HC Deb 22 May 1946 vol 423 cc308-9
9. Professor Savory

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the refusal of the Council of Foreign Ministers to restore to Austria the South Tyrol, of which she was deprived in 1919.

Mr. Bevin

At their meeting last September the Foreign Secretaries decided that The frontier with Austria will not be changed, subject to the decisions to be reached by the Council on any case which Austria may present for minor rectifications in her favors. This decision was confirmed at our last meeting in Paris, and our Deputies have now been instructed to give further examination to the question of possible "minor frontier rectifications" and to hear evidence from both Austrian and Italian representatives on this subject.

Professor Savory

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that every historian, from that great Ulsterman Lord Bryce down to the present day, has denounced the injustice in that Clause of the Treaty of St. Germain by which a quarter of a million Tyrolese were handed over to Italy?

Mr. Bevin

I appreciate the enthusiasm of the hon. Member but it is not purely a political question. In all these considerations if there is to be peace in Europe economics have to be taken into account as well.

Sir Ronald Ross

In considering the fate of this community, did those concerned apply the principles of self-determination?

Mr. Bevin

Not strictly. As a matter of fact, the peoples of Europe are so intermixed that this principle of self-determination on strict frontiers is a very difficult thing to apply.

Earl Winterton

Surely the right hon. Gentleman can say whether or not the people of South Tyrol have been consulted on this matter. Is it not the policy of His Majesty's Government to find out what are the wishes of the inhabitants?

Mr. Bevin

We promised Italy under the Coalition Government that if she worked her passage we would take that into account. Italy has worked her passage and I have to take that into account.

Mr. Gallacher

Might I ask the Foreign Secretary if the Foreign Ministers considered the restoration of Northern Ireland to Eire?

Professor Savory

I give notice that I. shall bring up this question on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

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