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Full text of "The Struggle For Peace"

201

being, in our view, wrongfully withheld, have amounted to
over 4,000,000 a year, and that in the absence of this Agree-
ment, there appeared to be no reason why we should not
continue to exact those duties. Under this Agreement we
have wiped out the special duties, and we have withdrawn all
our financial claims in return for a lump sum of 10,000,000.
Nobody, I think, can deny that that is generous treatment.
Nevertheless, I hope the House will agree that the Govern-
ment was right to end this dispute even at that price, because,
if we were ever to end it at all, some compromise was inevit-
able. The continued exaction of these duties from Eire was
gradually impoverishing that country; it was gradually
reducing its potential value as a customer of our own. And,
finally, we surely should recollect that in this case we are
dealing with no foreign country; we are dealing with a
country which is a partner with us in the Empire, and we
should deal with it, therefore, on terms of partnership rather
than on terms of competitorship.
*c I pass to the Agreement on Defence. There was no part
of our discussions with the Ministers from Eire which gave us
occasion for more prolonged and more anxious thought
than this subject of Defence. The request was made to us by
those Ministers that we should hand back to the Government
of Eire the full and unrestricted possession of certain ports,
and that we should repeal certain Articles in the Treaty of
1921 which gave us rights in those ports. I think it will
perhaps be for the convenience of the House if I read two
Articles of the Treaty of 1921 which, if this Bill becomes law,
will cease to have effect. They are Article 6 and Article 7.
Article 6 reads as follows :
" e Until an arrangement has been made between the
British and Irish Governments whereby the Irish Free State
undertakes her own coastal defence, the defence by sea of
Great Britain and Ireland shall be undertaken by His Majesty's
Imperial Forces; but this shall not prevent the construction
or maintenance by the Government of the Irish Free State
of such vessels as are necessary for the protection of the
revenue or the fisheries. The foregoing provisions of this
Article shall be reviewed at a conference of representatives of
the British and Irish Governments to be held at the expiration