HC Deb 07 February 1938 vol 331 cc652-4
16. Colonel Wedgwood

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he is taking to protect the minority rights of Jews in Rumania; and is he consulting the United States of America as well as France so as to secure the most effective results?

Mr. Eden

The right hon Gentleman is, no doubt, aware that several petitions have been addressed to the League of Nations by representative Jewish organisations appealing against certain anti-Jewish measures contemplated or already enacted by the Rumanian Government, on the grounds that they constitute an infringement of the Minorities Treaty of 9th December, 1919, to which Rumania is a party. These petitions will be examined, in accordance with the usual League of Nations procedure, by a Committee of Three. It is understood that the Committee will be composed of the President of the Council of the League and the delegates of France and the United Kingdom. It is understood that this Committee will meet without waiting for the next ordinary session of the Council. Meanwhile His Majesty's Government are studying the question of any immediate action which may be considered useful in the circumstances and His Majesty's Minister on my instructions has reminded the Rumanian Foreign Minister of the interest which His Majesty's Government have always taken in the Minorities Treaty, of which they are an original signatory, and in the Minorities procedure generally. With regard to the second part of the question, I would remind the hon. Member that the United States of America, who are of course not a Member of the League, did not ratify the above-mentioned Minorities Treaty. They are, therefore, not in the same position in this matter as the United Kingdom and France.

Colonel Wedgwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while the League of Nations are considering this matter, the Jews are already being expelled from all the professions, and, indeed, many other spheres of public life in Rumania? Persecution is going on. Secondly, is not the interest of America in this matter humanitarian, rather than a treaty interest, and would it not be wise to consult with them as to what can be done in the interests of humanity?

Mr. Eden

So far as the United States are concerned, the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we must leave that to the United States Government, and I do not think I should facilitate matters by taking steps. Before even the League Council met, I made quite clear to the Rumanian Government the views of His Majesty's Government on this matter.

Mr. Cocks

Will the right hon. Gentleman press the Government to suspend any action against the Jews until this matter has been dealt with by the Committee of Three?

Mr. Eden

That point has naturally occurred to me.