HL Deb 06 February 1929 vol 72 cc866-8

My Lords, I beg to ask the Question standing in my name—[to ask His Majesty's Government if they will state the intentions of the British Government and of the Irish Free State Government respectively as to carrying into effect the two decisions of the Privy Council in the Wigg and Cochrane case, and making payments in accordance with those decisions to Messrs. Wigg and Cochrane and the other ex-British civil servants whose rights are governed by those decisions]—and to move for Papers.


My Lords, I am sorry to say I am not in a position to give the noble Lord an answer to the Question which he has put down on the Paper. Sometime ago, in another place, the Secretary of State said that if a Question on this subject was postponed until to-day he hoped to be able to give an answer. I regret to say that that hope has not been fulfilled, but I very much hope that on Tuesday next it will be possible to make a statement on this subject. In the circumstances I shall be glad if the noble Lord is prepared to put his Question off till that day, or later.


My Lords, I do most earnestly hope that His Majesty's Government will make some effort to have this matter terminated. These British civil servants, who were transferred to the Irish Free State, have for six years been litigating on this matter, and this most unprecedented thing happened, that, having got judgment in their favour after five years, they were then told the case must be reconsidered, a thing unparalleled in the history of the law of this country. Then, when they get a second judgment in their favour, which was delivered several months ago, the matter is allowed to hang on as if it were not of the slightest importance that British civil servants should be kept out of their rights all these years. I do most earnestly impress upon His Majesty's Government that some justice ought to be done to these men.


My Lords, I quite agree with my noble and learned friend that these gentlemen have very great reason to complain, but as far as we are concerned, we are doing our utmost to bring this matter to a final conclusion. If I thought we were not in sight of a final conclusion I should be at least as regretful as my noble and learned friend. I can only ask him to trust us a little longer—I know he has some difficulty in doing so—and we hope that in the course of a few days it may be possible to give an answer. As to whether my noble friend [the Earl of Plymouth] will be able to give an answer actually on Tuesday next, I do not think we must pledge ourselves, but we will give an answer as soon as we possibly can.


My Lords, I associate myself most fully with what has fallen from my noble and learned friend Lord Carson as to the appalling delay that has taken place in giving the men their rights as declared by a Court in Ireland and by two decisions of the Privy Council. For the life of me I cannot conceive how any Government with the smallest sense of decency or justice could have refused to honour the decision of the Privy Council in the way the Free State have done. However, my noble friend Lord Plymouth has appealed to me to postpone this Question until Tuesday. I know that the delay is in no way due to him, or to the noble Marquess who leads the House and, therefore, I shall have to comply with his request and postpone the matter till Tuesday. By that time I do most earnestly hope that we shall have a decision in accordance with decency and with justice. I beg to move that the discussion on this Motion be adjourned till Tuesday.

Moved, That the debate be adjourned till Tuesday next.—(Lord Danesfort.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at five minutes past four o'clock.