"Irish Question" & Ottawa
Just how badly Anglo-Irish relations were bruised when Prime Minister MacDonald and President de Valera buffeted each other verbally behind the trim white-framed door of No. 10 Downing Street (TIME, June 20) was revealed to the Empire last week by Secretary for Dominions James Henry ("Jim'') Thomas, onetime engine cleaner.
To a frigid House of Commons which rapidly grew wrathful Mr. Thomas disclosed that the "Irish Question" is kept at boiling point today by these three live coals from Dublin:
1) President de Valera is willing to arbitrate the issue of Irish Annuities (sums paid to compensate former absentee landlords dispossessed of their Irish estates) but is not willing that this arbitration should be by any court or tribunal composed exclusively of subjects of the King-Emperor.
2) President de Valera proposes to abolish the oath to George V by unilateral (one-sided) action of the Free State Chamber & Senate, refusing to arbitrate that issue.
3) President de Valera frankly exposed at No. 10 his intention to strive for a union of Northern Ireland and the Free State "into what would be called, understood and accepted as a republic."
Right & Wrong— Amid the angry murmurs of Conservative M. P.'s, bland Labor M. P. Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, onetime Solicitor General, rose and gave his learned opinion that the Free State has the right to abolish the oath its Deputies and Senators swear to His Majesty, this right resting squarely on the Statute of Westminister passed by the London Parliament (TIME, Dec. 7). Conservative Winston Churchill agreed.
Rousing cheers for Churchill showed the mood of the House. That mood was Opportunity knocking at the door of David Lloyd George. He had been silent in debate since last October, mum since the General Election of that month robbed him of all following in the House except three M. P.'s who are members of his family.— Seeing his chance last week the Welshman rose and launched into an oration which soon drew cheer on cheer.
"I was elected to oppose this Govern-ment but in my first speech I must support them!" cried Mr. Lloyd George. "I was the leader of the delegation which negotiated the Irish Treaty [in 1921] so I have had experience with Mr. de Valera. There is no one quite like him and this distracted world should be thankful that he is unique! [cries of 'Hear, Hear'] . . . . His demand is that Ireland be an independent and sovereign State associated with the British Empire but equally associated with any other empire. We cannot accept that! [tremendous cheer-ing]. . . . If we were to have anything like Mr. de Valera in a council of nations when we are trying to accommodate our difficulties then no business would ever be transacted! . . ."