6. Mr. V. ADAMS
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what League action is proposed in the Italo-Ethiopian dispute after the new intensification by Italy of her aggression?
§ Mr. EDEN
On 18th April the Committee of Thirteen submitted a report to the Council upon the steps it had taken in execution of the mandate entrusted to it by the Council on 19th December, 1935, which was to examine the Italo-Ethiopian situation as a whole as it might appear in the light of the information which the Committee might procure. The Committee's report was considered by the Council at its meeting on 20th April. The outcome of this meeting of the Council was a resolution accepted by all the members of the Council, except the Italian representative, who voted against it. In this resolution regret was expressed that the effort at conciliation made by the Committee of Thirteen in accordance with the appeal which it made to the two parties on 3rd March had not succeeded. In these circumstances, it had not been possible to bring about the cessation of hostilities and war was continuing under conditions which had been declared contrary to the Covenant and which involve the execution of the obligations laid upon the members of the League in such a case by the Covenant. I would add in this connection that the Committee of Experts 131 set up by the Committee of Eighteen, which is the committee on sanctions, has been meeting in Geneva to consider reports upon the working of existing sanctions with a view to their more effective application. The information which is in consequence available shows that the effect of the existing sanctions is becoming increasingly severe. It has moreover been arranged that the Committee of Eighteen itself shall meet at a date close to that of the next session of the Council which opens on 11th May. Should there be a general desire for an earlier meeting, or should the President himself think such a meeting necessary, the President has, of course, the right to summon the Committee accordingly. Copies of the Council Resolution and of the report of the Committee of Thirteen will be placed in the Library of the House as soon as possible.
Does the right hon. Gentleman think existing sanctions are sufficiently severe to prevent the complete military success of the aggressor?
§ Mr. THORNE
Was any consideration given to the fact that Australia is doing more trade with Italy now than ever she did?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Why did not the right hon. Gentleman press for further sanctions, and what Powers on the League were prepared to back further sanctions?
§ Mr. GALLACHER
Are we to take it that sanctions are directed to securing the defeat of Italy and, if so, how does 132 that compare with the statement of the Prime Minister that we do not seek the defeat of Italy?
What is the earliest possible date at which further measures can be concerted against the aggressor?
§ Mr. MANDER
Are we to understand that the British Government are not interested in the way in which other members of the League carry out their duties in respect to sanctions?
§ 7. Mr. McGOVERN
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the League of Nations have made inquiry into the raid upon the Dutch Red Cross unit in Ethiopia by the Abyssinians, when 17 of its personnel were killed, and Dr. Van Schelven, its leader, wounded; and whether he is taking any precaution to protect the British Fed Cross from such outrages?
§ Mr. EDEN
So far as I am aware no complaint has been addressed to the League of Nations by the Netherlands or any other Government concerning the attack made by rebellious Galla tribesmen against an advance section of the Dutch Ambulance operating with the Ethiopian forces on the Northern Front at the end of February or early in March. As regards the last part of the question, so far as I am aware everything possible has been done by the Ethiopian Government to provide adequate protection in the case of need for the British Ambulance Units serving with their forces.
§ Mr. SHINWELL
Is it now clear that these allegations that emanate from the Independent Labour party are unfounded?
§ 8 and 9. Mr. McGOVERN
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he is aware that a party of Italian civilian road-workers, employed by a commercial road company operating in Ethiopia, was attacked by armed Abyssinians and 68 of the party killed and mutilated, and that among the victims was Signora Rocca, wife of the road engineer; whether the League at Geneva has yet examined the testimony on the subject forwarded by Italy; and whether the League has made any protest to the Negus on the subject;
(2) whether the League of Nations has completed inquiry into the allegations of Abyssinian atrocities against Italian workmen in document official number C. 123, M. 62, 1936, VII, Geneva, 19th March, 1936, which has official photographs; and whether he can make a statement on the matter?
§ Mr. EDEN
The allegations referred to in these questions are among those which have been reported to the League of Nations. I have already explained in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Nuneaton (Lieut.-Commander Fletcher) the action which has been and is being taken by the League in regard to alleged violations of the laws of war by either belligerent.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
Are these allegations correct or not, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these questions are being put down at the request of Members of the Labour party?
§ Mr. THORNE
Does the right hon. Gentleman think it right for a Member of this House to act as a conduit pipe for someone else?
§ 11. Mr. COCKS
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the various treaties and agreements that have been broken by the Italian Government, including the 134 Geneva Protocol against the use of poison gas, His Majesty's Government will withdraw the British Ambassador from Rome?
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Will my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that there is no foundation for the rumours that there has been an estrangement between ourselves and France recently in regard to this question?
§ 12. Mr. COCKS
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the fact that Italy has been condemned by the League as an aggressor and, in spite of this decision, is continuing its course of aggression, His Majesty's Government will propose that Italy should be expelled from the League of Nations?
§ 13. Mr. MANDER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken by the League of Nations with refernce to the continued use by Italy of poison gas in Abyssinia in breach of treaty agreements?
§ 3. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make regarding representations made to 135 Italy relative to her violation of her undertaking not to resort to the use of poison gas in warfare?
§ Mr. EDEN
The action which the League of Nations has taken with regard to the alleged violations of the laws of war on either side is set out in the following documents:
These documents, which are being communicated to all the Members of the League, are somewhat lengthy, and I will arrange for copies to be placed in the Library of the House as soon as they are available. I may say, however, that the latest development in the consideration of these matters is that the Committee of Thirteen has addressed several communications, including an analysis of the documentary material which is before it, to the Italian and Ethiopian Governments, and to certain other Governments who are believed to be in possession of information which might assist the Committee. An attempt, so far unsuccessful, has also been made to obtain certain information from the International Red Cross Committee. The Committee of Thirteen state in their report of 18th April that the Governments, as also the two Governments sepecially concerned, have thus an opportunity to furnish the Secretary-General with any information and observations which might allow the Committee to complete the analysis of the documentary material that the Committee of Jurists have made, and to decide what further steps it might appear proper to take. As regards in particular the alleged use of poison gas, I may say that while it is impossible to summarise, within the limits of this reply, the communications which have passed, the Committee of Thirteen have expressed to the Italian Government their opinion that the use of such gases cannot be justified as a punishment for the military atrocities alleged by that Government to have been committed by its adversary.
- 1. A report to the Committee of Thirteen by its Chairman, dated 4th April, with annexes;
- 2. A report to the Council by the Committee of Thirteen, dated 18th April, with annexes;
- 3. The resolution accepted on 20th April by the Members of the Council other than Italy.
§ Mr. MANDER
Can the right hon. Gentleman say upon what grounds the International Red Cross is unwilling to co-operate with the League of Nations in this matter?
§ Mr. THURTLE
Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that there already exists sufficient documentary and other evidence to make it quite clear that Italy has used poison gas against the Abyssinians?
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when we were fighting in East Africa during the War, the English Government refused to allow the use either of poison gas or bombs, because it was unfair to the natives and to the Germans in that Colony?
§ 2. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any satisfaction from the Italian Government regarding the bombing of a British Red Cross unit?
§ Mr. EDEN
His Majesty's Government have within the last few days issued as a White Paper the correspondence lately exchanged between His Majesty's Government and the Italian Government on the subject of the bombing of British Red 137 Cross Ambulance No. 1 in Ethiopia. Copies of this White Paper are available in the Vote Office, and the hon. and gallant Member will find the position clearly set forth therein.