asked the Prime Minister whether Dail Eircann is, during the next three months, to continue to meet and to function in all its departments as before the signing of the Articles of Agreement; what are the functions which this assembly are to perform; is the Irish Republican Army to be allowed to continue as at present during the next three months; and what executive force will be responsible for the maintenance of law and order and the protection of life and property during the same period?
I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made on 27th February. As I then explained, the Provisional Government expect that it will be possible to hold a General Election in Ireland early in June next. I cannot undertake to forecast the future beyond that date further than to say that I hope that the election will result in the immediate establishment of the Free State. During the interval the Provisional Government will remain responsible for the maintenance of law and order and the protection of life and property.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer what I have put on the Paper as to Dail Eireann continuing to meet? What are its functions? Is he aware that at the meeting yesterday Ministers of Trade, Education, and Propaganda were appointed? What are these Gentlemen to do in Ireland in view of the fact that the British Government is still responsible for law and order?
The hon. Gentleman looks at the matter the wrong way round. I have no official knowledge of the proceedings of Dail Eireann. The British Government do not recognise the Republican aspect at all in Ireland and I trust never will. But the Irish Free State party, who are forming the Provisional Government at the present time, have won their position as members of this body to which my hon. Friend has referred. In that capacity they offer explanations to that body, but as stated by the acting head of the Provisional Government yesterday they do not con-eider themselves responsible to that body.