I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, after the word "confirmed," to insert the words
subject to the condition that it shall be the duty of the Commissioners appointed under Article Twelve of the said Articles of Agreement for a Treaty to adjust the boundary between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland without substantially altering the area of Northern Ireland as fixed by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920.
I recognise that this raises the substance of the question which has been discussed in this House during the past two days, but I am not going to refer to any pledges or promises, neither am I going to dig into the past to find out what has been said by various statesmen at various times. This Committee can never be so interesting, perhaps, as when a statesman is explaining what he said upon some past occasion, or, perhaps, when one statesman is explaining what another statesman meant upon some other occasion. All I desire to bring to the notice of the Committee is the importance of the work which has to be performed by the Boundary Commission when it starts. After all, a Boundary Commission is supposed to be a Commission which settles, in some way or another, a boundary line, and when it sets out upon its mission at least it ought to know which way it is to go. The eminent gentlemen who will form this Commission—all the names we do not know at the present moment—will set out upon their formidable task in order to rectify the boundary line. No one suggests, surely, that in rectifying that boundary line they should at some point in their journey across Ireland suddenly take a turn to the left, if they proceed from the West Coast, and beat up North and thus include in the territory which may be afterwards assigned to Southern Ireland a, whole county. The idea of a boundary line and
the rectification of it would surely mean that when the Commissioners proceed, it they find that the existing line passes through the centre of a village they will stop, make their inquiries and decide that the boundary line shall pass either on one side of the village or on the other. When they come, shall we say, to a holding where the boundary line passes right through, the middle of the holding they might very well decide that the boundary line shall go to one side or the other. The word "geographical" is mentioned in Article 12. They may find certain geographical conditions which would entitle them to rectify the boundary so as to include certain physical conditions of the country as they find them. But to expect that the Boundary Commission is going to be able to settle the prejudices and passions, both religious and racial, which have divided that unhappy country for so many years is surely to expect too much, because the Boundary Commission is only appointed to do what is its real job.
If they could succeed in discovering a boundary line which will be satisfactory to everyone concerned, either in or out of Ireland, if they could fix upon a line as to which everyone who has taken the least interest in this quest ion for the past score of years would say that they had done satisfactorily and well; they would be worthy to be retained in the service of this country for alt time, because there are other problems to which their attention might very usefully be directed. But you cannot expect, unless it be from a Commission appointed by heaven—you cannot expect from an ordinary Boundary Commission such results as those. Therefore, we are asking in the Amendment that the members of this Commission may be able to get that which they have not yet got, owing to the dispute and discussion which follows this Irish question wherever it is to be found— that they may get some sort of direction, some indication as to what their job really is. Suppose, for instance, that the Boundary Commission thinks it has to interpret Article 12. There is a strong school of thought which says that is its job. Will they proceed to have in front of them before they set out all the Debates which have taken place, the explanations which have been given by both sides, the wonderful speeches which have been made, and even the comments which have appeared in the Press? Will they try, with all that mass and mountain of material, to interpret what Article 12 means? We can at least by this Amendment, if it be accepted, give the Boundary Commission some indication, because it proposes that they are not to add substantially to the territory of Southern Ireland. They are not to alter substantially the boundary of Northern Ireland, and therefore their task will be simply to rectify the line, not to act as people who are going to bring a solution of difficulties which are beyond their solution, but just as a real Boundary Commission.
I would like to add one or two words in support of my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment. Last night, rightly or wrongly, we altered the Treaty, and the reason we did it—of course, we must abide by the decision of the House—was that it was alleged that those who signed the Treaty did not fully understand the effect of what they had signed. Do not let us make the same mistake again now. We have altered the Treaty in the sense in which the Free State have asked the Government to alter it, and I am asking the. Government now—and I sympathise most fully with them in their difficult position—before we part with this Bill to allow this Amendment to be made, so that we may not make the same mistake again. If we pass this Bill without this Amendment, we shall leave it in the power of the Commission to include in the Free State the whole of Tyrone, Fermanagh and a large portion of County Down. Anybody who has been in Ireland must know the seriousness of that. County Down includes places like Newcastle, a seaside place, Castle-wellan, and the Mourne Mountains, the source of the water supply of Belfast itself. Can there be any justification for doing that except the desire to make it quite impossible for Ulster to carry on as a. separate entity? I doubt if the Committee really do mean this, and, if they do not, I respectfully ask them not to allow this power to remain in the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) said that he did not for one moment believe that any lawyer would come to the conclusion that the Commission had any such power or duty under the Treaty.
In my younger days I was a member of a Commission which was sent out to South Africa, and I know the difficulties. You have got a distinguished judge from South Africa to act as the Chairman, you have a representative of the Irish Free State who will act more or less for the Free State, and you are going to appoint another representative of Ulster. I assume that you will appoint some advocate on their behalf, say Lord Carson, or somebody like him. The result will be that the whole responsibility will rest on that Judge who will have to sit and determine this question. Is that a fair thing to ask of any human being? The House of Commons is shirking this great political question, the most important that has been before the House in my time, and putting it upon the shoulders, I do not say of an unknown Judge, but of a Judge, however eminent. What will be his duty? When I went to South Africa, I had to put myself in a. similar position. What is he to do when seated in front of him are two contending advocates? He will have, a terrible time if we do not give him some directions. When he comes to look and see what is his real duty as a conscientious man under Article 12, he will see that he has to
determine, in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants, so far as may be compatible with economic and geographic conditions, the boundaries between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland.
How is he to find out the wishes of the inhabitants? You have given him no power. Do not let us have any more elementary mistakes. Do not let us have the Law Officers again saying that they did not know there was no defaulting Clause in the Bill. This gentleman has no power to compel the attendance of witnesses or to examine them upon oath, and he has no power to take a plebiscite of the district. If he tries to get the opinion of the inhabitants, he has no legal power, and he must get it the best way he can. Is that a fair thing to ask of any tribunal? Is it not simply shirking our responsibility? He has to determine it in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants. The inhabitants of what? Take Tyrone or Fermanagh. Is there to be a majority? My knowledge of Ireland is confined to the South, and I do not pretend to speak with any local knowledge, but I should think it is perfectly possible that there may be a Roman Catholic majority in Tyrone and
Fermanagh and possibly in County Down. I am told that there is not. But let us assume that it is so. Does this House mean that it is going to place it in the power of this Commission to take all those counties away from Ulster and give them to the Free State? If it is not meant to do that, is appeal earnestly to the Government not to let this Bill go through without an Amendment of this kind.
The Prime Minister made a most eloquent speech in introducing this Bill and the Colonial Secretary made a splendid speech in reply. Probably we are all agreed that those two speeches were difficult speeches to make, and were made with the highest possible skill. They both said that they did not like the job of bringing in this Bill, but they did it for the sake of peace. Do you think for one moment that the sending out of a document like this without proper directions is in the least likely to bring peace? If you do send it out as it is now, and this tribunal sits, and they really act only as a Boundary Commission should act, giving a give and take line, do you think that the Free State will be inclined to agree? We were told yesterday by an Irishman that, whatever is the decision, it will not determine the question. He did not hold out any false hopes. I Lave always said that my Sinn Fein friends never deceive one: they tell you frankly what are their aims find objects. He said that this will not give us peace.
Supposing this Commission act on this view, and come to the conclusion that the majority of the inhabitants require a certain thing to be done, and supposing they take away from Ulster Tyrone, Fermanagh and County Down, do you think that will tend to peace in Ulster? Do you think that it would be fair to Ulster that such a thing should be possible, and that it should be made practically impossible for, a Government that we have set up to continue? Do you think that they would take it lying down? We have to look facts in the face. I am not in their counsels, but is it not likely that more trouble would ensue? But if you carry this Amendment, you do then give this Commission a definite power, and it does mean peace, if the Free State do not intend an aggressive attack upon Ulster. If they do not mean that, and they do not intend to injure Ulster by depriving it of such a large amount of territory as to make it almost impossible for it to exist, then they will be perfectly content to abide by the decision of a tribunal which gives a give and take boundary in that way. The probabilities are that they might almost be able to agree on that give and take boundary. At all events, the Commission would sit and carry out their duties, which, of course, would be of a less onerous description. They would deal more with local details, and proceed comparatively on a small scale. If for any reason the Free State thought it was not worth while to have the arbitration upon those lines, and were content rather with the boundary as it stood, it would be within their power, and the present boundary would stand, though it might be altered at some future time by agreement. At all events, peace would exist for the time being.
I would once more appeal to the Committee. You are sending out this Bill for the purpose of peace. You have already altered the Treaty for the purpose of carrying out what is alleged to be the real intention of the parties. If you are altering it for one purpose, then carry out what was the original intention of the parties, and is the present intention of the parties. After all, we are responsible for this Bill. We have taken upon ourselves to alter the Treaty. If we did not alter the Treaty and this Bill were thrown out, the result would be that the boundary would remain as it is arid no Commission would be set up. We are altering the Treaty for that purpose. As we are altering it, let us see that this Bill, for which we are responsible, carries out what we intend. I venture to submit there is not the slightest doubt that the vast majority of this House genuinely intend that this Boundary Commission is not to be an act of aggression against Ulster and is not to have the power to take away from Ulster large tracts of country, but is only to be what is ordinarily called n. Boundary Commission and not a Commission with, extraordinary powers. If we desire peace, let us say exactly what we moan, and then there will be a chance of peace. If we do not say what we mean, then we are shirking what is a very difficult political issue. I say we must take the responsibility in our own hands and say that what we mean is to sot up this Boundary Commission for the purpose, not of altering substantially the territory of the Free State or of Ulster, but of merely dealing with local matters such as are well within the purview of a Boundary Commission.
There are some of us in this House who happen to be dissociated largely from the controversy that divides Northern and Southern Ireland. We are residents of Great Britain, but we are also Irishmen, and we very much regret the difference that divides the Irishman of the North from the Irishman of the South. We are very desirous of securing an arrangement on a voluntary scale between the two contending parties. When it is proposed that in connection with a solemn covenant entered into between the Governments of Ireland and the Government of Great Britain the men appointed to the Commission are to be given instructions before they act, I suggest that in those circumstances no Treaty has any meaning. If instructions are to be given, why were they not given in the first instance? When the negotiations were taking place between the various parties concerned, why was it not laid down that the duty of the Commission was to be limited and that they should not have the right of final decision?
We stand by Article 12, giving free power to the members of the Commission to decide, without dictation from any source. The Judge who has been selected as Chairman comes from South Africa, a very sinister circumstance probably, and certainly very significant, because South Africa has had much the same problem as that which faces Ireland. South Africa has been divided between the Boer and the Briton. South African politics have been largely decided upon almost similar issues as the issues which prevail in Ireland, although probably of ft different kind. The Judge who has been selected to act as the final arbiter is a High Court Judge of South Africa. Could you have a better expression of what might be called an impartial Judgment? This gentleman has been selected because he is so far away from the scene of conflict as to be able to give an im- partial judgment on the evidence placed before him.
This is a question of the boundaries of Northern Ireland. Supposing for a moment they agree, as the Free State Government have agreed, that they will abide by the decision of the Commission, although they do not know exactly what if; may finally decide. The Free' State Government have agreed that they will accept the decision of the Commission, voluntarily, when it is given. That means that if the decision is against them, 400,000 Nationalists and Roman Catholics will be transferred to the authority of a Government, with which they are not in agreement. It means that 400,000 Catholics and Nationalists, if the decision is given against them by the Commission, will have to give their allegiance to a Government in which they do not believe. Practically one-third of the population of Northern Ireland will have to consent to be governed by those to whom they are diametrically opposed on most questions. They are willing to accept the decision, but the other party say, "No. We will not accept any decision unless it is our decision." It is a case of "heads we win, tails you lose."
The Amendment that has been proposed strikes a direct blow at the Bill. It is not an attempt to amend the Bill but an attempt to create circumstances that will eventually mean the outbreak of hostilities in Ireland once more. We who learned our politics in our early days in Ireland know what is the trouble. If certain people could not get political reputation out of the trouble there would be no trouble, Ireland is one economically. It is a, tragedy to go into Ireland to-day and to meet armed men who stop you when you are going from one town to another, in a country with only 4,000,000 of people. It is a tragedy that when you travel from one I art of the country to another—and it is a very small country, comparatively speaking—you find posters on the walls saying, "To Hell with the Pope," while on the other side you see posters, "Down with King Billy." Billy ought to have been dead long, long years ago. But the controversy keeps alive. We Irishmen in this country want to see the controversy dead and buried, and the only way to bury it is to prevent the keeping alive of these old differences. Ireland is one. Some of us opposed partition. We opposed the Bill in the first case, but we accepted it eventually because we thought it might lead, through the common difficulties that would arise in consequence of its operation, to an understanding, and that Ireland, North and South, might come to an amicable arrangement to work together for the common good of their own country.
This Amendment says that the Commission, a Commission agreed to by all the representatives, is practically to be useless. I am not going to quote speeches made yesterday, because I am sick and tired of hearing these great statesmen speak. The more they talk the less they tell me. One right hon. Gentleman said, in the most solemn language, that such and such a thing had happened. Then I heard another right hon. Gentleman saying that it never happened. They were both there at the time. They both believed that they were telling the truth, but they were telling it in different language. We common people want to know what is the truth. Give the Commission a chance. Did the right hon. Gentlemen who met here and pledged the credit of both countries really mean what they said? Does Article 12 moan nothing? As far as I have been able to find out from this Debate, it meant nothing. It was mere camouflage. The people of Ireland, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, were asked to lay clown their arms on the strength of a pledge which was never meant. They said, "We will accept two Parliaments for Ireland, North and South."
Now we are told that the boundaries of the two countries must remain as they are: two countries in one, a country that ought to be one, because there is no real difference dividing them in fact. [Laughter.] I repeat that there is no real difference dividing them. The man of the North of Ireland may believe or may think that he has a difference with the man m the South, but when you come to realities; there is no real difference between them. Economically they are one. We in this country have as much difference between ourselves as have the people of Ireland. There is as much difference, economically, between the North and the South of England as there is between the North and the South of Ireland, yet we have never made a political question of it. We are one. Although I may represent Silvertown and an hon. Member opposite may represent Kensington, our interests are the same because we are members of the same family in the same country. That is the attitude that we ought to take. When we have appointed this Commission and the people have agreed, what quarrel can there be between them?
This Amendment, is an attempt to create and to continue the old differences between the North and the South of Ireland, differences which no longer exist in reality. Some people trade on prejudices, religious and political. I do not trade on those prejudices, because the best friends I have ever had have been people who were against me politically. My best pals have been people who do not agree with a word I say or with anything that I do. That is good enough for us in our ordinary associations; then why cannot it be recognised in the wider sense of nationality, and why cannot the gentlemen representing Northern Ireland hold their hands out to their brothers in Southern Ireland, and not talk about bloodshed? Blood can be shed in both cases, and the Irish, race is not dependent upon the number of people who live in Ireland. There are Irishmen in England and there are Irishmen in Australia, in Canada, in America, who have influence upon the political developments of the world.
If hon. Members opposite are going to talk about fighting an then we are willing to accept the Challenge, if there is going to be any challenge. We do not want it. We only say "Let this Commission operate. Let it give its decision." We who represent Irishmen who are not supposed to belong to the North, we who look upon our people as part and parcel of the human family, are willing to accept the decision of the Commission, whatever that decision may be, and we are willing to work loyally so that, eventually, we may have co-operation between the people of Ireland for the purpose of saving our nation from disgrace and disaster as the result of continuing controversies winch have gone on for hundreds of years.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir WILLIAM ALLEN:
I would like, as an Ulsterman, to make an appeal to the Committee that this Amendment should pass. There is this difference between the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) and myself, that, although we are both Irishmen, I have all my stake in life in Ireland. My home is there, I live there except when I am attending my Parliamentary duties, and I think the men on the spot ought to be able to make a special appeal. Our livelihood is there, our friends are there, and, strange as it may seem, our friends of all denominations are in Ireland. I do not think there is so much difference,' really, between the feelings which Mr. Cosgrave has at heart and the feelings of Sir James Craig. I believe that if Mr. Cosgrave had the power, unfettered, to act with Sir James Craig in the settlement of this boundary question, it would be done, but we have a feeling that there are those in Southern Ireland who are tying Mr. Cosgrave's hands.
We who live in Ireland, and who have a stake in Ireland, are—I am sure the right hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) will agree—the best judges. We have not left our country. I was horn there, I have lived there all my life, and I may die there; certainly I do not intend, willingly, to leave my country. What I want, and I believe what the majority of the people in Ireland want more than anything, is peace. I have been trained all my life to seek for peace accompanied with honour. That is what we want now. Peace to carry on our business, peace to carry out our work, peace to carry out the abject in life for which we were placed in life. We thought when the Act of 1920 was given to us that peace had come, but, evidently, it was not so.
I am not going to refer to the disturbances that have taken place in my unhappy country in the past three years. I am sorry that some hon. Members opposite spent so much of their, time referring to these things. I do not think it does any good. I do not think it does any good when we have a speech such as that made by the right hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool. Unfortunately, we can too frequent use the tu quoque, but flinging that sort of thing across the Floor of the House leads nowhere. This precious
Treaty was supposed to be unalterable, but now the whole House admits that it is alterable. When Mr. Churchill made those famous remarks which have been quoted here, all practically in the House agreed, with the exception of a very small number, that it was unalterable. Now some time has elapsed, and the House has come to the opinion, that the Treaty is unalterable. There is one part of Mr. Churchill's quotation which I would like to give, as it has not been given so far. In reply to the speech made by the then representative of the City of London he said:
If as a result of the vision inspired by the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman and the cogency of his arguments, or as a result of his particularly resourceful experience and knowledge, we were to persuade the House to make any additions, alteration, modification, amplification, etc. of this Treaty then the Bill would lie dead, the Treaty would be dead, and the Government would be dead.
The only one of these three casualties which has taken place is the casualty of the dead Government, and I am inclined to think, from past experience of the attempts which have been made by great statesmen, that that is what is going to happen eventually to this Treaty. From Mr. Gladstone's time down to the present time they have found their political grave in the bogs of Irish politics. There were two Very important statesmen who made remarks on 15th December, 1921, which I think it well to bring before the House when it is proposed to amend this Treaty. One was made by the late Mr. Bonar Law. He said—and it is wonderful the foresight which that gentleman had in his political life—
It is absurd to think that we have settled the Irish question when both Parliaments agree to this.
How wise he was in his day and generation, and we find it perfectly true to-day that that Treaty did not settle anything, and I doubt very much, although I am asking the House to help us to pass this Amendment, whether that would do it. But one peculiar statement was made by Mr. Churchill. He said:
The world will look on this Treaty as a great and peculiar manifestation of British genius.
I think that he intended it in a very different light from that in which we see it now. It was a very peculiar manifestation of British genius, and it was impossible to work it without some Amendment.
That Amendment we are trying to make to-day. The Amendment to a Treaty also implies, as this Amendment says, preserving the area fixed by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920; and it will be remembered that the area fixed by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, was fixed by these words:
That for the purposes of this Act Northern Ireland shall consist of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry, Tyrone and the Parliamentary Boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry.
There is no doubt about that. That was the boundary that was given to us by that Act, and so far as I can ascertain, judging by the writings and speeches and articles of all kinds that have appeared in the British Press, I can find no one but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), whom I am glad to see in his place, who maintains that it was not intended that that six-county boundary should stand. I know how difficult it is for British politicians, in fact for politicians of any country, to live up to the actual language which they use, but there is no doubt that the late Mr. Bonar Law understood from the then Prime Minister that this six-county area was given for good to the Northern Irish Parliament. Nothing could be clearer than the statement of the late Mr. Bonar Law in December, 1921. It was to the effect that the letter which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon gave to the late Mr. Bonar Law prior to the election left the impression on his mind that for good and all the six-county area was to be the boundary of Northern Ireland. And the impression left on his mind was the impression left on the mind of every Member of this House who sat here at that time. When Mr. Bonar Law made his speech distinctly defining the six counties as the area of the Parliament of Northern Ireland not a Member of this House contradicted it. That is a remarkable thing.
There is one other point that has not been mentioned in connection with the Act of 1920 and the six county areas and the possibility of amendment by this Commission, and it is a very important point. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that large portions of Fermanagh and Tyrone were transferred to Southern Ireland
what would become of the representatives of the territories so transferred, who are in the Parliament of Northern Ireland at present, and two of whom are in this House? The implication of the Act of 1920 therefore is that if is understood that those two counties certainly—and the other counties are in the same position— were intended to stand practically as they are with nine representatives in the Northern Parliament and two in this Parliament, because if you reduce that area to any considerable extent then where is the amendment to the Act of 1920 that should be introduced? I, myself, on the 16th February, 1922, used these words:
Let it be understood once and for all that, so far as we in Ulster are concerned, we will fight to the death against any serious disturbance of the boundaries which have been given to us by this House by the Act of 1920 and that we stand by.
It is peculiar that the words which I used have an effect very similar to that of the Amendment which we now propose —"any serious disturbance." The more I think of this particular Amendment, and the more I think of the speeches that have been made, and of the letters and articles that have been written as to the intentions of the then Government as to the powers of the Boundary Commission, the more I am surprised that there should be any discussion on these words at all, because all seem to agree, with the exception, of course, of the representatives of Southern Ireland, who have very different ideas from those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs or Lord Birkenhead, or any of these others, as to what the area is. We in Ulster believe that we have the sympathy of a very large percentage of the Members of this House in the way in which we have been treated. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to notice than that meets with approval from all sides of the House. I believe that many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who voted against us yesterday believe in their hearts that we have been treated abominably. All sides of the House have told me that privately, and there is engendered, and fast developing into a flame, a feeling in Ulster, because of that treatment, that is going to be very hard to deal with, and unfortunately the introduction of this Measure now widens the breach between North and South.
Appeal after appeal has been made to Ulster. I cannot understand it. It is always to Ulster—give, give, give! There is never an appeal to Southern Ireland. The honour of this House and the honour of this country is tightly bound up with this wonderful Treaty. Time and again we hear that from those benches, but there is not a word of the honour of this country or the honour of this House concerning the Act of 1920. Is that fair treatment? You know in your hearts that it is not. Surely the same honour is bound up with the Act of 1920. We appeal to Members of this House, now that we have the opportunity, at least to say to the Commission that it was not your intention to disturb large territories in Northern Ireland. Will you act on your own private judgment, and not give a party vote? I am quite satisfied that, if Members of the House were given a free vote, they would, at all events, for once in their lives, show sympathy with Ulster—sympathy that has been lacking for a very long time, believing, as I do, that hon. Members feel in their hearts that we have been very shabbily treated. There is not a man on the Labour Benches who would suffer this kind of treatment in connection with any Labour organisation.
What does it mean? I do not like to use the word "coercion," but that is what we feel it is in Ulster. Why? Because, as we have refused to appoint a Commissioner, you insist on one being appointed. Would any Labour Member tolerate that for a moment in connection with any Labour organisation? Not for a moment. It is compulsory arbitration. That is what you are forcing on us. We call it coercion. It is a nasty word, perhaps, but I cannot help it; there it is. I appeal to hon. Members to think carefully and generously regarding our position. If we made an appeal outside this House it would be an appeal to Southern Ireland. We know perfectly well the forces with which Mr. Cosgrave has to deal. We know that he is being pushed in this matter. We feel that if he could settle it himself he would do so. I appeal, therefore, to Southern Ireland, before this Bill passes this House, to agree to have a conference amongst themselves, Republicans, Free Staters, Sinn Feiners and all the other parties that are at each other's throats in Southern Ireland. Let them decide at a round-table conference to send Mr. Cosgrave to meet the Northern Ireland Premier anywhere. Let North and South agree to the decision of that meeting. If this Bill goes on, and if these discussions go on, you are widening and widening the breach between us. Before this Bill passes I would like to see that conference taking place, because peace is the only thing that will eventually bring prosperity to Ireland.
I cannot lay claim to the high distinction of Irish blood as a reason for intervening in this Debate. I cannot even lay claim to that newly-instituted qualification of a short visit made to the boundary of Ulster within the last month. As a newcomer to this House and as one who felt almost that the Irish question had become a thing of the past, a thing of history of which he could read and about which he could not feel the same passion as has been exhibited in years gone by, my sole reason for intervening is that I have felt a tendency to approach the question with less bias than that of which many of us on this side of the House are often accused. When I hear arguments, such as have been put forward to-day, that unless this Amendment is passed we are committing the same blunder as was committed before, in that we are passing a Bill saying one thing and in our hearts mean another, and when I observe that a similar Amendment was moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), on 2nd March, 1922, to meet the same point—an attempt which met the same fate, as this will meet—I ask myself what is the use of advancing such arguments. The House has already considered that point of view. I admit, however, that one cannot help being impressed by the serious tone and the undoubted feeling of responsibility of the speaker who has just spoken. It is in his attitude, and, if I may say so, in the very intelligent suggestion which he made at the close of his speech, that one finds some glimmer of hope. I desire, above all things, that this Boundary Commission should be unnecessary, that by some means or other a solution of the difficulty might be found without the Commission.
I remember a speech of the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Greene), full of that fiery eloquence and readiness to engage in deeds of bravery and warfare which we used to associate with ex-Galloper Smith, and I was almost persuaded that he had wandered into same disreputable secondhand shop and found the discarded uniform of the ex-Galloper and the book of words of his part. That talk is not the kind of talk which will bring about the result desired by the last speaker. Nor does it help when people talk as if the whole giving away were to be done by Ulster. If on this occasion Ulster is again inclined to frame for the Commission definite limits within which it must bind its decision, or there is to be trouble, it will prejudice the chances of peace. What is the real meaning behind all the talk on the Amendment—that the Commission is to meet, that the Judge is to sit with the representatives of North and South, and they are to feel in their hearts that if they attempt to go outside the narrow limits prescribed, whatever their reason for going outside those limits, even if it be economical, even if it be right or just or following the lines of democracy, there is going to be trouble? Surely it is a mistake to believe that in that spirit and in that way we shall find peace in Ireland? I am not one of those who believe that the generous spirit must always be shown by Ulster, but I think that this is a time when there might be a little more elasticity.
I know. I admit there has often been mistakes made in the past. But there also should be a great deal more elasticity in the view of the South. Even if it had always been the same plea, do I understand that it has always been obeyed? Has it always been listened to?
Surely there are many terrible exceptions. Surely one does read in history of the dangerous situation which was created in Ulster in 1914? Are we to understand that there are no very dangerous exceptions? I am talking of the difficulties that were added to the administration of this Empire in very serious circumstances. Is it not idle, then, to say that it is always Ulster that has to give? There is before us now an opportunity which, I believe, would make, more than anything else, for that end which all Irishmen seem to have at heart, namely, the peace of Ireland and the possible ultimate unity of Ireland, by generous acceptance of the Commission, by reliance on the Commission, which will simply act on terms that have been used successfully from one end of Europe to another. Even though hon. Members may feel that they could gain something by the passing of the Amendment, sooner or later they will have to come back to a conference. In the meantime they will have caused destruction in the very thing which they wish to preserve, they will have caused misery to the very people whom they profess to love. Sores will not be healed by Ulster now sticking to her rights or the South trying to propagate some new philosophy. In the end Irishmen will have to come back to a conference. Why not us the conference now? Why not let the Commission act on the elastic terms laid down, without trying by the Amendment to say to them beforehand, "Go outside these narrow limits and we will not be responsible." There is now a chance for Ulster to show that generosity which has been pleaded for in the past but has not always been shown. On this occasion, if Ulster can show generosity and waive its right to alter the scope of the Commission, if Ulster will accept the Commission and show full and complete faith in it, I am not so certain that there will not be a ready response in the South. Then we may really hope for something like a unified and peaceful Ireland.
I am sure that there is no member of this Committee, however jealous he may be of the dignity of the Committee and however conscious of the gravity of the Debate in which we are engaged, who would have any cause of complaint because of the manner in which our discussion of this subject has been conducted in the last three days. The last speaker carried the whole Committee with him when he said that the only permanent and ultimately satisfactory solution of this question is bound to be one which has the confidence, and is able to repose upon the confidence, of both Ulster and the Free State. It is from the point of view that has animated all who have taken part in the Debate, namely, that of a desire, at the worst, to avoid saying anything that would make a difficult question more difficult, and, at the best, perhaps, contribute something which might make it more practicable, that I take part in the discussion of the Amendment. The object of the Amendment is plain. It is to define rather more precisely what the intention of Parliament is in the establishment of the Boundary Commission. We have for the last two days moved in an atmosphere of quotations and counter-quotations, which it is not necessary for me on this occasion to multiply. I want, if I may, for a minute or two, to ask the Committee to give me their assent to what I think are the plain, broad facts that, irrespective of any party sympathy or party point of view, are reasonably common ground amongst us. The first thing that I wish to say and to which I think the whole of the Committee will assent—indeed, it has been, said before—is that at the time of the Treaty legislation, the original Treaty legislation, however much it was said on all sides of the House that it was desirable and proper and right to leave the interpretation of this Clause, establishing the powers of the Boundary Commission, to the Boundary Commission itself, yet there can be, I think, no doubt in the mind of anybody in Parliament at that date, that neither in the minds of the British signatories to the Treaty, who made the recommendation to Parliament to accept that Article as it stood, or in the mind of Parliament was there a shadow of doubt as to what that Article meant.
Will my hon. Friend allow me to call attention to the fact that every speaker on the Amendment attacking the Bill said it meant a possible transfer of large tracts of country, and one, who was Sir John Butcher at the time, said:
No one now disputes that under the terms of this boundary Clause it will be possible for an independent Commission to take large slices out of the guaranteed territory of Ulster and hand them over to Southern Ireland.
The same statement was made by all those who were attacking the Treaty.
I am not in the least denying that those statements were made. All I am saying is that in the minds of those best qualified to speak, the signatories, acting on the best advice of the day, who submitted the recommendation to Parliament, there never was any effective doubt as to what they were bringing forward. I am not speaking without my book in that matter, but I think it is hardly worth while going further. That brings me to say something about the hon. Member who spoke last. He said, "Why are the Conservative party bringing forward an Amendment to the Bill?" As I shall show in a moment, the reason why I voted against this in 1922, and why I propose to vote for it to-night, and why I think that will be the action of most of my friends, is that in 1922 there had been no practical weight of doubt thrown on the meaning of the Article. Since then there has been. I shall endeavour to show that it is the duty of Parliament to endeavour to make clear what intervening events have tended to obscure.
I suggest the general understanding of Parliament in 1921–22 is the same understanding that is working in the minds of the majority of Members of all parties to-day.
I think I shall not be contradicted when I say that most of us believe that the Boundary Commission will, when established, take the narrower view of its powers. I am not less certain it is true to say that every Member of this House hopes it will take the narrower view of its powers Indeed, if it does not, as the hon. Member who spoke last and those who have spoken from this side pointed out, it is possible that Parliament will be placed in a difficult position. It is right for Parliament, and it is the duty of the Government, to envisage what may happen. I venture to suggest that it is really not statesmanlike, once the gravity of doubt has been raised, and it is not reasonable to leave such a question hanging in suspense in the realm of pious hope. After all, if you look at the thing impartially and dispassionately, as we are all trying to do—and I do not discuss whether the Government were well-advised to bring this Bill forward at the present moment and not have a longer period of delay which might have led to the chance for an agreement, I am prepared, for my part, to say that I think the general sense of all parties is that, whether you think Ulster was wrong to refuse to appoint a Commissioner, or, whether, as I think, that in doing so she was exercising her plain rights, whatever view you take about that, I myself should not be disposed to challenge the view that the Treaty and this Clause 12 did create, from the point of view of Southern Ireland, what I think might properly be termed a ground of equitable expectation that, if and when the necessity arose, the Boundary Commission would somehow be established. I held that view a year ago, when I had to represent the then Government in extremely difficult negotiations at Geneva, and I have never varied from that view from that time. It was that reason that induced my right hon. Friend and those who sit on these benches not to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
But while that is true on the one hand, I have no doubt at all that, on the other hand, the general sense of all those who have tried to bring an unprejudiced judgment to bear on this question is that for the Commission to give extreme interpretation of their powers under this Clause 12 would be to act in a sense directly incongruous with the whole tenour and drift of British public opinion towards the Ulster problem in the last 10 years. I do not think there can be any doubt of that. My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) made a speech on the Second Reading, and the Colonial Secretary, in his otherwise admirable speech last night, was less than fair in his criticism of it. My Noble Friend was I think really, in the main, right. What in effect did his argument amount to? It amounted, if I understand it correctly, to this: that in such an event—the unlikely event some might say—of the Boundary Commission giving to its powers the widest possible interpretation, there would be a great revulsion of British fueling. The reason that there would be a revulsion is one that will appeal to every Member of the House. It is that the British nation would resent being placed in the position where the justice that it is anxious to do by this Bill and thinks by this Bill it is doing would come to involve injustice to the Northern Parliament which it never contemplated when it accepted the Boundary Commission and which, if it had contemplated, would have prevented it accepting the Commission in 1921.
These, obviously, are very grave dangers. It is really true, as the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University, who spoke earlier, said, that between this House and these dangers stands what? Stands the Commission, and ultimately perhaps a single chairman in whom we all have, I have no doubt, unstinted and unlimited confidence, but still one man. I am bound to say I share my right hon. Friend's view that, in view of the difficulties that have come over this question in the last 18 months or two years, it is really hardly fair to put the burden of decision on the shoulders of a single man, nor do I think we can do it without implying unwillingness on the part of this House to face what I conceive to be its just responsibilities. Therefore, I think ray hon. and learned Friend was justified in moving this Amendment.
One other consideration I would like to put forward to hon. Members opposite. After all, what we are doing by this Bill is to make provision for compulsory arbitration, a method of dealing with affairs in other fields that has never won very warm support from hon. Members on the opposite benches. If I ventured to put myself in their minds, I would say the reason why it has never been supported by them is that they have never felt satisfied that in any so called compulsory arbitration those for whom they would be speaking would be satisfied (a) with the Court which was to judge, and (b) as to the principles on which adjudication is to proceed. Here you are in exactly the same position with Ulster. You are forcing Ulster into compulsory arbitration. There may not be much dispute about the Court, but the definite principles of adjudication on which the award is to be given and, we hope, accepted, should be laid down. Unless you do so I think you are moving into a path of great difficulty. The truth, of course, is that this Clause is being used to cover two totally different things, and when this happens and when one of the parties concerned or the other is allowed to go on thinking that their view is the right view, as they cannot both be right, one set of persons is doomed to suffer a very serious disappointment. I think it is the experience of most hon. Members, whether in domestic or public life, that it is often much easier to acquiesce in a doubtful situation than to undertake the rather difficult job of dis- illusioning a person who is falling into error. Yet I hold it is a dangerous plan to go on acquiescing. You find that the difficulty grows greater with waiting and it is harder in the end to put it right than it would have been earlier.
Therefore, I conclude by saying that I think it is fairer to all concerned that Parliament should say what it means and avoid obscurity. There is only one argument which, when I have been considering this matter in my awn mind, I have regarded as an argument of serious weight, and it is the argument that if this Amendment were accepted and included in the Bill then, if and when, as we hope, the Boundary Commission has exercised its power in a reasonable spirit and in the more restricted fashion, the Free State might say: "It would not have done this except for your instruction; therefore it is not a free verdict," and the award of the Boundary Commission would fail to carry that confidence in the South which it otherwise would. That argument, I admit, has weight and force for anybody who has taken the trouble to reflect upon it, but I am bound, and everybody is bound, to weigh the difficulties and make a choice between the difficulties, and I say unhesitatingly that the possible dangers of no definition vastly outweigh the dangers of definition, rate the latter as highly as you will. I have no doubt in my mind that the balance leans heavily on the side of the Amendment. Further, if we did pass this Amendment we should, in view of the differences which are being raised, merely make explicit in this revision of the Treaty what was implicit in the first Treaty and in the first Act and what was in the minds of those who supported it.
It is in that sense that those of us who sit upon these benches propose to support my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment. If that Amendment fails by chance to secure acceptance by the Committee, we for our part shall have taken such measures as we can to point out what we believe to be the best way towards the reconciliation of the conflicting claims and fears and hopes of the North and South. If it be so rejected, the responsibility will not be ours, but will rest on the shoulders of the right hon. Gentleman and those who refuse, in this matter, to follow our advice. We shall have made our position plain, and I hope those Members of the House who have not decided their votes will see their way to support us in the Lobby.
The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Thomas):
No one could complain of the tone or temper of my right hon. Friend's speech, but it was obvious to anyone that he was in difficulties. His difficulties must not in the least prevent us from examining his own and his friends' position. Had he said he was speaking for himself, I could have understood it. Had he said that those who voted for the reasoned Amendment on the Second Reading proposed to support this Amendment, I could understand the position. But when he now tells me that his party as a whole and those who were signatories to the Treaty propose to vote for an Amendment to-day which they themselves urged the House not to accept two years ago, a now and very singular situation arises. I want to make it clear that whatever may be the fate of this Government on any vote in the House on other matters, we are not going to allow Ireland to be made merely the catspaw of party exigencies. I want to say this also. We are not going to try to score mere debating points, and reverse our position on the other side of the House, because you are dealing with something that is not only a real difficulty, which not only affects human life and may cause war, but which may even shake the foundations of the Empire.
For all those reasons we, at least, are going to try to be consistent, to be honourable to the Treaty and to show not only to Southern Ireland, not only to the Dominions, but to the world, that, whatever party may be in power and whatever may be the political fortunes of parties, there is a standard of honour that must be observed. I am somewhat amazed at the statement which has just been made, and I am going to ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) what is to be his position in the next hour on this vote. I understand he acquiesces in the statement that he is voting for the Amendment. Let me see what he said with regard to this same Amendment in February, 1922. This is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester then said:
In December last this boundary question was debated in this House and the
House approved the agreement by a large majority. What has happened since that has brought this question up again so fiercely? No change has taken place in the words of the agreement. They are exactly the same as when the agreement was approved by the House in December. What has taken place is that various people have been trying to construe the agreement and it is not surprising that they have not agreed in their construction. Mr. Michael Collins has put one construction upon it in answer to a deputation and his words were quoted yesterday. I have given what I believe the words mean and what in my belief will Happen under this Clause in the Treaty Of course, it is not my interpretation nor. Mr. Collins' interpretation which will finally bind us. By the terms of the Treaty the Commissioners are the sole judges. They will come to the conclusion and they will decide."—[OFFICIAL PEPORT, I7th February, 1922; col. 1394, Vol. 150]
That was the opinion of my right hon. Friend in 1922. I ask the House to observe that the terms of reference he was defending then are the terms of reference to-day—not a comma, not a word has been changed. I ask him to reflect on the impression this action will create. The individual vote will make no difference. I am quite sure that this House is going to be honourable to this Treaty, and so one vote may make no difference, but it will make a difference in the conception in the Irish mind of what British statesmanship means. It will confirm in the minds of men what is, I hope, an erroneous conclusion. I beg of my right hon. Friend to think before he allows him self to make the profound mistake which I believe he is making. I go further. He was a signatory to the Treaty, and he knows that this same Bill that we are now debating must, by his own agreement, to which he is a signatory, be passed by the Dail. He knows that because it is his own agreement.
Of course it will. But let the House observe what it means. The agreement which the right hon. Gentleman signed was an agreement between two parties, and the condition which he made was that it could not be altered except with the consent of both parties. That was his condition, not mine, and now he is one of the party who want to alter it. When the supplementary agreement comes to the Dail, suppose they reverse the position. Suppose they say, "Our definition is I hat it should he an instruction to the Commission to take away the whole of Fermanagh and Londonderry," What would this House say? What would be the outcry from those benches? What would the signatories to the Treaty say? Everyone of them would say, and I would say as well, "No, that is a violation of the Treaty and cannot be defended." That is what we would all say. Very well, if it is wrong for them to do it, as parties to the Treaty, I put it to the House it is wrong for us.
Let me take another point. No one knows better than my right hon. Friend the controversy and the difficulty over the oath. No one knows better than he how careful and determined he was to make it impossible for existing members of the Southern Ireland Parliament to come into Parliament because of the oath. That you insisted upon, and rightly too. Do not make any mistake. I absolutely associate myself with it. But I want my right hon. Friend to understand the consequences of his action. If you repudiate this Treaty, you immediately give a lever to the others to say, "We are no longer bound and the oath is not applicable to us." It is a dangerous situation; you are playing with fire. For that reason I would commend these considerations to the House. I do not know whether this applies to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain), and whether he is going to take the same course, because his words on the same Amendment were clear. He said:
The interpretation of these words, the giving effect to these words, rests with the Commission and the only share that we have in the Commission is that we are called upon to appoint a chairman."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1922; col. 1466, Vol. 150.]
The present Lord Chief Justice went beyond anything that either of the others said. He, in dealing with the point,
actually said it would be an impertinence. He said:
It will be for the Commission, and the Commission alone, to interpret the words of that Article, and I feel that I should be guilty of a kind of impertinence if I were to attempt to express a Law Officer's opinion upon the true interpretation of those Words."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1922; col. 1326, Vol. 150.]
That was Sir Gordon Hewart, the present Lord Chief Justice. When this Bill becomes an Act, which I feel sure it will, the only difference—let the Committee please observe it—will be that the Government of the day will appoint a Commissioner to take the place of the Commissioner that Ulster was asked to appoint. I urge the Committee to keep that clearly in mind. That is the only difference. I want to repeat that if that duty falls upon me—and nothing that can happen will prevent it falling upon me, so far as I can see, and I think it has a bearing upon the vote—I repeat what I said last night, that I will not appoint a representative merely to represent the British Government; I will not appoint a representative to represent Southern Ireland, because they already have their representative; but I will endeavour to appoint someone who, not only will be acceptable to Northern Ireland, but who shall be in a special degree the representative of Northern Ireland. Whatever your views of our action may be, I put it to you that if you were in this place you could not be fairer than that. That I intend to do, and, therefore, with that promise, with that fact clearly in your minds, how can you pretend, and least of all those who two years ago voted against this Amendment, that there is any excuse or justification for supporting it now.?
Then I put it to the hon. Member, how can ho justify voting for it to-day, when Ulster's representative will be equal, as far as their representative is concerned, to those that he voted for two years ago?
The reason is this, that the right hon. Gentleman and his party are making an alteration in the Treaty, and I say that if they do that we are thoroughly justified in saying that that alteration which is made is one which shall do as little harm as possible.
We need not quibble over that. My answer is that there is not a word in the Treaty, so far as the terms of reference to the Commission, their powers, and functions are concerned, there is not a word or a comma alteration—not one. The change is that Ulster, having refused to accept the verdict of the Imperial Parliament—it may he a wrong verdict, and you may disagree with it, but at all events, if Ulster refuses to accept the verdict of the Imperial Parliament—
As a matter of fact, my right hon. Friend knows that, in the words of the Judicial Committee, it is a casus improvisus in other words, boiled clown to our language, and not the lawyer's language, it means that it was an omission not looked at. I am not going to appeal—I have no right to appeal—to those who fought so strenuously two years ago for this Amendment. They have been consistent, and no one can complain of their attitude. Day after day, week after week, and month after month they have said the same thing, and they are quite consistent. But I am entitled to ask those who took the opposite view to hesitate before they support the Amendment. In any case, the Government could not possibly accept the Amendment. It would be stultifying their whole position. It would be an indication to Southern Ireland that we did not mean what we said. For all those reasons, I regret that we cannot accept it, but I hope, although there may be differences, that we shall still not talk of war, and that, in spite of all that has been said, a Commissioner will be appointed who will at least ensure to all the Ulster people and Ulster's friends that the Government take no partial view in this case, and that they have done their best for Ulster's interests to be protected, and perhaps, to the surprise of everybody, these three people will arrive at a decision over a question about which all other Irishmen have been quarrelling for so long.
I do not propose to make a long speech, but the right hon. Gentleman has challenged me to say why it is that I, a signatory to the Treaty, refused strenuously to accept a somewhat similar Amendment two years ago, and now find it consistent to vote for the Amendment to-day. I propose in a few words to deal with that position. The general position was dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) yesterday, in a speech with which I associate myself entirely. With every word of that speech I agree, and it expressed exactly the point of view about. which both he and I are in agreement, but the right hon. Gentleman has challenged me to-day, and notwithstanding that, I propose to say what I am doing. This Treaty that we are now asked to support is an additional Treaty it is all very well to say that it is making good a lapse or an omission. It is, in fact, turning what was a voluntary submission to arbitration into a compulsory submission, and it is doing so at a time when the circumstances are quite different from those of two years ago. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to quote from a speech that I made in February of that year on this Amendment, and he quoted; a small portion of it which happens to be in this White Paper. I do not complain that there was any wilful selection in that White Paper, but I am going to quote, if I may, another portion of that same speech. I was asked what the powers of the Boundary Commission really were to be, and I said:
This Commission is a Boundary Commission to settle boundaries, not to settle territories. If it had been intended that this Commission should have wide powers to settle territories, surely some words additional to those in the agreement would have been found to express that intention. Therefore, I do not think it is intended to do other than to settle boundaries.
I went on for several moments, and I added:
My idea, therefore, is that there should be a give-and-take along the boundaries, and that those who wish to go North, although they are just over the present boundary, should be entitled to say that they want to go North. Subject to the economic and geographical conditions. I cannot conceive the Commissioners doing other than putting them in the North. Equally with the South."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 17th February, 1922; cols. 1392–3–4, Vol. 150.]
That was my belief, shared, I believe, by everyone of the British signatories. Almost every signatory has so stated in public. Believing that, knowing that at the moment when we were discussing it in the House of Commons Sir James Craig and Mr. Michael Collins were in conference at the Colonial Office, that they had had a meeting and a second meeting, and were going to have a third meeting—at their first meeting they had agreed that this Boundary Commission should not operate and that those two gentlemen themselves should settle the boundaries—these being the circumstances, believing myself that it was plain, as I was advised, that the Commission would only have the power to settle boundaries, I said the. Amendment was unnecessary, and I voted against it.
How could I anticipate what the Commissioners' decision would be? In the extract that I have read, I made it plain what my view of the intention of the Boundary Commission was. I may have been right, or I may have been wrong, but I made it plain, and that accounted for my not accepting the Amendment then moved. But what has happened in the last two years? if everybody accepted that view of the powers of the Boundary Commission, my hon. Friends would not be moving this Amendment. It is because in these two years doubts have arisen, and because there is a political controversy on the subject, that, if you are altering the Treaty, von ought, I think, to put in a declaration of the powers that you intend to give to the Commission. There is nothing inconsistent in my attitude, but, on the contrary, the very same reasons that made me make that speech in the House of Commons two years ago now make me support this Amendment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer this point? Is it not true that in the negotiations about which he is now talking, which ultimately and unfortunately failed, between Collins and Craig, when the right hon. Gentleman spoke in the House and voted on this particular Amendment that is now before us—but it was then two years ago— Michael Collins had given a different interpretation to him, and the right hon. Gentleman said: "Although Michael Collins says one thing, I say the other; it is because both of us disagree that I am going to vote for the Commission to do it"?
I would like to reply to that. The position was extremely ticklish at that time. It was most delicate. There were negotiations still pending, and, as the right hon. Gentleman and anybody who has con- ducted serious negotiations well know, it is not always possible in the middle of a negotiation to say fully and entirely what you would like to say if there were no negotiations pending at all. I had to deal with that, and, as anyone who does negotiations knows very well, sometimes it is discreet to be silent. I had to deal with that, and had no difficulty in dealing with the Amendment, because I believed then, as I believe now, that the powers of Boundary Commission were limited in the, sense that I expressed.
The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) told us yesterday—and in particular he was speaking, I think, for his Ulster friends—that he did not consider they had any substantial cause of anxiety as to what the result of the Boundary Commission's findings might be, and I think that, as far as the majority of this House are concerned, that sentiment is one to which we can all subscribe. By this time nearly every Member of the House has formed the opinion that the almost in- evitable result of the Boundary Commission will be that there will just be these minor rectifications of the boundary, which the majority of the House will also agree would be the most desirable result. That, I think, is our belief, but there is no Member of the Committee who will say that that is an inevitable result. It is a probable one, and it is a possible one, but if any lawyer in this House were asked, as he might well be asked, to express an opinion simply on this and with the Treaty before him, anyone acting in a professional capacity would be constrained to advise that the matter was not entirely free from doubt, and, while it was true that the Commission would act in this direction, quite a good case could be made out for it acting in another direction. The majority of Members of this House would agree, also, that there is something to be said for the Free State's construction of this particular Article. It is capable of the construction that they put upon it, in just the same way that it is capable of the construction which Northern Ireland would put upon it.
The only point I want to submit, with great deference, to the Committee is, that that being the uncertainty of the position, we should seriously consider what the consequences of our action may be if we allow this Commission to be set up without any further limitation. We have discussed here for two days past the question of whether a pledge was given to Ulster, or whether it was not given to Ulster, and I do not think we shall serve any profitable purpose this afternoon by re-opening that question. We have got as far on those lines as we are likely to get in this House, and we can leave that on one side for this reason. Whatever our party allegiance may be, we are agreed about one thing, and that is, that Ulster must not be co-reed. The Prime Minister has told us that the present Government have not the remotest intention of coercing Ulster. But may I make this suggestion with the utmost possible respect? We are bound to consider the possible consequences of our action here to-day—not the inevitable consequences, but the possible consequences of what we here decide. Speaking only as a young lawyer, but as one who has had a legal training, it does appear to me possible that a lawyer approaching this Treaty, and endeavouring to construe what there is here, approaching it, as we all believe and know the distinguished Chairman will approach it, with an absolutely impartial mind, is it not quite conceivable that he may arrive at the conclusion that his decision is not to he influenced in any way by any possible consequence to Northern Ireland? I mean this: We are told that if Southern Ireland gets all it wants under this Commission, that is to say, Fermanagh and Tyrone, the cities of Londonderry, Enniskillen and Newry, and portions of Armagh and Down, it will be almost impossible for Ulster to carry on. Whether it be true or not I do not know, but I am prepared to take it as such, and it seems to me it is more than likely that will be one of the first consequences. This impartial Judge may well say to himself: "Those consequences are no concern of mine. Here is the document that I have to construe, and if it should happen that Northern Ireland cannot carry on after we, the Boundary Commission, have done our work, well, we are sorry, but our duty is simply to construe the document before us" That appears to be quite a possible conclusion.
Let me revert to what I said before. We are agreed that Ulster must not be coerced. But may I suggest that, while we are agreed that Ulster shall not be directly coerced, it is possible that, by our action here to-day, we may indirectly coerce Ulster—not intentionally, because I allow at once that no one intentionally desires that, but unintentionally we may be parties to the indirect coercion of Ulster. May I use quite a homely illustration, although it may be unnecessary to drive home what is by this time a perfectly obvious point. Supposing I were a large landowner, which, being a Liberal, I am not, but if I were an occupant of the benches opposite, and the possessor of vast acres, and I let a farm containing a number of fields to some tenant, and it chances that there is some other gentleman in the neighbourhood with his eye on that farm, and would very much like to be the possessor of it, and I give a promise to the tenant that, whatever this other man offers, I will not disturb him. In other words, I say to him, "You shall not be coerced; you shall stay there as long as you desire to do so." But supposing this other man, by one method and another, fair or otherwise, but, anyway, by methods which I countenance, or which I do not directly disapprove, seizes a field here and a field there, with the result that. my farmer tenant is left in possession only of the farm buildings, and, perhaps, one or two acres in addition, am I to say I not coerced him? Is it to be suggested that I am not responsible for his being compelled to give up possession of that farm? I have not directly turned him out, or put the bailiffs in, but I submit, by allowing that which I have allowed, by permitting this constant encroachment upon this tenant's land, I have indirectly, if not directly, coerced and compelled him to give up that which I promised, in the first instance, the tenant should never have to give up except at his own instance.
That is the only substantial submission want to make. I know it was said by a distinguished and learned member of my own party the day before yesterday that if Northern Ireland cannot carry on under these conditions, she has no right to exist at all that if through the disappearance of Fermanagh and Tyrone and the other places her area is so restricted that she cannot continue as a separate community, then she must throw in her lot with the rest of Ireland, and make the best of a bad bargain. I want to suggest in this connection that that argument, I believe, would have been perfectly tenable, say, three or four years ago, and I do not think I shall he misunderstood when I say in those days I had a feeling that Ulster's demands for separate treatment were somewhat exaggerated. I think that claim might have been made a few years ago, but to-day we are faced with an accomplished fact, and the accomplished fact is that we have told Ulster that she shall remain there quite undisturbed. I do suggest, therefore, it is too late in the day for anyone to come forward and say that if Ulster cannot carry on with her restricted territory, then she has no right to exist at all, because, having given out word that she shall exist so long as she desires, we cannot honourably be parties to any action that indirectly will mean she will no longer be able to maintain her separate existence and the rights with which she has been invested by this House of Commons.
I cannot help feeling surprised at some of the speeches that have been made on the other side, which seem to imply that, in supporting this Amendment, it is we who are endeavouring to alter the Treaty. The contrary is the case. We have made no move to alter the Treaty, but the Government have brought in this Bill, the actual Title of which is "A Bill to
confirm a certain Agreement supplementing Article 12." The supplementing comes from their side, and the excuse which they have given throughout until to-day is that they wanted to make this alteration in order to express the intention of Parliament at the time that the Treaty was passed. What we say is, "Very well, if you are going to make an alteration, do it properly, and express in the words of this Amendment what was undoubtedly the intention of Parliament at that time." I know there has been a good deal of quotation and counter-quotation from the White Paper which the Government were good enough to put in our hands, but I also notice that that White Paper does not contain a passage which, I think, throws a very strong light and gives conclusive evidence as to what was the intention of this House of Commons at the time that the Treaty Bill was passed. I am going to call in evidence, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). I have in my hand Volume 150 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1922. I can remember the occasion very well. Our old friend who has been quoted from the other side, then Sir John Butcher, now Lord Danesfort, spoke, and the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Care narvon Boroughs, was at the Box opposite. Sir John Butcher began by saying:
I speak in the presence of the Prime Minister, w ho will correct me if I am in the least bit wrong.
Then, referring to the Act of 1920, Sir John Butcher made this statement in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman:
The Prime Minister authorised Sir Edward Carson to go over to Ulster and to assure them this was a final Settlement, a guaranteed settlement, and a settlement on which they might rely.
The then Prime Minister did not express a single gesture of dissent. Sir John Butcher went on to say:
In the letter of the Prime Minister of the 20th July, 1921, he assured the Sinn Feiners on the one hand and this country on the other that the existing rights and privileges of the Northern Parliament would not be abrogated without its consent"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th February, 1922; col. 1416, Vol. 150.]
The Prime Minister said "Hear, bear." Very well, that shows conclusively what was in the mind of the then Prime
Minister, six months before the Treaty, and two and a half months after the Treaty, to say that the rights and privileges of the Northern Parliament would not be abrogated without their consent. What are the rights and privileges of the Northern Parliament.? They are the rights and privileges then existing. The existing territory from which the Northern Parliament derived its powers. I think that that no doubt was the spirit and intention of Parliament when it passed this Treaty which the present Government is now seeking so to alter as to express the intention of the Parliament of that day. I, for one, will certainly vote for any Amendment which goes so far as to insist that if the Treaty is altered in one direction it shall be altered in another direction to express what I am convinced was the real intention of Parliament at that time when the Treaty and the Bill relating to it were passed.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE:
My hon. Friend has quoted a very much hackneyed quotation from a speech of mine, though I am very glad that the speech should be so much thought of, and repeated so often. The statement I made was that there would be no abrogation of the rights and privileges of the Ulster Parliament in so far as I, and the Government of which I was the head, were concerned. That is so. In so far as I have any right as a Member of this House to say so I stand by that now. After all, the British Empire is constantly concerned in arbitration with regard to its own territories. This is not the only territorial reference to a Commission in which the British Empire has been engaged. When you go further and refer a disputed territory to arbitration, you are not abrogating the rights and privileges of that particular area. At that time, as I pointed out, we all had in our minds that the Ulster boundary was not a defensible one. It is no use the hon. Member referring to documents. I could perhaps show him documents from those in very near association with his party as to what was a matter of opinion in 1920. I do not want to be forced to quote these documents, but I am prepared to show him them privately, as I did some of his colleagues on the benches opposite yesterday. I do not wish to be challenged in this respect, and I endeavoured to speak with great restraint on the matter yesterday. It was not merely an acknowledged fact, but a fact which impressed itself more on the Ulster leaders than even upon us, that the Ulster boundary was an unsatisfactory one, because the Protestants beyond it were anxious to come in and there were Catholies inside it who were anxious to go out. That is an unsatisfactory boundary. It was possible that this boundary could be rearranged in such a way as to strengthen Ulster and not weaken it. That is why I do not quite agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicester (Mr. W. Allen)—who made a very admirable speech, if one may, as an old solicitor, congratulate a brother in law. I am perfectly certain that any attempt to retain inside Ulster populations, although they are only parishes, which are always hankering to go across the border will have the effect of compelling Ulster to maintain a force quite out of proportion to what is necessary to maintain order in any other part of the Dominion.
What is the case now? You have something like peace; you have a sort of peace. Ulster has got to maintain some sort of special constables and an organisation of that kind in this area because she has to hold down a population that does not want to remain there. On the other hand, it is possible that there are Protestant populations just across the border which the Southern State would experience the same difficulty in keeping inside their territory. It is not from the economical, financial, and administrative point of view a desirable frontier. That was the opinion expressed by the Ulster leaders. In 1920 I held that they were right. I respectfully submit they are wrong to-day. It is not for me to say what their opinions are. I do not think they are free to express it. That is the difficulty. They are not free to express their own individual opinion. There has been so much controversy about this in the North and in the South that it has become a sort of flag on both sides, and neither side can give in. Really I despair of a meeting between Mr. Cosgrave and Sir James Craig. They are both reasonable men. Both have in them the elements of statesmanship. If they had complete authority to settle it they would; but they have not. They cannot. That is my opinion. That is why I think the Government are right. Whatever offer they might make, though I would not deprecate in the least their trying to get the parties to agree, I am not very sanguine about it, because they are not in a position to do so. My hon. Friend the Member for South Leicester said: "Do not let us decide here without having some regard to consequences." Has he considered what the consequences would be if an effort were made to introduce an interpretation into this Treaty? Let us see what it means.
Let us assume we accept the Amendment and there is a new interpretation put in. The Sinn Fein party would not accept it because their interpretation is a different one. I. do not accept their interpretation, but it is not for me to determine. It is for the Commissioners to interpret it. The Sinn Fein Parliament would say: "No, that is not our interpretation." After all, this is not the only Act of Parliament about which there has been litigation, otherwise my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicester and I would have starved long ago. That is what is keeping our honourable profession alive. It is a fact that to every Act of Parliament ever passed there has been two interpretations, and when it comes before the Courts they decide one way or other. But if one of the litigants were to say: "That is my interpretation, and as I happen to be in the House of Commons I will enforce it upon the House of Commons," that would not be fair. There are words which have been interpreted under boundary commissions before where there have been difficulties just as bad: difficulties of religion, difficulties of race, difficulties which have gone all over the centuries. I do not see why it should not be the same here. I would enforce the appeal of my hon. Friend from a different point. Do let tie realise what the consequences will be. If we inserted these words there is an end of the Treaty. The Free State would say, "It is not our interpretation." You might have further negotiations, but under what conditions? Mr. De Valera and the Republicans are going round saying: "You cannot trust the British word," and the friends of England in the North are repeating their statement that you cannot trust the word of the British Parliament. If you get that, what happens?
You must remember what the history of Ireland has been. The Irish have it rooted in their minds that every treaty we have ever entered into, under what my right hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) called "different circumstances," we have altered. When there is trouble we sign a treaty. Two years afterwards, when the circumstances have changed, we put our own interpretation upon it. This was the case with the Treaty of Limerick. The Celt has a very long memory. He is always full of these things. The Irish Celt lives very largely in the past. The Treaty of Limerick is a thing of yesterday, but the Battle of the Boyne is a thing which happens every year on 12th July. There is still hating. These are things in which a few years makes a difference here, but in Ireland, these things are things of yesterday, and these yesterdays are 300 years ago. They have still got these things in their mind as though they were something they lived themselves. The Celt is an imaginative being. Yes, and thank God for it. It is very useful sometimes, but it is troublesome also when you are settling disputes. You try to settle a quarrel in Ireland, and find that it started with Brian Born. That is the trouble. The British Government wanted to get rid of Sarsfield with his gallant men. They could not defeat him, so they made a treaty with him. When they got rid of Sarsfield, and when the country was quiet, they said exactly what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) said, "That the circumstances are different now, and wt can move an Amendment and alter the Treaty according to that interpretation." The same thing happened with the Act of Union, and that is an historical fact. It was carried on the distinct understanding that Catholic emancipation was to be a part of the bargain. Mr. Pitt endeavoured to carry it in different circumstances. In two or three years circumstances were not the same as when the Act. was passed, and so you must have a different interpretation.
The Irish Celt has the idea in his mind that you cannot trust the word of England in dealing with them, and if you alter this Treaty, solemnly signed by Prime Ministers and Ministers of the Crown, confirmed by this House and the House of Lords, put to the electorate, and after the electorate had pronounced for it, then carried by a Conservative Parliament—if, afterwards, you come round and say, "Circumstances have changed, we will alter it in our own sense," then I say, not merely will the word of England not be trusted in Ireland, but in France, America, and the whole world they will say that an Englishman's word has ceased to be his bond.
I understood the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken to say that if we make this Amendment to the Treaty, we shall at the saint time he giving an interpretation other than the interpretation which the Government of the Free State would give to the Treaty. In other words, this means that the Free State would say: "You are giving an interpretation which is not ours, and therefore you must not give an interpretation at all." Surely some consideration should be given to the interpretation which this House placed upon that Treaty when it approved of it. From what I have heard stated in this Debate, I feel thankful that I was not a Member of this House when it approved of the Treaty. Surely we are entitled to have our interpretation, and the Free State is equally entitled to put forward an interpretation. It is urged that under this Amendment the activities of the boundary Commission are going to he restricted. What will be the result if the Commission interprets this Article in another sense? I was very much disappointed with the speech made by the Colonial Secretary, not so much on account of what he said, but because I believe the decision he has come to is one which will not help to bring about peace in Ireland.
I for one am nauseated with the perpetual use of the word honour. If we, all do our duty as we see it without, fear and without favour, our honour will take care of itself. I think it is a, little suspicious when we hear the continual use of this word honour. The greater the injustice, the louder seem to be our appeals to honour. It would be very serious indeed if that was the standard by which we were to judge the Debate of the last few days. Two courses were open to the Government when this ques- tion arose. They could have held to the letter of the Treaty, they could have justified themselves lay precedent and the attitude of the Government of the day. I do not say whether they would have been right or wrong, but they had some justification for such a course in the attitude of Mr. Winston Churchill and those who piloted this Bill through the. House. They did not choose to do so., and there was only one course left, and that was to interpret the Treaty in the light of the expressed views of the signatories on both sides of the Channel.
There were two main parties to the Treaty, but it also vitally affects a third party, and this House should have a special interest in the case of a third party, not a signatory to the Treaty. There is even a more grave reason why we owe special attention to the plea Ulster has made to us in recent weeks and days. Ulster occupies her present very difficult and ambiguous position simply and entirely because she has responded to the appeal made to her by this House and by the British people. Ulster did not want to be a self-governing community, but the people of this country asked her to accept that responsibility, and she did so, and it would be an injustice if, as the result of that response to the will of the people of this country, we were to deprive her of territory which was solemnly guaranteed to her by an Act of Parliament.. We have had an eloquent appeal made to Ulster by the Prime Minister, and I must confess that I think Ulster has answered that appeal, and she answered it when she accepted self-government and gave up three of the nine counties. In this case I think that appeal should be directed to another court. The invitation is now open. Is this Committee going to accept a decision which might take away from Ulster large slices of her territory?
It has been urged that this is an Imperial issue. I agree that it is essentially an Imperial issue, but I am not sure what the feelings of the Dominions will be when they see us setting up a Commission empowered to take away large slices of territory from a self-governing community against its will. In that case I am not sure that the feeling of the Dominions will be one of applause and acclamation. Many of us went to Ireland a few weeks ago, and whatever party we may belong to, we came back deeply impressed with what we saw. I could never have conceived that the feeling in Ireland would have been so deep and tense as I found it all along the Border. This places upon us a very great responsibility. In my view, the narrower we make the scope of this Commission the greater chance there is of arriving at a settlement, and the wider the scope the more you are raising extravagant hopes on one side and grave fears on the other. If the settlement is to have any chance of success there must be a more hopeful atmosphere. If the South hopes for what the North is determined it shall not get then there is no hope of a settlement. I hope we shall have the courage in this Committee to tell the Commission the limits within which it must work.
I think all members of the Committee are exceedingly glad that certain interpretations brought both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) into the fray this afternoon, because it seems to me that those two speeches absolutely affirm the impression which I believe the great majority of the Members of this House derive from the Debates of the last two days. It seems to me that from those Debates two points very clearly emerge. The first is that the English signatories of the Treaty did intend that there should be a rectification of the frontier. On the other hand, it came out equally clearly that they did not intend that there should be any substantial detachment of territory on one side of the boundary or the other. I do not believe that there is any Member who will get up in any quarter of the House and affirm that in the mind of any single signatory to the Treaty, any English signatory, or in the minds of those who voted for the Agreement in this House, there was any other intention whatsoever.
This Amendment makes a very pointed and specific reference to the Act of 1920. I was one of a very few Members of this House, the present Members at any rate, who took any regular part in the discussion of the Bill of 1920. I did not like the Bill, and I do not think that anyone was deeply enamoured of it, but I voted for the Bill. I voted for it for two reasons, and for two only—in the first place, because, at any rate, it did wipe off the Statute Book the very much worse Act of 1914. As I said at the time, that was my main reason for voting for it, but I had another reason. For the first time, the Act of 1920 did give specific and statutory recognition to the patent and fundamental fact that within the limits of the Western Island there are two peoples, unfortunately deeply divided—deeply divided by race, deeply divided by tradition, and, above all, divided by creed. Hon. Gentlemen may deplore that fact, and I suppose that all of us in this House deplore it, but, although we deplore it, it would be the part of the ostrich—which is not usually reputed to be the most statesmanlike of birds—to ignore it.
Only yesterday morning there reached me from Ireland—and I have a great many friends in all parts of Ireland—a cutting from a recent number, that of the 27th September, of the "Irish Statesman." The "Irish Statesman" wrote as follows:
We are surprised at Sir John Marriott's statement that the Treaty was made between the British Government and the representatives of Southern Ireland.
Then between whom was it made?
The fact that the Irish delegates represented the whole of Ireland is abundantly clear from the text of the Treaty itself,
I find no such evidence on the face of the Treaty. The evidence seems to me to he all the other way. I do not find appended to that Treaty the name of a single Irish representative written in a tongue which I, at any rate, can understand. Did those gentlemen who wrote their names in what is to me, I regret to say, a foreign tongue, sign on behalf of the six northeastern counties of Ulster? I think that if they had they would have signed in a different tongue, a tongue which is understood on this side of the English Channel.
I refer to that matter only to illustrate the main point of my contention. My contention is that the root of the whole difficulty is to be found in non-agreement on fundamental facts. Take the speech which was made the day before yesterday—a very able speech from his own point of view—by the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney). Ho actually went so far as to say, and I beg the attention of the Committee to this point, that the Act of 1920 was scrapped in the same sense—this was from a lawyer who told us he had practised in the Courts for five and twenty years—was scrapped in the same sense as the 1014 Act. The Act of 1914 was specifically repealed by an Act passed by the imperial Parliament; the Act of 1920, so far from being scrapped, is on the Statute Book to-day. And yet this honourable and learned lawyer says that they were both scrapped in the same way. It was said yesterday, I think by the hon and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) I beg his pardon if I misquote him — I think he said that we on this side of the House imagined that there attached to the Act of 1920 a very special sanctity. I think he said something to that effect. No one, however, as far as I know, on this side of the House, has suggested that there attaches to that Act a special legal sanctity—a legal sanctity attaches to all Acts passed in this House until they are repealed. But we do suggest that there attaches to the Act of 1920 a very special moral sanctity, because it constituted a bargain between this House and the people of North-Eastern Ireland.
No, Sir; there was no such bargain included in the Act of 1914. At any rate, my point is this, that the Act of 1914—I am not sure whether with the consent of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I think it is possible—was actually repealed.
I did not make that assertion, but it was repealed by the great majority of the Members of this House. The Act of 1920 remains on the Statute Book. There was one other point which was very strongly made on the opposite side. It was made, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, whom I am sorry not to see in the Committee at the moment. When speaking yesterday he threw out a challenge, and he threw out a hint of another challenge this afternoon. He suggested—in fact he specifically stated—that the original suggestion for a Commission came from my hon. Friends the Members from Ulster. I am very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not here at the moment, for I should have liked him to tell us when that suggestion came from the representatives of Ulster. Was it before the Act of 1920, or was it after the Act of 1920? My recollection is very clear—and it seems to me that it makes a fundamental difference to the right hon. Gentleman's argument—that it was before the Bill of 1920 was introduced at all. I am speaking in the presence of several of my hon. Friends from Ulster, and that is my quite definite and, I think, not unimportant recollection.
Then I wanted to say one word with regard to the very important speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson). I do not think I misinterpret the sense of this Committee when I say that that speech was certainly one of the most important that has been made in the whole course of these Debates. I remember very well the speech in which the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill of 1920. It was a very powerful and impressive speech, but not, I think, so impressive as the speech he made two days ago in the House. Of course, his recollections of the events of those days are, naturally, very much more intimate and very much more authoritative than mine, but they are not more clear or more definite, and I am quite positive of this, that I, at any rate, would not have voted for the Bill, as it then was, of 1920, unless I had understood, as I believe the vast majority in the House understood, that that Bill left Ulster in the indefeasible possession of six counties. Ts that really denied in any quarter of this Committee?
There have been, in fact, in these last years, two treaties, as was admirably said in a very closely reasoned speech yesterday by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Captain Berkeley). That speech was one which all of us on this side of the House felt—although the hon. and gallant Member's conclusion was not identical with ours—was a real contribution to the arguments of the Debate, closely and fairly reasoned. What did the hon. and gallant Member say? He said with perfect truth—if I may be allowed to substantiate his truth—that there had been in reality two treaties, the one embodied in the Act of 1920 and the other embodied in the Act of 1922. The second Treaty did not and could not abrogate the first. It has been said over and over again from those benches that no one is seeking to abrogate it, but is that. so? Is no one seeking by these proposals to abrogate the Act of 1920? I believe the hon. and learned Member for South Shields reflected with perfect accuracy the mind of Southern Ireland, as far as I know it, and I know it fairly well. I believe he reflected perfectly accurately the mind of Southern Ireland, and this was the whole point and pith of his speech. It was an argument against the right of Ulster to the retention of the six counties. The whole speech of the hon. and learned Member for South Shields constituted, in my opinion, and I think in the judgment of many others who heard it a very powerful reinforcement of the argument which comes to us from Ulster, namely, that the South of Ireland contemplates, and has always contemplated, not a rectification in minor and subsidiary details, but a redefinition on a very substantial scale.
What is the position? The position of Ulster is that she cannot— and I think she is right—take the risk of an arbitration which might conceivably take the view propounded by the hon. arid learned Member for South Shields. That was the argument of the admirable speech of another hon. and learned Gentleman, en the other side about half an hour ago cast no reflection whatever upon the skill or impartiality of the Commission which, if this Bill goes through, will be set up, but I do say that in my judgment Ulster is wise in adhering inflexibly to the position which she has maintained with perfect consistency ever since 1920. I think, and I have always thought, that there was a genuine misunderstanding on both sides in 1921. With regard to Article 12 of the Agreement., the English negotiators, or most of them at any rate, meant one thing, and the Irish negotiators meant something totally different. I was very much more opposed to the Agreement of 1921 than I was to the Act of 1920, and for this reason. I was convinced then, and I am much more convinced now, that, if I may use a phrase of Prince Bis- marck's, that Agreement was merely, papering over the cracks. Cracks do not become narrower by the superimposition of paper. They tend to widen, and we are to-day confronted by the fissure.
In conclusion, may I say that I am very firmly convinced that there is one way, and one way only, of really settling this problem of reaching a permanent and satisfactory settlement? It is a way which has been repeatedly suggested by Sir James Craig, and it is a way which I believe, if he were free to do so, would be accepted by President Gosgrave. It is the way of personal communication and mutual accommodation. God knows, there is not a man in this House, there is not a man in England or Ireland, who is more ardently desirous than myself of seeing peace and tranquillity in a land for which I have the greatest possible admiration and love. It is because I believe that this Bill, if unamended, is not calculated to achieve that end, that I, for one, shall vote for the Amendment.
I had not intended to take any further part in this Debate, but there are some things which the ordinarily tranquil temperament of an Irishman cannot stand, and, though my temperament has been trained to a certain amount of toleration of all kinds of nonsense, yet it revolts against the deluge of nonsense to which I have been listening for the last hour or two. Take one of the statements of my hon. and gallant Friend below me, that there were two Treaties and that if you validate and observe the one you dishonour the other. I leave for the moment the point whether there is not an essential distinction between a Treaty and an Act of Parliament. The merest tyro, even a professor of a University, can understand that these two things are not quite the same.
I was not dealing with the hon. and gallant Gentleman at that moment. I was dealing with the hon. Gentleman opposite. I will come back to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Having made one contribution to an Irish debate on a subject on which he knows nothing, ho is now threatening me with another contribution. The statement is that there were two Treaties. One was violated in the ease of Ulster, and therefore you had a perfect right to violate the other in the case of Southern Ireland, a most extraordinary piece of logic. But why two Treaties? If a Treaty and an Act of Parliament are the same, why speak of only two Treaties? There was the, Act of 1914, passed three times in this House and finally getting the signature of the King, giving Ireland Home Rule at a time when, if you were wise, you would have implemented the transaction by giving Home Rule, postponed, hesitated about, delayed for six weeks. I solemnly tell this Committee that we of the Constitutional Party were never able to overcome and to get up with those six weeks of vacillation and delay in putting the Home Rule Act of 1914 on to the Statute Book. But if a Treaty and an Act of Parliament are the same, was not the Act of 1914, which after a struggle of 40 or 50 years had at last passed, through every kind of obstacle, through the threats of civil war, through the action of the House of Lords, as sacred a Treaty as ever was made between one nation and another? Therefore, if anyone tells me that because you passed an Act in 1920 you are to regard it as a Treaty and therefore you are bound in honour not to do anything against it, my reply is that one Act of Parliament is the same as another and what one Parliament has enacted another Parliament. can repeal. I do not think this House ever committed an act of more monstrous folly and injustice in the long course of its innumerable errors in the government of Ireland, I do not think anything was ever more stupid or mischievous or calamitous in its consequences than the repeal of the Act of 1914, which before it was put on the Statute Book was anticipated in a speech from that side of the House by Mr. Redmond which united the people of Ireland with the people of England in the great war for civilisation, which unification was put asunder by the same follies and the same speeches and the same ideals we have been listening to to-day.
What is the difference between an Act of Parliament and a treaty? A treaty is something passed by two nations, by their Ministers, by their Parliaments. It is a document which can only be violated by the consent of both sides. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said there was a
frightful mistake, that they did not know really what they were doing, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans)—it is very hard to keep your word and to keep your party sometimes—made this defence of his action in rejecting all the Amendments. He made this naive profession, that he did not quite know what he was doing. They all had confused ideas. Some people thought one thing and some another, and they were all in such a hurry that they had not time to do anything. Was there ever a statement more absolutely contradicted by the facts? You would think this idea of dealing with Tyrone and Fermanagh was something that had never been heard of until the Colonial Secretary brought in this Bill. We had it all along. We had it at Buckingham Palace. Everyone knew at the beginning of that attempt, which failed, I am sorry to say they were present to the mind of every man in this Parliament who was rational and well-read in the history of Ireland, a small body, I am sorry to say, in this House, but everyone knew that the Nationalists laid claim to the greater part of Fermanagh and Tyrone. It was on that question that the Buckingham Palace Conference broke down. Let me tell you something—I do not think I am violating confidences, because I name no names—about the Buckingham Palace Conference for a deal between the Nationalists and the Orangemen. I wish to goodness they would leave us alone. We could make a deal between ourselves if we had not these gentlemen honouring our island with occasional visits, like Paget, M.P., who spent three weeks in India and came back to instruct all and sundry, and repeating to us statements about. Ireland which I am sure are as ridiculous and disgusting to my hon. Friends on the opposite side as they are to me. When it was proposed as a solution of the question of Fermanagh and Tyrone that the people of the counties should be allowed themselves to declare whether they wanted to go to the Northern Government or to the South and the privilege was not allowed, an important member of that Conference, a sensible Englishman, not a Liberal, not a democrat, but a good, sound, typical
English Tory, afterwards made the observation:
I cannot understand why the people of these counties should not ho allowed themselves to choose their Government.
Am I asked at this date to defend the principle that men must be free to choose their own Government? Have any hon. Members opposite ever read the American Declaration of Independence in 1776? Among the signatories, among them the sturdy Majors of Washington's Army, Irish Protestants whom English folly and misgovernment had driven out—in that Declaration of Independence you have the whole principle laid down. I cannot give the exact words, though, Heaven knows, I have heard them repeated so often that I ought to know them, but the effect is that the only sanction of a Government is the assent of the governed. Is there a human being who professes to understand even the fundamental principles of free government that does not accept that proposition? All that is asked by this terrible Clause is that the Commission are to find out where the assent of the governed in Tyrone and Fermanagh goes. If it goes to the North it will belong to the North. If it goes to the. South it will belong to the South. How can any proposition be fairer than that? The hon. Gentleman opposite finds that an Act which favours his friends below the Gangway is sacrosanct, but an Act in favour of the people whom I represent is not sacrosanct. Why should we be bored by these miserable word twistings of the plain meaning of language? The hon. Gentleman says and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester said the same thing, they did net know what they were doing. I have a statement here made by the head of the Government which made the Treaty. He was the chief of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester at the time—
There is no certainly since the Act of 1920, that the majority of the people of the two counties prefer being with their Southern neighbours to being in the Northern Parliament. Fake it either by constituencies or by Poor Law Unions or, if you like, by counting heads and you will find that the majority in these two counties prefer to he with their Southern neighbours.
That speech was made in this House three years ago, and yet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester
and the hon. Gentleman opposite, and, I believe, the hon. and gallant Gentleman below me (Captain Berkeley), with childlike surprise, declare that really people did not know what was going to happen about Tyrone and Fermanagh when these were the words a the Prime Minister of the period who was making the Treaty. A more ridiculous—well, I leave it at that. If I were tempted, might add another epithet.
What will happen if you break this Treaty? This is not breaking the Treaty, says the hon. Gentleman opposite. I will give him a ease which seems to me to have, perhaps unconsciously, suggested to his mind the ridiculous, the dishonest proposition for which he has made himself responsible. I do not know whether it was Warren Hastings or Clive—I think it was Clive—who made some kind of a treaty with an Indian prince. Clive was a very great man, one of the greatest men that this country has ever produced. We have one of his relatives, I am glad to say, in the House in the person of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in the last Tory administration. He knows—for I have often spoken to him about it—my intense admiration for his distinguished forbear. But he had stains on his character. He is not like the spotless gentlemen from the North, or the spotless Liberals who preach the gospel of Toryism from Liberal Benches. I could not help reflecting when I heard the speech of the hon. Member for South Leicester (Mr. Wilberforce Allen), that this is the kind of Liberalism that the people of Leicester preferred to the Radicalism of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Clive made a treaty, and, having got it home, he did not find it. quite as favourable to his designs as he liked, and he just put in a little Amendment, a little interlineations. Now you want to put a little Amendment, a little interlineation, in the contract between Ireland and England. Why, if I had a transaction with my hon. Friend opposite, and I signed a contract with him for the payment of money by him to me, or by me to him, or if I had made a contract with him for the taking of one of these beautiful, delightful houses in Oxford where the pence of the poor go to the keeping of the poor, hard-worked dons of Oxford, if I had signed the lease in regard to that and if I took the lease home and I suddenly said to myself like the hon. Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans), the hon. and gallant Member for Central Nottingham (Captain Berkeley), and the hon. Member for South Leicester: "Oh, I did not quite know what I was doing! Really, on reading this lease again I find that it gives something more to my hon. Friend than I wanted to give, or less to myself than I desired to have!"—and in order to correct it without going through the preliminary of consulting him I just put in a few lines, a mere interlineation, scarcely to be called an Amendment, almost something like the variorum additions to the old classics where yon put something on the margin [HON.MEMBERS: "What about the lease to Ulster?" and "What about the contract with Ulster in 1922?"]—supposing I just put that little interlineation, using the same ink, the same pen and the same writing, and it came before a Court and I made a claim upon it, instead of getting his house, or my house, I should be put into the dock for fraud. Is not that so? There is another Member of a learned profession behind me, and be confirms that any man who puts a change, without consultation with the other party, in a contract between them, is guilty of fraud. [HON MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I begin to have unlimited faith in my own persuasiveness when I hear the, cheers of my hon. Friends opposite.
Let us come back to the point which hon. Gentlemen will insist upon ignoring, that is, that. an Act of Parliament was made and a solemn treaty between two nations was enacted. To try to compare a treaty between two nations, two Governments and two Legislatures, with an Act of Parliament, is really one of those silly things which could only be done by men who are absolutely without any argument to justify them. I have been accused of using sonic language, in the speech I made the other night, of a provocative character. I apologise if I did. My whole desire in this matter is to make peace. I must defend this treaty because of its justice. But I do say to my friends this: This Bill for the appointment of a Commissioner representing Ulster is not the end of the chapter; it is only the beginning. We know that, whatever this Parliament or the Commission may decide, there are possibilities of serious trouble. Here may I add—with regard to those wandering minstrels who recently came to Ireland, and who, coming back flushed with the good wine and the good hospitality of Ulster, are endeavouring to teach us poor ignorant Irishmen what are the interests and views of our own country—that some of the language dealing with the inflammable material on both sides of the border was the most criminal, most inflammatory and wicked language, used by Englishmen who visited the North of Ireland. And to-day I read in the paper that a gentleman from Belfast has been over in my City of Liverpool to enrol men to take part in a civil war in the North of Ireland. What conduct could be more wicked! These gentlemen are going to propose a Vote of Censure on the Attorney General, because some obscure scribe, dealing with an imaginary case, used what I regard as mischievous but entirely innocuous language! You can discuss that, but you cannot go against the man you are attacking and at the same time encourage the drilling of soldiers in this country for civil war or the inflaming of the passions of an already inflamed people. It is all nonsense. It was a disgrace to any Member of Parliament, and especially to the gentlemen who profess the opinions they do.
I pray my Friends not to listen to such counsels of despair, and to use all their influence and all their good will and the good will of the people in other parts of Ireland to keep the peace between the North and the South. It can be done with good will and good faith. It can be done by condemning on both sides in Ireland any appeals to force. If there be any men in the South of Ireland who contemplate armed incursion into Ulster on this border question, I say they are the greatest enemies of Ireland—greater enemies than my hon. Friends opposite. On the other side, I say to my hon. Friends that I do hope that when the Commission decides, whether it be as they wish or as the others wish, or—as much more likely—much less than they wish and much less than the others wish, that all their influence will be given, not to incite, but to appease, passion. We -understand each other, in spite of our different localities, better than the self-sufficient Tories who, after a week or a fortnight in Ireland, lay down the gospel to me, who spent 21 years in the country, as to what I should do. We understand each other better. I am glad to say—I think they will confirm it—I am on terms of personal friendship with my hon. Friends. I want peace. I do not attach—in this I was in agreement with my hon. Friend the Minister for the Colonies—undue importance to this Commission. I think it ought to be appointed. I do not want those untravelled and ignorant and vindictive spirits that are in some parts of Ireland to have any confirmation of this ridiculous caricature of an Englishman as a perfidious creature whose word and bond you cannot trust. Believing, as I do, in the beneficent influence, with all its faults, of this great world-wide Empire, and determined as I am to stand by that Empire as much as any man on the other side of the House, and to vindicate its rights and increase its security and splendour, I do pray this House not to make the task of men like me more difficult by destroying the confidence that I have in the British Commonwealth of Nations. We understand each other better. I would give my hon. Friends Tyrone and Fermanagh to-morrow on two conditions: first, that they treated the Catholics there with equal justice, and, secondly, that in return for that, they will make Ireland united instead of partitioned. They are separated and have been separated by long feuds in the past. It is not we that keep up those feuds.
You celebrate every year, somewhat joyously and in rather provocative fashion, the memory of a miserable — I will not use the word "miserable"—of a very dry, very uninteresting, and very asthmatic Dutchman. Why are not you as wise as we are? James It was supposed to he our leader on the other side. I dare say my hon. Friends will understand me and that I am not guilty of any Rabelaisian suggestion that they will not understand. Do you know what they call James II. in the South of Ireland—"Shemus the Cocagh." It means that we discovered, and known it for generations in Ireland, immediately after the battle of the Boyne, that our leader was a bigot and a despot and we do not celebrate any of the victories or defeats of James II. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was right when he stated that in Ireland the minds of the people are very much concerned with events of long ago. That is an obsession of our race. In America, I find Irish-Americans talking about Ireland and England in the terms of 1847, when people were being driven from the shores of Ireland, through the follies of the British Government. Hon. Members opposite are keeping up these old religious feuds. I beg them, instead, to accept the hand which the rest or Ireland has held out to them over and over again. If there be evil elements there, come to the rescue and the assistance of the good. Nothing can divide us. No boundary line, however shaped, can divide us lion. Members opposite would be ashamed to call themselves anything but Irishmen, and we should be ashamed to call ourselves anything but Irishmen. Let us try to get a united Ireland. It will require lime, patience and goodwill, but if once we have a. united Ireland, I do not care what may be the element of loyal autonomy within the shores of Ireland, for Boundary Commissions and all those things will disappear along with the foolish and angry hatred that has kept us so long apart.
I do nut know what may be the feeling of the Committee. [HON. MEMBER!" Divide!"] That is what I thought. I am only going to make an appeal to the Committee. If we take the Division on this Amendment before dinner we can proceed to get the Third Reading, and that would obviate the necessity of our meeting to-morrow.
We always delight in the perennial youth and vigour of the speeches of the Father of the House, but I have seldom heard a greater travesty of recent history than we have heard from the right hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. O'Connor). He said that an Act of Parliament is one thing and a. Treaty is another. Can he have forgotten the pledges which were given to Ulster and the negotiations which went on before Sir Edward Carson went to Ulster to persuade the people to accept the Act. of 1920. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"] The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) urged the Committee not to pass this Amendment to the Amendment of the Treaty because Mr. De Valera was going about the South of Ireland saying that you cannot trust the word of the British people. How is it possible that such a taunt can be open to Mr. De Valera? How can the right hon. Gentleman say such a thing here when he must remember that the negotiations for this Treaty were opened with Mr. De Valera in a letter from himself to Mr. De Valera on the 20th July. 1921, when he definitely told Mr. De Valera that a condition precedent, to opening these negotiations was that the terms of settlement with Southern Ireland must allow for the full recognition of the existing powers and privileges which had been given to Ulster? How, then, can Mr. De Valera say that the word of the British Parliament cannot be trusted when that matter was made clear to him?
I have only one further word to say. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I would remind hon. Members that I have sat here throughout the whole Debate, and while many hon. Members opposite have spoken twice I have not spoken, although I am an Irishman and have just spent a month in Ulster. The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) talked a great deal yesterday about trickery and roguery on the part of those who voted for the Treaty, and who thought in their hearts that if Ulster felt herself damnified she could always refuse—it has been held that she is entitled to refuse—to appoint a Commissioner. There can be no charge of trickery, chicanery or roguery against the British House of Commons if it passes this Amendment to-night.
It is admitted on all sides that it is open to the Commission to hold that the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh may be handed over to the Free State. I want to put this question to hon. Members opposite. Supposing the Commission come to the conclusion that the counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh shall be handed over to the South of Ireland, what are you going to do? Are you going to send over British troops to enforce this Act of Parliament? You have to make up your minds now. Do not lay yourselves open to a charge of trickery or chicanery. The South of Ireland will say, "You passed this Amendment, to the Treaty without any conditions attached to the reference to the Commission. It was pointed out, to you that it was open to the Commissioners to hand over Tyrone and Fermanagh to the South of Ireland. The Commission has held that those counties are, to he handed over, and it is up to you, as the British Parliament, to see that the findings of the Commission, authorised by your Parliament, are carried into effect." I f you do not mean to do that, say so now, and do not leave it to be east in your teeth afterwards. It is far more courageous for you to say now that you will do it or that you will not do it.
When the Treaty was passed, the intention as regards the boundary was
merely a rectification of the boundary line. Do not let Southern Ireland he able to say that you have been guilty of trickery and chicanery, that you have left it to the Commission on to say that there are large areas to be handed over to the South, as many of you think they ought to be handed. over, but that you are not going to enforce their verdict. You are taking a terrible responsibility if you pass this Bill in its present form to-night and do not make up your minds what you are going to do when the Commission has reported. Make up your minds. Be men; be honourable straightforward.
|Division No. 198.]||AYES.||[7.25 p.m.|
|Alnsworth, Captain Charles||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Alexander, Brg.-Gen. Sir W. (Glas. C.)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Allen. R. Wilberforce (Leicester. S.)||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C.M.S.||Dalkeith, Earl of||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Apsley, Lord||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovll)||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Lane-Fox, George R.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent,Dover)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Austin, Sir Herbert||Dawson. sir Philip||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Baird, Major Rt. Hon. Sir John L.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lorimer, H. D.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Deans, Richard Storry||Lumley, L. R|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Dixey, A. C.||Lyle, Sir Leonard|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Dixon, Herbert||Lynn, Sir R. J|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Eden, Captain Anthony||M'Connell, Thomas E.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Beamish, Captain T. P H.||Elliot, Walter E.||MacDonald, Ft|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase||Eiveden, Viscount||McLean, Major A.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Berkeley, Captain Reginald||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Berry, Sir George||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Mansel, Sir Courtenay|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Ferguson, H.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||FitzRoy, Captain Rt. Hon. Edward A.||Mason, Lieut. Col. Glyn K.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Meller, R. J.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Frece, Sir Walter de||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Gates, Percy||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||Moles, Thomas|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gilmour, Colonel Rt. Hon. Sir John||Morden. Colonel Walter Grant|
|Briscoe, Captain Richard George||Could, James C. (Cardiff, Central)||Morrison-Bell Major Sir A.C.(Honiton)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Greene. W. P. Crawford||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gretton, Colonel John||Nicholson, William G. (PetersAeld)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Hall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Burman, J. B.||Harland, A.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hartington, Marquess of||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Harvey,C.M.B.(Aberd'n & Kincardne)||Pease, William Edwin|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth.S.)||Herbert. Capt. Sidney (Scarborough)||Perkins. Colonel E. K.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pielou, D. P|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Honbin, Henry Cairns||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Raine, W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hood, Sir Joseph||Rankin, James S.|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Rawlinson. Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Howard, Hn. D.(Cumberland,Northrn.)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Coifox, Major Win. Phillips||Hughes, Collingwood||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cope, Major William||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Remer, J. R.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||Huntingfield, Lord||Remnant, Sir James|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||Illffe, Sir Edward M.||Rentoul, G. S|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||James, Lieut. Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Stanley, Lord||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Ropner, Major L.||Steel, Samuel Strang||Wilson, Col. M. J (Richmond)|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Windsor-clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Sutherland, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Wood, Major Rt. Hon. Edward F. L.|
|Savery, S. S.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Thomson, Sir W.Mitchell-(Croydon,S.)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ.,Belfst)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)||Mr. Cassels and Sir Malcolm|
|Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furness)||Wells, S. R.||Macnaghten.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R.(Aberavon)|
|Aciand, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Gibbins, Joseph||Mackinder, W.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gilbert, James Daniel||Maciean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gillett, George M.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Alden, Percy||Gosling, Harry||Maden, H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||March, S.|
|Alstead, R.||Greenall, T.||Martin, W. H. (Dumbarton)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Middleton, G.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Groves, T.||Mills, J. E.|
|Banton, G.||Grundy, T. W.||Mond, H.|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Barker, G. (Momnouth, Abertillery)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Montague, Frederick|
|Barnes, A.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morel, E. D.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar (Banff)||Harbison, Thomas James S.||Morris, R. H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Harbord, Arthur||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Bann, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hardle, George D.||Morse, W. E.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Harney, E. A.||Mosley, Oswald|
|Birkett, W. N.||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Bonwick, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Muir, John W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Murray, Robert|
|Briant, Frank||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Murrell, Frank|
|Broad, F. A.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Naylor, T. E.|
|Bromfield, William||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Nichol, Robert|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Hayes, John Henry||Nixon, H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Healy, Cahir||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Buckle, J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hillary, A. E.||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hindle, F.||Owen, Major G.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, G. H.||Paling, W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Palmer, E. T.|
|Clarke, A.||Hodge, Lieut.-Col J. P. (Preston)||Perry, S. F.|
|Climle, R.||Hogge, James Myles||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Phillipps, Vivlan|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Hudson, J. H.||Pilkington, R. R.|
|Compton, Joseph||Isaacs, G. A.||Potts, John S.|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Raffan, P. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Raffety, F. W.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universitie.)||Jewson, Dorothea||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Crittall, V. G.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Rathbone, Hugh R.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Raynes, W. R.|
|Davies, G. M. Lloyd (Welsh Univ.)||Jones, C.Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Rea, W. Russell|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rees, Capt. J. T. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Dickie, Captain J P.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Richards, R.|
|Dickson, T.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford,E.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Dodds, S. R.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Ritson, J.|
|Duckworth, John||Kennedy, T.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kenyon, Barnet||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Dukes, C.||Kirkwood, D.||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Duncan, C.||Lansbury, George||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Laverack, F. J.||Romerll, H. G.|
|Dunnlco, H.||Law, A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Lawson, John James||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Egan, W. H.||Leach, W.||Scurr, John|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Lee, F.||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Falconer, J.||Lessing, E.||Sexton, James|
|Finney, V. H.||Livingstone, A. M.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Foot, Isaac||Loverseed, J. F.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Lowth, T.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||Lunn, William||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||McCrae, Sir George||Simon, E. D.(Manchester,Withington)|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Westwood, J.|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)||Whiteley, W.|
|Smillie, Robert||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Wignall, James|
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Thornton, Maxwell R.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Smith, T. (Pontetract)||Thurtle, E.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough E.)|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Tillett, Benjamin||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B. (Kenningtn.)|
|Spence, R.||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Maj. A. S. (Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Toole, J.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)||Tout, W. J.||Willson, H.|
|Spero, Dr. G. E.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Spoor, B. G.||Turner, Ben||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Stamford, T. W.||Turner-Samuels, M.||Windsor, Walter|
|Starmer, Sir Charles||Varley, Frank B.||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Stephen, Campbell||Viant, S. P.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Vivian, H.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Stewart, Maj. R. S.(Stockton-on-Tees)||Wallhead, Richard C.||Wright, W.|
|Sturrock, J. Leng||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Sullivan, J.||Warne, G. H.|
|Sunlight, J.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sutton, J. E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Allen|
|Tattersall, J. L.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Parkinson.|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Wedgwood, Col. Rt. Hon. Joslah C.|
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill, put and agreed to.
The Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Down (Mr. Reid)- at the end of the Clause to add the words
Provided that, for the purpose of giving effect to the Agreement set forth in the Schedule to this Act by removing doubts which have arisen as to the true interpretation of the said Article Twelve, it is hereby declared that the expression in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants in that Article means the consent of the Parliament of the Irish Free State and of the Parliament of Northern Ireland as constitutionally representing the inhabitants of the Irish Free State and of Northern Ireland, respectively,
is out of order,
One of the most prominent impressions which the discussion which we have had on this Bill has left on my mind is that there never was any agreement on Clause 12. We have heard the views of signatories on behalf of the British Government. We have on record the views of members of the Free State Government. They are as different as day from night. If this were an ordinary agreement between individuals I think that any Court would say that the parties never were in agreement, and that there was no agreement, and the whole thing would fall to the ground. With regard to the specific points that were made during the Debate there are a few with which I should like to deal. I should like in the first place to protest against some remarks which were made by one of the hon. Members for Fermanagh and Tyrone. I do not intend to make any comment on those remarks, but the hon. Member made a series of attacks on the administration of the Government of Northern Ireland. My colleague and I have always done our best to exclude any local Irish affairs from discussion in this House. I think that a can be said that we have, not ourselves attempted to bring them into this House, and I only wish to record our protest and to say that if the hon. Member chooses to go to some place where such remarks can be properly answered the Northern Government and its representatives will have no difficulty in proving their inaccuracy.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who, I am sorry, is not present, must have found the logical inference which I attempted to draw from his promises or his pledges unpalatable, because he denies that he made any pledge at all. I do not propose to follow him into that discussion, because, first, his pledges were not given to me. They were given to other people and I have no doubt that those people can substantiate what they have said when the time comes. We have heard all these statements of the right hon. Gentleman and now, for the first time, we have been told that no pledge whatever was given. I can only say that it came as a great surprise to me to hear that he has never given pledges, and also, I think, that it came as a great surprise to many of our friends. I think that I am not going ton fat when I sug- gest that the right hon. Gentleman should study clearness of expression when he makes statements which many people think they are entitled to regard as pledges.
But there is one pledge which the right hon. Gentleman did admit. As I understood him, he admitted that he had given a pledge that the rights and privileges of the Parliament of Northern Ireland should not be interfered with without its own consent. Since then I have taken the trouble to examine the Act of 1920. I presume that even the right hon. Gentleman would admit that one of the rights of the Parliament of Northern Ireland is the right to make laws. Section 1 of the Act of 1920 defines what Northern Ireland is quite definitely. It is the six counties, and the two county boroughs of Belfast and Londonderry. Section 4 gives to the Parliament of Northern Ireland the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland had already been defined. I do not see how it possibly can be said that a pledge not to interfere with the rights of the Parliament of Northern Ireland can be dealt with without reference to the areas over which these rights have to be exercised. The rights and the area over which they are to be exorcised are defined in the Statute.
I am sorry to have to say these things in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, but I think that his speech this afternoon is a very good sample of the kind of difficulty with which we have to contend. I understood his argument to be this. He argued against an Amendment which was moved, which would have gone some way to define the powers of the Boundary Commission. He argued that the true construction of the Treaty was what I may call a narrow one. He seemed to draw the inference in that, that the Government of Northern Ireland should therefore appoint a Commissioner on that pretext, but then when an Amendment was moved defining the powers of the Boundary Commission, narrowing the words, to some extent, in the direction which he indicated, he declined to support it. He said, "No, because the Free State object." Why should the Free State object if the true construction is the one for which he contends, and why should be object to stating clearly what he means? That is really the objection that runs through the whole thing. Apparently the Treaty is a form of words which means one thing when he is talking to the people of Ulster and another thing when he is talking to the people of the Free State. That is the root of our objection, if he could only sec it for himself. So much for one or two of the arguments which he used.
In the latter part of my speech, when I moved the rejection of the Bill, I attempted to say a word for the people who are living on the border. I tried to point out to the House that when you are talking of areas, these areas it themselves are mere unanimated pieces of country. But they are the dwelling places of men and women, and it is men and women who are going to be affected by this change of boundary. Very few parts of the border are absolutely homogeneous. I live in a part of the six counties where I think the population can be said to be absolutely homogeneous. No Boundary Commission could possibly touch that part, but that is not the position of these other people. They are not rich people. The bulk of them are small farmers and labourers. They are people who have very deep seated feelings. If they are thrown under an alien flag and Government, their whole scheme of existence is shattered. Can the Government not do something in the way of some scheme by which people on either side of the new boundary—if one is set up—who have to go from North to South or South to North are compensated for their property, given the value of their property, so that they can move back over the border and re-establish their lives for themselves in circumstances similar to those to which they are accustomed? It need not cost an enormous sum of money.
I ask seriously whether something of that kind cannot be done. I believe it would go a long way towards mitigating the evil consequences that are likely to arise otherwise, and will go some way to assuage the feelings of those who are now living near the boundary. The Government have insisted on pressing this Bill forward, because they have to keep faith with Southern Ireland. We were told that if they did not keep faith with Southern Ireland, dreadful feelings would arise in the Coltie spirit, and so on. Translated into plain language that means that they are afraid, if they do not carry this Bill, of disorder in the Free State. It is not unfair to say that. I do not want to say anything unfair to the Free State, but we must face realities. If the Government have made an agreement, the breach of which might involve such consequences, it is only fair that they should bear the damage themselves. It is not fair to say, "We have made this bargain, and we must keep it. We are going to sacrifice you in order to enable us to keep it." That is not fair. People who make inconvenient agreements which are unfair must pay the damages out of their own pockets. Let the Government try to put themselves into the position of the ordinary fair-minded man. Such a man would say, "I have done a thing which is very awkward, and I must keep the bargain. In doing so I may cause injury to a number of people. It is my own doing. I will do my best to compensate them for any injury they suffer." It is only fair that the people who have made the agreement which does the damage should stand the racket themselves. I make this appeal to the Government, not as mitigating our opposition to the Bill, but, if the Government are determined to carry the Bill, merely as an appeal to them to afford some alleviation of the terrible consequences. I and my friends will vote against the Third Reading of the Bill.
It is quite true that we who hoped to prevent this Bill from going through this House have been beaten on the Second Reading, as also on the Amendment which we proposed, and I have no doubt that the Third Reading will be carried against us. But that does not relieve us who represent Ulster constituencies from the duty of continuing our protest against the action of the Government in the matter. There are many points of view from which the action of the Government may be considered. Practically the only ground on which the Government have professed themselves bound to pass the Bill has been the ground of honour. They have repeated time after time that their honour and the honour of Great Britain and of this House, is bound up with the passage of the Bill. As has been said, it is a pity that that word "honour" should be dragged into this transaction so often. I maintain that the Government are bound neither in law nor in equity nor in honour to do what they are doing. What did Article 12 of the Treaty do? The signatories on both sides agreed to make an attempt to set up a Commission which would deal with the boundary question. An essential part of that Commission was that one of its members was to be a man appointed by the Ulster Government. The signatories knew perfectly well that they would probably fail in their efforts. Yet they made no provision whatever in the Article or elsewhere to deal with the condition of affairs which would arise when the Northern Government failed to appoint a representative. They did not agree to set up a Commission; they agreed to try to set up a Commission. They failed utterly. That being so, I maintain that Article 12 is washed out of the Treaty. How could any part of it be left when the lawyers knew perfectly well that two of the Commissioners could not possibly act without the third?
I am glad that the hon. and gallant Member has reminded me about the voting out. We always looked upon that part of the Clause as a gratuitous in salt to Ulster. Several hon. Members, including, I believe, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), have actually asserted in this House that it was within the competence of the Government to include us in the Free State, having only a few months previously set us up as a governing entity, having granted us the six counties over which our Parliament was to be supreme, and having acquiesced in the presence of His Majesty the King in the opening of our Parliament. Such a preposterous contention I do not was ever put forward.
By the Coalition Government, which is a very different thing. A more preposterous claim was never made. We treated it as such. It is true that we did go through the form of voting ourselves out, but there was nothing in that. Had we omitted to do that, does the hon. and gallant Gentleman imagine that we would ever have allowed anyone to interfere with our carrying on our own government? Far from it. We paid no attention whatever to that part of Clause 12. We contend that the part of Article 12 dealing with the Commission did not guarantee the setting up of a Commission, because it could not do so, but said lit would do its best to set up a Commission of a certain kind to deal with the boundary question. As events proved, it was quite unable to do so. Therefore, I submit that the Government of this country was perfectly entitled to say, "We have clone all we could; we appointed our Commissioner, you have appointed yours from the Free State, but by reason of the fact that Ulster has not appointed its Commissioner, the whole Commission falls to the ground." The honour of the Government and of this House is in no way bound up with this question. If the Government had refused to take any further steps in the matter and had said, "We wash our hands of the whole thing, because it will cause more trouble than it is worth," they would have been perfectly justified in doing so. But I can quite understand that the Government might take the view: "At any rate we think the intention of the Treaty was that a Commission was to be set up." I am not sure that in certain circumstances I might not have taken that view myself.
But, whether that be so or not, taking into account the condition of affairs for the last two years, on the one hand the fact that on our side the signatories of the Treaty have assured us that all they had in their minds was a mere rectification of frontiers, and, secondly, that the signatories on the other side had said that they thought it meant the handing over of large territories to them, and that they were told by the signatories on our side what was the case, and taking into consideration the feeling that has been engendered by the whole business, the inflammable condition in which the border territory is now, I say that it is the bounden duty of the Government not to give way to the Free State, when it says, "Now we must have this Treaty amended so that the Commission may be set up." What the Government could have done was to say, "We understand your position, your anxiety, that this Commission should be set up as soon as possible. We understand the difficulties of your Government. But you have seen what the Privy Council has held. It has held that unless the Commission contains an Ulsterman it cannot act, and you also realise that there is no possibility of an Ulsterman being appointed by the Northern Government; therefore, that part of Article 12 falls to the ground. We are quite ready to help you to set up a Commission, but it must be on conditions. If we go out of our way to constitute a compulsory Commission, at least we must insist that an alteration be made in favour of the Ulster people."
During the last two years this controversy about the duties of the Commissioners has raged with great fierceness, but out of it all has come the fact that the signatories from this side have been of one opinion from the very first. What they had in their minds from the time the Treaty was signed was that all the power they intended to give to the Commissioners was the power of rectifying the frontier line, and that they never intended to give to the Commission the power of handing over large areas from the South to the North, or vice versa. In view of those facts I say the Government were acting very wrongly, very unjustly to Ulster, and were acting in a blassed way in favour of the South when they refused to take advantage of the fact that they had the whole matter in their own hands and that they could quite honourably and quite justifiably have said to the Free State, "If you insist upon your Commission being set up and our reconstituting this Commission, you must also submit to an alteration being made which will clearly state what the powers of that Commission are to be." That is my principal cause of complaint at the action which the Government has taken. I tried hard to bring that point home to the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, when I spoke on the Second Reading of the Bill. He did not answer it then. but I hope he will tell us to-night why he did not do that and will explain why the Government thought it would have been, as I presume they do, unjustifiable and dishonourable for them to have said, as I have suggested they should have said, to the Free State, that if they are to have the Treaty altered in their favour they must also permit its being altered to meet this other difficulty which affects our side of the question.
There is one other short matter I wish to mention. To-day there was put into my hands a document which seems to fortify the case which we have put forward with regard to the interpretation of Clause 12. This document is a minute of the public meeting of the League of Nations held at Geneva on the 20th September of this year. The House will remember that in the Treaty of Lausanne most matters were settled, but the question of the frontier between Turkey and Mesopotamia, which is now called Iraq, was left open. They could not arrive at that frontier in Lausanne, and it was left open to be dealt with as provided in the Treaty. The President, at the opening of this meeting last month, said:
The council will remember that on the 30th August we heard a statement from the reporter referring to the question of the frontier between Turkey and Iraq which has been placed on the agenda in the present session at the request of the British Government according to the procedure which is laid down in Article 3, paragraph 2, of the Treaty of Lausanne, which reads as follows:
In my analogy the Council of the League of Nations will, therefore, take the place, of the Commission the Government now proposes to set up. A very distinguished ornament of the Labour party (Lord Parmoor), who was the Government representative at this meeting, made these remarks. They are very interesting. Lord Parmoor said:
'The frontier between Turkey and Iraq shall be laid down in friendly arrangement to be concluded between Turkey and Great Britain within nine months. In the event of no agreement being reached between the two Governments within the time mentioned the dispute shall be referred to the Council of the League of Nations.'
The British Government suggests that the Council should, in the first instance,
determine the exact scope of the question and the reference.
This is the very thing we are asking you to put in our Treaty, namely, what are the powers and functions and limits of the powers of this Commission. You refuse to do it here. Your own representative in Geneva proposes it as the proper thing to do in a similar dispute where the Turks claim that the Commission is allowed the right to include the whole of the villayet of Mosul in their territory whilst the British claim is they have only the power to rectify the border or boundary line. Lord Parmoor said:
The British Government suggests that the Council should, in the first instance, determine the exact scope of the question under reference; in other words that it should define either here or by other methods the exact matter which under the terms of the Treaty has been referred to. I think that is the first point in our discussion—to be quite clear as to the area of our jurisdiction and what it is we have to determine.
I ask the House's attention to this. Lord Parmoor says:
Upon this point there is a difference of opinion between the Turkish Government and the British Government.
I suggest that between the Ulster Government and the British. Government the same difference of opinion exists at Geneva. The British Government hold the view that the point referred to the Council is the definition of the frontier line between Turkey and Iraq. The Turkish Government, on the other hand, if I understand their contention, maintain that the point in dispute is not one of Frontier rectification alone but also of the transfer of considerable areas in Iraq. There is an exact, an absolute parallel between our case and the Iraq case, so far as facts are concerned, but, unfortunately, the whole thing is reversed. Whereas the Government of this country is refusing in the ease of the Ulster Boundary to say plainly what the limitations and duties at the Commission are, at Geneva, whore it suits their book to argue in the opposite sense they do so.
I mean to suggest that a very great deal of our opposition to this Bill would be removed if the Government would say plainly that in any Commission that is set up the duties of the Commissioners are to be confined to the mere rectification of the frontier line.
Lord Parmoor continues:
But apart from anything Lord Curzon may have said—and I only note this in order that there should be no misunderstanding as to what his attitude was—the British contention rests on the language of the Treaty itself. That is what we have to deal with here, and to the British Government this language appears perfectly plain.
The Government will not even say that with regard to Clause 12, they will not even put it into the Treaty that the Commissioners are to be bound to a certain line of action, that is, to determine the frontier line, or even express an opinion as to what are their duties. Lord Parmoor says:
It appears to the British Government quite clear that the position is to determine the frontier line. They accordingly invite the Council to rule that the problem as submitted to them is to define the frontier of the State of Iraq as it actually exists, and not the disposal of the Mosul Villayet, which has been administered as part of Iraq since its occupation nearly six years ago.
I could alter these words easily to suit our case by saying, "We invite the Government to rule the problem as submitted to the Boundary Commission is to define the frontier line between Northern and Southern Ireland as it actually exists, and not the disposal of large areas on either side of the frontier line, particularly of large areas of Ulster which have been administered by the Northern Ireland Government since its occupation three years ago." By the translation of a few words, I could make Lord Parmoor's words, which he addressed to the League of Nations at Geneva, apply absolutely to the case before, the House at the present time. I could not resist the temptation to let the Government have the benefit of that document. I cannot understand how they can complacently sit on those benches and carry out a policy which is absolutely at variance with the policy they are pressing upon the League of Nations. Geneva is a long way off, but the echoes of those sittings have come to
this House. I commend the action of their own representatives at Geneva to their attention.
It might not be amiss if I responded to the appeal of the hon. Member for Down (Mr. Reid) with regard to his suggestion for economic adjustment as between one side and the other. As the only Labour Member of Parliament who has been along the Ulster Boundary lately, I was much impressed with the strain, the feeling of pressure, there was among the people living on the boundary. Whether rightly or wrongly, they were living in a condition of great strain. I thought myself that the strain was not justified, but it is not the kind of thing about which you can argue with the people themselves. You may argue it with other people, and I feel that if the Government to-night could make some suggestion that this matter would be considered in a friendly and favourable way, that if there is to be an alteration in the boundary which will bring within the borders of the Free State not only those who do not want to be in it but are afraid to be in it, and, on the other hand, if the change of boundary should bring within the boundaries of Northern Ireland those who do not wish it—if an economic exchange could be arranged—I think the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Down would meet with response from the Government Benches. I hope most sincerely, after what I have seen in Northern Ireland and in Dublin, that no Member of this House, that no person in a position of any prominence at all, however slight the prominence is, will do anything to further inflame opinion on the border, but will do everything possible to secure peace. I feel convinced that, given a comparatively short time of peace in Ireland, Irishmen will be able to understand and come to an agreement with each other. The economic necessity of Southern Ireland to Northern Ireland and of Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland is a very great link. The historical connection between the two parts of Ireland will draw them together, although they are, separated now and have been separated in the past. I believe, that given peace even for only a short time, it will be possible for Northern and Southern Ireland to live under some form of federal intercommunication and economic intercommunication which will make life easier and happier in both parts of that great country. I was convinced, as many others have been by a visit to Ireland, that the unity of Ireland is essential in the future. I was told that such was the ideal in the minds of prominent men in Northern as well as Southern Ireland — an ideal difficult to express, and perhaps by some impossible to express, at the present time, but an ideal which these men had in mind. Therefore I hope if the Government can hold out any hope of such economic assistance as may enable the difficulties of the boundary, when drawn, to be smoothed over, that some suggestion of that kind may be made to-night.
I am glad even at this late stage of the proceedings in connection with this Measure to be able to contribute to the discussion upon this momentous question. I congratulate the last speaker upon having at last made up his mind definitely as to the solution of this problem. He was, unfortunately for the party to which he belongs, the only Member of it who went along the border with that group which has been picturesquely referred to as "the Cooks' tourists." They were, at any rate, men who were prepared to give up a week or ten days of their short leisure trying to ascertain for themselves the existing position, and my hon. Friend who last addressed the House, by reason of being the only representative of the Labour party, had to respond more often than anybody else on matters which arose for discussion. I thought he was entirely converted to the cause of Ulster, because he invariably ended his very able addresses with an expression of his determination to give Ulster a square deal. I was regretful to find that he gave a vote last night which, from my point of view, and from the point of view of many of my friends here, was not in favour of extending anything approaching a square deal to those who have been so loyal to us in the past. I rise to speak especially with regard to the tour which was made by hon. Members of this House, and to tell the House what has not yet been told to it that, so far from this question being one of creed, we Found at Londonderry an influential deputation including Roman Catholics as well as Protestants who urged the necessity for taking into Northern Ireland portions of Donegal at present in the Free State. These gentlemen were absolutely convinced that these districts if left out of Northern Ireland would be destroyed economically and cut off from marketing their produce.
I have been in this House nearly 20 years and I know the speculative character of such interjections well enough to realise that one cannot pay any attention at all to them. It is an undeniable fact that prominent men, without distinction of creed, see the danger, and they desire to be admitted into that State when orderly government reigns, and where everything upon the face of it shows a flourishing and progressive community. But that is not all. The real intention of those who purport to speak on behalf of the Free State was indicated in an answer which was made to the hon. Member for Streatham (Sir W. Lane-Mitcheil) when we passed ever the border into the Free State and conversed with those who were ready to talk to us on the subject. One man at Pettigo—where an unfortunate incident took place some time ago—summarised the position in this way:
The peace of Ireland can only be attained by the complete surrender of Ulster to the contention of the Free State.
How is it possible to expect any reasonable result when a demand of that sort is made, or even when it is divided by half and expressed in the terms of that very indiscreet utterance made by the gentleman who has been nominated as a member of the Commission by the Free State? Does the House suppose for a moment that his demand will not be followed up by the demand of the Pettigo gentleman, with the object of subordinating what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) called "the crowd in Ulster" and I was sorry to bear him refer in that way to those who constitute the majority of the residents of Ulster. I
think those who voted with the majority in the Division just now will probably live to regret that vote. I do not say that the Labour party are not sincerely desirous of doing what they consider to be the right thing. They are trying to avoid personal responsibility by the passage of this Bill, and they are seeking to overlook many things which go to show that Ulster was to be left as she was created by the 1920 Act—in a position inviolate.
I have seen the whole of this unfortunate business with regard to Ireland since I entered the House. Ireland was perfectly peaceful when I entered the House—it was admitted by Mr. Birrell that she was more peaceful than she had been for 700 years. Nothing was done for her, whatever her grievances were, in 1906, but then came the Butget of 1909, and I recall the scene when that Budget was in extrenis. I saw an emissary pass from the Treasury Bench to hold a preliminary conference with the hon. Gentleman who then sat below the Gangway upon this side. The whole of the lamentable trouble, the whole of the bloodshed which has taken place, and all that has followed during these sad years, including, indeed, the Great War, is to be dated from that time. The Great War would probably never have come upon us had it not been for our domestic quarrels; the Kaiser Wilhelm was cute enough to know that if we were not engaged with domestic troubles we should have acted as we ultimately did act. I put the blame for all this trouble upon the Ministers of that day who to secure Budget Clauses which have had to be repealed chose to bring about this calamity not only in our own midst and in Ireland but in Europe. Let the blame be placed on the proper shoulders. No doubt the Labour party are endeavouring to do the best they can in the difficulties in which they find themselves, but I warn them that instead of playing the role of the honest broker they are likely to find themselves in the position of the cat when its claws were burned through being taken forcible possession of by the more active and ingenious animal which desired to get the chestnuts out of the fire.
If hon. Members opposite think this is going to end the difficulty, I am afraid they are sadly mistaken. Nobody could fail to be impressed with the meeting at Castlederg, where a young man, relatively speaking, a Nonconformist minister and at the same time a fainter, made the must impassioned and earnest, yet quiet, appeal to us that justice might be done. He put before us, in the quiet, forcible language which he used, the inevitable result of forcing this Bill upon a community which declined to accept it. I am quite sure my hon. Friend who is so very anxious about this matter will remember that incident and the moderateness and earnestness with which that ease was put by a man who would be the last to encourage anybody to lift his hand against his neighbour, and yet who was bound to admit that in the conditions which prevailed made it almost impossible for them to do otherwise. It is suggested in a pamphlet that reached me this morning that we were fooled. I am so used to this from the other side of St. George's Channel that I attached no importance to statements which were obviously untrue, and through my ancestry I suppose I have still a little of 16th century Tyrone blood in my veins, and to that extent I may be said to have a personal interest, and I am afraid it is to that extent I have to keep a very strong control upon myself sometimes when questions of this sort are up for discussion. Those meetings were not hole-and-corner meetings called by and for selected individuals. They were open street meetings, in some cases, that anybody could come to, and anybody passing along the village street might have taken part in them, or might have attended them in the parish hall or wherever it was that they were held, and yet there was not a discordant voice.
When we came to Enniskillen, and had the interview which has been referred to more than once by hon. Members who took part in that tour and have joined in this Debate, in particular by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy), I well remember, and shall remember for many a day, the embarrassment which that hon. Member evinced when questions were put to him by members of the deputation upon the contents of the printed statement which he read. Some of us are accustomed to watch the demeanour of our witness as we cross-examine, and I am bound to say that if confusion was ever written on the countenance of a witness, it was written on the features of the hon. Member that afternoon.
No, I declined to put any question at all, for my own part, because I had satisfied myself regarding my witness before the time came for questions to be put. I would like now to refer to the speech made this afternoon by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who has been reading up Irish history lately, and just rubbing up old historical facts, and who talked about those troubles of the 17th century. If he had only taken an account and seriously examined himself, as to what part he has played from beginning to end in this Irish business, we might look to him for repentance and to turn over a new leaf in Irish politics. It is a painful thing to think that honour has been made so cheap. As I listened to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney), and as I contemplated not merely the part which he has taken, but also the part which has been played by those distinguished right hon. Members of this House who are accustomed to sit on the benches opposite, I could not help thinking, although I include myself in the denunciation, that there is a great deal to be said for that divine warning in the Gospel, "Woe unto you also, ye lawyers!"
The vigorous criticism of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in respect of his action on the Irish Treaty seems belated and ungracious, as probably at that time the right hon. Gentleman had no more reliable supporter than the right hon. Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield) himself.
I beg that this opportunity be given to me to correct that statement. I never voted for that Bill of 1922. I never voted for the 1920 Act except in Committee to try to improve it. I was opposed to it from beginning to end, and I earned the. sobriquet, of which I was proud, in conjunction with my colleagues, of being in this respect a "Die-hard."
I do not know that the right hon. Gentleman carried his opposi-
tion so far as to oppose the Bill on that occasion. There were many opportunities of expressing himself at that time, and so many Divisions were taken in this House that if he had felt the strong opposition which he now reveals I think it might have been expressed at that time. [An HON. MEMBER: "You were not in the House!"] I was in the House at that time, and I want to say that, in order to appreciate, as was said by the Colonial Secretary to-night, the attitude which is taken up by those who have opposed the Treaty all through, they have taken a most consistent line. They have fought their battle all the way through, and they have protested when everybody was throwing up his hat and receiving Imperial congratulations in December, 1921, when telegrams were pouring in,
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
At that time there was opposition expressed, and that opposition was renewed right through the Debate on the ratifying Bill, and has been expressed to-day. It is a perfectly honourable opposition. Some criticism has been made by one or two hon. Members to-day who were not here during those Debates, and I think they are to be excused on the ground that they have not troubled to read what the Debates were at that time, but have taken what has been said in this House about those discussions. But there is no excuse, surely, for those who at that time heard all the Debates and all the discussions, and time after time voted down the opposition of the Northern counties of Ireland. Was there ever such a travesty as we have had to-day from members opposite as to the Debates at that time? I was astonished to hear the hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) speak again with indignation of the suggestion that at that time we wore dealing with the representatives of all Ireland. What right has he to raise that now, after two years, seeing that the whole principle of the Bill of 1922 and of the Treaty of December, 1921, was that we were dealing with the representatives of all Ireland?
I believe the Noble Lord did himself object and express his
opposition at that time. But I am speaking the altitude taken by the majority at that time, a majority mainly made up of Members of his own party, and there can be no doubt what the basis of the whole transaction was. On the 2nd March, 1922, Mr. Churchill, who had charge of the Measure, and who was supported by a majority made up mainly of the Conservative party, said:
I am asked, 'Why is it that you have declined to insert the word "Southern"?' The reason, as is well known, is that we were negotiating with men whom, for good or for ill, rightly or wrongly, we decided to consider as representing the Irish nation. … I would say that, rightly or wrongly, we dealt with these men as men entitled to speak on behalf of Ireland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1922; col. 642, Vol. 151.]
Later on he made this further declaration, in answer, indeed, to the Noble Lord himself. The Noble Lord at that time was protesting against Mr. Churchill's declaration, and Mr. Churchill, intervening, said:
The Treaty proceeds on the assumption that the Irish signatories represented Ireland as a whole. I say that is the assumption on which the Treaty proceeds. There are the signatories of the Treaty, which is described as a Treaty between this country and Ireland. That is the assumption, and the basic assumption, and it is perfectly well known and obvious."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 2nd March, 1922; col. 650, Vol. 151.]
May I point out to the hon. Gentleman what appeared in the letters between the then Prime Minister and Mr. De Valera, with whom everything was arranged? These are the words which the then Prime Minister wrote to Mr. De Valera on 8th September, 1921:
I have received your telegram of last night, and observe that it does not modify the claim that your delegates should meet us as the representatives of a sovereign and independent State. You made no such condition in advance when you came to see me in July. I invited you then to meet me, in the words of my letter, as 'the chosen leader of the great majority in Southern Ireland,' and you accepted that invitation. … My colleagues and I cannot meet your delegates as representatives of a sovereign and independent State. I must, therefore, repeat, that unless the second paragraph is withdrawn, a conference between us is impossible.
Later the then Prime Minister wrote:
The position taken up by His Majesty's Government is fundamental to the existence of the British Empire, and they cannot
alter it. We, therefore, send you a fresh invitation to a conference, where we can meet your delegates as spokesmen of the people whom you represent.
The undertaking was agreed to, and the delegates were sent as the chosen representatives.
I thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the information he has put before the House, but the real thing is what was said by the responsible Minister in this House, and supported by a majority, at one time, of five to one in this House, mainly made up of Conservative Members. After the invitation had been accepted and the delegates had come across, Mr. Churchill declared they took the responsibility of dealing with those men as being representative of all Ireland, and that is the basic assumption of the whole Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman said:
There is the language of the Treaty. Having done that we then made the provision with which the Committee is familiar for enabling Ulster to contract out of the arrangement.
Then the right hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) said that the assumption all through was that this was simply for the rectification of the boundary. He said that was the understanding of the House. An hon. and gallant Member asserted that the main claim for the alteration asked for now was because of the general assumption in the House that they were only asking for a rectification of the boundary. It was not the general assumption of the House, and I would ask those who represent the Northern counties of Ireland whether I am not right in this recollection, that all through the Debates in Committee, all the criticism of the Treaty was based upon the dangerously vague words, as they said, of Article 12. Did not one of the Ulster Members speak of the map which he said had been marked by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs? One after
another spoke of the danger that would follow the adoption of Article 12.
Every speech made in criticism of the Treaty was to that effect, and there were a great many speeches. It was at a time when I thought it was the duty of a Member to sit all through the Debates, and I sat through all those Debates, and heard all the speeches made in criticism, every one of which emphasised the danger of Article 12, the danger of large pieces of territory being taken from one side or the other. After all, if it was generally believed in this House that it was only to be a rectification of the boundary, why were such serious accusations of dishonour made against the Government? Why did such a responsible and distinguished Member of this House, the recent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, compare the action of those sitting upon the Front Bench with the action of Germany after the War? The whole gravamen of the case of Northern Ireland Members at that time was that Article 12 was a dangerous Article, involving, perhaps, the disruption of Ireland and serious disturbances. What was the answer of those responsible for the Treaty? It was the answer made by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain), when he said, in December, that they took the responsibility early in the morning, after much consideration. They had to decide between a renewal of civil war and this Treaty, he said, and they decided for this Treaty. He said that they took the responsibility, and those who voted for the Second Reading shared that responsibility. They voted for the Second Beading after that definite warning, and after the right hon. Gentleman had said that his opinion as to the interpretation of Article 12 counted for nothing. The answer that was made to the criticism brought to bear by those who speak for the Northern counties was the answer again and again made by Mr. Winston Churchill, who said he could not give any opinion that was worth having as to what the Commissioners would do. His opinion was simply the opinion of a private person, and that it must be left to the Commission. Yet here we are being asked today by those who urged that course upon us to undo what we did then, and to vote precisely in the contrary direction. We were asked to do it on the Amendment just now, and there are those who have gone in to the Lobby and have voted for the Amendment which they voted against then. They have sought to undo two years after what was done then. Why? What excuse cast be given to those with whom we entered into that Treaty if two years after we take precisely a different view? I submit that there has been, in the course of these Debates, a wrong description of the rather striking events of two years ago, and that the only safe course for us is to act upon the same line as them, and to leave to the Commissioners the decision of the boundary, as we were then advised to do. [An HON. MEMBER: "You have changed your line of action!"] We have not changed our line of action. It has been said just now that we were changing a treaty that Mr. Churchill said was unalterable. Of course a treaty is unalterable without the consent of the parties to the treaty, in the same way a contract is a contract and unalterable without the consent of either of the parties to it. We have got the consent of the other parties to the contract to varying Article No. XII. All we have now is by the agrte9nent to carry out something which we hoped would have been done in the ordinary course of law by the Northern counties—the appointment of their Commissioner. I hope we shall endorse the action of the Government in taking the only right course; endorse the action of the Government by supporting the Third Pending of this Bill.
I am very glad, even at this stage in the progress of this Bill, to have this opportunity of saying just a word or two, although it is exceedingly difficult, indeed almost impossible, to say anything that has not already been said, and perhaps been said over and over again. But I am one of those Members of this House who visited Northern Ireland and also Southern Ireland. It is because I share the great concern, which, I venture to think, is felt by every member of this House who visited Ireland and spoke with those who are immediately concerned in this matter, that I intervene at this time. I confess it is a matter of very great regret to me, regret which is felt, I am sure, by every Member on this side of the House, and I suspect even by a majority of Members on the other side of the House, that the Government have not seen their way to make perfectly clear what I think was undoubtedly the intention of this House in 1921–22, just as it is the intention of this House, and the hope at this present moment, as to what the powers of the Commission should be.
I regret exceedingly that the Government have not seen their way to do what it is most unfortunate should not have been done when this Treaty was discussed in this House. Everyone appreciates the difficulty of the position of the present Government, and, of course, I should like to point out that the advantage the Government at this present moment has over the Government responsible for this Treaty is this: that the fears which were only vaguely foreshadowed in that Government are now, in the light of events in Southern and Northern Ireland, only discovered to he too well founded. It is in the light of what has happened in the past two years that I think we are justified in looking to the Government, when rectifying this Treaty, that they should have clearly and definitely stated that the power of this Commission was for the rectification of the boundaries alone. I think it is quite clear that the intention of the signatories of this Treaty was for rectification of the boundaries. I share the hope that was expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, that even now the fears of those as to what this Commission will do, fears that a large slice of Northern territory will be handed over to Southern Ireland, will be found to be entirely groundless.
I was much struck with his remark that when these negotiations were going on he honestly and firmly believed that the fears that were expressed on all sides of this House were without any foundation whatever, and that he was trusting to the goodwill of those representatives of Southern Ireland to see that it was only the mere rectification of boundaries that was intended under this Article XII. All this, indeed the whole history of this Irish question, brings home to me, as I am sure it brings home to many Members of this Home, the limits of political action in dealing with a situation such as that which we have in Ireland. I venture to think there is a parallel in the history of Scotland. There was a situation in Scotland which arose out of religious differences, differences arising out of a cleavage within the Presbyterian Church itself. The bitterness that was introduced into the life of Scotland as a result of those differences can scarcely be believed by those who have had no experience of them.
I will give an illustration, although I will not vouch for the truth of it, but whether it be true Or not it illustrates my point. Two eminent clergymen, in Scotland, belonged to the Free Church. One said to the other: "Doctor, what would you say if I joined the Church of Scotland?" His friend, looking at him, said: "If you join the Church of Scotland I will never speak to you again in this life, and you know, as well as I do, I should not have an opportunity in the next." But the position is that, it illustrates some of the bitterness that was introduced into the life of Scotland. An attempt was made by political action to solve that situation. The attempt was made by a movement for the disestablishment of the Church of Scotland, and try to remove what was regarded as the cause and source of all this bitterness. In the Midlothian campaign, with which every hon. Member of this House is familiar, the disestablishment of the Church of Scotland was made the great issue. Fortunately, that movement failed, and that political action dropped. What followed? I say fortunately because I verily believe that if disestablishment of the Church of Scotland had been brought admit it would have perpetuated that state of affairs.
What was the position? It was dropped, and during the past 10 or 15 years there has been gradually growing up between those two great religious bodies in the Church of Scotland a spirit and a feeling which is now expressed in the Bill which is coming before this House, a Measure which is not intended to bring about union in Scotland, but simply to ratify a union that has already taken place in Scotland. It is because the bitter feeling that has been fostered and developed within these two bodies of Scotland, and which has been the source of so much bitterness in the past has been removed and a spirit of goodwill has been fostered that a Bill is coming before this House next Session not to accomplish union in Scotland, but to ratify a union and that has in reality taken place. It seems to me that it is along these lines that one would have hoped and wished the people of Ireland had proceeded. Nothing can be done in this House that will solve the Irish situation. It is the fostering and development of a better spirit between the two peoples of Ireland that is going to bring about that union which we all want to see established. In this House I trust there will some day be a Bill introduced to ratify the union of the two peoples in Ireland who for so long have been at war. I say that both in the North and South of Ireland the desire for a united Ireland is equally strong. In the North of Ireland, as in the South, the boundary of which we hear so much—it has been spoken of as a gash in the body politic of Ireland—is looked upon as an unnatural boundary and cannot be a permanent one. The position is that, while in the North there is a keen and strong desire for a united Ireland within the British Empire, there is at least a suspicion in the Northern mind, and it is one which has really some grounds, that, while the desire for a united Ireland is strong in Southern Ireland, it is a desire for a united republic in Ireland. If only those fears, whether rightly or wrongly held, were removed, the union of Ireland would soon be brought about. I sincerely hope that the fears which were expressed on all sides of the House when this Treaty was being considered, and the fears that have been expressed again and again in the course of the discussion which has taken place yesterday and to-day, are entirely groundless.
I feel that it is a great pity that this action has not been delayed for a little longer. After all, you have in Ireland at the present moment in the North a sense of security, a state of peace, and a prosperity which Northern Ireland has not known for many years. In the South of Ireland we are told that there is a sense of security, and that there is also peace there. That is the present state of affairs. If this Bill goes through, as it seems it must, and the Commission is appointed, on the one hand you will have Southern Ireland with high hopes of a large slice of territory being taken from Northern Ireland, while in Northern Ireland you will have grave fears that something more than a rectification of the boundary may take place. Whatever be the result of this Commission, it is going to disappoint one side or the other, and the present state of affairs, which is a vast improvement on any that has prevailed in Ireland for many years, is coming to an end. We are simply prolonging the high expectations on the part of Southern Ireland and the fears of Northern Ireland, when we might have put an end to them at once if only the Government had had the courage simply to express in this Bill what, I venture to think, the vast majority in all quarters of the House believe, and to limit the powers of the Commission to rectification, as was undoubtedly the intention of the signatories and the intention of this House when the Bill was passing through, and, unless I am much mistaken from the speeches in the course of this Debate, is the intention and the hope of the vast majority of members in all quarters of the House now. I am glad to have had this opportunity of expressing, at least, these opinions which I have formed after trying, with other Members of the House, to study the Irish problem in Ireland, and I finish, expressing and repeating the hope that the fears of Northern Ireland are unfounded, and that even yet we may be nearing a state of peace in Ireland.
I had no intention of rising in this Debate, but for some remarks which I heard from the other side, and particularly from the hon. and learned Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) and from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. O Connon), about bigotry. Members have spoken time and again as if all the bigotry came from the North. Scotland's voice has not yet been heard, I think, in this Debate, but all the trouble as between religions is not confined to Ireland. We have almost the same dividing line in Scotland, and I think the Scottish Members will more or less bear me out in that. The hon. Member who has just sat down referred to the trouble between the Church of Scotland and the Free Churches, and to the fact that during the course of time they have practically come together. That is to a certain extent true, but there has been an assimilation of the two in coming together, and that is the secret. So far as Scotland is concerned, however—and I want to impress this on the English Members—the Church of Rome and the Church of Scotland and the Free Churches are not in the same category at all. There is a dividing line which really cannot be bridged so far as they are concerned.
The Education Act will prove what I am saying. In Scotland the Church of Rome does not allow its children to go to the Board schools Where the Protestants are. The children of the Free Churches and of the Established Church of Scotland come together in the schools, and they are quite willing to associate with the children of the Church of Rome, but the Church of Rome says that its children shall not come under a Protestant atmosphere. That is the case in Scotland, and there is not a Scottish Member in this House who will contradict my statement. The Scottish Labour Whip and myself were called before the Parish Council to see if we could bring before this House the outrageous manner in which the Church of Rome has heaped on the rates through this separation. In 1918, before the Act was passed and Scotland came under it, the total rates for a year in my parish were £24,000. This year they are £50,000, having risen from 2s. 4d. in the £ to 5s. 6d. I am only seeking to point out the dividing line between the Church of Rome and the Church of Scotland. The result has been this enormous burden which has been put upon the ratepayers in Scotland, owing to the cost of schools and the putting in of expenses which the powers that be here always pay—they never turn them down. The result is that there is a stranglehold on the Scottish people—and I am not the only one who says so—which is practically strangling them to death with the burdens of taxation.
With regard to this Treaty, Members across the Floor of the House have repeatedly talked about the stiff-neckedness of the people of Ulster, and to some extent it is true, for I believe they are the backbone of this nation. I am sure it is through hatred of the people of Ulster that the Liberals in particular are against it. These men have been accused of being stiff-necked and stubborn, but is it at all conceivable that they were going to stand idly by and allow such an Act to pass through before their eyes without contending against it? Would it be admitted for a single moment that, in face of their constituencies in the North, they dare remain here like dumb dogs, silent? We have had repeated statements from Lord Birkenhead and other leading men as to their conception of what it meant—the rectification of boundaries. I put more faith in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson), who is a Scotsman. He is emphatic upon it—he was Secretary for Ireland—that it never was meant for anything but a rectification of those boundaries. I could say all that I have to say, and all that any of you here have said, inside of two minutes. It is simply this, that Government after Government has played the part of the unjust judges with the importunate widow. When the importunate widow, if I may use the expression, got upon her hind legs, the unjust judges responded and said, "We will just give her her suit and shut her mouth, and that will finish it." I think the lesson is this, that the more you respond to the importunate widow, the more you will find that, like the man-eating tiger with its appetite for blood, you will whet her appetite for more. It has been the case all along the line with the Roman Catholic element in the Free State. It just amounts to this. I believe Mr. Cosgrave would have been quite willing to allow those six counties of Ulster to function as they have, but the gunmen in the Free State would not allow it, and they have held their guns up to the Government and the Liberal party and they have responded to it. That is really what has happened. There was another point, and I challenge the Colonial Secretary on it, for I know he was not speaking the truth.
I respect your ruling, and I will put it in another way. He stated here that if Ireland went Republican he would use force to prevent it. I say he will not, because his party will not allow him. That is my statement, and I say it emphatically. He was only speaking for himself and not for his party, as he speaks many a time for himself and his party turns him down. I know the party will not seek to prevent them going Republican, and I know they are going to go Republican, no matter what happens. I am as well versed as any Member of this House in Irish affairs. There is nothing I do not know about them. I took note of two statements. The hon. Member for South Shields said the whole controversy has been based on the refusal of the North to associate with the rest of the people. We are up against the same thing in Scotland. That is what I have been telling you. They refuse to associate with the Scotch people, and that is why this educational burden has been heaped so much on the shoulders of the Scotch people. More than that, one of the greatest orators of the Church of Rome, Bishop Graham—he was at Rome and got his marching orders from the Pope. I want to show you English Members how we are situated in Scotland, and I am speaking in the presence of Scotch Members, who will not contradict me because they cannot. He came from Rome and took a public hall at Motherwell, and his addresses were to be for Protestants only. He said the Protestant religion was no better than the Heathen Chinee's, and that the only channel through which blessing could come to them was through the Church of Rome.
I think I was dealing with what the hon. Member for South Shields and the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool brought in They have been seeking to heap all the bigotry upon the people of the North, and the hon. Member for South Shields gave the connecting link to the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood), who said the people would decide it. The hon. Member for South Shields referred to the Stuart. Plantation. Where is the connecting link? The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs meant that the people of Scotland would receive it peaceably. He knows perfectly well what the Stuart Plantation means in Ulster. It is the Scotch people, and no one knows better than the hon. Member the friction that exists in Scotland, and the strict dividing line. What would happen in Scotland if the people of Ulster were coerced and compelled to go under the Free State? We should have our Presbyterian ministers out on the stump, if I may use the expression, and if one Ulster man's or woman's blood was shed so surely would 80 per cent. of the Scotch people be up in arms. In the Colonies it is just the same. We have the best Scotch blood in the Colonies, and I am getting letters every day from them. They are strictly in accord with the people of Ulster. If it does not cause friction in England, this House can depend upon it it is going to rouse bad blood in Scotland. The Irish may boast about their millions and all the rest of it, but remember what Carlyle said about their fighting capacity. He said they were so constituted mentally that they could not undergo sufficient training to make themselves effective armies in the field, and if it comes to the fighting bit, I am certain the Free State and those associated with them will go under. I do not advocate bloodshed, but it is best that we should know and understand the situation, because the Englishmen are treating it lightly, and I hear them saying on every hand, "Let us get rid of the Irish question. We have had it long enough." You will never get rid of the Irish question, and you are going the wrong way about it. You will discover that the Irishman is the worst man in the world to run away from. The only thing he responds to is a good heating, and until they get that beating in the Free State they will never be friendly with this country, because they are looking upon Britain as having been conquered in the field, which we know is absurd.
I have a love for England. I served in an English regiment for years and the result is that I have a natural regard for Englishmen. I think they are the finest class of people under the sun, only they are too soft and carried away with the blarney. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division stands up there for hours talking blarney. I hope the English Members will think seriously. During the War they know what happened. In Scotland we had them also at war with us. They were continually going about in the West of Scotland breaking into stores, stealing dynamite and gelatine and sending it across to the Free State. It was continual war even in Scotland as well as Ireland. What would happen if Ulster were compelled to come in? It is said, rightly and truly, that they are a stiff-necked race of people. They are the real, old original Scots—that is admitted—they are the real old original Scots, and if compelled to go in with the Free State you will have a United Ireland, a United Republic up against you. The Free State is out to compel Ulster to come in, and nothing else, and the Colonial Secretary and hon. Members opposite and on this side know it perfectly well. That is at the back of the whole thing. When the Commission gives its findings, it is anticipated that at least two Counties and the City of Derry will be the judgment, and then the Free State means to come to this House or to the country and say—and I know it; it is in their Press and their speakers are drumming it out all along the line—that this Parliament should set the Crown forces in motion to compel Ulster to come into the Free State. That is what the matter is, and at the end of the day these very same gentlemen who sit in these seats will rise on their hind legs and demand that the Crown forces shall come in That is at the back of it. What are we running away for?
Even if Ireland is divided—and this is my opinion, and I know it will be your opinion before you are many years older—that you would have been far better to have a divided Ireland than a united Ireland, a republican Ireland, for that is what is going to happen. I am as confident as I stand on this floor that if English Members are guilty of this crime which they seek to perpetrate upon the people of the North, it is a crime which the God of Heaven never can forgive. They talk about South Africa. What has happened in South Africa? Before two years it will be a Republic, and if you continue acting the part of the unjust judge, thinking to blacken the importunate widow, you are going to lose your Colonies one by one, and this great country of ours will sink to the status of a second or a third-rate power. It is going down in the estimation of the world every day that you live.
I want to say a word about the letter and the spirit of the Treaty which was passed in 1921. It would have been an advantage if we had heard a little bit more about the atmosphere in the House when the Treaty was being carried through the House. I am quite certain of this, that if the speeches which have been made this afternoon and yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) had been made in this House two years ago with the same phraseology, the Treaty would not have obtained the votes of the Conservative Members in this House. What was the atmosphere of this House at that time? The country was undoubtedly tired and sick of the Trish question. They were told, first of all, that this was a final settlement of the life-long Irish question. They were then told that they must pass the Bill as it was; not a comma, not a word, not a syllable, not a sentence must be altered. The third thing they were told was that the Boundary Clause only meant a small rectification and that the interests of Ulster were fully safeguarded. At that moment, after we had been told all these three things, an incident happened in the Debate which I am quite sure had great influence, more influence than anything else, upon those Conservative Members who voted in favour of the Treaty. Mr. Bonar Law, who had been away ill, for the first time came back to his seat, the same seat which has been occupied by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) and made one of the most remarkable speeches that I have ever heard in this House of Commons. It had an enormous effect upon those Conservative votes which were wavering at that particular moment. I am very surprised that no reference is made whatever—it is a complaint, so far as I am concerned; I hope the Minister on the Front Bench at the present moment will convey this to the Colonial Secretary, who is not in his place at the present moment—that there is no reference whatever in the White Paper before the House to that very remarkable speech which was made by Mr. Bonar Law when the Treaty was going through the House.
I said just now that if the speeches which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs had been made on that occasion, that Treaty would have been in great jeopardy, for the very good reason that the whole of the Conservative Members had come back on the basis of a letter which was written by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs to Mr. Bonar Law at the date of the 1918 Election. In that letter it was most specifically stated that the position of Ulster would be fully safeguarded.
Having given that slight opinion of what the atmosphere was that existed at the time this Treaty was going through Parliament, what do we find when we come to the question that we were told this was a final settlement of the lifelong Irish question? To put it in vulgar language, we find that we have been "sold a pup." We find that it is no settlement at all. We find that this is simply coming back to the same old thing over again. We find also that it is necessary to change the Treaty. We find that it is necessary to have another Treaty, to put other words into it, that we cannot now accept it merely without a word, without a comma or without a sentence changed, and that we have to put words into this Treaty and make a new Treaty. The third thing we find is that there is a great difference—as the Prime Minister stated in moving the Second Reading—between what Mr. Michael Collins was told as to what this Treaty was about, and what Sir James Craig was told, that they both understood quite different things. If I may say so, it is no use the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs coming here and saying that there are populations in Northern Ireland whose ambitions must he dealt with. He mentioned the figure of 400,000 people in Northern Ireland who are being ruled by a Government which they dislike. Some of that population happens to be in the middle of the city of Belfast. I do not know whether it is the suggestion of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Healy) that they should take these people in Belfast who object to the Northern Government and put them under the Southern Government. I was one of those, who two years ago, voted for the Treaty. Last night I voted against this Bill. I do not consider there was anything inconsistent in what I did. At the time the Treaty was going through, we were told we could not change one word in it. We were not allowed to make the slightest alteration to the advantage of Ulster. Now we must carry that out to its logical conclusion, and we must not put in one word to the disadvantage of Ulster. That was the way the Conservative party were treated at the time the Treaty was going through Parliament. I think we were deceived. We were told one thing in the House of Commons and the Irish Free State people were told something quite different.
I cannot understand those hon. Members who have spoken to-night, and who spoke last night, who tell us that if this Bill does not go through Parliament of necessity the Treaty becomes a dead letter. I do not see any reason whatever why it should become a dead letter. I entirely agree with the remarks of the right hon. Member for the Scotland division of Liverpool when he said that we should leave the Irish people to settle this matter themselves. Why are we not doing that? By this Bill the English people are once more meddling with the Irish question. If we would only leave it to the Irish people and leave Sir James Craig and Mr. Cosgrave to meet—it might not be this year, it might be five years or 10 years hence—sooner or later they will come together and settle this matter to their mutual satisfaction.
The probabilities that will arise from the action which has been taken by the House of Commons during the last 24 hours are very serious. It may mean a bloody civil war. Such a contemplation is a terrible thing, and that was one of the reasons why I voted against the Bill last night. It was the only consistent thing that one could do, after having accepted the advice that was given to us in 1922. The spokesman of my party has said that the responsibility for what has been done rests upon the Government. It is a heavy responsibility. It is a responsibility that I should not like to have on my shoulders. I see the President of the Board of Trade on the Front Bench. I never look upon him as one of the revolutionaries who want to set things in disorder, but I say to him, as being the only Member of the Cabinet present, that the Government have taken a decision which may have the gravest consequences to the Empire and may produce the gravest trouble for this country.
I had not intended to intervene but the remarks which have been made by several speakers make me feel that, as a representative of an English constituency, I ought to say a few words. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Ferguson) has left the House, because I wish to refer to some of the remarks that he made when he accused us of being parties to a crime. Surely it is no crime to try to assist legislation which will bring peace to some part of our Dominions. We English Members have to judge from the speeches we have heard, such as the one just delivered by the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) which delved deeply into the history of this question. We have heard the views of the Front Bench and of the back bench and the views of representatives from the North of Ireland and the South of Ireland. The question as it appears to me resolves itself into a very simple one, and that is, is the boundary line to be drawn so that the people who live on either side of the boundary are going to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours? The Ulstermen, I take it, wish to be governed by the Parliament of Northern Ireland and the remainder of the people of Ireland, who are is the majority, wish to be governed by the Parliament of the Irish Free State. The question is as to where the line is to be drawn between these two sets of people.
It seems to me obvious that if we restrict the Commission in any way we may do an injustice to an Ulsterman or to a South of Ireland man. If we say that the rectification of the boundary only was intended. What do we mean by the rectification? Is it within a mile, within two miles, or within 10 miles of the present boundary? Is it to be decided by the natural geographical borders, or is it to alongside a stream or on the top of a mountain, or amongst the people who have different thoughts and who wish to be in a different community? That is a question which would be best decided by the Commission. I regret, and I am sure that other Members for English constituencies regret, that the people of Northern Ireland have not sent a representative to the Commission. As their advocate, he would probably be able to state their case better than any man appointed by the British Government.
Were we to lay down conditions for the Commission we might do incalculable harm to the people of Northern Ireland. There is a majority in this House, at any rate on this side, for the people of Southern Ireland, and the conditions we might lay down might be more favourable to the South of Ireland. If we are going to alter the Treaty, and the argument has been made from the other side of the House that we should restrict the Commission to a mere rectification of the boundary, surely the people of Southern Ireland are entitled to demand that we should alter it so as to take a larger view of the situation. They are as much entitled to demand that, as are the people of Northern Ireland entitled to put forward their demands.
With regard to the use of the word "loyalty," the loyalty of the North was exceptionally fine. I saw the Ulster division, and I never wish to see a finer, but at the same time, in our division, we had the Royal Munster men, who went away, not knowing whether they were going to be killed, to fight for the British flag. Those men are not represented in this House, and it is for us to be very careful to see, in so far as we who represent English constituencies can do so, that we do justice fairly between all, and after listening very carefully to the arguments which we have heard, I think that the best solution of the question is for this Commission to be left a free hand to draw the line fairly between the communities which desire to be included in the Free State and those which desire to be under the Parliament of Northern Ireland.
I have listened to Irish Debates in this House for many years, and with regard to the speeches delivered by Members of the Labour party in the present Debate, I must say that on the whole their tone has been unexceptional. I only wish that a similar spirit had been shown in the speeches delivered by the Liberals because they are out simply to embitter the situation. The whole trouble with which we are confronted in this House to-day is attributable to the clever dealing of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Last night hon. Members of this House heard the right hon. Gentleman state that he had given no pledge to Ulster with regard to the area of the six counties. Not only has he given a pledge but he gave it in his own handwriting, and I have seen the letter which he denied in this House that he had written. That is the sort of thing we have been up against with the right hon. Gentleman right through the whole case. In 1916 he gave a pledge to Sir Edward Carson and he gave a contrary pledge to the late Mr. Redmond, but this sort of double dealing cannot go on for very long, and the right hon. Gentleman is angry with us and with the House because his action has been found out.
But while the speeches from the Government Benches have been, on the whole, friendly, I would suggest that the action of the Government, whether they mean it or not, is not friendly. I am sure that there are no Members on the Government Benches, and there are very few on the benches behind them, who are not anxious for peace in Ireland. We who live in Ireland are just as anxious as they are for peace, and we know a great deal more about the country. I listened with amazement to some of the Liberal speeches. I thought that on their deathbed—because they have not a very long time to exist as a party—they would have tried to die decently. They have not done so, but do not let the members of the Government follow the example of the Liberal party. You are a young party. You are starting on your career. Do not follow the example of the bulk of the people below the Gangway, with regard to whom nobody ever knows, when they give a pledge, whether they mean or do not mean to carry it out. You ought to consider the conditions and ask yourselves whether the action which you are about to take now is really going to make for peace in Ireland. As one who knows Ireland, I say that it is not. You are going about a powder mine with a lighted candle.
From your action to-night very serious consequences may follow. I suppose that you do not know yourselves whether you are going to be the Government in the next two or three months. You do not know how long you can force your burden on the patient oxen, but if you are the Government in the next two or three months you will discover the mistake which you are making this week because, as I said in the Second Reading Debate, you have not treated us fairly. You have altered the Treaty which we were told would not be altered, and you have altered it to our disadvantage. When you were making a change for the benefit of the Free State, you should have made a change which would have carried out the intentions of the signatories to that agreement. You have not done that. As one hon. Member behind me said tonight, you are raising high hopes in Southern Ireland and you are raising fears in Northern Ireland, and believe me you are going to create a situation which I am sure, as responsible and honourable men, you will regret. I do not think that the Labour party is in the position, which the Liberal party is in, of seeking to fish in troubled waters or trying to set the heather on fire for political purposes. I do not think that you intend it, but undoubtedly that is what you are going to do, and I am sorry that you are going to play the political game of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. If you are wise, even now at the eleventh hour, you would change your mind and let things be settled differently, because this coercion Act of yours will never settle anything in Ireland.
The Colonial Secretary in the course of our Debates, said that he felt confident that this Bill was going to be passed because he knew that the majority of Members of this House were honourable men and were going to honour the agreement by which Parliament was bound. He used the word "honour'' several times as implying that those of us who vote against this Bill, as I intend to do in a very few minutes, were men of no honour at all, which, of course, is rather ridiculous, though it may perhaps give a wrong impression in the country. Of course, Parliament and the country are in honour bound to carry out the Treaty. Why then alter the Treaty? The Free Staters, Sinn Feiners, drew a bargain with the British Government of the day. They negotiated with all the arts and subtleties of which they were capable, and they struck a bargain which, at that time, I suppose, they considered a sufficiently good bargain, if not a specially good bargain. Since then it has been found that the bargain which they struck was not so good as they then imagined, and they are now coming to this House and asking that that bargain should be altered, and altered to their advantage, or, at any rate, to their supposed advantage. That, to my mind, is absolutely wrong. When a bargain has been struck it ought to be stuck to, whether for good or for evil, as the case may be. They wish to alter it, as they suppose to their advantage, because they appear to imagine that the Boundary Commission is likely to hand over to them large tracts of country.
If that be done, there can be no doubt that a storm of shot and shell is likely to arise over the decision. The present Government, supported, as they are, by a very large number of people who euphemistically call themselves anti-militarists, are supporting a policy which may stir up considerable strife and be followed by a great deal of bloodshed and horror. The Amendment would have improved the Bill. We are altering the Treaty. No one can deny that this alteration in the constitution of the Commission is an alteration of the Treaty. It is an alteration in favour of the Sinn Feiners as against the Loyalists of Ulster. In all probability the Commission will give a decision which can be described as rectification. Therefore, there would be no harm whatever done to anybody if the Amendment had been incorporated. The whole trouble arises from the fact that at the time when this so-called Treaty was negotiated we had the misfortune to have at the head of the Government a man who was not above giving two contrary promises at one and the same time to the two opposing sections in the dispute. What I rose to emphasise was the very grave injustice of the Secretary for the Colonies in stating that those of us who are opposing this Bill are acting dishonourably. We know that we are doing what is best in the interests of peace. This Bill cannot and will not lead to any peaceful settlement. The only pos- sible solution is to stick to the Treaty, to abide by a bargain and honourably to carry it out.
I listened to-day to a speech by the right hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). I can imagine no speech which is more likely to cause trouble. I might describe it as the 1920 speech. I have an idea that I have heard whole sections of it before. At any rate, it is exactly the sort of speech, dwelling upon sectarian differences and all that sort of thing, which is likely to cause trouble. The right hon. Gentleman accused Members on this side of going over to Ireland for 14 days and coming back and posing as authorities on Ireland. Not one of the speeches made by any of the hon. Members who went to Ireland has corresponded with that description. All those who went to Ireland have been at pains to show that they did not consider themselves authorities upon Irish questions as a whole—far from it We are merely people who went to see for ourselves. To accuse us of having gone along the border in order to raise trouble is a deliberate misstatement of fact. I have here the report of a speech which I made only the other day, sub sequent to the visit, at a great demonstration at Omagh. I will not weary the House by reading more than one sentence It was this:
You are on the right side. Be on your guard that you stay there. I warn you. no matter what the provocation may be, do not take the law into your own hands. When the testing time comes Ulster will not flinch.
I do not think that a speech of that sort is likely to cause trouble. The speech of the right hon. Member for the Scotland Division was not a fair speech. It was a speech which, by dwelling on sectarian differences, is likely to make peace more difficult of attainment. Every Member of this House should treat this question as one of very grave responsibility. Issues of life and death hang upon it. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has talked to us in terms of parishes. I wonder how many times he has been along the border and studied it first-hand for himself? lie seems to have a weird idea, which is shared by other hon. Members, that you have one complete and homogeneous
parish on one side of the border, and within one hundred yards or half a mile another equally homogeneous parish on the other side—on the one side Nationalist and on the other side Loyalist. The border is an arbitrary line 240 miles long, zig-zagging across country. It is not. a strategic frontier along a river or range of hills. It goes sometimes across the top of hills, sometimes through the middle of a field, sometimes through the middle of a house, and sometimes through the middle of a town. The populations are not homogeneous in the parishes along the border; they are all mixed up, and in some cases you get a predominance on one side and sometimes on another. Whatever the lines along which you draw this boundary, you are almost bound to do violence to the feeling of a certain number of people on the one side or the other. I submit that where you get a case of that sort it is absolutely vital to try to get the people themselves to agree. Even now, could not it be done? Could not a suggestion be thrown out to Sir James Craig and Mr. Cosgrave to discuss the suggestion that both sides should agree to a certain transference of the population? It will be very difficult. It may be beyond the power of one side to compensate the other. but I am perfectly certain it would be a suggestion well worth examining. It may have been examined; we do not know. If those two great Irish leaders were to put up some proposition of this sort to His Majesty's Government: "If you can help us through with the finance, if you can help us through with the transference of these people from one side of the border to the order, would it not be well worth the while of this country to examine a question of that sort?" There are whole sections of country on the border line, as at present drawn, where the population is mainly Sinn Fein and where the houses are painted Sinn Fein. They will be capable of easy adjustment from the other sections. There are other areas, such as the Letterkenny area of Donegal, which present the greatest possible difficulty, and the greatest difficulty might arise south of Lough Erne, which is about 50 miles long with a stretch of country where there are Northern Irishmen in one place and Free Staters in another.
Before the die is cast, before there is a ratification by the Free State Government, I appeal to His Majesty's Government now to examine the suggestion, if they have not already clone it. Do not turn it down incontinently. There is something in it. It might he worth the while of this country to spend a little money on it to get a peaceful settlement between North and South. We have discussed to-day the suggestion that we should put words into this Bill before the House defining the task of the Boundary Commission. It has been suggested that those of my party, the leaders of my party, who voted against a similar Amendment in 1922, have changed their ground because they supported such a suggestion to-day. I submit that that is a very unfair accusation. I suggest it for this reason. I have here an interview which was given by the North Eastern Boundary Commissioner in London only last week. His name is Mr. John MacNeill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. A. Chamberlain) and the right hon. Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) opposed a similar Amendment when the Treaty was going through. It is quite true for the right hon. Member for Colchester to say the situation was quite different. It is true that then the transference of territory had not been advocated. It is only recently that this great claim has been made, and this is what Mr. John MacNeill said last week. He was asked by the Press:
Do you think that the change as recommended by the Boundary Commission would be material?
and he said:
I certainly think the Free State Government believe that of the wishes of the population of adjoining counties are considered, as the Treaty provides, there will be more than a straightening out of the boundary line; it will he a substantial transference of territory although I do not wish to say how big a change it ought to be.
This should show to the House that it is not the signatories to the Treaty who have changed their ground, but the people of Southern Ireland. They are making a fresh demand, a dangerous demand. It is the existence of that demand that is standing between North and South to-day. The people of the North are obsessed by uncertainty of a fear of they do not know
what. Small wonder either. I submit that what we want to do is to allay their fears. We can do it in two or three ways to a certain extent, either by accepting such an Amendment as that before the House this afternoon or showing the people of the North, and the South, too, that they have nothing to fear if they can come together and arrange a settlement. I implore the Government to explore all avenues before they chuck up the sponge and set up a Boundary Commission. Let us be certain that every solution has been sought for and tried. I am not convinced that it has. I hope the Government, before the Bill has been through its stages in both Houses, will try and get the leaders together on the basis of some fresh proposal such as I have ventured to outline.
My Noble Friend has repeated a suggestion made earlier in the Debate by the hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Haden Guest)—that it might be possible to ease the situation in respect of any transfers of territory on the boundary line between North and South, if some arrangement were made for migration of population. My Noble Friend has said quite properly that that would be an operation of extreme difficulty, and that the cost might be considerable. I think the same solution has been proposed, and, to some extent, has been accepted in, I do not say similar problems, because I do not think we have had similar problems, but in somewhat cognate problems arising out of the territorial changes following the Great War. I have had no opportunity of consulting the hon. Friends with whom I habitually act. I speak for myself only when I say that I am so profoundly convinced that the interest of the Empire is peace, and that if a peaceful settlement can, in the long run, be facilitated by an appeal to the not inexhaustible pocket of the British taxpayer, I think he might make a worse investment than put up some money to facilitate such a settlement. I speak for myself only in that matter.
I am not sorry we are finishing our discussion to-night, but I am sorry that the fact that we shall finish it earlier than was expected will prevent my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition from taking the part which he intended to take on the Third Reading of the Bill. He is returning from fulfilling a public engagement. It was his intention to return on a night train, in order that he might be able to take part in this Debate. On the Second Reading he stated our position. He desired that an. Amendment should be moved, and that an effort should be made to alter in some respects the character of the Bill which is before the House. But he said that he was not prepared to advise his friends to take the responsibility of rejecting it upon Second Reading.
My position historically is a little different, in that I was a signatory to the. Treaty, and I may be perhaps of peculiar tenderness of conscience and peculiar diffidence in my action at the present moment. At any rate, it is only fair I should say that, unlike my right hon. Friend, but with his full assent, I was unable to support as he would have done the Amendment which was moved this afternoon. But I think there was a great deal to be said for that Amendment. I think there was everything to be said for the Government pressing that view upon the representatives of the Free State when the necessity arose to amend the Treaty. I do not know—and quite properly we have not been told —what passed in the private conferences. Private conference would become impossible if, afterwards, all that hail passed were to be revealed. I do not know what efforts the Government may have made in that direction, but I think there is great, force in the argument put by my hon. arid gallant Friend the leader of the Ulster representatives when he said, "That is what you ought to impress upon Mr. Cosgrave, and what you might not unreasonably have impressed upon him in the situation which has arisen."
That, however, is not the question which any of us have to ask ourselves now. The Government have brought in the Bill, and the House has passed it through Committee. I can conceive that the representatives of Ulster should at the last desire to record the dissent which they so strongly feel, and which is so strongly felt by those whom they represent. I do not for one moment criticise their attitude. I dare say if I stood in their position, and with their particular obligation. I should take exactly the same action myself. But I am not in that position, and I cannot conceive that, at this stage of the proceedings, whatever alternative we may think ought to have been tried, or ought to have been pressed with greater insistence, or ought to have been insisted on at an earlier stage, it would be wise that the House of Commons should reject the Bill now presented for Third Reading. For myself, and I speak for my colleagues on this bench, we cannot reconcile it with the gravity of the situation and the serious character of the issues at stake, to jeopardise the Bill on the Third Reading. [An HON. MEMBER: "Speak for yourself!"] I speak only for myself and those for whom I am authorised to speak. I did not, in the speech which I made yesterday, seek to conceal from the House my sense of the extreme difficulty of the problem with which the Government were confronted, nor did I hesitate to express my sense of the gravity of the decision which they took; but as my last word I urge them once again that they are making themselves under this Bill trustees of the High Court of Parliament for Ulster. Their duty, which they have discharged, as the British Government under the original Treaty, was only to nominate one. Commissioner, who was to be an impartial Commissioner, and the essence of his qualification was that he should be impartial. But they are now placing themselves in a wholly different position. They have nominated their impartial Commissioner, and no one has questioned his competence or his impartiality. The South of Ireland has nominated its representative. The Government are taking upon themselves the duty and obligation of nominating the representative of Ulster. They are bound to nominate, and the only hope of peace and agreement is that they should nominate, such a man as Ulster itself might have chosen had it been willing to do it, and I implore the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to stick to the decision, which he announced yesterday—that in this matter he would recognise the difference between the position of the Government when nominating the Chairman and the position of the Government when filling the vacancy which Ulster refused to fill, and that he would act in his choice as if he were an Ulsterman, to get the man who would have the confidence of Ulster, and who would represent real Ulster feeling.
I am sure there will be general agreement in the House that the. ultimate decision on this Bill should shortly be taken, and it is indeed very fitting that the last speeches should be, in tone and temper, equal to the first, because there has been general recognition of the fact that difficult, delicate and perhaps dangerous as may be the outcome of the legislation We are now discussing, no one can complain of the tone and temper of the Prime Minister's opening speech. And, after all, both the Southern Irishmen and the Ulster Irishmen can at least get some satisfaction out of this Debate. Those of us privileged to take part in past Debates on Ireland cannot help but contrast the feeling and temper and atmosphere of the last three days. I was present in this House when a different atmosphere existed on this question, and the moral that I would draw would be this: First, to Ulster: "You may feel not only strongly but bitterly that those in whom you had faith have let you down." That, I understand, is the feeling of the Ulstermen. The Southern Irishmen may say: "You made a Treaty, you entered into an obligation with us, and there were certain people in Parliament who tried to break it." I would say to both of them. that the last three days clearly demonstrate that the Members of the House of Commons, regardless of party, regardless of their particular past in this matter, are genuinely anxious to do justice to both. That cannot be other than something that must influence those who, we will determine by this Bill, are to have the final word. It is not for us to dictate; that is not our business. But they cannot, I repeat, be other than impressed with the sense of responsibility of this House when it says. "Your job, above all else, is not to re-open a wound, not to create strife, but, above all, to bring some lasting peace to this vexed question." That is the spirit and the temper of the House of Commons. That is the desire of us all, because I refuse to believe that in any quarter of the House, although war and strife have been talked, there is anybody who in his heart is not genuinely anxious that this question should be solved for all time.
My right hon. Friend is entitled to put the two questions that he has put to me. The first is: Do I, in my last words, still endorse what I said last night? I not only repeat that, but I emphasise quite deliberately what I said this afternoon. Whatever may be the fate of Motions to be discussed next week, the Prime Minister announced, in introducing this Bill, that we did not intend to make any party capital out of it. No matter what circumstances may arise, we intend to put this Bill on the Statute Book. That I make clear and definite, but, in making it clear, I also want to say this: We are at this moment, or will be when this Bill is passed, the trustee., as my right hon. Friend said, of Ulster in this matter, that is to say, the Commissioner whom we are taking power to appoint is not, and must not be, the representative of the British Government. He has to be the substitute for the Commissioner that Ulster refused to appoint. I undertake, and I say here and now, not only to this House, but to another place, clearly and definitely, that we accept that trust. We shall discharge I hat trust, and we shall endeavour in our choice to convey not only to Ulster, but to the whole world, not only our impartiality, but to choose someone, so that Ulster, having refused that obligation, will at least be able to say to us: "You did the best you could in a very difficult and delicate situation.", That is, my answer to the first question.
The second question is as to there being no difference amongst Irishmen. As I said last night, my long experience with Irishmen always convinced me that they may disagree on all matters, but they are united in getting money out of the British Treasury. In my old Trade Union connection in many of our branches there used to be a stock phrase, "There is plenty of money in London," and my right hon. Friend now puts this position. Supposing the Boundary Commission decides, after full and impartial investigation, and with a genuine desire to give effect both to the letter and the spirit of the Treaty, which I hope will bring permanent peace, that it would be in the interests of certain people to be transferred from one territory to another. That transfer, apart from removing individuals from the North to the South, or from the South to the North, must, by the very nature of things, affect their economic or industrial situation. It may be, for instance, that a farmer may find himself transferred from one place to another. You cannot talk about the mere transferring of individuals and ignore the fact that their very livelihood is at stake. I gather the object of the question my right hon. Friend put, and put also by the hon. Gentleman representing Ulster, as to what position the British Government occupies in regard to that necessary and legitimate point —and I emphasise "legitimate," because having had experience of dealing with a number of claims from Ireland, I feel bound to say that they have never minimised the very material advantages, and it is conceivable that they would attempt to do it in the present case—under those circumstances, my right hon. Friend put it to me: What would be the position of the Government? Clearly there is much to be said for the position put by my right hon. Friend and ether Members. Equally I cannot bind the Government at this stage. Obviously, I cannot bind the Government, except to say that I fully understand, appreciate and sympathise with the difficulty. I have always said, and I say now, that much as we have contributed in money to Ireland, that to bring about a lasting peace a few pounds would indeed be a very cheap bargain. I cannot say more, except that I quite appreciate, and will explain to my colleagues the whole situation, with a view to giving it the attention it deserves.
I hope, therefore, that we shall now take the Division. I do not know what the fate of this Bill may be in another place. It is due from me to say very clearly and definitely now what is the intention of the Government. They have produced this Bill in the last resort, and we intend it to be carried. It is not a Measure merely introduced to be rejected. It is in our judgment essential and necessary. We hope, therefore, that it will receive the Royal Assent before very long. It is our intention to see that it is carried into law. We stand or fall by that position. I only hope that the same spirit and the same good feeling that has been manifested during the last three days will continue to the end. The value of this good feeling, the passionate anxiety of all sections in this House to do justice to North and South will, I trust, be interpreted aright by those determining the ultimate destiny of this people. Above all, I trust that Irishmen, North and South, will recognise that the British House of Commons, however reluctantly they may have been driven to this course, was anxious not to coerce the North or to do injustice to the South, but was only
|Division No. 199.]||AYES.||[10.36 p.m.|
|Ackroyd, T. R.||Gillett, George M.||March, S.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Gorman, William||Marley, James|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Gosling, Harry||Martin, W. H (Dumbarton)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Gould, Frederick (Somerset, Frome)||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Alden, Percy||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maxton, James|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Greenall, T.||Middleton, G.|
|Alstead, R.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Mills, J. E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Mond, H.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Grigg, Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward W. M.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Attlee, Major Clement R.||Groves, T.||Morrison. Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Ayles, w. H.||Grundy, T. W.||Morse, W. E.|
|Banton, G.||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Mosley, Oswald|
|Barclay, R. Noton||Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Moulton, Major Fletcher|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Muir, John W.|
|Barnes, A.||Harbison, Thomas James S.||Murray, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Harbord, Arthur||Murrell, Frank|
|Becker, Harry||Hardie, George D.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Harney, E. A.||Nichol, Robert|
|Birkett, W. N.||Harris, John (Hackney, North)||Nixon, H.|
|Bonwick, A.||Harris, Percy A.||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Briant, Frank||Harvey, T. E. (Dewsbury)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Broad, F. A.||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Oliver, P. M. (Manchester, Blackley)|
|Bromfield, William||Hastings, Somerville (Reading)||Owen, Major G.|
|Brown, A. E. (Warwick, Rugby)||Hayes, John Henry||Paling, W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Healy, Cahir||Palmer, E. T.|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, A. (Cardiff, South)||Perry, S. F.|
|Buckle, J||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Hillary, A. E.||Phillipps, Vivian|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hindle, F.||Pilkington, R. R.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hirst, G. H.||Potts, John S.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hobhouse, A. L.||Purcell, A. A|
|Clarke, A||Hodge, Lieut.-Colonel J. P. (Preston)||Raffan, P. W.|
|Climie, R.||Hogge, James Myles||Raffety, F. W.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hore-Belisha, Major Leslie||Ramage, Captain Cecil Beresford|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hudson, J. H.||Rathbone, Hugh R.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Isaacs, G. A.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Compton, Joseph||Jackson, R. F. (Ipswich)||Rea, W. Russell|
|Costello, L. W. J.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Cove, W. G.||Jewson, Dorothea||Richards, R.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Crittall, V. G.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Ritson, J.|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Jones, C. Sydney (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F.O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne)||Robertson, J (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Davies, G. M. Lloyd (Welsh Univ.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Robinson, S. W. (Essex, Chelmsford)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Robinson, W. E. (Burslem)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. (Bradford, E.)||Romeril, H. G.|
|Dickie, Captain J. P.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)||Rudkin, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. C.|
|Dickson, T.||Kennedy, T,||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)|
|Dodds, S. R.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Duckworth, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Seely, H. M. (Norfolk, Eastern)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kirkwood, D.||Sexton, James|
|Dukes, C.||Lansbury, George||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Duncan, C.||Laverack, F. J.||Sherwood, George Henry|
|Dunn, J. Freeman||Law, A.||Shinwell, Emanuel|
|Dunnico, H.||Lawrence, Susan (East Ham, North)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Leach, W.||Simon, E. D.(Manchester, Withington)|
|Edwards, G. (Norfolk, Southern)||Lee, F.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Egan, W. H.||Lessing, E.||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Livingstone, A. M.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Finney, V. H.||Loverseed, J. F.||Smillie, Robert|
|Fletcher, Lieut. Com. R. T. H.||Lowth, T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Foot, Isaac||Lunn, William||Smith, T. (Pontefract)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McCrae, Sir George||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, North)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J.R.(Aberavon)||Spence, R.|
|Gavan-Duffy, Thomas||Mackinder, W.||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|George, Major G. L. (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Maden, H.||Spoor, B. G.|
|Stamford, T. W.||Tout, W. J.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Starmer, Sir Charles||Turner, Ben||Williams, Lt.-Col. T.S.B.(Kennington)|
|Stephen, Campbell||Turner-Samuels, M.||Williams, Maj. A. S.(Kent, Sevenoaks)|
|Stewart, Maj. R. S. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Varley, Frank B.||Williams, T (York, Don Valley)|
|Sturrock, J. Leng||Viant, S. P.||Willison, H.|
|Sullivan, J.||Vivian, H.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Sunlight, J.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Warne, G. H.||Windsor, Walter|
|Tattersall, J. L.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Thompson, Piers G. (Torquay)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Wright, W.|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Westwood, J.||Young, Andrew (Glasgow, Partick)|
|Thornton, Maxwell R.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Thurtle, E.||Whiteley, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Tillett, Benjamin||Wignall, James||Mr. Frederick Hall and Mr. Allen|
|Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, A. (York, W.R., Sowerby)||Parkinson.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William James||Gretton, Colonel John||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Apsley, Lord||Hall, Lieut.-Colonel, Sir F. (Dulwich)||Plelou, D. P.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Harland, A.||Rankin, James S|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Hogbin, Henry Cairns||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Berry, Sir George||Hobler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Hood, Sir Joseph||Remer, J. R.|
|Bourne, Robert Croft||Howard, Hn. D.(Cumberland, Northrn.)||Remnant, Sir James|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)||Richardson, Lt.-Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Savery, S. S.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Lorlmer, H. D.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford||M'Connell, Thomas E.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.||McLean, Major A.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-In-Furness)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Mansel, Sir Courtenay||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Meller, R. J.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Meyler, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden)||Wells, S. R.|
|Dixon, Herbert||Moles, Thomas||Weston, John Wakefield|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Morrison-Bell, Major Sir A. C.(Honiton)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Wragg, Herbert|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monleith||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Yate, Colonel Sir Charles Edward|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Ferguson, H.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Sir Malcolm Macnaghten and Captain Viscount Curzon.|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Penny, Frederick George|
Question put, and agreed to.