HC Deb 27 February 1939 vol 344 cc888-9
20. Sir P. Harris

asked the Prime Minister whether Annex 7 of the Anglo-Italian Agreement, under which the Italians agreed to let British missionaries enter Abyssinia, has been carried out; and whether properly accredited British missionaries are now permitted to enter that country?

Mr. Butler

The declaration to which the hon. Baronet refers states that the Italian Government intend to assure to British nationals in Italian East Africa the free exercise of all cults compatible with public order and good morals, and in this spirit will examine favourably any requests which may reach them from the British side to assure religious assistance to British nationals. So far as my noble Friend is aware, no requests of the kind indicated have as yet been put forward from the British side. His Majesty's Government will, however, always be ready to lend their efforts towards securing the most favourable interpretation possible of the clause in question when need arises.

Sir P. Harris

Have previous applications for entry been refused by the authorities on the spot?

Mr. Butler

No request has been made to us by British missionaries or other organisations.

Miss Rathbone

Does the agreement provide that British missionaries can carry out the same religious work among the natives of Abyssinia as Italian missionaries are allowed to exercise, on behalf of their church, in British colonies?

Mr. Butler

I must refer the hon. Lady to the terms of the statement in the Anglo-Italian Agreement.

40. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister what recent reports he has received from His Majesty's agents in Abyssinia; and whether he can make a statement concerning the present situation there?

Mr. Butler

Periodic reports received from His Majesty's consular representatives in Italian East Africa show that the position is still as stated in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan), on 23rd November, which was to the effect that the Italians had established control of Ethiopia with the exception of a particular area in which resistance was still being offered.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a report in the "Daily Telegraph'' that the Italians were only able to hold the town and that it was dangerous to go a few miles outside?

Mr. Butler

Our information is that there has been resistance in this particular area and that that resistance has been carried on.

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