The next amendment is in the name of Deputy Gavan Duffy.
The amendment was:—Article 59—"To delete the words, `who shall be styled Governor-General of the Irish Free State.' "
Vol. 1 No. 24
The next amendment is in the name of Deputy Gavan Duffy.
The amendment was:—Article 59—"To delete the words, `who shall be styled Governor-General of the Irish Free State.' "
I propose to leave out the title Governor-General, and I am proposing this and several other amendments separately in connection with the Governor-General clause. I want to make it quite clear that there is no reason to confound these amendments with those of a different character moved to other clauses on the last reading which the Ministry considered it vital to oppose. I want rather to emphasise that distinction in the case of those other amendments. I have not repeated them on this reading. I have practically confined myself to the amendments to this clause, which I deferred on the last reading, because having made the strongest protest I could I do not feel I can add anything to it by merely repeating, and also because it is now generally accepted that these difficult matters were pressed upon us, on the ground that circumstances which have been described rendered it essential. It is clear we are not accepting them, as if they were the interpretation that we would put into our Constitution in other circumstances, and moreover the Ministry have made one very signal concession in altering the power of amendment to the Constitution. It is the most important amendment we have had. This Governor-General clause stands on a totally different footing. None of these amendments here, if carried—no single one of them—I think, I may say this without fear of contradiction—will create any difficulty as between us and Great Britain. I first ask that the Dáil should not call this gentleman, who represents His Britannic Majesty, by the particular name of Governor-General. You may say there is not much in a name. That name, at all events, is objectionable to a great many of us, because it connotes the idea of domination; it connotes a great deal more than is really carried with the office in fact. Of course, he must have a name in due time as representative, but that name is not a matter of any urgency. Nobody who wants this Treaty put into force, seriously desires to see a merely trivial name given him, or a derogatory name, but, on the other hand, many of us feel strongly that such a name as Governor-General, connoting what that word does, should not be given to him. We are in no way bound to give it. There is nothing to make it necessary—and I fancy the Minister for Home Affairs will agree with me—to put any name at all in the Constitution. The Constitution is just as complete, if we leave that until later on. There is a difference of opinion as to what the name should be. I do not think anybody is enthusiastic about this particular name; therefore, I propose that the Dáil delete so much of the Clause, as gives an undesirable name to the British representative who is to come here.
I beg to second the amendment. I will not repeat more than is absolutely necessary the arguments that I addressed to An Dáil on this topic previously. The title Governor-General as used in Canada and Australia is pretty much the same sort of survival, as we have seen in other portions of the Constitutions in which so many things are done in the name of the King. The word Governor-General in those Dominions is a continuation of their history beginning with the time when they were British possessions. Canada was a colony, Australia was a colony. They have grown into statehood, but they have retained the title of Governor-General. Although he is only a figurehead he is as much a symbol of the Crown in those Dominions as other fictions of a Constitutional nature, but to go outside the Treaty and to adopt for the sake of symmetry with the Dominions—that we are declared by the Treaty to have equal status with—is really to import a term that will have evil connotation. One of the soundest maxims of Constitutional law is that the King reigns but does not govern. Now, the name Governor-General suggests government, and even though the name is eviscerated—and is in fact eviscerated, of all such reference in Australia and Canada where the constitutional growth has had that effect — the introduction of the name here gratuitously will suggest to the unthinking at any rate, that in some way we have got a new Constitution in Ireland, under which there is a Governor who governs. Some name less suggestive of what is unhistorical or hurtful may easily be found later on. The title in the Treaty to be quite accurate, it is not a title, it is merely a denomination—is the representative of the Crown. The Crown representative would be a convenient abbreviation of it, though I think, on second thoughts, it would be objectionable to many people in Ireland as bringing into every day usage, and thrusting prominently upon the notice of everyone the fact of the Crown being a constitutent element in our Executive and Legislature. I myself for historical reasons would favour the title of Lord Deputy inasmuch as no matter what hateful associations it has out of past history, at any rate, it has its place in the earlier history of our relations with the British Crown. It seems to me the Constitution may very well be left open in this regard. I recognise the force of what the Minister in charge of the Bill put to us on a previous occasion; to wit that this is an agreed Article. Now it is an agreed Article with the sole exception of the introduction of the title Governor-General. If that is eliminated there is no conflict whatsoever. As Deputy Gavan Duffy has pointed out there is no occasion for friction with the British Government upon the matter, and the wisdom or historical research of the Dáil at a later period, or of some member of it, may supply us with a happier title and one less suggestive of what is objectionable.
I do not think it matters very much what the name of the Crown Representative is to be; it is really the power he will have. But if there is a serious objection to the name, there is no reason, to my mind, why it should be given this Irish title, which covers both the title of Governor-General and Crown Representative: "Fear Ionad an Righe."
We will confine ourselves to the name of that officer. It is suggested to delete the title Governor-General. Now, the representatives of the Provisional Government when in London agreed to accept that title. They agreed because of its fixed meaning, and because of its general meaning, for the moment that you accept that name you stamp the man's limitations in a way that people all over the British Commonwealth of Nations will understand, and understand readily. You secure, further, that if he goes, or attempts to go, outside these limitations, it will be resented in all these places, because this word has a very definite connotation for them, and it is in their interests that a Governor-General should not attempt to outstep his limitations. For that reason, while there is nothing in the Treaty binding us to adopt that particular title, it was considered advisable to adopt it, and we recommend it very strongly to the Dáil. If that title is changed, say, by an Imperial Conference, naturally we get the advantage of the change; but if we go out on our own, and call this gentleman a High Commissioner, or some such title as that, then we have to face the fact that we do not stamp his limitations in a way that people in Canada, Australia, or South Africa will understand. There is the fact that to their minds, at any rate, a High Commissioner conveys some idea of inferiority of status, and the British do not send High Commissioners to places that are autonomous; they send them only to such places as have one form or other of Crown Colony government. There would be very serious resentment in South Africa, Canada, or Australia if the British proposed to send a High Commissioner there. These are points worth looking into. But what I feel most strongly is that if we show an attitude of determination to whittle down this gentleman's status and powers, then we may not be as fairly met as we would otherwise be on the important and what I consider the paramount question of the identity of the gentleman. That is the thing that matters, and not what you would call him. The man, his outlook, and his nationality are the things that will matter. What I suggest is that if we show we are approaching this particular matter from a special angle, then it will become a thorny matter with the British, and they will approach it from a special angle of their own, and there will be less prospect of fair agreement on the question of the identity of the official, whether you decide to call him Governor-General or anything else. Mere wisdom, mere expediency—and we are not one bit afraid of the word expediency—seem to dictate that acceptance of the title with a view to a satisfactory appointment.
May I say to the Minister it is not proposed to whittle down any power the Treaty gives? That is a misunderstanding. The suggestion is merely not to give this particular name. The Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State— those are all different names.
I think the argument that has been adduced is not that the name of the Governor-General in the first appointment shall be changed, but that this title should not be contained in the Constitution. That is the argument. If, for instance, the proposition was the suggestion that the Minister for Home Affairs has made, that at some future Imperial Council the British Commonwealth decided to change the name of the Representative of the Crown in Australia, it would require a change in the Irish Constitution to alter the title of the Irish Representative of the Crown. That is an argument that should have weight with Ministers. It is not that the next Governor-General, or the first Governor-General, or the first Representative of the Crown must be given a particular title. That title can be arrived at by agreement between Ministers, or between the Dáil and the British Government if they wish. The objection is to the fixing of that title for ever, or until the Irish Constitution is changed in a formal manner. That is the argument in favour of the deletion of this name. There is no necessity, as has been pointed out by the Deputy who moved the motion, in the Treaty to put this in the Constitution, and why we should go out of our way to fix it upon ourselves passes my comprehension.
On a division the amendment was defeated by 27 votes to 18, the voting being as follows:—
Pádraig Ó Gamhna.Tomás de Nógla.Riobárd Ó Deaghaidh.Liam de Róiste.Tomás Mac Eoin.Seoirse Ghabhain Uí Dhubhthaigh.Liam Ó Briain.Liam Mag Aonghusa.Pádraic Ó Máille.Tomás Ó Conaill.Seosamh Ó Faoileacháin.Aodh Ó Cúlacháin.Séamus Éabhróid.Liam Ó Daimhín.Seán Ó Laidhin.Tomás Ó Domhnaill.Nioclás Ó Faoláin.Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.
Úáitear Mac Cumhaill.Seán Ó Lidheadha.Micheál Ó hAonghusa.Seán Mac Haol.Séamus Breathnach.Seán Ó Ruanaidh.Micheál de Duram.Ailfrid Ó Broin.Sir Séamus Craig.Gearóid Mac Giobúin.Liam Thrift.Eoin Mac Néill.Pádraig Ó hOgáin.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Séamus Ó Cruadhlaoich.Criostóir Ó Broin.Risteárd Mac Liam.Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.Tomás Mac Artúir.Aindriú Ó Laimhín.Proinsias Mag Aonghusa.Eámon Ó Dúgáin.Peadar Ó hAodha.Séamus Ó Murchadha.Earnan de Blaghd.Micheál Ó Dubhghaill.
The next Amendment 18(b) is:—To substitute for the words “in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada and in accordance with the practice in the making of such appointments” the words “with the assent of the Executive Council.”
In moving this amendment I am claiming, I think, the authority of no less a potentate than the Right Honorable David Lloyd George. I very seldom find myself on the same side as that gentleman. I cannot believe but that the Minister will see and that the Dáil will see that it is objectionable to be dragging in other countries as a means of describing powers and other things in our Constitution, unless we are driven to do so. In this particular clause dealing with the Governor-General we bring in Canada and Australia. Would it not be simpler and better and clearer to state exactly what we mean rather than talking about the practice in Canada? What we mean is that this gentleman can only be appointed with the consent of the Irish Executive. If that is what we mean why do we not say so? I want to remind the Dáil of two things, and one of these is a letter from Mr. Lloyd George, and the other is a passage in Keith's "Government of the Dominions." Professor Keith says:—"Is there any valid reason why the choice of the representative of the Crown should not be left to the State Government, whose selection would, normally, if not always, fall upon a local man," and the learned Professor goes on, "logically, indeed, there is no answer to the argument that the choice of the Governor should rest primarily with the State Government subject to the approval of the Crown." Mr. Lloyd George went much further than that. It will be within the recollection of the Dáil that President Griffith found, after coming back from London, after the signing of the Treaty, that certain questions were a little obscure, and he found it would be desirable to have some elucidation, and, consequently, he obtained a letter for the second Dáil from Mr. Lloyd George, the first paragraph of which relates to this particular question. That letter is signed by Mr. Lloyd George, and addressed to President Griffith, and, after quoting Article 3 of the Treaty as to the appointment of the Governor in the same manner as in Canada, and soforth, he says:—"this means that the Government of the Irish Free State will be consulted so as to ensure a selection acceptable to the Irish Government before any recommendation is made to His Majesty." That clearly means that we are not to have foisted upon us a gentleman who is to hold a British Court here. We are going to pay for this gentleman. The British Premier himself admits that they are not to appoint, according to the Dominion practice, a person objectionable to the Irish Executive, and therefore surely it is reasonable that we should say in express terms what we mean as I say in this amendment—that he shall only be appointed with the assent of our Executive. Mr. Lloyd George's letter to Mr. Griffith is not binding upon anybody or upon any British Government, and it will be no answer hereafter to say if there is contention in this matter that Mr. Lloyd George said so and so in his letter; we must put down in black and white what we mean, that this gentleman can only be appointed with the approval of the Irish Council.
I second that amendment. It is unnecessary for me to say anything further.
Deputy Gavan Duffy has claimed for this amendment that it is important that the position should be defined in the Article as it stands. I think it is not important, and I think it might well become in a future time the very reverse of important. Stating the position to be exactly the position of Canada at a time when Canada is developing—she has already developed out of all recognition beyond the Act which embodies her Constitution and that development has not ceased— and there is therefore a certain advantage in stating that your position should be that of Canada, whatever that may be found to be at a future Imperial Conference. If, for instance, Canada wins out to the position of electing her own Governor-General, and that we leave our Article as it stands, which says "that the Representative of the Crown shall be appointed in like manner as the Governor-General of Canada and in accordance with the practice observed in the making of such appointments," obviously we share in the benefits of the Canadian victory upon that particular point. If, on the other hand, we adopt this amendment and insert that he shall be appointed on the advice and with the consent of the Executive, that stereotypes a position here which is capable of development elsewhere. It is well understood that the British signatories to the Treaty last December agreed that the Irish Executive should be consulted in the matter of the appointment, and that no person who was objectionable to the Irish Executive Council will be appointed. The less tampering there is with this Article as it stands the better is the prospect of securing the appointment of a person who will be eminently acceptable to the great majority of the Irish people. This point was found to be one of the most touchy and thorny points with the British and they explained that by saying that it was the one thing left; that it was not a matter of substance really, but that all they had left here in this country was that link of the Crown and that it was important for them; that would have caused them to hold out and fight very bitterly if we rejected that settlement last December. They pointed out that it had a sentimental value, not a value merely to England, but spread around about this thing called the Commonwealth of Nations. Upon that point they were very touchy, and they claimed that it is absolutely all that is left of their connection here and that there is implicit, at any rate, in the Treaty, the undertaking that we will not approach this matter in a derisive or contentious way. If we attempt to interfere with this agreed Article then we put British Ministers and Representatives upon their mettle and the prospects of securing a proper appointment here are proportionately diminished. It is in that spirit we would like Deputies to view this Article and its contents. And that it will be always the man who holds the position that will matter—the man and his mentality—and not the written words in the Constitution which not ten per cent. of the people of Ireland will read or lose a moment's sleep about. The kind of person that is appointed and the kind of household he runs and the kind of mentality and outlook he displays will have their re-actions—very far-reaching re-actions in the future life of this country and that is why we ought not to cast away the substance in bothering about trifles and bothering about ink and paper and bothering about shadows.
Might I ask a question before the Minister finishes? I did not make a speech in order to save time. I wanted to hear the Minister. Would he adopt this quotation from Duncan Hall's "British Commonwealth of Nations"? Sir Robert Borden, the great authority on Constitutional Law and Relations, in 1917, laid down the principle: "That the Crown, in its relations to any Dominion, acts upon the advice of the duly constituted Government or Cabinet of that Dominion." If that is Sir Robert Borden's view, is it the view of the Irish Ministry or is it not? If it is the view of the Irish Ministry, what objection can there be to putting it or the equivalent of it, expressly as the Irish interpretation of our relations to the Crown and the Imperial Parliament into this Constitution?
Is that a question, or is it only a rhetorical question — I mean, does the Deputy expect an answer?
It is an argumentative question.
Well, I do not like to adopt anything like that out of its context. I do not know the text. I have not read a book for the last four or five years. I have had no time.
The amendment was negatived.
I understand 18(c) has been accepted —i.e., to substitute for the words “the salary of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State” the words “his salary.”
We accept that.
Now we come to amendment 18(d):—
"To substitute for the words `of the like amount as that now payable to the Governor-General of Australia' the words `ten thousand pounds, until otherwise provided by the Parliament/ Oireachtas'; or, alternatively, the words `ten thousand pounds, unless altered by the Parliament/Oireachtas.' "
Whatever may have been agreed upon in London, I press this amendment upon the Dáil and upon the Ministry as one of some importance, and one in no way conflicting with the Article before the Dáil; but a very considerable improvement to it. I propose that, instead of talking vaguely about the amount to be paid to the Governor of Australia, as we do in the draft, we should mention a specific sum of £10,000, and then qualify that with the words "until otherwise provided by Parliament," or, alternatively, with the words "unless altered by Parliament." I am putting those alternatives down in order to give the Ministry an opportunity of selecting the one they like best between the Canadian precedent and the Australian precedent. There is surely an objection to fixing here and now definitely that sum which is to be paid to this gentleman as being whatever sum the Australians may choose to give their man. How can it be defended that we should pledge ourselves in advance?
Do you notice the word "now" in the Article?
Well, then, let us fix it without reference to Australia. Let us fix the amount; but the more important part of the amendment is that it stipulates that we should have power to change this sum. You must have some lever upon this gentleman. You must have some means of securing his good conduct. The British Dominions have taken good care under their Constitutions to reserve to themselves such a lever. It is worthy of notice that in this draft Constitution there is a special provision made for a suitable official residence for the Governor-General. Well, I suppose it would be churlish to propose to leave that out, but it is more satisfactory to propose that we have the right to decide how much salary he is to have. But that phrase about providing him with an official residence and establishment is not to be found in the Dominion Constitutions, and is put in here because an agreement was come to in London, when the British Government was in a rage. I cannot find it in any other Dominion Constitution. If it is there I shall be glad to be told about it. I say this is a special provision with which Ireland is saddled. When we agreed to have him, we would give him a residence, but there is no need to put that into the Constitution. And its insertion makes it all the more necessary that we should not be bound by the figure of £10,000. Now, I ask the Minister's attention to the Canadian Constitution, Section 105, of the Canadian Act says:—"Unless altered by the Parliament of Canada, the salary of the Governor-General shall be £10,000 sterling." The Australian sections, Section 3, uses the words "Until altered by Parliament." Now, it can not be undesirable that we should there grasp the power which those Dominions already have of stating in their Constitution that their Parliament can change the Governor-General's salary, can change it any day they like. If Australia has thought it necessary to do that, if Canada has thought it necessary to do that, why are we to be debarred from doing it especially in a country where money will be a very important matter? I press upon the Ministers the desirability of insisting here upon establishing in the Constitution what is absolutely a clear right, and establishing a thing the insertion of which in the Constitution cannot be said to infringe any verbal arrangements that were come to in London.
I second that amendment. I have already spoken at, I fear, considerable length against the whole clause in Committee. It is most objectionable that Ireland's public funds should be made chargeable for the maintenance of the official residence and establishment. However, I realise the futility of opposing that further, and will not waste time upon it. There is an opportunity here to take power for the Irish Free State which is already in the possession of the Dominions with which we are to be upon a parity. There is nothing contrary to the Treaty in this, and there is nothing anti-British in it— there is no people in the world that exhibit so keen and so close an appreciation of the need for the control of the public funds and the public purse as the British people, and I think, instead of their resentment being roused by any claim being made here to this effect, they would rather admire the Dáil for what they would call their business capacity.
We do not accept the amendment. This particular matter of the amount of the salary of the Governor-General was raised in London. None of us was particularly briefed on the matter, and the amount paid in each of the Dominions was gone into, and it was found that the fairest settlement of the amount would be simply to take Australia, because of the similarity in population and general wealth of the country. I have no objection personally to this — to ask, say, some officials in the Finance Department to find out what exactly, in money and perquisites, if I may say so, is the value of the salary paid to the Governor-General of Australia, and, instead of putting in this reference to Australia, put in that sum. Further than that I do not think we ought to go, and I doubt very much if any qualifying clause to the effect that that might be changed by Parliament would have any other effect than to stir up needless friction. If instead of the present roundabout statement, that it shall be of a like amount as that now paid to the Governor-General of Australia, you prefer that we should now name a definite sum we could do that.
Could the Minister include in that calculation the probable cost of the maintenance, and put that as a fixed sum, instead of having us chargeable later with all sorts of expenditure?
I understand the Minister only proposes to make an alteration by putting in the amount. But so far as the power to change is concerned, I take it that he agrees with me that there is no bargain fixing that amount for all time — I mean there is nothing to suggest that we cannot change it even though we do not put it in the Constitution. The Minister agrees with me that there is no definite bargain that there should be that particular amount for all time. It is not in the Constitution, and I take it it is nowhere else.
The Article as it stands is an agreed Article, but I do not think there will be any objection in naming a specific amount there instead of the mention of Australia, and that the salary of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State shall be that received by the Governor-General of Australia. We could name a specific amount which shall be charged on the public funds, and that is the only alteration in the Article that I would accept.
I have no doubt at all that it was the talk which went on with reference to the Governor-General that caused the agreed clause to take the form it did take. I have no doubt also that the fact that suggestions were made about the Governor-General living in a tenement, and that sort of thing that went on, that caused the Article to stand without any provision as to alteration; but the fact remains that under the amended Article 49 the Constitution can be amended by ordinary legislation, so that after eight years at least there is the possibility, whenever Parliament shall choose, to amend that clause or alter that sum if Parliament were to choose to alter it. With regard to the putting in a proviso that the Free State shall provide the Governor-General with a suitable residence and establishment, that is only doing what some Deputies have been talking of, that is putting into the Constitution the practice of the Dominions.
My tendency sometimes is to defer to declarations of the Ministry, and, in view of what the Minister says, we will accept the amendment.
You have already spoken, and I cannot hear you further on the question.
I merely wanted to say we accepted it.
Is the amendment withdrawn?
I understand the change, if any, will be made on the next reading, so I am not for the moment withdrawing my amendment. I understand there will be a change in the matter as regards the figure.
My amendment can go on.
The amendment was defeated.
In place of the Minister for Home Affairs I am moving Amendment No. 19, to delete in page 11, line 35, "Section III.—Executive," and in line 36 to delete "B—Financial Control."
I second the amendment.
Also I move Amendment No. 20 at the same time.