HC Deb 25 June 1935 vol 303 cc948-50
Vice-Admiral CAMPBELL

(by Private Notice) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, during the recent discussions, the German representatives revealed what is the policy of the German Government as regards the use of submarines in war.

The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Sir Bolton Eyres Monsell)

During the discussion on the many points of detail concerning existing naval treaties, the German representatives stated that Germany is prepared to adhere to the rules regarding submarine warfare as set out in Part IV of the London Naval Treaty and to accept them for herself, irrespective of whether they are adhered to by all other Powers.

Part IV of the London Naval Treaty reads as follows: The following are accepted as established rules of International Law:

  1. (1) In their action with regard to merchant ships, submarines must conform to the rules of International Law to which surface vessels are subject.
  2. (2) In particular, except in the case of persistent refusal to stop on being duly summoned, or of active resistance to visit or search, a warship, whether surface vessel or submarine, may not sink or render incapable of navigation a merchant vessel without having first placed passengers, crew and ship's papers in a place of safety. For this purpose the ship's boats are not regarded as a place of safety unless the safety of the passengers and crew is assured in the existing sea and weather conditions, by the proximity of land, or the presence of another vessel which is in a position to take them on board.
The High Contracting Parties invite all other Powers to express their assent to the above rules. This means that Germany has agreed never again to resort to what was known during the War as unrestricted submarine warfare.


Will the First Lord of the Admiralty be good enough to state what Powers have expressed their adherence to the London Treaty?


Yes, Sir. This particular Part IV of the London Treaty is signed by ourselves, the United States of America, Japan, France and Italy, but the only Powers that are juridically bound by it are ourselves, the United States of America and Japan, because France and Italy did not ratify.


Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the German rulers have said time and again that they are in favour of the abolition of submarines altogether, and was that matter discussed at the Conference?


Yes, and they again told us that they, as we, are in favour of the abolition of submarines, but unfortunately at the present moment other countries are not agreed about that.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that, if a nation is on the verge of defeat and victory can be obtained by violating that Convention, it will stick to it?


That would mean a policy of despair, that no Treaty could be made with anyone, and that we should return to jungle rule.


Will my right hon. Friend indicate the extent to which the undertaking now given is an extension of an undertaking given before the War?


It is an entirely new undertaking.


Germany gave an undertaking not to violate Belgium, but she did.