§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I beg to move,That the terms put forward by His Majesty's Government as a basis for an Italo-Abyssinian settlement reward the declared aggressor at the expense of the victim, destroy collective security, and conflict with the expressed will of the country and with the Covenant of the League of Nations, to the support of which the honour of Great Britain is pledged; this House, therefore, demands that these terms be immediately repudiated.I feel sure I am expressing the feeling of everyone in the House in saying that we have the greatest sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman the late Foreign Secretary in the position in which he finds himself to-day. Every hon. Member realises what the making of such a speech must have cost the right hon. Gentleman. We all sympathise with him, particularly as we know that he is suffering in health. We know the great burden of the heavy labours which he has had during the past four years. We know that he has been in ill health, and hope that he will speedily recover. The right hon. Gentleman has explained to the House his resignation, but we have not yet had an explanation as to where the Government as a whole stand in this matter. It seemed to me, as I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, that there was one point left out. No one will doubt that the right hon. Gentleman was doing his best in the circumstances, but the point is as to whether the action he took squared with the declared policy of the Government, with the declared intentions of the Government to support collective security and with the declared policy of the Government to make the collective system a success. The one thing which seemed to stand out most of all among other fears was the fear lest the League should be too successful, and that is where we have to ask where the Government stand. For our part we cannot accept, unless we have very positive evidence, the right hon. Gentleman 2018 being made the scapegoat for acts for which, I believe, I shall show that the Government have taken collective responsibility. If it is right for the right hon. Gentleman to resign, then it is right for the Government to resign.
The Motion expresses clearly, and I believe quite fairly, the opinion of the majority of the people of this country of the terms put forward by the Government for the settlement of this dispute—terms not only put forward by the Government, but pressed by the Government on the Emperor of Abyssinia: terms which are put forward as just terms, terms which are put forward in the name of this country as consonant with our idea of justice. What are these terms? Hon. Members know them. They can be put in a nutshell: it is the surrender to an aggressor of half an Empire in exchange for a corridor for camels. We are demanding the repudiation of these terms. We are told that they are dead, but they stand on record as the view of the Government of Great Britain of what is just. We say that they misrepresent the people of this country; that to give immense concessions to the wrongdoer at the expense of the victim is not British justice; that to help the wrongdoer runs contrary to the British idea of fair play; that to betray a weak and backward people who trust us is an affront to the good name of this country; and that to encourage violence and allow the aggressor to profit by his wrongdoing destroys the whole foundation of collective security, destroys the League of Nations itself. It puts a premium on lawlessness. It does not bring peace; it brings a sword. It is a direct encouragement of future wars. And these terms which are being put forward by the Government are regarded by the people of this country as a betrayal of the electors who were induced to support the Government at the last General Election.
I am conscious that in putting forward this Motion I have behind me an immense volume of support both at home and abroad. I believe that the majority of Members of this House are sympathetic to the substance of the Motion. There are two other Motions on the Order Paper and both of them implicitly, though not explicitly, concede our case. There is one in the name of the hon. 2019 and gallant Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears) and many other hon. Members which recognises that these proposals are unacceptable and asks the Government to resume the policy endorsed by the country at the recent General Election. You cannot resume something which you have never relinquished. The second Motion in the name of the noble Lord the right hon. Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) and other hon. Members recognises it equally clearly. It says:this House, holding that any terms for settling the Italo-Abyssinian dispute should be such as the League can accept, assures His Majesty's Government of its full support in pursuing the foreign policy outlined in the Government manifesto and endorsed by the country at the recent General Election.That implies that the terms put forward by the Government are such as the League cannot accept. I do not think I need labour the point of the profound indignation which swept through this country when these terms leaked out—because they leaked out; they were not given out. It was an accidental publication. If you take the whole of the responsible Press of this country—I will give the Government the "Daily Mail" and the "Daily Express"; they are doubtful support for any Government—the "Times," the "Daily Telegraph," the "Herald" or the "Manchester Guardian," they all take the same line, and hon. Members will hardly deny that these newspapers represent a large proportion of the reading public of all parties. I do not know what hon. Members would have said if they had seen the articles which were written in the "Times" appearing in the "Daily Herald." I suppose they would have said that those articles were irresponsible and partisan. Most hon. Members have probably received masses of letters, as I have, from people of all political views and from people who are not interested in politics at all and, from those letters, one can collect what the reactions to this business have been. I want to quote just one or two of them. Here is one:As a lifelong Conservative I write to you to say that I consider the difference between the Paris peace plan and the pre-Election pledges of the Government so great, that I am bitterly ashamed of having supported the Government at the last Election.2020 [HON. MEMBERS: "Name"!] These letters were sent to me not for publication, but any hon. Member who wishes can see them. Here is another:As a lifelong Conservative, let me say how amazed, disgusted and appalled I am to read these so-called peace proposals. I feel that Mr. Baldwin has let us down in the recent Election.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
These are the mildest that I have selected from letters written to me by Conservatives. I could not repeat in this House some of the letters that have been sent to me. This is a passage from a letter written by a man who is not a Labour supporter but a Conservative:Every single individual I have spoken to, of any political creed, is both shocked and ashamed at the terms suggested but above everything else depressed beyond words that the world outside this country should have been given such an opportunity to point the finger of scorn at us. They have been longing to do it for generations and now they are fully armed for generations to come.I am sure other hon. Members have received letters not unlike those which I have quoted. The fact is that not only in this country but all over the world there has been a shock that this country should be taken as supporting such terms of these. This is not something which has sprung from a mistake. This is something in which we had a definite decision by the Government. I think that the leakage of the news was very fortunate. I think it would have been a most unhappy thing if these terms had been sent to Geneva without our knowing about them, and it without any protest this proposal was going around the world in our name. I heard it suggested that the leakage caused all the trouble; that if these terms had been put out nicely dressed up, with a few words about devotion to the League and to collective security it would have been all right; that it was the absence of the kiss that made the offence, and not the betrayal itself. I cannot accept that view. I ask hon. Members to consider very briefly the history of this affair. It is necessary to go back some way, but I am not going to trouble hon. Members with the details at any great length.
2021 Let us bear in mind in considering this matter that we are members of the League of Nations, that we are pledged to that body, and that the League is an organisation for the ending of war as an instrument of policy. It is a system of collective security designed to remove from those who participate in it the fear of being exposed single-handed to the attack of an aggressor. That is an essential point. Let us bear in mind that the League is not an unholy alliance of four or five great capitalist Powers with a number of small Powers which are just there for ornament. The essence of the League is that it should give protection to the small Powers, that it should give protection to all Powers and should therefore bear in mind that an attack on one member is an attack on all. It is no good trying to say, "After all this or that State was not a very respectable member of the League and we have to acquiesce in giving away their territory." The fact is that when you say that, you remove the sense of security from every one of the members. What confidence is any State in Middle Europe to have, if it finds that some other State is to be carved up under threat?
The history of the situation between Abyssinia, Italy and this country goes back some way. You can take the agreement of 1906, the agreement of 1915 and the agreement of 1926, and you find that they make up an Imperialist thread in a very twisted skein. I have said before in this House that the trouble with the Government's foreign policy is its duality: the fact that you have not a single line of policy but the constant interweaving of the Imperialist and the League of Nations policies and at the back of this dispute there is always the fact that, from time to time, proposals for the carving up of Abyssinia have been made and have been entertained by this country. We had the original frontier dispute—apparently quite small as most of these disputes are at the start—we had the attempts to settle it, the long delay of the League and then the planned aggression of Italy.
Then we come down to the vital matter in this whole business, and that is the speech of the late Foreign Secretary at Geneva. When I listened to the right hon. Gentleman's apology and followed out the course of his argument, I thought 2022 that the mistake for which he was going to apologise was that of having ever stood by the League and of having made that speech at Geneva. The whole of his speech might have been quite suitable to someone who was trying to patch up a quarrel in the days before the League. It was quite impossible for one of the foremost supporters of the League in the Assembly at Geneva. Let us recall what the right hon. Gentleman said:In conformity with its precise and explicit obligations the League stands and my country stands with it, for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety and particularly for steady collective resistance to all acts of unprovoked aggression.Steady collective resistance does not mean giving away half the territory of one of the States concerned.The attitude of the British nation in the last few weeks has clearly demonstrated the fact that this is no variable and unreliable sentiment, but a principle of international conduct to which they and their Government hold with firm enduring and universal persistence.That was a reference to the Peace Ballot. What did this statement involve? It involved loyal support of the Covenant. It involved denial of success to the aggressor. It involved support of the victim of aggression. It involved the imposition of sanctions if the League so decided. It involved defence of a League State imposing sanctions, if attacked. It did not involve unilateral action. We are quite agreed on that point. The Government did not ask, nor did anyone ask, for military sanctions. But one thing it did involve. It involved a risk. The right hon. Gentleman has been telling us of those risks this afternoon, and he clearly envisaged those risks. He told us, in fact, that it was a question of how much support we could get from other States. There was a definite question put to the French Government. The late Foreign Secretary, speaking in this House on 22nd October, said:The French answer is the answer we felt sure it would be.… They interpret Article 16 as we interpret it. In the event of an isolated attack inconceivable though such madness might be"—On 22nd October it was inconceivable. To-day it is a terrible peril. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, but is the Foreign Secretary resigning because we disregarded this peril which we thought in October was inconceivable? 2023 The point is that it was clearly envisaged that there was a possible risk and the Foreign Secretary said:In the event of an isolated attack … we and they and the rest of the League stand together and resist it with our full and united force."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd October, 1935; col. 29, Vol. 305.]That was the statement of what they would do. Had the right hon. Gentleman made inquiries of anyone besides France as to what they would do? It is no good coming down to this House and saying, "No one has done anything; no one can do anything." I ask was any suggestion made, because the right hon. Gentleman assured us that he had French agreement? Admittedly there was a risk, but the right hon. Gentleman and the Government said, "We are prepared to take that risk; we are assured of support which makes that risk inconceivable. It is most unlikely." They proposed to go forward in the League with carrying out the Covenant and protecting the victim of aggression. In fact, they entered into a great experiment. As the late Foreign Secretary said:For the first time the system of collective action and collective security is being tested in face of a great crisis.… If it succeeds an immense gain will have been achieved for the peace of the world. If it fails heavy disappointment will have fallen on all who desire to eliminate war as an instrument of national policy and a heavy responsibility on those who have wavered in the cause."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd October, 1935, col. 32; Vol. 305.]When we read that, we all thought that the right hon. Gentleman wanted the League to succeed. The right hon. Gentleman to-day seems to think that the most terrible thing would be if this thing were brought about by the defeat of one of the parties. [HON. MEMBERS "No!"] The impression that I got from his speech all through was that there must be negotiations and that there was danger if the League were successful. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I want to know, when it was proposed to impose sanctions, what those sanctions were for. Were they not to stop this war? Were they not to bring pressure upon, I imagine, Signor Mussolini? The right hon. Gentleman said the sanctions were already beginning to have their effect, but that there were difficulties. Well, the difficulties of sanctions ought to have been thought of before going into the policy of sanctions. 2024 Prefatory to enforcing sanctions the Government did not exclude negotiations within the League. They always took the line that there should be negotiations, and they negotiated before the war broke out and afterwards. Strictly speaking, under the Covenant they should not have negotiated after the war had broken out. The Covenant lays it down that the aggressor should recede from his aggression before offers are made. The Government tried to reach a way out by negotiation. But this was always to be on terms satisfactory to all three parties, the League, Abyssinia and Italy.
I have said more than once in the House that I do not believe that you could get a settlement on terms which would be satisfactory to all three parties. Still the attempt was made. Let me see where the basis of this settlement came from. On 16th October, in response to requests by the French Government and our Government, Signor Mussolini submitted his maximum demands—what he called "our inderogable necessities." Abyssinia was to be divided into two zones, Ethiopia proper and non-Amharic territory. I am taking this from the Press reports; we have not got the full text. Italy was to be given control by mandate of the concession over all or part of the non-Amharic zone, and particularly those provinces bordering on present Italian possessions. The acceptance of Italian sovereignty in Tigre by chiefs, etc., was to be recognised as an accomplished fact. Security of Italian colonies in East Africa was to be assured by effective control of Ethiopian armaments. The League was to accept full responsibility for the observance by Ethiopia proper of her obligations under the Covenant to abolish slavery. It was also provided that Ethiopia might be granted the use of Assab as a sea port. How closely these demands correspond with the basis of negotiations put forward by our Government. We are told that the terms put forward are not our Government terms and not the French terms. It looks very much as if they were Signor Mussolini's terms, which were put forward as a basis. I imagine that the terms I have quoted are as near to the actual as the leakage was to the actual.
Well, sanctions were imposed with the remarkable loyalty of the members of the League. We were told that all was quite well and that other sanctions were being 2025 discussed. All was going so well that the Prime Minister was able to say that there was a lull and we could have a General Election. I suppose that the right hon. Gentleman discussed with the late Foreign Secretary the matter of whether it was safe to have a General Election. The effects of the General Election are fresh and vivid in all our minds. The electors were asked to vote for the Prime Minister as "The man you can trust." Great stress was laid on fidelity to League principles. The Government's election manifesto said:The League of Nations will remain as heretofore, the keystone of British foreign policy … We shall therefore continue to do all in our power to uphold the Covenant and to maintain and increase the efficiency of the League. In the present unhappy dispute between Italy and Abyssinia there will be no wavering in the policy we have hitherto pursued.Let us see exactly what was meant. This is what Mr. Ramsay MacDonald said in his Election address:Peace is the supreme concern of civilisation and I believe the future of peace depends on how far the League of Nations acting as a united body can prevent aggressors from gaining advantage by war. So soon as nations band themselves together to prevent war bringing even the semblance of benefit to the aggressors that will end war and enable peace to be firmly established. Our chief concern in the war between Italy and Abyssinia is that it threatens to destroy the system that we have built up to protect you and your children against war. Will you help us to secure peace through the League of Nations or will you eompel every Government, whatever its principles may be to return to the old ways of militarism and war?Here we have this great body of nations engaged in collective sanctions and in trying to prevent this thing that Mr. MacDonald said would lead to militarism and war. But the Government make proposals which entirely destroy this basis. May I also read from a remarkable letter in the "Times" from a late colleague in this House, Colonel Headlam? It may as well he quite clear what happened in the Election. He writes:During the election campaign Socialists and Liberals constantly asserted that if a Conservative majority were returned to the House of Commons the Government would under cover of this majority take the first opportunity to buy off the Italians and so wreck the whole system of collective security. These allegations were strenuously denied by Conservative candidates on every platform in the country because they honestly believed them to be false.2026 We know that the Foreign Secretary had a very heavy burden, that he was not well, and that he urgently needed a holiday. A critical stage of the proceedings of the League had been reached. The right hon. Gentleman was about to go on a holiday. The Cabinet, recognising his need of a holiday, entrusted him with about the most difficult task a man could have. Was that fair? The Government are unusually well provided with Ministers of Foreign Affairs. They have no less than four of them, and they could have set all their Ministers to work. Was it fair to put this burden on a man, and expect him to do it as a kind of merely looking in on the way to a holiday? It was a most amazing thing. What we should like to know is: What were the instructions to the right hon. Gentleman before he went to Paris? Was he given a free hand? Was he told just to go and do his best? I understand that officials had been working for a long time on some kind of plan. I think the Government were quite cognisant of this plan. When the right hon. Gentleman came to an agreement with M. Laval the agreement was sent back to this country.
The Prime Minister, replying to me on 9th December, said that the documents had been received that morning and were under careful consideration. There was a Cabinet meeting that day in the House of Commons. When they received this plan did the Government agree with it? If they agreed with it, I cannot see why the late Foreign Secretary is the only one resigning. If they did not agree with it, why did they not stop it before it was too late? Why, two days later, was the Emperor of Abyssinia pressed to accept these terms? We all know what happened. Questions were asked in this House about reports of the terms in the Press, and the Minister for League of Nations Affairs and the Prime Minister came down to make an explanation. I think that explanation might have been a good deal more frank and more full. We want to know what the Government thought of the plan at that time, because very curious statements were made in that Debate. We were first of all told that there were differences of substance between the actual terms and the reported terms. As a matter of fact, it is abundantly clear that the substance of what was reported was correct. The Prime Minister would have done a great deal better to have 2027 told the House that it was correct. It was bound to come out sooner or later. What of the defence put up by the Minister for League of Nations Affairs who talked of an exchange of territory? Is it not ridiculous to call this an exchange of territory? Then we had quite a remarkable statement of which I await an explanation. The Minister for League of Nations Affairs said:The proposals have not been despatched to either of the parties to the dispute. The procedure in connection with these proposals has yet to be agreed between us and the French Government.The Prime Minister said that no communications of any kind had been sent to Addis Ababa or to Rome. Those statements were made somewhere between 7.42 and 9 o'clock on the evening of the 10th. At that time no communications, we were told, had been sent to either party. But according to the White Paper telegrams containing the terms were despatched on the 10th to these capitals. Were they sent after this Debate in the House? And who sent them? They are sent as from London. According to the statements we have here, they were certainly not sent before 8 o'clock. They were not sent then until the Prime Minister had some inkling of what the feeling was on all sides in this House. Also after the terms were sent there was the second telegram instructing our Minister to do his utmost to get the Emperor of Abyssinia to accept them. That was presumably sent, again, by the authority and with the knowledge of the Government. They, apparently, thought these terms were just.
Then what happened? The Minister for League of Nations Affairs goes to Geneva, and in the coldest terms introduces these proposals. He says: "They are not really our proposals or French proposals; they just form a basis for possible discussion. We do not press anyone to accept them." According to the Foreign Secretary these were vital proposals, absolutely necessary to deal with the crisis. Then we have the Prime Minister's remarkable statement about his lips being sealed. He said:Were these troubles over I would make a case, and I guarantee that not a man would go into the Lobby against us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1935; col. 852, Vol. 307.]Will that case be made to-day? The late Foreign Secretary has made his case. 2028 He has told us of difficulties and dangers, but he has made no sort of a case for putting forward in the name of this country these particular proposals. We want to know something more about what the late Foreign Secretary said about a faltering in support of this country. We put a question this week as to whether Britain still had the same support from France. It was answered in the affirmative. But the fact of the right hon. Gentleman making that statement has led to the wildest rumours being set about in this House and outside. It has been suggested that France would not stand by as, and that Italy was going to attack us. We ought to know quite clearly just how the Government estimated these things, because even if there was imminent danger of war, it does not justify this action. The Government could have gone back to the League and said, "The League has failed; we have to withdraw sanctions; we have to leave this matter." But what the Government actually did was to say, "We suggest that the aggressor should be rewarded with more than he has managed to conquer."
This was to betray completely the people of Abyssinia. The issue is one of a League member attacked, but the fact remains that the se people regarded themselves as protected by the plighted word of this country and by the plighted word of other countries in the League. The Government might have said, "Well, we can stop; we shall have to leave them to make the best peace they can." It is by no means certain how events in Abyssinia will turn out at the present time. By doing what they did, the Government did much more than try to make negotiations. They sided with the aggressor and with an aggression which the nations of the world has said was unjustified. The Government say, "We think it just to give them a very large part of their demands." It betrays the people of Abyssinia, it betrays the League, and it betrays the people of this country who voted for the Prime Minister at the last election. I have not the slightest doubt, from the letters I have read, what the feeling is about that. I have referred to the letter from Colonel Headlam, and it is perfectly clear.
There are two issues raised to-day. There is the question of the honour of this country, and these is the question 2029 of the honour of the Prime Minister. If, as is suggested in some quarters, the Prime Minister won an election on one policy and immediately after victory was prepared to carry out another, it has an extremely ugly look; and let me say that that is not being said by political opponents of the Prime Minister only. One hears it everywhere, from people in every walk of life, from people who on no other occasion would possibly be found siding with this party, and that has to be cleared up. Secondly, there is the honour of this country. You can plead the very great dangers: I admit them. You can plead the overmastering need for peace: We are with you in that. But you have to see too that by your actions you are not deliberately provoking war. The failure in this field was worse than never having entered upon it at all, because you have the brave words of a great experiment, of how this country was standing firm for a new system. If you turn and run away from the aggressor, you kill the League, and you do worse than that, or as bad as that: you kill all faith in the word of honour of this country.
We say that, in these circumstances, there is only one thing that can be done. These terms must be repudiated as not being the expression of the will of the people of this country. As long as they remain on the record, they are there to be brought up against us at any time, and I suggest to the House that if we could have a free vote on these words in our Motion, they would be carried by a huge majority, because there is nothing in any special pleading as to the difficulties of the time that justifies us in dishonouring our word. The plea that you were frightened is not a good one. It is not for this country to say, "We were very, very frightened, and therefore we had to depart from our word, and therefore we had to sell out to the aggressor." It does not raise the standing of this country in the world.
Sir, we live in very difficult and dangerous times, times when there are wars and rumours of wars, times when you have armed dictatorships. You will only meet those by giving a lead to the peace forces of the world, by giving a lead to the people who believe in liberty. You will not do that by running away. You will not do it even by piling up armaments, because an armed coward will never get the respect of the world, nor 2030 an armed government. We are out to try to build a system of collective security under the shelter of which we can get disarmament that will bring all wars to an end. We intend to rally to that cause all the people of good will in the world. We believe that our country should take a lead in doing that, but unless this action is repudiated, we have sold the pass and we have helped the world to the rush back to anarchy and war.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
Sir, on the occasion of this discussion I know, for the reasons that I am going to give, that I shall have my meed of sympathy from Members of this House. My right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary has been associated with me from the time when we sat on back benches together for a quarter of a century. For many years we have shared the labour and the responsibilities of government. He was one of my colleagues on whom I have always been able to rely for loyal support, for vision, and for wise judgment on every kind of subject that may come up to a Cabinet, and the loss of his services at this time is not only a grave loss to the Government, but it is a loss that I and some of the older Members of us feel most keenly on the grounds of personal regard and personal affection. I would like to make one other observation, and I hope hon. Members will forgive me for making it. The thing that comes into my mind sometimes in the performance of my duties, as one who has to make a Government or make changes in a Government, is this: The late Lord Salisbury, after seeing the dead body of his life-long friend Lord Iddesleigh lying at his feet, said, in a letter to Lord Randolph Churchill, that politics was a cursed trade. I think of my friend—who has left the Chamber—and I reflect that for some months past he has worked as no British statesman has worked before to put into practice those principles of the League which this House and this country support. He has done more than any individual to bring the 50 nations of the League to play a collective part, and his whole work has been based on the League and on faith in the League. On this one occasion, still convinced, as I know he was, that all that he was doing was within that framework, the preparations he was making with 2031 the French Prime Minister for submission to the League, he has done something for which he has been condemned, and his services are lost.
I remember well, if I may turn to one other case of this kind, when my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), during our Government of 1924, worked day in and day out for those same League principles; I remember perfectly well how at the election those who were the keenest supporters of the League principles never recognised at that time what he had done; and I remember very well that he had a vast volume of votes thrown against him by the very men whose work he had been doing. Those were, those are, the fortunes of politics, and just on this day I hope the House will bear with me and forgive me for having struck that personal note.
Now, Sir, I wish to deal with the main question that was put to me from the bench opposite. There may be questions of detail which I think may well be left till later in the day, when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is sitting beside me, will take up the thread of the Debate, but there are one or two big questions which must be answered, and be answered now, and whether my answer is satisfactory to the House or not, I shall give that answer to the best of my ability. I am going to be perfectly frank, I am going to say exactly what I feel, and I am going to describe my own part, which is never an easy matter for a man to do when he does not feel complete satisfaction with it. I am going to describe my own part to the House with perfect frankness, and perhaps I may put it in this way: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as he then was, went to Paris, as he said. I will pass over the question of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition: Was it fair to send him? Is it fair very often in politics to expect Ministers to discharge their duties, as they are expected to do, when they are very tired and worn out? It happens to all of us. It happens to every one in the high places of this world, and we neither ask for nor expect quarter.
When my right hon. Friend went to have these conversations, there was an absence of liaison—on which I am going 2032 to say a word—during that Sunday. We were not aware until it had been accomplished that an agreement had been come to. It was not until breakfast time on Monday morning that I received a letter from my right hon. Friend urging that the Cabinet might endorse what he had done, as he believed it to be a necessary piece of work at the moment. Almost immediately afterwards, and before we had had time to study the documents, the leakage took place. I will say nothing more about that, but this was our position. We were summoned to consider whether we would endorse the action of our colleague or whether we would repudiate it. We had to decide quickly. There was no time, as it seemed to us then, for discussion owing to the leakage that had taken place. We had to decide quickly because we knew that a storm of questions would be upon us and that the matter would be raised in this House. We none of us liked the proposals; we thought they went too far. We were all in favour of striving for peace. I stressed that during the Election again and again.
We thought the proposals went too far and we would have liked to modify them. We did not like the framework that had come over from Paris in which these proposals were contained—that is to say, the language—and we would have liked to modify it. Time, however, was short. Were we to repudiate it and let the French know immediately that an agreement, at any rate on these lines, was impossible? Here, although we were all responsible, the chief responsibility was mine, as it must be, and I decided at once that I must support the colleague who was not present to give his reasons, not present to be examined. Whether that was wise or not is another question, but that is what I did, and I would ask any right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite what he would have done in a similar position. He would have obeyed his first instinct, and, in nine cases out of ten, our first instinct is to stand by a colleague who is absent. I can quite see, looking back, that I ought at any cost to have fetched back my colleague from Switzerland. I see that, and I acknowledge it frankly. If I thought of it, I dismissed it in a moment because I knew how necessary rest was for him. His health had been causing me anxiety. I was anxious when I asked him to take that office, but I 2033 felt confident that he would be able to get a sufficiently long holiday in the summer to give him the rest he required. We all know, however, with what speed the crisis moved at the end of July, and it became impossible for him, as so often happens to the Foreign Secretary, to have any holiday at all.
You may say that it was an act of weakness on my part. It certainly was an error of judgment. It certainly was an error with which we were all concerned, but for which I am chiefly responsible. But I think, also, that there is a lesson to be drawn from it, from which I hope we shall profit. I hope that whatever Government may succeed us in future years may profit also, for it strikes a very vital chord. Since the War there has grown up, largely owing to the functioning of the League of Nations, a practice for Ministers in high positions to have discussions with one another on the Continent and sometimes to reach conclusions, but there is a real difficulty in maintaining that liaison which ought to be maintained with the Cabinet at home. Before this method became common we relied on what was called diplomatic procedure, and in some modern quarters, and certainly in the countries with dictatorships, that practice is regarded as old-fashioned, but what did it mean in practice? It meant a far more careful examination of the questions under negotiation than has often been possible by the more modern system. Indeed, nothing could be more fatal very often than that modern feeling that speed is an essential part of the system, involving as it often does the sending of a telegram from one capital to another and the expectation that a reply on important things may be sent back the same night.
Speed may often be a matter of great danger. In this case, I admit much harm has been done. I think it will take time to rectify that, but it is quite conceivable that, in some such similar situation with this Government or another, so long as this practice is followed, some irremediable disaster may accrue. So, for my part, I have determined that such a position shall not be possible again. The maintenance of liaison, even if it means delay, is essential. It is not fair, and I can see it is not now, although it has been a common practice, for it may often put a greater burden of responsibility on 2034 an individual Minister than any individual Minister ought to be asked to carry.
§ Mr. LEES-SMITH
Before the Prime Minister passes from that point, will he allow me to put a question, for I am sure he wishes to make this clear? He received this communication at breakfast time, and he has explained how he had to take a difficult personal decision. But there was a Cabinet meeting at 6 o'clock on the Monday night, and it is necessary to make it clear whether his decision was placed before the Cabinet and became, therefore, the collective responsibility of the Government.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is a question which I am surprised should be asked by one who has been a Cabinet Minister. I thought I had made it clear. The responsibility was that of myself and my colleagues, and it is the responsibility of each and all of us. I think that everyone who has had Cabinet experience will admit that that is the position. There can be no question about that. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I am not anxious to evade anything; the matter is far too serious, and I will do the best I can to deal with it. I was just going to say a word about what the right hon. Gentleman said in regard to the storm that arose through the country. I am coming shortly to what is the position of the Government, but I would like to make clear that never throughout that week had I or any one of my colleagues any idea in our own minds that we were not being true to every pledge that we had given in the Election. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It is perfectly fair that hon. Members should make any criticisms they wish to make. Naturally, they are here to criticise me, and, if they can, to get a Vote of Censure on me. I am telling the House exactly how we all felt, and having, as I said, felt that these proposals went too far, I was not at all surprised at the expression of feeling in that direction.
I was not expecting that deeper feeling which was manifested by many of my hon. Friends and friends in many parts of the country on what I may call the ground of conscience and of honour. The moment I am confronted with that I know that something has happened that has appealed to the deepest feelings of our countrymen, that some note has been struck that brings back from them 2035 a response from the depths. I examined again all that I had done, and I felt that with that feeling, which was perfectly obvious, there could not be the support in this country behind those proposals even as terms of negotiation. I felt that there could not be that volume of popular opinion which it is necessary to have in a democracy behind the Government in a matter so important as this. For our part, we were always perfectly content to leave these proposals entirely for the decision of the League. It is perfectly obvious now that the proposals are absolutely and completely dead. This Government is certainly going to make no attempt to resurrect them. I might add this to what I have said about the feeling in the House and the country. If there arose a storm when I knew I was in the right I would let it break on me, and I would either survive it or break. If I felt after examination of myself that there was in that storm something which showed me that, however unconsciously, I had done something that was not wise or right, then I would bow to it.
I am not going to refer by way of criticism to a single word that my right hon. Friend said. I think that it was a very fair, dignified and statesmanlike speech. The question has been asked where the Government stand. I can answer that, I think, without, as far as I am concerned, very much difficulty. The Government stand where they always have stood. The right hon. Gentleman made a quotation from the joint manifesto of the leaders of the Government. I am sorry to take the time of the House, but there are one or two passages I must read because they are very important.The League of Nations will remain as heretofore the keystone of British foreign policy. The prevention of war and the establishment of settled peace in the world must always be the most vital interest of the British people, and the League is the instrument which has been framed and to which we look for the attainment of those objects.It goes on, in the words which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, to say how we hope by further discussion to secure a peace honourable and satisfactory to all three parties. If I may come to my own words, though no one refers with so much 2036 reluctance to anything he has said as I do, I will quote one short passage from the speech I made at Wolverhampton to open the Election campaign which bears very much on the question we are discussing this afternoon. I think it expressed, perhaps rather in platform language, what I felt, what I meant, what I stood by. I said:The policy of this Government so far as peace is concerned is based upon the League of Nations; to work through the League of Nations in every way possible; to do what we can to strengthen it; never to give up hope; and if we should find that our efforts and the efforts of all our friends in the League of Nations on this occasion fail of the high hopes that many of us have had, never despair.I think those are rather good words:Sit down and consider how you can make your machinery more effective in the future. Never say die.There is the platform coming out. Hon. Members opposite will forgive me, I have no doubt:See what you can do to bring the other nations in. 'Hitch your wagon to a star.' Above all, work for all you are worth for that collective peace which, difficult of attainment as it may be, hard as it may be to get, is yet the only alternative between a race in armaments and the risk of uncontrolled war breaking out some day in the world and lighting a fire that mankind will not be able to put out before it has destroyed them.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It is much easier to invite hon. Members opposite to come over here. Every word I said there I adhere to; and unless; you think that the terms contained in that offer went so far beyond what ought to have been done as to make all that we have done of non-effect in your eyes, I claim that we have kept that pledge. We have played our part in setting that formidable machinery of the League to work. We have made those preparations which my right hon. Friend explained to the House had been made to fulfil in the letter and the spirit whatever might be demanded of us under the Covenant of the League of Nations in all and every circumstance. We have done that. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Why did the Foreign Secretary resign"?] We have not been behindhand, we have sometimes urged other nations, and at this moment, as we have done all the time, we are prepared collectively to fulfil our part in every way—collectively.
2037 But I would like to add one word to what my right hon. Friend said of the danger of there being a war in which there is not collective action. I assure the House that what I am going to say, as they will see, is not dictated by fear, by apprehension, or any feeling of that kind. It arises from quite a different motive. I am as anxious as anyone on any bench in this House not only to preserve the League of Nations but to make it effective, not only now but in the future, and if by any chance, and I would only put it like that, this country had to take part in a unilateral war, even for a short time, before others could come in, what I dread is the reaction in this country. I am not thinking of any campaign that might be organised against the Government for bringing the country into war. I am thinking of this: that men will "Well, if by adherence to the League of Nations we find ourselves standing alone to do what ought to be done by everybody," they will say, the country will say, "This is the last time we will allow a Government to commit itself with regard to collective security, because for all we know the next time we may have to employ this the field may be nearer home than the Mediterannean."
If the House will bear with me just for five minutes more I should like to remind them again of what I have often said at public meetings and what I have said in this House, but, believe me, it is a subject on which every Member will have to do a lot of hard thinking. When the League of Nations was founded there was a school of thought which objected to sanctions at all. But many of those who were the strongest advocates of sanctions advocated them because they believed and were convinced that the use of sanctions was a peaceful way of stopping war. Probably, and forgive me for repeating myself, with a world League and all acting at once, it would be completely effective. We have not got that. Therefore, if the League at any time in imposing sanctions gets to any point where the aggressor nation may feel that it would rather fight the League than endure them, the League has to be sure that all those who have power to render help render it at once. If that be done I think there is little doubt that peace could be brought by the force which then would be brought to bear. 2038 What I want to impress on the House is that, after all, the ultimate sanction of the League itself is an immensely superior force, but that force is little good unless it can be employed at once. If it cannot, there is that awful danger of the slow dragging of one country after another into war, and no man can tell what the end will be.
I hope that no one will say while I am speaking that I am now an enemy of the League of Nations. These are things the League itself has to ponder, and there is no doubt that when this melancholy affair in Abyssinia is over, whatever may be the end of it and however the conclusion may be brought about, the nations of the League will have to consider these things. There are implicit in these considerations many points which must occur to hon. Members even while I am speaking, and which will have to be considered by Members of this House. What my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) said was true. In modern war the horror of it is that the country that has made its preparations and completed them is in a position of superiority such as I tremble to think of, and it is not only the mobilisation that he spoke of, but the mobilisation of the capacity to produce. The free nations of Europe to-day have much to think about if they hope to maintain their security; and as to the small nations who look to the League, the measure of their security is the preparedness of those nations in the League as it is to-day who have a sufficient power, if the worst comes to the worst, to help them.
There is much more that might be said on that point, but that is the least I can say to-day, and I feel that at this time it ought to be said, because we have passed away from platitudes and come to stark realities. I do not mean this minute. We have been in an area of realities from the moment the League began to function—from that very moment. I have no doubt these questions are being asked in every country in Europe, and that the right answer may be found to them is vital if the League is to do what we all hope it will, what we mean it to do, and what we, for our part, shall make every endeavour and preparation for it to do. I remember that among the many 2039 speeches I made in the Election I made one to—of all bodies in this country—the International Peace Society, and at the end of that speech I used these words:I have spoken clearly. We are 'bound over to make the peace,' and it may not be an easy task. But we accept it.'What I would say to this House is, if those words of mine are to be taken seriously and to be endorsed by this House, let me ask, at any rate, all those who call themselves supporters of mine to give me their confidence to-night.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend has made his speech in the spirit which we have learned to expect from him. He has been very frank with us. He has taken his full share of responsibility for what has happened. What results from what he said? The proposals which disturbed the mind of the country so much, and which cast dismay into the ranks of the Government's supporters, are dead, and I think that there is an admission from the Prime Minister that they ought not to have been put forward by this country. In saying that, let me also say that I hope it will not be laid down by this House, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition attempted to lay it down, that to negotiate for an immediate termination and settlement of a dispute is disloyalty to the League or an infringement of the Covenant. There is nothing in the Covenant to support that argument—not a word. It is essential, while sanctions are in force which are intended to bring about peace, that the League should never lose sight of the fact that sanctions are not an end in themselves, but only a means to that end; and that if that end can be secured earlier by negotiation—as indeed it always must be, for without negotiation it will only be secured by the exhaustion of one party or the other—it is not merely permissible under the Covenant, but it is a duty under the Covenant, to pursue those negotiations.
As to what is past, I think my principal feeling, after the speeches to which we have listened, is of the tragedy—I hope a very temporary tragedy—which has caused my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) to resign from the office which he held, and from the Government of which he was so 2040 distinguished a member. This House is never ungenerous to its Members, and I undertake to say that there was no one who was not moved by the obvious sincerity and the high purpose of the right hon. Gentleman. It is more tragic because no man in so short a time had won so great a share of the confidence of this country in the conduct of foreign affairs, or raised so high its prestige abroad. I the more regret that the accident of ill-health and an untimely meeting have deprived us of his services at this present time. His speech of resignation is not the least of the services that he has rendered to his country. The past is past. I only say for myself that I shall vote for whichever of the Amendments to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman is put from the Chair. I venture say to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that when, across that Table, he pointed to the Prime Minister and said: "It is your honour that is at stake," he made it certain that no supporter of the Government would abstain from the vote. That is the challenge. Whatever opinion we may hold about what is past, whatever differences of opinion there may be among us as to what ought to be done now, that is a challenge which every Member of the National party will resent and resist.
I want to say a very few words upon the great theme that the late Foreign Secretary opened up. I have been a convinced supporter of the League. I think I have said so before, but perhaps the House will forgive me for repeating that I became a convinced supporter of the League by attending its meetings and taking part in its deliberations; but I was always alarmed during that time at the exaggerated claims which some of its supporters made. I thought they deceived themselves and deceived others by describing our ideal, an object which some day we may reach, as if it were already a solid achievement which was behind us. It was inevitable when not a small Power defined the League when it was more representative and stronger than it is now, but when a great Power defied the League, refused conciliation and disregarded its Covenant and other obligations, that the League would go through a sore time of testing. It has had that testing. It has moved slowly. Its machinery has creaked a great deal, but it has moved, and moved with effect.
2041 Under any true conception of the League it should not have been necessary for the representatives of one Power so often to get out of the cart and shove its wheels. A much heavier burden has fallen upon the representatives of this country, and through them on us, than is compatible with the successful working of collective security. I urge that very strongly, because it gives colour to a most pernicious allegation commonly made in the Italian Press, and given some publicity by Signor Mussolini himself, that this is not a difference between the League and Italy, but between Great Britain and Italy, Great Britain using the League as her cover and instrument. We are prepared to play our part as one of the instruments, but we must not be expected to take so prominent and so solitary a part as to make it appear that it is really our quarrel when, in fact, we are only discharging a covenanted obligation.
I hope that the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea, speaking from this place with greater freedom, I conceive, than he would have ventured to use had he still held the office which he has just vacated, may be read with attention abroad and be received there as sympathetically as they certainly will be here. The Prime Minister has again pledged the Government to go the full length and to do our full share in an effective system of collective security, in which others play their proportionate part and thus make not only the judgment collective, but the execution of it equally collective. What the late Foreign Secretary said to-day is really a question which every member of the League, every nation and Government represented there, has to put to himself or themselves. You cannot expect to draw a dividend whenever you require one, unless you pay your contributions. If you do not pay your premium you cannot be held to be insured, or at least the system of insurance will break down.
What are the words that I remark in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea?—That we alone of all the great Powers, with the danger approaching, had taken any step to meet it; that not another nation had sent a ship to the Mediterranean or moved a soldier on land, or made, so far as we know, any preparation in case war should break out. That is not collective 2042 security. Perhaps it may be well for the League, and a good augury for the future, that a blunder made by our own Government has enabled that question to be clearly stated and the limits of British action to be equally clearly laid down. All with all, and nothing by ourselves. Those are, I believe, the true League lines. If others will be as faithful to those principles and act upon them fully as we are doing and have done, the League will emerge strengthened from this crisis, and aggression will be made more difficult for the future.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
There is no keener opponent in this House than I of the policy which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) and the Government have been pursuing during the last few weeks, but my feelings in listening to the speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea delivered were not so much those of sympathy as of admiration and respect. The right hon. Gentleman has always been a loyal, keen and faithful party man. We, who are his opponents, have always recognised the sincerity of his convictions and the dignity and straightforwardness of his methods of controversy, qualities of which his speech this afternoon was so shining an example.
We remember the great work which he has done all through the past year in carrying through the India Bill, his skill in negotiation with all the diverse interests in India, his courage and resource against a formidable opposition in this House and the mastery which he showed of all the details of that vast and complicated Measure when it came before the Joint Select Committee; and his brief tenure of the Foreign Secretaryship has been marked by that speech at Geneva in September in which he charted a new course in British foreign policy, a course from which public opinion in this country will allow none of his successors to deviate. He has spent himself in the service of the country and of this Government, and in my first speech in this Parliament I expressed, on behalf of my hon. Friends and myself, our concern at the news of his illness, and our regret that he was being ordered away by his doctors on sick leave which had been imperatively prescribed for him and that 2043 he was unable to attend the sittings of this House during the Debate on the Address.
Then, why was this sick and exhausted man sent to Paris? The Prime Minister has not yet fully explained that, but I hope that some Minister will. He was not sent there to engage in an ordinary conversation with the Prime Minister of France; he was sent there to engage in a delicate and crucial negotiation. He has told us to-night that he did not want to go to Paris. He said, "I did not want to go to Paris; I was pressed, and pressed in a way which it was difficult to refuse." Who pressed him? The Prime Minister said, "Oh, in the course of politics we have to do a great many things which are very hard to do, and we have to face up to the consequences." Yes, but a Minister is not generally asked to go and conduct a negotiation as important as this one when the doctors have told him that, although it is in the middle of the Parliamentary Session, he ought to be on sick leave. That is not the man who ought to have been sent to conduct a negotiation of this kind.
The Prime Minister says that he knew nothing about the negotiations that were going on. When I listened to him, I wondered if we were living in the 20th century. A letter appeared on his breakfast table on the Monday morning. Is this the age of aeroplanes and telephones? When negotiations of this importance were going on for two days in Paris, was the Prime Minister not in contact with them? I am told that for six weeks the representatives of the Foreign Office were negotiating in Paris. Was the Prime Minister not informed of those negotiations, or were the negotiations of the right hon. Gentleman conducted on wholly different lines from those of which the Prime Minister had been informed before he went to Paris? I hope that whoever replies for the Government will give us an answer to these questions.
That the right hon. Gentleman, in his state of health, should be sent to Paris to conduct such a negotiation, is no reflection upon his capacity or his devotion to public duty, but it is a reflection upon the judgment and firmness of purpose of the Prime Minister who sent him. Why is he now thrown to the wolves when the man who is ultimately responsible 2044 sits still on the Treasury Bench? "If my lips were unsealed," the Prime Minister told us, "everybody would support me and go into the Lobby with me." A week later, what do we find? Does he repeat that invitation? No, because he knows that it would not be accepted. Does he justify by new information the assertion which he made that we should all follow him? No; he drops his own Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and comes before the House and himself admits the mistake which he had made.
People ought not to try to put too much upon the Prime Minister. Organisations with strong grievances, or appetites, try to force their way past the Departments and come to what they call the fountain head of government, and it is quite right that they should be made to go to the responsible heads of Departments. But here is an issue which involves the honour of our country, the authority of the League, and the peace of the world. The man who bears the supreme responsibility for an issue of that kind is the Prime Minister, and he cannot divest himself of it at this stage by sacrificing a colleague. It was the Prime Minister who made the Election issue. We protested against it; we said that it was not a right and fair issue on which to go to the country, because both the other parties had promised their support to the policy, if it was firmly and consistently pursued, which the Secretary of state for Foreign Affairs of that time was pursuing at Geneva. But the issue at the Election was confidence in the Government to pursue a policy of loyal support of the League of Nations, and of—I quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman who was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—steady and collective resistance to aggression. We remember, too, the Prime Minister's second broadcast to the nation, which was heard by millions of people. He said:You have heard all kinds of talk about our attitude to the League of Nations. Some have tried to make out that we have lagged behind in the past, some that we are too far ahead in the present. The policy has been the same all through, and, if there is one thing which stands out in this fog of criticism, it is the need for unity among ourselves and a firm consistent policy which does not alternate now one way and now another.2045 Now we have the Prime Minister saying, in one week, that if his lips were unsealed all the Members of the House of Commons would go into the Lobby with him, and the next week dropping his Foreign Secretary and coming to that Box and frankly confessing the error which he made in ratifying these proposals. It was, of course, difficult for us to tell before the General Election what would happen after the General Election, but the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, in the concluding week of the last Parliament, told us, at any rate, what was not going to happen after the Election. On 24th October, he said:In a certain quarter this morning there were some very amazing statements published, which alleged that His Majesty's Government had abandoned overnight their policy of wholehearted co-operation with the League, and that we were already negotiating, behind the back of the League, with France and with Italy a settlement of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, which the League would then be asked to accept, and to which Ethiopia, or Abyssinia—I do not know which may be the more correct expression—would be compelled to agree. That is to say, there appeared this morning, after the statements which were made in the House of Commons, the plain suggestion in certain quarters that there is some intrigue about between London, Rome and Paris to present the League with what is called a paper compact which would be detrimental to the interests of one of the parties and inconsistent with the principles of the League itself. I speak with the authority of the Government when I say that there is no truth in this wild accusation at all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1935; col. 457, Vol. 305.]It may have been unauthorised; I have no doubt that it was untrue as far as the knowledge of the Secretary of State for Home Affairs went at the time. It may have been inaccurate within that very fine meaning which the Minister for League of Nations Affairs apparently attaches to the word. But it was certainly remarkably prophetic.
The result of the General Election was, as I said a fortnight ago, a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister; the people trusted him to see the League policy through; and that, as I said in speaking on the Address, threw a special responsibility upon the Prime Minister, more particularly in regard to that issue which most profoundly stirred the electors, namely, the support of the League and resistence to aggression. Did the Prime Minister know, or did he not know, what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 2046 was doing in Paris? Did the Secretary of State, who was two days in Paris, not report back to the Prime Minister during the whole of those two days? I think we are entitled to answers to these questions from the Minister who replies. If the Prime Minister did know, why does the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) retire unaccompanied to that bench?
Let me make two observations on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea. I do not want to say much. I have already said that I am an opponent of the policy which he has been following, but there are just two points in his speech on which I would like to comment. I do not want to say any more about it, because, as the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) said, these proposals are dead, and therefore it is no use discussing the corpse. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea and the Prime Minister emphasised very strongly this point, and it was also emphasised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He said that, although members of the League have worked well together, we are now entering a much more dangerous phase, and that no other State besides ourselves has yet taken military precautions. I agree, both with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea and with the other two right hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, that that is a very formidable assertion; but the first question that I would ask whoever is going to reply for the Government is: "Have we asked them?" We know that we have asked France, and, quite frankly, I thought it was a mistake to ask France only. Why are these private inquiries addressed to the French Government? Why are not these inquiries made of all the nations of the League through the machinery of the League at Geneva? Have they been asked, and what was the reply?
We understand that the reply of the French was that they were willing to help; we were told in answer to a question the day before yesterday that, if we were attacked in the Mediterranean, France would be willing to help. Then the question is: Is she ready to help? It is important that she should be willing; it is still more important that 2047 she should be ready to help. But why send a Minister to Paris to make private inquiries about that? That is a thing which affects the whole League. The Prime Minister and the Government are always talking about collective action—the importance of collective action. We must do nothing—we must not even refrain from selling our oil to the aggressor in Abyssinia—for fear that it would be a breach of collective action. Why is there not collective action in diplomacy too? Why did we not go to Geneva and make these inquiries there about what other Governments are prepared to do? There are things that you can refuse in the coulisses of the Quai d'Orsay but which would be found much more difficult to refuse across the table at Geneva.
The Government knew of these difficulties before the Election; why was not some statement made then about them? I think it is high time that such a statement was made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that something good had come out of the blunder that the Government had made, but why was it necessary that the Government should make a blunder in order that it should come out? Why did not the Government make public long before this their anxieties about this aspect of the situation? Why did they not make their appeal to our fellow-members of the League at Geneva? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham also said a much heavier burden had fallen upon the representatives of this country than was fair and right under the collective system. No one has done more than he has done to bring that to the notice of some of our fellow members of the League. I have in mind a most admirable interview with him which appeared in a French newspaper. It is a pity it seems to me that the Government did not say something on those lines some time ago before we found ourselves in the imbroglio in which we now are.
Now I come to the other point in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea to which I wish to refer. He said there were two things that had been engaging his attention in recent weeks, the need of preventing, first a European conflagration and, secondly, an isolated war between the United Kingdom and Italy, and he said the issue 2048 at the Election was the fear that the people entertained that those risks would become actual. I do not think that was the issue at the Election at all. I believe it was the hope of the people that, if the Government gave a firm lead to the League of Nations at Geneva, we should be able to establish there a firm foundation of permanent peace. It is, indeed, true that never since the War have the dangers to peace been more formidable than they are now. They menace us in Central Europe, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East. But the Prime Minister always inclines to a policy of safety first. Settle with Italy on any terms that the Emperor can be induced to accept and the League cajoled into approving—peace at any price, so long as neither Britain nor France but only Abyssinia has to pay it. That might give us peace in the time of this Government. It will not give us peace in the time of the War generation, or the post-War generation or in the time of our sons. We all want peace between Italy and Abyssinia, but not on a basis against which the conscience of the world revolts. Nor can you find the basis in the lobbies and corridors of the Quai d'Orsay. There are only two firm pillars of peace. They are not too firm but they are sound and they are capable of reinforcement. One is the strength and authority of the League of Nations both to assert the law and to remove the causes of war, and the other is close co-operation with the United States, and in recent weeks the Government has imperilled both.
Nothing that the Prime Minister has said to-day is calculated to strengthen our confidence in his determination to make the League succeed. In war no doubt he was a lion, but in peace he is a defeatist. Only last week—the same thought emerged in a speech of his own at Wolverhampton during the Election from which he quoted—he said in this House:I have hinted at the possibility of the League failing in its earlier attempts to secure peace by collective action. I have always recognised the possibility of that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1935; col. 854, Vol. 307.]He goes on to say that that should be an incentive to try to make it succeed another time. But would the prospects of success be better after failure? This is the great test and, if the League does 2049 not survive this test, it may never be reconstructed in our lifetime. What would have been said of Mr. Asquith if, when the British troops were falling back in 1914, and the French Army was falling back, too, he had said "We may lose the War. If we do, we shall have to pull the country together again afterwards." But not at all. He said "We shall never sheathe the sword until we have redeemed Belgium and crushed Prussian aggression," and he put heart into the country by saying it. It was his faith that moved the country. What would have happened in March, 1918, when the Germans broke through almost to the sea, if Mr. Lloyd George had just said, "We may fail this time but we will pull through somehow after we have been defeated." He put heart into the people by showing his faith in victory, and that is what the Government ought to be doing now if it is to give a lead and to make a success of the League of Nations—show confidence and faith in it. The League can be made to succeed, but it needs faith, which is moral energy and firmness of purpose in asserting the authority of the League on the part of Britain and British statesmen above all.
The Prime Minister's attitude to the League in this crucial test reminds me of Hazlitt's description of York in Richard II:honest, good natured, doing all for the best, and therefore doing nothing,and York's speech to Henry of Lancaster might well have been made by the Prime Minister to Mussolini:Well, well, I see the issue of these arms;I cannot mend it, I must need confess, Because my power is weak, and all ill left;But, if I could, by him that gave me life,I would attach you all, and make you stoopUnto the sovereign mercy of the King; But, since I cannot, be it known to you,I do remain as neuter.The British Empire is neuter now in the counsels of the League. The British Empire, on which rests the capacity and responsibility for giving a lead to the League of Nations, is going to the League and saying "These are our proposals. We do not press them. They are not definitive or sacrosanct. We make no 2050 complaint even if you reject them." That is the pass to which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have sunk after holding the leadership of the League—they even deny responsibility for their own proposals.
They are hardly even neuter, for the language in which these proposals are presented to the Abyssinian victim of aggression is the language almost of menace, certainly of constraint, whereas the language in which they are presented to Italy is the language of suppliants. The steps by which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have approached the Italian Dictator so delicately, are the steps by which, but for the revulsion of public opinion, the League of Nations would have sunk into its grave.
What can the House do now to retrieve the situation? I see that there are four Motions on the Paper. There is the official Motion moved by the Opposition. I cannot see how any Member of the House can vote against it.the terms put forward by His Majesty's Government as a basis for an Italo-Abyssinian settlement reward the declared aggressor at the expense of the victim.Does anyone deny that?they destroy collective security.Does anyone doubt that?and conflict with the expressed will of the country.No one can doubt that. The Prime Minister admitted it himself to-day.and with the Covenant of the League of Nations.No one can doubt that.to the support of which the honour of Great Britain is pledged.No one can doubt that. Then this Motion calls us to action. It calls us to repudiate these terms immediately. I see an Amendment is to be moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton).This House, holding that any terms for settling the Italo-Abyssinian dispute should be such as the League can accept,"—But that is what the Government have said all along. That is what they have said in all their speeches. That is what the Prime Minister said last week, and the Minister for League of Nations Affairs. There is no change in that. It is while they have been saying that that they have been concluding these agreements, 2051 which are a betrayal of the League—assures His Majesty's Government of its full support in pursuing the foreign policy outlined in the Government manifesto and endorsed by the country at the recent General Election.Do they admit that they have been deviating from the foreign policy endorsed by the country at the last Election? If they do not, the Amendment means nothing. It is an electoral smoke-screen behind which the supporters of the Government are expected to find their way into the Government Lobby. Let us, then, pass the main Motion that is before the House. In voting for it I shall be urging the Government to do five things: first, a clear and emphatic repudiation of the Paris proposals, and it is of vital importance that this House should clearly and emphatically repudiate those proposals. The Noble Lord's Amendment does not repudiate them at all and public opinion requires reassurance. It wants to know that its representatives here positively and specifically repudiate those proposals. Secondly, it involves a new and determined effort to assert the authority of the League of Nations in the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia, the continuation of the existing sanctions and the progressive application of sanctions until the authority of the law is asserted against aggression. Thirdly, approval of efforts to bring the dispute to an end and to restore peace at the earliest possible moment by mediation and conciliation. Fourthly, that that peace must be based upon justice and be in accordance with the Covenant of the League of Nations and must show clearly that violence and aggression do not pay. Fifthly, that both peace and mediation on the one hand, and steady and collective resistance to agression on the other, must be pursued at Geneva, and not in Paris. Not only must the Covenant of the League of Nations be respected, but its methods and machinery must be used. Let the House not stultify itself by blurring the edges of this controversy, a controversy on an issue which is vital to the welfare of our country and to the peace of the world. If they adopt the Amendment of the Noble Lord, it will just have that effect of blurring the edges and smearing the controversy over. It 2052 is open to an infinite diversity of interpretation. Let the House rather pass the main Motion, for only so can it be true to the mandate given at the last Election, and only so can it declare its faith in the League of Nations as the upholder of the law and the bulwark of security and peace.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereofthis House, holding that any terms for settling the Italo-Abyssinian dispute should be such as the League can accept, assures His Majesty's Government of its full support in pursuing the foreign policy outlined in the Government manifesto and endorsed by the country at the recent general election.The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has delivered a very eloquent speech and one, I have no doubt, which, more suo, the "News Chronicle" will report at length, ignoring all subsequent arguments on the other side. But, while extremely eloquent, it seemed to me to be totally divorced from the hard and serious facts of a most difficult international situation. I take no exception to the right hon. Gentleman making criticisms and comments on the action of the Government, or even of the Prime Minister, but I resent very strongly, as an independent back bench Member, the over-denunciation, in which he allowed himself to indulge, of the Prime Minister, who with the greatest frankness and fairness himself admitted that he had made a mistake. Really, to listen to the right hon. Gentleman one would suppose that the Prime Minister ought not only to resign, but ought to have been impeached. I am very astonished to hear such language coming from the Leader of the Liberal party, and I think that it is unnecessary to answer the further charges which he has made against my right hon. Friend personally. He also misunderstood, as have other speakers, both the purpose and the contents of the Amendment which I now rise to move.
I should like to make some little personal explanation. It has been suggested in the Press that this is an official Amendment. There is no such thing as an official Amendment moved 2053 from the back benches. I should like, also, to make clear that I am not moving this Amendment at the request of any Member of the Government. On my own volition, and without consultation with anybody, I suggested, it is true, to those in authority that an Amendment of this kind should be put down, and that those of us on the back benches could support it. So far from it being, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal party suggested, a smoke-screen or, as it has been described outside, a face-saving Amendment, it is nothing of the sort. My Amendment involves, and I intend to make, a plain statement of the position as I believe it to be. I intend to be very frank and critical of some commentators who have read into the Government's Manifesto at the Election and their Election policy things which were never in that Manifesto and which were never in the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House. I fully expect that when I sit down I shall have lost what little Parliamentary reputation I possess, because I think that no one in any part of the House will agree fully with everything I am about to say.
The explanatory speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), the former Foreign Secretary, has very greatly cleared the air, and has done a great deal of good. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) paid a tribute to the value of the speech of the right hon. Member for Chelsea in one particular. The resignation of the right hon. Gentleman is, in my opinion, a very heavy blow both on public and personal grounds, and by his action in resigning, and by his speech this afternoon, he has enhanced his reputation for honourable straightforwardness, and he has done something more, which is very important—and I would ask the attention of both Front Benches to this fact—he has strengthened the ancient precedent and principle of the responsibility of the individual in the Cabinet for his departmental actions. In recent years, with more than one Government in power, it has been assumed that when there is public denunciation or criticism the individual Minister that is denounced is purged by being moved to another Department. The right hon. Gentleman 2054 has returned to the old doctrine of Cabinet responsibility. Does anyone deny that? I think that it is a very great tribute to the doctrine of Cabinet responsibility.
I ask the House to allow itself to consider the situation in Europe as it is to-day. Within little more than six months public opinion inside this House and outside has in fact virtually driven two Foreign Secretaries from office. That shows the strength, but not necessarily the wisdom, of democracy, and, personally, I do not envy the position of any Foreign Minister of any party, and I am assuming for the purpose of my argument that the party opposite might have been in power at the present time. This is where I ask the indulgence of the House, because I am going to present an argument that will go against the general sense of the House. In my opinion this country has temporarily, at any rate, to use a French phrase, lost its sense des choses possibles. I do not think the speeches or phrases of leading public men in this country and in this House show that they consider the logical outcome and certain consequences of their actions. It is not the first time that they have done this sort of thing. British public opinion has not always been right. It has often led Governments of this country, and Oppositions, too, into very grave error.
Let me try to explain what I mean. I think that in their present mood the British people have got themselves into an atmosphere of utterly false perspective. This seems to be an apt comparison, because we all know that under certain cloudy conditions, when the air is full of vapour, objects appear much nearer than they are, and equally, when the air is very clear, in the countries where the sun is strong and the air clear, objects appear very far away. The present state of mind in this House and in the country is like a person who sees on the horizon what appears to be a little hill with a gentle approach to it, and on the top of which safety and security are to be found, whereas when one proceeds to make the journey to that hill, he passes over a hot and torrid plain, ascends a mountain by a long and tortuous pass, and finds on the top of it a volcano vomiting forth smoke and fire, and over that volcano is this label—"The absolute and definitive enforcement of the full penalties provided 2055 for breaches of the Covenant of the League, irrespective of consequences." That is the mood of many sections of opinion in this House and outside.
I intend, in the short time that I shall speak, to ask the House to address itself to what the consequence of that state of mind may be. The state of mind to which I have referred was, in fact, not authorised in any way by the Election Manifesto of the Government, but as my Amendment refers to the Election Manifesto, I will quote from it two very relevant sentences. It says, when referring to the League of Nations—this has been challenged in the course of the Debate—We shall take no action in isolation, but we shall be prepared faithfully to take our part in any collective action decided upon by the League and shared in by its members. We shall endeavour to further any discussions"—let me call the attention of the Opposition to this—which may offer the hope of a just and fair settlement provided that it be within the framework of the League and acceptable to the three parties to the dispute.We only said that we would take no action in isolation and that we would only take collective action shared in by its members, with emphasis on "its members." [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that is agreed. What is the situation in the Mediterranean to-day? It has been clearly stated by the late Foreign Secretary, and the Prime Minister has confirmed that statement. We have, it is true, the British Fleet practically mobilised at great cost to this country. The bill has not yet been paid. May I tell hon. Members of the House, some of who I see are inclined to jeer at my arguments, a few facts about the situation which may get them into a more serious mood. Partly as a result of denuding the Far Eastern seas of our Fleet, Japan is making the greatest forward movement in Central China that she has ever made, and she is increasing her already swollen army. Germany is feverishly carrying out her plan of rearmament, a plan which a few months ago was laughed at by the Socialist party. The Nazis were a joke and they were not going to do anything. They were the people to be insulted in pamphlets and to be told that they were of no account, and there were roars of laughter when Herr Hitler's 2056 name was mentioned. They are a very formidable people to-day, and I suggest to the Labour party that you cannot deal with that situation merely by using rather violent and not too cautious words.
Let us turn to Russia. I am not going to say any hard words about Russia. After all, she is now a member of the League of Nations. She is certainly not abating her armaments. She is, in fact, perfecting them, and, incidentally, she is trying all the time to send a certain amount of money abroad to pay the nationals of other countries in order to propagate Communism.
§ Earl WINTERTON
The hon. Lady does not think that that is true. She must be a very poor student of the literature and origin of the Communist party. That is the situation. But there is one other factor which again may be regarded as a subject for laughter, though it does not seem to me to be anything but a most serious matter. Eastern European countries, the Balkan countries, make no secret of the fact, as any one of us, to whichever party we belong, can tell by going to those countries, that the moment there is any war, whether on behalf of the League or in any other way in any part of Europe, they will cross each other's frontiers. That is the situation with which we are confronted. Many people in this country, including Members in this House, treat that situation with a levity that is almost unbelievable. When one reads the statements of the band of writers in the papers of the Left of this country, one would think that they were with Alice in Wonderland. They write of these issues of peace and war and the prospect of a universal conflagration as if they were a joke. In such circumstances it is, in my opinion, an act of criminal irresponsibility to urge warlike action on the League's behalf by France and ourselves against Italy, or any action that would lead Italy to resist by force. Is it denied that it is an act of criminal irresponsibility either to take military sanctions, or to urge other action which would have the same effect as that of military sanctions to cause Italy to resist by force?
§ Mr. MAXTON
The right hon. Gentleman has rightly put the question to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen above and below the Gangway on this side of the House. He is entitled to an answer, but how does he differentiate himself? If he is supporting the application of economic sanctions, how is he to differentiate himself from those hon. Members?
§ Earl WINTERTON
That is a perfectly fair question. I do not in the least object to it. I will answer the hon. Gentleman. For the moment I am asking anyone in any part of the House to get up and tell me if he is prepared to advocate action which would lead to military resistance by Italy. There is one hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), who, with great courage, says that he is. I say to him in his position—perhaps he has already done it—that it is his duty to go to his constituents and also to address meetings in the country generally and say, "This is my policy, and I am asking you and the people of England to support me in it. You will realise that the day has gone by where war is waged merely by the professional army, and that you may all be in it. Are you willing to support me?"
§ Mr. MANDER
At the General Election I made it perfectly clear to my constituents that we ought to take our responsibility in supporting the League to the very end, whatever the consequences might be.
§ Earl WINTERTON
All I can say is that I admire the courage of the hon. Gentleman, though I shall not be far wrong in saying that that was not the line taken by any Member of the Socialist party opposite.
§ Earl WINTERTON
That is extremely interesting and of the greatest importance. This will produce interest in the Press.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I am not making any mis-statements. I am told that a 2058 number of hon. Gentlemen went to their constituents and said, "We are prepared to support war if it is necessary."
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I am quite sure that the Noble Lord would not wish to misrepresent anything. The point we made was perfectly plain. We are prepared to support the infliction of economic sanctions by the League, and we are prepared to defend persons taking part in those sanctions against an attack by an aggressor. That is under the Covenant, and that is what this party at its annual conference pledged itself to do. I made a speech to that effect, and put it in my Election address—that if you inflict sanctions you have got to undergo a certain risk.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Naturally no one who knows the right hon. Gentleman would refuse to accept what he said. He has put his case very fairly. Let us deal with the present. I have never known a speech more imbued with serious facts than that delivered by the former Foreign Secretary. He presented a case to the House which it would be well for not only Members of the Opposition but the Government to ponder. He has told us that in his deliberate opinion, from knowledge gained in his office, it is impossible to put much further pressure on Italy to the existing sanctions, and that if these further sanctions were imposed there was a real risk that Italy would resist by force. And no nation except ourselves has taken any steps to deal with that situation. That is my case, and if we are to deal with realities somebody sitting on the Left, in the Continental sense of the term, a Member of the Socialist or Liberal party, or one of the dissident Conservatives, will answer the case I have made. What would you do in these circumstances? That is a perfectly fair question to put. I hope that they will answer in the course of the Debate. I will be perfectly fair and say that it is a case also that the Government will have to consider. It is really no use our attacking each other. Perhaps I am a rather aggressive person, but it is no use our jeering and laughing at each other. We are all faced with the question: What are we going to do? What are we going to tell our constituents? I have pledged myself to my constituents that if ever this country is 2059 at war on behalf of the League of Nations, I will do my best to see that there will be no such conditions as prevailed in the last war. Every man and woman will have to be at the service of the country.
I have heard some Conservatives say, "After all, we can make short work of the Italian Navy. We can sink it, though we may lose a cruiser or so." I regard such a point of view as showing terrible irresponsibility, because the conflagration would spread all over Europe. If this issue is joined, it is going to be as bad as, if not worse than, what it was in 1914 to 1918. Then surely it is the duty of everyone to try to avoid that state of affairs. One may say that we cannot avoid it except by letting down the League. Is that true? Surely we can all agree to carry out the two principles contained in my Amendment. I am going to say this very straight to the House of Commons. You will attain neither of these objects by indulging in nagging criticisms of the French. To hear right hon. and hon. Members talk you would think that we were the supreme arbiters—"We do not like what you are doing; it is not in accord with British public opinion." Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen talk as if they were dictators. We can only carry this through by being on good terms with the other members of the League. I think there has been grossly unfair criticism of M. Laval in this country. But for him there would have been a Fascist dictatorship in France. [Interruption.] It is very likely. Many Frenchmen will tell you so, at any rate. Apart from that, how can we expect to carry this through if we try to act as the governess of all Europe. With whom are we going to work if the Left Wing succeeds in driving France away? Germany, Russia, Japan, the United States? Ask Senator Borah:; he will give you the answer. Ask Mr. William Randolph Hearst. Ask any American politician of any party if he is prepared at this moment to co-operate in European affairs, and you will get the answer.
I say, in conclusion, that in the desire of some people to support the League they have strained the whole idea to an absolutely impossible point. We are told by some people that the League is the sole hope of humanity. Apart 2060 from it being inappropriate for such a phrase to come from the lips of Christian bishops and ministers, who might be expected to suggest Christianity, this dogmatic assertion seems historically familiar. Robespierre, Rousseau, Desmoulins told us over 100 years ago that there was only one hope, one creed for humanity—"liberty, equality, fraternity, or death." The truth is that fanaticism is no new thing in the world. Whether it be Lenin, Gandhi, or some extreme supporter of the League of Nations, they are all agreed on one thing—they will plunge mankind into turmoil to achieve their objective. They do not always attain it. Thank goodness they do not. One of the lessons of history is that they generally get their throats cut in the process.
What, after all, is the position of the League to-day? It is a very imperfect human instrument, greatly handicapped by the inexcusable defection of the United States. We criticise every nation in this House, but there seems to be a sort of idea that we should never criticise the United States. I say that what has done more damage to post-war European politics and inter-relations than anything else was the most unfair and almost unbelievable defection of the United States and the repudiation of the great triumph of that fine and sincere man, President Wilson. This League, with all its imperfections, offers hope of ultimately producing a clean and fresh inter-State relationship. What will surely kill it in this country and every other country is the action of bellicose pacifists who desire to see every affront to the League punished by force of arms. The only meaning of the criticism of the Socialist party of the action of the late Government in Manchuria was that we should have resisted Japan's action by force of arms. That sort of bellicose pacifism will kill the League of Nations. They talk in the language of pre-war European jingoes. It was the affront offered to Germany, as Germany thought, by Russian mobilisation that caused Germany to mobilise and eventually to make war certain. There can be no question about it, that that point of view is very prevalent to-day.
Therefore, I beg the House, as one of its oldest members in length of service, to retain a keen sense of value in all these matters, to remember what is 2061 possible and what is not possible, and in the sense of, and within my Amendment, that can be found. Let us not talk—the Prime Minister said on a platform the other day—in these terms of peace and war. Let us not in our pursuit of peace use language and take action which will surely lead to war. Let us remember that the League exists and was founded for the promotion of peace, and not to promote war. I am shocked and horrified by the way in which people talk on this subject. The other day a very celebrated English divine went to New York and gave an interview there in which he said: "I am sorry to say that I think the young men of the world may have once again to be sacrificed to make certain for ever the value of collective security." That is a terrible phrase. Hon. Members opposite may laugh at us, the real Conservative party, for our views, but if we thought that that was the real meaning of the Government's policy, which we do not, we would break up the National Government to-morrow. We do not think that, but we think that in the difficulties of the situation, and they are terrible, the National Government, although it may have made grave errors in the past fortnight, has a policy which is the right one, and that by it alone can we be saved from the dangers and horrors which I have attempted to describe.
What are those dangers and horrors? First, a universal conflagration. The Government's policy is to avoid that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which policy?"] There is no difference. There is no alteration. [Interruption.] Honestly, I do not ask much as an old member of the Privy Council, but I cannot answer three Privy Councillors at the same time. I am greatly honoured by the fact that almost every Privy Councillor opposite at one time or other has interrupted me during my speech. I say there is no difference. Our policy is the only possible policy in the present situation, and I ask the Conservative party to support it to-night. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] Everybody knows it except those hon. Members opposite. If they do not know it, let me attempt to describe it in two sentences. It is to bring all reasonable pressure to bear upon Italy or any other aggressor in this or any other dispute.
§ Earl WINTERTON
This is not a public meeting. This is the House of Commons, and I must be allowed to continue my speech. I will repeat what I was saying. The two sides of our policy are very simple. In the first place, our policy is to endeavour in this and every similar controversy to bring every reasonable pressure to bear upon the aggressor, and at the same time to use every endeavour to obtain peace—is that objected to?—to stop the fighting—is that objected to?—but to take no action that will lead this country into a war which would lead to a general European conflagration.
I apologise to the Socialist party if in stating this very simple, sane and common-sense policy I have said anything to which they object. I can well imagine that they do object. I will close my remarks by telling them something which everybody knows, and that is that they lost the General Election by their Margate resolution, and by their present attitude they are going a very long way towards losing the next Election.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
The Noble Lord has explained to us the policy of the true Conservative party, of which he is so distinguished and ornamental a member. Having heard that explanation, I am completely at a loss to know whether his Amendment is a Vote of Censure on the Government or a Vote of support of the Government. He has carefully avoided telling the House whether the pursuance of foreign policy by the Government during the last fortnight has been in accordance with the true Conservative policy or whether that which we have been told this afternoon by the Prime Minister as the intention of the Government in future is in pursuance of the manifesto which was put out at the Election. The truth is that the right hon. Gentleman, like so many of his colleagues, wants to have the best of both worlds. He wants to be able to bark at Mussolini and to be quite certain that he shall never bite him. That is a policy which when he is approaching a gentleman with a big stick is liable to be rather valueless. He says that reasonable pressure should be put on. May I ask him what is reasonable pressure? Are oil sanctions reasonable 2063 pressure or unreasonable pressure? Will the Noble Lord reply? I am quite prepared to give way.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I will put a question to the hon. and learned Member. [HON. MEMBERS "Answer!"] I say that if the imposition of oil sanctions led to armed resistance by Italy, it would not be in accord with the Government's Election pledge.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Will the Noble Lord tell the House how one is to judge before imposing sanctions what the effect is going to be?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Then perhaps the Noble Lord will give us the advantage of his common sense and tell us whether it is going to lead to military action by Mussolini or not. Again, I will give way if he will give us the advantage of his common sense.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Taking all the circumstances, it probably will. I shall be very much interested to hear what the hon. and learned Member's views are on the subject. Is he going to start such a war?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I am going to give the House my views, but I thought it was only courteous to deal with the Noble Lord's speech in the first instance. He thinks that oil sanctions are not in accordance with true Conservative policy. Therefore, as I understand it, those who will vote for his Amendment will be voting to condemn the Government if they adopt a policy of oil sanctions. That may as well be quite clear in the minds of true Conservatives and other kinds of Conservatives.
This afternoon one has almost felt as if one were with Alice in Wonderland, as the Noble Lord said. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) commended the policy of His Majesty's Government upon the statement of the gentleman who was the Foreign Secretary yesterday, but not upon the statement of the gentleman who is the Prime Minister to-day. Listening to those two speeches I am still at a loss to know why the late Foreign Secretary's speech was not made from that Box and the Prime Minister's speech from a back bench. The Prime Minister's excuse, if 2064 I may so call it, is the weakest excuse that I have ever heard put forward for so serious an act. May we for a moment picture to ourselves what happened. The Prime Minister on the Monday morning receives a letter from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Paris. He opens it, he reads it, and apparently he thinks: "Well, this is not quite what I should have done, so we had better have a Cabinet meeting." They have a Cabinet meeting, but he does not consider the matter serious enough to telephone to the Foreign Secretary or get into touch with him, before authorising, 36 hours later, the telegrams to go out making the propositions to Italy and to Abyssinia. The Prime Minister says now that he regrets that he did not appreciate that the public of this country would think that he was acting wrongly. The truth is, quite clearly, from what the Prime Minister said, that when he read those terms he did not think that the difference between them and what he himself would have been prepared to offer was important enough for him to get into communication with the Foreign Secretary in Switzerland. That shows clearly, in my submission, that the Prime Minister cannot get out of this position merely by throwing his friend, the late Foreign Secretary, to the wolves of public opinion.
The Prime Minister has had a reputation in the past for his blunt honesty. That reputation was completely shattered by the anouncement of these peace terms. One of the things that has surprised me during the last few days in meeting many Conservatives is the way in which they have uniformly referred to their loss of faith in the Prime Minister since these events have happened, and he is not going to rehabilitate himself by the sacrifice of his friend. The public certainly will not be satisfied by that gesture. They will, I hope, realise that the cause of this trouble is not the folly or misjudgment of any individual. This is the second Foreign Secretary who has been disposed of for this purpose—a scapegoat for the collective responsibility of the Government. They apparently believe in collective security, with individual sacrifice.
The foreign policy of the National Government in this Parliament and the last Parliament has always been typically Imperialist in its conception. The dualism 2065 of which complaint has so often been made in regard to that foreign policy is the dualism of the whited sepulchre, which appears beautiful outwardly but within is full of dead mens' bones and uncleanness. The Minister for League of Nations Affairs applies the whitening with the attractive brush of liberal sentiment. In the meantime the good old Conservative party carries on with the corruption of Imperialism within. It is necessary to take note of one important difference between the present Italo-Abyssinian crisis and the Sino-Japanese crisis in order to appreciate the real continuity of foreign policy which has been adopted by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. That difference was purely a domestic difference. The Sino-Japanese dispute had to be dealt with in the early days of the National Government when the prospects of a General Election were still a long way off, and when the sentiment in the country was still comparatively unstirred upon the great issues of peace and war.
The East Fulham by-election was the first occasion when the Government realised the electoral impact of these considerations. On the other hand, when the Italo-Abyssinian crisis became publicly acute the prospect of an electoral appeal was very much closer and the foreign policy of the National Government had become a very live issue in the domestic forum of our politics. The Prime Minister, with an astuteness which marks his political leadership, realised that the peace sentiment might be used electorally by the National Government, provided that for a time it was made to appear to the people that the Liberal sentiment was in the ascendency in the Government. The true Imperialist basis of their policy was soft-pedalled very gently, while the liberal sentiments were blared from every platform all over the country. As late as November, 1934, the Prime Minister himself had decried collective security. Speaking on 23rd November, 1934, at Glasgow, he said:It is curious that there is growing among the Labour party support for what is called a collective peace system. Well now, a collective peace system in my view is perfectly impracticable. It is hardly worth considering.That was when the Election was still a little way off. That attitude was wholly consistent with the attitude of the 2066 Government over the Sino-Japanese dispute. Throughout that dispute they brought forward every excuse they could think of in order to prevent action being taken against Japan by the League of Nations, and without protest they allowed, and are still allowing, Japan to overrun Manchukuo and North China. In March, 1932, the Home Secretary, who was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, declared their policy in this form:It is best to keep the coercive and the mediatory functions of the League distinct and that this has been proved to be a case in which the effective action of the League is best applied by mediatory and conciliatory action."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd March, 1932; col. 924, Vol. 263.]How effective that action has been can be judged by the depth of Japanese penetration into China to-day. It is that type of action upon which the Noble Lord, as a true Conservative, wants to concentrate. There never was, of course, any intention to utilise the League of Nations as a method of stopping Imperialist aggression obtaining its objective. On the other hand, immediately before the General Election, the method was changed. The Prime Minister, on 12th November, writing in the "Daily Telegraph," said:Peace is to be sought through a continuance of the firm support which has been given to the League of Nations and the principle of collective security. During the discussions at Geneva, in a period of international tension causing grave anxiety, the British Government has never wavered in its determination to fulfil with other members of the League its obligations under the Covenant.I imagine that if that is approved by the Noble Lord, he considers that it was an obligation to send the telegram to Addis Ababa, trying to force the Abyssinian Emperor to accept terms which are now recognised by His Majesty's Government as being wholly unjustified. On 23rd October, just before the General Election, the Minister for League of Nations Affairs, speaking in this House, said:There was no question of a bargain in some unknown way, and still less is there any question of some imperialist deal.… At this hour it is surely not necessary to repeat that it is neither an African dispute, nor an incident in expansionist rivalry between two nations, nor a colonial war, but a vital test of the efficacy of the League and of the loyalty of its members to the Covenant to which they have put 2067 their names.… We who are Members of the League have sought collectively to create a new ideal, a new international order. If we fail, even though that failure be not final, we shall have shattered for a generation and it may be more the hopes which mankind has placed in this new endeavour."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1935; col. 224, Vol. 305.]I do not know how better you can describe the proposals which were made to Italy and Abyssinia than as an Imperialist deal. It precisely described those proposals; the very thing which Ministers were disclaiming so vociferously for the purposes of the Election and immediately before it. Having by their action sabotaged the League and the Covenant, and finding that public opinion is angry with them for so doing, they now think they can get over it by throwing the Foreign Secretary out and themselves remaining in power. Never has there been such an episode of double dealing and deceit in the foreign policy of this country. The truth is, of course, that no Imperialist Government ever will or can look upon these problems except with Imperialist eyes. They argue to themselves in this way: It is very awkward that Japan should make a fuss in the East, but decencies must be preserved. We must pretend to do something about it. Still, Japan is entitled to Imperialist expansion just as much as we were entitled to it in the last century. In addition, she may provide a safeguard against the spread of communism in China or a check to the strength of communism in Russia; therefore we will do nothing about it; we will let her run into China.
Italy, perhaps, is rather a more dangerous case. Our own interests in North Africa may become affected by the actions of Italy. It is true that we have entered into agreements with her in 1906, in 1915 and in 1925; in fact, we bought her entry into the last war with the offer of parts of Abyssinia, and if we ask her to come into another war she may say that we have not paid the debts of the last war and may not be anxious to trust us in those circumstances. And, after all, she is a capitalist Power; she is an Imperialist Power, and if she is reasonable we ought to allow her some expansion. We will put on sanctions but—as the noble Lord says—they must only be reasonable; they must be such sanctions as will really have no effect, and 2068 then we will offer to settle the matter by giving her half Abyssinia. That is untold generosity on the part of Imperialism. What other instance is there in the history of Imperialism where a backward race has been allowed to keep half of their territory? So the Prime Minister when he opened the letter on Monday morning and read through the terms said: "Why, they are allowing Abyssinia to keep half her territory; that is a very good and fair settlement to all three parties, Italy, Abyssinia and the League of Nations."
The spirit of Imperialism, the outlook of Imperialism, obviously runs through the whole foreign policy of the National Government. Above all things, they must preserve capitalism in Italy, they must allow Italy that expansion which is essential to the preservation of her economic system. It is bad enough to have Russia in the comity of nations as a Communist Power, but God help capitalism in this country if any more Communist nations arise in Europe. Therefore, they gradually oriented their policy so that Italy should not be driven into desperation which would bring about a revolution in that country. That is the perfectly consistent policy which they have followed throughout the whole term of their office.
The real crime of the Foreign Secretary is that the Cabinet miscalculated the effect on public opinion of the pretences which they put up for electoral purposes. They knew themselves that they were nothing but pretences, and stupidly they expected the public to think the same. So the Prime Minister comes to that Box in the House of Commons this afternoon and says that he was astonished at the reaction of the public to these proposals. It is unfortunate for them that matters could not have waited a few more weeks. The memory of the public in political matters is very short, but it was not quite short enough on this occasion. Never will the people of this country be able to achieve a system of peace or justice for the weaker and less fully developed nations under the present system. Just as capitalism in our own country is inconsistent with domestic peace and leads to the necessity of the strike and lock-out, and is inconsistent with justice to those who have the least economic power, as the miners have to-day, so in the Imperial sphere it is impossible 2069 to attain the objective of liberal sentiment as long as you preserve the machinery of Imperialism as the basis of world organisation.
If these events bring home to the people the necessity of replacing the Imperialist basis of our foreign policy by something safer—the Noble Lord opposite will observe that—and more humane, they will, at least, have served a useful purpose. In the modern world, opportunities for expansion are daily growing less and less unless that expansion is at the cost of some weaker Power. The changing circumstances in the world make it more than ever necessary that some fundamental cure should be found for the clash of rival Imperialisms which is jeopardising our civilisation to-day. Germany will be the next problem as all of us know, and that problem, as all of us equally well know, is not going to be solved by sanctions.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
Because, in the case of Germany, undoubtedly if sanctions are applied they will lead to world war. You cannot make place for the legitimate expansion, as Imperialists see it, of the German Empire except by depriving some other people of their freedom or their sovereignty. You can never solve this world economic problem to-day so as to secure justice and freedom for each nation and freedom of intercourse between the various nations, as long as you perpetuate the idea of monopoly ownership and of colonial possession.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
If that be the case and the whole of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is founded on that premise, why has the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics become a member and a loyal supporter of the League of Nations?
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
The reason why the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics is a Member of the League is because in its isolated position, as the one Communist Power in the world, it is essential for it to get what protection it can from pacts and agreements made under the auspices of the League. The hon. Member knows better than I do the reasons which led the Soviet Government to come into the League of Nations. Their object, a perfectly legitimate object, was to secure protection from Japan on the one side 2070 and from Germany on the other and any Power in a similar position would take the same action. But that does not mean that they commit themselves to Imperialism as a basis of world economic affairs and it is because the League to-day has no power to deal with world economic affairs, that it is powerless to solve the problems and disputes which come before it. If we are to get out of the vicious circle of Imperialist wars we must reorganise a world economic federation upon a new basis, by removing from the present situation monopoly interests, owned by countries, which are to-day leading to strife such as we see in Abyssinia, to aggression, such as we see with Japan, and, to the imminent danger of aggression such as we are witnessing in the building up of armaments in Germany. Nothing short of that will even start to cure the evils that we are all equally anxious to cure.
There is no person in this House who is not anxious to get rid of the danger of war, but the people of this country who have witnessed the futile attempts of the National Government, their changes of policy, their rejection of two Foreign Secretaries in order to try to put themselves right with public opinion, must surely be coming to realise that there is something more than personalities standing in the way of the solution of the problem. There is indeed something far more fundamental. It is the very economic structure of the states themselves that are attempting in the League of Nations to do what is impossible within capitalism and Imperialism and is only possible within an organisation of society and industry based on true Socialist grounds. We are grateful to right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench opposite for the great piece of propaganda with which they have provided us. We can say to them cheerfully, "Gentlemen proceed. Get on with the good work. Commit your suicide as soon as you like."
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Sir IAN MACPHERSON
Before addressing myself to the Amendment to which my name is attached I wish to associate myself with all that has been said about my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). I do not think he has ever shown himself possessed of greater dignity than he did 2071 this afternoon. The House always knows where my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) stands, and I am not going to follow him this evening into all the points which he made in a very long and a very interesting speech. But I should like to put one question to my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). I gathered from his speech that he proposes to vote, along with his party, for the Motion presented by the Leader of the Opposition. Do I understand that he is going to vote for that Motion with all its implications? He will remember that there were two distinct implications in that Motion as it was moved. One was censure on the Government. So far so good. The other was censure on the personal honour of the Prime Minister. Is my right hon. Friend, in view of that implication, prepared to say now that he and his party are going to vote wholeheartedly for the Motion?
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
My right hon. and learned Friend has been longer a Member of this House than I have been and he knows that when we vote for a Motion we are voting for the Motion on the Paper and not for the speech which is made in moving that Motion.
§ Sir I. MACPHERSON
May I recall to the House what actually happened? There was no doubt when the Motion was being moved as to what was implied by it. It implied a definite vote of censure on the Government and a definite vote of censure on the honour of the Prime Minister. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is not in accordance with the traditions of the House that when a Minister, particularly a Prime Minister, comes forward and with frankness and honesty recognises a mistake, he should be censured from the point of view of his own personal honour. My right hon. and gallant Friend went on to say that the Amendment on the Paper to which my name is attached was merely one which blurred the edges of the situation. What are the facts? The speech of the Prime Minister this afternoon was, I think, reassuring to thousands, indeed millions of people in this country. He told us distinctly that these proposals, or terms, or suggestions, or whatever hon. Members choose to call them, which were brought 2072 into being in Paris, wore now not only dead but damned. Does that statement not satisfy my right hon. and gallant Friend? I should have thought that it would bring reassurance to every person who shared in the dismay felt throughout the country when those proposals were made known.
I think it is true that there has been dismay throughout the country. Like many other hon. Members I addressed a great many meetings recently and I have never found meetings more anxious to hear all about a situation—in this case the Italo-Abyssinian situation—and I never found people more eager to show themselves in agreement with the foreign policy of the Government. There has never been any doubt about the foreign policy of the Government. [Laughter.] My right hon. and gallant Friend may laugh but I assure him that all those with whom I came into contact were in no doubt at all about the fact that the Government were prepared to carry out the pledges given at the Election. We heard the Prime Minister to-day reaffirm that intention. He read the manifesto of the National party and in my judgment he proved conclusively that the Government had not deviated for a moment from the policy adumbrated in that manifesto. There is a great organised opinion in this country in favour of peace as I am sure hon. Members have found when travelling through their constituencies. There is a powerful organised body of opinion which desires to ensure the peace of the world and to prevent war and it is the view of the National Government that we ought to continue in that policy until the end of the Government's time.
May I deal briefly with the Amendment as it stands? What does it seek to do? First, it says that any plans or terms which have been put forward must be accepted by the League. One of the most remarkable things in the world today is the fact that we are able to get a jury of over 50 nations to meet together and come to conclusions upon questions of peace and war and such matters as sanctions. I think nothing could be better than the suggestion that we should recognise the League of Nations as a great and powerful jury on these questions. If 52 nations are satisfied that terms are reasonable it means that most 2073 of the world will take that view. The second point of the Amendment is very plain. It is that the keystone of the National Government's foreign policy is support of the League of Nations and collective security. As I have said, I feel certain that the country will be reassured by the Prime Minister's reaffirmation of that policy to-day.
I put one question to hon. Members opposite. If this Vote of Censure is carried and there is a new Government, what will be the result? We shall have, I think I am entitled to say, a very vigorous anti-Italian policy. There is no doubt at all about that. Our policy is quite clear. We do not propose at any moment to associate ourselves with any isolated action against any country. We propose to act collectively with other members of the League. Our policy is quite clear. We do not propose at any moment to associate ourselves with any isolated act against any country. We propose to act collectively. It is upon these lines that I venture to submit this Amendment to my colleagues of the House and I feel sure that those who feel deeply that this is essentially in the interests of mankind will vote for this Amendment.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
We know that the pressure of time in this Debate is very great and I do not propose to take up more time than is necessary. We have on the Order Paper an Amendment which sets out in terms our general attitude and the reason why we feel it is urgently necessary to say a word. An examination of the various Motions and Amendments on the Paper, put alongside the speeches given, including that of the Prime Minister, shows us that each one of the Motions and Amendments supports the League of Nations. There are detailed differences between the points of view in three-quarters of the House as to the extent to which the British Government should support the League, and how much this country should put into the common effort of the League, but all are agreed in the general principle that the foreign policy of this country should attach itself to the League and that that is the central principle around which the foreign policies of this country are to operate. We take a completely contrary view to that. We were jeered at the other night by the Minister for League 2074 of Nations Affairs. But he did me the honour of putting me into the company of certain well-known figures in this country with whom I have absolutely nothing in common. He accused me of supporting an attitude of splendid isolation. I say, rather than association with the League of Nations, certainly isolation, preferably isolation without any splendour at all.
We do not expect this House to support our point of view in that matter. Our Amendment will not be put. May I say to my right hon. Friend that we shall be compelled to cast our votes against the vote of confidence. That will mean that we shall be associated with right hon. and hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. But let me make it plain that in doing that we are voting against the Government. As my hon. Friend said last week, the League of Nations is a fraud, an imposture. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the late Foreign Secretary was perhaps the biggest evidence of that. The peoples of the world are being led to believe that this is a great new instrument that has been forged, that it is going to settle all international disputes and relieve nations of large preparations. They think that this is an organisation that is going to look after war for us, and the question of peace and war, just as they think that the Unemployment Assistance Board is going to look after the unemployed so that we need not worry. Propaganda is being carried out in this and other countries to make people believe that this is an efficient instrument that can shoulder all the responsibilities of all nations so far as peace and war are concerned. Now just look at it. In the last 10 years it called together a great World Economic Conference. All the nations of the world assembled together in London and split into smithereens. Nothing was done.
Then there was the Disarmament Conference. Week after week, month after month, year after year, the attention of the people was directed to Geneva and they were told they need not worry about this question of peace and war any more. They were told that the League was looking after them. Yet they went back from the World Economic Conference to their own countries and said: "You have to look after your own economic interests yourselves." So, in the matter of disarmament, 2075 after years of discussion, the representatives went back and said there was nothing to be expected from this bunch—"Do not expect disarmament. It is silly to believe you will get it. Get back and arm for yourselves."
All these conferences were failures, and now there is this bigger failure still. The people of Abyssinia have trusted the League to save them from Italian aggression; peoples of Europe have believed in the mass collective forces of this League of Nations, have believed that resort either to economic or military sanctions was in order to save the people of Abyssinia from being oppressed. Now, to-day, the right hon. Gentleman the late Foreign Secretary makes a confession that the people of the world, in trusting to the League of Nations, have been trusting to something which has no power, no serious intentions, no preparations to face up to the logical conclusions of its policy—merely a propaganda body passing resolutions without any power to put them into operation, without any desire in the matter, without any common philosophy or common understanding in the matter, with, indeed, all sorts of war antagonisms—all the representatives going to the Council at Geneva and then sabotaging decisions behind its back. They agreed to sanctions and then tried to see how to make the maximum profit at home.
That is the essence of the capitalist way of looking at matters. We know the House will tie itself, and continue to tie itself, in spite of confidence in the complete failure to do the things it pretends to be able to do, but we do say to the people of this and other countries that it is wrong for them to entrust the safety of themselves or their wives and families, or the future of the working classes throughout the world, and to tie their hopes to this capitalist organisation. Somebody pointed out to-day the position of the United States and said some harsh words about America. Yet America practically founded the organisation, pioneered it, and then ran away and deserted it with a clearer realism, with perhaps a cruder realisation, of the capitalistic system than some other nations. They saw that it was a Utopian romanticism, saw that if they must exist as a capitalist nation they must have a free hand for military or economic 2076 matters. That is the essence of the capitalist outlook. You go to Geneva and express platitudes about world harmony and, at the same time, each capitalist nation sees how much advantage it can extract out of the world situation.
It is Utopian to talk of world organisation of peace in advance of a Socialist system of society. If the workers of this or any other country are going to make themselves safe against the menace of war, or against the menace of poverty, they are going to do so not by placing faith in a bogus organisation of this description. They are going to place their confidence in their own ability to meet the capitalist exploiters in each country, in Britain, Germany and Italy. The safety of the worker depends upon the overthrow of capitalism in their own land and not by supporting Imperialist adventures in Africa, Italy or any other part of the world. That is the view we wish to stress here. We do not believe it will be voted upon, but we hope the workers of the world will listen to what is said.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. NICOLSON
I crave the indulgence of the House in intervening in a Debate of such importance. I wish to assure hon. Members that I do so with all modesty and that my reasons for rising are to say something on this side of the House and from these benches (as representing that very small but highly gifted group to which I belong)—to say something to show that even among supporters of the Prime Minister there are people not afraid of saying disagreeable and even tactless things. I know very well that what indiscretions I may make will, with the usual generosity of this House, be attributed to Parliamentary innocence, yet I am not so young that my remarks will be ascribed wholly to the passions or the fantasy of youth.
I wish to support the Amendment which has been moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) because I consider it is sufficiently emphatic in its one vital phrase to give the House and the country the assurance they may desire, and is sufficiently elastic not to tie the hands of any negotiators to too precise a formula. I think that those of us who have been privileged to be in this Parliament during the last week for the first time have had an experience quite unforgettable and extremely encouraging. 2077 It has shown us younger Members, as it has convinced older Members, that this Parliament is not a mere balance of party machines, but is in fact a director and a representative of public opinion, and that through the corridors and lobbies of this House, in a way that outsiders do not realise, public opinion can directly, immediately, and swiftly make itself felt in such a way that the Government become aware of what is really being thought throughout this country.
Many of us on Monday last, when we read or heard of this new Paris plan, were filled with a feeling which I can only describe as bewildered despair. I think we felt despair because it seemed to us that this country, having attained to a position of authority and honour such as we had never possessed for many a long year, had, unwittingly perhaps, but quite gratuitously cast this great role of leadership away with both our hands; think we felt despair because it seemed to us that old methods which we thought had been finally discredited were being again resorted to in a most unscrupulous and indefensible manner; and some of us who had only been returned by a small majority felt a more personal despair in that we doubted that we had any right to be Members of this House. Our small majority had been due, we knew, to the League of Nations policy which was pledged by the Government, a policy which we felt in ourselves had been repudiated. I know myself, if I may speak for my own constituency of West Leicester, that I spent a sleepless night wondering what in all honesty I was to do, knowing that if this White Paper had been published on the 4th November, it would not be I who would be sitting in this House, but my Socialist opponent, and I remember wondering and thinking, in stress of conscience, whether I ought not to resign my seat and return my mandate to those who had voted for me.
The speech of the Prime Minister and the speech of the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) this afternoon have, I think, alleviated our despair and restored to us something, and a good deal, of our self-confidence. The Prime Minister, with his usual compelling simplicity, has once again repaired what for the moment I confess was a shaken and a slightly battered confidence. The late Secretary of State for Foreign 2078 Affairs, by his public-spirited act of self-sacrifice, has not merely restored confidence, but has, to those who have worried about their electoral pledges, restored our self-respect.
I said that the feeling on Monday among a great many of my friends on both sides of the House was one of bewildered despair. I say that the despair has now been alleviated. The bewilderment remains. I do not think that any Member will feel that this Debate, in so far as it has progressed to-day, has added any certainty or anything very precise to those gaps in our knowledge and judgment which existed before. The Prime Minister told us that the time of platitudes was over and that the moment of stark realities had come; I did not observe any great starkness in the realities which he then proceeded to disclose.
I think that possibly this bewilderment comes, not from the fact of too little knowledge on our part, because naturally it is the duty of the Government to be discreet about matters of defence and even about matters of immediate policy; I think it comes from the fact that we are not quite certain in our own minds, any of us in this House, what we are really thinking about. For instance, are we thinking more of Abyssinia than of the League itself? Are we thinking more of the Covenant of the League than of the spirit of the League? Are we thinking more of Italy and of Mussolini than of the actual preservation of that new method of international intercourse which was founded in Paris in 1919? I think we must be clear upon that point. I myself am perfectly clear.
I do not think the main object of the efforts of this Government or of this country should be the preservation of Abyssinian integrity. I do not think Abyssinia is worth such an effort. I agree with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain)—whose guidance to us younger Members during these very trying days has been for us an example and a great stimulus—that Abyssinia is a bad client. We ourselves said she ought not to be in the League, and are we going to change that view from purely sentimental feelings or from utter sob-stuff about the under-dog? 2079 I do not think that is consonant with the wisdom or traditions of this country. I go further. I do not myself consider the terms—and I am speaking merely of the terms—of the Laval Agreement, the Paris Pact, really unreasonable. I do not think for one minute that it will be possible or wise to take such action or to form such determination as will restore Abyssinia to all, and more than all, that she possessed before this crisis arose. I think that would be a foolish policy.
I do not think it is terribly unfair to remove from Abyssinia those non-Amharic portions of the country which she conquered herself and which she has abused in a disgraceful manner. I do not think it unwise or unfair that Italy should be granted, in a large area of Abyssinia, such preferential rights as France, to the great benefit of the native population, exercises in Morocco. I see nothing criminal or Imperialistic in that; I think it would be a wise and civilising procedure. But, although I do not disapprove, as do some hon. Members, of the actual text or context of the plan, and although I think in fact that if it comes to partition it is a very brilliant essay in vivisection, yet I do feel very strongly that the procedure by which this Pact was negotiated and put through and sent to Addis Ababa was a most disgraceful reversion to the very worst of the methods of the pre-war diplomacy, not of this country, but of Italy herself.
I do not think that we should ever deal with Mussolini, if we deal with him, on his own level. I have always found—and hon. Members would agree with me if they had had my experience—that you must never negotiate with an Italian on his own level. It is impossible to do so, because he is much more ingenious and much more subtle than we are ourselves. It is essential, when dealing with an Italian, to adopt an entirely different level, the level of your own integrity, and that level is so far removed from the Italian level that you will be perfectly certain of not getting inveigled into his coils. I consider that the great danger, the great evil, of the Paris plan was that it represented an error of procedure, and it is that, I think, which disturbed our judgment and caused us such dismay 2080 when we first heard of the plan. The procedure, whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say, did in fact convey the impression that His Majesty's Government were deliberately going behind the back of the League in order to present the Council with a fait accompli, and to say, "Dare you reject peace? This is peace."
Whatever may be said about the "moral mandate" entrusted to France and Great Britain, it ought to have been foreseen that such an impression would be created, intense and widespread, which it would be almost impossible to counteract. We have to confess, I am afraid, that Great Britain has lost over this affair the confidence of Europe and the world. I do not think that that is overwhelmingly serious for the moment. We are always losing the confidence of the world and always recovering it. I do not think that after this disaster, and even with the great sacrifice which has been made in the person of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea, we can regain that confidence and authority unless we proceed by a perfectly different method and unless we urge that method forward and press it forward in a perfectly different way. I think that right hon. Gentlemen are perhaps unduly obsessed by the need of diplomatic discretion. My experience is that it is the amateur diplomatist who is discreet, and that it is the professional diplomatist who indulges in the most glorious indiscretions all the time. It is a terrible mistake to conduct negotiations between Foreign Ministers. I believe that the Prime Minister's assurance in this respect makes a great date in the history of diplomacy. I should like it to be a rule of the Constitution of this land that the Foreign Secretary, like the Lord Chancellor, cannot leave this country without a vote of both Houses of Parliament.
Diplomacy is not the art of conversation. It is the art of the exchange of documents in a carefully considered and precise form and in such a way that they cannot be repudiated later. I think that the virtue that will come out of this confusion is this: Diplomacy by conference is a mistake. I think we can pass easily from that stage to diplomacy by the League of Nations, a thing we have never tried to do, and I should like to have an assurance from the Government that they themselves will bitterly oppose, 2081 and consistently oppose, any proposal to transfer important controversies from Geneva, to remove them from too outspokenness of Geneva, and the moral support which we get at Geneva, and to transfer them to the foetid saloons of the Quai d'Orsay. If the Prime Minister would give us some such assurance, and if we could feel that the future handling of this situation is going to be carried out in Geneva and by Geneva, then we need not worry acutely as to what actually is to be done. We want peace under the aegis of the League; we want to obtain peace in a way that will render indignant hon. Members opposite, but which will fill the more sensible portion of this House with enormous relief. I think that we can do so honourably, provided we follow essentially that correct procedure; we must cultivate outspokeness; there must be no bogeys of discretion; and we must say at Geneva openly and courageously exactly what we thing about everybody who has let us down.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. THURTLE
It is my privilege to congratulate the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Nicolson) upon an exceedingly able and attractive speech. If he will permit me to say so, his politics are of rather a spurious brand, and I cannot say that I agree entirely with the sentiments that he has expressed. But he has an extremely interesting style of speech, and I would like to assure him that, if he is discreet enough and farseeing enough to change his party in a reasonable period of time, he may long remain in this House both to instruct and to delight us.
I want to address myself first to the question of the honour of the Prime Minister. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) that if we by our Motion or speeches impugned the honour of the Prime Minister, everyone of his supporters would go into the Lobby against us. I do not disagree with the loyal attitude which is taken up towards the Prime Minister, but I would respectfully point out to hon. Members opposite that what is involved in this issue is not so much the honour of the Prime Minister and the Government as the good judgment of the Prime Minister and the Government. What have the 2082 people of the country been saying about this particular issue? They have said that these terms were so extraordinary that we have either a very dishonest Government or a very foolish Government. It seems to me that that is a dilemma which the supporters of the Government must face. What did the Prime Minister say? He said, "In agreeing to these terms we"—and he spoke of the whole Government—"had no idea at all of not being true to our pledge." Almost any schoolboy would have been able to say that these terms were a clear and flagrant breach of the pledges of the Government.
If there be any question about that, I ask the House to consider the fierce reaction of practically the whole country against these terms and the almost unanimous condemnation of the Press; and, if we look abroad, the same unanimous condemnation of all the free Press of foreign countries. There was shocked surprise at the very nature of these terms, and yet the Prime Minister tells us that the Government were not conscious that they were violating any of the terms of their pledges. If that is not a condemnation of the honour of the Government, it is certainly a condemnation of their good judgment.
There is something ironical in the fact that a Government which has the present Prime Minister at its head should have been responsible for a deplorable thing of this kind. I like the Prime Minister. He is a very frank man, and has some very attractive qualities, but I think it will be agreed that, whatever his other qualities, his one outstanding quality in the mind of the country, the one for which he has become famous, is his rugged honesty. When a Government with a man at its head who has a great reputation for rugged honesty is guilty of this deplorable betrayal of pledges it leads foreigners to say, "If this kind of thing may be done by a British politician with an outstanding reputation for honesty what sort of treatment are we going to get from the baser kind of politicians?" Then, how very unfair it is to our own people, who do not like the charge of dishonesty and hypocrisy, who have always resented the old suggestion of "perfidious Albion," that this Government, to which they gave a special vote of trust at the last Election, should so betray them as to give justification for gibes about betrayal and 2083 bad faith from practically every country of the world.
If there be a real point of honour involved in this issue I submit that it is this—and I wish the Prime Minister were present in order that I might put it to him: Among honourable men there is a fine tradition that if they are equally guilty, equally responsible, they ought to stand together. We have it on the authority of the Prime Minister that he and the rest of the Government are equally responsible for the terms which have aroused so much condemnation, and yet he allows a distinguished and trusted colleague, a colleague who has rendered great service to this country, and a personal friend of himself, to be thrown to the wolves while he remains in office. There is a very real point of honour involved in that proceeding.
Now I turn to an entirely different point, and I hope the House will bear with me while I develop it very briefly. It has not been mentioned before in this Debate. Hon. Members will agree that our foreign policy has apparently pursued a very irregular and tortuous course over the last few years, and there does not seem to be any real explanation for the changes of direction which have taken place. I will venture to submit what I think is a conceivable explanation. By way of preamble I should like assent to two simple propositions. The first is that in the field of foreign politics the expert is of special value, that as between the elected amateur and the permanent expert there is in the field of foreign politics a much wider gulf than in almost any other domain of administration. If hon. Members doubt that I invite them to consider the complexity of the British Empire, its possessions all over the world, and its points of interest all over the world, and I think they will agree that the expert in foreign affairs is in an especially strong and powerful position.
The other preliminary observation I wish to make is this: The League of Nations, this new international security system, is a post-war creation. It was grafted on to the old pre-war methods of diplomacy and has been assimilated to some extent, but not entirely, and they still are in the Chancellories of Europe, and perchance in our own Foreign Office, men of great distinction 2084 and ability, permanent experts of one kind or another, who have made reservations about this League of Nations system, men who seem to regard it as the conception of diplomatic amateurs, a conception which is not likely to work out in the realities of this world. They suffer it just as far as they are compelled to suffer it, but they have not any real faith in the system.
After those two preliminary observations, I invite the House to consider with me the course of foreign politics in recent years. Take the long period of four years when the present Home Secretary was in charge of the Foreign Office, if that period had one distinguishing characteristic as against another it was that it was marked by a lukewarmness, a coldness, towards the ideal of the League of Nations and collective security. The present Home Secretary was frequently criticised because he did not manifest any enthusiasm for the idea of the League of Nations. I submit that the Home Secretary, in adopting that point of view, was not being independent, not flying in the face of the advice of his permanent experts. The Home Secretary who is on the Bench before me, is a very able man, one of the most astute men in this House, one of the most brilliant from a dialectical standpoint, but I think there is common agreeement that he is not the sort of man to act contrary to the advice of his experts. One might say that his habit of deference to the advice of his experts is almost an ingrained habit. Therefore, if he were putting this point of view I submit that it was the point of view of the expert advisers of the Foreign Office and that he was not putting an individual point of view at all. If we seek confirmation of my suggestion that this lukewarmness towards the League of Nations was coming from the experts of the Foreign Office we have it, I submit, in the fact that in his public statements the Prime Minister himself expressed the same kind of doubt about the practicability of the international peace system.
We turn next to the period of the Foreign Office under the right hon. Gentleman who has recently resigned. Hon. Members may say, "If your idea is right that the Foreign Office experts were not keen upon the League of Nations system why is it that under the next 2085 Foreign Minister there was a marked keenness for that system?" The explanation is here. The Foreign Office experts may not have a very close ear to the ground to note the movements of public opinion, but the Prime Minister has, and the Prime Minister realised that the foreign policy of the Government had become extremely unpopular. It was necessary for electoral reasons to have some change of direction in that policy and the change took place. The right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) took the place of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and there was at Geneva and elsewhere a change of direction on the part of the Government. Again the experts deferred, they had to defer, because they had no alternative, but still they remained sceptical and unconvinced as to the soundness of that policy.
We have the march of events. A General Election comes on. A new lease of power is granted by a great majority to the Prime Minister. At the same time, and in this same march of events, a policy of sanctions is applied. It is one thing to talk about sanctions in theory and it is another to face sanctions in practice. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Exactly. That corroborates my argument. As those sanctions were being applied in practice, the difficulties and the possible dangers of them became more clearly apparent, both to the Prime Minister and to the Government as a whole. What was the consequence? There was doubt; there was hesitation; there was speculation as to whether it was safe to go on with this policy, and whether we dared see through to the end this idea of maintaining the international peace system. The Prime Minister and his colleagues, as the ex-Foreign Secretary has almost confessed to-day, had a kind of moral crisis. They began to be alarmed, and the Prime Minister became Mr. Faintheart because of the doubt and hesitation.
That was the opportunity once again for the old school of diplomacy to come in, the old school which never believed in the League of Nations, which prides itself upon its realism and which talks in pre-War terms of alliances and balances of power. The voice of the tempter is never more alluring than when the tempted one is uncertain and puzzled. The Government were uncertain, puzzled and in a state of indecision. Along 2086 comes your permanent expert with his great knowledge and with his fundamental dislike of the collective security system, and he suggests a bargain on the old traditional lines. That was the snare put before the Government, and into which the Government walked. That is my suggestion of the way in which our diplomacy has been carried on in the last few years, leading us to the present humiliating position, in which shame and dishonour have been brought upon the people of this country. Our collective security system has suffered a grievous blow and the credit of the Government has received its severest shock. We have also lost a distinguished servant in the ex-Foreign Minister. I submit that that is how those things have been brought about.
No one need get up after I sit down and give me a lecture on the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility because of the fact that I have been talking about the expert advisers of the Foreign Office. I am just as alive as any hon. Member to the doctrine of Ministerial responsibility. I know that whatever advice may be tendered to a Foreign Minister by his expert advisers, the responsibility for accepting or refusing that advice must inevitably rest upon the Minister. If he is given bad advice and he acts upon it, he must bear the consequences. We ought, however, to be realists in this connection. We ought to face the facts. We ought to realise that when an expert adviser went with the ex-Foreign Minister to Paris he did not go on a joy trip; that he did not go because he was a pleasant travelling companion or was a brilliant conversationalist; or because he had written a number of very good books. No, he went there because he was a man with enormous knowledge and enormous experience, whose duty it was to put that knowledge and experience at the service of his political chief. We do not know what happened. We know that the ex-Foreign Minister went to Paris a sick man, and that he went there charged with an extremely delicate and difficult mission. He was entitled to all the expert advice and guidance that he could get. I cannot carry the matter any farther (because from a constitutional point of view my lips are sealed) than to say that we hope that the Foreign Minister received all the advice to which 2087 he was entitled from his permanent experts.
I have suggested a train of thought to hon. Members as to where the real root of this difficulty lies. We shall get out of the difficulty, as we humans have got out of all difficulties, either on this side of the grave or the other, but we shall not get out of it except by a great loss of credit to ourselves and great damage to the international peace system which means so much to the future of this country. We can, at all events, say that it should be our duty and our obligation to take what steps are within our power to see that there is not a recurrence of the kind of catastrophe with which we have just been faced. If our foreign policy is to continue to be based, as I have been glad to hear to-day that it is, upon the League of Nations and the principle of collective security, we have a right to ask—nay, we have a right to insist—that every person connected with the administration of that policy in the Foreign Office gives complete and undeviating loyalty to that policy.
When we come here, we have to take a pledge. We have to swear or affirm our allegiance to the Throne. I would like hon. Members to believe that there is great significance in a suggestion I have to make, which is that every one of the people whose function it is at the Foreign Office to control our policy should either swear or affirm complete and undeviating loyalty to the League of Nations and the international peace system.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Colonel GRETTON
The hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) has raised a subject of much interest, in that he has alluded to the position of the permanent officials. We have been shocked during the last few days to see violent attacks made upon Foreign Office permanent officials, and the suggestion that the events which have led to the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) should involve also the resignation of one or other of the permanent officials. We have been shocked because it has always been held in this country as a constitutional maxim that the permanent officials are not responsible for the policy of the Government. They give their advice when they are asked for 2088 it, and they give the benefit of their long experience to the Minister who comes into power, but they are not responsible for the success or failure of the policy of that Minister. Therefore, I rather deprecate what the hon. Member for Shoreditch has just said, and I deprecate it for another reason also. In this country it is customary, very rightly, to swear allegiance to the King and his heirs and successors, but to swear allegiance to a foreign body of doubtful origin and mixed associations, working in a distant foreign town, would be a very curious and most unconstitutional proceeding.
We have had this afternoon a very interesting Debate, with in intense personal note. My purpose is not to allude to that, but I should like to direct attention to something which I think is an outcome of our proceedings this afternoon. Many of us have been disturbed by the rapid changes which have occurred in foreign policy, and we want to know what it all means, and what is to be the final point of direction. Of course the great object is peace. I hear murmurs to the effect that certain Members on the Opposition Benches would face war in the interest of the League of Nations, but the common interest of us all is peace and how to preserve it, and that is what we all wish to achieve. The speech of the Prime Minister was inconclusive from that point of view. He described how events acted upon his temperament and developments affected his emotions, but he did not say what was the sum of the whole matter and whither his policy was directed now. My noble Friend the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) took the task of covering the Government, but he seems to have been led very far away from the intentions with which he first rose to speak, and such assurances as he attempted to give could not be described as very comforting.
I should like, if I may, to direct the attention of the Government to the question of peace. I am here as a man of peace, and I find myself in some difficulty as to how my vote should be given. I should have no difficulty in voting against the Opposition Motion, after hearing the speeches that have been made in support of it, but we are now invited to support an Amendment. What does it all mean? 2089 The Liberal party's idea of peace, according to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), is based either upon the United States or upon the League of Nations. Over a long series of years the policy of the United States, which has now been reaffirmed, has been a policy of armed isolation, and such a policy is not at all likely to conduce to co-operation to secure European peace. One turns, then, to the League of Nations, upon which our Debate has been centred.
We can be quite certain about one thing, and that is that the League of Nations, as at present constituted, cannot prevent an outbreak of war. Recently, in the case of Italy and Abyssinia, its efforts have been directed to bringing about the termination of a war which has already begun. I am one of those who cannot find any great fault with the Government or my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) in taking up the mission, which the League of Nations bestowed upon them and the French Government, of endeavouring to find a basis upon which peace might be discussed. It is true that that basis has not been successful, but they were thoroughly justified in endeavouring to define that basis, and they were not betraying the League in doing so. But what is going to happen next? We are without a Foreign Secretary, and we want to know where the Government are going to lead us. The League of Nations, as at present constituted, is not able to prevent war, and hitherto it has not been able to bring a war to an end; and yet we were told, and it seems to be affirmed by my Noble Friend's Amendment, that the policy of the Government is based on the League of Nations, which has proved, so far, a very faulty institution. That must be so, seeing that the League as at present constituted does not include by any means all the great nations of the world; in fact, it is deficient of the support of at least three of the great Powers.
That statement is very disquieting. We seem to be running down another dead end, and it would give great relief to people like myself if the Government could give us some assurance that, in carrying out their policy of support of the League, they will not take up sanctions or any other line connected with the League of Nations that would lead 2090 us into any serious danger. It is no use talking, in the present case of Italy and Abyssinia, about collective security or collective assistance. If there were to be war in this case, which I pray may not be so, it would be a naval war. There are only two members of the League of Nations whose navies would have any decisive effect in such a state of affairs, namely, Great Britain and France. It is all very well to hear other members of the League talk about supporting each other in such a case, but they can give no support; they have no effective navies; and, if the calamity of war should arise out of any ill-advised or improper action of the League of Nations in which we were collectively involved, this country and France would have to carry the whole burden. Are we prepared to face that possibility? If anything has been clear during the last six months in European policy, it has been that the French Government and nation are not prepared to make war with Italy for the sake of the League of Nations. Are we ourselves prepared to take the risk of war? On these matters I hope and trust we shall receive some comforting assurance to-night, because they go to the root of the whole subject. We have heard many platitudes, but we ought to face realities. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea, in his speech, said plainly, from his experience at the Foreign Office, that we are approaching the danger point. I trust that the representatives of the Government, in answer to this Debate, will be able to assure us that the safety of this country is not going to be compromised by their action.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
The right hon. Gentleman is a pacifist, and so am He is a pacifist at any price and I am in favour of peace at any price but one, and that is national honour. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman and I differ on every point, but I do not believe that any difference of party comes into the Debate to-day or has come into the mind of any of us in the last fortnight. We have not been considering any party scores. We have not been considering even how we were diddled at the last Election. What has been in the minds of every one of us is the honour of our country and how we can restore it. Whether you call us pacifists or bellicose war-at-any-price 2091 people, we are all united in the earnest desire to put back England where she was a fortnight ago. I think the Prime Minister's speech to-day goes a long way to restoring our position, to restoring the policy to which we were all pledged, and to achieving again the backing up of the League of Nations and collective security. I should be happier if I could see the Prime Minister's speech translated into action. One result of the events of the last fortnight must have been to put into all our minds a sort of doubt as to whether he was a strong man as well as on honest man. We know that he is an honest man now that he has admitted so frankly that he made a mistake and has given such excellent democratic reasons for putting that mistake right. But there is a doubt whether he is really going to carry this policy through. It is because of that that I want to say a few words.
In the first place, we must realise that, in backing the League of Nations as we are doing, we are not going on purely altruistic lines. We are not taking on these risks simply for the beautiful idea of world peace. If we were safe, if we here were in the same position as Americans are across the Atlantic, many of us who are now supporting the League of Nations might be supporting a policy of splendid isolation. I do not say that I should be but many of us would. The fact is present to all our minds that in the last two years the whole world situation has changed and sea-girt England is no longer able alone to protect her-self. The rise of a dangerous Germany is one thing and the change in warfare from sea and land to air is another. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Burton (Colonel Gretton) said that, whatever trouble came in the Mediterranean, it was only a question of fleets. It is not a question of fleets at all. It is a question now of the air arm, and any nervousness that we have as to our fleet at Alexandria is not due to Italian submarines or battleships but solely to their power of bombing from an enormous height.
I voted against Locarno. I did not see why we should then be the police of Europe to preserve an unjust peace. But here is an entirely different situation in which we are placed. The only chance 2092 of securing peace in a world of dictators with unlimited power behind them is to secure a large collective body of free Powers bound together firmly by obligations which they will not break to come to the rescue not merely of small Powers but of ourselves. That is why the Government adopted the position that they did. That, I hoped, was why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) made that magnificent speech at Geneva in September. It is this realisation that we need security just as much as others do which causes anxiety.
The Prime Minister was quite clear today and I want to nail him down to the proposition. He laid it down that any further sanctions, such as the oil sanction, must be accompanied by a guarantee to us from the other nations that they would help if we were singled out for attack. You cannot tell what a madman may do and it is conceivable, though not I think very likely, that the bluff that frightened the Foreign Secretary might come off. We are perfectly justified, before we incur any further risk, in getting that pledge from other members of the League that they would come to our help. I want to know why the Government did not try to find that out first. Why did they go to France, a most doubtful starter, and try to get her support, and neglect Turkey, Russia, Greece, Jugo-Slavia and all the other countries which are even more interested than we are ourselves in collective security, and which would certainly have welcomed a request to give us ample assurances, and not only assurances but actual physical support in Egypt. So that the question we have to put to the Government now is, Will they at once ask these other Powers whether they will bear their share of the risk, whether we can be assured that they will support us at once, without hesitation, without parley, if we are attacked by an aggressor against whom the League is acting, whether it be Italy or Germany or any other Power on earth, instead of leaving one unfortunate party to bear the whole brunt of any violence that may result from perfectly peaceful sanctions. That should be the next step.
What I want to know next is whether the Government, through the League of Nations, could not look further ahead. Of course, we are not in love with Abyssinia. We are not in this business 2093 for the sake of Abyssinia. We are in this business in order to secure for the first time an example of the possibility of collective security. If we can achieve it in this case—I do not mean a settlement, but if we can achieve something on which the League of Nations can pride itself, something which will give the other small nations, such as Turkey for instance, ample assurance that they will be protected, then we have laid the foundation not only for League peace but for League security and justice. I wish those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who are against the League would propose alternatives. It is impossible for us, by ourselves, even with our enormous wealth, to build up armaments sufficient to defend the country against the real danger. The only chance is the League of Nations.
I have felt during the last three months that our Government has been anxious—and the French Government particularly so—to secure the support of Italy for the future. But they did not realise that by getting the support of Italy they would throw away the support of Scandinavia, Russia and all the other nations, who in the mass count far more than France itself, or Italy. I wish that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would visualise a future when those nations who remained in the League would be as safe and secure as is the British Empire itself. Nobody would attempt to attack any part of the British Empire because of the certainty that there would follow trouble for the aggressor. If we could establish the same certainty for the people in the League it would not be risky. Establish a wider Pax Britannica, with ourselves as the pinnacle of a real League, carrying on our disputes amicably inside the League, and free from fear outside. If that is to be our goal, we need to get a League of Nations which we can trust; we must eliminate from the League those elements which are not to be trusted.
Any attempt to get assurances of solidarity and of support in the difficult situation in which we or others might find ourselves should be coupled with a penalty on those who will not give support. They should not get support, and need not remain any longer in the League. It is obviously impossible to rely upon people if they are to dodge in and out—in the League when their interests are in peril and outside when the interests of other people are being considered. 2094 We have no use for those people. Their support is valueless and they ought not to have the benefit of being in the League. That is one thing I want to get from the Government.
Next I want to back up my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle). It is a very delicate subject. We know that the Prime Minister always prides himself—and I think justly—on his love of democracy and his faith in it—a far more living faith in democracy since the introduction of dictatorships in foreign countries. He has almost made of democracy a British vested interest, and in his speech to-day, in his giving way in face of democracy, he has given to democracy a fresh valuable precedent. Democracy really means government by Parliament and the executive combined, the executive listening to Parliament and Parliament anticipating the emoluments of office in the future. It is that balance between democracy and the executive which is the pride of the British Constitution, but democracy does not allow for government by permanent officials. It is obvious that in recent years the permanent official has been accumulating power to an excessive extent. I had the very comfortable feeling during those fatal hours, when our good name was smashed and that of the Government also, that we were not governed by the Cabinet. We were not even governed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The permanent officials had too much to do with those terrible terms of peace.
I applaud the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister when he says that in future everything shall go to the Foreign Office, and no Foreign Secretary will ever be allowed to go abroad. I do not mean to Switzerland, but to Paris. I applaud it, and I would ask the House to remember that there has been, in spite of changes of government, a tendency about our foreign policy ever since the days of Versailles to see through rose-coloured spectacles everything that comes from the corridors of the Quai d'Orsay and from the Faubourg which is not Paris. It is so easy to slip over to Paris—to see whom? We had in the old days in Paris great ambassadors drawn from this House or from the other House, but latterly it has been the habit—it has almost become a rule of State—that the permanent official 2095 in charge of the Foreign Office, when his time comes to retire, should slide over to Paris and take over the ambassadorship. The role of an ambassador should be completely divorced from the role of the Foreign Office servant. It has been the tragedy of the last 15 years that the action of our diplomacy has created the situation in Germany. It was this anti-German policy, carried on day and night by close interchange of views between London and the Quai d'Orsay, that has caused the trouble in Germany, and that to-day is still going on. It is this close contact which makes me think that we are getting to some extent away from democracy, that we are getting to the rule of the permanent official, a rule which, in the interests of democracy and of world peace, it would be better to see ended.
The League of Nations is an alternative, not merely in security, but also a chance of building up a new diplomacy, the direct contact between, not the diplomatists, the Foreign Office here and the Foreign Office there, but between the people who are part of the House of Commons, the executive who are responsible to us, and people in similar positions abroad. They are not permanent officials but responsible persons who are in contact with democracy and can see the wishes of the people. If those permanent officials, who personally may be excellent men, had been through the last election, as have hon. Members here, and knew what the people in the country were thinking, as we know, and were not hermits within the walls of the Foreign Office, we should not have seen this last week of misery and should have been in a better position to start, here and elsewhere, to make the League of Nations a confident League for peace.
§ 9.24 p.m.
Marquess of HARTINGTON
Once more—it has happened to me very often before—I find myself, almost word for word in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). It is, indeed, the cause of some anxiety to me because I did not suppose that I was anything like a Socialist, but I have come to the conclusion that I must be something of the sort when I constantly find myself in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman. I rise for the purpose of supporting 2096 the Amendment which was moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). My agreement is rather like that of the late Mr. Austen Leigh in that I agree with him for none of the reasons which he adduced. The Noble Lord moved the Amendment because, in his view, it did not commit the Government too far in support of the League of Nations or the Covenant, and did not commit us to anything very definite. I support the Amendment because I think it restores us fully to the position we occupied 10 days ago, and repudiates the position which has existed during the last few days. I hope and believe that that is the case.
We have been through a very anxious and, as the right hon. Gentleman has just said, a very miserable 10 days. It has been a period of uncertainty, doubt and distress among not only hitherto ardent supporters of the League of Nations, but among all people whose regard for our national honour is high. Hon. Members who believe that the anxiety was confined to "peace cranks" or enthusiastic supporters of the League of Nations Union are profoundly mistaken. There are many sound, old fashioned Tories who have felt anxious, and for the good old-fashioned reason that they do not like to see John Bull eating humble pie at the behest of any member of one of the Latin races. We have lived through an anxious time. I am fully satisfied now, because I believe that since the speeches we have heard this afternoon our course is once more firmly set, and I hope immovably set, on that laid down by the then Foreign Secretary at Geneva in September. That course undoubtedly secured the overwhelming support of this country, and a great measure of confidence and respect all over the world. I hope and believe that the period of great anxiety through which we have been is now over.
I do not propose to deal with the history of these anxious ten days, but I would like, in the few moments which I am going to detain the House, to say a few words on why I believe the course we have once more adopted, and which, I believe, means that we are going to the support of the League, is the best and wisest course for us to pursue. The opposite view—and it is a tenable view— 2097 taken by the apostles of isolation, is that the League is a dangerous entanglement for us, and may lead us into every kind of foreign complication, and that our right course is to cut free both from the League and from every other form of foreign entanglement. With that view I entirely disagree, though I can understand the frame of mind which leads anyone to take it, and I believe it to be a view that is thoroughly unsound. I believe that the real danger to our security is not in commitments to the League, or in foreign engagements of any kind, but in the aggressive spirit among military dictators. We cannot be safe while that spirit of aggression is alive, and I believe that for us to give our full and loyal support to the League is the best way of purging the world of that spirit.
Many people in the last few days have denounced the League, and even Government spokesmen have hinted that we have not been supported as fully as we might have been by some members of the League. I think I detect some inconsistency in the Government's attitude. They say on the one hand that they are afraid lest the conflagration might spread. On the other hand they say that they are afraid that it may not spread because other nations are not prepared to take their part. I believe that whatever risks there may be, and there are risks in pursuing a full League policy, we recognised those risks and took action about them months ago when we sent the Fleet to the Mediterranean. Nothing has been said by any Government spokesman to-day to make one understand what could have altered the situation in the last few days to bring about the drastic change of policy which we have seen.
The efficacy of the League is denied in many quarters. I believe that the results have been extraordinarily good. I was present in a humble capacity as a secretary at the actual formation of the League and the drafting of the Covenant by the original League of Nations Commission, and I think the way in which Article XVI is working is most remarkable, because the conditions that were contemplated when that Article was drafted were entirely 2098 different from anything which is contemplated to-day. When Article XVI was drafted the situation contemplated was that there would be a war actually in progress in Europe, and that the English fleet would be holding the seas. No such situation as has arisen to-day was even remotely contemplated, and in my view it is remarkable that an Article framed to deal with such very different conditions should be working so successfully. Of course, economic sanctions are not 100 per cent. efficient. No one ever dreamt that they would be, or that they could be. Of course there are weaker members, and backsliding, and weaker spirits who cannot resist the temptation to turn a dishonest penny. But the remarkable thing is that the majority of the nations to-day are voluntarily under-going some loss of trade, undergoing some risk or inconvenience, imposing hardship on some sections of their nationals in pursuance of their obligations to the Covenant.
That is something that has never been achieved before and it is something very remarkable. I believe that we can, if this country remains resolute, bring this step to impose the rule of law to a successful end by economic sanctions. When we have done that we have done a great deal towards making the peace of the world secure. Before I was Secretary of the League of Nations Commission I was very closely concerned with the War Trade Intelligence Department and the enforcement of the blockade of Germany. I feel quite confident in saying that if during the first year of the War we had been able to make the blockade anything like as efficient as it was during the last year of the War, the War might not have lasted a year. I believe that to be a fact, and it is by no means an idealistic dream for the League that if we stick to the system of collective security and the system of economic sanctions, we can bring about a state of affairs in which the economic pressure upon any aggressor would be at least half as efficient as our blockade of Germany was in the last year of the War. It is not too much to say that that would make any hope of successful aggression futile. That is a very great result to achieve, and that result, far from being an empty dream, can actually be brought about by the courage and resolution of this country.
Is it not a fact that the failure of our blockade at the beginning of the War was due to our decision to enforce the provisions of the Declaration of London, 1909, and that the blockade was not effective till in 1916 we abandoned this policy and went back to the ancient laws of the sea governing contraband?
Marquess of HARTINGTON
I was not dealing with whose fault it was. I was merely stating a fact. I said that if we could have made the blockade as efficient at the beginning of the War as at the end, it would have brought the War to a very much speedier conclusion. I rejoice at the decision which the Government have made to-day. It has been, no doubt, a difficult decision. I join with all that has been said in regret at the departure of the right hon. Gentleman, who was until yesterday the Foreign Secretary. His resignation, I believe, will not ultimately damage a career which has already been of great distinction and of great value to the nation. I say that especially, because I have in certain respects been opposed to him. I welcome the opportunity of saying how greatly I regret the course of events, but I believe that the line which the Government have taken to-day has strengthened the League and has strengthened our position among the nations of the world.
It would be idle to pretend that we have not lost something in the course of the last few days. There has been an apparent deviation from the line we took in September. We know now that there is to be no more deviation. It may take us a little time to recover all the ground we may have lost, but I believe we can recover it, and recover it in full. But the events of the last few days do not mean all loss. The Government took a step, and I am still not quite clear why they took that step, which profoundly shocked the conscience of the nation and the conscience of an educated democracy. Without turmoil, without agitation and with astonishingly little fuss that informed democracy was able to bring it about that that step has been retraced. In this we have shown the world—and it is a very remarkable thing to have done in these days—that a democracy can take a courageous step in the right direction. The course into which our people have redirected 2100 the Government is not the easiest, not the line of least resistance taken but the more difficult one. We have shown to the world that a democracy can make a difficult and courageous decision as swiftly and as incisively as any dictator. That is a very great thing to have done.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. DALTON
May I begin by saying that with much that the Noble Lord has said I agree, and many of my friends will also agree? I regret that the Noble Lord is restricted to the choice of voting either for our Resolution or for the Amendment which has been moved by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton). I had hoped, but it has turned out to be otherwise, that to-night the House would have had to choose only between two Motions both of which were in effect votes of censure on the Government, namely, our Motion and the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Carlisle (Brigadier-General Spears). As things have fallen out, a white-washing Amendment has been proposed by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham, which conflicts with ours. As regards our Motion the "Times" yesterday said:If it had been possible for a Division to be taken without the intervention of the Whips, there is little doubt that such a Motion would be carried in the present mood of the House of Commons.I agree with that judgment of the "Times," as I agree with much which has appeared in that paper in the last week or two on this subject. I agree with the "Times" that if the Whips would only keep their hands off hon. Members they would vote with us by a great majority. What has changed since yesterday? One Foreign Secretary has gone, but the Government remains. We do not yet know who is the new Foreign Secretary. I understand that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to reply for the Government. Will he be able to inform the House who is the new Foreign Secretary? Perhaps not to-night. The aspirants are still in competition. To us the departure of the late Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) does not in any way diminish our intention to press our Resolution to a Division. Our Resolution speaks, not of the right hon. Member for Chelsea but of His Majesty's 2101 Government, and we say that His Majesty's Government are collectively responsible for what has been done wrong. But His Majesty's Government remain, although one who was by no means its least ornament in the Cabinet has gone.
We say that it is the duty of this House and the country to repudiate the terms proposed for a settlement of the dispute, terms which, as the Noble Lord who preceded me said, have shocked the conscience of the country. More than that, they have shocked the conscience of the world and, much more and worse than that, they have made every gangster Government in every part of the world grin with contemptuous delight to see John Bull—to quote the Noble Lord who preceded me—eating humble pie off a plate served by a member of one of the Latin races. I quote that passage from the Noble Lord with the acknowledgment.
We do not believe that the right hon. Member for Chelsea is in any proper sense, in any justifiable sense, a scapegoat, but rather that he has been made a scapegoat. We believe that the responsibility is not exclusively, nor even predominantly, his for what has happened. As I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister to-day, I thought that it was a most embarrassed and unconvincing defence of the action of himself and of the residue of his colleagues in the Cabinet. May I ask, and I shall be grateful if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will answer, one or two questions arising out of the Prime Minister's speech? Are we seriously to believe that until the right hon. Member for Chelsea went to Paris, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the other Members of the Government knew nothing about the proposed plan, as it has been said, for the exchange of half an Empire for a corridor for camels? Did the details of this plan come as a complete shock to the Prime Minister at breakfast on that Monday morning? Do they no longer circulate Foreign Office telegrams to all Members of the Cabinet? That was the practice when I held a subordinate position in the Foreign Office. Are not all the Members of the Cabinet kept daily informed of the more important events in the sphere of foreign affairs as they are reported by our diplomatic representatives abroad?
2102 Is it conceivable that six long weeks from the time when, it is common knowledge, Mr. Peterson went from the Foreign Office to Paris and had conversations with M. de St. Quentin at the Quai d'Orsay, round about 23rd October—that all through that period of negotiations and discussions based upon instructions given by the Foreign Secretary and approved, one supposes, by the Cabinet, that the first time the Cabinet heard in any great detail the proposals in this plan was when the late Foreign Secretary on the Sunday sent across the particulars which arrived on the Monday morning? Frankly it seems exceedingly unlikely. I say, unless the Press have been greatly misinformed, that there were continuous negotiations between our Government and the French Government carried on through the medium of two able Foreign Office officials, one ours and the other French, who were surely not allowed to act in vacuo but under reasonably precise instructions. Are we to believe that during this period from 23rd October, with a slight lull during the election, when it was desirable to emphasise other things, that this scheme, which finally was jointly proposed by the British and French Governments, only reached its final shape a few days before the right hon. Member for Chelsea set out for his fatal encounter with M. Laval? The House is entitled to a frank statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the degree of knowledge possessed by himself and other Members of the Cabinet of the negotiations which were going on.
The right hon. Member for Chelsea spoke of a provisional agreement having been reached between himself and M. Laval. Was is a provisional agreement which was sent to the Cabinet on 8th December and received on 9th December? If it was only provisional, why was it necessary immediately to choose between endorsing it and repudiating the late Foreign Secretary, as the Prime Minister suggested? If it was only provisional and the Prime Minister understood it as provisional, is our policy to be determined by some local journalist in Paris who, through a leakage in the Quai d'Orsay, gets information which ought to have been withheld from him? Are we to be told, because there has been a leakage of news in 2103 Paris, that therefore, we are compelled either to affix a rubber stamp to the arrangement which is called by the late Foreign Secretary a provisional arrangement, or alternatively, to throw the Foreign Secretary overboard? If it was provisional why could it not have remained provisional to our Cabinet and have been amended by them? But these negotiations between Mr. Peterson and M. de St. Quentin, beginning on 23rd October, were themselves begun nearly three weeks after Mussolini had broken the peace and commenced his abominable aggression in Africa.
References have been made to the proposals of the Committee of Five drawn up before the peace was broken and when it was still fully legitimate to negotiate with people who were still peaceful. But why, if the good name of this country was to be saved—I am not going to make any reference to the honour of individuals; I regard the honour of the country as far more important—do we put ourselves in the position of offering, after three weeks of bloodshed have passed, far greater facilities to the principal aggressor than would ever have been offered to him by the Committee of Five in the days of peace when he still deserved friendly consideration?
We hear of equity and of the claims of the Italian people. The Italian people were indeed badly left out in the distribution of the spoils after the last War, when this country and France grabbed everything there was to be grabbed outside of Europe. When we hear of other territorial injustices in this settlement, to my mind they are as nothing compared with the injustice of two nations already possessing the greatest share of the earth, ourselves and the French, grabbing in the presence of empty-handed Italy all that was left from the changes in ownership brought about by the last War. I say that the Italians had a case, and if they had kept the peace and behaved themslves in a civilised fashion, it would have been our duty to meet that case. They had a case in equity. But in British law it is said that he who appeals to equity must come into the court with clean hands. Equity cannot be claimed now by Mussolini, coming into court with his hands dripping with a mixture of blood and oil, Abyssinian blood and British oil.
2104 May I ask a question with regard to the unsealing of the lips of the Prime Minister to-day? On 10th December I confess that the Prime Minister made me wonder deeply as to what was the secret which, could he but reveal it, would carry us all into the Government lobby. We should have been glad to have heard it then. It would have saved this terrible ruinous riot of rumour which has done such damage in so many quarters since then. It would be wrong for me to give further publicity to these disastrous and discreditable lies by repeating some of the stories which have been brought to me by journalists and others in the past few days, who have been asking did the Prime Minister mean this or that?
To-night the Prime Minister has not, I think, in the process of unsealing his lips, told us anything which makes us feel it our duty to go into the Government Lobby. I wish to speak frankly on the matter, but I hope in a way which will give no offence by way of misunderstanding. It is true that war, if it came in the Eastern Mediterranean in an isolated fashion through this dangerous lunatic dropping bombs on our battleships, would be such a shock, if it was really isolated, that it is quite true that it would shake the foundations of the League of Nations itself. If it remained an isolated war, if we were really deserted by all our co-signatories to the Covenant, it would not be unreasonable on our part to revise our attitude towards that instrument.
I begin there, and I go on to ask: Does the Prime Minister now attach importance to the statement contained in the answer which he gave yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), to the effect that the French Government have definitely, and apparently not once but more than once, promised that they would come to the immediate and effective assistance of the British Fleet if so attacked? Does that mean nothing?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
As this matter is rather important, would it not be better to quote the exact words?
§ Mr. DALTON
I shall be very happy to do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe asked: 2105Whether any intimation has been received from the French Government as to whether or not, in the event of an Italian attack on British naval forces, the French Admiralty would be in a position to give immediate effective support to the British Navy.To that question the Prime Minister replied:As has previously been stated assurances of French support in the event of an emergency such as that mentioned by the hon. Member have been received from the French Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th December, 1935; cols. 1723–24, Vol. 307.]"Assurances have been received." I hope there is no reason why we should not, at this stage of this business, trust the assurances that have been received. If there is any reason for doubting their sincerity, I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will explain what that reason is when he replies. To me, that was, and I think it was intended to be so to the House, a reassuring answer. If there is any ambiguity, as the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) might suggest, I hope it will be cleared up. I go further. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) raised a point in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I would now put to the right hon. Gentleman in the form of another precise question. Is it only from France that we have made these inquiries? Have we or have we not made inquiries from other members of the League? [Hon. MEMBERS: "What other members of the League?"] Have we asked the Soviet Union whether they would assist? I must not take up time in discussing what might be expected from different people but we are told in these days to be air-minded, and it is not impossible, I judge, even for States which have no appreciable navies to give us certain assurances that would be comforting with regard to the rapid movement of air forces in certain eventualities. Have we sought other assurances of that kind? We are entitled to hear. We ought to have the whole of the curtain drawn aside and nothing left in doubt.
There are three alternatives. If we have sought these assurances and if they are satisfactory, why are we hanging about instead of going forward with oil 2106 sanctions and pushing this thing through and bringing this abominable war to an end quickly? If, on the other hand, assurances have been sought but are not satisfactory let us know. Let us know who, while a nominal member of the League, is not willing to play the game in carrying out the central Article of the League's Constitution in times of trouble. In the third alternative if we have not sought these assurances, why not? This danger zone in which we have been is no new thing. We have been in it for months. Surely before ever we joined with other States in applying the mild economic sanctions with which we began, it was reasonable to know where we stood with those other States. If, up to this date, the Government have not actively sought assurances from all other countries, which could assist us in any way, in the event of serious trouble, they have failed in their duty to this country and to this House.
Unfortunately, the impression which has grown is that Great Britain is afraid of Italy. That is the impression which has been allowed to get about the world—that free Britain is afraid of Fascist Italy, and, as some persons who have lived long in the East would say, that has now penetrated to all the bazaars in the East. Indeed I have here a series of cuttings mostly from the "Times." Those intelligent journalists who act as "Times" correspondents in the various foreign capitals have all the same tale to tell. For instance, here is a message from Berlin:Opinion here scarcely conceals its satisfaction with the turn of events in the Abyssinian dispute.… There are no reproaches directed against the British Government here.… Those influential Germans who at heart did not want to be compelled by the success of the League policy to consider returning even to a reformed League, see the League system collapsing, Great Britain estranged from France and amenable to German overtures. Yet at the same time no Mediterranean war and Italian Fascism saved, if weakened.That is the German view. From Washington we learnt:Grave if not irreparable injury to the cause of American co-operation has been inflicted.I will read just one more, this time from Cairo:The inference drawn is that the earlier show of strength at Geneva by the British 2107 Government was only bluff and British prestige in all near-Eastern countries now appears to be in danger of being greatly weakened.I wonder how Lord Lloyd would vote if he were a Member of this House to-night. Would he vote against the Government on our Motion? I think it is difficult to over-emphasise the damage that has been done to our prestige—a word, with which, in many of its meanings I am not at all in love. I would rather say to our power to influence the world for good and for peace. Much damage has been done to that by the gross mismanagement of this affair.
There is yet one other matter on which I would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to unseal his lips. We are not even now sure that the Government, after the events of the last few weeks and after the manufacture, if not the discovery, of a scapegoat, can be counted upon to carry out the policy on which many Members of this House hold their seats, and to the advocacy of which policy, as the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Nicolson) in his brilliant speech very sincerely and candidly admitted, they are indebted for being here at all. We are not yet sure whether the Government are going to pursue a straight League policy. There are two points on which I ask for elucidation, and the first is as regards this suspended question of the oil sanction. Assuming that we have got, or can get, assurances that other countries will share the common risks—and so reduce them to the minimum—of doing right in a world in which madmen hold power, are we prepared to get on with the imposition of this oil sanction which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham himself advocated in the Debate on 5th December, this oil sanction which, if it were resolutely applied, would bring this war to an end very quickly? I quote from the right hon. Gentleman's speech on that occasion. He said:I hope that the Government will be able to persuade the League and its members to apply quickly an embargo on the export of oil from any sources within their control to Italy. Sanctions are in the long run very effective but most sanctions are slow of action. You have in oil a sanction which would be comparatively quick. It is better for all concerned that it should be applied at once and as completely as possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1935; col. 352, Vol. 307.]2108 I was particularly gratified that the right hon. Gentleman spoke on that occasion, because I had been endeavouring to argue the same point myself earlier in the Debate. But I hold in my hand a telegram from Geneva dated to-day:The League Committee of Eighteen on application of sanctions finished its meeting in 10 minutes this afternoon without mentioning an embargo on oil, and without fixing a date for its next meeting. This is generally interpreted as the virtual abandonment of oil sanctions.I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if we have been let down again? We are entitled to ask for an answer. What instructions did the Minister for League of Nations Affairs take to Geneva about oil sanctions? We want to know. Is it still part of the policy of the Government to do nothing which would seriously impair this regime in Italy? Is that part of their policy? Is it one of the reasons for going slow with oil sanctions for fear it would really make an end of this lunatic, and make an end quickly?
§ Mr. DALTON
It has been said this afternoon by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Leicester that it is a great mistake to be excessively discreet in your language when you have something sincere to say. The head of the Italian Government, speaking yesterday to an assembly of poor deluded peasants in the Pontine Marshes, said: "I will fight to a finish." That is the response that you have had to these proposals which you have put forward with the co-operation of M. Laval and the head of the Italian Government. "We will fight to a finish." That is what the head of the Italian Government said. If he is going to fight to a finish, it is the duty of mankind to see that the finish comes quickly, and finishes him. I am pleading for the imposition of oil sanctions. That is my argument. My argument is based on a quotation from the right hon. Gentleman. Arising out of what was said, may we have from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a denial of the ugly rumours which are floating about that discussions are now proceeding between the Foreign Offices in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome—and Rome, aggressor Rome—regarding the so-called reform of the League, whereby it is proposed 2109 that a directory of four great Powers should be set up in large measure to supplant the present Council of the League?
I hope the Chancellor will be able to Say that Press reports to this effect are wholly baseless, that neither is it true that such discussions are proceeding now, nor is it the intention of the Government that they shall be initiated. That would relieve us of the fear that once more, at a near date, we shall find ourselves let down. On this rumour I will say no more than that if this directory were set up, including as one of its members this guilty Italian Government, and excluding from it Poland—a key State for all purposes of peace in Europe, with whom, perhaps, we have not sufficiently cultivated friendly relations—the Soviet Union, an immense force for peace, the Scandinavian democracies, the Little Entente and the British Dominions themselves, why are they to be marked down a peg in any such scheme? If it were true, whereas now one British Dominion always sits by rotation on the Council, having equal rights with this country they would, under such a scheme, be reduced to an inferior status.
I hope that the Government is against any such attempt to revise the League Covenant by creating this great four-Power directory. I ask for a denial of these rumours from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In conclusion, may I bring the House back to the essential point in the Resolution which we shall carry to a Division to-night? We ask for a repudiation of these terms and we lay it down that the honour of this country is pledged to the support of the Covenant of the League—and by the Covenant of the League I mean a Covenant not eternally immutable but a Covenant not substantially nor seriously amended. We shall vote for what I believe is the overwhelming weight of public opinion in this country. It will be quite different from the weight of opinion in the Lobbies.
We shall vote to-night in the name of millions of people who did not support myself and my hon. Friends at the General Election but who voted—and who now think they voted mistakenly—for the party opposite. [Laughter.] Hon. Members must not pretend when they greet my statement with incredulity that they 2110 have had no letters from their constituencies. They and I have had heavy mail bags and among those who voted for them are many who regret very much having done so. We are going to vote to-night for that great mass of opinion in the country, of all parties and of no party, which believes that in the League of Nations, however imperfect it is, lies the best of a number of poor hopes of saving the world from another war.
My concluding observation is this, and perhaps I may be allowed to put a personal point of view, though I believe it is not solely my own, but that many, irrespective of party, hold it. When, the War ended we thought there was a chance of building up some system which would bind together, if not all the nations, at least a substantial part of them, into a co-operative organisation which would get rid of war. We have had disappointments, but the most disastrous thing, surely, that we could do at this moment would be to suppose that there is any effective alternative, whether by way of complete isolation or whether by way of partial isolation, based on small and selective alliances, to going forward with the effort of making the League of Nations, hitherto only a partial success, increasingly successful. When we do that, we do it, I believe, thinking of the enormous cost in life which went to the making of the League of Nations idea.
In the treaties of peace there were good things and there are bad things. One of the few unquestionably good things was the attempt to build the League of Nations. But for the War, it would not have come. The cost of the War was far too high a price to pay, even for an attempt to build the League of Nations. One million of our own British fellow citizens died in the War, and 9,000,000 of others. It was far too high a price even for peace treaties far far better than we obtained. None the less, we remember that price and the efforts that we made, and just because, looking back, we sometimes think of those who would have been endeavouring to-day to help forward this international organisation had they survived the battlefield—for that reason, remembering that, we do not abandon hope, but in face of all discouragement we struggle forward towards the ideal of a world in which war shall be rendered impossible, not by some inherent righteousness 2111 in mankind, but by an organised system which shall make war not worth while for any war-minded ruling class.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
The Debate that has taken place in this House this evening began in an atmosphere of tension which the older Members of the House will remember only to have existed upon rare occasions. The House is always deeply moved by the spectacle of a Minister who has held a great and distinguished position after a long career of public service, and has sacrificed that position from a sense of duty and from the promptings of his own conscience, and I do not think anyone who listened to the solemn words of my right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary, and who sensed the emotion which lay behind them, will fail to have been profoundly impressed by the tragedy which has deprived us of his services for the present. Now that those deeper feelings have perhaps been replaced by a somewhat calmer spirit, we must still all deplore the events which have resulted, not only in a heavy loss to the Government, but, I must say also, in a heavy loss to the country. The only crumb of consolation that I can find is in the knowledge that my right hon. Friend, who has broken his health in his long labours over these last few years, will now at last have the opportunity of restoring his constitution and of reinvigorating his health, so that, as I hope, at no long distance of time he will once more be able to resume his political career.
There have been many suggestions from Members of the Opposition that my right hon. Friend has been made a scapegoat for a fault which is rather the fault of the Government than that of any one individual. We have been asked why we should tolerate the resignation of my right hon. Friend and yet not resign ourselves. My right hon. Friend himself gave in his own words his reasons for his resignation. He told us—and it would be difficult to contradict him—that he felt that the proposals with which he was associated had at the present time rendered it impossible for him to continue, as Foreign Secretary, to exert that influence and authority in the councils of the world which should be the province of anyone 2112 who holds that great office. When it is suggested that the Government are trying to shelter behind him, I think that that is an unfair imputation, because this afternoon my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made no attempt to deny the collective responsibility of all the members of the Cabinet for a decision which they had taken, and he had no hesitation in admitting that that decision, taken in circumstances of great difficulty, was a decision which on further reflection he and We had felt to have been a mistake. I say for myself—I am not now speaking for my colleagues—that though I recognise to-day that that decision was a mistake, I cannot say that in similar circumstances I should not again commit that mistake.
The hon. Member who last addressed the House, following the example of some of his friends earlier in the day, has attempted to suggest to the House that my right hon. Friend gave an inaccurate and misleading account of the events of that week end, during which these proposals were the subject of discussion in Paris. It is no use any Member of the Opposition trying to convince either this House or the country that the Prime Minister has deliberately attempted to deceive them. He has been in public life long enough now to have established a reputation, and everyone who is not blinded by partisan prejudice knows that it is utterly contrary to his character deliberately to deceive those who have placed their trust in him.
The hon. Member has addressed to us a number of specific questions, and I think he is entitled, as he said, to have an answer from me. I shall have no difficulty in answering him, because we have nothing to conceal. The first question was, "Are we to believe that the Cabinet knew nothing at all about discussions which had been going on for weeks in Paris between the expert officials of the British and of the French Governments? Are we to suppose that the Cabinet did not know of the terms of these proposals before Monday?—I do not think he specified the date.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I answer that question. Of course the Cabinet knew that discussions were going on between these officials in Paris. Had not the League specifically asked the two 2113 Governments—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] What is the use of hon. Members saying "No"? Everybody knows they did. They specially requested the Governments of Great Britain and France to investigate the possibility of an accommodation which would put an end to the hostilities proceeding in Abyssinia. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We did not seek a thankless task of that kind, but we accepted it, and the discussions between the officials in Paris were undertaken in pursuance of that mission which had been entrusted to our two Governments by the League itself.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I shook my head just now because the Minister for League of Nations Affairs has himself said that there is no truth that the League had given these Governments a mandate. All that happened was that one Minister on the Co-ordinating Committee suggested that these two Governments should undertake this task. No vote was taken in that Committee. That Committee knew it had no power to give that mandate. Those Governments had no mandate at all from the League.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I think we are really disputing over words. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think what exactly happened was that somebody—[HON. MEMBERS: "Somebody"]—suggested that these two Governments should undertake this task. It was suggested in a Committee of the League—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"]—the League knew that this task was to be undertaken by the two Governments, and the League approved of it. If the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting that the two Governments undertook this work behind the back of the League then he is suggesting something which I am sure he cannot substantiate. [Interruption.] Then I do not know what the dispute is about. It was undertaken with the full approval of the League. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We did not have details circulated from day to day as to the progress of the negotiations between these two Governments, but we did generally know that they had been discussing the question, and that up to the Saturday before my right hon. Friend went to Paris they were still far from agreement as to the terms which would be put forward.
2114 Upon what further point does the hon. Gentleman require information, as to the knowledge of the Government? My right hon. Friend was on his way to take a holiday in Switzerland. He undertook to stop at Paris on his way and to have a conversation with the French Prime Minister about these discussions. He had hoped to have arrived in Paris early on the Saturday, but it will be remembered that Saturday was a day of fog, and instead of flying, my right hon. Friend was obliged to go by train and boat, and he did not arrive until some time in the afternoon. As a result of the lateness of his arrival he and M. Laval were unable to complete their discussions that evening, and the discussions were resumed the next day. It was on the Sunday that the proposals which have since been published were finally agreed upon between my right hon. Friend and M. Laval.
We did not hear what those proposals were until Monday. Speaking for myself I confess that I had not anticipated that it would be possible to reach any final conclusion in so short a period as that, and I did not see the proposals until late on the afternoon of Monday. Therefore, the answer to the right hon. Gentleman is the one that I have given. The Cabinet knew that discussions were proceeding between the experts, that they had been proceeding for some time and that they had not reached an agreement. They hoped that through the conversations between my right hon. Friend and M. Laval the discussions might be conducted further towards a favourable conclusion, but the Cabinet did not know until the Monday afternoon what were the actual terms of the proposals.
The hon. Member says: "Why, if the agreement between M. Laval and the right hon. Gentleman was only provisional, was it necessary for the Government to choose whether they would accept the agreement or whether they would throw over their colleague?" The answer to that is simple. The statement had been published in the Press, which not only declared that agreement had been reached but purported to give the terms. They could not reject the agreement without everybody knowing that we had thrown over our Foreign Secretary. [Interruption] [HON. MEMBERS: "You have thrown him over now."] My answer 2115 does not satisfy hon. Members opposite. I thought that it was my duty to tell them the truth, and I have told them the plain and simple truth.
In the circumstances I have described, having to decide at very short notice whether we should accept or reject an agreement of a complicated character dealing with a country remote and unfamiliar, not having the advantage of the presence of my right hon. Friend to explain the proposals himself, conscious of the fact that he was so desperately in need of a holiday that it would have been cruelty to ask him to come back, we accepted the proposals. We must take the responsibility, and we do take the responsibility, for what we now believe, on further reflection, to have been a mistake.
I come now to the hon. Gentleman's second question. He asked whether we asked other Powers besides France what their attitude would be in case of an attack upon this country by Italy. He asked whether we asked all the Powers, and, if not, why not; and which were the ones, if any, that had given such assurances. The House will, I think, realise that, if there were any danger at all of an attack, that attack must have been in the Mediterranean, and the important thing, therefore, for us to know was what would be the attitude of the Mediterranean Powers, and not of Powers, members of the League, many of which were remote from the possible scene of disturbance.
§ Mr. DALTON
All that I asked was whether they had approached those Powers that were able, whether by the possession of air forces or in any other way, to give assistance. I did not speak simply of Mediterranean Powers, nor, of course, was I thinking of the South American Republics.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman asked whether we had asked all the members of the League, and, if not, why not. I am proceeding to answer that question. We did not ask all the Powers who are members of the League, in view of the simple and obvious consideration which I have just mentioned, namely, that it really was not of importance to us to know whether all the Powers were prepared to come to our assistance; but we did think it was important to 2116 know what was the attitude of Powers bordering upon the Mediterranean. I wish to say, therefore, that we did ask other Powers than France. But I think the hon. Gentleman and the House will realise that the attitude of France was far and away the most important of all to us. It was suggested by the hon. Gentleman that we had not received assurances in the affirmative from some Powers. I wish to contradict that. My right hon. Friend, in his speech this afternoon, stated that he was making no complaint, that he had no grievance, against any Power for what they had done or had not done in the past. Once again I wish to say that we had from the Powers that were asked, and from France in particular, the most complete and loyal assurances that they would come to our aid if we were attacked by Italy. The hon. Member read out a question that was put and the answer that was given to it in this House. I do not know whether he detected a difference in wording between the question and the answer, but I have no doubt that the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), who asked the question, not only detected the difference, but perfectly understood the difference that was implied. The hon. Member's question was whether we had received assurances of immediate assistance—I am not quoting the words—
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am obliged to the hon. Member. The answer was that we had received assurances from France that she would come to our assistance. Let us consider a little further what all this means. The hon. Gentleman—I must say as I listened to him I was thankful that he was not Foreign Secretary—demanded the immediate imposition of oil sanctions and wished to know whether or not we were prepared immediately to impose them. Let me remind the House of the words used by Signor Mussolini, before the Election, on the question of sanctions. He said:We shall reply in kind to military sanctions or acts of war, but to sanctions of an economic character we will reply with our discipline, with our sobriety and our spirit of sacrifice.Those words were interpreted, I think, by the whole world to mean that, as long as sanctions were confined to those of an economic character Signor Mussolini 2117 would not regard them as military sanctions or acts of war. But we have a good deal of information from various quarters that, if we were to proceed to oil sanctions, he might take an entirely different view. That need not necessarily stop the imposition of oil sanctions, and if the League should decide that oil sanctions should be applied, and that they can be effective, and should we be satisfied that all members of the League at any rate who matter are not only ready to give us assurances but are prepared to take their part in meeting an attack, which may be sudden and unexpected, we, too, are prepared to play our part and agree to the imposition of an oil sanction. But my right hon. Friend the late Foreign Secretary, in an impressive passage in his speech to-day, pointed out that as you got nearer and nearer to the point when danger of an attack became imminent you had to be more and more certain of what was going to happen when that attack took place, and that in the conditions of modern warfare we must look to all members of the League not only to be ready, as they are I am sure ready, to give us assurances that they will stand together in resisting such an attack, but that they are capable and prepared and ready to take part in whatever defensive measures are decided upon. It was in that connection that my right hon. Friend pointed out that we alone had up to the present moved either a ship or an aeroplane or a man. Without making any reproaches against any other nation it is only right, it is only in accordance with the realities of the situation, that it should be pointed out to them that those who will the end must also will the means.
Now that I have answered the third question of the hon. Gentleman, whether we can count on the Government to pursue the policy of applying sanctions, I come to his last question, when he reported rumours that discussions are now going on between London, Paris, Berlin and Rome regarding the reform of the League and the substitution for it of some Directorate representing those four countries. I wonder how many hon. Members had heard that story before it was given publicity by the hon. Member opposite. For myself, it had not reached my ears. I have no hesitation in giving the most 2118 categorical denial to any such story, and I say with all the emphasis that I can that there is not the slightest foundation for any such rumour. Let me say once again that nothing has changed in the attitude of the Government towards the League. We may have made our mistake in the application of the policy which we have hitherto pursued, but no one, I believe, will say that we were not right, or that we shall not be right in the future to use any and every opportunity there may be of negotiating a peace which, in the words so often quoted, "is acceptable to the League and is accepted by the two parties to the dispute." But, failing that, we stand as we stood before, for collective security by collective action.
I confess that I was one of those who at one time was very doubtful as to whether the League of Nations would ever become ax effective body, but when it was put in this position, that by the act of Italy in violating her obligations the League must either take action or come to an end, I felt there was no alternative but to try out to the last extremity the possibilities of the League. I must say for myself that the League responded to the trial through which it had to go to a far greater extent than I had ever anticipated would be possible. I have not lost my faith in the League. I do not believe that the League suffers any greater danger than those who would ask it to perform the powers of a man when it is still only the age of a child. The League must advance by steps until it has gained the confidence of the world. It has advanced in that confidence with giant strides since this dispute began, but it must be realised that the ultimate sanction behind the League must always be force, and unless the members of the League are prepared to equip themselves so that they may be able to meet any threat against them by any aggressor, until they are prepared to use that equipment, if necessary, they cannot expect to attain complete success.
Now, I want to ask the Opposition where they stand on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said to-day that we were living in dangerous times. You will not get peace, he said, by running away. Well, then, the corollary of that is, that you 2119 must be ready, if necessary to fight. Where will he and his friends stand if presently we come to them and say, "Now we ask for the authority of the House to repair the gaps in our defences"? We can see now where they stand. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not a penny."] There are the intellectuals like the hon. Member who say "Get on with your sanctions whatever the cost," and the hon. Members behind who say "The Tories it is that want war." But all join together to say "Above all do not let us have
§ any armaments." The Amendment of my Noble Friend assures the Government of the support of the House in following out the policy that was embodied in the manifesto and approved by the electors and this country. That is our policy. We ask the House now to endorse it.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 165; Noes, 397.2123
|Division No. 17.]||AYES.||[10.54 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Owen, Major G.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Potts, J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Price, M. P.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hardie, G. D.||Quibell, J. D.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Riley, B.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ritson, J.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hicks, E. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Barr, J.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Batey, J.||Holdsworth, H.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bellenger, F.||Holland, A.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Benson, G.||Hollins, A.||Rowson, G.|
|Bevan, A.||Hopkin, D.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jagger, J.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bromfield, W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Brooke, W.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Short, A.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Chater, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Lathan, G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Compton, J.||Lawson, J. J.||Stephen, C.|
|Cove, W. G.||Leach, W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Lee, F.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Daggar, G.||Leonard, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dalton, H.||Leslie, J. R.||Thorne, W.|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Logan, D. G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Lunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||McEntee, V. La T.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Day, H.||McGhee, H. G.||Walker, J.|
|Dobbie, W.||McGovern, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Ede, J. C.||Maclean, N.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Mander, G. le M.||White, H. Graham|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Marklew, E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Foot, D. M.||Marshall, F.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Frankel, D.||Mathers, G.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gallacher, W.||Maxton, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Garro-Jones, G. M.||Milner, Major J.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gibbins, J.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Muff, G.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Oliver, G. H.||Sir Charles Edwards and Mr. Palin|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.|
|Albery, I. J.||Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Anstruther-Gray, W. J.|
|Apsley, Lord||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hepworth, J.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Cross, R. H.||Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)|
|Assheton, R.||Crossley, A. C.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Crowder, J. F. E.||Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)|
|Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Cruddas, Col. B.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Culverwell, C. T.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Hopkinson, A.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Davison, Sir W. H.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir R. S.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Dawson, Sir P.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Balniel, Lord||De Chair, S. S.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||De la Bère, R.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Denville, Alfred||Hunter, T.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hurd, Sir P. A.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Dodd, J. S.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Donner, P. W.||Jackson, Sir H.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||James, Wing-commander A. W.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.||Drewe, C.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Joel, D. J. B.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Dugdale, Major T. L.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Duggan, H. J.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dunglass, Lord||Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Dunne, P. R. R.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Eales, J. F.||Kimball, L.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Eastwood, J. F.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Eckersley, P. T.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Edge, Sir W.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Latham, Sir P.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Ellis, Sir G.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Brass, Sir W.||Elliston, G. S.||Leckie, J. A.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Elmley, Viscount||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Emery, J. F.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Leigh, Sir J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Entwistle, C. F.||Levy, T.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Errington, E.||Lewis, O.|
|Bull, B. B.||Erskine Hill, A. G.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Burghley, Lord||Everard, W. L.||Little, Sir E. Graham-|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Fildes, Sir H.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Findlay, Sir E.||Lloyd, G. W.|
|Butler, R. A.||Fleming, E. L.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.|
|Butt, Sir A.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Loder, Captain Hon. J. de V.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Freemantle, Sir F. E.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Furness, S. N.||Lumley, Capt. L. R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Lyons, A. M.|
|Cary, R. A.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gibson, C. G.||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G.|
|Cautley, Sir H. S.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||M'Connell, Sir J.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Gledhill, G.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Gluckstein, L. H.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Goldie, N. B.||McEwen, Capt. H. J. F.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.)||Goodman, Col. A. W.||McKie, J. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.|
|Channon, H.||Graham Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Granville, E. L.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir I.|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Magnay, T.|
|Clarry, R. G.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Maitland, A.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.|
|Cobb, Sir C. S.||Grimston, R. V.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Cochrane, Comdr. Hon. A. D.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor)||Maxwell, S. A.|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Guy, J. C. M.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Hanbury, Sir C.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hannah, I. C.||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Hannon, P. J. H.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.|
|Craddock, Sir R. H.||Harbord, A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hartington, Marquess of||Moreing, A. C.|
|Critchley, A.||Harvey, G.||Morgan, R. H.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Heligers, Captain F. F. A.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)|
|Crooke, J. S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.|
|Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Rowlands, G.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Munro, P. M.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Nall, Sir J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Tate, Mavis C.|
|O'Connor, T. J.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Salmon, Sir I.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.||Salt, E. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Palmer, G. E. H.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Patrick, C. M.||Sandys, E. D.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Peake, O.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Touche, G. C.|
|Peat, C. U.||Savery, Servington||Train, J.|
|Penny, Sir G.||Scott, Lord William||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.||Selley, H. R.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Peters, Dr. S. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)||Turton, R. H.|
|Petherick, M.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Pilkington, R.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.||Wallace, Captain Euan|
|Plugge, L. F.||Simmonds, O. E.||Ward, Lieut. Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Porritt, R. W.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Power, Sir J. C.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Pownall, Sir A. Assheton||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Preston, Sir W. R.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Procter, Major H. A.||Smithers, Sir W.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Radford, F. A.||Somerset, T.||Wells, S. R.|
|Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Ramsden, Sir E.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Rankin, R.||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Spender-Clay Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Spens, W. P.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Rayner, Major R. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'f'd)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Reid, D. D. (Down)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Storey, S.||Wragg, H.|
|Remer, J. R.||Stourton, Hon. J. J.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Captain Margesson and Mr. Blindell.|
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."2124
§ The House divided: Ayes, 390; Noes, 165.2127
|Division No. 18.]||AYES.||[11.5 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Bossom, A. C.||Channon, H.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Boulton, W. W.||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)|
|Albery, I. J.||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Alexander, Brig.-Gen. Sir W.||Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Chorlton, A. E. L.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.||Christie, J. A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Boyce, H. Leslie||Clarry, R. G.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Clydesdale, Marquess of|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Brass, Sir W.||Cobb, Sir C. S.|
|Apsley, Lord||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Cochrane, Comdr. Hon. A. D.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Colfox, Major W. P.|
|Assheton, R.||Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.|
|Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Colville, Lt.-Col. D. J.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Bull, B. B.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Burghley, Lord||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Balniel, Lord||Burton, Col. H. W.||Courthope Col. Sir G. L.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Butler, R. A.||Craddock, Sir R. H.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Butt, Sir A.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Caine, G. R. Hall-||Craven-Ellis, W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Campbell, Sir E. T.||Critchley, A.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Cartland, J. R. H.||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Carver, Major W. H.||Crooke, J. S.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Cary, R. A.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Cautley, Sir H. S.||Cross, R. H.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Crossley, A. C.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Crowder, J. F. E.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Cruddas, Col. B.|
|Blaker, Sir R.||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Culverwell, C. T.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Davies, C. (Montgomery)|
|Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Patrick, C. M.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Peake, O.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Hunter, T.||Peat, C. U.|
|De la Bère, R.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Denville, Alfred||Jackson, Sir H.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||James, Wing-Commander A. W.||Petherick, M.|
|Dodd, J. S.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Donner, P. W.||Joel, D. J. B.||Pilkington, R.|
|Dorman Smith, Major R. H.||Keeling, E. H.||Plugge, L. F.|
|Drewe, C.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Porritt, R. W.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Kerr, J. G. (Scottish Universities)||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Pownall, Sir A. Assheton|
|Duggan, H. J.||Kimball, L.||Preston, Sir W. R.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Radford, F. A.|
|Dunne, P. R. R.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Eales, J. F.||Latham, Sir P.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S. W.)||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Edge, Sir W.||Leckie, J. A.||Rankin, R.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lees-Jones, J.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Leigh, Sir J.||Rayner, Major R. H.|
|Elliston, G. S.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Levy, T.||Reid, D. D. (Down)|
|Emery, J. F.||Lewis, O.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Liddall, W. S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lindsay, K. M.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Entwistle, C. F.||Little, Sir E. Graham-||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Errington, E.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||Lloyd, G. W.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Rowlands, G.|
|Everard, W. L.||Loder, Captain Hon. J. de V.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Loftus, P. C.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Fleming, E. L.||Lumley, Capt. L. R.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Lyons, A. M.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Fraser, Capt. Sir I.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Freemantle, Sir F. E.||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. Sir C. G.||Salt, E. W.|
|Furness, S. N.||M'Connell, Sir J.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Sandys, E. D.|
|Gibson, C. G.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||McEwen, Capt. H. J. F.||Savery, Servington|
|Gledhill, G.||McKie, J. H.||Scott, Lord William|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Selley, H. R.|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Goldie, N. B.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Goodman, Col. A. W.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir I.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Macquisten, F. A.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Graham Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Magnay, T.||Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.|
|Granville, E. L.||Maitland, A.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Maxwell, S. A.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Somerset, T.|
|Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Hamilton, Sir G. C.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Hanbury, Sir C.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Mitcheson, G. G.||Spender-Clay Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Hannon, P. J. H.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Spens, W. P.|
|Harbord, A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. T. C.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Moreing, A. C.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Harvey, G.||Morgan, R. H.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Heligers, Captain F. F. A.||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Storey, S.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)||Stourton, Hon. J. J.|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Hepworth, J.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.)||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey)||Munro, P. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Nall, Sir J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Holmes, J. S.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Hopkinson, A.||O'Connor, T. J.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir R. S.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Wallace, Captain Even||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Thomson, Sir J. D. W.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Titchfield, Marquess of||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Touche, G. C.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Train, J.||Warrender, Sir V.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Tree, A. R. L. F.||Waterhouse, Captain C.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.||Wayland, Sir W. A.||Wragg, H.|
|Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Turton, R. H.||Wells, S. R.|
|Wakefield, W. W.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Walker-Smith, Sir J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||Sir George Penny and Mr. Blindell.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Owen, Major G.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Paling, W.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Potts, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Price, M. P.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hardie, G. D.||Quibell, J. D.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Harris, Sir P. A.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Riley, B.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Hicks, E. G.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)|
|Batey, J.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bellenger, F.||Holdsworth, H.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Benson, G.||Holland, A.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Bevan, A.||Hollins, A.||Rowson, G.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hopkin, D.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Bromfield, W.||Jagger, J.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Brooke, W.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Short, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Chater, D.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Compton, J.||Lathan, G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, J. J.||Stephen, C.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Leach, W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Daggar, G.||Lee, F.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Dalton, H.||Leonard, W.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Leslie, J. R.||Thorne, W.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Logan, D. G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lunn, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, H.||McEntee, V. La T.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Dobbie, W.||McGhee, H. G.||Walker, J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McGovern, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Ede, J. C.||McLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||Maclean, N.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Mander, G. le M.||White, H. Graham|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Marklew, E.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Foot, D. M.||Marshall, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Frankel, D.||Maxton, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gallacher, W.||Messer, F.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Milner, Major J.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Garro-Jones, G. M.||Montague, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Gibbins, J.||Muff, G.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House, holding that any terms for settling the Italo-Abyssinian dispute should be such as the League can accept, assures His Majesty's Government of its full support in pursuing the Foreign policy outlined in the Government manifesto and endorsed by the Country at the recent General Election.