Debate On The Address
Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [ 15th December] to Question [ 14th December],
Irish Free State
"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament:
Having taken into consideration the Articles of Agreement presented to us by Your Majesty's command we are ready to confirm and ratify these Articles in order that the same may be established for ever by the mutual consent of the peoples of Great Britain and Ireland, and we offer to Your Majesty our humble congratulations on the near accomplishment of that work of reconciliation to which Your Majesty has so largely contributed."—[ Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. Hoare.]
Which Amendment was to leave out the words:
"we are ready to confirm and ratify these Articles in order that the same may be established for ever by the mutual consent of the peoples of Great Britain and Ireland, and we offer to Your Majesty our humble congratulations on the near accomplishment of that work of reconciliation to which Your Majesty has so largely contributed."
and to insert instead thereof the words
"this House regrets that the proposed settlement of the government of Ireland indicated in the Gracious Speech from the Throne involves the surrender of the rights of the Crown in Ireland, gives power to establish an independent Irish Army and Navy, violates pledges given to Ulster, and fails to safeguard the rights of the loyalist population in Southern Ireland."—[Colonel Gretton.]
Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
In view of the general desire of the House that the division should be taken as early in the afternoon as possible, I do not propose to engage the attention of the House for more than a few minutes. We, who are associated with the Labour party on these Benches, have not shown any desire to monopolise the time of the House in this Debate. We felt that very largely this was a matter for the Government and their supporters, but especially we recognised the desirability of allowing as much time as possible to Members who represent constituencies in Northern Ireland, in order that they might have the best facilities given to them for stating what I believe to be their strong feelings about the present position. My right hon. Friend the Chairman of the Labour party (Mr. Clynes) in the early stages of the Debate stated our position. We welcome the Debate. We welcome the Articles in the Treaty which we hope will be ratified by a large majority of this House. But we also welcome the Debate not only because it enables us to consider the Articles in the Treaty but because the new situation represents in our minds a tremendous change in attitude in spirit and in policy.Those of us who do not always share the view of the Government cannot consider the position as we have it to-day without regard to the tragic events associated with Irish history, not only Irish history in days long gone by but Irish history in the very recent past, and the results of the Conference as they are set forth in this Treaty seem to us to represent a welcome and a very tremendous change in the relations between the Irish and the British peoples. The change is so great and has come so suddenly that it is almost impossible properly to appraise the value of the real position at this stage. Without any desire to enter into premature rejoicing, I welcome the Treaty as one who has followed the Irish question during the whole time I have been associated with public life, now some 30 years, and as one who has followed from the very first visit I paid to Ireland 50 years ago, when I had a lasting impression made upon my mind. My Friends from the North will excuse me for giving this little experience. I remember as a boy being taken along the Falls Road in Belfast and my relations saying to me "Do you see that street? No one but Orangemen dare live in that street." And I remember them taking me a little further along the Falls Road and saying, "Do you see that street? No one but a Home Ruler dare live in that street." That was 50 years ago on the occasion of my first visit to Ireland as a boy. I have never forgotten it, and it seems to me from some of the speeches that I have listened to that so far as that part of Ireland is concerned unfortunately as it was then it is now. In considering the changes that have taken place, it is very difficult for me to say where I can appreciate the more the untiring efforts of the Prime Minister and his colleagues who conducted the negotiations, or the splendid courage and sincerity of those Irish plenipotentiaries who, knowing the risk they were undertaking—and they must have known the risk—were prepared to add their signatures to the Treaty. If it ever was incumbent upon the House to rise above the ordinary standard of party politics, party warfare and sectional interest, it seems to me that it is at a time like the present. Surely we all must recognise that issues hanging in the balance which must inevitably affect the vital interests of our people at home, and of the British commonwealth of nations, and, indirectly, affect the whole world at large. It would not be difficult for any one of us to approach the matter under discussion from a narrow personal, or from a mere selfish or party standpoint. We could have raised objections to this or that provision in the Treaty, and we might have occupied the time of the House in emphasising what we considered its blemishes, or in suggesting what we think might have strengthened or improved it. All this might have been done under the guise of what is so often termed helpful or friendly criticism. It seems to me that any sort of criticism at this moment would not only be unhelpful but unfriendly. I go further and say that it would be a useless and empty contribution and might prove to be positively harmful and embarrassing. That is one of the reasons why we have refrained from taking part in the Debate to the extent which we think the importance of the occasion demands, and I could have wished, I say quite frankly, that the Division on this Amendment could have been taken yesterday evening after the statesmanlike speech that was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), which in my judgment was one of the best contributions to debate that it has been my privilege to listen to during the 18 years in which I have been a Member of this House. May I suggest that I think that there is a danger in prolonging this discussion. I may be wrong. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am not sure that there is not something in the nature of playing for position. We know that there is discussion going on over the water, and I have the impression, following the reports in the papers as I have been able to do,—and that is the only information which I have,—that there is a desire among some members of Dail Eirean to see what the decision of this House really is on this first Amendment, and I think that it would have assisted the position if they could have had our decision before they came to a decision on the other side. I think that it would have assisted their decision if they could have characterised the Division here as having the same striking unanimity which characterised the Division which was taken on the 31st October, when a Motion not dissimilar in spirit and intention to the Amendment now before the House was negatived by 439 votes to 43 votes. Both here and in Dublin the discussion has entered upon its third day, and, whatever be the cause of the delay there, I think that, so far as this House is concerned, the sooner we can see our way to ratify the Treaty presented by the Government the better it will be. The outstanding fact of the Treaty is that it means peace. That is a consideration beyond measure. If this House desires peace with Ireland—I am firmly convinced that not only the majority of the Members of the House, but the overwhelming majority of the people which the House represents, are deeply anxious for an honourable and permanent peace with the Irish people—the most permanent action in favour of peace is for us to endorse as speedily as possible the great work of the Prime Minister and his colleagues and to ratify the Treaty. In the Debate two points have stood out beyond the general question of the Treaty being an instrument of peace. One is that there has been considerable criticism of the method adopted by the Government in order to secure the Treaty. A good deal has been said about secret diplomacy. We on the Labour Benches are opposed to secret diplomacy. We believe that it is no more possible to carry out secret diplomacy in completion than for the executive of any organisation, even a trade union, to do the whole of its work in public. If I interpret it correctly, the Motion which was discussed on 31st October was a Motion of Censure because the Government entered into conference. The overwhelming decision given against that Motion surely was a mandate to the Government to go forward with the method of approach they had decided upon in order, if possible, to secure an honourable settlement. In that case I think we showed clearly that we were prepared to trust the Government in carrying through their intentions by the method they had adopted. I remember saying in that Debate that the Labour Members were prepared to trust the Government in the matter, and I do not think a single speech has been made by any leader of the Labour party criticising the Government for the course they have pursued since 31st October. The other question that has emerged largely in this Debate has been the position of Ulster. I have heard it hinted more than once from Benches opposite, not so much in this Debate as in previous Debates, that Labour Members do not seem to have very much sympathy with the representatives and the population of Ulster. I want to assure my hon. Friends opposite that that is not the case. Hon. Members may laugh, but, after all, we can afford to differ with them on principle without losing all our sympathy with those on the opposite side. If there are in this House representatives who ought, in spite of their differences, to have sympathy with the position in Ulster, it is those of us who are and have been so long officially connected with trade unions. Those unions have large numbers of members in the North of Ireland. They are members whom we admire, though we differ from them, for we know how deeply they feel on this question. In some instances we have had rather bitter experiences from them, because of the strong feeling on their side and because they do not like the strength of feeling on our side. Do not let our Friends opposite be under any misapprehension; we are not unsympathetic. If they will examine the policy of, the Labour party they will see that we specially made one proviso designed to secure as far as possible the interests of Ulster, having regard to the religious question. Although we recognise the Ulster difficulty, I will say one thing without rais- ing a single controversial point. We do recognise that whilst all parties ought to respect the feelings of the Ulster people and ought to examine carefully their desires, the last thing they can expect us to do is to allow Ulster to block the way to an honourable settlement with Southern and Western Ireland. They have a right to ask for their own position to be safeguarded, but, without digressing from what I have laid down, I must say that in some of the speeches in this Debate and in previous Debates I have thought that they were not content merely with trying to safeguard their own position, but they wanted to go a long way in the direction of preventing this Government or any other Government from finding a solution which would be satisfactory to the majority of the Irish people in the Southern and Western areas. We of the Labour party have strongly favoured the line of approach that has been followed by the Government, and in order to show where we have stood, not in the latter days, but for some time, I would remind the House that we tabled the following Amendment to the Address a year ago:
It is a great satisfaction to us to find that five or six months later this method of dealing with the question has been adopted by the Government. I have already spoken about trusting the Government with this matter. In closing my speech in the Debate on 31st October I said we would examine the results of the conference and apply the following tests:"But regrets that in view of the present deplorable condition of affairs in Ireland there is no expressed intention on the part of the Government to make a real effort towards reconciliation and settlement by meeting in conference the elected representatives of the Irish people and exploring with an open mind every possible avenue to peace."
We can safely examine the Treaty from the standpoints of Nos. 2 and 3. At any rate, that is my judgment. My Friends on the other side may not agree with it so far as to say that the protection is adequate or that the form of protection is what they desire, but we do think that a legitimate attempt has been made in some the Clauses in this Treaty to meet the Ulster difficulty. We have yet to find out how far our No. 1 test is going to be responded to, namely if the Treaty is to secure the approval of the majority of the Irish people. We shall await the result with interest and with concern, and we devoutly pray that the decision which is to be given by the representatives of the majority of the Irish people, may be, as I hope it will be by a large majority, a decision in favour of ratification. I will only say as my final word that, in our judgment, not since the Government was elected in 1918 has it reflected more accurately the spirit and desires of our people than it has done in connection with this matter. I sincerely hope they will continue to tread the new path they have taken, until they have placed upon the Statute Book an Act which will establish an honourable peace and open up a new era of friendship and mutual confidence between the British and the Irish peoples."(1) Whether the proposal satisfied the majority of the Irish people; (2) having regard to the long religious difficulty there must be some form of protection for the minority; and (3) we shall examine the proposal from the standpoint of the security of our own Country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1921; col. 1412, Vol. 147.]
I should perhaps thank the right hon. Gentleman who has just concluded his speech for some small grain of comfort after many years—I was going to say of hostility, but shall I say rather of bitter criticism. At this stage I do not intend to go over the ground which has already been so fully covered in the course of the Debate. We have had some very remarkable and arresting speeches. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Widnes (Mr. Henderson) referred to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) as one of the finest contributions to debate in this House he had ever heard. With that I am sure every Member of this House most fully and most cordially agrees. There was a speech by the Colonial Secretary in regard to which I should like to say a word. There have been many occasions in the past when the Colonial Secretary has found himself in hostility to the views of the people of Ulster, but in this Debate he is the one Minister among all the others who have spoken from that bench who has had a word of friendliness or of thanks to say to Ulster in regard to what she has done in recent years to further a settlement. He fully acknow- ledges that the people of Ulster have gone a long way towards doing what they could to bring about a settlement of this question. I wish the Prime Minister had had a word of similar courtesy in his speech, for those who in all these long years have done their best from the bottom of their hearts to support the close connection of Ireland with this country. There appears in the Press this morning a letter from the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland to the Prime Minister of the Empire in replying to the last communication sent to him when the agreement was presented. The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland makes many just complaints. I want to emphasise one of those very particularly. In these Articles of Agreement the Ulster people have been, in my view, scandalously treated. A fortnight ago in the House of Commons in Northern Ireland the Prime Minister read the following message from the Prime Minister of the Empire—
In two respects the rights of Ulster have been sacrificed and compromised beyond any question whatever. First of all, she has been nominally put into the Irish Free State, even though it may be for a very short period of time. You may say that is largely a sentimental objection, because of course it is within the power of the Parliament of Ulster to vote itself out at any moment. Still, it is a distinct change of status and contrary to the statement of the Prime Minister of the Empire to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. The second point, and the one with which I wish particularly to deal is the question of the Boundaries Commission. There is no sentiment about that. It is a vital, practical question and it is a question in regard to which the Prime Minister of the Empire knew perfectly well that Ulster held strong views. In the correspondence published the other day there is a letter in which Sir James Craig objects to the mere suggestion from the Prime Minister of the Empire that there should be a reconsideration of the boundaries. This question of the proposed Boundary Commission appears to me to be a question of very large Imperial and constitutional importance. I wonder if there is any precedent in the Empire for an agreement being made that the boundaries of a self-governing State within the Empire should be subject to revision without the possibility of a word of protest from, or without the consent of, the State whose boundaries are to be altered. It is unique within the Empire. The Parliament of Northern Ireland has just been set up. Its proceedings were opened by His Majesty the King. It exercises its jurisdiction over a specific area. Yet here we have the Prime Minister of the Empire, in flagrant violation of his written pledge, making a Treaty with a third party, without a word of consultation with the Ulster people, the effect of which may be radically to alter the boundaries within which they now have jurisdiction. I should like to see the Imperial Parliament or the Prime Minister of the Empire making an agreement about the boundaries of Canada with the United States without taking the Canadian Prime Minister into consultation, or I should like to see this House dare to pass a Measure altering the boundaries between Quebec and Ontario, without consulting the people of those two provinces as to what the boundaries were to be. It is unthinkable, it is intolerable, it is contrary to all the best interests of the Constitution of this Empire, and it is a thing which if carried out in this case will be a grave blow to the great fabric upon which the Empire is constructed. It will make for ever impossible in the future for the Prime Minister of one portion of the Empire to trust the word of the Prime Minister of the Empire and the head of the great imperial structure. The day before yesterday, occupying in the Northern House of Commons of Ireland the position which you, Mr. Speaker, occupy in this House, I was shaking hands with the members of that House when they departed from the first Session of that House at its prorogation. Among those members were men returned from every corner of the area which has been given to us by the Act of last year. Those members had taken their part in deliberations which had resulted in the passage of several Acts of Parliament, which have received the assent of His Majesty the King, and in every possible manner our Parliament has been constituted with a particular area subject absolutely to no possibility of revision without the consent of the people who live within that area. I understand the Prime Minister now to say that he merely wants a small rectification of frontiers. He says: "There are a number of Protestants and Unionists there who are outside your boundary, whom you might take in, and there are a number of Sinn Feiners, in such and such a place, whom you might equally with advantage allow to go to the South." I wonder if the Prime Minister said this to the Sinn Fein delegates. Did he tell them that he merely proposed a minor rectification of frontiers, or did he say to them something of this sort? I wonder if he said: "There are two counties in Northern Ireland where you have got a majority. We will appoint a Boundary Commissioner, and he is bound to give you those two counties, for you have got a majority there, and you may be quite sure you will get them." Did he put it to the delegates in such a way as to make them think that what he wished to do was to give them these two counties in respect to which they have had longings for some time past? If the right hon. Gentleman, whom I am very glad to see come in at this moment, means what he tells us now, namely, that he merely proposes a minor rectification of frontiers, to exclude Protestants and to include Catholics, something of that kind, and if that is what he told Sinn Fein delegates, why did he not put it in the Agreement? Would it not have been simplicity itself, if that was meant, to put a few words in the document to say that this Boundary Commission is to operate subject to the wishes of the population, subject to economic areas, and also why should not he have said that in any decision which it came to, there should be no diminution of the population of Northern Ireland? If he had said that, then it would be true and right now to say that all that is contemplated is purely a readjustment of boundaries. What the Southern Irish want are the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh."By Tuesday next either the negotiations will have broken down or the Prime Minister will send me"—(Sir James Craig)—"new proposals for the consideration of the Cabinet. In the meantime the rights of Ulster will be in no way sacrificed or compromised."
I understand my right hon. Friend's argument is that I told the Sinn Feiners that, inasmuch as they had a majority in Tyrone and Fermanagh, they would get the whole of those counties. I certainly never said anything of the kind. On the contrary, all I have ever suggested is what I have suggested equally to the House of Commons, and, I think, to Sir James Craig—that the character of the population and the economic and geographic conditions must be taken into account. That is a matter which has to be decided upon by the Commission. I could not say beforehand what result there would be, whether to add to the number of the population of Ulster or to diminish it. I only know what is the opinion of a prominent Ulster man, namely, that it might have an effect which would be favourable to the Ulster area. It is not for me, but for the Commissioners to express an opinion upon that.
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but I think that all I said was that I wondered whether the right hon. Gentleman had told the Sinn Feiners that all that was intended was a mere rectification of boundaries, the result of which might be, as he now says, to include the population of these counties.
As a matter of fact, I did say to the Sinn Fein representatives that the representatives of Ulster who were at the Buckingham Palace Conference, when there was a discussion of this kind, were under the impression that it would have the effect of increasing the population of Ulster. That was their view of the effect of a Boundaries Commission, and if that be the case, it means that the population desired will be within that area.
Unless there is a desire on the part of Sinn Feiners to get the boundary of Northern Ireland reduced, I still think that a few words in the Agreement to the effect that the population was not to be diminished by this Commission would practically have put the matter right. There is one other point which has led the Ulster people to believe there is something behind this, and that was a speech made not long ago by the Lord Chancellor, in which he said that because of some emergency legislation which we passed through the Ulster House of Commons the other day, the Northern Parliament were coercing certain people in certain parts of Tyrone and Fermanagh. That is entirely beyond the truth. The enormous majority of the people in those counties would welcome, and do welcome, the legislation which the Northern Parliament passed the other day. It was simply legislation to enable the County Council to function, and if it refused to recognise the authority of the Parliament and the Government of Northern Ireland, then someone must be put in its place to carry on its functions. So long as it refused to recognise the authority of the Government, it could get no grant. It is in a practically bankrupt state, it would lose its grants, the roads would become impassable, the asylums would not be kept up, the hospitals would have to be closed, and the whole local administration of that area would have fallen to the ground, and it was to prevent a state of affairs of that kind arising that the Northern Parliament of Ireland passed this Act, an Act which is welcomed by the great mass of the peaceful population, whether Roman Catholics or Protestants. This question of the boundary, in my view, stands apart from the rest of the Treaty, because it is the one point in which the Ulster Government have been definitely let down. It must be amended. Definite instructions should be given to this Boundary Commission, instructions which have got the approval of the Ulster Government. What will happen now without that is simply this, that it will be left for one man to decide. The Boundary Commission is to consist of one representative appointed by the British Government, one appointed by Southern Ireland, and one appointed by Northern Ireland. I think we may assume that Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland will wash themselves out, and it will remain entirely for the Chairman, appointed by the British Government, to decide this question.I have said all that I intend to say except one general consideration. I fully agree with what was said by the right hon. member for Central Glasgow yesterday (Mr. Bonar Law) that this new Irish Free State is not going to he the financial paradise some people seem to think. I wonder how many hon. and right hon. members of this House, particularly among those opposite who are always supporting Irish national demands, would feel inclined to go and live in this new Irish Free State on the chance that they will get off with a shilling income tax, instead of having to pay 6s.? I do not think there would be many of them. I personally take the view that we in the North of Ireland, if we keep our heads and if we carry on steadily, will before many years are out have no cause to regret that all these large powers which are being given to the South are withheld from us. Personally I would rather pay a contribution to the Imperial Government with the result that we continue to have British troops in our midst, and in other ways keep up the British connection. I would rather do that because I think that financially in the future we shall benefit by not having to raise the large army and do those other things which we should have to do under the altered circumstances; we shall not have to go in for all kinds of expenditure in order to provide for the services which are being withdrawn. Several hon. and right hon. members in the course of yesterday's Debate uttered a word of warning. It was wanted. The transports of joy which have gone through the Government Press in the last few weeks have been a most extraordinary phenomenon. Yesterday I was looking at the history of Ireland at the time of the constitution in 1782. That was a time when it was thought that the greatest and freest Constitution had been produced for Ireland that it had ever had or would ever want. I saw in Lecky's History a curious and interesting paragraph wherein he states that the year after the Constitution of 1782 was given to Ireland there was a paragraph in the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne in the Irish Parliament of the day, which said:
That was the view of the Irish Parliament in 1782. Sixteen years later Ireland was afflicted with one of the most bloody rebellions in the whole history of this United Kingdom, and eighteen years later the Constitution which had been so universally acclaimed as the end of all constitutional struggle with the Irish people was brought to a sudden end by the Act of Union. Let us be cautious now in our transports over this supposed final conclusion of a 750-years-long question. Mr. Lecky says, in a rather striking paragraph, so striking that in view of present circumstances perhaps the House will pardon me for reading it:"There will no longer exist any constitutional question between the two nations that can disturb their mutual tranquility."
Let us take warning from that great historian, a man with so much power in forecasting what is likely to happen in the future. My final word is this, if this settlement does go through in a form in which it may be possible for Northern Ireland not actively to dissent from it—if it does go through I would counsel moderation to the British people and that they should exhibit that caution and that common sense with which they are supposed to be so abundantly endowed."The victory which had been achieved by the Irish popular party in 1782 was a great one, but many elements of disquietude were abroad. An agitation so violent, so prolonged, and so successful could hardly be expected suddenly to subside, and it is a law of human nature that a great transport of triumph and gratitude must be followed by some measure of reaction. Disappointed ambition, chimerical hopes, turbulent agitations thrust into an unhealthy prominence, the dangerous precedent of an armed body controlling or overawing the deliberations of Parliament, the appetite for political excitement to which Irishmen have always been so prone and which ever grows by indulgence, the very novelty and strangeness of the situation all contributed to impart a certain feverish restlessness to the public mind in Ireland."
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate to-day and who spoke on behalf of the Labour party as to the vast importance of the change indicated by this Treaty. But I disagree entirely with him, I am afraid, both as to his conclusions with regard to the provisions of the Treaty itself and even still more as to the methods by which it is to be carried out. I agree again that he is fully entitled in his vehement joy from his own point of view to say, "you are now adopting a policy which those with whom I work recommended to you long since." I hope that as a fair-minded man ho will equally agree with me that this Treaty is a complete reversal of the policy of the Unionist party. I hate to read extracts to the House, but there was a speech which has been quoted before in this Debate—a remarkable speech by the late Lord Salisbury when he was pointing out the great inadvisability of this disestablishment of the Irish Church following directly after the explosion at Clerkenwell Prison. He was also pointing out the unfortunate incident in connection with the passing of the first Irish Land Act at a time when there had been a more than ordinary number of murders of Irish landlords, and he went on to say:
That was broadly the statement of Lord Salisbury which has been frequently referred to in these Debates. I heard an Irishman, in a smoking room the other night, say, after a somewhat heated Debate, "I do not believe in death-bed repentances, either in this world or in the next." What exactly he meant by that I cannot say. At any rate I disagree with him. I am the last person to object to a man changing his views. It is an exceedingly stupid man who never changes his views. But I am entitled to know when the members of my party found salvation, and the means whereby they found grace. The Prime Minister has given me no difficulty upon that point. The right hon. Gentleman told us the day before yesterday, in that very interesting speech, a little bit about a thing which I may say, with the greatest respect to him, and the highest possible opinion of his talents and powers, he rather over-rates his own powers, and that is the question of settling and negotiating. I had experience of meeting him in negotiation when a very young member of this House, and, if I may say so with respect, I think it is a weakness in an otherwise great man. He has told us something of the way in which he carries out negotiations. He said that, so far as these negotiations were concerned, a large number of people said that you might have given these terms, and more fittingly, a year or two ago. He said that that was not so, and referred to the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), observing that they were in the same profession, and knew it depended on their choosing exactly the right moment—"On Tory principle the case of the Government of Ireland presents much that is painful, but no perplexity. Ireland must be kept, like India, at all hazards, by persuasion if possible, and if not by force. As to Liberal principles to govern a population which does not wish to be governed by you on the principle of implicitly attending to its wishes, appears to be as hopeless a task as ever politicians undertook."
And so forth. May I, by way of illustration, and, incidentally, say that, on the merely professional side, I think I am entitled to speak with very much greater authority than the right hon. Gentleman on the etiquette of the Bar and the solicitors' profession, having been longer in it, and having greater experience in it? I protest most strongly against that being the duty of a good solicitor. A good solicitor or a good negotiator makes up his mind what are the fair terms his client can give, and offers them before a writ is issued or costs incurred. If necessary, I may refer to an ordinary action case taken up by the London County Council, who, quite rightly, make a fair and generous offer before the matter goes into Court, but, once it has gone into Court, they absolutely decline to settle on any terms. Possibly they know of the practice of some solicitors, who think it necessary never to settle until the costs have been run up to a high point. It means a very much more serious matter when applied to this subject. It means that you think now these were fair and reasonable terms to offer; you did not offer them before, because you thought it was not the right time. Is that so? Did the Government always think it was right to offer to Ireland a separate Army and a separate Navy? Did they always think it was the right thing to withdraw the British Army from Ireland? If so, why did they not do it long ago? Go back to 1914. To prevent misunderstanding, I do not think it was the right thing to do then, or the right thing to do now; but, if these are fair, reasonable and just terms to offer, why were they not offered in 1914? Of the hon. Members who frequently sit on these, benches, but are not here now, I think I can say we respect them, and I hope they respect me, although I have been diametrically opposed to them ever since I have been in the House. But if we had offered these terms in 1914, we should have handed over the Government of Ireland to men whom we knew and trusted—I will not say to men of honour, because that phrase has been blown upon of late—instead of handing it over, as we are doing now, to men who have been denounced with far greater oratory than I can pretend to use from Members at that Box week in and week out. In 1920 we had the Act of Parliament. The right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), whom we are delighted to see back here, although he has come back on the wrong side, is a man who inspires confidence. In 1920 he made, a speech on the Second Reading of the Home Rule Bill and persuaded many Members to vote in its favour. He said they had gone as far as they possibly could go, and the Prime Minister said the same thing. He said they had gone to the furthest limit it was right and safe to go. Did they really think at that time these were fair and reasonable terms, and the only reason they did not offer them at that time was because they did not think the right time had come? I have difficulty in believing that. It may be so, but, if so, it is highly undesirable to make those statements in settling an action, and, still more, in settling matters of this kind, it is better to say quite straightforwardly the length you mean to go, or, at all events, not to say too strongly that you do not mean to go further, because otherwise people may act on what you say. In his speech at Carnarvon, in September, 1920, the Prime Minister said:"You must not choose it when the parties are full of fight, when they are confident they are going to win, when they are confident not merely in the justice of their case, but in the invincibility of their counsel. Who can stand against it? That is not the time to settle. You have got to wait until difficulties have cropped up which they had never foreseen, when doubt begins to enter their minds as to the completeness of their victory, when the costs are mounting up and the only smile is on the face of the solicitor, when they are tired out by plead- ings and counter-pleadings."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1921; col. 46, Vol. 149.]
Did the Prime Minister at that time really mean to give them an army and navy when he said that? If so, it may be diplomacy; it may be a good way of settling an action, but it does not commend itself to me in any way. That is only a year ago, and on 23rd March of this year a very strong speech was made in this House by the Prime Minister, on the question of having a truce. He was pressed by my Noble Friend the Member for South Nottingham (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck), who had been very pertinacious, and kept on pressing him, not only in March, but in April and May. I think on the last occasion he was treated, quite rightly, somewhat severely by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister made this perfectly plain, that he would never have a truce without the surrender of arms. He said he had been advised by all the people who advise him—as he supposed rightly—that it would be exceedingly dangerous to do so. He pointed out that a truce without a surrender of arms would mean that Sinn Fein would have every opportunity of arming themselves, and that the thing could not possibly be done. That was repeated, as I have said, time after time down to as late as May in reply to the questions of the Noble Lord to whom I have just referred. In addition to that, the right hon. Gentleman declined always on these occasions to meet three or four of the men whom he and his colleagues have reason to believe were connected with the murders. He continued that refusal right down to May; that is insistence upon the two cardinal points of a truce—surrender of arms and no meeting with people who were suspected or known to be guilty of murder. On the 9th July the truce was entered into, and a more criminal or wicked proceeding could not well have been imagined. There was the document, or probably two or three documents, and nobody really knew which document they had really agreed to. This document, or documents, offered no sort of protection to those in the South of Ireland. This document—but there, I think enough has been said about it, that hon. Members may be spared my words on the subject! But it was a criminal proceeding. The document, too, was without specification. What had happened in the interval to make this sudden change? You are having a truce without the surrender of arms, which, as had been explained in the House time after time, was vital, and which would be a wicked thing not to do. Again, you are meeting people whom you had declined to meet time after time. What had happened? The only thing that had happened in the interval—and in this connection I may refer to the observations of the Secretary of State for the Colonies yesterday, because he referred to the matter fairly and honestly—the only thing that had happened was the King's Speech at Belfast. I do not propose to accuse anybody in this House, but I am sorry to say that a great deal has been said outside which has quite misrepresented the position of the King's Speech, and I do wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary for the fair way in which he put the matter. I quote him:"So far as I am concerned, and I am speaking on behalf of the Government, we shall certainly resist out and out any demand for an army or navy being set up in Ireland."
That clears the matter up with which we are dealing every day, and it explains the telegrams. Of course hon. Members know how these matters are done, that these communications and telegrams are not private communications. We know perfectly well that the notification probably would never come to His Majesty's personal knowledge at all. A telegram of the sort is sent by the person who may happen to be in charge at the moment. I only regret—though I do not in any way blame any Member of the Government because the right hon. Gentleman has made it plain—that the matter has been so bandied about, because there are some Members of this House who appear to be under the impression that in voting for the Amendment before the House they will in some way be doing something which might be personally offensive to our Gracious Sovereign the King. I protest against the unscrupulous use made by the Press in this matter, at the same time acknowledging the service the Secretary for the Colonies has done in pointing out how these things are put into the mouth of the King by His Majesty's Ministers, and that they alone are responsible. The truce was entered into despite the various strong protestations made, and then towards the end of July a Memorandum was drawn up. It was not published or laid before Parliament. The only opportunity we had of discussing it was the very short discussion in the House on 19th August. On that occasion the Prime Minister spoke and he got into his speech his favourite subject of the question of how to negotiate and how to settle. He said:"The next step was the speech which Ministers put into the mouth of the King—it is the correct and constitutional form—at the opening of the Belfast Parliament; a speech for which, of course, as well as every other utterance of His Majesty, Ministers are solely responsible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1921; col. 174, Vol. 149.]
Here was a definite statement that the Government had gone to the very last possible limit of concession, and some thought they had gone too far. After that the matter went on. Under the Memorandum there was no power of any kind to have a Navy or the suggestion of a Navy for Ireland. Again, a very important difference occurred in the question of voluntary recruitment. There was no power under the Memorandum to prevent voluntary recruitment in Ireland for British regiments. That has gone. That is not reserved in any way. Last and by no means least there was the power of protection and of creating tariffs which are a matter added since the Memorandum. I am asking these questions for the purpose of pointing out the inconsistency involved. I am not trying to make party points. My right hon. Friend opposite, the Leader of the House, whom I am glad to see in his place, will acquit me, although a party man, of that intention. But I am putting this forward for various reasons. The one reason is the great effect these negotiations and the policy of the Government towards Ireland may have on our Indian Empire. Do not do what we have done in Ireland, that is, buoy up people's hopes by saying. "We will never desert you and we will protect you," and then after there has been bloodshed, yielding and giving up, as your enemies would say, to brute force what you decline to give because you thought it right. That is not the best, but the worst possible time to settle differences. A friend of mine had two boys, one was killed in the War and the other was sent out to Ireland. In Ireland the boy was taken prisoner, kept in prison 14 days, and was afterwards shot in cold blood. This is only one of hundreds. I introduced the father to the Irish Office, and I agree that everything was done that could possibly be done by the Chief Secretary, and I desire to thank him for his extreme courtesy in the matter. A reward was offered for the conviction of the murderer. Afterwards my friend went out yachting for a time, and he came back in July. He had an advertisement put into the papers, and I believe the "Times" refused to insert it. I asked a question in the House about this matter, and I was told that no further assistance of any sort or kind was to be given to this gentleman by the police or the Irish Office. I make no complaint in regard to the action of the right hon. Gentleman because I know it was the policy of the Government which prevented him doing anything or lifting even a finger at the end of July. I believe the name of the person who ordered his execution is known. Of course, I cannot prove it, but I believe that is so, and I want to know what my answer is to be to this gentleman. I have done my best all the way through in regard to this matter. I told this gentleman to trust the Government, and now I want to know what I am to say to him. I have been to Ireland a good deal. There was a time when we had the Balfour administration there, and it was a great success and Ireland was really happily governed at that time. Later things began to get uncomfortable. I remember Presbyterians coming to, me in Ireland and asking, "Is it safe here; do you think the Government are going to hand us over to the Sinn Feiners?" I replied, "That is impossible, and the Unionists will never desert you." I am not a Politician, but people do ask my advice and I have given those people my word that they were all right, that they could safely stay in the South of Ireland, and that we were not going to run away from them at the last moment. I wish the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would tell me what I am to say to those people now. I still believe in the principles which I have held before, but unless we register some protest against this method of carrying through negotiations for a settlement, when it comes to India think of the price you will pay if you make up your mind to withdraw the Army from India. If you believe it to be right to do that, then do it now before any bloodshed has occurred and before you leave your solitary outposts there to fight as you left them in Ireland. I wish to refer to the policy of dealing with matters in this way. I am not going to make an attack upon the Bill which is going to be introduced and which, whether it is good or bad, will not be the work of the House of Com- mons. This is not the handiwork of the House of Commons. We cannot amend it and this is a most unsatisfactory way of dealing with a complicated and difficult question. We are being asked to deal with matters of the greatest moment without any power to amend the proposals, and that makes it exceedingly difficult. I want to deal with one or two practical questions of detail contained in this Treaty of which we have heard so much. We are told that it is necessary for Ireland to have an army to help the police at any particular time. A police force may be necessary, but surely aeroplanes, field artillery and maxim guns are not necessary for mere police work. Secondly, as regards the Navy, the Minister for War must have forgotten one of the clauses, which reads as follows:"In negotiations, there are two courses which you can adopt. Men who are accustomed to negotiations know that you can always, if you like, leave something in hand to use later on to purchase settlement. That is one course, a course to which my right hon. Friends opposite are very accustomed. But there is another point, and that is to put all your cards on the table. After considering carefully which of these courses we should take, without hesitation we adopted the latter, because of the importance of ranging on the side of our proposals all sane opinion not merely in this country and in Ireland, but throughout the world. That is what decided us in putting the whole of our terms into the letters without keeping, anything back. I think the sequel proves that we were right in adopting that course, for I have heard of no suggestions from any quarter in this country, and no suggestions from any quarter in any part of the world excepting Ireland, that in these proposals we have not gone to the very limit of possible concessions. Indeed, I have heard it said we have gone too far."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th August, 1921; col. 1874, Vol. 146.]
It is a pretty wide clause and may lead to trouble if they wish at any time to build a navy. I want to put this point. Supposing we had given this power to Ireland in 1910 and supposing they had had it during the last war, what would have been our position? I am not a naval or military expert, but I fancy that we should have been in far greater difficulty than we were. There is one other point which I wish to put, but which I am almost ashamed to put. Has any sort of estimate been made of the cost to Great Britain? It has been suggested to me that the extra cost will be something like £60,000,000 per year. It may be that it will be worth while to pay that price for peace, but in these days, when there is a powerful Anti-waste party in this House, I think it is well that one of those who did the spade work before they came into the House should be the first to put this question. We were told yesterday that while we were denouncing the Government here for having given too much, probably somebody over there was denouncing their leaders for having given too much, but I think there are very strong arguments with which the plenipotentiaries might meet any such complaint against them. They might say, quite fairly, "We have got an army, we have got a small amount of navy; we have got an army which, like Germany's, can be expanded very easily without any intervention from Great Britain, and we have full power, if and when we like, to break away from Great Britain." Of course, I am here speaking against my party, but I feel sure that the right hon. Gentleman will acquit me of any desire to be captious or to make mere debating points. I am doing so, because I believe that this is a vital and all-important matter and that a great mistake has been made. You are reversing great principles for which great sacrifices were made by men like Lord Finlay and the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. I am afraid that I did not hold those principles in my undergraduate days. I came over at the same time as them, and I have never changed my views. I hold those views at the present time, and that is my reason for taking the line that I do here. If this Agreement goes through, as undoubtedly it will, I will in my small way do everything that I possibly can to make the Treaty a success, but I fear, and fear very greatly, that this will not bring peace to Ireland. The grievance in Ireland, of couse, existed, but it has been engineered by people outside Ireland and by money outside Ireland, just as it is engineering discontent in India, here, and in Egypt at the present time. I fear greatly that this Treaty will be looked upon as a surrender of Ireland, and that it may mean that our troubles are only just beginning. Have the people in Ireland for one moment thanked the Government for what they have done? We have had pre-paid telegrams galore from the Dominions to the Prime Minister, but have m e had one telegram from Sinn Feiners thanking us for our generosity?"but this shall not prevent the construction or maintenance of the Government of the Irish Free State of such vessels as are necessary for the protection of the Revenue or the Fisheries."
My hon. and learned Friend spoke of pre-paid telegrams. The words may have slipped out of his mouth, or he may have a meaning in his mind. If he has, I think he ought to say what it is.
I say at once that the word slipped out, but there was, we know, a telegram which was sent from Sandringham, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies admitted that the responsibility for that telegram rests with His Majesty's Ministers. I am not complaining in the least, and I only mean that suggestions are made in that way.
Of course, His Majesty's Ministers are responsible for every act and every word of His Majesty, but if my hon. and learned Friend suggests that that telegram from Sandringham was suggested by His Majesty's Ministers, then he is mistaken—profoundly mistaken. He spoke of pre-paid telegrams from the Dominions. What we did was to send to the Dominions a perfectly true and colourless summary of the arrangements come to, and the suggestion that we solicited or inspired telegrams from the Dominions is wholly without foundation.
Can the right hon. Gentleman seriously make that a debating point for a moment?
I do not make it as a debating point; I make it as a statement of fact on a matter of great public interest.
I am very glad indeed to hear it. Let us look at what the right hon. Gentleman says. This Government sends a telegram stating that peace with Ireland has been agreed to. If that be so, who would not congratulate them? If they had telegraphed to me that peace had been declared with Ireland, I, being at the other end of the globe, and having no means of knowing otherwise, of course, would have at once telegraphed my hearty congratulations. That is what I mean. I agree that possibly I ought not to have used the word "pre-paid," and I withdraw it, and I withdraw unreservedly anything which may offend my right hon. Friend. The point is this. Have the Sinn Feiners done anything since this Treaty has been in negotiation to show that they are grateful to us? Has there not been speech after speech by Mr. De Valera and others saying, "We have won this at the point of the sword"? It is for these reasons that I venture to take the line which I am taking to-day. Reference has been made to the settlement with the Dutch in South Africa. with whom I was intimately acquainted at one time. That, however, was not the first settlement with them. The first settlement with the Transvaal Dutch was after Majuba Hill, and, from what I have seen in South Africa between Majuba Hill and the time of the last Boer War. I think the surrender after Majuba Hill was as great a mistake as the making of the Treaty after the last Boer War was a great act of statesmanship. May we not apply the same lesson here, namely, that when people believe they are at the top, it does not bring gratitude from them, but only adds to their conceit?
I am sure the point is appreciated as to the responsibility which the party leaders have undertaken in attempting to settle this century-long struggle between Ireland and England. One has appreciated the situation, and the courage which Ministers have displayed, more after the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) than one has appreciated it during the whole of this Debate hitherto. Fortunately. I am not in the same position as my hon. and learned Friend. I am not a Unionist. I am not a member, nor have I ever been a member, of the Unionist party, and I can quite understand, when one remembers the history of that party during the last 20 or 30 years, and the enormous part it has played in holding together the great body of Conservative opinion in this country, what a terrific wrench it must be, as well in personal friendships as in political associations, to face the changed situation which is before us at this moment. That, however, only shows greater courage on the part of the negotiators who have brought about this settlement.While I hold almost the same views with reference to the initiation of these negotiations as my hon. and learned Friend, I hold them from an entirely different standpoint. I did believe in giving legislative independence to Ireland. I have believed in it ever since I have been in politics. It was included in the first programme drafted by William Morris and others of the old Democratic Federation in 1883; and Mr. H. M. Hyndman—who, I regret, has not lived to see the fruition of his policy—insisted at that early date that one of the points in the programme should be legislative independence for Ireland. I subscribed to that myself, and have never receded from it in the slightest degree. When, however, the Irish Sinn Fein movement came on the scene, and when what had not been successfully secured by constitutional means was attempted to be gained by force, I certainly supported the Government in their determination to make every citizen obey the law; but I agree that the negotiations and the policy of the Government should have been stated before the struggle rather than after, and, therefore, I disagree with the view that has been stated by the Prime Minister that they could not have been discussed before. I am especially interested in two things. One knows that we have lost during the last two years some 400 or 500 officers and men belonging to the different forces of the Crown in Ireland. I do not see anything in the Treaty itself stating what is the position, or what will be the position, of the relatives of those deceased officers and men. There is another important fact to which no reference is made, and to which, I would suggest, some kind of reference certainly should be made. There are several thousand men who have stood by the British Government and by this Parliament through all the difficulties of the last two years, and, when one considers the vicious way in which the servants of the Crown have been treated by these men when there was the possibility of danger to their hides, one wonders what sort of treatment they will mete out to them, unless provision is made beforehand, now that there is no fear whatever of punishment as a result of the crimes they may commit against them. I should have thought that, while it might not be included in the Treaty, we might at least, in the discussions that have taken place during the last two or three days, have had a statement with reference to the Royal Irish Constabulary, as to the position of the officers and men who have stood by the British Government and are now left in the lurch. I do not mean that offensively to the Government, because I do not think that the position of the officers and men of the Royal Irish Constabulary should influence our judgment in trying to form a concordat between these two peoples if it is possible to do so; but I think that at least we should show by our speeches in this House that some Members, at any rate, have not forgotten, and that, while it has suited the purpose of the country and the House of Commons to change its policy entirely with regard to the country which they have assisted the Government in administering hitherto, their position and interests should be protected. I think that that is a most essential item in the programme. My position with reference to this matter is simply the position of the ordinary man in the street. The situation between Ireland and England had arrived at such a pass that some kind of conference, some method of getting out of the difficulty, was absolutely necessary, and I do not believe that among the ordinary English democracy there is a single discordant voice so long as the interests of our friends in the North of Ireland are not interfered with in any way. Far from advising them to leave us and go in under Sinn Fein, I am delighted to think that they have so much confidence in the English people that they have ignored the suggestion of the Government and decided to remain with us. We like the Irishman generally, but it would be unnatural if we did not look with a slightly different degree of favour upon the man who all the while is threatening to murder you if you do not allow him to get out of the nest, who swears that he is your enemy, and that the struggle between him and you is 700 years old. There is one advantage about that, and that is that neither the Leader of the House nor I had anything to do with the beginning of it. We are bound naturally, as every Englishman does, to look with considerable difference upon the struggles of these two elements of Irish society, the one all the while abusing and injuring us and struggling to get out of the nest, while there is another set of men who say, "We believe in you. We object to you attempting to turn us out of the nest because our friends want to go," and I look, and I believe Englishmen throughout the country and all over the world look, with Much more favour upon Ulster to-day, even the democratic element in the country, now when it comes to the final test that they say they prefer to be with us. But that is not really the point I want to bring to the attention of the House. I agree with this Conference and I agree with the Treaty to a certain extent, provided the interests of our friends are safeguarded, and I believe it is the duty of the House to ratify that Agreement. But I think that is all this House ought to do. As a democrat, seeing the enormous possibilities of this, if not unsuccessful, and the possibility for good if the experiment is successful, so terrible may it be in one direction, so advantageous it may be in another, that before ever you make this an accomplished fact by law you ought to consult the English democracy. Even if he went down in the turmoil, the position of any Member in this House ought not to weigh with him in that matter at all. You are practically revolutionising the Constitution. You are taking away some 60 or 70 Members from this House. You are turning practically everything topsy-turvy. By your very Treaty you are, in effect, so far as the re-arrangement of the frontiers of Ulster is concerned, by implication repealing an Act of Parliament that was only passed a year ago, and it is only necessary to read the speeches delivered by Ministers during the passage of the Act of Parliament last year, where they said that that was really the policy that they had adumbrated at the last election, that that was the extent of their policy and all that they were prepared to offer. Circumstances, it is true, have intervened and compelled them to offer an entirely different settlement, but it should only be a tentative one to the extent of ratification immediately by this House of the Treaty, but before it is put beyond recall, in my opinion you are bound to consult the people who sent you here. I say that most emphatically, and that is the one point that I wanted to put before the House. It has not been mentioned before. I think it would be disgraceful if this House, and especially hon. Members above the Gangway, who have been clamouring, telling us all the while that we Englishmen——
Good old English democrat!
I do not take my democracy from Wales.
At last it is very likely that Englishmen will be allowed to say that they are Englishmen. In view of the criticism which has occasionally been passed and the declarations which have been made, that it was absolutely necessary before this Government went forward further into great legislative proposals, that it should seek the suffrages of the country, this has put the final seal upon that demand in my estimation from whatever quarter of the House it comes. Do not let this be a mere gift of a dozen or twenty men in the Government, and the 500 or 600 men in this House of Commons. If there is to be a settlement and if it is to be part of the statute law of the country, let it be the gift of the people themselves and not of any particular party.
We are drawing near to the end of a memorable Debate, a Debate marked at some stages by considerable heat, marked at other stages, notably by two speakers, by at least good feeling and consideration. I do not wish to utter a word which would grate upon the susceptibilities of the most tender feelings. I will say no word to which even the most sensitive might reasonably object. While I must, as a matter of duty to those who have sent me here, and to the convictions which I cherish, speak with some plainness, I shall do it with no intention of giving irritation to anyone. I want to say to the Leader of the House, because he is my leader, that I complain of the atmosphere in which these negotiations were conducted. I protest against the deliberate campaign which was meant to poison public opinion. While at his suggestion, as well as that of the Prime Minister, we accepted the silence they had imposed upon us, the Press were brought down in battalions to Downing Street, and the very expressions in certain documents that passed between the Ulster Cabinet and the British Cabinet were dished up in the following morning's papers, coloured to suit the purposes of the Government and wholly distorted to misrepresent our position. We complained to the right hon. Gentleman and he admitted the justice of our complaint. I believe he, even promised to do what he could to put an end to this scandalous campaign, but he could not do it, and it went on to the end. Then we reached the critical stage in which the agreed statement was issued by the British Prime Minister to the Northern Prime Minister, and I call attention to the terms of it. It was that unless agreement was reached new proposals would be sent to the Northern Government, and meantime nothing would be done to compromise or sacrifice Ulster's right. Was it new proposals that we got? We got no new proposals. We got a Treaty thrown at us, as it has been thrown at this House, told we must either ratify it or go to the country. That is the spirit that has animated the Cabinet in its dealings with Ulster, and there is not a fair-minded man in any quarter of the House who will say that the kind of treatment we have had at their hands is other than disgraceful. In this House the Prime Minister uttered these words, and I only wish that he had been here now to hear them:
Has that pledge been kept? We are automatically included."Under no circumstances, and at no time, will Ulster be automatically included in an Irish Parliament."
I hope the hon. Member will not interrupt me.
I only asked a question.
Can anybody dispute that we are automatically included? We are automatically included, and if we are automatically included what is the use of that kind of interruption from the hon. Member? We are automatically included, in spite of that pledge of the Prime Minister, and if we do not proceed to take the steps that we are empowered to take, and vote ourselves out, we should remain in in perpetuity. We will not remain in one hour. Immediately the clock strikes that confers upon us the right to vote ourselves out, we shall vote ourselves out.
Oh! You are Unionists.
I hope I may be allowed to proceed without interruption from the hon. Member. If he wants to go on in that sort of fashion he ought to go into the Lobby and bray there. Though I have much to say that would be pertinent to this discussion, I wish to confine my observations to two salient features that vitally concern us in the North of Ireland. First, there is the Oath of Allegiance to be taken by the Members of the Parliament to which we are invited to go. The second is in respect of the boundaries of the Parliament which has been given to Ulster. I could not help a feeling of amazement at the pitiable and contemptible efforts that were made to defend the Oath of Allegiance last night by the Colonial Secretary though I gladly admit the conciliatory tone of the speech. If we had found more frequently the same attitude of mind evinced towards us it, would have permitted us to have had a quite different atmosphere in Ulster. We have had to sustain one long campaign of abuse. You cannot go on doing that to people who are loyal, and who have trusted you, without, in the end, having a bitter and exasperated feeling. The Secretary of State for the Colonies told us that the new Oath of Allegiance is not only as good as the Oath of Allegiance that we take in this House, but even better. I wonder what Mike Collins would think of that. An Oath of Allegiance can be one of two kinds. It can be the natural Oath taken by a subject born within the State, the Oath which we take here which declares allegiance to the King——
As by law established.
I have too much love for my old friend to turn aside to say anything against him.
I will not give way.
You are not in Ulster now you cannot dominate everybody here.
On more than one occasion the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) has insulted me. He has insulted this House. He has insulted the dignity of your Chair, Mr. Speaker, and I protest against these constant interruptions. I am addressing no observation to him, and I beg that I may be permitted to address the House without his interference.
On a point of Order. Has an hon. Member of this House the right to refer to another hon. Member of this House as "Mike Collins"?
I did not hear that observation.
You were not here, Mr. Speaker, when he made it.
An hon. Member must use respectful terms of another hon. Member of this House.
I hope you are not addressing that observation to me, Mr. Speaker, I have used no disrespectful language about anybody.
I did not hear the remark to which the hon. Member for Silvertown refers. In what I have said I was making a remark generally for the advice of hon. Members.
You were not in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, when the hon. Member made the observation.
I was not in the Chair, but I have dealt with the matter.
I only wish to continue my discourse. Hon. Members who were here will agree that I did not break any rule of debate, and I hope that I may neither be insulted nor interrupted improperly. I was saying that the Oath of Allegiance could be one of two kinds: the natural Oath taken by a born subject of the State, or it can be the express Oath taken by a person who is a born subject of another State, but who, on coming here, renounces his allegiance to the old State and takes the Oath of Allegiance to the new. The claim of Sinn Fein is that it is no part of this nation, that it owes no allegiance to it, that it is a separate and distinct State, and that the only Oath which its people should recognise is the Oath of Allegiance to the Irish Republic. It is clear, therefore, that the natural Oath does not bind them. Then there is the express Oath, which is exactly in common form with the Oath we take at the Table of this House when we enter it. That Oath, Sinn Feiners refuse to take. If the Government really mean this as an Oath of Allegiance, if they expect it to be binding upon the consciences of those who take it, in the way that the Oath which we take here is binding upon us, why do not they give the Sinn Feiners the Oath in the same form? Why do they go in for this imbecile caricature of an Oath of Allegiance? If they mean allegiance to the King, why do not they put in the word "allegiance" before the word "King"? They cut it out deliberately, in deference to the Sinn Fein delegates with whom they have been conferring, and they cut it out because the Sinn Fein delegates refuse to be bound by that Oath of Allegiance.Will the Government look at what has been happening in Dublin? They say that this Oath is going to remain and that the Irish people, for whom Sinn Fein stand, will accept it. Will my right hon. Friend dare to make that suggestion in view of what happened in Dublin yesterday? The whole City of Dublin was placarded from end to end with statements repudiating the form of the Oath of Allegiance, repudiating staying within what they call the Commonwealth, and reasserting again in its old and most violent form the sovereignty of an Irish Republic, and that is what your tampering with the Oath of Allegiance has brought you to. You have watered it down to this point, that they do not believe that it would be binding on their consciences, and when you have sold the pass in respect of the Oath they fling it back again with contempt in your face. The Minister for War last night asked, How was it possible that, within the terms of the Oath, they could set up a Republic and yet maintain the Oath? Surely the Minister for War has forgotten entirely what has happened. The Republic is in being. They have taken the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic as they will not take it to the State, and yet we are asked to believe that this new Oath prevents the possibility of the occurrence of what has already happened. I do not pretend to enter into the logic of such a contention. The kind of mind that would produce an argument of that sort to the House is really beyond reason, and I do not intend to follow such an argument. The Minister for War asked us to reflect on the utter impossibility of breaking this Oath. If they take the Oath in the form in which it has been put; in these Articles of Agreement they are bound to break the Oath which they have already taken to the Republic. There is no escape from the position, and you are asked to believe that these men are utterly incapable of breaking an oath, yet none the less will take another oath which involves the breach of the oath already taken. All that leaves me entirely unmoved. It is ridiculous to talk in that way. Before my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House came into the House I had stated that the Prime Minister had made this declaration. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will give me his attention for the moment.
Listen to Demosthenes!
The Prime Minister stated that in no circumstances would there be an automatic inclusion of Ulster. My right hon. Friend subscribed to that statement. He was in the Government at that period and it bound him as much as it bound anybody. It has been repudiated, as we know now, by the Prime Minister. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, is it repudiated by him, or does he stand by it? There is no answer. There is another pledge repudiated. We are automatically included, and I am sure he will not dispute that we are, and if we are automatically included, am I not entitled to say to the right hon. Gentleman that that is one pledge which he owed to his party and to the loyal people of Ulster who, however he treated them, never abandoned their loyalty to him?I now come to the question of boundaries. Why are these boundaries to be altered? Have regard to the circumstances in which they were fixed. Away back in 1916, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) was the head of the Government, he turned over into the hands of the present Prime Minister the negotiations in respect of the then proposed Irish settlement. They proposed partition, and it was from that quarter that the suggestion first came, though they would have us believe otherwise now. I am sure the House will remember that that was so. They proposed in the first instance one government of 26 counties and another, co-equal in authority, status and power, for the six. They asked my right hon. Friend, the then Member for Duncairn, to carry those proposals across for submission to Ulster, and they asked the late hon. Member for Waterford to carry them across to a Nationalist Irish Convention. Partition on the identical existing basis was accepted by both, though subsequently repudiated by the then Nationalist organisation. It was the Government proposal. Whatever the objections to it, they were as cogent then as they are now. Nobody at that period ever contemplated filching away so much as a yard of the six counties. Time went on and with it came the Act of 1920. My right hon. Friend knows that so determined were the Government to explore thoroughly, and to settle, this question that they set up a special Cabinet Committee whose business it was to look into every aspect of the question, and I know, and he knows, that they specially examined the areas of the Northern and Southern Parliaments. After the most mature examination they came to the final and fixed conclusion that six counties and 26 counties were just and right. They carried that decision to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet unanimously confirmed it. They brought it down to this House and it was debated, amongst other questions, up and down, and finally by Act of Parliament we once for all by Statute fixed the areas. We were asked to do our best to set up our Parliament and start it working. I leave it to this House to say for itself, in view of what it knows has happened, whether we have made an honest effort to discharge the duty which the Government laid upon us. They will bear witness that we have. We had our elections. We returned in respect of two particular counties four of the eight members who are returned by them to the Northern Parliament. They sit there, and one of them is a Minister of the Crown, and now the Government brings forward a proposal which will have the effect of negativing that election and compelling a new election delimiting our area. To the extent that it may delimit that area it must necessarily reduce the representation in Parliament and affect the whole of our finance and everything else. The Prime Minister said, "Cannot we argue with Ulster?" They did not argue about that. They decided it. They did not even ask our permission. A more monstrous and more inequitable thing was never done to a free people. Nobody with any spirit would tolerate it, and no Minister with a particle of justice in his breast would defend it. The whole thing is intolerable and disgraceful to the Government that introduced it. The Prime Minister in the course of the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Antrim (Captain C. Craig), interrupted him to say, after my hon. and gallant Friend had called attention to this arrangement, that he did not mean what he was supposed to mean. I will show in a minute that he did. In his speech in this very Debate he spoke of entering into the area upon the principle of delimitation by rural district councils, parliamentary constituencies or otherwise. I hope that my right hon. Friend will look up the quotation. He may have one notion about that matter; Sinn Fein has another and entirely different one. I have in my hand a Sinn Fein document which indicates the county of Tyrone, and the proportion of Tyrone which they intend to take away is six-sevenths of the entire area. It is coloured green, but I do not object to that; they are welcome to the colour. How did they get the information about the six-sevenths? I will tell you where they got it. They had an identical map before the Delegation of the British Cabinet with whom they discussed this matter, and they have come down into the country and told us in explicit terms: "We have arranged and are going to get six-sevenths of the entire county." If that is wrong the right hon. Gentleman ought to say so. He ought not to fence with this above all questions because it is vital to us. If that is the proposal, while we can make contributions to peace, while no party in Ireland more earnestly desires peace than we do, we hold that there will be no peace on any such basis. About 250 of the men who live along the frontiers came down to us in Belfast on Tuesday last and said to us, "The Government have sold you and betrayed you. Are you going to betray us?" We will not do it. That is the end of it. I do not desire to raise controversial points, but I told hon. Members quite frankly that it was necessary for me to speak plainly. What is the use of living in an atmosphere of hypocrisy? We want to deal with these things and to solve them justly in a way that will endure. You have to deal with them honestly on the basis of a just balance of opposing interests. Along this border line feeling is more intense than anywhere else. It is due to the very conditions under which they live. Feelings that are strong on both sides meet on the border line. Anybody who knows anything of life knows that that is so. It is because they live in this atmosphere that they so much dread the proposal of the Government to sell them. I do not know how you can expect them to be otherwise. Three times we have dealt with you on this particular question. Each time you have conceded to us the full limit of the six counties, and you cannot go on playing pitch and toss with it for ever. Let me look at another matter. The City of Derry is historic ground. It enshrines memories that no Ulsterman, no man who loves his country, ought ever to forget. The very dust of its churchyard heaves with the immortal dead. The apprentice boys who made a stand in Derry created an Irish Thermopylæ as noble and historical as the old, and they are buried there. Our cathedral is there. There, too, are the walls behind which a famished garrison fought disease and fought the enemy and held high the lamp of freedom and kept its flame pure and bright. There is no Ulsterman who would surrender a yard of them. The thing is impossible. It would outrage every sentiment and every feeling we have ever cherished and respected, and I tell you that if an attempt be made to deprive us of Derry, you will succeed only when you have prevailed over a conquered community and a devastated country. Some hon. Members may say that we are using the language of bravado. We are not built that way. We have the defects of our qualities, but we do not boast. That sort of taunt used to be thrown at us. But on 1st July, 1916, when half a division of Ulster men died on the ground where they stood, an answer was given to all that sort of thing. The same spirit is abroad to-day, and the way the Government have treated us has irritated and provoked us almost beyond endurance. Do the Government imagine that we have not had our troubles in endeavouring to restrain our own people? They have made the task of the Northern Prime Minister and of others who are striving for peace and who have no object in public life except to promote peace—they have made our position nearly impossible, and if they let us down and we have to go, they will have to deal with others. If they really mean peace for Ireland, they ought to stand by a contract three times made. They ought to do some kind of justice to us. You will never get peace in Ireland by pitchforking people on the frontier or elsewhere into each other's arms. Friendship is got only on the basis of confidence and goodwill. You are going the right way about destroying confidence and goodwill by constantly re-opening a question the instant it has been closed. That is not the way to get on. When we ask you to stand by the area you have given us in the, Northern Parliament, we ask you to take the only right and wise course. You must know that the only effect of taking away territory from us now in these circumstances will be to irritate and to, provoke, and in the end you may produce an outrage. We do not want that. We are resolved that within our area we shall set an example of justice and of good government. We will give to every man, whatever his creed or class, the same protection, the same rights of citizenship, which we claim for ourselves, no less and no more. We indulge the hope that when this gust of passion, fitful and wild, which is passing over Ireland, has passed away and an age of sanity has succeeded the age of passion, our opponents will address themselves in the same spirit to the task of treating our co-religionists as we intend to treat theirs, and will give them some place in the public life from which they are now wholly excluded. When that time comes you can come with your Boundaries Commission. If the final object be the getting of Ireland united in one Parliament, what is the use of quibbling now over a town-land or two? Leave the boundaries alone if you want to get on. Keep faith with us if you expect anybody to believe in you. Manifest some spirit of toleration for us. Show that at least you believe in your own good word and your own self-respect. If you will do that I can tell the right hon. Gentleman this, that while he and I may not live to see it, there will be another and a better Ireland. I should despair if I believed that just as our fathers have had to struggle in this wretched quarrel, and we have had to prosecute it, that we should have no better heritage to leave to our children. I hope for better, and I say to the Government in all seriousness: Do not destroy and dash that hope by a foolish action of this kind at this time. There is no justification for entrenching upon the rights which you have given to another Parliament. It is more than a debateable point whether constitutionally you have a right to do so. You dare not attempt it in any Dominion that you have. You have parted with the authority to them as completely as you have parted with it to us. Just because it suits your purpose, because you have been overawed—for that is the truth—you think you can go on plundering us and abusing us. No policy begun in fear has ever ended in other than folly. You have no right, I say again, to enter upon a yard of our ground. We cannot give it up and we will not give it up. You have definitely parted with it, you have no right whatever to withdraw it from us, and, believe me, the people who live along that border line will be as safe in our hands as in the hands into which you propose to put them. I conclude with this. Do, for God's sake, try to keep faith with somebody some time. You have played with us and you have fooled with us. Do not continue it to the extent that, in the end, you will drive the most loyal people—for I make the claim for my countrymen in Ulster that they are the most loyal friends you have ever had, indeed, the only friends you have ever had in Ireland—do not., I say, drive them at last to despair and make them forget, if that were possible, even the country to which they have contributed so much, and to which they are so proud to belong.
The speech to which we have just listened shows the position which I think Ulster has a right to take up. I am sorry the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward) is no longer present in the House, because he drew attention to a constitutional point which has not been alluded to hitherto, and which I think should receive some attention from those Members who are going to support the Address on which we shall soon vote. The hon. and gallant Member for Stoke pointed out that if this Agreement were carried out, a great change in the Constitution would be involved and would necessitate an appeal to the country. I think I am right in saying that some of the greatest constitutional authorities in this country at the present moment agree with that view. If that is the right view, and if we are to have a General Election, what will be the position of those gentlemen who have voted for this Agreement? Voting for this Agreement commits them to the principle of the Agreement. When a Bill is brought in, they cannot object to the Second Reading of the Bill if they have voted for this Agreement, and in the same way, if there is a General Election they cannot oppose the principle of this Agreement at the General Election because they have voted for it in this House. Therefore, how can the democracy of this country express an opinion through its representative when that representative, without consulting them, has already committed himself to a certain course of action?
They can turn him down if they do not agree with him.
They can, and I venture to say that very likely they will. We were extremely glad to welcome back in restored health the right hon. Gentleman the late Leader of the House, and he made an extremely interesting speech. Among other things, he said that once this question of Home Rule had been taken up by one of the great parties of the State it was bound to succeed, but was it, unless that great party who took it up could prove that they were right? May I point out to my right hon. Friend the present Leader of the House the position in which we all are. I have been for nearly 30 years—it will be 30 years next July—a Member of this House, and I do not see, except my right hon. Friend, any hon. Member who was here with me in the old days.
A good job.
Well, we had principles in those days. I want to point out to my right hon. Friend, and I am sure he will not deny it, that never had the Conservative party a more loyal follower than myself. There never was a member of the Conservative party who was less anxious or more unwilling to go against his party than I was. The hon. Members in those days sitting opposite used to describe me sometimes—I do not think they really meant it, but they said it—as a "party hack."
You were a four-wheeler.
I was described as a "party hack," who was always prepared to support his leaders. Why have I changed? Because the principles for which we were all returned in 1892—for which the right hon. Gentleman and I were returned to this House—have been broken by the leaders of the Unionist and Conservative parties and have been broken when those principles were shown to be right. Let me remind my right hon. Friend of what happened in 1885. Does he suppose that the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, the late Duke of Devonshire and the late Duke of Argyll left the party with which they had been identified for so many years without good and adequate reasons. Has not their action been amply justified? What did they say? They said that Home Rule was only the stepping stone to a Republic. I think it was Mr. Michael Davitt, but, at any rate, some of the Irishmen at that time said they were very glad to breakfast with Mr. Gladstone because that meant obtaining Home Rule; while at lunch they could get something more, and at dinner time an independent Irish Republic. We always said that was going to be the result, but the Radical party said "No, you are wrong. If you once allow them to have Home Rule you will have a loyal and devoted Ireland."
And so we would have.
How do you know?
I shall deal with that interruption in a moment. The House of Commons in 1914 passed a Home Rule Bill. I would remind hon. Members, as was pointed out by my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) a short time ago, that in September, 1914, Mr. Redmond said that that Act would unite the two peoples in a friendly alliance which never would be broken.
And you killed him for saying so.
Within two years, when this country was endeavouring to defend itself against the attacks of Germany, and when our position was none too good, that was the moment chosen by the Southern Irish to rebel against us in conjunction with our enemies. Had not we always said, had not the right hon. Gentleman's relative always said, that that would be the result? If Mr. Redmond was wrong when he made that prophecy—and when Mr. Redmond made that prophecy there was not a single dissentient voice in Ireland, they all agreed with it—what hope have we that the five delegates are right when they say that they hope a new era of peace will result from this Agreement, when we know that, at any rate, a minority of the Sinn Feiners in Ireland are bitterly opposed to the Agreement? The right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) said yesterday:
What comes of the recommendation by newspapers and other agencies to the electors of this country, that if we agree to this we are bound to open up a new era of peace—a new world, I think my hon. and gallant friend, the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) said. We have had promises of a new world before."It is absurd to think we have settled the Irish Question when both Parliaments agree to this. Ireland is in a state of demoralisation and chaos as great as ever has been almost in any country. That is not going to be changed by waving a wand."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1921; col. 208, Vol. 149.]
Do not rub it in; we have done that.
I have a paper here which was issued in September, 1919, and it is in large leaded type. It says:
Then it goes on to say that the old world must come to an end, that it cannot be shored up much longer, but it really is all so foolish that it is not worth while reading it, although nearly every Member of the Government subscribed to it. I read a good deal of it to the right hon. Gentleman, the Minister of Transport, during the Railways Bill. I do not know about the Secretary of State for War, and I am not sure I have not got the Colonial Secretary writing in the same paper. I only use it as an illustration of the fact that we cannot attach any importance to any promise given by the Government."The old world must end. The Prime Minister's message to the people. Millions of gallant young men have fought for the new world. … If we fail to honour the promise given to them we dishonour ourselves. What does a new world mean? What was the old world like? It was a world where toil for myriads of honest workers, men and women, purchased nothing better than squalor, penury, anxiety, and wretchedness—a world scarred by slums and disgraced by sweating, where unemployment through the vicissitudes of industry brought to despair multitudes of humble homes."
Has Labour helped to fulfil those promises?
We are going to discuss what is called a treaty. We can make treaties with Germany and France, but we cannot make a treaty with Yorkshire, and how can we make a treaty with Ireland? The Act of Union has not been repealed. Ireland is still a part of this country, and how can we make a treaty except with a foreign country? Why has the word "treaty" been used? It is because the Sinn Feiners refused to have anything to do with it unless words were put in which involved the recognition of an independent nation. There was a little discussion yesterday between the Secretary of State for War and an hon. Member as to the meaning of the provision which will allow the Irish Free State to provide means of coastal defence, and that at the end of five years the matter should be reconsidered. What does "coastal defence" mean? Coastal defence means that there shall be some small vessels which can defend the coast, and that those small vessels may include submarines. What is to prevent the Irish Free State establishing submarines, and when those submarines are established what is to prevent, if we unfortunately have another war with Germany, the Germans and the Irish Free State making art alliance, as they did before, and using those submarines against us? How are we to limit that number, and how are we to limit the size of their army?I ventured to interrupt the Prime Minister during his speech a few days ago when he said that the army would be limited, and I asked him how. He replied, "Oh, we should see that the Treaty was carried out; that has been done before." Has it? Have we ever interfered between ourselves and our Colonies, except once, in America, when we lost? Should we do it again? Does he mean to tell me that if Canada or Australia or New Zealand were suddenly to establish a large army we could in any way interfere Does he not know that if Ireland were to establish a large army and if we were to attempt to interfere, and if Ireland were to say, "We do not care for your treaty; we were a separate State with a separate power to have a separate army and a separate navy, and we are going to do it," does he think the Gentlemen who sit on that Treasury Bench would have the courage to come forward and say: "At the cost of large sums of money, at the sacrifice of many lives, we are going to interfere to prevent you carrying out the breaking of a particular article in the Treaty"? We should have the Prime Minister himself, if unfortunately he was still in power, coming down and saying: "It is not wise to consider whether or not they are to have an army of 40,000 or 50,000. After all, what is 10,000 men? It is not worth while having a fuss about." Consequently, the provisions of this particular treaty are, in my opinion, absolutely useless. What about a tariff, which is rather an important thing, especially to Free Traders? Many of them, I think, are on the other side of the House. The Prime Minister, with regard to tariffs, thinks we have got Ireland under our thumb. We are Ireland's best customer. If Ireland puts on a tariff against us, does he mean he would put a tariff against Ireland, and would not that be breaking the Treaty? Has not everyone of the Dominions got a tariff against us, and would not the Irish say, "You have given us Dominion Home Rule"? [An HON. MEMBER: "It is a preference tariff."] It is a tariff. My point is that if the Irish Free State chose to put on a tariff against us, our only remedy would be to put on a tariff against them. I do not believe the Free Traders opposite would agree to that. I am not quite certain whether my right hon. Friend is still a Tariff Reformer or not, but I believe that he would be the only one who would agree to it, and, consequently, the idea that we could exercise any control over the Irish Free State in the matter of tariffs is, I think, a mistake. It has been said that we have agreed to this surrender—because it is a surrender—because otherwise it would cost money, and we might lose some lives. The right hon. Member for Central Glasgow said that that was an absurd argument, and it is an absurd argument from every point of view. First of all, what is this Treaty going to cost us? As I understand it, we are going to give £6,000,000 a year to start the Irish Free State. That, I believe, capitalised, would come to £120,000,000. We could do a great deal with £120,000,000 in suppressing a rebellion, and do not forget that, in a very short time, the Sinn Feiners will be fighting amongst themselves, if they are not fighting with Ulster, and we shall then have to intervene, when they have established themselves on such a footing that it will make our intervention more costly and more bloody than if we were to intervene now. I would like to draw the attention of the House to what I consider one very important matter. It makes my blood boil. Here is a letter from a lady. I have not the pleasure of the lady's acuaintance, but I know her family. She says:
"I am only the mother of a young officer who served his country during the whole period of the War, gained many distinctions, and commanded his battalion in many engagements, won his D.S.O. and a bar and the Croix de Guerre. He was foully murdered a few months ago in Ireland, where he came to help me after my husband's death, and his sole crime was that he refused to subscribe to Sinn Fein. My house was then burned to the ground, my cattle, horses and farm stock stolen, and since the 'truce' everything in my garden—all farm implements, carriages, electric engine, etc.—was sold by the Irish Republican Army by public auction, without any interference by the British Government.
That makes my blood boil. I am prepared to sacrifice what little money I have got. I am prepared to go myself, though I am over 70, if I could bring those murderers to justice. I want to ask my right hon. Friend, Is he not aware that The men he has been receiving in Downing Street are the leaders of the men who committed those murders? Has he told those men that we would come to no agreement with them until those dastardly cowards were brought to justice, or has he agreed to wipe the slate, and that if there are no further attacks upon the Government policy, and if it will be possible to withdraw the large number of policemen who, I believe, look after the Prime Minister, then all these murders are to be condoned, and justice is to forgo its rights? My hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Address alluded in tones of eloquence to what happened when Casement went to the internment camp, where there were some Irish soldiers, and where he, with the connivance of the German Government, endeavoured to seduce those men from their allegiance. That was quite true. But those are not the men we are looking after. The men we are looking after are the men who rebelled against us in 1916. I have here a letter from a former Member of this House with regard to these men. He says:You can imagine my feelings, like those of many others, when I saw that the Irish delegates were received as welcome guests by the Prime Minister of England and his colleagues. And now the Government, in cowardly subjection to these criminals, whom the Lord Chancellor describes as sincere and honest men, have arranged, amidst a manufactured chorus of their subservient Press, entirely to forget those who were loyal to the British connection, and, without one single guarantee for our safety or one work of sympathy for our sorrows, to hand us over to their tender mercies."
Those are the men we are going to desert. When the Irish would not allow conscription, and the Government were afraid to enforce conscription in Ireland, those were the men who came forward of their own free will and assisted us in our hour of need. We are going to surrender them to their enemies, and to the men who were our enemies a short time ago. It cannot be wondered that even such a loyal supporter as myself of the ancient Conservative party, which no longer exists, is moved. Before I sit down I would like the House to consider for while what a very serious step it is going to take. There were two policies open to the Government. There was the policy of saying, "Let us surrender, let us have nothing further to do with Ireland." They have not done that, but the Government are trying to make out that they have got safeguards. Those safeguards are a sham. Why do they not say honestly, "We do not want to be bothered with Ireland any longer, let her go." They do not want to do that, they pretend they have secured safeguards and that Ireland is going still to remain a part of the British Empire. Do not forget this. This is a surrender to murder which you would not give to argument a short time ago. What is the effect of all this going to be on India? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) alluded to Lord Salisbury's statement that we could not afford to let Ireland go any more than we could afford to let India go. I agree that the moment we allow our dependencies to go the British Empire ceases to exist. But what will the Indians say; what will the followers of Mr. Gandhi say, when they see that now a sufficient number of loyal subjects of the Crown, and of soldiers and policemen, have been murdered, these concessions are granted? I have a speech here of the Prime Minister delivered only a year ago, in which he asked, "What is this warfare," and went on to point out that an apparently innocent farmer might be walking along the street and after he had been passed he might turn round with a revolver and shoot one in the back. These are the people we are surrendering to. If they had not done these things we should not have surrendered to them. What effect will that have upon India? I say it will be disastrous. I do beg hon. Members to pause before they give sanction to the proposals of the Government. We have had no time to consider them. We were summoned together at very short notice. It was hoped that it would all be over yesterday, and the Government have been rather surprised that it was not. Not very long ago I went to the Guildhall on the occasion when the freedom of the City of London was conferred on Mr. Roosevelt who, in the course of his remarks, referred to affairs in Egypt and said, "My Lord Mayor, let me give you a word of advice—govern or get out." That is the advice I would give to the Government in regard to Ireland. That is our alternative policy."I am endeavouring to ask some of those whom I knew personally in this House if something cannot be done to bring the case of Irish ex-service men before the notice of Parliament during this week's Debate. It has been part of my duty to correspond with a number of men who have served in the regiment in which I have served, and even under present conditions their lot has been a very unhappy one in many parts of Ireland. It must not be forgotten that they were all volunteers, and while a small minority may have been induced by intimidation and boycotting to join the Irish Republican Army, the vast majority have remained loyal, with the result that many are out of employment and subjected to the derision of their more fortunate colleagues."
Whatever may be the issue of this Debate, it will, I think, rank as one of the greatest Debates in the history of this House, alike in the importance of the subject with which it has dealt, and in the character of more than one of the speeches which have been delivered. Among those speeches there stands out conspicuously the speech delivered yesterday by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law), my predecessor in the position I have the honour to occupy to-day. That is one of those speeches which is more than a speech, it is an act—a great act of statesmanship and wisdom befitting the long experience of his high position.I cannot help contrasting the attitude of my right hon. Friend, who led my party for so many years with such success, with the attitude of my right hon. Friend who has just spoken (Sir F. Banbury), who claims, rightly. I admit, that he has been a faithful member of that party, and who, if he differs from it, does so with regret. Will he permit me to say that I think he is over despondent in supposing that, because for the moment he differs from us, our party is at an end. May I go even a little further and say that if, instead of having the honour of my right hon. Friend among its members, the party had had the misfortune to be led by him, its demise would have come much earlier. 4.0 P.M. Before I attempt to summarise the great issues of this Debate, there are a couple of preliminary matters—one of little consequence and the other of more consequence—which I should like to clear out of the way. My hon. Friend the Leader of this Ulster party (Captain C. Craig) invited me on the first day of the Debate to explain why we adopted the form of Address in reply to the Gracious Speech that has been used on this occasion. We did so solely in what we thought were the interests of debate, and to suit the convenience of Members. The House, being summoned for the consideration of these Articles of Agreement, and for that alone, we thought we could best meet the convenience of the House if we couched the reply to the speech from the Throne in a form which immediately raised the issue, and led at once to the great debate on which we had to enter. That is the whole explanation. There was no question of calculation about it, and we founded ourselves on a precedent which had prevailed uninterruptedly up to the year 1890. The other matter with which I wish to deal arose out of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson). My hon. and learned Friend in a phrase which he subsequently withdrew, spoke of the telegrams of congratulation received by the Government as "prepaid telegrams." The same charge has been made elsewhere, and I am quite aware that these rumours have been current in the Lobby. There is not a shadow of foundation for the suggestion which is made that the Government invited, and still less suggested, the character of the replies which were sent. I have here a copy of the telegram sent to each of the Dominions. It will be found to be a dry and colourless summary of the document which has been signed. I have also the messages to which the telegrams referred to were a reply. If my hon. and learned Friend wishes, or any Member of the House wishes, to see them, they can do so. They will at once see that there is no shade or shadow of foundation for saying that we invited or suggested the congratulations, or that the expressions of opinion which came from across the seas were anything but the spontaneous declarations of the Governments concerned. And, indeed, is it conceivable that the great Governments of the Empire would permit themselves to have words put into their mouths, for the convenience or gratification of some foolish vanity on the part of Ministers, or that these gentlemen would speak otherwise than in the name of their own Dominions? It is a little difficult to gather up the threads of the Debate, which has roamed over a large area. I have listened to the Debate, which seems to me to have three or four currents of criticism united in condemning the action of the Government, and in support of the Amendment. In the first place, there are those who, like my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), dislike the Coalition, and are ready to take any and every opportunity to get rid of it. At any other time I should have my answer to that aspect of the case, but I do not think it, is really germane to the great issue now before us, except in so far as it is true to say, as has been said on both sides of the House, that if we have—and I only say "if" we have—attained to an Irish settlement, we have only done so because it is not a party settlement, and because it is not a party Government in whose hands have been the negotiations. Then there are those who say that we never ought to have entered upon these negotiations at all, and that we of the Unionist party ought never to have abandoned our old position or altered our policy. The question of entering into negotiations, of whether we did right or not to enter into the negotiations, was settled, as far as this House is concerned, by the vote taken just before we adjourned in November. May I say a few words upon the attitude of my party, and on the spirit in which we, the men to whom they have given their confidence, have discharged the responsibility imposed upon us? I do not know how many Members of this House have found time to read the first two volumes—admirable volumes—of the biography of Lord Salisbury. They are a mine of wisdom. I venture to quote to the House—to members of my party, with whom Lord Salisbury was associated and whom he led for so long—one sentence of profound wisdom which statesmen ought never to forget—
What is the old Unionist policy? Let us consider whether the policy was alive. A great deal of this Debate has dealt with the case of Ulster, and as years went on that case became more largely the case of the Unionist party. I have been in this House for 30 years, and I took my first active share in politics in an Election in which Home Rule was, for the first time, the issue in the English Parliament. It was not the Ulster question which we fought at that time. We fought for the Union of Ireland with the United Kingdom under the supremacy of this Parliament. Was that policy sustainable? Has it been sustained? Did it remain in existence? I answer all these questions in the negative. If we had defeated Home Rule after Mr. Gladstone had adopted it so decisively as to make them retrace their steps, you would once again have had a national policy which would have had a chance of success; but to maintain the Union in that form as a party policy was impossible, and it proved to be so. The Home Rule Act was on the Statute Book. It was the Home Rule Act which could not be enforced, and which its authors said they would not enforce. But it was on the Statute Book, and definite legislative sanction had been given by Parliament to a policy contrary to that for which we had fought so long. What then were we to do? I submit that the wise course was to seek again how we could preserve the essentials by some policy which would not be a party policy, subject to all the fluctuations of party, but a national policy accepted and guaranteed by the whole nation. That is what we have done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) said that we might have done it a year earlier, and the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) congratulated himself on his success as a prophet, and gave himself some satisfaction by saying that the Act of 1920 had led only to a, cul de sac. He is quite right if he suggests that. The Act of 1920 was not the old Unionist policy; it was passed because the old Unionist policy had gone. And the change of which the right hon. Gentleman complains took place not now, but when Home Rule was put on the Statute Book in 1914, and again when we altered it by the Act of 1920. When the Noble Lord says that is a cut de sac he is wrong. You never would have got an agreement out of these negotiations had the Act of 1920 not recognised the facts in regard to Ulster, giving Ulster as it did security for her own internal liberty, the control of her own internal domestic legislation and administration, and thus confronting those who spoke for the majority with the stubborn fact so often asserted, so profoundly true. Ulster was not to be coerced into the Union. Ulster could come into the Union only by her own consent, and only if she were ready to give that consent freely and willingly."The commonest error in politics is to cling to the carcases of dead policies."
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he did not lead us out of this House in 1914 against the Home Rule Bill?
He has learned sense since.
I was not the Leader of the party at that time.
You were one of the leaders, and we all went out.
Certainly, I went out, and I voted against it.
You did not vote.
No, I was wrong; we did not vote. Of course, I was a Leader of the party at that time. But what is there in anything that I have said since, or anything that I have said this afternoon, that contradicts that action? I do not follow my right hon. Friend.There is another current of objection, a current, which I think has been steadily diminishing in volume and in strength since the facts have become known, and as this Debate has proceeded. Undoubtedly, there was great anxiety on the part of many lest the promises which had been made to Ulster should be broken—I think that they might have had a little more confidence—and lest Ulster should be compelled to accept the rule of a Parliament of All Ireland without her own consent. Ulster remains under this Treaty, as I promised that she should remain, mistress of her own fate. One of the hon. Members for Belfast complained that she was brought within the ambit of the Treaty, and then left to vote herself out. Yes, but until she has taken her decision, the Parliament of the Irish Free State has no authority in Northern Ireland, and, if her decision be, as evidently it is going to be, that at the present time she will not join in an Irish Free State, the Irish Free State Parliament in Dublin will never exercise any authority within the boundaries of Northern Ireland.
Stick to that!
What about the Act of 1920?
I do not follow the hon. and gallant Member.
By the Act of 1920 we were given our own Parliament. Now you have taken us, so to speak, and put us into another Parliament, and you tell us that if we do not like it, we must come out.
My hon. and gallant Friend is, I think, trying to make a mountain out of a mole-hill.
This is not one of cur strongest points, I admit.
He is imagining a grievance where there is no grievance. No act of the Parliament of the Irish Free State will affect Northern Ireland without the consent of Northern Ireland. Is not that the substance of what you have asked? That you have got.
The fact that you put us there shows that you think we ought to go there.
If I understand it, the argument of my hon. Friend is that we had no right to suggest to Ulster that she should go into the Irish Free State Parliament.
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me——
I am trying to get along. My hon. Friend the Leader of the Ulster Parliament gave his consent to the case which I have just put.
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that it is at all fair that, in face of the deliberate pledge given by the Prime Minister at that box—that under no circumstances should we be automatically included—we have now been automatically included? Does he defend that?
Ulster is not effectively included unless she choose to be so. No legislative act of the Parliament of the Free State has any effect in Ulster without her consent. Hon. Members suggest that we had no right to invite Ulster to consider whether she could not come into an All-Ireland Parliament. If we had not put that proposition to them, we should never have got what we have got for the first time—the assent of the representatives of Southern Ireland to recognise the right of Northern Ireland to remain outside.There is only one point in respect of which the position of Northern Ireland is altered, if she chooses to exercise her option to stay out. It is that in that case we propose to set up a Boundary Commission. I feel the force of the objections urged by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) the late Leader of the House yesterday, to our having gone so far in that matter without further conference with Ulster. I understand how sensitive they may fairly be on the subject, and how strong are their feelings. No one regrets it more than I do. Had they been present here in London, as at one time we hoped they would, it would have been easy for them to get into touch with us, and I have no doubt that we and they would have come to an amicable arrangement. But my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow, even while he criticised us, offered the justification for the action which we took. To have held up at that last moment for further consultation with Cabinet Ministers who were not here, but who were in Belfast, the Articles of Agreement which were then ready for signature, and which the Irish representatives were prepared to sign, would have been to jeopardise, and in my opinion to destroy, all chance of an agreement. I recognise that there is a great deal of alarm on the part of my hon. Friends the Members for Belfast as to the setting up of this Boundary Commission. We recognised that it was impossible to settle this question by county option, impossible to settle it by constituencies, and what we have proposed, and what the Commission is required to do, is to revise the boundary between the North and the South, so as to include where possible, having regard to economic and geographical considerations, men now excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland, who would wish to come under it, and to exclude from Northern Ireland men now included in it, who would wish to come out of it. We will do our best, as far as we are concerned, in the appointment of a chairman, to secure a man whose sagacity and impartiality will meet with the acceptance of both sides in this matter.
What some of us want to know is, Why did you do it at all? The area was finally fixed by the Act of 1920, after consideration by Parliament. Why did you alter it?
Will you put the names of the Commissioners in the Bill?
My hon. Friend, rather more extreme in these matters than the Ulster Members, wants to know what justification there was for altering the boundary. May I put this question? If, in exchange for men brought reluctantly under the Government of Northern Ireland, you can give them men whom they abandoned with equal reluctance, and only under the compulsion of a desire for a peaceable settlement, if in exchange for those who were unwilling to submit to their rule you can give them those who long to be under their rule, what injury have we clone? Does not such a solution as that help good government in Ireland, strengthen their hands and make for peace on both sides of the boundary?There is one more matter with which I wish to deal. There has been a great deal said in this Debate by critics of the Government's action about surrender and about fear. Fear is the worst counsellor, whether for an individual or for a Government. But sometimes people seem to me to be dominated by the fear of being thought to be afraid. Even in the last hour or two men have dwelt on the unhappy incidents of the last few months, and upon the outrages which have been inflicted. The curse of Ireland has been the length of its memory. Do not let us, Englishmen and Scotsmen, cultivate the same unrelenting memory. Those who desire that there should be no peace will dwell on every incident. Those who desire that these Articles of Agreement shall not fructify on one side of the Channel or on the other will use every effort to provoke trouble afresh, and prevent peace taking root. But is that going to be our attitude? We are a great nation—the heart and centre of a great Empire. We can afford to be generous as we are strong. As I listen to these speeches, as I hear these attempts to bring back again the attitude of passion when wiser men on both sides are trying to allay it, I think that the part this Parliament may best play is to turn its back upon the unhappy past, and look to a brighter and a more hopeful future. To have the power to forgive is our Imperial prerogative,
Division No. 1.]
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.||Gillis, William|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glanville, Harold James|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Armitage, Robert||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Gould, James C.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Henry|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Green, Albert (Derby)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Cope, Major William||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Greer, Harry|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Gregory, Holman|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Greig, Colonel Sir James William|
|Barrand, A. R.||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Davies, David (Montgomery)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hallwood, Augustine|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Halls, Walter|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Dean, Commander P. T.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Denison-Pender, John C.||Hancock, John George|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hartshorn, Vernon|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Edgar, Clifford B.||Haslam, Lewis|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Ednam, Viscount||Hayday, Arthur|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)|
|Briant, Frank||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Briggs, Harold||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Britton, G. B.||Evans, Ernest||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Higham, Charles Frederick|
|Bromfield, William||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Bruton, Sir James||Fildes, Henry||Hinds, John|
|Buchanan, Lieut. Colonel A. L. H.||Finney, Samuel||Hirst, G. H.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Hohi|
|Cairns, John||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Holmes, J. Stanley|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Foreman, Sir Henry||Hood, Joseph|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Forestler-Walker, L.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Cape, Thomas||Forrest, Walter||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Frece, Sir Walter de||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Fremantle, Lieut-Colonel Francis E.||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Casey, T. W.||Galbraith, Samuel||Hudson, R. M.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Alton)||Gange, E. Stanley||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Gardner, Ernest||Hunter-Weston, Lieut-Gen. Sir A. G.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Gee, Captain Robert||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
and we who have the strength, and we who have the might, should be the first to exercise that Imperial prerogative.
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to
Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
The House divided: Ayes, 401; Noes, 58.
|Irving, Dan||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Jesson, C.||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Neal, Arthur||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Stevens, Marshall|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Sugden, W. H.|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Swan, J. E.|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Parker, James||Taylor, J.|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, East)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Pearce, Sir William||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Kenworthy, Lieut-Commander J. M.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Kenyon, Barnet||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Kidd, James||Perkins, Walter Frank||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Kiley, James Daniel||Perring, William George||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Pliditch, Sir Philip||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A, B. (Glasgow, C.)||Pratt, John William||Townley, Maximillan G.|
|Lawson, John James||Prescott, Major W. H.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Vickers, Douglas|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Purchase, H. G.||Wallace, J.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Sir P.||Raeburn, Sir William H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Lorden, John William||Ramsden, G. T.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Raper, A. Baldwin||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Redmond, Captain William Archer||Waring, Major Walter|
|Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Lunn, William||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Remer, J. B.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Rendall, Athelstan||Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.|
|Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Renwick, Sir George||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wignall, James|
|Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Robertson, John||Wlikie, Alexander|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Rose, Frank H.||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rothschild, Lionel de||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Williams, Lt. Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Royce, William Stapleton||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Mallalieu, Frederick William||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Manville, Edward||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)||Winterton, Earl|
|Martin, A. E.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Wise, Frederick|
|Mason, Robert||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Matthews, David||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Mills, John Edmund||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Seager, Sir William||Woods, Sir Robert|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Seddon, J. A.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Sexton, James||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T, C.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Morden, Col. W. Grant||Shaw Thomas (Preston)||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Morris, Richard||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Morrison, Hugh||Simm, M. T.||Younger, Sir George|
|Mosley, Oswald||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Murchison, C. K.||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.||Mr. McCurdy and Lieut.-Colonel|
|Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Spencer, George A.||Sir J. Gilmour.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Butcher, Sir John George||Dixon, Captain Herbert|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Donald, Thompson|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Coote, William (Tyrone, South)||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W.(Liv'p'l,W.D'by)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Jellett, William Morgan|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Lynn, R. J.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Polson, Sir Thomas A.||Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers|
|M'Guffin, Samuel||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Whitla, Sir William|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Remnant, Sir James||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Maddocks, Henry||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Moles, Thomas||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. R. Gwynne and Mr. Reid.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
Having taken into consideration the Articles of Agreement presented to us by Your Majesty's command we are ready to confirm and ratify these Articles in order that the same may be established for ever by the mutual consent of the peoples of Great Britain and Ireland, and we offer to Your Majesty our humble congratulations on the near accomplishment of that work of reconciliation to which Your Majesty has so largely contributed."
To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of His Majesty's Household.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Monday next."—[ Mr. Chamberlain.]
Having, I hope, liberated to-day one people, I crave the liberty of saying something on the Motion for Adjournment with regard to another people. I refer to the position as regards the Greeks and Armenians in Cilicia. There is a very strong feeling in favour of the rights of these peoples, and I ask if it is not possible under the Rules of Order to arrange for a discussion in reference to it?
I am afraid there is no opportunity for a general Debate on this Motion. I have looked up precedents as far back as 1856, and I find the rule has always been that no discussion can take place on the Motion for Adjournment from Friday to Monday.
I would make this appeal, that the circumstances are ex- tremely exceptional, that this is a very urgent question, that the Prime Minister is meeting with representatives of other Powers, and that we should be very glad of an opportunity of showing how strong the opinion of this Parliament and of this country is in favour of setting out the rights of these people.
I understand the ruling you have just given to be that no general discussion such as takes place on an ordinary Motion for Adjournment is possible on this Motion, but I venture to ask you whether it would not be competent to urge reasons why we should sit to-morrow rather than on Monday, and, as one of these reasons, the great urgency of this question, in view of the meeting which is to take place on Monday between the Prime Minister of this country and the Prime Minister of France, and that therefore it is desirable if we were to sit to-morrow that we should, on the adjournment of the ordinary sitting to-morrow, have an opportunity of saying something, even if only for the half-hour that we are allowed at the end of the sitting. I agree that a discussion would have to be very restricted, but I submit that we are entitled to say something on that solitary point before the meeting between M. Briand and the Prime Minister. I do not wish to try to do something which you, Mr. Speaker, think improper.
I should have thought the Noble Lord's experience at the Bar would have taught him the answer to his question. If I were to give way to that seductive plea, the whole Rule, which has existed for about 60 years, would disappear.
This is a special case.
I am here to administer the Rules of the House, and when I have looked up the precedents, I cannot see my way to allow a departure of that kind, which would break down the Rule altogether.
May I give reasons why I think it undesirable that we should adjourn till Monday? That must be relevant to this Motion. If this Motion be not passed, the House will sit normally to-morrow, and that may be a good thing or a bad thing, but it is open for any hon. Member, surely, to say, "I prefer that the House should sit tomorrow for the following reasons."
The Noble Lord will see that there might be 600 Members in the House who, on subsequent Fridays, would avail themselves of the leave given if I failed in my duty in maintaining the Rule. The procedure that he suggests would be a mere evasion of the established Rules of the House, and I could not countenance it for a moment, but the very fact that on a Friday we do not even have the half-hour or hour that is usual on the other days——
That is a Standing Order. This is a special Motion, which should be discussed.
It cannot be discussed by bringing in the kind of questions which are relevant to an ordinary adjournment. It would be a mere evasion of the Rule, and my obvious duty is to stop it.
I desire to offer some reasons why I think it is very important why this House should sit to-morrow and not Monday, and I must be very careful not to transgress the ruling which you have given on the subject of what may be discussed and what may not. I should like very earnestly to ask the Government whether we can be quite sure that no irrevocable decision will be taken between this sitting and the next sitting of the House on any of the urgent and burning questions which are agitating the public mind. I can only point out the very deep interest that is taken, and the very great anger that is felt in all parts of the country that we should find ourselves in such a position that we are unable to discharge the solemn pledges we have given.
I will, of course, endeavour rigidly to adhere to the limits which you have put upon the observations which may be made, and my observations shall take the form of a vehement appeal to the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister for the discussion of a subject which to us is urgent, because tens of thousands of lives may be sacrificed even in 48 hours. Under these circumstances, and in view of the fact that the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman, and, I believe, other Members of the Government, are going to negotiate upon these important matters, they ought to have the full support of the House and country in the policy which we believe to be theirs, which has been proclaimed frequently, and never, so far as I know, has been departed from. I therefore appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give us some opportunity to voice those opinions, and so strengthen his hands in the important negotiations.
I desire to ask the Leader of the House if it is intended that the discussion of the Amendments should be resumed on Monday next. As a member of the Labour party coming from Ireland, I hoped that I should have had an opportunity of speaking in the Debate. I interrogated the right hon. Gentleman earlier in the day, and I understood that there would be practically no limit to the time which would be given to the Debate to-day.
The House has come to a decision on that matter.
I confess I think there is something inconvenient in the course which the Noble Lord has taken, and of which, I think, he was sensible himself. It is quite obvious that this is not a suitable occasion to attempt to discuss the grave matters to which he has alluded, nor do I conceive that there is need for any such discussion at all. I do not understand that there is any difference of opinion between the hon. Gentleman who first tried to raise this question and the Government. We are all anxious that everything that can be done should be done for the protection of these Christian populations. I am reluctant to embark on any discussion on the subject after the sense of the House has declared itself, that it is not desirable the Session should be prolonged in order that other subjects may be debated, but that it should be devoted to the one subject for which it has been summoned, and which it has now disposed of.
I see the Prime Minister has come in. May I ask him if it is not possible for the House to meet to-morrow instead of adjourning to Mon- day, in order that the questions raised by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), which are to be discussed by the Prime Minister on Monday with the French Prime Minister, may be debated here so as to give those who wish an opportunity of expressing their desire to secure the protection of the Armenians in Cilicia?
I am afraid I have been too lax in allowing the Debate, which, as I have already said, is not in order. If hon. Members will be good enough to look at the rulings of my predecessor on the 5th and 12th December, 1902, they will see that the Debate cannot be permitted.
Will it not be proper on Monday, if the House is not prorogued, to have a Debate on a Motion that the House do adjourn till Tuesday? Could we not then raise this matter and discuss this or any other question which it may be desired to bring forward? If the House is prorogued on Monday, will it not be possible to speak on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House until such time as the Prorogation is actually effected by the appearance at the Bar of Black Rod?
In regard to the first question of the hon. and gallant Member, certainly if on Monday there be a Motion to adjourn till Tuesday—a Motion "That the House do nod adjourn" involving as it would a sitting on the following day, then the usual hour before 11.30 will be open to hon. Members for the purposes of discussion. With regard to the second part of the question, that I cannot answer as I do not know at what time Black Rod may come.
But cannot we discuss matters until he does come?
Until he does come, there will be of course questions in the ordinary way.
But when the questions are finished on Monday, presuming there are not many, as is likely, would it not be possible, on a Motion for the Adjournment, to discuss this matter until such time as the appearance of Black Rod terminates the proceedings?
I think only the Government could put forward a Motion at that time.
Seeing that the Prime Minister is now seized of the desire of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division, may I ask him if the Government, after questions on Monday, will be prepared to make a Motion that the House do now adjourn, and thus give an opportunity for discussing a question on which hon. Members feel more keenly than I do, and also giving the Government an opportunity of expressing their views on a subject on which they have been very mum ever since the Treaty of Sèvres was signed? Will not the Government take the opportunity of allowing hon. Members who, after all, have come here to support them in their policy, to raising another matter about which they also feel as keenly as we do?
I believe that question has already been answered by the Leader of the House. The House has been summoned to deal with one topic, and if a Motion of this kind be allowed it might lead to further discussions. Yesterday, or the day before, I received a deputation from the Labour party and the trade unions on the subject of unemployment, because there was not an opportunity of discussing the matter in this House, as we were dealing exclusively with Ireland. In view of that, they assented to the idea of a deputation.
On a point of Order. Supposing that on Monday Questions terminate before the attendance of Black Rod. What will happen between the termination of Questions and the appearance of Black Rod? Will you, Mr. Speaker, leave the Chair, or is it the intention of the Government to move, "That the House do now adjourn," or is it open to any private Member to move "That this House do now adjourn"?
I have just explained that it is not open to any private Member to move an Adjournment of the House, and that in the ordinary course it is my duty to leave the Chair till Black Rod appears with his summons.
Would it be in order for me now to give notice that I will on Monday ask that a Motion about the Armenian Question should be taken after Questions, unless the Adjournment is moved by the Government for the purpose? If it will, I will give notice at once.
The Noble Lord can hand in his Motion, and see what happens.
If the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is not able to grant time in this House for a discussion such as we desire, will he follow the precedent that he himself has just mentioned in regard to the question of unemployment, and will he receive a deputation?
A deputation of those deeply interested in this matter? I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will see the importance of the matter.
I shall be very glad to receive a deputation. Not only my convenience, however, but the convenience of the French Prime Minister will have to be considered in this respect.
Question put, and agreed to.
Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3, till Monday next (19th December), pursuant to the Resolution of the House this day.
Adjourned at Eight Minutes after Five o'clock.