HL Deb 09 November 1921 vol 47 cc229-45

LORD NEWTON had given Notice to ask if the Czecho-Slovak and Yugo-Slav Governments have insisted upon the complete exclusion of the Hapsburg dynasty from the Hungarian throne, and demanded the reimbursement of their mobilisation expenses by the Hungarian Government; and whether these demands have received the approval of the Great Powers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in putting the Question which appears upon the Paper, I desire not only to obtain an answer from the Government with regard to the point mentioned in the Question, but also to take this opportunity of calling attention to the gross injustice which is being inflicted upon a small and helpless nation. Every one is familiar with the history of the recent adventure of the ex-Emperor, and is also aware that his criminal attempt has ignominously failed. I use the word "criminal" purposely, because I cannot think of any other adjective which sufficiently expresses the conduct of a luau who is prepared, literally, to run the risk of the complete obliteration of his own country in order to gratify his personal ambition. The surprising thing to me is that he should have found accomplices in his criminal endeavour. The ex-Emperor is now on his way to a health resort where, presumably, he will finish his days, and I do not know that we need waste any further sympathy upon him.

What I am anxious to do is to point out that the attempt., this dangerous attempt, failed owing to the prompt and decisive action which Was taken by the much-abused Government of Admiral Horthy. It is no exaggeration to say that the decisive and resolute action of Admiral Horthy and his Government saved Central Europe from a fresh conflagration. In ordinary circumstances we might have expected that such action would have been received with a certain amount of gratitude on the part of other Governments, but instead of that about ten days ago—the exact date is October 30—the Prime Minister of Czecho-Slovakia, Dr. Bones who enjoys a high reputation as a statesman, in conjunction with the Yugo-Slav Government, launched an ultimatum at the Hungarian Government in which he stated that orders had been given for the mobilisation of their armies; that they were on their way to the Hungarian frontier, and that unless the Hungarian Government, within about forty-eight hour., absolutely excluded the Hapsburg dynasty from the Hungarian Throne these troops would enter Hungary. He added that he would demand from Hungary the reimbursement of their mobilisation expenses.

An ultimatum of this kind reminds one of the sort of ultimatum which 2,000 years ago the Romans must have handed to the Carthaginians, and with regard to the demand for reimbursement of their mobilisation expenses the parallel which suggests itself is that of a burglar who, having been foiled of his purpose, sends in a bill for the implements he bought in order to carry out his design. Even the Great Powers, who are prepared to stand a great deal from the so-called Little Entente, were staggered by this ultimatum. They seem to have suggested to Dr Benes that upon the whole he was rather unreasonable in asking for the expenses of mobilisation; but they appear to have acquiesced in the demand for the complete exclusion of the Hapsburg dynasty. To me this ultimatum came as a great surprise, because not long since I had a conversation with Dr. Benes, who assured me that his sentiments towards Hungary were of the most friendly description. He showed his friendliness in the ultimatum by stating that as he did not wish to ruin the country entirely he was prepared to accept his expenses partly in kind.

The demand relating to the exclusion of the Hapsburg family seems to have received the support of the Great Powers. In connection with this matter I do not think that the position of Hungary is properly understood in this country. It may sound strange to some people here, but the Hungarians undoubtedly desire a Monarchy. They want to have a King, and at the present moment they have not got one. In place of a King they have a substitute in the person of Admiral Horthy, who, far from being the ogre he is sometimes described in the Press of this country, is a high-minded, honourable man, who has no taste for public life and who retains his position from a strong sense of duty. Like all Hungarians I have met, he is a Legitimist and in favour of the restoration of the Monarchy.

The difficulty of the position is that Admiral Horthy is merely Regent and has no successor. Oddly enough, a few days before the attempt of the ex-Emperor, I was discussing with Admiral Horthy the question of the restoration of the Monarchy. I put this question to him. I said: "Suppose anything were to happen to you; suppose you were to disappear from public life, and suppose—it is a disagreeable supposition—you were unfortunately to be assassinated, what would then happen to the country? "His reply was:" I have not the smallest idea." The answer I got to this inquiry from all other persons was that in all probability there would be civil war because it would he impossible to agree upon his successor.

In the circumstances is it surprising that the Hungarian nation should desire a settled form of government? And naturally, they desire to select their future King from the existing dynasty. What, other nation would do otherwise? Supposing we had lost the war, and the demand had been made that we should exclude perpetually the House of Windsor because of some imaginary offence committed by some member of that family. What should we do? Should we not protest against any such decision and do our utmost to retain the existing dynasty? If you are not allowed to choose from the existing or reigning dynasty it is quite plain that in the case of Hungary they would be obliged to have recourse to a foreign nation to supply a ruler because there is no such thing as a Hungarian ruling dynasty.

But what precedent is there in history for any demand of this kind? If a dynasty is to be made to suffer for the acts of an individual then no human individual ever caused so much suffering in this world in recent times as the first Napoleon, but so far as I know no attempt was ever made to exclude the Bonaparte family from holding any public position in France or elsewhere. Take a more recent case. Not many years ago we deposed a Khedive of Egypt. We made no stipulation that his family should be excluded. We deposed another Khedive, and no stipulation of the kind was made in that case. Take a still more recent case. At this moment the ruler of Greece is King Constantine, who certainly was not considered to be a friend of the Entente during the war. He is, apparently, firmly re-established on his throne. But there is another far more striking case, that of Bulgaria. I have myself always doubted whether individuals were as much responsible for this war as is generally believed, but if there was one individual who was more responsible than another for the intervention of any country in the war, then clearly, to my mind, it was Ferdinand of Bulgaria. King Ferdinand is gone; he has retired into obscurity. But his son reigns in his stead, and I have not learnt that there is the smallest intention of interfering with him.

How long is it, I should like to know, since it was discovered that the members of the Hapsburg family are enemies of the human race? The late Emperor Francis Joseph was never accused of grave offences against what I think was called the morality of the world, as was done in the case of the German Emperor. My own acquaintance with royal personages is comparatively limited, but I am acquainted with some members of the Hapsburg family, and I should describe them as being very much like anybody else, neither more dangerous nor more intelligent than other people, and, I should have imagined, thoroughly inoffensive. And what harm has this: family ever done to this country? To my mind it is absurd and grotesque to suppose that some obscure, or hitherto obscure, member of the Hapsburg family could not be selected without danger to European peace if he were placed upon the throne of Hungary,

The chief objection, so far as I am able to ascertain it, to the Hapsburg family is that they have acted as the tools of the Hohenzollern family. I cannot imagine any family which would bear less good will towards the Hohenzollern family than the Hapsburg because they have been ruined through following the lead of the Hohenzollerns, and if people in this country were acquainted, as I happen to be, with the circumstances of the Hohenzollern and the Hapsburg families and the miserable position which they occupy at the present moment, there would be very much less rubbish written about them than appears in the papers now.

The point, after all, is how on earth can you reconcile a demand of this nature with the principle about which we have heard so much, the principle of self-determination It seems to me—I do not know whether it would strike other noble Lords in the same way—to be a gross and almost intolerable interference with the interior government of a free nation. The whole idea underlying the fear that the return of a member of the Hapsburg family is a danger to Europe is constructed upon a well-prepared myth, a myth which is most carefully fostered by a portion of the Press here. That myth consists in endeavouring to persuade people that Hungary is a militarist and dangerous Power which is a permanent source of trouble to its neighbours As a matter of fact—I am tired of repeating it, but must say it once more— Hungary, not very long ago, was a prosperous and comparatively large nation, but at the present moment she is a small, bankrupt nation, consisting of about 6,000,000 people, the bulk of whom are agriculturists. They have an army of a sort, which amounts, I believe, or did amount a short time ago, to something like 30,000 men, hardly equipped at all, and this totally inadequate force is in process of being destroyed by one of those numerous International Commissions which batten upon these bankrupt countries. In a short time, if the recommendations of these Commissions are carried out, they will probably have no army at all.

And yet it is seriously contended that this bankrupt State, with its miserable nominal army of 30,000 unequipped men, is a danger to its neighbours. What are these neighbours? Hungary is practically surrounded by three Powers— Rumania, Czecho-Slovakia and Yugo-Slavia. Each of these nations is very nearly three times the size of Hungary, and each of these nations, in clear defiance of the immortal principles initiated by President Wilson, persists in devoting an enormous proportion of its expenditure to keeping up a large army. Each of these nations could, if necessary, put in the field something like a million men. And yet they have the audacity to pretend that Hungary is a danger to them. I venture to say that no more impudent fabrication has ever been circulated throughout Europe than this statement that Hungary is a danger to its neighbours. The plain truth is that Hungary is not a danger to its neighbours, but that Hungary's neighbours are a danger to Hungary. I am myself convinced that the failure of the ex-Emperor has been a profound disappointment to these nations, because they were going to make it an excuse to occupy, and further to divide and mutilate, that unhappy country.

We seem—or at least a certain proportion of persons seem—to have worked ourselves into a frame of mind in which we consider that an ex-Ally cannot possibly do any wrong, and that an ex-enemy cannot possibly be in the right. That is a doctrine to which I do not subscribe, and never intend to subscribe. In this case I contend that a profound injustice is contemplated, and that if injustice, or acts of tyranny, or oppression, or aggression are contemplated or acted upon by ex-Allies, we ought to dissociate ourselves from them. If we do not do so, if we do not insist upon justice between one nation and another being properly adhered to, then we are only preparing for fresh trouble in Europe.


My Lords, I agree with every word my noble friend has said, except that I should not perhaps have condemned ex-Emperor Karl in quite such severe terms as he has done, because I cannot help feeling that he must have been grievously misled by some of his friends. I hope His Majesty's Government will take this opportunity of making perfectly clear their attitude in regard to this very grave matter. What are the simple facts that my noble friend so well explained? The ex-Emperor Karl made a sudden air-raid on the throne of Hungary. The Hungarian Government, acting with rare promptitude, arrested him and handed him over to our custody. I assume that. the Hungarian people cannot wish the ex-Emperor Karl to he their King, but if they did, I cannot see the slightest moral right on our part to object. If we do object, as my noble friend said, the dynamite-charged phrase which President Wilson adopted must by this time have exploded itself and be disregarded for ever more.

It was the Hungarian Government alone which was concerned with this putsch, and it acted exactly as the Entente Powers must always have expected and have desired. What followed the perfectly correct behaviour of the Hungarian Government? As my noble friend has said, the Little Entente, of which I am sure we shall hear more in the future, instantly began to get extremely excited. It light-heartedly issued an ultimatum and threatened an invasion, and it made demands, including reparations for the cost of its own mobilisation, which were to my mind unjustifiable and wholly improper. This action on the part of the Little Entente seems to me to he perfectly intolerable. If the ex-Emperor had ascended the throne and declared war, the Little Entente could not have done more than it did when the whole operation failed.

On Friday last Count Bethlen, the Premier of Hungary, said this— The attempt of the ex-Emperor was not the cause but the pretext for intervention on the part of her neighbours, who had endeavoured to put forward demands far beyond the question at issue. That is absolutely true, and no one can contradict it. He added this— It must now at least be evident to the eyes of all Europe that it was not Hungary, whose only safeguard lay in strict adherence to the Trianon Treaty, who endangered the peace of Europe, but the ambitions of her neighbours. Now, the Little Entente is largely built up out of the fragments of Hungary, distributed among its members by the Great Entente. Two of its members have kings of their own, and one of them objects to Hungary having a king if she wishes. This member is, of course, Serbia, which has succeeded in destroying the centuries-long independence of Montenegro, and is now busily engaged in attacking Albania.

It is interesting to note that both Serbia and Albania are members of the League of Nations, and this is the first case of one member of that body gratuitously attacking another; and I was very glad to see, today, that the Prime Minister had telegraphed to the League of Nations, drawing its attention to these most outrageous proceedings, and asking the League to do j something. We are informed by Reuter, if it is any satisfaction, that "the Secretariat is making the necessary arrangements." I only hope that these arrangements will succeed, and I am sure that we shall watch what happens with the greatest anxiety and interest.

The noble Lord most wisely made personal investigation on his own account of the conditions arising in the countries which have been torn away from Hungary, and he now knows what is happening in Transylvania and elsewhere. I should not, I think, be in order in discussing this question of Hungary, or that of the Burgenland, to-day, but I hope that these matters will be fully discussed by the House on a suitable occasion.

The work of the conference at Versailles was enormously difficult, but there was just one outstanding certainty which any member of the Conference ought to have been able to grasp. A strong Hungary was the best safeguard against any future aggressive ambition on the part of Germany, and it was also a great safeguard against Bolshevism, which is a much more immediate danger than any which can be expected from Germany. But the Conference decided to weaken Hungary as much as possible and to make her economic position doubtful. Since the Treaty was signed a most vicious propaganda has been carried on in this country against. Hungary, and the sources of that propaganda are perfectly evident. All news from Central Europe just now ought to be regarded with the greatest caution. Meanwhile, my impression is that the independence of Hungary is guaranteed by the Treaty of Trianon— that is, the independence of the little left of Hungary—and I hope His Majesty's Government will rigidly adhere to that guarantee and in conjunction with all the other Entente Powers succeed in keeping the Little Entente in some sort of order.


My Lords, I am very glad that the question of the exclusion of the House of Hapsburg from the throne of Hungary has been raised in this House, because I should be glad to know how His Majesty's Government can reconcile it with the principle of self-determination, about which we have heard so much of late. I am sorry that I could not agree entirely with Lord Newton. I must confess to a certain amount of sympathy with the Emperor Karl. From the time that he succeeded to the throne I believe he did his very best to come to terms with the Great Entente. It is common knowledge that he made advances to Monsieur Clemenceau, and, in addition to that, negotiations were carried on in the year 1917 when, I believe, it is a fact that the Entente Powers were quite willing to allow him to remain on the Throne if he separated from Germany. If the Emperor on that occasion, instead of acting as a. constitutional monarch and being guided by his responsible Ministers, had acted as an absolute monarch, he would probably have been on the throne of Austria-Hungary at the present time. What is chiefly urged against him is that on a recent occasion he broke his plighted word to Switzerland.




So far we have only heard one side of the question. We have heard what has been said by the Swiss Federal Government, and. we have hail no opportunity of hearing the Emperor's defence, but we know it was said by the Prime Minister, in the very eloquent speech he made last week, that in this country, at any rate, every subject of the King is supposed to be innocent until he is proved to be guilty. I think it is a very curious thing, in connection with the very short campaign of the Emperor Karl, that a boycott does exist with regard to what took place. I do not know if your Lordships have noticed it, but there were most meagre accounts of what happened from the time the Emperor landed in Hungary until he was taken therefrom.


They stopped everything at Vienna.


It is evident that there must have been Proclamations to the army and appeals to the people, and yet not one word has reached us here. On the occasion of his leaving the soil of Hungary he addressed a few words to those present, in which he said he had friendly feelings towards the Entente Powers, or at any rate, that he was not unfriendly towards them. We are told that part of the message has been censored by Austria. I should like to know what authority she has to censor a message from Hungary to the Press of the United Kingdom. I must confess that I regret very much that this country should have acted as gaoler to the ex-Emperor and ex-Empress on this occasion and that a British ship should now be taking them to their. St. Helena, because although it may be said that Madeira is a charming island, as I know it to be, yet I do not think that any one of your Lordships would wish to be interned there for the remainder of his life.

There is a much more important question raised than that of whether we behaved well or badly to the ex-Emperor of Austria, and that is whether we had any right to say that the Hapsburg dynasty shall be excluded from the throne of that Kingdom. We have some experience ourselves of deposing kings. We deposed James the Second, and we were careful to settle the proper grounds on which we could base our claim to depose him. So far as I remember, the claim was that by fleeing from the country he had abdicated the Throne. On the coronation of the King he enters into a contract with his people, as I suppose King Karl did when he was crowned. Since then he certainly has not fled the country with any free will, and so far as I know he has not broken the laws o that country. Therefore, it seemed very hard to ask that the Hungarian Parliament should pass a Bill deposing him from the throne of that Kingdom.

I hope your Lordships will remember that when we deposed a king we were careful to choose the nearest relation of that sovereign who was suitable to succeed to the throne of these Realms, because we realised that loyalty is connected with a special family; that it is only if a king belongs to a family which is part of the nation itself that feelings of loyalty, affection and respect can exist. It is perfectly impossible that similar feelings should be aroused in the case of Admiral Korthy if he should be elected to the throne of Hungary, a position which I understand he has no desire to hold. It seems to me that we are dealing a very dangerous blow to the monarchic principle, and one which, as the noble Lord has pointed out, if circumstances had been reversed and we had lost the war, might have been applied with equal force to this country.

And I should like to know whether this veto applies only to the House of Hapsburg? Supposing that the people of Hungary, if they were obliged to go abroad for a sovereign, were to choose the Crown Prince of Bavaria, would he be accepted by us, or are we again to put on a veto, and say he is not a persona grata; or, supposing their choice fell upon Prince Eitel Fritz of Prussia. In fact, the whole of our contention is in absolute opposition to the principle of self-determination. I regret very much that we have taken up this position, and I hope that we shall act on the principles of self-determination, and allow Hungary, irrespective of the wishes of the neighbouring mushroom Republics which we have set up, to select her own Ruler.


My Lords, I regard this matter as a very grave one— so grave that I regret that we do not see the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his place; I have no doubt there is some very urgent public reason for it. I dare say preparations have been made for answering the Question and the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Newton, and no doubt that duty will be admirably discharged by the noble Earl (Lord Crawford) who will take the noble Marquess's place But I should have liked the noble Marquess to have heard what has fallen from the various members of your Lordships' House upon this subject.

I speak as an international lawyer, and I want to know what authority there is for either the Great Powers or the little Powers to tell Hungary whom she shall or shall not have for king, or whether she shall have a king or not. I thought I must be mistaken, and that there must be something in the Treaty of Trianon by which Hungary had bound herself—as, of course, she might —not to take the Emperor Karl, or not to take a Hapsburg as a Ruler.


There is nothing in it.


I may be mistaken—it is a very long Treaty—but I read through it as far as I could, and I cannot find anything in it to that effect. I am not aware that there in any protocol or any arrangement—certainly none which has been submitted to your Lordships' House—under which any bargain of that kind has ever been made with Hungary. I thought that we fought the war for the sake of self-determination and the protection of little countries, and we are now apparently ending the war by allowing a small country to be oppressed by its neighbours and, indeed, by putting the pistol to her head ourselves.

I thought there was such a thing as the League of Nations, and I thought that Czecho-Slovakia and Serbo-Croatia and Hungary all belonged to the League of Nations. And, having had occasion, as your Lordships may know, to make a profound study of that subject, I thought I remembered that one of the clauses most binding in the Covenant was that no two nations, members of the League, should go to war without first submitting the matter to the Council or to the Court; and here I hear of one of these States launching an ultimatum and threatening to invade Hungary. I remember also that every one of the nations who are Members of the League have guaranteed the territorial integrity of every other, but I hear of one of these nations threatening to invade Hungary, without attempting to put the matter either before the Council or before the Court.

I cannot conceive what business we or any nation have to tell Hungary whether she shall be a Kingdom or a Republic. There is no crime in being a king; there is no crime in having a Kingdom. After all, Italy, Belgium, and Great Britain, three Allied countries, all have kings. What should we say if the United States and France and Portugal were to say that there ought no longer to be a King of Great Britain? Or suppose—as they would be afraid to attack a powerful nation—that they were to say there should be no King of Belgium, like the King whom we know and so greatly admire? I think the strongest protest should be made against any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Hungary and a still further protest should be made against the apparent intention. to violate the Covenant of the League of Nations.

I say nothing about the ex-Emperor Karl. As between himself and his people they have a right to say that they will not have him as Emperor, and it was foolish —and in such matters folly is criminal— for him to attempt to resume his Kingdom, unless he was quite certain that all his people, or the great majority of his people, demanded it, as apparently they did not. But why, if they had chosen to have him, we should interfere, or why we should say, if they hereafter choose to have him, that they should not, or why we should say that there should not be any member of the House of Hapsburg on the throne, I am at a loss to conceive.

And I would add, for your Lordships' information, one word more. I always thought, and I still think—I thought it at the time; it is no after-thought— that there was no more mistaken cry than the cry that the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs should be removed. As regards the Hohenzollerns, the case is not so strong, though I believe we should be much better off with a chastened and a chastised Emperor on the throne of Germany, and the nation would be a much more steady nation, and we should be much more likely to get our money paid and the peace preserved if we had left him there. But I pass by the Hohenzollerns, and I come to the Hapsburgs. I feel quite certain that we should have had a much steadier position in Austria reduced, and Hungary doubly reduced, if we had allowed the Emperor to remain on the throne.

And, as for supposing that it is the natural iniquity of the Hapsburgs that will make Hungary unsettled, no one who has followed the groans of Hungary at the way in which she has been treated, and who knows how France resented being deprived of Alsace and Lorraine, and how the guerre de revanche was only put off until it could no longer be postponed, could believe that those evils would ensue from having Hapsburgs on the throne. We have allowed Hungary to be so stripped and so narrowed that we must expect unrest in that quarter, and I am very much afraid, unless the League of Nations interferes, that there will be war within a generation. But whether that be so or not, Hungary would not be in the least more likely to go to war if she had a Hapsburg on the throne than if she remained under a Regency. I earnestly support all the observations made by the noble Lord who brought this matter to your Lordships' attention.


My Lords, the Question on tire Paper is very precise and self-contained, and I certainly am not prepared to enter upon a number of very disputatious matters such as we have heard this afternoon. Neither need I follow my noble friend, Lord Newton, into the records, all too short, of Iris vivacious conversations with the princes and statesmen of Central Europe. I cannot really argue, I am not in a position to argue, with your Lordships whether it is the case that Hungary was a safeguard against German aggression—I should have thought a very controversial statement— or whether Hungary was a military nation or not—I should have thought a very controversial proposition. Still less am in a position to argue with Lord Oranmore and Browne whether he is right in inferring that the ex-Emperor did not break his parole on two occasions in appearing on Hungarian territory from his Swiss residence.

And, like Lord Phillimore, I, too, must pass by the Hohenzollerns. I really am not in a position to discuss that question, and I do not; suppose the Secretary of State, if he were here, would consent offhand to mike a statement upon the whole range of Central European policy which has been raised this afternoon, about the general rights of Monarchy, the League of Nations, self-determination, and very important considerations of that character. Therefore, I must ask your Lordships to allow me to reply in specific tennis to the two very simple and direct Questions which are on the Paper in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Newton.

The demands made of Hungary by the Czecho-Slovak and Yugo-Slav Governments were made known to the Conference of Ambassadors on October 29. These demands included the forfeiture of the crown by the whole Hapsburg family, and the payment by the Hungarian Government of the mobilisation expenses. The Conference of Ambassadors drew the attention of the Czecho-Slovak and Yugo-Slav Governments to the fact that the principal Allied Powers had themselves already endorsed the former demand in a declaration issued from Paris on behalf of the Allied Governments in February, 1920, which stated that "the Powers cannot admit that the restoration of the Hapsburg dynasty can be considered merely as a matter interesting the Hungarian nation, and hereby declare that such a restoration would be at variance with the whole basis of the Peace settlement, and would be neither recognised nor tolerated by them." The text of this declaration was communicated at the time officially to the Hungarian as well as to the Czecho-Slovak and Yugo-Slav Governments, and published in the Press. It was repeated in April last, on the occasion of the King's former attempt to regain the throne.

As regards the demand for the payment by Hungary of mobilization expenses; the Allied Governments have intimated that they cannot admit that it; is justified in the circumstances.


My Lords, I may he permitted to say, perhaps, that I really think the Foreign Office treat this matter with much too little concern. We all have sufficient evidence of the extravagant way in which the Government time after time depart from those great principles enunciated by President Wilson in the celebrated Fourteen Points, the principal one of which was, perhaps, the assertion of the right of self-determination. I am not going to reflect on other Governments, who seem to have no principles at all to guide them, but I am ashamed to say that our Government set so little store by these solemn professions that time after time they have absolutely disregarded the whole principle of self-determination.

Self-determination surely means that the people of the country affected have the right to choose their own form of government. I am not a supporter of the Hapsburg dynasty. I really do not know whether it is one that is desirable in the interests of the people of the old Austrian Empire, or of Hungary, or of Austria. I am not going to discuss that matter, because it is one for those people, and for them alone. It is not a matter in which we have the smallest right, as it seems to me, to interfere without absolutely disregarding the principle of self-determination.

We do these things in the most haphazard fashion. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, rightly pointed out, there was no reference whatever to this matter in the original Treaty of Trianon This was an afterthought, suggested, I believe, as most of these evil suggestions are, in the hopelessly imperialistic atmosphere of Paris, after which the declaration was made in February of last year, I think it was, that the Powers would not assent to the restoration of the Hapsburg dynasty under any consideration. Surely that was a new departure— a departure which, before it was promulgated, ought to have been properly considered by this country. Parliament ought to have been apprised of it, because it was a very vital inroad upon the principle of self-determination.

For all I know, the people of Hungary, had they been freely consulted and allowed full liberty, would have refused to restore the Hapsburg dynasty; I have no knowledge whatever on the subject. On the other hand, they might have consented to the restoration. But I protest most vehemently against this constant invasion of a principle which we, of all countries, ought carefully to protect. It is intolerable that there should be these announcements that certain things have been done by certain Powers—to which, unfortunately, we weakly assent—which are a derogation, as it seems to me, of our good faith and, far from confirming us in the good opinion of the civilised world. only go to show that the British people have no longer an independent judgment in these matters, and are no longer guided by those high principles which used to be their safeguard.


My Lords, I have no desire to make a further speech on this subject. I only wish to comment on the fact that it appears to be the view of my noble friend that because this particular demand was put forward something like a year ago, it is, therefore, justifiable and it is not right to protest against it now. To my mind the date makes no difference at all. What is the justification for it? I want to know what the reason for it is. Either the great Powers, in what I would almost venture to call their foolishness, put this proposal forward on their own account, or it must have been suggested to them by the Little Entente. There is not a word about it in the Treaty. If it were in the Treaty it would be a totally different matter. As it is, the proposal seems to me absolutely indefensible, and I adhere to the belief that it is part of a deliberate plot. I believe that this decision has been formulated at the prompting of the Little Entente in order to create an impossible situation in Hungary. If you are going to insist that these people are not to be allowed freely to choose their own monarch, w hat will result? It will, of course, result in internal disturbance just as it would here or in any other country. And if there is internal disturbance in Hungary, that will be an opportunity for the hostile Powers to intervene and, as I said in the course of my previous speech, further to mutilate and destroy this unfortunate country.