HC Deb 03 March 1921 vol 138 cc2015-7
Mr. A. T. DAVIES (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether he can make a statement as to the position created by the rejection of the German counter-proposals at the recent discussions of the Supreme Council in Paris?


The Allied delegations were unanimously of opinion that Dr. Simons' proposals did not afford any basis for examination or discussion, and that they fell so far short of the German obligations under the Treaty as to constitute a mockery of its provisions.

They interpreted these proposals in the light of declarations made in Germany which were tantamount to an official repudiation by the German Government of their country's responsibility for the War.

They took into account the various respects in which Germany had already failed to execute the Treaty. They attributed these failures and the inadequate character of the German proposals for reparation either to a deliberate intention to evade or whittle away the Treaty or to the weakness of the German Government in the face of the public opinion in that country. Whatever the explanation may be, the Allies felt it was essential in the interests of permanent peace that they should take firm measures to convince Germany that whilst all fair consideration will be given to her difficulties, the Treaty must be respected.

We intimated that unless we hear by Monday that Germany is either prepared to accept the Paris decision or to submit proposals which will, in other ways which are equally satisfactory, discharge her obligations under the Treaty of Versailles (subject to the concessions made in the Paris proposals), we shall as from that date take the following course under the Treaty of Versailles.

The Allies are agreed:—

  1. (1) To occupy the towns of Duisburg, Ruhrort, and Düsseldorf, on the right bank of the Rhine.
  2. (2) To obtain powers from their respective Parliaments requiring their nationals to pay a certain proportion of all payments due to Germany on German goods to their several Governments, such proportion to be retained on account of reparations.
(That is in respect of goods purchased either in this country or in any other Allied country from Germany.)
  1. (3) (a) The amount of the duties collected by the German Custom houses on the external frontiers of the occupied territories to be paid to the Reparations Commission.
  2. (b) These duties to continue to be levied in accordance with the German tariff.
  3. (c) A line of Custom houses to be temporarily established on the Rhine and at the boundary of the Têtes de Ponts occupied by the Allied troops; the tariff to be levied on this line, both on the entry and export of goods, to be determined by the Allied High Commission of the Rhine territory in conformity with the instructions of the Allied Governments.

Colonel C. LOWTHER

Is it not a fact that the recalcitrant attitude of the German delegates is largely due to the ex-Prime Minister having publicly stated at Penistone that Germany would not be able to pay more than £2,000,000,000 as the total amount of War indemnity?

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Has not the right hon. Gentleman himself said that Germany and the other Powers stumbled into the War—[The PRIME MINISTER indicated dissent]—and has he not in this House spoken of the great necessity of getting some payment out of Germany rather than nothing at all?


I have often stated that the demands made on Germany must be limited by her capacity to pay. The proposals of Dr. von Simons fall, in our judgment, far short, lamentably short, and I should say absurdly short of Germany's capacity to pay. She has not, as I have pointed out in the statement which will probably be in the Press to-morrow, taxed herself up to the limit of the taxation of France and Great Britain, and we cannot possibly allow the burdens of the victors to be heavier than those of the vanquished.