HC Deb 24 July 1935 vol 304 cc1812-5
7. Brigadier-General SPEARS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the recent pronouncements by Mr. Cordell Hull and Mr. William Phillips, he is endeavouring to concert a common policy with the United States of America with a view to averting an armed conflict between Italy and Abyssinia?


I have already expressed to the United States Ambassador the satisfaction of His Majesty's Government at the recent utterances of the United States Secretary of State concerning the obligations devolving upon all signatories of the Kellogg Pact. My hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that His Majesty's Government will always be ready to co-operate with the Government of the United States in seeking to preserve peace.

10. Mr. MANDER

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken by France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Sweden, and other countries with reference to the export of arms to Abyssinia; whether in any cases exports have been held up or refused; and whether the British Government has yet defined its policy on the subject?


According to my information the French Government have prohibited the export of war material to Italy and Ethiopia. In the case of Sweden, I understand that the Swedish Government have as yet received no applications for export licences. I am not in a position to state what action has been taken by Belgium, Czechoslovakia and other countries. As regards the second part of the question, I have no detailed information on this subject, and as regards the last part I would remind the hon. Member that I have already stated that I hope to make a statement on this subject very shortly.


Is not this rather prolonged delay on the part of the British Government somewhat unfair to Abyssinia? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any licences for Italy have been held up in the same way?


I should prefer to leave questions of that kind until I make my statement, which I hope will be very shortly.


Can we have an assurance that both countries are being and will be treated alike?


I should like to ask whether there has been any trammel on the export of munitions of war to Italy since this business began?


Does "very shortly" mean before the House rises for the recess?




Is not my right hon. Friend somewhat horrified by this pacifist desire to export arms?


I never was a pacifist.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what restrictions have been placed by His Majesty's Government upon the export of arms, aircraft, or other military supplies to Abyssinia which do not apply to similar exports to Italy; and whether His Majesty's Government are taking any international action with a view to placing an embargo upon the export of such material to either or both of these countries?

51. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the President of the Board of Trade what restrictions have been put upon the export of arms and munitions of war to Abyssinia which are not applicable to similar exports elsewhere?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)

No licence whatever has been issued for the export of arms to either Italy or Ethiopia during the past four months. There has not at any time since the signing of the Treaty of 1930 between the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, France and Italy been any difference in the treatment given to Italy and Ethiopia except so far as arises from the provisions of the Treaty itself. The Treaty provides that the importation of arms and munitions of war and aircraft into Ethiopia is subject to the production of an export licence issued by the country of export after the presentation to its authorities of an authorisation by the Ethiopian Government for import into Ethiopia. As regards the second part of Question No. 50, I would refer my right hon. and gallant Friend to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for Handsworth (Commander Locker-Lampson) on the 22nd July by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


When the right hon. Gentleman says that no licences have been issued, does he mean that licences have in fact been refused to Abyssinia for the import of arms; and does he realise that, if the Government do not come to a decision with regard to export licences for arms to Abyssinia, war may break out, and it will then be impossible for Abyssinia to obtain the means to defend itself against the aggressor?


So far as the first part of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's supplementary question is con-concerned, there has been no completed application from Ethopia during the last four months for arms, and therefore there has been no refusal.


Do the British Government make any distinction between supplying arms to a brave nation trying to defend itself and supplying arms to an aggressor?


Is it usual for the country that wants to import arms to make application for a licence or for the firm that proposes to export the arms?


The application as a rule is made by the exporting firm. In this case there has been no completed application.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether a licence was issued to Lord Carson to export arms to Ireland?