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Clause 1—(Power Of His Majesty To Give Effect To Peace Treaty)
21 July 1919
Volume 118

(1) His Majesty may make such appointments, establish such offices, make such Orders in Council, and do such things as appear to him to be necessary for carrying out the said Treaty, and for giving effect to any of the provisions of the said Treaty.

(2) Any Order in Council made under this Act may provide for the imposition by summary process or otherwise of penalties in respect of breaches of the provisions thereof, and shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after it is made and shall have effect as if enacted in this Act, but may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order in Council and shall not be deemed to be a statutory Rule within the meaning of Section 1 of the Roles Publication Act, 1893.

(3) Any expenses incurred in carrying out the said Treaty shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament.

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I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words,

"make such Orders in Council."
I move this Amendment because my right hon. Friend did not make the point which I think, personally, is a sound one, tamely, that in a matter of international importance which seeks to carry out the object of this Treaty of Peace between His Majesty and certain other Powers we ought not to proceed by Orders in Council, and that whatever is proposed between the Powers and our own country ought to be laid before the House as a matter of distinct legislation. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is a very old Parliamentary hand and knows how Orders in Council have to lie on the Table for a certain number of days and how the Government require to find time for their discussion and how they cannot be discussed unless the Prime Minister of the day agrees to give time for their discussion. It seems to me that the matters which will arise in connection with the Treaty of Peace are in an entirely different category from any other Orders in Council. You treat as ordinary Orders in Council such as an Order I am familiar with, the Order dealing with Scottish education, and of course in a sense it is all right that you should lay such an Order on the Table for so many days, and that time should be asked for its discussion, after, I believe according to the Orders of the House, eleven o'clock at night, and then you must have a quorum of Members. I am dealing with this matter not with a view to obstructing, but in view of the great importance of the questions which will arise it does seem to me that the laying of Orders in Council is rather a slipshod way of dealing with such important questions. I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether those questions, which must be many and must be important, could not be brought before the House of Commons in some other way than the routine way, which so few Members notice. If this must be brought to the notice of the House by some ordinary Member getting up and putting a question asking for time for a discussion in a certain period. After all, if we are attempting to settle peace let us try to get peace; let us put war behind us. I am willing to forgive, the Prime Minister all the quarrels I have ever had with him, and I hope he is willing to forgive me, so long as we can get a really good settlement out of it, and I am rather afraid that if all the questions that are raised are raised by the method of Orders in Council it is not a dignified method of dealing with them.

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It will save the time of the Committee perhaps, if you, Sir, will kindly exercise a little indulgence in regard to the remarks I have to make. The Order in Council, as described in Sub-section (2) is, I think my right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General will agree, drafted in very wide terms, and in such terms, I think, as would give to the Executive far more power than the House would really desire to give them. It will be observed that an Order in Council may provide for the imposition by summary process or other-wise, and penalties in respect of breaches of the provisions thereof. That means the whole of this vast Treaty which is now laid on the Table of the House. What I am suggesting to the Government is this, that if they cannot meet my hon. Friend as suggested they might meet us to this extent, that they should so alter Sub-section (2) as to make it follow the precedent which from time to time has been observed in this House in regard to these Orders in Council. Words might be introduced to the effect that these Orders in Council should be subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament, and that if an Address is presented by either House of Parliament to His Majesty with regard thereto, as to the Order as a whole, or as to any part of it then there upon the Order should cease to have effect, without prejudice of course, to any acts which may have been done previously there under. That, I think, would give to both Houses of Parliament a proper Parliamentary opportunity of seeing that powers which the Executive take here in the name of the King are subject to proper Parliamentary control and criticism. I think the suggestion I am now making, in which my Friend agrees, is a very reasonable one.

Might I also ask this question in regard to the trial of the Kaiser? That, of course, is a matter of the very greatest importance. For that to be pushed through by an Order in Council is, I am sure, a procedure which, on reflection, Parliament and the Executive might not agree to undertake. That, I should think, might much more properly be done by a short Bill. It would certainly be much more dignified than doing it by an Order in Council. These are the suggestions which I venture to make to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will meet us in the directions I have suggested.

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We have considered this question of Orders in Council very carefully, and have had the very best advice we can get, not only from the Law Officers of the Crown, but from the Foreign Office advisers, and they inform me that it would be quite impossible at the present moment to fore-see every possible contingency that might arise in a colossal matter of this kind. Therefore, you could not have an Act of Parliament that would now equip you with all the necessary powers, and it is necessary that you should have some elastic procedure that would meet a sudden emergency. I could not, even at the present moment, forecast what kind of questions might arise. There are questions such, for instance, as pre-war debts and matters of that kind, where you undoubtedly would require certain Orders in Council. That is the answer I give to my right hon. Friend with regard to these things.

It is not proposed to have a great system of penalties like the Defence of the Realm Act. There are only two cases which I can think of at the present moment where penalties are required, and it is to meet these two cases that we have inserted the words to which he has referred to. One is the case of pre-war debts. It is very necessary that these pre-war debts should be collected through a clearing house in order to secure proper cancellation, hoping we shall be able to secure control of that under Order in Council at the earliest possible moment. The other case is that of the mixed tribunals. It is very necessary that we should have the power to secure the attendance of witnesses. As my right hon. Friend knows, from his legal knowledge, you cannot have that unless there is a penalty for non-attendance. These are the only two cases in which my learned Friend the Solicitor-General indicates to me as possible cases where penalties might have to be inflicted in order to enable us efficiently to carry out the Treaty. But if the Government were to bind themselves absolutely at this stage, either by inserting it in this Act of Parliament or otherwise, that these were only cases in which Orders of this kind were to be issued, that might hamper and embarrass us in the execution of the Treaty, perhaps very seriously, at a moment when Parliament was not sitting. The Committee will see that it is very important, not merely that you should get the Treaty through, but that it should be enforced. That is my objection to any stipulation which would make it necessary, before an Order in Council could come into operation, that there should be a Debate in this House. If the House were sitting, the Government could give an undertaking that an opportunity should be afforded—if any hon. Members were seriously disposed to challenge it, then the usual opportunity would be given for discussion. If my right hon. Friend is satisfied with that, I should be prepared to give that undertaking on behalf of the Government.

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:What I mean is that reasonable opportunity should be given for discussion before eleven o'clock.

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If there is a real desire on the part of the House to discuss any Order in Council under the Treaty, it is right that the House should be afforded that opportunity, and the Government will give the undertaking.

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A reasonable opportunity !

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:Yes, a reasonable opportunity for discussion, and if my right hon. Friend would be satisfied with that it would meet the exigencies of the case. But it would be a very serious thing if the House insisted on our trying, at the present moment, to forecast every possible contingency which an Order in Council would have to meet. Sudden emergencies might arise, and might require, I will not say sudden changes in the Treaty, but in the method of enforcing it. Complications such as those involved in this matter can only be met by a fairly broad method of procedure.

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:I do not think my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has really quite dealt with the difficulty that has been raised. In the Sub-section as drafted there is no opportunity at all given for the House to express its opinion on an Order in Council. There is this difference from the ordinary drafting in dealing with Orders in Council generally. In modern times the ordinary drafting has provided that the Order in Council is perfectly good, and lies on the Table, and an opportunity is given to the House to move an Address asking for its rejection or alteration in some particular. That does give a measure of Parliamentary control over Orders in Council, and it is the course which, I think, has been followed in every case in my reollection in recent years. If something of that kind could he done, it would be right, because, after all, these are very important matters, and it is right that the House should retain some control.

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Suppose the House were not sitting?

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:Then the Order in Council would be perfectly good, but when the House did meet they could move an Address if the Order in Council had not expired or had not been executed. That is the ordinary rule.

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Without prejudice to anything thereunder?

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Yes. The other point—with which the Prime Minister did not deal—was the question of the trial of the Kaiser. I do not know if he thinks that is a matter of such importance that, perhaps, the details of the trial ought to be submitted to the House first. Perhaps it is possible that some hon. Members would suggest, when the question of the trial came up, that it would be better that it should take place in some other place than London. If that is the case, I think that could easily be met, not by dealing with it in the Bill at all, but by a statement of the Prime Minister that before the trial took place he would give the House some opportunity of expressing its opinion on the arrangements proposed for the trial. These are the two points. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman can say anything to meet them.

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:I want to be quite clear what it is that my Noble Friend is asking for. Is it clear that he would not object to an Order in Council being issued without discussion?

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Certainly!

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I agree.

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:Then I would have no hesitation in giving that pledge. I had a form of words here, but I am not sure, it does not pledge us—

"Not in an Order in Council unless the House is sitting."
That might be a serious embarrassment. I do not propose the words, but I will promise to consider, by the time the Bill reaches another place, if it is necessary to insert any words of this kind, making it clear that we shall not be prevented from issuing an Order in Council during a "Vacation," through the fact that there is an undertaking given that there should be an opportunity given for a discussion within twenty-one days.

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:If I might interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. In several Bills recently these conditions have been introduced, with the distinct understanding that if the House of Commons is not sitting it does not prejudice the execution of the Order, nor does a reversal of it, if it is done, afterwards, have retrospective effect on any action taken under it.

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:Still, if definite words were introduced in an Act of Parliament, an undertaking would not be sufficient.

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:Therefore, I would rather have more time to consider the point. I will promise to see that words are introduced in another place, if it is necessary to do so, to meet the point. With regard to the question of the arrangements for the trial of the Kaiser, if the House of Commons really desires to discuss those arrangements, I have no doubt at all that my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) will see that every facility is given for that purpose, should it be thought desirable for a discussion in the House of Parliament upon a very delicate subject.

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It might or it might not.

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Let us see that we have the position quite clear in regard to this not unimportant matter. It is that my right hon. Friend will consider, if we let this stage go to-night—because we know how inconvenient it is to put it off till to-morrow, though, of course, in ordinary circumstances it would stand over, but we all know that hon. Members desire to clear this matter off to-night—the understanding is that if the Bill goes up, un-amended, to-night, the Prime Minister, with his advisers, will consider whether in another place an alteration shall be made if it is clear that during a Vacation the Executive would have the power to make an Order in Council and to take action there under. Then it would be subject, when the House sits again, to the Order being laid in the usual way, and then, by the Address of either House, it could be revoked without prejudice to what might have happened there under. That is the undertaking?

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That is so. I accept that.

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I want to be quite clear. If the Order in Council were to be laid during the Recess it would have become operative before we came back?

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Therefore we could not discuss it. There would be no use in discussing it when we came back—

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No, no—

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—because it would be operative, and would have been put into operation. I want to be quite frank, and I hope we are clearing up misunderstandings about these matters. An Order in Council is laid on the Table for thirty days. If, before the end of the thirty days, it is not challenged and there is no discussion it becomes operative. I, personally, would be willing to give the Prime Minister the advantage of a fairly long vacation. But supposing we rose some time in August and there were no Autumn Session—it is perhaps very optimistic to assume that—and we did not meet until February, there would be an opportunity for a large number of Orders in Council which the House of Commons could never discuss, and which would be entirely in the hands of the Government. In many senses I am quite prepared to trust the Government, but they ought not to ask us to agree to Orders in Council for so long a period of time. If, for instance, as some people seem to indicate, we should meet, after rising in the middle of August, at the end of October, I would be willing to take any risk of Orders in Council being issued during that period of two months. But the Prime Minister ought not to ask us, on a matter of such importance, on which the fate of so many of the peoples of the world depends, to extend the period to, say, six months.

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It cannot be that.

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:I would like to be correct on that, and perhaps the Chairman would help us in this matter. It is quite important. Orders in Council are so important, as compared with legislation, that I do not want to give the Government the liberty of such a long period, in case the House adjourns till February, in which to make Orders in Council.

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My hon. Friend cannot mean to hold up the Treaty for six months if the House of Commons is not sitting. That is an unreasonable demand, and I should dissociate myself from any such request. What is reasonable is that the Order in Council shall be made and acted upon as soon as it is made, whenever it is made, but that none the less it shall be laid upon the Table of the House as soon as it sits—as soon as possible after it is made. If the House is not sitting you cannot lay it on the Table. My hon. Friend is wrong in thinking you can lay the Order unless the House is sitting. But let it be laid as soon as the House sits and within twenty-one days or whatever period the House likes to fix it shall be possible for the House to present an Address asking for the revocation of the Order. Mean— while the Order is to be operative. That seems to be essential if the Treaty is to be carried out. That means, I agree, a considerable concession of the power of this House, but the House still retains the power to censure the Government in effect if, on an unwarrantable Order, the House desires to enforce its opinion hostile to it! That is the best we can do in the circumstances, and I take it that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minster agrees to that procedure.

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In that case I am perfectly willing to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment on the ground that we have the power to test the question in the House if the Government proceed in a way the House of Commons does not approve.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

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I would like to exercise my right, when the House is in Committee, to interpolate the Government on Sub-section (3) of Clause 1. I raised this question on a minor Motion which came before the House on Friday regarding the expenses of carrying out the Pence Treaty. I made some inquiries then which were not in order, and I want to know if they are in order now. What are the expenses which are to be incurred in carrying out the Peace Treaty and to be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament? It seems to me that a Clause should be put in the Bill. I thought it was part of the Constitution that such moneys should be approved by Parliament, but be that as it may, I think we have the right to ask the Government what the expenses are going to be? Are the expenses for the secretariat of the League of Nations all that are required? Or is this credit for new territories in connection with carrying out the terms of the Treaty? It seems to me very vague and, perhaps, it is necessarily so. There may be a simple explanation, but I am at least entitled to ask for that explanation, and perhaps a few words from the Prime Minister will clear the matter up.

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I can give the hon. and gallant Member the explanation. If he will go through the Clauses of the Treaty he will see that the execution of every one of them will incur expense. Take the indemnity.

There will be expenses in connection with that; there will be expenses in connection with the Commission and our representation upon it. Take the other Clauses which I referred to in connection with the debts, the setting-up of the clearing house—there will be expenses in connection with that. Then there is the prosecution for offences against the laws of war, there will be expenses in connection with that. I could go through the whole list, and the hon. and gallant Member will find that there will be some expenditure which will be essential in each. It will be subject, of course, to discussion in the ordinary way. The amounts will be in the Estimates, and hon. Members will have full opportunity of discussing them when they come before Committee of Supply.

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By a regular Vote?

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Oh, yes!

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Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down let me put this to him. It is an important constitutional point for the future and a matter affecting the League of Nations and its secretariat. It is one of the most important points we can consider at the moment, though hon. Members outside the Bar may treat it lightly. Does this mean that the salary of the permanent secretary of the League of Nations Council can be discussed in this House, the amount of it, and does that mean that the whole policy pursued by the Council of the League of Nations can also be discussed on that Vote?

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That is a matter upon which, I think, Mr. Whitley will be able to give a ruling. It is a matter of Parliamentary procedure. But undoubtedly our contribution to the secretariat of the League of Nations will be on the Estimates; we shall need a Vote of that amount, and whether you can only discuss the amount or whether you will be able to discuss the policy of the League of Nations Council is a question which it is not for a Minister to answer. It is entirely a matter of procedure for the House of Commons, and I do not think I dare express an opinion on that.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ( Short Title) ordered to stand part of the Bill

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That the Bill be now read the third time."

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:I beg to move, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the question to add the words

"upon this day three months."
I move the rejection of this Treaty in view of the remarkable speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister here to-night. In a House charged with an atmosphere of friendship towards Ireland the right hon. Gentleman rose and delivered a speech which in my judgment, wherever it is read to-morrow in any country where the English language is spoken, will not only cause deep and poignant sorrow but startle every nation that reads it. We are met to-day for the purpose of giving official sanction to a Peace Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech was moved by not one solitary sentiment of sympathy for a struggling nationality. Nor had he a single contribution to offer to a settlement of the Irish question. He made a declaration which, I think was made by the most bitter and violent of Irish enemies in the past, that Ireland was not a nation. He declared that distinctly. I would be unworthy of my nationality, and I would be an object of contempt everywhere if I did not rise at this stage and resent that declaration coming from him or any other British Minister. Ireland is a nation, a nation as old, a nation that has fine ideals, a nation that has as glorious a record and as proud traditions as any nation in Europe, and for a Prime Minister whose whole life has been gauged in the apostolate of preaching the glory of his own nationality, to rise in this House and use the position he has gained and the prestige he has won in this War to level insult at the nation to which I belong—I fling that insult back in his face. He comes here and tells us that the solution of the Irish problem is that there are two nations in Ireland, and that you can never have the Irish question solved until one of these nations goes under to the other. Is that the right hon. Gentleman's solution? It was not always his opinion. I heard him in this House repeatedly during the Home Rule controversies, and no man was ever more eloquent or more powerful in dissenting from the principle that Ulster was to dominate Ireland.

1.0 A.M.

What did he say on 13th June, 1912, in a Debate in this House?
"What, therefore is the demand of Ulster? Not that she should be protected herself, not that she should have autonomy herself, but the right to veto autonomy to the rest of Ireland. That is an intolerable demand. There are two or three constituencies in "Wales, where you have got opposition to the Welsh Church Bill. Is it suggested they should be left out or because of their veto that the rest, of Wales should not count? Take the case of Johannesburg, or rather the case of the Transvaal. Suppose there were a demand from Johannesburg, and suppose the said they would be in a minority—because you must assume that—of one-third of the population, said, We are the wealthiest part of the Transvaal, and because we are British in blood—if they were—and because we have got business connections with the British Empire, because we are loyalists, because we have always stood by the Empire we do not demand separate autonomy for Johannesburg, but we demand the right to refuse autonomy to the rest of the Transvaal.' Now that is the situation here. It has never been put forward in any other way. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham said so last night that this is a thing you cannot get. If it is impracticable, that means if you vote for it, and if it is carried, the wrecking of the Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin and every other speaker on the other side of the House admitted it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 13th June, 1912, cols. 1126–27, Vol. 39.]
The right hon. Gentleman, in repeated declarations, which I can quote from his speeches, has said an entirely different thing to what he has stated in this House to-night. Yet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn delivered a speech on the 20th July in Belfast, and made a declaration in which he challenged the might and power of the British Empire. He told the right hon. Gentleman that he dare not do justice to Ireland because he would not allow him to do it, and would bring all his forces, organise his volunteers, and bring out all the scientific machinery of war against this Empire if the right hon. Gentleman and his Government dared to do that which the right hon. Gentleman has preached in this House as a just and proper thing for Ireland, for the Empire, and for the world. The right hon. Gentleman, denounced by the British Press, assailed by every responsible public man, charged with being the fomenter of anarchy and Bolshevism in the declarations he has made, comes and witnesses his triumph. For his triumph was found in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to-night. That is the sole result of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It means that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn has intimidated the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of England, who fought the Kaiser, who fought German power, has bowed down before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn. And this is the hypocrisy of it all—to come here and talk about human liberty and the rights of small nationalities; to come here and to speak of the rights of every small nation and every large nation to determine its own destiny; to wait until the Peace Conference had concluded and then come down and clash and bang the door in the face of Ireland. That is a fine spectacle to present to the world. For my part, I will decline to vote for this Peace Treaty. We may be very few in numbers; probably there will be only three or four going into the Division Lobby against it. If there are only three or four, you are responsible for it. You killed the constitutional movement first, and you now want to kill Irish liberty. You want to let loose in Ireland every element which is opposed to you, and to crush every element that wanted to be your friends. That is the only moral I can draw from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. But the world will learn tomorrow, for it will be wafted everywhere, that, while you were engaged with your smug self-complacency in satisfying your-selves what splendid creatures you are, you were the defenders of human liberty everywhere where human liberty was assailed outside your own shores, except Ireland, which constitutes something more powerful than is to be counted by votes in this House or power even in the country. But Ireland's voice will be heard yet.

I am sorry for this situation. To-night, in my speech, I spoke the genuine sentiment of my heart. I was profoundly anxious, deeply desirous—nothing could be more passionate than my desire—to bring about friendly relations between these two islands. Does the Prime Minister think this thing can end here? His gallant Ally America came into the War for reasons which I stated in the quotations which I read from the speech of President Wilson. President Wilson will have to go before the people of America. He will not have a very friendly audience as he passes on his itinerary. It was a tremendous sacrifice when he came into the War. It was with a terrific sacrifice that he remained in the War. He brought forces which if not responsible for your triumph brought it sooner than it would otherwise have come. Yet you place this man and all the force that stand behind him in this impossible position—you leave him to face the Irish race in America. He will have to face hostile elements that are not Irish. He will have to face political hostility to his policy. What have you done? You have consolidated his opponents. You have gathered into one great arena all the forces against him. Yet not by one gesture, not by one solitary sympathetic phrase, did the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to ease that position here to-night. It is cruel, it is callous, this tragic position which the right hon. Gentleman has placed everyone in, and while he may treat it with contempt I tell him this. I do not know if he heard the speech I read to-night or not. I do not know whether he knows the sentiments of General Smuts or not. What was the declaration he made? He said, "If you do not solve this Irish question it is the end of the British Empire." General Smuts is no street-corner rhetorician. General Smuts is not a second Jack Jones. In order to salve the offence, if my hon. Friend accepts it, General Smuts is not a second edition of myself. General Smuts is a great and responsibe statesman, a high idealist. He has thought this problem out. He came from a far-off land. He was one of your greatest and most powerful friends. He came here and he has contributed his share not only to your victory but to your peace, and he tells you that if you do not settle the Irish question it means the end of the British Empire. Yet, the right hon. Gentleman, on the first opportunity he has, comes to this House and says that when two nations settle their conflict he will endeavour to settle the Irish problem. I am inclined to agree with General Smuts. General Smuts does not count, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn does. That is really what it amounts to. The nation that fought the Kaiser must fall down and grovel before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn. I admit the Ulster question is a difficult question. We should bring our joint wisdom to endeavour to solve it. I admit all that. The right hon. Gentleman says that it is no matter that five-sixths of an ancient race for more than half a thousand years has fought for its freedom, and has never been conquered. We are told that that race is still to go on with its unconquered traditions and its influence throughout the world, but that the controversy can only be solved when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Duncairn and two or three counties in the North of Ireland decide how and when it ought to be settled.

There is to my mind something more vital than peace abroad, and that is peace at home. How are you going to create and preserve peace at home? The only triumphant declaration at the present moment is the declaration of the Member for Duncairn. I saw in a newspaper last Saturday that a man was brought before a resident magistrate in England for threatening to murder his wife. What was his defence? He said, "No, I only said that if certain things happened and under certain conditions I would murder her," and the magistrate on the bench said, "Is not that what Sir Edward Carson said?" The counsel for the defence replied, "Yes, that is what he said." The magistrate then said it was only to be murder in certain circumstances, and he only bound the man over. I happened to be in Trafalgar Square on Sunday. I understand the Prime Minister passed at the same time, though he did not wait to hear the speeches. One of the speakers told the people how to commit acts of disorder. He said, "If certain things occur then I advise you to take a certain course. That word "if" will be known in history as the mightiest weapon in the hands of everyone who wants to break the law. Yet that "if" was the weapon that cowed the Prime Minister and forced him to turn his back upon all his declarations of the last twenty-five years in favour of Home Rule. It is a pity that on a day like this, when the spirit of peace prevails, and the whole world is watching what the British Legislature will do, that atmosphere of peace should be disturbed. I cannot fathom the speech of the right hon. Gentleman here to-night. He has told us distinctly that there is to be no settlement now or in the near future of this Irish question.

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indicated dissent.

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I am glad the right hon. Gentleman dissents from that. I unfortunately have as much reason to complain as any hon. Member in this House of the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman, but I have always recognised, and have always felt that deep down in his heart there was a love of liberty and an attachment to democracy. I always hated to attack him, although the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues may think that I am never appearing without attacking him. I hate this job, but I must do it, because I must speak the truth, though the heavens should fall. Here to-night, when you are giving national sanction to your Peace Treaty, I tell you it is not a Peace Treaty. There never will be peace in the world until the Irish question is settled. It is not easy of solution, but there is no attempt to solve it. There is only an attempt to insult us, to tell us we are not a nation. The right hon. Gentleman told us to engage in internecine battle and in civil war in which British blood will flow, and out of that there will be a settlement. That to me is the most extraordinary thing I have ever heard. I understood that liberty would spring from peace and not war, that good would be the direct result of a common spirit of sacrifice. Now the remnant of us here are to go back to our people and tell them there is no hope for them except in revolution—not revolution against you, because they are in a minority, but revolution of mind, revolution of heart, revolution of spirit, the perpetuation of hatred and distrust between two peoples.

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I rise to second the Amendment, because I feel that one Englishman, at any rate, supports my hon. Friend behind me. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"] Irishmen have been killed by my side in this War. If hon. Members choose this occasion to cry "Divide," I would remind them that Parliament is on its trial. I am not connected with the South of Ireland, but there is another reason. I represent a constituency in which there are many Irish voters. When I was elected I gave those electors certain pledges that I would speak up for Ireland in this House. On this opportunity I mean to keep that pledge, and if that example were followed by more hon. Members in this House we should have straighter dealing, and England's word would be more respected in the, world. There is a third reason. I would remind you that I stand in the place of a man who is much missed in the House, and I wish he were here in my place now. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] I quite agree with the hon. Member. He would be listened to more than I should be. I did not come here in any sense as a careerist, but to speak for truth and justice, and I wish I had the authority that Sir Mark Sykes had in the House. I would remind hon. Members who speak of this matter lightly that there may be bloodshed in the next few days in Ireland, and perhaps there will be less laughter when we get the news of such tragic happenings. There has been bloodshed there for some months. The idea that a small privileged minority can keep down a nation was defeated at the Battle of the Maine, in 1914. Prussianism was defeated then, and the final victory over Prussianism then was only a matter of time. The final victory over Prussianism in Ireland now is only a matter of time, and it is a question whether we have peace in Ireland with honour or dishonour. It is a matter of entering into negotiations to sec what we can do. It is no time to speak of strategic dangers as the Prime Minister hinted in his most disappointing speech to-night. That kind of talk I hope has not been able to sway too much this Peace Treaty on which we are going to vote. Let us make one final appeal. The Irish race has given much to this Empire in blood. Irishmen's bones lie everywhere where this War has been fought. Anyone and any hon. Member who has fought in this War will testify to their bravery in Gallipoli and elsewhere. You say that not many Irishmen fought in this War. There are two places where you can find many Irishmen's names on the roll of honour, and where they were decorated for valour. And not only the Irishmen from Ireland—the native-born Irishmen—but they came from the Dominions oversea.

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Thirty-six and a half per cent. of the American soldiers are of Irish descent.

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They came here and fought for the small nations, and they are refused the liberty of small nations. I hope my hon. Friend will divide on this. If there are only two or three men who support him it will not matter. There are going to be some men who speak out in this House against the wicked, foul injustice which has been done in that name of liberty and right. I have this right to say this. I speak for my Irish Constituents. I will keep my pledge and will speak on every possible occasion until right and justice are done. I will not forget the men whom I have seen fall by my side, Irishmen from the South of Ireland, who would have spurned this. I have much pleasure in seconding the rejection of the Bill.

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I do not know to what extent I am in order in a discussion on the Peace Treaty in entering into a discussion of the Irish problem. But I would like to say a few words in reply to what fell from the hon. Members who moved and seconded the rejection of this Bill. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just eat down talked a good deal about truth and justice, but he has not faced what are the facts in applying his principles to the case of Ireland.

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I am quite prepared to do so.

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I have not changed in the least in my attitude to-wards the Irish question. The declaration I made about Ulster is a declaration which was not made by me in the first instance; it was made by my predecessor, Mr. Asquith, in this House, in the presence of the hon. Members from Ireland, without any protest from them, and made it perfectly clear that he would be no party to establishing any Parliament in Ireland which would involve the placing of Ulster, by coercive measures, under the dominion of that Parliament. I repeated that statement. I became Prime Minister a year or two afterwards. The speech quoted by the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Devlin) was that in which I deprecated the right of Ulster to veto self-government for the rest of Ireland. That is a very different proposition. I stand by that.

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:Did the right hon. Gentleman vote against the Motion to exclude the Ulster provinces?

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I forget, at the moment, what was the Motion.

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It was a Motion by the late Mr. Agar-Robartes.

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:The view I presented to my colleagues when that Home Rule Bill was first framed was that I never thought it possible to establish a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland and compel Ulster to come in.

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Did the right hon. Gentleman hear his own letter read by my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool?

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I am going to deal with that. I am not going to shirk it. I have always thought so. The idea, that this is something which I said as the result of a speech delivered in Belfast by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for one of the Divisions of Belfast is perfectly absurd. I made a declaration on that subject in a manifesto which I issued to the electors before this last election, in which I made it perfectly clear that I thought we should make an attempt to settle the Irish question, in the interests not merely of Ireland but of the British Empire. But there was one condition for a settlement, and that was that Ulster should not be compelled to come under an Irish Parliament. I made that perfectly clear in the declaration which I made to the electors. There is nothing new in the statement which I made to-night.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with his own letter?

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:I am coming to that letter, but the hon. Gentleman must allow me to deal with the matter. I cannot tell him how pained I am to have any difference with him, to begin with. I am following the policy which I, as a colleague of Mr. Asquith, agreed to.

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A bad policy.

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It may be a good or a bad policy, but it wag a policy which was unanimously agreed to by the whole of his colleagues.

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No, no!

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He spoke in the name of the whole of his colleagues in that Administration. In that Administration there were Liberals, there were Labour Members—Mr. Arthur Henderson was a member—there were other Labour Members.

There were also, it is true, Unionist Members, but Mr. Asquith made that declaration in this House. I accepted it; I thought it was right. I made a similar declaration afterwards. My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that I have always thought that to be the one obstacle in the way of a settlement in Ireland. My hon. Friend refers to a letter I wrote in February, 1918. I have not refreshed my memory about that letter, but I will accept the extract read by my hon. Friend. What I said was that unity was impossible in that Conference in my judgment except on the basis of the acceptance of one Legislature.

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That is not true.

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I think my hon. Friend will find that that was what I said. I was advised by the chairman of that Conference that it was hopeless to secure agreement except on the basis of the acceptance of one Legislature. I did my best to secure the acceptance of that Amendment. If an arrangement had been arrived at by which the Ulster Members and the Members of the South of Ireland had agreed, nothing would have pleased me better, and nothing would have pleased hon. Members on both sides of the House than that. But we had to deal with objections. It is really no use expressing words of barren sympathy. We all feel that. It is no use wishing the Irish question to be settled, and saying, "It must be settled; it is essential that it shall be settled," without recognising the fundamental facts which make it difficult to settle it.

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We all know the facts.

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Believe me it is not the people who ignore the facts who will help to a settlement in the end. A mere denunciation of men who state unpalatable truths because they are truths does not help on a settlement. Here you have got, whether you call it a separate nation or whether it is a separate section of a nation, this fundamental difference between two parts of Ireland. British leaders of every party have assented to a declaration that they would take no part in setting up a Legislature in Ireland which would by force drive one section under the control of another.

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Then there never will be any settlement.

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Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to finish. If the section of Ireland which is emphatic in its demand for self-government is pre-pared to accept a measure of self-government for its own people—a liberal measure of self-government for the people who want it—that will be an easy matter to determine. That could be got. That has been repeatedly stated by men standing here who would be prepared to undertake the whole responsibility for submitting to Parliament any measure which would be necessary in order to carry it out; but if it is a condition that you should introduce and enforce a measure which includes the whole of Ireland, although you may have a solid protest from a very considerable section, then every pledge that has been given by every Member sitting on this bench, and by the leaders of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who sit on the benches opposite, stands in the way. The hon. Member opposite cheered when those quotations were made.

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Do you refer to me?

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Yes. The hon. Member supported Mr. Asquith in this declaration; he accepted it, and ho was just as much bound by it. Does he go back upon it now?

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:No. If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will explain that my criticism of the Government is that it is not exploring all practical paths leading to a settlement. That is my criticism, that he is making no attempt to settle the question.

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Then I understand that my hon. and gallant Friend still stands by the declaration he assented to at that period.

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I do not know what particular declaration the right hon. Gentleman is referring to. I cannot say that I have assented to any declaration unless I have seen the exact terms.

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Here is that declaration. Mr. Asquith says here—that is in September, 1914—speaking on behalf of the Government, that in their view and under the conditions that then existed, they must recognise that in the atmosphere which the great patriotic spirit had created in the country, the employment of force, any kind of force, for what they called the coercion of Ulster was an absolutely unthinkable thing.

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In September, 1914, I was not in the House. I was taking my part in the War, and was not able to subscribe to that declaration.

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Does he accept that declaration?

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I do not accept that declaration.

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Very well, I know exactly now where the hon. and gallant Member is. He would coerce Ulster to come into a Home Rule scheme.

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With adequate safeguards.

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I made a declaration in identical terms to that made by Mr. Asquith. I consider myself bound by it still just as much as he did. The declaration he made on his own behalf and on behalf of those who were colleagues of his at the time was that Irishmen must really face that difficulty, and I am not going into the question why what appeared to be a promising attempt to effect a settlement failed. I think it is far more important that we should get the facts. I again repeat that if the Irishmen who stand for self-government, if the Irishmen who stand for Home Rule, if the Irishmen who wish it, will take it they can get it. But if they say they will not take it unless we force into its acceptance other Irishmen who do not want it, then they are themselves placing obstacles in the way of Home Rule for Ireland.

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:Will not the right hon. Gentleman elaborate that? What does he mean by Ulster and the coercion of Ulster?

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I do not know what my hon. Friend means. In the declaration I made before the election I referred to the six Ulster Counties.

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What of the two counties?

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It is the declaration I made. It is the same declaration as I made in 1917. It is the declaration Mr. Asquith made. I am sure my hon. Friend really wants to get a settlement.

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:Mere recrimination will not help a settlement. I again appeal to Irishmen as they appeal to us. Their appeal to us is to carry through a particular settlement. In the very eloquent speech which the hon. Member for Waterford made to us to-night he referred to the Home Rule Act which stands on the Statute Book. He said, "Put that in operation." Will he tell me what part of Ireland wants that Act at the present moment?

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Bring it in and I will tell the right hon. Gentleman.

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It is not Ulster that repudiates that Act. The large majority of the representatives of Ireland are just as emphatically opposed to that Act as Ulster is. That is the difficulty. It is not a repudiation by British Ministers or by a British Parliament; it is repudiation by Irishmen themselves.

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:The right hon. Gentleman has asked me what part of Ireland wants that Act. My reply is that the right hon. Gentleman knows just as well as, if not better than, I do that that Act would have to be amended before it could come into operation at the present time. May I answer further that the Irish people have never had an opportunity of saying whether they would have that Act or not, because it has never been offered to them? Offer it, and then see.

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My hon. friend knows that the Members elected at the last election in Ireland, I think to a man, are opposed to that Act—bitterly opposed to it. If you offered it to them now, with the exception of the few Members present in this House, not one of them would vote for it. What is the good of talking about Englishmen, Welshmen and Scotsmen refusing to carry out what Ireland herself repudiates?

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Has the Government got an Irish policy?

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Certainly.

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Let us hear it.

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Our Irish policy was stated clearly in the declaration I made. I stand by that. I consider that I got a mandate from the electors to carry that out. I have no mandate to carry out any other policy. If I were to endeavour to carry out a policy which was in opposition to the statement which I made to the electors, it would be my business to go back to them. It would be a breach of faith to the electorate of this country if I took any other line. I cannot take any other line because of the pledge I have given, and because in my heart I believe it is the only method to solve the Irish question. It is the only method to secure Irish unity. My hon. Friend knows that the way to secure Irish unity is not to begin by bringing these six counties in.

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Not six counties.

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Really the hon. Member for Falls must allow others to speak. The hon. Member is constantly interrupting. He spoke for twenty-five minutes without interruption, and he must allow the Prime Minister to proceed.

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I was not interrupted because I said nothing that I could be interrupted for.

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If the hon. Member did not interrupt we should get on better.

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Mr. Speaker—

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The hon. Member is beginning again.

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I think it will help the Debate if I can get a clear answer on this point. The right hon. Gentleman talks about six counties, and about forcing people in and forcing people out. Does he mean to force outside the Irish Parliament two Ulster counties which are in favour of coming inside?

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The hon. Gentleman asked me what is the policy of the Government. I told him what our policy is, and I am prepared to discuss and defend it. I made it clear to the electorate. Let me say one other word. When that Bill was placed on the Statute Book it has been assumed in the discussion to-night that the British Government intended to enforce it. My hon. Friends from Ireland must remember the circumstances when it was placed on the Statute Book. It was with an undertaking by the then Liberal Government that there should be a separate Bill dealing with the question of Ulster. That was the condition—not subsequently, but at the time. There was an undertaking given by the then Prime Minister that if the Bill became law he would introduce a Bill to deal with the Ulster situation. At any rate, there was a definite undertaking. There has been no departure from that position. The position taken by the then Prime Minister is the position I have taken right through. I have not departed from it, and I do not believe you will get a satisfactory Irish settlement except upon these lines. It is my firm conviction that these are the only lines upon which you can proceed to a settlement of the Irish question. There is no other that I can see, and I beg hon. Members from Ireland—I know their difficulties—to face these difficulties and to appeal to British statesmanship to attempt a solution upon these lines, looking to the possibility that that may lead to the unity of Ireland in the future.

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One of the difficulties of dealing with this question is the very important speech which my right hon. Friend has just made, at a quarter to two on Tuesday morning. You will remember that some of us who were interested in the discussion of these two Bills asked that more time should be given. My right hon. Friend says this has nothing to do with the Bill, but that really is not so, because, if it had nothing to do with the Bill, Mr. Speaker would have called both my hon. Friend and right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to order long ago.

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When the subject was first introduced, it had some reference, I will admit, to the Versailles Treaty, but as it has been gradually developed we are getting further and further away from it, and it would now pass the wit of any man to see what connection the discussion now has with the ratification of the Versailles Treaty as contained in the Bill.

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Small nationalities.

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:There is nothing about that in the Bill. We are now discussing the Third Reading of the Bill.

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With all due respect, I do not understand this opinion, because, if it passes the wit of man to understand what reference it has now, I have not yet made any reference to it beyond the comment on my two hon. Friends' speeches and that of the right hon. Gentleman. Therefore, if there has been any question of its being out of order, it has been out of order before now. What I want to emphasise is this, that at a quarter to two we have had an important speech on the Irish question. However, I want to obey your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and I will not pursue the subject, as you have given that opinion. I think you have not made it a ruling. I only want to say this, I think it may be helpful. Five years ago this House went unanimously into that War. Even our Irish Friends were then agreed. Surely my hon. Friends can do something, and let us go unanimously out of the War to-night. Do not let us have on the pages of the records of this House a small Division in which a few Irishmen took part. After all, they have done extraordinarily well in this War, and have faced extraordinary difficulties. Everyone remembers, for instance, the enormously patriotic speeches made by the late Mr. John Redmond. Everybody remembers that Willie Redmond, whom we all knew, died in the War. Everybody remembers the quarrel with the War Office which the late John Redmond had because his son was not given a commission and could not get a commission. Never mind! Do not let us quarrel about these things to-night. We are going out of the War to-night if we pass every stage of the Bill. Some of my Friends below the Gangway know where some of us stand in regard to Home Rule. I, personally, go all the way with my hon. Friends. I, personally, would coerce Ulster rather than Ulster should hold up the Empire, but I will not discuss that now. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend—I think he can do it, but if he cannot the Lord Privy Seal can do it with him—that as we had no Division in going into the War do not let us have a Division going out of it.

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I have not said a word in this Debate, and I would not have said a word now but I have got from the Prime Minister information that I have been looking for since I entered this Parliament and before. I have got a declaration from him as to what he means by Ulster. I happen to represent what we call at home the premier county of Ulster, the county of Tyrone, which is to be one of the excluded counties according to the Prime Minister's statement. In that county we have 16,000 of a majority in favour of Home Rule for all Ireland, and if it is the policy of this Government or any future Government to exclude that county, I venture to say to this House, and to the nation which, I think, this House does not represent, that the coercion of Tyrone into what is called the one Province of Ulster, will be one of the most difficult propositions that any Government has yet set before it. From the county which I represent has sprung the origin of all national movements in Ireland. We have a tradition that is as dear to us as are the traditions of the country which the Prime Minister represents, his native country of Wales. I belong to the land of the O'Niel, who defied the power of this Empire and fought a straight fight, and was defeated by the might of this Empire. I say that if the Government of this country—I do not use it as a threat, but I wish to say it as a man who came to this House to try to find some amicable means of getting our Friends from North-East Ulster, and principally from Belfast, to join with us in building up our nation—I tell them that if they try to coerce us into going in with these men, they will be up against a stiff proposition. We have fought in our county since 1885, and I say to hon. Members of this House who represent a democratic nation, and who believe in the principles of democracy, that since 1885 we have carried out their principles. You gave us a franchise; we have exercised that franchise in a constitutional manner. In all the elections that have come since 1885—that is during thirty-four years—we have consistently returned sometimes a unanimous vote from the county of Tyrone, and we have never lost more than one seat out of the four. To-day our declaration from Tyrone is as strong as it was in 1885.

I was one of the Members who was induced to enter the Irish Convention. It was upon the faith of the Prime Minister's letter that I entered that Convention. I did so in good faith and in the belief that the age-long struggle between these two nations was about to be composed, and I believe that had there been a genuine spirit in the Government of this country to compose that difference that it could have been composed. I am not much of a statesman, neither am I much of a lawyer, but within the four corners of the Report of that Convention any man with ordinary human intelligence could have taken from the three Reports contained therein a settlement of the Irish question. There was only one dissentient voice in that Convention. It is true there were two Nationalist Reports, but the difference between them was practically a bagatelle. It was only a question of the customs, which all Ireland would have agreed at the moment to leave to a Commission to inquire into. The only other microbes, if I may call it such, of dissension in that Convention were the hon. Gentlemen representing the minority of the Province of Ulster. If there had been a bonâ fide intention on the part of the Government to draw up a scheme of settlement out of the findings of that Convention, I believe that it could have been done without any difficulty. But unfortunately for this country, and more unfortunately than for Ireland, there was a lawless conspiracy against both the freedom of Ireland and the freedom of England as well. In the year 1914, and in the month of April, when I lived in my old native home, my life was hardly worth an hour's purchase. Armed men were allowed to prance up and down and surround my house. The authorities of the law came to my house and asked me, "Have you got any arms in your house?" I said, "No," and I was told to get them, because the authority of the British Crown could not defend me. These were the men who burst up the Convention. I remember the first day of the Convention walking through the grounds of Trinity College with our late beloved leader, Mr. John Redmond. He asked me what was to be done about the settlement of the question of Ireland and what would be the result of the Convention. I told him that I did not profess to be a prophet, but that as sure as to-morrow's sun would rise, no matter what we did, these Gentlemen here would not consent to join with all other Irishmen to build up their country. Yet these are the very Gentlemen to whom the Prime Minister of England has surrendered—the men who have been preaching that if a certain law is passed, though it be signed by the King, and put into force they will rebel. Unfortunately, they have not now a German tyrant to come to their aid. I have heard it said from their platforms that if the law came into force there was a foreign potentate more powerful than the King of England.

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They are going to try the Kaiser now!

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I speak as a Tyrone man and as the representative of my Constituents I shall go back to tell them that the men for whom I have fought, and for whom I will fight again, have been denied their liberty on the very night on which we hoped there was going to be universal peace in the world. There is no man more for peace the world over than I am, and more particularly for peace between my own country, my native land, and England. But the Prime Minister has declared war on Ireland on the Second Reading of the Peace Treaty Bill. He has stated that Ireland is not a nation. I would tolerate that coming from an Englishman, but not from a Welshman who belongs to my own race. I am a Celt and so is he, and I would like him to get up and say that there are two kings in Wales, because there is a Conservative opposition in Wales as there is in Ireland.

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It is worse. There are two Churches.

2.0 A.M.

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I am astonished to hear such a statement coming from a repre- sentative of the little Principality of Wales. I declare emphatically that Irishmen will never admit that there are two nations in Ireland. I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman during his speech to-night which he did not answer. It is on the records of this House that in 1782, when Irishmen rose in arms and demanded their liberty, that Ireland was a nation and the men who demanded it were not only Catholic Irishmen, but Protestant Irish-men. I am a Catholic, but I am proud of my Protestant fellow countrymen who demanded the right to govern their own affairs and to wrench from this unwilling Parliament that right to manage their own country. In 1914 another Charter was put on the Statute Book which acknowledges the principle that Ireland is a nation, although it is quite true that, owing to the changed times, certain of the provisions of that Act will require amendment. I, for one, speaking as an Irishman, am quite content to take the Act of 1914 as it stands on the Statute Book because the root and main provision of it is the financial provision. Of the provisions of that Act, however, a certain revision must be made, because on the changed finances of the country and when a certain eventuality occurs, and Ireland becomes a paying concern, we are to have a revision. I am prepared to take that Act as a settlement of the Irish question but I will never, as long as I have breath of life, admit that there are two nations in Ireland. I will go back to my county of Tyrone, which is to be included, and tell my people that we will never be separated from Ireland. So is Belfast Ireland. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister's word is not the final one on this subject. To-morrow morning every newspaper throughout the world in America and in Russia will have the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It will be read by the peoples of democratic nations, to whom will have gone forth the declaration that in the one country which has fought longest for freedom the minority is to rule the majority. If that is the ipse dixit of the Prime Minister and of the nation which believes itself to be the most democratic nation in the world, then I say that the Treaty which this House is being asked to ratify to-night is not a Treaty of Peace—it is the beginning of war, because it is going to separate the democracies of the two great English-speaking nations of the world, the democracies of England and America. If the Prime Minister thinks his troubles are ended, he makes a mistake. There is a new spirit abroad in this country. I was speaking at a meeting yesterday, and there were thousands of Englishmen present. If the Prime Minister heard the speeches delivered he would not be so sure that the principles he has enunciated are acceptable. But there is another spirit abroad. There is the spirit of the Irish nation, which is not confined to Ireland. There are ten, fifteen, or twenty millions of people in America who will voice the sentiments I am expressing here to-night, and if it is to be the last word of the British Government that Ireland is to be divided into two nations, this is not a Treaty of Peace—it is a treaty of war between two great democracies of the world.

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:I will not keep the House for more than two minutes. I want to make two statements, and I think they are very important. We have heard from the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool that the Government will not put the Bill that is on the Statute Book into action. I am the only Unionist Member of the House who was a member of the Irish Convention. We sat for eight months, and there was only one thing on which that Convention was unanimous—that was, that that Bill would in no circumstances be received by anybody, and that it was absolutely impossible to put it into action. The second statement which has been referred to here was the obstacle Ulster put in the way. I speak in all solemnity, as if I were in the presence of my Maker, when I say that we Ulstermen went into that Convention every one considering that his life would have been well spent if we could have arrived at any settlement whatever of this question. There never was such an effort by any Convention to arrive at a settlement if a settlement was possible. It was absolutely impossible. We only discussed one question, and only one Clause of it. We discussed practically only one sentence, and that was the question of fiscal autonomy. Before that Convention met, for the last ten or twelve years, Ireland had a deficit of about £1,000,000—sometimes more than £500,000, sometimes less. Her expenditure exceeded her income. England always paid the bill. When we went into the Convention we were faced with this: Ireland has now a surplus of something like £15,000,000.

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£30,000,000.

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I am speaking of the time of the Convention. We were faced with this, that a Dublin Parliament was to be established, and that the Dublin Parliament must have the supreme command of every shilling of those £15,000,000. "We owed nothing," they said, "not one shilling, to England for this War. It is not Ireland's war." That was absolutely impossible. That faced us, and it is right the House of Commons should know it. We never got over that sentence, and we never shall.

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I do not happen to be an Irishman straight from Ireland, but I happen to be an Irishman representing an English constituency, and this matter, which is before the House, the ratification of the Peace Treaty, is not a matter affecting Irishmen merely. It raises issues of far greater importance. Past Home Rule Acts do not count, and I am sorry the hon. Member who spoke last took so long to bring his ideas to fruition. Nine months is rather an inappropriate time. There seems to be an idea abroad that in every country in the world the majority will rule. In the Saar Valley and in Alsace-Lorraine, and other districts various Commissions have been sent out to investigate, and the majority of the peoples by the free expression of their vote shall decide under what particular form of government they are to live. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite why the principles of democracy should be right in other countries of Europe, but wrong so far as Ireland is concerned? All the problems that you have in Ireland you have in other parts of Europe. Yet Ireland must not be allowed to settle her affairs on the same principles as the people of England. Hon. Members are giving the direct actionists the strongest arguments they want. Some of us have spent our time inside the working-class movement trying to preach the doctrine of democracy. Whether we liked it or not we have been prepared to say to members of our trade unions that the government of the country is conducted on democratic lines, and as long as the people elect certain Members to Parliament it is their duty to obey the law. What is the position now? If I had delivered a similar speech outside this House to that which was delivered last Saturday week in Belfast I would probably have found myself in prison.

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This discussion is outside the Versailles Treaty. We discussed the matter to which the hon. Member is referring last Tuesday.

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:I am very sorry that I forgot Versailles was so very far from Belfast, and I apologise for mentioning it. But I would only point out that you cannot preach democracy, the right of self-determination, and of nationalities to govern themselves, and yet deny to the people right at your own doors an opportunity of enjoying that self-determination. Therefore, I associate myself with the Motion which has been moved by the hon. Member for Belfast, and I hope the House will not allow this to be laid aside, and that the declaration that has been made by the Prime Minister to-night will not be accepted as the last word of British policy as regards Ireland.

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I desire to congratulate the hon. Member upon the outspoken and able speech which he has just made in support of the principles for which we went to war, but which do not seem to have been embodied in the Peace Treaty which the Prime Minister is endeavouring to have ratified by this House. The right hon. Gentleman asks us, and me in particular, whether the Home Rule Act that is now upon the Statute Book would be accepted in Ireland. As has already been stated, the Act, as it exists at the present time, must necessarily, according to its own terms with regard to the financial provisions, be amended and brought up to date, owing to the lapse of years and change of circumstances. After all, before anyone accepts a thing he must be offered it, and Irishmen are not quite such fools as all that, that they would be willing to say they would accept a proposal which is not made. Let the proposal be made, let the present Home Rule Act with its proper Amendments be brought up to date—mind you, I am not saying that the Amendments should not be Amendments safeguarding certain interests in Ireland—let that Act amended be offered to the Irish people by the Government, and then it will be up to the Irish people to say whether they shall accept it or not. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Sinn Feiners!"] It will be up to the Irish people, Sinn Feiners, and all included, to say whether they will accept it or not, but the offer must be made before they can say if it can be accepted. I do not intend to traverse much of the ground covered in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Queen's University. At the same time, though not a member of the Convention myself, because I was otherwise engaged at the moment, yet knowing many members of that Convention and having the Report of that Convention in my hand, I would like to controvert his two main statements. The first was that the one thing they were all unanimous about was that the Bill on the Statute Book was not wanted. That is entirely erroneous.

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I rise to a point of Order. I never made such a statement. I said no one would have had this thing, and I challenge that statement.

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:I am quite satisfied. I had no intention whatever of misrepresenting the hon. Member. He said that no one would have had it. Well, in the first place it was not offered to them to have, and in the second place the Act formed the basis, so far as I understand, of the whole discussion that took place at the Convention, and the whole object of the Convention was to endeavour so to improve and amend that Act that it could possibly be accepted by all parties in Ireland. There was a gentleman very prominent in Irish politics, who died only the other day in Ireland, the late Mr. William Murphy, who, as I understand it, did produce a scheme which took the Home Rule Act as its basis, though he had for years previously been condemning that very Act both publicly on the platform and in the Press.

The second statement made by the hon. Member was that the Ulster representatives had gone some way, at any rate—I do not want to misrepresent him—towards meeting their brother Irishmen in regard to a settlement.

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:Again I must contradict the hon. and gallant Member. I made no such statement. I never said a word about that. We went in, I said, determined to settle it even at the cost of our lives, and we could not settle it. They never budged one-sixteenth of an inch, and therefore we could not meet them.

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The hon. Member has again corrected me, and I stand corrected. He says that he and his Friends went into the Irish Convention with the object of bringing about a settlement. I am very glad indeed to hear that expression coming from him, and, I hope, representing the views of his colleagues. But what were the facts of the Convention, and what are the facts to-day? He says that Nationalists in the Convention—call them the non-Ulster Unionists in the Convention, to bring in all those opposed to his party—never budged one-sixteenth of an inch. Well, the proud boast and arrogant claim of the hon. and learned Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) and all his friends on the last 12th July, and right up to that date ever since the Convention, has been that they never budged an inch, and they are still standing shrieking "No surrender !" from the walls of Derry. As a matter of fact, the sad truth about the matter is that the Irish Nationalists and the Southern Unionists, and I give the Southern Unionists greatest credit for it, both went a great way in their endeavour to meet the wishes or the fears of the—I hope I shall not be too harsh in saying—idiosyncrasies of their Ulster fellow countrymen. A Non-possumus came forth from the Ulster phalanx; they never budged an inch—they never budged the hundredth part of an inch. I challenge the hon. Member and the Prime Minister to say that what he calls Ulster and its representatives have ever budged an inch in the attitude they have taken up since the beginning of the Home Rule controversy. Certainly they never did so at the Convention, and, unfortunately, they have not done so since.

If Irishmen could have come together at that Convention things would have been different. It is only right that it should be understood by the new Members of this House who were not Members at the time of the Convention, and, therefore, had not the opportunity or interest to study the Report of that body, that there was a Majority Report in the Convention. I have the Report in my hand at present, and there was a distinct Majority Report. It may not have been a large majority.

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As far as that majority was concerned, it was made up of Southern Unionists.

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I would point out that this is not a discussion of what happened in the Convention. I would suggest to the hon. Member that he should keep closer to the question.

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:With the greatest pleasure. I will come down to the question and have no desire for a moment to wander away, except that I wanted to reply to the very few and very brief, but I think rather misleading, remarks of the hon. Member for Belfast University as to what took place at the Convention. All I have to say about the Convention is this—

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That you were not there.

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No, I was not there; I was in France. Perhaps I ought not to have been there, but I was.

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Fighting for small nationalities.

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At any rate, if I was not at the Convention I know what took place there, and one thing I remember about it is that it was the creation of the Government, that it was brought into existence by the Government without being asked for by any party. The Government said they would legislate on the Report of the Convention. Unfortunately, the Report was not unanimous, but even so the Government did not act. Why is it necessary for a satisfactory solution of this question that we have to be united in Ireland? Why is it that you can have your differences in this country without any such question arising? Why is it that in Czecho-Slovakia and Alsace-Lorraine, where they have differences of creed and of opinion, the rule is that the great majority shall prevail, whereas in Ireland a different principle entirely is to be applied? There is but one reply to that question, and it is that the principles of democracy for which the Prime Minister and his Government have stood and have conducted a war for—very courageously and ably and successfully, I admit—shall apply to every part of the world, to every nation in the world, until you come to Ireland, and when the Irish question is raised they hold up their hands and cry, "Kamerad!" And "kamerad" to whom? To a privileged minority of the Irish people who, it appears, are to have the right to ride roughshod over the will, the wishes, arid the aspirations of the majority of their fellow countrymen. I am not going to-night into any details of the Irish question. The only point I want to make in connection with this Debate is that in all other parts of the world we have endeavoured to find a solution of these great questions. The Prime Minister comes down to this House to propose the ratification of this Peace Treaty, and he tells us that he and his colleagues along with the Allies in conference assembled have solved these great questions affecting the future government of Poland and a number of other thorny subjects in various parts of the world, but he confesses that it is impossible for him to do anything in Ireland. I ask him, Is that straightforward? Is it not a confession not only of weakness, but of fear and intimidation? If his policy has been so satisfactory elsewhere, why should he not have the courage to attempt to carry it out in Ireland? Why, after having proposed one solution after another, after having called a Convention on the ground that it was an urgent war measure and that it was of the utmost importance that the Irish question should be settled, should he now come down to the House of Commons and throw up the sponge, declaring that the whole matter is one of despair. I am glad that he thought fit to make a second speech in this Debate, because if the matter had been left where it was left after his first speech, it would have had disastrous effects upon the country. I believe still, unfortunately, that the way in which the Prime Minister has spoken of the question cannot have a good effect upon the country, but I would urge upon him and upon the Government the necessity of doing something. You cannot leave things as they are; otherwise you will only drift still further to chaos and disaster. One of three things, I suggest, has got to be done. You have (1) to govern Ireland by the wishes of the people and in accordance with the principles of democracy so well exemplified and worked out in other parts of the Empire, or (2) you have to govern Ireland by the principle of brute force and martial law, which is nothing but Prussianism, and which the Noble Lord the hon. and learned Member for Hitchin said yesterday is not entirely confined to Prussia, or (3) you have to let things drift. I ask the Government which of these three courses are you going to adopt? If the Prime Minister adopts the straight, bold, and courageous course of attempting to find a solution of this problem, I believe he will rally to his support not only the sane and patriotic elements in Ireland itself, but in Great Britain as well. Ulster is still a part of Ireland, in spite of the Prime Minister's desire to form Ireland into two nations. The Almighty has thought otherwise, but the Prime Minister may be able to improve on that later on. At the present time Ulster is part of Ireland, and it will be in the interests of Ulster, of Ireland, of the United Kingdom, of the Empire, and of the world if the Prime Minister will only take his coat off and go into this question as he went into the War. If he does so he will do something which will go down to history as successful as the greatest deed ever performed by any British statesman. But if not, if he chooses to let things drift, I warn him that he is leading to certain ruin and disaster, not only in Ireland but in this country itself. Therefore, I second this Amendment, I will not say with pleasure, but with reluctance, because, having supported the entrance of this country into the War, having gone through the whole of the War in support of this country as well as I could, I hoped to be able to come out of it supporting the Treaty which we fought for and brought about. Unfortunately, owing to the policy of negation with regard to Ireland on the part of the Prime Minister, I am driven to go into the Lobby against this so wrongly named Peace Treaty.

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At the beginning of last year—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—President Wilson laid down Fourteen Points—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—subsequently modified by a later speech. In the early spring our own Prime Minister made a speech to the troops in France in which he said that Germany could have peace to-morrow on those terms, and the. Armistice was definitely arranged on the understanding that the Allies should deal with the representatives of the German people and that Peace should not be discussed on the Fourteen Points but should be arranged on them. Is there a right hon. or hon. Gentleman here who will claim that the annexation for fifteen years of the Saar Valley is not a distinct violation of the terms upon which the Armistice was signed? If that be the fact, in what respect are we better than the Germans were when they tore up the scrap of paper? [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide !"] Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen may protest. I put the question: Were those the terms on which the Armistice was signed or were they not? I say they were, and those terms have been broken by the Saar Valley provisions.

Division No. 76.]

AYES.

[2.44 a.m.

Adair, Rear-AdmiralBalfour, George (Hampstead)Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.
Agg-Gardner Sir James TynteBarnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)Breese, Major C. E.
Ainsworth, Captain C.Barnston, Major HarryBridgeman, William Clive
Allen, Col. William JamesBeck, Arthur CecilBrittain, Sir Harry E.
Archdale, Edward M.Beckett, Hon. GervaseBroad, Thomas Tucker
Atkey, A. R.Betterton, H. B.Bruton, Sir J.
Baird, John LawrenceBlake, Sir Francis DouglasBuchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.
Baldwin, StanleyBorwick, Major G. O.Buckley, Lieutenant-Colonel A.

On the question of Ireland I have only a few words to say. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] I am enjoying the courtesy of the House. It is what I expected, and it is what I am getting. I believe that no international peace is possible—[HON MEMBERS: "Divide!"]

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We are not to be insulted by members from Jerusalem.

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I must ask the hon. Member not to interrupt or use insulting language.

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Are we to stand insults from a Jew?

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The hon. Member is himself insulting. If the hon. Member keeps on interrupting I shall hare to take stronger measures.

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I am sorry my rising has caused this ill-feeling. Everyone who loves his country—and I am as good an Englishman as anyone in this place—loves to see his country great in the best sense, giving in the best sense, giving fair play and equal treatment to all men. All I have to say about Ireland is that a country which employs the Army to govern and imprisons men for selling extracts from speeches of Cabinet Ministers is not a country that can claim fair play. To vote against the Treaty is a very serious thing, a thing that no thinking man can contemplate without some degree of hesitation. One desires to recognise the difficulties that have stood in the way of our statesmen, and whilst I personally and my party object very strongly to certain things in the Treaty I doubt very much whether after all we shall vote against it, not because we believe in it intact, but because the greater danger is to refuse it.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now." and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—[Mr. Derlin.]

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 163; Noes, 4

Burdon, Colonel RowlandHunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)Raw, Lieut.-Colonel Dr. N.
Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)Jameson, Major J. G.Remer, J. B.
Casey, T. W.Jesson, C.Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)
Chaowick, R. BurtonJodrell, N. P.Roundell, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.
Chilcott, Lieut.-Com. H. W. S.Johnstone, J.Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur
Child, Brig-General Sir HillJones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)Sassoon, Sir Philip A. G. D.
Clay, Captain H. H. SpenderJones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)Seddon, J. A.
Clough, R.King, Commander DouglasScely, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. John
Coates, Major Sir Edward F.Lane-Fox, Major G. R.Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)
Coats, Sir StuartLarmor, Sir J.Smith, Haroid (Warrington)
Cobb, Sir CyrilLaw, A. J. (Rochdale)Smithers, Alfred W.
Colvin, Brigadier-General R. B.Law, Right Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)Stanley, Colonel Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Conway, Sir W. MartinLewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)Starkey, Captain John Ralph
Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)Lister, Sir R. AshtonSteel, Major S. Strang
Courthope, Major George LoydLloyd, George ButlerStephenson, Colonel H. K.
Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)Lort-Williams, J.Stewart, Gershom
Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.Loseby, Captain C. E.Strauss, Edward Anthony
Dockrell, Sir M.Lyon, L.Sturrock, J. Leng-
Du Pre, Colonel W. BM'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)Surtees, Brig.-General H. C.
Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)Mallalieu, Frederick WilliamSutherland, Sir William
Entwistle, Major C. F.Malone, Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)Sykes, Sir C. (Huddersfield)
Eyres-Monsell, CommanderMarks, Sir George CroydonThomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)
Falcon, Captain M.Mason, RobertTownley, Maximilan G.
FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.Mitchell, William LaneTryon, Major George Clement
Forestier-Walker, L.Molson, Major John ElsdaleVickers, D.
Fraser, Major Sir KeithMond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred MoritzWaddington, R.
Gange, E. S.Moreing, Captain Algernon H.Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.
Ganzoni, Captain F. C.Morrison, H. (Salisbury)Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
George, Rt. Hon. David LloydMosley, OswaldWatson, Captain John Bertrand
Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel JohnMurchison, C. K.Wheler, Colonel Granville C. H.
Greame, Major P. LloydMurray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)Whitla, Sir William
Gregory, HolmanMurray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)Wigan, Brigadier-General John Tyson
Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (Leic., Loughboro')Murray, William (Dumfries)Williams, Lt.-Col. C. (Tavistock)
Hacking, Captain D. H.Nall, Major JosephWilliams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)
Hailwood, A.Neal, ArthurWills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.
Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)
Henderson, Major V. L.Newton, Major Harry KottinghamWilson, Colonel Leslie (Reading)
Hickman, Brig-General Thomas E.Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)Wood, Major Hon. E. (Ripon)
Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel F.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. WilliamWood, Sir J. (Stalybridge and Hyde)
Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)Palmer, Brig.-Gen. G. (Westbury)Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen, C.)
Hinds, JohnParker, JamesWood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert PikeYeo, Sir Alfred William
Hood, JosephPerkins, Walter FrankYoung, Sir F. W. (Swindon)
Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)Pickering, Col. Emil W.Younger, Sir George
Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray
Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)Pratt, John William

TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Capt.

Howard, Major S. G.Purchase, H. G.F. Guest and Lord E. Talbot.
Hudson, R. M.

NOES.

Donnelly, P.Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander

TELLERS FOR THE NOES.

Jones, J. (Silvertown)Redmond, Captain William A.Mr. Devlin and Mr. Harbison.

Bill read the third time, and passed.