§ 52. Mr. MAXTON (for Mr. McGOVERN)
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Government are prepared to consider the ending of the dispute between the Irish Free State and this country on the basis of a united Ireland under one Parliament?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
The position of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in this matter has been set out in paragraph 4 of my despatch of the 9th April, 1932, to the Minister for External Affairs of the Irish Free State (published in Cmd. 4056) as supplemented by the reply which I gave in Parliament to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) on the 15th April, 1932. I have nothing to add to those statements.
There can be no last word, but, if my hon. Friend means that either this Government or any other Government would coerce Ulster into an agreement against their will, he does not understand the position.
§ Mr. RONALD ROSS
Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the liberty and the freedom of the people of Northern Ireland cannot form part of any bargain?
The Treaty provided for agreement on condition that both sides were willing to come to terms. No one knows better than the hon. Member that recent events in Southern Ireland are not calculated, to put it no higher, to inspire Northern Ireland to enter into any agreement.
§ Mr. R. ROSS
Are we not supposed to have bought the friendship of the Irish Free State already by the Treaty?
§ Mr. MAXTON
I recognise all the difficulties of the situation, but does not the fact that the right hon. Gentleman holds his present position offer an unrivalled opportunity for this country to go into the whole Irish problem in a new spirit?
There is no Member of the Government who would not welcome a settlement, but we do not get a settlement by capitulating to terms which in the end would be more disastrous than the existing situation.