HC Deb 29 November 1938 vol 342 cc225-6
22. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has yet received any communication from the Government of the Union of South Africa as to the matters which have recently formed the subjects of conversations between Mr. Pirow and Herr Hitler?

Mr. M. MacDonald

No, Sir.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is it not very desirable that, as a matter of courtesy alone, the Union Government should make some communication to His Majesty's Government on this subject? Would it not put an end to a crop of mischievous rumours if the secrecy and mystery which surround Mr. Pirow's activities were dissipated?

Mr. Bellenger

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen reports of the subjects alleged to be discussed between Mr. Pirow and the head of the German State, and does he not, therefore, think it necessary that His Majesty's Government should be kept fully informed about these conversations?

Mr. MacDonald

I have seen various reports in the Press, but whether they contain the truth or not is another matter. I have no doubt that when Mr. Pirow comes to this country he will give us information about these various conversations in Europe. I think hon. Members are under a misapprehension. They seem to suppose that some negotiation is proceeding between Mr. Pirow and the German Chancellor. I said in answer to a question last week that I am not aware that any such negotiations have taken place.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is no misapprehension as to negotiations proceeding; but certainly conversations are proceeding, and is it not customary for His Majesty's Government to be informed by the Government of the Dominion concerned of the nature and scope of such conversations?

Mr. MacDonald

If it were a question of Government negotiations, we should certainly be informed. Conversations of a personal nature are quite different. I have no doubt that we shall have the benefit of Mr. Pirow's own account of his conversations as soon as he returns to this country.