Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £33,579, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1923, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Irish Office, including certain Allowances for Disturbance, etc., and for Sundry Services in Ireland."— [Note: £83,500 has been voted on account.]
On a point of Order. This is the Vote of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. May we understand that the Debate will deal with all points affecting Irish policy and the action of the Government in relation to Ireland; and also that we shall not be restricted or prohibited from discussing on this Vote the effects of Irish policy in this country?
It will be in order on this Vote to discuss the Irish policy of the Government and any matter of Irish administration as long as it is subsidised by this country, or has not been de facto handed over to either of the Irish Governments. But, if I correctly interpret what is in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member, I would say that it will not be in order on this Vote to discuss the administration of the Criminal Investigation Department in England, nor of the Metropolitan Police.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN (Leader of the House):
After that ruling, perhaps I should be carrying out the wish of the Committee if I at once moved to report Progress, and then moved the Adjournment of the House, in order that discussion might take the widest possible scope. If that be the wish of the House, I will do so.
I am only anxious to give the House the occasion it desires, and which will serve its purpose. I understood the question of my hon. and gallant Friend to indicate a desire on the part of the House to give wider scope to the discussion than you, Mr. Chairman, were prepared to give it. I am bound to say that I think the House ought to have the amplest latitude that its Rules allow in such a case as the Debate to-day.
I did not intend to indicate any desire on the part of the House for either one course of action or another. I was endeavouring to elicit information. I understand that the Leader of the House desires to move the Adjournment of the House. If the Government elect to take that course, I shall certainly not oppose it. If, on the other hand, they decide to proceed with the Vote for the Chief Secretary's salary, under the limitation which the Chairman has indicated, I would request the Government, when that Vote is disposed of, to move the Adjournment, in order that other matters may be discussed.
I certainly trust that, as we have now gone into Committee, the Chief Secretary's salary will be put to the vote, and that we shall be allowed to vote for a reduction of it before we go into any other question or before we discuss the Adjournment of the House. There is a large number of Members who desire to express their disapprobation of the method and manner of the Government's policy in Ireland in the only way that this House can do it, namely, by moving to reduce the Vote of that Member of the Government who is responsible for the policy carried out in Ireland. He is the instrument of the Government's policy. We have got him here, we can reduce his salary, and put on record in the Division Lobby the names of those hon. Members who see that the result of this policy will lead to the disintegration of the Empire and more murders here in England. Do not let us lose that opportunity. If it be desired to discuss any further question, we can have another day, or, after we have reduced the salary, we can move the Adjournment, and discuss other matters. I shall certainly go into the Division Lobby against the Motion to report Progress, and I do earnestly trust that this House, will not allow itself to be pushed on one side by an attempt to move the Adjournment when only a desultory Debate can ensue and when no Division can take place except upon the Question, "That this House do now adjourn," which would be an absurd result, and would not indicate the feelings either of the country or of this House.
May I preface my remarks by reverting for one moment to the question of Order on which you, Sir, have just given a ruling? It is certainly the desire of the Government that the Debate should be as full and free as possible, and that it should be a Debate capable of being terminated by a Division. The Leader of the House suggested that it might be a more convenient course to move to report Progress for the purpose of moving the Adjournment, but that was entirely in order to study the wishes of the House, and, since that, very reasonably, does not in some quarters meet with approbation, it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the Debate on the Chief Secretary's salary. It is quite impossible to do justice to that subject unless one be allowed in general terms to treat of all the great and tragic issues which have arisen in the course of the execution of the Irish policy, and while, of course, I shall endeavour most carefully to bear in mind the admonition which has come from you in regard to matters which have been definitely transferred to the responsibility of the Provisional Government in Ireland, I trust that I shall be permitted to deal generally with the topics of absorbing interest on which the House at the present time desires to express its opinion in Debate and its decision in a Division. I will keep, as carefully as I can, within the limits which you have prescribed.
There are two issues before us this afternoon, different in scale, but both of great interest. There is the important series of questions connected with the means which have been taken, or ought to have been taken, for protecting individuals in this country against assassination by the Irish murder gang which is now operating, and which has been brought to our notice by the hateful crime committed a few days ago. Then there is the much larger issue which is the main topic of our discussion, namely, the general position in which our Irish policy stands at the present moment, having regard to the new circumstances which have been created in Ireland, and also in this country, since I last addressed the House on this subject on the eve of the Whitsuntide Recess. I hope that I shall be permitted by the Committee, within the limits of your ruling, as I claim the right, to develop my statement on both these issues in accordance with what I believe to be their true proportion and their proper relation, in order that the Committee may hereafter in the Debate, with the whole picture before them, select such points as they wish to emphasise, and may do so with a proper appreciation of the situation as a whole.
I am going back a little in my narration. When, on the night of 6th December, 1921, we signed a Treaty with the plenipotentiaries of the Irish people, we had every right to believe, and every reason to believe, that the Irish signatories represented the settled view of the vast majority of the Dail and the united authority of the Sinn Fein Cabinet. But we learned almost immediately that Mr. de Valera and a very large number of his followers repudiated the action taken by his own plenipotentiaries, and the Treaty was only carried through the Dail, after prolonged wrangling, by a majority of seven votes. At the same time the Irish people, by every means and method open to them, loudly expressed their agreement with the Treaty and their earnest desire that good and peaceful relations should be established with the British people on the basis of that Treaty. Such was the situation when I became responsible, as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee, for the general direction of Irish policy.
The first great object of the policy to which we devoted ourselves was to procure for the Irish people, as speedily as possible, a free election at which they could express the views which we believed them to hold and which, as events have shown, they did hold, and do hold. We therefore pressed upon the Provisional Government the importance and urgency of an election which alone could give them the status of a national administration and which alone could enable them to govern with native authority. Mr. de Valera, knowing himself to be in a minority in Ireland and in a small minority, set to work by every means in his power to obstruct, to delay, and, if possible, to prevent, such an election. For this purpose, he had recourse to the so-called Irish Republican Army. The Irish Republican Army was an association of persons for the purpose of organising attacks upon the Crown forces, ranging from individual murders up to considerable ambuscades. It is not capable, and has not at any time been capable, of fighting any serious action according to the rules of war. Nevertheless, it contains a considerable number of men perfectly ready to suffer imprisonment and execution for what they consider to be their cause.
This so-called army was divided in opinion just as much as was the Dail, and yet it was the only organisation at the disposal of the Provisional Government for the maintenance of peace and order. The Provisional Government were therefore forced, or led, into a series of weak and unsatisfactory compromises in regard to the so-called Irish Republican Army. The influence Mr. de Valera had obtained over the militant Republican section of that force enabled him to defy the Provisional Government in many parts of the country, to create a series of criminal episodes, and to destroy the capacity of the Provisional Government to hold a free election. The Provisional Government were consequently forced to make further accommodations with Mr. de Valera, by which, in March last, they agreed to postpone the election for three months, relying on the promise of Mr. de Valera that then the election should be free, that in the meanwhile the army should act unitedly under the orders of the Provisional Government, and that it should not interfere in the election and not oppose by force any Government returned at that election.
We, the Imperial Government—His Majesty's Government—saw ourselves forced to acquiesce in these arrangements, little though we liked them, little confidence though we had in their wisdom, and amending legislation, as the Committee will remember, was presented to Parliament and was approved by Parliament. Our object and our policy all the time continued to be to obtain a free expression of opinion from the Irish Electorate without creating partisanship by British interference. Right or wrong, that was our view. Right or wrong, in that view we were supported by Parliament. But Mr. de Valera had no sooner made this promise, not to us, but to his fellow-countrymen, than he proceeded to break it and to cheat them, and, necessarily, in a country where all authority had fallen into disrepute, utter disrepute —[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"!]—I am not going to avoid the plainest language which is necessary to the subject—where all authority had fallen into utter disrepute, many other people, even more irresponsible than Mr. de Valera, sprang forward to assert themselves and claim a share. Everything was done by Mr. de Valera and his friends to weaken and discredit the Provisional Government, to create disorder throughout the country, and to embroil Southern Ireland with Ulster. For this purpose, the mutinous or irregular portion of the Irish Republican Army was always available, and around and behind them gathered, as I explained to the House on the eve of the Whitsuntide Adjournment, those predatory and criminal elements which exist in every society and come to lead in times of revolution.
Two so-called divisions of the Irish Republican Army were located in Ulster, and these divisions were most improperly maintained as organisations in spite of the truce, in spite of the Treaty, and in spite of the fact that the evacuation of the British Army from Southern Ireland was rapidly and steadily proceeding. Whether the Provisional Government had the inclination or the wish to dissolve and disperse that unlawful organisation inside Ulster territory or not, I cannot tell, but if they had the inclination, I am sure they had not the power. The Ulster Government, therefore, saw themselves confronted with the existence of an active conspiracy in their midst, a conspiracy the object of which was to make their task of maintaining a separate Government impossible, while from over the border serious raids occurred with the threat that raids would be continued.
It would be idle to pretend that the hostile attitude and action of the mutinous Irish Republican Army within Northern Ireland and on the borders were not readily met in an equally combative, bellicose spirit by the Protestant Orangemen of the North. Every outrage committed by the Irish Republican Army or by Catholic elements, was repaid with bloody interest. Provocation, reprisals, and counter-reprisals have now built up a ghastly score on both sides, in which, no doubt, the Catholics, being numerically weaker, have got the worst of it, and have suffered about double as many casualties as the Protestants. No doubt if either side would stop for a month tranquillity would be restored, and justice would overtake the guilty; but we have never been able to obtain sufficient breathing space. There has always been an overlap of atrocity and outrage, the squaring of which has started the hideous process over again. However, I do not hesitate to say that the prime and continuing cause of all the horrors which have taken place in Belfast is the organisation of these two divisions of the Irish Republican Army in Northern territory, and the continuous effort made by the extreme partisans of the South, to break down the Northern Government and force Ulster against her will to come under the rule of Dublin.
I have tried to hold an even balance here—though, no doubt, with equal dissatisfaction to both sides—in regard to particular episodes, and I wish to make it perfectly clear that the position which His Majesty's Government have adopted has never undergone any change or modification, and will not undergo in principle any change or modification. In our view, the Northern Government has to be supported effectively and at all costs against any attempt to coerce them into submission to the South. It was natural, no doubt, that the Sinn Fein extremists, having seen the success which attended their attacks on British authority in the 26 counties, should think it a very easy matter by a continuance of those same methods to break down what was a much smaller, and apparently a much weaker organisation of government, in the North. Having, as they thought, humiliated and broken down the mighty British Empire and forced it to make an accommodation with them, they thought it would be an easy matter to make the position of a separate Ulster Government impossible, and by shooting public men and burning buildings, and creating continuous terror, so to weary out and impoverish the Government and the citizens of the North that, for the sake of a quiet life, they would be willing to submit themselves to Sinn Fein rule.
I have always endeavoured to make it perfectly clear that they would never succeed in this policy. For reasons of high State policy involving the position of the whole British Empire in its relation to the rest of the world, we decided to give Irishmen in the 26 counties their opportunity of showing what they could do to make an ordered State. In this we were actuated, not as is ignorantly supposed in many parts of Ireland, by want of material power, not, I hope, as is suggested by our critics in this country, by want of courage and tenacity—we were actuated, the House was actuated, the nation was actuated, and the. House and the nation marched with us in this matter—we were actuated by a sincere and earnest desire to end the historic quarrel between the two islands and free our own good name from the reproach of being perpetually engaged in the coercion of a small people.
But in the North the position is quite different. There, the large majority of the people are bitterly opposed to the Sinn Feiners. There, the large majority ardently proclaim their loyalty and affection for this country, its Monarchy, its institutions and its Empire. Even if they were deserted by Britain they would fight desperately—and rightly—to preserve their freedom. But they will not be deserted by Britain. On the contrary, they will be aided, helped and strengthened with money, arms and men, to any extent that may be necessary to enable them to maintain their Parliamentary and political rights, and to defend themselves. We have, therefore, steadily strengthened the organisation of their police forces and we have supplied them in increasing quantities with all the arms and material they may require to make a powerful armed force for the defence, in any eventualities, of their hearths and homes.
I did not bring these facts in an emphatic manner before the House at earlier periods, when I have had to deal with the changing phases of this Irish policy, because I did not wish to add unnecessarily to the irritation and bitterness which exists, particularly in the South, against the support which this Government is giving continually to Ulster. But the time has now come when I should make, it clear and when the House has a right to know, that His Majesty's Government have supplied the Government of Northern Ireland with upwards of 50,000 stands of arms and all the equipment necessary for a defence force organised upon that scale. All this process was completed three or four weeks ago, and it constitutes the second half of the policy which we have been pursuing since the Treaty was signed. The first half, as I have said, was to give the Southern Irish every opportunity of saying freely whether they accepted or rejected the Treaty offer which we have made; the second inseparable part was to supply Ulster with the means which would prevent her from being forced to come into a Dublin Parliament unless and until she came into it—as I trust some day she, may—of her own free will.
Both these objects of policy have now been attained. Ulster is fully equipped, and Southern Ireland has had an opportunity of expressing its will at a General Election. We have therefore reached the conclusion of one stage in this story and the beginning of another. The conditions in this second stage will be different from what they have hitherto been. There will be no excuse in Ulster, now that the Northern Government has been strength- ened, and is effectually supported, for acts of lawless reprisal against the Catholic population in their midst. I rejoice to see that during the last two weeks Sir James Craig's Government has evidently gained much more effective control of the situation. We could not have a greater proof of that than that the horrible event which has just occurred in this country, and the murders of six or seven Protestants outside Belfast, and the further shooting in Belfast during the last 48 hours of Unionists, have not, so far, been attended with any violent outburst on the part of the great and overwhelmingly strong Protestant population, but that that population show themselves increasingly disposed to have confidence in their leaders and in the evidences of military strength, both on the frontier and in Belfast, which are and will be, believe me, continually presented to them.
I say I rejoice that the Northern Government are gaining increasing control from every point of view. Exposed first of all to attack by murder, they have been exposed latterly to attacks by incendiarism on a gigantic scale. The impression I have sustained from all the varied information placed at my disposal is that they are steadily breaking down, and wearing down and quelling both those forms of attack, i.e., murder and incendiarism. As this process continues, they will be able more and more to prevent and bring to an end the vile reprisals upon innocent Catholics—against their will, beyond their control—which have hitherto weakened their position and have weakened our position too. This is their plain duty, and the measure of support which we are giving to them is the measure of our right to be heard and attended to, when we address them on these matters. It seems to me clear that they are winning, and that, I understand, is the opinion of their leading men. But if this assertion is over-sanguine, if this hope is premature, then they will be given whatever further aid is necessary to enable them to make their authority absolutely effective throughout the six Counties, no matter what attacks are directed against them, nor how many persons on either side suffer in the process.
The situation on the frontier of Ulster is also much easier. Disturbances and inroads upon the western border threatened, a few weeks ago, to make it necessary for us to clear up the whole position in Donegal and to break up the Republican bands which are spreading ruin throughout that county. I am very glad to say the operations undertaken by His Majesty's Forces under the directions of the Government, in Pettigo and Belleek, have had the effect of clearing the border. A triple agreement has now been reached, between the British Government, the Provisional Government, and the Government of Northern Ireland, by which a neutral zone some four or five miles wide is to be established in the Pettigo and Belleek district. Within this zone no person is to be officially armed. No person is to be accredited by any Government with the right to bear arms, an unarmed police of a local character is to be established for local purposes, and the maintenance of order throughout the district is to be exclusively confided.to Imperial troops. The Imperial troops will be stationed as a shield between the two hostile and mutually explosive forces of the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Special Police. Any persons in this district found using arms will have no recognition or protection from any Government whatever, and will be liable to be shot by the troops on the mere fact being established. We hope in this way to tranquillise this sector of the Ulster frontier. The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil) will, no doubt, recollect that somewhat similar methods have been adopted in Silesia with very great success. If this experiment should succeed, we propose to extend it along the border, sector by sector, making, in each case, a local agreement, until, at the end, a complete shield of British troops and an adequate neutral zone will have been established between the hostile forces of Orange and Green.
I hope this experiment will succeed, but, of course, it may fail, as so much else has failed in Ireland. It may fail either locally or because of the pressure of larger external events. If it fails, if the good will that is required for the agreement and the good faith essential for its success are lacking, then it will be necessary for the Imperial Forces to draw a military line between Northern and Southern Ireland. We shall not be able to draw this line along the existing tortuous and absurd county boundaries. It will have to follow the best and most convenient chain of military positions, in this case indicated by long lines of lakes, rivers, and canals. Broadly speaking, the line would run from Dundalk to Ballyshannon, and it will intersect impartially both Free State and Northern territory according to military requirements. Such a line, owing to the configuration of the country, could be held with very much smaller forces, including, of course, the naval forces on the lakes, than are required at the present time to deal with the existing tortuous and sinuous artificial frontiers. I hope this may be avoided by the experiment which is now being begun in the Pettigo and Belleek area, but in this, as in all other matters, we shall endeavour to stand between the antagonists and to prevent the loss of life and the destruction of property, and by so doing to make it absolutely clear that any attempt from Southern Ireland to break into the territory of the Northern Government will he met and repulsed by the Imperial power.
The greedy and criminal design of breaking down the Northern Government, either by disorder from within or by incursion from without, has got to die in the hearts of those who nourish it, whatever may be the cost to individuals or to Governments. The Sinn Fein party has got to realise, once and for all, that they will never win Ulster except by her own free will, and that the more they kick against the pricks the worse it will be for them. That seems to me to be one of the main foundations of the Government's policy and a dominant factor in the situation. It is evident that during the last month there has been a rise in temperature and in pressure in Ireland and that the tension which has existed in the North during the climax of the struggle was calculated to bring again into special activity those forces in Ireland—not all on one side—which are accustomed to use murder as a political weapon, thereby lowering frightfully the status of their race and nation in the civilisation of the world. It was gradually becoming evident that prominent persons would be exposed to serious danger.
We must not, and we could not, of course, allow ourselves to be turned in the slightest degree from our main course of policy by any consideration of that kind, but the degree of protection which can be given to individuals in these circumstances deserved, and received, attentive consideration. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will, if events should so guide the Debate, and within the limits you, Sir, have prescribed, defend the action of his Department in regard to special allegations or imputations which have been made. I confine myself to placing a few general, broad considerations before the Committee. In January last, on the ratification of the Treaty by the Dail, we withdrew all protection extended to Ministers and other persons in this country. This measure had been recommended by Sir Basil Thomson a few weeks before, and it was entirely concurred in by all the persons concerned. I think there is no doubt that this decision was absolutely right. We have enjoyed five months' complete immunity, so far as this country is concerned, and even if we look back to the worst period of the Irish trouble a year ago—two years ago—we see that there were hardly any political assassinations over here in Great Britain.
Indeed I think there are few things of which this country can be more proud than that for so many years and generations they have not had their soil stained by these hideous crimes, and that is due to very deep causes in the national character, causes which have produced results which we see in our great position in every part of the globe. I do not know how far police protection can be effective for individuals so far as the saving of their lives is concerned. It can, however, make the commission of murderous crime much more difficult and the killing or capturing of the guilty much more swift and certain. To protect everyone who becomes obnoxious to a secret murder gang is impossible. To protect everybody who gets threatening letters is quite impossible. You would not know where to stop; you would not know where to begin. If 500 people were protected, there would still be others outside these limits who might easily be marked down. The care and the zeal with which Scotland Yard makes use of its necessarily limited resources has always impressed itself upon me, and, I expect, upon any others who have ever had to be placed under their guardianship.
It may be convenient at this point if I were to indicate what course the Debate should pursue. On the strict rules of order, of course, reference to the action of Scotland Yard would be out of order, but there are occasions on which I think a certain dispensing power, in the interests of the Members, is allowed to the Chair, and if no objection is taken by any body of opinion in this House, I would not apply the rules as, in the letter, undoubtedly they would have to be applied.
I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Hope, for your ruling. I trust my approaching this point will not be taken in the slightest sense as disrespectful to your ruling. I felt I was approaching rather the limits which you had assigned, and I was expecting that you would rise to intervene. I say that we have all been impressed with the care and zeal of the police authorities in looking after persons whose lives are thought to be in danger, but the difficulty of their task, both in distinguishing the probable objects of murder and in giving them effective protection at all times, is really self-evident. Moreover, a large proportion of persons who are in danger are extremely impatient of police protection, and are apt to be incredulous about the danger in which they stand, and many of them think it is right for them to disdain such forms of protection. Having regard to the fact that there has been no case of assassination of a prominent public man in England for generations, and that even in the height of the Irish struggle, no attempt was made upon the lives of public persons in this country, it is, to my mind, monstrous to make the tragical event and dastardly outrage which has just taken place the ground of attack upon the police authorities or upon my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
I admit to the Committee quite frankly that I recognised a fortnight ago—a week or 10 days ago—increasingly that the defeat of the extremists in the North, by the growing power of the Ulster Government and by the vigorous applications of British military force on the border, and the defeat of the extremists in the South by the clear pronouncement of the Irish people—of which I am going to speak in a few moments—I admit that this situation, and the excitement and tension consequent upon it, impressed themselves upon me as being likely to make it necessary to resume, and extend, the police protection to individuals, and to put in force many of those precautions which we had formerly used, but during the last six months had discontinued. Acting in this sense, we had already begun the protection of various persons, some of whom were Ministers and others—a larger number—of whom were private, unofficial persons, and in some cases humble persons, whose names I shall certainly not disclose. We had also arranged with the Northern Government to be kept fully informed of the movements of certain personages in the North, about whom, when they visited this country, we began to feel anxiety; and we should, of course, have welcomed any additions which the Northern Government themselves might have suggested to our list. These persons were in all cases protected.
No warning came to us from the Northern Government about the position of the late Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson. I should have thought myself that, while he was in the greatest danger in Ulster, going about Belfast and about the Border, he would not have been in any more danger in this country than 30 or 40 other persons whose names will readily occur to one's mind. However, we have been confronted with a shocking and abominable crime, and no doubt the resources of the State will be employed in a much fuller measure in the future than they have been during the prolonged immunity of the past, but this I will say, that we must put our main reliance, in the future as in the past, upon securities much broader than those which can be achieved by police protection. We must continue to show that assassination will not change the course of British policy and that in this robust and manly country murderers will be caught and delivered to speedy justice. Nothing could exceed the courage of the police and the spontaneous indignation of the loyal, vigorous population when they were confronted, all unarmed, with the heinous evidences of this crime. That fact is, in itself, a great deterrent upon the development, on this side of the Channel, of the murder schemes which have laid Ireland low; but a still greater deterrent will he the fact that this country pursues unmoved the policies which it has deliberately adopted, being deflected neither in one direction nor another by any considerations other than those which arise from the careful study of general principles and of the main propositions governing the policy which we have adopted.
I could not leave this subject—the Committee would not think it right for me to do so, I think—without making a digression at this moment to offer, as I am the first Minister speaking after the tragedy of last Thursday, a few words of tribute to the late Field.-Marshal. I have known him for a long time—since, in fact, we both served together in the Natal Field Army during the relief of Ladysmith. In all the business of preparation for the Great War, the working of the Committee of Imperial Defence, and then, during the War, and during the two years we worked together at the War Office, I preserved a close, a pleasant and, at times, an intimate acquaintance with him, and it continued, I am glad to think, down to the last occasion when I saw him here on the eve of the Whitsuntide Adjournment. The time is not come, this is not the moment to attempt to give any adequate or full appreciation of his remarkable qualities, or of the immense contribution which he made to the public fortunes; but if I were to select any one moment or episode, I would go back—and my right hon. Friend opposite will bear me out—to the meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence at the time of the Agadir crisis, in August, 1911, when the late Field-Marshal, then Director of Military Operations, stood up, and with prophetic and faultless accuracy, explained to all present the exact plan of the German invasion of France and Belgium which they would use in case of war. Never have I heard such a forecast which afterwards was vindicated in every detail, and if the French Staff, whose problem he had measured so accurately, had acted in accordance with the view which be expressed, and which he inculcated throughout high military circles of the British Army, the whole of those great initial disasters at the beginning of the War might have been avoided, and the sum and tale of human misery and loss might have been enormously abridged.
His influence and his knowledge over many years of quiet, unnoticed work led to the formation of the plan of the British Expeditionary Force, should this country enter into the War, being employed immediately upon its outbreak. It was plan worked out in every detail, and it was the only plan which was worked out, Therefore, when the moment of crisis came, when indecision and hesitancy would have been fatal, it was the plan which was necessarily and inevitably adopted. Other examples could be quoted, by no one better than by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, of this same foresight and insight exhibited at other critical periods in the War. We have lost a man who brought to the service of the State two noble gifts, first, a deep love of the British Empire, a passionate desire to see it splendid, powerful, prosperous and safe, which was the animating and dominating passion of his life; and, in addition, he brought to our affairs a luminous and penetrating military vision, which, in its highest manifestations, was not unworthy of the greatest captains and masters of war which this country has ever produced.
I return to my general argument. Now that the Northern Government have been so greatly strengthened, it becomes all the more their duty, as I have said, to prevent unlawful reprisals in any form, however great the provocation. This duty, I am sure, Sir James Craig and the upright men associated with him will faithfully and resolutely discharge. It is a matter of honour with them to secure effective protection for the Catholic minority in their midst. Now that the elections have been held in Southern Ireland, there is no excuse whatever for the Provisional Government failing to do their duty in accordance, not merely with the letter, but with the spirit of the Treaty. I have shown how in the last six months we have been willing to ignore many improprieties, ambiguities and equivocations, in order to secure for the Irish people an unprejudiced expression of their views without that expression being biassed by partisanship excited by British interference. We have pardoned and overlooked much in a Government so weak, embarrassed and unsupported; but that period is over. The Irish people have pronounced, and I beg the House not to under-rate the significance of that pronouncement. Look at their difficulties. A doubtful pact between Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera, a pact doubtfully made and doubtfully kept, robbed the Irish people of the power to contest a great number of constituencies. In others, the candidates stood, and the electors voted, under the duress of many abominable forms of intimidation. Proportional representation cast its baffling cloak over a defeated minority.
But, in spite of all this, the will of the Irish nation has become abundantly plain. Any candidate of whatever description who stood for the Treaty received strong or overwhelming support. Any candidate of whatever description who opposed it was rejected, or only scraped in through the protection of this complicated system of voting. The Irish people, on this first opportunity they have had of expressing their view, seemed to single out particularly for their reprobation persons like the ferocious Countess Markievicz and the renegade Erskine Childers. Moreover, not only were the first preferences of the electors given in a vast majority for the Treaty candidates, but the second and third preferences were bestowed always from one point of view—the plain and simple point of view of the kindly, good-hearted multitudes of decent, honest Irish men and women who, across all these horrors and difficulties, stretched forth their hands at the only moment open to them, by the only means open to them, in favour of the Treaty of peace, which, within the circle of the British Empire, gives them the power to manage their own affairs. If I were to attempt to interpret the will of the Irish nation as expressed unmistakably at this election, I would sum it up as follows: "You have given us our freedom; we wish to give you our friendship. You will help us towards a united Ireland; we will help you towards a united Empire." That, I believe, is the true reading of the verdict of the Irish nation at the polls, and that indicates the road along which we are marching, and along which we are going to march. Do not let us be drawn from it; do not let us bring to confusion the wishes of the great masses on both sides of the Channel.
I wish I could end here, but I cannot. I should not be dealing honestly and fully with this subject if I left in the minds of the House the impression that all that is required is patience and composure. No, Sir. Firmness is needed. Firmness is needed in the interests of peace as much as patience. The constitution which we have seen, which has been published, satisfactorily conforms to the Treaty. It has now to be passed through the new Irish Parliament. There is no room for the slightest diminution of the Imperial and Constitutional safeguards and stipulations which it contains. That is not all. Mere paper affirmations, however important, unaccompanied by any effective effort to bring them into action, will not be sufficient. Mere denunciations of murder, however heartfelt, unaccompanied by the apprehension of a single murderer, cannot be accepted. The keeping in being within the Irish Free State by an elaborate process of duality, verging upon duplicity, of the whole apparatus of.a Republican Government will not be in accordance either with the will of the Irish people, with the stipulations of the Treaty, or with the maintenance of good relations between the two countries. The resources at the disposal of His Majesty's Government are various and powerful. There are military, economic, and financial sanctions—to use a word with which we frequently meet in Continental affairs—there are sanctions of these kinds which are available, and which are formidable. They have been very closely studied, and the more closely they are studied, the more clearly it is seen that those measures will be increasingly effective in proportion as the Irish Government and State become more fully and more solidly organised. His Majesty's Government do not feel that, after this election has clearly shown what are the wishes of the Irish people, we can continue to tolerate many gross lapses from the spirit of the Treaty, and improprieties and irregularities in its execution, with which we have put up, and in which we have acquiesced, during the last six months.
Hitherto we have been dealing with a Government weak because it has formed no contact with the people. Hitherto we have been anxious to do nothing to compromise the clear expression of Irish opinion. But now this Provisional Government is greatly strengthened. It is armed with the declared will of the Irish electorate. It is supported by an effective Parliamentary majority. It is its duty to give effect to the Treaty in the letter and in the spirit, to give full effect to it, and to give full effect to it without delay. A much stricter reckoning must rule henceforward. The ambiguous position of the so-called Irish Republican Army, intermingled as it is with the Free State troops, is an affront to the Treaty, The presence in Dublin, in violent occupation of the Four Courts, of a band of men styling themselves the Headquarters of the Republican Executive, is a gross breach and defiance of the Treaty. From this nest of anarchy and treason, not only to the British Crown, but to the Irish people, murderous outrages are stimulated and encouraged, not only in the 26 Counties, not only in the territory of the Northern Government, but even, it seems most probable, here across the Channel in Great Britain. From this centre, at any rate, an organisation is kept in being which has branches in Ulster, in Scotland, and in England, with the declared purpose of wrecking the Treaty by the vilest processes of which human degradation can conceive. The time has come when it is not unfair, not premature, and not impatient for us to make to this strengthened Irish Government and new Irish Parliament a request, in express terms, that this sort of thing must come to an end. If it does not come to an end, if either from weakness, from want of courage, or for some other even less creditable reasons, it is not brought to an end and a very speedy end, then it is my duty to say, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that we shall regard the Treaty as having been formally violated that we shall take no steps to carry out or to legalise its further stages, and that we shall resume full liberty of action in any direction that may seem proper and to any extent that may be necessary to safeguard the interests and the rights that are entrusted to our care.
I beg to move "That Item A [Salaries, Wages, and Allowances] be reduced by £2,000, in respect of the salary of the Chief Secretary."
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, in his tribute to the late Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, told the Committee that some few years ago that great and honourable man pointed out what would be the treatment of Germany to France. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman this question? He has told us of the foresight of the late Sir Henry Wilson. Will the Government carry out the policy of Sir Henry Wilson in regard to Ireland? Sir Henry Wilson foresaw what was going to happen in the great War, and he also foresaw what was going to happen in Ireland. I ask whether, as a tribute to his memory, the Government, at least, will carry out the policy which we all know he would have carried out. I only rose to give the Government an opportunity of doing that and in order to show to the Government what I believe to be the feeling of the country in moving the reduction in the salary of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. I do it, not because I have any personal hostility to the right hon. Gentleman, or because I think he was the governing spirit in the catastrophe which has arisen because the Government have taken up their present method of dealing with Ireland. I do it because he was, after all, the instrument, and the fact that his salary has been reduced would he a Vote of Censure upon the Government for their Irish policy.
We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary that there were two divisions of the Irish Republican Army in Ulster against the Treaty. I so understood him. He will correct me if I am wrong. He said these two divisions have been there since last January, that is five months. I want to know if these two divisions were there and against the Treaty why were they not turned out? We are told in this House that we could do nothing which would in any way violate a line of the Treaty. Apparently the Provisional Government can so violate the Treaty that they can keep two divisions armed in Ulster against the provisions of the Treaty—according to the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself. The Colonial Secretary said he did not know whether they were allowed to stay intentionally or whether the Provisional Government was too weak to prevent it. My own answer to that question is that not only was this done intentionally, but also that the Provisional Government was too weak to prevent it from being done. His Majesty's Government ought to have intervened, and ought to have said to the Provisional Government: "If you choose to break the Treaty we are going to put our power into force, and we are going to see that these divisions come out, and if they do not, we will arrest you and bring you over here for having violated the Treaty!" The right hon. Gentleman had troops in Dublin, and we actually moved them out from the barracks in which they were and put them under canvas.
I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that there is to be a marked line—a sector, I think he called it—in which all who are under arms are to be shot by the English troops. What a commentary upon what took place last October, when we were told an era of peace had been inaugurated for Ireland, and that she was going to be our most devoted friend! Now we hear that we are obliged to set up a line of demarcation between Northern and Southern Ireland to be put in charge of our troops who are to shoot anybody who is found with arms. If ever there was.an indication that the policy of the Government was wrong from beginning to end, it is in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. He says that the elections in Ireland have gone in favour of the Treaty. Let me point out that the Dail went in favour of the Treaty, but only by a small majority. What does it matter? All these outrages and murders have gone on ever since. What guarantee have we they will not go on longer?
Nothing was said by the right hon. Gentleman about the loyal population in Southern Ireland and as to what is going to happen to them. I understand that Mr. de Valera, only a day or two ago issued a manifesto, in which he says that
It would be difficult to prevent such actions as the shooting of Sir Henry Wilson while the causes of such deeds remain.
It is useless to talk about good faith when such utterances as that are given vent to. The right hon. Gentleman told us at Question Time that he was going to allude to that in this debate. It is quite possible that he forgot it. I do not for a moment suggest that he would do that on purpose. But what I want to know is what are the Government going to do to this gentleman who is responsible for that doctrine? It is a traitorous doctrine. It is a doctrine against the Government. What is the right hon. Gentleman going to do? Is he going to content himself by saying that he disapproves of it? That is not sufficient. Some further steps should be taken in order to bring that criminal to justice. We get news on the same day of an ambush in Ulster, with
four rebels killed by the Crown forces. How can the right hon. Gentleman get up and say he has the remotest chance of restoring law and order in Ireland except in one way, and that is to get rid of Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera. I am not at all sure they ought not to be sent to penal servitude for life, so that we might restore order in Ireland as part of the British Empire. That is the only way. It has got to come, and the sooner we do it the better, and the sooner we carry out the policy of the late Sir Henry Wilson the better.
I asked just now what is going to be done to protest those Irish loyalists in Ireland. The murder of a great man has unfortunately taken place, and it has impressed everybody with a sense of horror that such deeds should be allowed. In Ireland these things have been going on every day. If Sir Henry Wilson was alive now he would say that he would be very glad to give his life in order that those deeds might be stopped. Yet it is only when a man is murdered here that the Government come down and tell us what action—as to that I am extremely doubtful—they are going to take. Let me just read a few lines—I have no knowledge of the truth of them myself, but I have heard statements of a similar character made before:
Few are aware of the barbarous outrages to which Southern Loyalists are daily exposed, and the victims sadly realise that still fewer seem to care. On Friday morning, 16th June, 1922, about 12.30 o'clock, men smashed windows, and demanded admittance to my house.
I do not give the place where this happened.
On opening the door I was forced by two men (one of them levelled a gun at me) into a room along with an old gentleman of 74 years of age who lived with me. We were locked in. Three men then entered my wife's bedroom and all three outraged her. The whole party ransacked my house throughout, and took everything of value belonging to us that was portable; jewellery, clothing, etc., throwing everything about and eating the food and drinking the whiskey, on which several of them got drunk and vomited all over the place. While this was going on my wife continued to be outraged by different men in turn, one after the other, and a guard was always kept in her room. Finally she was taken out of her own room to allow it to be searched for valuables, a light being required for that purpose, and no light being allowed in it while she was in it, and she was brought by a man in a green uniform into another
bedroom where she was once more outraged by this man. She believes she was outraged altogether on eight or nine different occasions. We were let out of the room we were locked in about 2 o'clock. I found my wife lying on the bed almost lifeless and in a terrible condition, impossible to describe. She is now in hospital suffering from shock and other injuries.
How long is this sort of thing going to he tolerated? How long are we going to be put off with statements that we believe in the good faith of Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera and ought to have mercy with their men? They have no good faith, and anybody who believes in them is not fit to be trusted to govern, not merely a Power like this, but to govern a little country like, say, Honduras, or something of that sort. It is quite impossible that this sort of thing can go on. It is pretty clear what has happened to the, Government, The shock caused by an hon. and gallant Gentleman's death is so great that the Government have felt bound to do something, and, therefore, they have come down to the House and have made a statement that under certain circumstances they are going to do something. But what we want is that they shall do something and that they shall do something now! We do not want to be put off with any further statements that they will give the. Irish another trial to see whether or not Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera and another gentleman with an unpronouncable name is going to do something. We all know perfectly well that the forces in Ireland that have the actual power have only one idea and that is a. Republic, and taking Ulster and making Ireland a united Republic. I should not be in the least surprised if the Prime Minister, when it came to that, said: "It has cost a good deal of money already; we shall lose a good many lives in trying to alter it and on the whole it will not be a bad thing: they will probably be as loyal and friendly to this country as they are now."
That is not good enough for a great number of us in this country. We have to put up with a great deal. We have heard before of the policy of "No surrender" which the right hon. Gentleman had the face to repeat to the Committee. He also told us that the Government were not going to be intimidated by assassination, and that they were going to pursue their course without any intimidation by assassination. Why, they actually have been intimidated by assassination. Only a year ago the Govern- ment repudiated any idea of the sort of Treaty which they have made. There are a large number of hon. Members who wish to speak in this Debate, and I will conclude by saying, first, that I shall move to reduce this Vote by £2,000, and, secondly, I hope every hon. Member of this House will remember Sir Henry Wilson's death and will carry out his policy. That is the only way to avenge his death, and we should all do what we feel he would have done if he had been alive.
The statement which has been made by the Colonial Secretary this afternoon has been an extremely remarkable one. At last some members of the Government seem to have realised that the Government have duties to perform in Ireland, and that they cannot, hand those duties over to this or that newly-created Government as they arise. What is the value of the declaration? We have had before bold declarations made from the Treasury Bench. We have heard before that the Government will never surrender, and that they had the murderers "on the run." We know all those phrases and we have heard declarations of that kind often and often.
I would like to deal with the larger aspect of this question. Ireland still contains a. very large number of persons suffering moral torture every clay, who have been submitted to indignities and robberies, and there have been outrages on women, loss of life, and all manner of things of that kind. At the present, moment this country contains large numbers of men and women who have been driven out of Ireland and have had to take refuge here from the prevailing terror. The Government now say that they have decided to act. What are they going to do with all these people? That is the first of the most pressing problems with which they have to deal. Do they really expect that the Government or so-called Government of Mr. Collins has any authority to put down crime and murder? Have they the power to disband the Irish Republican Army, to establish a. new police force and establish the freedom to which these people are entitled? The Colonial Secretary does not seem to realise what is the Irish Republican Army. It is indistinguishable, except for some few hundreds of men, from the army of the so-called Free State. I am told that the actual number of armed men upon which the Provisional Government, can rely does not exceed a very few hundred. There are scores of thousands of men in Ireland who call themselves the Irish Republican Army. Some of them are organised and some are not. Some of them will obey no orders except those issued by the chiefs of the Irish Republican Army, who now hold high festival in the Four Courts of Dublin.
The law does not operate except from the republican courts, and I think I could give the Government absolute proof that the republican courts are recognised by the Provisional Government. Therefore, there is no law and there is no control over the armed forces in Ireland. When the troops of the Irish Republican Army were driven out from Pettigo and l3eleek, in the first place Michael Collins, on behalf of the Government, disavowed them, but within a day or two he issued a protest against the armed forces of the Free State being attacked. Afterwards they were found in possession of weapons issued by the Provisional Government, which were supplied by the Government of this country, who handed over weapons, munitions and motor-cars to these persons. These acts are disavowed here, but they are never disavowed in Ireland, because Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera have no control over these matters.
The Government is not dealing with the real people who control Ireland. Neither Mr. de Valera nor Mr. Collins can, to use the phrase of the Prime Minister, "deliver the goods." In these circumstances, how can you expect the Government of Mr. Collins and Mr. Griffith to put down outrages? We all know that Mr. Collins some time ago boasted that he was the man responsible for more outrages and attacks upon life and property than anybody else in Ireland. In these circumstances surely it is too much to expect a man like that to reverse his whole career and become a true and faithful guardian of law and order in Ireland, at great risk to himself and at the almost certain sacrifice of his own life. Ireland is under the control and the terror of the gunmen. What are the British Government going to do to relieve Ireland of all this? It is extremely cruel to the Irish people that they should be handed over to this kind of terror, a state of things which is nearly as bad as that which exists in Russia.
Information about Ireland comes to this country with the greatest difficulty. The "Irish Times" used to be a free and independent newspaper, but it is now under the same terror as other people, and it dare not publish much of the information that comes to it. The result is that we have to get our information bit by bit. As a matter of fact, much has to be brought here by refugees, who tell their own story, or through various other means which are not open to the influence of the justice meted out by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. For that is where the real control lies. It lies with the Irish armed forces, and those who are within the inner circle of the Irish Republican Army. The Government have shown a strange misunderstanding of the real situation in Ireland. By their own policy they have created this situation.
By one of the Articles in the Treaty of Peace the Government have created a hopeless situation between Northern and Southern Ireland. Under the Treaty, Ireland is now all one, and it is only by a certain operation that the six counties can be separated. Machinery is provided in the Treaty by means of which the six counties may, by taking proper action at some date which is not yet known, declare their independence of the other 26 counties. Meanwhile, under the Treaty, Ireland is all one. I think there is a very large majority of people in Ireland who believe that that country ought to be one and undivided, whether it remains under the British flag or under Sinn Fein. All parties in Southern Ireland must inevitably unite, and will unite, to prevent the separation of the six counties.
Meanwhile, we want to know where we are going. We do not know when the Government intend to take action. That is still very vague and in the future. The Colonial Secretary was very confident as to what would be the result of the elections in Southern Ireland. He told us that the Treaty party had secured an overwhelming majority, but is that so and is it clear? He did not give us his reasons for saying so, except that under the system of voting in Southern Ireland, which he derided, a large majority of the electors had voted for the Treaty. We do not yet know what proportion of the electors have voted or what is the real result of this fantastic transfer of votes from one candidate to another. Many of us have always thought that Proportional Representation was a. very good way indeed of disguising and neutralising the real will of the people, and that was the device that was chosen to he applied to this election.
When dealing with the results of the recent election, the right hon. Gentleman omitted to deal with the Labour party and to include it in the anti-Treaty party. It is true that the supporters of Mr. de Valera are in a very considerable minority, but the Labour vote is a real sinister phenomenon. They have secured many seats. The Labour party in Ireland represents, not the Labour party in this country, but the Irish Transport Workers' Union, and everyone who knows the history of that movement in Ireland knows that it is controlled by revolutionary leaders and is in constant communication with Moscow and the Third International. It is not, therefore, a pro-Treaty party. It is the beginning of the ultimate movement of revolutionary Ireland, and those intimately acquainted with the movements which are taking place believe that ultimately it will smash either one or other of the two parties and become the dominant factor in Ireland. These people are intimately connected with the Irish Republican Government. I am afraid that any hope which may be based in Ireland upon Parliamentary forms and constitutional practices, as they are carried out in this country, are very far from being realisable, and we can only trust that the situation will develop itself and the course of action indicated by His Majesty's Government will be put in force without delay.
I may tell right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench that if these matters could be left in the hands of the Colonial Secretary we should feel more confident., but he has colleagues, the Prime Minister and others, whose policies vanish under pressure, and our bitter experience of the past leaves us to place little reliance on statements made from that bench. Meanwhile, outrages go on, not only in the North, and I must say this with regard to outrages in the North of Ireland, that they are not all to be attributed to a
vendetta, to reprisals of one party against another. Not a bit of it. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not know as much as some of us know about their real history, even in Belfast itself. There have been four pauses in this appalling series, but they have always begun again without much delay and have been begun again by the emissaries of the Irish Republican Army, and of the rebel section directed from outside the North of Ireland. What the right hon. Gentleman appears to have ignored was this, that in very many cases where Catholic families have suffered—I know one or two myself—they have been loyal Catholic families attached to the constitutional authority, and desiring to maintain law and order and constitutional government. In nearly every case these persons have been subjected to pressure and have been intimidated to subscribe to the fund of the Irish Republican Army or of the Irish Republic in some form or another, and have refused. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman there is no more bitter vendetta carried on in Ireland than that carried on by certain persons who call themselves Roman Catholics against Roman Catholics who have refused to obey the orders of this secret society and to submit to its intimidation. I am sure it is only a lapse on the part of the right hon. Gentleman that he did not notice that fact. I would remind him of the speech which was made on a former occasion when we uttered similar protests and brought forward cases of outrage repeated, horrible, appalling. We spent the whole of the evening of the 16th December last debating these outrages, and everyone who spoke about the policy of the Government made strong pleas that something should be done forthwith or the protection of the loyal minority who were suffering these terrible wrongs. What happened? The Lord Privy Seal, in winding-up for the Government, said:
Even in the last hour or two men have dwelt oil the unhappy incidents of the last few months, and upon the outrages which have been inflicted. The curse of Ireland has been the length of its memory. Do not let us, Englishmen and Scotsmen, cultivate the same unrelenting memory. Those who desire that there should he no peace will dwell on every incident. Those who desire that these Articles of Agreement shall not fructify on one side of the Channel or on the other will use every effort to provoke trouble afresh and prevent peace taking root. But is that going to be out attitude? We are a great nation—the heart and centre of a great Empire. We can afford to be
generous as we are strong. As I listen to these speeches, as I hear these attempts to bring back again the attitude of passion when wiser men on both sides are trying to allay it, I think that the part this Parliament may best play is to turn its back upon the unhappy past and look to a brighter and a more hopeful future. To have the power to forgive is our Imperial prerogative, and we who have the strength, and we who have the might, should be the first to exercise that Imperial prerogative."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1921; Cols. 358–60, Vol. 149.]
Are we to forget these outrages on these poor persons and families suffering death, murder, torture, loss of property, driven from their homes in many cases—are we to forget them? Is that generous? No, it is not. We ought to remember our friends and help them to stand up against our enemies. I regret that the Government has not been faithful to them, and that they have really abandoned them by the futile course they have taken. How many more murders are we to wait for? How many more outrages are we to hear of? How many more victims are to be sacrificed on the altar of their policy before they return, as they must ultimately do—or as someone in their place must do—to perform the duty of every civilised Government to enforce law and maintain justice and right? That is the curse. The Government have run away, they have abandoned their duty, they were intimidated, and now, day by day and week by week, the number of their victims is increasing. At the door of their statesmanship, and of the leaders who devise that statesmanship, lies every one of those murders and outrages which cannot be, checked by the feeble, incompetent, and disloyal Government which they have set up, and which they now turn to every time, making representations and protests which produce no result. They ask us to still continue these until the time arrives when they say they will be able to carry out their duty. Our patience is exhausted: we are still asked to be patient. At last, by the shocking murder of our colleague the other day, it has brought home to the people of this country what many persons, what many families, have been suffering, month by month, while Members of this House have sat comfortably in their seats, never caring what is happening, blind and deaf to the appeals made to them. They are responsible for many a. murder and many an outrage, because they have not performed the duty at their door, to repre-
sent the people of this country and to see that their Government carries out the primary duty of Government throughout the British Empire wherever the flag flies.
In the present circumstances, I hope I may not be considered presumptuous in intervening in this Debate. I am the latest member of this House from Ireland, and I desire to bear testimony to, the fact that the methods of terrorism which have found their last victim in Sir Henry Wilson are being carried on in Ulster by the same persons and by the same means for the same object. Sir Henry Wilson was murdered because he was the most fearless and the most distinguished advocate of the cause of Ulster. The "Republican Party," if that is what they are to be called, recognise that the loyalty of Ulster to the British Empire and the devotion of the people of Ulster to the British Crown are a real obstacle to the attainment of their object. When, therefore, the Treaty was passed, they set about this campaign of murder, arson, and outrage throughout Ulster, in the hope that the resistance of Ulster would be overborne. I think that the speech of the Colonial Secretary admits as much as that. That speech seemed to indicate that the Provisional Government were not in any way responsible in this matter. The Committee will recollect that the pact between the Provisional Government and Mr. de Valera had for one of its main objects, if not its main object, that the two might combine together for the purpose of "concentration upon Ulster." "Concentration upon Ulster," in their mouths, meant this campaign of murder and outrage.
Grave words have been used to-day as to the determination of the British Government to support Ulster. What has been done in the past? We have seen the British Government trying to represent that it was really "six of one and half-a-dozen of the other," and that there had been a great deal of misconduct on the part of the loyalists. I do not know about Belfast, but I do know about the country districts in the North of Ulster, and I say that there is no law-abiding person in North Antrim or North Derry, be his religious creed or his political opinions what they may, who goes about with the smallest apprehension of any danger to his life, his limb, or his property from any loyalist. The danger, and the only danger, is from these forces directed by the Republican party.
Then it is sometimes represented that there are crowds of refugees, harmless, innocent Catholics driven from their homes by the loyalists. The only refugees of whom I know in my part of the country are refugees who are wanted by the police in connection with crime. They have taken refuge in the Alsatia of Donegal, and, with the strengthening of the Ulster Government, they are not likely to come back. I trust that the words that have been used to-day are, indeed, going to be carried out, and that the Government are going to be firm in their support of Ulster. But in view of what has happened, in view of the events of the last 12 months, of the criminals who have been amnestied and let out, can the Government be surprised that people in the North of Ireland, anyhow, think that the murder of Sir Henry Wilson lies really at their door, and that they are responsible for it? If the result of his murder is to give at last some courage and some wisdom to the Government, his death will not have been in vain, and Sir Henry Wilson himself would have been content to sacrifice his life in order that humble people in his own country might get the security which has been denied them hitherto.
I understand that the Home Secretary will intervene later in the Debate, and, although I do not think it would be proper to say much about the happenings in London during the last two or three days, I might, perhaps, without travelling outside the rules of order, ask him this one question: Has he ascertained, and, if not, will he ascertain, who is paying for the defence of the two men who are charged with the murder of Sir Henry Wilson? I see it stated in the papers that that duty is being undertaken by a barrister who has acted for Sinn Feiners in the past. I think it must be obvious to every Member of the Committee who saw the photograph of those two men in the papers that they are not likely to have money of their own to brief a barrister. We know that the Court has not assigned any counsel to them, and, therefore, I think that, if we can ascertain whence this barrister is being paid for defending them, it might put the authorities on the track of some useful information as to the people who are behind the murderers.
This Debate, at any rate to my mind, is a very different Debate from what we have been accustomed to during the last six months or a year in this Committee when Ireland has come up for discussion. In the past, the great majority of Members would have been in the tea room at the present moment, or absent altogether. They regarded Ireland as a country which, thank God, they had done with. They cared not for the misery of the decent people in Ireland. As for the Government, we should have had the Chief Secretary on the Bench, with, possibly, one Whip to help him, and there would have been a lofty indifference and contemptuous attitude towards the small minority who took some interest in that country. What a change there is now! We see, even when a humble Member like myself is addressing the Committee, that we have a full attendance, and why? I do not think it is a credit to the Government or to the House of Commons that, simply because a distinguished Member of the House has been foully murdered, the Government should make grave speeches about what they are going to do, that hon. Members should pay attention to those speeches, and attend here in large numbers, whereas in the past, when hundreds of people were being murdered and thousands of loyal people were being ruined, they cared for none of these things, and stayed away, indifferent to what vas going on. Happily, that indifference is now changed, and we find ourselves in this position, that the House of Commons has either definitely to condone murder, or it has got to condemn it. There is no course now open to the Government and the House between those two definite decisions, and the decision cannot long be delayed.
The Government, in this Chamber and through their Press, have during the last few months plumed themselves and taken the greatest credit that they have been so magnaminous in their attitude towards Southern Ireland, that they have shown themselves so broad-minded, and have given with a free hand practical independence to the 26 counties. I should be
more impressed with that if their magnanimity had not been at the expense of other people. A hundred years ago there was open bribery in this country. The candidate for Parliament bribed openly and largely; but he did so with his own money. Now politicians do not follow the same practice, but bribe secretly with a promise of someone else's money, and that is what the Government has been doing, in effect, with regard to the Southern loyalists in Ireland. They have been saying, "What fine fellows we are," and have left these decent law-abiding people, both Catholic and Protestants, to bear the burden of murder and outrage in the South of Ireland during these last weary months. Now that Nemesis has crossed the Irish Channel, and death stalks openly in the streets of this great city, the Government have recalled the detectives, and are guarding themselves. I do not complain, but I do not think they are in any danger. They are the very last people who will be touched by the murder gang. They are too pliant in carrying out the behests of the enemies of this country. If any body or any nation shows itself pugnacious, they at once give in. "Anything for a quiet life; let us wait and see what is going to turn up"; and it is common knowledge that it was not till people in Ireland got really nasty and really threatening that this salvation came to the Government that the best way of settling the Irish question was to throw over the decent people and put the ruffians in charge. I must except two right hon. Gentlemen who are Members of the Government from that category. I refer, though I have often criticised him in the past, to my right hon. Friend the present Chief Secretary and to his predecessor. We may differ from them in their staying on with the Government after their policy has been reversed, but at any rate they did stand up, to the best of their ability, for law and order in Ireland, and they did, too, stand up—and as a humble individual I give them the greatest credit for it—for that splendid body, the Royal Irish Constabulary. I have here a letter—I have had many letters from them—from an ox-sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and if the Committee will bear with me I should like to read one paragraph from it. It is somewhat illiterate, it is
true, but it breathes the true spirit of the fighting and loyal Irishman. He says:
God is the best judge what we went through since 1916, but every time victory was in sight the Government came along and did something that perished the R.I.C. Never will the Government command again more willing or better men, but they got no chance to fight. Little miserable things crept up behind beautiful men and put a bullet in his back before he knew anything. Excuse me, I do be mad at times when we left without some chance of knocking them out.
I wish our Government had something of the spirit that is expressed in that letter. What have the Government been doing, since this wonderful Treaty, to ensure peace in Ireland, which we were told was certain after the signature of the Treaty? We were told that Mr. Michael Collins and Mr. Arthur Griffith could deliver the goods, and on the strength of that promise a large majority of hon. Members of the House supported the Government. I would ask the Committee to consider this action on the part of His Majesty's Government from the ordinary, common-sense point of view, and I put it to them that what I am about to describe almost passes belief. After the Treaty, our Government proceeded to hand over to the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland large sums of money, a great quantity of arms, motor cars, practically all the barracks in Ireland, and the Curragh Camp, on which recently hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent, and which probably represents a considerable number of millions of money of the British taxpayer sunk in that district. That was handed over nominally to the Provisional Government; but, as we all know, the vast majority of the Irish Republican Army pay not the slightest attention to the Provisional Government, and are openly republican. In effect, the Government handed over arms, money, barracks, motor cars and all the pomp and circumstances of war, to the avowed fighting opponents of this country and of Ulster. It is also known that the avowed object of the Irish Republican Army is the immediate invasion of Ulster. What did the Government do? In order to ensure and make it quite certain that when civil war came in Ireland, as it must come, it should be on equal terms, and both sides should have an equal chance, they proceeded to hand over money, arms, cars and other implements of war to the Ulster Government, and also, in addition, provided them with British troops. It seems to me that it only lacks the intervention of the League of Nations to bring about the millennium. I ask the Committee seriously to consider the extraordinary action of the Government, which hands over British arms to both sides, puts British troops on one side, and now, when war is likely to start, is forming an extra cordon of British troops between the two nations to prevent them fighting each other. Whether the policy of the Government is right or wrong on general principles, their action in handing over arms and ammunition and millions of pounds of the British taxpayers' money, who, heaven knows, is poor enough, seems to me to be worthy only of inmates of Bedlam. They may be politicians, or even Statesmen, but as angels of peace they cut an extremely sorry figure.
Last summer I went, with certain Members of this House and of another place, to an interview with the Lord Privy Seal in Downing Street, in order that prominent members of our body might place before him our grave objection to the policy of the Government, in scrapping the Union and handing over Southern Ireland to the people who are now in charge. We were told that we were old fossils, we were behind the times, we were hide-bound reactionaries who had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Thank goodness, we have not and had not learned to surrender to violence, and we have not and had not then forgotten that right is right and wrong is wrong. I believe we are not alone in this country. I believe there are millions of people who still hold the old British faith that you cannot get good by doing evil. I was much heartened on Saturday by reading the manifesto which appeared in the public Press signed by the Chancellor of the Primrose League. The Primrose League is a body which has often been ridiculed by politicians who do not believe in its principles, namely King and country, but it has a large following, and if, as I see from the letter of the Chancellor, that League has definitely taken a stand on the side of those who believe—I had better read what he says, and then I shall not be under any danger
of misrepresenting what Lord Pembroke said:
May I, therefore, request all habitations of the Primrose League to pass immediately a resolution calling on the Government to provide at once all necessary protection for the lives and property of our loyal fellow-citizens in every part of Ireland and Great Britain. As Chancellor of the Primrose League I particularly wish the habitations to make it quite clear to the Government that unless loyalists everywhere receive without delay the protection they so urgently need the Primrose League will use every means to secure the early return of a Government that will be able to perform the first duty of a civilised and constitutional Government, namely, the protection of loyal citizens from the attacks of such criminal and seditious organisations as have been permitted to exist in Ireland and in England.
I do not think a better summary of constitutional principles and of law and ordered government could be contained in any two paragraphs.
The gist of the Colonial Secretary's speech was, "Our policy has possibly not been very successful up to now, but very shortly we are going to take our coats off, and unless the fellows on the other side of the Channel look out we shall really do something, but. I hope we shall not have to do anything because at the recent elections a substantial majority of pro-Treatyites were returned." I hope I am wrong, but in my opinion if the Government regard the pro-Treatyites as their sheet anchor, the ship wilt shortly go on the rocks. In my opinion there is no difference between the anti-Treatyites and the pro-Treatyites, except in method. The anti-Treatyites, who are far more honest, say, "We must have a Republic at once, and we make no bones about it." The proTreatyites say, "We are all out for a Republic too, but let us have a little wordly wisdom. Let us imitate the serpent. These stupid English people have a very flabby Government, therefore let us get the Treaty in working order. When we have got our Government set up, in a month or two we shall declare our Republic, and the English Government will do nothing." That I think is far wiser. I should be a pro-Treatyite certainly if I were a Sinn Feiner. The Irishmen are very clever as far as polities are concerned, and that is why the pro-Treatyites are in a majority. Therefore I am afraid the Government's faith in the election returns is built upon shifting sand. I hope and trust that when the time comes for the great decision to be made we shall' find in the Government an unexpected backbone which certainly has not appeared up to the present.
There were two passages in the Colonial Secretary's speech which I certainly, and I think most of my friends in this part of the Committee, listened to with very great satisfaction. One was the well-deserved and eloquent tribute which he paid to the late Sir Henry Wilson. To us it was a matter of the very greatest pride and gratification that when that very distinguished man—distinguished all over the world for his services to the British Empire and to the Allies—took his place in this House, he immediately associated himself closely with the party which occupies this bench, and we remember with particular pleasure the spirit of comradeship with which he joined us, in which he made us feel that, although he was a man of great distinction, far beyond any other in this part of the House, or indeed in the House at all, nevertheless he took his place among us as just an ordinary Member of Parliament. The other passage to which we listened with satisfaction was that in which the right hon. Gentleman paid, I think for the first time, a just tribute to the character of the people of Northern Ireland and of the Government of that part of Ireland, and he made a most valuable statement as to the continuous guilt of that section of the Sinn Fein party which is known by the name of the Irish Republican Army as the continuous source of all the trouble that is going on in Northern Ireland. I believe that is absolutely true. It is quite true, unfortunately, that reprisals and counter-reprisals have now gone on so long that there is some excuse for those who are inclined to think it is a case of six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. But those who have closely and conscientiously followed the course of events know perfectly well that the initiative has in every case come from the Sinn Fein side, and that when regrettable and deplorable outrages have been committed by Protestants and Loyalists, unjustifiable even by any provocation, nevertheless they have been reprisals undertaken under terrible provocation when they saw there was no Government in existence which was capable of bringing criminals to justice. I believe, therefore, that that was a fair and a just tribute, and even at the present moment it is a fact that, when a lull comes which raises hopes that we may at last have got into peaceful waters, it is the gunmen who are deliberately sent into Ulster who have as a deliberate policy set themselves to destroy that momentary peace by executing an outrage, sometimes on one side and sometimes on the other, which they know will have the effect of stirring up blood and promoting bloodshed again. A very notable case took place not long ago when a Catholic family, I think of the name of McMahon, was murdered, and I believe it is now generally understood that the murder was not committed, as people are inclined to assume, by men of an opposite religious faith, but that they were murdered deliberately by emissaries of the Sinn Fein party in order to create the impression that they were outrages committed by Loyalists.
But those passages were the only part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I found I could listen with any real satisfaction. The earlier part of his speech made me think to myself. "What a frightful picture the right hon. Gentleman is drawing of the Ireland which he and his colleagues have brought about by their policy." He told us in a very eloquent passage what had actuated the Government in the policy which has led to this result. I think the purport of his words was that they were actuated by a desire to put an end to this long conflict between Ireland and Great Britain. I am quite prepared to give them credit for sincerity in the belief that that was what they were about to do, but they began from the outset to carry out that policy by the perpetration of every conceivable folly. They began by carrying out negotiations by representatives on this side, not one of whom had even a glimmering of understanding of either Ireland or the Irish character. When the Government go to Genoa or Paris they go surrounded by a great army of experts. Why did they not take into Downing Street, when they went to confer with Mr. Collins and his friends, someone who was in some sense an Irish expert? The Prime Minister knows nothing about Ireland. The Secretary of State for War knows nothing about Ireland. The Lord Chancellor has forgotten anything he ever knew about Ireland. Then they sat down to arrange this new policy, which, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, was to bring to an end this long conflict, and they thought themselves equal to the task of dealing with these very astute Irishmen. Then we remember—and it is curious to remember it in the light of to-day—all the theatrical proceedings when the Treaty was signed. The midnight meeting at Downing Street, the telegrams that came pouring in from all corners of the world, rejoicing that these great men had brought peace at last and put an end to this age-long controversy. I do not forget that my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) gave a very useful warning to the Government at that time. He said that within a few months their great Irish achievement would be no asset to the Government. I wonder if the Government think that it is an asset to them to-day.
The Colonial Secretary, in dealing with the outrages that are going on as part of this war in Ireland, made a very remarkable statement. He said that the Irish Republican Army, in carrying out these outrages, were doing something that was very natural, that they might think that it would be easy to overcome a comparatively weak Government in the North of Ireland in the light of the tremendous success they had had in the 26 counties. What was their success in the 26 counties It was an extraordinary thing in that connection to hear the right hon. Gentleman saying, with all the emphasis that he brings to bear in his speeches in this House, that the Government were going to show in their Irish policy for the future the utmost firmness. He told us that it must be brought home to the people in Ireland that it was impossible to move the British Government by crime and outrage. The success of the Irish Republican Army in the 26 counties was successful because right hon. Gentlemen gave way to crime. The Irish Republican Army had no other success. If it had not been that their outrages frightened right hon. Gentlemen into bringing them into conference in Downing Street, and then in taking up a completely new policy, which most of them had absolutely repudiated up to that moment, there would never have been any success on the part of the Irish Republican Army
The right hon. Gentleman spoke—I thought it was out of fashion—of the murder gang. It appears that he recognises that there is a murder gang there now. I expect—I do not know—that the murder gang in Ireland to-day, in personnel, are very much the same murder gang with which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland was dealing at this time last year, when he had them on the run. There is this difference, that at that time the murder gang, which the right hon. Gentleman had on the run, and with which our Government would have nothing whatever to do, was under Michael Collins. Michael Collins is no longer, outwardly at all events, in command of the murder gang. He is at the head of the Provisional Government instead, a friendly Government. We know how the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to questions, when we have been vainly striving to bring home to the Government some glimmer of their responsibility, has got up time after time and has thought it sufficient to say: "I have made the most explicit representations to the Provisional Government, and they tell me that they have nothing to do with this outrage." That is to say, he has the most explicit assurance from the man who a few months before was head of the murder gang, and organised murders in Ireland. It is quite intolerable that the right hon. Gentleman should now come down to this House, when he is day after day in friendly co-operation with the Government of Michael Collins, whom he has supplied with arms and ammunition, and talk about the firmness which His Majesty's Government are going to display towards this murder gang.
It is quite true what he says, that it is natural enough that these people should think that they will produce the same effect elsewhere that they produced when Michael Collins was head of affairs, I recollect the emphatic language of the right hon. Gentleman in regard to certain individuals who for the moment have lost their election in Ireland, and I cannot help thinking what he would do in different circumstances. The House remembers how he spoke of the ferocious Countess, and of the renegade Englishman, Erskine Childers. He will use these strong, brave words about those individuals now, but if these two people had been elected or even if they had not been elected, if they were known to be sufficiently powerful, instead of denounc- ing them from that box he would be inviting them to Downing Street. One question which the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to answer—and it is very important—is this: Can Michael Collins, now no longer one of the murder gang, but a respectable gentleman at the head of the Provisional Government, control the murder gang which he has left? I gather that that has exercised the mind of the right hon. Gentleman a good deal He does not seem to know whether the Provisional Government of Michael Collins can or cannot control the murder gang. All the events which have occurred recently point very strongly to the fact that he is unable to control them, and for that very reason I say, as firmly as I can, that the whole of the deplorable state of Ireland at the present moment is entirely due, not merely to the policy of the Government, from which, as they know, I very strongly differ, but to the foolish way in which they have carried it out.
Granting that they were to embark upon this absurd attempt, by that method, of putting an end to the conflict between Great Britain and Ireland, what was the only sensible course for them to pursue in carrying out that policy? If they had known anything whatever about Ireland, if they had had an elementary understanding about the Irish character, they would know that they are the worst people in the world to run away from. Apart from any knowledge of the Irish character, remembering the circumstances of the whole world to-day—unrest, a spirit of violence, a forgetfulness of law, a disregard of human life, the prevalence of a revolutionary spirit—all these circumstances, apart from any particular conditions in Ireland, ought to have shown any sensible men, not to say statesmen, that if they were going to hand over the Government of Ireland to any Irish party, they should have seen that a firm administration was set up, that the whole machinery of Government was in working order, and that the forces upon which law and order would depend were organised, disciplined and strong, before they withdrew their strong hand from the administration. Instead of that, what was the course followed by this Government? They made up their minds for a great act of faith, I think one of them once called it. I should call it a great act of infatuation and delusion.
Mr. de Valera was in command when the Prime Minister first entered into negotiations. Mr. de Valera had been arrested, and the Government knew that they had evidence against him which would probably have convicted him of high treason. Notwithstanding, they released him, in the hope of doing what the Prime Minister is generally engaged in doing, either "creating an atmosphere" or "exploring an avenue.' While engaged in that dreamy pursuit, he released this dangerous criminal, and allowed him to go back to Ireland, and then the Government entered into negotiations with Mr. Michael Collins, who, up to that time, had been a criminal, and whom the Prime Minister himself said they would shoot at sight whenever they saw him. Having made up their minds to do that, they did not see first that there was an effective Government Department, they did not see that they had any police, they did not see that they had any machinery of Government for carrying on in Ireland. They cleared out. They withdrew the troops, they disbanded the police, having first by their treatment of them made them utterly unreliable. They retired from all the strategical positions. Then they ignominiously retired from Dublin Castle, leaving anarchy and no Government to take their place, and the consequence, as any sensible man ought to have foreseen, was exactly the state of affairs which we see going on now.
Now the right hon. Gentleman asks the House to accept his strong language as to the attitude he is about to take up. He and his colleagues used equally strong language a year ago. It is certainly not 12 months since we listened to a speech from that bench, telling us that under no circumstances would they ever do what they proceeded to do in the autumn. That being so, what possible value can any Member of this House attach to a statement that, if one thing or another is not done, the Government are going to act with firmness I do not believe it. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think that I am doubting his word, but I shall believe in this firm policy when we see it carried out, because we have had so many declarations of that sort which have never materialised. There was a very interesting statement made in the Press
yesterday by Mr. Stephen Gwynn, a former Nationalist Member of this House, and, I think, as far as I am able to see, a very dispassionate observer of events in Ireland at the present moment. This is what he wrote:
The Provisional Government tolerates an Executive which assumes that there is war with Ulster. The murder of Sir Henry Wilson is an act in that war.
There we have the true explanation of this horrible crime. It is part of the war against Ulster. These men, encouraged as they have been by the action of the Government, are firmly persuaded that this constant series of outrage and murder can be dignified by the name of war and justified on that ground, and the Government cannot complain at all. They have encouraged that up to a point. First they talked about murder. Then they began to deprecate the use of that word in this House, and they talked about war and so forth. The Colonial Secretary himself several times referred to the campaign of murder before the Treaty as a war, and they cannot complain, therefore, if those who are in favour of a Republic still think that it is a war, and, to put oneself in their place, I suppose that they think if they are at. war that it is no more wicked to kill a field-marshal than to kill a private, and they are encouraged in that idea by the action and also by the words which the Government have used time after time.
I do not say it is possible to put the hands of the clock back to where they were 12 months ago. I think that that would be folly. I see that in the Press there is an attempt to represent that the party in this House with which I am associated are anxious to take advantage of this tragedy to attack the Government not merely for their policy, and to censure them for it, but to call upon them to reverse their policy by going back on the Treaty and reconquering Ireland. Our great and distinguished Friend who has gone said more than once in this House—and I thoroughly agree with him—that sooner or later the reconquest of Ireland would be an unavoidable necessity. But I certainly am not suggesting to the Government to-day that in consequence of the murder which has taken place we can put the hands of the clock back. But what I do say is that we ought to bring it home to this House and the country that not only the state of affairs in Ireland itself, but even this supreme tragedy, is the direct result of the policy of the Government.
I cannot help recalling the last conversation which I had with Sir Henry Wilson in the precincts of this House, not 24 hours before his death. He was speaking about a meeting to which he was going in Glasgow. I said that I hoped that if he was going to Glasgow he would be well looked after, and I said, "You know they might have a shot at you," After he had said, with a little humorous smile, "Well, they might miss me," I said, "Yea, but they might hit you." Then he paused for a moment, and said, with that whimsical use of words which those of us who knew and loved him knew so well, "Yes, they might hit me, but it would be much nicer to be shot by them than to shake hands with them." And that is, I think, what many of us feel. Certainly, I think there is a growing realisation in the country itself that the Government policy has produced the evils which we have at present, and we say that not only now, but that ab initio it was a disgraceful policy. That distinguished soldier, who was laid to rest to-day to the sound of the mourning of a mighty nation, and these right hon. Gentlemen have both had their relations with the gunmen of Ireland, and those relations have sacrificed his life and have steeped their's in dishonour.
The two last speakers are well entitled in this House to speak for Northern Ireland and, indeed, as Irishmen, for all Ireland, and I think that we all listened to them with respect and admiration because of their sincerity. But I was rather sorry to note during those two speeches the whole-hearted desire to condemn the Government and denounce the Government. They seemed to suggest to the House Government responsibility for Irish disruption and turmoil. My mind goes back, I am sorry to say, to 50 years' interest in public affairs, and I remember the Fenian outrages in the sixties. I remember the attempt to blow up Clerkenwell Prison, I think in 1867 or 1868. I have taken a somewhat active interest in Irish affairs ever since that time, and I know of no time during the whole 50 or 60 years during which there has not been disruption and turmoil in that country. Therefore, it does seem to me that to talk in the manner of some of my hon. Friends, and to attribute all the ills in Ireland to the present Government, is not to have an appreciation of the magnitude of the problem that now confronts us, and always has confronted us.
I heard the speech of the Colonial Secretary to-day with great pleasure, because it seemed to me that it did take a wide and comprehensive sweep of the trouble in front of us. It in no way gave any countenance to crime. But, on the other hand, it discouraged all those who would make use of such terrible crime as that which was committed the other day to inflame passion in this country. I welcomed the statement that there was going to be a real effort made to stop the border raids and to protect the six Northern counties from invasion. But to my ears the most welcome note was in the last sentences of the speech, in which the Colonial Secretary gave notice to all and sundry that murder and anarchy must stop, or otherwise the Government might think it advisable to retrace their steps. I welcome that because I am sure that the people of this country are sick and tired of murder and that their patience is nearly exhausted.
I was called upon by the Prime Minister, in common with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), to take some little special responsibility for the offer made to Ireland last December, and it is only because of that that I venture to address a few observations of a general character to the Committee now. The offer in question, it seems to me, was one that came out of the generous suggestion of the King in June of last year. It was one that I think might be said to express the high water mark of British Irish policy. It was one that could not be exceeded, having regard to strategic and geographical facts, by any Government, and I look at the position now in Ireland from that point of view. Looking at the general situation from that point of view it must be admitted that the position admits of only profound dissatisfaction.
I say that for several reasons. First of all we find that trusting the Irish people—and I say this with extreme regret, but it must be admitted—has not been justified. The prompt fulfilment of the Treaty on our part left Irishmen to the full enjoyment of their right to paddle their own canoe, and manage their own internal affairs as they thought best, and so soon as, and in proportion as this was done., the country has lapsed into murder and anarchy. That is an unfortunate and uncomfortable fact, but still it is a fact, and we must face it. But worst of all to my mind is this, that British soldiers and British citizens in Ireland, in conditions which ought to have secured for them special protection due from Irish honour, have been foully done to death in the eyes of crowds of Irishmen, and not a single one of them has interfered to stop it. That, to my mind, is the most melancholy fact which we have got to face to-day. I say further that I am sorry that that dastardly crime, the murder of a gallant officer and a kindly gentleman, has been made the occasion, outside that fact, to inflame public feeling in this country. That will do no good.
If we followed the urge of the old Adam within us, we should be inclined to retrace our steps, not because of this particular murder, because, after all, the life of this distinguished man was of just as much, and no more, value to his wife and family as the lives of humble men who have been done to death by scores. I noticed in the speech of the Colonial Secretary the statement that no fewer than 15 British soldiers and 15 British citizens had been done to death in Ireland during the last six months, and that in not a single case had the murderer been brought to justice. If we followed the urge of the old Adam within us, we should be disposed to retrace our steps and send an army to reconquer Ireland. What would that benefit us? Would it settle anything? It seems to me that, at the best, it would simply crush a people who, on the whole, only want fair play and peace, and who have been overridden by their own people instead of by us for the last six months. Therefore, if we did that, we should simply cause a great deal of bloodshed, and then we should be left in exactly the same position as that which we have had at any time during the last 50 years. I hope we shall do nothing of the kind.
With regard to protection, I have noted during the last day or two that the Home Secretary and the Home Office generally and the police have been blamed for not protecting Ministers. I believe that what has been done in the way of protecting Ministers has been absolutely futile and a waste of public money. I believe that if there are miscreants about, with hate in their hearts and murder in their minds, they will find the opportunity to achieve their object. A year or two ago I used to go home with a Cabinet Minister, and he had a man to protect him. The man used to get on the train with us at Westminster to go to Victoria, and get on another train there and go to Herne Hill and then leave us. I believe his duty was to follow the Minister of Labour to his door, but he did not do so because the Minister of Labour discharged him at Herne Hill Station. Thereafter, the Minister and myself walked in the dark for five or ten minutes to our destinations. It seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, that if anyone had set out to murder the Minister of Labour the only result of having a man fussing about with him and me at the same time would be that there would be three murders instead of one. I admit that there might be some advantage if you sent men about following Ministers and other prominent persons and armed them. At all events there would be a better chance of crippling the murderers. But we should simply encourage the use of firearms in the community and by so doing lead to the worse results that would follow, I hope we shall do nothing of the kind.
Notwithstanding all I have said with regard to the unfortunate reception, I had almost said the ungrateful reception, on the part of the Irish people of the offer made them last December, I range myself with the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) in his plea, on the last occasion when the matter was discussed, for more patience and more faith in democratic principles. The miserable creatures who are now in a London gaol for the murder of our gallant Friend, Sir Henry Wilson, are not so much to blame as those who have poured poison into the minds of the Irish people during the last six months. It is they and their kind that I would like to see the Government dealing with more firmly than they have done. De Valera I regard as an irresponsible theorist or poseur, and I suppose Rory O'Connor is not much better. It seems to me that the other men, Mr. Collins and Mr. Griffith, and others who have been in charge of forces in Ireland, have not acquitted themselves as they ought to have done during the last six months. They had responsibility and they have not discharged it. They have raised Sinn Fein into a fetish and put it in the place of Irish interests and the Irish people. To my mind that is the most melancholy and disquieting fact of the moment. The Irish Provisional Government has temporised, as the Colonial Secretary said, and has faltered, when all history and experience show that in the circumstances in which they were placed nothing but courage and pluck and promptitude in dealing with matters before them would have succeeded. We can see that, whether we discuss it from the point of view of the facts or otherwise. But I am not disposed to go further than the Colonial Secretary's indication of the position of the Government. I have still faith that in due time, especially now that the Irish people have shown by the election that they are in favour of the Treaty—I have still faith that the Irish people will put some pluck into their elected representatives, and that we shall see something like ordered government in Ireland.
There are one or two causes for the Irish attitude which we ought to bear in mind in extenuation of the position of affairs in that country. The first is the obsession about self-determination. They are not particularly responsible for that. If any one man could be held more responsible than any other for this obsession about self-determination, which is not only the obsession of the Irish people, but of many other peoples, it is ex-President Wilson. Ever since ex-President Wilson popularised the saying about self-determination, we have had trouble in Poland, in Jugo-Slavia, and in various small countries whose minds have been inflamed by the phrase. Each of them has overspread its own borders and tried to remove its neighbour's landmarks. And now we are having increased trouble in Ireland, which ought to be one unit of government, instead of which there is a border line across the country. The Irish people are not specially responsible for that. All small people and some big peoples have got it into their heads, and it has been a cause of trouble in many places. There is another cause. There has been no migration from Ireland during the last eight years. During the War, when Irishmen ought to have been fighting with us in the field, instead of 40,000 to 50,000 Irishmen going to America every year, those 40,000 or 50,000 were saved up annually, as it were. They found themselves with little to do, and as the old proverb says, the devil always finds some mischief for idle hands. There is a further cause for which we most accept part of the responsibility. That is the guerilla warfare, before the generous gesture of the King last year. That has developed in the minds of the Irish people a lack of appreciation of the value of human life, and has developed more hatred of this country than ever before. I was against that policy, and said so in this House and elsewhere. At all events we cannot hold the Irish altogether responsible for that. I think events have proved that, had we been wise, instead of adopting the policy of guerilla warfare for two or three years, if we were to deal with the situation at all, we ought to have sent a considerable army over there. We did not do so.
Fourthly and lastly, there is the psychology of the Irish people generally, in consequence of the oppression—I do not want to use any words which may offend the susceptibilities of anyone, but there has been a peculiar psychology in Ireland, built up as the result of generations of the particular relationship of that country and this. After all, you could not have expected to have got rid of that psychology in a few months. Even a year, the time since the King's speech at Belfast, is an infinitesimal portion of the life of a nation. We ought to have patience, and more patience, with the Irish people, even in spite of great provocation. Surely these events, which have so startled and shocked the world for the last year or so, will eventually disappear. Surely Irishmen, somehow or other, will come out of that misty and evil past of two hundred and three hundred years ago, and will try to bring themselves up into the twentieth century. I would give them another chance. The elections must surely have strengthened the hands of the Provisional Government so that it will really begin to govern. Let us, then, keep our heads, and encourage the Provisional Government to go on. I am still hopeful that democratic principles will work in Ireland as they have worked elsewhere, and I shall give my support to the Government.
I cannot begin to address the House on the day when we all,
or many of us, were present at the impressive ceremony in St. Paul's Cathedral, without saying a word about the late Sir Henry Wilson. He was of all our soldiers my most intimate friend. I met him for the first time many years ago at Lord Roberts's house. I was greatly attracted by him, and I then formed the opinion, which all my subsequent knowledge of him has only confirmed, that he was a man of very exceptional intellectual ability. It was, therefore, to me a source of supreme regret that, in the early days of the War, his talents were, as I thought, not properly used; and I rejoiced extremely when at last he attained a position which not only did justice to his immense capacity, but enabled him to do great service to the nation that he loved. I wish to say, however, that although in small ways I tried to make use of his services, yet I can claim no credit for his appointment, which was given entirely by the Prime Minister. When I first heard of his death, I thought of words which I read long ago. They were words used about another, and I think they applied to him with special force. They are very simple words—
He died, loved as well as admired by all who knew him, and most by those who had known him most intimately.
I, for one, share the feeling expressed by an hon. Friend below the Gangway, that we do not wish the death of this great soldier and lovable man to be used to inflame passion. None of us wishes that. I listened to the speech of my hon. Friend below me (Mr. R. McNeill) with great admiration. I have heard many good speeches from him, but never any so able as his speech to-day. I feel that on a subject which has interested me so much all my life, I cannot give a vote to-night without stating the reasons for it. The speech of my hon. Friend below me and many others have been to this effect—"the whole policy of the Government is wrong; the Government was responsible for all this: let us get rid of it."
If that be the lesson—not of Sir Henry Wilson's death, but of the conditions of which Sir Henry Wilson's death is only an example—it is a lesson obviously that I cannot teach. I, like the Government, was responsible for approving of the Treaty, and it is for others to try to draw that lesson. My hon. Friend I know—and I think it is true of many others—feels that the Government have done so wrong in this matter that the first thing is to get rid a them. I am not at all sure that that would be very difficult. I am inclined to think that my right hon. Friend himself at the head of the Government—judging others by one-self—would not be so very sorry to go. But when you have got rid of the Government, how much further are you? My hon. Friend said—and he will pardon me if I say that there was a little lapse of logic in his speech—that for the moment, at least, he does not want the Government or anybody else to go back to-day on the Treaty. He does not want that, but what is the meaning of a vote to turn out the Government, if that be the case? Can you imagine a Government formed by the overthrow of this one which is not compelled by the logic of circumstances instantly to reverse the whole position? I am not prepared to say that we ought to scrap the Treaty. But I confess that for many months I have been very anxious about the position in Ireland—very uncertain whether the Government were dealing with it in the right way, and very doubtful whether I myself ought not to have expressed some opinion about it.
I have had that feeling, and I am sure my Friends on the Treasury Bench will not blame me for it. I agreed with the Treaty, but I confess, had I foreseen exactly what the position would have been to-day, I doubt whether I should have voted for the Treaty. That is not at all because of the anarchy in Ireland. It is not because of the murder of Sir Henry Wilson. Any hon. Members who heard me speak will perhaps recall that I pointed out that that sort of thing was inevitable, and that people were fools who thought that the passing of this Treaty was going to end it. It was not for that reason, but I—certainly not by any intention on the part of the Government—was entirely deceived, or I misunderstood two vital things in connection with the Treaty. They were both vital. I thought that those who signed the Treaty in good faith, and without any arrière pensée, accepted the position that Ulster could never be brought in until they were willing to be brought in. Everything that has happened since has shown that I was wrong in forming that opinion.
The next point, equally vital, in which I was mistaken was that I assumed that the men who had signed that Treaty not only meant to keep it in good faith, but meant to run risks, and all risks, in carrying it out. I understood they meant to govern. We all know that they have not even tried. It is easy to criticise the Government. Nobody ought to know that better than myself. It is especially easy to criticise it after the event. But there was one thing in the early stages of this development which, I think, is very difficult to explain. The Committee remembers that we and the House loyally accepted it. We looked upon the Treaty as something as a whole, and would not permit any breach of it. But, before that Treaty had gone through this Parliament it was, in my opinion—I do not think there is any doubt about it—broken, not only in the letter or detail, but in the whole spirit, by the pact between De Valera and Collins. The whole essence of the Treaty—no one will deny it—was that it was to be submitted to this Parliament and to the representatives of Southern Ireland; that they were to express their opinion upon it, and, if both accepted it, it would be assumed that the Provisional Government had the support of Ireland, and would proceed as quickly as possible to have an election. What happened? Immediately—and it was suggested to me at the time that those who signed the Treaty thought there was very little difference between the Republic and the Free State—they made a bargain that they would put off the election for months.
What does that mean? I am sure the Government realise it. Let the Committee realise what it means. It meant that until that was settled—for, by putting it off, the whole question was thrown into the melting pot. Nobody could tell whether or not there would be a Government that would be capable of taking over our responsibility. In these circumstances I think my right hon. Friends made a mistake. It is easy to be wise after the event, and very likely I should have done what they did. I know perfectly well what would have been said. They would have been told by those in Ireland: "If you interfere with us, we shall not have the same chance of winning." I admit all that—but when they handed over to the Government of Ireland, they destroyed the only instrument which in times of trouble could be relied uopn—the police. They did that when, admittedly, after they had signed the Treaty, the thing was in suspense to such an extent that they must wait for three months to see what would happen. Very likely I should have done the same thing, but it was a very great responsibility, and it turned out ill. I am sure nobody will recognise the responsibility more than the Prime Minister.
There is another point. I said they had refused to govern. That, in itself, is fatal. I remember perfectly well saying—and I think everyone agreed with me—that my real hope of this settlement succeeding when so many had failed was because, for the first time, the representatives of Southern Ireland had accepted the position that Ulster could only be induced to come in freely. That is a vital matter. Has there been the smallest sign that those who signed the Treaty really mean to act upon it? I am the last to try to make trouble, but I read Mr. Collins' speech. We must make all allowances for speeches of politicians, and most of all for speeches of Irishmen who have become politicians; but, making all that allowance, I felt that the whole thing was hopeless when I read this speech of Mr. Collins, after making the last agreement with Mr. de Valera. I have got the extracts in my pocket if anyone doubts what I say. In the first place he said, in substance: "We are told that this agreement is contrary to the Treaty. If so, so much the worse for the Treaty." That is the substance of his speech, but the point I am dwelling upon is more serious. He said: "These differences between de Valera and me are serious, but they are absolutely unimportant compared with the other differences. We are all united on one thing—we are all united against partition." Whatever may be said about the boundary, the Treaty is an acknowledgement of partition until Ulster is willing to come in. I confess that when I read that, I felt very hopeless.
There is another thing which I should like to say in connection with it. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary—let me sax, in passing, that the end of his speech did everything which I would say you can ask the Government to do, or any Government to do, to-day; that is my view—said, and I was rather sorry to hear it, that there had been murder on both sides in Ulster. He said—and I am sure, when he thinks about this, he will recognise it is not true—that if either party would stop murdering, the whole thing would end. That is certainly wrong. There was no murder in Ulster until those who were dissatisfied with the Treaty arrangement began to take action. But it goes much further than that. Just think of the difficulty of Sir James Craig's Government in dealing with the situation. Within their own borders resistance has been created, and there is this feeling which has lasted for centuries. That is hard enough, but I honestly believe they could have dealt with that without great violence had they been left alone. This murdering in Ulster is the direct result of instigations from beyond the border, and is caused entirely by that. Let the Committee think for a moment what that means. My right hon. Friend's attention was called to what is happening in the Four Courts. I do not think anyone could have read the letter issued from that quarter without the same feeling of abhorrence which was expressed by the Colonial Secretary. But there was something else in it more likely than anything to arouse our horror. The reference to Sir Henry Wilson's death, in which they said they did not do it, clearly implied that they found no fault with it; and I think it is not going too far to say that they would not have been the least ashamed of it had they done it.
Just think of this. Here we have, by Treaty and Act of Parliament, this Government in Northern Ireland. There is in Dublin, in another country, a body which has seized the Four Courts—to make the irony more complete, it is the centre of justice in Ireland—and from those Four Courts, undoubtedly, emissaries are going out, trying to carry out in Ulster precisely the same methods which they think succeeded in the South, and are instigating murder in every direction. Is that tolerable for a moment? Let the Committee think what it means. Suppose we found out that there was a body occupying an important position in Paris, which was openly subsidising murderers to come to this country, and upset our Government. What would happen? We should not make representations to the Government in Paris, and say, "We must make sure you do not approve of it." We should say, "You must stop this, or there is war." Are we to be in a different posi- tion in that respect towards what appears to me to be one of our own Dominions?
Speaking, as I am, without having thought carefully out what I was going to say, there is a danger of my putting the matter more strongly than I mean. I would be the last to say—and in this I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Barnes)—that to-day we should abandon all hope. I do not mean that. I say that the elections in Ireland are worth something. They show that public opinion in Ireland, had it free play, would, perhaps, for the first time in our history, be in favour of peace with this country. That counts for a great deal. My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, I think, greatly exaggerated the difference between present and previous periods. He has told us over and over again that everyone in Ireland knew that the whole public opinion was in favour of this treaty-election, and that the election in spite of proportional representation had made it plain. It is not really any plainer than it was before. May I ask my right hon. Friend if he knows how it is that the Provisional Government has refused to face the facts up to now, and what reason has he to suppose that they are more likely to face them now? There is one reason. Apart altogether from the great mass of the Irish people, and in spite of all the things that have happened—by far the worst and the most demoralising is that in vast masses of that population they can see no distinction between war and murder. Apart altogether from the great mass of the Irish people, who I think want peace, I believe the extremists themselves are not very fond of the idea of being hunted again by the representatives of the British Government.
I happened to read a newspaper called "The Republic of Ireland," in which there was a long leading article intended to show that England was so sick of it that she would not in any circumstances interfere with the republic. If that be the attitude and the state of mind of these people, it may have some effect if, now, the Government say: "We and the English nation long for peace, but if there is to he peace, you must govern." If you do not, terrible as it may be—and I do not think there is any man in this House, and my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury certainly is not one, who does not realise what a terrible thing it would be if we were again reduced to try to secure order in Southern Ireland by that means. But if we have to do so, as my right hon. Friend has said, the Government will do it. My hon. Friend below me and other hon. Members have said that the Government have often given that promise before. I am not going to defend the Government, but I would point out that they did not create the difficulty in Ireland. It was there; they had to deal with it, and it has been there always. The position is now clear. Much time cannot elapse before these grave matters—to quote a saying of the Colonial Secretary—are brought to the test. I for one say that I believe the Government means to see this through. But if they do not, I will be against them, and I hope the House of Commons will also be against them.
I am delighted to see my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) joining in this debate. But, speaking as an old Conservative, and remembering how many of their former principles members of that party have thrown overboard in this Irish business, I hope that none of them have in any way also thrown overboard their honour. That is a matter which each man must arrange with his conscience. Having listened to the speech of the Colonial Secretary, I should like to express my gratitude for the handsome and noble way in which he referred to the great citizen who was buried to-day, but there were some remarks in that speech which I should like to have cleared up. He acknowledged that the Government's plans had been thwarted and interfered with by De Valera. I cannot understand any British Government submitting to be interfered with by a theatrical foreigner of that sort. That man should be deported to his country of origin and we should be left to settle our affairs ourselves. The Colonial Secretary spoke with great eloquence about the possibility of a united Ireland. Is it his hope that eventually Ulster is to be joined up with the Parliament in Dublin? The Act of 1920, which was said to be the last word in Home Rule, was supposed to have settled that question altogether. Our friends in the North of Ireland have every reason to feel the gravest suspicion of any statements made by this Government, because after that Act had been passed and Ulster had been given her Parliament, negotiations were carried on behind her back in connection with the Treaty with the object of placing her under her old opponents the Sinn Feiners. Certainly she was afforded safeguards in that respect, but she has every reason to fear the Government's loyalty to the promises made to her. The Northern people have reason for profound suspicion, having regard to the Government's behaviour.
When the Ulster Parliament was created a year ago it was left like a stillborn infant. The Government said they could not confer upon it proper powers until the Southern Parliament was in being. Subsequent events have shown that that was not true, because the Ulster Parliament is now endowed with those powers while the Southern Parliament does not exist at all. I suggest that it was a very poor return to His Majesty the King for going over to Ulster and opening that Parliament to leave it in the condition in which it remained for months. The 1920 Act did provide for security in Southern Ireland during the transition period. The Royal Irish Constabulary was supposed to remain under this Government for three years. That period was extended up to six years and was put back again later on during the progress of the Measure through Parliament, but three years of steady Government would have given the loyalists in Ireland an opportunity of gauging the position and of disposing of their property and leaving the country if they thought it was not going to work well. It is a bitter reflection on the Government that these people were immediately flung to the wolves. Recent happenings in Ireland, which are either suppressed or disregarded by the public Press of this country, are a shame and a dishonour to any Government responsible for the safety and well-being of the individual. I am not going into details, but I could give the House dozens of cases where outrages have taken place, where women have been violated, where houses have been burned and people have been slaughtered, without a single finger of disapprobation being held up.
We hear a lot of talk about America, and people say, "Let us copy America." Well, I wish we did. The Americans have difficulties in the Philippines and Cuba, approximating in some degree to our troubles in Ireland, but the Americans always insist upon maintaining control of their dependencies, and will not give way to local clamour. The fault of the Government is an undue optimism. They have been subject to a sort of complacency, to an idea that their special brand of Home Rule was going to get over every possible difficulty. They omitted to recognise the basic fact that, to a large degree, in the native Irishman there is a strong streak of the primeval savage. I make no accusation against them, but I think they are in a different stage of development from ourselves. That is a fact proved by history. The Government seem to think simply, because they have surrendered to their new allies, that there is absolutely no need for the protection of anyone at all. I think in this matter they show that want of judgment to which the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow has drawn attention in other respects. I deeply regret that the contentions in Ireland have had attached to them a religious label. Outrages in Ireland are committed, not because of religion, but in spite of religion. It is a most deplorable thing when one realises that, under the nose of this Government, and when the word "democracy" is so much used, there is a medieval war of Catholic against Protestant rising up within 20 miles of this country.
I do not think the Government have ever given a proper explanation as to why they ran away from their own creation, the 1920 Act. I firmly believe they made a most deplorable blunder when, after His Majesty had made his great speech in Belfast, instead of letting it work in and soak into the minds of every thinking man in Ireland, within about 10 days they fell on their knees and sued for peace to the rebels. Anyone who knows anything about Irish mentality knows that vanity is a very strong quantity in their make-up, and will know at once that when the Government assumed that attitude Irishmen said, "We have got them beaten and can ask for anything we choose." Now that the vendetta has come over to this country, I do not think we should lose our heads, but I do not agree with the right hon. Member for Gorbals Division of Glasgow (Mr. G. Barnes) who spoke of the police protection of citizens as useless. Speaking as a humble Member of the House I may point out that Sir Henry Wilson was murdered because he was a Die-hard, and it is a very hard thing if Members of this House are to run the risk of being butchered at their own doors because they disagree with the Government. I think the Government should be awakened out of their complacency, and if Sir Henry Wilson's death has tended to do that, he has not died altogether in vain. There ought to be some enactment of the old Defence of the Realm Act. It is preposterous that any ruffians from Ireland should he allowed to come into this country armed to the teeth and that there should be no means of identifying them or of passing them through the hands of some duly constituted body to ascertain why they are coming here. I think it is especially deplorable in the present instance when we realise that one of the ruffians who committed this tragedy was drawing the King's pay at the very time he killed one of the King's greatest subjects. Those who joined in that great ceremony which took place to-day did so to express our admiration and affection for the great man who has come to such an untimely end, and I cannot help thinking that the Government have materially contributed to this national disaster. If this Amendment goes to a Vote, I shall certainly vote against the Government, because I think they have shown a want of appreciation of the conditions and a. lack of initiative and foresight, considering the state of affairs which exists between Ireland and this country at the present time.
I ventured to address the House just before the Whitsuntide Recess on the general question, and I do not wish to say again to-night what I tried to say then, and the more so as my right hon. Friend below me, the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), has expressed, far better than I could, my attitude towards this evening's Debate. I have risen for another purpose, which is, however, very germane to this Debate, and that is to draw the attention of the Government and of the Committee to a very vital side of this problem—the problem of the Irish refugees. I was glad to hoar the Colonial Secretary say that he intended to bring pressure upon the Provisional Government at once to carry out their obligations. I hope that he will particularly devote himself to the question of the refugees, and that he will point out to the Provisional Government that the test to which this House is entitled to put them is their treatment of the minority in the South. It seems to me that the greatest condemnation of the Bolshevist Government is the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of Russian subjects compelled to live outside the Russian borders. Let us not have the same thing happen with the minority in Ireland. To-day, week by week, men and women are being driven out of their homes in Ireland.. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Belfast!"] They are being driven from their homes in Belfast, I admit; I want both sides of the case dealt with fairly. Men and women are being driven from their homes in the South, and I do not think at present the Government have realised the urgency of this problem and the need to deal with it far more comprehensively than they are dealing with it at the present moment.
As it is now, there are three different organisations attempting to deal with the refugees. There is an organisation in Ulster attempting to deal with the Protestant refugees who come into Ulster from the South; there is an organisation of the Provisional Government attempting to deal with the Catholics who leave the North and go into the area of the Southern Government; and here, in London, there is a small Departmental Committee, of which I am Chairman, dealing with the cases of the men and women who come over to Great Britain. Each of these bodies is dealing with this problem in a very haphazard and a very piecemeal way. Let me give my own experience. The Committee with which I am connected has a very small grant of money at its disposal. We are acting very much in the dark, for it is almost impossible to make inquiries, as nobody knows better than the Prime Minister, as to particular cases, and we are tied down by our terms of reference to dealing with what virtually amount to cases of destitution. That means that all that we can do, and all that we have attempted to do, is to give these refugees small doles—there are several hundreds—to keep them alive and to save them from starvation for the moment. I readily admit that the problem is not a very easy one. If one knew that none of these refugees would ever return to Ireland, it would be possible then to adopt a much more definite policy and attempt to resettle them in England, but, of course, there is always the hope that things will go better and that, eventually, many of these men and women will be able to return to their homes. At the moment, however, we have to deal with them at a time when they have nothing to live upon at all and to save them from actual starvation. The more I have thought about the problem the more convinced I have become that, even admitting this difficulty, the present organisation could be very greatly improved.
Let me suggest to the Prime Minister one or two definite ways in which this improvement might be carried out. I am quite convinced myself that the problem of relief is tied up with the problem of compensation. There are a number of these refugees who are entitled to large sums of compensation for actual damage done to their property in Ireland, but these cases of compensation are not being quickly settled. The result of that is that, many men and women who have got judgments in their favour amounting to many thousands of pounds—in one case that I know of amounting to £50,000—are at present over here, with absolutely nothing except the clothes they stand up in. The Committee will remember that a mixed Commission, known as the Shaw Commission, is dealing with these cases of compensation. What progress is the Shaw Commission actually making with its work? I understand that there are more than 12,000 cases to be decided by the Shaw Commission, and that the claims for compensation amount to no less than £10,000,000. The Shaw Commission has now been sitting for, I think, three months, and out of those 12,000 cases it has dealt with eight cases, and in no case that I know of has the claimant obtained any sum of money at all. That means that at that rate of progress it will be 400 or 500 years before many of these claimants get a single penny.
There is another side of it. As the law stands now, a man may have his property totally confiscated by the rebels, yet he has no claim for compensation at all; the only claim that he has is for actual damage. I have got several cases—the case, for instance, of a man who owns a very valuable farm in County Tipperary, and the case of a very prominent business firm in the centre of Dublin—where no actual damage has been done to the property, but where the property has been taken over, lock, stock, and barrel, by the rebels. I venture to say to the Government that it is incumbent upon them and upon this Committee to see that that gap in the present legislation as to compensation is set right. Further, take the case of the Committee here, over which I am now presiding. Within its limits it is doing its work as well as one can hope, but the limits are very narrow limits, its terms of reference are strictly limited, its machinery is very small, and I venture to suggest to the Prime Minister that, if we are to do our duty to the many hundreds of destitute refugees who are coming over, a much bigger and more comprehensive organisation than this Committee is urgently needed. I find myself in this difficulty. The Committee, as I say, is a Committee with a very limited reference, a very small sum of money, and very limited powers, yet upon several occasions Members of the Government have referred to it from the Government Bench as if it were capable of dealing with all sorts of difficult and complicated problems. Only the other day my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War turned to me and said, "Your Committee can deal with the cases of the disbanded men of the Irish regiments." I tell this Committee that my Committee is totally incompetent, owing to its terms of reference, owing to the small sums of money at its disposition, and owing to the fact that we are only a small Departmental body, to deal with such questions as that, and I say to this Committee that, if they want the refugees problem properly dealt with here and properly dealt with in Ireland, a Royal Commission should be set up, with, if possible, representatives of the Ulster and Dublin Governments upon it. The Royal Commission should have placed at its disposal a. considerable sum of money and efficient machinery, and from that sum of money it should be empowered to make substantial money advances to these many thousands of Irishmen who have got judgments against one or other of the Governments.
There was the case, for instance, brought to my attention the other day, where a man actually got a judgment for 250,000 against the Provisional Government, and yet to-day he is penniless. This Commission should be in a position, with sufficient sums at its disposal, to make that man, within the next two or three days, a substantial loan against the first-class security of a definite legal judgment. That is all I want to say to the Committee to-day, but I did wish to take this opportunity of pointing out that the refugee problem is not being faced as comprehensively as it should be faced, and I hope that one of the first results of this Debate will be, in the first place, that the Colonial Secretary will impress its urgency upon the Provisional Government, and, in the second place, that we shall set up here a much more comprehensive organisation than we have at present.
Mr. GIDEON MURRAY:
I should like to associate myself with the remarks that have just been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). I am aware of the large number of cases which are streaming over to this country—cases of destitution, cases of great hardship, with which the Committee that has been set up, and over which my hon. Friend presides, is unable to deal, owing to the limits which he has described. I wish, therefore, to associate myself very strongly with the suggestion which he has thrown out to the Government, that they should at once set up a Royal Commission or a Select Committee of a representative nature in order to deal with those matters. The circumstances which have given rise to this Debate today make it extremely difficult to speak with restraint. A splendid soldier and statesman, one of the finest and noblest characters in the country, has been foully murdered, and at a time when the Empire least can spare him. The group to which I belong in this House has been robbed of a Member of incalculable worth and political strength, whose counsels were always wise and helpful, and to his personal friends his loss can never be repaired. It is not my intention to charge the Government with direct responsi- bility for this ghastly crime. It would obviously be absurd. As we all know, although the Government have not been above shaking hands with murderers, they themselves would not commit murder, nor would they instigate murder. But I do say—and I say it very deliberately—that this horrible incident has occurred largely as a result of the Government's policies By its various phases of vacillation and surrender, it has helped to create this awful and deplorable state in Ireland, culminating as it has in this terrible tragedy here a few days ago.
What was the first fatal step taken by this Government? What was the first public sign of their weakening in the settlement of Ireland? It was the premature negotiations undertaken with Mr. de Valera, at a time when the Government ought to have been prosecuting more firmly than ever their task of restoring law and order, and rounding up the gunmen who have been, and still are, a terror in Ireland. What was the next fatal step of the Government? It was when the Prime Minister, at half-past one in the morning signed the Free State Treaty, and betrayed his trust to Ulster. He betrayed his trust to Ulster in a twofold manner—over the boundary question, and by including Ulster in the Irish Agreement. I say that agreements which are begotten in deceit and betrayal can never succeed. Since then, affairs in Ireland have been going from bad to worse. Throughout Ireland, both North and South—I make no distinction—murders have increased tenfold. In the South of Ireland, outrages on women have been of frequent occurrence. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) read out to us a description of an awful case of this kind which occurred recently. Property is confiscated, seized and destroyed, and very few loyalists are safe from molestation. The mass of the people are cowed, and have lost all sense of discipline and order. In Glasgow there are at the present moment, we have been publicly told, six battalions of the Irish Republican Army waiting to do the dirty work of the people from whom they take their commands in Dublin. The state of Ireland is terrible everywhere, and now it has spread to this country, culminating, as I have said, in the terrible tragedy which was witnessed only a few days ago.
Our wise Government, intoxicated by the support of the tame majority in this House, have deluded themselves into believing that conditions have improved. These were the very words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of this House last Friday afternoon, and the Home Secretary also said on that occasion that the conditions have so improved that police protection was removed from everyone except the Chief Secretary for Ireland. At the time that this protection was removed, all those who are following events in Ireland intelligently, and who are not under the influence of a self-administered dope, knew that the position in Ireland never was worse. Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary this afternoon told us that four weeks ago he had to send 50,000 arms into Ulster, in order to help ameliorate the position in that territory. Knowing that conditions never were worse, what did they do? They removed protection from Members of the Cabinet and from ex-Members of the Cabinet. We all know that, probably as a result of the Government's Irish policy, the Members of the Cabinet were safer from attack than before. But those who were responsible for the safety of other persons not connected with the Cabinet—men like Lord Carson and Sir Henry Wilson—should have known that, as a result of the Government's policy, the position for those gentlemen was more dangerous than it was before.
I do not wish to throw all the blame on the Home Secretary, because he told us that he not only consulted his police advisers, but he also consulted his colleagues in the Cabinet. If that be the case, the Government must share the responsibility with the Home Secretary, and the Prime Minister, as head of the Government, holds a greater responsibility than them all. It has been suggested in certain quarters that the Home Secretary in expiation should be thrown to the wolves. When things have gone wrong, to sacrifice one of their number has been the usual course which has been followed by this Government. But will that solution satisfy the House or the country upon this occasion? I do not think so. On the contrary, they will demand that the arch culprit, the Prime Minister—I wish he were in his place, so that he could hear what I am saying—the Prime Minister, the prince of quick-change artists, the man who shakes hands with murderers, the man who lunches with Bolshevist leaders who are double-dyed murderers, the man who by his follies and weakness and shiftiness has cost us Ireland and is breaking up the Empire—that is the man who ought to be thrown to the wolves, together with all his Government, leaving few to mourn and none to praise.
It may be remarked that this Debate has resulted in criticism without any useful suggestions. If any Government ever justified criticism, it is this Government. All the same, I do not wish that my speech should end upon a note of criticism only, and I should like to make a few suggestions in my concluding remarks. I would suggest to the Government that in England and Scotland they should strengthen the Special Detective Branch organised for dealing with Irish affairs and place Sir Basil Thomson in charge of it, if he will consent to accept the post. I would further suggest that the police should be armed in all the industrial areas, especially in those areas where it is known that large numbers of Irishmen are congregated, and that protection should be given to such public persons who, it may be thought, require it. I entirely disagree with the remarks made by the right hon. Member for the Gorbals Division (Mr. G. Barnes), when he said that police protection was of no use at all. He gave a description of certain experiences of his in company with the Minister of Labour, but, to my mind, that description carried no conviction at all. We had it, I think, from the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary that police protection was of some value, and, therefore, I urge upon the Government to continue police protection and to give it in the case of every person who requires it. In addition, I would suggest, as far as possible, a record be made of Irishmen liable to suspicion who have come over to this country to settle during the past three years. Furthermore, I would institute a very strict surveillance upon all passengers, not only coming from Ireland into this country, but where they are Irish or have any association, or are likely to have it, with Sinn Feiners, coming from other countries overseas as well.
The Colonial Secretary described to us the measures which the Government proposed to take, or are taking, in connection with the assistance to Ulster in her present dilemma. I would go further than that, and would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should consult the Prime Minister of Ulster with a view to sending Imperial troops into Ulster at once, I mean in larger numbers than are there now, and sufficient to establish, if necessary, martial law throughout Ulster, and to help the local government to bring the condition of Ulster to a different state as speedily as possible. So far as the South is concerned, I am in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) and the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) when they suggested that it is not possible to reverse completely the policy of the Government in regard to Southern Ireland and to go in and reconquer it immediately. It is obvious that as things are at the present time that would not be a wise thing to do. But the right hon. Gentleman, in referring to this, stated—I think these were his words:
Unless the present deplorable conditions were brought to a speedy end—
that would happen. I want to know from him what he means by a speedy end I have in my hand a letter from the Secretary to the Provisional Government of Ireland Committee of the Cabinet with regard to the liability for the relief of Irish refugees. This gentleman, whose name I cannot pronounce—it is written in Irish—says:
that is, the Provisional Government—
that normal conditions will be re-established in Ireland in the course of the next two months, and that it will -then be possible for these people to return in safety to their homes. The Chairman of the Provisional Government assured a deputation from the Church of Ireland Synod that the Government would protect its citizens and ensure civil and religious liberty in Ireland, and that spoliation and confiscation would be discountenanced.
That letter was written on 18th May, 1922, five weeks ago. Therefore, taking that date, they anticipated that normal conditions would be re-established in Ireland by 18th July. The Provisional Government anticipate that. What hope is there, as we know conditions to-day, of normal conditions being re-established by 18th July? I suggest to the right hon. Gentle-
man when he says "a speedy end" that he should place a time limit upon the period by which these normal conditions are to be restored. If the Provisional Government has stated in this document that they can restore normal conditions by 18th July, well then, let us give them an extra limit of time, and say that these conditions must be restored in two months otherwise the Imperial Government will step in and restore them for them.
The point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) is one of great importance, and. that is the financial liability for all those refugees who are coming over to this country. When the right hon. Gentleman indites his despatch to the Provisional Government telling them that they must restore normal conditions in a speedy manner, I hope, at the same time, he will impress upon the Provisional Government that they are liable and will be made liable, whether or not they like it., for all the expenses attaching to these refugees, the destruction and confiscation of their property, and the attendant expenses to which they have been put, and to the robberies they have undergone. I trust he will point out, that there will be no getting out of this liability so far as the Provisional Government is concerned. Those are the major steps which I recommend to the notice of the Government. I further recommend to the Government that whatever steps they decide upon, they should stick to them. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that what is required is firmness. That has not been the past record of this Government. I have great doubts whether it can ever be. Personally, I believe that we shall have firmness on the part of the Government of this country only when this Government is changed.
Some mention has been made in this Debate as to the raising of political passions over a tragic occurrence like that of last week. I do not think there has been any desire on the part of any Member to raise political passions, certainly in this House, while, as regards outside, the passions of the people have undoubtedly been raised, but they have not been raised by anything that has been clone by persons of but by the mere facts of the ease themselves. Wherever you go, in the field, the workshop, the mine, or anywhere, the murder of Sir Henry Wilson has really struck deep down into the hearts of the people, and made them angry. But there is an aspect of the murder to which I wish to draw attention; that is the question of the responsibility of the Home Secretary to provide proper protection, because the Home Secretary is responsible for the police measures.
The Home Secretary has stated that all protection was withdrawn because it was thought that there was no more necessity for guarding Ministers and others. He also said that up to the time the late Sir Henry Wilson gave up his office as Chief of the Imperial General Staff he was protected. I should like to ask the Home Secretary by whose advice the protection was withdrawn? Was it on the advice of the Chief Commissioner? Was it on the advice of the Chief of the Special Police? If so, who appointed these officers but the right hon. Gentleman himself—having got rid of Sir Basil Thomson? Last year, before the Truce, many people in this House and other private persons and Ministers were protected by the police. I know, certainly, one case where the person concerned told Sir Basil Thomson that the armed detectives, told off to protect him, had to be taken off: he did not, want them Sir Basil Thomson at once replied that he was very sorry, but he must ask the gentleman concerned to keep the detectives, as it would he a slur on the police if anything happened to him. That was, I know, the attitude that Sir Basil Thomson took towards the protection of Ministers and others. People, like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Gorbals Division (Mr. G. Barnes) say that this is no protection, and that, after all, a desperate man will find some opportunity of killing a man he wants to, whether that man he protected or not. I say that is nonsense. These fanatical and desperate men are not nearly so fanatical or desperate if they think they themselves are going to be shot at. That is the object of the protection, and, at any rate, it acts as a great deterrent to the people who would like to commit murder. The right hon. Gentleman said that all protection was removed—I think it was in March—from the Field-Marshal. Anyone would have thought, seeing the condition of affairs in Ulster, that any efficient police commissioner would have insisted upon protection for Sir Henry Wilson, whether he wanted or not to be protected.
Scotland Yard was actually warned in March after Sir Henry Wilson had left his position as Chief of the. General Staff, and had become a Member of this House, and they were warned—I saw the warning with my own eyes, and I made inquiries on the subject—and it was also shown to Sir Henry Wilson—they were warned that an attempt on his life was very likely. Was anything done? No. I believe there was one policeman who was on beat between Lord Carson's house and the house of Sir Henry Wilson in Eaton Place. That policeman was unarmed. The Home Secretary took great pride in saying that the police could have revolvers if they asked for them. I say that that again is another confession of incompetence on the part of either the Chief Commissioner or the Chief of Police. What policeman, I should like to know, is likely to go and ask for a revolver? What young soldier, if he was told off to a certain duty, and told that he could take arms if he liked, would make himself the laughing stock of his comrades by asking for arms? What policeman would do so? As many have told me they could not possibly go and ask for these things for they would only make them a laughing stock to others.
After all, the question of whether a man should be provided with arms or not should lie with the superior authority, the police sergeant or the inspector. If a constable be given a dangerous task, then those in authority should see to it that he takes arms. For instance, take the ease of an ordinary police constable, who is put on duty outside the house of a Member of Parliament who has his life threatened, and about whom there is specific information that probably an attempt will be made on him. What is the good of putting an unarmed constable outside the door? That constable ought to be armed. I agree that it is not necessary to arm all the police, at any rate at present, and I hope it never will be to arm the police in London, or in England generally; but if you put a man on a job that is a dangerous one he should be armed, and those arms should be given to him by his superior officer. It is a mark of income- petence on the part of high administrative officials of the police to allow men to go out unarmed, and the case of the Home Secretary also a mark of incompetence to allow the police to make that order. Instead of boasting about it he ought to be ashamed of it. When we were discussing on Friday last what had happened, the Lord Privy Seal made I think a very unfair remark about Sir Basil Thomson, and he said that the hon. Member who had referred to that gentleman must have had a very short memory if he did not remember the series of outrages and murders which took place during Sir Basil Thomson's administration in which the culprits were not captured. I think there were only two such murders which took place in which it was impossible to trace the culprits. On the other hand, there were three cases in which the criminals tried either to fire premises or to rob people, and they were captured after firing at the police. In these cases the police captured them in a most gallant manner. One of these cases was at Bramley, where four men were arrested; one of them got 12 years' penal servitude, and three of them 10 years, and two of the policemen got the Police Medal. Other similar cases occurred at Wandsworth, Mitcham, and Clerkenwell.
In all there were 15 cases, and in several cases the men were sentenced to something between three and 12 years' penal servitude. What has now happened to these men? The Home Secretary will, I am sure, be able to assure us that they have all been released. These are the men who shot at the police last year, and they have all been released, and I consider that it is a most abominable dereliction of his high office as Home Secretary to have released those men. How can you expect the police to do their duty if after these men have been caught by unarmed men these miserable scoundrels who fire at the police are either released or get off with very light sentences? The Home Secretary may say that this was a Cabinet decision, and that I have been too harsh with him, but it was certainly a very wrong policy to have released those men.
About three weeks ago, on 29th May, I asked the Home Secretary
whether armed men from Ireland are landing in English ports; and if he can give an assurance that every effort is being made to prevent persons from illegally importing arms into this country?
I have no evidence that this is so. It is illegal to possess firearms without a certificate or other authority under the Firearms Act, 1020, and the police enforce the Act if it is found to be infringed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th May, 1922; Vol. 154, col. 1740.]
My informant told me that on one or two occasions men landed with their pockets stuffed with arms, in fact they were bulging out of their pockets, and no sort of search was made at all. In view of what happened last week, I think it is time that people coming from Ireland should not only have their baggage searched, but their persons as well, in order to see if they have arms in their possession. I was told of a case the other day where a man came over from Ireland showing two pistols in his belt just like a Mexican bravo, and no search was made. At every port where passengers arrive from Ireland they should be searched in order to find out whether they are carrying arms, otherwise these gunmen can come over here and bring their pistols with them. In regard to this question, the Home Secretary cannot say that he has not been warned, or that Scotland Yard, for which he is responsible, has not been warned. Scotland Yard was warned in regard to this danger in March, and in spite of that, and in spite of the fact that Sir Henry Wilson used to stand in his place in this House and make the most incisive speeches which everybody knew must bring down upon him the hatred of all these villains in Ireland, in spite of that, nothing was done by Scotland Yard to protect him.
The Home Secretary, by the question which I have referred to, was warned that people were coming over here with arms in their pockets, and nothing was being clone in the matter. I say that the whole administration of Scotland Yard requires to be completely overhauled, and as the Home Secretary is responsible, and as that Department has failed in its duty, the only honourable course for the Home Secretary to take is to resign, as other Cabinet Ministers have done when it has been found that the administration of their Departments has been seriously at fault. Hon. Members will recollect certain incidents which took place in Mesopotamia which led to the present Lord Privy Seal resigning his position as Secretary of State for India, and by that act, instead of losing prestige, he certainly gained great prestige in this House and throughout the country, because he kept up that high tradition of Ministerial responsibility which is the ancient custom of our country.
I only wish to say a few words about the general situation in Ireland because it has been dealt with by more able speakers than myself. I know hon. Members will be glad to have heard the remarks made by the Colonial Secretary in which he stated that this country would not stand much more of what was going on in Ireland, and that he should expect the Provisional Government to govern. He also alluded to the duality verging on duplicity of having two Governments in Ireland and the pact between Mr. de Valera and Mr. Collins. I was very glad to hear that, and I would like to reinforce the remarks of the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. G. Murray) who said that he would like to see a time limit placed upon this state of things. I think that one month would be too short even for the Provisional Government, but I think they might very reasonably be given three months during which a very marked improvement ought to take place, and during which time they ought to establish their authority and put down these irregular forces and the men whose actions they disown. They should be given at least three months, and should be told that at the end of that period they will be expected to have brought about a very much better state of affairs than exists at the present time and to have set their Government on a firm basis. if after a period of three or six months—and that may not be too long in dealing with the Government of a country like Ireland—they have not done that, I hope this Government will translate words into action, and will proceed to restore order in Ireland and to give some hope of liberty and life to those loyalists in the South of Ireland who are being bullied and murdered in every direction.
There have been some allusions made to-day by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) to terrible cases of outrage. I should like to mention one or two others in order to show the kind of thing that is going on now. In County Clare, on the 17th instant, the wife of a herd, the mother of nine young children, was murdered by masked armed men who broke into her house in pursuit of her husband. Although the man tried to prevent his wife coming to his assistance, she made a desperate effort to do so and was shot dead. In County Cavan, on the same day, men entered a man's house, ordered him out of bed, beat him until he was unconscious, and then directed that he should leave his home within seven days. In Sligo, on the night of the 17th, a band of armed men shot a man and stated they were in search of his brother who was lying in bed dying at the moment. They threw a lighted paraffin lamp at him and he died almost immediately.
At Cork, during the month of April, another outrage occurred, of which I received the intelligence only this morning. It was the case of a man named Hornibrook living near Bantry. His house was broken into at 2.30 in the morning by three men, headed by a so-called Commandant of the Irish Republican Army. They knocked at the door and said they wanted Hornibrook. He made no answer, and so, after a quarter of an hour, according to evidence given at the inquest, they broke into the house by opening the window. The Commandant walked upstairs, and, as he was doing so, was shot by a Captain Woods, who had fought as an officer in the British Army during the Great War, and who had been decorated with the Military Cross. Undoubtedly these men had gone to that house with the intention of murdering the old farmer. The other two men accompanying the Commandant got assistance and arrested Hornibrook and his son and Captain Woods, none of whom have been heard of since. They have no doubt been murdered. At the inquest the men belonging to the Irish Republican Army justified their presence at the house by saying that they were sent there on Irish Republican Army business. One can easily understand what that business was at 2.30 in the morning. That is the sort of thing that Loyalists in the South of Ireland have to put up with. That is the shadow under which they are living. There is no security for life or property. They are coming over here in droves. There are two or three hundred thousand of these people in the South of Ireland who are being driven out of their country. It is for these reasons I ask the Government to fix some time limit within which the Provisional Government shall bring about a better state of affairs, and if at the expiration of that time law and order does not prevail, then I hope the English people will be asked for authority for this country to take action to restore proper conditions in Ireland.
The incidents which the hon. and gallant Member has just narrated, and which arouse feelings of horror in our hearts, are the natural result of the sad and terrible conditions of savagery, cruelty and barbarism of which from time to time, and in very sparing quantities, we are allowed by the Press to hear as occurring in the neighbouring country of Ireland. The pity they arouse it us for the poor people who live under this continual menace of barbarism can hardly be exaggerated, and I find myself in complete agreement with the speech we have just had from the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) in which we were told that at the present moment Ireland presents a spectacle which is a scandal to humanity, a scandal to civilisation, a disgrace to the British Empire, and, above all, a disgrace to Ireland herself. But these facts, I hope, will not tempt us to indulge in any orgy of indignation against this Government or even against the Government In Ireland at the present moment. That is a very facile and tempting course to follow, but I think the speech of the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow more accurately embodies the tone and mood in which this House approaches this very grave Debate—a tone of seriousness and of sorrow at the state of things we are faced with in Ireland, and a mood of very serious thought and of resolution and determination that, if the Irish cannot bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion themselves, it shall nevertheless be brought to an end somehow. The weighty and illuminating utterances which this House has listened to from time to time from the right hon. Member for Central Glasgow have, I think, never thrilled us with greater interest than has tonight his very weighty and illuminating speech on this particular subject. As he said very truly, it is absurd to put the case as if the Irish problem arose with the advent to power of this Government in 1918, or as if the great difficulties we are faced with now were of the making of the present Government. They are nothing of the sort, and everyone knows it. The Irish problem is as old as the juxtaposition of the two countries of Great Britain and Ireland. The difficulties have been particularly acute in the last 15 years. The present situation, I think, probably began with the repeal of the Arms Act under the Birrell regime in Ireland, the practical abolition of the secret service in that country. The operation of these measures enabled every Irish ruffian to arm himself with a pistol, and removed a very great check upon disorder and lawless- ness in Ireland. After that there was the long Home Rule phase, which brought Ireland once to the brink of civil war, and in the course of which there was the Dublin rebellion. Since then things have been going on almost in a natural sequence of events, and we have had the Treaty phase, in which we have beheld Ireland running down a sort of in-evitable slope into the present state of disorder and anarchy in which she finds herself.
All this sort of inexorable progress has been brought home to us in a very deep and tragic way lately, and, personally, I am bound to say I think it exemplifies the deep fact in politics that, if any Government does let loose the floodgates of lawlessness and crime by removing all checks, and not properly enforcing order and law, the country may be submerged by the flood. Such a policy is in the long run a policy, not of mercy, but of great cruelty to the country in question. I sat in this Chamber at the end of 1920 and during the whole of 1921, when the Government were showing, as I thought they did, a real determination to establish law and order and put down crime, murder and anarchy in Ireland, and I am bound to say that they did not get very much support from the House of Commons. They were bitterly assailed from the Independent Liberal Beaches and from the Labour Benches for what was called their Prussianism, their repressive measures, and everything of that sort, and I do not think they got very great support from the Members who now compose what may be called the Die-Hard party. I doubt if they were adequately supported in their very laudable efforts to introduce law and order in Ireland. I, myself, made two or three speeches in a humble manner, in which I told them that the population of the South of Scotland, so far from condemning reprisals and Black and Tans, wanted more reprisals and more Black and Tans, and wanted, above all, the scandal of criminality and lawlessness in Ireland to be restrained and put down.
Then came the attempt of the Treaty. I am bound to say that the very pessimistic note struck by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow about the whole Treaty arrangements, and the whole system of the Treaty, found a very sad echo in the hearts of most hon. Members in this Chamber. We are governed by an optimist at the present moment, and the optimism of the Prime Minister is certainly, and has been since December, 1916, one of the most precious assets of this country. I trust and pray that the optimism which he has several times expressed with regard to Ireland and with regard to the Treaty will be justified, and that the pessimism with which incurable pessimists like myself regard the Irish problem will be entirely falsified. The symptoms upon which we are looking just now, however, warrant the very serious and almost gloomy view which was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow. It seems to me that he put the case properly when he said, if Ireland would not only live but would let live, well and good. Even if Ireland would live and be far from us, if it were one of the group of the Fiji Islands—a wish that has been felt, probably, by every British Minister who has had anything to do with Ireland—if that were the case, well and good. But Ireland—that is to say, Green Ireland—must not only live, but must let live. If it has determined not to let Ulster lead a decent life, free from murder, arson and crime, and if it has determined not to let Great Britain live a decent life either, but to send murderers and gunmen to commit outrages in the very heart of the Empire here in London, Ireland will have to be dealt with very drastically. It is the old problem of barbarism and civilisation existing side by side. They cannot exist side by side. If civilisation does not conquer barbarism, barbarism will over-run civilisation.
We have seen barbarism invading Ulster with the firebrand and the pistol, and trying to make life intolerable for Belfast. It has been brought closely to our own doors here in London. That will have to cease, or the independence, what is called the self-determination, of the 26 counties, will have to cease, and they will have to be re-conquered again. I welcome the very determined utterances of the Colonial Secretary at the end of his speech to-day, that the Government means business, that they mean really to protect Ulster and Great Britain from the menace of the gunmen, and not to allow Irish crime to be sent forth from the Four Courts in Dublin to disturb and terrorise the inhabitants of the more peaceful countries around. I quite agree with the remark of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill), that perhaps a little scepticism was justifiable in the minds of Members of the House of Commons when they remembered the long list of very resolute utterances regarding Ireland that we have heard from the Government Benches. It was perhaps not out of place that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow sounded a certain note of warning at the end of his speech, and said what I profoundly believe to be true, that the bulk of this House and the bulk of the population of this country will be wholeheartedly behind the Government in dealing resolutely with Ireland if Ireland does not take its chance, set up a decent Government in the 26 counties, and allow a decent Government and decent conditions to exist in Ulster and in this country. Ireland has had its chance, and that is, perhaps, one great thing on which the Government can plume itself in regard to its policy. I think it can be said that the Government has enlisted the sympathy of the English-speaking world and the sympathy of the civilised world upon the side of this country in its dealings with Ireland. We must congratulate the Government upon that result of their policy. I think the civilised world now realises that Ireland has been given every chance, that she has been given everything which could be given her by the most generous of Governments, and that if she fails now to set her house in order and continues this policy of criminal aggression against her neighbours, her blood is on her own head. The Government can assure itself that the whole population of this country and the great bulk of this House will be behind them, not, of course, in taking any precipitate action at this moment. It would be madness at this moment, when there is a little ray of light in the shape of the Irish elections. There you have, at least, the voice of the people of Ireland, so far as it has been allowed to be heard, speaking in favour of the Treaty and in favour of decency, and accordingly a certain time must, no doubt, be allowed for the Provisional Government to tackle the very difficult job of getting rid of crime and lawlessness. But if it does not do that, everyone will be behind the Government in calling upon the Provisional Government either to set its house in order or to make way for those who will do so. In that essential demand, as far as I know, the whole wishes of the people of this country will be behind the Government, and I think three-quarters of the House certainly welcomes very strongly the strong utterances of the Colonial Secretary at the conclusion of his speech.
The last speaker has referred to the advantage which has been gained by the Government in proving to other countries that Southern Ireland is in the wrong. But the hon. Member forgot to say at whose expense that proof has been given. It has been given to satisfy people in America, France, and Belgium at the expense of the lives of British subjects. Is it really the policy of this country to say that we are going to deflect our policy in order to satisfy people abroad at the expense of British subjects at home? Is that really what the hon. Member means? That is the truth. We all know not only the number of British soldiers who have been shot and wounded and the number of the Royal Irish Constabulary, but we know the number of civilians, and there are others of whose fate we are still ignorant, like those four special constables who were captured by the Free State Army at Pettigo three weeks ago, and up till now the Colonial Secretary has not been able to inform me where they are or whether they are living or dead. There are other horrible outrages. I have here a whole bundle. I could detain the Committee for an hour in reading them out, but I imagine the Chief Secretary knows all about them. Many of them have not been published in the papers. There has been some curious, shall I call it strangling, of the Press. Everything that is known to some of us and to the right hon. Baronet does not appear in the papers. There is perhaps a good reason—certainly there is for those of us who know these things—and that is that as the result of this experiment, which the hon. Member said was to placate other nations, people in Ireland are living in such a state of terrorism that even when a man's wife has been outraged he hesitates to say anything about it for fear that what he says will result in his being shot, and when things are told to some of us in confidence, and the first question we ask is, "Can we refer to this in the House of Commons, can we publish this?" the answer is, "No, for God's sake, do not, because the Irish Republican Army will know you got the information from me, and I shall suffer." Probably one of the most tragic things that is going on in Ireland to-day is not the killings and the woundings, but the pathetic submission of thousands of people to this terrorism for the simple reason that they dare not resist it and dare not say anything about it.
Logically I feel bound to vote for the reduction of the Chief Secretary's salary, because when he represented the policy of taking murder by the throat I was one of his strongest supporters, but I cannot emulate him in supporting two totally distinct policies. The mere fact that I supported him when he used to tell us, in those sonorous tones that we know so well, about Mr. Michael Collins and others, that he got them on the run, prevents me supporting him in the policy in which it is we who are on the run, and British troops have been withdrawn from Ireland. I cannot face both ways, and I maintain that if the right hon. Baronet was right in the policy which he defended a year ago, he must be wrong if he supports the policy which he has since supported. I see no alternative to that. But I do not want to dwell upon any personalities. I do not, for example want to follow my hon. and gallant Friend who spoke about the Home Secretary. I believe myself the Home Secretary must have had warning quite sufficient to enable any intelligent man to take action. Have we already forgotten that an Ulster Member of Parliament, I think his name was Tweddle, was shot? Have we forgotten all the incendiarism that went on there? Have we forgotten the attacks on Sir James Craig? Have we forgotten that the dwelling of a Member of this House was burned, and could not any intelligent man devine from that that any leading figure connected with Ulster, endeavouring to enforce the rights of Ulster and to strengthen Ulster, and to frustrate the Irish Republican Army—could not any intelligent man regard that as a warning that that man was in danger? Apparently not. I leave it at that.
The Colonial Secretary's speech was certainly a great change of front, and I think it was obvious that he was the mouthpiece of a Government which had been driven by the indignation of the country to adopt a different attitude. It was a very different speech from anything the right hon. Gentleman or any Member of that Bench has made at any previous time. The country has been boiling over, and this last lamentable catastrophe, the murder of our colleague, has certainly brought matters up to a point. The memorial service to the late Field-Marshal which I attended to-day was the second memorial service which I had attended. I attended a memorial service to him yesterday in my own constituency. The congregation consisted of 1,400 adult males, and the message which I received from them was that they had been strained to the utmost limits, and that if the Government do not take action these men would not answer for themselves; that they would no longer be able to control themselves. That is only typical of what is going on up and down the country. The country has been boiling with indignation, and the country saw, as in a flashlight, that that murder was a logical sequence to the policy of the Government. The Secretary of State for the Colonies practically admitted as much in his speech to-day. How natural it was for these people in Ireland to say: "By deeds of terror, by assassination, by burnings and shootings we have intimidated the British Government, and have forced them to withdraw their troops from Ireland and give us the Treaty. Terrorism has paid, and murder has paid. We will go on with terrorism. We will go on with murder. It will pay in the future as it has paid in the past." Therefore, this crime and the other crimes are the logical sequence. I do not say of the intention of England, but of the policy of the Government.
The Colonial Secretary made a speech to-day full of strong words, but I must confess that strong words to me are now somewhat stale. My right hon. Friend has used strong words in the past. The Prime Minister has used strong words. He told us of the conditions which were to be laid down in the Conference and in the Treaty, but those strong words were followed by weak acts, and that makes me somewhat sceptical when strong words are used now by Ministers. There is an old story of a Quaker who said to his son, "If a man deceives you once, shame on him; but if he deceives you twice, shame on you." I am rather in the position of the man who fears that he may be about to be deceived twice. I listened with great care to everything that was said by the Colonial Secretary, and I gathered that he at most was still an opportunist; that he has re-discovered certain principles that he had forgotten, and that now he thinks it is time to apply those principles. Why all this delay, which has cost the Loyalists of Ireland so much? To my surprise the right hon. Gentleman said: "Assassination will pct change British policy." Can anyone deny that it was assassination on a large scale, and terrorism on a large scale, which changed British policy and which caused the Prime Minister, my right hon Friend, and all those associated with them, to reverse their policy, and to offer a Treaty of which nobody had dreamed? That being the case, how ridiculous it is to say that assassination will not change British policy, when we all know that the Treaty is founded upon assassination, and that the curse of murder and violence hangs upon it.
I was pleased that the right hon. Gentleman said he was going to deal with the Trish Republican Army forces in the Four Courts. I cannot understand why he has delayed so long in supporting the Provisional Government in regard to dealing with these forces which he said were defying the Government. He has proclaimed a bold policy in regard to this matter, but he has not said whether the Provisional Government will accept his policy. I presume that he intends to carry out the policy, and if so I am satisfied on that point. In regard to the results of the elections, the right hon. Gentleman is unduly optimistic. He said that so many had voted for the Treaty, but he forgot how many electors had been told that to vote for the Treaty was the shortest, quickest, safest, and easiest way to a republic. There is another point, in regard to the oath. Members of the Provisional Government have to take the oath, but I have never yet been able to find out whether it is possible for a man who is bound by an oath or other contract to the Irish Republic at the same time to take the oath under the Treaty. This is a matter which the Government ought to look into, and take care that no man should be allowed to become a member of the Free State Government if he is either a member of the Republican Army or a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or is bound by an oath to the Irish Republic, unless and until he has relieved himself publicly from these oaths, and can come as a single-minded and single-hearted supporter of the Free State Government.
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has treated me rather more kindly than an hon. and gallant Member who spoke some time ago. My hon. Friend simply attributes to me a certain lack of appreciation of the value of warnings which intelligence ought to have taught me. On the other hand, the hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury said that it was my duty, in consequence of the inefficient state into which our Secret Service had drifted, to resign at once. I deny entirely that the Secret Service of this country had drifted into an inefficient state. I say, without fear or challenge from anybody who knows anything of the working of that body or of the system, that it is, if anything, more efficient to-day than it was 12 months ago. The charges made against me, with which the House understood that I should deal to-day, were contained in suggestions which were made in question and answer on Friday last. They are two-fold. First of all that the protection for Ministers and other personages who might be threatened should never have been withdrawn, and that warnings which were given were entirely ignored. I remember one hon. Member on the benches behind me saying on Friday last words to the effect that the House of Commons would now have the protection which ought never to have been withdrawn. Perhaps the best thing for me to do is to tell the Committee exactly what was done with regard to the withdrawal of protection.
The question first arose in the month of October last. It arose in this way. A certain number of uniformed men had been lent by the Commissioner to the Special Branch, and upon the 4th October he wrote to Sir Basil Thomson, who was then Assistant Commissioner, asking Sir Basil to let him know the work which these men were doing, and to say if he could tell him when he might expect the men back, they, of course, being engaged on the work of protection. Sir Basil Thomson's answer, which was dated the 5th of October last, contained these words—I will not trouble the House with the details of the work which they were doing:
I do not think that it would be wise to curtail the protection duty at this moment. If the Irish negotiations do not break down we might certainly reduce protection with safety.
So that on the 5th of October last year Sir Basil Thomson himself advised that if the Irish negotiations did not break down protection could safely be reduced, and he further indicated that the question should be raised again in a month.
The question was raised from time to time and I thought it better myself that the matter of the Treaty should be entirely settled before anything definite was clone. Therefore I waited the 7th of January this year when the Dail in Dublin recognised the Treaty. Then I discussed the matter again with the Commissioner, and this is the minute of instructions of what took place to the Assistant Commissioner, and it agrees with my own recollections:
Yesterday evening I discussed with the Home Secretary the question of the protection of (a) Government offices, (b) public Ministers, and it was agreed that (a) all officers specially employed during the late Irish troubles should be withdrawn from
Government buildings with the exception of the Irish Office, and that so far as that office was concerned, the cockpit steps can now be opened; (b) while it was desirable to leave protection to certain Ministers, the Home Secretary should personally approach all other Ministers before withdrawing the protection.
Upon this I wrote letters to every person who was receiving protection, and here I wish to clear up a point about a letter to which the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. McNeill) referred on Friday last. I certainly understood the question to be—my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and others of my right hon. Friends equally understood the question to be—had I written a letter to Lord Carson that in consequence of the policy of the Government he was in danger? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That was the way in which we all understood it. When I saw the OFFICIAL REPORT I saw that the question was whether I had written that he was not in danger. Then I proceeded at once to hunt for such a letter. The only letter that I can find, which I personally signed, and which was sent to Lord Carson, was the letter, which was written to him in common with every other person who was receiving protection, asking him his views in the matter. The terms of that letter which was sent to all those gentlemen were:
In view of the changed situation with regard to Ireland, I have been considering the question of the special protection which has been given to Members of the Cabinet ea account of the danger from the Sinn Fein movement, and I have come to the conclusion that it is now safe to discontinue the precautions which I have taken. Therefore I propose that the officer who has been attached to you"—
here is given the officer's name—
should be withdrawn as from Monday week the 23rd of January, but before I issue any instructions to this effect, I should he glad to have your views.
I do not know whether that is the letter to which the hon. and learned Member refers
That is the letter to which I referred. The point which I endeavoured to make, which I think is sufficiently obvious, is that the right hon. Gentleman did not see the utter absurdity of asking Lord Carson whether he thought that protection was no longer required for him because Cabinet Ministers thought that they had made their Own skins safe.
The people of whom I was speaking were, of course, the people who were assassinating. I was not talking of those in this House who were opposed to the Treaty. I was talking about those who were assassinating. I am sorry that that has been misunderstood. I should have thought it was perfectly plain.
I understand that. The letter was sent to every one of them, and, without exception, the position was accepted by them, and the protection was withdrawn, and for five months we went on without any untoward incident of any sort in consequence. Meantime, we were receiving our secret information. We were led to understand clearly—and we were watching the matter very carefully—that we might expect robberies of explosives and arms in this country to send to Ireland. Those we have been able, to a very large extent, to combat. We have at the present moment captured a gang, which, I hope, will go far, at any rate, to put an end to that sort of work. We were also told that it was not probable, but that we might expect an outbreak of incendiarism in this country. On all hands it was agreed, however, that whatever else happened, there would he no organised murder in this country. I still believe that to be the position. I still believe that organised murder has never been intended in this country, and I do not think I am alone in that belief.
Of course we make most careful investigations, and we have the machine ready to use against any organised murder the moment we get the least intimation of it. The next point is the question of the warnings that we are supposed to have ignored. The hon. and gallant Member for Finsbury (Lieut.-Colonel Archer-Shee) talked about a warning which he said he knew Scotland Yard received in March last about Sir Henry Wilson. I do not know what that warning can possibly be. On Friday last the hon. and gallant Member referred to a warning which he said had been given to Scotland Yard, which, according to his account, consisted of a typewritten document. It was anonymous, unstamped, with nothing to show its source, and it contained the words, "Warn Henry Wilson"—it contained some other names—"because they are going to do them in," or words to that effect. We could not get from him the date. I would like to know whether this warning—
I told the right hon. Gentleman the date. I told him I had seen a copy of the message which I saw in March, which went to Scotland Yard, and I gave him the date when I had an interview with him the other day. I am not going to say any more about that warning. Naturally, I shall not mention any names. The right hon. Gentleman takes great credit to himself about its being anonymous. Naturally, no one is going to implicate now other people who might lose their lives. I can give him a copy of it.
The warning is this typewritten document. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not able to tell us who took it to Scotland Yard, to whom it was given in Scotland Yard, or whether any explanation was given to Scotland Yard about its source. We get thousands and thousands of anonymous documents of that sort. How are you going to make inquiries? You do not know where they come from or anything about them. The hon. and gallant Member told us also on Friday about some person who had seen people crossing from Ireland on 14th June. His informant was put into touch with General Childs, of whom he is a very old and personal friend. It turned out that a gentleman had been crossing from Ireland on the Fishguard route, and when talking to the captain of the vessel he had seen two men of whom he did not like the look. He said to the captain, "Those gentlemen do not look very pleasant fellows," and the captain replied,
"We get lots of bad ones over here, but I never do anything about them." What are you to do on that information? No one knew the men, and no one knew their object. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also made the following statement:
I ask if these special detectives had been withdrawn from Sir Henry Wilson's house, and whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that there was a warning, which I have seen myself, from Scotland Yard within the last few weeks."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1922; col. 1540, Vol. 155.]
I now ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether that warning to which he referred on Friday last is a communication sent to the hon. Member for the Canterbury Division of Kent (Mr. R. McNeill)?
I follow that; it was the same warning. It seems to be the only warning with the ignoring of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has charged me. It has not been said in this House, but in a portion of the Press it was stated yesterday, in clear and definite terms, that the police of the Northern Parliament of Ireland had definite information with regard to a plot to assassinate Sir Henry Wilson, that they had communicated that information to me, and that I had deliberately ignored it. That was as definite and as serious a. charge as could be made. I knew perfectly well that we had received no such communication of any sort or description from Northern Ireland. However, I telegraphed this morning to the Home Secretary of the Parliament of Northern Ireland in these terms:
Sunday Express' states that heads of police of Ulster Government knew of the existence of a. plot to assassinate Sir Henry Wilson and communicated the information in their possession to my office. No such communication was received. May I deny that your police had the alleged information? Please telegraph at once, in view of Debate in the House of Commons this afternoon.
I have received this reply from the Home Secretary of the Northern Government:
Heads of police in Ulster have no special information of plot to assassinate Sir Henry Wilson. We, however, always took
precautions to protect him on his visits here.
This charge in the newspaper is an absolutely untrue and unfounded charge. Where any information could have been obtained to justify any newspaper in publishing such a charge, I cannot imagine, and it is hard, indeed, to believe that it was not a malignant invention. Whenever we have received anything in the nature of a communication we have always taken every step we can to follow it up. Even in the case of Sir Henry Wilson himself we received once a communication from him, and we followed it up. On 29th May, of this year, he wrote to General Childs:
My dear Fido,—Who is this pal of mine? —Yours, H.W.
Enclosed were the letters that required investigation—the usual kind of letters that you get. I have not seen them because they were sent back to him. The whole matter was investigated, and a full account of who the man was, with a description of him, was sent by General Childs to the Field-Marshal. It turned out that he was a harmless old gentleman resident in the North of London, who was constantly in the habit of writing, and when I saw who he was I knew he was a constant correspondent of my own. On another occasion a letter came from Lord Carson, dated February last, saying that suspicious men had been seen watching his area, and that on one or two occasions had hurried to address them. We at once took steps to investigate the matter. Special Branch men went down to make the most careful inquiries, and although the Special Branch said that it was nothing at all they were after, yet we kept a man, and have since kept a man, on short-beat duty outside Lord Carson's house in consequence of that complaint of his. Wherever we have received a complaint of any sort or description we have always done our best to follow it up as carefully as possible. Indeed we have had communications from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bromley (Lieut.-Colonel James), and he was rather apologetic to General Childs for bringing what did not appear to be a very serious matter before him. General Childs assured him, as I now assure the Committee, that no information is too small for hon. Members to take the trouble to give to Scotland Yard. In the majority of cases it turns out to be
nothing at all, but in the few cases where, on the face of it, it appears to those who are not fully informed to be a very trivial matter, a simple piece of comparatively trivial information just completes a story and enables us to get what we want. Therefore I ask that hon. Members should always give us all the information they can, and I assure the Committee that we never do ignore a warning of any sort or description that we get. We always follow it up with full and complete information.
Before the right hon. Gentleman passes from that, may I put a question to him? I quite understand that he is going into this question of warnings and threatenings, as it was raised on Friday last. Does he not perceive that, apart from all warnings and information, the political situation as it had developed in Ireland was such that Sir Henry Wilson's life was obviously in danger? Under those circumstances why was it, as he said on Friday, that he had taken no special precautions?
It was perfectly obvious that Sir Henry Wilson's life was in danger in Ireland. It was very far from obvious that his life was in danger in England. The hon. and learned Gentleman himself (Mr. McNeill), in correspondence which he has had with Scotland Yard, has, by his letters, shown the difference in degree of danger in Ireland and in this country. We sent him on a letter—no doubt he will remember it—and pointed out to him quite clearly what was our opinion:
I do not suppose"—
wrote Colonel Carter—
that you apprehend any particular danger over here.
There is all the difference in the world between the amount of danger a man like Sir Henry Wilson might run in Ireland and the amount he would incur here. The hon. Member for Canterbury wrote back saying that he had not in recent times received any threatening letters. That was at the beginning of this month. He said he knew nothing about the people who wrote the letter in question, but that, of course,
As a prominent Irish Unionist and as the author of a hook recently published about Ulster, I am an object of hatred to the gunmen in Ireland.
We made the point that we thought he was in no danger over here, and he pointed out that he was in danger in Ireland.
That may be, but if there is a difference in the degree of danger to one person in Ireland and to him in England, there is a difference in a degree of danger to all. It is a matter of organisation, and we take the most careful steps to watch them. The suggestion that there is any negligence on the part of those who control our Secret Service, and that there was any negligence in looking after Sir Henry Wilson, is a very cruel charge to make. Those who were in charge consisted of some of his oldest and dearest friends; men who served under him, who knew him well and who would gladly have given their lives to save his. I can assure the Committee that they paid the greatest possible attention to men like Sir Henry Wilson and took care of them. May I tell the Committee what happened in regard to Sir Henry Wilson?
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but will he make some allusion to the release last year of the 15 men who were sentenced to 12 years' penal servitude for shooting at the police?
Scotland Yard had nothing whatever to do with that, and it is a charge which should be made against, the Government. Scotland Yard had no more to do with that than had the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself. With regard to Sir Henry Wilson, last year the War Office wrote and said they would like to have a Special Branch officer detailed to guard the Chief of the Imperial General Staff when they required it. Immediately, an experienced officer reported at the War Office, and he was there told that they did not want him to he constantly there at all, but that if there were any special occasion when the Chief of the Imperial General Staff was going on a journey or at any time else when it was thought necessary, they would let him know. Upon those terms the whole of his protection was continued. He was watched, like everybody else, in a general way, but his own special man, detailed for him, whom he had at his service at any time when he chose to ask for him, and when he was going away anywhere, was always forthcoming. At the request of the War Office, in February last, the same arrangement was made in regard to the existing Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and that arrangement continues until this day. Those were the arrangements made in regard to Sir Henry Wilson, and that is the method which we have adopted with regard to his protection from the time that the negotiations with Ireland commenced.
I was assured, following the advice of Sir Basil Thomson, that the Irish negotiations, if successful, would render a reduction safe. In acting upon the advice of the skilled people who are still there, and who knew all the facts of the case, I was doing perfectly rightly in January last year. That I did rightly is proved by the fact that we had some five months without a single untoward act. With regard to these two men, the case is, of course, sub judice. But there is no further doubt that these two young men had not been sent from Ireland. They were both Londoners, people living in London; they were both ex-soldiers; one of them was a member of a family all of whose sons fought in the War. Both of them were living at home with their parents up till the time of the crime, and there was no evidence whatever that they had ever been in Ireland at all during their lives.
There are plenty of people with Irish names, many of whom have never been in Ireland. Those are the facts, and the suggestion that we are allowing gunmen to come into this country is really quite unfounded. Take the suggestions that are made. It was suggested that a man came across with two revolvers slung in his waistband like a Mexican bandit, and that other men had been seen coming across with their pockets bulging with firearms. Does anyone really suggest that a man coming over here to commit murder is going to flaunt his weapon in the face of the world? Of course men have come over with guns on their backs, but the probability is that the men bringing them were demobilised Royal Irish Constabulary men, who were allowed to keep their weapons. You may be quite certain of this, that no dangerous man will let you know that he is dangerous or allow you to see his guns. It is suggested that the two pistols that were used were some of the arms that were handed over to the Provisional Government. They were carefully examined by the War Office experts—a record is known in Ireland of what revolvers were handed over to the Provisional Government—and the War Office are quite satisfied that these revolvers were not part of the arms that were handed over.
I have now dealt with all the points raised both to-day and on Friday last. A very grave charge has been made against men who are daily and hourly working their hardest and best, and who have very often to take great risks to obtain the information they desire. I have felt it my duty, and I hope the Committee will forgive me, to detain the Committee at greater length than is usual to answer those charges. I have had charges made against me, but as long as I am not personally attacked by anyone whose opinion I value, I do not mind in the least.
It is my misfortune once again to have to intervene in a Debate on Irish matters, and T can assure the House that T welcome the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Mc-milieu for the Central Division of Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) when he said he hoped nothing would be done in this House which would inflame public opinion, or the feelings of Members of this House, upon an occasion when naturally all of us are somewhat moved and feel we should speak and act with restraint. I am quite sure that the spirit of him who has gone, is hovering over this House to-night, and the best tribute we can pay to his memory is to recognise that as he was a main of war, he died for what he believed to be the cause of peace. It would be the greatest tribute to his memory we could pay, and we should recognise that in anything we say to-night.
One or two things arise in one's mind after listening to the speech of the Colonial Secretary. It was one of those speeches to which the House is accus- tomed. It was well phrased, but it did not meet the point. It was full of "ifs" and "ands," and of what might occur here when something else had occurred elsewhere. There were two admissions in that speech which none of us have ever yet heard made in this House. One was that it was within the knowledge of the Government that depots of arms, ammunition, and explosives had been set up in England, Scotland, and Wales. The second was that the only body that could establish or maintain any reasonable form of order in Ireland was the Irish Republican Army As regards the first, the Home Secretary has in a measure dealt with it. Will the right hon. Gentleman, however, allow me to recall this fact, that when I asked him a question in October of last year as regards the institution of these depots far incendiary purposes in this country, he said it was not in the public interest to reply. Within three weeks, in the centre of the City of London, what was called a garage was blown up by the act of an Irish incendiary. What was that so-called garage for? Within it there were found automatics, sticks of gelignite, and Mills' hand-grenades and bombs, and when an inquest was held upon the unfortunate individual, it was said to the person holding the inquest, "Do not inquire too much." At the same time it was said to him from the other side, "If you do so you will be shot." This was in the centre of the City of London.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary says there is no truth in the allegation that anything has come over from the other side. Then where do these accumulations of explosives come from? Are they sold in our midst? If that is happening in our midst, then the right hon. Gentleman must forgive me for suggesting that his Department is hopelessly inefficient. On 31st May of this year I asked the right hon. Gentleman was it within his knowledge that men were coming over from Ireland with automatics, and he put up the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rugby (Sir J. Baird) to reply, the reply being a request that I should give him specific information. Within three days, a number of Irishmen armed with guns and pistols tried to obtain possession of all the explosives in many of the mines in Lancashire. It was so reported in the Press. One never knows what is true in the Press to—day [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—but at least this was in the Government Press. Within a few days more, that noble great white knight the Field-Marshal was murdered.
We are entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it be true or not that these men are coming over from Ireland armed with automatics? Is there any supervision as to the advent of these men into our country? We are not allowed in this land of ours to possess or carry a weapon without having a licence. Is there any possibility, as regards the borders of our own land that the Government of the country and the Home Office are exercising supervision in that respect, or is anybody from any country in the world to be able to come in here undeterred, unchallenged and unlicensed, armed or unarmed? Are these people searched? What is clone? Nothing is done, and at a time of heated political controversy, when it must have been obvious to the Home Secretary that if anybody was in immediate danger, the Field-Marshal was, the right hon. Gentleman's defence is to insult any human being that ever was under police protection. He tells us certain people wrote letters as to whether or not they wanted police protection to be continued. What would be the answer of any man of spirit if such a question were put to him? He could give no answer but one: "If the Members of the Cabinet do not think it is necessary, we do not." What other answer could be given?
The Colonial Secretary told us with great emphasis that the time is rapidly coming when something will be done as regards Ireland. When is it to be done? When is the feat to be accomplished? Is there to be a time limit? Is it to be put off until the Ides of March, or is it only to be accomplished when a Pelion of horror has been piled upon an Ossa of crime? That is the question we ask the Government to-day. What is their time limit? Is it only to be recognised as necessity when 400,000 people in the South of Ireland have been wiped out, or is it only to be brought into effect when they have been driven out of Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman no doubt is in possession of greater information than we are, but is he not in possession of these facts? On Easter Sunday the Irish Re- publican Army held a meeting in the Mansion House in Dublin which was proclaimed by Mr. Michael Collins—man of honour, friend, and ex-murderer, but still head of the provisional Government. At the Irish Republican Army meeting, which was proclaimed by Mr. Michael Collins, one of the speakers—a Commandant General I think they called him—made a speech greeted with rapturous applause telling these men what their duty was, and what their object should be. Ho told them that they should eliminate the Loyalists and Protestants from the South and West of Ireland, if those people would not go of their own free will. Then they were to extend their activities to the North, and the Loyalists there were to be exterminated and driven out if they did not go out. Then in that auspicious way in which these people say anything, he declared their activities would be extended to their enemy, England. Is the Government in possession of these facts? Do they know by means of their secret intelligence what is in the minds of these people?
It is a tragedy that the real trouble with which we are confronted at present comes from this root fact. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) said just now, the trouble in Ireland did not begin with the present Government. No, alas! it did not, but the present Government have accentuated the trouble, because they have accepted the domination of crime and the dictation of murder. Sir Henry Maine, constitutional lawyer, not a private Member of the House of Commons like the present speaker, warned a democratic Government as to what the effect would be if at any moment, especially under a democratic form of government, they not only contemplated but had any evil communications with these criminals who attempted to dominate and destroy constitutional government by the mass of their crimes. To-day there is a higher law, and again with great respect in this House, and again with great feeling, I appeal to it. Under all this there is something greater than constitutional lawyers' opinions, greater than the divisions of political opinion—there is the eternal law, "God is not mocked," and the appetite for murder feeds and grows with the feeding. "God is not mocked," and the more the right hon. Gentleman and those who support him capitulate to crime on a great scale and give that asset to crime, the more certain it is that their democratic institutions and all that they value, all that in their hearts they know to be true, all that this great House of Commons knows to be true—all of that crashes to the ground and brings ruin in its train when once mankind and Governments contemplate immorality, which they take for statesmanship, and destroy principle, which they think they can do by expediency.
This is my last word. I was to have gone to Glasgow with the late Field-Marshal this week. My hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) referred to it. I shall go alone now, and what am I to say? I shall say this:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on."
The late Field-Marshal died for the freedom of his people, for the freedom of conscience, for the freedom of free expression, and as he died for that, there are some at least in this country who will respond to the appealing instance of his death.
I have not the smallest doubt that the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken will do good to the men and women to whom he talks in Glasgow. He will raise them to a pitch of patriotic and moral feeling which will undoubtedly make for good, but what we have this evening to consider is the vote that we are going to cast in an hour's time. I ventured, on the last occasion on which we discussed the Irish Question in general, to express the deep anxiety which many Unionists felt in regard to the course of events in Ireland. It was with the very greatest difficulty that, at the time when the Government decided on the policy which they have adopted, we, struggling with all our previous careers, determined to give them our support, but, having given that support, it is now only with the greatest difficulty, it seems to me, that we ought to recognise the duty of withdrawing that support. What Ireland has suffered from, what this whole nation has suffered from in regard to Irish policy, is inconsistency. For a century we have had inconsistency. If we had been able to pursue one single consistent policy for a couple of generations we might have had a different situation, but, as everyone knows who has sat in this House even for a dozen years, we have had such changes in the composition of this House, representative of this country, that it was impossible to follow a consistent policy.
Hon. Members say, "But at least morality continues; at least we should not have shaken hands with murder." Yes. You are in the face of a vendetta, arid a vendetta consists in murder on one side and then murder on the other. Are you ever to bring a vendetta to an end, except with an unavenged murder? If you are to continue avenging every crime, then you will have crime for infinity. If you are to stop the evil course of blood for blood, then there must come a moment when statesmanship, when moral self-control, halts you and says: "I will let that last crime go unavenged." At the present moment it is not recent history that we have to consider, but in so far as it is necessary to consider it, I agree humbly with every word that was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law). I believe he distributed blame and praise with that fairness, with that balance of mind, which we know from long experience to characterise him perhaps more than most men in this House, but at this moment even the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) said he did not expect a sudden change in the course of the Government. A vote given this evening against the Government is a vote aiming at bringing the Government down, and that would not be the only consequence. If you bring the Government down you throw confusion into the development of events at the present time. You may say, "We should have another Government," but looking back on the general course of history, has any Government come in without a fresh policy? Is not that the meaning, the working, of the whole of our institutions?
The Home Secretary has just told us the circumstances, so far as they are known, connected with this crime. There is no evidence, so far as we can see, of a direct connection with an organisation in Ireland. Let us say, then, that this crime has sprung out of the atmosphere prevailing in regard to crime in Ireland. But the messages which we have received from the Four Courts clearly indicate that they are ready to take advantage of what has happened, and what is the advantage that they hope for? The advantage that they hope for is to sting this country and sting this House into reprisals, and the effect of reprisals would be to defeat the policy which is now being attempted to be carried through. The effect of that would be to unite a large section of Irishmen in opposition once more to England, and once more you would start your century of vendetta, once more you would start your century of mournful history, which has been the one blot on the success of this country in the art of government. Therefore, facing the. terrible alternative, recognising that there must be a term to what is now in progress, I do venture, to say that those of us who are Unionists, those of us who have a long past to look back upon contrary to the present policy, those of us who supported the Government in the course they have taken—at least, we ought to hesitate at the present moment when, by yielding to very natural passion, we should play straight into the hands of our enemies. We ought to consider whether, after all, there may not be, in that vote given in Ireland, some thing of sincerity, something of effort, which may result in a now condition. I do suggest we ought to have patience in the face of the present situation for a little longer. [HON. MEMBERS: "How long?"] Those hon. Members wish for some mechanical period—the 18th July or the 18th August. Can one imagine anything so foolish? I say we most be judges when the period has come for the righteous indignation of this country to assert itself. I say that at this moment we shall show ourselves British, in accordance with all our traditions, if we stand, to-day of all days, firm, arid refuse to be daunted when we are told that we are running away.
I congratulate my hon. Friend who has just sat down upon his courageous speech. Such speeches are not easy to make in the House of Commons, but it is quite essential that men should express opinions, even when they are unpopular in this, the greatest Senate in the world, and I congratulate my hon. Friend upon the courage with which he made his declaration. May I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for North Bradford (Major Boyd-Carpenter) on his speech? I regret that I did not hear the major part, but so much as I heard leads me, with great pleasure, to congratulate him upon a fine piece of eloquence. Before I proceed with the subject of the Vote, may I pay my humble tribute to the great soldier whose death has sent a thrill of horror and indignation throughout the civilised world? There is no man in this House who had greater opportunities of judging of the great gifts and qualities of Sir Henry Wilson than I had. During the most trying period of the War, I saw him every day, and almost all day, at a time when days were charged with great events, charged with great possibilities, and charged with great perils and great opportunities. In those days his courage, his vision, his imagination and resource rendered priceless service to the country he served so well. When I had the privilege of moving that the thanks of this House be accorded to Sir Henry Wilson for his services, gave at greater length, and in more detail, to the House of Commons the measure of his services as they struck me at that moment. I also had an opportunity, at a gathering within the precincts of this House, when I had the pleasure of proposing his health, of dwelling still further upon his services. My conviction as to the greatness of those services has been deepened on reflection. There could be no greater loss to this Empire, and, as one proud to have been associated with him at a great moment in the life of this Empire, I should like to add my humble tribute to those which have already been paid to the grandeur of his services to this country. He was a great soldier; he was a great patriot; and he was a great Irishman. His gifts, his brilliant qualities, were the brilliant qualities of that race.
I have been taunted to-night because the Government are not prepared to follow the advice which Sir Henry Wilson gave on political matters. No man has been condemned more often than I have because I followed the advice which Sir Henry Wilson gave to me on matters of which he had made a life study. Three times have I stood at this Box to defend the Government in a period of Parliamentary crisis, occasioned because they followed the advice of Sir Henry Wilson in military matters. And, if I may say so, a good deal of the criticisms, because we could not see our way, quite sincerely, quite honestly, to follow his views on political matters, come from those who criticised us very severely because we followed his advice on military matters. I will refer later on to the great tragedy which we have been deploring, especially those of us who had been in very friendly relations with him, who were proud of his friendship, and I have evidence quite recently that that friendship continued on his part after disagreement, and certainly, on my part, it had never cooled. I had the deepest and most affectionate regard for Sir Henry Wilson, and I am glad that nothing was ever said that provoked me to say a word of criticism in reply.
But this is a question, and a very vital question, of political policy to the Empire. My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) in the very remarkable speech which he made said—quite truly—that the vote we are giving to-night is a vote upon the policy of the Treaty. It is as such that it shall be recorded. It is a challenge to that policy. Hon. Members who sit behind me have stated in the course of the debate that even in accepting that Treaty, or negotiating it, we were pursuing a policy which we repudiated 12 months ago. That is not in accordance with the facts. Repeatedly, whilst we were pursuing a policy of—whatever it may be called—
—I will accept any word the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) cares to suggest—it was, at any rate, a different policy, I admit, from the present. It was an aggressive policy. It. was a repressive policy. Whilst we were pursuing that policy, for months on behalf of the Government I stated clearly that we were prepared to negotiate with anyone who represented the people of Ireland.
The right hon. Gentleman surely does not forget that in his communication, I think, of January, 1921, to Father O'Flannagan, he said there were certain persons who must be excepted even from a safe conduct?
That is not a contradiction of the statement which I made. The words which I used in this House were that the Government were prepared to negotiate with anyone who represented the people of Ireland—
I admit that the real test is whether they can deliver the goods. I accept that. That is the real test. If they cannot, then, I agree, there is a new situation. I will deal with that later. I accept that. I am only pointing out there was no change in the policy of the Government. We stated, not twelve months ago, but eighteen months ago, and unless I am mistaken, even two years ago, repeatedly, that we were prepared to negotiate with anyone who represented the people of Ireland, and—I accept the addition, or the correction—who could deliver the goods.
I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. The exceptions which I made were: Ireland must remain inside the Empire: there must be an acceptance of the Crown; Ulster must not be forced in against her will. Those were the three conditions which I laid down. In each case by those conditions the Government stand at this hour. I only want to point out that we have not altered our policy in the slightest degree. I am going to submit to the Committee that those negotiations and the Treaty are justified, whatever befalls. I will give my reasons.
First of all, I should like to ask the Committee to consider once more what was the alternative with which we were faced at the time the negotiations commenced. It is a practical consideration. I, therefore, make no apology for dwelling on that alternative, because I want hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to have it well in their minds what it means. We were advised that, in order effectively to carry out the policy of repression, it was essential that we should raise another 100,000 men. Our adviser was Sir Henry Wilson, who was Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
I can only say that Sir Henry Wilson was Chief of Staff at that moment. I have been with the Secretary of State for War a little while ago, and he tells me that he discussed the figures with Sir Henry Wilson, not only discussed them with him, but discussed the methods by which 100,000 men could be raised, and he has told as what Sir Henry Wilson's method was by which they should be raised. That was the alternative. Is it reasonable, I would ask those who think this an extravagant figure, if I suggest that they should look for a moment at what is happening in Ulster? Ulster is one-fourth or one-fifth of the area of the whole of Ireland. Two-thirds of her population are on the side of law. The men in charge of the Government, the men on the spot, are not open to the taunt which my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. McNeill) levelled at us in his very able speech that we did not know Ireland. They know every inch of the ground. They know the country. They have two-thirds of the population behind them. The area is only one-fifth of Ireland, and one-third of the population. Yet at the present moment there are 60,000 men engaged in the process of maintaining law and order, and suppressing rebellion in that area.
That may be so, but the fact remains that it requires 60,000 men to repress rebellion in Ulster. I agree with what fell from the Colonial Secretary, that they are achieving that result, and there is very good reason to hope that in a very short time they will be completely successful. But it is only after an overwhelming display of force in one-fifth of Ireland. Was it, therefore, unreasonable, the advice that we got, that 100,000 men, in addition to the 20,000 or 30,000 there, were necessary in order to complete the task of reconquering Ireland—of repressing rebellion over an area five times that of Ulster, with a population nine-tenths of which at least were hostile, when you had the remotest and the rowdiest part of Ireland to control, and some of the wildest counties in the whole of that island? What was the alternative? Before you could do this, you had to make your case for the need of troops, and the raising of 100,000 men in a population tired of war, willing to respond to the call, if need be, as they did in the case of the labour troubles which we had about a year ago. There was a great response then, and there would have been a response again had the population been thoroughly convinced that this was the only alternative. Had it been fighting for the Empire; had it been fighting for the Crown; had it been fighting for fair play for Ulster—in any of these cases you could have raised even a greater army than 100,000 men from among the young men of Britain. There would have been no other alternative.
What are the facts? There is no doubt that at that moment opinion was very divided in this country upon the question. The protest against the policy of repression was growing, not merely in numbers, but in intensity, and in these circumstances it was necessary to make it quite clear to public opinion that there was no other alternative. We, therefore, made our proposal. It was accepted, and negotiations followed. My right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law) said that we may still have to adopt that policy of repression, and I gather from his speech that he is not very sanguine that the Treaty will be carried out. I hesitate to make predictions about Ireland. In fact, the only predictions you can make about Ireland, where the odds favour them being true, judging historically, are unfavourable. That is the story of Ireland for hundreds of years, and any man who got up at any moment in the last seven centuries, and said that, would be right. I hesitate to get up here, and say that the luck of Ireland has turned, and that good is going to come. I hesitate to say that. All I say is this: If it has to be done, it must be done, but we should do it now with advantages in our favour which we did not possess when the negotiations for the Treaty began.
What are they? Those who have a practical acquaintance with the difficulties will know that they are first of all material. If repression has to be
begun again, if the Treaty be broken, if it be trampled upon, if those who have signed on behalf of Ireland break faith with the British Empire, reject Empire and Crown, break faith with Ulster, then the task will have to be begun again, with this difference, that the burden of governing the whole of Ireland will not rest upon our shoulders. That is a very vital difference. Those who had to repress disorder in the past had also to govern. I remember, at the time I was making inquiries in September of last year as to how the forces of order were stationed there, I met half a dozen of the picked representatives of the Royal Irish Con stabulary, and this is what one or two of them said to me
You will be surprised at the time which is occupied in filling up forms about swine fever and about hundreds of different things that are on the shoulders of the Royal Irish Constabulary, as well as petty disorders which have nothing whatever to do with political crime or political offences.
It would be an advantage, from the political point of view, and from the point of view of reconquest, if it. became necessary, that all these burdens, including the burden of the collection of taxes in areas where it costs more to collect them than they are worth—including, too, the variety of forms to be filled in—should not be cast upon those who have a purely military task. I submit that it would be a great advantage for them to be free of that responsibility. The second advantage is this, that instead of having to defend every area, you can choose the area you desire to occupy. That would be an enormous advantage. It would not be necessary to disperse your forces. These are the material advantages.
Now I come to the far more important moral advantages which will be ours if the task should have to be taken up again. The first I have already indicated. When we were engaged on it before, opinion at home was undoubtedly divided, and it was getting more divided. That is a source of weakness when you have to conduct operations on a great scale. Secondly, the opinion of the civilised world on the whole was against us. I am not going to say why that was so—whether it was due to propaganda on one side, and the absence of propaganda on the other. The fact remained that in the Dominions opinion on the whole was against us, and when you come to our great Allies, the opinion in France was growing stronger against us. The French Press was full of articles denouncing our policy. In Italy, Belgium, and the United States of America it was the same. That was the position in those days. What is it now? For the first time in the history of our treatment of Ireland, if the Treaty be broken by Ireland, the civilised world will say that England is blameless.
I do not know exactly what my hon. Friend means, but certainly we shall arrange for the protection of the loyalists. Of course, we fully realise the importance of that problem. My hon. Friend must not think that it is not one of the difficulties we have in our minds. It is one of our greatest difficulties. We have 350,000 of these people scattered over enormous areas, and not even an army could protect them all where they are. That is one of the difficulties we have always had in our minds. It has weighed considerably with us, and we had a good deal of pressure from Unionists in the South of Ireland when the negotiations were proceeding. In fact, the first deputation I received on the subject—and I rather think my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) was with me at the time—was from Unionists in Cork and Dublin, on behalf of the Unionists of the South of Ireland. They pressed us to enter into negotiations, and suggested Dominion Home Rule as a method of settling the dispute.
My hon. Friend is really not taking account of the answer I have given, and I am doing my best to give him an answer. Protection, even with an army of 100,000, for men scattered like that, is absolutely impossible There is only one way of protecting them, as every Unionist in Ireland will tell you, and that is by concentrating them; and those who realised that preferred settlement to leaving the country, where they had been born and brought up. I want to put these facts, in order to show that, even if the Treaty were a failure, the fact that we made the proposal, the fact that it has been accepted, the fact that the failure is attributable to no breach of faith on our part—more than that, the fact that we have been patient, that we have been tolerant, that one may say we have been indulgent, that we are accused by our own friends even of weakness—and that, even then, this Treaty has been trampled upon by Irishmen themselves, while we were willing, and doing our best to carry it out, would be a source of strength to us which would be invaluable if the time ever came.
But I am not willing to accept the theory that the Treaty is a failure. It is a little over six months since it was signed, and there is a transition period. We have been criticised because, before the Provisional Government was ready, we handed over the government of Ireland to the Provisional Government. There is a good deal to be said on both sides about that. It was a very difficult decision to take, but there was one special difficulty, and that was the Royal Irish Constabulary. They were not prepared to go on with the Provisional Government; they preferred to accept the compensation which we arranged for them. I quite understand that. They had been fighting these leaders, not merely nationally, but locally, and they had great misgivings about serving under them in future. And, if they were not prepared to do it, we could not compel them—it would never have worked satisfactorily. Therefore, we were in the position of having to choose between saying to the Royal Irish Constabulary, "You have got to go on under the Provisional Government," and the course which we adopted, of agreeing that the Provisional Government should accept the responsibility whenever the transition period came. Whether it came within the last six months, or within the next six months, there was bound to be a certain amount of dislocation, and dislocation, in a country like Ireland, or in any other country, would mean disorder—more so probably in Ireland, because you nave not, as you have in this country, a population accustomed to authority, accustomed to discipline, on the side of law and order, but you have a population in Ireland that has practically inherited antagonism to authority and to government.
Therefore, whenever you have your transitional period, you are bound to get disorder and dislocation, and I am not prepared to say the Treaty has failed, because during the six months' transition they have not yet developed the machinery of government, when there are men not one of whom has had any experience of government, because it is one of the tragedies of Ireland that owing to the fact that the population was hostile to the Government no popular leader would accept any office under the Crown. The result has been that you have had men there who have had no experience of government at all. You have got to begin. With inexperienced leaders, in a transitional period, dealing with a country which was in disorder, with a population filled with rooted antagonism to authority for traditional and historical reasons, and I am not prepared to say that the six months' experiment has proved that the Treaty is in such circumstances a failure.
But, like my right hon. Friend (Mr. Boner Law), I must deal frankly with the Provisional Government. I do not want any appearance of lecturing or hectoring them, but I must say frankly that I have been disappointed with the way in which they have gripped the problem. I fully realise their difficulties—we are prepared as a Government to make allowances for them—political and otherwise, but I think they could have done better. They could have afforded more protection to both life and property. It is true that the loss of life has not been so great as it was in the preceding six months. I am now talking about South Ireland. I believe it is somewhere about 40 during the last six months in the South, and during the last month there has been no loss of life at all. But the protection to property is inadequate, and ought to be strengthened.
I could understand one saying, "One cannot in the course of six months, under these conditions, organise a complete police force throughout the whole of these great areas, and afford complete protection to everyone." But there is no justification for what they are permitting at their doors in Dublin. I am not going to dwell upon it. It has already been referred to, and it is in everyone's mouth. Here you have three or four hundred young men seizing the Courts of Justice in the capital, near their centre of government, where they have an organised force, and they permit them to run a sort of sham Government there, in the name of the Republic, week after week for now very nearly two months, issuing orders all over Ireland. That is quite unjustifiable. None of the explanations I have offered as to their failure to have a complete and perfect network of machinery for the purpose of maintaining law and order throughout the whole land applies in the least to this organised defiance of their authority at their very doors. That is weakness which lowers their prestige, lowers their authority, diminishes the influence which it is essential that the Government should possess, in order to maintain its authority throughout the land. And, without using any language of menace, it is essential that that should be brought to an end, and brought to an end quickly. In whatever policy we may determine upon, I should like to carry the whole sentiment of this country. I want the country to realise that we have been restrained and tolerant up to the point of having taunts levelled at us, with reasons which can be given, and with reasons which appeal even to friends of ours. This condition of things is obviously impossible. It is flaunting defiance of the Treaty which members of the Provisional Government have signed. These men are Republicans. They proclaim themselves Republicans. The Treaty is a Treaty which accepts the Monarchy. We have communicated our views to the Provisional Government upon this matter.
I do not want at the present moment to give any details of the communication which we have sent to the Provisional Government. I would rather they acted upon their own initiative, rather than with the appearance that they are doing it under compulsion from the British Government. Should it be necessary, we shall lay the communication on the Table of the House, but I hope that it will not be necessary. I am in complete agreement with the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow on that matter, and he can take it that the Government will not deviate in the least from his statement of the position there. I think it will be undesirable that I should say anything more on that subject.
The Irish Parliament is to meet on Saturday. This is the first thing they will take into their consideration. They have now the authority of the people of Ireland behind them. What they do or fail to do now is the real test of whether they are fit to govern, and by that test—a test which the Irish people themselves have made possible, having put them in a position to demonstrate it—the Treaty must stand or fall. I do not wish to withhold from the House for a single moment what a serious position may depend upon that, and that is why in the earlier part of my speech I dwelt upon the alternatives which would be inevitable—Ireland within the Empire, Ireland acknowledging the Crown, Ireland acknowledging the liberties of Ulster—these are fundamental parts of the policy of this country—Ireland showing itself capable of discharging the duties of government in protecting life and property within its area. These four are essential in our judgment, and essential under the Treaty, by which we stand, and which we are prepared to take any necessary steps to implement.
For the moment, I would rather not say more upon that subject, because whatever developments may occur will occur within a very short period of time. It will certainly be within the time when the House will be in Session, and when it can be consulted on the course of events. For the moment, I will only make this appeal to the house—that the natural horror and indignation which we feel at the dastardly crime committed should not prevent us from preserving that calm which has always characterised Britain in trying moments. It is difficult, I know, but Ireland pre-eminently demands calm on the part of our Government. We all know that restraint is always apt to be denounced, and that violence is too often acclaimed as firmness. It is one of the defects into which we are too apt to stumble. But may I say this, and I say it from what I know. The world is watching what this country is doing to-day with anxious eyes, and no one is watching it with greater trepidation and anxiety than our greatest friends, who believe in England. [HON. MEMBERS "Britain!"] Who believe in Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "England!"] No. We stand together. We stood together in the War, and we will stand together in every great crisis.
I am told by a great statesman who is a great friend of ours, and who happens to be here at this moment, that we have no idea how England is being watched at this moment.
They say that if England is swept by panic. Now England is just like any other country. But if England keeps her head, they say that it is the same England that has always displayed calm composure, judgment, firmness in moments when others would have been swept away by passion. I am not asking the House to sanction the policy of indefinite acquiescence in a defiance of the Treaty. While we are pressing the North to deal impartially between all religions under their sway, we are insisting upon the South adhering in every particular to the Treaty which its leaders have signed. If we fail in that, then it will be for this House to take action, and find men who will discharge their duty in this respect, as in all others, fairly to the Empire.
The Prime Minister in his interesting speech has laid before us, not for the first time, the considerations which prompted the Government to adopt the policy they have adopted. In my view there are three accusations which may fairly be made against the Government. In the first place, they are not the people who ought to have followed this policy, even if it be a right policy. Secondly, even if this policy he right, they have not followed it in the right way. Thirdly, even now they do not understand what is the real heart of the problem. They ought not to have followed this policy, because they were pledged against it. The right hon. Gentleman says he was not pledged personally, and as I have not his speeches here I cannot test them. But anyone who recollects these matters recollects that in the House of Lords, when Lord Monteagle proposed Dominion Home Rule, the Lord Chancellor opposed it in many contemptuous terms, and said it was thoroughly unworkable. [HON. MEMBERS: "And so did the Prime Minister."] Secondly, I say that the Government have done it in the wrong way. That was so ably put in the very brilliant speech of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. R. McNeill) that I need not enlarge on it. The first thing to do was to restore order. The fundamental mistake the Government made was to suppose that the political solution was the only solution, or even the main solution required.
The great thing to do was to get rid of murder, to abolish the notion that murder was a legitimate political instrument. Sir Henry Wilson is the last victim of that most vicious and wicked doctrine. The political importance of that most unhappy crime, which we all deplore, is just that—that it shows there is a great body of opinion which still holds to the notion that you may use murder as an instrument for political agitation. That vitiated the whole plan. The plan was to set up Dominion Home Rule. That involved, necessarily, a certain period of time during which the matter was to be discussed and the machinery considered. During that time, of course, the effective machine of law and order ought to have been kept up, and the first conditions of any understanding with Mr. Collins or Mr. Griffith or anyone else should have been: "Will you co-operate in the interval in assisting us to keep perfect order—police, magistrates, and everybody—in the ordinary courts of justice in every part of Ireland? We will not consent to enter upon the political negotiations until order reigns and law is obeyed." Whether that be a good policy or not, the fatal mistake was that the Government began at the wrong end. The first had agreement, then the Constituent Assembly, and then the restoration of order. They should have been in just the opposite order.
They should have begun by restoring order; then they should have had a Constituent Assembly, and last of all they should have gone on to a final understanding on which the future government of Ireland would have been based. Then there would not have been this miserable and fatal interregnum, which has caused the loss of such a. quantity of lives, and so much misery and disorganisation, and has actually brought Ireland to the point where she is to-day. It is not a question of whether the Provisional Government maintain their good faith to restore order, but whether they are able to restore order. If you destroy the whole of your police force and the whole organisation for maintaining order, it would tax the greatest administrator in the world to set up again what has been destroyed. Really, one does not know whether, if everyone behaves perfectly well, and if the Provisional Government and the Government here do their very best, it is possible now to restore order.
Was there ever a more conspicuous illustration of Ministerial failure I Even now the Government do not understand what is really wanted. Even now they talk about the Treaty being accepted. It is a desirable thing that it should be accepted, but the real point is whether the armed men in Ireland will accept it. It is very likely untrue, but I read in their extremist paper, "The Republic of Ireland," that the whole Republican Army is now united against the Constitution. It may or may not be true, but suppose it is true; what does it matter how people vote so long as people with arms in their hands are prepared to enforce their views? The real difficulty is not whether you have a Free State, a Republic or an oligarchic system, but whether you are going to govern by law or by revolver. The Government has steadily made the system worse. Everything they have done has made everything worse.
How are we to vote now? We should vote to turn out the Government, because, whatever policy you pursue, they are incompetent to carry it out. Can you name any policy of conciliation or coercion which this Government have tried and in which they have not lamentably failed They have failed in everything, The Prime Minister appears to assent. He is, naturally, proud of the docility of his supporters, which enables him to continue in office however badly he fails. The Government ought to forget what the effect will be on the world. They ought to forget the interests concerned, and simply think of what is right. If you have a Government which only asks just what is the real and honest course to put dawn murder, murder will be put down. I do not care whether they are Liberals or Conservatives, or anyone else; if they honestly approach the subject with a desire to do what is right to put down murder, they will succeed. The Government, in the whole course of their existence, have approached no subject in that spirit. They have always asked, what would be the effect on this body of opinion or upon that? They have asked, "What will be the effect on the country? Shall we get the votes of Labour, or be disoredited with Labour?" They have tried somehow or other to gain some temporary advantage. As long as you do that, you will never govern Ireland. You will destroy the whole British Empire. You will destroy India
and Egypt, as you have destroyed Ireland. You are going downhill because you have not got any moral character. I find that is what is generally thought by all sorts of people all over the country of the Government and its ways. The only way to fight a great moral evil like murder is by being honest and doing what is right. It is because I am persuaded the Government cannot take that line that I shall go into the Division Lobby in favour of the reduction of the Vote.
|Division No. 176.]||AYES||[10.56 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Gretton, Colonel John||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Archer-Shoe, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Armstrong, Henry Bruce||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Llv'p'1,W.D'by)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C (Kent)||Pickering, Colonel Emil W.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Polson, Sir Thomas A.|
|Benn, Capt. Sir I. H., Bart,(Gr'nw'h)||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford vere||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bigland, Alfred||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Remer, J. R.|
|Blair, Sir Reginald||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Remnant, Sir James|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Joynson-Hicks, Sir William||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Sharman-Crawford, Robert G.|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Lowther, Col. Claude (Lancaster)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||M'Connell, Thomas Edward||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Cory, Sir C. J. (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Macnaghten, Sir Malcolm||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Nall, Major Joseph||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Dixon, Captain Herbert||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Sir F. Banbury and Mr. Reid.|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Adkins, Sir William Ryland Dent||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm. W.)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Borwick, Major G. O.||Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bowyer, Captain G. W. E.||Churchman, Sir Arthur|
|Atkey, A. R.||Breese, Major Charles E.||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender|
|Baird, Sir John Lawrence||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Clough, Sir Robert|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Briggs, Harold||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Banton, George||Brittain, Sir Harry||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Britton, G. B.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Broad, Thomas Tucker||Colfax, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Bromfield, William||Cope, Major William|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. G. (Glas., Gorbals)||Brotherton, colonel Sir Edward A.||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Bruthon, Sir James||Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Dalziel, Sir D. (Lambeth, Brixton)|
|Barrand, A. R.||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Davies, A. (Lancaster, Critheroe)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)|
|Bartley-Denniss, Sir Edmund Robert||Burgoyen, Lt.-Col. Sir Alan Hughes||Davies, David (Montgomery)|
|Beckett, Hon. Sir Gervase||Cairns, John||Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)|
|Bann, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Davies, Sir William H. (Bristol, S.)|
|Bennett, Sir Thomas Jewell||Carr, W. Theodore||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Carter, R. A. D. (Man., Withington)||Denison-Pander, John C.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Casey, T. W.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry|
|Bitchall, J. Dearman||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Doyle, N. Grattan|
|Edge, Captain Sir William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Raeburn, Sir William H.|
|Ednam, Viscount||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Ramsden, G. T.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Keliaway, Rt. Hon. Fredk, George||Rankin, Captain James Stuart|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. N.|
|Edwards, Hugh (Glam., Neath)||Kenyon, Barnet||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Kiley, James Daniel||Renwick, Sir George|
|Entwistle, Major C F.||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Evans, Ernest||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Knight, Major E. A. (Kidderminster)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Falcon, Captain Michael||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfrey||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Flides, Henry||Lawson, John James||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Fitzroy, Captain Hon. Edward A.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Foreman, Sir Henry||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Forestler-Walker, L.||Lorden, John William||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Forrest, Walter||Lort-Williams, J.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert Arthur|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Frees, Sir Walter de||Lowther, Maj.-Gen. Sir C. (Penrith)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Seddon, J. A.|
|Gardiner, James||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Gee, Captain Robert||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Sexton, James|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W.W.||Shaw, Hon Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Macleod, J. Mackintosh||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Gilbert, James Darlel||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel Sir John||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James J.||Simm, M. T.|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward A.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mallaby-Deeley, Sir Harry||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Mallalieu Frederick William||Smith, Sir Harold (Warrington)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Malone, C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hackn'y, N.)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. (Preston)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Sir Hamar||Manville, Edward||Stanton, Charles Butt|
|Greer, Sir Harry||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Starkey, Captain John Ralph|
|Gregory, Holman||Martin, A. E.||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.|
|Groin, Colonel Sir James William||Matthews, David||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Grenfell Edward Charles||Middlebrook, Sir William||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Grundy, T. W.||Mitchell, Sir William Lane||Sugden, W. H.|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. Frederick E.||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Surtees, Brigadler-General H. C.|
|Guthrie, Thomas Maule||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Moritz||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Swan, J. E.|
|Hamilton, Sir George C.||Morden, Col. W Grant||Sykes, Colonel Sir A. J. (Knutsford)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Morris, Richard||Taylor, J.|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Morrison, Hugh||Thomas, Brig,-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Haslam, Lewis||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Murchison, C. K.||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell-(Maryhill)|
|Hayward, Evan||Murray, Rt. Hon. C. D. (Edinburgh)||Thorpe, Captain John Henry|
|Henderson. Lt.-Col. V. L. (Tradeston)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Myers, Thomas||Towntey, Maximilian G.|
|Herbert, Col. Hon. A. (Yeovil)||Naylor, Thomas Ellis||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Neal, Arthur||Vickers, Douglas|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Wallace, J.|
|Hinds, John||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir John Tudor|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.|
|Holmes, J. Stanley||Norman, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hood, Sir Joseph||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hope, Sir H.(Stirling & Cl'ckm'nn,W.)||O'Grady, Captain James||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Hope, J. O. (Berwick & Haddington)||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Hopkins, John W. W.||Parker, James||Waston, Captain John Bertrand|
|Horne, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Parry, Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Henry||Wetston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Pearce, Sir William||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Hudson, R. M.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wignall, James|
|Hume-Willlams, Sir W. Ellis||Peel, Col. He. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Perring, William George||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Philipps, Gen. Sir I. (Southampton)||Williams, C. (Tavistock)|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Chester, City)||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Irving, Dan||Pliditch, Sir Philip||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Southbrdge)|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Wilson, Joseph H. (South Shields)|
|Jameson, John Gordon||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Pownail, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Pratt, John William||Winton, Earl|
|Johnson, Sir Stanley||Preston, Sir W. R.||Wise, Frederick|
|Johnstone, Joseph||Prescott, Major Sir W. H.||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Purchase, H. G.||Wood, Major Sir S. Hill (High peak)|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rae, Sir Henry N.||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Worsfold, T. Cato||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.||Young, W. (Perth & Kinross, Perth)||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Mr.|
|Yeo, Sir Alfred William||Younger, Sir George||McCurdy.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.