HC Deb 06 July 1927 vol 208 cc1236-8
1. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give any information as to his conversations at Geneva on certain matters affecting Russia?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now prepared to make a statement to the House of Commons as to discussions between the Minister and the representatives of other European Powers at Geneva relative to the question of Russia?

7 and 8. Mr. TAYLOR

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether any representative of France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, or Japan brought forward any proposals in the recent public or private meetings and conversations at Geneva for a joint conference with Russia; and, if so, whether the proposals were opposed or supported by Great Britain;

(2) whether, during the recent meeting of the Council at Geneva, the representatives of the States which are parties to the Locarno Agreement held any discussions as to their policy towards Russia; and whether he can make a statement to the House on this subject?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the question of their relations with Russia was discussed during the recent meeting of the Council at Geneva by the representatives of the States which are parties to the Locarno Agreement; and whether he can give the House any information as to the conclusions that were reached?

The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir Austen Chamberlain)

On the invitation of some of the representatives at the meeting of the six Powers, I gave an explanation of our reasons for breaking off diplomatic relations with the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and explained British policy as already publicly stated in the House when we debated the matter. Similar explanations of their own policy were given by some of the other Ministers present. No proposals were made by anyone for a joint conference with Russia, nor for any joint action in regard to Russia. Circumstances vary in different countries, and each Government must pursue the policy best adapted to its own interests.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

When the right hon. Gentleman talks of a meeting of the six Powers, will he explain just what that means? Did he not go to Geneva for the Council meetings of the League of Nations?


Yes, Sir, I went to Geneva for the meeting of the Council of the League of Nations. No question in relation to Russia was discussed at the Council of the League, and I understood the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question to refer to conversations which took place at the meeting summoned by me at the request of representatives of other Powers who were at Geneva, and in which France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Japan and Great Britain were represented.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the Six Powers as if this was a new Council of Europe. Is it in future to be the practice to call these particular Powers together under the cloak of meetings of the Council of the League?


It is, I think, one of the advantages of the frequentation of the League by the representatives of Powers of many nations, that it gives them an opportunity to talk quite apart from the meetings of the Council, but there is no occasion for any friend of the League or of the Council to take up these meetings of individual Powers. There were a great number of meetings. One meeting was held in my room, and that is the meeting to which I have referred. It comprised the Powers represented in the Council of Ambassadors in Paris, and the German Government.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions? In the first place, did he take this opportunity of disabusing the minds of those other nations of the idea that we were attempting to form any sort of bloc against Russia; and, secondly, has he taken the opportunity of conveying the substance of his conversations at Geneva on this question to the United States Government?


No, Sir. I have not thought it necessary to repeat the conversations winch were held at Geneva to the United States Government. With regard to the first part of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's question, I did not find it necessary to use the opportunity to disabuse their minds of that impression, for they did not entertain it; but I confirmed the impression which they had already formed, and which is correct, that we had never attempted to do anything of the kind.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is true or not that representations were made by him to the German representatives urging that, if they would discontinue their Government credit scheme to German-Russian trading operations, it might be possible to accommodate German aspirations with reference to the Rhineland?


No, Sir. I should very much like to know, if the hon. Member would communicate with me privately, upon what possible foundation he bases that question. There is not a word of truth in it.


Has not the right hon. Gentleman seen the "Times'' reports of these Conferences and conversations?


To my recollection I have not seen anything in any report in the "Times" to justify such an assumption as that.

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