Wednesday, 26 March 1930
Dáil Éireann Debate
Go ndeontar suim ná raghaidh thar £39,822 chun slánuithe na suime is gá chun íoctha an Mhuirir a thiocfidh chun bheith iníoctha i rith na bliana dar críoch an 31adh lá de Mhárta, 1931, chun Tuarastail agus Costaisí Oifig an Aire Gnóthaí Coigríche agus Seirbhísí áirithe atá fé riara na hOifige sin.
That a sum not exceeding £39,822 be granted to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1931, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for External Affairs, and of certain services administered by that Office.
Minister for External Affairs (Mr. McGilligan): The Vote for External Affairs which is before the House shows only one item of increase of any magnitude, that is item B1. Anything else that there is, such as the increase of £900 on A1, salaries and wages at headquarters, and of those other increases, are mainly explained by the ordinary increment on salaries. The item B1, however, is due to the fact that the last Estimate that came forward, in so far as it made provision for certain of the new offices that were being established abroad, were based on the prospect of the representatives there taking up their positions very late in the year. Consequently, there was only what amounted to about a quarter of the ordinary Estimate. This year, of course, we make provision for the entire amount. Hence the increase.
There is nothing which calls for any special comment in the detailed heads, and I do not intend to go into any detailed explanation of the work of the Department, because, on three occasions recently—on the question of the Tariff Truce Conference, the question of the Optional Clause, and the matter of the Dominion Conference Report—quite lengthy discussions have taken place, and other discussions will take place when certain other conventions are brought up here from time to time for approval. Certainly conventions under the auspices of the League will be brought forward in that way. There is also pending a discussion on at least two treaties, both of which have been indicated, but one of which has not been in its terms made public to the Dáil, but will be quite soon. Other conventions will from time to time come up and be dealt with if reports are issued. These reports will be issued if conclusions are reached by the conferences to which I refer and if the conclusions seem to be of sufficient importance to warrant their being published. There was, for instance, a conference dealing with the treatment of foreigners which did not come to any definite conclusion. It is doubtful if there is any great value in having any publication about that. A conference is at present dealing with certain matters under the heading of Codification of International Law. There are about three matters under discussion. The Tariff Truce Conference has come to an end, but a definite report has not been received from our delegates on that matter.
 As soon as I get the Order Paper clear of certain International Labour Office conventions which are on it at present, I intend to bring before the House a convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war and another relating to the condition of the wounded and the sick of armies in the field; two which deal with the Permanent Court of International Justice, one dealing with the revision of the statute and the other a Protocol, facilitating the adhesion of the United States of America to that Court. There are then three conventions, one of which has no great relation to this country, but which we intend to bring forward in order to keep in touch with the main objects of the League of Nations, that dealing with the abolition of slavery and the slave trade; a second one which has some relation, dealing with the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous and other gases, and a third relating to economic statistics. The two treaties to which I referred are the treaties between the Irish Free State and Portugal and between the Irish Free State and Germany, both of which will be discussed hereafter.
The Minister has informed us that the main increase in expenditure under this Vote during the coming year will arise in consequence of the new offices established abroad. Whatever our general attitude towards the extension of diplomatic or consular representation abroad may be, I think we can express approval of the decision to appoint a Consul-General at New York and a Consul at Boston, in both of which cities there are large Irish populations who will in all probability find the establishment of these offices helpful to them in their relations with the American authorities. I do not know if I would be in order in suggesting that one of the  functions of the Consul at Boston should be the prevention of news agencies disseminating false statements concerning the activities of the Irish population and Irish organisations there. As Deputies are aware, there was recently published in the Press here a report that the Mayor of Boston—Mayor Curley—had received Deputy de Valera, when he paid a formal visit to him, in a very cool manner and expressed his utter abhorrence of the policy in the advocacy of which Deputy de Valera was engaged. I do not raise this merely for the purpose of making party propaganda. The report was given prominence in the daily Press of this country and was also adverted to in the Press of Great Britain which circulates here. The contradiction of the report by the Mayor of Boston was not published. Mayor Curley sent his personal representative to a monster meeting which Deputy de Valera addressed, according to a cablegram received to-day.
Mr. Lemass: I wish to point out that the Mayor of Boston has definitely repudiated the statement which appeared in the Press here, and expressed his complete agreement with the policy for which Deputy de Valera stands. That statement did not appear in the Press here, although the original misleading statement did.
Mr. Lemass: I do not know. To get on to the main reasons for which it has been decided to ask the Dáil to refer this Vote back for reconsideration, I should like first to refer to the action of the Government in deciding to be represented at the Naval Conference now sitting in London. When this Vote was under consideration in 1929 the Minister  for External Affairs made a long statement concerning the policy of his Department. He said, on that occasion:
“The traditional policy of this country has been that Ireland should take her place amongst the nations. Ireland has taken her place amongst the nations. We speak clearly and audibly in the Assemblies of the world.”
That quotation, I think, gives the keynote to the Minister's entire speech on that occasion. It gives the keynote to the speeches delivered by members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party inside and outside this House since. It gives the keynote, also, to the various leading articles which have appeared in the official organ of Cumann na nGaedheal, when these leading articles are not devoted, as in last week's issue, to inciting the Army to mutiny when a Fianna Fáil Government is elected.
Mr. Lemass: Or any Government they do not like, as Deputy Davin remarks. That particular statement of the Minister, therefore, deserves our close examination. If we find that the place which the Free State has taken amongst the nations of the earth is not the place that we would like, or that the words which it has spoken have not been words of which we would approve, then we can condemn the whole policy for which the Minister and his Department stands. It might, perhaps, be correct to point out that the Minister appears to confuse the Irish nation with the Free State Government. He did not tell us that the Twenty-Six Counties, over which this Dáil exercises jurisdiction, have taken their places amongst the nations of the earth. He referred to Ireland, and Ireland, according to the geography I was taught at school, consists of thirty-two counties. However, ignoring the confusion that exists in the Minister's mind and in the minds of the Executive Council in that matter, we can examine the  accuracy of the statement both in relation to past and to forthcoming events. I want to examine it particularly in relation to the Naval Conference, at which the Free State is represented at present. That Conference is known as the Five-Power Naval Conference. For fear any Cumann na nGaedheal Deputy might be under a misapprehension in that connection, I may say that the Free State is not one of the five Powers. The five Powers are: the United States of America, France, Italy, Japan and Great Britain.
Mr. Lemass: I do not know. It is a Naval Conference. In fact, the Free State is not represented at this Conference. According to a Court Circular, issued from Buckingham Palace on January 20th, his Majesty the King on that date received the delegates attending the Conference. Amongst the names of the delegates representing Great Britain we find the name of Professor T. Smiddy, High Commissioner of the Saorstát in London. I want the Minister to tell us the exact status Professor Smiddy has at the Conference. I know it was originally intended that the Minister should be there himself.
Mr. Lemass: No status at all. I, personally, am prepared to pay no attention whatever to anything his Majesty the King says. I am surprised, however, that the Minister, who has been telling us all about the allegiance to the Crown which has suddenly manifested itself in the Cumann na nGaedheal Party, should  practically repudiate that statement issued on the authority of the Crown.
Mr. Lemass: At this meeting at Buckingham Palace his Majesty the King talked about our navy and its great traditions, and the Free State's voice was heard clearly and audibly in the Assemblies of the world, through Professor Smiddy, thanking his gracious Majesty for his gracious words. An American reporter cabled to his newspaper that the only Oxford accent heard at the Conference was that of the Irish delegate.
Mr. Lemass: I think the Minister should tell us in introducing this  Estimate what is the purpose of having a Free State representative present at that Conference, and what policy is that representative expected to support. It may be considered a joke that this part of this nation should be represented at a Conference of that kind, but the fact reflects a situation which is of very great seriousness to the Irish people. What does it matter to us if there is parity between Great Britain and the United States of America in the matter of naval strength, or between France and Italy? What does it matter to us if capital ships are abolished or submarines humanised? It would concern us if there was any prospect at that Conference of abolishing or reducing navies, but, in fact, the only question is whether the navies of the world are to be increased by agreement or without agreement. We think the Minister should offer to the House some information as to why a hostage from the Irish Free State should appear in the train of the British King in that assembly of world delegates. We have no business there; the attendance of our delegate will inevitably be misunderstood. It will be taken as an admission that the Free State occupies, in relation to Britain, the same status that any subordinate legislature occupies to an Imperial Parliament. The conduct of the Department of External Affairs during the past year has been such as to leave the Minister open to criticism on various grounds, but I think there is no ground upon which he could be so strongly criticised as the activities for which he was responsible in relation to this particular Conference. It may be a matter on which members of the Cumann na nGaedheal, or some of them, would congratulate themselves, that an English paper should publish a diagram showing to a wondering world that the Irish Free State delegate has been awarded the right to sit third place from the King at a dinner in Buckingham Palace, but I doubt if the great majority of the Irish people consider it anything to boast about.
The conduct of the Department of  External Affairs in 1929 has not been such as to give us reason to believe that its conduct in 1930 will be less open to criticism. In the year 1930 the Imperial Conference is due to reassemble to consider the report submitted by the Experts' Committee which we discussed a week ago, and also to decide the future of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Minister should tell us quite clearly and without ambiguity what is the Government attitude towards the right of appeal to the Privy Council. There has been considerable haziness about recent declarations on this matter; there have been indications given that the Government are climbing down from the position they originally took up.
Originally they declared their intention of abolishing this right of appeal altogether. Apparently they will now be satisfied if the exercise of the right is made so difficult that it will not be attempted. The only ground on which the Government delegates to the Conference can stand is that the existtence of that right is inconsistent with the status we have attained to and with the fullest exercise of our legislative powers. Judging by the remarks made by the Minister for Finance, and articles which appeared in the official organ of the Government Party, it is obvious that the case is not now going to be put on grounds of status but upon grounds of expediency. We are being told now that the members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are all Tories in politics, bitterly anti-Irish in their outlook and consequently could not be expected to give an impartial decision in any matter in which Irish national interests might be involved. We are being told that our proximity to Great Britain will make appeals to the Supreme Court of the Privy Council much more frequent than in the case of other Dominions. If the Free State delegates go to the Conference for the purpose of pressing this argument they will get, not the abolition of the right of appeal, but  an amendment of the constitution of the Privy Council. Is that what they want? I have said and I repeat that the only ground upon which the delegates can consistently stand is that existence of that right is incompatible with their status and must be abolished altogether on that account. The fact that members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are anti-Irish, or that our proximity to Britain will make our appeals more frequent than those from Canada or Australia is merely accidental and should not be adverted to at all.
The Minister should also tell us if he has, or is likely to have, any attitude concerning the proposal put forward recently by the Federation of British Industries for the establishment of an Imperial Trade Conference. I do not say that action taken by the Free State delegates for the purpose of encouraging Free State trade with Britain or British trade with the Free State is objectionable.
The idea behind the federation of British industries is that industrial production in the Empire should be rationalised. In other words, that Ireland should become the producer of live stock for the British market, and be content to accept all her manufactured products from Britain. Has the Executive Council yet considered and arrived at any opinion upon that question? It is quite obvious that it will be pressed at the forthcoming Conference. The House, before passing this Estimate, should, in my opinion, have a clear indication of what the attitude of the Free State delegates is likely to be.
In the discussion on the report of the Experts' Committee it was suggested by Deputy O'Connell and by other speakers that there was considerable danger that this Imperial Conference would develop into an Empire Parliament. I do not think that the attitude of the Executive Council to that possibility was made sufficiently clear. Is it the intention of the Government to strengthen the powers of  this Conference and to use it to any greater extent than heretofore for the purpose of securing the fulfilment of its policy? Or does it merely intend that that body should be kept, as far as they are concerned, at any rate, purely for the purpose of consultation? There are other international conferences likely to arise during the year, and there are some actually in progress upon which we would like to have a statement of the policy of the Executive Council. Mention was made during the discussion on the Fisheries Estimate of a Conference at present in progress at the Hague for the codification of international law which is dealing with two questions of considerable importance to this State, namely, the question of territorial waters and the question of nationality. Certain information was given concerning the attitude of the Executive Council on the question of nationality in reply to a question by Deputy O'Connell last week. I want the Minister to tell us what instructions have been given to the Free State delegates to that Conference on the question of territorial waters. Are the Free State delegates there supporting the British attitude that sovereignty extends only for three miles from the coast and opposing any proposal to claim a more extended jurisdiction than that? As the Deputies are aware, other countries claim either full sovereignty or limited sovereignty up to six miles, and in some cases up to twelve miles from the coast. Is the Free State supporting the traditional British attitude at the Conference or is it opposing it? What is its policy? I do not want to be taken as saying that its policy is necessarily wrong, but I do say that the Dáil should know of it. I have had constantly in the past to complain that we have had very little information placed at our disposal concerning the activities of the Minister's Department. The only information we can get is from the columns of the daily Press, and that has, in nearly every case, been proved to be unreliable when utilised in the House.
 The Minister has been engaged for the past five or six years in an endeavour to secure reciprocal arrangements with Great Britain and with the Northern Ireland Government on the question of unemployment insurance. He informed me to-day in reply to a question that the net cost to the Free State unemployment fund of an arrangement with Great Britain by which sums paid in one country would qualify the insured person for benefit in the other country would be £35,000. Deducting from that figure the few thousand pounds which would have to be paid out of the British funds under such an arrangement I am of opinion that the Minister should proceed with his negotiations in future in the case of Great Britain on the same lines as he has expressed his willingness to proceed with them in the case of Northern Ireland, in other words on the basis that each fund should bear its own costs. The fact that migratory labourers living in the west of Ireland have, in order to get employment in Great Britain, to pay unemployment insurance contributions there, in respect of which contributions they cannot draw benefit when unemployed in Ireland, inflicts a great hardship on the people involved.
Prior to 1923 or 1924, for some time at any rate after the establishment of the Free State, these labourers did receive benefit out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund here. That right was destroyed I think in the year 1924. Since then, they have not been able to receive benefit of any kind whatever and the same applies also to Irish seamen working on British ships. Leaving the question of seamen out for a moment and confining ourselves to this question of migratory labourers, I think that the present condition of the unemployment insurance fund would justify the Minister in proceeding with future negotiations on the basis I have indicated. For a number of years up until 1926 or 1927 the unemployment insurance fund showed an annual deficit, but since then it has shown each year a very substantial credit balance. That credit  balance has been utilised to repay to the Central Fund the moneys borrowed during the period of extended benefit. That process of repayment could be slowed up by charging against the fund the cost of giving benefit to Irish migratory labourers in respect of the insurance contributions paid by them while working in England. I believe that there would be no difficulty in securing an arrangement of that kind with England, in view of the fact that England stands to gain by it.
Mr. Lemass: I understood the Minister was proceeding on the basis that an arrangement of that kind would fall heaviest on the Free State. and consequently it was unfair to ask that that arrangement should be decided on.
Mr. Lemass: The Minister has misunderstood my argument. They are unwilling to transfer to the Free State Unemployment Fund contributions received by them from Irish workers in England. I am suggesting that while negotiations are in progress, if for no longer period, the Free State Government should agree to pay benefit out of the Free State funds or without necessarily getting that transfer from the British funds or without necessarily transferring back to the British funds the  moneys received from British workers employed in this country. There would be a loss which would have to be borne by the Free State fund.
Mr. Lemass: I think there should be some consideration given to the point of view of the odd 14,000 labourers whose interests are involved. These people are in many cases the poorest of our population. They go to England for the harvest and the spring seasons for the purpose of earning enough to keep themselves and their families going all the year. The fact that they have unemployment insurance contributions deducted from their scanty earnings, and in respect of which they cannot receive any benefit here, constitutes a great hardship for them. I suggest that the Free State Government should agree to pay out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund to these workers benefits in respect of the contributions paid by them while in England.  As I say, the fund could afford even at the present time to meet that loss. When the Treasury loan has been completely repaid and the interest charges no longer have to be met, the fund will be, under present circumstances, acquiring a large surplus, which can best be used in some such manner as that.
In the case of Northern Ireland, the position is different. The Northern Ireland Unemployment Insurance Act provides that a person must have three years' residence in Northern Ireland or Great Britain before becoming entitled to unemployment insurance benefit. It was pointed out in this House that that qualification was contrary to the international agreement, to which Great Britain was a party. On 28th June last year, the Minister stated here that the matter of reciprocal arrangements with Northern Ireland was the subject of discussion and almost the subject of complaint by representatives of the Free State at Geneva. “As a result.” he said “there is a promise that certain protest will be made to the Northern Government with a view to getting an arrangement for reciprocity” (Col. 2,046, Vol. 30). I would like the Minister to tell us if the discussions almost amounting to complaints made by the Free State delegates at Geneva have produced any result, and if there is any indication that the Northern Government is likely to repeal that section of its Act which is contrary to the international agreement to which I have referred.
Mr. Lemass: The Minister stated here in June last that the matter of reciprocal arrangements was the subject discussion and almost the subject of complaint by representatives of the Free State at Geneva.
Mr. Lemass: I did not say that—I took it that that was agreed. If the Minister thinks it is his duty not to assume such is the case until the contrary is proved, it merely means that in this matter he is taking the same attitude as his Government took in regard to the land annuities. They are always waiting to see the other side of the case before they can decide their own attitude. I would like the Minister to tell us what has happened. Have these discussions produced any results and, if not, what further steps does the Government propose to take in that connection? The existence of that qualification in the Northern Act was intended to be a definite barrier against the migration of Free State workers into Northern Ireland territory. We have tolerated a number of similiar actions by the Northern Government, but I hope that a more vertebrate policy is likely to make itself evident soon in the Executive Council. The Northern Government stated that the failure to arrive at any reciprocal arrangement with the Free State was due to the fact that the benefits paid in the Free State are so much less than the benefits paid in Northern Ireland. No doubt the Minister will point out that the Northern Government's increased benefits are paid in consequence of the fact that the Northern Government is subsidised from Britain.
It has been constantly held out to us that the only method by which unity can be secured is by making conditions here so attractive that every Orangeman will be anxious to come into the Free State. We have not even started to move in that direction yet.
On the opening day of the  session I asked the Minister if any formal steps had been taken by him to open negotiations with the British Government in connection with the Lough Foyle dispute. He replied that the matter was being considered and, because it was being considered, he was not prepared to make any statement at that time. I let that reply go on that occasion because I thought that action was about to follow and I was not anxious to do anything that might make the Minister's position more difficult.
I am not prepared to let it go now. I think the Minister should tell this House whether he has taken any steps whatever to open formal negotiations with the British Government in that direction? No doubt the matter is being considered in his Department. They consider everything once and then forget about it. But if the Minister has been doing his duty by the Dáil and by the people of the country he would have taken up that one issue, at any rate, with the British Government long before this. The whole question got considerable publicity about this time last year, when it first arose, but the amount of publicity was gradually diminished until finally all references to it in the Press have disappeared altogether. I remember speaking at a public meeting some time about last June and foretelling that that was going to happen. I was proved a true prophet for once. I will make another prophecy now. I will say that the Minister will continue to consider this question for another twelve months, if this Dáil is prepared to allow him to do so, without taking any formal action to secure a settlement. I hope, of course, that by the time the next Estimate comes up for consideration the Minister will be in Opposition, and he will then tell us what he would have done had he remained in office.
Mr. Lemass: That is not a prophecy, it is a certainty. I want the  Minister, however, to tell us whether his Government has, in fact, done anything except discuss the issue with Ministers at banquets, receptions or functions of that kind. I want him to tell us if any formal steps have been taken to secure a solution of the difficulty favourable to the Free State, or whether it is intended that any steps shall be taken. On 12th January he stated that an examination of the matters at issue in the Lough Foyle fisheries dispute was still in progress. When will that examination end, if it is ever to end? I hope that the Minister will give us an answer to that before the debate concludes. Some time ago there appeared in the Press references to another dispute which had arisen in connection with Carlingford Lough. It appears that both the British Government and the Free State Government have been claiming income tax from the Carlingford Lough Commissioners, and the Commissioners decided to pay the British claim and to contest that of the Free State. The Free State claimed jurisdiction over the waters of the Lough and contend that the tax is payable to them. Have they allowed the matter to go by default? Are they taking any action or have they hoisted the white flag in that dispute as in all others?
Another question that arose here during the course of last year, and in connection with which negotiations have been in progress for a long time, namely, the matter of control of the Irish Lights Service. How are these negotiations progressing? Will they ever finish? Will the Minister tell us whether the negotiations are in respect of the lighthouses in Saorstát Eireann only or all Ireland? I think that at one time the Government claimed jurisdiction and control over the lights in Northern Ireland. Are they still standing by that claim or are they open to compromise there as elsewhere?
I suppose that we can congratulate the Minister on having successfully negotiated and encompassed the failure of the Tariff Truce  Conference at Geneva. Apparently that was the purpose for which the Free State delegates were sent there and, in so far as the Conference may be said to have failed, they have done their part well. It has been reported, however, that a certain convention has been signed which involves the signatory nations agreeing that they will not alter any existing trade treaty for a period of twelve months or embark on any new protection experiment without due notice and without giving an opportunity for negotiating to other powers who may claim to be interested. Have the Free State delegates signed that convention or not? The Minister told us that he was awaiting a report on the matter. Surely he knows whether his representatives at that Conference have signed that convention or whether they have not signed? Let him tell us what has happened. It certainly is an extraordinary state of affairs in the Minister's Department if he does not know what his delegates at international conferences of this kind are doing.
A report also appeared in the Press some time ago to the effect that an agreement had been arrived at with France by which the Free State Government was going to pay to the French Government the cost of whatever damage was inflicted on French citizens here during the war. Will the Minister tell us what exact cost the Free State is likely to be involved in in consequence of that particular agreement? In the discussion last year we were told that negotiations for the completion of commercial treaties were in progress with Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain, and the United States of America, and that proposals for the opening of negotiations with a view to concluding treaties had been made as between the Irish Free State and Greece and the Irish Free State and Turkey. The Minister has now told us that treaties have been concluded with Germany and Portugal. Will the Minister tell us when it is proposed  to submit these treaties to the Dáil for ratification or will he give any indication as to what their general terms are? If these treaties have been negotiated, presumably they will come sooner or later before the Dáil. They cannot come into operation until the Dáil has signified its acceptance of them. It has been reported that negotiations for the conclusion of a commercial treaty with France have fallen through.
Mr. Lemass: The “Irish Independent” of 16/9/'29: “No treaty. Saorstát Eireann and France fail in negotiations. Paris offers not acceptable.” It goes on to state: “The Saorstát and France have failed to reach agreement for a commercial treaty,” writes the famous Political Correspondent of the “Irish Independent.”
Mr. Lemass: “Negotiations have been in progress for the past two years and difficulties were met at every stage. It was found impossible to reconcile the points at issue as to facilities which should be accorded the products of each country on the most favoured nation basis.” The Minister laughs when I quote the authority for that statement. I think he is most uncharitable. He has benefited personally and his Party have benefited in the past from the support given by that particular journal. I think that he should give the statement of its Correspondent much more consideration than apparently he is prepared to give now. The fact, however, remains that the Political Correspondent was probably going on information supplied  to him through some official or semi-official channel and the Minister did not see fit to contradict it.
Mr. Lemass: Not that I am aware of. I made so many speeches I may have forgotten some of them. The fact remains, however, that the statement was not contradicted by the Minister. I think it is his duty, when statements of that kind are published in the Press, to contradict them if he knows them to be untrue. Will the Minister tell us whether he has failed to negotiate a commercial treaty with France? Will he answer that now?
Mr. Lemass: Very good. The Minister said that France was one of those countries with which we have a trade of fairly considerable dimensions. I notice that we have successfully negotiated a modus vivendi with Turkey. I know that Deputy Esmonde is going to stand up before the debate is over, and remind us that this is the first time in history that an Irish Minister on behalf of an Irish Government has negotiated a modus vivendi with anyone. I desire to save him the  trouble of saying that by saying it now. Have we any trade with Turkey? I asked the Minister a Parliamentary question to that effect, but I did not get any satisfactory reply. I have examined the trade statistics, and I found no indications of any, though I heard a rumour that we did sell a greyhound puppy to Mustapha Kemel last year.
Mr. Lemass: For 1928, the last year for which returns were available. The returns for 1929 are not out yet. In any case what do we sell to Turkey and what do we get from Turkey and why is it this treaty had to be negotiated? What crisis arose that occasioned the necessity for negotiating a modus vivendi? Whatever we may sell to Turkey I am quite satisfied that we buy nothing from her.
Mr. Lemass: A report also appeared in the Press that we had succeeded in negotiating a treaty with Spain and that the late Spanish Cabinet had approved of it. What has been the delay in the completion of that treaty? Why has not the Minister included it in those which have been successfully negotiated since last year? No reference has appeared, as far as I know, in the Press nor has the Minister made any reference now, to the negotiations which were in progress with Belgium, Poland, Italy and the United States of America. What has happened in these cases? Of course, I do not expect the Minister, or the Minister's Department, to complete the negotiation of a treaty inside five years. That would be unreasonable but I do think the Dáil should  be kept informed each year of the progress of these matters.
There is another matter to which I wish to refer before concluding. We are at present spending a fairly substantial sum of money, amounting, in fact, to £10,042, on the office of the High Commissioner in London. The purpose for which this office is maintained is, no doubt, to create an atmosphere favourable to the Free State in England and to promote Free State trade with England. Side by side with the activities of that Department there have been other activities of a different nature, the main effect of which has been to nullify the work of the High Commissioner. Some of the persons engaged in this additional activity are in the pay of the State. I am referring to political correspondents of English newspapers, most of whom are animated by a bitterly anti-Irish spirit and who never lose an opportunity of slandering this country in the British Press. It seems to me to be a waste of money maintaining a High Commissioner in London with elaborate offices and an elaborate staff for the purpose of promoting good feeling there when there is being poured out, week by week, from this country this counter-propaganda, without taking any action to stop it. Whatever may be the true international status of this country there is no doubt that this Dáil could exercise effective power to stop that campaign against this country, if it so desired. Does the Minister not think that that action should be taken and taken speedily? Most Deputies know what I am saying is correct and the matter is not one on which Party divisions need operate. I am sure that both sides of the House and people generally are anxious to suppress that campaign against Ireland in the British Press and are willing to press the Government to take whatever action may seem judicious.
Mr. Lemass: No, I do not say that, nor do I say that it is the business of the Government to promote good will as such until the various matters of difference that exist between the two countries have been rectified, but I do say that there are people engaged in this process of slandering the country with the design of injuring it in its trade and in its relationship with its principal customers. This Dáil can prevent that should it care to do it. No doubt Deputy Esmonde would vote against it, but I think the majority in the Dáil will support such action.
Mr. Lemass: Put Deputy Gorey in and we might get results. I do not think there is any other matter I want to raise now. I trust that in future we will get from the Minister much fuller and much more accurate information concerning the work of his Department than he has deigned to give us in the past.
We have had continuously to come here to criticise the work of his Department on the Estimate, or proposals  or reports submitted by his Department, without the information to enable us to do so properly. We have had to rely upon the guesses of Press correspondents, and that is, I think, a most unsatisfactory position in which to have the members of this Dáil. If the Minister wants to conduct the work of his Department in secret, then let him meet the expenditure of it out of the Secret Service Vote, but let him not come here asking us to vote £38,000 now, out of a total of £59,000, without knowing what we are voting it for.
Mr. Esmonde: I propose to oppose the motion to refer this Estimate back for reconsideration. I deeply regret the circumstances which prevent Deputy O'Kelly from being here to-night. The same applies to Deputy Dr. Ryan and the Minister for Local Government, and I am sure in saying that that I am expressing the unanimous opinion of all parties in the House. The last year of activity of this Department has been, I think, the most serious and the most remarkable in its whole history. The action of the Minister has resulted in, I might say, a continuous and consistent series of triumphs in the international field. I think he has accurately represented the opinion of this country, both at Geneva and elsewhere, in working deliberately and fearlessly for the cause of peace.
There are some aspects of this Estimate to which I would like to draw his attention. In the first place there is the question of the form of the Estimates. I notice that the last Legation mentioned in the list is our Legation to the Holy See. It is the last in point of time, but I think it should be placed first in the list of Legations in the Estimate because, after all, whereas we receive from other powers envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary, we receive from the Holy See delegates with full ambassadorial status. I think it would be only right, for that reason alone, that the expenses of the office of the Irish Legation to the Holy See should be  placed first in future in the Estimates of the Department.
Secondly, there is mentioned here the fact that the office in Belgium has been closed down. It is a very common practice amongst smaller States in Europe to accredit the same Minister to two places. I know many States who accredit their Minister in Paris also as Minister in Madrid. There are many such instances, and in view of the historic associations between this country and Belgium I wonder would it be possible, even by a small expense, to continue Irish representation in Belgium by accrediting the Irish Minister at Paris also to the Court at Brussels? In that connection there is taking place in a month or two a very exceptional exhibition of Irish art in Brussels in connection with the Belgian centenary, and I hope the Minister will appoint a special representative of our Government to represent this State at the opening ceremony. Deputy Lemass referred to British correspondents and to the fact that they were counteracting the propaganda which our High Commissioner and, I may add, our Trade Commissioner, have been endeavouring to pursue to popularise our products and develop our trade with Great Britain. I must say that although everything he said about them was true, the statements of Fianna Fáil, the statements of Deputy de Valera and Deputy Lemass do far more harm, in my opinion, ultimately, if they are reported in the English Press, to damage the trade of the Irish farmer than all the correspondents put together. The abuse of English institutions, the abuse of the English people, the abuse of English culture and civilisation, if it is reported in England, does immense harm to the agricultural trade of this country, and I think that members of Fianna Fáil are mainly responsible for that.
On the last occasion this Vote was up for discussion the Minister mentioned that he intended this year to apply for membership of the Council of the League of Nations. Since he made that statement very important events have taken place, and after  many years of misunderstanding and conflict the great continent of Australia has, at any rate, become intimately associated with our ideas of progress and generally have come into line with what our conception of the Commonwealth should be. I would urge upon the Minister that if it is the desire of the Commonwealth of Australia to apply for membership of the Council of the League we should not oppose them. On the contrary, we should canvass on their behalf. It is quite possible that they do not want to do so, but if they do we should not hesitate to stand down in their favour.
Deputy Lemass referred to the delay in arriving at agreements and treaties with all those various continental and other countries. I think the Minister is wise in delaying the decision in these various matters because as years go on our economic condition becomes more diversified and we become less and less simply a market for British goods. It is quite obvious from the trade returns that our foreign trade is developing. For that reason the Minister is wise in delaying a few years before we make final and serious binding agreements with these various continental countries. The predecessor of the Minister I think was obliged by the Labour Party to close down that very useful branch of his Department, the propaganda section. I think the time has come now when the Minister should consider reviving it, because there is a great deal of help which can be given to us, both politically and otherwise, if our many millions of friends, particularly in Great Britain, America, Australia and the Argentine are kept in touch with modern developments in this country. At present we have millions of friends who have no information about us. Although the Labour Party forced this Department to close down their propaganda section. I think the time has come when it should be revived and a serious attempt made to keep the various Irish societies, institutions and organisations in all parts  of the world in close and up-to-date touch with modern development in our country.
Various remarks have been made about the Naval Conference which is going on. I wonder would the Minister consent—he must have information—to state something about the progress of the Conference which affects us so vitally. It affects us more vitally perhaps than any other State in the Atlantic Ocean, because naval war means probably our immediate extinction, and it looks very much as if local and national jealousy are wrecking this Conference. If the Minister could only say something to-night, if only for our information, and protest against the action of the various delegates who, as far as I can see, are all equally to blame, perhaps he could make it clear that we are not responsible for the failure of the Conference.
Mr. Law: I wish the Minister, in reply, would give us a little more information about the ratification of some of the conventions. He has already indicated that when these conventions which now stand upon the Order Paper and which are all, I think, Labour Office conventions, have been disposed of, it is his intention to bring certain others to our notice, and to ask for the approval of the Dáil for them. I should be glad if he would indicate in rather slightly more detail exactly what he proposes in that matter. I understand from what he said that he does propose to ask approval of the two Protocols of the 14th September, 1929, dealing with the Courts of International Justice, and, if I quote what he said aright, for the Convention of the 14th December, 1928, relating to economic statistics. There are, I think, three other conventions which have been signed on our behalf, but not so far ratified, which I do not think he has mentioned. There is, in the first place, an International Convention for the suppression of obscene publications which was signed as long  ago as 1923. There is the second Opium Conference of the 19th February, 1925. I think the Minister for Education announced that he was the Chairman of the Committee which dealt with that, and that it was the intention of our Government to ask for ratification, but so far no steps have been taken. In addition, there is a considerably large number of conventions which have not been signed or ratified. I should be glad if the Minister in his reply would give us more particulars as to these conventions. Perhaps the most important of them are the Protocols relating to the amendment of the Covenant of the League. It would be useful to the House to know exactly what the position is in relation to these.
The only other point which I thought of asking for information on has already been touched on by Deputy Lemass. That is that rather tangled and difficult matter of the negotiations with Great Britain in relation to unemployment insurance. No doubt, the Minister intends to deal with that in his reply. Therefore, I do not propose to take up any more time.
Mr. Little: In reviewing the activities of the Department of External Affairs one is not anxious to act as a captious critic. One would rather deal with the matter from the point of view of fundamental principle. Very considerable activity is shown by the Department but whether that activity is leading in the right direction or not would depend upon the fundamental point of view. If one was prepared to accept the present status one could approve of the action of the Minister, but if, as we on these benches feel, their whole point of view is wrong then naturally the activities instead of in the main leading in a healthy direction may be leading in an unhealthy direction. The case for Ireland may be misrepresented rather than be properly represented. There is a fundamental difference in the point of view and it is this: whereas the Government regard the difference between Ireland being inside and  outside the British Empire merely as a matter of degree of independence we regard it as a matter of essence. It is an essential difference. And so when we hear that certain formulæ have been agreed upon, formulæ which have been evolved, I understand, by the late Lord Balfour by which we have a right to secede, then the natural and right impulse for Irishmen is to exercise that right as quickly as possible, as otherwise the danger might be that it is merely a formula put there for the purpose of intellectual dope, something which is put there to paralyse the progress of the nation towards achieving complete freedom. So long as we have partition we have something which is not merely absence of unity but also an act of aggression against the sovereignty of the nation.
Mr. Little: In discussing a vote of the Department of External Affairs I think you will agree that there is room for expression of the two fundamentally different points of view. One is the view as to how far you have got. The other is: what is the fundamental nature of partition in reference to the sovereignty of the country.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's suggestion, as I understand it, is that every year when we are taking this particular Vote we should have a discussion on fundamental differences, including the Constitution, status and so on.
Mr. Little: I find it impossible to approach the policy of foreign affairs and discuss our attitude towards other powers without adverting to certain principles for which we stand. Otherwise it becomes a matter of confusion in the Press. It becomes difficult to distinguish between a party which is fundamentally a Republican Party, owing its existence to its stand for the Irish Republic, and the other a party—I do not wish to do it any injustice—which is satisfied to remain in a status altogether different from that independent Republic.
An Ceann Comhairle: I could say simply that the Deputy is out of order, because he is not discussing the administration of the Minister for External Affairs. We had on the motion with regard to the Experts Conference in London a certain amount of the matter that the Deputy is now endeavouring to introduce. He cannot have that particular matter raised every year on the Vote for External Affairs. I think it would be completely impossible. You must discuss every Vote simply on the basis of what the Minister is doing with this money.
Mr. Little: We have appointed certain persons whose duty it is to attend at certain conferences. We have people who go to the League of Nations. I take it there is a possibility of our having a member appointed to the Council of the League. When that person goes to attend the Council of the League, what are his instructions to be? Is he to be sent there in order to forward the sovereignty of Ireland, the extension of that sovereignty over the whole of Ireland, and, if so, what means is he going to adopt to do that? That, I think, brings us down to realities; it brings us down to discussing what are the factors of strength upon which we can rely and what are the factors which are of no use to us. I suggest that the work of the Department of External Affairs is more administrative than anything else. There is very little matter for legislation, except for the approving of a treaty by this House, so that the work of the Department is largely administrative. The essential part of that administration is the policy which dictates it. Behind that policy there is the question of the principles  by which the policy is guided. If a member is going to be appointed to the Council of the League of Nations, we must look about us to see where our strength lies. A writer—I think it was Conrad—once said that it was a most pathetic thing to see someone trying to carry on diplomatic relations when he had no strength in the background. If we are going to use our Department of External Affairs for the purpose of forwarding the interests of Ireland, we must gather the greatest possible strength behind us if we are to fulfil our purpose. There are several ways in which we can pursue that policy of getting complete freedom for Ireland and ending partition. Partition is not a question for anybody in Ireland; it is an international problem to be solved by some means with the Government of Great Britain. They are fundamentally responsible for it. Ministers here, including the President, would have agreed with us some years ago that it is not a question to be settled anywhere except in London. It depends upon the amount of imperial strength which is employed in order to use one part of Ireland as a bridge-head against the rest of Ireland. Therefore, it is an essential question of foreign affairs.
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputy is endeavouring to convince me that the ruling I gave is incorrect, he has completely failed. We cannot discuss partition on this Estimate. We could not even have discussed it on the Report of the Experts' Conference in London, but during that debate a statement was made by Deputy O'Kelly showing the point of view of the Deputy's party. We could not discuss these things on this Estimate.
Mr. Little: I do not want to go into the details of partition, but to point out that there is a way in which his Department could be used for the purpose. I would go so far as to say that when the time comes the brunt of the work of completing the liberation of Ireland will fall upon this Department by negotiations, direct or otherwise, and our  success will depend upon the amount of strength we are able to gather behind us through our international relations. I do not know if, according to the view of the Ceann Comhairle, I am out of order, but, in my opinion, this is the only Estimate on which this matter could possibly arise.
Mr. Little: We are trying to talk about foreign affairs without talking about geography. It reminds me of an occasion when I raised the question of the strategic difficulty of taking an island. The Minister answered me back by referring to Switzerland.
Mr. Little: Sometimes I feel quite uneasy about the Minister, because I have a certain paternal interest in his career. When he first entered public life he came and asked me if he might use my election address for the purpose, and since then I always think I have some responsibility for him.
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