(2) For the purpose of giving effect to Article 17 of the said Agreement, Orders in Council may be made transferring to the Provisional Government established under that Article the powers and machinery therein referred to, and as soon as may be and not later than four months after the passing of this Act the Parliament of Southern Ireland shall be dissolved and such steps shall be taken as may be necessary for holding, in accordance with the law now in force with respect to the franchise number of members and method of election and holding of elections to that Parliament, an election of members for the constituencies which would have been entitled to elect members to that Parliament, and the members so elected shall constitute the House of the Parliament to which the Provisional Government shall be responsible, and that Parliament shall, as respects matters within the jurisdiction of the Provisional Government, have power to make laws in like manner as the Parliament of the Irish Free State when constituted. Any Order in Council under this Section may contain such incidental, consequential, or supplemental provisions as may appear to be necessary or proper for the purpose of giving effect to the foregoing provisions of this Section.
At the end of Sub-section (1) insert:
Provided that if an address is presented to His Majesty under Article 12 of the said Agreement, then as from the date of that address and until identical Acts making other provisions are passed by the Parliaments of the Irish Free State and of Northern Ireland, the powers exercisable by the Council of Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, shall, as respects Northern Ireland, be exercisable as from the date of that address by the Government or Parliament of Northern Ireland as the case requires.
I do not want to prolong the Debate, but I do want to say a word on this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with a similar Amendment when the Bill was in Committee in this House, and he then admitted the case we made out; he admitted that the position was inconvenient and anomalous; but I think he took somewhat too airy a view of the position when, in his opening speech to-day, he said the matter could be easily dealt with. As a matter of fact, the question of dealing with the Diseases of Animals Act in causing difficulty in Ireland to-day. Power to administer these Acts is not given to the two Governments: it is given to the Council of Ireland. At this moment someone in Dublin is purporting to appoint veterinary inspectors to perform duties in Northern Ireland without any consultation whatever with 1he Government of Northern Ireland. Those men have no statutory power whatever to carry out their duties. No one appointed by the two Governments can have any power for that purpose. The breeding of pedigree stock is a very large industry in Tyrone and Fermanagh and some other parts of Northern Ireland, but as a result of the position that has arisen Northern Ireland is without a veterinary service, and there cannot be one until some further steps are taken. It may be that this is a technical breach of the Treaty, but I think the right hon. Gentleman might very well address himself to the Provisional Government and see that this matter is put right, because it is not a matter that can be dealt with by the two Governments. It is a pressing matter at the present moment, and something ought to be done to get the matter put right.
Like the right hon. Gentleman who is conducting this Bill, we are anxious to avoid causes of friction between the two Governments in Ireland in future, and I can imagine few causes of friction more certain to arise than will this one if we disagree with the Lords Amendment. Under the 1020 Act a Council was set up in Ireland on which there were to be representatives of the North and the South in equal numbers, but the whole position was entirely altered by the Treaty, and you have this extraordinary result, that questions of railways, fisheries, diseases of animals and other questions in the North of Ireland would be settled by this Council, on which there would be representatives of the South who have nothing to do with those matters in the North of Ireland, and, per contra, the questions of railways, fisheries and diseases of animals in the South would be dealt with by the South without any consultation with the North. Whereas the South could interfere with the North in those matters, the North would have no voice in the South. Surely that is an intolerable anomaly. If it is right that the North should not interfere with the South, how can the right hon. Gentleman justify interference with the North by the South? The thing is not really arguable. My right hon. Friend says, "Let it be settled by agreement between the two Governments." Does he forget that already there has been an attempt to settle it between Sir James Craig and Mr. Michael Collins? An agreement was signed between them which would have settled this question, but, unfortunately, that agreement was thrown into the waste paper basket, not by Sir James Craig, but for some reason—I am not judging the matter now about Mr. Collins—but for some reason or other that agreement has been abandoned. What is the use of telling us now that we are to look to an agreement in the future? Agreement has been tried and has failed, and what reason is there to suppose that there is more chance of an agreement now than there was then? I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that shelving the difficulty is creating trouble in the future. Let us face these things. It is no good to say "Everything will come right if you have good will and agreement on one side and the other." There is no good going forward with vague aspirations, and endeavouring to solve your difficulties by postponing them. The right hon. Gentleman has got the representatives of Southern Ireland here, and he has made an agreement with them—and I must congratulate them about it and about the success which has attended the negotiations between them—and why should he not go to them and point out frankly and fairly the real difficulty? Instead of trusting to some vague and misty future to come to an agreement, why does he not go to them now, in the present spirit of mutual co-operation, and clear up this very real and great difficulty? That would be a reasonable course, and the only course which appears to me to be consistent with the views I have expressed, and which are expressed with the real object of getting rid of a real danger.
I think I can convince my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Sir J. Butcher) that the danger to which he refers will not arise. The Senate of Southern Ireland under the Act of 1920 has ceased to exist. There is no House of Commons and there is no Senate, and therefore members from Southern Ireland on the Irish Council cannot be appointed. It is quite clear the Act of 1920 will have to be amended: but I submit to my hon. and learned Friend that it is a very dangerous thing to specify a single Amendment, when that Amendment is one of several Amendments, for thereby you may exclude other Amendments. The fact is the Act of 1920 is in many respects obsolete. Again I appeal to my hon. and learned Friend, as a lawyer, does not he think that it would be a dangerous thing to the cause which he have at heart to specify certain Amendments, whereby he might be held to exclude other Amendments of equal importance? Of course we all wish to do what he wants; and no one wants the Council of Ireland to have certain powers in Northern Ireland which are not applicable; but I do submit that the way to put that right is not in this Bill but by an Amendment of the Act of 1920.
The hon. and gallant Member for Durham (Major Hills) has not read the Bill. The Bill says:
As soon as may be alter the passing of this Act the Parliament of Southern Ireland shall be dissolved.
The House of Commons of Southern Ireland is sitting, only it calls itself the Dail Eireann. The members of Dail Eireann are the members who were elected under the Act of 1920. The. Northern Parliament is functioning. It has both a House of Commons and a Senate. Only one thing stands in the way of setting up the Irish Council, and that is that the Southern Irish Senate is not working. Why not allow the Dail Eireann to nominate their seven Senators? Then they could set up the Irish Council. The hon. and gallant Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel J.
Ward) is perfectly right in blaming the Government for consenting to postponement of the Irish General Election. The consequence of that postponement is that we have a hiatus of three months, during which many things may happen. If we could have some sort of a Council or Standing Committee which could deal with difficulties arising between the Northern Irish Parliament and the Irish Free State, we should be doing a good work. I regard the abrogation of the Irish Council as something like a disaster. I do appeal to the Government to put something in the place of the Irish Council during the months that must elapse before the General Election.
The Article which my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Durham (Major Hills), forgot is a matter of very great importance. That is Article 13 of the Treaty. Had it simply been that the provisions of the Act of 1920 as regards the Council of Ireland had been overlooked at the Conference, provision might have been made in the matter. But it is very much more serious than that, because the provisions of the Act of 1920 were not overlooked, and a special Clause—Artide 13—was put in the Treaty, deliberately putting Ulster under the control of the Free State Government, although knowingly the Free State Government had no control over Ulster. This is the Article:
13. For the purpose of the last foregoing article the powers of the Parliament of Southern Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, to elect members to the Council of Ireland shall, after the Parliament of the Irish Free State is constituted, he exercised by that Parliament.
The Government deliberately gave power to the Irish Free State Parliament to concern itself with private Bills in Ulster—with railways, diseases of animals, and other matters. I said just now the Government were obsessed by the idea of solving difficult questions by formula and conference. This is another example. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech to-day referred to this Amendment as a matter of convenience. It is very much more than that. It is a matter that may be vital in many respects. He said the inconvenience of the Council of Ireland could be removed by agreement between the two Parliaments of
Northern and Southern Ireland after they had conferred together. That would be all very well if the two Parliaments were co-equal, and if they were negotiating on an equal basis, but they would not be, and it must also be remembered that the Free State Parliament is determined, in every way possible, to force Ulster to come into the Free state. The only object that could have been in the Government's mind in inserting Article 13 in the Treaty, which this Amendment will deal with, was to give a lever or a weapon to Southern Ireland to enable it, by pinpricks and by interference with Northern Ireland, to force Northern Ireland to come under the Free State. It is a perfectly simple matter which requires no embellishment, and I hope the House will insist on this Lords Amendment being made.
At the end of Sub-section (1), insert:
Provided further that if an address is presented to His Majesty under Article 12 of the said Agreement, then as from the date of that address and until identical Acts making other provisions are passed by the Parliaments of the Irish Free State and of Northern Ireland, any appeal from His Majesty's Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland shall, instead of as provided by Section forty-three of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, lie to the House of Lords in the same manner and subject to the like conditions as an Appeal from His Majesty's Court of Appeal in Ireland lay to the House of Lords before the passing of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920.
I understand the Colonial Secretary refuses to accept this Amendment on the ground that this would interfere with the Treaty, but I ask him to reconsider the question. The position at present, as those interested in the 1920 Act know, is that we have in Ulster an Appeal Court of our own. At the time the 1920 Bill was going through this House, Ulster representatives endeavoured to make the final appeal an appeal from the Ulster Court of Appeal to the House of Lords, but for some reason best known to themselves the Government adopted what everybody, I think, admitted was a very cumbrous and unnecessary form, and introduced another Court of Appeal between the Ulster Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, namely, the High Court of Appeal of Ireland, which sits in Dublin and is manned by judges from both Ulster and Southern Ireland. He-presentations were made to the Government, but there were apparently vested interests concerned, and that cumbrous procedure was adopted. I would like to ask the Government how they can argue that the removing of that unnecessary Court of Appeal, which nobody wants, can be said in any way to interfere with the Treaty. This has nothing to do with Southern Ireland. It is a matter entirely for Ulster itself, and I cannot conceive for one moment that Mr. Collins or anybody else in the South of Ireland could produce one single argument against the disappearance of this Court.
May I interrupt my hon. and gallant Friend for one moment? This matter was discussed at considerable length in the Conference, and I am quite entitled to say that both the Northern and Southern representatives were agreed that this Court should be abolished, but they were also agreed that this was not the moment to do it, that it would be premature now, and that the proper time to do it would be in the legislation connected with the Constitution of the Free State.
I have the greatest respect, certainly, for the majority of the gentlemen who took part in that Conference, but I cannot possibly be asked to agree with them in that. If it is possible to do away now and here with this Court of Appeal, without interfering with the Treaty, I put it to tire House that surely it ought to be done, especially as we have it now from the right hon. Gentleman that all the members of the Conference agree that this Court must be done away with at the earliest possible moment. The argument which the right hon. Gentleman has adduced so often against accepting our Amendments is that nothing can be accepted which will interfere with the Treaty. It is a question for this House to decide whether this does interfere with the Treaty or not, and I say, and I leave it to the feeling of the House to agree with me, that it does not interfere with the Treaty. If that be so, then I say, For goodness' sake, let us get rid at once of what all are agreed ought no longer to exist.
The interruption of the right hon. Gentleman during the course of my hon. and gallant Friend's speech just now has really removed the only possible difficulty that ought to stand in the way of our accepting this Amendment. What is the position now! It is, in the first place, admitted that this does not modify or touch the Treaty in any way, and the second point is that it is a purely Ulster measure, not affecting a solitary person in the South of Ireland. All that it says is that if an Ulster litigant who has gone to the Court of Appeal in Ulster wishes to go to the House of Lords, he should be at liberty to do so direct, instead of being subjected I of the great delay of going through another Court of Appeal first. Perhaps some reckless lawyer might say it is a good thing to have another Court of Appeal to intervene, so that there might be four trials, namely, before the Court of First Instance in Northern Ireland, the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland, the High Court of Appeal in Dublin, and then the House of Lords, but I cannot imagine that any intelligent litigant or layman would say it is a reasonable thing, and indeed I do not think the right hon. Gentleman himself says it is reasonable. He says it is right that this intermediate Court of Appeal in Dublin should be abolished.
Then we have this further statement to-day, which I think is very important, namely, that the two Governments agreed yesterday that this Court should be abolished so that the sole question left is as to whether this Clause, which is so desirable, necessary, and acceptable, should be left in the Bill, or should be postponed to some future period. I cannot conceive why it should be postponed. The right hon. Gentleman has given us no reason for postponing it. Is there anything in the nature of things which makes it right to postpone it? I suppose that if you were quite certain that in another week or another month you might be dealing with this matter and that you had an agreement by everybody, there would be no great difference between passing it now and passing it then, but let me point out this—and I say this as one who is at present supporting the Government—that there is the possibility, and it is no good shutting our eyes to it, that this Government may not be in power for ever. I am putting it very mildly, but let me put it a little more strongly. There is a possibility that this Government may not be in power when the time comes for putting this provision into the Bill of which the Colonial Secretary speaks. [An HON. MEMBER: "Leicester!"] It is an interesting incident—one of those curious fluctuations. I am not going to be drawn into that. I will confine myself to what I was venturing to urge upon the House, that we have now the opportunity of removing an admitted injustice upon the inhabitants of Northern Ireland, and I say it is just possible that an occasion as convenient as the present may not arise. Therefore, I appeal to the Colonial Secretary, or his deputy for the time being, the Secretary of State for War, to allow us to keep in this Amendment of the Lords. For myself, if the Government do not agree to it, I shall certainly ask the House to divide, in the hope of securing, not a victory for us, but a victory for Ireland and common sense.
I understand the Colonial Secretary admits that this Amendment is not in any way a breach of the Treaty. I cannot possibly see how it can be a breach of the Treaty, because it is an Amendment consequential upon the Treaty. Under the Act of 1920, this Court is constituted of members of the High Court of Northern Ireland and of the High Court of Southern Ireland, but under the Treaty the High Court of Southern Ireland disappears. We had a rather illuminating remark the, other day from the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who drew a distinction between His Majesty's Courts and the Free State Courts. I was under the impression that in any part of the British Empire justice was done in the name of His Majesty, and that if the Free State remains part of the British Empire, the Courts are His Majesty's Courts. This is only a side issue, but even in the mind of the Chief Secretary, it is perfectly clear that the Free State Courts are going to be different altogether from the Court constituted in 1920, the High Court of Southern Ireland. The net result of this change is that it is now impossible to constitute this Court of Appeal in Ireland. One constituent part has disappeared, and, therefore, it is quite im- possible to constitute the Court apart from the Act. The result is that it is impossible for a litigant in Northern Ireland, who wishes to go to the House of Lords on Appeal, to go there. The net result of disagreeing with this Amendment is to make the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland the final Court of resort to a suitor in Northern Ireland That is a very serious change in the Taw, and a change, apparently, not contemplated by anyone when the Treaty was drawn up.
I understood, when I came down this morning, that this Amendment, probably, would be accepted. However that may be, the real point is that, owing to the disappearance of the High Court of Southern Ireland, this Court of Appeal cannot be constituted. Therefore, a man cannot go to the House of Lords, because a necessary preliminary in the Act of 1920 has disappeared. It is quite ridiculous to say that a litigant in Northern Ireland shall be satisfied with a Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. This is not a momentary thing. The Government talk as if the Irish Constitution were going to be adopted in a week or two, or a month or two. As a matter of fact, even the Treaty allows 12 months in these matters, and in 12 months, serious points of principle may arise. Under all the circumstances, I think the Government are behaving most unreasonably in not accepting the Amendment. It is a matter which does not concern the Treaty. It only concerns Ulster, and it is a matter on which all the people of Ulster are agreed, and to which the Provisional Government takes no objection. Under those circumstances, it seems to me pure obstinacy, pure obstructiveness, on the part of the Government, a pure attempt to put difficulties in the way of Northern Ireland. They have not met us in any way practically whatsoever. Surely they can meet us in one case where it interferes with no vested interests of any sort. It is quite true there is a Lord Chancellor, but the Lord Chancellor, so far as I can see, is derelict at the present moment. It does not alter his position. For all these reasons, I do ask the House not to disagree with this Amendment.
I think the Ulster Members have made out a very strong case. It is obviously a Court that nobody wants, even if it can be constituted. I remember during the progress of the Government of Ireland Act a good many of us on this bench and in other parts of the House said that the Act allowed too many Courts. But as it is now, it seems certain that this Court cannot even be constituted. At the same time, the Colonial Secretary has just told us that the representatives at the Conference agreed that they did not want the alteration made at once. [HON. MEMBERS dissented.] I understood him to say that, and there may be very good reasons of which we do not know. It may be that a question of this sort is bound up with other details that would also have to be altered at the same time. I, therefore, find myself in this difficulty, that I agree with the Ulster Members that this Court is not wanted, and cannot be constituted; but, at the same time, I am not prepared to go beyond the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and the other representatives at the Conference, who distinctly said that they are prepared to make the alteration, but do not want to make it now.
I should like the Colonial Secretary to give a definite assurance to the House as to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland having requested that this Amendment should not be made now. The House ought to know where they are on this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for East Down (Mr. Reid) said that the result of this would be simply that the Court of Appeal of Northern Ireland would be the final Court of Appeal, and it would prevent litigants going to the House of Lords. It does much more than that. It prevents a litigant having his case finally settled, because if he be not satisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland, all he has got to do is to give notice of appeal, and nothing more can be done. He has a right to go to the House of Lords, and if one of the steps is taken away, that litigation is kept in being. Therefore, justice is impeded, and it may be months before a decision can be arrived at by a man who is not satisfied with the decision of the Northern Court of Appeal. He gives notice of appeal, but he cannot be heard, because there is no possibility of having this Irish Court of Appeal created, and he is stopped on his way to the House of Lords, and, in the meantime, the case is not settled. That is a very serious disability to place upon the citizens of any country, and I do hope the Colonial Secretary will give us some reason why he should not accept the Amendment. He says the parties in question are in agreement. Then surely, if this House is to have any voice at all, and is not to be treated simply as a debating shop, it ought to be given some reason why an absolutely reasonable Amendment should be rejected.
Mr. J. JONES:
There are others be sides the hon. Members from Ulster who are interested in the future of Ireland. Those of us Irishmen who live in England ought to be entitled to say something on a matter of this character. This Amendment is part of the machinery, or deals at least with a part of the machinery, of the future Government of Ireland. Under the Agreement recently arrived at, and announced here last night, I suggest that the very matter which is being so vehemently discussed is one of the very questions which ought to be dealt with by the people in authority in Ireland, both North and South. Why should not the men in the North of Ireland co-operate with the men in the South in settling their differences and difficulties? What is there essentially different between us? It is now simply a number of lawyers arguing and trying to create difficulties. By the Amendments which have been put upon the Paper, the fact may be seen that that spirit is not going to die so long as some Members live. I suggest that the men who met in London yesterday, and the day before—and Sir James Craig was one of them—will be able to adjust this matter as they have settled bigger difficulties than this question of the Court of Appeal. They have settled bigger problems, and I hope and believe, they can solve any other problem as soon as Irishmen are prepared to knock their heads together, [Laughter.] Yes, instead of knocking their heads together in another way as they have done for a long time. There is sufficient common sense amongst the men who represent both the North and the South of Ireland to solve a difficulty of this character. As an Irishman I object to the English Constitution inflicting their authority upon the people of Ireland, either the North or South. Consequently we oppose this Amendment.
I think hon. Members are entitled to know why the Government are not agreeing with this Amendment. It is not any obstructionism on their part; it is simply that if this Amendment were accepted the effect would be a technical alteration of the Treaty. The Act of 1920 set up this Court of Appeal. It is really a very small matter. It does not have the inconvenience some hon. Members have thought, namely, that litigants would be stopped in their course to the House of Lords, or that they would have one of the legs to the Court of Appeal knocked from under them. The Court of Appeal exists, and will exist until the Free State Constitution comes into operation. At that time, it is quite certain, this question will have to be dealt with. Talking of what happened at the Conference yesterday, I may say that Sir James, Craig would have preferred that this should be dealt with at this moment, but the exact argument I have stated to the House was put before him then, and he acquiesced in postponement. It is understood that there will have to be an alteration in the Court of Appeal, but the proper time to effect this is when the Constitution of the Free State comes up for consideration in this House. I hope that hon. Members will agree to this course. It is not obstructionist on the part of the Government that they refuse this, but it really is because we do not want to give the opponents of the Treaty any ground, however ridiculous, to say we have altered the Treaty.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us this: Is there any agreement in existence binding the representatives of the Irish Free State which will ensure a provision of this sort if we desire that it shall be put in?
The Constitution of the Free State will have to make provision for the judiciary of the Free State. Thus far there will have to be a change from the 1920 Act. What I said as to Sir James Craig was this, that he would have preferred it to have been dealt with in this Bill, but arguments were addressed to him yesterday, as I have addressed them to the House to-day, and I certainly understood that: he acquiesced in the proposal.
Would it not be possible, as soon as this Bill which we are now discussing is passed, for the Provisional Government to get rid of any Courts which at present exist if they like? As soon as this Bill is passed, has not the Provisional Government all the powers of Government until a Constitution is set up? If that be so, I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that they can do away the day after to-morrow, if this Bill becomes law to-day, with any Courts they like, and if that be so, how does the right hon. Gentleman tell us that this Court of Appeal set up by the 1920 Act will be in existence until the Constitution of the Free State is finally settled?
I was trying to explain just now to my hon. and learned Friend that there is no need for such a binding agreement, because the Constitution of the Free State must provide for the judiciary of the Free State. That will be an alteration of the 1920 Act judiciary, and consequently at the same time we shall have to deal with this matter.
I cannot say at this moment what the Constitution of the Free State will be that will be put before this House. If it alters this it will be leaving out this Court of Appeal. With regard to the other question, I do not understand that they will have power to alter the law in this matter; I do not really understand what my hon. and gallant Friend means.
Surely the Provisional Government between now and the time when the Constitution is settled have absolute power in Ireland I They can do away with any Department they like or substitute one Department for another. I understand that they have, as soon as this Bill is passed, the fullest possible powers of government which, of course, includes doing away with Departments which they think are superfluous or unnecessary, substituting one Court for another, or combining two Courts together.
Sir L. WORTH INGTON-EVANS:
No, no; my hon. and gallant Friend really must draw a distinction between administrative powers and the powers of the Law Courts, which, he knows, are not under the Executive of the day. These are established by Statute, and these Statutes will remain until the Free State has its powers under the Constitution, and is enabled to legislate for itself.
At the end of Sub-section (1) insert:
Provided further that it is hereby declared that the British Government does not seek under Article 10 or any other article of the said Agreement, to evade its just responsibilities to, and engagements with, public servants of His Majesty in Southern Ireland, and undertakes to continue responsible for payment of compensation or pension, as the case may be, to judges, officials, members of police forces, and other public servants on terms not less favourable than those provided for such public servants under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920.
I have to draw the attention of the House to this Amendment as being, in my opinion, one of privilege. It might be said that it is merely declaratory. I must, however, assume that it is effective. In so far as it has any effect, it must be to diminish the residuary part of the reserved taxes. Those are matters over which the other House has no control, and I must declare this Amendment to be one of privilege.
I submit that the language of the Amendment is only declaratory. It says:
It is hereby declared that the British Government does not seek under Article 10, or any other Article of the said Agreement, to evade its just responsibilities.
In my view this is only declaratory, and no change is being made.
Assuming this is a privilege Amendment, it is always open to us to waive our privilege, and I understand that can only be done after Debate. Therefore I would suggest that it would be proper that we should be allowed to debate this Amendment, and move to agree with it.
I hope the Colonial Secretary will give further consideration to this Amendment, and if he cannot accept it as it is worded, I trust he will bring up other words to deal with this matter. It was admitted in the other place that the wording was not ideal, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to waive our privilege. Let us consider who these men are who are dealt with in this Amendment. They are public servants in Ireland who for years past have been putting down what used to be considered crime, but which, owing to its success, has been condoned. There is not any change in human nature owing to this artificial and newer definition of crime, and the people with whom they have dealt, in some cases will undoubtedly have very strong feelings against- those who were formerly engaged in the maintenance of law and order.
I am not suggesting that the present Provisional Government are not entirely honest in their desire to do what is right to these public servants, but we do not know how long it is going to last. There may be civil war in Ireland, and therefore we must see that those who have served the Irish nation in the past are not left without anyone to pay the pensions which they are entitled to receive. We do not want to relieve the Irish Government of its liabilities, but we want to protect these men in Ireland, who may have few friends in the future, by giving them the powerful assistance of the British Government to get their rights considered. Article 10 of the Agreement deals only with the men who are discharged by the Government or who retire in consequence of the change of Government effected in pursuance hereof. The majority of Irish civil servants are not covered by that provision in any shape or form.
The Act of 1920 deals with different classes in different ways. Civil servants were not entitled to go of their own free will and they could only retire under the Act for the statutory conditions which will be found in Schedule B under which a Committee is set up, and they were only allowed to let civil servants retire if they could show that their duties under the new Government were not the same or analogous to the duties previously performed or that their position was materially altered. As regards the majority of civil servants under that provision, they will not be entitled to retire, and personally I think it is most desirable that they should stay on, because it is the best hope of avoiding chaos that these men should stop on and help the new Government to get things started. Surely we must have some provision for the men who retire in the future, and who are left out entirely by the wording of Clause 10.
I asked a few weeks ago when the Government would re-enact the provisions of the 1920 Act, because there is nothing whatever laid down to secure that if these men stay on they are to get the pensions in consideration of which they undertook their service. I think it is absolutely unjust to the civil servant if A makes a contract with B to transfer his obligation to a third party without the consent of B. Whatever may be the position of the Government, it is absolutely imperative that they should admit only what is common honesty between one man and another. After 10 years, if one of these civil servants retires, how is he to bring himself under Clause 10? How is he to prove he is retiring in pursuance of this agreement in consequence of the change of Government affecting him? He will have no means whatever of enforcing his claim. The Government have told us again to-day that they accept full ultimate responsibility. What is their objection to saying so in this Bill and to making it absolutely plain? Personal assurances by Ministers are nothing like so valuable to the civil servant as a claim based on statute. Ministerial pledges often are binding only while Ministers remain in office. They cannot control their successors. The right hon. Gentleman has practically admitted, at any rate he has led us to infer, that this guarantee is of much more value if it rests on ministerial responsibility than if embodied in the Treaty. It was practically said in another place that if you put this in you are removing the liability from the Irish Government; that in other words, the ministerial bond is worth nothing. I only want to see the contingent liability remain on the British Government. Either the ministerial pledge is binding or it is not. If it is binding then the argument about removing the obligation from the Free State Government falls to the ground, and there should be no possible difficulty involved in putting the matter clearly in the Bill. If, however, this contingent liability is not binding, and if these men who do not go immediately as a result of the setting up of the Irish Government, are as a consequence to have no claim, then I think this House will be perpetrating a very great injustice. These men served both Ireland and Great Britain to the best of their ability. They have served the country well and have not even grudged their lives in its cause. I beg the right hon. Gentleman, if he cannot accept these words, to bring, up some other form of words as an alternative to deal with these very hard cases.
I cannot, on behalf of the Government, agree to waive this question of privilege. Neither can I accept the kind of language in which this Amendment is couched. If the Irish Government undertakes this obligation, I cannot agree to cast such a slur upon them as to assume beforehand, in legislative form, that they are going to fail in keeping their agreement. I think it would be most undesirable to take such a course. It would be accepted as a statutory indi- cation to them to shelve the burden and to pass it on to us. I am advisel it is most undesirable we should take the course proposed, and I shall certainly oppose the Amendment. At the same time, I take this opportunity of renewing what we have repeatedly said on behalf of His Majesty's Government, namely, that in the event of default on the part of the Irish Government, the British Government accepts full responsibility for the liability which is prescribed in the present legislation. What is that liability? It is the liability laid down in the Act of 1920. My hon. Friend asks: "Suppose a man does not retire now, but takes service under the new Government, and then finds things are not as he thought they would be, and as his position is very disagreeable he would prefer to leave the service, what will be his position?" During a period of seven years he will have a chance of retiring. It seems to me that that ought to be sufficient. I hope the Committee will not press me in this matter, either on the ground of privilege or on the merits of the case.
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that this provision as to the term of seven years only applies to men who can show that their conditions of service have been changed? They have no right to go in the seven years unless they can comply with that condition. I think the right hon. Gentleman really ought to show us that there is some provision for these men who do not retire in consequence of the change of Government, but go on to the end of their period of service, and there ought to be some provision securing their pension if they retire under the age limit.
I submit to the House that this point is a much bigger one than has been suggested by the Colonial Secretary. It is not merely a question of default on the part of the Provisional Government. I hope and expect there will be no default. We do not want to weaken the responsibility of the Provisional Government. We want them to pay. We do not want this country to be again in the position which it has so often been in in the past of having to pay Irish liabilities. We all want to make the Free State the first party to pay, and I am sure the House also desires that no injustice should be done to these men. There is a real danger in their ease. As to the question of guarantee, I will leave that on one side for the moment. My point is really wider than that. By Clause 10 of the Treaty the Free State agrees to pay compensation to her public servants who leave, or are discharged, or retire in consequence of the change of Government. To get compensation the civil servant must either be discharged or must retire in consequence of the change of Government. The compensation is based on the Act of 1920, which expressly lays down the terms on which civil servants are to receive compensation. It sets up a Committee who are to control retirement of civil servants, and in Clause 3 of Schedule 8 of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, it is expressly stated that the Committee shall not give their permission to an officer to retire unless he falls within one of two categories—either he has been asked to withdraw, or has been given different work or different pay. What the House desires is that when the new Constitution comes into force existing civil servants shall be given a free choice either to go and get compensation, or to throw in their lot with the Irish Free State. If they throw in their lot with the Irish Free State, I am inclined to think that this House has no further obligation towards them. If they choose to serve the Irish Free State and not to take their compensation and go, I do not think that the British taxpayer ought to compensate them. But those who want to go ought to have a free choice to go, and they have not got that free choice, because they have to prove either that their work is different or that the terms of employment are different, whereas their real reason for going is that they do not like their employers.
I may be wrong, and, if so, I am open to correction, but, as far as I can read the Eight Schedule of the Act of 1920, they cannot go simply because they do not like serving the Irish Free State. I can see no Clause in the Treaty or in the Act of 1920 which gives them the right to retire just because they do not like employment under the Irish Free State. They have, to go within the very narrow bounds of people who are given different work or whose conditions of employment are changed. The whole thing is so enormously important that unless we do something of this sort we may leave out the vast majority of the civil servants of the Irish Free State who want to go and yet to find that they cannot go. I am quite sure that the House does not want that. I believe that we all mean the same thing, and the Colonial Secretary has expressly said that this is not an Amendment which infringes the Treaty. I do not like the exact words of it. I think that they are too bellicose, but, if he would accept alternative words, I believe that the Amendment, would meet with the general acceptance of all parties in the House.
I think the case made is an exceedingly strong one, and I understand that the difficulty of the Government in accepting these precise words is partly on the ground of privilege and partly on the ground that the words are not very well framed for insertion in an Act of Parliament. There is this to be said, that the words do give a definite legislative security for all that the Act of 1920 gives, including the rights under the Superannuation Act, 1892, and do place the civil servants in the position of security to which the custom of this country entitles them. The Government may perfectly well meet the position. It they choose, they can meet it. I agree that, as a matter of form, we should have to disagree with this Amendment, but there is nothing to prevent another Amendment being moved and put in by the Government themselves in lieu thereof. There is no great reason why we should be in a violent hurry about the matter, and it might be necessary to adjourn. This is a matter that the Government ought to deal with legislatively if they can. They ought either to put it in this measure or give us a promise that it will be put in the Constitution Bill. We do not know, but the present Ministers may be out of office. It would be unreasonable to hold their successors bound in honour by their pledges, and, if the Government were not in office, there would be no security at all unless we had some legislative security. They ought, therefore, either to put it in this Bill or in the Constitution Bill, and it might be put in proper form and with all the details that belong to the Act of 1920. I hope that the Government will not be deaf to our appeal that deals with a matter very deeply felt on all sides of the House.
I should like to reinforce the appeal made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness). I imagine hon. Members' post bags, like mine, include a vast number of letters from civil servants in Ireland of all sorts and grades who want to know how they are going to stand. I do not want, any more than anybody else in this House, to cast any slur in any way on the Provisional Government. That argument addressed to us by the Colonial Secretary was addressed to those in another place by the Lord Chancellor. We are told, on the one hand, how foolish we are to do anything that might be interpreted as a slur upon the Provisional Government, and, on the other hand, we are told that we are pointing out how that Provisional Government might evade their obligations and saddle this Government with these pensions. We are met to-day in the spirit of goodwill which has resulted in the truce, but we cannot shut our eyes to an obvious thing which the House seems in danger of forgetting. As a matter of fact, we are not giving the South of Ireland Parliament Dominion powers. We are doing something quite different. We are making a Treaty with a country which aims at independence, and says so openly. Our position is not that of granting Dominion rule as we did to Canada. We are in the same position now as when England conceded the Treaty to the United States of America a good many years ago. If hon. Members in this House read Irish newspapers, they will know perfectly well that the Government are always referred to as the "enemy Government." It is not the "British Government," but the "enemy Government." If that be the spirit of the Irish Free State Government or some future Government, because the Irish Free State Government may not last very long, they may regard the position of these civil servants as ex-servants of an ex-enemy Government. Surely, we ought to take every precaution that we can to protect these loyal servants of ours. I would like to read a few of the letters that I have received from these men who are afraid and who despair of their future. In the Act of 1920 their position was very fully safeguarded. There was Clause after Clause dealing with their position. In the present Treaty they are dismissed in a few lines. Naturally, their suspicions are aroused. They want to know whether the Government stand by the Act of 1920, and, if they do, why they do not say so. If the Government cannot accept this Amendment, I do urge that they should put in some words which will ensure the position of these loyal servants.
I should like to join with certain hon. Members in the tribute which they have paid to the Colonial Secretary for the ability and reasonableness with which he has conducted these Debates. May I suggest that he has an opportunity of illustrating that ability and reasonableness upon which he has been complimented by accepting the Lords Amendment, which he can do with general assent. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Well, with the assent, I hope, of the majority. At any rate, he can satisfy his own conscience. Let me suggest some reasons to him. In the first place, this Amendment does not touch the Treaty in any way. That is admitted, so that the great difficulty that we had on the last occasion when this Treaty Bill was being discussed, namely, that we should be (smashing the Treaty, does not arise now. Therefore, we can approach this matter with what I would venture to call an open mind. Why is this guarantee for the pensions and compensation of Irish public servants necessary? These officials have served this country with devotion, and, as regards the police, the Colonial Secretary will agree that they have served with courage and discipline, and have earned the gratitude of this country for the services they have rendered to it. Under the existing conditions, we are bound by a statutory obligation to pay them pensions and, in certain cases, compensation. We have no right, and I hope we have no desire, to try to get out of this obligation.
May I say, too, that this is a very large question) It affects tens of thousands of men who have most loyally served this country in the past, so that it is not some trifling thing that you can throw aside. It is a question affecting our honour and our obligation to tens of thousands of our public servants. Do not let us forget, also, that for the men who have served us best the danger is greatest, and that, in the case of the Royal Irish Constabulary in particular, those men, who have most loyally and courageously served this country, are not likely to be favourably received in Ireland in the future. Therefore, it is an obligation of honour on this country to see that they are paid the compensation and pensions to which they are entitled. The Government say, "We agree with you, and so convinced are we of that that we will guarantee the payment of these pensions and compensation;" but all that they do is to give us a verbal guarantee. They object to putting it in the Act of Parliament. I should like to ask the Chief Secretary this question. Is it intended that this verbal guarantee, which has been given over and over again, that the British Government will pay if the Irish State Government do not pay, should be put into an Act of Parliament, if not now, at some future time? I do not know whether the Chief Secretary can answer that, but it would vitally affect the matter if he could answer it now. If he is not in a position to do so, I hope he will find out and tell us later.
Let me point to the importance of this. If it is to be put into an Act of Parliament later on, we ought to know into what Act it will be put, and if it is to be put into an Act of Parliament, why should it not be put in now, when we have the matter before us? Why should we, wait until some remote future? As has already been mentioned on former Amendments, it is by no means certain that the right hon. Gentleman who now sits upon and adorns the Government Bench will be there when the time comes for the passing of that future Act of Parliament. Will he give us any reason why, now that we have the matter in hand, and while it is admittedly, as I venture to think, subject matter for an Act of Parliament, it should not be put into this Measure? I hope my right hon. Friend will enlighten us on this point, because we ought not to be left in the dark as to what is to be done. He may say, "Oh, be quite content with the verbal guarantee you have got. It is quite enough, and it is not necessary to put it into any Act of Parliament." But would that really be a sound position? Is a verbal guarantee by a Minister sufficient to ensure the payment of moneys in the future? Of course, we know it is nothing of the kind.
I am not discussing whether they are my friends or not at the moment, and the hon. Member's interruption is really not relevant. I am talking about the position of Members of the House generally. Are we to understand that a promise made by a Minister as to the payment of money is really binding on all future Parliaments? Of course it is not. My right hon. Friend might pledge himself to bring the matter before Parliament, or to bring forward a Bill, but the pledge itself is absolutely worthless. If the pledge is worthless, why cannot my right hon. Friend make it worth something now? He has the opportunity of making it valuable; why cannot he do so now? My last word is with reference to something which fell from the Colonial Secretary. He says, "I do not want to put a slur upon the new Irish Government by suggesting that they may not meet their obligations." Of course, none of us want to do that. But what we want to know is this: If it is not putting a slur upon them to give a verbal guarantee that the British Government will pay if the Sinn Fein Government do not pay, why should it be putting a slur on them to import that verbal guarantee into an Act of Parliament I In other words, do I understand that, if you say verbally that the British Government will pay these pensions if the Sinn Fein Government make default, it is no slur at all; but that, once you put a Clause into an Act of Parliament saying precisely the same thing, but putting it into a form in which it is binding and of some value to the people who are going to get the payment, it is a slur I Surely the thing is ridiculous. If that be the only argument that can be used against this Amendment, I do not think anyone would accept that argument. I sincerely urge the Government to accept this Amendment, I do not say in the words in which it is now put forward—they may be able to find better words—but either to accept it in the form in which it is, or' to wipe out the Lords Amendment and put the guarantee which has been given verbally into a proper form, in which it would be a really effective instrument. Either of these alternatives we should be prepared to accept.
I hesitate to say even a word upon this matter, and I have always been surprised at the web of words that hon. Members can weave over a matter which in itself is really simple. It has been decided from the Chair that this is a breach of the privilege of this House, inasmuch as this House is the deciding financial authority, and the Motion, accordingly, has been made, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords Amendment." Do we or do we not?' If we do not disagree with the Lords Amendment, we are in this matter taking on a very heavy responsibility, the nature of which is entirely undefined. Let us look at the words themselves. Of course one must admit that it is permissible to debate the matter with the desire to induce the Government to waive the question of privilege, but let us look at the kind of responsibilities that we are called upon to undertake. There are two kinds of definition, neither of which is complete. We are called upon to make a declaration that we will not evade our "just responsibilities." Will anyone in this House, or anyone outside, say what are our "just responsibilities" to a particular class of public servants? The whole thing is incapable of definition. Our just responsibilities to these people who are mentioned here are incapable of definition. Later there is a further phrase—"and engagements." That is coming within the area of some thing like positive definition. Yon know what an engagement is in the ordinary way. An engagement is put down in black and white and, having regard to the honour of the contracting parties, there is a real chance of carrying out their engagements with the other party. I defy anyone in the House to say what are "just responsibilities" or what class of servants could be brought within the most comprehensive terms used here. "Payment of compensation or pension as the case may be to judges"—we know who they are—"officials"—that is a very indefinite term—"members of police forces." What particular police forces? There is, first of all, the Royal Irish Constabulary, against which I have never heard a word said in my life. The only terms I have ever heard used in connection with that magnificent force are terms of the greatest possible admiration. We know who they are, but do we know who the rest are? We have heard of police forces which have not deserved the admiration that has been almost invariably given to the Royal Irish Constabulary. Does it mean that this House can be called upon to pay compensation to them whenever they retire, actuated only by their own caprice? Certainly not. How could it do that? "Any other public servants." Would anyone tell me what is meant by the term, "other public servants?" It is not civil servants. We know who the civil servants are, we know the conditions of their employment, we know the years they have given to qualify themselves for their profession, we know definitely that there can be no doubt about the terms of their employment, and we know it is a point of honour to stand true to the conditions of their service and see that if they retire, because of the conditions being wholly unacceptable, or if they are discharged because of conditions which we need not specially define, because a new Government has come in with which they do not feel a political fellowship, they are entitled to their proper compensation or pension, as the case may be. But will anyone say what is meant by, "other public servants?" Even if it were not a question of privilege this Amendment could not possibly be accepted. But it is a question of privilege.
Let me go a little further. "On terms not less favourable than those provided under the Government of Ireland Act, 1920." We have to accept, the decision of the Speaker, but even if the Speaker had not given the decision that it is a question of privilege, when another place says to this House that we must enter into an obligation not lees favourable than particular terms already in existence, will any Member of the House say that the other place is not binding the action of this House? It may be a very good thing in itself. It may be a very proper thing to see to-day that your servants in future are treated not less favourably than they have been treated in the past. I will not say a word against the morality of that, but that the other House is in that sense limiting the freedom of this House, if this Amendment is accepted, upon financial matters surely no man in his senses can deny. The Government, in the exercise of its wisdom, might say, let the House vote out the assertion of its privilege, and because of the utterly indefensible nature of the terms of the Amendment, first of all because it is in conflict with the liberties of this House, and secondly, because the terms may mean anything or nothing, and submit an Amendment on its own, because we can do it within the limits of our proper authority, though we will not allow any other House to compel us to it, that is a matter entirely for the Government, backed up by the authority of this House. Every one of us desires, I am quite sure, to see that sense of security given to public servants which ought never to be; invalidated, but this is not the way to do it and this is a breach of the privilege of this House. I hope the Government will not in any sense be beguiled into retreating from their present position.
I agree, but the Government have moved that this House doth disagree with this Amendment, and I say they are right on the point of privilege. They are right also on the point of procedure, because this Amendment would not really carry out what I am sure hon. Members themselves desire. You are bringing in an enormous area of people whom we have no right to bring in. The whole thing is so utterly vague. "Other public servants." Can anyone define that? "The responsibility we have entered into." Can anyone define that? "Engagement" is quite capable of something like, exact definition, but the other terms are so wide and so vague and so comprehensive that the whole of Ireland might very well be brought in. That is not the kind of Amendment the House ought to accept. The Government, after defeating the Amendment, care to bring in on their own authority and with the backing, of the House—?
—an Amendment which would really meet the honourable engagement we have definitely entered into but did not widen it. Hon. Members are entitled to debate the matter in the hope of getting the Government to waive; the question of privilege or to offer opposition to the Amendment, but the Amendment would not carry out what the House desires.
I beg to move, in lieu of the Lords Amendment disagreed with, at the end of Sub-section (1) to insert:
Provided always that nothing in the said Agreement shall either increase or diminish the obligation of the British Government to public servants in respect of pensions or compensation.
I think that wording will get over the difficulty which has been so well put by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh). The Amendment we have just rejected was obviously badly drafted. It gave us no indication as to who was covered, and a lot of people with no claims might come in. My Amendment is really declaratory of present obligations. It would not allow the claim of anyone who was not already entitled to receive compensation or a pension. I think there is greater need for Such an Amendment than I even realised when I opposed the disagreement with the principle of the Lords Amendment, because since then we have been told by the Colonial Secretary that all public servants in Ireland will be entitled to go, under the terms of the 1920 Act, because the conditions of their service have been changed owing to the Free State being brought into being and new conditions of service thereby being imposed. That will mean that unless you do something to allay the fears of the public servants they will all have to go within the next seven years and you will be confronted with this position, that this new Government, on top of all its other difficulties, will have to improvise from inexperienced elements an entirely new Civil Service. In the cause of Irish peace that is a disastrous policy.
We must, after taking away the just responsibility of the Southern Parliament, make it possible for these Civil Servants to go on doing their best for the country with the knowledge that if, at the end of their time, having loyally done their work, the authorities in the South do not pay the pensions, then that contract which they originally received from the hands of this Government will be carried out by this Parliament. This proposal would in no way hamper the Government in making arrangements for the Free State Parliament to carry out the contractual obligations which these civil servants possess. That is the fair way in which compensations and pensions ought to be met. I do not believe that in accepting this Amendment we run any risk. It is unthinkable that Ireland can ever be economically so independent of this country that, even if she has no direct financial responsibility to this country, we shall not be able to enforce reasonable treatment of these civil servants. In view of the importance of keeping a contented and experienced body of civil servants to help the Provisional Government in the early years of its existence, we must accept some declaration of this kind to allay their very natural alarm.
I beg to second the Amendment.
When I spoke on the original Lords Amendment I was told by the Secretary of State for the Colonies that all members of the Civil Service could retire, as soon as the Treaty was enforced, on the ground that they did not care to serve the Free State. That answered my first objection. But my second objection, as to the guarantee of this country in the case of default by the Free State, still remained. I feel oppressed by the weighty obligation that we bear towards these civil servants. They have had a very difficult time. Often they have risked their lives, and it is quite possible—I hope it will not happen—that the Free State may not pension or compensate them in so ample a way as the Treaty contemplates. The Amendment would not increase the charge-It is merely declaratory. Supposing the civil servants feel that their future is uncertain and that the arrangements which the Free State will make are neither generous nor reliable, they will all go in a body, and that would place the Free State in a very difficult position. We all agree that if the Free State does not act up to the limit of its obligations, we have to pay. I think we shall be able to extract it in some other way from the Free State. Should we have to pay, we had better say so frankly and openly, and tell these men that the obligation which we undertook under the Act of 1920 is still a binding obligation, and is not the least diminished by Article 10 of the Treaty. So, for all reasons, from the point of view of fair treatment, from the point of view of our own financial obligations and the importance of getting over these difficulties, and, lastly, from the point of view of the Free State, I appeal to the House to support the Amendment.
I rise merely to invite the Government to make some reply. This alternative Amendment is in the nature of an assertion of the rights of civil servants, so that they shall not be invaded by what we are doing. On the merits, I gather that the Government are thoroughly in agreement with the proposal. They do not deny that civil servants have an absolute claim that their position shall not be worsened by this Bill. The only question is whether it is better to do it now or to rely upon a hearing of the claim at a later period. The Government have not, so far, told us what that later period is to be. They gave a pledge. We cannot say too clearly that the Government are absolutely pledged in honour, and so far as it is in their power they pledged their successors, that every civil servant, every public employé in Ireland, was to be no worse off by reason of the passing of this Bill. But the Government did not tell us how they are to implement that pledge if the occasion should arise. They do not say they are going to put it into the Constitution. That would be a very great concession which they might well make. They do not tell us that they will deal with it by a separate Bill. If they do not put it into the Constitution or deal with it in a separate Bill, it is clear that the civil servants will be in the position that the moment the Government go out of office they will have only this degree of security—the degree of obligation that the succeeding Government may feel for the undertaking into which this Government entered. Surely that is not treating public officials fairly.
Let us suppose that when the Constitution is set up in Ireland Mr. Collins and his colleagues are backed by a small majority. Let us suppose that then some controversy arises within two or three months, in which Mr. Collins is obliged to take an unpopular line. We will suppose that he is turned out of office and that the extreme Republican party come in. That party might be pledged to the revolutionary policy of making the position in Ireland impossible. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that this is not impossible. It is possible, and what would be the position in such circumstances of public officials under a Government, Republican in intention and in power I They would be exposed to all the public ignominy attaching to the operation of crime and outrage, with nobody but Mr. De Valera, perhaps, to take their part. I am sure the Government will agree that that would not be treating them fairly. They would come back to this House and say, "We cannot get on, and we want our rights under the Act of 1920." It may be that when they do so there will be a Labour Government in power. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Well, misfortunes never come singly, and if the extremist party succeed in Ireland, it is not impossible that the Labour party may succeed here. Supposing a Labour Government to exist, they will take a different view from that of the present Government. They have always believed in trusting the Irish people, and that sentiment, amiable as it is, may prove a very unsound foundation for the security of the civil servants. We are not treating people fairly if we take away from them legislative security, and do not give them another legislative security in its place. I earnestly press on the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment, or to give some unqualified and definite assurance that the Constitution will not come into force without some legislative security, keeping these people in the same position and giving them the same rights as they have to-day.
I understood from the hon. and gallant Member for Durham (Major Hills) that the Colonial Secretary had assured him that in the event of these people retiring at once, then the ordinary obligations entered into by the Government would be carried out. I should like to draw his attention to the Eighth Schedule of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, paragraph 3, which contains the following:
The Civil Service Committee shall not give their permission under this Schedule to an officer who retires unless that officer shows to the satisfaction of the Committee
It seems to me that provision in the 1920 Act overrides the undertaking given by the Colonial Secretary.
The hon. and gallant Member says it was only verbally given to him, but I am quite sure that the Colonial Secretary would carry out, or endeavour to carry out, any undertaking of that kind given either to my hon. and gallant Friend or anybody else in the House. I am afraid, however, he has overlooked this provision in the Act of 1920 and that it may not be in his power to carry out the undertaking, or it may not be in the power of another Government who have not given the pledge, to carry it out. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to give this point his attention.
This Amendment provides against a real difficulty which will probably arise. We have heard that civil servants will be entitled to retire on their present pension rates, immediately, or very soon after the Bill is passed. It is quite clear also, that there is a considerable doubt as to the future prospects if they are to go on for a number of years under the new order of things. Speaking with some knowledge of the opinions of the people concerned, it seems to me that those civil servants who are anywhere near the conclusion of their service, will take advantage of the opportunity to retire and to ensure the allowances that now belong to them rather than to run a risk, for this small increase of those allowances which would accrue after a certain number of years of further service. If that eventuates and the senior and more experienced members of all Departments take advantage of their right to retire on the pensions that will now accrue to them, the new Government will be in a position of great difficulty in having lost their most experienced advisers from the permanent service of the country. That difficulty deserves very serious attention and should appeal to the Government which it is intended to set up in Southern Ireland.
Mr. J. JONES:
The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) referred to the possibility of a Labour Government coming into power and the terrible eventuality that would arise therefrom as regards the civil servants. Evidently, although the Noble Lord is an intellectual genius and a great ornament to this House, he does not know much about the Labour party's record in the matter of the civil servants. No party stands by the rights of public servants more than the Labour party and no party is more prepared to assist them when they are in difficulties or dangers. I congratulate hon. Members who have so ably put their case to-day, and while I congratulate those hon. Members upon their sympathy with and support of the civil servants in Ireland, I wish I could congratulate them on the same amount of support for the workers of Ireland and of England too. May I remind them that there are more than civil servants running possible risks? In my opinion the risks will not arise in regard to the civil servants of their being discharged by the Government of Southern Ireland because of political differences with that Government. I have sufficient confidence in the men at the head of affairs in Ireland to believe that they will honourably carry out the bargains which they have made with the British Government and the Government of Northern Ireland. Very few civil servants will find themselves in a position such as is feared by hon. Members supporting the Amendment. At the same time the Labour party are prepared to give all the necessary guarantees that these men shall not find themselves placed in a false position or in a bad economic position as a consequence of any action that may be taken in the future.
May I remind hon. Members, however, that there are over 5,000 men who for over 12 months have been thrown out of good employment because of their religious and political opinions? Is there not going to be any attempt made to get 'them some compensation I Hon. Gentlemen opposite who have spoken on this Amendment are, in the main, supporters of the Government of Northern Ireland. Can they not bring some influence to bear upon that Government, with which they have such influence, to get something done for these men who have been thrown out of employment. Some of them were men earning good salaries—foreman shipwrights, and foreman boiler-makers and first-class mechanics, and they have now been out of work for nearly two years, because their political and religious opinions were not the same as those of the friends of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The work was provided for them, the firms are willing to take them back, but the others refused to allow them to go back because of their opinions. Are hon. Gentlemen prepared to help in this matter?
I thank you very much, Sir. I know I am generally out of order. I know I am a fool—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—and there are others who do not know it. Some people try to take advantage of me in that particular. There is the Noble Lord the Member for South Battersea (Viscount Curzon), who always keeps on at me. I am going to keep on hitting back at him. I am not asking for any favours, I am asking only for justice," and if the civil servants in the South of Ireland are to receive compensation because of a possible danger they may have to face, surely I am right in asking that the workmen of the North of Ireland who, in many cases, were in equally good positions, should have the same consideration, and that hon. Members who are moving this Amendment should use their influence with their Government in the North of Ireland to see that these people get justice dealt out to them in consequence of the sufferings they have undergone.
The whole House is agreed that the public servants mentioned in Articles 9 and 10 of the Agreement, and in the Lords Amendment with which the House is dealing, and the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman for Bury St. Edmunds (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness), should receive the best possible treatment. All are agreed that the terms applicable to these public servants under the 1920 Act are fair terms, and that if those terms, at least, are carried out, no public servant in Ireland will have any just cause for complaint. I think the whole House is agreed upon that. It is a debt of honour to these public servants that must be carried out, and pledges have been repeatedly made at this box that it will be carried out. I cannot imagine how anybody can have any doubt as to the efficacy of those pledges during the term of this Government, however short or however long, or during the terms of office of Governments that may succeed" it. The way the pledges and Article 10 of the Treaty are carried out is that all these public servants are referred to in detail in the Order in Council which will be submitted to His Majesty in Council immediately upon the passing of this Bill into an Act. That is the operating instrument that carries out the wishes of Parliament as stated in the Bill now before the House. I cannot read to the House the draft of the Order in Council, which has yet to be submitted to His Majesty in Council, but which is referred to in this Bill itself—I thought the House was hardly aware of it—but I am saying in answer to questions which have been raised, that the terms of the 1920 Act are incorporated and carried out in this Order in Council.
I should like to ask whether the Order in Council will refer in any way to civil servants, to whose case I have drawn attention, who do not retire during the next seven years, but who loyally abide by the terms of their engagement and go on and try to help the Free State Government? Will it secure their pensions and compensation as well?
It will secure them in so far as the Act of 1920 is incorporated, and it is incorporated in the Order in Council. I think what the hon. and gallant Gentleman is dealing with principally is the point of the guarantee after a period of seven years. If he will permit me, I will deal with that later. I do not say that I can deal with it satisfactorily to him, but I shall deal with it. The different civil servants and officials referred to in the Treaty have been dealt with, as I say, under the Order in Council. The Treaty itself guarantees that they will get treatment not less favorable than under the 1920 Act. That is carried forward into the Order in Council. In reference to one set of public servants in whom the House is particularly interested—the police—I think I ought to go into a little greater detail.
No, sir. All that I asked was whether this would deal with civil servants who remain on after the seven years. Would it give them the same rights under the Superannuation Acts, which are incorporated in the Act of 1920? I should like an answer on that, in view of what I was told by the Colonial Secretary—in conversation only it is true—that if men stay on beyond seven years it is reasonable to leave them to have recourse to the Free State Government and to that Government only. I want to know which account is the true one.
I do not think the Amendment goes beyond the Act of 1920, if I may say so with respect; but the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds may possibly go beyond it. I was speaking with reference to the Royal Irish Constabulary. That Force is being disbanded, and the pensions resulting from that disbandment will remain charges on the Votes of this House, at any rate in great part and primarily, so that as far as they are concerned there is no question about the House having control. The members of the Royal Irish Constabulary no longer remain members of any force or part of the Government of Ireland. I might say here, in parenthesis, to meet any argument that may be raised, that we are disbanding the force in Southern Ireland first, commencing to-day, and the force in Northern Ireland will be disbanded as soon as possible. Every member of that historic force will be disbanded and on pension on or before 31st May, To meet that case a Bill will be introduced into this House, on which the whole question can be raised.
I come now to what is, I think, the only outstanding point, the question of guarantee. As has been said again and again, the pledge of Ministers is considered by the Government to be sufficient guarantee that the pensions and all payments to these public servants in Ireland will be paid, if not by the Free State Government then by the Government that sits upon this Treasury Bench. Let me say that I know of no question that has been before the House in the present generation which has been supported so unanimously by the heads of all the parties in the House, and by the House generally. The suggestion that the undertaking given to-day would be cancelled by some succeeding Government is unreasonable. The Government cannot accept the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bury St. Edmunds. I think it would be a reflection upon the Free State Government and the Provisional Government; and at a critical time like this I decline absolutely to accept the suggestion that they intend to do otherwise than carry out—in letter and spirit—the obligations they undertook in the Treaty with His Majesty's Government. In regard to a point that has been raised by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Larmor) it is to the vital interest of Ireland that these public servants should remain, to contribute to that country their experience, which cannot be replaced or substituted for by any fresh set of men. I am glad to say I know of no case where a public servant of the Crown has been disgraced or unfairly treated by the Provisional Government of Ireland, and I do not anticipate other than the fairest treatment from these Governments in future. These men are almost without exception Irishmen. It is a great delusion to suppose that the Irish Civil Service, Judiciary, and Police, are composed of Englishmen, Welshmen and Scotsmen. It was a common suggestion in earlier times, when the amenities of debate were not so pleasant as they are to-day, that Ireland was overrun and oppressed by foreigners, namely, Englishmen, Welshmen, and Scotsmen. It never was true, and it is not true now.
Yes, I have been criticised on that score. The point is the overwhelming majority—I should say 99 per cent.—of the public servants referred to in the Treaty and the Amendment are Irishmen, who wish to remain in Ireland, and who are prepared to back the Government. The one branch of the service about which there was doubt—the Royal Irish Constabulary—are to be disbanded, and will be treated generously, and certainly better than under the Act of 1920. I submit a case has not been made out for this Amendment, and that, in the best interests of these public servants and the future government of Ireland, the matter should be left where it is.
The right hon. Gentleman has made two statements. In the first place he said we have no reason to suppose the Free State Government will go back on the obligations undertaken in the Treaty, and that to presume they would do so would be insulting. Of course it would. No one in his senses would make an insulting presumption of that kind. But they have undertaken no obligation of the kind referred to. They have undertaken an obligation towards civil servants who retire at the time of the change of government in Ireland, and in consequence of that change. They have undertaken no obligation in the Treaty as to what happens after that. In the second place the right hon. Gentleman has said that the word of Ministers recognising a debt of honour should be accepted. That has already been replied to, but there is a reply stronger than any yet made. It is this: We do not doubt the pledge of Ministers; but what are Ministers proposing to do by their word given in this House? They are proposing to substitute their word for an existing legal obligation. They are proposing to convert what is now a legal obligation into an obligation of honour. It is no reflection upon the honourableness of anybody to say, "I would rather have a legal contract, which I possess at the present moment, than exchange it for a mere honourable undertaking." What business man, having a contract, surrenders it in exchange for a mere promise? Surely it does not consort with the dignity of this House that what is an existing legislative enactment should in some way vaguely vanish and that we should be left to rely entirely on an Executive pledge. That, as I understand it, is the position. At the present moment civil servants have certain-rights granted by this House under the Superannuation Act and under the Act of 1920. These obligations have not hitherto all been transferred to the Provisional Government. If His Majesty's Government had a contract with the Provisional Government entirely transferring to the Provisional Government their obligation towards civil servants under these Acts, we might rest content. But they have no such contract, and what they are proposing to do is to renounce, or half renounce, their own obligations to civil servants, without having any contract with the third party to take over those obligations. Surely that is a position with which this House cannot agree. It is within the-legal power of this House to vary the terms of any Act giving compensation; but until the House has done that, we cannot allow to Ministers the discretion of giving to civil servants only their word of honour, and interpreting according to their own ideas of justice what at present is a legal enactment of this House. I sincerely hope the House will vote for the Amendment.
The Noble Lord who has just spoken has said what is common sense and common honesty. The position is this. Government and Parliament are under statutory obligation to pay our civil servants, and I do not under stand the contention of the Chief Secretary that this obligation should be wiped out and civil servants should consent to a verbal promise. The Chief Secretary did not offer one syllable of argument against the Amendment of my hon. and gallant Friend, but what he did say was that we should leave matters as they are. How are they? The condition at present is that the Government recognise that these obligations should be made good, but, they say, "Wipe out, or at any rate ignore, these statutory obligations and leave it to our verbal statement in this House that we shall carry these obliga- tions into effect." I think that is a most dangerous doctrine, and I am not at all sure how this verbal statement constitutionally operates. I am not at all sure whether it is binding upon a future Government. There have been instances, lamentable enough—I do not want to refer to them in any disagreeable sense—in which verbal pledges given by Ministers have not been honoured, even by themselves, and I want to know, as a constitutional matter, from the Government whether a verbal statement of that sort given by a Minister sitting as the representative of one party is necessarily binding at all upon his successor of another party or another Government.
I very much doubt it. Be that as it may, we do not want the rights of these old servants of the British Crown to rest on some constitutional ambiguity, on some verbal pledge given by a particular Minister which may or may not ever be honoured, and therefore I say that we should take the only course consistent with honour and common honesty and put into this Bill what my hon. and gallant Friend proposes, namely, that our statutory obligations to these men should not in any way be infringed by the Treaty.
|Division No. 71.]||AYES.||[3.10 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Larmor, Sir Joseph|
|Ammon, Charles George||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Glyn, Major Ralph||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Gretton, Colonel John||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquey)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Poison, Sir Thomas A.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hills, Major John Waller||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jameson, John Gordon|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Kennedy, Thomas||Lieut.-Colonel W. Guinness and Mr. Reid.|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hudson, R. M.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Cope, Major William||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Bagley, Captain E. Ashton||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Jesson, C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dawson, Sir Philip||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Devlin, Joseph||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Kellaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, George|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Barrand, A. R.||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)|
|Beck, Sir Arthur Cecil||Finney, Samuel||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Foot, Isaac||Lorden, John William|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Forestier-Walker, L.||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Forrest, Walter||Lyle, C. E. Leonard|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Frece, Sir Walter de||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Galbraith, Samuel||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Gardner, Ernest||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Gilbert, James Daniel||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Mills, John Edmund|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Mitchell, Sir William Lane|
|Bruton, Sir James||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Guest, J. (York, W.R., Hemsworth)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Haslam, Lewis||Myers, Thomas|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Neal, Arthur|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonal Frank||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Hogge, James Myles||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Chllcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.||Holmes, J. Stanley||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hood, Sir Joseph||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hopkins, John W. W.||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Parker, James||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Pllditch, Sir Philip||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Seddon, J. A.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Shaw, Hon. Alex, (Kilmarnock)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C.|
|Pratt, John William||Shortt, Rt. Hon E. (N'castle-on-T.)||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Purchase, H. G.||Simm, M. T.||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Rattan, Peter Wilson||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Winterton, Earl|
|Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Stewart, Gershom||Wise, Frederick|
|Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)||Sugden, W. H.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Richardson, Sir Alex, (Gravesend)||Sutherland, Sir William||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)|
|Robertson, John||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Rose, Frank H.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Tryon, Major George Clement||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr. McCurdy.|
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.
After Sub-section (2) insert as a new Subsection:
Any Order in Council made under this Act shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either of those Houses within twenty-one days on which that House has sat next after any such Order is laid before it praying that any such Order may be annulled, His Majesty may thereupon by Order in Council annul the same and the Order so annulled shall forthwith become void, but without prejudice to the validity of any proceedings which may in the meantime have been taken thereunder; and any Order in Council made under this Act shall, subject to the foregoing provisions of this Sub-section be of the same effect as if enacted in this Act, but may be revoked or amended by a subsequent Order in Council:
Provided that Orders in Council under this Act shall not be deemed to be statutory rules within the meaning of Section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893.
Before passing this, I should like to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies. I was delighted to hear he was going to accept this Amendment. But he said in his original speech that, although he accepted it, we must not take it for granted that he preferred it very much, and, as I understood him, he said that, although Orders in Council were to be laid on the Table of the House, that procedure might be ineffective. I should like to know what that means. Does it mean that we are going to lay these Orders on the Table of the House for them to be objected to by a majority of the, Members and then find that, after all, they have come into force under what is known as the Solemn Pact? It is very important we should know that before we pass this Amendment. May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that there was a very solemn pact, the Treaty of Peace, signed at Versailles. In that we have a similar Clause that all Orders in Council should be laid on the Table of this House, and no question was raised at that time that those Orders in Council were not to act like any other Orders in Council and be able to be disallowed. I, therefore, respectfully ask for some further explanation, which I think is required.
There really will be no difference in these Orders in Council and any other Orders in Council. I have been trying to deal frankly with the House, and I have pointed out that such Orders will have to be laid to-morrow, with a view to the transference of the powers immediately. If the Bill passes, and after to-morrow no provision is made for Irish finance, unless there is this Order in Council, Irish finance will be thrown into inexplicable confusion.
I think the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) should be reassured, anyhow. We have some control over these Orders in Council. Many of us put and suggested this same point before, that once we passed the Bill, the Government could do what they liked in respect to Orders in Council. But I did not rise for the purpose of discussing that, but to point out that my right hon. Friend has now accepted an Amendment which was moved and seconded on these benches. I seconded it, and the mover was the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). Perhaps the fact that he has joined the Government has changed their minds on this Amendment. Anyhow, I am extremely glad, for I do not in the least understand that there was any reason for refusing the Amendment. We have little enough control as it is of what will occur in the new Free State. Control rests with this House, and this House alone, and the House should make that control a real control over these Orders in Council.
The Colonial Secretary has pointed out that these Orders in Council transfer certain powers. If the House is to have any real control over these matters which are subject to Orders in Council the proper procedure is to lay them in draft on the Table of the House for 21 days before they receive the Royal Assent. The only objection to that course is the question of time. In dealing with the vast questions contemplated under this Bill surely a matter of 21 days will not affect the issue one way or the other.
May I point out that there is no legal provision for this after to-morrow. After that Irish finance will be on a different basis altogether, and unless this Order in Council is published to-morrow morning the whole of our business in relation to these transferred powers will be thrown into confusion.
I recognise the difficulty in which the Government are placed. We do not know what is payable to the Irish State. I will not discuss these matters now, and I only wish to enter a caveat as to the effect of this method of procedure by Orders in Council. If the House is to have any real control they should be laid in draft on the Table.
After Subsection (3) insert a new Subsection:
In order to give effect to an agreement as to the date from which the month mentioned in Article 11 of the said Articles of Agreement is to run, it is hereby declared that this Act shall not for the- purposes of the said Article 11 be deemed to be the Act for the ratification of the said Articles of Agreement.
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
I propose, in substitution, to move, after Sub-section (3), to insert as a new Sub-section these words:
This Act shall not be deemed to be the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the said Articles of Agreement, as from the passing whereof the month mentioned in Article 11 of the said Articles is to run.
This policy is agreed upon by all the signatories to the Agreement completed yesterday, and the actual words have also been agreed upon by those parties. In addition, they are the words which have been framed by the Attorney-General to give complete and absolute assurance to Ulster that no legal ground can be urged that their month runs other than from the passing of the second Act.
Amendment made, in lieu of Lords Amendment: After Sub-section (3), insert as a new Sub-section:
This Act shall not be deemed to be the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the said Articles of Agreement, as from the passing whereof the month mentioned in Article 11 of the said Articles is to run."—[Mr. Churchill.]