§ 25. Sir W. DAVISON
asked the Prime Minister when it is expected that the Lord Chancellor's health will be sufficiently restored to enable him to leave Genoa and return to his duties in London?
The Lord Chancellor has already returned to London. He would have been on the Woolsack when the House of Lords reassembled, but was recalled to Genoa at the special request of the Prime Minister, who desired to consult him upon negotiations which were pending.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Lord Chancellor at any time while at Genoa urged the Prime Minister to break with France?
That does not arise out of the question of the hon. Gentleman. There is another question on that subject, and I shall answer it at the close of questions to-day.
§ 32. Captain Viscount CURZON
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the deep and widespread anxiety pre- 1804 valent throughout the country that the Entente with France is being imperilled owing to the discussions taking place at Genoa: and whether, in order to reassure public opinion in this and other countries, he will at an early date make a statement to the effect that there has been no change in the policy of His Majesty's Government, and that they intend to do all in their power to carry out the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles?
I have no reason to suppose that the discussions proceeding at Genoa are likely to imperil the relations of His Majesty's Government with France. No change has taken place in the policy of His Majesty's Government as regards carrying out the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
§ 33. Sir W. DAVISON
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Prime Minister or any British delegate at Genoa at any time suggested to the Russian Soviet delegates that if they were not prepared to restore to its rightful owners the private property which they had stolen or to pay adequate compensation for the same they should agree to allow such owners to have their property back on a terminable lease, whether, as a matter of fact, this proposal has now been made by the Soviet delegates; what action has been taken by the Prime Minister and the British delegates thereon; and when it is proposed that the Prime Minister and the British delegates should return to England?
The only proposal to the Soviet representatives on this subject is contained in Clause 7 of the Memorandum sent to the Russian delegation on the 3rd instant. I will lay this document at once. I could not read it out to-day. I cannot yet say when the British Delegation will return.
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Could not the right hon. Gentleman state, shortly, whether there is any truth in the suggestion in the question, namely, that the Prime Minister did suggest to the Soviet delegates that, if they would not return the property which they have stolen, they might lease it to the rightful owners? Can he not say -whether that is a fact or not without reading the whole document?
If my hon. Friend wants accurate information, he had better wait for the publication of the document which I have promised.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that, as soon as the Prime Minister returns from Genoa, he will be in a position to make a full and complete statement to the House on the proceedings at Genoa?
I could not give a pledge, in a position of such uncertainty as to the date and conditions of my right hon. Friend's return, but I imagine it will be the desire of the Prime Minister to take the House into his confidence.
§ 34. Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
asked the Lord Privy Seal when the Prime Minister will once more be in his place to answer questions?
§ Mr. GRITTEN
Is it not a fact, as reported in the Press, that the Prime Minister is arranging for another holiday Conference, or Conference holiday, at San Remo, on the conclusion of the Genoa Conference?
§ Sir A. SHIRLEY BENN
(by Private Notice) asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he can give the House any information with reference to the statements alleged to have been made by the Prime Minister in the course of conversation with M. Bartheu?
Yes, Sir. I have seen the report published by the "Times" this morning, a summary of which appears to have reached the Prime Minister. Whether that is a summary telegraphed by us or by a news agency, I 1806 do not know. I am not quite certain what report he received, but, apparently, it, was a sufficient account that has reached him. He has asked me to say that the account in the "Times" is a deliberate and malicious invention, and to contradict it at once. The Lord Chancellor, who is also mentioned in the "Times" report, has already repudiated it.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that other papers besides the "Times" contained this information; if so, are they to be pilloried in the same way?
I am dealing with the "Times" because that is the only summary I have seen. It is a summary of that communication which has reached the Prime Minister. I do not know whether other papers have or have not published the same statement; if so, they have been guilty of publishing a statement which is utterly inaccurate and apparently malicious.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
Is it true that the statement has also been published by the Havas Agency in Paris: and can the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries, realising the great injury such publication will do?
If it has been published by the Havas Agency, I hope the Havas Agency will also publish the answer which I have given.
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the message to the "Times" fills something like, I think, two columns, and does the answer apply to the whole of that statement, or, if not, to what portion of it?
Well, Sir, as I have said, the "Times" itself cannot have reached the Prime Minister, but some account of the allegations made by the "Times" reached my right hon. Friend, and he at once asked me to contradict them as being a malicious invention. I cannot conceive what interest or what public purpose—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—a British newspaper 1807 can have which, in the course of and throughout a great international Conference, deliberately sets itself to work misrepresentation and to traduce—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that it is important it should be known to which sort of statements he refers? The statement of the right hon. Gentleman did not specify the statements.
The kind of statements the "Times" makes is:The Entente between Great Britain and Franco at an end.Henceforth Great Britain is free to cultivate other friendships.The British nation is hostile to France.The Premier's advisers, especially the Lord Chancellor, has been constantly advising him to break with France "—and a great deal more nonsense of that sort.
§ Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the editor of the "Times" has been living at French headquarters in Genoa during the whole of this Conference?
I believe that is so. He certainly has not been in touch with anybody authorised to speak on behalf of us.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is it not very desirable and necessary, following this statement of what happened between the Prime Minister and M. Barthou, that the Prime Minister should issue for the information of the House a statement as to what actually did occur at the Conference?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has put that question several times. I cannot say anything more till the notes of the conversation reach me.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Have the Government any power to bring the gentleman who wrote this particular article, and the newspaper, to the Bar of the House to be admonished by Mr. Speaker?