asked the Prime Minister whether the agents of the Provisional Government, to whom the British Government are turning over stores and property ostensibly for safe custody, belong to the Irish Republican Army; and, if so, whether the Government can give any assurance that they have been handed over to men who acknowledge the authority of the Provisional Government?
As I stated in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Kirkdale on the 16th February last, I am prepared to assume that the personnel of the force which the Provisional Government is creating, as well as the headquarters staff engaged in equipping and training it, will be largely drawn from those who, during the period of conflict, constituted what was known as the Irish Republican Army, and it would be impossible for His Majesty's Government to refuse to have dealings with such persons on that account; but all such dealings will be with such persons in their individual capacity as accredited agents of the Provisional Government.
When the right hon. Gentleman replies, will he explain how, if such reliance can be placed on the Provisional Government, he accounts for the fact that 30,000 rounds of ammunition and a large amount of stores have been stolen by the Irish Republican Army at Clonmel?
It has been stolen by a portion of the Irish Republican Army which is in open defiance of the Provisional Government, and only a week ago shot one of the officers of the Provisional Government. So far as the question of my Noble Friend is concerned, we are not handing over stores of any kind to persons who do not acknowledge the authority of the Provisional Government.
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that no further ammunition or stores are handed over to the Provisional Government till he is satisfied their authority is more assured?
Is the right hon. Gentleman certain that none of the arms and stores which have been handed over to the Provisional Government are now in the hands of the rebels, and are being used by them?
I am certain that the very limited quantity of arms handed over to the Provisional Government for the purpose of equipping their forces has been used for the purpose, and is in the hands of persons who obey the orders of the Provisional Government.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can give the total valuation at which the Crown lands at the Curragh, in County Kildare, and the huts, buildings, and other military stores in Newbridge and Curragh camps, have been handed over to the Provisional Government of the Free State; and will he give the total acreage involved?
The lands, buildings and huts referred to have been handed over to the Provisional Government for safe custody, and it is not yet known whether they desire to acquire them. The question of valuation does not therefore, as yet, arise. As regards the stores, inventories of these have been signed by accredited representatives of the. Provisional Government, and the valuation will be agreed at a later date. The area of the land involved is 146 acres, of which 45 acres are subject to a fee farm rent.
Well, Sir, I accept the information, which I have received from General Macready this morning, as correct and up to date. I have no doubt some time in the future stores, lands and huts will be handed over to the Provisional Government—to the Irish Free State Government.
I am afraid that, according to the information I received only a quarter of an hour ago, no land or huts at the Curragh or Newbridge have yet been handed over to the Provisional Government.
asked the Prime Minister what is the estimated value of the property of all sorts, including land, that has been transferred from the British Government to the Provisional Government in Ireland; whether there is any security for the payment of any money as the price of such property, except a verbal agreement with individual members of the Provisional Government; and whether, in the event of such verbal agreement being violated or of its repudiation by whatever Government, Republican or otherwise, may succeed the Provisional Government, the British taxpayer will have any redress for the loss of valuable property?
In reply to the first part of the question, it is not possible at present to estimate the value of the property, including land, transferred subject to valuation to the custody of the Provisional Government; in reply to the second part of the question, the value of the property so transferred will be debited against the Free State in the financial settlement which will eventually take place, and the security that the terms of that settlement will be observed is the credit of His Majesty's Government and of the Irish Government respectively. The third part of the question is hypothetical.
Am I to understand from the answer that public property, the value of which is quite unknown, has been transferred to the Provisional Government of Ireland on a mere note of hand, and is that the ordinary habit of the Government in dealing with public property in Ireland?
Is it not an act of madness to transfer property to the Provisional Government before we know whether the people of Ireland are going to approve or disapprove of the Treaty?