HC Deb 19 May 1919 vol 116 cc25-7

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Allies' peace terms have been handed to the German delegates at Paris, and have been communicated by them to the German Government and Parliament, His Majesty's Government will now submit these terms in full to this House, in order that Members and the British public may have the same opportunity of considering them, before discussion and Debate, as is now afforded to the enemy?


As I stated in answer to a question last week, this sub- ject was discussed by the Prime Minister with the heads of the Governments of the United States, France, and Italy, and it was decided not to publish the terms in-full. I am sure that the House will recognise that the same course must be taken in this as is adopted in the other Parliaments of the Allies, and will be satisfied in. the meantime with the very full and, I think, accurate summary which has been; already published.


Seeing that the enemy Parliament is discussing this question, is it not reasonable that at least we should have the financial clauses that relate to reparation?


I quite admit there is a great deal of force in the suggestion of my hon. Friend, and, as I mentioned to the House last week, I raised it myself with the Prime Minister. In consequence we had a very full discussion, and I am sure the House will recognise that we must accept the decision of those who have considered the matter.


Can the right hon. Gentleman not see the distinction between allowing the House to have the terms without giving them the opportunity for Debate? Why cannot we see the terms, even if we do not press for the opportunity of discussion?


Really, my answer dealt precisely with that. As I said, I thought myself the suggestion was so reasonable that I specially raised it with the Prime Minister. We discussed it at some length with the heads of the Allied Governments. They had reasons which I cannot put before the House for thinking that undesirable, and I am sure the House will be ready to leave the discussion of these matters to their recognised representatives.

Colonel THORNE

Is it not a fact that the Germans themselves know the terms of the Treaty? If they know them, why-should not we know them?


That is really the same question, but, as a matter of fact, I doubt whether the full terms have been published even in Germany.

Lieut.-Colonel A. MURRAY

Is it not possible that the full terms will be given by the Berlin Government to the National Assembly before this House knows them? What advantage will there be in that?


I have said that the subject was discussed. Reasons were brought forward at that discussion. I cannot give them to the House, but, of course, this is only for the time being. As I said in answer to another question, after the 22nd the subject will be reconsidered by the heads of the different Governments.