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Distress (Imperial Grant)

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 20 June 1922

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he proposes to take to ensure the impartial administration of the money voted by Parliament for the relief of distress in accordance with the Collins-Craig pact?

I see no reason, whatever, to doubt the assurances given me by Sir James Craig that the money promised by the Government for relief of distress in Belfast is being administered with impartiality. At the same time the British Government countersigned the Agreement in question and is, therefore, bound to form its own judgment for the information of the House as to how far effect has been given to its terms. For this purpose I have instructed an experienced public official to proceed to Belfast and to inquire and report to me upon the extent to which effect has been given to the Agreement. The officer selected for this purpose is Mr. S. G. Tallents, C.B., who at one time represented the British Government with marked ability at Riga. In order to make his services available, Mr. Tallents has been detached from the post he has since filled as Private Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant.

Was it not part of the Agreement that there should be an equal number of Catholics and Protestants on the Committee to distribute this money which has been voted by the Imperial Government?

No, Sir. There were two Committees, as far as my recollection serves me. One was to investigate cases and the other to assist in the formation of a new joint police force. This money was to be distributed on certain principles and in certain directions, but, as far as my recollection goes, there was no such arrangement as the hon. Member mentions.

Under the agreement of 31st March, £500,000 was to be granted by the British Exchequer for the relief of distress in Belfast, of which two-thirds was to go to Protestants and one-third to Catholics.

How much has been allocated by the Government for the relief of Protestants driven out of the South of Ireland?

That has nothing to do with the question or with the supplementary question.

Do I understand that £350,000 is to be devoted to those who drove the Catholics out and £150,000 to the Catholics who were driven out?

I think that is an extremely one-sided manner of summing up the causes of the difficulties at present arising in Belfast.