HC Deb 03 March 1924 vol 170 cc954-5
11. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the approximate area and population of the Jubaland territory which it is proposed to hand over to Italy; and whether the native population has been consulted, or will be consulted, as to whether it has any wishes in the matter?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. J. H. Thomas)

The area of that part of Jubaland which it is proposed to cede to Italy is about 33,000 square miles; the population may be estimated, with great reserve, at 12,000. No condition as to the consent of the inhabitants was made in the Treaty of London, and I do not see how the fulfilment of the Treaty can be made subject to such consent.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Surely this is a departure from the principle of self-determination.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman takes up a great deal of time by trying to make a little speech on each of his questions.

27. Lieut.-Colonel HOWARD-BURY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his Majesty's Government promised the Government of Italy in 1916 that, in the event of His Majesty's Government getting certain German colonies, they would take steps to cede to Italy certain territories described as Jubaland; whether this promise was definite or conditional; and what steps they propose to take to carry out this promise?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald)

No, Sir, the undertaking entered into under Article 13 of the Treaty of London was that in the event of Great Britain increasing her Colonial territory in Africa at the expense of Germany, His Majesty's Government would agree in principle that Italy might claim some equitable compensation, particularly as regards the settlement in her favour of the questions relative to the frontiers of the Italian Colonies of Eritrea, Somaliland and Libya. The Italian Government eventually demanded, as part of this frontier rectification, the cession of a territory three times the size of Belgium. When His Majesty's Government consented to this enlarged transaction they attached the condition that the cession could only become effective as part of the general settlement of all the issues raised, at the Peace Conference. This condition, accepted by the Italian Government at the time, is now said by them to be no longer applicable to present circumstances. Were Italy merely demanding the execution of the undertaking given in the Treaty of London, my predecessors would, I feel sure, have regarded it as an obligation of honour immediately to liquidate that promise; it was merely because Italy asked for something far more extensive than the ratification foreshadowed in the Treaty of London that the transaction was regarded as part of a general settlement. The above explanation is, I think, necessary in order to remove the misapprehensions which have arisen on this question and to indicate the aspect, from which my predecessors in office have approached the matter. I hope that certain conversations that have taken place since I last answered a question on this subject may lead to a re-opening of the whole matter.