HL Deb 11 May 1933 vol 87 cc872-904

VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD rose to call attention to the present position in the Far East and at the Disarmament Conference, and to ask whether His Majesty's Government can make any statement as to their policy on those two questions; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, you will observe that I have joined in this Question two topics, the Far East and Disarmament, and I have done so deliberately because in my judgment the two are very closely connected with one another. I will say a few words to start with on the question of the Far East. I do not think that any good purpose is served by ignoring the fact that there has been a partial failure of the peace machinery which we so laboriously set up at the Paris Conference. I am not one of those who think that the intervention of the League of Nations has been wholly futile and fruitless. On the contrary, I feel still, looking back on it as impartially as I can, that the position would have been even worse, much worse, if the League had not existed, because if you had not had the League you would almost certainly have had a scramble among the other Powers in the world in order to obtain some part of the Chinese Empire. At any rate, that is the kind of thing that has happened in time past, and there is every reason to suppose that it would have happened in this case also.

But still, allowing for all that, it must be admitted that since the vital purpose of the peace machinery is to avoid fighting, that purpose has not been accomplished. There is no doubt that for the last eighteen months or more there has been continual fighting going on in that part of the world. Large numbers of human beings have been slaughtered with all the horrible accompaniments of modern war, towns have been blown to pieces by bombing, peaceful citizens have been killed, everything, in fact, which we have learnt to know is the condition of modern warfare has occurred—not on an enormous scale but on a very serious scale—in these provinces. And the result has not only been the suffering that has been inflicted, which is common to all operations of that kind, but undoubtedly the fact that the machinery has been unable to restore peace has encouraged in other parts of the world those individuals, and perhaps even, if there be any, those nations, who are inclined to fish in troubled waters and to believe that in a condition of turbulence they will be able to seize some advantages for themselves and their countries. I do not think it can be disputed, and I should be very much surprised to hear my noble and learned friend who leads this House suggest that that has not occurred.

Secondly, as a consequence of that, these events have undoubtedly contributed to what, after all, is the principal disease which the world is suffering from at this moment, the loss of confidence and the increase of uneasiness in the world. That is a very serious situation, and it has other consequences which perhaps will be obvious as I speak. I am not going into the history of the matter. That is all set out now elaborately in the Lytton Report and in the Reports of the Assembly and elsewhere. It is pretty well familiar, and there really is not any substantial or serious doubt about it. I will confine myself to a reference to the last official international document—namely, the Report of the Assembly of February 24, 1933. If I were to summarise the broad conclusions of that document I should be disposed to adopt the language which was used a few days afterwards in the House of Commons by the present Foreign Secretary. I do not need to trouble your Lordships with the words, because they are pretty well known. In point of fact, what the Foreign Secretary said was that undoubtedly Japan had not acted in accordance with her obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations. He might have added that she had equally not acted in accordance with her obligations under the Pacific Treaty made at Washington, nor in accordance with her promises made on more than one occasion to the Council of the League of Nations. I do not think any of those facts are capable of dispute.

In particular this document says this: It should he pointed out in connection with these events that, under Article 10 of the Covenant, the Members of the League undertake to respect the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. And: under Article 12 of the Covenant the Members of the League agree that, if there should arise between them any dispute likely to lead to a rupture, they will submit the matter either to arbitration or judicial settlement or to inquiry by the Council. While at the origin of the state of tension which existed before September 18, 1931— which was the date on which hostilities broke out— certain responsibilities would appear to lie on one side and the other, no question of Chinese responsibility can arise for the development of events since September 18, 1931.

In other words, this Report finds that the whole responsibility for the events that have taken place since September 18, 1931, must be borne by Japan.

Then it goes on to say a little later on: Whereas the sovereignty over Manchuria belongs to China…Considering that the presence of Japanese troops outside the zone of the South Manchuria Railway— where the Japanese, as your Lordships are well aware, have a right to be— and their operations outside this zone are incompatible with the legal principles which should govern the settlement of a dispute, and that it is necessary to establish as soon as possible a situation consistent with these principles: The Assembly recommends the evacuation of these troops. In view of the special circumstances of the case, the first object of the negotiations recommended hereinafter should be to organise this evacuation and to determine the methods, stages, and time limits thereof. That was the Resolution proposed to the Assembly by one of its Committees, and it was adopted unanimously by the Assembly. The British Government was represented both on the Committee which drew up the Report, and by the Foreign Secretary, if my memory is right, at the sitting at which that Report was adopted, and the British Government voted for the adoption of that Report.

In point of fact, as your Lordships are very well aware, the Japanese Government entirely refused to accept the Report. They gave notice of their withdrawal from the League, which of course will not he operative for another two years, and they have since that time almost insolently defied and ignored the recommendation by still further military operations carried on not only through Jehol, which is really not part of Manchuria at all, but into North China itself. Without going into any details, that seems to me a perfectly clear case of a deliberate defiance of the whole process and machinery by which we hoped to have erected a barrier against hostilities in the past. I cannot help feeling that this is a situation of extreme seriousness. We all know—I am not going to dwell on that this evening—that the circumstances in Europe, and perhaps elsewhere, are such as to give us grave uneasiness and anxiety. We all know there are elements in Europe which appear to be indifferent, to put it very mildly, as to whether the peace of Europe is disturbed or not; and to find at this moment that in its very essential provisions the instrument for preserving peace has been defied, and defied successfully, must add very gravely to our anxieties in the matter. I do not wish in any way to make this a recriminatory speech, but I cannot refrain from saying that in the presence of this very grave series of events which has been gradually progressing ever since September, 1931—getting on for two years now; at any rate, more than eighteen months—the attitude of the Government appears to me to have been lacking in firmness and consistency.

I read in a newspaper quite recently an utterance by one of the officials of the Government. I do not seek to make the Government responsible for it, but it shows the kind of spirit which, at any rate in some parts of the Government machine, exists, and I think it right to draw your Lordships' attention to it. When I say it shows this, of course I cannot pretend that this is necessarily an accurate statement. It is a statement in a Canadian newspaper, and it was reported in more thn one of the English newspapers. It may be that it is entirely inaccurate and— I shall not say unauthorised, because I think that is a stupid word, but even false. This is the statement. It is an interview which Sir Francis Lindley, the British Ambassador at Tokyo, is alleged to have given on his passage through Canada. I think it is fair to read the whole thing: The Japanese had much provocation for their actions in Manchukuo. They had driven the Russians out and thereby gained rights themselves, and the way in which the Chinese were undermining these rights exhausted their patience and led to their military occupation, first of Manchuria and later of Jehol. His opinion is that they will not advance further in China proper. The Chinese were extremely anti-foreign and have caused Britain much trouble, necessitating the despatch of many British troops to Shanghai ten years ago. At the present time they are seeking the friendship of other nations, but that is only because they desire allies against Japan. And then he was asked a further question as to the relative value of the trade between Japan and China, which is not very material to my observations and on which he expressed an opinion, which, as I think, is quite wrong.

That utterance is, of course, the familiar doctrine of those who think that the Japanese are right. It seems to me absolutely inconsistent with the public statements made by the British Government, and if this statement really was made by Sir Francis Lindley, I must say it seems to me to be in conflict with the best traditions of the diplomatic service in this country. But the importance of it is not so much with reference to Sir Francis Lindley himself, but because it gives the impression, which unfortunately is very widespread, I am told, that in Tokyo it is believed that the British Government have never been in earnest in supporting the attitude of the League of Nations or the attitude even of the Lytton Report. Of course if that attitude prevails, if the Japanese Ministers believe that the British Government. feel compelled to say this, that, and the other out of respect for their position in the League, but do not really think so, and that they do not really care a bit what the Japanese do, it is quite evident, granted our position in the Far East, that that will nullify altogether any attempt the League may make to restore peace in that country.

I said before I quoted these phrases that of course they may be untrue. All I can say is they have appeared in these newspapers, and as far as I know they have not yet been contradicted. If they can be contradicted no one would be better pleased than myself. But it is that kind of thing, the kind of impression conveyed by these observations, which has done so much harm. I am forced—indeed this is the main purpose of this part of my question —to try to ascertain from the Government what is their policy now with reference to this question. Here are the Japanese. After repeated assurances that they were not going to do more than this or that, and that their only object was to withdraw as rapidly as possible into the Manchurian zone and all that kind of thing, they have gradually overspread and occupied militarily an enormous district which is commonly compared, and rightly compared, to the area of France and Germany combined, and indeed it is more, because that is without Jehol, and Jehol is a large province as well. They have advanced a considerable distance beyond Jehol, how far I am not sure, because the telegrams in the newspapers, which is all I have to go upon, are a little vague; but they have advanced some distance into China proper. I saw indeed in one paper that they have either occupied or are on the point of occupying a post within 40 miles of Peking.

What I want to know is what is the policy of the Government with regard to this matter. They have assented to a solemn condemnation of Japan; they have agreed to the proposition that she has broken the Covenant; the Chinese have asked, formally asked, for the assistance of the League of Nations in this matter, and consequently for the assistance of every Member of the League of Nations; and I trust the Government have some plan, some policy, by which they hope that the situation, which they must deplore as much as I do, will be put an end to. I am sure they will agree with me that to pass resolutions condemning the action of a Power, or, in the case of a private individual to say strong things about him, and then, when he goes on, or the country goes on, with its policy and indeed makes it still more bitter, still more extreme, to do nothing, is not very favourable to the reputation which you enjoy with other nations or other individuals. I may be asked: What do you say can be done? What is the practical policy that may be pursued? Naturally, that is a matter which is much more easily answered by the Government than by an individual outside the Government, but it does appear to me, I confess, that if the Government are in earnest in desiring to put a stop to this state of things and to induce the Japanese to withdraw into their Treaty rights pending the creation of all proper guarantees to prevent any further infringement of their rights, if that is their grievance, which I suppose it is—if that is their policy, if they really think that is what ought to be done, and I cannot believe that they do not think that is what ought to be done—then surely there are many steps which they could take which would be effective to carry out a policy of that kind.

I do not, of course, ask them to take unilateral action. This is an international matter. They must act with the other nations. I entirely agree with that. And if they can say that other nations are not prepared to take any action that would indeed make a very considerable difference in the situation. It would be very deplorable perhaps—in some senses more deplorable even than now—but it would be a different situation so far as this country is concerned and so far as this Government is concerned. But can they show us, is there any declaration which can be quoted by other Powers that they are unwilling to take action? Our position in the League and in the Far East is such that it is natural for other countries to expect an indication of our policy before they declare theirs. That is, I think, what you would expect. Our interests in the Far East are far greater than those of any country except, perhaps, America itself, and it is very natural that other countries should say: "Well, it is not for us to move; it is for the country that is most able to take effective action, and, what is more important, has most to lose by a violent disturbance of the situation in the Far East." At any rate, any one who knows what has taken place will agree that they do look to us for a lead in these matters.

What can be done, what practical measure can be taken? I think there are several, but one has been brought to our notice in the recent events regarding Russia. There, as I think very properly —I supported them in this House—the Government took a very strong line with reference to a grievance they had, and a very serious grievance, with the existing Russian Government, and they decided to forbid the entry into this country of all Russian exports. They believed, and I think rightly believed, that that was a very powerful means of pressure on the Russian Government. But if you could have had similar action taken by a large number of countries the pressure would have been far greater. Now it seems to me if that was right in the case of Russia it is right in the ease of Japan. The issue with Russia was a very important one—I do not deny it—but the issue with Japan is far more important. People continu- ally talk about Japan's grievances. That is not the point at all. I do not wish to go into that, because the real point is, are you going to stand for the peaceful settlement of international disputes or are you not? Are you going to allow the machinery erected for that purpose to be undermined or are you not? That is the whole question, and the effective answer to that question may well be—I beg your Lordships to believe that I am not exaggerating—the difference between peace and war.

Obviously, if I am right in these views, this question has an immense importance in reference to the other question about which I shall say a few words in a moment—namely, the Disarmament question. But is has an additional importance, which is almost comic, which has been brought about by a recent message from the Japanese Official Telegraphic Agency—that is an agency which, I understand, is under control of the Government —which says in so many words: "All our obligations are naval obligations to keep our fleet within a certain size, and any further obligations we enter into must now be reconsidered because this new State of Manchukuo will require a fleet of its own; and that, of course, will have to be added to the fleet we have at present." I have the paper here if anyone desires to see it, but it is not worth while reading to your Lordships a long extract. I have given, I believe quite fairly, the substance of it. I do not know how much they claim for Manchukuo. It may be a small or a big fleet. Evidently it means the entire reconsideration of the whole arrangements that were arrived at in Washington and London if that demand is pursued. Moreover, it means an additional difficulty and an additional obstacle in the way of the Disarmament settlement. It is for that reason that I very respectfully ask the Government to tell the House what is their policy in this matter, how they propose to deal with it, and what hope they can hold out to the House that they will be able to put a stop to this very serious state of things.

I pass to Disarmament. I desire to begin any observations I have to make on this by offering very respectfully my congratulations, and, if I might put it so without impertinence, my warm approval of the action that has been taken by our representative, Captain Eden, in Geneva. I think he is showing the utmost vigour that he can show. He is subject, naturally, to the control of the Cabinet; sometimes I wish he was not; but he is doing his very best, and he is, among other things, in concert with other Powers, particularly France and America, making great efforts—I quite admit it—to bring that Conference to a successful conclusion. I must add my profound regret, shared by everybody I believe in this country, at the attitude which the German Government has recently adopted in that Conference. I quite admit that it has added very greatly to the difficulties of the situation, has imperilled the results of the Conference, and has been in all respects deplorable. It only exemplifies once again, as I think, that Shakespeare was right when he pointed out that there is "a tide in the affairs of men," and that if we had acted with more vigour and courage last summer we would have produced a result which may be very difficult to attain at the present time.

I want very respectfully to ask the Government what in this matter also is their policy. I have seen in some of the newspapers published here leading articles and other intimations which may be indicative—I do not know whether they are—of an intention on the part of the Government, if the Germans remain obdurate about this question of the standardisation of armies in Europe, to say that in those circumstances they do not think it is worth while going on with the Conference at all. I earnestly hope that the Government will be able to tell us that that is not part of their policy. I cannot help feeling that that would be a most deplorable event. It would give great opportunity to those in Germany who no doubt are anxious for the failure of the Conference, because they think that that would open the door to rearmament by Germany, of saying:

"We were ready on go on," whether they were ready to go on or not in point of fact. It would give those who would be only too glad to seize an opportunity of withdrawing from the Conference a great opportunity of saying that they were not responsible for the failure of this Conference. I think that would be very unfortunate.

Now, I want to say a word about what should be our own attitude in this matter. I quite understand those—and, indeed, I agree with them—who think that this in not the time to suggest that there should be any rearrangement of the frontiers of Germany. I fully agree with what was said so admirably by my right honourable friend Sir Austen Chamberlain the other day in the House of Commons, that this is not the time when it would be desirable to alter frontiers. Nobody would suggest that in the present circumstances it is desirable to alter frontiers so as, for instance, to increase the Polish population subject to Germany. At the same time, I think it is equally important that we should carry out the pledges we have made to Germany. I do not believe in the doctrine that because she is behaving badly we should be slack in doing what we promised. What we promised is quite clear, in my judgment. We have promised to formulate, as far as we are able to do so—it is an obligation which rests on us and on the other countries—a disarmament scheme which should be, broadly speaking (we nave renewed this particular pledge quite recently) such as to grant to Germany not actual equality—that has never been suggested and would be, I think, quite improper at the present moment—but equality of status as it is called.

I see no reason whatever why these pledges should not be fulfilled as far as we are able to fulfil them. In my view even if Germany refuses to go on it would be the right policy for us to go on with the other Powers to draw up a treaty—a perfectly fair treaty and a reasonable treaty—in conformity with the pledge we have given, and then say to Germany if she withdraws—I do not know whether she is likely to withdraw, I rather doubt it—" You have withdrawn. We should have been most ready to discuss every Article with you, but we have done our best without you. It is for you to say whether you accept it or reject it. If you reject it, on you must fall full responsibility for the consequences of that rejection, and as far as we are concerned we shall hold you bound by the existing Treaty, the Treaty of Versailles, which limits your armaments in the way that the Treaty sets forth."

I have had several opportunities of telling some of your Lordships what, in my judgment, would be the right kind of treaty for us to proceed with. I need only remind your Lordships that in my judgment the right plan is that in its first stages the Disarmament Treaty should leave the defensive powers of every State as strong as possible. The first object should be to diminish the offensive power of each State, leaving defensive powers as far as possible in the same position as they are now. I will not go into the details, but I am sorry to say that I have had a difference of opinion with my noble and learned friend who leads the House as to one aspect of it—namely, the abolition of tanks. There are really five offensive weapons but the three most important, I think, are tanks, aircraft and submarines. They seem to me perfectly clearly to be offensive weapons.

As to aircraft and submarines I do not think there is any dispute in this country, and as to tanks I have here an extract from a little book which is the official manual about tank and armoured car training. This is what is said: Tanks should be reserved for their true rôle, which is offensive action, and should then be employed:

  1. (a) to co—operate with the other arms by intervening at the decisive time and place, often by means of flank or rear attacks;
  2. (b) in conjunction with other mobile troops, or independently, to exploit success whenever possible."
That is what the English official document, says. I am informed, although I have not seen the actual document, that precisely the same language is used in the French official document. It is true that in war it is impossible to determine accurately between offence and defence, but when you are at peace and the question is how you are to prevent offence, if it can be shown that a weapon is of such a character that without it and without aeroplanes it is practically impossible to attack defensive positions, then it seems to me that if you get rid of these weapons it would be impossible, or very difficult, for one army to attack a position held by another. It seems to me that this is the line on which we ought to proceed. Indeed, it is the British proposal. Though it does not go nearly for enough in these two particulars, it does proceed broadly on the lines I have indicated. All I ask is that it should be amended, as it seems to me it ought to be amended if you are going to make a really substantial and reasonably effective offer of disarmament which it would be very difficult for any country to refuse.

There is one other observation I desire to make before I pass from this. It is —and I hope I have the full assent of the Government—that in no circumstances, particularly nowadays, could we entertain any proposal made for the rearmament of Germany. I saw it stated in one of the daily newspapers this morning that Dr. Rosenberg had had an interview with the Foreign Minister and pressed for some measure of rearmament. That may be merely the speculation of an ingenious commentator, but it is a possible and indeed a very probable suggestion as to what the Germans may be saying both here and at Geneva. I hope that the Government will stand absolutely firm on that point and not admit any kind of rearmament. I believe that in the existing circumstances that would be worse almost than even the break—down of the Disarmament Conference. If you are going to create, for instance, a German Air Ministry with German pilots and German officers trained for fighting purposes, it does not matter whether they have a small Air Force at their command or a big Air Force—or it does not matter much—there would be brought into existence a regular machinery (with officers prepared to use not only the actual military machines but all the civil machines) of a strictly offensive character and the danger of air attack would be enormously increased. For that reason I hope there will be no question of the rearmament of Germany.

Further, and I hope that here I shall also have the assent of the Government, in the condition which has been reached we are bound for many reasons to give very serious consideration to the French proposals for increasing the security of the nations—granted that disarmament takes place. It seems to me that the French in this matter have for the last few months acted with extraordinary wide-mindedness, temperance and cool-headedness. In view of the very great provocation they are necessarily receiving by events on the other side of the Rhine, they have shown remarkable poise, as the Americans say, in this matter and I hope the Government will consider very care fully their proposals for security. The Government have made some proposals of their own which go a certain way to meet the French, but there are other proposals—none of them, as it seems to me, extravagant—which the French have put forward and which I hope the Government will very carefully consider. In particular, the French desire very much, as part of their security, the establishment of a really efficient permanent Disarmament Commission, the purpose of which would be not only to watch over the execution of the treaty, but to prepare further measures for disarmament at the coming Conferences.

I entirely agree with the French. I think it is of the utmost importance to make this body, if it comes into existence, as efficient as possible, and I hope the Government will carefully consider what is to be the composition of the body, because at present I am filled with some consternation about the proposal. I understand the body is to consist of fifty or sixty members who are representatives of Governments, with experts and others attached—a very large body probably running up to 200 persons. I cannot bring myself to believe that a body of that kind is going to be efficient from an executive point of view. It may be quite useful for general discussion, but when it is a question of watching carefully what is happening in reference to the fulfilment of the treaty I cannot think it is the right body for the purpose. It is, I think, much too numerous for one thing; and, further, I earnestly beg the Government to consider whether it is possible to induce the other Governments to agree to a body which will not be directly representative of the Governments. I am satisfied that the moment you get a man directly representative of a Government you necessarily deprive him of all freedom of action. He is bound hand and foot, bound to consider most carefully every step, and in fact nothing is done.

We have had experience of the two kinds of commission at the League of Nations. There was established under the Covenant itself a Military Commission consisting of representatives of the Governments and I do not think it is too much to say that it has never done anything of the slightest value. At the same time there was established another Commission for dealing with Mandates which consisted, I admit, of experts—persons of weight selected or advised by the different Governments, but not representing or binding the Governments, and, once appointed, free to act, as they have acted, in accordance with their consciences in the discharge of their duties. I believe the result has been that we have had one of the most successful pieces of League machinery that has ever existed. Of course from time to time it has got across some Government, but its business is to watch the administration of Mandates and make recommendations upon it. I believe that on the whole it has discharged the duties with remarkable impartiality and fairness and with great skill, and that its work has been of great value in raising the general administration—I speak now a little arrogantly—of colonial territories to the level which we believe we have reached in our own administration. I therefore hope the Government will be able to secure something of the same kind. In any case I believe that if they put forward a scheme of that kind it will be possible for them to resist the German claim to rearmament.

I desire to conclude with just these observations: It may be that in spite of everything Germans will rearm or try to rearm. I am not at this moment and in this House going to suggest what in that case ought to be the attitude of the Government, but I do earnestly hope that they are considering very carefully what that attitude will have to be; that they are making plans, satisfying themselves what is possible and what is impossible, what can be done and what cannot be done, so that if that happens they will be ready to meet the emergency, whatever it may be. I venture to say with all respect, and I hope the Government will not think me impertinent in saying it, that the urgency of these questions is enormous. We really have reached, as it seems to me, a tremendous crisis in foreign affairs. The situation in Europe is in many quarters extremely disquieting. I am not one of those who believe in an immediate war. I do not believe there is any immediate chance of it. But what may happen in the course of a few years no one can tell at this moment, and it is of the utmost importance that we should have a vigorous, courageous and consistent policy. It is of really vital importance that we should foresee as far as we can what is likely to happen and know quite definitely in what way we propose to meet it, and particularly that, having made up our mind what is the proper way to meet it, we should not allow ourselves to be diverted from that way because of the difficulties or even the dangers that may attend it, because in this matter it seems to me that we are playing for enormous stakes, no less than the survival of the civilisation of the world.


My Lords, the noble Viscount who has just sat down speaks with unique authority on these subjects not only in your Lordships' House, but in any assembly which he addresses. I do not propose merely to try to emphasise what he said, but I want to make it as Clear as I can, from the point of view of the Opposition, that we cordially agree with him on, I think, all the points he has mentioned. I want to say further that I hope all Parties in this House will take the same attitude. It makes an enormous difference to our influence at Geneva whether it is known that the whole country is behind a Cabinet on a matter of this kind or whether there is some suspicion of divided counsels. Upon the last points to which the noble Viscount referred I should like to make one or two suggestions. I think we shall all agree with him in his reference to Captain Eden. I do not think anyone representing this country at Geneva has made himself more generally acceptable, both by the opinions he has expressed and by the trouble he has taken, than the present Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

Then as regards rearmament, it would be an unthinkable evil if we in any way supported a policy of the rearmament of Germany at the present time. It is not rearmament that ought to be in our vision at all. It is to reduce other armaments to such a level that the equality of status to which the noble Viscount referred, and which was promised in distinct and direct terms at the time of the Treaty of Versailles, should be brought about. I agree, too, with what the noble Viscount has said as regards certain matters of detail. I do not intend to go into them myself, because he has a much greater knowledge, but from my experience at Geneva I can corroborate him in this respect, that if a Commission charged to see that armaments were re- duced and that no rearmament was taking place, was appointed on the basis of the Mandates Committee as an independent body, there would be no fear or doubt that whatever reductions were considered right and proper would be adhered to by the various countries interested in this matter.

I might make one reference—I do not think Lord Phillimore is here this afternoon—to what took place when I was at Geneva. We had to consider the request then for a proper Commission to see that the disarmament to which various countries were subjected was properly carried out. We had no difficulty. I recollect that Count Apponyi came to talk over this matter, and he said: "We entirely support what your country is proposing, but will you endeavour to make it certain that the head of the Commission appointed with regard to Hungary shall be an Englishman? "Of course I could give no such undertaking, but I do know that from that time until the present no difficulty has been found as regards ensuring by a suitable Commission that the disarmament which was intended has, in fact, been carried through.

To the latter part of the noble Viscount's speech I do not think I wish to add anything. It would be useless for me to repeat what he has said so well, though I should like to emphasise again how entirely the Opposition agree with what he has said. There are, however, one or two points I should like to emphasise in the former part of his speech. In the first place, I wish to emphasise the real importance of what has passed in the Far East, as regards the war between Japan and China. I would like to read to your Lordships what was said upon this point by M. Herriot, whom I have known ever since I met him at Geneva in 1924, and who is a pacifist statesman who has done everything he could as Prime Minister of France to secure peace. Let me read what he says, in order that its importance may be impressed upon your Lordships' minds. He says: The problem, therefore— that is, the problem of the war between Japan and China — arises as to whether the Member States of the League are going to lend their support to their associate, China. China, of course, is entitled to their support against aggression, as noble Lords know, under the direct terms of the Covenant. M. Herriot continues: In all good faith, it cannot he denied that there exists a state of war in its most definite form. It is useless to close one's eyes to the facts; the whole Covenant of the League is involved. That is a point on which I wish to emphasise what has been said by the noble Viscount.

It is in the hands of the Government of this country at the present time—this matter which involves the whole question of the future of the Covenant of the League. It is an enormous responsibility. I believe myself that the further they go in the direction of undertaking that responsibility the greater will be the support which the Government will receive from all classes and Parties in this country. It is not that they have gone too far. Our complaint is that they have not gone far enough. They hardly seem to have realised that if a great reform in these matters is to be carried through at Geneva, our country ought to take the lead. Of course I do not mean in a unilateral manner; I believe they would then find almost universal acceptance of any proposals they might make. M. Herriot then goes on to say that to put an end to this conflict between Japan and China was to oppose to the savage revival of force, the continued action of wisdom, calm and reason. Certainly I agree with every word that the noble Viscount has said as regards the necessity of wisdom and co-operation in this matter.

There is one other point which I would emphasise. I have an extract, to which the noble Viscount has referred, of a statement attributed to Sir Francis Lindley, and it is headed "Sympathy with the Japanese." It is also stated to be a statement made by the British Ambassador in Tokyo. Everyone knows that the statement shows not only sympathy with, but a desire to support. Japan, instead of leaving this matter to the independent action of all the other States in the League, ourselves taking a part, which we undoubtedly ought to take, in enforcing any necessary reme dies. I hope the Government will not allow a statement of that kind by the British Ambassador in Tokyo to pass without notice of their disapproval if they do not approve of it. It is of importance in matters of this kind that the idea that we are backing up Japan, and enabling her to defy the remedies suggested by the Assembly, should not be allowed to get abroad, without a statement by the Government if that is not their policy.

The only other matter which the noble Viscount has referred to is the question of means. I think that the influence of the League has been too long delayed. It is more difficult to deal with the question now than it would have been perhaps a year ago. But if the League is to be a reality and not a sham, if the League is to give the protection to its Members which the Covenant has decided shall be given, then something should be done, and must be done, or else. I agree with what M. Herriot says—namely, that we shall find that the League is brought to a. position in which it has no effective power to carry out the duties that have been imposed upon it. That would be the greatest of all misfortunes in our modern policy. Agreeing as I do with the noble Viscount that we are not likely to have a war in the immediate future, I would also add that in my opinion war will come, and must come, unless the principles and ideals of the League are not only kept in the minds of all nations, but kept in such a form that they can be enforced when the occasion arises. I heartily hope that everyone in this country, certainly everyone in this House, will be in agreement with the noble Viscount in this great question of immediate moment, and in reference to which there is no room for delay.


My Lords, I am sure that you will be grateful to the noble Viscount for raising once more, and especially at this time, the question of our policy in the Far East. The present circumstances appear to be such as to give us very serious matter for reflection. I do not propose to follow the noble Viscount into his analysis of the quarrel between Japan and China over Manchuria, and I am a little inclined to doubt, if I may say so with great respect, whether any good purpose is served by entering into that controversy at this date. We are all acquainted, or can make ourselves acquainted, with the evidence that was presented to the League of Nations. We all know the verdict of the League of Nations. And I think I may say that we all realise that that verdict was not enforced, is not being enforced, and cannot be enforced. In these circumstances it does appear a little useless to scold the Japanese and propose punishments for the Japanese. There seems to be very little object in looking back perpetually at the past. Should it not be the object of our diplomatists to look to the future and the present, to face circumstances as they are to-day, not the circumstances of an ideal world, but the circumstances of a real and very complicated world?

We have to face the fact that to-day Manchuria is a State that at any rate is entirely independent of China. It is, at least in name, an independent State, although it is under the influence of Japan, and it is not difficult, to perceive various analogies with certain aspects of the Egyptian question. No one, of course, can foresee the future of Manchuria, but I think it would be safe to proceed on the assumption that the independence of Manchuria is likely to continue at least for some little time. As to the far future, there are at least three possibilities. There is a very remote, but a very alarming, possibility that it may one day become absorbed within the Japanese Empire. That, I am sure, would be a most unsatisfactory solution, and it should certainly be the object of our diplomacy to avert such an action if it were ever threatened. There is also the possibility that one day Manchuria will again be united, though no doubt with a considerable amount of local autonomy, such as it has always possessed, to China. That is the solution recommended by the Lytton Committee, and it appears to me that the ultimate likelihood of that solution is increased by the fact that the Ruler of Manchuria is the legitimist claimant to the Dragon Throne of China. It may very well be that, in the future as in the past, Manchuria. and China may be united by a dynastic tie. I have heard in some quarters that there are not a few patriotic Chinese who are secretly toasting "the King over the Wall" and humming the old tune: I can foretell That all will be well When the King shall enjoy his own again. But what does appear to be an incontrovertible fact is that the Chinese Republic cannot within any reasonable period recover Manchuria, either by force of arms, or by invoking sanctions, or by peaceful diplomacy.

There is a third possibility. It may be that Manchuria under Japanese tutelage may gradually become more independent, more able to stand on its own feet, and I think that if we study the history of Protectorates of this character we shall probably come to the conclusion that increasing independence is the most likely future for Manchuria. This solution would hardly be unwelcome to world Powers and might afford a very proper solution of the Far Eastern difficulty. I suggest that if we make up our minds that this is, for the present at any rate, a most desirable solution, we should reconsider the question of recognising Manchuria's independence. We need not, I think we should not, enter into de jure recognition, but I think we might very properly recognise that, de facto, Manchuria is an independent State and consequently entitled to receive diplomatic representatives. Already we are being forced very much against our will and in very sad circumstances into some sort of relations with the Manchurian Government. British subjects have been captured by bandits and the help of the Manchurian gendarmerie has been invoked to effect their liberation. It would not be such a very large step to proceed from this form of countenance to the establishment of some kind of diplomatic relations.

If the European Powers had representatives at Mukden they would surely be in a very much stronger position in Far Eastern diplomacy. I fear that at the present moment there is a very great risk of the interests of outside Powers being overlooked. We are particularly concerned with the maintenance of the Open Door. It was said, I think, in the past, that the best way to preserve an Open Door is to place a friendly hand through it. And this applies just as much to Manchuria as it ever applied to China. Of course, I am not suggesting that we should take precipitate or isolated action; it is a matter that will deserve very careful consideration. The utmost I would suggest at the present moment is that we should consider making advances to other Powers with a view to joint action in this matter. It is exceedingly desirable that any action taken should be taken in conjunction with the other Powers, and that we should not act on our own initiative in what is essentially a very delicate situation.


My Lords, we have listened, I am sure, all of us, with great interest to the very full explanation which my noble and learned friend Viscount Cecil has given us of the policy which he recommends both with regard to the trend of affairs in the Far East and with regard to the Disarmament Conference. I sometimes wonder whether the main value of the Motions which my noble and learned friend from time to time puts down on these topics does not lie in the fact that they afford him an opportunity of expressing views which carry weight in foreign countries and to which, naturally, His Majesty's Government would desire to pay the very greatest attention; but I am afraid that whereas the opportunity of hearing his views is undoubtedly a valuable one, the opportunity afforded to His Majesty's Government to state their proposed action on the various matters to which he referred is more in the nature of an embarrassment than an assistance.

He took first the question of the state of affairs in the Far East, and my noble and learned friend reminded your Lordships that there had been a unanimous Report in February of this year with regard to the dispute between China and Japan, particularly in relation to Manchuria, and that that Report had made certain findings of responsibility and certain recommendations, and my noble friend proceeded to invite me to state the policy of His Majesty's Government. I think the most comprehensive and the most accurate statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government in this matter remains now, as it has been throughout, to act as a loyal Member of the League in the closest possible collaboration and consultation with the other Members of the League. We were a party to the Report to which my noble and learned friend has referred, and your Lordships will remember that that Report concluded by observing that the maintenance and recognition of the existing régime in Manchuria was incompatible with the fundamental principles of existing international obligations and with the good understanding between the two countries, that is, China and Japan, on which peace in the Far East depends. The Report went on: It follows that in adopting the present Report the Members of the League intend to abstain, particularly as regards the existing régime in Manchuria, from any act which might prejudice or delay the carrying out of the recommendations of the said Report. They will continue not to recognise this régime either de jure or de facto. They intend to abstain from taking any isolated action with regard to the situation in Manchuria, and to continue to concert their action among themselves as well as with the interested States not members of the League. That declaration remains the policy of His Majesty's Government, and I think, to some extent, that "answers my noble friend Lord Iddesleigh.

After the adoption of that Report the Assembly met again and passed a Resolution appointing an Advisory Committee to follow the situation and to assist the Assembly in performing its duties under paragraph 3 of Article 3 of the Covenant, with the same object—namely, to aid the Members of the League in concerting their action and their attitude among themselves and with the non-member States. The United States Government and the Soviet Government were invited to co-operate in the work of the Advisory Committee. The Soviet Government refused this invitation, the United States Government accepted. The United States representative will not have a vote, because the United States is not, a member of the League, and therefore he will not be a full member of the Committee, but he will be present and take, I hope, a fall share in its deliberations. The Advisory Committee has met. It has decided to set up sub-committees to examine the problem of the export of arms in relation to the present conditions in the Far East. At a meeting of the Committee on March 28 attention was drawn to the fact that inquiries in regard to the export of arms were already under way in connection with disputes in another part of the world—that is, in South America—in the course of which specific questions of principle and of execution have been put before the Governments. It was agreed that, the members of the Committee should consult their Governments on this question in order that the sub-committee might be in the possession of the essential facts as soon as possible. No further, meeting has taken place since the 28th March, because the sub-committee does not at present see that a further meeting could be useful until the position of the United States Government has been made clear by the grant or refusal by Congress of the President's request for powers to prohibit the export of arms in certain circumstances. There was a joint resolution put before Congress by the President of the United States to give the President these powers. It has, I understand, been passed by the House of Representatives, but it still has to be considered by the Senate.

The Advisory Committee has also set up a sub-committee to make recommendations as to the manner in which effect should be given to the recommendation of the Assembly that no recognition should be extended to the de facto situation in Manchuria. The Secretariat of the League has been collecting material for consideration by this sub-committee, and a meeting is about to take place. Practical questions arise in connection with such matters as passports, currency, import licences, and so on, on which some guidance is necessary. It may be said that that is not moving very fast, but unfortunately, as my noble friend knows, it is not very easy to move rapidly in Geneva when you have to maintain unanimity in every matter and when the different countries are very jealous of being excluded from collaboration and consultation in the deliberations which are taking place. My noble friend went on to quote a passage from, I think, an extract from a Canadian newspaper purporting to report some statements by Sir Francis Lindley. Until I heard the quotation I knew nothing about the matter. The first I heard of it was from my noble friend.


I am sorry, but I did give notice to an official of the Government.


All I can tell my noble and learned friend is what I have just said.


I accept that most fully. It was not my fault, that is all I mean.


How long ago vas the notice given?


Several days ago.


Well, I have no doubt it is being enquired into, but obviously, since I know nothing about it, I can say nothing, except this, that Ministers and Ambassadors representing this country in foreign countries have very difficult, delicate, responsible functions to perform. They are by virtue of their position precluded from defending themselves in this country against any criticism or attack, and since it was suggested that what Sir Francis Lindley had done, if he were accurately reported, was contrary to the best traditions of British Ambassadors, I would just like to say, with regard to Sir Francis Lindley, that he is an Ambassador who has for many years served a succession of His Majesty's Governments in responsible positions with great discretion and great distinction, and I at any rate would be very slow to believe he had been guilty of any indiscretion or impropriety.

Then my noble and learned friend went on to say that this Government could take many steps to influence the situation in the Far East. That was a promising commencement which caused me to get out my pencil and await with great attention to hear what some of those steps were. My noble friend went on a little later to repeat that there were many steps, and then he told us he was going to explain some of them. Unless I misheard him he only made one suggestion, and that was that we should invite other nations to co-operate with us in putting an embargo on trade with Japan, and he instanced the course which we had adopted in the case of Soviet Russia. He will forgive me if I say that I think the two cases are not parallel, for this reason, that, apart altogether from any other consideration in the case of Soviet Russia your Lordships will remember that as long ago as October last we had, for reasons quite unconnected with the recent dispute, given six months notice to terminate the trade agreement existing between us and that country under which they had most-favoured-nation rights. That six months expired on the 17th April last. Accordingly, we had a perfectly free hand to legislate as from the 18th April, and your Lordships will remember our Bill was framed so as to take effect from that date.

In the case of Japan the circumstances are quite different. We have a Commercial Treaty with Japan which includes a most-favoured-nation clause that cannot be denounced, I think, at less than twelve months notice, although I am speaking without checking it. Therefore, it would, as I understand International Law at any rate, render any such proposal as my noble friend suggests a clear breach of our Treaty obligation. No doubt the suggestion which my noble friend has made will be considered with the attention that any suggestion of his deserves by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, but I should not like that statement to be treated as any indication that His Majesty's Government intend to bring forward any proposal of the kind at Geneva.

My noble friend reminded us that we have the greatest interest of certainly any European Power in the Far East and that we have the most to lose by a violent disturbance. I am not quite sure, if the sort of action which my noble friend suggests were in fact put into force, whether it would any longer be true to say that we were not likely to have war in the immediate future. At any rate, I think it would be a matter which would require very grave and anxious and long consideration before we could accept a proposal of that kind. All that I can say really with regard to the situation in the Far East is that we are most carefully and anxiously collaborating with other nations at Geneva. I do not in the least dispute what my noble friend said so forcibly, that the fact that recommendations have been made by the Assembly which have not been accepted by one of the parties to a dispute does throw a very grave slur upon the efficiency of the Covenant of the League and is a matter which must be of great concern to all its Members. No doubt it is true that when once the nations of the world have agreed not to resort to force, and when they have not invented any other form of sanction to take the place of force, it is very difficult to find an effective means of translating into practical effect their objection and their disapproval of any disregard of the Covenant or of the recommendations of the Assembly which any Member of the League—and Japan is till a Member for nearly two years to ome—may choose to adopt. All I can [...]ay is, we are considering the matter anxiously with a real desire to fulfill our obligations as a Member of the League, out also with a very keen consciousness that any injudicious action might precipitate the very harm which the noble Viscount, in the latter part of his speech, was so anxious to deplore.

I come to the second part of his Motion, which relates to Disarmament. I was sorry to hear my noble friend say that if we had acted with more courage and vigour last summer, more might have been achieved. He will not expect me to agree with that. On the contrary, my belief is that the Government has acted with a courage almost amounting to foolhardiness in the way in which it has disarmed itself in the hope of persuading other people to do the same, and that it went to the extreme limit in the proposals which it has from time to time put before the Disarmament Conference. I think it is not too much to say that but for the intervention of the Prime Minister of this country on at least two occasions—once in the autumn of last year, when Germany withdrew, and once again in March of this year, when a deadlock seemed to have been reached—the Disarmament Conference must have broken down in failure on both of those occasions.

My noble friend said that we must carry out our pledges to Germany; that we have promised to formulate plans giving Germany an equality of status. It is because we recognise that promise, among other reasons, that the Prime Minister, with the authority of the Cabinet, produced some two months ago a complete Draft Convention at Geneva which, as we think, fulfilled those pledges. No doubt the Convention which was then submitted to the full Conference might have been open to criticism by one Power or another, but we believe that it did constitute a practical scheme which gave effect to the pledges which had been made to Germany, and which did undoubtedly bring about an immense stride towards disarmament among the various nations of the world. Therefore, in our judgment if, with that proposal before them, Germany were to say that she declined to take any part in the discussions, or were to walk out of the Disarmament Conference, she would, in fact, be doing the very thing which my noble friend suggested, She would be rejecting offers which were made in fulfilment of that promise, and she would incur the responsibility for any failure which might ensue.

I am not going to prophesy as to what is going to happen at Geneva. I still hope—the hope may become faint, but I still hope—that it may be that Germany may take what seems to us a more reasonable attitude than that which she at present is apparently adopting, and I should be very sorry to say anything which would lessen the chance of her taking that course. Even if she were to refuse to accept the invitation which is pressed upon her, I think from all sides, to adopt a less uncompromising attitude with regard to Section (1) of Part II of the Convention, it does not necessarily follow that she would leave the Conference altogether. That, of course, we cannot control. We can only wait and see. We are most anxious to see the Conference end in success, and we hope very much that we have submitted a plan in the shape of the Convention which, if it is treated reasonably, could and should result in success. If Germany were to refuse to go on altogether and were to walk out, obviously then it would be a matter for the gravest consideration as to what course should be followed by the Powers which are left.

I think, although I am speaking here without consultation with my colleagues and therefore I am only expressing an individual view, that the juridical result would be that Germany would remain bound by the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, and that any attempt on her part to rearm in contravention of that Treaty would be a breach of the Treaty of Versailles and would bring into operation the sanctions which that Treaty provides. But also it would be, as it seems to me, very difficult to expect some of the neighbours of Germany to be so satisfied with that legal obligation on her part that they would be able to agree to any extensive measure of disarmament, when they had been told by Germany that she was rejecting our Convention and was breaking loose from the Disarmament Conference, and probably, I suppose, that she did not intend to be bound by the Treaty of Versailles.


I do not want there to be any misapprehension. I quite agree that if after a definite treaty has been agreed upon and presented to Germany she does not accept it, obviously the other Powers could not be bound.


I do not think there is much difference between my noble friend and myself. All I say is that I doubt very much whether the other Powers would regard it as very useful or practical or indeed fair to ask them what they were prepared to do if Germany were to say: "We will not disarm, we will not join in any Treaty you may choose to make, we are going our own way." I think that would involve such a strain upon the moderation and good temper and patience, on the part of the French people among others, to which my noble friend has paid tribute, that it would be very difficult to expect them to enter into a Convention or go on with the discussion of a Convention which involved a large measure of disarmament on their part. I may be wrong, it is only an individual view, but if Germany should unhappily take such a course no doubt it would be a matter for very serious and careful consideration, not by this country alone, but by all the Powers represented at the Conference as to what would be the most useful and the wisest course to pursue in those very difficult circumstances.

I do not think that it would be useful for me to re-engage in the long controversy between my noble friend and myself as to the indispensability of tanks. I would only say that in our view—we may be wrong, but it is the view that the Government take and which our advisers unanimously take—the tank is a necessary part of our equipment so long as we remain on our present system of a small, long-service Army. The essential function of the tank is to save life. The real offensive weapon—I see my noble friend shakes his head, I hope he will forgive my putting my point of view—


I am sorry I shook my head. I did it involuntarily.


My noble friend so violently dissents that he cannot keep his head still. The real offen- sive weapon is the machine gun which mows down opposing forces and cuts right through any army which is opposed to it. The answer to the machine gun is the tank. There are two possible answers. One is to have immense numbers so that you can stand the enormous losses which resistance to machine gun attack would involve. The other, which we believe is the infinitely more humane answer, and indeed the only answer so far as this country is concerned with its small numbers, is the tank which protects those inside it from the machine gunner and enables the machine gun post and the machine gun section to be effectually dealt with by those inside the tank. It may be called offensive action because the object of the person in the tank is probably to dispose of the machine gun, but equally it is defensive action because it protects the person in the tank from the inevitable death which any attempt to resist machine gun attack would have otherwise involved. So long as the Army is constituted as it is at present, so long as it remains composed of the very small numbers to which we have been able to reduce it, in face of our increased responsibilities it seems to me an absolutely essential weapon for the British Army.

However, that is not directly the matter in issue. My noble friend referred to the French proposals with regard to security. I would only like to say with regard to that proposal that, as he knows very well, when we produced our Convention we incorporated in Part I of that Convention a series of proposals which we hoped went a long way to meet French requirements in regard to security. Those have not yet been dealt with by the Disarmament Conference because after commencing consideration of Part I, the General Commission came to the conclusion that time would be saved by passing immediately to the discussion of Part II, not because of any wide divergence of opinion on the text of Part I, but because the United States of America—whose assistance in trying to secure a successful conclusion has been so marked—were not at the moment ready to lay down the precise measure of co-operation which they could afford in these efforts to promote the preservation of peace. The United States delegate made it very clear that the help of his country to make collaboration effective would depend to a large extent on the measure of disarmament which it might be possible immediately to achieve. In those circumstances it was thought more practical to go on to Part II and discuss the disarmament part of the Convention, whilst fuller instruction were obtained and whilst the United States Government could put themselves in a position to appreciate all the responsibilities which the security proposals might involve.

I do not think it would be fair to say that the Part I proposals which we put forward did not represent a very real attempt to meet the French desire for security. This country has never disguised the fact that security and disarmament are intimately connected, and that we cannot hope to achieve the one without also bringing about the other. What we have been anxious about is that we shall not give a false sense of security by undertaking obligations on the part of this country, and entanglements on the part of this country, which we could not possibly at the moment carry out. I think I have dealt with all the principal points indicated by my noble friend. I do not pretend to speak on this matter with the knowledge which he possesses, and I am only of course acting as spokesman to put forward so far as I am able the views of His Majesty's Government.


Can you say anything about the rearmament of Germany?


On that I think I can only say that this is a Disarmament Conference, and that we desire disarmament to be brought about. It is not our view that the right way to achieve equality of status is to let Germany come half-way up the stairs and the other countries go half-way down and meet on the landing. I do not think that would tally with public opinion in this country, and I do not think it would afford any increased feeling of security to those who are immediate neighbours of Germany, especially in existing conditions.


My Lords, I am very much obliged to my noble and learned friend, because although we do not agree in every respect, I recognise that he has with his usual courtesy done his best to meet my views and has given a very full answer to what I said. I do not wish to con- tinue the discussion about tanks, but I do wish to call attention to one point. His view is that the attacking weapon is the machine gun and the defensive weapon is the tank. This is what I find in paragraph 44:

"It may be regarded as an axiom that infantry cannot advance against even semi-organised resistance unless that resistance is kept under subjection by fire, and further that infantry must not 'be launched to the attack against unbroken wire.

The use of tanks is the most certain method of breaking down wire obstacles. If the enemy's position is protected by wire, the employment of tanks offers the only chance of achieving surprise."

Therefore, in the view of the writer of this, it is plain that the function of tanks is to break down organised or even semi-organised defensive works, and, though I conceded in my observations originally that once you get into war it is very difficult to distinguish between offence and defence, yet in the outset of war, when beginning it, the party that is moving against the other is the attacking party and cannot move against properly-organised positions unless he has tanks, big guns and aeroplanes. That is the view I still submit and I have not been convinced that it is wrong.

I am sorry if I said anything which indicated regret at or want of appreciation of the Government's action in regard to the Draft Convention. Last autumn, when I had the honour of speaking to this House, I said strongly that I was in favour of that being done and it was only a matter of the terms of the Convention that I still had doubts about. As to the point concerning what we ought to do if Germany refuses our proposals and even withdraws from the Conference, my great anxiety in this matter is to make it abundantly and overwhelmingly clear to all public opinion, including reasonable public opinion in Germany, that we have really done everything and exhausted every possible resource to get a disarmament treaty through and that it is only because we have been prevented from doing so that we have abandoned the attempt, if the attempt is to be abandoned. I do not think there is a serious difference of opinion between us on this, but for that reason I am a little nervous about the talk of 'the possibility of our withdrawing from the Conference.

With regard to the Chinese and Japanese position, I put forward one proposal as an illustration. I cannot help being convinced that, if it were desired to carry out that proposal, means could be found for doing so without incurring any obloquy as to any breach of International Law, and I am utterly sceptical—indeed, if I could find a stronger word I would use it—that any danger of war would be involved in the joint action of all the countries of the world in such a matter. I feel as confident as I can be of anything that that is a mere bogey which ought not to be considered for a moment. I was interested to hear my noble friend say that the Government were acting in close co-operation, though I thought they were a little like the Virgilian rustic just watching the waters go down without making any particular attempt either to cross the stream or to take any other measure to avoid the difficulty. I feel that that has been the defect of the Government's policy right through both in this matter and in regard to Disarmament. They have not, as I think, appreciated the full responsibility which this country has in these matters—a responsibility which I should have thought any one who has been to Geneva would feel in his bones—in that the world waits, and has got accustomed to wait, for our lead, and that it is no use our standing aside and saying: "Let us see what is going to happen and hope for the best."

That is not the function which this country ought to adopt, and I cannot help feeling that, making every allowance for the interventions of the Prime Minister both in Disarmament and the Sino-Japanese difficulty, the greatest opportunities were missed, not in the autumn or spring of this year, but back in last summer when something might have been done without great difficulty, because the Government took the view that its main business was to wait and see what others proposed. That is the view I ventured to express and I still think it is right. I can only thank my noble friend in conclusion for his courtesy and kindness, though I feel he has not removed the difficulties which I felt. I ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.