HC Deb 10 December 1928 vol 223 cc1689-92
36. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government still adheres to the declaration by the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and France in regard to the occupation of the Rhine provinces, issued as a White Paper, Cmd. 240, of 1919, in which it was declared that the Allied and associated Powers did not insist on making the period of occupation last until the reparation clauses were completely executed?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the confusion which has arisen as to the opinion of His Majesty's Government as to Germany's position as of right in relation to the withdrawal of troops from the German Rhineland, and, in particular, arising from the declaration of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and France on 16th June, 1919, that the Allied and associated Powers did not insist on making the period of occupation last until the reparation clauses were completely executed, he can make a further statement on the matter?


On a point of Order. May I ask if at any time there has ever been a time limit, or a limit of the number of questions, which an hon. Member can put?


The limit is three now.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) and the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith), to the reply given to the question asked on the 5th December by the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle), which, with the supplementary replies given at the time, seems to cover their present inquiries very fully. I have nothing to add to the statements then made by my right hon. Friend.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my question with reference to the Command Paper has not been dealt with, and will he explain how the opening words of the Command Paper that the Powers do not insist on making the period of occupation last until the Reparation Clauses have been completely executed can possibly be allowed to stand without some fresh declaration from His Majesty's Government?


I think that the hon. and gallant Gentlemen has read the original answer of my right hon. Friend, and, if he carefully looks at all the supplementary answers, he will see that his question is substantially answered.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the lawyers of France and Germany, as well as of this country, have been disputing about this particular matter for years, and that the answer given last week by his chief has given rise to a great amount of confusion; and may I put it to him that the declaration made to Germany in June, 1919, ought to be taken into account in any legal judgment given by us in 1928?


I think that the hon. Gentleman's particular question comes later on. The original question has nothing to do with the legal side of the matter, but with the political side.

38. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, irrespective of the legal interpretation of Article 431 of the treaty, he will state the attitude of His Majesty's Government, on the one hand, to the French contention that reparations and evacuation are linked and must be dealt with together and, on the other hand, to the German case that evacuation is independent of any revision of the Dawes scheme?


My right hon. Friend stated on Monday last the views of His Majesty's Government on both the law and the policy applicable to this question. He desires me to say that, it would not in his opinion conduce to good feeling or progress, if he now made such a comparison between his own statement and any statements which may have been made by the representatives of other Governments concerned as is asked for by the hon. and gallant Member. He thinks it much more important to seek a practical solution of any difficulties which stand in the way of evacuation than to discuss points of difference which, important as they are, may be found not to be the determining factors in the decisions which have to be taken.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give an answer to a plain question? Do the Government consider the questions of reparation and evacuation linked, or not? All we want is an answer to that plain question. If the Government have not made up their mind as to it, let us know that.


I am sure the right hon. and gallant Member cannot accuse me of not doing my best always to answer any question he puts to me, but I hope that no one will press me on this particular question at the present moment, as conversations are going on between the various Governments, and it really is not in the public interest to add anything to the answer that I have given.


Does the right hon. Gentleman know that there would be less disposition on this side to press him on this matter if it were not for the fact that the Foreign Office has for so long been pursuing a policy of slavish subservience to France?


Is the Minister prepared to lay on the Table, or to answer a question—


Mr. Rennie Smith.