§ 10. Mr. LEACH
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the refusal of the International Red Cross Committee to respond to the appeal for gas masks, made by the Ethiopian Red Cross, on 23rd March; and whether, in view of the terms of the Geneva Convention, he will make inquiries as to the reasons for such a request being refused, bearing in mind all the circumstances of the case?
§ Mr. EDEN
I understand that the International Red Cross Committee communicated to the League of Nations on 14th May a document in which, among. other matters, it was, stated that on 23rd March the Committee received a request from the Ethiopian Red Cross asking that the national Red Cross Socie- 1613 ties should be requested to send large quantities of gas masks and manuals dealing with technical protection against asphyxiating, poisonous and other gases, I understand that in reply the Committee confined itself to communicating the Ethiopian request to the national Red Cross Societies, which in varying degrees had already responded to the appeals of the Ethiopian Red Cross; and it informed these societies that it had requested its delegation in Addis Ababa to ascertain how many masks the Ethiopian Red Cross required for the exclusive use of medical personnel or the patients under their care. On 27th April the Committee had not yet received a reply from its delegation on this point, nor had it received any positive answer from the national societies consulted; I am not aware whether it has received any replies since that date.
§ 11. Mr. COCKS
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British delegates to the Stresa conference in April, 1935, were aware that on 17th March the Abyssinian Government had appealed to the League, stating that her independence was in peril, calling attention to Italy's military preparations and demanding full investigation by the League?
§ Mr. EDEN
Yes, Sir. It is correct that the Abyssinian Government appealed to the League on 17th March, 1935. The Council considered whether this appeal 1614 should be put on the agenda for its special meeting on 15th April. But it was decided that, as the machinery of conciliation was already in operation, and as the special meeting had been called to consider specifically the European situation, the Abyssinian appeal should be placed on the agenda for the ordinary meeting four weeks later. The appeal was not discussed at Stresa, because the Stresa Conference was solely concerned with events arising out of the Anglo-French communiqué of 3rd February, 1935.
§ 12. Mr. A. HENDERSON
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Italian Government have made any request to His Majesty's Government for the withdrawal of the Legation guard, or any part thereof, from Addis Ababa; and, if so, what action he proposes to take in the matter?
§ Mr. EDEN
The Italian Government have invited His Majesty's Government to consider whether, in the light of the occupation of Addis Ababa, it would not now be desirable to withdraw the reinforcement despatched last year to strengthen the British Legation guard and to provide adequate protection for British subjects in the event of local emergency. As the situation in Addis Ababa is still far from stable, the Italian Government have been informed that the matter is still under consideration.
§ Mr. HENDERSON
In view of the fact that British subjects are still being placed in jeopardy, will the right hon. Gentleman bear these circumstances in mind before coming to a decision?
§ 20. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what purposes are being served by the retention of His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa; and if, in view of the delicacy of his situation there and the difficulties likely to arise for him owing to the Italian forces and authorities being in occupation of Ethiopia, the advisability of his recall will be taken into immediate consideration?
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
Does that mean that His Majesty's Government regard the Legation at Addis Ababa as enjoying full diplomatic status?
§ 23. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is proposed to withdraw the Sikh guard from the British Legation at Addis Ababa; if the precincts of the legation or of any of His Majesty's Consulates have been entered by Italian troops; and what instructions have been sent to Sir Sidney Barton as regards his codes and archives in view of the fact that the declaration of the Italian Government that foreign legations in Ethiopia no longer enjoy diplomatic status or extra territorial rights exposes such legations to the possibility of raid and search?
§ Mr. EDEN
As regards the first part of the question, the Italian Government have invited His Majesty's Government to consider whether, in the light of the occupation of Addis Ababa, it would not now be desirable to withdraw the reinforcement despatched last year to strengthen the British Legation guard and to provide adequate protection for British subjects in the event of local emergency. As the situation in Addis Ababa is still far from stable, the Italian Government have been informed that the matter is still under consideration. The reply to the second part of the question is in the negative. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer to the answer given to a similar question 1616 by the hon. and gallant Member on 22nd May, to which I have nothing to add.
§ Lieut.-Commander FLETCHER
Would not a lot of these difficulties be eased by a clear declaration that we do regard the legation at Addis Ababa as enjoying full diplomatic status?
§ Mr. EDEN
As my Noble Friend informed the House On Thursday last, as soon as Press reports of Mr. Bonner's arrest reached London, a telegram was sent to His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa asking him to ascertain the facts. When on Saturday definite information reached me that Mr. Bonner was under arrest, His Majesty's Ambassador at Rome lost no time in taking up this case, on instructions from His Majesty's Government, with the Italian Government. I am happy to be able to state that I have now received a telegram from His Majesty's Consul at Harar stating that Mr. Bonner has now been freed, and that he was due to leave for the coast on the evening of 23rd May. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a detailed account of this case.
§ Mr. EDEN
Yes; I am happy to say that has been done.
Following is the statement referred to:
A telegram was serif by His Majesty's Consul at Harar to His Majesty's Minister at Addis Ababa on 22nd May and received in London from Sir Sidney Barton on 24th May. In this telegram His Majesty's Consul stated that Mr. Bunner was now free and was due to leave with the rest of the British Ambulance by the next train, on the 23rd May evening or 1617 Sunday morning. An order had been made for the value of the money seized to be returned to him in Lira. Meanwhile through the kind assistance of the French Consulate and the French doctors Renault and Martin, Mr. Bunner had started a series of anti-rabies injections with good serum, and Dr. Empey, the head of the British Ambulance, was being given a sufficient quantity of serum to complete the course. The sequence of events appears to have been as follows:—Mr. Bunner had been denounced by one Gabre Christos, who is said to be of Turkish birth but Ethiopian by naturalisation, as Captain Rudolph Brunner, an Austrian formerly employed with the Ethiopian military forces in the Ogaden. This charge was supported by an Ethiopian boy aged about 12 years, formerly a body servant to Vehip Pasha. In view of the above evidence, the Italian authorities interrogated Mr. Banner during the evening of 17th May, and wishing to continue interrogation the following day, kept him in custody that night in a room which he described as an incinerator. Hearing that he might be shot before the Italian authorities discovered their mistake he escaped during the night. This seemed to the Italian authorities to confirm his guilt. He was re-arrested on the evening of 20th May. When His Majesty's Consul saw him on the 21st he looked none the worse for his adventure. His Majesty's Consul secured his immediate release on, his personal parole that he would produce him when required. He then joined the rest of the Ambulance who had decided to remain until the affair was settled. This satisfactory outcome which had been achieved by vigorous representations to the Italian authorities was confirmed by telegram to Dire Dawa from General Fuizzi commanding in Harar.
Difficulties were accentuated by Mr. Banner's ignorance of any language but English, the absence of his passport, which had gone on to Jibuti, the military character of his rank and of the wording of the instructions found on him from his superiors in the Ambulance, and finally by his attempted escape. Undoubtedly Mr. Banner should not have been held under close arrest on the night of the 17th after His Majesty's Consul had once stood sponsor for him. But I understand that this was an act of inferior officials misled by statements of lying 1618 witnesses and by the production of the visiting card of Rudolph Brunner inscribed as captain of the Ethiopian Army which Gabre Christos alleged Mr. Banner had given him.
26. Mr. VYVYAN ADAMS
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make on the use by the Italian invaders of Ethiopia of the railway under French control between Jibuti and Addis Ababa?
§ Mr. EDEN
I understand that the French Government have decided that no troops or munitions of war will be transported from Jibuti or anywhere in French territory. I am further advised that the French Government regard the transport of supplies of food, clothing, etc., from Jibuti to Addis Ababa as a commercial transaction, and that they do not propose to vary the practice followed hitherto in this respect. In the case of consignments of such stores destined for the Italian military authorities, the ordinary commercial freight rates will be payable.