HC Deb 02 July 1923 vol 166 cc28-9
51. Mr. MOREL

asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that the deliberations of the League of Nations on the subject of the limitation of armaments, including air armament, have lasted for a considerable period and that during that period certain Powers represented on the Council and with knowledge of the League have largely increased their air armament and are continuing to do so, His Majesty's Government will take the initiative, in conjunction with the Government of the United States, to convoke a conference of all the Powers, both those which are represented on the League and those which are not, in order to restrict the construction of aerial war craft with a view to protecting the civilian population of all countries from the consequences of aerial farfare?


His Majesty's Government are not prepared to adopt the course suggested by the hon. Member.


In view of the very grave statement made in this House a few days ago, and the immediate response of the French, cannot the right hon. Gentleman give the House some further information as to why the Government cannot take this course?


In my view, it would be premature to hope for a successful issue to such a conference until a number of outstanding matters which remain unsettled in Europe to-day are settled.


In view of the impossibility of dealing adequately with this question by question and answer across the Floor of the House, will the Prime Minister be able to give a date on which a discussion on this most important subject could take place?


It is always open to discuss this question on the Consolidated Fund Bill, but I cannot think at the moment that a discussion would help us at all.

58. Mr. LEACH

asked the Prime Minister if he has any confirmation of a statement that perturbation has been caused in the French Chamber at this country's proposals to increase its air forces, and that strong denials of any hostile purposes against Great Britain were made; and if he will at once propose to France a conference with the object of a mutual avoidance of wasteful expenditure, and the further object of securing a world understanding on the subject?


I have seen no report of any discussion in the French Chamber, though I have, of course, seen the comments of the French Press. They do not, however, appear to me to bear out the words used by the hon. Member. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I have given this afternoon to the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Morel).

Commander BELLAIRS

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed that the Washington Conference Treaty shall be ratified by the French Chamber, and whether we have any information on the question whatever?