HC Deb 04 March 1936 vol 309 cc1375-7

asked the Prime Minister whether the French Government was consulted before the recent naval pact with Germany; whether any further pact with Germany relative to military reductions is under consideration; whether France will be notified in advance of any negotiations; and whether no further reductions of armaments with Germany will be approved by His Majesty's Government which do not include air forces?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

As regards the first part of the question, the recent naval agreement with Germany was signed on 18th June, 1935. An outline of it was communicated to the French Government on 7th June with an invitation to furnish their observations at an early date. As regards the second part of the question, if by military reductions my hon. and gallant Friend is referring to reduction or limitation of land armaments, no pact is under consideration. As regards the third part, there is no intention to depart from the general practice of His Majesty's Government, which is to keep in as close touch as possible with those Governments most directly concerned in any negotiations that may take place on the subject of armaments. As regards the last part of the question, His Majesty's Government, as has been frequently stated in the House, remain most anxious to secure some reduction or limitation of all armaments. They could, however, give no undertaking to make their agreement to a reduction or limitation of one branch of armaments dependent upon agreement as, regards the reduction or limitation of another.


What is the good of a naval pact with Germany which does not include a pact relative to air armaments?


I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend that a great deal of dis-service has been done to disarmament by trying to get disarmament in every degree instead of only in one. We believe that by getting limitation in naval armaments we have served a very valuable purpose.


We want limitation in the most important armament, which is the air armament.


Is it not a fact that the French Government disapproved of the pact and, in spite of their disapproval, we signed it.


I can only answer for this Government.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, if there were a possibility of arriving at a common-sense agreement between France and Germany, the peace of the world would be assured?

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