HC Deb 04 July 1918 vol 107 cc1860-1
Sir J. BUTCHER (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs under what circumstances a number of aeroplanes are being supplied from this country to the Chilian Government, and whether the action of His Majesty's Government in furnishing these machines to Chile is not calculated to arouse apprehension in other Latin-American Republics.


The facts referred to in the first part of my hon. Friend's question may be easily stated. Our Admiralty were anxious to obtain a Chilian battle cruiser building in this country. The Chilian Government assented in the most courteous and obliging manner to the surrender of the vessel. But they pointed out that their action had the inevitable effect of disorganising their whole naval programme and effecting an important reduction in their naval strength. For this no payment based on the cost of the ship could afford full compensation, and they suggested that the gift by His Majesty's Government of a few aeroplanes, in addition to the money price, would be gratefully received. We were glad to meet their wishes. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree with me that the opinion hinted at in the last part of the question has not any solid foundation. In the first place, the effect of the whole transaction, consisting as it does of the gain by Chile of a few aeroplanes and the loss by Chile of a battle cruiser, can hardly cause alarm in any of Chile's neighbours. In the second place, I hope and believe that public opinion among the great republics of South America has reached a stage which will make it utterly repugnant to them to settle disputed questions by a resort to war.