The result of the ballot of the unions other than the Amalgamated Engineering Union was announced on June 2, when the forty-seven unions concerned voted, by a majority of more than 50,000, in favour of accepting the employers' terms. As soon as this decision had been communicated to the delegate conference of the Amalgamated Engineering Union at York, they in their turn arranged to submit the proposals of the employers to a vote of the rank and file. J.T. Brownlie, chairman of the union, at the same time addressed a letter to its members strongly urging acceptance of the terms. The result of this ballot was announced on June 13, the employers' terms being accepted by a majority of nearly two to one. Arrangements were made forthwith for a return to work, and the lockout came to an end shortly afterwards.
The position in Ireland continued to worsen during June, and at the beginning of the month a series of conferences was held in London. Sir James Craig and Lord Londonderry, representing the Northern Ireland government, discussed the position with a committee of the cabinet at Downing Street, and later the Irish signatories of the peace treaty had a similar conference. At this time shooting was going on continuously in the streets of Belfast, and many fires caused by incendiaries broke out. On June 2 the negotiations very nearly broke down. The chief concern of British ministers was as to the effect of the agreement between Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera on the observance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of the previous December. When they had examined the draft of the Irish constitution brought to London by Collins and Arthur Griffith, these doubts were further intensified. They reached the conclusion that the proposed constitution violated the Irish treaty, and claimed to establish for the Irish government powers that it was impossible to concede. At the time the treaty was under discussion, the Canadian constitution was generally regarded as a model on which the constitution of the Irish Free State was to be formed, but British ministers believed that the draft of the constitution for Ireland as submitted by the Irish delegates would give Ireland powers greater than those possessed by any of the self-governing dominions of the British Empire. It provided, for instance, for complete freedom in foreign affairs and independence in imperial matters - which the British government found it impossible to concede.
The decision of the cabinet committee on Irish affairs that the proposed constitution was unacceptable, was confirmed at a cabinet council on June 2. A series of six questions was drawn up and sent to Griffith and his colleagues. These questions embodied in their terms the objections of the British government to the proposed constitution, and were so direct in their character as to indicate that a failure to reply, or an unsatisfactory reply, might mean the complete breakdown of the negotiations and the end of the state of affairs established in Ireland by the treaty of the previous December. As the hours passed by and no reply was received, it was decided to summon an emergency meeting of all the ministers in London in view of the grave decision that might have to be taken. This meeting assembled in the evening in Downing Street. At length a reply was handed in and turned out to be of a conciliatory character, bearing witness to the fact that the Dublin government was genuine in its wish to reach an agreement with the British government, and to avoid a return to the state of affairs that existed in Ireland before the treaty. Collins was understood to have again assured the British government that the Southern government had no part in, and indeed strongly condemned, the menacing attitude of IRA irregulars on the Ulster border.
On June 4 an encounter took place between British soldiers and the Irish Republican Army. The rebels were given twenty-four hours' notice to evacuate northern territory, and the British forces then occupied Pettigo. They were fired upon and replied vigorously, artillery coming into action, the entire village being soon occupied by the soldiers. The commandant of the Irish Republican Army and a number of his soldiers were taken prisoners, and a quantity of war material was captured. In all, seven rebels were killed and sixteen taken prisoners, the British having only one man killed. On the same day a British sloop intercepted in Tralee Bay a United States steamer and seized a quantity of arms and ammunition found hidden in her cargo of maize.
The conversations in London between British ministers and Sinn Féin leaders were resumed on June 7, when Griffith arrived back from Dublin with undertakings by the Irish provisional government confirming the assurances that he personally had given to the British cabinet. The provisional government sent a comprehensive assurance that it was prepared to alter the draft constitution of the Irish Free State in every particular in which it was shown to be at variance with the treaty of December. Thereupon a re-drafting took place of the clauses to which exception was taken. This re-drafting was specially directed to ensure that the viceroy should have his proper status, and that measures passed by the Free State Parliament should be submitted for the royal assent. The authority of the Privy Council in the final determination of constitutional questions had also to be definitely admitted, as well as the control of foreign relations by the imperial government. The final conference between the British and Irish signatories to the treaty took place on June 15, and the text of the draft constitution of the Irish Free State was then issued. Its main features were as follows:
The Irish Free State was to be a coequal member of the community of nations forming the British Commonwealth, all government and authority being derived from the people. Irish citizenship was defined, and a proviso was inserted that a citizen of any other state might elect not to accept Irish citizenship. The national language was to be Irish, but English would be equally recognized as an official language. No titles or honours could be conferred for services in relation to the Irish Free State except with the approval of the Executive Council of the State. Freedom of conscience, free profession of religion, and freedom of expression of opinion were declared. The rights of the state as regards national resources were not to be alienated, and private exploitation was to be under state supervision.
As regards the legislative provisions, a legislature, to be known as Oireachtas, was created, consisting of the king and two houses, namely, the Chamber of Deputies (Dáil Éireann) and the Senate (Seanad Éireann). Adult suffrage was provided. The Senate was to be on an elective basis, the electors being over thirty. The oath prescribed by the treaty was to be taken by members of Oireachtas. It must be taken and subscribed by every member before taking his seat and in the presence of the representative of the crown. Payment of members of Oireachtas was provided for. Election was to be according to the principles of proportional representation, and the constituencies were to be revised every ten years. Each university was to elect two representatives to the Senate, which was to be composed of citizens who had done honour to the nation by public service, or who, by virtue of special qualifications, represented important aspects of the nation's life. A panel of qualified senators was to be formed. Dáil Éireann was to have authority in money bills, exclusive of the Senate. A joint session of both houses was provided in the case of disagreement, for the purpose of debating bills other than money bills. Bills that had passed both houses were to be presented for the royal assent, which might be either withheld or reserved, providing that the representative of the crown should act in accordance with Canadian precedent. The Irish Parliament might create subordinate legislatures, but was to retain the exclusive right to raise and maintain the armed forces mentioned in the treaty. Provision was made for a referendum of bills passed by both houses, on a resolution of the Senate assented to by three-fifths of its members, or by a petition signed by not less than one-twentieth of the voters on the register of voters. The decision of the people on such a referendum was to be final. This, however, did not apply to money or emergency bills. The Irish Free State was not, except in the case of actual invasion, to be committed to active participation in any war without the consent of its Parliament. Constitutional amendments could not be made without a referendum.
As regards the executive, authority was vested in the king, and was to be exercised according to Canadian precedent. There was to be an Executive Council to advise the government responsible to Dáil Éireann, and consisting of not more than twelve members, eight of whom were not to be members of the Irish Parliament. The president and vice-president were to be members of Dáil Éireann, and the representative of the crown was to be appointed in the same manner as the governor-general of Canada. As regards finance, all revenues were to form one fund and Dáil Éireann was to appoint a controller and auditor-general.
The section dealing with the judiciary provided for the right of any person to petition the king for special leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of the Free State to the king in council. Judges were to be appointed by the representative of the crown on the advice of the Executive Council. The jury system was to be retained in criminal matters, save in the case of summary jurisdiction by law for minor offenses.
Polling took place on June 16 all over the twenty-six counties of Southern Ireland for the election of the provisional government, which had been summoned to meet on July 1. The result was a large majority in favour of the treaty. The position of the various parties as a result of the election was as follows:
Pro-treaty, 58; Anti-treaty, 36; Labour, 17; Farmers, 7; Independents, 6; and the 4 representatives of Dublin University. The election was regarded as a notable triumph for the treaty, especially in districts which had been expected to vote against it.
The first result of the election was the issue of an official statement on June 27 by the Irish government. This statement said that since the close of the general election, on which the will of the people of Ireland had been ascertained, further grave acts against the security of person and property had been committed in Dublin and in some other parts of Ireland by persons pretending to act with authority. It was the duty of the government, the statement continued, to which the people had entrusted their defense and the conduct of their affairs, to protect and secure all law-respecting citizens without discretion, and that duty the government would resolutely perform. The statement went on to refer to the raid on a garage in Dublin under the pretext of a Belfast boycott - a boycott which had no legal existence - and to the seizing of General J.J. O'Connell by some of those responsible for plundering the garage. It was announced that outrages such as these against the nation and the government must cease at once and cease forever. For some months past all classes of business in Ireland had suffered severely from the feeling of insecurity engendered by reckless and wicked acts which had tarnished the reputation of Ireland abroad. The statement concluded that the country should no longer be held up from the pursuit of its normal life and the establishment of its free national institutions. It called, therefore, on the citizens to cooperate actively with the government in the measures which it was taking to ensure the public safety, and to secure Ireland for the Irish people.
The General O'Connell referred to was assistant chief of staff of the pro-Treaty IRA. He had been captured that morning, and the Irregulars had sent a message to the effect that he was being detained as a hostage pending the release of some of their own men who had been arrested recently in Drogheda.
The attitude of the Dublin 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, Winston Churchill made a speech in the House of Commons which was interpreted as an ultimatum to Griffith and Collins. 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. He 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 organized. 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". 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 legalize its further stages. 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 defense; 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 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 David 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 fighting the IRA. Before the treaty the opinion of the civilized world was, on the whole, against us; after the treaty, if it were to be broken by Irishmen, the whole civilized 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; he believed 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 Northeast to deal impartially with all religions, they were insisting upon adherence by the Provisional government to every particular of the treaty which they maintained 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 Dublin government 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 Irregular 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 regular 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 defense, 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 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 form of activity was the development of guerrilla street warfare on lines similar to that directed at the British forces in the years 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, Churchill and the Lord Chancellor paid tribute to the way in which the provisional government were endeavouring to realize the responsibility which now lay upon them. Churchill said that there had been a certain amount of disorder in the city of Dublin by persons who sympathized with the insurgents, and that this created a difficult situation which was not free from anxiety. The Irish 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 Dublin 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 realized 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 Southern troops were killed or injured. The rebels, about 130 in number, were marched out and interned in Mountjoy Prison.
Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, MP, late chief of the Imperial General Staff, was assassinated 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 killing 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 republicans. Austen 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.
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 pass into his hands.
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. H. H. 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 utilize 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 Mohandas Gandhi. 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 realized. He gave recognition to the grave difficulties in regard to the position of Indian civil servants, but while sympathizing with native impatience for the Indianization 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 £35,700,000. 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 the 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 British telephone system 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 £15,000,000 for the further development of the telephone system was then approved.
Attention was directed on June 20 to the serious position of the aerial defense of the country by Major General [[John Seely
Attention was directed on June 20 to the serious position of the aerial defense of the country by Major General [[John 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, Britain's 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. 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 the 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 had been effected as would comply with the pledges given. He referred to the Rutenberg concession, and said that the scheme, unless subjected to enormous modifications, would give to a Jewish citizen wide powers over the Arab population in connection with social, economic, and industrial conditions. He declared that the scheme was based on a deliberate policy of economic preference to Zionists. The Zionist Commission was going a long way to usurp the position of government in Palestine, and unless it was checked it would have very serious consequences.
The reply to Lord Islington was made by Lord Balfour, and was notable as his first speech in the House of Lords. He said that the mandatory system contemplated the mandate of Palestine, and he expressed surprise that although the policy was formulated in 1915, had been before the world in detail in 1918, had been approved by the Allied and Associated Powers and endorsed by the League of Nations, and although America had declared that the establishment of a Jewish home would be for the benefit of the world, there had been no challenge until 1922. A Jewish government, he said, was not necessarily a consequence of the establishment of a Jewish home. He could conceive of no political interest enjoying greater safeguards than the interests of the Arab population, for every act of the Palestine government would be jealously watched. These were fantastic fears. Under the British mandate no form of tyranny, racial or religious, would ever be permitted. Lord Balfour did not enter into the question of the Rutenberg concession in detail, but stated that the whole scheme had been examined in the most critical way by the experts of the Colonial Office, and that the latter were quite unanimous that the terms and the character of the undertaking were such that they could hope for no better contract being made than that offered by Rutenberg. Under the scheme there could be no undue favouritism, but if it were carried into effect, as he hoped it would be, it would give great economic advantages to Palestine which could be obtained in no other manner. He denied that there was favouritism in the giving of the contract, or that there would be favouritism in carrying it out between different sections of the population; but that the great scheme sanctioned by the government was to be used as a method of oppression by those who found the money against those on whom the money was to be spent was one of the most fantastic accusations ever heard. He also ridiculed the suggestion that the British government had been unjust to the Arabs.
On a division the government were defeated, the motion of Lord Islington being carried by 60 votes to 29.
A fortnight later the subject was raised in the House of Commons on the Colonial Office vote, when Sir William Joynson-Hicks moved a reduction in the salary of the colonial secretary in order to call attention to the Rutenberg concession. His contention was that Lord Balfour's pledge to the Zionists was in opposition to the pledge previously given to the Arab king, Hussein. Denying that he was an anti-Semite, he declared that the burden of his complaint was the way in which Zionists had been permitted, with the connivance of the government, practically to control the whole of the government of Palestine. Zionists, he insisted, held the view that the Jewish national home was to lead up to a Jewish commonwealth. The Rutenberg scheme, which he described as the most astounding concession that he had ever heard or read of, meant that the development of the whole country had been handed over to Rutenberg. The real scheme for Palestine should have been an agricultural and not a commercial scheme.
Churchill, in his reply, recognized that there were two issues involved: (1) Were we to keep our pledges to the Zionists, made in 1917, that we should use our best endeavour to facilitate the achievement of a national home for the Jewish people? (2) Were the measures taken by the Colonial Office to fulfil the pledge reasonable and proper? Mandatory responsibility for Palestine had been approved by the country. Churchill described the improvement which had taken place in the condition of Palestine, and said he had to approach the Rutenberg concession by the only path open to him - the endeavour of the Colonial Office to secure the establishment of the Jewish national home. He asked what better steps could have been taken than to entrust to the Zionists the creation of this new Palestine wealth without doing injustice to a single individual. No one believed that the Arabs could have done the work.
Left to themselves, continued Churchill, the Arabs would not, in a thousand years, have taken effective steps towards the irrigation and electrification of Palestine. He denied that there had been streams of applications for the concession, and said that when the Rutenberg concession was granted there was no other application before them. Sir John Norton-Griffiths thereupon intervened with the statement that he had been offered the concession twice, and that it had been hawked round the city and refused by house after house. Churchill said that Rutenberg was a man of exceptional ability and personal force, and his application was supported by the influence of the Zionist organizations. He did not believe that the concession was one which would secure the necessary funds were it not for sentimental considerations. Rutenberg was a Jew and a Russian, but he was not a Bolshevist. As an official of the government of Aleksandr Kerensky he had advised his chief to hang Lenin and Trotsky. He had rendered great assistance to the French at Odessa. In conclusion Churchill informed the House that the government had to regard the decision on that matter as a vote of confidence. In the division which followed the government obtained a majority of 257.
At the end of June Lord Midleton, in the House of Lords, moved for papers in connection with the Genoa conference. In the course of the debate Lord Derby introduced the subject of Anglo-French relations. They wanted, he said, to know the terms upon which France went half-heartedly to Genoa, why Russia went, as well as why America refused to go. He dwelt on the misunderstanding between France and Britain on the question of the pact, and asked whether it had been offered by the prime minister to Aristide Briand in writing, and whether it had been accompanied by any condition such as that of sending delegates to Genoa. He also inquired whether the offer of the pact was renewed to Raymond Poincaré, whether any despatch had been sent in reply making conditions or suggestions, and if so what were those conditions or suggestions. He believed that there had been a concrete case of misunderstanding, which could be cleared up by a frank statement.
Lord Balfour replied that, in conversation at Cannes, the prime minister and Briand had discussed the subject of the pact, and had agreed that there were three or four outstanding questions between France and Britain which it would be desirable to settle first. These subjects were still under discussion between the two governments, and until a settlement had been reached it would not be worthwhile to enter into further details.
Lord Grey then referred to the anxiety felt during the conference of Genoa, when from time to time it seemed that the entente with France was strained almost to the breaking point. Anyone listening to Lord Balfour, he said, would imagine that there had been no strain and that anxiety had been misplaced. He could not see that the Genoa conference had made any substantial progress towards the reconstruction of Europe; if it had not, it was a very serious matter. His complaint against the government and other governments was, that while they were all agreed that the reconstruction of Europe was the most important and urgent problem, they did not seem to have settled down to any clear perspective of the methods by which that process could be brought about. The first thing necessary was the cooperation of the government and resources of the United States. That America was not sounded as to the conditions upon which it would attend Genoa was a fatal mistake. So long as there was difference between Britain and France the United States would not cooperate. Without a good understanding with France he did not think they could make a real beginning, and without the cooperation of the United States they could make no progress.
Lord Grey then came to the question of German reparations. That had been excluded from the Genoa conference because the French government had demanded that it should be so. He thought that they were right. Genoa was not a suitable place to discuss reparations, but so long as that problem remained unsettled he did not believe progress was possible. The prime object of Genoa appeared to be to secure agreement with the Bolshevist government, and he considered that a mistake. He did not believe such an agreement was of the first practical importance to the reconstruction of Europe. In securing reconstruction he placed cooperation with the United States first. At Genoa the government had begun at the wrong end - the Bolshevist end instead of the United States end.
Towards the end of June great interest was taken in both houses of Parliament in the question as to the principles followed in the award of honours. In the House of Commons Godfrey Locker-Lampson put down a motion for a select committee, representative of Lords and Commons, to consider the existing methods of submitting the names of persons for honours for the consideration of the king, and what changes, if any, were desirable in order to secure that such honours should only be given as a reward for public service. Especial interest had been occasioned by the peerage conferred on Sir Joseph Robinson of Wynberg, and the prime minister of South Africa had publicly stated that his government was not responsible for recommending this honour. Discussions took place in the House of Lords on June 22 and 29 relative to the grounds on which Sir J. Robinson's peerage had been given. The interest taken in the question of honours was mainly due to the suspicion - which was not a new one - that contributions to party funds as well as public services might influence the inclusion of a name in the list submitted to the king.
In the House of Lords on June 29 the Lord Chancellor sought to placate criticism by reading a list of additions to the House during the present and preceding administration, asserting that this included a very remarkable period of English history. As regards the particular case of Sir Joseph Robinson, he admitted that the secretary for the colonies had not been consulted. He agreed that it was essential that a citizen of one of the self-governing dominions should not be recommended for honour except with the assent and approval of his government, and said that that rule would undoubtedly guide action in future. It had been upon the recommendation of General Louis Botha that he had received a baronetcy. The Lord Chancellor then announced that Sir Joseph Robinson had declined the peerage offered to him.
Lord Lansdowne, while expressing appreciation of Sir Joseph Robinson's action, said that it would not remove the cloud of uneasiness which still hung over the House. He said that the question of corruption did not arise in considering the case of Sir Joseph Robinson, but it was idle to pretend that the grant of an honour had not been in certain cases associated with a payment to party or political funds.
As a result of this debate the demand for an investigation of the methods by which persons were recommended for honours gathered fresh strength. In the House of Lords Lord Salisbury intimated that he would bring forward the matter for consideration at an early date. In the House of Commons also the prime minister agreed to a discussion of the matter. These debates took place during July and will be described in the following chapter.