Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 7 Dec 1933

Vol. 17 No. 27

Report of Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation. - Motion of Approval.

I move:

That Seanad Eireann approves of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation, 1933, a copy of which was laid on the Table of the Seanad on the 6th day of December, 1933, and recommends the Executive Council to take the necessary steps to give effect thereto.

I beg to second.

Senators, I expect, have studied the Report, and they will notice that it owes its origin to a resolution passed at the Conference in Ottawa last year. The co-operation indicated is of a character which brings it more into line with international co-operation, as in the case of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the International Office of Public Health and the International Veterinary Bureau. Prior to October, 1933, the Saorstát participated in the activities of a number of bodies and made contributions amounting to £825 to the scientific information bureaux— the Imperial Agricultural Bureau, the Imperial Institution of Entomology and the Imperial Mycological Institute. The Empire Marketing Board disbanded on the 30th September, 1933. This Board was financed by the British Government in the circumstances described in paragraphs 187 to 189 of the Report. Under the new scheme proposed by the Committee certain economic services which would be performed by the Board are to be undertaken by the Imperial Economic Committee, a body which is already engaged in the investigation of the marketing of Commonwealth commodities, but which was hitherto financed from the funds of the Empire Marketing Board. The Imperial Shipping Committee was also financed by the British Government, but under the new system both the Economic and the Shipping Committees will be financed by all the Governments of the Commonwealth. As a result of the adoption of the report, the total additional contributions required from the Saorstát for the various agencies for economic and scientific co-operation is £960 per annum. These contributions from the Saorstát are for a period of three years from the 1st October, 1933.

I think that we should give more than a mere perfunctory assent to this motion, because it marks what I think must be one of the purple patches in the career of the Minister who proposed it. It is a unique moment. It marks the formal incorporation of the Imperial idea into the philosophy of Fianna Fáil. It is one of those moments that make some of us, who have heard the Minister and his colleagues denouncing this alien importation of the Imperial idea, realise the truth of the words, that there are more things in Heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. One wonders whether this motion moved by the Minister for Lands and Fisheries marks another stage in the rake's progress, or whether it is the evolution of a superman that we are witnessing. Surely it is not possible that anyone so wise as the Minister, and so virtuous as we have reason to believe him to be, can either have erred in 1931 in his judgment of such matters, or that the sweets of office have beguiled him into changing the views he then held to those he has expressed to-day—views that are implied if not expressed by his proposing this motion. In 1931 the approval of another Imperial Conference Report was proposed here. The Minister for Lands and Fisheries, who was not then in office, used these pregnant, significant and, I am sure, deliberate words:—

"I hold that we jeopardise our moral position by our activities in connection with the Imperial Commonwealth Conferences. We give away our position by having anything to do with the Imperial forces that combine to make up the British Empire."

That is the speaker who to-day proposes the motion of approval for economic consultation and co-operation between those forces that make up the British Empire or the Commonwealth. I say again that this is a moment which makes us stand aghast at the extraordinary, and, so far, inexplicable diversity of views which can be combined in the mentality of one individual—not merely diversity, but confliction of views.

I have read this report with keen interest. I think it is an admirable report. It is informative, it is constructive, and has suggestions which, if given effect to, may possibly have more healing effects upon the differences between peoples than even political agencies can produce. I heartily endorse the proposal to approve of this report, but I should like to know the purpose of the reservation of Mr. Lemass, as he is referred to here. I should like to know for what reason that was intended. I should like to know where it points. Personally I have not sufficient insight into the matter. It is a very bald, brief paragraph accompanied by no explanation, and I cannot at the moment see the wisdom of it. This motion, I think, does not exactly approve of the report itself, but of certain recommendations in the report. Mr. Lemass approved of the report in toto. His reservation was to this effect:—

"I do not object to the adoption of this report and the accompanying resolutions, but I wish it to be made perfectly clear in the published records of the Conference that the Government of the Irish Free State are not prepared to contemplate the setting up of an Imperial economic secretariat or of any similar organ of centralisation."

I think it was a pity that the objection expressed in that reservation was not more fully explained.

You will find it in Deputy McGilligan's speeches.

We are dealing with the present Minister for Industry and Commerce. This is a motion to approve of the voting of money for economic co-operation between certain agencies within the British Commonwealth. Surely if that object is laudable it is desirable that such co-operation should have as intelligent and effective a directing head as possible. The precise way in which that would be arrived at I am not even pretending to hint at. What I am commenting upon is the fact that the representative of the Saorstát, whose name appears here, apparently objected to having any effective directing centre to influence the functions of those co-operative agencies which we are proposing to strengthen and support. The only reason that I can see why that reservation was put in was that Mr. Lemass should show that he at least is in accord still with the views of the proposer of this motion expressed in 1931—that we give away our position by having anything to do with the Imperial forces that combine to make up the British Empire. It surely was not in accord with the statement made by the Minister for Finance the other day in the Dublin Chamber of Commerce:—

"It is the earnest desire of the Government of the Saorstát that the relations between the people of Ireland and Great Britain should be amicable and cordial. We recognise that in many important matters the two peoples have a community of interests and of common concern. We believe it is not beyond the capacity of the two peoples to arrive at an understanding which will be honourable and lasting."

Certainly there is a wide diversity between the statement of the Minister for Lands and Fisheries in 1931, that of the Minister for Industry and Commerce at Ottawa, and that of the Minister for Finance at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. I should like to know, further, to what extent and in what way we propose to avail of the institutions outlined and dealt with in this report.

I should like to emphasise one other point—that this report outlines and portrays a form of Commonwealth organism which has been in a state of growth, which has been, in some directions, proved and, in other directions, strengthened. But it differs from those services to which the President referred in his few remarks in that this is specifically and emphatically a Commonwealth organism of which this State is, by this motion, going to become an integral part. As it grows and develops, it is going to bring together those various States and entities which make up the Commonwealth, to bind them together with links stronger than steel, links which will be much more difficult to break or shatter than political affiliations. That is what we are asked to give assent to and I hope we shall give cordial and emphatic assent to it. But I ask you to recollect that this assent is asked for by the gentlemen who informed us in 1931 that we gave away our position by "having anything to do with the Imperial forces that combine to make up the British Empire." It is well to know whither we are tending. We cannot walk out of the Commonwealth on one leg and walk into it on the other, unless some new form of human ingenuity is to be devised. I know that the present Government are very ingenious. They have devised some extraordinary situations. They devised certain formulæ, empty and full, which would have seemed to be beyond the wit of man to devise a few years ago. But they have not yet devised a political arrangement by which we can go in two opposite directions at the same time. We are honoured to-night with the unusual presence of our President. If he can inform us how we are simultaneously to go out of and into the Commonwealth of Nations, he will be doing something of which I did not consider him capable up to the present. This is his opportunity to reveal the big secret of how to stand simultaneously in two different positions.

The composite bodies dealt with in this Report have not been, so far as I can see, a bad sideline for Saorstát Eireann. I gathered from the statement of the President that our total contribution is £960. He stated in the Dáil that the Saorstát representative on one of these bodies would get a fee of £500, which would be credited to the Saorstát Exchequer. When the President is replying, perhaps he would explain the grants from the Empire Marketing Board accorded to University College, Dublin—£3,250 capital, £1,100 per annum for five years and £1,550 capital, £425 per annum for five years. That is not a bad return to get for the payment of £960. On that side, I think we have a fairly substantial margin of profit. On page 85 of the report there is this suggestion by the Conference:—

"It has been suggested, therefore, that a Conference, representative of the various parts of the Commonwealth and consisting partly of the responsible administrative and scientific heads of research organisations and departments in those countries and partly of such other persons as the several Governments may select, should be summoned at an early date for the purpose of formulating a programme of such forms of research as it may be considered should be conducted on an inter-imperial basis."

The only reason I refer to that is to express the hope that if this suggestion is given effect to and such a conference is called, the unwisdom of sending the Minister for Lands and Forestry to it will be obvious to the Government. He would, probably, if he arrived there, insist upon presenting each member of the conference with a "historical background" which would be ruled out of order.

We are asked to approve of certain recommendations in this report which are set out very clearly. As I said, I thoroughly approve of these representations, but I take it that there is general approval of the report of this Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation by the Executive Council. The President, in his statement in the Dáil, did not dissent from any part of the report. It may be that he overlooked certain parts of it.

There is one part of the report to which I desire to refer in case the President has overlooked it. I think it is important to draw his attention to it before he is committed to an irrevocable step. I think he should look up the draft charter suggested for the Imperial Economic Committee. It begins on page 125 and continues into succeeding pages. It is suggested there that in the event of a vacancy in the office of President, from whatever cause arising, such a vacancy shall be filled by the nomination of a successor under the Sign Manual of the Sovereign for the time being. Is this what we are asked to approve, and by whom are we asked to approve it? Or are we contemplating setting up a rival dynasty and that it will be the Sovereign for the time being of the Royal Irish Republic who would nominate this person? These are matters that need to be cleared up. We cannot sit between two stools without coming to the ground. We cannot to-day be approving of a motion which is going to bring together, weld together and strengthen those contacts between the different elements of the Commonwealth and, logically and consistently, to-morrow ask the people of this State to take a step that is going to smash up that Commonwealth, nor can we with dignity write to Mr. Thomas and ask for his permission to establish a Republic outside the ambit of the Commonwealth of Nations.

We are entitled to know where we stand; the people of this State should know where they stand. There was a time in the history of this State when, if it were a choice between an Irish Republic and the state of government that existed, I would not hesitate for one second as to which I would vote for. But we are not in that position to-day. We are in a position where the people of this State have full control of every power and authority and resource within their own territory. If that is not national freedom, if that is not a true conception of human freedom, I do not know what is. There are other problems, such as the problem of the division between the North and the South, that have to be dealt with; but it is not by creating a spirit of embroilment with our neighbours across the water and a spirit of disturbance in our own area, it is not by confusing standards and projecting conflicting views, that we are going to bring the North in.

We have a great opportunity to make a great State of this land in which the Oireachtas rules. I believe sincerely that the making of that great State depends very largely, if not entirely, upon the spirit, the ideal, that is embodied in this report, the approval of which is asked by the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. I have the greatest possible pleasure, for the first time, in strongly supporting what the Minister now proposes in this House.

Not for the first time.

I would like to point out to the House and to Senator Milroy, who seems to have overlooked it, that this is an entirely voluntary matter of entering into co-operation, as recommended in this report. We are not threatened with any pains or penalties if we do not co-operate, nor would we suffer any immediate war if, at the end of a period of three years we thought fit to withdraw. If Senator Milroy will cast his mind back to Item 2 on the Order Paper of to-day he will find we were there enacting a Dangerous Drugs Act, and that is merely implementing a Geneva Convention in connection with drugs which have their uses and which also have their misuses. I have no doubt that parties to that Convention included China, Italy and Russia, but in enacting the Dangerous Drugs Act we are not paying tribute to the principles of Confucius, or to the political systems of Fascism or Bolshevism. My business has for a number of years made it advisable that I should keep my eye on the operations of the Empire Marketing Board. I think it would be a very good thing for this country and it also would be a very good thing for Australia and New Zealand, in the marketing of what is called in England Empire Dairy Produce, that there should be co-operation between the three countries.

I will go a little further so as to explain to Senator Milroy what the Minister for Finance said in that speech about the community of interests. It was pointed out that one person who would co-operate most heartily with Australia, New Zealand and this country in getting a better price for what is called across the water Empire produce, would be Major Elliot, the Minister of Agriculture in England, Mr. Elliott, as he is now called here. I have heard him referred to as the first English Sinn Feiner. I suggested more than once to the late Minister for Agriculture that he should enter into voluntary co-operation with New Zealand and Australia so as to get what this new co-operative Empire organisation is intended to secure and, I have no doubt, will secure. But the idea of trying to read into this a political significance which it has not is such as I do not think even deceives Senator Milroy.

I do not think that there is any value whatever in political consistency and I do not claim it for myself. I do not think there are many members of this House who could absolutely claim it, even if it were a virtue. It is much more important and valuable to do what is the right thing at the time, having regard to the circumstances, than to prove you are absolutely consistent in the particular action which you are taking. I take it the Government ask us to approve of this proposal because they believe co-operation in these particular institutions will be of value to this country and its people. I propose to consider the matter from that point of view. I do not think it is a matter of very vital importance, but I think it is a matter which should give considerable satisfaction to the members of the House that the Government do see their way to co-operate with the members of the British Commonwealth even to the extent recommended in this report.

I think Senator Dowdall in his anxiety to reply to Senator Milroy was not, strictly speaking, correct. To implement a Geneva Convention which is of an international character is not quite the same thing as to approve of the recommendations of the Report of the Imperial Committee on Economic Consultation and Co-operation. If I read it correctly—and I do not want to go into a lot of extraneous matters even though they may be kindred—it means that this Government believes that there are certain matters in which this country should, in its own interest, freely co-operate with the members of the British Commonwealth. It is not as if you were implementing a Geneva Convention.

I have believed, and I stated again and again in this House, and it has been my absolute conviction, that on the basis of freedom this country will be happier, better, more contented and better governed as a member of the British Commonwealth under present world conditions, than in any other way. I believe that that would be the view—I do not know whether it is now the view of an absolute majority or not—but it would be the view of the majority if it were clearly and squarely put to them. To my mind, the regret is that far too much emphasis has been laid on certain things which are relatively unimportant. I regret too, that nobody in this or even in the last Government, has gone to the trouble of enabling the ordinary people to know the extent to which we can gain by co-operation. This debate, the fact that this matter has come before the House, and that it is proposed by the Government, may do a considerable amount of good— not because of the importance of this document itself—if it makes the people begin to inquire and see what they may gain by membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

I do not want to follow Senator Dowdall into the question of coercion or force. Still less do I want to go back ten or 11 years, but as the matter has been raised and as I have the opportunity, I should like to say that I have spent a good deal of my time in studying political developments inside the British Commonwealth, and that I am absolutely convinced that the members of the Commonwealth have a constitutional and moral right to secede if they believe that it is in their interests to do so. But I am equally convinced that it would be the most foolish thing that this country could do to secede. To my mind, it is a matter of the greatest regret that our leaders—and I am not questioning their sincerity—feel it necessary to put before this country the belief that we are here because we were forced to be members of the British Commonwealth. I believe that we should consider the matter as a legislature who are prepared, no matter what anybody else says, to do what the majority of our people want. As far as I am concerned, if the majority of the people declared for a republic, I would be as loyal to that republic as I am to the present form of government now. I believe that is the only correct attitude which an Irishman can take.

It is, I believe, unfortunate in some ways that this matter comes before us when certain kindred public questions are being discussed. A few weeks ago I expressed the view in this House, when three Bills came before us, that we were acting within the Treaty and the Constitution. I am still of the same opinion. I think, that the value of the Resolution that is before us, if properly viewed, is seen in the fact that the members of this Government, while holding the views which we know they hold, are prepared to lead the people of this country so that they can see a way in which the people of this country can at present co-operate. I believe that the only future for the British Commonwealth—and I believe it has a future—is on the basis of absolute free co-operation.

I would join issue with Senator Milroy on one point. I cannot agree personally with the reservation of Mr. Lemass, the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I do not think centralisation would be good for us or good for the British Commonwealth. I do not think, as a matter of fact, that there is any very serious danger of any kind of centralised control or centralised government. But the danger of imperial councils, other than the Imperial Conference at which the actual Governments come and meet in free consultation, would be if people would believe that they were being governed from some central source— a belief that would be completely contrary to the facts.

I think this House should pass this Resolution without any reservation or exception, which would question the motives of the Government in doing so. I believe they should pass it because they believe it is of value to this country, and for that reason I welcome the fact that the Government has put it before us.

I am supporting the motion. What I have got to say has rather to do with the details. The Empire Marketing Board for the last four or five years has given certain grants for research. These grants have been referred to by Senator Milroy. But the items which have been allowed to this country seem to me not to be of sufficient merit, having regard to the items which were allowed to other countries. I can very well understand so far as the Empire Marketing Board is concerned that we have no right to demand from them that they should subsidise research work in this country.

I want to refer now to the grant to "Animal husbandry research, mineral content of the natural pastures for such research and to certain deficiencies in the soil and their effect on the growth of livestock". That research has been carried out in Aberdeen, and a sum of £10,000 has been given to Edinburgh. What do we receive? We receive a grant for the production of strong straw in barley and oats, and also grants for some research work for diseases in potatoes. I contend that this particular research work will now be placed under the agency of the Imperial Agricultural Bureau. Our representative will go there and he will endeavour to get grants for research work carried out here, research which will have reference particularly to animal husbandry. While I do not say that the two items that are being investigated at the moment are not of importance, I believe that the animal industry overshadows entirely the questions which are being investigated. The report says here: "We recommend that the Executive Council of the Imperial Agricultural Bureau shall be entrusted with the supervision of the various activities—such research activities in the United Kingdom as the participating Governments may agree should in future be adopted on a cooperative basis." It further says that it is not possible to get these particular Governments represented. In the meantime it says that the Imperial Council of the Agricultural Bureau shall freely submit proposals on the matter. I believe that we have representatives on the Imperial Agricultural Bureau. There are eleven members, one from each participating Government. I daresay we have our man there, but the British Isles, or Great Britain and Northern Ireland, have representatives. There is a representative of the Department of Agriculture in England, there is a representative of the Department of Agriculture in Scotland, and a representative of the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland. One can very well understand how, in the allotment of grants in the case of any particular award as between the different countries—in what direction is not material—they would not be likely to send much in our direction. I hope when these things are being considered it will be in the mind of our representative to try and get as much of the research carried out in this country as possible.

I do not propose to say very much with regard to this motion. As the President is here himself, I expect that we will have a statement covering most points. However, I would like to make a few remarks in view of the fact that, first of all, I moved the motion and, secondly, that the moving of that motion by me has called for certain comments from certain Senators. I would like first of all to suggest to Senator Douglas, as regards his remark about political consistency, that I do not accept his repudiation of political consistency. If the suggestion is that it should be applied to me I do not see any justification for apology as regards political consistency. The position of all of us in the Fianna Fáil Party and Government is quite clearly known to Senator Douglas and to the people of the country. What is that position? It is clearly that, with a very definite viewpoint which in no way repudiates anything which we have done in the past, we accepted a system as an inheritance from our predecessors in office and proceeded to operate within that system without any repudiation, as I say, of our definite political aims which involve the ultimate position of this country, and the position that we aspire to as a political party. I would like Senator Douglas to keep that in mind when he is referring in a rather subtle way to political consistency and political inconsistency. I would also remind Senator Milroy that the formal moving of a resolution does not necessarily imply that one is 100 per cent. heart and soul with it. Often a resolution is moved with the deliberate purpose of having certain decisions and certain opinions expressed on it.

With regard to the report itself, I may say frankly that I was at the various conferences when the discussions on this report arose, and in spite of my bad historical background I was not ruled out at those conferences. Nobody at the conferences had any illusions as regards my point of view. It had already been made clear. I presume Senator Milroy's desire would be that I would take the opportunity of making certain statements on certain issues which did not arise. That is all I have got to say with regard to the historical background that the Senator refers to. I can say, I think, with safety that at the inter-Commonwealth conferences at which this report was discussed and at which the decision of the British Government was made known, when it was indicated that the British Government did not propose to go on financing the Imperial Marketing Board, as it was called, there was a considerable amount of opinion, apart from the Irish Free State, expressed there by the other Dominions. I do not, as I say, wish to go into the other details, which I am quite satisfied the President will deal with, but I would like to make my own point of view, my historical background point of view and my consistency point of view clear to the Seanad lest any misunderstanding should arise with regard to it.

It is inevitable that in a discussion on a report of this sort the question of the terms on which co-operation between peoples and between States should be entered upon might be expected. The co-operation that is indicated in this report is the type of co-operation in which at no time would we have any hesitation in entering, because it is a co-operation based upon the absolute equality of right of the parties, and the freedom of choice of the parties, both to enter and to leave. Now that is a form of co-operation which is consistent with the dignity of the parties participating. It is a very different type of thing from forced co-operation. Now the co-operation that is envisaged here is the type of co-operation that, if we saw advantage in it, we would be prepared to have with Denmark, Holland, France, or with any other country. The special group of countries with which this co-operation is envisaged is a group with which we have come into association as a Government in relation to their Governments because of the position that Senator Connolly has adverted to. Everybody in the country knows the attitude of this Government. They know our attitude with respect to the Treaty. We have stated it in official despatches. We have stated it time after time to the people. Everybody knows that we inherited a certain position; that we said to the people we intended to operate that position and to use it to the fullest extent possible until we went to the people and, if we considered it desirable, asked them to give us liberty to go farther.

Now I have not changed in my view as regards the type of association that would be consistent with the dignity of this country, with its traditions and with the desires, I believe, of the vast majority of its people. But the foundation of any such co-operation must be a clear understanding on the part of the other countries with which we were being associated that we are free agents in the matter; that the choice is ours whether we co-operate or not. Senator Douglas has said that we have the moral and the constitutional right to secede. Now I would like to have that clearly understood and accepted by the other States with which we are associated at the moment. The purpose and the intention of my last despatch was, in fact, to get clearly that position defined, but the British Government ran away from it and on every occasion on which that question has been put up straight to them they have burked it. I think the most astonishing speech that I have ever read, I read in the Press this morning. I am sure it is astonishing to Senator Douglas and even to Senator Milroy. It is almost to me incomprehensible that a British Cabinet Minister would speak as he spoke, and it is because we have people like Lord Hailsham speaking in one set of terms and people like Senator Douglas speaking in another, that I sent that despatch to the British Government. It is time, I think, that we should have, using a rough phrase, a show-down upon it. It is quite time that we should be clear about where we stand.

Hear, hear.

Now Lord Hailsham, in his speech, is guilty of just that type of interference with our constitutional development here which I referred to in my despatch, and which I make bold to say the people of this country are not going to tolerate. Either he has forgotten the Statute of Westminster which Mr. Thomas referred to a day or two ago in his communication to me as the culminating point in the constitutional evolution of the Dominions, or else the Statute of Westminster was a fraud upon the Dominions.

Lord Hailsham is a lawyer. When he speaks he speaks as a Minister of the British Government and one would imagine that he would be careful enough to express exactly what he means. I take it he expressed the view of the British Government in this matter. He said for example that there is a long series of legal decisions—that is in reference to our Act abolishing appeal to the Privy Council—under which it has been laid down that the right to petition for special leave to appeal to the Privy Council was a right which could not be taken away by an enactment of a Dominion Parliament without the express authority of an Imperial Statute. Just think of that, two years after the passing of the Statute of Westminister. And, if you please, he invites the Privy Council to say whether an Act of our Parliament is or is not invalid.

Now it is too much of a hypothetical question for me to answer and say what would happen if that course were pursued. But this thing I can say: that if Lord Hailsham's view is right then neither Canada nor South Africa nor any other of the British Dominions could abolish appeal to the Privy Council without coming to the British Parliament. Is that the position? Perhaps some of you will say these remarks have special reference to our position under the Treaty. He does not quote it, if that is his view of the Article of the Treaty that he is relying on, but from previous statements made by certain British Ministers we conclude he is referring to Article 2 of the Treaty. I do not think it is necessary for me to quote for members of the Seanad what Article 2 is, we have referred to it so often in these Constitutional debates. That, I am sure, is clear to everybody. The effect of it, at any rate, is that in matters pertaining to relationship to the Crown the position of the Free State is the same as the position of Canada. Is it suggested then that Canada could not, if she wished, pass an Act just like the Act we have passed? Is there any doubt about its that she could? And we hold that what Canada can do we can do and that is the position from which we are not going to recede.

Lord Hailsham has not merely forgotten the culminating point that was referred to in the British Government despatch signed by Mr. Thomas, but he has also clearly forgotten the agreements arrived at in the Conferences of 1929 and 1930. In these Conferences the legislative sovereignty of the States of the commonwealth was recognised and the only matters upon which it was agreed that any one of them would not legislate without consulting the others was any enactment altering the Succession or the Royal Style and Title. Except in these matters, on which there was common agreement not to legislate without consultation, it was quite clear that each of the States could pass any measures that they chose and there was no obligation of any kind for consultation in reference to them. Now in that extraordinary speech Lord Hailsham goes somewhat further. In a most undignified way he mixes himself up here in our political differences. He applauds the efforts of those who are opposed to us here and hopes that their efforts will be successful. But this I can tell him, and I think I know the Irish people, that he is going just the right way to make any such efforts as he has in mind, any question of co-operation, quite impossible.

In the Dáil we passed these Constitutional Bills almost unanimously. There was dissent on one occasion on the part of two Deputies. One of the two gave it as his reason that there was some agreement—an agreement which nobody knows anything about and about which no one has any record. I know of none, and nobody to whom I have spoken about it in public has ever been able to point to any such agreement. There was one case of almost complete unanimity in a House divided by political differences and Parties, as everybody knows. Here in the Seanad you had practically the same unanimity. We agreed about this. Everyone takes the view Senator Douglas took and we insist that the British Government will publish its view upon the matter, and if it does not do that that it will not be able to ride away and have it both ways. That is the position. The British Government are trying to have it both ways. They want, whether we will it or not, to force us into certain association, and then when we are in it they tell us we are equal partners while they deny us the rights equal partners should have. It is right that we should know where we stand—I agree with Senator Milroy to that extent—that we should know clearly where we stand and that the Irish people should know where they are. And if they think we have a moral right to secede, and a constitutional right to secede, that secession is a matter for us and not a matter of grievance for any one of the States. It is for the Irish people to decide what their association with other countries will be. They will only decide that question when it is put to them on the ground whether it is to their advantage or their disadvantage.

Senator Douglas expressed his views. Others of us on such an occasion would express perhaps different views. What we want is to have a situation in which these views can be expressed on the ground whether it is to our advantage to join or not. I want to be clear about it that if there was to be a joining then let us not be forced to a compulsory joining such as was brought about in 1921. I do not think it would serve any purpose to go at any further length into this matter. I would point out to Senator Milroy, who is very anxious to point out inconsistencies, etc., that he should read this report very carefully. The framework, which he seems to think we are adopting, actually was rejected. That centralising type of constitution, which he seems to think would be admirable, has been rejected and, therefore, this question of the appointment of a President by a Sovereign, and so on, does not arise.

The position taken up by our representatives was that we are prepared to co-operate on equal terms. We are not going to have any centralised secretariat. We are going separately to meet and decide for ourselves the extent of our co-operation, and that co-operation is to be co-operation by coming together for the purposes as required each time, being free to co-operate or not. We have decided on certain co-operation. The machinery for carrying it out is a simple one and does not involve anything like what Senator Milroy has suggested. I have pleasure in recommending it. It is the type of co-operation for which we have always stood. I will admit that there is a certain point in saying that it is inconsistent to co-operate in one case if you are not prepared to co-operate all round. It may come to that. If the attitude of the British Government continues to be what it is, it may come to a situation in which we will have to tell our people definitely that to co-operate even in these cases, as long as there is doubt as to the terms, would involve us in misunderstanding. That has not come yet. I hope that the British Government will begin to see a little light on this and to understand that the Irish people are not content to be a slave people; that they are not content to have any dictation from any Government except their own, and then only to the extent to which they have authorised that Government to dictate to them. I hope that friendly relations will be established. I am satisfied, and I am sure that every thinking person in this country is equally satisfied, that the only basis for co-operation or for friendly relations, the only basis for lasting peace and friendship, is the basis that we are equals whenever we deal with them, and that we are free to judge for ourselves whether the co-operation proposed is for our advantage or not.

Before we are asked to vote on this, I should like to draw attention to a remark made by the proposer of the resolution. I do not want to misrepresent what he said but I understood him to say that it did not follow that because a member of this House formally moved a thing he did not approve of it 100 per cent wholeheartedly. I should like to ask Senator Connolly does he approve of this or does he not? Incidentally, as I am on my feet, I should like to make it quite clear that I agree in most things with the President in the speech he has made. About 18 months ago here I said that there was nothing in Irish law or in English law to prevent the Free State declaring a Republic if she wanted. Again I should like to ask does Senator Connolly approve or not?


I cannot ask Senator Connolly to answer the Senator.

I can explain——


I do not think it is necessary, Senator.

Motion agreed to.


We have only got the Slaughter of Animals Bill to be read a Second Time. Perhaps Senator O'Farrell would be willing to leave it over for next week.

I have no objection provided it is on the Order Paper for Wednesday night.

The Seanad adjourned at 7 p.m. until 3 p.m. Wednesday, 13th December, 1933.