asked the Chief Secretary, in view of the fact that by the Act for the ratification of the Treaty the number of soldiers that can be raised by the Provisional Government is fixed in proportion to those employed by the Imperial Government, what steps have been taken by His Majesty's Government to ensure that this provision shall be observed; whether he will state what is the number of men at present on the strength of the Free State Army; and if he can say what is the form of oath taken by such recruits?
Strictly speaking, this question cannot arise under the Treaty until the Free State has been established, but so far as the forces of the Provisional Government are concerned, His Majesty's Government are satisfied that the intention of the Treaty has not been departed from.
I have said that I have no information in my possession as to the number of men at present on the strength of the Free State Army, and I do not know the form of oath taken by the recruits. I will endeavour to get this information, and as to the number of men at present on the strength of the Free State Army, I doubt very much whether it is in the public interest of the Provisional Government to make that statement of fact, even if it were in my possession.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say how he arrives at the conclusion that the Free State are keeping within the limits actually imposed with regard to the numbers if he does not know the numbers?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is not essential that the forces which are to be raised in Ireland should take some form of oath which would make them loyal to the King?
I cannot promise to answer the question as my hon. and gallant Friend has put it, but I will see what answer I can give to the two last parts of the question put by the hon Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gwynne) on another date.