard to his liability in this matter. All this time, however, the document on which the Secretary of State for the Dominions relies was lying hidden, concealed not only from the people of this country, but from the people of the Free State as well. These counsel decided, with all the documents before them, that there was a strong legal doubt as to whether the Free State was responsible for the Land Annuities or the other payments, including the Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions, Local Loans Account and some other matters.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
Is it within the knowledge of the hon. Member that Mr. de Valera then sent a memorandum or communication to that effect to the Dominions Secretary? Did he communicate with the Dominions Secretary at all to begin with, after he got that advice?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
I only intervene so that the hon. Member may be under no misapprehension. He has made statements repeatedly about this secret document, and has said that there was no ultimate financial settlement, I have here the White Paper itself, and it is headed, "Heads of the Ultimate Financial Settlement between the British Government and the Irish Free State. In the first pararaph it says: 823The Government of the Irish Free State undertakes to pay to the British Government at agreed intervals the full amount of the annuities accruing due from time to time under the Irish Land Act.That is the opening pargraph. The final paragraph says:For the purposes of any previous agreement between the two Governments this agreement shall be deemed to be the ultimate financial settlement mentioned therein.That was dated 19th March, 1926, and it was signed by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Winston Churchill) on behalf of the British Government.
We need not discuss that. When a Minister signs any document for the Government, he signs it on behalf of the Government.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman this question? I read out an Act of Parliament the Schedule to which annuls Article 5 of the Treaty. The heads of the ultimate financial agreement from which the right hon. Gentleman has now read violate that Act of Parliament, and I want to ask him if he can indicate to the House where a Command Paper has had the power to suspend, or amend, or annul any Act of Parliament that has been passed by this House?
I have understood all through the Debate prior to to-day, and the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke emphasised it again and again, that he did not desire to go into the merits. As he rightly put it, that is a matter to be settled by arbitration, and I equally, throughout the whole of the Debate, never went into the merits for that reason; but the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy) has said repeatedly that there was no agreement and that there was no ultimate financial settlement. I only rose to tell him that this was a Command Paper which was published in 1926, signed by the night hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping and by Mr. Cosgrave on behalf of both their Governments, and which has been in operation for 10 years.
The money has been paid for the whole of the period, and since 1926 there has been no dispute until now.
§ Mr. HEALY
The Dominions Secretary draws a comparison between the agreement signed in 1926, which is called the ultimate financial agreement, and the agreement signed in 1925, which was an agreement amending and supplementing the Articles of the Treaty. I pointed out that the 1925 Agreement, on which the Irish Free State relies, says,Signed on behalf of the British Government and on behalf of the Government of the Free State and of Northern Ireland.and the names are given—the Prime Minister, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and so on. But this document of 1926, on which the right hon. Gentleman is relying now, had never been authorised. It was never ratified, and it is certainly nothing more than a departmental agreement between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Finance in Dublin. It does not show, on the face of the document, that it was signed on behalf of either Government, or that they had authority to sign it. If this document was cancelling Article 5 of the Treaty, why was it not duly authorised as the agreement of 1925, which had the full approval both of the Government here and of the Government of the Irish Free State? I hold, therefore, that the Irish people believe, having had the views of eminent counsel, that they are not legally responsible for the Land Annuities or the other payments. Why are they not responsible for the Land Annuities? It is because those Annuities form part of the public debt of the United Kingdom, and they were expressly excluded from contributing to the public debt of the United Kingdom. Why should they, in 1926, assume responsibility
§ Mr. HEALY
It was part of the public debt of the United Kingdom during all the years of partnership. Why should they pay this part of the public debt, and not contribute to every public debt of this Empire, to all your investments abroad to public buildings in this country, the Suez Canal and so on? Therefore, the purchase of Irish land was exactly on the same footing as any other public debt of this country, and when you entered into agreement with the Irish Free State, it was said specifically that the Irish Free State was not to be responsible for the public debt of the United Kingdom. That was something which the Irish people understood. That the Land Annuities were a public debt of the United Kingdom is shown by your own financial statements published from time to time, and as late as 1924. They were voted by the Treasury. The Treasury bore the loss on the flotation of the land stock. The Treasury paid for the bonus given to the Irish landlords. You cannot hold it a private debt as between the tenant farmers on the one hand and the Treasury here. It was as much a part of the public debt as any other debt incurred for the service of the State, and, taking their stand on that point, the Irish Free State say that they have no moral or legal responsibility for either the Land Annuities or the other sums mentioned in Mr. de Valera's last despatch.
There is more than that in the matter. If the Irish Free State has responsibility for paying £5,000,000 a year to this country, it means that the Irish Free State is responsible for one-fifth of its whole Budget income. No country could stand sending out one-fifth of its annual budget to any other country. It would become bankrupt. You could not do that in relation to your debt to America. No country could go on paying £5,000,000 for a debt which was at one time part of the debt of the United Kingdom. If you take by contrast the financial position of Northern Ireland and that of the Free State, the relative taxable capacity of those countries was 56 and 44 per cent. To-day, Northern Ireland is not able to contribute anything reasonable to the Exchequer. I make that confession quite confidently. If Northern Ireland, with all the privileges which it possesses owing to its close connection with the United Kingdom, cannot pay £1,000,000 a year, 826 how do you expect the Irish Free State to contribute £5,000,000 a year? For the last five years Northern Ireland has received from Great. Britain a sum of £6,000,000 odd, and she has paid in the same period by way of imperial contributions £4,000,000, so that she is actually the gainer. In that same period you ask the Irish Free State to pay a sum of £25,000,000. The thing is impossible.
Let me tell the House something of the story of the Land Annuities. It is perfectly true that Mr. Cosgrave has transmitted the full amount of the Land Annuities for a period of 10 years. But how? Mr. Cosgrave never collected the full amount of the Land Annuities from the farmers. They were not able to pay it, and from time to time, in the accounts of the county councils, you will find that sums of relatively large amounts have been charged against the county councils owing to the failure to the tenants to pay the Land Annuities. Therefore, you have this super-generosity of Mr. Cosgrave sending across £3,000,000 of Land Annuities, a considerable proportion of which he has never received. That, on the face of it, was not justice. It was not justice to the general taxpayers of the country. Mr. Cosgrave had no right to interfere as between the tenants and to assume their responsibility to the Exchequer here, but he did that, and the injustice of the thing was so apparent that year by year the taxpayers became more clamant, until Mr. Cosgrave's Government collapsed at the last election.
There is another point. It would appear from the discussions in this House as if Mr. de Valera were collecting the Land Annuities in full for the current year. He has done nothing of the kind. Only a small proportion of the Land Annuities is actually in hand at this moment under the Suspense Account. Mr. de Valera or his Government do not hold probably anything like one-tenth of the Land Annuities for the current year.
§ Mr. HEALY
They have never been able to pay. There is a large proportion of people who have not escaped the economic consequences that have struck all 827 other parts of the country and they have not paid for years. The Free State Government have had to make it good out of revenue. On the merits of the case the Irish people have a perfectly good case to make, and there is all the more reason why you should refer this to some independent tribunal. Mr. de Valera and the Irish people remember the unfortunate result of the Boundary Commission. Words which on the face of them meant that the wishes of the inhabitants would be consulted were never carried out. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten) is wrongly informed with regard to that. The Commission was not unanimous. There was a majority report. The British representative and the Northern Ireland representative, as one would anticipate, came to a unanimous decision.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
There is no doubt whatever that the decision was unanimous and you did not want it published.
§ Mr. HEALY
The agreement was never published, but I am in a position to know as much about it as the hon. Gentleman and I know that the Free State representative never agreed to the suggested settlement. Mr. de Valera and the Government had that fact in mind when they refused to accept a Dominion umpire. If the Dominions Secretary is really anxious to have this matter settled, he can have it settled on the terms of referring it to someone who will not be suspect. Any Empire tribunal would not be acceptable after our experience of the Boundary Commission. It is only a matter of yesterday. We cannot forget an incident of that kind.
§ Mr. HEALY
I do not know that anything that I can say would have any effect on the Dominions Secretary. I have heard an eloquent and moving appeal made to him from his own back benches. I would ask him to remember that, looking down the long vista of the years in this country's dealings with Ireland, it is not the statesmen who have pursued a diehard policy who are remembered with thankfulness and with generosity. It is those who have endeavoured to conciliate, to heal up old wounds and to smooth away difficulties. The right hon. Gentleman 828 has done nothing except to say, "So long as we have the selection of the tribunal, so long as we can define the area from which the tribunal is to be selected, you can have any tribunal you like." That is precisely the point that Mr. 12.30 p.m. de Valera objects to. The selection of the umpire ought not to be left to the decision of one side. If, for instance, two people were at law and someone suggested the appointment of an umpire who should be a lawyer, I do not think that would be acceptable to either party, although lawyers are recognised as being very honest people. When the Minister offers arbitration subject to certain limitations, he destroys the goodwill, the bona fides and the honesty which should precede any offer of the kind.
§ Mr. DENMAN
When a dispute of this kind is in progress one speaks with reluctance, because language is perilous and there is always the danger of increasing the area of the dispute rather than diminishing it. If one were to follow the last speaker into the merits of the case—not that I have the knowledge that he has of the subject—one might very easily do no more than aggravate a difficult situation. But it is perfectly clear that the House is practically unanimous on several points. We all deplore this dispute. We all want it honourably settled. There are other points on which we are very nearly in agreement. No one supposes that the Government could have viewed placidly the non-payment of sums which have been paid for some time without objection and without any misgivings. Suddenly a source of supply of our Budget is cut off. Clearly no Government could accept that. They are bound to make a protest and to endeavour to raise the money. Failing some agreed settlement, surely it is the business of the Government to attempt to raise money in order to Ell the deficit in their budget by such means as they best can.
A second point on which we are very largely agreed is that this particular method, which is the only One that has been before the House throughout these Debates, is an extremely regrettable one. No one likes it. It has all conceivable objections. If A does not pay you money that you want from him, it is very unsatisfactory to have to go to B and C to get it. It is clear that the people who will pay through the opera- 829 tion of this Bill will in very few instances be the people who would have paid if it came in the ordinary process of the Irish Government. You will not be getting it in the same way or with the same justice. You will be getting it, no doubt, from some Irish farmers who may have already paid their annuities. If you do not get it from the Irish, you are getting it from people you do not want to get it from. In any case, the great mass of what you will be obtaining will not be obtained from those from whom you want to obtain it. Who really wants to add to the difficulties of the Irish farmer? Who wants to add to the difficulties of any farmers anywhere at the present time? No one wants to put a burden on producers of Ireland in order to satisfy the necessities of this dispute. Still less does anyone want the purchaser of Irish livestock to have to contribute his part. The method is deplorable, but it is the only one available.
The Government are under no illusions. The Secretary of State made it clear that the Government understood all the imperfections of this method of raising the money. Therefore, we are agreed that it is a most unpleasant way of doing it. There is one further point of agreement. We all want the Government to exhaust every means of negotiation before putting this deplorable instrument into operation. I should like to associate myself with the request of the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Reynolds). Is it necessary to bring the Bill into operation at once? Cannot we have just sufficient time for delay to allow of the work of trying to find a settlement? We are aware in this House that Ottawa is an economic conference and is not called for anything of this sort, but still there will be responsible representatives there from all over the Empire, and, surely, a little goodwill in negotiations at Ottawa might provide the necessary tribunal. I make no complaint of anything which the Secretary of State has said throughout these Debates. I think that he has shown every endeavour to conciliate. He has gone an enormous way in offering to Mr. de Valera the device of his own type of tribunal. Indeed, on the Second Reading I came to the House with an Amendment to suggest that in Committee the operation 830 of the Bill should be postponed until the 15th August, and that it should only come into operation if the Ottawa Conference had failed to find a satisfactory tribunal. I did not suggest it because it seemed to me that the Secretary of State had made so generous an offer in the matter of the choice of tribunal that one could not really ask him to do any more.
Now that the Bill is about to receive the Third Reading, may I make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman—I do not know whether it is possible to appeal to anyone else—to make one more attempt before bringing it into operation to settle this matter by negotiation. Ottawa, surely, would supply the atmosphere. Although it is not called for any political purposes whatever, we shall have there people who can bring the friendly touch. They will be there in association with the Irish Free State representatives and with our own representatives, in association with all the friendly influences of the Empire, to try and bring this dispute to an end. Is it also of any use to appeal to the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Devlin) whether he cannot among his people rather ease the situation? I regard him as the representative par excellence of South Ireland, the only one left to us in this House. We remember the days when those benches were full of them, and he will remember the days when he and I were continually in the same Lobby in the interests of Irish people. I am never quite happy when I am in a different Lobby from the hon. Member, but he knows that there is in this House a consistent desire of friendliness towards Ireland. This is not a quarrel between the Irish people and the English people at all; it is a difficulty between Governments. We have to support our Government, because we think that our Government is right, and so on the other side, but there is no real hostility among the peoples towards each other. The hon. Member knows that, and therefore cannot he help the people in Ireland to realise that there is no racial or any of those ancient animosities which used to divide us. We are at one in desiring settlement.
§ Mr. DENMAN
I think that I would accept him in almost any capacity per- 831 sonally. I have no authority to speak for anyone else. May I close with an appeal that all the influences which we can amass within this House to settle this dispute shall be amassed this afternoon, and everyone who can help I call upon to do so.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I do not intend to deal with the merits of the dispute between the Government of Mr. de Valera and this Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Dominions Secretary said he had never dealt with the merits of the case. I do not know what he calls dealing with the merits, but I should think that a position in which one says, "I am entirely right and the other man is entirely wrong," might be held in some respect to deal with the merits. I want to bring home to the House that this is not a hole-and-corner squabble about money. It is not a matter which can be settled in that way. When the British case is put, it is not enough to satisfy the back benches in this House. We have to put a sound case before the whole world, because it is an international matter. You cannot in these days keep a question between the Irish Free State and this country from being discussed all over the world. It is going to be discussed not only wherever there are Irishmen—and where in the world are there not Irishmen—but by people of intellect and learning, whether Irish or not—some of them may be Irish and some French—interested in international questions in every country of the world. They want to know how we are handling our case.
I suppose that there is no question occupying the world so much as the question of the payment of debts and the remission of debts. Leading members of the Government at the present time are discussing the question of the remission of debts. Therefore, in this matter it is desirable that the British case should be put absolutely plainly. For that reason, I wish very much that someone would wind up the Debate on behalf of the Government who will put the case in temperate and reasonable language instead of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. The compliment was paid to him that he was something like a lawyer. I do not think that all his forensic devices were very happy. He took up a good deal of time in trying to arouse 832 prejudice against the Irish Free State from the fact that they had not accepted a Dominions tribunal. He endeavoured to make out—he said it more than once—that they had agreed at the last Imperial Conference to accept a certain form of tribunal for their disputes. Eventually, he had to confess that he was inaccurate on that point, but it had been used to create a kind of prejudice, which was unnecessary and undesirable, as this is a contest between two members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It was designed perhaps to appeal to the type of mind which indicated that anyone who did not take exactly the same view as the right hon. Gentleman was anti-British, and thereby, of course, ruled out Irishmen from any membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. That is not the type of men to whom a speech ought to be addressed in this House on this important subject. I. should have been glad if the Leader of the House could have replied, because he would have lifted the debate from the kind of atmosphere which, unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman has imported into it. I am not blaming specially the right hon. Gentleman. He cannot get away from his own nature. It is always a tragedy when people do not realise what they are fit for. There are many comedians who wish they could play in tragedy. The right hon. Gentleman is rather apt to think that he can take on a very difficult job, when it could be much better done by somebody else.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Major Elliot)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but I would remind him that we have had a very good atmosphere in the House this morning. Bearing in mind the value of a peaceful discussion here of this enormously important problem, I do beg of him to exercise the greatest restraint.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I am prepared to do so, but I cannot forget that the debate has continued for some days, that it began in a good atmosphere, and I hope that it is going to close in a good atmosphere, but through the handling of it by the Government representative there has been imported a great deal of passion that was entirely unnecessary and that would not have been imported if someone else had handled it. It is very important as to who is going to handle the matter. I 833 do not deny that there are Members of the Government who would have handled it admirably, but I do not think that it has been admirably handled by the right hon. Gentleman.
We have to remember that this Bill is a method of economic warfare, and we ought to have hesitated very long before embarking upon it. I cannot believe that any very great haste was necessary in taking action immediately the money was due. I think it was a mistake from the point of view of our position before the world. It was also a mistake when we are dealing with the psychology of the Irish people. The only plea that has been put forward is that we had no alternative because we could not balance our Budget without this money. Everyone will agree that that was a very false point. It is suggested that if we cannot come to an agreement with Mr. de Valera we have no option but to put in the brokers and extract our money. I suggest that that is not the only alternative. That is a line that has been taken with most disastrous results in international affairs during the last 10 years. That was the line taken by France when they put the brokers into the Ruhr, and I do not think that anyone will suggest that that was a fortunate action. The contrary method has been increasingly adopted by way of the forgiveness of debt. I do not want to put a charge upon our people, but I do believe that we are going to put a heavy charge upon them by the results that will flow from this action. I read a remarkable article the other day in a bankers' magazine. In that magazine there was a series of articles dealing with the whole question of debts and reparations between France and Germany, by high technical authorities, and those articles were followed by a very remarkable article which suggested that in dealing with international and financial matters it might be worth while to apply Christian principles. The Christian prayer is:Forgive us our trespasses.The old form was:Forgive us our debts as we hope to be forgiven our debts.That is a prayer which might well be uttered by this country and by most countries at the present time. I do not believe that we should have a great loss if we forgave this particular debt. The passing of this Bill is not the right line to adopt. The true Christian policy is 834 also the true statesmanlike policy, and if the Government had taken that line, disregarding what other people had done, whether they were right or wrong, they might have made a great step towards cementing the British Commonwealth of Nations. As it is, I fear that this precipitate and ill-judged action will go far to breaking up that comity among the nations of the British Commonwealth which we hoped was going to be one of the great forces in promoting the peace of the world.
§ Mr. NUNN
I should like, as a very modest back bencher to echo the sentiments of the hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman). I feel certain that within the calmer air of the House this morning hon. Members on the Opposition benches will recognise that there is no feeling of animosity against the people of Ireland on the part of those who sit on this side. What quarrel there is, what dispute there is is not with the people of the Irish Free State but with a particular leader. We feel that the Irish Free State at this moment is being badly led, and I should not like in this atmosphere to-day that those who are strong partisans of the Irish Free State's attitude of this question should think that Members of the National Government party have any animosity whatsoever against the people of the Irish Free State.
I rose to make one point in connection with the speech of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy). He made two points, but before I deal with them I should like to observe that the dispute has narrowed itself down to practically one point, that of arbitration. Arbitration was offered first by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and arbitration eventually will occur. The only dispute in connection with arbitration is the form of the tribunal. The hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone based his case upon the agreement of 1925, which amplified and amended the agreement of 1921. The further point made by the hon. Member was that the land annuities were part of the public debt of this country, but the Agreement of 1921 rendered the Irish Free State liable to meet that public debt. The agreement of 1925 relieved it of that liability. The hon. Member did not men- 835 tion that in Article 5 of the Agreement of 1921 it was definitely laid down that if any dispute arose as to the payment of these sums there should be arbitration. The following are the words:The sums being determined in default of agreement, by the arbitration of one or more independent persons, being citizens of the British Empire.I draw the attention of those hon. Members who have been supporting the case of the Irish Free State to the fact that in 1921, the agreement upon which the hon. Member based his case, it was definitely laid down that the tribunal should consist of citizens of the British Empire.
§ Colonel GRETTON
Few hon. Members who have taken part in the Debate have pointed out the strength of the British case. Those who represent English constituencies have been only too eager to attempt to give something more away and to induce the Secretary of State to make further concessions. Those of us who have been in this House a long time remember well the circumstances in which the Irish Free State was set up. The Irish question is ever with us. How has this matter arisen? An election has taken place in the Irish Free State and the party of Mr. de Valera has come into office, whose avowed object it is to break the connection between this country and the Irish Free State and to become independent of the British Empire and the British Commonwealth of nations. The first step was to repudiate the Oath of Allegiance and the next to refuse the payment of these annuities with which we are dealing to-day. If that is the object and policy as declared by the Government now in office in the Irish Free State there is little hope of an amicable settlement, and the matter will have to proceed. We all regret that come other form of settlement has not been possible.
What are these annuities? Some hon. Members do not appear to apprehend what occurred. There had been constant disputes and difficulty about the terms of land tenure in Ireland and various Land Acts were passed and rent courts set up, and rents fixed. Mr. George Wyndham when Secretary of State for Ireland brought in a new scheme, under which the Government made a round sum contribution of £13,000,000, and the tenants had the offer to become owners of their 836 land on the payment of a certain sum into the sinking fund, to expire in 60 years. There was no compulsion about that scheme, and it was accepted almost universally because the offer was most favourable. In many cases the annual payment, including the payment of interest and sinking fund, was considerably less than the rent fixed for the land by the Rent Court. The Wyndham Act became universal in the South of Ireland. The money had to be raised. It was raised by land stock on the good faith and the belief that these payments would be met, in the same way that funds are raised for dock undertakings and many other matters, and the Government gave its guarantee to those who subscribed to this stock.
When the Irish Free State was set up it was most inconvenient, if not impracticable, that the British Government should make itself responsible for the collection of debts in a country with a Dominion status, and Mr. Cosgrave took the sensible and obvious course of saying that they would collect the money and hand it over to the stock holders. That has been done until quite recently with surprisingly little default. It has tended to increase during the last year or two owing to the hard times in Ireland. Now Mr. de Valera's Government says that these payments shall no longer be made. It was part of the election programme which put Mr. de Valera into 1.0 p.m. office that the land annuities should not be paid. Indeed, some of the followers and supporters of the present government in the Irish Free State went further and said that these land annuities need not be paid at all. Hence the difficulty which has arisen. They have not been collected in full. What is the position of arbitration on this matter? Owing to the action of the party now in office these payments are not forthcoming. The Irish Government refuse to pay. They say that what they have collected they will put into a suspense account and hold it up. Then the guarantee of the British Government has to come into operation. We cannot afford to default, we must carry out our word, and, therefore, the sums due on the annuities will have to be found out of the pockets of the British taxpayer. That is the real position. They do not belong to the Irish Government. They belong to those who subscribed and found the 837 money in the form of Irish land stock, arid such an investment has never been part of the National Debt.
§ Mr. HEALY
Irish land stock has always been part of the public debt of the United Kingdom. I refer the hon. and gallant Member to a document published in 1922 in which it says that the guarantee of the Consolidated Fund is behind the Irish land stock. That disappeared in 1923, by Command Paper No. 1824, and this is the first time that the British Government have ever said or indicated that Irish land stock did not form part of the National Debt.
§ Colonel GRETTON
It was a commercial transaction between the lenders of the money and the holders of the land. I have not seen the documents which the hon. Member has quoted, but there have been mistakes in Government papers before and I want to know a little more about it before I accept his interpretation. There are in dispute other matters of a total of £1,800,000, due to the transfer of powers from the British Government to the Irish Free State, but they are Irish charges not British charges. I rose to put the British case. This is not our dispute. There is in this country nothing but friendly feeling towards the Irish people. We want to live in amity with them. I have heard it frequently said that the one great advantage of the Irish Treaty of 1922 was that it got rid of the Irish question. Now the Government of the Irish Free State is raising the Irish question again in an acute form. They did not approach the Government in London any say that they found it difficult to pay these annuities, and desired to discuss the matter. They declared that they would withhold these payments and that in no circumstances were they going to pay them.
The matter is most regrettable. After all, we in this House have a duty to perform. We represent British constituencies and we have to defend the rights and the pockets of our constituents. There is a limit to concession. The British Government in their dealings 838 with Ireland have shown a conciliatory spirit, but one concession has simply led to others, and to more clamorous and exorbitant demands. We have arrived at a point at which further conciliation is impossible. I regret that the Secretary for the Dominions has gone so far. What can be more reasonable than the position of the British Government in saying, "We will arbitrate", though what there is to arbitrate on it is most difficult to understand. We are willing to arbitrate and to submit our case to a tribunal recommended fully and unanimously by the last Imperial Conference, a Conference attended by representatives of Ireland.
I hope and trust that the Government will not mislead anyone further by promises or appearances of concession. The time has come when we can give way no more. Much as I regret it, much as all my friends regret it, this matter has to be settled in one way or another. We do not want to use any weapon. To fight is repugnant when one has no desire to fight. I hope that the Government will use discretion in using the means provided in this Bill, and will not make them more onerous or press them more hardly than is required by the conditions that exist. I have often criticised the Government on the question of Ireland, and I have ventured some crtieism now, but I shall support this Bill because it is the only means by which we can effectively defend British interests at the moment.
§ Mr. PIKE
As one who has taken a small interest, during a short life, in the Irish problem, I must say that I have been extremely perplexed at the many statements which have been made during the progress of this Bill by those who are opposed to it. No statement have perplexed me more than those that have come directly from hon. Members who claim to speak on behalf of the Irish people and who represent Irish constituencies. We have heard this morning that Mr. de Valera's action is justified because there never was an agreement that held the Irish Free State responsible for payment of these annuities. It is said that a certain mutual agreement was drawn up but that it was of such a nature that the British Government dare not publish it. The hon. Member 839 who made that statement does not deny that there was a document. What he does deny is that it is obligatory on the Free State to meet the terms of the document. The hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy) asked why the British Government did not publish the document. Considering the time that the terms of the document have been complied with by the Irish Free State, it is only natural for us here to ask why is it that the Irish Free State since 1926 have met the terms of the document, whether it was an agreement or not?
The Free State have ratified that agreement by making continuous payments, averaging over £5,250,000 a year, until the current year. In my opinion that is the greatest justification for the case of the British Government. Is the fact that there has been an election in Ireland and that the form of Government has slightly changed, any justification for the withholding of these payments? That is the case which opponents of the Bill have not answered but have avoided in every possible way. Mr. Cosgrave was willing to meet the terms of this agreement. The election in Ireland was not an election that justified the holding back of these payments. Mr. de Valera is not in the majority. Had he, during the general election, submitted that if returned on a minority vote he would seek the support of the Labour party in withholding these payments, I am confident that the Irish Labour party during the period of the election would not have assented to such a proposition. But having been returned on a minority vote, and having secured the support of the Irish Labour party members in the Dail to the proposition respecting the withdrawal of the Oath, Mr. de Valera now goes a step further and secures, on the terms of the previous agreement, the Labour party's support to the withholding of these payments.
If the temporary agreement that, it is alleged, was drawn up, makes these payments inevitable, and if the payments are damaging to the general financial interests of the Irish Free State, it is more likely that the Irish people will get an agreement from the Government of Great Britain more favourable to themselves by meeting their obligations than they will get by withholding pay- 840 ments. The whole case against the Bill has been founded on the alleged fact that Mr. de Valera, by agreement previously drawn up, is entitled to withhold these payment. The case of the official Opposition is that there never was an agreement. The case of the unofficial Opposition is that if there was an agreement, Mr. de Valera is not responsible for anything which his predecessors may have done in regard to making the Irish people liable for these payments. Are we to take the case of the official Opposition or the case of the unofficial Opposition, as being right? There has been no unanimity of purpose in the opposition to this Bill and I submit that in fact there can be no sincere opposition to the passage of this Measure. The hon. and gallant Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Reynolds) introduced an entirely new note and one with which, I am sure, we would all be inclined to agree but a case has already been stated against the merits of his appeal. The dispatch which was sent to the Dominions Secretary by Mr. de Valera on 16th June, says:The Government of the Irish Free State accepts the principle of arbitration and agrees that a tribunal of the general character outlined in the report of the Imperial Conference of 1930 would he suitable but is unable to agree to the restriction of the personnel of the tribunal solely to citizens of the States of the British Commonwealth.If we stay the execution of this Measure until Ottawa what could we possibly hope to get from Ottawa other than the suggestion already made by the right hon. Gentleman that he is prepared to abide by whatever ruling the Ottawa Conference may give?
§ Mr. PIKE
The right hon. Gentleman has said quite definitely that he is prepared, if Mr. de Valera is also prepared, to let the matter go to the arbitration of an Imperial tribunal and to submit to whatever ruling that tribunal chooses to give. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I believe I am indicating correctly the atmosphere which the right hon. Gentleman intended to create by the words which he used. The Government are prepared to accept such a tribunal. There is no doubt on that matter. They are prepared to accept a tribunal such as was laid down by the Imperial Conference provided that 841 Mr. de Valera is prepared on his part to let the matter go to an Imperial tribunal. But Mr. de Valera's case is that he will not allow it to go to an Imperial tribunal. He has already said that in his opinion if it went to an Imperial tribunal the dice would be loaded against him and against the Irish people. My hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy) appears to agree with that statement. Personally, much as I would like to see a stay of execution, in the hope that more favourable conditions might result from it, I am convinced that no good purpose could be served by such a course.
It would show great weakness on our part and would give added strength to Mr. de Valera who, I am honestly of opinion, does not speak on behalf of the people of Ireland. Nor does he speak to any extent for the Irish people outside Ireland. I live in a village in which 75 per cent. of the population of 3,000 are Irish. I have not met a single one of them—although they all voted against me at the Election—who will say a single word of agreement with the policy which is being pursued by Mr. de Valera. Any suggestion such as that of the hon. and gallant Member for the Exchange Division would only delay matters and would probably create greater perplexities for the Government in the near future than those which will arise if they go forward, as they are justly entitled to go forward, with this Measure. I would call the attention of the House to a statement by the Leader of the unofficial Opposition. He introduced several significant remarks in his speech this morning and this was one of them. "Was it wise," he asked, "to introduce the foreign element of using tariffs as a penal weapon?" I should say that, to a large extent, the case of the Opposition is founded on the idea behind that remark of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). But, if it is not wise to introduce what he calls the foreign element of using tariffs as a penal weapon, is it wise to introduce foreign arbitration into what is essentially a Dominions affair?
§ Mr. PIKE
It may be as illogical, at this moment, for us to introduce a tariff within the British Empire, as it was on 842 the part of the Irish Free State to introduce a tariff—as they did not long ago—to operate against another nation within the British Empire. I am not arguing the merits of that proposal, but if it is wrong to introduce tariffs as a penal weapon, it is worse to introduce a foreign element of arbitration into discussions between units of the British Empire. Yet if the Opposition had their way that would be the method adopted of determining the rights and the wrongs in this case. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) suggested that we should adopt as our prayer not "forgive us our trespasses" but "forgive us our debts" and that we should allow that principle to extend to all our policy.
In these matters everything seems to centre upon Britain's responsibility. If anybody owes anything, if anybody is doing anything which the world does not like, it is always Britain who is called upon to take action first. We are always to be the sufferers. We have to take full responsibility for every good deed that is considered necessary by the Labour party in the interests of the future peace of the world and of its peoples. But one cannot conciliate people as was suggested by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) in order to turn their views to your own advantage, until understanding and a desire for unanimity has been shown. It is Mr. de Valera's responsibility to show those traits and those qualities. It is not the responsibility of this Government. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to go forward with this Measure, fully convinced that, before long, indeed in a much shorter time than hon. Members opposite imagine, the Irish people will realise the folly of the action which has led to this Bill, and will settle down again as they did in the last ten years, under the leadership of Mr. Cosgrave, to an era of peace and good will with this country.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
I cannot claim to speak with authority on the subject which is before the House and it is difficult to understand how the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Pike) obtains his authority to speak upon it. If papers had been put in the Vote Office enabling Members to study the history of the Land Annuities and the other questions involved we might be better informed, but, as it is, if I had to say anything upon this matter it would certainly be of a 843 partial character. That is attributable to the fact that the documents which we have received represent not a dispassionate but a partial view of the case and therefore I do not propose to use such information as I have had upon these matters because it would not be reliable. At any rate, it would be information from a source which is described by some people as reliable, but not a source which could be regarded as reliable in the same way as documents placed in the Vote Office by the Government of the country. I do not propose to follow that line of argument at all. I think it is a significant and unfortunate circumstance that this dispute should have emerged at a time when we have a National Government. I am not speaking in a derogatory manner of the National Government, but it is unfortunate that this dispute should have emerged at a time when the fiscal policy of this country has become one of tariffs. We have heard in the whispering galleries of this House for the last two or three months that unless the President of the Irish Free State was prepared to meet in full the concept held by the Dominions Secretary on behalf of the Government, reprisals would take place. That is the unfortunate circumstance. If there had been a Free Trade Government in charge in this country, I think we might have had negotiation, and successful negotiation. If it had not been psychologically true that should Mr. de Valera refuse to meet the demand reprisals would have been applied at once in some measure by way of amending the Import Duties Act, I think we should have had far more successful negotiation, and certainly something like negotiation would have taken place.
I am obliged to the hon. Member who spoke from below the gangway here for his historical résumé of this matter. As far as I can deduce, it is really not now a financial problem at all, but it has become a matter of machinery. The ultimate is finance, but it is now all a question of ways and means as to the personnel of the tribunal that will have to arbitrate whether we or the Free State are right. I was pleased to find that the atmosphere of the House this morning was of a conciliatory nature. Practically every speaker to-day has spoken along conciliatory lines, and I do not desire to 844 breath any harsh word whatever, but I put this to the Dominions Secretary, again not presuming to understand the Free State point of view. It would seem that Mr. de Valera is opposing a tribunal the composition of which would be persons appointed within the British Empire, on the ground, he contends, that the dice would be loaded against him before the case was submitted to the tribunal.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, as a matter of logic, why we are not prepared to permit the matter to be submitted to someone outside of the Dominions? In other words, are the people within the Empire more virtuous than those outside? Does 1.30 p.m. human nature change in accordance with purely geographical or economic lines? Are there not persons outside the Empire who could be found? I could name a number of international jurists who certainly hold pre-eminence in the world, whom we in this House have admitted to be persons of a dispassionate outlook, and who have been trusted to deal with enormous problems. In dealing with the Versailles Treaty the late American Ambassador to this country was appointed internationally to deal with the question of reparations. Later, we had the Young Plan, and we had faith in the person who devised that plan. I did not believe in it or ultimately in what was done, but there was no dubiety or prejudice against the person whose scheme was ultimately accepted as the basis for international payments. Could we not find, therefore, the aid of some international jurist whom we could trust and in whom we could place implicit confidence to give a decision in accordance with the facts?
§ Mr. HOWARD
We refuse to allow any foreign influence to dictate the international relationships between one part of the Empire and another, in the same way that Japan refused even the League of Nations to interfere. That surely is a principle universally adopted, and one which you adopt in your own affairs, inside your own trade unions.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I can hardly understand an interjection starting off with 845 "We," as though you were speaking for the British Empire. When were you appointed President of the British Empire?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
Will the hon. Member please remember to address the Chair? It tends very much to help the decencies of debate.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am sorry. I do not want to become personal at all, and indeed I intimated that I was prepared to carry on this Debate in something like a proper atmosphere, but when an interjection is put forward which indicates that at this time of civilisation we have not someone in America, in Germany, France, Italy, the Near East, or the Far East in whom we can trust to face a problem of this kind, it is really preposterous, if that is the assumption that one has to accept from a person who speaks apparently with authority on behalf of the Government and the British Empire. Do we expect to get anything like international amity if in this House we have it publicly declared that we cannot find a person in whom we trust at Lausanne, at Geneva, or at the international conferences at the end of this year? Is it to be declared at Ottawa whilst we are discussing Dominion matters that we cannot have faith in any other portion of the world? Is that the declaration?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Are we becoming what we charged Germany with before the War? We charged her with being pan-German. Are we becoming purely pan-British? The point I was putting to the House was that from the standpoint of pure logic Mr. de Valera has as much right to say that an honest man can be found from the other nations of the world as we have to say that only honest men exist in the British Empire. It is all a question of personnel. If two men were appointed by Britain and two by Ireland, the only important point would be the chairman. The Dominions Secretary will know that I have had some experience of negotiations in the mining world. We have always had trouble as to whom the chairman should be. Every 846 time we have to devise an agreement and to appoint somebody to preside over our conciliation board we have a conflict. The last chairman who presided over our conciliation board in South Wales was selected by the Lord Chancellor. Surely if miners and mineowners can accept the person who is appointed by the Lord Chancellor, the Government can appeal to the Hague or somewhere else to appoint some eminent international jurist as president of this tribunal. Miners, like railwaymen, are jealous of their own class interests, and mineowners and employers of labour are jealous of their particular economic interests. If miners can do these things, there is no reason why the British Government cannot do likewise.
It amazes me that we should become so small in this matter. I understand that from the purely legal point of view the Statute of Westminster put Ireland on a par with Britain, but. I understand—I do not know this as a fact, but I have to accept the advice I get on the matter—that, while Ireland is an equal, we cannot treat her as an equal. While we pride ourselves on being the greatest of all the nations, we are not prepared to do the big thing, the thing that really indicates that we possess some generosity, but, right or wrong, Ireland must swallow the medicine prepared by the doctor. I have to assume that this was part of the "doctor's mandate." All the negotiating ability that the Dominions Secretary has displayed in the last 20 or 30 years in the railway world is of no avail, and just because the Government have an instrument in the import duties, the unfortunate circumstances of the moment are to apply them regardless of economic relations and the ultimate human consequence.
I remember the Black and Tan business. Like the last hon. Member who spoke on the other side, I have a substantial Irish population in my constituency, and I am certain that the Government in this matter are not reflecting the considered judgment of the Irish people. I am certain that every Irishman in this country would be prepared to do almost anything rather than risk another Black and Tan quarrel. They would be prepared to sacrifice not only this cash, but more cash, rather than risk the lives of some of their relatives. I am sure that the millers whom I have served for years—Irishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen—will be prepared to pay 847 almost any price financially rather than risk the physical price that is involved in this problem. The substance of our case is that we should play for delay. It is not sportsmanlike to castigate the President of the Irish. Free State. It is not a dignified business. I am not a student of Irish politics in particular and it is not for me to say that the Irish people do not know what they are doing. I do not agree with Mr. de Valera's philosophy or his economic policy. He is certainly not a Socialist, while I am first and last a Socialist. I do not agree with his methods, but if a person is elected President of a country, I have to respect diplomatically the man and the people whom he represents.
During these debates we have heard from the bank benches of the Government the most reprehensible things said against Mr. de Valera. The sneers and taunts that have been thrown across the House have been contemptible and despicable. I wish to tell the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs that I have been very dissatisfied with his conduct in this matter. When we have been discussing this matter in a very serious way—I do not talk flippantly in this House at all—he has been turning round and carrying on a bit of back-chat, and we have heard what were not very courteous remarks. You have behind you some hundreds of followers, and we know that that is really the reason why you have treated us in such a contemptuous way.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I will not pursue that any further. We know that if the Opposition had been well nigh 50 per cent. of the composition of the House, we should not have been treated as we have been treated. Nor would the Government proceed as they are now proceeding. They are treating Ireland like they treat the Opposition; and, if anything comes against them just now, it is not a matter of logic and reason, but just steam rollering. Placing all theory on one side, we know, as a positive fact, that, if the money has to be obtained, it will be obtained from the people of this country. We know that food taxes are not placed on commodities as they leave another nation. These duties will not be placed 848 on commodities as they leave Dublin; they will be put on in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Port Talbot, London, Liverpool, Glasgow and other places. The duties will be placed on the commodities after they have arrived, and not before they start, and surely it is not necessary to know more than the elements of political economy to know that the people of this country will have to pay and not the people in Ireland. Therefore, we are punishing the people in this country. The dwellers in our mountain valleys, who are faced with almost literal starvation, will have to pay extra prices in order that the mailed fist of this Government may be used to browbeat one of our sister nations—through the unfortunate circumstances of having tariffs at our disposal.
I am hoping—though hoping almost without hope, I presume—that the Government will reconsider their attitude in this matter. I am inclined to believe, and I think the whole Opposition believe, that if this policy is pursued it must create racial hatred. An hon. Friend of mine who spoke last night, and in the judgment of some hon. Members rather delayed the House, who has studied this whole matter from A to Z, and has had experience of the feeling as between the North and South of Ireland, has warned us of what we are likely to be faced with, and there are other of our Members who foresee all the consequences that will arise in their own constituencies. In saying what they do the Opposition are not speaking from a purely party point of view, and it ought not to be presumed that they incline towards the Irish point of view. Personally, I do not incline towards the point of view of the President of the Irish Free State at all. If I were there I would oppose him as bitterly as I am opposing the present Government. Also, it is as logical for him to oppose a tribunal composed of persons appointed from within the British Empire as it is for this Government to oppose the appointment of persons from outside. I am hoping therefore that we shall have no repercussions from this matter, and I trust that something like an amicable settlement will be arrived at without the necessity for our putting into force the powers we are talking. But I fear that the temper which has been displayed in this House by some hon. Members supporting the Government will not be help- 849 ful towards that end. I support the Opposition, therefore, and trust the Government will again reflect on this matter.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I think the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E Williams) will realise on further reflection that he has not altogether contributed towards achieving the end which he desires. I welcome his declaration that he wishes to assist in arriving at a solution of this matter, but the tone of his speech at the end did not altogether support that view, although perhaps he was not expressing himself exactly as he would desire to do. The wit and learning of Ireland have never been absent from our courts, and I have been reminded this morning of a famous judgment delivered in our High Court some years ago by a great Irish judge, now dead, the late Lord Macnaughten. He said in opening his deliverance on an extremely difficult case: "It is easy to put the kernel of a case in a nutshell, but it is the most difficult thing in the world to keep it there." This discussion rather illustrates Lord Macnaughten's obiter dictum. I ventured to interrupt the junior Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy) by questioning him as to some circumstances connected with these land annuities as to which this difficulty arises, and I ask the House to allow me to confine my attention to that issue.
I have followed Irish affairs for a good many years, and I understand that these payments were made under an agreement which President Cosgrave effected. It was that circumstance which gave point to the propaganda of Mr. de Valera in objecting to these payments. It cannot be said that this matter was not an issue before the Irish people. That these payments were being made was one of the principal complaints of Mr. de Valera in recent years, and one of the matters on which he took the sense of the Irish electorate at the last election. Directly he assumed office he entered his objection to this claim, which he had always questioned, and our Government like sensible people, endeavoured to negotiate this claim with him. They pointed to the authorities on whom they relied in support of their claim for the continuation of these payments. Their view was not accepted by Mr. de Valera, and therefore the matter properly becomes one for arbitration. That is the general sense of this House. It is not only trade union 850 leaders who have experience of negotiations and arbitration. Some of us have given many years to negotiating in connection with the concerns of other people, and this business showed itself in the ordinary form that such a matter would present itself to men of affairs. Immediately this claim was contested, my right hon. Friend said "Of course, it must be arbitrated upon." The difficulty arises over the foam of the tribunal.
One of the principal matters discussed at the last Imperial Conference was the form of machinery to be set up in the unhappy event of differences arising between the various parts of the Empire. I am speaking now from recollection. I had conversations at the time with various Dominion representatives who took part in those discussions. Provision ought to be made for those circumstances, and it was generally agreed that any matters affecting the internal administration of the Dominions should be left to a tribunal drawn from citizens of the Empire.
§ Mr. E. WILLIAMS
But there was an objection. Is it not a fact that South Africa and Ireland objected?
§ Mr. KNIGHT
It is correct that, for historical reasons, both South Africa and Ireland objected to that, but the Conference broke up with a general understanding that if matters of this sort arose, they should be dealt with by representatives of the Dominions. Mr. de Valera was no party to that undertaking. He took no part in those discussions. He was no party to the original payments over which this quarrel has arisen and I am quite certain that the Dominions Secretary, with his long experience, realises the special difficulties which this case presents. As an old friend of Ireland, I make this plea to Mr. de Valera, since he has now reached a position of responsibility and is charged with the business of Ireland, that he will consider whether it is not part of his duty, as he desires to stand in with the other representatives of the Dominions in regard to other matters—he proposes to send a delegation to Ottawa—to fall in with the general desire of the Dominions that when difficulties of this sort arise they shall be dealt with by a tribunal drawn from the Dominions. That is an appeal which might quite properly be made to Mr. de Valera. 851 There are men in this House who have fought for Ireland. I see my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Devlin). I presume he is now the Senior Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone, and I hope that I have described him correctly.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
My hon. Friend has anticipated what I was going to say. The Irish business transacted in this House was prepared for by efforts outside, in the country. With the hon. Member, I was at the side of John Redmond and others for years, preparing this business before it reached here, and he knows that I have never wavered in my desire to help the Irish people in any difficulties that might come. I rejoice in the present opportunity, which I never expected, to put in a word. I never anticipated that these Irish difficulties would recur. I want to assure the hon. Gentleman that some of us are most anxious to prevent the acerbation of feeling caused by those unfortunate Irish differences. I make the suggestion to my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone, with his immense influence, that he should use his influence to get Mr. de Valera to appreciate the view that, although he took no part in the delegation at the last Imperial Conference and in the general desire that such matters as this should be determined by a tribunal drawn from the Empire, he should meet the desire of the British Government that this matter should be kept within the Empire. It is not the case that anyone believes that outside the British Empire there are not to be found men of integrity and of responsibility who could be trusted to undertake the determination of this matter. Let us try to keep prejudice out of it. [Interruption.] I make an appeal to my hon. Friends that we should try and keep prejudice out, as much as we can.
These matters have long been under discussion. We have had to 2.0 p.m. define our attitude towards the Convenant of the League of Nations. We have never agreed that disputes in any part of the British Dominions should come up for examination at the League of Nations, because 852 it was the general desire of the Empire that these matters should be settled in a friendly, homely, fashion. I believe there is a general desire in the country that that attitude should be maintained. Is it fanciful to think that there is a similar desire in Ireland? Admitted that this contested issue has arisen, that it has to be determined in a reasonable way, and that it is the general desire of the component parts of the British Commonwealth that such matters should be dealt with by an Imperial tribunal, cannot my hon. Friend and other representatives from Ireland use their influence there to see that this course is taken? I do not go into the incidence of this matter. I frankly tell my right hon. Friend the Dominions Secretary that I am disturbed by the economic incidence of these proposals. Who can see how they will work out? It may be that there are alternative sources of supply which can prevent any economic hardship to the consumers. Whether that be so or not, I beg this House to realize that no other alternative was available to this country.
We are about to adjourn for a long period. Provision has to be made for the receipt of these annuities, which are an important part of our Budget. It is our duty, before separating, to arm the Government with-Dowers for that purpose. This Bill is intended to provide them with those powers, but it does not follow that those powers are to be immediately used. Is anybody going to suggest that my right hon. Friend, after his long public service, will not exhaust every possible opportunity of getting this business settled in an amicable way, before finally resorting to the provisions of this Bill? It is mere business that such provision should be made, but an amicable settlement is the general desire of the country, I am certain. I support the appeal that has been made this morning, that every effort should be used to induce the Irish Government to appreciate and respect the point of view and the desires of other Governments within the Commonwealth, that this matter should be amicably settled, and, further, that His Majesty's Government should not use this weapon until all those opportunities have been tried. I say that with the utmost sincerity, because I have the deepest attachment to the cause of Ireland, and I am glad to have had the chance of saying so.
§ Mr. LUNN
This unfortunate difference between the United Kingdom Government and the Irish Free State Government has occupied the attention of the House for nearly the whole of this week. It is said that there has been a sweet reasonableness in the Debate to-day, but I want to say that we cannot ignore the consequences of the Bill which we are discussing, if it is put into operation. In my opinion its consequences, if it is put into operation, will be tragic to the people of this country, and will create ill will, bitterness and hardship for the people of Ireland. Therefore, I associate myself with the desire that we have that the Bill should be defeated, but we would rather that it should be withdrawn.
When the Secretary of State for the Dominions was moving the Money Resolution the other day, he alluded to my assotion with him at the Dominions Office. I do not hesitate to say that those relations for two years were of the friendliest character. He was a good chief; he was a good pal. I have said that before, and what I now say is said more in sorrow than in anger, namely, that it was only when I found that he had surrendered to the enemy, that he had forfeited the friendship of those who had shown affection for him for many years, that he had taken the wrong turning, as I believed, that differences came between us. He will agree with me that while I was at the Dominions Office we had very few difficulties with the Dominions. The only one that I remember was regarding the flag in South Africa. We did not suggest arbitration; we did not suggest reprisals; the right hon. Gentleman did not get his own way; but the matter was settled. That was the main dispute, I think, that took place during that time.
It has been said in this Debate that the Imperial Conference agreed to the setting up of an Empire Tribunal. The right hon. Gentleman knows a good deal about pious resolutions. Pious resolutions have ben passed in many places at many times, and he will agree with me that it was not so definite or so certain that an Empire Tribunal would be set up as we should have liked it to be. If the setting up of an Empire Tribunal had been definitely agreed to by all the Dominions, as we would have wished, there is no doubt in my mind that it would have appeared in the Statute of Westminster, 854 and the establishment of such a tribunal would have been the most important part of the Statute of Westminster.
To-day and during this week we have been discussing a dispute with Southern Ireland. I again say, as has been said by various speakers on this side, that I am not entering into the merits of the dispute. I am neither a lawyer nor an Irishman; I am an Englishman; and I have been inclined to the belief, like the Secretary of State for the Dominions, all the time while these annuity payments have been made, that we had a right to them. But during recent months a dispute has arisen over them; it is accepted by the British Government that there is a dispute. What surprises me is that, while negotiations have been going on between various countries year in and year out, the right hon. Gentleman, who has a reputation as a negotiator, should never have attempted to negotiate this question. I think the fact that this matter having only arisen two or three months ago, and having occupied only a few hours of meeting between this Government and the Irish Government, has been allowed to slide in such a way that we are threatened with reprisals of this character, does not do credit to the reputation of the right hon. Gentleman. I feel that there was more to be done, and that he might have done more to prevent the necessity for the discussions that have taken place in the House this week. One thing that I would suggest might have been done would have been that the right hon. Gentleman should not have been on the delegation to Ottawa unless this matter was settled. If that had been suggested a month ago, I think it would have helped a good deal towards the settlement of this dispute.
This is a money dispute, we are told. Nearly all the disputes in the world are about money; those that are not about money, I suppose, are about women. Most disputes are about money, and here is a case where it is accepted by this Government that there is a dispute, and where they are willing to go to arbitration, while on the other side they are equally willing to have the matter arbitrated as to whether or not they should make these payments to the British Government. The right hon. Gentleman has said many times that the only difficulty is as to the form of the tribunal. I said a moment or two ago 855 that I am an Englishman, and I am bound to say personally that I refuse to believe that there is not an honest man in the British Empire, if it were necessary to say that. I believe that there are as honest men in the British Empire as there are outside, which goes without saying. But I believe that there are honest men in all parts of the world. The question, however, whether or not you can get an independent chairman from anywhere, is another question. I have always had my doubts about independent chairmen who have been appointed, as to whether or not they were impartial in what they were going to do, and I suppose that most people would question, on one side or the other, the impartiality of the particular chairman who was chosen to debate this matter. But, as I understand it, the Treaty that was made between this country and Ireland is ratified at Geneva, and, if that is so, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have closed his negotiations without going a little further—without endeavouring to see that something was done to set up this tribunal and avoid the ill will, the bad feeling and the disaster that a Bill of this character, if it becomes law, will bring about.
What is the Bill going to do? It is to be passed into law to-day, with all the sweet reasonableness that there has been, and the right hon. Gentleman says that it is to be put into operation immediately. That is his declaration. If it is passed into law, it means that we are going to impose tariffs, as the right hon. Gentleman says, on everything that comes from the Irish Free State into this country—and most of the things that come from the Irish Free State are agricultural products, that is to say, food. I remember the Empire Marketing Board, of which the right hon. Gentleman is the Chairman. We have spent money in campaigns to encourage an increase in the sales of Irish produce in various parts of this country, but to-day a step is being taken to prevent it from coming, or, even if it does come, to see that our people pay more for it than they have paid in the past. [Interruption.] I do not want to deal with the hon. Member who shows such ignorance on these matters, but I will call his attention to an answer given the other day to my hon. Friend the 856 Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). My hon. Friend asked the President of the Board of Trade the wholesale prices of English, Jersey, Dutch and Canary tomatoes for the weeks ending 27th June, 1931, and 25th June, 1932, and the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary was as follows:According to the Agricultural Market Report the average wholesale prices in London of British, Channel Islands, and Dutch tomatoes for the weeks ended 24th June, 1931, and 22nd June, 1932, were as follows:
—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th June, 1932; col. 2006, Vol. 267.]
Week ended — 24th June,1931. 22nd June,1932. British— pence per lb. 1st quality 6½ 10 2nd quality 4½ 7½ Channel Islands— 1st quality 6 10 2nd quality 5½ 9 Dutch— 1st quality 5 8½ 2nd quality (not quoted) 7½"
That is the sort of thing which we are getting as a result of the policy of this Government, and that is what is going to happen. Under the Import Duties Act we give 100 per cent. preference to all the Dominions. That was a gesture to go to Ottawa, but you are destroying all possibility of success at Ottawa by the legislation you are seeking to impose to-day with regard to Southern Ireland. It is not only in that way that we are going to suffer. What about the purchases by the Irish Free State from this country? It was said here the other day that half of our boots and shoes were sold to Southern Ireland. We have heard a good deal about purchases of boots and shoes from certain countries on the Continent. That may mean that thousands of our boot and shoe operatives will be unemployed. Then the Irish Free State purchases nearly a million tons of coal, and this Government has done enough to try to destroy the coal trade. It has increased by scores of thousands the number of miners out of work. We have seen in the newspapers that the Irish Free State is considering the possibility of purchasing its coal from countries other than the United Kingdom, which will mean that thousands more miners will be 857 thrown out of work and driven to the abominable means test set up by this Government. That is the sort of thing which will come out of this Bill if passed into law.
§ The right hon. Gentleman, I think, ought to have avoided this position. The Bill is to become law and is, it is said, to operate immediately. I suggest that it is going to be a difficulty at our doorstep in a few moments. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to go to Ottawa if this Bill is to be applied, because this is of more moment and more importance immediately to our people than what is in the air to be discussed at Ottawa. Very few people imagine that anything is coming out of Ottawa. Canada is split from top to bottom on what is going to be discussed. We cannot get to know what is to be discussed. The New Zealand Prime Minister, I believe, is not going to Ottawa. South Africa is not enthusiastic about it. Ireland is being encouraged, if its representatives do go, not to be very reasonable and agreeable, because we are seeking to create bitterness and enemity between them and us. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman seriously—I know that it does not count for much—that a Bill like this ought not to be passed into law. If it is passed into law to-day, I would ask that it be not put into operation until after the Ottawa Conference, and that during that Conference all his efforts and the efforts of his colleagues, shall be applied in the midst of good will, as we hope there will be at Ottawa, to try to bring about a settlement of this dispute. It is peace between these two countries that we want. It means much to us, it means much to them, and I do not think the obstacle in the way is such that we ought to allow it to stand for one moment longer, but that we should endeavour to see that peace is established.
I do not think that anyone in this House will disagree with either the tone or temper of any speech delivered to-day, and least of all myself. I frankly acknowledge and admit even at this moment that. Members of the Government, in asking the House to take this step, with all the consequences involved, must, I repeat, have satisfied themselves that they have exhausted all means before resorting to this legis- 858 lation. My hon. Friend will not expect me, in replying, to make any reference to what he calls the "parting of the ways." I am satisfied, and many others are satisfied, that we took the right turning, and he himself is equally satisfied that he took the right turning. We both had an opportunity of submitting to the tribunal of the people, and, rightly or wrongly, there was a very emphatic verdict given on that particular point.
I want frankly to suggest to my hon. Friend that it is not a fair analogy to bring in the South African case; indeed, it has no bearing whatever on this case to drag in controversy over the South African flag. It is a fatal illustration, because no one knows the facts better than my hon. Friend, and I do not want anyone in this House or in Ireland to mix up a situation of this kind. I may also point out that he is in error, as indeed were several previous speakers, in reference to the fact that the Empire tribunal was not embodied in the Statute of Westminster. He knows it could not be. He himself was at the office, and knows perfectly well that the Statute of Westminster dealt exclusively with the powers of the Dominions, and it could find no place whatever in the Statute of Westminster, which gave considerable powers to each Dominion, and for the first time said they were co-equal partners.
There could be no provision in the Statute of Westminster for any question of an Empire tribunal, but no one can deny that the Imperial Conference unanimously recommended it. But let the House observe the difference. What many objected to was a compulsory agreement on arbitration. That, however, is an entirely different thing from what we are discussing. They said they would not agree to compulsory arbitration. Many trade unions have taken the same attitude. The Miners' Federation have for 30 years or more. But the Miners' Federation always said: "While not agreeing to compulsory arbitration, that does not prevent us at any time agreeing to voluntary arbitration." That is exactly the position with the Imperial Conference. They said: "We will not agree to compulsory arbitration, but we will agree that, if arbitration takes place, it shall be limited to to Empire Court." [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says it is quite untrue. I have submitted on three different occasions during these Debates 859 the Minutes of the Imperial Conference. They say, after giving the numbers of the tribunal, that there shall be five members, one being the chairman, and neither the chairman or the members of the tribunal shall be drawn from outside the British Commonwealth of Nations. When we are asked why we insist upon an Empire court, my answer is, the Imperial Conference unanimously said, if there is arbitration, it must be in that form.
The charge is made that we have been unreasonable and the hon. Member who opened the Debate said vindictive, hostile and bitter. Why not go back to the origin of the dispute? Hon. Members seem to have entirely forgotten what it is all about. This is not a legal argument. That is why no Law Officer is taking part. The simple issue is not how much money should be paid between Ireland and ourselves. It is not whether it is a good or bad agreement either from the standpoint of England or Ireland. No one in the House on any side disputes that an agreement was made.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to put our case? It is a quite simple one. There is a dispute between the Irish Free State ant on 2.30 p.m. the facts, and we say, in those circumstances, that arbitration is the only way out.
The right hon. Gentleman has not heard the whole of the Debate. I have made notes and have been answering point by point. Throughout the whole Debate to-day and previously I have never heard anyone say that there was not an agreement. The Government's attitude from the start was that, if we allow either an individual or a Government with impunity to break an agreement, government practically becomes impossible.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I stated that, while an agreement had been made in the Treaty which passed this House, it had since been abrogated by other agreements, and that these were the matters that were in dispute. They are in the documents and in subsequent Acts of Parliament.
While the hon. Member was dealing with it, in order to make it clear, I read to him the actual 860 document, which is called the "Heads of the Ultimate Financial Settlement", in which the Government of the Irish Free State undertook to pay to the British Government at agreed intervals the full amount of the annuities accruing due from time to time. That is the opening statement of the agreement signed on behalf of the Irish Government and the British Government. It was issued as a Command Paper in 1926. We got no communication saying: "Shall we reconsider it? Shall we have a meeting? Shall we discuss it?" The intimation was: "This money belongs to me, and I am going to withhold it." We finally said: "We are prepared to submit to arbitration the question, was there or 'was there not an agreement and is it binding?'" I repeat that offer to-day. It was conveyed in writing to the President of the Irish Free State yesterday. The only qualification is that, as unanimously recommended by the Imperial Conference, it must be limited to those within the British Empire. That is the qualification which we made. The very fact that the late Labour Government themselves were responsible in the Optional Clause for making the same provision that no internal dispute within the British Commonwealth had to go outside shows that, and the hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that they were a party to it. [Interruption.] They know it perfectly well, and it is no good their running away from it. Therefore, when I am asked, "Why do you insist upon this qualification?" I again repeat that I insist for the reason which prompted my right hon. Friend and myself to be a party in the Optional Clause to making that reservation. That is the reason why I insist upon it now, and there is nothing which would warrant me altering that view.
There have been appeals from the hon. Members for Whitehaven (Mr. Nunn) and the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Reynolds) that the Government should be careful in the exercise of that power. Certainly we will. But do not let us be under any misapprehension. We have no right to deceive the Irish people. We have said from the commencement that in our judgment this money is due to us and that we are legally and morally entitled to it, but, because it is disputed, we have gone to the limit of asking for arbitration. Throughout the whole of 861 these debates, let the House observe, no one has suggested an alternative. I said on the first clay: "Will you tell me any other way by which the British Government can obtain that to which they believe they are entitled?" No one has suggested an alternative. Every one has said: "Give them another chance. Go to Ottawa." I am surprised at the emphasis about going to Ottawa in this matter, for this reason. The one thing which we must avoid is to drag other Dominions into a dispute which does not affect them. Our attitude is quite clear. This is a dispute at the moment between the Irish Free State and Great Britain, and we are limiting the matter to that particular issue. Therefore, in asking for the Third Reading of the Bill, I again deeply regret the circumstances which compel the Government to take this course. I think that every fair-minded man and woman, both inside and outside the House, will agree, whatever may be said, that we went to the limit in our anxiety for peace.
We still, at this moment, make it perfectly clear that if Mr. de Valera will accept the one and only condition we are making upon this matter, namely, that the tribunal shall be within the Empire, the British Government will accept the position. But having obtained the power and having told the Irish Free State and the Irish people clearly our intentions, I want to leave the House in no doubt whatever. I do not want the Irish people to be in any doubt. We do not obtain this power as a bluff. The Bill is not intended merely as waste paper. I should be deceiving the House and the Irish people if I did not make that fact clear. We do not want to use it, and we still hope that it will not be necessary to use it. There is an opportunity—a unique opportunity—now for Mr. de Valera to show real statesmanship by showing that he has still confidence in the British Commonwealth of Nations.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have not risen to continue the debate, but the right hon. Gentleman has repeated something in connection with myself, which I ask your permission, Mr. Speaker, to clear up. I did not attempt to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, because, after all, there have been two or three interruptions. It is on the question of my responsibility. [Interruption.] It may be of no importance to other people, but it is of 862 importance to me that my position in this matter should not be misrepresented either wilfully or by accident. The right hon. Gentleman says that I am responsible with him for the policy of the Labour Government with regard to the Optional Clause and to an Empire tribunal for settling inter-Dominion disputes. I have never denied that, and I do not deny it to-day, but the Irish Free State never accepted it and the South African Government never accepted it. What I am saying is true and cannot be denied. What I said the other night, I say now. If South Africa and Canada were to have a dispute about any matter they would have the right—and the Home Government have no power to stop them—to refer it to any tribunal either within the Commonwealth or outside the Commonwealth. That is exactly the point of difference between the Government and Mr. de Valera. My position in the matter does not come into it. For my part, I wish very much that Mr. de Valera would accept a tribunal within the Commonwealth of British nations. I am quite certain that he would get a fair deal if he did so. The only point is that he does not think as I think, and we think that it is a mistake to attempt to coerce him. That is our position.
I had to answer a specific question which had been put to me from all parts of the House as to why we insist upon an Empire tribunal. That was urged by several speakers, and I was merely answering, "Because I insist upon it for the same reason as my right hon. Friend has said, that we were parties both to the Optional Clause and to the Empire tribunal."
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Do I understand that the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs considers that the Third Reading of a Bill of this character is only worthy of one or two hours' consideration. I should imagine that it is of sufficient importance to give all Members of the House as much time to discuss it as there was given to the question of the opening of cinemas on Sunday. I desire to raise one or two points, one of which is of some importance and has not been raised 863 until now. But before I do that, may I point out that the right hon. Gentleman has made several touching appeals to Mr. de Valera and to all who have sympathies with him. Several hon. Members, notably the hon. and learned Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Knight) have appealed in touching terms to me to use my influence with Mr. de Valera. Let me tell my hon. and learned Friend that he has as much influence with Mr. de Valera as I have. I have taken up my attitude on this question because on this matter I think Mr. de Valera is right. The right hon. Gentleman was rather confused in the closing portion of his speech, when several of his own supporters on these benches appealed to him to suspend the operation of the Bill until the Ottawa Conference meets. He replied that this was not an Imperial matter, but a matter between this country and Ireland. How can he take up that attitude and at the same time make his whole case that this is to be determined by an Empire tribunal? That position seems to me to be rather inconsistent, but I will not press it.
Now I come to an aspect of the question that has not been raised. I understand and appreciate the spirit of pride and perhaps of resentment at the suggestion that a matter of this sort should be determined by someone outside the Empire. But may I point out that the Irish Treaty was registered at Geneva and became an international document? When it was proposed at Geneva that the Treaty should be registered as an international document the representatives of this country objected to that procedure, but it was subsequently accepted. I therefore say that if that Treaty has been registered as an international document under international control, Mr. de Valera is entitled to ask that a decision on the matter should be referred to an international tribunal or, at all events, that it should not be confined to an Empire court arbitration. I notice that the Attorney-General has returned to his seat.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
We do not want the Attorney-General here the whole time. 864 I should be very sorry to occupy all his time. because I am sure he is usefully engaged elsewhere, but we want him to be here when he is wanted. No matter how the. right hon. Gentleman may camouflage this matter, it seems a curious thing, and I deny the statement., that no legal principles are involved in this matter. I deny that statement because Mr. de Valera bases his whole case upon the opinion of learned and distinguished lawyers in Ireland—I think a dozen of them, who were all agreed. If you can get a dozen lawyers to agree on anything, surely their opinion of the law becomes sacrosanct. I understand that some of these eminent lawyers were not political supporters of Mr. de Valera. They all agreed that Southern Ireland was not entitled to pay these annuities. If you have a mass of legal opinion of that character expressed by men of distinction in the law it is opinion well worth noting. If Mr. de Valera refuses to pay the annuities on the ground that he is not legally entitled to pay them, why does not the right hon. Gentleman get the Attorney-General to give to this House his opinion, as the highest legal authority in the country, as against the declaration of the Irish lawyers to whom I have referred.
My hon. Friend knew that I was going to wind up the debate. It was agreed that I should de so. When the legality or otherwise of the bond is challenged at the arbitration court that will be the time for the lawyers to deal with it. The reason why it is not a legal matter now is because one person says there is no agreement, and we say that there is an agreement. We say, let the arbitration court settle whether there was or was not an agreement. That would be a lawyer's job, but this is a common sense job that we are dealing with to-day.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I am surprised that if this is a common sense job it has been left to the right hon. Gentleman. [Interruption.] He states that I knew he was to reply. I rose before he did, but Mr. Speaker called upon him. I am not responsible for any arrangements that he may have made with hon. and right hon. Members on the Front Opposition Bench. I am not supposed to keep contracts when I am not a party to them. 865 I rose before the right hon. Gentleman, and I had hoped that he would have heard what. I had to say before he replied. I deny his thesis that when this matter is legally decided he should not confer with the Law Officers of the Government but should proceed to the arbitration tribunal, if such a tribunal is to be set up, without consulting his own lawyers. That is a most extraordinary position for any one to take up, especially a Minister of the Crown dealing with a matter of paramount national interest.
I have listened to the Debate with considerable interest, and I must confess that I have been impressed with the sense of fair play and the desire of Members of all parties in this House to try and find a solution of this difficulty. If there is to he a solution there must be conciliation on both sides. If this is to be a war, and it is to be a war, a fiscal war, let us not forget that fiscal wars are often the forerunners of physical wars. If there was universal free trade in the world there never would be war. The conflicts between nations are due to economic causes. This would be the prettiest war of all. There is no reason why, because English Members of Parliament and the English Government dislike Mr. de Valera, they should start this war. Rule Ireland out altogether and see in what position we stand to-day. There are Liberals in this House and else-
§ where to whom the very word food taxes is abhorrent. I believe that no substantial section of this House of any party believes in food taxes, but the first operative act of this Government, who stand for Imperial unity and protection, when they have secured their powers, is to wage war upon an agricultural country within the Empire and to put on food taxes as a punitive weapon with which they will bring these people to their political senses.
§ We need not disguise the fact. It is not the £3,500,000 or the £5,000,000 that are involved. This is done for the purpose of securing a triumph over Mr. de Valera. That is all that is involved in it. It is a case of: "We will teach Mr. de Valera a lesson." I believe that it will be a very costly lesson. I believe, as was very wisely said by a Member of the Conservative party, who speaks with authority and with patriotism, that this Measure, if it is passed will not weaken but rather strengthen Mr. de Valera's hands, because it will be felt that these annuities ought not to be a charge upon the Irish Free State. If this Bill is passed and put into operation it will serve Mr. de Valera much better than it will serve you.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 222; Noes, 30.867
|Division No. 301.]||AYES.||[2.56 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-spring)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Albery, Irving James||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.)||Clarry, Reginald George||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Clayton Dr. George C.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Colman, N. C. D.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover,||Colville, John||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th,C.)||Cowan, D. M.||Goff, Sir Park|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Cranborne, Viscount||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Craven Ellis, William||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Croft, Brigadler-General Sir H.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Waiter|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Greene, William P. C.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Crossley, A. C.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Gunston, Captain D, W.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Dickle, John P.||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Donner, P. W.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Cheimsford)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Duckworth, George A. V.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Burnett, John George||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Eden, Robert Anthony||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Howard, Tom Forrest|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Eimley, Viscount||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Morgan. Robert H.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Selley, Harry R.|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Moss, Captain H. J.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Muirhead, Major A. J.||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Janner, Barnett||Munro, Patrick||Smithers, Waldron|
|Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Nail-Cain, Arthur Ronald N.||Somerset, Thomas|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Nation, Brigadler-General J. J. H.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Peters'fld)||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Kimball, Lawrence||North, Captain Edward T.||Stones, James|
|Knight, Holford||Nunn, William||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Patrick, Colin M.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Leckie, J. A.||Peat, Charles U.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Petherick, M.||Templeton, William P.|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Liewellin, Major John J||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Pybus, Percy John||Thorp. Linton Theodore|
|MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Titchfieid, Major the Marquess of|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on T.)|
|McConnell, Sir Joseph||Ramsbotham, Herwaid||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Ray, Sir William||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|McLean, Major Alan||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Macquisten, Frederick Alexander||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Reynolds, Col. Sir James Philip||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Robinson, John Roland||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour|
|Margesson, Capt. Henry David R.||Rosbotham, S. T.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross, Ronald D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Rothschild, James A. de||Womersley, Walter James|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Runge, Norah Cecil||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield,B'tslde)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Rutherford. Sir John Hugo||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Salmon, Major Isidore||Sir George Penny and Captain|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Austin Hudson.|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Healy, Cahir||Price, Gabriel|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thorne, William James|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Daggar, George||Lawson, John James||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Williams. Thomas (York, Don valley)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Maxton, James||Mr. Gordon Macdonald and Mr.|
Question put, and agreed to.