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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - I do not wish to unduly delay the discussion on this motion, but as the question has been submitted to the Senate, I desire to say that I am in the same position that perhaps ninetenths of honorable senators are in this morning. We are wondering in what way this motion is likely to help the settlement of this great question. Are we in a position to offer an intelligent opinion on. these negotiations ? Do we know what the offer is ? I maintain that we do not. The meagre cabled news published one day is contradicted the following day, and it is quite apparent that we do not know exactly what terms have been offered. It is true that we have been able to read the speeches delivered in the House of Commons by the British Prime Minister (Mr. Lloyd George) and others, but as the reports of speeches have been condensed, it is difficult to ascertain what terms have actually been offered to the Irish people. Even if we had the full text of the offer made by the British Prime Minister to de Valera, the leader of the people in ihe south of Ireland, we would not be justified at this juncture in entering into a discussion of the merits and demerits of the question. All we can hope for is that a settlement between the opposing parties will be speedily brought about, and that the unity of 'the Empire will be maintained. That expression has become so commonplace during recent years that it is quite unnecessary to repeat it. I resent the insinuation in the early part of Senator Lynch's speech that there had been difficulty in finding support in this Parliament for a policy of Home Rule The members of this Parliament have spoken in favour of Home Rule on every occasion on which the question has been before them, and little fault can. be found with their attitude on the Irish question.

Senator Earle - Senator Lynch admitted that.

Senator DE LARGIE - If I misunderstood the honorable senator I apologize,, but I thought he conveyed the impression that he was the only- one who favoured a certain course of action. The Australian opinion has always been in favour of Irish Home Rule, and every one, including even those who a few years ago opposed it, or refused to express an opinion,, has recognised that the time has longbeen ripe for a settlement of the whole question. Recognising the difficulties surrounding the position, and the futility of criticising a policy with which we are not fully conversant, it would have been better if the question had not been brought, forward at this juncture. If occasion does, arise when the Commonwealth Parliament can offer any help by expressing its advice such a motion should be submitted; but at present I cannot see how we can in any way assist. I was born and bred in a country where there has not been any doubt as to how that portion of the Old Country stood in regard to Home Rule. It is a most remarkable fact that ever since the late Mr. Gladstone introduced the Home Rule Bill in 1886, Scotland has at every general election sent members to the House of Commons in favour of that, great principle. Therefore, Scotland is not the lion in the path, and neither is Wales.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The lion in the path is Dublin.

Senator DE LARGIE - I do not know whether it is Dublin, Belfast, or London : but it certainly is not Scotland. I decline at this stage to offer any advice, but merely express the hope that a settlement satisfactory to both parties will be thi.outcome of the present negotiations. .! can see the danger of entering into the discussion of a question with insufficient knowledge, and the possibility of doing more harm than good. I trust that nothing will be done to interfere with :'- satisfactory settlement of what is a great problem.

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