§ 3. Mr. MORGAN JONES
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make on the present position of the Disarmament Conference?
§ 4. Mr. BANFIELD
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether in view of the desirability that His Majesty's Government should give a lead on the question of disarmament and that other Powers should know our position, he will now make a statement regarding His Majesty's Government's policy?
§ 5. Mr. MANDER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the present position with regard to the negotiations for the conclusion of the Disarmament Convention?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir John Simon)
As I reminded the House on the 21st December last, the Bureau of the Disarmament Conference decided on the 22nd November that the work of the conference could, at that stage, best be assisted by parallel and supplementary efforts between various States and the full use of diplomatic machinery. These efforts have been continuously pursued in the interval.
It was, indeed, with a view to facilitating them that I took advantage of my holiday in France and Italy at the close of the year to renew contact with the French Foreign Minister and with the head of the Italian Government. I had conversations with Monsieur Chautemps and Monsieur Paul-Boncour on the 22nd December and with Signor Mussolini on the 3rd and 4th January. These personal exchanges of view were of assistance in establishing points of agreement and in clarifying the issues.
Steps have also been taken by His Majesty's Government through the diplomatic channel to obtain from the German Government fuller and more detailed information as to the real intent and purpose of the declarations made by the Chancellor of the German Reich subsequent to the announcement of the withdrawal of the German Government from the Disarmament Conference.
The German Government replied to these inquiries on the 19th January. In the meantime there had also been exchanges between the French and German Governments. His Majesty's Government have been informed of all these communications and have followed them with the closest attention.
As a result His Majesty's Government have arrived at the decision that the 5 time has now come when they should make known their own attitude in the present situation, the gravity of which must be apparent to every thoughtful mind, and should thus make a further positive contribution so far as lies in their power to promote agreement.
His Majesty's Government have accordingly expressed their views in a Memorandum which has now been despatched to His Majesty's Representatives abroad for communication to the Governments chiefly concerned in the recent negotiations. It is the intention of His Majesty's Government to publish this Memorandum as soon as there has been an opportunity for its consideration by those Governments.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am sure my hon. Friend will see that there are very good reasons why publication should not take place immediately, but I do not anticipate that there will be an interval of more than a few days.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
Will the correspondence preceding this Memorandum be published at the same time?
§ Sir J. SIMON
That needs consideration. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that we have no right to publish communications which we receive from other Governments or which pass between other Governments, even though we have copies of the documents, without the consent of all parties, but the matter will certainly be considered.
§ Mr. MANDER
Are not these prolonged negotiations providing Germany with an excellent opportunity for rearmament?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I gather then that the hon. Gentleman, for once, approves of what the Government propose to do.
§ Mr. THORNE
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the new Memorandum differs fundamentally from the previous one?
§ Sir J. SIMON
I could, of course, very easily answer the question, but I think, on the whole, as the document is going very shortly to be published, it is better to make no statement verbally.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that it is possible within this present system of what we call capitalism——