HC Deb 27 July 1936 vol 315 cc1115-224

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £117,736, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

4.3 p.m.


A fortnight again the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) approached us through the usual channels and suggested that the moment might be appropriate for a discussion of the international situation. At that time and in view of the situation as it then was I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would be good enough not to press for that Debate until after the meeting of the Locarno Powers, or certain of the Powers, which we then hoped might be held. I would like, on behalf of the Government, to express our gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for falling in with that suggestion, which has certainly contributed to assist us in the task with which we were confronted. At the same time it is clearly appropriate that now, after the meeting to which I have referred and a few days before the Adjournment of Parliament for the Summer Recess, some survey should be made of the international situation and as much information as possible given to the Committee by Government spokesmen.

I must confess that in the course of what I shall have to say this afternoon I shall be compelled to deal with a large number of subjects. That is unfortunately inevitable because the troubles of the world, as we have too much reason to know, are not confined to one or two countries alone. With that preliminary apology I would like to start by dealing with what I am sure the Committee will agree is probably the most important aspect of the international situation which now confronts us. I have in mind, in saying that, the projected meeting of the five Locarno Powers. The Committee will remember that ever since the German reoccupation of the Rhineland last March it has been the consistent effort of the Government to seek to set on foot negotiations in order to restore the situation. We have consistently sought to rebuild, for it seemed to us, admittedly difficult as the situation then was, that it was our plain duty to attempt to create out of the era of difficulty an era of opportunity.

It was in that spirit that we worked throughout the period of the London Conference in March, and in that spirit we agreed to the arrangements of 19th March. It was in that some spirit that we addressed certain questions to the German Government. Those questions were neither acrimonious nor inquisitive. They represented an honest endeavour to facilitate progress. Had they received an early and constructive reply we should have saved much time. It was in that same spirit that we contemplated at Geneva, during the Assembly of last month, the possibility of a further meeting of the Locarno Powers who had agreed to the London arrangements of 19th March. But it was clear to us that if a meeting of a number of, not of all, the signatories to the Locarno Treaty was to have the constructive outcome which we sought, and which we were glad to note in our preliminary conversations at Geneva the French and Belgian Government also sought, then the agenda for the meeting for the three, compared with the agenda for the five, would have to be limited. This was necessary so that its purpose might nowhere be misunderstood, and so that it might clearly serve as a first step towards the subsequent meeting of all the Locarno signatories.

I think the outcome of the brief meeting in London will show to the Committee how completely the constructive objective which we had in view was realised. Nor, I am sure, will our guests of last week misunderstand British hospitality if I say that that meeting was all the better for being brief. That this result should have been possible was mainly due to the far-seeing statesmanship and the generous collaboration shown by the French and Belgian Ministers, and I am glad in this Committee to have the opportunity of paying that tribute. The communiqué which we issued at the end of our deliberations shows that we now look definitely to the future and do not confine ourselves to the past. I must emphasise to the Committee that this view was shared by all at this meeting, and I am convinced that the desire to agree upon a new Locarno, the desire to reach a European settlement, is as keenly felt by the French and Belgian Ministers as it is by ourselves.

Having reached this agreement we felt it important to lose no time in giving knowledge of it to the other two Powers most directly concerned who were not there, and on the very evening of our meeting, before even the text of our communiqué had been made public, the representatives of the three Powers, France, Belgium and ourselves, in Berlin and in Rome, were instructed to communicate these conclusions to the German and Italian Governments, and in doing so to express the hope that those Governments would participate in the Five-Power Conference of which the date and place would then be fixed by common agreement between all five of them. On the day following the issue of the communiqué I asked both the German and the Italian Chargés d'Affaires to come and see me, when I explained to them the scope and the purpose of the communiqué and expressed to them the hope that their respective Governments would be able to return a favourable answer to the invitation conveyed therein. I would add that previous to the actual meeting in London we had been at pains to keep the German and Italian representatives informed of what was in contemplation.

There, for the moment, the matter rests. The Government hope, and I am sure every Member of the Committee hopes, that we may receive a favourable answer from these two Governments. As to the future I must, however, add one word of warning. A preliminary stage, an important one, has been completed, but still it is only a preliminary stage. The preface is, I hope, well conceived; the chapters still remain to be written. If our invitations are accepted then there should be an agreement in general terms on our objectives. But the methods of realising them will still require much study and consultation. Much work through the diplomatic channel will be called for before the meeting of the Five Powers can take place. Many obstacles yet remain to be surmounted. But I think that the gain of the last two days really consists in this: We have now reached a stage when, if a real spirit of collaboration exists among all concerned, we should be able to surmount the obstacles that confront us.

That is all I wish to say on that subject for the moment. I would like to turn to give the Committee some information about another meeting of the Powers, a meeting which took place at Montreux a short while ago. It is unnecessary for me to give the Committee any detailed account of the provisions of the new Convention regarding the regime of the Straits, because I understand that that document has now been laid before the House. The results of the Conference can, in the view of the Government, be regarded as extremely satisfactory. The experience of this Conference at Montreux embodies many lessons, but I think the Committee will agree that the most important of those lessons is this: From the point of view of general European politics the Conference has shown that treaty revision by negotiation and agreement, in accordance with the normal procedure and the normal principles of international relations and practice, can lead to a settlement more favourable to all concerned than the method of repudiation or the method of the modification of treaty engagements by unilateral action.

The Montreux Conference has, in fact, furnished a valuable example to Europe of the progress which can be made by peaceful and legal methods of treaty revision, and there can be no doubt that the results achieved, from every point of view, and not least, let the Committee mark, from the point of view of Turkey herself, have been infinitely more satisfactory than would have been the case had Turkey attempted to take the law into her own hands. But from the particular point of view also the agreement reached at Montreux is one with which we have no cause to be dissatisfied. Turkey has re-established her claim to be able to fortify the Straits, but at the same time the general principles of freedom of passage through the Straits in time of peace and of the free and international character of the Black Sea have been reasserted and maintained. His Majesty's Government were anxious to obtain the maximum amount of freedom of passage through the Straits, both for merchant ships and for warships, and to preserve, as far as was possible and as has almost invariably been our objective, the character of the Straits as an international waterway. While we recognised that, for geographical reasons, there must be a greater measure of freedom of passage for some countries than for others, we attached great importance to maintaining the principle that there should be no undue discrimination between the treatment accorded to Black Sea and non-Black Sea Powers, and on this point we were able to obtain acceptable conditions.

I must refer to one question which led to considerable difficulty during the Conference, and that was the conditions which should govern the passage of warships through the Straits in time of war if Turkey were neutral. At first, proposals were put forward which would have had the effect of leaving complete freedom of passage to Black Sea belligerents while closing the Straits to any non-Black Sea belligerent fleet coming from outside into the Black Sea. His Majesty's Government saw strong objection to any such discrimination, and in the solution eventually adopted it will be noted that no difference of treatment is laid down as between Black Sea and non-Black Sea belligerent Powers. A point of even more importance was the attempt which was made at one time, to lay on Turkey an obligation, when she herself was neutral, to discriminate between two belligerents in virtue of an agreement or pact to which she, Turkey, was not herself a party. It was eventually found possible to obtain the abandonment of this proposal, the objections to which will be quite obvious to the Committee without my elaborating them, and it will be seen that Turkey is only entitled to discriminate between two belligerents in cases arising out of the application of the Covenant, or treaties of mutual assistance concluded within the framework of the Covenant and registered at Geneva, to which Turkey is herself a party. The exception connected with rights and obligations under the Covenant, I must make clear because there have been some questions asked by hon. Members opposite on it, was one which we ourselves were anxious to see embodied and was, in point of fact, in our original draft.

Meanwhile, the Clauses of the new Convention which deal with the passage of merchant ships are in several ways, notably as regards the amount and methods of collection of dues and charges, more satisfactory than those of the old Convention. I am glad to be able to tell the Committee that a satisfactory agreement has also been reached on another complicated matter, the passage by air between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean and between Europe and Asia, and that, notwithstanding the fact that Turkey is not yet a party to the International Air Convention.

I think the Committee will agree that that very brief summary is a record of a successful Conference, but before I leave the subject there is one other matter to which I want to refer. It is not directly concerned with the re-militarisation of the Straits, but it is of deep and intimate concern to the people of this country, and I must briefly refer to it—the future of our war graves on the Gallipoli Peninsula. In this connection I am happy to be able to tell the Committee that the Turkish Government have volunteered the most complete and satisfactory assurances. The text of those assurances is being made public in the White Paper, but I feel that the Committee would wish me to take this opportunity to thank the Turkish Government, not only for the terms of their assurances, but for the spirit in which they were given. The effect of the Conference has undoubtedly been to bring about a closer and more cordial understanding between His Majesty's Government and the Turkish Government, and that is a tendency which we welcome all the more in view of the very friendly relations which now exist between our countries.

I should like to take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the Turkish Foreign Minister and the Turkish Delegation for the tact and understanding with which they have handled this matter, and I think the Committee will agree that we must all be grateful to the First Commissioner of Works and to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty for the skill with which they have steered these very difficult and delicate questions to a successful conclusion. One other tribute I would like to pay on the subject, and that is to the eminent services of Mr. Bruce, the High Commissioner for Australia, who, by his presidency of this Conference, has added one more obligation to the many which the comity of nations already owe to him. That is all for the moment that I wish to say about Montreux.

I will turn to another aspect of Mediterranean affairs, in which there are also signs of a definite improvement in international relations. I would remind the Committee that on the occasion of our foreign affairs Debate on 18th June I referred to certain assurances which His Majesty's Government had given to certain Mediterranean Powers in connection with the imposition of sanctions, and I added this: It is the view of the Government that this assurance given by this country should not end with the raising of sanctions, but should continue to cover the period of uncertainty which must necessarily follow any termination of action under Article 16."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1936; col. 1206, Vol. 313.] Subsequently, on the withdrawal of sanctions, as I had undertaken to the House, I made a similar statement to the Assembly of the League. Happily, there are specific grounds for affirming that the position of uncertainty to which I then referred has now been brought to an end, and I will tell the Committee why that is. About the middle of this month the Italian Government made to the Governments of Yugoslavia, Greece, and Turkey a spontaneous declaration. The substance of these messages has since been communicated to me in London by the Italian Chargé d'Affaires. From this communication it emerges clearly that the Italian Government have themselves approached the Turkish, Yugoslav, and Greek Governments and have given to each of those three Governments the most clear assurances that Italy has never contemplated, nor is contemplating, any aggressive action against any of them in retaliation for their past sanctionist policy. In expressing these views, the Italian representatives in each of these three capitals have also emphasised that Italy considers the sanctions chapter as being definitely and completely over, and that she looks confidently forward towards a new period of mutual co-operation among all nations. The Italian Government have also recalled that between Italy and Greece and between Italy and Turkey treaties of friendship are in existence with which Italy has never failed to comply and which the Italian Government intend fully to respect, and with Yugoslavia Italy intends no less to develop the same good relations which she enjoys with Turkey and Greece.

I hope the Committee will agree that the information which I have just given, and which, I must remind the Committee, was specifically given to me by the Italian Chargé d'Affaires in a memorandum, fully justifies the conclusion that the circumstances which, in the view of His Majesty's Government, had made it desirable to give these assurances no longer exist. I am, therefore, glad to be able to recognise and to declare that in the view of His Majesty's Government there is now no further need for the continuance of these assurances.


Have they made assurances to this country?


They were unilateral assurances.


Will there be a vote of thanks to Mussolini?


If hon. Gentlemen had had to stand in my place, they would have been grateful for anything of this nature. I now turn to another country in the Mediterranean with whom we have long had, and still have, very friendly relations and in regard to which also I am glad to be able to report some progress to the Committee. As hon. Members will have seen from the Press, the first stage in the Treaty discussions with Egypt has been concluded, and Articles dealing with military matters were initialled by the heads of the British and Egyptian delegations on 24th July. I should like to express the Government's satisfaction with this development, and I hope that the progress achieved and the friendly manner in which the talks on these Articles have proceeded will pave the way for an early and sound settlement of the important points of a different nature which still remain to be discussed. I would like to emphasise that, as it had been agreed between the two Governments in the negotiations from the very beginning that the Treaty should be regarded as an interdependent whole, any agreement which is reached upon any Article or set of Articles is dependent upon agreement being reached on all the matters to be dealt with in the Treaty. I would, therefore, ask the Committee if I might not to press me for details in respect of what has just been provisionally agreed, and I would suggest that unofficial statements purporting to set out the points of the Articles just initialled should be accepted with the greatest caution. I must also give the Committee this specific assurance, that should an agreement be reached, it will not be ratified until there has been an opportunity for it to be fully debated in this House.

I now turn, in a geographical sense, to Spain. I would wish first to express the deep regret with which His Majesty's Government and all of us, whatever our political views, have received the news of the unhappy situation which has developed in Spain. There are certain remarkable features of this revolt. One of them is the suddenness with which it has spread to all parts of the country, and the other is the rapidity with which communications within Spain and from Spain to other countries were cut. Sharp and, I am afraid, very bitter fighting is still going on, and it is not possible to forecast what its outcome may be. As soon as the first news reached London, arrangements were immediately made to send warships to the assistance of British communities in places where danger to such communities appeared to be imminent. In the course of last week His Majesty's ships visited every large port in Spain as well as a large number of smaller coast towns. A considerable number of British subjects preferred to remain in Spain to protect their business interests, but large numbers have been evacuated, including several hundreds from Barcelona and San Sebastian, over 100 each from Huelva, Palma and Malaga and 50 from Seville. I think that the Committee would wish to express their appreciation of the work done by His Majesty's ships in this connection—and that work is being done not only for British subjects, but for others also.

While these measures were being taken to assist British subjects who were within reach of the coast, a more serious problem, which was raised in several questions to-day, was that of communication with the interior of the country, and in particular with Madrid where there is a large British colony. His Majesty's Ambassador and his staff were at the time of the outbreak in San Sebastian, together with most of the other foreign missions, and many Spanish Ministers, because as the Committee is probably aware that they move to San Sebastian at this time of the year. For the greater part of last week our telegraphic communications both with San Sebastian and Madrid were cut, but it is at present possible to communicate with both these places. It has not been possible to evacuate the large number of British subjects from Madrid owing to the interruption of communications by rail and road, but the British Vice-Consul has made arrangements for the accommodation of British subjects in our Embassy and, according to my latest information, there are well over 100 persons in that building at present. In view of the situation which I have just described, and of the difficulties of communicating with our own representative I thought it my duty on Saturday to telegraph direct to the Spanish Foreign Minister—and I did so—in the matter of the protection of British subjects in Madrid itself.

I should like to add only this about the situation. According to the latest news we have had, the foreign missions in Madrid jointly approached the Spanish Government on Saturday through the Chilean representative, who is the doyen of the Diplomatic Corps. I am happy to say that the Spanish Government have accepted all the points put to them within the limits of their capacity. The local situation in Madrid at the time this message was sent was quiet, and the Diplomatic Corps were in communication with the Spanish authorities as regards arrangements being made for a convoy to take foreigners from Madrid to Valencia. Whether it has been possible to carry that suggestion through I have no information.


I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary whether the reports that have appeared in some of the French papers—I think they were repeated in some of ours yesterday, and certainly to-day—that His Majesty's Government have addressed an appeal to the French Government that they should not allow arms to be sold to the Spanish Government are accurate; in view of the fact that the Spanish Government was only elected two or three months ago at an election which was declared not by a Government of the Left, but by a Government of the Right?


I can answer the right hon. Gentleman quite definitely; we have addressed no such communication to the French Government.


Have His Majesty's Government any attitude whatever towards the situation in Spain?


Of course we have an attitude. We are pursuing the normal attitude which a Government would pursue in a situation such as this and I am not prepared to depart from that normal attitude.


Has the right hon. Gentleman received any representation from the Spanish Embassy with regard to the import of arms supplied by Italy through Portugal?


No, not as far as I am aware. May I turn to another part of Europe where the situation is not altogether free from anxiety. I refer to Danzig. The Free City of Danzig has a unique status in the modern world. That status, I must make plain, is not due to the action of the present Government of this country or to that of any of its immediate predecessors; it derives from a more distant past, from the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. I am not criticising them. Under the provisions of that treaty the Free City of Danzig was placed under the protection of the League of Nations, and its constitution was guaranteed by the League of Nations. The Danzig constitution which the League has thus an obligation to guarantee contains provisions assuring to the citizens of that city certain political liberties which are, shall we say, more extensive than those obtaining in many countries of Europe at the present time. There have been frequent complaints during recent years from the opposition parties in Danzig that their constitutional rights have not been respected by the Danzig Government.

At the beginning of July, at the meeting of the League Council, a report was received from the League High Commissioner in Danzig on recent events in that city, and it was considered by the Council. The representative of Poland undertook to take certain action and to report to the Council at its next meeting on the results of the action. The Committee will agree that that was a perfectly proper arrangement in view of Poland's special connection with this matter. It was further decided to appoint two additional members, the representatives of France and Portugal, to assist the rapporteur, who is the representative of the United Kingdom, in dealing with the Danzig question. The position now is, therefore, that a report from the Polish Government is expected to come before the next meeting of the Council. In the meanwhile, the Danzig Government have issued certain new decrees, the general substance of which has appeared in the Press. The course will be in the first instance for the League High Commissioner at Danzig, if he thinks fit, to submit a report to the League with regard to these decrees, and pending the receipt of such a report I am unable to offer any detailed observations on the subject.


Has there been any protest from Poland?


I imagine that the Polish Government will, like other members of the League, wait for the report of the High Commissioner. Perhaps I may be allowed to take this opportunity to explain a certain piece of League machinery so that it will be quite clear why the British representative at Geneva has to take such a prominent part in the discussions on Danzig questions. The reason is simple. In order to facilitate our work before the Council, it is customary to charge one member of the Council with reporting on each of the questions before them. For many years, under successive Foreign Secretaries, the duty of handling Danzig questions has been assigned to and accepted by the representative of this country. It is not, I beg the Committee to believe, that either I or any one of my predecessors has sought or particularly desired to be associated with this subject. On the contrary, the functions of rapporteur have often in the past caused a great deal of work to the Foreign Secretary of this country, who has many other preoccupations, but we have done this in order to fulfil our duty as a member of the Council. I think that I am entitled to add, in view of expressions of opinion in certain quarters, that in the discharge of this arduous and often ungrateful task I and my predecessors have had this sole objective constantly before us, namely, to try and assist, so far as lay in our power, in the smooth working of the machinery which has been set up and in a friendly solution of the problems which come before us from time to time.

I do not want to leave this subject without saying a word about the position of the League High Commissioner In Danzig. The Council has frequently made it clear that, in its view, Mr. Lester has carried out the duties of a most difficult post in an admirable manner. He has earned, and he deserves, the complete confidence of the Council of the League. Whatever may be the political opinions about the existence or the functions of his post, I feel sure that all sections of opinion in this Committee will agree that he is entitled to courteous and considerate treatment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to hear those cheers because I hope they make it clear that all sections of opinion in this country sympathise with the difficulties of an Irishman carrying out an anxious task.

I turn to the question of the reform of the League of Nations. During the recent meeting of the Council and of the Assembly last month, frequent references were made, both in speeches and in private conversations, to the need for a review of the working of the Covenant in the light of the experience gained in the last few months in applying Article 16. The Assembly itself came to certain conclusions, which were published, that members of the League should be invited to send in their views, if possible before 1st September, and that the subject should be discussed at our next normal meeting in September. His Majesty's Government in those circumstances are at present considering with all due care and a full sense of responsibility the answer that they must send in reply to this invitation. Hon. Members who were here at Question Time will agree that it is unnecessary for me to emphasise either the importance or the complexity or the delicacy of the issue before us. Any decision which members of the League may come to in the next three or four months will largely determine the role to be played by the League in the critical years that face us.

There are, however, one or two considerations which I should like to put before the Committee before we adjourn in an endeavour to place the matter in its proper perspective. I think I am revealing no secrets if I say that at our last meeting at Geneva during the Assembly, a considerable divergence of opinion revealed itself among the members of the League, even as to the procedure which is to be followed. There were some members who took the view that any changes which were made, or discussion of any changes, even, should be confined to possible changes of three Articles, security articles I may call them, Articles 10, 11 and 16, and that the changes should not extend to Article 19, for instance, which has quite another kind of reference. That was what one set of people wished. Another set of nations, wished in no circumstances to limit the discussion which the Assembly might have when it met in September. Those were the two views on procedure. There were also fundamental differences as to the future of the League itself.

I think it is clear from that, and also clear from the correspondence we have seen in the Press and the wide divergence of views expressed in this House, that there is a difference of opinion also among our own people in the same way as there is among foreign nations. I should like to put to this Committee the two extremes. At one extreme are those who say they would like to see the Covenant shorn of what I may call its coercive or repressive provisions, who think that members of the League should be under no Covenant obligation, for example, even to withhold supplies of any kind from an aggressor or covenant breaker, or to discriminate actively in any way between an aggressor and the victim of the aggression still less to take military action. That is one extreme.


What nations hold that view?


I would rather not answer. At the other extreme are those who say they would like the obligation to render military assistance to the victim of aggression to be universal and automatic. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I confess that it is news to me to hear those cheers from the benches opposite. I did not know that it was the view of hon. Members opposite that the obligation to take military action should be universal and automatic. I think hon. Members opposite must have been precipitate. But there is such a school, and it is the other extreme of that which I first described. I can assure the Committee that, whatever the final view of His Majesty's Government may be, they are not in favour of either of the two extreme courses to which I have made allusion. Between those two there is an almost infinite gradation of opinion.

In view of that situation both at home and abroad I do not think the Committee will quarrel with me if, at this moment, I say it would be premature for us to make a detailed public statement, more particularly since we are not asked, even by the procedure of the League, to make one before September. I go further, and I say that to do so now would not be in the interests of the international agreement which we wish to reach on this subject when we get to Geneva. Most important of all in this connection, I would ask the Committee to realise that we are not dealing in this matter of the future of the League only with an ideal, but also with a practical question, and that at this moment, when we are making attempts—in which, I may say, we have made some small progress—towards the settlement of those questions which to-day confront Europe, the relation of these two problems, that in connection with Locarno and this question which I have just discussed must not be lost sight of, because our objective in dealing with both of them must be to widen and to strengthen the basis of international collaboration.


I am sorry to intervene again, but surely it is very important that we should hear from the Government a general outline of their views. This matter is going to be discussed, and it is a matter upon which the whole life of the League depends. It is very important that the House of Commons, before it separates, should know what is the general attitude of His Majesty's Government towards these questions; not in minor details but there are questions of principle; for instance their attitude towards the coercive part of the League—I do not mean merely war, there are other methods. The Government cannot go there in September and express no views at all. After all, they represent the British Empire, the greatest Power in the League, and I do hope that we shall know before we separate what it is that the Government mean to propose when they get there.


No, Sir, I cannot possibly say. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give a lead."] Certainly not. Can we be sure that if the object we have at heart is to secure agreement we shall best do that by giving a lead beforehand, taking up a position when we see already two camps where positions have been taken up? [Interruption.] Of course we do not speak for the British Empire. There is the position of the Dominions to be considered also. I should be making the gravest possible mistake if I were to attempt at this time rigidly to define our position. If hon. Members will do me the honour of reading the two extremes as I put them this afternoon, and will see what I have said in respect of both of them, they will be able to appreciate much in His Majesty's Government's position, but I am not prepared to go beyond that point at present, because I am sure that to do so would not only prejudice September but might also prejudice the meeting we were discussing earlier this afternoon.




There will be plenty of opportunity for hon. Members. I do not think I have been unreasonable to the Committee.


The Committee have not been unreasonable to you.


You have merely been inadequate, as usual.


If the hon. Member had had the responsibility which the Government have had to bear for some time past he would realise my position. I wish to speak on another subject on which many questions have been addressed to the Government, and that is their attitude in respect to the transference of territories at present held by them under Mandate. I should like, first, to revert for a moment to a subject which has of late grown up, as it were, alongside this question, and that is whether any arrangements are necessary or desirable for giving foreign countries freer access to such raw materials as are produced in the Mandated Territories and in the Colonies. This is a matter which has frequently been raised in debate by hon. Members in all parts of the House and the Government fully realise its importance. They are alive to the interest which is displayed in many quarters in these matters, and are fully prepared and will be glad to discuss the subject at some international conference under the auspices of the League of Nations. At such a conference they would, for their part, be entirely ready to discuss such problems as wider guarantees for access to Colonial raw materials and obstacles in the path of such access. An approach to this matter might well be made, in our view, at the forthcoming meeting of the Assembly in September.

Having expressed that view, which I hope will command general acceptance, I return to the question of whether an actual transfer of territory held by them under mandate is contemplated by the Government. Let me make it clear that this question is one which affects, of course, all Mandatory Powers—the United Kingdom, the Dominion Governments and foreign Governments. The Government have not had any consultation with them upon it, but, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, the question of any transfer of Mandated Territories would inevitably raise grave difficulties, moral, political and legal, of which His Majesty's Government must frankly say that they have been unable to find any solution. His Majesty's Government therefore hope that, with so many other international questions still unsolved, but with new opportunity of advance towards their settlement having been afforded during the last few days, there will in no quarter be the desire at this time to introduce further cause of serious differences between the nations.

Now I turn to certain references made in the course of the last Debate on foreign affairs, to which I did not have in the circumstances the opportunity to reply. On that occasion, the Committee will remember, I announced the views of His Majesty's Government on the subject of the continuation of sanctions, and that expression of opinion brought us at the time much criticism and no little abuse. We were accused of cowardice, of having betrayed the League, and so forth. I think it must, however, be clear by now to all members of the Committee that the conclusion to which the Government had come and which I announced in the course of that Debate had also been come to about the same time, eleven sooner, and for precisely similar reasons, by almost all other members of the League, including some in whom hon. Members opposite appear to repose more confidence than they do in His Majesty's Government. In this connection I should like to draw attention to certain observations made by other Governments at the meeting of the Assembly which were not all published in the British Press, and I do so not, I assure the Committee, in a purely controversial spirit, but because in this international question I think it is fair that the Committee should view the international aspect. First I will take a letter which was addressed to the Council by the Foreign Minister of Poland. This is what he said: The members of the League undertook to take joint action with a view to stopping hostilities, and with the hope that the dispute would be settled by pacific means. In view of the most recent developments, we are obliged to recognise that our joint efforts met with collective failure. The measures we took did not achieve their aim, having, in the present case, proved to be inoperative, and have become useless. If, nevertheless, these sanctions were maintained, they would, in the opinion of the Polish Government, assume the character of punitive measures, and this would be going beyond the spirit of Article 16 of the Covenant. All these considerations have, for some time past, led the Polish Government to think that the Measures which have been taken have no further object. That was dated 26th June. Now I come to a speech which will influence hon. Members opposite more than one by the Foreign Secretary of Poland; I refer to the Foreign Secretary of Soviet Russia. This is what M. Litvinoff said, in a very frank speech.


He is always frank. That is more than you are.


He said: Sooner that might have been expected, the moment came when the necessity for reconsidering the measures adopted at Geneva, from the angle of serving any useful purpose, became absolutely clear. That moment was when the resistance of the gallant Ethiopian troops was broken and when the Emperor and Government of Ethiopia left their country, and when a considerable portion of their territory was occupied by the Italian Army. It appeared then indubitable that, by the economic sanctions alone, it was impossible to drive the Italian Army out of Ethiopia and restore the independence of that country, and that such an objective could only be obtained by more serious sanctions, including those of a military nature. Such measures could only be considered if one or several States could be found which, in virtue of their geographical position or special interests, would agree to bear the main brunt of a military encounter. Such States are not to be found among us. I think the Committee will agree that that is precisely the argument which I am now putting forward. M. Litvinoff goes on: I came to the conclusion even during the May Session of the Council of the League, that the further application of economic sanctions was useless, and that it was impossible to afford any practical aid to Ethiopia in that way. It seems that this conclusion was reached by nearly all the members of the League. I have other quotations, but I think the Committee will fairly appreciate from that argument that the conclusion to which His Majesty's Government have come, that, after the Emperor's departure, no action save military action from outside, could have been of avail, had been arrived at at virtually the same time or sooner, by almost all the other members of the League in possession of the full facts of the situation.

I want to turn to one other observation made during the last Debate on the Foreign Office Vote, because it has had more than a temporary significance, and that is the observation then made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). There was one sentence in his speech which, he will not be surprised to learn, aroused exceptional interest both in this country and abroad. He said: There is one thing the people of this country have made up their minds definitely about. Whatever Government is in power they will never go to war again for an Austrian quarrel."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1936; col. 1228, Vol. 313.] It was no doubt difficult for Members of the Committee at that time to appreciate what were the reasons for the distinction which the right hon. Gentleman was then drawing between Abyssinia and Austria. The right hon. Gentleman wished to confine the distinction to sanctions.


The right hon. Gentleman is referring to something which I have said. I said and I still say, and when I come to explain my views in regard to the amendment of the League I shall be still of that opinion, that you will not get this country to go to war in respect of any quarrel in that part of the world. Sanctions I put in a different category—in a totally different category. I never said, and I do not say now, that if there is a quarrel in another part of Europe other than Western Europe, where we have definite engagements, you will not have economic and other sanctions and that we will not join in them. I draw a complete distinction. That is the line upon which we ought to proceed in connection with the League.


Will the right hon. Gentleman also remember the statement which he made. The implications of that statement were noted not only here but abroad. If the Committee were astonished, as I was, at what the right hon. Gentleman said then, and the distinction he appeared to draw, they would be all the more astonished if they stopped for a moment to consider this point: whereas the frontiers of Ethiopia were somewhat vague and uncertain, the frontiers of Austria were drawn by the right hon. Gentleman himself.


I never suggested war.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will develop that point later. I am anxious that the Committee should realise that the right hon. Gentleman's generalisation, like most generalisations, is dangerously misleading. In his desire to dramatise, the right hon. Gentleman has over-simplified. I say in his presence that it was not simply an Austrian quarrel which involved us in war in 1914; it was an Austrian quarrel that became an invasion of Belgium. Therein lies the problem which confronts us in the international situation. It is a fact that we have undertaken certain obligations in respect of certain parts of Europe, obligations which we will fulfil; it is also a fact that we had not made our position clear in 1914 in that respect, as we have made it clear now. The fact that we have certain obligations in certain parts of Europe—I say this for the Government—does not mean that we disinterest ourselves to-day from what happens in the rest of Europe. Is there indeed a conflict in Europe that can be localised? If the flames are lit, will they not spread, and is not, therefore, the peace of all Europe the concern of all Europe?

Here I come to the other side of our problem. Every country in Europe will not fight for each country in Europe, and there, in an antithesis, is the extent of our present problem. In my view, and I think that is the view which hon. Gentlemen were trying to express just now, if every nation in Europe, and better still every nation in the world, would give an undertaking which it would carry out, to go to the help of any victim of aggression, not only by economic and financial sanctions but by military sanctions, our problem would, I believe, in a very considerable measure, be resolved, more particularly if you accompanied that, as the authors of the covenant intended you should accompany it, under Article 8, by some limitation and reduction of armaments; but, and that is our difficulty, that is not the reality with which we are confronted. Every nation, even those, like our French friends, who have most upheld the rigid enforcement of Article 16, has now come to realise that every nation is not prepared to go to war for each nation. That ideal is at present unattainable, and suggestions for reform of the League put forward by the French Government or anyone else all take account of that fact.

Therefore, I submit to the Committee, it is the task of statesmanship, a very difficult task, basing itself upon the realities of that situation, to try to seek to improve it. It is not an unfair commentary on the extent of our problem that M. Litvinoff made, if I may quote him again, in his speech at the Assembly in Geneva, when he told us that 25 per cent. of the Members of the League had not wholly carried out even the sanctions that were imposed. I mention that in no spirit of criticism, but merely to show the extent of our problem.

Before I conclude, may I say a word to hon. Members opposite on the subject of armaments in relation to foreign policy, referred to in their declaration last Friday. A few days ago, some hon. Gentlemen opposite took exception to some words which fell from my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, in a speech which I think he made at Southampton, in reference to the effect upon foreign opinion of British rearmament and their attitude towards it. It is true—I make hon. Members opposite a present of this point—that if they ask me whether representatives of foreign countries have been down to the Foreign Office to express on behalf of their Governments their official approval of our rearmament policy, quite obviously the answer is "No"; but there is no need for Ambassadors to speak officially, or even for Governments to speak, in order that hon. Members on the other side, wherever they may sit, may find out for themselves what is the opinion of foreign countries on the question of our re-armament. Let them ask, if they will, their own friends in some of the smaller countries in Europe; let them consult the files of the Press in those few countries where the Press is still free. They will find what the small countries of Europe, and virtually all the remaining democratic countries in the world, think of British rearmament. They approve of it. Why? The answer is simple; because they know perfectly well that our armaments will never be used in a war of aggression. They are perfectly right in their assumption. I would ask the Committee to take note of this: Our armaments, for which we are asking, will, in fact, never be used for a purpose inconsistent with the Covenant of the League or the Pact of Paris. They will not. That is the undertaking. They might, and, if the occasion arose, they would be, used in self-defence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to find that all sections of the Committee approve that statement.


Hands up for that, mate.


That is a purpose perfectly proper, under the terms of the Covenant of the League and the Pact of Paris.


Too ambiguous. The defence of Europe or the defence of ourselves? What is happening in Spain?


They may be used in going to the help of a victim of aggression. In those conditions, do hon. Members really believe that the cause of peace will be furthered, in a rapidly rearming world, by voting against the rearmament of this country? I know quite well the official explanation which has been given, but I would say to hon. Members opposite: If you vote "No," you ought to mean "No." I would ask hon. Members to recognise—I admit that this is the Foreign Office point of view—how foreign countries are likely to interpret that vote, or, if you like, to misinterpret it. Non-parliamentary countries will not understand the explanation, and the perfectly legitimate Parliamentary manoeuvre which is involved in the explanation. What they will think is that there is a deep division of opinion in this country on whether we should arm to defend ourselves; in other words, they will think that there is a deep division on the very subject on which we have just secured complete unanimity. I would ask the Committee to believe that I am very much in earnest on this subject, because I am convinced that there is a danger of misunderstanding, and it is purely in order to avoid that happening, and in order that an opinion should not go out from this Committee which is a wrong opinion, that I venture to make this appeal to hon. Members opposite.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the Committee, is the rearmament policy of the Government for the purpose of self-defence, as he has just indicated, or is it for the purpose of and consistent with collective security?


The two things are perfectly consistent with one another. Surely, they must be. If they are not consistent, the only argument is that you must go and help any other victim of aggression but you must not help yourselves. I know perfectly well that the hon. Member does not mean that, and that is why I say that the two propositions are perfectly consistent.


The right hon. Gentleman challenged Members on this side of the House by saying that the object of the Government's rearmament policy was for the purpose of our own defence. There are some of us on this side of the House who are prepared to defend this country—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—hon. Members on the other side have no greater record than some of us on this side. What we want made plain is whether the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that, so far as his Government is concerned, the armed forces of this country will only be used under and for the purposes of the Covenant, because, if that be so, it would cover any attack by any other country on this country.


I have already said quite clearly that these armaments will not be used for any purpose inconsistent with the Covenant and inconsistent with the Pact of Paris. If the hon. Member will do me the honour of examining my speech carefully, he will find that I have fully met the point which he has in mind. My sole anxiety is that there should not appear to be a division of opinion at home which I am sure does not exist.

It will clearly remain the duty of the Government, and this undertaking I wish to give also, to seize any opportunity that may offer of further agreement on limitation of armaments. It is possible that an opportunity for that may come sooner than some people think, for the pressure on the economy of nations of the present very heavy burden of armaments is extremely severe, and a moment may arrive when a realisation of that comes to be accepted in many quarters where it might be ridiculed at the present time. At any rate, for the moment I can say that I am sure we are not furthering the cause of peace, nor even the cause of armaments agreement, by blindly refusing to take note of events in the present troubled world.

I have sought to survey the international field and to give to the Committee some impression of the problems with which the Government, and more particularly we at the Foreign Office, are confronted to-day. Even so, long as I have spoken, I have not exhausted the sources of pre-occupation with which we are confronted at the present time. In presenting this picture, I have tried to show that the Government have pursued, lately, I think, with some small measure of success, a considerable objective, which is the maintenance of peace—an objective which is keenly shared and keenly held by Members in every part of the House. If in what I have said, more particularly with respect to the armaments programme, I have been able to do anything at all to promote national unity in these matters, I shall be well content. We live in a Europe suffering from an almost total eclipse of liberal opinion—spelling "liberal" with a small "1"—a Europe where there is a tendency for extremes to rule, extremes with which no section of opinion in this House can feel sympathy. We in this country have a free Press and a free opinion. There are liberties which we mean to maintain, but they carry with them their responsibilities of justice, of judgment, and of restraint. In a world where both those liberties and those responsibilities are rare, the democracies must find their unity if they are to survive and to hand on to other generations the liberties of which they have been proud.

5.23 p.m.


I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.

I have never failed to pay my tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for the elevation of his sentiments, the persuasiveness of his advocacy, and the form and manner of his speeches, even when I have disagreed fundamentally with their matter; but to-day let me say at once that he has gone some way to convince me that he is on the right lines. I might, perhaps, have held more definite language if his references to the reform of the League had been more precise and illuminating, but that part of his speech which gave me most satisfaction was his exposition of his plans for dealing with the situation which has been created in Europe by what is somewhat euphemistically described in the communiqué issued by his Department as the German initiative of last March. I was glad he took the line that he did, because it showed that he was not prepared to regard his negotiations with the German Government as having failed. It showed that he was resolved that the nations of Europe should not be allowed to become set into two opposing groups, and he made it clear that he was not going to be put oft by the difficulties which he had encountered in his negotiations with Germany.

He made some references to the questionnaire which a few weeks ago he addressed to the German Government. He said that that questionnaire was neither inquisitive nor acrimonious. When it was published, I agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, and so did a very large number of people representing all sections of opinion. Since then, unfortunately—and I think it is a grave misfortune—the German Government have not seen their way to answer that questionnaire, and now I notice in the most unsuspected quarters the growth of a realisation that, after all, the questionnaire was very clumsily worded, and that it was a matter for grave criticism. I have not changed my view, but at the same time I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has shown that he is not going to allow this obstacle to stand in the way of getting Germany round a conference table, and that he is going to pursue that objective further.

As I understand his plan, it is to bring, in the first place, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium to a conference, which itself is to be preliminary to a further conference at which Russia and other States members of the League will seek a constructive solution of the political and economic problems of the world. That is to say, there is to be a preliminary conference, at which complete equality of status and treatment will be accorded to Germany, and then a wider conference, which will in fact be a peace conference, but a peace conference which will meet, not after a war in order to tidy up the ruins, but before war in order to avert a catastrophe, to banish the fear of war, to lift the hideous and crushing burden of armaments, and to substitute world co-operation in the production and distribution of wealth for the deadly spirit of economic nationalism. If these are the objects of the Secretary of State, I am for them, too, and, if he pursues them boldly and with greater tenacity of purpose than the Government have hitherto shown in their foreign policy, he will have no more ardent supporter than myself.

But the enterprise will be long, arduous and dangerous. There will, as the Secretary of State said in his speech, have to be much diplomatic preparation. The great structure which he has envisaged can never be built upon the shifting sands of power politics and military alliances, but only on the firm and wide foundations of the League Covenant. In his references to the League, his speech was unfortunately, even if inevitably, vague. Again, while we may assume that the Secretary of State will do all in his power to deserve success, he cannot command it, if only for the reason which was given by the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Nicolson) in one of our recent Debates on this subject, that, foreign affairs are, after all, foreign affairs and are not entirely within the control of the Government. In the event of a failure, the League of Nations would provide the only means of sharing, with other nations, our world-wide risks of aggression, and of building up a system of collective security so strong as to be an effective deterrent against going to war; while, in the second place, the League, not being an exclusive military alliance against any Power or Powers, keeps its doors open to all who will abjure force and submit disputes to conciliation and arbitration. Therefore, even if the Secretary of State fails in his enterprise at his first attempt, the League provides a foundation always ready and prepared for a further effort.

I, therefore, listened with strained attention to what the right hon. Gentleman would have to tell us about the proposals for the reform of the League which the Government are considering. He told us that a detailed and public statement would be premature. I felt keen disappointment, because we are on the eve of separating for the Recess and I hoped he would be able to give us, if only, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said, in general terms an indication that the Government would give support to the League as we know it at present, that is to say, a League based upon a Covenant containing Articles 10 and 16. Yet the right hon. Gentleman left that deliberately vague and, when he criticised hon. Members above the Gangway for their attitude to rearmament, I could not help reflecting that it is the very vagueness of the Government's policy in regard to the League which gives great sections of opinion serious qualms about supporting the plans for rearmament that the Government are putting forward. The right hon. Gentleman made an eloquent plea for national unity in support of the Government's policy. I believe nothing would be better calculated to secure that national unity than a clear declaration by the Government that it stood loyally by the Covenant of the League, certainly with amendments, modifications and interpretations, but broadly as it is at present, and above all, a Covenant which includes Articles 10, 11 and 16, which as he himself said this afternoon, provide the indispensable foundation for a system of collective security.

I said that certain amendments, or at least interpretations, of the Covenant of the League were necessary. I will tell the Committee what I mean. Broadly speaking, I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said in the last Foreign Affairs Debate in which he took part, that the League is sufficiently loose in its constitution to adapt itself to almost any contingency. What, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is needed is that, once you have undertaken a line of action, you should stand by it. Certainly it would be a notable triumph if, as the result of the negotiations in which the Secretary of State is now about to engage, Germany were to re-enter the League and if the League were for the first time to include every country of Europe. But in my view that triumph would be too dearly bought if it involved the weakening of the Covenant of the League. The two main functions of the League are defence against aggression and the assertion of the rule of law on the one hand, and the adjustment of political and economic forces by peaceful means on the other. The first involves the creation of a system of collective security, and the sacrifice of Articles 10, 11 and 16, whether to please certain supporters of the Government—the cheers that welcomed the right hon. Gentleman's rather vague references to the opinions of certain Powers on that subject showed that it would please certain of his supporters, if indeed, he chose to follow that policy—or to please certain Powers either inside or outside the League, would make a system of collective security impossible, and must, therefore, be strenuously resisted by all supporters of the League.

On the contrary, the foundation provided for collective security by those Articles needs widening by an amendment of Article 11. Under Article 11 as now drafted a potential aggressor can, by his single vote, hold up action by the League to check preparations for aggression. I said "as now drafted." It might perhaps be more accurate to say, "as now interpreted," but the fact remains that, as it is now interpreted, an aggressor can, by his single vote, hold up action by the League to check preparations for aggression. That is why we had to witness all last summer the shocking spectacle of the Italian Government making preparations on a colossal scale for aggression against Abyssinia, while the League felt itself unable to do anything until a definite act of aggression had been committed. Article 11 should, therefore, be so re-interpreted as to make it possible for the League to take action to check preparations for war even before aggression is actually committed without counting the votes of disputing Powers. As for the other main function of the League, Article 19 needs to be so strengthened as to make it clear that any State member of the League should have a right to ask the Assembly to appoint a commission of inquiry into any specified international conditions which either render a treaty obsolete and inapplicable or might endanger peace. On receiving the report of this commission of inquiry the Assembly should offer advice to the Powers concerned as to their action and, if the advice is disregarded, the situation should be considered under Article 11, strengthened in the way I have suggested.

It is when we come to consider this hitherto sadly neglected side—the constructive side—of the League's activities that we come to the crux of the Secretary of State's problem, for the real problem of peace is an economic problem. Tariffs, quotas, exchange restrictions, Colonial preferences and false conceptions of economic nationalism and self-sufficiency are spreading unemployment and impoverishment throughout a world, which is potentially rich enough to give abundance to all. The fact that the population of Italy is increasing by 400,000 a year, and that all doors are shut to the migration of the Italian people, presents a real problem to the solution of which the conquest of Abyssinia can make no appreciable contribution. Germany is faced with a similar problem, which not even the restoration of all her pre-war colonies would appreciably help to solve. We now know that the Government have declared that the figures first announced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) are in all probability not exaggerated—that Germany is spending £800,000,000 a year on armaments. Obviously the one acid test of the value and sincerity of any general agreement such as the right hon. Gentleman is striving to accomplish will be all round disarmament. What, will happen in the event of disarmament to the economic and financial structure of Germany and the 3,000,000 Germans now employed in armaments production unless world trade can be revived and enormously expanded? The only complete solution of these problems lies in the free movement of capital, goods and men over the surface of the globe. The right hon. Gentleman's policy can never succeed unless it registers a real and substantial advance towards that goal. His predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), talked in his great speech at Geneva in September about an inquiry into access to raw materials, but nothing has been done. Something must be done quickly and on a bigger scale if disaster is to be be averted.

There are other amendments or interpretations of the Covenant of a minor character which I should be willing to support, and there is one proposal that I would make to the Government which would not I think require any amendment, or indeed in a technical sense any interpretation of the Covenant. Nevertheless, it is a weapon that ought to be added to the armoury of the League. That is to accept for ourselves, and to ask our fellow members of the League to accept, an obligation not to give private or public loans or credits to any State which has an unresolved difference with the League, and I would ask whether the Government is prepared to accept such an obligation for itself—that is the most important part of my question to which I wish particularly to ask for an answer—and to urge its acceptance by the other members of the League.

I feel no enthusiasm for a renewal of the Locarno Treaty supplemented by a Western Air Pact, except on two conditions. The first is that it leads to some immediate and substantial measure of disarmament. In particular, I see no value in a Western Air Pact unless it includes an effective measure for the limitation and reduction of air armaments. The second is that it is immediately followed by a further conference in which Russia should be accorded, by Germany and by Britain and all the other Powers, the same equality of status and fairness of treatment as Germany now rightly claims for herself. This is the course upon which the Secretary of State has embarked, for, though I have perhaps gone rather further than he indicated, I hope he does not altogether dissent. There were, indeed, in some parts of his speech phrases about the League which I liked better than those that he used when he was actually referring to the reform of the League.

If this is, indeed, a true indication of the policy that he is pursuing, he will, of course, find lions in his path. The first lion is that group of hon. Members which, from newspaper reports, would seem to be particularly strong in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Conservative party, who would confine our obligations for military action to the defence of British interests and would, therefore, tear up the Covenant and bid the British Empire take cover behind the Maginot line. The argument is familiar. Are we to be committed to send troops to South America if the war between Paraguay and Bolivia breaks out afresh? Of course not. It is mere unscrupulous propaganda against the League to represent our military obligations under the Covenant as being unlimited. They were defined, in Annexe F of the Treaty of Locarno, in accordance with Article 16 of the Covenant and the 1921 resolutions of the Assembly, as being to co-operate loyally and effectively in support of the Covenant and in resistance to any act of aggression to an extent which is compatible with our military situation and takes our geographical position into account.

Certainly, as long as we are loyal to the Covenant, neutrality as between an aggressor and his victim is out of the question. We cannot continue to supply the aggressor with the means to make his aggression effective. Therefore, we must impose sanctions. We need not declare war on the aggressor, but if he attacks us—and this seems to go to the root of the controversy between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs—in an endeavour to break through the sanctions ring, we must be prepared to resist the attack. I am confident, from such contact as I have had with public opinion, and especially with the opinion of the War and post-war generations, that it is fully alive to the distinction which was so tersely drawn by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) in a recent letter to "The Times"; the distinction between making war on another nation and not being deterred from following a wise and righteous policy by the fear that another nation would make war on us.

We are told, "Let us make ourselves safe in the West, and leave the Teuton and the Slav to fight it out in the East." That was our policy, less definitely defined, in 1914. If you had asked the people of this country to say, "What are you prepared to fight for?" or had had a plebiscite to ask the people what they were prepared to fight for—if you had asked the people in 1914, "Will you fight for Serbia?" there would have been one unanimous shout of "No." Yet the torch was set alight at Sarajevo of all the outlandish places in Europe to fight about. Some hon. Members who are perhaps in this House now will remember that "John Bull" came out with a contents bill, "To Hell with Serbia," not a very noble or Christian, but a very prevalent, sentiment at the time. Neither was it a very far-sighted view, for the next week the contents bill was changed, and it read, "England's Hour of Greatest Glory." And we are closer together now than we were then. The new and all-pervasive menace of the air is actual. We shall find no safety behind the Maginot line. We cannot, if we would, disinterest ourselves in the conflict—Burke called it the eternal conflict—between the rule of law and arbitrary power whether it breaks out in the east, or west, or north, or south. If we are resolute in our loyalty to the Covenant, the conflict will not be eternal, for the League gives us the means, if we have the will, so to order the world that whatsoever is just is mighty and whatsoever is mighty is just.

The other lion in the path of the Secretary of State is the group of Members headed by the strange combination of the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain), and Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who have tabled a resolution that the transfer of any British Mandated Territory is not a discussable question. I certainly would not agree to transfer one of our Mandates to Germany in present circumstances, or indeed to any country which is not a member of the League of Nations. But to ask His Majesty's Government to tell the German Government that the matter is not discussable at all is merely making their task unnecessarily difficult. Look at Germany's neighbours. Russia has an Empire, Italy has an Empire, Spain has an Empire, Portugal has an Empire, Britain has an Empire, Belgium has an Empire, Holland has an Empire, France has an Empire, and certainly it cannot in these circumstances seriously be said that the question whether Germany should have a colony is not discussable.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Home Secretary as Foreign Secretary and the present Foreign Secretary went to Berlin in 1935, and that they informed the House when they came back, as recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT, that they had informed the German Chancellor that the transfer of Mandates was not a discussable question?


I have not seen the particular communiqué to which the hon. Member refers. I hope that he will not interrupt me again. He and his friends no doubt will have an opportunity in this Debate later on of dealing with this very important question. I repeat that to make a blunt, unqualified statement—[An HON. MEMBER: "It has already been done."] To put on the Order Paper of the House of Commons at this very critical juncture in the negotiations which the right hon. Gentleman is beginning, a blunt unqualified statement that the transfer of a Mandated Territory to Germany is not a discussable question—it does not say not now or in the present circumstances or while Germany is not a member of the League—is to make the task of the Foreign Secretary unnecessarily hard. To transfer a Mandated Territory to any Power which is not a member of the League, to transfer a Mandated Territory without taking into consideration the wishes of the native inhabitants, to transfer it without guarantees for the fulfilment of the conditions of the Mandate, would, of course, be impossible.

I certainly say that to barter a mandated territory merely for a few years' peace in one corner of Europe—in the western half of Europe—would be a wholly indefensible policy. To say without qualification that it is not discussable certainly cannot be said with any force or dignity by those who supported the Government in yielding to Italy in the struggle against aggression in Abyssinia, whose independance and integrity we were as much pledged to defend against aggression by our signature to the Covenant of the League as we are pledged to defend our own territory. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen seem to be advancing under a banner with a strange device, "We yield, but we do not discuss." So as the Secretary of State passes on his journey through the stately Palace of Westminster, he will find two lions in his path; but let him be of good cheer. The porter at the gate whose name is the Patronage Secretary will assure him that they are chained, and as he passes by he will hear them roar, but they will do him no harm.

Time forbids me to pass more than a very few words of comment upon the other important topics which the Secretary of State dealt with in his speech. As regards Egypt, we on these benches welcome the account which the Secretary of State gave of the substantial progress which has been made towards a settlement, which we hope and believe will strengthen the ties of mutual respect and friendship which bind the people of Egypt to the people of Britain. We rejoice at the success of the conference at Montreux, and we join with the right hon. Gentleman in the tributes which he has paid to the First Commissioner of Works and to my Noble Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. Let me say frankly that, as I do not spare the right hon. Gentleman in my criticism when I disagree with him, I would like to pay tribute to him, for with characteristic modesty he omitted all mention of his own share in these transactions. He is responsible as Secretary of State for the successful conduct of these negotiations at Egypt and at Montreux. I would like to add on the subject of the Conference at Montreux, that I am very glad that we are relieved of the liability for keeping open the Straits, which, I think, we ought never to have assumed. I am glad indeed that we have been able to give what the Secretary of State described as a valuable example of the progress which can be made by methods of peaceful revision, and as one who was a member of a small band of Liberals who fought the Treaty of Lausanne when it was brought before this House in 1924, I can say with sincerity that in my view nothing in its life became it like the leaving of it.

I would have ventured, if time had permitted to have joined issue with the right hon. Gentleman in the last part of his speech when he defended the abandonment of sanctions against Italy. I was sorry that he did not make some reference—I know that it is a painful subject with him, and it is a painful subject for all of us—to the fate and the future of Abyssinia. After all, we have incurred a great responsibility. We have all incurred this responsibility, first of all, by signing the Covenant. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea and all his colleagues in the Government accepted a grave responsibility when he made his speech in Geneva in September of last year. Perhaps the Government accepted towards the Abyssinians a still greater responsibility when they threw out the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea—and I think that they did right at that time—and encouraged the Abyssinians to continue their resistance. But the right hon. Gentleman cannot deny that the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea and the abandonment of the Hoare-Laval negotiations encouraged the Abyssinians to continue their resistance. He cannot deny that; of course he cannot. The Government and all of us have a great responsibility towards those unhappy people.

I want to know, and I think that the public want to know what the Government are going to do about the recognition of the Italian annexation. I ask the Government before this Debate closes tonight, to give us an assurance that that annexation is not going to be recognised and that no difficulty will be made about the representation of Abyssinia at the meeting of the Assembly in September by the Emperor or by his authorised representative. I ask the Government to tell us what their view is on the proposal which I made that loans and credits should not be extended to any country which has an unresolved difference with the League, and I want to know whether that principle will be applied to Italy as long as she remains in unlawful occupation of Abyssinia. I want to know that the Government will not place any difficulty in the way of the return of the Emperor to his country, and in the way of the importation of arms to those tribes who still, after all, while they are fighting for the freedom of their country must enjoy and ought to enjoy belligerent rights.

Unfortunately, in no sphere of policy have the Government a more discreditable record of shuffling vacillation than in that of foreign policy. We ought in fairness to absolve the present occupant of the Foreign Office from some of these strictures because he entered into an inheritance which had been compromised by folly and vacillation before he took the office. Therefore, for my part I propose, at any rate for some time, to suspend judgment about his occupancy of the office and to give him what support I can on the policies that he may be pursuing with which I agree.

But what has been the policy of the Government as a whole for the last 18 months? Eighteen months ago they reacted to Herr Hitler's repudiation of the military Clauses of the Versailles Treaty, by sending the Foreign Secretary, who is now Home Secretary, to Berlin, presumably to come to a friendly understanding. A week or two later the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary fluttered off by air to Stresa to condemn Germany and to form the now notorious Stresa front against the German Government. Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not for the last time at a critical juncture in foreign affairs, emitted a discordant note: If unmelodious was the song, It was a hearty note and strong. It was so strong that it provoked an equally strong remonstrance from the Ministers at Stresa. Then back to London for the hurried conclusion of an agreement with Herr Hitler about naval armaments. All that happened in three months. Within the next six months our foreign policy was changed so often that we had three Foreign Ministers within that period. One of them has since returned to the Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, and our foreign policy has been changed again.

Was it not Burke who said that great men were the guideposts and landmarks of the State? But who could set a course by these guideposts and landmarks which are fixed in no theme or principle of policy but move erratically hither and thither, gesticulating wildly now to Paris, now to Berlin, now to Stresa, now to Geneva, now to Abyssinia, now to Rome. They are less like guideposts and landmarks than victims of St. Vitus' dance.

Nine months ago the Abyssinians were shedding their blood for freedom and, incidentally, for the principles of the Covenant; the military dictatorships in Europe were divided; the States Members of the League were, with insignificant exceptions, united in vigorous action to uphold the Covenant; American sympathy and interest in the League struggle was aroused and actively growing; public opinion in this country was almost solid behind the Government and the League. Now, Abyssinia lies prostrate; the arbitrary power of Italy has triumphed—it may be as I hope that it will be, only temporarily—over the principle of law represented by the League; American sympathy is chilled; the dictatorships have been united; the League powers are divided. The Secretary of State said only this afternoon that they are divided by fundamental differences of outlook on the future of the League. Public opinion here is baffled, confused and disillusioned. The historians of the future may well look back upon the past nine months as the most humiliating and disastrous nine months in the history of our foreign policy.

To ask us at this stage to give the Government our confidence and support, in face of this humiliating sequel to the great speech of the right hon. Member for Chelsea at Geneva in September last, would be to ask too much, especially in the absence of firm and precise assurances with regard to the future of the League. But transcending all party interests, all national interests, all world interests is the cause of peace. To secure peace on a sure foundation of justice, economic co-operation and international good-will must be the supreme objective of British policy. If the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs can hold his Government steadily to a course of loyalty to the Covenant and the League, and to the course which he has charted for the two pending conferences; if he can prove in action the devotion of his Government to the ideals of the League, which he has so often and so eloquently expressed in words; if he can deal firmly with the opposition which he must expect from influential vested interests and from some among his own supporters, he will not only secure for his Government at home truly national support, but he will also enable Great Britain once more to exercise a beneficent, majestic, and, as I believe, decisive influence on the destinies of the world.

6.7 p.m.


We are glad that the hon. Members below the Gangway asked for the putting down of the Foreign Office Vote on this occasion, and we are indebted to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for the comprehensive survey which he has given in his speech. Although on the largest and the principal issue there is, and there will be, severe criticisms of His Majesty's Government, I am glad to confirm the common support that there is in all sections of the House in regard to the other important though, in comparison, minor issues of foreign policy. The right hon. Gentleman has told us of what has happened in regard to the Locarno Powers, and he made it perfectly plain that, satisfactory as has been the preliminary stage which has already been passed through, the major discussion is yet to come. Therefore, I would only say that I endorse what has been said by the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) that we hope that the further conference of the Five Powers will not be the final stage, because it is clear that if the peace of the world is to be attained it cannot be attained piecemeal. Peace is indivisible, and a still larger body of national Powers must be brought together if real peace is to be attained.

I join with the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland in his congratulations to the Foreign Secretary on the result of the Turkish discussions. I agree entirely, and I am sure that my hon. Friends on these benches will agree, with the words of praise of the Turkish Government with regard to their approach to this problem—a happy contrast to what has taken place with regard to other nations. With respect to Egypt, I am very glad to think that there is a prospect of settling an issue which has been a bone of contention ever since the War. I hope that it will be settled in a manner which will be satisfactory to our very good friends the Egyptian people, that it will give them what they desire in the furtherance of their national aspirations and that at the same time it will be beneficial to such British interests as lie in that part of the world.

In regard to Spain, there is one question which I should like to ask. It is an important question, and I would ask the Foreign Secretary either to answer it immediately, in which case I will give way, or, if he prefers, to allow it to be answered at the conclusion of the Debate. It has been stated that the British representatives at Gibraltar have not acted up fully to the common courtesy of nations and have not given to the warships of the Spanish Government the requisitions of food or fuel for which they have asked. I take no responsibility for that statement, and I hope that it is untrue. If that be so, I hope the Foreign Secretary or the Under-Secretary will give an explanation, which I hope will be a denial.

Having dealt with the important but minor issues, I come to the major question of the Debate. This is the last Debate on foreign affairs this Session. I have listened, and I am sure that other hon. Members have listened, in the hope of discovering what is the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to the large foreign issues and the maintenance of peace. We have listened in previous Debates and have gone away unsatisfied. We have listened again to-day and we are as much in the dark as we were before we came. This is no academic question. What are the principles on which the British Government are prepared to act? This is the question which people in every part of the country are asking. It is the question which is being asked all over the civilised world. The Foreign Secretary says that at one end of the scale there are people who want to do absolutely nothing for collective security and peace, and at the other end there are those who want to plunge us into war, and that somewhere between the two stands His Majesty's Government, but at what precise point whether nearer to one section of people or the other or in the middle he is not in a position to say. It is as if the right hon. Gentleman were asked in what part of the world he was prepared to live and he answered: "There are the Seven Seas and on some continent there is land surrounded by one of the Seven Seas, and there I propose to dwell."

I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that what was as much responsible for this country being involved in the terrible struggle of 1914–18 was the uncertainty which existed in 1914 as to the intentions of His Majesty's Government. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will deny that statement. Had Germany known for certain that we were committed to France, and that whatever Germany did we were going in on the side of France, it is quite likely—it is probable, that Germany would never have embarked on the War. Had we, on the other hand, not been committed to France, had we made it perfectly clear that we would take no part in the War unless Belgium was invaded—the right hon. Gentleman suggested that this was the sole cause of our being brought into the War, although I doubt whether he could seriously maintain that proposition—I think it is quite likely that Germany would never have invaded Belgium, and we should not have been involved in the War. Had we taken a firm line with the Tsarist Russian Government I think the War might have been stopped in another way. The War broke out just because the world did not know, Germany did not know, the actual position of our Government; and the War having begun the policy and principles of His Majesty's Government at that time were not well known. Had we had reasonable aims, had we had a policy of justice and a just peace, the War might have been brought to an early end. As a matter of fact, our policy was dictated by the secret Treaties which made for a long and devastating conflict and an unjust peace. From that unjust peace many of our recent troubles have arisen.

The right hon. Gentleman says that there was some ambiguity in 1914 but that to-day our position is quite clear. Is it quite clear? The right hon. Gentleman may have some understanding which makes it clear with regard to France and Belgium, but what is absolutely covered with mist and fog is our policy in regard to any other part of the world, and it is just that question which the world is asking to-day. It may very well be that because the right hon. Gentleman and his Government have not given an answer to that question, that a war may break out which might have been avoided had the answer been perfectly clear. I am certain that the policy of this Government is not known to anyone outside the Government. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman has stated that he has no intention of answering that question one way or the other to-day, and I am very doubtful whether the views and intentions on the major principles which lie behind the Government's policy are known inside the Government and whether there is not the same uncertainty, divergence and conflict of opinion, inside the Government as to their policy as there is outside. I am not even certain that the two extremes to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, those who say that we ought to do nothing with regard to the League of Nations, and those who say that we ought to do everything, do not find expression inside the Cabinet itself. The conflicting expressions of opinion which we have heard from Members of the Government suggest that I am not very far out in my surmise.

What are the possibilities in regard to policy? What is meant by foreign policy? What is meant by a defence policy? Let us consider what possible policies there are. A policy of pure non-resistance is not the view of any large body of opinion in this House or in the country, and there is no hope that it can be the adopted policy of the country. Then there is the policy of defence merely of the shores of this country. I am aware that it is not the actual policy put forward by the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, but I think he intended to give the impression to a large body of opinion in the country that defence means the defence of our own homes; he suggested that that was the object of a large part of the forces of this country. But in fact that is not the policy of His Majesty's Government; and it is not a policy which could be supported for this country. It may be possible for a strong China or for a country like that which "The Times" rather impolitely refers to as a hippopotamus, namely, Soviet Russia, and it might be a policy for the United States of America. The area of these great Empires is continuous and compact and a defence of their own shores might be an adequate and suitable policy, but for the British Empire, which spreads into every sea, which has outlying districts and trade routes which must be traversed in security, any such policy is entirely out of the question. There is no use saying that the defence of our homes has really nothing to do with foreign policy. It has everything to do with foreign policy. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] If the hon. Member will read the speech of the Minister for the Coordination of Defence he will fully understand the reference I am making. I am aware of what the Minister actually said.

The question is: "With what is our foreign policy concerned, and for what things are we prepared to risk our forces? The Home Secretary, speaking about a month ago, said that the Government were not prepared to risk a single ship or man on behalf of Abyssinian independence. For what are we prepared to risk them? That is the real question, the real issue, which at some point or other the Government will have to face. The Government are asking us to support their policy and their rearmament programme. But what are the things for which they are prepared to take a risk I have no doubt that they are prepared to risk on behalf of these Islands, and on behalf of the Dominions. I have no doubt that they are prepared to risk on behalf of the British Colonies and on behalf of the trade routes. And what else? If they are prepared to risk on behalf of these things, are they or are they not prepared to take any risks on behalf of public right; for the protection of the independence of countries which are not part of the British Empire? I suggest that this country cannot disinterest itself from public right. It cannot, in the long run, be in the interests of the British Empire or any part of it that we should disinterest ourselves from public right. These increased armaments are no substitute for a sound foreign policy. Unless the policy of the Government is sound, no massed might of our own strength will defend some outlying part in the British Empire affected by an aggressor or even our own shores.

The Government in their policy are thinking in terms of the 19th century instead of the second quarter of the 20th century to which we belong. What is the essential difference between the position to-day and the position 25 years ago? The essential difference is that for strategic purposes this country of ours has ceased to be an island. In the 19th century a strong fleet, controlled by our own country to guard our own land, could not only guard our land from attack but could and did protect our food supplies in time of war. The coming of the aeroplane has completely changed the whole position of this country. We have ceased to be an island, and we are liable to attack. No fleet of ours can stave off that attack. No growth of aircraft can directly prevent an attack; it can only save us to some degree by a retaliatory attack on other countries. Therefore, our position to-day is that we have not merely an academic and platonic need to support public right in the world, but an immediate personal, selfish and direct need, because it is only through the support of public right that we can hope to survive in the future. We cannot by our own might alone, however much we spend. We are spending £60,000,000 more this year than last year on armaments, but if we were to spend not £60,000,000 but £600,000,000 for the next five years, we could not defend the shores of this country against the attack of the forces of other nations gathered together against us.

The situation has entirely changed from the days gone by. If we are to preserve our own existence in the future we must be parties to a policy of public right, and we must play our part in that policy. If we fail to support other countries when they are attacked by an aggressor we shall not be able to complain if other countries fail to support us when our time comes. I know that the Government protest that they have carried out that policy. I would like to tell the right hon. Gentleman from personal knowledge how this matter is regarded in foreign countries. The illustration I shall give is, perhaps, only a trivial one, but it is a straw which shows the way the wind is blowing. I have staying with me at the present time an Eygptian boy who is 12 years of age, and the first time he got me alone he said: "There is one question I have been wanting to ask you: Is Britain really afraid of Italy?" I gave the best explanation I could, and he said to me: "Did not the British Government really break faith with the Emperor of Abyssinia?" Now, a little boy of 12 years of age does not make such statements out of his own head; they must be expressions which he heard every day from the people with whom he came into contact. They are asking: "Is Britain really afraid of Italy, and did not the British Government break faith with the Emperor of Abyssinia?" A little while ago I saw a friend who spends a great part of his time in Central Europe, and he said: "I have never before come back to this country with so much shame. Everybody with whom I have come into contact despises the British nation for its failure to play its part in the Abyssinian question." I know that the right hon. Gentleman said we had done our best, we had tried, but it had not quite come off; but let me contrast what actually happened with the very strong words used by the previous Foreign Secretary, who said: The ideas enshrined in the Covenant have become a part of our national conscience. … My country stands for the collective maintenance of the Covenant in its entirety, and particularly for steady and collective resistance to all acts of aggression. I do not wish to rub that in too much, because I believe the right hon. Gentleman would have gone further than some of his colleagues who, for reasons to which I have already referred, held him back by the coat tails. But the facts are that the promise which was held out to the people of this country, to the people of Abyssinia, and to the world that collective action had entered into the conscience of our people and that we would uphold the Covenant in its entirety, although the right hon. Gentleman may say it was fulfilled in the letter, was certainly not fulfilled in the spirit. If the time comes when we find a similar failure of other countries to act on our behalf, I do not think the people who fail us will come in for very much of our good will and esteem.

Let us be clear. I—and I believe my party as a whole—do not suggest that this country should fill the role of a peripatetic Don Quixote, and interfere wherever some trouble exists, or where-ever we think it exists, in every part of the civilised world. There is, of course, a certain amount of truth in the right hon. Gentleman's statement that every nation will not fight for each nation. Each case has to be considered on its merits, and we have to know how far each country can take action, and what that action ought to be. But there never can be a clearer case than that of Abyssinia, there never can be a case in which it is more possible for us to act, and there never can be a case in which the ultimate failure and ignominy of what we did can be more plain. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ought we to have gone to war?"] That question was asked me from the Front Bench opposite in a previous Debate, and I gave a categoric answer. My point is that, although it is true that there are limits to what can be done, it is essential that the Government should let it be known throughout the world what are our principles in this matter. The world as a whole is entitled to know that. If the Government tell us that their policy is somewhere between the extreme limits, between the conceivable view of one side and the conceivable view of the other, they are not telling us anything that will be of practical use to us or to any country. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that other countries have to shape their policy on what they understand our policy to be, and if they do not understand our principles, how can their policy be based in their own interests or in the interests of this country?

Hon. Members opposite sometimes talk as though some of us on this side were, in fact, the real warmongers. That is not in the least the case. In many respects we would go further than hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in trying to arrive at a peaceful solution of problems. All the ideas which are being put forward from the benches opposite of economic nationalism and a ringed fence round the Empire for economic purposes have provoked an immense amount of hostility, and we have been against them from the beginning. We are far more willing than hon. Gentlemen opposite to try to make an accommodation on peaceful lines. But having said that, we do believe that in the maintenance of public right, and in that alone, is there any hope for the future of the world. It is because we are opposed to the policy of the Government as it has been shown in the past, because we have no trust in the policy which the Government profess to have to-day, and because the Government refuse to give any indication of the principles on which they act, that we cannot support them in this matter. We intend to make it perfectly clear that our opposition is both to the foreign policy of the Government and to rearmament, which unless it be directed by a sound foreign policy is something to which we cannot possibly agree. For that reason, as has already been explained in the Press, we shall vote against rearmament in the Division Lobby to-night.

At the close of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman made an appeal to hon. Members on this side. He said: "Do you not think that, after all, you are creating a false impression abroad? It may be that we who sit on the Government Benches understand that this is a constitutional procedure, but do not forget that there are people watching these Divisions besides ourselves—there are people in foreign nations—and they will misunderstand your action." I venture to put two things to hon. Gentlemen opposite. First of all, I would say to the Foreign Secretary that there are actions taken by hon. Members on his own side—hon. Members to whom reference was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland—which are far more embarrassing to the Government than any vote which the Opposition may give in the Division Lobby, and I should have been very glad if the right hon. Gentleman had used some of his eloquence in castigating his own supporters for the action they take in making it more difficult for him to pursue the policy which he would like to pursue.

But a right hon. Gentleman who is not present to-day, yet who is much nearer to the Foreign Secretary than the supporters to whom I have referred, is the most serious culprit. Our policy is perfectly clear. In our published manifesto we have stated: A vote against an Estimate is not a vote for the abolition of the Service concerned, but is a vote in opposition to the policy of which the Estimate is the expression. Labour does not advocate unilateral disarmament. On the contrary it has definitely declared its willingness to provide such defence forces as are required for this country to do its part in a system of collective security through the League of Nations. That is perfectly clear to any foreign reader, and it would not be subject to misunderstanding but for the one fact that it has been the persistent policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite to misrepresent the policy of the Labour party. The most gross misrepresentation is that which occurred—if the speech is correctly reported—in the speech of the Home Secretary during the week-end. He said: The rearmament of other countries passes them"— that is, the Labour party— by. They disregard it, and utter no protest against it. That is quite untrue, of course. They reserve their censure for the policy of their own country, and if they could translate their vote into action, they would leave us defenceless whatever other people did. It is that sort of thing which may mislead foreign nations as to what is the attitude of the Labour party. Our policy is perfectly clear. The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said that he has not any difficulty in understanding it. It is a perfectly constitutional action to vote against the Estimates; it is an action which parties in this House have frequently taken. The party opposite voted against all sorts of things during the time they were in Opposition. They voted against education and the police forces of the country, but they did not do that because they did not want education or because they proposed there should be no police. They voted against the handling of education and the police in the way in which the Government of the day were handling them. It was perfectly constitutional and normal for them to vote in that way, because if their vote had been successful it would have meant the turning out of the Government and they would have had control of those services and would have been able to carry out the policy they wished.


Is it not a fact that last week the Labour party definitely voted against every one of the Supplementary Estimates for the Defence Services? Are we to interpret that as meaning that they desire Defence Services?


It was that point to which I was addressing myself. I was explaining the reasons we voted against the Supplementary Estimates last week and intend to vote against the Estimates to-night. We are opposed to the policy which underlies them. It does not greatly matter to us that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary chooses to misrepresent us; and it is certainly of no importance to me. I have taken part in a great number of political movements throughout my life and have been constantly and continuously misrepresented both as to my action and that of my friends. We are used to misrepresentation, and it runs off us as water off a duck's back. But what does matter, as I think the Foreign Secretary will agree, is the creation of a wrong impression in foreign countries and if a wrong impression is created, he must blame the Home Secretary and not this party who are taking a perfectly constitutional and understandable action. We are responsible for our own actions and for the explanations which we give, but the right hon. Gentleman and his Government are responsible for the misrepresentations of his right hon. Friend and the harm which they may do in foreign countries.

The right hon. Gentleman appealed to us to trust the Government. He appealed to us to trust rearmament in their hands and to trust in their foreign policy, though he will not tell us what that policy is. It is somewhere between the two extremes which he indicated. He appeals to us for unquestioning trust and asks us not to divide the councils of the nation at this critical time. He forgets that his Government appealed for and secured the support of this party 12 months ago with regard to collective security. We and the country gave them trust and confidence on that occasion, and we know what happened. It is too late for the right hon. Gentleman to come to us to-day, when that trust has been betrayed, and ask for a renewal of it. In our opinion the Government cannot be trusted. We do not trust their foreign policy and we will not entrust this enormous rearmament programme to their hands. Rearmament, in so far as it may be necessary at all, must be handled in the right way. The Government have shown that they cannot be trusted so to handle it. We refuse, therefore, to give them our confidence afresh. Nor will misrepresentations by the Home Secretary and other Members of the Government deter us from making in the recognised constitutional method the strongest possible attack upon their policy.

6.49 p.m.


Two things must, I think, have occurred to every Member who listened to the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). One is summed up in the French proverb: "Qui s'excuse s'accuse." So lengthy, so laboured and so inconclusive a defence of the attitude which the hon. Gentleman and his friends declare their intention of taking up in regard to the defensive services, does, I venture to think, carry its own condemnation with it. As always in a Parliamentary system, it is the tendency of debate in this House to exaggerate differences. That is not my purpose to-day. I would rather seek to find the greatest measure of agreement that is possible. I put this point to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh. I understood him to say, for himself and his friends, that they desired this country to be in a position to protect itself and also that they desired this country to be in a position to play the part that such a country ought to play in the collective system of the League of Nations. Very well. There is no contradiction between those two purposes. We are agreed about that. To provide for your own defence is not to be false to the collective system. What would be false to the collective system would be to neglect your own defence in the hope that others will fight your battles, and shed their blood and spend their money while you have your defence on the cheap.

Very well then. The two things are not incompatible. I go one step further and I ask: For our own defence in whatever there is, put it as high as you like, of a collective system at this time in Europe, is any step taken by our Government exaggerated or premature? For our own defence we need all that they are doing, and if we are to play the part which the right hon. Gentleman wishes us to play in the collective system of the League of Nations, we need not only all that the Government are proposing but more than they have yet submitted to this House. With what face can the hon. Gentleman and his friends say, "We are prepared to place this country in a position to give help to other countries who are attacked by aggressors, but we will not vote for the armaments which are the least that are necessary for, and perhaps too little for, even half that policy"? The hon. Gentleman is entitled to say, as he has said, that he will not vote for the salary of the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister because he has no confidence in either one or the other. But suppose his Government came into office next year on the outbreak of a crisis. Would he be in a better position to pursue his policy if the Supplementary Estimates were withdrawn and the original Estimates reduced or rejected, as he is going to try to have them reduced or rejected in the course of the next couple of nights?

What it comes to is this. Sooner than help the Government to defend this country, sooner than put the Government in a position to take the steps which he wants them to take in respect of the League—sooner than do either of those things for a Government, from which he is separated by party differences, he would let our country go undefended and leave us impotent in the face of the present situation. Both the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) complained of a lack of clarity in the declarations of the Government. I confess that having listened attentively, indeed with strained attention, to them in an endeavour to disentangle their thoughts from their words, I found an equal lack of clarity in the declarations of both. I put to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland the same question which I have put to the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. Does he think that the preparations made by the Government are excessive for our own defence in the present state of Europe?


I did not deal with that matter in the course of my speech.


That is why I am putting the question to the right hon. Gentleman.


The right hon. Gentleman is apparently in ignorance of the fact that we voted for the Estimates for Defence when they came before the House.


Then I presume that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to continue to vote for the military, naval and Air Force estimates. He does not hold that they are excessive for the purposes which he shares with the Government. How grateful he must be for the major part of the support which he is going to get in the Lobby when he carries his Amendment to a Division?


The right hon. Gentleman has just pointed out that in his opinion it is wrong to vote against the Defence Estimates, but that it is quite understandable that one should vote against the Estimates of the Foreign Secretary. We are going to pursue exactly the same course as that which he has recommended to the Opposition.


Let me make clear the point at which I have arrived. The right hon. Gentleman is going to take the same course but for entirely different reasons. The right hon. Gentleman is going to support the Defence Estimates, and measures for the strengthening of our Defence Forces. He wants to challenge foreign policy and foreign policy only. I appeal to those who listened to his speech—and I wish they had been more—to say whether they got any clear idea from his speech as to what it was he objected to in the Government's policy? Perhaps one might say that he objected to everything in it, but what is the policy which he wants to substitute? His speech was full of brave words, but he carefully guarded himself as regards fulfilment of the Covenant in the letter and the spirit in every case. Then the Covenant is not to be the test. It is to be the interpretation in the letter of the four Locarno Powers to the fifth. That is a very different thing. When the right hon. Gentleman is attacking the Government, it is the highest doctrine of the League which he preaches, but when he is thinking of what he would do, if he were once again a member of the Government, as he was at the time of Manchukuo, he puts in a qualifying sentence which the Government have as much right to use as he has—a qualifying sentence indicating limitation and restriction on his generalities which it is wise of him to put in, even though he is speaking in Opposition and which it is wise of the Government, who are responsible for the fate of the country, to observe.

Let me diverge for a moment to say how glad I was that, in a world situation so full of anxiety and trouble, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was able to open his speech with some reassuring news. I do not wholly like the Straits Convention, but I am not for a moment going to criticise the Government for having made it, and I rejoice that the question has been peacefully settled with good will on all sides. I rejoice that one stage of the Egyptian negotiations has terminated in an agreement between the Egyptian Government and our representatives, and I hope that those negotiations will be as successful to the end. It is a great thing to get any of these many troubles wiped off the slate, and to get a little ease and rest in some quarter of the world in spite of this almost universal anxiety. There are dark clouds over Europe. The three Locarno Powers who met in London have just issued a renewed invitation to Germany and Italy to participate.

But first I want to say a word about Abyssinia. I am glad that sanctions having been terminated, rightly, as I think, and as the League thought, the time has come when the Government can announce that the special assurances that were given in connection with those sanctions can also be terminated. I venture to urge the Government very strongly not to yield to the pressure of the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland to keep the Abyssinian question open as a rankling wound for as long as possible, but to close it as soon as possible. We have done our best. We have gone as far as any other Power was prepared to go, and further than any other Power probably would have gone if our Government had not led. We have failed. The collective system has been insufficient either to preserve the peace or to prevent the aggression being successful in this case. It would do no good to keep that wound open. Hon. Gentlemen admit the failure; the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland himself does not suppose that he can restore the situation. There is no Abyssinian Government. If the Italians left Abyssinia to-morrow, I will undertake to say that if the Emperor went back, he would need the help of some Power to seat him again on his throne, and to suggest that the tribes which are still fighting, with no recognised Government, should be supplied with arms which they are quite as likely to use in raiding our territory as in fighting the Italians, seems to me—if I may use a phrase which has a familiar, even a family sound—the height of midsummer madness. I hope that the Government will neither encourage nor permit the import of arms through British territory into Abyssinia. They will not restore the independence of Abyssinia and are much more likely to be a danger to those who have contiguous frontiers, like ourselves. I hope that the Government will do away with what remains of difference, friction and danger arising out of the Abyssinia question as quickly as they can now that it is recognised on all hands that you cannot carry that matter to any successful conclusion.


How will you close the rankling wound? By recognising Italy?


By recognising the situation which exists—


That is all we want—


—instead of pretending that it does not exist. A little reality accompanying our ideals would be a very healthy element in our politics. That brings me to what I was going to say. When we consider the League we must remember that the Covenant of the League was drawn up and signed by the same people and at the same time as the Treaties of Peace were drawn up. My right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) will permit me to observe, in passing that though I shall never be one to belittle the great part which he took in the successful conduct of the War, though I think that among laymen, meaning civilians not in the armed Forces of the Crown, he played a greater part than any living man, yet I must beg him to remember that he took a part also in framing the Treaties of Peace, and that just as he can claim a large measure of credit for the successful conduct of the War, so he must assume a large measure of responsibility for the Treaties of Peace.

Hon. Gentlemen on the benches opposite may denounce the Treaties of Peace broadly, generally and without exception. There is a great deal in the Treaties of Peace which is unworkable, which it was foolish to put in, but I venture to think that the wisest part of the Treaties, the least attackable part, is the territorial frontiers that were drawn, and those who criticise them, except for minor adjustments which it might be desirable to make, will find it difficult, if not impossible, to draw fairer boundaries. The Treaties are recognised to be imperfect. But the same people who drew the treaties drew the Covenant at the same time and in the same conditions. Why should you suppose that they were inspired word by word, phrase by phrase, article by article, in drawing up the Covenant when you never cease to complain what fools they were or what knaves they were in drawing up at the same time the Peace Treaties of which the Covenant forms part? They drew up the Covenant fresh from the experience of the War. They drew it up with the expectation that in a short time all the great Powers of of the world would be members of the League, and that from the very beginning the United States would be a member. It would be a miracle if when the United States never joined, the League could work exactly as its founders intended, and it would require, not one but many miracles, with Germany and Japan out, three of the great Powers, including the United States.

The problem now before us is how to relate our ideals to the realities of the moment, and it is because we have lost sight of realities in our pursuit of the ideal that the League has had so great a shock. Unless you can bring it back into a proper relation with reality, it will not recover from that shock, and when tested again will fail still further. What is the broad fact which emerges about British opinion from this Debate? My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary alluded to the speech which the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs made in the last Debate but one which we had on foreign affairs. The right hon. Gentleman had said about the middle of his speech that one thing was certain: That no one in this country would fight again in an Austrian quarrel.


I think that my word was "war."


I do not want to have a dispute about words.


That is very important.


This is important from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view. He said: Whatever Government is in power they will never go to war again for an Austrian quarrel."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1936; col. 1228, Vol. 313.] As the Foreign Secretary has already pointed out, they did not go to war in 1914 for an Austrian quarrel. If it had been merely an Austrian quarrel this country would not have gone to war. We went to war because France and Belgium were invaded. To Belgium we had given a guarantee, and the independence and integrity of France were necessary for our own safety. The right hon. Gentleman said that no Government in this country would ever go to war again in an Austrian quarrel, but earlier in his speech he had accepted a challenge. The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) had immediately preceded him, and the last few sentences of the right hon. Gentleman's speech had been interrupted. He was saying: There must be no place for this trembling, vacillating, cowardly Government, which is leading people backward instead of forward, and we must have a Government that sincerely believes in the possibility of an effective League of Nations, that is prepared to put that principle to the test—[HON. MEMBERS: 'How? By war?']. The right hon. Member for Wakefield did not answer. He continued. Then came the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs who said: I have no hesitation in answering the questions which have been put from the other side of the Committee. Unless it means that (that is war) in the ultimate resort, the League will have no authority."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June; col. 1223, Vol. 313.] Does the right hon. Gentleman think those two sentences very consistent? Do they give to all Europe that clear idea of the League for which the right hon. Gentleman is asking? They seem to lack clarity of thought, which it is very desirable we should have in these great matters. There was a phrase of the right hon. Gentleman for Caithness and Sutherland which seemed to me to be open to similar criticism. He wants a League which will be strong enough by its collective force to deter anyone from going to war. A little later he denounces power politics. What is his policy? What is League policy but a power policy. The whole question is: Can you get sufficient power and put it on the right side? This is claptrap, unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman. It is mere claptrap to pretend that there is a distinction between power policy and using a policy of power for the League. The whole question is, Can you get enough power marshalled by the League either to prevent the carrying out of aggression or to refuse the aggressor success if he does break through?


As the right hon. Gentleman has referred to my alleged use of claptrap, perhaps he will be good enough to give me the opportunity of explaining the perfectly clear distinction between power politics and putting power behind the League. When we talk about nations resorting to power politics, we mean that their policy is guided by the supreme necessity of having at their command, both on their own part and on the part of their allies, sufficient power to defeat a probable enemy, and Lord Grey pointed out in a book of his that in the effort to do that before the War at a certain stage in our relations with France, when he thought France had put herself in the wrong, he began to feel that the control of foreign policy had begun to pass out of our hands, because it was essential for our purposes that France should be strong enough to assist us in the war that we feared against Germany. The opposite conception is quite different. It is that you place behind the League of Nations and the rule of law sufficient power, not to defeat any other particular Power, but to assert the rule of law against any Power in the world whatsoever, not encircling a Power which you fear, but asserting the rule of law which will give protection to all Powers.


That does not really carry the matter much further. The phrase "power politics" is one that is used from platform to platform and that appears in resolution after resolution. The body to which the right hon. Gentleman and I both belonged, and of which I have now ceased to be a member, holds that the League without power is no use. You talk of power politics having the effect of an alliance, but what is the League? It is an alliance of all Powers against any Power that aggresses.


And into which all other Powers may enter.


That is quite true. Take the Franco-Soviet Pact. What is that? Power politics? Is it not an encircling engagement supported by power politics? But why is not Germany a member of it? Because she refused to join it. What about Locarno? Locarno was a mutual guarantee; why is it not a guarantee for Germany now? Because she has denounced it and withdrawn. The distinction made by the right hon. Gentleman is doubly misleading when it is used in connection with armaments, because you must have your armaments and your defence, whether you are pursuing a policy of alliances, or a policy of isolation, or a League policy. That is one of the reasons why the questionnaire, for which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman had some responsibility, was so misleading. It put the issues falsely to the country, and that is why the answers misled many people here at home and more people abroad. That is the basis of the charges which are made against this country. It is there that you find the charge of England being afraid and so on. It is because of answers given by men and women the meaning of which they had not thought out and the meaning of which had not been explained to them, and when they were faced with concrete facts, they were not prepared to do what was necessary to fulfil the vote which they had given.

I do not think there is a great deal of difference between the right hon. Member for Carnarvon and myself. I cannot reconcile the right hon. Member for Carnarvon with himself, but I do not think there is much difference between him and me, and I am not sure that there is a great deal of difference between the right hon. Member for Caithness and me. We three have it in common that it is hopeless to expect every country to go to war in every quarrel. Very well. We are agreed that there are certain cases or that there is a case in which we must go to war. There is the case of our own defence, including in that certainly the defence of the whole Empire. I make no distinction between defending this island and defending any part of the British Empire. There is our own defence, and there is also the defence of the independence of the Low Countries, Belgium and Holland, and of France. Their independence is absolutely bound up with the independence and integrity of our own land. We cannot maintain it if France is conquered or diminished. Those are cases in which I believe every person in this House would be prepared, after using every reasonable effort to prevent war, to take up any challenge which might be thrown down and to fight again to a finish as we fought before.

I agree that to say that we will fight only in those cases, would be to license war everywhere throughout the rest of the world. That is a thing which we have not the right to do, but I think we have, outside these specified limits in which we are prepared to use our whole force, the right to reserve our right of judging each case on its merits and to make our efforts proportionate to our capacity, our interests, and to what other people are doing, to what those who are the immediate victims are doing, and have prepared for, having regard to the dangers which are involved. I venture to think that one of the great difficulties in these years has been that the Covenant was drawn too tightly. It was partly explained away in the resolution of the Assembly to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded, and it was tacitly limited by the Locarno Powers when they pledged themselves to use all their resources in a particular case and did not take the same pledge in every other case, and unless you can get down to the reorganisation of the League, on the basis of realities and on a local body of resistance that is immediately effective, and which the generality of the League can support, I think you will always find that the League will break down in the future as it has broken down in the case of Abyssinia.

I want to call attention to one other subject. The right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland linked Articles 10, 11 and 16 together as Articles which were not to be weakened in any way and which could only be touched to be strengthened. I wondered whether he was going to suggest Article 19. Article 19 appeared later in his speech as an essential Article of the Covenant, as the peaceful method of solution of problems arising out of treaties having become inapplicable or unsuited to the circumstances of the case. I want to put to him and to the Government a problem which is very much exercising my own mind. The Government more than once said that any solution of the Abyssinian question must be acceptable to Abyssina, to Italy and to the League. In terms of Article 10, that is true. At least, it is true that it must be acceptable to Abyssinia. If Article 10 is to be literally interpreted, if we have given and are bound to uphold a pledge to every country that its independence and integrity are guaranteed for all time, how do you expect any country to make a concession under Article 19?

Supposing that Italy at a certain stage of the struggle had indicated her willingness to make peace with Abyssinia on terms which the League thought satisfactory, or reasonable, or which at any rate the League would approve, why should Abyssinia have accepted those terms if Article 10 gave her an absolute guarantee that, whether she accepted or refused, the sanctions would be continued and, if necessary, strengthened? There is an inherent contradiction between Article 10 and Article 19 which, in any revision of the League, ought to be faced. I submit that the guarantee or what would be the guarantee under Article 10 ought to be subject to acceptance of any advice tendered under Article 19, and that other members of the League cannot be held bound to continue to support a belligerent if that belligerent refuses to accept a settlement which in all the circumstances of the case they think equitable or the best that can be obtained. I put this to the Government, because I do not think the contradiction between Article 10 and Article 19 has been brought out in this House before.

Now I come to what is, after all, the real question, the first question which I think must be decided before we can settle exactly what the reform of the League is to be. Who are going to be in it? Above all, what great Powers are going to be in? Is it going to include Germany? In what mood is Germany coming to this Conference? I confess that I have watched the course of events with growing anxiety, not for months only, but for the last few years. I am one of the pre-war generation, and I watched, as some of us did, the anxious course of events in the years preceding the outbreak of the War. I saw in Germany the most mighty military power on the Continent dominating Central Europe, reaching down with her influence into the Balkans, down to the Black Sea, to the Adriatic and to the Mediterranean. I saw Germany arming and arming, I saw her time and again rattling the sabre and issuing practical ultimatums or preferring to carry her way by threats of force rather than by negotiations. I saw her, after refusing the overtures, in which my father had a large share, for an agreement, or it might even be an alliance, with this country, carry on negotiations the only purpose of which, as we now know from the German documents, was to reassure us and to keep us quiet until she should be ready.

I saw agreement after agreement made with Germany. Each was to settle the last outstanding difficulty, each was to bring peace, but each was only a stepping off place for a new demand. We made one agreement with France in 1903 which covered all outstanding points of difference between our two countries—Newfoundland fisheries, the West Coast of Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Siam. We had been on the very edge of war with France, not merely over the West Coast of Africa, or Siam, but over Fashoda, and we should have been at war but for her preoccupations elsewhere at the time. All these questions were dealt with in a spirit of give and take. We settled them, and never since then has France raised any difficulty about any of these points. We paid a price in order that we might have done with these difficulties and have peace and friendship between our two nations. We have received what we have paid for. We have had agreement after agreement with Germany. We have paid our price, but we did not get what we paid for.

I come to these more recent negotiations. The moment chosen by Germany to leave the Disarmament Conference was the moment when the right hon. Gentleman, then our Prime Minister, had gone to Geneva in a real effort to bring the Disarmament Conference to a successful result, and had prepared for it the best scheme that it seemed possible to get at that time, and laid it before the Conference, not without hope of success. At that moment Germany withdrew from the Conference. Then there was the invitation of our Government to Germany to come and discuss a general agreement about armaments which should bind us all and free her from her unilateral disabilities. Germany took that opportunity to announce that she was going to observe those obligations no longer and would settle, not by negotiations, but by a tour de force, the questions which she was asked to discuss. We had the denunciation of the Locarno Treaty and the re-occupation of the Rhineland. I say again that the Locarno Treaty was offered by Germany, the perpetuation of the demilitarisation clauses was offered by her, and the Treaty was freely accepted by every constitutional authority in Germany at the time. It was brushed aside and treated as a scrap of paper, and the demilitarised zone was reoccupied. Then, instead of resisting an act of force with force, but bent on preserving peace if they could, not only our Government, but the other Governments affected, France and Belgium, refrained from any counter action.

My right hon. Friend alluded to-day to the questions which he put to the German Government some time ago. I know no parallel instance of a Government professing a desire for peace and friendly relations with another Government, which has shown such a studied contempt for friendly overtures. It is an ill omen for these new conversations. The further we advance the further Germany recedes. The more we show our willingness to grant, the higher her demands rise. The right hon. Gentleman criticised me for putting my name to a Motion about mandated territories which appears on the Paper of the House. The colonial movement in Germany was confined to a small section and was not favoured by the present Government until quite recent times. Herr Hitler's book, which still circulates unexpurgated in Germany, although English readers have had provided for them a carefully selective edition, treated the colonial ambitions of Imperial Germany as one of the follies in which it had engaged. Why has this demand now become official? The question was raised at Locarno itself. The German delegates were frankly informed that, though as a member of the League they would stand on the same footing as for instance, Italy, which also had no mandates, and be eligible for any new mandates, the territories already mandated were not at the disposal of the League to be given away. I noticed a doubtful phrase in one of the Chancellor's speeches in Germany between the initialling of the Treaty of Locarno and the signature in London; and I repeated my warning so that there should be no misrepresentation.

Now, because we have not maintained the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, because we have used language which seems to hold the door open to surrender, there is a demand for the return of the Mandated Territories or compensation elsewhere. A great many of the Mandated Territories are not ours to return. Are we going to return Tanganyika in face of the protest of the South African Government? My right hon. Friend said to-day that the Government found immense difficulties—moral, political and legal—in the idea of any cession of this kind. Is it not better, above all when you are dealing with a Government with the history of the German Government, to say quite clearly what you mean? I venture to put it to the Committee and the Government that to encourage vague, elastic, expansive hopes is not the way to make any negotiations a success. The great thing is to know how far you are prepared to go, and to let those with whom you have to deal know that within those limits you will do all you can, but that beyond those limits you will not go.

I venture to say that even now the Government would be wise to say that they are not prepared to consider the return of our Mandated Territories, although we will give the fullest and most sympathetic consideration to any economic difficulties which Germany believes to arise as a result of the fact that she has no colonial possessions. I have had a little experience of negotiations. I have watched foreign policy with a certain amount of inside knowledge ever since I first joined the Cabinet 34 years ago. I have never known negotiations helped by encouraging hopes that cannot be realised, and for my part, not only do I think that we have not the right to part with our Mandated Territories to anyone except the people themselves when they become fit to rule and defend them, but I say that I cannot take upon my shoulders the guilt of putting another human being under a Government which refuses in its own country to its own people the rights of citizenship and makes them serfs.

7.45 p.m.


With some parts of the speech of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) I agree, and with others I do not. With the part with which he concluded, referring to the Germon Colonies, I find myself in complete agreement, because I have said the same thing myself in this House: that we cannot contemplate handing over to people who treat their own fellow subjects as they do in Germany, any people for whom we have any trusteeship. That is not the way to deal with the demands of Germany, not by handing back or distributing parts of the British Empire. I believe the right way is by giving free access to our own Colonies, by bringing all the Colonies in Africa under the Mandate system, and by introducing some form of international administration into the existing Mandate areas, so that Germany and others may feel that they are playing their legitimate part in this great work of internation administration. The right hon. Gentleman asked a question regarding the compatibility of Articles 19 and 10 of the Covenant. I should have thought that the possibility of change was really implicit in Article 10, otherwise it would make nonsense. If there is any doubt about it, the change should be made, but I believe that what is necessary is there already.

The right hon. Gentleman dealt with one matter on which I could not agree with him. He referred to the question of introducing an air of reality into our dealings with Abyssinia. Let us do so by all means, but I believe it is a complete illusion to imagine that Italy is firmy seated in Abyssinia. We have been told by Sir Sydney Barton that she occupies only two quite narrow areas of territories there. Large areas are in the hands of the Abyssinians, Gore certainly is, because a government of some kind is functioning there, and I believe that if the Emperor were to go back there he would have no difficulty in rallying to himself the great mass of the population, who would be glad to acknowledge his leadership. I hope His Majesty's Government will not put any obstacle in the way of the return of the Emperor to Abyssinia. It is said, and I believe there is foundation for it, that at the present time they are doing everything they can to obstruct and to prevent the Emperor going back to his own country. That would be the most shameful thing of all, and I hope that we shall have some assurance from the Under-Secretary when he replies to-day that the Government have not interfered and will not interfere with any desire the Emperor may have to go back there. The reality is very different from what the right hon. Gentleman said. I believe the issue is not yet settled in Abyssinia. It may be years before the question which of those two countries is in effective occupation of the whole area is settled, and we certainly ought not to prejudge it.

The Foreign Secretary to-day made a very wide sweep in choosing his subjects, and he dealt with them in his usual attractive manner. He made some important statements, and in particular referred to the withdrawal of the assurances which had been given in respect of the Mediterranean to certain Powers there. That was a very important statement, which is going to have reactions. It is intended that it should have reactions in Italy. After all, those assurances were made, as he told me at Question Time one day, under the Covenant of the League of Nations, and it was merely the technical step taken to carry out the Covenant. Although those assurances may have been withdrawn, we are still bound by our obligations under the Covenant to go to the assistance of those countries if they are attacked by an aggressor. The Foreign Secretary, towards the conclusion of his speech, read a certain number of extracts from speeches made at the last meeting of the Assembly supporting the view that sanctions ought to be abandoned. Of course it was very easy for him to do that. We, having started the race in running away, could not expect other countries on their own to get up and openly to oppose us. They joined in the general sauve qui peut which took place, and the right hon. Gentleman can find no satisfaction or defence in those speeches made after the decision was taken.

The remark made by the Foreign Secretary which really showed the difference between the two sides in this House was this: When he was describing the purpose for which we require our armaments, and trying to get, so far as he could, agreement between the two sides, he said, "Our forces are required for home defence, and they may be used to help the victim of aggression." That is the whole point, that they "may" be used; they may or may not. The only word for them which would give any satisfaction to those who believe in the collective system of the League is that they "will" be used. Only the certain knowledge throughout the whole world that our forces will certainly be used every time against an aggressor can prevent war.


Every time?




That was not the policy announced by the right hon. Gentleman.


Naturally you would have to use the appropriate sanction, and I do not say that the right sanction for us to use in South America is a military sanction. You would have in the first place to use your economic and financial sanction, certainly in Europe. It must be known that just as we would use our forces in any attack on the British Empire in any part of the world, so we would use them to resist any attack on any League member in any part of the world. If that were known, and other countries did the same thing, the idea of any war occurring again in the world could be completely ruled out. But the phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman still leaves it open for countries all over the world to say: "Will they be used in our case?" There is uncertainty, and after the betrayal of Abyssinia, to whom we broke our pledged word under Article 10 of the Covenant, it is perfectly clear that our forces cannot be relied on to back up the collective system. That is the quarrel that we on this side have with the Government. Judging by the policy they have carried out we cannot trust them to use for the collective system the forces which are being voted. The Foreign Secretary can only say that they may be used for that purpose, but is not prepared to say that they will be.

Two Conferences have been held recently to which reference has been made, and I should like to say a word about the Montreux Conference. It is true that it has set an excellent example to Germany of the way in which a peaceful change should be carried out. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a particular solution which was adopted, under which access was to be given to any country which had an agreement under the League to which Turkey was a party, but he did not refer to the fact that that proposal was opposed by the British Government until they finally had to give way. The way the British Government acted throughout that Conference is open to very much criticism. My impression of what happened is that our Government first of all said they were in general agreement with the Turkish plan and the Soviet plan; then, being informed by Germany that she had certain objections, they turned right round and opposed the plan; and finally, when they were told by the Russian Government that unless they changed their attitude the Russian Government would leave the Conference, they changed once again and joined in the final agreement which was reached. We have there another example of the uncertain and vacillating policy of the British Government, which changed twice during the Montreux Conference according to which country happened to be putting pressure on it at the time.

With regard to the Five-Power Conference, we all agree that it is a very good thing to get those Powers together. We hope it will be the beginning of a final settlement. It will be a remarkable achievement indeed if it does lead to anything of the kind, in view of the immense difficulties of the situation. It would clear out of the way a lot of difficulties in the past, and we do not want to go into them too much, but we must remember this in the present situation. Some months ago, after the Rhineland occupation, it was a question of how far different countries could trust the word of Germany in any future undertaking she might enter into. Now it is a question of how far our word can be trusted, in view of the way we went back on it in the case of Abyssinia. There are many Powers in the world which are feeling, as we felt about Germany, that it is not possible to rely on the word of the British Government to carry out any obligation it may undertake. The Government adopted their policy of running away from their obligations with, no doubt, a specific object in view. They wanted to re-form the Stresa front, and get Italy back into co-operation in Europe. I hope they now realise that running away has not even paid. Abyssinia was sacrificed for nothing. Italy has not come in. Italy is putting up her price, she thinks she has got us on the run, and it would have been much better and more dignified to have stuck to the obligation that we had.

But when this conference comes about there is only one question that really matters, and that is that we want to get in those States which will co-operate loyally in assisting to preserve world order through the collective system. It is a question which can be asked of other States, and it is a question which can be asked of us, because, as I have been saying, it is not known how far we can be relied on to do so. I hope it will be definitely agreed that no settlement in the West only, leaving the East open for attack, could be regarded as satisfactory for a single moment. I hope it will be possible to bring into the agreement all the great Powers and as many other Powers in the League as possible; but, if we cannot, then we must go as far as we can. We must get those who will loyally and willingly co-operate in the collective system. At present the number is very small—Great Britain, France and Belgium, with a definite binding Staff arrangement of a collective kind such as I should like to see developed on a very wide scale; because unless there are Staff arrangements ready to be put into force automatically, and agreed on beforehand, it is of very little use. We ought to extend those Staff conversations—if possible to Germany, by all means, and certainly to Russia. We should then get the northern Scandinavian States, Holland, Turkey, and no doubt others if it were going to be a really genuine working thing.

If under the conditions of a freely negotiated world plan for peace of this character, any country stood out and complained of encirclement, I say that it would be rightly encircled. Any country which refused to come into this system we are now going to work out at this Conference ought to be encircled. It must be encircled for the safety of the peace of the world, and it has no right whatever to complain, or to say that we are doing it because we do not like the particular country or the way in which it rules itself. It has been rightly said that to preserve the status quo is not enough, and that some machinery must be devised for making Article 19 of the Covenant function. There must be some method of peaceful change. The countries that take part in this conference will all have to accept the idea of third-party judgment in any dispute that may arise among them. We ought to try to set up something in the nature of a tribunal in equity, that could deal with non-justiciable disputes in the same way as the Permanent Court of International Justice now deals with justiciable disputes. That arises out of the practice of this and other countries, and any dispute, having been so decided, ought to be given the force of law and maintained by the League, just as judicial decisions are arrived at in this country.

It was the most disappointing part of the speech of the Foreign Secretary, and extremely unsatisfactory, and it will be so felt in the country as a whole, that he was unable to give any indication of the policy of the Government towards reform of the League. It is a monstrous situation that the House of Commons is to adjourn for three months, during which important conference decisions are to be made, and that we are not to be told what the policy of the British Government is. I dare say the reason is that they are not clear in their own minds what the policy is going to be. If that is so, we have the right to press them very strongly. Whether their decision satisfies hon. Members of the extreme right, the extreme left or the middle, is not the point; the country is entitled to know what policy the Government will put forward at Geneva. I thought that the excuse he gave that, after all, this was a matter for the League and that it would be out of place for us to talk about it, was singularly ineffective. It did not deter him, in the case of the abandonment of sanctions to Italy, from getting up here, before it has been discussed at Geneva, and giving a lead to the whole world for the retreat, a lead which had to be followed. His getting up here and stating his view pre-judged the whole thing. I disagree with the view he stated, but I think he was right in stating his view.

That was an admirable precedent for getting up and stating the policy of the Government in this matter. The people of this country and of the whole world are interested to know what it is. I would stress the point that a League which did not possess Articles 10, 16 and 19 would be an instrument of no use at all in maintaining peace and order in the world. There is only one alternative to a League of that kind, and that is force; not only the rule of force but the rule of gangster force; force, not in the hands of a world authority, but in the hands of States and dictators who run riot and take whatever they want.

I would like to refer to one or two examples, and, first, to the case of Danzig, mentioned by the Foreign Secretary. I happened to be in Danzig last September, on the occasion of the famous reception that was given by the High Commissioner, when the German battleship was visiting the city. The High Commissioner had, naturally, invited all the leading representatives in Danzig to be present. When the Nazis found out that the leaders of the Opposition were present at the reception they immediately gave orders that everyone with whom they were concerned was to march out at once, and they all turned round and marched out. That was a very good example of Nazi manners and mentality. The same thing has occurred again quite recently. Everything that the Foreign Secretary said with regard to Mr. Lester was true. He has carried out his duties with great distinction and great acceptability. Everybody, whether they agreed with him or not, personally praised him, and thought that he had done his best to carry out his duties impartially. The new decrees and new laws which have been put into force by the Nazi Government in the last few days appear completely to have destroyed the League Constitution that exists at Danzig at the present time. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will soon be in a position to deal with that matter, and that the League will take some form of action.

The League cannot do it unless it is an effective League. That is the whole point. Mr. Lester himself has actually about three clerks. That is his staff. Really, he has behind him, in addition to those three clerks—or he ought to have—potentially the whole force of every member of the League of Nations. If that were realised by the authorities in Danzig, it would relieve the situation. Not only will Memel be taken in due course, but the Polish corridor and Gdynia. All these things are bound to follow in their order, unless you make a success of the collective system.

May I now say a word about the Austro-German agreement. Anything that postpones strife, for even a short time, is to be welcomed, but I am afraid that it is only postponing trouble in that area. I am afraid it means that Germany realises that she cannot get Austria at the present time without coming up against the military forces of Italy, and that therefore the Germans are turning their eyes in other directions; I rather think towards the Northeast.

We were all pleased that the Austrian Government have felt able, during the last week or two, to release a large number of prisoners, both of the right and of the left. It would be wise and helpful to those who desire to assist Austria and any democratic country, if they could go still further and release, as perhaps they intend, not only those who have been in prison but who have been detained by administrative procedure by the police, and of whom there are many thousands. I believe the result would be of a very happy nature and would influence the feelings of many people, at any rate in this country, towards the Austrian Government. If we are expected to carry out our obligations towards Austria, we are entitled to say to her, in a friendly way: "Is your Government representative? Does it contain all the main elements of the country?" I am afraid that a very satisfactory answer to that question could not be given at the present time. If it were possible to bring into the Austrian Government some of the democratic elements, I believe that would go a long way towards strengthening their position in the world. One cannot help feeling that another country which is threatened, if we do not make a success of the League, is that excellent, democratic, new country, Czechslovakia. It is a very dangerous position, and only a strong League can save it.

It has been recently said that war is inevitable. I noticed that one of the Ministers, the other day, criticised that remark. War is inevitable if the policy of the present Government is maintained unchanged, a policy of weakness, irresolution, failing to carry out our obligations, treachery and cowardice. That means certain war in the world, and it means not only war but—and this will be of particular interest to the Secretary of State for War, who is now on the Government Front Bench—it means a divided nation. It is all very well to scoff at the attitude of the Labour party towards recruitment and arming, but the Opposition represent a good many people in the country. If you go into war with the nation divided, you run a great risk, unless there is a clear, definite, collective, League issue appealing to the idealism of the country, of mass opposition, of a refusal to make munitions and a refusal to serve. There are people organising at the present time—I do not happen to agree with them—by the hundred thousand to resist all kinds of military service whatever. That is why I think it is important for the Government to endeavour, even now, to see whether, by consultation between leaders of the parties, they can arrive at some united policy.

War is not inevitable and can be prevented, if the Government go back to the policy on which they won the General Election such a short time ago. Then they had a nation united on their foreign policy, fired by their idealism and willing, I believe, to go all lengths in its defence. If the Government should go back there, they could save the situation. I press upon the Government most earnestly, that, even at this late hour, they should see how far it may be possible, by consulting the leaders of the other parties, to arrive at an agreed programme of Defence and for peace and security. In that way and in that way alone can we take steps which will go a very long way to saving this country and the world.

8.13 p.m.


I trust that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not follow him into all the ramifications of his arguments. Deeply as I respect his championship of the League, I profoundly disagree with most of what he says. When I tell the Committee that it is with some trepidation that I rise to speak at all on foreign policy, I am sure that he will be prepared to excuse me for not following his lead. I rise to address the Committee only because I am aware that hon. Members are always courteous to a new Member who believes that he has something to say upon which he feels very deeply and sincerely. My object in these few minutes is to draw attention to what I believe is the core of our future problem, the coercive Clauses of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and to provoke discussion. This is a question which is puzzling me, and I hope that by trailing my coat around the Committee I shall get answers to some of the points which I do not understand.

There is the greatest confusion and disquiet in the public mind at the present time as to these coercive Clauses in particular, and to collective security in general. In view of the recent failure, the man-in-the-street says to himself that it has proved neither collective nor secure, and that it has benefited no one but the aggressor. He is bound to know that the situation in Europe is infinitely worse than it was a year ago, and that he is in the midst of collective insecurity. He realises that the coercive Clauses have failed, and not the least of his difficulties comes, as he realises, there is a difference of opinion among our great Dominions as to the exact future policy that we should follow. I should like to congratulate His Majesty's Government on their intention to review the whole working of the League in the light of the recent experience. I believe that the average non-politically minded citizen in this country agrees with the statement of Mr. de Valera in the Dail on the 18th June: As far as we are concerned, we are satisfied that the League, as it was, can no longer command the confidence of the ordinary people in the world. It does not command our confidence. Therefore, the League of Nations, unless it is reformed, is not of advantage to us, and I do not think it would be, in its present form, of advantage to humanity in general. These are very strong words. I wish to make it quite clear that I have the most profound belief that the League ideal must ultimately succeed. I also reflect that war has been a condition in the heart of man ever since Cain slew Abel, and I ask myself, why should we expect to change the heart of man in the brief space of 10 or 20 years? I believe that the ideal for which we are searching will be accomplished in the course of generations, and I cannot see how we can expect to get a drastic change of heart by an immediate application of an international law. One speaker in this House on the Treaty of Peace Bill said that President Wilson had 14 points, but he had forgotten the 15th, namely, human nature, and that, I believe, is the great problem which confronts us. M. Herriot recently declared that, in the matter of the League, Great Britain had become the conscience of Europe. If that be true, then the best friend of the League to-day is he who will cast aside its incantations, who will strip down the cardboard castles behind which we felt we might have security, and who, in the words of the Epistle to the Corinthians, will burn away the wood, hay and stubble and show us the deep foundations. However small they may be, I believe we can build upon them something for the lasting peace of the world.

The battle in September is going to rage round the question of these coercive Clauses. The great Dominions already see this clearly, and yet it is a very important fact that there appears to be a marked division of opinion. When hon. Gentlemen opposite expect the Foreign Secretary to give a clear statement of the proposals of the British Government next September, I would point out that even in our own Empire there is division of opinion, and that exchange of views has to take place over vast distances. Surely it must be obvious that it is unreasonable to expect my right hon. Friend to put forward a clear and comprehensive policy at this stage. The exchange of views is most important. Although our great Dominions are independent countries, with independent seats on the Council it is of vital importance that we should go to Geneva with something like a united outlook, and I trust that my right hon. Friend is carrying on the most careful negotiations with the Dominions so that we may arrive at a common point of view. This division is to be seen in the utterances of some of our Dominion Statesmen. General Smuts, speaking at Kroonstad in South Africa on the 25th June, after saying how much he approved of General Hertzog's outlook, said: I still believe that sanctions constitute the most powerful weapon to preserve the peace of the world. A marked contrast was furnished by the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King, who, speaking at Ottawa on the 20th June, visualised the future role of the League as that of conciliation. He said he saw it as a clearing house for international relations, and an agency for promoting mutual good will and measures of conciliation and disarmament, rather than as an organisation committed to enforce its views and decisions by the exercise of preponderating military or economic power and to guarantee the territorial status of any country. In another speech, or it may have been the same speech, he declared that: Successive Canadian Governments had opposed the view of Geneva as 'an international War Office.' The Prime Minister of Australia has declared very strongly in favour of revision of the League, and an interesting personal point of view—I wish to emphasise that it was personal and unofficial—was expressed by the Attorney-General of Australia, who, when he was speaking in Westminster Hall not very long ago, made this striking statement as a personal contribution: But I do not believe for one moment that your new Covenant can, in the present state of public opinion in the world, be a Covenant which involves, for example, the making of war on behalf of the Covenant. That is a very clear statement from a very important oversea statesman. I trust that these differing points of view will be reconciled before September.

I come to the core of my speech, and ask what the coercive Clauses have achieved so far. In the first place, they have kept America from ratifying the Covenant, from ratifying the whole idea of the League. Secondly, they drove Germany out of the League, because I would point out that the coercive Clauses formed a kind of collective guarantee for France. The alteration of the Treaty of Versailles would have been impossible without the consent of France, and had Germany determined by forcible methods to alter that treaty, at once the coercive clauses would have been put into effect. Therefore, I think it is reasonable to say that the coercive clauses have prevented us from granting to Germany that equality which has been such a sore point with her. Then the coercive clauses led the great Powers to buoy up Abyssinia with a hope that could not be fulfilled. I believe, and I think the historian will prove, that His Majesty's Government took the lead on every possible occasion, and that, whatever fault may be found in the future, the finger of accusation will not be pointed at the Government at present in office in regard to this matter of Abyssinia. I believe that to be true. Had I not believed it, I should not have supported the Government in the Division Lobby when this matter was voted upon.

Fourthly, we have been lulled by the coercive clauses into the belief that it was safe to disarm. We believed that over-long, and we are beginning to find the cost. Looking at the other side of the picture, we find that the coercive clauses have accelerated the increase of armaments, because the position in the Mediterranean to-day is not what it was before the application of sanctions; we have had to have increased forces there. I shall not touch in detail upon such matters as the loss of trade which the coercive clauses have brought about, because we would gladly pay any material amount to achieve that world peace which we desire, but that is a factor not to be overlooked. On the other hand, one may ask, whom have the coercive clauses benefited? The answer is, the aggressor. I was in Italy in July of last year. There was no enthusiasm then for this Abyssinian adventure, but by propaganda, by misrepresenting almost every action taken by this country, the people of Italy have been welded together into a solid whole. The application of the coercive clauses—of sanctions—has intensified the economic nationalism of Italy, and we shall find that trade will suffer as a result.

Why did these coercive Clauses fail? There are four reasons—first, that the Covenant is ahead of the development of the peoples; secondly, that the League lacks universality of membership and outlook; thirdly, that in its present form the League ignores some of the first principles on which it was founded; and, fourthly, that the world is passing through one of those chronic periods of readjustment which crop up in history from time to time. The Prime Minister went to the very root of the problem when he declared in a recent speech that he doubted whether, in their present stage of development, the peoples of Europe would march except in defence of their own frontiers. That is very true, and it is as true of our own people as of any of the Continent. We had evidence of this when in the recent dispute we had the reluctance of a great Power to offend an ally in the matter of sanctions. That reluctance may have caused sanctions to fail. It is quite possible. We had the figures of the exports of Italy to various sanctionist countries, which are a striking evidence of the frailty of human nature. The fact that it was possible for the imports of one sanctionist country from Italy to go up while that country was supposed to be applying sanctions speaks strikingly for itself.

To turn to our own people, at the time of the staff talks with France I made a point of questioning young men of military age. In almost every case I was met with the rejoinder that the young man in question was not prepared to fight to defend French territory. When it was pointed out how much French territory was linked up with our own defence, the attitude was somewhat modified, but if our young men of fighting age are not keen about a thing which so vitally affects them, is it any good bluffing ourselves that they will willingly go here, there and everywhere to join in every scrap that may be going in the name of collective security?

Turning to the possibilities of the future, if Germany attacks Russia and Russia appeals to the League against the aggressor, do hon. Members sincerely believe that our young men will rush to pull the Soviet chestnuts out of the fire? Yet we should have a clear obligation if the appeal were made. Would any hon. Member opposite have sent a man to fight in Abyssinia to retrieve the possession of that country from the Italians? I do not believe so. Yet this question of man-power is important. If you are going to increase your collective security or coercive clauses, or have international forces, how about the question of man-power? It is no good saying, because the wish is father to the thought, that we shall make our contribution by air or by sea. Everyone knows that in the long run it is the man with the bayonet who has to hold the position and, therefore, the question of man-power is important. Are we to be driven to the point, in view of the difficulty we are having in the matter of recruiting, of saying that conscription is the natural corollary to collective security? I am certain that the development of our people has not yet reached that stage.

If you want further evidence of the lack of faith in the coercive clauses and collective security, look at the tangle of alliances on the Continent. They are opposed to and are not the complement of collective security. These groups of alliances or pacts may cause the very type of war which collective security is designed to stop. I do not believe that the two things can run side by side. I do not believe you can have groups of alliances and collective security at the same time. If you come back to those first principles of which I spoke, you will find the words of President Wilson most striking. He said there could be No leagues or alliances or special covenants and understandings within the general and common family of the League of Nations. That is the extent to which we have departed from first principles. I could understand temporary alliances immediately after the War, when France was nervous, but if there is any faith in collective security and the coercive clauses we ought not even to have to give guarantees in the case of Belgium. I solemnly submit that, until you have reached the stage when nations will forgo their sovereignty to the extent of casting alliances aside and relying entirely on collective security, collective security will not be a reality.

May I now touch upon the second great thing which, to my mind, weakened the League recently, that is its lack of universality in membership and in outlook. President Wilson envisaged the League as universal. We have seen in the matter of economic sanctions how absolutely necessary America was to that line of policy. We have been trying to run before we could walk. It may be even better to forgo some of the coercive clauses and go back along the road a little, to frame a Covenant which the people of Europe can accept unreservedly and which will leave the door sufficiently open for America to be able to subscribe her name. It is of vital importance at this stage in the history of mankind that the two great English-speaking nations should get together and keep together. I believe that, if you could get America to Geneva on non-coercive terms, in the course of time that great country would see the necessity of having some sort of guarantee of force behind the Covenant of the League. I think it worth making great efforts and great sacrifices to try to get America to come in. After all, the Treaty of Peace, which includes the Covenant, was carried by a majority in the American Senate, though it was not a two-thirds majority and, as ex-President Taft indicated at a banquet to the King, then Prince of Wales, in New York, we must be patient with America. He added that the overwhelming opinion of the great mass of people was in favour of some such scheme as the League of Nations. These offer very great hopes, and I trust we shall pursue them and try to get the great English-speaking nations together, because they were envisaged in the first place as the co-guarantors of the League. It was Mr. O'Connor from these benches, during the discussion on the Treaty of Peace Bill, who said he regarded America and the British Empire as the co-guarantors of the League and declared that without America the League of Nations is a vision and a snare. I do not know how far hon. Members will be prepared to support that view. I feel that one of the fundamental causes of all the weakness that we have experienced in the League in recent years has been due to the fact that America, which conjured up the great idea, was not in it, and we should make great efforts and great sacrifices to get her to come in.

Next in point of universality is the vital necessity to us to have countries like Germany and Japan back in the League. It is going to be very difficult, for the simple reason that a dictator country like Italy, which one might say is nominally a member of the League, has declared that in any revised League the coercive clauses must go. Germany has implied the same thing by her refusal to negotiate until sanctions were lifted. So we have this position. If you desire these two great Powers to be in the League, you have to meet them at some point. Are you prepared to sacrifice your coercive clauses? I think we have to mark time. There is bound to be an interregnum in the history of the League. Time is a factor which is important, because we have to wait to a certain extent for a change of outlook in the dictator countries. It is important that we should all get together, because I believe, with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), that ultimately the real genuine sanction of the League is going to be the moral sanction, and that will depend on its universality, and I do not think in the meantime we ought to saddle the League with the responsibility of making war.

I have condemned alliances as being opposed to collective security. I do not believe that we are ready for collective security. These alliances will come out in some form or other in any revised covenant of the League for the reason that nations have not the pluck to throw them aside. It would be far better and far more honest to recognise the fact that the Covenant for future years is to be based upon regional security rather than to go on using the slogan "Collective security," which in a great many cases means little or nothing. We have to settle this great question for the future as to whether the League of Nations is to be a peace bureau or a war office. That is the important thing we have to settle, and it may be better to have it sneered at as a conference room than to have it cursed in later years as the voting office of Armageddon.

I am afraid that I have kept the Committee longer than I intended, but I conclude with these remarks. There is already one genuine League of Nations, and that is the British Commonwealth of Nations. I see no reason why, in the course of time, the ideals which have inspired us should not inspire foreign countries as well. There is this difference between the two of us. Whereas the British Commonwealth of Nations has a common faith and outlook, which has all the burning zeal of a religious creed, this is lacking in the League of Nations to-day, and until we have that burning zeal we cannot hope to get true collective security. In the meantime it is absolutely vital to keep the British League of Nations intact, and that you should have necessary defences to that end, and that you should try your best to keep the Empire out of war. I say to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that the Covenant that the people of this country desire is a covenant which will tend to keep us out of war rather than to rush us into war here, there and everywhere. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has earned the undying gratitude of his fellow countrymen in keeping this nation out of war in the recent dispute, and if, in the days immediately ahead, he can still keep us out of war, that gratitude will increase a thousand times, and not least in the hearts of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I thank the Committee for their most courteous attention to a maiden speech.

8.39 p.m.


I feel sure that I shall be expressing the views of every hon. Member in the Committee when I congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Chapman) upon a most distinguished maiden speech. All of us derived very great pleasure in listening to him, and we shall anticipate with equal pleasure any future contributions which he may make to our Debates. We are supposed this evening to be endeavouring to clarify our minds with regard to foreign affairs before we depart for the vacation, and to assist us in that endeavour the Foreign Secretary addressed the Committee—I do not complain at all—at considerable length, touching upon a number of points this afternoon. If I remember aright he spoke upon some eight subjects, ranging from Danzig to Egypt, Spain, Mandated Territories and what not.

It is impossible in the short time I intend to occupy the attention of the Committee to discuss each and every one of those subjects, but I propose to make a passing reference to one or two of them. First of all, I will ask this general question. I said that we were trying to clarify our minds and that the Foreign Secretary has tried to assist us. In what particular can we say that we are better informed as to Government policy now than we were before the Foreign Secretary spoke? In what particular do we know the Government policy in regard to Danzig? Do we know what the Government policy is in regard to Egypt, the reform of the League and Mandated Territories? Is there one of the subjects discussed this afternoon, with the one exception, namely, the Dardanelles, upon which we have really been given definite knowledge? And we need not thank the right hon. Gentleman for telling us anything about the Dardanelles. The only assurance he could give us was as to what is to happen to the Dardanelles in time of peace. In time of war goodness only knows what will happen. I am afraid that the agreement which has been settled will not help us at all in that direction.

I will pass from the question of Danzig and come to the question of Egypt. We are all agreed that there is some cause for rejoicing that some agreement has been arrived at between ourselves and Egypt so far as military clauses are concerned. I was interested in hearing the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) this afternoon upon this matter. How many of us on this side will fail to remember when the occasion exactly six years ago, on the day on which we rose for the holidays, there was a violent attack made on the late Mr. Arthur Henderson by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) upon this very subject of a settlement in Egypt for having laid down precisely the terms of settlement which are now being accepted by the Government with open arms? It is an astonishing thing how the Government from time to time accept light and learning from people on this side of the House. To-night we are grateful that they have tried to imitate us even though it be six years later.

I turn to another subject which is interesting us all at this particular time, namely the question of Spain. The right hon. Gentleman, I admit, adopted the correct attitude from the diplomatic point of view with regard to Spanish events, and I am not asking the Government to take sides one way or the other; but I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether he will be good enough to invite his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to enlighten us upon this point. There are rumours abroad that Germany and Italy are facilitating the sending of armaments into Spain to support the rebel forces through Lisbon and Portugal. That is a very serious matter. It is important not merely for us in particular, but for Europe in general. I am sure that we all appreciate that the point at issue in Spain is really whether democracy is to establish itself on a permanent basis in Spain or otherwise. The right hon. Gentleman himself said in his speech this afternoon that Europe has become the battleground between the forces of democracy and liberty on the one hand and the forces of reaction and Fascism on the other hand. We regard this fight in Spain as a matter of vital interest to Europe, and indeed to the world at large. We are, therefore, asking the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary whether he will be so good as to give us an assurance that the Government themselves look upon this matter from an appropriate standpoint from a governmental point of view. It is the authorised government appointed by the people that is being challenged by the Fascists in Spain at this moment, and if we have any sort of comfort to give to anyone in Spain, it should be given to the constitutional authority in Spain at the moment.

Captain McEWEN

Can the hon. Gentleman say where the Communists come in?


The Communists, I believe, are associated with the government forces at this moment in Spain. They are connected with constituted authority, and that should rejoice the hon. and gallant Gentleman very much. There is no Government responsibility about this, but we should make quite clear, that we have noticed the half-expressed desire on the part of some sections of the British Press to see these democratic forces being beaten in Spain. They can easily talk to us as to how sacred they consider the principle of democracy in this country, but they have scarcely been able to conceal their desire to see democracy beaten finally in Spain.

I turn to the Conference of the Locarno Powers. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the Government do not regard the discussion this week as final, but that it is preliminary to a larger conference, let us hope, a Five-Power Conference. If a Five-Power Conference comes and some sort of agreement is reached, we should like to know something of its implications. Germany has made it clear that she is ready at any moment to give expression and effect to her willingness to make the Western part of Europe safe from aggression. What does this particular emphasis in regard to the Western European front being made safe from aggression, imply? Does it mean a desire on the part of Germany to have a free hand in regard to Russia and Eastern Europe? We ought to have from the Government a clear declaration on that point. Where do they stand? Are they content to arrive at an agreement with Germany in regard to Western Europe and to leave Germany a free hand in Eastern Europe?

That question derives additional importance from an observation which fell from a previous speaker. He asked how many hon. Members on this side believed that a British Government would be prepared to ask the young people of this country to go to the defence of Russia, if Russia were attacked by Germany? What would the attitude of the Government be in that matter? An answer to that question is vital from the standpoint of European well-being, because you cannot get European peace unless you look at Europe as a whole, as an entity, and treat it as a whole, and not embark upon this rather curious and ill-defined policy of Western European regional pacts. Regional pacts might conceivably lead to a series of alliances here and there in Europe which might give us precisely a counterpart of what happened in Europe before 1914. Therefore, we ask the Government what is to be the object of a Five-Power Conference. If we get agreement, say, between this country, France, Belgium, Germany and Italy, well and good, but we want to know whether that is the end of the journey or only a step further on the road towards peace.

Now I come to the next point, which is more fundamental still, and here again I would ask for light and leading. What do the Government mean by the phrase, "reform of the League"? There are plenty of people in all parties who believe that the Covenant of the League is capable of emendation. I agree with the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) on that point. The provision, for instance, which demands complete unanimity in certain cases ought to be abrogated. Suppose, however, Articles 10, 11 and 16 were altered. Have we any guarantee that if Italy accepted that alteration of the Covenant, with Articles 10, 11 and 16 changed, she would then abide by the Covenant? It is no use going to the trouble of altering the Articles of the Covenant unless we can rely upon absolute fidelity to treaties and covenants. That is the fundamental trouble and the cause of what has been happening in European affairs and in Abyssinia. It is not simply that we think that there are matters in the Covenant which require improvement here and there; what we complain of is that a nation which has deliberately and of set purpose committed its signature to a document has been allowed to break it with impunity. You can change your League a thousand times, but if the members will not abide by their agreement the League Covenant, though amended, will be utterly useless. Therefore, the fundamental issue remains. It is not at bottom a question of the exact terminology of the Articles, but it is a question of fidelity to agreements, duly sealed and signed.

There is the further consideration that the moment you have a League you involve yourselves in the concept of collective security. It is involved in that, if you pledge yourselves to a common document, with common security, that you must safeguard that collective security. I have never been able to feel sure that the Government mean the same thing as we do when they use the phrase "collective security." My conception of collective Security is that if any member of the League is attacked by another member of the League or any aggressor, all the others pledge themselves, within their power and according to their ability, to make a collective effort to safeguard the aggrieved member of the League. The Government profess to believe that principle, but they have been hiding behind the garment of collective security in order to build for themselves enormous armaments. The Noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State laughs. Let me test the matter. Have the Government ever gone to the League and asked the other members of the League what contributions they are prepared to make to collective security?


The hon. Gentleman asks me a question and I will answer. Our conception of collective security is the same as his. That is common ground. He says that the forces of order must be stronger than the forces of disorder. We say the same thing, but we believe that our method is the one that is most practical and the most likely to produce the result we all wish for.


Perhaps the Noble Lord will think I am too inquisitive, but may I repeat my innocent question? Have the Government ever gone to their fellow-members in the League and invited them to discuss what they mean by collective security? Have they asked France, Belgium and the others to say how much they are prepared to contribute to the common pool against the aggressor?


I think the suggestion of the hon. Member would be a singularly impracticable way to go about it. He asks what would they be prepared to put into the common pool against the aggressor, but he does not say who the aggressor is. Nobody knows who the aggressor is going to be and nobody knows, therefore, what the size of the common pool would have to be. Nobody could negotiate with other members of the League asking them what they would do against each other in uncertain circumstances. It could not be carried out in that way. All that we can expect in this very imperfect world is for every member of the League to do its very utmost to see that the forces of order are stronger than the forces of disorder. The hon. Member's proposition is absolutely impracticable to carry out.


Very well, I will not press that point further. So far as I have been able to discover there have been no attempts to discuss this point in the League of Nations, but when we come to the question of the three powers, Britain, France and Belgium, vis-a-vis Germany, they take the most elaborate precautions in regard to collective security. They even invite the staffs to negotiate together; they go into the most meticulous details. If the League of Nations undertook a job like that it would be beginning to realise what some of us mean by collective security.

I pass to the question of armaments. The right hon. Gentleman made an elaborate and well-intentioned appeal and I cannot blame him for having made it, but I want to recall this fact: The question of armaments is not a new story. Ever since 1931 we have consistently challenged the foreign policy of this Government. What has been our reward? I do not exaggerate. We have been laughed at, scoffed at, sneered at and derided for five years. Our appeals have fallen on deaf ears. We invited the Government to turn the Disarmament Conference into a reality and they scoffed at us. We warned the Government of what was happening in the Far East, and they laughed at us. They have never taken seriously into consideration a single contribution that we have made. Now, when danger threatens, they invite us to forget the lot. The appeal comes a little too late. We will vote against the main Estimates for these Service Votes. It is not good enough for the Government party to make out that it will be a vote against all armaments. Let me remind them of this fact: They voted against our Estimates in 1929, in 1930 and in 1931. They did not vote against the Service Estimates but they voted against the health Estimates and the education Estimates. What did they mean? Did they mean that they were against all health services and all education services? Of course not. It was their constitutional way of demanding redress of grievances before Supply was given. It is our old constitutional principle. The Opposition has a right to withhold Supplies when it wants to secure redress of grievances.

This is our way. Armaments and foreign policy are linked up together. Given a good foreign policy and we are well on the way to a good disarmament policy. But follow the present bad foreign policy of the Government and our armaments policy follows almost automatically. We are against the foreign policy of the Government. It is wrong, it is inimical to the State, and because we consider it unjustifiable, not only during the last six months but over the whole course of years during which the Government have been in office, we shall challenge the natural conclusion of this bad policy in the Division Lobby.

8.59 p.m.


I had no intention of taking part in the Debate to-night. I came here to listen to what I knew would be a very momentous declaration by the Foreign Secretary on a very crucial issue, but inasmuch as several pointed allusions have been made, some of them challenging and some quite friendly, I feel that it is necessary for me to intervene. Before I come to the important speech of the Foreign Secretary I feel bound to make some observations on what I am afraid may turn out to be the equally important speech delivered by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain). Let me say one word before I come to his more damaging and I think mischievous utterances, on the references he made to the Treaty of Versailles. I have no quarrel with them except that I think they were a little unfair. I am the last man to defend the Treaty of Versailles in every particular. It was a compromise between a great many conflicting claims, conflicting duties, conflicting traditions, and perhaps even conflicting emotions. You had at the time President Wilson with one attitude of mind and M. Clemenceau who represented very naturally, and I need hardly say very ably, the other. On the whole the position of Britain was rather a middle one.

We had two difficulties. One was that we were negotiating the Treaty immediately after the conclusion of the most devastating war in history, in which millions of our young men had been killed. There was great desolation; France and ourselves were still bleeding from very severe wounds. There was very fierce resentment about certain things which had happened in France, and we felt deeply about incidents of the submarine warfare. It was not what I would call a conciliatory atmosphere. That was the first difficulty. The second difficulty was that we had to make a settlement against time. Every week that we delayed we were keeping millions of men under arms. It was very burdensome and very dangerous to keep men by the million under arms, with absolutely nothing to do, feeling that their jobs had been taken away during the time they were occupying positions in France. We had to hurry up. All that must be taken into account.

I have many times asked the question, what part of the Treaty is it that is objected to? The League of Nations is hailed as a triumph by some of the bitterest critics of the Treaty. The Independent Labour Office is the first effort to try and secure international arrangements with regard to wages and conditions of labour and hours, and it is an essential part of the League. One thing which gave us the greatest trouble was a principle which everybody accepted. I remember that there were two days of continuous sitting of the Cabinet, with every Member present, and we discussed it on Saturday and Sunday without cease. It was the principle of self-determination. Danzig is due to that; the Corridor is due to that; some of the mistakes in regard to Hungary are due to that. We had to adjudicate on the statistics which were submitted to us. There was always a natural bias for the nation which fought on our side, and we were more inclined to accept their contentions than the figures of those who fought against us. I am sorry that we were not justified in that conclusion in many cases. There are parts of Hungary which were given over to Czechoslovakia on unchallengeable statistics, which shows what dangerous things statistics are, and the proof of it is that they return at the present moment Hungarian members to the Czechoslovak Parliament.

All those things are sources of irritation. The Corridor was one of our very greatest difficulties. If Danzig had been thrown into the Corridor, there would still have been a Polish majority, and Danzig would have become Polish. The best thing we could do was to set up this expedient which very probably will be temporary, in my judgment. I think inevitably that will have to be solved probably by an arrangement between Poland and Germany. Primarily it really concerns those two countries and not the rest of Europe. Those were the difficulties in the application of a principle which was accepted by everybody, and it shows how very much easier it is to lay down a general principle than to apply it rightly and fairly. That is really the basis of the criticism of the Treaty of Versailles.

The other criticism is that the Treaty itself has never been carried out. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham has pointed out another very great difficulty—I am not at all sure that it was not the most fatal of all—and that is that the United States of America, which had taken a very primary part in impressing those principles upon us, backed out of the League. I am not criticising President Wilson. He did his best, but he did not—for reasons into which I need not go at the present moment, although I hope to do so later on under other circumstances—manage to secure the support and adhesion of a very powerful party in the United States, a party which, as a matter of fact, was more powerful than his own. We depended upon the United States on the Reparations Commission. They had no reparations of their own, and therefore we depended upon them to be more or less impartial; but the moment they withdrew we were two and two and France was in the chair, whereas, had it not been for the absence of the United States we should have been three and two, or at any rate America probably would have been in the chair and would have had the casting vote. As it was, the casting vote in every case fell to France. The result was that reparations were very ruthlessly applied, far more ruthlessly and relentlessly than they ought to have been. Ultimately America came in to settle that question, and it has been disposed of; but our idea was that America should come in at the start.

The Treaty never had a fair chance. I want every party in the House to remember that when the Treaty was made, the only criticism I had to meet was a criticism that on the whole it was too favourable to Germany. There was very powerful criticism in France that we did not give the left bank of the Rhine entirely to France. Clemenceau faced that criticism with characteristic courage, but one of the most powerful men in France, Marshal Foch, fought hard against him and defied his chief, and there was a scene in the Council. When I came before the House, Members criticised me very severely because the terms were too favourable to Germany. That was the atmosphere at that time, and when anybody criticises the Treaty of Versailles I want him to bear all those things in mind. I am obliged to my right hon. Friend for the observations he made in regard to that, because he knew all about it.

I am afraid that is the end of my agreement with my right hon. Friend. I very deeply regret the speech which he delivered. I think it was pernicious and provocative. Those are two adjectives which I have no doubt hon. and right hon. Gentlemen could apply to a great many of my speeches as well, but there is this difference, that I am speaking here in a position of complete irresponsibility, except as Member for my constituency. But the right hon. Gentleman is in a very responsible position. He is the Member who wields the whip. He is the one who whipped the Government into sanctions. He is the one who whipped them out of sanctions. He is the one who wielded the whip that drove the First Lord of the Admiralty out of the Government and destroyed the whole of their pact. Those are three great occasions on which he exercised authority, and when my right hon. Friend makes a speech he cannot altogether say, "I am simply the Member for West Birmingham." He is in a very responsible position. I am not sure that he is not the chairman of one of the largest Committees of Members on his side of the House—




At any rate he is really their authentic spokesman. Therefore, everybody in Europe knows that—


I take full responsibility for all that I say, but I do not consult with, and I do not submit my speeches to, anybody else. I can make nobody else responsible for anything I have said. I think I sometimes have the happy knack of expressing the opinion of a large part of the House, but nobody except myself is responsible for my speeches, and I have the fullest responsibility for everything I say.


My right hon. Friend is in the same position as I am. I do not consult anybody and I say exactly what I think; but he has the advantage that he has a larger number of people who obey him. But that does not matter; what matters is that the Press of Europe prints the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman; it prints not merely the speeches of the Foreign Secretary but the right hon. Gentleman's speeches as well, because they always bear in mind that during the last two years the right hon. Gentleman has been a sort of forerunner. He is the bell weather, and the rest follow his lead. That is the dangerous character of the speech which he delivered. I had awaited with great anxiety the decisions to which the Government would come on Thursday last, and I say quite frankly that I was not merely relieved, but very delighted.

It is not often that I am in the position of a supporter of this Government. I am going to ask a question about the fifth proposition—I think there were five propositions—put forward. If that means anything it means that the Government are going to make a genuine effort to put an end to the feud that has lasted for centuries between Teuton and Gaul, which has simply drenched the soil of Europe with blood, not only the blood of Frenchmen and Germans but the blood of Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welshmen, and Irishmen. Century after century we have had this quarrel, and I see here at last the Government are to make a real effort to put an end to that quarrel. If they succeed, it is a very good foundation on which to proceed, to rebuild the League if necessary and to try to secure the peace of the world.

The League of Nations was all right. The ideal was a fine one. I do not think there is very much wrong with the constitution, because it is very elastic. But there was no firm foothold. Why? Because of this quarrel between Gaul and Teuton. The Gaul distrusted the Teuton, or perhaps I may say feared him. The Germans did the same on the other side and they had both good reason. There are times when the Frenchman has devastated Germany cruelly and the German had his revenge. If you go through the pages of history, I do not know where the balance lies. All I know is that it is a ledger of ruin, of slaughter, of war, of rapacity on both sides. If the Government do put an end to that, they will have rendered an immortal service to humanity. Therefore, although I am as strong a critic of the Government as anybody, though I hope a just critic, the moment I saw that, I came here to say "I am glad."

That is what makes me very anxious about the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He entered into a long story of treaties broken and of wrongs inflicted by Germany. That always provokes a recital on the other side, and I will only make this one observation, because I do not want to prolong controversy or to enter into controversy on the matter. If France had honourably carried out the pledges given by her own Prime Minister, under his own hand, to follow the example of Germany in disarming, you would never have had Herr Hitler in power. You would have been dealing with men to-day just like those whom you had before—Simons, Stresemann, Bruening. There have never been three men who had the peace of the world nearer at heart. They were swept away because they did not stand firmly for the pledges given under the Treaty of Versailles as to disarming.

Many a time I asked the Government to produce the document which the right hon. Gentleman saw, which I saw and which four or five others saw, the document prepared by the War Office for our examination showing the armaments of France in 1931—gigantic armaments, millions of reserves. And at that time, remember, Germany had an army of 100,000. Czechoslovakia had an army of nearly 1,000,000 on her borders, with reserves—and it is the reserves that count in a great war. Poland had nearly 2,000,000 on her frontier and France had about 4,000,000. I will show the right hon. Gentleman the document. It is not my document. It is the document of the War Office. It is there and it ought to be published. That was in 1931, 12 years after the signature of the Treaty of Versailles. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to talk about breaches of treaties. He knows quite well that all those pretentious committees and commissions for disarmament were one long manoeuvre and intrigue on the part of the armed Powers of Europe to retain their supremacy.

If you are going to begin that sort of business, I am very glad that the Government have made up their mind to treat all that, on both sides, as a chapter which ought to be closed and to try to begin afresh. I am also glad that they treated Stresa as something which is not to be reopened, because Stresa was practically a combination of three Powers who were to enforce sanctions against Germany in the event of rearmament. It is no use. There is the accomplished fact and it is an accomplished fact upon the basis of something in which there is a great deal of justification for the action of Germany. I am glad that they have treated even the invasion of the Rhineland, even its fortification, as something which you must accept for the moment. You cannot alter it.


And Abyssinia?


I am coming to that; I am not going to shirk anything the right hon. Gentleman has said. The moment the Russo-French Pact was signed, no one responsible for the security of Germany could leave its most important industrial province without defence of any sort or kind when—and here is a thing which is never dwelt upon—France had built the most gigantic fortifications ever seen in any land, where, almost 100 feet underground, you could keep an army of over 100,000 and where you have guns that can fire straight into Germany. Yet the Germans are supposed to remain without even a garrison, without a trench. I am going to say here that if Herr Hitler had not taken some action with regard to that—whether it is a wise action or not I am not going to argue and whether he could have set it right by negotiation or not I do not know, but I am a little doubtful having regard to the past—but if Herr Hitler had allowed that to go without protecting his country he would have been a traitor to the Fatherland.

Duchess of ATHOLL

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question?


I have under taken to conclude in time to allow the Noble Lord opposite to reply. I want the Committee to bear all that in mind. The story is not all on one side. I am very glad that the Government have decided practically, I will not say to acknowledge and I will not say to accept—you cannot expect them to do that—but at any rate to say "Let us begin afresh, and see whether we cannot bring this terrible chapter of misery and increasing terror for the world to an end."

I thought what my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham said about what my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) said in reference to armaments was very unfair and not very wise. My right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness voted for those Estimates. Personally, I should have voted for the Air Estimates and the Army Estimates. I should have opposed the Navy Estimates, on the ground that in my judgment the Government were not doing it in the right way. I am very much against the increase in capital ships, and I would have spent far more money on the little craft that we found more valuable. Some of my hon. Friends who represent Welsh constituencies are confronted with a serious agitation about a bombing school. It is a formidable agitation, but if the Government decide in the interests of security that we must have an increased Air Force we must have training schools somewhere, and we cannot always say "Let it be somewhere else."

It is a great mistake to taunt my hon. and right hon. Friends here. When the War came in 1914 we were dependent on volunteers for the first two years. Conscription did not come in for a long time. There were no parts of the country where people volunteered in such throngs as in those mining areas, which all voted Labour at that time. Nobly they fought; everybody who was in the War knows what first-class fighting men they made, how loyal they were, and it is a mistake on the part of anybody who has a real concern for the defence of this Realm to assume that there is a large section—they represent millions—who are not as ready to die for the honour and integrity and independence of this country as anybody who belongs to any other party.


Will my right hon. Friend allow me to say that I agree, completely and whole-heartedly.


I am delighted. I am glad I said it if only to elicit that. With regard to Mandates, I was delighted with the declaration made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I said to a friend of mine, "That is a very courageous speech." I am not one of the constant admirers of the Chancellor, but on this occasion I thought it a great utterance on his part. I listened with great care to every word that the Foreign Secretary said. I thought not merely that it was courageous, but that it was very wise. I could see it was very carefully framed, that every word was weighed. I am not criticising one word of it. At the present moment I do not think he could have gone further, but I am very glad he made no concession to the clamour in favour of slamming the door.

He was right in his appeal to those whom it concerns not to raise that issue at the present moment, and I thoroughly endorse that appeal. It would be a great mistake to do it. There are many things you can do short of transfer. I have never thought it enough to say, "You can come in and buy anything you like," or "You can come in and sell anything you like." One of the difficulties is currency. If the right hon. Gentleman goes into that question I hope that, as a temporary expedient, he will consider the possibility of giving an open door which is a real one to business men. I should say that for the moment that will probably satisfy them. When you come to the Mandates, my right hon. Friend knows it very well, we did not want them. We discussed it among ourselves, and our first suggestion was that we were hopeful America would take them.


I suggested and pressed on to my right hon. Friend that Palestine should be offered to America. I thought Palestine was the one most likely to attract America. My right hon. Friend did not agree on that.


Oh, yes, I did.


I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. He offered Armenia instead.


I am not nearly as cute as the right hon. Gentleman. I am certain there was a discussion about America taking them.


indicated dissent.


I know more about it than my right hon. Friend. I was in charge of this business.


I never heard such a suggestion.


At any rate we were not anxious to have them, and we were not prepared to hand them over to other Powers glutted with colonies. I am glad that the Government have refused absolutely to close the door altogether. If they did that it would be provocative, it would not help the conference, and I think they have gone as far as it is desirable for them to go at this stage.

I come to another point which I must put to the Foreign Secretary. I tried to get him to make a declaration as to the general principles upon which he thought there ought to be a reform of the League. I am very sorry that he could not see his way to take the House of Commons into his confidence. He must remember this, that before he threw over sanctions, without any consultation with any Power in the world, even his cosignatories, he told the House of Commons what he was going to do. Why should he not do so now? He admits that France expressed an opinion, and so she did. There are other Powers that expressed an opinion. I think Russia expressed some opinion in regard to it. They took a different view to that which is taken by those who want to eliminate all the coercive elements out of the Covenant of the League. Then why should we be so timid about it?

The right hon. Gentleman says, "Well, I want agreement." An expression of opinion as to what you think does not prevent agreement. On the contrary, you enter a conference with everybody stating frankly what his opinion is, and then, if you want agreement, you reach some sort of compromise at the end, but it is far better that you should go there with a definite statement of your views. You are not delivering an ultimatum to the other Powers and saying, "Here we stand, and we do not budge"; even if you said it, nobody would believe it now. May I say frankly what I think? I do not think the trouble is that he is afraid of disagreement in Geneva. He is afraid of disagreement in the Cabinet. They have not agreed upon their policy there, and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman cannot declare it here. But I think the House of Commons ought to know.

The whole life of the League depends upon this—Is it going to be a Secretariat, or is it going to be a League? Is it going to be collective security or merely collective opinion? Is it going to be simply a gathering like the International Parliamentary Peace Conference, which meets once a year to express its views, with the chairman saying, "All those of that opinion please hold up their hand," and everybody going home and nothing done? Is it a Covenant with complete authority behind it, or is it simply an Assembly which is called together as a debating society to discuss propositions? We ought to know where the Government stand with regard to that. You have a pact for Western Europe. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that if Germany says, "We will enter into no pact with regard to the East at all, because under no conditions will we fight for the Bolsheviks," he is going to say the Conference is off? There you have a definite pact with military discussions, which means sanctions. Are there to be no sanctions with regard to the rest?

A good deal has been said about what I said about Austria, which was thrown out incidentally, but I stand by it. That simply means the Resolution of 1921, which explains what the League is. It was explained very fully by my right hon. Friend, and I accept his explanation. What it means is this—and the right hon. Gentleman accepted it—that there are areas where you are prepared to fight. We have undertaken to defend the territory of France, and we will fight if anybody invades it. That is war, but there are parts of Europe where you could not send your Army, where you could not get an Army to go. Does that mean that you are to do nothing with regard to the other things? Not at all. There are other sanctions in the League which would be very powerful. Those that are geographically contiguous would contribute their portions and then we should come in with our economic sanctions and our financial sanctions. We are always talking about omitting financial sanctions. As a matter of fact, the two Pitts very largely fought their wars with financial sanctions, by giving financial aid to the people where they could not send troops to support them, and that is one of the most vital things that has been completely neglected. That is why I am very sorry the Abyssinian demands were thrown on one side, but I have not time for that now.

There are economic and financial sanctions, especially oil. I agree with Mr. Litvinov's declaration that those sanctions were not effective. I believe that if oil sanctions had been introduced, they would have been effective. I wonder how many people in this House know that the War came to an end in 1918 instead of 1919 because of an oil sanction. If they will take the trouble, as I have taken, to look at the investigations by the Reichstag into the reason why Germany collapsed in 1918, they will find it. There was not a general on our side who believed the War would come to an end until 1919. What happened? The collapse of Bulgaria. The Roumanian oil wells were then within our grasp. The enemy generals said, "We cannot go on beyond another six weeks." That was the thing that determined them, from the military point of view, that the game was up. Oil is the most effective sanction, and I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman, when he goes to Geneva, will seize hold of these things—military intervention where it is appropriate, economic and financial sanctions elsewhere.

May I, in conclusion, say that I wish the right hon. Gentleman and his friends well in this Conference from the bottom of my heart? If they can bring these Powers together, they will do well. Herr Hitler has said—and I am one of those who believe that when he says a thing he means it—"There is nothing that will induce me to repeat the mistake which we made in 1918 and attack in the West, and I do not want any territory from France." That, I agree, is the attitude of Germany. I cannot understand France not coming to terms with Germany. She has everything to gain by doing it, and she has, in my judgment, nothing to lose. If the right hon. Gentleman can convince her of that—and I think he has a better chance with this Government than with any Government that has been in France in my time—if he can convince France of that and carry French opinion with him—and the French peasants do not want any more war; I am sure they are pacific in their intentions—if he can succeed in doing that, then he will have achieved something that will give him immortal fame.

9.45 p.m.


I must apologise for imposing myself on the Committee again, but the Government thought that in the few minutes that remained it might be desirable, in view of the importance of the subjects which have been raised in the Debate, if I attempted to give a reply myself. Various subsidiary points have been raised which time will not allow me to deal with, but I want to mention one question that has received some prominence in the Press, namely, the supply of oil to the Spanish fleet at Gibraltar. I have been asked whether His Majesty's Government have put a ban on the supply of oil to the Spanish fleet. The answer is "No." If a further explanation is wanted, I shall be glad to give it in answer to a question, but I want to make it plain that no such ban has been imposed.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) began his speech with a justification of the Treaty of Versailles. Neither I nor any of my generation, who had nothing to do with the drafting of that Treaty is complaining of it, because we appreciate the circumstances in which it was negotiated. If I have a complaint against the right hon. Gentleman, it is that, whereas he expects us to realise the difficulties under which he negotiated the Treaty, he is not ready to appreciate the difficulties under which we have to work to-day. They are, in truth, not greatly different. They are essentially the need for distinguishing between what you want to do in foreign affairs and what you can do. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the underlying purpose of the recent communiqué issued at the end of our meeting a few days ago. I think the purpose to be quite clear, and I believe its real spirit to be embodied in the second paragraph, where we say and mean: Nothing would be more fatal to the hopes of such a settlement than the division, apparent or real, of Europe into opposing blocs. I do think that it is a matter for which we should pay a tribute to our French and Belgian colleagues that they should have associated themselves whole-heartedly with a statement of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman and, I think, the hon. Gentleman who wound up for the Opposition, asked me whether I would say anything further about the programme of this projected Five-Power meeting. I regret that I cannot because I think that it is essential, if we are to have any chance of success in that meeting, that its programme should be worked out jointly. If I were to attempt at this time to give my interpretation to that communiqué before even I received the reply of the German Government, and before I replied to any questions from them or any communications from the Italian Government, I do not think that I should be facilitating the chances of a successful meeting when it takes place. What I want to do is, through diplomatic channels, to get agreement upon the time and place, and also upon the agenda. The task is an immensely formidable one, but I am sure that the Committee will agree that I cannot carry the matter further to-night than it is carried in the communiqué to which we set our names only a day or two ago.

I would like to say a word on the subject of Mandates. The statement which I made to the Committee to-night was a carefully considered statement by the Government. It is impossible for me to amplify it in any way. I would only ask hon. Members to read it carefully, and then I think that they will appreciate that that statement is as definite as the Government could possibly make it in existing circumstances.

I would like to turn to the main question of this Debate. I am frankly, as Foreign Secretary, very glad that this Debate has taken place. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) that we are not very far apart on the main issue so far as the future of the League is concerned. The main burden of complaint of hon. Members opposite was that I had not declared in specific terms our attitude of the League before the September meeting. The hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence), who spoke for the Opposition, wanted us to state our policy because other nations were longing for us to take the lead and wanted to follow our lead. That was in contrast to what he said earlier, that our prestige had sunk so low that no one would follow us. We are willing to take the lead again in the matter. All I ask is that we should choose our own time for doing it, and that time cannot be, in our judgment, before we have had an exchange of views with other members of the League before the date fixed by the League itself. At the same time, the Government do appreciate the anxiety expressed by hon. Members and voiced by the right hon. Gentleman just before he sat down. I think that their anxieties are largely based on a fear that the League will come to a sudden decision in September for some radical reform of the League to which we shall be a party before the House will have a chance of considering the situation.

I am confident that that is not in the least likely to be the position. In fact, to imagine that it will be the position shows a misunderstanding of the real complexities of the present situation. Let us consider what has been said to-day. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) pleaded for a reinterpretation of Article 11. There is much force in his contention on that point. He then raised the question of Article 19. Anybody who has ever put his nose inside an international conference knows what explosive material Article 19 is. I am not saying that I under-rate the significance of the Article. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham raised the question of the relationship of Article 10 to Article 19. I agree that there is much substance in what he said, but the very complexity of all these questions must surely show that it is not possible for the Government at this stage to make a precise declaration on all those points. Nor, I think, is the fact that the League is likely to take time over this matter a bad thing, because this question will have to be related to the European situation with which we are now trying to deal.

None the less, I want to give the Committee as much guidance as I can of what is in the mind of the Government. Let me say at the outset that we do not intend to propose any drastic amendments of the main structure of the Covenant. Moreover, there are certain principles connected with the collective organisation of peace which, in our view, it is essential to maintain and to which the Covenant gives expression. Most important of all these principles is the prevention of war. That includes a number of important elements, of which I will mention four: the machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes, the machinery for the adjustment of grievances, the creation of a deterrent to war, the establishment of an international agreement for the reduction and limitation of armaments. All those elements are indispensable to the collective organisation of peace, and all those elements the Government wish to see maintained in any modifications that may be made. If the Committee will consider all I have said I think they will see that I have given some guidance to the way in which the mind of the Government is working in this matter.

I should like to deal with the remaining question which the Committee quite properly asked. Their anxiety is this: During the interim period that may be necessary for the examination of this subject, what is to be the position? I think I can give a perfectly specific reply. His Majesty's Government will be prepared to take their part in any action which the members of the League may collectively agree should be taken under the Covenant which we have all signed. There, I think, hon. Members will see that I have sought to meet some of their preoccupations. I must also answer the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, who said there was some doubt even of our guarantee arising out of the Locarno Treaty. I am surprised to hear that because I thought the position had been made clear over and over again. It is that the guarantees against aggression given to Belgium and to France still stand under the terms of the Locarno Treaty. I hope the Committee will appreciate that I have attempted to meet what I fully understand to be their preoccupations.

The last thing, very naturally, I should wish to do is to taunt anybody at a time like this for statements of policy which they may make, but I am bound to conclude this time as I concluded early this afternoon. I do believe that what divides us in the main lines of our foreign policy is not so real a cleavage as it can be made to appear in rhetoric to and fro across the Floor of the House. I welcome that fact, if it is true, and I think it is, because I am more than ever convinced that in Europe and the world as it exists to-day democracies must find their unity if they are going to survive.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £117,636, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 143; Noes, 290.

Division No. 311.] AYES. [9.59 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Potts, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Groves, T. E. Price, M. P.
Adamson, W. M. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pritt, D. N.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hardie, G. D. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Banfield, J. W. Harris, Sir P. A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Barnes, A. J. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Riley, B.
Barr, J. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ritson, J.
Batey, J. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Bellenger, F. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Benson, G. Holdsworth, H. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Bevan, A. Holland, A. Rothschild, J. A. de
Broad, F. A. Hopkin, D. Rowson, G.
Bromfield, W. Jagger, J. Salter, Dr. A.
Brooke, W. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Sexton, T. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) John, W. Shinwell, E.
Burke, W. A. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Short, A.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Simpson, F. B.
Chater, D. Kelly, W. T. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Compton, J. Kirkwood, D. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cove, W. G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lathan, G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Daggar, G. Lee, F. Sorensen, R. W.
Dalton, H. Leonard, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leslie, J. R. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Logan, D. G. Thorne, W.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lunn, W. Thurtle, E.
Day, H. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Tinker, J. J.
Dobbie, W. McEntee, V. La T. Viant, S. P.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McGhee, H. G. Walkden, A. G.
Ede, J. C. MacLaren, A. Walker, J.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Maclean, N. Watkins, F. C.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Mainwaring, W. H. Watson, W. McL.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Mander, G. le M. Welsh, J. C.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Marklew, E. Westwood, J.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Mathers, G. White, H. Graham
Foot, D. M. Milner, Major J. Whiteley, W.
Frankel, D. Montague, F. Wilkinson, Ellen
Gallacher, W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Gardner, B. W. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Garro Jones, G. M. Muff, G. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Naylor, T. E. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Noel-Baker, P. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Gibbins, J. Oliver, G. H. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Owen, Major G. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Paling, W.
Grenfell, D. R. Parker, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Parkinson, J. A. Sir Hugh Seely and Mr. Acland.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Blindell, Sir J. Channon, H.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Boulton, W. W. Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Christie, J. A.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Bower, Comdr. R. T. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.
Aske, Sir R. W. Bracken, B. Clarke, F. E.
Assheton, R. Braithwaite, Major A. N. Clarry, Sir Reginald
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Brass, Sir W. Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Colman, N. C. D.
Atholl, Duchess of Brocklebank, C. E. R. Colville, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Bullock, Capt. M. Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Dufff (W'st'r S. G'gs)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Burton, Col. H. W. Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)
Bainlel, Lord Caine, G. R. Hall- Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.
Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Campbell, Sir E. T. Craddock, Sir R. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Cartland, J. R. H. Cranborne, Viscount
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.
Bernays, R. H. Castlereagh, Viscount Croom-Johnson, R. P.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Cross, R. H.
Bird, Sir R. B. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.) Crowder, J. F. E.
Blair, Sir R. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Culverwell, C. T.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Hurd, Sir P. A. Rayner, Major R. H.
Davison, Sir W. H. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Dawson, Sir P. Jackson, Sir H. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
De Chair, S. S. Joel, D. J. B. Remer, J. R.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gtn) Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Doland, G. F. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Donner, P. W. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Ropner, Colonel L.
Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Kimball, L. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Drewe, C. Kirkpatrick, W. M. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. Salmon, Sir I.
Dugdale, Major T. L. Latham, Sir P. Salt, E. W.
Duggan, H. J. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)
Duncan, J. A. L. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Dunglass, Lord Leckie, J. A. Sandys, E. D.
Dunne, P. R. R. Leech, Dr. J. W. Savery, Servington
Eales, J. F. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Scott, Lord William
Eastwood, J. F. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Selley, H. R.
Eckersley, P. T. Levy, T. Shakespeare, G. H.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Liddall, W. S. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Little, Sir E. Graham- Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Ellis, Sir G. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Elliston, G. S. Lloyd, G. W. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J.
Emery, J. F. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Simmonds, O. E.
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Loftus, P. C. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Entwistle, C. F. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Lyons, A. M. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Fleming, E. L. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Smithers, Sir W.
Fox, Sir G. W. G. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Fraser, Capt. Sir I. McCorquodale, M. S. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Furness, S. N. MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.) Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)
Fyfe, D. P. M. MacDonald, Rt. Hon M. (Ross) Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.
Ganzoni, Sir J. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Spender-Clay, Lt.-CI. Rt. Hn. H. H.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Spens, W. P.
Gluckstein, L. H. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. McKie, J. H. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Goldle, N. B. Maitland, A. Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.)
Goodman, Col. A. W. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E. Storey, S.
Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Maxwell, S. A. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Strickland, Captain W. F.
Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Mellor, Sir R. J. (Mitcham) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Gridley, Sir A. B. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Grimston, R. V. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Sutcliffe, H.
Gritten, W. G. Howard Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake) Mitcheson, Sir G. G. Tate, Mavis C.
Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N. W.) Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Guinness, T. L. E. B. Morgan, R. H. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd, S.)
Gunston, Capt. D. W. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Guy, J. C. M. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester) Titchfield, Marquess of
Hamilton, Sir G. C. Munro, P. Touche, G. C.
Hanbury, Sir C. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Hannah, I. C. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Harbord, A. Orr-Ewing, I. L. Turton, R. H.
Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Palmer, G. E. H. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Patrick, C. M. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Peake, O. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Peat, C. U. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Penny, Sir G. Warrender, Sir V.
Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Perkins, W. R. D. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Petherick, M. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Pickthorn, K. W. M. Wells, S. R.
Holmes, J. S. Pilkington, R. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Hopkinson, A. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Procter, Major H. A. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Horsbrugh, Florence Radford, E. A. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Howitt, Dr. A. B. Raikes, H. V. A. M. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Wragg, H.
Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ramsbotham, H.
Hulbert, N. J. Ramsden, Sir E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hume, Sir G. H. Rankin, R. Commander Southby and Captain
Hunter, T. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Hope.

It being after Ten of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Vote under consideration.

Original Question put.

The Committee divided: Ayes, 313; Noes, 138.

Division No. 312.] AYES. [10.10 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Drewe, C. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd) Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Latham, Sir P.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Dugdale, Major T. L. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Duggan, H. J. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Duncan, J. A. L. Leckie, J. A.
Aske, Sir R. W. Dunglass, Lord Leech, Dr. J. W.
Assheton, R. Dunne, P. R. R. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Eales, J. F. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Eastwood, J. F. Levy, T.
Atholl, Duchess of Eckersley, P. T. Liddall, W. S.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Little, Sir E. Graham-
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lloyd, G. W.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Ellis, Sir G. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Balniel, Lord Elliston, G. S. Loftus, P. C.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Emery, J. F. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Lyons, A. M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Beit, Sir A. L. Entwistle, C. F. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Bernays, R. H. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) McCorquodale, M. S.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Fleming, E. L. MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)
Bird, Sir R. B. Fox, Sir G. W. G. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)
Blair, Sir R. Fraser, Capt. Sir I. MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)
Blindell, Sir J. Furness, S. N. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Boulton, W. W. Fyfe, D. P. M. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Ganzoni, Sir J. McKie, J. H.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bracken, B. Gluckstein, L. H. Maitland, A.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.
Brass, Sir W. Goldie, N. B. Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Goodman, Col. A. W. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Gower, Sir R. V. Maxwell, S. A.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Bull, B. B. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Bullock, Capt. M. Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)
Burton, Col. H. W. Gridley, Sir A. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Butler, R. A. Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Caine, G. R. Hall- Grimston, R. V. Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Gritten, W. G. Howard Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.
Cartland, J. R. H. Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Drake) Morgan, R. H.
Carver, Major W. H. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.
Cary, R. A. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'r W'll, N. W.) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Castlereagh, Viscount Guinness, T. L. E. B. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Gunston, Capt. D. W. Munro, P.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Guy, J. C. M. Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.) Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Hamilton, Sir G. C. O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Channon, H. Hanbury, Sir C. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Hannah, I. C. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Palmer, G. E. H.
Christie, J. A. Harbord, A. Patrick, C. M.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Peake, O.
Clarke, F. E. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Peat, C. U.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Penny, Sir G.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Perkins, W. R. D.
Colman, N. C. D. Herbert, A. P. (Oxford U.) Petherick, M.
Colville, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Pilkington, R.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Holmes, J. S. Plugge, L. F.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (Wst'r S. G'gs) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hopkinson, A. Procter, Major H. A.
Courthope, Col. Sir G. L. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Radford, E. A.
Craddock, Sir R. H. Horsbrugh, Florence Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Cranborne, Viscount Howitt, Dr. A. B. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Crooke, J. S. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Ramsbotham, H.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hudson, R. S. (Southport) Ramsden, Sir E.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hulbert, N. J. Rankin, R.
Crossley, A. C. Hume, Sir G. H. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Crowder, J. F. E. Hunter, T. Rayner, Major R. H.
Culverwell, C. T. Hurd, Sir P. A. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Davison, Sir W. H. Jackson, Sir H. Remer, J. R.
Dawson, Sir P. Joel, D. J. B. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
De Chair, S. S. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
De la Bère, R. Keeling, E. H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Doland, G. F. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Donner, P. W. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)
Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Kimball, L. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Dower, Capt. A. V. G. Kirkpatrick, W. M. Salmon, Sir I.
Salt, E. W. Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Spender-Clay Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Sandeman, Sir N. S. Spens, W. P. Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.
Sandys, E. D. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Turton, R. H.
Savery, Servington Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.) Wakefield, W. W.
Scott, Lord William Stewart, William J. (Belfast, S.) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Selley, H. R. Storey, S. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Shakespeare, G. H. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Warrender, Sir V.
Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Strickland, Captain W. F. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Shepperson, Sir E. W. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h) Wayland, Sir W. A.
Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wells, S. R.
Simmonds, O. E. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Sutcliffe, H. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Tasker, Sir R. I. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Tate, Mavis C. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wise, A. R.
Smithers, Sir W. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford) Wragg, H.
Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.) Titchfield, Marquess of TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Southby, Comdr. A. R. J. Touche, G. C. Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert
Ward and Mr. Cross.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Groves, T. E. Potts, J.
Adamson, W. M. Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Price, M. P.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pritt, D. N.
Banfield, J. W. Hardie, G. D. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Barnes, A. J. Harris, Sir P. A. Riley, B.
Barr, J. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Ritson, J.
Batey, J. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Brom.)
Bellenger, F. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Benson, G. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Bevan, A. Holdsworth, H. Rothschild, J. A. de
Broad, F. A. Holland, A. Rowson, G.
Bromfield, W. Hopkin, D. Salter, Dr. A.
Brooke, W. Jagger, J. Sexton, T. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Shinwell, E.
Burke, W. A. John, W. Short, A.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Simpson, F. B.
Chater, D. Kelly, W. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Compton, J. Kirkwood, D. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Cove, W. G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Lathan, G. Sorensen, R. W.
Daggar, G. Lawson, J. J. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dalton, H. Lee, F. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leonard, W. Thorne, W.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Leslie, J. R. Thurtle, E.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Lunn, W. Tinker, J. J.
Day, H. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Viant, S. P.
Dobbie, W. McEntee, V. La T. Walkden, A. G.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McGhee, H. G. Walker, J.
Ede, J. C. Maclean, N. Watkins, F. C.
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Mainwaring, W. H. Watson, W. McL.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Mander, G. le M. Welsh, J. C.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Marklew, E. Westwood, J.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Mathers, G. White, H. Graham
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Milner, Major J. Whiteley, W.
Foot, D. M. Montague, F. Wilkinson, Ellen
Frankel, D. Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Gallacher, W. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Gardner, B. W. Muff, G. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Garro Jones, G. M. Naylor, T. E. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Noel-Baker, P. J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Oliver, G. H. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Gibbins, J. Owen, Major G. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Paling, W.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Parker, H. J. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Parkinson, J. A. Sir Hugh Seely and Mr. Acland.

Question put, and agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14, to put severally the Questions, That the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the several Classes of the Civil Estimates, including Supplementary Estimates, and the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the Estimates for the Revenue Departments, the Navy, Army, and Air, be granted for the Services defined in those Glasses and Estimates.