HC Deb 14 December 1922 vol 159 cc3230-1

The best way to deal with it is to consider the position as it presents itself to France and to ourselves. What is the position? The French, and, indeed, we did also at one time, had great hopes in regard to the amount of money they would get from Germany. They had built upon those hopes to such an extent that the financial system of France is based on receiving very large sums from Germany. Now what has happened? I am putting the French point of view, and I think it is right, whatever our own point of view, that we should try to look at this question from the point of view as it strikes our Allies. This is their view. Germany undertook to pay a certain amount. Almost nothing has been paid.


What was the amount?




It was a very large amount. I am not in the least defending the amount. I was always sceptical of the possibility of getting these immense sums transferred from one country to another, but that is the position. Germany undertook to pay these large amounts. The French say, "We have had Conference after Conference and what has been the result? The result has been that in every case, in one form or other, we gave what was equivalent to a moratorium, and at the end of the period of moratorium we found we were in a worse position for getting anything out of Germany than we were before we had our discussions." That is undoubtedly the view of France "It has always been the tradition of our people," which I share, "that when we make peace with our enemies we really mean it and if they deal fairly with us we will deal fairly with them. "The French view is that this result is largely due to the action—as they think the deliberate action—of Germany.