HL Deb 26 April 1928 vol 70 cc881-98

LORD PARMOOR rose to call attention to a statement made by the Prime Minister of Canada, in the Dominion House of Commons, on the 30th day of March, 1928, and to ask His Majesty's Government whether they can give any information as to the progress of negotiations with the Egyptian Government; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not think that the subject matter which I am bringing to your Lordships' attention, although of much importance, is in any sense of a controversial character and certainly is not of a Party controversial character. I beg to say that so far as the Party with which I am connected is concerned they are just as jealous of our national honour and national reputation as any other Party. That, I think, has been exceptionally shown—I will not say exceptionally but it has been specially shown in the Anglo-Egyptian question.

I want to say quite clearly at the outset, as I have to deal with a statement made on a former occasion in this House by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury)—I am sure he will feel I say it with all sincerity—that I do not intend in any way to suggest, and never have suggested, that any statement he made was not in every sense perfectly accurate and straightforward, and in corroboration of that I want to call attention to what was said by the Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, in the Dominion House of Parliament in Canada. The passage which I should like to read I have taken out of the OFFICIAL REPORT which reports debates in the Dominion Parliament of Canada. Mr. Mackenzie King said: May I say, Mr. Speaker, that I accept unreservedly Lord Salisbury's statement to the House of Lords that the Government of Great Britain had not any intention of obliging the Dominions to become a party to the Treaty, or even of inviting them to do so. I accept entirely what the noble Marquess said and what is said by the Prime Minister of Canada, but when this matter was before the House only a short time ago the noble Marquess seemed to think I had mad some "gloss," as he called it, upon what he said. I do not think there was any gloss. I looked very carefully afterwards to see whether there was. I certainly never intended it at the time.

I should like to read his actual words and your Lordships will then see what is the importance and relevance of the topic I wish to introduce. We were dealing with the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and the noble Marquess said that there was DO question at any time of asking the Dominions to take part in being responsible for the results of the Treaty. Their concurrence in the general policy embodied in the Treaty was asked for, but there was a distinction between asking Dominion Governments for their concurrence in the general policy of a Treaty and asking them to be parties to it. With regard to the second matter, he said, it never entered the heads of the Government here. I accept that quite frankly without any question, but what is pointed out by the Prime Minister of Canada—and this is the importance of this question—is that, although no doubt the statement of the noble Marquess may be perfectly accurate, yet, on the other hand, he was perfectly justified in the view which he had taken—the different view which he had taken—that there was an invitation to the Canadian Dominion actually to become a party to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty.

I must explain in a few words how this arises. I do not want to go back into the forms of Treaties which were examined and explained at the last Imperial Conference, although I think that the Prime Minister of Canada—and I believe the noble Marquess will agree with this—is perfectly right in saying that, having regard to the forms and principles there laid down, the inference which he drew was a perfectly accurate one, that the Dominion of Canada was being asked to become a party to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty. He calls attention—and I think this is the most convenient way I can put it—to page 9 of the White Paper, which has been published in regard to the Treaty negotiations between this country and Egypt. He points out that under the head of "Counter-draft approved by His Majesty's Government, July 28, 1927," it is stated that this was forwarded to the Dominion Government. It is quite clear that if the form there adopted had been approved the Dominion Government would have become a party to the Egyptian Treaty. He further points out that it was because of the objection which the Canadian Government, through their Prime Minister, took, that the form was subsequently altered and the altered form was the form to which the noble Marquess called my attention the other day. It is to be found on page 36, where, in accordance with the principles laid down at the Imperial Conference, it is made quite clear that the only parties involved at a subsequent stage were Great Britain and Northern Ireland on one side and Egypt on the other. But that result was brought about by altering the form in which the Treaty was originally submitted to the Canadian Government, and it really emphasises the change in policy of His Majesty's Government between those two dates.

I would like to read a passage or two from what was said by Mr. Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, in order to make quite clear what the position was. A certain Mr. Woodsworth asked a question of the Prime Minister in order to enable him to make an explanation very much in the same way as questions are asked in the House of Commons in this country. Mr. Mackenzie King said in reply:— My honourable friend has it exactly. May I say to him that the accuracy of what I have stated from the Canadian point of view is conclusively borne out by the White Paper which was laid on the Table of the House of Commons of Great Britain, this year, entitled 'Papers regarding negotiations for a Treaty of Alliance with Egypt,' a copy of which I hold in my hand. Then he refers, as I have already done, to page 9. It is quite clear that page 9, as it stands, and the Treaty form, as it stands, would have meant a Treaty between all the Dominions and Great Britain on one side and Egypt on the other, and of course the Dominions would have included Canada. He goes on to say in regard to the first form:— Under the interpretations set forth by the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee on Treaties— they are very detailed and of great importance— a Treaty so drafted"— that is, drafted in the form in which this Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was submitted to the Canadian Government— without limitation, had it been signed by a plenipotentiary, would have bound Canada along with all the other Dominions. Being presented with the full text of the Treaty in this form, and being asked to give our concurrence, we interpreted that Canada was asked to be a party to the Treaty and therefore, in our reply, we were careful to state that we could not become a party to the Treaty because, for reasons given, we did not believe that this Parliament would approve of Canada being made a party thereto.

I have on former occasions asked that Papers might be laid showing what were the reasons given. I will not press that to-day, because it is not the particular point with which I am dealing. All I can say is that Mr. Mackenzie King's statement is anything but obscure. It is perfectly straightforward. What he originally stated in the Canadian Parliament is correct, that the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was first submitted to the Canadian Government in a form which made Canada a party to that Treaty. Then he goes on to point out, what I have already pointed out, a change on a later page, which is the page to which the noble Marquess called my attention when the discussion was proceeding in this House on the last occasion. There the parties are limited. They are stated as His Majesty the King of Great Britain and so on, for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and His Majesty the King of Egypt.

It is a most important principle that is involved here. I am one of those who care immensely for the preservation of good feeling and good comradeship between the Mother Country and her Dominions. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, said the other day that I seemed to forget that it is a question of parents and children. I certainly did not forget it, but I feel that as between parents and grown-up children there is more need of care and right understanding than in almost any other relationship. At any rate, the fact stands (and I think there can be no contradiction) that the Treaty as first submitted would have made the Dominion of Canada a responsible party. The Treaty, as subsequently submitted to Egypt, made all the difference by eliminating Canada and the Dominions and limiting it to a negotiation which might eventuate in a Treaty as between Great Britain and Egypt.

Then he goes on to say:— Honourable members will notice that the Treaty as finally presented— that is the form I have just read, between Great Britain and Egypt— … is distinctly limited in the preamble, as should be the case when a Treaty applies to only one part of the Empire … That is a very important principle. It is perfectly well recognised that any Dominion or any part of the Empire is independent as to whether it takes part in a Treaty or not. I agree myself, and so do the Party to which I belong, with what was done at the last Imperial Conference when the Dominions were placed in the position of what is called independent sovereign commonwealths. There were certain restrictions with which I need not deal, but it was agreed on by all parties that forms of Treaty should be developed which would exclude from their operations any of the Dominions which did not wish to be bound by the proposals made.

Mr. Cahan, who I suppose is a member of the Canadian Parliament, said: "They made a very delicate suggestion," the delicate suggestion being the sending forward of a Treaty in a form which made them responsible. Mr. Mackenzie King said:— I agree with my honourable friend. I think it was a very delicate suggestion; and I submit that, as presented to us, the documents were not capable of any other interpretation in the light of the rules laid down at the Imperial Conference with respect to the negotiation, signature and ratification of Treaties. But I hope the explanation which I have made will remove any possibility of difference on that point as between the British Government and ourselves. I do not fear that any serious friction will arise in this case upon a point of that sort, but it certainly is unfortunate that this misunderstanding, if I may so call it, had a foundation given for it in the Canadian Parliament by neglecting the forms of Treaty which were agreed upon at the time of the Imperial Conference and forwarding one which would have made the Dominion of Canada responsible.

I will not go back to what I said the other day as to why Canada did not want to become responsible. The Prime Minister said it showed the real peace spirit of Canada, because they had determined that they would not become party to a Treaty in which they were not directly concerned but which might entail military sanctions and military warfare. I would emphasize this somewhat for another reason. I notice that it is constantly suggested that, although we in Great Britain may desire peace, yet our Dominions are not prepared to go the length that we might desire to go in a peace direction. I venture to say that the exact opposite is the case. Canada has shown from the very start more than once, and particularly through M. Dandurand, her very able representative at Geneva, that she has long been prepared to sign what is called the Optional Clause of the Statute of the International Court. That is quite right.

I had rather hoped that Lord Cushendun would have been present to-day, because I read a letter from him stating that the Dominions stood in the way of adopting the principle of the signature of the Optional Clause. I submit that that is totally unjustified. What he referred to was that at the time of the Imperial Conference it was suggested that it might be premature. That was admirably answered by Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, who pointed out, as I have pointed out to your Lordships more than once, that openly and notoriously Canada at any rate—and there were other Dominions also—were desirous, and had often expressed their desire, to promote peace by signing the Optional Clause.

Now I want to say a few words upon the point in reference to which this discusion arose. I say at once that I neither ask for nor intend to embark upon any discussion which could possibly involve any difficulty or increase, any difficulty which stands in the way of the Government in carrying out what I would call the anxious negotiations between them and the Government of Egypt. I want to say that on this point the policy of the Labour Party has been made perfectly clear for a considerable time. The question was stated really in 1922 when independent sovereign power was given to Egypt, and at the same time certain reservations were made. Your Lordships may recollect a debate in this House in 1924 when the late Marquess Curzon of Kedleston classified under four heads the points for discussion—the Sudan, the protection of foreign interests, the defence of Egypt and the security of Imperial communications—in other words, the Suez Canal. I want to say how strong the support of the Labour Party has been in order not to throw any obstacle in the way of the Government but to increase their power to carry their negotiations to what I hope may be a decision fair to both sides.

So far as the question of the Sudan was concerned, in explaining at that date the policy of the Labour Party I found myself in an exceptional position of popularity. I stated that we were wholly of opinion that the obligations towards the Sudan must be preserved without change by Great Britain, and I recollect that the noble Marquess, the late Lord Curzon of Kedleston, said that my statement was entirely satisfactory, as was the additional statement that, if any change were suggested as regards either the Sudan or Egypt, the Labour Party would not sanction it until it had been sanctioned by Parliament, not merely by discussion but if necessary, by a Vote. On both those points the Conservative Party, who were in power at that time, expressed their satisfaction. I do not mention this as a personal matter, but I very strongly object to the suggestion that is heard from time to time that in some way or other the Labour Party are less zealous than the other Parties in this country for our national honour and reputation, and that in some way that I do not understand the honour and reputation of this country in questions of this sort can less safely be committed to them than to either the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party.

As regards the Egyptian question generally, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald has always adopted and stated one policy. His policy is this. There are certain unequivocal questions on which our country has taken up its stand, and on those questions he holds the view that they must be settled in some Treaty form before the general settlement of Egypt can be constitutionally and properly carried through. Of course the way of settlement differs in different views. I have always thought that the Foreign Minister of the Labour Party was a master craftsman in building up an atmosphere of peace and good will. I should like to read to your Lordships a passage that is quoted in the White Paper from a Despatch from Mr. Ramsay MacDonald to Lord Allenby when he was in authority in Egypt. He wrote:— No British Government in the light of that experience— that is, the experience of the European War— can divest itself wholly, even in favour of an Ally, of its interest in guarding such a vital link in British communications [the Suez Canal]. Such a security must be a feature of any agreement come to between our two Governments, and I see no reason why accommodation is impossible, given good will. I hope that none of us see any reason why accommodation should not be possible, given good will. As I read the White Paper, as matters stand the accommodation has not been reached, but perhaps the noble Lord will be able to tell us—I will not ask him more than this—where matters stand now. Do they stand as they did when the White Paper was published?

I want him to note my remarks, because this charge is so constantly and unfairly made against the Labour Party. I have no desire to embarrass the Government in its duty, but I merely remind him that these statements have been made on behalf of the Labour Party and to suggest that on this matter we are all at one. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald then went on to say:— The effective co-operation of Great Britain and Egypt in protecting these communications might in my view have been ensured by the conclusion of a Treaty of close alliance. That is the policy still. The presence of a British Force in Egypt provided for by such a Treaty freely entered into by both parties on an equal footing would in no way be incompatible with Egyptian independence, whilst it would be an indication of the specially close and intimate relations between the two countries and their determination to co-operate in a matter of vital concern to both. Then he adds these words:— It is not the wish of His Majesty's Government— he was then at the head of the Government— that this force should in any way interfere with the functions of the Egyptian Government or encroach upon Egyptian sovereignty, and I emphatically said so. I think that in a matter of this kind it is extremely important that there should be no division of opinion in this country, so that negotiations of this kind may be brought to a satisfactory issue, and I must say that I regret that it sometimes seems to be suggested that the Labour Party has less regard for national matters than other Parties.

Let me say that we approach this matter from a national standpoint only, as indicated by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald in the statements that I have read. There is, of course, the difference that one Minister may succeed in promoting an atmosphere of good will and peace where another Minister has not the same success. I earnestly believe that, in the words used by Mr. MacDonald when he was Foreign Secretary, with good will an accommodation is not impossible, and that with good will we may have the great advantage of a friendly Egypt and a far greater guarantee than any other of the safety of our communications through the Suez Canal. I formally move, as we sometimes do on these occasions, for Papers, but of course I shall not press that Motion if the noble Marquess tells me that there are no further communications that he can safely lay upon the Table or put before the public at the present time.


My Lords, the Motion which the noble Lord has put on the Paper this afternoon has given me an opportunity of making a few remarks on a subject in which I have been particularly interested for a number of years, as a practical student of Empire politics. I also wish to take this opportunity because I have during the last two months paid a visit of several weeks to Egypt. I do not propose to deal with the first part of the noble Lord's Notice regarding the statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in the Dominion House of Commons. I propose to confine myself to the latter portion, in which the noble Lord asks for information as to the progress of negotiations with the Egyptian Government. Perhaps the noble Lord will not be surprised if I do not approach the subject from exactly the same angle as himself, because he in his missionary zeal—if I may put it in that way—for the cause of peace throughout the world, very often, I think, blinds himself to the realities of the case with which he is dealing. Therefore this afternoon, if my remarks follow along a somewhat different line of thought from that followed by the noble Lord, the House will understand why I am doing this.

It happened that during my visit to Egypt the crisis which has recently developed in the joint affairs of Egypt and this country came to a head, and consequently I found myself witnessing one of the critical political situations which arise in Egypt from time to time. To the surprise of many Egyptians, and certainly of many of the Europeans in Egypt, that agitation fizzled out very quickly, and this was owing largely to the restrained but efficient action of the Cairo Police, but also, and this is particularly interesting, very largely I think to the apathy of the Egyptian labouring classes, who are weary of the continued political upheavals, and desirous of carrying on without interruption their peaceful avocations. Attempts were made by school-boys and students to arouse public opinion, and ultimately the Wafd, the local Sinn Fein organisation, decided to call them off, as they were only disclosing the lukewarmness of the support. So the agitation died down. Then Sarwat Pasha resigned. There followed a couple of weeks of political difficulties, and comings and goings, and then Nahas Pasha, the President of the Wafd, became Prime Minister, and immediately he, as his first action, confirmed the decision of the Egyptian Parliament and rejected the Draft Treaty in unequivocal terms.

I now come to the real object of my intervention in this debate. During the past few weeks there have been various declarations by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, which have been conveyed to the Egyptian Government through the medium of our High Commissioner in Cairo, Lord Lloyd, and one of the principal declarations which has been made was that we have reverted to the position outlined by the Declaration of February 28, 1922. I wish to give your Lordships' House just an extract from that statement, as it is very important. It said:— Now that conversations with the Egyptian Government have failed to achieve their object, His Majesty's Government cannot permit the discharge of any of their responsibilities under the Declaration of February 28, 1922, to be endangered, whether by Egyptian legislation of the nature indicated above"— that is certain legislation with regard to public control and order, being passed by the Egyptian Government at the present time— or by administrative action, and they reserve the right to take such steps as in their view the situation may demand. That, I submit, is an unequivocal declaration of the situation taken up by His Majesty's Government only a few weeks ago.

It is important, in this regard, to refer to the Declaration itself, from which the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, has already quoted. That Declaration said:— In view of this responsibility and of the vital importance to the British Empire of British interests in Egypt, the British Government had reserved by the said Declaration to its absolute discretion those four points which have already been quoted, namely:—

  1. "(a) The security of the communications of the British Empire in Egypt;
  2. (b) The defence of Egypt against all foreign aggression or interference, direct or indirect;
  3. (c) The protection of foreign interests in Egypt and the protection of minorities; and
  4. (d) The Sudan."
I should like to ask His Majesty's Government—I do not know whether the noble Marquess will be able to give a reply to my question this afternoon—whether the British Government have definitely gone back to 1922 or, on the other hand, whether the provisions of the Draft Treaty of 1927 are still open for negotiation with the Egyptian Government. In my judgment, and with all respect to His Majesty's Government, the reply to that question is of great importance, because there are two provisions in that Draft Treaty which in my opinion—and I think when I read them to your Lordships' House you will agree with me—conflict seriously with points referred to in the Declaration of 1922, and which were said at that time to be of vital importance to the British Empire.

I believe from what Lord Parmoor said a few minutes ago that he, too, believes that those points are of vital importance to the British Empire, and as he was speaking, as he said he spoke, for the Labour Party, I assume that the Labour Party also believe that those points are of importance to the British Empire. I turn to that Draft Treaty, and I find that Article 7 of the Draft. Treaty says:— In order to facilitate and secure to his Britannic Majesty the protection of the lines of communication of the British Empire, and pending the conclusion at some future date of an agreement by which His Britannic Majesty entrusts His Majesty the King of Egypt with the task of ensuring this protection, His Majesty the King of Egypt authorises his Britannic Majesty to maintain upon Egyptian territory such armed forces as His Britannic Majesty's Government consider necessary for this purpose. We find wedged in this particular part of the Article these words:— and pending the conclusion at some future date of an agreement by which His Britannic Majesty entrusts His Majesty the King of Egypt with the task of ensuring this protection. Now, supposing that Draft Treaty had come into effect and had been ratified, this country would have committed itself, by virtue of those words, to entrust at some future date to the Egyptian Government the task of ensuring this protection.

I should like in that connection to quote from a Memorandum written by Sir Austen Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and appearing in this same White Book, dated July 13, 1927, only four or five months before he allowed this Draft Treaty to go out of the Foreign Office, and you will observe how that particular clause conflicts with the expression of opinion contained in the Memorandum. He says:— I had last year drawn his attention"— that is, Sarwat Pasha's attention— to the reservations which we had attached to the grant of Egyptian independence and to the obligations no less than the rights which those reservations imposed upon us. The rights were vital to us. No British Government could afford to ignore them. My predecessor had asserted them as plainly as I could do. They were, in fact, so essential to the existence of the British Empire that every British Government in the future, as in the past, whatever its complexion, would be obliged to insist upon them. I was old enough to remember the circumstances of our intervention in Egypt in the early eighties. My father was a Minister at that time. I could recall the sincerity with which the Ministers of that day had declared that our occupation was only temporary— I ask you, my Lords, to mark those words that "our occupation was only temporary"— and that it would be withdrawn at the earliest possible moment. But circumstances had been too strong for us. The moment of withdrawal had never come, and the events of the intervening forty or fifty years had shown that neither of us could escape from the situation in which God had placed us or evade the mutual relations which that situation imposed upon us. In spite of that very definite declaration by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in July, 1927, we find in Article 7 the words I have just read out, which foreshadow the possible assumption by the Egyptian Government of this office of protection. I submit that this should never have been inserted in that Article, and that, as the negotiations are in a state of suspension, that Article, certainly from that point of view and from a further point of view which I propose to mention directly, should be reconsidered in any future negotiations that may take place, or in any negotiations that may be taking place.

I come now to the second part of that Article, which reads:— After a period of ten years from the coming into force of the present Treaty, the high contracting parties will reconsider, in the light of their experience of the operation of the provisions of the present Treaty, the question of the localities in which the said forces should be stationed. And then it goes on:— Should no agreement be reached on this point, the question may be submitted to the Council of the League of Nations. Should the decision of the League of Nations be adverse to the claims of the Egyptian Government, the question can, at their request and under the same conditions, be reinvestigated at intervals of five years from the date of the League's decision. In anything I am about to say on this quotation I hope your Lordships will acquit me of any intention to attack or in any way disparage the League of Nations or its activities, for, on the contrary, I have a great regard for the League of Nations and a great respect for the work it has done in smoothing the differences between nations of an independent character, and especially the task it has so admirably performed in assisting to restore Central Europe.

But I have always contended that the League of Nations has no function in arranging or adjusting the domestic concerns of individual nations. The destiny of Egypt has been entrusted to us for nearly fifty years. It has been entrusted to us by other nations, and I deprecate strongly that the League of Nations should have any say in the matter of how we carry out those responsibilities and maintain law and order in Egypt, or of how we look after the interests of the various nationals or after the capital which has been invested in that country by Europeans. At the end of that Article it says: Should the decision of the League of Nations be adverse to the claims of the Egyptian Government, the question can, at their request and under the same conditions, he reinvestigated at intervals of five years from the date of the League's decision. I should like to ask what would happen supposing the question were remitted to the League of Nations and the decision were adverse, not to the Egyptian Government, but to the British Government. The British Government would find itself perhaps in a very awkward position. It might find itself compelled by the conditions which existed at the time in Egypt to come into conflict with the League of Nations, and having to tell the League of Nations that, in spite of this Article, they could not abide by the decision of the League of Nations.

I suggest that this clause is fraught with the greatest danger to the British Empire, and possibly with the greatest danger to Great Britain itself. I sincerely hope that the Government will take what I have said into, consideration, because I am perfectly certain that if this matter were debated in the House of Commons and it wits known in the country what that clause contained it would arouse the greatest feeling and the greatest opposition. If this Treaty is ever signed in this form and with the provision in it I shall feel myself compelled to vote against it if it comes before your Lordships' House. I can assure your Lordships that there is a very strong feeling in Egypt and throughout the East amongst British people that the policy of the Governments of the last seven years since the War has been most vacillating; that they are continually finding themselves let down, and that they do not receive the support which is their due and which was theirs in the past. I assure your Lordships that the various races living in and occupying those territories in the East do not regard us with the same degree of respect as they were wont to do before the War, because our policy has been one of concessions. That is understood in the West but is regarded in the East as a form of weakness. Justice and firmness have been the bases of our success and of our popularity in the past. I hope that the Government will look seriously into the whole situation as it exists in the East and that they will stand firm in China, in Egypt and wherever our interests are at stake.


My Lords, I do not complain in the least of the noble and learned Lord for having taken this opportunity of raising these questions. They are of very great importance and I only regret that owing to circumstances with which the noble and learned Lord is acquainted I must not detain your Lordships at any great length on the present occasion. In regard to Canada we have this advantage which we did not possess on the last occasion—that by reason of the lapse of time we are now in possession of the full report of what was said by Mr. Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, in the debate to which the noble and learned Lord has made reference. I have read the report of that speech with the greatest care, and may I say at once that His Majesty's Government have no reason to complain in the least of anything which the right hon. gentleman, Mr. Mackenzie King, said on that occasion. On the contrary, I should like to bear testimony to the great courtesy and consideration with which he discharged the very responsible task which was thrown upon him. I have the honour of Mr. Mackenzie King's acquaintance, and I am not surprised to read that he entered into this subject with a full regard to the responsibility under which he stands and with the circumspection which the subject demands.

The noble and learned Lord has pointed out that the gravamen of Mr. Mackenzie King's speech was the slight change of form which took place in the Draft which was originally submitted to the Canadian Government and the form in which the Treaty was ultimately signed.


The noble Marquess means ultimately submitted to Egypt?


Ultimately submitted to Egypt. I am obliged to the noble and learned Lord. Unfortunately, it was not signed; it was ultimately submitted to the Egyptian Government. I had not, when I spoke, the two forms in mind in addressing your Lordships' House, and perhaps I was to blame in that particular. I frankly admit that I had not those two forms in my mind and, undoubtedly, Mr. Mackenzie King was fully entitled to call attention to the distinction. There was, therefore, perhaps, a misunderstanding in the matter. But it is quite clear now, and let there be no doubt about it, that in the form in which the Treaty was ultimately submitted to the Egyptian Government there was no obligation thrown upon the Dominion of Canada, which was, in accordance with the decision of the Imperial Conference relating to Treaties of this description, inferentially excepted from the Treaty by the words that His Majesty only acted for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and not for the Dominions beyond the seas. That is absolutely so.

On the question as to Papers, I am afraid there are no Papers at the present moment which can be added to the White Paper which has already been laid upon the Table of your Lordships' House. On a future occasion I might be able to expand the Papers a little further; but that is the answer which I must give so far as the discussion this evening is concerned.


May I interrupt the noble Marquess for a moment? Does that apply to communications not only between us and Egypt but between us and Canada?


Yes. So far as I know there are no Papers to be laid between us and Canada. I have nothing to add to what I said on that point the last time I had the honour of addressing your Lordships upon the subject. Turning to the question of Egypt, the noble and learned Lord was at pains to prove that in matters of foreign policy the Labour Party might be relied upon to take a patriotic attitude. I do not deny that for a moment. Why should I? The Labour Party consists of Englishmen and Scotsmen, and we expect, of course, that all Englishmen and Scotsmen will be patriotic. Though, perhaps, one cannot say it is always the case, yet in the vast majority of cases it is so, and I fully believe and I am very grateful for the fact that in matters of foreign policy the Labour Party intend to be guided by patriotic considerations.

With regard to the position in Egypt, any one who has followed this matter knows that my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made a statement in another place in answer to a question on April 4. I have nothing really to add to that answer. There are no negotiations going on. Since the Treaty was rejected by the Egyptian Government there are no negotiations. The situation is as it was. My noble friend who has just sat down asks exactly what that situation is. The Treaty was a great effort on our part to come to an arrangement with Egypt. It has been rejected and the status quo ante immediately arises. We go back to the situation before the Treaty was negotiated—that is to say, we go back to the situation which the noble and learned Lord recited and which my noble friend recited, the situation which was embodied in the celebrated statement, including the four reserved points, of which both noble Lords have reminded your Lordships. The Treaty being rejected the status quo ante arises and that is the situation at this moment.

If my noble friend will forgive me—I make no complaint whatever of his speech—I will not discuss in detail the provisions of the Draft Treaty because it has been rejected. There would be no useful purpose in going into the details. If, hereafter, the subject were resumed between the two Governments, the result of last year's negotiations having been rejected, it does not in any way commit His Majesty's Government if and when fresh negotiations are undertaken. I am sure my noble friend fully realises the importance of that position, and that being so I am sure he will forgive me for not going into the matters of detail to which he very legitimately referred. My noble friend spoke in some terms of general criticism of the policy of His Majesty's Government throughout the East.


May I say it was a general criticism of the policy of all Governments since 1918–19, not any particular criticism levelled at His Majesty's present Government.


I am very much obliged for that comparatively friendly assurance of my noble friend. I agree with him that anything in the nature of vacillation in policy, especially in foreign policy and most of all in foreign policy in the East, is to be deprecated. I earnestly hope it may be avoided, but there is no doubt that in administering the policy of this country in foreign affairs since the War the greatest weight must be attributed to the effect of the War. It is absurd to pretend that we are in exactly the same position as we were before the War. No man of common sense would pretend it. We must pursue the very heavy task which is before us as well as we can with that dignity and that strength of purpose which has always characterised British policy. We must avoid vacillation, but, above all, we must pursue, if we can, the paths of peace. It is with a policy of that kind we shall hope to succeed, whether it be in Egypt or elsewhere.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Marquess very much for the answer he has given. I purposely abstained from going into the details of the negotiations, acting in consonance with what I may call the patriotic view. I have always understood when negotiations are going on or a delicate position has arisen that we must abstain as much as possible from going at that moment into the details of the question being discussed. I will not say more in answer to the noble Lord (Viscount Elibank). He knows that my views differ from his toto calo. I do not regard the pursuit of justice as vacillation. I regard it as a proof of strength and a desire to do what is right. I again thank the noble Marquess for his answer. I do not press for Papers.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.