HC Deb 02 April 1930 vol 237 cc1253-6
12. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will state the reason why the question of the right of search and capture of private property at sea is not to be raised during the Naval Conference?


It was mutually agreed during the informal discussions of last year between His Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States that the question of rights and immunities at sea should not form part of the agenda of the London Naval Conference.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, though this may have been agreed between ourselves and one of the other participants, at least one Government has formally raised this matter in a published document?

18. Major ROSS

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in addition to the limitation of tonnage in aircraft carriers by the Naval Conference, any limitation of naval aircraft is contemplated; and whether the number of naval aircraft possessed by the Powers concerned will be taken into consideration in settling their relative strengths?

The CIVIL LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. George Hall)

Limitation of tonnage in aircraft carriers automatically limits the number of carrier-borne aircraft that can be employed. No limitation of shore-based aircraft is contemplated at the present Conference, but the number of naval aircraft possessed by the Powers concerned is borne in mind by the Admiralty.

Major ROSS

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the preponderance of some countries in aircraft that can fly off from catapults, and will that fact be borne in mind at the Conference?


All those matters are receiving the attention of the Admiralty.

45. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Prime Minister whether any extensions of existing commitments for Great Britain, either in the Mediterranean or elsewhere, have now been contemplated or discussed in connection with the present Naval Conference?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which the Prime Minister returned yesterday to questions on this subject by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) and the hon. Members for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) and Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), to which he has nothing to add.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Would it be convenient for my right hon. Friend to say whether this answer covers the proposals for a consultative Pact?


The Prime Minister said in the answer which I have just given that he has nothing at all to add to what he said yesterday.


Can my right hon. Friend say whether the newspaper reports in the "Times" to-day of what is to be done are correct, and, if so, why this House is not informed, instead of the newspaper Press?


Would the Government consider the laying of papers so that the House may be informed exactly what is or has been proposed?


I am not aware of the existence of any papers on the subject, but, of course, that is a question which would have to be decided by the Prime Minister.

48. Captain EDEN

asked the Prime Minister whether any amendment or interpretation of Article XVI of the Covenant is at present under consideration by any of the delegations at the Five-Power Naval Conference; and, if so, whether he will refuse to consent to any modification of that article, which is calculated to increase the British Empire's present commitments or responsibilities?


The interpretation of Article XVI of the Covenant is under consideration, but no proposal for its amendment has been made. I would remind the hon. and gallant Member of the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday that His Majesty's Government have no intention of entering into any commitments which go beyond the obligations resulting from the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Locarno.


Does that reply refer to the Covenant as it is or to the Covenant as it may become when it has been modified?


The first part of the reply that I have just given says that there is no proposal under consideration for the amendment of the Covenant. Therefore, my right hon. and gallant Friend's question does not arise.


Can the right hon. Gentleman explain exactly what he means by the last answer? Has there not been a committee sitting at Geneva, on which Lord Cecil has been representing the British Government, for the purpose of considering the amendment of the Covenant? Does his answer refer to the Covenant as it stands or to the Covenant as it would be amended if the recommendations of that committee were accepted?


No. I gather that these questions refer only to any conversations that may be going on in London at the present time, and, of course, that does not in any way prejudice discussions that may be going on in the League of Nations for the amendment of the Covenant.

Captain EDEN

Are we to understand that at present discussions are proceeding as to the interpretation of Article XVI apart from the work being done by Lord Cecil?


Yes. The answer was that the interpretation of the Covenant is under consideration.

Captain EDEN

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there cannot be any interpretation which is not a commitment?

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am sorry to press my right hon. Friend on this matter, but is he in a position to say that no question of limitations by other Powers will depend on the interpretation which we put on Article XVI?


Really, I think the House will realise that I am not in a position to give an answer of that kind. I am not a party to the conversations which are going on now among the delegates to the Naval Conference, and therefore I am not in a position to give an answer.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is my right hon. Friend aware, that while I have no desire to press him—


Further questions had better be put on the Paper.

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