asked the Prime Minister if he will place upon the Table of the House immediately a full Report of written as well as verbal communications that passed between the Irish Free State authorities and the Prime Minister or other members of the British Cabinet which caused the Home Secretary to issue orders for the arrest and deportation of numerous citizens to be tried by ordinary and extraordinary Courts in the Irish Free State?
I have been asked to reply. No, Sir. I can add nothing to the statements made by the Attorney-General and myself on Monday last. As I explained then, nothing more than internment is proposed at the present time.
Is it within the constitutional power of the Government of this country to prevent the Irish Free State from taking any measures against persons who are now deported and interned there?
I should like to see that question on the Paper before I answer it.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether any persons were wrongly arrested in connection with these deportations?
I do not think that arises out of this question, but I have no information that anybody was wrongly arrested.
Have the Government received any assurances from the Free State as to what is to be done with these men who have now passed without the jurisdiction of the British Government?
I have already stated that they have been interned.
When is the Advisory Committee which is to deal with the cases of these men to be set up?
I hope in a very short time.
(by Private Notice) asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health if he is aware that James Hickey, Gallowgate, Glasgow, one of the men deported to Ireland on the night of Saturday, 10th March, is a native of Glasgow, the son of a Glasgow policeman, and that a prominent local clergyman is prepared to testify to his complete innocence of any connection with Irish rebel organisations, and if in view of these facts he will take immediate steps to restore this man to his home.
Each of the persons interned was made aware, by the terms of the Internment Order, a copy of Which was served on him, that it is open to him to submit representations against the Order. Any such representations will be referred to the Advisory Committee to be presided over by Lord Trevethin. Representations from any other persons who may have personal knowledge of a particular case will also be considered.
Am I to understand that the onus for putting right an illegal act on the part of the Government rests on the victim and not on us?
Obviously I cannot accept the assumption that this act was illegal on the part of the Government. It was agreed by all sections of the House in the Debate on the question that it was perfectly legal. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, Sir."] The fact that the onus of proof lies on the person involved is contained in the Regulations which were sanctioned by this House, and they cannot be reviewed by any party.
Have I the assurance of the hon. Gentleman that proper facilities will be given .to these men to make their claims for consideration and that the claims will be considered at once? I ask this because I have been in prison and know how difficult it is for an imprisoned man to make any representation.
I think the next-question deals with that very point.
We have been told that this Committee will sit in Britain. Will these interned men be brought back from Ireland to Britain in order that they may be present at the inquiry, or will it be held in their absence?
As far as I am informed, their representations will he submitted to the Committee, and if the Committee desires further information on the subject it will have the right to examine the accused person. It is within their competence.
Does not the hon. Gentleman see I am not asking as to the rights of the Committee? I am asking what is the right of the individual. Is it his right, if he wishes to appear before the Committee which is to decide his fate?
The next question will raise that point better, because it is in more general terms. This question applies to one individual case.
(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister if he will inform the House what arrangements, if any, have been made, either by His Majesty's Government or the Free State Government, to give the persons deported from this country to Ireland, there to be interned, an opportunity of communicating with their friends in order that legal advice may be provided for those of the prisoners who desire it; and further, will the British Government take steps to ensure that the legal advisers of the deportees proceeding to Ireland from England shall be allowed freedom of access to them for the purpose of advising as to an appeal to the Advisory Committee?
The Free State Government will see that every reasonable opportunity is afforded to these persons to communicate with their friends in order to procure legal advice as to any representations they may wish to make to the Advisory Committee, and their legal advisers will be allowed freedom of access to them for this purpose.
Who is going to judge as to the exact significance of the word "reasonable"?
May I ask the Home Secretary the question which I put to the hon. and gallant Gentleman speaking for Scotland, namely, will these men have the right to appear before the Advisory Committee, which I think the Home Secretary told us would be constituted and set up in Britain, or is their fate to be decided in their absence?
I am not quite certain about the right, but my impression is this, that they will make their representations, if they wish to do so, to the Advisory Committee, and it will then rest with the Advisory Committee as to whether they think that these persons should be brought over here. [Interruption.]
In the previous cases in which action was taken under this or a similar Order under the Defence of the Realm Act in the last few years, had not the accused the right given to them to appear before the Advisory Committee if they chose, and is it not the fact that they did appear?
I should like to investigate that before I give a reply.
Will this Committee sit in public when these men appear before it, or in private?
I imagine in private.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Irish prisoners who were interned after the Easter Week Rebellion, were allowed to make personal representations to the Advisory Committee then sitting?
Is the Advisory Committee yet set up, and who are the Members? Can they apply at once?
They can apply, certainly. I hope the Advisory Committee will be set up very shortly. As I said in answer to the previous question, Lord Trevethin has undertaken the duties of Chairman, and I have asked two other gentlemen to serve, to make three. One has not yet answered, and the other, who has accepted, is Sir Henry Mather-Jackson, barrister and chairman of the Monmouthshire Quarter Sessions.
Would the Home Secretary make inquiries of the judges—Mr. Justice Sankey, for example—who presided over corresponding committees during the War, as to whether it was not the practice during the War for the President of the Committee to give an opportunity to the man who was interned to be seen by the Committee if there was reason to do so?
I will certainly make those inquiries, and I thought. I made it plain that the Committee would see them if they thought that there was a reasonable case for so doing.
Will the man be seen, not if the Committee asks him to appear, but if he himself asks to be seen by the Committee, as was the custom on previous occasions?
I have made very careful inquiries as to previous action in this matter, but I cannot give an answer at this moment.
Is it a fact that the third member, who has not yet replied, is Sir Hamar Greenwood?
I am still dealing with my own specific case, and I want to know if there is going to be no difference in treatment between men against whom there is no primâ facie case and who are British-born subjects. This man was born in Glasgow, and you have handed him over to an enemy Government— [Interruption]—
May I appeal to the House to allow the hon. Member to put his question?
I think it would be very desirable. It must be perfectly obvious that this is not a matter for humour so far as I am concerned—to the Government of another country with whose internal affairs we have been told we have no right to interfere—will that do as a definition?—and, therefore, this man, a citizen of my city, and most of these men who have been seized are citizens of my city, without the consent of the local police, but with the instruction of the English Home Office. I am just coming to my question, Mr. Speaker. I want to know if the Government are not going to admit their mistake and return this British-born citizen at once, without investigation and without an Advisory Committee?
rose simultaneously with Captain Elliot.
Let us hear the Home Secretary's answer first, at any rate.
The answer is equally applicable to England and Scotland in this ease. It is that, if there be any person who has been interned without any primâ facie case against him, and he is brought before the Advisory Committee, they would clearly order him to be returned.
But I am bringing it before you is this Advisory Committee to supersede your powers, suspending the ordinary law of the land— [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order!")—