Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £750,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, for a Grant-in-aid to the Government of Northern Ireland in respect of Compensation for Damages arising out of the disturbed condition of Ireland.
This is an Unclassified Service that I am submitting to the House. It is an Estimate for £750,000, and it represents payment of the first half of the sum of £1,500,000 which His Majesty's Government have undertaken to place at the disposal of the Government of Northern Ireland in order to assist that Government in the discharge of awards for compensation under the Malicious Injuries (Ireland) Act. The agreement to pay this money was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, subject, of course, to the approval of this House, on behalf of the British Government, and by Sir James Craig, on behalf of the Government of Northern Ireland. Under the agreement, the payment of the first half is due on the 1st June next, and the payment of the second half on the 1st June, 1923. Before the latter payment can be made, another Vote will require to be taken, as it will fall in the financial year 1923–24. May I remind the Committee that the question of this agreement and of this total grant was fully discussed by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on 24th February last in a comprehensive speech dealing with the question of compensation for malicious injuries to persons and to property both in Southern and in Northern Ireland? In pursuance of that speech and of the agreement with the Northern Government, I submit the present Estimate. I will very briefly make a statement as to the present position.
Under the Malicious Injuries (Ireland) Acts compensation for damages to person or property in either Southern or Northern Ireland ought, in the normal way, to be paid by the ratepayers of the local authority, on which a local compensation rate should be levied. In Southern Ireland, for various reasons, principally because of the breakdown of all local government machinery during the recent troubles, the local authorities not only did not pay for damages in their areas, but in the great majority, of cases they did not contest or defend the claims made upon them for such damages. In consequence of that state of things, the Commission which was promised on the 24th February last has since been set up, under the Right Hon. Lord Shaw, one of the Law Lords, with a representative of the Provisional Government and a representative of His Majesty's Government. They are beginning their work, under the Terms of Reference (which have already been presented to this House), this week in Ireland. Under the terms on which this Commission is set up, and which have been fully discussed at different times in the House, Lord Shaw and his colleagues have full powers to deal with all awards that have been made in reference to damage to property in Southern Ireland, except in regard to those which have been defended by the local authority, in which cases the Commission cannot, except to establish the identity of persons and minor matters of that kind, re-open the question of the amount. It means that, so far as these damages are concerned, the local ratepayer has been saved the expense that would fall upon him under the Malicious Injuries Acts in Southern Ireland. In answer to a question to-day, I was able to assure hon. Members interested in this question that, although the Commission commences its work in Dublin, I have no doubt it will lay down suitable procedure to meet the case of a witness or applicant, who feels that he may be exposed to danger if required to go to any part of Ireland, by which he may give his evidence or make his statement in some other suitable place. As there are a large number of hon. Members concerned on this point, I hope my statement will re-assure them.
In Northern Ireland all the local authorities regularly met the awards under the Malicious Injuries Acts that were made against them by the County Court Judges. Early, however, in 1921 representatives of the Northern area waited upon different Members of His Majesty's Government and pointed out that it was very unfair that they should be required to shoulder, as ratepayers, the cost of making good the very heavy damages resulting from the conflict in Northern Ireland, whereas it was perfectly clear that the ratepayers in Southern Ireland would not pay, and probably could not be compelled to pay, the damages in their part of Ireland. On the conclusion of the Treaty with the representatives of Southern Ireland, the point was taken up by the representatives of the Northern Government, and after conference and discussion His Majesty's Government, as set out on 24th February last by my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, agreed to pay, in full discharge of any alleged liability for damages in the Northern area, the sum of £1,500,000, half of it to be paid this year and half next year.
One hon. Member at a time. This is not the total damage in the Northern area, and I will give the figures to make it perfectly clear. The total estimated claims up to the 14th January—for this agreement was arrived at on the 14th January of this year and refers to damages up to that date—amounted to £4,600,000, the total awards from June, 1920, amounted to about £1,120,000, and the total claims then unheard just under £2,000,000. It would mean that the total awards against the local authorities in Northern Ireland would be something over £2,000,000. Towards that we are contributing by agreement £1,500,000, half payable this year and half payable next year. I hope that answers my hon. and gallant Friend's question.
I cannot say that, for this reason, that we make an agreement with the Northern Government, and they take this sum of money in the two moieties I have mentioned. They make the best terms they can with their own local authorities and the claims against the local authorities, and I do not know any way in which you can deal with a Government except through its members. We thought that was a satisfactory arrangement and one that absolved us—and that means this House—absolutely of all claims that might be made against us or that could be made against us up to the 14th January of this year. I do not think that I can say anything further on this particular point. The whole question of malicious injuries is perfectly familiar by this time, I should think, to every Member of the House, and the difference in the treatment between Southern and Northern Ireland, I think, was amply justified by the facts of the case. That difference in treatment has been made by agreement with the Southern Government and the Northern Government respectively.
I think the hon. and gallant Member has forgotten the Debate of the 24th February, in which he took a part. In reference to Southern Ireland, all personal injury awards are paid by the respective Governments, namely, the Provisional Government or the Imperial Government. As to property cases, damage done by the forces of the Crown will be paid, after the award has been settled by Lord Shaw's Commission, by the Crown—that is, by this Government—subject to confirmation by this House. Damage done by the sup- porters of Sinn Fein must be met by them. Let me make this perfectly clear. The difference is, that in the Northern area the local authorities have not refused to function and to meet the awards that were given by the County Court judges from time to time as the damage was proven and levied on the local areas. In Southern Ireland, namely, in the 20 counties, the local authorities did not function, and, therefore, it was impossible to make the same arrangement with the South as we made with the North. My best argument to the House is this: These two different systems of meeting claims were made after consultation with the heads of the respective Governments, and as they are satisfied, I think, in so far as the system is concerned, the House will be satisfied. As to the amount of £1,500,000, it was arrived at after a series of conferences between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland primarily, and it was considered that this was a fair amount for His Majesty's Government to contribute towards those damages.
Perhaps I can put my point quite clearly. What proportion of the total claims put forward in the South and the North, respectively, is being met by grants from British funds?
I could not give the hon. and gallant Member that for the South, because the exact amount of the awards cannot be fixed until Lord Shaw's Commission has completed its work. The only awards that have been fixed are those that were defended—a comparatively small sum. The main object of appointing the Commission was to deal with awards that were very possibly excessive because they had not been defended or contested in the local courts by the local authorities, who in the normal way, and as happened in Northern Ireland, would contest these claims in the interests of their own ratepayers. The local authorities not having contested them, the county court judge was compelled to go upon the claim of the applicant only, and we think that many of the awards so granted were excessive. Hence the right hon. and learned Judge has undertaken—very patriotically, I think—this very difficult and onerous work of trying to fix what is the right award to be given. Therefore I cannot give the hon. and gallant Gentleman the total amount that the Government will be asked to pay in reference to damages in Southern Ireland, but I can give him the total of what they will be asked to pay in reference to damages in Northern Ireland. That is contained in this Estimate of £750,000 and a similar Estimate that will be submitted next financial year. I hope I have made perfectly clear to the Committee the reason for this grant, and I hope also the Committee will grant it.
May I be permitted to clarify the obscurities of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, because, notwithstanding the somewhat pointed and intelligent interruptions which came from this side of the House, the right hon. Gentleman has pursued his usual tactics of trying to bluff us on this question. What really is the position in regard to this matter? During the conflict and troubles through which Ireland has passed during the last two or three years, considerable damage has been done to life and property. As part of the war, damage was clone by the combatants on the Sinn Fein side; as part of the peace, damage was done by the Black and Tans on the Government side; and the result is that the enormous expenditure in connection with all these criminal injuries has to be met. The Government of this country and the Provisional Government have come to an arrangement, which is that the Provisional Government will saddle themselves with the responsibility for all the expenditure in connection with criminal damages for which their followers were responsible, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of this country makes himself responsible for all the damage that was done by the officers of the British Government—by the military and police and Black and Tans.
That I consider to be a very fair arangement. It is a somewhat curious commentary upon the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman that he now admits, in the form of a financial contribution, how much damage was done by his agents in Ireland during that period; but I do not propose to go into that. One thing is clear—and it is the only thing that is clear in his speech—that he has made himself responsible for all the cost of damage done by the Government agents, that the Provisional Government have made themselves responsible for all the damage done by their supporters in Southern Ireland, and that the British Government is to pay £1,500,000 for damage done by the followers of the Northern Government. I think the Committee now understands that that is precisely the position. I have no objection to the Chancellor of the Exchequer granting £1,500,000, or £5,500,000, for this purpose, if English Members stand it. I take it that they do stand it. In fact, they stand it with so much patience that they run away from it to the smoking rooms and else where in this House, and all these anti wasters, these economists, and these gentlemen who, on all the platforms of England, have made the welkin ring about the gross and profligate expenditure of this Government—where are they now? But it is not my concern; I am not one of the watch-dogs of the British Treasury. I think there is not a single representative of the Treasury this afternoon on the Government Bench. Last night the Government allowed themselves to be defeated, rather than concede a legitimate claim made by the most efficient and useful branch of the public service in this island. They allowed themselves to he defeated on a question of £2,000,000, and yet here they are giving £1,500,000 to the Northern Parliament. As I say, it is no concern of mine; I do not care whether it is £5,000,000. It may be £5,000,000 before the right hon. Gentleman has done with it, but not one of these anti-wasters, not one of these economists, not one of these gentlemen, who, as I say, have been making the welkin ring about the expenditure of the British Government is here to take a stand against this expenditure.
The right hon. Gentleman laid down a dictum, which I do not accept. He said if the Provisional Government be satisfied in Southern Ireland, and the Northern Government be satisfied in Northern Ireland, then everybody ought to be satisfied. Well, I am not satisfied, and I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. I do not know of any greater cause for the degradation of our Parliamentary institutions, for the ruin of the constitutional spirit, which is disappearing day by day, and the universal despising of Parliament, than the way we Ulster Nationalist representatives have been treated in this House. The damage that has been done in Northern Ireland has been done mainly to constituents of mine. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] There have been 5,000 Catholic workers driven from their employment. How much of this money is to go to them, to compensate them for the long and weary travail through which they have passed? I do not know what the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir H. Wilson) is laughing at. After all, I was speaking—not he; therefore, I do not see what there was to laugh at. We are now in the Imperial Parliament. and not in North Down, where the hon. and gallant Member has not been a pioneer of Empire, but a pioneer of hatred for some time past. This may be a matter of merriment to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but it is not a matter of merriment to the humble toilers in the humble parts of Belfast, with the shadow of unemployment over them, with starvation at their door, with darkened hearths—these are the people who have been the sufferers of the war in Northern Ireland, and what will be their part of the contribution which this Parliament is making through an empty House of Commons to this Northern Government? My complaint is that those who represent the people, those who represent the minority in North-East Ulster, ought to have been consulted, but not one of them was ever consulted about this money, or about the method by which it was to be expended.
I come to the second consideration. In Southern Ireland there is to be a Commission set up to reconsider all these claims, and, finally, to make adjustments. Why is there not a Commission set up in Northern Ireland? In Northern Ireland we have 300,000 of a Catholic population. They have been victimized: they have been maltreated; they have been hunted from their employment; they have been denied the ordinary rights of citizenship, and many of them have lost all the property they had. I believe there are something like 200 shopkeepers who have had their premises burned down, who have never been allowed back in those places, and the right hon. Gentleman talks about the satisfaction that has been given by the judgments of the Recorder. I know of dozens of cases where men were making £1,000 a year, and they got an award of £1,500, and it was not immediately paid over, as the right hon. Gen-
tleman wanted to convey. It is to cover a period of five years, so that if a man's business has been destroyed he has no chance of establishing it again. He gets £300 a year for five years, and then everything disappears. And that is the compensation which the right hon. Gentleman says was so adequate and so satisfactory that it did not need reconsideration or supervision. May I read to the Committee one or two letters which I have received from some of these people? I will give the right hon. Gentleman these letters if he wants them. During the last 12 months I have showered letters on the right hon. Gentleman containing the most tragic accounts from these poor people of their conditions, and asking that something should be done. Here is one letter which I have received, amongst a number, which I can send to the right hon. Gentleman:
I trust you will pardon my taking the liberty of writing you, being one of your constituents, and appealing to you for advice. My occupation is a shipyard labourer. I was hunted from my works in July, 1920. The same night my arm was blown off by shots whilst standing at my own door. I was in hospital for 14 weeks, and when I came home I was told by my solicitor that I was too late to lodge a claim for compensation. We have been in great poverty. I have a wife and three children dependent on me for support, and I am disabled for life, through no fault of my own. I ask you, as an act of charity, to put my case before the proper authority, or to render me any assistance that lies in your power.
May I ask what relief is to be given to this man? Before what tribunal will he appear?
The hon. Gentleman appeals to me on the point. I am going to ask the House, on behalf of the Government, following an agreement between Mr. Collins and Sir James Craig at the Colonial Office on the 21st March last, for a Supplementary Estimate of £500,000 for relief work in Belfast, and every effort will be made to restore the expelled workmen, with whom everybody sympathises.
Really, is the right hon. Gentleman serious? Here is a man maimed for life, having lost his arm, being incapable of work, with several little children bordering on starvation, and you are going to give another £500,000 for work for people in Belfast. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not suggest
that it meets this case. I want to speak for the people for whom I stand. In this House, all through this controversy, I have stood for the non-combatants, for the innocent people who belong to neither of the conflicting parties, for the men and women who are not responsible for the bloodshed and horrors which have discredited the country. These are the people for whom I stand, and this is only one of many, many cases. I want to know what is to be done to compensate a man of this character, who is typical of a large class. The right hon. Gentleman has not told me what is to be done in this case, but I shall expect him to tell me before the Debate is over. I will read another letter:
I trust you will pardon my troubling you again regarding the case of my late husband, who was shot. I respectfully beg to bring to your notice the compensation which is being awarded to wives and families in the same condition as myself. I am destitute, with seven children, ranging from 18 months to 18 years. My husband was a most inoffensive man. He was going to his work at 6.30 in the morning, and was shot. I was recommended, at the time of the inquest, to the consideration of the Government. I would be glad, in view of present rates of compensation that are being granted, if you will please get my case reopened, and try if anything can be done to relieve me in the present critical position.
Another man writes that he had no knowledge at the time that compensation was to be paid for injuries, and he neglected to make a claim. Legal opinion is that the claim has lapsed. Then I come to the case of damage to property. I take the case of a leading business man in one of the Northern towns, and I will give his letter also to the right hon. Gentleman, if he desires to have it. His factory was burned down. This man employed something like 100 men. His manager and 60 of the men were Protestants, but he himself was a Catholic, and his factory was burned down. He made a claim for £55,000, and he got a little over £30,000. The man can never start his business again, and these people are all out of employment. Is there to be no revision of a case of this character? Is there to be no appeal tribunal before whom this gentleman can go and have his claim reheard? I want the Committee to remember that the right hon. Gentleman has made a great case of how the claims came in the normal fashion before these Ulster Courts, and how these Ulster Courts, taking these cases in the normal way, gave
judgment according to the spirit of justice. That is perfectly true, but there was always this in the mind of the judge, who was the final arbiter—"I must watch that I do not saddle the ratepayers with an enormous burden. I must see that this terrific burden must not be allowed to bear down the ratepayers." Therefore, the awards they made, so far from being generous, were so meagre as to be almost unjust; but I am quite certain that if these judges had known that this Imperial Parliament was going to give a grant—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Is anything else suggested? The one idea running through all the considered judgments of these learned Recorders and County Court Judges was, that really this would be a terrific burden upon the ratepayers. But if they had known that this Parliament was to be asked to provide £1,500,000 for the purpose of paying these damages, then I say that a larger measure of generosity, or justice rather, would have been shown to the claims when they came before those Courts.
I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman had any statement to make, or will give us some explanation of what the Lord Chancellor meant the other day when in the House of Lords he made this statement:
Lord Carson has said with truth that terrible and appalling things have taken place in Belfast. He says they are the reaction of that which has taken place in the rest of Ireland. I am not concerned to dispute or confirm that opinion, but it is true that Catholics, in circumstances revolting to every humane man, have been done to death in the North of Ireland in the last few months, and even in the last two weeks. It is equally true that in other parts of Ireland Protestants, by what is described as a 'pogram,' have been murdered in circumstances of terrible barbarity.
Then he goes on to say that he is going to take steps to relieve these victims both in the South and in the North, and that the Government propose to give a grant for the purpose of relieving the victims in both parts of the country. I should like something more explicit than that statement. I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman whether a Commission is to be set up in the North of Ireland for the purpose of dealing with these eases. I say further that it seems to me—and I think many Members of this House will agree—that when a matter of this sort comes to be decided, that when
the Government has consulted everybody inside this House and outside this House, that, at all events, the representatives of the most vital part of the community ought to have been consulted as to what should be done.
I quite realise that behind me I have no votes in this House: therefore I lack effectiveness. I quite agree that I cannot go out and throw bombs or use revolvers and rifles, and, therefore, the Government pay little heed. There is only the power of the vote in this House and the power of the rifle in the country which can compel a sense of justice in these men. That is all. Everyone sees and realises that. Mere moral right, the justice of a claim, an unquestioned grievance, the persecution of a people—none of these things count at all so long as people are represented only by the voice of reason in the constitutional assembly of the nation. I say that the sooner you get away from that the better. I represent here a large body of people who do not take any part whatever in politics. They are faithful citizens, discharging their duties as they should, pursuing civic virtue, labouring when they can get labour, and bearing the terrible persecution to which they have been subjected with a superb patience, a fortitude and a lack of resentment to which I think you will find no parallel anywhere.
This Government has assumed the responsibility for a part at least of the financial burden of the wrong that has been done. I claim that the only way in which justice can be done is by appointing an impartial commission, first of all to reconsider all the claims and awards that has been made in North-East Ulster, and, secondly, a Commission that will take into consideration the claims of the expelled workers. Five hundred thousand pounds has been spent in weekly doles to the expelled workers—the voluntary contributions of humane men, not only at home but abroad. Why should private individuals, moved by a sense of indignation, and a sense of justice, be compelled to pay £500,000 to keep these people from hunger and distress, when you are giving £1,500,000 to a Parliament which represents the men who did these deeds? Not a single farthing of this money is to be given back—I refer to the £500,000. Then there are hundreds of people who have been maimed and wounded for life. What redress is to be given to them? These are considerations I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman. I want further to say that I trust that this vote will not be smuggled through the House, through an empty House, but that it will have discussion, for it is public money which is to be devoted to public purposes, and it ought to cover all those public purposes, and not part of them. I trust a satisfactory answer will be given to all the suggestions which I have made. Whatever is left of the spirit of justice amongst British Members in this House will, I trust, assert itself to see that the people who were the innocent victims of this War will at least be compensated to an equal degree with those who have been responsible for what has occurred.
I want to say two or three words in reply to the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Devlin). First of all, I would like to remind him, and the Committee, that if he is really anxious to help the Government of Northern Ireland in the matter of recompensing the persons who have suffered from personal injuries inflicted upon them, or who have had their property destroyed, he knows how he can do it. He knows that every Unionist Member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and particularly the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, is most anxious that every Nationalist who has been elected to that House should take his seat in the House and take part in its deliberations. The hon. Gentleman knows that if that were done, that if he and his Nationalist colleagues in that Parliament had taken their seats, they would have most certainly been consulted, and their advice would have been sought as to what should be done in the matter with which we are now dealing. There is nothing which the Unionists and Protestants in the North of Ireland more ardently desire than that the Nationalists should come forward and take their proper place in the government of Northern Ireland. Instead of finding fault with the Government in this House for what it is doing, I respectfully suggest to the hon. Member that it would be much better if he would take what is obviously his proper place, and perform what is obviously his duty by taking that place in the Northern Parliament, and helping to bring the horrible condition of things which unfortunately exists in Belfast, as well as other parts of Ireland, to an end.
In respect of the grant that this House is asked to make to the Northern Government., I should just like to remind the Committee of what has been done there. It is true that the Chief Secretary has already placed the facts before the Committee; but I should like to say something. First of all, with regard to compensation for malicious injuries—which is a peculiar form of compensation, peculiar to Ireland, and does not exist in this country—everything has been done in the most orderly and legal way in dealing with these claims. When the injuries were committed, claims were put forward, and they have been tried by properly constituted tribunals. Even the hon. Member himself did not suggest that the judges of these tribunals have acted otherwise than in a perfectly fair and straightforward manner. If this grant is not made, I have no doubt that, in spite of the terrific burden which it will impose upon the ratepayers, these claims will be paid, even to the extent of the £1,200,000. I am speaking now only of the cases which have been dealt with. There are many cases which have not yet been heard.
I am very much interested in this matter because the chief town in my constituency has suffered more heavily in the destruction of property, perhaps, than any other place in the Northern area. The rate—I forget what it is, it is a perfectly appalling rate—that has been put on this town is one which it is almost impossible for the ratepayers to pay. Our contention is simply this: that these disturbances, which ended in the destruction of so much property, was not the fault of the people of Northern Ireland. It was due to a state of affairs, or circumstances, over which the inhabitants of Northern Ireland had no control. Let me refer to a particular case. This the House will remember it when I give some of the details. On a certain Sunday morning an officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary was returning from church with some friends, when he was brutally murdered in broad daylight, and in the main street of the town. It may have been wrong for my constituents in that town to lose their heads, to see red, and to behave as they did, but while I deplore as much as anyone could do the horrible excesses which were committed, I cannot say I do not sympathise with the people to some extent in the fact that they lost control of themselves in the circumstances. The murderers of this police officer were men who came from the South of Ireland. That was conclusively proved.
I have an explanation of that. First of all, I deny that that amount of Catholic property was destroyed. The vast bulk of the property belonged to Protestants. It is true that the tenants were in many cases Roman Catholics, but the whole losses fell on the shoulders of Protestants. That is a fact of which I should have thought the hon. Member was well aware. In the second place, the point is that this tremendous loss of property was caused by people who came from outside the Northern area altogether, and murdered a perfectly innocent police officer. It is true that the people lost their heads and committed these excesses, and there has been brought down on the shoulders of the innocent ratepayers of that district this enormous burden, but we say that as this was a matter for which Northern Ireland was not primarily responsible, it is not unfair that this country should be asked to help us in our difficulties. The same argument applies to other of these outrages and the destruction of property for which compensation is to be paid, and which are the outcome of the general condition of affairs which have existed in Ireland for the last four or five years. I think that even hon. Members of this House will admit that the Government of this country is at least as much responsible for that state of affairs as are the people of Ulster. That being so we maintain that there is an obligation on the Government to help us. I sincerely trust that the Committee will pass this grant, and will thereby remove that tremendous incubus and burden from the shoulders of a young State which has just begun to function, a burden which will handicap it in a very serious way if it is to be allowed to remain.
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £500,000.
The more this Debate proceeds the more I am astounded, and I beg hon. Members who represent English, Scottish and Welsh constituencies to carefully consider the situation. This is a Vote for £750,000 as a first instalment of £1,500,000 on account of damage done in Northern Ireland. There is another £500,000 for some other form of compensation, I believe to shipyard workers, and another £1,000,000 grant-in-aid for same undisclosed purpose if and when this Vote is passed. This is only the beginning of a vast system of subsidies which we have to pay to the Northern Government of Ireland. The one thing English people were congratulating themselves upon was that at any rate for some time we were quit of the Irish problem, and quit of all responsibility for the maintenance of law and order which was to be carried out by Irishmen themselves. The very last thing that the ordinary man in the street thought of was that we should be called upon to foot the bill for the extraordinary occurrences of the last few months.
I am very sorry that the Government are not appealing to the country immediately because then we should have had a very good opportunity of enlightening the electors as to what they are in for. Take the lamentable case put forward by the hon. Member for Antrim in regard to the Lisburn case. An officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary is brutally murdered in this town, and such murders have been condemned in every part of this House. Thereupon the people of the town rise in their wrath and do damage by burning their neighbours' property, and driving people away from their work, and this leads to a heavy burden on the ratepayers of the town. They do this, lose their heads, and as the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Craig) has said, they see red; but we are to pay, notwithstanding our own burdens from the War, at a time when taxation is throttling and strangling our trade, and at a time when we have to strain our bargains with employés, and when we are endeavouring to make both ends meet. We are asked to pay because the constituents of the hon. and gallant Member see red and commit appalling excesses.
There is some excuse for some payment being made in the case of Southern Ireland because the damage there was admitted done in many cases by our own soldiers and police, the Black and Tans, and so on. Some sort of case can be made out for payments of this kind by this House for damage committed by our own forces in Southern Ireland. I do not want to go into the details, but this damage was done by our own soldiers, while the damage in Northern Ireland was not done by British soldiers but, in the majority of eases, by the inhabitants of those towns themselves. Because in one street you have Catholics and in the next street Protestants, who fight together and burn each other's houses, the people of this country are being called upon to foot the bill. I consider that we should resist this claim to the utmost because it is unjust. I do not wish to offend anyone's susceptibilities, but I think it is an effrontery to ask us to pay this money. The Government of Northern Ireland has been functioning fully as to its control of the police with power to call in the military, and they have had all the functions of government for some nine months, and I do not think I am wrong when I say that a good deal of that damage has been done during that time.
I do not pretend to be so familiar with the position of things in Ireland because it is not my business. I am here representing an English constituency, and I am trying to protect the English taxpayer, and I am very glad to be corrected if I am wrong in my facts. But even then this damage was done by the subjects of the Government of Northern Ireland, and they should foot the bill, and we. should not be called upon to pay reparation for damage committed by the subjects of Northern Ireland while that Government has a pound in its Exchequer. The excesses in Lisburn were deplorable, but I think it is a good principle that these people should be taught that it is expen- sive to burn their neighbours' property. Certain Acts of Parliament may be passed which these people do not approve of, and they may be encouraged to commit these excesses again and destroy property, and I am afraid in some cases kill and murder. I want them to pay for the damage themselves. One reason for making the Germans pay was said to be that it would teach them not to go to war another time.
One of the arguments used in all parts of the House was that the payment of reparations would be a worthy lesson, and in the same way I want the people of Northern and Southern Ireland to be shown that it does not pay to destroy their own property, and it is not fair to ask the overburdened taxpayers of this country to foot the bill. [Laughter.] In spite of the laughter of hon. Members opposite, I repeat that some case can be made out for doing something in this respect in regard to the damage done by our own troops in Southern Ireland, but I cannot see why we should make good at the expense of our depleted Exchequer the damage done by rioters and people who see red. I would like to clear up the question of the actual amount involved. The awards come to £1,200,000, and there are further claims amounting to £2,000,000. I believe the right hon. Gentlemen mentioned that the total amount involved was £4,600,000.
The total estimated claims were £4,000,000 up to 14th January of this year. The total estimated claims amount to £4,600,000; the total awards are about £1,120,000, and the total of the claims yet unheard will probably be about £2,000,000. Therefore on the total awards against local authorities in Northern Ireland, the amount would be £2,000,000. That is to say, that the total amount of all the awards for damage done prior to 14th January, which have been settled by the courts would be about £2,000,000.
Then the Government of Northern Ireland really are paying nothing. I do not think it matters much whether it is paid by the local authorities or the Government of Northern Ireland, but we want to know what is being done. We have continually heard throughout these long years of controversy that Belfast and the six Northern counties were the most prosperous and wealthy part of Ireland. We have had that drummed into our ears, and those of us who have visited those counties know that they are a very wealthy community. Therefore I think it is monstrous that they should expect us to pay in this proportion. This damage was done by the people domiciled in Lisburn.
I understand that a great deal of property was burned and a rate has been struck which the ratepayers cannot possibly pay. Out of this £2,000,000 we are to pay £1,500,000, and this wealthy principality in the richest part of Ireland is only going to pay £500,000 for damage done by its own people. I think it is monstrous and it is only necessary to make it known to the taxpayers of this country to make the whole of this business impossible, and throw the Government out of office. Yesterday we heard a great deal about the need for economy. We were discussing the question of pensions for our own English teachers. During the whole of the Debate the House was crowded and the scenes were enthusiastic. Here we are paying people now under another Government, a solvent Government, independent of us, this big sum of money. I make my protest here. It may not be of much use. We may give a score of votes in the Lobby, but the Government can drive this thing through with their Whips. It is not often we can get Members supporting the Government to vote with us. The Government have only suffered defeat four times since the General Election and they are not likely to do it again, at any rate for some weeks to come. But do not let them go about the country claiming that they are advocates of economy when they are undertaking obligations of this sort—obligations which we look upon as bribes at our expense to a Government which ought to be well able to pay for the effect of its own weakness in failing to maintain proper order. This is not the last the Government will hear of this. Possibly this will be one of the last Bills which will be presented to us. In moving the reduction of this Vote by £500,000 I invite hon. Members to think of the terrible burden which is placed on the English, Scottish and Welsh taxpayers, and to think twice before they vote against the reduction.
Lieut.-Colonel J. WARD:
There is another side of the question, so far as the English Member is concerned, to that which has just been put by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy). I approach the matter certainly from a slightly different point of view. I think we may take it for granted that a great deal of this damage was the result of a political contest fought, not with ordinary political weapons—arguments and reason—but with bombs and revolvers. It was a contest between the Sinn Feiners of the South of Ireland and the representatives of this Imperial Parliament. Really most of the damage in Northern Ireland, in spite of the fact that the majority of the population there are perfectly loyal to the Crown, represents an overflow of the terrific turmoil which has taken place in Southern Ireland, and if the Northern Parliament and the Northern people up to the time that the responsibility was handed over to them—sometime this year —have agreed to foot one-third of a bill which is a result of the policy voted upon and decided by this House, instead of it being suggested that we are generous, I think it must be admitted that they have taken a fair share of the responsibility. If it be true, as is suggested by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that this agreement is final, so far as malicious damage is concerned in the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland, then I am sure there are many who will be perfectly satisfied with the arrangement.
I am more concerned in the other direction. My hon. and gallant. Friend says he does not see why we should contribute anything to that part of the Irish community which is willing to live in peace, harmony and brotherhood with ourselves. He says too that the British taxpayer would be much concerned at having to contribute a single cent to those who wish to be our neighbours and friends, and to be at one with us in this United Kingdom. He feels that the whole of the taxpaying community in England will be wroth with the Government because it does not promise unlimited compensation to those who have fought and struggled with us in the last two or three years in the South of Ireland. I do not think he is interpreting arightly the feelings of English taxpayers when he suggests that that will be their view. I believe he will find later on, even in his own constituency, that there will be ample generosity on the part of the English community towards those who wish to live in comfort and peace with us, and if there is any niggardly scrutiny of this kind of expenditure, it certainly will be in the direction of expenditure in the South of Ireland.
I am aware of that, but will the hon. Gentleman allow me for the moment to test the view expressed by the hon. and gallant Member as the view of people whom I represent? I am not so satisfied as to the accuracy of the view he has put forward. There is another thing about which I am not satisfied. I should like to know more about the Commission which has been appointed. I am fearful as to the bill which will be eventually presented to this House for damage in the South. The appointment, of this Commission is a step in that direction, and I only wish my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) could be induced to make as eloquent a speech against the Bill to which I am referring as he has delivered this afternoon. It is on the question of that Bill I want to say a word or two. An immense amount of the damage, the overwhelming part of it, has been done in the South by the enemies of England—by those who are in conflict with our Government. It is a well-know fact that one single act of incendiarism, the burning of the Custom House, has involved a loss of nearly £2,000,000. Is this Commission to have a right to go over to Ireland and saddle us here in England with the cost of that. treasonable act? If so, although I have never voted against any grants which have been suggested for any part of Ireland, yet I think I shall be tempted to vote against the Government if it is suggested that, as a result of the inquiry by the Commission presided over by Lord Shaw, we are to be saddled with the cost of that act.
Again, there has been the destruction of the general post. office in Dublin, and there have been many other malicious acts involving probably a loss of from £10,000,000 to £30,000,000. Judging from the answers which have been given in this House at different times, at least £20,000,000 has admittedly been lost by acts of malicious damage done by the open avowed enemies of the Government of this country. I am going to insist, as far as I can, on ascertaining what is to be the limit of our liabilities. Of course, we are responsible for the damage done by our own forces in the South of Ireland. I do not dispute that in any way whatsoever, but I hope the investigations of this Commission will be limited to that one point, and that it will not attempt to saddle us with the cost of the destruction of the Custom House, of the post office, of police barracks, and of military barracks and of other property. We certainly ought not to be saddled with claims of that character. I do not suppose for one minute that it will be possible to make terms with the South of Ireland similar to those which have been come to with the Government of the North of Ireland—
I am afraid I have been misled in that direction largely by the arguments used by two previous speakers. I want it to he perfectly well understood that, in my opinion, the people of this country will not hesitate to supply the necessary funds to that part of Ireland which is anxious to live in peace and amity with us, and I am sure it will scrutinise in the severest manner any attempt to place upon us the burden of the acts of our avowed enemies.
I do not propose to follow the line taken by the last two speakers, for I want to deal with the Vote before the Committee from a particular point of view. The hon. and gallant Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig) said that, in consequence of the responsibility of the Government for many of the happenings in Ireland, he thought that this country was bound to help so far as meeting the damage was concerned, and I do not know that that would he seriously contested by the Committee. One of the things, however, upon which I am certain the Committee would like to be assured, is that, in passing a Vote of this character, which has for its object the compensation of people who have suffered either personally or materially, all sections of the people of Ireland are to be justly and fairly treated in connection with the payment of that compensation. I think that in the consideration of the payment of compensation a section of the people of Northern Ireland have been overlooked, and it is for them that I desire to speak. The hon. Member for Falls (Mr. Devlin) stated in the course of his eloquent speech that he was putting the special case of that section of the people of Northern Ireland who were willing to labour and were prevented from doing so; and he stated that that section of the Irish people had had to be compensated largely by private charity. I think he said that no less a sum than £500,000 had been contributed from various sources for the purpose of helping to maintain them.
I want to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary to the fact that the sum mentioned by the hon. Member for Falls did not entirely account for all that had to he done on behalf of that section of the people of Northern Ireland, namely, the organised workers who were thrown out of employment in the shipyards. That £500,000 did not represent all that it had cost to maintain these nice and their dependants. The attention of the Labour party has been drawn time after time to the fact that, on account of the prevention of those men from following their usual employment in the shipyards and elsewhere, many of our trade unions have had to incur a heavy liability. I have here a communication from the secretary of one of our trade unions to the secretary of the Labour party, asking that, when we are considering this question of compensation for damage done in Northern Ireland, we should urge upon the Chief Secretary and the Committee the necessity for taking into consideration the large amount of money that has had to be expended by the trade unions of the country in maintaining the men and women who are being brutally forced out of employment, particularly in Belfast. This secretary goes on to say that his own union has not only had to pay out-of-work benefit to these men and women, but that there has also been a very substantial bill for replacing tools belonging to the members which were deliberately destroyed. That alone has cost this union no less a sum than £3,000. He goes on to say that the cost of out-of-work benefit to their members who were thrown out of employment in this way—men whose only crime was that they were Catholics and trade unionists—[Interruption]—amounted to no less a sum than £10,000, in addition to the £3,000 which I have already mentioned for tools that had been wantonly destroyed.
Whether the people who were the cause of throwing them out of employment were trade unionists or not, here is a section of the community in Northern Ireland who have been prevented from working—
And sympathetic to the Labour movement. In addition to this letter, we have had a number of other communications of a similar character. The point that I desire to put to the Chief Secretary, and to the Committee before it becomes a consenting party to the voting of this £1,500,000 for the purpose shown in this Estimate, is whether these people for whom we are speaking are to be compensated for the loss they have sustained. Here is a trade union which has had to incur an expenditure of £13,000 for payment of out-of-work benefit and for replacing the tools of its members who were kept out of employment—who were refused liberty to follow their usual avocation. Many other claims of a similar character can be put in. In awarding compensation, is the claim of these trade unions to be taken into account? That is the point that we should like the Chief Secretary, or whoever is to speak for the Government, to make clear before we are called upon to part with this £1,500,000. If this money is to be spent, we consider that the claims of all sections of the people of Ireland should be treated justly and equitably. Is the Chief Secretary prepared, in awarding that £1,500,000 of compensation, to see that the claims of the trade unions who have been put to this enormous expense are recognised and compensated with those of others? I am certain that, unless we can have an assurance from the Chief Secretary that the claims of all sections of the Irish people are to be equitably and justly recognised and dealt with, the Committee will have something to say before this substantial Estimate is passed, and I trust that, before this discussion is finished, the point will be dealt with satisfactorily on behalf of the Government.
I had not intended to take part in this Debate, but I should like to make one or two observations in reply to the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I entirely agree that in this matter of compensation there should be complete equality as between all sections and creeds who have just claims to compensation, wherever it comes from. I am perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman spoke in the sincere belief that everything he said was accurate, but I believe that he has been grossly misled and misinformed. I speak with some knowledge, but I do not want to he too dogmatic. I should, however, be extremely surprised if the trade unions, as such, have any claim whatever on the ground that the right hon. Gentleman has put forward. Let me examine for a moment this question of the men who have been driven out of employment in Belfast. I need not say that, so far from defending it, I deplore it very much, but the right hon. Gentleman says that they were driven out because they were Catholics and trade unionists. They were not driven out for either one of those reasons. They were not driven out because they were Catholics or because they were trade unionists. They were driven out, in so far as they were driven out, because they were, or were believed to be, Sinn Feiners. They were believed to be dangerous, not only to their fellow-workers, but to their fellow-citizens. They were believed to be sympathisers with and participators in the deplorable circumstances which are familiar to all of us. I do not say that they were justly suspected; I do not know; but at all events that was the reason.
Now, it is unfortunately the fact, as we all know, that in Ireland, substantially speaking, the political line of division coincides with the religious line of division, and consequently, as the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, in nine cases out of 10, if a man is a Roman Catholic he belongs to the Nationalist. or to the Sinn Fein side of politics, while, if he is a Protestant, he belongs to the Unionist, or, as we call it, the Loyalist section of politics. It has followed From that that the men who were deplorably driven out of their employment on account of their political creed are able—I do not say purposely—to point to the fact that they were driven out because of their religious creed. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that that is not the true reason. Still less is it the case that they were driven out because they were trade unionists. As a matter of fact, those who have taken their places are trade unionists, and, from the point of view of loss to the trade union as such, it does not make the slightest difference whether a man who is out of employment is a Catholic or a Protestant. If the Catholics were all put back in employment the only result would be that the trade unions would have a number of unemployed Protestants on their hands. It came about in this way. During the War, a very large percentage of those who were employed in the shipyards of Belfast went into the Army, and went away to France. While they were away, the shipyard work was a most important industry, which it was absolutely essential to carry on, and the result was that during the War there was an influx into Belfast, and into the shipyards, of a very large number of Catholic workmen, who had not enlisted, from other outlying parts of Ireland; and they took the places of the Protestants who had gone into the Army. When the War was over, these men came back from the Army, and they very naturally expected and hoped that they would he restored to their original employment. To what extent they were restored I am not able to say, but that complication came in just at the same time when the deplorable political complications were arising in Belfast. Those are the real reasons why those men were driven out. I am only dealing now with the point of view of the loss to the trade unionists.
I am not on that point for the moment. I am only dealing with the right hon. Gentleman's point that the trade unions and not the individuals have a claim for compensation on two grounds, first that they had had to pay a large bill for the loss of tools and secondly that they have a large unemployed list, which they had before. With regard to the claim for tools I am not in a position to dispute what the right hon. Gentleman has said. It may be there is good ground for a claim on that head. As far as the other matter is concerned I believe it is a complete misconception to say that the trade unions have any claim. The hon. and gallant Gentleman asks what redress these men have. I do not know. I do not think it comes under this Vote. If he makes some suggestion or proposal for dealing with their wrongs, if they have them, I will give it my earnest consideration and will very Likely support it, but it is irrelevant to the present discussion. Unfortunately, there are only too many classes of people in Ireland at present who have borne infinitely greater sufferings and wrongs and, so far as I am able to judge, under any provision which may be made by the Government by local authorities or by public charity they are not likely to get any great redress. That is part of the result of the general condition of affairs in Ireland at present.
I should like to say one word upon the general question of the principle involved in this Vote. I do not think it is in the least necessary or desirable to say anything in reply to the speech of the hon and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut. - Commander Kenworthy). It would not be worth while to do so, but I would say to anyone who, like him, thinks it is an outrageous thing that the people in Northern Ireland should get assistance from the Government in respect of property which has been destroyed by unknown persons in their own area that at all events the hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot take that ground, because his own leaders and the Party to which he belongs set the example when they put upon the shoulders of British taxpayers—I thought at the time it was wrong—the burden of paying for the destruction of Dublin by the rebels in 1915. That was done by the Government of the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) and I suppose with the support of his Party. At all events, it does not lie in the mouths of those who supported that policy to say now it is an unjustifiable thing to ask the British taxpayer to assist the people in Northern Ireland who are suffering, not by any means under similar circumstances, from the destruction of their property. What is the principle? For a long time past in Ireland, owing to the fact that order, law and respect for property have never been on the same standard as in this country, they have to have this special legislation, known as the Malicious Injuries Act, in order to deal not only with isolated examples of malicious injury, which were more common there than here, but also to act as a deterrent, and it was enacted in that Statute that when a house or a stack of corn was burned or cattle were driven and it could be traced to a malicious act, the sufferer should be compensated out of the rates. During the last few years the condition of affairs in Ireland got to such a stage and the amount of malicious injury and damage to property was so great that to rely upon that Statute would simply bring the local authorities to bankruptcy. Consequently the only choice which the Government and Parliament had was either that the victims of malicious injury should go without any compensation at all or else that so long as the local resources held out the suffers should be compensated and after that you would have had a number of sufferers without any compensation, coupled with a number of local authorities in a state of insolvency.
That was the condition of affairs with which the Government was faced. I do not want on this occasion to go into any sort of political recriminations with regard to the past, but whatever view one takes of recent policy this is certainly true, that up to a few months ago it was this Government and this Parliament which were responsible for the administration of Northern Ireland. The murder of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke undoubtedly set fire to a train which has had many deplorable consequences. The Government were responsible for seeing that a proper state of law and order prevailed in that part of the country. The victim was under the protection of the Government when he was murdered in broad daylight. I do not impute personal responsibility, but that was the state of affairs in the country for which this Government and this Parliament were responsible, and it was not until March of the present year that even the nominal control of the police force was transferred to the Government of Northern Ireland. It was not, therefore, until March that they could be held to have any sort of responsibility for the administration of law and order. Under those circumstances is there anything unjust in asking that if the resources of the Malicious Injuries Act have to be supplemented, as everyone must admit they have, they must be supplemented by resources in the control of this Parliament. It would be absurd that they should be paid out of private pockets, because they are not deep enough, and it would be equally absurd and grossly unjust that they should be charged on the resources of the local authorities. This Parliament, which was responsible for law and order, in so far as it had failed to maintain law and order, and therefore enabled malicious injury on a large scale to be carried out, is justly responsible for such compensation as it may be necessary to give the sufferers, and it is for that reason that this Vote is a perfectly just one both on general principles and on the facts of the case, and I hope no hon. Member will be led away by the tub-thumping arguments which have been addressed and the appeal to the desire for economy, but will say that the question which has been put before the Committee by the Government is just and fair.
This Debate has ranged over a rather wide area. I imagine that a good deal of it has been out of order. For instance, I do not think the money this country is going to give to help the Nationalist dockyard workers who were expelled and have suffered a certain amount of misery and inconvenience is under this Vote at ad. But assuming that it is, and admitting that I can for the purpose of comparison use the analogy that what is going to be done in the North will be done in the South, I can say how much better placed these persecuted Catholic workmen are than the persecuted loyalist refugees in the South of Ireland. These Catholic workmen are going to get a cut at a sum of something like £2,000,000. If they cannot get employment they will get some money given them. If they have lost their tools, either they will be restored or a money grant will be given. What does the Committee think of the analogous case of the refugees in the South of Ireland? Are they going to have a cut at £2,000,000? As a matter of fact, we heard the other day that a Committee was set up to go into all these cases of distress, the cases of these hundreds of people, men and women, who have been compelled at the point of the revolver to flee from their own country. What is it going to be for them? Exactly £;10,000. How well the Nationalist citizens of Belfast, who have to remain altogether apart and can take no part in active politics, and always keep the peace, are being treated as compared with the minority in the South, who as between the De Valera element and the Collins element also have to keep the peace. This Vote has been attacked and there is going to be a division on it, and it will very much interest me to see whether the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) and the hon. Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) will vote in the same Lobby. I do not think they will. I think we shall find the hon. Member for Falls voting with myself and the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull against us.
But let us remember the reason why this Vote has been put down. This is the result really of an agreement arrived at between what we may call the three "C's "—Sir James Craig, Mr. Collins and the Colonial Secretary. When we were passing the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act through its final stages, and some of us were opposing it vigorously, the Colonial Secretary, on the last day, was able to announce that a great pact of peace had been arrived at between Mr. Collins, Sir James Craig and himself, and he appealed to the House to be generous and let this thing go through, and he told us then how the Government in their generosity were going to make this grant of money to the shipyard workers in Belfast, and all those who had suffered as the result of these sectarian controversies during the last two years. By means of that agreement he was able to get the Bill through quite easily, and it is through that agreement, therefore, that the whole of this money is to be paid. I shall vote for this money being given to Ulster, but I only wish we in the South could get the same generous terms. After all, it is, comparatively speaking, an accident that they are getting these terms. It is because in the North the local authorities did not defend claims for damages. When a house was burned in County Tyrone, Tyrone had a recalcitrate council which would not obey the orders of the Northern Irish Government. Supposing a mansion was burned in Tyrone, and the county council of Tyrone put in an appearance on behalf of the ratepayers. If they did, the man in Tyrone will get money granted to him by the Government. Supposing that across the border, in County Cavan, which is outside the six counties' area, a man's house was burned, simply because the local authority in County Cavan would not put in an appearance to test his claim, his claim is hung up and is to be inquired into again by Lord Shaw's Commission. That claim, even if it is allowed, is not going to be paid by the Treasury of this country. The man will have to take his chance of getting the money from the Provisional Government, when he can. Are any conditions attached to the payment of these claims? Where a man has had his house burned, his shop burned, his farm destroyed, and he is awarded compensation, are any conditions being attached to that award? In cases where a mansion has been burned or a shop or a farm in the six counties area, is it a condition that the house, the shop, or the farm shall be re-built with the money awarded? The House is dealing very generously, and rightly so, with those who suffered in the six counties area, and when our time comes in the South, I hope that the House will deal generously with us.
The hon. Member who has just spoken has argued that because the Government have presented this Vote to-day pressure will be placed upon them in the coming months to grant greater compensation to Southern Ireland Taking into consideration the far greater damage that has been done in the South of Ireland, the Bill which will be presented to the House at a later date will be for a very much larger sum than the Bill presented to-day. I have risen to ask the Chief Secretary a few questions in connection with this Vote. If I understood him correctly, the Government of Northern Ireland are settling these claims themselves. More than one hon. Member has expressed doubt whether the claims of individuals would be favourably considered. My hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) pleaded the case of the poor people whose claims may not be fairly considered by the authority which will administer this sum of money. Will it be administered by the County Courts in Ireland, or will there be a separate Commission appointed by the Government of Northern Ireland to settle these claims? The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson) brought forward the claims of the trade unions. I have only to mention these two cases to show that there is considerable doubt in the minds of hon. Members as to whether the claims of individuals in Northern Ireland will be favourably and justly considered when this sum of money is being disbursed.
The hon. and learned Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) referred to the damage committed in Dublin in 1916, and to the decision of die Government of that day to pay the compensation for the damage done. There would have been more force in that contention if this was the only Vote that the House is going to be asked to pass. An examination of the Unclassified Services reveals the fact that the House of Commons during the next few months will be asked to pass large sums of money for Northern and Southern Ireland. I am anxious to find out what is the total sum the taxpayers of Great Britain will be forced to find for Irish services this year. We have this afternoon, on Vote 7, £750,000. We have, on Vote 6, £2,000,000. The Chief Secretary, if I understand him correctly, said that Lord Shaw's Commission may investigate claims to the extent of £5,000,000. If I did not understand him correctly, perhaps he will give us information on the point. Will the claims that Lord Shaw's Commission will investigate in Southern Ireland amount to 210,000,000? We are entitled to some information on that point. I have heard it stated that the Exchequer of Great Britain may be forced to find over £10,000,000 for compensation to Southern Ireland. Surely the Chief Secretary must have some information on that point. He has told the Committee that in Northern Ireland claims to the extent of £4,600,000 were lodged before 14th January, 1922. Has he any information as to the amount of claims which will be lodged or have been lodged or are being prepared for compensation for damage in Southern Ireland? If he says he has no information, I will pass from the subject, but we are certainly entitled to some figure, although it may be only an approximate estimate.
Failing any figure from the Chief Secretary, I suggest that if we are to find £1,500,000 for Northern Ireland this year it will not be excessive if I place the figure at £5,000,000 for Southern Ireland, £2,500,000 to be payable this year. The House is asked on Vote 8 to vote £1,000,000 as a grant-in-aid to Northern Ireland. By question and answer a few hours ago, the Chief Secretary stated that he would shortly introduce a Supplementary Estimate for £500,000 to cope with the distress in Northern Ireland. Therefore, we have £2,500,000 compensation for injury, over £1,000,000 under Vote 8, and £500,000 for distress in Northern Ireland, and I estimate £2,500,000 for Southern Ireland this year, so that the amount that the taxpayers of Great. Britain will have to find this year in compensation for individuals in Northern and Southern Ireland, and to make good the damage done, will be about £6,750,000. I hope the Chief Secretary will realise the reasonableness of my suggestion that, in judging of this amount, the taxpayer of this country is entitled to know his total burden as the result of past policy. I have no intention and am not anxious to make any comment on that past policy, but we are entitled to know what the cost of that policy is to-day. I suggest that it will cost at least £6,750,000 this year, and a further large sum next year, in addition to compensation to be paid to the Royal Irish Constabulary.
With respect to the present Vote for 2750,000, the Chief Secretary stated that the total claims amounted to £4,600,000, and that after examining these claims the amount was reduced to about £2,000,000, of which £1,500,000 is to be paid by the British Exchequer and £500,000 by the Government of Northern Ireland. For every pound that the Government of Northern Ireland are going to find on this Estimate the British Exchequer is going to find over £3. On what basis did the Chief Secretary come to that decision? Why three to one? Why not five to one? Why not pound for a pound? Why saddle the British taxpayer with such a heavy burden? During the coming months the situation in Northern Ireland is going to be very extraordinary. We have £750,000 on this Vote; we have over £1,000,000 on Vote 8 of British money which will pass into the coffers of the Government of Northern Ireland, and a further sum of £500,000 in a Supplementary Estimate. The Government are dipping too heavily into the pockets of the British taxpayers in this matter. Why such large sums I Maybe it is to solve temporary difficulties in Northern Ireland. If you are going to solve the present difficulties in Northern Ireland by a copious outpouring of British money, how much larger will be the sum which will be required in the coming months to be paid to the Government of Southern Ireland? This Vote is a forerunner of other large sums. Little by little we shall learn the true facts. By chance we learned an hour or so ago of a further Supplementary Estimate of £500,000. It is not an unreasonable request that the Government should tell the Committee the total cost of their policy in Ireland this year. If they will state the burden fully and frankly the Committee will be in a better position to judge whether this Vote should be passed without a Division, and we shall be able to justify the heavy expenditure to our constituents who may question us in the months to come.
The hon. Member has asked the Chief Secretary whether he will state the ultimate cost to the British taxpayer this year of the policy which has been initiated by the Government. I am rather in sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman. I think he has been asked an impossible question. How on earth can he tell what Irishmen are going to do? We do not in the least know. It is not improbable that half the property in Ireland will be destroyed by Sinn Feiners, and then I presume that the Government will pay for it.
I think it is very likely. The hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) very wisely said that he was not going to question the policy of the Government. He was wise in that, because the policy of the Government was his policy, and it is his policy which has resulted in this enormous burden being put on the British taxpayer.
Therefore I am not at all surprised that the hon. Gentleman washes his hands of the question of policy. I am not certain as to what he meant when he said that for every pound given by Northern Ireland we were going to pay £3.
The hon. Gentleman is not certain where the other £500,000 comes from. I am not disinclined to think that part of it will come out of my pocket. The hon. Gentleman ought to have thought of this before he voted for the disastrous policy which the right hon. Gentleman inaugurated some months ago. All this arises out of that disastrous policy. Now we have got to pay the bill, and I do not see how we are going to get out of it. I must not talk about legislation, I know, but I may say this, that unless we repeal various Acts which have been passed by the right hon. Gentleman and the Liberal party, we shall have to spend a great deal of money.
The right hon. Baronet raises a very wide question when he refers to the responsibility for this Vote, and one would have to join issue with him at once upon this particular question, because this Vote does not arise from the new policy of the Government which was started some months ago, but is the result of the policy of the past two years which was supported by the right hon. Baronet. If he had listened to the Debate, he would know that this is compensation for damage which was done before the commencement of the new policy of the Government. But I rose merely to ask the Chief Secretary if he would elucidate a point which is not clear, and which at the same time I think rather important. As I understood the position with regard to Southern Ireland, it is that the damage is divided into two categories, damage occasioned by forces of the Crown and damage occasioned by others, and that the Government accept responsibility for damage caused by forces of the Crown, but will not pay for damage caused by others. In the case of Northern Ireland, the damage is not divided into similar categories, but a lump sum is being granted by way of a general settlement in satisfaction of all, as the right hon. Gentleman calls them, claims. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as a fact, any damage was occasioned by forces of the Crown in Northern Ireland?
That means that whatever it was it would not by any means exhaust the £1,500,000 which is being granted. If that is so, it means that. Northern Ireland is being treated in an entirely different way from Southern Ireland. It means that claims are being paid for a class of damage in Northern Ireland which are being denied in Southern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said further that this was done in order to satisfy claims which might arise. I ask him with respect to those claims for damages occasioned by people other than forces of the Crown, what legal claim or obligation is there upon the British Government to pay any part of it The right hon. Gentleman has undoubtedly taken advice on this point, and, therefore, I would be glad if he will tell us whether there is any legal obligation on the part of the Crown to meet those other claims or whether this payment is merely anex gratia payment made to the Government of Northern Ireland?
I would like the right hon. Gentleman to tell me if I am correct in what I thought when this Debate began, though I wondered during its progress whether I was right or not. This money has been referred to by a number of Members as if it were a sort of compassionate grant which was being distributed to undeserving people. As I understand, there has been malicious injury caused, without going into the reason, in Northern Ireland. Claims have been brought under the Statutes in force before the proper tribunals. Those tribunals have made awards under the Statutes. Those awards are payable out of the resources of the local authorities who levy a rate. The result of this would be in many cases to bankrupt the local authority. This money is not being given to the Government of Northern Ireland in any ordinary sense of the word. It is simply a payment in relief of the claims made on the ratepayers. If that is so, it seems to me that a good many of the speeches made this afternoon are nothing more or less than an attempt to excite prejudice. The last two speakers spoke of Northern and Southern Ireland as if they were on the same footing. Nothing could be more different than their position.
The financial relations between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are governed by the Act of 1920. Under that Act taxes levied in Northern Ireland come into the British Exchequer. A certain proportion, to be ascertained by the Joint Exchequer Board, is paid over to the Government of Northern Ireland, The remainder forms a contribution by Northern Ireland to the finances of the United Kingdom. Not a penny will be paid out of the pockets of taxpayers of England and Scotland for any of these claims. What happens is that the contribution from Northern Ireland will be diminished to a certain extent. Under the provisions of the Act of 1920 the contribution was fixed for two years, but the Joint Exchequer Board has the right to go into the matter and see whether the contribution is a fair one, and it is possible, in the circumstances, that the Joint Exchequer Board would allow all these grants as proper expenditure by the Government of Northern Ireland. Therefore, it is not correct to talk of this as if it were a case of rich countries like England and Scotland coming along and giving their money to their neighbour. You are simply allowing the people of Northern Ireland to keep a little more of their own money. The position in Southern Ireland is different. It pays no contribution to the funds of the United Kingdom. Any money which you give to Southern Ireland is money paid out of the pockets of the taxpayers of England and Scotland. The two positions are different. The position of the people of Northern Ireland with respect to these grants is plain and simple. They are still a partner in the United Kingdom, and money paid to them is only a part of what they contribute. The people of Southern Ireland have taken up the position of a foreign country which contributes nothing, and any money given to them is a dole out of British funds.
I had not the advantage of being present at the Debate, and I took no part in the division, last night, but I gather from the newspapers that the House was crowded, and that there was a great deal of excitement and a very important division with somewhat prejudicial consequences to the Government, and the result of the division created that feeling with which old Members of the House are familiar when the Government of the day are defeated, especially by a small majority. There was a question yesterday of taking away £2,500,000 from the teachers of this country, and on that very important question so determined were the House that justice should be done to the teachers that the House was crowded and there was much excitement. Here to-night we have to deal with a sum of money not very different in amount, and the Committee is listless and empty. Now I come to the contradictory position of my hon. Friends opposite. My hon. and learned Friend who has just spoken says that this is not money given to us. Then what is it if it is not? The fact that Northern Ireland contributes something to the Exchequer of this country does not alter the fact that this money is given to Northern Ireland to pay for damage which has to be paid by the ratepayers of Northern Ireland, and to say that this is not a gift to Northern Ireland is one of these subtleties of argument which the ordinary man cannot follow.
Look at the equities of the case in reference to Northern and Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland is going to get a certain grant not for damages done by those who were supposed to be in sympathy with the members of the present Government in. Ireland, but for damage done by forces of the Crown. Will anybody contend that any civilised government, who employ the uncivilised methods which are now, I am glad to say, dispensed with, and which under thatrégime burned down one-third of one of the large cities of Ireland, was not bound to make good the money for damage created by its own policy and done by its own servants? That is a perfectly legitimate thing for a Government to do, and any other course would be unjust. Take the other damage in Ireland which has been very great, the damage done by what I will call for the moment the forces of Sinn Fein. What did the Government propose and what did the Irish Government accept? The Government proposed that as this damage was done by those supposed to be in sympathy with the Government and partly by the Government forces, that damage should be paid by the ratepayers and taxpayers of Southern Ireland. That is a perfectly logical and sane political arrangement. The English Government says, "What we have damaged we pay for," and the Irish Government says, "What our supporters have damaged we will pay for."
That is in the laps of the Gods or whatever other providential agency is at present engaged with the interests of Ireland. The arrangement I have mentioned does credit to the generous and fair spirit with which the Provisional Government met the Imperial Government on this question of damages. If the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) were a member of the Provisional Government, I do not know that he would not have driven a much harder bargain with the British Government than did the Provisional Government. In passing, I must allude to the distinction which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stoke (Lieut.-Colonel Ward) made. He is one of the most effective friends which the Government has. He says that these men in the North of Ireland were our loyal friends, and, therefore, we must pay for them, but that the men in the South were our enemies, and, therefore, they must pay for the damage themselves. That is a strange doctrine. It reminds me of a historic passage in the literature of the Orange party. They were preparing one of their habitual incursions from one of the blissful abodes of loyalty into an organised riot against a demonstration of their political opponents in the North of Ireland. They came with their sashes and drums and fifes, and they successfully broke up this meeting, which was engaged in the very legitimate purpose of demanding a reduction of the franchise, a reform which has since been carried out. A famous Orange writer described the position as "rioting in the name of loyalty "The fact that they were loyal gave them a right to break up by force a meeting of their political opponents, and that is the doctrine of the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke. If you are a Sinn Feiner and an enemy of England, if you burn houses, you ought to pay for the damages: but if you are a loyal friend of England—if the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke knew as much about the history of Ireland as I do, he would know that the worst and the most effective enemies of the reconciliation and the loyalty of Ireland to England are the British garrisons who confounded religious and race ascend-ancy—
I take it from your gentle reminder that I have wandered outside. So I apologise and immediately return to the subject. Still, within the Rule I can make the point that a more monstrous and absurd doctrine I never heard than that we have heard enunciated—that a man, because he is a loyalist, can burn down houses, threaten his political opponents and even kill them, but he is not to be asked to pay because he is a loyal friend of this country. That is what the argument comes to. Take another point in illustration. I think the settlement is a settlement which will bear rigid examination. There is a Commission presided over by a distinguished and perfectly impartial judge in the person of Lord Shaw. That Commission has a right to deal with all these claims, and everyone knows it will deal with them impartially. I consider that a very great and necessary saving. There are other points as to the expulsion of workmen from the Belfast shipyards, into which subject I will not enter. What compensation are these men to get? It is no answer to say that they were of different political opinions from the majority of the other workmen there. They were condemned for weeks and months to walk the streets of Belfast hungry and idle, and if it had not been for the charity not of Belfast—is there an hon. Member opposite who gave a single subscription to the support of the expelled Catholic workers from the yard of Harland and Wolff? Was there any Vote suggested in the Parliament now functioning for the relief of these men? No. These men are alive to-day and their wives and children have not died of starvation because of the charity of the world and especially of America.
Yes, I know that. What is the justification of this claim? I take it that the justification was stated by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Captain Craig). A murder was committed at Lisburn. I agree that a murder could not have been committed under more brutal or foul or provocative conditions. Everybody knows that I have no responsibility for the policy of violence on the one side or the other in Ireland. I dare say there is some remorse in the minds of those who, by neglecting the advice we gave them, and the constitutional method we adopted, have brought about the present state of things. But what is the defence? It is, that when this murder was committed the citizens of Lisburn "saw red." Is "seeing red" a safe excuse to give for rioting and burning? If it be safe in Ireland, is it also safe in England? If we adopt a doctrine of the hon. and gallant Member for South Antrim, in defence of the action of the citizens of Lisburn, that because we "see red "we are entitled to burn down scores of houses and to impoverish and expel scores of people who happen to be of a different religion, I would remind him that there are 2,000,000 of men unemployed in England to-day. I hope they will not read anything about this doctrine. I would be sorry if, because they "saw red," they were to adopt the policy of Lisburn, which the hon. and gallant Member, their representative, has adopted today. In his speech he justified the claim to the Vote under this Estimate by stating that the murder was not committed, so far as his information went, by any of the people of Lisburn. Therefore, you have this extraordinary doctrine: that because some people come from a distance for the fell and diabolical purpose of committing assassination, the innocent people of the town, who may happen to be of the same religion and may share, to a certain extent, their political opinions, are to be looted and expelled and their property burned, and the miscreants who have been guilty of the lawlessness, because they "saw red," are to come and beg and obtain from the Government the payment of the damages which ought to have been paid by the ratepayers who did the damage. I come to another point as to the difference in the two methods of dealing with the matter. There is to be a Commission. Who are responsible for the distribution of this money in the Northern counties of Ireland?
The money has already been allotted by the proper judicial Courts, as recognised in the North of Ireland and in this country. The various county councils and district councils have to meet the claims.
I will have a comment to make on that presently. Is all the money which is to be given by the county councils in accord with the awards already made by the judicial authorities? Is that the way the money is to be distributed?
I want to deal with a point raised by another hon. Member. It will be much more satisfactory to deal with the whole subject in my reply later, as the answer will be rather long.
I do not wish to interfere with the personal convenience of the Chief Secretary. You have a Commission in one place to guarantee the impartial distribution of this fund. I think you are doing a great wrong to future peace and good will, which is badly wanted between the warring creeds, if you teach them the lesson that they can burn down the house of their political opponents and that, instead of having to pay for the damage out of their own pockets, they can do it with impunity because they have the rich purse of England behind them to bear the burdens which are justly and honestly theirs. Again, we find an extraordinary phenomenon in the attitude which hon. Gentlemen opposite representing constituencies in the North of Ireland are able to take up in this House. They do not apologise, or they apologise rather weakly for all these dreadful occurrences in the part of the country in which they live. If it be proposed by the right hon. Gentleman that the distribution of this money is to be left in the hands of the Northern Government, I ask what hope or chance of justice have the followers of my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) from such a tribunal. There is a Government—now some months in existence—a Government which was to have been a model to all Ireland and even to all the world for law-abiding, and yet the streets of Belfast are wet with blood and that Government stands there and has not been able to prevent it. I do not suppose. the supporters of my hon. Friend the Member for the Falls Division (Mr. Devlin) will have the least faith in their distribution and adjustment of these claims, and for that reason, though I do not in the least object to my countrymen getting as much money as they can out of England under legitimate conditions, I will vote against this grant as equally unfair to the people of England and to the people of Ireland generally.
I wish to point out what seems to me a very curious contrast between the attitude which the Government take up as regards loss of property in Northern Ireland and the attitude which they have taken up regarding loss of property in other parts of these countries. A different policy seems to be adopted according to whether the people concerned are law-abiding or otherwise. Over a year ago there was a tremendous hurricane on the west coast of Scotland—
The hon. Member may attack this Vote on the ground that it does not conform to the practice in other parts of the country, if he is able to justify that practice, which I gather, in this case, he is not.
It has already been pointed out that in the North of Ireland the Government are paying compensation to people who do away with each other's property, Catholics versus Protestants. I have both Catholics and Protestants in my constituency, and on the occasion to which I refer had they burned each other s houses they would probably have been able, with success, to claim compensation, but because the damage was done as the result of a hurricane, for which they had no responsibility, they got nothing.
It was directed by the Prince of the power of the air who is the source of all malice. I say this is a premium upon lawlessness and an encouragement to these men in the North of Ireland to burn each other's property and therefore I object to it. They ought to pay for their own fun. This is really a form of entertainment in which Irishmen indulge. We here are taxed if we go to an entertainment and we are now being asked to pay for this particular form of entertainment for Ireland as well. [HON. MEMBERS: "The North of Ireland!"] Certainly, the North of Ireland, but in any case, I object to the policy of paying for other people's fun, and I do not see why law-abiding people should be compelled to pay for this sort of thing which the Government of Northern Ireland ought to have been able to control.
I hope the Committee will allow me a few minutes to answer some points raised in the course of this interesting Debate. I informed the hon. Member for Falls Division that this grant of money to the Northern Government for malicious injuries included payments for injury to person as well as damage to property. The hon. Member seemed to have in his mind that it was restricted entirely to property. That is not so. In the case of Southern Ireland, His Majesty's Government assumed responsibility for all damage done to property by their forces and the Provisional Government assumed responsibility for the acts of their supporters. The hon. Member for the Falls Division and several other hon. Members apparently do not quite clearly see why the two parts of Ireland are treated differently. It is because the fundamental circumstances are different. The representatives of Southern Ireland agreed to a Commission, and I think that is a sensible and proper way of dealing with these matters in Southern Ireland. A Commission was essential to examine the eases because they were not defended in a Court of Law. In the North of Ireland, where the legal and administrative machinery never broke down during the recent troubles, cases were contested in an open Court of Law, in which the defendant—usually the county council—could support the position of the ratepayers; therefore no Commission is necessary to decide what a person who got an award in these circumstances should ultimately receive. He has his legal claim against the local rating authority because of the fact that in Northern Ireland the legal machinery and the Courts of Justice never failed.
Is this grant of £1,500,000 given to meet the claims of those who have suffered in connection with this war in Ulster? If so, what compensation is to be given to all those people who have suffered through being driven from their employment, and who should be as much entitled to compensation as people whose businesses were destroyed?
The hon. Member and I are (healing with two different facts. This is a grant of £750,000 to assist the Northern Government, through the local authorities who represent the ratepayers, to meet the demands made upon the local authorities under the Criminal Injuries Acts passed by this House and administered by the Northern Government. Unless a man has an action at law under the Malicious Injuries Acts, he does not benefit by this £750,000. That is perfectly clear.
This is for the class of men, women or orphans who, by reason of the recent troubles in Northern Ireland, have suffered malicious injuries and have got an award from the County Court. That award will be honoured by the local authority. This grant will assist the Northern Government, with whom alone we can deal, to relieve the local ratepayers of what would otherwise be such an oppressive burden that it would bankrupt almost every county in Northern Ireland. As to the question of the expelled workers, I am sorry that I cannot raise it on this Vote. It would be out of order to do so. The hon. Member for the Falls Division must know that an agreement was recently arrived at between the Chairman of the Provisional Government, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and His Majesty's Government, under which the Committee will be asked in the next Vote to give a grant of £500,000 to relieve, as far as they can be relieved, those expelled workers. It was also agreed among the parties that every effort should be made to bring back these expelled workers, not only to their work, but to their homes.
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly inform me whether or not some proportion of this grant with which we are dealing, is to be applied to those terrifically hard cases to which I have referred and about which I have read communications to the House?
With all respect, Sir, it cannot be dealt with on the next Vote, for this reason, that the next Vote is for the purpose of providing employment. My case is that a number of people have been damaged in person and in liberty and placed in a state of absolute desolation in which they cannot work and in which they apparently have no redress. I want to know if they are to receive anything out of the money now being voted by Parliament?
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary whether, in fact, on the next Vote it is proposed to allot part of the sum therein set down for this purpose?
If the Chairman will permit me to read the actual terms of the Agreement, I will make clear what it is proposed to do in the next Vote. This is only for information. I quite agree that it is out of order. In the next Vote we are asking the Committee to give us £500,000 for the Ministry of Labour for Northern Ireland, to be expended principally on relief works; one-third for the benefit of Roman Catholics and two-thirds for the benefit of Protestants. As the hon. Member for the Falls Division knows, that is roughly the correct proportion. The Northern Ministry will use every effort to secure the return to their homes of persons who have been expelled
the advice of the Committee mentioned in Article 5 to be sought in cases of difficulty; and in view of the special conditions consequent on the political situation in Belfast and neighbourhood, the British Government will submit to Parliament a Vote riot exceeding £500,000 for the Ministry of Labour of Northern Ireland, to he expended exclusively on relief work, one-third for the benefit of Roman Catholics and two-thirds for the benefit of Protestants. The Northern signatories agree to use every effort to secure the restoration of the expelled workers, and wherever this proves impracticable at the moment owing to trade depression, they will he afforded employment on the relief works referred to in this Article, so far as the one-third limit will; allow Protestant ex- service men to be given first preference in respect of the two-thirds of the said fund.
Therefore, a proportion of £500,000 is specifically applicable to the expelled workers referred to, and I think the matter ought to be raised on the next Vote. With reference to the point taken by the hon. Member for the Falls Division,
about one unhappy victim finding himself too late to apply to the Court for redress, I would say that he ought to change his lawyer. Under the Act passed by this House in 1920 a man can apply to the Court if he has had good reason for delay, such as prolonged illness, inadequate means, or absence from this country, and the Court will hear his case.
It is not bound to do so, but it is within the discretion of the Court. As the Noble Lord has raised the point, I will read the Section of the Act of 1920. It says:
The powers of the Court.…shall include power to extend or vary the time prescribed by any Statute.
It is within the power of the Court to do that, and I have never known a case where such power has not been exercised.
Certainly, every Court has its own discretion. The cases will be subject to the discretion of the Court. I should be glad if the hon. Member would send me the hard cases he speaks of.
You have got no answer yet. It is under consideration. The matter is a very serious one, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will acquit me of any reluctance to deal with it.
The right hon. Gentleman has always been very courteous and prompt in reply. I have sent on several cases during the last six months, and they are under consideration. For instance, a poor man going out to his work at 6.30 in the morning was shot dead. The coroner's jury, which was made up of men of absolutely different religions, strongly recommended the Government to compensate his wife and children, but they have never done so.
If it is a question of the Northern Government, I cannot interfere. The hon. Member must make up his mind that Home Rule carries with it certain disadvantages. The hon. Gentleman cannot come to this Committee with an isolated case of a kind which should be dealt with by the Northern Government.
If I understood the terms on which this sum of £500,000, as dealt with in the next Vote, can be expended, it can only be applied to providing work. What are you going to do by way of compensation to trade unions who have given out-of-work pay to those men who have been expelled from their work in Northern Ireland?
That point cannot arise on the present Vote. Nothing in this Vote can possibly affect the case referred to by the right lion. Gentleman. I know of no Vote that is going to compensate trade unions for paying out-of-work pay to their members who were unhappily driven from their work in Belfast by their fellow-workers, also trade unionists, because of differences of religion. No Government can assume such a responsibility.
Then that means that certain sections of the people in Northern Ireland are not to be treated in the same manner as are other sections by the provision of this money by Parliament?
Any section of the people in Northern Ireland can, under the law, go into the courts and make a claim under the Criminal Injuries Act, and if successful they will be entitl3d to compensation from this Vote. This money, however, is not for the purpose of recouping trade unions which have paid out-of-work expenses due to the conflict that arose in July, 1920, principally in Belfast. That was a conflict among workmen, very often members of the same trade union. The Government and the employers did their best to stop it, but it was impossible. At any rate, the matter does not come up under this Vote, or, indeed, any other that I know of. I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has been frank in putting his question, and I should be very interested to hear him suggest a Vote of public money to recoup trade unions for out-of-work pay which they have expended upon their own members as the result of a conflict amongst them.
May I put this point? The Chief Secretary says he would like to see me put forward a claim. Evidently he cannot understand a claim of the kind to which I have already referred being put forward on behalf of that section of the people of Northern Ireland. If these men's property were destroyed, and their work taken from them, and if they had to be recouped by their particular trade union, why should I not put forward a claim for them, or for anyone else, when other people are being compensated out of money voted by this Parliament?
On a point of Order. May I draw your attention, Sir, to the term of the Vote, which says that this money which we are asked to vote to the Northern Government is in respect of compensation for damages to life and property arising out of the disturbed conditions in Ireland? The right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson) has drawn attention to such a case, and I submit that any argument in support of that case is in order under the terms of the Vote.
The CHAIR MAN:
The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) is mistaken. This is a Grant-in-Aid to the Government of Northern Ireland in respect of compensation for damages arising out of the disturbed condition of Ireland. That is, compensation for damages awarded by the courts, which would otherwise be chargeable on the ratepayers of Northern Ireland.
This matter is quite important, and it is quite certain that the honoured occupant of the Chair will give full and ample opportunity for discussing a point of Order. The point I wish to put is this. How can it arise that the word "compensation," to which you, Sir, have just directed attention, can only arise out of compensation which can come from judgments delivered by the Courts? How can anybody in this House say that the Courts will not take cognisance of such a claim as that which has been put before the Committee by the right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Adamson)? How can the Chief Secretary say so? It may be that these Courts will take these matters into their cognisance. I do not know anybody in the Committee authorised to say that they will not. Therefore, with much submission, I would suggest that this is a matter which is in order for discussion on this Vote.
The law of compensation for damage in Northern Ireland is known. It is to recoup the authorities in Ireland for such compensation as they awarded under that law, and it cannot have reference to any other kind of compensation but that which arises under the existing law of compensation. Any case which the Court may have judged upon, of course would be a matter under which part of this grant could he awarded, but not otherwise.
The main fact is that anybody who has a claim under the Criminal Injuries Acts can bring that claim to a County Court, and if he gets an award, he is entitled to his share in this money which I am asking the Committee to grant. The hon. and gallant Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Lieut.-Colonel J. Ward) advanced an argument with regard to Southern Ireland. I will only deal with it from the point of comparison, as he erred in his statement of the case. The Provisional Government of Ireland are quite prepared to pay for the damage to property done by their supporters in Ireland. Such damage, therefore, will not be paid for by the British Government. The hon. Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman) asked if any conditions were attached to an award by a County Court judge under the Criminal Injuries Acts in Northern Ireland. It is possible, I admit, for such a judge, subject to appeal, to attach certain qualifications. I cannot go into a long legal lecture on this matter, but the law is well established throughout the whole of Ireland as to what those qualifications and conditions are.
The hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) raised a very important point, which I am going to do my best to answer. He wants to know what is the total damage or cost to this country of the financial settling up of the whole of Ireland. I agree with him that the cost is large. Most of it, I believe, is provided for in the Budget, and subject to the point made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) in regard to the future, which no man can clearly read in Ireland, the cost can be approximately given. The money I am asking the Committee to vote now is £750,000 this year, and there will be £750,000 next year. The next Vote on the Paper to-day amounts to £1,500,000, which is the Grant-in-Aid for certain purposes in Northern Ireland which cannot be discussed now. Then, there is the Estimate of £2,000,000 already on the Paper to compensate all Crown supporters who have suffered personal injury in Ireland. That amounts to nearly £5,000,000 in all. The claims in respect of damage to property lodged in Southern Ireland approximate to some £11,000,000. If we follow the precedents in these matters, we, the taxpayers of the British Isles, shall, I hopefully anticipate, have the expenses reduced by 50 per cent., because in Ireland, as elsewhere, people who make claims for damages before county or other courts generally put their claim at a.figure above that which the judge may consider fair. This amounts to a great total of something like £10,000,000 or £11,000,000. Whether that means that this is the last claim that will be made upon this House in respect of Ireland it is impossible fur me or anyone else to say with certainty.
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say there was a Vote of £750,000 now, one of a similar sum coming on next year, and other Votes making £5,000,000. He then dealt with Southern Ireland and mentioned a sum of £10,000,000. Does that mean that the whole of Ireland will receive £15,000,000?
I said there are Estimates before the House amounting to £5,000,000, subject to this £750,000 payable next year, and that claims lodged in Southern Ireland approximate to £11,000,000. I have said I hope these are exaggerated by 50 per cent., but the price of trying to make peace in Ireland will cost the House at least £5,000,000 this year apart from the subsequent further expense in respect of the property claims that amount to £11,000,000 in all, part of which will be payable by us and part by the Irish Government.
No. I am sorry I did not make myself clear, but this is an important matter, and the Committee has every reason to be critical of this continuous expenditure in Ireland. I quite agree for myself, and the Government feels that it is its duty to limit this expenditure as far as it possibly can, but after all we have certain obligations, legal and moral, and no one can say what the future demands on this House may be if, for instance, thousands of innocent people who look to this country for support and help should unhappily be driven out of that country. Such contingencies as that are not provided for, but subject to those contingencies, which no man can foresee, there are already on the Paper Estimates for £5,000,000 for this year, subject to the fact that £750,000 are payable next year. Then, as to the claims for malicious injuries to property in Southern Ireland, they approximate to £11,000,000, but how much of that will be payable this year, and how much by His Majesty's Government, and how much by the Provisional Government, I cannot say.
They are not against our Government at all, but against the local authorities under the Criminal Injuries Act. They are all subject to revision by Lord Shaw's Commission, except a few defended cases. How much of this sum will be due and payable this year I cannot say, but the total British indebtedness, spread over this year and possibly the next two years, I hope will not amount to more than 50 per cent. of the claims made against us. The right hon. Member for Greenock wanted to know how the money is expended in Northern Ireland. A county court makes an award to an applicant, who claims to have been maliciously injured in person or property. That award of the Court is a legal claim against the local rating authority, and in Northern Ireland the person who gets the award can go into the nearest bank and get an advance on it, because it is a first-class claim and good security as against the local authority.
No; the rating authority spreads the rate over five years, but the person who gets the award has a legal claim against the authorities. As these awards were contested in the North, the Government came to the conclusion—I submit rightly—that it would be better to make this block grant. to the Northern Government in complete and absolute discharge of any liability, alleged or otherwise, that the Northern Government may have against the Imperial Government for these malicious damages arising out of the conflict in Ireland. That was considered the best way, and I am asking the Committee to approve that agreement and to make this grant in discharge of any liability that may be upon the Imperial Government for damages in Northern Ireland. When the Northern Government get this money, I have no doubt they will do their best with the local authorities and with the holders of awards to come to some agreement. Such holders, in the meantime, have a complete legal claim against the local authority. I think the arrangement is fair, and I think the amount is a reasonable amount to ask this House to bear. There is no discrimination in the matter as between Homan Catholics and Protestants.
What is the use, when the Courts in the North have worked continuously and the local authorities have paid regularly? This is not for the relief of the Courts, but for the relief of the ratepayers, and as we have relieved the ratepayers in the South, so we think we ought to relieve them in the North.
The awards in the South were never defended, and that is the whole point. My submission is that this Estimate of £750,000 is reasonable in fact and fair to all parties, and it certainly does not discriminate against persons of different religion or politics.
|Division No. 107.]||AYES.||[7.25 P.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis 0.||Gillis, William||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Graham, R. (Nelson and Colne)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Or. Christopher||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Banton, George||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hallas, Eldred||Robertson, John|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Halls, Walter||Royce, William Stapleton.|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James|
|Bell, James (Lancaster, Ormskirk)||Hayward, Evan||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Spencer, George A.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Irving, Dan||Spoor, B. G.|
|Bromfield, William||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Sutton, John Edward|
|Cairns, John||Johnstone, Joseph||Swan, J. E.|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Kennedy, Thomas||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kenyon, Barnet||Waterson, A. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lawson, John James||Watts-Morgan, Lieut. Col. D.|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Lunn, William||White, Charles F. (Derby, Western)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wignall, James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Wilson, James (Dudley)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. w. (Stourbridge)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth. Bedwellty)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, South)||Myers, Thomas|
|Finney, Samuel||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Mr. Hogge and Mr. T. Griffiths.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Edge, Captain Sir William||Hope, Sir H. (Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn, W.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Amery, Leopold C. M. S.||Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Home, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Evans, Ernest||Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Howard, Major S. G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Falie, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Fildes, Henry||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Foreman, Sir Henry||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Forestler-Walker, L.||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Bigland, Alfred||Forrest, Walter||Jones. G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Birchall, J. Dearman||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Keliaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk. George|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Kidd, James|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Gange, E. Stanley||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gardiner, James||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)|
|Briggs, Harold||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tlngd'n)|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Goff, Sir R. Park||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gould, James C.||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Burgoyne, Lt.-Col. Alan Hughes||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel w. R.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Casey, T. W.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Birm., Aston)||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||McMicking, Major Gilbert|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Gregory, Holman||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W).||Greig, Colonel Sir James William||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James 1.|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Gretton, Colonel John||Macqulsten, F. A.|
|Clough, Sir Robert||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Cobb, Sir Cyrll||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hallwood, Augustine||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Martin, A. E.|
|Cope, Major William||Hancock, John George||Mason, Robert|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Matthews, David|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.|
|Craig, Capt. C. C. (Antrim, South)||Haslam, Lewis||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hayes, Hugh (Down, W.)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Morrison, Hugh|
|Davies. Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Murray, C. D. (Edinburgh)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Neal, Arthur|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Hinds, John||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Wallace, J.|
|Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Walton, J. (York. W. R., Don Valley)|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Seager, Sir William||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Pain, Brig-Gen. Sir W. Hacket||Seddon, J. A.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Pearce, Sir William||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||White, Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castte-on-T.)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Smith, Sir Malcolm (Orkney)||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Perring, William George||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Stanton, Charles Butt||Wilson, Field-Marshal Sir Henry|
|Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Stewart, Gershom||Windsor, Viscount|
|Pratt, John William||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Wise, Frederick|
|Purchase, H. G.||Sturrock, J. Lena||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Sugden, W. H.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill (High Peak)|
|Reid, D. D.||Surtees, Brigadier-Genera H. C.||Worsfold, T. Cato|
|Remer, J. R.||Sutherland, Sir William||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Taylor, J.||Young, E. H. (Norwich)|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hertford)||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Rodger, A. K.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell (Maryhill)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Tickler, Thomas George||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Townley, Maximilian G||McCurdy.|