Thursday, 23 July 1931
Seanad Éireann Debate
It would be a pity that a subject of such national and international importance should not be discussed on its merits outside the atmosphere of mere Party politics. If the provisions of this Report are fully implemented, it will serve as a mile-stone on the onward march of this nation, and will secure for us a friendly consideration from the other participating parties. It will bring together the members of the Commonwealth of Nations more intimately, and I hope will eliminate a sinister and baneful influence from our own national affairs. The Minister for External Affairs will in due course explain this motion in its various details. I wish to say a few words, however, on the work in this connection which the Minister has done at Geneva and elsewhere to give his country a high status amongst the nations of Europe. He has given her what might be called a place in the sun. To this object he has devoted his versatile ability, his untiring energy, his infinite capacity for work and taking pains, and his success will be judged later on. Perhaps his efforts have not met with the appreciation to which they are entitled, but history always takes an impartial view, and I think it will accord the Minister a high position in the affairs of the world. I think he will be acclaimed not only as a great Irishman and patriot, but as  amongst the leading statesmen of the world.
The amendment explains itself fairly well in contra-distinction to the motion moved by Senator MacKean. The amendment asks that the Report of the Conference on the operation of Dominion legislation and of Part VI of the Summary of Proceedings of the Imperial Conference, 1930, should be noted. It goes on to commend the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs towards procuring the fulles international recognition of the independence and sovereign status of Saorstát Eireann and recommends the Executive Council to propose to the Oireachtas such legislation as may be necessary and to take such other steps as they may think fit for the accomplishment of these purposes.
 I object to the motion for several reasons. The first is a purely formal one, that there is no such thing as the Report of the Commonwealth Conference, 1930, before us. No such document has been laid on the Table. I would ask the Seanad to bear in mind that even form and verbal accuracy are required for the Journal of the Proceedings of this House, that in future it will be the Journal that will be referred to when anybody requires to know what the decisions of this House have been and not the speeches of Ministers or Senators. When the Senator speaks in his motion of the Report of the Commonwealth Conference, I submit that that is a misnomer, that the document that is presumably referred to is designated a “Summary of Proceedings of the Imperial Conference, 1930.” There is not much in it, but if we are to use the words “Commonwealth Conference” in the proceedings and motions that come before the House the reports that appear on the Table ought also to be designated in the same way. We ought not to use “Imperial Conference” on one occasion and “Commonwealth Conference” on another to represent the same thing.
The Report itself is a very voluminous document. It deals with a considerable number of subjects, and the motion asks the House to approve of the Report. I am presuming that what is meant by the Commonwealth Conference Report is the Summary of Proceedings of the Imperial Conference, 1930. What is it we are asked to approve of? There are 127 pages of this Report and 22 chapters, and the the Report deals with the work of the Conference upon a very large number of subjects, which are wide in their scope. It will be necessary to have, as I submit, a great deal of information and discussion and committee discussion before this House or any other Chamber should be asked to approve of the Report. There are, for instance, problems dealing with nationality, the question of the nationality of married women, the setting up of a Commonwealth Tribunal to arbitrate upon issues that may arise between  various members of the British Commonwealth, and certain recommendations in that respect. There are various recommendations on merchant shipping, there are recommendations regarding arbitration and disarmament, defence, research, standardisation of measures, an Imperial Marketing Board and a number of other subjects of considerable interest, and some of them of importance to this country. Now, to pass a resolution approving of these things en bloc is, I think, a very undesirable suggestion to put before the House.
Just to give one slight instance. One of the committees of the Conference recommended “that the Governments of the different parts of the Commonwealth should, at the first convenient opportunity, introduce such legislation as might be necessary to enable them to make reciprocal arrangements relating to old age pensions, and when the necessary powers had been obtained, to enter into negotiations with any other Government within the Commonwealth possessing similar powers with a view to the formulation of a system of reciprocal arrangements.”
The Conference took note of that recommendation, and referred it to the several Governments for consideration, but it is noted that the Committee made that recommendation, with the exception of the representative of one Government. It would be interesting to know which was that Government, and what were the circumstances in which this recommendation, with the one exception, was made, and whether there is any Government policy upon that particular question. That is one illustration. There are other questions regarding the financing of research which probably will come up for consideration on another motion. There are questions, as I said, about standardisation of weights and measures, and all these things will require examination and discussion before the House should be asked to approve of them.
No doubt the Senator who moved this motion had in mind not the report of the Conference en bloc, but one part of the report of the Conference,  that part being the chapter dealing with inter-Imperial relations which embodies the document known as the “Report of the Conference on the operation of Dominion legislation and the Merchant Shipping legislation of 1929.” Again, to ask the House to approve of that en bloc, without examination and discussion of the various recommendations, is a procedure that strikes me as quite undesirable for any legislative Chamber. But very much more important than that is the objection that I think this House should level against the procedure which asks this legislature to approve of the report which, in effect, is a request to another legislature to pass certain legislation which has some effect upon this country. The approach to this question is of importance. I think one may say that the governing consideration is that we have been encouraged to approach this question on the principle that it is by the enactments of this legislature that laws affecting this country are to be made effective. That is to say, we stand upon the constitutional provision which was made effective in this country by the Constitution Act:—
“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 which are hereby given the force of law,” and Article 2 of the Constitution which declares: “All powers of Government and all authority—legislative, executive and judicial—in Ireland are derived from the people of Ireland.” My main complaint against this procedure is that there is implicit in these recommendations of the 1929 Conference, as there has been implicit in nearly all the documents with which the British Government have had a great deal to do, the idea that legislation affecting this country is an emanation from the British Parliament. Now if we are to assume that the powers of government that are exercised in this country are derived from an Act of the British Parliament, then all this is in order and perfectly satisfactory.
But if we are to assume that the powers of government in this country  are derived from the authority of the people, from the Acts of the Oireachtas and not from a British Act, then I submit that this procedure and the form of these recommendations are not satisfactory from our point of view. I have no objection at all to the Ministers of Great Britain and the Ministers of the British Dominions meeting and examining the position of British law, the effect of that law upon the various parts of the Commonwealth, and agreeing to a procedure which means asking or recommending the British Parliament to pass certain legislation to put British law in harmony with British constitutional practice. I think that that would be a perfectly desirable course to follow. But I object to the proposal that it is this Parliament which has, in effect, to make a recommendation to the British Parliament to do something, the doing of which extends the powers of this State. I quote from page 19 of the Report:—
(c) That with a view to the realisation of this arrangement resolutions passed by both Houses of the Dominion Parliaments should be forwarded to the United Kingdom, if possible by 1st July, 1931, and, in any case, not later than 1st August, 1931, with a view to the enactment by the Parliament of the United Kingdom of legislation on the lines set out in the schedule annexed.
I cannot understand why the Parliaments of the Dominions and the Parliament of the Irish Free State should be required to pass a resolution of this kind with a view to the British Parliament passing an enactment which is to alter British Statute law, but is not to have any effect—I think the Minister has declared this—upon the law  governing the affairs of this State. That is only understandable on the assumption that the powers of government in this country are derived from British legislation, and that the new Act proposed to be passed in Britain is either to have an enlarging effect upon the powers of this legislature or is to be explanatory of what the powers of this legislature are. I should like to ask what would be the effect if this Parliament, or any of the Parliaments of the British Dominions, did not pass this resolution. Would it mean that the British Parliament would not pass the Statute of Westminster, or would not be asked to pass it? Is it not true to say that it is to make British law conform to the practice that these proposals have been recommended? It is for the clarification of British law and not of Irish Free State law that this new Statute of Westminster is to be passed. It is quite proper and reasonable that the Conference should agree upon a course of procedure and suggest to the British Government that they should promote certain legislation in the British Parliament for the purpose of amending their law. But, to my mind, it is detracting from the equal position of this Parliament to pass a resolution requesting or recommending the British Parliament to pass such an enactment with a view to the clarification of their law.
Mr. Johnson: One of the recommendations of the Conference is that, with a view to the realisation of this arrangement and the passing of this Statute, the Dominion Parliaments should pass a certain resolution with a view to the enactment by the British Parliament of legislation set out in the schedule annexed.
There are a number of these recommendations which one might criticise, but I do not propose to do that, because, as I said earlier, they should all have Committee examination before we  should be asked formally to approve of them. I want to direct special attention to one of the recommendations, because it seems to me to confirm my suspicion that the whole of this plan and procedure implies that the powers of legislation of this State are derived from British enactments. We have always held that the position of the Irish Free State is not identical with, and ought not to be considered to be identical with, that of the British Dominions. That is to say—it is no harm to repeat it, it has often been said before—that those Dominions have gradually evolved from the stage of colonisation to their present position of freedom and autonomy, whereas we have not evolved by that process, and the powers of government in this State, as stated in our Constitution, are derived from the people of Ireland, and our Constitution is given the force of law by the Act of the Parliament of this country. One of the recommendations to which I take exception, because of its inference, is as follows:—
No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend to or be deemed to extend to a Dominion as part of the law in force in that Dominion unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested and consented to the enactment thereof.
It has been said that that is a declaration that the British Parliament cannot henceforward pass an Act which will have the force of law in a Dominion without the request of that Dominion. I draw attention to the fact that in the definition which is going to be included in this Statute of Westminster the Irish Free State is henceforward in British Statutes to be deemed to be a Dominion. This new Act is going to contain a clause which assumes the possibility that, if a Dominion requests, the British Parliament may enact a Statute which will have the force of law in that Dominion. The words used are “unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested and consented to the enactment thereof.”
I think that we ought not to approve  of any declaration or any recommendation which, by any stretch of the imagination would imply that the British Parliament, if requested by this Parliament, has the power to enact any statute having the force of law in this State. That more or less summarises or, at least, illustrates my reasons for objecting to the form of this motion, that this Parliament approves of these recommendations which, in effect, means a request to the British Parliament to pass certain enactments.
In the second paragraph of my amendment I ask the House to commend the efforts of the Minister towards procuring the full establishment and international recognition of the independence and sovereign status of Saorstát Eireann. I quite heartily affirm that the Minister's activities during these last few years have been persistent and successful in his endeavour towards establishing the independence and securing the recognition of the sovereign status of Saorstát Eireann. Senators will probably remember, and some will be familiar with, the Report of the Conference of 1926, and certain criticisms which I levelled against it on a ground very similar to that which I am arguing against this. The Report of that Conference did undoubtedly, as was freely acknowledged at the time by myself and others, contain certain declarations of the equality of status of the various States of the British Commonwealth. It also contained, as we may remember, many moderating clauses which, if they had been pressed by the British Government and by other Governments with the same persistence as the governing clause has been pressed by our Minister and others, would undoubtedly have justified all my criticisms of that time.
I am free, and very glad, to acknowledge that a great deal of the 1926 Report has gone by the board already, and that the governing clause of that Report has been given effect to in a manner in which many students of constitutional law of the time thought impossible. We have undoubtedly moved forward since 1926. One can just give a small illustration of that. There were in the 1926 Report certain references  to the manner in which the States of the Commonwealth would keep each other informed when any proposals regarding treaties were being made and any negotiations were being entered upon. There was a clause which said that when “a Government has received information of the intention of any other Government to conduct negotiations it is incumbent upon it to indicate its attitude with reasonable promptitude. So long as the initiating Government receives no adverse comments and so long as its policy involves no active operation on the part of other Governments, it may proceed on the assumption that its policy is generally acceptable.”
The criticism levelled at that and other clauses of the 1926 agreement was to the effect that there was an atmosphere of British Empire policy involved in it, and that clause itself was quoted as an illustration of the approval and general acceptance of a proposal for a treaty by any member of the Commonwealth which did not signify its objection. The phrase in this report is a distinct amendment, because it says that in the absence of comment the negotiating Government should, as was indicated in the report of the 1926 Conference, be entitled to assume that no objection will be raised to its proposed policy. There is no reference there to general assent or acceptance. Small as that may be, it is a distinct indication of a change of mind and the approval by the British representatives of the point of view that I believe to be that of the Irish representatives at the Conference. But it is going to take quite a considerable time, I fancy, even for the British Government, notwithstanding the agreement at the Conference, to attune themselves to the “new position,” which is the phrase so often used in this report. Eighteen months after the 1926 Conference made its report—a certain understanding was presumably arrived at by the people present at that Conference—we had a state of things which allowed the British Minister and the British representative in Egypt to assume that in negotiations for a treaty between Britain and Egypt, the concurrence of the various Dominions and the Irish Free State  was necessary. The assertion was that that concurrence had been sought and that concurrence had been obtained.
When questioned on the matter, we had the Minister explaining to the Dáil that only one communication was sent on behalf of the Executive Council to the British Government respecting this treaty. In that communication he stated: “I (that is, the Minister) stated on behalf of the Executive Council that they have learned with pleasure that His Majesty's Government in Great Britain and Egypt are negotiating with a view to establishing an alliance between the two countries, and that they hope that an agreement acceptable to both sides will be speedily reached.” On the strength of that very reasonable statement on the part of the Minister—a cordial hope that two countries who are negotiating for a treaty should arrive at an agreement acceptable to both sides— we had the Secretary of State for the Dominions in the British House of Commons stating not only that the Dominion Governments were kept informed at every stage in the negotiations with Egypt, but that “as soon as the text of the treaty had been agreed with Sarwat Pasha, its terms were communicated to the Dominion Governments by telegraph and their concurrence was sought in the proposal to present it to the Egyptian Government, and the replies in this telegram made it clear that the policy of His Majesty's Government in Great Britain was satisfactory to all the Dominion Governments.” (Official Report, Vol. 23, col. 323.)
Prior to that, of course, the British High Commissioner in Egypt had spoken of the necessity “for the concurrence of His Majesty's Government in the Dominions and India,” and the “required concurrence has been obtained,” and so on. I quote that as an illustration of the necessity for very considerable watchfulness and care as to the form in which these documents are presented and as to the unwisdom of this House putting its name to a recommendation in the name of the Parliament which can, by any conceivable stretch, be deemed to be a request  to the British Parliament to pass certain legislation for the aid of this country. I do not think anyone who has followed these subjects will deny that it has been—I was going to say a very slow process, but perhaps not very slow considering how long a time it takes for negotiations of this kind to proceed—a slow process for British Ministers and particularly the people concerned in the internal working of diplomatic negotiations to attune themselves to the position that this State occupies. An illustration came to us recently in the Appendix to the Veterinary Surgeons Bill, where the agreement more or less assumes that the Constitution of this State is merely an Act of the British Parliament, and to be treated as such. I am personally aware of the fact that as late as 1925 British Ministers were assured by their legal advisers that no matter how far or in what direction the Canadian position might develop, the Free State position was fixed according to the situation that prevailed at the time of the signing of the Treaty. That was, I say, the clearly understood position of the British Ministers as late as 1925, and it has been a comparatively slow process to disabuse the minds of those Ministers and officials as to what this State stands for and where we claim to have a right. A document that we have been asked to approve contains two other paragraphs which embody recommendations which I would like to touch upon. One is on page 40, dealing with defence:
“The existing arrangements for consultation and co-operation (including questions of general defence such as the supply of war material and the co-ordination of defensive arrangements, as well as the staff arrangements of the respective services) which have grown up as the result of past Imperial Conferences were reviewed, and, where necessary, recommendations were submitted for their improvement in matters of detail.”
Mr. Johnson: The opening sentence is: “As a result of discussion between representatives of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand, it was recommended”—by whom—presumably the Committee on Defence, the Committee on Imperial relations and economic questions.
Mr. Johnson: I take the Minister's explanation that it was recommended by those concerned “that the present policy of the ultimate establishment of a defended naval base at Singapore should be maintained.” That might be of the utmost importance to those particular countries, but we are asked to approve of that report. Why should we be? What is our concern with it? I think we ought to have a little more information regarding the discussions and the form which those discussions took, and the conclusions, if any, that were arrived at regarding “questions of general defence.”
I think that it is very good that the Ministers in this Conference should have arrived at a certain conclusion in that respect, and I am wondering whether the time is not now opportune for the publication of this instrument, the instrument of appointment of the present Governor-General and his predecessor. We find, for instance, that one can read books in the library  which contain the letters patent and the commission of appointment and the instructions to the Governor-General of Canada. They are fairly commonly quoted. The terms of the appointment in 1926 of the Governor-General of Canada—there has been an appointment since then—are printed and published and can be read by anyone, and I think it is time that the terms of the appointment, the letters patent, and the instructions that were given to the Governor-General of the Irish Free State should also be made public.
An interesting query arises from reading the terms of the Canadian appointment, inasmuch as it is provided that in the exercise of his prerogative of mercy he “shall not in any case, except where the offence has been of a political nature, make it a condition of any pardon or remission of sentence that the offender shall be banished from or shall absent himself from our said Dominion.” I do not know whether by chance the letters patent and the instructions of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State were based upon the Canadian precedent, and whether it is within the power of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State to banish a person from this State in respect to a remission of sentence, but there are questions of that kind that certainly members of the Oireachtas should be in a position to inform themselves upon. I think it is not unreasonable to ask that now in 1931 some opportunity should be given for the publication of these documents.
The last clause of this amendment recommends “the Executive Council to propose to the Oireachtas such legislation as may be necessary, and to take such other steps as they may think fit for the accomplishment of these purposes,” these purposes being the full establishment and international recognition of the independence and sovereign status of Saorstát Eireann. Undoubtedly, there are some steps to be taken and some enactments to be made by the Oireachtas to fulfil the work of these conferences and to fulfil the policy arising out of the Constitution. One, of course, which the Minister has dealt with quite frequently  is in reference to appeals to the Privy Council. One other that I think is of great importance, in view of certain other portions of this Report, is the amendment of that clause of the Treaty which gives power to Britain in time of strained relations to land troops and obtain what facilities she wishes on the territory of the Irish Free State. There is a proposed section of this new Act which deals with questions of discipline of soldiers on the territory of another member of the Commonwealth by consent. I am afraid while that clause remains in the Treaty it will be found it can be maintained that consent has been obtained. The second paragraph of this section dealing with defence on page 26 reads:
“It is assumed that all Governments will desire to take such action as may be necessary to secure (1) that the military discipline of any of the armed forces of the Commonwealth when present, by consent, within territory of another, rests upon a statutory basis.
The words “by consent” there no doubt were intended to ensure that only by consent could the forces of one State be landed upon another State. I think it cannot be denied that the provision of the Treaty which allows British troops to be landed on Free State territory, at any time that Britain may think it necessary—when they may say strained relations with other Powers exist—is sufficient authority and that they have already got consent. I think it is time that we sought the abrogation of this clause of the Treaty. In doing that I think we would go a very considerable distance towards the aim of having the full establishment of the independence and sovereign status of Saorstát Eireann. I doubt very much whether we can say that the State is really independent while that clause remains. I imply the hope in this amendment that the Executive Council will move in that direction, that they will continue the work which I agree has gone a considerable distance towards the accomplishment of this aim.
I was very glad to note that the mover of the motion used the phrase, “The march of this nation towards freedom,” not making the affirmation that the work was completed, but that there is still some distance to go. That is the implication in my amendment. I do not know whether it is wise or necessary, but in view of some statements that were made in the Dáil, and possibly may be made here, and inasmuch as there will be no other chance to reply, it might be well to state my own position, and I think rightly the position of this Party since the beginning in regard to this and similar questions. We held in 1921-22 that the conduct of the revolutionary struggle which resulted in the establishment of the Free State had been left in the hands of the Sinn Féin Party. The leaders of that Party had reached a certain point in the pursuance of that struggle. We believed that they had done all that was possible to be done, and, having achieved a certain position, our view was that we had to make the most of it, to use the powers that were obtained then to improve and generally defend the social and economic position of this people, to use all the powers to the full, and that if and when it ever became necessary to move further forward, to make a further change of a political nature, the time and means were to be decided by the circumstances of the moment.
We believed, and we still believe, that it is of the first importance that a country that has won certain political powers should use those powers to the fullest extent. Inasmuch as political powers are only a means by which social, national and economic growth can take place, we believe that the need for political change arises only when it is proved that there are any obstacles in the way of development. The fullest and the widest possible interpretation of the powers that we have won for ourselves should be used to the utmost. That is the position that we hold to-day.
The question of a monarchy or hereditary power gives us little concern so long as the hereditary monarch has nothing to say to the affairs of this State. We do not see any  real difference between an hereditary monarch and a president so long as that hereditary monarch does not interfere with the affairs of the State, and particularly so long as he does not land on the shores of the State. We think it would be a very dangerous thing for the growth and development of democratic ideas within this State if the monarch were to attempt, or were to be encouraged, to show by his bodily presence that he has an actual and an active concern in the affairs of the State. We think it would be dangerous for the State and would be disagreeable for him.
We are inevitably against the very notion of hereditary rule; but our real objection lies, not in the fact that he is a political official, that he is a political figure, but rather that he is symbolic of a power which is not of the people. He represents a power, a class domination, and it is because he is symbolic as being the head of a ruling class, and because that symbolism is handed down from father to son, and from son to grandson, that we object in toto to the very idea of an hereditary monarchy. So long as only the name appears and there is no reality behind it, we are not going to be very much concerned.
With these exceptions we believe, in regard to the relations between Great Britain and Ireland, that this part of the country which comes within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of this State, is as free from British influence as it would be with the most radical republic that could be established. We, too, recognise, and perhaps it is important to emphasise, that no matter what political conditions may prevail, the Governor of the Bank of England, the Board of the Prudential Assurance Company, or the financiers who are able to manipulate the share and stock markets and the prices of wheat, petrol and other such things, are very much more influential in relation to the lives, the properties, and the freedom of the people of this country than either the Government or the monarchy of Great Britain.
Mr. Johnson: The Chairman of the N.U.R. has not “that” much influence upon the affairs of this State. The Chairman of the N.U.R., in his activities in regard to the railwaymen of this country, is entirely subject to the will of the people of this country. As I said once before, and perhaps the Minister may remember it, the ideal I have, and perhaps that this Party has, in regard to the political relationship between the Government of this country and the Government of Great Britain, is the relationship between the Trades Union Congress of this country and the Trades Union Congress of Great Britain—free, friendly, but entirely separate and entirely distinct. It is for these reasons that I move the amendment, the fundamental one being that one of the Houses of Parliament of this State should not take part in a request to the Parliament of another State to pass legislation intended by deliberation or by implication to affect freedom of action and, generally, the Government of this State. It is for these reasons I ask that we should take note of the Report, commend the Minister for his activities, and ask him to bring to this Parliament such legislation as is necessary.
Dr. Gogarty: We have heard a very interesting speech from Senator Johnson. The amendment, however, does not suggest anything more than a hope that the Executive Council will do its duty. I do not think there is sufficient cause for distrust of the Executive Council. Hitherto I think we have not had sufficient reason for distrust. Possibly this amendment has served to ventilate a particular point of view that Senator Johnson may have entertained, but I do not think it can justly be claimed that the Executive Council have been found wanting. I think we may trust them not to invite the monarch to invade our shores. I think it very important to have a definite decision with regard to the word “consent.” If there is any question of landing troops in this country, our consent is taken willy-nilly, whether or not we are prepared to grant it. There are people who say  that that is in the Treaty, and I think it would be well if we could get the position clearly defined. Of course, the troops would not come as tourists. The point is that they could be landed here, and I think we should have a definite decision about our own position.
We have heard a lot about interfering with the development of this country. We have heard it mentioned that the removal of British Jacks-in-office might constitute an international question. All that sort of talk may be very interesting, but it leads us nowhere. I am not greatly concerned about such phrases as our sovereign status. In the context in which the word “consent” appears, we get the paradox that the State has to imagine itself sovereign whether or not it can keep up a navy or an army. I can well imagine this country heavily garrisoned if there was a war, and I can also imagine a war not too far off.
The question of getting rid of the Privy Council seems to me to be not quite so important as the matter which Senator Johnson has stressed; that is, the clearing up of the meaning of the word “consent.” It is very important to determine whether consent will be taken for granted without consulting us. The Privy Council may, of course, humbug the Indians with retired judges. It is good enough for every colony, but it is not good enough for India; they have not a Privy Council for themselves, but we have to have one. That, however, is a matter we can deal with without an Imperial conference. The important question has relation to the landing of troops and the securing of a clear definition in regard to the word “consent.” We would like to know whether consent is to be taken for granted or whether it is embodied in the Treaty. How many troops the word “consent” covers ought to be made quite clear.
I agree with Senator Johnson up to the point where he speaks about the King interfering as an hereditary monarch or as a political figurehead. The Senator's main objection is in relation to class domination. If Senator Johnson were wise, the further  he would keep working men away from legislation the better. The Senator should remember what has happened in Russia. The Russian people are nearly all workers now. The main idea of the working man is to get work. If he gets into power he is accused of creating slave camps. If the working men in Russia were wise they would have got Cochran or some of those famous entertainers to rule instead of themselves. I heard it said when they were complaining about the house of Romanoff that the Czar was knouting his subjects. “That is all very well,” said someone else, “but if he did not knout them they would do it themselves.” The man who should be kept as far away as possible from government is the working man. He should avoid it like the plague. If ever working men secured power they would be well advised to call in people who are specialists.
Dr. Gogarty: I do not quite see the connection, except, perhaps, the electrocution side of that Board. I understand the country has so far only been fined and not electrocuted. I am in favour of the amendment proposed by Senator Johnson up to the point where it bears the complexion of being a vote of want of confidence in the Executive Council. I think the Executive Council are not so blind, when they strain at a question like the Privy Council, as that they would avoid the definition of the word “consent.” That word should certainly be defined.
Mr. O'Doherty: Before entering this House I used to be considerably amused by debates on questions affecting the political status of Ireland and its relationship to independent States inside and outside the British Commonwealth. I must say that a more ludicrous speech was never uttered in connection with that status than the speech just delivered by Senator Johnson. The Senator began by decrying the fact that those who attended the Conference in London were not of one mind as to whether that Conference was an Imperial Conference or whether it  was a Conference of Free Nations. They even in the publication of their Report digressed in the designation of what the Conference was. Then the Senator asserts in the course of his remarks that Ireland—in the latter part of his speech he corrected that to part of Ireland—is free and independent, and he asks us to support his amendment throwing bouquets at the Executive Council, and especially at the Minister for External Affairs, for the part they or he have played in the establishment of that freedom and that independence. I say that speech of Senator Johnson's is ludicrous, because the whole speech is based on his acceptance of fundamentals so different from mine that it is laughable to hear them put forth in this Assembly. It is not for me to define what constitutes a free nation, but surely the basic fundamental of freedom is the right of a people to formulate its own Constitution, the Constitution under which a section of the Irish nation is living, and forced to live, by virtue of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty established in 1921, and implemented by a British Act of Parliament.
Mr. O'Doherty: Document No. 2 can be discussed if you wish to discuss it. I say a people who depend for its freedom and its implementations of freedom on Articles of Agreement for a Treaty by an Act of a foreign Parliament in the first instance, and whose Constitution is dictated by the Executive authority of that Parliament is not and cannot be free. If there is any other definition of freedom than that I would like to hear it.
We are living in a small country, territorially one of the smallest in Europe. We are a small nation, but from the point of view of history we are one of the oldest in Europe. From the point of view of our claims to exercise that God-given power that rests with a people to formulate its own government, we stand up and make a claim that we have that right, and we shall continue to assert that right until that right is established in the four  corners of Ireland. I say that any Irishman who maintains that the Constitution under which we live at the present moment gives us freedom, is not merely insulting all dead patriots of our country, but he is endeavouring to tie up all future generations of our people. Each and every one of us in whose veins runs Irish blood should resent such a statement. It would be all very well to discuss the status of the so-called Free State in an academic atmosphere, but in an Assembly such as this to proclaim that we are free is something that all Irishmen should resent.
The Report that is under review invites this Assembly, which is alleged to be a Sovereign Parliament, to ask the British Parliament to make laws operative in its territory. And yet the Minister for External Affairs is asserting that this Twenty-Six Counties known as Saorstát Eireann is on an equality basis with the British Government and with the Governments of the other constituent members of the Commonwealth of Nations, or of the British Empire, whichever you like to call it. Why should one constituent self-governing unit of the Empire with co-equal status with the other members of the Empire ask a sister partner to pass a law binding the people of its territory? The position is absurd. The mere fact of the Report being placed before us presupposes that the British Parliament sitting in London is the supreme authority inside the British Empire. When it is recommended that we should accept this Report and that we should throw bouquets at the Minister for External Affairs for the part he took in the deliberations which brought about the Report, I say that you are asking something that we should refuse to accept.
It seems to me, speaking not as a very deep student of constitutional government and with no very great knowledge of the history of constitutional development, that it is written in pretty large letters that the tendency in the British Empire at the moment—and I give credit for sincerity to the representatives from the various constituent parts of that Empire—is to establish within the  Empire, free States, independent States, acting in matters that concern themselves with absolute freedom and in matters of common concern in a common way. But I feel that that development will eventuate in a retrograde step for Ireland, because it seems to me they are aiming at a gradual conception or development of an Imperial Constitution, or a Constitution governing the Commonwealth of British nations. It seems to me that that Constitution will be of a rigid character, a written character, an unchangeable character, except that it may be changeable in such a way or under such a system or by such methods as will be very difficult to put into force. If that rigid constitution of which I visualise the development materialises, you will have under it matters of common concern guaranteed. You will have matters of defence to which you will have to contribute. You will have, in my opinion, an Imperial judiciary to whose decision you will have to bow, and so on in matters of common concern. You will be tried by a majority vote of the delegates representing the British Imperial interests, whether they come from the ends of the Empire or from London. In my opinion, the farther we keep away from that development the better for Ireland. In other words, I might put my views in the form of a question in this way:
Let us ask ourselves whether we stand for the present constitutional position as being free, untrammelled and sovereign? If we deny that it is free, then are we to accept for the moment the views put forward by the protagonists of the Treaty in 1921, that it was a stepping-stone to freedom, a viewpoint which to-day was repudiated by the leader of the Labour Party, and get somewhere else? For the sake of argument, I will grant members of the House sincerity and honesty of purpose in the matter. I do not think there is any harm in granting that. Unfortunately some members do not even grant that to those who are opposed to them, either in this or other matters. If you desire to march forward, will that march forward be rendered more difficult or made more  easy by the consolidation of the present British Commonwealth of Nations? In my opinion you are tying yourselves to the present Constitution and its limited development. Because of the dictate nature of the Constitution you are tying yourselves, as I see it, to a rigid constitution of the Imperial Commonwealth.
Senator Johnson referred to the monarchy. So long as the monarchy remains a mere cypher Senator Johnson has no objection. So long as the British monarch remains a shadow, or appears to be something in the nature of a shadow, Senator Johnson has no objection. But why shadows or why cyphers at all? Why send men to their death because of cyphers? We do not want the British monarch either as a shadow or as a reality in the Constitution of a free Ireland, and we ask the House to take the same point of view. Every time that we discuss inter-imperial relations or international relations we will continue to assert as men that we want Ireland free from Donegal to Cork—not cutting off the Six Counties, but including them. I feel that I would be failing in my duty to the House if I did not call attention to what I consider the rather undignified language of Senator Gogarty in criticising adversely and making cheap jibes and jokes about the constitution and government of another country which is not under discussion. I feel that if the Senator wanted to be in a humorous mood he could have got plenty of opportunities for levity if he kept before his mind the Constitution of the Free State, which is alleged to be free on the one hand and not free on the other. If the Senator were to do that he would find plenty of opportunity for levity.
Colonel Moore: With a great deal of what Senator Johnson said I agree, especially with what he said in the earlier part of his speech. The Senator pointed out that the House is asked to pass a motion accepting all the statements contained in the report before us, a report of 132 pages of printed matter. According to the motion itself we are asked to do nothing of the sort. The Report of  the Imperial Conference states that the British Parliament will pass what is called the Statute of Westminster. The statement relating to that points out that the articles which will be included in it are those referred to in the attached schedule. The attached schedule consists of two and a half pages. That is all that we have been asked to pass by the Imperial Conference, whereas the Minister, for some reason that I do not understand, is asking us to pass holus-bolus all that is in the Report before us, containing a number of statements that have no concern whatever with us. Anyone who reads what is referred to on page 19 will see that we are not even asked to do that. Some of the things that have been appropriately quoted by Senator Johnson we are asked to agree with. One refers to the Antarctic, which apparently is going to be annexed by the Empire. There are explorations to be made there. I confess I do not know what Ireland has to do with all that.
Colonel Moore: Except that the Minister wants to establish a fowl yard for penguins, I do not know what he wants to go to the Antarctic for, or why he should have anything to do with it. Perhaps he would like to have some penguins. Then Singapore and India are referred to. We have also in the report the speeches made by Parliamentarians from the Dominions about various things, some of which state one thing and some another. We are supposed to agree with all that. We have also in the report pages of statistics dealing with imports and exports at the other side. We are asked to approve of all that, too. Never, in the whole of my life, have I heard anything more ridiculous than that this House should be asked to agree to a proposal such as we have before us. I do not disapprove so much of the first paragraph in Senator Johnson's amendment, but I totally disapprove of the other paragraphs in it. The Senator made a statement as to the position of the Labour Party.  I cannot say that it was quite accurate as regards the past, but I am not now going into that question. There are a great many members here who take up quite a different position to that of Senator Johnson. As far as those members and the members of my own Party are concerned, they look on this matter that Ireland is a Dominion from a different point of view. The idea that such a motion as the one before us is desirable is absolutely contrary to our ideas, to the ideas of everybody who has ever been in a national party in Ireland over the last hundred years or more.
Colonel Moore: They will not repudiate me on this. Our position is that we believe that Ireland is an independent country. It was always an independent country. It has only ceased now and then to be independent because of the encroachments of a foreign power. Those encroachments have had to be thrown off by degrees, one after another. Any that happen to remain will within a short time also be thrown off. The Minister and our Party have an entirely different outlook on that. Ministers spend their time going to the other side asking Ministers there to pass resolutions and to make certain  arrangements for us here which, as Senator Johnson has said, have absolutely nothing whatever to do with us. We are, as I have said, an independent nation. The whole history of our country points that out.
If the British King claims any rights in this country, or if he ever had any rights—which we say he had not—the British have lost all claim through their behaviour here, behaviour that was barbarous, that was inhuman, and an outrage on Christianity during the last 700 years. It seems to be forgotten by a great many people who speak now that Ireland is not a Dominion. The Treaty stated that Ireland had the status of a Dominion, but it does not state that we are a Dominion. As far as the statement of this Conference is concerned, I regard it as being in the nature of a renunciation act. In the time of Grattan's Parliament a resolution was passed and a demand was made that the British Parliament would pass an Act renouncing all claims to any control over this country. They passed that Act because they were satisfied they could not do anything then, and afterwards revoked it, although they pledged themselves never again to interfere. They broke their promise, as they have always done, and established the Union. That is how I regard this matter, and I do not think it is necessary for us to pass either Senator Johnson's amendment or the Minister's motion. The only thing I see about this motion is that it makes it somewhat easier for us to assert our position than to come into forcible opposition with the British.
Colonel Moore: It might be, but we would do it in any case. It only saves us the trouble of coming into collision with the British. We are not going to ask them to do that. They make an act of renunciation in which they declare that they will not do any of these things in future, just the same as when they had to pass the Treaty because we demanded it. Now they ask us to pass this motion on account of the Ministers and their clever management.  It does not affect our position or any of our principles.
The position of the King has been mentioned. As far as I can see, there are four or five paragraphs in the Report which deal with that question and with the Governor-General. The King has renounced all rights to be King of Ireland. He is no longer King of Ireland. He is no longer King anywhere. He is King, or claims to be King, over a series of nations, and in not one of them—except in England—can he do anything or go into unless he is asked. He is in the air, a sort of stellar King who has nothing to do with anybody or with anything as far as I can see.
Colonel Moore: In the old days in France there was a line of Merovingian kings who became so decrepit that nobody paid any attention to what they said or did, and they established Mayors of the Palace who did all the work. According to paragraphs in the report I see that the Governor-General is supposed to be the Mayor of the Palace over here, and is supposed to do all the work of controlling the country. The King does not even appoint the Governor-General. He is appointed by the Ministers here. All they are supposed to do under this Act is to notify the King that they intend to make so-and-so Governor-General, and whether the King likes it or not the Governor-General appears. It is a rather ludicrous position.
Colonel Moore: I am not saying whether I want it so or not. I say that the position of both the King and the Governor-General is ludicrous. The King has abdicated his position as King of Ireland, and he has now handed over his duties to the Governor-General. Whether the Governor-General could carry out these duties is an entirely separate matter. It is rather curious that there was an Imperial Conference a short time ago, and that Conference appointed a Committee  to report to it. The Committee reported, and before anything further happened, beyond the report to the Imperial Conference, the Minister brought the matter before the Dáil and got a motion passed. Shortly afterwards, when the report came before the Imperial Conference, it was altered. The Minister is now asking this House to pass the altered report. Both the right and the wrong reports are to be passed. It seems a rather extraordinary way of doing business. Perhaps the Minister will explain some of these things. I am entirely opposed either to Senator Johnson's amendment or to the Minister's proposal, that we should agree with the report wholesale, whether we like it or not.
Mr. Connolly: There are one or two points that seem to arise each year on this issue, and this is one of the few opportunities afforded of dealing with them. At the outset I want to say that, in the main, I agree with what Senator O'Doherty said. I would like the Minister to let us know what is his opinion, and what is the opinion of his Department, after their experience of the Imperial Conference? Does the Minister not think that there is a very definite drift towards the possibility of Imperial Commonwealth control, in which we might become involved?
Mr. Connolly: And if that developed we might find it extremely difficult to cut out from the commitments we have already made—such agreements as the Commonwealth Conference may reach. As I see it, I think there is a great danger and a great drift in that direction. I can see naval estimates being prepared whereby a percentage basis will be fixed for this country; similarly a military basis, and similarly quotas as regards imports and exports. One of Senator Gogarty's brilliant interventions into the affairs of this House was when he brought up a proposal with regard to inter-Imperial trade. We have to forgive the Senator a good deal because we know that is one of these pleasant little interludes in his daily work. He puts in a  very pleasant appearance here on occasions, just the same as he visits various institutions. Nobody with any intelligence takes him seriously. Sometimes he saves himself by an occasional witty or brilliant remark but on most occasions he does not. I say that for the benefit of those who may have heard him and might think that we took Senator Gogarty seriously on political matters.
A good deal has been said with regard to the King, the occupation of the country, the possibility of the King's physical presence here, and various other things. We have had enough experience of all the political controversies and all the practical problems which we are faced with to realise that the King could be shipped to Portadown instead of the Pope and that we could not prevent him; that the King could be landed in this country and we could not prevent it. It might not be very good policy for him to land in certain parts of this island, but that is another question.
The relative difference between the physical presence of the King here and his signature to the enactments of this Oireachtas is, to my mind, something that is not worth consideration. The actual presence of the King is felt in so far as we have got to recognise him and in so far as this country voluntarily recognises him. Whether the King is fishing in County Galway or living on the Thames the actual power exercised and imposed by the King is the power that is exercised by and through the Governor-General signing for him and on his behalf. To discuss it on any other basis is simply burying our heads in the sands. It is that fundamental issue that has been the cause of all the trouble in Ireland, that has been the cause of the worst period that we went through, and it is going to be the cause of further trouble. The question is, how far we are getting out of it or how far we are getting further into it? We heard a good deal in 1921 and 1922 about the stepping-stone policy. I should like to think, and I want to think, that we are stepping out of the Empire, but we are not. In my opinion, each year's Report of the Imperial Conference goes to show that we are not.
 On that point, I want to raise another issue which I raised last year and which the Minister made great capital of in his analysis. I think it was last year. I refer to the right of secession. The Minister will probably remember dealing at considerable length with the position assumed by General Hertzog on behalf of South Africa in his claim to the right of secession. If the Minister will refer to the debates on that occasion he will find that I asked him if General Hertzog had established that right to secession did we not automatically share that as co-equal partners in the Commonwealth? That, to my mind, is a most important decision and it is a most important fact. But a most alarming thing has occurred, in my opinion, and I think the Minister will bear me out in this. If he can correct me I shall be very glad to be corrected. It was anticipated that at the succeeding Imperial Conference the right of secession, as put forward by General Hertzog, was to be discussed. That was my interpretation. I think it was the impression left on the House by the Minister. I felt at all events that at the succeeding Imperial Conference the right of secession would be established and that each Dominion, so-called, would have the right to secede by the action of its own Parliament. If that can be established, it will eliminate a very considerable amount of difficulty from the path of any future Government of this country, whether that Government is represented by the Minister's Party or any other Party. Let us face up to it, that we are trying to think in terms of progressive national development and not in terms of conflict and fight. This country wants to progress and wants peace to progress. It does not want to be at enmity with any country in the world. But there are certain things which this country cannot give away and which it is not in the power of any Ministry to give away. If we could have the satisfaction of knowing that at the Imperial Conference it was established that the right of secession belonged to all the peoples, then we would at least see our way clear. I think it is the Minister's point of view  that within the Empire we are getting all the things we want. It is, at all events, the point of view of certain members of the Executive Council. The Vice-President (Mr. Blythe) made it very clear when he said: “With regard to the point as to whether we are aiming at the establishment of an Irish Republic, we are not. We believe that this country, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, can enjoy greater freedom and security than she could outside the British Commonwealth of Nations, and our policy within it is really to remove the anomalies that exist in the relationship between the members of it.” That is not the point of view of this country. It may be the point of view of the Vice-President in the year 1931, but it is not the point of view of this country. If that issue is put clearly to the people of the country, I have no hesitation in saying what their decision will be.
We are asked to approve of this measure. When Senator Johnson was referring to the naval base at Singapore the Minister, I understood, nodded a disclaimer that we were embodied in that agreement—that is to say, that we were not one of the parties to that particular agreement. But surely the Minister will not contend, if we pass this Report as such here to-day, that we are not automatically committing ourselves to all that is in it? I am not interested in Singapore or in naval bases in that sense. I am very much interested in the fact that there should not be the power to have British naval bases in this country, and I want to point out to Senator Johnson that the whole question of territorial waters around this island has not yet been settled. If more attention were paid to such things as that we might get on better. We do know in a realistic way that British forces, American forces, or French forces could—by virtue of the small population in this country, by virtue of the fact that we are not a heavily-armed people, that we have not a naval defence force—land any time they want here. Nobody but a fool would shut his eyes to that fact. What we do feel that is lacking in our position,  as distinct from what it was, is the moral position that we claimed in the world. It was our moral position, and not our physical activities, that dominated the situation in 1921. We have lost that moral position. We have lost it because we are neither fish, flesh, fowl nor good red herring. Internationally we are known as part of the British Empire, and, at the same time, we try to make people believe that we are independent. That confusion of thought is present in this House. It is present all through the country, and it is naturally more present outside the country. What we want to do is to have some definite understanding as regards our moral position. We deny the right of England or the British Empire or any other country to come in here and occupy our territory. We deny the right of anyone to partition the country as it has been partitioned under our present administration and Executive. We deny the right to attempt to control our territorial waters, and I hold that we jeopardise our moral position by our activities in connection with Imperial and the Commonwealth Conferences. We give away our position by having anything to do with the Imperial forces that combine to make up the British Empire.
There is nothing more that I wish to say. But I am very interested to know how we stand with regard to the question of secession, whether it is gone for ever, and if the Imperial Conference under some malign influence or otherwise has decided to drop the whole issue, or if there is any possibility of having it established. If we knew where we were with regard to that we would have a better idea as to how we would stand in the ultimate.
Mr. Douglas: We have wandered in this debate over a very considerable number of subjects. So far, with the possible exception of the speech of Senator Gogarty's on the one side, and on which side he spoke I do not know, we have listened entirely to speeches from Senators who are of the opinion that we should not express our approval of the Report of the Commonwealth Conference. I want to speak  briefly on the opposite side. Senator O'Doherty in a very able speech was good enough for the sake of argument to admit the sincerity of those opposed to him. I do not think he really meant that, but I do not think that anyone here would question the absolute sincerity of the speech made by Senator O'Doherty. If you take the point of view he took, then his opposition to any approval of this Report of the Commonwealth Conference is clearly and easily understandable. He made it quite clear to the House that he was opposed to any political connection with the British Commonwealth, no matter how independent we might be. If he takes that point of view rigidly and acts upon it, then, in my opinion he is right in opposing this motion, because this Conference marks another very great step in making clear to the world the independent position of this country inside that Commonwealth.
Senator Connolly and I will not be at all likely to accuse each other of any want of sincerity, and I am quite sure that when he states that this country, if the issue were put fairly to them, would not be in favour of any connection with the British Commonwealth, I for my part, declare as emphatically, that I believe this country, if the issue were put fairly to them, would be in favour of a connection with it. By having the issue put fairly I do not mean statements that this country is not independent, and references to a so-called independent Parliament. I do not mean on every possible platform trying to make little of this independence, and suggesting that it is a Parliament that cannot do various things. The test is: Do the things, and see what will happen. If we believe in independence, then let this Parliament go its own way. Let the country in accordance with the decision of the people, endeavour to make its legislation, and I, for one, am absolutely convinced that we will be in a more independent position to carry out the wishes of this country as a whole, by having connection with the British Commonwealth. But if your opinion is that in no circumstances can there be any such connection,  then the right thing is to oppose the reports of the Commonwealth Conferences, because these Conferences are making it more and more clear every time that this country is independent.
I may say I read the other day the first speech I ever made in this House, and one of the first things I said was that I believed that this Parliament was an independent Parliament. I still absolutely believe that. But I believe further: we have evidence that that position is being recognised both inside the Commonwealth and outside in a way it was not recognised at the time this Parliament was set up. Many of us believed in the Treaty not so much as a stepping-stone, but because we believed it set up a position which would eventually be recognised as independent. We have to face the fact that the mentality of many people in England is very much like the mentality of many of those in the Fianna Fáil Party: that they keep looking at various phrases here and there; they see in these potential or possible control over this country, and we have, undoubtedly, as Senator Johnson said, in the minds of many of these politicians an undoubted incapacity to appreciate the independent position not only of this country but of other independent portions in the British Commonwealth.
The main issue we are really discussing here is the amendment of Senator Johnson. He objects to approval of the Report of the Commonwealth Conference because, as he says, by a stretch of the imagination a person could imagine that in doing so we were asking the British Parliament to pass legislation applicable to this Parliament and in that way weakening our position. I missed the first few words of his speech, but I listened very carefully to the remainder, or what I might call his stretching of the imagination, in which he tried to show that if we approved of the Report we might conceivably be asking the British Parliament to legislate for us. I fail to see any proof or any suggestion that the approval of the Report would be in any sense a request to the British Parliament. Let us be quite clear. Let us  forget for the moment the position of our friends who, in no circumstances, would agree to a position inside the Commonwealth, and come to the position of those of us who believe this country is independent inside the British Commonwealth.
What are Imperial Conferences? They are meetings of the Governments of the independent countries of the Commonwealth to discuss all kinds of matters and, when they think fit, to make a report. What is our function here? Our function is either to approve of the Report in so far as it is agreed to by our representatives or to disapprove of it.
Senator Johnson suggested a Committee Stage. I suggested that that would be absurd. We can have no such position here. We sent Ministers to that Conference to represent us just as nations may send theirs to different countries, and the Parliament can refuse approval or it can approve. We cannot, at a later date, go through all the details, and say we would like this word altered or that word altered and go through it in Committee. We have to take this as a whole and decide whether it represents progress. I admit quite frankly so far as I am personally concerned that it would not mean anything to me whether the Statute of Westminister ever was passed by the British Parliament or not, because I believe that we in this country are strong enough, and our position is sufficiently established, for all practical purposes, to ignore anything done there. But we must recognise that there are people in England and in this country who are misled by the fact that there are various legislative provisions which have lost all their real effect. The fact that they still exist in law misleads people, particularly in this country. It is difficult for many people to appreciate what the exact issue is, and for that reason it is a good thing that Great Britain should pass such an Act as the Statute of Westminister, which is proposed largely from that point of view and from the point of view of the world generally, to clear up a great many points which have not been in doubt,  and which are not in doubt in the minds of most of us here, and which have not raised any serious doubts in the mind of the Minister.
As regards the position of our Constitution here, it was passed by the Oireachtas and an Act was passed in the British Parliament which gave that Constitution the force of law in Britain. I am of opinion that the passing of that Act in the British Parliament did not affect the legality of the Constitution here. I am quite convinced that the passing by the British Parliament of that Act, in which they stated that this Parliament had the sole power of passing laws for the people of the Free State, was a valuable thing, not because it gave us power here but because the British Parliament renounced definitely any claims whatever to legislate for us. I think that that disposes of one of the principal difficulties of Senator Johnson.
The Senator is also perturbed regarding some words which appear in the Report of the Imperial Conference. I have not discussed the matter with the Minister and I have not gone into it very carefully but I rather think that the words to which the Senator takes exception were inserted because of a possible position in regard to the Canadian Constitution. Because the right of certain of the independent countries of the Commonwealth to ask the Parliament of Westminister, if they think fit, to pass legislation is not precluded by the Statute of Westminister, the Senator thinks that there is a suggestion that such a position may arise in the future in regard to the Free State. In the first place, the likelihood of this Parliament, in any circumstances, asking the British Parliament to pass legislation is absurd. Even if there was any possibility of this Parliament doing so, we would be precluded by our Constitution from taking such action, because, according to the Constitution, the sole power to legislate for this State is vested in this Parliament. The British Parliament could not legislate for this country either, even if we asked them to do so, because in their  own Act embodying our Constitution they state that the sole power to legislate in the Free State is vested in this Parliament. I think that no case can be made for the wording of Senator Johnson's amendment. I disagree with scarcely anything in it but I do not think it clarifies the position. Unquestioned progress was made at the last Conference and unless we take up the position that Senator O'Doherty takes up — which is quite clear — our right course is to approve of the Report.
Mr. Dowdall: A few years ago the then Minister for Foreign Affairs in Great Britain got great credit—and quite properly—for having secured the ratification of an agreement at Locarno. The matters covered by that agreement were not very specific. It has been said of certain happenings since then that they have been in accordance with the spirit or against the spirit of Locarno. In fact, the British Foreign Minister's achievement seems to have been that of generating an atmosphere of geniality and cordiality in international relations—an atmosphere which up to then had been absent. I quite agree with those who have spoken here that every willing entry into Imperial Conferences, which are referred to now as Commonwealth Conferences, is more and more an acceptance of the status of the so-called Free State as outlined at the time of the Treaty. Mr. Michael Collins and Mr. Arthur Griffith, who were the principal men who brought about that settlement—which I frankly confess was a great step forward—have time and again stated: “This is no more a final settlement than this is the final generation.” I must confess that I was rather shocked by what Senator Connolly read as to the position of Mr. Blythe now—that is, an acceptance of finality, a declaration that this part of Ireland is simply an atom in the molecule called the British Commonwealth of Nations. As regards co-equality of status, I do not pay very much attention to that, but we hear it stressed very often. Even that claim to co-equality is untrue. Now, as always, this country is the step-child of what is known as the British Empire. If we want a slight indication  of that, we have only to have regard to the treatment of this country in respect of a very minor matter—the Lane pictures. Would that treatment have been meted out to Canada, to South Africa, to Australia, or even to Newfoundland? Of course it would not. It is well that we should be clear on these matters. Let us take the statement of Mr. Blythe—who, I assume, speaks for the Government— that we have accepted for good and all this status. Why on earth have a demonstration every year at Bodenstown for the glorification of the memory of a man whose outstanding utterance was that he wished to sunder the last link which connected this country with Great Britain? If Bodenstown is not an organised hypocrisy in view of Mr. Blythe's statement, which, I take it, represents the position of the Executive Council, I do do not know what hypocrisy is.
Mr. Counihan: Every Senator who has spoken up to the present spoke on behalf of some political party. Perhaps I will be permitted to give the view of one of the most important industries of the country on the subject under discussion. I refer to the live stock industry. Ninety-five per cent. of the people engaged in that industry, and the great majority of the farmers, want the Treaty without alteration. We want to remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and we do not want to go outside it. I agree with Senator O'Doherty and Senator Colonel Moore that we have not freedom in this country. We shall not have freedom until the minority recognise, or are compelled to recognise, the will of the majority of the elected representatives of the people. Recently I had a communication from a tourist district in the South of Ireland, and I understand that as soon as the reports of the deplorable incidents which occurred recently in our country appeared in the British Press fifty per cent. of the tourist bookings in the County Kerry were cancelled. That is not freedom. That is not the freedom which we want to have under the Treaty.
Miss Browne: I hope that the Seanad, by a large majority, will vote  against this amendment. We have got to face the situation that exists. We have got to recognise that Ireland, as a member of the self-governing Dominions within the British Commonwealth, is in an infinitely more important and more independent position than she ever could be in as a little twopence-halfpenny, isolated Republic, about which nobody in the world would ever care, or ever hear.
Miss Browne: We are quite independent as we stand at the present time and far more important than we would ever be under an Irish Republic. I agree with Senator Douglas that if that question were put fairly and squarely before the people of Ireland the vast majority would agree with my view. Our country stands recognised as an independent nation. Foreign Ministers have declared that, to our great pride. For our honoured position in the world to-day we have to thank the late Minister for Justice at the first Imperial Conference, and the present Minister for External Affairs at the later Conferences. They have put Ireland into an honoured position in the world— such a position as she never occupied before. That is the truth, no matter what balderdash may be stated to the contrary to mislead the people and to play up to the romantic flappers who want something romantic to hang on to. One of the leaders of Fianna Fáil—we do not know who is the real leader— stated on a public platform that if they come into power they would accept the Treaty and work it. But they have to come along and trot out the Republic in order to keep in touch with a certain following in the country. I think it was Senator O'Doherty who said that the Treaty was rammed down our throats. It was not. It was accepted by the vast majority of the people of the country.
Miss Browne: At various elections. I do not want to occupy the time of the Seanad further than simply to put the situation clearly, fairly and squarely. I think it was Senator Connolly who said that England or any foreign Power could land an army here and that there was nothing to prevent their doing so. Will any Senator tell me how, with the longest and largest coastline in Europe, if we had an independent Republic, we could prevent an army being landed or an invasion of this country? Are we going to build the biggest navy in the world when we are not able, according to some people, to pay our honest debts? Are we going to build that navy? That is the position. I maintain that under an independent Republic we would be far more the football of the nations than we are as a member of the great society known as the Commonwealth of Nations. We are just as free and independent as we could possibly be, and we are in a far more powerful position.
Mr. O'Farrell: Senator O'Doherty, in opening, said that Senator Johnson had made a perfectly ludicrous speech. He explained afterwards that it was ludicrous from his point of view, because he and Senator Johnson looked at fundamentals from a totally different standpoint. Simply because they have different points of view it does not follow that Senator Johnson's remarks were ludicrous. I subscribe to Senator Johnson's whole statement and support the amendment which he put forward. Senator O'Doherty seemed to be under the impression and actually indicated that because these reports had to be submitted to this House, they indicated the subserviency of this State. He might as well say that the reports from delegates to the League of Nations, which are submitted to all the Parliaments of States which are parties to the League, indicated the subserviency of any of these particular States. I do not think that by attending these Imperial  Conferences we are in any way indicating subserviency, any more than we indicate subserviency by attending the League of Nations. I, too, have to admit that the whole tendency since the Free State became part of the Commonwealth of Nations has been towards the decentralisation and dismemberment of what was the British Empire. I have no brief, good, bad or indifferent, from those who represent the State there, but I have to admit that they have assisted other members of the Commonwealth and led them in asserting their independence as coequal members of that Commonwealth. To the extent that that can be done I think we are doing good work. I was surprised to hear the late Michael Collins, who was shot down by his opponents, quoted here to-day by the same Party. It is very easy to quote him when he is dead, just as Wolfe Tone has been quoted, and the particular statement made by him used as a foundation for a whole inverted pyramid.
Mr. O'Farrell: Of course he did. So did Michael Collins. Surely people change their minds. The Colonel has changed his mind very considerably. The Boer farmers of 1900 would be astounded if they heard his speech here to-day. Every man of intelligence has a right to change his mind. President Lincoln said on one occasion: “Of course I have changed my mind; if I did not change my mind it would indicate that I am no wiser to-day than I was yesterday.” What right have we to assume that Wolfe Tone would not have changed his mind in accordance with circumstances? A good practical patriot always serves his country by the means at hand, and in accordance with the circumstances of his day and time. Nations that spring to maturity very quickly are prone to die just as quickly. The flowers of the summer are just as fleeting as the heat that produces them, but the oak which is the growth of centuries survives even the decay of empires. We find that the dominion of Alexander, which was built up in a few campaigns, was broken up in the lifetime of those who witnessed its  birth, while the Roman Empire, which was the growth of successive ages, endured for a thousand years.
This State is gradually building itself up. It has been stated that Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith stated that the Treaty was no more the last word in the determining of the independence of Ireland than that this generation is the last of humanity. Subsequent incidents have gone to prove that. There may have been some disimprovements, and in one respect there was a disimprovement or an improvement, according to the point of view from which you look at the financial arrangement. There certainly have been improvements and advances on the moral side of freedom, and the moral side has been stressed here. We have not attempted to do one single thing that was for the good of this country socially, intellectually or politically in which the Empire, or any part of it, stood in the way. My position is that when we try to do something for the good of the country, and when any part of the Empire stands in the way, then it will be time for us to act, and not before. We are not going to create strife or trouble unnecessarily, and we are not going to go shadow-boxing with other nations.
Senator O'Doherty asked “Why send people to their deaths over cyphers?” I agree. Why send them to their deaths either for empty formulae? Why should we simply think that we can never go to meet an Englishman, Scotchman or Welshman, or anybody else in any part of the British Commonwealth, except with the tomahawk or the scalp knife in our hands? A spirit of hatred never built up any great nation. It is not by a spirit of hatred this, or any other nation, is going to become great. I do not agree that the Irish people were stampeded by threats, or forced into accepting the Treaty in the General Election of 1922, or forced into accepting the Constitution in 1923. You cannot intimidate the Irish people in that way, because if you could, they would have been intimidated by the ruthless terrorism of 1922 and 1923 that was tried upon them  by their own countrymen. It is that terrorism that has kept some Parties out of power ever since. I do not agree with a tremendous amount of what is happening, but being a democrat, and being in a minority, I have as such to submit to the will of the majority, until such time as my Party is able to convince the majority of the electorate of the State of the wisdom of our point of view.
Four elections have ratified the Constitution. There were several Parties in the field to place their views on what the Constitution was, and what it meant, before the people. One policy has been endorsed and, although we may not agree with it, we have to submit to it until we are able to change it. That is democracy. The minority in some people's mind must be always right, but they have got to submit until the majority comes round to their point of view. Infinitely more objectionable than a King, whom the people never see, and who never interferes with our affairs, would be a truculent minority who would impose its views on the majority, irrespective of their interest.
A certain amount of force has been referred to as having been introduced into the Constitution. There never was any Treaty yet made that an element of force did not enter into it. There was never a single agreement between employers and employees that an element of force did not enter into, so that our Treaty and our Constitution are no different from any other Treaty or Constitution that was ever made. Look at the Seven-Power Conference to-day that is assembling in London. Surely there is an element of force and coercion there being introduced amongst the great Powers of the world, and they cannot complain. It is an essential of human life. We have heard a good deal about the landing of troops and so on, and Senatory Gogarty talked about our consent and whether that was going to be taken for granted or not. Personally, I attach very little importance to that aspect of the case as to whether our consent is to be taken for granted or not. Belgium gave no consent to Germany  when she invaded her in 1914, nor did France. Neither did Germany give consent to Russia. When the war drum rolls, treaties, consents, and things of that sort will depend on the expediency of the Powers engaged in the conflict. If it suits England, France or any other country to occupy this State or any part of it they will do that irrespective of any moral right or treaty that may be in existence. We will count very little in the scheme of things should a war come about, particularly in view of modern developments in warfare.
As to the question in regard to the King, some people have the King as great an obsession as the Orangemen have the Pope. I certainly cannot see that the question of a King, President or anything else in Britain matters very much to us except as merely a theoretical arrangement. Certainly there is one thing that I would not favour, and that is the election of a President with the powers, say, of the President of the United States, who has an absolute veto over Parliament. He can declare war or make peace, and he does repeatedly veto the enactments of the legislature. I am not sure that I did not hear Colonel Moore one time singing “We will crown de Valera King of Ireland.” Certainly it was a popular song at one time.
Mr. O'Farrell: It is another change of view as to what the ideal form of government is. Poor Wolfe Tone has been drawn into the question, and the expeditions to his grave every year. Certainly everybody says a greater display of hypocrisy has never been exhibited by any nation than when the two or three Parties go there every year to praise Wolfe Tone and denounce each other. They are all for Ireland, but at the same time each is out for the destruction of a certain section of the present Irish generation. That is the way they are going to honour the memory of Wolfe Tone. It is not love of Wolfe Tone, but hatred of each other, that brings them there,  just playing up to the extremists in the various camps.
Senator Dowdall was really very hard up for showing that we had not coequal status when he mentioned the Lane pictures and said that because the legal will of Sir Hugh Lane was not set aside in our favour we had not coequal status. That certainly, from a very responsible man like Senator Dowdall, is going very far to look for another injustice to Ireland. Senator O'Doherty certainly to-day did not agree with one of his leaders in the other House, Deputy Lemass, when he denounced the Treaty and all connected with it. He talked about the so-called Treaty, the so-called Free State and so on. Speaking at Cleggan this very year, Deputy Lemass said that the Fianna Fáil Party could not be described as anti-Treaty or pro-Treaty. In the speech he said that they would work the institutions set up by the Treaty of 1921. Either Deputy Lemass is not speaking the views of the Fianna Fáil Party, or Senator O'Doherty is misinterpreting the policy of that Party. What I would like to know is: what is to be the alternative to our Ministers attending the Commonwealth Conference? Are they to shut their eyes, or are they to adopt a policy of the Christian Scientists and believe it is all humbug, that there is no such thing as a Commonwealth, that we are really free and independent and a thing apart altogether, and that the other sections of the Commonwealth do not exist as far as we are concerned? Having adopted that attitude, what benefit is it suggested it is going to bring to this State? I would like to know first of all, before I do a thing, that there is some meaning in it, and that it is going to effect some good. If I could see that it was not going to help the State I certainly would strongly advocate our boycotting of these conferences, but I think not only are we developing without violence, force, and the generation of hatred, not only are we developing the independence of this country politically, but we are helping the other States in the Commonwealth to develop their independence also; not only are we helping ourselves, but we are helping others. There is no alternative,  having accepted all the implications of the Treaty, whilst that Treaty does exist, but to make use of the machinery that it provides in order to improve our position and to help others if we can. When the people of this country alter that and put it aside, and when the war-drums beat for action and we are prepared to tell all and sundry, “Every man to his tents, O Israel!” I am prepared to follow that course, but until that is done I think we should use the machinery placed at our disposal, and that is what is being done in this, and that is why I am supporting this amendment.
Mr. Robinson: I have always sung the little song that Senator O'Farrell has referred to, but it was slightly different from what he states. I think it is the view of nearly everybody who is Republican that the song should be “We will crown devil e'er a King of Ireland.” Republicans say we will never crown anybody King of Ireland. Senator O'Farrell talked about Mr. Lemass and said that Senator O'Doherty and he are not in agreement. He quoted Mr. Lemass as saying that he was neither anti-Treaty nor pro-Treaty and he seems to think that in that there is some contradiction. We are not pro-Treaty. Mr. Lemass when he says he is not anti-Treaty means that we do not bother about it; it does not matter. When he says we will make use of the Treaty he simply means that as long as it is in existence we will use it. That does not mean to say that we are going to stop at it. The Treaty does not worry us one way or the other. What does worry us is getting our absolute freedom. The Senator spoke of our Constitution as being quite legitimate, even though force was used. He believed that there was hardly anything ever attained without a certain amount of force. Where was there force from outside used to form the English Constitution or the French Constitution? There is all the difference in the world between the two types of Constitution. We do not want force from outside. He also seemed to think that the Parliament of 1922 gave recognition to the Treaty.
Mr. Robinson: The election was a pact election. It elected a majority pledged to keep the status quo. The powers that were usurping the Government at that time started the war which prevented many of those elected at the pact election from functioning. There is no justification for saying that the electors ratified the Treaty. Senator O'Farrell seems to think that because people changed their minds it is indicative of wisdom.
Mr. Robinson: Do you justify yourself for never having changed from being more or less an Imperial Labour man? Senator Douglas is always very clear and easily followed, but there was one reference of his to Senator O'Doherty the meaning of which I did not quite see. He did not put the thing very clearly. He suggested that Senator O'Doherty was perfectly right as a rigid separatist in opposing Imperial Conventions, because they were giving us more and more freedom. How could a separatist be opposed to these things if they were giving us more freedom? Of course he added, and it should have been sotto voce, but was not, “within the Empire,” and that really is the whole crux of the matter. Up to the present this country has never voluntarily acknowledged a direct connection with the British Empire, and these Conferences will put this country in a position in which it never was before. It is quite possible that the Minister may be quite sincere in his efforts to better the position of this country under the powers of the Treaty and such further powers as we have got at these different Conferences. That would be all right provided he was giving no guarantee that would bind us for the future.
The Senator who introduced this motion asked us not to approach this matter in a Party frame of mind. We do not approach it in a Party spirit. We approach it just as simple Irishmen. In ordinary international negotiations a normal country can afford to have great confidence in its representatives. The English, for example, have got 1,000 years of tradition behind  them. Our poor men, no matter how clever they may be individually, have not got that experience. There is also the fact, particularly in dealings between Ireland and England, that the matter for discussion is our property and there is no room for compromise as far as we are concerned. The thing is either we have our freedom or we have not, and it is not a matter for compromise or even discussion.
The British have always been regarded as people who in negotiations get a quid pro quo. They never give away anything for nothing, and in these little matters they do not mind so much our having the quo provided they get the quid. They always looked after the material end of a bargain. The unusual thing about these negotiations at the Imperial Conference is that apparently the English are letting us take the quid this time, and they are just wanting to have the quo. I wonder what is the meaning of the change? We are told that the connection is a mere ephemeral thing, just a gossamer connection and quite immaterial. It is so immaterial that it is hard to break it, but a spider can slip across the gossamer when the necessity arises, and he can build a nice net of web around those who are too sly to come into his web.
What is the situation with regard to the King? The King, by tradition and by the unwritten constitution, is the person who declares war, and the only advice he takes is the advice of his Privy Council. The Prime Minister of England and the Cabinet Ministers have no executive power whatever until they are made Privy Councillors. It is the King in Council who declares war. Suppose the King does declare war in the future, what is the position of our Ministers here? Have they to be consulted? It can be argued that they are not members of the Privy Council, that they are just on the same footing as the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in England. They have nothing to say to it unless and until they are made Privy Councillors. There is a little legal point that might well be gone into.
 I agree that apparently there is not very much danger in this little connection of the King in normal circumstances, but in the event of war, I maintain that we would be absolutely bound to participate in it.
At any rate, we would be bound not to oppose the operations of the British in this country. We would be bound to leave them absolute freedom to come in here and do what they like, and when a state of tension is between them and another country they can come in and remain here. Who is to define when there is a state of tension? When once they come in, God knows how long they might stay. There is real danger there. Once they come in we cannot object to them. They could say that “you agreed, in peaceful conference, to allow the King of this country to be the man who has the right to declare war on your behalf.” He is the man who is likely to declare war on your behalf. As the Americans say, we will not have a kick coming to us. If the Minister were to secure the ground, going as far as he could within the limits of the Treaty to draw this country farther out from the British Empire, he would be doing a good service, provided always that he is not giving anything in the nature of a guarantee which would tie us up. Up to the present this country can claim, quite legitimately, that we can break the connection because it is only there by force, whereas if these Conferences are to continue and if this Report is accepted, I am afraid we are quite deliberately giving our consent to the King of England, our King through these Conferences.
Mr. McGilligan: The last speaker has raised one or two minor points which may serve as an introduction to a general discussion on both the motion and the amendment. He queries the point made by Senator Douglas, when he said that he, Senator Douglas, could well imagine Senator O'Doherty, as a separatist, objecting to these Imperial Conferences, because these Imperial Conferences as they go on, indicate how much more  freedom is being gained. And he asks how can a separatist object to much more freedom being gained. But I have been up against that distorted viewpoint already. Last year, Deputy O'Kelly said he agreed that I was making progress at these Conferences, and went on to complain that if I continued to make much more progress of this kind people would get accustomed and used to the situation, and might end by quietly accepting it. That was the same point of view that Senator Douglas put to Senator O'Doherty—if we increase our status there may soon be nothing to fight about. Apparently the separatist creed demands a fight. That, at any rate, was the point of view that was taken by Deputy O'Kelly—that he thought I was making too much headway, and he was afraid that people might get used to and easily accept the present status. This he objects to, even though that present status was increasing. Senator Robinson has, I hope, put himself for ever beyond consideration as a likely delegate to conduct negotiations with anybody. Has there ever been such an example of the slave mind in this country as indicated in the phrase used by him to-day? In effect, he told us “Imagine Irishmen going over to negotiate with Englishmen when they have thousands of years of training behind them, which our poor fellows have not, no matter how clever they are.”
Mr. Robinson: I simply pointed out that this country is only a few years in existence, and I pointed out that it cannot be expected to have the same experience as the British Parliament, nor can its Departments or its Ministers expect to have the same experience as English Departments or English Ministers, and I said that despite the fact that our Ministers may be even more clever than theirs.
Mr. McGilligan: And so, pursuing the Senator's reasoning, for thousands of years, until we do get that experience,  we had better not attempt any negotiations! Let us leave it at the phrase used in the debate: “Our poor fellows have not had that experience,” and we are to conclude from that they must be beaten.
Mr. McGilligan: The Senator has experience of Empire, and I am going to talk of that later on, but Senator Robinson has no experience of Imperial matters. He is one of the poor fellows without experience.
Mr. McGilligan: I ask the Senators to say if there was ever such an example of the slave mind revealed, and revealed in a Separatist. We have heard a lot of talk about the British Empire. The British Empire has been dragged into this debate as if it were the British Empire of 100 years ago. My predecessor in the Ministry of External Affairs used a phrase in this House that the British Empire of the days of John Mitchel and of Queen Victoria is as dead as that great Queen and that great statesman, and so it is.
Mr. McGilligan: Senator Colonel Moore has always been a Nationalist— if we are to believe what he says here. I sat beside South Africans and discussed the Senator's nationality with them, and I may mention they have a different point of view about the Senator's nationality. There is an old saying: “If blood be the price of Admiralty, Lord God, we ha' paid in full!” If blood be the price of nationality Senator Moore has made other people pay in full.
Mr. McGilligan: The Senator may have got a good reception when he went there as a representative of this country and not as a British soldier.  That is why he was tolerated at a later stage, and not at all for his first Nationalist outbreak. We have to put up here with the hypocrisy of a man like Senator Moore pretending to be a strong Nationalist, and to have always been a strong Nationalist. My predecessor said on one occasion that when a person gets an attack of Anglophobia late in life he is very unlikely to recover, and that is the Senator's position.
Mr. McGilligan: The Senator naturally chafes under criticism, particularly when we are not inclined to accept his own estimate of what he has done, and especially when historical facts are against him. But if the Senator would drop the hypocrisy, visit Conferences where he might get in touch with South Africans, he would know what they think of him in that period of his career.
Colonel Moore: I know what they think of me. I was talking with them recently on quite a different footing. I have met the South Africans, and the present Prime Minister and the late Prime Minister are great friends of mine.
Mr. McGilligan: They are a very forgiving people if they can tolerate such a Nationalist. We have the report of the Conference before us, based on the report of the 1929 Conference. I do not propose to go into the details. It has been written about at length here and outside this country, and it has been commended for the way it clarifies and regularises the whole commonwealth situation. There are a couple of things emerging from it that need to be discussed here. One is that in its generality this is as big an act of renunciation as that which was passed at the time when the English grip was loosened upon the American Colonies. It is as clear-cut an act of renunciation as that. It is objected to for this reason amongst others—that it is going  to take its place on the British Statute Book.
So did the Act of Renunciation with regard to America. When that particular point was raised as an objection, as it was raised during the discussion at this Conference, General Hertzog, I think it was he, made this reply: “If I am told to baulk at this because of the theory that what one British Parliament can do another can undo, I remind myself of the Renunciation Act of 1779 passed by the British Parliament, and if anybody tells me now that the British Parliament, by the mere exercise of legislative powers, can resume possession of the American Colonies, I am prepared to laugh at that theory.”
Mr. McGilligan: Broken is the word. The only way in which the theory can be reduced to practice is by a breach— a breach of a solemn undertaking with all the Dominions. On that the Commonwealth breaks up, for we join in this with the rest of the Commonwealth. One of the reasons why this Statute form was preferred by us to an agreement was that, by knitting us closely with the Dominions in this alliance, it fortifies us all against any action by way of breach on the part of the British Parliament, if that has to be considered a possible danger. We could have made a special agreement of our own. We have a peculiar position, quite different from the position of the Dominions. The reports and the minutes of the Imperial Conferences are crammed full with assertions by Irish Ministers from time to time that that is the position, and there is very little in the way of denial of those statements. We could have made a special agreement if we desired, or accepted the simple scheme of a report not implemented by legislation.
Certain of the Dominions insisted upon legislation, and well they might, because they had experience such as we had not of the destructive effect of the Colonial Laws Validity Act, and they knew that they must get that off  the Statute Book. The only way to achieve that was for the Parliament which passed it to take it off. If we had a special agreement of our own with the British, and if any attempt were made to break it, that would be purely a matter between ourselves and Great Britain. We joined in this Imperial Conference Report, and we, the Government, will make a request with regard to this Statute, and if there is any attempt to break it hereafter, it will be an attempt not against us alone but against the whole Dominions. We have the whole force of the growing nationality of the Dominions behind us in our efforts to resist that.
The passing of this Statute writes no new Constitution for this State. Everything that is there I claim, and have claimed, we possess already, and again I may say the minutes and records of Imperial Conferences are crammed full of that type of assertion. But as an objection to adopting this Report the argument has been used that in effect this Parliament is asking another Parliament to pass legislation that will be binding upon this Parliament. What is the situation? We go to an Imperial Conference in 1926 and we assert certain principles there. We say that we believe that these principles establish the recognised position, the position recognised in fact, if not in law, of Dominions vis à vis one another and vis à vis Great Britain. We point out certain anomalies in practice. We get acceptance of the principle, and there is a reference of the anomalies to a committee of experts in order to see how these anomalous things can be removed and the whole structure remodelled in conformity with the principles accepted in 1926. We were the prime movers in that matter, but we got the backing of most of the Dominions, if not all, in regard to most of what we submitted.
At the 1930 Conference we said to the British: “On your Statute Book there are certain laws once operative in practice in so far as the Dominions are concerned, but never operative in so far as this country is concerned, and it is your job to clear these off your Statute Book.” We asked that this  should be done, but I cannot identify this request to the British to clear up their own Statute Book with the request, raised in objection here, that they should pass laws binding on us. Several of the Dominions were strong for the Statute. They wanted their own judges coerced, so to speak, because some of their own judges had been brought up under the old system, under the Colonial Laws Validity Act. They wanted to leave no room for judges so trained to indulge in speculative theories. If the Colonial Laws Validity Act still remained, no matter what a legal man might think outside his court about that Act being null and void, he would, nevertheless, have to adopt a different attitude in court.
So we came to the idea of a Statute, a Statute which the British will pass in order to take from their Statute Book certain things which are on it, which are out of conformity with present-day legislation, and altogether inconsistent with relationships that have since developed. Senators so far have preserved themselves from the traps into which Deputies in the Dáil walked. Certain Deputies in their zeal for objection brought themselves to this point that, if tendencies here developed and a Republic was declared eventually, the British by taking cognisance of it formally could jeopardise the new position. For the argument ran, if and when the British recognised by legislation the new situation, then what one British Parliament could do another could undo, and therefore all would be for ever dependent on the whim of a British Parliament and the British electorate. Those who depend on that argument put it theoretically in the power of any British Parliament, desiring to be cantankerous in the matter, to stop constitutional progress in this country for all time. On that argument, if the British see a certain situation developing here, they can hoist Republicans with their own petard and, parodoxically, by passing a Statute recognising a certain status, they can by the very act of recognition undermine what they have recognised. That is the type of argument to which we have had to listen.
 May I call attention to the exact phrases in the report with regard to the recommendations? A great deal has been made about this Parliament making a request to another Parliament. The formula used was changed on my own suggestion in order to meet a point that I felt was bound to be raised. We enter into a group situation. Our conditions are different to those in South Africa; South Africa has her circumstances entirely different to New Zealand; Australia differs from Canada. You have to fit in your own particular circumstances into the general situation. We found originally a phrase instead of that which is now printed on page 19, paragraph (c). It previously read “that resolutions should be forwarded requesting the enactment...” That is based upon a procedure that is common certainly in Canada and Australia, a procedure known as an humble address. I pointed out that we had no such procedure here. I pointed out that our procedure was to put reports before the Parliament as we were bound to do by a pledge given years ago. We ask for approval of reports in their generality, and conclude the resolution of approval with a request that the Government take steps necessary to carry out the matter approved. The Government then did whatever was necessary.
I got the phrase changed in order to meet the situation Senator Johnson has spoken of. I thought it better that a Parliament should not request. A Parliament of one country does not ordinarily request anything from the Parliament of another country. But, even there, the historical background cannot be forgotten. Certain of the Dominion Parliaments used to have the procedure of humble address requesting certain things. The old phrase fitted quite well into their situations, but it was quite incongruous in ours. Although we were the only people who had that point of view, that phrase was changed to this: “Resolutions passed should be forwarded with a view to enactment by the Parliament.” I want the Parliament simply to express approval of what has happened. The Parliament just  approves generally what is done and asks us to take certain steps. We, as usual, will shoulder the burden and take a complete and clear decision as to what ought to be done. If the House wishes to wash its hands of this Report, to some extent it can do so; but I would ask the House to approve the recommendations, particularly those in Part VI.
I ask them to approve these recommendations which bring to an end the old chapter of the legislative supremacy of the British Parliament over what used to be called the British Empire. That old situation has, in fact, disappeared. The moment this Statute is passed it disappears even in law with the good will of all the Dominions and of everybody included in the association known as the Commonwealth of Nations.
There is one other thing objected to, the so-called implication in a particular part of the Report that a British Parliament has power to legislate for the Dominions. I made our position abundantly clear on that matter. Senator Douglas has put his finger right upon two points that were subject to many discussions at the Imperial Conference. There is first of all the constitutional fact that if the Constitutions of some of the countries are to be changed, certain measures would have to be passed by the British Parliament. Over and beyond that there was one, but I think only one of the Commonwealth group which said that they could conceive certain circumstances in which they might have to call upon the British Parliament to pass certain legislation for them. I said we never would do this and I said that constitutionally we could not do it. I said that until some Government came into power which would uproot the whole Constitution, and which would have the approval of the country behind it, such a thing never could or would happen and that position was accepted.
A member of another delegation said that for the Dominion which he represented to ask the British Parliament to enact legislation for them would be to demand a national  humiliation and so it would never be done. Our position is that we accept the phrase which suits the group, because we are going in with the group, but our position as an individual nation was made abundantly clear in the whole record of the proceedings.
Mr. McGilligan: Not a particle. Remember our position is clear under this. “No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend or be deemed to extend to a Dominion as part of the law in force in that Dominion unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof.” That is as clear as it could be, and there is no analogy whatever with the Canadian Parliament. It must be expressly declared that we have consented to that by enactment.
Mr. Johnson: I think the Minister misunderstood my point. The fact that we are to some degree affected by the practice of the Canadian Constitution, taken with the exception that is declared in this report to Canada, may somewhat affect our position. That is to say that if we ask Britain, which I think is impossible——
Mr. McGilligan: I think I understand the point the Senator is making. The difference of course is that we have the power to change our Constitution on our own, a power which the Canadians have not. Therefore, the situation is entirely different. We are not tied up in the phrase which relates to Canada. Even Article 2 of our Treaty does not bring in anything there. Our position was expressed in clear cut terms in the 1929 Report, and I think the Senator will agree that it was then clearly expressed  that our position was different.
Mr. McGilligan: I think not in that respect. Two points of view have been expressed on the Report, one by Senator Johnson and afterwards by Senator O'Farrell, and a different point of view expressed by Senator O'Doherty. These points of view were as different as they could well be. Before discussing them I want to make clear my position with regard to all these Conferences. I accept what Senator Brown said at the beginning and what was said afterwards by Senator O'Farrell, that the Treaty at election after election has been ratified by the people of this country. I have, therefore, no mandate from the people to try and break the Treaty. Never at any time have I gone to Conferences with the idea in my mind to attempt a breach of the Treaty. But I did go across to Conferences over and over again to make sure that the status we claimed as inherent in the Treaty settlement was definitely shown to be there. I claim to have succeeded in that. But whatever I desired to achieve at those Conferences was limited by this, that there was no question of attempting to break the Treaty. The Treaty was accepted, but there were certain clauses subject to different interpretations founded upon the point of status which we recognised as a growing thing. We wanted to see that the full fruit should be got from the Treaty. Senator Johnson accepts that generally as the position. Senator O'Doherty and others do not.
Senator Johnson raised a point that I have already dealt with in a general way. He expressed a hope that the Seanad would have the point of view that this State is bound only by such legislation as is enacted here. I definitely take that point of view, that no legislation other than the legislation enacted here is binding on this country. But as to what is now happening I put this analogy before the House because I think it will be present to most people's minds.  I mentioned it earlier this year when I brought forward for ratification a trade treaty with Germany. Consequent on that treaty I brought forward an amendment to a certain piece of law that was, or could have been presumed to be, upon our Statute Book as part of the old trading-with-the-enemy code. When the treaty with Germany was being make disturbing deductions as to German Government said to us that even if that particular piece of law was not effective in practice in this country it had however been gripped as law by Article 73 of the Constitution. They asked that it be taken out lest it might affect them. They asked to have it removed so that there would then be a clear-cut situation. They were not bothered about the implication that by repealing it we argued its previous existence, and from its presence on our Statute Book theorists might go on to make disturbing deductions as to whether or not we were one of the Allies fighting against the Central Powers. They made little of implications—in their anxiety for practical results they asked to have it taken away and we took it away.
Was that a request from the German Parliament that we should pass legislation binding them? It certainly will affect them in the sense that we took away something that previously might have affected them. Can it be described as anything more than that?
Can what we are discussing now be described as anything more than this: that the British are going to take off their Statute Book, for reasons arising out of a certain Conference, certain bits of legislation which judges might rule to be in operation against certain Dominions? Some Senators have asked what will be the result if approval be not requested by Governments. The result will be, if this Government fails to join with the other Dominions in asking the British to take off their Statute Book certain legislation which affects certain of the Dominions, that the Statute will not be passed. I think it is quite certain that it will not be passed. What, then, will the situation be hereafter?
 So far in certain newspapers we have been represented as the prime movers for the disruption of the Commonwealth, the people who at every point are supposed to be leading towards the disruption of the Commonwealth of Nations. If we do not join in this request these newspapers will have the dissatisfaction of seeing us paraded before the next Imperial Conference as the folk who prevented the other Dominions from getting something which they ardently desired. The Parliaments of the other Dominions have debated this and made the necessary request, or are about to forward the required resolutions. We alone remain, and failure on our part may wreck the scheme.
Senator Johnson was good enough to say that he felt that a good deal of the 1926 Report had gone by the board. I hope he will agree with the amendment that I would make to his statement, that a great deal of those parts of the Report of the 1923 Conference which he then regarded with suspicion have gone by the board. The parts which he would regard as good have remained and are being fully implemented.
As regards a very small academic point concerning the negotiation of Treaties, the Senator was good enough to confess that when the 1926 Report was discussed previously he had his doubts—he felt that there was somewhere about it an atmosphere of British Empire policy in regard to Treaties. As a result of the changes since made, he says that he sees now that the suspicions he had at that time were unfounded. In connection with either the 1926 or 1929 Report I want any Senator to point out where suspicions he may have held with regard to them have proved to be founded. I do not at all disagree with the idea that when conventions and reports of conferences come before the House that members should be extremely vigilant in looking into them to see that nothing harmful or retrograding gets through but they might learn a little from the past. I would expect this, that having given rein to their suspicions, and finding later that nothing had happened, they might at any rate confess, “Our  suspicions have proved to be unfounded, and we have more confidence in the people working on our behalf.”
The Senator referred to a view held with regard to the status achieved under the Treaty, that the Treaty merely stereotyped the Canadian position as it stood at a particular moment. That may be an interesting legal view, but it is a view that is of no interest to this country until people attempt to assert it and work through it against this country. At that moment those people will realise that is not the Treaty that we passed. A Treaty containing that limited status would never be passed in this country. We can leave that until we find that it is seriously held.
The Senator has referred to other points in the Report—Defence, Singapore, Whaling, and the Antarctic. I ask Senators not to bother about these things. I am concentrating on Part Six, and I am asking the Seanad not to bring anything into the discussion that is not in that Part of the Report, For the rest, I ask them to read the Report carefully and to see where any recommendation is made which affects this country, and to say whether they agree or disagree with it. Then let them find out what effect can be given to any of these recommendations without legislation. If legislation is required they have the guardianship since nothing can be done until legislation is introduced, and on that they have the whole control. Small points can be discussed as each piece of legislation comes before the House. The main item that does arise in this discussion is Part Six, because that does not depend on our legislation, though on certain matters referred to in Part Six legislation of ours still to be passed will have a connection. We would have to pass these in any event, and the inter-action of this Report on such pieces of legislation can be discussed when they are introduced.
“It is assumed that all Governments will desire to take such action as  may be necessary to secure (1) that the military discipline of any of the armed forces of the Commonwealth when present, by consent, within territory of another, rests upon a statutory basis, and (2) that there shall be no period of time during which the legal basis of military discipline could on any ground be impeached.”
Senators who want to argue about what consent means will have their opportunity when legislation to give statutory effect to that particular recommendation comes along. You are binding yourself to nothing by passing this motion except this, but you are accepting this: that if, with our consent, any forces of a part of the Commonwealth come here, they shall be governed by their own code of military discipline while here with our consent. If we send a horse-jumping team to Olympia, so far as the members of it misconduct themselves in any way, they shall be governed by their own military code and not by the ordinary civil code of England. That is the principle, and when it comes to be given statutory effect we will be able to discuss the incidentals.
Senator Johnson told us—and he was fortified by Senator O'Farrell—what their attitude on the whole Treaty position was. I do not want to refer to what he said with regard to the past, because I think the Senator made that clear on more than one occasion. He said that the idea of his Party was that the Treaty was accepted and should be kept until such time as either social, national, or economic growth required a change. Can anybody say that that is limiting the march of this nation? Can anybody say that I as a member of the Government, or any other member of the Government, have by this Report set a limit to the march of this nation? Let us hear the Opposition point of view  as expressed by Senator O'Doherty. He felt that Senator Johnson's speech was ludicrous, because in its fundamentals it was very different from the Senator's. He said it was laughable to hear Senator Johnson's point of view. Then he brought us to the heart of things. According to Senator O'Doherty, the Parliament of this country owes its existence to a British Statute because, according to him, there were Articles of Agreement implemented by a British Act of Parliament. So it is to a British Act that the Senator owes his position as a Senator. Do all the members of the Senator's Party sit here because their positions are assured to them by a British Act of Parliament? Do they not think they are founded upon the expression of some part of the will of the people of this country? Does their position depend entirely on the fact that there were Articles of Agreement, and that that Treaty was implemented only by a British Act of Parliament? Do they take up the position that was taken up in the other House by members of that Party, that the true Government of this country lies outside of the Oireachtas, or what is the position? Senator O'Doherty is aghast that this “sovereign” Parliament invites another Parliament to make laws for it. Not in this Report. It invites another sovereign Parliament to take certain things off its Statute Book. It invites it to pass no legislation for this country, and never did. Merely putting this Report before the House, according to the Senator, indicates that the British Parliament in London is supreme in the British Empire. If that Report can be read with any understanding by the Seanad, Senators will see that whatever might have been the position in the past, it indicates that for the future the whole idea of supremacy throughout the Empire has disappeared, and this marks the end of that epoch. So far is the bringing of the Report of that Conference before this Parliament from arguing any subserviency to the British Parliament, that it absolutely demonstrates how completely any element of subserviency has disappeared.
 If we pass the motion the Senator is afraid that there is going to be a rigid Constitution. He wonders are we going to be tied up with regard to matters of common concern, defence and a common judiciary? Senator Connolly let his imagination roam, and saw quotas for the Navy, quotas for the Army, and quotas of imports and exports. I cannot attend to that sort of calculation unless I am directed to some paragraph in the Report from which it is demonstrable that this rigidity and these quotas are emerging. Then I will deal with it. You cannot minister to a mind diseased, and the mind diseased with bogies is the one least of all subject to any sort of cure. Where is there anything that any of these diseased minds can lean on in the Report, to show quotas for the Navy, quotas for the Army, quotas with regard to imports or exports or a common judiciary? They are not there, and it is only imagination that conjures them in there.
Senator O'Doherty dealt with the King in relation to this country. Senator Johnson more accurately described the position of the King in this country. “A legislative shadow.” One does not like using that phrase, because it will be written up as if there was a tinge of contempt in it. I do not want any contempt or slight to be read into my phrase. I am speaking accurately of the relationship of the King to Irish affairs. It is such that he cannot act except on the advice of Irish Ministers, and Irish Ministers cannot advise him, except on Irish affairs. That is as clear cut as a thing can be. If Senators like to put the phrase “cypher” or “shadow” upon that situation they can. It is the constitutional situation. Senator O'Doherty asked “Why send men to their death for cyphers?” As between the King in that position, and the President of a Republic in exactly the same position, there is no reason why one single drop of blood should be shed.
Two developments happened this year. I call them of minor importance, but to the constitutional lawyer they indicate a certain tendency and how far that tendency goes. In the course  of our various discussions and examinations of the relationship between this country and Great Britain we came on several small anomalies. One of these was raised by some text book, where it was argued that because a document was sealed in a particular way, it could be said to be sealed under the authority of a British Secretary of State. We thought it better to attack that situation. The argument ran this way: The seal is in the possession of a particular Secretary of State, and can only be released on a warrant issued in a particular way. It could, therefore, be said that, as long as a British Secretary of State controls the stamping of certain documents, say in Treaty making, in that way a British Minister controls whether you make a Treaty or not.
We know, for we had it asserted to us that there was no control in that. The seals, we know, would be released as often as required. We thought however that as a permanent situation it was not good and we urged that we should have seals of our own, kept under our own control, and issued for the stamping of documents when we said they should be issued. That proposition was accepted, and the seals will come into being one of these days.
There was a second point raised, that because, when certain matters had to be communicated to the King, the old channel of the Dominion Office was used, it could be said the channel of communication was capable of being blocked and that a Dominion Secretary, carrying to the King the advice of an Irish Ministry, might change and distort it. Although we knew that such a fear was fantastic and the danger most remote we claimed the right of direct access and advice, and that was granted. All these are small things in themselves, but important from the angle of constitutional development. Digging into history will throw up certain anomalous things from time to time. These were not of sufficient importance to raise them as extreme matters in any extreme way at an Imperial Conference, but when they  were raised they were met at once, and have helped to establish the clearest situation with regard to the King and his attitude towards Irish affairs.
Senator O'Farrell when stating his attitude to the Treaty asked what the alternative was. I asked that question last week of the leaders of Fianna Fáil. I pointed out that three speeches, full of as much vehemence as Senator O'Doherty had in his to-day, had been delivered, and that, in two of them, there had been a swerving away from the use of the word “republic,” and that when the third speaker used it he used it in the phrase, “The republic that was to be established ultimately if people can do it.” I asked what was the present attitude of that Party in respect to the republic which, we used to be told, was to be declared at once when certain people were empowered by the people of the country to act as a Government. I pointed out that we had been told over and over again that there were certain marks of the non-existence of the republic, and that we could segregate, from speeches of the Fianna Fáil people, five items as marks of the non-existence of the republic: the oath, the King, the Governor-General, the Six-County situation, and the fact of certain troops being in certain parts of the country. I asked if any of these was going to be advanced upon if and when the Fianna Fáil Party was empowered to form a Government, and I could get no answer. I am wondering if I can get an answer here. What is their policy?
Mr. McGilligan: There were other people more honest than that. Deputy de Valera said, “When we can do it.” It used to be “at once.” Now it is “when we can do it—ultimately.” The ultimate goal that used to be so derided when it was put forward as part of the policy of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith——
Mr. McGilligan: Ultimately and if we can certain things are going to be done. What are the certain things which are going to be done? The difference between a President who obeys the will of the people of the country and the King who obeys the will of the people——
Mr. McGilligan: These certainly are the people who ought to go to England and talk about hypocrisy. They are the proper representatives for a contest with England about hypocrisy. That is the only point I want to make. I am leaving it at that.
Mr. McGilligan: The people who are in the particular position the Senator finds himself in are the proper persons to send to England to talk about hypocrisy, and to negotiate for the removal of an oath which they describe as an impediment to certain people entering Parliament. Having entered Parliament as he did, if he adds on the slave mind of Senator Robinson to that, that is a great combination.
Mr. Connolly: We always have as clear a conscience as the Minister, and let us hope a good deal more clear. The Minister's conscience was exhibited to the world in the last three weeks. We do not like to indulge in all these things but we are driven to them.
Cathaoirleach: I shall adjourn the House if there are any further personalities on either side. The matter is clear. The Senators have made their statement that they did not take the oath, and I must ask the Minister to accept that while he is here.
Mr. McGilligan: It cannot be accepted. The Republic—let us get back to that—the Republic which is to be ultimately, and if people can achieve it, established. Senator Johnson said he will move forward, say, when national, social or economic growth requires it. Economics do play a little part in this whole situation. The Republic is to be declared as, and when certain people can do it ultimately. But in the meantime, supposing the Fianna Fáil Party is empowered to act, what is going to happen to the people brought up to believe that they would act at once? What about the secret army? Is it going to be let stay there? Is it going to be let go along in the old way, believing things are going to be rectified at once?
“The continued existence of the Free State Government will depend largely on the ability of the Free State leaders to improve the economic condition of the country, and to restore stability and security to its industrial life. They cannot do this with any degree of success while there remains in the country an armed force not under their control, and hostile to their State, implying  by its very existence a threat of armed action against them at any favourable moment.”
Mr. McGilligan: That was written by Deputy Lemass to his Cabinet when he was posing as Minister for Defence. What is the thought in it? You can never have economic progress in this country as long as there is a secret army on the flank. We are, we are told, to have the Fianna Fáil Party in power to form a Government, and Deputy Lemass has now the idea of a tariff a day to keep the republic away. Will his tariffs bring economic stability to the country if there is a secret army on his flank? What will he do about the secret army? Is it to be allowed to drill and manoeurve? Is it to be put down?
Mr. McGilligan: Senator Johnson says that when national and economic growth demands a step forward then we can have it. What does the statement I have read reveal except a policy of preventing economic growth? What are the people who raised that army going to do when faced with the same army?
Mr. McGilligan: It can, if desired, be published to-night. We have got to face up to this situation of the Imperial Conference Report accepted even in the spirit in which Senator Johnson accepted it and the position taken to-day by that Party who have no policy as to what they are going to do as an alternative, who have no answer as to what they are going to do with the forces they have brought into the country on a false pretence—the pretence that there is going to be established a republic when these people are empowered to do anything. There is a situation there and they have to meet that situation. The situation is growing worse every day, as the murders in Tipperary show, and the people who say the true Government of the country lies outside this Oireachtas have to bear responsibility for that situation; and the person in particular who at Thurles long ago made his notorious statement about the murder of an Irish Minister—you can call it either a forecast as he tried to call it or a hint—but that having been fulfilled, the author of that phrase may find himself some day facing the men whom it inspired to action. He must at any rate make up his mind before he goes to an election as between progress through Imperial Conferences with a position in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and a hybrid, noneffective republic and, such as it may be, a republic not any longer to be established or declared straight away, but only ultimately and as and when these so-called republicans can do it.
Colonel Moore: May I make a personal statement? The Minister made the statement in which he referred to the head of the South African Government and what he said to the Minister  about me, when he met him, I presume, at the Imperial Conference. To start with, that is an extremely improper statement to make here in public, because it brings into this House the statement of a Prime Minister of a Dominion.
Colonel Moore: As a matter of fact, he expected that I would not be able to make any contradiction and, therefore, as usual, he rolled this thing out, hoping no contradiction would be made. As a matter of fact, within a week or a fortnight of the time that he last saw that Minister I received a letter of a very affectionate nature  from that Minister. Now he comes up and makes a statement here which is absolutely wrong. Then he went on to quote other matters about me, that I had done such things when I was out there for the parties he spoke of that they thanked me for them.
Miss Kathleen Browne.
John C. Counihan.
The Countess of Desart.
James G. Douglas.
Sir Thomas Grattan Esmonde.
Dr. O. St. J. Gogarty.
Henry S. Guinness.
Major-General Sir William Hickie.
The McGillycuddy of the Reeks.
Sir Walter Nugent.
Siobhán Bean an Phaoraigh.
|Caitlín Bean Uí Chléirigh.
Michael Comyn, K.C.
Seán E. MacEllin.
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