HL Deb 05 May 1921 vol 45 cc223-50

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I am sorry to have to trouble your Lordships a second time in the same afternoon with questions arising out of the war and the still unrecovered peace of Europe, but all of us view with a good deal of satisfaction the settlement, one by one, of these troubled issues, and we shall be glad to see one more of the Treaties concluded at the termination of the war—the last, indeed, but one, the exception being the Treaty of Sevres—finally disposed of. The question may be asked why, the Treaty-making power and Treaty-ratifying power being outside the hands of Parliament, a Bill is wanted at all in the case of this Hungarian Treaty. The answer is that it is required for two reasons: firstly, for the liquidation of certain Hungarian property in this country and the payment of certain British debts due to Hungarians; and, secondly, because certain expenses are involved in respect of the payment of salaries of the Arbitral Tribunal in Hungary. These are the reasons why, before ratifying this Treaty, we have to carry a Bill through Parliament.

Another question may be asked, or rather another complaint may be made of the long and (I quite agree) unconscionable delay that has taken place in the production of this particular measure. The Treaty of the Trianon, as it is called, was signed in June, 1920; it was ratified by the Hungarian Government, under strong pressure from the Powers, in November, 1920; and it is only brought to its final stages here at the beginning of May, 1921. I had fully hoped that this Bill might be introduced and proceeded with in December last, before Parliament separated, and it certainly was not from any reluctance on the part of the Government, or from any want of pressure on my own behalf, that it was not then taken. But when the new session began, as your Lordships know, a certain number of days had, under our rules, to be assigned to financial business before Easter, a certain amount of business had to be discharged, and, in spite of the pressure that 1 was constantly exercising, I was not successful in persuading my right honourable friend the Leader of the House of Commons to find a place for this Bill. I deeply regret the delay, and I have made this explanation to indicate that neither the Government nor the Foreign Office has any responsibility for it.

There has been a similar delay, I believe for somewhat similar reasons, in the case of France. When we have ratified this Treaty, as I hope we shall do in the course of the next few days, France is the only great Power remaining with her part unfulfilled, and so anxious was I to feel assured that there would be no further delay in France that I took the opportunity of the presence of M. Briand here to ask him about the matter. He told me that it was only owing to an accident that the Bill had not been taken in France before he came to our shores last week; that it would be proceeded with immediately upon his return; and that ratification by France would therefore follow almost immediately upon our own. So much for the minor question of the reasons for the Bill and of the delay in introducing it.

Now I Come to the Bill itself. The question of building up a new Hungary was not one of the least difficult of those that confronted the Conference at Paris. We all remember the old Austro-Hungarian Empire as it has existed through our lives. It was universally known to be an artificial system, the result partly of historical accident, and partly of political expedients, which it was generally recognised depended more or less upon the frail thread of the life of an aged sovereign. The war came and precipitated the catastrophe. It gave the last push to a fabric already tottering to its doom. During the war the artificial unity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was only maintained by the military support of Germany, one might almost say by the military dictation of Germany, and before the war was over the atoms had commenced to fly asunder, and the States now known as the Successor States, already drunk with the wine of self-determination, which was so freely offered to them on all hands, had begun to separate themselves arid to create a national existence of their own.

Thus, my Lords, when the Conference met at Paris it was confronted with the Austro-Hungarian Empire already in dissolution, with a number of fragments almost irrevocably severed from one another by antagonisms of race, by antagonisms of religion and of interest, and out of this débris it was the duty of the statesmen assembled at Paris to build a new Constitution for South-Eastern Europe. This was the task that confronted the members of the Conference at, Paris Racial unity, political unity, geographical unity, and economic unity, all these principles had to be borne in mind, and where they clashed the best available compromise had to be effected between them. Such, summarised in a few words, was the crucible from which the new Hungary emerged.

As regards Hungary herself. Hungary is a country wit eh has been united to us, or at all events drawn to in the past, by many ties of cotillion friendship and regard. The character of her people, t he nature of her institutions, and the spirit of her aristocracy, have always been re- girded as closely analogous to our own. Further, Hungary, as recent debates have shown, has many friends in this House, who have on more than one occasion pictured to us in moving terms what she has lost and suffered both during the war and after. I attach becoming weight to those considerations. No one desires to be over-hard upon Hungary now, but, looking into the evidence of the ease, I cannot find that the guilt of Hungary in entering the war was any less than that of her accomplices, or that her conduct of the war was any more mild, and after the war was over she could not hope, for the sake of old memories, to escape the penalties which they have suffered. In a sense the very considerations that I have named render her culpability to some extent more marked.

What is the result? You now have a Hungary with a population of seven and a half millions of people, nearly seven millions of whom are of the Magyar race. As regards her new neighbours, gone is Croatia, with its two and a half millions of Yugo-Slays; gone is Slovakia with its two million Slovaks; gone is Eastern Hungary with its predominantly Rumanian population. It was inevitable that these elements in the former Hungary should join with their brethren in the neighbouring countries, and form the new States to which I have referred.

Of course it was not possible for the Conference at Paris to make a clean cut everywhere. Populations, perhaps in those parts of Europe even more than elsewhere, are inextricably intermingled and interlaced. You have, for instance, a population of one race in the big towns and a population of another race in the country districts that surround those towns, and the Conference was confronted at each stage with the difficulty of drawing this tortuous and sinuous line between the areas. In these circumstances they proceeded, broadly speaking, upon the lines that I have named. For instance, as regards those parts of I Hungary which have gone to Rumania and here I found myself exclusively upon the Magyar statistics which do not always err upon the side of reliability— there are 2,826,000 Rumanians and 500,000 Germans who are quite ready to accept the Rumanian rule, as against a ntinority—a very large minority, I admit— of 1,675,000 Magyars. Take again the Yugo-Slav case. There you have an overwhelming majority of Yugo-Slavs.

Then take the much-discussed and sometimes disputed case of the Czecho-Slovaks whom Hungary has had to hand over to Slovakia. Here, again, I ant quoting from Magyar statistics. There are 1,692,000 Slovaks in the area to which I refer. There remains in that area a minority, a smaller minority, of 850,000 Magyars. So interlocked and interspersed were these elements that it was impossible for the Conference to separate them. Then take the mountain population of Ruthenia, of whom there are three to four hundred thousand in the Carpathians. They wore a people cruelly oppressed for generations by the Hungarian Government in the past. They have been taken away and, with the security of a Diet and an autonomy of their own, they have been plated under the protection of the new Czeclio-Slovakian State.

Such were the main cuts, to use a rather unconventional phrase, which were made by the Peace Conference in the Hungary of the past. The decision of the Peace Conference in each of these cases was fully justified on the principles which have been accepted by the League of Nations. The Hungarian case against these decisions was based merely on appeal to history—that is, the right of conquest in the past—and on appeal to economics. To the former contention the Peace Conference made the sufficient reply that a state of things, even though it has lasted for a thousand years, has no right to continue when it is clear that it is contrary to justice, and that the Hungarian claim was not only contrary to justice but contrary to fact, for, as I have shown, the non-Magyar populations of Hungary had already, before the end of the war, declared their independence of the Hungarian Monarchy, and had exercised the right of self-determination before the issue at Paris came to be solved.

Again, it is, I hope, unnecessary to assure the friends of Hungary, of whom I know there are sonic in this House, that the Hungarian case on all these questions was not neglected simply because Hungary had made the great mistake and become an enemy Power, or because no Hungarian Delegation was present in Paris when the questions were examined. Volumes and piles of Treaties and documents and evidence representing the Hungarian case were submitted to the Peace Conference, and the very fact I named just now, that in every case it was Magyar figures and statistics that were relied upon, is a proof, I think, of the fact that their case enjoyed full consideration. I remember being present in Paris when, at a later stage, the Hungarian Delegation, headed by a most able man, Count Apponyi, came to the Conference chamber and he delivered, at great length, a speech in Several languages—because one language followed the other—in support of the Hungarian case.

Finally, the case came at a later stage to London, and was referred to a Conference of Allied Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors, over which I was presiding a little more than a year ago at the Foreign Office. And there it fell to my lot to make that particular proposal, which was afterwards announced to the Hungarian Government in a letter by M. Millerand, at that time the Prime Minister of France—the proposal by which we allowed the Boundary Commissions, set up under the Treaty, the right of reporting to the Council of the League of Nations any injustices that they might. find in the matter of frontier delimitation, which it might be thought desirable to do anything to remove. The actual words were these— Where the frontier, as indicated in the Treaty, does not correspond exactly to the ethnic or economic conditions, the Boundary Commission may address a report to the Council of the League of Nations, and the latter may offer its good offices. The League of Nations will, I think, be a very suitable body to act as a mediator in such cases; but, even had the League of Nations drawn up the original frontiers instead of the statesmen of Parris, I doubt, seeing that these frontiers are based upon the very principles of ethnic unity and economic convenience, which are the bases of the action of the League of Nations, whether the frontiers would have differed very materially, if at all, from those which were there laid down.

So much for the territorial and geographical features of the Hungarian Treaty. A few words I would like to add, if I may, on the political provisions. And, among these, I would call attention to two or three. Firstly, I should like to invite your Lordships' attention to the provisions with regard to the protection of minorities; because even in the re-constituted Magyar Hungary there are, as is well known, considerable racial, religious, and linguistic minorities, whose interest it was our desire to protect. Articles 54 to 60 were specially introduced into the Treaty for this object. I will read only a few lines from them— Hungary undertakes to assure full and complete protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Hungary without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion. All inhabitants of Hungary shall be entitled to the free exercise, whether public or private, of any creed, religion, or belief whose practices are nut inconsistent with public order or public morals. … All Hungarian nationals shall be equal before the law, and shall enjoy the same civil and political rights, without distinction as to race, language, or religion.… Hungary will provide in the public educational system in: towns and districts in which a considerable proportion of Hungarian nationals of other than Magyar speech arc resident, adequate facilities for ensuring tint in the primary schools the instruction shall be given to the children through the medium of their own language — although the Hungarian Government, make such Magyar language obligatory in the said schools.

Further, in the last of these Articles to which 1 am referring, Hungary agrees that these stipulations constitute obligations of international concern, to be placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations. The Article goes on— They shall not be modified without the assent of a majority of the Council of the League of Nations.'' Moreover, in Articles 44 to 47 of the same Treaty the States of Yugo-Slavia and Rumania accept the same obligation. All the Successor States have now ratified their Minority Treaties, and therefore Hungary is in a position where she must carry out her obligations in this, respect.


Will the noble Earl say whether that includes CzechoSlovakia?


Yes, Czecho-Slovakia is not mentioned, I think, in the Articles to which I refer in this Treaty, but my impression is that CzechoSlovakia is one of the Successor States that have ratified a Minority Treaty, and is therefore bound.

The second point to which 1 should like to refer is the reparation clauses, about which some suspicion has been, I think unjustifiably, entertained. The reparation clauses in the Treaty are modelled on the corresponding clauses in the Austrian Treaty. The amount of reparation to be paid will be fixed by the Reparation Commission, which will prescribe the time and manner of dis- charging by Hungary, within thirty years of the dating from May 1, 1921, of the debt to be assessed by the Commission. The Commission, after May 1 in this year, have from time to time to consider the resources of Hungary, and after giving her representatives a just opportunity to be hoard they have discretion to extend the date and modify the form of payment to be made. That is Article 164.

The Hungarian section of the Commission does not, of course, come into existence until this Treaty is in force, and therefore I cannot say anything of what they may determine. I have no doubt they will consider not only the damage for which compensation has to be paid, but also the great diminution of territory and revenues which has taken place, and the necessity of the economic; reconstruction of Hungary herself. And if they treat Hungary in the same spirit in which they have treated Austria, I do not think the friends of Hungary will have any very great cause of complaint. In the ease of Austria, as we know, it is more than likely that the reparation clauses will not be enforced.

Several NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear.


But Hungary, I would point out, is in a much better position than Austria. She is self-supporting in the matter of foodstuffs; she is by no means a bankrupt concern; she has not to buy, as Austria has, everything abroad, with a currency steadily depreciating. She can feed her own people and employ them as well. When the area of Pees is restored to her she will have her own coalfield, and a very good one too. Therefore, she will be in a much better position than her formerly more powerful neighbour. It is impossible, of course, to drop the reparation clauses altogether. That would be tantamount to admitting that Hungary does not share equally with her Allies the responsibility and guilt of the war.

The third point to which I should like to devote a word is that which has more than once been mentioned in this House—namely, the difficulties that have arisen between Hungary and her neighbours and the desirability of closer economic union between them. If your Lordships look at the economic clauses of the Treaty, and particularly Article 207, you will sec that provision is made for assisting in the mutual co-operation of Hungary and her neighbours in regard to the exchange of products indispensable to their industry or trade. The Peace Conference was very sensible of the necessity for maintaining or re-establishing the natural trade routes of Central Europe and for endeavouring to bring together neighbouring States in such co-operation as would, without infringing their complete rights of sovereignty and their full powers of determining their own policy, enable us to meet the serious shortage both of raw materials and manufactured articles due to the devastations of war.

That is why paragraph 6 was incorporated in Article 207 —in order to meet Hungary's complaint that nothing was being done to save her from the alleged intention of her neighbours to boycott her. It is there laid down in so many words that— negotiations shall be undertaken, on the initiative of any of these States, within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty with a view to the conclusion with any other of the said States of separate Conventions in conformity with the provisions of the present Treaty, and in particular of Articles 200 to 205. At the end of this period any State which has requested such a Convention without succeeding in concluding it may apply to the Reparation Commission and request it to accelerate the conclusion of such Convention. Apart from this general provision, the same Article includes, special provisions with a view of securing to Hungary adequate supplies of coal from her neighbours, Czecho-Slovakia and Poland.

This is as far as the Allied Powers thought they were justified in going, without an unwarrantable interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States. Here I should like to say that in supporting such efforts as these for mutual co-operation between these States, His Majesty's Government was thinking exclusively of the economic necessities of the States concerned, and that the absurd suspicion which has been spread abroad in some quarters as to the proposed artificial re-creation of a political Danube Confederation, which the sovereign States were unwilling to accept, is totally void of any substance whatsoever so far as British policy is concerned.

It only remains to add that it is in accordance with these provisions that the forthcoming Conference at Porto Rosa, to which I referred if a recent debate, is about to be held. In that Conference all the Successor States, including Poland—I was asked the question the other day—will be represented, and Great Britain, France and the United States as well. Our delegate will be Sir Francis Dent, who was formerly Chairman of a Commission for the distribution of rolling-stock in Central Europe. The programme, as it is at present arranged, includes the examination of the possibility of framing Conventions for the exchange of essential commodities, for the facilitation of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communication, and for the acceleration of goods and passenger traffic.

Such are the main provisions of the Treaty of Trianon. For my own part, I am far from being despondent as to the future of Hungary. She possesses even within her restricted borders, considerable resources of her own. She has an active and high-spirited population. She has Parliamentary institutions which are genuine. The debates in her Chamber, if you read them, are free. The Parliament does its business on the whole well. She has at the present moment a singularly capable Finance Minister who is pushing through the requisite legislation to stabilise the finances of his country. The present Government—that over which Admiral Horthy presides—has weathered several storms. It must be remembered that it succeeded a Communist Government, a Soviet Government, a Bolshevik Government if you like so to call it, which had by its actions excited universal horror and detestation.

It was not, therefore, surprising that in the earlier months of Admiral Horthy's régime recourse was had to measures of repression and of reprisals, and that there is still a large measure of Government control. Nevertheless, our information is that these repressive measures are being steadily relaxed, and certainly in the attempt—the forlorn and calamitous attempt— that was recently made by the ex-Emperor Carl to return to the country, the hungarian Government handled the situation well, observed a correct attitude, and, I think, emerged from what was a very difficult situation without any loss of dignity and with an increase of self-respect.

The best thing that we can do for Hungary, if I may say so, is to ratify the Treaty without delay; to give such support as we can to her Government so long as it deserves it; and to use what- ever influence we have with the neighbours of Hungary to be inure accommodating in their relations with her. On the other hand, the best thing that Hungary can do for herself is to desist from political intrigue, to enlarge the borders of freedom to her own people, to cultivate good relations with her neighbours, and to proceed with the development of her own resources. It is quite in the power, as I see it, of the Magyar race to work out a new salvation for themselves in a few years time. If that be so, the war, from which they have suffered so much and for which they have been called upon to pay so heavy a penalty, may before long be a painful but forgotten dream.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Earl Curzon of Kedleton.)


My Lords, the speech delivered by the noble Earl the Leader of the House was marked by his customary lucidity and eloquence, but I confess I can only regret that it Las not altered the opinions which I previously expressed as regards the character of the Treaty. I do not propose to waste the time of the House in recounting the objections which I have already made here. But there arc certain questions dealt with by the noble Earl upon which l desire to make sonic comment. First of all, I must again draw attention to the question of the delay in the ratification of this Treaty. I have no hesitation in saying—and I believe everybody will agree with me—that the delay in the ratification of this Treaty has been little less than disastrous.

That opinion has been expressed by no less important a personage than Mr. Balfour who, a short time ago, occupied the position of the noble Earl at the Foreign Office. The other day Mr. Balfour expressed the opinion that no greater calamity had occurred in Europe than the delays with regard to the various Treaties. His Majesty's Government, at all events, have at last fulfilled their part of the bargain, but there is still delay on the part of the other Powers. The Treaty requires, in order to come into force (if I am not mistaken) the ratification of three great Powers. We are about to ratify. The Italians, I understand, have ratified. The Japanese, I believe, are in process of ratifying, and my noble friend has assured the House this afternoon that the French are about to ratify. My opinion is that although the French are about to ratify they are going to attach fresh conditions, and to insist on certain guarantees which, I confess, appear to me to be quite unwarranted. I trust, if this is the case— I hope I am misinformed— that this policy will receive no support, from His Majesty's Government, that, if necessary, the ratification will be carried on by the other Powers, and that no attention will be paid to the demands of the French.

I have observed with some surprise that in another place the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs expressed the opinion that the Treaty was conceived in no spirit of anger or vengeance, and said that he hoped and believed the new Hungary had every prospect of a splendid and prosperous future. This expression rather reminds me of that of Lord Beaconsfield after the conclusion of the Treaty of Berlin. When Turkey had lost the greater portion of her European Provinces, Lord Beaconsfield congratulated Turkey on the concentrated form of territory which she was now about to enjoy it, seems to me that to congratulate the Hungarians, anti to wish them a happy and prosperous future, is, in the present circumstances, as if you were to congratulate and wish a prosperous future to a man with whom you hail been engaged in a desperate struggle, whose leg you had out off, whose arm you had cut off, whom you had made bankrupt, and to whom you announced, in spite of that, that you intended in future to take from him further money if possible.

I am satisfied in my own mind that no spirit of anger or vengeance animated His Majesty's Government. I firmly believe that His Majesty's Government are well disposed towards the Hungarian. Nevertheless, the fact remains, and has been pointed out by the noble Earl himself, that the population of the country has been reduced from 18,000,000 to 7,000,000; that two-thirds of its territory- have been taken away; that its economic prosperity, at all events for the present, has been, if not entirely destroyed, very seriously impaired; and that millions of Magyars and German-speaking Hungarians have been transferred, quite contrary to the principle of President Wilson— the principle of selfdetermination— to other countries, without being allowed to express any opinion on the question themselves.

The defence that is made with regard I to this policy—and it has been repeated by my noble friend this afternoon—is that the Allies were not responsible for the disintegration of Hungary, because it all took place before they intervened. We are given to understand that the country was in such a state of decomposition that its component elements, so to speak, all fell apart, and that they assorted themselves automatically in the territories of which they have now become subjects. I am, of course, quite prepared to admit that there was grave discontent in Hungary on the part of the subject population. At the same time, I am not in the least convinced that these people have, even now, got what they wanted.

It would take a great deal to make me believe, for instance, that the Croatians are delighted at being placed finder the rule of Belgrade. We know that a large portion of the population of Transylvania bitterly resents being placed under Rumanian rule, and I do not exactly see the propriety or advantage of transferring German-speaking Hungarians to Austria, because the chances are that in the future they will only form part of a larger Germany. Again, take the case of CzechoSlovakia. I am very much disposed to think that if the. Slovaks had the opportunity they would be only too glad to return to Hungarian rule to-morrow. I read in a Slovak paper, published at Vienna, that up till the middle of February no fewer than 232,000 Slovaks had been put in prison by the Czech Government. That hardly sounds as if they had greatly improved their lot by passing under the domination of the Serbs.

I will pass to another point raised by the noble Earl, the question of reparations. It seems to me that when you talk about exacting reparation front Turkey, or Bulgaria, or Hungary, you are really playing with words. Who seriously expects to get any large contribution from those countries? We are expecting to get indemnities from Germany, but I do not think anybody seriously believes that we shall get anything substantial from the countries that I have mentioned. Take, for instance, the case of Austria. What happened in Austria? After the Peace was signed an enormous horde of officials of all countries descended upon Vienna, and, I believe, occupied the whole of the gigantic War Office, and no less a sum than 7,600,000 gold crowns was voted by the Austrian Government in order to pay for those people. The total revenue of Austria, if I am not mistaken, is only £14,000,000 sterling and their, expenditure is £35,000,000 sterling. Therefore, that unhappy country has a deficit of £21,000,000 sterling. Yet, in those circumstances, we actually sent a vast horde of people to Vienna, who caused almost intolerable expense and ended by reporting that there is nothing to be got out of Austria.

Warned by that, I should hope that the idea of sending a large Commission of a similar character to Budapest will be abandoned. I am inclined to believe that if any such work is necessary it will be perfectly well performed by the officials upon the spot. I would go further and maintain, as far as Hungary is concerned, that I do not see why any reparation should be exacted from Hungary at all. Hungary is a country which has been treated more severely than any of our ex-enemies, as I have already pointed out. Apart from the enormous losses of territory, population, and revenue, the unfortunate Hungarians have suffered from a Bolshevik régime, and they have also suffered what was worse—from a prolonged Rumanian occupation which, I believe, cost them something like £100,000,000 sterling, or infinitely more than the German occupation cost Belgium. As a matter of common sense and justice the idea of exacting reparation from Hungary might profitably be abandoned.

I desire to say one word with regard to the economic relations of these various States. There is no more fruitful subject of regret than the internecine economic struggle which goes on between these different countries. It has been constantly deplored by official spokesmen. Whose fault is it? These new Successor States were created at Paris. No undue liberty would have been taken had certain conditions been enforced upon them, and if they had been tied down to a kind of economic union such as prevailed in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is always represented that this would have been an insult to these States, but it seems to me it would have been an ordinary procedure dictated by common sense. After all, these Successor States are in the position of minors, children, who come into an inheritance, and if a minor comes into an inheritance you do not allow him or her to have complete disposal of it, but naturally prevent them from disposing of it accord- ing to their own will. I observe that considerable hope is attached to the coming Conference of these Successor States and Poland at Porto Rosa. This Conference is to be attended by representatives of the Great Powers, and I hope that the representatives of the Great Powers will be less scrupulous than at Paris and will insist upon an economic unity of some kind.

There is a great deal to be said—I am not going to say it, as l observe Lord Bryce is present—on the question of Transylvania. The state of that country is thoroughly unsatisfactory. Not only have large numbers of Magyars been trans-funned against their will into Rumanian subjects, but they are, by all accounts, badly treated. Their property has been confiscated, many of them have been exiled, their schools and Universities have been closed, and the population generally subjected to considerable ill-treatment. I should like to re-echo the wish expressed by Lord Bryce, that the condition of Transylvania will be investigated by an International Commission.

There is only one other point to which I desire to refer. It is one to which the noble Earl made no allusion: In consequence of the prolonged delay of ratification a valuable portion of Hungary is still occupied by the Serbs, and it is a portion of Hungary which happens to be about the only district left in which there is any coal. The Serbs, not content with taking the Hungarian coal, have also set up a Bolshevist administration in defiance of the Supreme Council and everybody else. These people have been there so long that I am afraid it will be no easy matter to turn them out, and they have threatened that if they are obliged to evacuate this valuable territory they will not do so until they have destroyed the coal mines on which the prosperity of that district depends. I should like to ask for an assurance that steps will be taken by the Powers to see that this evacuation is carried out satisfactorily.

If the questions I have touched upon are dealt with satisfactorily then this admittedly severe and hard Treaty will at all events be mitigated. I am not ashamed to plead once more that Hungary should be treated, as far as practicable, with humanity and justice. In spite of what the noble Earl has said I maintain that Hungary is the least guilty of our ex-enemy Powers. The secret history of the war has shown that Hungary did not desire to embark on the war, and would have been only too glad to escape from it had there been an opportunity. At all events, the last thing they wanted to do was to fight this country. From my own official knowledge I know that they treated. British subjects better than any other Power, and we owe them something, if only for that. The curious thing is that in spite of all they have gone through these people still retain a most profound and pathetic trust in this country, and the sympathy they feel is not a sympathy between two aristocracies but a genuine admiration for British institutions. Of all the Powers we are the one Power with which they would like to resume commercial relations, and it is not only in the interests of this country but, in the interests of Europe and civilisation generally that Hungary should be restored to some measure of her former power and prosperity.


My Lords, this Treaty is submitted to us as a fait accompli. It is too late to make any change in it though I believe that if the country had known what was being done in Paris we should have been able to evoke public opinion and have prevented a Treaty like this from ever having been concluded. Unfortunately the country was given no opportunity of knowing what was being done, and we are presented now with a Treaty which is impossible to change. There is nothing left except to call attention to, and enter an unavailing protest against, the harshness and injustice which this Treaty displays. In saying this I am not bringing any charge against the Foreign Office. These things were done at Paris. The main decisions were taken there, although, no doubt, some of the later decisions were taken in London—and now the Foreign Office is expected to defend what has been already done.

I have no complaint to make of the tone in which the noble Earl spoke this afternoon. I feel sure that the sympathy he expressed was genuine, and I believe that if the whole of these negotiations had been left to the Foreign Office we should have had a very different Treaty. The Foreign Office may have had comparatively little part in it, but it is obliged to make the best defence it can. What in the world were the causes of the action which Paris took? A good many things have been revealed as to what was done by the Council of Four, and the Council of Ten; revelations which have been sometimes more interesting than discreet. But no one has carried any lamp into these dark corners in which the fate of Hungary was decided. We do not even know what Power it was that exerted its influence to bring about this Treaty, or from what motives it acted.

I read with care what was said in another place in defence of this Treaty, but I could really find nothing of substance in it. The defence seemed to me always to evade the material points and it practically reduced itself to this: that the Allied Powers knew best what was for the good of Hungary and of the world. It was urged also that the questions were very difficult. With the latter statement we all agree. But I think that those who remember the other decisions of importance which were arrived at by these two Councils, and those who see how many of those decisions have already been proved by their results to have been unwise and pernicious, will not be disposed to attach very much weight to the argument that this Treaty comes to us with the authority of those who were assembled in Paris.

Hungary was surely entitled to some more respectful and sympathetic treatment. Hungary is one of the oldest kingdoms in Europe; far older not only than such mushroom states as Prussia and Bavaria, not to speak of Austria, which only came into existence quite lately; but older than old kingdoms like Portugal and Norway, one of the real old great kingdoms of Europe. She has been inhabited by an exceptionally high-spirited and liberty-loving people. She has played a great part in the world, and has striven for many centuries, and on many occasions, for her liberties against the Hapsburgs, and, as the noble Earl has very properly remarked, and as Lord Newton has also pointed out, she has always had the warmest feelings for this country.

In no country did Englishmen receive so warm a welcome. I well remember how in 1866, immediately after the conclusion of the war between Prussia and Austria, although Prussia had then been trying to get the. aid of Hungary, although she had sent Klapka, one of the heroes of 1849, into Hungary to raise a Hungarian force to attack Austria before that country submitted after the battle of KÖniggratt, there was no sympathy in Hungary for Prussia. The feeling expressed was entirely for England, and the hope was always added that if it ever happened to Hungary in the struggle for her liberties, in Which, under the leadership of Deák, she ultimately succeeded, she should have the sympathy of England. I need not tell your Lordships that during the war—I think my noble friend, Lord Newton, referred to this point—there was no country in which British prisoners of war were so well treated. In many cases they were even allowed to go about on parole—a favour which I think was nowhere else extended to British prisoners.

Let me again repeat that I am not aware of any foundation for the allegation that Hungary took a leading part in bringing about the war. That has been constantly stated but upon no sufficient evidence. Ou the contrary, there is evidence to show that Count Tisza, in the consultations which were held before the outbreak of the war, when the ultimatum to Serbia was being considered, did his best to dissuade the strong action that was taken and did all that he could as one man, Prime Minister of Hungary, to prevent the war from being then suddenly entered upon. The truth was that it was a small and mischievous camarilla, in Vienna, in close conjunction with the Germans, whom we have to thank for the war, and not the public opinion or the statesmen of Hungary.

What is it that has now been done to Hungary I do not think the treatment accorded to her could he appreciated without looking at a map. I cannot expect your Lordships to carry in your minds the frontiers of Hungary and the position of the various nationalities that inhabited the territory of the old Hungarian kingdom before the war. This House is not well fitted for the display of a map. I will only say, in the briefest way possible, that the territory of Hungary has been reduced by rather more than one-half and her population has been reduced by a great deal more than one-half, and that from two to three millions of Magyar-speaking Hungarians have been handed over to alien rule. I admit—of course, everybody must admit—that it was impossible to maintain the old Hungary. There were large parts of the Hungarian kingdom which were inhabited by races with a distinct nationality of their own and it was only right that they should be delivered from Magyar control and allowed to join those new States with which they had linguistic and ethnic connection.

I agree, therefore, that it was quite right to set up a Czecho-Slovakia, and that there was a very strong case for letting the people of the Slovak country and the north-west mountainous part of Hungary such as the country around the Tatra range, to go to Czecho-Slovakia with which they had a natural affinity. Geography and ethnology suggested that, and, similarly, I quite agree, and I think everyone who knows the country will agree, that more than half of Transylvania was properly allotted to Rumania, because in the southern and some of the central parts of Transylvania the bulk of the population was Roman in speech and Orthodox in religion.

With regard to the Ruthenes the ease is quite different. The Ruthenes are not the same as the Slovaks or the Czechs, although they are a branch of the Slavonic race. The Ruthenians had long been in close historical connection with Hungary. I have never heard any facts brought forward to show that the Ruthenians were substantially discontented with Magyar rule or had any desire to be taken from Hungary in order to be allotted to the new State of Czecho-Slovakia. I believe that at this moment the Ruthenians would like to be consulted on the question, and the probability is that if something in the nature of a plébiscite were taken, the Ruthenian population would declare it their will to go along with Hungary rather than wish Czecho-Slovakia.

It is, of course, perfectly true, as the noble Earl has observed, that in many parts of Eastern Europe—and the same thing holds good in many of the Balkan countries also—the populations of different speech and race are so closely intermixed and interlaced that it is impossible to place every community under a government of its own race. We must abandon that as hopeless. My case here is that the Conferences at Paris have gone very far beyond that. They seem to have thrown overboard the principles of nationality and self-determination in cases where it was perfectly easy to apply them. Take, for instance, such a case as that of the Szeklers, a population of about 500,000 persons, pure Magyars in every respect and not intermingled with the Rumanians. They are a, compact mass living by themselves in a mountainous country between the frontiers of Moldavia and the Hungarian cities of Koloszvar and Maros Vasarhely.

What reason was there why the frontier should not have been so drawn as to bring the Magyar parts of Transylvania up to the Szekler country, for that region of Transylvania is very largely Magyar. If there were difficulties in doing that, why was not something in the nature of a corridor made which would have enabled them to be in communication with the Magyar population of Northern Transylvania? Or why were not autonomous institutions given to them instead of subjecting this purely Magyar community to the alien and unwelcome rule of the Humans, who have already shown how they are going to use the power unfortunately given to them? I might carry this thing into further detail and show your Lordships how cities like Koloszvar and Arad and Nagy Varad, cities which are almost entirely Magyar, have been given to Rumania merely on the allegation that the rural population in the neighbourhood is to some considerable extent Human. It means that the intelligent, cultivated, well-educated and commercial population of the cities from which light flows out into the country, and from which the peasants gain such civilisation and culture as are obtainable, is given over to the backward population, the higher elements are sacrificed to the lower, and the whole country suffers by having those elements from which progress would proceed being subjected to an alien rule which is likely to leave them down lower than they were becoming under Hungarian rule.

The city of Pressburg has been given to the Czecho-Slovaks, I believe, upon the ground that they ought to have access to the Danube. It is perfectly right that they should have access to the Danube and should have the fullest right of using that great river for the purposes of navigation. But it was not necessary for those purposes to take away territories inhabited chiefly by Magyars and give these over to the Slovaks. The two great Universities of Pressburg and Koloszvar have been taken away from the Magyars. They have lost practically all their forests which were one great source of wealth. The forests lay all along the high mountain country which stretches in a semi-circle round the great Hungarian plain, enclosing it on the North and East. All these forests have been taken away from Hungary and hardly any woodland region of importance now remains to her. In the same way she has lost a great deal of her minerals. To make these changes is to destroy her chances of economic recovery and of developing her manufacturing industries.

I will not take up your time by referring to the letter in which M. Millerand, on behalf of the Allies, stated their case for these changes in the distribution of territories. It comes practically to this, that the Allies could not be troubled to investigate the matter more carefully. What it said in substance was this. "Since we cannot leave Hungary as she was we will do nothing to give Hungary what she ought to have. Because we cannot make a perfect system without making some changes we will take away from Hungary many territories which, upon our own principles, she ought to retain."

It is said that provision will be made for protecting minorities. Now, my Lords, we have some evidence of the way in which minorities are likely to be protected. The Humans, having been called upon, at the end of the war, to drive out Bela Kun and his Bolsheviks; insisted upon retaining a country not theirs. They were allowed by the Allies to retain large parts of Hungary even before the terms of the Treaty had been settled. They immediately proceeded to act with the greatest severity in the territories occupied. They seized the Church property, closed the schools and are now, I believe, compelling children to go to Human schools even when private Hungarian schools have been opened for their benefit. Every effort is being made to expunge the Magyar language and to substitute Human for it. A whole series of petty persecutions— religious persecutions, racial persecutions—has been carried on ever since the Humans have been in the country.

I dare say your Lordships will remember that more than a year ago some of us called the attention of the House to a petition or a memorial signed by the three heads of the three religious communities in Transylvania, Catholics, Calvinists and Unitarians, all pleading for the interference of the Powers to prevent the oppression and injustice to which their religious bodies were being treated. This oppression has gone on, I fear, ever since. I then ventured to ask the Government whether they would not appoint a Commission to investigate the matter, and I see that Lord Newton expresses a hope that that will be done. I should like to know from the Government whether, if they are not satisfied with the information which they received, they will have sonic Inquiry in order that we may know whether at this moment any protection is being given to the minorities mentioned in the Treaty. I feel sonic doubt whether it will be found possible to enforce the protection which the Treaty offers to minorities. We are told that the Leanne of Nations will do it. Has the League the power to do it, or has it the requisite support of the Great Powers of Europe in this matter? All this future is very misty and it may be years before any effective protection is given to those now suffering from the changes which this Treaty sanctions.

I can find only one excuse that has been given for the extraordinarily severe treatment meted out to Hungary, and it is that the Hungarians did before the war abuse their power and oppress, in sonic respects, the subject populations which belonged to the territories of the Hungarian Crown. That is true of all the Powers of Central and Eastern Europe. What' the Hungarians did in those days is not so bad as what the Prussians did in Posen, and far less than what the Czars did in Poland, and what the Humans are doing now. You may go so far as to say that there has been no racial tolerance beyond the Rhine, and I do not see why Hungary should be the only country that is made to suffer for mistakes committed by her rulers among others.

What the Powers are doing is trying to remedy old grievances by creating new ones. These things, as Lord Newton has said, are being done in the teeth of the principles avowed by the Powers when they. entered upon the task of reconstructing Europe. I am not now referring merely to the Fourteen Points of Mr. Wilson. All the Powers ayowed themselves to be entering upon the task of reconstruction with every desire to meet the reasonable wishes of subject populations, and to endeavour to bring about a state of things in which there would be fewer grievances, more contentment, and therefore a tolerable security for peace. These principles have been entirely neglected. If the Powers cared less for justice than for some supposed interests of their own, or if they were so weary of the long and painful task of re-settling the shattered world as to determine to cut things short and do injustice, they might, at any rate, have been expected to care for peace and the prospects of the future.

I frankly welcome the hope that the noble Earl expressed that Hungary would still recover itself. I do not despair of Hungary. After all, that which makes the greatness of a country is the spirit of its people; and the spirit of the Hungarian people is not broken. But we cannot but fear that the provisions which are embodied in this Treaty will create a rankling sense of injustice, an anger, and a bitterness that will lock for the first chance of redressing the wrongs that the Treaty inflicts. Unjust settlements seldom last. Can any one believe that the arrangements embodied in this Treaty are calculated to create peace? They are more likely to sow the seeds of future war, and that at a time when peace is the supreme need of the world.


My Lords, as I gave some slight assistance to my noble friend, Lord Newton, in pressing forward this question of ratification, I should like to take this opportunity of saying that did not do so because I felt I that the Treaty was a good one, but because I felt that, the Treaty having been concluded, it was best for Hungary that it should be ratified as soon as possible, and that tier soil should be free from occupation by Armies of other nations. I remember that when the Treaty of Versailles came before your Lordships' House the noble Earl, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, expressed, or seemed to show, some feeling of surprise—at which did not wonder—that so very few noble Lords addressed the House on that occasion. If I remember rightly, only Lord Buck-master and Lord Bryce did so. I had thought of saying something, but I felt appalled by the task; I felt that it was hopeless at that stage endeavouring to undo anything that that Treaty had done, and that criticism at the moment would do more harm than good. I feel the same about this Treaty, but I should like to add one or two words, because I cannot think that these boundaries will remain aad stand the test of time.

Everybody knows that the difficulty of dividing according to races or languages, or religion, in Eastern Europe ism insuperable. Whatever you do, you must have what may be called an alien element in every country. In those circumstances I believe far the wisest thing would have been to separate whole provinces, such as the kingdom of Slavonia, from Hungary, and not to cut through ancient divisions where people, after all, had got associated with each other in local government and local management. And if I may apply that principle, I apply it in my mind chiefly to the invasion of Hungarian territory from the north—to the addition of large parts of Hungary to Czecho-Slovakia, as it is called. From such information as I have I share the doubt whether Slovaks are so very anxious to be—what they really will be—because they are an inferior race—under, I will not say the domination, but under the supremacy of the Czechs, and how far they will prefer that to being under the supremacy of the Magyars.

Be that as it may, the addition of a large part of Northern Hungary to this new modern creation, Czecho-Slovakia, has the effect of taking a large number of Magyars away from the country with which they have been associated historically and nationally and ethnically ever since Hungary was a kingdom. Bohemia has a very highly respected history. Moravia is a recognised province; the minion of Bohemia and Moravia is, I believe, ancient. Bohemia with Moravia might be a very respected kingdom. Czecho-Slovakia, with all respect to it, reminds me rather of a hyphenated parvenu and a profiteer, at the expense of her neighbour, Hungary. It is useless, I know, saving all these things, because the Treaty is made, and the best that can be clone now is to get a stable condition. But I would urge upon His Majesty's Government four ways in which they can make the burden a little easier for Hungary, and a little less likely to create a permanent soreness, which will make the unrest of Eastern Europe certain.

First of all, the noble Earl made a valuable suggestion, if I may say so, with regard to the Boundary Commission. I hope those Boundary Commissioners will exercise their powers largely and always in favour of Hungary, so that the boundaries of Hungary can be extended. as far as those Commissioners will allow it. Secondly, I am not personally in favour of any of those clauses by which one nation interferes with another and binds another nation to respect the minority of its own people. I wonder what we should have thought, if we had been beaten in the war, and we bad been told to respect minorities in England, Ireland, Wales or, perhaps, Jersey. I am not in favour of them, but, if they are there, let them be enforced all round. And I trust that, as the noble Earl has said there are corresponding minority clauses with respect to Rumania and Serbo-Croatia, there are—though the noble Earl did not seem satisfied about them—similar clauses with respect to Czecho-Slovakia, and I hope His Majesty's Government will do its best to see that those clauses are enforced.

The third thing is reparation. I venture to agree with the noble Earl that we cannot drop the claim for reparation. As a technical claim, as a claim to show that we were right in the war and Hungary was wrong, we must keep it on foot. But I trust that it will be a mere formal judgment for damages and not followed by execution, and that Hungary- will not be further pressed in that matter, even though she be, as she certainly is, much richer than Austria. And the last, and I think perhaps the most important, is that His Majesty's Government should use all its powers to see that the evacuation by the Serbo-Croatian forces and any other forces that there may be there, is not only prompt but is effected without doing damage, and that, as soon as possible, and as safely as possible, Hungary shall recover at least up to the extent of her new boundaries.


My Lords, I perhaps ought, out of respect for the noble Lords who have addressed you with so much authority, to say a few words in reply. The speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Bryce, delivered with his usual fulness of knowledge and experience, was, of course, a very formidable attack upon the Treaty itself. It was not an attack on the Bill now before the House. It was not an attack upon the Foreign Office in London. It was an attack upon the statesmen who, in Paris two years and more ago, drew up this Treaty. I am no more familiar than the noble Lord with all the various reasons and considerations that prevailed with them on that occasion. But I must confess that I see some danger in a situation where, a decision of this sort having been arrived at after consideration far more careful than any of us could possibly give to the case, any noble Lord, even with the great authority of the noble Viscount, is at liberty to come down to this House and sketch out how he would have made the Treaty and how he would have settled the boundaries of Hungary. I dare say I might occupy your Lordships for half an hour in giving you my idea of how the boundaries should have been drawn. But it is vain, and at this period of time, it is futile to do so.

To one general observation of his, however, I should like to object, and that is where he says that this Treaty was composed in the teeth of the principles upon which the League of Nations is founded and which were advocated by President Wilson. The Hungarian Treaty was placed before, was examined by, and was accepted by President Wilson, and really what the noble Viscount means I do not quite understand. He takes a particular area in which there is a minority, an admitted minority of Magyars, who are handed over, for reasons which I have endeavoured to explain, to a new State in which there is a very much larger element of another population, and the noble Viscount calls that a violation of the principles of the League of Nations. Surely, if things had been left as they were, if it was not the majority but the minority that was allowed to prevail and they were to be left under Hungary, that would be a much greater violation of the principles for which the noble Viscount contends than anything that has happened in this Treaty.


As the noble Earl has appealed to me perhaps he will allow me to explain what I meant. I had endeavoured to show the House that I conceive, as everybody, I think, conceives who embraces the principles of nationality and at the same time understands the conditions of Central Europe, that it was necessary to take large territories away from Hungary, that a great part of Transylvania, part of Northern Hungary and part of South-western Hungary had to be taken away from Hungary. All the criticism I have ventured to make was that in doing so many areas were taken from Hungary which need not have been taken, but could have been left to her, if a more careful examination of details had been made, and if more attention had been given to the geographical and historical conditions which had connected these parts with the Hungarian race, and had not connected them with the other races to whom they now have been allotted. I hope I have made clear to the noble Lord what I meant.


I am very glad to hear the noble Viscount attenuate to so remarkable a degree the force of the criticisms to which we have listened.


I thought I had made clear from the first what I have now said.


I am glad I have given the noble Viscount an opportunity to make it clear. But even taking him on his own ground, as I understand he was not so much enunciating a general principle as he was applying criticism to particular cases. Taking his own eases in a sentence or two, he referred to the Szeklers, that small community of people admittedly and wholly. Magyars, away in Transylvania, and he said: "Because these people are Magyars what an outrage to sever them from the Magyar population of Hungary.'' He did not tell your Lordships that this small community of 500,000 people, hidden away like an islet in Transylvania, cannot possibly be connected by any means whatever with Hungary, and that it was impossible to construct an ethnic corridor between them and the Magyars of Hungary.

Then take the other case of Pressburg. It was a very difficult case. It was most carefully examined. At the same time as a matter of fact Pressbarg has a predominating non-Magyar population. Admittedly there is in the neighbouring area a population which was largely—I dare say even more than largely— almost exclusively Magyar, which had to be handed over. What is the present position and condition of that area? I believe the people are content. I believe they are satisfied with their present position.


Not in Pressburg.


No; in the Magyar area to which I refer. Take the case of Ruthenia. The noble Viscount was very confident that the Ruthenians were dissatisfied with their present position. He may have superior information to that which comes to me, but that is not our information at the Foreign Office. They have been given autonomy. They have a separate existence. It is true it is part of the Czecho-Slovakian State, but I have no reason to suppose that they are burning to go back to the country or the Government by which they were so consistently ill-treated in the past.

The only other point to which I need refer I think is the question which was put to me by more than one noble Lord and which certainly is of great importance with us now that the Treaty is about to be ratified—the evacuation of Pecs and the Baranya by the Yugo-Slays. I think it is very likely that the Yugo-Slays have utilised their period of occupation of that country to behave in an oppressive way. I dare say they found it attractive to be in possession of the coalfields and, for all I know, they may have taken steps to render their occupation as long as they could conveniently make it. But now that the Treaty is about to be ratified that must come to an end. The Ambassadors' Conference in Paris have already addressed a note to the Yugo-Slav Government warning them that the Treaty is about to come into force and expressing the hope that the arrangements for evacuation are complete. I do not think a reply has yet been received, but have no reason to believe, that the reply will be unfavourable, or that the evacuation will be delayed. Should there be any intimation of that character, I need hardly assure my noble friend that every pressure will be put upon them by His Majesty's Government.

On Question, Bill read 2ª and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.