HC Deb 05 December 1938 vol 342 cc852-4
20. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the reluctance of the Italian Government to restore friendly relations with the French Government and the propaganda at present being carried on in Italy for the cession of Tunisla, Nice and other French territory to Italy, he will assure the House that the Anglo-Italian Agreement in no way affects our obligations to France; and that he will not carry out his proposed visit to Rome unless such propaganda ceases?

24. Mr. Pilkington

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the course of the negotlations leading up to the Anglo-Italian Agreement, it was indicated that the assurances given by Italy as to the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean included Tunis, Corsica and Nice?

26. Brigadier-General Spears

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the demonstration in the Italian Chamber demanding Nice, Corsica and Tunis; whether he will make it clear to Signor Mussolini that friendly relations between this country and Italy cannot be developed unless these claims upon France are repudlated by the Italian Government; and that a visit by the British Prime Minister to Rome could serve no useful purpose if these demands are maintained?

The Prime Minister

Nothing in the Anglo-Italian Agreement of 16th April affects in any way our obligations to France, and while Tunis, Corsica and Nice were not specifically mentioned in the negotlations prior to the agreement they are covered by Annex 1 of the agreement, which deals with the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean. In view of the demonstrations in the Italian Chamber His Majesty's Ambassador in Rome was instructed to represent to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs on Saturday, that incidents of this kind, unless steps were taken to correct the impression created, must have a most detrimental effect on the prospect of collaboration between the four Munich Powers. From Count Clano's reply it is clear that the Italian Government do not assoclate themselves with the demonstration and have no intention of departing from the undertakings they have already given us. I see no reason to alter the arrangements for my visit to Rome next month.

Mr. Henderson

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it perfectly clear to the Italian Government when he goes to Rome that this country has no intention of sacrificing friendship with France, in order to purchase friendship with Italy?

Mr. Attlee

Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that spontaneous demonstrations take place in Italy under present conditions?

The Prime Minister

We have assurances from the Italian Government, and of course we accept them.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the report from the Rome correspondent of the "Times" to the effect that this demonstration could not possibly have been spontaneous?

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is it not clear that such visits as this one which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to pay to Rome, are made the occasion for inventing and fomenting quite spurious grievances, in order that their redress may be demanded in the name of appeasement?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. J. Morgan

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether any pact or covenant exists that if Italy should attack France, we are to come to France's aid?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member had better put that question down.

Colonel Wedgwood

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that these demands for Nice, Tunisla and Corsica are demands which can be surrendered, provided the right hon. Gentleman surrenders Spain; and will he see that they are not used as blackmail in order to enforce such a surrender?

Sir John Haslam

Will the Prime Minister inform the Italian Government that this Government is not responsible for the demonstrations which sometimes take place in this House?