HC Deb 03 July 1919 vol 117 cc1224-5

What is the other guarantee? The other guarantee is the Army of Occupation. There are some who attach more importance to that than others. The French people, very naturally, would like to feel, at any rate until Germany shows evidence of good will—evidence that she means honestly to execute the Treaty—that they have that force on the Rhine. But I am perfectly certain of this: that France doe not wish to keep an Army there for a. single day beyond the absolute necessity of the case. Because there is peril in an Army of Occupation. There are unfortunate possibilities in an Army of Occupation. France does not desire to keep an Army there merely in order to be able to occupy German cities. If Germany shows her good will, if Germany gives the necessary guarantees for the execution of the Treaty, then France is quite prepared to reconsider at the proper moment the question of occupation. The second matter, which is a very important one in respect of occupation, is its cost. We are indirectly interested in that, inasmuch as we are interested in Germany paying her instalments of the indemnity. We do not wish to impose upon Germany any unnecessary expense that would be a first charge upon a fund in which we are just as much interested as any other country. Therefore we have had an understanding with France that the moment the German Government carry out their undertaking with regard to disarmament, the cost of the Army of Occupation shall not exceed 240,000,000 marks a year. I do not know what the value of the mark is to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Three pence!"] At any rate, I think that is a satisfactory arrangement, and I propose to put on the Table of the House a document signed by M. Clemenceau, President Wilson, and myself, which notifies that arrangement. That does not require any sanction. It is simply an indication on the part of France of her intention.