HL Deb 01 May 1935 vol 96 cc735-68

LORD DAVIES rose to move to resolve, That, in order to assert the policing principle inherent in the proposals for a Western European Air Defence Pact, it is essential that steps should be taken by His Majesty's Government to implement the provisions of Article 19 of the Covenant of the League of Nations by the establishment, as part of the permanent machinery of the League, of a satisfactory procedure for effecting peaceful change in the relationships of States and for the revision of treaties.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in submitting the Resolution on the Paper, I would first of all refer to the Air Defence Pact which was proposed some few weeks ago, and in doing so I would venture to suggest that in this Pact will be found enunciated the principle of mutual assistance. Mutual protection is, as I understand it, really the principle of international relationships. The principle of mutual protection is one to which your Lordships will assent, because it is the foundation of every civilised community. Every individual citizen is responsible for the safety of the Realm and he is under a mutual obligation to go to the assistance of his neighbours. This principle is enshrined in the Common Law of this country, so that a policeman in the execution of his duty can call for help and assistance upon anyone who may be near the scene of an assault. It is a principle which, I believe, comes down from the very old days of hue and cry, when it was the duty of everyone in the parish to turn out and arrest, or assist in the arrest of, a thief or murderer. For the first time, apparently, this principle is now being introduced into the sphere of international relationships, and, as I understand the proposed Air Defence Pact, it means that if one nation is attacked by any other nation all the signatories to the Pact undertake to go immediately to the assistance of the nation which is the victim of aggression.

I hope that the principle, having been accepted, may be still further developed as time goes on, because I cannot help feeling that here at any rate is the germ of an International Police Force, to which will be entrusted, in addition to the function of protection, the duty of compelling an appearance before some court or tribunal and of upholding the decisions of the international authority. But before those functions can be realised, I think it is clear that there must be some method of peaceful procedure for the settlement of all disputes and, if necessary, for the revision of the public law which at the moment is embodied in pacts and treaties. For that reason I have tried, in the Resolution which I submit to your Lordships this afternoon, to combine the idea of peaceful change with the idea of sanctions. I take it that unless there is some peaceful procedure of this kind the only alternative, sooner or later, must be a resort to war. I cannot help feeling that International Law, so called, which really is no law at all, will never become a reality, or come to mean what we understand by a law, unless it satisfies at least two conditions. The first condition, I suggest, is that there must be some peaceful means of changing the law when it is no longer applicable to the conditions which have arisen since a treaty was signed; and the second is that there must be sanctions to enforce the law in case of necessity. Those two principles are expressed in the Covenant in Articles 16 and 19.

Article 19 was intended to provide for peaceful changes and for the alteration of treaties which were out of date. Article 16 endeavoured to suggest and to imply the kind of sanctions which would be put into operation against a nation which went to war. I think most of your Lordships will agree that Article 19 is a very unsatisfactory one, because it does not go any further than give to the Assembly the right to advise the reconsideration by the Members of the League of treaties which have become inapplicable and also the consideration of international conditions whose continuance might endanger the peace of the world. The function of giving advice is, of course a very important one, but it does not carry us very far, and the experience of the last sixteen or seventeen years, since the League was founded, tends, I think, to show, and, in fact, clearly does show, that if we have to rely only upon Article 19 we shall not be able to make much progress.

It is interesting to note, in passing, that in the original draft, submitted by the British delegation to the Peace Conference and prepared by the Phillimore Committee, the intention was that Article 19 should be very much broader in its scope, and should be rendered more precise in regard to the functions which it proposed to allocate to the Assembly. My noble friend Viscount Cecil, who was one of our representatives on the League of Nations Committee, proposed a much more formidable article than the one which now appears in the Covenant of the League. His draft proposed that: The body of delegates shall make provision for the periodic revision of treaties which have become obsolete and of international. conditions the continuance of which may endanger the peace of the world. Apparently, therefore, at that time, the representatives of this country were prepared to advocate giving to the Assembly very much more drastic and potent powers than merely those of advising two nations who had a dispute relating to a treaty. Most unfortunately, however, as I think, this draft proposition was watered down, and the final text, which I have indicated to your Lordships, clearly shows that there was to be no question of giving the Assembly powers which would enable it periodically to vary treaties or to propose any revision which in its view was necessary.

I have already said that the experience since the formation of the League tends to prove that Article 19 has been a complete nullity so far as carrying out any revision is concerned. On two occasions attempts have been made to define Article 19 and to extend the sphere of its operations. There was a dispute, for instance, between Bolivia and Chile and the matter was brought before the Assembly, which appointed a Committee of three jurists. These jurists were asked to advise as to the precise meaning of Article 19 and whether the Assembly really had power to intervene in the dispute. The Committee of jurists reported: The Assembly of the League of Nations cannot of itself modify any treaty, the modification of treaties lying solely within the competence of the contracting States. Therefore, in so far as the sovereignty of the States Members of the League is concerned, the Assembly cannot interfere nor can it modify existing treaties by any vote or any action on its part.

The second case occurred in 1929 when the Chinese Government proposed a resolution in the Assembly. That resolution was referred to the First Committee. The Chinese delegation to the 1929 Assembly submitted a resolution for the appointment of a committee to consider and report on the best methods of making Article 19 effective. They pointed out that this Article had not once been acted upon during the decade of the existence of the League. That proposal was referred, as I said, to the First Committee, who reported that they deemed it desirable not to convey the erroneous impression that Article 19 of the Covenant was inoperative and thereupon they abandoned the inquiry. Those two cases, I think, show quite clearly that the existing machinery of the League is inadequate, to say the least of it, to deal with disputes which arise not merely as to the interpretation of treaties, but with regard to their alteration and revision. If that is so, what steps should the Government take in order to make the League an effective international authority?

I want to suggest first of all that it is no use multiplying pacts and treaties. What we really want to do is to provide the League with permanent machinery, so that the will to peace, which we say exists, and the determination to secure justice, can operate through real and practical and living institutions. The Covenant of the League, as I have already tried to explain, has enunciated these two principles—the principle of peaceful change and the principle of enforcement. Therefore it seems to me that the real question is what steps can we take to make those two principles effective? We all know that they were also enunciated in the Kellogg Pact. The Kellogg Pact renounces war as an instrument of policy. War has been the great instrument of revision in the past. What do we propose to put in its place? It seems to me that unless there is some real and effective substitute we are bound once more to drift into the toils of war and into the position when war becomes inevitable. Noble Lords may say: "All that may be perfectly true, but then the League already possesses certain organs and certain institutions; through which this will to peace can make itself felt."

What, then, are the organs of the League? First of all there is the Assembly. Can the Assembly be developed into what Tennyson described many years ago as "The Parliament of Man"? For my own part I do not believe that the world has yet arrived at the stage when any such Parliament can be really effective, because world consciousness has not found the common interests and all those other elements which are necessary before a fully-fledged legislative Parliament call be established. Then the problem of unanimity also has to be solved, as well as the question of assessing the voting power of the nations who are represented in the Assembly. Until those very difficult questions are solved, I think it is quite impractical to suggest that the Assembly can really become an effective instrument of revision.

Next there is the Council. The Council of the League performs many valuable services, but I do not think it was ever intended that the Council should act as a legislative body. Its main function is to conciliate and to bring about negotiation, to endeavour to bring parties to a dispute to the position of arriving at an amicable settlement. The members of the Council exert all their powers and all their influence in order to produce a pacific solution. But supposing negotiation breaks down and conciliation does not work, has the last word been said? Is there no barrier then between the nations in dispute and war? We all know that the delegates who attend the Council are representatives of national Governments who, of course, have to regard every dispute—it is only natural that they should do so—from the point of view of their own Government. They go to Geneva with instructions from their respective Governments in their pockets. They are not expected and never were expected to act, and it was never intended that they should act, as an arbitrary body. For that reason alone I think it is quite clear that the Council is not a proper body to bring about the revision of treaties or pacts.

Then we come to the Permanent Court. There again, I believe it is true that the powers of the Permanent Court are in the main judicial. Its job is to interpret treaties, not to revise them. I cannot help feeling that the Court, which is composed of the most eminent and distinguished jurists, is not, perhaps, the most appropriate body to deal with the political disputes which are involved in the revision of treaties. What, then, is the solution? I beg to suggest that the real solution is to be found in the appointment of what we may call an Equity Tribunal; that is to say, a body composed of persons who, in the words of the 1924 Protocol, by their character and by their competence are best qualified to deal with these very important and vital matters. I suggest that there are men in this world, not perhaps supermen, but men who could exercise the function which they would be called upon to exercise as members of an Equity Tribunal: that they would regard the whole question from the point of view of what was reasonable, what was fair, and what was just as between the parties to the dispute, and what was in the best interests of the world as a whole.

As an example of the functions of a Commission of this kind, I beg to remind your Lordships of the duties and responsibilities carried out by the Lytton Commission, which was presided over by a distinguished member of your Lordships' House. That Commission was appointed by the League, unfortunately after the trouble had arisen. Had it been in existence as part of the permanent machinery of the League, perhaps there would have been no trouble at all, or at any rate the issue in dispute between China and Japan would have been submitted for peaceful settlement and we should have been saved the tragic spectacle of what happened afterwards. The League, however, appointed that Commission two or three months after the outbreak of the trouble in the Far East. The members were appointed not by any national Governments; they were appointed by the Assembly of the League. They were given carte blanche: they were told that they were not to pay any attention to existing treaties but to try to suggest and recommend a fair, reasonable and just settlement of the dispute which had arisen. I therefore cannot help feeling that the Lytton Commission, which produced a most admirable Report, was good enough to try to bring to an end the dispute in the Far East, then the same kind of machinery, the same institution, is good enough to try to bring to an end the disputes which unfortunately prevail much nearer home.

There is one other point before I leave -the question of an Equity Tribunal. Unless some institution of this kind is set up, how is it possible to define the aggressor? How is it possible to be sure that the nation which is dubbed the aggressor has really been guilty of doing something which is wrong? It seems to me that until such an institution has been established it will not really be possible to define the aggressor. I therefore suggest that the true test of aggression is willingness or unwillingness to submit the dispute to a tribunal of this kind. After all, if my noble friend opposite has a grievance against me he can always take me to the court, and then he can call me the aggressor. On the other hand, if he takes the law into his own hands and tries to secure redress himself, or tries in some other way to injure me, then from that moment onwards he stamps himself as the aggressor. I cannot help feeling that precisely the same principle is true in international relationships.

Rousseau once put the point very well when he said: Everyone, having no guarantee that he can avoid war, is anxious to begin it at the moment which suits his own interest and so forestall a neighbour, who would not fail to forestall the attack in his turn at any moment favourable to himself, so that many wars, even offensive wars, are rather in the nature of unjust precautions for the protection of the assailant's own possessions than a device for seizing those of others.

The question is, therefore, how are we going to get over this vexed question of the aggressor? I noticed that in the White Paper circulated some weeks ago there are several references to aggression, as though the whole question of what constitutes aggression had already been decided. I submit, however, that until some peaceful procedure is established for the revision of treaties and for the redress of grievances, we shall not really be able to deal satisfactorily with this question of aggression.

To come back to the proposed Air Defence Pact, I cannot help feeling that the proposal as it stands at present is a rather one-sided arrangement. It is quite true that this country, France, Italy and other countries who are Members of the League have invited Germany to participate in and become a signatory to this Pact, but what in effect they are asking Germany to do is to become a party to the status quo. If the proposed Air Defence Pact is to be effective, it means that it is going to stabilise the status quo, unless some peaceful procedure has been instituted in order to meet the grievances which are felt by those nations who were not victorious in the War. Therefore, the real test of whether Germany and the other nations who also have grievances, or alleged grievances, should come into this Pact is whether it is to be supplemented by some institution which will enable them to appeal to public opinion and to the conscience of the world to put these grievances right.

It seems to me that first of all we have to set an example in this matter. If we really believe in the Air Defence Pact, if we really want security, if we really intend to try to establish the reign of law, then we must submit ourselves to that reign of law before we can expect other nations to come and join us. I noticed in the comments published in The Times a few days ago from their Berlin correspondent the following: Emphasis is laid on the necessity for paying as much attention to Article 19 of the Covenant (revision) as to Articles 10 (territorial integrity) and 16 (measures against an aggressor) 'for the League ought to be distinguished from an alliance of the old style by providingg a guarantee not of the status quo at all costs but of the higher interests of a true peace.' Therefore I cannot help feeling that if His Majesty's Government would be prepared to consider this question of peaceful change, and the procedure which ought to be instituted in order to make it effective, they would go a very long way towards removing some of the obstacles and difficulties with which Germany and the other nations are faced at the moment when they are asked to join in constituting an Air Defence Pact.

Then I come to the question of France. I shall be told, no doubt, by some noble Lords, that France will not listen to any question of revision or will not countenance any proposal to set 'up a tribunal which has to do with political disputes in contradistinction to judicial disputes. I cannot help feeling that opinion in France has changed a great deal and is still changing. I remember that at the Tenth Assembly of the League one of the most distinguished Prime Ministers which France has produced for many a long year, M. Briand, declared that: Countries which submit their disputes to arbitration do not lose any prestige …May we be spared talk of prestige? What harm such talk may do in international affairs. It is no disgrace for a country which considers itself in the right to propose submitting a difference to judges, who will say where truth and justice lie. If the award is not favourable to itself, a country should not, after its first very natural feelings of arrogance, consider itself humiliated because it has to bow to the judgment delivered and carry it out. Every time a country thus saves a war it may be said to have won a victory, even if it loses its case. That was what M. Briand said at Geneva.

I would also like to quote another very distinguished French statesman, who contributed towards the drafting of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1919 M. Clemenceau said: …there must be the necessary machinery for contriving to effect change from time to time, even to the extent of modifying the 1919 settlement itself by adapting it to new facts and new conditions as they arise. I venture to submit that the time has now come when these new facts and new conditions have to be faced, and the real question is how do we propose to deal with them, and is the existing machinery of the League adequate to bring about the changes which are essential? I cannot help feeling that opinion in France has changed very considerably during the last few years. There was a time, of course, when the Treaty of Versailles was sacrosanct, but I believe that that time has passed, and that if France finds that the price she has to pay for her security is the setting up of some peaceful procedure for the revision of treaties, then France will acquiesce in the setting up of that system.

So far as the attitude of our own country in this matter is concerned, I believe that most people will agree that Great Britain is the deciding factor, and that the real question is whether we are prepared as a country and a nation to submit ourselves to the reign of law, whether we are prepared to combine moral and physical force—moral force expressed through this peaceful procedure of the tribunal system, and physical force expressed through the concentration of all our military force in an International Police Force—in order to provide the maximum deterrent effect upon any nation that proposes to disturb the peace. There is a tremendous difference between this system and any of the old alliances. I think it would be a fatal mistake to believe that by endeavouring to encircle Germany with a ring of armed nations, you could possibly bring about any permanent peace. It is a brittle and unsubstantial foundation upon which to build, and therefore I feel that we are compelled, however much it may jar upon our ideas of national sovereignty, to try to institute a new system as part and parcel of the League, in order to preserve the existence of our own country and our own security.

If I may venture upon one more quotation it is this. I would like to quote what Sir John Seeley, perhaps one of our most distinguished historians, said some fifty or sixty years ago: There has been found hitherto but one substitute for war. It has succeeded over and over again; it succeeds regularly in the long run wherever it can he introduced. This is to take the disputed question out of the hands of the disputants, to refer it to a third party whose intelligence, impartiality and diligence have been secured, and to impose his decision upon the parties with overwhelming force. I cannot help feeling that that is the point which we have reached to-day, and therefore I appeal most earnestly to the Government to consider these two questions as complementary—the question of peaceful revision and the question of security. I believe that public opinion in this country is waking up to the fact that we are drifting unconsciously but slowly in the direction of another war, and if the Government have the courage now to give the country a lead, I believe they will find a great response.

I would therefore conclude by suggesting once more that after all the basis of any permanent peace is justice, and that we cannot have justice unless there are these two institutions as part of the machinery of the League—a tribunal to settle all disputes and an International Police Force. May I quote the words of Pascal, which I think are very germane to this question: It is just that whatsoever is just should be pursued, it is necessary that whatsoever is strongest should be pursued. Justice without Force is impotent: Force without Justice is a tyranny. Justice without Force is a myth, because there are always the bad men; Force without Justice stands convicted of itself. We must, therefore, put together Justice and Force; and therefore so dispose things that whatsoever is just is mighty, and whatsoever is mighty is just.

Moved to resolve, That, in order to assert the policing principle inherent in the proposals for a Western European Air Defence Pact, it is essential that steps should be taken by His Majesty's Government to implement the provisions of Article 19 of the Covenant of the League of Nations by the establishment, as part of the permanent machinery of the League of a satisfactory procedure for effecting peaceful change in the relation-ships of States and for the revision of treaties—(Lord Davies.)


My Lords, I think we ought to be really grateful to my noble friend Lord Davies for once again raising this question of Article 19 of the Covenant. The failure to use Article 19 has, I think, had disastrous effects on the situation, and has ultimately led to the unilateral repudiation of treaties, which is fatal. Article 19 is the Article of the Covenant which recognises the principle of change which is inherent in all human life, and if we do not use Article 19 of the Covenant other methods are bound to be used for changing treaties when they become obsolete.

Of the German method of changing treaties when they become obsolete we have had examples during the last few weeks—and they are very German in their characteristics; they are flamboyant and truculent. But Germany is not the only Power to repudiate treaties when they had to be repudiated, and only a casuist would say that the sins of omis- sion of which this country and France have been guilty are any better than Germany's sins of commission; for this country and France, after all, have repudiated the Treaty of Versailles in the sense of not having put into force the pledge to disarm after the War. The English method of repudiation is not the least like the German method, and we disguise our repudiation by saying that the Preamble of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles is not really part of the Treaty. Whenever I have spoken to diplomats or Foreign Office people on this question they have always said that it was all nonsense to say that we pledged ourselves to disarm, because the Preamble of Part V is not genuinely part of the Treaty. It seems to me that that can only be a rather hypocritical quibble and a particularly English method of getting out of what is in reality a pledge.

Your Lordships' House is well acquainted with the question of Preambles. There is the Preamble to the Parliament Act and I have always understood that it was maintained by everybody that that Preamble was not a pious hope, but was in fact a declared intention. The other excuse made is that England has always been ready to disarm and that the stumbling block has been France. If that is true then surely it was our duty solemnly to go to Versailles and censure France for not having carried out the Preamble of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles. We are quite ready to go to Geneva and censure the Germans for their acts of commission; we have not shown any desire to go to Geneva to censure the French for omitting to carry out their pledge under Part V of the Treaty.

When you have censured a nation the next step, presumably, if they refuse to pay attention to you, is to proceed to Article 16 of the Covenant. Now Article 16 of the Covenant is what we have always been 'afraid to use, and I think rightly afraid to use, because Article 16 is, in effect, war. But if you do not wish to use Article 16, that is all the more reason why you should have used Article 19 of the Covenant. Germany and Japan are expanding and dynamic nations, very much the same as England has been for over a hundred years, and we ought thoroughly to understand their points of view. The failure of the League, or rather of the Great Powers in the League, to deal with the problems of these expanding and dynamic nations has forced them out of the League, and the result is that you get the satiated Powers in the League and the hungry Powers outside the League. The result of that is that the League becomes, not really a League at all, but an alliance of those nations who are satisfied with their position against those nations who are not satisfied with their position. Our interest is to belong to a genuine League and not to an alliance, and I hope that the noble Earl who is going to reply for the Government—and who I think probably has a clearer vision than the Secretary of State, who is flushed and bemused by the food and futility of constant international conferences—will feel that the proper policy of England is to avoid action on behalf of a disguised alliance of that sort, but to try to get the hungry nations back into the League, and when you have got them back to deal with their problems under Article 19.


My Lords, I should like to add one word in support of what the last speaker said of our gratitude to my noble friend Lord Davies for having raised this question, because, as he and others have said, unless we can make Article 19 effective it is inevitable that the League will sooner or later disappear. The reason of revolution inside a State is that the Legislature is unable to deal with the grievances of sections of the community in time, and it exercises the unlimited authority of the State in order to prevent resort to violence, in order to give time for the legislative processes to work out on the basis of reason and justice, which certainly would not be done by violence. The purpose of Article 16, as I see it, is to give time to make effective Article 19, and one of the criticisms which I think can be made of the League in the past is that it has not been able hitherto to use that power. I would go further and say it was perhaps a pity that in the famous ballot the question of using Article 19 was not stressed as much as Article 16, because that seems to me to be the core of the League.

I do not want to say anything to-day which might be embarrassing to the Government in connection with the very difficult situation which confronts us. I frankly do not expect the noble Earl who is going to answer for the Government to comment on what I am going to say now, but I should like to bring Article 16 and Article 19 a little nearer to the facts. I think most people now recognise that the Treaty of Versailles was somewhat severe. It is almost impossible, in an age when wars are fought by great democracies who are subjected year after year to the kind of propaganda necessary if nations are going to keep up their resolution and courage in time of war, to avoid their developing in the end a wholly distorted view of the issues. I think democracies at the end of a war are often less fit to make peace than were the old diplomats. None the less most people agree, I believe, that the Treaty of Versailles was severe. In fact a very large body of opinion is enlisted in this country which says that if there is to be peace in the world some form of revision must take place. The issue, as I see it, is whether the kind of revision necessary if there is to be such a pacification in Europe, a feeling among the nations that they have the right to live happily together, can be made by the peaceful procedure of the League.

Germany is by nature one of the great Powers of the world. The Germans are a very great people with a very great history. Germany has endured very terrible things in the last twenty years. At this moment she may be somewhat unbalanced in her attitude to the rest of the world by reason of the treatment to which she has been subjected since 1914, but Germany, if there is to be peace, must be given a place in the world which is appropriate to a nation that normally would be regarded as the most powerful single State in Europe. It is pure delusion to think that the peace of Europe can be founded on any other basis. As I see it, there are four questions that have got to be faced, not perhaps to-morrow but in due time. There is, first of all, the question of the demilitarisation of the Rhine. I am not making the speech of a professional diplomat or of a member of a Government who has got to weigh everything carefully which he says. I am speaking purely as a private individual and therefore may be permitted some indiscretion.

It is no use thinking that for long a great nation is going to submit to one of the greatest areas in its country beings open to invasion by armed neighbours without having the light to defend itself. It is pure delusion to think that that can last. It has lasted some years, but it cannot last in perpetuity, and unless that is remedied by consent it is going to be remedied in exactly the same way as the rearmament, of Germany has been remedied, by Germany taking the law into its own hands and saying to its neighbours: "Now what about it?" sooner or later that is inevitable, and statesmanship in time has to discuss and negotiate about these things and try to get an agreement regarding the limitation of armaments. Secondly, there is the question of Austria, a supremely difficult question, far more difficult when you think of it in terms of strategy than in terms of population. Under the Treaty of Trianon, Austria is forbidden to vote itself into Germany even if it wishes to do so.


Without the consent of the Council of the League.


Without the consent of the Council of the League. To-day, as we all know, there is an extremely artificial state of affairs in Austria and that is by no means the result of conditions in Austria. It is, as everyone knows, the result of interference in Austria both from Germany and elsewhere. Sooner or later that question must be considered in these terms: If the Austrian people wish it, they must be given a free choice of three alternatives—to stay as they are, to enter into a Danubian federation, or, in the last resort, to rejoin Germany. It is no use, in the long run, refusing to face that issue. There is, thirdly, the tremendously difficult question of the so-called Polish Corridor. Fortunately for us, that question has been removed from the purview of the rest of Europe by the Polish-German Treaty, a great act of statesmanship which may lead to a peaceful settlement of that problem in the near future.

Finally, there is the colonial question, raised, as I understand, by Herr Hitler in his conversations with Sir John Simon. It is alleged that he is not so much concerned with the immediate restoration of colonial territory as with the recognition that the declaration of the Treaty of Versailles regarding Germany as incapable of exercising a mandate should be withdrawn. This colonial question in itself must be looked upon more from the point of view of national honour than as a serious contribution to the solution of economic problems. It is a very small point in the national economy; it may have considerable substance from the point of view of national honour. There are all sorts of difficulties about it. Noble Lords are as well acquainted as I am with those difficulties. It seems to me that the question must sooner or later be faced round a table, or it may have to be faced in a much more drastic way. These are the questions which, if the League is to survive, if we are going to have a pacification in Europe, have got to be considered by the League, and, in the light of what public opinion regards as justice, remedies are necessary.

On the other hand, it is no use disguising from ourselves that there is alarm in this country and in other countries as to whether the régime which now exists in Germany is not concerned merely with that fact of revision but with what might be called the reversal of the verdict of the War. Events have occurred in Germany which certainly lend seine colour to that interpretation. The only way of finding that out is willingly to face a reasonable revision, and if that does not lead to Germany's return to the League of Nations and to a limitation of armaments at a low figure then we are faced with very formidable decisions in order to prevent attempts to revise treaties or reverse the verdict of the War by forcible means. I should be the last to underrate the importance of this country having adequate strength whether it is to play its part in the League or outside in order to deal with that situation. I think this country requires to stand absolutely by that one-Power standard which the Government took up in the matter of the air some months ago, because if this country is going to play its part in making either Article 16 or Article 19 effective it will be because its strength is proportionate to the justice of its claim. I do not want to say any more to-day except to repeat that I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Davies for raising this question not only because of the abstract way in which he raised it but because of the situation that actually confronts us. The question of whether we can bring about revision by pacific means and prevent its being brought about by violent means goes to the root of the problem of the maintenance of peace in the world.


My Lords, I shall not detain you for more than a few minutes. I agree it is very desirable that these questions should be discussed, and I am grateful to Lord Davies for having raised the matter. But there are really two entirely distinct propositions before the House. One is the proposition of my noble friend Lord Davies. His proposition is that we should aim at the creation of a permanent Committee, an Equity Tribunal, as he calls it, in order to decide not only what is the law at this moment, the International Law in disputes, but what ought to be the law; that is to say, with power to revise treaties. I am afraid that is an impracticable proposal. I must say so quite frankly. You will not find any precedent for that in any national legislation. There is no case in which you have given to a tribunal the power to revise the existing law of the land. That has always been done by the Legislature and can only be done by the Legislature. By long established principle—and I think my noble friend does not propose to reverse it—legislation in international matters needs unanimous agreement of the parties affected. That has always been the rule. Therefore, with the greatest respect for my noble friend, as he knows I have, I am unable to follow him on that point.

But noble Lords who followed him really put forward quite a different proposition. They put forward the proposition that Article 19 ought to be made effective in order to deal with a variety of disputes. As a general proposition, I am entirely in agreement with that point of view. My noble friend Lord Lothian mentioned four different propositions. I think he will agree with me that there is not any prospect of any of those being decided in the near future. It may be proper and right to have them in our minds for ultimate decision, but to suggest them at this moment, to add these, or any of them, to the existing controversies in Europe, would not, I am afraid, make for peace but for additional disturbance and additional unrest. I venture very respectfully to remind my noble friend that there are not only these questions. There is a great deal to be said about each—about the question of the Rhineland, the question of Austria, the question of the Colonies and the question of the Polish Corridor. Ultimately there is a great deal to be said in favour of revision. I quite agree. But he must remember that there are immense interests in Europe. There are the new States, for instance, whose very existence depends on the Treaties of Versailles and Trianon, and the moment you suggest—I have tried the experiment myself—any modification of those Treaties, all those countries, whose interests are bound up with the existence of the Treaties, are in arms in a moment, terrified by the suggestion.

I do not say that is conclusive against attempting anything, but that is the difficulty, and when you say, as I say, that Article 19 ought to be made effective, what is the reason it has not been made effective? In the whole history of the League, so far as I remember, only twice have attempts been made to use it. One was some question, the details of which I really forget, in South America, and that broke down on a question of form. The other was a single speech by the Chinese delegate suggesting that Article 19 might be very usefully employed in rewriting what are ordinarily called in the Far East "the unequal Treaties." Personally I was warmly in favour of the proposal. I forget whether the British Government of the day was or was not, but I personally was warmly in favour. I would have been very glad if the Chinese had persisted with it, but, after a rather perfunctory attempt to get the matter referred to under Article 19, the Chinese Government did not persist in the matter at all. I regret it. I have always thought that it would have been a very good solution of the unequal Treaties, at any rate at that time when things were perhaps less difficult than they are now.

The trouble has not been that Article 19 is incapable of being used, but that nobody has yet had the courage or the hardihood to ask for its use. If it was asked for, the procedure would be very much what my noble friend Lord Davies suggests, except that, ultimately, it would have to depend upon the consent of the parties to the Treaty which were affected. What would happen in the case of an application under Article 19? It would come before the Council or Assembly of the League, and a Committee would be thereupon appointed; in the ordinary procedure of the League, to enquire into it. The matter would be enquired into. It might be arranged that the Committee should be of the type of the Lytton Commission, which my noble friend praised. You could have your inquiry now perfectly well, and there would of course be a report to the League, but ultimately nothing could be done, except indeed by war, against the will of the parties to the Treaties which were affected. Therefore I, personally, believe that we ought to be continually saying, and our Government ought to be continually saying, whenever a fair opportunity occurs, that they have no objection to and would be glad to see Article 19 made effective in proper cases. But we must, I think, at the present moment leave it to the countries that desire a change to take action under Article 15 at the proper time.

May I just add this? I hope it will not go out that this House is under any misapprehension in the matter. The difficulties with Germany at this moment have nothing to do with the revision of Treaties. That is not the point. The point is not that Germany is asking for a revision of Treaties. What they are saying, and saying with a great deal of force, is that there was a bilateral contract—"We on our part undertook to disarm and you on your part undertook that when that had been done you would follow suit." I do not mean to say that was the diplomatic language in which the two obligations were framed, but that there were those two obligations no one can seriously deny. I cannot myself. There are not only the provisions of Part V of the Treaty, to which my noble friend Lord Esher referred, but there is the celebrated correspondence between M. Clemenceau, representing the whole of the parties to the Paris Conference, and the German delegate, in which it was said quite specifically; "We do not ask you to assent to the disarmament provisions without anything else; we ask you to assent to them on the ground that you ought to be the first to disarm in view of the circumstances that have taken place and we will follow suit as soon as possible afterwards." Those are not the exact words, of course but that was the clear understanding.

I personally deeply regret the action that the German Government have taken for some time. Having, as I think, a strong case, they seem to have done everything that human ingenuity possibly could suggest to put themselves in the wrong. I feel very strongly that if they had proceeded in a rather different way there would have been no answer to their case; but, as they have chosen instead of proceeding in that way, rather arrogantly and offensively to tear up their obligations without taking any other step, they have, I think, put themselves in the wrong. But the strength of their ease is not that they are asking for a revision of Treaties, but that they are asking for the fulfilment of the Treaties and the obligations entered into at Versailles. That is the strength of the German case as I see it.

I do not want to go into other more controversial matters, but I must add this. Without going into detail upon the matter, I cannot help feeling that a great chance was missed at Stresa and Geneva recently. It may have been perfectly right to censure the German action, since it was unquestionably of a most brutal character, but I think it a great pity that the opportunity was not taken at the same time to reassert and re-recognise our obligations and the obligations of all the other Powers in connection with disarmament, and to give some effective pledge that at last a real attempt was going to be made to make those obligations effective. I cannot help feeling that if that had been done it would have been a complete answer to the complaints now raised in Germany. And, what is more important, it would have been the real, sound, just thing to have done in the circumstances. Subject to those reservations and criticisms, I certainly agree that any permanent system for the pacification of Europe must include proper and adequate machinery for the revision of treaties which have turned out to be unsuitable or which are obsolete or unjust.


My Lords, I only intend to occupy the time of your Lordships for a very few minutes, but I cannot help feeling that the Government in replying to this debate must realise that a rather unfortunate position has been stated by successive speakers. The noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, said that there were four main problems in Europe that must be faced, and then remarked that they were not capable of being dealt with at the present moment. It seems to me to be not very helpful to diagnose the position in such a way that no useful results can come. As I understand it, my noble friend Lord Davies has submitted to the House the advocacy of a certain machinery of revision which he believes essential at the present moment. I think that even he must realise that revision under Article 19 through what he calls a tribunal in equity, having regard to the present position of the League of Nations, is to some extent a rather academic proposition. If Article 19 of the Covenant of the League of Nations is to be operated successfully there are two necessary preliminaries which must be satisfied. It seems to me vital, in the first place, that an attempt should be made to complete the membership of the League so far as Europe is concerned; and secondly, that a much more sustained effort should be made to remove anxieties and apprehensions which, at the present moment, occupy the minds of the nations which have to operate Article 19.

All the four propositions which the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, has submitted for the Government's attention are considered for the moment to be beyond the region of practical politics, but there is one aspect of revision which I would put to the Government as not academic at all. In my judgment, having seen the matter at first hand in Germany, it is immediately practical to take steps for the revision of the Treaty so far as armaments are concerned. It may be difficult to deal with the demilitarised zone, it may be difficult to deal with Austria, it may be difficult even to deal with the question of Colonies; but one matter which in my judgment it is comparatively simple to deal with is the revision of the Treaty so far as armaments are concerned. Unhappily a very fine effort on the part of the Government has been, only momentarily I hope, frustrated. The Government decided to explore the position in many capitals in Europe. They produced an atmosphere which might easily have led to a satisfactory agreement. Then certain indiscretions occurred not only on the part of Germany but also, as I venture to submit, on the part of our own country. The terms of the White Paper were by no means helpful in providing an opportunity for devising a satisfactory arrangement of the tangled situation. I would submit to the Government that there lies upon them an immediate responsibility to show the method by which the Treaty of Versailles can be revised so far as armaments are concerned.

Two years ago, the Government submitted to the Disarmament Conference a Draft Disarmament Convention. That Convention was specific, it was detailed, it even mentioned for discussion what should be the size of the armies and the air forces of the various countries that would be asked ultimately to sign the agreement. Some similar action by the Government at this moment is, in my judgment, the only method by which we can restore the opportunity of negotiation. If we continue merely to diagnose, if we continue merely to explore, no fruitful result will come at all. Nor, as I venture to think, will any useful result came by attempting to deal with the machinery of revision as submitted by my noble friend Lord Davies. What is required now is, first, the cessation of long-distance recriminations, of making speeches, of writing articles in the News Letter, and of other long-distance communications which only irritate and lead to no practical result. If at this moment the Government could repeat the leadership which they showed when they submitted the Draft Disarmament Convention and put before all the countries—not exclusively Germany but all the countries simultaneously—a new Draft Convention indicating in detailed form exactly what they proposed for this country, for France, for Germany and for other countries, an opportunity would then arise for those countries to declare their attitude to those practical proposals.

Germany at the present moment has broken unilaterally the Treaty of Versailles and in breaking that Treaty has brought upon herself, properly and naturally, the condemnation of all Powers who think that it is vital at the moment to preserve the honourable obligations into which nations have entered. In response Germany states that so far as her navy and army and air force are concerned she requires certain specific forces. What is required at the present moment is not to condemn these figures as they are revealed by Germany, not to condemn similar figures revealed by Russia or Italy or France or ourselves, but to put down in perfectly practical form, which might take the shape of a new Draft Convention, what is proposed for Germany and for all other countries. Then, if Germany shows that her demands are such as to reveal a sinister intention so far as the peace of Europe is concerned, the nations would be in a far better moral position to deal with that attitude of mind on the part of the German nation than they can ever hope to be under the régime of the Treaty of Versailles.

What I venture to put to the noble Earl who is going to reply on behalf of the Government is that the principal item in the process of revision of treaties at the present moment is to give a clear indication of proposals concerning not only ourselves and our previous Allies but also Germany, and to see the response from Germany and our previous Allies. I cannot but think that the distrust of Germany at present largely arises out of the technique of the negotiations which are going on. If you could place before Germany definite and practical propositions worked out in constructive detail, then Europe would have the opportunity of judging both the bona fides of those who desire treaty revision on our side and the bona a fides of those in Germany who desire revision.


My Lords, the noble Earl who is to reply for the Government no doubt, with his knowledge of procedure in your Lordships' House, was prepared to find this debate extending over the whole field of foreign affairs. For my part I want to reserve myself for the debate which will take place next Tuesday, on the specific question of the attitude to be taken towards Germany. Therefore I desire only to confine myself to the very narrow point which has been raised by my noble friend Lord Davies with regard to the revision of treaties. I think we are a little apt to lay down the maxim that treaties are obligations of honour entered into for all time. We really ought to admit that treaties are, for the most part matters of expediency entered into at a certain moment. I believe that in many, if not in all, treaties the expression is used that they hold rebus sic stantibus—in the particular circumstances of the time. Admirable as Article 19 of the Covenant may be, it was not to be expected that revision would be obtained under it. As the noble Viscount, Lord Esher, very aptly said, the two sets of nations are those that are satiated and those that are hungry, and you will not get a moment of agreement in which you will bring those two together with a view to revision. Somebody is going to lose by revision, and the person who is going to lose by revision will not enter upon negotiations for revision.

I have humbly suggested before, and I would suggest again, that the solution is not in the setting up of any body with regard to the revision of treaties; but it should be made inherent in the treaty itself that it is automatically brought up for revision periodically at intervals of five years. The contracting parties would then have an opportunity of saying whether they desired to continue the treaty, and, if not, what were their reasons for discontinuing it. As it is, we have the most unsatisfactory method of drawing up a treaty, forcing it probably on an unwilling party, and allowing it gradually to fall into abeyance, which is the preliminary to its repudiation, and in some cases its repudiation by violence. That is most unsatisfactory. The other method is for the treaty gradually to lose effect, the phrase rebus sic stantibus having ceased to be true. I do not know if I am absolutely accurate, but I think I am right in saying that twenty-five years after the signing of the Treaty of Vienna in 1816—or rather, later—no single article of that Treaty remained except the one delimiting the frontier of Switzerland. It all fell into desuetude, into abeyance. Now the Treaty of Versailles has already been allowed to lapse in many of its articles, but that is an unsatisfactory method because the articles which are resented still remain.

I only wanted to call attention to the fact that we must not emphasise treaties as being so tremendously sacrosanct when they are favourable to us, but we must recognise that they are matters of expediency which should be dealt with according to the times, which are changing constantly and year by year. I would reserve what I have to say with regard to the present situation and to Germany for the debate which is to take place next week, and I do not want to complicate the task of the noble Earl who has to reply for the Government.


My Lords, I think the Leader of the Opposition resumed his seat with some slight suspicion of a smile when he talked about the complication of my task in having to answer this debate. It has been an extraordinarily interesting one, but I think I shall at any rate have the sympathy of the House in trying to reply to the innumerable points that have been raised. We have dealt with a considerable part of the disarmament question; we have been as far as the Far East; we have travelled throughout the length and breadth of Europe, and back into history as far as the Treaty of Vienna; and I am supposed to have to deal with all of it. At any rate I can say this to start with. I am afraid that I very often find myself in conflict with the noble Viscount who sits on the Cross Benches, but on this occasion I think I can agree with almost everything that he said. Perhaps I can get him to agree with me even further when I remind him of the concluding words of the Joint Resolution which was adopted at Stresa. He will remember that he said he always thought that an opportunity had been lost at Stresa in not reopening the disarmament question. The last few lines of paragraph 5 of this Joint Resolution read as follows: The representatives of the three Powers nevertheless reaffirm their earnest desire to sustain peace by establishing a sense of security, and declare for themselves that they remain anxious to join in every practicable effort for promoting international agreement on the limitation of armaments. There, straight away, is a declaration that the three Powers at Stresa are again prepared to go into the question of limitation of armaments. The noble Viscount shakes his head, and I suppose he thinks that there is very little value in that statement.


No, I would not permit myself to think that for a moment, but I must say that I think it is couched in such vague and general language as not to carry a great deal of importance. I think you must go much further and be much more definite and constructive if you are going to deal with the present situation in Europe.


I entirely agree with the noble Viscount, but Stresa, was hardly the moment, and indeed the moment has as yet hardly arrived. The noble Lord, Lord Allen of Hurtwood, remarked that we should draw up a new Draft Convention and put into it the figures proposed for Europe. I wonder, however, if he considers what that would entail. We are told by Herr Hitler that he proposes to establish thirty-six divisions for Germany. I cannot believe for one moment that any other part of Europe would agree to a proposal of that kind, and I think the noble Viscount who sits on the Cross Benches would agree with me. We must allow the situation to develop a little further, and we should at any rate be justified in waiting to hear what Herr Hitler has to say when he makes the speech which is announced to be given somewhere about the fifteenth of this month.

The noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, went over even wider grounds than most of your Lordships. He remarked that he was in a privileged position in being able to deal with matters entirely on his own responsibility. I hardly think, however, that the House will agree with him in that remark, because he holds a very responsible position in the Liberal Party. I should very much like to follow him over some of the points he raised. I am at any rate prepared to follow him in regard to one point, and indeed to go very much farther than he does, in regard to the Treaty of Versailles. I have made no secret of my own personal view on the point. I am not for the moment talking for the Government on this particular matter, but I have said more than once that, whoever may be responsible for having actually won the War, the person who undoubtedly lost the Peace Treaty was Mr. Lloyd George, his own leader. We have' all suffered from the effects of the Versailles Treaty, and I doubt if there is anybody living in any Party now who would not rejoice to see that Treaty drawn up in a different way from that in which it was drawn up.


If I might intervene on that point. In view of the fact that the Government of which the noble Earl is so great an ornament is always explaining to this House and in another place that it is unable to carry out the policy it would like because it has got to carry with it its own friends, it is ridiculous to suppose that the British Government was in any different position in 1918. If the noble Earl will take the trouble to read the document put forward officially on the part of Mr. Lloyd George about March, 1919, he will realise that the British Government's proposals were moderate. I do not think it is possible to compare the difficulties of the present day with the enormous difficulties which were then encountered. To suggest that the Treaty of Versailles was carried out on Mr. Lloyd George's own responsibility is as inaccurate as the view that the Government of to-day can decide for Europe exactly what it thinks to be ideal.


I do not suggest that Mr. Lloyd George was the sole author of the Treaty—that would be ridiculous—but the situation then was that you had what I think was called the Big Four dealing with a Treaty, which would be much simpler than is the situation to-day where we have so many nations concerned. However, that is a very long way outside the Resolution on the Paper, and therefore I do not want to pursue the matter, certainly at the moment. Some of it will come up for reconsideration again when the matter is discussed next week. Lord Davies put forward in his interesting speech two premises in his Motion, and I hope he will forgive me when I tell him that both are incorrect. In the first place he says that there is a policing principle inherent in the Air Pact, and in his speech he said that the Air Pact for the first time produced the principle of mutual assistance and mutual protection.

I think he hardly realised that this country has gone a very long way already in this direction, because the Air Pact is merely an extension of the Locarno principle. The whole idea of the Treaty of Locarno is mutual assistance and mutual protection. It was drawn up, as he knows, amongst the Jive Powers of Western Europe, and the proposals for the Air Pact apply to these same Powers. All they in fact do is to propose that a limited agreement should be made between those same Powers to guard against a specific form of aggression by undertakings of mutual assistance. That is merely clarifying the principle which was accepted by this country when it signed the Treaty of Locarno, and that is the same principle as we have been supporting with regard to the Eastern Pact, and the proposal for a new Air Defence Pact. There is no suggestion in either of these proposals that there should be alliances directed against any one nation or group of nations; the whole essence is that they should be pacts of mutual assistance and mutual guarantee. That does not bring in the police principle. It is an entirely different principle, because instead of having your police force to impose a settlement on any nation and any aggressor, it is the proposal of Locarno and of the Air Pact, and of the Eastern Locarno, that groups of nations should come together to defend themselves against any one nation who may attack them. It is not the police principle but the co-operative principle, and brings nothing of the police principle into it.

The second premise which the noble Lord puts forward is that the setting up of permanent machinery for effecting peaceful change in the relationship of States is implicit in Article 19 of the Covenant, and that we should be merely carrying out the terms of that Article if we accepted his Motion and gave effect to it. It is exactly the contrary. If the noble Lord studied again Article 19 he would see that it proposes that the Assembly of the League should suggest to nations who have treaties which have become inapplicable that they should reconsider those treaties, obviously in consultation with the other nations concerned, in what I imagine would be a round-table conference. To set up an independent body to adjudicate what the treaty should be, and impose it upon other nations, would be absolutely contrary to Article 19, and it would in fact have to be rescinded and a new Article drawn up in its place.

I am glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, with his knowledge of these matters, made clear what that procedure would entail. It would mean the unanimous support of every member of the Council, and of the majority of the Assembly—a very great undertaking. A reason why Article 19 has never been used, as I understand is the case, is that there have always been some nations who would have objected to its being brought into operation. We have to realise that you cannot satisfy one nation with regard to its frontiers without making another nation give up territory which it is not prepared to lose. Until you can get a greater feeling of friendship and confidence between nations, any procedure to make an alteration of frontiers will certainly lead to more difficulty and friction than if we left things as they are.

The House as a whole, if it will forgive my saying so, seemed to think that generally speaking there is no provision for the alteration of treaties. That is quite untrue. In almost every treaty there is either a time limit of years. subject to renewal after a number of years, or there is power for the treaty to be abrogated and brought to an end by any one of the signatories. That is not true with regard to the Peace Treaties. They were proposed apparently in perpetuity, and there is no provision whereby they can be automatically amended or any nation can bring them to an end; but I think the House rather forgot the situation which existed only a few weeks ago. After the Declaration of London of February 3, it was, of course, proposed that this country, through the Secretary of State and the Lord Privy Seal, should go and discover the views of other countries with regard to Part V of the Treaty of Versailles. It was actually proposed that the views of Herr Hitler should be enquired into, to see whether it would be possible for there to be a revision of the Treaty and for something to be put in its place in order that Part V with regard to arms should be brought to an end and replaced by some other enactment. In point of fact it was at that moment that the German Government announced the beginning of conscription in Germany, and that of course knocked away the basis on which the conversations were to have been pursued. None the less, members of His Majesty's Government, as your Lordships know, did visit various countries and enquire the views of the Dictators who rule in them, and then the matter was discussed further at Stresa.

The noble Lord, Lord Davies, was good enough to send me a pamphlet, with the production of which I suspect he had a good deal to do, dealing with the Equity Tribunal. He also mentioned in his speech a further proposal which appeared in that pamphlet, and which I suspect is a part of his own idea—namely, that not only shall an. Equity Tribunal be set up to alter the Treaties, but that there should be an international Police Force to see that these alterations are enforced on other countries, and the countries compelled to accept them. I do not know whether he has considered what an International Police Force at this moment would entail. If you take the basis of Germany's thirty-six divisions I think you would probably find that his Police Force would run into something like two or three million men for the land force only. I base that calculation on the fact that as regards at any rate land warfare, defensive arrangements certainly are stronger than offensive arrangements owing to barbed wire, machine guns and so on, as I think was found in the late War; and for an attack to be successful—and of course it would be an attack by the noble Lord's Police Force against a nation defending its own frontiers—instead of having three or four to one, he would probably require five or six to one, which would involve vast figures, and figures which, of course, neither this country nor any other, so far as I know, would be prepared to contemplate for a moment.

The noble Viscount, Lord Esher, mentioned the sins of omission committed by this country and by France in regard to the disarmament clauses of the Peace Treaty. I see he is not in his place, so I will not pursue the subject further than to say that I am surprised that any member of your Lordships' House should still take the view that this country failed to fulfil the disarmament clauses of the Treaty and has not disarmed on land and sea and in the air to an extent that I think hardly any of us, at this moment, would consider was anything less than possibly unwise. He spoke of the disguised alliances of the satisfied countries. Well, I spent three weeks at Geneva recently discussing an Arms Convention. I can only say that if the Powers there represented were only allies, I found them certainly not always in agreement with the views which I was putting forward, and there was nothing like a disguised or open alliance, either in regard to that or any other question. As not unusually happens, this country put forward rather a mild point of view, compared with those of others, and in the end other countries discovered that the view we were putting forward was probably the most practicable one from the point of view of getting results, and it received a great deal more support in the end than my noble friend on the Cross Benches gave us credit for a few weeks ago.

Several noble Lords, I think, spoke of Germany having broken the Treaty because other conditions besides those of disarmament have not been fulfilled. But I think I am right in saying that Herr Hitler has made it quite clear that, once the Saar question is settled, as it now has been, he had no territorial differences whatever with France or with any nation in the West of Europe, and no territorial ambitions in that direction. In regard to the Rhineland, which I think was mentioned by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, that, if I remember rightly, forms part of the Treaty of Locarno, which is one of the Treaties which Germany agreed to sign voluntarily. It is, therefore, as Herr Hitler says, in an entirely different category from the imposed Peace Treaties, and it is a treaty Which he is prepared therefore to continue to fulfil in every particular. It would, of course, mean an extremely serious situation if there was any suggestion, either here or elsewhere, that not only the imposed Treaty of Versailles should be abrogated, but that similar action should even be applied to treaties such as that of Locarno.

It was suggested by several noble Lords that we shun d take very definite action at Geneva. I shall at any rate receive the support of the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, in saying that we are by no means the deciding factor at Geneva. I think we have very great influence there, but we are certainly by no means the deciding factor, as Lord Davies suggested, and what we say there does not by any means necessarily receive acceptance from the other Powers, either of the Council or of the Assembly. I think I have answered a good many of the points that have been raised. I cannot pretend to have answered them all, but as regards the Motion on the Paper, I hope I have said sufficient to show that the premises of the noble Lord, Lord Davies, were not well: founded, and that his conclusion, that the method he indicates is the proper way of making peaceful change between nations, is equally unlikely to be true, because if you impose a. settlement upon a country, and then enforce it with his so-called International Police Force, you will undoubtedly have a first-class war at a very early moment.


My Lords, I have to thank the noble Earl for his reply. I am glad to know that we find ourselves largely in agreement on certain points. But I cannot help thinking, in spite of what he said, that the proposed Air Pact does enunciate the policing principle. I understood the proposed Pact would ensure that nations were prepared to assist one another in providing mutual protection. I ought to withdraw the statement that it is the first attempt to introduce the policing principle. To a certain extent I think the Locarno Agreement put forward the same principle, but this, as the noble Earl has told us, is an extension of the Locarno principle.


Not an extension, possibly a clarification.


If the Locarno Agreement is clarified so much the better, but it is also an extension of the principle. I understand that under that proposed Pact, if this country were attacked, other nations would hasten to our assistance, which I believe was not provided for in the Locarno Treaty. To that extent I suggest the Air Pact would be an extension of the Locarno Treaty. With regard to Article 19, I pointed out that the existing powers were advisory, but at the same time its underlying principle is that treaties should be revised, and that was the principle which was for some time discussed in the Commission of which the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, was a member. He wanted to make that principle very much more potent than it was in the Covenant. He proposed that there should be periodical revision of treaties by the Assembly, and I believe that other members of the Commission would assent to that proposition. But if the principle which Article 19 is intended to carry out is the principle of revision, and that revision must be brought about in some way or other, then it seems to me that once that is conceded, the question is how to find the appropriate machinery in order that that principle may become operative.

I would also remind my noble friend that he has not, after all, produced any alternative. It is all very well to say that nations are always to be good boys, that they must agree—let them sit round the table and come to an amicable settlement, that there must always be unanimity. But suppose, as we know is likely to happen, that there is not unanimity, there is not any guarantee that any settlement which is reached will be made effective through a system of mutual security and mutual guarantee, then what is to be done? By all means let the Council go on conciliating. Let the process of negotiation go on. Nobody wants to prevent it. The real question is: Are we going to outlaw war? We have already declared under the Kellogg Pact that we intend to do so. Were we really sincere when we signed that Pact? Are we going to provide the proper machinery for outlawing war? I confess I was rather dismayed when my noble friend apparently agreed that he has no alternative to offer to the existing Article in the Covenant. After all, to get anything through the Assembly requires unanimity, and on the two occasions to which I referred—in the case of Bolivia and in the case of China—the whole question was entirely ignored. It is not so much a question of a nation having the courage to bring these things before the Assembly, but the fact that at the moment there is no effective machinery for carrying out any revision.

I cannot help feeling, as my noble friend Lord Allen pointed out, that though machinery is not the only thing, it is complementary. Obviously you may have a machine, but that machine would be useless without motive power. It is equally true you may have motive power, but unless you have a machine the motive power goes to waste. The same thing is true in this case. We have the will to peace in this country, and all the nations in Europe want peace. How are they to get it unless there is some means through which this will can operate and make itself felt? Whilst not placing too much stress on the actual machinery, I suggest it does not matter how it is done so long as it is done effectively. I would remind my noble friend Lord Cecil that before there was any Parliament in this country, before there was any legislative machine, there was a Curia Regis to which many disputes were submitted and from which a code of law emerged known as the Code of Equity. That was in the stage of hue and cry. That is the stage reached in international relationships today, and I cannot help feeling that the same principles and methods adapted and modified to meet the situation as it exists to-clay would help to solve many of the problems. I must not take up any more of your Lordships time, but would thank the noble Earl for his reply and beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.