HC Deb 05 November 1934 vol 293 cc617-8
12. Mr. MABANE

asked, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any final arrangements have been settled as to the manner in which the plebiscite will be taken in the Saar territory?


The Saar Plebiscite Commission, which entered on its duties on the 1st July last, is entrusted by the Council of the League of Nations with powers of organisation, direction and supervision in regard to the plebiscite in the Saar territory to be held on the 13th January next. The arrangements for the holding of the plebiscite are being duly made by that body. Various matters arising out of the plebiscite will also be discussed at the forthcoming session of the council on the 21st November.


Can my right hon. Friend say whether there is justification for any fears that Powers interested may attempt to interfere with the manner in which the plebiscite is likely to be taken?


I should trust not, but I have notice of a question on this subject from the Leader of the Opposition, which will be answered later.


(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make with reference to the maintenance of order in the Saar Territory?


The responsibility for maintaining order in the Saar Basin rests with the Governing Commission of the Saar, and this responsibility continues to be successfully discharged by the Commission. A situation in which the Government of the Saar found itself unable to maintain order ought not to occur, and I trust will never occur. So long ago as 1926 the Saar Governing Commission stated to the Council of the League that it would regard itself as entitled in case of absolute necessity to call upon troops stationed outside the territory and in the vicinity of its frontiers to assist in maintaining order. The Council of the League took note of this report from the Saar Governing Commission on the 18th March, 1926.

The House will, therefore, see that there never has been any question of the use of British troops, and nothing of the sort on our part is contemplated. Any French dispositions in the part of France bordering on the Saar territory on the west are purely precautionary, and, as I have pointed out, there can be no question of the use of external force for preserving order unless the Saar Governing Commission is unable to discharge the task laid upon it and is compelled to ask for assistance. The German Ambassador saw me at my request this morning, and confirmed the information published in the Press on Saturday that the German Government authorities had issued orders to the S.A. and S.S. formations on the German side of the Saar frontier prohibiting over a belt 25 miles wide and over a period which covers the date of the taking of the plebiscite, the wearing of uniforms, parades, processions or gatherings of any kind, and have at the same time issued a solemn assurance that there is no danger of an invasion of the territory of the Saar. I have expressed both to Herr von Hoesch and to the French Ambassador to-day the satisfaction of His Majesty's Government at this announcement, and at the same time have received from the French Ambassador the assurance that the French arrangements are of a purely precautionary kind as already indicated. In these circumstances we have the right to expect that, with due restraint in all quarters, the plebiscite which it is the duty of the Council of the League to conduct will be carried through properly and in due order on the 13th January.

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