HC Deb 22 February 1934 vol 286 cc510-1
67. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the executions in Austria, in spite of his views as expressed to that Government; and whether he intends to take any action?

The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Mr. Baldwin)

I am informed that the total number of persons executed in Austria as a result of the recent disturbances is eight. Martial law, under which these executions have taken place, was raised yesterday. As regards the last part of the question, I would explain that the instructions given to His Majesty's Minister at Vienna, to which reference was made in the answer given to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on Monday last, still hold good.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he thinks there is a possibility of the total executions remaining at eight, or will any other persons be executed, in spite of the recommendations made by His Majesty's Government?


I have no information on that point. I am only answering for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who is unavoidably prevented from being here.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the recent action of the Austrian Government towards a section of Austrian subjects constitutes a violation of the treaty of peace to which this country is a signatory and pledged to maintain its provisions; and whether he will draw the attention of the responsible parties in Austria to Section V, Articles 63, 66 and 69, of that treaty, and press the necessity of the present Government of Austria giving the protection guaranteed to minorities in Austria by the Allied and Associated Powers?


Under the Articles to which the hon. Member refers, Austria undertakes that persons belonging to racial, religious or linguistic minorities shall enjoy the same protection of life and liberty as other inhabitants of Austria, and the same civil and political rights as other Austrian nationals. So far as I know, the Austrian Government has hitherto carried out these obligations.


As the particular Section is headed "Protection of Minorities," will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that our Ambassador in Vienna will insist on this Section being enforced by the Austrian Government?


I think the interpretation that the hon. Member gives to it is, technically and legally, incorrect. The definition of minorities is the one that I have given—religious, racial and linguistic. I do not think, from my information, that the point which the hon. Member raises could be applicable to the terms of these clauses of the treaty.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say if the deprivation of the rights and liberties of the Austrian people themselves is not a derogation of the agreement entered into?


It would be most unfitting that a layman in my position should give a legal opinion on the reading of this treaty, and I have no intention of doing it.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the present party in power are described as Christian, that they regard the Socialist party as non-Christian, and that the essence of their name is based upon a religious difference between them and their opponents?