HC Deb 14 December 1922 vol 159 cc3141-2

asked the Prime Minister whether the Franco-Belgian Military Convention and the Franco-Polish Military Convention have both been registered with the Secretariat of the League of Nations; whether he is aware that it is stipulated, under Article 18 of the Covenant, that all agreements between signatory parties to the Treaty of Versailles shall be published; whether any modifications to this provision which would invalidate it have been assented to by the Council of the League of Nations with the approval of His Majesty's Government; and whether the Military Conventions in question have been published and are accessible to Members of this House?


Notes exchanged between tho French and Belgian Governments in September, 1920, approving the Franco-Belgian Military Convention were registered with the League and published in the League of Nations Treaty, Series No. 56, but the text of the Convention itself has not, so far as I am aware, been registered with the League. The Convention between France and Poland, to which the hon. Member is presumably referring, is not, properly speaking, a military Convention, but a political agreement with a military clause, and in this connection I would refer to the answer on the subject which I gave on the 11th instant to the hon. Member for Dundee. I am not aware whether the agreement has been registered with the League or not. The answer to the third part of the question is in the negative. The exact interpretation of Article 18 of the Covenant is still in dispute. A Commission of the League of Nations reported on the subject to the Assembly in September last and the latter decided to defer consideration of possible amendments to Article 18 till a later meeting.


If there is a military clause in the agreement, might it not as well be called a military agreement as a political agreement with a military clause?


That is a question of interpretation.


Will the hon. Gentleman make representations to the respective Governments to get this Convention registered with the League of Nations?

Lieut.-Colonel ARCHER-SHEE

Is it not a fact that Article 18 merely states that if these agreements are made and not registered with the League of Nations, they are not valid?


No, I do not think that is a correct reading of Article 18. In reply to the supplementary question by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris), I cannot undertake to do what he asks; I do not know that there would be any power to do so.


Is there any real doubt as to the interpretation of Article 18? Has the Assembly not settled the meaning?


I do not think so. I understand the matter was referred to the First Commission by the Assembly, and that they have not arrived at any definite decision as to its meaning.