British Cabinet Minutes of 16 December 1920

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King's speech on opening of the Parliament of Northern Ireland  (1920) 

British Cabinet Minutes of 16 December 1920 (Extracts concerning Ireland). Extract (4) is largely self-explanatory while extract (7) concerns negotiations in the Houses of Parliament relating to the Government of Ireland Bill and, in particular, the draft provision of what would become Section 72 of that the Government of Ireland Act.

(This Document is the Property of His Britannic Majesty’s Government.) -SECRET- CABINET 71(2). CONCLUSIUONS of a Meeting of the Cabinet, held at 10, Downing Street, S.W.1, on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1920, at 12 Noon.


(4) The Cabinet had before them a Memorandum by the Secretary of State for War on the provision of shipping for the movement of prisoners in Ireland (Paper C.P. -2266). The Cabinet were informed that over 1,000 leading members of the Sinn Fein organisation had been interned, with beneficent results on the state of order in Ireland. The Irish gaols were now full, and an internment camp had been arranged in Ulster. It was essential that large numbers should be moved thither by sea. There was a strong objection to use of merchant ships, owing to the risk of mutiny among the interned persons, and strikes among the crews. The Secretary of State for War and the Chief Secretary for Ireland pressed strongly that the Admiralty should allow men-of-war to be utilised. The Cabinet were then informed that the Admiralty had been approached on the subject on December 10th, and had at once given the necessary instructions concerned to render every possible assistance. Several warships were now available. The Cabinet took note of the intention of the admiralty to render every possible assistance.

Ireland [Part of Text of Heading Missing]

(7) With reference to Conclusion 1 of a Conference of Ministers held at 9 p.m. on December 15, 1920, the Cabinet further considered the situation which would arise if the Amendments of the House of Lords, dealing with the Suspensory Clause and the Appointed Day, were accepted, and were informed of the result of the negotiations which had taken place since the Conference held on the previous evening. A suggestion was put forward that in the event of the first election of the Southern Parliament [the Parliament of Southern Ireland] proving abortive and Crown Colony government being set up, there should not be held a second election without a Resolution of both Houses of the Imperial Parliament. The Cabinet agreed – That, in view of the Government’s willingness to make concessions in regard to – (a) The Senates, (b) (b) the Surtax, (c) (c) the bi-cameral Parliament (d) It was undesirable at this stage to make further concessions in regard to the Lords’ Amendments to the Suspensory Clause and the Appointed Day.


Whitehall Gardens, Sw.1 December 15, 1920.