HC Deb 05 July 1926 vol 197 cc1613-4

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is meant, in the notes exchanged between Great Britain and Italy, by an exclusive Italian economic influence in the West of Abyssinia?


By their recognition of "exclusive Italian economic influence" in Western Abyssinia His Majesty's Government bind themselves not to press the claims of British subjects competing with Italian concession seekers in that district. The Italian Government are aware that His Majesty's Government place this interpretation on these words.

Captain BENN

Has the right hon. Gentleman any information as to what, is the view of the Abyssinian Government about these new British-Italian claims?


If the hon. and gallant Member will refer to the answer I gave last week to a question this subject he will see that any agreement between the Italian Government and ourselves can have no binding effect upon the Abyssinian Government, and we are not going to take up discussion with the, Abyssinian Government until they have had full time to consider the matter.

Lieut.- Commander KENWORTHY

When the right hon. Gentleman talks about not assisting British subjects in their schemes in West Abyssinia, does he also mean that no other subjects are to be permitted to make any claims for concessions 'in West Abyssinia, and that it is to be exclusively Italian?


No, Sir, it is a bilateral agreement, and it is quite clear that we cannot give away the rights of any other nation or any other nationals; but what we do undertake is not to support British subjects in seeking concessions in that area in competition with Italians on condition—and it is only on that condition—that with Italian support we obtain the Tsana concession.


Is it quite clear that this agreement between Italy and ourselves is not to be used for the purpose of coercing Abyssinia into granting Italian claims and our own later on?


It. certainly is not to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of coercing the Abyssinian Government. I believe the agreement to be in the interests of all three parties, but of course the Abyssinian Government have a perfect right to judge of what is in the interest of Abyssinia.