Relief Committee.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 13th July 1922.

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Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Committee over which the hon. Member for Chelsea presides is competent to award relief to Catholics as well as to Protestants; and how many of the applicants are Catholics?

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I regret that the Noble Lord should have thought proper to repeat this question, which he addressed to me the day before yesterday as a supplementary, and to which I hoped I had suitably replied, and that he should think that my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) would consent to preside over a Committee which was debarred by sectarian considerations from giving relief to the victims of persecution and outrage. The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, and the hon. Member for Chelsea informs me that relief is awarded to properly qualified Catholics in exactly the same manner as to Protestants. The members are: Protestants 152, Catholics 143, and 88 whose religion was not stated. I hope the Noble Lord will see fit to express regret for the imputation into which he has been led.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

I assure my right hon. Friend I should not have put the question if he had the civility to reply to it the other day. It contains no imputation against the hon. Member for Chelsea; in fact it was at his request I put it down.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

On a point of Order. Am I not entitled to put a question without getting a reply containing rudeness and levity?

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

I think the Noble Lord is a little unnecessarily touchy.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

I know a gentleman when I see one.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The Noble Lord is entitled to put down a question—

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

I am entitled to put it down without being insulted.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The Noble Lord must not interrupt. He is entitled to put down the question, but this is a question which might easily have two meanings, and I think the Colonial Secretary was perfectly justified, the question having been put, in giving an emphatic disclaimer, which is what the Noble Lord really desired.

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware there is a misapprehension upon this point? I, as Chairman of this Committee, was very anxious the Noble Lord should put down this question, in order that there should be no misunderstanding at all, as to there being any distinction made between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

The answer was unnecessarily rude.

HON. MEMBERS:

Withdraw!

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

Not a word will I withdraw.

HON. MEMBERS:

Shame! Withdraw!

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

The House will please allow the right hon. Gentleman to proceed.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

I was, of course, ignorant of the arrangement between the Noble Lord and the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), but, as a matter of personal explanation, I took great exception to the suggestion that I, as the Minister responsible, or His Majesty's Government in general, would endeavour to draw a distinction on the grounds of religious belief, between persons who were entitled to assistance in distress. I did regard that as a wounding and offensive suggestion—

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Dundee

—which was also an absurd suggestion, and I am very much surprised that after the whole basis of that suggestion has been cut away, we do not get a more courteous response.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

It is quite clear there has been a complete misunderstanding as to the purport of the Noble Lord's question. The Noble Lord was perfectly justified in putting the question down.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

The House sat until two o'clock this morning.

Photo of Mr John Whitley Mr John Whitley , Halifax

It is obviously a complete misunderstanding. The right hon. Gentleman entirely misinterpreted the question of the Noble Lord and the reason for which it was put down.