Conference on Operation of Dominion Legislation and Merchant Shipping Legislation—Motion of Approval.
Thursday, 20 March 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
That Dáil Eireann approves of the Report of the Conference on the operation of Dominion Legislation and Merchant Shipping Legislation and recommends the  Executive Council to take such steps as they may think fit to give effect thereto.—(Mr. McGilligan).
Minister for Defence (Mr. Fitzgerald): I got up last night to speak in this matter on its more general aspect, because I think it is generally recognised that the governing position, the details of which are dealt with in this Report, is the fundamental cause of what I might call the regrettable hiatus between Deputies opposite and this Government, and I think it is always as well to have the position as clearly defined as possible. It seemed to me from what was stated by Deputies on the other side in this debate and in other debates and in various statements made through the country, that they, at any rate, had a wrong impression as to what exactly is the existing condition of affairs here. I said last night that, as far as I can judge the position of this free association in reply to Deputies opposite as to whether that meant that we had perfect freedom to end that association, it seemed to me that legally we have that right; that this Dáil is sovereign and has a perfect right to decide whatever it thinks is for the wellbeing of the people of the country. I pointed out, of course, at the same time that if anybody proposed to take any such action they should realise that, apart from the legality of the question, there might be adverse effects from such an act which would need to be borne in mind before any such action is taken. As far as I am concerned, I do not foresee in any immediate future or even comparatively remote future, that it would be in the interests of the people of this country that such action should be taken. Nevertheless, this is a perfectly free association. I pointed out that when the Treaty was signed it was understood already that the Dominions were co-equal with Great Britain. As to the word “Dominion,” some Deputies object to a word which takes on a different connotation from time to time. Whatever meaning the word “Dominion” had, the word now means an autonomous, sovereign, independent  country, and all that connotes, and I do not see that we have necessarily any objection to the use of the term.
At the same time, with the progress of time, it may be necessary to abolish the word “Dominion” in that connotation. It may even be necessary to change the description “Commonwealth of Nations” into something like “Community of Nations” in order to bring out more strongly the plurality of these entities. But when we took over there was a governing clause, as I might say, declaring co-equality amongst the various members of the British Commonwealth, and that was implemented in the Treaty in words something like this: That the relations between this country and Great Britain should be according to the law, practice and constitutional usage of the Dominions, and particularly that of Canada. There is a question of law, practice and constitutional usage. Owing to these States being the result of growth, law and practice were not identical. Deputy O'Connell, I think, speaking yesterday, remarked how I had said that I maintained that the Colonial Laws Validity Act did not apply to us. That is a point I shall at any time be prepared to argue. On the ground that as practice was more important for us than law, and as in practice the Colonial Laws Validity Act was non-operative, I would have argued that practice and not law is the thing that governed, especially bearing in mind the co-equality.
When we took over we found that many things remained from the prior state of affairs which were anomalous. Imperial Conferences meet from time to time, and their major work is to declare what is the practice. Now the last Imperial Conference having dealt, very satisfactorily, with the question of practice there were matters in which, prior to the autonomy of the Dominions, certain Acts were passed by the British Parliament declaring, on the face of them, that they applied not merely to Great Britain and the dependencies but, also, to the States which are  now known as Dominions. There was, for instance, the question as to whether that law which had been passed and never formally abrogated, was still operative or not. In practice one would say it had entirely ceased to be operative, in law it could be argued it was still operative. Matters that affected such laws were not dealt with for the reason that the law had been passed to meet certain conditions and before it was wiped away with the stroke of a pen it was considered it would be desirable to look into the effect of such laws to see if any of those effects were beneficial, and should be continued and to see the best method of meeting that position.
This Conference met last year to deal with certain prescribed matters, not a question of practice but a question of law. Deputy O'Connell is concerned that the report of the Conference should be brought here at all. He seemed to think it implies a certain seniority, a certain priority, a certain authority on the part of the British Parliament not existing here. Historically we know the British Parliament existed first, and that the others first submitted to that Parliament and gradually evolved away from that submission. Consequently, there might be such a stage where there would be a question as to whether that Parliament had extra authority or not, but there would be no question of the other Parliaments ever having had such authority. When there is a question of any doubt it is very desirable to have as clear a definition as possible, and to have the doubt cleared up. Out of such debates as this one of the beneficial effects I would like to find would be to have a definition exactly as to what the difference between the party opposite and us is, not with a view to accentuate that difference, but merely with the view of knowing exactly what that difference is, and seeing how far we do actually diverge, and how far we could possibly converge. The Party on our side of the House no less than  the Party opposite, has been always jealous for the sovereignty and independence of this country. Every suggestion even that might lead to a deduction that we were submissive or subject to any power outside we have immediately noted with a view to having any doubt on the question removed at the earliest possible occasion.
That is the reason why the Imperial Conference 1926 Report was based largely upon the memoranda made by the External Affairs Department of this country—because they represented certain points that we had noted from time to time. What is the difference say, for instance, between the two Parties? At the time this State came into existence, we considered that the co-equality clause would be the chief governing clause of our future development. The Party opposite believes otherwise. Our experience during the seven years that this State has existed has been, that when we found anything anomalous in that position, we had only to point that out and it was removed.
Bringing this Report before the Dáil is either right or wrong. Deputy O'Connell seems to have certain doubts as to whether it should be brought here or not. To begin with, any proposed international arrangement is a matter for agreement or disagreement with and not for picking or choosing as between details. There are no details that we object to. The agreement should be brought here, for this reason: when there is a doubt or a possible doubt it is desirable that that possible doubt should be removed. We know that the Party opposite had many doubts which proved to be wrongly founded in the last seven years. We have internally in this country sufficient evidence that it was possible to have doubts on many points. Internationally, we know that if the thing went before an international court, that court would consider the thing from every point of view and not be guided by what our point of view was, even though  our point of view may have had solid foundation. Therefore, it was desirable to have any of these doubts cleared up.
In the event of what I might call an evenly balanced question between us and Great Britain, Deputies must have known that the more powerful and the more influential have more possibility of having a doubt solved in their favour than the less powerful and the less influential. But here we are. We have excellent relations with Great Britain. There is no desire on the part of Great Britain to impinge in any way on our sovereignty or independence. When we discover anything that is anomalous or considered to be anomalous, we desire that these things be rectified. Many such matters have been rectified, including the Colonial Laws Validity Act, the Merchant Shipping Act, disallowance and reservation. These are things on which international lawyers might have divergent opinions. There was an inclination among international lawyers, possibly because of their affiliations and possibly because they were used to the previous state of affairs, always to interpret these points against us. Most of the writers on Dominion status and the British Commonwealth of Nations who are declared experts show themselves time and again in their works to be thoroughly misinformed in the matter. It is detrimental to this country that the authority of a man who is regarded as an expert should be quotable against what we know to be a fact. Also it is desirable when there is any doubt to have that doubt cleared up. For instance, if Deputy MacEntee owed me £5——
Mr. Fitzgerald: —he might ask me for a receipt, saying that that £5 was in full settlement of what he owed me. His neighbours might come along and say: “Do not take  any receipt from him; if you take that receipt from him, that receipt may be understood as saying that you owed him more than the £5.” He takes the receipt because he does not want to go before the courts and have any trouble afterwards. He wants something definitely laying down that he has paid me the £5 and that I have agreed (in writing) that he paid me what he owed me. Does the giving of that receipt assert that he owes me more than £5? It asserts plainly that he has paid me what he owed. The matters that were raised here were matters that were questions of considerable doubt in people's minds. Here they are laid down clearly, and we bring the matter before the Dáil. Should we bring the matter before the Dáil? As I explained yesterday, in regard to the Irish Free State, no body of men, or power or authority has the right to lay down anything that shall affect it in any way except this Government. A representative body met in London consisting of representatives of six States. They made certain recommendations. As far as they are concerned, they have no power to bind anybody in any way in any one of these States, because those States are all independent and sovereign. But that body recommended that their Report, which was practically completely in favour of the points that we maintain, should be brought before the various Parliaments to be approved by those various Parliaments. Why was that? Because it is clearly recognised that with regard to Canada only the Canadian Government can speak, and that with regard to the Free State only the Free State Government can speak. If that body in London, containing as it did representatives of six Governments, declared that they could decide these things without reference to us, that would be impinging upon our authority. Anything declaring even the possible extension of the powers of this Government must be decided here and not elsewhere, and that is the reason why this matter is brought here. Some of the points  which are dealt with in this Report really do not affect this country. They have relation to the individual constitutions of individual Dominions. Nevertheless, anything affecting any Dominion affects us, because our position was largely defined by analogy.
It is in our interests that not merely should we define our sovereignty as clearly as possible but it is also specifically in our interest that the other States affected should move in the same direction with us. The point I want to bring out is that the governing clause of co-equality has been adhered to ever since the Treaty was accepted at every Imperial Conference gathering and at this gathering that was held last year. The net effect of their deliberations has been to make clear and clearer our co-equality. Sometimes they have dealt with matters not affecting so much the co-equality between the various members of the British Commonwealth; points have been raised, and necessarily raised, to point out clearly that not merely was there co-equality between members of the British Commonwealth of Nations but that there was co-equality between each and every member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and every sovereign State that forms the world to-day. The movement has been ever in one direction. There have been certain anomalies, the result of the same cause—namely, the growth from non-independence to independence, the growth from non-sovereignty to sovereignty, that will require to be cleared up. This Report I consider to be very good, and I consider that the bringing of it before the Dáil is just as necessary as it is desirable, as it is the re-assertion of the fact that only the Government of this country has a right to say anything in any way affecting the interests of the people of this country.
Questions have been raised about the Privy Council and so on. As I pointed out yesterday, the Privy Council question was definitely referred by the last Imperial Conference to the next Imperial  Conference. Certain questions were referred to the Conference previously held and were considered at the 1929 Conference. One or two matters not definitely adverted to in the 1926 Conference have been brought in here first as additional to the Agenda but not in any way transferring their consideration from the next Conference to this. When it came to a question such as partition, this Conference did not deal with that. I would like if some of those Deputies opposite were to point out what exactly is their fault with our status. I think they cannot blame us or even blame Great Britain to any great extent for the fact that economically and commercially we are inferior to Great Britain. That does not affect status at all but it may change the well-being of this country.
On the question of status, on which there has been so much argument for years and so much division in the country, I would like the Opposition to state their position clearly, not merely to make assertions that they believe to be a fact, but assertions in regard to things that they know to be a fact. I assert here that during the seven years of the existence of this Government our sovereignty and independence have not been called in question on any occasion by any other Government. Deputies opposite have referred to the question of our association with those other States. I have explained that legally we can withdraw, but that as far as this Government is concerned it may be said that we are not such damn fools as to do it. I think that any potential Government in this country if it declares its policy to do that act that Deputy Lemass suggested yesterday—just scrap the Treaty and be done with it—should certainly advert to the likely and also possible consequences of that act before it would take steps to commit the people of this country to that act.
Mr. Lemass: If the two countries are co-equal in status and there are no penalties provided in the Treaty, then a breach of the Treaty by either party could not lead to any subjection of one party to the other party.
Mr. Fitzgerald: I will give the Deputy an instance: Belgium and France are in status equal. Does the Deputy think that in the event of strained relations between Russia and France or Germany and France the Belgians can say: “There is no penalty laid down as to any acts we shall do, and we shall proceed to make offensive or defensive alliances”?
Mr. Lemass: If there is a treaty between Belgium and France and the Belgian Government notifies the French Government that as from a certain date its allegiance under that Treaty will be discontinued, would the French Government be justified in threatening war, or something of that nature, in consequence?
Mr. Fitzgerald: That all depends upon certain matters. Suppose Belgium and France had a defensive and offensive alliance and there were strained relations between Germany and Belgium or Germany and France——
Mr. Fitzgerald: At present we have a Treaty. A number of clauses in that Treaty possibly came from lack of confidence on the part of the British people. That Treaty gave them certain reassurances. One reassurance is, of course, the Crown. Explaining how real an assurance that is is very difficult because one  might almost describe a great many aspects of it as atmospherical; at the same time it is a very real assurance. There are other things in the Treaty which assured Great Britain in much the same way as Treaties do between other countries—assured them of many things that they are interested in. There was this country, non-sovereign, making an agreement with Great Britain and Great Britain agreeing to things—if you like, avoiding risk by making sure of certain things in that Treaty. If we turn around and say: “We made this Treaty with you. We are sovereign and independent and we are done with it”—really I do not think the Deputy believes that one can act exactly in that way. It cannot be done. It does not affect our status in the least. Between any two States in the world when it comes to the abrogation of a Treaty all sorts of questions are raised; there is no doubt whatever about that. For instance, I am not quite sure if Jugo Slavia or Czecho Slovakia or some other country that has not a seaboard could not make an agreement with a maritime country whereby they would have the right to ships coming in, provided they would enter into another agreement which might be very vital to the other country concerned. If the other country comes along and says: “We are scrapping this free port for you and you can keep whatever you undertook to give us,” then if the country affected is very much stronger than the other country they simply do not sit down under the thing and say: “Of course, if you say that, it ends the matter.” That does not happen.
Mr. Fitzgerald: Even if they were. As it is, we have to deal with real politics, and, as I say, it is not affecting our status in the least. To my  mind, the unity of the Crown gives assurances which could not be achieved satisfactorily in any other way.
Mr. Fitzgerald: As I explained, this is very subtle. To get these same assurances which are more or less implicit in that relationship, would require certain clauses laid down which would impinge or tend to impinge more on our independence and sovereignty than the present arrangement does. I will go this far and say that the sovereignty and independence of the Free State under the existing arrangement is less impinged upon than the sovereignty and independence of any similarly small State in juxtaposition to any similarly large State. We are not merely as free as any country with our resources in relationship to a country with the resources of Great Britain, but I will go so far as to say that our arrangement allows of greater freedom on our part than is the case in any similarly situated country.
Mr. Fitzgerald: The Deputy will understand that it would be bad form for me publicly to discuss the relationships of other countries. In private I would be quite prepared to discuss the matter with any Deputy on the other side.
Mr. Fitzgerald: Offhand, no, but of course there are such countries. If Germany proposed to re-establish the Kaiser there would be a question for other countries to consider. Let us take the question of Holland and Belgium and a Scheldt arrangement. Deputies are aware that any arrangement  between Holland and Belgium as to the navigation of the Scheldt has to have the assent of other countries who were parties to the Council of Vienna in 1833, or it may have been 1839. The Union between Austria and Germany is another point. There are many such questions. The Scheldt is quite an interesting case. Those two free countries, Holland and Belgium, when they want to make an arrangement between themselves must have associated in the Treaty other countries that were parties to the Council of Vienna. These things happen. The same applies with regard to partition. I would declare this country, not merely the Free State but the whole of Ireland, free for this reason, that as far as the Six Counties are concerned they are out by their own act. It is an understood arrangement that if at any time the majority of the people there by their vote or otherwise declare a wish for a union with this country, it follows automatically. What is regrettable in the case of partition is that unfortunately the majority of the people up there do not wish to be with us.
Mr. Fitzgerald: No, I have not said that. In the same way nearly every country in Europe is more or less in the same position. France for a period did not own Alsace Lorraine but they own it now. If you say that that was an interference with the sovereignty of France and that France was not sovereign up to 1918 so Germany is not sovereign to-day. There is a large section of Switzerland peopled by people of language, race and religion at one with the Italian people. That is  arbitrary if you like. If you take it on race, language or anything else and if you take all the people of the Italian race and language, would they decide that that area should go out? The majority of the people in Switzerland are, I think, very ready to stay with Switzerland. Is Spain less sovereign because Gibraltar is British? On the Spanish-French frontier there is the town of Leivia which is in France. Inside Switzerland the town of Campione belongs to Italy. The frontiers of Italy, Germany, Roumania, Austria and Denmark have changed within recent years. These things happen in every country. We notice it more here because we are an island but our sovereign status is no more impinged by these things than was that of France.
Mr. Fitzgerald: No, the only justification for that is that in an area arbitrarily taken the majority of the people have decided to be outside. That is the fundamental justification, if there can be any justification for partition. The way to solve partition is to conduct our affairs in such a way, and to bring about a movement from the 17th to the 20th century in the Six Counties, that they will of their own will come in. If Deputies opposite have a better solution we shall be glad to hear it and, if it is a better one, I shall adopt it.
Mr. Fitzgerald: Not quite. The canton of Ticino is inside Switzerland, but Italian in race and language. Everyone agrees to that. But they would not agree that if Naples decided to go outside Italy it could do so. There are historical facts which have to be recognised. There is a concatenation of events which must be recognised. I have tried to explain the thing as I see it in its general aspect. I would like if the Party opposite would set out in detail exactly why they were at one time, and are at present, against the Treaty, basing that opposition on questions of independence and sovereignty, but not on questions of sentiment. I believe that at this moment the question “for or against the Treaty” does not exist among the people, that everybody accepts the Treaty and recognises it as a good solution of the situation. I believe that Deputies opposite—I do not wish to be offensive or to misrepresent them— by their previous associations find it rather hard to break with things they said on certain previous occasions. I believe that they get a certain amount of support in the country not because people are anti-Treaty, but because certain people think that they have reason to dislike the Government. I think they get as many votes among people whose brothers——
Mr. Fitzgerald: I want to bring out that this is one more step in the direction in which we have been moving since 1922. This Report deals with detailed matters affecting laws that were passed by a Parliament capable of passing such laws, but whose operative effect we believe in most cases ceased, but which might still be argued in some court or conference. This is, if you like, an act of renunciation on the part of Great Britain. Roughly, they say: “If up to the present we may have had such powers, we declare, at any rate from this on, that we have not such powers.” There were certain  matters in which there was a certain conflict between law and practice. This Report settles that. It does not deal with practice but with law, and it brings the law, which might at some time or other cause an argument or trouble, into consonance with the practice, which is an implementation of the sovereign right of the various members of the British Commonwealth. On the question of the Crown, there is one Crown. What is the effect of it? When dealing with the Report of the 1926 Conference I explained that the Crown is several in its functions. I believe that the movement tends even beyond that, not merely to be several in its functions but to be several in itself. We have not reached that point yet. The Crown is several in its functions. There is one King, a constitutional monarch acting on the advice of his appropriate Ministers. For instance, he would sign the full powers of a plenipotentiary. But how would he sign? In the case of the Free State he would sign necessarily, and only on the advice of the Government of the Free State. In the case of Great Britain he would sign the full powers necessarily, and only on the advice of the Government of Great Britain, and so with the other States of the Commonwealth. The Party opposite and the Government divide on that point, that we happen to have the one Crown, several in function, and because the actual signature is made by the King, he making it necessarily without option and making it only on the advice of this Government, that is the difference which separates us.
Mr. Fitzgerald: There may be various points on which we are agreed. Our movement has been consistently during the past seven years to watch jealously for anything that impinged on our sovereignty. We made a note of it and at the next Imperial Conference, or otherwise, we referred to the matter and it was dealt with. There may be things  which we have not yet dealt with and which may require to be remedied. Our experience during those seven years has been that everything in any way contradictory to the independence of this State has only to be noted to be removed. This is one further step towards unification of law and practice and the removal of any possible doubt in the minds even of prejudiced persons as to the fullness of our sovereignty and independence. That being so, I welcome it. It was necessary and desirable that it should be brought before the Dáil so that it will be made clear here and elsewhere that only this Government has a right to take any action which commits the people of this State. Therefore I think Deputy O'Connell's fears about having the Report brought up here for approval are not merely not on a sound foundation but they are a complete misunderstanding of the facts. Everything that affects the Dominions affects us. There are many things here that it is particularly important we should have cleared up. There is nothing in it which I can see which in any way changes the direction in which we have been moving during the last seven years. Everything in it as far as I can see moves in the same direction. Therefore we welcome it, and the Dáil in approving of the Report is exercising that capacity which has been conferred upon it by virtue of the sovereignty of the people of this State. I cannot see any difference that divides us from the Party opposite, and still less anything which divides us from the Labour Party, which should lead the Party opposite or the Labour Party to do other than to welcome this Report and approve of it.
Mr. Fitzgerald: The policy of the Government is primarily to define clearly and strengthen the sovereignty and independence of the State and, secondarily to that, to  consider how it affects the wellbeing of the people of the country. As far as I am personally concerned, I feel that it is not in the interests of the people of the country to weaken the association with other members of the Commonwealth. I hope the Deputies opposite, having heard the actual facts, if they will not vote with us, will at least give us some opportunity of examining all their fears and doubts as to the existing position with regard to status and let us at least know if we have been misled during the last seven years, or give us an opportunity of enlightening them on the facts and thereby lessen perhaps the division there is between us.
Mr. MacEntee: The speech of the Minister for Defence, I must say, was in welcome contrast with the speech of the Deputy who preceded him. The Minister's speech at least was strictly ad rem, whereas Deputy O'Sullivan was wool-gathering in the distant and irrevocable past. I do not propose to follow him, however. The events and the circumstances of 1921 and 1922 can never be recalled. Possibly their consequences will never be undone. In any event, it is vain for Deputy O'Sullivan or anyone else to seek to harp back to justify, extenuate or to undo what was then done. We must all follow Time's arrow. We cannot roll back history like a cinema film to excise a little bit here and possibly to interpolate a little bit there. Therefore, when I personally come to discuss these matters, I discuss and consider them in relation to our present circumstances and to our possible future. I think that is the attitude of this party as a whole. Unlike Deputy O'Sullivan and Deputy Tierney and some other members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, we do not live in dead yesterdays—we live in to-day, and we are looking to the future. Our concern here is to keep open the path for the future, to keep open the path to independence, so that if not we, at least those who come after us, can tread that path to-morrow.
 The Minister for Defence in the course of his speech has, I think, answered very fully and definitely the question which was raised by the leader of the Labour Party as to the reasons why the Dáil has been asked to approve of the Report that is now before us. He pointed out that the Report in its present form and the conclusions of the Conference are in no sense binding on any of the States, until the States shall have ratified it through the respective legislatures concerned. At the moment, therefore, this Report is of no effect whatsoever, but the moment we approve of it it becomes binding with as heavy and as onerous obligations as were imposed by the Treaty of 1921.
There is very much to be said for the way in which the Minister for Defence and the Minister for External Affairs have presented their case to the Dáil. They have not attempted in any way to disguise the gravity and the effect of this motion for approval. The Minister for External Affairs emphasised and re-emphasised the importance of this Report. It was, he declared, the most important constitutional document since the Treaty. The tremendous nature of the recommendations he pointed out. And then, as though he himself were appalled at the seriousness of the course which he asked the House to take, he began to conjure up false confidence and false courage, based upon Press reports, upon “fumbling attempts,” as he described them, “to find in the Report imaginative dangers.” But what are the dangers which the critics of the Report to whom the Minister referred tried to find in it, and which the Minister described as imaginative? Are they not that too much liberty has been given to the Dominions? Is it not the fear that the Empire is becoming more and more a free and voluntary association in which the constituents were held together by no heavier, no more enduring, tie than that of temporary self-interest? Is that not the presentation of the Empire which the Minister and his colleagues have put  before the country? Is that not the impression in regard to it which the Minister for External Affairs endeavoured, in the course of his speech, to create in the House? Is that not the impression which the Minister for Defence attempted also to create in the speech to which we have just listened? The whole sum and substance of the Minister's speech was that the Empire is becoming, as I have said, more and more a free and voluntary association in which the constituents were held only by no heavier thing, no more enduring tie, than that of mere temporary self-interest. And yet in the very same speech in which he attempted to convey this picture to the House the Minister, speaking from his own knowledge of what was discussed at the Conference, declared that all the gaudy structure of freedom and co-equality which the Reports of this Conference and the earlier Conference in 1926 suggest, was and is an imaginative sham.
The Minister for External Affairs has his candid moments. So, too, has the Minister for Education. In presenting and in supporting this report in the Dáil they seemed to vie with each other to ensure that we should be put in possession of the whole truth and that hereafter it should not be imputed to them that they had in any way deceived the House. They want us to approve of the Report, but they want us to do so with our eyes open. Therefore when the Minister for External Affairs speaks of the dangers which the Imperialists have found in the Report and says that they are imaginative, the Minister for Education hastens to second him by describing the report as “a pretended statement of existing facts”—a true philosopher's formula to reconcile the make-belief of this Report with the realities of the Treaty. That is the salient fact which emerges from the speeches of the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Education. The Ministers who have spoken in support of the motion know that the Treaty still binds and fetters us, that there has been no advance in  the direction of independence from the position of 1922. There has been a decided movement in the contrary direction, a recession towards Imperialism in its latter-day development, as I will show later, but of the constitutional advance along the stepping stones, which Deputy McEoin and Deputy Conlon who were comrades of ours, promised to take, there has not been one single inch. If this Report, instead of being “a pretended statement of existing facts,” were indeed a full and true statement of existing facts, if we were indeed free associates, co-equals, non-subordinates, then, as Deputy Lemass stated in the course of his speech, the Treaty would be dead, not only dead but dust. It would have perished in 1926 and long ago have gone the way of all corruption. The Report and the Treaty, if each has to be taken at its face value, are mutually inconsistent. If the Report stands, if it be indeed as the Minister states not only a clear, but the clearest, constitutional record, then the Treaty, whether for good or ill, has been superseded and all the disabilities which the Treaty imposed upon us are removed.
The Minister for Education asks that the Report should be taken as a whole. Let us examine the preliminary paragraph in it. Consider how the principles enunciated in that paragraph can be reconciled with our position under the Treaty. The Report opens with a statement as to the relations which are pre-supposed to exist between Great Britain and the Dominions and that statement is to this effect:
They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The three assertions are that in status we are co-equal, not only with Canada, Australia and South Africa,  but with Great Britain herself; that we are freely associated with Great Britain and the other Dominions as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations; and that we are in no way subordinate to any of the others, including Great Britain, in any aspect of our domestic or external affairs.
If the Minister for External Affairs had been present I would have asked him, in the course of his reply, to deal with some problems which arise from the principle of co-equality. According to the declaration in the 1926 Conference, which I have quoted and which has been repeated in the Report now before us, all the States in the British Commonwealth, including Great Britain and ourselves, are equals. What does this mean? I cannot better express it as it appears to my mind than has already been done by Mr. Amery, Minister for the Dominions in the last British Cabinet. Speaking in the House of Commons on 29th June, 1927, he said:
What is meant by equality of status? First, that as far as the question of right is concerned, every Government of that Empire is, if it so wished, entitled to exercise every function of national and international right.
Possibly the most elemental right of a State is to remain at peace in all quarrels in which it does not feel in any way aggrieved. Have we that right? Can we make war or remain at peace at our absolute discretion? Can we remain at peace when Great Britain goes to war? If we are co-equal then we should have the right to determine for ourselves whether we will remain peaceful citizens of the world or whether we will, whether we wish it or not, whether in our interest or not, be dragged into war if our neighbour goes to war. If the States are co-equal, would a declaration of war, say, by Great Britain involve us in the war?
Mr. MacEntee: I should like the Minister in his reply to answer those  questions. They go to the root of the theory of Dominion independence, and are the touchstone whereby the reality of that independence is to be tested. So far as we know, there is no compact that Great Britain shall not declare war without the consent of the Dominions. She reserves all freedom and full liberty of action in that vital matter to herself. If she, in the exercise of that right, declares war without prior consultation with her so-called equals will we be involved in the struggle?
Mr. MacEntee: There is no compact that Great Britain will consult the Dominions before declaring war. I take it as she is a sovereign State unquestionably she reserves full liberty and freedom of action in so vital a matter to herself, and she would not in a moment when possibly her life might be imperilled take time to consult not only the Free State but the other Dominions as well. I take it that is a matter of practical common sense, but if there is a compact that Great Britain will consult the Free State before declaring war I should like if the Minister would disclose that fact to the House, and also what obligations have been imposed upon us by such a compact.
The Minister in the course of his speech stated that the unity of the Crown gives assurances which cannot be secured in any other way. According to our Constitution, war is not to be declared except with the consent of the Oireachtas, but what we want to know is, is there inherent in the Crown a prerogative that would override the Constitution. The Minister has stressed in the course of his speech an important fact that the unity of the Crown, as he describes it, gives to Great Britain assurances that could not be given in any other way, in a way so solemn even as a Treaty freely entered into between this State and Great Britain.
Mr. Fitzgerald: I think the Deputy is misquoting me a little. As far as I remember, what I said was that the unity of the Crown achieved  that end better than any other way that I could think of and achieved it with less impingement on our sovereign independence than could be the fact if the end was sought merely by means of a Treaty. I think the Deputy will find those were the lines of my remarks.
Mr. MacEntee: Let us assume they cannot be given in any more satisfactory form, and let us ask ourselves why. Is it because there is inherent in the Crown some prerogative that would over-ride the constitutional guarantee which the Oireachtas has that war would not be declared without its consent? I am afraid there is. The Crown has certain prerogatives which may be divided into two classes, major and minor prerogatives. A constitutional authority lays it down that where the greater rights and prerogatives of the Crown are in question recourse must be had to the common and statute law of England whereby it alone may be determined, but where minor rights and prerogatives are in question they are regulated by the statute law of the place where the question arose. As an example of minor prerogatives you have prerogatives relating to coinage and appointment of State officers, Ministers and the like.
Mr. MacEntee: I am stating the authority of a person who has  studied the constitutional question. However, let us go away from that. Deputy McKeon has not studied the constitutional question, because I believe if he did he would be on this side and not on that side.
Mr. MacEntee: The major prerogatives are those concerned with declaration of war, making of peace, negotiations with foreign nations, making of treaties, granting leave to appeal to Privy Council, petition of right, granting of passports and safe conducts, and the right of sending and receiving ambassadors.
Mr. MacEntee: 1927. A very recent authority, even though the Minister questions him. As I said before, it would seem to me that the greater assurances which this unity of the Crown gives to Great Britain is to be accounted for by the fact that these major prerogatives are still attached to the Crown, and that so far as the Dominions are concerned the King can exercise these prerogatives not on the advice of the Executive Council or the Ministers of the Dominions, but on the advice of his Ministers in Great Britain.
Mr. MacEntee: I would be glad if it were wrong. At the same time I did not come to this House unfortified with authority. I am going to quote now for the Minister the words of a Dominion statesman who played a leading part in the constitutional development between 1917 and 1923. Speaking on the debate on the Imperial Conference Report in the Australian House of Commons Mr. Hughes used these significant words in relation to this question of status  and of the competency of the Dominion Ministers who advised the King:
The representatives all sit round the council table, equal in status, but not equal in circumstance or stature. They are all advisers of the King. The Prime Minister of Australia is the first Minister of the King in this dominion and Mr. Baldwin is the first Minister of the King in Great Britain. In that respect they are equal, for they are both first Ministers of the King. But one is an adviser of the King by virtue of his position in the Parliament that grants supply to and maintains the forces upon which the monarchy and the safety and power of the country and the Dominions rest.
Mr. MacEntee: No. He was discussing it in the Australian Parliament. He was dealing with the Report as presented to them, and as he is a Privy Councillor I assume he is familiar with the constitutional position between Great Britain and the Dominions.
So that although all the Prime Ministers are advisers of the King it is the advice of his Ministers in London that he follows. It will be seen therefore that the circumstances of the various parties sitting  around the council table are entirely different and nothing that we can say or do can alter that. The Dominions are equal in status with Britain, their Prime Ministers are theoretically equally entitled to advise the King; but the only advice the King can accept is that of the Government of Britain. We must, therefore, qualify the reference in the report of the relations between the Dominion Governments and the King by this very material reservation.
I suggest that the fact that the major prerogative of declaring war still attaches to the Crown, and that that prerogative can be exercised and will be exercised only on the advice, as Mr. Hughes says, of the King's Ministers in Great Britain, that it is in those two facts that Great Britain finds the greater assurances in the unity of the Crown to which the Minister refers.
It is said that we are co-equals with Great Britain—I would like, however, to consider this question of the unity of the Crown a little further. Theoretically it is possible for the King of Great Britain to refuse his assent to a Bill passed by the Houses of Parliament but that right has not been exercised I think since 1707. Is a similar right reserved to the representative of the Crown in this country? Can the Governor-General, in the Free State —this goes again to the root of the question as to whether we are or are not subordinate—refuse his assent to a Bill passed by the Oireachtas and if so, for what reasons? I will permit the Minister if he likes to interrupt me in order to answer that question. Is it because of Section 2 of the Constitution?
Mr. Fitzgerald: A question such as that was originally governed by a section in the Treaty and in the Constitution which, I think, says that law, practice and constitutional usage in the Irish Free State shall be such as in Canada. In so far as that governs it, I think, that will be the clause.
The said Constitution shall be construed with reference to the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland set forth in the Second Schedule hereto annexed (hereinafter referred to as “the Scheduled Treaty”) which are hereby given the force of law, and if any provision of the said Constitution or of any amendment thereof or of any law made thereunder is in any respect repugnant to any of the provisions of the Scheduled Treaty, it shall, to the extent only of such repugnancy, be absolutely void and inoperative and the Parliament and the Executive Council of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) shall respectively pass such further legislation and do all such other things as may be necessary to implement the Scheduled Treaty.
It is quite clear, therefore, that by means of this section Great Britain can veto and does purport to veto legislation passed by the Oireachtas. Again I would like to ask the Minister for External Affairs, whose duty it will be to reply, to show how so long as that section in the Constitution Act remains and is operative Great Britain and ourselves can be co-equal in status.
If Great Britain and ourselves are co-equal we are equally a sovereign State with her. It does not require any acute exercise of logic to follow that. A sovereign State is one which exercises full and exclusive control over all persons and things within the territory occupied by it. Have we undisputed and exclusive control over all persons and things in the territory of the Irish Free State? Have we, for instance, undisputed and exclusive control over the Governor-General in his executive capacity? Have we undisputed and exclusive control over our harbours, over Lough Swilly, Berehaven and Cobh? Have we full and exclusive control, or has any person the right to veto the laying of submarine cables or the establishment of wireless  stations upon our shores, or can we refuse to permit Great Britain to run such cables and to establish such stations for communication with places outside this country? If the Minister can answer these questions in the affirmative, then I will admit that he has gone a long way to prove we are co-equal with Great Britain. If, for any reason, he cannot answer them in this way, then the statement that we are co-equal with Great Britain is untrue.
The declaration of 1926 asserts that the Dominions are freely associated with the Commonwealth of Nations. The test of free and voluntary association is the power to discontinue such association should the associate so desire. There seems to be no doubt that that is the position as far as Canada, South Africa and Australia are concerned. Mr. Bonar Law, on the 31st March, 1920, declared in the House of Commons:
There is no man in this House who would not admit that the connection of the Dominions with the Empire depends upon themselves. If the self-governing Dominions chose to say to-morrow: “We will no longer make a part of the British Empire,” we would not force them.
Later, in 1923, Viscount Sandham, in the House of Lords, declared that any self-governing Dominion was free to secede at any moment it wished. Sir Robert Borden, then Prime Minister, asserted in the Canadian Parliament, on the 17th August, 1925, that Canada was free to leave the British Empire if it chose. Later still, in 1927, General Hertzog, in South Africa, declared that the right of secession had been acknowledged by the Conference of 1926, and that there was no longer any doubt in this regard.
We have those statements by the Dominion Premiers on the one hand and by British Ministers on the other. I ask the Minister for External Affairs do these statements apply unequivocally and without reservation to the Irish Free State? The  right of secession has been granted in the case of South Africa and Canada. Does the Minister claim that right in the case of the Irish Free State? I think the Minister is bound to answer that question. The Minister has put this Report before this House; he sponsors it here. I think he is bound to stand over its statements and have the courage to declare, as the South African and Canadian Ministers have declared in respect of their people, that in the present circumstances this is in reality and in fact a free association, and that this country has the right to secede, peacefully secede, from the British Empire should the majority of her citizens so desire, and that that right in the case of this State has been freely acknowledged by Great Britain, as it has been in the case of South Africa and of Canada.
I think it is all the more necessary that the Minister should make a statement of this sort in view of the statements which have been made elsewhere as to the purpose and value of the Report of the last Imperial Conference. For instance, in the Canadian Parliament, Mr. Bourassa, dealing with the 1926 Report, upon which the present Report is based, pointed out that there was a fundamental contradiction between the conception of Canada as remaining within the Empire and being at the same time a fully sovereign independent State. Dealing with that point, Mr. Mackenzie King replied that the declaration as to status had served the important purpose of allaying the discontent in the Irish Free State. Later, a further authority, Professor Keith, dealing with the position which the Conference of 1926 had created, made this statement:
Nor in any evaluation of the work of Lord Balfour and his colleagues can there be forgotten the real value of the Report in enabling the Governments of the Irish Free State and the Union of South Africa to make headway against those elements in their Dominions which were pressing for the adoption by their Governments of the  doctrine of absolute independence and the secession of membership of the British Empire.
I think that statements like that make it incumbent upon the Minister to clarify the position. He tells us this is the biggest constitutional record which has yet emanated from an Imperial Conference.
The Minister for Defence has asked us to point out any ambiguities, any anomalies, so that they may be clarified and all doubts removed. I should like, in regard to this question of free association, that the Minister should clarify the doubt which is in our mind and the minds of the people of the country, the doubt which he and his colleagues have traded upon for political purposes. Are we a free association or are we not? Have we free association, and have we the right to secede? If so, will the Minister, in virtue of the fact of our free association, declare to the Irish people that they have the right to freely and peacefully secede from the British Empire any time a majority of them may so determine?
The Imperial Conference of 1926 also declared that the States of the Commonwealth are in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs. Is this a true statement of our position? Are we in any way subordinate to Great Britain? The Minister, I take it, in virtue of the fact that he has presented the Report containing the paragraph upon which my speech has been mainly based, declared that we are not in any way subordinate. Very well. Let us examine it. If we are not a subordinate State, then we should have full and exclusive right to make laws for the inhabitants of this State, and our actions in this regard should not be subject to any interference by any other State, not even by Great Britain itself. We should, therefore, have full control over our representative institutions and be able freely to determine for ourselves how they shall be constituted. In particular, it ought to be possible for us to abolish, if we so desire, all  tests or conditions limiting the right of any representative chosen by the people to sit in this Dáil. If, therefore, the statement that we are not subordinate in any way to Great Britain be true, it ought to be possible for us, without interference from Great Britain, to abolish Article 17 of the Constitution, and to remove the great barrier which at present prevents this House from being truly representative of the people of the twenty-six counties.
I ask the Minister, in view of the statement that has issued from the Imperial Conference, and the text of the Report which he presents to the House, has the Oireachtas power to abolish the oath of allegiance? Will the Minister, in the course of his reply, deal with that question, or is it falling upon deaf ears? “There are none so deaf as they who will not hear.” It would be very difficult for the Minister to say that the terms of the Report that he has presented to this House are consistent with the terms of the Treaty. As I said in the beginning of my speech, one or other must go. If the Report is valid, then the Treaty falls. If the Treaty stands, the Report is a sham and make-believe, and the Minister is conscious of that fact. If we are not subordinate in any way whatsoever, then no outside or external power has a right to exact or to extort from the citizens of this State an oath of allegiance which no honest Irishman would ever freely or truthfully give. The fact of the matter is that the more we analyse this Report, and the more we analyse the Report of 1926, the more we see that the Conference was one demanding unusual talent in devising formula which would command general acceptance but which would also allow each of the Dominions to claim that its special point of view had been given full effect to.
The Minister made great play with the question of reservation and the question of disallowance. The power of disallowance has been lopped off, but the fact of the matter is that the power of disallowance had not, in  fact, been exercised since 1873, and I do not think that in latter years the question of reservation arose at all. These were merely accidental prerogatives of Great Britain. They had been abolished years ago, and the only thing that the Conference of 1926 and 1929 did was to lop off the dead timber. But in the Report the trunk of British hegemony still remains. But not even one shoot in which a vestige of life remains has been pruned, as witness the legislation effecting trustee stocks. In this regard, the official organ of the Government—“The Star”—whose editorials, I believe, are sometimes written by a very important member of the Executive Council—states that the present Treasury requirements in this matter are clearly more political than financial in their object.
That, of course, is not the view the Minister for External Affairs put before the House and the Minister for Defence. They stress the point that the provisions of the Trustee Acts are purely financial in their intention. The “Star” for some reason or another has spilled the beans upon the Minister and contends that—and so the Minister and those associated with him contended before they went to the Imperial Conference—that the provisions of the Trustee Acts are political and not merely financial.
There is one other point I want to touch on. This Report of the Imperial Conference does propose a very real and a very vital change in the Imperial relations. That change strange to say, was not stressed at all by the Minister in the course of his speech. I refer to paragraph 60 of the Report, which says:
Inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the  Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
I think that is the real reason why this Report has been brought into the House and why the Minister is asking the House to approve of it, in order that the House may be committed to the paragraph I have just read. It is clear that the argument of the Minister hitherto has been that the Dominions have full sovereign power, full right of legislation in all matters appertaining to themselves. This paragraph proposes to impose a limitation in one particular matter which is of primary and vital concern to us. As I have already said, declarations have been made by responsible Prime Ministers of other Dominions claiming the right to secede, and Great Britain has admitted the right so far as they are concerned, and this new convention which is to publish and clearly record in the Report of the Imperial Conference seeks to limit and take away that right.
Again, in the words of the editorial in the official organ of the Executive Council, “the effect of this Convention will be that a Dominion can constitutionally do everything except declare itself a republic. It can only separate itself from the Commonwealth by revolutionary and extra-constitutional action.” Mark the change! Responsible Prime Ministers in other Dominions have claimed, and Great Britain has acknowledged the right of those Dominions to secede. That claim and its acknowledgment by the British Ministers, that action in admitting that in the particular circumstances governing the British constitutional relations, the Dominions have a right to secede, created a constitutional right, and therefore a right which the Dominions could freely exercise without Great Britain saying yea or nay. But according to the “Star,” and not only to the “Star,” but to the plain commonsense interpretation of the paragraph, it is clear that if the House approve of this principle, and if it  be also approved by all the other Dominion States, that that constitutional right to secede will be denied to everyone of them, and that in the words of the “Star,” henceforward “a Dominion can only separate from the Commonwealth by revolutionary or extra-constitutional action.”
Therefore, if the people of this country were by a majority to declare for a republic, it might be asserted by Great Britain that not only in view not only of the adherence of the present Minister for External Affairs, and of the present Government, to the Report now before the House, but in view of the approval of that Report by this House, the Irish people had surrendered their natural right to secede, except with the full consent of the Parliaments of the Dominions and the Parliament of Great Britain.
This paragraph raises also another very important issue, because it is an attempt to exercise group control over individual Dominions. Hitherto it has been contended that the Dominion States were autonomous, sovereign, independent States. It has been contended that this is a perfectly free association in which every State had the fullest liberty of action, apart from the fact that considerations of courtesy and goodwill might require that there should be, from time to time, consultations between the States as to lines of action. But that consultation was merely an act of grace and not an act of duty, and if as a result of that consultation other States objected to the course of action which a Dominion proposed to take, that did not and could not be held to prevent the Dominion from pursuing its original intention irrespective of the views the Dominions consulted might have in regard to it.
This creates a perfectly new situation. It is clear that in so far as this particular question of the Crown is concerned the individual Dominions are going to be placed in a condition of subordination to the aggregate group which is being called the British Commonwealth. It is  clear, therefore, that in this connection the sovereignty of the King of Great Britain is only being exchanged for the sovereignty of the King of the British Commonwealth. Moreover, if the Commonwealth as a group takes powers, and if such powers are given to it to legislate in this one particular matter, how can it be said that later on the aggregate group will not claim further powers to abolish a bridge or alter the existing constitution of any one or more of the groups taken individually? I think that is an important factor.
The Minister for Education in the course of his speech emphasised the fact that this Report does not take a set of circumstances and freeze and fix them there for all time. I shall apply that to the recommendation in Article 60. For the first time a responsible Minister has gone to a State which, whether we like or not, we have to regard at the present time and for present purposes as a constituent State of the British Commonwealth. He recognises that the sovereignty which he hitherto has claimed has been full and absolute in all matters pertaining to the State including, no doubt, the headship of the State. He asks that Dominion to cede some portion of its full and absolute sovereignty to the Dominions as a whole. You cannot fix and freeze, as the Minister for Education said, these circumstances for all time. Once the principle of group control is admitted in this important matter it must extend to others. What I said before will hold good, that in this matter we are not only exchanging the sovereignty of Great Britain for the sovereignty of the British Commonwealth, but we are definitely making a change in status and we are receding even from the position which the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Defence have contended has been maintained by them since 1922. They have held that they were free, sovereign and automonous States. In this matter they will be no longer autonomous and no longer sovereign. They can only act with the permission  and full assent of every other constituent in the British Commonwealth.
I ask the House, in view of that fact, not to accept this Report. I notice that most of the people who used to be associated in the old Republican movement are no longer in the House. I notice that Deputy McKeon is absent, that Deputy Conlon has left the House, and I notice that all those who used to belong to the I.R.B. wing have left the House. The Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Defence, whatever else may be said against them, will have this to their credit, that in presenting this Report to the House they stressed its importance and they did not disguise or conceal from the House the step which they are asking the House to take. If you ratify the Report as a whole, you accept as binding upon yourselves paragraph 60, and the effect of that paragraph, in the words of “The Star,” will be that a Dominion can constitutionally do everything except declare itself a Republic. It can never separate itself from the Commonwealth by a revolutionary or extra-constitutional action. The declaration, therefore, is intended to prevent the future peaceful evolution of this State towards complete and sovereign independence. It will bar all progress along the road upon which the Irish people have stood and the goal towards which their faces have been turned for countless generations. We should, therefore, not endorse by our vote any Report which would do this. I appeal to any member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party who still has the old instinct strong within him, and who seriously regards the Republican oath which he swore, not to stultify himself and not to bind the hands of future generations by voting and approving of this Report.
Professor Tierney: Deputy MacEntee's speech has been full of sound and fury. I am afraid because of the small number of Deputies who have  been listening to him that it can hardly be said to have signified very much. I think until Deputy MacEntee brought the rhetorical flourish into the debate that he has brought into it, it was hardly possible to speak of the very weak and watery criticisms to which this resolution has been subjected as opposition at all in the strict sense of the word. If it is possible to say that the weak criticism implies a certain amount of negative praise, then it is possible to say that the attitude of the Opposition Party to this resolution has been rather to praise it with faint damns. Neither the Labour Party nor the Fianna Fáil Party has put forward any serious reason why the House should refuse to accept this motion. Last night Deputies O'Kelly, Lemass and O'Connell sought with the most pathetic eagerness for any little shred of reason for criticising this Report. It was really pitiful to see the very slight results that their search succeeded in bringing forth. Deputy O'Kelly complains that the provisions which the Report enshrines are not yet law. He did not quite go so far as to say there was an X instead of an Z in some words on page so-and-so, but that was the general tone of his criticism.
Deputy O'Connell, on the other hand, instead of thinking it a drawback that the Bill was not yet law, thinks it is a drawback that it is being formally ratified. Deputy Lemass, whom I have always suspected of a certain amount of Imperialism, has been demanding that the Minister should go to the most extraordinary lengths in exercising the authority of this House. He wants to have the Minister on every possible occasion enunciate his policy in regard to a series of newspaper rumours which the Deputy would appear to spend most of his time collecting. He wants the Minister to answer not only for the policy of the Executive Council and to explain that policy, but he also wants the Minister to answer for the policy of the British Government and for the policy of the South African Government. It was not until Deputy  MacEntee came along with his peculiar series of mares' nests that anything like an attempt was made to criticise the Report, or anything like a really detailed criticism of the Report was made. But Deputy MacEntee's attempt was in truth a very pitiable one.
The attitude of the Labour Party towards this Resolution reminds me of the attitude that is so common amongst young ladies at present. They want to be different from others. The whole anxiety of the Labour Party is not to adopt an attitude of impartial judgment on anything brought before them in this House. What they are most anxious to do is to take every care that, whatever happens, they will not have the same view as the Government has and, if they can possibly manage it, that they will not have the same view as the Fianna Fáil Party has.
Professor Tierney: Deputy O'Connell did his best last evening to walk on a thin rope between what he considered to be the policies of the two Parties. If that represented a seriously thought-out attitude on the part of the Labour Party towards this Report it would be well and good. But it does not. In many respects, it might be said that Deputy O'Connell's speech here last evening was the voice of a ghost. It does not represent either the opinion of Deputy O'Connell himself or the opinion of any member of his Party in this House. The whole object of that speech was, as I have said, to take up for the Labour Party an attitude that will have the look of independence. Whatever happens, they do not want to see eye to eye with the Government, at any rate, and, for once, they did their best not to see eye to eye with Fianna Fáil. We see in this morning's paper that the Labour Party intend going before the country at the next election as——
Professor Tierney: We are discussing  the attitude of the Labour Party and, I submit, we are entitled to do so. It is stated in this morning's paper that the Labour Party intend to go before the country at the next election as a possible alternative Government to Fianna Fáil. I would be satisfied with almost anything as an alternative Government to Fianna Fáil. It would need, indeed, to be a very poor Party if it did not make a better alternative Government than Fianna Fáil, but I am afraid that the electors will hardly see with my eyes in this particular respect, and I think that they will refuse to give the Labour Party a majority over Fianna Fáil so long as they see that instead of a self-contained, autonomous Party the country is going to get, in the guise of a Labour Party, only a poor, miserable spectre dressed up in the cast-off clothes of Fianna Fáil or else some sort of a wretched hybrid made up of fragments of the less important parts of the policies of the other two Parties with no distincttive characteristic of its own except——
Professor Tierney: Deputy Lemass said last night that if what the Minister was saying about this Report were true, the Treaty was obsolete. What this Report proves to be obsolete is not the Treaty, but the interpretation put on the Treaty by the Fianna Fáil Party. Ever since 1921, the Fianna Fáil Party and the people who opposed the Treaty in this country have insisted on seeing in the Treaty only an instrument of subjection. They have attempted, as Deputy MacEntee attempted to do here this evening, over and over again, to prove that in all sorts of ways the Treaty bound this country hand and foot to England. They regard the Treaty not as a guarantee of sovereignty or of freedom, but as a sort of instrument of subjection. The whole point of the present Report and of the 1926 Report has been to show, if people needed to be shown it, that that point of view is  obsolete, that it was obsolete in 1921, and that the Party which put forward that point of view in 1921 and is trying to put it forward at present is an obsolete Party.
A great essayist once drew a distinction between books which are books and books which are not books. He gave as an example of books which are not books railway guides. It seems to me that the Fianna Fáil Party are the best living example of a Party which is not a party. They are a Party which is founded on a fallacy. They are a Party founded on the assumption that the Treaty and the status which it conferred were symbols of subjection for this country instead of being symbols of recognition of the sovereignty of this country. Almost every single detail in the Treaty, when it first appeared, was the subject of the most searching attempt at criticism; in the anti-Treaty Press at the time there was practically no aspect of the status accorded this country by the Treaty that was not examined under a microscope. In practically no aspect did it happen that the anti-Treaty Party failed to find that this country was going to be held in subjection.
Eight years have gone by, and in all that time the anti-Treaty Party in this country have not been able to find a single respect in which the Oireachtas has not exercised full and absolute sovereignty over this State. They have attempted to dig up all sorts of mares' nests like the mare's nest about paragraph 60 of the Report. They have attempted to take constitutional documents and to stand them on their heads, which is what Deputy MacEntee was doing with paragraph 60 of this Report. They tried to take out of plain English exactly the opposite meaning to what it suggested to most plain people. But they have failed to show in any one respect that the Free State is a subordinate State and that the Oireachtas of this State has not full and absolute sovereignty over everything in this State.
 This document before us is the result of the Imperial Conference of 1926. At that Conference certain guiding principles regarding the constitutional position as between the different Dominions were laid down, and it was pointed out that although these were recognised as guiding principles governing the constitutional position of the Dominions, in practice these principles were not actually squared with a certain amount of legal theory. There were a number of authorities on constitutional law, both here and elsewhere, who, living solely in a legal atmosphere, refused to recognise that practice had in the course of time changed a great deal of the fundamental structure of the constitutional relations of the Dominions. Actually, even after the Report of the Conference of 1926 was made public, there were constitutional lawyers who made it their business to try to show that that Report did not correspond with the exact position as they found it theoretically, from their legal point of view.
It was maintained by a variety of constitutional lawyers, as Deputy MacEntee in a rather blundering way tried to maintain, that the sovereign prerogative of the King was in no way affected by the various constitutional changes that have been brought about. It was maintained that the sovereign position of the British Parliament and the capacity of that Parliament to legislate for the Dominions were in no way interfered with by either the Report of the Imperial Conference of 1926 or anything that happened prior to that. It was in order to deal with these survivals of legal theory and to set at rest the minds of various diehards in all countries, here, in England, and elsewhere, who still wished to maintain that, no matter what might be done in practice, the legal theory kept up the old British Empire. It was to meet the difficulties which such people were making that it seemed to be necessary in 1926 that a Conference  should be called which would study the question and advise the various Parliaments upon the best methods of removing these legal and theoretical disabilities. In practice, this document will make no real difference in the status of the Free State or of any other Dominion. What it will do will be to make it perfectly clear that in pursuance of the recommendations contained in the document certain legislation has been passed. It will make it clear, both to theorists and politicians, that in theory as well as in practice the old British Empire and the old conceptions of that Empire are dead, that instead of that there has grown up what was accurately defined in a practical way in 1926 as a group of Dominion communities equal in status and in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their external and domestic affairs, associated with the Crown, and known as the British Commonwealth of Nations.
It is known that such an Association has been in existence in practice for a number of years, and that the various communities which make up the British Commonwealth have been autonomous in all essential matters since the conclusion of the war, and when the question, for example, of the power of the British Government to involve other Dominions in a war without their consent is raised, there is in actual practice a clear precedent for what will happen should anything like that occur in the case of Chenak. In that case the British Government tried to involve the Dominion Governments, particularly the Canadian Government, in a war without the consent of the Governments and failed to do so. The Canadian Government refused to have any part in that war. The precedent set by the Canadian Government is a precedent that from that time on governs the position of the Dominions in cases where Great Britain declares war. We owe our position as an autonomous unit in that free Association of Nations to the Treaty of 1921. When Deputy Lemass talked about the Treaty  being obsolete, the real fact is that it is owing to the Treaty, and to the Treaty alone, that we can claim the sovereign status which is now ours.
Deputy Lemass asked what would be the consequences supposing the Treaty were treated as non-existent by this State. It is easy to point out two or three consequences. The first consequence would be that the Free State would no longer have a right to be a member of the League of Nations. The second consequence would be that every foreign power which is now represented in the Free State would pretty certainly withdraw its representative from this country. The third consequence would be that the right of the Free State to appeal to the International Tribunal at the Hague would fall, along with the Treaty on which that right is based. The result of any attempt on our part to treat the Treaty as if it were non-existent would simply be national suicide. We would be wiping off the slate all the results which are real and practical and which we gained by that Treaty, and we would be going into a wilderness not knowing what would happen to us from one day to another.
The thing which the Fianna Fáil Party are not able to see is that the Treaty is our guarantee, gives us our enfranchisement and, instead of being a bond and tying us hand and foot and handing us over to some mystical bondage of the British Government, the Treaty gives us not only a status and position among the sovereign nations making up that community, but it also gives us an international status and enables the Pope to send a Nuncio to Dublin and enables the American nation to be represented at the place where our Government sits. It gives us a position among the nations such as the Irish people have not had since the beginning of the Middle Ages. We are asked by the Fianna Fáil Party to treat that instrument either as non-existent or, instead of being an instrument of freedom, which it is, to treat it as if it imposes shackles upon us. It is nearly impossible to deal  with all the peculiar doubts and difficulties which Fianna Fáil persist in raising every time a subject like this is discussed. They are really in the position of a man having an obsession. I doubt very much whether Deputy MacEntee meant what he said in his speech. I doubt whether his attitude towards paragraph 60 of this Report can really represent the honest result of any kind of honest thought devoted to that article, but, in so far as he meant what he said, he and his Party remind one of people with an irremovable obsession. They start with the wrong point of view, and no amount of argument can get them into the position from which they will get the right point of view. It is very difficult for them to do so as their whole political existence for the last eight years has depended on the fallacy that the Treaty, instead of enfranchising the country and giving, what Michael Collins claimed it did give, freedom to attain freedom, was in reality only a prison for this country. As their whole political existence is based on that fallacy and that fatuity, it is impossible for them, without destroying their existence as a Party, to take up a reasonable or sane attitude towards this question.
They have recognised again—and I think the speech of Deputy O'Kelly yesterday showed that he recognised it to some extent—that the prop on which they raised that foolish foundation and on which they built their Party from 1924 onwards is beginning to sag. They have tried to set up other props to keep them in existence as a Party before the public, but I think they will find ultimately that they will have to stand or fall with the attitude they took up in 1921 when they opposed the Treaty and opposed the acceptance by the Irish people of inclusion in the British Commonwealth. They raised all sorts of verbal difficulties. They tried to invest the person of the British sovereign with some kind of extraordinary, mystical, semi-religious faculty. They almost persuaded people that members of Cumann na  nGaedheal say their prayers to that sovereign every morning. One would imagine that, instead of being a little used part of the machinery of State, the British sovereign was a divinity.
The real trouble with a good many people who opposed the Treaty was that they persisted in regarding political questions as if they were spiritual questions. They persisted in investing political institutions and political concepts, which owed their value to the expediency of the moment, with a kind of religious sanctity, and they persisted in implying that the people who accepted one set of political expedients were accepting one religion and denying another. Our attitude towards this document and towards the question of the status of the Free State is simply an attitude of expediency. We have accepted the Treaty, and in spite of what Deputy O'Kelly says I hold—and I think I can say that I am right in holding— that the Irish people have freely accepted their position under it. In election after election they have by a majority accepted the position of the Free State as an independent and autonomous member of that community of free nations known as the British Empire. They have accepted that, and have accepted it because they know that under the instrument which gives Ireland that status Ireland achieved not only sovereignty within her own borders, but a standing and a prestige amongst the nations of the world that scarcely any other instrument would be likely to give us. The people of Ireland have accepted that position, but they have not accepted it as a new religion. They have not proceeded to burn incense every morning before a statue of the King or anything of the kind. They have accepted it as a political expedient which is useful and valuable for the present condition of the Irish people. It is quite open to the Irish people at any time they find that political expedient no longer valuable or useful to reject it.
The question of whether we are  free to reject the Treaty or not was raised, and all sorts of attempts have been made to invest it with some kind of subtlety that reminds one of a decadent theology. Attempts have been made to show that we are not free to reject the Treaty. We are free to reject it any time the majority of the people want to reject it, but we can only reject it in the way Treaties are always rejected. We cannot reject the Treaty by going into a church and making an act of faith, or by going into a shop to buy something. There is a certain way in which we can declare that we no longer accept our status under the British Commonwealth. It is open to the people any moment they choose to take the steps entering upon that way, but when they do take these steps they must do so with a clear realisation of what it will mean to the country.
Professor Tierney: It will mean, as I have already said, that this country will cut itself off from all international recognition which it has been painfully building up for itself for the last seven years.
Professor Tierney: It will mean that this State will not be recognised as in existence, and in order to achieve recognition it will have to do what it did in 1918 and 1919. It will have to send Deputy Seán T. O Ceallaigh to Paris to stand half in and half out of the door of a Minister, his feet in and his face out.
Professor Tierney: I was going to deal with that. Deputy MacEntee wanted freedom to reject the Treaty and have it at the same time. They want to be in the British Empire and out of it at the same time.
Professor Tierney: I mean that we are a free nation by virtue of the Treaty and by virtue of nothing else. As long as we keep to the Treaty we maintain our freedom, but when we reject it we go out into the wilderness and nobody can then say whether we are free or not free. Deputy MacEntee talked about the right of secession and he referred to an article which appeared in the “Star” some time ago in which it was said that the Irish people could at any time they pleased leave the British Commonwealth but that they could only do so by a constitutional revolution. Deputy MacEntee makes it a grievance that there cannot be a constitutional revolution. He makes it a grievance that in order to change our Constitution we would have to change our Constitution. That is  what it amounts to. If there was ever a party which wanted to have its cake and eat it at the same time, the Fianna Fáil Party are in that position. I do not know whether they are serious about it or not. It is very hard to say what they are serious about and what they are not serious about.
Deputy Lemass inquired whether it was enshrined in the document or why it was not, that the Parliament of one State has no power to legislate for another State, and if it was not enshrined in the document that one Government had no power to advise the Crown about the affairs of another Government against the will of that Government. It has been said time after time that these two questions have been settled and answered already. Deputy Lemass wants every time a document referring to the relations of this country with the British Government or the Dominions is produced, a certain number of flamboyant declarations to be made in the documents to please him.
Professor Tierney: I have not the Treaty by me, but it was part of the Constitution of the Free State that no other Parliament, has any power to legislate for the Free State except the Parliament of the Free State. It was in the clause of the Treaty for example which gave the Irish Free State the same constitutional status as the Dominion of Canada. It was in that for one. It was implicit in several other clauses, and the same thing applies about the right of one Government to advise the Crown about the affairs of another government. That was implicit in the position that this country accepted when it accepted the Treaty. Deputy Lemass cannot understand the difference between  practice and theory for one thing. He cannot understand that a certain thing can be the law in practice and not be enshrined in set, implicit terms in any handbook by Mr. Schlossberg or some other high authority. Everything has to be got out of a book. There was a good deal said about the power of reservation. A great deal of difficulty was made because people assumed that there was still some power of reservation inherent in the British Crown against the Acts of this Parliament. There is not and there never has been any. No case has arisen in which any discretionary reservation was ever exercised against any Act of this Parliament, and as the Minister for Defence pointed out that was so since this country accepted the same status and constitutional position that the Dominion of Canada possessed in 1921. There has never been compulsory reservation. There was in theory a possibility of discretionary reservation but that was set aside by the practice of Canada and it was never exercised in the Free State and cannot now be exercised.
Professor Tierney: “It is established first that the powers of discretionary reservation, if exercised at all, can only be exercised in accordance with the constitutional practice in the Dominion governing the exercise of the powers of the Governor-General.” In this Dominion the constitutional practice of the Governor-General is that discretionary reservation is not exercised at all. Is that satisfactory?
Professor Tierney: I am not a constitutional expert, but any baby can see that it is there. That is what causes the question to arise in my mind: do the Fianna Fáil Party always mean what they say when they get themselves tied up into constitutional knots about this question? The point was raised about the proper position that would exist if the British Government were to pass an Act disowning all powers of interference with the legislation of the Dominions, or if the British Government were to pass a declaratory Act dealing with extra-territoriality. I would just like to point out to the Fianna Fáil Party one thing in that connection. Deputy Lemass asked the Minister why should we not pass an Act giving the British Government extra-territoriality.
Professor Tierney: As I say, there is nothing to prevent us except Standing Orders and our sense of humour, if the Speaker did not prevent us from passing a resolution declaring that the British Government had the power of extra-territoriality. If we did pass it, I imagine that there would hardly be a humorous paper in Europe from one end to another that would not have a cartoon on the subject.
Professor Tierney: I would like to point out one consideration to the Deputy. It makes a big difference to us internationally whether our extra-territorial powers in that respect are recognised by the British Government or not, not altogether by reason of any theoretical legal point, but by reason of the fact, as was said in the 1926 Report, that equality of status and equality of function are two different things.
Professor Tierney: In any case, it was recognised implicitly in the Treaty. This gives explicit recognition, and in any case our claim to pass laws with extra-territorial application will be effected, to some extent, by the attitude of the British Government towards the laws. The British Government's claim to pass such laws will not be affected in the slightest degree, in practical language, in actual fact, with the world as it is, by anything we do, and that  is one reason, at any rate, why it is not, if you like, proposed that it would be essential, or at any rate highly desirable, in the interests of this country that such an Act should be passed by the British Government. One of the effects of the carrying into law of the implementation of this Report will be that ultimately, for the first time in history, the Irish Parliament will be able to sit down and lay down the conditions governing the rights of Irish nationals. For the first time in history the people of this country will have the right of their own will and without consulting anyone else to lay down the conditions under which persons may claim to be Irishmen or Irishwomen.
Like other parts of the declaration, like other powers which are dealt with in that declaration, that power also was implicit in the Treaty. It is being made explicit by the implementation of this Report. I would like to finish what I have to say by congratulating the Minister for External Affairs on the prospect of being the Minister who will be in charge of the first Act in this House establishing the terms under which people may claim to be Irishmen.
Mr. Law: If a pretty long parliamentary experience had left me with any capacity for surprise I should be surprised at the attitude which the Opposition has taken up to-day again over this Report. Actually my emotions can best be expressed if I say I am surprised at not being surprised. I know perfectly well what the attitude of the Opposition will be. Yet each time I think, surely, this time it will be different. I am afraid, sir, the trouble with me is I am what you might call an eighteenth century sort of person and I have an absolutely, perhaps an irrational, but deep-seated faith in the human reason. I can never help thinking if only people can be got to appreciate the actual facts of the case that once they have seen them and appreciated them they will shed their prejudices and modify their opinions. Let us take the case of the  Deputies opposite. They stand, according to their own premises, for the fullest possible measure of freedom for this country and to them the Treaty and the Dominion status which it implies is at best a makeshift and at worst an obstacle. As a Party they never seem, as the President reminded us a day or two ago, to have made up their minds whether they are going to work the Constitution or to smash the Constitution. Those who have accepted and try to work the Treaty and the Constitution are to them mugwumps and traitors. Suppose that somehow or other they could be brought to realise that Dominion status is not what they thought it in 1922, that it is something very much bigger and fuller, surely I kept saying to myself, they will modify their disapproval and even if they continue to disapprove, even if every other act of the present Government is displeasing to them, would not anybody think that their attitude to these foreign affairs relations would be to pail out each step towards larger freedom and to make haste to proclaim it to the world, lest at any time it should be forgotten or denied. What is it we find them doing on each occasion these things arise—debates on the League of Nations, debates on the Kellogg Pact, debates relating to the appointment of legations abroad and Dominion Conferences? Always the same thing—minimising, minimising, minimising. Every time the same thing, if they would only realise it, playing the very same game as that other faction to whom the idea of Ireland a nation is anathema.
Take this Report that we have here and see how we stand at this present moment. The Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Defence, and the Minister for Education have already dealt with it in detail, but the matter really is so little understood and so much misconception still surrounds it that a certain amount of repetition is necessary, in order to get it into people's minds. Therefore, I am going to ask you to let me restate the thing as I see it in my own way. Before I do that. I will make one or two observations on  the speeches we have heard from the opposite benches. Deputy O'Kelly, I must say, was pretty frank about his own position and the position of his Party. To him, if I have not misunderstood him, Dominion status is an abomination. He wants to get out of it altogether, even in his own words, including the progress which the Minister says it has made. That, Sir, at any rate, is an intelligible policy, even though it does not strike me as a very intelligent one. At the same time, he seemed rather to mar the effect of his declaration by complaining, almost in the same breath, that the Minister had not ended the power of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to interfere with Free State legislation, a power, let me say incidentally, that the Privy Council had never claimed or that I do not see how it could claim, the boot being rather on the other foot. What has happened is not that the Privy Council has interfered with our legislation but we, by legislation, have interfered with and in fact abrogated decisions of the Privy Council. He complained that the Minister had not raised that matter here and also that British control of the Six Counties was not dealt with by the Conference. Apart from the obvious fact that neither of these matters was within the terms of reference of the Conference it does seem a little inconsistent that the Deputy should at one and the same time complain that the Conference set up to deal with certain problems has not gone further and dealt with certain other problems, all relating to Dominion status, and at the same moment repudiate the whole affair and intimate that the dearest desire of himself and his friends is to scrap the lot. Surely if partition is to be ended by bringing the Six Counties into this State the effect must be to bring a yet larger number of Irishmen—and I am sure the Deputy, like myself, will regard the people of the Six Counties as Irishmen—into contact with this abomination of Dominion status. Why, having expressed condemnation of Dominion status in such forcible terms, he should wish to subject more of his  fellow-countrymen to it, I fail to understand.
Deputy Lemass asked a curious question, that if the British Parliament was to pass an Act affirming the right of the Free State legislature to legislate extra-territorially we should not pass an Act affirming the same right. That has already been answered very effectively by Deputy Tierney. I might make this further comment, that in asking it it is difficult to believe that Deputy Lemass was wholly serious. The very obvious difference is surely that the power to legislate extra-territorially was undoubtedly a power given to the Imperial Parliament, and it was a power which was actually exercised and, therefore, there is an obvious practical gain. We, on the other hand, may have had that power implicitly, but, as far as I am aware, we have never attempted to exercise it. Consequently, it is a clear gain that there should be a declaration of our ability so to use it, whereas obviously such a declaration from the British Parliament would add nothing at all.
That brings me back to the scope and purpose of this particular Conference. If you are going to deal honestly and fairly with the recommendations in this Report you must view it in a certain historical perspective. A fact which neither Deputy Lemass nor Deputy O'Kelly, nor I am bound to say Deputy O'Connell, seemed to be at all aware of was that in 1922 we came into association with something which had already had a long history and, what is still more important, with something which had grown and was growing, and, as this Report itself shows, is still growing. A great many years had passed since the first colonial self-government scheme was devised and in the interval, long before our Treaty in 1921, the whole conception of the relations between different parts of what everybody then called the British Empire and which we now call the British Commonwealth of Nations had changed. Everybody knows that. What everybody does not seem yet to have realised is—though it  is perfectly obvious, it is constantly forgotten—that though it was changing, had changed and was changing yet, precept had lagged a good way behind practice. Long before even the name of “colony” gave place to the name of “dominion” the old colonial idea had fallen out of date. Even while they were called “colonies” they were no longer thought of as promising but potentially naughty children who had to be kept in check by instructions given to Governments or by laws passed by the old lady at Westminster.
As Deputy MacEntee reminded us it is a great many years since any attempt has been made to enforce the provisions found in some constitutions, though not in ours, for disallowance. I believe also a great many years have passed since any attempt was made to enforce the provisions of the Colonial Laws Validity Act, an Act, which, curiously enough, to show how things grow, was in its time precisely an Act which imposed a limitation on what otherwise was a much wider power of the Parliament of Westminster; an Act which was at one time regarded as a charter of liberty, but which has become as much out of date and unsuitable as, let us say, the first knickerbocker suit of a small boy would be for a young man of eighteen. Another example of how a thing had grown is found in the fact that when you come to deal with the later constitutions and Dominions, particularly our own, you find the power of disallowance and the provision for compulsory reservation of certain Acts had no place at all there.
Our chief interest in these matters, and it is a very real interest, is that while we have not been able to do anything immediately for ourselves we had an opportunity of helping in extending greater freedom to others. In the early days, feelings about the ideas prevailing being what they were, it was quite natural that the Imperial Parliament should reserve to itself the right to make laws affecting Colonies and the  sole right to legislate extra-territorially. Equally, it was quite natural that the Government of Westminster should give instructions to its Colonial Governors, and that the Governors themselves should be empowered either to reserve certain things at their discretion, or actually compulsorily to reserve certain particular matters for the consideration of the Crown. As time went on, these powers have ceased to be used. When this State was founded, many of these powers were completely omitted. There were, however, certain other obsolescent powers which did affect us, such as the restrictions on extra-territorial legislation, discretionary reservation, and so on; theoretical limitations, as Deputy Tierney has said, but, none the less, limitations which, standing as they did on the Statute Book or in Constitutional text-books, it was in the highest degree desirable to get rid of and of which we have got rid. Point by point, as this Report shows, each theoretical shackle —there was no practical shackle— upon the liberties of the Dominions, of ourselves among them, has been struck off.
What is the position now, not as it was fifty years ago, not even as it was seven or eight years ago? What is the position to-day? It is this: No one, neither the King in the exercise of his ancient prerogative, nor British Ministers, nor anyone else, can any longer make any claim to limit, obstruct, modify or interfere with the free exercise of the powers of this Oireachtas or of the Ministers responsible to this Dáil.
The mist still hangs thick about the conception of the Crown and it has been mentioned more than once in this debate. I want to ask, in conclusion, in relation to the Free State, what is the Crown? The Crown is simply this: The King accepts and ratifies the will of this Irish Assembly, acting upon the advice of the Ministers who happen from time to time to occupy that Bench, be they the present Government or another. These are the facts which this Report reveals in the plainest possible terms.
 I want to ask one question of Deputies opposite. Suppose they succeed in taking the Free State out of the Commonwealth, as they wish to do—I want them to tell us this in perfectly plain language, because we never have had it, as far as I know —in what respect Ireland will be better off? I want to know what powers now denied she will then possess; what strength, now lacking to her, she will then gain? It is quite easy to see what she will lose when she stands by herself, a little country of four millions or so, even counting the Six Counties in the North-east; no longer bound up with others, her liberties no longer guaranteed by the liberties of the other Dominions. I want Deputies opposite to tell me what she will gain.
Mr. Derrig: The answer is, that she will gain what her martyrs have died for—a very simple answer. While the Sinn Fein movement, with which Deputy Law is not acquainted, was struggling to have Ireland regain its ancient position as a sovereign State, Deputy Law and his colleagues in the British House of Commons were striving for something far less than we had expected to achieve. It does not surprise me that Deputy Law wonders, that he is even slightly irritated, that the Fianna Fáil Party should, as he suggests, try to minimise the effect of the alleged advances which have been made and that are now laid down in the Report which lies before us. I think that Deputy Law, in his reference to partition and to the fact that there were so many Irishmen still outside the jurisdiction of the Free State, might have asked himself whether this whole question of Dominion status and of the advances that are said to have been made would not have rung truer and carried more conviction not only to the Fianna Fáil Party, but to the people of the country, if they had felt that there was any definite step forward towards the reunion of the whole country.
Mr. Derrig: The proposition is not before us, but Deputy Law has referred to it. I submit that, with your permission, I am entitled to ask why we are so much concerned with the advances that have been made by the Irish Free State and the other Dominions of the British Commonwealth in regard to their achieving independence when we have nothing whatever to show in regard to an advance towards reunion with our brethren in the North of Ireland. The Government Party cannot say that we have put obstacles in their way in that respect. As far as we are concerned we stand by the declaration of our acting leader, Deputy O'Kelly, who stated that we were glad to welcome and to support any step which will bring this country nearer its full national aspirations. Therefore, if such a step could have been made, or if there was any reference to it in this Report, we would welcome it. But the fact that the whole question of the partition of the country is not referred to in this Report, and that there is nothing whatever to show that out of these Imperial Conferences anything is going to result in the way of solving our most pressing Irish problem, to me shows that the whole Report, as Deputy Law himself pointed out, simply deals with a question of theory.
Now, the Minister for External Affairs, in introducing the Motion, asked the House to agree with him that very substantial changes had been made in the framework of the British Commonwealth of Nations; old vestiges, he said, of Imperial control have been swept away, and a great pruning has been accomplished, but for some reason or other which I cannot understand he has failed to draw attention to the compensatory development which has gone on, in consolidating and binding more closely together the different units of the British Empire on entirely new principles. These  principles were laid down in the Imperial Conference in 1926; they were the principles that have already been referred to in this debate as the principles of equality—the principles of equality of the Dominions one with the other. But these principles, although they were laid down in the Imperial Conference of 1926, were not finally worked out in their practical application until 1929, and we even find that some of the most important of them have not yet been solved.
We might have more faith in that declaration now of the basis of the association of the different members of the British Commonwealth, if a serious effort had been made to tackle the solution of some of the most pressing problems which, although referred to in 1926, were not even referred to in 1929 at the Experts Conference. The most important of these questions was the question of the Privy Council. When Deputy Tierney and other Deputies complained that Fianna Fáil members had called attention to articles in the Press dealing with what it was expected the Minister for External Affairs and his delegates were doing in London, the definite things they had set out to do, I think we have a right to question these articles, these communiques which have appeared in the Press and which certainly gave the country the impression that the question of the Privy Council was going to come up.
As a matter of fact, in the 1926 Conference Report, on page 19, I find it stated that “the particular case of the Irish Free State in relation to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was to have come up at the next Imperial Conference,” and in spite of the fact that it was definitely stated that that was a matter to be discussed at the Conference, and, therefore, I take it, a matter that should have received some attention at the Experts Conference, not alone was it not discussed, but it was entirely ignored, although a proposal for the establishment of an Imperial tribunal for the  settlement of inter-Imperial disputes was actually discussed and anticipatory remarks were made about it. I say the Minister for External Affairs was very lacking in his duty to this country that he did not insist upon having the question of the Privy Council placed upon the agenda and discussed. If it were not possible for him to have that done, he certainly should not have given his name to the suggestion that an inter-Imperial tribunal is necessary in order to discuss disputes that might arise between different members of the British Commonwealth.
Mr. Esmonde: On a point of order. The Deputy stated that the Minister put his name to a declaration that an inter-Imperial tribunal was necessary. Is that contained in the Report? I submit that the Deputy's remarks about the Privy Council are out of order.
Mr. Derrig: The actual statement was that there was general agreement as to the jurisdiction of an ad hoc body selected from standing panels nominated by the several members of the British Commonwealth and that the jurisdiction should be limited to justiciable issues arising between Governments. I think that was a definite agreement that such a tribunal was necessary and should come into being.
Mr. Derrig: It has just this to do with it: that this Government have no right until they have carried out  their pledges, or what the country understood were their pledges, in the matter of the Privy Council to go further and set up any tribunal, and that they have no right to lend themselves to the suggestion that such a tribunal was necessary. Even from their own point of view it has been pointed out that such a tribunal is likely to come into conflict with the tribunal of the League of Nations, and that by setting up such a court we are in fact pledging ourselves, as Deputy O'Connell pointed out, to setting up a kind of Imperial Parliament that will in effect be the controlling authority for discussing all matters that affect the group of units within the British Commonwealth. We here in this House may be told that we have full power to discuss the British Commonwealth in relation to the Irish Free State, but at this Imperial tribunal which is to be set up——
Mr. Derrig: ——the whole of the relations between the units of the Commonwealth and the whole question of group control to which Deputy MacEntee referred, will be decided there. If it is not set up I would like to ask Deputy Tierney what is the meaning of the statement in that recommendation that there was general agreement that the jurisdiction should be limited to justiciable issues arising between Governments? Furthermore, the prevailing view was that any such tribunal should take that form.
Professor Tierney: I suggest, if the Deputy will allow me, that that sentence means just what it says. There was general agreement that if there was such a court—on the supposition that it was later agreed there should be such a court—its jurisdiction should be limited; that is to say, there was general agreement as to a limitation of any possible court that might be, after some time, set up.
Mr. Derrig: I say that when the Conference decided about these qualifications, if we admit they are qualifications, that is the surest proof that the idea of the tribunal has not alone taken shape but that definite action will soon be taken to bring it into operation.
Professor Tierney: The meaning of that paragraph is contained in the last sentence. All that it recognises with regard to such a court is that the whole matter will be subject to further examination by all the Governments. It is a pure misuse of words of the most flagrant type to suggest that the document contains any suggestion of an agreement that such a court should be set up.
Mr. Derrig: It was stated in the 1926 Report that the particular case of the Free State in regard to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was to be discussed at the next Imperial Conference. That statement was made after the following proviso:
It was generally recognised that where changes in the existing system were proposed which, while primarily affecting one part raised issues in which other parts were also concerned, such changes ought only to be carried out after consultation and discussion.
No matter whether the Irish Free State attempts to take up a separate attitude and an independent attitude in any matter such as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the fact is that certain provisos which run all through this Report by which what is called uniformity of treatment is to be secured, will in effect mean that in the long run the Free State, however it may seek independent standing or independent action, will be coerced—you may use some other word if you like—into a common policy which will suit the other Dominions. That is running all through the Report. The fact that certain anomalies have been removed, that certain rotten branches of the tree have been taken away,  does not alter the fact that this confiscatory development is going on, and that an effort is being made to force us into the position that the Free State will not be able to take any action without previous consultation with the other Dominions and previous sanction from them.
That is particularly noticeable in regard to the question of negotiations and treaties. I find no reference to that in the present Report. I find it stated very categorically and very specifically in the 1926 Report that any part of the Empire which decides to make a treaty or negotiate a treaty must first acquaint all other units which may be interested or which may be affected by such negotiations. Subsequently in the event of no adverse comments being received from the other units of the Empire and in the event also of such negotiations or treaties not imposing any active obligations on any other parts of the Empire or on the Empire as a whole, presumably the Irish Free State or whatever negotiating member is concerned, may proceed on the assumption that this policy is generally acceptable “provided, however, that before involving other governments in any active obligation it must obtain their definite consent.”
It can be argued in regard to all treaties that are made, or are about to be made, and all negotiations that are taking place, that since the Irish Free State is a component part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the foreign policy of which is at present largely dominated by the Government of Great Britain, the foreign policy of which is subject to various sanctions and consultations, and the foreign policy of which is largely unified, the Irish Free State cannot take any step forward without consultation and without the final consent of the other Dominions concerned. Another proviso is that all treaties are to be made in the name of the King. Not alone are we bound to consult all the other Dominions and get their previous consent, not alone are we absolutely  forbidden to make treaties unless we have very specific agreement, but also we have to consider the other proviso that the treaty is to be made in the name of the King.
Mr. Derrig: I am dealing with the 1926 Conference, and as we are discussing the whole question of Dominion status, and as various other matters such as the Treaty of 1921 are being discussed, I am hopeful that you will allow me to continue.
Mr. Derrig: This uniformity which is necessary, and which is to be achieved by previous consultation and by ratification, and assent is first to be got from all the Dominions, as is stressed in the present Report. The Minister for External Affairs stressed paragraphs 77 and 78. He claimed that there was a new step forward in the connotation or interpretation of the term nationality and of the position of Irish Free State nationals. It is interesting in view of that claim to look at paragraph 78, which states:
It is, of course, plain that no member of the Commonwealth either could or would contemplate seeking to confer on any person a status to be operative throughout the Commonwealth, save in pursuance of legislation based upon common agreement, and it is fully recognised that this common status is in no way inconsistent with the recognition within and without the Commonwealth of the distinct nationality possessed by the nationals of the individual states of the British Commonwealth.
Although the Irish Free State is said to be perfectly free and to have full power to adopt its own policy, the fact is that under one of these formulas, carefully concealed and very ably drafted by the most skilful  draftsmen and diplomatists in the world, the mailed fist disguised as a gloved hand is there apparent in paragraph 78:
There is a matter which is said to be a matter of domestic concern, the whole question of Irish Free State nationals. In that and all kindred matters, I say it will be necessary to acquaint the other members of the Empire of the legislation that the Free State proposes to introduce. If any dissent is got or if it can be proved that any obligation is being imposed upon those other units of the Commonwealth, the Irish Free State cannot proceed.
Professor Tierney: May I interrupt the Deputy? That Section 78 of the Report means to anybody who knows how to read that the Irish Free State is not going to have the powers to make people citizens of Australia or Canada. That is all it means. They cannot pass legislation to be operative in Canada or Australia without consulting those Dominions.
Mr. Derrig: Deputy Tierney has frequently assured the House that he is not a constitutional lawyer. I have not consulted any textbooks, and if I did I would in all probability be told that those textbooks do not represent the facts. I am reading a section which I do not understand and which Deputy Tierney says he does understand. I hope the Minister  for External Affairs will explain that section. I have only dealt with that section of common agreement. “And no unit of the Commonwealth could or would seek to do such a thing.” The question of common status, which the Minister said in his opening speech was likely to be got rid of if it were found to be a bother or obstacle, I leave out of consideration. My general reply to Deputy Tierney on this matter would be that when the Minister for External Affairs tells us, as he did tell us in reply to questions from this side of the House yesterday, that certain parts of the Report could apply and that certain other parts do not, let him at least tell us which apply and which do not. In section 36 we are told that “it would be in accordance with constitutional practice that if so requested by the Dominion concerned the Government of the United Kingdom should ask Parliament to pass the necessary legislation.” Elsewhere it is stated that legislation passed by the Government or Parliament of the United Kingdom will not have force in the Dominions or will not apply to the Dominions unless by consent and with the approval of the Dominion concerned. Why should it be necessary to put that in is a matter that we do not understand. Why should it be also necessary in this matter, of an amendment of the Constitution, to seek legislation from the British Parliament, if, as is suggested here, we are co-equal with England and if the members of the British Commonwealth have full sovereign powers? These are matters I do not understand.
Mr. Derrig: In Section 67 of the Report we are told definitely that “In the case of the Irish Free State they are exercised in accordance with the obligations undertaken by the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty signed in London on 6th day of December, 1921,” so that not alone in regard to the question of partition but in regard to the question of the amendment of the Constitution,  if a majority of our people should require that it should be amended in a certain way, all this talk about Dominion status and the advance that has been made at this Conference simply amounts to this, that we are in exactly the same position as we were at the beginning. If we are prepared to take the Dominion statesmen at their word, if we are prepared to follow Mr. Baldwin's advice and to show that we are definitely to have closer co-operation, to bind the link of Empire more closely together, then this Report and the recommendations in it will be welcome. I am glad to see that Mr. Baldwin had to warn the Irish Free State Government that they were not quite such good boys as he would like them to be. If, however, we feel that no fresh links, whether of affection or co-operation should be welded until anachronisms like the Privy Council are first got out of the way, then I am with them. Let us first carry out the policy that was enunciated in the 1926 Conference Report and let us carry out to the full the anticipations and prophecies that were made there, that all anomalies inconsistent with full equality and full sovereign status would be rectified. When all these are rectified and when the Minister for External Affairs can come to this House and show us that in the matter of such questions as the Oath and the Succession that we are as free as they would have us believe, then they would get the co-operation and support from this side of the House that they ask for.
Mr. Derrig: In regard to that question, I am not the Minister responsible for carrying out that policy. The Government on the opposite benches are responsible for carrying out that policy. They have put it to us to accept this at the valuation they have placed upon it and we, I  submit, are entitled to ask them why they have not done so. As regards what we would do in similar circumstances if we were in the position in which they are in, we will, when we are in that position, answer that question.
Mr. Byrne: I rise to congratulate the Minister and those in association with the Minister at the London Conference on the very successful accomplishment of a very difficult and delicate task. The successful carrying out of that task has resulted in the sweeping away of obsolete constitutional practice, the clarification of international relationship and the establishment of international goodwill, not alone between this country and Great, Britain but between this country and every unit of the Commonwealth of Nations. This House, in ratifying the recommendations of the 1929 Conference, are engaged, in my opinion, in one of the most important and historic tasks that has ever been set before this House. One hundred years ago, in 1829, this country was placed by O'Connell in the position of having obtained complete religious freedom. The efforts of the Minister for External Affairs, and those associated with him at the London Conference, have given to this country complete political and economic freedom. It has been stated in this House by those on the opposite benches that the result of the activities of the Minister and his colleagues at the London Conference has eventuated in a lessening of the status that this country already enjoys. On the contrary, the result of the efforts of our representatives there has been the complete destruction of the supremacy of the British Parliament and has resulted in establishing recommendations which will shortly be put in black and white, as I have already interjected in an interruption in this House. These recommendations can always be appealed to. They will always be on record. The Minister for Defence, in dealing with the word “Dominion,” clearly asked a very pertinent  question which should be answered by those Deputies on the opposite side of the House. The Minister pointed out that the word “Dominion” was a word, the meaning of which was continually being changed, and that there was no reason to expect that the process of change will not continue in the future as well as in the past. At one time the word “Dominion” meant as far as the British Empire was concerned, that the various units of the Commonwealth were simply dependencies of Great Britain to be used by her as a market to accept their manufactured goods and in return supply Great Britain with raw material.
It was not until 1859, when Canada declared her right to control tariffs, that there was first set up the right to control an economic policy on the part of the various units of the British Commonwealth. Again, in 1880, Australia declared her right to control immigration. It was not until 1919 that equal status was given to the Dominions by their entry into the League of Nations. Deputy Tierney carefully and shrewdly pointed out one effect which the abrogation of the status we now enjoy would bring on the country. It would at once remove our right of representation at the League of Nations. It was not until 1920, when Canada sent her first Ambassador to Washington, that complete autonomy, if not recognised in law, at least existed in fact, was completely recognised. The 1926 Conference declared, and there have been various criticisms based on that declaration, that the Dominions are autonomous communities within the British Empire and in no way subordinate either in domestic or external affairs. I would point out that that was merely a declaratory statement of principle which was actually non-existent in law.
Deputy Lemass asked: “Why ask the House to ratify the recommendation of this Conference?” Is Deputy Lemass so ignorant of constitutional law as not to know that a simple declaration has no legal  value and that that declaration might as well never have been written until it was ratified and legally embodied in legislation? To any student of constitutional law, the word “Dominion” is almost a complexing thing to consider. If one looks up constitutional authorities, one will find some astounding things there, things which should be considered by the Opposition Party before they put forward the arguments which they have put forward. Professor Dicey, one of the great constitutional authorities, states, on page 64, that if the British Parliament were to-morrow to impose a tax on Victoria or the Canadian Dominion, the statute imposing it would be a legally valid enactment. What has the London Conference accomplished so far as such a constitutional position in law is concerned? Have they not completely swept out an anomaly existing in law, but not actually existing in practice? How can these anomalies be dealt with if this House refuses to ratify the recommendation of the 1929 Conference? Is it the wish of Opposition Deputies that those should still continue, or is it their wish to have them removed? Anyone with a knowledge of constitutional law knows that the Parliament at Westminster possesses various legal powers which the Dominions steadfastly and consistently refuse to recognise.
Mr. Byrne: If one glances at the question of extra-territoriality, what will be the position if we refuse to ratify the recommendations of the 1929 Conference? Have we any rights, either de jure or de facto? Have we any extra-territorial powers? None whatever. What is the position if these recommendations are not passed? Extra-territorial powers at present are the exclusive right and privilege of the British House of Commons. Not a single unit of the Dominions possesses them. That was one anomaly which the various delegates representing  the Dominions met in Conference to ratify, and that legal anomaly will no longer exist if the recommendations of the Conference are accepted and if the various units of the Commonwealth ratify them. If the House ratify the recommendations the great result that will arise from that ratification is that British Imperialism is absolutely dead and that the supremacy of the British Parliament will be absolutely destroyed.
Reference has been made in the course of this debate to the legal powers that the British Parliament still enjoys, the powers of disallowance and the powers of reservation. At the moment, in law these powers legally exist so far as Canada and Australia are concerned and they embody absolutely the predominance of the British Parliament. If we accept the recommendations and ratify them these reservations will no longer exist. These rights of disallowance will no longer be in existence and the co-equality of the various units of the British Commonwealth will be absolutely established. The progress in regard to the status of the various Dominions has not, I fear, been considered by Deputies who sit on the Opposition Benches. The position of those Dominions to-day, if these recommendations are ratified, is that they are absolutely co-equal with Great Britain in every way. It was not until 1919 that that autonomy of the various units of the British Commonwealth was ever even admitted in principle. The 1926 Conference set forth that the various units of the British Commonwealth were co-equal and autonomous. The 1929 Conference ratified and embodied that equality and when we ratify and embody it also, we will be doing one of the best day's work that could be done, both on behalf of this State and of the various units that make up the British Commonwealth.
This mere declaratory statement made by the 1926 Conference has no effect in law, but, when the proposals of the 1929 Conference are accepted and duly ratified by this  House, and when they are embodied in statute, as they will be, there can be no legal doubts as to the co-equality of this country with Great Britain and the co-equality of other units of the Commonwealth.
One has heard from time to time throughout this country, from one end of it to the other, that the Governor-General of this State was merely an agent of the Imperial Parliament. I have heard that statement made on political hustings time and time again. The recommendations of the 1929 Conference clearly set forth the actual position of the Governor-General is not the agent of His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, or any Department of that Government, but that he is the agent of the common people of this State. He is subject to the will of the common people of this State, and he is an agent over whom the British Parliament has absolutely no control. I suggest to this House that the declarations concerning these various matters are matters of outstanding political importance to the future of this State. Deputy O'Kelly was frank enough, in dealing with the 1929 recommendations. He frankly stated that the main problem which was confronting the Opposition Party was not the continuance of the present political status of the Free State but how to get out of the British Commonwealth and to destroy the Dominion status which we are now enjoying. He stated that there was no freedom of association, so far as the association of the Saorstát is concerned, with the various units of the British Commonwealth. I do not know how that statement could be justified in view of the various decisions of the electorate, decisions made repeatedly, declaring in favour of the present political status of this country.
I asked Deputy O'Kelly in the course of his remarks was the association of South Africa with the British Commonwealth free and Deputy O'Kelly referred to certain incidents that occurred, as far as the  passports of the delegates of South Africa were concerned, which had come under his own personal notice. South Africa is a unit of the British Commonwealth. Deputy O'Kelly expressed misgivings as to whether that association was voluntary or involuntary. In 1917 General Smuts stated “The status of the Dominions as equal nations of the Empire, will have to be recognised.” He stated that that status would have to be recognised in 1917. It was not then actually recognised. It was then perfectly clear that South Africa was completely dissatisfied with the association that existed between Great Britain and that State. Two years later General Smuts stated: “The status of the Dominions as equal nations of the Empire in equality, in freedom, is absolute, not alone among the other States of the Empire, but among the nations of the world.” These two statements clearly show the progress that has been made, the continual advance that has been made in the status of the Dominions which constitute various units of the British Commonwealth. The Report of the Conference of 1929 which we are asked to ratify intends that these things be embodied in a statute of the English law. Would any member on the Opposition benches deny that that is not a very essential and a very wise proceeding as far as this country is concerned? There was an old judge who once said: “When a man says to you ‘my word is my bond’ always get his bond.” We are now getting the bond of the British Parliament that the status of this country is identical with the status Britain herself possesses.
Deputy O'Kelly told us that the object of his Party is to establish a Republic. I wonder does this mean another round with England and if so will his Party say on the hustings that that is their policy and let the electorate of this country actually know where they stand? The view of the common people of this country, as far as I am aware of it, is that having voted for a certain status, and having supported  the Executive in confirmation of that status, what they have they intend to hold. We have been told by Deputy O'Kelly that the ultimate aim for which his Party stands is to set up an Irish Republic. He has given us to understand that our present status was only accepted under the threat of terrible and immediate war. I wonder how the other units of the Commonwealth, Australia, for instance, entered into the British Commonwealth? It was done voluntarily. She had nobody to coerce her, nobody to force her into the status she has taken. Why did Australia enter the British Commonwealth? The reason is very simple. Australia entered the British Commonwealth because of the threat of external aggression. She had to choose between the co-operation of the British Commonwealth and German absolutism. I suppose I need hardly inform Deputy O'Kelly that there is an island lying contiguous to Australia, the island of New Guinea, one of the largest islands in the world. There was a threat of occupation by the Germans if trouble arose, and that was one of the main causes which resulted in Australia going in and taking her place by the side of the Dominions in the late war.
It was the fear of the threat of external aggression that caused Australia, as far back as 1897, to vote an annual sum of £126,000 to Britain for the purpose of naval defence. What does the naval defence of this country cost at present? If the present association between this country and Great Britain were removed would Deputy O'Kelly mind telling us what he would put in its place? How would he defend the country? What means has he at his disposal to see that the safety of the citizens of the State is preserved? Empty talk about a Republic that could not exist for twenty-four hours if it was set up to-morrow! I wonder why Canada agreed to come voluntarily into the British Commonwealth? Was it not also because of a threat of external aggression? Anybody familiar with constitutional  proceedings in the British Commonwealth knows that it was the German threat of invasion that brought Canada in as a unit of the British Commonwealth. In 1909, after the British squadron was taken away from the colonial station and brought to the North Sea owing to the German threat of aggression——
Mr. Byrne: I will come back to it immediately; I just want to say one word in reply to Deputy O'Kelly— immediately, Canada set up a navy that she controlled in time of peace and placed at the disposal of the British Admiralty in time of war. I would like to ask Deputies on the Opposition benches if they refuse to ratify the recommendations of the 1929 Conference, is this country free from the threat of external aggression? Is she able to stand on her own feet when powerful countries like Canada and Australia were unable to do so? If it was in the interest of Australia and Canada to enter into this fusion of interests that are embodied in the 1929 Conference, will it not also be for the interest of this little island to follow that example? I am sure if the association between this country and Britain were removed and if Great Britain were to permit the proclamation of a republic here, whatever Government would be in power, the first thing they would have to consider would be the threat of external aggression that has already been considered by Canada and Australia. If we ratify the recommendations of the 1929 Conference there could be no fear of a threat of external aggression. The political status of the country is perfectly safe and perfectly sound. If we refuse to ratify these recommendations, it is only right and proper that Deputies on the Opposition benches should tell the country what they mean to set up in its place to defend the rights of the citizens in its place.
The Minister for External Affairs has been criticised because he failed to obtain complete satisfaction with regard to Trustee Stock in London. The British Government has refused the Minister for External Affairs to permit the terms of a contract affecting trustee stock in London to be altered without the consent of that Government. Will any one in this House say that is an unreasonable attitude? Will anyone say that right would not be exercised by France or Germany? If other countries insist on the maintenance of such a right is it reasonable that Great Britain should forego it? Gilt edged stock is a very important item in the maintenance of the life of the British people. The right to retain control over her own money market is one of the most important rights that Great Britain enjoys. She says to this country: “if you want to use our market these are our terms; you can accept or refuse them, you are a perfectly free agent to act in whatever way you please.” The Minister has been criticised because he could not obtain a settlement of these terms to suit the parties on the Opposition benches. These are the terms which apply to every unit of the British Commonwealth, Canada, Australia and South Africa. Can any man in this House tell me why the Free State should receive special preferential treatment with regard to trustee stock over other Dominions? Has the action of the Opposition Party since they entered the House been such as to warrant the wiping out of this control which the British Government insists on exercising? Has the campaign for the repudiation of the land annuities had anything to do with the position which Great Britain has taken up in this matter? If the Opposition Party came into power to-morrow the first act they mean to indulge in is the repudiation of a legal contract entered into and ratified by this country. The repudiation of the land annuities is one of the most fatuous proceedings any responsible Opposition could embark on.
Acting-Chairman (Professor Thrift): I think the Deputy is in order in so far as he introduced it as an explanation, but he is not in order in criticising the policy of the Opposition with regard to land annuities.
Mr. J.J. Byrne: I have no intention of criticising any further than I have already criticised the policy of the Opposition on the other side. It needs no criticism. All I have to say is if we do not honour our bond and contract, as far as this country is concerned, in one respect, such as that to which I have referred, is it reasonable, is it within the realms of possibility, that any Minister going to represent you at the 1929 Conference could get you the terms you now seek as far as our trustee stock on the London market is concerned? I feel that it is the duty of those on the back benches behind the Minister to congratulate him and the delegates associated with him on the wonderful success of the Conference of 1929. It is a very historic day in the life of this nation. The Minister deserves the greatest credit for the success of his task, and every member, on these benches at least, is solidly and whole-heartedly behind him.
Mr. Moore: If assertion were argument this day would be one of wonderful achievement. I never heard as many assertions in any debate as I heard to-day, assertions that, though they all came from one side of the House, were not always consistent one with another, but that is not very important sometimes. We heard that co-equality undoubtedly existed at the time of the Treaty, that it existed many years before the Treaty, and that it was created by the 1926 Conference, and that co-equality was now established as a fact. It is rather curious that nobody seemed to quote authority for the statement. It is curious if co-equality  existed twelve months ago that so important a man as the President of the Legislative Council in New Zealand could make the statement: “The right of the Imperial Parliament to pass laws affecting New Zealand was undoubted. Questioned it was by other Dominions— never by New Zealand.” That, mind you, is nearly three years after the 1926 Conference.
Mr. Moore: I did not think that the Minister was inclined up to the present to go on the basis of constitutional law. Anyhow, you have that notion differently prevailing in New Zealand and I think support for the opinion is found in the Minister's own speech when introducing this debate. You had as the “Irish Times” remarks to-day a certain nervous tone going through it. One might think one thing with regard to that tone or one might think another thing, but to my mind it betrayed a certain anxiety. There was evident an attempt to conceal the Minister's failure though I do not think the failure meant any reflection on the Minister or his colleagues. I have listened to a great deal of this debate and the opinion I have formed from the various speeches is this: that the Minister and his colleagues went over last year to the Conference with the undoubted intention of securing the implementation of the 1926 principles. They were naturally elated over what they had achieved in 1926 and they thought that the implementing of these principles would be a further big feather in their cap.  It seems to me they have been very disappointed.
I quote the Minister's own remark. “No two agreed in points of detail. All did agree in their view of the constitutional status that had been achieved but there was great disagreement as to the use that should be made of the particular position that all believed had been achieved.”
Now it is very funny to find in regard to people who are satisfied that they have achieved a certain thing, that no two of them could agree as to the use that could be made of it. What on earth good is a principle except in its application? Does it not cast a curious light on the 1926 Conference when we find the Minister here making that statement yesterday as to what had been achieved in 1926—“No two of them agreed as to the use which should be made of it”? That seemed to me to reveal a great deal. It seemed to suggest that some of the Dominions who had been parties to the 1926 agreement were not over enthusiastic about that agreement, that they had reached it in a sort of unconscious way, but as the speech of this gentleman I have just quoted in New Zealand indicates, it really did not represent any longing on their part and was a matter of small interest to them. The Minister for External Affairs goes on in his speech to say: “We had to frame a report and frame recommendations which would get the greatest possible agreement from those people who were there gathered together and the report was framed generally so as to have that opinion.” That suggests also that there were people not too anxious to make the fullest use of the 1926 principles.
Does it suggest anything more? Does it not suggest that there had been something like intrigue between 1926 and 1929, and would it be altogether far-fetched to suggest that the action of Great Britain and the other Dominions in connection with the signing of the optional clause last year is part of the same thing—that these things are closely  connected? When one reads the recommendations that are made, when one sees the curious form they take —that in certain cases, for instance, the Parliament of the United Kingdom is not to legislate for a Dominion unless with the consent of that Dominion—one begins to think whether Great Britain herself is very keen on the 1926 principles. If she believed that these principles were valuable, that they were creating a new era for the Commonwealth of Nations, would she agree to create such confusion in practice—and the importance of practice has been emphasised several times this evening —by agreeing to legislate for another State of the Commonwealth? I think there is plenty of ground for scepticism on that point. I think there is ground in the whole Report for scepticism as to the genuineness of several of the States that were parties to the 1926 Conference, and similarly parties to this Conference. If they were all united in desiring to legislate on the 1926 principles, then I hold the recommendations need not take the form that they do take in this Report. Surely there could be a more direct method found than to say that the Parliament of the United Kingdom should be asked to pass certain legislation. There is no indication, I notice, of the representatives of Great Britain giving their assurance that the existing Government of the United Kingdom would pass such legislation or stake its existence upon the passing of such legislation, which might be the case, I think, if these proposals were seriously intended.
Mr. Moore: I suggest that at least we could agree it is a very indirect way of achieving the result by simply putting down a recommendation  that in certain cases the Parliament of the United Kingdom should be asked to pass legislation.
Mr. Moore: The alternative would seem to me to be a general Act. Surely there could be a Declaration of Rights. Could there not be a general Act on the part of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that none of its present laws could be applied in any way to another Commonwealth?
Mr. McGilligan: What would we be told in this House if that was to be done, that the implication was that there were a great many laws that were at variance and that there were a great many cases in which laws could be passed by the British Parliament nullifying laws passed.
Mr. Moore: I am quoting the terms in the Report. In connection with the same matter, I call attention to this again, that it still remains possible for Great Britain to pass legislation applying to this country if a Government comes into power in this country that requests her or agrees to her doing so. It was emphasised by several speakers that this Conference regularised things, that it establishes the position of the Dominions on a uniform basis. What will be the position in ten years' time supposing the recommendation I have just referred to is taken advantage of by different States—where will the “practice” be? Is that what the Minister for Education would call progress or retrogression—he again and again emphasised that this Report implied either progress or retrogression. As compared with 1926. I for one would not consider that it indicates progress. I consider that in several instances it indicates retrogression.
Mr. Moore: It implies superiority, since it can only apply to one Dominion. It is unthinkable that it would apply as, say, between Canada and the Saorstát. It is unthinkable that Canada is going to come to the Saorstát and say: “Will you pass legislation governing that particular problem in your own country and apply it to us?” In so far as that recommendation acknowledges the predominance of one particular State in the Commonwealth——
Mr. Moore: I say it is unthinkable that such a thing could take place between Canada and the Saorstát. It is not unthinkable that it should take place, say, between New Zealand  and Great Britain. It is not unthinkable that it could take place between this country and Great Britain, and between Canada and Great Britain. In that sense it reestablishes the predominance of Great Britain.
Mr. Moore: My position is that I would have been very glad to vote for this Report if I thought it represented any advance, but as I view it, the Commonwealth is an altogether unnatural association. There is no spiritual affinity between the States that form this British Commonwealth and that lack of spiritual affinity is shown plainly to have evinced itself at the Conference last year. It is quite possible to infer from the retrogression that has taken place between 1926 and 1929 that this association in the Commonwealth is going to lead to rather more trouble than  advantage. As the Minister or none of his supporters has made any attempt to show the advantages of the association, I cannot, at all events, bring myself to vote for the Report, or to agree that it is desirable that its recommendations should be approved.
Before sitting down I should like the Minister to explain one thing that I suppose he will have no objection to explaining. He started off with this rather enigmatical statement: “I would rather have had to debate this in other circumstances when I could have dealt more adequately with this resolution, viewing it both from the point of view of the magnitude of the matters with which it deals and the momentous nature of the recommendations brought forward for discussion.” He does not give any idea what the other circumstances are, and he has left one Deputy, at least, curious to know what they are. If he would not have any objection, I should be glad if he would satisfy my curiosity.
Mr. Esmonde: The last speaker seemed to think that the debate was coming to an end. As far as I know, this debate will continue for some very considerable time. Of the speeches which I have heard from the opposite benches, I must say that I preferred the speech of Deputy O'Kelly to the speech of Deputy O'Connell, as representing the Labour Party. Deputy O'Kelly's speech was far more favourable and more honest than the speech of Deputy O'Connell.
Mr. Esmonde: I was pained, I must say, to listen to the speech delivered yesterday by the Leader of the Labour Party. If the sentiments expressed by Deputy O'Connell are to be the sentiments of this new Labour Party which is to start to assume the leadership of the Opposition in this country——
Mr. Esmonde: I say that that movement is doomed to failure. I say, furthermore, that such a speech delivered against this motion— whether it was against or for the motion we could not tell; I assume it was against the motion—would never have been delivered by the man who should have been the Leader of the Irish Labour Party in this country if the English had not dragged him out when he was wounded and shot him in 1916. James Connolly would never have made the speech which Deputy O'Connell made yesterday against this motion.
As the Minister has pointed out, this is perhaps the most important document which the Dáil has had to consider since the Treaty of 1921. I remember when a very distinguished lady who did good service to this country, a lady who, with her brother, Lord Henry Bentinck, founded the “Peace with Ireland League” of England and who played an important part in bringing about the Truce of 1921—Lady Ottoline Morrell was over here in 1919. When she was leaving the country, noticing the great and joyful enthusiasm of the younger generation in working for the freedom of the country, she said to me: “You are flirting with freedom to-day; when you have been married to the lady for some years it will be a different story.” I notice here to-night that this document is being discussed in an empty House with an empty gallery, although it is the end of the work which was put in by Collins and Griffith for so many years to achieve the recognition of the sovereign independence of the Irish Free State.
 I congratulate the Minister and his associates, particularly that silent partner in the Government— the Attorney-General—on the great work for our country which they put in in this Conference. I should also like to put on record a tribute to a great British statesman and patriot who, by working to produce this document, has done good service to England, to our country, and to the whole Commonwealth, and that is Sir William Jowett, the Attorney-General in the present British Government, who, I understand, played a predominant part in bringing about this historic document. I think that we in Ireland, irrespective of whether we may be engaged in political controversies and thinking more of Party gains and discussions, can pay a tribute to the work that Sir William Jowett has done in bringing about this world-wide historic document which will result in the peace and concord and co-operation of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
I do not know if Deputies have witnessed or read a recent play by that meteoric Irish dramatist, Mr. Bernard Shaw, called “The Apple Cart.” If Deputies would read that play I think they would find the answer would be found there to many of the problems which are discussed and which are solved in this Report. For instance, there is the question of reservation, and also the question of disallowance. I must say that the whole burden of the argument in the “Apple Cart” is against the abolition of disallowance, and that Mr. Bernard Shaw has realised that politicians are not infallible and that you must have some extra political authority to prevent politicians from becoming too extravagant in their ideas. I have on many occasions expressed my disapproval of Parliamentary Government——
Mr. Esmonde: There is one point I would like to draw the attention of the House to, and that is that this momentous Report synchronises with the reconciliation of Ireland with one of the greatest countries which has grown up largely by Irish labour, and that is Australia. During the last 8 years, in all the Imperial Conferences and at the League of Nations, the Irish Free State was seen pulling at one end and Australia at the other. There has been constant conflict with Australia. Now, as a result of this Report, and also as a result of other circumstances, we are in complete agreement with that great continent which the Irish people have materially contributed in establishing as a nation, and it is rather remarkable that this Report should come out at that particular time after long years of disagreement.
There are certain matters in this Report which, I think, Deputies should remark. In the first place, the terms used are important. The term “Imperial Parliament” has been abolished. The term used in this Report is “Parliament of the United Kingdom or the Parliament of any one of the Dominions.” That is very important. The term “Imperial Parliament” was used in the Treaty and now it has been softened down to the term “Parliament of the United Kingdom.” Likewise, there is a very remarkable statement, I think it is in section 60, that the Crown was a symbol of the free association of the members of the Commonwealth. That has never been used before, and that is to be embodied in the Bill that is to be passed on the recommendation of the Conference.
I am sorry that we have not here to-day two men who would have been glad to have witnessed the achievements of their objects in this Report, and those, as the Minister for Education mentioned last night, would be Mr. Kevin O'Higgins, who was mainly responsible for the Report of 1926, and, also, General Collins. General Collins used a very peculiar phrase in the course of the discussion  about the Treaty. He said: “We have won freedom to achieve freedom.” Many of his followers thought that that meant that we were going to accept the Treaty technically, that we were going to accept it in the letter but not in the spirit, and that we were going to conspire to overthrow the Treaty behind, so to speak, the front benches which had achieved the Treaty and secured it for us. That was the principle and the belief of those who rebelled or mutinied in the Army in 1924. The document which Major-General Tobin and Colonel Dalton and others signed, as a kind of ultimatum to the Government, was founded on the belief that that was the doctrine of Michael Collins, that we could accept the Treaty and work and conspire behind the backs of the Government to achieve a republic. Since then I realise there was a deeper significance in what General Collins said, and this document is a true interpretation of what he meant when he said “ freedom to achieve freedom”—that the kernel of freedom was there, and that it only needed hard work on the part of the State to brush away the relics and to establish the supreme sovereignty and independence of our State. I believe that is the true interpretation of what General Collins said.
With regard to the section that deals with nationality, I should like to say that the question of nationality has proved very difficult in this country for many years. The Minister has pointed out, it is true, that from henceforth we have the right to make what laws we wish as to nationality of the citizens of our State. A curious word has arisen in connection with nationality in the Commonwealth, and that is the word “Britisher”—a word that I thoroughly dislike. It is a curious thing that when returning from Australia with Deputy Bryan Cooper and Senator O'Hanlon four years ago, a dinner was given aboard the boat by Lord Salisbury, who at that  time was leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal in the British Government, and he remarked that he strongly objected to be called a “Britisher.” He said he wanted to be called an Englishman, and he informed me that the word “Britisher” was invented at the time of the war between Great Britain and America as a term of reproach against British troops in America. Strange enough, only a year ago, at some banquet in England, Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Churchill both resented publicly the term “Britisher,” and said they wanted to be called Englishmen. They said that they wanted to be called Englishmen. Finally, at another function, the former Governor-General of the Irish Free State, Mr. T.M. Healy, announced that the term “Britannia” was an Irish term invented by the Irish; and Mr. Amery, who at that time was, I think, the Minister for the Dominions, said that he wanted to find another term for the British Empire. He objected to the term “British.”
Mr. Esmonde: I only mention these facts because of the fetishism which is associated with those words; this question of the British Empire has no foundation in fact. In fact, only yesterday we heard that Mr. Amery said it was not a British Empire but an Irish Empire to which we belonged. Another matter connected with this Report is nationality. It is a horrible fact that the people of Northern Ireland are honorary citizens of this State. Article 3 of the Constitution lays it down that everybody who at midnight on 6th December, 1922, was resident within the jurisdiction of the Irish Free State, every such individual became a citizen of the Irish Free State.
Mr. Esmonde: Within a few hours Northern Ireland opted out, but still the stigma remains. I mention that the word “opt” can be spelled in  two ways, with or without the letter “h.” They opted out at any rate. It is quite true that they did opt, but they have this slur and stain upon their character, as they became honorary citizens of our State. It is very clear by their legislation that they are not anxious to make us honorary citizens of their part of the country. Furthermore, with regard to the possibility of our taking legislative steps as a result of this Report to define the nationality of the State, I wish to urge upon the Ministers that they would withdraw that portion of Article 3 of the Constitution which creates confusion with regard to international law, and introduces the principle of matriarchy as far as nationality is concerned. It is a provision which is unique in any constitution of the world. That is a provision under Article 3 of our Constitution which lays down that any person either of whose parents was born in Ireland shall be a citizen of this Free State. That provision was introduced, I understand, by the late Darrell Figgis, and was agreed to by the Committee for the express purpose of making Deputy de Valera an Irishman. That was the purpose of the introduction of that section in the Constitution, and I hope that when steps are being taken by the Government to implement the recommendations of this Report, they will seriously consider the question of removing that complicated and confusing section from the Constitution, and that we shall be brought in line with other countries, and that our nationality will not conflict with the nationality of other States.
Mr. Davin: Listening to the inflammatory speeches which have been delivered in this House by Deputies Tierney and Esmonde, I was being driven to the conclusion, especially on hearing Deputy Esmonde's speech, that it was the new constitution of the new Labour party that was under consideration instead of the motion on the Order Paper. May I assure Deputies Tierney and Esmonde that the Labour Party will continue to prosper so  long as we can count them as critics of ours. We would far prefer that they would keep as far away from us in the future as in the past. There is one thing that I just want to say in connection with this motion. The Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Defence stated yesterday evening that they had framed the report and recommendations so as to get the greatest possible agreement amongst the six States. They stated that it was now for each State of the British Commonwealth of Nations to take those portions of the Report which appeal to it and to frame legislation accordingly, ignoring what did not concern it in the Report. If that was so, the position which the Minister was asking the members of this Party to accept and adopt is one to which we would have no hesitation in agreeing. Instead, however, of doing so, the Minister for External Affairs has asked the House to ratify everything that is contained in the Report as to these recommendations.
Mr. Davin: I have read the resolution. I think it is not unfair for me to suggest that there is a decided difference of opinion between the speech of the Minister for External Affairs and the speech of the Minister for Defence in asking us to pass this resolution. The principal thing that I rise to refer to is the latter portion of the speech made by the Minister for Education yesterday evening. Towards the conclusion of his speech he stated, or insinuated, that the members of the Labour Party were retreating from the Treaty position which they took up in 1922. I want emphatically to repudiate any such allegation so far as it concerns the members of this  Party. I realise that the Minister for Education cannot see the difference between the attitude adopted by the members of this Party concerning important clauses of the Treaty and the attitude adopted by the Cumann na nGaedheal Ministry. We have stated in this House exactly what we stood for in connection with certain clauses of that Treaty. The difference between the Cumann na nGaedheal Ministry, the Minister for Education and the Deputies of Cumann na nGaedheal, all taken together, and the Labour Party, is that we stand for the Irish interpretation of the clauses of the Treaty, whereas they have always accepted the British interpretation.
Mr. Davin: The Minister accepted the British interpretation and adopted the line laid down by them on the Boundary question and on the Ultimate Financial Settlement. These are two of the most glaring proofs of the charge I prefer in answer to the allegation made by the Minister for Education yesterday. The members of the Labour Party, both inside and outside the House, privately and publicly, have made it clear to the Ministry, from time to time, as to where and how they stood in regard both to the Boundary and the Ultimate Financial Settlement, and that is the main charge which the Minister for Education, in his very nicely-worded speech, preferred against the members of this Party. If Deputies Tierney and Esmonde will remember that, they can also remember that on this question, in the future as in the past, we will stand for an Irish interpretation as against a British interpretation of the Treaty and against the interpretation of certain important clauses of it by Winston Churchill and the late Conservative Government.
Mr. Carney: To some of the speeches in this debate I listened most carefully. there are certain points in connection with them that I would like to refer to. In every speech made from the Cumann na nGaedheal benches there seemed to be nothing at the back of the minds of the Deputies who made the speeches but one thing, and that was an anxiety to convince us that we were free, absolutely and entirely. The Minister for Education seemed to be put up as a kind of smoke-screen to camouflage the real issue at stake. Instead of camouflaging the issue the Minister really got lost in his own smoke-screen. He asked us what vestiges of foreign control remain in this country. There are very many vestiges of foreign control remaining. We have not very far to go to find out that not alone do these vestiges remain, but that there is a distinct possibility of those vestiges embroiling us in a war, not, as visualised by Deputy Tierney, some hypothetical quarrel with China, but one in which Britain might be engaged near our own doors. England has certain ports in this country manned by British troops, and by reason of that fact we would become embroiled in a war much nearer Britain's doors than this hypothetical war in China or somewhere else. In Dunree Fort on Lough Swilly and in Leenane Fort there are garrisons of British troops. We have the same thing in Berehaven. In the event of England becoming embroiled in a war, how would it be possible for Ireland, at least for the Free State, to remain outside if there are masked batteries in Leenane or Dunree ready to open fire on an enemy of England? If that enemy were fired upon from the coast of Ireland do you think they would observe the neutrality of the Free State? What would be the attitude of another country if its warships were fired upon in Lough Swilly or from some other portions of the Free State soil?
The Minister for Education talked about our international status and about our powers as a Dominion. I wanted to ask him a question but  evidently he did not want to answer. I want to ask now is there any Dominion in what they call the British Commonwealth of Nations, and what was formerly the British Empire, that has on its soil a garrison of British troops? New Zealand, Canada and Australia have been quoted to us, but these countries have got their own armies and up to a point they have got their own navies; but they have not got garrisons of British troops on their soil and, if they wanted to remain outside a war in which Britain was concerned, the Minister will tell us that they are perfectly free to do so, but how are we going to do it when we have masked batteries on our shores ready at any moment to fire on the warships of any country that may be hostile to England? Without any difficulty, I can visualise war with France or Germany. Does the Minister seriously mean to tell us that if these masked batteries fire on German or French vessels the Frenchmen or the Germans are going to observe the neutrality of the Free State? The Minister must think we are devoid of a sense of humour. They spoke of what they have done to increase the prestige of the Free State and what they have done for the Mercantile Marine. We have not got a Mercantile Marine. Is it possible for Free State shipping, registered in the Free State, to sail into any port without carrying what is called the red duster, or the British Red Ensign?
Mr. Carney: I will give the House an example. Gilbert and Sullivan in the “Pirates of Penzance” never even dreamt of anything so funny. The Muirchu approached a French vessel off the coast of Donegal. In the old days they would have fired a shot across her bows as a signal to heave to. Something more prosaic  is done at present; a string of flags or a megaphone would be used. They told the French vessel to heave to and the French skipper wanted to know what kind of flag they were carrying and whether they were pirates. He refused to heave to. What did the Muirchu do about it? If the Minister can tell me that, except on sufferance, any Free State vessel can go anywhere and hold up any vessel even inside the so-called territorial waters of the Free State without carrying the Red Ensign, I will believe him, but I will not consider that is the position until I am told.
A Deputy had a question here yesterday relative to an arrest made of a fishing vessel. The Minister, I suppose, is still trying to explain why it was the vessel was not detained or fined. He has been trying to explain other such matters to me for the past two years but no definite explanation has been forthcoming. Amongst a lot of funny things, Deputy Tierney said to-day that we were absolutely free and we belonged to the association of free nations that make up the Commonwealth. Strange to say almost in the same breath he said that General Collins made a statement when the Treaty was accepted to the effect that we had got freedom to achieve freedom. If we are free now, what advance has been made from the time General Collins said we had freedom to achieve freedom? If we then had freedom to achieve freedom have we advanced to the stage that we are free? If not, how can Deputy Tierney square those two things? We are either free or we are not free. If we are not free why try to camouflage the whole issue? Why do Ministers try to convince us that we are free and then say we have not a sense of humour?
Only we have a sense of humour we could not sit and listen to it. These were a few points which I noted particularly. It struck me, when the Minister for Education was speaking, that he was, if I may be in order in saying so, speaking absolutely  with his tongue in his cheek. If the Party opposite think that Fianna Fáil Deputies are so very foolish as to be taken in by a smoke-screen like that I am afraid that they have a lot to learn. Of course we have been educated by Deputies on the Front Benches opposite since we came in here, at least they say so. I would point out that there is a little education which Ministers opposite have not yet got, and it is this, that the Fianna Fáil Party are not so very foolish as to believe at this stage, from either the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Education, or Deputy Tierney, that they are absolutely free while, at the same time, they hear the very self-same men say that all we got out of the Treaty was freedom to attain freedom.
Mr. Corry: We have been occupied for about ten hours during the past two days in discussing this new freedom which we have got from this famous Report. The President, yesterday, refused to allow time to discuss a matter of vital importance to this piece of an island, namely, the capture of our flour mills by a foreign combine, and I wonder how he will reconcile his attitude on that matter with the spending of ten hours in discussing this new freedom which we have got.
Mr. Corry: Deputy Carney was wondering how Deputy Tierney could reconcile General Collins's statement about freedom to achieve freedom with Deputy Tierney's statement that we are now free. Deputy Carney, however, forgets the two steps that were taken to achieve freedom since the Treaty was signed, namely, the famous Boundary Agreement and the Ultimate Financial Settlement. These were the two first steps taken to achieve freedom along the road. The Minister for External Affairs spoke about equality. I am prepared to admit that equality when we cease paying tribute, but when we see a nation like this, or rather a piece of an island which claims to be a nation.  paying five and a half millions tribute for equality I do not see where equality comes in.
I would prefer to take the word, for instance, of that authority on Free State banquets — Deputy Esmonde—who looked fairly honest up there awhile ago, before the word of the two Ministers who spoke regarding this Report. Deputy Esmonde declared that this Report was the greatest thing since the Treaty, and he asked us to look at the great things which it had done. The Imperial Parliament, he said, is no longer mentioned but is softened down to the Parliament of the United Kingdom—one big stepping stone surely. The Deputy went on to describe another great change in the matter of nationality, and told us that a Britisher is not an Englishman. He also told us that everyone who was living in the Free State on 5th December, 1922, was a citizen of the Free State. I do not think that the Free State was in existence in December, 1922; at least they had not properly defined the boundaries of the Free State then. The Ministers spoke of equality. I wonder do they really think that all the powers are equal? We have quite a circle of forts in the Twenty-six Counties occupied by British troops. We have forts Camden and Carlisle in Cobh, we have Berehaven, and we have a few more forts in the North. As Deputy Carney said, when these forts open fire on foreign vessels during a war with England, how long will it be before the foreign vessels reply? Was there ever such a comic opera as that, in which the Six Counties are to be at war and the other counties are to remain neutral? We are to have war in a piece of Cork, and also on the other side of the boundary, but the rest of the country is to remain at peace. I have never known anything more futile than this discussion, which has lasted for ten hours. I called this place a circus before, and I just wish to say now that when I went to the Palace in Cork last week I did not see two star turns better than those of Deputy O'Sullivan and  Deputy Esmonde. I saw nothing to equal them.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Corry, in a moment of illumination, which he does not often get, feels a little bit aggrieved as to whether we can be called a nation as long as we pay tribute. First he has to establish that we do pay tribute. Once he has established that, will he go on and make the analogy that Germany, which is paying tribute to a great portion of the world, is not a nation? He also thinks that it would be ridiculous, worse, in fact, than the turns he saw in the Palace in Cork, if the Six Counties were at war and the rest of the country neutral. More ridiculous things have happened. Belgium was at war, but Holland was not, yet they are in size and importance comparable to the areas we have here. The Deputy is anxious about the Boundary Agreement and the Ultimate Financial Settlement, like a lot of other people. There is nothing that I would welcome more than to see Deputies opposite tabling two resolutions on these two items and letting us have their constructive policy on both. I wonder what they would do in regard to them? They have been used as propaganda for a long time throughout the country. Let us have them here where their statements can be challenged.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Carney, who has the remarkable idea that the Minister for Education was able to create a smoke-screen by putting his tongue in his cheek, is concerned with our ships sailing the seas and the flag they fly. I told the Deputy that that was being done. The Deputy can get a record of ships throughout the world, and he will find that there is hardly a port into which ships from the Free State have not sailed at some time within the last three years flying the Irish colours.
Mr. McGilligan: I am stating the facts, and I want the Deputy on this Report to discuss what is relevant, and to say hereafter, whatever may have been the fact up to date, whether there is any prohibition on Irish ships registered here sailing into any port and flying what we have determined is the Irish flag. Is that a fact?
Mr. McGilligan: The facts tell against the Deputy. He must read what has been recorded by impartial observers at every port. There are ships registered here flying the Free State flag and they enter almost every port of importance in the world.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Davin, I am sorry to see, is away. I am not sure what he is going to do about the Report, but whatever he is going to do is for this reason, that the Labour Party in this country have always accepted their own view of the Boundary Settlement and the Ultimate Financial Settlement and not the British view. What the relevance of that is to the Report which we are discussing to-night or how it is going to influence Deputy Davin's judgment or the judgment of any other Deputy in the Labour Party, I do not know. I also regret the absence of Deputy Moore. Deputy Moore stated that he had never listened to so many assertions without documentation, and then he proceeded to pile up assertions without documentation.  When asked for documentation he declared that he never expected the assertions to be dealt with in that way—the most hopeless exhibition of floundering I have yet seen in this House.
Mr. McGilligan: I have got more interruptions since I have started than Deputy Moore got in the course of his whole speech. In the next five minutes I will get more interruption than Deputy Moore got in the course of his whole speech.
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Moore is concerned about a statement of mine that although these nations, these peoples, who met at the Conference were all agreed as to the status which had been achieved, there was not agreement as to the use which should be made of it. Deputy Moore's deduction from that was that that kills the principle. Because you are not going to make the fullest possible use of some rights that you have, you are abrogating your rights. That is a doctrine I do not understand. He said the Report is indistinct, and he suspects that there has been some sort of intrigue going on between the British Government and certain other Governments since the 1926 Conference Report, and that the British Government have got certain other people to withdraw the principles established in 1926. Otherwise, he said, why should there not be a clearer statement in the Report? He was challenged as to where there was an indistinct statement and he gave what he considered to be one. He was asked to indicate an alternative, even to state it roughly, and he failed except that he said this: “Why  should there not have been a general Act of Renunciation by the Parliament of the United Kingdom?” I asked him if the Parliament of the United Kingdom was asked by us to pass a general Act of Renunciation in regard to this country, would not the Deputy query that the implication of that was that up to the Treaty and up to the passing of that Act, the powers of the British Parliament were supreme over this country and that any powers we got were got as a gift from the British Parliament. He said that it did not occur to him to say that, but it occurred to every member of the Fianna Fáil Party who ever spoke on a platform to say that or something like that with regard to similar Acts which the British Parliament has passed.
He referred to one other point in detail. He referred to the portion of the Report contained in paragraph 55, the recommendation that the particular Act should contain a declaration and an enactment in the following terms:—
“Be it therefore declared and enacted that no Act of Parliament hereafter made shall extend or be deemed to extend to a Dominion unless it be expressly declared therein that that Dominion has requested and consented to the enactment thereof.”
He says that that elevates one country to a position of predominance over all the others. I queried him as to the position between the Irish Free State and the Parliament of the United Kingdom, but that was avoided. He said apparently that one Dominion wanted to have that there. Because some Dominion wanted to have it there, if that Dominion requested and consented to the British Parliament passing legislation for it, that put the British Parliament in a position of dominance. Most of his colleagues, when questioned, threw down the word “predominance,” and it was suggested that “superiority” was a better word. I then asked him a personal question: if he was going to do something  for me and if he did it at my request, does that put him in a position of predominance over me? The only answer I got was that the analogy was imperfect.
The Deputy did make a suggestion that what was required was an Act of Renunciation. What has been spoken of throughout the document but an Act of Renunciation by the British Parliament? Put together the various sections of that as they appear scattered throughout the Report and what emerges from it? The most complete Act of Renunciation that any Parliament has passed in regard to any country or countries. I am going to deal in detail with portions of it. That is the result of this Report — the recommendation from those we met from the various Governments. And when they meet again to carry out these recommendations, the British Parliament will move that Act of Renunciation in the most explicit and clear-cut way. On that point let me refer to a point that was queried. Deputy O'Kelly said that possibly I am shouting too soon, that we are not out of the wood yet. The Deputy queried paragraph 57 and he said “If the above recommendations are adopted.” Other people have queried that as to why they should be in the form of recommendations instead of in the form of an Act. We must get back to the condition of affairs which existed before the 1926 Report.
The 1926 Report established principles and said “We recognise that there is on the Statute Book of the British House of Commons certain legislation that is out-of-date and that if it is to be brought into conformity with the modern facts the Statute Book must be disencumbered of these old Acts.” We ourselves had considered what were the points upon which any captious critic might seize in order to base an argument that the Parliament of the United Kingdom had some sort of authority over the Parliament here, that it could pass laws for it, that it could object to certain legislation we had, that it could hold up for a certain period legislation enacted here and  we brought particular things forward under the Terms of Reference of the 1929 Conference. Now, however, the British at the 1926 Conference declared and other members have also declared, that there were certain Statutes that were not in conformity with facts and we were told to take these Statutes and to make recommendations as to how the law and the facts could be got to agree. These are the recommendations. We had to make recommendations because the paragraph following the Terms of Reference in the 1926 Report was this:
“We gave these matters the best consideration possible in the limited time at our disposal but came to the conclusion that the issues involved were so complex that there would be a grave danger in attempting any immediate pronouncement other than a statement of certain principles which, in our opinion, underlie the whole question of the operation of Dominion Legislation. We felt that for the rest it would be necessary to obtain expert guidance as a preliminary to further consideration by His Majesty's Governments in Great Britain and the Dominions.”
The expert guidance being sought for that consideration, we were present when that expert guidance, a combination of the experts of the British Dominions, met. We have the result of their expert guidance here and rather than accept the Imperial Conference of 1926, the further Conference of 1929 or the next Imperial Conference of 1930 as a legislative authority, we preferred to bring down here the recommendations that have been signed by the experts in order to see what is the opinion of the Legislature here upon them, absolutely reversing the tendency which Deputy O'Connell saw and the tendency which Deputy Lemass felt bound to insinuate that we were actively encouraging, of trying to make the Imperial Conference a sort of Imperial Parliament.  So far are we from doing that that we act as we are doing here now. Supposing the conference came to certain conclusions and we proceeded to act on the basis of these and did not consult either the Dáil or Seanad, what a clamour there would be from all parties in the House that we were afraid to stand up to debate on what was dragged out of us, and that we were really attempting then to give some sort of legislative authority to a conference of different peoples from the Dominions! I have said these were the recommendations of experts. They are more than that. These recommendations are signed by two members of the British Government, by a member of the Canadian Government, by a member of the Irish Free State Government. We were told that they had the full approval, by the signature that was affixed to them, of the Government of South Africa. The other two Governments had not the same statement to make because there had been a Governmental crisis in Australia at that date and because New Zealand was not represented in the way she thought was necessary in order to give full and complete assent to the proposals. But that is more than a statement of experts now. It is a series of recommendations which, if turned down, certainly involves the fate of two members of the British Government, two members of the Canadian Government and myself.
We tabled this resolution for a variety of reasons, but mainly for this reason, that we want it to be regarded as an issue of confidence. This is an issue on our foreign relations in so far as they refer to the British Commonwealth of Nations, and in so far as they are bounded by the Terms of Reference and completed by the recommendations of this Report, we want them considered as an issue of confidence, and that is the reason why this is brought forward. Deputy O'Kelly queried parts of this, but Deputy O'Kelly at any rate did say this, that if there is anything in this Report which has  won further power and has made more certain that there is no outside authority having control over the Twenty-six Counties and this Parliament, that is all to the good; “we stand behind anything that has been done in that connection and are glad to see it.” I want Deputies before they vote against this Report to show me where in this Report, which is the only thing they are asked to approve of, there is anything which is contrary to what Deputy O'Kelly said he would like, whether there is anything which does not win further freedom and make more certain that there is no outside authority having control over this country. There has not been a solitary point arising out of the Report made by any speaker that there is a point upon which an outside authority has more control than heretofore, that there is a point in which freedom has been lessened. Deputy O'Kelly, however, changed somewhat later. I think the implication of the two statements made at the opening of Deputy O'Kelly's speech was that he recognised this Report was all to the good, because he went on to say that anything that makes the working of the Commonwealth more smooth, or would tend in the direction of satisfying our people with their present status, “we cannot say we can, with satisfaction, go in that direction.”
This apparently tends to make more smooth the working of the Commonwealth. It might tend to make the people here more satisfied with their status, and on that ground Deputy O'Kelly has to vote against it. That is to say, Deputy O'Kelly is against everything that makes the present situation a little bit better. What he wants is a radical change, and yet Deputy O'Kelly in the end went on: “We will,” he said, “take every opportunity to break down step by step the present connection.” That is, he is against a step-by-step improvement, but his own policy is to break down step by step. When he gets to some of his intermediate steps which are breaking  down he will reconcile apparently some more of the people of the country. He will be making the working of things more smooth then. He should, in his own declaration, be against that, and yet this is his own avowed policy: that “we will endeavour to break down step by step the present connection.”
The Deputy asked me to explain two points in the last sentence but one of paragraph 31. The phrase is: “As regards the Dominions, it gradually came to be realised that the attainment of the purposes of reservation must be sought in other ways than through the use of powers by the Government of the United Kingdom.” A happy phrase for the Deputy to strike at, because it marks change. The old scheme was the unitary system and central control through such things as reservation, disallowance and the Colonial Laws Validity Act. As far as reservation is concerned, the phrase runs: “It gradually came to be realised that the attainment of the purposes of reservation must be sought in other ways than through the use of powers by the Government of the United Kingdom,” and the next sentence explains: “The present constitutional position is set forth in the statement of principles governing the relations of the United Kingdom and the Dominions contained in the Report of the Imperial Conference of 1926; and we have to apply these principles.” What were the principles of free co-operation? The old system of the unitary scheme, central control, reservation, disallowance, and all the rest gone, and the purpose which previously had been achieved—that is to say, of getting together a certain group of communities—has now to be aimed at through the members of the 1926 Conference getting together, I said, not in the old way. The idea of subordination gone, the old control by the central Parliament, the old exercise of the powers of disallowance and reservation and the Colonial Laws Validity Act, all of that swept away, and instead of it the free co-operation of peoples  freely associated. That is the explanation of the sentence about which the Deputy asked me.
The Deputy also queried the paragraph which deals with the Colonial Stock Act. Certain other Deputies have queried that, and comments have been made upon it. Nothing that is said about the Colonial Stock Act in any way derogates from Dominion status. Before I go to that point, Deputy Lemass had to make play, but, fortunately being able to be challenged, could make less play here than in the country, with statements from newspapers. Deputy Lemass sought to give the impression down the country in speeches that Ministers themselves had boasted of certain things. We saw where the boasting came from last night. Boasting as to what? Deputy Lemass stated in a speech down the country that the only important item before this Conference was the Colonial Stock Act. What has the Colonial Stock Act got to do with us? It depends on disallowance. There is no disallowance in our Constitution. As the Constitution stands it is for us to agree to the terms, and we have never accepted these conditions, and yet according to Deputy Lemass that was the only important item before this Conference. Even in so far as it is dealt with, and in so far as it remains, how and in what fashion does it remain? Paragraph 24 deals with it, gives the meaning in the first couple of phrases, and then continues in this form:
where a Dominion Government has complied with this condition and there is any stock (of either existing or future issues of that Government) which is a trustee security in consequence of such  compliance, the right of disallowance in respect of such legislation must remain and can properly be exercised. In this respect alone is there any exception to the position as declared in the preceding paragraph.
What is the exception, therefore? Not an exception to the statement that the constitutional position denies the use of the power of disallowance but simply this: where, as a matter of contract, certain Dominions have complied with certain regulations they are not now going to be allowed to change these regulations adversely to the lender. A matter of contract, not a matter of constitutional status, not a matter of constitutional authority, and, as far as we are concerned, it has no application whatsoever to us. There is no disallowance allowable under our Constitution. We have never complied with the regulations that have been talked of and we do not intend to comply with them. In so far as that item was concerned, even as a matter of contract, there was almost what amounted to unanimity, but even as a matter of contract this power was futile. It is stated here that the condition regarding disallowance makes it difficult, and in one case impossible, for certain Dominions to take advantage of the provisions of the Colonial Stock Act, 1900. It is impossible for us. Other Dominions stated it would be nationally humiliating, and another Dominion that did not then speak has since, through its Prime Minister, pointed out the humiliation which would be involved in agreeing to that. Deputy Lemass had to try and impose upon the rustics in the countryside that the one important point before this Conference was that——
Mr. McGilligan: Deputy Lemass, speaking at Glenamaddy, on the 10th February, said: “In the one matter of importance, the issuing of Free State Stock, as Trustee Security in London, the Free State delegates failed to secure any alteration in the existing conditions.”
Mr. McGilligan: That is what the Deputy tries to put before these folk. Deputy O'Kelly relied on other paragraphs that I intend to deal with in the course of later remarks. The Deputy also asked me with regard to the new Tribunal. I will refer to it later.
On the question of citizenship, Deputy O'Kelly said he was insular enough to be satisfied with our own Irish citizenship. If the majority of people in this country are insular enough, with the Deputy, to be satisfied with their own Irish citizenship they can remain satisfied with it. But in what way does it derogate from that Irish citizenship if, by agreement, legislation is passed here which would entitle an Irish citizen not merely to claim whatever rights are due to him as an Irish national, but also to claim further facilities in every other part of the Commonwealth? Supposing there can be conditions agreed to as to the granting of citizenship of classes of persons. Supposing they are sufficiently limited that South Africa can say to us, “Any time any of your citizens come to us, as far as Consuls of ours, and as far as Ministers of ours in any foreign country are concerned, you have their help.” Is it any derogation of Irish citizenship to say we think this is a good thing to get? It in no way conflicts because nothing can conflict with what we have decided to be the essentials of Irish citizenship and the benefits that we give to Irish citizens. What harm can there be in saying that we are going to look for further benefits by doing certain things? We can only get these  benefits for certain limited classes of people. Where is the conflict? If there is going to be conflict it will be a conflict that will have to be fought out in this House because we establish our nationality laws ourselves. They are not yet established. Legislation has to be enacted here before the rights of citizenship can be given to other people or surrendered. That falls for consideration here, and it will be time to be insular enough to be content with our own Irish citizenship when people see that there is something that derogates from the rights of Irish citizens in whatever laws are proposed.
Deputy O'Connell really raised one important point as to why this Conference Report has been brought before the House. I have answered that in a general way. There are other answers. Paragraph 82 indicates that we have proceeded on the assumption that the necessary legislation and the constitutional conventions to which we have referred will, in due course, receive the approval of the Parliaments of the Dominions concerned. We also felt that we ought to know before we go to the next Imperial Conference how we stand with the representatives of the people, speaking in this House and speaking in the other House. We want to know what points of objection they can raise to this Report, to the Treaty, and to the Report of 1926. We consider it a matter of very serious importance for this country, and we thought fit to make it an issue of confidence—this matter, within the limited bounds of the Terms of Reference, of our relations of an international type to States members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I ask Deputies who do not like this Report to be brought before them at this stage just to consider what the position would be if we refrained from bringing it in. We would go to London and we would negotiate certain things there, and proceed to act on this without having the whole body, not sections of it. One must read the Report as a whole, and people  will not understand the difficulties of negotiation unless they read the Report as a whole. It is right that we should get the opinion of the people as a whole on the Report before approaching to the full implementing of these things in the autumn. It has been said that it could have been done in a halfhearted way. Several Deputies preferred not to make up their minds on the matter. They considered it was a matter that could be raised on the adjournment and so have no vote. There could be a resolution in the House of thanks to the Government for giving them an opportunity of discussing this, but of not coming to a conclusion upon it. That is not the way to treat a matter of serious importance to this State. This I described earlier as the most comprehensive constitutional document that had been produced since the Treaty, and regarding it as such —the Government do regard it as such—we felt it was our duty to seek approval in this House for the recommendations contained in the Report.
Our attention has been drawn to the definition of the word “Colony” in Section 18 of the Interpretation Act, 1889—(a British Act)—and we suggest that the opportunity should be taken of the proposed Act to be passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to amend this definition. We have accordingly prepared the following clause:—
In this Act and in every Act passed after the commencement of this Act the expression “Dominion” means the Dominion of Canada, the Com— monwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, and the Irish Free State or any of them, and the expression “Colony” shall, notwithstanding anything in the Interpretation Act, 1889,  not include a Dominion or any Province or State forming part of a Dominion.
What is the change that is of such vital importance here as to lead anybody to reject a report which he otherwise thought good? What does all that amount to? That a British Act contained a definition of “Colony” and that definition may be taken to include a Dominion. Even although people may not like the use of the term “Dominion” there will be unanimity surely in agreeing that it is better than the use of the word “Colony.” The word “Dominion” has been queried. When it was queried by Deputy O'Connell, Deputy G. O'Sullivan asked him to indicate whether he thought the word “Dominion” meant the King's dominion over a particular country, say Canada, or Canada's dominion over herself, and Deputy O'Connell refused to answer. We get a statement as to the meaning of the word “Dominion” in its application to Canada, made at the time the British North America Act was under consideration. The statement is that it had been
... suggested that the term “Kingdom of Canada” intended to be used, might be unpalatable to the United States, and the term “Dominion of Canada” was substituted to avoid hurting the supposed susceptibilities of our neighbours to the south. The word “Dominion” was adopted from Psalms, 72, 8—“dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” an aspiration and a prophecy.
He (the author) does say that the term “Dominion” was suggested by an expression in one of the Psalms, “Dominion from sea to sea,” and that it meant, not the  Dominion of Britain, but the Dominion of the Canadians themselves. He shows how that idea has been carried on since the year when the North America Act was passed, down to the present time, and how it has been recognised, in several decisions of the Privy Council in which it was raised, that “British Dominion” does not mean—and this goes back for a number of years—any subordination. It means the dominion of the occupants of what had been these British territories over their own territories and within their own territorial limits. It means and implies absolute sovereignty; sovereignty as great as the sovereignty of Great Britain within its own territory. (Official Report, Volume VI, column 3114, 10th April, 1924.)
After Deputy O'Connell had finished with his query as to why this Report was brought before the House at all, that is the term which really sticks as an objection in the Deputy's mind to this whole Report, and upon which he, apparently, is going to found his objection. I do not like the term myself; I would rather have something else. I wonder what would be suggested? Would we say “Republic”?—that the word “Republic” means the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, and so on? Would it be thought to derogate from the sanctity of that immemorial term? Could we use it? Could we get other people to accept it? That is going to be a British Act of Parliament, and all that is going to have relation to this country is that certain Acts that the British Parliament will pass will begin by saying that this does not apply to any Dominion; that we recognise that in any Acts that they pass their legislation has no effect here. We are going to quarrel about the label, and the label has to be got in an interpretation of an Act to cover a certain group of communities.
Deputy O'Connell had a third point, and this is a part to which Deputy O'Kelly referred. We ask  the United Kingdom to remove anomalies, and yet we say that these anomalies have no application to us. Deputy O'Connell expressed himself as one jealous of the national status of this country, and that that might detract in some way from our position. What do we ask? How far do we ask the British Parliament to deal in anything for ourselves in a way that detracts from our status in relation to a matter that we say is anomalous, but in relation to which we also say it has no application to ourselves?
Four matters are under consideration:—Disallowance, reservation, extra-territorial power for laws and the Colonial Laws Validity Act. We ask for nothing with regard to disallowance; we ask for nothing with regard to reservation; we recommend that in relation to extra-territoriality that a clause in the following form should be inserted:—
Does that detract from our status? I assert that the declaratory portion of that is meant for us. Read in relation to the Irish Free State, it is declared that a Parliament of a Dominion has full power to make laws having extra-territorial operation. Does that detract from our status? Our judges, when it comes to a question affecting our citizens, are going to look to the legislation passed here. Other people may have to view this. Do people see any objection to the British Parliament which previously used to control extra-territorial operation of the laws of the Colonies and of the early Dominions, saying and declaring, through its judges and all who interpret the law for it, that henceforward the Parliament of a Dominion has full power to make laws having extra-territorial operation? Where do we derogate from status in asking that that should be done? Where is the limitation of any position we have previously achieved?
Deputy Lemass said why not this  State pass a law with regard to Great Britain, that the laws of Great Britain have full extra-territorial operation? The Deputy must remember history in this. There was an old system of central control— the old unitary empire—and the dependencies and colonies that later became Dominions, and even Dominions in the earlier stage of their growth had not power to pass laws having extra-territorial operation. There was never any question as to the British Parliament having such powers and there is no necessity to clarify the situation for the British Parliament when the situation was never obscure.
Mr. Lemass: This suggested clause in the British Act not only declares but enacts that the Parliament of a Dominion will have that power. It is not stated anywhere in the Report that that enactment is not required in the case of the Irish Free State. If the British Government and the representative from the Dominions were satisfied that the Free State Parliament had already that power why was it not stated in the Report?
Mr. McGilligan: It is not stated because, as I say, we had a different position from the other Dominions. We have made the case on that beforehand; we have a sustainable case on it. We have a dictum obiter made by a judge in our case with regard to that matter of extra-territorial operation. Nevertheless, if I were asked this moment if I would accept the statement by the British in order to make it free from all doubt that the position was such as we have argued it is, I shall look at it and see what is on the other side of it; where does it diminish status or conflict with anything previously stated, and as long as this phrase is declaratory I am not concerned. The Deputy says that we should stand on our argument. I prefer not to; I prefer to have it forever closed.
Mr. Lemass: This Dáil is asked to approve of the Report; not the Minister's  speech; not the arguments that the Minister advanced at the Conference; this Dáil is asked to approve of a recommendation that the Parliament of the United Kingdom should be asked to enact——
Mr. McGilligan: Declare and enact! Certainly I am asking that. If people say to me hereafter that the British Parliament had to enact that before you had the extra territorial operation, there is the advantage that it clarifies the situation from this time on. One has to count the disadvantages on the other side —the doubts that might remain. Doubts can be brought very seriously home by people when foreign Judges get at work and adjudicate in cases. Deputy O'Connell asked why we asked the British Parliament, in relation to things that we said were anomalies but which had no application to ourselves, to pass certain things given in this. Of the four items we ask for nothing on disallowance, nothing with regard to reservation; we ask as far as we are concerned for a declaratory statement, or at the worst, an enactment with regard to extra-territorial laws that we hold we previously had, but against which arguments could be made. With regard to the fourth point—the Colonial Laws Validity Act: We recommend that effect be given to the proposals in the foregoing paragraphs, by means of clauses in the following form:—
That must be taken and read in conjunction with points to which Deputy O'Kelly referred. Some portion of a preceding paragraph says that there is doubt upon this matter, that the interpretation of the Act has given rise to difficulties, in practice, because it is not always possible to be certain whether a particular Act does or does not extend to a Dominion, and, if it does, whether any of the provisions of a particular Dominion law are or are not repugnant to it. Elsewhere  phrases generally have been used to show that there is great uncertainty as to the Colonial Laws Validity Act.
Again, although we have a good case and a very sound case, for the Colonial Laws Validity Act never had application to this country, and never could have been used against it, what is the virtue in saying, where is the good to be gained by that declaration? which will stand as the most absolute and complete act of renunciation, and stand for us if required for us.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy cannot get over the 1926 Report. That Report declared the constitutional practice; it found certain constitutional facts. What value is that Report in a court of law? The 1926 Conference Report, when it stated the constitutional practice, said there are certain old statutes on the English statute book inconsistent with the position which the Dominions have achieved. Get rid of them. We are getting rid of them. Deputy Moore asked for a complete act of renunciation. Here is the completest act of renunciation with regard to the Colonial Laws Validity Act. It ceases to apply to any law made by a Parliament of a Dominion. There is a wiping out and complete annihilation of the old doctrine of repugnancy. I think Deputy O'Connell's argument was better based than Deputy Lemass's. Deputy O'Connell apparently based his on the old national status recognised in the Treaty. Deputy Lemass founded his on a childish misinterpretation of the 1926 Report.
Mr. McGilligan: Certainly. Founding myself on the 1926 Report, I said that. Has the Deputy read that Report? Does he admit that it says there that there are principles established that we have found in fact to be operative with regard to the Dominions? Does he admit, while saying that, the Conference Report also said that there are old obsolete statutes, and that it is time to get rid of them? Are we doing anything more than getting rid of one of the old obsolete statutes?
Mr. McGilligan: My statement is true, and the Conference Report is true as a statement of fact, but it is not a legal document, and anyone can resurrect an old Act and suddenly give it force against a document of that sort. Will the Deputy feel more secure if we leave the Colonial Laws Validity Act alone, and if hereafter the Act is quoted against us, we say: “No, the 1926 Conference Report rules that”? What will a Judge say if the 1926 Report is brought into Court?
Mr. McGilligan: No, in fact it does not, but it is always there, and there is the danger. There is the contingent invalidity that might in any time be worked in upon statutes. It is not being done. It would be quite out of accordance with constitutional practice that it should be used, but it is there. What is the disadvantage of lopping off this old, dead bough?
Mr. McGilligan: Does the Deputy know anything of the constitutional history of recent years? Does he know that that Act was invoked against the Canadian law as late as 1926? Would he prefer to see the Colonial Laws Validity Act remaining? What is the harm of getting rid of it? The Deputy stated yesterday that there was an implication that full freedom only came to us by the gift of the United Kingdom. We say no, that we are bound to what the British themselves have assented to, as far as the statement is concerned, and can have any value in the 1926 Report, and we are simply doing what we set ourselves the task of doing in 1926, getting rid of the accumulations of old-time legislation, that in fact, in constitutional practice and in constitutional theory, could have no application, but might at any time be raised in order to invalidate certain laws.
I do not want to go back upon Treaty debates or considerations. One of the masses of arguments used against the acceptance of the Treaty was that Canadian law and Canadian fact were at variance, and that we might get Canadian law, but we would never get to the Canadian actual position, and that any old statute could be raised as a matter of importance in order to invalidate any legislation which the British wanted to invalidate by raising bogeys by the recital from those statutes of a lot of these old things. What is being done now is that we are getting rid of and laying for ever these old bogeys. Deputy Lemass is afraid that we are giving away  something that we got in 1926 when we are doing the very thing that the 1926 Conference asked us to do in 1929. I want the Colonial Laws Validity Act repealed in that clear-cut fashion, because as far as the Dominions, other than ourselves, are concerned, they certainly require it in order to have their status clear. There is a doubt as to whether we require it or not, and I want to end it once and for all.
Deputy Lemass generally felt that I had got certain concessions from the British by surrendering principles which my predecessors in 1926 had succeeded in establishing. I asked him to give me examples. He said is it in the Report anywhere that any one part of the Empire has any right to legislate in any way for any other part. I referred him to paragraph 57. He quoted paragraph 57 without emphasis on the opening words “If the above recommendations are adopted.” If he means that until these recommendations are adopted there is still doubt and uncertainty, I give him that point. This document bears the signatures of two Ministers of State in England, one Minister of Canada and myself, and it has the full authority of the Government of South Africa. Are our recommendations likely to be adopted? Suppose they are, “acquisition by the Parliaments of the Dominions of full legislative powers will follow as a necessary consequence.” I thought that that answered the Deputy. Full legislative power surely is as good a phrase as can be used to indicate that no country has authority over this country. We get full legislative powers, remember, “if the above recommendations are adopted.” The section dealing with the Colonial Laws Validity Act came after the conference made recommendations with regard to disallowance and so on. “If the above recommendations are adopted the acquisition by the Parliaments of the Dominions of full legislative powers will follow as a necessary consequence.” The Deputy wants a precise statement that one part of the  Empire has no right to legislate for another. Is not that a full implication? Is there any fuller implication than what the Deputy wants in that phrase? Let him look at paragraph 58 if he is not satisfied.
Mr. Lemass: Paragraph 54 states: “It would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that no law hereafter made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall extend to any Dominion otherwise than at the request and with the consent of that Dominion.” Does that imply that there is no right?
Mr. McGilligan: Let us go back to paragraph 58. “By the removal of all such restrictions upon the legislative powers of Parliaments of the Dominions and the consequent effective recognition of the equality of these Parliaments with the Parliament of the United Kingdom.” We have the consequent effective recognition of the equality of the Dominion Parliaments with the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Does Deputy Lemass want any more than that? Let the Deputy remember  that this is a summing up at that point of the Conference recommendations, recommendations concerning disallowance, reservations, extra-territorial operation of laws and the Colonial Laws Validity Act. They say then that there will be an equation of the Parliaments of the Dominions with the Parliament of the United Kingdom. What power is there in the United Kingdom Parliament except what these recommendations postulate, and I am assuming that these recommendations are accepted? What power has the British Parliament over Canada? Once this country passes legislation on the lines of this Report we can get the necessary powers.
Mr. McGilligan: Constitutionally we have not got them but we can get them. We do not want them nor does Canada want us to have them. Previously, before the recommendations about disallowance and reservations were accepted, the United Kingdom Parliament could have prevented legislation by the Dominions. Let us assume for a moment that we were in the position of being the weakest and most subordinate of the Parliaments. Before these recommendations were adopted how could the Parliament of the United Kingdom in any way affect legislation here? By disallowance, by reservations, by, under appropriate circumstances, the operation of that argumentative law under which the Dominions could not give extra-territorial operations to their laws. Finally we have this repugnancy doctrine of the Colonial Laws Validity Act. To that extent, in some one of those ways, the United Kingdom could have modified the laws passed here. Supposing disallowance goes and that reservation is cut out of our Constitution and we pass laws here and say they have extra-territorial operation and that the Colonial Laws Validity Act has been surrendered and the whole doctrine of repugnancy renounced, in what way hereafter can the Parliament  of the United Kingdom affect legislation passed here?
Mr. McGilligan: We cannot give that consent. That is our situation. People are being asked to approve of a Report which brings that situation about. I am not sure what the attitude of the Fianna Fáil Party is to be. Deputy O'Connell has indicated that he is going to vote against it, not because of things in the Report but because it is a bad precedent to ask the House to pass judgment on a Report of this kind. It is the very best precedent that can be given here. There has been clamour here because we come here to ask the House to pass this, but the clamour would be greater if we tried to operate on a Report like this without bringing it before the House, Deputy Lemass expected a declaration that the Government in one part of the Empire has no right to advise the Crown in respect of measures passed in another part of the Empire. I ask the Deputy to look at paragraph 32. The Deputy making his argument on reservations, dragged in the point about disallowance and he said that they were fairly clear cut statements about disallowance. The present constitutional position is that the power of disallowance can no longer be exercised in relation to Dominion legislation but about reservations he was doubtful and he read paragraph 32. Reservation according to the legislation under that head gives the only thing that concerns us. Paragraph 32 states: “It is established first that the powers of discretionary reservation if exercised at all can only be exercised in accordance with the constitutional practice in the Dominion governing the exercise of the powers of the Governor-General.” Has the Deputy any doubts as to the position of the Governor-General? Paragraph 9 of this Report indicates what those powers are. “It was placed on record in the Report that it was an essential consequence of the equality of status ... that the  Governor-General is the representative of the Crown holding in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominions as is held by his Majesty the King in the United Kingdom, and that he is not the representative or agent of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or of any Department of that Government.”
He is not the representative or agent of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or of any Department in that Government. It is established first of all that if discretionary reservation is to be exercised at all it must be exercised in accordance with the constitutional practice that I have quoted. It cannot be exercised by the Governor-General, acting as agent of the Government of the United Kingdom or of any Department of that Government. I do not see why I should go further in talking about it, once that clear statement has been made. The rest follows in grammatical order. It is established that His Majesty's Government will not advise. The Deputy queries that it should not be “will not;” it should be “has no right to.” Is there much good in quibbling about that, when the Report goes on to speak of changing the reservations? Certain Dominions possess the power by amending their constitutions to abolish discretionary power. It is open to those Dominions to take the prescribed steps to that end if they so desire. We will take those steps. And if we take those steps does it matter what the phrase was that led up to that position?
In “Alice in Wonderland” the White Knight went out to battle on a horse caparisoned in a funny way. It had anklets, according to the White Knight, of his own invention, light steel spikes on it in order to prevent the bites of sharks. The White Knight was asked whether he expected there would be many sharks about, and he replied that he did not believe there would be any, but, nevertheless, it would be as well to be prepared. It was about as  useful to put anklets on the White Knight's horse in order to prevent bites from sharks as to be querying this Report in the manner in which the Fianna Fáil Deputies have queried it.
Mr. McGilligan: The Deputy has not given me any impression that he has sufficient grasp to order anything, and there is no reason why I should follow his advice. I am afraid that I will not deal with much of what Deputy MacEntee has said, because I heard only one phrase of his, and I will deal with that in due course. A point was raised by Deputy Lemass about the declaratory enactment required in Part IV. He asked was it our intention that this declaration was necessary in order to ensure that we would have certain power. We do not say it is necessary, but it is better to have it there than not to have it there, and we are going to ask for it. The Deputy said that it should not interest us if the British Government thinks fit to disencumber its Statute Book and repeal certain Acts. It did interest us at one time, and it does interest us still. It interested the whole country when the Treaty was first being spoken of. There was not a statute that was not brought into life for the purpose of terrorising the people here as to what their status was going to be. There were all sorts of statements about the status this country was going to get in comparison with Canada if we accepted the Treaty. It is our business to see that all these things are done away with.
The Deputies opposite have referred a lot to the 1926 Report; we are doing here what the 1926 Report  asked us to do. Deputy Lemass asked about the Colonial Laws Validity Act, and he touched upon the power of the Parliament of the Irish Free State. An answer was given to him by the Minister for Education and by Deputy Tierney. These recommendations are not at all defining or delimiting our power with regard to the self-denying ordnance passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom delimiting its powers. There is a reaction to that in certain of the Dominions, a very useful and necessary reaction. The Deputy held that the reason why this Report is presented in its present form with all its vagueness and indistinctness, is because I and everyone who attended the Conference knew that the 1926 talk was all humbug, and that the British Government had no idea of implementing what was set out in the 1926 Report when it came to actual fact and practical implementation. I ask Deputies opposite to view this Report in relation to its history, to consider the state out of which all the Dominions except ourselves emerged. They emerged from what was the old central governing Empire. The instruments by which central control were established were disallowance, reservation, the denial of extra-territorial operation of laws, and the far-flung net of the Colonial Laws Validity Act. I pointed out that after reading all the old-timers that Deputy MacEntee referred to, such as Professor Berridale Keith——
Mr. McGilligan: Where these out-of-date writers upon Constitutional law and upon matters affecting the Dominions serve a useful purpose is that they bring forward points that might have escaped our attention, points that are anomalous, and  points to which we think attention should be directed, so as to have them removed. In 1926 we fastened on certain matters that we considered derogatory to full status within the Commonwealth of Nations. I refer to disallowance and reservation, the extra-territorial operation of law and the Colonial Laws Validity Act.
Mr. McGilligan: We fastened on all those matters that have given writers some authority to state that there still resides in the Parliament of the United Kingdom some authority over the Parliaments of the Dominions, some authority in particular over this Parliament. We brought all those things forward for consideration and we got a certain principle established in 1926. We were told to get after the details; we did, and this is the result. I do not care what anybody says about certain implications in the 1926 Report, or that there was a misconception and a denial of what was the view of national status prior to 1926. It is absolutely and abundantly clear that as far as disallowance, reservation, the extra-territorial operation of laws and the Colonial Laws Validity Act go, there is no longer any right on the part of the United Kingdom to interfere in any way with the legislation of this House. I ask Deputies to point out to me any details in which that Report was deficient.
We set out to get rid of one thing at this Conference. We set out to get rid of those old statutes upon which people might found arguments that there was still some power in the United Kingdom to interfere with legislation here. We will have got rid of that, root and branch, if these recommendations are adopted. I asked Deputies to give me other examples within the Terms of Reference that we have talked of, to give me any other points upon which any writer might found an argument that the Parliament of the  United Kingdom could interfere here. If there are any such points, I should like to have them revealed. I have not the slightest doubt that they, too, will disappear just as these things I have referred to are going to disappear.
It should be stated here that when we met in Conference in 1929 we did not find people trying to hang on to old remnants of power. The British Parliament is no longer anxious to have any control over the Parliament of this country. The representatives of the British Government were as anxious as we were to get rid of these things. We found that the people who penned a statement in 1926 about autonomous communities meant what they said, and if details can be brought under their observation that are not in consonance with that statement, those details will disappear. We cannot deal in all these futurities that have been mentioned. We do not know what will arise in the future, but there are certain things that we do know of and we have concentrated upon these. We brought forward definite things that we wanted a ruling upon in accordance with the principles set out in 1926. We had limited terms of reference, and within them we got the completest satisfaction that any delegation could get on these points.
I asked to get any challenge on that and I got a statement that the Report was not framed in the particular way that it might have been. It certainly is not framed as it would have been if it were a Conference between Free State delegates singly and those of the United Kingdom because then we would have our special conditions only to refer to. I said in the beginning, and I think it was a thing that required no saying, that we had to remember that we were meeting five other sets of people who had different problems and different ideas as to the use they would make of the freedom that was talked about in 1926. We wanted to get a document that would cover them all. We can hereafter, when  the recommendations were adopted pick out what we want ourselves. We need not do anything about disallowance because that is gone. We need to do something in regard to discretionary reservation because it is in our Constitution and out it comes. We need to do something about merchant shipping because we have legislation to pass and, when it is dealt with, our ships will fly the flag which we want and there is no contingent invalidity hanging over any statute we pass because of old time statutes. When we come to deal with our nationals it will be the same. That is all the Report has to deal with. Within the framework of the Treaty and the 1926 Conference the Report was adopted and certain things were segregated. Deputies are not asked to pronounce on the Treaty or on the 1926 Conference but to pronounce upon that document and how far the forecast which I gave in June was a correct forecast of what was coming, how far the pledge which I gave that we would take asunder the old legal structure of central government in the Empire was verified, and how far it was fulfilled. It is on these points that I ask the House to pronounce judgment.
Mr. MacEntee: It has been renounced definitely. Very well. How does that affect Section 2 of the Constitution Act, which declares that:—“If any provision of the said Constitution or of any amendment thereof, or of any law made thereunder is in any respect repugnant to  any of the provisions of the Scheduled Treaty, it shall, to the extent only of such repugnancy, be absolutely void and inoperative”? Does the principle of repugnancy still apply?
“No law and no provision of any law hereafter made by the Parliament of a Dominion shall be void or inoperative on the grounds that it is repugnant to the law of England or to the provisions of any existing or future Act of Parliament....”
Mr. McGilligan: In so far as it is part of the law of England, and in so far as we do nothing repugnant to the law of England. Repugnant to the Treaty means that we have the old international situation between the two countries.
“Inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as  they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.”
I say that with that paragraph there has been introduced for the first time the principle of group control in what has been called the Commonwealth of Nations of the British Empire. Is that a fact or is it not?
Mr. MacEntee: That this paragraph or the adoption of this recommendation will introduce the principle of group control into this association which has been described as the British Commonwealth of Nations?
Mr. MacEntee: At present I am in a difficulty, but it was known that one of the factors which tended to make the Crown unacceptable to a certain limited section of the people was the fact that the holder of the Crown, the person who sits on the Throne, must always belong to a particular faith. Supposing the majority of the people of this country accepted the monarchy but wished to ensure that the monarch should be a Catholic, it would be impossible for them to make the condition that the King in Ireland should be a Catholic unless they could secure the assent of the Parliament of Great Britain and of the  Parliaments of all the other Dominions.
Mr. MacEntee: It would mean that unless we could secure, other things being granted and the present position obtaining, not only the assent of the Parliament of Great Britain but also of the Parliaments of South Africa, Australia and Canada, that the Protestant Succession must endure in this country.
Mr. Carney: Was the question of the territoriality of the Free State discussed at the Conference, or were the territorial boundaries of the Free State defined? We heard a lot about extra-territoriality.
|Aird, William P.
Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Blythe, Ernest. Collins-O'Driscoll, Mrs. Margt.
Connolly, Michael P.
Cosgrave, William T.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Egan, Barry M.
Esmonde, Osmond Thos. Grattan.
Gorey, Denis J.
Hassett, John J.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
|Bourke, Séamus A.
Byrne, John Joseph.
Cole, John James. McDonogh, Martin.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, James E.
Myles, James Sproule.
Nolan, John Thomas.
O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
O'Hanlon, John F.
O'Mahony Dermot Gun.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
White, Vincent Joseph.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
Cassidy, Archie J.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
Kent, William R.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
Powell, Thomas P.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
Ward, Francis C.
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