Military Stores.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 27th February 1922.

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Colonel NEWMAN:

48.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that orders have been issued by the competent authority of the Irish Republican Army that under pain of severe punishment the auction or sale of military hutments, equipment, stores, or buildings is not to be undertaken by those who generally undertake such sales; and whether, in consequence, such military material has had to be handed over to the Irish Republican Army or their friends on nominal terms or by way of free gift?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I am informed that a notice was recently issued by a person styling himself a brigade commandant of the Irish Republican Army prohibiting the purchase by members of the public of certain army hutments and stores that were being offered for sale. This person was not acting under the authority of the Provisional Government. The stores and hutments in question were subsequently handed over by the Army authorities, acting as agents of the Disposals Board, to a representative of the Provisional Government, subject to a valuation and to their being taken into account in the ultimate financial settlement between His Majesty s Government and the Government of the Irish Free State.

Colonel NEWMAN:

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that numbers of people like myself, who have had houses burnt, want to get these huts to live in, and is he aware that we take the risk of being shot?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Have any steps been taken to punish this officer of the Irish Republican Army who wrongfully issued this order? That is what we want to know.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I must have notice of that question.

Colonel NEWMAN:

49.

asked the Prime Minister why the material and stores of the military camps at Kilworth and Moorpark, in County Cork, were not put up to auction, but handed over to the Irish Republican Army; and what. has been done with the large extent of land which was bought not so many years ago for the purposes of forming an important training area for the South Irish military district?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

The military authorities in Ireland, acting as agents of the Disposals Board, have handed over the material and stores in the military camps at Kilworth and Moorpark to representatives of the Provisional Government, subject to a valuation, which will be taken into account in the final financial settlement between His Majesty's Government and the Government of the Irish Free State. As regards the land, the Provisional Government have undertaken to hold it subject to whatever agreement may be arrived at between the two Governments as to its future ownership, or as to the terms of its acquisition in the event of the ownership passing finally to the Government of the Irish Free State.

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Have these stores and so on been handed over to the Irish Republican Army, and, if so, to which branch of the Irish Republican Army—de Valera's or Collins'?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I never used the words "Irish Republican Army." I said "representatives of the Provisional Government."

Colonel NEWMAN:

Are not those who have possession of these stores and so on entitled to sell them at a fair price?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Yes, certainly. We have all the proprietary rights of private property.

Photo of Mr Ronald McNeill Mr Ronald McNeill , Canterbury

Does it not come to this, that valuable property belonging to the British taxpayer is being handed over on no better security than the credit of the Irish Provisional Government?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I think it is undoubtedly true that large quantities of property which cannot otherwise be safeguarded, now that our troops are leaving the country, are being handed over to the Provisional Government, end the credit of the Provisional Government is responsible for the proper adjustment of the accounts.

Photo of Sir John Butcher Sir John Butcher , City of York

Is the right hon. Gentleman sure he is not handing over these valuable stores for the benefit of a Republican Government?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

That is a matter for argument.

Photo of Mr Ronald McNeill Mr Ronald McNeill , Canterbury

You will never see a sixpence for them.