HC Deb 10 May 1915 vol 71 cc1357-8

asked the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the continued breaches of The Hague Convention by the Germans, such as the poisoning of wells in South Africa, the use of poisonous gases in France and Flanders, the murder of non-combatants and the destruction of property without inquiry on the high seas, the bombardment of unfortified places, the looting and destruction of libraries and private houses, the sinking of unarmed and peaceful fishing vessels, and the inhuman treatment of British prisoners in Germany, the Government intend to continue to allow Germany to pray in aid the articles of The Hague Convention, as in the case of the "Ophelia," when it suits her purpose, while breaking any article which causes her inconvenience; and whether the Government are taking any and, if so, what steps to bring officially to the notice of the signatories to The Hague Convention the gross and repeated breaches of the Convention by the enemy? Before putting the question may I, as an explanation, say that it was put down on Thursday before the committal of the infamous crime of the sinking of the "Lusitania."

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

This War was begun by Germany with the flagrant breach of a treaty, and it has been carried on with a progressive disregard of conventions and the previously accepted rules of warfare. The facts are universally known, and there is no object in approaching neutral Governments unless or until the latter are prepared to take some action in the matter. We trust that neutral nations are growingly realising that the issues involved in this War affect the whole of the civilised world and the future of humanity.