Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,474,370, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1922, for the Expenses of the Royal Irish Constabulary, including certain extra-statutory pensions.
I regret the need of this Supplementary Estimate, but there are certain financial consolations. In the first place, the sum which I am submitting for consideration is less by many millions than it would have been if we had failed to secure the Truce in July of last year and failed to conclude the Treaty of Peace on 6th December of the same year. In the second place, I hope, sincerely, that this Supplementary Estimate represents, with all its sub-heads, except pensions and gratuities, the final charge upon the taxpayers of Great Britain for the policing of Ireland, at any rate, for the policing of Southern Ireland. The original Estimates to which this Vote is supplementary were prepared in December, 1920, and the various increases are due to two main causes, first, the increase in personnel and transport of the Royal Irish Constabulary, including the Special Constabulary in the North of Ireland during the first six months of 1921, and, in the second place, terminal charges arising from the disbandment, consequent on the signing of the Treaty, of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and of the temporary constables. This means that more than 6,000 officers and men recruited in Great Britain have been disbanded since the Treaty was signed and have left Ireland.
The Chief of Police already, on behalf of the Government, has expressed his appreciation of the invaluable work of these men. Most of them served in the Great War, many of them with distinction, and I take this opportunity of again expressing the appreciation of the Government of their courageous services in Ireland. When the Treaty was signed there were about 16,000 police of all ranks, excluding the Special Constabulary in the North of Ireland, in the Royal Irish Constabulary. The truce was agreed to in July, 1921, and from that date the Regular Police have passed and are passing through a most critical and trying period, during which 12 of the force have been murdered and 27 wounded. The Committee will be glad to hear that the discipline of the force has been splendidly maintained throughout this period. The regular Royal Irish Constabulary now in Ireland is almost entirely Irish and predominantly Catholic. There are at present 233 officers and 5,764 other ranks in Southern Ireland, and 50 officers and 2,059 other ranks in Northern Ireland. Since the 22nd November, 1921, control of the Royal Irish Constabulary in Northern Ireland has passed to the Northern Government. Since that date the Chief Secretary has not been responsible for the police or the maintenance of order in that part of Ireland.
To come to the subheads of the Supplementary Estimate I am asking the Committee to vote under Subhead B an additional sum of £371,443 for the pay of police. In order that the Committee may know exactly what this large sum is for I shall give details. £225,000 is for the ordinary pay and disbandment pay of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary and of all temporary constables. These men were recruited under non-pensionable contracts. This Vote provides the money necessary for the complete discharge of the Government's liabilities under these contracts. I have received a few letters in reference to the amounts given to individuals in these forces. I can assure the Committee that every case is carefully considered by the Chief of Police and—
It is perfectly clear. The Vote is for the pay of the police in Ireland except for the pay of the Special Constables in Northern Ireland, who, since 22nd November last year, have been under the control of the Northern Government. Their pay is, therefore, no longer chargeable to these Votes. I am dealing at the moment with the pay of the disbanded Auxiliary Police. I hope that I have made that clear.
I did not mention Class A. I said Subhead B. The Special Constabulary (Class A) are under Subhead B of this Vote. I was not on that point at the moment. I was dealing with the pay of the disbandment liabilities in respect of the Auxiliary Force and the temporary forces. I was saying that I had received a few letters, only a very few, I am glad to say, complaining about the individual payments made to members of the Auxiliary Force. If it comes to the knowledge of any Member that there is a complaint on the part of any of these gallant constables, the Chief of the Police and myself personally will be glad to investigate it. In reference to the Auxiliaries, the position is this, apart from the original contract of 12 months which the cadet had on joining the Division, no cadet has received, or will receive, less than £70, while a great number, according as their oontracts may vary, will receive in addition amounts ranging from £1 to £250. The complaints from individuals regarding the sums received on dispersal are not complaints against the Government, but complaints, rather, that some of their comrades, owing to the accident of the date when they enlisted, are receiving more than they themselves. In my opinion the terms of disbandment of the Auxiliary Division are satisfactory and generous, and this view was endorsed by the representative body of the Force itself, which, through its president and delegates, signified its acceptance of the terms of disbandment in an agreement signed on 18th January, 1922. In addition to the charge of £225,000 I have referred to, £66,447 represents an increased charge for the pay of the Special Constabulary of Northern Ireland for the period ended 22nd November, 1921. That was the point referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). £80,000 is the sum asked for to pay in this period members of the purely Irish Royal Irish Constabulary. This is ordinary pay, which in the normal way would not be payable until 1st April next, the first day of the financial year, 1922–23. I want it before the close of this financial year, so that the Force may be paid up to date on disbandment, and so that, as far as possible, the police accounts may be closed by the end of the current financial year. The more expeditious one can make the disbandment, the greater the saving in money.
Subhead C amounts to a sum of £23,000 over which I have really no control, because the Committee on the Police Service, of 1920, generally known as the Desborough Committee, recommended that policemen should be exempt from Income Tax on their rent allowance, and, following the Home Office decision, the Irish Government, in order to give them this concession, decided to refund to policemen who had paid Income Tax. This £23,000 represents, therefore, money that is due to these constables in this manner. Owing to the fact that the Desborough Report has been adopted, they must clearly be recouped the Income Tax they have already paid. If it were not for that decision, there would be no Supplementary Estimate under this head.
Tinder Subhead D, for subsistence allowances, the original sum of £200,000 was based on the average expenditure at the date, December, 1920, when the original Estimates were in preparation. The records of actual expenditure show a higher average rate. This is attributable to the increase of police activity and personnel during the period tinder review, necessitating the employment of men on duties involving abnormal periods of absence from their stations, the confinement of men in fortified barracks, under conditions giving rise to the payment of special subsistence allowance in respect of the additional expense of living apart from their families. But for the disbandment, the additional sum required under this Subhead would be about £77,000. This Subhead and the next, and all the following, except those for "Pensions and Gratuities" and "Appropriations-in-Aid,," are largely consequential upon the increase in personnel and the increased activity during the early part of 1921.
Subhead E, "Travelling Expenses," is largely due to additional personnel and to the increased mobility of the force. As in the case of subsistence allowance, the original Estimate of £52,000 was based on the average rate taken over the period up to 1920, when the original Estimate was prepared. Since that date the actual expenditure shows a higher average rate. The additional £109,000 includes £40,000 as the cost of repatriating on disbandment members of the various arms of the force who were recruited from Great Britain for service during the Irish emergency. The total number of such officers and men who were disbanded is 6,622, and over 6,000 have already left Ireland. I hope, with the exception of certain details left to wind up accounts, and so forth, all the remainder will be in England or Scotland this week.
Subhead F is for clothing, and I ask approval of an additional sum of £20,000 due entirely to the increase in personnel.
A very large Supplementary Estimate of £280,550 under the Subhead "Arms, Ammunition, Accoutrements and Saddlery" requires some explanation. I shall be happy to make it as clear as possible. In 1920–21 the War Department supplied the Royal Irish Constabulary with arms and ammunition to the value of £350,000. The claims in respect of these were furnished so late that year that it was possible to pay only £170,000 within 1920–21, leaving £180,000 to be met in the current financial year. The additions to the force, and additional purchase of arms, ammunition and accoutrements account for the balance and makes up the total, a very large total, I admit, of £280,550.
Subhead K, "Barrack Furniture," and Subhead L, "Fuel, Light and Water," are supplementary items submitted because the original estimates did not take into account either an increase in personnel or the increases in expenses and charges connected with the police in Ireland.
Subhead N is for Incidental Expenses. So that the Committee can clearly understand what this additional sum of £66,000 is for, I shall divide it up into its detailed headings. This substantial in- crease is partly attributable to the very heavy medical and hospital expenses arising out the malicious and other injuries inflicted upon police personnel, and is also consequential on the increase in the strength of the constabulary. We had over 2,000 police treated for various injuries and accidents and illnesses in hospital, absorbing a sum of £19,050. Advances have been made to officers of the Force to enable them to purchase motorcars for use on official business, and those, of course, are repaid by instalments?
Does my hon. Friend mean that officers who engaged on Government business were actually asked to buy back the cars, and that the cars then belong to them and no longer to the Government?
Does the hon. Gentleman mean that the Government bought cars and the officers bought the cars from the Government on the instalment system? Is that it? Did the Government buy the car in the first instance?
Will the hon. Gentleman tell the Committee also whether it is not a fact that upon disbandment these officers are compelled to pay off the balance of instalments of the cars, although they no longer need a car, either for private or for other purposes?
I am supporting the amount of the Estimate. One of the items of the account is for these cars. The question whether these officers should be asked to continue the instalments for the cars I should have thought was a matter to be settled by the individual officers. I myself would not be in favour of compelling an officer to complete the paying of instalments if he did not want the car on disbandment.
I think that is a matter that ought to be considered as between the officers who have the cars and the Government, and I can promise my hon. Friend that it will be done.
No. The issue is perfectly simple. Some of the officers had their own cars, and those got motor allowances. It was considered that [...] would make for the efficiency of the force if the other, and generally junior, officers also had ears. Facilities were given them to purchase cars on the instalment system. Now that disbandment is taking place, a new set of circumstances arises, and I can assure the Committee that no officer of the Constabulary will be penalised because of this decision, taken in the midst of hostilities, and which must be reviewed now that peace is happily in Ireland again.
I am responsible for the Vote. The final item of this subhead represents the payment from public funds of the funeral expenses of men murdered or accidentally killed in the discharge of their duty, and I regret to say that there were 310 of these funerals payable out of the Supplementary Estimate.
Subhead 0, for transport service, requires an additional sum of £205,000. The plain fact is the original Estimate did not sufficiently provide for the actual needs. The increased strength of the police forces necessitated the provision of extra vehicles.
They were bought. The system of patrolling also demanded an additional number of vehicles. The incrasing risk to the police made it less and less possible for them to use the ordinary public conveyances, like railway trains. All the commitments under this subhead were incurred prior to the truce. All orders for transport ceased at that time.
There is a small amount of £3,000 required under Subhead P ("Compensation for damage or injuries"). This has been paid owing to numerous road accidents involving compensation, and it was largely due to the large increase in the number of cars in constant use, the result being that the number of accidents was larger than had been foreseen at the time of the original Estimate.
Accidents to civilians or property, as when a car ran over a pig or a fowl, or any of the other obstacles that sometimes beset an Irish road. Under Subhead P 1, there are "Special Advances to Widows and Children." During the course of hostilities the Government gave a pledge on this matter, which has been carried out, as all pledges to the police and their widows and children that I have given at this Box have been carried out. This particular £8,000 was required to give effect to the pledge of the Government that, pending payment on account of awards of criminal injury compensation to the widows and orphans of constables who were murdered in the execution of their duty, an advance would be made equivalent to an amount equal to two-thirds of the murdered policeman's pay. It does not represent additional expenditure, as this amount is recoverable in due course when the recipients receive the compensation awards granted to them by the County Courts in respect of the deaths of their husbands or fathers. As far as these awards are concerned, I should say that the money would be recovered at a very early date. The only reason for delay is that we now have two Governments in Ireland and one here, and all three of us must come to some, arrangement. It is a great hardship that people should be kept out of their money, especially those who have suffered bereavement and who belong to a class, the police class, which must look, and I think always will look with hope and success, to this House to see that their money is paid.
Subhead Q, "Pensions and Gratuities," calls for an additional £91,377. This item is required because of an underestimate in the number of disablement pensions in the original Estimate. There have been granted 107 disablement pensions in addition to those contemplated in the original Estimate. This Subhead also provides for a payment of £10 in advance of pension to a proportion of the permanent Force disbanded before 31st March, namely, 3,823 British recruits. Provision is also made, as set out in the note to the Estimate, for a pension of £1,466 to the late Inspector-General of the Force for his duties and the dangers that he ran, and for certain extra statutory pensions, seven in number, as set out. The award of £1,466 is two-thirds of the retired officer's salary at the time of retirement and exceeds by £233 13s. 2d. the amount of pension for which he was qualified by length of service. This extra-statutory pension was granted in view of the difficult and onerous nature of the duties which Sir Thomas Smith was called upon to perform in conditions of unprecedented trouble and strain, and of the grave personal risks his position compelled him to run.
I am glad to welcome the hon. Member for Silvertown back to the House, and I regret the illness that has kept him from it. Sir Thomas Smith retired over a year ago on the pension that I am now asking the House to approve. He did good service, and had one of the longest records in the Force.
It is all set out very carefully in the printed Estimates, so that the Committee can be fully possessed of the facts. I am giving the reason why the extra amount of £233 was granted.
I do not know, but I should think that at the time the ordinary Estimate was prepared, the question of the amount of pension to be paid to the late Inspector-General could not have been settled. It would not have been fair to this officer to have kept him out of this extra amount, pending the approval of the House, inasmuch as it was a fair presumption that the action of the Treasury in this particular case would be approved by the House.
It is a common practice. I am glad that this is the only case in which the Irish Government has been accused of anticipating the approval of the House, and I am sure I can appeal to the Committee on no better case than this.
Under Subhead R, Appropriations-in-Aid, I regret that I have to ask approval of the very large sum of £196,000 because of the plain fact that the local government of Ireland broke down during the recent hostilities in that country. The Local Taxation Account was depleted and there was no prospect of appropriating this amount, in the current financial year at any rate. I can give no further details than those of the original Estimate. That was for £234,000, and now I ask for an additional £196,000, because in most of the counties of Ireland local government broke down and it was not possible to collect debts as was regularly done in quieter and happier days.
Did I say three-quarters? I regret that all Ireland is not more peaceful now than it is, and no one regrets it more than I do. I do not remember saying three-quarters of Ireland, but a large portion of Ireland. I do not see that that arises on the Supplementary Estimates, however.
I was not referring to the hon. Member in particular, but the interruptions have been of so continuous a character that it has been clearly impossible to follow the right hon. Gentleman.
I have gone through the Estimates in some detail, and I hope I have, at any rate, made the reason for them clear. Naturally, one is prepared to clear up any point that has not been made clear, and I hope the Committee will take a full opportunity of dealing with any points that are in doubt. May I say one personal thing? During two years at this Box I have championed the Royal Irish Constabulary. I can look back upon that time with the knowledge that I have done my duty, as any other hon. Member would have done his, in supporting these fighting men under circumstances of unexampled difficulty. The presentation of these Estimates is the beginning of the end of that great force which for 100 years has served successive Governments in Ireland in fair weather and in foul, and I am sure the Committee, however much they may differ as to the policy of the Government in the past and as to my administration, will hope that the Irish policemen now being disbanded will be able to go back to their homes and follow the avocations they choose unmolested and untroubled in future. They have done their duty, and, I think myself, the time will come when with a clearer vision we shall better appreciate these men of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Representing, as I think they do, the fine flower of the manhood of Ireland, they deserve the appreciation and the admiration of everyone who admires courage and devotion to duty.
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £5.
I am sure the Committee will join in the tribute, and the very high tribute, just paid by the Chief Secretary to the Royal Irish Constabulary. The Royal Irish Constabulary have passed through dangerous and difficult times, and everyone who knows their record will agree that no better, no more loyal and no more courageous force has ever existed among the forces of the Crown than the Royal Irish Constabulary. I trust that when my right hon. Friend comes to make the arrangement which, I suppose, he must make, for pensioning off those who have served in this force for a number of years past, he will remember the services they have rendered, the difficulties and the dangers through which they have passed, and will see that the pensions awarded to them will be such as to enable them to live without the hardship and, in some cases, almost the starvation, they are now experiencing. In regard to the amount of £91,000 for pensions and gratuities, I wish to ask the Chief Secretary whether this amount includes any allowances made to the men injured in the Rebellion of 1916, in addition to the amount they have already received? My right hon. Friend knows these men will not come under the new Orders which are being made in connection with the injuries pensions of 1921. My right hon. Friend must also know that these men cannot receive any compensation under the Malicious Injuries (Ireland) Act, 1919. I gather from what he has said that it would be quite open to him to make a non-statutory allowance in anticipation of what this House may grant, just as he has done in other cases dealt with in this Estimate. It would be quite possible to make such an allowance, under proper circumstances, to these men, and perhaps my right hon. Friend, if he has not already done so, will take that into account and, remember the cases of these men who lost their limbs or their health and became cripples in consequence of the part which they took in resisting the Rebellion of 1916, and who are in receipt of pensions of something like £1 a week, or perhaps 22s. or 23s. That is a state of things which, I am sure, hon. Members do not like to see.
I pass to another class of pensioners, namely, those injured in the course of their duty since the beginning of 1917. As I understand it, their pensions will be revised under the new orders which are shortly to be issued. I call the Chief Secretary's attention to the fact that in many cases such men retired upon pensions little, if anything, above the normal pensions which they would have received had they retired voluntarily or at the end of their time. They get little, if anything, for the injuries which they received in the discharge of their duty during these last two or three very difficult years. May I further ask why these new orders have not been issued? They were to have been issued as soon as the Act of 1921 was passed, and I think that is now about eight months ago, yet the new orders are not yet issued. I hope my right hon. Friend will see that no further delay occurs, because men who have been injured in the course of their duty are in many cases on such small pensions as £1 to 25s. a week, trying to support themselves and their wives and families. It is of the utmost importance to them that the new orders should be issued as soon as possible, and that they should get the benefit under those orders to which they are entitled. It is not as though these men were living in Great Britain. Were they living in Great Britain, after retirement from the police force, the Government and private employers and everyone else would be delighted to give what employment they could to these men who have done their duty. It is not so, however, in Ireland. These men in many districts find it absolutely impossible to get any employment whatever; they are boycotted and intimidated. I sincerely hope, with my right hon. Friend, that this may stop in the future, but I am sorry to see it has not stopped yet, and the moment the new Government is established a good many of them, I am afraid, may lose that employment in Government service which they now enjoy. I mention this to show how very pitiable and how very urgent are the cases of these men, and I beg of the Chief Secretary to lose no time in bringing in the new orders and allowing these men the benefit of which they are urgently in need.
I wish also to ask the Chief Secretary whether the item for pensions includes anything for additional pensions to men who retired before April, 1919? I do not know whether the Committee realises—my right hon. Friend I know does—that men who retired before April, 1919, retired upon absolutely miserable pensions of something like one quarter of the amount which they would have received had they retired after April, 1919. That is a very cruel thing, but perhaps provision has been made for them in this £91,000. If not, my right hon. Friend might, in accordance with the principle he has already laid down, have sums issued to them in anticipation of the sum which I doubt not this Committee will be only too delighted to grant. I am not going to weary the House by reading the letters which I have received upon this point, but some of them are absolutely pathetic. One man has written to me:
If something is not done we shall have to lie down and die.
Another man writes an appeal to Members of the House to help him, and these men are described by one of their own secretaries in this way:
It is heart-rending to see the black look of despair on the faces of our men now.
I hope, if my right hon. Friend has not already made provision for these men, he will consider their case, and I hope I am entitled to assure them that the majority of hon. Members will gladly remedy the grave injustice which has been
done to these men. Another point to which I wish to refer relates to the arms, ammunition, barrack furniture, and transport, which represent a very large sum. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he has got any credit for the rifles, ammunition, and motor-cars which, as we know, have been sold to the Provisional Government? I think the exact phrase used was not "sold," but "handed over at a valuation." We know, at any rate, that a thousand rifles, a large quantity of ammunition, and a good many motor-cars have been handed over to the Provisional Government, and I wish to ask my right hon. Friend at what price they have been handed over. What do we get for them? I hope we are getting the full price. It was said there was to be a valuation. Has the valuation been made and, if so, who made it? Perhaps my right hon. Friend will also tell us the total amount, firstly, in regard to the rifles; secondly, in regard to the ammunition; thirdly, in regard to the motor-cars; and, fourthly, in regard to the barrack furniture, which was handed over, and what is the total amount which it is proposed the Provisional Government should pay? The fact that we are clearing out of Ireland is no reason why we should give these things away, and I think the British taxpayer would be rightly indignant if it were found that, while asking for large sums amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, for stores, rifles, ammunition and transport, we are going to hand over a considerable portion of the articles bought with those sums for perhaps a very small amount to the Provisional Government. I only express my own opinion, but I think that would be exceedingly unfair to the British taxpayer. Let the Provisional Government pay for what they are getting. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will inform the Committee whether any sum has been brought into credit in respect of the articles so handed over? We also heard the other day of motor-cars which were disposed of, not to the Provisional Government, but to some local authorities. We were not told what sums were paid for those. We paid a good deal for them, and I hope it will be seen to that we are paid the proper sum when we hand them over.
I supposed that something would probably be brought in as an appropriation-in-aid. I should imagine that is how it would be done, and I have looked for an appropriation-in-aid, but I cannot find that there is one.
I am afraid I cannot quite follow the argument of the hon. and learned Member. Is he referring to some possible appropriation-in-aid which may result from the sale of certain articles? If that be so, it would not come in the present financial year, and I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to pursue that point.
On a point of Order. May I ask whether, if the articles which were sold were, paid for—if they were sold cash on delivery—whether that would not come into the proceedings on this Vote?
I would ask the Chief Secretary whether he has got any money yet for these articles which have been handed over to the Provisional Government? If he has not got any money for them, perhaps he will tell us why he has not taken it on delivery, which I should have thought was the best way. If they have been sold to the Provisional Government, let the Provisional Government pay for them. In regard to the Appropriations-in-Aid, the Chief Secretary said he had to come here and ask for £196,000, because the Appropriationsin-Aid fell short of the sum anticipated by that amount. In other words, the British taxpayer is asked to pay very nearly £200,000 more than was anticipated when the Estimates were brought in. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman's explanation aright, it is that these funds ought to have been paid by the local authorities in different parts of Ireland, but they have not paid a farthing; they have paid £200,000 less than what they ought to have paid. There were charges for extra police and other matters which ought to have been paid by them, and which were not paid, so that it is not merely a deficit in the amount of the Estimate, but a sum of £196,000 by which these local authorities are in actual de- fault. If they had paid their debts, we should not have been asked to pay this money now, and therefore may I ask an assurance from the Chief Secretary that that will be remembered when he is making a final settlement with the Provisional Government? Perhaps he will also tell us what efforts he has made to get this £106,000.
The Chief Secretary concluded his speech by an eloquent appeal to the Committee to support this Vote on the ground that the Royal Irish Constabulary had rendered great service to the country. There is not a man in the Committee who would disagree with the right hon. Gentleman on that point, but the question really is not whether the Royal Irish Constabulary have done their duty, but whether the Government have done their duty, whether we are justified in voting this extra sum of £1,474,370 to the Government, and whether the Government, if they had exercised the ordinary care which a proper Government should exercise, would not have been able to avoid this very large expenditure. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) has laid great stress on the question of pensions, but I would point out to the Committee that only £100,000 out of the total of nearly £1,500,000 is set aside for pensions. The other items are for pay, allowances, travelling expenses, clothing, arms, ammunition, barrack furniture, fuel, transport service, and so on. What I want to say is this, that if the Government had been going to surrender, why did they not surrender before it was necessary to bring forward these Supplementary Estimates? What they have done is to ask us to pay £1,500,000 for nothing at all. Therefore, I think the right hon. Gentleman, instead of appealing to the loyalty of the Royal Irish Constabulary, which was never in question, should have brought forward reasons to show why the Government spent this money, which has been spent absolutely unnecessarily and which has done no good to anybody.
I am sorry the hon. and learned Member for York has left the Chamber, because he asked one or two pertinent questions on some of these items. I will take, first of all, the item, "Arms, ammunition, accoutrements, and saddlery," which is explained to mean "arms and accoutrements for additional men; also additional machine guns, ammunition, etc." What has happened to these arms and accoutrements and machine guns? I suppose they are worth something. If they have been handed over, either to Mr. de Valera or to the Provisional Government, and have not been handed over for cash on delivery, I think the right hon. Gentleman has done a very foolish thing, because if he has only got a bit of paper in exchange, what value does he put on that bit of paper? The total value of these things is put down at £280,550. What shall we say is their value at second hand? Shall we say £200,000? If they gave £280,550 for them, and we take off something like 30 per cent. for soiled goods, slightly damaged, I think that is a very considerable amount to take off. Presuming, then, that the right hon. Gentleman has sold these things for £200,000 and received an acknowledgment but no cash, what would he discount that acknowledgment for, and would he be prepared to advance very much of his own money against this acknowledgment? Personally, I do not think he would. Then what about barrack furniture? Has that been handed over to the Irish Republican Army? What has happened to the transport service, which is put down at £205,000?? What is the Government going to get for these additional vehicles, tyres, etc.? They ought to be worth a very considerable sum
There is an item on page 31 of the Estimates: "Special advances to widows and children of murdered policemen," and I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman put rather an emphasis on the words "murdered policemen." Have the murderers of these policemen been hung, and if not, why not? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will kindly answer that. There are three or four rather extraordinary statements under the heading: "Pensions and gratuities." There is one item—
Pension to the widow of a sergeant killed in error by Crown forces.
and another item—
Pension to the widow of a sergeant killed in like circumstances.
I should like to ask how it is that these two sergeants were killed in error by the Crown forces. There is an item for the
widows of three constables killed on duty by the accidental discharge of their comrades' firearms,
and that is an unfortunate accident which might happen without any fault of the people concerned, but there is evidently a difference between that and these cases of two sergeants who were killed in error by Crown forces. They are very extra-ordinary items, and I should very much like to know how they arose. Then there is an item—
Pension to the widow of a constable killed in a motor accident, due to fast driving in a dangerous district.
What does that mean? Were the roads bad? Was the district dangerous because of the roads, or because of the gentlemen with whom the right hon. Gentleman has just made peace? Were there many of them about trying to shoot the unfortunate representatives of the Government? If so, fast driving, with only one or two constables in the car, perhaps, and a good many of these gentlemen about, would seem to me a proper thing to do. The hon. and learned Member for York asked about the item, "Appropriations-in-Aid"? As I understand the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, it comes to this, that the police forces, who were there to protect the subjects of the Empire, were paid, as in England, partly from Imperial funds and partly from local funds. Now, apparently, the local people, who were being protected by these police, refuse to pay the proper amount which is due. I am glad to see that there is a representative from Ireland in his place opposite, as he may be able to give us some light on this question.
I listened very carefully to the Chief Secretary, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not, and I founded my speech upon his statement. The right hon. Gentleman made some remarks about peace in Ireland. It is not my idea of peace. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the right hon. Gentleman is right, and we have peace in Ireland, why should we pay £196,000 to attain that result? Because that is what it comes to. I do not know whether I shall have the support of my hon. Friends from Ireland.
Then I shall certainly have their support. But why should we have to pay £196,000 to the local authorities in Southern Ireland, or whoever it is, because they refuse to carry out their duty? I do not see we gain any advantage by it, and I must insist upon an answer, because I am very much afraid that this is going to lead to something of the same sort, but to a very much larger degree. I am very much afraid we shall be asked to find Supplementary Estimates to pay people money which ought to have been found by the local authorities, and has not been found.
The item for travelling expenses appears to be a rather large sum. The Estimate says:
Increase in the numbers of the Force and payment on demobilisation of fares to homes in Great Britain of members of the Force recruited there, also underestimate.
What does "also underestimate" mean? It is not, to my intellect, very clear. Does that mean an underestimate of the number of the force, or an underestimate of the payment? Even allowing that the railway charges are reasonable—and, in my opinion, they are—the sum of £109,000 seems a very great deal to pay for the fares of men who were recruited in Great Britain and brought back again. I do not know what the numbers of these men were, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will kindly inform me.
If I rightly understand the question of my right hon. Friend, he wants to know the number of members of the loyal Irish Constabulary who were recruited in England and have been sent back from Ireland. The number is 6,622 of whom over 6,000 have already returned to Great Britain.
What I want to know is, why it costs £16 each to bring them over? It is only travelling expenses, and not gratuities and other charges. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give an answer to my questions that will enable me to support the Government on this occasion.
I am loath to intervene in the usual family quarrel that exists between the extreme Conservatives and their late hero, the Chief Secretary, but there are one or two questions I wish to ask that late hero—
My sorrow is tempered with a little pleasure, I am glad to say, and that is the attitude of my hon. Friends on this side, even when scrutinising these Estimates. I should first like to draw attention to the state of the Treasury Bench. It is called the Treasury Bench, because it is supposed to defend the people against unjust extortions, and to watch the interest of the Exchequer. We have the ample proportions of the right hon. Gentleman, who fills his office very admirably, and we have one of the Gentlemen-in-Waiting to His Majesty (Mr. Dudley Ward), but we have no representatives of the Treasury, so far as I can see, at the present moment. The Chancellor of the Exchequer does not deign to come down. The Financial Secretary was in for a few moments, and has now disappeared, and yet we are asked for a Supplementary Vote of £1,474,000, which comes on top of an Estimate—this is only one of the items for the better government of Ireland—of a total amount of £7,045,039 for the Royal Irish Constabulary alone. When this enormous Supplementary Estimate is presented, containing many questionable details to which the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has drawn attention, and which are open to grave doubt, no representative of the Treasury puts in an appearance. I think it is treating the House of Commons with contempt, and the taxpayer in the usual way of the Government.
I wish to follow up the questions which have been asked by putting one or two others which, I hope, are pertinent. Speaking for myself, and I hope for all hon. Members on this side, we do not intend to raise any objection whatever under the heading of "Special Advances to Widows and Children." I myself had to apply to the right hon. Gentleman for certain constituents of mine who suffered under the appalling conditions of Ireland last year, and I know it was necessary to make these advances. I am quite sure, therefore, no hon. Member on this side wants to make any objection to pensions or anything of that sort. With regard to gratuities that are being paid to-day to the demobilised members of the auxiliary division, I think it right to compare them with the gratuities paid to Army officers at the close of the War. At that tme, when money was worth a little less than it is now, the officers of the Army, I think, received about 124 days' pay for the first year of service, excluding allowances, and 62 days for each subsequent year or part of a year. I do not compare the Navy, because we received prize money, and the position is altogether different but I take the Army, where conditions were very similar to the conditions in Ireland, except that they were more strenuous. A commissioned officer, a lieutenant, received, I think, £90 for two years' service in the field and £120 for three years' service. The auxiliary cadet, I think, receives £70, and, in some cases, as high as £250. I am not going to make any comment about the £70 but under what circumstances does an auxiliary cadet get £250? He cannot have had more than two years' service.
I understood it was a gratuity, that they were not under any special contract, and that this was an act of grace. Perhaps, however, the hon. and gallant Gentleman is better informed than I am, and I will give way at once if that be so. This £250, however, is being paid to the auxiliary cadet, and we have not got the money to pay it, but it will have to be borrowed. This is not the time to pay £250 for two years' service when you paid your lieutenant only £90 for two years in the trenches. I think it is time we dropped heroics and came down to facts. I do not attack these men, but the Government. I want to see the men fairly treated, but we cannot afford to be lavish, and to pay £250, in the present state of the finances of the country, is wicked extravagance. Unless some more suitable explanation can be given than that which we have had already, when the meagre reduction of £5 has been disposed of, I hope someone will move a larger reduction, and enable us to put this matter to the test of a Division.
In view of the very large sum asked for these gratuities, may I ask how many of these men have been retained in Government service, because that makes a difference to the justice or otherwise of the grant of money? Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman if these cadets in many cases were not demobilised at all from Government service, but were at once shipped off to police forces elsewhere, and a great many were offered suitable employment in Palestine and other parts of the world? If that be so, can we be informed about it? Is it intended to employ these ex-special constables and auxiliary cadets in this country if required? Are they all in a roster to enable them to be called up in an emergency? Is it intended to employ them in this country in case of any large industrial dispute? Those are things we ought to be told, and I think they are relevant to the vote of this large sum of £371,000. Might I also ask what is the actual pay that is being given to the A Division Special Constabulary, and whether this pay ought not to be met, by the Northern Government, and why we are being asked at all? Is it the fact that the pay of a special constable is £5 a week and various allowances? Of course, if that is considered suitable pay for these special A constables by the Northern Government, I think the Northern Government ought, to pay it. I certainly do not think they ought to come to this House, in view of our straitened circumstances, and ask for this large vote of money. I should very much like enlightenment, on that point, and would be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for it.
I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks that I did not think anyone on this side of the House would object to special advantage being given to the widows and orphans of murdered policemen. I am quite confident about that; though I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question which I put to him several times last Session. The point is this: If it is right that the widows and orphans of assassinated police-constables should receive compensation immediately, without waiting for the machinery of the law to be put into motion, as to the amount and so on—they must not be allowed to suffer—the widows and orphans are as deserving of compassion in Ireland as in England; and I, therefore, ask where there have been cases of murders of Irishmen by the Crown forces, admitted murders, admitted by the right hon. Gentleman, by the King's Courts in Ireland, and admitted at courts martial—in one case committed, I believe, by an officer of the Crown—what happens to the widows and orphans of these murdered men? Have they yet received anything? I have one case in mind on which I put a particular question to the right hon. Gentleman when he was still the hero of the Conservative party, when they still believed in his policy, and his pledges—
I beg your pardon, Sir, but the point I was going to ask about was whether if it was possible to ask for money for the widows and children of police constables, it was impossible to ask for money for the relatives of other men murdered in Ireland? However, if I am wrong, I will at once leave that point to deal with other particulars of the Estimate. I do not think I quite understand the figures given by the Chief Secretary about the travelling expenses of 6,000 Black-and-Tans, which he put at £40,000. The sum seems very high. I do not understand how the money has been spent in bringing 6,622 men from Ireland to England. It works out at over £6 per head. I have done the journey several times, and I know the fare, and I think we ought to have some more details. In regard to Item G, I do not want to repeat the questions asked by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury), but I would like to ask another question as to the extra arms and accoutrements. The right hon. Baronet quite properly asked whether there had been any payment made by the Provisional Government for the 200 rifles and equipment handed over to them, and, I believe, 40 odd motor vehicles. Has there been any payment for the much larger amount of equipment handed over to the Northern Government of Ireland? Is it a fact that as many as 5,000 rifles were handed over to the Northern Government? I dare say, in the view of the Chairman of Committees of the Northern Parliament, the Imperial Government do not need the money.
I am talking of British rifles handed over by this British Government, not by the German Government. I should like to known if the statements are true which I have heard that 5,000 rifles were handed over to the Northern Government? If so were they paid for, or a receipt given, or a promise to pay, or a post-dated cheque given, or what? Has money been received or were these free goods? Were motor lorries and armoured cars given to them; if so what was the payment? Or will any money be given by way of offset against the various heavy payments which we are called to pay under this Supplementary Vote? Were machine guns given to the Northern Government and is any payment going to be made for them? If so, when will we get the money? I am told that the Northern Government already is £8,000,000 in debt. I hope we have some prior lien of some sort on their assets, collecting the customs or something of that sort, and that our money has not gone out of sight altogether.
Belfast is a wealthy city, and I should like to know whether we are going to have any better luck for these things we have handed over to the Northern Government than the Germans who sent the rifles to Danzig before the War. The question of incidental expenses comes under Item N. I think this deserves rather more explanation than we have had. We want a little more clarity on this question of motor ears supplied on the hire purchase system. It seems to me to be a most extraordinary transaction. Here we have the Government purchasing motor cars and selling them to these officers, the money to be paid by instalments. Now, apparently, from what I hear from every part of the House, these officers find themselves handicapped by the cars. They have lost their jobs. They want the Government to take the cars back, and it is not clear whether they have to keep the cars or sell them, or whether they have to go on making payments to the Government. The right hon. Gentleman at the Box opposite became suddenly very generous with other people's money, as he is wont to be, and he talked about these gallant fellows not being allowed to suffer. The whole transaction seems to me to be very irregular, as many of the transactions in the Irish Office have been in the last two years. But I should think the worst deeds of war procedure have been excelled in the imitation war period which has been enjoyed in Dublin Castle and which is now happily at an end. In particular, I think the blouse should be aware of the amount we have already voted under the head of Transport. In Item O of the main Vote, I find that for the purchase, maintenance, and running expenses of motor-transport vehicles, the amount in 1920–21 was over £894,000. It got to over £1,000,000. In 1921–22 we were asked for a Vote for £468,000. Now the Government come along and ask for an additional sum of £205,000—getting on for a quarter of a million—for provision for additional vehicles, tyres, petrol, etc.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme says "joy rides." I should like to know how this matter stands. We ought to have some explanation. The thing is dismissed briefly in these Supplementary Estimates, and the right hon. Gentleman only referred to it in a couple of sentences in his exposition. This amount on the top of the previous amounts of nearly £1,500,000 over the few years needs explanation. If this is the way our money is being spent in Ireland, I certainly think that the sooner there is a Commission set up to inquire into the whole of the finances of the Government of Ireland during the last few years the better. Some extraordinary revelations would probably be made. Take item Q (Pensions and Gratuities). There is a pension to an inspector-general of £1,456 13s. 4d. in lieu of £1,233 0s. 2d. I am not going to challenge the right hon. Gentleman for having spent this money without getting the prior consent of the House of Commons. That sort of thing has become much too common under this Government to be worth while wasting time over. Every time these irregularities in finance are drawn attention to the dumb battalions are whipped up and we are voted down. The Government asked for a blank cheque at the last election, and they take jolly good care to fill it in as they desire. This Inspector-General is getting an extra, £233 per year, and the right hon. Gentleman says that "his duties were dangerous, arduous and difficult." That is the excuse for it. I am quite sure those duties were as stated. The duties of everyone in Ireland were dangerous, arduous and difficult. The right hon. Gentleman himself found his duties dangerous, arduous and difficult; but why should this gentleman be singled out for an additional £233 per year because he had a dangerous and difficult task in Ireland? Why, if he gets it, should not every single soldier boy employed in Ireland, every drummer boy, every canteen attendant in Ireland, receive the same pro rata addition to his pension? After all, they all had a dangerous and difficult time. Why should this person be singled out? I make no attack personally. I do not know the man. I never heard his name before. I thought at first this additional pension was for Sir Joseph Byrne, and I was rather surprised to find it was somebody else. I thought it was an extra pension because of the shabby way he was treated by the right hon. Gentleman.
I absolve the right hon. Gentleman, but he was of colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman. At any rate, why is Sir Thomas Smith to be entitled to this extra £233 yearly; if so, why are not the rank and file entitled to extra pension? What is sauce for the goose is surely sauce for the gander! This requires a little more explanation. I shall certainly not vote for this extra pension until we get a more satisfactory explanation. If I thought that this was the last we were going to hear of Supplementary Estimates from the Chief Secretary, I should be inclined to pass them in order to get rid of his wretched administration, but this is not the last. We are going to have many more claims in regard to burnings at Balbriggan and Cork and other places. I hope we shall have some assurances from those Members of the Northern Parliament in this House that they are going to help the English taxpayers out of this difficulty, because a great deal of the trouble has been caused by them.
I hope hon. Members will come to the relief of the British Exchequer in regard to this matter. This is an example of loose finance and questionable methods from start to finish, and I hope the House, unless we get some more satisfactory explanation, will refuse to pass this Vote.
I should like to say a word or two with reference to the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who has just sat down, about the pension of Sir Thomas Smith. It seems to me that it is particularly mean to attack that increase in his pension when the whole rank and file of the Royal Irish Constabulary have had their pensions increased on account of the coming to an end of that magnificent force. Every one of them had a certain number of years added, and if the rank and file had their pension increased I do not see why the respected chief of that force should not come under the same rule. I think we should support the Chief Secretary in voting that salary. At the beginning of this Debate the Chief Secretary paid a great tribute to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and I hope that will be supplemented later on in a larger way, because it would be a poor thing if, after 100 years of magnificent service, that force was allowed to pass away without some more permanent record of the opinion of this House. The Royal Irish Constabulary were not only the pride of their own country, but they stood higher in the estimation of foreign countries than any other police force in the world.
The Chief Secretary said that he had dealt generously in regard to the pensions and bonuses granted to this force, but I wish to draw attention to the fact that a very large number of the members of the Auxiliary Division have not been treated with anything like generosity, but, on the contrary, in the most shabby way. I do not believe that this House when it knows the fact will for one moment support the Government in the line they have adopted towards these splendid men. In June, 1921, the Government, through the Irish Office, asked a large number of auxiliary cadets to re-engage for another year, and acting on that invitation several hundreds of them did re-engage to serve up to July, 1922. Not only were their engagements witnessed by two witnesses, but there was an official recognition of the acceptance of the contract which had actually been given. Nearly two months after this an Order came out repudiating the contract on the part of the Government and saying that those contracts would not be valid in the future. I do not believe there is a single Member of this House who will deny that it is a fact that up till the present whatever the British Government has actually put into a contract has been carried out to the letter. I think to behave in this way to a force like the Auxiliary Division—their contract was accepted before the surrender to the rebels took place—to accept their contracts and then tear them up afterwards is exceedingly mean and a thing which this House, in my opinion, will not agree with.
I do not think it is possible that this House will support the Government in this matter unless they entirely alter their decisions. It should be remembered that these men could have been compelled to serve if hostilities had gone on, and the Government have no right to tear up that contract and say, "We will not pay you up to the date of your contract, but we will give you a great deal less." The difference is between £70 and £360 in some cases. In the case of an officer named Major Green he was actually offered last year a position in the Ministry of Pensions as a second-grade clerk at £450 a year, and he refused it because he had signed one of these contracts, and then he finds afterwards that the contract which he thought he was pledged to stick to is torn up and thrown in his face and he is now without employment. I do not believe the House will agree to such a thing as that. I think the Chief Secretary will agree with me when I say that that sort of thing has never been done before by any public authority. Last year we had a case on similar lines when the British troops were sent out to India as a replacing force after the War. They were promised that pay should be given to them at the rate of exchange of 1s. 4d. to the rupee, and when the British Army got out there—
I was only giving this as an illustration and an analogy, and when the Indian Government found that faith had been broken with these troops they at once insisted upon putting matters right, although I believe a large sum of money was involved. The Secretary of State for India, who was the responsible Minister, directly this matter was brought to his notice, did his duty and insisted that the contract with the troops should be carried out. I consider that the Chief Secretary in the case I have mentioned is in a similar position. It is necessary that the pledged word of the Government should be kept absolutely to the letter with regard to these men, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is not prepared to give an answer when he replies at least to set up a Select Committee to deal with this question, and also with the several other minor grievances of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who are being disbanded, so that they will know that this matter is being properly adjusted. I believe any Select Committee would at once back up the claim of those auxiliaries, whose contracts were torn up and who found themseleves actually worse off than the men who joined after the Truce. These are the men who did the fighting and the dangerous work, and they were not allowed to re-engage, whilst other men who were actually enlisted by the Government after the Truce got a large sum on disbandment than the men doing this dangerous work. I feel sure that the Chief Secretary wishes to do the right thing, and if he cannot give me a satisfactory answer this evening I hope he will consent to appoint a Committee to deal with the matter.
There are one or two other cases with reference to disbandment. There is the case of the mechanics of the Royal Irish Constabulary. This is a matter upon which I questioned the right hon. Gentleman in the last two weeks of the Session, and I wish to bring to the notice of the Committee the fact that the Prime Minister last year said in reply to a question in this House that this was an obligation of honour. He said:
The loyalty and gallantry of their service have been such that it would be a dishonour to any Government or any party to neglect their interests.
Here is another case where I do not think the generosity which the Prime Minister alluded to has been carried out. I wish to give the Prime Minister his due, because his enemies have never accused him of being niggardly in handing out public money. As regards these constable mechanics, they were originally engaged to serve on a yearly contract. In a question I pointed out to the Chief Secretary that these men were engaged on a yearly contract, that it was subsequently modified into a monthly contract, and finally into a weekly contract, and he denied that that was the case. I have chapter and verse here for my statement. I have in my hand the notices calling for recruits and each one states that it is a yearly contract. It says:
Here is a job for you at good pay. Are yon a motor driver or a mechanic? If so, join the transport section of the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Then follow the conditions offered upon a yearly contract. These men were serving on a yearly contract and they have been discharged with a sum of £10 as a gratuity. Some of them were actually sent off on the date on which their contract expired without any notice whatever. Some of them were sent away from Dublin and were told that they would have to pay their own passage money home, although I know that that matter has been put right since. That is how they started. Last June, 30
were treated in that way. They were told to find their way back to England and pay their fares themselves. The matter was raised in this House. I have a paper signed by three sergeants and four constables, dated the 14th November, stating that on the preceding day they were notified that their services were no longer required and that their duty would cease from that date. They were also told to find their way home without their passages being paid. That, surely, is not generous treatment to mete out to these men. These mechanics now have great difficulty in getting work. Some of them were turned out with a bonus of £10 instead of being allowed to take on another year's engagement at 10s. a day. They find it very difficult to get work in this country. Some complain that even here there is a certain amount of feeling against them in their trade unions because they served in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and it militates against their getting employment. In the case of these men an extraordinary bungle was made. An Order was issued on the 5th October from Dublin Castle directing county inspectors that temporary mechanics who had completed 12 months' service should be allowed to draw their bonus and to re-engage for a further 12 months. Some did so re-engage, but two days afterwards another Order was issued cancelling the first one and intimating that for the present no men were to be engaged for a year or any other fixed term, but those who completed their yearly engagement might be retained subject to a month's notice on either side. That is bungling and very bad management, and it certainly was not fair to the men. It is a matter which might well be inquired into by the Committee which I have suggested should be set up.
There are one or two other little points I wish to touch upon. There is the case of a man who, serving as a constable in Ireland, had his house and furniture at Liverpool destroyed by fire. When he applied for compensation, which he would have got if his house had been situated in Ireland, he was told that the Irish Government could give him nothing. He then applied to the Treasury in this country and was informed that they could pay him nothing. Not only has the man lost his house and furniture, but his wife and children suffered badly through being turned into the street, and he has had to pay a doctor's bill in consequence. The Irish Office and the Treasury played battledore and shuttlecock with him. That, too, is a case which, I think, the Chief Secretary should lay before the Committee I want him to set up. Still another case is that of 12 temporary head constables and 17 temporary sergeants of the Royal Irish Constabulary. These men were holding temporary but very responsible positions for about a year during troubled times. They were all men of long service in the Royal Irish Constabulary, but they only bad temporary rank although they had been promised promotion—a promise which was never carried out in order to save a little bit of their pension. That, again, is not a generous and honourable way of treating these men, and their case ought to be taken into consideration and justice done by them by promoting them to their full rank as promised and giving them the advantage of the higher pension.
I was only pointing out the way in which these men had been treated, and suggesting that the Chief Secretary should re-adjust this particular Estimate. These are small matters I brought forward in order to show that there have been many causes of irritation, and that cases have been treated with a great lack of generosity. Here is one other small point. It is only a matter of 10s., but it affects men who served over a large part of the country. Temporary constables were engaged at 10s. per day, and that, with 365 days to the year, represents £182 10s. The Treasury insisted on their pound of flesh. They said the men were only allowed £182 a year, and they called on a number of them to refund the 10s., although they had worked for it. It is a small matter, but it tends to show that the Irish bureaucracy is no better than any other red-tape institution. These things cause great irritation and discontent throughout the country, and they ought not to occur, especially when we are dealing with a body of men who have rendered such fine service to the nation. Cannot the Chief Secretary see his way, even if he cannot at once give a satisfactory answer with reference to the case of the ex-officers of the Auxiliary Division, to agree to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the whole question of the grievances which have arisen since the disbandment of the Royal Irish Constabulary?
I am not concerned to disagree with the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite and other hon. Members who have drawn attention to certain grievances of persons who have been engaged by the Chief Secretary to carry out his policy. It is quite obvious that if the Chief Secretary has a policy such as has been referred to, someone must pay the bill for it when it comes in. I hear an hon. Member suggest that we should change both the policy and the Chief Secretary.
This, at any rate, is a coherent piece of policy for which this is the bill, and we are dealing with it in the light of the present public demand for economy. Last year's Estimate was £3,500,000. That was increased in the course of the financial year to £6,000,000. The Vote for the current year when brought in was £7,200,000, and it has now been increased to £8,400,000. These are items which go to make up the £175,000,000 which the taxpayers are hoping to be relieved of. They are items which they might have been relieved of many months ago to the advantage of the taxpayer and to the advantage of trade generally. I should like to complain of the way in which this Committee is being treated by the responsible officials of the Government. I am not going to say anything about the merits of the Vote, for I know nothing about them, although I would point out that the difference between the £250 paid to the inspector-general as an additional risk allowance and the £15 allowed to the
motherless child of a murdered constable is very marked. There is no representative of the Treasury present to-day except an hon. Gentleman who occupies a sinecure post. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury makes a point of absenting himself from Debates in which his opinions are essential. I would like to know, did the Treasury actually sanction the extra statutory allowance to the inspector-general; if it did not, it is characteristic of the loose way in which control is being exercised by the Treasury on matters of finance, particularly in connection with this Department. This is a bill which the taxpayer has to pay for the privilege of having the right hon. Gentleman as Chief Secretary last year. I did not agree with the policy for which this Estimate is the Bill. We thought it was wrong and disgraceful, but here is the bill. A point on which we can all agree is, we were told when this expense was being incurred that the policy was a success. The right hon. Gentleman stated in this House that the policy of the Government was succeeding and succeeding rapidly. He added:
The general condition of Ireland, in my opinion, is improving. In two-thirds or nearly three-fourths of Ireland there is as great peace as in the County of Kent.
That was towards the end of 1920.
This is an estimate which has come into course of payment during the year ending the 31st March, 1922, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman is now speaking of an earlier period.
I think the policy was defended on the ground of its success during the whole of the last financial year. I want to put this direct question to the right hon. Gentleman. Here is a very large Bill, one-sixth in excess of the Bill originally presented for this policy. When the right hon. Gentleman was incurring that Bill he told the House of Commons, every day when he was asked, that the policy was succeeding. Was the right hon. Gentleman misleading the House of Commons? Did he believe at that time that his policy was succeeding? And was it true that a large part of the country was becoming peaceable?
Then how is it the large sum of money which should have been paid by the local councils was not handed over with the result that local government was brought to a standstill in Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman may have been right or he may have been wrong in the policy that he pursued, but he did not give the facts to the House of Commons. He was put up to defend day by day on the ground of success—not of morality, God forbid that—a policy which now, on the admission of every one of his leaders in the Government, was a failure and never could have succeeded except at an enormous expenditure of public money. It is on these grounds that I say the right hon. Gentleman misled the House of Commons and the country, and now we have to pay an enormous and unnecessary bill, which is not only a loss of money, but involves very great loss of credit and prestige to the people of this country, because, unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman cannot act alone. He acts as a representative of the Government and as a person who is supported by this House of Commons, and whatever discredit he incurs is not only discredit to himself but involves us in a common discredit with him.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman some other questions. There is a bill for transport. Does this include the provision of the motor-ears which carried hostages through the streets in Ireland—Colonel Moore, for example? Is that a charge which we have to pay, and does the right hon. Gentleman now defend, in the light of what has happened, the practice in regard to carrying as fire screens officers like Colonel Moore, who had served this country in its wars abroad? I am appealing from Philip drunk to Philip sober. Let me take another case. These expenditures were expenditures for additional troops connected with the policy of reprisals. We have the well-known report of Judge Bodkin, which gives a list of awards amounting to £187,000—all, I think, in County Clare alone, but I am not sure. That is on the authority, uneontradicted, of a judicial officer, and it is a list of awards in respect of criminal injuries found to have been committed by armed forces of the Crown—the people for whom we are paying to-day. Does the right hon. Gentleman feel inclined to defend that policy to-day? Does he say it succeeded, or has produced any good result, or anything except shame? There is an account for petrol. Was this the petrol that was used by the right hon. Gentleman's own men to burn Cork? I say that it was the right hon. Gentleman's own troops who assisted in the burning of Cork. He dare not deny that. He is in the position of other persons who were to have been cross-examined before inquests and inquiries—he dare not go into the box. He knows perfectly well that in the archives of Dublin Castle—if they were not burnt before he vacated that fortress—there is a report on the Cork burnings, and he knows he is afraid to produce it in the House of Commons. That might throw some light on the expenditure of an additional £1,200,000 which is to be sweated out of the pockets of the British taxpayer. These are some of the questions of principle which arise on this Supplementary Estimate. The right hon. Gentleman comes for a small sum; he asks us to increase his powers; he tells us that he has succeeded; he now comes for a much larger sum, and his colleagues all explain that he has failed. In the meantime he has invoved this country in an administration than which for 100 years there has been none more shameful in the history of the British Empire. What is he going to say to that? Is he going to disavow the past? Is he going to publish the Strickland Report? Is he going to give us some information—because we are entitled to some information before this Estimate receives the approval of the Committee of Supply?
The hon. Member is wrong; I was here a long time before he came in. It is a remarkable thing that on this Estimate the right hon. Gentleman should be criticised from two entirely different points of view, because they cover a period during which the Government has completely revolutionised its policy. I intend to direct my criticisms to the latter half of the Government's policy, and not to that period to which the hon. and gallant Member Who has just sat down has been alluding. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell the Committee what notice was given to the Auxiliaries of the Royal Irish Constabulary who have now been dismissed. An hon. Member who spoke a little earlier gave some extraordinary instances of the way in which these men have been treated. I do not care in what part of the House hon. Members may sit, I think everyone must agree that those who made a contract with the Government in order to assist the Government to carry out its policy, are entitled to have that contract respected by the Government. Whether you approve or not of the enrolment of the Black-and-Tans, as they were called, that is a matter upon which we can criticise the Government. That these men should be dealt with fairly and squarely if they have entered into a contract with the Government, is a matter about which, I imagine, there will be no dispute from any quarter of the House. The right hon. Gentleman is fond of asking hon. Members to give him specific instances of hardship which have occurred under his administration. He has been given a number of specific instances, and I sincerely hope that he will reply with regard to cases like that of Major Green which have been mentioned this afternoon, and will deal with them as he has invariably promised he would deal with cases which were brought to his attention. After all, you have to remember that these men have been discharged and turned adrift at the very depth of the slump in employment. They could not possibly have been discharged at a more difficult time for them, and I want to know what sort of arrangements have been made by the Government in order to provide for these men who served them through one of the most difficult and critical periods in their history. The right hon. Gentleman himself has borne the most eloquent testimony to these men's gallantry and bravery and loyalty. They have now been turned adrift owing to a change of policy on the part of the Government, and I ask him to satisfy the Committee that the Government have behaved to these men in the spirit in which they served the Government. I do not think that mere discharge in any way meets the case. The right hon. Gentle- man has told us that these Auxiliaries were entitled to no pension. That is no doubt the case, but I should like to be satisfied that the Government have taken or intend to take steps to try to see these men through the difficult period that must now be lying before them. Has the right Gentleman done anything, and do the Government intend to do anything, to secure employment for them, to help them get employment in other Government Departments, or in some way to set them out in life. It would have been easy for many of them to get employment a year or eighteen months ago, but, instead, they elected to serve the right hon. Gentleman, and now they are being turned adrift at a time when in many cases it is practically impossible for them to get employment.
Another question is with regard to the pensions of the Royal Irish Constabulary. These men, in the normal course of events, could have looked forward to a full term of employment, and then to retiring on a pension on which they could live. What is the position of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary who has served, say, for ten years, and now finds himself pensioned off? Is the pension that the right hon. Gentleman is giving him one on which a man can live, and, if not, what steps are the Government taking to assist him in getting other employment? The Committee has always to remember that these men who have served in the Royal Irish Constabulary are in many eases marked men in their own localities, and no one there will dare to employ them. In spite of the appeal which the right hon. Gentleman has made this afternoon, he must know that in many cases it will be impossible for them to get employment in their own localities, and the Government's duty to them is not by any means discharged if it merely turns them off with a few years added to their pension, as provided in the Act of 1920. These men have stood by the Government through the terrible period of last year, and it is for the Government to see that they are not let down now. In the statement before the Committee there are some extraordinary discrepancies with regard to these pensions, which I confess I have been unable to understand. On page 31, there is an item for:
Pension to the widow of a sergeant killed in error by Crown forces of £82 6s. 8d., and
allowances to his six children of £82 6s. 8d. in all.
I take it that that is not £164, but that that £82 covers the pension to the widow of the sergeant and his six children. The wording is very strange. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman can tell me whether I am correct, but, as I read it, the sum of £82 6s. 8d. covers the entire pension allowed to the widow of this unfortunate sergeant and her six children. That is about 30s. a week, on which a woman and six children have got to live. If they had been unemployed in Poplar they would have been getting more than double that sum, and I venture to say that it is a totally inadequate pension for a woman with six children, whose husband was killed in the service of the Crown. On 30s. a week it is perfectly impossible for a woman to live decently with six children dependent upon her. In the next paragraph there is:
Pension to the widow of a sergeant killed in like circumstances of £80 3s. 4d., and allowance to the child of £16 0s. 8d. per annum.
As I understand that, this unfortunate widow is getting £80 3s. 4d. for herself and £16 0s. 8d. in respect of her child. That is to say, a widow with one child is getting £96 4s., and a widow with six children is getting £80 0s. 4d. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman could explain the basis on which that calculation is arrived at, because on the face of it there appears to be an extraordinary discrepancy between those two amounts.
The right hon. Baronet told us that these unfortunate widows of men of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were murdered received a pension of two-thirds of their husband's pay. Does that pension also extend to other dependants of the murdered men? For instance, supposing the murdered man was the sole supporter of a widowed mother, would she be entitled to a pension in respect of him? Is there any allowance in respect of children? How long are these pensions for? Are they for life? These are questions which I think ought to be answered. Consider the position in which these wretched women find themselves. A large part of their husbands' time was spent in barracks, in which their board and lodging was provided by the Government, and in many cases a large portion of their pay was available for their wives and families. One day a man is mur- dered, and his widow is asked to accept two-thirds of her husband's pay. I really do not think that is adequate. Why should she lose a third of her livelihood because her husband has been murdered? I really think there is need for greater generosity in the way the humbler servants of the Government have been treated over this Irish business. Then there are some questions I should like to ask in regard to the treatment of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the auxiliaries. The right hon. Gentleman has paid eloquent tribute to their services, but I think the country will require a little more than lip service. The Government are fully entitled to revolutionise their policy in Ireland if they think fit, and if they can command the consent of the country to doing so, but they must not leave humble men in the cart, and it is up to them to see that no one of the servants who served them so devotedly a year ago is now penalised as a result of the Government's policy.
Then there are some questions I should like to ask in regard to the extraordinary transactions which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, but did not really explain, under which Government motorcars were sold on the instalment system to members of the Auxiliary Royal Irish Constabulary for use on Government work. If these motor-cars were required for Government purposes, why were they not supplied to the officers themselves? If they were not required for Government purposes, what right has the Government to sell them on easy terms to anybody? What happened if these cars, while being used for Government work, were injured or damaged? Supposing a Sinn Fein bullet penetrated the tyre of one, what happened? Would the Government supply a new part? Would they repair the car, or did the officer have to do it, and what is the position now? These officers have paid a certain proportion of the instalments for these cars. Do they belong to the officers or to the Government? And what is going to happen now that the Government have stopped the officers' pay? How are they to go on paying the instalments? The officer has got the motor-car, but it is of no use to him, because he has not the money to keep it up. Is he entitled to sell it, and what steps does the Government propose to take if he has done so? Is the Government going to sue him for the return of the car, or does it propose to hand back the instalments which he has paid, together with interest? It is the most amazing transaction that has ever been undertaken by a Government Department and brought to light in this House. What sort of cars were these? Did the Government make a profit out of them? Did they come from the Slough Depot? Was the Government using one financial enterprise in order to launch another one, or did the Government buy new cars and sell them to these officers on the instalment principle? The right hon. Baronet was heckled on the subject, but he did nothing but smile blandly on the four or five hon. Members who were pressing him and on the empty benches which surrounded him. Was it intended that the Government should make a profit out of this transaction or did they intend to make a loss, and is it that loss that we are called upon to pay now? I really think a little further explanation is required on this point, not because the sum of money involved is very large, but because the principle is such a new one.
It is certainly State trading. I have had occasion to protest about Government trading in another matter, but this appears to be a new branch of Government trading, and I should like to see the profit and loss account of the transaction audited and explained. I do not think this Committee ought to allow a transaction of this extraordinary sort to pass unchallenged. There is another item on which I should like to put some further questions than those which have already been put. I refer to Item R—Appropriations-in-Aid, £196,000. That, I understand, is money which is owing to the Government by the Irish county councils but which the Government has no hope of recovering. It is really a bad debt which the Government is writing off. Why has not this item been put in the balance of the account which the Government is going to settle up with Mr. Michael Collins?
This and a great number of other items will be taken into account in the general balance struck between the Provisional Government and our own Government, just as there are many items which will strike a balance between the Northern Government and the British Government.
The Noble Lord was very solicitous for the future of the men of the Auxiliary who are being disbanded, and suggested that something mighb be done with regard to finding situations for them. That is just the plea that has been put up from these benches on many occasions with regard to ex-service men, and the only reply we have received from the Government is emigration, and that is probably the reply which will be furnished to the Noble Lord. The point I want to raise an this Vote is a rather curious one. We have been told that there is an allowance of £233 being added to the pension of £1,233 of a retired inspector, and the reason given by the right hon. Baronet was that this man had occupied a very difficult position, which was bound to have considerable strain upon him and in which he incurred a great many dangers. Further down, under the same heading, I find an allowance to the motherless children of a constable, who had been killed, £15 each. It seems rather remarkable that one man should receive £233, in addition to a pension already received of £1,233, and two children, whose father not only had to undergo the worry and the strain of night duty and day duty, but actually lost his life, have to be brought up on £15 a year each until they are 16 years of age, whereas the £233, additional to the pension of £1,233, is to go on until this retired inspector dies. In this case, as in every case, it is the common mem- ber of the force and his dependants who come off the worst. It is a scandal that this Government should ask, and expect, that two orphans can be brought up on £15 a year, and that that is the value they place upon the potential manhood and womanhood of this country, while a man who has his life, and who did not have any more risk to run than the parent of these two children, is to receive £233 extra for so-called additional risk.
We must take the puzzles that are given to us in this Supplementary Estimate and try to analyse them as best we can. Under the heading of "Incidental Expenses," the right hon. Gentleman told us that £6,000 of the £66,000 were for motor cars, which were being sold upon the hire system to the officers of the Auxiliary Force. Why does it appear under "Incidental Expenses"? There is an item, "Transport Service," which we are told relates to the provision for additional vehicles, tyres, etc. One would imagine that anything pertaining to motor cars would have come under the heading "Transport Service." Apparently with the idea of concealing things, the hire purchase system has been hidden away under the heading of "Incidental Expenses." If there had not been questions about it the item would have slipped through without anyone knowing that there was a hire purchase department in connection with the Irish Office. I do not know whether in regard to the disposal of clothing and barrack furniture there is also a department for the sale of the goods on the hire purchase system. There is an item relating to bedding, furniture, etc., for additional men, miscellaneous barrack supply, and increased clothing, etc. These items amount to £20,000 and £39,000 respectively. Seeing that the force has been depleted, a lot of the barrack furniture will be superfluous. Has the right hon. Gentleman adopted a hire purchase furnishing system in order to enable some of the people whose houses were burned in Cork to refurnish with some of the barrack furniture? Or is he going to donate some of the furniture to those people whose homes were bereft of furniture because of the action of Government troops in Cork and other parts of the country? Questions have been asked whether any of the petrol provided for was used in the outrages committed in Ireland, but we have never received any satisfactory reply. The wonder to me is that the Government are not putting forward further claims with regard to these burnings, and the expenses of the troops there.
The time has arrived when there is likely to be peace in Ireland, and we hope it will continue, and that there will be no necessity for a Vote of any additional Supply for Ireland from this country, or the sending of any military or police force from this country to Ireland. We look forward to the happy days which the Chief Secretary for Ireland has assured us during the last two years were coming in a week or two. We are looking forward to them, at any rate, in the next few months. We trust that his hopes will be realised with regard to getting back certain sums which he is losing under the Appropriation-in-Aid, and that the money will not be lost to the Treasury. In any case, the whole Supplementary Estimate is a condemnation of the policy of the Government in Ireland. The very fact that they have to come forward and ask for such a large additional Supplementary Estimate is a condemnation of the right hon. Gentleman's policy in Ireland, and of those who were associated with him in that policy. The whole treatment of Ireland and the large inducements which were offered to men to go over there, coupled with the hiding of things that were done by some of those men in their excitement, are reasons why the Government have to come before the House now for this large additional sum. I hope some hon. Member will move a larger reduction than the £5 reduction which has been moved, and that we may have a chance of going to a vote upon it, and of showing to the Government that we reprobate the policy which they have adopted. This may be the last occasion we shall have an opportunity of doing so, and I hope we shall decline to vote money required to back up such a policy.
I rise to deal with two points concerned with the provision for disbandment under Subhead "Q." What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do in the way of paying up quickly the sums to which the discharged officers of the Auxiliary division are now entitled? I understand that so far it has been arranged that these liabilities should be dealt with by the 31st March. I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should give sympathetic treatment in those cases, and deal promptly with the matter, because promptness of payment means the whole difference between unemployment and work in a large number of cases. The kind of case brought to one's notice is that of an officer who has an offer of work on a ranch in Mexico If he has to be kept hanging about for his money, probably he loses the appointment, and in any case he spends a great deal of his resources waiting for his money, which would have been spent to a far better purpose if he could have taken his passage and gone out at once. Seeing the difficulty that many of these men will have in getting employment, I do urge the right hon. Gentleman to use the provision for disbandment in the promptest way he can, realising that he gives twice who, in this matter, gives quickly.
With respect to the arrangement for compensation which has been offered to the Auxiliary Division and the Royal Irish Constabulary, I am afraid that the terms are less generous than the terms to which the Royal Irish Constabulary were entitled under the Act which this House passed two years ago. Under the Act of 1920 the Irish members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were to get 12 years added to their service for the purpose of computing pensions, and six years' notice, because it remained a reserve service for six years. It is laid down in the Treaty that they are not to get any less favourable terms. The Chief Secretary has offered them 12 years, but 12 years now is nothing like so favourale for them as 12 years, with six years' notice, because these men cannot in a moment find other employment. Under the old arrangement they had six years in which to turn round and make provision for their livelihood by the time their engagement came to an end. I urge upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should give the men compensation for disturbance. Owing to their devoted service, they have got into very bad odour with some of those who will be enabled to persecute them if they stay in their present neighbourhood. In many cases the men are prevented from living in Ireland, and it is only reasonable that they should get a lump sum to enable them to remove their families from Ireland and to tide them over the difficult period during which they are looking for work. I believe they have put forward alternative proposals, very reasonable proposals, for a lump sum much less than that they would have got under the arrangement of the 1920 Act with six years' notice. They have put forward an alternative offer that for two years they should get their pension made up to full pay, to enable them to meet the heavy cost which, through no fault of their own, has been thrown upon them.
These men are being treated exactly on the same lines in regard to adding the twelve years as the emergency men who were brought over for a purely military purpose. They have a far better case for favourable treatment than the emergency men who did not uproot their families and plant them in Ireland. There is a strong case for giving better terms to these men who were in the old force, and who will have to face very heavy expense. The emergency men have not to worry about their families; they never expected to get provision for the whole of their lifetime in regard to employment. If such terms have been offered to and are fair to the British recruits, they are far too little for the Irishmen, who are being thrown out of work. In view of the sympathetic references, which which I am sure the House strongly sympathises, made by the Chief Secretary in dealing with the constabulary generally—the finest armed force we have within the British Empire—I hope he will reconsider this matter, and turn his sympathy into something more effective than words. I am afraid that if he leaves the matter as it is, we shall be open to the reproach that we have thrown these men aside, left them in a state of great difficulty in regard to finding employment, and have not given them sufficiently good terms to tide them over the hard times that must elapse before they are able to place themselves in other occupations.
When the Government have settled these claims it will mean a very heavy pension bill which the taxpayers of this country will be forced to pay, as the result of the right hon. Gentleman's policy during the last 12 months. In his opening speech the right hon. Gentleman referred to the winding up of this service. He may be winding up the activities of the Irish Constabulary in Ireland, but he has placed on the shoulders of the British taxpayer, according to the Supplementary Estimate, a yearly burden of £849,000. That is a large increase on the original Estimate presented early in the year, and a still larger increase on the Estimate presented in this House last year. This particular Supplementary Estimate is one of the 25 which the Government are bringing before the House during the present financial year. It is true that the amount, £1,500,000, is a small one for the present Government to ask the House to pass, but this figure is part of the £100,000,000 odd which the Government have asked or are asking the House of Commons to pass by way of Supplementary Estimates this year.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has reminded the House of Commons that he has saved £40,000,000, but I would remind the Committee that for every pound saved this year the Government are asking the House of Commons to find an extra £2 10s. This Supplementary Estimate brings the total cost of the Irish Constabulary forces to £8,500,000. Compare this figure with the original Estimate for last year of £3,500,000. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman has involved the additional burden of £5,000,000 this year. I had hoped that when he was asking the House of Commons for this very large sum of money he would have told the Committee the total cost of his policy in Ireland during the present financial year, not only the cost of the Royal Irish Constabulary force but the extra burden placed on the nation through damage to property and through the cost of the military and naval forces. The Committee, in considering this Estimate, would then be able to look at the Estimate as a whole and take note of the fact that the £1,500,000 which is asked for this afternoon is only a small part of the very heavy burden which the policy of His Majesty's Government has placed on the taxpayers this year.
On the question of pensions, I would ask whether the pensions to the Royal Irish Constabulary are based on the War bonus? Are the pensions of individuals retiring from the Royal Irish Constabulary during the present year based on the War bonus under the same absurd system as is applied to individuals retiring from the Civil Service of this country? To ask the Committee to find money to-day to pay in perpetuity, to persons retiring from the Royal Irish Constabulary, pensions based upon a transitory war allowance, granted for a temporary and specific purpose, is grossly unfair to every taxpayer in this country. My hon. Friends who were associated with me raised this subject last week in Debate. We will return to the subject again, but I think that the Committee are entitled to a definite answer on this specific point which I put to the right hon. Gentleman—are these pensions based on the temporary War bonus which His Majesty's Government have granted to a very large number of those who are serving the State? In the detailed statement of the Chief Secretary it was announced that there was a large increase in the pay which, he informed the Committee, is due to the increased number of the force. How many of the additional number were enlisted in the Royal Irish Constabulary, because that has a direct bearing upon the Bill for pensions which the British taxpayer will be forced to pay in future years.
Then the right hon. Gentleman gave a detailed estimate of the £280,000 for arms, ammunition, equipment, etc. Were fresh contracts made or fresh purchases made to provide these particular articles this year, or did the right hon. Gentleman draw on the War Office for the supply of these things? Did he invite factories to make additional machine guns, ammunition and arms? He referred in his speech to the word "purchases." Therefore I infer that fresh contracts have been entered into for these particular items. If contracts were made and fresh purchases were made, I would suggest it was a great waste of public money for, according to the Geddes Report, the policy of His Majesty's Government is that the War Office are entitled to keep four years' stock of their military requirements Therefore there is a considerable store of arms, ammunition, lorries and tyres in the possession of the War Office. Did the Chief Secretary incur new expenditure for these things or draw on the large store in possession of the War Office? Reference has been made by several hon. Members to the pension granted to the Inspector-General. May I remind the Committee that last year pensions were granted to only six inspector-generals, deputy and assistant inspector-generals. To-day, instead of six there are a dozen drawing pensions. Was it necessary for this distinguished officer to be retired? We have before us the clear result of the policy of the Government in the cost of millions of pounds which has been imposed upon the taxpayer. The public will take notice that the Government have been reckless in their expenditure, and have not duly safeguarded the interests of the taxpayer in the administration of public money.
I desire to refer for a moment to what has been said by the Chief Secretary in reference to this great force, the Royal Irish Constabulary. No praise could be too great for these men who, during the distressful times through which they have passed during the last few years, have shown great courage and great loyalty, not only to the Government of this country, but to everybody in Ireland as well. I do not propose to follow the last speaker, who seemed anxious to change this Debate from a consideration of Supplementary Estimates for the Royal Irish Constabulary into a political attack on his opponent, which is not suitable to the present occasion. The question of the police force, whether in Ireland or England, to my mind, does not lend itself to the jeering or the laughter with which it is sometimes greeted. It is a very serious question. In dealing with these Supplementary Estimates, if I say anything at all about them, it would be that the police pensions and allowances are hardly generous enough.
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has in these Estimates considered the question of any allowance for those men, who have been retired, to cover the cost of moving their homes and all they can from Southern Ireland where, there can be no question about it, they are not popular members of the community? Judging from the letters one gets from friends in Ireland and from the police, it is pretty certain that members of the Royal Irish Constabulary are marked men. However well intentioned, the leaders of the new Government of Southern Ireland will not be able to protect these men who have done their duty in recent years, and their great anxiety will be, on retirement, to get away from their present locations. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman in the Supplementary Estimates has included any allowance for men who have removed their homes, and who are being retired through no fault of their own. In winding up the Royal Irish Constabulary in Ireland has the right hon. Gentleman given any attention, as he promised a deputation from Ireland which waited on him that he would do, to the hard lot of the pensioners before the 1st April, 1919? Their lot in Ireland, where they are practically cut off from all relations with their neighbours, where they are boycotted and subject to other forms of ill-treatment, is a particularly hard one, and their pensions are extremely low, so low that the right hon. Gentleman, judging from what he has said in the past, cannot be in agreement with the scale.
He told the deputations from Ireland, which waited on him, that he sympathised deeply with them, and he promised to do all he could with the Cabinet in order to get their grievances redressed. So far nothing has come of it. I appeal to him as to whether this is not the proper occasion when I might review the whole circumstances of the pensions of all members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, so that in making up his winding-up order for that force he will leave them in a condition of contentment instead of resentment, in which a large number of them are at the present moment. With regard to the old pre-War pensions, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been drawn to a fund called the Constabulary Force Fund Benefit Branch, which was inaugurated in 1836 to provide gratuities to widows, and for other purposes? That money was compulsorily subscribed by members of the serving forces. Considering that that money concerns only the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary who were serving in 1833, and that it amounted in December, 1920, to £280,000, and seeing that the living subscribers to-day—they cannot be added to—number 4,397, I would ask if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to have that money divided amongst the subscribers and contributors to the fund, and by so doing ease in some small way the lot of the pre-War pensioners in the Royal Irish Constabulary? I hope, when he replies, that he will refer to that subject and he will see what can be done. The Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) said that we did not want lip service. I do not believe the Chief Secretary believes in lip service; I think he is genuinely sympathetic towards the Royal Irish Constabulary. I am confident that he will accept my appeal to him in the same spirit as it is made, and that he will do his best to help a force the men of which have been none too generously treated in the past considering all that they have done, and who, in view of the terms of the contract under which they were engaged, are entitled to better benefits than they have received. I do not know who drew up the terms upon which the Royal Irish Constabulary were to be retired, or whether the men themselves had any chance of putting their case before the right hon. Gentleman. Certain I am that a great many grievances remained; certain I am that a great many points have not been considered by him or anybody else on behalf of the Irish Government. I would appeal to him, while he is winding up the Royal Irish Constabulary, before this matter is finally settled, to appoint a small Committee upon which the men should be represented as well as others. Such a Committee will help him to arrive at a decision on all these matters which will be beneficial to the force and satisfactory to all concerned.
I should like to address to the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions of detail arising out of these Estimates prior to saying a few words on the topic raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn). In Item B, the question of pay, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what exactly he meant by saying that an agreement had been signed between the representatives of the men, as I understand, and the Government? Could he give us a history of the dispute which, we under- stand, arose in connection with the arrears of pay with the Auxiliary Division? Could he also inform us whether the Press reports were true which stated that on their disbandment some of the men were so dissatisfied that they seized the ship at Holyhead from which they were being disembarked, and held that ship until their grievances in regard to pay had been considered by the Government and discharged to their satisfaction? I saw a report in the Press of such an incident, but I have never heard any official confirmation of any kind. I should be much obliged if, when the right hon. Gentleman comes to reply, he will inform us whether or not those reports were true and, if they were correct, what is the true story of that remarkable occurrence?
Coming to Item G—arms and ammunition, etc.—we find the enormous increase, over the original Estimate, of £280,000. The original Estimate was a little over £70,000. The right hon. Gentleman to-day informed us that part of this great increase was due to a matter of accounting with the War Office; that certain stores which they had handed over for use in Ireland were not included in the original Estimate. Perhaps he will tell us why it could not have been stated in the original Estimate that these stores would have to be paid for by the Irish Office, and why it could not have been included in that first Estimate? The remarkable transaction under heading N, the question of the motors, has already been dealt with at some length in this Debate. I will not labour it at this stage, but I will ask the hon. Gentleman who represents the Treasury, and who was not present when the question was raised before, whether the Treasury accorded its assent to this novelty in administration? So far as I know there is no precedent whatsoever for this transaction. The transaction is this: under heading N we were informed that the Irish Office had bought a certain number of motor cars, and had sold those motor cars to their own officers under the instalment system. The officers bought the motor cars from the Irish Office by instalments. May I ask the hon. Gentleman representing the Treasury if the Treasury sanctioned this new departure in administration, and, if so, on what ground they gave their assent to so grave a breach of all administrative precedent?
I should like to address one question to the Chief Secretary under Item O. There we have an addition of £205,000 for the provision for additional vehicles. Have those vehicles been employed to carry cadets and police in Ireland from one spot to another? If so, were those lorries or vehicles provided with the armoured shields which were lacking from those originally supplied to the troops in Ireland? It is within the recollection of the Committee that it was discovered, from an answer obtained from the right hon. Gentleman in this House, that over 90 successful ambushes of troops and police travelling in these lorries in Ireland had taken place before the elementary precaution was adopted of providing them with armoured shields to protect the men from the bullets of their assailants. We were told in those days that police and troops were dispatched along those narrow and confined lanes in Ireland which are overshadowed, as everyone who knows the country is aware, by high banks entirely obscuring any possible assailant from the vision or retaliation of the men in the lorries. The troops, in driving along such lanes, were entirely exposed to the attack of any men who might wait in ambush, and over 90 successful attacks were made, according to the answer elicited in this House, before the right hon. Gentleman took the elementary precaution of providing these lorries with armoured shields. Will he inform us whether, in regard to the lorries referred to in the present Estimate, he was less remiss in his obvious duty to these men than he was on a former occasion?
There is an item for petrol under heading O. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his remarks, said that the officers who bought the cars in this exceedingly dubious transaction to which I have referred were not only permitted these amenities for the purchase of the cars, but were actually allowed the petrol for running the cars without having bought it. Were they allowed this petrol free of any check or consideration? How does the right hon. Gentleman know that the petrol was employed for the purpose of their duty rather than for the purpose of their pleasure? What check was kept on the petrol? In what way did he safeguard the money which was entrusted to his care? Under heading P—compensation for damage or injury—I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he accounts for the remarkable increase in the expenditure over the original Estimate? There is an increase of 150 per cent. in the charges incurred, as I understand it, for running over people. Were these accidents 150 per cent. higher during this period in Ireland than were estimated for, with great prevision, at the beginning of the year? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can enlighten us upon this great increase in the casualty list.
Under heading Q, I should like to address another question to the hon. Gentleman who represents the Treasury. Here we find an increase of something like £200, over and above that to which he was entitled by the statutory allowance, in a pension to an Inspector-General who retired. May I ask the hon. Gentleman representing the Treasury whether the Treasury accorded their assent to the raising of the pension of this Inspector-General over and above the statutory rate? May I also ask the Secretary for Ireland on what administrative principle and upon what principle of justice he recommends to the Committee the raising of this individual pension of an Inspector-General over and above that which is normally offered to a man of his category and over and above the pro rata pension which is accorded to men in a lesser category? I understand he justifies it on the ground of the special danger and hardship of this officer's position. Was his position any more dangerous or arduous than that of his subordinates? Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that rather a greater argument in favour of increasing the pensions of men who fought in France than of increasing the pension of a high officer in Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman is always comparing the position of police and troops in Ireland with the position of those who fought in France during the Great War. Far be it from me to depreciate for one moment the hardships or dangers of those who fought in Ireland, but I submit that it is quite incomparable with those of the men who fought in France. The men in Ireland were subjected to great danger and hardships. They underwent nerve-racking experiences, but those were nothing compared with what was endured by the men who fought in France. After all, what did the men in Ireland have to undergo? They were subjected to persistent sniping, that is what it means, but the men in France were subjected to drum tire and heavy bombardment week in and week out. As anybody knows who has undergone both experiences, these experiences in Ireland were quite incomparable with the danger and strain on the men in France. If there is any case for increasing the pensions of men in high positions or in lesser positions who fought in Ireland, there is a far greater case for increasing the pensions of men who fought in France. In the present state of the national finances, it is our duty to protest against increases of pensions in a quarter deserving, I admit, but not nearly so deserving as other quarters to which we may direct the right hon. Gentleman's attention. We are now asked to foot the bill for the failure of Government. [Interruption.] I know, of course, that it is unpleasant for hon. Members who supported the Government throughout the application of a policy which has failed, and for which they now have to pay, to have their attention directed to the egregious folly of that policy, but there are many unpleasant things of that nature which we have to undergo, and I make no apology for directing the attention of the Committee to the failure of the policy which the Government so long supported. We have now to foot the bill for a policy advocated from the Treasury Bench, supported from the Benches behind, and consistently opposed from these Benches.
Oh, no, I was not. The hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken. I departed from those benches at the very beginning, at the initiation of that policy, and I have fought it ever since, so I think I am immune from that criticism. [Interruption.] Let me inform hon. Members that I was not elected to support either the bankruptcy of this country or the massacre of women and children. [Interruption.] My action has been taken with the full approval and support of the association that nominated me for election and with the full approval and support—
I have no objection to the interruptions of hon. Gentlemen. Some of their utterances in these Debates are of necessity confined to the monosyllabic variety. They find it more convenient to interrupt their opponents and to cheer their leaders than to take part in reasoned discussion. Their leaders have no further use for them. That is why they were elected to this House. That is their business, and in due course they will all be rewarded, as I observe their more successful fellows have already been rewarded. Let us make no complaint of that.
If I may turn to the subject under discussion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—I did not seek those diversions. We are here to discuss the failure of a policy. We are footing the bill for a policy. This matter has been opened up at great length by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn). I shall not proceed so far in the discussion of it as he did, and perhaps the Postmaster-General is not so good a judge of what is in order in this matter as the Chairman of Ways and Means, who permitted him to proceed with that discussion. We are footing the bill for the failure in Ireland of the administration of the Chief Secretary. We may ask at this period what were the objects of that policy and what were ite results. The object was very clearly expressed—
That is exactly what the hon. Member would not be entitled to discuss—the object of a policy. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) very skilfully dealt with the Supplementary Estimates to show from his point of view how the Supplementary Estimates were the result of a certain course on the part of the Government. We must be very careful not to go back on the general policy. If the hon. Member wante more scope he must apply the same methods.
I was merely going to submit to you that the money which is being spent under these Supplementary Estimates was spent in a way entirely detrimental to the interests of this country and of Ireland. I was going to point out that this money was in every conceivable way the purest waste, because the policy it was designed to support was reversed without achieving one of those objects which it set out to secure. If a policy is reversed without achieving its object, and the money under these Supplementary Estimates was poured down the drain of that failure, we are entitled to submit to the Committee that we shall refuse to vote this money. This money was spent in pursuance of a policy carried out for over a year, and we were informed almost weekly in this House that it was about to succeed. The Secretary of State for the Colonies told us that as sure as the sun rose to-morrow morning the murder gang would be broken up. A year later Lord Birkenhead was compelled to confess in the House of Lords "that the progress of the coercive attempts made by the Government have, as is well known, proved in a high degree disappointing." In other words, the whole of this money was poured down the gutter. We were told almost daily that the policy was going to succeed. For a year we were encouraged by the grandiloquent passages of the Chief Secretary as he flagellated that box in the fury of his eloquence. We were told that East, North, South and West the terror was corning to an end, and that the money which we are now asked to vote him, and which he then in prospect invited us to grant him was being well spent. As the hon. and gallant Member for Leith recalled, the right hon. Gentleman said:
Three quarters of Ireland, as the result of the measures we are taking, is as quiet and as peaceable as the county of Kent.
At the end of the year the Lord Chancellor had to go down to the House of Lords and confess the ignoble failure of the Government's policy. If that is not waste, then what is waste? We are invited to discard services which are vital to the life of our country and imperative to its industrial recovery, and at this juncture the right hon. Gentleman comes down and asks for a large sum of money for a policy which was reversed with no results achieved. I am not condemning the morality of the Government.
I am speaking of a question which the right hon. Gentleman understands, the question of expediency. I am pointing out to him that on the grounds of the lowest expediency this money was utterly wasted. He failed to achieve any one of the purposes he set out to achieve, and as an example of administrative inefficiency he stands unrivalled and, thank Heaven, unprecedented in the annals of this country. There was something to be said for Warren Hastings. He was successful. There is nothing to be said for a villain of the piece when he is an abject and dismal failure. That is something too ignoble even for the acclamation of the opportunist Government which we have in power. It is because he has been such a failure that the right hon. Gentleman is only permitted occasionally to advance to the Treasury Box and to read an answer to a question, while the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies has taken over his duties and his functions from his feeble and incompetent hands. We may commiserate with the Chief Secretary on the failure of his policy. We are presented with a Supplementary Estimate which asks for an enormous sum of money for a policy which, on the lowest ground of expediency and opportunism, the grounds which have animated this Government in relation to Ireland, and to every question which they face to-day, has failed dismally and abjectly. That is the position to which this Government has come. What was the effect of this money we are now asked to vote upon the state of crime and disorder in Ireland? What were the figures before this policy was introduced? In three years only fifty-seven—
The hon. Member is not entitled to go into the question of the policy on crime and disorder in Ireland. The House has already voted a sum of £7,204,000, and we are now asked for a Supplementary Estimate of £1,270,000. I recognise this is a large sum. Hon. Members are entitled to discuss the expenditure of this supplementary sum, and not the question of policy, or the decision of the House when it voted the £7,000,000.
On a point of Order. Is it not in order for an hon. Member on this Supplementary Estimate to direct the attention of the Committee to the circumstances when this additional sum was paid? As long as hon. Members confine themselves to those conditions, I submit they would be in order, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow (Mr. Mosley) is, as I thought he was—I may not have been following him closely—confining his remarks to those months when these conditions obtained, I submit very respectfully that that is in order.
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his interpretation of what he thought the hon. Member for Harrow was saying. I have been following his speech for some time, and as far as the earlier part of the speech was concerned it was quite in order. But the question he is now discussing is going wide of the mark. I have allowed him a good deal of latitude. When a large sum like this is presented the Committee is entitled to discuss it fully, but it is not in order, in discussing a Supplementary Estimate, to refer back to the original Estimate and discuss it. That must be avoided. If I allowed one hon. Member to do so, then the whole original Estimate would come up for discussion.
Perhaps I was drawn, by the fact that the hon. and gallant Member for Leith discussed the subject for some time, into going rather further than I should have gone. The point I wished to make is this. There were 2,559 additional men employed for whom we are now asked to pay, and these men were employed in Ireland in a way which was detrimental to the interests both of that country and of this, and so far from restoring order in that country they actually aggravated the situation. That can be see from the figures I was about to read to the Committee. I was going to point out that three years prior to the employment of men in this capacity in Ireland, only 57 casualties occurred to the forces of the Crown in Ireland. In the first six months of the employment of men in this manner, 189 men were killed, and in the second six months in which these very men whose pay we are now asking for were there over 370 members of the forces of the Crown were killed in Ireland. We find instead of a steady decline in outrage in Ireland, as men in this special category were imported into Ireland, a progressive increase in crime as the repressive principles of the right hon. Gentleman grew in force and application. The employment of the measures and of the men in Ireland, for which we are now asked to pay, has piled up for this country a bill not only of money, but a bill in lives and a bill in honour. It is a bill which will have to be paid in years to come throughout our Dominions and throughout foreign countries, not only in the terms of cash or even in terms of human life, to which we are now asked to accord our assent in this Supplementary Estimate, but a bill which will for long be presented to this country in terms of honour and loss of national prestige. The right hon. Gentleman has dragged us through the mud, and he has brought us nowhere. We now have to pay the bill for an epoch in English history which will for long be a shame and a reproach to every Englishman.
I must confess, although I have listened to the whole of this Debate so far, that I am still uncertain why we have a Supplementary Estimate before us. What was it in March of 1921 which led the Government to assume that they were going to carry on on a sum of £7,204,000? What was it which made them think that was sufficient to see them through another year of what was then civil war? In March, 1921, things were as bad as they have ever been since and the Government were framing their Estimate on the then position of affairs. Why is it now necessary to present a Supplementary Estimate? Surely seeing that the truce was signed 3½ months after this original Estimate came into being, and that there was brought to an end the state of affairs which prevailed when the Estimate was prepared—surely then we should now be presented not with a Supplementary Estimate but an Appropriation-in-Aid, or something given back. You only have had 3½ months of your extravagant policy. Lord knows where we should be if you had had 12 months of it. It would not be £8,500,000, but somewhere in the neighbourhood of £20,000,000 which would have been wanted for the grand policy of this grand government in Ireland. There is this to be said for the Government, that although their finance may be thoroughly unsound, not having the same policy for long, it is bound to become sound before many months. We have a definite assurance from the right hon. Gentleman to-day that he is mopping up the last of the mess. It is a very nasty mess and we are glad to see the end of it and we hope it is the end of it. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman himself is quite the right person to do the liquidating. It seems to me that we ought to have here the proper liquidator, namely, the right hon. Gentleman who is going to take the Chief Secretary's shoes. I do not think it is a right thing, in business or in politics, for the general manager who has speculated and gone wrong; to do the liquidating. He is not the person for that. The Secretary of State for the Colonies should be here, but naturally he prefers to keep his fingers clear of the mess which is a very ugly mess.
Many of us on this side of the Committee do not think it a subject for jest at all. There is no doubt about it that in one of the multifarious phases of this Government's existence they have dragged the honour of England in the mud in such a way as we are not likely to forget or to be allowed to forget by foreign countries. But the kaleidoscopic policy of the Government has this advantage, that they can be attacked from either side. We have now a very pretty example of the Government being between two fires. I tell them quite frankly and for their consolation, that it is quite impossible that we on this side of the House should go into the Lobby, even against the Government, in conjunction with the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher). We could not do it. They can have that Lobby to themselves. The party which I represent will take no part in voting for this Amendment, which calls for a reduction of £5 to protest against the policy of the Government "in this base and gross surrender to the murder gang in Ireland." We are not going to take part. in it, but as soon as that Amendment is disposed of, and I am inclined to think it will be disposed of without a Division, because our hon. Friends below the Gangway, the Die-hards, do not like showing up in the Lobby about dinner time—when it is disposed of, then we shall have an Amendment to reduce the sum of £1,474,000 in order to show in the simple Parliamentary way that we are not sharing the right hon. Gentleman's Monday head, that this is not a policy for which we are responsible and that neither the original Estimate nor the Supplementary Estimate had any sanction from this side of the House. Whether an Amendment is moved or not, we shall vote against this Supplementary Estimate as a protest against wasting our money on dishonourable work, so dishonourable, indeed, that the Government themselves have had to drop it, and take up another line of policy. There are just two items to which I wish to draw particular attention. The first is under heading B. It will be noticed there that the pay has risen by £371,000, and I understand that increase in pay, although the truce was signed 3½ months after the original Estimate, is due to the abnormally large retiring allowances given to the Auxiliary police. Is it really a fact that these people are getting retiring allowances of £250 each?
We shall want to know what retiring allowance they are getting in order to compare with the retiring allowances given to men who fought through a real War and to see whether we are having fair play, not only to the auxiliary police in Ireland, but also to the officers who beat Germany.
They got their allowances for that. This is an additional allowance. We want to know what that allowance is and how it compares with the allowances given to similar ranks after five years of the most frightful war of history. I draw attention to another item under Head G, relating to arms, ammunition, etc. The Estimate has gone up from £70,000 to £350,000, and I understand—I do not know whether I am stating it correctly—that a great deal of this increase of £280,000 represents arms and ammunition that have been handed over to the Provisional Government in Ireland. I should like to know the valuation of those arms, and whether we have got anything for them. This seems to me to bear a horrible resemblance to the case in which we kept on supplying arms to the Soviet Government in Russia. We sent them to Denekin and Koltchak, who handed them over, either for cash or in retreat, to the Soviet Army. We armed and munitioned and clothed the Soviet Army; they appeared in British uniforms. Now, apparently, in Ireland we are spending £280,000 on additional rifles and munitions and handing them over to the Provisional Government. We did not get any money out of the Soviet Government, we did not get any money out of Denekin and Koltchak—we got no money at all for the things that we supplied to the people fighting in Russia. Are we going to get nothing for the arms and munitions we have supplied to the Provisional Government in Ireland? It would be some satisfaction to think we were going to get a little bit of this money back. We are told that there is to be "an equitable consideration." Let us have a little equitable consideration for the taxpayer in this matter. We should have an application of the Geddes Committee to this Supplementary Estimate and we should find that even the liquidation of the Irish bungle, although it could not be more extravagant for our prestige, might be a little less extravagant to our financial position in the world.
This is the first opportunity I have had of seeing the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) speaking from the Front Bench opposite, and I congratulate him upon the readiness with which he has assumed the Front Bench demeanour. He gamboled around that despatch box like a rhinoceros, and poked endless fun at the Chief Secretary, who did not seem to understand in the least what all the fun was about. I could not help being struck by some of the criticisms of the hon. Member for Harrow (Mr. Mosley). At one stage he was denouncing the Chief Secretary and the policy of the Government, and at another he was denouncing him for not having protected the Constabulary. He seemed to have forgotten the fact that he came into this House on these benches, and that when he realised that there was no hope for him with this Government he thought he would take his chances with one that might result in something next time.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is more than usually obtuse, and that is putting it high. I referred to the hon. Member for Harrow, not Hull. I am coming to Hull and Halifax in a minute. The hon. and gallant Member for Hull alleged that the Treasury Bench is never filled when he gets up. He has got the notion into his head that there ought always to be stationed at your right hand, Mr. Chairman, some watch dog on this Treasury Bench, and that the instant he gets up, this watch dog ought to go tearing out and off to Downing Street, thumping at the Prime Minister's door, and shouting, "For God's sake, come at once. The hon. and gallant Member for Hull is up, and the Empire is in deadly peril." He takes himself much too seriously, and, in truth, he might be quite flattered by having even the Chief Secretary on the bench opposite him to listen. I notice that the moment he gets up, his own colleagues all flee as if he had the plague and there was danger of infection. Only two or three at most sit there while he is up, and they are more notorious for somnolence than anything else, while he goes on with the "dreary drip of dilatory declamation," and they sit for all the world like two or three extinct volcanoes with never a flicker of flame on a single palid crest.—[Interruption.]—The hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) got his seat upon false pretences, and then would not fill it.
Nobody would give you one, that is why; they would not get value for their money. I want to ask the Chief Secretary's attention for a moment to one or two of these items. There have been very strong representations made to him respecting delay in the payment of two large sums, one of them involving an amount of £9,000 and another of over £2,000 in respect of one item of £20,000 for clothing on these Estimates. I hope he will see to it that in these times, when it is difficult to carry on business and give such large credits, the Government will pay its own debts promptly. In regard to the question of pensions, there has been, I think, some obscurity. I do not quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman's explanation so far as it has gone, but it did not go quite far enough. I feel sure he must have had handed to him a copy of the document which reached some of us complaining of the treatment to which certain of these discharged men have been subjected. The document was issued on behalf and in the name of 400 ex-officers, who complain that they signed their contracts in June, 1921, engaging for a further period of service until 30th June. 1922, notwithstanding which these contracts were cancelled by the Government in 1921 without the consent of the other contracting parties. When the disbanding of the Division took place, no gratuity was offered to these men, but after a great struggle the Government agreed to complete all the contracts with the exception of that large number which I have described as entered into in June, 1921. A Government that expects faith kept with it ought to keep faith with those with whom it makes contracts. I submit that in this particular matter the Government has not acted fairly, justly, or in any ether way than most ungenerously towards these men who served them so well.
The Constabulary Force Fund has already been alluded to in the Debate. It was a Fund created for a specific purpose, and the condition of some of those who are entitled to relief under that Fund is perfectly desperate at the moment. Repeated representations have been made to the right hon. Gentleman, deputations have waited upon him, and he must be fully conversant with the facts. I myself called his attention not so many months ago to one peculiarly pathetic case, the case of a man who served in the Constabulary for 30 years, was seized with an illness, the few pounds which he had managed to save were swept away, and the Government that he had served for 30 years allowed this old pensioner to die in a workhouse and to be put into a pauper's grave. It is a disgrace to the Government that that should have been allowed to happen. There are many other men whose condition is verging on that. I know of dozens of these cases, and I have called my right hon. Friend's attention to them. I am bound to say he has always evinced sympathy and, so far as lay in his power, has given them help, but it has not been sufficient. He is now engaged in winding up this splendid Force, and let him not leave to us a heritage of shame. I suppose hon. Members opposite would say there is enough else to be ashamed of without adding that. There are some of these old men and old women, their wives—with the cost of living as it is to-day, and surrounded by the circumstances that attend these men because of their service under the Crown—struggling to keep body and soul together on £52 a year, and before the Government will offer them 6d. of relief, they hold a kind of grand inquisition into their little private affairs; it humiliates and pains them to a degree, and the Government ought to discontinue it. They have given relief to every other form of pensioner, and they ought also to give it to these particular men. I urge the Chief Secretary, as he is to be the last of the Mohicans, the Chief Secretaries of Ireland, that before he quits office he will use his best efforts with the Treasury, and see to it that this long-standing scandal is put an end to.
The question of the motors has been alluded to. I might ask the Chief Secretary this question, whether it was not a regulation of the Constabulary that all officers should provide themselves with horses. The changed and terrible conditions of duty brought about, as alleged, by the policy of the Government, put these men in positions of peculiar and special peril. Horses really only exposed them to danger, as they could not get from point to point with the necessary rapidity, and so the scheme was evolved of substituting motors for horses, and these men, all sadly underpaid, suddenly found themselves confronted by a demand to equip themselves with motors, without having any money with which to purchase them. The Government put forward the scheme of the Government buying the motors, and the officers paying for them on the instalment plan; and now that the Force has been brought to an end these men, who have no need for the motors, find themselves left with them on their hands and half the instalments paid. Where they do not feel disposed to pay up the remainder of the instalments, surely the Government should take the motors back off their hands at a valuation. These men, as the Chief Secretary must know, will have a tremendous struggle for months until the hatred and passions which have been evoked by the conflict which has now been brought to an end have subsided. In the meantime the problem of existence will be terrible, and it is not for the Government which they have so well served to add to their difficulties in any way. I hope the Chief Secretary will take that also into con- sideration. Lastly, I press upon him again that these old pensioners who have contributed for 30 years of their service into this Constabulary Force Fund, and who are now in perfectly desperate circumstances, ought to get some relief such as I have indicated.
The Debate has wandered over a wide field and has dealt exhaustively with the different items in the Estimates. I shall try to deal seriatim with every point raised, and I hope I shall be excused if I do not attempt to deal with the personal abuse which has been heaped on my shoulders. I have tried to do my duty under difficult circumstances, and have always carried with me the support of the great majority of my fellow Members. In reference to what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for York (Sir J. Butcher), the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Lieut.-Colonel ArcherShee), and the hon. Member for Holborn (Sir J. Remnant), I should say that in the cases of pensioners who retired before 1st April, 1919, it is not possible for men who retired before that date to receive the improved terms granted under the Desborough Scheme. In this as in other matters the treatment of the Irish police is identical with that accorded to the police in Great Britain, but considerable alleviation, affecting, I believe, from 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. of these pensioners, was brought about by the Pensions (Increase) Act of 1920, which applied to these particular Irish policemen as well as to all other pensioners in the police service, and during the current year, I believe, some £90,000 has been or will be distributed to these particular pensioners under the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1920. Something has been done, at any rate, therefore, to alleviate the hard lot of these faithful servants. I regret that more has not been done, but, as the Debate has shown, one set of arguments is in favour of spending more money and another set of arguments is in favour of spending less money. The Government and every Member of it have done their best to consider both the individual claims and the overwhelming claims of the public purse.
Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that these pensioners who retired before 1st April, 1919, are in many cases, even with the increase under the Act of 1920, receiving only £1 or 25s. a week at most, and will he consider in any final settlement of this question the extremely hard conditions under which they are living at the present moment?
I have the profoundest sympathy with these cases. With reference to the pensions arising out of the 1916 Rebellion, those pensioners only receive pensions at the rates current at the time they received their wounds. I do not know whether it will be possible to deal specially with this class, but I promise my hon. Friends I will consider that. With reference to the Pensions Order, it was not possible to deal with this Order until the final new scale had been granted to the police forces of Great Britain. The whole matter is held up because of the desire to secure agreement with the Representative Bodies of the Police in Ireland. In answer to many hon. Members, may I say that both Governments in Ireland have been supplied with rifles, ammunition, motor cars, and other equipment?
I do not wish to press the right hon. Gentleman unduly, but I would suggest that the Vote should be withdrawn if details cannot be given as to the approximate value of the motors supplied to the. Northern and Southern Governments.
Pressure has come from the Northern Government to supply the necessary means to deal with disorder in that area, and naturally that must be considered. Two hundred rifles have already been supplied to the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland, together with a number of motor cars.
The request is much larger from the Northern Government than from the Provisional Government. I regret I cannot give the exact numbers. The point raised is not the numbers, but whether anything was to be paid for them. To my mind, they must be taken into account in any final balance struck between the British Government and the two Governments of Ireland.
Was there an agreement in writing, and has the right hon. Gentleman seen it, or is this only what he supposes, or takes from the Irish Members?
It is incorporated in messages which have passed between the respective Governments. It is the ordinary procedure. I take it that it is the duty of the British Government and of this House to support the Northern Government and the Provisional Government, so as to maintain order in their respective areas, and when we supply cars, rifles, or whatever they may be, they must be taken over at a valuation.
The valuation has not been made, but the general principle is there, as was urged by the hon. and learned Member and other hon. Members. A point was raised by different Members in reference to the Appropriations-in-Aid. There is no doubt about it that in normal times there was a local rate made for extra police in various counties. We were unable to collect this local rate, owing to the disturbances in Ireland. The consequence is that we have the adverse balance of £196,000. This must also be taken into account in the valuation struck between this Government and the Provisional Government in Ireland. I am very sorry that a great number of Members have left the House after having made their speeches, and I am therefore unable to give them the explanations for which they asked. Some hon. Members raised a most important point in reference to the treatment of Auxiliaries and of the Royal Irish Constabulary generally. I want to clear that up. It is perfectly true that in May, 1921, instructions were issued by the Chief of Police that those cadets nearing the termination of their original contract should be permitted to re-engage for an additional 12 months, and the interpretation of this order by a subordinate officer was to the effect that anyone could have a further contract, no matter whether he was approaching the end of his contract or not. This was an unreasonable interpretation of the original instruction by the Chief of Police, because cadets, for example, who had served less than three months of their original contract made application. When the misapplication of the general instruction came to the notice of the Chief of Police, he immediately issued orders to confine the scope of re-engagements. Men were held to be approaching the termination of their original contract, only if they had served nine months. The Chief of Police therefore declined to confirm those contracts which did not come within the scope of this distinction.
The whole point seems to be that an interval took place, until the 10th October, before that correction was made, and in the meantime the men who had re-engaged had their names published in General Orders, after being witnessed by two persons. The case which I and my hon. Friends make is that if those men's names appeared in Orders, the Government should stick to their obligation, and pay those men according to contract.
I regret I cannot accept that view at all. I am informed that as soon as it came to the notice of the Chief of Police, he cancelled these contracts, and it is really unreasonable to ask the Government to spend tens of thousands of pounds, in addition to the great expense of winding up the Force, because of the blunder of a subordinate officer. I regret if any man has suffered individual hardship. I have only heard of one case of any individual suffering hardship.
Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that the Government could have kept these men to those contracts? Those men signed, and their names appeared in Orders, and it was not until two months after that the so-called blunder was rectified from headquarters. Those men might have been made to serve, if the trouble had gone on, for another year. Surely, then, the Government is not going to break faith.
The representative body of the Auxiliary Force signified its full acceptance of the terms in an agreement signed on the 18th January last, a copy of which I shall lay before the House. Nobody has greater regard for these gallant men than I have; nobody has so often supported them, and championed them. No one will get less than £70, some will get twice as much and some thrice as much, and I may say that if the Committee will approve the Vote, the quicker I can make all these payments to the members of that force. Part of the money I am asking for involves all the money due to those Auxiliaries.
There are cases of officers whom we know who have been, in the opinion of some of us, very hardly treated. Will the right hon. Gentleman promise to go into those individual cases? There are only now about 15 or 16.
Of course, I will most sympathetically inquire into the case of every public servant in Ireland, but I think, generally, these Auxiliaries have been treated very fairly, and, in addition to that, every effort will be made to see that they get employment somewhere, if it be possible in these difficult times to get employment. Let me clear a misconception in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). They are not going to be used in this country for dealing with unemployment, or anything of that kind. Recruiting for what is called the Middle East Gendarmerie I know will be open to them. They deserve well of their country, and I think the Government has treated them not only in the letter, but in a sympathetic spirit in fulfilling their contracts. May I answer one other question of the hon. and gallant Member, as to the pay of the Special Constabulary in Ireland? It is £3 10s. a week, with certain allowances, but not with any pension rights. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who pays that?"] Part of this money in the Supplementary Estimates is for the payment of these men up to the 22nd November last, when the whole administration of the law and control of the police passed to the Northern Government. In reference to the other terms of the rest of the Royal Irish Constabulary, all men on contract will be paid according to their contract. Let me say this to the Committee. Ever since the Truce, it has been my constant endeavour to try to reduce the expenditure of this force and the administration of Ireland generally. I have had no Solicitor-General since last July, and no Attorney-General since last December, and judges have not been appointed on the ground of economy. I allowed the police force to decrease by something like 600 during the period of the Truce, believing myself that we should not be called upon to make further provision, although there was a risk if the force were not maintained up to establishment.
Dealing, therefore, with the police, one has to consider the state of the public purse, as well as the overwhelming claim that this gallant body of men has on this House and the public. The terms of disbandment are not yet finally settled, but, generally, they are that twelve years is added to the service of an individual policeman, and he retires on a pension based on that, which is the scheme laid down by the Act of 1920 for compulsory retirement. But I agree there are many cases of men who must be specially dealt with, and I myself would like to see something done in the way of providing these men, even if at no greater expense by some re-arrangement of the pension, with some lump sum to enable them to start afresh in life, or to enable them to move if they wish to do so. The whole matter is under the sympatheic consideration of the Government. Not all these pensions fall upon this House, or will fall upon the Exchequer. In my opinion a very large number of them must be borne by the two Governments of Ireland as well as by the British Government. I think the Committee will agree that that is a fair arrangement.
We come now to the case of the motor cars supplied to certain District Inspectors of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and about which a great number of the Members have spoken. There is nothing extraordinary in the matter. In the old days there was horse allowance. In the modern days there is motor allowance to the senior officers. Some of the junior officers wished to have motor cars, and the Government, mainly, I admit, for the purpose of policing, met the wishes of these officers and supplied them with cars on the instalment system. Now the hostilities have ceased the whole scheme must be gone into. It must be decided by the individual officer himself whether he wishes to take the car and continue the instalments or whether he desires to hand the car back and make some re-arrangement with the Government. The amount of this particular Estimate is comparatively small, £6,000. I think the act was a wise act. I am certain it is not the desire of the House that any of these officers should suffer in this matter.
I do not know that I can go any further into the question of the pension of Sir Thomas Smith. I think I dealt with it exhaustively in my opening remarks. Other points were raised by hon. Members as to the extra-statutory pensions. There is an amount set out in the Estimate of £82 6s. 8d. to be given to the widow and £82 6s. 8d. to the six children, and the question was whether that amount was given only as decided at the County Court judge, or whether double that amount was given. The answer is that double the amount was given. Then a question was raised as to the Constabulary Force Fund. I will take that matter into consideration again. This Fund is under the control of the Treasury, and it can only be dealt with in consultation with the Treasury. Any particular case that any hon. Member desires to bring before me, either in regard to the Royal Irish Constabulary or otherwise, can be brought to me, and it will always receive every possible attention.
This is an extremely important matter and interests a great number of officers. Will my right hon. Friend make a statement before long, after consultation with the Treasury, as to whether this Fund can be wound up and distributed among those entitled to it?
I was asked whether the pensions for the police are going to be based upon a War bonus. I am very glad to answer the right hon. Member who put that question. They cannot be based upon a War bonus because the police in Ireland have received no War bonus. As to the purchase of arms, that was made with the War Office. Under the Subhead dealing with arms, ammunition, accoutrements and saddlery, in so far as £180,000 of the £280,000 is concerned, it is revoted money and not actual expenditure under this Supplementary Estimate. I think I have dealt with all questions raised by hon. Members in the course of the Debate—
I am sorry if any individual considers that he has been aggrieved because his colleagues have received a larger amount of disbandment allowance than he has. If there is any particularly hard case that the hon. and gallant Gentleman desires to bring to my notice I will look into it.
I am sorry to interrupt again, but before the right hon. Gentleman finishes his remarks, can he tell the Committee whether he will consider setting up a Committee to deal with all these various grievances? In the case of the constable mechanics another breach of agreement was made. An order was issued asking these men to re-engage, and that has been repudiated. Are you going to repudiate it now?
I must resist the suggestion of setting up a Committee of this House to deal with a matter of this kind. I must be the Committee in these matters, and I shall give the most sympathetic consideration to any matters put before me while keeping in view the claims upon the public purse. I appreciate the criticisms that Members of the Committee have made upon these Supplementary Estimates especially as to the well-being of a very large number of these men who are in no sense responsible for policy, as ha.s been pointed out, and who have only done their duty under difficult circumstances. I hope I shall get the Vote now.
I rise for a moment or two to make a few observations in view of the statement of the Chief Secretary about the contract with the Auxiliary Division. The Chief Secretary seemed to think it was nothing for the Government to break a contract, but it is not only a very great thing for the British Government to break a contract, but it is the first time this House u ill ever have agreed to such a fact. I have told the House the fact that an Order was actually issued at the end of May, or the beginning of June, 1921, in wihch these men were invited to re-engage. It was not until nearly two months after that, after the men had re-engaged, after their names had been published in Orders—which in the Army is always recognised as the official recognition of a contract—that the Government, having in view the altered conditions under the Truce, repudiated their contract to save money. That is the real truth of it. It was done at the expense of these men. Yet if the fighting had gone on the Government could have held these men to their contract. I think there will be a great deal more heard about this matter. This is an absolute breach of faith on the part of the Government. It is not a light thing for the name of the British Government to be dishonoured on their cheque upon a contract, and that is really what has happened. The Chief Secretary cannot let the matter slide over. He says that it has all been treated fairly and honourably. He may say so, but it is not the fact. The House has heard to-night that the contract was made with these men as I have stated. The Government have no right to do what they have done. Never before in the whole history of our country, I believe, has the Government gone back and broken their faith once their name had been given. The same thing has been done with the constable mechanics. Again, the Chief Secretary admits a blunder was made. But there was no blunder at all in the first case, that of the Auxiliaries. What happened was that after the Truce
the conditions were altered and the contract was broken. Let me give a specific case of one of these Auxiliary officers. Writing to his superior officer he says:
As you are probably aware, I have been working on the staff of the Chief of Police for the past 14 months, and since April last, when I was transferred from 'F' Company to 'Z' Company,"—
that is the Secret Service—
I have been in charge of the staff of Cork Local Centre. Stationed as I was in Cork I saw no D.R.O.'s, and acted solely on instructions from Dublin Castle. In July I was sent a re-engagement form to sign, taking me up to July, 1922.
Not only that, but he was invited to sign a re-engagement form and asked to take on for another year. The letter proceeds:
I duly executed that form, and had my signature witnessed, and it was returned to the Administrative Officer. An official acknowledgment was received. Some time later another form was sent down for me to sign, the covering letter stating that the previous form which I had signed had been lost or mislaid by the Adjutant, Beggars Bush Barracks. Learning that Cadets might sign on for a further period of twelve months from the date of completion of the first year's service, I signed the second form to date 16th November, 1922. My signature was witnessed by a district inspector and section leader of Q Company and sent up to the Castle. No acknowledgment coming to hand, I asked the Officer in Charge of the Cork Local Centre, who was going to Dublin on business, to make enquiries for me. When he returned, he said he bad been told my second form had been received, and he was to 'tell Leipold it was all right.'
That is not treating them either generously or honorably, and if we could go to a Division upon this question, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would find a large number of hon. Members would vote against the Government, although they support the Government on general lines. For these reasons I ask the Chief Secretary to give the Committee some assurance that he will again go into this matter, upon which I can assure him a great many hon. Members are interested, and will certainly bring it before his notice. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give this question a further hearing in regard to the breach of contract, because it is not a question of money but a question of honour.
I feel quite sure that on reconsideration the right hon. Gentleman will see that if a mistake is made by officers responsible to him, or superior officers of these auxiliary forces, he must stand by their word. What makes the matter somewhat worse is that when these men were stopped on the 10th October, in repudiation of the contract they had signed, in London men were being recruited for this service in Ireland and these men are to be compensated, while the men who had service to their credit in Ireland and were willing to continue to serve, are being thrown back, while the contracts of men who never served in Ireland in an active way are going to be honoured. I feel certain that the right hon. Gentleman will see when he considers the matter that the men who bore the heat and burden of the day are going to be fairly treated. I am sure that no disciple of economy in this House is willing to put economy in front of honour. This is an honourable obligation, and if this business in Ireland is to go through in the way we want it to do, do not let it be said that we got it through at the price of dishonouring our word.
I want to support the plea which has been put forward by the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down, and the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Lieut.-Colonel Archer-Shee). I have freely criticised any waste of money in these Votes, but, after a bargain is a bargain. Apparently in this case the Government made a contract thinking the glorious war in Ireland was going to go on, but even then they have no business to let these men down. What makes the case more black is the fact that the men who did not actually do any service and were taken on at the last moment under a different engagement, are going to receive much better financial treatment than the men who went through the whole brunt of the business.
I know that I have frequently criticised individual cases of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, but. I have never made a general attack upon that body. I recognise the peculiar conditions under which they serve, but these men are British ex-service men, and on this matter I wish to make my protest as emphatically as I can. The Chief Secretary has done the Government many a bad turn, but if he does this ast dirty trick, because it is only a way of getting out of an obligation to these poor fellows who have not many friends, it will be one of the worst turns that even he has been able to do the Government. I make him a present of this hint in no unfriendly spirit. Let him reconsider this point and give the Committee an undertaking tonight before we part with this Vote that the whole case of these men is going to be reconsidered. The right hon. Gentleman must not get the idea that by talking about the blunders of inferior officers he is going to prevent these men from getting their rights. Two months after these contracts, the subordinate officer's order is repudiated and these men are to be done out of many pounds. I am told that these men are in sore straits and are suddenly thrown upon their beam ends and unable to get employment. I know that I have criticised individuals in this force, but I look upon it as my duty to protest against injustice to these men, and let us treat them as brothers.
I am quite prepared to go into the matter again, and circulate all the facts in connection with it. As soon as the House passes this Vote, every Auxiliary will be in receipt of a very handsome sum and then it cannot be said that we have turned adrift these honourable and gallant men.
I think the Chief Secretary should go a little further than he has done. He does not appear quite sure that these men had a contract under which the Government could hold them to their engagement. The Committee ought to be clear on this matter, and it is not sufficient to circulate the facts to the House. The right hon. Gentleman should fortify himself and the House with a real opinion of the point put by hon. Members. Here is a contract which did bind these men, and if the then state of things had gone on in Ireland, these men could have been kept to their engagement. If that is the case, the Government have no right to terminate these agreements without compensation.
I would impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should amplify the undertaking that he has just given by promising not only to place the main facts before the Committee, but also to place before us an opinion from the Law Officers as to what is the real position. I am sure no hon. Members want any injustice done to these men. In these very Supplementary Estimates we are asked to stand by a loss of nearly £1,000,000 on account of an unfortunate bargain in respect of some material. This Committee does not want to be placed in the position of standing by a bargain when it is embraced in an ordinary commercial transaction, and running away from it when it is a bargain made with these men in Ireland. I join with other hon. Members in pressing upon the Chief Secretary the need for a very full investigation of this matter in respect of these men. There is a sum appearing in these Estimates for arms, ammunition, accoutrements and saddlery, and there is also an item for clothing and the Transport Service, and all these items come to something like £500,000. In respect of arms and ammunition, what we were really doing is only re-voting this money. Were these arms sold by the War Office to the force in Ireland? I would like to know whether this is also true in the case of clothing and barrack furniture, vehicles and tyres, mentioned under the heading of Transport Service. We are, in fact, therefore, not really voting £1,474,000, but we are actually voting a sum representing nearly £500,000 less, and this sum of £500,000 will appear as savings on the War Office Estimate. If that be the case I think it should be made quite clear. As the matter stands we were led to believe we were finding another £1,500,000 of expenditure, but, if the construction I have put upon the Chief Secretary's explanation is the correct one, £500,000 of that will appear as savings on the Army Estimates.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will go a little bit further in his undertaking with regard to the men of the Auxiliary force. He has been asked from every quarter of the House to do this. We all desire that real faith should be kept with these men, and I do not imagine that any Member of the House would object to a small additional expenditure in order that good faith should be kept with them.
If I thought the Government were in honour bound by this contract I should strongly support it. But I am not convinced that the personal honour of the Government is concerned. There has been a sheer blunder. I will go into the question again, and I will circulate Papers so that the whole House may form its own opinion as to the merits of the case. I cannot go further than that. In reply to the hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Major Barnes) of the item of £280,000 for arms, &c., £100,550 is money required for the purchase of arms from the War Office. The arms, of course, like furniture and motors, have a value which will ultimately be taken into account in relief of some estimate, but I cannot hold out any expectation that this will represent a saving of half a million.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment to reduce the Vote. I put that Motion down in order to draw attention to certain matters. My object was not to take one farthing away from what the Royal Irish Constabulary will get by this Vote. I think they should have a great deal more; but, having brought the matter before the Chief Secretary, and having induced him to take, as I hope, a sympathetic interest in it, I trust he will do his best to settle this grievance. Therefore I do not press my Motion.
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £1,000.
I do this in order to draw attention to an extremely unsatisfactory reply given by the right hon. Gentleman earlier in the afternoon, and in particular to his extraordinary statement—a statement more extraordinary I never heard during my short experience in this House, and I hope I shall never again hear one like it—with regard to the disposal of motor vehicles. The right hon. Gentleman has not now such heavy duties cast upon him as he used to have, because the greater part of the better government of Ireland is now undertaken by the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman therefore ought to come down here fully armed with all the facts to justify him in asking this country and this House for an additional million and a half of money. When he was asked a perfectly proper question as to how many motor vehicles had been disposed of to the Northern Government of Ireland, he, with an expansive wave of his hands, dismissed the matter as though it referred to one of those little things sold 2d. plain and 6d. coloured. He was asked how many of these motor vehicles had been sold to the Northern Government and for how much, and we got an extraordinary reply to the effect that the idea of strict accountancy in these disturbed times in regard to motor vehicles, Crossley tenders, and motor lorries could not be insisted on. He added that they might have given a few score of these vehicles to the Northern Government, and that they might eventually be paid for, but he could not say how many, neither could he tell when the money would be forthcoming. On that sort of accountancy the House of Commons is asked—with a Treasury empty and the authorities scarcely knowing where to raise money with which to keep the Empire going—to vote a million and a hall sterling. The House is almost empty, and I am afraid little notice will be taken of this extraordinary statement from the Treasury Bench. But this shows a really scandalous state of affairs which justifies me in moving this reduction.
That is not the whole of my complaint by any means. A great deal has been said about 200 rifles that were handed over to the Provisional Government for an unknown sum of money to be paid at an unknown date. I quite agree that the transaction seems extremely loose, like many other Government actions in Ireland, financial and otherwise. But when the right hon. Gentleman was asked what artillery and machine guns were handed over to the Northern Government he could not tell us. The handing over of motor cars is bad enough. These vehicles only kill people by riding over them. I see provision for that has been made in the Estimate. But rifles and machine guns are dangerous things to be left lying about. They are as deadly in the hands of a fanatic in the north of Ireland as they may prove in the hands of a patriot in the south. For the right hon. Gentleman to plead ignorance on a matter of such vital importance is as bad as pleading ignorance on a matter of such financia importance as the number of motor vehicles that have been handed over to the Northern Government. I want to point out to the Committee the demoralising effect that the right hon. Gentleman's Irish régime has had upon him. He apparently thinks that anything will do for the House of Commons, that he need not account for the number o[...] motor cars, which are worth a great dea[...] of money, or for the number of rifles, which may mean the loss of many lives, each one a sorrow and heartbreak for some unfortunate woman. He says, "That is nothing. We handed them over; a few telegrams passed; one day we shall be paid for them. It is all right; I cannot be expected, in these times, to keep an account of them."
No. I was trying to evoke some regard for the troubles of the two Governments in Ireland, both of which Governments we are supporting in their endeavour to maintain peace in their respective areas. There is no question about a proper record of the rifles and motor cars and so on that are involved. The only point is that no valuation has yet been made. The valuation, to my mind, should follow the handing over of those weapons to the two Governments, who rely, to some extent at any rate, upon them for the maintenance of order. I think we have done the right thing to have the valuation after the handing over.
I am not criticising either the Northern or the Southern Government, but our own Government. We have no difficulties. No bombs are being thrown about in the Accountant-General's Department in Whitehall. You have even taken the barricades down. There is no trouble about keeping an account of these things here, and you can require officers in Ireland to send you papers on which are written the number of motor cars, tanks, and lethal weapons handed over.
I beg pardon; I should have said armoured cars. I am afraid my indignation at the sloppiness of the right hon. Gentleman's finance rather ran away with me. I am criticising our Government for not being able, at my request, to give the number of vehicles handed over. The right hon. Gentleman professes ignorance as to how many motor vehicles were handed over to the Northern Government. This transaction took place a long time ago—some weeks ago; long enough ago, at any rate, for his colleague the Secretary of State for the Colonies to have had details of the number of rifles handed over to the Southern Government; and I ask again, quite respectfully, Has the right hon. Gentleman not been able to get the number of vehicles handed over to the Northern Government? They are expensive things. The price of a good motor lorry is still close on four figures, and in these hard financial times we cannot allow these slipshod methods They might have done in the heat of the disturbed areas in France, but even the disturbed areas in Ireland do not justify such laxity to-day, and if we cannot get the number I think the Vote should be withdrawn. The Chief Secretary has treated the Committee, I consider, with a want of financial respect. I do not impugn his courtesy, but I do impugn his regard for the financial rights of the House.
I am now going to hark now to the Auxiliary Division, and to ask for information on another point. I am not now dealing with charges of broken faith, but want some more precise details as to the gratuities. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of £70, and £250, and, when challenged in his second speech, he said that some had had £70, some twice as much, and some three times as much. Who are those who got £70? Are they cadets, or are they the so-called Black-and-Tans—the temporary constables? Who are those who got twice as much, and who are those who got three times as much; and is it the fact that the last men who joined got the most? I understand that it was not like the case of the labourers in the vineyard, where the last man got the same as the men who began first, but that the last actually got more than the first. I am told that there are men demobilised from the Auxiliary Division who never went to Ireland at all—that they joined here and did nothing but walk about in uniform in the West End, and yet, owing to the terms of their contract, or something of the kind, received a bigger gratuity than the men who went through it all. I think we should have some information on that. The right hon. Gentleman can set my fears at rest in a moment. He has the figures, and we only want a little candour and frankness.
My third and last point is with regard to Sub-head N—Incidental Expenses—as to which we have had no account whatever except with regard to hospitals. The right hon. Gentleman piped his eye about the number of men who were treated in hospitals, and I felt pathetic about it myself. He said that £19,050 had been spent in tending injured man in hospitals, but that, subtracted from £66,000, leaves some £46,000, and I wish to know how that £46,000 is accounted for. In the main Estimate, item N is put down as including radio telephone service, petrol, lubricating oil, and spares, and then come barrack expenses, such as chimney cleaning, whitewashing—which I am sure is a heavy item in the Dublin Castle accounts—carriage of clothing and stores, carriage of fuel, purchase of bandages, ambulance instruction and a number of other things; but all of these small things—the purchase of newspapers, defences of barracks, and so on—are mixed up together, and I do not understand how any Government Department could furnish such an account and expect the House of Commons to pass it. All these small items are lumped together, and the total is £26,000 for this year and £143,000 for last year. I must say it is a thing for which only the Irish Government could be responsible. What is the explanation of the £46,000 odd, of which the right hon. Gentleman has given no account? His previous attitude on these Estimates does not impel me, at any rate, to give him this £46,000; I should like to know a little more about what it is for. If he will take us into his confidence on that point, we might possibly let him have his Vote, but in the meantime I beg to move to reduce the Vote by 1,000.
I am very happy, indeed, to reply to the hon. and gallant Member's questions with regard to the incidental expenses under Subhead N. The expression, "Incidental Expenses," is not mine; all the heads and subheads are made by the Treasury. Under this Subhead £19,000 odd is for hospitals, £15,000 for funerals, £6,000 for tending wounded, and the balance of £26,000 is due to the additional cost of erecting defences for barracks, which proved greater than was originally estimated. That accounts for the whole of the Vote. I am very glad to hear the, hon. and gallant Member say that he will assist me in getting approval of the Vote, now that I have answered in detail the questions which he put to me.
I profoundly regret that I have not, at the moment, exact details of all the arms and other equipment which have been supplied to the Northern Government. On 22nd November last the transfer of the administration of the law and all control of the police passed to the Northern Government, and with that passage went all the equipment necessary for maintaining peace and order. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman wishes, I will do my best to get him the figures, but it is pressing me rather hard to expect me to give him details of what has already gone to the Northern Government in answer to their request for certain necessary arms. I think it is a fair answer to say that we feel it to be our duty to support the Provisional Government and the Northern Government by every means in our power in endeavouring to secure peace in their respective parts of Ireland. As to the Auxiliary cadets, not one of them received less than £70 on disbandment.
Those who had a longer service were paid their monthly salary for the months of the contract unexpired, subject, of course, to the necessary deduction for Income Tax; therefore, if a man had a very long unexpired contract of service, he got a larger amount than a man with a short contract of service. The differene of contract in service arose entirely from the desire to save the public purse.
I think my hon. and gallant Friend is rather hard upon the Chief Secretary. I feel more sympathy for him than my hon. and gallant Friend appears to do. I do not think he really ought to be here in charge of this Vote at all. The people who ought to be in charge of the Vote are the Minister for War and the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Baronet gets all the kicks and they get the halfpence. When all the trouble was going on and the brunt was to be borne he had to stand up and face it. He got all the opprobrium and all the abuse. Now that a settlement is being made and all the pæans of triumph and the plaudits are falling on the Government he is relegated to a back seat. The Colonial Secretary told us to-day that questions on Ireland ought to be referred to him now, and he ought to be here to answer these questions. I came in while he was making a great speech the other day and the Chief Secretary was relegated to a humble position in the far corner. The right hon. Baronet is being left now to deal with these very awkward facts, which I do not believe he is responsible for. The Minister for War and the Colonial Secretary are the people who get the advantage of this Vote. The War Office has sold a lot of things to the forces in Ireland and sent its bill in to the right hon. Baronet. We have to pay the War Office for these things, and I should not be at all surprised if these disposals to which my hon. and gallant Friend takes exception were not made at all by the Chief Secretary, but by the other Ministers who have been effecting the settlement. They hand over motors, arms, barrack requisites, and other things to one Government or the other. It does not matter to the Secretary of State for War whether they pay. He is getting the House to pay. He gets his money all right, and if he gets his money for his munitions the Colonial Secretary is going to get the men who are disbanded for the Middle East Gendarmerie. So far as the settlement in Ireland goes it brings nothing but trouble to the right hon. Baronet, but it is bringing grist to the pockets of the War Office and bringing men into the forces which the Colonial Secretary is setting up in the Middle East. I think that is the true position, and if we wanted a really exact account of what is happening, and if we wanted to know what chance we have of getting any part of this money back in the way of Appropriations-in-aid, the Ministers who might have given us the information would be the two I have mentioned. As it is, the Chief Secretary must take as part of his duties at the Irish Office the unpleasant business of settling up these accounts. The administration of this force during the last three years has resulted in an expenditure of nearly £19,000,000.
We live and learn. I hope I shall always be one or the other, if I cannot be both. I want once more to press upon the Chief Secretary the fact that these accounts are really presented in what, I think, is a slipshod fashion. I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend went too far when he spoke of them as being sloppy finance. The Chief Secretary cast upon the Treasury the responsibility for the preparation of these accounts. He was being asked to give some explanation of Item A, which appears as "incidental expenses," and he told the Committee that the responsibility for the heading lay with the Treasury. I do not know whether responsibility for more than the heading does not rest there, but I would invite the Financial Secretary's attention to the fact that we have been told by the Chief Secretary that, in voting this Supplementary Estimate, we are really only re-voting money. It may be quite within the proper procedure of the House to vote money and to re-vote it, but it seems to me if what we are doing is simply re-voting money that we have already voted, that fact should be brought before us and in some way or other be made clear upon the accounts. As it stands, what we have learnt is that the War Office has driven a very good bargain with the Irish Office, and the Irish Office apparently has driven a very bad bargain with the Northern and Southern Governments. The War Office has supplied goods and materials and arms to the Irish Office, presenting them with a very exact account and no doubt getting the last penny they should have got, and the Irish Office have parted with these goods not in so exact a manner. Therefore, the Committee is confronted to-night with the duty—it cannot be a pleasure in these days—of voting an extra £1,500,000, and it is only after very considerable Debate that we have got the least gleam of light thrown upon the situation, and have ascertained that there is a possibility of some part of this money coming back. These accounts ought to be presented in a more exact form. We should have a more definite understanding, otherwise, out of this extraordinary series of financial transactions the War Office may benefit to a very considerable amount, which may be added to their expenditure, and we shall lose entire sight of it and have no opportunity of checking it. What is really happening is not an increase in the Irish Estimates, but an increase in the War Office Estimates. That is not the way in which to put a picture of finance before this House.
I do not agree with the hon. Member when he said that the Chief Secretary is not the proper person to defend these Supplementary Estimates. It must be remembered that when this expense was incurred the right hon. Gentleman was the person in charge. Whatever he is now, at any rate at that time he was in charge of the Estimates. Neither do I follow the argument of my hon. Friend that the Irish Office are making a present to the War Office, and putting a burden on the taxpayer. So long as there is no fresh money spent, if the Irish Office makes a present to the War Office of something which the War Office requires, and which would have to come upon the taxpayer, it is merely a cross entry in a book, and the taxpayer is in no way damnified. I am glad that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is present, because there are a few questions I desire to put. I will not, however, pursue them if they have been put and answered in my absence. There was considerable debate earlier in the evening on Item "Q," where there is mention of a pension to an Inspector-General of £1,466 13s. 4d. on 4th December, 1920. I do not know whether the attention of the Financial Secretary has been called to this item, and whether he has explained that the difference between £1,466 13s. 4d. and £1,233 0s. 2d. was never voted with the authority of this House. I have no objection to this particular gentleman. The reasons for granting him the increased pension may be excellent. He may be fully entitled to the increase but I would draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that this House should control expenditure, and that, therefore, no money—I do not care how deserving the object or however the necessity for spending the money at once—ought to be spent without the authority of this House. It is not a question of £200 or £300 to an extremely deserving man, but the fact that the Treasury, who were in the old days the watchdogs of finance, ought to see that no money is spent until it has been put before this House, and this House has agreed to the expenditure. This point arises on a small sum, but the principle is very important, because the Government are in the habit of doing this sort of thing. Last August they did it in regard to the Comptroller and Auditor-General on the Consolidated Fund. They are in the habit of disregarding the House of Commons, and of saying: "We desire to spend a certain amount of money. We will spend it, and ask for a bill of indemnity afterwards." This particular expenditure was incurred on the 4th December, 1920, so that 14 months have gone by. It is a totally wrong principle. We shall never get economy in this House until we make the Government understand that they have no authority to spend money unless this House gives it to them.
A question has been raised as to whether the Estimates are in a clear form. On the whole, I do not think there is very much fault to be found with them; but I would point out that on Item "B," "Pay," there is reference to an increased number of the ordinary force and the Special Constabulary (Class A), £371,443. It is stated that the total increase is owing to 2,559 men being added between the date of the original Estimate and the truce. If that is all that is in it, I doubt whether I should have anything to say, except that it was a large sum; but there is also in this item "Provision for Disbandment." How on earth is anybody to know what proportion of the sum of £371,443 for increased pay under the Item "Pay" is voted for "Provision for Disbandment." The House ought to know, if they are asked to vote for increased pay, what the increase of pay is, and, if they are to vote a sum for provision for disbandment, what that sum is. These two items ought not to be lumped together.
On the question of the general principle with regard to this item, some explanation on the actual merits of the case have already been given by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary. The actual appearance of the items upon the Estimate I should describe as due to an excess of caution upon my part. I do not think there is anything which can possibly be objected to as to anticipation of Parliamentary authority, to which my right hon. Friend (Sir F. Banbury) rightly objects and to which I object, and for which we so rightly stood in a white sheet in the matter of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. In this particular case there is authority under the original Irish Constabulary Act, 1919, in the Lord-Lieutenant to make orders for pension in the Irish Police Force. When it was desired on the merits to give this Inspector-General an addition to what would be pension on the normal salary, we were under the impression that we had authority and power to do that by such an order, by the difference between pension on the actual amount of salary and pension on the three years' average. That was done. Subsequently doubts arose as to whether it was perfectly clear that we had such power. There was another slight difficulty to which I may just refer. There were certain doubts as to the actual status of the Inspector-General, as one of the force which he himself inspects. I am still inclined to think—I not know—that we had such power, but, doubts having occurred to my mind, it was thought by myself, and by my advisers at the Treasury, that in the Estimtes these doubts should be removed by the insertion of this charge in the Supplementary Estimate.
I desire to draw attention to Item Q, page 31. I have some difficulty in understanding how these various pensions are fixed. Looking down the various pensions I find the case of a widow of a sergeant. She is given £82 6s. 8d. and in respect of six children she is to receive £82 6s. 8d., making a total of £164 13s. 4d. In these days of high prices and very high cost of living it seems to me that the Government have not been very generous in their provision for these young children, but the point to which I wish to draw attention for the moment is this. There is the case of another widow of a sergeant immediately following. She gets £80 3s. 4d. and her child is to get £16 0s. 8d. per annum. I am unable to understand this kind of calculation, and I shall be glad to know upon what basis these various Estimates have been founded. In the next case, the widow of a constable, where there is the loss of the breadwinner, she is to have the magnificent sum of £60 13s. 4d. and £12 2s. 8d. for her child, so that the total income for this home in future is to be something like £73 at the outside. What possible chance has this widow of maintaining her home and her child in decency and comfort on that amount?
The next instance is even worse. I observe that in this case we have a record of the widows of three constables who are expected to maintain themselves on £50 per annum plus the prodigally generous sum of £10 per child. I think that that kind of differentiation is extremely deplorable, but I want to draw attention particularly to the next item, which is about the meanest record I have yet seen in the pages of any Estimate presented by this Government—the allowance to two motherless children of a constable killed in similar circumstances of £15 peranmumm. The mother is gone and the breadwinner is gone. No one will accept responsibility for these children at £15 each. That money has been placed aside by this generous Government to provide for the future of these children. Who is going to accept the responsibility of looking after these children and bringing them up for £15?
How much education are they going to get for £15 each? What sort of provision is going to be made for them in future? These children, whose parents are gone, have as much right to expect from this Government fair provision for their future education as the children of any people that sit on the Benches opposite. Contrast that provision with the provision made for the Inspector-General. I understand that on the 4th December he was previously granted a pension of £1,233 per annum, but this was not enough. They have now increased that pension by something like £233 13s. 2d., while the two motherless children are expected to face the future with £15 per annum, and this gentleman, with an affluence more than most of us can lay claim to, has added to his annual receipts £233 per annum. It really is a mean, niggardly and thankless kind of procedure to adopt towards these children whose father gave his life, rightly or wrongly, in the service of the community. The Government ought to reconsider the particular grant to these children, so that something might be done to make their future a little more bright and prosperous than it seems likely to be.
I want to reinforce the last speaker in asking my right hon. Friend upon what system these allowances are based? I refer particularly to this allowance of £15 per annum for two motherless children. It is true that right through our pensions scheme the position of dependants is a very weak one. I also observe that that is a section which has been marked out by the Geddes Committee for attack. It is rather shocking to find these figures here at all, because I was under the impression, owing to my ignorance, that all these pensions in regard to men broken in the service of their country were being taken over by the Ministry of Pensions. I cannot understand of what value the Ministry of Pensions is at all if it is not going to fall to it to allot pensions of this type, and to insure that these pensions are equitable and equal.
My criticism of this item is that it ought not to be here. Nothing, I can imagine, is more calculated to cause bitterness than this particular item, which it is almost impossible for any supporter of the Government to defend. You can say what you like, and my right hon. Friend can use words about "special advantage to the women and children of murdered policemen," but in fact, and I think we ought to face it, these were men killed in war. It may have been a particularly unpleasant type of war, it may have been civil war, but it was war. Someone on the Treasury Bench, I am inclined to think it was the Minister of Pensions, gave us to understand—and I am sure many hon. Members so understood it—that something would be done to enable these soldiers of the Crown to come under a pensions scheme. I do not blame my right hon. Friend in the least. It is not his job; I only beg of him to do at an early date what he will have to do later. We have got a pensions scheme. Inside the past seven years you have had a host of men—
The hon. and gallant Member is not in order in urging on a Supplementary Estimate the desirability of having a wider pensions scheme. He is in order in criticising a particular item.
I bow to your ruling, Sir, while humbly expressing my opinion that this £15 is inadequate. It is a provision that would never have been there had it been gone into and examined by an authority put up with very great care by this House and approved of by this House. I sincerely hope that in the near future men who were killed in Ireland, doing their duty, will be put on precisely the same footing as men who were killed under other circumstances during the past seven years while serving their country.
I rise at this moment to answer one or two questions which have been put to me. With reference to the question by the hon. and gallant Member for East Bradford (Captain Loseby) as to the inadequacy of the pension to motherless children, all I can say is that the law compels me to undertake these Estimates. These are Police Estimates for police pensions and cannot possibly come under something else for the moment, at any rate, except the Vote for the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. M. Jones) as to the inadequacy of the pensions, all these pensions are payable outside the statutes that govern the payment of pensions to policemen in Ireland. They are special grants given because under the ordinary Acts these orphans and widows would not receive any pension at all. They are fixed according to the service of the sergeants or constables, according to whether there is one child or more than one child. I agree with the hon. Member that £15 per annum seems a small amount to give to an orphan. At the same time, there is no legal liability on the Government to give anything, and this amount was put in here as a contribution of, at any rate, £15 for each of these children to help them in fighting the battle of life. I do not know whether it will be possible to increase this, but I assure the hon. Member who particularly emphasised the point that I will go into the matter myself.
Then the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) complained, I think, of the form of the Estimate under sub-head K, and urged that the items should be separated. I explained in my opening remarks exactly how that was made out—
I quite agree. I will bring it to the attention of the Treasury who, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, are responsible for the form of all Estimates in this House. I did my best to make it perfectly clear in my opening remarks the details and the different heads which make up the Estimate.
I do not think it fair to make anything like, a lengthy speech, as I was not present when my right hon. Friend replied to the Debate. We have, however, moved a reduction of £1,000 in this Vote, and if it were not that there are other Votes which the Government hope to get to-night one could quite easily criticise, as hon. Members have criticised, not only the method but the amount of money that has been spent on this particular Vote. If hon. Members had taken the trouble to compare the Estimates of last year with those submitted this year, and then with these Supplementary Estimates, they would come to the conclusion that those who drew them did not really know what they were doing. However, I do not think it fair to elaborate that after my right hon. Friend has replied. I do think this last point wants pressing a great deal more than it has been pressed. The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. M. Jones) has drawn attention to a very clamant point which my right hon. Friend has not met. I understand by his reply a moment ago that these were ex gratia payments; that these children were not entitled to them, and neither were the policemen, of whatever rank; but that the Government gave these moneys because of the special circumstances in which the policemen were killed.
Is not this then a fair question to put? Why, in the name of common sense, give a man who has £1,233 a year to live on—which is three times the amount which is given to a Member of Parliament—an extra £233 a year until you get the approval of the Treasury? My hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary to the Treasury tried to make a case for this. The case he did not make was that this man began to draw his pension on the 4th December, 1920. That falls nearly 4 months before the Budget for the year 1921–22. In the name of common sense, why could they not have put that in the original Estimate if it were necessary to pay it? As to the man being entitled to the money, I am not saying one thing or another, because I do not know the circumstances of this particular case. It may be that he is entitled to extra remuneration, and personally, if he is, I am quite glad he should get it. I am not worried about the reasons. The Government should have come to us and should have said, "This man is entitled to £1,233 for his services. We think he should now be paid £233 more because of special circumstances, and, if the House agrees, we will pay this man as from December, 1920." That would have been the correct way. As has been said by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), you will never get true economy if money is spent first and explanations are given after. I have known the House of Commons for 10 years, and of all things in the world it has not a hard heart. If an appeal be made to the head and heart of this House it will vote anything in reason. We know that from past experience. Look at the money we voted for the generals in the Great War, in comparison with what was given to the discharged men. Many of us would have been glad to see the discharged men get more. None the less we were not afraid to vote money to the generals for their services.
If the Government had said, "This particular man deserves more because of the particular circumstances," possibly we would have been prepared to vote the money. The matter would have been more easily understood in that form than in the form in which it has been presented to us. The assumption of the Government has been that they have only to make a grant and a docile House of Commons will agree to it. I was reading recently a chapter of John Morley's "Life of Gladstone." it was the chapter on finance, and I read there that beyond question, whatever Mr. Gladstone's politics were, his was an experienced mind in finance. He emphasised in many speeches in this House that true economy lay in examining every detail of an Estimate, however small. Here we have a case in which the Government have practically pledged the honour of this House to an indebtedness of £233 a year without so much as saying to the House, "By your leave?" That is why we shall vote against this Estimate, among many other things. We have to face the position from the point of view of driving borne the stiffest examination of every Estimate laid before us. Every Government, this Government or any other Government, must be forced to recognise that, first of all, it is the House of Commons that is the master of finance.
It is a great pity that so many Members absent themselves from the Debates when these important principles of finance are being driven home. If the House of Commons as a whole would listen to the points made by my right hon. Friend opposite (Sir F. Banbury) and the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. M. Jones) with regard to the pensions we are now asked to vote, there would not be any doubt as to the result of the voting. The trouble we have to face is that we are compelled to talk into the air, and that then we are voted down by people who will not listen to the arguments, to which they ought to listen if they fulfilled their duties as Members.
That may be. There is only my hon. and gallant Friend belonging to his own party who is present at the moment. If my hon. and gallant Friend will take the trouble to read the OFFICIAL REPORT, as he has not listened to the Debate, he will probably find that members of the party to which I belong have contributed to this discussion more than any other section of the House. That may be an unfortunate experience for my hon. and gallant Friend. But let me put the point to him. Does he agree with me, or disagree?
If I may say so, that is the only stupid speech I have ever heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman make. If he thinks that at present we are trying to avoid a Division, he is wrong. What we are attempting to do is to protest against the way in which these Estimates are presented, and against the assumption that money can be spent without consulting the House of Commons. With regard to these pensioners the Chief Secretary for Ireland made one mistake. I do not see how he can increase these amounts without a Supplementary Estimate. I would be pleased to see the orphan children cared for better, but unless there is in the Irish Office some fund of which we know nothing, there is no way by which my right hon. Friend could do it except by a Supplementary Estimate. Because of the treatment meted out on the one hand to a man who is to receive more than £1,400 a year because he is alive, and the treatment meted out to widows and children because their main breadwinners are dead, I hold that ever man who has a spark of humanity in his breast ought to go into the Lobby against the Government.
The explanation given by the Chief Secretary with regard to these pensions does not make the position any clearer. On the contrary it has led us further astray. The pension to which the inspector-general was legally entitled was £1,233 a year, but he got an extra £233. Where was the legal authority to give that extra amount to him? Contrasting the pension of £1,233 and the pensions given to the widows and children of constables, we have the same complaint to make against this Government, when it is spending the nation's money for such a purpose, as we have to make against it when it spends money for other purposes. It is said to be a good Government. That all depends on the class to which you belong, and whether you are a highly placed individual. An individual with £1,233 a year gets £233 a year extra. There can be no argument either on the ground of equity or necessity, for the extra £233; but then you give to the constable's children £15 a year each. I am lot going to argue against that, because it does not require argument. We all know what £15 a year represents nowadays. I take exception, however, to the explanation offered by the Chief Secretary. He says there is no legal obligation to give anything to the children of the constables. There is nothing in the constable's contract or agreement compelling the Government to do so, but out of their generosity the Government gives them £15 a year. If, out of their generosity they gave £15 a year, why not out of their generosity give £30 a year, even though there was no legal responsibility to recognise these poor orphan children of the unfortunate constables? If the Chief Secretary would apply his mind to that side of the question we would be much nearer an understanding. We are not going to be put off by being told that there was no legal obligation. That is not the point of our objection. Our objection is the extraordinary and uncalled-for generosity shown to an individual or individuals who did not require it, and this niggardly treatment, this insult, offered to the orphan children of the common constable.
I assume we are going to have some reply to the recent speeches made, if not from the Chief Secretary from some equally competent Member of the Government., because a constitutional point has been raised. I suppose we may take it, however, that it is becoming a matter, of course in the House of Commons that money should be paid without the sanction of. Parliament, and that we should have the usual fait accompli flung at us across the Table. We are getting quite used to that, just as eels become used to skinning. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), who has very great financial experience, has dealt with certain matters in this Estimate, and my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), who has also financial experience and belongs to a race hereditarily famous in connection with finance, has also spoken, and yet we have not had one word of reply. Lastly, my hon. Friend, who spoke last and who has a right to speak for his constituency, having been returned at a bye-election, which is within the memory of us all, has dealt with the matter, but the Chief Secretary turns tail and leaves it to somebody else to answer. I make no complaint; the Chief Secretary is human, and I suppose he feels the results of a long Sitting, but this is a sum involving nearly £1,500,000 of money, and we should have an answer to the questions which have been put. I see here one of the leaders of Northern Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "The leader!"] I am glad to know he is the leader of Northern Ireland. I refer to the hon. and gallant Member for South Antrim. Perhaps he will give us some enlightenment on a matter about which the Chief Secretary has been singularly unable to enlighten us. I refer to Subhead R, which indicates that there is a sum of no less than £196,000 which we are not getting because, we are told, we cannot recover it from the Irish local authorities. I am glad to notice that the Chief Secretary has come back.
I was careful to state that I was certain this could be answered by another equally competent Member of the Government. It is a constitutional point, and I for one do not wish to keep the Chief Secretary here, because I know the hon. Member for Reading (Colonel L. Wilson) would undertake the task of replying to this point. We are told there is a sum of £196,000 which we cannot recover because of the disturbed state of Ireland. The amount allowed for in the original Estimate was £220,000, and that leaves approximately £30,000 which we have been able to collect and £190,000 which we have not been able to collect. Have the six Northern counties of Ireland paid their quota? Have they paid their share of these expenses, or is the default solely in the counties of Southern Ireland? I can understand the counties of Southern Ireland not having paid, because they have been in a state of open rebellion against the authority of this House and local government has broken down, but, according to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, there is complete tranquillity, order, and peace in their domain. In these six counties we are told that order and organisation reign, and that, in fact, the Government of East Prussia was nothing like it for efficiency or the government of Kent for peacefulness. Have they paid their share and, if they have not, have they made any promise to pay, and has the promise been put in writing and, if so, has the right hon. Gentleman seen the promise?
I do not wish to interrupt, but I may be able to save the hon. and gallant Member further trouble in dealing with this question. I am happy to be able to inform him that, as one would expect, the six counties in the Northern Parliamentary area have paid their local rates and police charges.
It has been cell worth my while to get that admission from the Chief Secretary, and I may congratulate hon. Members from Northern Ireland on the value of the character they have received from the right hon. Gentleman. Long may they live up to it. I wish to ask for some details about this £196,000. There is no mention of it in the Treaty which has been drawn up and ratified by the Dail and this House. Is the matter still under negotiation? Are we going to get this money, or will it appear as another default next year? When we pay this money is that the end of it, or are there some further sums outstanding? I do not ask for full details about other sums although it would be quite relevant, but I do ask for details about the £196,000. The right hon. Member for the City of London asked at what the Chief Secretary would discount the bill? I do not use that language, not having been brought up in the same school as the right hon. Gentleman, but I ask what chance there is of getting the money? This is not by any means a little sum, and the explanations for this particular sub-head have been as inadequate as they hav been for the greater part of this Vote or £1,740,000, which I hope the House will support me in reducing and thus show to the Chief Secretary that the days of slipshod finance are over.
I wish to express my regret that hon. Members opposite have mixed up two subjects, namely, the granting of £30 a year to certain unfortunate children and the unconstitutional practice of paying money without the authority of this House. If they had left the children out, I should have voted against the Government, but as it is I do not think I possibly can, because we cannot in the least know what the circumstances were under which the Government made this grant. As far as I know, the Government are never to be blamed for not giving sufficient. They are generally to be blamed for giving too much, and I do not believe for a moment that the Chief Secretary would have made a grant of what is after all £30 a year for two children unless he thought that was sufficient under the circumstances. The other matter is much more important, and it is a constitutional point. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) said we should exercise our authority and tell the Government, "If you choose to spend money without coming to us and gaining our permission, you will have to find the money out of your own pocket." If the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) had left the matter there, I should have voted against the Government, but as it is I must either abstain from voting or vote with them.
I am very sorry to know my right hon. Friend the Member for the City (Sir F. Banbury) is going to run away. The argument that was used with regard to the children was not the question at all as to whether anybody should get money, but if they got money the disparity between what was given to the one and the other was the subject matter of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean). He did not bring up the argument that that money should have been spent, although I challenge the right hon. Baronet to say if he objects to these poor children getting any money.
I would not dream of accusing my right hon. Friend, whose interest extends even to the welfare of dogs, a matter in which I have supported him every time he has brought in his Bill, of that kind of spirit. When he knows that, as he does know, why does he get up and say he is going to run away from the Division? We are dividing against the Government on the question, which has never been answered to-day, why, in April or May, 1921, the Government did not budget for this money. They have left it until February, 1922, and the man in receipt of £1,200 has been drawing that money all the time.
It is not a question of talking too much. There are a great many Members of this House who hold their tongues too much, and do not explain the votes they give. They are afraid to get up and explain the votes they give. There are many hon. Members of this House who are going to support the Government on this Vote to-night who could not begin to explain what they are voting for and why they are voting for it. That is the whole point, and the right hon. Member for the City, the purist in finance, because somebody gets up on this side and draws attention to a perfectly relevant point, namely, the disparity between one payment and another, says we have mixed up the issue, because he is afraid to face the facts, like so many hon. Members on that side.
Debate about motherless and fatherless children receiving only £15 until they reach the age of 15, where an inspector receives, not a pension, but an addition to his pension of £233 a year. I cannot understand the right hon. Gentleman's conscience. I pointed out a perfectly relevant point, that you found a certain individual already entitled to a pension being paid a very large addition to that pension because of certain risks we were told he had taken, and because of certain other worries and troubles that he had undergone. The Chief Secretary seemed to think he was entitled, because of that strain, to this addition to his pension, whereas there were two children with their father killed—
May I explain my point? If I am not right, I will be pleased to resume my seat. The point that I raise is this, that the right hon. Member for the City said my speech clouded the issue, and I was trying to make the point that, so far as my speech was concerned, it was perfectly relevant to the discussion and confused no issue on this Vote.
|Division No. 11.]||AYES.||[10.5 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Galbraith, Samuel||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Gillis, William||Lunn, William|
|Barker, G. (Honmouth, Abertillery)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Grundy, T. W.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Halls, Walter||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hayday, Arthur||Murray, Hon. A. C. (Aberdeen)|
|Cairns, John||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hogge, James Myles||Robertson, John|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Holmes, J. Stanley||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Irving, Dan||Sexton, James|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Johnstone, Joseph||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Swan, J. E.||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wilson, James (Dudley)||Dr. Murray and Mr. J. A.|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)||Wintringham, Margaret||Parkinson.|
|Watts-Morgan, Lieut.-Col. D.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Haslam, Lewis||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Atkey, A. R.||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Pratt, John William|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Hills, Major John Waller||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Hinds, John||Reid, D. D.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Remer, J. R.|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Hood, Sir Joseph||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G.||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Bird, Sir William B. M. (Chichester)||Hurd, Percy A.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Johnson, Sir Stanley||Simm, M. T.|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Kellaway, Rt Hon. Fredk George||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Casey, T. W.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W).||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lloyd, George Butler||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Colvin, Brig-General Richard Beale||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Lorden, John William||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Taylor, J.|
|Dockrell, Sir Maurice||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Ednam, Viscount||Manville, Edward||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Moles, Thomas||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Morison, Rt. Hon. Thomas Brash||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Morris, Richard||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Morrison, Hugh||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Fildes, Henry||Murchison, C. K.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Murray, William (Dumfries)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Neal, Arthur||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Newman. Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Windsor, Viscount|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||Wise, Frederick|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Pain, Brig.-Gen. Sir W. Hacket||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Gregory, Holman||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Pearce, Sir William|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Perkins, Walter Frank||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.