HC Deb 08 March 1939 vol 344 cc2117-8
13. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Prime Minister whether he can state any occasion on which the representatives of the British Government have suggested, through the machinery of the League of Nations or otherwise, any steps to secure, by international agreement, a stoppage of the practice of dropping aerial bombs from service planes on defenceless non-combatants?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. As a result of a proposal made by the United Kingdom representative on the Third Committee of the 1938 Assembly of the League of Nations, the Assembly, in which 49 States were represented, adopted a resolution recognising certain general principles as the necessary basis for the restriction of aerial warfare. These principles were:

  1. (1) The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal;
  2. (2) Objectives aimed at from the air must be legitimate military objectives and must be identifiable;
  3. (3) Any attack on legitimate military objectives must be carried out in such a way that civilian populations in the neighbourhood are not bombed through negligence.

Mr. Kennedy

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he expects the resolution will become operative?

Mr. Butler

The whole question of the limitation of aerial warfare, including practical steps to secure observation of these principles is now under consideration.