HL Deb 13 March 1919 vol 33 cc677-92

LORD STUART OF WORTLEY had the following Notice on the Paper—

To call attention to the claims of the Polish people to the reconstitution of their ancient nationality and independence, and to ask the Lord President of the Council—

Whether it is intended to leave the victualling of Poland and the relief of Polish distress to private charity;

Whether the Inter-Allied Commission now in Poland have powers to provide any relief for the scarcity, distress, and sickness which have reached such grave dimensions in that country;

Whether steps have been taken to send a British Red Cross unit to Poland;

Whether the expenses of such mission will be wholly or partly defrayed by the British Government;

Whether the Allied Powers have considered the political importance of giving all possible assistance and encouragement to the Government and people of Poland, and of securing them in the enjoyment of as much as possible of the territory, including the port of Dantzig, of the Ancient Kingdom of Poland; and

Whether he can give any other information as to the policy of the Allied Government towards the newly reconstituted Polish nation.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in rising to put the Questions which stand in my name I wish to disclaim at the outset any charge or suggestion which might have been inferred from a phrase that I used two clays ago when discussing the practice of asking Questions in this House, that the noble Earl who leads the House ever practises anything in the nature of undue reticence or studied ambiguity in the answers which he gives. My phrase about "sheltering behind smoke clouds" was aimed at Ministers who purposely ignore the Questions which are put to them. In this case it will be clear from the Paper what is the specific form of each Question which I desire to have answered, and, as I said the other day, I shall be completely satisfied, and shall have no right to complain, if in regard to any one of those Questions I am told that it is not in the public interest that it should be answered. In truth, my Lords, the noble Earl who leads the House is of all Ministers the least open to any charge of undue reticence or studied ambiguity, for he often goes beyond what is asked for in the Question in the enlightening answers which he gives the House the advantage of hearing.

I take it that there is no occasion for me to-day to elaborate or dwell upon the historical claims which the State of Poland has upon British sympathies. Your Lordships will have observed that I carefully use the words "State of Poland." I am not anxious to prejudge any question by speaking of the Kingdom of Poland, for in truth one of the most unsatisfactory parts of the history of the relations between Poland and British public opinion has been the fact that in the nineteenth century British opinion showed towards the sufferings and wrongs of Poland an indifference which I think was, in ranch too high a degree, based upon what were rather pedantic considerations of imperfections in the Polish Constitution, as it existed at the time when Poland lost her independence through the partitions, not of the nineteenth, but of the eighteenth century.

Premising that I can safely dispense with any comment as to the claims which Poland has upon British sympathy, I think I can equally dispense myself from the necessity to dwell upon Poland's present sufferings. Two questions seem really to arise, and they both arise out of the difficulty in which we find ourselves as to knowing what are the real facts of the case. One set of writers and correspondents in the newspapers tell us at the present time that in Germany there is no food and that there is the greatest possible danger of imminent starvation. Another set of writers tell us that there is food in Germany, and that it could be made available to relieve the distress of the people were it not for the unpatriotic unwillingness of the wealthier classes there to submit to those self-denials which would make better distribution possible in respect of the food which does exist.

I believe that the first question we have to ask ourselves is this—Is the moral claim of Poland to relief greater than that of Germany at the present day, or greater than that of Russia? I propose to measure its moral claim against those two and those two countries only; because it was admitted by His Majesty's Government, when Lord Wimborne's Question was asked last week, that in almost every other country, besides Germany, in Europe which had come within the ambit of the military operations of the last four years there was the direst distress prevailing. Lord Wimborne, I think, mentioned Poland, and the noble Lord who answered for the Government spoke of the relief which had been given, either by or at the instance of the Allied Powers, in the case of a great many countries which he mentioned, but I observed with some concern that the name of Poland was omitted from the list. At all events, it did not appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT. My Lords, has Poland, as against Germany or as against Russia—the only two countries with which I think it ought to be compared for the purpose of the present Question—a higher moral claim to our sympathies or relief, upon grounds of poetic or any kind of justice, at the present time? In this connection let us remember that in any list of priorities or preferences it can be clearly shown that Germany should stand, not at the top, but as near the bottom as possible. Germany it was that plotted the war, that devastated the fields and carried off the products for her own consumption, that led away captive the population and destroyed the shipping whereby alone the supplies of food could have been replaced; and in the case of Russia we can have cognisance only of the de facto holders of power in that unhappy country at the moment, and they it is who have destroyed the transport, paralysed agriculture, both with regard to reaping and sowing, and put out of action that great world-source of food supply which used to be in better times forthcoming from Russia.

Such being the comparative moral claim, what are we told as to the comparative actual need in the case of Poland? Unfortunately we are obliged to rely upon newspaper accounts; but what are the probabilities? Germany made for herself, and has ruthlessly used, the opportunity to seize all the food supplies of all the neighbouring countries, including Poland, with which she has been at war. At the same time we cannot forget that Poland has been twice ravaged and devastated by retreating Russians and advancing Germans, and then again, and lastly, by retreating German forces. Therefore one would say that there is considerable presumptive evidence that Poland has suffered and is suffering at least as much as, and probably in a higher degree than, either Germany or Russia from want of food; and I have reason to know that Sir Esme Howard, who is at the head of the British Mission now in Poland, and who, as your Lordships know, is a distinguished member of His Majesty's Diplomatic Service, has written home to the Lord Mayor of London asking that a Mansion House Fund should be opened to relieve the distress in Poland. In the same letter he describes, in terms with which I will not horrify your Lordships, because they are so painful, the state of affairs in Poland.

As I first said when I rose to address your Lordships before the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council was in his place, there is no man less likely or less inclined to shelter himself behind ambiguities and reticence than he is. He always gives us a clear statement, and I invite him to do so on the present occasion. I take it that it is agreed—I am now on the last Question—and that it requires no contention or argumentation, that it is desirable in the interests of Europe and of civilisation as a whole that the once partitioned State of Poland should be reconstituted now and at once; that the reconstituted State should be made strong both in territory and in resources; and that it should have access to the sea. I am happy to be able to say that I shall be followed in this discussion by a noble Lord who sits near me, who, in the course of his career, had opportunities of becoming acquainted with what may be called the artificial Germanisation of Danzig, a fact which very much bears on the propriety or otherwise of restoring to the State of Poland that access to the sea which it once enjoyed at Danzig. It is, I take it, admittedly desirable that this strong State should be reconstituted for the very purpose of standing between Russia and Germany; that it should have complete independence; and that it should have nothing about it which partakes of what German diplomatists are pleased to call orientations either towards Germany or towards Russia. It should be able to stand up of itself. At the same time I think your Lordships will agree that, whether by affording it relief now or by otherwise befriending this newly-constituted State, we should do that which should give Poland reason in the future to be grateful for British sympathy and British friendship.


My Lords, I hope that I may be permitted, before the noble Earl replies, to add a few words to what has fallen from my noble friend in relation to the claim of the Polish people to their ancient nationality and independence, in special reference to the fifth Question which stands in his name on the Paper. I venture to do this for what I think is probably an exceptional reason put forward in your Lordships' House. It is that I have had the somewhat rare advantage of having lived for some time in Poland and having had exceptional opportunity for making myself acquainted with the people in that country and of studying their history, their language, their customs, and those national traditions which exercise so large an influence in the formation of independent nationalities.

It was about the year 1887, being then established in Russia, that I was first drawn to a careful study of the Polish question; and one of the causes that attracted me specially to that country, apart from my natural and longstanding sympathies with it, was the great interest which was then being displayed by the German Government and by the Imperial General Staff in Berlin in the affairs of that ancient kingdom. It appeared to me that there was no justification for any special interest at that time. There was nothing threatening in the attitude of Russia. The policy of the Emperor Alexander III was notoriously pacific. The dispositions of the Imperial Russian Staff were well known to be inspired entirely with the thoughts of defence and not of offence. I was led to the inference that there must be some political considerations in Germany which demanded an exhaustive study of that belt of country lying between Danzig on the Baltic and Odessa on the Black Sea, and I endeavoured to make myself as much acquainted with it as I could.

Physical geography is not a science which has been much studied in this country. Therefore it is not a matter of surprise possibly in this country that the existence of two great rivers whose upper waters almost touched in the region of a very undefined watershed and whose waters flowed respectively to the south and to the northwest through broad, rich, alluvial basins did not convey any very striking impression. But to the German mind it was otherwise. To the German mind it expressed the existence of a commercial route to be exploited, of a military line of communications to be made use of possibly at some future time. In short, the Vistula-Dnieper line was one to which the German paid very great attention, and—though it would have been futile for me or any one else with a knowledge of such facts as could be gathered in those days to forecast the developments of German polity thirty years after—having always retained my affection for Poland and my interest in its concerns, the thirty years which followed piled up the conviction in my mind, which I ventured to express on the outbreak of the recent war, that what Germany was out for in that war was the settlement of the Polish question in a manner suitable for her, and specially for Prussian, interests.

During the thirty years of the reign of him whom we must call the late Emperor of Germany much has been published which has thrown a light upon the aims of Germany. We have bad vast publications connected with the late Prince Bismarck, with which no doubt many noble Lords are well acquainted, and I think they will remember that right through all these remarks one is struck by one thing; that is, if one's mind, as mine was, is directed to the particular point—and that was his obsession in regard to Poland. He seems to have had from the earliest part of his political career a dread of the resuscitation of the Polish State, and there is no doubt that the existence of a free, strong, and independent Poland would have cut directly across many schemes which are now known to the public under the general term of the Mittel-Europa policy.

Bismark's position appears in innumerable of his speeches. Perhaps some of your Lordships may remember one most dramatic incident which lie recites of his early days in the Prussian Landtag. He speaks of a certain Polish priest who had been elected to the Landtag, and who stood throughout the whole of the debates because he would not sit on the same benches as his Prussian colleagues. He speaks of it as being a sort of spectacle, and in his first speech, delivered in 1848, which he was not allowed to conclude, he attacked that very point. In one of the last of his public utterances, made, I think, about the year 1894 to some delegates from West Prussia who visited him at Varzin, he made use of these words— Gentlemen, I have shown you a fancy picture of the Polish State which I hope will never be realised. Danzig is the first town which a Polish State would have to gain possession of, because it is on the coast. If one day we Germans are beaten, if we were to lose the position we now occupy in Europe, you Germans at Danzig would be more seriously threatened than even your German fellow-countrymen in Posen. Well, my Lords, that day has arrived. Germany has been beaten, and the question of Danzig and the Vistula basin, and of Polish independence, have got to be determined.

I ask the noble Earl to tell us, as far as he is able to, what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government on this most important question. The Prime Minister, in many of his public utterances, has been scathing in his remarks upon the Congress of Vienna. What we would like to know is whether the Peace Conference at Paris is going to undo the wrong done to Poland at Vienna when it handed Danzig back to Prussia and condoned the robbery of 1791. At the present moment I am not in a position to compare the proportion of Poles and Germans in Danzig, but any one who has known Danzig in former days would have recognised it as essentially a Polish city. It has carefully been made German. The Polish population have been repeatedly removed and well-disposed German colonists have been introduced, but that does not affect the real fact that from a long distant period it was a Polish outlet from the great Vistula area.

It is most regrettable, at a time when a question of such vital importance as this is before the Conference in Paris, that a leading newspaper in this country should publish utterances calculated to prejudice the case of Poland in the public mind in England. A communication appeared in The Times not long ago from the late correspondent of that paper at Berlin. It was an argument in favour of the retention of Danzig by Germany, and it is a remarkable fact that that letter was followed a week or two later by an article in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, which endorsed the view of The Times correspondent as one which would satisfy Germany. Later still that view found support in the new Reichstag at Weimar from Count Brockdorff Rantzau, who, speaking on this very subject, said that while Germany must retain Danzig the claims of Poland might be met by special conventions affecting the navigation of the Vistula.

But this is not all. In The Times of yesterday only there was a most astounding statement. It was to this effect— The Paris Correspondent of Time Times announces that Poland will be given a corridor communication with Danzig. How are we to interpret this very equivocal statement? We can only ask the noble Earl to give us such enlightenment as he can as to the real state of affairs. From other sources I have heard that the Conference in Paris is extremely favourable to the claims of Poland, and that in fact it is considered a settled thing that the whole littoral from a line drawn somewhere about 60 kilometres to the west of Danzig, including Danzig and Elbing, would be handed over to the new Polish State. I may mention, in passing, that Elbing itself is a place of very considerable importance. I remember a good many years ago the first torpedo boat being sent to Russia from Elbing, and conveyed by inland waterways through Russia to the Black Sea. The part that Elbing was to play in German development was not then altogether realised. It has been shown to a very considerable extent during the late war. Most of the "U" boats came from Elbing.

The vital question which I would ask the noble Earl to elucidate as far as he can is this, Is the new State of Poland to be free or not? It can never be free if the outlet to the main artery of the country, the mouth of the Vistula, is to remain gripped in the Germany fist. It cannot be free if the commerce of the country is to be controlled at a German port in the interests of cosmopolitan financiers, whether in this country or in Germany, who may have marked out Poland and South-west Russia as their prey.

We have heard a great deal during the whole course of the war as to what our aims were, and it has been pretty well driven home that our object in this war was to secure the future independence of the small oppressed nations, and in a recent public utterance of the Prime Minister lie has said that our victory has safeguarded democracy. I think that I have said enough to show that there is some cause for uneasiness, which we should like to have cleared up, in the present position regarding Poland. I should like to remind your Lordships that of all the small nationalities of Europe there is none that holds such a democratic record as Poland. It is the only nation to the East of the Rhine that has any record of constitutional development on democratic lines. I hope that I have not trespassed too much upon your Lordships' indulgence, and I feel sure that the noble Earl will give us such information as he can.


My Lords, the noble Lord who put the Question upon the Paper proved himself, if I may say so, a most sympathetic exponent of the interests of the people whose cause he was pleading. The noble Lord who spoke next gave us an interesting chapter out of the history of the past thirty years—a history in which, as regards Poland, he has himself borne a share—and it is, I think, one of the remarkable features of this House that no subject however abstruse, and no country however remote, can come under discussion here but we always find some noble Lord who can speak with personal experience and authority on the matter. The noble Lord required no apology for his intrusion into our proceedings. We were very glad to hear him, as we always are.

As regards Poland, we are all in sympathy with Poland wherever we sit. The age-long sufferings of that country, the cruel partitions that she has experienced, the injuries that have been inflicted upon her during the past few years, the spirit with which she has throughout maintained her own national ideals, have ensured her an abiding position in the regard of mankind; and it is a matter of satisfaction to every one in this country, as elsewhere, that an opportunity has at last occurred of redressing the balance of forces and once again giving her a place in the sun. The emancipation of Poland has been one of the objects of the Allies throughout the war. Noble Lords will, perhaps, recollect that in the early days of the war, when we were fighting with Russia (then under the Government of the Tsar) as an Ally, the future liberation of Poland was one of the objects which we consistently and even publicly pressed. We had hoped that had the changes that have taken place in Russia not occurred that liberation would have been secured.

When the Revolution took place in Russia the care of Poland passed, so to speak, out of the hands of Russia into the hands of the remaining Allies, and the House will perhaps recall that in June, 1918, before the later dénouement of the war that culminated in victory had taken place, the Supreme War Council, sitting at Paris and issuing a kind of summary of the war aims of the Allies, pledged itself to the creation of a united and independent Polish State with free access to the sea. During the last three months, since the suspension of hostilities, great strides have been made towards the realisation of that ideal. A great deal of work has been done, and the framework of what it is hoped will be a sound and stable political structure is already being set up in that State.

I might, of course, content myself with answering in the briefest terms the exact Questions that are upon the Paper, but the noble Lord who opened paid me so warm a compliment upon my habitual lack of reticence in your Lordships' House that I am sure he would wish me to justify that reputation by giving your Lordships a perhaps rather less restricted survey of the situation as it exists in Poland at the present moment. The present position is as follows. On the collapse of the Central Powers, General Pilsudski, a life-long champion of Polish independence, himself a Socialist, I believe, of advanced views, who for more than a year previous to the German Revolution had been im- prisoned in a German fortress, provisionally assumed supreme power in Poland with a view not to personal advancement but to retaining that position until he could place it in the hands of a Polish Diet freely elected upon a democratic basis. But at that time there were quite a number of parties in Poland, and one of the most aggravating features of the situation was the division that presently occurred between the opposing influences and authorities.

It was in January of this year that an agreement was reached between General Pilsudski on the one hand, and the parties of the Right and the Polish National Committee in Paris on the other. Then it was that a new Cabinet was formed under the presidency of that talented artist whom we know so well and respect so much in this country, M. Paderewski. I would call your Lordships' attention to this fact, that the Cabinet of M. Paderewski approximated very closely to the ideal which so many people desiderate in this country, but which we find it so difficult to attain. It was a Cabinet of experts, and not of politicians; and excellent, my Lords, as is the work of these gentlemen, I am afraid that my survey of the situation will lead me to the conclusion that it is likely before a very long time has passed to cease to be a Cabinet of experts and to become a Cabinet of politicians. Whether we should derive from that a warning or an encouragement, I do not say.

The first task of this Government was to hold elections for the Diet which has to draft the new Constitution for Poland. These elections were held in what used to be Austrian Poland and Russian Poland in the last days of January. They could not, for obvious reasons, be held in German Poland because it still remains legally a part of the German sovereignty. In the elections the popular and especially the peasant parties won the day. The Diet met on February 21, General Pilsudski placed his resignation in its hands, and was unanimously re-elected chief of the State pending the establishment of the Constitution. On February 28—a fortnight ago—a vote of confidence in General Pilsudski's Government was passed by the Diet. Thus, Poland has succeeded in forming the elements of a constitutional Government which is entrusted with the administration of the country and is controlled and supported by a duly elected Diet. That was one great step in advance.

The second, and a more important one in the history of these proceedings, was the recognition of this new State by the Government of this country and by the Allied Powers. We have recognised Poland as an independent sovereign State and its existing Government as the official Polish Government, with which we shall be happy to enter into the ordinary diplomatic relations as soon as circumstances permit. This Government is now functioning in circumstances of great difficulty, to which I will in a moment allude, and the task with which it is occupied may be thus described: It has to combat the menace of Bolshevism on the East, to maintain order during the period of transition in the State itself, and to avoid coining into conflict with greater dangers upon the West.

I said that the situation with which this Government is confronted is one of great difficulty, and this is clear. Poland is suffering from the extortion of many long years of hard, and in some cases cruel, misrule. Upon the top of that come the additional miseries and requisitions resulting from the war. When the Germans evacuated the country they either destroyed or carried away a great deal of the machinery with them, the result, of course, being that it is with extreme difficulty that the factories and workshops can resume operation. Hundreds of thousands of workmen who have been deported to Germany are returning and finding great difficulty in procuring employment. Many others, to be numbered also by many thousands, prisoners of war from the adjoining countries or demobilised soldiers, add to this immense and unoccupied mass of men within the borders of the country.

Meanwhile the currency is depreciated, the finances are in a state of extreme disorder, there is scarcely anything that is a necessary either of public or of private life of which Poland does not at this moment stand in most urgent need. She requires the immediate import of clothes with which to cover her people, and of foodstuffs with which to keep them alive. She requires the purchase of raw material to enable her to start her industries again, and in the period of insecurity through which she is passing she also requires the men, the arms, and the money with which to vindicate and uphold her newly-recovered freedom. She is threatened by Bolshevik forces of a formidable character on the East, by Ukrainian bands on the South-West, and by Germans on the North-West.

One of the first acts of the new Government was to mobilise the whole male population of the country, and among the duties that fall upon the Allies, as we cannot help them in substantial contributions of men, is that of providing them, so far as we can, with the means of carrying on the warfare that must for a time lie before them, and the leadership which is so necessary for them. Only yesterday or the day before it was decided at Paris, where close and constant attention is being given to this matter, to appoint a French General of eminence, who is going at once to Poland to assume command of the forces there in the position of Chief of the Staff to the head of the Polish Government, General Pilsudski.

As regards the duty that lies upon Poland herself, I think it may not be unwise to utter a word of warning to her statesmen. It is beyond all things desirable that she should in this period avoid any unnecessary armed collision which would exhaust the forces of the country in fighting over questions which must be decided, not in Poland itself, but by the Peace Conference at Paris. There have been disputes of this description. There was a dispute of which you may have read in the papers that occurred in a place called Teschcn in Upper Silesia, a dispute which resulted in warfare, in armed collision, between the Poles and the Czechs. I am glad to say that by the action of the Allies in Paris this dispute has been settled and a provisional arrangement which does not in any way prejudge the decision of the Peace Conference has been concluded, and an equitable distribution of coal from the mines in the disputed districts—for that was the source of the trouble—has been ensured.

Similarly, in Posnania a provisional line of demarcation has been drawn which, it is hoped, will secure peace in the country and put an end to minor conflicts between the Poles and the Germans, such as have been going on for several weeks. On the other side, in East Galicia the attempts made with a view to arranging an armistice between the Poles and the Ruthenes do not seem so far to have given very favourable results. On the anti-Bolshevik front the Polish forces seem able to cope with their task, and there is no immediate danger of a Bolshevik invasion. The best way in which Poland and her neighbours both on the East and the West can defend themselves against Bolshevism is, however, by strengthening their organisation at home and by carefully avoiding conflicts over questions which the Peace Conference will decide on the principles of right, and not on the faits accomplis on the spot itself.

Both noble Lords were anxious that I should tell your Lordships exactly what is being done by the Allies in respect of assistance, and Lord Stuart of Wortley placed Questions on the Paper which I will answer in the order in which he put them. I think it is only fair to bear this in mind, that the difficulty of communications with Poland is extraordinarily great. Anybody who is familiar with the present condition of the Continent, with the complete breakdown of railway communications, with the disappearance of rolling-stock, with the exhaustion of almost all the necessary materials of movement, will understand that it is a much easier thing to talk about sending relief than it is actually to send it. There are, further, the difficult questions arising out of shipping, and so on. One other word of caution, if I may. Do let us remember that though we are speaking about Poland to-day, and pouring out with a full heart all our sympathy for Poland, there are other countries to be considered, too. There are other places that are starving; and the claims that come to us from Poland, urgent as they are, I can assure your Lordships are not one whit more so than those which simultaneously reach us from many other parts of the European Continent.

Now as regards the Questions upon the Paper. The first is, Whether it is intended to leave the victualling of Poland and the relief of Polish distress to private charity. The answer is in the negative. Certainly not. The second Question is, Whether the Inter-Allied Commission now in Poland have powers to provide any relief for the scarcity, distress, and sickness which have reached such grave dimensions in that country. Yes, my Lords. In the instructions which were furnished to the Inter-Allied Commission now in Poland the Commission was directed to co-operate with the mission of the Supreme Economic Council which has also been despatched to Poland for the purpose of examining the situation with a view to the provision of relief in the matter of foodstuffs, and the first fleet of food ships has already been despatched to Danzig.


Any medical stores?


Yes, I think so. The next Questions of the noble Lord are, Whether steps have been taken to send a British Red Cross unit to Poland, and whether the expenses of such mission will be wholly or partly defrayed by the British Government. On February 6 the British Red Cross Society inquired of us whether it was the wish of the Government that British Red Cross units should be sent to Poland, and, if so, what we proposed. The Society was informed on February 17 that it was most desirable that a British Red Cross unit should be sent to Poland, and that if funds were not available for the purpose we should be only too happy to approach the Treasury upon the matter. The British Red Cross Society has since decided to send to Poland a section of hospital stores for the relief of the sick and wounded in that country, to the value of £100,000; and we have been inquiring in the last day or two from Sir Esme Howard, who represents us at Warsaw, whether there is a Polish Red Cross Society to whom the goods can be despatched, and, if so, who is its responsible head. To the last two Questions upon the Paper I have already to some extent replied. Yes, my Lords, it is true—in answer to these Questions—that all possible assistance and encouragement are being given. An independent Poland is a cardinal feature, of the policy of the Allied States; a Poland which shall as far as possible contain all genuinely Polish territories. It must be our object there to create a strong and compact and durable Poland, without, I hope, large alien minorities included in its territories which will only be a source of weakness and disruption in the future.


Hear, hear.


The noble Lord asked direct questions about Danzig and the "corridor of communication." This is a matter that is being discussed at Paris at this very time, and I am not aware that a final decision has been arrived at. But all the points which the noble Lord mentioned are, of course, present to the minds of those allied statesmen who are meeting at the Quai d'Orsay, and I myself think it is more than likely that the ultimate provisions made will include the handing over to Poland of Danzig, with communication by rail to the more directly Polish frontier in the neighbourhood of the Polish town of Thorn. That, I know, is the object with which the statesmen in Paris are working, although I am not aware that the final decisions have yet been reached.

I think I have now answered every question that has been put to me. The sum and substance of the matter is this. The Allies are thoroughly conscious of their obligations, and mean to fulfil the promises they have made. The steps for facilitating the financial, economic, and material revival of the country are being taken; and if, as I hinted just now, Poland can keep her own claims within reasonable limits and not seek to absorb outlying populations which have no racial affinity with her own people, and which, if forcibly embraced within her borders now, would break up those borders and imperil her own national existence at some date in the future—if all those conditions are realised, I believe, my Lords, that this once glorious, but in modern times unhappy, State will have a dawning era of brightness and prosperity before it.