HC Deb 06 December 1920 vol 135 cc1709-10

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the project for canalising the Rhine between Basle and Strassburg for the purpose of producing electrical power, which proposal is reported to be favoured by the French and German Governments; whether he is aware that the construction of such a canal would greatly injure, if not stop, a considerable traffic in merchandise between Switzerland and this country which now comes by the Rhine, and that the project is strongly objected to in Switzerland from this point of view; whether Great Britain has any representation in the control of the Rhine; and whether, having regard to the importance to British trade of the preservation of the free navigation of this important river, he will state if any steps are being taken by the Government in order to safeguard British trade interests in the event of this canal being constructed?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Lloyd George)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In regard to the second, I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to Article 358 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, which, while giving France the right to take water from the Rhine, provides that the exercise of this right shall not interfere with navigation and that all proposed hydro-technical schemes shall be laid for approval before the Central Commission of the Rhine. The Central Commission includes representatives of Great Britain, whose attention has been directed to the considerations mentioned by the hon. Member.

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