HL Deb 09 March 1922 vol 49 cc407-8

My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government a Question of which I have given private notice: Whether the publication of the telegram from the Government of India, stating their views with regard to the conditions of peace in the Near East, took place with the knowledge or approval of His Majesty's Government, and, if not, what course His Majesty's Government propose to take.


My Lords, I understand that this telegram was published by the Government of India with the sanction of the Secretary of State. No other Minister was consulted. I desire expressly to abstain from any comment upon the subject matter of the telegram, though the terms exceed those demanded even by the warmest friends of the Turks themselves. This, however, is a matter for discussion at the Conference, and one into which it would be highly inexpedient for me to enter now.

But the publication of such a pronouncement without consultation with the Cabinet, and without their assent, raises a different question, all the more important because the Conference was just about to meet at Paris, when, as it seemed, there was a fair prospect that, in concert with our Allies, we should be able to lay the basis for peace between Turks and Greeks. His Majesty's Government are unable to reconcile the publication of the telegram of the Government of India on the sole responsibility of the Secretary of State with the collective responsibility of the Cabinet, or with the duty which all the Governments of the Empire owe to each other in matters of Imperial concern. Such independent declarations destroy the unity of policy which it is vital to preserve in foreign affairs, and gravely imperil the success of the impending negotiations. The Secretary of State has tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister, and His Majesty has been pleased to approve its acceptance.

When the Foreign Secretary proceeds to Paris to discuss the Eastern settlement with the Foreign Ministers of France and Italy it will be his object to arrive at a solution which will be equitable to all parties. Due weight will be given by him to the opinions of the Indian Mahomedans as expressed by the Government of India, but he cannot hold himself bound to accept any solution that may be put forward by that Government irrespective of its relation to the problem as a whole. The responsibility for the revision of the Treaty of Sevres and the conclusion of peace in the East rests with the Allied Powers in combination.