HC Deb 18 March 1938 vol 333 cc745-6
Mr. Noel-Baker

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the present dispute between Poland and Lithuania, His Majesty's Government will immediately summon the Council of the League of Nations under Article 11, paragraph 2, of the Covenant, and will propose that the Council should adopt the procedure by which, in a similar dispute, war between Bulgaria and Greece was averted in October, 1925.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

I understand that the Polish Government have delivered an ultimatum to the Lithuanian Government, including the conditions which they consider indispensable for the avoidance of future incidents, with a time-limit of 36 hours. His Majesty's Ambassador at Warsaw has pressed upon the Polish Government their hope that this question will not be used as a pretext for making wider demands. His Majesty's Government are in touch with both Governments concerned. They are not at present satisfied that the course the hon. Member suggests would be sufficiently speedy to be practicable or the best that could be adopted. They are, however, keeping close watch on developments.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman recall that in the case of the Greco-Bulgarian dispute, largely on the initiative of the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Austen Chamberlain, the Council met within the 36 hours and immediately dispatched a Commission of impartial military officers to ensure that the fighting was stopped, and subsequently a commission of inquiry also, which brought a settlement within three weeks; and does he not consider that, in view of the grave dangers of another conflict in Europe, it is essential that the Council of the League should meet when ultimata of this kind are presented?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, I do not think it is essential. In the present case I am not satisfied that the results which would follow on such a meeting would be such as the hon. Member has in mind.

Captain McEwen

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that in the Greco-Bulgarian dispute to which reference has been made a settlement was arrived at by means of conciliation alone?

Captain Ramsay

Would not the chances of European peace be increased if hon. Members opposite would stop their propaganda?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Greco-Bulgarian dispute it was made perfectly plain in the course of the proceedings in the first three days that the Covenant was going to be upheld?

Mr. Gallacher

Does the Prime Minister mean that they will keep on watching events until a new war has started, and do nothing about it?

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