§ Order for Second Heading read.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Cecil Harmsworth)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
This is a Bill for carrying into effect the Treaties of Peace between His Majesty and certain other Powers, and they are, as the House is aware, the Austrian and the Bulgarian Treaties. The House will also be aware that the Bill itself calls for no detailed examination by the House or by the Minister in charge of it. It is merely concerned with investing His Majesty with the powers necessary for carrying out the business that follows the ratification of peace. When this Bill has been passed by Parliament and by His Majesty, then the Treaties of Peace with Austria and Bulgaria will have been ratified so far as this country is concerned. I think the House will pardon me if I do not, in the very brief address that I propose to make, go into any very great detail in connection with these Treaties. Certain specific points I shall venture to touch upon, but to examine, chapter by chapter and article by article, these two great documents, I am sure, would not meet with the wishes of the House and in any case would be a work of supererogation, for the House is aware that, although we have the power to reject these Treaties, we have not the power to amend them in detail I would venture at the outset of my statement very humbly and respectfully to warn the House against a certain attitude of mind that has been adopted very largely in regarding the Peace Treaties with our former enemies. This attitude has been expressed with singular literary skill by Mr. Keynes in his well-known book on the Peace Conference in Paris, a book which it is possible to road with great pleasure, although it is not always necessary to agree with Mr. Keynes' views. The attitude I indicate amounts to this: it is the attitude of a man who, surveying the several Peace Treaties so far as they have now been drafted, seems to assume that if any of these Treaties' fall short of what he thinks 1698 is desirable, the fault lies altogether with the high contracting parties who have acted for the Allies.
That to me is to stand the situation on its head. We were not responsible for the War; we were not responsible for the devastation following from the War. The Allied Powers are not responsible for the deplorable economic situation in Central Europe. It is no fault of ours if the ancient Empire of Austria has crumbled into its component parts. The task that was set the Plenipotentiaries in Paris was one of superlative difficulty, especially in relation to the Austrian Treaty. I would venture to say again that we should regard this situation from the point of view of men who, through no fault of their own, had been confronted with enormous political and economic difficulties and, in my judgment, have made an exceedingly good job of the very refractory materials they have had to handle. I say with regard to the Austrian Treaty that we should bear in mind that the Peace Conference had to deal there with a conglomerate State, comprising no less than ten different races and ten different languages. If there are any defects in the Austrian Peace Treaty, I repeat they are not to be laid to the charge of the statesmen who have sought to resolve those difficulties, but they belong to the inherent difficulties of the case and to the misdemeanours of those statesmen in the enemy countries who have brought their countries to ruin. I go so far and I am so bold as to claim for the Austrian Peace Treaty that it is an eminently satisfactory one in the peculiarly difficult circumstances of the Austrian case. I will go further, and I will claim that in some respects it is a lenient and even an indulgent treaty.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ An Amendment to reject this Bill appears on the Paper to-day. I shall be keenly interested to hear the views of those hon. Friends of mine who have taken upon themselves to move the rejection of the Bill. In regard to Austria, I would ask them what are the specific parts of the Treaty to which they take exception, and, again, what constructive suggestions would they have been able to make had they had a hand in framing the Treaty themselves? There has been in the Press and elsewhere much reference to the alleged mutilated state of German Austria. How could the dismemberment of the Austrian Empire have been 1699 avoided? It is well known to every Member of this House that in long past years men looked forward with the gravest apprehension to the break-up of the Austrian Empire, not because merely they foresaw the enormous European troubles that might arise from it, but because they also knew of the political troubles that must necessarily follow from the fact that so many of the component parts of the Austrian Empire were anxious to set up political houses of their own. Is it to be suggested that an enforced union, let me say, between Hungary, Czecho-Slovakia, and German Austria should have been continued and maintained by the Peace Conference in Paris? It is not through any remissness on the part of the Peace Conference that the Austrian Empire proper is reduced to so small a fragment of what it was formerly. It is due to the fact that so many of these nationalities and peoples have desired to cut themselves adrift from German Austria. How could the Peace Conference have done otherwise than have helped them to give effect to their wishes? The drawing of the boundaries must have been a task of immense difficulty, and the House is aware that in some minor particulars it is not even yet definitely settled. I do not say that inconveniences and hardships have not been continued. This is unavoidable where populations have freely intermingled and where defensive frontiers have needed to be established. The House perhaps will allow me to touch upon one or two questions which concern the frontiers of the German-Austrian State. I understand it to be alleged—in fact it is suggested in the Amendment—that in the Austrian Treaty, and, indeed, in the Bulgarian Treaty, the principle of self-determination is rudely violated. I venture to think that that charge has been greatly and gravely over-stated. To which of the geographical boundaries is that charge meant to apply? Is it in the Tyrol. Here, undoubtedly, a German population numbering, I am told, some 250,000 people have been included within the new frontier of Italy. I would venture to suggest to the House that, great as is the principle of self-determination—and there is no warmer supporter of that principle in this House than I am myself 1700 —there is another principle, and it is that of strategic necessity. I think my hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Colonel Wedgwood) will find that when we deal with our own affairs we very strictly adhere to the principle of strategic necessity.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
Indeed, I think we shall find when we come to deal with Ireland that the question of strategic necessity does to some extent affect our determination of the question of the Government of Ireland. Is it on the Hungarian border that the complaint arises? I speak with diffidence and reserve on matters which really are only fully familiar to experts or to people who have lived in those countries, but I am told in regard to the population occupying the former Hungarian Western territory that they are predominantly German. Is it in Klagenfurt? The House is aware that in that debatable area a plebiscite is about to be held. Is it on the side of Czechoslovakia? How could the State of Czecho-Slovakia ever have been established if minute and meticulous regard had been had to the principle of self-determination in regard to the various elements of that population? I think it is agreed that the German population coming under the new State of Czecho-Slovakia is pretty well content with its position. I am sure that it is true that it could not have been withdrawn from that State without rendering the establishment of the State impossible. I say nothing of the Jugo-Slav frontier. The situation in that region, as the House is well aware, is much too delicate still for profitable discussion. But in regard to all these questions we can assure ourselves, when we regard the statesmen from all the Allied countries who have patiently and minutely examined them, and most of whom, be it observed, had no special national interest to serve in the rearrangement of German-Austrian territories, that they gave the fullest consideration to every point in an admittedly intensely difficult problem.
I have said that in some respects this is a lenient and even an indulgent Treaty. I would ask those Members of the House who have not done so to look, for in- 1701 stance, at Article 222. Here it is laid down that if the former enemy States of Austria-Hungary and Bohemia desire to enter into free trade relations the one with the other the Allied Powers will not claim similar trading facilities. I think you will have to search far in the records of international agreements for so large and generous a concession to a former enemy population. Again, hon. Members might study carefully Article 224. It is true that under the terms of the Treaty German-Austria loses the greater part of her coal area, not through any fault of remissness on the part of the Peace Conference, but because those coal areas lie to the largest extent within the areas dominated by other populations who have sought and have found liberty for themselves. If the Clause be examined, it will be found that the Peace Conference went to the very greatest trouble in providing for the necessities of Austria with regard to coal. The main body of criticisms with regard to the Austrian Treaty, however, has been directed to Article 88. It is that Article which forbids German-Austria, except under circumstances which have not yet arisen, to ally herself with another Power. It may be convenient for Members who have not a copy of the Treaty with them if I read the actual words—The independence of Austria is inalienable otherwise than with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations. Consequently, Austria undertakes, in the absence of the consent of the said Council, to abstain from any act which might directly or indirectly, or by any means whatever, compromise her independence, particularly, and until her admission to membership of the League of Nations, by participation in the affairs of another Power.There, again, I shall be much interested to hear the adverse criticisms, if any are offered on this Clause.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Might I ask what is meant by the words "participation in the affairs of another Power"?
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
I should say it means alliance or league with some other Power, but my Noble Friend is far more familiar with the deliberations in Paris than I am. He is well aware that I myself was not present throughout the proceedings and am not fully aware of all the reasons that underlie the language used. I should have thought, however, that the Clause meant to imply in general 1702 that German-Austria is not to enter into league with or become part of some other foreign State.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
The House, I am sure, will agree with me that I ought to be very diffident in expressing any opinion or giving interpretations.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
If my Noble Friend occupied my position, I think he would be more careful even than I myself in declining to give any definitions which might possibly be quoted as authoritative on future occasions
§ Mr. HOGGE
This afternoon we are being asked to agree to this Treaty. My hon. Friend, however uninformed he may be according to his own speech, ought to be put in possession of the definition of those terms by the Leader of the House, for example, so that he can tell the House what they mean if they ask us to agree to them.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
My right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) will participate in the Debate later. He is more familiar with the proceedings in Paris than I am, and no doubt he will be able to satisfy my hon. Friend opposite and my Noble Friend behind me. It is alleged in some quarters that the Reparation Clauses are too severe. There, again, I invite the House, before attaching the fullest importance to criticisms of that kind, to refer to the Clauses in the Treaty which prescribe what the Reparation Commission can do by way of amelioration. Our own attitude towards reparation in Austria is sufficiently indicated by the fact that Sir William Goode, whose name is familiar to all of us as British representative and director for the relief of Europe, has been appointed special British representative on the Austian Section of the Reparation Commission. I might perhaps venture to remind the House again of a point that is too often overlooked. Since the conclusion of the War, the Powers of Europe and the Allied Powers in general have acted towards their former enemies with a magnanimity that surely has no parallel in the history of wars. In the relief of Europe, beginning with the work of Mr. 1703 Hoover, no less than 1,000,000,000 dollars have been spent in friendly, allied, and in enemy countries, and it is reckoned by Mr. Hoover himself that not more than 320,000,000 dollars of that vast disbursement is recoverable or ever will be repaid, and the House knows that here there is no feeling of animosity against our former enemies in Austria.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
We need not go back to that, surely, to-day. I am speaking of a generally accepted fact, that there is not in this country any feeling of bitter animosity as against the people of German Austria, and certainly there is no feeling of that kind on their part. It is notorious that we, with other allies, are almost embarrassingly popular in the old German-Austria kingdom. I will touch more briefly on the Bulgarian Treaty. I do not understand it to be complained that the indemnity that has been demanded of Bulgaria is excessive, or that the method of its exaction is needlessly embarrassing or inequitable. The sum has been fixed at some £90,000,000 in gold, and it surely should not be beyond the powers of Bulgaria to discharge this liability in the prescribed period of 37 years. Again, in regard to this comparatively modest requirement the Reparation Commission is given large powers of discretion. Nor do I understand it is seriously contended that Bulgaria has been treated with hardship in regard to her territorial possessions.
Lord R. CEGIL
May I ask one question merely of explanation, if it is possible for my hon. Friend to give me an answer? Can he tell me what is the sum that is transferred to the allied powers under Article 124 of the Treaty, under which, as I understand it, the debts of Bulgaria to the German powers are transferred to the Allies? Of course, that makes a considerable difference in favour of Bulgaria, because it means that she is free from those debts in consideration of her paying £90,000,000 to the allied powers. I should be glad if my hon. Friend could give me any indication of what is the amount involved in that transfer.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
I am afraid I do not carry it in my head, but in the course of the Debate I shall be able to inform 1704 my Noble Friend. Let me, for a moment, refer to the frontier of Bulgaria with Jugo-Slavia. As I understand, the adjustments made there are territorially not extensive, and are meant to safeguard—and this is their only object—the vitally necessary railway communications between Nish and Salonika. It will be surely not an unreasonable proposition that the Jugo-Slav State, subject as it has been in former days to repeated attacks by Bulgaria, should be in a position to protect one of the main railway arteries of that kingdom, and it is exceedingly doubtful whether the population in that district ardently desire to be associated with the Bulgarian State. As regards Western Thrace, Bulgaria, as I understand the situation, has no claims whatever on the ground of population. I think I am right in saying that the majority of the inhabitants are Turkish. There is a large Greek minority, and there is no reason to suppose that the Turkish population have any desire to be joined to the Bulgarian people. By far the most important Article in the Treaty, to my mind, is that which relates to the access of the Bulgarian State to the Ægean, and I would, in this connection, if I may, refer the House to Article 48, I think it is, of the Bulgarian Treaty that is concerned in this matter. The House is also aware that this particular point has not yet been definitely settled.
For the rest, there are satisfactory indications that Bulgaria is reconciling herself to the terms of the Treaty, and I am glad to take this opportunity of stating with what pleasure His Majesty's Government have observed that the new Prime Minister, M. Stamboliski, has boldly set to work to cleanse Bulgarian public life from the corrupt influences which centred round the, Court of the ex-King Ferdinand. It is the earnest desire of His Majesty's Government that Bulgarian policy may systematically adhere to this course, and by so doing pave the way towards a permanent reconciliation with her neighbours and the foundation of an enduring peace in the Balkans. As I have said, I have not dealt at length or in detail with these two important documents. They are before the House for its acceptance. It is with the greatest confidence that I invite the House to proceed with all convenient despatch to the passing of this Bill. If Members will turn to the lists of signatories to the two instruments with 1705 which we are to-day concerned, they will find among them the representations of all the Allied Powers that have borne the almost insupportable burdens of the recent War. These are the names of victorious powers—the names of powers that, in spite of victory, gained nothing by the War commensurate with their sacrifices. If every farthing of the material cost of the War were exacted by the victors, yet would they be poorly compensated for their immeasurable losses. I claim that in these Treaties there is no suggestion of a Carthaginian peace. Indeed, it will be found on careful consideration that in these Treaties, as in the case of the German Treaty, it is sometimes the victors who have suffered the greatest measure of material loss.
The Amendment on the Paper invites the House to reject the Bill. I imagine that the hon. Members in charge of the Amendment would be no less distressed than other Members of the House if they proved successful in their attack. It is to me inconceivable that this House and this Parliament should deliberately destroy so important a part of the work of the Peace Conference. It has been a wearisome task to draft these Treaties, and in that work statesmen from all the Allied counties have laboured unceasingly for weeks and months. They have done so, I venture to affirm, in no spirit of tyranny or revenge. Indeed, I do not hesitate to say that on no occasion in the history of mankind has so much painful care been exercised to secure that Peace Treaties should carry with them no legacies of unappeasable resentment. Two main purposes run through these Treaties. The first is the just punishment of wrongdoing incalculable in its moral and economic effects. The second is the prevention, so far as it may be humanly possible, of similar wrongdoing in future years. As regards the latter purpose, our best hope lies in the League of Nations. The text of the Covenant of the League stands in the forefront of these Treaties, as it does in the case of the German Treaty. If I may put this point, my own official work during the last year and more confirms me in my view that the highest and best opinion of civilised mankind, as enlisted in the League of Nations, is our surest guarantee for the permanence of such Treaties, as I have the honour to submit to the House for its sanction and, as I trust, for its unanimous approval.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I should like to be allowed to congratulate my hon. Friend on the admirable manner in which he has discharged a particularly difficult and delicate task. It is so easy to say too much, and I think he has kept the golden mean between too much and too little in a manner worthy of an old Parliamentarian. I should like—and I am sure I shall be expressing the opinion of the whole House—to re-echo the admirable admonition with which he concluded his speech, that the best hope, and indeed the only hope, for the prevention of the recurrence of the terrible evils which have led to these Treaties is in the prompt and effective operation of the League of Nations, which represents and commands the confidence of the whole civilised world. The two Treaties which are referred to in this Hill are dated, the Austrian one, I think, as far back as September of last year, and the Bulgarian Treaty at the end of November. I think it is to be regretted that there has been such a long interval in the process of ratification—whatever may be said of the merits or demerits of these instruments themselves—because we must all be painfully aware that every month's delay, with the uncertainties which delay necessarily carries in its train, have tended to aggravate rather than to cure both the political and the economic chaos which prevails in Central Europe. It is, therefore, with the greatest gratification that we find that period of suspense has come to an end, and whatever criticism can be made on the Treaties there will no longer be any risk of people in that part of the world being in doubt as to their immediate future.
In regard to the Bulgarian Treaty, which is the less important of the two, I have very few words to say. It is a tragic illustration of the Nemesis which, in the ease of small as well as of great States, always sooner or later attends a shortsighted and a selfish policy. No new State ever started its life under better auspices than Bulgaria. Although a new State it had great traditions. It was, and is, inhabited by one of the most virile and progressive populations in the East of Europe. It was with the universal goodwill of Christian Europe that it was emancipated from the rule of the Turk. Its course for a considerable number of years was one of almost uninterrupted pros- 1707 perity. Almost immediately it absorbed Eastern Rumelia. In the course of time, by a series of events which culminated in the Balkan Wars of 1912–13, it extended its boundaries as far, at one moment, as the Enos-Media line. That extension was subsequently curtailed in favour of Turkey by the Treaty of Bucharest, 1913. When the War broke out in 1914, Bulgaria was in the position of an enlarged and prosperous State. There was no State in Europe which had less reason to join the Central Powers, and Turkey then had Bulgaria. It was an act without justification, excuse or pretext.
For a year after the War broke out Bulgaria's attitude was that of a State waiting on Providence—and I use the word Providence in a non-committal sense—waiting to see, to use the vulgar phrase, how the cat would jump. At last, under the evil inspiration of a bad King—there is no good mincing words—she joined the Central Powers and Turkey at a very critical moment in the fortunes of the War. If Bulgaria had either remained neutral, still more if Bulgaria had taken the course she ought to have taken and joined those who were responsible for her original emancipation and constitution as a State, the supply from Germany to Turkey of munitions of war, without which Turkey would not have been able to withstand our operations in the Dardanelles, would never have taken place; Bulgaria bears a very heavy load of responsibility for the prolongation of the War and all the sufferings and evils which it involved. The measure of her mistake is to be found in a comparison with her area as it was when the War broke out, and the shrunken dimensions of her frontiers as they are exhibited in the map annexed to this Treaty. I cannot, therefore, say, even if I were disposed to be hypercritical, that the Powers have dealt harshly with Bulgaria. I do not think they have. At the same time—my hon. Friend opposite has already called attention to it—it is no part, and ought not to be any part, of our policy, or the policy of any of the Allied or associated Powers permanently to humiliate or impoverish Bulgaria. On the contrary, it ought to be our aim to do what we can to facilitate her reinstatement on sound lines of policy and of administration. I trust that prompt and 1708 practical effect will be given to the undertaking which is contained in Article 48 of the Treaty on the part of the Allied and Associated Powers to ensure an economic outlet to Bulgaria in the Ægean Sea, for within the frontiers as laid down by the Treaty, Bulgaria is landlocked.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
I am referring to the Ægean. I am sure it is of great importance, not only to her future developments, but to that of the whole of the Balkan States, that these economic outlets should be provided in an effective form without avoidable delay. That, I think, is all I have to say upon the Bulgarian Treaty.
I come now to the Treaty with Austria, upon which it is impossible, notwithstanding the very plausible and persuasive argument of my hon. Friend who has just sat down, to pass a wholly favourable judgment. I need not say that I have no temptation or disposition to extenuate the part played by Austria in the War. She was really the protagonist in the struggle. But for her the War had never broken out; at any rate, it might have been postponed for years, and perhaps entirely averted. We must never forget that. It would be idle to minimise her responsibility for the disasters and widespread consequences which have ensued. Nor do I in the least dispute the proposition that the Under-Secretary laid down a few months ago that the dismemberment of the artificial conglomerate, such as always was the Austro-Hungarian Empire at its best, was an inevitable incident of the Peace. But a fact, I think, which has not been borne in mind in the provisions of this Treaty is this: that Austria-Hungary with all its appendages of dependent or subordinate States was, and had been for many years, to the mutual advantage of all its parts, a complete economic unit. The new States will have to be evolved, and evolved largely on ethnological lines, though I quite agree with the remark made by my hon. Friend that you must not carry ethnology into what I may call abstract regions. There are strategic and other considerations which come in to temper what I may term the pure logic of ethnology, but the new States will have to be evolved mainly and primarily on ethnological lines.
1709 But in my judgment it is all-important, in that necessary redistribution of sovereignty and of territory that the integrity of the old economic unit should be maintained. It is not enough to say that under the Treaty the different and now separated factors or ingredients of what was once the Austro-Hungarian Empire can enter into commercial relations with one another. They ought never to have been put into a position to do otherwise. From the first they would, I am sure, have acquiesced without any difficulty if such a proposition had been insisted on by the Powers. They ought never to have been put into a position in which they were able to erect economic and commercial barriers between themselves, and what remains of Austria. The fact is that the course, unhappily adopted in this respect, will have the effect, unless it is corrected, and corrected rapidly, to use an expression once current, of Balkanising that part of Europe. One of the great reasons of the constant unrest which Europe, and, indeed, the world, has had to suffer from in the Balkan Peninsula during the whole of my lifetime, has arisen from that very kind of separation between small States, ethnologically distinct from one another, and entitled, therefore, prima facie, to the ordinary rights of sovereignty within their own areas, but capable of waging against one another, under the influence of ambition or selfish interests, not only military but economic warfare. That has been a source of constant unrest in the Balkan Peninsula. I think it would be of the worst example to have a re-creation or repetition of that state of things. Of this I see some very menacing and disquieting symptoms in these new States which have been carved out of the old Austrian Empire.
I am not going to say much, nor indeed anything—I will confine myself to a single observation—on the question of the delimitation of frontiers. There is a good deal to be said by way of criticism—as my hon. Friend has acknowledged in the case of Czecho-Slovakia—of the merger of, in some cases, homogeneous German and other populations in which is to be, for all intents and purposes, a Slavonic State. But I know too well the difficulties that arise when a population is not evenly separated in blocks, but is 1710 distributed, as it were, in pockets—in all the different areas—the difficulties of making anything like a perfect ethnological demarcation, to be hypercritical about that. I wish, I confess, that the principle of self-determination, direct self-determination, which has been acknowledged, and I think properly acknowledged, in the case of the Klagenfurt Enclave, could have been more widely extended to other parts of what was the Austrian Empire. On the main point I think we are entitled to ask for an explanation—indeed, we have been promised it—as to the meaning and effect that is to be given to the concluding words of Article 88.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
(Leader of the House): Perhaps it will simplify discussion if I say all I can say on that right away. If my right hon. Friend will look at the words he will see that they say that Austria is not allowed to do anything which will interfere with her independence particularly in regard to commercial treaties. In my view the meaning of that is perfectly definite that Austria may make any treaty not incompatible with its existence as an independent State.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
If that is so, the words are singularly ill-chosen to represent the meaning of the authors. The words are these—I am quoting textually from Article 88, page 24 (General Provisions):The independence of Austria is inalienable otherwise than with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations. Consequently Austria undertakes, in the absence of the consent of the said Council, to abstain from any act which might directly or indirectly or by any means whatever compromise her independence, particularly.This is the point—Particularly, and until her admission to membership of the League of Nations, by participation in the affairs of another Power.If my right hon. Friend will tell us what is the authorised version of that, we shall be very grateful.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I can, but I am not in a position to defend the language. The meaning, I think, of what is intended is perfectly clear, and I think the meaning is this:Consequently Austria undertakes, in the absence of the consent of the said Council, to abstain from any act which might 1711 directly or indirectly or by any means whatever compromise her independence particularly,this is the point—but by participation in the affairs of another Power.That is to say, any agreement with any other party which compromises her independence. That is certainly what is intended.
§ Lord R. CECIL
I think the House should clearly understand what is the meaning of the words "and until her admission". Does that mean her admission into the League of Nations? The provision is that she is "not to participate in the affairs of another Power," which really means that she is not to become part of Germany without the consent of the League of Nations. Then the article goes on to say that she is not to make any agreement which will compromise her independence, particularly and until she comes into the League of Nations. I really do not understand what that means.
§ Colonel S. PEEL
That refers to a clause in the Constitution of the new German Empire which provided that delegates should come from the new German Austria to sit in the new German Parliament, and I think that is what participation in the affairs of another Power refers to.
§ Mr. ASQUITH
The hon. Member seems to have some special source of knowledge which is denied to us. I pass from that to a point which I indicated, and which to me is the real gravamen of criticism against this Treaty, namely, the absence in the creation of this new State system in Eastern Europe of any provision for free commercial intercourse between the various States. In order that these new States—and I include German-Austria itself—should prosper and develop, it is essential to provide that there should be free trade and a common railway system between them. To show that I am not dealing with an imaginary danger, let me read a few lines from a circular which I saw in one of the papers a few days ago from an eminent and well-known firm in the City, whose business leads them to deal largely in Continental exchange, and these are the words they used:Economic chaos and distress in Central Europe are largely attributable to the mak- 1712 ing of new political frontiers for the many small States. These frontiers resolve themselves into economic barriers which prevent that free interchange of food and commodities which were enjoyed by the larger States before they were cut up, and the large railways are now controlled and hampered by each little State through which they run.That is a practical illustration which has already come into being of the shortsightedness of these omissions from the Treaty. Let me ask the House to look for a moment—I know that hon. Members are very desirous of coming down to the real concrete details—at the position of German-Austria itself, the contracted, mutilated, curtailed German-Austria which the Treaty has brought into existence. Austria is reduced to a State, I suppose, at the outside of a population of about 7,000,000. That population is distributed in the proportion of very nearly two-thirds in the towns and one-third in the rural districts. German-Austria is an industrial country, and not one that can feed or supply itself. It has always been dependent on the other parts of the old Austrian Empire for its supplies of food and raw material and, indeed, to a large extent, for coal.
What is the position now? The Czechoslovaks refuse to supply Austria with coal, and instead of sending Austria sugar, as they used to do under the old régime, their surplus supply of sugar is sold to France. Jugo-Serbia refuses to supply foodstuffs to Austria, and Hungary is either unable or unwilling to do anything of the kind. The situation has been aggravated, as this eminent commercial firm point out in the circular from which I quoted, by transport difficulties and railway difficulties which need not exist, and ought to have been prevented. What is the result? Austria cannot get coal because she cannot pay in goods, and she cannot do that because she cannot get the coal to produce the goods. The shortage of rolling stock hinders the transport of the goods that could be given in exchange, and the scarcity of agricultural produce has led to the control of foodstuffs and to artificially enhanced and aggravated prices, and the main support of German-Austria during these months, as the Under-Secretary well knows, has been the 48,000,000 dollars which she has received from the United States.
Let the House observe the result. By means of that credit of 48,000,000 dollars 1713 from the United States, German-Austria has been enabled to obtain a limited quantity both of coal and food, and we have seen this bizarre and fantastic spectacle; coal coming from America to Vienna crossing on the railway coal coming from Czecho-Slovakia to Italy, and sugar coming to Vienna from Cuba while Czecho-Slovakian sugar, at the same time, has been coming in the opposite direction, and has been exported to France. Can you imagine a more topsy-turvy system, or can you imagine anything more calculated to the economic development of these new States? I press this point very strongly on the Government because it is not provided for. It is all important, and it is a condition precedent to restarting industry on free and fruitful lines, not only in German-Austria, but also in all these new States brought into being, where it is necessary that you should recreate economic unity, without which they cannot fairly develop their own resources
I pass now to what is, after all, a relevant and in some ways an interdependent topic, and one which was dealt with very lightly by the Under-Secretary, I mean the reparation provisions of the Treaty. They are framed, as I read them, on the model of the German Treaty with very little modification. I need not quote them, because they are familiar to all who have read the Treaty, but I would refer to Article 181 of the Austrian Treaty, which provides:Austria shall pay in the course of the years 1919, 1920, and the first four months of 1921, in such instalments and in such manner (whether in gold, commodities, ships, securities, or otherwise) as the Reparation Commission may lay down, a reasonable sum which shall be determined by the Commission.Those are the governing words of the article, and I need not read the concluding part. What is the effect of that? It ought to be read in connection with the provision to be found in an earlier article handing over by way of reparation and compensation for the damage done by Austria of a specified number of cattle, milch cows, swine, and other beasts. What is the effect of that. It is quite true the Reparation Commission have it in their discretion, if they please, either to postpone or perhaps altogether to forgo the handing over of this stock. They have it in their discretion also if they are so 1714 minded to mitigate or postpone the fulfilment of the obligation which I have just read from Article 181. But the fact remains that this Commission, on which Austria is not represented, is given by the Treaty, to use the language of business, a floating charge over the whole enterprise and industry of the inhabitants of German-Austria for years to come.
How can you expect any country, let alone a country impoverished, as German-Austria has been, by the circumstances to which I have already adverted, to restart with energy and success its economic life under such a burden as that? The thing is unthinkable. Much misapprehension prevails on this matter, and I am not using this argument in any spirit of tenderness for the Austrian Government, or even for the Austrian people, because they deserve to suffer for what they have done and for the injuries they have inflicted. By every consideration of international law, justice, and even of humanity, they are under an obligation to make such reparation as they can for the injuries they have caused. What could be more short-sighted, given those propositions of mine in their fullest and largest sense, than to drain, tap, and impoverish in advance the only reservoir out of which you can get to flow that stream by which they can best fulfil these obligations? That is the real criticism of this Treaty. I am sorry to have detained the House so long, but these are points which really go down to the root of the matter and which involve, I will not say the honour of the Allies, but the possibility of a righteous, lasting and fruitful settlement, such as we all desire, of this great international problem which has been cast upon us by the War. In my judgment the Treaty should be revised in the light of these facts and of the experience we have now gained. In the meantime—and I know the difficulties and obstacles which stand in the way of anything like an immediate revision in these days—in the meantime I want very strongly, but with the fullest possible conviction of the justice and expediency of what I am suggesting, in the best interests of the Allies themselves, and of civilisation, and of the world, to urge upon the Government first that the total burden that is to be imposed upon Austria 1715 under the provisions of the Treaty should be carefully and promptly defined in amount by the Reparations Commission, on which, I think, for this purpose, it would only be fair and right you should include a representative of Austria. There may be differences of opinion about that, but I do not think there can be any difference of opinion as to the importance and urgency of substituting for these indefinite charges something which is known, something which is measurable, and something which can be met. Unless that is done the whole industrial future of Austria will be impoverished, and you will have what I will call a motiveless people, deprived in advance of any real incentive to make the best of the resources, both in men and material, which they possess. I would very strongly urge that.
Next I think, and I trust the Government may take the same view, that the Allied Powers of their own initiative, or perhaps it might be better by suggestion to the League of Nations, should insist on the disarmament of these new States. The case of Austria is adequately provided for by the Treaty. Its army is to be reduced to very small proportions, to the number, I think, of about 30,000, and it can be very well kept in check. Its army is to be on the basis of a fixed ratio per thousand men. The importation and exportation of munitions is prohibited; the domestic manufacture of munitions for the purposes of the army is strictly limited and provided with proper safeguards. All her warships are to be surrendered, and those under construction are to be broken up. That is to say as complete and effective steps are taken as can possibly be desired to prevent the resuscitation or, as some people would prefer to say, the recrudescence of Austria as an armed Power. I am not criticising these provisions of the Treaty at all, when I say if that is done with regard to Austria I think steps ought also to be taken, promptly and effectively, to deal with these small States not in any spirit of hostility but to prevent the growth of armaments. I am told that the Czechoslovaks have already passed a law for compulsory military service and that they have a deficit of something like 5,000,000,000 kroner, which is mainly due to military expenditure. It is 1716 monstrous that this new experiment in free national life under the ægis of the great Powers of Europe and of the League of Nations should be clogged, disfigured even crippled, because it must be crippled, in its early infantile stages of existence by a gross and wholly unjustifiable expenditure on armaments. I strongly urge, and indeed I ask the Government, that provision should be made in that respect for what is an admitted and a deplorable lacuna.
It follows from what I have said that German-Austria itself, and those lands which were previously constituent parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, should be given clearly to understand that, in the opinion of the Powers, and of the League of Nations, it is essential to their future prosperity, and for peace and order in Eastern Europe, that they should drop their policy of economic exclusion and irritation and treat themselves as one economic and commercial union. If these-defects in the Treaty were promptly and effectually supplied I should be prepared to wait for further experience before its-complete revision, but so long as these defects exist I must regretfully give it as my opinion that the Treaty in itself as it stands does not provide effectual safeguards for the peace and prosperity of Eastern Europe.
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which in the case of Austria places unreasonable economic-burdens on that country, and in the case of both Austria and Bulgaria violates the principle of self-determination and contains the seeds of future wars.After the five years of war and misery through which we have passed it is only with a deep sense of responsibility that I rise to move the rejection of a measure which is calculated to be at least a milestone on the road towards that new world for which very many thousands of lives were sacrificed. There are some who say, "Sign the Treaty, sign any Treaty and get it out of the way, and let us get back to work and to normal conditions." Such arguments would hold good were the revision required merely a revision of some Clauses of the Treaty, but the revisions which we demand are fundamental and 1717 go to the very constitution of the Treaty. We admit that under the provisions of the Treaty there is very wide scope for the revision of some of the Clauses, but that revision could take place much more quickly and with much greater celerity by providing a new Treaty for the peoples of Austria and Bulgaria. This Treaty deals with both Austria and Bulgaria, and I hope I shall have the support of hon Members on both sides of the House in drawing attention to this matter. The two Treaties deal with the peace, stability and future tranquility of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, and surely it would have been bettor if the Government had seen fit to bring in two Bills and to allow these two important measures to be discussed on different days. This is a typical example of the Government disregard for Parliamentary institutions. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Harms-worth) did not deal with these Treaties by chapter and verse. Anyone who has taken the trouble to read through these very voluminous documents—and I hope before long they will take the trouble if they have not already done so—will find a number of details which require immediate attention. I am going to confine myself this afternoon to some of the fundamental issues in these Treaties.
Let me deal first with the Treaty affecting Bulgaria. In 19718, before the Armistice was signed, it is, I think, generally admitted that one absolutely predominant factor which brought about the collapse of the morale of the Bulgarian army was the declaration uttered on every possible occasion, that the future settlement of the Balkans would be based on the principle of self-determination. That was, I think, the fundamental factor which brought about the demoralisation of the Balkan army. But in the Treaty we find no attempt whatever to introduce the principle of self-determination. The old Treaty of Bucharest, which was recognised by none of the Allied Powers, and which was in fact only recognised by Germany, is now to be brought into force so far as the Bulgarian people are concerned. In Macedonia there is an admitted population of at least a million Bulgars. I do not suggest for one moment that it would be desirable for Macedonia to be ceded to Bulgaria, but at least some provision should be made for the very considerable number of Bulgarian people which exist in that country. We 1718 know the conditions of strife that prevail and if those territories which contain large Bulgarian populations are to be subjected, without reserve or qualification, to the rule of the Turks, the Greeks and the Jugo-Slavs they are bound to form the scenes of future trouble. I suggest it would be far better to concede to Macedonia, or a portion of it, complete autonomy and to use the influence of the League of Nations to bring about a rapprochement between Serbia and Jugo-Slavia and the people of Bulgaria. In the north Tzaribrod has been transferred. There seems to be no reason, politically and strategically, why it should have been transferred to Jugo-Slavia, to rescind except it be, possibly, the reason that Sofia would virtually be within range of bombardment by the Jugo-Slavs. I see no other reason for transferring that large indentation of country which surrounds the town of Tsaribrod to these people. The same might be said of Bosiligrad, where the population is predominantly either Bulgarian or Macedonian.
Western Thrace is claimed by Greece, and before 1913 it was very thinly populated. After the Balkan wars, that country became the home of Macedonian refugees, of whom there are estimated to be approximately 150,000. Those people—Turks and Pomaks (Bulgar Moslems)—are content to live there under Bulgarian rule, although, probably, if a plebiscite could be taken, they would prefer to be under Turkish rule. If that territory is given to Greece—and there appears to be no alternative to giving it either to Greece or to Bulgaria—it would mean that that poor population of refugees would have to move into other territory. I do not know the reason for this large donation of territory to the Greeks; I can only imagine that it is for the purpose of satisfying the aspirations of the Greek Imperialists. I have no doubt that France, with her extensive financial interests in Greece, is largely responsible for pressing this on the Peace Conference in Paris. Whilst referring to that neighbourhood, may I say a few words regarding the town of Kavala. There are two large ports open to Bulgaria on the Ægean, namely, Dedeagatch, which has already railway communication to the centre of Bulgaria, and the very fine natural harbour of Kavala, which, although it has not yet 1719 sufficient railway communication, might soon become an important port in the south of Bulgaria. Until the status of one or other of these two ports is definitely settled, the economic situation in Bulgaria cannot be stabilised. I am speaking, not merely from the point of view of Bulgaria, but from our own selfish, sordid, commercial aspect. It means a great deal to British trade to be assured that these ports are free to the commerce and industry of any country. If they are placed under the control of Greece, or of some country which is hostile to the Bulgarians, there is no doubt that that hostility will be shown by a restriction of the flow of trade and commerce between Bulgaria and the open sea. If neither of those ports is made independent or given to Bulgaria—which latter would be a far better solution—commerce will have to proceed up the Dardanelles and through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea, which means an addition of at least 400 or 500 miles. I understand, from reports which have appeared in the Press, that M. Venizelos has declared that he would be prepared to accept international control of one or other of these ports, and I very much regret that, in bringing this Treaty before the House of Commons, and asking us to ratify such a Clause as this—
§ Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—
I very much regret that the Government have seen fit to bring this Bill, and with it a Treaty in regard to Bulgaria, before the House, leaving this vital point undecided and undefined. From the reports of Sir William Goode and others who have been to Bulgaria, it will be seen that that country, perhaps almost alone among the countries of Eastern Europe, was gifted last year with a large harvest. With the present world shortage of food, surely it is essential that this question of a port should be decided with the utmost celerity. Any Peace Treaty which the House is asked to ratify will be of very little value if this important military point is left undecided. In Section 4, Articles 49–57, of the Bulgarian Peace Treaty, the question of the protection of minorities in Bulgaria is referred to. In Bulgaria there 1720 have been few, if any, allegations of suppression or maltreatment of minorities. There are 40,000 Jews in Bulgaria, and I have never heard of a Jewish pogrom there. There are 15,000 Armenians in Bulgaria, and I have never heard of any massacre of Armenians there, in fact they are allowed every freedom and privilege possible. The Armenians in Bulgaria have their own Bishop. Complete protection is now demanded for the minorities of other races in that country. I do not disagree with that Clause, which is a very right one to include in a Treaty with a late enemy; but I consider that there should be included in this Treaty a converse provision in the case of the other countries surrounding Bulgaria, which have been enemies of Bulgaria for so long. Provision should be made that those countries shall afford adequate protection to subjects of Bulgarian extraction domiciled within their territory. I remember, when Bulgaria came into the War against us, what a terrible blow it was to those at the Dardanelles. I do not think the Bulgarian people as a whole were responsible for bringing their country into the War. I believe I am right in saying that it was solely the result of the intrigues of the King and the Court circles. I would go further, and say that I believe it would have been possible, at the time of the entry of Bulgaria into the War in 1915, by greater diplomatic pressure on the part of Great Britain and her representatives in Sofia, to have kept Bulgaria out of the War. I do not, however, wish to develop that further, but would let bygones be bygones. If Albania remains undivided, and is treated wisely by Italy; if Macedonia, or at any rate portions of Macedonia, are granted autonomy; if Thrace is not Greek; if those ports leading to the Ægean are either placed in Bulgarian hands or guaranteed by international control; if the people of the Dobruja are merely given a plébiscite, which is all they ask—I think the legitimate claims of Bulgaria will be satisfied. I believe that if the Dobruja, which has been given to Rumania, is granted a plébiscite, at least one-third of that little corner which has been transferred to Rumania will prove to be overwhelmingly Bulgarian. They are quite prepared to admit that Con-stanza, the port on the Black Sea, and all the territory to the north of that port are 1721 likely to declare in favour of Rumania. The least we can ask, in justice to the principle of self-determination, is that those areas which are cut away from the main country, and given to a former enemy, should be conceded the privilege of a plébiscite before being finally and irretrievably placed under the domination of Rumania.
At the same time these sections are being subjected to the domination of nations who were formerly their enemies; the extent of the Army in Bulgaria has been restricted, while no similar restrictions have been placed on the armies in the surrounding countries. That is bound to lead to war in the future. If Bulgaria is left in the centre, disarmed, with her armies restricted, while surrounding her there are Rumania, Greece and Jugo-Slavia with no restrictions on their armies, and liable at any moment to make new inroads and to re-assert themselves on their former enemy, I consider that that is merely sentencing Bulgaria sooner or later to complete political and economic annihilation.
I wish to discuss the treaty with Austria from three separate points of view, namely, reparation, the economic point of view, and the ethnographical point of view. As regards reparation, it seems to me that the Treaty with Austria has been compiled with the idea that the former Austrian Government was responsible not only for carrying on the War against its enemies, but for continuing to prosecute that War on States which were carved out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the War. I do not think there was ever any spirit in Austria corresponding to the spirit in Germany before the War. I do not think one would say there was any spirit in Austria corresponding to the Pan-German spirit which was so dominant in 1914. There was no world spirit There was no intention for world domination on the part of the Austrian Empire before the War, and I do not think there was anything like the foolish, worked-up, organised propaganda of hate between the Austrian people and the Allies as existed to some extent between Germany and Great Britain. The War with Serbia was not a war organised by the Austrian people. It was provoked, so the evidence goes to show, by a small handful of militarists. With the idea that German-Austria was one of the 1722 principal criminals in the war, German-Austria alone is to be compelled to pay an indemnity. German-Austria, as it is now intended to exist, occupies barely a ninth of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
As in the case of Germany there is a complete lack of definitiveness or declaration as to the amount of the reparation. It was stated that after two years the Reparation Commission may issue its-report and decide on the extent of that amount, but any person who has read the report of Sir William Goode, anyone who has read the reports coming from that part of the country, knows what a delay of two years means. It may mean widespread suffering. It may mean the deaths of thousands of children. This amount should be fixed at the earliest possible moment. Until the exact amount is determined what financial firm would consider for a moment placing any money or commencing to undertake the exploitation or the assistance of that country? All the natural resources, all the forests, all the mines, all the railways, all the ships which used to belong to her, and even the taxes, are mortgaged on behalf of the Allies. While that condition exists, how is it possible for Austria-Hungary to set the wheels of commerce and industry going again? With certain exceptions, the pre-war debts and other loans which are held, I am informed, by French capitalists, the new States; which have been carried out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire are not responsible for the payment of the loans issued during the War. The people in neutral countries who hold Austrian war loan will be able to obtain cash for it on the Austro-Hungarian Government. What is the result of that? Any subjects in the new States which have been formed out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire have only to send their scrip to a neutral country to have it cashed to the account of the Austro-Hungarian Government in Vienna. It is in these Slav States where the war profiteers and the people who made money out of the War reside, and those States are capable of paying anything that is required. There is a very important precedent as to why the new States carved out of the old Empire should be called upon to shoulder the obligations of their mutual debt. I refer to Russia. It has been frequently admitted that Soviet Russia, where they 1723 have completely changed their whole system of internal administration, the border States and the Baltic States must all share their responsibility with regard to Russia's pre-War debts and obligations. Why, if this applies to one country, should not the same rule be made to apply to any other?
I turn next to another more tragic section of the reparation Clauses. On page 49 of the Treaty it is enumerated that thousands of milch cows, heifers, bulla and calves—
§ Lieut.-Colonel BURGOYNE
I beg to call your attention, Sir, to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
The House has just been counted, and 40 Members were found present.
Sir William Goode, who returned recently from that country, in his report speaks of numbed children in the snow-covered streets begging for the food that is not there. Later he says:The inability to obtain a ration in itself insufficient to support human life and the misery of hundreds and thousands, who in the early winter snow shiver without heat or the hope of getting it, is bad enough but it is nothing compared with the apathy and helplessness and loss of all hope which is pervading every class from the highest to the lowest.No one reading that Report, and at the same time reading the harsh and cruel suggestion to deprive Austria-Hungary of these thousands of milch cows and other animals, but will be smitten with the injustice and falsity of this treatment. Such a provision in the Treaty is the final blow of a conqueror to his victim lying squirming in the mud. I hope before this Treaty is ratified the Allies will take the earliest opportunity of bringing before the League of Nations suggestions for modifying the reparation clauses in regard to those items.
I now deal with the economic side of the Treaty. Vienna is a town of approximately 2,250,000 inhabitants. It has been said, perhaps to some extent rightly, that Vienna is built up of a parasitic population. That applies to all large towns. It applies to Paris and to London. All the large capitals and all large towns which are centres of im- 1724 perialistic empires and large capitalistic States are bound to be largely bureaucratic or parasitic populations. But if statistics go to show anything they show that Vienna at least is not worse than other large towns. In 1912 526,000 workmen were insured against accident in Vienna. That shows that the industrial population is not negligible. That town was dependent for its industries on its relations with the States which are now being dismembered from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. What has been the result of that dismemberment? In spite of the safeguards in the Treaty that the Czechs were to supply a certain amount of coal and other commodities to Vienna, the very opposite has been the result. Imagine what would happen in London if all the industrial districts of England were taken away, and the mouth of the Thames was controlled and placed in the hands of a hostile country. The whole population of London, dependent as a focal point on the industrial life and commerce of England, would very soon be deprived of its means of livelihood, and that is exactly what is happening in Vienna. Under these clauses there is no evidence at all that any safeguards have been introduced which will ensure that Czecho-Slovakia and the other countries will supply German-Austria with the goods she requires. What has been happening all this time? Coal has been demanded from Czecho-Slovakia. The Czechs refused to supply it unless they were given in return arms and munitions. The Austrians quite rightly refused to supply arms, which would, doubtless, only be used against the Socialist Republic of Hungary. Although there was considerable animosity, no doubt, between the bourgeois Socialists of Austria-Hungary and the late Socialist Republic of Hungary, they did not desire to supply arms for that purpose. Czech officers arrived in Vienna and tried to obtain the arms by threats, but unsuccessfully, and I believe many Austrian workmen were shot down by these Czech officers. At the pressure of the Allied Commissioners and the British Commission, a certain amount of coal has been supplied, but quite inadequate to meet the needs of Vienna. The provisions of the Treaty cannot really ensure amicable relations between Czecho-Slovakia and German-Austria.
1725 I will now turn to the ethnological point of view. We heard during the War a great deal about self-determination. The fruits of these Treaties and the fruits of the Government's policy, both as regards our own possessions and the countries which are dealt with by these Treaties, lead one to conclude that self-determination is only applied if and when it is considered desirable to apply self-determination. In Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia it is estimated that there are at least 3,000,000 Germans. The Czechs have refused a plebiscite in that area, but, fortunately, there has been an unofficial plebiscite which gives statistics of the relative populations in those countries. A short time ago the elections to the Town Councils of Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia took place. In Bohemia the Germans polled 33.1 per cent. 2.14 per cent., and in Austrian Silesia 66.8 per cent., a very considerable majority per cent., a very considerable majority of that country. While these elections were in progress the country was held by the Czech troops, and there are cases which have come to my notice of atrocities committed in that area on the German population by the Czech troops. I do not intend to deal with that now, and only mention it to show that these elections were carried out under conditions which gave no favouritism but rather imposed disadvantages on the German population. If we are going to apply the principles of self-determination to any of these countries, the very least we can do in the interests of justice and humanity is to let them be submitted to a plebiscite before they are placed definitely under the domination of another country. In Czecho-Slovakia 500,000 Ukranians who have been placed within the boundaries of Czecho-Slovakia, have been granted autonomy. Why are not the same privileges extended to the German populations of Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia?
Under the Secret Pact of London the Southern Tyrol was promised to Italy. It has a population of 242,255, and of this population only 2.8 are Italians. Surely there is no reason, certainly not from the ethnological point of view, to place this country under Italian jurisdiction. It is said that the Tyrol is placed under Italy on strategical grounds. Surely it is much better to bring about freedom and to work for amity than to put a section of the 1726 country under a country to which it has never stated that it wished to be subject, and to carve up the country for purely strategical purposes for the sake of a possible future war. The Tyrolese have always been a free people. When Napoleon had subjugated nearly the whole of the continent of Europe, the gallant little Tyrolese, under Andreas Hofer, rose up to oppose that mightly personage. The name of Andreas Hofer was a name to conjure with in Great Britain. A loan was proposed in this country at that time in order to support Andreas Hofer against Napoleon, but, unfortunately, as so often happens, the loan arrived too late. I hope it will be possible to reconsider these items of the Treaty before putting these people firmly and irrevocably under Italian jurisdiction. The same remark applies to other sections of the territories which have been carved out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Styria, the Southern territory has been given to the Southern Slavs. In Lower Austria, the territory has been ceded to the Czechs. In Western Hungary, territory has been given to German Austria. I am not discussing the right or the wrong of these actions. What I do say is that surely before transferring these territories—which every expert will admit is a doubtful matter—they should be submitted to the test of self-determination, and the people should be allowed to choose by plebiscite. Corinthia is the only country where a plebiscite is being carried out in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. There three zones have been arranged, and I cannot see why, if it is possible in a small section of territory like that to cut it up into three zones for the purposes of a plebiscite, you should not adopt the same principle for Moravia, Bohemia and Austrian Silesia. These are the main points which have led me to oppose these Treaties, but there are minor points which require revision and alteration.
It is with the deep sense of responsibility that I propose to delay the conclusion of peace with these countries, but I feel sure that, by revising the Treaties now before they are ratified, by modifying at least in its essential points, a solution can be arrived at much quicker than if it is put into operation in its present form, and the events which such a Treaty would bring about in Eastern Europe are allowed to take place. It has caused the widest 1727 consternation and unrest amongst millions of people in Eastern Europe. Perhaps, having received the coupon at the last General Election from the Prime Minister and from my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, it would appear to be rather ungracious on my part at this point to oppose a Treaty which they have made in Paris. If I considered that this Treaty had been drawn up in the spirit of the declaration made so frequently during the War, and during the period which led up to the election campaign, I should have no hesitation in supporting a measure for ratifying this Treaty. Apart from the academic sections of the Treaty, which are of no reality, the remainder of the Treaty gives one the impression, and brings before one's mind, the picture of a man torn by the wolves of capitalism and the wolves of imperialism, a limb thrown here and a limb thrown there, a limb torn off here and another torn off there, and the bloody corpse left lying like the corpses that remained on the field of Amritsar, without even a modest palliative. Whoever wishes to secure peace, to secure freedom from the curse of militarism, and to secure a better world for his children, must protest with all his strength and powers against this sham peace of violence and of greed.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I beg to second the Amendment.
The party for whom I speak have no hesitation in dissociating itself absolutely from these two so-called Peace Treaties. They give the lie to the 14 Points of President Wilson. They have no connection with self-determination of peoples. As to their economic Clauses, the very statesmen who have passed them are so ashamed of them that they cannot put up any defence of them. In old days there used to be a gentleman called Cato the Elder, who used to finish all his speeches by saying "Carthage must be destroyed." He did eventually secure its destruction, It is some satisfaction to find that in England there is no statesman who can get up to support these Treaties, which are for the destruction of our late enemies. The sympathy of the House goes out to the hon. Member opposite for having to defend these Treaties. They were passed nearly six months ago, and people are now beginning to see what these Treaties mean. 1728 They see that they mean the starvation of the women and children of Vienna. They see the conditions that have been produced by these so-called Peace Treaties. Being ashamed of them, they are trying to revise them. At the same time the hon. Member opposite has to support them in this House. I do not envy him. I know that in the privacy of his chamber he shares our views.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
This is not the privacy of your chamber. An official must necessarily support Treaties made by his chief. What are we to say for Treaties which even their very creators find it necessary to scrap in six months? Look at the Austrian Treaty from its economic side. Does the hon. Member really wish to be a Cato the Elder and support the economic side of the Austrian Treaty? Does he really think that anything can be got out of Austria, with the kroner standing at 800 to the pound? Does he not know perfectly well that since the Armistice, instead of getting money out of Austria, we have been continually pouring money into Austria by way of poor law relief and help of all kinds? What is the use of clauses demanding the extraction of the last milch cow and the last farthing from people to whom we are sending milk and money? The economic side of the Treaty is ridiculous. We are told that we cannot possibly have any sympathy with Austria, and that Austria was the prime mover in the War. We know that Austria was an Empire and a Monarchy whose foreign policy was ruled by an Emperor and a military caste, and that the people who are suffering in Austria to-day are not the military caste, not the ex-Emperors who flood foreign soil, but the miserable proletariat of that country who have no chance of ever securing their future so long as these Peace Treaties stand. Anyone who knows Vienna knows that there is no chance of getting the country on its legs again so long as an indefinite indemnity for reparation hangs over the country. Capital will be invested in the country, loans would be made to it, everything would be done to put it on its legs again were it not for the indemnity provision. How do you expect anyone to advance money to a country like Austria as long as the 1729 machinery for which the money was being advanced, the raw material sent to the country to provide work to set the people producing goods, and all those goods themselves are liable at any moment to confiscation by the Reparation Committee, a Committee dominated by the countries that require the reparation?
If the Reparation Committee were purely English we might have some faith that no reparation would be exacted from the starving countries, but it is not English. It consists of Italians and French who are anxious to get what is possible out of the war. As long as that position remains no one is likely to invest money in salving industry. The economic Clauses, therefore, are hardly worth fighting for. The authorities know that they have got to be revised. Every speech in this House will urge that there should be no immediate demand of the indemnity from Austria. Even the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister, in a speech which supported the Coalition, so far as any speech can be said to support their policy at the present time, put in a plea for the removal of this indefinite indemnity. Unless that is done, everybody in this House knows perfectly well that there is no chance for Vienna, and that what we shall see there will be the crumbling of civilisation and the disappearance of that city.
Look at the other side of the Treaty, the question of the boundaries. There is everything done in that Treaty to prevent Austria recovering. All the factories whose headquarters are at Vienna have been carefully put into Czecho-Slovakia. There has been no attempt to secure any form of boundary which will allow economic independence for Austria. Not only coal mines, but sugar factories and nearly every factory, the company headquarters of which are at Vienna, will be found outside the new German Austria and as a rule where the rulers are bitterly hostile to the Austrians. The right hon. Gentleman speaking from the Front Bench seemed to think that all would be well if only the tariff barriers were removed from Czecho-Slovakia and Austria, and if there were no tariff boundaries between Jugo-Slavia and Austria. That would not meet the difficulty in the least. At present you have got Governments who exercise absolute powers in every direction. You have to get permits to export anything. In all 1730 those countries corruption is more rife than it was in any country in the world before the great war. People get permits to import goods, and people buy coal from Czecho-Slovakia, but not a pound of coal is ever allowed to come. Corruption is rife throughout the whole country, Government action being omnipotent, is the real difficulty you have to face at the present time.
But we do want to put things right. The Government want it, as the Supreme Council are now seeing that the present policy is rather futile. This can only be done first of all by bringing pressure to bear on these people to put their finances in order and that depends, first of all, upon fixing the amount of indemnity which they will have to contribute. If you watch the exchanges of these various countries you will see how they vary. In Poland there are 800 marks to the £1; in Rumania 350; in Hungary about 900, as against 25 before the War, and in Austria 800 as against 25 before the War. You will find that the exchange fluctuates with extra ordinary rapidity. In fact, the only one of these new eastern countries where the exchange is at all reasonable or steady is Czecho-Slovakia itself, which shows more signs of recovery than any of these other countries. The first thing to do is to insist that they should put their finances in order and not indefinitely go on printing paper money. It is this living on paper money which is the source of the instability of the exchange and the impossibility of lending money to industries in this country to enable them to get ahead. The urgent necessity of bringing pressure to bear in that direction must, of course, go hand in hand with an international or a national loan to facilitate trade with these countries, such as the £26,000,000 revolving credit which was passed the other day in order to encourage trade. That is the way in which we can again see civilisation revived in those eastern countries.
But I shall pass now from the economic side, though our charge against the Treaties on their economic side is, I feel certain, shared by the Government, though they deny it to-day. I pass to the question of the boundaries. I believe that I voice, not only the feelings of the Labour party, but of every man in this House, when I say that we resent above everything else the cession to Italy of the Southern Tyrol, a purely German-speaking 1731 country, where many of us have been, the land of Andreas Hofer. Just as always in the past we not only sympathised with Italy in the Italian desire for the recovery of the Trentino, but in times past actually helped Italy to recover Italian territory, so now in future we shall sympathise with the natural desire of the Germans in the Southern Tyrol to be restored to the mother country. It is a country of heroes, a country which should not be severed from Austria and handed over to Italy. We know why it is done. The Labour party protests against these boundaries being laid down, not on ethnographical lines, but simply to follow that secret treaty which pledged us to Italy in the year 1915. It is against the acceptance of these secret treaties that is laying up all the difficulties for the future, and storing up another sore, which is always ready to create a fresh war, and indeed many people will think, and they may be justified in thinking, that in providing this new sore militarists, not only in Italy, but in other parts of the world, had their wits about them, and prepared to keep an open sore as an excuse for keeping open barracks.
The Tyrol is one example, but the whole Austrian boundary provides example after example of precisely the same thing. Slices of territory are taken away either in accordance with secret treaties or on the excuse of making scientific strategic frontiers. It is true that for some reason, possibly owing to some reversion to humanitarian feeling on the part of the Supreme Council, at Klagenfurt a plebiscite will be allowed to be taken. But further east, in Southern Styria, you will find Marburg connected up with Jugo-Slavia. In Western-Hungary there is an obvious place for a plebiscite, and no plebiscite is being taken. Presburg, at the gates of Vienna, a town in which there are not half a dozen Czecho-Slovaks all told, is handed over to Czecho-Slovakia, and you are going to have German strategical lands all around Bohemia handed over to Czecho-Slovakia without any plebiscite or any reference whatever to the fundamental principles on which peace was to have been based. There is very little that can be said in favour of this Treaty. The only thing which can be said in its favour is that it secures peace. But for 1732 how long will that peace be secured? The War which was to end war seems, indeed, to have ended in a peace which is to end peace, and unless the League of Nations takes a hand in the revision of these Treaties and revises them, no League of Nations on earth will ever be able to prevent a future eruption of the old disaffection.
I pass from the Austrian Treaty, with its bad economic side and its iniquitous boundaries, to the Bulgarian Treaty. The Bulgarian Treaty has its points compared with the Austrian. At any rate, the indemnity is fixed. It is fixed at £90,000,000. I wonder whether there is anybody who is mad enough to suppose that Bulgaria, a country purely of peasants, with no industries whatever, will ever pay those £90,000,000, because it is always a bad habit in the Balkans to inflict war indemnities and shut your eyes to the fact nobody ever pays them. But under the Bulgarian settlement as well you have got the same complete disregard of the principles on which the Armistice was signed. The alteration of the frontier at Tsaribrod, which the hon. Gentleman thinks is connected with the railway from Nish to Salonika, has nothing to do with that railway. He is thinking of the railway further south to Strumitza.
§ Mr. HARMSWORTH
I did not specify the particular alteration. I said the alterations which were to protect the railway.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That alteration at Tsaribrod has nothing to do with the railway. It is solely a strategic alteration to bring the Serbian army nearer the Bulgarian capital. The population is purely Bulgarian, and it is only an excuse to obtain a strategic front. It is a small matter. There are only fifty thousand people involved, but it is a typical example of the settling of these peace treaties and boundaries, just on the old lines which have everything to do with starting fresh quarrels, just as though we were working with the old dynasties of the past. This is not the most important question so far as Bulgaria is concerned. The question to Bulgaria more than anything else is Western Thrace. I wish to dissociate myself entirely from the views expressed by the right hon. Member for Paisley when he said that the Bulgarians as a 1733 people were deserving of punishment for coming into the War, Everyone knows that Bulgaria was dragged into the War by the kings, that the countries in the Balkans are more or less absolute monarchies, and that the fault is to be laid at the foot of the Bulgarian throne, and that in the old days all those countries followed a policy which was purely dynastic and had nothing whatever to do with the wishes of the people of the country.
If one could give to the people of the Balkans any sort of advice it would be to pack the whole of the kings off at once, get rid of them, and start some sort of republican organisation which would not allow the people perpetually to be dragged into war through the vanity and ambitions of their rulers. Western Thrace is a very vital question to Bulgaria. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the people of Western Thrace would be just as well satisfied with Greek rule as with Bulgarian rule It is fairly equally divided between Greeks and Turks and Bulgars, but quite recently not only the Bulgarians but the Turks also have petitioned Paris through the French Administrator, not to be put under Greek rule. They desire to be autonomous. I submit that when you have not only the Bulgarians anxious for an outlet to the sea but also have the direct interest of England in keeping the sea open, so that the trade from Bulgaria will come by sea instead of going overland through Germany via the Danube, we might try to assist so that they get a genuine opening to the Ægean Sea. Of course they got on in the old days without any opening to the sea, but there were no railways in those days. It was in 1912, I think, that they first got Dedeagatch as access to the Ægean Sea. That has been taken away from them.
We are told to refer to those special clauses of the Treaty where they are given free access to the Ægean Sea through some port hereafter to be found. Presumably that port will be Kavala. Surely we have had sufficient experience of the methods of those countries which control a port when other countries have treaty rights. It is almost recognised as an axiom that it is utterly valueless to obtain treaty rights of access to a port when another nation which controls the port does not want you to use it. I do not want to go into instances, but one 1734 could give many of them. There are many cases that we know where we are supposed to have acquired our right to trade, but where the right has been an absolute farce owing to the action of the occupying power. I suppose there are no two nations where, at present, there is more bitterness of feeling than there is between the Greeks and the Bulgars. You are definitely going to Greece and asking her kindly to allow facilities for Bulgarian trade. If the two nations got on well together it would be difficult enough, but between two such nations as the Greeks and the Bulgars it is perfectly hopeless. Bulgaria is a small country. I do not think that its trade will ever amount to much, but in the interest of British trade, and not merely in the interest of Bulgarian trade, we should have secured access to the sea for that country, so that we might get a fair proportion of the trade instead of the trade going, as it must do, up the Danube and into Germany.
The British Government, to be quite frank, is not responsible for either of these Treaties. No British Minister would have put his hand to either of them. The Government, I think, will not mind having a Division to-night to show that there is a certain feeling in this country which does not give way to the militarist spirit amongst some of our Allies on the Continent. Our object in dividing is that we want to press upon the Government the urgent necessity of handing over the administration of these Treaties, and particularly the reparation side, to the League of Nations, where they would be dealt with, it is true in many cases, by the same people but with less bitterness and with more of an eye to European solidarity and the reconstruction of a civilisation which at present is rocking to ruin.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I think it is worth while calling the attention of the House to the precise effect which this Motion would have. If carried, it would result in the delay, if not the abandonment, of the ratification of the Austrian and Bulgarian Treaties. There is no one who knows the economic position in Europe at the present moment who does not realise that already the ratification of these Treaties has been delayed too long. On that ground, if on no other, I should certainly invite the 1735 House not to share the views expressed by the last speaker. I hope my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will use their good offices with the Governments of the Allied Powers in order to secure at the earliest possible date that at least two of the other Allied Powers shall agree also to join in the ratification, because until the Treaty has been ratified by three of the Allied Powers it does not actually come into force, and until it or some Treaty does come into operation, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to go ahead with the economic reconstruction of Europe. My hon. and gallant Friend who spoke last has a habit of attributing always the worse possible construction to the motives of statesmen, and particularly the statesmen of his own country, in regard to affairs of this character. He went through a long catalogue of various questions connected with territorial adjustments in these Treaties. It is quite impossible and futile in this House to go point by point through all the geographical limitations and definitions imported into the Treaties. On these questions literally months were spent by the highest possible experts in Paris. The whole question was thrashed out on the one side and on the other. You have to take the best evidence you can get, and upon it form the best judgment you can.
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
Where a plebiscite is possible and desirable it has been made. I think it is idle for my hon. and gallant Friend to invite us to begin the work all over again. When we come to the economic question I think there is something more which ought to be said, at least by those who think that the Treaties, particularly that with Austria, are not quite as black as they have been painted by him and by the right hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith). I am far from taking up the attitude that the Treaty is economically ideally perfect. I do not think there is anyone who would say so. The right hon. Member for Paisley objected to the economic Clauses. He objected to them on the ground, chiefly, that they were breaking up the economic integrity of Austria, and that without economic union in Austria, 1736 or in what used to be Austria, it was idle to hope that Austria would ever recover sufficiently to be an economic force again. The House must remember that, economically speaking, the old Austria always was an absurdity. What is now German Austria was always an economic parasite on the rest of Austria. It was part of the deliberate policy of the Hapsburg régime. The successors of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire made Vienna a modern edition of Rome, in the sense that there they concentrated all the machinery of Government. They deprived the provinces more and more of all power and more and more centralised control at Vienna.
The Nemesis of that system has overtaken them and this economic difficulty, which I admit to the full, is present in the Treaty, not because of the Treaty, but in spite of the Treaty. It is part of the judgment of history on the actions of the old Austrian Empire. What is the real cause of the economic difficulty? It is the geographical and political disintegration of the old Empire of Austria. It was not the Allies who were responsible for that disintegration. It is true they have been responsible for defining to a certain extent the limits of the various new States, but with or without that definition new States would have arisen all the same. That is why I say it is part of the judgment of history. Take, for instance, the very question of food. The last speaker said that Austria was starving. In the old days from where did Austria draw the great bulk of her supplies? She drew them from Hungary. It is not the Allies who have divided Austria and Hungary, but Hungary herself who has insisted on the right of dividing herself from Austria. It is unfair and unfortunate that the right hon. Member for Paisley should appear to lend the great weight of his authority to the suggestion that the Allies have been in any way responsible for that fact. Granted that you have these geographical consequences you ought to insist that there ought to be the greatest measure of economic freedom and the breaking down of economic barriers between the different new States. I agree, but it is very difficult. I personally think that in a section of the Austrian Treaty, which was read out by the Under-Secretary, a good deal has been done in that particular direction. But how is it proposed 1737 you should compel them? The right hon. Member for Paisley says we ought to compel the new States to grant an economic Zollverein or intercommunication, but how can you do so? Are we to go to war to compel them? I must say that suggestion struck me as a little odd, contrasted with other speeches I have heard from the same right hon. Gentleman with regard to customs and excise in quite another capacity.
I should like to say I am much more in sympathy with the Treaty than with the remarks of the two hon. Gentlemen who have opposed. I should like to refer to one particular provision which I think in the present circumstances might well be considered by the Allied Powers with a view to reconsideration or, at all events, postponement: I refer particularly to Section 6 of Annex 4, which is the reparation part of the Treaty. That Section provides for the immediate delivery, pending the delivery of a certain amount of animals, machinery, equipment, tools, etc., to the Italian Government, and the Serb-Croat-Slovene Government and Rumania 6,000 milch cows and a considerable number of other live stock. I think, with the further knowledge of the situation which has been derived since the Treaty was signed, that this provision is one as to which it is very difficult to urge complete insistence at present. I am told that it is, strictly speaking, true to say that if you take into account Upper Austria and the Northern Tyrol the amount of livestock in this part of Old Austria is not appreciably less than it was at the outbreak of War, but on the other hand the condition of the livestock is very different indeed. One of the great difficulties about the shortage of milk, which is one of the chief shortages, is that Upper Austria and the Austrian Tyrol are making it exceedingly difficult for Vienna to get supplies. That again is partly in consequence of the old economic policy, of the Hapsburg régime. I desire to suggest that consideration should be given to the question as to whether it is not possible to do something to modify this particular provision. The second point is with regard to the Reparation Commission. Under the Treaty as it stands, by Article 179, the Austrian Reparation Commission is to constitute a section of the German Reparation Commission to consider the 1738 special questions which arise as to the application of the present Treaty. That section is to have consultative power only except in cases in which the Commission shall delegate to it such powers as may be deemed convenient. I say quite frankly I regard it as unfortunate that the Austrian Reparation Commission should be merely a section of the German Reparation Commission and should not be a body specially detailed with full powers for the purpose of considering all the questions of reparation. I am very much afraid this question of reparation by Austria will be apt to be overlaid very much by the more important Commission in regard to reparation by Germany. Therefore I should have hoped that the Austrian Reparation Commission would be made a separate body.
Even as things stand, I submit that the House must make up its mind to either trust to the justice of the Reparation Commission or not. If it is not prepared to do so, then it is idle to agree to the Treaty. In this Commission you will be setting up those who are the greatest experts you can find on the subject. The head of the Austrian section of the Reparation Commission, Sir William Goode, has probably much more experience of Austria than any other single Englishman. If you are going to set up a Commission to assess what Austria can pay, and can reasonably be expected to pay, set up your Commission and leave it to them. That I believe to be the only sound line. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley spoke about the desirability of urging on the new States, and particularly the new States in Austria, speedy disarmament and the avoidance of spending money on military preparations. I entirely agree. It is lamentable that at present money, which is badly wanted for reconstruction, is being spent again for purposes of destruction. But, let me add, that it would be also desirable if this process could be applied to the threat against which these new States have to contend, that is the threat of the menace of Bolshevist Russia, and unless you are prepared to take steps in that direction, I must say I think it is a strong measure to declare, for instance, to a country like Czecho-Slovakia that they should take no steps whatever and spend no money whatever on military preparations. I submit that the House ought to agree to the Second Reading of this Bill at once, and 1739 ought to reject emphatically the Amendment which has been proposed.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir SAMUEL HOARE
I find myself midway between the position taken up by the Under-Secretary of State and that taken up by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill. I do not go the length of the Under-Secretary in his laudation of the Treaty which he declared was eminently satisfactory, neither can I support the rejection. A wit said the other day that the Peace Treaty, and particularly the Austrian Treaty, had Bolshevised Russia, Balkanised Central Europe and "Bottomleyised" Western Europe, with apologies to the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley). I do not agree with that rather bitter description of the Austrian Treaty, but I am conscious that there are many Clauses of it which, in my view, are impracticable and can never be carried out. At the same time, I am not prepared to take the responsibility of delaying for one single day the ratification of the Treaty which, with all its imperfections, is most urgently needed in Central Europe. Indeed, if I have any criticism to make against the Government it is that they have delayed too long the ratification of a Treaty, which was signed as long ago as September, and has been ratified by our Italian Allies many weeks ago. I hope that the Leader of the House, in his reply, will be able to tell us that the Treaty will be pushed through if possible to-day, and that it may go through all its stages to-day, and, if that be impossible, that it will be pushed through without any further delay, and that he will do his utmost to follow the suggestion thrown out by the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) to get the necessary number of Allies to make the ratification possible without further delay. The answer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the rejection is that if you ask any representative Austrian in Vienna or anywhere else whether he wants further delay, he will tell you that he would rather have the Treaty, with all its imperfections, ratified at once sooner than run the risk of further racial bitterness, further economic stagnation, and a further period during which it would be impossible to do what, in my view, is a most necessary thing in the 1740 interests of peace in Central Europe, namely, to disarm the military and civil population. If there is further delay all those three necessary things will be held up. I am quite certain that the people who will regret the delay more than anyone else will be the suffering population of Vienna and German-Austria.
That seems to me to be a complete answer to the hon. Members who have asked the House to reject the Bill, but that is not a complete answer to the fact that the Treaty does contain a number of Clauses which I believe will be found to be impracticable. I believe that it is impossible, and that it will be found to be impossible, to apply en bloc to German-Austria the greater part of the Reparation Clauses that are being applied to Germany. I believe, further, that it is asking for trouble to tell Austria by Article No. 88 that she may not of her own free will unite with the Germans in South Germany if she desires it. I hope myself that we shall not have a union of that kind, but it does seem to me that if you wish to avoid a union of that kind the best way would be to leave it free to Austria, and not to encourage all the aggressive pan-Germans both in Germany and Austria to make a union which is forbidden under the Treaty. On the ground of self-determination, it is indefensible to tell the Germans of Austria that they may not unite with their fellow-Germans of the rest of Germany. Again, I believe that the Treaty makes a great mistake in exaggerating the political problem of Central Europe and in under-rating the economic unity of Central Europe. Let me say a word, and it shall be very short, for they have already been dealt with at some length, upon each of these points. First of all in regard to the attempt to apply to German-Austria the framework of the Treaty that has already been applied to Germany. I fully agree that the House of Hapsburg was fully as responsible for the War as the House of Hohenzollern, but I do not believe that the peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were as responsible as the peoples of the German Empire. And that practically is admitted, as we have now acknowledged that the greater part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire cannot be treated as enemy States at all, but that all the component parts of it, with the exception of Austria and Hungary, are our 1741 allies. In view of that and of the very different conditions that apply in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, I feel most strongly that the attempt to apply to Austria-Hungary, two parts of an Empire that hitherto was one and indivisible, very much the same terms as you are applying to Germany, is very unwise.
That does not mean for a moment that I exonerate the militarist class in Austria-Hungary for their part in the War, but I believe it will be found, when the attempt is made by the Reparation Commission to carry out these Clauses, that it will not be possible to isolate Austria-Hungary and to make populations, certainly in the case of Austria, that were very lukewarm and in many cases hostile to the War responsible for the full damage, as you are doing now under the Reparation Clauses. I have said a word as to what I think to be the mistake of attempting to prevent the union between Austria and South Germany. Now I come to the third point to which I made brief allusion, the neglect of the economic unity of Central Europe. That does not mean that I wish to underrate the sovereignty or the independence of the newly constituted succession States. I think that in the course of this Debate attacks have been made upon some of these succession States which have been exaggerated. Personally, I have always strongly supported the aspirations of these revived nationalities in Central Europe. It has been the considered and decided policy of the Allies to recreate these nationalities as sovereign States, and I think it would be the height of folly to attempt to go back upon that policy and to appear by our dictation or in any other way to be undermining the independence and the sovereignty of those States that we have purposely created. But having said that, I believe the framers of the Treaty could have gone a great deal further in bringing these various States together and, without any compulsion, in pointing out to them how absolutely necessary economic unity is between them. As it is, partly owing to the delay and partly owing to the fact that the economic conditions have been to some extent ignored in the Treaty, we are face to face with protection and particularism run mad in Central Europe. I had some opportunity of seeing the evils of that exaggerated protection in the course of the winter, and on that account I do most earnestly hope that the Repara- 1742 tion Commission as its first duty will attempt to re-unite the economic interests in Central Europe that as a result of the last year has been broken in pieces. The problem of Central Europe seems to me to be much more an economic problem than a political problem. I do not so much mind about the territorial adjustments, but I do mind very much about recreating an economic unity in Central Europe, without which Central Europe cannot exist.
Central Europe to-day is suffering from protection run mad. It is another form of militarism, and the two things which are most urgent—and I hope that as soon as the Treaty is ratified the British representatives will bring them into the greatest prominence with our representatives on the Reparation Commission—are first of all disarmament, and, secondly, an end to the exaggerated protection. One of the results of the delay that has taken place in the ratification of the Treaty has been that disarmament has been delayed. Central Europe to-day is suffering from armies far too great for any single one of the States to maintain. I agree with the reservation that my hon. Friend opposite made that, with the danger of Bolshevik Russia in the East, it is impossible for certain of these new countries entirely to disarm, but I believe there is no solution for our difficulties either in Eastern or in Central Europe until we see disarmament in Russia, in Poland, in Czecho-Slovakia, in Rumania, and in Jugo-Slavia, and I hope that the Disarmament Commission that I understand is now proceeding to Austria will not only succeed in carrying through without further delay the disarmament of Austria, but that the Reparation Commission, or whatever may be the appropriate body, will at once make an appeal to the other small States of Central Europe and attempt to bring about a general disarmament in Poland, in Czecho-Slovakia, in Rumania, and in Jugo-Slavia. I know that many other hon. Members are anxious to speak, and I will not take up the time of the House any further, but again let me urge upon the House not further to delay the ratification of the Treaty, with all its faults. At the same time I would ask the Leader of the House to bring his fullest influence upon our representatives, whether they be on the Reparation Com- 1743 mission or on whatever body they may be, to do all in their power to bring again to Central Europe economic unity, and to bring about disarmament in the new States that for the good of Europe the Allies have created.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I entirely agree with what my hon. and gallant Friend has just said about the necessity of avoiding any further delay, and indeed, for that reason, apart from others, I certainly could not vote for the Amendment. I see neither of the hon. Members responsible for the Amendment is present, but if they were here I think I should be equally safe in saying that neither of them could really contemplate with anything like equanimity a renewal of the Peace Conference, which of course would be the effect of the passage of the Amendment. Certainly, anyone who has had any personal experience of that strange body would desire anything rather than a renewal of its deliberations. I approach this Treaty, therefore, without the slightest intention of voting for the Amendment, but merely to consider whether it will produce a permanent peace as it stands. A good deal has been said in this House and elsewhere about the justice of these terms, or even the terms against Germany, but I have never been able to see that the question of justice arises at all. There is no means of weighing it as a matter of justice at all. We believe that these Powers were responsible for the War, and if they were responsible there is no punishment that is at all adequate, and the question of a little more or a little less reparation has nothing to do with it as far as justice is concerned. The question really is whether the peace terms are practicable, and whether they will make for a permanent peace. Therefore, I entirely agree that the question of importance is not the territorial question. That may be of some importance, and in some cases I think mistakes have been made, but not very serious mistakes, nor do I think they really matter very much. It does not really matter much who has most of these territories. They are not of any great value, the territories in dispute. If I may be permitted to say so without indiscretion, I always thought that during the Peace Conference much too much attention was devoted to these questions of 1744 territorial demarcations. My hon. Friend opposite said these questions were debated by the highest experts for months, and so they were, and yet if any Member of this House, any Member of reasonable intelligence—and they are all that—were given a map of Europe at the end of the War and were told to draw the boundary lines, they would not differ very largely from the boundary lines which were in fact fixed. Each man would make a little difference, no doubt, but the substantial difference would not be great, and I also thought it was a great pity that so much time was given to that, and comparatively so little attention was given to the far more important question of the economic arrangements, which really were vital to the peace of Europe.
Let me say a word about the Bulgarian Treaty. I admit that I have a little doubt about some of its territorial settlements. I think it very difficult myself to defend—and I shall be curious to see if my right hon. Friend will defend—the grant of Tsaribrod to the Serbian State I am very doubtful myself whether the settlement in Macedonia is likely to be permanent. I do not think, generally speaking, the territorial settlement of Bulgaria is objectionable. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel. Wedgwood) took great exception to the exclusion of Bulgaria from the Ægean, to which he knows under the Treaty Bulgaria is given access. It depends on the machinery employed for giving that access. I should have thought it was a matter on which the League of Nations was of great value. Apart from that, the access to the Black Sea is, or ought to be, a more satisfactory outlet from Bulgaria than before the War. Once you really internationalise the Straits you make the Black Sea a real part of the Mediterranean, and access to the Black Sea becomes very much more valuable. Therefore, I do not think there is much to be said in criticism of the Bulgarian Treaty, least of all of the reparation terms. I think the reparation terms of Bulgaria ought to have been the model for the reparation terms in both cases. They are perfectly reasonable in comparison with the Austrian. I do not know what the resources of Bulgaria are, but the sum seems a reasonable sum, and, as I understand, in return Bulgaria gets off her debts to Germany or Austria under 1745 her Agreement. Moreover, she is given considerable time to pay. The amount she has to pay up to January of next year is very small, so far as I can make out—not more than about £1,000,000 altogether.
§ Lord R. CECIL
And then my hon. and gallant Friend knows it is all under an Inter-Allied Commission of three members, and there is not the difficulty that generally arises in the Reparation Commission that any decision has to be unanimous, because it is a decision by the majority. Therefore, I think everybody will agree that the Bulgarian Treaty is a far more reasonable, practical and sensible document than the Austrian. But I must say, when I come to the Austrian Treaty, I do think it is a bad Treaty. Although I shall not vote for the Amendment, I must say I regret very much many of the terms of the Austrian Treaty. My hon. Friend said that we must not criticise the territorial arrangement. As I have already said, I do not think it is very important, though I must say I have grave doubts about it. It seems to me to fix a most astonishing boundary. Undoubtedly it does include in it a purely German population with a great German tradition behind it, and it leaves the bit of Austria to the north narrow and unworkable. It is all very well to say you want to avoid Austria going into Germany. But if you wanted to drive Austria into Germany, you could not have taken better steps than to cut off the Tyrol on the south, and leave practically impossible territory to Austria to administer. I know it is contended that they guard against that by Article 88. We have had a discussion about the exact meaning of Article 88. I am not quite sure I understand it, even with the assistance of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Colonel S. Peel) in explaining it. But if I do understand it, it means that as soon as Austria becomes a member of the League of Nations she can enter into any arrangements she likes, short of sacrificing her independence, with Germany. I do not think it much matters. I do not think Article 88 is worth a snap of the finger. As a matter of fact, if Austria desires to throw herself into the arms of Germany no Treaty can prevent it. She could always make some kind of agreement or treaty which would in effect place her under the control of Germany.
1746 It is the reparation terms, after all, by which this Treaty must stand or fall, and I must say the reparation terms are absolutely indefensible. Here is a State which can only live, and has only lived for months past, on charity—for that is really what it comes to—whose whole industrial life has been destroyed, at any rate for the time being, which cannot feed itself, which is almost destitute, in spite of my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for North-West Hull (Colonel Lambert Ward), who, if he will allow me to say so, in four days arrived at a different conclusion from those who had formed a conclusion after as many months, or perhaps years. I think he must have been mistaken. I have taken some trouble since to ascertain from those who have given very long and concentrated attention on the subject, whether he was right or wrong, and they all agree he was wrong. But whether he is right or wrong, what he said does not affect anything I have said as to the future position of that country. Here you solemnly put into an international document that she is to be responsible for the whole damages of the War to the same extent as Germany—that she is responsible for all those many items of civilian damage. I do not know what it is estimated at. I have heard it put at £8,000,000,000 and all sorts of sums. It seems to me a fantastic way of making peace. It is left absolutely indefinite. No one knows yet what it is going to be. It is going to be fixed, we are told, by the 1st May, 1921. But even if it is fixed it must be a fantastic sum in any case. How can you expect a State to recover economically if you do anything of that kind? It is to condemn her to a perpetual condition of insolvency. What is our experience in private life? We have had to erect an elaborate bankruptcy system because it was found impossible to leave a man to a load of debt he could never pay, and that, unless it was all wiped off, and he was given a fresh start, he was a useless member of society. You could not expect him to work or exert himself if the result of all his exertions was immediately handed over to his creditors.
That is what you have done in Austria. However she works, the whole of her money is to go to her creditors. That is a perfectly outrageous proposition to put in an international document. The right 1747 hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), I think, said, with great truth, that the entry of Bulgaria into the War was as indefensible as any act that was committed by our enemies. I quite agree, and it is not true to say that it was the work entirely of Ferdinand. I have the worst possible opinion of Ferdinand. He was an exceedingly wicked man and very cunning, but he was supported by a majority of his Parliament, which was elected on absolutely democratic lines. An overwhelming majority of his Cabinet supported him, and it is not true to say that he dragged an unwilling country into the War. They wanted to come in because they thought they were going to get something out of it. The whole thing was who could offer enough to keep Bulgaria on one side of the fence or the other, and since our conscience or our prudence was not quite of the same character as that of our enemies, they bought Bulgaria, and we did not. That is really what happened. Therefore Bulgaria has no kind of international claim in my judgment. Yet, she is treated absolutely different. Why is it? The demoralisation of the population is what everybody sees who comes back from Austria, even my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North-West Hull.
In Bulgaria it is different. It is said that there the people are working hard, and are already putting their country into order. You give them some power of recovery, but you have not done that with Austria, and that is the great vice of the Treaty. Of course, it is not only the moral effect which it has on the population. Indefinite liability makes it impossible to obtain credit. I think it had had some effect in throwing into confusion the finances of the Continent. They do not know what is going to happen, and they therefore hope for a great deal more than they will ever get, and therefore do not take the necessary financial measures. Not only is it intensely futile, but it is intolerably cruel to the population of Austria. My hon. Friend (Sir W. Mitchell-Thomson), who is a great supporter of the Treaty, or, at any rate, looks upon it with more favourable eyes than I do, admits that this evil has been greatly increased by this provision. You are going to destroy the milch cow, as it were, for months to come. I ask myself: why was not the amount fixed? It has 1748 been in the case of Bulgaria. I know of no reason except perhaps a very small difficulty of estimating the amount that should be paid. But I fail to see why there should be much more difficulty in the case of Austria than in that of Bulgaria. I know of no reason except the curious, and very bad doctrine, that the course adopted is the same as in the case of Germany. It is not only bad—but it is ridiculous!
Those who criticise are invariably asked, "What is your constructive policy?" I have protested more than once against that view as being one that of necessity can be taken, but I think there is in this case something to be said for it. We have the whole of the facts before us. I think anyone who deals with this subject should be prepared to indicate on what lines he would proceed. I therefore say that, in the first place, we must fix a reasonable amount of reparation, and that should be done immediately. We ought not to wait till May of 1921; it should be done instantly. The Reparation Commission have ample power to do it if they are prepared to. I quite agree with my hon. Friend (Sir S. Hoare) that you have to break down the economic barriers between these States. The thing is fantastic, indeed perfectly ridiculous. You have barriers not only between the States, but even between Provinces of the same State. You cannot trade at all. The present commercial and industrial system is an absurdity. You have, in my opinion, also to insist upon reasonable government, as far as you can, in these States. If accounts be true, the government in Hungary, at any rate, is very far from reasonable government. You have to insist that excessive military expenditure shall cease. This is most important. I would refer to what the Leader of the House said the other day with regard to Poland, in reply, I think, to a question, that the Government were not prepared to intervene in the internal affairs of Poland; or he used some phrase of that kind. I trust the Government are not going to persist in that somewhat Olympian attitude. It is really now part of our duty to re-establish peace in Europe. We cannot do that unless you get the thing upon a peace footing, and get a reasonable expenditure on armaments and things of that sort. I strongly believe that in these matters a good deal 1749 could be done even now to persuade the States to adopt a reasonable attitude. I believe, with my hon. Friend, that sufficient attention was not paid to these topics by the Peace Conference in Paris, which should have said, "Now that we are giving you your independence for the first time, you must be more reasonable about these various matters." If that had been done, I think you could have got a great deal more than you have got in the way of acquiescence. You have something. I should like to see it done.
Yesterday, or the day before, we voted £26,000,000 for credits for trading with these States. Why should we not say to them: "You shall not have a farthing of any of these credits unless you behave reasonably in the matter of armaments and tariff barriers." You will have to do this. The House knows that the League of Nations is about to set up an International Financial Commission to consider all these questions. I hope that that Financial Commission will see its way to lay down very stringent rules as to any possible assistance that can be granted to these States unless they comply with the reasonable and simple requests of the International Conference. A great deal might be done in that way. I trust the Government will be able to give us some hope that their policy will be somewhat on these lines. I have been very much struck with the enormous power of economic influence in the conduct of States. Anyone who has followed carefully the course of action of these smaller European States in the past few months will agree that where the greater Powers have been vigorous and energetic in insisting upon reasonable action under pain of economic displeasure that very few States are prepared to risk that economic displeasure.
One other thing ought to be done. If you are going to get trade going in these countries and get them upon an economic footing, you have got immediately to raise the threat of reparation. I saw a scheme the other day which is familiar to many Members of the House, by which people are prepared to supply the raw material to be worked up, on conditions, in the factories of these States. At the present moment, I am informed, the scheme is held up because those sending the raw material are not certain whether or not it will be absorbed into the reparation claims. You must have some understand- 1750 ing in this matter. Some kind of guarantee should be given by this Government, still better by the League of Nations, by the Reparation Commission, or some international authority, so that no such danger may be feared, for this will be a very important element in re-establishing the economic life of Europe. I urge that steps of this kind should be taken without delay.
I do venture to urge—perhaps with wearisome iteration—that there is no time to be lost if we are going to save Europe from economic disaster. Everyone who comes back from these countries tells much the same tale of horror. Yesterday I met an American gentleman, who says what others have said—that things are no better, but worse, and getting still worse from the economic point of view. Things are bad from the health point of view, and epidemics and starvation are spreading. If you do not intervene in time no one can tell the extent of the disaster and catastrophe that may take place. We cannot say: "We are not concerned with what may happen to these wretched people: they ought not to have gone into the War, and must suffer the consequences," and all the rest of it. Merely from the lowest point of selfish interest, it would be madness to allow Europe to disappear in economic confusion. Who can tell the economic effects if we are prepared to allow such a state of things to arise? I hope action will be taken on the lines I suggest. I do hope the Government will make a real effort to restore the peace atmosphere, and to get out of the war atmosphere altogether. I confess I read with some misgiving of the continuance of the Supreme Council. I would wish to see international relations put definitely into the hands of the League of Nations. Unless the League of Nations is to be a reality, unless it is really to have control of international affairs, it is not worth while to have brought it into existence. It must be an efficient organ of international relations if it is to be of any good. I do urge the Government, not only to approve of it, not only to support it by their speeches, but to show that they understand it and that they do really mean to make it an efficient organ of international relations, not only in this or that thing, but in everything which affects the international life in Europe and of the world.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
There is one disadvantage in our discussion to-day, and that is that it must, from the nature of the case, be more or less academic, because, whatever be the opinions of those who have spoken, it is recognised that not to ratify the Treaty would be a greater evil than any other course that we can adopt. That is admitted even by my hon. Friend opposite, who practically said to us that he proposed to divide as a protest. Would that be a very useful proceeding? I, myself, should have thought that to challenge a Division when you would be sorry if you were successful was not a very wise proceeding, even for the House of Commons. I have listened with great interest to the speech of the Noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil). I agree with a great deal of it. I think, however, he started a little too much with the idea that this problem is simpler than it really is. He said—and the House agreed with him—that the last thing he would like to contemplate was a renewal of the Peace Conference in Paris. I can assure him that that is a feeling which I entirely share. He made one or two other remarks, which, in view of his acquaintance with the subject makes me feel that he does not quite realise how great were the difficulties. He told us, for instance, that the territorial adjustments were so simple that any sensible member of this House in five minutes or so could have taken a map of Europe, and have set out the boundaries.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Never! I did not say they were simple. On the contrary, I say they are extraordinarily difficult. What I did say was that the margin or difference between the two was not very large.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
At all events, nothing could have been done without a good deal of discussion; but I will not proceed further than that. The Noble Lord in the course of his speech criticised very severely some of the alterations which have been made, so that even he did not agree with any other member of the House in the way the map should be drawn. However small the differences might be, however unimportant were those involved, I think my Noble Friend knows that in every case of this delimitation of boundaries there was the strongest feeling on the part of the nations affected. Members of the Peace Conference had to spend days and days in trying to get arrangements that would avoid friction. I shall try to 1752 keep in view the criticisms that have been made, but in doing so I wish the House to realise that in a Treaty made after the collapse of Europe which has taken place there were so many Powers concerned, with such diverse interests, that it was impossible in almost every case to do other than to play one force against another—I do not mean political or non-political—but to try to get some arrangement which would carry the largest measure of agreement. The result otherwise would have been a Treaty which could not have been presented to the House of Commons. My hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Malone) takes the view that it was all the fault of King Ferdinand, and that the Bulgarian people had nothing to do with it. I take the view of my Noble Friend behind me (Lord R-Cecil) that if a nation backs its own Government up to these limits, you cannot free the nation from responsibility. We made every effort to induce Bulgaria to take the right side, but she took the wrong side from the point of view of the world to-day, and the wrong side from the point of view of the gratitude she owed for her own national existence. She took that view, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith) has already said, because she was waiting on Providence, and taking the side which would lead to the extension of her own territory. In a democratic country, with democratic institutions, is it not futile to say that the course taken by Bulgaria was only the fault of the King, and not the fault of the people? My own view is that Bulgaria has come well out of it. It is down in the Treaty that we do recognise that Bulgaria must have an outlet to the Ægean Sea. We have given an undertaking that we will give it in a way that will be effective. We all agree that King Ferdinand played a deplorable part in this matter. In my view, and I think in the view of everyone who has gone through the history of the War, there is no single statesman who, against such frightful odds, supported the Allied cause as did M. Venizelos.
I have only one other remark to make about the Bulgarian Treaty. My hon. and gallant Friend said that the little strip of territory taken from Bulgaria and given to Serbia did not matter, because there was not a large population involved. He must have forgotten that 1753 twice in recent years Bulgaria was the aggressor in war. If his statement is true, and if it brought Serbia nearer to the Bulgarian capital, at any rate, it kept Bulgaria further from the Serbian capital, and that does not seem unreasonable. My Noble Friend asked why we did not adopt the simple method of fixing the amount of indemnity in the case of Austria, as we did with Germany and Bulgaria. I may say that at the Peace Conference we began with a determination to fix the amount, and it was only as a last resort, after we found that we could not get a settlement, that we fell back upon the other plan. As regards Turkey, is there anyone prepared to say that he could at this moment fix a sum which would be just to the Allies? What we did was to leave it free to them to make a definite proposal as to the amount.
Is it any use in dealing with a question of this kind simply to look at the letter of the Treaty, and say, "You should not have done this or that." Is not the better course to consider what is the effect of it? Take the position of Austria. Our Reparation Commission has practically complete power. You can judge of the way in which that power may be used by the way in which it has been used up to the present. No one who knows the facts will contradict me when I say that never before has there been a case where a country like ours has been at war—and a war for which Austria was largely responsible—where such efforts have been made to meet the distress that has occurred in Austria. Even before the Treaty was presented to Austria, we were helping that country.
We have appointed a Reparation Commission, and we have put at the head of it Sir William Goode, who is worshipped in Austria for the help he has given to them. We have set up in Paris an Austrian Commission, which is going to Austria for the purpose of helping to reestablish the economic life of that country. Whatever you may think about the terms of the Treaty, when you see the spirit in which it is being worked, I do not think anyone can say with truth that we are not doing all we can to restore the economic condition of Austria. My Noble Friend referred to an answer which I gave about Poland, in which I said the British Government were not going to intervene. My Noble Friend was a member of the 1754 Government long enough to know exactly what it means, because whenever you go to one of these countries in that manner they expect you to help them with money, or in some way to carry out the responsibilities they have undertaken. You cannot act like a schoolmaster, who can say to a boy, "Do this or that," for it is not possible. We cannot undertake responsibilities which we are unable to carry out.
Apart from this question of reparation there were two criticisms made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley about which I would like to say a few words. The first was in regard to the economic separation of the different parts of the Austrian Empire. My right hon. Friend said you ought to have insisted upon them having a common Customs union. I cannot believe that anyone who took any part in the Peace Conference would have said that for a single moment. As hon. Members know, I took a somewhat irregular part in that matter. I met gentlemen representing all these small States, and I can tell the House that the sense of dignity of the representatives of those States was not at all proportionate to their size and importance. I can assure the House that if you had to suggest to them now that they should have a Customs union for the rest of the Austrian Empire, whether they like it or not, they would at once say "What becomes of your self-determination, because you told us we should be quite free from Austria, and yet you are suggesting the imposition of conditions which would not be accepted in your own country."
We know what that means in Ireland, because it is one of the bitterest points of controversy in that country that they should have absolute freedom, and not a Customs union with us. If that be the case here, what would be the attitude of an independent nation to whom you said, "You must submit to that, whether you like it or not." Had we insisted upon that, we could not have carried through the Treaty at all. We have been told that the Government have other means of making these people reasonable. It is said we are giving them great assistance, and that we should tell them that they must be reasonable with their neighbours, and treat with them. That has already been done. In the case of Czechoslovakia, we made the condition, and it has been accepted, that they 1755 should give foodstuffs to the other parts of the late Austrian Empire. Anything we can do by the use of our Commission we will do. We thoroughly recognise that the way in which these different parts of the Austrian Empire are keeping separate from each other is one of the great evils of the position in Eastern Europe, and that position will not be put right until this is altered. But it is really a very great mistake to suppose that that is the main cause of it. It is because there is scarcity everywhere that the interchange cannot be altered. In that connection, however desirable it might be to have this re-union of the old Austrian Empire, under the new conditions it is absolutely impossible.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley said, "Look at the ridiculousness of these small states creating and keeping armies." I agree that it is most deplorable, and I agree that we do really run the risk by such a policy of Balkanising Eastern Europe. Here again you are dealing with independent states, and it is really suggested that the great Powers for the sake of these small states should say that you are not to have any armies. But if you say to those who are our Allies, "You must have only a certain army," I would ask is there any independent State which would tolerate that? Take the case of Serbia. Suppose you said it to her. Would she not turn round and say, "Apply it to yourselves—apply it all round. What right have you to apply it to us if you do not apply it to yourselves?" I say that was a counsel of perfection, but the Treaty could not have been carried through had it been made a condition of it. I admit freely that unless there be this limitation of armaments then, in my judgment, this War will have been largely fought in vain.
The House must not forget, whether it be right or wrong, that these treaties with Germany and Austria have as part of them the constitution of the League of Nations. My Noble Friend has urged us
§ to make that a reality. It has not started well, but it is the fact that it is a corrective for a large part of these Treaties, and I say deliberately that most certainly it is the duty of this country to do everything in its power to make it effective. If it is not effective, then just as it is the basis of the Treaty, the Treaty will not be so good a Treaty as we had a right to expect it to be.
§ I venture to ask the House to come to a decision on the Second Reading before a quarter-past eight. We do not propose to take any further stages to-day, because a financial Resolution will be needed to make the Treaty an executive machine. I recommend this Treaty to the House, not merely on the ground that it would be fatal at this stage to reject it, but because—and here I may say I speak with the greatest freedom, for I had a very small part in the framing of the Treaty—I never saw men who went through so worrying a time, and had to deal with to many matters as did those who month after month were engaged in the framing of this Treaty. I do not ask the House to look at it from the point of view that it is an ideal Treaty, but I ask them to look at it from the point of view of the conditions left by the War, and of the number of interests involved. In my view, it is in those circumstances a Treaty which the House of Commons ought to ratify.
§ Colonel YATE
I only want to intervene for one moment and to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the very definite statement he has just made that Bulgaria is to be given an effective outlet to the Ægean. It may be that, Bulgaria went the wrong way in the War by the connivance of her Government, but at the same time I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's very definite statement that she is to have a proper outlet to the sea, and I thank him for it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 188; Noes, 34.1757
|Division No. 84.]||AYES.||[7.50 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Brown, Captain D. C.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bigland, Alfred||Bruton, Sir James|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Campbell, J. D. G.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Borwick, Major G. O.||Cautley, Henry S.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith-||Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Chadwick, R. Burton|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Brackenbury, Captain H. L.||Cheyne, Sir William Watson|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar (Banff)||Breese, Major Charles E.||Coates, Major Sir Edward F.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Bridgeman, William Clive||Coats, Sir Stuart|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Purchase, H. G.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jameson, J. Gordon||Rae, H. Norman|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Jephcott, A. R.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Jesson, C.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Johnson, L. S.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Daizlel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Johnstone, Joseph||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Kenyon, Barnet||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Lloyd, George Butler||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||Lloyd-Greame, Major P.||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Edge, Captain William||Lonsdale, James Rolston||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Lorden, John William||Seager, Sir William|
|Elliott, Lt.-Col. Sir G. (Islington, W.)||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Seddon, J. A.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Sexton, James|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Fildes, Henry||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachle)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Foreman, Henry||Macmaster, Donald||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Freece, Sir Walter de||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Macquisten, F. A.||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Ganzoni, Captain Francis John C.||Mallalieu, F. W.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Gardiner, James||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Sugden, W. H.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Middlebrook, Sir William||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Mitchell, William Lane||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||Molson, Major John Elsdale||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Morrison, Hugh||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Mount, William Arthur||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Gregory, Holman||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Tootill, Robert|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. C. (A'deen)||Waddington, R.|
|Hallwood, Augustine||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Wallace, J.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nail, Major Joseph||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Neal, Arthur||Waring, Major Walter|
|Hancock, John George||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedford, Luton)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Nield, Sir Herbert||Willey, Lieut.-Colonel F. V.|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Norton-Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. Sir John||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Parker, James||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Pearce, Sir William||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Hood, Joseph||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Woolcock, William James U.|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Perkins, Walter Frank||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Perring, William George||Younger, Sir George|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Prescott, Major W. H.||Ward.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Lawson, John J.||Spencer, George A.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Lunn, William||Spoor, B. G.|
|Cairns, John||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Swan, J. E.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Myers, Thomas||Waterson, A. E.|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Mills, John Edmund||Wignall, James|
|Finney, Samuel||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Robertson, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Royce, William Stapleton||Lieut.-Colonel Malone and Colonel|
|Hayday, Arthur||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wedgwood.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House," put, and agreed to.—[Mr. Harmsworth.]
§ Bill accordingly committed to a Committee of the whole House for To-morrow.