§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE had the following Notice on the Paper—To ask whether His Majesty's Government will, through their representatives on the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, satisfy themselves that the Mandate over Samoa accorded to New Zealand is being administered 343 with due regard to the best interests of the Samoans; whether Great Britain is bound by the Treaty of Berlin in 1889 to guarantee the neutrality, autonomy and independence of Samoa as a State; whether any petition has been received by His Majesty's Government from the Samoans praying for relief from the conditions imposed on them by the Mandatory; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I only desire very briefly to amplify the Question which is on the Paper. May I say that in the beginning of the Question I make a mistake by talking of the representatives of His Majesty's Government on the Mandates Commission? I am aware that the Mandates Commission has not representatives of nations, but simply individual members who act for the League. I wanted to ask this Question because I understand that His Majesty's Government in Great. Britain have no locus standi in this matter at all—that the Dominion which has the Mandate for Samoa is responsible to the Mandates Commission and to the League of Nations itself, and that our relationship to that Dominion is not that of the Mother Country to one of her Dominions, but is as one independent sovereign State to another independent sovereign State, both Members of the League of Nations. That I understand, although I would say in passing that it is rather interesting, in this tangle of constitutional difficulties that we are getting into with the Dominions, that we are allowing a Dominion to act absolutely as an independent sovereign State in one connection and in another connection we are saying to a Dominion that it cannot refer any matter of dispute to any tribunal except an inter-Imperial tribunal. I believe that we have got ample argument and justification in both cases and I only refer to it to show the difficulties we are getting into with regard to the exact status of the Dominions.
§ Although we can divest ourselves of any responsibility in this matter I rather question whether we can divest ourselves of what I may term interest in the fate of Samoa. I do not know whether the Treaty of Berlin of 1889 was superseded by the Treaty of Versailles on the formation of the League of Nations or not. No doubt the noble Lord will tell me. But under the Treaty of Berlin we 344 did guarantee the neutrality, autonomy and independence of Samoa as a State, and in return received certain specific concessions. As to whether the obligation still exists or not I am not perfectly certain. My reason for putting this Question on the Paper is merely that certain incidents of a rather unfortunate character took place in December, 1929, that there has been grave apprehension in Samoa that there may be a repetition of these occurrences, and that ill-feeling has sprung up accordingly. In any case here we have what is no doubt a very small State in which there is grave discontent with the Mandatory under the League of Nations Mandates Commission. I do not feel quite satisfied that His Majesty's Government can, so to speak, wash their hands entirely of a matter of this kind. I beg to move for Papers.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
My Lords, I would have dealt with the first part of the Question which the noble Lord has on the Paper, but he himself has pointed out that there was a misapprehension on his part in this matter. Perhaps it is as well for me to repeat that there is no representative of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom on the Mandates Commission. It is the case that one member of the Commission is a British subject, but he, like all the other members of the Commission, is appointed in a personal capacity and is, in no sense, subject to instructions from His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom in connection with his functions as a member of the Commission. As a matter of fact he is a member of this House—Lord Lugard—who was here this afternoon and would have taken part in the debate but for the fact that another engagement has taken him away from this House. Quite apart from this, the administration of the Mandate of Western Samoa was, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles of 28th June, 1919, entrusted to His Majesty's Government in New Zealand. The interest which His Majesty's Government in New Zealand take in all matters connected with the Pacific territories, for whose administration they are responsible, and in the native inhabitants of those territories, is well known and His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have neither the right nor the 345 desire to intervene in the matter. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are conscious of the difficulties which have been encountered in Western Samoa, and have followed with sympathetic interest the manner in which these difficulties have been surmounted.
With regard to the second part of the noble Lord's Question—whether Great Britain is bound by the Treaty of Berlin in 1889 to guarantee the neutrality, autonomy and independence of Samoa as a State—the reply is in the negative. That Treaty was annulled by Article 1 of the Convention signed by the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States at Washington on December 2, 1899. The position in Western Samoa is now regulated by the Mandate issued to His Majesty's Government in New Zealand by the Council of the League of Nations, December 17, 1920.
In the third part of the noble Lord's Question, he asks whether any petition has been received by His Majesty's Government from the Samoans, praying for relief from the conditions imposed on them by the Mandatory. A petition was addressed in September, 1931, by certain Samoans to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, asking that certain alleged disabilities should be removed. The petition was forwarded by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to the New Zealand Government with the request that they would cause the petitioners to be informed that their petition had been received but that the matter to which it related was one solely for His Majesty's Government in New Zealand. I desire to emphasise the point that the administration of Western Samoa is a matter for His Majesty's Government in New Zealand, and I feel sure that the noble Lord will appreciate, from his own experience in the public service, the undesirability of discussing in this House a matter with which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is not concerned.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
I am obliged to the noble Lord for his reply and ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.