Emergency Imposition of Duties Bill, 1932—Second Stage. (Debate Resumed).

I notice the usual emigration. It is the custom of members on the opposite side of the House, especially on the Front Bench, to attack individual Deputies in their absence, and to clear out, as readily as possible, when they are attacked by Deputies in their presence. It has been their custom to attack members on this side of the House when they could not be followed and carefully to avoid attacking them when they could be followed. I would be very glad indeed—enthusiastically glad—if we could put this debate to-day upon lines of co-operation between men recognising the real difficulty of the position, recognising the fact that right does not mean that the solution of the problem will be upon your side, but upon the basis of those who recognise that, however, right their cause may be that the other man has a horse-shoe in his glove for luck. I would be glad to put it on the basis of recognising that it is a stupid and wrong thing that this country and Great Britain should now, at this late date, follow the example of the criminal lunacy of the world in the last 17 years, by which the whole brains and activity of the Governments of the world have been used for breaking the channels of trade and cultural connection, one with another. I would be very glad indeed to do that. We on this side of the House would be glad to co-operate on these lines. But how can we? I put it to any fair-minded and honest man, how can we assume that that co-operation will be given, and sincerely carried out, in view of the statement of Deputy Blythe that if negotiations of any kind which are now taking place, break down, it will be the fault of the Free State? I want you to face that issue. I want you to face the facts that in the name of the Party opposite an undertaking has been sent to the world that, before the verdict is given, before these critical and difficult negotiations—because though they are entered into to come to a solution, they will be very difficult—were entered into they are saying to the world that unless we come to a satisfactory solution the fault is ours.

Who is going to take the responsibility of saying that that is not a criminal utterance? You cut the heart out of it. Now what is the position of England in a matter of that kind? There is no man in this House who is less prejudiced against England than I am. There is no man who is more willing to recognise that while she has her point of view, in these and other matters, as she is entitled to have, there is no man more willing to recognise her physical and material and financial strength. They will be all thrown into the contest. Brennus threw the sword into the scale in Rome, in the old days, and these people will throw the sword, and the banks and their money and the whole of their political influence and political affiliations, all over the world, into the scale against us. I recognise the difference. What we do need is to go into such a contest with all our power, with our armour upon us. And above all do we need to go into that contest with the knowledge that our own people are sound behind us, and as advocates of our own people, united. What sort of a position is ours if we go into court knowing that there is an organised party here in this country, backed by the whole of the old garrison with their control of the economic avenues in this country, prepared to say, and having said, in this Dáil, that if the negotiations break down the Free State was wrongab initio? What is to be the position if we go into these negotiations bound to come to a settlement, or in other words to admit that we are the people responsible for having failed? What they are asking us to recognise is that they have behind them, in this country, people who are going to compel us to come to a settlement, at any price, or who will go out into the country and organise by every means in their power the destruction of those who refuse to come to a solution unless it is a reasonable and proper one. I do, deliberately put on record again, even at this eleventh hour for the repudiation of the whole of Cumann na nGaedheal, that statement of Ernest Blythe, that statement that cut to the heart of our position, that statement which would be fatal to our position if it were not a fact that Deputy Blythe and that small section of his own Party or of his organisation, for which he speaks, no longer represents anything behind it which could regiment the will and the purpose of the Irish people.

You had a very different statement, a statement which I willingly welcome and it does not come from someone in favour of whom I can be accused of having any personal prejudice, nor does it come from one from whom I have ever received any courtesy in this or any other debate. It comes from Deputy Hogan of Galway. Deputy Hogan of Galway said that we were in a position to make a good settlement. What did he mean by that? I want him to tell us. Remember that the first position was that no single penny of these annuities belong to us. That was the original position of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, that not merely did they not belong to us but that the attempt to get a legal decision as to whom they did belong was embezzlement. Now we are told that a good settlement can be made by us. What does he mean? Does he mean that a very large proportion of the total amount which has already ille-gally passed over to the hands of the British Government can be restored to us? Does he mean that while we might have to throw that portion of thirty millions over the windmill, it is possible for us to get a solution by which the present and the future product of the land annuities will remain with us? Is that what he means? Is that what he is prepared to help to do? If it is, he has made a statement which will help to wipe out the shame and the degradation of Blythe's statement before. I want to develop that position a little.

On a point of order, it is laid down in the Standing Orders of the House that, to avoid vituperation, Deputies shall refer to one another as "Deputy Blythe" or "Deputy Dillon." I emphatically protest against the Parliamentary Secretary referring to another Member of the House as "Blythe."

It does happen that Deputies often make a mistake.

It was no mistake.

He is incorrigible.

I am not in a position to say whether it was a mistake or otherwise, but it has to be remembered that the manner Deputy Dillon suggests is the proper way to refer to Deputies.

I am extremely sorry that through inadvertence I used the name without the prefix. I had no intention of any kind or description in leaving it out. Deputy Hogan said that not merely were we in a position to make a good settlement, a statement which must mean that we can retain some considerable amount if not the whole of the land annuities in our possession —but he went further and he said that we were in a better position to make that settlement than the preceding Government. What did he mean by that? I think that there is a certain amount of truth in that, and I think that it is a significant and a valuable statement if he stood behind it. Things do not happen suddenly; they evolve. That Government was in occupation of the position it held for a period of ten years. It had certain relations built up out of the necessity of the civil war and the accommodation which it had received from the British Government, financial, military and personal, during that time. There were all sorts of agreements and understandings in existence. Functions were built up between them, and again I want to be quite fair to them. In the hurly-burly of discussion, in the attempt to defend their position against attacks from their opponents politically they said:—"We are bound to say things which would not be put in exactly the same terms in which we would have said them if such a condition had not existed." The mere fact that another political party was demanding, as a right, the retention of the annuities in this country, the mere fact that another party was attacking them, attacking them as bad servants and bad stewards of the estate, for not having retained those annuities, meant that in answer to that attack they, undoubtedly, had to say things, possibly had to say things, politics being what they were, of a kind which stated a case which was more extreme than the case that they wanted to believe. Let us assume for a moment that in reality they thought that this was a doubtful case, but that they could not admit that it was a doubtful case in face of their opponents. They had to use much stronger language in repudiation than they would if they had been perfectly free. They had to produce arguments which, possibly, they otherwise would not have to produce. They were committed so deeply to the retention of the land annuities that it was probably quite impossible for them successfully to initiate a movement for their retention.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary allow me to interrupt him for an instant? I am sorry to have to do so but we got an intimation on these benches that the Parliamentary Secretary would not take five minutes. He has already taken a quarter of an hour.

I was not aware of that but I shall come to a conclusion at once. I am very anxious indeed that what was valuable in the statement of Deputy Hogan—the possibility of settlement, the possibility of co-operation in that settlement, the possibility of our position being more useful in making a settlement—should be accepted by the other people. We are asking them to put behind us the assistance which will enable us to do what possibly they could not have done.

I shall only take up the time of the House for a few minutes. This is the first opportunity I have had of listening to a full length speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and I feel that he is a brave man. He is a brave man to ridicule and mimic the speeches of the Opposition, because in all friendliness I must say that I never heard a style of speaking more open to mimicry and ridicule than the rotund oratory of the Parliamentary Secretary. It seems to me— although my withers are unwrung for I have not previously spoken—that the Parliamentary Secretary's complaints against the opponents of this Bill are unreasonable and inconsistent. At one moment he rebukes them for the undue melancholy of the views they take of the present crisis. In the next moment he insists that the British, in bringing on this crisis, have struck a blow to please the Opposition. On the preceding day we had a statement made by Deputy Cleary that the Opposition were chuckling and delighted at what had taken place. I think the Government Deputies ought to make up their minds on which leg they are standing when vilifying the motives of the Opposition in this matter.

We are all being asked to rally round the Government. The great question is—what are we to rally round them about? The interrogation put by Deputy Hogan cannot really be too often repeated. What is the point at issue? Where have they got to with the British Government in these discussions? Has there been up to the present any discussion as to the merits of the case? We have not heard of it at all. The Government have been a long time in office and now we find ourselves on the verge of an economic war with Great Britain. I want to ask the Government here, what I should ask the British Government if I were a member of the House of Commons, what has been said of the merits of the case in this discussion? It looks very much from all we know as if we have been brought here to the verge of a ruinous economic war without the merits of the case having been discussed at all.

A few weeks ago the Minister for Finance started a suggestion that it was the duty of the Opposition and the duty of the Independent members to fall in behind the Government and to help them in this issue. I pointed out at the time that so far we had no opportunity whatever of considering the matter in this House since this Dáil began. I then suggested a secret session should be held so that every Deputy would be able to speak his mind without fear of presenting arguments to the other party in the dispute. That suggestion was not adopted by the Government and I remain in doubt as to where the justice of this question lies. No one of us has been given an opportunity of co-operating in obtaining a satisfactory settlement. We are asked to-day to rally round the Government but as far as I can make out rallying around the Government simply consists in an attitude of open-mouthed admiration of the Government and in giving them complete and implicit confidence, a confidence which they have given us absolutely no reason for entrusting them with.

Now, sir, there is no doubt that it would be a tremendous boon to this country to save £5,000,000 a year. But I do not think there is anything to be gained by presenting the matter in a form that cannot deceive anyone who looks even superficially at the facts of the case. As I say we have not had the advantage of a discussion in this House on this matter and therefore I am subject to correction in the few statements I wish to make. Of that £5,000,000 I believe I am approximately correct in saying that about £2,000,000 comes back to this country; that about one and a quarter millions comes back in the shape of interest on land stock held in this country and that about another three-quarters of a million comes back in the shape of R.I.C. pensions given to people in this country. I believe it is also true that the British Government pay European War pensions to residents in the Free State which amount to about £2,000,000 a year.

If these facts are true it follows that we are only exciting public opinion unnecessarily in this country by representing that our life blood is being drained out to the tune of £5,000,000 a year, when in fact if you set off these items against each other it is a matter of £1,000,000. If those facts are true it also follows that if we succeed in retaining £5,000,000 here, as God knows I hope we shall, we shall in effect be getting a subsidy from Great Britain. If we do succeed in getting a subsidy of some millions a year from Great Britain as indeed was proposed under the Home Rule Bill of 1912 I for one would be only too delighted. But I see no reason for confusing the facts of the case and for exciting our people by representing things in a more gloomy light than is justifiable.

The Deputy is doing his bit for England.

In reply to that interruption—and I do not know that it is worth replying to—

Mr. Hogan

Hear, hear!

The Deputy will reply to it if he can.

The Deputy should be allowed to speak without interruption.

I am perfectly sure that nobody sitting on the Front Bench on the Government side would suggest that I had said one single word that could embarrass the Government in their negotiations. I am grateful to the Minister for Finance for his assent.

The Deputy has been doing nothing else since he stood on his feet but making England's case.

Deputy MacDermot must be allowed to continue his speech without interruption.

Does the Front Bench acquiesce in these interruptions?

Deputy Anthony should mind his own business.

That is worthy of the Deputy.

Let me say that if any Minister finds anything I am saying is detrimental to Ireland's case, and indicate it, I will stop on that heading at once.

They have not the pluck to say it.

They are Ministers and not censors.

Give a sermon now.

Another matter can be referred to without danger of prejudicing our case in any negotiations, a matter which might excite public opinion here unduly. The President has invited us to multiply by the figure 66. I do not know whether this represents the true ratio to-day between British taxable capacity and Irish taxable capacity. I should doubt very much if it does, because since that figure was arrived at the assets of Great Britain in foreign countries have enormously depreciated. But whether it is exact or not, if we excite ourselves by multiplying by 66 the so-called tribute, it is necessary, in order to preserve our sense of proportion, to multiply certain other things by 66 also. For example, if we want to consider the value to us of the British market we ought to multiply by 66 the £30,000,000 of exports we send to the British market. We ought to multiply by 66 the dividends and the interest that residents in the Irish Free State receive from British investments, and we ought to bear in mind on that basis what we jeopardise if we really engage in economic war. It might also be relevant when considering the question of economy in this country— perhaps not strictly relevant to this Bill—to multiply by 66 the revenue the unfortunate taxpayers in this country are called upon to bear, and to consider how enormous our expenditure is on that basis. It might give a good deal of impetus to the campaign for economy which I certainly desire to encourage.

I do not know what the proposals are that have brought the President over to London. I can give a guess, as anyone can give a guess. My guess is that something is being proposed on the lines proposed by the Labour Party in the British House of Commons about a fortnight ago, that there should be some body formed, consisting of representatives of either country, to examine the whole facts of the case, not an arbitration Tribunal but a sort of Commission to examine and report, and that on the basis of that report there should be either negotiation or arbitration. I do not know which. That would be my guess. I hope the Government will be assured that they will have the earnest support of everybody, I should think, amongst the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, and amongst the Independents certainly, in any effort they make to have this question settled on peaceful and reasonable lines. During the General Election I constantly urged settlement of this matter by arbitration. I predicted what I still believe to be true, that if we were to deal with this matter, merely by withholding this sum of money, we should do terrible damage to the country's credit. It is no use talking, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance did last night, as if we were simply paying something over to a bigger man with a bigger stick. After all, there is actually an agreement between two Ministers for Finance, and the world at large is accustomed to pay regard to agreements arrived at between two Ministers representing two countries, whether or not such agreement was ratified by the Legislatures. I do not say whether that agreement was justified or not, but a certain agreement was made. To disregard such an agreement without some independent corroboration of our case is certainly liable to affect the credit of this country.

I also stated that such action might lead to economic war. I thought if England did deal with the matter by putting duties on our goods she would commit a folly. I still think she committed a folly in putting duties on our goods. But, I pointed out that if you made people angry enough they were willing to hurt themselves in the effort to hurt you. I think it will be scarcely denied by anybody—whether we were right in doing so or not—that we have done plenty since the Dáil assembled calculated to make the English angry. If we have an economic war I am one of those who regard it as a calamity. It will do enormous harm to the British, but I believe it will do infinitely more harm to our own people. If I were an Englishman I would prefer to settle this matter by drawing the name of the arbitrator out of a hat than having an economic war, and, as an Irishman, I feel exactly the same. In fact, I would prefer to settle the whole thing by the toss of a coin rather than having an economic war. For that reason, I implore the Government to beware of pig-headedness and fanaticism and to think of the sufferings of our own people.

When I listen to speeches that are intended to rouse up the war spirit in this country, when I listen to the exploded principle advocated by the Minister for Defence this morning, that the best way to secure peace is to prepare for war, my mind inevitably goes back to the European War. I should have thought that that was sufficiently disproved; the old thing we used to write essays about in our schoolboy days, that the best way to secure peace was to prepare for war. Sir, in listening to such a speech as the President made the day before yesterday, my mind does go back to August, 1914, when I saw bands of youths parading the streets of London cheering for war, and when I thought of Sir Robert Walpole's saying, "To-day they are ringing their bells; very soon, they will be wringing their hands." I also remember the incitements then received by the various Governments of Europe from all the mischievous fools that encumber this planet, urging them to stand firm; to stand by their rights. They did stand by their rights. They stood by them nobly. What was the result? Unspeakable misery, millions of people killed, and the civilisation of the world laid in ruins.

We are told to-day that the duty of every Irishman is plain. I think it is plain. Of the two women who stood before the judgement seat of Solomon which was the true mother—the one who was so combative, who was so obstinate, and so fond of an irrevocable decision, that she was prepared to see the baby cut in two, or was it the other one? Which is the true Irishman to-day? The one who seeks applause from the Irish race, or the more unthinking members of the Irish race at home and abroad, by beating the drums of war, or the one who struggles in spite of misrepresentations to avert the catastrophe that threatens us? For my part, I leave to the people who are more Irish than the Irish themselves, the honour of that tough-fibred patriotism which considers the present crisis a blessing in disguise. Hitler in Germany, President de Valera in Ireland, the spurious mother before the judgment seat of Solomon. I can see no difference in principle between the three. I think it will be a happy day in this country when we discard once and for all the habit of fussing and blustering about our national rights and when we turn our thoughts to the true interests of our people.

I should like to congratulate the Deputy who has just spoken on the very sensible speech he has made and on the temperate tone which he adopted in that speech throughout. While there are those who can stand on the ditch and applaud what is going on in the arena, it is the unfortunate people in the arena who are going to suffer, who are suffering, and who have already suffered in connection with this matter. There are three phases of this question. The first phase was presented to the people when it was stated that we had a right to the land annuities and that we were going to hold them until Britain proved her legal right to them. The people were not told that in the event of a dispute arising out of the presentation and settlement of that legal right, the economic fabric of this country was going to be disturbed and that there was going to be a war on an economic basis between the two countries; that the business of the country would be upset; that small and large farmers would be seriously hampered in their business and that some of them might be broken. No such intimation was given to the people of this country. They were led to believe that this was a matter that could be settled easily, legally and favourably. What is the history of this whole business of the Land Commission annuities? During the period that the Party opposite was in the wilderness, when they were solving the national question by burning houses, all these questions came up for consideration. What were these questions? Not the Land Commission annuities or the R.I.C. pensions, but Article 5 of the Treaty which laid down our responsibility for the service of the public debt of Great Britain and the war pensions being paid by Great Britain. Not until 1926, when our liability in respect of these two items had been wiped out, did we hear anything about our rights to hold the Land Commission annuities or about the Act of 1920. Not until our liability for pensions payable by Great Britain in Great Britain and in this country was wiped out did we hear anything about our legal rights to hold the Land Commission annuities. When the Attorney-General of this State points out that a secret document was signed, and attempts to delude the people of this country by saying that no confirmation of that was got from the people, that is deceit, nothing less than deceit and political corruption of the first class. In this House in 1923 members representing the people were informed regarding every item which affected the people in that instrument. They were told what their liability was. In the Appropriation Bill, passed through this House, there was a sum for Land Commission annuities plus our responsibility for excess and bonus stock. There is no use in misleading or attempting to mislead the people in describing as a secret document, kept from the people, what was actually disclosed in both Houses and paid according to the sanction and under the law of this country. So it was in 1926, when the then Minister for Finance undertook to discharge in full, without deduction of income tax our liability for Land Commission annuities. Why was that done? Because there had been a most favourable financial settlement made in respect of double income tax between this country and Great Britain—a more favourable settlement than any country has with any other. No other member of the British Commonwealth of Nations has such a favourable financial settlement made with Britain in respect of the return of income tax as this country has. I should like to know whether, if this measure is passed into law, any attempt will be made to interrupt that most favourable arrangement.

In the year 1729, in the Irish Parliament held in the Bluecoat School and reported in the earlier almanacs of this country but excluded from the later ones, there is a report of an attempt in that Parliament by the British Minister to get twenty-one years' supply. That was beaten by a single vote. This Parliament is asked to-day to pass a Bill which will give the Minister or the administration power for all time to collect any money required to run the affairs of this country. There will be no further necessity to impose taxation when this Bill is in the hands of any administration. We are not told whether or not any of the restrictions which are in the British Bill are going to be observed in the administration of this measure. We are not told that there is going to be any care taken in respect of the vital interests of the people of this country in the attack upon the British—whether or not efforts will be made to ease the burdens on the people. The Bill might almost be said to be a perpetual measure for imposing taxation. If it passes into law, giving such powers to the administration, you can roll up your Parliament. There will be no necessity to meet here any more.

We have not been told that the Government proposes to use these powers with any discretion. We have not been told that they are only going to raise a certain amount of money. For what purpose is the money required? The Ministry is holding the Land Commission annuities. Is this money to be given to the farmers who are going to lose the price of their produce by reason of the tax in Great Britain? Is there any suspensory fund which will reimburse the farmers for any loss occasioned in connection with the British Act? Is there any indication as to what use will be made of the revenue in the event of any revenue being derived from the operation of this measure, and if no revenue is going to be collected, what is the use of it? Is the purpose of this measure purely and simply to keep out British-manufactured goods from this country? If that be the reason, if there is no possible chance, by reason of the impositions under this Act, of British goods coming in here, what are the farmers and business people here going to pay for other goods? What about business, commerce and the industry of agriculture in this country struggling under the weight of such impositions? When this measure was first introduced as a White Paper, there was no limitation in respect of the period in which one of these impositions would run. On second thoughts, the Ministry produced an eight months' variation. They will endeavour to satisfy the people by stating that the measure only runs for eight months. What is the meaning of the eight months? After seven months and twenty-seven days the order can be reimposed—on the twenty-eighth day after the seventh month. So it runs from one time to another. We are being asked, 203 years after the previous demand was made, to give, not twenty-one years' supply, but supply for all time. We may be told that they do not intend to use that power, but we have not been told that. We have not been told by any Minister the limitations there may be in respect of this instrument. We have not been told what is the meaning of "excise licence." An excise licence might be required from me to-morrow morning to come in from my residence. A stamp duty might be placed on my tram or bus ticket or a duty might be required in respect of a motor car, if I travelled in it.

We have not been told that they do not intend to do so. "Impose, whether with or without qualifications, limitations, allowances, exemptions, or preferential rates, an excise duty on any particular matter or thing as from any specified day and, for the purpose of such duty, require the taking out of a licence for the doing of any particular thing." What is the meaning of that? We have not been told. We have had three or four Ministerial speeches, and not one of them, I am informed, dealt directly with what is in that measure. What are the excise licences for and what are they to be restricted for? The Constitution of this State is not worth the paper it is written on if that measure passes into law.

"Impose, whether with or without qualifications, limitations, allowances, exemptions, or preferential rates, a stamp duty on any particular description of document or transaction as from any specified day and, for the purpose of such duty, require a document or a particular form of document to be used in or in connection with any particular description of transaction."

They could impose a document on the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, and insist on his signing it and insist on a stamp duty being paid before he would be allowed into that Chair. They could impose on him, if they wished, a stamp duty compelling him to pay £1,000 before he gets up there.

£1,000 out of his £700.

And so on. That is what the Labour Party are here to support to-day, to a man—the apostles of freedom and the apostles of democratic right and the apostles of those who hold that Parliamentary control should be supreme. What is the title of the Bill?—"An Act to authorise the Executive Council to impose, vary and remove by order customs duties, excise duties and stamp duties."

What is the proposal for it?—"This is a measure to empower us to fight the British and any man who denounces this, any man who does not support this, is playing the English game."

That is a great description. We were not invited at the general election to enter into an economic war with Great Britain. Not at all—the man who would say that was playing the English game. We were slipped into it and, having been slipped into it, we are invited to unite so that we will be able to suffer with the others, and while the unfortunate farmers are bound to suffer by reason of this immediate trouble we are in——

Why does the Deputy not condemn the people who started the economic war?

The Labour Party.

You said that you had got in twenty-four hours what you had been looking for and you have it in that Bill.

While the unfortunate farmers are losing their money in connection with this business, Ministers are drawing their salaries. Deputy Davin is drawing two—one from his ordinary employment and one here.

And you drew yours while you robbed them.

Certainly.

That expression "robbed" will be withdrawn at once.

It comes very well, anyhow.

I withdraw the word "robbed."

Might I suggest that Deputy Cosgrave has made an improper observation in regard to Deputy Davin, and that he, too, ought to withdraw it?

I do not mind it.

I can only ask a Deputy to withdraw what I heard. I did not hear Deputy Cosgrave's remark.

Did I say anything offensive to Deputy Davin?

The Deputy can say anything he likes.

I have never been offensive and I do not want to be offensive. If there is anything offensive in what I said, let me hear it, and, if Deputy Davin considers it offensive, I will withdraw it.

Deputy Davin says it is nothing. Go ahead.

A measure, even if it were only to put us in as strong a position as the British, is necessary, in these circumstances. These circumstances, in my view, should never have been allowed to arise. Those who are trustees in respect of defenceless people ought not to allow those defenceless people to be made the sport of politics, and the most defenceless people in this country are going to suffer most in respect of this thing. 200,000 farmers in this country have uneconomic holdings. The whole average in respect of Land Commission annuities amounts to £10 per holding. Just imagine a man in the City of Dublin having a house the valuation of which is £10,—that is the value of the average agricultural holding in this country and the measure that is put before us, to put us in the same position as the British, has none of the peculiarities of the British position. What is the sum of money that is required? What is the policy behind it?

When, as I said, a few moments ago, we relieved this country by means of our responsibility for administration of a liability in respect of the service of the National Debt of Great Britain and of war pensions, we arrived at this position in this country—

And a large part of the Six Counties, too.

That, comparing us with the people on the Continent, there were no reparations, no inter-governmental debt in respect of the war but there was this matter of the Land Commission annuities for which this country was liable, and the Parliament of this State was so informed, and was informed, when we were putting before the Parliament the acceptance of our agreement in respect of Article 5, that we still had the liability in respect of the Land Commission annuities. Not only that, but the fact is that, while the service of the cost of the interest and sinking fund on land stock amounted to £4,100,000, and we collected only £2,930,000 in Land Commission annuities, we only paid, in respect of the excess on the bonus stock, £134,500 annually, and the British people are taxed annually, and it is in their estimates for this year, to the extent of £971,780 in respect of the excess on the bonus stock. That is the position and the people are entitled to know it. When we read legal opinions in respect of Land Commission annuities, signed by the Attorney-General, amongst others, that this was a lost asset in 1920-21, and that the Dáil made a decree that the Land Commission annuities should not be paid, then, I say that our legal case, if that be the basis of it, is in very poor hands.

I want to draw your attention, sir, to an observation made by Deputy Minch. So far as I could understand, he accused this Party, by an observation, of being under the control of the British Labour Party. I deny it and I ask him either to justify that statement in this House or outside it or withdraw it.

It has nothing to do with the Chair or with this Bill.

The Deputy has no right to make such an observation no more than I have to say that he is under the control of the British Legion.

The Deputy is not fit to touch the British Legion.

Let the Deputy withdraw it.

I stand up for the British Legion in this House or outside this House. Don't forget the 49,000 Irishmen dead in Flanders.

Deputy Minch will conduct himself and allow the question to be put.

Am I to understand that nobody else is to get leave to speak on this?

The House has already decided and the Chair has no power to vary that decision.

Deputy Flinn has already spoken twice.

The House has decided, and the Chair has no power to vary a decision of the House.

Have I, as an independent member, no right to speak on this very important Bill, which affects the lives and liberties of the farmers of this country——

Deputies

Chair! Chair!

Deputy Coburn will resume his seat.

I have been elected to this House, independent of the great parties here, and I have a right to speak on this Bill.

The House has decided and I would ask the Deputy to sit down.

This is only the Second Reading of the Bill.

I do not care what closure there is. What right have those fellows on the opposite side to speak three or four times? (Interruption). I want to reply to the Minister for Defence when he speaks about men being starved.

The Deputy can speak later on.

He should have thought of that when he blew up Dundalk.

You should have been in it.

Question put.
[The Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]
The Dáil divided: Tá, 68; Níl, 57.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Bryan.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Clery, Mícheál.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Curran, Patrick Joseph.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Gormley, Francis.
  • Gorry, Patrick Joseph.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan Patrick (Clare).
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Raphael Patrick.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas J.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Powell, Thomas P.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sexton, Martin.
  • Sheehy, Timothy.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Brasier, Brooke.
  • Broderick, William Jos.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margaret.
  • Conlon, Martin.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Shaughnessy, John Joseph.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, Thomas A.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Gorey, Denis John.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Keating, John.
  • Keogh, Myles.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McDonogh, Fred.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Reynolds, Mrs. Mary.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Shaw, Patrick Walter.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
  • White, John.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies G. Boland and Allen; Níl: Deputies Duggan and P. S. Doyle.
Question proposed—"That the Bill do now pass."
Bill put through Committee without amendment and received for final consideration.

I want to ask the Minister a question. Could the House have an assurance that this Bill, if passed, will be repealed immediately the constitution of the proposed Court and its terms of reference have been agreed upon by the Dáil?

It is not the desire of the Government that this Bill should remain in force one moment longer than is necessary. I should be prepared to give the assurance required by Deputy Davin, that the Bill would be repealed if agreement were reached as to the composition of the proposed arbitration tribunal and the terms of reference thereto, and if the agreement were ratified by the Dáil, and if the British Government repealed the penal legislation which they have enacted within the last few days against this country.

I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but reference has been made to me by Deputy Cosgrave. He has charged me with deceit, inasmuch as I stated that the agreement of 1923, which has been mentioned in this discussion, was kept secret and deliberately kept secret. Why Deputy Cosgrave should make that charge against me I cannot conceive. It is pretty difficult to understand. It must be due to either of two causes. Either I have misread or completely misunderstood the documents which are on a file which I have here beside me, or Deputy Cosgrave was unaware of the correspondence which was passing between his Government and the British Government.

I have referred to this matter before, and I have been hesitant about referring to files in any Department. I do not know whether it is proper to refer to them now, but I think that if Deputy Cosgrave did keep in touch with the Department, or if he asked Deputy Blythe, under whose hand some of the letters passed and under whose hand the telegrams passed, whether the statement I made was correct, he would tell him my statement was true. I presume Deputy Cosgrave referred to the statement I made in a speech at Templemore some considerable time ago. If Deputy Cosgrave had asked Deputy Blythe or Deputy Hogan whether my statement was true or not—again, unless I misunderstood and am unable to interpret the English language as used by those Deputies in their correspondence or by their officials under their authority—I believe they would have assured him the statement I made was absolutely true.

What statement?

Without even going so far as that, I think I could refer Deputy Cosgrave to an answer which he gave in this House, when he was actually asked for the text of this agreement. He was asked in 1926 by Deputy Conor Hogan when it was proposed to publish the terms of the agreement, and his answer was that the matter was under consideration and that it and other agreements would be published at some later time. The question was asked on 3rd February, 1926:

Mr. Conor Hogan asked the President whether the text of the Financial Agreement of 12th February, 1923, entered into between the Government of the Saorstát on the one hand and the British Government on the other, and containing,inter alia, provisions as to the collection and disbursement of moneys advanced under the Land Purchase Acts, 1881-1909, will be communicated to the Dáil.

Here is the answer of the man who said that the terms of this agreement were revealed in 1923——

I never said that. I said that so far as the agreement for the payment of the annuities to the British was concerned, that was revealed expressly in the Dáil in 1923. Whether the agreement was secret or not, so far as that agreement provided for the payment of the annuities to the British by us, that was revealed in the Dáil in 1923. Stick to that point.

I am dealing with Deputy Cosgrave now.

Mr. Hogan

That is what Deputy Cosgrave said, too.

I will deal with Deputy Hogan in a moment. Here is the answer made by the ex-President to Deputy Conor Hogan in 1926:—

The President: The Government have recently been considering this question and several kindred matters. A decision has not yet been reached, but I hope to be able to give the Deputy a definite answer before very long.

Did he ever give that answer?

May I intervene for a moment? There were several other matters besides the land annuities and the contribution towards the excess stock in that agreement. Those other matters had not been finally dealt with then. If the Attorney-General will look up that particular arrangement he will find there was a sum in respect of liability for railroads and other matters that were not then decided. So far as my statement is concerned, the statement as regards the secret document which had reference to the Land Commission annuities and to the excess on bonus stock, that was disclosed to the House in June, 1923, and in July, 1923.

Mr. Hogan

Is that right?

I am not going to allow myself to be taken off the point by such a slick attempt to get away from the statement which Deputy Cosgrave charged me with making deceitfully. I stated in Templemore that the 1923 Financial Agreement, which is the root cause of all the trouble here, was kept secret and deliberately kept secret. That was my statement and that is the statement upon which Deputy Cosgrave bases his charge of deceit.

Certainly.

Mr. Hogan

With the consent of the Attorney-General, may I ask him one question? Did he mean to convey to the people then that the agreement, in so far as it related to the land purchase annuities, was kept secret? Did he mean to convey that to the people? Will the Attorney-General answer that question?

I will deal in one moment with the question of whether this agreement, so far as it referred to the land purchase annuities in addition, was kept secret or not. I am dealing now with the statement in which Deputy Cosgrave charged me with deceit.

And adhere to.

Mr. Maguire

And adhere to. Well, I am very much surprised and sorry that Deputy Cosgrave, in view of his own answer given in this House, in which he promised that the terms of this agreement would be made public, which promises were never fulfilled, and to which I was obviously referring, should still charge me with deceit. I have repeated two or three times already the statement which I made and that was that the only argument, relied upon, I believe, for the first time by the British, was that this agreement was deliberately kept secret for nine years. The very same charge was made in the British House of Commons the other day—that it was kept from the Table of the British House of Commons. That agreement was—I repeat it—deliberately kept secret at the request of this Government here.

You cannot deny that.

Cannot deny what?

That the agreement was deliberately kept secret at the request of the Irish Free State Government.

The agreement was disclosed, as proved by the records of this House, when the Deputy was "on the run."

I can refresh the Attorney-General's memory. He will find it in Volume 3, column 2498 of the Official Reports.

Let the Attorney-General make his speech.

Mr. Maguire

I am coming to that as I promised. We have been charged here with creating a situation which is causing considerable disturbance. Whatever we are doing we are not going to enter into any more secret agreements dealing with the finances of this country.

Although I could score a heavy political advantage, were I to read the correspondence and telegrams on this file, I will not read them, in order to avoid causing further bitterness; but will content myself with saying— Deputy Cosgrave seems to smile and sneer as if he wishes to goad me into reading the telegrams and dispatches from this side of the water that were sent to prevent the London people from publishing certain parts and conceal them from the people of this country. Apparently, he thinks that that is a matter for mirth. The British Government were charged in the very same way by members in the British House of Commons with having been, to some extent, responsible for the trouble that has been created by assenting to the thing and keeping these things secret from the British Parliament and people. So far as the land annuities are concerned, the Deputies who have seen the correspondence between the two countries will see that the British claim for the payment of the annuities is based on this agreement. They put their cards on the table in their dispatch and they quote—I confess for the first time did I see it—the text of the agreement upon which they reply. Deputy Hogan says that all this was revealed to the Dáil and he is very anxious to have that proved to the House. Everybody knows that when this agreement of 1923 was entered into there was a state of things in this country and there were conditions here which enabled transactions of this kind to be carried out without the attention of the people being called to them. I do not want to go into past history or to rake it up at all. I only want to remind the people, who wish to criticise us, to remember the position that obtained here in 1923. I see that the debate in the Dáil on the 1923 Act is followed by a Public Safety Act. In the early months of 1923 the Free State Constitution had just been passed—it had only been passed about five or six weeks—when a message came from London that there were certain financial matters to be cleared up. Certain emissaries were sent across the water, and without any mandate even from the late elected Dáil, without any subsequent ratification, this particular agreement was entered into. When the Land Act came before the Dáil, Deputy Hogan, I presume, was then in charge of the Land Act. Did he tell the House, at any stage, that under this secret agreement the terms of any land legislation to be passed in this country were subject to the approval of the British Government?

Not likely.

Mr. Maguire

One of the terms of this agreement was as follows:—

"The terms of any new scheme which the Free State Government may propose to enact after such consultation with landlords and tenants as they may think necessary shall be subject to the concurrence of the British Government in consideration of the guarantee mentioned below."

That is right.

That is what was secret—not the annuities. Which leg are you standing on?

Mr. Maguire

I do not understand what the interruptions are intended to gain for the Opposition. The whole agreement was kept secret. The statement already referred to in Volume 3 of the Official Debates, column 2498, says: "The law provides that these annuities are to be collected henceforth by the Government of Saorstát Eireann, and that the proper amounts should, in due course, be paid into either of the Funds of which dividends and Sinking Fund payments in connection with the various Land Stocks are paid." I cannot see a single reference to this agreement. An arrangement has been referred to. Why was this agreement so shameful that it could not be read at that time? He speaks of an arrangement. Why was this agreement so secret that it could not be read at that time? What was in the agreement that made it politically unwise to reveal it to the Dáil? If, as suggested, at the time, and by the legal gentleman who advised him on this case, some time ago, there was real liability upon this country to transmit the annuities to Great Britain, what was the necessity for this agreement? Apparently, the British did not think the law clear with regard to the annuities and required a formal agreement such as this. This agreement deals with something more than the transmission of the annuities. It is a charge upon the Central Fund for something to be measured by the amount of the annuities payable.

I do not want to enter into the legal side of the question or to go back to the earlier dealings between this country and England, or to open up any legal argument on the question of the obligation of the transmission of these annuities to England or not. At that date the position was this: The 1920 Act had been placed upon the Statute Book. I am leaving out whether it came into operation or not. That is a matter on which the two sides of legal advisers took opposite views. The 1921 agreement was signed, and that contained Article 5 which dealt with the public liabilities in the 1920 Act. Look at the practical position as it stood when these amounts were agreed to in London. Why should there be an agreement transmitting the annuities from the Free State while these annuities were retained in the Six Counties? Why, as practical negotiators dealing with millions of pounds, should people assume, against this country, that the sum of £3,000,000 should be paid over to England? If they were so clear upon it why did they not publish it to the world? Deputy Hogan himself pressed, in 1926, for the publication of this document but he could not get it from his colleagues. Why not have published it in 1923? Why, to come down to a recent date, was it not submitted to Counsel who advised the late Government? Why does it find no place in those negotiations?

Mr. Hogan

Why do you think? Is that agreement law? You are a lawyer. I ask you, is that agreement law, and do you submit anything but law to Counsel? Is not that the answer to your question?

Mr. Maguire

The Deputy is a solicitor and he seriously asks me, where the question at issue is whether there is liability on this country to transmit the annuities—

Mr. Hogan

Legal liability?

Mr. Maguire

Whether where the question is whether there is legal liability to transmit the annuities to Great Britain the document on which the British Government based their whole case should be submitted. We said, in our despatches, that there was no legal liability, and the British Government produced this document and said there is legal liability. Yet Deputy Hogan has the hardihood to suggest that when his own Counsel were asked to advise his Government this document should not be consulted, even then. So we have to get this out of the way before we reach the question whether the view submitted by those who advised the late Government, or the view submitted by those who advised Fianna Fáil, is correct. That is their stand upon the matter. That is not my submission. Deputy Cosgrave went to London and entered into this commitment, or agreement, and was so ashamed, or afraid, of having it reviewed by the Dáil that the public were kept in the dark. He wanted us to argue the case out in blinkers. He kept the documents from the Dáil, and the public upon which, eventually, the claim of Great Britain was based. Apparently the intention was that it was never to be published until Mr. Thomas revived it in his despatch. Then it came to life. I presume it would come to life by a search in the proper department after the change of Government; but if there had not been a change of Government, and if the Opposition had got back into office, the Irish people would not have seen that agreement yet. I do not know whether Deputy Cosgrave will now withdraw the charge he made against me.

Mr. Hogan

Will the Attorney-General answer the question I put to him? Does he mean to tell the people that we kept the agreement relating to the land annuities, a secret? Let him answer that question.

Mr. Maguire

I said, as clearly as I could, that neither the clause relating to the land annuities and the control by the British over land legislation here nor any of the other clauses, up to the time they were revived in Mr. Thomas's despatch, were given to the Irish people. I challenge Deputy Hogan to produce evidence contrary to that.

He did not even give it to his own lawyers.

Mr. Maguire

We are asked what is the question at issue, and why we should want to have these wide powers. I did appreciate the speech of Deputy MacDermot. I think the tone was admirable in the circumstances, but I think we might have had a better tone in some of the speeches made on the benches opposite. I did expect that Deputy Blythe, amongst others, would have stood by us, more or less, at the moment on this question. We have joined on the issue with Great Britain—an issue as everybody knows narrowed down to the question of the personnel of the arbitration tribunal. There may be views as to the wisdom of making that an issue upon which there should be agreement. There are some people, I suppose, who consider that we should give way. Our attitude upon the matter has been definite; we have taken up a certain stand. We have, as a Government, decided that we will not yield upon this question of the personnel of the tribunal. That issue need, in no way, further embitter the atmosphere, or widen this discussion or rely upontu quoque argument. I do suggest to the Opposition that this is not the first time that there was a practical difference between this country and Great Britain upon the same issue. Deputy McGilligan is listening to me and I challenge him to deny that.

I wish the Deputy would not tap the bench in front of him. It annoys me.

Mr. Maguire

I will not do anything that would annoy Deputy McGilligan.

Because if you do you may have to suffer for it.

The Attorney-General is entitled to make his own speech, and the Opposition will have an opportunity of replying afterwards.

Mr. Maguire

The question is simply whether the personnel of the arbitration tribunal should be confined to citizens of the British Commonwealth. That is the question that has been raised between this country and Great Britain. A definite stand has been taken on this side of the water, that we shall not agree to the tribunal being restricted to citizens of the British Empire. That is the issue at the moment upon which the Government has decided to stand. Why there should be so much fuss about this particular Bill, I fail to understand. We are taking measures and we are asking the Dáil to give us power to deal with the situation. As the Opposition point out, the responsibility is on us. I can assure Deputies that the Government has a better means of judging the wisdom of the actions which they are taking than any other body of persons in the country. They have decided immediately that it is necessary to get these wide powers in the circumstances. We merely ask that the situation should not be made more difficult by such statements as were made this morning, that if the negotiations break down the responsibility will be upon us. That is a statement which should not have been made in the discussion.

I also, I think, am entitled to appeal to persons who can affect public opinion outside, if it is possible to suggest it to them, that this is a national issue and that the national interests might well be served by allowing us a chance to deal with this situation for a little while, to give us a chance to see if we can bring about a satisfactory conclusion either to the negotiations or to the struggle which may possibly come on. We have had carping criticism, things such as appeared in the leading article in the "Independent" this morning, which I think should be most strongly deprecated. Why should a responsible paper go out of its way to suggest that the war which is about to take place, while it is going to be possibly injurious to England is going to be disastrous to this country, in order to encourage people across the water in the idea that we will never venture on the fight?

We all know the old maxim that he who wants peace must be prepared for war. We merely ask that this country should be prepared for war. We are not irresponsible. I do not know that I am so irresponsible that I am prepared to indulge in the economic destruction of this country, an object for which it is suggested we are asking this power. We have no intention, as far as I am aware, of using these powers beyond the limits we consider absolutely necessary to safeguard the interests of the country and to bring our cause to victory. That is the sole object of taking these powers. I can assure any Deputy who wonders whether we are really utilising in the situation to assume powers which we will use for our own purposes that that is not the case. This measure is simply designed to deal with the present situation and to give the Government power to deal with it in the best way it thinks fit. The House, I think, if it reflects on the matter will realise that we see our responsibility and that we are not likely to enter lightly into a struggle on this question or that we shall not do anything that would impair the social structure or do anything fool-hardy. We are merely endeavouring to see that if we are attacked we shall be prepared to defend ourselves.

Might I ask, time being short, could there be any indication as to what other Deputies desire to speak?

I also wish to have an opportunity to reply.

May I say that I am not concerned with the Minister who closures discussion on this?

Deputy McGilligan of course as usual wants nobody to have an opportunity of speaking after him.

The usual custom, when the Ministry moves the closure, is that they recognise that they have to give way to speakers on the other side. That has been the custom in the House. That is one of the penalties they have to pay. I did not notice how many other Deputies stood up to speak.

There were six.

Might I suggest to Deputy McGilligan that if he wants to speak he can speak now?

I intend to speak now. I do not know what the pretty Minister is anxious about. I want, before I come to deal with the "blinkered" Attorney-General to refer to the most scandalous statement that this House has ever had to listen to. Deputy Cleary, speaking on this debate, some couple of nights ago, said that he had heard two Cumann na nGaedheal Deputies rejoicing over the British duties in the hall. Deputy Cleary was challenged to give the names but he failed to give them. It is unfortunate, sir, that the rules of debate in this House do not permit me to characterise the Deputy as I should like, for his conduct. I can refer him, however, to this: that he had previously made a statement with regard to the Civil Service in a speech in the country and when I asked his own President about that statement, the President very nearly characterised him in answer to me as I should like to characterise him now.

I say so much as a preamble because I want to assert, right at the start, that I am not going to speak in this debate with any feeling that the British Government is going to get information from me, information which they do not already possess or cannot get of their own ingenuity. I am not going to be hampered in this discussion by any of these insinuations about being a British Opposition. There are people on this side of the House who, when British opposition had to be faced, did not think it was necessary to separate their defence from that of any of their fellows who were being charged with them. I hope the Minister for Finance understands that allusion. There are men in this part of the House who risked more than the bubble reputation that the Minister for Finance is so evidently striving to get. This Party is informed with the spirit of these men and we are not taking anything from a person, who in the pungent phrase of a certain Senator, if he had persisted in the course he proposed at one time to follow might now be the unknown soldier in Westminister. It was a pity he was not allowed to join up——

Deputy McGilligan would not be a soldier in Westminister or any place else.

——then we would not have a man, that man, for he would then be sleeping beneath the shadow of a great British institution, maligning us, because we take a stand which we think it is necessary to take in the interests of the Irish people. There are people here who have nothing but Irish blood in their veins and they do resent keenly that they should have taunts of a similar sort hurled at them by either a de Valera, a Flinn, a Briscoe or a Johnson.

A Deputy

What about the prefects?

The Attorney-General has been running in blinkers for a long time. I did not understand what was his hesitancy until he gave us that valuable phrase—"in blinkers." He talked here of the secret agreement. We can realise now the hands into which this great case has fallen. We had some of the treatment here to-day that is being given to this question, in that pettifogging way, with the accompanying table-rapping that is usual in the Ballina Petty Sessions, but which should not be usual here.

We saw the petty use that could be made of that big issue by the man who is supposed to be the leader of the legal fraternity in this country and certainly is the leader of the legal fraternity that is around and about the present Government. He talked of a "secret agreement." He has been criticised as being deceitful in the use of that phrase, and he showed by his own comments to-day that he spoke deceitfully and the epithet should not be withdrawn because it has been justified by the Attorney-General's own conduct to-day. Since the "secret agreement" came to his notice he has given a legal opinion on it, and that legal opinion, as given in the news-papers, was that it made no change in the law of the case. And now we are told to-day that it is the root of the whole trouble.

Mr. Maguire

Where is that?

Six or seven or eight gentlemen, I do not know what the number was, but that famous group of lawyers, we are told, discussed the "secret agreement" and mention of it was made——

Mr. Maguire

I would like to be referred to where I can get anything to which the Deputy is referring.

It has been said in that paper which is notorious for publishing only "truth in the news"—

Mr. Maguire

Where?

—that it made no change in the situation in law.

Mr. Maguire

The Deputy is suggesting that I gave that as a legal opinion.

I would not like to say that it is a legal opinion. It is the opinion of a lawyer in a particular position.

Mr. Maguire

I want to know if there is a suggestion that I gave an opinion stating that that did not matter.

The Deputy can look for the reference in the files of his own paper. It makes no difference, and the Attorney-General knows it, and he has stated here to-day that it makes no difference in the law. We are asked why we did not put it before counsel who advised on this matter. It was precisely because it made no legal change and so could not affect the legal opinion requested. It has no binding force in law. When that agreement was described as "secret" that description was used only for the purpose of making the people of this country believe that payments were made without the authority of the House. That precise argument was made use of in a letter which two people belonging to that party thought fit to write to an English newspaper last week that these payments were not authorised by Vote of this House. The Attorney-General knows that that is completely and entirely false. If he can understand anything he must know that, for in the course of this debate there has been read out what Deputy Cosgrave did say in 1923 when moving for a sum of £3,133,000, for the Land Annuities Estimate. In answer to a question by Deputy Wilson he said:

The actual sum due to pay the annuities is much greater than the sum which comes in.

Now, if the Attorney-General thinks the agreement was secret, let him ponder over this:

At the recent negotiations which took place in England we came to a provisional arrangement which binds us, or in which we accepted liability for the payment of a certain sum pending a settlement regarding the major question. That sum in all amounts to about £160,000 over and above the amount we will get in annuities. We considered at the time that it was a fair bargain. It does not prejudice or make weaker our case, and it leaves open the question of the ultimate settlement of the difference between the actual sum collected from Land Commission annuities payable to us here and the actual outgoings in order to provide interest on the land stock and the Sinking Fund.

On that statement President Cosgrave was further questioned by the man who was then Deputy Johnson and by the man who was then Deputy Wilson and he gave details as to these payments. The Attorney-General cannot, however, deny that he did say that at the recent negotiations which took place in England we came to an agreement with Great Britain which binds us to a certain sum. That is certain. Later on we had the Land Act of 1923 and Section 12 of that Act was passed by this House which knew what it was about. The details of that Act also were questioned. The present Attorney-General, of course, was not here then. Note his excuse to-day on that point. That Act was passed in 1923. The Attorney-General notes with horror that it was followed by a Public Safety Act and, apparently, he was so perturbed by that Public Safety Act that he could not attend to this matter then or that even yet he does not know whether Deputy Cosgrave did make a statement about the negotiations and what resulted from them. I remember that the late Kevin O'Higgins at the time described that Act as being mainly directed against the romantic Neds of the Hill that were wandering about. The Attorney-General must then have been one of these, and he is still so shocked when he thinks of that Public Safety Act that he cannot get into his head the full meaning of that plain English phrase:—"At the recent negotiations which took place in England we came to a provisional arrangement which binds us, or in which we accepted liability for the payment of a certain sum pending a settlement regarding the major issue."

What is the use, then, of the phrase "secret agreement" if it is not intended to be deceitful? What is its use if it is not to make people believe that that money was paid over and that the Dáil knew nothing about it? It is as clear as anything could be that the House knew it and everybody voting the money knew it. The Labour Party here knew it and the Farmers' Party knew it. The leaders of both Parties questioned about it and they both got information about it and their recorded questions show that they were present when the matter was raised and discussed in the House. Section 12 of the Bill was voted for by a majority of the people of the House.

Mr. Hogan

The Labour Party as a whole, and especially Deputy Davin, backed me up on that Bill at the time. He was in great form on that section.

The fact is that there was not a single matter settled with Great Britain which meant the transfer of money from this country which was not revealed to the Dáil before the payment of the moneys had to take place and the Dáil voted the moneys with full knowledge.

Does that apply to the 1926 agreement?

It applies to every agreement that was made; the Dáil had full knowledge of what they were voting on. It is therefore nothing but deceit, and gross deceit at that, for the Attorney-General to make use of the "secret agreement" charge. It is a very poor excuse for him now to say that at the time he was running in blinkers.

Will the Deputy answer a question?

I have very little time left and I do not like foolish interruptions.

Will the Deputy say——

Ah, sit down.

Then Deputy McGilligan does not want to answer?

I do not want now to answer on anything to Deputy Davin. I admit his interruptions are——

The Deputy will not answer even about this "secret agreement"?

The Attorney-General wants to know why we did not hold the land annuities seeing that the Six Counties were holding them. What about the counterpart of that? Would he have us pay everything which we would have to pay under the 1920 Act seeing that the Six Counties were paying? Yet these are the arguments on which the Attorney-General has shown himself to-day to rest. That is the weighty legal opinion in reliance upon which this country has been rushed into an economic war. That is the whole legal strength behind the Government. That is how the whole matter rests as revealed by the Attorney-General's speech to-day—the strength and weakness of the case.

I want to say here that I have always held the view that it would be a great matter to get the legal arguments in this case out of the way. I do not believe one bit in the case the Attorney-General has signed. We here never did. I have said before in this House that a man's opinions on anything are worth nothing more than the worth of the arguments upon which his opinions are based. We have seen before us some people who have pushed themselves into politics by reason of their legal opinions. We have had experience of three of the signatories to the legal opinion upon which this country has been precipitated into an economic war. We had a Deputy—no longer in this House, because the South County Dublin, I think it was, gave him the record beating that any prominent man ever got in this country—whom, when proposed as Attorney-General, the present Cabinet turned down——

Personalities.

——and chose instead the present Attorney-General. We have heard the latter's exposition of the law here—and I can leave it at that. We have the Minister for Justice, and if his law were as profound as his silence we might have some feeling of security, but he has not kept silent always. He has broken silence now and again, and every time he breaks silence he shatters the illusion that his legal opinion is worth having. I believe that a great advance would be possible if only we could get the legal position clear, and all legal issues out of the way.

Personally I would take any tribunal before which to get that legal issue fought merely to get it out of the way, because in my belief it will be thrown out of the way without much delay. There is a good case beyond that; certainly there is some case beyond it, but it is never going to be properly discussed so long as there is economic warfare, or so long as there is reliance upon legal opinion of the type I have mentioned. We are never going to have the real case made about the land annuities, the only one that can be pleaded; we are never going to get that as long as there is foolish reliance upon the very foolish legal opinion given about this matter.

Furthermore, we will never get to a proper and a clear position on the land annuities until other items are put for ever behind us. The attempts made by the Minister for Finance, and, amongst others, by the President every time he speaks, to equate the payments due on foot of the settlement of our land question with reparations and war debts must be abandoned. Again I say I do not believe I am giving anything away to any person of intelligence, British or otherwise, when I say that that is nothing upon which we could base such a comparison.

Are you trying the case now?

Reparations and war debts! What has this got to do with reparations and war debts? There has been an attempt made on the Continent to get reparations out of the way and the special aim of that is to enable the nations to pay their commercial debts. If there was ever a commercial debt this is one. No be-fogging of the question by introducing war debts will ever survive the light of examination. The attempt to equate this question with war debts can only induce in the minds of those resisting our claim the feeling that we have no proper case. The whole thing is being befogged and clouded by the attempt to establish equality between things completely distinct. Reparations! The very term shows what it means, payment by a vanquished nation on account of what she was supposed to have done in the way of damage to a country which fought against her and vanquished her. What has that got to do with land annuity payments? Of war debts there are two types; war debts that are international, where one Government lent money to another for sending in certain munitions, or certain other war supplies, or where one Government had put credit at the disposal of another for the purchase of certain munitions. What has that got to do with the land annuities question? Even take the internal war debts which nations have raised to finance themselves for all the waste and damage that must be experienced in the course of a war. What have these things to do with these payments? Until the legal folly is dropped, until this absurd attempt to equate these payments with reparations and war debts is dropped, we have not a clear issue to put before anybody. This case should never be attempted and has no chance of success upon the legal issue. It never had. There is not a court before which anybody who has studied the question could go with any confidence. There is not a 100 to 1 chance of our getting away on the legal point.

Is the Deputy's opinion final?

Do you not know other opinions? Ask Deputy Norton.

The Deputy knows nothing about his opinion.

I know something.

There is, however, a case that could be made. I want to turn to what Deputy Cosgrave said when the Boundary settlement was under discussion here. I will quote from the Official Debates of 10th December, 1925, column 1765. On that issue Deputy Cosgrave said—and I want to quote all of this, and I do not care what use is made of it:—

I am proud to say, and let whoever likes make political capital out of it, that we met honest, just and generous people to make a case to.

Deputy Cosgrave was speaking then of the case made for the elimination of Article 5 of the Treaty and the people he is speaking about are the British Government of that day:—

The Irregulars can go out now if they like and sound that throughout the country. I am going to tell the truth in connection with these negotiations—the whole truth. We explained that we were paying out three and a quarter millions a year for land held by our people, more than half of them occupying un-economic holdings. We explained that we were sending out of the country a million and a quarter in pensions, and we told the British Ministers: ‘You can if you like assess us for ten, twenty, thirty millions; we will not be able to pay. Is it any advantage to your country to make us bankrupt? We are not standing for repudiation. We are prepared to bear our burden; we are bearing at present and will be bearing for a long time, an undue burden, and we are not honestly able to pay a single penny.' It was accepted in good faith and that finished Article 5.

Get back to the situation of that time. We were faced with the probable imposition upon us, under Article 5 of some share——

Nineteen millions.

That was one calculation made—of some share of British pensions and war debts. In those circumstances we got the slate wiped clean of those debts, and got that done when and because it was put up as part of our case, that as we were paying out three and a quarter millions for land held by our people, and sending away a million and a quarter in pensions, we could not do anything more. There is now at hand a golden opportunity, if only the legal quibbles could be dropped. if the legal advice could be quietly forgotten, if the fatuous nonsense about reparations and war debts was put out of the way, there is a case to go on, that the old circumstances have changed. There is a case for going to the Prime Minister of England, who has come back from Lausanne with a particular settlement and saying that in the new circumstances the 1925 settlement requires revision. But you can never get anything from these people if you are going to stand on legal rights—which are without substance or to equal these payments with war debts and reparations, which is untenable, and would not be put up by any one with a grain of sense in his head. The circumstances of that time can be turned to account—circumstances in which there was the prospect of very heavy debts for war being saddled on the British, and of our having to share these and when we got them all wiped out by saying:—"Remember we are paying these other very big sums." There is a case now for revision in the light of that, because of the phrase then used, a phrase which justified our case then and gave a secure hold to the Government of the moment. There is a case now to be made that that settlement requires revision, and a revision that ought to be in our favour.

That, however, must be based on the equities of the situation and can only be made by people who are going to announce themselves as being honestly prepared to deal equitably with the other parties to the bargain, the British. A Government now could get some remission but it has to be a Government of a particular type. The time is ripe, the golden opportunity has arrived, but it requires a sacrifice which I doubt this Government is going to make. You have got to deal with the British in this case not on any nonsensical legal grounds but on the grounds of equity. Over and over again, as I said, they showed themselves prepared to deal in a generous way on an equitable case being put to them. That equitable situation has only just arisen by reason of these Lausanne agreements. If the Attorney-General had spent some of his time, without the blinkers, reading what was said by British statement instead of trying to mug up, in an ineffective way, what the late Kevin O'Higgins, what Deputy Fitzgerald and what I said in England in an attempt to score points off us, he could find in one or two volumes of Hansard many statements with which he could confront individual British Ministers who are at present in conference with his Government. He would find in one volume of debates dealing with the Statute of Westminster that one speaker said that if it did come to any dispute hereafter the way in which the Commonwealth would be held together was not by legal bonds, not by what he called cold logic or hard law but by tradition, by equity and by compromise. Another said that there was no good in keeping certain institutions alive if, in fact, they were decaying and that the Commonwealth could only be kept together by having material bonds as between the units, by having trading associations of a valuable type between them and having the people realise that their happiness and security both depended on the keeping together of a particular association. That is where this Government cannot succeed because there must be shown, before you get the British to deal equitably with you, some appreciation of the Commonwealth position and there has to be shown clearly the disposition to continue inside the Commonwealth. The unfortunate thing is that we are faced with Ministers who have said so many foolish things in the past. The Minister for Finance told us within the past nine months that the British were down and out, that they were economically decayed. Naturally, that Minister cannot see any satisfaction in living in economic association with these people. Other Ministers have said so many foolish things that they are now in the position that they cannot forget them with honour or remember them with security. They have got to keep to their bad old past and pretend that they believe in it, although a lot of them no longer do. That play acting is going to lose us a golden opportunity of getting rid, on an equitable basis, of some of these debts.

The present Prime Minister of Great Britain is the same man who was Prime Minister in 1924. Early in 1924 we had negotiations with the British, when it looked as if the machinery for a settlement of the Boundary dispute had broken down and when the British took every step possible to see that the machinery was re-established——

To implement Mr. Lloyd George's undertaking to Sir James Craig.

At that time the man who is again Prime Minister wrote to us. This could be retorted on him at this moment by Irish representatives who are prepared to take up an equally decent line. In 1924, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, writing to President Cosgrave, said:

This aspect of the matter to which you refer is one which I view with the greatest concern. The Treaty is but the dry bones of a settlement. In the last two years you have clothed it with flesh, but we have yet to breathe into its frame the living spirit of reconciliation. The feeling grows upon me that this we shall do by remembering that there are interests wider than those which preoccupy our minds in these two islands. I want to enlist you, your Government and all Ireland, including the North, in the cause of bringing back peace to the world. Unless, or until, we can show that we ourselves know how to keep the law and to create friendship between ourselves in these islands, we can do little or nothing, severally or jointly, to bring back the verities of peace either to Europe or the world at large. I ask you to tell the Dáil and, through them, the people they represent that if Irishmen can lay the foundations of a true and lasting peace, not only amongst themselves but with us, they will be rendering Europe in this distracted juncture of its history a service which future generations will not forget.

Is that a cogent statement to put before the Prime Minister of Britain at this moment?

Even after the disclosures of Chamberlain and Lloyd George?

Is it not absurd, a Leas-Chinn Comhairle, that hysterical comments like these should be permitted when I am trying to make——

Read Lloyd George's letter.

The Minister must allow Deputy McGilligan to make his speech.

Let the Minister depart to the British Army, which he wanted to join before. Is that not a compelling statement to put before the British Prime Minister now that he has come back from his triumphs at Lausanne—that we do not want war between the two islands, that we want peace between the two islands, that we want a conference on this matter and on other matters, that we want certain matters adjusted not according to this legal nonsense or this absurd comparison with war debts and reparations, but that we want the whole circumstances taken into consideration? That speech of Deputy Cosgrave gives the line upon which we could go and we could also quote the words of the Lord Chancellor when he said that the Commonwealth would not be held together by legal bonds, harsh law or cold logic but only on the basis of tradition, equality and compromise. I do not believe that that can be done by the present Government.

You would want to go back to it.

Look at their economic history since they came in. I do not know whether it is economic agoraphobia or economic claustrophobia, but it is a "phobia" of some description. The fear may be that Britain might be in trading association with this country and part of the object of the tariffs that have been put on is more to defeat Britain economically than to help Ireland economically. We know too that there are other things going on in the country at the moment. I have asked questions about armed forces not under the control of the State. I was told that drilling was frequent and notorious but I was not told that the law was being enforced. I was told, in relation to a landing of arms, that the law would be enforced, but if we take a line from the enforcement of the law against drilling we know what that amounts to. Somebody recently asked about the tearing down of certain flags from private houses in the city and we were told that the Ministry had no official information about that. Surely the Ministry is not foolish enough to believe that Britain cannot see all that. They must ask themselves for what purpose arms are coming into this country and for what purpose drilling is going on and they have only to turn up the speeches of members of the present Government to see why.

While that situation develops, would any British Government deal equitably with an Irish Government that is basing itself, or preparing to base itself, on such help? We have seen a further thing. We have seen correspondence, recently disclosed after the most fatuous attempt that ever was made to suppress anything, and what comes out of it but this—that this country, in its attempt to dishonour a very distinguished Irishman, blundered into insulting a very distinguished French Minister, and the Ministry had not even the grace to say—it is left for the Governor-General's correspondence to reveal that they had, at any rate, the grace to apologise to the French Minister for what they did. They are not really men enough to say that they did apologise to the French Minister, but the Governor-General has stated that they did, and it is a sign of grace, at any rate, that they recognised that there was a bad blunder committed that night. In that connection, and since it was regarded as something to be proud of at one time, the whole credit should not go to the two Ministers who were pushed into the lime-light. Others deserve mention. The Attorney-General was, as usual, caught hesitant, on one leg. He was not just in at the thing, and he was not just out. He was there or thereabouts. He was on the doorstep, and there was still another Deputy of the House who played a part in that dishonourable engagement with the French at Ailesbury Road.

But though the French were insulted through their Minister, we know that nobody set out to insult the French deliberately. That, unfortunately, had to be done in order to get insult put upon a distinguished Irishman. That had to be done to show Anglophobia. We had dishonour done to distinguished Catholics who wanted to visit this country during the very famous Congress period, and that also had to be done, so that certain trouble might be caused to them and to that same distinguished Irishman, and all this so that the reactions of it might be felt in Britain. We had the misconduct of the Minister for Defence, in connection with the Army Band, and the attempt to destroy a civic function, so that, again, dishonour would be attempted upon a distinguished Irishman, in order to have the repercussions of that, too, felt in England. What is the chance of the present Government getting any satisfaction, so long as they are not clear that they want to be in the Commonwealth or out of it? In these same debates, to which I have alluded, one of the speakers in the House of Lords said: "We must recognise the big position which Southern Ireland had got in the Treaty, if they care, to-morrow, to say that they would not belong to our association, at any rate, they could rely on this, that there would be no threat of coercion by way of war put on them." Yet the Ministry will not take a clean-cut decision to get out of the Commonwealth, nor will they take a clean-cut decision to stay in. They want to have the economic advantages of the association, but they want also to have the liberty to act in a particularly undignified fashion towards certain dignified and distinguished Irishmen, because they find them in certain representative positions.

We have on the seas, at the moment, three representatives of the Ministry going to Ottawa. For what? According to the "Irish Press," they are looking bronzed and well. They will bring back the bronze with them and that will be about all. Not even golden ounces will be theirs, but merely bronze. What nonsense is it to have these people reported as running committees on the liner 1,300 miles out from this coast, with Ministers in charge of these committees. One of these committees is to deal with British trade, when British statesmen have said so far as they are concerned, "no agreements with the Irish Free State." Another is to deal with Dominions trade and in that connection we should not forget that one of the few signs of preparedness announced to us, for the Ottawa Conference, was the receipt of a letter from Southern Rhodesia. As our trade with that country was stated in answer to another question as being £13 one way and £1,300 or £1,400 the other, and as none of the other Dominions had approached us on trade matters a whole committee to deal with Dominion trade seems out of proportion. We have a third Committee dealing with currency and allied problems and the Minister for Finance not there! For what did these representatives go to Ottawa? They certainly did not go having made serious preparation here to get anything of value done. They certainly did not go with any preparations made, on the economic side, by touch with our producers as to what they want, they had no real arrangements with any of the other Governments but they had been decisively snubbed by one Government, and did not treat this House truthfully in regard to the snub given to them by that Government. They walked out of this House rather than listen to a statement I myself made, showing that they had not treated the House frankly in that matter, but despite them the truth came out within a very few weeks after.

What are these people doing on the seas journeying to Ottawa where no agreements of any value will be made with them and while no arrangements on finance, trade or land annuities can ever be come to with them so long as they continue to be a Government which will not make up its mind where it stands politically? As I said previously, it cannot make up its mind where it stands politically because its past is there—its actions, its pronouncements, its incitements which it cannot forget with honour nor remember with safety at the present time. That is the situation, and so, we have this Bill, and so we shall have economic war. That economic war is described by the President as a blessing in disguise and in return for that blessing in disguise, we are going to tax our own people and the goods coming in to them. We should have been making presentations to the British if it were really a blessing in disguise. We were told by the Minister for Finance in his Budget speech, this year, that he was putting on tariffs so as to raise one million pounds revenue from our people; yet in this Bill, by some sleight of hand, we are going to impose customs duties now which will not hurt us, which will not raise say, another million pounds from our consumers, but which will hurt the British to that extent. We have got to see that worked out. That, again, belongs to the Peter Pan school of economics which the Minister for Finance so thoroughly understands.

We are to be hurt in a particular way, and that hurt is called a blessing in disguise. We are going to hurt ourselves more in another way, and that is called retaliation and not mortification. Is there any hope that even now there is likely to be any wiser counsel prevailing? Must we drive this nation to ruin simply because President de Valera must have his past history in this country legitimatised, for that is all that is happening? Will his ambition, at this point, not even overcome his pride? Many a man would give his soul, if he were an ambitious man, as the President is, to have the chance he has now to make a settlement with the British. There is only one thing that will stand in the way, and it is that individual's pride, and his past to which he looks back with such pride, a pride that is not shared by very many others.

And the tall hat!

The Deputy talks about the tall hat——

Yes, and the tails.

——but there has been more nonsense talked under soft hats from that bench——

And there are soft heads on that other bench.

The obvious remark to make to that is that the desired soft hat best suits a soft head. The Deputy might have read—I suppose he did—in the papers yesterday, that even the Communists in Russia have discovered that one may wear a white collar and not run the risk of being described as an intellectual. Is it not now time for you to sprout your tails—sartorially I mean, not in the other sense—the others are evident already? Is there any hope at this moment that we can get a proper appreciation of the circumstances that there will be hesitation even on the brink of the ruin we are crashing in upon?

I hope you will get sense soon.

That is the way Deputy Cooney treats a serious problem. That is the mentality that counts on that side, a little bit of play-acting on a political stage. It does not matter what the farmers suffer. It does not matter whether the 35,000 unemployed soar even beyond the 71,000 of which we heard yesterday and rise to ten times as many. It does not matter. Let one man be justified and Ireland is secure.

Let the country be secured.

The President said one apt thing that ought to be remembered by everybody at this moment: "Now that we have got in to this fight," he said, "remember if we give in we are beaten for ever because the same threat can always be used against us." Is there a British side to that argument? Now that they are in, if they give way, can this be used always against them also? Remember if knives are out, there is apt to be a more powerful weapon in the hands of the others than there is here, despite all the whistling from the other side as they go through the wood. If that argument has any force with regard to the people of this country, it has equal force, and even more force, with the people in the other country and before these two peoples get into that terrible conflict and work themselves up to the point that neither can give way, they should pause and try to get back to the old circumstances, not on the legal grounds—wipe them out—not this foolish nonsense about war debts and reparations—abandon these—but simply return to the old circumstances on which the 1925 agreement was founded and see if some better solution cannot be arrived at equitable to both sides. That demands here only this sacrifice, that the people of the country will accept the Treaty conditions, possibly modified Treaty condition, but Treaty conditions all the while. Yet such as it is I doubt if that sacrifice is going to be made even for the best of causes.

I have only one last word. Last night Deputy Flinn thought fit to refer in this House to the late Kevin O'Higgins. It is a pity that that poor man cannot be preserved even in his grave from such a dishonour as a complimentary reference by Deputy Flinn. (Deputies: "Hear, hear."). Deputy Flinn talked about the great advance and said that nobody talked of the great retreat. Deputy Flinn came to this country on his great retreat. One could adapt the old Roman habit and address this House as "Conscript Fathers" only for the fact that by so doing one would be submerging the only item which renders Deputy Flinn conspicuous and notorious—that in this House he is the only conscript we have. He talked about people who had betrayed. It comes very ill from a man who betrayed, not merely the place where he was born, not merely the whole tradition in which he was brought up, but who at times has betrayed even the doctrines of the Party he is now supposed to represent. Kevin O'Higgins was a brave man. He cared neither for life nor reputation when his country was at stake, and the only thing in which there could be any comparison between him and Deputy Flinn is that Deputy Flinn cared nothing for his reputation when his life was at stake. His reputation then was nothing to him; since, it is equally nothing in the regard of decent men. He described himself as a C3 man in the War and that is what he is in everything and that is what he revealed himself to be last night, and more particularly so in his reference to Kevin O'Higgins.

This morning I appealed to the Executive Council to postpone this debate. I wonder does the Executive Council know now why I asked them to postpone this debate? Has any useful purpose been served; has any useful work been done for Ireland by the debate that took place in this House to-day? On both sides there has been engendered a heat and a recrimination which was the last thing our people wanted at this time. I heard Deputy McGilligan refer with moderation to as base a thing as I ever heard done in this House and that was done by Deputy Cleary when he came here and said that two members of the House had rejoiced in the national discomfiture, and when challenged to name them did not dare to give their names.

The guilty Deputies knew it.

You did not give the names.

I know that some of the former Executive Council exulted in the thing.

That is a lie. You are a liar and a coward.

Deputy Dillon is well aware of that.

The expression "liar" and "coward" must be withdrawn.

Well, I withdraw them.

I will not ask you to ask him to withdraw. He was one of those who exulted in it.

Do you expect me to stand here when that man says a thing which is a deliberate and blackguardly lie? (Interruption). That is untrue.

We want to conduct the proceedings with some sort of decency and I expect every Deputy to conduct the proceedings here in that way for the sake of the prestige of the House. I ask Deputies to let Deputy Dillon continue his speech without interruption.

May I make an explanation?

With reference to what?

The statement I made.

We have only twenty minutes left for this Bill and I think it is better not.

I can give names and dates.

You did not give them when you were asked to give them.

This debate, unfortunately, has brought up considerations that should not have engaged our attention now. Yesterday, what was the situation? As I saw it, the Government of this country had differed with the British Government as to our legal liability in respect of certain payments. The Government of this country proposed to the British Government impartial arbitration on that legal liability, and in that proposal I believe the Irish Government was acting in accord with the strictest rules of honour and integrity. The British Government accepted the principle that arbitration was the proper method to resolve this legal difficulty, and a difference then ensued as to the Chairman or the personnel—how it would be constituted—and it was proposed by one of the parties to that dispute to embark upon an economic war with this country. Those were the circumstances prevailing yesterday, and the Government came to this House with proposals which were introduced by the Minister for Finance in a speech which I found some difficulty in following, but in which he said the responsible Government of the country considered this Bill was essential if they were to have the powers necessary to meet the situation that had been created. Beside him, for a time, was seated the President of the Executive Council. There were many members of this House, I believe, with an open mind, resolved to do their duty, who wanted to hear what the President had to say on a measure of such enormous importance and in a crisis of such boundless gravity.

The debate was wound up last night by a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, who confined himself almost entirely to telling funny stories, including the story of Peter Pan. That was the spirit in which a Parliamentary Secretary, a member of the Fianna Fáil Government, was proposing to deal with a grave crisis and as solemn a determination as this country was ever called upon to make. The debate last night ended on a note closely approximating to imbecility. This morning we opened the papers and found that the President was gone to meet the Prime Minister of England. I must say when I read that news I was profoundly thankful. I do not hesitate to say— though this may be considered a popular thing to say now—that if the President had stated here that in order to defend the interests of the country it was necessary to have the Bill that was introduced here passed, and that England was not prepared to continue a free and reasonable discussion as to the personnel of the arbitration, I would have voted for giving the President those powers. But when I came in here this morning I was greeted by the old motto of every armament manufacturer in the world, that the best way to preserve peace is to prepare for war. If it were a travelling salesman for Vickers who told me that, I would understand the message.

Those were the self-same words that were uttered by one country after another prior to 1914. When Russia was mobilising, Germany was explaining to the world that the best way to preserve peace was to mobilise herself in preparation for war. France was demonstrating that in order to compel Germany to be pacific she herself must organise her warlike forces. What was the result of it all? The result was such a war as the world had never seen before. I do not deny that England has struck a blow. The decision rests with us as to whether we are to react to that with the same madness that helped to precipitate the world war of 18 years ago, or are we to say that, as the President has gone into conference with the Prime Minister of England, pending the report of that conference we will remain silent and wait in the earnest hope that there will be a peaceful and amicable settlement of what might have been a bitter quarrel? Our appeal to the Minister to-day is not to pass any judgment on the situation, not to yield an inch at this juncture, not to suggest that the position of the Irish Executive has weakened by a hair's breadth, but simply to say that while the President is not here to state his mind and counsel his Party in the Dáil, and while he is engaged elsewhere in discussions with the head of another State, our duty is to do nothing but await his return. In my opinion, that was our duty to-day; that was what we ought to have done.

I have no hesitation in saying that yesterday, if the President had assured us there was no hope of peace and that he could not persuade Great Britain to withdraw from the threatening attitude she was taking up and, consequently, it was necessary for the Executive to have these powers, I would have been quite willing to give them. But to-day the situation is that we are asked to strike a blow in return which may precipitate an economic war which will gravely, perhaps irreparably injure this country and England. Such a war would inflict suffering, not upon the politicians who will declare it, but upon the railwaymen, the dockers, the merchants and their employees in England and on the same class of people and the small farmers in this country. It is easy for Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Thomas to be bellicose. They will not get thrown out of their jobs. It is terribly easy for us to say that our duty is to stand firm and challenge Great Britain to do her damnedest, but we are not going to lose our jobs because of it. There are men and women in Ireland and England to whom a struggle of this character is going to mean hunger and suffering.

I am going to exhaust every possibility, to strain every endeavour, without regard to pride or prejudice or conceit or anything else, in an effort to adjust the matter. I would be prepared to humble myself in any respect if I could protect our people and the English people from the disasters that threaten and, at the same time, maintain the honour of this country. I believe President de Valera at this present moment is of the same mind. I believe he is struggling to avert what may be a catastrophe. If this Bill passes, if this Government insists on putting this Bill through all its stages to-day, they are making the task that confronts us much more difficult.

I will not put forward here the armament manufacturers' slogan that the way to secure peace is to prepare for war. I believe the way to secure peace in this matter is to show the world that you are able to sacrifice everything but national honour for peace; that you are prepared to show every forbearance and every courage to resist misrepresentation in order to preserve peace. It is a matter of indifference to me what motives are attributed to me when I vote against this Bill in the circumstances in which it has been introduced to-day. I will vote against it because I believe it is being pressed through the Oireachtas to the jeopardy and the destruction of peace. To that proceeding I will never be a party.

I intervene on a point of practice. There are only 12 minutes left. The discussion of this Bill has been appallingly curtailed. It is a measure of great importance. Members of the Government have spoken on it. The practice of the House has been—and I myself as a Minister have been subject to it, and so also has the ex-Minister for Finance —that, in the interests of the Government and their convenience in doing the business of the State, when the Dáil was deprived of normal privilege in discussion it was then recognised that the Opposition ought to have free play. The Minister who moved that the time be curtailed is now about to rise again in order to prevent anybody else speaking. I would like to point out that I stood up on a previous occasion when Deputy McGilligan got up to speak and he was called upon first.

Deputy Fitzgerald was passed over for some reason or another.

I did not mean to convey anything but that.

Deputy McGilligan has spoken on this matter, and so has Deputy Dillon, and I think it is only fair that the Minister should get an opportunity.

Even though they are curtailing the debate?

On a point of order. It is usual to give all Parties in the House an opportunity of taking part in the debate. So far as I know, no representative of the people chiefly interested in what is going to happen —the farmers—has been permitted to speak, although three attempts have been made.

This is obviously an effort at deliberate obstruction.

On a point or order, I was speaking on Wednesday evening——

Obviously deliberate obstruction.

On a point of order. I was speaking here on Wednesday evening—of which speech I only managed to deliver about one-third. I asked through the Chair if I would be allowed to put the agricultural point of view on this particular measure, and I was assured by the Chair that it could not be done without the President's consent. The President consented, but I am still in the same position and have not yet got an opportunity to put that point of view.

That is not a point of order. The House has already made certain decisions with regard to taking a decision on this measure at 3 o'clock. Several Deputies have spoken at length, and I am endeavouring to get an opportunity for the Minister for Finance to give the Government's point of view. Surely it is not unreasonable to give him ten minutes to do that.

I cannot allow that. (Interruptions.)

Let us be clear about this matter. The Chair has perfect discretion to call on any particular Deputy.

The tradition of this House has been that when the Government proposes to curtail the legitimate amount of debate, the Government ought to give way to allow a point of view to be stated.

With all respect, I want to submit a point of order. A definite agreement has been come to here.

No, there was no agreement.

Yes, there was. It is on the records of the House.

There has been no agreement with the Ceann Comhairle as to the length of time anyone is to speak or as to who is to speak.

Two points have been made in this debate. First of all, the point was made that the Government of the Irish Free State are unreasonable in demanding that we must get the legal question out of the way. What is the legal question which we must get out of the way? This agreement of 1923, the only argument which the British Government have pleaded against us in connection with this issue. We have stigmatised that document as a secret document. An attempt was made here in the House to-day to show that that document had been put before the people. If it were put before the people, why are there letters on this file from one Minister of the last Government to another stating that he considered it undesirable to publish the text of the agreement reached with the British Government? Why is there another letter on this file from the ex-Minister for Finance to the British Treasury refusing to permit that Treasury, in furtherance of a test case which they wished to try in a British court, to publish and make public Part I. of that agreement which deals entirely with the Land Annuities? If it were not secret why is there a proposal on the file that if the British Government found it essential to publish the agreement, in order to win its case in a British court, that that Part (Part I.) of the agreement, dealing with the Land Annuities, should be pasted over? If this was not a secret agreement, why did they demand that it should be pasted over before the agreement could be produced in a British court?

As to the second point, it has been said that we are unreasonable in demanding that the personnel of the tribunal should not be confined to members of the British Commonwealth. The late Government in a dispute of much less importance than this, refused to accept another Commonwealth tribunal—everyone of them, I see, has left the Front Bench, including Deputy McGilligan who was the Minister principally concerned with it at the time. They have left because they were afraid they would be challenged. They refused; and we have refused too. Suppose that between the Governments of Australia and Canada and Great Britain there was a dispute as important as this between those countries and that Australia or Canada refused to accept the tribunal accepted by the British Government, that they refused to have the membership of that tribunal restricted to members of the British Commonwealth. What attitude would the British Government have taken up? I can answer that by a quotation from the debates in the British House of Commons on the 6th of this month. Mr. Lansbury speaking on that date said:

If I thought any appeal was any good I would make it, but I feel it is almost useless. Yet on the simple narrow issue of who shall arbitrate and who the Chairman shall be, I challenge whoever is going to reply to say, if South Africa and Canada had a dispute, would anyone dare to stand at that Box and declare that, if they choose to go outside the Empire the British Government could prevent them?

And Mr. Thomas, the present Secretary for the Dominions, replied "No." No, if Canada, or Australia want to go outside, they will not prevent them. But if the Irish Free State, with its bitter experience of the Boundary Commission to guide it in this matter, says "We must go outside," then, rather than allow them the free choice which would be allowed to Canada and Australia they say "No, we will declare economic war upon you if you do this, we will make the streets of your cities filled with hungry people." They have said that they will do that. The purpose of this Bill is not to wage economic war upon them, not to destroy England's industry, but to safeguard our own people against hunger and want, to open up new markets for our goods if the British market is closed to us and to recoup, from the hostages which British industry has given to this country—to recoup our citizens for any loss which British penal statutes may inflict upon them.

Will the Minister give us an undertaking in relation to this measure that, if the Bill comes into operation, it will not be used to impose any further burden on the already over-burdened farmers of this State? I want an assurance from the Minister as to that. This House will not be sitting, and we want to know that those powers will not be used in such a manner as will inflict any additional burden on the agricultural community of this State.

I object to the Deputy representing the farmers here.

The powers of this Bill, as I have said, will be used primarily to open up new channels of trade and establish, if necessary, new industries here.

Yes, but what about industries already here?

As I said, the object of the Bill is to recoup ourselves for any losses which we may suffer as a result of the present British penal legislation.

That is not an answer to the question I asked.

Question: "That the Bill do now pass"—put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 68; Níl, 57.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Allen, Denis.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Blaney, Neal.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Bryan.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Carney, Frank.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Clery, Mícheál.
  • Colbert, James.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Corry, Martin John.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Curran, Patrick Joseph.
  • Davin, William.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Everett, James.
  • Flínn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Sexton, Martin.
  • Sheehy, Timothy.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Gormley, Francis.
  • Gorry, Patrick Joseph.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Keyes, Raphael Patrick.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • O'Reilly, Thomas J.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • Powell, Thomas P.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Blythe, Ernest.
  • Bourke, Séamus A.
  • Broderick, William Jos.
  • Brodrick, Seán.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Byrne, John Joseph.
  • Coburn, James.
  • Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
  • Conlon, Martin.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Craig, Sir James.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doherty, Eugene.
  • Doyle, Peadar Seán.
  • Duggan, Edmund John.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Finlay, Thomas A.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Gorey, Denis John.
  • Hayes, Michael.
  • Hennessy, Thomas.
  • Hennigan, John.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
  • Keating, John.
  • Keogh, Myles.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McDonogh, Fred.
  • MacEoín, Seán.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Mongan, Joseph W.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Myles, James Sproule.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Neill, Eamonn.
  • O'Shaughnessy, John Joseph.
  • O'Sullivan, Gearóid.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Reynolds, Mrs. Mary.
  • Roddy, Martin.
  • Shaw, Patrick Walter.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
Tellers:— Tá: Deputies Boland and Allen; Níl: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle.
Question declared carried.
[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

There was some applause by Deputies standing outside the barrier. That should not occur.

This is a Money Bill within the meaning of Section 35 of the Constitution.

A Message will be sent to the Seanad.