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Ireland

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1922

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Provisional Parliament (Oath)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the members of the Government, and of the Provisional Parliament, summoned for the 1st July, 1922, will he required to take the oath laid down in the Treaty?

No, Sir. The Treaty prescribes the oath to be taken by Members of the Parliament of the Irish Free State, and not by Members of a Provisional Parliament.

Will Ministers elected to the Provisional Parliament have to declare their approval of the terms of the Treaty?

Yes, Sir. All Ministers of the Provisional Government are obliged, by Article 17 of the Treaty, to sign the declaration which is set out in that Article.

May we understand that the Members of the Parliament which is summoned to meet on 1st July will not he required to take an oath of any description to anyone?

Yes, Sir, that is the position. That is in accordance with what the Treaty has prescribed. Only Ministers sign the declaration, until such time as the Free State Parliament is constituted, in which case the oath agreed upon in the Treaty comes into force.

Mr De Valera (Meetings In Scotland)

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to the announcement that Mr. de Valera is going to hold a demonstration at Glasgow on Sunday next and subsequently in other parts of Scotland; whether this may not lead to breaches of the peace; and whether it is the intention of the Government to allow these meetings to take place?

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the statement that Mr. de Valera is to address meetings in Glasgow and Dundee, and what steps he proposes to take to prevent a breach of the peace arising out of these meetings?

I have been asked to reply to these questions. My attention has been called to notices in the Press regarding the meetings referred to. The usual steps will be taken to preserve order.

Is it not quite obvious that Mr. de Valera is going to Scotland to preach murder and destruction of property?

That is the very question I disallowed. The hon. Member is putting his personal opinion into the question.

May I ask the Leader of the House whether we are to understand from the reply that the Government have no power to prevent persons who have been responsible for rebellion and outrage in Ireland from coming to this country, and preaching their propaganda here?

That is the same thing. It is exactly what I have struck out from the hon. Member's original question.

Do we understand that it is the intention of the Government to allow these meetings to take place?

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to accept any offer on the part of the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. G. Murray) to address a public meeting in his own constituency?

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps between now and Sunday to pass the necessary legislation to give him power?

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention, in the event of this gentleman preaching sedition in Glasgow, to allow similar meetings to take place later on?

Is it a fact that these questions are put by gentlemen who cannot address their own constituencies?

At the end of Questions—

In view of the unsatisfactory reply which I have received, in reply to my question by private notice, I ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the failure of the Government to take adequate steps to prevent breaches of the peace, by permitting Mr. de Valera to hold a meeting in Glasgow, and, subsequently, in other places in Scotland."

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the failure of the Government to take adequate steps to prevent breaches of the peace by permitting Mr. de Valera to hold a meeting in Glasgow and, subsequently, in other places in Scotland." That is not a Motion which I can accept. The holding of meetings may be perfectly right. It is only in the case of wrong action at such meetings that the authorities are hound to interfere.

Supposing a meeting be held, and a disturbance takes place, is one entitled to move the Adjournment of the House in order to call attention to the failure of the Home Secretary or the Secretary for Scotland to take the necessary action?

There are many meetings that are lively, and none the worse for that. Opinions as to what is a disturbance differ. I notice that the Press sometimes thinks there has been a "scene" in the House when I have not observed it.

Kidnapping, Pettigo

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if his attention has been called to statements in the English and Irish Press to the effect that four loyalists were carried away by the forces which retreated from the British troops at Pettigo. If so, can he say whether such statements are true, and, if so, whether these prisoners have yet been released or are in safety?

I am making inquiry into this matter. I have had information as to the names of some men mho have been carried off. I will make further inquiries.

Am I to understand from that reply that the right hon. Gentleman thinks there is substance in the statement? If so, may I ask him whether the retreating troops in question were or were not Free State troops?

I am making inquiries. A certain number of special constables have been captured or kidnapped or taken away, and I am making inquiries to get a list of names. Four names have been given.

They were probably taken away by Free State troops in this particular case; but that would not exhaust the question; because they would be men who had been special constables in the area, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State.

In the course of his inquiries will the right hon. Gentleman find out, and inform the House, how many citizens of Belfast and other parts of the six counties have been taken, captured or kidnapped by someone's orders, and never brought to trial, and who do not know why they have been taken, captured or kidnapped?

I am afraid it would be no use trying to deal with these topics at question time. Of course, a great many persons have suffered illegal and improper injuries to life and property, both in Northern and Southern Ireland.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what opportunity we may have, and when, to discuss the appalling condition of affairs in the six counties, where life and property is not safe, and innocent citizens are arrested and not brought to trial?

We had a discussion on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Whitsuntide Recess only a fort- night ago. For any further opportunities, my hon. Friend must ask the Leader of the House.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that these wholesale arrests, captures, kidnappings, or whatever they may be called, have all taken place since the House rose?

This is a long way from the original question. The question of the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Pennefather) dealt with a particular case, and asked whether 12 persons had been carried off into Free State territory.

Does it make any difference if there were nearly 500 arrested, captured or kidnapped?

It makes a difference in regard to allowing a special question to he put. There must be something immediately arising to justify a question not on the Paper?

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is any reason to believe that these men are in safety or that anything has happened to them?

Four names have been given to me of persons who have been carried off, arrested, or taken away. I know nothing else. I am making inquiries.