Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £84,956, be granted to Ills 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, 1938, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."—[Note.—£55,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 11.13 a.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
It is now more than two months since we debated foreign affairs, and on that occasion our discussion was almost entirely confined to Spain. There is no doubt that Spain will bulk large in our discussions to-day, but, from such inquiries as I have been able to make from hon. Members in all parts of the House, I think the Committee will agree that after that lapse of time, and at this late stage of the Session, it will be helpful to obtain from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs a picture broader in outline, clearer and in truer perspective than he can give us in answer to Parliamentary Questions put from time to time about affairs in different regions of the world. Moreover, while the anxieties of recent weeks and the gravity of the present situation must inspire in us a feeling of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman on whose shoulders rests the main responsibility for the conduct of our foreign policy, and a determination so far as we are able to say no word which could add to the difficulties of his task, they also make it incumbent upon Members of the House to speak out, so that neither our own nor any foreign Government may be left in doubt about the sense and temper of the House on these great issues.
In these anxious times His Majesty's Government must have felt that it was a fortunate coincidence which enabled them to take counsel here in London with the chief ministers of the Dominion Govern- 1538 ments, and to give to the world an impressive demonstration of the unity, common purpose and love of peace which animate the whole Commonwealth. There were, of course, mischief-makers outside the Conference who tried to play off the Empire against the League. The truth is that the common loyalty of every part of the Empire to the League is now one of the bonds which unites its several parts. It was the Prime Minister of far distant Australia who said that they were prepared to act together in support of the maintenance of international law and order. While therefore, the Conference, in its summary of proceedings, emphasised, in the true spirit of the League Covenant, its preference for co-operation, joint inquiry and conciliation, over the use of force, in making international adjustments, and was impressed, as every supporter of the League must be, with the desirability of enlarging the League membership, it forebore to endorse the counsels of those who confuse collective resistance to aggression with coercion, and advocate the emasculation of the League as an instrument of international justice by the suppression of Articles X and XVI. Therefore, it is legitimate for us to hope that His Majesty's Government will derive encouragement from the Imperial Conference to pursue in the immediate future a more active League policy than they have done in the recent past.
There is, moreover, another direction in which a wise foreign policy would help to unite the Empire, and that is in fostering and strengthening the friendship which now so happily exists between this country and the United States of America. In an important article in yesterday's "Times," a special correspondent in Ottawa emphasises the importance which Canadian public opinion attaches to this policy. The correspondent declares:Canadians would welcome the advance of the United States of America towards a more general co-operation with the European Democracies and towards a wide attack upon that competition in tariffs and armaments which is threatening the peace of the world.The opportunity, I believe, is fleeting; failure to grasp it will discourage the United States Government and sour American public opinion. It is not only the prosperity but the peace of the world which hangs on the response of His Majesty's Government to the United States Government's overtures. I hope 1539 that the Secretary of State will be able to give us some indication this afternoon of the progress of the negotiation for an economic arrangement with the United States of America.
There is one other matter arising out of the deliberations of the Imperial Conference to which I wish to refer and that is the situation in the Far East. The restoration, en honourable terms, of the old friendship between this country and Japan, would be warmly welcomed by public opinion here. Surely it is time that His Majesty's Government gave us some information about what is going on. Some time ago a good deal was said about it in the Japanese Press—not that I am personally able to read the Japanese Press but I read extracts in the British Press—but here there has been almost complete silence. Some of the Japanese information was certainly correct; for example, that preliminary discussions were about to end and formal negotiations would shortly begin. The fulfilment of this prophecy was announced in yesterday's London newspapers; but some of the information in the Japanese Press was, I hope, incorrect. It was stated that negotiations would proceed on the basis of Japanese recognition of the British position in Central and Southern China, while Britain would recognise the fait accompli in Manchuria and Japan's special interest in Northern China. Anxious as I believe instructed public opinion in this country is for friendship with Japan, I believe it would not support an arrangement on those lines.
Our friendship with Japan cannot be exclusive, nor can it be forged at the expense of China or any other country; nor can we be expected to repudiate the resolution of the League of Nations that recognition cannot be accorded to acquisitions of territory which are achieved by force. I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to give us an assurance that His Majesty's Government consider themselves bound by the terms of that resolution, in adopting which the League was following the initiative of the United States Government—a resolution which must form part of the structure of any international order based on justice and law. On the other hand, it is our duty to recognise the justice of Japan's claim to improved access to markets and raw 1540 materials, and to show our willingness to co-operate actively with her in the maintenance of peace. In that connection, I would ask the Secretary of State whether he can give us any information in addition to what has already been published about the project of the Australian Prime Minister for a Pacific Pact? Will the Secretary of State tell us—if matters are sufficiently advanced—with what countries negotiations have been opened and on what basis, and whether this Pact is to be subject to the general provisions of the Covenant of the League? Is it to be a mutual assistance pact, or, as I understand, a pact of non-aggression, and, in the latter case, is it proposed that there should be provision for consultation at the request of any of the signatories?
So far, I have been trying to lead the Secretary of State along paths which offer a not unpleasing prospect. I hope he will be able to lead us forward to points from which still wider, clearer and more hopeful vistas can be seen. Now I must ask the Committee to consider the more tangled and the more intractable problems of Europe. Here let me say that there is at least one thing to be thankful for, and that is our friendship with France, never more firm and loyal than it is now, and based on our common ideals of freedom and peace, and loyalty to the League of Nations. Quite clearly, the quickest and surest way of establishing peace in Europe is to reach an understanding with Germany and I was glad when His Majesty's Government invited the German Foreign Minister to visit us in London. Our dislike of the German system of government, a dislike which we know is cordially reciprocated in that country, does not affect our respect for the Germany nation, nor lessen our wish to work with them for the peace and prosperity of Europe. We dislike Bolshevism, but we have entered into political and economic agreements with Russia and welcomed her to the League of Nations. We will no more enter into an alliance directed against Germany than we will enter into an arrangement directed against Russia. If the object of Germany is peace based on justice and equality, let us work together to buttress the rule of law against aggression and to remove the causes, and especially the economic causes, of war.
Surely there are two things which His Majesty's Government should strive to bring Germany to understand. The first 1541 is that, much as we want new friends, we shall never sacrifice old ones; that we are, and shall remain, loyal to our obligations under the Covenant of the League; that we regard neutrality in the event of aggression in Southern or Eastern Europe, as much as in the West, as inconsistent with the obligations of the Covenant; and that we want to welcome Germany to the League as an equal in the fullest sense, that is to say, one who accords to others, including Russia, that equality of status which she rightly demands for herself. Secondly, once Germany returns to the League, joins in a measure of general disarmament, and agrees to abide by third-party judgment in international disputes, there is no price for her friendship that our League obligations permit, that justice and equity demand, and that third-party judgment assesses, that we shall be unwilling to pay. I do not pretend to know exactly what Germany does want. I am not sure if the Secretary of State knows. If he does, I hope he will tell us. Probably Germany would not get all she wants on the basis which I have outlined, but certain it is that there is no other way in which she could get as much. By the League way she would certainly obtain redress of her proved grievances, she would obtain peace for her own people, and she would share in the glory of establishing peace for all mankind.
In his invitation to Baron von Neurath, the Secretary of State naturally insisted that the first subject of discussion should be Spain. Friendship with Germany can only be established on a basis of confidence, and lip service to the principle of non-intervention in the Spanish Civil War, coupled with expressions of determination that one side shall win and that the other side are pirates and Bolsheviks with whom it is scandalous for Britain to associate, must inevitably tend to undermine confidence in this country in German sincerity. It is not my intention to touch this morning upon the "Deutschland" and "Leipzig" incidents, further than to say that I believe His Majesty's Government were right in showing their sympathy with the German Navy in the losses which it sustained in the bombing of the "Deutschland", in condemning the bombardment of Almeria, and in refusing to convict the Spanish Government, without investiga- 1542 tion, of what would, if proved, have been a reckless and criminal attack on the cruiser "Leipzig". I understand that the Prime Minister is going to follow me, and no doubt he will give the House a full account of these incidents; and I would ask if he will tell us how the gap in the patrol system on the East Coast of Spain is going to be filled.
In my last speech on the Spanish situation, I claimed to be a consistent and patient supporter of the policy of nonintervention, but I made it clear on that occasion that my patience would have been exhausted if the Government had not given protection to British food ships sailing to Bilbao. Now I am gratified to note, from a speech delivered by Lord Plymouth at Monday's meeting of the Non-Intervention Committee, that the Government's own patience is wearing thin, that they are deeply disappointed with the results that have so far been achieved on that Committee, and that they regard the present state of affairs as thoroughly unsatisfactory. Even now. Lord Plymouth says that arms and war material continue to reach both sides. Of course, we know that they do. Yet surely the impartiality of that statement is more apparent than real, for nowhere on any Government front does any correspondent of any newspaper report a concentration of aeroplanes and war material in any degree comparable to that which was brought against Bilbao. Papers discovered on the pilots of aeroplanes that were shot down, and shells and bombs that were picked up on the battlefield and in towns and villages behind the line, proved conclusively that the Non-Intervention Agreement was being persistently violated by Germany and Italy on an immense scale. Only yesterday, the "Times" published a dispatch from its Rome correspondent reporting that the fifth list had been issued officially ofItalian legionaries 'killed in the cause of civilisation in the anti-Bolshevist war in Spain',and that the Duce has ordered the names of the Italian legionaries killed in Spain to be added to the list of those who were honoured in the shrines which the Fascist party has erected to the men who gave their lives for the revolution and for the conquest of Abyssinia. The signature of the so-called Gentleman's Agreement between the British and Italian Governments in January was the signal for active 1543 Italian intervention on a scale wholly different from and far larger than had up to that time been attempted.
On 8th March, the question of withdrawing volunteers was put on the Agenda of the Non-Intervention Committee. Even since March it has been allowed to drag on, while the scale of intervention by Italy and Germany has constantly risen. Now the numbers of Italian and German troops, according, I will not say to all the sources, but according to the best sources to which I can obtain access, are nearer 100,000 than 80,000, but I will take the lower figure of 80,000; while the International Brigade on the side of the Government numbers probably from 10,000 to 15,000—take it, if you like, at 20,000. In these circumstances I would ask the Secretary of State a few questions about the scheme of withdrawal which His Majesty's Government are proposing to the Non-Intervention Committee. First, have any of the nations other than Italy and Germany refused in principle to accept the Government's scheme—or perhaps I should not say refused to accept, but so far abstained from intimating their acceptance of the Government's scheme? Secondly, can the Government now give us some details of the scheme? In particular, can the Secretary of State give us an assurance that the rate of withdrawal on each side will roughly be proportional to the number of foreign troops on each side, and that the Spanish Government will not be asked to agree to the withdrawal of equal numbers on both sides? Thirdly, what steps do the Government propose to take if, within a limited period of time, say 10 days or a fortnight, the withdrawal has not begun?
I would suggest two courses. First, an intimation, which need not be couched in hostile terms, by the British and French Governments, that non-intervention has broken down, and that they intend to supply arms under normal commercial arrangements to the Spanish Government. Secondly, the reference of the whole of the Spanish problem to the League of Nations. Let the League send an impartial Commission to ascertain the facts, to find out whether this really is a civil war between two fairly evenly matched parties in Spain, with some foreign support to each, and, if so, let that Commission see if mediation is possible between the two sides so as to bring this 1544 horrible tragedy to an end, and re-establish peace; or whether intervention is on such a scale and so one-sided as to amount to a deliberate attempt by certain foreign Powers, with some Spanish military support, to conquer the Spanish people, to acquire Spanish mineral and other resources, and to occupy in Spain strategic positions which would enable them to dominate the Western entrance to the Mediterranean, to threaten the communications between France and Africa and our trade routes along the West coast of Africa, as well as those through the Mediterranean, and to compel France to send covering troops to her South-Western frontier. General Franco, in an interview with the "Times" correspondent a few days ago, assured him that Gibraltar could never be a cause of anti-British policy in Spain. Why not? Because the Spaniards propose to respect our interests there? Not at all. Because, in his own words, "Gibraltar has lost much of its importance for England." Lord Plymouth said that the British Government felt it impossible to contemplate the lapse of any considerable time before the first practical steps are taken to initiate the withdrawal of foreign nations. I believe it will clear the air, and may even hasten the proceedings of the Non-intervention Committee, of which for my part I do not ask the Government yet to abandon hope, if the Government will tell us what steps they propose to take if no progress is made within the next 10 days or a fortnight.
My own belief is that the time is approaching when the failure of the Non-Intervention Committee may have to be admitted, and when the matter will have to be referred to the League of Nations, for the Government has in recent months forsaken the League, not in theory but in practice. The League, like other organs, must be strengthened by exercise or it will be atrophied by disuse. More than once Lord Baldwin, when Prime Minister, used, in our Abyssinian Debates, the fatal words, "if the League fails," and he went on to say that we must not then despair or give way to disillusionment, but work vigorously to build it up afresh. Twice in this House I denied the possibility of things working out like that. Retreat before the Fascists was fatal and has led us to the brink of disaster. Now what is Lord Baldwin doing? Is he helping to 1545 rebuild the League, to counter this disillusionment? In the last speech but one that he delivered as Prime Minister in the Empire Rally of Youth in the Albert Hall he used these words:The moment of victory may be the beginning of defeat. The days that saw the signing of the Versailles Treaty should both be entered on the credit side? Twenty years ago we should all have said "yes", to-day the reply would be doubtful for both have belied the hopes of mankind and given place to disillusionment.Let the Government use different words and perform different deeds. The League must be strengthened by the British Government's confidence and support, and by its insistence upon the exercise of its functions. Now that other means are failing, let them turn to the League, for it is not in the pursuit of power politics or in groups or alliances that we shall find peace. Only on the basis of law and justice can the love of peace, which the masses of the people in all countries feel, be organised in invincible resistance to agression. The pursuit of selfish national or imperial interests divides. Justice is the unifying principle of world politics, justice strong to resist aggression, and strong also to remedy grievances and to adjust the competing claims of proud and honourable nations.
§ 11.41 a.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)
The right hon. Baronet has given us a comprehensive, thoughtful survey of the whole field of foreign affairs, and I have listened to him with all the more pleasure because here and there I heard a phrase with which I was not in disagreement. I do not rise at this moment for the purpose of replying to him, or indeed of developing most of the subjects on which he touched. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will have an opportunity of speaking later and I have no doubt he will be able to make reply to the points that have been raised. I rise only in order to say a few words about one aspect of foreign policy, and it is one which at present is uppermost in all minds in Europe, the situation arising out of the civil war in Spain. I do not think it ought to be necessary for me to state what is the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to that situation, because it has already been so frequently repeated, but, all the same, I will state it again, because it seems to me that every now and then there is a ten- 1546 dency, amid the strong feelings that are aroused in this connection, to forget what it is that the Government really are aiming at.
In this Spanish situation there is one peculiar feature which gives it a specially dangerous aspect. That is that to many people looking on from outside, it presents itself as a struggle between two rival systems each of which commands an enthusiastic, even a passionate, body of support among its adherents in their respective countries, with the result that supporters of these two rival systems cannot help regarding the issue of the struggle in Spain as a defeat or a victory, as the case may be, for the side to which they are attached. I am not expressing an opinion as to whether that view of the struggle is correct or not, but I say that the fact that it is held constitutes a perpetual danger to the peace of Europe because, if some country or Government representing one of these two ideas attempts to intervene beyond a certain point, then some other country taking the opposite view may find it difficult, if not impossible, to refrain from joining in, and a conflict may be started of which no man can see the end.
In these circumstances, the policy of His Majesty's Government has been consistently directed to one end, and one end only, namely, to maintain the peace of Europe by confining the war to Spain. It is for that purpose that, in conjunction with France, we have worked to set up and, since then, to maintain the Nonintervention Agreement. No body could have had a harder task than the Committee, and we in this country have suffered the usual fate of those who have tried to be impartial. We have been deliberately accused by both sides of partiality towards the other. But although we have had to express as a Government our dissatisfaction with the failure of the scheme of non-intervention, we maintain, though it is true that intervention has gone on, and is going on in spite of the Non-intervention Agreement, that it is also true that up to the present we have succeeded in achieving the object which has been at the back of our policy the whole time. We shall continue to pursue that object and that policy as long as we feel that there is a reasonable hope of avoiding a spread of the conflict. I do not take the view myself that it is fan- 1547 tastic to continue this policy successfully even to the end.
The situation is serious, but it is not hopeless, and, in particular, although it may be true that various countries or various government desire to see one side or the other side successful, there is not a country or a government that wants to see a European war. Since that is so, let us to try to keep cool heads and neither say nor do anything to precipitate a disaster which everybody really wishes to avoid. I think we are bound to recognise that as long as this civil war is going on in Spain——
§ The Prime Minister
Incidents are bound to occur which involve foreign Powers. The very duties which foreign Powers have imposed upon themselves in trying to stop the importation of weapons and ammunition into Spain—[An HON. MEMBER: "What foreign Powers?"]—means that there must be an interference with the course of hostilities. Each side is being deprived of supplies of material of which it feels itself in urgent need.
§ Mr. Morgan Jones
May I ask you, Sir Dennis, on a point of Order, whether Members of this House are to be precluded from expressing their disagreement with the speakers in the ordinary way?
§ The Chairman
In a case of this kind, where the Prime Minister is making a very important speech, I think that it is the general will of the House that, at any rate until he has concluded his speech, there should be no interruptions that would be likely to make it more difficult for the Committee to follow his statement.
§ Mr. Attlee
I quite agree that everybody should be given a free hearing in this House, and a fair hearing, but I cannot agree with you, Sir Dennis, with all respect, that we should make distinctions between one person and another [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, I 1548 suggest that we are all on an equal footing in this House as Members, we all have the right of free speech, and we all have occasionally to submit to interjections, but I submit with great respect to you, that, while an important speech is being made we should all exercise the greatest restraint, this House should draw no distinctions between its Members.
§ The Prime Minister
May I say that I am not making any complaint? It is not a personal matter. It is a very grave subject, and I recognise that people hold very strong views on this subject, and may find it very difficult to restrain expression of those views. I am trying not to put the thing in a provocative way. As far as I am personally concerned, I am not making any sort of complaint. I was trying to put the case to the Committee that the very fact that we are trying to maintain a policy of non-intervention, which is exercised through a patrol by ships belonging to various Powers stopping ships taking arms and ammunition into Spain, involves an interference with the hostilities and, therefore, is bound to create strong feelings of resentment among those in Spain who feel that they are thus being handicapped. That leads to accusations of want of impartiality and counter-accusations, and then to such deplorable incidents as the bombing of the "Deutschland" and destruction by bombing.—[An HON. MEMBER: "And the bombing of Almeria."]—And the bombing of Almeria. Once this chain begins it goes on, first on one side and then on the other.
I am not going to discuss the incidents in which the cruiser "Leipzig" was involved. The German officers on that ship were convinced, on what they thought was indisputable evidence, that they had been the subject of attack by torpedoes. I do not exclude the possibility of a mistake. I know that in the course of the great War many British naval officers thought that they saw torpedo tracks when afterwards it was proved that there could have been no torpedo, and we did not think any the worse of them on that account. They were perfectly genuine in what they said and thought at the time. But whether the German officers are right or wrong, that is what they believe, and in those circumstances it seems to me that their claim, that they could not allow their ships to be exposed any longer to 1549 the risk of such incidents as that, was a reasonable claim, and ought not to be the subject of hostile criticism.
In fact, I go a little further than that. When I think of what the experiences of the German Navy have been, the loss of life and mutilation of men on the "Deutschland" and the natural feelings of indignation and resentment which must be aroused by such an incident, with all that, I must say that I think the German Government in merely withdrawing their ships and then stating that this question is closed have shown a degree of restraint which we all ought to recognise. At any rate, the result of this disappearance of German and Italian ships from the patrol means that there should not be any longer any danger of further incidents of this kind and, in my view, the best thing we can do now is to turn our minds back again to the two practical steps which have to be taken, the first one being to fill the gap in the patrol which has now been left open and the other to re-start our endeavours to obtain the withdrawal of foreign volunteers in Spain.
That is all I have to say at present, and I want to conclude with a very earnest appeal to those who hold responsible positions both in this country and abroad—and I am including the Press and the Members of this House—to weigh their words very carefully before they utter them on this matter, bearing in mind the consequences that might flow from some rash or thoughtless phrase. I have read that in the high mountains there are sometimes conditions to be found when an incautious move or even a sudden loud exclamation may start an avalanche. That is just the condition in which we are finding ourselves to-day. I believe, although the snow may be perilously poised it has not yet begun to move, and if we can all exercise caution, patience and self-restraint we may yet be able to save the peace of Europe.
§ 11.57 a.m.
§ Mr. Attlee
I agree with the Prime Minister that the condition of the world is serious, and that everyone who speaks on these subjects must speak with a full sense of responsibility; but that does not mean, in my view, that there should be a lack of plain speaking, but that we ought to see the facts as they really are. I must say that I was profoundly disappointed with the speech of the Prime 1550 Minister, because it seemed to me that he had misconceived the whole issue that lies before us. He suggested that there was being fought out in Spain, in the opinion of some people, a struggle between two sides, two rival systems. I do not think that is the issue that is facing us to-day. The world to-day is faced with a contest between two sides, and those two sides are whether the rule of law in international affairs shall prevail, or the rule of lawless force. That is the issue that faces us, and we must look at this Spanish struggle in its true perspective.
This Spanish struggle is not as isolated as one might expect. This Spanish struggle is the result of the steady decadence of the situation in the world for the last five or six years. It is merely one step in the continual disregard of the rule of law and increasing aggression all over the world by those who claim to be bound by no rules except that which they conceive to be the interests of their own particular State. That is the thing that has destroyed trust between nations, and has rendered treaties and instruments of agreement of little value, and has brought us all face to face with this position: How is this continual decadence of the situation to be brought to an end? That is the point on which I want to challenge the Government, because I have not got from the Prime Minister any suggestion of any action that will really deal with the position. Let me remind the House of what the situation is. I suggest that we have reached a stage in the tragedy of the massacre of the people of Spain by foreign soldiers, foreign sailors, foreign airmen, equipped with all the most frightful of modern weapons, and we have reached also a stage in a farce—the farce of non-intervention.
What was the case for non-intervention? Non-intervention did not rest on any question of right, justice or international law. The Spanish Government had the right of a Government to seek arms where it could. The Spanish Government, like any Government, had the right to resist rebellion. The nonintervention agreement rested solely on, the basis of expediency, which could be justified only by success. Let me remind the Prime Minister what were the reasons for the adoption of that Non-Intervention Agreement. The first was that there was 1551 great danger that this local struggle might spread into a world struggle, and it was also a great danger that it should be prolonged. The Prime Minister has quite forgotten to-day that non-intervention was not only to try to put a cordon round this struggle, but that it should end soon, because the outstanding danger in the situation was that there might be incidents, and the longer it continued the more likely would be the incidents.
We accepted at the time with great reluctance this non-intervention agreement only providing that the participants in it were honestly determined to make it work, and that the scales were held evenly. I say that it has not been honestly worked, that the scales have not been held evenly and that it has not been a success. At every stage whenever restrictions have been put on they have always been put on first on the Spanish Government, and later on the rebels. Our Government have been extremely chary of admitting the facts of the situation. All the way through we have had constant denial of the sending of arms, the sending of munitions and the sending of men to Spain, and always a little later these facts were established. Overwhelming proof has been shown of the armed and active intervention of foreign Powers in Spain, arid it is not the least good to suggest that non-intervention has been successful. It is really ridiculous to suggest that this intervention has not been done through the active will of foreign Governments. It is no good being more correct than foreign Governments themselves on this point. If it were a question of volunteers going to take part in Spain, a government would not recognise these volunteers officially, and if anything happened to these volunteers, it would not feel that its national pride had been hurt, but you have here, in fact, an acceptance that these people were carrying out the will of their Governments.
What we have had all through is really no genuine attempt to carry out the agreement. The boastings and congratulations in foreign countries really condemn those governments out of their own mouth that they have not attempted to work the Non-Intervention Agreement. Has this course of action prevented incidents? Not in the least. Incidents are constantly arising. You have the incident of the "Deutschland" and the attack on 1552 Almeria which followed. Incidentally, if it is right or natural for Germany to be very upset at the thought of their sailors being destroyed by bombs—and I agree that it is natural—what about the Spanish people, who have seen their women and children destroyed by bombs? I complain that all through there has always been partiality by His Majesty's Government, every incident has always been brushed aside and there has, in fact, been an unwillingness to face facts. Now we have the question of the alleged attack on the "Leipzig." The Prime Minister is right. It may be a mistake. There is absolutely no evidence whatever as to who made the attack on the "Leipzig." These things ought to be established. Any government which feels that it has a grievance and is quite sure of its ground, would not refuse to produce the evidence to convince the world. We have not had that evidence. I do not wish to deal with that incident at the moment, but I want to point out that incidents can occur, have occurred, and may occur, and one cannot tell who produces these incidents or in whose interests they occur.
What, I think, is abundantly clear is that non-intervention has not removed international tension, has not, as a matter of fact, done anything effective to shorten the contest. The contest has been dragging on now month after month, and, so far from non-intervention having stopped the engagement of other States in this struggle, intervention has gone on and on. The Government say that they have been impartial, that they are attacked from either side. I think that all through they have shown decided partiality. I think that they have entirely failed to hold the scales evenly, or to see that the scales are held evenly. We have never demanded that the Government should intervene on its own in Spain. What we have demanded is that they should honestly carry out what they have undertaken. Take the question of Bilbao. Bilbao fell owing to three things—foreign artillery, foreign aircraft, and the blockade. And that blockade was not a blockade by the fleet of General Franco. He could not effect a blockade. It was a blockade by the action of the British Government. I say, having taken pains to verify to the greatest extent I can the facts which have come out in regard to the position in Bilbao, the reports which have been made 1553 by qualified observers on the spot, that this House was not given the facts about Bilbao, that there was a suppression of the facts, and that statements were made which gave a false impression, because events which were supposed to have happened this week happened a long time ago. The Government ought to have known the facts. If they did not, they were inefficient; and if they did know the facts, they were not honest. I say that we were accessories after the fact to the fall of Bilbao, and the Government must take a heavy responsibility.
But far more than that, throughout the whole of this contest the Government has never taken up a strong line and a clear line. We on this side of the House have made our position perfectly clear. We accepted non-intervention only with the greatest reluctance. We said that it could not be justified except by success. We say that it has failed to prevent intervention in Spain, has failed to prevent incidents, and has failed to restore the international situation. Therefore, we demand that it should be ended. I am well aware of the risks of ending non-intervention, and I am quite well aware that these risks have not departed with intervention. If the Government say that non-intervention should not be ended, they must show that there is some prospect of non-intervention succeeding. We have been put off again and again. Each new device is going to be successful; and it is not. Meanwhile world affairs are deteriorating. We demand that the League should act. We claim that it is perfectly useless to shut our eyes to the fact that there is deliberate intervention in Spain. There is no need to produce evidence; you have the confession of the governments concerned. Their whole action shows that they are actively supporting intervention in Spain, and we say that the League must act under the Covenant and take up its responsibilities. We say that the Government of Spain should be allowed to take its armaments wherever it may. It should be restored its full rights, and we claim that Spain has the right of any other member State of the League to call upon the League to stand by it in defence of its integrity and position.
I say that in these difficult matters it is always the first step that counts, that firmness at the start would have prevented this intervention extending. The Govern- 1554 ment always wait before being firm until aggressors are committed to their enterprises. The events in Spain are only a replica in miniature of what has happened in the world during the last five years. Every time the Government have retreated from the obligation of standing by law and order, and the result has been that aggressors feel immune. Support always falls away from those who take a weak attitude. If we want to see an example of that, we have only to look at this House. [Interruption.] Yes, on this very Spanish situation, and Italy also. Originally there were three or four hon. Members below the Gangway opposite who enthusiastically cheered Franco and were supporters of Germany and Italy. For a long time they were the only voices, but when others began to think that Franco might, after all, win, and when the Government were weak, the chorus got louder below the Gangway. Everybody likes to be on the winning side. It is just the same in world affairs. If the Government fail to stand fast by the League, the League is weakened and the time-servers tend to run over to the aggressors.
The question I have to put to the Foreign Secretary on the issue to-day is, What is he going to do to restore the world position? [Laughter] Members laugh, but I have always been brought up to think that the Foreign Secretary of this country had a certain responsibility. If you are never prepared to take a stand, you will just fall behind any dictators, and that is the line of a number of eminently patriotic gentlemen in this House. I am not forgetting what those hon. Members did not so very long ago, when they and their newspapers were calling "Hats off to France". I remember them calling for every sort of vengeance on Germany when we were asking for justice. The time-servers have changed now. Now they will do anything for Germany. We on these benches have always demanded that there should be justice for the German people, and we ask that Germany should be treated on the principles of justice that we want for all nations. If Germany sets up a different morality altogether, then she cannot come into the international court with these claims. It seems that those hon. Members support her only when she is an aggressor, but not when she asks for justice. The issue which I put again 1555 to the Government—if they do not like it put to the Foreign Secretary, I will put it to the Prime Minister—is, What is the policy of the Government to try to restore peace in the world? Whenever we suggest they should stand by the League the answer is "Oh, you want war." I heard the murmur from those Benches to-day. The Government have never stood by anything, and what has been the result?
§ Mr. Attlee
If I may say so without wishing to be personally offensive, that is the Kind of remark that the Gadarene swine might have: made to each other just before they fell into the sea. No one will deny that the situation on all hands is getting more serious. The Government have shown no belief that non-intervention is going to succeed. Lord Plymouth has shown no belief in it. The Government show no faith in it, and we say, "Where is this going to stop?" We are prepared to say that you must stop somewhere. Where will hon. Members below the Gangway opposite stop? Is there anything they will stand for? If their attitude means anything, it means that if anybody shakes his fist the Government must follow that policy, and if we suggest that the Government should stand firm, they say, "Oh, you want war." We think that the time has come when the situation in the world is so serious that we must call in the League, must take steps for the world to deal with it before it goes any further. We have had nearly a year now if these attempts, and things have got worse and worse. We ask for the calling of the League to deal with the Spanish situation, for the calling of the League, as the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) said, to deal with the economic causes of war.
We look to the dangers of this Spanish struggle as not affecting Spain alone. They affect law and order everywhere. In Central Europe there is great nervousness. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary will be able to say something to us about the situation in Central Europe. The nervousness comes about from the fact that they see everywhere acts of aggression acquiesced in. I am not suggesting that 1556 we should use strong language, or violent language, but I am suggesting that we should use firm language. The whole experience of this Spanish business has been that when anything like firm language has been used the situation has become better. It happened on two occasions, once when it was used by France, and once when it was used by this country—yesterday. There was at once a better situation. I suggest that the right way to treat the dangers that beset the world is by adherence to principle, by standing firm with the League. I say that is the only way in which you will maintain the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Prime Ministers of the Dominions have spoken their word on this. I think they appreciate quite plainly what the world situation is and what is the real issue.
I will come back to that real issue. The real issue in this business of Spain is whether the Spanish people are to be allowed to deal with their own affairs themselves without the intervention of other Powers, and whether the rights of the Spanish Government will be upheld like those of any other Government. But behind that is the question of whether in the world as it is to-day we are to give up all idea of an ordered world, all idea of the rule of law, all idea of the sanctity of treaties, and leave naked force to rule the world. I say that is the thing that is leading to war. That is the danger we have to face.
§ 12.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition reproached the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for not shouldering his responsibility and for not taking the lead which he thinks the Foreign Secretary of this country should take. There is a certain responsibility that rests on the Leader of the Opposition himself, and the speech he made to-day was irresponsible. I should describe it as a cheap speech, as back-chat with these benches, as not really dealing with the great issues that are before us at the present time. What is the world to think of that speech? The right hon. Gentleman charged the Government with partiality, but he did not bring a scrap of evidence to support that accusation. The right hon. Gentleman has treated this important question, and indeed the whole question of foreign affairs, 1557 in a very light way. He has tried to make party capital out of these serious matters. He said that non-intervention should be abolished, but what does he propose should take its place? How does he propose that the League should act in these circumstances? The right hon. Gentleman must answer that question. Hon. Members opposite are always talking about the League, but they do not tell us what the League should do. What action do they propose that it should take—military action, economic action? They do not follow their arguments to the end, and that sort of thing will not do, nor will it lead to peace in the world. There is no desire in this country—the by-elections have shown it—to break away from the policy of non-intervention. When the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition speaks about responsibility, he should bear in mind his own responsibility.
I am told on very good authority that in Italy there is at the present time considerable anxiety with regard to the policy of Great Britain. [Interruption.] Let hon. Members wait to hear what I have to say. It is being said in Italy that they are not so much afraid of an attack from this country while our present Government is in power, but that the moment the rearmament programme reaches its peak, it is possible—of course, in Italy they do not study our by-elections as we do—there might be a Labour Government in Power and that then war would certainly follow. That is a view which is held in Italy to-day, and it is that sort of feeling in the world which creates a good deal of disturbance. Therefore, hon. Members opposite should bear in mind that they also have their responsibilities. If a situation arose in Spain in which it became clear that certain foreign Powers meant to establish themselves there—the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition referred to that aspect of the question—and cross our trade routes and those of France, a very different situation would arise. [Interruption.] It would have to be much clearer that it is to-day.
§ Mr. Mander
If that situation did arise, would the hon. Member mind saying what action he would recommend that this country should take?
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
A situation of that nature would be very serious. If those 1558 circumstances did arise—I do not admit that they have arisen at the present time—
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
We should make it perfectly clear that we would not allow that situation to continue. [An hon. Member: "Even by force?"] It was stated by the Foreign Secretary in his speech at Leamington that there are certain vital interests of this country for which we would fight.
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
In certain clear and definite circumstances. The Foreign Secretary's speech at Leamington made it clear on what terms we would fight, and we on these Benches stand by that speech. However, I would ask hon. Members to realise that Spain is only a part of Europe, and is important only in so far as it concerns Germany, and in so far as it affects the relations of Germany with the remainder of Europe. A great number of efforts have been made in recent years by well-intentioned private individuals who have gone to Berlin in an endeavour to find some basis of agreement between this country and Germany. I believe those endeavours have been wholly mischievous, They have been followed almost immediately by rebuffs, and the last rebuff which this country suffered was the cancellation of Baron von Neurath's visit. It is true that the Government have endeavoured during the last few years to establish contact with Germany with a view to finding some concrete basis on which the aspirations expressed in Herr Hitler's speech could be translated into facts, but it has not been possible, although that has not been due to any unwillingness on the part of the Government, which has gone to the limit—sometimes beyond it, in my view—in its endeavours and anxiety to come to some arrangement with Germany. We find ourselves in a difficult position at the present time. The German press is attacking us vigorously, belying the smooth phrases which we receive through official channels. That is illustrated in the case of the "Leipzig" incident, by the re- 1559 fusal of the German Government to come to any decision to submit the matter to investigation. They want to be the judge, the plaintiff and the executioner, and that is a conception of justice to which we could never in any circumstances agree.
I wish now to turn from the question of Spain and the direct relations between Germany and this country to the problem of Central Europe, which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair). He made the important statement that in regard to Central Europe we could never maintain neutrality. That is a very important statement, for Czechoslovakia is undoubtedly, by common consent, a danger point in Central Europe. To-morrow it may be Austria, Poland or the Baltic States, In regard to Czechoslovakia, the right hon. Gentleman said that we could never maintain neutrality.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I said that neutrality was inconsistent with our obligations under the Covenant of the League.
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
I want the right hon. Gentleman to implement that statement further. What does he mean by it? Does he mean that we should intervene in case of an attack on Czechoslovakia?
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I certainly mean that the League of Nations should intervene and that we should play our part as a loyal member of the League. I do not want to develop it further than that, because I think it would be trespassing too far on the indulgence of the House, but I hope to have some future opportunity of going into the matter further.
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
That is the point about which I wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, and it is a very important one. I believe that we have ultimate interests in Eastern Europe. We are bound to consider British interests and what happens on the Eastern frontiers of Europe is a British interest. We should be profoundly affected if Czechoslovakia were overrun, and if Czechoslovakia, and then the whole of Central Europe, and if, perhaps, the Ukraine came under the domination of Germany. Germany would dominate the Balkans and control Italy. We should then be faced by a vast combination. Germany would indeed have attained self-sufficiency, by other means 1560 than those which she is adopting at the present moment, with these vast resources of raw material and of man-power.
We have never in our history allowed any one Power to gain military control on the Continent. Therefore, it is important that we should think out now what action we propose to take, if action should be necessary. There are three courses open to us. Should we find our interests so vitally affected, if such an invasion took place, that we would act as we did in the case of Belgium in the war? Should we, on the other hand, adopt the policy of America, a waiting policy until we made up our minds that some action was necessary? Or should we stand aside altogether, pracidly and calmly, and allow the creation of this tremendous instrument to take place? We cannot at present give a definite reply to those three questions. It is not possible to do so at this stage, but the ultimate interest of this country in Eastern Europe will fundamentally affect our policy, and we cannot ignore these possibilities. We must realise that we may be faced with this issue, perhaps in the not very distant future. And it is not only in material matters that we are affected. If we were certain that this vast experiment would be carried through successfully, then I believe that once we made up our minds that our awn democratic ideals and principles were jeopardised and that France and ourselves were left alone as the last guardians of liberty in Western Europe, this country would not only be compelled to act, but would use all its resources in order to protect its ideals.
§ 12.39 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Roberts
I beg to move, to reduce the Vote by £100.
This is a general Debate on foreign affairs but before dealing with any of the main questions involved I wish to refer to one or two points which are relatively minor, but are nevertheless of consideraable importance to those concerned. The British Government have, to some extent rightly, claimed that our record in the Spanish conflict has at least been marked by the humanitarian work we have been able to do in lessening the suffering involved. Other countries, I would point out, have also taken their part in that work. The French Government, in par- 1561 ticular, have been, and are now very generous hosts to a large number of refugees, and those are, by no means, refugees from one side only in the Spanish conflict.
I wish to ask the Under-Secretary what is the situation at the present time with regard to refugees from the North of Spain. In the "Times" to-day I see a report that the "Habana," the principal ship used for transporting refugees from the North of Spain to France, has been laid up in France now for over a week. I am not clear from the answers given in the House in the last few days what the situation is. Two refugee ships from Santander have arrived in France. One of these, a British ship, received naval protection. Something happened with regard to this matter about a week ago and there was a statement to the effect that the British Navy was not protecting the refugee ships. I would like to ask whether any refugee ships have been arrested or molested as a result of lack of British protection?
Can the hon. Member say in what way British ships were not protecting the refugee ships?
§ Mr. Roberts
My information is that ships transporting refugees from Bilbao and from Santander were not, in fact, protected.
§ Mr. Roberts
That there were no British ships within sight and that, when called upon in one instance, they did not appear.
§ The Chairman rose——
§ The Chairman
The hon. and gallant Member will please be seated when I rise. He cannot intervene unless the hon. Member gives way.
I beg your pardon, Sir Dennis. Will the hon. Member allow me to ask him a further question? 1562 Does he not understand that it would not be necessary for British men-of-war to be in sight in order to give protection at sea?
§ Mr. Roberts
I am quite aware of that fact. I am asking a question of the Under-Secretary. I want to know whether the information which I have received on the matter is correct or not. I make no reflection whatever on the British Navy, whose work in the protection of refugee ships has been magnificent and fully in accord with the best traditions of the British Navy.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby
In order to clear the matter up, would the hon. Member say whether he was suggesting that protection was not given outside territorial waters, that is, on the high seas, or that the protection was not given inside territorial waters? I think that is the real point at issue.
§ Mr. Roberts
I am aware that that is a possible explanation. But statements have been made that the British Navy would not give protection to ships carrying refugees between one Spanish port and another. Statements have also been made that protection would not be given, or was not in one case given, to ships sailing from Santander to France, while it had been agreed that protection would be given to ships sailing from Bilbao to France. I am asking the Under-Secretary for a full statement as to what the situation is. I make no reflection, at this stage, upon anybody, but if it is found that protection has not been given, then I would point out to the Committee that the conditions of the thousands of refugees who have fled from Bilbao are perhaps the most pitiful that have yet been suffered by any refugees in this conflict. The number is very large, probably running into more than 100,000. These people are homeless. They are without shelter, they are living in the open fields, their food is exceedingly scarce, they have already been subjected to serious attack from the air by German aeroplanes, and may at any time be subject to wholesale slaughter should that policy commend itself to the commanders on one side in Spain.
I placed a Question on the Order Paper asking whether, to use the phrase which was used by the Non-intervention Committee, any attempt to humanise the war 1563 —I agree that to humanise war is perhaps a contradiction in terms, so I will say rather any attempt to mitigate the sufferings which are being caused by the war—observers might not be sent to Bilbao at the present time. The position there is that the town was eventually surrendered, and I would like to point out one feature of that surrender, which was that a part of the forces defending Bilbao remained behind and surrendered themselves in order that they might safely hand over the political prisoners which have been in Bilbao to the advancing forces of General Franco. That, I believe, is an absolutely established fact, and it is characteristic of the way that the Basques have conducted this war, of their magnanimity and their courage against tremendous odds.
I believe that at the present time 40 courts-martial have been set up to try the political opponents of General Franco who have been captured at Bilbao, and I ask that, if it is impossible to persuade the authorities now in Bilbao to accept some officer who might mediate on behalf of some of these men on trial, at least the British Government will ask that there should not be a repetition of what hap-paned in San Sebastian, where 1,500 people were shot on the occupation of that city, and what also happened in Malaga. Some of us on all sides of the House have done our best, on the Government side, to bring an influence to bear to prevent some of the greater cruelties of this war being perpetrated, and I think we have a right, from all sides of this House, to ask that General Franco shall not press his victory home with that cruelty which has been displayed in some parts of Spain. I hope that I shall find some basis of agreement in all parts of the House when I say that we all want to prevent this war in Spain developing into an international war. I am not quite sure whether so many of us really agree with those of us on this side when we say that we also want the Spanish people to be left to decide their own political future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Some hon. Members opposite applaud that, but I am not quite sure that in fact they would not rather see, if it came to that decision, a dictatorial form of government forced upon Spain rather than certain other types of government.
§ Mr. Roberts
But we all agree that we want to prevent the spread of this war, and what we are divided on is the best method for preventing the war spreading to the whole of Europe. There are some of us who have thought that the Non-Intervention Agreement was a policy which the Government developed to meet the special circumstances of this conflict, but that it is essentially a movement away from this procedure and back to the old secret diplomacy. I would like to take up the challenge of the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Emrys-Evans) when he said, "What do you want the League to do?" I know exactly what I want the League to do. I want the League to recognise that this is an international conflict which is at present confined by a sort of mutual but unexpressed agreement to Spain, but it is in fact an international conflict. I want the League to take up the request which the Spanish Government made at the last Council meeting that a commission of investigation should be sent there, and I suggest that, if either party in the Spanish conflict refuses to accept that condition of investigation, if either party refuses to agree to the withdrawal of foreign volunteers, if either party refuses to submit to that investigation as to the extent of foreign intervention, then it be treated as an aggressor in the war and that the League procedure be applied to that party as an aggressor.
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
Would the hon. Member suggest that the League should apply military sanctions? Would he suggest that the League should take military steps against that party?
§ Mr. Roberts
I wonder what the hon. Member means by "military sanctions." I wonder whether the present control scheme does not, in fact, rest entirely on force and whether it is not in fact a naval sanction, applied ostensibly to-both sides, but, as we on this side of the House believe, in practice to the great disadvantage of one side. If by military sanctions he means the sort of naval control which has been attempted, and has been partially successful, then certainly I mean naval and military sanctions. What is the ultimate sanction of the observers on the borders of Portugal and France? It is the sanction of force, and if that is what he means by military sanctions, then by all means. 1565 apply naval and military sanctions. We insist that the control scheme has worked very one-sidedly. I put a question down for to-day, and I am afraid that I got a little confused as to the procedure which should be adopted for questions on a Friday. But the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs gave me an answer, which I will read. My question was:whether any information has been received by the Non-Intervention Committee from the officers appointed under the control scheme as to the passage of war materials into Spain either by land or sea; and whether any war materials have, in fact, been prevented from passing into Spain by the control scheme since it was established.The answer that I received was as follows:I understand that the Non-Intervention Board have not received any reports of the arrival in Spain of prohibited cargoes on ships which have submitted to the observation scheme or over the land frontiers. A number of ships have been reported as having failed to comply with the procedure laid down under the scheme, but in all these cases satisfactory explanations have subsequently been received. The general impression of the Board is that the scheme, so far as it goes, is working effectively and well, and that such arms and munitions as are continuing to reach Spain from abroad are coming through the gaps in the scheme of which the House has already heard. His Majesty's Government are now giving very careful thought to the possibility of filling these gaps.I am not clear whether I was the first to draw the attention of this House to one of the main gaps, but I remember putting a Question on the Order Paper—I cannot at the moment give the date—in which I asked whether the control scheme would or would not apply to ships flying the Spanish flag. The Government have been seeking a means; they have been giving careful thought to the possibility of filling these gaps. That is the answer we have received to this question whenever we have asked it ever since the control scheme was introduced. I suggest that under the present procedure there is no means of filling the three main gaps. It is true that both sides can import arms from ships and aeroplanes. There is a great advantage to the insurgents in that they can obtain an enormous quantity of aeroplanes. Although the gaps may on paper work equally to the advantage of both sides, the greater advantage in fact is on the insurgent side. This matter has been discussed very frequently and the difficulty, when finally a suggestion of 1566 aerial control was made, was that the replies received were definitely negative from Germany, Italy and Portugal.
Recent events in Spain have proved up to the hilt the contention I am making. The fall of Bilbao has been due to the control scheme and the gaps in it and nothing else. While it has been almost completely impossible for the Basque Government to obtain arms by sea, it has been possible for the insurgents to get large numbers of aeroplanes by air and munitions by sea. All the evidence which has been obtained from pilots who have been shot down—and very few have been shot down, because the Spanish Government have had no anti-aircraft guns owing to the control scheme—shows that several of them have come in since 20th February with passports stamped in Germany and Italy with the full knowledge, apparently, of their governments. Pilots and an enormous quantity of guns and munitions have also come in. Bilbao to-day would not be in the hands of the insurgents but for the gaps in the control scheme on the insurgent side and the effectiveness with which it has been carried out against the Basque Government.
In moving this reduction I want to ask the Under-Secretary what steps he thinks are possible to fill the gaps to which he refers. I hope that after the withdrawal of Germany and Italy from the naval control scheme, the gaps there will be filled up by the British and French navies. If Germany and Italy do not wish to participate in the actual control scheme, I see no difficulty in the French and British navies taking on that work. I hope that the question of volunteers and of aerial control will be referred to the League of Nations, to a more effective tribunal than the Non-intervention Committee has been. I would ask the Under-Secretary what objection there is now to that procedure? During the Abyssinian crisis 50 nations agreed to sanctions against Italy. Can there be any comparison in the honesty with which those sanctions, ineffective as they were, were carried out, and the dishonesty and ineffectiveness with which the agreement not to supply either side with arms has been carried out under the non-intervention scheme? Can the Under-Secretary give us any good reason why, 1567 in view of the one-sided way in which the present policy has worked, the matter should not be referred to the League of Nations?
§ 1.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson
I listened with regret to the speech of the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mr. Emrys-Evans) in which he, for some reason, thought fit to make some personal references to the Leader of the Opposition. I can assure the hon. Member that no one on this side of the House wishes to treat the international situation lightly, as was suggested by him.
§ Mr. Emrys-Evans
I was replying to the attacks made by the right hon. Gentleman on a number of hon. Members on this side of the Committee. It seemed to me that I was justified in making some remarks in reply.
§ Mr. Henderson
I was not going to bandy words with the hon. Member as to whether he was justified. I was saying that he accused the Leader of the Opposition with treating the international situation in a light manner. I can assure the hon. Member, that after six years of rule by the present Government, the international situation is so grave that no Member on his side wishes in any respect to treat the position lightly. He then proceeded to issue a general challenge as to how the League was to work in connection with this very serious situation. I was glad that the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken answered his challenge. I believe that all hon. Members on this side will associate themselves with what he said. I have always taken the view since August of last year, when evidence first began to be published as to the intervention on the part of Germany and Italy, that there were all the elements of aggression present in Spain. We hear many people arguing about the merits of this civil war. I have always been brought up to understand that a civil war was a contest between the inhabitants of a country as to which form of government should control the country. I believe I am right in suggesting that for the first time in the recent history of Europe we are faced with strife in a country where perhaps the majority of those fighting on one side are foreigners in that country.
1568 It seems to me farcical to talk about the present struggle in Spain as an orthodox civil war. There are all the elements of aggression on the part of two foreign governments, and the unfortunate—and I believe dangerous—situation that we find to-day may well have its repercussion in the future. It seems to me that a new technique of aggression has been developed. A country does not declare war. It sends its soldiers and its airmen and its aeroplanes into the other country unofficially. How many times have we heard the Foreign Secretary and the Under-Secretary get up and say they have no official information as to the sending of foreign troops into Spain? This new technique of aggression means that countries send soldiers and aeroplanes in exactly the same way as if they had formally declared war. The position is well covered, it seems to me, by Article II of the League Covenant which provides that when there is a war or any threat of war the League is entitled to take such action as it may deem wise and effectual to safeguard the peace of nations. In any emergency it is possible for any member of the League to request forthwith that a meeting of the Council shall be held.
Therefore, it will not avail His Majesty's Government to say it is not any particular responsibility of theirs. If they so desire they are entitled, acting unilaterally, so to speak, to ask for an emergency meeting of the Council of the League in order to deal with the position that has arisen in Spain. We are asked what we would have the League do. There are many sanctions that can be enforced. Speaking for myself, and I believe for other hon. Members on this side, I would much rather have the operations which are now the responsibility of the Non-Intervention Committee made the direct responsibility of the Council of the League. I would not restrict responsibility to 27 nations. If I am right in my premise that there are all the elements of a state of international war in Spain, then I suggest that under the Covenant it becomes the responsibility of the Council of the League to Act.
May I ask the hon. Member a question about the action of the League? Suppose sanctions were imposed by the League, that would mean sanctions by this country, and perhaps France. We are the only two great 1569 Powers that would act. Italy and Germany would not act. In the end we should have to have a blockade of Spanish territory. Would the hon. Member then suggest that if the ships of Germany or Italy tried to break through that blockade, we should take military action with our ships against the ships of Germany or Italy? If we did, it would mean that we were prepared to go to war with those countries.
§ Mr. Henderson
May I reply to that very hypothetical question by giving a definite answer? It is a hypothetical question, because Germany and Italy today are bound by their adherence to the principle of non-intervention. They have maintained throughout that they are not seeking in any way to break their adherence to the non-intervention agreement. Therefore, I suggest that it is a hypothetical question.
§ Mr. Henderson
I suggested that nonintervention as long as it existed should be made the responsibility of the League, and not merely the responsibility of 27 nations. I am quite prepared to face up to the question whether or not non-intervention should be abolished. In my opinion one-sided non-intervention is not non-intervention at all. If we are only going to have one-sided non-intervention, then the sooner the whole question of non-intervention is faced up to and the system ended, the better it will be for all concerned. In that case, assuming non-intervention is terminated, and assuming the matter is placed under the control and responsibility of the League, I would answer the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question by saying that in so far as Germany and Italy or any other country seeks to commit aggression against any country belonging to the League, then, unless we are a lot of humbugs in this House, and unless the Government are going to be guilty of hypocrisy—because they have stated repeatedly that their foreign policy is loyalty to the League of Nations—we must be prepared to face up to our obligations under the Covenant whatever may be the consequences.
1570 I am quite prepared to admit that public opinion in this country since the outbreak of war in Spain has been more or less in favour of non-intervention, but I believe that the logic of events since the outbreak of the war is causing a profound change to take place in public opinion on this matter. It is becoming more and more evident, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said a little while ago, that non-intervention is becoming a farce, indeed a tragic farce, as a result of the violation of the principle of non-intervention by the Italian and German Governments. Since July of last year the Italians have poured men and aeroplanes and munitions of war into Spain in support of General Franco. Today it is estimated that not less than 80,000 Italians are serving in Spain, practically all of them equipped with the orthodox Italian army equipment, and they are working Italian guns and Italian machine guns. As to aeroplanes, we know that as far back as September last year it was reported in the "Times" that it was known that 24 Italian aeroplanes were landed at Vigo on 28th August. Since that date there have been frequent reports of the arrival of aeroplanes and their participation in the conflict. Yesterday the "Times" printed a statement that 218 enemy machines had been shot down by Italian airmen. That is an Italian Government statement, and it was added that 27 Italian pilots who had lost their lives were to have their names added to the list put up in the various shrines erected by the Fascist party of men who gave their lives to the conquest of Abyssinia.
§ Mr. Henderson
I think my hon. Friend had better put that question to Signor Mussolini, who is responsible for the statement. I am quoting from an Italian Government official statement. If it is true that some of them were British aeroplanes, I doubt whether the hon. Gentleman who interjected that question would go so far as to suggest that the British Government were officially responsible for sending aeroplanes. I, on the other hand, suggest that there is evidence that the Italian Government arid the German Government have been themselves responsible for sending aeroplanes into 1571 Spain. It is interesting to observe that the names have been inscribed on the shrines of the Fascist party, which already contain the names of men who gave their lives in the Abyssinian war. I heard the other day, from some one who has just come back from Italy, that there is a common rumour in that country that the thousands of men who have been fighting in Spain were under the impression, when they left their own country, that they were going on garrison duty in Abyssinia, and realised that they had been deceived only when they found themselves actually in Spain. Possibly that explains the anxiety to enshrine their names the Abyssinian honour role.
At Malaga on 14th January this year, Reuter reported that 5,000 Italians were included in the rebel force attacking that town. We have had reports that there is a well-organised Italian force before Madrid, estimated by the Spanish Government to number at least 50,000; they have taken part in the attack in the direction of Guadalajara. We know, from reports of the fighting which took place there a month or two ago, that hundreds of Italians were captured, and that copies of the special army order issued by Signor Mussolini to the generals with that force were found.
On the question of German participation, we know that the Basque Government have made an official report to His Majesty's Government that the aeroplanes responsible for the destruction of Guernica were German. Our own Government made a request or a suggestion that an international inquiry should be held into the bombing of Guernica, with a view to ascertaining the facts; is it not significant that the Italian Government have opposed the suggestion, and that the German Government have not seen fit to make any reply at all? Since then, two or three German pilots have been on trial in Bilbao. I suggest to hon. Members who have read the evidence given at that trial that it proves conclusively that German aeroplanes and pilots have taken a prominent part in the attack at Bilbao. We have the authority of the Foreign Secretary, so far as Bilbao is concerned. He stated in this House the other day:I have good reason to believe that the aircraft employed by the insurgent forces in the recent attacks on Bilbao include the three 1572 main types of service land aircraft, namely, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and fighters. Such information as is in my possession tends to show that these aircraft are of types of Italian and German manufacture in each category."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1937; col. 817, Vol. 325.]We also have statements issued on the authority of the German Government themselves. Yesterday, in the "Times," we find quotations or extracts from the German Government's explanatory statement in connection with the Leipzig incident. What does that statement contain? I will quote it. This is from the official statement issued by the German Government themselves this week:It is not Germany that wants to make Spain a province of the German Reich or of the National Socialist movement, but Bolshevist Moscow, that wants to make it a section of the Comintern."—
§ Mr. Henderson
Very well, but let me go on:To hinder that"—that is, to hinder the Comintern seeking to make of Spain a section of the Comintern, the German Government say that itwas naturally in Germany's interests, as in that of Europe and the whole world. All other assertions about Germany's territorial ambitions in Spain … are lies.In other words, if you exclude any suggestion that Germany has territorial interests in Spain, it is true that the German Government, in the interests of Europe and the world, have taken steps to hinder what is taking place in Spain to-day, based upon their allegation that it is the responsibility of the Comintern. That is a frank admission that Germany has intervened in the War in Spain. [Interruption.] An hon. Gentleman says that no one has denied it. I am pointing out that the statement of the German Government is an admission of it.
The editorials in Germany are controlled, and therefore anything in them must be consistent with the policy of the Government, but I read in the "Frankfurter Zeitung":Germany's aim in Spain—a truly independent and free Spain—is one of the few positive values remaining on the ruins of the policy of collaboration.It may be argued that there is no evidence of intervention subsequent to the agreement being signed that volunteers should not be sent to Spain by any of the 1573 signatory Governments; so far as I am concerned, it is immaterial whether volunteers were sent before 20th February or afterwards, except that volunteers sent after 20th February would be sent in breach of faith on the part of the Government concerned. It would be one of the many breaches of faith to which we are becoming accustomed from some countries. These Totalitarian volunteers, to use the phrase of my hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker), seemed to be able freely to leave Italy and Gemany, when, as everybody knows, it is extremely difficult for even a civilian to leave those countries without the permission of their Governments. It is immaterial, also, provided that we accept the evidence that they were sent there with the knowledge and approval of, and in fact by, their respective Governments. As I have suggested, there seems to be ample evidence that the German and Italian Governments have been responsible for sending those thousands of troops into Spain.
For nine months now, His Majesty's Government have apparently allowed themselves to be fooled by these countries. While their persistence in overlooking flagrant violations of the principle of nonintervention may do justice to their patience, in my opinion it does not do justice to their intelligence. When one hears the Foreign Secretary say that he has no official information when everybody knows that there is no doubt that thousands of foreign soldiers have entered Spain, it does not do justice to their intelligence. The policy of the Government has been one of flaccidity in this matter, and has largely contributed to the very dangerous situation in which we find ourselves. As the right hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate said, the firmness that has been shown by His Majesty's Government in respect of the "Leipzig" incident, clearly demonstrates the value of firmness and the extent to which it would help to stabilise the position and prevent the possibility of serious international incidents occurring.
Germany and Italy still have it in their power to assist in the appeasement of Europe, and no one on this side of the House would seek to ostracise Germany or in any way to place Germany outside the comity of nations, but there is a saying, in the equity courts in this country, that a litigant, coming into those 1574 courts, must come with clean hands. In effect, that means that if they want equity they must have done equity in their individual lives. If Germany wishes the comity of nations to ensure that she obtains equity in her national desires and rights, Germany can do much to restore the confidence of the world by co-operating, even with the Non-Intervention Committee and with the League of Nations, in the event of it becoming a matter for the Council of the League to deal with the Spanish situation as a matter of international concern. Let her demonstrate her bona fides by withdrawing all her German soldiers and air pilots from Spain, and by using her great influence with the Italian Government to persuade them to do likewise in the case of Italian soldiers. That would do more to restore confidence and help to stabilise the peace of the world than any measure of withdrawing from this scheme or any other scheme and seeking to persuade the world that it is all due to the wicked British seeking to thwart her legitimate desires. If Germany does that, I am sure that all sections of this House will be only too anxious and glad to co-operate with her.
§ 1.26 p.m.
§ Colonel Gretton
The hon. Member for Kingswinford (Mr. A. Henderson) has made, as he always does on these occasions, an interesting speech, but it appears to me that he has not told the House what he really considers should be done. Like other hon. Members, he has urged the-Government to put the case with regard to the civil war in Spain into the hands of the League of Nations. Has he already forgotten, and have other hon. Members already forgotten, what happened when the League of Nations was invoked in regard to Abyssinia? There was a great agitation in this country, in which hon. Members in Opposition in this House took a leading part. We went very far in applying the principles of Articles X and XVI of the Covenant to Italy on that occasion, but the Italian Government were not restrained; they persisted with their conquest in Abyssinia in spite of all that the League did.
The League failed because the great armed Powers except France and the British Empire remain outside the League. It failed because there were not armed forces sufficient to induce the Italian Government not to proceed, and incidentally 1575 we suffered one of the gravest diplomatic rebuffs that has happened to this country in modern times. Hon. Members seem to forget that that all happened before we seriously undertook our rearmament programme. We have not proceeded very far with that undertaking. It is a five-years scheme, and only a short portion of that period has now elapsed. Our rearmament is by no means complete, and, when hon. Members in this House or outside counsel action which may lead us into taking warlike measures, they should count the cost, they should count the strength which they can apply before they commit themselves to any rash adventure.
A good deal has been said about the Non-intervention Agreement, and it is admitted, I think, by the Government and by everyone that it has not proved satisfactory. There is great danger of its breaking down altogether, and there is only a shadow of it left at the present moment. There is another alternative, to which I will refer very briefly before I sit down. It seems to me that some of the statements which have been made have been made without a full recognition of the facts. Before the Non-Intervention Agreement was made, any Government was free to assist either side in Spain with armaments, munitions and men, and hon. Members must not forget that the Governments of Germany and Italy, in acting in that way, were not bound by the terms of the Covenant. It must be remembered that, before the date of the Non-Intervention Agreement, the Government of Madrid, and afterwards when it was moved to Valencia, received large quantities of ammunition, guns, and aeroplanes and large numbers of men from Russia and from France, both of which countries were and are members of the League of Nations. I would ask hon. Members to remember that fact, that great numbers of men, aeroplanes, guns, tanks, and great quantities of ammunition and supplies of all kinds, were forwarded to Spain before the non-intervention arrangement was set up.
Hon. Members of the Opposition take the view that there is only one side in the Spanish civil war, which we all equally deplore, that is worthy of consideration, and that is the Government which has been set up at Valencia. But I would ask them to reflect that General 1576 Franco and his Junta, or the National Forces, or whatever they may be called, have established themselves in more than half of Spain, and that the Government so established is accepted by the people behind the fighting line. It is a remarkable fact that General Franco's lines of communication, which are very long and would be most difficult to defend from attack, are perfectly safe. That is an incontrovertible sign that General Franco's Junta, or General Franco himself, is generally acceptable to the people behind the fighting line.
There is another line of policy which the Government might adopt. We are not in a position to-day to undertake armed warlike measures, and it would be foolish and dangerous for us to challenge a situation which may easily lead to that event without any corresponding advantage to this country. Most of us will agree that other circumstances might arise in one part of the world or another which would force us to fight for our national existence and our national freedom. Those vital matters do not arise in the present difficulties of Spain. There is another course. We have not tried the orthodox, regular, clear policy of recognising both sides as belligerents and acting as a neutral Power. The lines of neutrality in those conditions are well established. Such difficulties as have existed were cleared away and regularised by the events of the great War. We should then be able to play our part even in restraining supplies of munitions of war. Our policy would be clearly understood by every nation and every Government in the world. There is a good precedent. In the Civil War of 1861 in the United States we adopted that policy some three months or so after the outbreak of hostilities, and we rigidly and honestly adhered to it. The defeat of the Confederates was principally brought about by the blockade, which their forces were not powerful enough to break.
We are suffering, and have suffered for months past, from want of clearness and decision in the policy that has been adopted by the Foreign Secretary. We have made declarations in one sense and modified them in another, sometimes through pressure of the Opposition in the House, and sometimes the right hon. Gentleman has appeared more anxious to take a line of his own. It would be 1577 greatly to the advantage of the country if we had a definite and clear policy laid down. We also want greater frankness to our own people in order that they may learn more about the real perils of the situation and how right the late Prime Minister was when he addressed the youth in the Albert Hall and called their attention to the weakness of the League of Nations. It is merely a device of man trying to seek a way out of international difficulties into the ways of peace. So far as the League of Nations has failed, and continues to fail, to provide for the peace of the world, it is no more worthy of respect and support than any other human institution. In face it may become, and is becoming, a danger to international peace if it induces this country or other countries to undertake policies and adventures which they are powerless to pursue and for which their armed forces are insufficient. I regret this constant lip-service paid to the League of Nations and the abandonment of the true lines of definite policy which foreign nations and our own people might understand.
§ 1.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Lansbury
I take part in this discussion with some temerity, because I have been taking a point of view with which my hon. Friends above the Gangway will probably thoroughly disagree. I took a line on the question of Abyssinia which I have taken all my life about war. I fought my election on that issue, and I should like to read to those who feel so thoroughly scornful about it what I said to my constituents:I am a pacifist because I accept as literally true the words, 'Those who take the sword shall perish by the sword'. I gave up the leadership of the party because I know it is impossible to cast out war by war, or to establish peace by brute force, whether the war is a collective or a national war. I cannot support war under any conditions.That is my justification to my colleagues in the Labour party for standing by the principles which I advocated and put in writing in my election address. My constituents gave me the biggest majority I have ever had at Bow and Bromley, and they will not question a single vote or no vote that I may have given or may not have given in the House on this subject. Going about the country, I have found at Labour meetings, at church meetings and other places very consider- 1578 able support for the point of view that I took in my election address. I do not believe that you can make peace by mere words. I do not believe that you can make peace just by sentiment. I believe that those who want peace must endeavour to find and will the means to peace, and I consider that the history of Europe since the close of the Great War has proved conclusively that, unless you remove the causes of war, you cannot hope to secure peace.
My disagreement with my hon. Friends is that they continually put in the forefront of their demands that collective security can be obtained by collective mass action, the piling up of collective force on one side in order to deal with a potential aggressor who may not be quite so strong. It is held that the presence of that great massed power will of itself prevent aggression. It has not done so since the War. It did not do so in South America, where no one that I know of paid very much attention to the fact that two nations belonging to the League decimated themselves with arms supplied by other members of the League. It was far away, and precious little interest was taken in that war. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was of no political importance."] Be that as it may, the fact remains that the proposition that our friends put up in regard to the League of Nations did not operate there, and it did not operate in the very much more serious case of Japan and China. I was very much called to task because as leader of the Labour party I gave up pursuit of the proposal that there should be interference in Japan. I gave it up because I was convinced that the kind of interference that I was being asked to demand could only have resulted in the war against China being very much extended, bringing much more horror in its train than has been the case.
I was pleased to-day to near from the leader of the Liberal party that, in the case of Japan, although he does not propose the giving of formal recognition to the conquest of Manchukuo, he and his colleagues are willing and hopeful that, in spite of the non-recognition of the conquest of Manchukuo, Japan shall be brought into the sphere of friendship and trade. That is a very good thing indeed. You cannot live on the past. You cannot build anything new merely by thinking of the past. We live 1579 to-day. It is true that Japan has conquered Manchukuo. An hon. Gentleman shakes his head. It is true that she has partly conquered Manchukuo.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
There has been more bloodshed in Manchukuo in the last year than in perhaps any previous year.
§ Mr. Lansbury
That just shows how, when a thing happens a long way off and you do not hear very much about it, or it does not suit anybody to know very much about it, the League of Nations does not act at all. The hon. Gentleman really cannot get away with it in that way. Whatever bloodshed there has been, Japan is more or less—rather more than less—in occupation of Manchukuo, and is holding that country down at this moment, and supporters of the League of Nations like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), who condemned the conquest of Manchukuo, are asking that we should develop trading and other relations with Japan. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) may not agree with that. I agree with it quite thoroughly, and I hope there will be more and more trade and human relationships with Japan.
I am not going to enter into the question about the limited or the unlimited interference of Germany, Italy and other Powers in regard to Spain. At present all that we know is that the people of Spain are being martyred; that we are having the first experience in Europe of what war really means. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for North Cumberland (Mr. W. Roberts) has done, and is doing, a magnificent work in association with others for the relief of the victims. There are no men or women in this country who would not help in that respect to the utmost of their power. I am glad also that he minimised the meaning of the words "humanising war." We have come to a point now when we ought to face up to the fact that, whether the League of Nations, as a collective body, is called upon to use force in this matter, or whether we ourselves, with France, take the matter in hand, such a war would not be fought in Spain; it would be fought in Europe and in this country. We have to tell our people, if we support anything that means war, and we ought to get their verdict upon it before such a war takes 1580 place. We have no right to fight by-elections and make speeches about peace and collective security without doing what I admit the hon. Gentleman did at Derby, namely, telling the people that in the end it means what happened at Guernica, Malaga and elsewhere. The authority for that statement is Lord Baldwin himself from that Box. You have to kill more women and children of your enemy quicker than he can kill yours. That is modern, civilised warfare. That is the point that we have reached in human development. I want, however, to come back to where I started, and I will read for the benefit of all of us part of a letter that I received this morning from a friend who thought that I should probably be speaking to-day. It comes to me from another friend, and it says:By the way can you induce G.L."—that is myself—to give up saying that the British people love peace. I am sure he thinks it, hut the unfortunate foreigner says things of this kind—14 mandates under the Versailles Treaty: Japan, one; Belgium, one; France, three, and the peaceful British Empire, nine; Italy, none. Out of 29 raw materials, adequate supplies: Japan, three; Germany, four; Italy, four; British Empire, 18.
§ Mr. Lansbury
Of course, it is the secret of war. We have been throwing out challenges to one another this morning, and if anyone challenges me as to what I would do if I sat over there where the Prime Minister sits, I should say to Europe what Campbell Bannerman said in another connection in 1905, "Let us stop this fooling. Let us come together." [Interruption] He said, "Let us stop this fooling" in regard to unemployment. I say that in regard to the situation of Europe, if there is any common sense left anywhere in any of the chancellories they would join—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would welcome them—in coming to an altogether new conference to discuss the fundamental issue in the Spanish war. The fundamental issue there is not Bolshevism, and it is not Fascism; it is raw materials the thing the nations need, one nation is afraid that if a certain Government gets the power they will not be able to obtain what they think they need from Spain. The same is true of Spanish Morocco, and, in other spheres in regard to markets. The hon. Member for south-east 1581 Derbyshire talked about south-eastern Europe and Czechoslovakia and the Ukraine. I wonder whether he realises exactly what the Versailles Treaty did when it created the situation in Czechoslovakia and that part of Central Europe, which cut off markets that before the War were almost wholly German. After I had been leader of the Labour party for a very few weeks the then German Finance Minister came to this country. I was asked by our present Chancellor of the Exchequer to go to lunch with him and two or three others. I sat next to the German Finance Minister, and we discussed the situation, and he said to me: "Mr. Lansbury, we shall never get peace in Europe until the economic situation in which Germany finds herself is changed."
I have never ceased to advocate what I am advocating now. I spoke only a fortnight ago to one of the leading statesmen of America. I met him outside this country, and he said to me what I want to repeat to the Foreign Secretary, that Germany, France, Britain and Italy have a unique opportunity just now, if they will seize it, of averting war by saying to one another: "Let us discuss together, let us reason together how we can undo the mischief which the dividing up of Europe has brought about, not by getting political power over new countries but by bringing about economic agreement as to how to utilise the natural resources that lie waiting to be utilised in those parts of Europe, and also in developing markets." Is it not an amazing thing that with all the powers that we possess, with all the powers of organisation and the powers of production, there should be, in certain parts of civilised Europe, people living semi-starved lives. Then we wonder at revolutions, and we wonder at dictatorships coming into existence.
My contribution this afternoon is, first of all, to say to the Foreign Secretary what I have said to him privately, that I congratulate him on what has happened during the last few days, on the success, whether people like it or not, that has kept us out of war up to the present time, and I would appeal to him and to the Government to take in hand the question of an entirely new conference. Let the dead past bury its dead. That is a hard thing to say, and a hard thing to get people to understand. The hardest thing in life is to forgive anyone who 1582 injures you. It is a hard thing to forgive Japan for what happened in Shanghai, and it will be a harder thing to forget what happened at Guernica and Malaga. I never can forget it, and no one who has any feeling can forget it, but for God's sake let us do what we can to prevent anything like it happening again. I believe that if the British Government would stand up before the world to-day and say: "We have had enough of this fooling about with arms and with this language against one another; let us come together and reason about it," peace would be established.
It is sometimes said that the British Government are thought nothing of abroad. My hon. Friends on this side, many of whom have attended international conferences, will know whether that is true. In other circles abroad there is one Government to which everyone looks, and it is the British Government, and I am sure that if they would give the lead on this matter it will be responded to. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini, nor any of the other dictators, and there are many of them in Europe, are unaware of the fact that another war will crush them and crush civilisation. Surely, it is worth an effort, a great effort, that Great Britain, the greatest Imperialist country in the world, should stand forth and say, "We are willing in these new conditions in the world to become sharers of the world, instead of controllers of the world. We are ready to share resources with the rest of you."
I have heard Russia over and over again denounced in this House, but in her troubles we, who are Socialists, ought to stand by her, and we ought to help in the development of the terrific experiment that is being carried on there. We cannot put the world into compartments to-day. The world is a unit, and we must treat it as a unit. One nation cannot be prosperous and safe unless other nations are prosperous and safe. If anyone is going to say that there may be war in Europe through the adoption of a certain policy, I hope that they will tell the nation beforehand, and warn them beforehand, because it will be an unutterable crime if we lead the people to believe that we are going along the road to peace, knowing in our hearts or believing that the people with whom you would make peace will not make peace, and that ultimately you will have to destroy them. I do not think 1583 that policy is a possible one. I do not believe that policy is one which our people would support for a single moment.
I believe our people realise to-day more than ever that tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of people have suffered or died to make the world safe for democracy. Hundreds of millions of people were slaughtered, children orphaned, women widowed in order to bring peace to the world, but it has brought what we see to-day. If you do it over again, I would ask you, how many times will you have to crush the German people? Some say, "She is so weak now, let us put her in her place before she can become strong enought to fight us." If that be true and you do that, how long will it be before you will have to do it over again? This policy is a mad policy, and I hope the Foreign Secretary in his reply will be able to tell us that the Government intend not merely to talk about non-intervention, not to go on with this discussion which apparently has led nowhere, but that they will take the Governments of Europe into consultation and will tell them that in this country, great and powerful as we are, we want the hand of friendship to be taken by those other nations, and we ask them to come with us and discuss how to use instead of destroying the world.
§ 2.5 p.m.
§ Sir A. Southby
I have listened to every word that has been spoken to-day, and perhaps most of all I have listened with pleasure to the words spoken by the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). He has paid a long-overdue tribute to the work of the Foreign Secretary which has resulted in keeping this country out of war during the last few years. The right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), who opened the Debate, made no adverse criticism, as far as I could gather, of the policy of the Government. Indeed, it was left to one of his supporters actually to move a reduction in the Vote, which to a certain extent implies a censure on the Government and their policy. The right hon. Member opposite said that for two months there had been no Debate in this House on foreign policy. To me it seems therefore as if the Opposition were either satisfied with the government's policy, or else were themselves so bankrupt of ideas that they cannot formulate any foreign policy of their own.
1584 The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition seemed to argue that the policy of the Government on intervention was wrong, but he did not seem anxious to defeat the Government on this aspect of their policy. During the years that I have been in this House I have repeatedly heard the question put to the Leader of the Opposition, as to what the policy of the Opposition would be in the event of their having to take over the reins of Government. It is a perfectly fair question. As far as I am aware, at no single by-election has the Government's foreign policy been made a test question. If the Opposition disapprove so much of the foreign policy of the Government why has it not been made a test question? In fact, the results of the by-elections go to show that the people of this country, the electors, are satisfied that the policy of the Government not only is the correct one, but the only one and that it has been successful. They have shown their gratefulness and thankfulness to the Foreign Secretary for the work he has done by returning Members to support the Government, not to support the Opposition.
In his closing words the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley appealed to the Foreign Secretary to try to get the nations of Europe together to discuss those causes which lead to war. I believe that that is what the Foreign Secretary has been doing ceaselessly for the last few years. He has been doing precisely what the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley wishes him to do, and I quite agree with the right hon. Member that it is essential, if we are to have peace in our time and in the future, that we should do something to do away with the causes of war which underlie the present struggle in Spain.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
In speaking as he does, does the hon. and gallant Member appreciate that the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) has suggested that the British Empire should say to the world, "We are prepared to come and sit down and discuss whether we can devise a plan to share the world." That involves that we are ready to give territory. Does the hon. and gallant Member agree with that?
§ Sir A. Southby
I quite appreciate the interruption, and I also appreciate what the right hon. Member for Bow and 1585 Bromley meant in his speech. Nobody in this House believes for a moment that the Foreign Secretary has not been, to use a hard-worked phrase, exploring every avenue to ensure peace, and if some of the avenues do not commend themselves to hon. Members opposite, that is no fault of my right hon. Friend.
§ Sir A. Southby
I am asking again what is the policy of hon. Members opposite? The business of an Opposition is to defeat the Government, and we now understand, from movements of which we hear inside the Opposition, that their opposition is to be speeded up, to be intensified, in order to defeat the Government. I think the country is entitled to know what their policy in foreign affairs is to be in the event of the Opposition being successful in their efforts to defeat the Government. We have heard from the Leader of the Opposition that he wishes to do away with non-intervention. He says that non-intervention is a farce. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly entitled to that view, but does he mean that he would supply arms to both sides in Spain, that he would supply arms unconditionally to both sides in Spain? We have heard a great deal about the arms traffic being such an evil, yet if the right hon. Gentleman's remarks mean anything at all they mean that he would be prepared, if non-intervention breaks down, to supply arms equally to both sides in Spain. I do not think any hon. Member on this side of the House would acquiesce in that view. The right hon. Gentleman says that the League of Nations should take over this matter. Surely the record of the League of Nations in the Italo-Abyssinian dispute was not so successful as to lead us to believe that it would be likely to be more successful if it intervened in the Spanish struggle. The work of the League of Nations broke down in the deplorable dispute between Italy and Abyssinia. The right hon. Gentleman accuses the Government of retreating from the Fascists at the time of the Italo-Abyssinian dispute.
Everybody knows that if we had gone further at the time of that dispute in support of the League of Nations, we should have gone alone; that we should not have been supported by anybody else, and I think the Government did the right 1586 and proper thing to keep this country out of isolated action. Collective security means collective action; it does not mean isolated action. Hon. Members opposite accuse the Government of having sabotaged the League of Nations. What is the good of appealing to the League of Nations to settle the Spanish dispute if we have already sabotaged it? Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. Either the Government did sabotage the League of Nations, or they did not. If they did, why are hon. Members opposite so anxious to prevent the rearmament of this country which is necessary either to support the actions of the League of Nations or, if the League of Nations has completely failed, to defend this country? Hon. Members opposite, even the hon. Member who is the Parliamentary representative of his own party, cannot have it both ways.
There is one point which I should like to make if I may. Hon. Members opposite have referred to the incidents of the "Deutschland" and to the torpedo fired at the "Leipzig." These are matters in which, I think, one should neither convict the Spanish Government nor the German Government unheard. If you want to hold the scales impartially it is necessary to find out from both sides what their stories are, and to try to arrive at the truth. You do not make a solution of the difficulty possible by taking sides violently with one side and condemning the other side completely unheard. Hon. Members opposite may remember the incident of the "Maine." The "Maine" was a ship sunk by explosion in Havana Harbour. Whether the explosion was caused by a Spanish mine or by some internal defect has never been satisfactorily decided, but the explosion in the "Maine," however truly or untruly it could have been laid at the door of the Spanish Government, created such a feeling in the United States as to make war absolutely certain. When we talk about our ships being on the coasts of Spain, I would ask hon. Members to consider what might be the action and the feeling in this country if one of our ships by any ill-chance suffered the fate of the "Maine."
I think Germany is sincere in her desire for peace. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite may 1587 not agree, but in my opinion Germany has done the right thing in removing her ships, lest there should be another incident which might lead to such feeling in Germany as would force the hand of the German Government. I support what was said by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Burton-on-Trent (Colonel Gretton). If it be true that non-intervention has broken down, and it is obvious that it has not been as successful as we should wish to see it, what are the alternatives? I do not believe that it would be possible for the situation to be taken over by the League of Nations. I do not see how action by the League could take place with two at any rate of the nations which would he actively concerned, outside of the League of Nations. Having in mind the lessons of the "Maine," and having in mind the danger to which accident to our ships, or the ships of any other country, on the Spanish coast might well lead, it may be that we shall have to recognise the belligerency of both sides. As the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Burton-on-Trent has said, there are perfectly well recognised rules which could be followed, and I would recommend to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary sympathetic consideration of that suggestion.
The Leader of the Opposition, in talking about Bilbao, accused the Government of having suppressed information and having deceived not only this House but the country. I heard the debates at the time and the gravamen of the charge was that the Government said that there were mines laid off those ports when in fact, no mines had been laid at all; that it was all a gigantic bluff. Since then it has been established, I think beyond any peradventure of a doubt, that a ship has indeed been sunk by a mine. Then what had the Government suppressed? In what way had the Government misled the House or the country? It is very easy for the Leader of the Opposition to make a general charge of that kind, but he did not in any way particularise in what he said. Those who desire to intervene in this conflict in Spain on either one side or the other might stop to think. To-day I have heard the term "the Spanish People" used three or four times from the opposite side of the Committee, and on each occasion it has meant to the hon. 1588 Members who used it those people in Spain who support the Spanish Government. Are there no other people in Spain who can be called "the Spanish people"? Because they differ, as they are entitled to do, from their own Government, do they not still remain Spanish people? It is a great pity that hon. Members should be so actively partisan when they are talking about the people of a great country at present racked and torn by a war which we should like to see brought to an end. Those who counsel active intervention in the war in Spain in the interests of the upholding of democracy are, many of them, those who in 1914, when democracy was at stake, were not disposed to take any active part in upholding it.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn
A monstrous thing to say. Millions of men on this side took part in that war. It is a scandalous thing to say.
§ Sir A. Southby
I make no reflection upon any individuals. I am not talking about the party opposite.
§ Sir A. Southby
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will permit me to answer the interjection. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that I have for a moment cast reflection on anybody on that side of the Committee I immediately withdraw it and apologise. I am referring at large to people throughout this country who are now crying out for active intervention but were against intervention in 1914.
§ Sir A. Southby
That is not what I was saying or what I was suggesting. I pay my tribute to all the men of every party in this country who played their part in the great War, and I do beg the right hon. Gentleman not to misunderstand me or to be so heated when 1589 I am trying to tell him that the views he imputed to me are not those which I hold. I am sorry that any heat should have been engendered in the Debate by any remark of mine. The conclusion which I draw from this Debate and from what has been said by hon. Members opposite is that there has been no really serious censure of the Government. No suggestion has been put forward as to anything the Government could have done which they have left undone. There has been no suggestion as to what could take the place of non-intervention, which has worked, to a large extent, however ineffectually it may have worked in certain cases. Nobody has suggested anything else that could have been done. The right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) said that he is grateful, and so is this country, to the Foreign Secretary and to the Government—whose policy has been successful throughout many trying years—in keeping this country, at any rate, clear of a conflagration in Spain the end of which, if it were to spread throughout Europe, as the Prime Minister says, no man can foresee.
§ 2.23 p.m.
Mr. Lloyd George
I am very glad that the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) made it clear that it was not his intention to impugn the patriotism of any section of the people of this country, to whatever party they belong. It has been done so often that I think it is desirable that there should be a very strong protest against it, and I am glad that the hon. and gallant Member was misunderstood. To speak of one part of the country, South Wales, which is almost entirely in the hands of the Socialist party, there was no part of the country from which we got a larger number of volunteers before conscription was ever in force. There was no part of the country where such a proportion of the population volunteered for the War as in South Wales, excepting, perhaps, Durham.
Mr. Lloyd George
I am not impugning the patriotism of any other part. If the hon. Member will look at the figures he will find that South Wales is somewhere at the top. The effects were so serious that one of the first things I had to do 1590 was to try to get some of the men back in the interests of the production of coal, which was suffering very seriously. Also, we were suffering in our munition works because of the volunteering for the War among engineers and miners. However, I am very glad that point has been cleared up. If this country is in danger hon. Members will find that there will be no distinction between parties. We may differ in the House, but when there is a common danger, there will be a common front. Therefore, we must not carry our partisanship to the point of recriminations which are quite unjust and a mistake. There are one or two statements made by the hon. Gentleman which I must correct. I do not quite understand his allusion to the incident of the "Maine." Does he advocate the withdrawal of all our ships from patrolling those seas? If he does, there are always possibilities of accidents. The "Hunter" is a case in point. We cannot do that.
§ Sir A. Southby
I mentioned the case of the "Maine" in order to show the peril which must, of necessity, arise in any patrol in a case of this kind, and to show how public feeling might be carried away quite wrongly by an incident of that kind.
Mr. Lloyd George
As long as the hon. Member does not use that as an argument against any patrolling, it is all right. Another point in his speech to which I would like to refer is his remarks about Abyssinia and our withdrawal from the position which we had taken up with regard to sanctions. The hon. Member said that if we had not clone so, we should have stood alone. That is not correct. It is far from correct. I have seen several important representatives of other countries which were even more involved than we were in the supply of goods to Italy; for instance, Yugoslavia, which had a very great export trade with Italy; Rumania, and others; and not one of them had the slightest intention of withdrawing. As a matter of fact, we took the lead in the withdrawal. It was our proposal. As far as I know, there was not at that time an intimation from any of the sanctionist Powers that it intended to withdraw.
§ Sir A. Southby
I did not suggest our withdrawal. The point I made was that extended action by this country would, in fact, have been isolated action.
Mr. Lloyd George
The hon. Gentleman has really no authority for saying that. Does he mean to say that if there had been an oil sanction, Rumania would have Withdrawn? If he does, he is the first man to make that statement. No Rumanian has ever said so. Therefore, it is not in the slightest degree in conformity with the facts. That is all I shall say about the lion. Gentleman's speech. I would like to say a few words about the speech of the Prime Minister. Frankly I was disappointed by it. I expected from the Prime Minister, in his first speech on foreign affairs, a real statement of the actual position, not in vague terms, but a statement of where we actually stand, what our intentions are and what his information is with regard to the intentions of Germany and Italy, which is very important. I do not know what other hon. Members feel, but I do not feel enlightened in the least as to the position of international affairs by anything said by the Prime Minister to-day, and I am completely in the dark as to the attitude of His Majesty's Government.
When the Prime Minister says that we want to keep out of war, that is a general statement which we are all in complete accord. When he says that we must keep cool heads, yes, but we must not only have cool heads but stout hearts. Any fish can have a cool head. I do not think we have been very conspicuous in the head line, but our great failure has been, during the last four or five years, that our hearts have failed us. That is why I always deplore, from the point of view of our influence, when we embark upon a particular policy, the constant taunt of hon. Members opposite, "Would you go to war?." If that is taken as an indication of our attitude, as far as the majority of the House is concerned, a foreign Power can safely defy us in any policy which we may take up. Whether we will go to war or not is a matter which we must keep to ourselves and judge for ourselves; but beforehand, to proclaim to the world that whatever other nations do, at any rate as far as the majority of the House is concerned, they would not countenance war, is a great diplomatic weakness. Keep to yourself whether you will go to war or not; stand by your policy, and then judge. But I have always thought those taunts are a fatal weakness to the Government themselves when they are constantly 1592 thrown across the Floor of the House whenever we come to any question of foreign policy where other nations break faith.
I would like to ask the Foreign Secretary to give us a little more information. Germany and Italy have withdrawn from control. What does that mean? Is the agreement not to supply any war material or reinforcements to one or other of the belligerents in operation, and does Germany mean at last to keep it? We are entitled to know that. We have not had any sort of assurance with regard to it. Has any assurance been asked? We have heard a good deal about the outrage on the "Deutschland." I agree with everything that was said, but I should have liked to hear a little more about the 200 aeroplanes that devastated the Basque Provinces and the heavy artillery which crashed its way into Bilbao—German artillery, Italian artillery, manned by Italians, led by Italians, sent by the Italian and German Governments, with congratulations on their success. Not merely no word of protest, but congratulations that the thing had come off. They are breaking faith with this country and with France, and they are chortling in public over it. Is that to go on? I would like to know exactly where we stand in that matter. The Prime Minister said that we must preserve an attitude of complete impartiality. Impartiality in a judge does not mean that you give complete latitude to counsel on one side because they are troublesome, whereas you always repress counsel on the other side. What happened at Bilbao is that Germany had latitude, Italy had latitude; they sent enough troops and guns and aeroplanes there to force their way through, and the Bilbaons had practically nothing. Is that impartiality? And that is the working of the present system.
Let us see what the position is. During the peace and after the peace, when I was Prime Minister, and afterwards when I was a private Member of this House, I always pleaded for fair treatment for Germany. I never attended a conference where I did not stand out against excessive demands upon Germany. I always stood out—in all conferences—for fair treatment for Germany. I have done so in this House. I have been subjected to criticism in this country and to a great deal of criticism in France for that reason. I would like to have seen an arrangement come to with Germany for a Western 1593 European Pact. I think it was a mistake when Herr Hitler proposed it a year ago that we did not proceed immediately and take him at his word. But I am bound to say that the difficulties, which used to come from France, in the way of any scheme which appeared to promise appeasement, which gave justice and fair treatment to Germany—those difficulties now are made by Germany herself.
Let us be quite frank about this. No one knows it better than the Foreign Secretary. Many a time I have heard the late Sir Austen Chamberlain in this House and outside it say, "What is the good of making any pact with Germany? She will only keep it as long as it suits her. The moment she has a good excuse for breaking it, and it suits her to do so, she will break it." I have heard that said, and I have heard it cheered on the other side, and by some hon. Members on this side too. I am sorry to say that during the last few months Germany has done her best to justify that criticism. Now that, I think, is the most serious thing in the whole situation—that international faith in treaties, in compacts, in arrangements between countries is vanishing. Here is a pact revised twice—practically three different pacts—broken flagrantly by Germany, and Germany is on the point of sending her Ambassador over here to arrange another pact of nonaggression, signed by the same hand that signed the Treaty of Non-Intervention which has been trampled upon, disregarded, despised, and spurned by Germany for nine months. That is the most serious feature of the situation, and before we can come to any arrangement which would create confidence in this country, Germany has got to make it clear that the arrangement she made with the right hon. Gentleman, with regard to Spain, is to be kept in the letter and in the spirit.
Just look at the facts. There is a lack of straightforwardness in the whole business which is to me perplexing, and which I frankly say I would not have expected from the present head of the German Government. It was not the impression, at any rate, which he created upon my mind. Just see what has happened. First of all there was an effort made by the right hon. Gentleman. I forgot whether he initiated it or the French Government, but it does not matter. I rather think it was initiated from here, but I am making no point of that. It 1594 was an effort to secure an arrangement whereby none of the Powers should permit war materials to be supplied to either of the belligerents in Spain. It was a comprehensible policy. I never thought it would work, but there it is. It was a defensible policy, and if it had been kept it would have been a success.
What happened? First of all they delayed. They accepted the principle, but they were not satisfied about the details. Negotiations were prolonged day after day and week after week. Germany at last accepted it, but Italy did not. She had to be persuaded upon other trivial details, and when Italy accepted it Portugal—and this is vital—said, "Oh no. We cannot come in." What does it mean? The British Government felt themselves bound by the fact that they had made the proposal not to send any stuff. We had discouraged anything being sent, and we were in the position of being responsible for initiating the policy. The French Government as a Government did the same thing. These other Powers said, "Let us take advantage of this delay to pour in aeroplanes, guns, ammunition, technical details." Portugal came last, because a good deal of the stuff was sent, not to Spain but to Portugal, a neutral country, and she passed it on. They supplied him with just enough ammunition to break through and get the thing into his own hands, and then they signed the pact—after the last parcel had arrived.
Let us remember the facts. At that time almost everybody on both sides was convinced that Franco had an easy job. So he had. He had a trained army, with officers. He had about the best fighting troops in Spain on his side. On the other side you had nothing but an ill-organised and wrangling mob of sectaries who had never been trained to fight. That was the condition of things at that time. It was an easy job. I met a Spaniard then who, on the whole, was in favour of Franco but not very much in favour of him, and he said it might be taken then that Franco would be in by October. Everybody thought so, but it just miscarried. Those things happen in civil war, just as they happened in civil war here. Anybody reading the story of the civil war here, will see why it failed, through some stupidity on the part of somebody, on the King's side in that case, because he had trained men, 1595 he had the better army, too, and he ought to have won according to all the rules of the game. But he just failed because of one or two little acts of stupidity. And so did Franco. But by that time the Pact had been signed.
What happened then? Germany was bound by her signature and Italy was bound by her signature. Franco then said, "Unless I get more material, I can never get in." Without hesitation they brushed it on one side, and they poured in men and material. [Interruption.] I am coming to the question of what was on the other side—I am not going to ignore that—but they poured in material. They did not give permission to their armament companies to sell; they did it quâ Governments. The men who were sent were on their pay roll; they not merely got their permission, but their command to go there. The material came out of their arsenals. It was a Government transaction as much as the invasion of Abyssinia was. What did we do? We held meetings of the Non-Intervention Committee, and I have no doubt that Herr von Ribbentrop and Count Grandi thought it was the greatest joke they had ever taken part in. I have no doubt they chortled together over this sham, while they were pouring in ammunition in defiance of treaty obligations—one of them the country which is coming to us to sign another pact of non-aggression in Europe.
Then the right hon. Gentleman said, "This has got to be amended, we must stop volunteers." They were not volunteers; they were units in the Italian army, complete units, and so were the aeroplanes and the guns sent by Germany. However, they said, "We will stop volunteers." How did they get round that? By sending conscripts. They sent conscripts to Spain, and we said to them, "You promised not to send volunteers," and they said, "We have not; we have sent men who have been conscripted and were ordered by our Army." Who can doubt that Signor Mussolini sent these men there? He has congratulated them, he has placed on the tablets the names of those who fell side by side with those who fell in the war which he initiated and was responsible for.
What we want to know is this: Is this cruel imposture going on any longer? The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well what happened in, Bilbao. Bilbao 1596 was not a Red Republic, but I had rather be charged with being a red than with being green. Just take what happened there. Here is a little Province that, at any rate, was very friendly to us at a critical moment. I have been talking to men who were there up to the very last moment, Englishmen who were there, and they said to me, "There were about 200 aeroplanes, German"—sent by the country that signed the Pact with the right hon. Gentleman not to send any war material into Spain. What had the Basques against that? One obsolete, little anti-aircraft gun. That is how we left our friends when they were being attacked, the people who only a few years ago had helped us to protect our ships against enemy submarines in the Bay of Biscay. There was one man who had been in the Great War and who told me that he had never witnessed such a bombardment from the air. He said he had never witnessed a greater concentration of artillery bombardment on any front—all German guns, German ammunition, followed by Italian troops, sent by the men who signed the Pact of Non-Intervention.
What had the Basques against the artillery? They had practically no ammunition, with very inadequate artillery. Why was it stopped? Ha! the Pact of Non-Intervention. This was not one of the gaps. The gaps happened to be always at the wrong point from the Government's point of view. It will be said, and I believe it is true, that material has been sent there from Russia. I believe that is so. Once the thing began, I wish they had been able to send more. But let us see what has happened. It is no use pretending that the thing has worked impartially, even from the point of view of the breaking of treaties. The French Government have sent nothing. You had a Socialist Prime Minister, presumably in sympathy with the Spanish Government, and the French Government could easily have sent plenty of material there to overwhelm completely what had been sent by either the Italians or the Germans.
Mr. Lloyd George
Please let me finish. I am dealing with the point put by the Foreign Secretary. They could easily have sent material. They are right on the Frontier, and they had every 1597 facility. They could easily have sent, but they did not. The Russians I am informed—I think it was in the "Times" or some other paper—sent some material there, but look at it from the point of view of impartiality and the working of the pact of non-intervention. You have nearly 100,000 Germans and Italians there. You have 12,000 of every other nationality, including Russians, and Russians are in a minority I am told. That is a proportion of eight to one as far as men are concerned. As far as aeroplanes are concerned, the overwhelming majority have been supplied by the others. If you are to have a pact of nonintervention with gaps, why should the gaps be so arranged that it tells eight to one in favour of Franco's forces as against those of the Government? If the gaps are to be filled, let them be filled on both sides.
There are only two or three courses that the Government can take. The first is to enforce the pact of nonintervention. If the powers do not carry it out, I agree that it cannot be enforced. The second is to have an agreement with regard to volunteers. That, again, depends on the Powers carrying it out. These two courses are dependent on your coming to an agreement with people who have not kept a single agreement they have ever entered into. The third course is to cry "Hands off," and to wind up this fraudulent pact, and let them on both sides buy their material where they can get it. You are talking as if this had never happened before. In every war which has been engaged in, certainly within my recollection, and long before that, neutral countries by international law have been entitled to supply war materials to the belligerents, and they do it. The first war I can recollect is the Franco-Prussian War. We sold material to both sides. In the Russo-Turkish War and in the Balkan War we did the same thing, and we were very glad that that rule was applicable in the great War, because America sold materials to us, France, Italy and Russia. They could not get it through to Germany, and that was our fault.
Mr. Lloyd George
That is a question I should like to think about. On the whole, 1598 I should personally have taken the attitude which this country took in regard to the Civil War in America, when we recognised the Government, although it was in doubt for some years which of the two sides would win. Mr. Disraeli was one of those who opposed the recognition of the rebels. Mr. Gladstone, I believe, took rather a different view, but Lord Palmerston and Mr. Disraeli took the other view, and fortunately it prevailed. I should take the same attitude here. I should only recognise the Government and would not recognise the rebels until they became the Government de facto for the whole of Spain.
Mr. Lloyd George
We refused recognition. I want to pursue this point. It is a very deplorable alternative, but it is better than the present system. Under the present system the machinery of war is being sent by foreigners in the proportion of eight to one to one side. You are not stopping equipment, you are not stopping the war, you are not stopping bloodshed. All you are doing is to give the overwhelming advantage to one side. It would be far better to have an honest return to the old principles of neutrality. Then nobody could complain what happened.
After all, however much we may regret it, Spain is not the only country that has settled the issue of good government by reference to the sword. The Spanish people of both sides have decided that it is to be settled in that way. That is why I do not think they would accept the intervention of the League of Nations. I wish it were possible that the advice of my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) could be accepted and that the League of Nations could intervene. We must, however, look at the facts. Neither of the two parties will accept that—so I am assured. We have to face the facts when we are at war as well as when we are at peace. If they were to return to the ordinary machinery for the expression of public opinion, that is, of course, the proper way of settling these issues. But Spain is not the only country that has refused to do that. The very existence of Parliament and the liberties of this country have been settled by these means. What is happening in Spain shows that 1599 we have not yet got out of that obsession of the human mind. It is for the Spaniards in Spain to decide.
If the landed aristocracy in Spain have the loyalty of their peasants and their workers to such an extent that these will fight for them and under their banners to the death; if the hierarchy of Spain have the devotion of their flock—the Catholic number, after all, almost the entire population of Spain—if the hierarchy have their devotion, if the great financiers of Spain are so respected by the workmen that they would support them, the battle is won by Franco. There is no one to stand up to him. An hon. Gentleman the other day when I was here said "Franco occupies the greater part of Spain." If the black troops were withdrawn and their Aryan confederates from Germany and from Italy were withdrawn, he would occupy but a very ragged small area. But if it is true that the population is overwhelmingly with him, there is no doubt the way it would be settled. I beg the Government to make up their minds, that whatever happens they are not going to have a continuation of this deception, this evasion of a treaty which is not a treaty, this pact which is not honoured. It is a peril to. Europe; it is a humiliation to them.
The whole trouble, I agree with my right hon. Friend, is that we have retreated from one position after another for the last five years until these dictators have come to the conclusion that we will stand at no point. If the great Powers France and Russia—that are acting with us, and ourselves talked quite frankly, brutally if you like, these three great Powers together have such a force that there is no one in Europe could stand up against them. But what has happened? These dictators are very clever men, very daring men, very astute men, in fact very exceptional men. They have taken advantage of the weakness of the government in France and here. What has happened in the last day or two shows that if we stand up to them we are able to deal with them. They are taking at the present moment rather a low view of the intelligence and the courage of our Government—very low. I wish to God I could say it was too low. I can only judge the right hon. Gentleman from his 1600 speeches. I think his intentions are sound and his aims are high. Let him make up his mind to stand up to these people who have driven the British Government from one position to another of retreat, and then you would find the peace of Europe would be established.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
As I listened to the right hon. Gentleman, not for the first time addressing this House and I hope not for the last, I felt a fleeting regret that he had not heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) who leads the party opposite, because I thought he would leave found in that speech the answer to some of the charges he made. It is sometimes interesting to reflect how closely history repeats itself, and I would like for a moment to examine this charge of cowardice, not a very agreeable charge, and which the right hon. Gentleman is so fond—[Interruption]. I do not wish to misquote or to exaggerate anything that the right hon. Gentleman said, but I thought that was the charge against us. I thought it was that the dictators thought us cowardly and that the right hon. Gentleman thought they were right. Anyhow, I will not press that point. I want to examine that charge for a moment.
I believe there is nothing easier for a Government, and there is certainly nothing easier for a Foreign Secretary than to be brave at other people's expense. I believe this, too: With the world as it is to-day, with our armaments and with the armaments of some of our friends in the state in which we know them to be—I do not say that we have always to beat a retreat or, on account of the tension of Europe to-day, we have always to give way, or indeed, ever to give way in a vital British interest—but I do say that there rests upon the Foreign Secretary and the Government of this country an appalling responsibility to see that they take no steps to provoke a conflict. If others—I mean others in other countries—are not moved by the same sense of responsibility, that in no way excuses us from that responsibility to our own people. I have felt, ever since the Spanish conflict began, what the people of this country have persistently been asking the Government: "Do everything in your power to 1601 see that we are not embroiled in this Spanish War." It is not only the people of this country who have been saying that, but the people of other Democracies, too. I do not believe there is any country in Europe where there is stronger support for non-intervention than there is in France at this time. In the Democracies, where people express themselves by means that we know and understand, that feeling is strong.
Two hundred years ago, as one hundred years ago, there was strife in Spain, and Walpole, who was then responsible for the conduct of our foreign policy, was continually being attacked for failing to take a strong enough line in that conflict. I was reading F. S. Oliver's "Endless Adventure," and I found in that book this sentence about the opposition of that time to Walpole, about the Spanish War:They had a very bellicose case"—like the right hon. Gentleman this after-noon—and sought to prove that Walpole always was and always had been a coward.
§ Mr. Eden
That was before Jenkins's ear. It was because Walpole did not have his way that we had the Jenkins war. We do not want, on this occasion, a war of the Spanish obsession.
I will come back to Spain, but before doing so I should like to reply to some of the questions that were put to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness in the course of his very instructive tour of the international situation. He asked me first about the Far East. I think it is true to say that there are certain definite and encouraging signs of improvement in the international situation in the Far East. The House will be aware of the fact, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, that conversations have been proceeding with the representatives of the Japanese Government on the possibility of a better understanding, a better ordering of Anglo-Japanese relations generally, and it may be said that those conversations, so far as they have gone, encourage us to hope that a more definite exchange of views may lead to further progress. It is anticipated that it may be possible at a very early date to begin the examination of concrete proposals.
1602 Mention of Anglo-Japanese conversations in the past has given rise to anxiety in certain quarters that an Anglo-Japanese understanding might be effected at the expense of China. I take this opportunity of renewing once more the assurance, which I have already given on more than one occasion, that His Majesty's Government have no intention of doing anything of that kind. Our relations with the Chinese Government are excellent. But what we hope for, and what we will work for, is an increase of friendship and mutual trust between all the nations in the Far East, and we are convinced that an understanding with Japan would in certain conditions contribute to that end. It is in that spirit that we will work cordially and sincerely for a betterment of Anglo-Japanese relations, which we believe, and here I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, both countries desire.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred I o a speech of the Prime Minister of Australia, at the Imperial Conference, about a Pacific Pact. Mr. Lyons's objective was, I think very wisely, if I may say so, not to attempt to advocate any detailed scheme, but rather to invite the Conference to give their attention to the matter, and to consider whether anything on those lines would be desirable and in what manner it could be put into effect. All the Governments of the British Commonwealth were united in thinking that a Pacific Pact was a desirable objective. They examined the possibilities in some detail during the Conference, they considered various forms that the Pact might assume, and they noted a number of difficulties which would have to be overcome. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that this is a matter which must be approached with some circumspection, and it might be unwise to attempt any negotiations until we know a little more clearly what are the views of certain other governments on the matter; but we hope to have opportunities shortly of making preliminary soundings among those governments who are principally interested, after which we shall be in a position to decide whether definite proposals can be made with any reasonable chance of success.
I would like to come a little nearer home before I deal with the Spanish position, and to say something on another matter which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman, that is to say, the situation 1603 in Central Europe. As has been often declared in this House, we desire, in Central Europe and elsewhere, peace and good understanding. We cannot, even if we would, disinterest ourselves in the course of events there, any more than we can disinterest ourselves in the course of events anywhere else on the earth's surface as conditions are to-day. Our interest in peace is universal. After all, we cannot forget that the last European war did not begin in Belgium. The right hon. Gentleman reminded us that it began in what I think he called an Austrian quarrel. So we realise that our interests must be, as I have said, universal in the interests of the maintenance of peace. We quite realise that in trade and economic matters other nations have a closer interest than we in the Danube Basin. We should like to see the gradual removal of trade barriers in that area. But our interest in peace there, as elsewhere, must be unceasing. An hon. Member has complained that the general lines, of our foreign policy towards Central Europe were not clear. I do not think that that accusation can be fairly levelled. I hesitate to re-quote words of mine which the Prime Minister has already quoted, but none the less, as they state our position, I would venture to do so. The charge so often made against us is that we are rearming. Most people think that that is right. Even hon. Members who voted against us are beginning to think that that is right. Certainly their friends in Europe are quite sure that it is right. But in any event, the charge goes on, "You are rearming, but you have no other policy whatever. You have no other policy as to what your arms are going to be used for. I do not admit that that is true. I will re-quote my words:Our arms ill never be used in a war of aggression. They will never be used for a purpose inconsistent with the Covenant of the League or the Pact of Paris. They could, and if the occasion arose they would, be used in our own defence and in defence of the British Commonwealth of Nations. They may, and if the occasion arose they would, be used in defence of France and Belgium against unprovoked aggression, in accordance with our existing obligations.There is no dispute about that, nor that Germany will be included in that guarantee if Germany were included in a treaty of that character.In addition, our armaments may be used in bringing help to a victim of aggression in 1604 any case where, in our judgment, it would be proper under the provisions of the Covenant to do so. I use the word 'may' deliberately since in such an instance there is no automatic obligation to take military action.I submit that that is a definition which is generally accepted by this country and generally understood by the nations of Europe. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness made a very interesting reference to the work of the League. It so happens that within the last day or two I read a speech by the Prime Minister of a country which has recently submitted an important dispute to the League and has accepted its judgment. I refer to Turkey which, in that connection, showed an example to many others. The Turkish Prime Minister, speaking the other day, used language about the League which seems to me at once so wise and so apt that I should like to quote it to the House. As regards the League of Nations, he said:The strength and weakness of that institution has of late been greatly exaggerated. It is Utopian to expect the League to settle great problems with ease. It is equally unrealistic to say that it is of no utility.The reason for the League's present weakness is that it is without the help of the States which, de facto and de jure, remain outside it.If those States united their efforts to those of the States members, the League's authority would be greatly, indeed ideally, strengthened. Such is Turkey's wish, but, even now its value is not small. The fact that so many nations proclaim their union in support of peace, is in itself a bulwark; and it is of by no means negligible utility that the statesmen of so many nations should meet and understand one another. Moreover, experience has shown that the League is a valuable instrument for the study of international questions and, in certain circumstances, for finding remedies. Its ideal is one to which the whole world should make a contribution. The Turkish Government is loyally and sincerely convinced that it is a useful institution, and intends to pursue a policy in accordance with its principlesEvery single one of those words we can endorse.
I now come to the most difficult and the most serious matter which we have to discuss this afternoon—the situation in Spain. Before I deal with the main political aspect, I understand that certain questions have been asked about the position of refugees coming from Santander, and I would like to give the House a little information as to how that matter stands. It is not true that action on our part has prevented the "Habana" from 1605 returning to Santander to fetch refugees to France because we did not want to give protection. That is not the difficulty at all. The difficulty is that the French Government and ourselves jointly have to make certain arrangements for the reception and for the escort of these refugee ships. The House knows very well that the reception of such large numbers is no simple matter. During the last stage of the Bilbao fighting, our warships alone escorted refugee ships carrying something like 30,000 people. Nearly all those have been landed in France, placing an enormous strain and burden on the French Government to care for them. That matter had to be discussed in detail between us and the French Government. In point of fact, as early as 17th June, even before Bilbao had fallen, I think I am right in saying, I had approached the French Ambassador with suggestions for dealing with this problem. The only difficulty consists in the reception of these people on the one hand, and also of ensuring in some way that combatants are not included among those who come out of Spain. The French Government equally with ourselves insist upon that because of the false position in which they would naturally be placed if large numbers of combatants were landed in France.
Mr. Lloyd George
Have there been any inquiries by the Prime Minister as to the possibility of carrying refugees to other parts of Spain?
§ Mr Eden
Yes, we have discussed that with the French, and I understand that the French Government look favourably on such a plan, but there is a difficulty of which the House will be aware, that I am not by any means sure that the majority of these refugees would wish to go across to the Barcelona side of Spain. That is one of the difficulties at which those who know about the civil war will be not altogether surprised. Let me come to the Spanish question. The right hon. Gentleman was very eloquent in his denunciation of non-intervention. I can never hope to equal his eloquence, but perhaps I could supply him with some material also. We know that the policy has not worked satisfactorily, and yet it does not seem to occur to the right hon. Gentleman that the account which he gave was, I thought, a little partial. Russia was kept very well in the background. It was only 1606 obtruded after one or two questions, and only then by a passing reference, whereas in fact there is no doubt that war material, aeroplanes, tanks and so forth supplied to the Government side in Spain from Russia is very large in quantity. [HON. MEMBERS: "How much?"] I cannot say how much, but hon. Members opposite find no difficulty in assumptions on their side. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is not true"]. It is certainly true. Everybody knows it and admits it, that war material in considerable quantities has reached the Government side from Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "How much?"]. I have said, in considerable quantities, and from Russia. No one can deny that for an instant. Despite these facts, and despite the fact that, admittedly, none of this help reached Bilbao, non-intervention has been in force now for eight months. The nations of Europe have signed this agreement, and not one has suggested ending it, not even the Soviet Government. When Hon. Members opposite have said this afternoon that they want to put an end to the policy of non-intervention, they are out-Sovieting the Soviet.
I want the Committee for a moment to examine what I believe to be the reasons for this situation, because they are fundamental, and we do not always go beneath the surface in this matter. Europe has endorsed this policy because, unlike hon. Members opposite, they have to face the alternative. If I may say so I do not think the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was very convincing this afternoon when he came to that alternative. I want us to confront it now. The alternative is unlimited competition in arms and men, with the attendant risks of such competition carried on with the approval, if not with the active support, of the governments concerned supporting one side or the other. But that is not all. Obviously, the danger of a clash would be infinitely increased.
§ Mr. Eden
—but for the majority of the people of this country the preserva- 1607 tion of peace is of some account. I want the Committee to consider this. Hon. Members opposite, and I think the right hon. Gentleman himself, assume, as a matter of course, that if non-intervention were abolished it would benefit the Spanish Government. Would it?
Mr. Lloyd George
I did not say that. It would certainly benefit the party which has the command of the majority of the Spanish population. A return to the old principles of neutrality would not include the organisation of units by governments; it would only be a matter of buying and selling arms.
§ Mr. Eden
I want the Committee to examine what the position would be. Suppose there were no Non-Intervention Agreement and we returned to what the right lion. Gentleman describes as free trade in arms and people being allowed to sell. Assuming that the Spanish Government could buy in the markets of the world where is it going to get supplies of aeroplanes and war materials? The United States, which makes probably the best aeroplanes of all. But the United States long ago put an embargo on the export of arms, and everybody knows quite well that nothing would induce the United States to depart from that course. Ourselves? Does the House conceive our selling large numbers of aeroplanes at this time, at this moment, when we have the greatest difficulty in fulfilling the smallest contracts with those with whom we are under treaty obligations? It may astonish the House to know——
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we had a record export of aircraft last year, and that aircraft manufacturers in the last fortnight have said that their factories have been so extended that they will be able to fulfil their foreign orders better than before.
§ Mr. Eden
I am not dealing with last year or next year, but with this year. I have to deal with these things every week, and I know the difficulty I have in getting the fulfilment of small contracts with two countries with whom we have treaty obligations to supply aircraft at the present time. There is the greatest difficulty in fulfilling these contracts. I do not believe that the people of this country would wish to interfere with the 1608 fulfilment of our rearmament campaign in order to divert these armaments to Spain. There remains France, and I leave it to the House to judge how far the French Government in the present condition of France would be willing to allow vast exports of war materials to Spain. What we have to face is that in what are called the totalitarian States, Germany, Italy and Russia, all their armaments are in an infinitely more advanced state than are those of the democratic States, and if there were an unlimited supply with the United States excluded, I do not believe the result would be so favourable to the Spanish Government as many hon. Members seem to believe.
But we have to follow this matter a little further. If non-intervention ceased, is it the view that belligerent rights should be granted? Certainly, if there were no non-intervention every precedent would be in favour of granting belligerent rights as was done in the American Civil War. But suppose belligerent rights were granted, as they were in the cases which the right hon. Gentleman gave, the Balkan War, etc., how much of these arms would reach the Government in Spain? It is perfectly well known that General Franco is much the stronger on the sea, and the exercise of belligerent rights would mean that he would have comparatively little difficulty in intercepting the majority of these supplies of arms going to Spain. If you do not grant belligerent rights, what is the alternative? Then each country sending arms to Spain would have to protect its ships carrying these arms right into Spanish territorial waters, and it does not require very much imagination to see the danger to Europe which must inevitably arise from that. One has to consider these aspects before we abandon the policy of non-intervention, and those who invite us to abandon it must consider them also. They were very well considered in an article published some two months ago:Before non-intervention can be denounced responsibly, it is necessary to have some practicable alternative. Is there one? It is suggested that non-intervention should be thrown over, that the Fascists' troops should be withdrawn from Spain, that the Spanish Government should be provided with arms. If these were the likely results of scrapping nonintervention now, there is no one of the Labour party who would not strive with all his might for the ending of that policy.1609But in view of what has actually happened these last eight months, can it be reasonably doubted that the results would not be these, hut the very reverse? Can it be doubted that"—This is the point I wish the Committee to consider—short of European war (and if that is proposed then out with it), the only hope of preventing the further landing of divisions of the Italian army in Spain is the naval control?In connection with that I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that since the establishment of the naval control, with all its limitations, there has been, so far as I am aware, no proved case, and, indeed, no definite charge, of the arrival of volunteers—nationals, units, call them what you like, in large number in Spain.
§ Mr. Eden
It ends up by saying:The facts of this Spanish case may not be nice. Indeed, they are not nice. But they have none the less to be faced.I do not know that the Committee would like me to go further into details, but I would say this: I believe the truth to be that, given good will by nations, there is no reason whatever why the existing scheme should not be worked. Lacking that good will there is probably no scheme that the ingenuity of man could devise that cannot to some extent, at least, be worked against and ways of evasion found. After all, I seem to remember, even during the years when I have been connected with foreign affairs, that from time to time in this House my right hon. Friends have brought forward proposals for discouraging those who try to avoid the payment of some portion of their taxes, and if that can be done in the domestic life of the national after all this time, how much easier is the task in international spheres when someone wishes to attempt something of that kind. Of course it can be done.
In the light of this position what should be the policy of His Majesty's Government? We are at this time in close consultation with the French Government as to the future, as to the line of policy to be pursued. It is clearly all important to know what the attitude of the German and Italian Governments is going to be. The right hon. Gentleman put to me some questions about that and I should like to say that we are making inquiries as 1610 to the position. As it has been explained to us to date, it would appear that the German and Italian Governments will participate in the scheme except in respect of the naval control, but these matters have to be further pursued. There will have to be a meeting of the Non-Intervention Committee, and at that meeting we shall have to learn what is to be the attitude of these Powers, and if there is a willingness, even at this late hour, to co-operate, we shall make yet one more effort to see whether this thing cannot succeed. In that I agree with the right hon. Member for Caithness. We have got to make that further effort, and I believe that the French Government, equally with ourselves, intend to do so. The task must be difficult enough.
There is this gap to fill in the control scheme itself, and there is the ever-present and never-solved question of the withdrawal of foreign volunteers. The right hon. Gentleman asked what we had been doing about that. There is this scheme to deal with a very difficult question before the Committee. We felt that it must take time before an elaborate scheme, and it is bound to be an elaborate scheme, could be put into force, and that is why we offered on our own responsibility to assist, with a start being made by ourselves, in checking the numbers and generally supervising the first withdrawals from both sides. We made that offer and are awaiting the result of that offer. We are making it because we want to facilitate the withdrawal of foreign volunteers.
Now I will say one word about recent events and the "Leipzig." I regret, and the Government regret, that it was not possible to reach agreement among the four Powers in the meetings which took place on the incident of the German cruiser "Leipzig." If we failed to reach agreement, it was certainly not for want of trying, but because there was—we have to admit it—a real divergence of views between us, and I will frankly state what that divergence was. We felt unable to join in a warning to the Spanish Government at Valencia and in a naval demonstration off the Spanish coast at Valencia before an inquiry had been held. We felt unable to take part in the action asked of us because to do so would have implied a decision that a given party was to blame without that party having been given the chance to be heard. The 1611 Committee will recall that the Spanish Government not only denied the charge, but claimed that it could prove that its submarines were in harbour at the time of the incident and offered us every facility for verifying that statement.
In the face of such a situation, and in view of the fact that no one claims to have seen the submarine that fired the torpedo, how could we join in what was virtually an execution of judgment without investigation? Our refusal did not, of course, imply that we doubted the sincerity or the good faith of the officers of the "Leipzig" or any other ship, but because in conditions of contradictory testimony inquiry, in our view, must precede judgment. I will only add that, for our part, had a similar incident happened to one of our ships, we should have been quite ready to proceed to an inquiry such as was suggested in this case.
May I, in conclusion, say this on the general situation? After the Coronation ceremonies, my colleague the Foreign Secretary of France remarked that the international situation was then less tense than it had been for some considerable time past, and there were many others at that time who gave expression to the same feeling in many countries. It seemed almost as though even this troublesome Spanish affair was going to be settled by a measure of international collaboration. Then came the "Deutchsland" incident, with all the things which followed it, further embittering the nations and further complicating the difficulties with which we are called upon to deal. What is the lesson of all this? It is that Europe, the world, will always be at the mercy of an international incident until there is a general acceptance of the rule of law. That is a fundamental of the present situation which cannot be escaped.
I listened to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness asking the Government to take this Spanish dispute to the League of Nations. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked that this dispute has already been twice before the League of Nations, and that twice the League of Nations has endorsed and approved the non-intervention policy and the work of the London Committee. I have no reason to suppose that the Council of the League would greatly 1612 modify its view at the present time, or greatly modify the decision which it has previously taken. In that connection I would like to give two or three quotations from speeches made at the last Council meeting, because it sometimes seems to be thought that in some never very clearly expressed way, if only we transferred these difficulties on to the League, some solution would be found. Nobody ever explains what that solution is to be or why the Council of the League should be able to find it, or why the Council is the best-equipped body to deal with the matter, or why if they are convinced that they could find a solution they are prepared to leave the matter to be dealt with by the Committee here in London. Let me quote from the words of the French Foreign Secretary:if the patient and persevering efforts that have been made have not been as effective as was hoped, they have nevertheless had results which it would be unfair not to recognise.Then the Swedish Foreign Minister, who is not a member of one of the Right parties, said:The Council acting in virtue of its own powers, is bound by no other consideration than the obligation which the Covenant imposes upon it of ascertaining the most appropriate means of effectively safeguarding the peace of nations. Considerations of the prestige of the League should never prevent the Council from seeking and recommending whatever measures appear to it the most appropriate to each particular case. In the present case the Swedish Government is of opinion that now (in May) as in December last, the appropriate method is not to embark on action parallel to that of the Non-Intervention Committee set up in London, but rather to assist the work of that Committee by lending it the support of the League's authority.As I say, on two separate occasions the League Council unanimously endorsed that point of view. That is not to say that we would not like the League's help if that help could be invoked usefully, both for the League itself and for peace. But the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to realise the limitations imposed on membership of the League at the present time which is, no doubt, one of the reasons why the Council prefer to further the work of the Non-Intervention Committee.
In conclusion, I would only add this. It is an unfortunate fact that as a result of recent incidents, as a result of the "Leipzig" incident and our failure to agree, the work which we have done, the common effort of 12th June, the work 1613 which would have resulted in mutual consultations in the event of further incidents, has been destroyed. Inevitably, therefore, the situation with which we have to deal is more difficult that it was.
§ Mr. Eden
Yes. The Committee is not going to ask me this afternoon to explain in detail what the outcome of my consultations with the French Government will be. It is not possible for me to give that information, but I feel that I am entitled to tell the Committee this. The Government maintain the same objective now as they had at the outset of the conflict—to do everything in their power to limit the risk of it spreading to other nations in Europe. It may be that, despite all our efforts, the non-intervention policy cannot be maintained. I am not going to contemplate that this afternoon. I am not going to contemplate it until we have had our exchanges of views with the French Government, until we have seen what possibilities there are in the new and more difficult situation with which we are confronted. The Government are not going to contemplate it, because we are, if I may say so with all
§ respect, more conscious than hon. Members opposite of the dangers to international peace that in our belief lurk behind the abandonment of this policy. That will be the basis upon which we shall work and although hon. Members opposite may doubt, from time to time, either the wisdom or the vigour of the policy which we pursue, they will not, I trust, doubt the sincerity with which we intend to persevere towards the objective which this country will continue to ask of us—to preserve by every means in our power the peace of Europe. It is a true saying that to keep this country at peace is a great contribution to the peace of Europe, and whatever may be said about "Peace at any price," if the right hon. Gentleman puts it "Peace at almost any price," I shall scarcely quarrel with him. But with the responsibilities that lie on us now—the Committee know well how heavy they are—I beg them to believe that the Government will pursue the policy which they believe will be best calculated to preserve peace for Europe and for our generation.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £84,856, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 157.1615
|Division No. 239.]||AYES.||[3.56 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Paling, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Ridley, G.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Groves, T. E.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Rowson, G.|
|Batey, J.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Silkin, L.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Chater, D.||Jagger, J.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cove, W. G.||John, W.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Daggar, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dalton, H.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kelly, W. T.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Thorne, W.|
|Day, H.||Lathan, G.||Thurtle, E.|
|Dobbie, W.||Leslie, J. R.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C||McEntee, V. La T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Maclean, N.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Mander, G. le M.||Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v n)||Montague, F.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Sir Hugh Seely and Mr. Wilfrid|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.||Roberts.|
|Apsley, Lord||Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Barrie, Sir C. C.|
|Assheton, R.||Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Baxter, A. Beverley|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.|
|Beaumont, Han. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Grigg, Sir E. W. M||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Grimston, R. V.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Guinness, T. L. E. B||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Cary, R. A.||Hannah, I. C.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Remer, J. R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Channon, H.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Holmes, J. S.||Samuel, M. R. A.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Sandys, E. D.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S. G'gs)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Savery, Sir Servington|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Selley, H. R.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Keeling, E. H.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)|
|Cross, R. H.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Leckie, J. A.||Spens, W. P.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Lindsay, K. M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|De la Bère, R.||Little, Sir E. Graham-||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lloyd, G. W.||Storey, S.|
|Denville, Alfred||Lyons, A. M.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||McKie, J. H.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Macquisten, F. A.||Thomas, J. P. L.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Magnay, T.||Touche, G. C.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Maitland, A.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Edge, Sir W.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Turton, R. H.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Watt, G. S. H.|
|Everard, W. L.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Wayland, Sir W. A|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Moreing, A. C.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Ganzoni, Sir J.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon, Sir J.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Gledhill, G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Goldie, N. B.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.||Wise, A. R.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Patrick, C. M.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Peters, Dr. S. J.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Granville, E. L.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Porritt, R. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Captain Dugdale and Mr. Munro|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Windsor rose—
§ It being after Four of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.1616
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.
§ Adjourned at Five Minutes after Four o'Clock until Monday next, 28th June.