HC Deb 19 January 1937 vol 319 cc8-10
9. Mr. Lewis

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has any further statement to make as to the relations between this country and the Irish Free State?

Mr. MacDonald

Yes, Sir. It has been agreed to continue for another year the trade arrangement concluded at the beginning of last year, subject to possible modifications of detail within the general framework of the arrangement. Discussions on some points of detail are now proceeding. As the House is aware, I had conversations with Mr. de Valera when he was in London last Thursday on a number of matters affecting relations between the Irish Free State and this country. I would emphasise that those talks were informal, and that no formal negotiations are in progress. Arising out of the conversations certain matters are now under examination, and until that examination is complete I cannot say whether any further discussions are imminent. I would add that the United Kingdom Government are ready to take any opportunity which presents itself of reaching a satisfactory settlement on outstanding questions between the two countries.

Mr. Lewis

Has my right hon. Friend impressed on the Government of the Irish Free State that membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations implies not only readiness to share in the benefits but willingness to share in the obligations?

Mr. MacDonald

That is a matter which, of course, the Government have very much in mind.

Mr. Lunn

Now that the right hon. Gentleman has established contact with the Government of the Irish Free State, is he taking steps to maintain it and to make arrangements for further meetings?

Mr. MacDonald

I think that if the hon. Member will read the answer carefully, he will see that I have that in mind.

Sir Ronald Ross

Will my right hon. Friend give me an assurance that the political future of myself and my constituents is not one of the matters which he has under consideration?

Mr. Logan

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the negotiations that have been going on, may I ask him whether he is aware of the lamentable state of trade on the Merseyside, and whether it is possible in these negotiations for the embargo on cattle to be taken off with a view to making the position in England better?

Mr. MacDonald

With regard to that question, the arrangement which we have agreed to renew has already brought considerable benefit to the trade of both countries, and I think the Merseyside has a share of that benefit. With regard to my hon. Friend's question, the position of the Government in this country is, of course, that any change in the relations between the two Governments in Ireland would require the consent of both Governments.

Sir Arthur Michael Samuel

In the discussions that have taken place, has there been any discussion with regard to the default on the land annuities?