§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (LORD PARMOOR)
My Lords, I rise to move the second Reading of this Bill, of which the short title is the Treaty of Peace (Turkey) Bill. I think it is very appropriate that the Second Reading of this Bill should be taken in your Lordships' House. The subject matter with which your Lordships will have to deal comes from the late Government, and the master architect or master craftsman, if I may so call him, is the noble Marquess opposite, Lord Curzon. I do not intend to address your Lordships at any length because his knowledge is naturally so much greater than any that I could have upon this question, and I am sure he will be glad, as he has told me, to assist your Lordships with all the information at his disposal, should any question arise. After we have had our discussion in this House, if any questions of importance arise, or have arisen, they will naturally be considered at a later stage, if necessary, and that later stage can be postponed to some time convenient to your Lordships.
The first point to be considered is, perhaps, why a Bill is necessary at all in a case of this sort. Apart from any complication of, or any change in, the law, the ratification of a Treaty is not a matter for discussion in Parliament, at any rate it is prima facie not a matter for discussion in Parliament, but a matter for the Executive Government acting in behalf of the Royal Prerogative. Therefore, I may state quite shortly the reasons why a Bill is necessary in the present case. The first reason is this. Power is given under this Bill to make a new Order in Council superseding the existing Order which refers to these subject matters, and that new Order in Council cannot be made except under statutory authority. I need not go into the matter in any detail at the present time, but will merely state that the new Order in Council deals with a series of questions which also require statutory authority. Although they are all comprised in one Order, if authority is given to pass that Order it will govern all other matters which are comprised within it. For instance, it sets up a new tribunal. It gives certain special new jurisdiction 427 to the Courts of this country in respect of certain British subjects who are resident or domiciled in Turkey. I may give an illustration of what I mean by referring to such matters as probate, divorce, marriage and legitimacy.
There is another matter which necessarily requires legislation, and it is this. In the new Mixed Arbitration Tribunal which is set up that new tribunal in Turkey is given certain powers, or privileges, in regard to certain subjects of Great Britain. It is clear that in a case of this kind legislation is necessary, and for that the Bill is introduced—and I think conveniently introduced—in your Lordships' House. There is one other point to which I need only refer in passing. If your Lordships will look at subsection (4) of Clause 1 you will see that provision is made for certain expenses. That is a matter with which, of course, your Lordships cannot deal. It will be dealt with in the ordinary way in what is called a privilege clause, and the necessary provision will have to be made in another place. But that is no interference with our authority to deal with all other questions under the Bill.
If your Lordships look at the Bill, you will see that it is rather peculiar in its framework. It really and in substance forms two schedules called Schedule, Part I, and Schedule, Part II, the First Schedule comprising different Conventions or protocols, and the second a particular Convention and protocol to which I shall have to call attention by and by, signed at Paris. It appears from the Preamble of the Bill that at Lausanne on July 24, 1923, a Treaty of Peace with Turkey, together with the Conventions and protocols to which I have referred, was signed on behalf of His Majesty. The second protocol was signed at Paris on November 23, 1923. It will be within your Lordships' recollection that copies of the Treaty and of the Conventions, protocols and declarations have been laid before each House of Parliament—that is to say, they have been issued as Printed Papers. Then, in ordinary form, the Preamble states that "it is expedient that His Majesty should have power to do all such things as may be proper and expedient for giving effect thereto."
By subsection (1) of Clause 1 His Majesty is empowered to make such appointments, establish such officers, 428 make such Orders in Council, and do such things as appear to him to be necessary for carrying out the said Treaty, Conventions, protocols and declarations and for giving effect to any of the provisions thereof. Your Lordships will notice that it is not a direct ratification, but that it is the giving of power to His Majesty in connection with the Treaty which will be necessary in connection with, or as a consequence of, ratification. To preserve the authority of both Houses of Parliament on matters which require legislation which will be dealt with by Order, your Lordships will find, under subsection (3) of Section 1, that these Orders when made are to be laid before both Houses, and if an Address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after any Order in Council made under the Act has been laid before it, praying that the Order or any part thereof may be annulled, His, Majesty in Council may annul the Order or such part thereof. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has referred more than once to Parliamentary protection, and I refer to this matter to show that Parliamentary protection is preserved in the strongest form, and that either House may pass a Resolution asking for the annulment of an Order or any part of it, and, on that, it may be annulled.
I do not think there is any other provision in the Bill itself to which I need call your Lordships' attention, but I desire to say a few words on the history of this matter. I shall be very short. I have culled most of what I have to say on this aspect of the subject from the speech made by the noble Marquess opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, at the time of the Imperial Conference, which has been reported and published. I dare say your Lordships are aware that the speech of the noble Marquess on this point was made public. I believe there were other matters in the speech that were not made public, but this portion of it has been published.
The modern history of this matter begins with the Mudania Armistice or Conference which took place in October, 1922, after the Greek forces had been driven out of Asia Minor. Then, on November 20, 1922, the first Lausanne Conference was held under the presidency of the noble Marquess. I notice that he states in the 429 speech to which I have referred that he was kept eleven weary weeks at Lausanne in connection with that Conference, which, of course, was a very important one, raising as it did a considerable number of international questions. There were present representatives of France, Italy, Japan, Rumania, Jugo-Slavia and Greece, in addition to the representatives of this country. The Turks were present, and also representatives of some other countries who had, or who thought they might have, an interest in the matters which were to be discussed at the Conference. At this Conference a Treaty was prepared and placed on the table ready for signature, but at the last moment the Turks refused to sign, and, finally, nothing was done on that occasion. The discussion was recommenced at Lausanne in April, 1923. I am not quite sure whether the noble Marquess was himself present on that occasion.
§ LORD PARMOOR
On this occasion the chief work of the representation of the interests of this country was in the hands of Sir Horace Rumbold, who was the head of the British High Commission in Constantinople. At length a Treaty was signed on the date which is mentioned in the Preamble of the Bill, July 24, 1923, and at the present time it only awaits ratification. The agreement for this Treaty was actually signed as long ago a" July, 1923, and I do not think it is saying too much to state that the time has come when ratification should take place as soon as we can possibly do it. That is one of the reasons Why the Government can utilise—as I hope they will seek to utilise on every occasion—your Lordships' House in order to press forward a matter of this kind. I do not think there is, any other matter as regards history to which I need call attention.
When we come to the Bill itself and look at the Schedule, which really contains the provisions of the measure, you will see a list of a large number of Conventions or protocols, eleven in number. I do not propose to embark on a consideration of the details of these various Conventions and protocols. There may be some question that will arise on them, but certainly we need not embark upon a discussion at this 430 moment. Let me give an illustration. Take the first Convention respecting the régime of the Straits. There was a discussion in the other House the other day on a question asked by Sir Edward Grigg, who wanted to know whether the obligations we undertook were several or joint: in other words, whether we undertook obligations severally or only in conjunction with other Powers. I should have thought that it was pretty clear that the obligations were joint and not several, and perhaps on this matter the noble Marquess opposite might state his opinions.
On page 127 of the Treaty of Peace with Turkey you will find Article 18, which says—Should the freedom of navigation of the Straits or the security of the demilitarised zones be imperilled by a violation of the provisions relating to freedom of passage, or by a surprise attack or some act of war, or threat of war, the High Contracting Parties, and in any case France, Great Britain, Italy and Japan, acting in conjunction, will meet such violation ….It is quite clear, on the face of the terms of the Convenion, that the, obligation was a joint one and not a several one. I merely refer to that because the question was distinctly raised in the other House.
Let me say one or two words about Part II of the Schedule which refers to the Convention and protocol signed at Paris. The reason why I desire to do so is that this deals with certain financial questions which, having regard to what has appeared in certain newspapers recently, do not appear to be clearly appreciated. There is an important letter in The Times of this morning which shows a misapprehension as to what these financial provisions really are. These financial provisions are contained in a special Convention signed at Paris on November 23, 1923. Let me read Article I and give a few words of explanation as to what it really means. Article I begins in this way—The Contracting Powers agree to devote jointly to the reparation of the damage suffered by their nationals :The sums in gold referred to in Article 58 of the Treaty of Lausanne.''What are the sums of gold referred to in Article 58? They amount to £5,000,000 which had been deposited by Turkey in the banks of Berlin and Vienna, and which came into the hands of the Allies 431 in consequence of the victory in the war. Therefore, there is no payment to be made out of money to be provided by this country, but it is a sum of £5,000,000 which had been deposited by Turkey in respect of loans which they obtained at the commencement of the war.
What is said about this sum? It is said that it is not large enough; in other words, that you do not get a sufficient sum from which British nationals and other nationals can be compensated in respect of the injuries they have suffered. That is, of course, true in one sense. I do not suppose that the sum will be sufficient to compensate everyone who has suffered damage, but it really was impossible to provide any larger sum consistent with the economic life of Turkey in the future. At the time when this Convention was made it had been ascertained that merely nominal sums under the name of "Reparations," which could never be collected, were of no use to what I may call the creditor country and its nationals, and would be, very often, a serious obstacle in the way of the financial and economic reconstruction of the debtor country. I think an extremely wise discretion was exercised by taking this sum, which was in fact available, and not following a will-o'-the wisp in other directions—a policy which might have placed obstacles in the way of the regeneration of Turkey and which could never have brought a penny of satisfaction to the nationals concerned.
Then it is said that a special sum out of this amount ought to have been allocated to the nationals of this country. That would have been an admirable scheme in one way and no one could criticise it, but we had to come to an arrangement with two other countries, France and Italy, and the only arrangement which could be come to was not by separating the amount to be allocated to the nationals of either country but by setting up a Mixed Commission in order to settle this matter after further consideration. It is always better, if you can, to settle a matter of this kind in the first instance, but if you cannot—and it was not possible in this case—the only alternative is that which was adopted, namely, through the means of an Allied Commission, representing all the three countries, to take the fund in hand and dispense it equitably between the rival 432 claimants. There was no other way in which it could be done.
Then it is asked what dividends will this Commission pay, and when will it pay them? That is a very natural question for these claimants to ask. The answer now is this. The claims have not yet been presented and it is impossible, therefore, to state what the dividend is likely to be. It must take some time to collect and assess claims, but every step is being taken to ensure that there shall be no undue delay. In matters of this kind, particularly where you have claims between the nationals of different countries, it is impossible that a division can be made at a moment's notice, or without due consideration.
There is another sum which the inter-Allied Commission will receive from the British Government. I want to make this matter as clear as I can. There was a sum in Turkish Treasury bills of which the nominal or face value was £846,000. I believe that when these Turkish Treasury bills were originally taken over by the British Government—it was at the time when the ships were taken over which had been built for Turkey—they were taken over at something like their face value, or at any rate not at any considerable discount. But at the present time the only security as regards this sum is Turkey. These are Turkish Treasury bills; they are not Treasury bills for which this country is, or ever has been, liable, and what they would realise must be a matter of conjecture. But it is quite clear that Turkish Treasury bills of the nominal or face value of £846,000 are not likely to realise anything like that amount. The question really is what they are worth, and that is a question which no one can answer. The answer will have to be ascertained in the market.
I think I should add, in case the point is not quite plain, that these bills were originally paid by Turkey in respect of the two battleships ordered in 1911, and, as we know, requisitioned by His Majesty's Government in 1914. The bills were purchased by the Treasury from the then holders. That, of course, was right, because the then holders were entitled to be paid what was then a fair sum in the market for these bills. But now, when the British Government are handing over these bills, having purchased them from 433 the holders at that time, they are handing them over as Turkish Treasury bills, and their value will depend upon the real value in the money market of Turkish Treasury hills of the nominal value which these possess.
There are two other incidental points connected with this financial question which I think ought to be made clear. In the first place, there arises the question of the Turkish loans which were secured on the Egyptian tribute. That point is dealt with, I think, in Article 18 of the Treaty, which declares that—Turkey is released from all undertakings and obligations in regard to the Ottoman loans guaranteed on the Egyptian tribute, that is to say, the loans of 1855, 1891 and 1894. The annual payments made by Egypt for the service of these loans now forming part of the service of the Egyptian Public Debt, Egypt is freed from all other obligations relating to the Ottoman Public Debt.Let me state quite shortly what the effect of that is. As regards the loan of 1855, there is a British guarantee, and I think, therefore, nothing need be said about it. As regards the other two loans, those of 1891 and 1894, nothing was paid by Turkey, at any rate over a long series of years, and the only security held by the bondholders was the Egyptian tribute. They will have that security just as they had it before. It may be said that there is some difference in their position because they do not possess, in addition to the security of the Egyptian tribute, the security of the Turkish guarantee; but, as a matter of fact, that Turkish guarantee was worth nothing, and though in form, perhaps, it may appear that these bondholders are placed in a worse-position, their position really remains unaltered.
There is one other point concerning the financial aspect of the Treaty which arises really on a letter which appeared in The Times this morning. It refers to a claim for £5,000,000 in respect of the Turkish ships which were requisitioned when the war broke out. The meaning of that £5,000,000 is not really appreciated. What it means is that the contractors who built these ships have this payment of £5,000,000, and there, so far as I know, the matter rests. The sum was paid by Turkey in accordance with contract" made when these ships were ordered, and it is the contractors' money, paid to them in respect of work done. I do not exactly 434 appreciate what precisely the suggested claim is, but that appears to me to be the true position.
I am not aware of any other question which arises upon the financial clauses under the Convention and protoco signed at Paris on November 23, 1923. As I said before, I do not propose to go through the other Conentions and protocols. I feel certain—though I must not put too great weight upon it—that in matters of detail, if any question is asked, the noble Marquess, Lord Curzon, will assist us, if I may put it in that way, with his great knowledge, a far more intimate knowledge of these matters than could possibly be obtained by any one who has come in contact with this matter at a late stage. I should rather hope that any one who has questions to ask will be able to ask them before he speaks because I am sure he will do his best to assist us in answering them. This is not a Party-political matter in any sense. We all want to see this question dealt with fairly and to obtain as full a knowledge as we can of the underlying principles which attach to the ratification of this Treaty. I think I need do no more now than move the Second Reading of this Bill. Should any question arise between now and the Committee stage there will be plenty of time to consider it. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(Lord Parmoor.)
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken devoted the latter portion of his remarks to a very clear and useful exposition of the financial aspects of this case, and he has therefore dispensed me from the necessity of saying anything upon that point, unless any question may conceivably be put at a later stage which would require an explanation from one who is familiar with the details of the Bill. In the opening stages of his speech the noble Lord observed with truth that the measure of which he proposes a Second Reading is not in itself a ratifying Bill. The power of ratifying Treaties is inherent in the Sovereign, and this Bill is designed merely to carry into effect certain conclusions and provisions arising out of the Treaty of Peace.
As regards the latter, I have risen at this stage, not in the smallest degree 435 with the idea of discouraging any questions that may be put by any noble Lords who are interested in the matter, but because it seems to me that, although this is not a ratifying Bill, this is emphatically the occasion on which this House of Parliament is asked to give its assent to this Treaty of Peace, terminating the long, devastating and disastrous War between Turkey and the Allied Powers, and that it would be unseemly in the highest degree if your Lordships, confronted with a situation like this, were not given some exposition, not merely of the financial concomitants and conclusions of the Treaty but of what the Treaty itself is—how it was concluded, why it was concluded, what are its broad features, in what way they ensure the due protection of British interests, and in what way they make for the peace of the world. That is the great issue we are deciding to-day, and your Lordships will pardon me if I devote my remarks in the main to endeavouring to give an answer to those questions.
The noble and learned Lord, the Lord President of the Council, said with truth that the Treaty of Peace which we are now, in effect, ratifying was the result of two Conferences, or rather a Conference conducted in two stages, between the Powers and Turkey in the years 1922 and 1923. In enumerating the Powers who were represented at Lausanne I think he omitted, no doubt by accident, to say that not merely were the Allied Powers there represented—Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan—but America was also represented, and, in addition, there were the other States who had been at war with Turkey or whose territories were contiguous to the Straits or the Black Sea.
The proceedings of the first stage of the Conference, for which I was largely responsible, and which lasted from November, 1922, to February, 1923, are contained in a portentous Blue-book numbering something like 860 pages and costing the preposterous sum of £1 10s I doubt whether any of your Lordships in the distressed condition of your finances, has been able to afford this sum, and therefore I presume that none of you have read the floods of eloquence enshrined therein, which I and my colleagues poured out at Lausanne during what the noble and learned Lord described as those "weary months." During that time we had, as he pointed 436 out, successfully disposed of the entire group of political and territorial questions which required to be solved before a new-Treaty could be concluded. In so doing the back of the work had been broken, and it was only when we came to the financial and economic and capitulatory clauses of the proposed Treaty that the negotiations, at the very last second of the last minute of the last hour, broke down, because the Turks could not be persuaded that we would not behave in exactly the same way in which they would have behaved in similar circumstances, and expected that by holding out to the very end, they would get something more at the last moment. These tactics for the moment failed, but when I came back to this country in February, 1923, I took the opportunity of saying in this House, and elsewhere, that I had no doubt of the ultimate success of the negotiations when they were resumed, and that I did not regard the failure to conclude a Treaty in February as at all fatal to the ultimate chances of a successful solution.
After a pause of two months, the negotiations, as the noble and learned Lord has reminded us, were resumed at Lausanne in the early part of the month of April, and there, as he has also reminded us, our interests were safe in the hands of our then representative at Constantinople, Sir Horace Rumbold. He and his colleagues then took up these financial, economic, and other matters which had not been disposed of in the earlier stages, and eventually, after prolonged wrangles, great difficulties, and seemingly interminable delays, he secured the signature of the Treaty at the end of July. That Treaty was then printed and circulated, so that really, firstly, in relation to the Blue-book to which I have referred, and secondly, with regard to the Treaty itself, full information has been in the hands of the public and of Parliament for many months.
During that time what has happened in this country? So far as I know, no single responsible attack has been made upon the Bill in either House of Parliament. Nothing has been said questioning its propriety or contents. Nothing has been said in either House of such a character. The Imperial Conference, when the matter was expounded to it—and mind you, they had great interest in the matter, arising from the men whose lives were laid down in 437 the Peninsula of Gallipoli—expressed unanimous approval of the solution at which we have arrived. It is true that in one or two quarters I have seen allegations made by persons possessing, as I think, no intimate knowledge of the question, and not always animated by a disinterested spirit, suggesting that the Bill involves some sacrifice of British interests and some lowering of British prestige. If there are any spokesmen of those views in this House, let them speak, let us hear, once for all, how it is, and where it is, that British interests are sacrificed and British prestige lowered. All I know is that since the Treaty was concluded not a single protest has reached the Government, either in my time, or as I am convinced since, from a single representative body, political, commercial or otherwise, either in or out of England, in relation to this Treaty. Therefore I am not in the least degree discomposed by any attack of the character to which I have referred.
Before I attempt to expound to your Lordships exactly what we did in the Treaty, I think I would like to give you, in a few sentences, a picture of the scene as it presented itself to me, and as it existed, when we met at Lausanne. In order to appreciate what we did your Lordships must understand the situation, the peoples, the sentiments by which we were surrounded or with which we had to deal. When I went to Lausanne in November, 1922, I found the Turks flushed with their recent great victory over the Greeks, inflamed with fury over our action in the Dardanelles, where for months the issue of peace and war hung on the razor's edge, where the opposing troops were separated by a mere hedge of wire, and where at any moment shots might have been fired, precipitating a conflict. I found them convinced that Great Britain was their enemy out to deny their sovereignty and to destroy their independence. I found them suspicious of all the great Powers with whom they had been at war, and in the background was Russia, egging them on in their suspicion and hostility. That was the atmosphere which I found at Lausanne in November, 1922, and that was the barricade of suspicion and hostility which it was our duty to break down.
Secondly, I found the great Powers with whom I was called upon to cooperate ostensibly acting in unison—and 438 I never took a step without their knowledge and agreement—but secretly pulling in opposite directions.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I found the Balkan States assembled there, as to which scarcely anyone would have said before that it would be possible to achieve unity between their differing interests and points of view. I found M. Venizelos striving with great dexterity to rescue his country from the lamentable pit of disaster into which it had fallen. I found M. Stambulisky, the Premier of Bulgaria—since murdered—fighting his hardest for the interests of his little State. I found Russia out to make mischief, and intent on driving a wedge between Turkey and the other Powers, including, more especially, ourselves. Those were the dramatis personæ among whom I found myself during those eleven weeks in the chateau at Lausanne.
Remember one other point. I have had a good deal to do—my noble friend Lord Balfour has had something to do—with the Treaties of Peace which have been concluded with the various belligerents since the war. What were the conditions under which every one of them was framed? They were drawn up by the victorious Powers sitting in a loom together in combination, with a vanquished enemy who was not there at all Only when the Powers had drawn up their Treaty was he sent for, and when the representatives of the poor country came in, they were presented with a document, they were told they might go away and consider it, and come back and utter a protest, which was certain to be unavailing, and they were told that they must either take the Treaty or continue at war. They therefore had no alternative.
But look at what happened in this case. When we went to Lausanne the Turks did not regard themselves as vanquished at all. They regarded themselves as victors in the struggle, because they had just beaten Greece. So far from being brought in afterwards to hear our terms, they sat at the table on conditions of absolute equality with ourselves. At any moment of any day it was in their power to block, to suspend, to break down negotiations. There was not a single 439 article, clause, or line of this Treaty, bound in this Blue-book, which had not to be carried with their consent. We did not have divisions on the matter; everything had to be carried by the unanimous consent of all who were there assembled. Does not that give you a measure of the difference between the conditions under which this Treaty was concluded and the conditions that surrounded the earlier Treaties to which I have referred?
Then there was a further difficulty. I have spoken of the sentiments by which the Turkish representatives were inspired, and more particularly were they convinced that Great Britain had placed its money upon the wrong horse, and was mainly responsible, by the encouragement it had given, or was alleged to have given, to the Greeks, for the prolongation of the war. Here I think they had some justification. I am not one of those who can stand up and say that I do not think that in the earlier stages great mistakes were made. I speak in the presence of my noble friend Lord Balfour, who was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the time, but who was not himself personally involved in the conditions to which I refer.
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
Yes, I know, but I am going to talk about what happened in Paris. I think myself that, viewed in the light of later events, it was a great misfortune that in the earlier stages of the Paris Conference, while the Plenipotentiaries were devoting themselves to President Wilson and his scheme for the Covenant of the League of Nations, while they were carving out Europe on a new plan, they devoted so little attention to the East. As a matter of fact, at that time you could have got any terms you liked out of Turkey, laid flat after the Armistice had been concluded; you really at that date might have dictated a Treaty to them, which they would have accepted with satisfaction.
I think a further mistake was made when at Paris—and for this neither my noble friend, who was Foreign Secretary, nor the Foreign Office had any responsibility—the Greeks were invited to Smyrna in the month of April or May, 1919. That 440 step, for which I do not say there was no justification at the moment, turned out in practice, in results, to be the fruitful parent of recurring mischiefs, suspicions, and disaster for a period of years. I think, too, that it might well be said that speeches were made in this country and elsewhere at later stages, unfortunate speeches, encouraging the Greeks to, continue a resistance for which they had neither the money, the resources, nor the men. Those, I think, are mistakes which all of us, in so far as any of us are responsible, must acknowledge. And the result of that was that when I got to Lausanne, instead of dealing with an enemy who was beaten, I was confronted with an enemy who was triumphant. Instead of dictating a peace, I and my colleagues had to arrive at a peace by processes of compromise and conciliation and concession at every stage. And all that we desired was to get the best that we could in the difficult circumstances that I have described.
I think we may say without vanity that the best that we secured was better than we had anticipated, and I shall show your Lordships what I mean by that. When I went from this country I remember my colleagues saying good-bye to me, and telling me they expected to see me back in three weeks—I do not mean with a Treaty; I mean without. I remember a statesman of the highest European importance when I left Paris saying, "You will be back in three days"—I do not mean with a Treaty, but without. Well I had my three months, and Sir Horace Rumbold had his three months, and it took us that time to get what we thought at the beginning we should never get at all.
What is it that we did get, and am I right in describing it as something substantial? In the first place, we ended the war between Turkey and Greece, which was exhausting the former, and had very nearly destroyed the latter. We ended the war between the great Powers, including ourselves, and Turkey, which had been going on, mind you, for eight years, and which, only a month or two before, had flared up into a very perilous conflagration on the Dardanelles and on the Bosphorns. We succeeded in this Treaty in settling all disputes as to frontiers, territories, islands, and the like. We have set up a sovereign Turkish State resting upon a people who are 441 homogeneous in character and origin, who are left in possession of their capital, whose sovereignty is assured, whose independence is guaranteed, and whose future depends much more upon themselves than upon anybody else.
But also as the result of the Treaty we knocked off from the Turkish State, and reconstructed, the areas in Asia Minor, in Syria, in Palestine and in Mesopotamia, for the most part inhabited by Arabs, whom for centuries Turkey had shown her incapacity to govern, and who now, being relieved from their subjection to her, are endeavouring, in different degrees, to set up a national life of their own. That, of course, was the price that Turkey had to pay for the great mistake she made in entering the war against the Allies. But the substantial, the main results of the Treaty can, I think, be correctly summarised in the few phrases which I have just employed.
Now I come, to the details. The noble Lord, the Lord President of the Council, spoke about the freedom of the Straits. I would ask your Lordships to carry your minds back a little and to recollect what a part this mysterious phrase has played in the diplomatic, the political and the military history of Europe. The freedom of the Straits has been one of the great rocks of international diplomacy on which a score of vessels have split and gone to the bottom. It has been the source of many wars. It was one of the main things which, when we went into this war, we were determined to put, if we could, upon a proper basis in the future. The idea that Turkey, by the accidental advantage of her position at Constantinople and on the Straits, should be allowed at any moment to defy the world and, in combination with Russia in the Black Sea, to shut up a great international highway either to international commerce or to international arms, was one that could not be tolerated, and those brave men to whom I referred just now who laid down their lives at Anzac and in Suvla Bay did not lay down their lives for nothing, not merely for the Flag of England or the honour of the race. They laid down their lives in order that a situation of that sort, which was incompatible with the peace and security of the world, should be brought to an end and 442 that, as the result of this terrible war, we should arrive at some better solution of those difficulties.
How did we succeed, or did we succeed, on that point? Remember that in the earlier stages when the Treaty of Sèvres, which was afterwards abandoned, was concluded, the way that we were going to deal with the Straits was this. We were going to plant great international garrisons on both sides of the Straits, involving heavy obligations, political and financial, upon ourselves and all the other Powers. But as time went on we became wiser. We realised that that form of protection was one which would impose a burden on our people which as time passed they would become more unlikely to endure. Therefore, we had to secure this result in another way. When I went to Lausanne the question was in what form could the freedom of the Straits be secured.
I am letting our no secret when I say that I went with instructions which did not contemplate that we would be able to secure more than the freedom of the Straits for the passage of merchant ships—the commercial freedom of the Straits. If we were to go beyond that and get the real spoils of victory, the first thing to do was to secure unity of plan and project among the Allies. The second thing to do was to get the assent: of Turkey and of all the Balkan States who are interested in the question of the Straits because of the contiguity of their territories. And the third thing was to overcome, or, if that was impossible, to defeat, the opposition of Russia. How did we succeed in the task? We accomplished without difficulty the commercial passage of the Straits for the ships of all nations. We succeeded in obtaining free access from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea for the warships and the aircraft of all States, subject, of course, to reasonable limitations as to numbers.
And, lest anybody should think for a moment that that has a warlike implication, let the House see exactly what it means and what is its value. It means that from that day forward the Black Sea ceased to be a Russian preserve, the key of which was in the pocket of Turkey; a position which would enable Russia- at any moment to defy Europe and which placed Turkey in an inevitable 443 situation of vassalage to Russia. That was an international danger, a danger to peace and to commerce against which this arrangement as regards the freedom of the Straits has effectually safeguarded us. We, remembering the bitter experience of the last campaign and of previous campaigns, provided for the destruction of all the forts on the Straits and the creation of demilitarised zones in the neighbourhood both of the Dardanelles and of the Bosphorus. In return, Turkey was given certain guarantees for the safety of her capital and of the territories adjoining the Straits
On this point the noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, sought my opinion. He drew attention to the fact that certain questions had been asked in the other House of Parliament by a Member of Parliament which seemed to indicate that in giving this guarantee we in this country had accepted an inconvenient or a dangerous obligation, and that the responsibility rested upon us in a higher degree than upon the other Powers. And reading out the terms of that Article of the Straits Convention, my noble friend opposite gave his own interpretation. If I may be allowed to say so, his interpretation was not only the only one consistent with the phraseology of the Article, but it is the only one consistent with the history of the case with which I happen to be familiar. The attempt to show that any isolated or, indeed, any inconvenient, obligation was assumed by-Great Britain is an absolute mare's nest. It is wholly incompatible with the words of the text, and with what passed at Lausanne.
There is no question of any general guarantee of Turkish territorial integrity. The guarantee only applies in the case of danger to Turkish security arising out of the limitations imposed on her defences by the provisions of the Straits Convention. These provisions are so unquestionably to the advantage of the majority of the countries of Europe that any moral obligation they may involve of making sure that Turkey is not exposed to special danger of attack in consequence of her acceptance, naturally and obviously applies to all the States concerned, as the noble and learned Lord pointed out. Moreover, the guarantee is not, as was suggested in another place, direct and unconditional. 444 In the first place, the responsibility for deciding the action to be taken rests entirely with the Council of the League of Nations. Unless there is an over whelming case for such action it is extremely doubtful whether the Council would call for drastic measures. On the other hand, if there were an overwhelming case for such action, it would probably have to be taken in the interests of the European States who are affected by the Straits Convention, whether the Council called upon them to do so or not.
Now let me draw this detail from my personal memory. During the discussions which took place on this point at Lausanne, before we got the Turks to sign the Straits Convention they were pressing every day for much stronger guarantees than this, and I remember that their pressure took the form, in December, 1922, of demanding the insertion in the guarantee of the following clause :—The Signatory Powers mentioned above undertake individually and collectively to respect and to ensure respect for the in-violability of the Straits both in peace and war.They said to me that unless that were conceded they would break down the negotiations and go away. I remember spending hours in their company discussing this point. The Allies were not nearly so firm on the matter as we were. Eventually, and not without difficulty, we got them into line, and absolutely declined to agree to that. It would have been a dangerous form of guarantee. If we had not accepted the minor, and as I think the harmless form of guarantee, the words of which were read by the noble Lord, Turkey would not have signed the Straits Convention at all. You would have left the Black Sea in the position which I described just now, a sort of pocket borough, if I may use that expression, of Russia, and you would have lost the opportunity of settling this very difficult question. I think that is an adequate answer to what, I think, is a misunderstanding that has arisen in another place.
When we had concluded the Straits Convention there was a scene at one of the meetings at which Russia, in tones of some asperity and no small indignation, declined to sign, and said that we were embarking upon a policy of warfare and hostility against her for which I would be in the main, if not solely, 445 responsible. I do not think I was much disturbed by those threats. I suggested that the Russian representatives should, when they went away, reconsider the matter very carefully, and that I thought, in time, they would see their way to sign. After the lapse of two months, without saying a word in the interval, they quietly and unostentatiously signed. Therefore you got this Straits Convention with the signature of every Power which has the remotest interest in the, matter. It is enshrined now in the textbooks of international diplomacy, and if it succeeds in establishing itself, if it is successful—and we must wait for a time, of course, to see. that; I do not want to be over sanguine or premature—I believe it will come in time to be regarded as one of the greatest diplomatic achievements that have ever been attained. But I wait to see what happens, and I make this explanation because I have noticed a curious inability in the English Press generally to understand the supreme importance not merely of the issue but of the manner in which the issue was solved, which I, personally, regard as one of the things in the Treaty on which we have the best reason for self-congratulation.
In dealing with the Straits there was one point to which the British representatives attached great importance, and that was the safeguarding for ever of the, sacred soil where lie the bodies and bones of our countrymen. We succeeded in obtaining that those areas will for ever hereafter be placed under British custody and in British hands. We provided in these parts of the Treaty for the demilitarisation of the islands in the Ægean off the Turkish coast, so that they cannot be made a basis for hostile attack against Turkey in the future. We provided for the frontiers between Turkey and Bulgaria on one side, and Turkey and Greece on the other, and we created in both cases demilitarised zones running along the frontier so that neither party can suddenly resort to military preparations against the other. We offered to Bulgaria the outlet on the sea which she desired, and which only proved abortive because she declined to accept it. We fought very hard indeed for the protection of minorities—Greeks, Armenians, Syrian Christians and others, for whom I would dearly have liked to get some protection greater than that 446 which is furnished by the minority clause of the European Treaty. I should have liked to secure more protection than we did, but it was impossible, on certain aspects of the case, to break down the indurated antagonism of the Turkish Plenipotentiaries on this point.
We persuaded, not without considerable difficulty, Turkey to enter into an undertaking to apply for admission to the League of Nations, and I think she will implement that undertaking in the course of the year. I was always pointing out, as indeed it is open to me to point out to your Lordships, that this would have a double advantage. On the one hand it provides an additional guarantee for the protection of her own frontiers, and on the other hand it enables Europe to keep a watch upon the carrying out of the Treaty.
There was another question which excited a great deal of interest, and caused a great deal of trouble, the end of which is not yet in sight. I am not going into it this afternoon, but only mention it in passing. That was the question of the future of Mosul, a point to which the Turks attached enormous importance, but the importance of which to us could not be for a moment denied, because of its necessity to the mandated territory of Mesopotamia, or, as it is now called, Iraq, which we were responsible for having set up. As regards Mosul, instead of fighting it out there—although we did discuss it at the table—instead of trying to find a solution there, we agreed to remit the matter to negotiations between the two Powers, and these negotiations are about to begin at Constantinople. If they are unsuccessful, then we provide in the Treaty for the reference of the matter to the League of Nations. I cannot carry the matter any further at present. I hope most ardently that some pacific solution will be found.
As regards the financial and economic and capitulatory clauses, I said at the beginning of my remarks that I would not trench on that ground, because it had been so fully and admirably covered by the noble Lord, the Lord President of the Council. I think the gist of his remarks, apart from the details regarding the £5,000,000 and the £846,000, and so on, was to be found in the sentence in which he said—and it is true—that it was no 447 good pressing for better terms, because you were dealing with an exhausted, an impoverished and a bankrupt people. You might have put down any terms that you liked, but you never would have got them, and it seemed to be very much better to make a clean slate, to wipe off those uncomfortable figures from it, rather than to open the door to a long wrangle which might have been revived and lasted for years to come without producing any results.
Those are the main features of the Bill which I have sought leave to explain to your Lordships. May I, before I sit down, add a word or two about the position of Turkey and the attitude of ourselves towards Turkey? Hitherto, I have been dealing with the past. In these few observations I refer to the future. There are certain aspects of Turkish policy, as we saw at Lausanne, and as we continue to see now, which I deeply deplore. I think the policy upon which they have embarked of driving out Greeks and Armenians from their territories, and requiring the forcible repatriation of Moslems from outside their territories is a policy of political folly and of economic madness. I am certain it will break down. It has already begun to break down. Turkey is not in a condition to lead a purely self-sufficing existence, and she will find, as she goes along, that she will want the assistance of these very useful and laborious elements in the future just as she has done in the past.
Another point on which I think she is very ill advised indeed is in the idea that she can get along without the financial and economic assistance of Europe. Of course, she cannot. At Constantinople, at Smyrna, and everywhere else, European commerce and European traders and concessionaires are absolutely vital to enable her to run the machine, and if they are to be asked to live and trade there they must be given the elements of fair and sound judicial administration. There, again, we are passing through a period of trial, but I have no doubt that the present xenophobia of Turkey, the present rather exaggerated and flamboyant spirit of nationalism of Turkey, will again subside and we shall revert to a better position of affairs.
They are confronted at the present moment with the difficulty of balancing their Budget, of repressing the brigand- 448 age which is very prevalent all over Anatolia, and of developing their resources. They have chosen to do it in their own way. What should our attitude be? I do not think it is the least good to harp on the memories or revive the animosities of the past. Let us pass the sponge over the slate. If Turkey chooses, in the recovery of her sovereignty and independence, which not only have we not challenged but assisted to recreate ourselves: if she chooses, in the pursuance of that policy and that ideal, to commit mistakes, she will be the sufferer by them and for them. But let us, within the measure of our capacity, realising the tremendous difficulty of her task, give her where we can and in what measure we can the kind of assistance that Europe, and notably this country, gave to Japan sixty or seventy years ago when she emerged from conditions that were almost feudal in their character, and in order to attain her great position in the world was wise enough to rely on the advice and the resources of Europe. If Turkey shows an inclination to turn to us for such assistance I am sure we shall be willing to give it.
This Peace Treaty, which I conclude by recommending to your Lordships, is one which, if it does not give complete satisfaction to anybody, has given, I think, absolutely unmitigated relief to all. It is the last of the Peace Treaties. It shuts the door; we are no longer at war. We have been able to take our troops from Constantinople. We have sent a Chargé d'Affaires to Constantinople, and there is now a Turkish representative in London whom the noble and learned Lord can see at the Foreign Office whenever he likes. The sky is for the moment clear, at any rate as regards international relations between us. And here I say, not without a touch of pride, that I believe at this moment if there is a country that stands high in the regard and esteem of Turkey it is this country. I challenge contradiction on that point; and if that be so, let us, instead of diving again into the troubles and anxieties of the past, devote ourselves with as much devotion and sincerity as we can to assist our old friend Turkey and our former Ally Turkey in the difficult future that lies before her.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, I have not the least desire to take up much of your Lordships' time; 449 I wish to make one single remark. I hope it will not be regarded as superfluous if I express the profound interest with which we have listened to the speech of the noble Marquess and the admiration and gratitude that this House, and all his fellow countrymen, have for the courage, the ability, the tact and patience, without which this Treaty would not so much as exist.
Having said that, and I think it ought to be said, the only remark I want to make is this. There was one part of the noble Marquess's speech to which we listened with great sympathy, and that was his expression of obviously unfeigned regret that it had been possible to do so little in this Treaty for the Christian minorities in Europe and Asia Minor. I am sure, indeed I have good reason to know, that the noble Marquess did all that was possible in the very difficult situation which he so graphically and eloquently described. None the less there are many in this House, and I am sure still more in the country, who are grievously disappointed that the only result of all the pledges that this country gave that it would protect the Christian minorities, especially those who ranged themselves on the side of the Allies, is represented by the very inadequate provision contained in this Treaty.
I quite accept, from what the noble Marquess has said, that nothing more in the circumstances was possible, but for that very reason I express the hope that the present Government, and future Governments, will be the more vigilant, either through the League of Nations or otherwise, to see that Turkey fulfills such obligations as she has accepted for the protection of these unfortunate people. The fact that some of them are weak and poor and defenceless, and can scarcely maintain the struggle for existence, constitutes the greater claim upon our interest and our regard. We have to remember—I am not sure that historians of the future will not remember—the Contrast between the pledges at one time and another given to these unfortunate Christian minorities and the measure of security which has been achieved for them at the end of the great war. I am sure none of us will regard the obligations which were so constantly expressed to these Christian minorities as at all dis- 450 charged by the mere ratification of this Treaty, and that every effort will be made to see that the interest of this country in these unfortunate people who sacrificed so much for our common cause will be continued and maintained in future.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, the noble Marquess, in a speech marked by his customary ability, rather prided himself on the fact that the Treaty of Lausanne has not been seriously attacked. I am under the impression that his late colleague, Mr. Lloyd George, has described the Treaty as a disastrous one. I am not going to find fault with the noble Marquess, I believe he did more than any other living Englishman could have done. I have had some experience of negotiations with the Turks, and if the noble Marquess had been in an irresponsible position like myself I am convinced he could have indicated much greater difficulties which confronted him than those which appear on the surface.
There was one portion of his speech in which I was unable to follow him. He compared, disadvantageously, his position as a negotiator with the position of those who represented the Allies in negotiating the Treaty at Paris. Though he said we were able to dictate Treaties, my noble friend omitted to remind the House that there have been two Turkish Treaties, the Treaty of Sèvres and the Treaty of Lausanne. The Sèvres Treaty was a dictated Treaty, and I cannot help feeling in my own mind that it was the dictated Treaty of Sèvres which ultimately led to the Treaty of Lausanne. It is no use concealing the fact that, if anybody five or six years ago had predicted that Turkey would, for instance, have recovered possession of places like Kars or Adrianople and successfully reestablished herself in Europe, he would have been treated as little less than a lunatic. No Power was more completely smashed during the war than Turkey, and smashed by this country with very little assistance from anybody else. We did, it is true, enjoy a certain amount of assistance from the French, but we may, with almost absolute accuracy, say that it was we alone who caused the complete defeat of Turkey.
I do not wish to deal at any length with the causes which brought about the Treaty of Lausanne or with what, I am afraid, many people consider its dis- 451 appointing results, but I do want to draw attention to one particular instance which always seems to me to have been of the greatest importance, an importance which was never realised in this country. I am alluding to what is known as the Chanak question. It so happened that I was in Turkey in the autumn of 1922, and I was at Chanak at the moment when the so-called Chanak crisis arose. The position was that in September, 1922, which is the period to which I am alluding, a victorious Turkish Army, having defeated the Greeks, was sweeping through Asia Minor towards Constantinople, and the only obstacle by land consisted in an international force at Chanak composed of British, French and Italians. At the supremely critical moment, when nobody knew whether it would come to a collision, and to the stupefaction, I may say, of all the French and Italian residents in Constantinople, the French and Italian contingents were withdrawn from Chanak. Fortunately for ourselves and fortunately, I may add, for Europe and for civilisation generally, the British force remained, and the Turks did not venture to attack us.
I would like also to remind the House that at this supremely critical moment M. Franklin-Bouillon, was at Smyrna, having been sent there by the French Government on an official or semi-official mission. M. Franklin-Bouillon, at this moment, was assuring the Turks that in no circumstances would England fight. Had we not remained firm, had we abandoned that place, the Turkish Army would have entered Constantinople, there would have been one of the worst massacres in history, and the Turks would have advanced into Europe. It is quite possible that a European war might have broken out again and the British lives—I forget the precise number, but it must run into well over 100,000—which were lost in Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and Palestine would have been lost in vain. In addition, the invasion would have resulted in the destruction—I do not think I am using exaggerated language—of our own prestige in our own Empire, and would have been a set-back to civilisation generally. It is to the lasting credit of the Coalition Government that at this moment they stood firm; and the extraordinary part of the whole business is that Mr. Lloyd George, having for once 452 in a way done the right thing, was promptly turned out by the people here.
If the Treaty is unsatisfactory—and there is no doubt that it is unsatisfactory in many respects—I think that my noble friend Lord Curzon, if he chose to do so, could say with perfect justice that it is not our fault, it certainly is not his fault, and I do not see that it was the fault of the Government. The fact is that we never—to put it mildly—received the full support from our Allies which we had the right to expect, and notably from France. The process of disintegration between the Allies set in at a very early stage. It began at the beginning of the war in Asia Minor between the Turks and the Greeks, for whilst we were practically backing the Greeks, the French and the Italians were assisting the Turks and supplying Mustapha Kemal with munitions. In 1921 M. Franklin-Bouillon went to Angora and made an arrangement with the Turkish Government behind our backs; in 1922, as I have already pointed out, we were deliberately abandoned by our French and Italian Allies at Chanak; and I gather that in 1923—although this will probably always remain rather obscure—the French Government went behind the back of my noble friend at Lausanne, and the result was that the Turks refused to sign the Treaty.
In view of these difficulties and of the obstacles which we had to encounter I think we may be thankful that the Treaty is not much worse. I will go so far as to say that although we, like other people, have made mistakes, we have at all events been consistent, and if the tension between us, as my noble friend has explained, was at one time extreme, I am confident that, whatever our action may have been, our prestige in Turkey at the present moment stands higher than that of any other European nation; and I believe that this assertion will be borne out by any one who has the slightest acquaintance with the Near East.
§ LORD PENTLAND
My Lords, it must surely be an immense satisfaction to your Lordships to have heard, not only from the noble Marquess but also from the noble Lord who has just sat down, that in spite of the distressing chain of 453 events which led up to the present situation, British prestige in this particular part of the world still stands higher with the Turks themselves than that of any other country. I do not rise to offer any hostile or obstructive criticism of this measure. On the contrary, I share, as many of your Lordships must share, the undercurrent of feeling which the noble Lord who has just sat down has indicated, that while we wish it had been better we accept it for the sake of the great gains which the noble Marquess has outlined as being contained in it. They are very considerable for the Arab population, now under mandated government in that part of the world. The question of Mosul is of very great importance to us, and to the Arab population in the Far East, and, in all, the gains are so substantial that I am not at all disposed to look back to the origins, or attempt to underrate the events which have led up to the present situation.
I am indeed grateful that this Bill has given to us an opportunity to hear from the noble Marquess such a full and comprehensive account of the transactions at Lausanne. I am sure none of us can possibly be disposed to underrate the great labours which he and his colleagues underwent during those negotiations, and many of us must note with great satisfaction what. I may call the courageous and generous acknowledgment of the change of view with regard to the relations of the Powers, which had to some extent fettered his and our hands in these negotiations. I hope that we may have some other opportunity—it is probably not appropriate to the present occasion—of obtaining some further information from the Government, indicative of their views on some sections of the area covered by this Treaty. The Lord President of the Council impressed upon us, and I am sure we must all have agreed with him, that these proceedings ought not to be further delayed, and that the sooner we go on with the practical work the better. To that, of course, we must all assent, but there are some of the provisions of the Conventions and Treaties mentioned in the Schedule, some of the conditions in the parts of Europe which are affected by the arrangements of The Treaty, which I venture to submit deserve further consideration from this House.
454 The question of the freedom of the Straits has been mentioned. Mention has also been made of the position of Bulgaria—her frontier in Thrace and her outlet to the Ægean Sea. There is the question of the protection of minorities, to which the noble Marquess referred just before he sat down—whether they are really obtaining the protection which I believe was meant to be secured to them in the different parts of that portion of Europe. All these questions, I would submit, require further consideration by Parliament, and for this reason, that they are very practical considerations. From all the information which we have, unofficially, there is profound unrest in that part of Europe, very acute trouble and distrust in many parts of it. Some of these States were our Allies in the war and some were fighting against us, but for all I submit we should extend our influence and support to any measures calculated to restore normal conditions, or to secure better conditions, in that part of Europe. Economically, the whole organisation has broken down, and there is bitter tyranny and oppression in many quarters.
I only mention these things in order that we may have some indication from the Lord President of the Council as to whether there will be an opportunity for further discussion of these matters, so that we may understand—he has access to knowledge and information which is not open to many of us—what are the real conditions in that part of Europe and how best the influence of this country, and of public opinion in this country, can be directed towards their amelioration.
§ LORD RIDDELL
My Lords, there is one matter to which the noble Marquess made no allusion. I refer to the relations between America and Turkey. America is not a signatory of the Treaty, and therefore it is to be assumed that the existing American Treaty rights continue. These involve Capitulations, and other matters of a preferential nature. It might be well if the noble Marquess, or the representative of the Foreign Office, explained how these matters stand, because they are causing deep concern to British traders and others in Turkey, who would like to know how Americans 455 resident in Turkey will stand in that country as compared with nationals affected by this Treaty.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am sure that the House would like to hear what the noble Marquess has to say upon that point.
§ LORD RIDDELL
I suppose the noble Marquess is aware of the recent negotiations. I suppose he knows what has happened since, unfortunately perhaps, he left the Foreign Office. Could we have information up to date?
§ THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I know nothing of what has happened since they shut the door upon me at the Foreign Office last month. As regards what happened at Lausanne, my recollection is this: The American representative there was not, of course, as has been pointed out, a full member, nor did he become a signatory of the Treaty. He was there as a sort of supervisor—a sort of observer. America fought along with ourselves on the question of the Capitulations, and the conditions that were agreed to by the other Powers were accepted by her, but inasmuch as she was not a signatory of the Treaty her representative there negotiated a separate Treaty with the Turkish Government. Whether that Treaty has been modified or ratified since, and is in operation now, I do not know, but I am pretty clear upon the point which I take it is really at the, back of the remarks by the noble Lord—namely, that America does not enjoy any advantages with regard to Capitulations which we have surrendered, and her position, then as now, is the same as our own.
§ LORD PARMOOR
Perhaps I might just bring the matter up to date. I am told that America has not yet ratified any more than we have, but she makes no claim to any preferential position at all.
§ LORD PARMOOR
Of course, I mean the separate Treaty. She is not claiming any preferential position under that Treaty as compared with what is claimed by other nations under the Treaty of Lausanne. I need only say, in concluding this debate, that I should like to add 456 my testimony to the great value which is to be attached to the statement made by the noble Marquess, and I think what was said by Lord Pentland is right, that having regard to the immense importance of that statement, and the very special knowledge which the noble Marquess has of these conditions, it would be well not to take the Committee stage immediately, but that we might have time to consider those statements, attaching to them the great value that I do. Of course we will take the Committee stage at a comparatively early date, but I think it will have to stand over for a short time.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, an observation made by the noble and learned Lord causes me some uneasiness. Lord Riddell referred to a matter which appears to me to be of the greatest possible consequence. He suggests that as matters stand to-day America is not bound in any way by the Treaty, nor are we in any position to control the terms that she may arrange, but that under the position as established by the Treaty our capitulatory rights have disappeared. Those rights were, of course, the establishment and maintenance of a British Court for the administration of British justice over our subjects. If it be true that such rights are still reserved to America while they are taken away from ourselves, it is obvious that every British subject will be in a position of the gravest possible disadvantage in Turkey, and the results can only be disastrous to all our commercial interests. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, does not appear to be very exactly informed as to what is happening as between Turkey and the United States. The matter is one that is not merely of passing interest, it is of great and permanent importance, and I sincerely hope that before this matter is finally disposed of we shall have some exact knowledge as to what the position is.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.