HC Deb 20 June 1938 vol 337 cc702-3
60. Sir W. Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether his attention has been called to a public statement made by Mr. Sean O'Kelly, the Vice-President and Minister for Local Government of the Eire Executive Council, to the effect that the Government of Eire had administered a sound whipping to John Bull in the recent Agreement between Great Britain and the Government of Eire; and what action has been taken by His Majesty's Government in Great Britain in the matter, as this statement directly conflicts with the assurances given by Mr. de Valera, prior to the signing of the Agreement, that the concessions made by Great Britain to the Government of Eire under the Agreement would undoubtedly result in the promotion of good feeling between the two countries?

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Lord Stanley)

The answer to the first part of my hon. Friend's question is "Yes." As regards the second part, no action has been taken.

Sir W. Davison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Mr. O'Kelly is the Deputy-Prime Minister of Eire, and that after making this statement he was in communication with the Prime Minister, Mr. de Valera, and that Mr. de Valera has never repudiated in any way this statement; and is it not desirable, having regard to the statements which were made in this House, that we should know where Great Britain stands in this matter.

Lord Stanley

My hon. Friend knows, as well as I do, with his great experience of general elections the deteriorating effect they sometimes have on speechmaking. The speech of Mr. O'Kelly does not represent the view that is generally taken of the Agreements with Eire, and I think that it might be as well if I quote a passage from Mr. de Valera's election address in which he says: To promote harmony and good will among all sections of the Irish people and friendly relations with the neighbouring peoples of Britain must in the coming years be a chief preoccupation of those who are given the commission of government. I think that in those circumstances the speech of Mr. O'Kelly might well be ignored.

Sir Ronald Ross

Would my right hon. Friend like me to draw his attention to other less cordial utterances, or would he rather not hear them?