HL Deb 11 May 1921 vol 45 cc290-2

My Lords, I understand that the noble Earl, the Foreign Secretary, has some statement to make relating to the acceptance which has been made by Germany of the terms arranged at the Allied Conference, and I trust therefore that he will be willing to make it.


My Lords, it is with pleasure that I inform the House that this morning the German Ambassador in London called upon the Prime Minister and handed to him, as the President of the last meeting of the Allied Conference which assembled in London only a week or two ago, the following statement on behalf of the new German Government which has now been formed, and that statement I will now read: —

" In accordance with instructions just received, I am commanded by my Government, in accordance with the decision of the Reichstag and with reference to the Resolution of the Allied Powers of the 5th of May, 1921, in the name of the new German Government to declare, as desired, the following:—

" The German Government are resolved—

  1. (1)To carry out, without reserve or condition, their obligations as defined by the Reparation Commission:
  2. (2)To accept and to carry out, without reserve or condition, the guarantees in respect of those obligations prescribed by the Reparation Commission:
  3. (3)To carry out, without reserve or delay, the measures of military, naval, and aerial disarmament, notified to the German Government by the Allied Powers in their Note of January 29, 1921, those overdue being completed at once and the remainder by the prescribed dates:
  4. (4)To carry out, without reserve or delay, the trial of the war criminals, and to execute the other unfulfilled portions of the Treaty referred to in the first paragraph of the Note of the Allied Governments of the 5th of May.

" I ask the Allied Powers to take note immediately of this Declaration."

Your Lordships will observe that this is a complete and unconditional acceptance of the terms of the Declaration, sometimes called the ultimatum, which was handed by our Prime Minister to the German Ambassador, as the result of the proceedings that took place in London ten days ago.

That Declaration I read out to the House at the time, and your Lordships will have it in your recollection, and will see that this is an absolute and unconditional acceptance of the precise terms of the Resolution which I then read out. We have taken steps at once to communicate this decision to the representatives of the Allied Powers who are in London, and to their Governments at the various capitals of Europe. The news, therefore, will be in everybody's possession, and, from my recollection of what was said in the debate, it is a result which your Lordships will have pleasure in hearing this afternoon.


Hear, hear.


I am sure that your Lordships and the country generally will hear with relief of the conclusion which has been reached by the absolutely unreserved acceptance by Germany of the terms that were agreed on at the last Conference in London and presented to Germany. It is unnecessary now to dwell on the relief which many of us feel in the fact that no further armed occupation of any part of Germany will occur. We developed, during the debate we had in the House, our strong sense of the misfortune to the whole of Europe which such a further occupation would be, and it is therefore an extreme-relief that it has been averted. In particular, as the noble Earl will recall from what I said on the last occasion, the absolute and unconditional agreement by Germany to proceed with the complete measure of disarmament which has been demanded is in the highest degree satisfactory. There is no part of the Treaty of Versailles regarding which it was more necessary that the obligation should be carried out to the full.

I note that, although the final acceptance by Germany of the terms has been so satisfactorily unconditional, it was not arrived at, as was perhaps natural, until after discussions and a difference of opinion in the Reichstag, and was finally carried by a moderate, although sufficient majority, of, I think, 46. It may be assumed, I hope, that that majority, being what it is, represents the settled determination of the German people to act up to the obligations which they have once more undertaken and reasserted, so that we trust there will be no further necessity for representations on the part of the Allies. The past cannot be wiped out, but, although it must be long before relations of amity in the full sense, still more of cordiality, can be arrived at between the two countries, I hope that the relations between ourselves and Germany in the future may be marked by complete correctness on both sides, and by a sentiment between the two countries not altogether unfriendly.