There is a motion on the Orders of the Day by Senator Sir Thomas Esmonde. He is not here, but he asked a Senator to move it, that Senator is not here, but he asked another Senator to move it. The latter Senator is not here, either, and he asked me to move it, and as I am in the Chair possibly it would be convenient for someone to move it, so that the Minister would be in order to speak on it.
SEANAD RESUMES. - THE LAUSANNE TREATY.
I beg to move it. It reads:—
I dtreo ná beidh aon amhrus réasúnta i dtaobh staid na síochána do bheith socair idir Shaorstát Eireann agus an Phoblacht Thurcach, go n-údaruíonn an Seanad don Ard-Chomhairle aontú le daingniú Chonnra Lausanne, ach go dtuigfar go soiléir ná fuil aon cheangail ag an Saorstát á chur air féin leis sin lasmuich de bhunú na síochána (mara ndinidh an tOireachtas ina dhiaidh seo na ceangail sin do chur air féin le reachtúchán).
That the Seanad, in order that the state of peace may be established beyond all reasonable doubt as between Saorstát Eireann and the Turkish Republic, authorises the Executive Council to acquiesce in the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne, provided that it be clearly understood that (unless the Oireachtas shall hereafter undertake such commitments by legislation) the Saorstát thereby incurs no commitments other than the definite establishment of peace.
I second it.
I think it would be convenient if the Minister would explain the position without prejudice to speaking at the end.
This Treaty has been put down on the Orders of the Day. The Treaty in question follows on in this way. On the 5th November, 1914, war was declared upon the Turkish people. That war actually ceased in operation in 1918. A Treaty known as the Treaty of Sevres was negotiated, but it was never ratified. Later on the Treaty known as the Lausanne Treaty was initiated prior to our coming into formal legal existence. The general constitutional rule is that any treaty which is intended to have the Irish Free State as one of its parties at the initiation, negotiation, and signing of such a treaty, the representatives of the States interested should be present and should participate in the matter. In this case the Treaty was initiated prior to our coming into formal legal existence. When we came into formal legal existence we were informed of the progress of the Treaty. We were not represented by plenipotentiaries, nor were we invited to be at the signature. This Treaty is comprised in a big book of 150 pages. (1) The net effect of it is to create a formal state of peace with Turkey; secondly, there is the convention known as the Straits Convention, which indicates that under certain conditions certain Powers may have to undertake warlike operations; thirdly, there is a convention which requires legislation in the various countries concerned, where a question of a contract between persons in one country and in Turkey arose that such a question should be dealt with, not by ordinary courts, but by a body known as the mixed Arbitral Tribunal. We are satisfied, so far as this country is concerned, that the only effect of the Treaty is this—There may be a doubt as to whether we are at war or not with Turkey, but the ratification of this Treaty puts that doubt at an end. It is evidently a matter that could be argued as to whether we are or not.
I do not say that the way in which this Treaty was negotiated or signed was satisfactory to us. It was very far from it. But this Treaty, which took over a year to negotiate, has reached a point when it is being brought into effect, and that depends upon our agreement to its ratification, because it would be unconstitutional if ratification be made on behalf of the British Commonwealth without our agreeing to it. It would be unconstitutional because it was initiated and negotiated on behalf of the whole Commonwealth, and as things are at present with this Treaty unratified and with the Near East in a rather unsettled state, it is in the interests of Europe and in the interests of the world that the Treaty should be ratified with as little delay as possible. Under these circumstances, and these circumstances only, it is proposed that we should acquiesce in its ratification. We do so with very definite stipulations, such as are indicated in the resolution put before you, namely, that it is for the purpose of establishing beyond all reasonable doubt a state of peace, and that it is clearly understood that unless the Oireachtas shall hereafter undertake such commitments by legislation there are no commitments incurred by the Saorstát. Senators may feel misgivings about the Straits Convention as to whether we are committed to the possibility of war.
I wish to point out, if Senators will look at the Straits Convention, they will have no doubt or be in any doubt as to our judgment in that Convention. The expression "Great Britain" is used as far as the Council of the League of Nations is concerned, under certain circumstances. The Council of the League of Nations might decide that warlike action should be taken. If the Council decide that unanimously, Great Britain, but not the other States who are members of the Commonwealth, would be committed to take warlike action. The only possibility that any Senator could have any doubts about would be that the Assembly of the League of Nations might, under Article 12 of the Covenant, decide that warlike action should be taken. But I might inform the Senators that following on the statement I made here on the matter of the League of Nations Bill I wrote the purport of that statement to the League of Nations as a condition precedent to our entering the League of Nations. That statement of mine pointed out that we joined the League of Nations following the direct legislation of our Legislature, and that we could only operate subject to our Constitution, Article 49 of which stated that this country could not go to war except by the expressed sanction of the Oireachtas. Under these circumstances, it means that we cannot be committed to any warlike action except by the express action of the Seanad and the Dáil, which forms the Legislature of this country.
It seems to me a very extraordinary procedure that we should be asked to ratify a Treaty or agree to a Treaty or acknowledge a Treaty that we have not signed. That Treaty has not been placed on the Table of the Seanad, so far as I know.
It is on the Table.
When was it put there?
It has been there all day.
One cannot read that treaty and discuss it since this morning. We have had other things to do. It certainly would be very unfair to ask us. Now the Minister says it is unconstitutional for the Empire or Commonwealth to make any treaty in which every member of that Commonwealth does not agree. Well, then, in future time there will be a great many treaties. I have no doubt various nations are always making treaties, but the Commonwealth or Empire is never to make any treaty if every one of its constituent parts do not agree. There will be no treaties at all in that case, because I think the Free State will certainly object to a great many treaties that will be made, and then such treaties go by the board. They cannot be made. South Africa may object, and, if they do, the treaties cannot be made. I do not know how it will get on, but the result will be that there will be no treaties. It will be impossible to make treaties. I do not profess to know a great deal about this Treaty of Lausanne. I remember seeing it discussed in the English papers. I remember a great lot of quarrels going on on this subject between the English Ministers and the Turks, and I read, too, that there were a great deal of quarrels between the Allies themselves. What happened was, there was a Treaty of Sevres, in which certain Powers divided Turkey amongst themselves. They left the Turks a little spot in the centre of Asia Minor. The Turks did not approve of that and proceeded to fight. England succeeded in occupying Constantinople. She got herself a pretty safe footing in Constantinople, where she wanted to remain, just as she remained in Egypt, slipping in and keeping up whatever pretext might be made. It was a very nice little scheme, and has very often succeeded, I must say, in the past. On this occasion it did not succeed. The French said, "Very well, you made an alliance with the Greeks and prevented the Turks coming to the Straits. Now we will join the Turks." The French joined the Turks and supplied them with ammunition and arms. The English backed the wrong horse. The Greeks were beaten, and the Turks went to Constantinople and captured it. The English got into a nice fix then.
They then proceeded to arrange the Treaty of Lausanne and lay down certain terms which the Turks would not have. Lord Curzon was there and tried to bluff them by taking a train and packing off to London, after telling them he would not have any more to say to them. The Turks were not in the least put out and maintained their position. As they were prepared to fight, and as the English were not prepared to fight, naturally they won, and got whatever they wanted in the Treaty of Lausanne. All these things are so disgraceful, and there have been so many intrigues and so much dirty work mixed up with them, that I distinctly object to Ireland being mixed up in or recognising this Treaty, good or bad. Why should we be mixed up in it? The Saorstát had nothing to do with the war, as it was not in existence at the time. We had something else in existence then. It was the United Kingdom or the Republic. Not a single Saorstát soldier fought in the war, as the Treaty was entered into before the Saorstát came into existence. Let England or the Imperial Government, or whatever it is called, make peace and make a Treaty, but let us keep our hands clear of this dirty work in which there were intrigues between the different nations. What that Treaty resulted in was a wholesale massacre of Christians. There was about one million Christians in Asia Minor. The Turks proceeded to massacre a great many of them and drove the rest into Greece, where they are starving. I know that there has been a good deal of twisting of words in the motion in order to try and get us out of this matter as much as possible.
We acquiesced in the Treaty of Lausanne, and that is a thing that I distinctly object to. I do not think we should have anything to do with that Treaty. It is being sought to spread abroad that if Ireland does not sign this Treaty negotiations will have to begin all over again. Does the Minister or any reasonable person suppose that if we decline to have anything to do with the Treaty of Lausanne that the whole thing would be scrapped, and that England and the other countries would go to war to fight it out because we objected to this Treaty? That proposition is ludicrous, and is put up to induce us to sign this Treaty. That we object to and the country will object to it very much. That is only one of those usual pleas brought here for us to swallow wholesale, and to get us to pass this. Suppose we do not agree, what is going to happen? Plenty of wars have been ended without a Treaty, and we can pass a resolution to end this war. I suggest instead of this long statement in which we are trying to get out of various things and not commit ourselves we could make a very simple statement. I propose this amendment: "That without pledging the Irish Free State to the Treaty of Lausanne, the Seanad authorises the Executive Council to declare a state of peace to exist between the Irish Free State and the Turkish Empire." It seems to me that by simply doing that we get out of all these difficulties, and get away from the Treaty of Lausanne. Let it be understood that we are not in future to be bothered by any of these things. I think the Minister said the other day in the Dáil that this thing would not happen any more; at least I think he said something of that sort. Does that mean that no Treaty would be made again without consulting us? I am not very fond of these consultations, and I think the Saorstát would be better out of them. They mix us up with all sorts of Imperial questions, and matters which are generally concerned with the getting of gold or territory, or one thing or another, from this country or any other country.
That is the chief object of the amendment.
I second the amendment.
I desire to say with regard to treaties generally that I think we need not concern ourselves very much with them. We will not dominate the situation at any time, and the main or dominating interest controls the situation. It may be said that there is not in existence to-day a treaty that existed ten years ago. When the strain come they all fell through, and they were treated as scraps of paper. As to this particular Treaty, as far as we are concerned, we were not in existence at the time it was made. Does it now await the signatures of the various Ambassadors or Deputies for completion?
No; it waits for ratification.
We were part of the United Kingdom at the time, and we had no legal separate national existence, and in that sense we were not represented in any of the negotiations leading up to this Treaty, or the drafting of it afterwards. Before it was completed or ratified the change took place, and the Free State was established. Now, the Commonwealth of Nations takes the place of the United Kingdom, and could we, as one of the units of the Commonwealth of Nations, object as a unit to all that has been done in the text of the document? The Minister has given a digest of the main features of this Treaty and its purport, and as to our liabilities attaching to it. Somebody may have a liability to go to war. We here by Article 49 of our Constitution decided that we shall not be brought into war without the consent of the Oireachtas. To that extent our constitutional status may be in conflict with some of the unimplied liabilities or commitments in this Treaty. We do not know, we are not familiar with the text of the arrangement.
I take the Minister's assurance that they also take a constitutional attitude, and that our limitations in that respect as defined by the Constitution, do not conflict in any way with some of the stipulations of this Treaty, and that there is no liability as to war or contributing towards any wars that may arise. It states here: "To acquiesce in the ratification of the Treaty provided that it be clearly understood that unless the Oireachtas hereinafter undertake such commitments by legislation, the Saorstát thereby incurs no commitments other than the definite establishment of peace." Why should it be clearly understood? There must be something wanted still. We put in that stipulation to be clearly understood. By whom? Is it by the parties to the Treaty? This assent goes forward with this tail to it, and it is a question whether we can make that stipulation, or whether that is what is required or not. I think our absolute unqualified assent is what is required, but we, of course, must put in that stipulation in order to keep ourselves within Article 49 of our Constitution. I would rather take the suggestion made by Senator Colonel Moore. If that would enable the Treaty to be ratified, it would be the safest course for the Saorstát to pursue. There would be no ambiguity about the position then, and it would declare that we, as a nation, are not at war, but in absolutely peaceful terms. That is in effect what they want to express, and if we give that assurance, and that comes from the Government, I do not think that will in any way place any embargo or put any obstacle in the way of other parties to the Treaty ratifying and completing the document.
It is a question like this that makes me into what I might call a constitutional Republican, because really the status of the Saorstát is not much less than a Republic, except in a case of this kind when we are dragged at the tail of the British Empire. As Senator Colonel Moore pointed out, if we signed this we shall be, putting it in popular phraseology, doing it under duress. Personally, I think we ought to agree to the ratification more or less under duress. It was not, however, so much to say that that I rose as to take this opportunity of reminding the Seanad that about a month or so ago we passed a resolution making a suggestion to the Dáil that there should be a Joint Committee of the two Houses on foreign affairs. As far as I know, that has not been considered. It certainly has been ignored by the Dáil, and we received no reply. I take this opportunity of reminding the Seanad that such a resolution was passed, and in so doing I may remark that this very Treaty of Lausanne was referred by the French Parliament to their Foreign Relations Committee. If we had a Foreign Relations Committee to refer these things to, possibly we should be able to discuss them with more knowledge.
I am very glad Senator MacLysaght mentioned that resolution of the Seanad. I do not suppose we could ever get a better example of the want of such a Committee to advise us on foreign affairs than is afforded by this amendment. None of us, including my friend, Senator Moore, seems to know a great deal about it, and if we had some members of the Seanad who were acquainted with the matter and could have really explained the whole thing to us and dealt with it in a practical way, we would know a great deal more about it. Here we are now discussing what is really a great international question, perhaps with actually no knowledge.
And without a quorum?
We take it for granted that the quality of those present will make up for that. The point I make is this: As far as Senator Moore's proposal goes it is that we should deal with the matter in the resolution which he has brought forward instead of dealing with it as the Minister has asked us to do, and as the Dáil has agreed to do, and without any knowledge that this proposal would in any shape or form meet the ideas of the Turkish Republic. I suppose there has been a great deal of difficulty in arranging these matters, and undoubtedly the Turkish Republic has agreed to accept these terms of peace. Whether they would consider it wise or whether they would accept the offer we make I do not know, but I can see that supposing the Dáil was to agree with the Seanad if we pass this resolution, we might meet with a very serious rebuff by the Turkish Republic telling us that they did not know anything about us, and that they would not recognise our interference in this matter at all. I doubt if it is consistent with the dignity of the Seanad not to take the advice of the Minister and follow the course which the Dáil has done, and agree in this instance to do the necessary thing to enable the Treaty to be ratified. We might, in a casual way here this evening, be really upsetting something quite serious. It must have taken a considerable time to arrange the terms of peace with Turkey, and for any of us to say we would do the slightest thing to interfere with such an arrangement would be a serious matter, and nothing that I have heard here this evening at any rate would induce me to vote for Senator Moore's resolution or amendment to the proposal of the Minister. I do hope that the Senator will not take up an attitude that may have a very far-reaching consequence without any of us having any idea of these matters, which were well thrashed out in the Dáil. I think it would be wise to follow that example.
I regret to say that I consider the proposed amendment by Senator Moore as absolutely impossible and unconstitutional. I have not said anything in the resolution committing us to saying whether we are at war or not at war with Turkey. War was declared on behalf of the whole British Empire on November 5th, 1914. At that time I was on one side and Colonel Moore was on another. I strongly felt at that time that Ireland should not be connected with such a war. I was belonging to the Irish Volunteers that split upon that very point. Constitutionally and internationally I think we cannot get out of the fact that in a war declared on behalf of the British Empire, internationally Ireland was recognised as part of the British Empire, and was at war with Turkey. The ratifying machinery for such a Treaty as this is usually the Crown. Senator Moore waves to one side as ridiculous my statement that it is unconstitutional for this Treaty to be ratified without our acquiescence. I have used the word "acquiescence" very carefully. I have not used the word "recommended," and I have not used the word "concurred," because I consider that the negotiation of this Treaty was done in a way which, if not absolutely unconstitutional, bordered upon it. We, in this Resolution, state clearly our stipulation. This is a big Treaty of 150 pages long, but we state that we will not object to the machinery of the Crown being used for the ratification of this Treaty, provided that—provided that it was provided— that as far as this country is concerned we are committed to do nothing whatsoever except where some people might be in doubt as to whether we are at war or peace now, that there might be no further doubt whatsoever about it. That is clearly set out there, and that is what we are committed to. It is the fact—Senator Moore might wish it was not, and he might say so—but that it is unconstitutional for a Treaty negotiated on behalf of the whole British community of nations to be ratified without the concurrence or acquiescence of all the governments or states which form the British Empire.
The Senator referred to my statement in the Dáil that this sort of thing would not happen again. What is this sort of thing? It is that a plenipotentiary appointed by one State of the British community of nations initiated, negotiated and signed a Treaty. Not only that cannot happen again, but the fact that this Treaty was done in such an undesirable way has brought up the whole question. It was pointed out by Colonel Moore that no Treaty would be ever negotiated again which would take six governments to agree to its ratification. I think it must be recognised now that the existing machinery for such an arrangement is out of date for some time. I explained in the Dáil that although the declaration of the equality of the nations forming the British community of nations has been made, the machinery for implementing that equality was not up to date. It must necessarily come up to date sooner or later. This Lausanne Treaty has brought one aspect of the machinery to the forefront, and made it necessary for this matter to be cleared up. I cannot say on what lines it will be decided that things will be done in future. I pointed out to the Dáil, a few nights ago, that it could be met in this way. A Treaty could be initiated say to change to a state of peace. Six or seven co-equal members of the British community would be represented there by plenipotentiaries. The main point is they all agree on peace. That involves a great many other considerations, such as the limitation of boundaries and so on. They all agree on the main features of the Treaty, but when it comes to the setting down of the clauses of the Treaty they may disagree on the various clauses.
I suggest that parallel Treaties may be made agreeing in the main object of the Treaty, but possibly diverging as to the various clauses of the Treaty. In the Dáil also, a month or two ago, when I was speaking on the Liquor Treaty of America, I said I could not consider ourselves as bound by the clauses of the Lausanne Treaty, and I still cannot consider ourselves bound. We had nothing to do with the making of it, and were only presented with it at the end. I am satisfied myself, and I think the British Government agree with me, that actually in the Treaty so far as our interests are involved, there is no vital thing except the removal of doubt as to whether we are at peace or war. The other conventions do not affect us. The other conventions do not affect us because the machinery cannot involve us or the terms of our joining the League of Nations or the general situation of the League of Nations, and the mixed tribunal cannot involve us because none of our nationals have been involved in practices which would have to go before a mixed tribunal.
We have to recognise what the constitutional position is. Supposing even now when this Treaty was initiated that we say we do not like the way you are going on, and suppose that had been agreed. When it came to the ratification of the Treaty the affair would have been met at the instance of the Government of the Irish Free State. We might say we are not at war with Turkey. The Turks might think otherwise. They might proceed to intern our people, if we have people in Constantinople and other places, to-morrow. There are certain international ways of doing it. A change from war to peace should be conveyed to the Turkish Governmentpar voie diplomatique. It is not done by one of us sitting up here and saying we are not at war with Turkey. My saying it here at another time did not make much difference. Unfortunately, I was in a minority at that time. Colonel Moore has suggested that the wording of this resolution was put for the bewilderment of the Seanad. It is nothing of the sort. We have a certain constitutional position to safeguard and certain rights and certain interests. We recognise it is desirable that this Treaty should be ratified in a general way.
It has been ratified by Turkey, Japan, and Italy, and it has to be ratified by England and France, and is to become operative when we complete its ratification. I think three on the one side have to ratify it. We recognise it is necessary in the interests of the world generally that this Treaty should be cleared away with as little delay as possible. Its constitutional effect is that it cannot, as it stands, be ratified except we make it clear that we are not objecting on our behalf to the ratification. In doing that we must also make it clear that we cannot take for the past at any time responsibility. We are prepared to do it as far as the definition of peace is concerned, but we cannot take over any responsibility for any arrangements made by the British plenipotentiary on the one side and the Turkish plenipotentiary on the other. We desire to have the matter cleared up. There is no other machinery I can see at the moment for clearing it up except by the means I see here. We agree to this, and we make it clear where we stand on this. We make it clear that we object to the Royal Title used in this as in the Liquor Treaty.
I understand that steps are being taken to have the Royal Title in accordance with the state of facts as created by the signing of the Treaty of 1921. It is also recognised in regard to Canada, as well as to ourselves, that the machinery which has been used up to the present is not in accord with the present conditions of things nor in accord with the equality that exists. That equality, I admit, creates a very complicated situation, and it is necessary, and I think the British Government have publicly indicated it is necessary, that at some early date consideration must be given to what machinery will be used in cases such as this and other similar cases in order that the co-equal States may work in harmony towards one end and at the same time make their mutual independence perfectly clear. With regard to the Foreign Affairs Committee, there was a resolution passed here some time ago suggesting that a Foreign Affairs Committee should be formed and suggesting the lines on which it should go. The matter was put before the Dáil, and the Dáil, so far, has taken no action on the matter. I do not quite see how the Ministry can be put on Commission, particularly a Ministry like the Ministry of External Affairs which involves the receiving of a great many confidential documents and despatches that the Minister is not at liberty to publish.
It is done in France, America and other countries.
I do not see how it would be possible here. I do not know that was the idea of the motion, which was that a joint committee of the Seanad and Dáil should be formed for the consideration of foreign policy and foreign affairs. The Dáil has not taken any action in the matter, but if the Seanad wishes to have such a committee and to have a copy of the Lausanne Treaty, and to go through these Treaties very carefully, I do not see what is to prevent the Seanad from doing it. So far as the Lausanne Treaty is concerned, this resolution makes it perfectly clear that the only thing we are doing is to establish that the state of peace shall be clear and definite, and shall not be doubtful, and that whatever else may be in the Treaty we accept responsibility for nothing else whatsoever.