I beg to move,
That this House condemns the outrages committed against the Forces of the Crown and civilians in Ireland, and expresses its deep abhorrence of the brutal assassination of His Majesty's officers and other British subjects in Dublin on Sunday last; it deplores and condemns the action of the Executive in attempting to repress crime by methods of terrorism and reprisals which involve the lives and property of the innocent and are contrary to civilised usage; and it declares the urgency of taking immediate steps to bring about the pacification which is demanded in the interests of Ireland and the Empire.
It might have been advantageous in some way if the suggestion made on Monday—and which, as I understand it, was expected to be adopted—had been adopted, that the discussion of this matter should be postponed for a few days. I quite recognise, and indeed assert, that it was desirable that there should be as speedy and as full a discussion as possible; and I shall endeavour in the few remarks I am going to make, confronted as we are by perhaps as tragic a situation in Ireland as ever presented itself even in the history of that country, to speak with justice and certainly without passion. The Motion which I am submitting to the House in its opening words condemns the long series of outrages which have been committed against the officers of the Executive in Ireland, and it gives emphatic expression to the abhorrence of this House, and indeed of the whole country, to the brutal and cold blooded murders in Dublin on Sunday last. That feeling, I am certain, is notably general, but universal. The expression of it in the Motion might be thought to be unnecessary, or at any rate superfluous, were it not that those who condemn, as I condemn, the policy of so-called reprisals, are often represented as indifferent or even silent as to the blackness of the crimes of which the military and the constabulary have been victims, and as to the gravity and frequency of the provocations to which they have been exposed.
I have never, so far as I am concerned, spoken on the subject either in this House or outside of it without denouncing with such energy of language as I can command crimes of this kind. I have said, and I repeat it, that in the vast majority of cases, so far as my knowledge goes, they are without extenuation or excuse. The assassinations which took place at the beginning of the week in Dublin it is difficult to speak of with restraint. They were callous and cold-blooded murders committed against gallant officers who were at the time incapable of self-defence, and in more than one case, I think, in the presence of their wives. They can only be the work of men who are lost to all sense both of humanity and honour. These officers died in the strictest and fullest sense of the word martyrs to public duty. I will add that it would be not only a relief but a satisfaction to all of us to know that the criminals have been got hold of, and will suffer the extreme penalty of the law.
The very gravity of such crimes as this, and I regret to say that I think it is a mistake to assert that they are on the decrease, for since Sunday morning, in addition to the twelve, or it may be thirteen, men, women and children, who lost their lives in the afternoon at Croke Park, I see reported no less than fifteen cases of killing on one side or the other in various parts of Ireland. I say the very gravity makes it more necessary than ever that the Executive should be able to encounter them with a clear front and clean hands.
It is all-important, as the Chief Secretary is constantly telling us, and I entirely agree, it is all-important that the Executive should stamp out murders and terrorism, but in the performance of that task the means are almost, if not quite, as important as the end. The practice of what are called reprisals was in its early days of two or three months ago, defended by official authority, or if not defended, at any rate apologised for, on the ground that when officers of the Crown are hit they are entitled to hit back and that allowance, large and generous allowance, must be made for excesses committed in hot blood by men, who, it may be, have been ambushed and have seen their comrades killed before their eyes.
If that were the whole case, there would be very little to be said by way of criticism, or even comment; but it was very soon discovered that that hypothesis would not cover more than a very small part of the ground. Evidence began to accumulate, and has gone on accumulating in increasing volume ever since, that the forces of the Crown in various parts of the country, step by step, came to be engaged in systematic raids upon towns and villages, and in the deliberate destruction of creameries, factories, shops, dwelling-houses, farms, and farm produce, without any kind of discrimination, and without any regard to the presumed innocence or guilt of the owners or occupiers or even the local community to which they belong. At last, when the evidence of which I have spoken had grown both in volume, and in apparent authenticity, some of us brought forward a Motion in this House on 20th October, asking for an impartial and dispassionate inquiry into the facts. The House saw fit to reject that Motion by an overwhelming majority. What was the case put forward by the Chief Secretary? It was that these stories, if not all at any rate the bulk of them came from what he was pleased to describe as tainted sources, and that up to that date—I remember his words—there was not a tittle of evidence that the Officers of the Crown, either military or constabulary, had been concerned in any of these attacks on creameries and factories, and so on. Will he maintain that position to-day?
We have evidence, not from Sinn Fein sources, or that or anybody connected with that movement, but of a vast body absolutely independent, impartial, representing the great organs of the Press not only of this country but of America, France, and other parts of the civilised world—we have the evidence of men who, without any prepossessions or prejudices, were sent there—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—by the great and responsible organs of the Press in countries like France and America. We have the evidence of these men who have been on the spot, and who are thoroughly qualified by experience, as well as by honesty and judgment, not to distort the facts. We have that body of evidence which nobody can pretend has in any sense been inspired or dictated by the authority of the Sinn Fein movement.
Some of them were eye-witnesses, and many of them have been on the scene within a few hours after the event. Whatever the hon. Member opposite may think, I am sure that I am speaking the opinion of a large number of unbiased people when I say that there is a large body of evidence on this subject which in any other country would be accepted, not only as presumptive but conclusive. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Then why did you refuse an inquiry into Ireland? Many of us were skeptical and anxious to disbelieve that the forces of the Crown did such things and had misused their authority and been guilty of these acts. An inquiry was refused, and since that time the body of testimony has grown both in volume and authority. Having regard to the other statement made by the Chief Secretary in the course of the Debate on the 20th of October that there was not a title of evidence that officers of the Crown, either police or military, had been engaged in the destruction and devastation of these creameries and factories, I should like very much to know whether the right hon. Gentleman maintains that position to-day.
I have seen it stated on responsible authority that as far back as the 6th of October there was in Dublin Castle an official police report showing that in one of these cases, and a very bad case too, the outrage and destruction had been committed by uniformed men. The right hon. Gentleman said these things had ceased, but they are still going on. I read only this morning of the destruction of another of these creameries by an organised attack on the part of the police or the military. The important point I want to bring before the House is that these are not isolated acts of individuals who have got out of hand, and as the popular phrase goes, have run amok. The evidence, to my mind, I regret to say, has convinced me, and it is overwhelming that there has been organisation, lorries going out on forays of revenge, loaded with armed men, equipped with munitions, petrol, and bombs. Is that going to be denied, and, if so, upon what authority? That is a fact which has got to be explained and accounted for. Let me press that a stage further. If the Executive disapproves of these things, why does it not prevent them, and if it cannot prevent them why does it not punish them? I trust the Chief Secretary will tell us how many persons, either in the police force or in the military—these things have been going on for more than two or three months—have been made amenable, before what tribunals have they been brought, in how many cases has guilt or innocence been proved, and where guilt has been proved what punishment has been meted out? That is a very simple question which admits of a categorical answer.
We have, had brought to our knowledge within the last few days the existence of an extraordinary journalistic adventure at Dublin Castle called the "Weekly Supplement," which, I understand, the Chief Secretary admits to be an official document compiled by the authorities and printed, published, and circulated at the expense of the British taxpayer. I have only seen one copy of this publication, and it is one of the most extraordinary documents I have ever read. It was quite a recent issue towards the end of October, and its consecutive number is No. 12. It contained a number of the most inflammatory extracts you could possibly take from most extreme organs of one section of opinion in this country. Amongst other things, by way of stimulating the soldiers and police in Ireland in the discharge of their duty, it cited, not with disapproval, a proclamation issued in the stress of the American Civil War by perhaps one of the most bloodthirsty of the Federal generals who was raiding Kentucky, which announces to the population of that State, the rebel State, as it was called, his intention, if any of his men or adherents are shot, of seizing bankers, citizens, and miscellaneous members of the community without any regard to their innocence or guilt and shooting them at sight. Why was that published? Why is that document, of which every American is heartily ashamed, dug up, resuscitated and brought to life at a time when passions are inflamed in Ireland? Why was it sent out and published at the public expense by official imprimatur? It is impossible for the right hon. Gentleman, in view of facts of this description, to disclaim responsibility for what has been done.
To my mind the real seriousness of this matter, from a large and public
point of view, is that you cannot expect the Irish people, always distrustful of an Executive in the appointment of which they have little or no voice, to overcome that traditional distrust and to replace it by anything in the nature of wholehearted confidence if the Executive at a time of crisis like this deliberately pursues methods which confound the innocent and the guilty. But there is a more serious consideration still, which I commend to the judgment both of the Government and the House. The effect of this misguided and perverted policy has been to a degree which it is almost impossible to over-estimate, that poison the atmosphere. The opinion of moderate Nationalists, who hate crime and who have no sympathy even with extreme aspirations—still less with anarchic and terrorist methods, have been driven, and are being driven, day by day, and more and more, to an attitude if not of sympathy, at any rate of supine indifference. Let me read to the House a passage from a letter or article written by one of the most distinguished living Irishmen, a man of distinctly moderate Nationalist opinion. He is a writer of real genius and not a mere dreamer, but a man who has taken a very active part in one of the most hopeful and fruitful of all Irish industrial movements, the movement for co-operation. I refer to Mr. George Russell, known by the initials A. E. What does Mr. Russell say? Speaking of the state of things in Ireland and the recent policy of the Government, he says:
I doubt whether now any exposition of the Irish question will have the slightest effect in bringing about an Irish settlement. So far as I can see the British Government is determined to make Ireland a desert by wrecking its towns and industries, rather than allow the Irish nation to control its own affairs. And I do not see any power in the world which is going to lift a finger to prevent this wreckage. The British Government has the power to do it, and so far as I can judge by the action of its agents here it has the will to do it.
[An HON. MEMBER: "Piffle!"] The point I am making is that the policy you are now pursuing has alienated the friendship and sympathy of moderate Nationalist opinion in Ireland, and has driven the Nationalists, against their will, into an attitude not only of despondency but of despair. The longer this competition between the forces of anarchy on the one side and the forces of the Crown and the Executive upon the other—the longer this
competition of outrage and terrorism lasts, the more difficult will anything in the nature of peace become. The spectacle is, indeed, one of the most tragic ever presented. In my judgment there is only one way of escape. The first step to be taken—the initiative lies with His Majesty's Government—is not merely by vague phrases to express a tepid disapproval, but to drop and discontinue once for all, this policy of reprisals. I may be unduly optimistic, but I think it is still possible that we may find a more excellent way. I am of the opinion, which I have often expressed consistently and uniformly inside and outside this House, that the vast majority of the Irish people, the overwhelming majority, have no real sympathy with terrorism or assassination, just as I am perfectly certain that the vast majority both of the military forces of the Crown and the Constabulary have no sympathy with these campaigns or forays of reprisals. It is not a question, let me repeat—I have said it here before—of compounding with assassination and violence. That is a most superficial view of the situation. It is a question of getting into touch with real Irish opinion at present over-awed, driven, at any rate, into silence and indifference, and, if I may use the expression, of semi-mutinous callousness. It is a question of getting into touch with that real Irish opinion which lies beneath the surface, and which unquestionably in these late years has advanced considerably in its demands and its aspirations.
Believe me, it would be a profound mistake that that Irish opinion, the real opinion of the great bulk of the Irish people—it would be a profound mistake and a misreading of the facts, to suppose it is in favour either of anarchy or of separation. It is necessary to get into touch with that opinion as soon as and as quickly as possible, and as intimately as you can. As this terrible tragedy unfolds itself with an ever-deepening grimness week by week, and almost day by day, it is an easy and it is a tempting task to inflame passion, to embitter resentment. It is even easier to indicate, perhaps to exaggerate, the barriers that block the way to peace. But is there any of us in his heart of hearts, is there any man on these Benches who does not realise that by overcoming these barriers, by opening out that road, that by that way only can you remove this reproach to our statesmanship and this danger to our Empire? Every consideration of policy and of honour recommends that to us as our supreme duty, which, if we see and realise the signs of the times, we are bound, amidst all discouragements—and I agree they are many and pofound—to prosecute by our traditions, by our interests, and, still more, by our national conscience.
I want, first, to say to the House that all those wounded officers whose murder was attempted on Sunday last are progressing favourably. I want, secondly, to say to the House that the monstrous allegation made yesterday—I have no doubt based on some newspaper report—that a boy of 10 was bayonetted in Dublin is untrue.
In the Resolution moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), I am glad to welcome the sentence which condemns the outrages against the forces of the Crown and civilians in Ireland. That condemnation has not been so conspicuous in some of the speeches in this House as I should have liked to see, and I am convinced that, unless emphasis is put upon the murder of the Forces of the Crown, and of the civilians who support them, every speech made is an encouragement to assassination. That is not only my opinion; it is the opinion of the soldiers and of the police speaking through their senior officers. I hope, therefore, that, whatever criticisms may be urged against the Government for its policy or for the faults of the Government, emphasis will always be put upon this provocation, the cessation of which means that Ireland automatically becomes peaceful. From the speech of the right hon. Gentleman one would think that policemen and soldiers were going about Ireland in motor cars burning and slaying. In two-thirds, or nearly three-fourths of Ireland, there is as great peace as there is in the county of Kent.
There are troops in every county in Ireland The point is—and it bears out what the right hon. Gentleman has just said—that the vest majority of the people of Ireland are not in favour of murder. They want peace. They are getting peace, and they are getting peace because the Forces of the Crown are breaking the terror which prevents them from becoming articulate. I resent the suggestion that all the Irish people are at war with the Forces of the Crown. That is not true. The majority are on the best of terms with the soldiers and police, but, there is a minority of extremists that murder, that assassinate, that burn, that steal uniforms and commit outrages, and inspire questions in this House—
The right hon. Gentleman is speaking to us here under the shadow of a great conspiracy based on Ireland to smash the British Empire. At this moment we are meeting under the gloom of the massacre in Ireland of unarmed and largely non-combatant British officers on Sunday last. This massacre marks one of the most horrible tragedies in the history of Ireland or of the world. What is the right hon. Gentleman's solution for this conspiracy of assassination—this daily murder of our brave men in Ireland? He has no solution, and there can be no solution in dealing with assassination except to arrest and punish the assassins.
Every Member of this House knows that the consequential outrages that follow from a state of civil war such as exists in Ireland are not outrages for which this Government or any Government has responsibility. The responsibility is on the shoulders of those who, by a method of murder, are attempting to set up an independent Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about "tainted sources." Yes, there are tainted sources, and I will give some of them.
The murder gang in Ireland issues when it can—because all its issues are illegal—a docu- ment known as the "Irish Republican Bulletin." The murder gang sends that bulletin to persons in England and to newspapers in England, and some of them publish it. What amazes me is that the London Liberal Federation has actually used that "Irish Republican Bulletin" to base on it charges of so-called reprisals, and circulated it among the Liberals of London without any comment except "Display this prominently wherever you can." And the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) is President of that Federation!
My point is that that murder gang's publication should not be the foundation for any literature for any Member of this House or any member of the public, and the charges of reprisals should not be published or taken seriously unless the preceding circumstances and the facts of every case are printed also, so that anyone who reads can understand the circumstances of all the cases. I will deal with some of the cases mentioned in the hideous and monstrous falsehoods contained in this list of reprisals issued by the murder gang themselves. They have their representative in the Lobby of this House, and he may be in the Gallery now listening to this Debate.
I consider it a loathsome alliance for men whose hands are red with the blood of our gallant soldiers and policemen to come into the Lobby of this House, and be allowed to circulate their hideous documents of falsehoods
I am trying to bring vividly before this House some of the realities of the Irish situation. [An HON. MEMBER: "From your imagination."] I repeat that an organ, prohibited by law, which is used as the basis of propaganda and news paper reports, and in which His Majesty's Government is condemned out of the mouths of those responsible for the murder campaign in Ireland, is not a document or propaganda that ought to be tolerated here. I say it is a tainted source. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Mr. Russell as an authority on the state of Ireland. In Ireland Mr. Russell is looked upon as an extreme Sinn Feiner.
I am giving the Irish Government's view of that gentleman. I do not therefore look upon his opinion as worth the weight attributed to it by the right hon Gentleman. I do not look upon the opinions of certain American correspondents who, enjoying the hospitality of the murder gang itself in Ireland, traversed that country and sent their newspaper matter to America to weaken the Anglo-American friendship that happily exists, and to do their best to condemn the British Empire. I could name newspapers that are printing the most poisonous falsehoods conceivable. But the last election in America, I think, was a decisive response to those who tried to make the Irish question predominant in American politics rather than the question of Anglo-American friendship. Far be it from me to con- demn any newspaper in this country or in Ireland for expressing views that I think are both false and unfair. But in some newspapers there is no denying the fact that there is a vendetta waged against the Government on the ground of reprisals, and until quite recently, with little comment indeed to the scores of murders that preceded them. One of my chief complaints against the right hon. Member for Paisley is this: that before he raised this question of reprisals in the House, or before anybody did so, or before Motions for Adjournment were put down to consider the situation in Ireland, there were nearly 100 policemen murdered and 146 wounded, there were something like 20 military killed and 64 wounded, and all that was forgotten or, if not forgotten, was not considered of sufficient substance on which to raise Debates in this House.
I agree, two men murdered, following the brutal murder of a district inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Then this question of Irish reprisals became a question for certain newspapers, and it now forms the basis of a campaign in the country. I welcome this and every Debate in order to make it clear to the House and the country, as far as I can, the real facts of the Irish situation. Let us take the question of reprisals on creameries. First let us see the matter in proportion. The total number of creameries in Ireland is 710. The total number alleged to be damaged or destroyed is 41. The total number alleged to be totally destroyed is 10. The number damaged and unable to work without repairs and renewals (a good deal of which has already been accomplished) is 16. The number slightly damaged, 8; and the number damaged, but able to resume work at once, 7.
It is simply untrue. The creamery in Ireland is one of the most beneficent institutions in that country. It is the rendezvous from eight till eleven every morning every day in the week except Sundays during the summer time and three days in the week in winter time, very often of from 200 to 300 farmers and their sons in the locality. These creameries are sometimes the rendezvous of the Republican Army, from which orders to the local brigade are issued. One in particular has been actually an ambush for the destruction of the police. Many of them have been suspected by the police of having been the very centre of the plots now waged against them.
The right hon. Gentleman rather twitted me—very courteously in the House of Commons, and not with that robustuous ardour which became the convivial meeting at the National Liberal Club on Friday last—he rather twitted me with this, namely, that in a previous Debate in this House in October I said I had not a tittle of evidence of any creamery having been destroyed by the uniformed forces of the Crown. He said there were documents in Dublin Castle which showed that someone had said that certain of these creameries had been destroyed by uniformed forces of the Crown. I do not complain of that. I had not seen these documents when I spoke. Since that speech I have gone into the question, and undoubtedly—I will admit it here at once—some creameries have been destroyed by the forces of the Crown. In some cases they were justified in the destruction. In the cases that were justified there will be no compensation paid by the House of Commons if I have my way. In those cases where the destruction was not justified they will have my most sympathetic consideration on the question of compensation. I do not think I can go further than that. I think it is a per fectly fair statement. Let me come to the case of the creamery destroyed at Bally-macelligott, County Kerry. Here, happily, we can check the evidence printed in a paper that gives a certain qualified support to the right hon. Gentleman. That evidence can be checked by officers of the Auxiliary Division who were in the attack, and it happened, also, that a very gallant officer from my own office was present, in addition to two journalists and two photographers.
Let me give the story. It gives an idea of the facts of these creamery cases. They are not always innocent institutions, allied with gaily caparisoned dairy maids, spreading beneficient light and humour in the neighbourhood. They are sometimes the headquarters of the assassins, and I would advise the champions of creameries to go through their lists of managers and assistant managers, for I can assure the House that if there is one creamery in Ireland which is the rendezvous of the Irish Republican Army, or one manager who is a member of that Army, that manager and that creamery are in peril. No premises in Ireland that are the centre of this murder gang, or from which our forces are fired at, are safe in Ireland to-day, and I think that is a reasonable position. At Ballymacelligott, in Kerry, a number of policemen were fired at on the morning of the 12th November from the creamery. They attacked the creamery, wounded one or two men, and killed one or two men. On the afternoon of the same day along comes this party of journalists and photographers, escorted by Auxiliary Division men, to the total number of 16. As they came near the creamery, which was within 20 yards of the road I am told, dozens of rifle shots rang out. There was an ambush. The trench part of the ambuscade is still there. These men got out of their cars, attacked the attackers, killed several, wounded several, and captured several others. They were fired at from the creamery, they were fired at from the manager's house of the creamery.
That is not the end of the story. Those who formed the ambush got reinforcements and came back, and towards five o'clock in the evening the police retired to Castle Island for reinforcements. They came back next morning, and went into the creamery. They found a number of spent cartridges in it, they knew they had been fired at from it, and I say, as an act of war, they were justified in burning a portion of it down. It was within 20 yards of a road along which policemen had to patrol frequently every day. It was the centre of an ambush. More than that, I have looked up the record of the manager of this creamery. He was a rebel in 1916, and under the premiership of the right hon. Gentleman was sent to gaol for nearly a year. He is the organiser of all raids in that neighbourhood.
Yes, of course we have arrested him, and scores of others in the same neighbourhood. These Auxiliary Division men went to the manager's house, knowing his record and knowing they had been fired at from the house; but they found a wounded Sinn Feiner inside, and naturally, being chivalrous British soldiers, they did not touch the house, but left it over the head of the wounded Sinn Feiner. These are the men called "wilful murderers" at the National Liberal Club by the right hon. Gentleman. [An HON. MEMBER: "Disgraceful!"] I say they were entitled to do what they did. There was no indiscriminate firing or burning. It was done deliberately to prevent a future ambush at the same spot. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Why not prevent reprisals, or why not punish those who make them? I am doing my best, and have done from the start, to prevent reprisals, and I have succeeded. In Dublin on Sunday last 14 of your kinsmen were murdered in cold blood, and there has not been a pane of glass broken in that place, not a pane of glass!
In that great capital city of the sister Kingdom you have thousands of troops, over 1,000 of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, 500 or 600 Royal Irish Constabulary, 500 of what are commonly called "Black and Tans," but who are ex-service men, and the cream of the ex-service men, and four or five hundred Auxiliary Division men—every one an ex-officer, and most of them having decorations for valour. That is a mixed force. The Auxiliary Division found one of its members with his arms trussed up behind him, tied together, who had been brutally murdered, and drowned in the river Liffey. There was no reprisal! How many of us could have stood the strain as well? Who is there to punish in Dublin? He wants punishment for reprisals, but who is to be punished? There is. no case in the history of our Empire, with all its stress and struggle, in which discipline has been so sternly maintained under such frightful provocation. It is when you get a murder in the far West of Ireland, from which a correspondent can send the news that suits his paper—[HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Yes, that is the usual case on which a reprisal charge is founded.
Here, in the capital city of Dublin, within a few hours of us, with the largest body of troops and police in any part of Ireland, we have had a test of discipline of which I should have thought every Member of this House would have been proud. I say we are stopping these reprisals, such as they have been. And what are they? I am going to read the House just one case, giving first the provocation, and secondly an example of the discipline and command of the officers over the British soldiers and police. It is only one of many cases, for these frightful tragedies have evoked a heroism, a spirit of sacrifice and of courage, which I think reflects the greatest credit on the race to which we all belong, and with Irishmen themselves, who are the principal sufferers in these matters, you find a heroism and a sacrifice that I do not think the House always appreciates. Here is an official statement about Lieutenant Hambleton, of the Northampton Regiment. I will read it as I have it:
The men all crowded round and some of them shouted, 'Thank God, he is still alive.' Mr. Hambleton was unconscious and was lying on his back, with his feet towards Templemore, lying parallel to the road. I could see that his right arm was nearly blown off, but it was too dark to see any wounds. I noticed that the grass was trampled down round the body as if he had been rolling about. He was covered in blood. The district inspector and sergeants cut the clothing away from his arm, and started to bind him up. The wound was just above the elbow and the forearm was hanging by sinews only. We had a lamp to see by. Five or six of the men collapsed and fell down crying. Some of them said, 'This is the best officer we have ever had and we are not going to have him killed for nothing.' Others were muttering among
themselves. I collected the 16 men who had come in the three-ton lorry. After explaining how they started back the officer continued, 'As I got near the police barracks in Nenagh, four policemen shouted out something which I did not hear and a few seconds later several men started firing from the back of the lorry and everyone was shouting "Rapid fire." I climbed round into the back of the lorry as it was going and shouted "Cease fire." The men were absolutely mad and took no notice of me, except to shout "Rapid fire." None of them molested me. I then stopped the lorry and as they were still firing I fired two shots over their heads with my revolver, at the same time shouting to them to "cease fire" or I would shoot them. The firing then stopped. On arrival at the barracks I got another party of four men to carry the body over to the hospital, which is in barracks. The doctor followed them. All the men in barracks rushed up to know if he was dead. They were all crying and were so upset they had difficulty in carrying him. By this time his jacket had been cut open by the doctor and the wounds were visible. They were all blackened. He had been murdered at very close range. Then the men became mad.'
Realise what had happened. That officer was one of the most popular officers in the battalion. His men loved him. They would have shot and killed and have burned the town of Nenagh to the ground, and there are many men who would say they would have been justified. I do not. That officer held them with his revolver, and brought them into the barracks, and nothing was done beyond the breaking of a few windows.
Sir H. GREENWOD:
Yes, nothing was done but the breaking of a few windows. I admit afterwards a creamery was burned. I am giving the case on the day. I am dealing with the struggle, and the successful struggle, that British officers bad in keeping discipline under inhuman circumstances. That is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that we are not trying to prevent reprisals. There is not one single authenticated case of anything called a reprisal taking place under an officer. Let us be clear on that point. The Commander-in-Chief and myself have issued the most drastic instructions.
Granard was not done under officers. It is in very great doubt yet as to who did it. When you have Sinn Feiners stealing uniforms, and when the supposedly popular cry—I think it is not—the supposedly popular cry against the Government is "Reprisals," it pays Sinn Feiners to burn a house or a creamery. It is the one thing the Opposition press against the Government. I say there is no policy of reprisal. We are preventing reprisals, and we have punished—I regret the necessity for it profoundly—a number of policemen and soldiers who have forgotten themselves. I cannot give the number offhand, but if the right hon. Gentleman or his Friends will put down a question I shall be pleased to answer it. That is a catastrophe.
My criticism of the right hon. Gentleman is this: As the ex-Prime Minister of this country, what he says carries with it an effect that I do not think he himself realises. Therefore anything that he says in this House or in the country which does not emphasise our united condemnation of assassination is quoted in Sinn Fein and extreme newspapers in Ireland as an encouragement to the assassins. He has not done anything yet to assist the police or the soldiers in their difficulties. None of his words—and no one is more powerful in eloquence of condemnation or compliment than he is if he wishes—none of his words have helped them. After all, they are the servants of this House. No one in our history, in my opinion, has had greater opportunities to heal this sore of Ireland than the right hon. Gentleman had in his day. I must say that, in the period during which he was Prime Minister, the Royal Irish Constabulary shrank in numbers.
I always think that the rebellion of 1916 was the greatest crime in modern history. The Royal Irish Constabulary shrank in numbers. Their Secret Service disappeared. They were armed with an old-fashioned carbine dated 1895. Not one in four had a revolver. They had not any motor cars, nor any of those modern appliances that make police work effective in a country like the Western part of Ireland, where it is most needed.
More than that, the force was disheartened. It was under- paid and poorly pensioned. When I went to Ireland, my first duty was to revive the morale of that force, to re-arm it, to re-house it—
It may be a laughing matter for hon. Gentlemen opposite; it is assassination for the constables whom I am discussing. I never see anything to laugh at in the condition of Ireland. Because the Royal Irish Constabulary, who helped to save this country during the rebellion of 1916, have been reinforced in numbers, re-armed, given motor transport, supplied with revolvers, supplied with Mills bombs, wireless apparatus, and all the appliances of modern police work, they are becoming every day more effective. It is true that more are being murdered. That is because we are asserting the authority of the Crown. One of the methods adopted for heartening this force was to issue the "Weekly Summary." In remote parts of Ireland they never could see a newspaper, except the paper that condemned them, made light of them, humiliated them. I took it upon myself to issue this "Weekly Summary." It costs £15 or £20 a week, and when my Vote comes up, the House will have an opportunity of deciding upon it. I cannot read every paragraph in the papers, because my mind and what energy I have is not directed to creameries, or haystacks, or the "Weekly Summary," but to the protection of the lives of the 41,000 soldiers and 12,000 policemen who represent the forces of the Crown.
Yes, in the interests of the people of Ireland. I do not want to delay the House, but I should like to go into certain other matters in order to bring before the House and the country the real issue—not the debating issue, not the propaganda issue, but the real issue—namely, the organisation of this conspiracy in Ireland, subsidised by foreign money, which has as its object the smashing of the British Empire. Recently we captured some of the intimate dispatches of a man who calls himself the Commander-in-Chief, and another who calls himself the Chief of the Staff of the Irish Republican Army. We found from these dispatches that over £7,500 had been spent in wages in organising the headquarters staff of the Irish Republican Army between 10th July and 30th September last. That is the centre of the murder gang; that is where the money comes from to pay for assassination.
If I might use the hideous language of a police report, some of that money is used in paying "£100 a skull" for policemen or soldiers. The Sinn Fein movement, in its Irish Republican Army stage, is spreading to this country. It has its own areas, its own commandants, its own soldiers in this country. We have discovered transfer forms which transfer volunteers from Ireland to Scotland, from Ireland to Wales, from Ireland to England, and track is kept of them. A sum of £3,500 was spent recently in Scotland, principally in Glasgow, for buying arms for assassins in Ireland, and for paying the wages of those men. We have discovered specific instructions issued to brigades for the manufacture of certain high explosives to be used in bombs and for destructive work. I have here—and I shall give quotations from them, though I cannot read them in detail—two plans which we have discovered for the destruction of certain power houses in Manchester and for the destruction of docks in Liverpool. Here is a memorandum "re Stuart Street Power House, Manchester":
This place is worked by three shifts. …. The best day for an operation would be Sunday. … as there is a minimum number of men working in the station. This place is undoubtedly of great importance, not only in connection with the tramways, but also with the coal mines in the vicinity. I attach herewith a sketch plan showing the lay-out of the place. The principal points to be attacked are 10 turbines in the engine room, 10 balancers, the switchboard and the large marine-type engine.
Then follow the most meticulous details of how they are to go to work. Later on the plan of operations is given as follows:
An officer would be appointed to take charge of 30 men who would be used as a guard to prevent anyone leaving or signalling from the building.
Engine Room.—Two men with sledges, paraffin oil and waste, will make their way to each turbine. Ten men will make their
way to the balancers in front of the switchboard. Each man will have a sledge. Some men will have to bring in oil and waste. This will be prepared beforehand in petrol tins, so that it will not be difficult for the men to carry. Pour men will make for the switchboard with 47-lb. hammers. …
Other men will do something else, and so on. It is a very carefully prepared plan for the smashing of that power house. I am going to issue the whole of these documents to the Press this evening, and the House will, therefore, excuse me from reading them in further detail. I should like, however, to read a paragraph or two of the Liverpool plan:
…. It will of course be impossible to make a clean sweep of the whole line of docks. If men and material are available a large amount of work can be done, but the amount to be done must be regulated by these conditions. I submit a scheme for dealing with 21 points. This scheme involves the use of 800 lbs. of 'g'"—that is to say, gelignite—"23 engineers, 75 rank and file and about 20 others, 98 revolvers.
Then follows a most careful plan, with maps and arrangements for tackling the different dock gates, the number of men with sledge hammers, explosives and revolvers. I consider this to be much more important than the destruction of a creamery.
After the experience of Sunday, how anyone can suggest that the Irish Republican Army is incapable of tackling Manchester and Liverpool docks or power houses, passes my understanding. I claim that we are succeeding in our Irish policy. I regret the bloodshed. There will be more. No one regrets it more than I do.
I am now going to read some extracts from other documents captured in the same place, from two senior officers of the Irish Republican Army:
I enclose you a copy of a letter which I have sent to the Battalion Commandant, the Local Company Captain and a couple of other volunteer officers. I may say, as a foreword to this, that most of these officers agree with my view point, and feel they have not sufficient arms or ammunition to make any stand. … You will see that the possibilities for a fight for more than ten minutes do not exist. I take it that if we once strike we will be struck back in
a much more damaging fashion, and owing to lack of arms and ammunition we will not be able to retort. The result will be the vanishing of the volunteer force as a threat to the enemy, and the enemy will ride roughshod over the district. … The moment we rush matters we will show our weakness, and the end will be disaster. Most of the officers realise this, as do also the rank and file, but they have not the moral courage to make their opinions known, fearing to be dubbed cowards. … It must be evident to you and others that the enemy have discovered a very effective moans of retaliating, and eventually disrupting the movement from stem to stern. … I feel strongly on this matter, and cannot agree to be responsible in any way for a policy that will lead to disaster. Under these circumstances, if my views are not acceptable, please accept my resignation, and I will arrange to have a statement of accounts and all funds on hand transferred within a few weeks from now. …
This is a letter from one of the leading members of the murder gang in the southern part of Ireland. It goes on:
Strike at the leading figures on the enemy side everywhere, but especially in England itself. …. I hold that it is the directing minds of the English Government that should be struck at, and those that direct operations for them in this country. ….
Let me read from another letter of a leading member of this gang:
Discussing the question with a great many different people of different position, I can notice a great falling off and loss of confidence, as if a kind of terror was slowly creeping in, and I fear if it continues it will gain strength, and any kind of settlement, such as Dominion Home Rule, will be accepted with readiness, and our hopes of a republic lost. …. There is a lot of disorganisation already setting in in some places. I hope it is not true, for if anything happens to disrupt the volunteers, all is lost.
I am doing my best to disrupt the volunteers. Here is an extract from another letter from another member of the murder gang:
The result of an unprovoked attack on the enemy forces will lead to reprisals—the burning of creameries and probably of private houses—and the introduction of a reign of terror and militarism in the districts. Under these conditions the whole organisation will be disrupted, and the end may be that many people will become definitely hostile to the volunteers. What has happened elsewhere will probably happen here. In Ballaghadereen, in Dungarvan, Arklow and many other places, the boycott of the police has had to be withdrawn, and the position in those places, especially in Arklow, is much worse than before anything occurred. The same truth applies to great areas in the counties of Limerick, Cork, Clare and the West of Ireland. If you are
determined on introducing similar conditions here, then go ahead, but for my part it shall not be said that I had any part in such work, playing as it will into the hands of our enemies.
That is the Members of this House, remember—
You cannot beat the reinforcements that will follow. The end will be no ammunition, no organisation, a reign of terror from the enemy side, ill-feeling on the part of the people who are bound to be victimised, and, with the multiplication of these things, chaos and defeat for the entire country.
This shows that we are succeeding in Ireland. I will read another quotation from another of the assassins:
As far as I can learn there seems to be a certain mix-up about the order sent from Headquarters. In some places the order is that the Black-and-Tans are to be attacked. In your case it is stated that there is to be attacks on military patrols. I can tell you that in many battalion areas in this county and outside it these orders cannot and will not be obeyed.
Here is another. I have a limited respect for this officer of the Irish Republican Army, who says:
I was in Easter week in a good stand-up fight against the enemy, but I am certainly not in agreement with these ambushes. To be quite candid, it looks too much like murder to my mind.
Then his glimmering sense of justice is reinforced by this statement:
And more important, the enemy have taken steps to counter it effectively. I believe that if you carry out this contemplated action, and if it is carried out generally elsewhere, it will play directly into the hands of the enemy, and this is not my opinion alone, but that of most other thoughtful Irishmen.
I could read any number of quotations of that kind from men engaged in this murder business who are sick of it themselves, and who know that their country is sick of it, who believe it is failing, as it is doomed to fail; for you cannot defeat the British Empire by an army of assassins in Ireland, however large. My own view is that there will be more bloodshed, there will be tragical murders of servants of this House, and no one knows on whom the blow may fall next, but I want the House, whatever its attacks may be on me—and it is perfectly entitled to attack me—to show every consideration, by word and by resolution in the country and in this House, for these policemen, soldiers, Civil Servants, judges, resident magistrates, and court-martial officers who obey the behests and orders of this House of Commons. They are fighting a
battle against assassins and not against the Irish people Many of them are Irishmen. Most of the Royal Irish Constabulary are Roman Catholics and Irishmen themselves—I think the flower of that race. We will win, for I myself cannot imagine the people of this Imperial country submitting or giving in one jot to the demands of assassins in Ireland. But we can win the more quickly if the great Roman Catholic Church in Ireland will help us more than it has done. I never myself say one word against that or any other denomination. To me all are the same. But over three-fourths of Ireland the Roman Catholic hierarchy have spiritual and ecclesiastical control. I regret to say that more than twelve Royal Irish Constables have been murdered either going into or leaving church. One was murdered leaving a Protestant church in Lisburn. The way to the house of God in Ireland is no longer sanctuary. It may be a death trap. It has been a death-trap. My appeal to the hierarchy would be to come out and condemn this murder business—
With the same zeal with which they fought conscription. Some of them have come out. Some of the most courageous men in Ireland today are Roman Catholic prelates and priests. They are always present to bring the last consolation of religion, whether it be to dying Sinn Feiners or dying policemen or dying soldiers; but as a hierarchy they have not taken the stand in this matter that I say they did take when they united to oppose conscription in Ireland in the middle of our greatest difficulty. Here is one way in which they can help. I should like them to make an appeal from every pulpit to those members of their congregation who carry arms to surrender them to the priests. That would be one way of showing that they were on the side of peace and not on the side of the arms of war. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) talked about public opinion. In many parts of Ireland public opinion is being freed from the terror of the gunmen and is becoming articulate; but what is the use of talking about public opinion if there is a Sinn Feiner gunman on the street or round the corner? You cannot help public opinion in a country that is controlled by assassins, and in certain counties in the West of Ireland parts of them are still controlled by assassins. It is the duty of this Government to break that terror and make it possible for public opinion to become articulate. We are doing it. We should be traitors, to my mind, to ourselves and to Ireland, if we hesitated for a moment in our stern plan of stamping out this campaign of assassination in Ireland.
I would ask the Press and this House and the country to try to realise the difficulties of the servants of the Crown in Ireland and to refuse to have any connection with any body of Irishmen that does not stand up and condemn these outrages. Up to the present not one of the Sinn Fein leaders has condemned a single murder of a policeman or soldier—not one. I was glad to see in the resolution of the Labour party passed the other day that they emphasised that fact. I agree with it. Why do they not condemn these murders? Because those who are called the intellectual leaders of Sinn Fein are leaders in name only.
The controllers of the Sinn Fein movement are the organisers of the assassination of last Sunday. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who are they?"] We know their names. They are on the run. Three of them were shot dead in Dublin Castle yesterday. It is because the intellectual leaders of the Sinn Fein movement dare not speak, for fear of assassination, that we are trying to put down assassination, and we need the help of this House and the country in doing it. There is one thing I can hardly speak of with patience, and that is when hon. Members of the House, or newspapers outside, talk about the Irish policy of His Majesty's Government evoking the condemnation of the civilised world. I want to know what other country would be as patient, and I want to know what other soldiery or police would submit to the stern discipline to which they now submit to under such provocation. There is no country which has the record this Empire has in dealing with crime such as we have in Ireland.
I am pressed every day to ask the House to pass a law to enable the police or military to shoot on arrest everyone found with arms in his hands. I do not want to do that if I can possibly avoid it, but I know no other country which would arrest and try people, as we are trying them in Ireland, who are found with arms in their hands at the very moment their victim is going through the agony of his last breath. We are succeeding. The Sinn Fein Court has disappeared, except in back rooms, where it is held for the purpose of propaganda, especially in the American Press. The boycott is broken, and its ugly sister, intimidation, is going. The hunger strike is done. That was one of the pernicious legacies which was handed on to the Government. Whatever else I have done in Ireland, I have been a party to the smashing of the hunger strike. That trick of the criminal to evade justice is gone. We have had no hunger striking for some months past. The Irish Republican Army is being broken up, as I have quoted evidence to show. The right hon. Gentleman talks about a clear front. I wish he would not break the front of this House and this country in facing this question of assassination. There is only one question left. Who is for Ireland and the Empire, or who is for the assassin?
I do not think there are many hon. Members who share the view of the Chief Secretary that Irish history began when he assumed office. It is a pleasure, I am sure, to every Member of the House to have heard from him that everything is to be done to put an end to reprisals as a policy. That announcement may be accepted in contrast with previous denials on the part of spokesmen of the Government that as a policy it was not being tried at all. The defence of the Chief Secretary rests on two grounds. He says in effect that rebels in Ireland are in a weak and shattered condition as a result of the policy which he has pursued, and the moment that statement is forgotten, the House is reminded how strong and how terrible are the forces in Ireland which he has arrayed against him. Irish history did not begin with the advent of the right hon. Gentleman to office nor with the rebellion of 1916. The complete loosening of any fabric of respect for the law which existed in Ireland began in 1913 and proceeded until 1914. Small wonder that later on the success which attended arming and drilling and effective military preparation should be imitated and even improved upon by those who were determined to show no respect for the law in that country.
Members of this House who have for many years listened to Irish debates and taken part in them, and have read of those which took place not merely for a few years or a generation past, but for a century, cannot look upon this problem as one which has suddenly arisen and which now will be settled and disposed of by the same method which so far has failed in every other period of Irish history, the method of applying force. I do not care to pursue the line of argument so commonly used by the Chief Secretary in the course of his speech of saying, for instance, that after all only a few creameries have been destroyed, because look at the total number of creameries. There are some 700 creameries, and only a miserable dozen or so have been razed to the ground. If we took the side imputed to us by the Chief Secretary, the side of sympathising in any sense with those who are committing these abhorrent crimes in Ireland, these murders, we would say, "There are 12,000 policemen in Ireland, and only some dozen or so, or at most some hundred have been assassinated." That is not the way to look at these questions. I gather from the Chief Secretary that his case is that the creameries have been the resort of the rebels, the combatant forces of the illegal army. They are located; they are known under their names. Indeed, he has got their documents, but he does not proceed to arrest them. I am putting the case as I understood it—in spite of the limitless resources which he has in men, gunnery, money, military and police, and machinery of every kind. In spite of the absence of limits to his resources of arresting, trying, and punishing, he does not do that. He burns down creameries, or, at any rate, he excuses the burning down of creameries which he says has occurred because they were the resort of the rebels, and those who were about to violate the law.
On behalf of those for whom I can speak on this side, I want to protest in the strongest terms against the Chief Secretary's assumption that we and those who act with us on this question are slow in the condemnation of those who are committing these crimes and atrocities in Ireland. Repeatedly, in speech and resolution, in our party meetings in the country, on platforms, in conference and debate of every kind we have, since these crimes began in Ireland, we have denounced them in the strongest manner, and to allege that we hold these crimes in less abhorrence than do members of the Government, is to impute to those of us on this side of the House something which is absolutely undeserved. This is not a question of different degrees of abhorrence of crime. It is a question of policy, and it is because we see the failure of the Government policy, so far as there has been a policy, not merely by this Government, but by every Government responsible for law in Ireland, that we must denounce the policy now pursued as certain to fail once more in this pitiful trail of Irish history. In denouncing the Government, in asking them to reverse their policy, and withdraw these forces that are futile for good, we suggest an alternative. We ought not to be, therefore, denounced as even inferentially or by any kind of reserve being in the least in sympathy with those who are the victims of the policy which the Government are pursuing.
I recollect that in August of this year we had the same sort of speech from the right hon. Gentleman that we have had this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman then showed us by his accumulated facts how completely he was hemming in and destroying those who were committing murders and were guilty of other breaches of the law in Ireland, and he asked that his hand should be strengthened, and further powers were given by a very large majority of this House. Is it not clear to us all now that with those further powers the position in Ireland is twice as bad, indeed ten times as bad as it was when he asked for these increased powers in August? And the further you proceed by this method, the more you fail, and I want on that account to ask not merely the Chief Secretary but the Prime Minister, who approves of the statements which the Chief Secretary has made, that the vast majority of the Irish people have no sympathy with murder, why then cannot you trust the vast majority of the Irish people to deal with this problem, to put an end to crime and assassination in Ireland? If it be that the vast majority of the Irish people are in a state of terror, as is alleged, because of these crimes, why not meet the demand of the vast majority, and throw upon the Irish people as a whole the responsibility of putting an end to crime, and making a new page in Irish history.
The choice between us is that of trusting the Irish people to solve their own affairs, and to become responsible for the use of the instrument of the law in Ireland, and to produce for law there as elsewhere the same reverence and respect which can only be induced and bred when they are responsible for the law in Ireland and its general application. I ask them how is it that the vast majority of people cannot be trusted, and the Government falls back on the plan which in all tradition and history has so far failed, the plan of applying superior brute force to those who were provoked to use brute force in the first instance. The vast majority of the people of Ireland are deeply disgusted with the methods of the Government. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the people are also deeply disgusted with the conduct of the criminals, but I doubt whether their disgust is greater than the disgust entailed by the policy of the Government, and nothing is being done to produce in Ireland that respect for law upon which alone law can be maintained.
There is evidence that in this country the reverence which we had for law is being diminished. There are many forces at work indicating that the Government's formal sanction of illegalities and lawlessness is likely further to undermine the pillars which maintain the law in this country, and Members of this House of all kinds should feel that the surest way of maintaining respect for the law is by making the law rest upon the goodwill of the people themselves. Where so many of his predecessors have failed, I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman not to entertain the delusion that he, by these methods, can succeed. I judge that he is wholly satisfied with the results of his policy. I rather think that if he reads his speech to-morrow he will find that that very phrase was used by himself in the course of his remarks. Neither he nor any other person, however full of physical courage, can succeed by these methods. It is true that these methods, if pursued with the utmost ruthlessness, can succeed to the point of putting down crime. But you have done nothing then in relation to the Irish problem. You can put down crime now in a day by changing your policy, not with shootings, burning down creameries, murdering innocent people, as clearly the law has murdered innocent people, and not with the destruction of property. You can put an end to this painful Irish situation by throwing responsibility for Irish government upon the vast majority of the Irish people who, it is admitted, have no sympathy with the criminals.
If there be a dispute as to the facts as to what line of policy the Government have pursued, let us have some answer to the question put earlier in this discussion by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith). There is a great deal of dispute about facts. If all the right or nearly all the right is on the side of the law and those who are responsible for it, if it be that we are not correct in our criticism of the Government, why do the Government even yet persist in refusing that effective and impartial inquiry which we have so long demanded? If we cannot be agreed as to rights, let us at any rate have agreement as to facts where the facts are revealed. It will not do for the Chief Secretary to ask us to rely upon the documents which daily he reads to us, supplied to him, of course, by those who personally are incriminated. What other sort of reports does he expect? He wires to Dublin Castle; the agents of the Government at Dublin Castle obtain the information, I presume, as directly as they can, from the persons who are impugned in these various charges. The House of Commons surely ought not so completely to forfeit its right to impartial information and to the facts of the case as to trust to these official recitals daily given to us. We press, then, the necessity for some process of independent inquiry.
In this pitiful Irish business we have had in the past few months an array of phrases to clothe the gospel of force, but the strength of the right hon. Gentleman's phrases and the collection of his forces will not be enough. When he and we are gone, if this line of treatment of Ireland is continued, the problem will remain for others to handle in a more accentuated form. That is why no idea of party capital or of mere debating gain should enter into the minds of those who have read something of Irish history and know something of the causes of Irish crime. What would the Chief Secretary have said if throughout the last century Canada had been treated as Ireland has been treated? What could we expect to see in Canada now if the Canadians within the Empire were being treated as the vast majority of Irishmen are being treated? There is no difference in nature between the one and the other, and it is not true that there is any extra dose of original sin in the case of the Irishman. Unhappily for Ireland she is geographically too near this country and for that she is made to suffer. Her national rights are denied, a recurring system of coercion, absolutely futile and achieving nothing, is adopted, leaving the country in a still more angry and embittered frame of mind than ever. Force, and fine phrases to justify that force, are not Government. They will not raise the credit of the kingdom in any part of the world.
I marvel at the light-hearted way in which the Chief Secretary reproved the journalists of this and other countries. What purpose can these men have to serve other than that of going to Ireland and reporting the facts that they see? Is there any journalist representing a newspaper on the side of the Government who could materially dispute, or who has attempted to disprove, any of these statements made by representatives of papers which happen to be opposed to the Government? The fact that these crimes have taken place, that civilians have been killed, that property has been destroyed and burned, has attracted to Ireland correspondents from various parts of the world, and, without wishing to do any damage to our reputation or the level of our credit, these men have told the truth. Some of them, unhappily, have had to risk their lives in doing so. If it is true, as is alleged that these journalists have exaggerated, that they have some partisan and unworthy motive, and want to undermine our position in America or elsewhere, again I ask, why is it that this so-called strong case for truth on the part of the Government is not put to the test of impartial and effective inquiry? When the Chief Secretary had finished his speech I was amazed to find that he had left the matter where he did. Surely the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) did, in temperate and forceful terms, raise great issues and picture facts which have not been disturbed. My right hon. Friend made an appeal It has fallen upon deaf ears.
I am not going to detain the House by labouring the case as we see it, but before the Chief Secretary leaves I would like him to hear what in our view is the position which has been created. This method of Government, for which not he alone is responsible, but for which he now is more personally responsible than anyone else, has reduced government in Ireland to a mere affair of competition in murder, of two sides each in turn destroying life and property in the pursuit of what they conceive to be their just and proper purposes. That is the problem which this method of mismanagement has produced for us, and it will be solved only when the vast majority of the Irish people, who revere the law when it is made there as it is made in other countries, are held responsible for Irish law and for future Irish government.
The Chief Secretary has this afternoon adopted one of his most appealing rôoles in this House. He appeared before us as the saviour and protector of those troops whom his policy in Ireland has placed in a peculiarly precarious and terrible position. He seemed to be sublimely oblivious of one of the strongest charges levelled against his administration, namely, that the gross inefficiency of that administration has been largely responsible for the death of many of these gallant men. Take as one instance the dastardly and terrible outrage on Sunday last, which resulted in the death of fourteen officers of the Crown. Those officers were sleeping all over Dublin, in hotels and in lodgings, and not one of them appears to have been in possession of a revolver with which to defend himself. To place men in such a position, to allow them to sleep in the heart of a hostile city alone and unprotected, is courting disaster and the death of these gallant men. In face of that record, the right hon. Gentleman has no right to come here and charge any hon. Member with making attacks on the soldiers. To take another point it was elicited by question and answer that about ninety successful attacks had been made upon police and troops travelling in Ireland in open lorries; that is, before the elementary precaution was taken by the Government of protecting lorries with armoured shields that would resist bullets.
The right hon. Gentleman, whenever assailed on the subject of his tactical disposition in Ireland, hides behind the gallant officers in command. I am sure he will not consciously adopt that atti- tude, but will be prepared to state in this House, firstly, why these officers were allowed to be exposed in Dublin in a manner which resulted in their murder;and, secondly, why these open lorries, carrying troops and police, have been despatched over the roads of Ireland. One of the most potent charges against the Government is that the inefficiency of the administration has resulted in the slaughter of many hundreds of our gallant officers and soldiers. Again, in the matter of reprisals, a subject which has been raised so eloquently by the right hon. Member for Paisley, it is the custom of the Chief Secretary to shelter himself behind the soldiers. No one, and least of all myself, would attack the soldiers. It is the Government whom we impugn in this matter. The Chief Secretary said this afternoon that he disapproved and regretted reprisals, but it is an ominous fact that the latter part of his speech was devoted almost entirely to justifying the system, and all the letters he read were intended to prove that the system of reprisals was succeeding. What a farce in the light of that speech to say that the Government disapproves the system of reprisals! The Chief Secretary claimed in a boastful manner that after Sunday last he had issued strong orders, which were successful in preventing any action by way of reprisals on the part of the troops. Does not that again prove that when he wants to stop reprisals he can do so? I wish only that he had taken those steps before, and thus saved the name of the country from the reproaches under which it now labours.
In the early days of this controversy certain speeches were made by spokesmen of the Government which slurred over entirely the difference between the right of a man to hit back and to defend himself against cowardly and dastardly attacks, and the right of men to revenge themselves for the sins of the guilty upon the heads of the innocent population of Ireland. It was those speeches of Ministers, the Carnarvon speech and others, which conveyed an absolute licence to the police and troops in Ireland to do what they liked. It is those speeches alone, and not the soldiers, that are responsible for the state of affairs in Ireland. In the light of those speeches no one can blame the soldiers or the police, or a very small section of them, for being guilty of these things. I do not want to see these men punished. It is not their fault. If you afford superior Government authority, the small minority that exists in any body of men, the black sheep who are to be found in all corporate bodies, of course take advantage of the licence afforded to them, and under the stress of great provocation commit the sins for which the Government of this country must assume responsibility. There is overwhelming evidence, from the former speeches of Ministers, from the evidence produced in this House and from the speech of the Chief Secretary this evening, that this policy of reprisals is a deliberate policy carried out by the Government with a deliberate purpose. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is not true!" "You cannot prove a word of it!"] The position of certain hon. Members appears to be, not to take part in a reasoned argument, but rather to serve the purpose of that intolerant organisation in this House which howls down any hon. Member whose views are not acceptable to the Treasury Bench. Hon. Gentlemen will have their opportunity in the course of the Debate of refuting any arguments which I now advance. I take the attitude that the Government and the Government alone are responsible for and have instigated these reprisals from the very commencement. Another point I wish to urge is that this policy of reprisals is entirely and absolutely ineffective in achieving the purpose which we all have at heart, namely, the bringing of these murderers to justice. The right hon. Gentleman himself told us that these murderers, these gunmen, never slept more than one night running in the same place. He says they are on the run, they sleep in the hills and in the bogs and creep down into the village to affect an assassination and then travel away under cover of night to some other part of the country. In the light of that position, which the right hon. Gentleman himself has described, what earthly purpose can be served by burning down houses and destroying the property of other people on the day after an outrage has occurred. The only effect it can conceivably have is to give these murderers the one thing they want, propaganda against this country all over the world. A village is partially burned, and houses and creameries, by the forces of the Crown, but what do the murder gang care, they are men with no fixed habitation and it does not affect them or their relations. The news of the reprisals is wired off to America and fresh funds are subscribed to their cause, and fresh encouragement is derived from foreign sources. It is obvious to any reasonable man that this policy of reprisals is not even intended to hit the murderer himself and I ask then what is the object?
I have no doubt when I conclude that the National Party will be prepared with one of its devastating replies. I have made no insinuation against the soldiers. My insinuation is against the Government, who are conniving at and recognising this policy of reprisals. I am not prepared to blame any soldier for anything that has taken place. I was addressing myself to the argument, what is the object of this policy of reprisal? It can only have one object. I was happy to hear the right hon. Gentleman admit that the vast mass of the population of Ireland generally is in no way concerned with these outrages. It is under the intimidation of a small gang of desperate men. It is so afraid of these men that it is unable, and dare not, betray the murderers when murder is committed. Is it not the object of the system of reprisals to render the population more frightened of the Government of this country than they are of the murder gang of Sinn Fein so that they may be forced to surrender the murderers? On logical grounds that, I submit, is the only conceivable object of this campaign. So we have launched a competition, a pretty competition, with the murder gang of Sinn Fein to render the population of Ireland more terrified of us than they are of the murderers in their midst. The Government propose that this system, this competition, shall be continued until that happy day when moderate opinion arises in Ireland and is prepared to accept the present Bill. Can any hon. Member of this House contemplate with equanimity Government competition with crime of this nature until that auspicious day when Irish opinion has been won to moderation?
I suggest we cannot continue in our present policy. That, at any rate, is impossible. One alternative remains. There is agreement with the vast mass of the Irish people compatible with the safety of this country and the aspirations of Irish nationality. I believe that was possible last summer for reasons that I will not now go into, but I am quite confident it is not possible at present. I submit, then, that the duty of this House and of this country is to discover some means whereby we may put an end to the present situation and, at the same time, secure the proper strategical safety of our own country. I submit that government in Ireland and the administration of our government has so hopelessly broken down that we must adopt some change or continue in a policy of despair. The only conceivable expedient which is now left to this country, as a result of our present policy, is the evacuation of the interior of Ireland and the holding of the ports on the coast. That, at any rate, provides this country with strategical safety and would save the lives of our troops and police who are exposed to this terror, this murder that walks by night.
My suggestion may be a counsel of despair, but I have yet to hear anything better from Government spokesmen. I have listened long and anxiously during the course of recent Debates for some hope to be held out from the Government Benches of any approaching pacification of Ireland and termination of the present condition. I submit that the present policy of the Government is calculated by its competition in terror merely to exacerbate the situation, and to perpetuate and increase the horror which to-day exists.
The Government has set in motion, forces and passions in order to achieve a temporary purpose, and fulfill a hazardous expedient, which may yet overwhelm, not only the creators, but the very stability and security of our country. In the opinion of many soldiers, as well as civilians, these specious excuses for lynch law, connoting as they do, the connivance of superior authority at the surrender of discipline, have gone far to undermine military discipline, which has successfully withstood the onslaught of five years war. Further, the Carnarvon speech, and its successors, with their deliberate obscuring of every true issue obliterated the narrow, but very sacred, line which divides justice from indiscriminate revenge. They tore into shreds the elaborate growth of the centuries, that sense of justice which separates man from the animal, in that it enables him to discriminate between the guilty and the innocent in exacting his retribution. As a consequence, we see to-day the Government of civilisation in Ireland, armed with all its resources, apparently devoid of its responsibilities, charging wildly like a wounded bull in the arena against the first mortal object that crosses its infuriated vision, whether innocent or guilty of the injuries that afflict it.
The substitution of frightfulness for efficiency has evoked against itself a frenzy of retaliation from the hitherto unscathed murder gangs of Sinn Fein, which achieved its culmination in the massacre of Sunday last. The lesson is that a great nation cannot successfully compete in terrorism with assassins who work by night. Let us recognise that we have lost in the catastrophic competition, and must start again on a new basis, to rebuild the efficiency of our civil administration, and restore our discipline. No Empire, no Government, has been long sustained except by the power of moral force, together with the impartial justice and beneficence of its ride. Our Empire stands alone, from the Imperial ruins of history, in its recognition of an obedience to this fundamental law. It is because I am a passionate believer in the destiny, and in the yet unfulfilled mission of British Empire, that I am unwilling to sacrifice the inviolate tradition of the ages even to satisfy the transient purpose of this gambler's expedient, which the Government offers us as their only solution of this terrible question.
I regret I forgot myself, and I apologies at once as fully as possible for referring to any hon. Member as swine. I withdraw the expression.
We have listened to an interesting speech which I am sure was delivered with great sincerity, a sincerity which moved men from the extreme back benches opposite to those on this side. The hon. Member (Mr. Mosley) concluded his speech by telling us that he was a passionate believer in the future of the British Empire, and, apparently, in order to reinforce that opinion he has suggested that we should retire before the assassins and murderers to the ports in Ireland, and leave the people there to the justice of the Irish Republican Army. I venture to think that the people of this country are not in the mood at present to consider any such question as that. When he asks me to refute his arguments, may I say without offence that his speech had more of assertion than argument in it. I am not one of those who can be accused of too frequently defending His Majesty's Government—Heaven forbid!—but on this occasion I must say that when the hon. and gallant Gentleman from start to finish of his speech accuses the Government of being engaged in reprisals, I think it is only right that he should have brought forward some jot or title of evidence in support of his contention, a thing which, I think the House will agree with me, he entirely failed to do. I regret I was moved to rise to my feet while he was speaking, and of course he has every right to insist that he should not give way, but it was to ask him if he really seriously suggested to this House that British soldiers and police who have made these reprisals upon houses and upon creameries did not deliberately seek out the houses which they knew had contained the inspirers and the organisers of murder. The hon. and gallant Gentleman should not loosely state in this House that they took no care to see whether they were innocent or guilty. It is my privilege to know a very large number of these gallant gentlemen in Ireland who are undertaking this frightful task on behalf of all of us here. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that there is a single soldier—I care not who he is—who would burn down a house unless he believed that the house contained those men who were guilty of these foul assassinations? That is the suggestion that he made, and I regret that he made it, and I hope possibly it was made under the stress of debate.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman's words were that it could not be contended that there was any attempt to burn down the houses of those who were guilty, and if he will consult the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he will see that he made that sweeping assertion. He described these men as black sheep and sinners, these men with whom he has served, whom he has seen in the field, whose character is known. I imagine that any soldier of any other country, if he were discussing the weakness of the British soldier, would say possibly that the one weakness of the British soldier in face of an enemy is his extraordinary power of forgiveness too soon, and yet the hon. and gallant Member described them as black sheep, and men who had committed sins. He said there are always in every army and every nation some black sheep, and he said these men who had taken part in these reprisals, having seen their comrades murdered, were black sheep and had committed sins. I want to suggest that this Motion is in fact, however much hon. Members may try to deny it, a vote of censure against all ranks of the Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary in Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Then why are these words used, that they are guilty of methods "contrary to civilised usage"? If you say you are not aiming at the soldiers and the Royal Irish Constabulary, but at the Government, then I say you must produce your proof that the Government have actually given orders for any one of these things to happen, and we have not had a shred of evidence of that up to the present moment.
I want to say a word or two with regard to the position of these men, for, after all, as the Chief Secretary has told us, these men who are carrying this burden in Ireland are the faithful servants of this House. I cannot help thinking sometimes that all of us have been a little guilty of failing to understand the kind of life these men are leading whom we send out there to uphold law and order. There are very few who will deny the fact that in these areas where terrorism goes on our soldiers and police are suffering from a state of affairs far worse than any war. I say that deliberately. Take, for instance, little scattered units of the British Army. I met the other day a most gallant boy, who had won the D.S.O. and Bar, the Military Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and the Legion of Honour in the War. He was only a boy, but he was in command of an area of 30 square miles in Ireland, and he came to see me when he was home on a few days' leave. In his detachment there are four other officers and himself, and in the week preceding his leave three of the five officers had been foully murdered. Just let us conceive for a moment what is the position of men like that. Some of these officers have to be crowded into barracks, and in other places they are absolutely alone, and there is no one to talk to, except their soldier servants, who may be with them, or the guards in their house. The guards themselves are practically separated from the rest of the people in the area, and unable to find any community of interest or of friendship with anyone around. If they go out to their grocers or bakers to buy the wants which the grocers and bakers dare not send to their cottages or barracks, they are liable to be shot on entering or leaving the shops, and, as we have heard to-day, there are even numerous cases of the Royal Irish Constabulary, Roman Catholics, who have gone to attend Mass, and who, as they are coming out of the church, have been shot actually in the porch. Such a case occurred three days ago.
Imagine the position of these soldiers and police in these terror-stricken areas. It is not war. In war you know where you are and you have a clearly defined frontier, and you are in your trenches. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is your remedy?"] My remedy is to back these men up, and not to abuse them with this spleen and venom. These men cannot walk down the street without fearing, if they hear a footstep behind them, that they are going to be assassinated. These being the facts, I say we are not helping these gallant men by introducing a Resolution of this description in the House to-day, and I would even go so far as to ask whether that Resolution could not be withdrawn, even at this late hour, in order that this House should not be misunderstood. It is a serious thing in Ireland at the present moment, when men are suffering, as the loyal servants of the Crown are suffering, that even ten men in this House should vote for a Resolution which, whatever may be the definition put upon it by hon. Members who support it, should and must be regarded as a vote of censure against those who are upholding law and order in Ireland.
I say there has not been a shred of evidence to show that a single one of these actions has been done by the order of the Government, and nobody, I think, will accuse me of going far out of my way to defend the Government, but on this occasion I believe honestly that an unfair and base less charge has been made against the Government. I do not think it will be a good political step. Indeed, I have no doubt it will have a boomerang effect. Anybody who heard the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith) speak in this House this afternoon must have seen he had no heart in this Motion at all, and I venture to think he has been driven to it by those who are around him. The least we can do in this House to-day is to offer our boundless thanks to these men who, for practically two years now, have been carrying this burden for us. We ought to give them our immense and heartfelt gratitude in a situation the like of which probably has never been known in modern history in times of peace. I think we ought to tell them, also, that we realise the conditions under which they are serving, that we shall never forget what they have undergone, and that we will see to it that when casualties are inflicted we will give the same generous treatment to them as to have given to those who were our defenders in time of war, and that their widows also will be treated in the same way. It is a few days after this appalling crime, which, I think, staggered the whole of civilisation, of Sunday last that this Motion is brought forward in this House. The day was asked for, and even yesterday it was asked that it might be postponed for one week. I suggest that if the hon. Members think it wrong for the Motion to be introduced this week, it will be no more right next week. The fact remains that for some reason or other this was considered to be a good party stunt. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] I am not speaking of the Labour party, but of the so-called Liberal party. This map which has been adopted has not only been sent to London, but has even gone down to the South of England. It is a map wherein are depicted the spots in Ireland where reprisals have taken place, and there is not one single indication of where a murder took place in any of these maps, and people are invited to put them up in windows and other places.
I venture to think that in reality you are not hurting the Government by introducing this Resolution, but you are bruising the hearts of over 100,000 women in this country whose splendid sons and brothers are serving your interests in Ireland at the present moment, and this reflection upon them is one which I venture to think will be felt in thousands of cottages throughout the length and breadth of this country. Of everybody who is taking this so-called anti-reprisals line, I would ask: When did the young British soldier become a sort of ghoul or savage who could not be restrained? When did the young British officer assume that role Day after day that is the suggestion which is flung out in speeches from the Benches here. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not true!"] It is true. I have sat here day after day and have heard these intolerable insults against the serving men of the British Army and the Royal Irish Constabulary, and I can only say this, that those who bring these charges do so because, I believe, they do not know the character of these men, which is precisely the same as the character of the average soldier who fought in the War. I should like to add that I believe that in all the long history of the ages the character of the British soldier in war has never been equalled. In fact, I thought it was generally admitted, and yet suddenly we find the scene changed and all these young lads, to whom you could not pay too great a tribute a few months ago, have to-day become savages guilty of every kind of murder and frightfulness.
What are the facts? Many of them have fought this lone fight now for over two years. They are separated in little villages. They are separated in little garrisons in different parts of Ireland. They have to send their lorries, some of them 30 miles, every time they require their rations. The hon. Gentleman sneers at His Majesty's Government on account of the lorries. I agree that something might have been done sooner. He lays stress on the word "open" lorries, but he surely would not suggest that the lorries should be closed. It takes a long time to turn out thousands of armoured lorries, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will hasten their despatch. These men have been suffering all kinds of intimidation and boycotting, terrorism and assassinations in many cases for practically two years. We have to realise that the law has broken down, and if we do realise that, I think we have to go back a little further in history to discover who is responsible. But the law has broken down, and these men if they see that such a situation has arisen that their own lives, and the lives of their comrades, are every day imperilled, unless they can demonstrate, as they believe, against those who are guilty of inspiring murders, I say it is very difficult, human nature being what it is, to condemn them. Even those who criticise the Government, if they were in a little village somewhere in the West of Ireland, and suddenly saw, perhaps, three out of ten of the section of police to which they were attached done to death, their bodies absolutely shattered by expanding bullets, we could not wonder if they went and burned down the house of a man whom they thought responsible for the crime. I admit it is regrettable.
I want to suggest that this House should take a greater responsibility in dealing with this question. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Resolution would have been the last person in this House to move a Resolution of this description. Everybody who has studied the history of Mr. Gladstone, that great patriot. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, that great patriot, the leader of the Liberal party in days gone by. Mr. Gladstone, whose noble thoughts carried him some- times to distant theatres of the world, when he saw assassination in Bulgaria or Armenia was ready to plunge this country into war in order to prevent those murders going on. The mantle has descended on the right hon. Member for Paisley, and I say that people in this country must be astonished that for two whole long years the right hon. Member for Paisley has kept silent. It is true that now he never makes a speech without introducing a short preamble with regard to his horror of murders, but for two long years these murders have been going on. Men who were serving this country faithfully have met horrible deaths. Blood has been flowing, and it is not until the milk begins to flow from the creameries that the right hon. Gentleman suddenly finds that his intervention is necessary, and that it is right for him to get up on the public platform and declaim. As has been truly said, there is a sense of proportion in these things.
Was there not a beginning of this movement in Ireland? Was there not a start of this? I do not want to go back so far as 1906, when Mr. Birrell stated that Ireland had never been more peaceful, never more free from crime, never so happy, and never so prosperous. But I want to remind the House that when the right hon. Member for Paisley was in power the Irish Republican movement started, and the leaders of that movement in Ireland were ready to get up and announce themselves as leaders of the Irish Republic. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister of that day did not carry out the law of the land and arrest those men for high treason, and have them tried. [An HON. MEMBER: "What did Carson say?"] I will tell you what he said. He said: "If in days to come you drive us out of our heritage, we are prepared to fight in order to stand under the Union flag." But at the time of which I speak we were in the middle of a great War, and the Rebellion had taken place at that fatal Easter time in Dublin, and the right hon. Member for Paisley allowed men to declare themselves as the leaders of the Irish Republic. I say from that moment he was condoning high treason. From that moment he brought government in this country into contempt, and I say that until we once more get back to realities and try men in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales on equality when guilty of high treason, we are not going to get peace in Ireland.
I want to say one or two words with regard to the possible remedies. First of all, I think we ought to shoulder the burden in this House. The British soldiers and police in Ireland are suffering. They have terrible responsibilities, and they have been driven to exasperation. I think it is time that all of us should see what we can do in order once more to seize firmly the hand of the law, and to see that the law is carried out in Ireland. I agree with what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said about officers being unarmed. I should like to know if there is really anything in it that they are not allowed to carry revolvers.
I am very glad to hear it, but I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will inquire into the matter and see that it never shall be permitted, knowing how things are in Ireland, that any officer or man shall be in such a position as to be segregated and unarmed. Secondly, everyone realises how disastrous it would be to have martial law for Ireland, as is sometimes broadly suggested, but we know that many counties are free from crime, and that there are counties where crime is absolutely rampant, and the Murder Gangs as they are called—it is hardly the words to use, because on some occasions in different parts of Ireland they have employed 200 or 300 men—but wherever the murder policy is rife, surely the time has come when we must prescribe that area as a civil war area, put that area under the command of a competent military authority, and let him have the responsibility, as in war, of dealing with the murderers' property, if by so doing you are going to save life in the long run.
The next proposition I make is that we should protect our men, that we should not spare expense in arming far more lorries, and sending them to Ireland. Most of the units who are drawing their rations from great distances have only two lorries—some have only one—and if one lorry breaks down, their only remaining lorry has to travel this long tract on the road alone. I suggest that, unless accompanied by an armoured car, the men in that lorry cannot successfully resist 100 rifles. Not long ago I had described to me an attack on two lorries. The first they knew of the ambush was when the first lorry suddenly came under the fire of 100 rifles. There were eight men on the lorry and two on the box. One man on the box was shot dead and five out of the eight were hit by the very first volley. It is an impossible situation. They may be saved if a second lorry or armoured car is following, and we ought to spare no expense to see that our troops are properly protected in that manner.
My last suggestion is this. I do not think really it can be contended that reprisals are only making things worse. I do not think the hon. Gentleman really listened to the Chief Secretary's extraordinary evidence from captured correspondence, that the soldiers by hitting back have at any rate put a certain amount of fear in the enemies of law and order in Ireland, those whom we call the Murder Gang. Is it not our bounden duty ourselves to take this matter in hand? It has always seemed to me from the very first that, rather than allow what must in the long run be bad for the discipline of the Army and police, but which is human nature, and we cannot stop, that we in this country should let it be perfectly well known throughout the length and breadth of Ireland that if a murder occurs in one particular place, let us say Bandon, or Kerry, or Tipperary, wherever you may have a murder, immediately the two best known, accessible leaders of the Irish Republican Army, which is a rebel force, should be seized, brought to trial for high treason and condemned to death, but the death sentence should be suspended so long as that neighbourhood was free from crime thereafter. I believe that is the only way of bringing this thing to a speedy conclusion. So long as it was clearly understood that if a murder took place in a certain area, then the two most responsible leaders you could find would be taken as hostages, tried, and immediately executed if another murder took place, I believe you would bring this thing to a stop at once.
I put it to the Labour party, and even to the Wee Liberal party, whether they would not assent to a policy like that? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] They will not assent to a policy like that, and yet they come down and say that they are against reprisals. All I can say is, then, that they associate themselves entirely with a policy of lawlessness and murder in Ireland, because they have no other solution to bring before us. Their only solution is that we should retire. An hon. Gentleman says, "March to the sea," and then only hold your forts, and leave these people in Ireland to cut each other's throats. This is not practical politics. I ask the hon. Gentlemen, if they are really opposed to reprisals, as they would have us believe on the platform and in the Press, is there not something better than that? Should we not get back to the position in which we were before the right hon. Member for Paisley condoned high treason, and should seize men, try them for high treason, wherever a murder takes place, and make it perfectly clear that the whole country is behind the Government in seeing that law and order, whatever they cost, however strenuous the measures to save life in the long run, and suffering among people, should be enforced?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down has made a series of most important suggestions to the Government. I expect the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland will soon be vacant, because the right hon. Gentleman who now occupies that position has reached about the limit of the term of office for Chief Secretaries. Therefore, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who is so prolific in new ideas would be, I think, a splendid candidate, and no doubt successful, as the successor of the present occupant of the office. We hear a great deal in this country about economy. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman were Chief Secretary he would put our economy notions into operation, because, according to his own programme, if he became Chief Secretary he would carry a Bill in this House to set up his own laws, he would appoint himself his own policeman, and, finally, would be his? own executioner. All these things, according to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, could be done in his own person, if he once occupied the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland.
It was rather unfortunate that so skilful a rhetorician should
not be much more skilful than he is in the conduct of his own National party. He is on the right side. I rejoiced to hear him make his speech, because even the National party is now dead, and he is the only survivor. I believe he also was the stepfather of Tariff Reform, which is also dead. The party of the hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot even bring to the front a potential anti-dumping Bill. He has been rather unfortunate in introducing the matter of who was responsible for the present condition of things in Ireland. He told us that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), when saddled with the responsibility for the Government, allowed treason to run mad in Ireland, and took no action in trying to bring to justice those who were guilty of high treason. He told us that high treason started in 1916. I am afraid he has got somewhat mixed up in his dates. I will tell him when high treason commenced, and, if I mistake not, he was just as eloquent in his advocacy of high treason at that time as he is powerful now in his condemnation of it. I will tell the House when high treason started. It was when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson) made a speech in which he said:
I am not sorry for the armed drilling of those who are opposed to me in Ireland.
That refers to the volunteers—
I have certainly no right to complain of it. I started it myself. I was told at the time that I was looking for revolution two-and-a-half or three years ahead. I was very glad. I did not mind that. We are quite ready, and we mean to go on and be ready.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was looking for revolution three years ahead, but his revolutionaries are now in the seats of the mighty. They sit upon that Front Bench opposite. They are administering justice as judges, resident magistrates, and Crown prosecutors in Ireland to-day. But the lessons he taught and the doctrines he preached have fructified in these hideous evils that the House of Commons is to-day discussing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Therefore when any hon. and gallant Gentleman rises in the House and talks about high treason, and tells the House the cause and root of it, I say: There is the root of it! There is where treason started! That is a spirit which has permeated Ireland,
and I care not what extreme course Sinn Feiners take in Ireland, they are justified by the speeches not only of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), but of all those Members of the Government who aided and abetted him in first starting the policy of revolution in hostility to the policy of constitutionalism that we preached from these benches and which was put into operation.
If there is one thing that sickens me with this House, and I am pretty well sick of it, it is the arrant hypocrisy of its Members. If a policeman is shot your eyes turn up in holy horror. Yet I heard everyone cheer with ringing, resonant cheers, when this speech was made:
I place on record my view that this Government—
that is the Government now denounced by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and one in which the leading Members were the present Prime Minister, the Secretary for War, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench (Major-General Sealy), with a number of other hon. and gallant and un-gallant Members. Here is the speech:
I place on record my view that this Government, even if it had the wickedness, which I have a difficulty in believing, is wholly lacking in the nerve to give an order to the British army to use coercion in Ulster. Supposing the Government gave such an order, the consequences can only he described in the words of Mr. Bonar Law when he said, 'If they did so, it would not be a matter of argument, but the population of London would lynch you on the lamp-posts.
Why do not you cheer that sentiment? You cheered it then. There is not the slightest possibility of anyone connected with the National party getting six months for anything. Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman make any sacrifices of that kind? Hon. Members remain now dumb and silent. I watched them to-day when the right hon. Gentleman was making his speech—if I may say so, one of the most dishonest speeches I ever listened to. If we are to have a Minister coming and asking us to have a grand inquest of the nation, and if we are to be called upon to judge on these considerations presented to us, then we ought to be told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This speech of the Chief Secretary has been made up of a series of some truths, some half-truths, and many statements that were not truths at all. The right hon. Gentleman was reciting this hideous story, this saturnalia of blood in Ireland, and you were all deeply moved. Yet from the lips of your leaders—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—the right hon. and learned Gentleman and other Leaders in the House, came the inspiration which had been responsible for all these evils so eloquently depicted from that Table to-day. The hon. Gentleman for the St. Augustine's Division (Mr. Ronald McNeill) has been very silent through all these controversies, and so also have his Ulster colleagues who sit around him. I would imagine that he would have told us something about the horrors of Lisburn, Dromore, and Banbridge. Here, in peaceful little towns, where the people are engaged in their ordinary everyday avocation, offending nobody, not engaged even as members of a single political organisation, they are confronted with savagery and wanton crime unexampled. Parents driven from their houses because of their religion, hunted like deer from their homes. Little children sent out. People taken from their own hearths, and to-day in these towns, in those operations of which I speak, houses have disappeared in wreck and ruin as a monument of your hatred of crime in Ireland.
I know the district in which my hon. Friend lives. Undoubtedly he himself has been a peaceful influence in what has occurred. I am talking about his party. I suppose it is because he represents an English constituency that he has the large heart he has. But what about his colleagues? Hundreds and thousands worth of property destroyed; the homes of people burned down, and other things which I have ventured to recite. There was no word of these in the speech of the Chief Secretary—not one solitary word. When a policeman is killed, when soldiers are killed, the House is horrified. Why is the whole story not told? Finally, 7,000 Catholics in the City of Belfast, who again have done no man any wrong, engaged in the difficult and hard pursuits of the shipyards, travelling miles to their work from early morning till evening, in the City of Belfast I say, these men are driven from their employment because they belong to another religion.
Yes, it is. I know the contention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I suppose it is because they are Sinn Feiners. Was it the Sinn Feiners that were driven from Queen's Island ten or fifteen years ago, when the same merciful operations were carried on against those there at that time? It is often said: "Oh, if only we had the moderate Nationalists!" Yet at that time I was regarded as anti-Christ. You are very fond of the moderate Nationalists now. You had them here once. You destroyed them. It was not because they were Sinn Feiners. I hate to repeat it over and over again—
If the hon. Gentleman does not want to hear what I have to say he can go outside. I know your intellect cannot understand it; but for that I am not responsible. These men sent me to Parliament. My opponent at that election was Mr. De Valera. They would not have voted for me against him if they had been Sinn Feiners. I have heard the Leader of the House and the Prime Minister say that they had nothing against Sinn Feiners; that they were only against what they called "the murder gang." But if you are a Sinn Feiner you are entitled to your views, just as are hon. Members of this House, and it is perfectly legitimate to express those views. Even Sinn Feiners are entitled to work so long as they did not interfere with the rights of other men; but these men were driven out because they were Catholics. If we hear on the one hand from the Government of the persecution of policemen and the murders of soldiers, we are entitled also to ask that the whole story should be told. Not only, however, is there not one solitary word produced on the opposite beaches, but the Chief Secretary, who should hold impartially the balance of equality between conflicting parties in Ulster, has never said a single word in denunciation of crimes just as wanton and wicked as anything he has described at that box. The fact of the matter is, and I want to say this frankly, that the whole cause of the trouble in Ireland is that you have no business there at all, neither yourselves, nor your Government, your military, nor your police. That is the whole story. You have just fought a great war for the rights of small nationalities. You preach under your fourteen points that no nation has a right to control another nation by military force. You could have Ireland a friend and an inspiring source of strength if you tried the right way; but, in order to solve this problem, you have never tried the right way, but always the wrong way. You have tried terrorism, the military, special Courts of Law, and the whole of your machinery is not constructed to win Ireland, but to crush her. I believe your policy to-day is intended—I do not say deliberately, but that will be the ultimate of it—to devastate and destroy Ireland.
An English friend of mine told me that he was travelling over with a Black and Tan, and he was told that the soldiers were going to draw a cordon round Ireland and shoot every man, woman and child who showed the slightest opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh. oh!"] He was not an Irishman, but an Englishman, and he was not a Member of Parliament. I believe the great bulk of Englishmen tell the truth unless they are returned to this House as Coalition Members. That is what this gentleman told me, and the reason I believe it is because I know it to be true. The Chief Secretary for Ireland has employed a novelist on the staff of his Weekly Summary, and he is now producing a series of romances which are issued in Ireland as penny shockers. That is how I regard all the documents which the right hon. Gentleman read to-day, and I do not believe one of them.
A few moments ago, during the Chief Secretary's absence, I was asking him when he stands up to harrow our feelings to picture this hideous position in Ireland, I would like him to tell not partly the truth, but all the truth, and tell us not one incident, but all the incidents. During the whole of his speech to-day and his previous speeches, he has never once attempted to protest against the infamous persecution to which my constituents are being subjected to, because the great body of the Catholics of North-East Ulster are suffering from as cruel a tyranny as was ever imposed upon a minority. If you want the House of Commons to have any belief in your bonâ fides, come along and tell us things as they are, and leave your literary romances to some other time. Instead of reading these things to the House of Commons you should submit them to men cool enough to understand how many of them are true. I was laughed at because I recited what a "Black and Tan" told an Englishman, namely, that they were going to devastate the country, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Weekly Summary contained a statement a couple of weeks ago that they intended to turn Ireland into "an appropriate hell"? That was a ghoulish description of the new Jerusalem you are going to create in Ireland, and in order to see that your literary theories and prognostications are carried into operation, you let loose forces in Ireland that destroy life, ruin property, burn down dwellings, and oppress and terrorise the population in the silent places of agricultural Ireland.
To here the right hon. Gentleman one would think that the only occupation of the people of Ireland is that of murdering policemen and soldiers. That is why we want an impartial judicial tribunal in order that this country will be able to see whether the stories told by independent and impartial British, American and French newspaper representatives are true, or whether the truth is told in the statements which the right hon. Gentleman recites to this House every day. Here is a statement which was signed by 16 Protestants bishops in this country:
We, the undersigned, while condemning murder and outrage by whomsoever committed, deplore the disastrous state of affairs in Ireland at this time. We believe that force breeds force and reprisals suggest reprisals, but that the fires of brotherly love and goodwill, by God's spirit, lead to amity and peace. We ask, therefore, that military terrorism may cease and a truce be arranged on both sides, so that, in an atmosphere of peace, negotiations for a settlement may be carried on.
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that these Protestant bishops got their information from a tainted source? The right hon. Gentleman says that these things do not exist, but the bishops of England say they do. The bishops of this
country, some of them most distinguished writers and public thinkers, have made these declarations, and whom are we to believe? The best way to test the matter is to set up a tribunal, a judicial tribunal if you like, consisting of the highest judges of this land. Let them inquire and take evidence, and then we will be perfectly satisfied with whatever judgment they declare between the statements we make to the House and the statements you make. Until the Government accepts that challenge, which we offer them now and which we will repeat, they must stand convicted of being guilty of retailing lies to this House and on the platform as to what is going on in Ireland. We are told that there is in Ireland a state of war. I have nothing to do with either party in this war, and I stand for the non-combatants, for the innocent men and women, and for the little children whom you have shocked and horrified. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell the House that I sent him a telegram from a merchant in Nenagh whose £18,000 worth of property was destroyed, and the owner of this property said to me: "Is this the reward I am getting for sending four of my sons to the front?"
The right hon. Gentleman ought to tell the House the story of the young lieutenant in the Munster Fusiliers who was at home convalescent and was shot by a "Black and Tan" in his own home, and whose letter you have, or perhaps it is in the archives of Dublin Castle. You did not tell us these things. You do not tell the other side to this House, and these are some of the things you ought to have told this House. The right hon. Gentleman condemned the murder of the officers in Dublin the other day, and everybody condemns them. The only difference between the right hon. Gentleman and my self is that he condemns some murders, and I condemn all murders. To me all these things are hideous and revolting to human nature. I hate the Government because I believe they are responsible for them. I believe that for every life lost and for every drop of the blood which has been shed the policy of this Government is responsible.
When the right hon. Gentleman shocked the House with a recital of the murder of these gallant officers he did not tell us that an army, a large uniformed force went to a football match in a great public park in Dublin, for what? To catch the murderers. Does anyone visualise what might have been the tragedy that would have occurred under certain circumstances? I understand that there is not a word of truth in the statement that anybody fired shots from the crowd on the football field.
I think it has been stated that revolvers were found in the possession of some of those who were seized, but if that is so how is it that not a single arrest was made? No, the revolvers were all lying round the football field, or they were not there at all. But whether there were revolvers there or not, or whether the assassins were at the football match or not, a more wicked transaction I have never known than that of letting these men loose upon a large mass of men, women, and children at a football match. I never could understand it. I have watched a football match, and I know people get very excited, and here at a gathering of excited men you march in your army, and they proceed to search 3,000 people, and ten men, women, and children are killed. You did not catch a single assassin on that' football field, and yet you proceeded to do a deed so foul that if the assassins had been there not ten but possibly 1,000 people might have lost their lives. That is almost as heroic as the posturing and posing of the right hon. Gentleman. This is my country, however, and not his, and I care nothing for his picturesque postures or poses, nor for his dramatic performances in the football field. What I care about is the danger to innocent lives, and to the thousands of men and women, upon whom there was not the slightest stain of criminality, who were subjected to a performance that might have meant a massacre on the one side and the destruction of the valued lives of soldiers, about whom he sheds so many tears at the Table of this House, on the other. Why did the right hon. Gentleman not tell that story to the House of Commons?
Let me come to the case of Tralee. A representative of the Press—and may I point out in passing that I do not get my information from the "Sinn Fein Bulletin," I do not get a copy of that production, they do not honour me with it. I like accuracy, and therefore I go to the British papers to get proof. Every question I have asked in this House, and I can say the same for my colleagues on
these Benches, has been based upon information which we found in the most reputable journals in this country. In fact, the most harrowing details that I have ventured to congregate in the form of a question have been found in the classic columns of the "Morning Post." Surely that is accurate enough for the right hon. Gentleman, whatever the other Members of the Coalition Government may think about it, because it is on his side in this controversy! Therefore, I do not think he can question it. Tralee is described as being
like a town with the plague. Not a shop is open, and people remain behind closed doors and shuttered windows from morning to nightfall. An hour before darkness sets in women and children leave their homos and go anywhere they can for the night. About 280 women and children sleep in the workhouse every night. The men who remain in the town are in constant dread during the long hours of the night. When morning dawns efforts are made to secure food some way or other, but the slightest sound on the streets, even in broad daylight, has the effect of making people run indoors again. It is quite incorrect to say that the shops were open for a couple of hours. That is not so. No merchant dares open his door even for a few moments lest the Black and Tans should come on him unexpectedly and burn down the shop. In the house where I was staying they had a little flour, which was used for baking bread, but the majority of the people are not as well off as we were. They try to get food on the quiet, but do not always succeed. When a police lorry appears on the streets shots are fired at street corners by its occupants, adding to the general terror. It is simply awful to witness the plight of the women and children. They are absolutely terrified. The armed police are practically always on the streets.
The position in the town is summed up as follows:
There is no goods traffic coming in. There is no money coming in, and no wages paid. There was not a bit of fresh meat killed in the town since Saturlay week. The whole thing is certainly a new development of the frightfulness policy. It is a deliberate attempt to starve a whole town.
Of course, none of these things occur. The English papers are all liars, but that was their description of it.
Let me come to Templemore. I quite recognise that these details are somewhat dry, but I feel I ought to tell the story. We sat in patience listening to the long recital of the right hon. Gentleman, and if this House is to go away inflamed with passion in its indignation against Ireland because of things which all decent Irishmen regret and profoundly detest,
surely I am entitled to submit the other side of the question to its spirit of justice. This is in Templemore:
Events in this town last Friday night illustrated in a startling way the collapse of discipline that is inevitably following upon the rein which has been given to the British army serving in Ireland. When I arrived this morning I found that about a third of the population had fled"—
One-third of the population. This is not in Armenia, under the Turks, this is in Ireland, under the British Government. This is written by an Englishman himself:
From end to end the little place was shattered as though by a series of explosions. Two shops were mere heaps of smoking ruins. For a quarter of a mile the glass in every window not heavily shuttered was broken. Altogether more than a hundred buildings had been treated in this way. Piles of plate-glass fragments littered the roadway outside the town's big drapery establishment. And in the centre of the square, the skeleton of the burnt-out City Hall told how this was the second time within four months that Templemore has had to endure the fury of the Crown Forces in Tipperary.
I come to Longford. I got a letter describing the whole situation in Longford from the Bishop there, which I sent to the Prime Minister and which he read. It was about as horrible a story of wanton wickedness against innocent people as I ever heard of. Here are the fruits of it:
Claims have been made by the following: Mrs. Pettit, £80,000; Kiernan's Hotel, £65,000; Peter Heslin, £50,000; Misses O'Flanagan, £20,000; Patrick O'Hara, £15,000; Michael Kelly, £12,000. Court house and Market House, £12,000—
You see, they had such a respect for law that they even burnt down the Court House. The Government have abolished the tribunals, and the Black and Tans are burning the Court Houses—
Joseph Tierney, £10,000: Claims for more than £1,000 are for goods, including dry goods.
Let me read this, of last Saturday:
The acquittal by a Dublin Court-martial of the two men, James O'Neill and Patrick Blake, had a tragic sequel.
Here were two ex-soldiers, and they were tried for being Sinn Feiners, or some crime of that sort—[AN HON MEMBER: "Murder!"]—for murder in Limerick. They were brought before one of your own military tribunals. Those tribunals are sacrosanct; according to the right hon. Gentleman they are infallible in their
judgments and they cannot err, even by accident. Their decisions are pontifical, and nobody in this House dare question them. They acquitted these men of murder. What happened?
The two men travelled by train to Limerick junction. They then left in a motor car for Limerick, some relatives having met and accompanied them towards home. Blake, with others, was in one car and O'Neill in another. About half-way the motors were held up by a party of armed and disguised men. The occupants were challenged, and a question having been put as to whether a man named Blake was travelling, Michael Blake, a brother of the acquitted prisoner, it is stated, answered in the affirmative and was shot dead. The dead body of James O'Neill was found in a field by the roadside near Pallas. Michael Blake was a demobilised soldier. His remains were conveyed to Limerick and left at the infirmary.
Let the House listen to this, which was also in an English paper:
There was another raiding expedition of the same sort the next night in the direction of Ballinamore and Fenagh. Here a parochial hall was burned, but I am without precise information. On their return towards Mohill the raiders went through the district of Aughavas, three miles east of Cloone. I followed their trail yesterday. They called at the farmhouse of John Owens at Augharan, between two and three o'clock in the morning. The people in the house heard shouting outside of "Up Lloyd George." The door was opened, and inquiry made for the two eldest sons. They were out, but the two younger boys, aged 16 and 14, were seized. Between two rooms of the house is a half wall, which does not reach quite to the roof. Over this was flung a halter, and John Francis Owens, a lad of 16 years, was made to stand on a chair and the halter put round his neck. The chair was kicked away and the boy left half-strangled. He pleaded that he was only 16, and was told, "You are old enough to ambush a policeman." The boy of 14 was tied in the same way, but fell in a faint in a tub of pig-wash when the chair was removed. His brother was then again intimidated in the same way, and then dragged outside with the halter still round his neck, and beaten with the buckle-end of a Volunteer belt, found in the house. In the meantime, when the raiders had told Mr. and Mrs. Owens and their little girl to clear out of the house as it was to be burned. They went out and stood in the yard in their nightclothes while the thatch of their house was lit from inside and outside, and while their furniture, clothing and money were consumed in the flames. Fire was set to a haggardful of ricks of straw and hay. The barn, byre and outhouses were burned, but Mr. Owens managed to get out in time a horse, donkey, and some cattle. About 40 fowls were suffocated in the barn, and their charred bodies were removed next day in shovelsful. When I visited the house yesterday nothing
was standing of the cottage or barn but the outside walls. All the crops had been reduced to ashes.
As I have said, these are only some few of the incidents which were never mentioned in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. May I venture respectfully to suggest to him that he should publish a full record of all the doings of these servants of his, of which he boasts so much, in the next copy of the "Weekly Summary"? It is arrant hypocrisy, simply because men are soldiers, to endeavour to palliate these crimes. It may be a popular thing to do, and I can understand why men do it. I do not myself think that the soldiers like it. I do not think the Black and Tans like it. I believe, in my heart, that the Royal Irish Constabulary hate so loathsome a task. In the city of Dublin the Dublin Metropolitan Police have been disarmed for twelve months, and there has not been a single policeman shot since. We know what is going on in Ireland—the policemen are nervous, broken down, and angry— many of them justifiably angry. They are let loose, they do not know where they are; while the soldiers come over to a strange land, having read the blood-curdling stories told by the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister of the horrors they had to face. Most of them are young boys. I was in a newspaper office in Belfast one day, and some of these young soldiers of sixteen were there, buying papers. I got in conversation with them and said, "What are you doing over here? They replied, "We are over here to defend Sir Edward Carson." They really did not know what they were sent over for, and I believe, on my soul, that these young fellows, with all the fine, vigorous and martial inspiration of their hearts, believe that this is a dirty job upon which they have been sent. Therefore, I am not prepared to throw stones at them. My indictment is an indictment of this Government. They have tried every method that human ingenuity and a lack of humanity has inspired in dealing with the Irish question, but they have never once tried the right one.
When the present Government came into power Ireland was a perfectly peaceful country. When the Act of 1914 was put upon the Statute Book, Ireland was the most crimeless country in the world. Go back to the records of the visits of the Judges in Ireland to the various Courts of Assize, and you will see that 80 per cent. of them received white gloves, symbolic of the freedom of those counties from crime. There was hope in the Irish heart. You talk about the Act of 1914. I was present at a great meeting in O'Connell Street just before the War, when a demand was made by something like 60,000 people that this Act should be put on the Statute Book. Amongst the speakers at that great gathering of Nationalists—for we were all Constitutionalists then—was Mr. Pearce, who was shot after the rebellion, a noble and inspiring figure, who bravely fought and died for the things he felt. Mr. John MacNeill was another of the speakers— all Constitutionalists, every one of them—and I forget the names of a good many of them. They were not Separatists then; they were not even Republicans. They may have had such ideas in their minds, but they said, "We are willing to accept this measure as a compromise and an agreement between two great nations." How has your trickery and the dodgery of political parties all ended? On these Benches there once sat eighty Constitutionalists. We had to receive the same abuse, we were faced with the same hostility and calumny that Sinn Fein is meeting to-day.
I heard the present Lord Chancellor of England say on these Benches that he would rather be governed by the Sultan of Turkey than by John Redmond—John Redmond who lost his power and his life when he stood by you in the direst moments of your Imperial fortunes. He cast in his lot with you. You turned him down; you left him to die of a broken heart, and the youth of Ireland finding that no success could be found along those lines, finding that Ireland for 40 years had always been in opposition, left you and, thank God, when they left this House they left with an incorruptible record which is an unpurchasable asset of their nation, because not one of them ever accepted a place of honour or emolument from the British' Government. They went down the victims of your rule and of your ignorance. They disappeared because you would not listen to the golden voice of Mr. Gladstone 30 years ago—because you would not listen to the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), and because yon would not even listen to the present Prime Minister who was associated with both in endeavouring to solve this problem. You turned a deaf ear to them and you have got precisely what you deserve. We at any rate have no responsibility for it. The time will come when all this will end; but it will not be ended by methods of this kind. When I was a child I was frightened, and the thing that was shouted at me in common with all Irish children, in order to frighten us was the word "Cromwell." It was a name which in Ireland was associated always with the terrible massacres of Drogheda. For 30 years we fought our cause until these bitter memories had disappeared, we fought it in the hope that in your comradeship from an enfranchised democracy there would be evolved a more human spirit and a greater chance for liberty.
But the constitutional movement was broken and what are we offered? Shall I say a second promise? The right hon. Gentleman may kill the Sinn Fein movement. That is one of the reasons why I am not a Sinn Feiner. Frankly I never believed in this war of force. I believed it was always in your power to smash it. A nation of 45,000,000, with all its military power, its scientific military machine, and its wealth, why it was fantastical to think that liberty could be won in that way. If I had thought it might be I would have stood out with equal valour in defence of the principles I was fighting for. But I did not think it possible. I warn you to beware how your name goes down to the children in generations to come. Remember now you have an opportunity, amidst all the evils and difficulties of to-day, of making the Irish people remember you with pride instead of your name being a memory of terror to the children of the future. You can do it. The lines on which you can do it have been laid down. I have been so unsuccessful myself in my own suggestions that I hesitate to offer any more. In the Labour Congress held in Dublin only 10 days ago however, they pointed out the lines upon which it was possible and even certain—for they speak largely for Ireland—to find a solution that will end this horrible condition of affairs and bring a newer and much better spirit and temper into the relationships between the two countries. We are asking you to withdraw your military and to let a Constituent Assembly be called to draft a constitution and to arrange adequate safeguards, which, I believe, they would leave to Ulster to determine for itself. We ask for no control over your Army or Navy. Why refuse our request? Why have you given us this Government, this administration, this hideous story of crime and reprisals? You stood as the triumphant power in the War. Do not let your peace be poisoned by war with a little nationality, with a little country which has a chance now, if only freed from all these horrors, of becoming within itself a potential power for internal glory and prosperity and your friend and ally if you will let her be so.
The speech to which we have just listened was so full of eloquence that I think the House is very much inclined to overlook the irrelevance of a large part of it. After such a speech anything from myself is likely to fall very flat. Indeed, I had no idea of taking part in this Debate, and I should not have done so had not the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin) in his remarks more or less challenged me by hurling a reproach at the Members on this Bench, and at myself in particular, for having taken no part in these discussions, which have been rather frequent of late. Speaking for-myself alone, I may say the reason why I have taken no part is a very simple one, and it is that it did not appear to me that anything I could say would materially add to the information before the House. We have heard from the hon. Member, and from the hon. Gentleman sitting beside him (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), speech after speech on very nearly the same topic, covering almost always the same ground, and we have, in my opinion, had to those speeches very effective answers from the Government. I have, therefore, seen no reason why those who sit on these Benches, merely because it is true we have a particular acquaintance with Ireland, should, on that account, intervene in these discussions.
I only propose now to deal, in a very few words, with two short points raised by the hon. Member. I do so because they have been so often repeated in this House that if we continue to allow them to go unanswered they may in time be believed by those who put them forward and still more be believed by a good many who hear them. The first point my hon. Friend made was when he was referring to the speech of the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Lieut.-Colonel Croft), who had dealt with the campaign at present going on in Ireland and had recommended a certain course for the Government. The hon. Member for the Falls Division then made this common debating point—"Where did this high treason begin?" Of course he, with his inimitable eloquence, suggested that the source of treason in Ireland was to be found in the action of my right hon. Friend the Member for Duncairn (Sir E. Carson). That has been continually stated. Let me take this opportunity of saying that the analogy so often suggested is one which we at all events have entirely repudiated from first to last. This is not the opportunity, and I am not the person to take it, for going into a detailed defence of the action of my right hon. Friend in the past. But there is one outstanding distinction between his action in the past and what we see to-day which I am perfectly certain appeals to the people of this country, however it may appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite. This has been the distinguishing mark of the action of my right hon. Friend in the past—whatever hon. Members may think of it in detail, and in regard to its methods—that it was in intention and purpose an action and a movement of loyalty to the British Crown and the British Empire. The action that is going on in Ireland to-day is exactly the opposite, and is a movement, whatever its methods may be, in intention and in purpose not of loyalty, but of hostility to the British Empire and the British Crown, and that distinction we at all events are perfectly willing to take our stand upon, and we are confident of justification in the long run from the British people.
The other point which the hon. Member brought up again is the accusation of intolerance and persecution against his co-religionists in Belfast. While he was making that point I insisted, as I insist again, that that hostility is the result—I deplore it very greatly— not of any religious difference between people working together in Belfast, but is due to political differences. My hon. Friend tried to make the point that on some occasions before the rise of Sinn Fein to its present position similar action had been taken. I agree, but on both occasions it was hostility to the political opinion and not to the religious opinion of those against whom it was taken. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that it is a very deplorable state of intolerance. I quite agree it is wrong that people working together in the same shipyard, or in the same works, should not work to gether even although they hold different religious or political opinions. There is, however, this to be said that they have just as good a right to refuse to work alongside other men whose political opinions they detest as have the right hon. and hon. Members of the Labour party to say that they and their friends will not work in the same shop as people whose industrial opinions they dislike. I am quite aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) has tried to draw—I think very unsuccessfully—a line of distinction between the two. Still I hold that if a man in a yard is entitled to declare he will not work alongside somebody who does not agree with him or does not belong to his union, that deplorable as it may be is just as bad, neither worse or better, than for people in Belfast to say, "We will not work alongside other men not because we disagree with them industrially but because we disagree with their political opinions." I deplore such action in both cases. These are the only points with which I care to deal to-day. I only rose to do so because I was challenged. I should like, in conclusion—as my hon. Friend made a rambling speech dealing with the larger aspects of the matters now under revision in Ireland—to give one illustration of his methods. He was replying to what appeared to be an extremely powerful speech by the Chief Secretary, in which he showed, from documents in possession of the Government, the terrible cases with which they have to deal in Ireland. How does my hon. Friend deal with it? First of all he relies entirely upon newspaper reports. It is characteristic of his rhetorical methods that he should have said, "I am always fond of accuracy so I go to British newspapers for it." He succeeded, of course, in raising the laugh which he intended to do by his witty observation, but the intention was to prove that the newspaper articles on which he was relying were sufficient to do away with the Government case. He considers that that is dealing with the Government documents.
That is exactly what I am going to point out. The hon. Member, having relied entirely upon newspaper articles—and some of us, especially those who have been journalists, know how much reliance may sometimes be placed on newspaper articles—says with regard to the documents produced by the Government which have actually been taken from persons arrested in connection with this campaign of crime—he disposes of them by saying, "I do not believe a word of it." I think he also said, when the right hon. Gentleman referred to the revolvers taken on the football field in Dublin, "I do not believe in the revolvers either." That is a very easy and cheap way of disposing of evidence, but it is characteristic of my hon. Friend, and I am certain that he is far too able a man to try to dispose of documentary proof in that way if he had a strong case to rely on himself. Anybody who can look to the case he made and to his failure to deal with the Government case, and can escape from the glamour of the undoubted eloquence of my hon. Friend, will not, I think, have any hesitation in corning to the conclusion that he has totally failed to upset the case of the Chief Secretary, and that the House will have no hesitation either in giving support to the Government.
Most of us who have listened to the hon. Member for the Falls Division and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down will appreciate their point of view and understand exactly where both of them are in this matter. I do not rise to pursue either of those speeches, but to say that I am disappointed that in the Debate, so far as it has gone, so little attention has been paid to the third portion of the Resolution. The Resolution is divided into three portions. With the first of those portions presumably everybody in the House agrees, namely, the condemnation of the assassinations both of officers and civilians. The second portion of the Resolution deals with reprisals, and on that portion there is a difference of opinion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that reprisals are necessary to the pacification of Ireland, and say so quite frankly. On that point one would like to get replies to these questions. Is the policy of the Government an approval of those reprisals or a condemnation? It has been suggested, and some speakers have even said, that the Government itself is responsible for the reprisals. I should be very unwilling, and a great many Members of the House would be very unwilling, to believe that the Government were deliberately provoking reprisals. At any rate this is true—we have chapter and verse for it from day to day in the Parliamentary Papers—that the Government are condoning reprisals and have offered from time to time excuses for what many of us believe are excesses.
The second question I would like to put is this: is there to be no limit to the policy; are we all to stand absolutely still and wait until you have exhausted the policy of reprisals, and have overcome the disorder in Ireland? That is a pertinent question, and I hope my right hon. and learned Friend opposite will take the question for a specific answer. Are we to wait until reprisals have turned disorder in Ireland into order before any further step is taken, because if that is so, what promise would there be in the future of Ireland? You would, it is true, have overcome the disorder, but you would have a people with the memory of their treatment—the memories are full enough now of the treatment they have received for a century—more emphasised than ever. I am sure the Prime Minister himself must be opposed to reprisals. Though I was not in the House at the time, I remember speaking with the Prime Minister on platforms in this country, and the present Prime Minister, talking in this House in December, 1900, when we were nearly at the end of the Boer War, was dealing with the question of reprisals there, and he made several speeches. I will only read one short extract of one speech to show what was in his mind:
I ask you, is there any justice in punishing one man for the offence of another? General Botha, General Delarey, and General De Wet, and some of their neighbours living, it may be, 200 miles from the spot, swoop suddenly down and cut the railway. You do not punish De Wet because you cannot catch him, but you burn the farms, possibly occupied by women and children, of all those people who have had nothing to do with the raid, and the cutting of the railway.
Here is the sentence that matters:
I do not think it is calculated to impress the inhabitants of those two States with a clear sense of the even-handed justice they are likely to have at our hands.
Those were the words of the present Prime Minister when speaking on reprisals in this House in December of 1909. In his mind at that time, as I hope and believe is in his mind now, he had the idea that it was wrong and futile to reach agreement through reprisals, and here I come to the one suggestion which I think may contribute a little to the constructive side of this Debate. I have quoted a South African precedent, but there is a more recent precedent, and a precedent which the Government themselves have carried into effect. It is within the recollection of everybody in this House that we had rebellion in Egypt. There were the same kind of stories in Egypt about the murder of British soldiers as we unfortunately had on Sunday of this week. There was a nationalist demand in Egypt for a separate national existence. There we had reproduced in Egypt the conditions which obtain in Ireland, but the Government did not put up a non possumus attitude towards that situation. They sent one of their own colleagues, Lord Milner, out to Egypt to discuss with those who were in favour of the national independence of Egypt, and those of us who have had the privilege and opportunity of talking with some of the members of that Commission who are now home know from what they say of the extreme difficulty in the initial stages of getting into touch with national opinion in Egypt. Patience and time were all that were required to secure success, and now we have a Report which not only meets the wishes of those in Egypt who desire to have their national aspirations put in some concrete form, but also secures all that is essential to this country from the point of view of danger. What I want to know is this—why cannot the Government have some kind of truce. The words "the truce of God" have been used in the Debate. I do not like to use those words, but I can see no end to this unless you are going to wait until the Government have pressed their hand so heavily on Ireland that you have a subdued and subjugated people.
My hon. Friend is introducing a couple of words which I hold should be kept out of this Debate. If my hon. Friend wants to know our views with regard to the murder gang, we should be as pleased as he, and as anxious as he, and would take as many steps as he and his friends to see that any criminals belonging to the murder gang who have killed either officers or civilians are tracked down and dealt even-handed justice. I do not think you are going to get a solution of this problem by talking about murder gangs and gunmen in Ireland.
I wish to correct an inaccuracy. My hon. Friend referred to the Government as having a heavy hand on Ireland, and my point was that the Government has not got a heavy hand on Ireland as Ireland, but is simply exercising a heavy hand on the murder gang, and I think there is a great distinction between the two.
That is a point greatly in dispute and is an example of the meticulous kind of mind that addresses itself to a big problem of this sort. Why should my hon. Friend worry about such a distinction? The conscience of this country and the conscience of the House of Commons are against what is happening in Ireland, whoever is responsible. By the forms of Parliamentary procedure, this becomes a Vote of Censure, but the purposes of this Debate is to see if there is a way out, and it is not going to help us to introduce the question of murder gangs. So I am suggesting the precedents of South Africa and of Egypt. There is something else that can be done. From what has been said by Ministers, I gather that the Republican Army is a unit in Ireland that can be recognised. We were told to-day, for instance, by the Chief Secretary that the headquarters of the Republican Army were in creameries. Presumably, therefore, there is a Republican Army which is known. There is also the British Army which is known, and there are the police. The officers at the head of the British Army in Ireland are responsible officers, and the men at the head of the police are responsible police officers. Cannot those officers be brought into touch with the leaders of the Republican Army? The House will remember that, when we were trying to find our way out of the South African difficulty, Lord Rosebery, who was then actively engaged in politics, suggested that, if some British officer could meet some of the Boer generals at a wayside inn somewhere in either of the two little republics that we were fighting, they would probably find a settlement that statesmen could not arrive at. I believe that what we want in Ireland to-day is a wayside inn. We want to get the immediate leaders of the Republican Army and of our own Army there to declare a truce, and in the interval of that truce to get together and put down in some form or other exactly what would satisfy them, or exactly what they would require— in other words, to negotiate. If the matter were negotiated in that way, surely it is not beyond the ability of statesmanship in this country, out of those preliminary talks with the people who actually matter, to reach some kind of settlement.
The Government, of course, have only, so far as I know, one reply, and that is that they will suppress the Republican Army, and will offer to Ireland as a solution their present Home Rule Bill. That is all they have tangible for dealing with this amazing situation. I believe the situation is far too serious to wait and see whether the Home Rule Bill will even operate. I respectfully suggest that hon. Members of this House, instead of bringing forward examples of reprisals on the one side or the other, instead of making suggestions how the military should be better protected, and so on, should throw into this discussion any ideas that they have of any kind that will put an end to the horror of murders on both sides, that will enable us to penetrate this smokescreen of murder, and get up against the realities and facts of the situation. The people in Ireland, however much they are opposed to each other now, must live together, and the longer they are separated by the tragedy of murders, assassinations, and reprisals, the longer this House and the longer this nation is going to be kept from addressing itself to other great subjects of dominant interest. I appeal to the House to view the Debate in that way. That is the spirit in which this Resolution was put down; that is the idea that we hope to elaborate in this Debate. It is in everyone's mind at the moment that to get away from the murders and on to the facts that will bring about a solution is the thing that really matters. What I have said about South Africa, what I have said about Egypt, and what I have suggested in the way of a truce, are, at any rate, three schemes which it is worth while to try—very much more worth while than pursuing the present system of reprisals.
The hon. Member who has just sat down charged me with having such a meticulous mind that I could not see the whole of the problem with which he was dealing. I do not think that my mind is so very meticulous, but I do confess to having a love for accuracy, and I do not think it is accurate to say that the British Government is pressing upon Ireland as a whole with a heavy hand. A great part of Ireland is peaceable. It is only in certain parts of Ireland that the problems which we are discussing arise, and it is only in those districts where outrages are committed against the police and the military that the Government of this country—very properly, in my opinion—presses with a heavy hand in order that the terrorism may be removed. The hon. Member for Falls (Mr. Devlin)—I am sorry that he is not in his place—made a speech which has been properly described as very eloquent. Like other speeches made by him and his colleagues, it filled me with a certain amount of bewilderment. The hon. Member for Falls said, and I have no doubt that he was saying it in all sincerity, that he did not propose to come forward as the champion of either the police or the military or those who fought against them, but that, as I understood him, he desired to be impartial as between these contending parties. He said that he spoke from the stand point of a representative of the civil population of Ireland. In that case, why does he, and why did some of his colleagues the other day, take it upon themselves to resent so bitterly the suggestion that certain documents had been captured from the Sinn Fein leaders, and go so far as to characterise those documents as having been concocted in Dublin Castle, and as being lies? Why should the hon. Member for Falls and the other Nationalist Members who, as I fully believe, are not in sympathy with Sinn Fein, take it upon themselves to become, I will not say the champions, but the defenders of the Sinn Fein leaders? Why should they say, for example, the other day, when I asked a question about the spread of typhoid and glanders by the Sinn Fein leaders, and when documents were read out which had been captured by the military or police from those very Sinn Fein leaders—why should these hon. Gentlemen, who are Members of the Nationalist party and who are not in sympathy with Sinn Fein, at once say that those documents were concoctions? Again, to-day, the Chief Secretary read out some very important documents, and the hon. Member for Falls at once, without inquiry, denounced them as lies. I think it is very extraordinary that these Gentlemen who, as I really believe, are averse from Sinn Fein, should take up the position of defenders of the Sinn Fein leaders, and of disputers of the authenticity of these documents.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley is not here, because, I was also puzzled by a remark which he made this afternoon. He was referring to the outrages which had been committed in Ireland upon the military and the police, and he added, "the vast majority of which were without excuse." I cannot understand why he should have used those qualifying words, "the vast majority." I cannot suppose that the right hon. Gentleman intended to imply that there were a certain number of murders of police and military which were justified, but I think it will be seen that those words lead to some ambiguity, which, I am sure, he did not intend. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say what I think most of us believe, namely, that large and generous allowances must be made for the soldiers and police in Ireland, who are in a very difficult and dangerous position. That is exactly the point which has been made by the Chief Secretary, and by others, but it seems to me that it is being lost sight of by those hon. Members who are such very severe critics of the soldiers and police. It seems to me that there are some hon. Members in this House who, whenever they want to examine the action of the soldiers and police, examine them with a microscope, but who, whenever their attention is directed to the crimes which are committed against the soldiers and police, seem to look at those crimes through the wrong end of a telescope. Surely, in a case of this kind, we ought to try and look, both upon the provocation and upon such reprisals as take place, through fair eyes, without endeavouring to blink the position on the one side or the other. No doubt there have been reprisals, and I, for one, am not going to support them. I do not approve of illegal reprisals of any sort; I think they are bad for the discipline of the forces of the Crown. On the other hand, I do believe that there is such a thing as human nature, and that men may be placed in such a position that, as the Chief Secretary read out to-day, they go practically mad. When the officers of those men do, as we are told, and as I believe they did, all that they can within reasonable limits to curb those men and bring them back to discipline, I do not think that much more can be said in condemnation of it.
It has been said that it was popular to take up the side of the soldiers and police, and perhaps that may be true. I believe that the great mass of people in this country do realise—at all events I realise—that those soldiers and police in Ireland are very largely recruited from the ex-service men to whom we owe so much for the winning of the War. We have only to take up any paper, belonging to any political party, to be reminded, and properly reminded, day after day of ail that we owe to those ex-service men. Yes, but when they enlist in the Army and go to Ireland, when they join the police force, they are gibed at as Black and Tans. Some hon. Members of this House seem to have "Black and Tan" on the brain. You hear them gibe repeatedly at those ex-service men, and suggest, some of them—it is a terrible thing—that those ex-service men, those British soldiers who are now in Ireland in the police or in the military forces, are really inhuman brutes. What else can be the meaning of the suggestions that we have heard frequently lately that they shot a woman with a child at her breast, who was pregnant and was about to become a mother?
I agree, she was shot. But is there any hon. Member who has the temerity to say that these British soldiers or policemen deliberately shot at that woman, or knew that she had a child at her breast, or that she was pregnant?
Charges are continually being made, not in words, but by suggestion, that our soldiers and policemen in Ireland are deliberately guilty of the most inhuman crimes.
I am not referring to the hon. Member. Perhaps he will allow me to proceed without interruption. It was only yesterday suggested that a boy of ten had been bayonetted by British soldiers in Ireland. That has turned out to be another of those mare's nests into which so many of my hon. Friends fall at times when they rely upon information they receive from Ireland. It was suggested again about this woman who was sitting on a wall that the soldiers fired at her. That we know is absolutely untrue. These regrettable incidents hap pened and they are bound to happen. When a conflict is going on the innocent neutral is very often the person who suffers. We had an illustration of this, unfortunately, in this House last Monday, when there was something in the nature of a fracas, and when, among the Members who were taking part in it, a perfectly innocent Member, I believe, was the only one who received a severe blow in the face. It always happens when there are conflicts that innocent people suffer.
But in order to realise the provocation under which our soldiers and the police in Ireland suffer it is necessary that we should sometimes try to put ourselves in their place and realise what happens. Take these ambushes of which we have heard so much lately. What takes place? Some soldiers, we will say in a military motor-car, are going along a quiet country road. There is nothing to indicate that they are in any danger. There are a few peaceful civilians working in a field. There is nothing to alarm them. Suddenly something stirs, a shot rings out, a soldier falls dead, more shots ring out, the whole party on the lorry, as has happened in some cases, are killed or wounded, and when perhaps only one remains they are surrounded by seventy or a hundred armed men who disarm them, take their uniforms, rifles and cartridges, and leave them there: some dead, some wounded, some disabled, and all humiliated. That has happened in greater or less degree to the military and the police, and as it has happened since 30th June last 139 times is it surprising that when these men, going along on their lorry, see something unexpected they should jump to the conclusion, in the state of nervous tension in which they are, that this is the prelude to an attack upon their lives, and that in self-defence and as a precautionary measure they should shoot hurriedly at something that appears to them at first sight dangerous and yet may only turn out to be a woman with a child at her breast, a helpless and innocent party. Will anyone dare to say the men do not regret that as much as any hon. Member in this House? It is enough that these men in Ireland, who are the servants of the House, should be risking their lives in doing their duty without hon. Members blackening their reputation. I hope this is the last we have heard of these contemptible suggestions that British men in the service of the Crown and in their duty to this House are guilty intentionally of inhuman and discreditable conduct.
The suggestion has been pressed forward that there should be an impartial, possibly a judicial, tribunal to investigate these charges. That has been made more than once, but no tribunal, be it judicial or otherwise, can arrive at a conclusion without taking evidence. It would be under present conditions impossible to get impartial evidence. Take the attitude of the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin). When something was produced before him he simply said, "I do not believe it." He shut his eyes. He was prepared to give evidence on the other side, and I am sure the hon. Member is an excellent specimen of the better class of people in the disturbed districts of Ireland. What evidence could be got in those disturbed districts? There would, of course, be the evidence of the police themselves. Their evidence would probably be in favour of the Government case. In any case the Government can get the evidence of the police and of the soldiers without the slightest difficulty. There is no need to set up any tribunal to get that evidence. Upon whom else could the tribunal depend? They could go to people who are, let us say, disguised Sinn Feiners. By that I mean not people who are openly and actively engaged in Sinn Fein propaganda. It is incredible that any tribunal would go to those people for evidence. They would have to go to people who were supposed to be impartial. Those people might or might not be disguised Sinn Feiners, but in any case, even if they were not, even if they were people who had strong leanings against Sinn Fein, what evidence would those people dare to give? They would know perfectly well that if they gave evidence which would exculpate the police and the soldiery and put the blame on the Sinn Feiners their lives and their property would be in danger. How can you expect people in conditions like that to give true evidence? I am not suggesting that the Irish people, of whom I am one, are bigger liars than other people, but I believe any man, when his life is in danger if he gives certain evidence, is pretty well bound either to hold his tongue to withhold some evidence he could give or to colour the evidence which he is forced to give.
Let me give as an example in proof of that what happened the other day in connection with a British journalist who was in Ireland, a gentleman of high position in the journalistic world, who, I have no doubt, is in normal circumstances as truthful as any of us. Here is the account taken from the paper which sent him to Ireland to report. This gentleman, it is said, was accosted by some of the police and they asked his name and what paper he represented, and the account says:
Mr. Martin deciding to lie boldly mentioned the name of a Coalition newspaper.
Why did he lie boldly? Because he thought his life was in danger. That is exactly my point.
I do not see that this has much bearing on the case, but here is my newspaper cutting—
Mr. Martin's account of the threat by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary to
do for him was told in a message published in the 'Daily News.'
And it goes on to say that Mr. Martin's account is confirmed by Mr. Macgregor in a message published in the "Evening News." I am not bringing any charge against this gentleman, who, I believe, is as truthful and honest as any of us, but the point I am endeavouring to make is, what is the use of setting up an impartial tribunal to consider evidence which people dare not give for fear of their lives? I submit that an impartial inquiry of this kind is in the circumstances absolutely impossible. I also submit that such an impartial inquiry as is suggested could only have the effect of crippling the forces in Ireland which are opposed to Sinn Fein and are endeavouring to remove the terrorism which deprives a large number of respectable people of the freedom to which they are entitled, which prevents them telling the truth, and prevents them expressing their sympathy, as I believe they would like to do, with the constables and troops and His Majesty's Government.
The last speaker seems, like one or two who preceded him, to think that we who support the Motion on the Paper are unduly critical of the position in which the military unfortunately find themselves to-day. I would like to dissociate myself entirely from the suggestion which seems to have animated these expressions of opinion, and I may point to the fact that we do not associate ourselves with the charges which are sometimes made in other directions relative to the military at the present moment. We have no desire to enter into any spleen or abuse so far as the military are concerned. Neither do we agree that they are deserving of the epithets in which some people indulge, or should be regarded as savages or murderers. Rather do we desire to associate ourselves to the fullest possible extent with what has been said to-day as to all the unhappy episodes of the last week-end. We condemn outrage and abhor assassination, and the Labour party has never condoned them, but has denounced in emphatic terms the callous and brutal assassinations of British citizens, whether they are civil or military. There is no moral justification for resorting to such distressing outrages as those which we have unfortunately witnessed during the past few days, but while we express this, the party for which I have the honour to speak views with growing alarm end deepening disapproval the reprisals which seem to be becoming more acceptable as the days go by and which are the latest phase of military domination in Ireland.
Such practices are utterly at variance with the deep moral spirit of the British people. Outrages are an evil which are employed in a good cause, and that good cause is the freedom of Ireland. Reprisals are an equal evil, which seem to be employed in an unworthy cause, and that unworthy cause is the forcible subjection of the Irish people. But it does not seem to be possible, except on the highest moral grounds, to judge of outrages or reprisals apart from the main question of the Irish demand for full freedom. These reprisals and outrages are incidents horrible and unhappy to the fullest possible extent, but they are closely related to the refusal of the British Government to deal generously with the demand of the overwhelming number of the Irish people for the right to determine their own affairs in their own particular way. May we just for a moment look to the sequence of events which has led to the present state of affairs? First, there has been a denial of the rights of Ireland and a continued refusal by the British Parliament to recognise the nationality of the Irish and to remove those restrictions on the national freedom which have been imposed and maintained during a long period against the passive or active resistance of the bulk of the Irish people. In the second place, there have been coercion and military repressions, and the repeated efforts of the present Government forcibly to maintain resistance against Ireland and bring out the state of dependence upon and subordination to the Parliament of this country. Then there have been the outrages, to which such frequent allusion has been made, and then we get this period of reprisals, which have also been referred to in every speech. The sequence of events which have to be dealt with at the present moment is the result of the four factors which I have mentioned, and we have a vicious circle. Every new outrage brings fresh reprisals, and every fresh reprisal brings further outrages. We are now in the middle of this vicious circle of reprehensible acts committeed by either side, which are made the excuse for lawlessness by the other side. I am not suggesting that this may be the view of the present Government. Neither do I suggest that it may be the view of the revolutionary troops who are at present in Ireland, but it must be maintained that these are two very essential facts which we have got to keep in mind.
But there is one particular reason why I have ventured to intervene in the Debate. That is because of outrages which have been connected with the destruction of great printing works in Ireland. I am associated with that great profession on this side of the Channel. I have raised this question before in the House at various times, and the answers given have been far from satisfactory. We have been twitted with the statement that we are not able to bring concrete cases in support of our allegations, nor to submit tangible evidence to support our claim that the Government should make strenuous efforts towards securing a more peaceful state of affairs in Ireland. I am therefore constrained to restate some of the particulars which we desire to have cleared up, and to secure a promise of justice for the victims of these outrages. So far as the attacks on printing offices are concerned, it cannot be said that the trouble has occurred recently. In June last we first raised the question. In that month, at the "Weekly-Observer" printing works, Newcastle West, an outrage was committed, of which no satisfactory explanation has yet been given. I will come to more recent events. I have been supplied with information from officials of my trade union in Ireland, and they make definite statements that armed forces of the Crown— they do not say uniformed men— were responsible for an outrage committed on the premises of the "Galway Express," when a large quantity of machinery was dismantled or entirely broken up and a number of workmen were thrown out of employment. What steps have been taken in connection with these accusations? Have any attempts been made to prove their accuracy or otherwise, and, if so, when was the inquiry held? Is it not a fact that, after the outrage at these works, the proprietors of the newspaper published a single-sheet edition, calling upon the people in the town to maintain an attitude of restraint and to keep as cool as they could, whatever provocation they had to undergo?
Can the Government state whether, in connection with this outrage, an English military officer, who is said to have witnessed the murder of John Mulloy by, it is alleged, a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary, offered to give evidence, and that he stated further that the policeman was undoubtedly the aggressor in this case. Have any steps been taken to procure the evidence of that military officer, and has any inquiry been conducted into the outrage? I come next to the outrage when two Irish members of the Typographical Association were arrested in Galway by the authorities, were detained in custody for some days, and were released without any charge being made against them. Can the right hon. Gentleman state whether any compensation was applied for, and, if so, whether it has been refused? The men were released after imprisonment for two or three days, and I think the evidence submitted shows that the arrests were entirely unwarranted. The men were following their purely technical work in the production of a newspaper, and we have a right to demand that a full explanation shall be given and some reparation made to them. Next we come to the town of At-lone, where an attempt was made on 17th October to burn down printing works. The statement is repeated by those who send us the information that armed forces of the Crown were responsible for the outrage. I ask the Chief Secretary whether any attempts were being made to ensure sufficient protection for the property. I was assured by the right hon. Gentleman that every effort was being made by his Department to secure protection for all property which was likely to be attacked. There seems little warrant for that statement, for another attempt was made on the Athlone printing works on 3rd November, and again the statement is made that armed forces of the Crown were responsible. Despite the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman, the destruction of the works was complete.
The Chief Secretary told us that inquiries of this kind were made extremely difficult by the unwillingness of the local people to assist the police in their investigations. In view of the letter I have before me I dispute the statement that the local people in Athlone place any obstacles in the way of the authorities. I can substantiate that statement by a further letter from the official of the Athlone branch of my trade union. He is prepared to state that so far as the employés of the firm were concerned, in spite of the fact that curfew was in operation, they went to the works and attempted to stem the fire. With the removal of the curfew practically the whole of the staff were rendering assistance in trying to stop the entire destruction of the works. Our main desire is not to indulge in a complete recital of all the little things which have been happening, but rather, in the spirit of the Motion on the Paper, to assist, as far as we can, to bring an end to this period of disorder and outrage. We feel, however, that we are entitled, in representing certain sections of the industrial workers in Ireland, people who are not associated in any way with the disorder or with the political elements which it is said are responsible for all that is happening—we are entitled to ask that some larger measure of protection shall be given to people who are peacefully following their occupation. If, as a result of the outrages, they are thrown out of employment will any consideration be given to the question of compensation? These are people who have been entirely guiltless of any offence, so far as they are personally concerned. It has been shown that these works have been entirely and wilfully destroyed by some force or another. I think the Government under those circumstances should provide full maintenance for those out of employment and innocent of any offence or crime. The Minister of Labour is said to be responsible for this matter, and I hope incidentally that he may see fit to reconsider the decision which he has come to that these people are not entitled to any assistance outside the ordinary channels which at present apply to this particular class of work.
May I ask whether any specific steps have been taken to trace those responsible for the outrages so far as printing trade works are concerned? If so, what result has followed the inquiries, and will protection be given to this industry in the future? I would like to pursue the subject by asking whether it has been laid down as part of the policy of the Government to try and stop the spread of information by permitting the breaking up of some of the printing presses which may not be favourable to the point of view which the Government desires to put. If that is the policy and if men are to be rendered incapable of following their ordinary and peaceful occupations, then I believe such methods will assuredly and deservedly fail now as they failed in the dark ages of the past. The stupidity of permitting the destruction of these works should be at once apparent to all concerned. We have no reason to doubt the law-abiding characteristics of the citizens either of Gal way or of Athlone, or of the pressmen concerned in the production of these journals. It may be that they have been critical of the Government, and rightly so, but I do not think it can be claimed that they have in the least degree abused the freedom of the great profession with which they are associated, and neither have they misused the great power which they have at hand so far as the Press of Ireland is concerned. On the other hand, I think it can be distinctly and rightly claimed that they have been a restraining influence in trying to prevent disorders and to keep the people cool, calm, and collected. The failure of the Government machinery to act on the request made to protect these particular works has resulted in hundreds of innocent people being unnecessarily and unduly punished.
For the time being I think we shall have to agree that it looks as if Sinn Fein and the Irish Administration appear to have lost sight altogether of the fundamental issues involved, and seem to be more concerned in giving effect to a policy which demands an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. What we want first of all is to try and make an effort to bring about a truce which can be honourably observed. There is every likelihood of outrages and reprisals continuing until one side or other, or both, is satisfied of the destructive results of the policy of frightfulness which they are continuing. This truce can be accepted and maintained if the right spirit is brought into operation. It is not now merely a question of describing this vicious circle of reprisals and outrages. The Labour party are more concerned to cut and destroy that vicious circle and to bring to an end both outrages and reprisals as the first step towards finding a peaceful solution of all Irish problems. A fight to a finish will not bring us any nearer a settlement which is urgent. It seems to me to be of little use for the Chief Secretary to constantly reiterate that the Government have the murder gang by the throat. The events of Dublin of last week show that they have neither murder by Sinn Feiners by the throat nor indiscriminate shootings by their own forces under their control. Outrages go on seemingly unchecked and reprisals continue almost uncontrolled. Civil control has almost entirely broken down, and military discipline has apparently deteriorated now to an extremely dangerous degree. We want to ask that the Prime Minister shall act promptly in this connection. We want him to get into touch if he will with some of the accredited leaders who can act for the Irish people The present condition and unhappy state of affairs docs not permit of delay. We of the Labour party feel that the Government should be prepared to take a bold line in existing circumstances. Is there any objection to the Government inviting, say, Mr. Arthur Griffith and his associates, to come to a conference for the purpose of trying to find a solution of the problem which is now confronting both sides. That would probably find a way to the truce which people are asking for at present. Until that truce has been reached it will be quite impossible to proceed to a permanent settlement of the Irish problem.
So far as the Labour party are concerned, we stand by the conclusions which have animated us in the representations which have been made on this question and in being associated with the Motion before the House. In the first place, we would reiterate the demand for the withdrawal of all the armed forces which are at present in Ireland. We would place the responsibility for maintaining order in each locality in Ireland, as in Great Britain outside the Metropolitan area, on all the local authorities themselves. We would ask that provision should be made for the immediate election by proportional representation of entirely open constituent assembly. We feel that in the acceptance of these proposals which have been put forward by the Labour party, and in the terms of the Motion, there may be found a way leading to a settlement of this unfortunate and unhappy business. We ask you to withdraw the troops because that seems to be the most essential and com- monsense step to take. The Irish people must be given liberty, and with that liberty they will more readily recognise their responsibilities. Democratic principles must be once more restored, and fully recognised so far as the Irish people are concerned. Without those things being done, there seems nothing to hope for but a continuance of the present state of anarchy and disorder which must inevitably become worse as the days go by. Under the conditions which we are asking we see the opportunity for the abandonment of tyranny and the exercise of full freedom in its place. We wish to see an end to violence on both sides. We want to see the Government facing this question boldly, and putting an end to the state of frenzy to which the country has been plunged, trusting Irish democracy to rise again to the heights which it once occupied in the history of the world, and in that way bringing back an era of peace, prosperity, and contentment which moderate-minded people in Ireland are asking for to day and which is securing the full support of equally moderate-minded people on this side.
There are two points I should like to make in this Debate. The Chief Secretary laid emphasis on the important effect of events in Ireland on American public opinion, and perhaps, as one who through long residence in the States has had the opportunity of close association, particularly among the democratic party in the States, who are familiar with the articulate expression of opinion such as is represented in the Press on this side of American opinion, it might not be out of place to lay emphasis on the present position of feeling in the more active political circles in America on the Irish question as it appeals to the rank and file there to-day. There is little doubt that opinion to-day is a good deal different from what it was twelve months ago. Probably it will be admitted by all who are familial' with the States that there is a more ready realisation that the British Government has got to the point when it is oblige I to deal in a strong manner with the situation in Ireland. I was very much impressed, talking in recent weeks with men who a year ago were ready to condemn the British Government, mainly for its delay in handling the situation and in coming to some solution, having within a year changed ground in a very remark- able manner and realised that the trend of events in Ireland left no alternative to the Government but to take a strong line.
I would like to take the opportunity of this Debate of appealing to the Government to attempt in a more deliberate manner than has been followed up to the present to represent to the American public, through the American Press, the true state of affairs in Ireland. It would seem that that could be done by a more effective invitation to the leading newspapers in the States to send over here impartial reporters, who would be given the opportunity of seeing the situation as it is, and of being able, with that advantage, to present a true picture to the American public, who would in that way be less inclined to accept without question malicious misrepresentations, so wilfully false, so incredibly misleading, that any Englishman who finds himself in the States must regret that there is not more done in the way of presenting a picture, first, of the difficulties under which government in Ireland is carried out, and then of truly recording the process by which outrages against the established order are dealt with in Ireland. I feel sure that public opinion at the present moment, particularly in the Eastern States, and more particularly in Massachusetts, which has a larger Irish population than any other State of the Union, would find assistance, encouragement, and support in some such line being taken by the Government if possible to present this through the Press.
The other point which I want to make is the impression which one receives from the critics of the Government disagreeing with the unflinching attitude taken by the Chief Secretary in laying down that the Government policy will be one of proceeding along the lines which are being followed at the present moment against the actions of this gang of assassins. Unquestionably that policy will receive strong encouragement among all the English elements in the States. The public there will admire the action of the Government, and Anglo-American relations will undoubtedly be improved. As one of many who, from familiarity with American conditions, would give a great deal to see Anglo-American relations improved, I feel that this is the surest way in which the respect which the American will and always does feel for strong gov- ernment can most effectively be assisted, and the opinion from that will grow in the States that Americans should mind their own business and that the administration of Ireland is a matter purely of domestic policy and not one which should enter into the sphere of domestic politics in the States. If one example by analogy might be of service at this moment in encouraging the Government in the line they are taking, it would perhaps not be improper to reflect that the last presidential election has given to the American public the opportunity of endorsing the line of strong government. Governor Coolidge, of Massachusetts, who was returned as Vice-President in the last election, was relatively unknown until an unfortunate strike occurred in the Boston, Massachusetts, police force. There was a great deal of disorder, looting, and rioting, but instantly he took strong action, two people were shot, all the strikers were dismissed, and none of them were taken back. The effect of it was that the American people admired strong action. Undoubtedly that contributed a great deal to the weight of President Harding's election. Vice-President Coolidge succeeded in carrying some States which had never been carried by the Republican Party since the Civil War. If you want evidence of strong feeling throughout a great democracy, there is that instance of the election of President Harding at the last election as a result of the support, he received from Vice-President Coolidge. One was impressed by the appeal made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland to the Roman Catholic Church as to the line they should take in this situation. There is no question about it, that the Roman Catholic Church has made a very difficult situation in regard to public opinion on this question in the States, and if a definite line were taken by the Roman Catholic Church tremendous influence would undoubtedly result in the actual situation in Ireland, and that influence would be felt throughout the United States.
I have been very struck by the speech of the hon. and gallant Member to which we have just listened, and, so far as I can gather, he is advocating the same methods which are being used in Ireland in this country in case of need. He told us that the Vice-President-Elect, Mr. Coolidge, in Massachusetts carried the election very largely because he shot strikers, dismissed them and altogether used the iron heel in the State where there was trouble.
I gathered so much, and I rather think that a number of people in this country, who ought to know better, are supporting methods, which are irregular and indiscriminate, of frightfulness in Ireland, because they think that these auxiliary police and so on, who have been armed in Ireland and made callous by the burning of towns, villages, and so forth, may become extremely useful in this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who said that?"] Nobody said that, but a good many people who ought to know better are looking rather with a lenient eye on what is going on in Ireland to-day, because they think this British edition of a White Guard would become useful in this country under certain circumstances. I think they are making a very great mistake. I have at times in this country, especially at the time of the General Election, despaired of constitutional government, but I have, at any rate, since I have been in this House, done my very best to work the constitutional machine; in fact, in one Session in this House I actually spoke more columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT—
—and, as the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone reminds me, I have asked more questions than other hon. Members. So that I do not think I can be accused of not using the constitutional machine. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wearing it out!"] I have tried to use it honestly, and I look with the greatest horror on the idea of frightfulness being used to crush opinion. I am afraid that the temptation to use these forces may be very great in certain eventualities in this country, and that the people of this country, once they are aroused, are going to be very, very dangerous to their oppressors, as has been shown in the past. I want to put it to hon. Members who stand for property in this House—[An HON. MEMBER: "Who are they?"]—I do not wish to be provocative at all. I do not want to offend any hon. Member's feelings, but imagine a Labour Government in power in this country. The Lord Chancellor in another place said he himself could not guarantee that such a Government would not come into power within 20 years. Imagine that Government bringing in very drastic legislation for the confiscation of property, and imagine some form of passive resistance or intense constitutional political agitation in this country. It would be perfectly easy to recruit a specialised army from the many ex-service men who have been embittered by their experiences since demobilisation, who would introduce into this country the same methods of terrorism which we complain of being used as an active Government policy for Ireland.
For that reason, and no other, I would ask hon. Members, before they condemn us, as they do, for criticising the Government policy in Ireland, to recollect that once you start unconstitutional action, once you start methods of terrorism to carry out your political theories, you are starting a circle which may come right round and catch you. I commend that view of this problem to hon. Members opposite. The speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Bradford (Lieut.-Colonel Willey), I think, rather confirms me in that opinion. There is very great danger in these methods of force, and a very mighty Empire that rested on a greater military machine than ours found that out not very long ago. I want, as I say, to hurt no one's feelings in this matter, and I do not think that hon. Members can accuse me, after one or two speeches I have made on this subject, in any way of condoning the murder of the servants of the Crown in Ireland. The Chief Secretary very unfairly, in answer to a question of mine to-day, accused me of describing the murder of police as shooting. A few days ago, when I gave notice of the Question, one of the policemen had not died. If I had known he had died, I should certainly have described it as murder, as I have in every other question. As hon. Members know, I have condemned the murder of servants of the Crown strongly in this House and outside. I have never disguised it, but where I differ from hon. Members opposite is in this—I equally condemn murder by servants of the Crown, and there have been cases of murder by servants of the Crown, and the Chief Secretary has admitted it at that box, but he had to be reminded on each occasion on which he spoke, once by myself on the last occasion, and on this occasion by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). I criticise murder from whatever source it comes.
We have all been shocked—the whole country has been shocked—by the terrible disaster that took place in Dublin on Sunday, in the murder of officers, who were killed in some cases in the presence of their wives. No words are strong enough to express our abhorrence. We are rightly shocked, but Irish people a few days previously were equally shocked by an almost similar state of affairs in the City of Cork. Let me describe what happened. On 17th November a sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, James O'Donoghue, was foully murdered in the street by three men who, I believe, came up in the usual way in civilian clothes, and shot him. That night—and my authority is the Special Correspondent of the "Times" newspaper—three men were murdered in the presence of their wives and children by uniformed men, who the relatives stated positively, were servants of the Crown, and who described themselves, in at least one case, as being military when they knocked at the doors for the purpose of breaking into these men's dwelling-houses. They murdered three and wounded two others. Do hon. Members condemn that?
This was in the middle page of the "Times," and most hon. Members read the "Times." Was there any condemnation of any sort of that? I Tabled a question on it, but I did not see any question put by hon. Members opposite. I do not think there were any protests of any sort. We condemn murder, but do they condemn that kind of murder? Is there any difference between the murder of an Irishman in Cork, in the presence of his wife and children, and the murder of an English officer in Dublin in the presence of his wife? This is stated by a responsible English newspaper. If it is not true, why is not that journal prosecuted? Do not hon. Members think that when the "Times" newspaper quotes a case of this sort, in which uniformed officers of the Crown are charged with committing the crime that that will not be reported in all the anti-English journals in the United States and throughout the world? Why, then, are these stories not scotched, and if the stories are untrue why is not the paper prosecuted? Or is it true? If so, why is an inquiry into it shirked? I want to know the truth of these matters.
That is one case. There are many others, but I do not want to harrow the feelings of the House. There was the case of a man seventy years old, dragged from his house, and shot. It is declared emphatically by the relations of that man that it was done by uniformed men. I want to describe how these things happen. A number of these men who are our servants in Ireland are quite young men. I make no attack upon them as ex-soldiers or as policemen; they are like the rest of us, only human, and as hon. Members have said—and I quite agree— in many cases they are subject to terrible and maddening provocation. Into this atmosphere what has the Government done? They produce the "Weekly Summary" to which reference has been made. I want to refer to one particular passage in "Weekly Summary," No. 12. I put a question about it to-day. The Chief Secretary refused to answer and referred me to an unsatisfactory answer of a week ago. I wanted to know whether it is the fact that in this "Weekly Summary," No. 12, there was reported a resolution of a so-called anti-Sinn Fein society, the Lismore branch. I do not know what that society is. I am informed that it is a spectre, and that there is no such society or branch at all. It is, however, supposed to have had a meeting and passed a resolution in which it was said that for every member of the forces of the Crown murdered two Sinn Feiners would be killed, or if they could not be found, then in their place three sympathisers of Sinn Fein, and that this would apply to clergy and laity alike whatever their denomination; also if any attempt was made to kill any servants of the Crown a Sinn Feiner would be killed, or else if one was not available two sympathisers would be killed. That resolution published in the "Weekly Summary" was sent to every barracks in Ireland, and these young recruits would read it—these young men living in this super-heated atmosphere. Hon. Members may laugh, but I call that incitement to murder. Hon. Members may laugh, but I have never been called upon to defend incitement to murder before my constituents.
Am I to be charged, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, with being liable because of a remark I never made, and the suggestion made that I may be called upon to defend incitement to murder before my constituents. As a matter of fact I made no comment at all, but only happened to be sitting next to a hon. Member who happened to laugh at the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, which, I think, is a very forgivable offence.
It may be that I made a remark that was laughable, but I do not think the subject is at all laughable. If this quotation in the "Weekly Summary" is not a forgery, and that is not suggested, then I say it is incitement to murder, and the Members of the Government responsible for that journal are guilty of incitement to murder. If, as a result of that, these men in Cork whom I have described—and that is only one of many unfortunate cases— were murdered, then the Government are accessories before the fact. There is no getting away from that.
This matter is getting worse and worse. It ought to be brought home. I understood the discussion this afternoon was to be with reference to the threatened stoppage on the greater part of the Irish system. We all know, and the Government know, that the Irish railwaymen refused to carry munitions and soldiers, and in view of the terrorism, I really think if we can excuse the acts of the men, however illegal, on the ground of human nature, then on the same ground the Irish railwaymen are to be pitied and sympathised with. They are being dismissed, the number at the present time, I believe, being something like 5,000. The whole of the railways in the South-west of Ireland are threatened with stoppage. That will produce terrible effects. These effects have been produced over great areas of Russia by the breakdown of the transport system there, and it will be so in Ireland. The Government, it is said, are going to stop motor traffic, because, it is said, motor cars are used for the murder of policemen. I quite agree, but is it the considered policy of this Government— and does this Parliament endorse it— that the innocent should be punished along with the guilty? That is a doctrine that I, with great respect, submit was made obsolete nearly 2,000 years ago. To revive it now is to stultify all the pretentions of our so-called civilisation, all the progress we have made in government and in human relations. Something of the kind was tried in the reign of Queen Elizabeth by Lord-Deputy Chichester. I am trying to show that this sort of thing was tried before and failed.
Three hundred years ago this policy of trying to break down the people by starvation was tried and failed. Lord-Deputy Chichester then said:
I have often said and written, it is famine that must consume the Irish, as our swords and other endeavours work not that speedy effect which is expected. Hunger would be better because a speedier weapon to employ against them than the sword.
That policy was tried by Lord Deputy Chichester in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the Irish problem is still with us, and it will remain with us even if we wipe out every man, woman, and child in Ireland. Hon. Members opposite think that if they can terrorise and exterminate the activist party in Ireland they can solve the problem, but that will not settle it. Perhaps with modern methods of chemical warfare they could destroy everyone in the South of Ireland. Even then the problem would remain, because there are more Irishmen in foreign countries than there are in Ireland. We on this side of the House feel strongly about the present negation of government and justice which is going on in Ireland. The Chief Secretary quoted the case of one of the creameries which had been destroyed, and the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) was twitted with not having documented his speech. Hon. Members have heard what the Chief Secretary said
about the Ballymacelligott creamery. The right hon. Gentleman declared that the troops were fired on and ambushed. I hold in my hand a letter from Father Trant, the parish priest of Ballymacelligott, written from the Presbytery, Ballymacelligott, and dated 15th November. I ask hon. Members to listen to this letter and compare it with the statement made by the Chief Secretary, compiled from his officers' reports:
Thanks very much for your kind letter of sympathy. I was away all day and have only a moment before post leaves to send you a hurried line. On Friday about 11 o'clock seven or eight lorries drew up at the creamery. The manager, Mr. Byrne, and staff were at work as usual. Two or three farmers were there on business. All ran away through fear of arrest or worse. The police opened fire killing one of the staff and a farmer, and wounding severely the engine-driver, who is not expected to recover. Another boy had his arm shattered. Mr. Byrne escaped the volleys, but when captured would apparently have been shot had the lieutenant in charge of the military not intervened.
I am informed that Father Trant is a clergyman of the greatest integrity, and no one would think of doubting his bona fides. In his letter he goes on to say:
About 4 p.m., five cars with armed police, accompanied by a journalist and photographers, arrived from C. Island. The police opened fire on young men who were on the road some distance away, and on others who ran from the manager's house, where they were visiting those wounded previously. It appears that some of these young men were armed, and returned fire to cover their retreat. On neither occasion was there an ambush or anything of the kind. The doctor in attendance on the wounded and five of those standing by were taken prisoners. Next morning, Saturday, about half the creamery was burned, but most of the machinery escaped injury.
This account by Father Trant entirely differs from the account which has been given to us by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The account given by the right hon. Gentleman of this incident was heard by the House, and Father Trant, who, I believe, is a gentleman of the highest character, gives an entirely different account. [An HON. MEMBER: "Was Father Trant there at the time?"]
The hon. and gallant Member (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) has made a long speech, but it has been greatly lengthened by hon. Members' interruptions. I think it would be better to allow the hon. and gallant Member to state his case.
Father Trant has written that letter, and he does not state whether he was there or not. He is on the spot and, at any rate, it is not a tainted source. I can document all the statements I have made to-night. I have sworn affidavits— they may be forgeries, but I shall take them as evidence until they are disproved. I have a sworn affidavit from a poor woman who has had her house burned down. I have sent the right hon. Gentleman a number of these cases for investigation, and they are as good statements of evidence as we can get, and I maintain that they justify our case for an inquiry. The Chief Secretary stood for a by-election at Sunderland, and he won a very great victory, but he did not win it on coercion. I have here statement after statement made by him at the election declaring that he was in favour of bringing friendship and goodwill to Ireland, and the restoration of peace. He was continually heckled in regard to his policy towards Ireland, and all he said was that he was in favour of friendship, brotherhood and peace to that unhappy island. His speech to-night has given the lie to those declarations.
Hon. Members opposite approve of this policy of frightfulness, and they accuse us of besmirching the honour of the military. We hear in this House the harrowing details of the massacre of the Armenians, but we do not hear one word of the assassination of the Turkish police in Armenia. We hear nothing from hon. Members about the reprisals and outrages in Ireland which our own forces commit. It may be possible for the Chief Secretary to comfort the House of Commons with a speech like that which he has delivered to-day, but it is not easy for him to comfort public opinion outside and throughout the world. I want now to read what the Prime Minister said in December, 1900, at the time of the Boer War, a case which was on all fours with the position in Ireland to-day. Here are his words:
What justice was there in punishing one man for offences committed by others over whom he had no control? The 'clearing of the country' was an even more serious matter than the burning of farms. He wondered how long humanity would stand this attack on women and children. If the War was prolonged, and operations of this character continued, we should not only suffer the shame of these transactions,
but might have to face the intervention of armed humanity. The British army had been engaged in denuding the country of cattle and sheep and the houses of food supplies, and in burning farms. He had made no charges against the British troops who were carrying out orders. But he did blame the statesmen at home, who made it absolutely necessary that the troops should engage in the work which they loathed. He had seen letters from British officers, who said they were disgusted with the work imposed upon them.
I have seen letters from British officers stating how disgusted they are with the work which has been imposed upon them in Ireland. One of these officers were murdered on Sunday morning, and that is the tragedy of the whole thing. If that was right when the Prime Minister said it in 1900 about South Africa, it is even more right to-day about Ireland. After all, we were at war in South Africa; we are not at war in Ireland. I am sorry to have to say it, but I am afraid that there is a counter-murder campaign, to meet the campaign of murder by the Sinn Feiners, encouraged by speeches of the Government and condoned by the Government which was not even attempted in the awful days of the reprisals in South Africa. We destroyed property there, and we interned men and women. In Ireland, to-day, we are not deliberately killing women, but our criminal carelessness is having children killed. Three children were killed at the football ground. We are making war on women and children by driving them out of their houses in terror at night, and we are murdering men by the direct encouragement of this "Weekly Bulletin" which the Chief Secretary defends, and which is being sent to these poor young soldiers and the policemen in their barracks in this awful atmosphere. We are all trying for remedies on this occasion. May I make a suggestion? Is it not possible to get an armistice? I see that Mr. De Valera, speaking in the United States, I think the day before yesterday, declared that if the British troops could be withdrawn there would be peace within twenty-four hours. I do not suggest withdrawing them from Ireland, but cannot they be withdrawn to certain centres where they would be safe and the people round about would be safe? Cannot we come to some understanding with the leaders of Sinn Fein for a week's armistice, at any rate, and stop the reprisals and the murders, and consider a basis for peace? I do not believe we
shall ever satisfy the Irish people unless we deal with them on terms of equality. At present, we are trying to deal with them on terms of conqueror and conquered. We have tried that for 800 years, and failed Cannot we try the other policy, and see if we can succeed?
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD:
I beg to move to leave out from the word "last" ["on Sunday last"] to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:
and thanks the military and police and the other servants of the Crown for the courage and devotion with which they are fulfilling their duty in Ireland in circumstances of unexampled difficulty; and expresses its approval of the steps which are being taken by His Majesty's Government to restore peace in Ireland.
One would gather from the speeches generally delivered to-day that the Debate has been overshadowed by the occurrence last Sunday in Dublin. One would have thought that the atmosphere created by that terrific tragedy would have suggested to those who had been officers in His Majesty's service the necessity of speaking respectfully, at least, of the dead who tried to do their duty. It is strange, however, during the whole of the Debates relating to Ireland, excepting in one case, that the most vindictive speeches with regard to the honour and chivalry of our soldiers have been made by an hon. and gallant Member who was himself an officer. I do not know whether anything happened during the time that the hon. and gallant Member for Hull bore the Commission of the King which caused him to take up this attitude of determined hostility and unfairness towards his former comrades. I hope that nothing of the kind occurred; but it does certainly seem strange to me, coming back again to our British public life, to find the worst said of men who are trying to perform their duty—perhaps not always understanding what the policy of this House may be, but trying to the best of their ability to give expression to that policy, and to carry out the orders that are given to them, and I should have thought that an officer would have left it to others to criticise his former comrades. It is unfair. The suggestion, for instance, in the last remarks of the hon. and gallant Member that our troops and our auxiliaries who recently were troops in the Great War are carrying on a war against women and children is so utterly at variance with the known character of the British officer and soldier that it is im-
possible to conceive that there can be the slightest truth in it. Therefore I say—and I am going to take up a most definite attitude on this subject— that it is necessary for this House not merely to reject this Motion but to give some definite expression of its approval or otherwise of the conduct of our soldiers and our officers and others who are representing law and order in Ireland at the present moment, so as to enable them to have continued confidence.
The Resolution that has been proposed is a composite one drafted by three parties in this House, and naturally each party had to be conciliated. There is no doubt that the first four or five lines are those of the Labour Party—condemn-action of the horrible massacre of our officers in Dublin last Sunday. In my Amendment I intend, with the permission of the House, to allow the Labour portion of the Resolution to remain in. The other part is, in my opinion, purely political. A great deal of this discussion has not really been with the intention of assisting in the solution of the Irish difficulty so much as with the idea of abusing, first of all their political opponents, and in some cases of deliberately attacking the agents who are carrying out the policy of those political opponents. There is no doubt that the idea that we should discuss this subject without too much heat and too much passion on either side—
—should not be forgotten. It is a sort of personal thing to me, and I hope that even my hon. Friends above the Gangway will forgive me if I speak strongly on this subject. It is not so long ago that I found myself in a situation perhaps something similar to that which some of the isolated officers in Ireland may find themselves to-day, when they are bound to take action according as they see the immediate circumstances. It is quite simple, after the period has gone by and you can weigh up and balance the pros and cons of the situation, to say which way you ought to have acted. It is all very well. I could have done that afterwards; but I had to decide at the moment. Unless these officers, generally, can feel certain that they have the confidence of the Executive, whose servants they are; if they think for one moment that there is any kind of hesitancy on the part of the Executive in giving them their confidence in carrying out their onerous and irksome duty; if they think they cannot rely on the Government to give them regular and genuine support in the acts which they perform in carrying out the Government's policy, it will absolutely destroy moral and discipline, and bring an element of uncertainty into the whole force. In fact, no decent officer will act under such circumstances. That is why I regret this Motion to-day. It looks really as though there are men in this country holding important positions, men who have been Ministers of the Crown and have even held the premier position, who are prepared, if occasion arises, to use mere party tactics for the purpose of undermining that confidence which is the first element of order. I am speaking to-night with a sense, not merely of responsibility for the situation as it exists in this country to-day, but by reason of having been in a very similar position to those officers, whom some of you are condemning to-night. It makes one feel much more kindly if he has been through the mill himself. I have been, and I know the difficulties. But in spite of that the situation is such at the present time that if this Government—and I say this most emphatically—if the present Administration were doing nothing but suppressing the people in Ireland, or were out attempting to suppress any kind of opinion in Ireland, if they were making no effort whatever to put forward proposals to deal with the situation under more favourable conditions, then I would hesitate whether I should not even now support the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman above the gangway. Everybody knows well, however, that the Government, as far as it is possible to do so, is using the unique position which it holds to curb the violence of the extremists whom they have on their own side as well as on the other side, so that some measure of self-government may be passed during this Session which it is hoped will at least bring peace to one end of the island, and we trust that, if it secures that, the force of example will be such that it will eventually secure peace at the other end. That is why I am going to do my very best to oppose the Resolution that has been proposed by the right hon. Member for Paisley.
I may say I regret the accusations that have been made, and that is one of the things I stood up for to-night—the accusations that have been made against the ordinary British soldier. I have seen the soldier under many peculiar conditions. It is impossible for an English soldier or a British soldier, in whichever way you describe him, to perform the atrocities that has been alleged against him by some hon. Members in this Debate. It is utterly impossible, and therefore, as one who has seen the British soldier under the most terrific conditions, when it is almost impossible to calculate what you are doing, I say that for anybody to allege that he has driven his bayonet into a pregnant woman, or has deliberately driven his bayonet two or three times into the body of a boy of ten years of age, is a deliberate libel. Of all the heroic figures the world has ever seen I think the most heroic, the most chivalrous, the most honourable is the ordinary British Tommy, and any such suggestions as those I have heard from day to day do those who make them no good, for the simple reason that there is no mother of these boys that you are charging with these offences who will ever admit the truth of them even for a minute. If you were their friends you would know it to be a lie. You know it as a matter of fact, and these false accusations against the British soldier from day to day are not doing the slightest benefit to those who make them. It is neither good propaganda nor common sense from their own point of view, and it only alienates the friends and relatives of these boys to suggest that they would be guilty of any such atrocities. That is one of the reasons why I am delighted to have this opportunity of addressing the House on the Resolution now before it. It is a remarkable fact that the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Resolution has not himself escaped from similar charges. I remember well, when a young man, some colliers being shot at Featherstone at a time when the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Resolution was Home Secretary, and I also remember hearing on Labour platforms all over the country the right hon. Gentleman himself described as the "Butcher of Featherstone."
Therefore for him in the slightest degree to lend his influence to accusation against British soldiers to-day is, I will not say unworthy of him, but I certainly think it rather ungracious to the men who stood by him at that time, and who to-day are defending the honour and interests of the country. We are told that the proper policy is to withdraw the Army, and if that is done the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull says there will be immediate peace. Will there? It is almost like saying that if in the great Campaign we had removed the whole of the troops helter skelter back to some place over the sea we would have had peace in Europe. I think we would have had the whole of Europe overrun by the enemy and we would have had a peace that was worse than war; indeed, most likely the same conditions would have been prevailing to-day. In this case the allegation underlying the whole of the speeches to-day is a suggestion that the Government is suppressing some great popular movement in Ireland, that it is really suppressing some overwhelming majority of Irish opinion. Nearly the whole of the speeches delivered on both sides of the House have suggested that what we are dealing with is a hopeless and unreasonable minority. That is the suggestion made from beginning to end m all the speeches that have so far been delivered. Hence the accusation that we are using our Army for the purpose of suppressing the popular opinion of Ireland is entirely untrue. We cannot possibly withdraw the Army.
The place the Army fills in human society, and will always fill in human society, is a very important one. Hon. Members above the Gangway may not think so now, but there may come a time when they will be on the other side of the House. If it is wrong to use the Army or force now to maintain the authority of the Constitution, it will be equally wrong then. If they are honest in their proposals or in their principles, they are going to make most drastic inroads on the interests of great classes of the community, and if they really carry out their principles logically, as they pretend they are going to do now in propagating them, it is a moral certainty that they will create hostility nearly as vindictive as one sees in Ireland to-day. Is not the Army to be used to maintain their authority and the laws passed by their Administration? Most certainly. If it is not, then you may just as well have never passed the laws. That is the situation you have to face today. The Army, after all, has to receive the kicks. The laws passed by this House and its regulations are so much waste-paper unless behind it all is the potential element of force, to insist upon your decrees. It does not matter whether one side of the House is in power or another—the same principle applies. Hon. Members forget, or perhaps they have not as much confidence as I have, that sooner or later they must be in power. Perhaps they think they never will be in power, but I honestly believe that they will, and therefore it is absolutely stupid of them to take up the peculiar position they do today. The law for the time being must be enforced. Civilisation is, after all, only a thin veneer. Once you take away the restraints of order and law and leave anyone to do just as they like, it is a moral certainty that you are back to the jungle again. Therefore, the only instrument by which the Executive and this House, and through this House the people of the country, can impose its will is by using force when it is impossible to reason with opponents. That is the situation that we have arrived at to-day, and therefore I move this Amendment.
The speech of my hon. and gallant Friend who has just moved the amendment is one to which in most parts I listened with very great regret. Whilst acknowledging that he was moved by sincerity of motive, I most profoundly, and indeed, indignantly repudiate the suggestion which he made that the Liberal party on this side of the House, and in particular my right hon. Friend who moved this Motion, were actuated by feelings of hostility and animosity towards the soldiers of the Crown in Ireland. [An HON. MEMBER: "Are you not?"] Well, if that is the opinion of hon. Members with regard to myself and other Members on this side of the House, I do not propose to argue it other than to say in a simple way it is not true.
That is the sort of thing which was levelled against the Prime Minister when he was on this side of the House below the Gangway standing up for unpopular causes. That is the kind of charge which was levelled against him. I am not ashamed, with my detestation of the crimes committed in Ireland on the Forces of the Crown, and with my admiration for the servants of the Crown in discharging a most difficult task, to follow the example set many years ago by standing by an unpopular cause, no matter what aspersions may be cast upon it. There was a suggestion made that this was a party move. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] There is no party advantage in it, as I know well—not the slightest; quite the contrary. Charges of that kind are greeted with resounding cheers from Members on the other side and other parts of the House. In the history of this House such cheers have always met men standing up for progressive forces and for unpopular ideas which sooner or later must achieve their reward. [Interruption.] Cheers and sneers of that sort greeted Bright and Cobden and others who have stood for what they thought to be the cause of righteousness and justice. They are familiar sounds within these walls, and I suppose they always will be as long as there is conflict between right and wrong. I am glad that the Debate has, at any rate, cleared up one thing. We now know that reprisals are the policy of His Majesty's Government. [Interruption.] In the policy to restore order, reprisals are a predominant part. On the 20th October, in this House, the Chief Secretary stated, with regard to creameries, that there was not a tittle of evidence of the participation of the forces of the Crown in their destruction. We know to-day, from what he has told the House, that it is practically a case of war on the creameries— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—wherever, in his opinion or that of his officers, men meet who are hostile to the Government, and engage in what he thinks are operations dangerous to the safety of the country. I think that that is a fair way of putting it. What is the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to that? The right hon. Gentleman said that all of these creameries must regard themselves as in peril. They are liable at any moment to be burned down, gutted, destroyed. Those
creameries are not the sole personal property of the managers whom my right hon. Friend described as among those who have been arrested; they are the con-joint property of the countryside. Because there are some individuals, in a small minority, in that countryside—for it is admitted that even in these disturbed areas, the great majority of the people are hostile to murders on both sides—reprisals which are to be levied on that district include the destruction of property which is vital to the industrial continuance of the people of that district. That is the declared policy of His Majesty's Government to-day, and I shall be very much surprised if the Prime Minister, should he speak, will deny that. I say, in the words of the Resolution, that such action, which is typical of the policy, is an endeavour to repress crime by methods of terrorism involving the lives and property of the innocent, and is contrary to civilised usage. That is the charge which we make, and which is completely substantiated, not by arguments from this side, but by the expressed official admission of the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary asked why, in face of this great provocation, these cold-blooded murders, these unjustifiable crimes, is it that the people of this country are so patient? I will give him my answer. I say that the people of this country are so patient with regard to these matters because they know in their heart of hearts that the policy which the Government is pursuing by way of reprisal is not the way to cure the evil. That opinion is supported by men of all classes and of all religious denominations. I propose to read, if the House will allow me, a brief extract from a letter issued by the Archbishop of York last week to his own clergy in his own diocese. This is what he says:
The accounts of these organised reprisals, however exaggerated, must fill every thoughtful citizen with very real and disquieting anxiety. No words can be too severe to condemn the dastardly murders of policemen and soldiers; but not even great provocation could justify those who represent the cause of law and order in indulging in the sacking of villages and the indiscriminate destruction of life and property. It seems to me to be a matter in which the essential principles of right and wrong are involved, and I ought not to keep silent.
He concludes by saying:
It is a matter which concerns the honour of the British nation.
He does not stand by any means alone. Men of all shades of religious thought are of that opinion too. The people of this country know that experience has taught that reprisals which involve the punishment or the suffering of the innocent for the guilty never yet brought about peace between conflicting nations, and never yet healed a wrong. You cannot get wrong right by doing wrong; it is impossible. They know also what has been taught by history and experience with regard to our Dominions beyond the seas. My right hon. Friend comes from Canada. If I mistake not, an ancestor of his was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered for taking part in a rising against the forces of the Crown?
No, he was an innocent man suffering for some of the guilty, and that is what is happening in Ireland to-day. That is at the root of the whole difficulty. Of course this Amendment will be carried, and the Resolution will be defeated. What else do you expect? What appeal can be made to this majority on behalf of the justice and right of an unpopular cause? The great majority will vote for the Amendment and a small minority will vote for the Resolution, but in the days to come history will show that victory lay in the end with the minority in this as in other unpopular but righteous causes.
I intervene for a few minutes because all the speakers from these Benches have said that the Resolution represents an unpopular, but a righteous cause. I regret to associate myself entirely from that view. I am afraid I must say my right hon. Friend (Mr. Asquith), with whom I have been associated for so long and for whom I have so much respect, is in himself entirely wrong in proposing this Resolution, and I say so for this reason. The Resolution seeks to condemn the Chief Secretary on one of two grounds, either that he himself, with the Government, is engaged in a policy of reprisals and really means to break the Irish terror by a policy of terrorism, or in the alternative that the soldiers and the police, whom he must control, for his policy must be followed by the Commander-in-Chief, have got so out of hand that they have com- mitted these gross acts of pillage and wrong, and even of murder. For five minutes let us consider what is the justification for these two views. The Chief Secretary stands up in his place and for the second time, for he said it on the first occasion, says: "I condemn the policy of reprisals. The first time a reprisal took place I paraded the police when I could find them and told them that if they went on in this way they would be punished. From then till now I have condemned it and I will continue to condemn it." I cannot, as a Member of the House, do other than accept his statement. I cannot, as an independent Member of the House, say other than that the right hon. Gentleman opposite must really be speaking the truth when he says that, with the emphasis with which we are familiar but with an emphasis that is very real and genuine, he really means what he says when he says that reprisals are fatal to the discipline of the forces for which he is responsible, that if it went on he would be the first to suffer in reputation and he would never recover from it, and that he is determined to put it down. We cannot say he is not speaking the truth there. What I think is in the mind of many of my hon. Friends on this side is that it is all very well for him to say that, but that in fact from the evidence which we have got from various newspaper correspondents and from other sources, we have to assume that in spite of his efforts there is a kind of reign of terror in Ireland and that the soldiers and police are committing acts of which we ought to be ashamed.
On that—and this is the principal reason for my having risen—I have this to say. I have no more knowledge of these affairs than any other Member of the House, though I have a long interest in Ireland, but I claim to know a good deal about the British soldier. Out of the 20 years I have spent in this House six years have actually been in command of British and Colonial troops, and I think I understand them and I know what they are saying now because they have told me. It is to me inconceivable—I know it cannot be true—that these same men who did the things they did during the struggles we have passed through could be guilty of the kind of outrages which we have been told they have committed. I look back—and it is worth considering—to the tremendous strain that was put upon what you may call the honour and the civilisation of our own soldiers during the late War. The people I served have refused always to take a cruel view of their enemy. They would not call the German the Hun; they called him Fritz when they captured him—and the people I was with captured a great many. They would give him cigarettes and be kind to him though just before they had been engaged in a desperate conflict in which the man on their right hand and the man on their left had been killed. Now comes the point. I remember very well one critical day when a very, very brave man, one of the bravest men I ever knew, after a very successful attack, but a very desperate one, was killed by a prisoner who had already surrendered. I remember the bitter rage of the men with whom I was then; I remember the difficulty I had in preventing them from absolutely seeing red because a prisoner had killed one of their comrades, and yet the killing of a man by another whom he has taken prisoner is as nothing in criminality compared with the dastardly crime of shooting a man in the back or shooting him down in the sight of his wife.
When we remember the extra ordinary forbearance that was shown by our own soldiers during the War in circumstances of the greatest difficulty, and when we think of the much greater strain to which they have been put in Ireland during these, not days or weeks, but months, and indeed years, then I say that we ought not to take any action in this House which would seem to say that the same qualities of forbearance and gentlemanly behaviour which they showed in the face of frightful difficulties during the War have been lost by them in this critical time, and it is just because I am persuaded that any vote that one would give now in favour of a Resolution that would condemn, in the words of the Resolution, acts contrary to civilisation will be taken by them who have such a hard time, harder than ever we had in the War with the risk for every man as he walks from place to place of being shot in the back, as a censure on them, that I think we ought not to pass this Resolution. I say this with absolutely no party bias. It is just because some of the men I commanded in the War are in Ireland now and they write to me and tell me those things. It is just because this Resolution, which I am sure was put forward with the best intentions no doubt of maintaining the honour of this country will be taken by them to be an aspersion on their honour that I oppose it. I go further, especially after the solemn statement of the Chief Secretary that he himself, speaking for the Government is opposed to reprisals and will punish anybody concerned in them, and say that the only people we have left to condemn are the soldiers and police. The dilemma is either that the Chief Secretary is telling the House a lie or the people we condemn by this Resolution are the soldiers and the police themselves. In this dilemma I, who hate to be against a minority—I think it was the Prime Minister himself who said that I gravitate naturally to the "No" Lobby—I hate to be on the popular side and cannot bear to dissociate myself from what my right hon. Friend calls the small minority—it is just because in this dilemma we may seem to do an unfair thing, that I would beg all hon. Gentlemen who may often be associated with me, not to vote for what possibly will be believed to be a vote of censure on brave men who serve our cause in Ireland.
Those of us who have sat long in this House cannot but be struck by the contrast between the speeches of the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward). We remember the last great speech he delivered in 1914. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down was then the Secretary for War. We remember how the speech of the gallant Member for Stoke thrilled us, and how he stood forth as one of the great pillars of democracy. Those were the days when the Curragh revolt was threatened, and the then Secretary of State for War was in trouble with General Gough. Look at the contrast to-day. The hon. Member for Stoke has been taken up by the War Office. It has taken him to its bosom, and made a colonel of him; it has assimilated him. The forces of democracy and progress have lost John Ward, but they have gained General Gough. General Gough to-day stands for a fair settlement for Ireland. He is with us to-day, and I for one am very glad of the exchange. The hon. Member for Stoke falsified our position. He accused us of a condemnation of British officers and soldiers. We never did such a thing. What we do condemn is the mutiny of British soldiers, that the Government should stand over the mutiny of British soldiers and should condone such mutiny after it has happened, and that by their speeches here Ministers should lead those poor and unfortunate men to believe that such acts will again be condoned in future.
This House has a duty to perform. It has a duty to remain impartial as between various causes. I am afraid that any cause like the Irish cause, which ought to be considered with impartiality, has a very poor chance of such treatment in such a House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] As an Irishman, I have sat through this Debate, and I have asked myself where Ireland and the average Irishman come in? The Chief Secretary has been eloquent and powerful and full of threats as to what he is going to do with the gunmen. He was sent over by this House to govern Ireland, to bring us prosperity, to enable us to live in peace, to give us an instrument of Government under which we could all live and work out our own salvation. We are to have an endless vista of military and police raids followed by endless reprisals. The right hon. Gentleman ended with a fine peroration as to whether it was to be Ireland against the Empire or Ireland with the Empire. At present, the position seems to be one of Ireland being crushed to death against the Empire like the clutch of a bear. The majority in Ireland are anxious for a settlement, and we have a right to ask the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary what are they going to do for the majority. They have not told us. They have given as that wretched Bill which is under consideration in another place. Can the Prime Minister or the Chief Secretary point to a single resolution of a public body welcoming that Bill, or to a single vote of an Irish Member at any time in favour of the Bill. Why, even the Ulster Unionist Ministers did not vote for it. The Prime Minister is familiar with the discipline of Government and I ask him what would have happened in 1914, or under any Government except this Coalition Government, had one of the Ministers of the day refused to vote for a measure of prime importance brought in and promoted by the Government of the day? No Irish public man has spoken in favour of the Government of Ireland Bill. When that Bill is about to pass into law the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Duncairn gives it a very tardy and very half-hearted benediction. Is that all? I am reminded of the Government of Ireland Act, and I say that nothing was more contemptible than the words of the Prime Minister when he excused himself for having supported that Act. He came down, and speaking for the Treasury Bench said in effect, "I supported the Home Rule Act which is on the Statute Book, but I did so with my tongue in my cheek because I knew that it would never become law. I was dishonest in my support of it because I knew it would never become law, and I openly confess I was dishonest."
I do not say he used those words, but I said that in effect those were his words. We have a Bill which three-fourths of the people of Ireland refuse to work. Let us go back to the days of the Union. There is an analogy which I think is not irrelevant. In 1800 force, assisted by bribery and corruption, deprived Ireland of an independent Parliament. Force can do a lot. Force can wipe out an independent Legislature and can wipe out national institutions which are actually in existence, but it cannot impose upon a people and make them work institutions which they are unwilling to work. Members of this House must be driven to ask themselves again and again, what has caused the change in Ireland since 1914? I quite admit that a lot of the change is caused by a pile of misrepresentation on both sides. Apparently the present theory is that we have a double and a treble dose of original sin, that all Irishmen are in league with gunmen, and that as long as that is so no overtures must be made by the Ministry or by anybody else. I do not think Irishmen themselves are free from the faults of misrepresentation, and I would ask the Chief Secretary to consider this point: How long is the present state of affairs in Ireland going to last? We know that by physical force and by the armed forces of the Crown the Chief Secretary can maintain the present state of things in Ireland, but he has not yet explained to us what is going to happen after that. Nobody has explained that to us, and that is our trouble. The Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary again and again come to that box and express the greatest sympathy with the police and the greatest admiration for the police force. They would be doing better by this force if they came to that Box and introduced a proper instrument of Irish Government. If they introduced a measure which could be passed and worked with the approval of the Irish people, the assassinations would immediately cease, the hostility to the police and to the armed forces of the Crown would immediately disappear, and they would be doing a far greater benefit and service to those forces than by coming forward to that box and merely expressing sympathy with them and admiration for them as they do.
Force is no permanent remedy. You may maintain your clutch on Ireland for 18 months, or two years, or three years, by means of martial law and by means of all the Courts and all the panoply of oppression and repression which is to-day in existence, but what is it all going to end in? Have you no message of peace for the Irish people? Can you hold out to us no prospect of better days when all this comes to an end? I would put this to the right hon. Gentleman: Is he fair to his administrators, to the men who are carrying out his work in Ireland to-day, if his only message to them is to oppress, arrest, try, kill if necessary? Should we not have a message of peace to counterbalance that? Should he not hold out to us some indication, when peace is restored, as no doubt he can restore peace, that we Irishmen should have some chance of setting up in our own country an instrument of government which will bring us prosperity, and which can be operated by ourselves for ourselves?
I do not wish to say anything offensive to the right hon. Gentleman, but to put the present position in a nutshell, we are subjected to force, repression, danger, commercial and industrial loss. We are very much disappointed in the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-day that he could hold out no hope that a better day was dawning. It is universally admitted, I think, in this House and out of it, that the Government of Ireland Bill, which is at present going through, is no remedy, and can never operate over three-fourths of Ireland. How does it present itself to the average Irishman? It is a Bill which Ireland has never considered. The Committee which drafted it had not a single Irishman among its members. It was piloted through this House by a gentleman who was a stranger to Ireland until he became Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the Prime Minister, under whom he serves, is a stranger to Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide."] After all, the last claim we Irishmen might have made upon this House and upon the Empire was that when a great constitutional measure was being drafted, a measure which we were told was to settle the Irish problem, Irishmen should have been consulted in the drafting of that measure, Irishmen should have been on the Committee that did draft that measure, and when that measure was being introduced and passed into law, it should have been supported by the majority of Irishmen and Irish opinion, and, if not so supported, it should have been withdrawn. [An HON. MEMBER: "They would not come here."] You would never get them here to support a Bill like that, anyhow.
One thing stands out in this Debate, a thing of which I am proud, and that is the appreciation of the common Tommy, and the way the House is not prepared to see him run down. Those who have been making attacks on these men, who are suffering the torments of perdition every moment of their lives forget that these are the very men who a few years ago were being cheered as heroes, and the saviours of the Empire. We took pride then in the fact that the great citizen army came largely from the working classes. That army was the same as in Ireland. These reflections on the Army are reflections upon the workers of this country; on their sons who are doing something to carry out their duty under conditions which are not only difficult, but should call for the support of every man who believes in defending life and liberty. What is the position?
A good many speeches have been made, and ringing through those speeches, I am sorry to say, there is a suspicion that this Motion—I am not referring to the Amendment—has been brought forward not to help Ireland, but that it is a political stunt pure and simple. A request was made yesterday for a postponement of this Debate. Why? If those who spoke from the Opposition Benches believed what they said, that the soldiers and policemen are guilty of murder and arson, the sooner it is looked into the better for the cause they assume to represent. In this Debate we have, it seems, unfortunately forgotten that Ireland to-day is in the hands of a band of assassins, who are being tolerated and excused by a number of people for political reasons. The Government have been told to stop reprisals, and that that would stop the murders. If the Government took the advise to withdraw the troops from Ireland, you would leave a large number of people in that country even in a worse position than now. There are forces that could stop the murders. They do not belong to the Government. Let me give a typical case. In Kildare there was a strike in the racing stables that lasted ten weeks, and was a failure. The men belonged to the Irish Transport Workers' Union. The Sinn Fein element gave the impression, or circulated the rumour, that because of the defeat of the stable boys they would call a strike of those engaged in hunting, and prevent hunting in Ireland.
I am trying to get at the cause of murder in Ireland. It is said powers could be used and are being used. The Transport Workers' leaders were called together. They were informed that if the Sinn Fein element stopped hunting in Ireland, the horses and all the establishments would be taken from that country and brought over here. What happened? The Transport Workers' Federation were able to continue the hunting against the threats of Sinn Fein. If we are going to have these reprisals stopped, we have to appeal as has been done to-day. Hon. Members seem to think that I have no interest in this, and that because Labour on the other side takes one view, I have no right to speak on this side. so far as the responsibility for these crimes goes, it rests upon that band of murderers, and they can only be restrained by agencies in Ireland. The Chief Secretary made an honest appeal to the House, and I want to support him. No one who knows Ireland can for a moment doubt the enormous authority of the Church to which the great mass of people adhere. Surely in the name of common humanity, at a time when an attempt is being made to give Ireland a form of self-government, apart altogether from politics, the ministers of the Gospel ought to feel it their duty to say to those who are assassins, "Your work is not only devilish, but destructive to the aspirations of the race to which you belong." This Debate will cause amongst many of the soldiers disgust, if not despair. They are in Ireland standing for the authority of this country and this House. They are constantly in a form of danger, not only deadly, but most destructive of the qualities and moral of any human being. I, for one, profoundly regret that any words have been uttered which may be taken as words of condemnation to those who are defending the country at the present time.
Mr. J. JONES:
I am the only Irishman in this House representing an English constituency who has taken part in this Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] I am about the only Irishman, with the exception of my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. O'Connor), who has not spoken in this Debate, and to that extent I hope I shall not be speechless. It seems to me most extraordinary that, whenever the Government find themselves in a hole—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—yes, absolutely in a hole, they have to fall back upon the political prostitutes of labour—[HON. MEMBERS:"Withdraw, with draw!"]—
I think I avoided any offensive terms, and the hon. Member who has just sat down has uttered a term which I think is not in accordance with the dignity of this House. Speaking for myself, whatever he says makes no impression whatever.
|Division No. 373.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Hartshorn, Vernon||Robertson, John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hayday, Arthur||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hayward, Major Evan||Sexton, James|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Briant, Frank||Holmes, J. Stanley||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bromfield, William||Irving, Dan||Spencer, George A.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Johnstone, Joseph||Swan, J. E.|
|Cairns, John||Kelly, Edward J. (Donegal, East)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kiley, James D.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lawson, John J.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lunn, William||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Tootill, Robert|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Donnelly, P.||Mills, John Edmund||Waterson, A. E.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Mosley, Oswald||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Finney, Samuel||Myers, Thomas||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wintringham, T.|
|Glanville, Harold James||O'Connor, Thomas P.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||O'Grady, Captain James||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rendall, Athelstan||Mr. Hogge and Mr. Neil Maclean.|
|Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Brown, Captain D. C.||Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. C.||Bruton, Sir James||Elveden, Viscount|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.|
|Amery, Lieut.-Col. Leopold C. M. S.||Burdett-Coutts, William||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Armitage, Robert||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Fildes, Henry|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Ford, Patrick Johnston|
|Atkey, A. R.||Butcher, Sir John George||Foreman, Henry|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Gange, E. Stanley|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Casey, T. W.||Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Cautley, Henry S.||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Chadwick, Sir Robert||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Chillcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Barrand, A. R.||Churchman, Sir Arthur||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Grant, James A.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Clough, Robert||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Coats, Sir Stuart||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Beck, Sir C. (Essex, Saffron Walden)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Collins, Sir G. P. (Greenock)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Greer, Harry|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart.(Gr'nw'h)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Gregory, Holman|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Courthope, Major George L.||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Bigland, Alfred||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Craig, Captain C. C (Antrim, South)||Guest, Major O. (Leic, Loughboro')|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mid)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.|
|Blair, Reginald||Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Curzon, Commander Viscount||Harmsworth, C. B.(Bedford, Luton)|
|Blane, T. A.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Davidson, J. C. C.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Dixon, Captain Herbert||Higham, Charles Frederick|
|Briggs, Harold||Donald, Thompson||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.|
|Britton, G. B.||Edge, Captain William||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hood, Joseph|
|Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn'n, W.)||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Hope, James F. (Sheffield, Central)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Simm, M. T.|
|Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Morrison, Hugh||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Starkey, Captain John R.|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Murchison, C. K.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Nall, Major Joseph||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Neal, Arthur||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Nield, Sir Herbert||Taylor, J.|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Kidd, James||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Parker, James||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Parry. Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Vickers, Douglas|
|Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Waddington, R.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Perring, William George||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow. C.)||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|Lloyd-Greame, Major Sir P.||Pratt, John William||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Prescott, Major W. H.||Weston, Colonel John W.|
|Lonsdale, James Rolston||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Wheler, Lieut.-Colonel C. H.|
|Lorden, John William||Purchase, H. G.||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Lort-Williams, J.||Raper, A. Baldwin||Whitla, Sir William|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|M'Curdy, Rt. Hon. C. A.||Reid, D. D.||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Remer, J. R.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Rodger, A. K.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|McMicking, Major Gilbert||Rogers, Sir Hallewell||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon, Dr. T. J.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wise, Frederick|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Manville, Edward||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Worsfold, Dr. T. Cato|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Mason, Robert||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)||Young, Lieut.-Com. E. H. (Norwich)|
|Matthews, David||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Mildmay, Colonel Rt. Hon. F. B.||Seddon, J. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mitchell, William Lane||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Moles, Thomas||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House condemns the outrages committed against the Forces of the Crown and civilians in Ireland, and expresses its deep abhorrence of the brutal assassination of His Majesty's officers and other British subjects in Dublin on Sunday last; and thanks the military and police forces and the other servants of the Crown for the courage and devotion with which they are fulfilling their duty in Ireland in circumstances of unexampled difficulty; and expresses its approval of the steps which are being taken by His Majesty's Government to restore peace in Ireland.