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some of their own men who had been arrested recently in Drogheda.
The attitude of the Free State Government was probably due in large part to the pressure which the British Government had brought to bear upon them for the maintenance of the Treaty intact. Indeed, on June 26, Mr. Churchill made a speech in the House of Commons which was interpreted as an ultimatum to Mr. Griffith and Mr. Collins. Mr. Churchill said that firmness was needed as much in the interests of peace as was patience. The Constitution, which had been published, satisfactorily conformed to the Treaty. It had now to be passed through the Irish Parliament, and there was no room for the slightest diminution of the Imperial and Constitutional safeguards and stipulations contained in that Constitution. pointed out that the resources at the disposal of the British Government were various and powerful. There were military, economic, and financial sanctions which were available and which were formidable. The more closely these were studied, the more clearly it was seen that these measures would be increasingly effective in proportion as the Irish Government and State became more fully and more solidly organised. Having explained that the leniency of the British Government towards the Irish Government was on account of its weakness, he said that the Irish Government was now greatly strengthened, and it was its duty to give effect to the Treaty in the letter and the spirit and without delay. He pointed to the ambiguous position of the so-called Irish Republican Army, intermingled with the Free State troops, as an affront to the Treaty, while the presence in Dublin in forcible occupation of the Four Courts of a band of men styling themselves the headquarters of the Republican Executive was a grave breach and defiance of the Treaty. From this nest of anarchy and treason, he said, murderous outrages were stimulated and encouraged. Mr. Churchill declared that if this sort of thing did not come to an end it would be the duty of His Majesty's Government to regard the Treaty as having been formally violated; no further steps would in that case be taken to carry out or legalise its further stages. Mr. Churchill renewed the pledge to defend Ulster from coercion from the South. He went further, and stated what steps had been taken to supply Ulster with the means of defence; but at the same time he declared that there could be no further excuse for acts of lawless reprisals against the Catholics in their midst.
Much interest was aroused by the intervention of Mr. Bonar Law in the debate which followed. He said that he had been anxious for many months about the situation in Ireland. He had agreed to the Treaty, but if he had seen the position exactly as it was now he would not have voted for it. He said that he had assumed that the men who had signed the Treaty not only meant to keep it in good faith, but to run risks in carrying it out,
Later in the debate Mr. Lloyd George spoke, claiming that the negotiations and the Treaty were justified, whatever might befall. They had to consider the alternative, and they might yet have to face it. At present there were 60,000 men engaged in Ulster in repressing rebellion. Before the Treaty the opinion of the civilised world was, on the whole, against us; after the Treaty, if it were to be broken by Irishmen, the whole civilised world would say that England was blameless. After a reference to the inexperience of the Irish leaders, he admitted that he had been disappointed at the way in which they were gripping their problem; they could have afforded more protection both to life and property. The Prime Minister announced that the Government had communicated their views to the Provisional Government. The Government were not asking the House to sanction a policy of indefinite acquiescence in defiance of the Treaty. While they were pressing the North to deal impartially with all religions, they were insisting upon adherence by the South to every particular of the Treaty which its leaders had broken.
A division was taken on a reduction of the vote for the Irish Office, and resulted in a majority of 267 for the Government.
The Government of the Irish Free State followed up their manifesto by prompt action against the rebels, and on June 28 attacked their headquarters in Dublin-the Four Courts--which had been seized by rebel forces on April 14. An ultimatum was sent to the Four Courts in the early hours of the morning, and the building was surrounded by Free State troops. The rebels gave no reply to the ultimatum, and a siege was immediately begun. Firing was maintained by both sides throughout the day, the Free State troops using 18-pounder guns. A stubborn defence, however, was put up, and on the 29th the position was worse than when the attack opened. All day long a duel raged for possession of the Four Courts, where Rory O'Connor and the headquarters of the rebels continued to resist the almost incessant bombardment by the Free State troops. Fighting, moreover, was not confined to the Four Courts, for the rebels extended the scope of their activities and proceeded to occupy a considerable number of buildings scattered extensively in the centre of the capital. These positions were, for the most part, such as commanded open spaces or points at which important thoroughfares converged. They had been heavily armed and fortified, and each of these positions constituted a centre of revolt and a rallying point for the insurgent army. Another sinister form of activity was the development of guerilla street warfare on lines similar to that directed at the British Forces in the days before the Treaty. Barricades were erected at some points, and a whole network of streets was converted into an armed camp. While this fight was in progress the wire between Dublin
Castle and the Colonial Office was cut. On June 29, in the House of Commons, Mr. Churchill and the Lord Chancellor paid tribute to the way in which the Provisional Government were endeavouring to realise the responsibility which now lay upon them. Mr. Churchill said that there had been a certain amount of disorder in the city of Dublin by persons who sympathised with the insurgents, and that this created a difficult situation which was not free from anxiety. The Free State Government, however, had declined any assistance from British troops. In this he thought they were well advised; it was an Irish quarrel, in which the Free State Government were acting on the mandate they had received from the Irish people.
The Lord Chancellor also referred in the House of Lords to events in Ireland, saying that the Provisional Government had realised the responsibilities which the elections recently declared in Ireland had reimposed upon them.
On the last day of June the entire rebel garrison of the Four Courts, including their leader, Rory O'Connor, surrendered unconditionally to the Free State forces. The insurgent stronghold fell some hours after a great explosion had occurred in the Four Courts which shook the whole city, seriously damaging the building and destroying valuable legal records. It was caused by a mine sprung by the rebels, by means of which thirty Free State troops were killed or injured. The rebels, about 130 in number, were marched out and interned in Mountjoy Prison.
The climax of Irish murders was reached when Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, M.P., late Chief of the Imperial General Staff, was murdered at the door of his London residence by two men, who fired at him at close range when he was about to enter his house. After the murder the assailants made desperate efforts to escape; armed with large service revolvers they kept up fire on their pursuers until they were overpowered, which was not until two police constables and another man had been wounded.
The news was received with universal consternation, and both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the day as a mark of their respect. Questions were asked later as to whether proper police protection was given to men likely to be attacked by Irish outlaws. Mr. Chamberlain said that this protection, which had been given for some time, had lately been removed from Ministers and certain other persons owing to what were thought to be improved relations between England and Ireland. Police protection had, in fact, been withdrawn from everybody except the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The trial of the two murderers and their ultimate fate will be referred to later.
An important discussion arose in the House of Commons on the vote for the salaries and expenses of Cabinet officers and the Committee of Imperial Defence. The discussion was initiated by Sir Donald Maclean, who moved a reduction of £100 on the item for the Cabinet Secretariat. Sir Donald Maclean did not base his objection to the Secretariat on the ground that it was new, but questioned whether it was useful. He expressed apprehension at the way in which the power of the Prime Minister was being repeatedly increased, and contended that it was not in the interests of the nation that more power should
into his hands.
Mr. Chamberlain, in reply, contrasted past and present Cabinet methods, and declared that he would not like to go back to the old unbusinesslike system when no record was kept of the Cabinet proceedings. Mr. Asquith, on the other hand, saw no necessity for this innovation in the Constitution. He said that in times past Cabinet proceedings were only recorded by notes of the Prime Minister. That system, he said, had worked perfectly well for Beaconsfield, Salisbury, and their successors.
The Prime Minister then predicted that the next administration would utilise the services of the Secretariat. If they did not, they would find that they had committed a vital error and would be glad to revert to the practice which had been initiated. He made light of the criticisms which saw in the department a new means of developing a system of personal government to usurp the functions of departments, and to enable the Prime Minister to override the decisions of old and established departments. In the vote at the end of the debate on Sir Donald Maclean's amendment the Government obtained a majority of 94.
The India Office vote gave opportunity to Lord Winterton to make a review of Indian affairs on June 15. He claimed that there had been an improvement in the internal condition of India since the arrest of Mr. Ghandi. He admitted that the criticism might be brought that this arrest had been delayed, but the policy of waiting for his failure to produce constructive results, and thus disillusioning the more intelligent of his supporters, had succeeded. The country had become progressively quiet, and genuine grievances had been investigated and dealt with by the local governments. He described the efforts of the Government to obtain equal citizenship for Indians throughout the Empire, and also said that the feeling of Indians regarding Turkey was realised. He gave recognition to the grave difficulties in regard to the position of Indian Civil Servants, but while sympathising with native impatience for the Indianisation of the Civil Service, he declared that race hatred would never hasten the era of responsible government.
On the following day the Postmaster-General made a statement on the telephone system of the country. Tracing the history of Government control of the system, he said that it was not until 1919 that the engineering department had been able to devote its attention to real development. A five years' programme had now
been decided upon, involving an expenditure of 35,700,0001. The three considerations which had to be kept in view in arriving at that figure were: the rate of development, the level of prices both for labour and material, and the extent to which the automatic system would be introduced. He confessed that the automatic system would not solve all our troubles. He had been informed by the head of the telephone system in the United States that the demand for the automatic system had not come from the subscribers but from the companies, as a means of reducing charges. He claimed that the telephone system of this country had greatly improved, and that the system in London reached as high a standard of efficiency as could be found in any great city of the world. The motion to issue out of the Consolidated Fund a sum not exceeding 15,000,0001. for the further development of the telephone system was then approved.
Attention was directed on June 20 to the serious position of the aerial defence of the country by Major-General Seely, who inquired of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons whether his attention had been called to the fact that the reserve for the Royal Air Force to be provided by civil aviation had almost entirely disappeared, and that, as a consequence, our defensive power in the air had fallen to a dangerously low level in comparison with other countries, and in relation to the other arms of our own service. He further asked what action the Prime Minister proposed to take.
When the Minister for Air rose to reply Major-General Seely protested, calling the Speaker's attention to the fact that the question was addressed to the Prime Minister. Mr. Chamberlain at once disclaimed any intentional discourtesy and himself read the reply. This constituted an assurance that the Government were alive to the bearing upon national security of the development of aviation in all its various aspects, and were giving the present position their very careful consideration. He added, however, that it must not be assumed that our defensive power was necessarily dependent, to more than a limited degree, upon the condition of civil aviation. Captain Guest subsequently stated that the number of civil aircraft on French, Belgian, and Dutch registers was respectively 598, 39, and 15. He believed that the number of these fit for modern warfare would be small. In Germany there were 225 aeroplanes available for air traffic, but none of these would be of value for war purposes. In America the estimated number of civil aircraft in operation in 1921 was 1,200. Of that number approximately 600 were employed by civil air transport companies.
On the following day an important debate took place in the House of Lords on the Palestine mandate by the Council of the League of Nations. Lord Islington moved that the acceptance of the mandate should be postponed until such modifications