HC Deb 03 July 1919 vol 117 cc1223-4

Then comes another guarantee, the guarantee to which I have already referred, in regard to which I propose to ask the leave of the House to introduce a Bill, and obtain the approval of the House —that is the United States and British guarantees—-in the event of a wanton and an unprovoked attack being made upon France. I do not suppose that any section of the House would object to that. It is to be entered into with the approval of the League of Nations. But the League of Nations is an experiment, and France has within living memory twice been invaded by Germany. She is, with a population of 40.000,000, facing a very hostile popula- tion of 60,000,000 or 70,000,000, and France has legitimate reason for feeling a nervous apprehension. When Britain has gone-home, when America has left 3,000 miles between her and the coast of France, and when those gallant men from the Dominions who have fought so bravely on French soil—the Australians and the men of New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, who won the deepest affection in France—have departed, France sees herself there with only the Rhine between her and this foe which has trampled upon her ruthlessly, and torn her flesh twice within living memory. Therefore France says, "We would like to know that you, Britain, that you, America, who helped to emancipate our soil, are still behind us if there is any wanton aggression." I invite the British Parliament to say, "Yes."


That shows a lack of faith in the League of Nations.


I do not agree that that is a lack of faith in the League of Nations. On the contrary, the League of Nations will be of no value unless it has-behind it the sanction of strong nations, prepared at a moment's notice to stop aggression. Otherwise the League of Nations will be a scrap of paper. I know it is said that this binds you to engage by the side of France in war with Germany, if ever it should happen. No ! It only engages us if there be wanton provocation on the part of Germany. That is clearly and distinctly stated in the document itself. If there be a wanton attack on the part of Germany—which I do not anticipate, because I think Germany has had enough —I cannot imagine anyone hesitating for a moment to come to the aid of that gallant country which has suffered more than any other country in the world from this wanton aggression. I, therefore, propose to invite the House of Commons to sanction and approve that agreement.