Supplementary Estimates. - International Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armaments—Motion of Approval.

I move:—

That the Dáil approves of the International Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armament signed at London on the 22nd day of April, 1930, a copy of which was laid on the Table of the Dáil on the 3rd December, 1930, and recommends the Executive Council to take the necessary steps to ratify the said Treaty.

I do not intend to examine at all the details of this Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armaments. It has been before the House since 3rd December and Deputies had sufficient time to examine the details for themselves. As a matter of fact, the details with regard to ships, tonnage, etc., do not concern us very much. What does concern us is the attempt, the successful attempt, that has been made at least to get some measure of agreement with regard to the limitation of armaments even though it is confined to one sphere of warfare. I think it will be recognised that the fact that success has been achieved is due to the fact that a better approach was made to the question of disarmament in naval matters after certain political agreements had been reached. Attempts had been made previously to bring about disarmament on land as well as on sea but those with regard to naval agreements had not been very successful. There had been one rather successful one, but the effect had been somewhat spoiled by the abortive attempt made in 1927. Even though success had been achieved at the earlier Washington Conference, the points on which there was disagreement rather excited the nations of the world to compete again in building the class of vessels in which they were still allowed to compete.

At the London Conference this time there was a much better atmosphere, due almost entirely to the fact that better political agreements had been reached amongst the nations, arising out of the fact that the Kellogg Pact in particular had been signed, and that the Optional Clause had been adhered to by so many of the nations associated in the League of Nations. In addition, the majority of the nations of the world had bound themselves through their association at Geneva, not merely to defend one another against an aggressor in time of war, but to cut off all connection both by way of finance and commerce with an aggressor State. With the better hope arising from all these considerations that a new attitude would be taken up on the question of navies if people believed sincerely in the Kellogg Pact and in these other international agreements, their navies were no longer to be looked upon as instruments of aggression, or, at least, as instruments for an aggressive policy. War had been denounced, and all that was thereafter required was that a navy and every type of armament should be regarded merely as a method of defence against an aggressor State, if any State had become aggressive and broke the peace of the world.

In these circumstances this Conference met and substantial agreement on very important details was reached. As far as certain portions of this Treaty are concerned, two Powers associated with it in other parts failed to make agreement, but it was understood at the time that the London Conference broke up that these conversations had not been abandoned but deferred. It was hoped that, subsequently, agreement would be reached as between these two States, and that the Treaty would become a full Treaty as between all the contracting parties.

We were invited to take part in the Conference. We were very pleased to have the invitation extended to us, and equally pleased to have the chance of attending, though, as I have said, we are not immediately interested in the question of scrapping ships or of limitation by way of tonnage or otherwise. We were pleased that the invitation had been extended to us, particularly when we learned that a great country, the United States, was specially concerned that this Conference should meet, that the nations invited should assemble, and that we as one nation should be there. We felt that to abandon the Conference at that point, and to say that we were not interested would have been flaunting indifference in the face of the United States on a matter that vitally concerned them.

As a small nation we must, of course, have a very deep interest in anything that will lead to the preservation of peace as opposed to the emergence of war conditions. For these reasons we were pleased to accept and to attend, holding that our constitutional position, the one other point that had to be attended to, was safeguarded throughout the Treaty. As this is a Treaty which is in the general interest of international peace, even although it may not go the whole way people expect from it, we recommend it to the Dáil.

With anything that has been done to help forward the idea of international peace and the limitation of armaments we, on this side, are in full accord. We would be very glad indeed that a great deal more could be done and that the Conference should not have been restricted to one sphere of, shall I say, military activity. During the time that this Treaty was being negotiated, and since, I read in both the American Press and in the Press of Europe a considerable amount of criticism of it, particularly with regard to the limited extent to which the nations that were in consultation had been induced to go in for limiting their armaments. In fact, I think it can be truthfully said in the case of some nations that an international Treaty for the limitation of and a reduction in naval armaments means, in effect, the giving, for some time at least to these nations an increase in their naval armaments. Therefore, while it is officially called a Treaty for the Limitation and Reduction of Naval Armaments, as it is in fact from certain standpoints, it is in other respects a Treaty which empowers these nations to increase their armaments. So far as the Treaty goes in the limitation of armaments, limiting the power for evil, so to speak, of navies, it is all to the good.

I suppose it was meant as a compliment, and was taken as such by the Free State Government, to be invited to be present at this Conference and to assist in bringing its work to fruition. In so far as the nations concerned meant it as a compliment, I am sure the Free State Government appreciated it. In that connection, I notice that the preamble to the document before us says in the first paragraph:—"The President of the United States of America, the President of the French Republic, his Majesty the King of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India," and so forth.

I was under the impression that the title "Ireland" had no constitutional or legal significance after the setting up of the Irish Free State and the Northern Government. I was under the impression, perhaps I am wrong, that as representing an entity, recognised constitutionally and legally, Ireland no longer existed, but here we find that the King of England claims Ireland as part of his territory. Therefore, in the eyes of the King of England and of the British Empire— evidently for the purpose of the King and his title—the name of Ireland does exist, but so far as we in this country are concerned Ireland no longer exists. It is the Irish Free State and the Northern Government, but Ireland has gone out of existence as far as legal and constitutional matters are concerned.

I know there has been some change in the style and title of his Majesty the King of England. I am not very certain what that is, but I suppose as we find it here we have the proper title now. I would merely call attention to the fact that when it suits the purpose of the British Empire they keep Ireland and recognise it constitutionally for the King's title and other purposes. They can recognise Ireland as one single entity, but when it suits their purpose, not for the limitation of armaments and not for limiting the powers of the British Empire, they forget Ireland or at least they ignore it and cut it in two. They set up two legal entities obliterating Ireland and set up the Irish Free State so called and the Government of Northern Ireland.

I hope it was not merely to bolster up the title of the King of England with any power, constitutional or otherwise, over this country that the Free State consented to act, that when they received an invitation to act on this conference it was not with any idea of associating themselves with the King of Great Britain in his capacity of King of Ireland and the claim of his constitutional power over Ireland, as is claimed in this title. I hope it was not with the intention of bolstering up that power the Government of the Free State consented to take part in the conference. The Minister will, perhaps, explain the mind of the Ministry with regard to that aspect of the matter when he is replying.

It is, as the Minister says, true that they have little interest in this beyond the interest of every citizen who desires international peace. Beyond that we have little interest in the details set out in this document. We know there is a considerable list of vessels, in some cases, to be scrapped, or that are to be applied to other purposes. That is all to the good if the idea behind it is that we should get, perhaps by easy stages but nevertheless some day, to the condition that navies will be used, as the Minister says, not for aggression but purely as instruments of defence. I am rather doubtful if we will arrive at that stage, and I think we will have to arrive at the millennium before we arrive at the stage when navies will not be used by those who are powerful enough to use them as instruments of aggression. We have heard over and over again countries that have large navies state that the best form of defence is to be well armed against attack, but it is also, I think, recognised that those who are very well armed against attack are very frequently looking out for opportunities to test the efficiency of their armaments. However, we do not in any way question the bona fides of some of the nations that have associated themselves by their signatories with this Treaty.

We have no navy, and we are hardly likely to have one. No one would suggest that the gun-boat we have, I think there is a gun on it, the Muirchu, would form the basis of a navy for this country, but some time or another perhaps we will arrive at a stage when we will have power and money and the means of defence of our own coast, and especially of our own fishermen and their boats, and, let us hope, have our ships that will fly the Irish Republican flag at sea. Apropos of the publication of this document by the Irish Free State, I read a leading article in what I suppose is one of the organs of the Free State Ministry, and certainly it is one of their ablest defenders. That paper was very much upset at the principles maintained in this document that is now to be ratified by us. The paper says in this leading article published in Monday's issue:—

"When the programme is completed"—the programme of the limitation of armaments—"the London Treaty will have had no effect save to transfer the supremacy of the sea from Great Britain to the United States. The balance of naval power will have shifted, but the project of international peace will be no closer than before. What will happen when the people of Great Britain realise that their birthright has been assigned away?"

Seeing that the Minister was so deeply immersed in Imperial affairs recently, I wonder what were the reactions of the Minister, Imperial-minded as he must be in these days, to the sentiments expressed in that organ, I would not say of his, but that expresses the mind of his Ministry so frequently. Undoubtedly there were matters other than affairs relating to commerce and economics and constitutional matters discussed at that Imperial Conference. The question of the defence of the Empire must have been one of the questions discussed, and the Minister, as head of the delegation over there, I am sure, took part in such discussions as to how the Empire, and the Free State as part of it, was to be defended, perhaps against America and other countries in days to come. Articles of a similar nature to the one I have quoted appeared in other papers, and I think there was one recently in the "Sunday Times," which, I am sure, the Minister sees. They expressed grave fears with regard to the outcome, so far as the British Empire is concerned, of this naval treaty and the passing, as they suggest there will be a passing, of the domination of the seas eventually from Great Britain to America as a result of this treaty.

I am sure the Minister must have given thought to that matter, for no doubt as one of the pillars of the Empire he is concerned. I would like to know if he has any views to express on that aspect of the question, as to how he thinks the future might be affected so far as his interests in his Imperial capacity are concerned as regards the Empire and the Free State considered from the point of view of national defence. At any rate, speaking for myself, I would not hesitate to say that as far as Ireland is concerned, she would have nothing to fear if the hegemony of the seas did go into the hands of the United States. In the past the United States has been to us more of a friend, and a great friend at times, than an enemy. If we have anything to fear from any of these nations, by past experience there is only one we have to fear. As far as I know, at any rate, we would not worry if such a change did take place, but perhaps in view of his recent Imperial associations and developments the Minister might be of a different mind. If he is, I would be glad to hear what he has to say.

I would be glad if the Minister, when concluding, would inform us what are the necessary steps for the ratification of the Treaty.

I am glad to see that Deputy O'Kelly has changed his mind in this matter of war and peace. When last we discussed the ratification of the Kellogg Pact in this House, after one of his supporters had indulged in a long speech of abuse against the American people and denounced them as being hypocrites, the Deputy himself got up to announce that his Party stood definitely for war. To-night he has improved his mind. He stated clearly in his opening statement that he and his Party were always in full accord with anything that promoted a spirit of national peace——

And disarmament.

Yes, and disarmament. The Deputy seemed to be a bit confused as regards the preamble to the Treaty. After the Imperial Conference of 1926, it was made quite clear that the title of the King as head of the Commonwealth was not a title differentiating different sections of the Commonwealth, but was a geographical title, and therefore the term King of Great Britain and Ireland and the British Dominions Beyond The Seas was purely expressing a geographical and not a political entity. For instance, there is not such a person to-day as the King of England, who is frequently referred to in this House and on platforms in the country. There is no King of England. I think it is very satisfactory that we should have had the honour to participate in this Conference, and I regret that the Minister for External Affairs has taken so long to bring this matter before the Dáil, because I think it is almost bordering on discourtesy to the other nations who signed this Treaty and who are more vitally interested than we are ourselves in its passage to have that Treaty held up by a country which has no navy. It is obviously for the benefit of this country that we should do everything possible to promote peace, seeing that without peace it is absolutely impossible for us to take any part in the development of Atlantic communications through which there is a future for this country.

There has been a danger in recent years that whereas previously the people of this country thought of little else in the world except England, now they are inclined to think of no other part of the world except Europe. Some Irishmen in America imagine that the only countries in the world are this country and America, so that to that extent a large number of our people are divided amongst themselves; some look upon us as exclusively European and others look upon us as being simply an appendage of the United States of America.

We must at all costs try to think Atlantically and try to preserve the balance between the European and American aspects of our national life. That will be the first step towards ultimately obtaining that wider outlook and thinking universally in view of the widespread diffusion of our race throughout the globe. I hope that the Dáil will unanimously pass this Motion. We regret that the Minister did not introduce it sooner than he has done.

So far as my voice can affect it the Motion will not be passed unanimously. I rise to protest against the continuance of the farce which started with the Kellogg Pact to which Deputy Esmonde made reference and which is changed now in the various Conventions which we have before us in recent months and which has culminated in the bringing to this House to-night for ratification the Naval Pact for the limitation and reduction of naval armaments.

The Minister when recommending the adoption of the Pact to the Dáil stated that success had been achieved this time, and Deputy Esmonde said that it was a great honour to have participated in the Conference which led to the signing of this Treaty. I think that the Dáil would be far better occupied in devoting its attention to matters affecting the direct welfare of the people of this country than in attempting to assist the British Empire in bolstering up its rotten and decaying structure. This Treaty for the limitation and reduction of naval armaments is, in my opinion, a monument to Ramsay MacDonald's failure in the matter of world peace, but it is also a monument to Ramsay MacDonald's genius in retaining British control of the seas.

Deputy O'Kelly quoted from some editorial Statement in which the writer bemoaned the passing from British hands of control of the seas. Anybody who has given any thought to the study of this Treaty, and anybody who has followed the discussion which took place during it and prior to it at the preparatory Disarmament Commission in Geneva, cannot fail to be struck by the kernel of the whole document. Article 21, paragraph 3, which, though the Treaty was negotiated by five Powers, does not apply to France or Italy, says:—

If during the term of the present Treaty the requirements of the national security of any of the high contracting parties in respect of vessels of war limited by Part II. of the present Treaty are, in the opinion of that party, materially affected by new construction of any Powers other than those joining in Part III. of this Treaty, that high contracting party will notify the other parties to Part III. as to the increase required to be made in its own tonnage within one or more of the categories of such vessels of war, specifying particularly the proposed increase and the reasons therefor, and shall be entitled to make such increase...

If the success of naval limitation which the Minister has spoken of means anything, it means that this naval pact continues the eye-wash of the preparatory Commission for Disarmament at Geneva enabled a smoke-screen to be thrown about this question of control of the seas to such an extent that we have here a recommendation brought forward that we should assist Great Britain to maintain that control. I ask what interest has this partitioned part of Ireland in assisting to maintain British control of the seas? What interest have we in seeing whether the British retain control of the sea or not? It should be clearly the advantage of the State, while there is a state of war existing between us and England, to see that British control of the seas is abolished. Yet in this naval treaty, when ratified by the Dáil, we, as a component part of the British Empire and a constituent State of the British Commonwealth of Nations, add our signature, through Professor Smiddy, and assist in creating the illusion that naval security and limitation has at last been reached. The Minister stated that it was a good thing that we are being asked to assist in the discussion. and Deputy Esmonde stated that it was a compliment to the Free State to have been asked to take part in it. I think it is time that the Dáil faces up to the facts and refuses to continue this farce which has been perpetrated here to-night.

At the preparatory Disarmament Conference in Geneva three or four years ago a proposal for real disarmament was put up by the Soviet delegation. That proposal was the abolition of the navies and armaments of the world. It was revolutionary undoubtedly. That proposal was ridiculed and laughed out of court. Two years later at the London Naval Conference a proposal tending towards the same objective of limitation and reduction in the tonnage of battleships from 35,000 to 10,000 was also ridiculed out of court. This Treaty is supposed to have secured comparative naval security and disarmament. Part 2 of Article 6, also a very interesting section, deals with the one recognised and generally accepted inhuman weapon of modern war—submarines. All arrangements have been made for them, for their tonnage, displacement, armaments and number.

Surely the Minister does not mean to insist that this Treaty is really what he describes as a success? Surely we have the situation occurring in England that the Treaty ratified by the Irish Free State Parliament—the ratification of it—will be deposited in order to show the civilised people of the world that this little part of Ireland at all events is vastly and immensely interested in world peace. Whilst all that apparent attempt at securing world peace is going on, surely we must consider what is happening behind the scenes. We must consider this message from the United States on the occasion of the laying of the keel of a new thirty-thousand tons American trade liner. In the course of a speech on that occasion made by one of the delegates to the London Naval Conference— Senator Dwight Morrow—it was stated that the building of an adequate merchant marine was essential to American commerce and security. Senator Morrow added that his experience at the London Naval Conference convinced him that the most indisputable interest which the United States Government had in building an adequate merchant marine was to have a secondary defence in time of war. The London Naval Pact, we are told, leads us further on the road to peace. The Kellogg Pact led us further on the road to peace also. We have, on the other hand, statements of this nature which absolutely belie the whole atmosphere that permeated the London Naval Conference. They give food for thought to anyone who tries to penetrate that smoke-screen and paper wall set up by the five great Powers and their component parts, including the Irish Free State.

The one thing, I think, the Dáil seems to forget in dealing with this naval treaty—and it is deplorable that it should forget it—is that whilst we are here engaged in discussing an international agreement of this nature, and while the Minister will afterwards, probably, refer in cynical language, as he did on the occasion of the Kellogg Pact debate, to anyone who had the daring or the cold brazen cheek to express a point of view which is not that of the Minister, we cannot get away from the fact that war budgets are being increased. While all this talk about peace and security and naval limitation and disarmament is going on the war budgets of five of the largest Powers have been increased ever since the London Naval Pact was under discussion. Strange to say, the home of the Kellogg Pact has been foremost in ensuring that its war budget shall not lag behind. It is time we got away from the atmosphere of international agreements which do not and cannot affect the Free State. This Pact would have no effect on our international relations, because Britain retains the control of the seas. Britain is still master. Following the Washington Conference 600,000 tons of American war vessels went to the bottom of the sea, and it was only afterwards the Americans realised that they had been bluffed by John Bull. The Irish Free State, through its representative, is lending itself to the continuance of this hypocrisy. I want to protest against the ratification of this Naval Pact. Whether or not there is anybody in the House with me in this matter, I wish to have it on record that I am against the continuance of this procedure.

When I saw that the Order Paper to-day included this proposal for an international treaty I went outside to see if we had a new flag up. I thought there would be a terrible hymn of joy. I am sure the unfortunate fishermen around our coasts, who looked to our Minister for External Affairs, when he went to London, to be in some way interested in preventing foreign trawlers from raiding our bays and harbours, will be delighted to know that instead of anything in the way of protection for them we have a new naval agreement. I am sure the whole country will be delighted at this product of the Minister's visit to Buckingham Palace where he had luncheons and dinners towards which the unfortunate taxpayers have to contribute £10,000 a year. I am sure the unfortunate workers in Cork, when they see Furlong's now selling foreign flour—140 lbs. sacks made in England—will be very grateful to the Minister for External Affairs, and they will be anxious to know how many inches he proposes to take off the old gun on the Muirchu. Apparently that is a more important matter than looking after the Cork flour mills or the fishermen who are being robbed of fish around our coasts.

I do not think there could be anything more nonsensical than a gentleman taking £1,700 of the people's money coming in here with this proposal, with a Relief Vote of £300,000 tacked on to it. On top of that we have the fact that after ten days' work we are going off for another holiday. There could not be anything more contemptible. Does the Minister think that he will be let get away with this thing? I wonder if under this Treaty for the limitation and reduction of naval armaments we are going to take away the shells that are not fit to be used on our naval patrol boat for the protection of the fish? Are we going to take 1¼ inches off the gun on the Muirchu that fires no shells? I would like to hear from the Minister what contribution we are going to make out of our navy towards this proposed reduction in armaments. It will be interesting to find that out. I am sure this proposal will be extremely satisfactory to the unfortunate fishermen and our flour workers, upon whom, some time ago, the eagle eye of the Minister—just like the eagle eye of the Skibbereen Eagle—was pitched. The Minister was using his eagle eye in order to see that Ranks would do no harm. While the flour mills are closed the Minister goes to London and dines with the Prince of Wales and helps to reduce the naval armaments. I wonder what would those who fought and who were executed in Easter Week—Pearse, or any of his comrades—think of this thing to-night? I wonder what they would think of the Minister? In my opinion, the Minister is beneath the contempt of any decent man.

It took me until to-night to discover why Deputy Mullins had left the Fianna Fáil Party. We get it pretty clear that he thinks this Treaty is one that gives the control of sea power more and more into the hands of Great Britain. Deputy O'Kelly believes it does not, and believes that the hegemony of the seas has passed to another country. I am asked a lot about my Imperialism. If it has resulted in the passage of sea power to the United States of America I leave people to judge it by that afterwards. Deputy O'Kelly is rather anxious as to whether navies will ever be looked upon as instruments of defence. It was by reason of people being such doubting Thomases before the war that the war occurred. It is because there is such a point of view operating at the moment in world matters that there is some better regard for peace and the things which lead to peace.

Even if we do not get to that stage at once it is well to make the attempt. That is a point on which Deputy O'Kelly seems to be in line with Deputy Mullins's point of view. Deputy Mullins is apparently very wroth over things that lead to peace. I suppose the Deputy will not put his faith on the road that will lead to the Workers of the World Commonwealth Conference, because he cannot get there to-morrow. The comments made on this are that we have not got a navy, that we have not got general disarmament and, therefore, this Treaty is to be disregarded. This Treaty has been defended on two grounds by those who are interested directly in naval limitation. It was defended first on the ground that it prevents for the future, between people who are most interested, competition in building; it limits competition of the type that want on before the war. It is limiting building to a certain type, a certain maximum tonnage, and these two things alone are well worth having and have been sufficient to get this Treaty approved of by all the people who are recited in the Preamble of the Treaty, excepting this country to-day. Deputy O'Kelly is anxious about the title of the King. The title of the King used here is the official title of the King; it is the one to which we agreed and the one by which we recognise him at the moment. Deputy Mullins used one phrase that I want to take exception to. He talked of this as a Five Power Conference and that only three Powers signed. It is nowhere so stated. It was a conference representative of eleven countries. I do not know whether we are to claim for ourselves the title of Power in regard to naval matters, but there were eleven States represented there. There was no question of a Five Power or a Three Power Pact.

Does the Minister deny that the leading advocates of the Treaty were the British Commonwealth, France, Italy, Japan and the United States?

I cannot agree as to who are the leading advocates.

And were not the remainder of the eleven States made up of the British Commonwealth of Nations?

That is clearly set out.

They were there for their advice.

I wonder was that an intelligent observation?

You are so much abroad you cannot understand. You understand Portuguese better.

There were eleven nations concerned, and until the eleven ratifications have been deposited this Treaty cannot take effect. Complaint has actually been made that we alone of these countries are preventing the operation of this Treaty, because we have not yet ratified it. There are eleven peoples concerned, and there is no question of a Five or a Three Power Pact.

Is it not a fact that the Treaty cannot come into full effect until France and Italy have also signed without reservations?

No. As far as France and Italy are concerned, they are completely out of a certain part of it. The Deputy is getting away from the point of eleven peoples as against the Three-Power or Five-Power Pact. We are possibly not one of what the Deputy calls the Five Powers or the Three Powers. Yet if we do not ratify, the Treaty cannot come into effect. That surely ought to be conclusive for the Deputy.

It does not get away from the fact that the British Empire is composed of the balance.

One component State.

No. If it is one component State, here is the test. Great Britain has ratified. We have not. If we do not ratify, this Treaty does not take effect. It is stated here and the Deputy can read it. As to the steps for ratification, the instrument of ratification will be prepared on the advice of, I think, the Executive Council. It might be by myself or another Minister or the Executive Council. The instrument of ratification is then prepared, and bears in the recital itself that it has been done with the approval of the Dáil and Seanad of this country. Ratification is, of course, in the name of the King.

Deputy Esmonde raised a point to which I want to refer. He complained that we have been dilatory in bringing this matter into the Dáil. That complaint cannot be made at the moment. I think if the Deputy understood the circumstances he would admit there is an explanation of the delay. We were not ready to have this discussion when the Dáil was last in session and there seemed to be no immediate necessity to have it brought forward because at that time the Japanese Government were very slow about ratification. We thought the delays which seemed likely to ensue in the Japanese ratification would carry us over until the reassembly of the Dáil. As a matter of fact, when the Japanese Government got this accepted we made an attempt by approach to two of the other Parties in this House to get leave to ratify it, assuring those two Parties that this would be the first motion to be brought before the Dáil on its reassembly, as we did not want to appear discourteous to the other countries. Our neglect of ratification was the only thing that prevented the Treaty becoming operative. We did our level best to get ratification earlier but it was not possible. The date which seemed to be the vital date passed before we could get anything done. In these circumstances there was no necessity to hurry it beyond the date of the assembly of the Preparatory Conference on Disarmament.

As regards Deputy Corry, I do not think it is worth while replying. I was glad to see that his Party realised that his intervention would not be very effective and sent him out on some childish errand, to see was the flag flying or something of that kind. It was a pity the Deputy did not stop out longer. On the other hand, his presence here does lend something to the House. The depths to which he can get rather raise the general level of the House.

It would be hard to raise you.

Motion put and declared carried.