HL Deb 11 May 1921 vol 45 cc294-6

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a Third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read3ª.(Earl Curzon of Kedleston.)


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether the Government is prepared, as soon as possible, to appoint the Boundary Commissions which, under the Treaty, are to be appointed to settle finally the boundaries of Hungary? In M. 1fillerand's Note to the Hungarian Government great stress was laid on the work that these Commissions might perform in mitigating some of the ethnical and economic grievances of Hungary, and it would be of great value if His Majesty's Government could give an assurance that these Commissions will get to work as soon as possible, in order that some of the hardships inflicted upon Hungary under the Treaty may be removed.


My Lords, may I also ask the noble Ear] one question? The reason why this Bill has to come before Parliament at all is that it deals with questions of private property and—I will not use the word confiscation— with certain interferences with ex-enemy property. Many cases have come to my notice in which there is great hardship. I am aware that these cases have been recognised to some extent, but that recognition does not seem to have gone far enough. I am not speaking in an antagonistic spirit; but it is a matter which may remove friction, if it could be dealt with in a kindlier and more generous spirit. No country is more interested in preserving the ordinary security of property in international matters than this country, and therefore, wish to ask whether the noble Earl thinks there is a possibility of a more generous treatment of this question.


My Lords, I find difficulty in giving a definite reply to the noble and learned Lord, for the reason that I am not personally familiar with the cases to which he refers. I attach great weight to his representations, and will look into the matter at the Foreign Office. With regard to the question of Lord Sydenham, I think the noble Lord was not here when I moved the Second Reading of the Bill and alluded to the particular concession made by the Allies, and announced to the Hungarian Government in the letter of M. Millerand, to which reference has been made, with regard to possible modifications of the frontier. The noble Lord will be aware that the. Boundary Commissions cannot he appointed until the Treaty has been ratified and conies into operation. We have been taking the final stages for ratification. There remains ratification by the French Government which, I hope, will not be long postponed. I heard only yesterday, somewhat to my surprise, that the Japanese Government have not yet ratified the Treaty. For what reason I do not know.

Ratification by all the Parties concerned is not necessary to bring the Treaty into operation, and I need hardly assure the noble Lord that, from our point of view, the sooner these Boundary Commissions are set in movement the better. I am not quite certain that in practice they will be found to have the far-reaching influence which the noble Lord and some other friends of Hungary anticipate. But that does not rest with the Powers. It rests with the League of Nations. The Report of the Boundary Commissions as to any changes is to be made to them. They are the body who will look into the matter; it only remains for us to put that stage into operation with as little delay as possible.

On Question, Bill read 3ª, and passed.