SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - ANGLO-AMERICAN LIQUOR TREATY.

I move the following Resolution:—

BEARTUÍTEAR

BE IT RESOLVED THAT

DE BHRÍ gur sighníodh i Washington an 23adh lá d'Eanair, 1924, thar ceann Uachtarán Stát Aontuithe Mheirice agus thar ceann a Shoillse ach go ndéanfí iad do dhaingniú Airtiogail Co-Aontuithe do Chonnra i dtaobh regleáil na Trádála Oil lasmuich de mhuir dhuchais Stát Aontuithe Mheirice (Airiogail go bhfuil a mbrí le feiscint sa Sceideal a ghabhann leis seo) agus

WHEREAS Articles of Agreement for a Treaty respecting the regulation of the Liquor Traffic outside the territorial waters of the United States of America (whereof the tenor appears by the Schedule hereto) were signed at Washington on the 23rd day of January, 1924, on behalf of the President of the United States of America and His Majesty subject to ratification, and

DE BHRÍ go mbaineann forálacha an Chonnartha san le leasanna Shaorstáit Eireann agus go bhfuil sé oiriúnach go ndéanfí an céanna do dhaingniú ar son Shaorstáit Eireann,

WHEREAS the provisions of tGo gCEADUÍONN SEANAD EIREANN an Connra san do dhaingniú agus go molann sí don ArdChomhairle san do chur in úil don Choróinn.

Go gCEADUÍONN SEANAD EIREANN an Connra san do dhaingniú agus go molann sí don ArdChomhairle san do chur in úil don Choróinn.

SEANAD EIREANN approves of the ratification of the said Treaty and recommends that the Executive Council do so advise the Crown.

AN SCEIDEAL dá dtagartar.

Schedule referred to.

Article 1.

The High Contracting Parties declare that it is their firm intention to uphold the principle that three marine miles extending from the coastline outwards and measured from low-water mark constitute the proper limits of territorial waters.

Article 2.

(1) His Britannic Majesty agrees that he will raise no objection to the boarding of private vessels under the British flag outside the limits of territorial waters by the authorities of the United States, its territories or possessions in order that enquiries may be addressed to those on board and an examination be made of the ship's papers for the purpose of ascertaining whether the vessel or those on board are endeavouring to import or have imported alcoholic beverages into the United States, its territories or possessions in violation of the laws there in force. When such enquiries and examination show a reasonable ground for suspicion a search of the vessel may be instituted.

(2) If there is reasonable cause for belief that the vessel has committed or is committing or attempting to commit an offence against the laws of the United States, its territories or possessions, prohibiting the importation of alcoholic beverages, the vessel may be seized and taken into a Port of the United States, its territories or possessions for adjudication in accordance with such laws.

(3) The rights conferred by this Article shall not be exercised at a greater distance from the coast of the United States, its territories or possessions than can be traversed in one hour by the vessel suspected of endeavouring to commit the offence. In cases, however, in which the liquor is intended to be conveyed to the United States, its territories or possessions by a vessel other than the one boarded and searched, it shall be the speed of such other vessel and not the speed of the vessel boarded, which shall determine the distance from the coast at which the right under this Article can be exercised.

Article 3.

No penalty or forfeiture under the laws of the United States shall be applicable or attach to alcoholic liquors or to vessels or persons by reason of the carriage of such liquors when such liquors are listed as sea stores or cargo destined for a port foreign to the United States, its territories or possessions on board British vessels voyaging to or from ports of the United States, or its territories or possessions or passing through the territorial waters thereof, and such carriage shall be as now provided by law with respect to the transit of such liquors through the Panama Canal, provided that such liquors shall be kept under seal continuously while the vessel on which they are carried remains within said territorial waters and that no part of such liquors shall at any time or place be unladen within the United States, its territories or possessions.

Article 4.

Any claim by a British vessel for compensation on the grounds that it has suffered loss or injury through the improper or unreasonable exercise of the rights conferred by Article 2 of this Treaty or on the ground that it has not been given the benefit of Article 3 shall be referred for the joint consideration of two persons, one of whom shall be nominated by each of the High Contracting Parties.

Effect shall be given to the recommendations contained in any such joint report. If no joint report can be agreed upon the Claim shall be referred to the Claims Commission established under the provisions of the agreement for the Settlement of Outstanding Pecuniary Claims signed at Washington, the 18th August, 1910, but the Claim shall not, before submission to the tribunal, require to be included in a schedule of claims confirmed in the manner therein provided.

Article 5.

This Treaty shall be subject to ratification and shall remain in force for a period of one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications.

Three months before the expiration of the said period of one year, either of the High Contracting Parties may give notice of its desire to propose modifications in the terms of the Treaty.

If such modifications have not been agreed upon before the expiration of the term of one year mentioned above, the Treaty shall lapse.

If no notice is given on either side of the desire to propose modifications, the Treaty shall remain in force for another year, and so on automatically, but subject always in respect of each such period of a year to the right on either side to propose as provided above three months before its expiration modifications in the Treaty, and to the provision that if such modifications are not agreed upon before the close of the period of one year, the Treaty shall lapse.

Article 6.

In the event that either of the High Contracting Parties shall be prevented either by judicial decision or legislative action from giving full effect to the provisions of the present Treaty, the said Treaty shall automatically lapse, and, on such lapse, or whenever this Treaty shall cease to be in force, each High Contracting Party shall enjoy all the rights which it would have possessed had this Treaty not been concluded.

I am bound to advert to the fact that a number of my friends have taken exception to the short notice of the proposal that they have had. I think it is a pity that a matter of this importance, and of such historical interest to this country should not be dealt with after longer notice. But in this connection might I suggest that we have all observed of late that there has been a certain liveliness in political circles, and it is quite conceivable that a matter of this nature, important as it is, escaped the attention of the notifying authorities, whoever they may be. Might I also suggest that, after all, there is no great secrecy or concealment in respect to this matter, because it has been before the world for the last six months at least. The Treaty in which we are asked to participate was ratified by diplomats on, I think, the 23rd or 24th of January last, and the matter was discussed and debated in all the newspapers on this side of the Atlantic and on the other; published in the English language, so that it is a matter which, after all, comes upon nobody by surprise. All the same, I reiterate the expression of my view that it is a pity we had not longer notice, in view of the importance of the question which we are asked to decide. I understand, Sir, that the text of the Treaty is practically contained in the Order Paper. There are no secret clauses in it. I do not imagine, for instance, that it contains any clause enabling members of this House to go to the United States and to escape from its provisions. At all events, the Minister for External Affairs is here to correct me if I am wrong.

Might I draw the attention of the Seanad to some of the provisions of this Treaty. I think, on the whole, it is just as well that we should pay some attention to what we are agreeing to. The first Article confirms the principle of the Three-Mile Limit, and that has been the accepted nautical boundary for very many years past between one country and another. May I also remind the Seanad that in ratifying the principle of the Three-Mile Limit on this occasion, as far as we can ratify it, we are also ratifying it as it has been extended and affirmed by a most important decision in the arbitration case between Newfoundland and the United States which was ratified at the Hague some years ago. That was a very important extension of the Three-Mile Limit, of very great interest to people who are concerned with coastal fisheries, because, according to that decision, the Three-Mile Limit extends not merely around the contours of the coast, but it also extends from three miles outside the opposing points of bays and estuaries. As a matter of fact. the whole estuary of the St. Lawrence by that decision was transferred into Canadian waters, as well as various other rivers, estuaries and bays in which heretofore foreigners were able to enter to fish and to do other things up to the Three-Mile Limit. Under this adjudication of the Hague tribunal that Three-Mile Limit is now measured outside the opposite points of the land. That was a most important decision, and it constituted the main triumph of the Newfoundland arbitration. So much for Article 1.

The first Section of Article 2 gives practical effect to what the proposals are, inasmuch as it allows the American revenue officials to board any ship in the merchant navy of any section of the British Commonwealth to see their manifests, examine their papers, and, if necessary, if there is any ground for believing that these ships are endeavouring to infringe the laws of the United States, it further authorises these officials to carry out a search. In the event of the search revealing the fact that these ships are endeavouring to break the American law, it enables these officials to seize the vessel. Finally, it extends the limit within which these operations may be carried out by the United States Revenue officials to a distance of twelve miles from the American coast. Twelve miles is not mentioned in the Treaty, but it amounts to that. That is what it comes to in practice. It is specifically laid down that it is the distance which the searching ship can sail from its own coast in an hour. That is the way it is expressed. Then there is the countervailing advantage, thequid pro quo afforded to travellers, which is of importance. In other words, that ships may carry whatever “spiritual” refreshments they consider necessary, and may bring them within the limits of the United States waters under seal, so that as soon as travellers get outside the United States limit on the way back they are enabled to indulge in their natural proclivities. Then there is a clause as to compensation. A Joint Commission is set up to decide whether any infringement of the law takes place or whether any injustice is done to anybody, and in the event of a disagreement in this Commission there are further ways of bringing about a settlement.

Article 5 deals with the subject of ratification, and that is where the Seanad comes in. We are asked to ratify this Treaty as our contribution from the Irish Oireachtas. Subject to the ratification of this Treaty, the law remains in force one year, and if it is not objected to within three months of the end of the year, it goes on for another year. Similarly, it goes on from year to year until either of the contracting parties take exception to it, and then it lapses. That really is the Treaty. For my own part, I should like to say that I am in entire sympathy with the Treaty, because I am in entire sympathy with the attitude of the United States Government. It is not for us to criticise the laws of another country. Certainly it is not for us to criticise the laws of the United States. The United States people have decreed certain restrictions upon liquor traffic. They did this in the exercise of their judgment, and under the provisions of their Constitution, which is a written Constitution, and therefore it is not so easily amended. There are people in the United States who would like to amend the law, but they find considerable difficulties in the way. I quite imagine that American ingenuity will find a way to amend this law eventually, but for the time being it is the law in America.

It certainly would not be my wish to do anything to complicate the difficulties of the American administration, under what is certainly a situation of considerable difficulty, because under this Prohibition Act great interests are involved and great interests have grown up which are opposed to the Government, or the administration of that country. As I have said, my sympathies in this matter are entirely with the Government of the United States, and I would like to see—and I believe it will be the result of this Treaty—a similar Treaty made between the United States and every other civilised country. This Treaty will be taken as an index one. I commend it to the Seanad, because I am perfectly satisfied that it is in conformity with the wishes of the great majority of the United States. It has also the support of the Government of the United States, to which we owe a great deal, and to which we may owe other things in the years that are to come. I hope the Seanad, therefore, will agree to this unanimously, in view of the circumstances, and in view of the people with whom we are making our first Treaty as a recognised State—the Free State of Ireland. The sooner this Treaty is ratified by the different members of the Commonwealth to which we belong, the sooner will other nations who are watching us in the matter follow.

I beg to second the motion. As the mover has pointed out, the great American nation has passed a law of prohibition, and they are making efforts, against difficulties, to have that law carried into effect. It is well we should act in conformity in facilitating them in carrying out the laws they have made. We know that ships of foreign nations have been trying to flout this law. By ratifying the Treaty it will preclude foreign ships, by some device or other, from infringing American laws, in, perhaps, the guise of Irish vessels. It is also good to give expression to our sympathy with the great American people and the American Government in their efforts to lead not only their own country, but humanity into paths of temperance reform.

This, as far as I know, is the first time the Seanad has been called upon to ratify or express any opinion about a Treaty made by the English Government. It is a very serious and far-reaching question as to whether we should do this or not. We have not had very much time to consider the matter, and it is a matter extending into the Constitution, and the right of the Free State, perhaps, to make its own Treaties, entirely independent of the British Government. It is a rather serious thing to be suddenly called upon, without any time, to consider this difficult question, to decide as to whether we should carry out this. "Seanad Eireann approves of the ratification of the said Treaty, and recommends that the Executive do so advise the Crown." I do not quite see how Seanad Eireann comes into this affair. I see that Article 2 refers to vessels under the British flag. What about the Saorstát Eireann flag? I do not see that we come under this at all; it only affects the British Government. British vessels are mentioned three times. This raises the whole question whether Saorstát Eireann is or is not British. I do not quite know how I stand in this matter, and I am not prepared to enter into it and vote for it without more consideration. I do not see why more time should not be given to us to go into all the legal aspects, which are far reaching. I am not a Constitutional lawyer, and I would like to have some discussion with other people to see how far this leads us. I cannot see that we are concerned with this at all, except to ask the Governor-General to notify the British Government that we approve of the British Government making this Treaty for themselves. If so, I do not see that we are concerned at all, for no mention is made of Saorstát Eireann.

In paragraph 2 of the preamble it is definitely expressed: "Whereas the provisions of the said Treaty affects the interests of Saorstát Eireann and it is expedient that the same should be ratified in respect of Saorstát Eireann."

I would like to know from the Minister if this Treaty is being submitted to the Parliaments of the different members of the British Commonwealth, and what will happen in the case of any of these Parliaments not confirming it. Suppose that the Oireachtas in its wisdom does not confirm this, how does the Saorstát stand in regard to this particular Treaty? One, of course, would want to have some pretty wide knowledge of international law in order to be able to say anything in regard to the matter. We cannot discuss the merits of the Treaty, and, obviously, we cannot alter it. We can confirm or refuse to confirm. Whether that means anything or not is another thing. If it means anything, the procedure adopted is pathetically simple, the introduction of a resolution which we see to-day for the first time. If it does not mean anything, I suggest we should not toy with it. Ships sailing under the British flag will be bound by this whether or not we assent to it, for that flag represents the authority and power of Britain. I do not know whether that assumes that the Saorstát is eventually to have a mercantile flag of its own registered internationally and recognised, and in such an event whether it would be necessary to have a separate Treaty as far as the Saorstát is concerned. I presume that for practical purposes we really are not interested in it at all, because I do not suppose that many of the "boot-leggers" come from the Emerald Isle or are likely to come in the near future. They do too good a trade at home in Donegal and elsewhere. The three-mile limit, of course, is an important consideration. I believe it is an international arrangement. It is one that affects the fisheries of Ireland particularly, and I believe it is not sufficient to guard the fisheries in places like Donegal, at least so I am informed. I do not know whether it is correct or not that a wider limit is necessary in order to prevent the poaching of foreign vessels on Irish fishing grounds, or that Irish patrol boats have no power under international law to interfere with them at present. These are considerations which would enter into any Treaty to which we were a party. Of course, we have not been consulted at all in connection with this. We have not power to discuss amendments to it, and it has not been shown to us yet if it matters whether we pass it or not.

The Senator asked if this Treaty had been submitted to the other Parliaments of the British Commonwealth. It was submitted to all of them. I think the last to pass it was Canada. The Senator also asked what would happen if we did not recommend ratification. I might reply to that in the words of the reply given in the Canadian Parliament, that the British Government would probably re-word the Treaty and exempt from its provisions the country so dissenting. This Treaty came about in this way. There was an amendment to the American Constitution, to Article 18 I think it was, bringing in prohibition. That amendment was made operative, made effective legally by an Act, known, I think, as the Volstead Act, which stated that liquor should not be exported, imported or transmitted through American territory. The Americans had to seize boats. There was a big, highly immoral, and very lucrative business run, not so much from the Emerald Isle, possibly, as the Senator said, as from, say, the Bahamas. This business was going on and the American Government was seizing ships. A case was brought into court in which it was decided, as it obviously must be decided, that American territory included all areas where American sovereignty existed. That included the territorial waters, because the Act said that liquor could not be transported or transmitted through American territory, which meant that liquor on ships, even under seal, had to be seized by the American Government. That gave a great deal of trouble, and, in the event of our having a mercantile marine, we might say that if we do not "bootleg" we do certainly produce intoxicating liquor in this country, and we might be exporting such liquor to a country where it would be necessary for the boats incidentally to call at an American port. Without signing this Treaty, all liquor on board a boat would be seized by the American Government. Thequid pro quo that is got from the American Government for this is, that liquor under seal on boats, and recognised as ships' stores, is not seized under the Treaty. The Treaty had to be made because the question had already been raised in the courts. It was made by the Constitution and by the Act. As far as the Constitution was concerned, it would not affect ships, because the Constitution does not apply a penalty. Therefore, the thing was inoperative except by means of the Act. A Treaty over-rides an Act. This Treaty has been ratified, I think, or will be ratified, in the American House of Representatives. That has the effect of over-riding the Volstead Act as far as the terms of this Treaty are concerned. That means to say that the liquor on boats does not have to be seized.

With regard to the use of the words "British boats," I understand that the Department of Industry and Commerce have had on hands for some time past a Merchant Shipping Act which will affect that. You will have the Act first and, I suppose, you will have the merchant shipping afterwards. I do not believe we can anticipate being a great mercantile marine country. We were consulted with regard to this Treaty both by despatch and in the Imperial Conference. I myself in the Imperial Conference recommended, as far as my voice went, that we should meet America on this. During the last two years I, as a member of a Government, realised a thing that possibly I did not realise before, and that is that when a law is made in a country, irrespective of whether it is good or bad, that law has to be applied. The Americans have made this law, and I recognised that it was certainly the business of the Government there to see that that law was enforced. There was no doubt whatever about it. I have heard myself of cases of ships running liquor over there, and on one journey making tremendous sums of money. The way it was worked was that the ships went and lay outside the three-mile limit— usually slow-going vessels. Then quick motor-boats came from the mainland, took the liquor and went ashore with it. If we had rather a better supply of ships when there was a good deal of gun-running last year, we might also want to go outside the three-mile limit, and at present we might very easily want to go outside the three-mile limit to deal with foreign trawlers in our waters. This Treaty decides that, irre spective of the three-mile limit, search and seizure may take place to one hour's distance from the coast. The one hour's distance applies to the boat that takes the liquor to the land. For instance, when a slow-going vessel goes and lies outside the three-mile limit a fast motor-boat comes out to take the liquor back. The hour's journey is the journey of the motor-boat.

With regard to the words "British ships," that is more a matter for the Attorney-General to explain. The word "British" is a word with two connotations. There is Great Britain and there is the British Commonwealth of Nations. Inasmuch as this Treaty has been adopted by the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, I presume that the words "British ship" refers to any ship belonging to any country included in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Since coming to the Seanad it has been suggested to me that we were attempting to conceal something. That is not a fact. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I might as well say, the Treaty is as it is there. That is the Treaty submitted to us and as we agreed to it up to the time of its signature by the British Ambassador in Washington. When the Treaty is set out, there is to it a Preamble. In order to avoid any misunderstanding, with the permission of An Cathaoirleach, I may as well read the Preamble, which is as follows:—

Washington,

January 23, 1924.

His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India;

And the President of the United States of America;

Being desirous of avoiding any difficulties which might arise between them in connection with the laws in force in the United States on the subject of alcoholic beverages;

Have decided to conclude a convention for that purpose;

And have appointed as their Plenipotentiaries;

His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India;

The Right Honourable Sir Auckland Campbell Geddes, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., his Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America;

The President of the United States of America;

Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State of the United States;

It has been suggested to me, since I came into the Seanad, that it was objectionable that the Preamble, which is not part of the Treaty, has the phrase "His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." I may as well explain, as far as I understand it, that that is a remnant of pre-Treaty days. I have myself suggested to the British a new interpretation. At present that title is actually attributed to the Crown. I have suggested that it is now obsolete. It is a matter that would require an Act of Parliament in England. I have not pressed for a change until the actual definition with regard to the Boundary here is settled. We can then see quite distinctly what definition is to apply to the term "United Kingdom." I mention this as it has been suggested that this document might commit us to something. The terms on the Orders of the Day are the terms of the Treaty. The Preamble is not an essential part of the Treaty as submitted to us. With regard to ratification and the words "His Majesty," ratification between heads of States, as far as Ireland is concerned, has to be done through the machinery of the Crown. It is a question of at whose instance that ratification takes place. In this instance, as far as the Free State is concerned, the ratification will be done at the instance of the Irish Government.

Question put and declared carried.