§ 25. Mr. HANNON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs if his attention has been called to the declaration made by the Minister of Finance in His Majesty's Dominion of the Irish Free State, which indicated a desire for the settlement of the differences between this country and the Irish Free State; and if any negotiations are in process with this object in view?
26. Mr. VYVYAN ADAMS
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has any statement to make with regard to the differences outstanding between Great Britain and the Irish Free State?
Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I have seen a report of the statement by the Minister of Finance of the Irish Free State, to which my hon. Friend refers, and I was glad to note its conciliatory tone. Later speeches, however, which have been made in the Irish Free State do not unfortunately seem to confirm any hope which might be derived from Mr. McEntee's statement. Notwithstanding this, as I have said before, and as I now repeat, if a satisfactory basis for discussion can be found we are ready at any time to enter into negotiations with the Irish Free State Government for the settlement of all outstanding questions.
§ Mr. HANNON
Is the House to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that His Majesty's Government are prepared at any time when a gesture is made at the instance of the Irish Free State to consider carefully and sympathetically some means of putting an end to this deplorable state of affairs?
I have repeatedly stated, notwithstanding all the provocation and statements from the other side, that the door has never been shut by His Majesty's Government.
I am asked whether I saw a certain statement made by the Finance Minister. I saw it and appreciated it, and thought, "This may be an opening." Within a week Mr. de Valera 16 makes his statement and says, "We will never pay." What earthly use is there in my taking the initiative?
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
Is it now simply a question of payment or nonpayment? Is there not a difficult general situation created which could be alleviated by a word from the right hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I would like to ask whether the time has not now arrived for us to stretch out the right hand of friendship to the Irish. Let us be big enough. They have stood by us on many occasions.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I would like to ask if the time is not opportune and if we cannot be big enough to settle our differences? Give the Irish what they want.