HC Deb 20 March 1940 vol 358 cc1953-4
2. Mr. Mander

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider bringing before the Council of the League of Nations the German aggression against Poland, in order that the Covenant of the League may be put into operation under Article 17, as a result of which it would be incumbent upon the neutrals, members of the League, under Article 16, to sever all trade and financial relations with Germany, to prohibit any intercourse with Germans, and to prevent all financial, commercial or personal contacts between Germany and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not?

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

The hon. Member will be aware that the Polish Government did not appeal to the Council of the League of Nations, either during the course of their dispute with the German Government or upon the invasion of their country by the German forces. His Majesty's Government do not consider that it would be opportune at this stage to refer these matters to the Council.

Mr. Mander

Would the Government bear in mind that if action of this kind were taken, it would very much strengthen our position, from the point of view of international law, in regard to any action that we may have to take later on in dealing with neutrals?

Mr. Butler

All these considerations have been borne in mind, but I cannot alter the answer I have given to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Mander

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the undesirability of creating the impression that the League is to be used only against Left Wing aggressors?

Mr. Gallacher

Was not the League revived in order to make a demonstration against the Soviet Union, and is it not now dead again?

Mr. Noel-Baker

When we are reconstructing the world after the war, will the Government bear in mind what we have lost through not using the Covenant of the League?

Mr. Butler

I am satisfied that we have done our best to use the Covenant of the League.

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Would the right hon. Gentleman bring forward at the same time the case of Russian aggression against Finland?