§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
Sir, before this Bill is read a third time, I wish to urge again upon the Government the extreme importance of reversing at once the unfortunate attitude towards the German Powers which they have adopted since they came into Office. Nothing has been more productive of the complications and troubles that have baffled the present Government than the change of alliances made by the present Ministry. They abandoned the understanding with Austria and Germany, and endeavoured to substitute other combinations. [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: No.] Of course the Under Secretary of State for Foreign 1960 Affairs says "No." That is the only kind of reply to a well-known fact that could be expected from him, for the hon. Baronet has developed a most singular capacity for inaccuracy—[Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: Order!]—I admire, Sir, the fidelity with which the Radical Dioscuri of the Ministry support each other; but I shall not withdraw before the censure of the right hon. Gentleman. The fact of this abandonment of the Austro-German alliance in favour of an attempted but impossible combination with Russia and France is perfectly notorious in every capital in Europe, where the denials of the Under Secretary of State will be received with the same ironical surprise as a previous denial of his met from the official organs of Foreign Powers. All the German newspapers have teemed with the strongest attacks upon the Prime Minister and his policy, and solely on the ground of his change of alliances. I could quote hundreds of such attacks; and it must be remembered how intimate are the relations between the German Press and the Imperial Chancellerie. Moreover, the tone of all the despatches from Vienna and Berlin, published in our Blue Books, has been cold and even hostile. These facts are ample proof. The hon. Baronet can hardly expect me to produce a certificate to it under Prince Bismarck's hand and seal. It may be quite true that at the present moment—I speak of the last fortnight—Her Majesty's Government, taught by the painful humiliations of the past two years, and by the terrible experience of this war, may be going back upon their mistakes, and trying to revert to the alliance with Germany. If so, they have my commendation. My criticism of their policy applies to their policy of the past two years as a whole, and not to the very latest phase of their foreign relations. The expressions which the hon. Baronet in his helplessness is driven to apply to the arguments of his opponents may be excused, owing to the painful awkwardness of his position. No doubt, "moonshine and nonsense," though highly Parliamentary and courteous terms, are somewhat unusual. But, Sir, I make every allowance for the hon. Baronet. It is, no doubt, very irritating for a Minister to be wholly unable to reply to a criticism of his blunders, and especially when that Minister remembers that his 1961 name cannot but al ways be associated with such, episodes as the fiasco of Dulcigno and the deception of Greece, and with I the myths of "joint action" with France and of "the Concert of Europe," and with the Egyptian War. I tender the Under Secretary of State my sincere sympathy in his trying position. With regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), he did not leave an accurate impression upon the House when he denied point blank that he bad been on a Mission to Berlin. I had congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the success of his diplomacy, and thought that there were three Missions. The first two he does not, and cannot, deny. The third, as I said yesterday, I am perfectly willing to believe did not take place, as the right hon. Gentleman denies it. It is of slight consequence whether he went, or did not go, on that occasion. Yet his denial of this last Mission was so framed as to appear to cover all his Missions, and his reference to a portion of my statement to embrace the whole. In conclusion, Sir, I beg to congratulate the Government, even at this twelfth hour, on their change of policy—on their professed new friendliness for Turkey and for the German Powers. If they will only completely revert to the statesmanlike policy of Lord Beaconsfield, as seems now not impossible, they may still find a way of escape from their many embarrassments.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) had that day repeated the statement he made yesterday as to there being a state of hostility between this country and Germany.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, that his observations did not apply to the events which had taken place in the last fortnight.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that the hon. Member had spoken of the German Government as being unfriendly to this country. The Government failed to find anything cold or reserved in their commuications with the German Government, and the tone of the German Press was certainly in their favour. Her Majesty's Government was very sensible indeed, and was bound on all occasions to express its sense of the cordial recognition of its good intentions and single-mindedness by the German Government.