HC Deb 02 May 1938 vol 335 cc533-669

3.25 p.m.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

I beg to move, That this House approves the results of the recent Anglo-Italian conversations as contained in the Agreement signed at Rome on 16th April, 1938. To this Motion the Opposition have put down what, I think, is generally known as a reasoned Amendment. Any really impartial person who reads the terms of the Amendment will see that there is mighty little reason in it. It appears that the very idea of making any agreement with Italy arouses such violent emotions in the breasts of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they lose all sense of reality and are tempted to commit themselves to assertions about the contents of the Agreement which have no warrant whatever in the actual terms. In these circumstances I am disposed to treat this Amendment as merely an emphatic manner of saying "No," and I do not propose to say any more about it. It seems to me that the best answer is not so much to be found in dissecting these overstatements and mis-statements as in giving to the House the reasons why the Government are proposing to ask the House to say "Yes."

I do not think that it will be necessary for me this afternoon to delve very deeply into past history, but, at the same time, if we are to obtain a proper consideration of the Agreement, I think it is an essential preliminary that I should say something about the conditions which prevailed before it was signed. I suppose it was inevitable that the termination of the Abyssinian affair, ending as it did in the conquest of Abyssinia and in the failure of collective action to produce the results which had been intended, should leave behind it a great deal of bitterness and resentment on both sides. By the Autumn of 1936 the relations between this country and Italy had become so unsatisfactory and even so dangerous that it was felt to be necessary to make some effort to improve them. Since it was in the region of the Mediterranean sea that the interests of the two countries came most closely into contact with one another, it was there that any lack of confidence between us became most apparent, and was most calculated to give rise to harmful results. For these reasons, it was to that region that the two Governments directed their attention, and on 2nd January, 1937, they signed a joint declaration which came to be known as a "Gentlemen's agreement." The gentlemen's agreement was designed to dispel suspicions and misunderstandings, but, unfortunately, it proved that it did little in that direction, and these suspicions, which were intensified and reflected by comments in the Press of both countries, continued to grow.

When, later in the year, I succeeded my Noble Friend, Lord Baldwin, in my present office, the situation was as bad as ever it had been, and it seemed to me then, and it seems to me now, looking back, that unless some further effort could be made it was in danger of rapidly becoming acute. In July of that year, in response to a friendly message which I had received from Signor Mussolini, I wrote to him a letter, in the course of which I suggested that it might be a good thing if the two Governments were to enter upon conversations with a view to seeing whether they could not clear away any misunderstandings which existed, and do something to restore the old and more cordial relations. Signor Mussolini responded very readily to this suggestion, but in July we were near to the holiday season and for that, and various other reasons, which I need not enter into now, it did not prove possible to give an early effect to these good intentions.

On 11th December the Italian Government announced their decision to withdraw from the League of Nations, and the conversations between us had to remain in abeyance until January of this year, when they were revived in circumstances with which the House is familiar. On 21st February last, I announced the intention of His Majesty's Government to begin negotiations with the Italian Government with a view to concluding an agreement with them at an early date. Those negotiations began, they have been carried on in a spirit of mutual accommodation and good will and have resulted in the Agreement which was signed on the 16th of last month.

I should like to pay my tribute to the statesmanlike qualities of Lord Perth and his staff, on the one hand, and of Count Ciano, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the other, in the handling of these negotiations, and on the careful and thorough manner in which they examined every aspect of a somewhat complicated situation. In that connection I should not like to fail in recording my sense of the contribution made also by Count Grandi, the Italian Ambassador in London, who has won for himself a position of confidence and respect in this country, and who certainly did much to facilitate the conclusion of this Agreement by his unceasing and effective efforts to remove doubts and misunderstandings.

Before I come to examine the details of the Agreement I should like to say one or two words about its place in the general scheme of the Government's foreign policy. As the House has been informed on numerous occasions, the purpose of that general foreign policy is not only to establish peace but, if possible, to restore the general confidence that peace can and will be maintained, because without that confidence no progress is possible in international affairs. We can only attain that confidence if we can succeed in removing grievances, differences and suspicions which may, if unchecked, lead to war. That is not a task which can be accomplished in a moment, or all at once, but if we can remove the danger spots one by one we may in time find ourselves in a position to arrive at the goal at which we are aiming.

No one can doubt, I think, that before the signing of this Agreement the relations between Italy and this country, and between Italy and France, constituted one of those danger spots. His Majesty's Government believed that that danger could be eliminated by the application of good will and common sense to problems which arose, as we believed, very largely out of want of trust and confidence between us. But to accomplish that, it was necessary to face facts, however unpalatable those facts may be. It is in our willingness to face realities which we cannot change, and to make the best of them, that the difference lies between this side and the other side of the House.

This Agreement has been designed to cover comprehensively the whole ground of the relations between ourselves and Italy in certain areas of the world, and it paves the way for our future co-operation and understanding in those areas in which our interests are found to be parallel. The areas in question are the Mediterranean, the north-east corner of Africa and the Middle East. It deals with the future. It lays down certain guiding principles which should be taken to inspire our policy not only to one another, but also the policy of both of us to other Powers, and it contains, as right hon. and hon. Members will have seen, four separate but correlated sections. First of all, there is the Protocol itself, signed by Lord Perth and Count Ciano, to which are attached eight Annexes. Then comes an exchange of notes between the two negotiators and, thirdly, there is a Bon Voisinage Agreement to which Egypt is a party in so far as their interests are affected and, finally, an exchange of notes between Lord Perth and Count Ciano, on the one hand, and the Egyptian Minister in Rome, on the other, the effect of which is to associate Egypt with two declarations in the main Agreement.

Let us examine the proposals in this Agreement. Let us begin with the Protocol itself. In it will be seen that the two Governments, the Government of Great Britain and the Italian Government, animated by the desire to place the relations between the two countries on a solid and lasting basis‥have decided to undertake conversations in order to reach agreement on questions of mutual concern. It goes on to specify the number and character of the questions which are dealt with in the several Annexes to which I have already referred. It points out that the said instrument is not to come into force at once, but on such a date as the two Governments together shall determine, and, further, the two Governments agree that after the instrument has come into force negotiations will be opened in which Egypt will be included in order to try and arrive at certain definite agreements about the boundaries between the Sudan, Kenya and British Somaliland, on the one side, and Italian East Africa, on the other, and certain other matters, including trade affecting the relations between these several territories.

I now come to the Annexes. The first reaffirms the Declaration signed in Rome on 2nd January, 1937, regarding the Mediterranean and the Notes which were exchanged between the two Governments on 31st December regarding the status quo in the Western Mediterranean. The second one has reference to a very important point, the exchange of military information, and when hon. Members recall, what I have said before, that the signing of this Agreement has been preceded by a good deal of what, I believe, has been unfounded suspicion as to the intentions of both sides, it will be seen that this Annex is a precaution against further suspicion of that kind, because it is an undertaking that information as to any major prospective administrative movements or redistribution of their respective naval military and air forces is to be periodically exchanged between the two Governments. The forces concerned are those which are stationed in the overseas territories in or bordering upon the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, or the Gulf of Aden, and also Egypt, the Sudan, Italian East Africa, British Somaliland, Kenya, Uganda and the Northern part of Tanganyika. These are the territories included within the boundaries which are mentioned in the latter part of this Annex.

I come now to the third Annex, which is one which deals with certain areas in the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. It will be seen that the two Governments bind themselves to respect the independence and integrity of Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. They further agree that it is their common interest that no other Power shall interfere with the independence and integrity of both these countries. Article 4 of the Annex deals with certain islands in the Red Sea, and goes on to clarify and regularise the position as between Great Britain and Italy as regards certain areas in Southern Arabia which for a long time have been under the protection of the British Government. This applies in particular to the Aden Protectorate, where certain rights have been guaranteed to Italy by this instrument. Finally, in Article 8, provision is made for a revision of the terms if the circumstances should change, and for a duration of 10 years, after which the Agreement will be subject to three months' notice. In the fourth Annex, which concerns propaganda, both Governments declare that neither of them will employ methods of publicity or propaganda at their disposal in order to injure the interests of the other.

In the fifth Annex, which concerns Lake Tsana, the Italian Government confirm the assurance which they have previously given to us, that they were fully conscious of their obligations towards the Government of the United Kingdom in the matter of Lake Tsana, and that they had no intention whatever of overlooking or repudiating them. In the sixth Annex the Italian Government again reaffirm the assurance they have given before to the League of Nations, that Italy is willing to accept the principle that natives of Italian East Africa should not be compelled to undertake military duties other than those of local policing and territorial defence. The seventh Annex deals with the free exercise of religion, and it gives an undertaking on the part of the Italian Government in regard to such free exercise by British nationals in Italian East Africa, and also deals with the treatment of religious bodies in that territory. The last Annex, No. 8, deals with the Suez Canal and provides for a reaffirmation on the part of both Governments of their intention always to abide by the provisions of the Convention of October, 1888, which guarantees at all times and for all Powers the free use of the Suez Canal.

I think the House will agree that these Annexes deal in a very careful and comprehensive manner with these possible sources of difference between the Italian Government and ourselves, and the fact that we have been able to reach complete agreement upon them shows how desirable it was that we should get together and discuss these things peacefully round a table. In case anybody should think that Palestine is purposely left out, I should like to mention that the subject of Palestine was also discussed between Lord Perth and Count Ciano, and that as a result the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs has given our Ambassador an oral assurance that the Italian Government will abstain from creating difficulties or embarrassment for His Majesty's Government in the administration of Palestine, and our Ambassador has given a similar oral assurance that His Majesty's Government for their part intend to preserve and protect legitimate Italian interests in that country.

Mr. Dalton

Why was this left oral, and not included in the document? What was the reason?

The Prime Minister

I have some difficulty in saying what the reason was, but, at any rate, the matter was not considered to be quite of the same order as the other matters which are made the subject of written exchanges, but we ourselves are perfectly satisfied with the oral declarations which we have received and, on the other hand, I think I can say that the Italian Government are perfectly satisfied with the oral declarations we have given in return.

Now I come to the second section of the Agreement, which consists of three exchanges of Notes. It begins on page 26 of the White Paper. The first one deals with Libya, and in a letter, Count Ciano informs our Ambassador that the Italian Government have given orders for a diminution of the forces in Libya, that withdrawals have already begun at the rate of 1,000 a week, that they will continue at not less than this rate until the Italian Libyan effectives reach peace strength, and we are informed that that will constitute an ultimate diminution of these effectives by not less than half the numbers which were in Libya when conversations began. The third Note deals with the accession of the Italian Government to the Naval Treaty, the Treaty of London, and it informs us that the Italian Government have decided upon that accession, and that it will take place as soon as the instruments annexed to the Protocol come into force; but, in the meantime, the Italian Government undertake to act in conformity with the provisions of the Treaty. That, although, so to speak, a sideline, is also a matter on which I think we may all congratulate ourselves.

In the second Note, on page 28 of the White Paper, three important assurances are given to us in respect of Spain by the Italian Government, and I will say something more about them when I come to explain how and when this Agreement will come into force; but it will be observed that in taking note of these assurances, the British Ambassador stated in his letter: that His Majesty's Government regard a settlement of the Spanish question as a prerequisite of the entry into force of the Agreement between our two Governments. He further stated: That his Majesty's Government, being desirous that such obstacles as may at present be held to impede the freedom of member States as regards recognition of Italian sovereignty over Ethiopia should be removed, intend to take steps at the forthcoming meeting of the Council of the League of Nations for the purpose of clarifying the situation of member States in this regard. On page 32 we get to the third section of the Agreement, namely, that part which deals with Bon Voisinage between the Government of the United Kingdom, the Egyptian Government and the Italian Government. The Egyptian Government is associated with this Agreement in respect of the Sudan, and the Agreement is to cover the period between the date of signature of the main Agreement and the completion of the negotiations dealing with the specific East African matters which are referred to in the Protocol. This Agreement will provide, therefore, for co-operation between the two countries in preventing the evasion of anti-slavery laws. [Interruption.] I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman opposite should treat a matter so important to this country and the peace of the world with flippancy. I hope that when he comes to speak he will take it in a rather more serious spirit. This Agreement provides also for cooperation in preventing the enrolment of nationals of one party in native military formations of the other.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

Do the words "Italian East Africa" mean the existing East Africa, Eritrea and Somaliland, or what the Italians call the Empire, including Abyssinia?

The Prime Minister

The whole of the Italian possessions in East Africa.

Mr. Benn

In Abyssinia?

The Prime Minister

Yes. The right hon. Gentleman said that I denied that there was frontier rectification. I never denied any such thing, and I challenge him to find any place where I did. There is nothing sinister about it. A considerable part of the boundary has never been demarcated. It is obvious it must be necessary for a complete understanding between us, and if we are, as we desire, to remove possible sources of difference, it is absolutely necessary that we should determine where the boundary lies, and that we should also agree upon any rights which people living on either side of the border may have on the other side of the border for the purposes of watering cattle, and so on. Finally, on page 34, we have the Notes exchanged between the Egyptian Minister in Rome, the Italian Foreign Minister and Lord Perth, under which Egypt is associated with the Declaration about Lake Tsana in Annex 5, and, as the Territorial Power concerned, with the Declaration about the Suez Canal which is found in Annex 8. I think that completes this brief analysis of the terms of the Agreement, and it will be observed that, whereas the Notes exchanged and the Bon Voisinage Agreement have already come into operation, the Protocol itself, with its Annexes, is not to come into force until such date as the Governments are hereafter to determine. I think the reason for that is very clear.

The signing of this Agreement has already effected a radical change in the relations between our two countries. The clouds of mistrust and suspicion have been cleared away. We are able now to regard one another with determination to promote mutual friendship instead of hostility. Full effect cannot be given to this Agreement until we can regard the Spanish question as settled, and find ourselves, consequently, in a position to recognise the Italian conquest of Ethiopia.

Mr. Gallacher

Of Spain.

The Prime Minister

With regard to Spain, there have been suspicions, which have been frequently expressed, that Italy not only when the time came would refuse to withdraw volunteers in accordance with the Non-Intervention Committee's Agreement, but that she also was aiming at acquiring for herself some permanent position, either in Spain itself or in some of Spain's overseas possessions. Therefore, I desire to call particular attention to Count Ciano's letter, which is to be found on page 28 of the White Paper, in which he gave three specific assurances to the British Government. First of all, he said the Italian Government: Confirm their full adherence to the United Kingdom formula for the proportional evacuation of the foreign volunteers from Spain, and pledge themselves to give practical and real application to such an evacuation at the moment and on the conditions which shall be determined by the Non-Intervention Committee on the basis of the above-mentioned formula. Secondly, he reaffirms that if this evacuation has not been completed at the moment of the termination of the Spanish civil war, all remaining Italian volunteers will forthwith leave Spanish territory and all Italian war material will simultaneously be withdrawn. Thirdly, he repeats his previous assurance that the Italian Government have no territorial or political aims, and seek no privileged economic position, in or with regard to either Metropolitan Spain, the Balearic Islands, any of the Spanish possessions overseas, or the Spanish zone in Morocco, and that they have no intention whatever of keeping any armed forces in any of the said territories. That is an important declaration. They are what I suppose are alluded to by the Opposition in their Amendment as "illusory promises." I wish to state, on the other hand, that His Majesty's Government accept them as being given in good faith and believe that the Italian Government intend to keep them in the spirit as well as in the letter. If you are to come to an agreement with another party with whom you have had differences, it is essential that you should approach the negotiations in a spirit of trust. Just as mistrust breeds mistrust, so does trust breed trust. I have no doubt that time will show who is right on that matter, and at present we had better leave it at that.

With regard to the question of recognition of the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, I would like to remind the House that a number of different States members of the League whose loyalty to the League cannot be questioned have taken a different view on this matter from that held by His Majesty's Government. They have taken the view that collective obligations in this matter were discharged on 4th July, 1936, when the Assembly of the League passed a resolution abolishing the sanctions. It is their view, therefore, that States members were consequently free to take whatever action seemed good to them in the light of their own situation and what they considered to be their own obligations. That is a perfectly comprehensible view and a good number of powerful and convincing arguments can be brought forward in support of it. His Majesty's Government do not desire to criticise any States who have taken that view, but so far as they are concerned they, in common with many others, have held that this is not a question which concerns ourselves alone, but that it is one which requires consideration by the appropriate organ, the League. The result of this difference of opinion is that some of those who took part in collective action have already recognised the Italian position in Ethiopia. Others, again, have taken action which implies recognition, or seems to imply recognition. Others, again, have taken no action at all. The result of that is a confused and anomalous situation, a situation which does require clearing up.

His Majesty's Government have taken the first step towards clarification by asking the Secretary-General to place an item dealing with this question on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the Council, which they consider to be the appropriate organ. Let me make one or two points clear. First of all, our action does not mean that we condone or that we approve the methods by which Italy obtained control of Abyssinia. Secondly, it does not mean that we are going to ask the League to modify any resolution or any decision which it took during the period of the conquest. The League has expressed its judgment on the whole affair in the plainest possible terms and there will be no going back on that. In the third place, we do not intend to ask any other State to take any action which they might deem incompatible with their obligations. There is something further. Neither any action which we have taken nor any action which we may ask the Council to take, in itself constitutes recognition. It neither binds us nor anyone else to recognition. The act of recognition remains within the sovereign rights of each individual State. In other words, in so far as this country is concerned the time and circumstances of recognition remain within our own discretion. I myself have always maintained, and many I think agree with me, that the only circumstances in which recognition could be morally justified would be if it was shown to be an essential feature of a general appeasement. That is the position of the Government to-day.

Mr. Churchill

Is there general appeasement?

The Prime Minister

The Mediterranean Agreement is a step towards general appeasement.

Mr. Bellenger

What is the exact legal position? Is it de facto or de jure?

The Prime Minister

It is not de jureanyway, if the hon. Member means at the present moment. On the coming into force it will certainly be de jureWhat I was saying was that the justification for recognition de jurewould be that it was an essential factor in getting back to general appeasement. I do not think we could feel that we had got back or that we were taking steps towards general appeasement unless at the same time we could see that a Spanish settlement was within reach. That is a reason why we have made this Spanish settlement a prerequisite of the entry into force of this instrument, and a pre-requisite therefore of the recognition of the Italian conquest.

Mr. Attlee

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by a settlement?

The Prime Minister

I prefer not to give a definition of it. At this stage it would be wrong to try to define the circumstances in which one could say that a settlement had been arrived at. It may be that later on we shall get nearer the time when we can give a definition.

Mr. Attlee

The right hon. Gentleman is asking the House to approve a Treaty that is to come into force on the specific terms that there should be a settlement in Spain, and now he says that he cannot tell the House what a settlement is. It is ridiculous. The House is entitled to know.

The Prime Minister

There I leave myself to the judgment of the House. I cannot tell the House even when this Protocol and Annexes will come into force. No doubt the situation will clear itself up as time goes on. The right hon. Gentleman does not agree with that policy I know, but I do not think the House in general will feel that this is not a policy or that I am being unduly obscure at the moment in declining to say what is to be the final definition of the words "settlement of the Spanish situation."

I think that is all I need say on the question of recognition, but I would like to tell the House that all through these negotiations we have been in the closest touch with the Dominions, who have been advised of the progress of them from the very beginning. Egypt, of course, in virtue of her special relations, has also been kept closely informed, and not only that, but on all questions which actually affect Egyptian interests there has been collaboration with her, and no decisions affecting those interests have been taken without prior consultation and full concurrence on her part. Then, of course, our special relations with France have naturally led us to keep her informed of our general intentions, and I think the House knows that the French Government have expressed their warm approval of our action. Not only do they approve what we have done, but they have paid us the sincerest flattery by deciding themselves to enter into conversations with the Italian Government, in the hope of concluding an agreement which, I understand, they expect to be of a similar character, and if they can be successful in that end one may say that a further step will have been taken towards the clearing of the European horizon.

France is not alone in approving of this Agreement, for we have had from the Balkan Entente, through their chairman, a message of warm congratulation upon the result. I think I may say that the Press of Europe, with hardly an exception, has given a sincere welcome to this Agreement; and it will not have escaped the attention of hon. Members that the President of the United States has signified his sympathetic interest and considers that this affords proof of the value of peaceful negotiations. In this almost universal chorus of praise, is it not strange to find only those two parties opposite regretting and opposing an agreement which has done so much to lighten the tension in Europe and to avert the danger of war? For my part, I repudiate the idea that it is impossible for democracies to come to terms and to understandings with States where authoritarian ideas prevail. This Agreement proves the contrary, and I am encouraged by what has happened to hope that we have taken only the first step towards a healthier and saner state of things in Europe.

I believe that for Italy and ourselves this Agreement marks the beginning of a new Era. In former days we had a close friendship with the old Italy, the Italy which, with our warm approval and sympathy, won her independence and her unity under Cavour and Mazzini and Garibald1. [HON. MEMBERS: And Mateotti."] To-day there is a new Italy, an Italy which, under the stimulus of the personality of Signor Mussolini, is showing new vigour, in which there is apparent new vision and new efficiency in dministration—

Mr. A. V. Alexander

And new horrors.

The Prime Minister

—and in the measures which they are taking to improve the conditions of their people. With the laying aside of temporary differences which this Agreement has brought about, I believe that we may look forward to a friendship with the new Italy—

Mr. Alexander


The Prime Minister

—as firmly based, as that by which we were bound to the old.

4.18 p.m.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: whilst prepared to take every legitimate measure for developing and strengthening friendly relations with all peoples, this House cannot approve an agreement made with a State actively engaged in wanton aggression in Spain, which in exchange for illusory promises sacrifices the people of Abyssinia, violates the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and substitutes for the principle of collective security a policy of alliances and armament rivalries which so far from bringing general appeasement will intensify the danger of world war. The Prime Minister gave us a rather lively opening and a lively but significant ending. In the middle part of his speech he recited the provisions of these various declarations and agreements and the recital became a little dull. Though each of these documents has its significance in foreign policy, nevertheless, they did sound like a collection of odds and ends, and that fact evidently impressed the Prime Minister himself, because by the time he reached Annex 8, which deals with the London Naval Treaty, he himself was driven to describe it as a mere side line. We have often accused His Majesty's Government of having a pro-Fascist bias in their foreign policy. That was indicated when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) resigned his office, and the only new Member to go into the Government was an openly proclaimed partisan of General Franco.

The Prime Minister this afternoon having used, I thought rather inappropriately, the names of such great champions of freedom as Mazzini and Garibaldi—having taken those names in vain—went on at once to applaud the new Italy. He praised the Mussolini regime. We must take it, therefore, that the Leader of the Conservative party in this country admires the Mussolini regime with all its tyranny, with all its suppression of political opinion, with all its murders and assassinations. [HON. MEMBERS: "Russia."] We must take it from this utterance of the Prime Minister that the regime of the Fascist Government in Italy commands the approval, the respect and the support of the present occupant of the high office of Prime Minister of Great Britain and the leader of the Conservative party in this country. I do not dwell upon the fact, but we note it, and hon. Gentlemen opposite may be assured that they will hear more of the fact that the regime of Fascism, and presumably the rule of the Nazis as well, is approved by the leader of the Conservative party.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft


Mr. Morrison

I am perfectly certain that the Prime Minister will be able to defend himself without the assistance of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I propose to analyse, from my point of view, the Agreement which is now submitted to the House for approval. I propose to ask whether it actually contributes to the peace and security of our country and the British Commonwealth. I propose to examine its moral aspect and to consider, as the Prime Minister has carefully refrained from considering, its effect upon the League of Nations and the collective peace of the world. There are annexed to the Protocol, eight agreements and declarations, and perhaps the most significant aspect of them is the fact that of these eight agreements and declarations five—the majority—are reaffirmations. Presumably these reaffirmations are necessary because the previous affirmations have not been honoured by the Government of Italy. If they had been honoured, obviously it would not be necessary to have this series of agreements and declarations reaffirming them.

We are not against proper agreements with other nations, negotiated at the right time, in the right way and in harmony with the principles of the League of Nations and of the collective organisation of peace. But our belief and our apprehension is that, as five out of eight of these agreements or declarations are reaffirmations, made necessary by past bad faith, there is not the smallest guarantee that the new affirmations, together with these three additional items, will necessarily be observed by the head of the Italian Government and by this Fascist regime for which the Conservative Prime Minister has such admiration. There is no likelihood, no probability, that they will be any more respected, or that they would be any more respected unless those agreements were related to the collective organisation of peace in the world—which they are not.

What are these reaffirmations? There is a reaffirmation of the agreement known as the "gentlemen's agreement." They are curious gentlemen who need a reaffirmation of their agreement. But the gentlemen's agreement of January, 1937, as to the Mediterranean, was, as every hon. Member knows, repeatedly broken by the Italian Government. It was broken by acts of piracy in the Mediterranean, in which the Italian Government was involved—acts of piracy which were only brought to an end by an act of collective security through the Nyon Agreement. It was broken by the occupation—the continued occupation—of the Balearic Islands and their fortification, and by the continuance and even intensification of intervention in the internal affairs of Spain, by military force. Although this gentlemen's agreement of 1937, now reaffirmed, promised that Italy would respect the rights and interests of all Mediterranean Powers, the House knows that Italy has not done so. Italy has made a direct attack upon the friendly Government of Spain, and has been involved in attacks upon the ships of British nationals and others. Those of us who listened last night to the radio must have heard an indignant message sent by a British captain protesting against the position, that after this Agreement had been approved by the Government, Italian and German aircraft were actually damaging British shipping and British interests. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members had better read it if it has been published.

Annex 3 reasserts the independence of the Arab States that was affirmed in the Treaties of 1927, but it recognises Italy, for the first time, as an associated Power in Arabia, thereby elevating the status of Italy in the Near East. It excludes all other Powers. One may ask, does it especially exclude any interests of the League of Nations in Arabia? We ought to have an answer on that point. To me it reads something like the kind of agreement that used to be effected between this country and Tsarist Russia before the War. It limits British powers of fortification and recruitment and assures Italy's commerce of most-favoured-nation status. This is, essentially, an imperialist agreement of the pre-war variety, and it actually elevates beyond the existing position the public status of Italy in the Near East, and relatively drops the status of Great Britain in the Near East. We have thus helped to make Italy, of the volition of the Prime Minister and his Government, a great Imperial Power in the Near East, and, unless she plays the game, we have helped to make her a greater menace to British interests in the Near East. That is a totally different operation from the lessening of all Imperialism, which can he achieved by international advance and by genuine, common, international action.

Annex 4 is against propaganda. It is a reaffirmation of the provision in the Gentlemen's Agreement, which everybody knows has been broken. Annex 5 is another reaffirmation of undertakings previously given with regard to Lake Tsana, and Annex 8, with regard to the freedom of the Suez Canal, merely affirms what is contained in the Convention of 1888, but having regard to the queries that were raised at the time of the Italian war against Abyssinia, one may be permitted to ask whether it is designed to exclude the possibility of the League of Nations, by common action, setting aside the Convention of 1888 if that were necessary for the collective enforcement of peace through the League. These are the five reaffirmations which are contained among these eight Annexes.

What are the new undertakings to be found in this precious Agreement? There is to be exchange of military information, and I want the House to note the territories on either side which are concerned in this exchange of military information. On our side they are Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Palestine, the Suez Canal Zone, Aden, British Somaliland, and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, a comprehensive and important list of centres of great significance to the communications of the British Commonwealth. On the Italian side they are Eastern Libya, Eritrea, Abyssinia, Italian Somaliland, and the Dodecanese. The effect upon Palestine of this Agreement is not at all clear. What is clear from the Prime Minister's statement is either that Palestine was completely overlooked in the course of the official negotiations and that subsequent questions caused the Government to ask that something should be put on oral record as to the matter, or it was discussed in the negotiations, and agreement was impossible. We ought to know more about the effect of the Agreement upon Palestine, and I hope the Under-Secretary of State will be able to tell the House later on.

That is what each side must tell the other about the movement of military forces, but Italy is not obliged to tell us about her forces in Western and Central Libya, she is not obliged to tell us about any military movements of General Franco's, if he should win the civil war and become the puppet of the Italian Government in the internal administration of Spain, nor need she tell us of any special facilities that he may give to Italy if he wins the civil war. It really is not necessary to contemplate that Italy would get the actual annexation of territory in Spain. She may not—it is not necessary —but she may still exercise considerable military power in the real sense of the term and in time of war and difficulty may have absolute carte blanche and facilities open to her for military operations in Spain or the islands connected with Spain. These things constitute a very real danger for France and Great Britain, countries which are now acting very closely together. Italy already has considerable fortifications in the Mediterranean, at the mouth of the Red Sea, and in Spain and its possessions, and she is under no obligation to tell us of further preparations in Italy itself, in Sicily, in Sardinia, or in Central or Western Libya; and those considerations may well endanger Malta or our own Mediterranean, interests.

But, on the other hand, we are bound to supply military information, as I have indicated before, affecting areas which are far more important to us than some of those areas are to Italy. We are, moreover, bound to supply information about naval and air bases East of Malta. In fact, Italy has been treated in that particular Annex as if she were a faithful friend, a reliable country, and even a 100 per cent. supporter of the League of Nations and collective security. That kind of exchange of information would be perfectly proper a means of organising collective security through the League of Nations with completely reliable countries, but exchange of information of that kind with a country having the record of Italy is, I suggest, a very dangerous thing for the Government to have agreed to.

Annex 6 prohibits compulsory native recruitment in Abyssinia for international war. It is a reaffirmation of a declaration and an undertaking given by Italy to the League of Nations. It is a curious thing to have from Italy undertakings about the absence of compulsory military service in these territories, the promise being made that natives would only be put into the Army as volunteers. We have heard of volunteers before, in connection with Italy. She says that the soldiers who have gone to Spain are volunteers, but every one of us knows that those soldiers go there by military order and under force equivalent to conscription. Therefore it will be perfectly easy to get round that, either through the chiefs or otherwise, especially as Italy is a dictatorship, and there can be no Parliamentary questions put as to breaches of agreement or grievances on the part of the native population. It is a dictatorship, with no Parliamentary questions, and there will be nothing easier in the world than for that part of the Agreement to be broken.

Annex 7 deals with religious freedom for British residents in Italian East Africa, and it merely promises to consider requests from British missions and philanthropic organisations, but there is no word of the readmission of traders from parts of the British Commonwealth who have been excluded from Abyssinia since the partial Italian occupation, and presumably the position is that the Britishers who are there, provided they do not economically conflict with Italian interests, may remain and may worship a deity in any way that may commend itself to them. Really this provision is a diplomatic defeat rather than a diplomatic victory. As to the reduction of the Italian troops in Libya by r,000 a week, that will save Signor Mussolini a lot of money. Presumably he put them there for some purpose—and possibly the Agreement was one of the purposes—but it will take him a year to reduce the garrison by about 50,000, which, I understand, is the kind of figure in mind, and having taken a year to reduce them by 50,000, he can easily, if he wishes to frighten the Prime Minister again, put them back in the course of two or three weeks.

I now come to the two features of the Agreement which are really of a scandalous character and indicate, even more than these other provisions, a deterioration in the morale of the British Government in these matters. It is provided that Italian forces and material are to be withdrawn from Spain when the civil war is over or, as to men but not as to material, if the Non-intervention Committee affects it. The whole situation is in the hands of Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler. The Non-Intervention Committee cannot function properly without their good will and their sincere support. Time after time Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, through their Ambassadors, have promised genuine co-operation in securing non-intervention in Spain, the withdrawal of troops, or volunteers, as they call them, and the cessation of the sending of war material to Spain, and time after time both of them have sabotaged the work of the Non-Intervention Committee, until the Government themselves have got tired of calling the Committee together. Therefore, the reference to the Italian acceptance of the British formula may mean something or it may mean nothing at all, because if Signor Mussolini does not himself make it impossible for the Non-Intervention Committee to come to decisions, the impossibility can easily be provided through the machinery and through the representatives of the German Government; and when the civil war is over, when, as they hope, General Franco will have won, and when he thereby becomes quite probably a military dependant of Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler, then any of these privileges of a military or strategic character, or of an economic character, can easily be arranged without a technical breach of this Annex or these agreements which are now before the House.

The same is true with regard to the undertaking as to Spanish territories or garrisons, because those can easily be arranged, not by annexation, not by definite Italian occupation, but if it he the case, as it may be the case, that General Franco, if he wins, is dependent upon external aid to maintain order in his country, as he will call it, then there is nothing easier than for concessions to be given to Italy or to Germany which will be of the highest military value to those countries against us and against France in the event of hostilities breaking out. This Spanish provision, taken together with the Abyssinian deal, is, in my judgment, the most shameful part of the Agreement. It constitutes an open and flagrant betrayal of Government, loyalist, and constitutional Spain. It is a positive incitement to Germany and to Italy to make General Franco win quickly—the quicker the better. It almost seems as if the Agreement said, "The quicker you can get him to win, the better the British Government will be pleased." Perhaps it is significant that yesterday's Astor newspaper, the "Observer," a newspaper which is now cordially supporting the Prime Minister, said, in discussing, it is true, the talks with France—and this newspaper is owned by the Astor family and is a semi-Fascist newspaper, which is another significant sign of where the Conservative party is going: Nothing can now prevent the complete success of the Nationalist movement, which embodies more than ever the will and character of the decisive majority of the Spanish people themselves. We have come now in this Agreement to an official recognition of intervention. We were supposed to have got the agreement of Italy and Germany to observe nonintervention. There came a point when it had to be admitted that intervention existed, but now we have in this agreement an official recognition by the British Government of Italian intervention, and almost an approval of that intervention. There is no insistence upon the immediate withdrawal of troops and material, despite the Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons on 21st February that no agreement with Italy would be considered complete unless it contained a settlement of the Spanish question. Is this a settlement?

The Prime Minister

It is an agreement, not a settlement.

Mr. Morrison

When the Prime Minister was asked to say what was a settlement, he declined to say. He would not say because he did not know, and now we are told that this is not a settlement. I would like to know from the Prime Minister what a settlement is, when it is likely to be effective, and how soon there is to be an exchange for the deal as regards Spain on the one hand and Ethiopia on the other? If the settlement about Spain is not made, if the date of that settlement is perfectly open, indefinite and vague, I want to know from the Prime Minister why the Government acted immediately with regard to Ethiopia by giving a notice of motion for the next meeting of the Council of the League. It seems to me that the Government have acted with speed to secure the recognition of the so-called Italian conquest of Ethiopia, but that they are not acting with speed with a view to securing the withdrawal of Italian troops and material from Spain. Again, one finds that when the French Ministers in the discussions last week apparently urged His Majesty's Government to do something better in this direction it was resisted—that is to say, if the diplomatic correspondent of the "Times" is to be regarded as reliable. We all know that the "Times" nowadays is in very close touch with Downing Street, and unless this is specifically denied, we are bound to attach importance to it. He said in the "Times" of 29th April: Spain came next. The French Ministers dwelt at length on the extent of Italian, and especially German, penetration, and urged that the problem of the German penetration should be discussed without delay. The British view was rather that the problem could better be faced after the end of the war, when Spain had a settled Government. It is believed that the French conceded this point, and the four Ministers thereupon agreed that a determined effort should be made at an early meeting of the Non-Intervention Committee—probably next week—to put into force the British formula for the progressive withdrawal of ' volunteers ' from both sides. Unless the Prime Minister denies the statement of what, from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, is a highly responsible quarter, we must conclude that it is a reasonably accurate statement of the position. This business about Spain is coupled with Britain's intention to propose to the League what amounts to the recognition of Italy in Abyssinia. We ought to know from the Prime Minister how that is to be proposed, what procedure it is proposed should be adopted at the meeting of the League Council, whether it will go to the Assembly, which hitherto has also been involved in this matter, when it will come up, when it will be settled, and whether on this point also the Prime Minister regards the Agreement as having conformed to the speech which he made in the House on 21st February this year, when he said: Secondly, I repeated that, as he had been already told by my right hon. Friend, we were loyal members of the League, and that if we came to an agreement we should desire to obtain the approval of the League for it. I said it was essential that it should not be possible, if we went to the League to recommend the approval of the agreement, for it to be said that the situation in Spain during the conversations had been materially altered by Italy, either by sending fresh reinforcements to Franco or by failing to implement the arrangements contemplated by the British formula.' '—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1938; cols. 62–3, Vol. 332.] We ought to know whether the view is taken that that has been complied with before the Agreement goes to the League of Nations, which Agreement includes the proposed recognition of Abyssinia as an Italian possession. So we get the position that there are two wrongs. The treatment of Spain is a wrong, and the treatment of Abyssinia is a wrong, and we are asked to believe that these two wrongs make a right. It really constitutes a double shame to the honour of our country, a double disgrace to the British name in the eyes of the world. It constitutes the ethics of the double cross. That is one of the disadvantages of the Prime Minister getting mixed up with swastika politicians. It is a breach of the Covenant, in Article 10, which the Prime Minister respected at the General Election. It is inconsistent with his House of Commons declaration of 21st February that the formal recognition of the Italian position in Abyssinia…could only be morally justified if it were found to be a factor, and an essential factor, in a general appeasement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1938; col. 58, Vol. 332.] It is impossible to reconcile it with the previous decisions of the Council and the Assembly at Geneva. It is contrary to international law accepted by the United States and other American States. It is unjustified by the facts of the situation in Abyssinia. It really is not true that Abyssinia has been conquered, and I will quote from three Conservative newspapers which indicate that it is by no means the case. The "Daily Telegraph" of 16th February, 1938, said, in a message from Aden: It is learned here that a detachment of 500 Italians was annihilated recently as a result of a ruse by Abyssinian tribesmen in the Minjar country. Serious revolts have broken out in Gojjam, north-west of Addis Ababa, and in the extreme south. It is now learned that the Wallega district in Western Abyssinia is also affected. The "Daily Express" of 16th February, 1938, reported from Aden: Abyssinian soldiers serving in the Italian army have mutinied in four districts, according to reports in Aden to-day. Italian white troops are racing from Addis Ababa to quell the trouble. The "Times" of 8th October, 1937, said: With the exception of the bigger towns and the provinces, where the means of communications are such that military aid can be secured quickly in cases of emergency, Abyssinia is governed by Abyssinian chieftains who carry on a guerilla warfare against the Italians, harassing them at every opportunity. Therefore, the situation is that we have recognised the Abyssinian conquest by Italy before it has in fact taken place, in such a hurry are we to do this imperialistic deal with the head of the Italian Government. Then there comes the Italian adhesion to the London Naval Treaty. The Prime Minister knows that it has no real significance at all. All that is left of that agreement, practically speaking, is an exchange of information. Italy cannot afford to build in real competition with Great Britain. If she did build, Britain would probably outbuild her. In any case, the Treaty fetters Italy in no material particular. In Egypt we have officially put Italy on the map for the first time. We used to consult France. France was the big competitor, the other Power concerned. We have now deliberately brought Italy in officially as a material Power in Egypt. Whether there are any unwritten understandings as to loans, credits and export guarantees to Italy we do not know, and I hope the Under-Secretary of State will tell us in his speech to-night.

So an Agreement has been made from which Italy gains much. Much of it she can evade, and all of it she can break if she wishes, without any material consequences from us. We have made an Agreement from which we gain little or nothing. We have made an Agreement which is contrary to British interests. We have made an Imperialist deal which is not even a good Imperialist deal. No wonder the documents are signed "Done at Rome." Finally, we have made an Agreement which is morally repugnant and degrading to the best instincts of our people and to the best feelings of the world. I appreciate that the British negotiators were at a grave disadvantage in negotiating with the Italian representatives, because the Prime Minister had to make an agreement of some sort. The circumstances connected with the resignation of the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs were such that if the Prime Minister had not made some sort of agreement he would have been politically humiliated and possibly politically destroyed.

That was the price that the British negotiators had to pay for the Prime Minister's undue interference with foreign policy and his humiliation of the late Foreign Secretary. Does the House think that Signor Mussolini did not know that? I have strong objection to the views and actions of Signor Mussolini, but I give him plenty of credit for being familiar with circumstances of that kind. He knew when the negotiations began that the Prime Minister had to have an agreement—almost any agreement. The consequence is that the negotiations were conducted by our representatives at a grave disadvantage, and it is little wonder that Italy has got the best of the deal all the way through. Germany, no wonder, is on the whole pleased. I do not know whether it is the ambition of the Government to detach Italy from Germany, but I do not think they have succeeded in doing any such thing, and I do not see why Germany should not be pleased with the Agreement which has been made.

So, in all the circumstances, I ask myself, is this a contribution to British peace and security? I answer, "No." It increases Italian influence and prestige in ways and in parts of the world which are dangerous from the point of view of British influence and security. It again makes us a plaything of Mussolin1. It makes it easy for him to continue bad faith, and in no way weakens his opportunities, and right, to continue to endanger the peace of the world, either directly or through the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis. In any case, after Austria and its conquest by Germany, Herr Hitler has got Signor Mussolini by the throat. Now Signor Mussolini is as much dependent upon Berlin as the Prime Minister is seeking to make Paris dependent upon London. There are also proceeding talks between Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini, with full military advice, with a complete military entourage, and, therefore, the hopes which hon. Members have got—I do not suppose they will be admitted, but they have got them—of detaching Italy from Germany are illusory hopes, because Signor Mussolini dare not be detached from Germany.

The Agreement, moreover, deals another heavy blow at the League of Nations, the rule of law and the collective organisation of peace. It takes us back to where the Prime Minister belongs, pre-1914, with all the doubts and uncertainties of that time; and when we look at the moral aspect, the effect on the League of Nations and the collective organisation of peace, the impression, the result, is no better. It surely is in the British interest that we should mobilise the moral forces of the world for peace. It really is a British interest that that should be done, and that we should do it collectively in the light of day, through the League of Nations or through some instrument of the collective organisation of peace, rather than by means of those who support pre-war Imperialistic deals. Under modern conditions isolation, or semi-isolation, and mere Imperialist bargains with pledge-breakers, are really a danger and not a strength to our security, both in themselves and because of their moral repercussions.

This Agreement, with all the series of concessions it gives, is a direct encouragement to Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to move towards the East. It is an encouragement to go in for more threats of blackmail or war. As a matter of fact, we may think that we are encouraging them to move east for the development of their power, or because of the implementation of their foreign policy, but it is an illusion if it is thought it is going to keep them away from trouble with us and to make us secure in the Western area of Europe, because as they become more stronger they will become more and more ambitious. Fascist success can only be kept going on more and more successes as time goes on, and the Government are bringing us nearer to the day when it will be the turn of the British Empire and of France to be directly faced with the issue, blackmail or war.

What is the effect of this Agreement upon all the worth while, democratic, good, idealistic, sincerely peaceful elements to be found in other countries? It is an effect of depression. It is a feeling that Britain is cynically setting aside her responsibilities for the collective organisation of peace. It is an impression that this is another blow deliberately directed by the Prime Minister at the League of Nations and the collective organisation of peace. France, in its electorate, is still a country of the Left. The majority of its people are people who think in terms of democracy and of the collective organisation of peace, even though the Senate has recently sabotaged the Government of the Popular Front. That majority in France, decent, thinking citizens, who want a tidy world, will be discouraged by this. I know that all the good, thinking elements to be found in America that want co-operation with Britain, want co-operation with all that is good in Europe, for the collective promotion of peace, despair of the policy of the Prime Minister and despair of this particular Agreement.

The Prime Minister had no right to quote President Roosevelt as approving this Agreement—no right whatever. It was taking a liberty with a statement that was carefully framed and was little more than a courteous gesture towards the Government of this country, such as takes place between the Governments of the world. The President—the Prime Minister knows it, and ought to have said so—said that he did not pass any judgment upon the political implications and provisions of these Treaties, and I am surprised that the Prime Minister of this country should have gone out of his way to take an action and make a statement that was really a misrepresentation of President Roosevelt.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman had no right to say that. I quoted the words used.

Mr. Morrison

The Prime Minister quoted only one phrase, and that other provision, an important concrete provision, he left out, and I say that he ought not to have done so. It was taking a light liberty with the head of a great nation with whom it is important that we should have no misunderstanding. We shall outrage the feelings of enlightened democracy in the British Dominions, we shall offend millions of His Majesty's coloured subjects, we shall make the smaller Powers feel that it is no good following British policy, no good supporting Britain in foreign affairs, no good seeking to co-operate with us for the collective peace of the world. The Prime Minister is driving the smaller Powers of Europe to the conclusion that their best way to security is to patch up some kind of a peace—and a surrender—with Germany and Italy, even if it be at the expense of the interests of this country. The effect upon the Fascist war-makers will be to courage them in their aggression, encourage them in becoming a nuisance, encourage them in their policy of blackmail. Consequently, this is not an instrument of peace: it is an instrument of moral dissolution. It is part of an attempt to line up for an anticipated war. So little do the Government believe in this thing as an instrument of peace that they are seeking, promptly and immediately, to redouble their efforts in the armaments race, and to make far more precise military preparations with France than was ever the case before in the history of this country, with the possible exception of the military discussions which preceded the outbreak of the Great War.

The truth is that the foreign policy of the Government is determined by class interests, that it is calculated, it is motived, to promote the international interests of the capitalists of the world. It is treacherous to peace, democracy and British security. The Government lack the will to peace; they lack faith; they lack belief in the possibility of making an ordered world; and so, in these circumstances, they drift and slide to war, making what preparations they can for a catastrophe that is bound to be disastrous to all mankind, whoever may win. The Government have ceased to believe in the possibility of the collective organisation of peace. They have deliberately and openly turned their back on the League of Nations and collective security. They have cynically and deliberately broken the pledges upon which they were elected. They are taking the country back to the power politics of pre-war days; they are building up, with their eyes open, the circumstances that brought about the Great War of 1914, although they know that war in the future will be more terrible arid more evil than that of 1914.

They have not got the country behind them. I said when the Prime Minister took office that he would suit us, as a sheer political proposition, much better than his predecessor. I would sooner he had pursued a wise policy and not have suited us as well politically, because I am more concerned about the peace of the world than I am about sectional party advantages; but the Prime Minister as a pure political proposition—if that is the right word to use—suits us infinitely better than did his predecessor. He helped us to win Ipswich; he was very, very largely responsible for the victory at West Fulham; he will be responsible this week for the victory at Lich-field. The Government have not got the country behind them in their foreign policy; they have broken their election pledges, and we hope the time is not far distant when the country, realising the issues, understanding the facts, will destroy this Government and make way for a Government that will pursue a policy of genuine peace.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Amery

The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has used all, and more than all, the strong language necessary to convey to this House his desire to impress us with his high moral disapproval of the Agreement which has just been concluded, but I am inclined to think that what he has conveyed to most of us is his displeasure with the fact that an Agreement has been concluded and that the Prime Minister has had a success, not only in the eyes of this House and of the country outside, but in the whole of Europe. He has condemned the Treaty by bell, book and candle with every adjective he can think of, as marking the moral dissolution and deterioration of the Government and of its shameful and scandalous policy. Every term of general disapproval he could think of was added to his criticism of the particular items in the Agreement. As a matter of fact when we look at the particular criticisms we find that they are based upon his general condemnation which, in turn, is based entirely on what he called idealistic, but which I would call partisan, grounds.

He described the details of the Treaty and its annexes as mere odds and ends. The details of the Agreement are not the Agreement itself. The essential of the Agreement is the restoration of an ancient friendship based upon history and upon the natural necessities and conditions of both the countries concerned. The right hon. Gentleman himself admits that most of the annexes would be perfectly all right if they were made with a different kind of nation. How can you come to terms with any country if you begin on a basis of fundamental distrust and dislike? His real objection, in fact, is not to this Agreement, but to any agreement with any country of whose internal policy he disapproves.

I believe that this Agreement ought to be welcomed by everyone in this country. It renews a friendship which goes back to the great days of Italy's effort to reassert herself as a nation. She believes that her efforts to-day are only a continuation of that effort. That may be wrong, but that is her outlook upon the whole question. Italy had our sympathy in all her struggles for national independence, and she rewarded that sympathy with a steadfast friendship with us which was shown in the dark days of the South African War when no other country in Europe attempted to understand our policy, and which was tested in the Great War. Above that, we have to consider, what goes even deeper in this matter than history or sentiment, the essential facts of the geographical and economic situation. There is no real essential ground of quarrel between this country and Italy, and there is every ground for our cooperation. For both of us, a free and unimpeded use of the Mediterranean is a vital necessity, and hostility between us is a danger to both of us which cannot be compensated for by any advantage which either could possibly derive from a successful war against the other. That is why the Agreement has been welcomed so wholeheartedly in this country and in Italy.

I have just come from a short visit to that country, and I can give to the House the impression that the quarrel with us, whatever the methods by which it was pursued, was against the grain of the Italian people. They hated the fact that they were quarrelling with us. It is, I believe, an immense relief to the whole Italian nation that they are once again able to be friends with us, and that our friendship is based upon the frank recognition of Italy's position as an equal great Power with us in the Mediterranean. I believe with the Prime Minister that those who are responsible for the conduct of Italian affairs mean to observe this Agreement in the spirit and in the letter, and that this Agreement is one of real friendship which may prove of incalculable value in the very dangerous and difficult times that are before us. It is an Agreement which, if it could have been concluded six months earlier, might very well have staved off such a disaster —I consider it a disaster—as the forcible annexation of Austria.

I am afraid that the real difference between the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, on the one hand, and the Prime Minister and those of us who enthusiastically support him in the action which he has taken, is a fundamental divergence as to the whole nature of foreign policy and as to the part of Britain in international affairs. Their whole outlook is based upon the assumption that the world is divided into black and white, sheep and goats, and, as he frankly said in his concluding sentences, into the virtuous idealistic Left and the pariahs and outcasts with whom we ought to have no dealings whatever.

Mr. H. Morrison

I did not say that.

Mr. Amery

That was the effect of his whole argument. It was, further, that the whole duty of this country lay in supporting the legalistic conception of the function of the League of Nations as a supreme magistrates' court for the world, and a supreme policeman for enforcing the definite hard-and-fast judgments of that court. I do not believe it is possible either to make the League of Nations work on those lines or for this country to play any part, if we follow them, except to contribute to unrest in the world. That is not the conception of British policy which British statesmen have held in the past. I should like to quote to the House a definition of British policy given many years ago by Disraeli, because I believe that it is as applicable to-day as it was then, and that it constitutes a sufficient answer to the right hon. Gentleman opposite and a sufficient justification of the whole course which the Prime Minister has so courageously taken. These are the words: The position of England in the councils of Europe is essentially that of a moderating and mediatorial Power. Her interest and her policy are, when changes are inevitable and necessary, to assist so that these changes, if possible, may be accomplished without war, or if war occurs, that its duration and asperity may be lessened. That was our historic policy. It was, in essence, the policy of successive Governments after the War.

British Governments have consistently striven since the War to bring Europe together. I need only remind the House of the efforts made by Sir Austen Chamberlain to bring Germany back into the League of Nations and of the final conclusion of that series of efforts in the spring of 1935 in the Stresa Conference, when, largely owing to our mediating influence, France and Italy were brought together and when, together with the various States with which they were associated, we reached something like a stable European system from Antwerp to Athens —not directed against Germany, for the door was always left open to Germany to come in, but at the same time offering stronger guarantees of the independence of the small nations of Europe, and particularly the nations of the Danube area, than we have seen at any time since.

The other day, in the Debate upon the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was attacked on the ground that his policy was responsible for our present expenditure and for all the trouble that we are facing. I would say, on the contrary, that the policy of Sir Austen Chamberlain which the Chancellor of the Exchequer continued to follow, brought Europe in the spring of 1935 to a position of greater stability, one offering greater hope of peace, than any that we have enjoyed since the end of the Great War. Then, unfortunately as I think, the Government allowed my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) to pursue at Geneva a policy directly inconsistent with the whole policy of the Locarno Treaties, a policy which was avowedly an alternative to the conception of sanctions and of Article 16 (a). That policy was bound to fail, and in its failure lay all the results which we have seen during the last few years.

Mr. Dingle Foot

I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the policy of Locarno was avowedly an alternative to the policy of sanctions. Was it not the fact that the annex to the Treaty of Locarno contained a reaffirmation and a reinterpretation to which our Government was a party under Article 16 of the Treaty?

Mr. Amery

I will not deal with the actual wording of the reaffirmation, but I will ask the hon. Gentleman to read the OFFICIAL REPORT of 11th March, 1935, in which he will find that both the Prime Minister of that day, Lord Baldwin, and the late Sir Austen Chamberlain, in answer to the Front Opposition Bench, definitely stated that the policy of His Majesty's Government was not sanctions, and that the policy of Locarno was our alternative to sanctions. He will find that statement in the most explicit language possible.

Duchess of Atholl

I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but it is upon an important point. Has he forgotten that as recently as last summer the right hon. Gentleman who was then Foreign Secretary assured the House, in reply to a question from these benches, that the policy of Annex A was still the policy of His Majesty's Government?

Mr. Amery

The statement which Sir Austen Chamberlain made at the League Assembly in April, 1935, when we turned down the Geneva Protocol, showed clearly that our policy was not the policy of sanctions and that the policy of Locarno was conceived as an alternative. It was under that policy that we built up a position in Europe more satisfactory than any other. Then, as I say, in an ill-advised moment, this country departed from that policy and embarked upon a quarrel with Italy, fundamentally unnecessary I believe, and leading to every disastrous consequence that has happened since.

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman but I would like to make the position clear. The right hon. Gentleman said that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) was responsible for the policy of sanctions; surely the policy of sanctions was laid down by the present Home Secretary based on very strong and definite terms?

Mr. Amery

What I said was not that the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for that policy but that, in an ill-advised moment, the Government allowed him as their representative at Geneva to pursue what I regard as a disastrous change of policy. I remember standing in this House three years ago and making a speech which certainly gave me less pleasure that any speech which I have ever made, because I had practically the whole House against me. I protested against that policy. I showed that it was a departure from our past policy and was bound to lead to disastrous consequences. Those consequences have followed. Far more serious even than what has happened is what might well have happened if that policy had been continued. I said just now that it was conceivable that an earlier settlement with Italy might have averted the misfortune of Austria. What I say with absolute confidence is that if we had not come to this Agreement with Italy we should have been facing the terribly difficult situation in connection with Czechoslovakia to-day, with infinitely less hope of being able to bring the matter to a successful conclusion.

After all, if we have not re-established the Stresa front—which I said just now was never aimed against Germany—we have, at any rate, secured a second line of strength and co-operation towards peace in Europe. When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister began his negotiations, he was told that he was betraying the League, that he was betraying France, that he was betraying the small States of Europe. But what has been the result? France has at once fallen into line with the desire to make the same agreement that we have made, and only the other day, after his visit here, M. Daladier was able to tell his own people that the relations of France with this country had never been so close or intimate as they are to-day. Again, as the Prime Minister mentioned, the small nations of South-Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean nations, all of whom are vitally concerned in what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) called a wicked agreement between Imperialists, at once welcomed that agreement as a contribution to peace and stability in the Mediterranean and the South of Europe.

To-day we are approaching the most difficult and dangerous aspect of the whole European situation, for nobody can deny the difficulty and complexity of the situa- tion in Czechoslovakia—a situation made immensely difficult by the facts of the case and the peculiar composition of the population of that country; made doubly difficult by those conflicts of political ideas which would make it almost impossible for freedom and democracy, as we understand it, to live in the purely Czech areas of Czechoslovakia if the German areas were assimilated in spirit and method wholly to the system now prevailing in Germany; and complicated again by the immense difficulty of giving any effective assistance to Czechoslovakia. In a situation of that sort, where everything depends, not only on trying to find mutual accommodation if possible between contending parties, but also on the balance of moral and material forces outside, surely it is an immense advantage that Italy should be friends, not only with Germany, but with ourselves and France, and that that system of friendship should enjoy the support of the smaller nations in Europe, which are very vitally affected by the outcome of whatever may happen in Czechoslovakia.

It is a situation of immense difficulty, but at any rate we have made, I believe, a definite start towards an improvement of the situation; and, what is not less important, the initiative in the whole foreign situation in Europe to-day has passed into the hands of this country and of our Prime Minister—an initiative which we know will be used in the interests of peace, an initiative which will be used in order to persuade Czechoslovakia to make the very maximum concessions tolerable to her as an independent State, in conjunction with the use of the collective influence of all the Powers that are now co-operating in friendship to see whether Germany cannot also adopt a more patient and reasonable policy. We may fail, but, if we succeed, we may then come to the next step, when Germany also might enter the circle of friendly and co-operating Powers, and a real basis of permanent peace for a co-operative instead of a mutually destructive Europe might arise. At any rate the attempt is worth making, and ought not to be dismissed off-hand just because we dislike certain aspects of the government of other countries.

When the Prime Minister just now spoke of a new Italy, someone on the other side interjected, "New horrors." Is that really an attempt to understand fairly a movement which, while it may have many features of which we disapprove, also has features which are well worthy of imitation? I have lately seen, for instance, the way in which the grave scourge of tuberculosis has been grappled with in Italy on a scale, by methods, and with a humanity and generosity unequalled in any other country. I have seen something of the remarkable efforts that have been made to bring, not only healthy recreation, but spiritual and artistic interest, into the lives of working men—a very wonderful movement, from which, no doubt, we can learn a great deal. There is much in this new Italy that is worthy of study, and even worthy of imitation, and, if there are things in it that we do not altogether like, we have to remember something of the history of Italy in the past, to understand Signor Mussolini's desire to enforce on the Italian people the conception that they are warriors equal to the warriors of other countries. You have to read Italian history and literature back to Petrarch, Machiavelli and Leopardi to understand something of what Signor Mussolini's appeal to his people means, and the extent to which it is directed to his own people, and not merely to aggressive assertion of himself against the world.

I did not mean to be drawn into this digression, but I did wish to say to the House that I believe that the Prime Minister's courage and initiative in going back to the historical function of England in European affairs as a mediating Power, and his abandonment of what I believe to have been a misguided aberration, have put the initiative into our hands—an initiative for peace which has already enormously strengthened our hands, and which, one may well hope, may succeed in bringing about a peaceful solution of the whole European problem, or, if not, putting us at any rate in the strongest position, morally as well as otherwise, for dealing with any situation that may arise.

5.39 p.m.

Sir Archibald Sinclair

Let me assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) that I certainly shall not dismiss this Agreement off-hand, for I do not believe that the most hardened partisan in any quarter of the House can be unconscious of the grave responsibility which rests upon every one of us in this critical year, or would wish to make party capital out of the seriousness of the international situation and the grave risks to which peace is exposed. Whenever the foreign policy of the present Government has seemed to us worthy of support—for example, when the ex-Foreign Secretary launched his scheme last year for the evacuation of foreign combatants from Spain, and when piracy was suppressed in the Mediterranean under the Nyon Agreement—we have readily and willingly supported the Government. To-day, if we thought that this Agreement would strengthen peace, that it would restore the old and precious friendship, to which the right hon. Gentleman has just referred so eloquently, between the British and the Italian peoples, and that it was firmly rooted in honour and sound principles of world order, we should welcome it even more warmly than we did the Nyon Agreement.

But in fact, by compelling this country to recognise the Italian annexation of Abyssinia—I do not say "conquest," for Lord Lugard pointed out in a recent letter to the "Times" that conquest has not been achieved owing to the splendid resistance of the Abyssinians fighting bravely for their freedom—by compelling this country to recognise the annexation of Abyssinia, and also by countenancing the Italian invasion of Spain, which has been condemned by the League of Nations and which is contrary to the non-intervention Agreements to which both the Italian Government and the British Government are parties, the Prime Minister has shirked responsibilities and sacrificed principles—if I may quote from the last speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) delivered in the country as Foreign Secretary—principles on which alone peace can be established, not only for ourselves, but for the young people who are now growing up.

One of the most curious and astonishing features of this Agreement is that, whereas it does not formally come into operation until Italian troops and war material have left Spain, it confers upon Signor Mussolini two great and immediate advantages. It legitimises his intervention in Spain, and that was a thing which Parliament and the country had a right, from the assurances which the Prime Minister gave when he embarked upon these negotiations, to expect would be avoided. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) challenged the Prime Minister on the assurance which he gave to Parliament on 21st February, when he said: I told him "— he was referring to Count Grandi— that the British Government regarded a settlement of the Spanish question as an essential feature of any agreement at which we might arrive."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1938; col. 62, Vol. 332.] The Prime Minister retorted, "Oh, but this is not a settlement. It is an agreement," but the Prime Minister had said in February that there would be no agreement without a settlement. Now we ask him: "What is the settlement?" and the Prime Minister answers: "I cannot tell you." What is to be the position in Spain when this Agreement comes into force? What is the settlement going to be? If the Prime Minister were to answer us frankly, he would tell us that it is whatever Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler are able to impose upon the Spanish people. That would be the true answer. We have actually made an Agreement with Signor Mussolini on the basis that his intervention in Spain may continue—may continue in defiance of the Non-Intervention Agreements by which both his Government and our own are bound, until the Spanish war is over. The Prime Minister has got himself into this position, that he has to watch the German and Italian ravishers of Spain crushing the liberties of the Spanish people with the hope that they will get on with the job quickly, so that this Agreement, for whatever it may be worth, may come into force.

Mr. Leslie Boyce

And the Russians and French on the other side.

Sir A. Sinclair

What does that matter? If I dealt with that point it would be irrelevant to our discussion about this Agreement. We are now dealing with the Italian Government, and we are recognising Italian intervention in Spain contrary to the provisions of the Non-Intervention Agreement.

Mr. Boyce

The British formula does not contemplate the unilateral withdrawal of Italian troops.

Sir A. Sinclair

I am not discussing the British formula; I am discussing the Non-Intervention Agreement, which antedates the British formula. It is in defiance of the Non-Intervention Agreement that Italian intervention in Spain will continue now, with our connivance. The other great and immediate advantage which this Agreement confers upon Signor Mussolini is that it involves our approach to the League of Nations to tell the League that we propose to recognise the annexation of Abyssinia by means which we ourselves have described officially as flagrant aggression. So ends the policy on which, as the right hon. Gentleman reminded us —and I shall refer to that again in a moment—the Government embarked in 1935, and on which they appealed to the people of this country and won their great majority at the last General Election. It ends in humiliation at the hands of the Italian Dictator and the present Prime Minister.

As for the Abyssinians, they fight on, with the Emperor in exile, because he trusted this Government. When the Walwal incident happened he could have overwhelmed the Italians and flung them out of Abyssinia; but it would have been rash and dangerous and we counselled discretion, and he trusted us. We said, "Trust the League." Meanwhile, Italian preparations for aggression were redoubled. To obtain money to defend his people, the Emperor sold an oil concession in Abyssinia. The Government stepped in and stopped the transaction. While the Italians made ready for aggression, we urged restraint upon him. We are always restraining somebody in order to keep the peace, but the people we restrain, with the single exception of the Nyon Agreement, are the victims of aggression, and the result of our efforts, under this Government, has always been the triumph of the aggressor. Then we put an embargo on the exports of munitions to Italy, who did not want them, and we applied the embargo also to Abyssinia, who was doomed without them. "Never mind," we said to the Emperor, who was a bit perturbed at that action; "rust the League."

Then came the Hoare-Laval Agreement, which stabbed the League in the back and gave the sanctions policy a blow from which it never recovered. It was not the Labour party or the Liberal party which threw over the present Home Secretary and forced him to resign; we had not the power; it was not the League of Nations Union; but it was this Government, which tore up the Hoare-Laval Agreement and encouraged the Emperor to continue his resistance. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook tried to throw the responsibility on to the former Foreign Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington believed in the policy, and I believe that if he had had the support from his colleagues which he ought to have had, he would have carried that policy through to success. But the responsibility for that policy rests not only on him but on the late Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister and all their colleagues.

Now, apparently, we are going to object to the Emperor of Abyssinia being represented at the next meeting of the Council of the League on the ground—the infamously mean ground—that he is in arrears with his subscriptions. If a just balance-sheet was struck of the mutual obligations of the League and the Emperor, it would not be the Emperor who would be found to be in arrears. Meanwhile, in the eyes of the League the lawful Emperor of Abyssinia is not the King of Italy but Haile Selassie. He was so officially addressed in a letter from the Secretary-General of the League two or three weeks ago. Unless the Assembly unanimously decide to withdraw recognition from Haile Selassie, he will remain Emperor of Abyssinia in the eyes of the League. If the Government recognise another Emperor, they cannot still pose before the people of this country as loyal supporters of the League. Will they abide by the decision of the League? If so, the Agreement we are discussing is still-born. If not, and if we intend to recognise the Italian annexation, whatever the League says, why attempt to involve the League in our own humiliation?

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook, who made such an eloquent speech just now, is pleased, of course. He is rightly so. I remember that very plucky speech he made a year or two ago. Of course he is satisfied. The wheel has come full turn. If there was any sense in our political arrangements, he ought to be in the Government; he ought to be carrying out this policy of which he has always been such a sincere and effective defender.

What advantages are offered us in this Agreement against the concession of these two immense advantages to Signor Mussolini, with all the added prestige both at home and abroad which they will give him? There are ostensibly two. First there is the repetition of Signor Mussolini's assurances in regard to Spain. There are three assurances that he gave, as the Prime Minister mentioned this afternoon. The first is that he accepts the British formula for the evacuation of foreign troops from Spain. He accepted that two months ago, and that has not prevented him not merely from maintaining but from reinforcing his troops in Spain. The Prime Minister admits now that the troops have been reinforced—he cannot deny it; we have concrete evidence that these troops have gone from Italy to Spain during the period of the negotiations—but he says these reinforcements are not material. They are material enough for the Italian troops to be described in an official manifesto of the National Directorate of the Fascist Party in Italy as the indispensable factor in General Franco's victories.

We know what absolutely impartial correspondents say. The "Times" correspondent at Hendaye, for example, said a month ago that the Republicans would be hard put to it to prevail against General Franco unless they received help in something like the same measure as General Franco is receiving help from Italy and Germany. We know that in Rome thousands of Italian casualties have been officially published. We can see clearly that the acceptance of the British formula for the evacuation of foreign volunteers is, in itself, merely an empty formula for keeping France and Britain quiet while Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler get on with the job of helping General Franco to victory in Spain.

The second assurance that Signor Mussolini gives us is that at the end of the war Italian troops and war materials will leave Spain. I have no doubt about that; they will have done their job and will go. They would have done that anyway, and this assurance is of no value. The third assurance is the important one that the Italian Government have no territorial or political aims, and seek no privileged economic position, in or with regard to either Metropolitan Spain, the Balearic Islands, any of the Spanish possessions overseas… On the face of it, this assurance is empty and worthless. If the Italian Government have no political aims in Spain, will the Under-Secretary tell us what are the troops doing there now; why are they fighting there at immense cost in Italian life and treasure?

Mr. Boyce

Because the Russians were there first.

Sir A. Sinclair

No formed bodies of Russian troops have ever served or are serving now in Spain. At any rate, if that were so, would that not be a political aim, to get the Russians out of Spain? The hon. Member who has interrupted me, not for the first time, is merely convicting Signor Mussolini of insincerity in putting his signature to this document.

Mr. Boyce

When the war is over, Signor Mussolini will have no political aims.

Sir A. Sinclair

This document says that he has no political aims now. I hope that the hon. Member will not interrupt me again, because it does not assist his case, and merely detains me longer. It is not a question of doubting this assurance. The fact is, that this assurance does not even make sense as it stands at present in the Agreement.

Let us assume the worst, that General Franco does win the war. How will this assurance apply to the situation which will then arise? We must remember that the forces behind General Franco: the church, the big property owners, the general staff, are those which have always been most friendly to Germany and unfriendly to France and Britain. It was only due to the exertions of Count Romanones and the Spanish Liberals that Spain was kept neutral during the War. The insurgent leaders have frequently declared that they will never forget the help they have received from Italy and Germany, and that their foreign and economic policy will always be based on friendship with those countries. The speech last week of Sir Auckland Geddes, the chairman of the Rio Tinto Company, gives an indication of the difficulties under which a British enterprise is conducted in General Franco's territory, and, moreover, it reveals that General Franco is deliberately pursuing an economic policy hostile to France and Czechoslovakia—presumably, although Sir Auckland Geddes does not add this, at the instigation of his German advisers. Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini are neither fools nor philanthropists: they are not likely to throw away German and Italian lives and money without obtaining anything in return. If you push away one end of the Rome-Berlin Axis in Spain, you may be quite sure that if General Franco wins you will catch it in the neck from the German end.

But if General Franco wins and if, when Signor Mussolini presents his bill, General Franco turns out his pockets and they are empty, and he then says to Signor Mussolini, "You see, I have no cash; but if economic concessions would be of any interest to you; or a few little bases for submarines at ports around our coast, all carefully equipped and stocked with petrol; or the use of our harbours in time of war; or, if you are involved in war, an undertaking to send a certain number of divisions to the Pyrenees Frontier, not to threaten France, of course, but as a purely precautionary measure of defence; or the concentration of a few howitzer batteries in the neighbourhood of Gibraltar; or an understanding that in time of war a temporary occupation of certain Spanish islands in the Mediterranean may be advisable, as a precaution against Bolshevism," would Signor Mussolini be bound, under this Agreement, to refuse? I do not think he would, by the wording of the Agreement. Would he refuse? I am sure he would not. If this Agreement is ratified, the Government will have sold Spain, and in selling Spain they will be selling the Mediterranean to Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler.

There is one other main advantage which the Government profess to have obtained, and that is the relaxation of tension—a very pretty phrase. It is not indeed so full of meaning as collective security, of which they used to be so fond, but it has the advantage of comparative freshness. No doubt there has been a little relaxation of tension because in Abyssinia and Spain Signor Mussolini has got what he wants, but soon the tension will begin again when Signor Mussolini wants trade, raw materials, credits and loans to bolster up his regime. When Italian economic conditions require credits true friendship will indicate that we should grant them and if we object obviously there will be more tension, only to be relaxed by grants of loans and credits. The Government would not dare to put into the Agreement now that they were going to give credits to the Italian Government, but they will come as the inevitable consequence of it within a very few months, without a doubt. Then there will be tension in Czechoslovakia. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook said, it is growing. That could be relaxed, of course, by pushing the Trojan horse of internal dissension into Prague as it was pushed into Vienna and Spain, and the Prime Minister will be pushing with the best of them. Then there will be more tension as the occupants of the horse get to work, then absorption or partition of Czechoslovakia, and the tension again most happily relaxed. But that will not be the end. There will be more tension still. In fact Herr Hitler has said so. In five or six years, he has told us, there will be great tension over his demand for colonies, and then it will be relaxed again no doubt by the granting of a colony, until a fresh demand is made. Of course submission and self-abasement produce a relaxation of tension, but only at the cost of exalting the dictatorships and acknowledging the fruits of aggression and the rule of force.

I have dealt with the Agreement in its broader aspects because they are the most important, and even if it were satisfactory in detail these broader aspects of it would justify and, indeed, demand its rejection. But the details themselves are important and in many respects astonishing, and if the House will bear with me for a very few minutes—I will not analyse the Agreement, as that will take too long —I will give a few illustrations of what I mean. First Libya. I raised the question of the Italian troops in Libya on 21st October last, when the Prime Minister loftily, and, I cannot help but say, disingenuously replied: I thought the right hon. Gentleman must he aware that the movement of troops to Libya is carrying out a process the beginning of which was announced as long ago as April last, and we have no reason to suppose that it has any connection with current events."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Zest October, 1937; col. 172, Vol. 327.] Yet now the reduction of the garrison of Libya by half at the rate of 1,000 men a week is represented as one of the Prime Minister's principal achievements in this Agreement, although when the evacuation is complete in something like a year's time, all the troops could be sent back again in a fortnight.

Take the agreement about fortifications and naval bases in the Mediterranean. All the new Italian bases are unaffected and we are precluded from taking counter measures in Cyprus or Palestine. Then I am raising a further point not for criticism but for information, and I hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to reply on this point at the end of the Debate. There is the reaffirmation of the disclaimer of any intention on the part of the Government to modify the national sovereignty of territories in the Mediterranean which was contained in the gentlemen's agreement of last January; but since last January the Government have declared their policy of creating an Arab and Jewish State in Palestine. I ask the Under-Secretary of State how these two declarations, the one that there is to be an alteration in sovereignty in Palestine and the other that there is to be no alteration in the sovereignty of territories bordering the Mediterranean, are to be reconciled?

There are many other unsatisfactory and even dangerous features of this Agreement, but I will only mention one, and that is the militarisation of the natives in Abyssinia. The Agreement is that the Italian Government accepts the principle that the natives of Italian East Africa should not be compelled to undertake military duties under other than local policing and territorial defence. It gives the Italian Government all that they could ask. Under this Agreement they could, if they wanted, compel every Abyssinian to join the Italian Army in order to take part in the military defence of Abyssinia, and then, having asked the Chief whether they had his permission to draft their troops anywhere else or having persuaded them to volunteer, they could draft as many as they wanted of the natives of that army which had been formed for defence purposes as volunteers to Spain or any other country in the world. It is absolutely meaningless. Compare it with the undertaking which we have accepted, and I say rightly accepted, for the Aden Protectorate. I do not complain of accepting it. On the contrary, it is an excellent undertaking, but the under- taking that we have accepted in respect of the Aden Protectorate says: Furthermore, the Government of the United Kingdom will not enrol the inhabitants of any of these territories, or cause them to be enrolled, in any military forces other than those designed and suited solely for the preservation of order and for local defence. It is, I am afraid, sinister that the Government should have accepted those obligations in regard to the non-enlistment of natives in the Aden Protectorate and not have been able to persuade Signor Mussolini to accept at least as strong an undertaking in regard to the natives of Abyssinia.

The Prime Minister says that this Agreement has been universally welcomed. I was very glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney dealt so faithfully with his distortion of President Roosevelt's view. The Prime Minister was giving us the names of countries and people who had expressed a judgment on this Agreement, and he included in his list the President of the United States of America, whose words he quoted as expressing sympathy. I concluded, and I am sure that most Members of the House concluded, that it was like the other expressions which the Prime Minister quoted—an expression of political judgment. It turns out that, if the Prime Minister had read on a little further from the same speech from which he had quoted, he would have found that the President went out of his way to disclaim any political approval of this Agreement at all. The right hon. Gentleman went on to deal with a number of other countries who have given approval to the Agreement. We have had all this before. It is an old story. We had it all when the Gentlemen's Agreement was made with Italy in January, 1937. We had all these assurances. We were told that it was warmly welcomed by France, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Greece and Egypt, the very nations which were mentioned by the Prime Minister this afternoon. We were told that it marked the end of a chapter of strained relations. We heard the same phrase this afternoon. We were told "that this declaration—the Gentlemen's Agreement—has been of service to an appeasement in the Mediterranean. There can be no manner of doubt." Indeed the Prime Minister at Birmingham on the 29th January of last year said: The recent Agreement between the Italian Government and our own has done a great deal to dissipate the ill-feeling which had arisen out of efforts to fulfil our obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations. It has not indeed brought any new or startling developments with it, but it has removed a good many misunderstandings and suspicions, and so far from giving rise to any difficulties or doubts in the minds of others we find that it has already had a steadying effect all round the shores of the Mediterranean. That is what the Prime Minister told a public meeting of the citizens of Birmingham at the end of January. Yet, it has since been revealed by the former Foreign Secretary, on the 23rd February in this House, that at the time the Prime Minister made that speech he knew that Signor Mussolini had sent troops to Spain, "within a very few days indeed, almost simultaneously with the signing of it." The Prime Minister has not dealt frankly with this House of Commons or the country in regard to his policy towards Italy and Spain. Moreover he declared that there were only two sections of opinion in this House which were opposed to this Agreement. One of the most distinguished and respected Members of his party has refused to take the Whip on account of her strong disagreement with this policy, and it will be interesting to see, when we look at the Division Lists to-morrow, whether all the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen whom we saw sitting here at Question Time were here to record their votes in the Division Lobby in support of this Agreement.

For the reasons I have given, I shall vote against the Agreement to-night, but I want to make it clear to the House, that I should always be ready to talk to Germany, Italy or any other country whenever a Foreign Minister whom I trusted thought that the time was ripe. I want to be friends with all countries. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spark-brook told us he was very hopeful of getting Italy in to help Czechoslovakia. I hope that he is right and that it will work out that way, but meanwhile Czechoslovakia has another friend, a sworn friend this time, as contrasted with Italy which has no obligations to her at all—Russia. I do not hear any suggestions from the opposite side of the House that we ought, when we are asked not to complain of the internal regime of other States and to be friendly no matter what their internal system is, to keep in friendship with Russia, instead of flinging the contemptuous phrases at Russia which the Prime Minister has used in his recent speeches. I want to draw no ideological lines through Europe, excluding either Communists and Russians on the one hand, or Fascists, Germans and Italians on the other. I want peace with all countries, whatever their internal regime may be.

I heard with delight the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook tell us about some of the achievements of the present Government in Italy, and in so far as they have good achievements to their credit, by all means let us learn and study from them. I agree with him, so far as they are good achievements let us imitate them. I would study very carefully before deciding whether they were good or suitable to our character and conditions, but having studied them carefully and decided that they were good, I would say by all means let us imitate them—but do not let Italy force them upon other countries whether they want them or not.

I do not want to divide Europe into two armed camps, which is the description falsely attached to our policy by the Prime Minister, but which quite clearly applies to his own. We see two armed camps forming before our eyes. In fact, we are being taxed very heavily to maintain the armaments of one. But there is a gulf in Europe between those countries which have sincerely renounced war as an instrument of national policy and those countries which are still employing it. No firm or lasting agreement is possible except on the basis of recognising war as an international crime, and the submission of all grievances and disputes between nations to third party judgment. It is among the nations which are loyal to the ideals of the League that we should now be seeking our friends and rallying them to the defence of peace and order in the world. When we have done that and made plain, in clear and positive terms, our willingness to submit to third party judgment all grievances and disputes, we shall be within sight of bridging the gulf between nations and substituting for the existing anarchy in international relationships a system of justice and peaceful order.

6.17 p.m.

Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey

If I had any doubts in my mind as to the desir- ability of this Agreement they would have been dissipated by the terms of the Amendment and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved it. The speech to which we have just listened from the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) is typical of the sort of speech to which we are becoming accustomed from those benches. They adopt an independent and rather superior attitude and say: "If we think it is good we will accept it, but if we -think it is bad we shall vote against it." They assume a superiority of judgment.

Sir A. Sinclair

Ought we not to do that?

Sir M. Barclay-Harvey

I am not objecting so much to that as to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman proceeded immediately to lay at the door of the Government the sins of practically every State in the world for the last three or four years. I must honestly say that I have come to the conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman is rapidly qualifying for the position which I think was attributed to the late Lord Salibury in his earlier days by Mr. Disraeli, who described him as being "a master of gibes, flouts and jeers." The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of the position of General Franco, and suggested that if General Franco after the war in Spain finds himself in want of money he might make tempting offers to Signor Mussolini in the way of privileges. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that after this Agreement the position would be made easy for Italy to come to this country and ask for loans or credits, and that we should grant them. If Italy is going to be in a position that she has to ask for loans from us how is she going to be in a position to give financial assistance to General Franco if he asks for it? The suggestion is utterly illogical. It is conceivable and possible that General Franco might come to us in order to get the assistance that he will no doubt require, provided he sees some chance that we are likely to be willing to grant to a reorganised Spain the financial assistance which he will need if he is successful.

I do not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument about Spain, but I would say one thing in connection with the argument he used, and the argument that was used by the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) in criticism of some details of the Agreement. It seems to me that they have overlooked one important fact. There may be some features in the Agreement which are not perhaps entirely agreeable to us, and are apparently more agreeable to Italy, but we cannot make an agreement which is going to last or is to be of any real use unless it gives something which both the negotiators want. Although some of the provisions look as if they were wholly favourable to the Italian point of view, we must realise that there would be no real agreement if the Italians got nothing out of it and we got everything that we had asked for.

Mr. Gallacher

We have got nothing and they have got everything.

Sir M. Barclay-Harvey

That is the hon. Member's point of view but it is not mine. The right hon. Gentleman made a great deal of the fact that we are now going to recognise the Italian occupation of Abyssinia. It is very desirable, if we are going to follow the very admirable advice of the Prime Minister, and to understand the other fellow's point of view, that we should make it perfectly plain that our objections to the Italian conquest of Abyssinia were primarily, in fact wholly, based on the fact that Abyssinia was a fellow member of the League of Nations, and that it was a breach of a very definite agreement on the part of Italy to attack a fellow member of the League arid go to war. Many of us objected to that action by Italy and to the methods that she used in the attack, but we should be laying ourselves open to a charge of hypocrisy from Italy if we based our objection on any wider issue that that. Italy would be able to say: "You object to our occupation of Abyssinia, but you did not object to the recent occupation of Morocco by France." In fact the work of Marshall Lyautey in Morocco has generally been looked upon as a fine piece of colonisation. The Italians would have been able to say that if at no time an uncivilised country had been conquered by a civilised country India would still be in the state of chaos from which we rescued it, the whole American continent would still be the playground of Red Indians and buffaloes, and we in this country would still be savages, painting our bodies with woad.

Duchess of Atholl

Does the hon. Member not recognise that the setting up of the League of Nations and the establishment of the Covenant have entirely altered the situation and made all the difference between what happened in India 50 or 100 years ago and what happened more recently in Morocco?

Sir M. Barclay-Harvey

I began by saying that our objections were based on the fact that Abyssinia was a member of the League of Nations and that Italy had undertaken not to use war as a weapon against a fellow member of the League. That was the primary reason why we objected to Italy's action in Abyssinia, and I was proceeding to analyse what our objection might be on other and less legitimate grounds.

We are told that if we recognise the Italian occupation of Abyssinia we are in some way condoning a crime. But we have before now given recognition to things of which we disapprove. I might quote two outstanding examples in European history of comparatively recent date. Not many years ago the King and Queen of a European State were murdered under particularly brutal circumstances and their rivals succeeded to the Throne. We did not acknowledge those rivals for some time, but as their dynasty became established we gavede jure as well asde facto recognition. The more recent example is that of the Russian revolution. Many of us thought, and still think, that that revolution was an evil and that the way it was brought about was very evil, but we realised that there was a Bolshevik Government that had obtained control of Russia and we have givende jure andde facto recognition of that Government; we have made trade pacts with them, and we are, so far as I know, on perfectly friendly terms with the Soviet Government. We have recognised things which we thought to be evil in the first instance, and why should we not in the case of the Italian conquest of Abyssinia recognise something which we have admitted originally to be wrong?

I would say to those people who are talking about our betrayal of the League of Nations that they forget that when Italy originally attacked Abyssinia we applied sanctions which we believed at that time would be the most effective that we could apply, short of declaring war on Italy and which may and was believed would be effective. The general military opinion and the general public opinion of this country at that time was that it would take the Italians four years before they could conquer Abyssinia. If that had happened and the conquest had not been as rapid as it turned out to be, the sanctions that were applied would have had a very considerable effect upon the Italian campaign, if they had not crippled it altogether. If we are charged with condoning this so-called crime now, I would remind those who make the accusation that only a few weeks ago the Press of this country was filled with news about what was known as the Mayfair jewel robbery. Four young men were convicted of a brutal crime and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment. Some time those young men will come out of prison. Does anyone suggest that because they will be let out of prison that this country will be condoning that crime?

Mr. Silverman

Does the hon. Baronet suggest that when those four men come out of prison they ought to be left in undisturbed enjoyment of the proceeds of their crime?

Sir M. Barclay-Harvey

Certainly not. That is not the point that I am making. My point is that we are accused of condoning a crime. The fact is that the Italians are in occupation of Abyssinia. We could only eject the Italians from Abyssinia by war, and I am certain that nobody wants to do that. We are faced with the fact that they are in Abyssinia and surely it is wise if, as the Prime Minister said, this recognition of the Italian position in Abyssinia is to be part of the general appeasement of Europe, or a first step in that direction, that we should recognise the facts. To go on prating about something which we might have wished but which is no longer possible, is to adopt an altogether wrong attitude.

This Agreement under which we are going to recognise the Italian occupation of Abyssinia will not cast upon us the moral slur which certain people are trying to make out. I may not perhaps be as moral as the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland considers himself to be, but I see nothing morally wrong in implementing the Agreement, and I shall have no objection to voting for it. With respect to the opposition of the party above the Gangway, the fact is that they do not want agreement with Italy at all. They are so riddled with the anti-Fascist mentality that they can see nothing but evil in Fascism. That comes very strangely from the people who swallow anything that comes from the arch-dictator of Europe—Stalin. Their attitude in seeking an anti-dictator combination which includes Russia, reminds me of Beelzebub trying to cast out devils. Their whole objection to the Agreement is that we are trying to make agreement with a Fascist dictatorship. While there may be many things in Fascism to which we object, we must recognise, as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) pointed out, that there is a great deal of good work being done under Fascism at the present time. Not only that, but I would ask hon. Members opposite who are so bitterly opposed to Fascism to remember that it is a direct result of the work of Liberal politicians and their maladministration years ago. If it had not been for the weakness of their Giottis and Nittis, and the fact that they allowed the slums and the people of Italy to get into such a terrible condition, there would have been no outbreak of Bolshevism and there would have been no Fascism which was the direct result of the post-war Communism. That is one of the things we must remember.

While I am not a lover of dictators any more than anybody else is, I cannot blind my eyes to the immense difference which I see in Italy during the last 15 years. If any hon. Members are doubtful about it I would strongly recommend them to go and see for themselves. I hope I shall not be misrepresented as preferring dictators, but I do think that where dictators do good work it is only fair we should acknowledge their good work. Far from doing what is suggested in the Labour Amendment, that this Agreement will make for war, I think it is one of the steps towards re-establishing the peace of the world. The right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland said that Europe was getting in two aimed camps. It is, and if we pursue the policy of the party opposite we shall confirm this movement into Fascist and dictatorship camps against what are called the democratic countries, including the arch-dictator Stalin who sits in Moscow. That is one of the evils which we must avoid, and it is because this Agreement bridges the gulf between these two armed camps in Europe that I think it is a real step in the direction of peace.

I think it is a matter of the greatest importance to the Empire that we should be friendly with Italy. We cannot look at the Mediterranean and our trade routes without recognising that it is important that we should be friends with the Italian people and that we should revive the old friendship which existed between us. For these two reasons, that it is a definite step in the direction of bringing together the two armed camps of Europe and is an essential step in the protection of the legitimate interests of the British Empire, I think this Agreement is one to which we can all subscribe. The almost universal testimony of the entire foreign Press of the world is an absolute proof that the Prime Minister's policy is right. I shall vote for the Agreement wholeheartedly because I believe it is a first step towards bringing together possibly hostile forces in Europe and a very real step towards maintaining what we all want to maintain, the peace of Europe and the peace of the world.

6.34 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd George

There is one observation of the hon. Member for Aberdeen and Kincardine (Sir M. Barclay-Harvey) with which I find myself in complete agreement, and that is that when you are negotiating with a foreign country you have no right to inquire what its particular form of Government is or to have any bias against a Government whose principles are not those which inspire British democracy. That is not the issue. The issue is not whether it is right or wrong to enter into arrangements with either Stalin or Hitler or Mussolini. The question is whether this particular Agreement is right, whether it is just, whether it is honourable, and whether it will conduce to permanent peace. As far as I am concerned the other element does not enter in the least into my calculations or reasons. I was the first Prime Minister to make an arrangement with a dictator; that was with Lenin. I am not a Communist, I am not a Bolshevist, and Lord Curzon and Lord Home and the rest who were associated with me were certainly not Bolshevists. They were just as good Conservatives as the hon. Member, but we did not enter into that question in the least. We said: This is Russia. We had an arrangement with the Tsar before the War, and nobody will deny that the Government of Russia before the War was thoroughly inefficient. I do not condemn this Treaty merely because I disapprove of the principles of Mussolini. I advocated coming to an arrangement with Hitler at a time when we could have done so and when it would have resulted in disarmament. Those are not the things which affect my judgment in the least.

I am more perplexed than ever, after hearing the Prime Minister, as to what this Agreement has decided. On a question like Palestine there is nothing said. The Prime Minister simply told us that it was an oral undertaking; what the actual terms were he did not explain. That is very important. He did not know when the Agreement would come into operation. He said it was an Agreement, but not a settlement. I do not know the difference. It is not even an Agreement if it is not to come into operation until some event, which is quite undefined, has happened. In the case of Abyssinia I have always understood that it was part of the bargain with Italy that we should recognise the occupation of Abyssinia, but the Prime Minister says he refers it to the League. The League obviously has some uses. It is no use any longer as a means of protecting weak countries against an aggressor; in supporting international right by collective action. That has gone. But it is very useful to cover up the cowardice of weak Governments which dare not stand up for international right. The question was asked: Suppose the League took a certain step, does that mean that we recognise? The Prime Minister said no, that depends on circumstances. What circumstances? Italy obviously is under the impression that we have decided to recognise, but she will know now, and before Herr Hitler goes there on Monday—a very vital matter—that she cannot depend upon that. This is not an Agreement, whatever it is.

Take the question of Abyssinia. It is to be referred to the League of Nations. What line are we going to take at the League of Nations? Surely that is very vital. We have taken the lead, as far as Abyssinia is concerned, from the start. We took the lead in denouncing the act of aggression; we took the lead in proclaiming sanctions; and we took the lead in withdrawing sanctions. Are we going to take the lead next week when the League meets? If so, what? Are we going to propose something or leave it to Belgium or Holland? There may be one or two propositions. There may be from Scandinavia propositions which are hostile to recognition; there may be propositions from other quarters in favour of recognition. Which of these two propositions are we going to support? Are we going to propose recognition ourselves? because the responsibility has been ours. The Prime Minister, who made a rather truculent attack upon the Opposition in his speech forgets that he fought the last General Election upon a denunciation of Italy, upon sanctions against Italy. He denounced the action of Italy and invited the electors to support his action and the action of his colleagues in sanctions against Italy, and because we now say that he is proposing to go back upon that, that he is not acting up to his professions, he has no right to attack in an insulting way people who make that legitimate criticism, and who were elected on exactly the same policy. The right hon. Gentleman was the man who said that if we went back on that policy it would be a cowardly action.

I do not know whether the question of recognition will be a legitimate discussion at the League of Nations. Abyssinia has not been conquered; there are still forces fighting in the field. The right hon. Gentleman ought to remember very well what happened in the Boer War. The two capitals. Bloemfontein and Pretoria, were conquered early in the war and we declared the annexation of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The war went on; we occupied the country. There was no country in Europe which recognised our conquest of the Transvaal until there was a treaty to which the whole of the Boer leaders were parties, a treaty which practically restored the independence of the Transvaal. There was not a single country, least of all France, Italy, Germany and Russia, not a country in Europe, which recognised the conquest of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State until the Boer leaders themselves had signed the treaty. Why should we depart from that precedent in this way? The right hon. Gentleman forgets that we are very largely responsible for the position in Abyssinia; at least the Government of which he was then a Member and which is the same Government with different Prime Ministers, two of whom posed as idealists, and now the present Prime Minister who poses as a realist; but it is the same policy, a policy of retreat and capitulation.

What happened? We said to Abyssinia, "We will not allow you to get arms, we will have an embargo on arms. Trust to us. We will back you up through the League of Nations." They did not get arms. It is more or less the policy which has been pursued in Spain, except that it was direct intervention. We are responsible for the position of Abyssinia—and they are still fighting there. We really ought to know whether the Prime Minister contemplates recognising an act of aggression, an act of banditry, the destruction of the independence of a nation which Great Britain was pledged to protect, and which the Prime Minister said at the last election it would be cowardice to abandon. Is the right hon. Gentleman, through his intermediary at the League of Nations, going to say that he proposes now to recognise this theft, this robbery, this piratical enterprise, and that he is doing it in the name of general appeasement?

I come now to the Agreement itself. In my judgment, there are two tests of this Agreement and of its value. They are not whether it is with a Fascist Government or a Bolshevik Government, for that is irrelevant. If we arrived at a just and honourable treaty, nobody would have the right to raise the question as to how the people in the country concerned were being governed. There are two tests: The first is whether it will conduce to assuring an honourable peace in Europe, or even in creating a calmer and more peaceful atmosphere; and the second is whether it will stand the strain of war. Let us take the first. The Agreement is hailed by the Press as a triumph for peace. The Prime Minister said that it was so hailed in other countries. He was wrong when he said that President Roosevelt—I have the actual words here—approved of it, for he definitely disclaimed expressing any judgment at all on the political features of its aspects. The Prime Minister had no right to claim that President Roosevelt had approved of it. Somebody must have misled the Prime Minister, because I am sure that he would not mislead the House. I have here the actual words that were used, if any hon. Member challenges me.

The Agreement is hailed as a triumph for peace. The Prime Minister said that it had already relieved the strain in Europe. What is the fact? The international situation has become appreciably worse since we first heard that the negotiations were progressing favourably. I will give three events which have occurred since then. The first was the violent annexation of Austria by Germany. That has happened since the time when our newspapers were proclaiming that the negotiations were going well and that there was every prospect of a favourable conclusion. Is that relieving the strain? What is the second event? Since the Agreement was signed, there has been a blazing announcement in all the newspapers that war preparations have to be accelerated in this country on a great scale. You are resorting to war expedients in order to accelerate the preparation for war—double shifts, and all sorts of arrangements which we used to make during the War in order to increase the production of munitions. Where is the sign of any relieving or easing of the strain? That has happened since the Agreement was signed. Thirdly, what about the arrangement with the French? What is that? Since the Agreement was signed we have entered into military arrangements with the French to increase the production of war material and equipment on both sides of the Channel as against an emergency. Where is there, then, evidence of the strain being relieved? This morning I found in the "Daily Telegraph" an announcement that the military attaches on both sides were in conference with each other for the purpose of putting into immediate operation these arrangements for expanding the production of war material on both sides. I do not see any sign there of this Agreement with Italy having relieved the strain. Moreover, the markets have been more depressed than ever, despite the Press and Ministerial reassurances. There is no confidence anywhere that the cause of peace has been advanced. So much for the immediate effects of this Agreement with Italy which has put an end, I am told, to all quarrels.

The second question is this: Will it stand the strain of war? It may be said, "Why do you talk about war?" You would not be spending£2,000,000,000 in five years unless you thought that there was a contingency full of peril, full of risk, and not impossibly imminent. Why this talk about piling up these preparations if we are not to be allowed to talk about the possibility of war in the world? Supposing it happens. Supposing you have a great war and you have not enough aeroplanes, not enough guns; what about ammunition, and what about food? It is quite right to ask about those questions. I am going to ask the question whether, as an element in this strategical position, this Agreement will stand the strain for 24 hours after such a war is proclaimed? What is its value? The whole question in that case would be whether Mussolini and Hitler would act together. Whom would Mussolini sell? Would he stand by his agreement with Hitler, or would he stand by the Rome Pact? As a matter of fact, there is this to be said for him, that there is nothing in the Rome Pact which binds him even to neutrality in the event of war. I have no doubt that Mussolini and Hitler have a complete understanding; but when the Prime Minister talked about his oral agreements, he never said whether, if war did arise, say, over Czechoslovakia—which he himself discussed last week as a possibility with French Ministers and of which the French Press is full—there was even an oral agreement that Mussolini would remain neutral. What is the value of this Agreement if it will not stand the strain of war?

What is the real position, then? Hitler is going to Italy to-day. Never has there been such a reception organised for any foreign ruler visiting another country since the world was founded. It is a gigantic business, and they are spending almost as much money as on the aeroplanes in Spain. That is not all. If Mussolini's friendship and alliance with Hitler stood the test of the violent annexation of Austria, of which he obviously knew nothing, with the Germans on the Brenner, with two or three hundred thousand German-speaking people, in a land containing the birthplace of Andreas Hofer, waiting to be emancipated, why should he boggle about Czechoslovakia? It is not co-terminous, it is not limitrophe, he does not like it; it is a democracy, his newspapers attack it. He will not worry about two or three millions of Germans being taken from Czechoslovakia and being put under the auspices of his great ally, the Fuehrer of Germany. What would happen in that case? The Prime Minister went in detail through every important Clause in the Agreement. Can he point to one Clause that will guarantee, or in which Mussolini has given any guarantee, any word for what it is worth, that he would remain neutral if France landed us into war over Czechoslovakia?

The fact of the matter is that this Agreement does not touch the real root of our difficulties. The real root of our difficulties is that we have never stood on any position we have taken up for the last few years. The result has been this. When, in 1931, the present Government came into power, we were all discussing disarmament. Should we stop at six-inch guns, should we get rid of submarines, should we stop bombing from the air, should we limit the number of men that each army had, should we confine ourselves to so many capital ships, and, if so, what should be their tonnage, and with what guns should they be equipped? That was the discussion that was proceeding in 1931. I met a number of representatives, the present Home Secretary, the late Foreign Secretary, and two or three others in a room with Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, and we went through all the proposals for disarmament which this Government ought to support, discussing them at great length, and they were to be put forward. That was the discussion in 1931. What is the discussion to-day? Nobody mentions disarmament, but everybody has some idea on how to increase armaments, to accelerate their production, to double, treble and quadruple them. That is the only discussion that is proceeding at the present moment.

The right hon. Gentleman says the strain has been taken off. Where? The whole talk of Europe wherever you go is about war. On the exchanges, on the bourses, in every assembly that you go to—yes, and in every household—they are talking about war—" When will it come?" They are always assuming that it is inevitable—that is, since the present Government came into power. What is the reason for that? The reason for that is that you have retreated so often before these dictators that they have come to the conclusion that there is no point at which you will stand. They are going on increasing their demands: their audacity is getting more evident day by day. You have now pledged yourselves—I am only saying what I could quote from a very important Conservative paper as to the impression in France of what you have done—you have now pledged yourselves that if France gets into trouble because of its action in protecting Czechoslovakia you will back her up. The House of Commons ought to be told more about that, far more. Vague agreements that may lead you to wholesale slaughter are not permissible in a democratic country.

But that is not the point. The point is this. You were dealing a short time ago with a weak Germany. She had no army, she had no navy, she had no aeroplanes. Italy was with us at the date of Stresa—it was only in 1935. Italy joined us at Stresa. I think Mussolini presided over the proceedings there. We agreed to denounce Germany and say she could not be allowed to build up an army of 36 divisions. We said we would not have it. We referred it to the League of Nations and the League of Nations supported us, so there was complete agreement. What happened? Nothing. You ought either never to threaten or to put it through. At that time you could have imposed terms without risk of a great and dangerous war. Personally I would have given Germany a bigger army than 100,000. I was always for it at the Versailles Conference; I thought she was entitled, as a great country, to more. But you could have discussed it; you could have made terms. But you did not do it. You then came to the Rhineland. What did you do there? Hitler marched his troops into the Rhineland. He said, "Oh, they have taken no action at all about the other thing, and therefore I will go on." What did you do then? You, said, "We cannot allow it." And you looked sternly—" Stop it," you said. We said more than that—" Go back." [Interruption.] You look up the White Paper and you will see it. We ought either not to have taken that line or to have insisted upon certain terms which would have protected France. We got nothing, but we sent him a lot of interrogatories as if we were solicitors. Then there was Abyssinia, only two years ago. Thirty powerful nations, overwhelming nations, backed us up, Germany being neutral and unarmed at that time.

Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us one which was willing to go to war?

Mr. Lloyd George

I am going to deal with that in a moment. I am not in the habit of shirking questions; in fact, that is one of the points I am going to make. What happened then? There were 30 nations behind you and you retreated. You retreated when undoubtedly, according to all the evidence, Mussolini could not have held out much longer owing to the economic pressure If you had actually cut off the supplies he could not have got his oil. What did you do? We were making money out of selling oil. We were making money out of the transport of war material, to crush a people we had undertaken to protect. A year before that there were 2,000,000 tons of Italian tonnage going through the Suez Canal. The next year there were over 6,000,000 tons, and the following year there were nearly 6,500,000—all paying dues, and 44 per cent. of those dues coming to us. We were making money out of war materials to crush the independence of these poor people we had undertaken to protect. Mussolini's money was jingling in the pockets of the right hon. Gentleman when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. [An HON. MEMBER: Oh ! "] Well, in the Treasury. And the same thing applies to his successor today, to complete the conquest of Abyssinia.

The hon. Member just now asked who was willing to go to war? I have warned the House of Commons repeatedly against the folly of that cry. The moment you came up against something of that kind and it was a question of retreat or of pressing forward when you had overwhelming force behind you, the cry was raised that it would mean going to war. You ought never to have started it if you were not prepared to go to war. Whether it is in business or in politics it is the same. I forget whether I have ever told the House—an old fellow is rather apt to tell a story over and over again—of the advice I got from a very old solicitor when I started practice. "When a client comes to you," he said, and asks you to say to someone, ' Unless you withdraw a certain statement and do so and so, proceedings will be instituted against you,' the first question you ought to ask is, ' Do you mean it and if he says, No, I only want to frighten him,' then I say, You must go to another solicitor.' "No respectable solicitor would write letters of that kind, and no reputable Government would take action of that kind. But that is what you have done time after time, and then came this cry, "Would you go to war?" What are you building up these great armaments for unless there is a point at which you will make a stand? But the dictators heard that question in the House of Commons. It was reported in Germany, it was reported in Italy, it has gone all over the world. And they said, "Don't you worry about that; they won't fight." They know that the Government have no fight in them except in the House of Commons, where they have the majority behind them and where they are terrifically bellicose. They know perfectly well that the majority would be docile.

I ask the Government the question—Will the Agreement assure permanent peace? It will never assure permanent peace if you pursue the old policy and make another act of surrender. You have committed yourselves in Czechoslovakia to a position where your alternative is between surrender and war. You have only to look at the speech of Goering or at the newspapers of Germany. They are quite convinced that you won't fight. So am I. The Germans know it, and they are just looking at your record. Every time, after threatening, you withdraw, and this is one of the most abject, dishonourable, cowardly surrenders of all. Having promised protection to a weak nation, you sell it for your own peace of mind. Until we have a Government that makes it quite clear that at one point it will stand—stand with the nation and the Empire behind it—we shall not get peace in Europe.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. H. Strauss

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) spoke, as we have often heard him speak, with a vigour which we must all admire, and upon which, if I may, I would heartily congratulate him. He seemed to show even more vigorous health on this occasion, than he did on the last occasion we had the pleasure of hearing him. I need hardly add that with much of his speech I did not agree, and I was a little astonished when I heard the cheers which the Popular Front gave him for statements which were diametrically opposed to statements of the leaders who had previously spoken on that side of the House. He said, as I should have expected him to say, that he would not be against agreement with a foreign country, merely because he disapproved of that country's government.

Mr. Lloyd George

I have always said so.

Mr. Strauss

I agree that the right hon. Gentleman has always said so. I do not accuse him of saying anything different on this occasion from what he has always said. I only wish to draw a contrast between his statement and an intervention which came from the Front Bench opposite during the final words of the Prime Minister's speech. When the Prime Minister expressed his hope for friendship with the new Italy there was a cry of "Never" from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander). If that meant anything at all, it meant that the right hon. Gentleman would be against any agreement with Italy at this moment. If so, what becomes of the sincerity of the opening statement in this considered Amendment submitted by the Opposition? whilst prepared to take every legitimate measure for developing and strengthening friendly relations with all peoples. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was clearly right in treating this longwinded and futile Amendment as being equivalent to the single word "No," and confining himself to advocacy of the Agreement. By far the best speech delivered against the Government in this Debate was, as we might expect, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and no doubt the answers to many of the questions which he has posed are the answers which he desires. He asked, "Will this Agreement ensure permanent peace? "Of course it will not. Will any Agreement ever ensure permanent peace? The question is not whether this Agreement ensures permanent peace, but whether it makes the preservation of peace more likely.

Mr. Lloyd George

I said "an honourable peace."

Mr. Strauss

I agree that the right hon. Gentleman used those words, but if he reads his speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will find that he asked at a later stage, "Would the Agreement ensure permanent peace?" I assure him that I shall endeavour to deal with the substance of his speech as it deserves, and not with any mere differences about words. I noticed that no remark made by the right hon. Gentleman drew more applause from those sitting behind him—who, no doubt, welcomed a speech by somebody with the appearance of a leader—than that in which he made it clear that his policy in regard to Abyssinia would have been to close the Suez Canal. To give the right hon. Gentleman the credit which is his due, I think he made it clear at the General Election that such would have been his policy. But is there one member of the Socialist party who subscribed to that doctrine? Not one of them throughout the Election said anything of the kind. Yet to-day they are willing to cheer the right hon. Gentleman when he says that would have been the right policy for this country.

The case for this Agreement is not, of course, that it ensures permanent peace, but that at a very critical stage in the affairs of Europe it eases tension and makes the preservation of peace more likely. The right hon. Gentleman, in order to ridicule this Agreement, pointed to various things that have happened since 1931. He said that in 1931 we were discussing disarmament, and that now all peoples were thinking of the risk of a great war. No doubt there is more fear to-day of a great war than there was in 1931. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that it necessarily follows from that fact that it is the fault of the Government of this country. But the Government of this country governs this country only. It does not govern the world. Ours is not the only country which is increasing its armaments. Overwhelming increases in armaments are being made, for instance, by the United States. Is it the fault of the present President of the United States that he finds it necessary to increase the armaments of his country? The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the mere fact that we are not discussing disarmament to-day, does not, in itself, mean that the fault is attributable to the Government of this country.

I have dealt with these questions put by the right hon. Gentleman in reply to his speech, though I wonder how far they are relevant to the Agreement which is before the House. I come now to deal with two or three of the objections made to the Agreement from the benches opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) pointed out that five of the eight Annexes were reaffirmations of preexisting agreements. He seemed to think that that, in itself, was enough to condemn the Agreement and to show how useless it was. I venture to say that, if he examines precedents in treaties, and even the common practice of men when they make agreements with each other, he will find that when a comprehensive agreement is made between two parties, where previously there were a multitude of smaller agreements, it is the common practice to reiterate and set out in the single agreement the various previous agreements between the two parties. This does not mean that the other party has broken the undertakings previously given. Not even the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney could pretend that that was the case. One of the agreements thus reaffirmed is that concerning the waters of Lake Tsana. Does anybody suggest that Italy has been guilty of any breach of that agreement? Of course not. But that does not mean that it is improper to reaffirm that agreement in the present Agreement.

Now let me deal with what are, I understand, the two points of substance against the honourable character of this Agreement. Both the right hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Socialist Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition said that by this Agreement we were condoning various international wrongs; that we were countenancing Italian intervention in Spain and condoning the conquest of Abyssinia by Italy. Let us see what foundation, if any, exists for that allegation. I take the case of Spain first. I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal party who said that in this Agreement we were legitimising the Italian intervention in Spain. I wonder in what passage of the Agreement he finds that. I see the junior Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) looking for it in the Agreement, and he will find it, if it is to be found, but before he interrupts me, let me say where I imagine the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he finds it. On page 29 of the White Paper there are the undertakings of the Italian Government in regard to Spain—three very important affirmations which have already been dealt with so often that I shall not repeat them. Following these we get a letter from Lord Perth in which he says: In this connection I hardly need to remind Your Excellency that His Majesty's Government regard a settlement of the Spanish question as a prerequisite of the entry into force of the Agreement between our two Governments. How do the Government condone Italian intervention in Spain in this new Agreement by making it clear that the Agreement can never come into force until there has been a settlement of the Spanish question? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition interrupted my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to ask him what he meant by "a settlement of the Spanish question." My right hon. Friend very wisely, as I think the House will agree if they consider the matter carefully, declined to give or even to attempt a definition. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, "It is placing the House of Commons in a ridiculous position to say that this Agreement is to come into force when there is a settlement in Spain, and then to decline to say what is meant by a settlement in Spain." But that is not the position at all. To find out when this Agreement comes into operation one must look at two passages. The first passage is in the Protocol which says: The said instruments shall take effect on such date as the two Governments shall together determine. The statement which I have already quoted makes it clear that our Government will never determine that that moment has arrived, until there has been a settlement in Spain. That leaves it to our Government to say when, in their judgment, a settlement in Spain has taken place. It is not the case that something can occur which the Italians can call a settlement in Spain and that they can then call upon this country to ratify the Agreement. The Agreement only comes into force in the circumstances set out in the Protocol. So much for the question of Spain. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition would have preferred the operative part of the Agreement itself to provide for getting all foreigners out of Spain but the right hon. Gentleman is, I feel sure, wrong in two respects. He is wrong, first, when he suggests that this Agreement is made in breach of the Prime Minister's undertaking given in one or other of his speeches on the occasion of the resignation of the late Foreign Secretary. I think if the right hon. Gentleman examines the declaration in those speeches of the Prime Minister he will find that what my right hon. Friend contemplated was that no Agreement with Italy would come into force, which did not provide for the solution of the Spanish question.

Duchess of Atholl

Did not the Prime Minister use the phrase, "During the course of the negotiations "? He specifically said that this condition applied to the course of the negotiations.

Mr. Strauss

He said that during the course of the negotiations the position must not be materially altered, and I think that it is to that passage that the Noble Lady is referring. But that has nothing to do with the point which I was making. I agree that that undertaking was given by the Prime Minister and, as far as I know, it has been kept. There was one other point in regard to the Spanish problem with which the Leader of the Liberal Opposition dealt. He said: Suppose that the war was over in Spain and that Italy had carried out all the undertakings set out in the Note from Count Ciano to Lord Perth of the 16th April, and suppose that the Government of Spain said that they needed financial help. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that in those circumstances, if the future Government of Spain required some help from Italy—Italy might establish posts in Spain and take various advantages which they specifically disclaim in their undertaking. I can only say—he has very competent legal advice much nearer him on his own benches—that in my opinion it is ridiculous to suggest that if Italy acted in such a way, it would not be in breach of this Agreement.

Mr. Foot

My right hon. Friend never suggested that it would not be in breach of the Agreement.

Mr. Strauss

I think he did. The last thing that I wish to do is to misrepresent him, but we can find out to-morrow from the OFFICIAL REPORT whether I am not right. He was alleging the weakness of the wording of the Agreement, and saying that Italy was not even being bound, and if that was his meaning, I think he was quite wrong, but if the hon. Member for Dundee has his authority for disclaiming any such intention, I am most willing to accept that disclaimer. Now let me take the other matter that has been referred to from the Opposition benches, namely, the proposal in regard to Ethiopia. Italy has at present gotde facto recognition in Ethiopia, but she has not gotde jure recognition. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs spoke quite rightly of the extreme importance of some of the earlier steps taken by the League under our leadership, and I do not think anybody will minimise the importance of the decision to remove sanctions or to grantde facto recognition to Italy. I am not going to say that the addition ofde jure recognition is of no importance, but it is very possible enormously to exaggerate that importance. Those who study these questions, and not least, I think, the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker), whom I see opposite, will attach very considerable importance to any opinion on international law, and especially on international law in connection with the League, expressed by Sir John Fischer Williams.

Mr. Noel-Baker

indicated dissent.

Mr. Strauss

Perhaps I am wrong, but among lawyers at any rate he enjoys a very great respect. In his letter to the "Times" the other day, he pointed out that under recent decisions of the Court of Appeal, with which I will not trouble the House, it is very doubtful what matter of substance is added byde jure recognition. I am not saying that it is of no importance, but we know that if you have ade facto Government in any area, then any purported action by ade jure Government, if it is not also thatde facto Government, in that area, is a mere nullity. In those circumstances it is very possible enormously to exaggerate the importance of followingde facto recognition byde jure recognition.

Mr. Foot

I have followed the hon. Member's argument very carefully. He said, when he was putting his proposition, that we had accordedde facto recognition to the Italian Government in Ethiopia, but is it not a fact that all that we have done has been to recognise the Italian Government as being thede facto Government of those parts of Ethiopia which may happen at the time to be under effective control? If that be right, it means that if at present they have not got effective control over a considerable part of Ethiopia, we do not even cede themde facto recognition.

Mr. Strauss

I believe that what the hon. Member says is substantially correct, and I assume that effective control exists. In those circumstances I think the grant ofde jure recognition is a very much smaller addition than is supposed in many speeches from the Opposition Benches. I agree heartily that whatever else is done, the League of Nations ought to consider this question, and ought to consider it as soon as possible, because at present you have a great variety of treatment of this question by different foreign Powers, and it is extraordinarily desirable that the sense of the League should be taken on the question. If hon. Members will examine the question, I do not think they will find that, however much we may disapprove of the way in which a Government became ade facto Government of a territory, when it once has become ade facto Government of a territory, there has seldom been a very long delay between the grant ofde facto and the grant ofde jure recognition. I think there is a good deal to be said for the view suggested by Sir John Fischer Williams that it might be a good thing in the present state of international law to abolishde jure recognition altogether.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney suggested that to givede jure recognition to Italy at any stage was in itself a breach of Article 10 of the Covenant of the League. I do not know whether he was advised by any of the very competent lawyers who no doubt are available to advise him, but I do not think that that position would be generally adopted. It was certainly not taken up by Viscount Cecil, who in another place expressed as regards sanctions at any rate, the very clear view indeed that their object was to restrain, and that when such restraint had failed, then, under Article 16, the case for continuing sanctions went, and the literal application of Article 16 ceased to be obligatory. While I do not want to express a considered view on so difficult a question I should have thought it very unlikely that the Council of the League would consider that the terms of Article 10 were such thatde jure recognition could never be granted in any circumstances where territory had been acquired in breach of the Covenant of the League.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I think the hon. Member has overlooked the Resolution of the Assembly of the League adopted on 11th March, 1932, in which it was declared that it was the duty of members of the League not to recognise changes of status, of the independence of members of the League, brought about by means contrary to the Covenant and the Kellogg Pact.

Mr. Strauss

I have not overlooked that important Resolution, and I do not want at this stage to enter into the very difficult discussion as to what its legal effects are.

Mr. Noel-Baker

It was declaratory of the Covenant.

Mr. Strauss

A good deal is declaratory of the Covenant but is not necessarily part of the Covenant. However, I do not think there is anything really between the hon. Member for Derby and me in thinking that, this being the sort of dispute and different actions having been taken by different countries, it is eminently desirable that this question should come without delay before the League, and that is all that has at the moment been decided upon. I have no doubt whatever that what we shall support at Geneva is the demand that we shall be free to do what we think proper, and I believe, having regard to the divergent practice of different members, the Council of the League will be well advised to release Members from the existing obligation, but whether I am right or wrong in thinking they may do so, I still think there is no ground whatever for objecting to the matter going forthwith before the League.

There is not in this Agreement with Italy any provision as to what is to happen after it has been decided that each country shall be free to grant de jure recognition or not as it likes, but I submit with great earnestness that it is not true that we shall be condoning the Italian aggression in Abyssinia if and when we give themde jure recognition. I also say that there is no foundation for the view that we are condoning any action taken by the Italians in Spain. The Spanish question is unaffected by this Agreement, except to this extent, that we get certain undertakings from Italy, which have already been referred to in this Debate, and the Agreement will never come into force until those undertakings have been implemented. For the rest, this Agreement with Italy must be judged, I think, by whether or not it contributes to the peace of Europe. I believe in the view held almost unanimously outside the two Oppositions in this House, that this Agreement, whether or not it ensures European peace, at any rate makes the preservation of European peace more likely; and on those grounds I hope it will have the enthusiastic support of this House, as I believe it will have of the country.

7.42 p.m.

Mr. Bellenger

I have listened with a great deal of interest, and no doubt education also, to the illuminating legal exposition of what might or might not happen if this Treaty comes into force under certain circumstances, but I think that, in spite of the argument which has been adduced by the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss), with which I do not disagree, because I am not a legal expert, I am inclined to believe that Italy may think that the term which has always been applied to this country abroad, "perfidious Albion," is well deserved after the hon. Member's speech, because, as I understood it, he was endeavouring to tell the House that this Agreement under a great many circumstances might not come into force. I could have understood it if he had whole-heartedly supported the Prime Minister and advocated the Treaty to us on one ground alone, which he did mention in his concluding remarks, and I think that is the test that we ought to apply in our criticism of this Treaty—Will it conduce to the peace of Europe? Whatever the hon. Member may say, that is what the common people of this country and of other countries are asking. When to-morrow the common people read in their newspapers the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Opposition and the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), I think they will be under no misapprehension that this Treaty will not bring about what the Prime Minister has told us that it sets out to do.

I am not one of those who have criticised the Government for entering into negotiations with Italy. I believe that sooner or later, whatever forms of government there may be in countries abroad, we have got to get round the conference table with them, but I would like to apply conditions before we enter into conference with them, the conditions which were set out so ably by the ex-Foreign Minister, the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). This Treaty has been conceived in circumstances which the ex-Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had no hesitation in describing in this House as blackmail, and I put it to the hon. Gentleman opposite what attitude do the courts and responsible solicitors take on blackmail actions. Do they ever advise their clients to give in to blackmailing actions? I think that generally the attitude taken by solicitors in these circumstances is to advise their clients to resist. If these were the circumstances precedent to the negotiations which were entered into between the Government and the Italian Government, I suggest that they are not a very good augury for lasting peace or for Italy observing the Treaty to which she has put her hand. I note that the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Foreign Secretary and the ex-Under-Secretary were not here to-day to listen to the speech of the Prime Minister. Perhaps there are adequate reasons that prevent them from attending the House to-day, but I shall observe closely whether in the Division to-night they support the Prime Minister in the arguments that he has put before us.

In applying the two tests which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnavon Boroughs proposed to the Government—will this Agreement be conducive of peace, and will it stand the test of war?—the answers must be fairly obvious. In the first place, we have some previous history to go on. It is well known to many hon. Members that even in Germany, one of the partners to the Berlin-Rome axis, it is felt that Italy is not to be trusted. We know what happened in 1914. Italy at that time was a member of the Triple Alliance, and she failed to observe her obligations to one of her partners.

Mr. Amery

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Italian obligations under the Triple Alliance were not binding in any war that affected us?

Mr. Bellenger

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for reminding me of that. I ask myself, then, what is the purpose of alliances? If an alliance existed between Italy, Germany and Austria, what was its purpose? There may not have been any legal undertaking, but there was certainly a moral undertaking, and to this day Germany persists in saying that Italy was a traitor in not observing whatever obligations she undertook in 1914. We know that Italy came into the War on the side of the Allies. She was offered substantial rewards, which, incidentally, she did not get in the Peace Treaties. If you are going to bargain with a nation on these terms, you must offer substantial rewards to it. It is quite possible that the Prime Minister or the Government have offered substantial inducements to Italy to sign this Treaty. What is the inducement to Britain to sign it? If I could really believe that the signing of the Treaty would result in lasting peace, or even in a substantial period of peace, in Europe so far as Italy is concerned, I would be willing to consider the Agreement in a different light from that in which I am considering it to-night. I cannot believe that, however, and I am fortified in this opinion by what responsible Members of the Government have said in the House.

I do not believe, and I do not think that many hon. Members opposite believe, that it is possible for Italy to observe the terms of this Agreement in view of the Berlin-Rome axis. It is not very auspicious for the discussion of the Treaty in this House that to-day the leader of Germany has gone to Italy accompanied by considerable retinues of military and political advisers. The test of the Agreement will be the results of the conversations which take place between Italy and Germany to-day. It suits Italy at the present time to sign this Agreement, because she has everything to gain by it, but we are losing considerably so far as the strategic position is concerned by appending our signature to it.

The Prime Minister has told us that it is necessary to face the facts. I am a realist and so are most of my hon. Friends on this side. We agree that it is necessary to face the facts, but what are the facts? I do not think they can be isolated in an agreement between Italy and this country. Italy and Germany have told us emphatically that nothing that we can do will break the Berlin-Rome axis. No doubt it is very pleasing for the Prime Minister to attempt to break it, but that axis is firm, and as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has told us, it has stood great tests. What does Italy expect to get? She has told us—an imperial empire and Ethiopia is the first step in that empire. These are the facts, and I suggest that negotiations should not have been conducted on a bilateral basis. It seems that negotiations are no longer to be conducted on the basis of collective security within the League of Nations—collective security, if you like, with Germany and Italy. We are now to conduct our foreign policy in a series of bilateral negotiations. Why do hon. Members opposite continue their lip service to the League of Nations? It may result in certain electoral advantages, but it is not sincere.

Mr. H. Strauss

Does the hon. Member suggest that there is anything contrary to the Covenant of the League in bilateral agreements between two Powers?

Mr. Bellenger

Not bilateral agreements of this character. Our whole foreign policy is being changed, in spite of what the Prime Minister has told us in the past. We are going to conduct it on a different basis. It will be interesting to see what sort of negotiations the Prime Minister is about to conduct with Germany, because there is one thing this Treaty should do. If the Prime Minister is right in saying that it has settled our differences with Italy, that it has given us some sort of agreement in the Mediterranean, that it will lead to a settlement of all the quarrels that we have had with Italy, it will narrow down the field of our potential enemies. For what, therefore, are we building up our huge system of armaments? Who is to be the potential enemy if Italy has now been eliminated? Hon. Members may not like to say in the House, but we know, and the Government know, that the danger comes from Germany. It is no good misleading ourselves, and hon. Members might as well be sincere and admit it, because if we can define the potential enemy, we shall have some chance to make some arrangements with him in future.

We have to come to terms with Germany. I have always spoken in favour of that. The Treaty which we are now discussing, which is limited to Italy, has no doubt been the subject of conversations between Italy and Germany, the two partners of the Berlin-Rome axis, and what does Germany say about it? She is non-committal; she is waiting for negotiations which are to follow. So are we. The Prime Minister, in a speech which he made on Saturday at the Royal Academy banquet, expressed the Government's appreciation of the fine arts. We can all applaud that, but it seems to me that this Treaty is an example of the art of covering up real thoughts in a mass of verbiage. The Prime Minister's policy is, as he said on Saturday his critics described it, surrealist. It is not genuine diplomacy. He has committed this country to the old form of diplomacy which we experienced before the War. We know the result of that, and we can remember it vividly as it was from 1914 to 1918.

We thought that after the last War its place would be taken by the Covenant of the League of Nations. We did not thoroughly understand it, and the masses of the people did not understand all the Articles which are bandied about from one side to another in the House; but the common people, the people who took part in the War, did think that here was some chance of avoiding future war. The instrument of that Covenant, the League of Nations, has no doubt been ineffective. I am not one to attach myself for ever to some slogan, but the Covenant of the League of Nations means something more than a slogan. I believe that only on the basis of the Covenant and any negotiations conducted on that basis shall we find lasting peace. Such instruments as we are discussing to-night will not lead to peace. They may for a time avoid war, but their result will be inevitable. It is contained in the answer to the question that has been posed to-night by various speakers—will the Agreement avoid war? I do not believe it will, and, therefore, I refrain from supporting it.

7.56 p.m.

Duchess of Atholl

It is with great regret that I find myself unable to support this pact, because I recognise as fully as anybody in the House the great reasons —historical, cultural and strategical—why it would be a great advantage to us to be on better terms with Italy. But I do not believe that a lasting agreement with any country can be secured by letting down another and I feel that this pact does propose to let down another country, which has already been severely handicapped in a life-and-death struggle for its national independence and liberty by imperfections in a scheme of control under the nonintervention policy for which we have been one of the sponsors. It seems to me that the question whether the proposals about Spain in this pact, which are in a way the pivot of the whole Agreement, can be carried out satisfactorily depends on the answer to two questions—whether the conditions which the Prime Minister laid down and which were to be observed by Italy during the course of the negotiations have been actually observed, and whether the pact itself is consistent with those conditions and the non-intervention policy to which we are committed.

The Prime Minister, on 21st February, laid down two conditions that should be observed during the negotiations. The first was that no Italian reinforcements were to arrive which would materially alter the position in Spain. I think his words might be interpreted to mean that no reinforcements were to arrive during the course of the negotiations, but I let that pass. His second condition was that Italy was to implement the arrangement proposed under the British formula for the withdrawal of troops. On 24th March he amplified that by saying he counted on Italy to lend whatever help she could to bring into operation the withdrawal of troops from Spain. I will first refer in some detail to the question whether considerable reinforcements from Italy arrived in Spain during the negotiations. The Prime Minister, in a letter to me which was published in the Press last Friday, said, in reference to these reinforcements: I imagine that this statement is chiefly based on information which you have from time to time sent both to me and to the Foreign Office, reporting the alleged arrival of Italian troops and war material in Spain. I can only say that on every occasion when these reports contained sufficient detail to enable them to be verified by His Majesty's Government they have been found either to be entirely incorrect or so improbable as to afford a virtual certainty that they were incorrect. I have been examining the OFFICIAL REPORT this morning, and I cannot find that I put any question about Italian reinforcements arriving in Spain on more than one occasion. I put several questions about Germany, but I cannot find that I asked more than one question about Italian reinforcements. It was a long question, in two parts. The first part asked whether a number of Italian ships, which I stated, had not arrived in Spain between 21st February, the date when the negotiations were announced, and 14th March, the date at which a certain list which had been published ended. The second part of the question asked whether after the date at which this list ended, that is to say towards the end of March, certain Spanish ships which I mentioned had not arrived, under Italian escort, with very considerable reinforcements, comprising between 4,000 and 5,000 Italian infantry, 500 Blackshirts, 15 chaser aeroplanes, and so on. The answer which I got to that question was that from inquiries made there was no foundation in fact for these suggestions. But on making further personal inquiries I found that the answer which had been given to me referred only to the second part of my question—only, that is to say, to the part which dealt with certain ships, specified by name, arriving towards the end of March. It did not deal, I was given to understand, with the first part of the question in which I stated the considerable number of ships which had been arriving between 21st February and 14th March. Therefore, I claim that only one part of one question has been stated to be unfounded.

I am sorry that the Prime Minister and the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs are not here, because I have something additional to say which, I think, they ought to hear. The Prime Minister will remember that on Thursday, 14th April, two days before the signing of the pact, I sent him further information about Italian and German reinforcements arriving in Spain throughout January, February, March and in the earlier days of April. It consisted of ten closely-typed quarto sheets, giving day after day throughout that long period of more than three months an enormous list of reinforcements, both Italian and German, arriving in Spain. I may summarise them as follows. The list shows that within two or three days of the assurance given by the Prime Minister on 21st February some 3,000 Italian troops had landed in the south of Spain. There was also an increase in the quantity of Italian war material arriving, very large quantities being landed on the 22nd and the 24th. I think it is probable that the orders for these shipments had been given before the Prime Minister's speech, though I am not sure that they were given before the Italians knew we were entering into negotiations. It seems to me that if Signor Mussolini were really going to observe the conditions laid down, he should have recalled these troops and this raw material which were landed in Spain a few days after the date of the Prime Minister's speech.

Then the list showed at the end of March the arrival of ships, such as those specified in my question to which I have already referred, with Italian soldiers and Italian war material, only with the names of two ships slightly altered, which I think was a circumstance that obviously called for inquiry. The list showed also the arrival of some thousands more Italians in March, some at least of whom appear to have arrived in mufti. And the disembarkations of war materials were no less frequent, and continued on various days in March and April. The consignments included a large number of aeroplanes arriving on different dates, also tanks, light artillery, heavy bombs, an enormous number, and machine guns. Other very important Italian contributions to the insurgent forces during March were special motor-boats of high speed, each carrying two tubes for powerful torpedoes.

I feel that the House is really entitled to ask of the Prime Minister whether he saw that list before the signature of the Pact. I may say that that list reached me just before midnight on Wednesday, 13th April. I had it copied out immediately the following morning and took it myself to 10, Downing Street at about 5 p.m. on Thursday the 14th. It may have been that the Prime Minister had left London by that time, but there was ample time for his secretaries to forward him this letter, which was marked "Personal. Urgent." on the outside, and for him to receive it on the following morning, the 15th, and it seems to me that the slight change in the names of the ships which I have mentioned was something which showed at once there was need for further inquiry as to the question I had put before. Obviously the list, of which I have given only a brief, bald summary, called for inquiry before the Pact was signed, and I feel that I must ask this further question—Whether the Prime Minister caused the necessary inquiries to be made before the signature of the Pact, and, if so, whether before his signature on the evening of the 16th, he had received assurances that every one of these arrivals of Italian men and materials in Spain specified in those closely typed quarto pages was incorrect?

If that is not so, I do not see how he cannot maintain that the conditions which he himself laid down on 21st February and 24th March were observed by the Italians. I would add that it has been said to me that in shipping circles it is a recognised mode of evasion, if ships wish to escape detection, to take the name of another ship, so that they may be able to show an alibi; and it has been suggested to me that possibly that is why sometimes, when other hon. Members besides myself have put a question as to whether such and such a ship has not arrived with reinforcements in such and such a Spanish port and that the answer has been, "No, there has possibly been confusion between the ship that was said to be bringing reinforcements and some other ship which was engaged on some quite innocuous duty elsewhere."

The next condition attaching to the pact was that during the negotiation the Italian Government was to work, with others, for a withdrawal of troops, and the Prime Minister has quite rightly emphasised here on more than one occasion that there could be no question of a withdrawal of Italian troops only. The withdrawal had to come from both sides. If so, the withdrawals should not have been discussed between ourselves and the Italian Government, but discussed only on the Non-Intervention Committee, where both sides were represented. The summoning of the Non-Intervention Committee is in the hands of the British Government, because the Chairman of that committee is the British representative and the staff are in our Foreign Office. Do we find that His Majesty's Government immediately convened the Non-Intervention Committee and kept them sitting there until the Commissions of Investigation could be sent out to ascertain the numbers to prepare for withdrawal? Not at all! They allowed over five or six weeks to elapse before summoning the Non-Intervention Committee. In the face of that can we really say that His Majesty's Government did everything possible to secure the withdrawal of Italian troops during the negotiations, which they had said must be a condition of those negotiations and of any pact which was arrived at? It has been evident for months past that the process of investigating the number of foreigners on both sides in Spain must be difficult; it was bound to take several weeks and perhaps two or three months, and, therefore, it was an urgent matter that the Non-Intervention Committee should be summoned at once and investigation commissions sent out as soon as possible if there was to be any hope of getting a single Italian out of Spain before the negotiations were ended.

Now I come to the treaty itself. The letter of Count Ciano says that the Italian Government would be prepared to withdraw their troops at the moment and under the conditions laid down by the Non-Intervention Committee. We ask, What are the conditions that are being laid down by the Non-Intervention Committee? and we find that at the one meeting of that committee which was held between the initiation of the negotiations and the signing of the pact the British representative proposed certain very important alterations in the formula which, we were informed by the Prime Minister, Signor Mussolini had accepted before he undertook to enter into negotiations. The most important of those two Amendments was that the land frontiers of Spain, the frontier on one side between Government Spain and France and on the other side between insurgent Spain and Portugal, were to be closed from the moment that the commissions of investigation began their work in Spain. Formerly the idea was that those frontiers were not to be closed until the actual withdrawal of troops began, and I understand that was what was in the formula as accepted by Italy on 21st February, but this change means that the land frontiers on both sides will be closed weeks, if not months, before any withdrawal of troops has taken place.

We ask why that change has been made when Italy had accepted the formula as it originally stood. What has happened since 21st February to make the Spanish Government less dependent upon that land frontier with France, a dwindling land frontier as the insurgent forces make their way south down the Pyrenees? We find that nothing has occurred to minimise the value of that frontier to the Spanish Government. On the contrary the weeks since 21st February have seen a greater intensification of the insurgent offensive, an offensive which by mid-March had forced the Republicans to yield considerable ground, and we have known that in the course of the fighting since 21st February the terrible lack of arms, even of small arms, which were such a feature on the Government side at the beginning of the war is still tragically continuing. I do not think I shall ever forget reading some weeks ago the account in the "Daily Telegraph" of the 5,000 or 6,000 Spanish Republican soldiers who made their way across the Pyrenees to Luchon in France. The "Daily Telegraph" correspondent could see that they were armed only with pistols or shot guns, tragically ill-armed after a full two years of war. They were men who had been in the front line, not men who had been doing garrison duly or employed in the rear. They were front line men armed only with shot guns and pistols.

The other day I saw in, I think, the "News Chronicle" an account of a number of young recruits just enrolled, going forward as reinforcements for the defence along the Mediterranean coast, marching along without any rifles but waiting to take the rifles off the men who had already been killed there. In "Europe Nouvelle" a French General, who had inspected the air force of the army of the Republicans in Spain in December, wrote about 19th March that the Italians and Germans had an air force then of about 700 planes which they could put in the air, at a time when, he estimated, the number on the Republican side was not more than 250, most of which were very worn out and not capable of a great deal of service. I have heard from somebody lately come from Spain, a non-Spaniard, of 12 Republican planes having to cope with something like 150 Italian and German planes at a time, and of six being brought straightway down. At the date of the article, the general estimated the foreigners on the Government side at 75,000. There is at least startling evidence of the handicap under which the Spanish Government have been placed by this policy of denying them the right to buy arms.

It is now proposed to close the one frontier through which they can hope to redress that terrible handicap, and to do so weeks before one soldier can be withdrawn. We have to remember that the value of the land frontier to the Spanish Republican forces results largely from the fact, which has been admitted officially here in recent weeks, that the Italian Government have transferred to General Franco's forces a number of destroyers. We have reason to believe that they have also transferred the submarines which have been doing so much damage in the Mediterranean, as it is known that General Franco had not a single submarine at the beginning of the war. The Spanish Republican forces may find themselves in an appalling situation if the frontier is closed when the investigating committee begin their work, and not till two months afterwards need any foreign soldier or airman on General Franco's side be withdrawn. There is nothing in the Treaty preventing them from continuing to fight in the front line, as they are doing at the present moment, with the enormous stores that Germany and Italy have built up in Spain during all these weeks since February 21st.

I have just received a circular from the Friends of National Spain objecting to the fact that 840 tons of war materials came through the French frontier in the week between 16th and 22nd March. Well, I put a question in this House about that date asking whether it was not the case that 14 ships had left Hamburg for Spain in two days alone, about the 14th March, each estimated by a reliable informant to be about 7,000 tons, a total of 98,000 tons. The fact could not be denied, but I put the question, and I think the answer I got was that there was no confirmation of the information; but that really does not carry us anywhere. The fact could not be denied that in two days from one port alone 98,000 tons of war material had gone into Spain, yet here is a question of 840 tons going across the French frontier in a week. After all the efforts that the late Foreign Secretary was making for a year to get foreign troops out of Spain on both sides so that the Spaniards might fight it out, it seems to me, in view of the evidence that we have of the very great superiority of the insurgents in the air and in heavy artillery, and indeed in all war equipment, that we shall be guilty of injustice unparalleled in our history if we press the Non-Intervention Committee to make this change in the formula for withdrawal, which Italy has accepted prior to the negotiation.

Under the wording of the treaty it seems that Italy will be able to claim whatever arrangement may by that time have been made by the Non-Intervention Committee, and that nobody will be able to press Italy to do anything other than to take advantage of such arrangement. If, owing to German and Italian troops being able to stay after the French frontier is closed, the Spanish Republican forces are brought down, we are to be quite content if the Italian troops leave Spain after the hostilities are over. I can only say that I think proposals of that kind are utterly inconsistent with what the Prime Minister led us to believe on 21st February and with the non-intervention policy of which the Government have been one of the chief adherents.

I have another point of very great importance, which is that these arrangements with Italy leave entirely out of account a very much bigger factor, namely, the position which Germany has secured in Spain. Germany has a very much bigger stranglehold on Spain to-day than I understand Italy has. She is in control of the telephones, and, I believe, also of the telegraphs. She controls all the marketing from the mines in General Franco's territory and she controls his war industry. German guards have, as we know, been on the frontier between Franco's territory and France for some weeks. Germany controls all the aerodromes in the north of Spain, except one which is, I believe, under Italian control, and I understand that no Spanish officer can go near those aerodromes, so completely are they under foreign supervision. From the north of Spain, French munition factories are within easy bombing distance—munition factories which the French had moved south in order to get them away from their German border and I need hardly remind the House of the guns, believed to be German, which have been trained for months past upon Gibraltar, and of other guns, also believed to be German, which are in a position to fire over the Straits both from the south and from the north. A military expert well known to this House has stated that the harbour of Gibraltar can be made untenable in a few hours by mobile artillery established on a hostile shore. The man who has allowed those guns to be placed in a position in which, for zoo years, we have not allowed any Spanish Government to place guns, can be no friend of this country.

The only way to get Germans and Italians out of Spain is, it seems to me, to allow arms to go through France to a people whose morale is unbroken, in spite of all the handicaps under which they have been suffering. Gallant Spanish airmen who have been fighting for months with half their machines out of date, have yet been able to give a very good account of themselves. There are hundreds of thousands of men still fighting for the Spanish Republic who will fight to the death for national independence and democracy, if only the arms are sent to them. Another point well worth bearing in mind is that there is evidence of great dissensions and differences of aim on the insurgent side, which, once victory is again in doubt will show themselves once more as they had been showing themselves very obviously in January last, before this offensive began. These should prove formidable obstacles in General Franco's path. The straight way of getting foreigners out of Spain is to help the people who are fighting for their own national independence.

I must add a final word. Though, in December, 1935, because of the delay in our rearmament which meant at that time that we were very weak and very short of munitions for our ships, I thought that the Hoare-Laval proposals were the best that could be done in a very difficult position and that they could be said to implement in a measure the proposals of the Committee of Five of the League of Nations, a great deal of water has flowed under the bridges since then. We know now that Signor Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia was not due to the Wal-Wal incident in 1935 but that he had been preparing this invasion of Abyssinia for some years; as we know that he had been pledged for some years to give armed assistance to a rising in Spain, and that it was a pledge which made an armed rising in Spain inevitable for two or three years before it actually occurred. We also know that he has not conquered Abyssinia. The people are bravely resisting the invader, with more success, I understand, than at any previous time. It is tragic that we have not been able to help Abyssinia. We hoped that we were going to be able to do so. and it would be lamentable if, by recognising Italy now as in possession of a country of which she has only a very partial control, we gave discouragement to a very brave people who, under great disadvantages, are striving, like the Spaniards, to preserve their national independence. I cannot help fearing that to recognise Italian supremacy in Abyssinia, after all the efforts that were ma de by the League in 1935 to help Abyssinia, would be a very great discouragement to the League itself and to the principle of collective security. Because I do not believe that the peace of Europe can be preserved unless we have effective collective action, sustained and inspired by the ideals of the League of Nations, I find it impossible to support the Motion which has been moved by the Prime Minister.

8.26 p.m.

Wing-Commander James

I am very glad, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I have had the good fortune to catch your eye immediately after the speech of the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl), because she has asked a number of questions of the Government, and I also would like to ask them a few questions. If all our questions are answered, perhaps we may get a little nearer to the truth than we have been able to get hitherto. Before I come to the points on which I differ from the Noble Lady, I should like to make one general observation upon the Motion itself. In common, I think, with most people in the country, I welcome the Agreement with Italy, and hope that, in thus advancing the appeasement of Europe, the Government may at the same time be rendering possible the conditions necessary for the revival of an effective League of Nations, because that still remains, in spite of the jibes from the other side, the basis of the hopes of the great majority of Members on these benches.

The other afternoon, in the Library, I was reading some of the speeches of Mr. Gladstone, and I ca me across one paragraph which struck me as being extraordinarily reminiscent of some of the phrases that we heard from the Prime Minister to-day. Speaking in this House on 23rd July, 1880, Mr. Gladstone said: There seems to be a disposition to cast doubt upon European concert, to question the possibility of using it for beneficial purposes, and to point out that secondary and selfish motives may interfere with the actions of in dividual Powers and may thus prevent beneficial action. This may be true. Her Majesty's Government have never referred to European concert as an instrument of certain and infallible action. What they have said is that without European concert there is nothing to be obtained, that, without European concert, there is resistance, there is jealousy, there is ill-will, there is disorganisation, there is frustration of results. I think that probably the one Opposition Liberal who is in the House at the present time will find it very difficult to disagree with those sentiments, to which he will find, in the speech of the Prime Minister this afternoon, an interesting parallel. Following the Noble Lady, I wish to refer to that part of the Opposition Amendment which complains that an agreement should not be concluded while Italy is indulging in what they term a war of aggression in Spain. A number of speakers on the other side have raised the whole question of Italian motives. Personally I doubt whether the Italians were at any time quite such idiots as to imagine that they were going to get any territorial advantage whatever from the Spanish conflict, but what is astonishing is the refusal of the Opposition to recognise that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. From the word "Go," the Opposition, both above the Gangway and on the Opposition Liberal benches, have openly advocated the maximum possible support and help for the Republican Government. They have not attempted to conceal their sympathy with the Republican Government. Why, then, should they deny the possibility of other people holding with great force and equal sincerity a different ideology, and being willing to give their sympathy and support to the other side? It is not possible to go about in Europe to-day without realising that in Germany, in Italy, before the Anschluss in Austria, and, in fact, in every country in Europe, there is a real fear of Communism. To us in this country Communism is no more than a rather bad joke—

Duchess of Atholl

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that Signor Mussolini undertook to help an armed rising in Spain in March, 1934, when there was only one Communist Deputy in the Cortes?

Wing-Commander James

I very much doubt that statement.

Duchess of Atholl

The man who went to see Signor Mussolini has stated it publicly himself.

Wing-Commander James

Some of the facts which the Noble Lady has produced over a series of months were very adequately dealt with by the Prime Minister in his letter to her a few days ago. If I want any confirmation of the statement that there was in fact Communist penetration in Spain, and that this Communist penetration raised the fears of particular Powers, I am glad to see opposite me the author of a very courageous and very frank pamphlet from which I will quote a few lines. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) has recently produced a pamphlet which is certainly very cheap at id., and is well worth reading, called "Terror in Spain," in which he says—I quote this, not as a justification, but as a reason for Italian intervention in Spain: There are two international brigades in Spain, one a fighting force drawn from the Socialist' movement of the world, and the other an international Cheka drawn from the Comintern's paid gangsters. That is the statement of a Member of the Independent Labour party who is sitting opposite me now as I speak.

Mr. Vyvyan Adams

Does that free him from the possibility of being wrong?

Wing-Commander James

No, not at all; I am only quoting from his pamphlet. On the same page—

Duchess of Atholl

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman realise that the author of the pamphlet is closely associated with the Trotskyist Communists, who are not at all on good terms with what we may call the orthodox Communists under the Comintern?

Wing-Commander James

I am merely quoting from a pamphlet by an hon. Member who is sitting opposite me. Whatever his particular faction may be as regards Communism is really beside the point. In his pamphlet he quotes from a letter written by a gentleman, Senor Bonita Papon, whom he describes as a famous Spanish lawyer, and who wrote this: The concrete fact is that, resulting largely from the real and effective aid given by Russia to the war, the Communist party to-day rules as it pleases the destinies of Republican Spain. Whether it be true or not, if a Member of the Independent Labour party could write that a few weeks ago, is it not reasonable that Powers which abhor and loathe Communism should have felt some logical grounds for intervention in Spain?

Mr. Silverman

Is the hon. and gallant Member saying that the reason for the Italian intervention in Spain is to prevent Communist control of Spain by Russia, and is that consistent with what the Prime Minister told us this afternoon of Italy's assurance that she has no political ambitions in Spain of any kind?

Wing-Commander James

All I say is that the Opposition who so openly advocate interference on behalf of the Republican Government, should not complain if Powers which hold different views also stand for intervention in Spain. That brings me directly to the speech of the Noble Lady the Member for Perth, because she displays in its most extreme form the extraordinary credulity with which people in this country will swallow Left Wing and Communist propaganda.

Duchess of Atholl

What about General Franco's propaganda?

Wing-Commander James

The Noble Lady quoted a figure of 75,000 as the number of volunteers in Spain. I do not think it is tactless, having regard to the fact that it is common knowledge that political secrets are not very well guarded in France, if I say that at the beginning of January I heard from a Frenchman in an official position the estimate then held, as he assured me, by the French War Ministry of the number of Italians in Spain. The figure he then gave me was 25,000. I naturally asked how they got those figures. I was told—and it seemed to me to make sense—that the transport of troops by sea involved a very large tonnage, and the transport of materials for the maintenance of troops and their munitions also involves a very large tonnage. By simply watching the tonnage leaving the ports, in addition to the fact that that tonnage has to go through the Straits of Gibraltar, it was not very difficult to arrive at the approximate figures. I commend that to the Noble Lady, because she, with a facility which must be the envy of every general staff in Europe, thinks nothing of shifting 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 troops round the world, with no more trouble than there would be in taking a week-end ticket to Brighton. This propaganda for the Spanish Government is interesting and at times amusing. I read recently in the "Spectator," a paper which prides itself on its impartiality, that in addition to the other well-known signs of Fascism which were appearing in Spain there was also anti-Semitism. I got a Jewish Member of this House, who has a great knowledge of Spain, to make inquiries for me. He told me that he had made inquiries of Jewish friends in England and in Spain, and had been able to trace with the exception of a few poor pedlars, the existence of only two Jewish families in Spain whose names were at all well known. Anti-Semitism without Jews becomes rather difficult.

The Noble Lady asked for facts. She has been given some by the Prime Minister. But it would clear the air if it were possible for the Government to inform the House on a number of matters in this controversy which are worrying to many people here. The Opposition should welcome facts if they are honest. What is the Government's estimate of the number of Italians in Spain? To set against that, what is their estimate of the numbers of the International Column? We have, I believe, a military attache in Republican Spain. We have doubtless other sources of information. This information is highly material.

Mr. R. Acland

And the aeroplanes, of course.

Wing-Commander James

Yes, and the aeroplanes. Next, it would be interesting to know how many British people there are in the International Column in Spain. About three weeks ago three Oxford undergraduates went out in their own car and did a motor tour during the Easter Recess in General Franco's territory in Spain. One was a young connection of mine; another was a son of a Member of this House. One told me that he had seen a party of over zoo British prisoners taken by the Italians. Most important of all, could the Government tell us whether it has in fact been the Nationalist Government of Spain, and Italy, or the Republican Government and its backers, who have been delaying the proceedings of the Non-Intervention Committee? My information—it may be inaccurate—is that the reluctance to withdraw foreign volunteers lies for the most part on the side of the Republican Government and its backers, and, if the figures, which I believe to be true, of the relative numbers on each side are correct, I believe that that would be the case. With the added reason that to have coupled recognition of belligerency for the Nationalists with withdrawal was to place a premium against the Republicans agreeing to have those foreigners who were fighting for them withdrawn.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is it not a fact that the Spanish Government have always said that they are ready to accept complete and total withdrawal of the volunteers on both sides whenever it is proposed?

Wing-Commander James

I dare say but I want to know whether the statement has, in fact, been accompanied by action; whether on the Committee there has been more help in the matter from one side than the other; and which side, if either, is causing delays?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is it not a fact that when the British Government proposed 20,000 as the basic figure for their new formula the Government which normally supports the Spanish Government immediately accepted that, whereas General Franco's friends said it was much too high, plainly indicating that there must be a much greater number on the other side than on the Government's side.

Wing-Commander James

I am obliged to the hon. Member for reinforcing my argument. I hope that the Minister who is taking note of this matter will point out to the Government that from all sides of the House there is a demand for information on this particular point. The Noble Lady the Member for Perth made great play about the shortage of arms on the Republican side, and here again, I would remind the House that supporters of the Republican Government speak with two voices. When they want to argue that we in this country are holding back the supply of arms from what they term the legitimate Government of Spain, they say that they are desperately short, but when they want to assert that the Republicans are going to win, they state that they are well equipped with arms.

Duchess of Atholl

Has anybody ever declared on behalf of the Spanish Government that they have plenty of arms?

Wing-Commander James

If she would not interrupt me I was just going to give the Noble Lady the information for which she has asked. I again refer to a publication which is certainly hostile to the nationalists. The "New Statesman" of 23rd April in what it calls its cable from Barcelona—

Mr. R. J. Taylor

The 1st of April.

Wing-Commander James

I will come on to that. I read: There are brighter features in a dark picture, (1), the Government army is better equipped, aeroplanes excepted, than it ever has been, (2), aeroplanes have been coming in from abroad in recent weeks. Later on it says: Hopes of further importations are high. I merely wish to point out that there is this point of view. The hon. Member opposite referred to the issue of 1st April, but in the issue of 30th April, on page 721, it observes: Much new war material can be seen at the front and on the roads. I am not complaining; I am recording. There is one other feature upon which would be very helpful if the Government could see their way to give information. I wonder whether the Government share the view of a large section of the French public that a victory for the Nationalists would be a danger to France? There are many of us who believe that once again France, dominated by fear of Germany that makes her unreasoning, is running the risk of alienating another neighbour. I recognise that France is suffering from a Left Wing Front Populaire Government, but none the less I cannot help thinking that the French are being unwise. I believe that unreasoning fear is making them repeat the error that they made in respect of the Stressman Republic. Sentiment is a very good thing but to be sentimental on wrong premises is very dangerous and can be very cruel. We ought, above all, to try and avoid prolonging the agony in this ghastly war. The bitterness in the Spanish War is, I believe, almost entirely against the leaders of the respective sides and not among the actual fighting troops. I have seen evidence of that several times. One afternoon recently I was in a village about two miles behind the lines. It was the last village on the road to Saragossa to the Cinca. My car was held up because of shelling about two miles along the road. I was stopped outside a block of buildings when there came along a party of 45 Republican prisoners who had been taken during the last few hours. I got out of my car and looked at them and had conversation with one or two of them. I was there for an hour and I watched the fresh Nationalist troops passing up the road. There were staff headquarters in the village and the troops were being halted until the officers received their orders, and so forth. I watched the reactions of Nationalist troops to the body of prisoners, and I was reminded of what happened in France at any time that British troops met German prisoners. There were offers of cigarettes, laughing and no apparent bitterness at all. That was a very creditable feature of the last War. The very great bitterness is not against the troops but against the leaders. Let us not forget that recent history is littered with examples of peoples who roused the sentimental sympathy of British public opinion and whose agony was prolonged in consequence. There were the Armenians, there were the Assyrians, there were the Abyssinians. At all costs we must avoid a policy which prolongs the agony. We want to see the war ended as quickly and as humanely as possible and to be in a position, thanks to the impartiality which the Government have pursued, to bring aid in the reconstruction of the new Spain —an unfettered independent Spain, master of her own destinies. We want to see Spain become a peaceful and prosperous member of the nations of Europe, and it is because this Agreement is, I believe, a step in the direction of a peaceful Europe and a peaceful Spain that I welcome it.

Mr. Benn

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. This Debate is of first-class importance, and for the last hour and a half there has been no representative of the Government here. We have had short relays of subordinate officials, and I want to ask whether, in view of that fact and the importance of some of the speeches which have been delivered, of which, apparently, no record is kept for the Government's information, you will accept a Motion for the Adjournment?

Wing-Commander James

Further to that point of Order. May I point out that during the third speech this afternoon there were at one moment only three Members on the Opposition Labour Benches, and when I started, as now, there was only one Opposition Liberal present.

Mr. Benn

Perhaps it is hardly necessary for me to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as it is totally irrelevant, but the point I am making is that this Debate is of first-class importance and some representative of the Government, if not of the Foreign Office, ought to be present.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Dennis Herbert)

I hardly think at the moment that it is a case for accepting a Motion for the Adjournment. The right hon. Gentleman has made his protest.

8.54 p.m.

Mr. McGovern

I have listened with interest to a considerable portion of the speeches which have been delivered this afternoon and evening, and in listening to the Prime Minister I would say that, for the first time at that Box, watching him closely, I observed that he was excited. He appeared in a large measure shamefaced and was more shifty than before in making his speech. I think that he had a job to do which he knew was dishonest and wrong, and he was attempting to make the best case possible in the circumstances of the deal he had made. I had not intended dealing with the subject with which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has been dealing, but as he introduced my name in the discussion, I want to reply to him.

It is true that I have written a pamphlet on my experiences in Barcelona during last November and that I also wrote a pamphlet on my experiences in November and December, 1936. Those two pamphlets taken together make a case, but if one is taken by itself and extracts are taken from it they are destined to prevent the case from being put in its proper form. With regard to what I reported in my first pamphlet, on my first investigation in Spain, there is not a single sentence, word or comma that I withdraw as to the origin of the civil war. The original civil war, as stated by me then, was that for the first time in the history of Spain there was to all intents and purposes a progressive Government returned by the people. In that country, right throughout the period of the Inquisition and since, the ruling classes, the Monarchical, the Conservative and the Clerical parties, have been antagonistic to any form of progress or learning in the country, and when a government of Spain came into office mandated by the electors to bring about certain reforms in Spain, to the advantage of the common people, the whole of those elements combined to overthrow parliamentary government and to plunge people back into the gutter from which they had attempted to rise.

Before the war took place, as has been stated by the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl), for whom I have a great respect although I differ from her on many fundamental issues, General Franco made an appeal for funds. That is vouched for in an interview by an aunt of King Alfonso. She said that a year before the civil war broke out General Franco went again and again to ask for money and assistance to overthrow the Republican Government that then existed. He said that within a week or two there could be the seizure of Madrid and the main part of Spain and they could place the country under military rule and restore the old Monarchy. She stated in that interview, since substantiated by myself, that they gave almost£750,000 worth of jewels to Franco, together with other assistance. When the war appeared to be going against Franco, she said that God alone knew what would happen.

In my second pamphlet my complaint was not that Russia was giving aid to Spain. Russia gave aid only after the Moors, the foreign legionaries, the Germans and the Italians, had already gone to Spain. Therefore, the intervention of Russia was the reply of a working-class Government to intervention by Fascist Powers, who had been the originators of the civil war. What I complain about in that pamphlet and in speeches that I have made in the country is not that Russia has given aid but that she has exercised a form of political control over the people of Spain which she was not entitled to do.

Wing-Commander James

The hon. Member said in his pamphlet: There are two international brigades in Spain, one a fighting force drawn from the Socialist movements of the world and the other an international cheka drawn from the Comintern's paid gangsters

Mr. McGovern

Let me explain. I interviewed people in the prisons in Barcelona. There were 600 anti-Fascist fighters in one prison. Many of them had fought in the civil war and been wounded, and they were held as prisoners and put there by what I regard as an international cheka drawn from Russia.

Mr. Gallacher


Mr. McGovern

The hon. Member has had an opportunity of proving that it is nonsense but he and his party have refused to do so.

Mr. Fleming

Have you challenged the hon. Member to do it?

Mr. McGovern

Yes. I do regard and have always regarded intervention either in Spanish affairs or in British working-class affairs as an impertinence on the part of the Russian Government. The Spanish people should be allowed to develop their own forms of working-class institutional life, and in this country the working-class organisations should be allowed to develop theirs without let or hindrance from any foreign Power. I have always stood up for the working-class in forming their own organisations and their own institutional life and have always been against the aggressors, Italy and Germany, which countries are being led by two of the greatest lying gangsters the world has ever known.

We are discussing an Agreement made between the Prime Minister and Signor Mussolini. The Prime Minister and his supporters are astounded that there is opposition to the Agreement. It is suggested that the Opposition are against any form of peaceful investigation or agreement. It is hardly fair to make a statement of that kind. If the Opposition had said to the Government: "We are with you, and if war comes you can depend upon our support and we will vote you the arms in order to conduct the war if it comes," if, having done that, they deserted the Government when the war came and began to condemn it in the country, the Government would be justified in saying that that was double-crossing of the worst kind. The Prime Minister ought to have said to Mussolini: "We are prepared to enter into an agreement with you if you are prepared to honour the obligations that you have already made." One of those obligations was the complete withdrawal of all the Italian forces and arms from Spain.

There has been a deal made in connection with this Agreement. The Prime Minister when he is tackled on a certain question about the sending of men into Spain always says, "I did not say that." He is always giving the appearance that he is gloating over the fact that he has not tied himself down but has evaded the question, just as the Under-Secretary evades questions which are put to him in relation to intervention in Spain. The Government have made this deal, but I am more interested in the agreements made behind the scenes and which are not in the document. The agreements that are made by ordinary capitalist Governments, the secret agreements, are more important than those which appear on paper. It is quite evident that the deal has been this, "We will help you by recognising your rule in Abyssinia, we will also make agreements not to harass you, and we will agree to the document coming into force when the Spanish conflict has ended," meaning that the Government are prepared to postpone the operation of the Agreement until Mussolini gets a decent chance of winning in Spain. That has always been the policy pursued by the cunning ruling class of this country; they are always prepared to bargain with the territory of some other country rather than sacrifice anything which belongs to themselves.

I do not agree with the policy of the League of Nations. I have never agreed with it. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) said that the ordinary working people of this country believed after the War that the League was an instrument for preventing war. It is true that a large proportion of the people of this country believed that, but the leaders of the working classes should never have believed it. Nobody who has an Socialist knowledge or grounding should have been taken in by a simple device like that; that the capitalists of the world who are responsible for bringing about war are the same people who will prevent war. This Government guaranteed the independence of Abyssinia by collective security, they guaranteed Austria, and Czechoslovakia, and certain other territories. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said that we have no right to make threats unless we intend to carry them (iti1. I go further and say that we have no right to make agreements unless we intend to see them through to the bitter end. The Fascist Powers have called the bluff of this and other Governments. They have gone ahead in Abyssinia, they have gone ahead in Austria, and they may go ahead in Czechoslovakia. I am under no delusion that this Government will step in and defend Czechoslovakia, if it is attacked. They will find some reason, some excuse, for taking no action.

If I thought that agreements on paper were agreements which could be maintained I should be inclined to agree with what the Prime Minister has arranged with Mussolini, but Capitalism is not a static system of society and cannot make agreements to prevent war any more than it can make agreements to prevent rain, because war is the natural expression of the rivalries of competing groups of Powers throughout the world. Moreover, the appetite of the Fascist wolves is being whetted by bits here and there, which helps to bolster up the internal regime in their countries. It gives prestige and power to these people who are able to strut along in military show and say, "We have the world frightened and cowering before us; eve will call again and again the bluff of these older Powers, these older Imperialistic dynasties, and we shall be successful." Do not pride yourselves on the fact that because you have allowed them to get away with Abyssinia and Austria you have satisfied the desires of the Fascist wolves for all time. They are gathering in strength, and with Austria, Abyssinia and probably Czechoslovakia conquered by the threat of war they will become a more and more powerful group.

I am not worried, as the Noble Lady is, whether the threat in Spain is a threat to the British Empire or not. I would not go out of my way to defend the British Empire, because to me the British Empire is simply another form of a dictatorship Power over colonial people, exploiting and robbing them in order to satisfy the capitalist wolves in the City of London, Park Lane and elsewhere. The struggle which is going on between Imperialistic Powers throughout the world is a struggle in which the groups are ranging themselves along well-defined lines. There is Japan. I am satisfied that the British ruling classes are satisfied at seeing Japan bleeding to death, or at least bleeding to such an extent that she will be anaemic, from a military point of view, for some time to come. They are not interested in the human aspect; they are interested in the conflict only in so far as it is going to secure their powers of Empire. Germany and Italy are struggling to build empires, and they have combined their military, naval and air strength to threaten and in the end to defeat the older Imperialistic Powers so that they can transfer the colonial possessions of the British and French to the Italian, German and Japanese group.

The struggles that are going on in the world are struggles for Imperial power by the ruling classes, to exploit the territory and the slave labour in the colonial parts. If the Spanish people should be defeated and Franco should win and the threat of a Fascist Spain is added, Germany, Italy and Japan will become a more dominating group, and in the end I can imagine the Government being driven to war to defend its Empire. It will then call on the workers of this country to go out and shed their blood, probably in parts of Spain which they have agreed to hand over to Italy in order to appease the Fascist wolf. I say that in this gathering storm war is certain, whether it is this year or next year. I know there are some hon. Members who say that the longer you can prevent war there will be a growing consciousness of the peoples against war, a growing antagonism of the peoples against war, but if the Fascist wolves go on long enough exercising their dictatorial powers it means that the people will have no proper expression against war.

The Prime Minister spoke about the natural desires of the people of Italy, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) talked about being in Italy, and of how the people there had never been antagonistic towards this country. Nor are the German people, the French people, the Austrian people or the Czechoslovak people. In no part of the world do the people want war. It is the rival groups of exploiters and financiers who force forward the policy that leads to war. We are told that the British Empire is a great democratic Empire. Newfoundland is not a democratic part of the Empire. Parliamentary government there was abolished some years ago because the financiers of Park Lane were not getting their interest regularly. A financial dictatorship was set up there. The woman in India who goes to the mill three weeks after the birth of her child, and places the child in a cradle at the end of the room, and feeds the child, and looks after the loom for 13 hours a day for 9d., is under British Fascism. It is no good talking to such people about the democratic Powers in the world, because the same dictatorial, ruthless form of exploitation goes on there as in other countries.

With regard to this Agreement with Mussolini, I merely wish the Prime Minister well in it. If he believes that the word of Mussolini means anything, he is about the only responsible man I know in this country who does believe it. Coming up in the train the other day, just after the Budget was introduced, a very well-known Conservative from Glasgow said to me, "Well, we have made peace with Italy, and it has cost us 6d. on the Income Tax. Probably, we shall make peace with Germany before next year, and we shall have another shilling added."

The moves for peace that are being made throughout the world to-day are so successful that we must go ahead with full-blooded rearmament, arming to the teeth, so that we get into the state that in the twentieth century we are concerned with gas masks, gas bombs, incendiary bombs, buckets of water, pails of sand, shovels, haversacks, fire-escapes fire-engines, bomb shelters. Capitalism has led us to that. If it had been Socialism which had led to that, every pulpit in the country would be ringing with sermons on the horrors and terrors of Socialism. Capitalism in decay has led the nation to the state that no mothers or fathers can feel that their sons will grow up to manhood, have a family and live in peace. The Montague Normans, the capitalist exploiters, the property-holding section have led us to that. Because Mexico takes over its oil wells, another war is threatened against Mexico; another war for Christianity; and no doubt we shall be told that those who take the field against the Mexican people are gallant little Christian gentlemen who are fighting for Christianity. Such humbug and hypocrisy is going on in this country. If the people knew the proper position and the danger of war, if they knew that if war came not a single being would be guaranteed any safety, they would chase the Government and the ruling class from one end of the country to the other.

The Government, through the Press and their spokesmen on the Front Bench opposite, attempt to make the people believe that there is some security and salvation. One section says that salvation is in the League of Nations and another section says that salvation is to be found in making peace with Italy and Germany. I say that capitalism cannot give security or peace, but can give nothing but horror, death, tyranny and terror throughout the world. I must confess that the one antagonism I have is towards dying. I am always angry when I think that I shall have to die, because I think I ought to live for ever; and although I am 5o years of age now, and recognise that I have only about 40 years to live—that is, if I remain a Member of the House and do not go back to honest toil, for then I should not last so long—I shall watch with interest the Government going from one position to another. If they are really convinced that they have made a pact for peace with Italy, and that they are going to make another pact for peace with Germany, and that there will be friendship all round, they will say to the people of the country, "Let us finish with these arrangements for air-raid precautions and large armament schemes." But they are attempting to delude the people of the country into the belief that they have scored some victory at Rome. Next they will make an agreement with Germany, and then they will go to the country and say, "Here is the little man from Birmingham who has pacified the world; he has got diplomatic victories." But behind them all is the Abyssinian conflict and the Spanish conflict. The Government have sold these people rather than sacrifice an inch of territory of their own. The day is bound to come when there will be a general "show-down" for power in this country.

Some people think that this Agreement is a cunning move to detach Italy from Germany, but Mussolini, no matter what he is, is not stupid. He realises that his strength is his alliance with Germany and with Japan. These three countries are trying to become great imperial Powers and they realise that they must all keep together, because divided they are bound to go down. We have been told time and again that the plan of the Prime Minister is a very astute one, that he is going to appease Italy and isolate Germany, that at the proper moment France and Britain will put Germany very successfully in a corner, and that then we shall have peace throughout the world. That is the old story. It was the story in 1914. Under the soil there are the bones of a million British lads who believed that they were making a contribution to world peace, but what they failed to realise, because they were imbued with certain fine and lofty motives, was that the seat of war is the private exploitation of man by man, the private exploitation of the coloured peoples of the world, and the rivalry of one group against the other.

Therefore, I say that the League of Nations, collective security, the attempt to make agreements with Italy and Germany, are so much window-dressing, that they have no reality, that they are all a sham and a hypocrisy in a world that is gradually going down into the abyss of despair. The workers of the world require to realise that it is their strength against the strength of the Fascist, capitalist Powers, that if they try to drive the workers into war it is up to the workers to refuse to go into that war, and to refuse to kill one another at the behest of an exploiting system of society. The workers in every country must learn to understand that their enemy is neither Italy, Germany, France, America, nor any other country, but that their enemy is the enemy at home, the men who exploit the workers by means tests, low wages, long hours, insanitary dwellings, slums and disease. Those who live on the poverty of the people are the natural enemies of the working class.

I wish hon. Members would turn their eyes less to Rome and to Berlin, and that they would get to work at once to get rid of those who are living by plundering the poor of this country. Let the working-class movement issue a stirring call to the workers throughout this land and appeal to them to rally in the crusade to overthrow the National Government and the crouching beast who, behind the National Government, spurs them on to do their dirty work. Only when the working class of Germany, Italy, Britain, Spain and other countries realise their power will they see that, not by fighting and murdering one another, but by concentrating their energy and putting the ruling class down into a position of subjection, and raising the working class aloft, and running up in every capital of the world the Red Flag of International Socialism, can the workers be saved from war. poverty and disease.

9.26 p.m.

Captain Cazalet

I am sure the whole House will hope that the hon. Member will exceed by a great many years the span set by the Psalmist, and I am perfectly certain that when he has reached that venerable age he will still he making the same speeches, with the same honesty and the same vigour. The last three speakers have dealt largely with the question of Spain. I have never been one to believe that the conflict in Spain would be soon over. Nor have I been one who thought that everything good was on one side or the other, and I have always known and acknowledged that there was intervention on both sides. The Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Athol') has told us a good many details of intervention on General Franco's side, and I am certain that the Government will receive an equal number of figures and facts of intervention on the other side.

Mr. Gallacher

The Noble Lady is not here now, but she was dealing with the statement made by the Prime Minister at the time when the negotiation of the Agreement with Italy was begun that it was understood that no more armaments would be sent to Spain by Italy while the discussions were going on. Did Italy keep that understanding or not?

Captain Cazalet

That does not alter the fact that there is plenty of evidence showing that all the time there has been a great deal of intervention on the Government side from various outside countries. If there is one thing I am convinced of, it is that after the war is over the Italian forces and the Italian arms and munitions will leave the country and the Spaniards will be the first to wish the Italians good-bye.

I want to come back to the discussion of this Agreement. I welcome the Agreement, even though at the time of the Abyssinian dispute I felt just as strongly as any hon. Member above the Gangway in regard to the events of those days. I thought a stronger line should have been taken, and I still believe that we could have stopped the aggression, both before warlike operations began and soon after war broke out. But that sad story is past. We are told sometimes that we could not have stopped it, even if we had wanted to, but the fact remains that we did not stop it and history will continue for years to debate the pros and cons of this issue and the action that should have been taken.

Of course it is always disagreeable both to admit a mistake and a failure and to get out of it. I quite admit that recognition of the conquest of Abyssinia is a very unpleasant fact to face, but the responsible Government of the day have to face it; and I quite admit this is one of those occasions when the Opposition can most legitimately indulge in condemnation of the Government and sing paeons of self-righteousness. But what is the alternative? I happened to be in Rome for a few days at the beginning of this year, and I was able to experience for myself the atmosphere that prevailed among all sections of the community in that country. The relations between Italy and England were drifting from bad to worse; suspicion and hatred were being engendered on all sides, and there was no end to that condition of affairs in the long run except war. Putting it on the lowest ground, was it really of advantage to this country to have 44,000,000 people in Italy believing that we were their real enemies, to have a formidable force of submarines likely to be turned against us any day in the Mediterranean, and an adequate army and an efficient air force liable to attack us in Egypt and elsewhere? Inevitably if this condition of affairs had continued Europe would have been divided into two camps and the outcome would inevitably have been war.

I quite appreciate that hon. Members in all parts of the House have at times disliked and disapproved of certain speeches and actions on the part of the Italian Government and articles which have appeared in the Italian Press, but personally I have never felt there was any real deep-seated enmity between the Italian people and ourselves. But there is no doubt that gradually the people of Italy were being poisoned by propaganda. [An HON. MEMBER: "Whose? "] Their own propaganda, I admit; I am not denying that for a moment. But the minds of people, who were not antagonistic to this country, were being poisoned by propaganda into believing that we were their real enemies, and that sooner or later a reckoning with this country would have to come. I think it is very remarkable that all the reports that have come from Rome since these negotiations began have shown a real sense of pleasure and rejoicing among every section of the community that once more they can regard England, as they have done for generations, as their traditional friend, and not their enemy. We have heard a great many arguments against the Agreement this afternoon. No doubt a great many of its details are important, but none of them is really of importance compared with the fact that we have got an Agreement and that relations between England and Italy in future are going to be on an entirely different basis from that of the past three or four years. Personally I think that at the beginning the Prime Minister took what appeared to he an unpopular line, although I do not believe its unpopularity was nearly as great in the country as some hon. Members believe. But to argue that because he has made an agreement with a Fascist State, therefore he is a Fascist, is as ridiculous as to say that because we have some communications or some agreements with Bolshevik Russia, therefore those who are responsible for them must themselves he Bolsheviks. I believe the Prime Minister is determined to carry this thing through, and up to date he has made a brilliant success of it.

We have been told the advantages and disadvantages. We have been told, for instance, that the prestige of this country has fallen on account of it. How is that borne out? Certainly not in the speeches of foreign statesmen nor in the Press in any part of the world. On the other hand, people throughout the world are convinced to-day that there is a cessation of that tension which existed in the Mediterranean and that in place of Italy's suspicion and hatred there is to-day an atmosphere of good will and peace. Once you begin to turn the wheels of peace and show that you are determined to pursue peace there is no problem which cannot be solved, but once you turn the wheels in the other direction, once you start hatred and suspicion through propaganda, the inevitable result is war. We have been told that if we had not made this Agreement at this time, the condition of Italy is such that in a few weeks or a few months, she would have begged for an agreement. But are dictators in the habit of grovelling? We have yet to experience such a phenomenon. Someone had to take the initiative, and I congratulate the Government on having done so.

Mr. Gallacher

And on having done the grovelling.

Captain Cazalet

Not at all. As the Prime Minister said, it is not grovelling on the part of a great country to extend the right hand of friendship to another country with which it has a quarrel, and to say, "Let us discuss our differences and our mutual grievances."

Mr. Silverman

If we had a quarrel with Italy in which the hon. and gallant Member believed that we were right; if Italy had done something which was wrong and was still in possession of the proceeds of her crime, and if we then made an agreement with her which left her in undisturbed possession—would not that be grovelling?

Captain Cazalet

The hon. Member can argue in that way and he can make a debating point, but does he think that we could turn Italy out of Abyssinia except by war?

Mr. Silverman

Yes, but it is not necessary to recognise the Italian conquest of Abyssinia?

Captain Cazalet

And does the hon. Member really believe that the relationship between Italy and Great Britain which has existed in recent times could continue without disastrous consequences, not only to ourselves but to Europe and the peace of the world? However that is a point on which I fear the hon. Member and I cannot agree. We have been told several times that Abyssinia is not yet conquered. The Italian reply to that statement, for what it is worth, is that what is going on there now is what has been going on for 50 years on the North-West Frontier of India. Then, with what other Government can we negotiate on the day-to-day problems which arise, affecting our tribes on the borders of the Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, if not with the Italian Government? Are the rights and privileges of those peoples to be sacrificed, because we refuse to negotiate with the only Government in that part of the world with whom we can effectively negotiate?

I hope that our Government will in the near future consider the position of the Emperor of Abyssinia. I hope that some such settlement as that proposed by Lord Lugard may be found possible. It might be possible to set up a small kingdom within the boundaries of Abyssinia or to set aside an area, perhaps under the control of Italy, and if that should be found impossible, then I hope that our Government, in agreement with Italy and with the members of the League and other Governments, will see that a pension is given to this unfortunate man. We are in a special position in regard to him. It was our advice which controlled his actions some time before the war started, and it was in this country that he sought a refuge and was welcomed. I trust that that point will not be neglected.

If there were any doubt whatever of the success of these negotiations, the German occupation of Austria settled the result. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) told us to-day that Signor Mussolini was ignorant of Herr Hitler's intention in Austria and I believe that, after that event, impotent rage for the time being supplanted the feeling of friendship which was supposed to exist between the two dictators. We see to-day the preparations, or I should say the precautions, which appear to be considered necessary in connection with Herr Hitler's visit to Rome. These appear to belie some of the statements about the popularity of the Rome-Berlin axis. One cannot help speculating on whether, if this Agreement had come a few months earlier, it would have been possible to have saved Austria and prevented the Anschluss. But the map of Europe has been changed.

Not only is the position of Czechoslovakia completely different from what it was before the absorption of Austria by Germany. Not only is it a question to-day whether Germany will become a Power in the Mediterranean and in the Balkan Peninsula. There are other questions arising, such as the position of the 400,000 Jews in Vienna. They will be faced in a few weeks time with starvation and perhaps extinction unless some outside Power comes to their help. I have every reason to know that the authorities in Vienna are determined to get rid of the Jews. We heard the Prime Minister say that there had been an oral understanding in regard to Palestine. I am not suggesting this as a solution of the problem of the Jews of Vienna, but if there is to be a cessation of the intrigues and the propaganda which have caused riots and trouble in Palestine, it might be possible for some of these unfortunate people to find a refuge in that country. But if any of these problems are to be solved—whether the problem of Central Europe, the problem of Spain or the problem of Palestine —some understanding with Italy is essential. Peace in the Mediterranean is vital. I have never contended that this understanding with Italy solves all our problems or that it can lead to perpetual peace in Europe, but I do believe that it is a step towards appeasement in Europe and towards the solution of some of those great questions which I have indicated, and for that reason I support it whole-heartedly.

9.44 P.m.

Miss Rathbone

I wish to direct the attention of the House to one or two items in this Agreement about which we have heard little so far in this Debate. I refer to those relating to Abyssinia, and I wish, in the first place, to say something about Annex 8 concerning religious activities. It is rather curious that no speaker has so far even alluded to this minor but still important and significant provision. It is a strange irony that the Minister who is in charge of the Foreign Office at the present time should be a Noble Lord who is known to be a devoted member of his own church, and that he should have to take responsibility for the acceptance of this part of the Agreement, which, in effect, means the continued exclusion of all British missionaries from Ethiopia. It does not even say that their request will be examined in a favourable spirit. Apparently any request to be at liberty to preach their religion will not even be examined. That is to be the position of British religious teachers throughout Italian East Africa, while presumably throughout British possessions and spheres of influence in Africa and throughout the British Dominions the Italians are free to establish their own educational activities and religious missions, and to use them as notoriously as they have been doing for years, for the purposes of pervasive political propaganda of a kind that will not in the least be touched by the item in this Agreement which refers to propaganda.

There is a letter in to-day's "Times" by Miss Margery Perham which says that there are hundreds of Italian priests and nuns in the British parts of East Africa bordering on Abyssinia, who are not merely tolerated by the British authorities, but actually subsidised by them, and we ought to know from the Under-Secretary of State when he replies whether it is intended to give no sort of reciprocity in this business, whether the British are to be prohibited from preaching their form of Christianity while the Italians are to retain the full liberty that they always retain throughout the world in the British Empire to preach what they like and to combine with their preaching any sort of subtle political propaganda that they like. Of course, it is obvious why the Italians do not want British or foreign missionaries of any kind in Ethiopia. It is in order that they may not have witnesses to the ruthless cruelties which they practise on the natives, and their wish, I am afraid, chimes in with that of His Majesty's Government, whose policy in Abyssinia and in Spain throughout has been not to have observers on the spot who will oblige them to take note of and to report to their public things that they would rather not have them know. I do not see any other justification for this utterly one-sided agreement. Since this has been known, the commentary that I have heard everywhere is, "If that it what it means to have Christians at the Foreign Office, give us atheists."

I should like to call attention to a report of the Rome correspondent of the "Daily Telegraph" on 18th April, which I think is worth listening to. It is as follows: The agreement between the Vatican and the Italian Government by virtue of which the Holy See sends only Italian missionaries and clergy to Abyssinia, must stand. Their part in pacification and union with Italy is too important to be ignored. It is unlikely, therefore, that British and other foreign missionaries of any denomination will be as active in the future as they were under Abyssinian rule. It is considered, however, that this is not asking too much in return for the recognition of British rights and interests in Lake Tsana, Arabia, Aden, and the Red Sea. We are to balance the forms of Christianity which we believe to be true against British interests in Lake Tsana. Can we be in doubt which way the balance would go? There are other Clauses in the Agreement which have not received attention to-day. There is an equally one-sided arrangement recorded in Annex 6, No. 7, when dealing with Arabia and the Yemen. The British Government have pledged themselves unreservedly not to enrol or cause to be enrolled any of the inhabitants of these spheres except for the purpose of local defence, but when it comes to page 22 and the Italian stipulation with regard to the natives of Italian East Africa, all that it says is that they are not to be compelled to undertake any military duties other than local policing and territorial defence. That word "compelled" is deliberately chosen to allow room for the kind of volunteering that has gone on in Spain. Where is there any reciprocity? The British are honestly agreeing not to enrol natives for any purposes but local police work, but the Italians merely say that they are not going to "compel" the natives. We know how the Italians get over that word about compulsion, and one cannot help wondering whether Lord Perth and Count Ciano, when they came to that Clause in the Agreement, managed to keep their faces straight. Do diplomatists ever descend to anything so vulgar as a wink?

In the Note dealing with the Italian rights of economic expansion in Aden, there is no suggestion that there are to be reciprocal facilities for trade for the British in Abyssinia or anywhere in Italian East Africa. I should like the Government to produce a White Paper giving a sort of balance-sheet for the religious, cultural, and trading facilities respectively given by Italy and offered to Italy by ourselves. Other speakers have made the point that this series of Agreement means nothing in fact but a series of promises which can be broken as easily as Italy has broken every other promise that she has ever made. They chiefly consist, as in the case of Lake Tsana and the Italian troops in Spain, of promises to repeat promises already given.

But I do not think other speakers have said very much on a far more serious aspect of the question, and that is that of all these items, Notes and Annexes, not one of them contains a single safeguard for the interests of the people of Abyssinia or of Spain, both fellow-members of the League of Nations, whom we were pledged to protect from foreign aggression. The wording of the Agreement represents, quite frankly, without any humbug about it, a policy of completely unashamed national egotism, with not a thought, with not even the pretence of a thought, for the misery which the Government's policy has brought upon these unhappy peoples.

Let me put three direct questions and beg for answers. First of all, if this Agreement is confirmed and if the Italian conquest of Abyssinia is recognised, what will be the position of any refugees or deserters from the Italian forces who escape over the frontier into British territory? Will they be interned as they have been hitherto, or will they be sent back to be gaoled certainly, most probably killed, and possibly tortured? Perhaps that is one of the advantages which Signor Mussolini hopes to reap from this Agreement. We know that there has been a very great deal of desertion over the borders lately, especially from the Italian forces, many of them recruited in Eritrea and Abyssinia. If those desertions go on, what will happen to the unfortunate refugees? Secondly, will the Under-Secretary of State give us the source of the information which he gave us on the Monday before the Easter Adjournment, that the Italian military control over Abyssinia is practically complete? It is strange that that information conflicts absolutely with all the sources of information that otherwise reach this country. I will not enlarge upon it. I think the right hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate for the Opposition did say something about it, but it is a fact that there is a flood of information from various sources, mostly in Conservative newspapers, that Italy has never been so far from really controlling Abyssinia as she is at the present time. If the Government have information of an opposite kind, the House is entitled to know it.

Lastly, what about the position of the Emperor himself? What about the position of that unfortunate exile in our midst? Whatever view we take of the sanctionist policy, none of us can deny that the British Government have been responsible for ruining him. It was they who all through the months preceding and during the Abyssinian war prevented him getting arms and compelled him to rely upon the League, then started the bold attempt at sanctions too late, too imperfectly, and then abandoned it. Since then they have done absolutely nothing to safeguard his interests or those of his unhappy people. The final item of meanness in all this hateful transaction is the fact that the Government have not even had the generosity to offer the Emperor such financial means as might save him from penury. The Abyssinian Association, of which I am a member, has had to issue a public appeal for financial assistance for the Emperor. They withheld the appeal for a few months in the hope that the Government would do something. They could not believe that the Government, in view of what their relationship had been to this man, this great Monarch, would do nothing. I heard a man whom Members know well say the other day that he was the greatest gentleman in history, who over and over again could have put the Government in an awkward position by revealing all he knew, but he would not do so on a point of honour.

Now, not content with trading away his country and its status as an empire as part of a bargain with Italy to secure advantages for ourselves, we have actually allowed this man to be dependent on public charity. That seems to me to be the last touch of infamy. The Government have told us that actual recognition will not take place until the time when the Government think right in their discretion. I appeal to them to introduce into the Agreement before it is finally confirmed some kind of safeguards for the Abyssinians—safeguards from cruel reprisals, the right of having among them as observers the missionaries who may know what is going on as some check upon the cruelties which will otherwise be inflicted. There should be some sort of provision also, perhaps in the form suggested by Lord Lugard for the Monarch whom we still recognise as a Monarchde jure, so that we shall not be permanently reproached for not only deserting him and his people but of actually abandoning him to penury.

9.59 P.m.

Mr. Attlee

We have placed on the Paper an Amendment to the Prime Minister's Motion in which we set out our reasons for disagreeing with these proposals. The Prime Minister in his speech —I am sorry he is not present—made his usual sneer at the Opposition. That is becoming habitual with him now. He said that it was not worth while taking any notice of the terms in which this Amendment was put down. He followed it up by indulging in ostentatious conversation all the time that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) was talking.

Hon. Members

Where is the Prime Minister?

Mr. Benn

Nobody has been here all the evening, except the Under-Secretary.

Mr. Dalton

It is grossly discourteous to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Attlee

We are getting rather accustomed to that kind of thing now. If the Prime Minister had been here I was going to point out to him that that kind of treatment of the Opposition is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness. Mere bad manners does not mean strength. There was a very obvious reason why the Prime Minister did not deal with this Amendment. It was because he could not controvert its terms. It opens by stating clearly something which is the subject of constant misrepresentation by Ministers of the Crown and Government supporters. It states: whilst prepared to take every legitimate measure for developing and strengthening friendly relations with all peoples. We are always being misrepresented as refusing to have anything to do with countries of whose internal government we do not approve. That is entirely untrue. The Prime Minister did not want to face that because it controverts his usual misrepresentations. We then state that we cannot approve an agreement made with a State actively engaged in wanton aggression in Spain. The Prime Minister made no attempt to deny that. Signor Mussolini is engaged in open aggression in Spain. The right hon. Gentleman has now come in. I was pointing out before he did so that he declined to deal with the terms of our Amendment. I am suggesting that it was because he could not do so. If he can controvert any of these points I shall be glad to hear him do it. Signor Mussolini is engaged in wanton aggression in Spain, and he admits it. He glories in it. What did he say on 30th March? It was ridiculous for her enemies "— the enemies of Italy— to pretend that her efforts in Abyssinia, in Spain and in the posting of a garrison in Libya had left her weakened. The experience gained in these campaigns, quite apart from their moral value, rendered her armies more formidable. Signor Mussolini never pretends that he is not engaged in aggression in Abyssinia. He puts Spain and Abyssinia on exactly the same level. There is no question of volunteers. It is a question of training his armies. Our first point, therefore, is that the Prime Minister has gone out of his way to make an agreement with a State which is engaged in active, wanton aggression. It is not a question whether it is Fascist or not Fascist. It is open aggression. The Prime Minister is the head of a Government that was returned on a plea of supporting the Covenant of the League of Nations. Even as lately as last week he has done lip-service to the League of Nations. It is not until to-day that he has come out with his real views.

Then we go on to say that the Prime Minister has sacrificed Abyssinia. He can hardly deny that. There was a time when we were told in the House that the question of Abyssinia was a matter of three parties—the League of Nations, Italy and Abyssinia. Abyssinia has now dropped out altogether. The hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) was right in pointing out that in all this White Paper, with its protocols, its agreements and its letters, there is not a word of protection for the Abyssinians, for the dupes of the right hon. Gentleman. It is a mere agreement about British interests—Imperial interests. Even the Prime Minister admits that the only moral justification for it would be if it brought about a general settlement. Caiaphas said that it was expedient that one person should die for the people. The Prime Minister is ready to sacrifice the Abyssinians in order to get an agreement. He cannot deny that this Agreement recognises successful aggression in Abyssinia and aggression in Spain. He might object to the description of Signor Mussolini's promises as illusory. The right hon. Member for South Hackney went through them in considerable detail. Six of them were a mere knitting together of previously broken promises. I do not know whether broken promises knitted together are stronger than original ones. But they are only promises; they can be broken again. There is not a single undertaking by Signor Mussolini that cannot be broken as easily as it is being made.

The gravamen of our attack is that this Treaty does not bring peace but a sword; but before dealing with this Agreement as a whole I want to take up one particular point which is not a matter as between parties in this House but is a House of Commons matter. The Prime Minister is treating this House with studied contempt. He brings to this House for approval a treaty; he submits to us a White Paper with the terms embodied in a Protocol, in Annexes and in correspondence. In that correspondence there is a reference to a pledge which he himself gave to this House and which he repeats in a letter. In that letter he or, rather, Lord Perth said: I need hardly remind Your Excellency that His Majesty's Government regard a settlement of the Spanish question as a pre-requisite of the entry into force of this Agreement. " Pre-requisite" is a very important word. The whole of this Agreement is now null and void unless that prerequisite, a settlement of the Spanish question, is attained, and we want to know what the Prime Minister means by a settlement of the Spanish question. Does it mean the withdrawal of Italian troops from Spain; does it mean the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Spain; or does it mean the ending of the civil war in Spain? I ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the meaning, and he quietly refuses to tell this House, yet he comes and proposes a treaty which is to be null and void unless we get a settlement of the Spanish question. I say that the House has a right to know, and that the Prime Minister has no right to refuse to tell us. It is treating the House with a contempt which is absolutely unparalleled.

I do not believe that any of the great Prime Ministers of the past would have treated the House like that. I do not believe that Palmerston, Disraeli or Gladstone would have done that, and they were men with great achievements. What has the present Prime Minister done to set himself on a pinnacle? He has been Prime Minister for scarcely a year, a year of unparalleled humiliations to this country. What has he got to his credit? British sailors and British soldiers can now be killed by aggressive Powers and nothing will happen, except a mild note of protest. You should read the letters that are coming to us from captains of British vessels, who have some knowledge of what is happening, and hear what they think of the Prime Minister. Then the Prime Minister sends his emissary to Berlin to make conversations. We are told of wonderful conversations, and then we have the humiliation that behind the back of the Prime Minister Herr Hitler marches into Austria. This is the Prime Minister who treats this House with contempt.

I do not believe that Members of this House of great experience, like the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) or the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) would treat this House like it. After all, they have something to their credit. They carried through great responsibilities during the War. I do not know anything much of the Prime Minister's responsibilities during the War, except some occupation with card indexes. I cannot see why he should treat the House in this way. I think the Prime Minister is presuming too much. I suggest that he has not quite the position in this House or in the country that Lord Baldwin had, and yet Lord Baldwin would never have treated the House like this. The Prime Minister is widely, and justly, distrusted throughout the country, and he will not get away by the kind of practice he has put in operation to-day. We have had the instance of a quotation from President Roosevelt. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) gave another example. I will give another. The right hon. Gentleman led this House to assume that the Dominions were all agreed, that they had been consulted. We are always hearing of consultations; we are never told about agreements. I should like to know from the Under-Secretary whether all the Dominions do approve of this policy. Perhaps we shall find out when the League of Nations meets.

What we have had to-day is what this House has had to put up with for some time. This is not an isolated instance. Throughout the whole of this Spanish business this House has been treated with contempt. There has been deliberate suppression of the truth. There has been evasion in answers to questions. There is not a Member of this House who does not know that the Government must have had information about infringements. We always get denials by Government representatives, but it always comes out a little later, and very often what has happened is gloried in by the perpetrator. We have had all the shuffling about the Non-Intervention Committee—18 months or more of hypocritical shuffling. We have not had the truth about Abyssinia. The Government have tried to make out that Abyssinia is conquered. It is very awkward for the Government when people who are regarded as defeated insist on holding out for months. It would be so much easier for the Government if the Abyssinians had surrendered, so much handier for them if the Chinese were not resisting the Japanese, and the Spanish Republicans were not still holding out. It is so awkward for the accomplices to a murder when the murdered man will keep on breathing. The real fact is that the Government prefer not to know the truth. I think the reason is now quite obvious.

Having said something about the concealment of the truth, I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister on his candour in having made it abundantly plain where his real sympathies lie. There was all that talk about not taking sides with rival ideologies and not putting Europe into rival camps, but when the realist has spoken he has shown his admiration for Signor Mussolini and his regime. We now have the real policy of the Government, and it is not the Prime Minister's policy, but it is Colonel Blimp's policy. It was set out in the now defunct "Morning Post" in May, 1936. Here it is, in a leading article: We are debarred by so-called collective security from striking with Mussolini a private bargain such as might, at one and the same time, preserve the peace, and protect our vital Imperial interests. We have gained none of the advantages of the new system and lost all the advantages of the old. What we require is to divest our diplomacy of cant metaphysics and the jargon of collective security, and to begin talking to Mussolini in the terms of Realpolitik. Now, we have the realist, the Prime Minister, giving us the great and wonderful story of the greatness of Signor Mussolini and all that he has done for Italy.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Tell us something about the Attlee Battalion. You might give us some information.

Mr. Attlee

The Prime Minister chooses in this connection to use the names of Mazzini and Garibaldi. I think he might spare their memory. If he knows anything about Mazzini and Garibaldi he will know that they would not have approved of the Fascist regime. Does he suppose that Mazzini and Garibaldi would have joined in helping to destroy a friendly republic in Spain? If the Prime Minister knows anything of them he will remember that Garibaldi, in his old age in 1871, turned out again to fight for the French Republic, his fellow-republicans, against Germany, despite all the wrongs done to him by France when they took his birthplace from Italy. If he were alive to-day, Garibaldi would be with the Garibaldi legionaries, the men who made the Black-shirts run at Guadalajara. Garibaldi was well summed up by Mr. George Trevelyan in these words: "To all of us Englishmen he will live as the incarnate symbol of two passions not likely soon to die in the world, love of country and love of freedom, kept pure by the one thing that can tame and not weaken them, the tenderest humanity for all mankind. There is not much tender humanity about the modern dictator. I suggest that the Prime Minister, instead of thinking of those two Italians, should think of another Italian with a much closer affinity to Signor Mussolini that is, to Machiavelli. Machiavelli is the natural teacher of Signor Mussolini, and if you substitute II Duce for Principio, you will find a good deal of relevance in what he writes. He says, in "The Prince ": How honourable and praiseworthy it is in a Prince to act with integrity and good faith rather than to have recourse to artifice and collusion, everyone must be sensible. Nevertheless, experience has shown us that those Princes of our time who have made the least account of their word and honour have done the greatest things and that, by dint of craft and circumvention have, for the most part, got the better of others who proceeded with sincerity and regard to their engagements. A Prince ought to know how to resemble a beast as well as a man. It looks rather true to-day, too. A wise Prince, therefore, ought not to regard his word, when the keeping of it will be to his prejudice and the causes no longer subsist which obliged him to give it. For instance, as soon as he has got recognition of Abyssinia there is no further need for him to keep his word. He goes on to say: However, it is highly necessary to disguise this craft and to be a thorough master both of simulation and dissimulation. For some men are so simple and others so eager to get out of any present difficulty that whoever knows how to act this part will always find dupes for his hypocrisy. Signor Mussolini recognises quite clearly that the Prime Minister must have some kind of agreement after the retirement of the late Foreign Secretary, and he has got his dupes there. Machiavelli goes on: I say then that a Prince, especially a new one, cannot possibly practise all those qualities which make men esteemed and virtuous. He will often be obliged to violate the laws of mercy, charity, and religion. That is the doctrine on which Signor Mussolini acts. The Prime Minister has now thrown over the principles of the League of Nations, and he also is acting on these same lines. We had a good deal of simulation and dissimulation at the last election. I could not help noticing another saying of Machiavelli's a little later: There is a Prince living at this time, whose name, however, it may not be proper to mention, who has nothing in his mouth but peace and good faith, and yet, if he had inclined to one or the other, would long ago have lost his reputation and dominions. I seem to remember someone who simulated good fellowship and truth in order to win an election. The real inwardness of this Agreement is that the Government have now thrown over the whole conception of the League of Nations, and the broad division to-day is between those who use war as an instrument of policy and those who refuse to do it. The Prime Minister went out of his way to make a special friend of the man who is using war as an instrument of policy, and openly boasts of it. Now we have this Agreement. I wondered at the time what the Prime Minister would manage to get to set against the sacrifices of other people that he was making. I do not say he sacrificed us to any great extent, but he had convenient sacrifices ready. He has sacrificed Abyssinia. There is no plea whatever for the Abyssinians. He is ready to sacrifice Spain. There must be some reason why the Prime Minister will not tell us what he means by a settlement in Spain. Does he not really mean that he is waiting for the Republic to go down under its enemies? That is the meaning of putting in a special provision that Signor Mussolini will remove his troops and his weapons of war after the war is over. I do not quite know what weapons he is going to remove. Have they been on loan to General Franco? Is he going to remove all those, or are they only to be the ones brought in by his own people?

I say that this is not a peace; it is a lining up for the next war. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs emphasised the fact that this Agreement has not brought any more peaceful atmosphere into the world. The immediate effects have been that we are to have more armaments, and more muddles and bungles in connection with armaments. This Government cannot work for peace; it cannot even prepare efficiently for war. Immediately following on this great act of pacification we have a closer agreement on armaments with France to meet another war. We have let the League go; we are now making alliances in an armed world. That is what the National Government has brought this country to. I see little hope from an Agreement of this kind. We have heard lately something about the Chamberlain tradition. I do not believe that Mr. Joseph Chamberlain would have signed so feeble a document as this; I do not believe that Sir Austen Chamberlain would have put his hand to so dishonourable a document.

10.24 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)

We have listened to a long Debate on the Italian Agreement. It has become perfectly clear to all who have listened to the Debate that on the opposite side of the House we have perplexity and muddle, and on this side leadership and decision. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite, owing to their paucity of argument, have been obliged to indulge in a personal criticism of the Prime Minister. This really needs no answer, because the leadership of the Prime Minister is clear both to hon. and right hon. Members of this House and to the whole country. In fact, his policy of constructive conciliation has been eminently successful, and I entirely repudiate the suggestion that has been made in the Debate that it was necessary to trump up this Agreement in order to save the Prime Minister's reputation. In reality, if you look at the Prime Minister's record you will see that this Agreement coincides with the settlement of the age-long dispute with Eire— the Irish Free State— that it coincides with successful talks with the French Ministers, so that it can be said that the Entente with France has never been more real; that it coincides with negotiations for another agreement the Government are working for, a trade agreement with America. It is not very surprising that my right hon. Friend has been known throughout the country as "the man of agreement," while the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, judging from the speech to which we have just listened, might well be called "the man of discord."

Some play has been made on the fact that the Prime Minister quoted from the President of the American Republic. When he quoted the President's speech, there was a remark that he was in fact misquoting. I think the best way to answer these insinuations is for me to read the whole message which was given by the President to the Press on this subject. The President of the United States spoke as follows: As this Government has on frequent occasions made it clear that the United States, in advocating the maintenance of international law and order, believes in the promotion of world peace through the friendly solution by peaceful negotiations between nations of controversies that may arise between them, it has also urged the promotion of peace through the finding of the means for economic appeasement. It does not attempt to pass upon the political features of accords such as that recently reached between Great Britain and Italy, but this Government has seen the conclusion of an Agreement with sympathetic interest, because it is proof of the value of peaceful negotiations. When we hear the whole message, we see that my right hon. Friend is entirely justified. This is one indication of the sympathetic interest with which this Agreement has been greeted. As against the sympathetic interest to which reference has already been made, it seems to us regrettable that the whole tenor and burden of speeches on the other side has been devoted to destructive criticism, which is found not only their speeches but in the terms of their Amendment.

I hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) would deal with the moral aspect of this question and of the collective peace system, as he said at the beginning of his speech that he was going to do. I am sorry to see that on his return from America, he came back decked out with all the flowers of pamphleteering slang. We have, instead of the doubtful morality of the prince which was used by the Leader of the Opposition, resort to the slang used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney. He said that instead of Platonic ethics we have the ethics of double-crossing, and in his reference to the signature of the Agreement he says that this was "done at Rome." [Interruption.] I know that the right hon. Gentleman was quoting. Let me quote too. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) has had great experience of treaties and international affairs. He must have realised that these simple words are used in all the great treaties of history—the Holy Alliance, the Congress of Vienna, and the Treaty for which the right hon. Gentleman himself was so responsible. I have a copy of it here. What are the concluding words? Done at Versailles. That was in 1919. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs accuses us or this Agreement of not ensuring permanent peace, can he say that that Treaty, upon which so many hopes were rested, ensured permanent peace?

Mr. Lloyd George

It would if it was carried out.

Mr. Butler

Did the Holy Alliance ensure peace? Did even the Treaty of Locarno, conceived, as it was, in a spirit of the highest idealism, ensure permanent peace? It is surely impossible for any agreement or any treaty, of however high a standard at the moment of signature, to ensure permanent peace. The right hon. Gentleman, in his usual very elevating contribution to the Debate, said that he was sure that Signor Mussolini would sell someone. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) did not even feel that he could accept the assurance given by Count Ciano in the exchange of Notes between the United Kingdom and Italy on the subject of Spain. Throughout the Debate we have seen a tendency to distrust all the assurances given us when they come from the head of a dictator State. It seems to illustrate the difference in the spirit which we have in regard to our conception of foreign policy and in the spirit of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to the foreign policy of this country. They do not seem to envisage it as possible that an agreement can be made with the head of a State with whose internal politics they do not agree. They seem to believe that the best way to get peace and conciliation in our midst and in our time is to disbelieve, distrust and malign the actions and intentions of the heads of foreign States.

I thought that in the course of this Debate there would be some hope for the future of this pact, some wish at any rate that it would succeed, but instead of that we have had to listen to a long and sustained political attack from representatives of both the Opposition political parties who have taken part in this Debate. I am interested to consider some of those independent persons, by no means all of one faith, who agree with the National Government in their views about this pact at the present time. I will read what Mr. J. A. Spender said in his presidential address at the annual meeting of.the Liberal Council held at the Victoria Hotel, on 27th April. He said: The advantages of the proposed Agreement were great and obvious. We have not had any such charitable suggestion from the opposite side tonight. The sole question was whether we were barred from accepting them on moral grounds; on the ground that it was morally wrong to have dealings with a country which had been convicted of aggression by the League of Nations and which now asked us to recognise the results of its wrong-doing. He went on to say: But we must consider where that argument led. It would cut us off from peaceful dealings not only with Italy but also with Japan for her aggression in Manchuria, and Germany for her aggression in Austria, and this left no solution but war or threatened war for any differences we might have with these great Powers. I do not think that our attitude on this question could be more succinctly expressed. The view of Mr. Spender is supported by another, perhaps a potential leader, if he were accepted by the unpopular Front—Lord Samuel, who said: Undoubtedly, pacts should best be accomplished through the League of Nations, but with only three of the seven great Powers members of the League it was impossible to close our eyes to the fact that such a course was impracticable.' He went on to advocate by the means of Pacts between countries, the settlement of peace. When we consider these views of great Liberal leaders—

Sir A. Sinclair

As the hon. Member has mentioned Lord Samuel, I might say that only the day before yesterday, speaking at Darwen, Lord Samuel condemned this particular Agreement.

Mr. Butler

We welcome on this side of the House the expression of opinion by a great historian. We have heard of Mazzini, Garibaldi and other great figures. Let me refer also to what has been said by Professor G. M. Trevelyan in approving this Agreement, that the binding and restoration of the old friendship we had with Italy must be welcomed by all reasonable people at the present time.

To revert to the views of Mr. Spender, I should like to know whether that is the policy of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite at the present time.

I have been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition to deal with their Amendment, which says that they cannot approve an agreement made with a State actively engaged in wanton aggression in Spain, which in exchange for illusory promises sacrifices the people of Abyssinia, violates the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations, and substitutes for the principle of collective security a policy of alliances and armament rivalries which so far from bringing general appeasement will intensify the danger of world war. If we are not to have a pact because it makes for an alliance, what are we to have? If we can have no dealings with Italy, Germany or Japan because they have all been responsible for acts of aggression, I would ask the party opposite whether we can have dealings with those 20 Powers who have taken steps implying recognition of Italian sovereignty over Abyssinia, and refuse to have any dealings with them because, presumably, by their action—which takes different forms in the case of different States—they have sacrificed the people of Abyssinia and violated the spirit of the Covenant of the League of Nations. If the three great Powers to which I have referred are eliminated from a possible collective peace system, and if all these 20 other Powers are eliminated for the same reason, it is going to make it a little difficult to pick an international team. It will be impossible to obtain an international team if all the time we are un willing to recognise their motives as being sincere, honest and honourable. The policy of hon. Members opposite would tend to divide the world more, and, in fact, would make alliances against us more possible and more dangerous.

But the muddle and perplexity of hon. Members opposite does not stop there. Why does the coming of this Agreement in particular constitute a policy of alliances and armaments? I really fail to understand the insinuation. If the Agreement does anything it smoothes difficulties and lessens the potential tension between our two great countries over a vast area, from the western gates of the Mediterranean right through that sea to the Red Sea and to the Indian Ocean, an area where the interests of our two countries are intertwined, and any step which lessens the tension between us in this area I should have thought would have been welcomed in this House. Far from being an alliance this pact is not directed against any other Power whatsoever, and rather than increase it tends to diminish armament rivalries. Besides providing for an additional signatory to the London Naval Treaty it provides for an exchange of military information, to which reference has been made, thereby providing for good relations between the two countries and the avoidance of acts of violence on the frontiers of our possessions in East Africa. Moreover, it provides for the regular withdrawal of the Italian garrison in Libya. I should have thought that, far from increasing armament rivalries it would tend to diminish them. The truth is that the Opposition want the best of both worlds. At the beginning of their Amendment they say: Whilst prepared to take every legitimate measure for developing and strengthening friendly relations with all peoples. They appear to want friendship but they never want the one we suggest. It is the old story, "Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam to-day." Perhaps the main allegation against the Agreement is that it is made with a nation engaged in active intervention in Spain. We have been criticised for not giving a date when the Agreement will come into force. Rather than give a date or sign any Agreement definitively at the present time we have preferred to try to obtain a solution of the Spanish problem by making progress on the Non-Intervention Committee, and this is a proof of our sincerity in this matter. An agreement with Italy and the fact that the French may come to an agreement with Italy —that is a very important fact—may tend, as we believe, to facilitate progress on the Non-Intervention Committee and realise the result we have so much at heart. That is the withdrawal of foreign nationals and the reimposition of a scheme of control. There will be no better way to make progress in the Spanish problem, yet hon. Members opposite criticise us for making this Agreement and thereby resuming the close relationship between the two countries, and, we hope, a third country whose collaboration may lead to the success of the Non-Intervention Committee.

We certainly do not accept the view of the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland whose opinion is that the Government hope and wish for this war to end with a Franco victory. May I say definitely and in all sincerity that the attempt made by the Opposition to prove that we and the Government are wholehearted supporters of one side or the other in the Spanish conflict is totally untrue. The whole public life of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been devoted to a defence of democracy, and an improvement of the social welfare of the people. I believe that is one of the fundamental beliefs of the party to which I belong. In the work that I, at any rate, attempt to do for a solution of the Spanish problem, I feel that I am backing a great international effort with an international force, the International Board, which works for the Non-Intervention Committee.

It is a pioneer effort, and I can assure hon. and right hon. Members opposite that it is an extremely difficult and thankless job. But as pioneer work in the international sphere, I should have thought that we should have got the support of the party opposite, which believes in international as against national effort as a solution of our problems to-day. Instead of that, we get nothing but criticism and gibes, and an attempt to make our idealism ridiculous. At any rate I shall pay no attention to the gibes which they bring against our legitimate effort to make this piece of international machinery work. One or two other points have been raised in this connection. One is that we have legitimised Italian intervention in Spain. I really fail to see how this can be. In answering those many questions to which reference has been made in the Debate, I and other representatives of the Government have never failed to acknowledge that there is, in fact, foreign intervention in Spain. We should indeed have been ingenuous had we attempted to do so. Therefore, I fail to see how there is any novelty on this point in this particular Agreement.

Mr. Gallacher

You are dodging the whole issue.

Mr. Butler

We never expected unilateral withdrawal of the Italian forces, and if hon. Members will read the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on this subject, they will see that we never expected the Italians to effect a unilateral withdrawal. We did expect them to work, as they said they would when the conversations were initiated, for the success of the British plan on the Non-Intervention Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney said that the Italians had sabotaged the Committee, but in fact, the very reverse is true. Ever since these talks were started—and the Italians started by accepting the British formula—they have agreed to pay up their arrears to the Non-Intervention Committee, and their representative has agreed to discuss with the Government the continuation of payments so as to keep the Non-Intervention Committee and the International Board in being, and thus keep men at work on the observation scheme. They have done their share towards the necessary preliminary work which is being done at the present time, before the withdrawal scheme can come into force, and in providing technical experts for that work, with other national members of that body. It is not with the Italians that we have met difficulties, but unfortunately with Russia. It is, in fact, Russia who has not paid up her contribution, and does not appear to want to keep the Non-Intervention Committee at work. We have every hope that she will change her mind and continue to take part in this international effort to which I have referred.

There have been one or two questions on the subject of our approach to Geneva. The exchange of letters to which reference has been made says that the coming into force of the Agreement will take place on a date agreed between the two Governments. The Prime Minister has said that the recognition of the Italian sovereignty over Ethiopia would not be morally justified unless it formed part of a general appeasement. Towards this we shall work on the Non-Intervention Committee and elsewhere. At present we cannot outline the steps which the Council will take at Geneva. We are going to see whether the anomalous situation which at present exists can be clarified. Our step at Geneva which has been announced is not tantamount to recognition. As the Prime Minister said in his opening speech, the ultimate recognition of Italian sovereignty remains a matter entirely within our own discretion.

Mr. Lloyd George

I think it is really rather important to know what line the Government propose to take at Geneva. Do they intend to propose there that the League of Nations should recognise the conquest of Abyssinia, or are they going to leave it to somebody else to propose it; and, if they do, what line will they take? We ought to know what line they will take.

Mr. Butler

The right hon. Gentleman is going a little too far. We have placed the question of the consequences arising out of the situation in Ethiopia on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the Council of the League, but on this it would be improper for me to make any prediction regarding the method or the procedure. So far as His Majesty's Government are able to judge from the information in their possession about the present situation in Ethiopia, there has been in recent months no appreciable change. In the West of the country there still appears to be resistance, as I have informed the House at Question Time, against Italian authority, but it is of a local and unco-ordinated character. On the frontiers of Ethiopia the situation remains normal. In these circumstances the Government have no ground for revising their opinion that the Italian authorities are in military control of virtually the whole of Ethiopia.

I have been asked several points about the Agreement itself. I have been asked, first of all, whether this Agreement on the subject of the Middle East and Arabia results in a lowering of our status and prestige, and an increase and improvement in that of Italy. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison) that there is no justification at all for his assumption in this regard, and that in fact, far from being derogatory to the position of this country in Arabia, the position has been safeguarded and improved at almost every point. I have been asked whether there have been any unwritten undertakings, whether there are any of these mysterious agreements we are supposed to have made behind the scenes. I can give a definite assurance that there have been no undertakings on the subject of a loan, or any other matter to which reference has not been made in public to-day.

Mr. Dalton

Does that cover export credit facilities also?

Mr. Butler

As far as I know, it does cover that. There has been no undertaking on that subject given. I have also been asked, on the subject of Palestine, what is the significance of these oral assurances? The mere fact of these assurances on Palestine having been given is nothing sinister. It is simply a question of common sense. They relate to the existing state of affairs only, and it was considered that it would not be reasonable to expect the Italian Government to commit themselves in advance to a favourable reception of future changes in Palestine, seeing that we are not yet in a position to produce a concrete plan. That is the reason for the oral asurances which may be regarded as being as binding as those set out in the White Paper, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred to those assurances in order that they should be put before the House to-day. I was also asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland what was the effect of the Mediterranean declaration of 2nd January, 1937, on the maintenance of thestatus quo in Palestine. I should explain that, in our view, thestatus quo in regard to Palestine is that Palestine is administered under a Mandate which foresees its own eventual termination. The natural development of that Mandate would not, therefore, be contrary to the maintenance of thestatus quo. I may add that we have informed the Italian Government that we do not regard the Meriterranean declaration as including the termination or variation of the Mandate and that the Italian Government agree, on condition that the termination or variation takes place by constitutional means.

Then I have been asked by the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) a question on the subject of missionaries. It would be recalled that in the spring of 1937 a number of British missionaries were expelled from Ethiopia by the Italian authorities. The late Foreign Secretary took that matter up strongly with the Italians with a view to getting the decision reversed. The Italian Government stated at that date that it was their definite intention not to entrust to any foreigner, of any religious denomination, the task of setting up any kind of school in Ethiopia. The decision, therefore, applied to all foreign missions, irrespective of nationality, but this does not apply to missionaries who wish to carry on humanitarian welfare work and their claims will be considered according to the terms of the affirmation set out in the Agreement.

I think that answers all the detailed points that have been raised on the subject of the Agreement itself. Let me say in conclusion that this Debate has revealed fundamental differences of spirit as to the conduct of our foreign policy. We are seeking to do away with disagreements and to clear the ground so that the plant of peace may have a chance to grow. No one wants war but hate and derogatory remarks such as we have heard to-day will never succeed in banishing war between nations. Hate only leads to war and, if civilisation means anything, surely it leads us towards the goal of sympathy and of restraint. It is in that spirit that this Agreement between two great Powers has been brought to its present stage. We believe that the Prime Minister and my Noble Friend the Foreign Secretary have shown comprehension and courage in this matter, and I am reminded of some words of the younger Pitt when he had to deal with the foreign situation nearly as difficult as that with which we are faced to-day: Difficulties, when they are faced with a noble and manly vigour, are more than half redressed.

Duchess of Atholl


The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Margesson)

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Mr. Speaker

I think the House is ready to come to a decision.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 332;Noes,110.

Division No. 189. AYES. 11.0 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Crowder, J. F. E. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Cruddas, Col. B. Hulbert, N. J.
Albery, Sir Irving Culverwell, C. T. Hume, Sir G. H.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Davidson, Viscountess Hard, Sir P. A.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Davison, Sir W. H. Hutchinson, G. C.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Se'h Univ's) Dawson, Sir P. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W H.
Apsley, Lord De Chair, S. S. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.
Aske, Sir R. W. De la Bere, R. Jarvis, Sir J. J.
Assheton, R. Danville, Alfred Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Jonas, L. (Swansea W.)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Dodd, J. S. Keeling, E. H.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Doland, G. F. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Baldwin-Webb, Col. J. Dower, Major A. V. G. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanot) Dugdale, Captain T. L. Lamb, Sir 4. Q.
Balniel, Lord Duggan, H. J. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Barelay-Harvey, Sir C. M. Duncan, J. A. L. Latham, Sir P.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Dunglass, Lord Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Eastwood, J. F. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Eckersley, P. T. Leach, Sir J. W.
Beechman, N. A. Edge, Sir W. Leigh, Sir J.
Bait, Sir A. L. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Leighton, Major B. E. P
Bennett, Sir E. N. Ellis, Sir G. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Barneys, R. H. Elliston, Capt. G. S. Levy, T.
Birehall, Sir J. D. Elmley, Viscount Lewis, O.
Bird, Sir R. B. Emery, J. F. Liddall, W. S.
Blair, Sir R. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Lindsay, K. M.
Blaker, Sir R. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Bossom, A. C. Entwistle, Sir C. F. Lloyd, G. W.
Beulton, W. W. Errington, E. Leeker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Erskine-Hill, A. G. Loftus, P, C.
Bayee, H. Leslie Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, 9.) Lyons, A. M.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Everard, W. L. MaCorquodale, M. S.
Brass, Sir W. Fildes, Sir H. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Briseoe, Capt. R. G. Fleming, E. L. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Fox, Sir G. W. O. McKie, J. H.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Fremantle, Sir F. E. Macnamara, Major J. R. J.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Fyfe, D. P. M. Macquisten, F. A.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Gledhill, G. Magnay, T.
Browns, A. C. (Balfast, W.) Gluckstein, L. H. Maltland, A.
Bull, B. B. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Makins, Brig.-Con. E.
Burghley, Lord Goldie, N. B. Manningham-Buller, sir M.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Gower, Sir R. V. Marsden, Commander A.
Burton, Col. H. W. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Butcher, H. W. Grant-Ferris, R. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Butler, R. A. Granvllle, E. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Calne, G. R. Hall- Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Mellor, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Gretten, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Mellor, Sir J. S. P (Tamworth)
Cary, R. A. Gridley, Sir A. B. Mills, Major J. O. (New Forest)
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick}
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Grimston, R. V. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chipponham) Gritten, W. G. Howard Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Channon. H. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Moreing, A. C.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, s.) Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mk'rw'll, N.W.) Morgan, R. H.
Chorlton, A. E. L. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry
Christie, J. A. Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Clarke, Frank (Dartford) Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hannah, I. C. Munro, P.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Nall, Sir J.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Harberd, A. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H
Colman, N. C. D. Hartington, Marquess of Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J. Harvey, Sir G. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Haslam, Henry (Horneastle) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.
Cooks, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Palmer, G. E. H.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Holy-Hutchison, M. R. Patrick C M.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A P. Peake, O.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan Peat, C. U.
Cox, H. B. Trever Hepworth, J. Perkins W R D.
Craven-Ellis, W. Herbert, Major J. A. (Manmouth) Peters, Dr. S. J.
Critchley, A. Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Pilkington, R.
Crooke, Sir J. S. Holmes, J. S. Plugge, Capt. L. F.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Pensonby, Col. C. E.
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Hore-Bellsha, Rt. Hon. L. Porrltt, R. W.
Cross, R. H. Horsbrugh, Florence Power, Sir J. C.
Crossley, A. C. Howitt, Dr. A. B. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Procter, Major H. A. Shakespeare, G. H. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Purbrick, R. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Radford, E. A. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Turton, R. H.
Raikes, H. V. A. M. Shepperson, Sir E. W. Wakefield, W. W.
Ramsay, Captain A. H. M. Simmonds, O. E. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Ramsbotham, H. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Rankin, Sir R. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Rawson, Sir Cooper Smith, Bracewell (Dulwlch) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Rayner, Major R. H. Smith, L. W. (Hallam) Warrender, Sir V.
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Smithers, Sir W. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Raid, W. Allan (Derby) Somerset, T. Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Romer, J. R. Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crews) Wayland, Sir W. A.
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Wells, S. R.
Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Whitelay, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Ropner, Colonel L. Spens, W. P. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Storey, S. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Rowlands, G. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchln)
Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Windser-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Russell, Sir Alexander Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wise, A. R.
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen) Tasker, Sir R. I. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Salmon, Sir I. Tale, Mavis C. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Salt, E. W. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wragg, H.
Samuel, M. R. A. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. O.
Sanderson, Sir F. B. Titchfield. Marquess of
Scott, Lord William Touche, G. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Selley, H. R. Tree, A. R. L. F. Captain Margesson and Mr.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Paling, W.
Adams, D. (Consett) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Parker, J.
Adamson, W. M. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hardie, Agnes Price, M. P.
Ammon, C. G. Harris, Sir P. A. Pritt, D. N.
Anderson, F. (Whitehavon) Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hayday, A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Benfield, J. W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Ridley, G.
Batey, J. Hicks, E. G. Riley, B.
Bellenger, F. J. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ritson, J.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Holdsworth, H. Seely, Sir H. M.
Benson, G. Hollins, A. Sexton. T. M.
Bevan, A. Hopkin, D. Shinwell, E.
Broad, F. A. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Sllkin, L.
Buchanan, G. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Silverman, S. S.
Caps, T. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Simpson, F. B.
Chater, D. Kelly, W. T. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A (C'thn's)
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Kirby, B. V. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cocks, F. S. Lathan, G. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Cove, W. G. Lawson, J. J Stephen, C.
Dalton, H. Leach, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lee, F. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leslie, J. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Day, H. Lagan, D. G. Thurtle, E.
Dobble, W. Lunn, W. Tinker, J. J.
Ede, J. C. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Vlant, S. P.
Foot, D. M. McEntee, V. La T. Walkden, A. G.
FranKel, D. McGovern, J. Watkins, F. C.
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Gardner, B. W. Milner, Major J. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n) Morrison, Rt. Han. H. (Hackney, S.) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pombroke) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Nathan, Colonel H. L. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Gibbins, J. Naylor, T. E.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Noel-Baker, P. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Oliver, G. H. Mr. Charleton and Mr. Groves.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Owen, Major G.

Main Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 316; Noes, 108.

Division No. 190. AYES. 11.12 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Apsley, Lord Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Aske, Sir R. W. Balfour, G. (Hampstead)
Albery, Sir Irving Assheton, R. Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)
Allen, Col. J. Sandman (B'knhead) Astor, Viseountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Balniel, Lord
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Barelay-Harvey, Sir C. M.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's) Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Barrie Sir C. C.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Entwistle, Sir C. F. McKie, J. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Errington, E. Macnamara, Major J. R. J.
Beechman, N. A. Erskine-Kill. A. G. Macquisten, F. A.
Bait, Sir A. L. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Magnay, T.
Bennett, Sir E. N. Everard, W. L. Maitland, A.
Bernays, R. H. Fildes, Sir H. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Flaming, E. L. Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Bird, Sir R. B. Fox, Sir G. W. G. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Blair, Sir R. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Blaker, Sir R. Fyfe, D. P. M. Maxwell, Hon. S. A.
Bossom, A. C. Gledhill, G. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Boulton, W. W. Gluckstein, L. H. Mellor, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Boyce, H. Leslie Goldie, N. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Gower, Sir R. V. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Brass, Sir W. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Briseoe, Capt. R. G. Grant-Farris, R. Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Granville, E. L. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Brooklebank, Sir Edmund Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Morsing A. C.
Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham) Gratton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Morgan, R. H.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Gridley, Sir A. B. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Bull, B. B. Grimston, R. V. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Burghley, Lord Gritten, W. G. Howard Munro, P.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake) Nail, Sir J.
Burton, Col. H. W. Guest, Hon. I. (Breton and Radnor) Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Butcher, H. W. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Buller, R. A. Guinness, T. L. E. B. O'Cannor, Sir Terence J.
Caine, G. R. Hall- Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Campbell. Sir E. T. Heaking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.
Cary, R. A. Hannah, I. C. Palmer, G. E. H.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Patrick, C. M.
Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.) Harbord, A. Peake, O.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hartington, Marquess of Peat, C. U.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Harvey, Sir G. Perkins, W. R. D.
Channon H. Haslam, Henry (Horneastle) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Pilkington, H.
Christie, J. A. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Plugge, Capt. L. F.
Clarke, Frank (Dartford) Holy-Hutchinson, M. R. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Heneage, Lieut. Colonel A. P. Porritt, R. W.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Power, Sir J. C.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Hepworth, J. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Colman, N. C. D. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Procter, Major H. A.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon, D. J. Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Purbrick, R.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Higgs, W. F. Radford, E. A.
Cook. Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Cooks, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Holmes, J. S. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J. Ramsbotham, H.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Rankin, Sir R.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Horsbrugh, Florence Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Cox, H. B. Trevor Howitt, Dr. A. B. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Craven-Ellis, W. Hudson. Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Rayner, Major R. H.
Critchley, A. Hulbert, N. J. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Hume, Sir G. H. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Crooke, Sir J. S. Hurd, Sir P. A- Remer, J. R.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hutchinson, G. C. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Robinson J R (Blackpool)
Cross, R. H. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Ropner, Colonel L.
Crossley, A. C. Jarvis, Sir J. J. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Crowder, J. F. E. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Ross Taylor, W- (Woodbridge)
Cruddas, Col. B. Jones, L. (Swansea W.) Rowlands, G.
Davidson, Viscountess Keeling, E. H. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Davison, Sir W. H. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Ruggles-Brise, Colons Sir E. A.
Dawson, Sir P. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Russell, Sir Alexander
De Chair, S. S. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)
De la B¸re, R. Lamb, Sir J, Q. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Denville, Alfred Latham, Sir P. Salmon, Sir I.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak) Salt, E. W
Dodd, J. S. Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.) Samuel, M. R. A.
Doland, G. F. Leech, Sir J. W. Sanderson, sir F. B.
Dower, Major A. V. G. Leigh, Sir J. Scott Lard William
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shakespeare, G. H.
Duggan, H. J. Lennox Boyd, A. T. L. Shakespeare, G. H.
Duncan, J. A. L. Levy, T. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Dunglass, Lord Lewis, O. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Eastwood, J. F. Liddall, W. S. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Eekersley, P. T. Lindsay, K. M. Simmonds. O. E.
Edge, Sir W. Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.
Edmondson, Major Sir J.. Lloyd, G. W. Sinclair Col T (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Ellis, Sir G. Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Elliston, Capt. G. S Loftus, P. C. Smith, Bracewell (Dalwich)
Elmley, Viscount Lyons, A. M. Smith, L. W. (Hallam)
Emery, J. F. McCorquodale, M. S. Somerset, T.
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Spent, W. P. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde) Turton, R. H. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitohin)
Storey, S. Wakefield, W. W. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Stourton, Major Hon. J. J. Walker-Smith, Sir J. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan Wise, A. R.
Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Se[...]ter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Tasker, Sir R. I. Warrender, Sir V. Wragg, H.
Tate, Mavis C. Waterhouie, Captain C. Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Taylor, Vioe-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Wayland, Sir W. A TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Titehfield, Marquess of Wells, S. R. Captain Dugdale and Mr.
Touohe, G. C. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham) Furness.
Tree, A. R. L. F. Wiekham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Graves, T. E, Paling, W.
Adams, D. (Consett) Hall, J. H. (Whiteahapel) Parker, J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hardie, Agnes Pathick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Amman, C. G. Harris, Sir P. A. Price, M. P.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pritt, D. N.
Banfield, J. W. Hayday, A. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Batey, J. Henderson, 4. (Ardwick) Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Bellenger, F. J. Hicks, E. G. Ridley, G.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Riley, B.
Benson, G. Holdsworth, H. Ritson, [...]
Bevan, A. Hollins, A. Seely, Sir H. M.
Broad, F. A. Hopkin, D. Sexton. T. M.
Buchanan, G. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Shinwell, E.
Gape, T. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Silkin, L.
Charleton, H. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Silverman, S. S.
Chater, D. Kelly, W. T. Simpson, F. B.
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Kirby, B. V. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cocks, F. S. Lathan, G. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cove, W. G. Lawton, J. J. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Dalton, H. Leach, W. Stephen, C
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lee, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davies, S. D. (Merthyr) Leslie, J. R. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Day, H. Logan, D. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Dobbie, w. Lunn, W. Thurtle, E.
Ede, J. C. Macdonald, G. (Ince) Tinker, J. J.
Foot, D. M. MeEntee, V. La T. Viant, S. P.
Frankel, D. McGovern, J. Walkden, A. G.
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Watkins, F. C.
Gardner, B. W. Milner, Major J. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Morrison, Rt. Han. H. (Hackney, S.) Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Gibbins, J. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Nathan, Colonel H. L. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Naylor, T. E. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Oliver, G. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Owen, Major G. Mr. Adamson and Mr.

Resolved, That this House approves the results of the recent Anglo-Italian conversations as contained in the Agreement signed at Rome on 16th April, 1938.