asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that 200 rifles, with ammunition, and 50 motor cars or motor lorries recently used by the Royal Irish Constabulary have been handed to the Provisional Government in Ireland, and that a receipt was given for the same signed by Captain Fitzgerald, Irish Republican Army; whether any assurances have been given, or any precautions taken, to ensure that these arms and motors shall not be used against loyal subjects in Ireland or for the purposes of raids such as recently took place from Southern Ireland into Northern Ireland; and whether he has any information as to the persons who organised or took part in the recent raids into Northern Ireland?
As I have already informed the House, 200 rifles with ammunition and 21 (not 50) cars have been handed over to the Provisional Government; the receipt for these articles was signed by a Captain Fitzgerald on behalf of the Provisional Government, by whom he has been appointed to assist in the organisation of their forces. In reply to the second part, I would refer to the replies which I have already given on this subject. I regret that I have as yet no information as to the persons who organised or took part in these raids, but I am assured that the matter is being actively investigated by the Provisional Government.
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain why a receipt for these cars which were handed over was given by a person who signed himself as being a member of the Irish Republican Army, and will he give an undertaking that no stores of any sort, or kind shall in future be handed over to those belonging to the Irish Republican Army?
I have not seen the receipt, but if it was signed by art officer who added after his name the letters "I.R.A.," that would be irregular. It is not recognised by us, and it is opposed by the existing Provisional Government in Ireland. The proper designation of the officer should have been that he was a member of the forces of the Irish Provisional Government.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a statement has been made that Crossley Tenders have been used in the invasion of Ulster, and can he say whether they were Government cars or not?
This particular consignment of rifles and motor cars is of great importance, because it was made over formally by the British Government to the Irish Provisional Government for the definite purpose of their creating an organised force. None of those cars or rifles have been used in those raids. There may be other cars in Ireland which, in other ways, have passed into the hands of unauthorised persons, and have been used, but the good faith of the Irish Provisional Government depends on the fact that none of those cars have been so used, and I am quite confident that is the fact.
I have explained very carefully that at the present time the situation is interim and anomalous. When the Irish Government has been fully clothed with lawful authority, as it can only be by the Bill before the House, and when an election has taken place for enforcing that Government after the decision of the Irish people, then will be the time to insist on the drawing of those distinctions which are in every respect proper.
asked the Prime Minister whether the military arms, Stores, and motors handed over to the Provisional Government in Ireland become the absolute property of that Government and pass from under the control of the British Government altogether; and whether such stores will automatically pass to any succeeding Government controlling the Free State, whatever that Government may be?
The arms, stores and motors handed over to the Provisional Government become their property subject to a valuation. The remainder of the hon. Member's question is hypothetical, and I regret that I cannot answer it.