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minorities-could not allow such reports to remain uninvestigated, or such incidents to continue unchecked. It had been proposed, therefore, to the French, Italian, and American Governments that they should each send a carefully selected officer to Trebizond or other Black Sea port, as might be most suitable, for the purpose of proceeding to the interior in order to make the necessary investigation.
In the middle of May the Government experienced a defeat in the House of Commons on the second reading of the School Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. This measure provided for the payment by school teachers of a contribution towards their superannuation fund. It will be remembered that one of the recommendations of the Geddes Economy Committee was that full inquiry should be held with a view to placing the superannuation of teachers on a sound contributory basis, under which the teachers and the authorities employing them would each bear a due proportion of the burden. Pending such an inquiry, the Geddes Committee recommended that a 5 per cent. levy should be paid by the teachers, and the present Bill was designed to give effect to this recommendation.
The objectors to the Bill in the House of Commons urged that a revision of the terms of the pension scheme would constitute a breach of faith. They said that the expectation of a non-contributory pension was one of the Government considerations which had induced teachers to accept the Burnham scale of salaries. Accordingly Mr. S. Walsh moved to postpone the second reading for six months. The debate proceeded for some time, and its adjournment was then moved by Lord Robert Cecil and opposed by the Government, but the motion was agreed to by 151 votes to 149, a majority of three.
On the following day Mr. Chamberlain stated, in reply to a question from Mr. Clynes, that the Government had decided to appoint a small Select Committee to ascertain and report whether any undertaking was given or implied by the Government or Parliament that the provisions of the Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1918, should not be altered while those scales remained in force. Mr. Chamberlain at the same time pointed out that the decision of the House involved a charge, and added that the Government thought that the House should make provision for this charge at the earliest possible moment. Accordingly a supplementary estimate for a sum of 575,0001. was introduced in the House of Commons on May 22. Opponents urged that the money should not be voted until the amount required was known. Mr. G. Locker-Lampson moved to reduce the vote by 200,0001. This amendment was accepted by Mr. Chamberlain, and the vote was then agreed to.
On May 19 Colonel Meysey-Thompson moved the second reading of a Trade Union Act (1913) Amendment Bill, the object of which was to provide that the application of Trade Union funds for certain political purposes should be endorsed
1922.] Mr. Lloyd George on the Genoa Conference. [55 by a majority in a ballot in which at least 50 per cent. of the members must take part; that all moneys intended for political purposes should be raised by a separate levy, and that every year contributing members should be given the opportunity of declaring whether or not they would go on contributing. This Bill was opposed by the Labour members, and the second reading was carried, but the Bill did not succeed in progressing beyond the report stage.
Another Bill which passed its second reading during May, but did not get beyond the report stage, was the Separation and Maintenance Orders Bill moved by Sir R. Newman. posed to add to the grounds upon which a man could claim a separation order from his wife, and would enable the Court to grant a maintenance order whether the parties were living together or were separated, and would strengthen the powers of the Court to enforce an order relating to maintenance or to the custody of the children or to access to them.
The second reading of the Finance Bill was taken at the end of May. Colonel Wedgwood moved to postpone it for six months, pointing out that the only reduction by which the workers would benefit was that made in the tea duty. Mr. Asquith took the opportunity to criticise the financial policy of the Government, and Sir P. Sassoon urged that the Treasury should be empowered to make special grants to enable the National Gallery to acquire art treasures from private collections.
The Genoa Conference was referred to in the House of Commons on several dates in the course of May. A statement had appeared in various newspapers attributing to the Prime Minister a declaration that the entente between France and Britain was at an end. Mr. Lloyd George denied that he had ever made such a declaration, and he wrote a letter to M. Barthou requesting him also to deny it. On May 9 Mr. Chamberlain read M. Barthou's reply to the House of Commons categorically denying the allegations.
Mr. Lloyd George took advantage of the vote for the Foreign Office on May 25 to make a statement as to the results of the Genoa Conference. He made it plain that the main concern was the problem of Russia. The representatives of Russia were present at the Conference, and they represented more poverty, wretchedness, desolation, hunger, and despair than all the other nations. Without the assistance of the other nations it was hopeless for Russia, whatever its Government, to expect to raise itself from the pit of squalid misery. There were three possible courses with regard to Russia : the first was force, which had not been suggested at Genoa; the second was the policy of leaving Russia to her fate until a more benevolent and acceptable Government was in power. That course, said Mr. Lloyd George, was one which they might be compelled to adopt. The third course was that the
Government should not preclude relations with the Russian people.
Mr. Asquith expressed scepticism with regard to the armed forces which were said to be massing on the frontiers, but the Prime Minister said that he received his information from the Prime Ministers of Poland and Rumania. Mr. Clynes commented upon the disinclination of the Prime Minister to go deeply into our relations with France. The question, in his view, was whether we had reached the stage when we could boldly say that we had guaranteed more goods by the Treaty of Versailles than we could deliver. In reply to criticism by Lord Robert Cecil, Mr. Lloyd George then affirmed that disagreement with France was one of the most disastrous things that could happen to the peace of the world. He expressed the desire that France and Great Britain should work together, but they must work together for peace in Europe; and upon that principle the Government would work as whole-heartedly with the French democracy as they had worked together to defend Europe against the aggression of their common enemy. After a speech by Sir L. Worthington-Evans, the Government policy was endorsed by 235 to 26 votes.
The state of Ireland showed no improvement during May. On the first day of the month it became known that the rival Sinn Fein leaders, representing the Southern Provisional Government and the Anti-Treaty Party, led by Mr. de Valera, had failed to find a basis of agreement. The Peace Conference at the Dublin Mansion House thereupon broke up, and the Provisional Government decided to proceed with the elections in June in order that the people might vote for or against the Treaty. The day for the polling was fixed for June 16.
Outrages continued to occur at the beginning of the month. The occupation of various buildings in Kilkenny by Irregulars of the Irish Republican Army led to sharp fighting between them and Free State troops, who ultimately succeeded in dislodging the raiders from their positions and taking a large number of prisoners. The Irregular Forces had concentrated at the castle, and severe fighting took place before this stronghold was captured.
In the meantime the Dail appointed a Committee, representing both the Free State Party and the Anti-Treaty Party, to consider the possibility of bringing about a truce and reuniting the Army. Another Committee appointed at the same time agreed upon a four days' truce from May 4 to May 8, with a view of giving time to ascertain a basis on which the Army might be unified. This truce was subsequently extended by the Dail until May 6, and afterwards for still longer. Nevertheless lawlessness continued to prevail in many parts of the south and west of Ireland.
On May 10 it was announced in the Dail that the Committee appointed to find a basis for peace negotiations had failed to agree and had broken
up. The Dail thereupon adjourned till May 17, the Peace Committee being desired again to endeavour to find some formula for agreement which might be placed before the House. Further outbreaks of disorder occurred in Belfast in the middle of the month, and a new Curfew Order was issued. At the same time a number of creameries and milk factories in the south of Ireland were seized by branches of the Transport Workers' Union, who hoisted the red flag over the buildings.
When the Dail met on May 17 the reports of the two factions of the Peace Conference were read, showing that no agreement had been reached. A further adjournment and a further effort to find a basis of agreement also miscarried, and hopes of peace had been universally abandoned when the Dail was surprised, on May 20, by an announcement that Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera had arrived at an agreement providing for a coalition of both parties.
The campaign of outrage showed no signs of subsiding. Murders and shootings took place in Belfast with little intermission. In Down and Antrim a number of mansions were burned down, police barracks and post offices were attacked, a bank was robbed and burned, and a railway bridge blown up. On May 22 Mr. W. J. Twaddell, a Unionist member of the Northern Parliament and city councillor, was waylaid on his way to business and shot.
The agreement reached between the Provisional Government and the Republicans was received with some misgiving in London, and Mr. Winston Churchill promptly asked the Sinn Fein leaders who had signed the Irish Peace Treaty to meet him in London to explain the effect of the new coalition agreement. Speaking in Parliament, Mr. Churchill said that there were nineteen battalions of Imperial troops in the six north-east counties, and any further reinforcements considered necessary by the military authorities would be sent.
The conference between Mr. Churchill and the Irish leaders began on May 26. Its object was to clear up the question as to whether the Sinn Fein coalition compact was or was not compatible with the due fulfilment of the Irish obligations under the Treaty. At the conclusion of the conference Mr. Churchill made an important statement as to the position in the House of Commons. He explained that the pact between Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valera would give the Anti-Treaty men 57 seats in the new Parliament of Southern Ireland, leaving 64 for the supporters of the Treaty. If Mr. de Valera and his Ministers became members of the Government without signing the declaration of adherence, the Treaty would be broken and the Imperial Government would resume such liberty of action as the case might require. The Northern Government had declared that, now that Mr. Collins and Mr. de Valerą were to be members of the same administration, they could not have such dealings with them as were contemplated in the agreement previously reached. Before the Constitution of the Irish Free State was adopted, it must be submitted to the Imperial Parliament. At the end of the month Ireland thus seemed no nearer to a settled condition than it had been at the beginning:
The engineering dispute continued throughout the month of May. On the 3rd Sir William Mackenzie opened an inquiry, under Part 2 of the Industrial Courts Act, into the causes and circumstances of the dispute. An attempt was made to bring the men and the employers together, but it failed owing to the refusal of the employers to discontinue the lock-out while negotiations were in progress.
The shipyard dispute, on the other hand, was settled during the first week in May. It will be remembered that the trouble in the shipbuilding industry arose over the decision of the employers to abolish the war bonus of 26s. 60. per week. As the negotiations proceeded the proposal was modified to the withdrawal of 10s. a week on March 29, and of 6s. at the end of April. The unions balloted, and the men ceased work on March 29, when the notices to enforce the reduction expired. At the beginning of May the employers again amended their terms by splitting the reduction of 6s, into two-3s. on May 17 and 3s. on June 7. On this proposal the unions again balloted ; only about 30 per cent. of those entitled to vote did so, and the vote gave a majority against acceptance of 5,034. Since, however, the rules of the Federation required a two-thirds majority for the continuance of a dispute, the negotiating committee decided that they were obliged to bring it to an end, and members of the unions were instructed to resume work on May 8 on the terms stated above. The stoppage had lasted for nearly six weeks.
On May 10 Sir William Mackenzie issued his Report on the inquiry which he held under the Industrial Courts Act into the engineering dispute. The Report stated that the present difference was concerned, not with the men's right to contest or object to any change or innovation that the employers might desire to make, but with the question of what should be done in the interval which must elapse between the raising of the objection and its determination under the method of procedure provided. In his statement of conclusions Sir William Mackenzie said that the question of necessity in regard to overtime was related to the requirements of the work to be done and the business in hand, and as to this necessity the management alone were in a position to judge. The employers were willing that the kind of question which had been under discussion during the disputes should be settled by general national agreement, or determined in accordance with procedure set up by such agreement. To this view the unions did not take exception. As to information with regard to a proposed change