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Business of the Conference.

Genoa Conference. – in the House of Commons on 25th May 1922.

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I do not propose to say anything this afternoon on the question of German reparation, or of the relations with France. I understand that there is to be a discussion next week upon that subject, and I shall, therefore, confine myself this afternoon entirely to the business of the Genoa Conference. We had there assembled, probably, the largest gathering of nations that has ever met in the history of this world. We had, I think, 34 nations represented around the tables, and represented, in the main, by some of their leading Ministers. They were there to discuss the restoration of Europe to normal conditions, and the restoration of peaceable relations among themselves. There were nations there at the tables hardly on speaking terms with each other. There had been feuds and misunderstandings between them, prolonged up to the very hour of the Conference. We met in perfect calm, in perfect harmony. We discussed, not all the questions which were in dispute between those nations, because many of them had already been referred to other tribunals, including the League of Nations; but we discussed many of them, and we all discussed those matters in a spirit of perfect amity, right to the very last hour of the Conference. I felt that, if a Conference of that kind had assembled in 1914, the world would have been spared a very tragic experience.

Photo of Mr David Lloyd George Mr David Lloyd George , Caernarvon District of Boroughs

In 1914. I hope the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to continue my statement. We discussed questions of which I had already given a summary to the House of Commons just a week before we went there. The main purpose of the Conference, I think, I summarised quite fairly—the restoration of financial and trading relations, the improvement of diplomatic relations, the removal of disputes which were endangering the peace of nations. Did we succeed? My answer will be simply to state the facts, and let hon. Members judge for themselves upon those facts. I will state them fairly; I only ask that hon. Members should judge them fairly. The attainment of normal conditions in Europe was impeded by numerous obstacles, and the removal of those obstacles constituted the aim of the Genoa Conference.