Kidnapped British Officers.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 23rd May 1922.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the precise terms of the representations which have been.made to the Provisional Government for Southern Ireland with regard to the three British officers and private who were kidnapped last month; and what action has so far been taken by the Provisional Government to ascertain the fate of these four British citizens in the pay of the Crown?

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there is as yet any news of the three officers and one private kidnapped at Macroom; if not, what steps are being taken by the Provisional Government to ascertain their fate; whether the Government have reason to think that they are still alive; and can their names now be given?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I will answer this question and No. 34 together. I regret that I am still without information in regard to the fate of these men, but it is obviously undesirable, and could serve no useful purpose, for me to disclose the precise terms of the representation made to the Provisional Government, or the exact steps taken by the Provisional Government in pursuance of their investigations. I must ask the House to accept my assurance that everything possible is being done by His Majesty's Government in the matter. The names of those kidnapped are as follow:—

Photo of Viscount  Curzon Viscount Curzon , Battersea South

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the third part of the question—whether the Government have reason to think that these officers and one man are still alive?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I am afraid that those British authorities in Ireland to whom we handed the matter and who have been endeavouring to trace these officers, have maintained a growing depression of hope of that.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman give the House some information as to what has happened to the motor-car these officers were in, or what was the last news the Government officials had with regard to these officers? Great anxiety is felt in the matter.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Every effort is being made by His Majesty's Government to have the matter unravelled, and every effort will continue to be made.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

Having regard to the grave danger incurred by soldiers returning to Ireland to their homes, will the right hon. Gentleman postpone the disbandment of the Irish regiments?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley Lieut-Colonel Wilfrid Ashley , Fylde

If, unhappily, it proves that these unfortunate officers and this man, have been murdered, will compensation be paid to their relatives; and, if so, who will find the money—the British taxpayer or the Provisional Government?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I have received a letter from the Provisional Government in regard to the expenses which are to be disbursed on behalf of refugees from Ireland now in this country, in which the Provisional Government express appreciation of the fact that the British Government has undertaken this task in the first instance, and complete readiness to defray the expenses on their part. I am. certain, if no serious turn takes place in the general relations between the two Governments, that matters of this kind must be dealt with and will be dealt with, if not by one Government, certainly by the other.

Photo of Mr Ronald McNeill Mr Ronald McNeill , Canterbury

Has the right hon. Gentleman received a strong opinion from a source not likely to be misinformed, that there officers were murdered immediately after they were taken?

Photo of Mr John Rawlinson Mr John Rawlinson , Cambridge University

What has the Provisional Government done in regard to these officers? Have they taken any really effective steps to find out what happened to them?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

They have done everything in their power, as far as I have been able to ascertain, but the part of the country in which these murders—if murders there have been—took place, is a part of the country which has been completely out of their control; they have not had the least control or authority there.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

In that connection, will the right hon. Gentleman consider my suggestion as to not disbanding these men at present?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

These are not disbanded men; they are officers who were on active service.

Photo of Mr Thomas Adair Mr Thomas Adair , Glasgow Shettleston

I know that, but is it not the fact that the Irish regiments are to be disbanded very shortly; and should this matter not be considered?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The hon. and gallant Member had better put that question down.