HC Deb 03 May 1938 vol 335 cc695-6
Mr. Attlee (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make regarding the recent conversations in London between British and French Ministers.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

My Noble Friend and myself were glad to have an opportunity of reviewing with the French President of the Council, M. Daladier, and the French Foreign Minister, M. Bonnet, the various international questions which are a matter of preoccupation at the present time. The conversations have been of value in helping each Government to obtain a closer understanding of the other's point of view, and in demonstrating once again the community of outlook and interest which unites them. The results of the meetings have been set out in the official statement issued on 29th April at the conclusion of the conversations, the text of which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Thorne

I take it that all the questions which were under consideration have not been given?

The Prime Minister

I have not given a verbatim account of the conversations.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask whether in these conversations arrangements were made for the nomination of certain higher Commands between the French and English Air Forces and miltary Forces in the event of certain emergencies taking place?

The Prime Minister

If I understand the question correctly, that is not so.

Following is the text of the final communique:

During their stay in London M. Daladier and M. Georges Bonnet had a number of conversations with the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and other British Ministers, in the course of which they discussed, in the spirit of mutual confidence which inspires the relations between the two countries, the principal questions which at the present time affect the maintenance of peace.

The French and British Ministers reviewed the results of the recent conversations between the Italian Foreign Minister and His Majesty's Ambassador at Rome, embodied in the agreement as published. The French Ministers welcomed this contribution to European appeasement. The British Ministers, for their part, expressed the hope that the conversations which the French Government have opened with the Italian Government will lead to equally satisfactory results.

The French and British Ministers were of opinion that the appeasement in the Mediterranean which would result from these agreements would contribute to the entry into force of the resolution of 4th November, 1937, for the withdrawal of foreign participants in the civil war in Spain, and would facilitate the conclusion of agreements for the withdrawal of war material.

They devoted close attention to the situation in Central Europe, and found themselves in general agreement on the action that might most usefully be taken to find the basis of a peaceful and equitable settlement of problems arising in that area.

They also touched on certain questions relating to the situation in the Far East, and took the opportunity to discuss certain questions which appeared on the agenda of the forthcoming meeting of the Council of the League of Nations.

The two Governments decided to continue, as might be necessary, the contacts between their General Staffs established under the Arrangement reached in London on 19th March, 1936.

As a result of the very frank and full discussions which took place, it was once again recognised that France and Great Britain are bound together by a close community of interests, and the French and British Ministers agreed that it was, therefore, of the highest importance in present circumstances that the two Governments should continue and develop the policy of consultation and collaboration in the defence, not only of their common interests, but also of those ideals of national and international life which unite the two countries.