HC Deb 30 November 1931 vol 260 cc736-8
12. Captain CAZALET

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give the House any further information in regard to the Manchurian situation; and whether he has had any communication from our representatives in China as to the effect on British interests of the disturbances in that area?


According to my information there has been no fighting between Japanese and Chinese troops in Manchuria for over 10 days. According to Press reports a withdrawal of Japanese troops into the railway zone is being effected to the utmost extent possible, but so far no official reports on the subject have been received. The Council of the League is continuing its efforts to find a solution, and I earnestly hope that the joint endeavours of its members may result in success. British financial interests in the Peking-Mukden Railway have been affected by the diminution in its earnings due to recent events, and owing to the change of administration in Mukden there have been difficulties in the transference of sums due to those interests, and also in connection with payment to British subjects for goods supplied to the previous Chinese administration. Negotiations are proceeding in connection with both these matters. I have no information of British interests having been otherwise affected.

14. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in connection with the Manchurian trouble, he will bear in mind the supreme interest of this country in avoiding all sanctions or other warlike commitments, whether in Asia or Europe, both now and hereafter, and take no isolated action?


The right hon. Gentleman may rest assured that His Majesty's Government are as anxious as he himself is to avoid recourse to sanctions either in the present or in any other dispute which may be brought before the League of Nations, and for this reason they are concentrating, along with the other members of the Council, on finding a solution by conciliation. This, indeed, is the principle which underlies the Covenant, and the machinery contemplated therein rests on the basis of collective action.

15. Mr. D. M. MASON

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether in view of the action of Japan in disregarding Articles 12, 13 and 15 of the Covenant of the League of Nations by proceeding with hostilities against China, thus constituting, according to Article 16, an act of war against all members of the League, His Majesty's Government intend to recommend to the several governments concerned what effective military force the members of the League shall severally contribute to be used to protect the Covenants of the League?


My hon. Friend seems to be under some misapprehension as to the position. As I explained to the House on Wednesday last, the dispute is being dealt with by the Council of the League as a whole under Article 11 of the Covenant, and no question of Article 16 has arisen.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me what Article 11 has to do with disregard of Articles 12, 13 and 15, which Japan has disregarded, 'which constitutes an act of war, and what steps does he propose to take?


I can only repeat that the matter is being dealt with by the Council of the League as a whole under Article 11. It is better really in the circumstances to leave some discretion to the Council of the League, which has the matter actually before it.