HC Deb 06 April 1936 vol 310 cc2394-5

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any action has been taken by the Government, directly or through the League of Nations, in connection with the use of poison gas and the bombing of open civilian towns and Red Cross units by the Italian forces in Abyssinia?


As regards the use of asphyxiating gas and attacks by aircraft on Red Cross units, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave last Monday to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet), in which I stated that the Committee of Thirteen had decided to refer the complaints of the Ethiopian Government to the Italian Government, and that the representative of His Majesty's Government on the committee had associated himself with this decision. Action to give effect to the decision was taken by the chairman of the committee on 23rd March. As regards the question of the use of gas, within the last few days His Majesty's Government have inquired at Geneva whether the answer of the Italian Government had been received, and if not, when it was to be expected. They have also pressed for an early meeting of the Committee of Thirteen to consider the reply or the action to be taken in the event of its non-receipt. As regards the bombing of open towns, the Ethiopian Government on 29th March protested to the League of Nations against the raid carried out on that date on Harar as being a violation of Article 25 of the rules annexed to Hague Convention No. 4 of 1907. In view of the importance of guarding against violation of the laws and customs of war relating to the protection of noncombatants, His Majesty's Government are making urgent representations that the complaint made by the Ethiopian Government should receive immediate attention from the appropriate organ of the League.


Would it not be wise for this House and the Foreign Secretary on behalf of this House to express in no measured terms our condemnation of this detestable brutality?


I think this question is to be discussed in the Debate which we are to have later.

18. Mr. E. J. WILLIAMS

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government will press for the appointment of a commission, on the lines of the Lytton Commission, to furnish the Council of the League with a basis for an equitable and permanent settlement of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute?


I do not consider that there would be any advantage, at the present time, in suggesting the appointment of such a commission. I would remind the hon. Member that in September last the League Committee of Five made a careful and thorough investigation into the origins of, and the issues involved in, the dispute between Italy and Ethiopia, and worked out in great detail a plan for its just and equitable settlement.