HC Deb 21 July 1937 vol 326 cc2182-4
8. Captain Plugge

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what are the commitments, if any, in which His Majesty's Government are involved in the North China trouble by reason of our participation in the Nine-Power Treaty, the Kellogg Pact, and the League Covenant?

Mr. Eden

I assume that my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind the situation existing at the moment. Unless the provision for consultation contained in Article 7 of the Nine-Power Treaty is classed as a commitment, neither that Treaty nor the Kellogg Pact entails any commitment of His Majesty's Government in the present dispute. Nor has any arisen under the Covenant of the League.

9. Captain Plugge

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the existing circumstances in North China, he will reconsider the advisability of holding Anglo-Japanese conversations?

Mr. Eden

So long as the present situation in North China persists, it would not seem opportune to open the conversations to which His Majesty's Government were looking forward, and I have been obliged to inform the Japanese Government that that is the view of His Majesty's Government.

Captain Plugge

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that the movement of troops on a large scale by a foreign Power in a friendly neighbouring country constitutes an act of military aggression which we ought not to countenance?

Mr. Eden

That is rather another question. I was asked about conversations, and I answered that question.

18. Mr. Mander

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the Chinese Government's statement that Japanese action in North China constitutes a clear violation of China's sovereignty and is contrary to the Paris Peace Pact and the Covenant of the League of Nations, he will consider the advisability of exercising our friendly right, under Article 11 of the Covenant, to bring the matter to the attention of the Council of the League?

Mr. Eden

As I have already explained to the House, His Majesty's Government are in constant consultation with other Governments, whether members of the League or not, on the present situation in the Far East. Such consultation is now taking place daily through the diplomatic channel. As at present advised, I do not consider that the action suggested by the hon. Member would be likely to improve the existing situation.

Mr. Mander

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the possibility of using the machinery of the League, particularly under Article 17 in regard to nonmembers, if the situation grows more menacing?

Mr. Gallacher

Would the Foreign Secretary not advise the Chinese people to unite and drive out the Japanese?

Mr. Arthur Henderson

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to the artillery bombardment of Wangping in North China by Japanese forces, and as to the present position generally in North China?

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Viscount Cranborne)

According to my information, Wangping was shelled yesterday after two hours' warning. This was represented as being a reprisal for firing from the Chinese side on the previous evening, in which a Japanese officer was wounded, and for firing yesterday and the day before outside Peking.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the gravity of the dispute between Japan and China, may I ask the Under-Secretary whether the Council of the League intend to take the action which is made obligatory under Article XVII of the Covenant to deal with this matter?

Viscount Cranborne

I think that that supplementary question is really covered by the reply which my right hon. Friend has already given. He said that His Majesty's Government were in constant consultation with the Powers concerned, both inside and outside the League, and he thought that that was the most useful method of approach to a settlement of the problem at the present time.

Mr. Henderson

The previous question referred to Article XI, but I am referring to Article XVII, under which action is made obligatory on the Council?

Viscount Cranborne

I think it covers the whole situation. The main object of all of us in this House is to get a peaceful settlement.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has any request or recommendation been received from the Chinese Government concerning the evacuation of British nationals from Peking?

Viscount Cranborne

That is rather a different question; perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will put it down.