I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add the words:
But humbly submit to Your Majesty that this House considers that the Anglo-French compromise endangers the prospect of peace in Europe and good relations with the United States, regrets the abandonment of the principle of the limitation on small submarines and cruisers, and considers that the basis of naval discussion should be the extension of the successful Washington treaties to all classes of combatant ships; considers that the exclusion of reservists front the computation of military strength is contrary to the spirit both of the Treaty of Versailles and of the Locarno Treaties, and, by making possible the permanent military preponderance of a Power or group of Powers in Europe, increases the difficulties of substantial progress towards disarmament; deprecates the existence of military or naval understandings of an exclusive character with any Power, and considers that the basis of British foreign policy should be the promotion of friendship and co-operation between all nations on the basis of the covenant of the League of Nations and the Peace Pact.
It will be a matter for general regret that the Foreign Secretary is unable to be present at our discussions to-day, but it is also a matter for general satisfaction and delight that his health seems to be completely restored, and we shall all look forward with great satisfaction to his presence among us again. It is no satisfaction to me to criticise the right hon. Gentleman at all, and least of all in his absence. I do not think the
Government have any reason to complain of the attitude which hon. Members on these benches have adopted towards their foreign policy. Once or twice we have been critical, but, in the main, we have supported the right hon. Gentleman. We gave him assistance and support in his Chinese policy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] That shows how little hon. Members opposite appreciate the attitude which we took up. The right hon. Gentleman has acknowledged it in this House. I have consistently supported his Chinese policy by voice and vote, and so have my friends on this side.
My friends and I congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon his achievement at Locarno, and he had very strong support from the Liberal Press in the country. We have always said that the real test of Locarno was its effect upon the progress of disarmament. The right hon. Gentleman himself acknowledged that test, and adopted it. The Anglo-French Pact is a very sinister comment on that. Let us examine the circumstances which led up to the Anglo-French Pact, because without doing so it will be quite impossible intelligently to comprehend its real meaning. When the Peace Treaty was signed in 1919, the Allies and associated Powers gave an undertaking to Germany that if she disarmed, if she carried out the Treaty obligations with regard to disarmament, they would follow suit. I have got the actual words here, and I may quote them later on. I am summarising them at the moment. They then entered into a solemn covenant with the allied nations in the League immediately to undertake the process of reducing armaments to the lowest level consistent with safety. Up to the present, the only two Powers who have made any real effort to carry out that undertaking are Great Britain and the United States of America, which is not a member of the League.
We, at any rate, made a start. We abolished conscription. I think we reduced the Army and Navy undoubtedly below the pre-War level. We entered into a Pact with America to scrap a great many of our battleships. That was a start. We have not reduced to the lowest level consistent with safety, and since
then we have actually increased our armaments, having first reduced them. A Disarmament Commission was appointed for the purpose ostensibly of carrying out our Treaty obligations to the vanquished Power. That Commission has been sitting for years. It has been meandering along and achieving no purpose. There was a very remarkable description in a leading article of the "Times" on the proceedings, and I think I cannot do better than read to the House this extraordinary account of the proceedings of this Commission during the last few years:
The existence of this Commission is unknown to at least three-fourths of the human race, and public opinion in our own enlightened country is only vaguely aware of it. In a certain smoky committee room in the League Secretariat it is possible from time to time to discover a number of people representing all the States who are members of the League—also the United States of America, and, on occasion, Soviet Russia—who are discussing the technical details of universal disarmament. Some are reading newspapers, some are writing, some are listening to the 35th delegate, who happens at the moment, to be expounding the views of his Government on the technical questions at issue. Others seem to be asleep. The questions discussed are, of course, important. The manner in which they are discussed disheartens the most conscientious observer. In this Commission, in this depressing atmosphere, enlivened only once by an absurd Soviet sensation, the idea of the Anglo-French compromise graduallly arose.
That is the origin of the Anglo-French Pact. Having failed to come to any understanding upon a single definite proposal for carrying out our solemn undertaking to Germany, upon the strength of which she signed the Treaty, some bright intellect suggested that two of the Powers should meet together and sec whether they could not arrive at a compromise which should be a basis for disarmament for all the other Powers. Let us see what the basis of disarmament is. There were three things decided in the Pact. The first was that you should limit all the cruisers armed with 8-inch guns, which means all the cruisers that America wanted. The second thing was that you should have no limit to cruisers armed with 6-inch guns, which we and France needed. The third thing they decided was that you could put up an unlimited number of submarines provided they were not over 600 tons. That is the
way the undertaking for disarmament has been carried out in the Anglo-French Pact.
I am told that that compromise has been dropped, the Pact is at an end, and, therefore, it is unnecessary to discuss it. In the first place, even if it be at an end, the House of Commons, surely, has something to say about it. It is something for which the Government are responsible. It is something they did which is provoking a good deal of suspision, ill-will, and international misunderstanding. This is the first time the House of Commons has had an opportunity of discussing it, and, even if it be at an end, we have a right to discuss it, and, in fact, it is our duty to do so. But is it at an end? That is the first question I would like to ask. The Prime Minister in a speech which he delivered, I think, at the Albert Hall, said it aroused very deep suspicion in America. That is right. It undoubtedly has done so. Have those suspicions been eliminated? If anyone imagines that they have, let him read President Coolidge's speech. It is clear that the suspicions have not been eliminated. There were no threats, but there was an indication of a resolve on the part of America, in the face of the attitude of Europe towards the problem of disarmament, and notably in the face of the attitude which we have adopted towards American cruisers. He indicated very clearly that America proposed to go on with building its 15 cruisers. There are statements that they will probably build fast steamers which are capable of being converted into cruisers.
That is one of the effects of the Anglo-French Pact. But I am going to ask the Prime Minister more than that. Is the policy which is indicated by the Pact at an end? The actual Agreement may have terminated, in fact, but the Prime Minister in July made it quite clear that we depended upon our getting the assent of America. He went on to say that if we did not get the assent, we must concert together with a view to finding other means. There is no doubt at all that French public opinion is clearly under the impression that we are bound by the principles of the Pact. When Lord Cushendun's attention was drawn to these very remarkable words, he was asked why there was no answer, and he said they thought that silence was better. I do not think it is a case for silence. It is a case for making it quite clear what the intentions of the Government are. There are moments when silence is golden, and there are others when silence is brazen, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman a few questions in order to make it clear whether, not merely this particular Agreement is at an end, but whether the principles which guide and dominate this Agreement have been finally abandoned? To what extent will the Government pursue the general course indicated in this Agreement on the Disarmament Commission in future?
My second question is a still more specific one. At Washington we stood for the abolition of submarines. Lord Balfour and Lord Lee, on behalf of the Government of the day, actually proposed it. The United States of America were sympathetic in their reply at that time, and they subsequently gave their adhesion to that policy, and if anyone will look at the letter written to Mr. Houghton which appears in the White Book, he will find that the United States of America are quite prepared to associate themselves with us in a general proposal for the abolition of submarines. Have we abandoned that position in favour of a Pact of unlimited submarines under 600 tons? The third question is this: At Washington we went in for a limitation of craft, and we proposed to proceed with limiting battleships and the very powerful craft. We proposed to go on to discuss the limitation of small craft. Where do we stand now in that respect? Are we in favour of the limitation of the small cruiser? Because, after all, anyone who knows what happened in the War—and we all have it in our memories—will know that the most dangerous craft to us is the small craft, and the most useful craft to us also is the small craft.
The next point is this: In Washington we laid down the principle of parity with the United States of America, but with no other naval Power in the world— 5.5.3. In the Anglo-French Pact we de- parted from that principle and accepted the principle of equality, as far as small craft were concerned. That is a very serious departure from the Washington policy. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman, among the other questions I have put: Does he depart from the Washington policy of parity with the United States of America but supremacy to other naval Powers, whether it is for great craft or for small craft?
The other question bears upon land forces. Before that unfortunate Pact, we took up the position that in computing the military forces of Europe you must take into account reserves as well as the peace strength of the armies; and then when you cut down you must cut down all round. We abandoned that position in the Anglo-French Pact. What is the position now after that Pact has been dropped—if it has? Is it as we were? Are we going to take up the position, the very bad position, of insisting that these colossal reserves in Europe shall not be brought into the estimates and computations? Have you considered the question of cutting down military forces in Europe? The Prime Minister stated, in one of his recent speeches, that he stood by Locarno. The Pact is a complete reversal of Locarno. He talked about it as the keystone of the arch. The keystone has gone; it is an archless rainbow—Locarno.
May I say to the Prime Minister that no vague declarations will be satisfactory in face of the definite and alarming facts of armaments in Europe? There must be some definite, concrete, and material effect given to our Treaty obligations. What are those Treaty obligations? To begin with, I will take the Treaty of Versailles. It is quite overlooked too often by the Allies that there were mutual obligations there. We wrote a letter to the German Delegates. It was signed by M. Clemenceau, as President of the Conference, on behalf of all the Powers assembled in Paris. We wrote to the German delegates, and said, "This devastating War which has now come-to an end has been largely due to the colossal armaments accumulated by Germany. We therefore mean to bring them to an end." The Germans answered, "We are quite willing to accept your terms with regard to armaments, provided you follow our example afterwards." What is the reply that we gave? I think it is right that the House of Commons should be reminded of the Treaty of nine years ago. This is the answer:
The Allied and Associated Powers wish to make it clear that their requirements in regard to German armaments were not made solely with the object of rendering it im-
possible for Germany to resume her policy of military aggression. They are also the first steps towards that general reduction and limitation of armaments which they seek to bring about as one of the most fruitful preventives of war, and which it would be one of the first duties of the League of Nations to promote.
What is the condition that was put by the League of Nations in the forefront of the Treaty?
The members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety"—
We shall see how that has been carried out
and the enforcement by common action of international obligations.
Those are our two definite undertakings to Germany. Germany has carried out her obligations. She was to reduce her army to 100,000. She was to scrap her great artillery and all her machinery of war. Three years ago the Council of Ambassadors in Paris, after investigating all the reports sent in by the Allied Control Commission in Berlin, reported that Germany had carried out her obligations. That was over three years ago. What have we done? What have the Allies done to carry out that obligation? We had Locarno. There has been a good deal said about "the spirit of Locarno" What is "the spirit of Locarno?" It was not a guarantee of security of France. The guarantee of security of France was only a means to the end. France said, "I cannot pursue that course until first of all my own frontiers are guaranteed." The guarantee was given. Britain, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Belgium handed it in. On the basis of that guarantee France signed a Treaty that henceforth all disputes between her and Germany and the other Powers should be referred to arbitration.
What does arbitration mean? It means that you apply to the nations the same principles as already have been accepted by individuals, that is that a person's life, property, and honour are subject to the protection of law, and that the sanction of law is the force which the community will wield, and not the in- dividual. The individual, however powerful, who tries to enforce a perfectly legitimate right is guilty of a crime against the good order of the State. That was the principle that was accepted at Locarno. What did the guarantee mean? Even if you reduced the forces of France, Britain, and all the other Powers to the level of Germany there would be at least five to one behind that guarantee.
But what followed Locarno? Refusal to evacuate the Rhineland, although by the Treaty, France, Belgium and ourselves were bound to leave the Rhineland the moment Germany was fulfilling the obligations of the Treaty. What is the next? An increase of armaments on the part of the signatory Powers.
The armaments of France have gone up since Locarno. The armaments of Italy have gone up since Locarno. Although probably the statement would be challenged I think I could demonstrate that the armaments of this country have gone up. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Certainly they have gone up. The aerial armaments have gone up. Take the actual figures of money spent, upon the basis of 1924. [Interruption.] You asked me to prove it. If it does not interest the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I will go on with my argument. This is what has happened since Locarno. I have some ground to travel, but I am quite willing to take France and Italy alone as signatories of the Treaty. [HON. MEMBERS: "You said Great Britain!"] I maintain that your figures to-day are 104, as against 100 at the date of the signature of the Treaty of Locarno. If that is not an increase in armaments, what is? That is the second. The third is this: The signature of the Anglo-French Pact is the third answer to Locarno—the agreement between France and ourselves, two signatories of the Treaty of Locarno, that there should he no limit upon submarines under 600 tons, and no limit to small cruisers. And the other one is that when you come to the Disarmament Commission the huge reserves which constitute these colossal armies in Europe are not even to be debated by the Commission.
That is what it means. France and Italy and the rest, Poland, Czecho- slovakia and Belgium, are not even bound to put their figures in, and, if anyone attempts to put the figures in, we are prepared to support the Chair in ruling them out. Those reserves constitute more than three-quarters of the armies of Europe to-day. And this is done without as much as notifying Germany that we have entered into that Pact. Germany is one of the signatories of the Treaty of Locarno. The right hon. Gentleman claimed at the Albert Hall that he treated Germany with exactly the same impartiality as he treated France. Here is an agreement which certainly affects Germany, because it rules out a discussion of three-quarters of the armies of her neighbours. And we have never even sent a note to Germany to say that we had entered into that Pact. We sent a note to Tokio, to Rome, and to Washington, after some delay, but none to Berlin. They had to make inquiries, and when they made inquiries there was no copy of the Pact sent to them. It is an incredible arrangement front our point of view. I cannot understand a British Government entering into such a pact. What does it mean? Unlimited submarines, unlimited small craft. We have signed a pact, and sanctioned that, within perhaps an hour's sailing of our trade routes. It is an amazing arrangement to have entered into.
Not that we are ever going to have a conflict with France. I believe that that is inconceivable. For 113 years we have had peace with France, and I do not believe, whatever happens, whatever misunderstanding we may have, that we shall ever come to blows. That is not the danger. The danger is panics. Misunderstandings you are bound to have from time to time. There have been three serious misunderstandings with France since I have been a Member of this House. I remember that the Foreign Secretary himself was a member of a Government which had one of the gravest conflicts with France, short of coming to blows. On all these occasions there is always the danger of panic—and you will have unlimited submarines and unlimited cruisers. It is an act of supreme folly for any Government to agree to such a proposal from our own point of view. But what is the effect on America? There is no doubt at all that it has created a feeling, as the right hon. Gentleman himself called it, of very deep suspicion in America. President Coolidge's speech is full of it. It was not merely the thing itself, but it was the way in which it was done. There was the delay in notifying America, which was very serious. There was the fact that it was entered into at the very time that, we were negotiating the Kellogg Pact—the Kellogg Pact, outlawing war, entered into openly with banquets and blare of trumpets; the other Pact negotiated at the same time in a back room in Paris with a point directed against the American claim.
That had a very unfortunate effect upon opinion in America and deepened the disgust with which America regarded this Pact. There is one very great journalist, who does not always appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but who, in the main, supports His Majesty's Government, and he has given a very fair description of the whole transaction. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I refer to Mr. Garvin. [HON. MEMBERS: "He supports you"] I wish he did I should be only too delighted to have such a brilliant supporter, but, unfortunately, he is a critic of mine. In the main, as I have said, he supports His Majesty s Government, and let me quote his description:
By this Pact we have forfeited to an unpleasant extent both confidence and respect.
He adds later on:
There has been no more dull, obstinate, mishandling of American psychology since George Grenville.
I think that is a very fair account of the whole transaction. A good understanding with all Powers, of course, is essential to peace, but a good understanding between us and the United States is more important, almost, than a good understanding between any two countries on earth. Our own interest and the peace of the world depend upon it, end any man who even contemplates the possibility of conflict, and any man, certainly, who advises this country to pursue a. course based on the assumption that such conflict is possible, ought to be treated as a dangerous lunatic. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, and I hope it will reach ears lower down than the hon. Members who are cheering. The United States covets no
territory. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] President Coolidge said so, and I think the whole of their history bears that out. In the Peace Treaty they refused to take a mandate—if you like to put it in that way—in respect of any of the German colonies. They have only one interest, and that interest is common with our own. [Interruption.] I hope the right hon. Gentleman will treat this matter more seriously. I think when we are dealing with a matter which involves the peace of the world, it deserves something a little better than this jejune grin.
What is our common interest? That commerce on the high seas shall be immune in the event of war between any nation and another from any piratical attacks from any quarter. That is America's interest. It is our interest. Our food supply depends entirely upon that, and it will be our interest, in that event, that the United States should be able to establish that immunity and make it good. In fact, one day, the United States might conceivably help to protect us against the very evils into which the policy of the Anglo-French Pact would land us. We have been guilty of something which has driven the United States, through its chief officer, to declare a policy of additional cruisers. There is only one thing to do, if I may suggest it to the Prime Minister, and that is to get back to the Washington policy of Lord Balfour, and not merely to make statements—pacific statements and flattering statements. It is of no use to have a long geographical catalogue of compliments to nations. The Prime Minister and the Government must make it clear that they have abandoned the Anglo-French Pact, not merely in the letter but in the spirit, and that they are back to the policy declared at Washington of a definite limitation of naval craft, great and small. It is the only policy likely to be of the slightest use in order to put us back in a better position in reference to the United States and in reference to our obligations under the Treaty.
Now I come to another very important part of this Pact which I think has not attracted as much attention as it ought to attract, but which is very vital. That is the question of land reserves. If we adhere to the policy which we laid down in the Anglo-French Pact, it is fatal to any attempt at disarmament in Europe. We might as well retire from the Commission. We have a solemn Treaty obligation to reduce our forces on land and sea to the lowest level consistent with safety. That was not an obligation merely on our own part. It was an obligation on behalf of the whole of the Allies, and we are bound to see that it is carried out in so far as the whole of our influence is concerned. [An HON. MEMBERS: "How are you going to do it?"] If the hon. Members have patience, I will tell them. What are the forces at the disposal of a country in the event of war There is first the peace array. The peace army in France is somewhere about 400,000 or 500,000 men. They have a very much larger force of professionals than they ever had before, but the peace army is lower than it was before the War, and it gives the impression of disarmament. But what is the war strength of a nation? The war strength of a nation means all the men trained to the use of arms in a country provided they can be officered and equipped. You can juggle with figures as much as you like, but that is the war strength of a country—the peace army at its greatest war strength, the whole of the men fit for service who have been trained for war who have the necessary equipment and who can be officered.
In France every young man who is physically fit is entered for training. Before the War I think the training was two years. I think now it is eighteen months, and they are reducing it to a year. But that is not a reduction in numbers. The men sent to the front from here in the last two or three years of the War received, on the average, about six months' training. Every young man in France who is physically fit is trained for a whole year and then he passes into the reserve. At the date of the War France had an army—a peace army plus these reserves —of 4,500,000. Some of them, I agree, were only fit for garrison duty. Some would be put on the lines of communication, but the vast majority of them were men who were sent, either to the trenches or to the base. France put into the field, in the course of the War, between 7,000,000 and 8,000,000 men from beginning to end. She had 4,500,000 trained at the beginning. She had officers, she had guns, she had rifles for them all.
What is the position to-day? This matter was discussed the other day at the Angers Conference in France and attention was called to it. The French people themselves are becoming alive to it. To-day they have a smaller peace strength, but a larger professional army. I shall give the figures in a moment. They have more officers than they had in 1914. The reserves are larger and, what is much more important is this: They have several times more heavy guns—not several more heavy guns, but several times more heavy guns and several times more machine guns and aeroplanes. In addition to that, they have two very redoubtable weapons that were not even in existence in 1914—tanks and poison gas. As a matter of fact, the French Army in the event of war is infinitely more powerful than that great German army that terrorised Europe for nearly a generation, and the Powers in military alliance with France would have 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 equipped with rifles, equipped with guns, the equipment very largely provided by French finance.
Now what about Germany? We reduced the force of Germany to 100,000 men, and no heavy guns allowed at all; a few light guns and machine guns, but no tanks. M. Briand the other day, speaking at Geneva, said, "Ah, but they have got their reserves." Let us examine that. What reserves has Germany got? They have the remnant of the army of 1918, passing away year by year. Ten years gone, 10 years without a single quota of young men trained. That is not all. Take that vanishing remnant, which is disappearing year by year, with no equipment, no guns, no rifles. I know it is said that they are a great manufacturing country and that they could easily provide their men with rifles and with guns. Could they'? I rather think the Minister for War held the same office as I did at the Ministry of Munitions, though I am not sure, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is another. They have only to draw on our experience. How long did it take even to begin manufacturing? On 1st January, 1915, after four months of war, we had not turned out more than eight heavy guns. On 1st January, 1916, when we had mobilised the whole manufacturing resources of this country, we had only 200. What does that mean? Everybody who knows anything about the manufacture of these terrible machines of war knows that, first of all, you must get the machinery, and that is what takes the time before you begin. In spite of the fact that we were drawing largely from America, our troops had no rifles within a year after the War began. As a matter of fact, before a single howitzer could be manufactured in Germany, this great army of France would be in Berlin, meeting the Poles, Belgians and Czechoslovaks, and every manufacturing centre would be garrisoned by foreign troops.
That is the position after an undertaking by us, as allied and associated Powers, that we would reduce our armaments to the lowest level consistent with safety; and the German Army 100,000 men. What a mockery! And the Anglo-French Pact, what does it say about it? At the end of ten years after the signature of that Treaty, ten years after we gave that solemn pledge, we have given another, this time not to Germany but to France. We gave a solemn pledge not merely that we would not reduce that gigantic army, but that we would not even permit seven-eighths of it to be discussed in a Disarmament Commission. I know it is said: "What about Italy? Germany has reduced, but one must face all these facts when examining such a question." You may say that France has to think of Italy. Well, I am not going to say a word about the Italian army except this, that anybody who knows what it did, with very inadequate equipment, must be full of admiration for the heroism with which it stormed those terrible heights, with very little support from great artillery; but is not comparable in equipment with the great army of France. I doubt whether it has a third of the equipment.
But that is not all. There is a declaration made by M. Mussolini, by the Italian Government, which seems to have escaped attention, but I think it is worth emphasising. It was communicated to His Majesty's representative at Rome—and it is in reference to this Pact—on 6th October. It is a very remarkable pledge or declaration:
As regards land, naval and aerial disarmament, the Italian Government repeat at this point the declaration already made elsewhere to the effect that they are dis-
posed a priori to accept, as the limit of their own armaments, any figures, however low they may be, provided they are not exceeded by any other European Continental Power.
That is a very remarkable declaration coming from a great military Power. Italy is not standing in the way; Italy says: "If you cut down these gigantic armies, provided you arrive at a certain figure, we will conform to it." I am not going to say a word about the Soviet, except this, that I think it was a very great mistake that we treated even the proposals they made as merely something to laugh at. It is one of the greatest possible menaces to Europe. It may be no menace now. It. has no equipment for invasion. It is formidable inside its own boundaries, but it has no real terror from the point of view of an invader at the present moment; but the moment that great country recovers economically, it will be a very formidable fact to have a Power like that, with unlimited resources of man-power at its disposal, some of the most brave, recklessly brave, men in the world, with equipment, and I should have thought that, when it suited the Soviet Government, as it does for economic reasons, to disarm and to cut down, it would have been worth while to have taken more seriously into account the proposal which it made. I have always thought so. I thought it was a mistake to treat it as of no account. It ought to have been examined much more carefully, and then you would have eliminated all the elements that would have justified these huge armies. Germany gone. Italy willing to reduce to the lowest figure that would be accepted by others, and then we, instead of doing that, give a pledge to France that we will not allow millions of men, with their equipment, to be even discussed in a Disarmament Commission.
I know it is said that the French Army is a conscript army, and your army is a professional army, that you have no right to impose upon other countries your own ideas with regard to armies, and that therefore the Government are perfectly right in banishing this discussion of reserves. Anybody who uses that argument must indeed be a simpleton. He cannot possibly realise that a conscript army is just as consistent with limitation of numbers as is a professional army. According to a statement made at Angers that has not been contradicted —and anybody who looks into the League of Nations book on the subject will find this point—France at present has a professional army of 300,000 or 400,000, four times the size of Germany's, and it has its reserves. In this country everybody was liable up to a certain date—I forget when the Act of Parliament was passed which abolished it—to serve in the Militia, compulsorily. The Militia was recruited then by ballot. A ballot is just as possible in a conscript army to-day as it was then, and unless I am mistaken, even up to 1870, the army of France with its reserves was recruited by means of a ballot. Universal service was something which I think followed the ^Jar of 1870. You can have a ballot there; but once you reduce the numbers, how vital it is that you should also reduce the equipment, so as to make it only adequate to the numbers that you have got. You have now got an equipment for an army of 5,000,000.
I am told that it is not a question for us, these land reserves. I do not agree. We have our Treaty obligations. Surely that is a question for us, and we must look ahead. I have read the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, and as far as his recent declaration is concerned, if I may respectfully say so, I think it is quite unexceptionable. I agree that as long as you have these huge armies in Europe, you cannot expect peace. I make this statement, and I know the right hon. Gentleman will not challenge it, that wherever you have had in Europe a predominant military Power, in the end it has always used that supremacy to the detriment of its neighbours. I know that when people talk about. Germany in the past, one recalls the intolerable arrogance with which they used their overwhelming military strength. We are rather apt to say: "Yes, but that superciliousness is peculiar to the German nature." That is not historically true. Every great country in Europe that has had military predominance or naval predominance, or I would say military predominance. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] draw this distinction between them, that with naval supremacy you cannot invade a country—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about blockades?"] At any rate, every time you have had a Power in Europe that has had overwhelming force behind it—put it like that—it has invariably abused it, and we have always come in to check it. There have been Spain, repeatedly France, Russia, Germany, and if we had not come in upon each of those occasions, the whole history of Europe would have been changed—national, political, religious. If we had not destroyed the power of Spain, the Home Secretary might now have been a Papist. It is a horrible thought! He might even have been raiding the premises of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge for evidence of some low-down conspiracy against the moral and spiritual welfare of this country! Every time you have had that sort of preponderance it has been a temptation and until you reduce armaments you are not going to get peace in Europe. It is no use looking merely to ententes or alliances; their history has not been satisfactory. It has meant organising forces to fight each other. International ententes are almost as precarious as political ententes. The Prime Minister and I once were in a Government together—and I was also in a Government with two or three right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Bench. Disarmament is the only guarantee of safety. The Prime Minister referred at the Guildhall to certain vicissitudes in our relations with France even during the last 10 years. I think that he exaggerated and I am glad to think that he did. He talked about the last five or six years of our relations as being very good but said that they were strained before that. That is not correct. The Government with which I was associated had the most cordial relations with M. Briand, M. Painleve, M. Clemenceau and—I forget the fourth—[An HON. MEMBER: "M. Poincare"]. He was at the end; he only broke out when the Conservative Government came in. He entered into the Ruhr and invaded it, but before that we managed to keep his hands off.
There are two ways of preserving friendly relations in a partnership. One is that each partner should be perfectly independent and firm, with independent judgment, expressing it fearlessly and freely; but always remember this, that concession in the end is essential to cooperation. What is the next way of preserving friendly relations? Is it always
to subordinate your opinion to the most forcible and aggressive member of the partnership? You can get peace and good relations, but it is an unmanly and undignified method, and it does not in the end conduce to peace. It has not been tried in this country in relation to France since the days of Charles II until now; then it led in a very short time to the longest and one of the most sanguinary wars we ever had with France. It is better that we should put own own opinions freely, independently and fearlessly, and where concessions are necessary to make them; but you will not have peace in Europe until we carry out our obligations. The condition of Europe is not altogether satisfactory; the fire is still smouldering in the peat. M. Clemenceau sent this letter to the German delegates at Versailles after enclosing the treaty. He said:
After the signature, the Allied and Associated Powers must hold Germany responsible for the execution of every stipulation of the Treaty.
What about our stipulations—the evacuation of the Rhine and disarmament to the lowest level consistent with safety? Germany is demanding, and rightly demanding, that we should now carry out our obligations, seeing that she has carried out her's. What answer have we to give? Are we to say, "Ah, we are quite impartial" I The whole of the British Empire signed that bond, every part of it. When it is asked to carry it out, what is it to say? Is it to say, "We are treating you exactly as we are treating France—you with your army of 100,000 and France with her army of millions"? Is the British Empire to say, "We are treating you impartially and fairly"? Shall Caesar send a lie?
About a week ago, because I did nut make a speech on the so-called Anglo-French Pact, I was accused of discourtesy. My difficulty, of course, is that I am between two fires. I knew at the time that the Leader of the Opposition made his powerful speech on the first day of the Address, that there was an Amendment in effect censuring the Government in connection with these proceedings, but I did not know when it was going to be put dawn, and rumours had reached me that there was a desire on the part of the Liberal party to initiate a similar discussion. Had the Labour party been anxious to discuss the question as the Official Opposition, no doubt they could have put it down on Thursday, but they chose another subject, and the lot fell to the Liberals. I repeat now what I said then that, whatever the Leader of the Opposition may think of my conduct, in my view it would have been in the highest degree discourteous had I made a reply before the Debate took place, and had I not spoken in answer to whichever leader of whichever Opposition party had chosen to speak on this subject. I said that I was between two fires, and therefore I shall pay some attention to what was said last week, as well as to what has been said to-day.
In the first place, I wish to follow what has been said from both sides of the Opposition with regard to what is called, not in the Amendment, but in the Debate and in the country, the Anglo-French Pact. I am extraordinarily curious to know who was the man who was first responsible for fixing the word "Pact" on these proceedings. My own impression is that it must have been the invention of the caption writer of some films. All that was said in the House of Commons was said by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what he said about him; I rejoice to say that I had a very satisfactory private telegram from Mr. Mackenzie King on Sunday reporting that he is again in good health, and I hope that he will be here shortly. I would like to remind the House of what the Foreign Secretary said on 30th July with reference to this subject. He said in this House:
At the moment the Preparatory Commission on disarmament is not in session, and no definite date has been fixed for its session, but, as has been publicly announced, conversations have been proceeding between ourselves and the French with the hope o' reducing the difference between us, indeed in the hope of finding some compromise upon which we could both agree and which we might then submit to other Powers and perhaps, by our proposals, facilitate progress in the Committee
—that is, the Committee on Disarmament.
These conversations have been successful between the French and ourselves and I am about to communicate to the other principal naval Powers the compromise at which we have arrived, in the hope that it may be acceptable to them also, and that thus a
great obstacle to progress will have been removed and a step made in adrance."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1928; col. 1837, Vol. 220.]
I read these words first of all to remind the House of the terms in which the announcement was made to it, and, secondly, merely to comment in passing on the fact that neither the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), nor the hon. Member for Brightside (Mr. Ponsonby) made the slightest allusion to what the Foreign Secretary said: and, in speaking of what took place in the succeeding weeks, which caused them to say what they have said in the country and in this House on this subject, they did not think it necessary to allude to a statement made as recently as the 30th of July.
The Foreign Secretary never gave us the slightest suspicion of the character of the arrangements; he did riot reveal in the slightest degree what the arrangements were.
It was not thought worth while at that time even to ask him, hut, had he been asked, I doubt if he would have replied, because at that time no effect hail been given to them, because they had not been discussed by the other naval Powers. This compromise was—and I use the past tense—no more than a perfectly honest, straightforward attempt to get out of the deadlock which had occurred in Geneva, and was threatening the whole work of disarmament.
I will go back for a moment to the early efforts of the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament. No one knows the difficulties more than the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, and the great difficulty of that Preparatory Commission, when they came to investigate the methods by which limitation should be applied to military, naval and air forces, and to lead to a discussion finally at a disarmament conference, lay in this, that we had submitted a draft and the French had submitted a draft. There was a wide divergence of principle. We, of course, stand for the Power that has a small army, and whose first line of defence is the navy. The French stand for a land force, whose main important armament is, and always has been, their army.
There was a wide divergence of principle, a division on the military side and a division on the naval side, and the Committee was split really into two groups. The differences between them seemed unbridgeable, and they adjourned. Then hope centres on the naval conference at Geneva, which was invited by the United States of America. As we all know, that conference failed.
I am not going into any details with regard to the naval proposals. My right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty will speak later in the Debate in order to deal with the more technical subject of the size of ships and so forth, but I would observe at this point, and I think it should never be forgotten, that we did put forward proposals there which were far-reaching and detailed and which would have led to a strict limitation of every class of vessel, and to an economy of some £50,000,000 over a term of years. That was a proof of our sincerity, and that was the kind of disarmament which we should have liked to have, and should like to have now if we could get it. But it was not acceptable. That is the history of that failure. How neither America nor ourselves would accept the other view is fresh in the memory of all. But after that conference had failed, everyone who had been working at disarmament at Geneva was reluctant to let the matter stand there. It was felt that a fresh effort, however forlorn it might appear to be, should be made. I would call the attention of the House to an extract from a speech delivered by the Italian representative, which is quoted in the White Paper. It is worth quoting at this point. He said:
I should be prepared wholeheartedly to support the judicious suggestion put forward this morning by Mr. Gibson, the American representative, namely, that we should postpone our next session until there is some hope of reaching an agreement and should not risk a repetition of the results of the first meeting. Mr. Gibson demonstrated very clearly that if the Commission means to reach an agreement we must allow time for conversations to take place between the Governments with a view to eliminating the most salient points of difference.
I merely quote that at this moment to show that the American and the Italians were at that time encouraging the other parties to go forward with conversations to see whether any progress could be made. We know now that those conversations proceeded.
Before I go on to the subject of the so-called Pact, I should like to say a word here with regard to what the right hon. Gentleman said about military forces and reservists, because that is an extremely important question. I would say in starting that we have been very strongly criticised on the ground that we have made concessions to the French and conferred some immunity upon them which they do not at present enjoy. Of course, that is not the case. They remain, as all the conscript countries remain, where they always have been. There is no question about that. We wanted to get the conscript countries to share our view of the limitation of land forces and the inclusion of the military reserves. So far, as is well known, there is no sign of them giving way. We hold our view, they hold theirs, and, until they do give way, it is perfectly clear that no progress can he made on military disarmament.
Here I would like to say a word or two about universal service. We have to persuade these other nations to make concessions. You cannot bully them into doing so. It is no good saying to them, "You have got to do it." We shall make no progress at all by that method. The only way in which we can hope to make progress is by persuasion. The House ought to try to realise the point of view of those who are opposed to us, because that may prevent us saying things about those countries who do not agree with us on this matter which might make their attitude even stiffer than it is at present. I will take the case of France, because France is the country in Europe which has had conscription longest. It is, perhaps, more bound up with her whole system of life than is the case in any other country. Remember this, that France, and those who think with her, regard conscription 'as an essential part of the doctrine of democracy. It has been so in this country, but it does not fallow that it is not so in France, and I want our people to try to realise this in order that they may see what is the difficulty that we are up against in this of matter military disarmament. Universal service is advocated in France by all sections—Right and Left, the extreme Socialists, all—and it is advocated as giving expression to those very principles of equality which were the child of the Revolution. Conscription in France dates from the Revolution. It was first imposed by the Directory at the end of the eighteenth century. It was modified during the period of the Second Empire; so far as my memory serves me, that is all. From that day to this the system has continued, and, as the right hon. Gentleman who leads the Opposition will remember, "the armed nation" was strongly advocated by a man who, I believe, was a friend of his, Jaurés, the great leader in France.
It is not only on the ground of national security and as a protection against external enemies that the French have had conscription. The existence of a conscript army does not necessarily make a country militant. Militarism is a product of the spirit; although I agree thus far with the right hon. Gentleman, that if we have that system we have the powder which may be ignited in certain circumstances, as it was unquestionably ignited in the German Empire. In France they hold the view that if every man has to go to fight when a war begins, the mass of the people will be much less keen about going to fight, and that statesmen will thing twice before they order them to do so. But there is another paint. If you look at French history, if you consider the French temperament, you can understand why there has been in France a certain nervousness about having a small and efficient standing army. They are afraid of a coup ďêtat. They are afraid that such an army may lose touch with the people, may lose touch with the principles of the Revolution, by which they stand and to which they believe the greatness of their nation is due, and that with their history and with their temperament, such an army might become the tool of either a successful general or a successful statesman who wished to make himself Dictator. France has suffered from that kind of thing before and she is nervous about it. I have just touched on this point to try to give the House the French view, as I see it, in order that the House may realise that it is not irrational, that it is bound up with French history, that it is a part of their own faith, and that if we are to get them to alter their system it cannot be done by lecturing them or taking the view that we know much better what is good for them. They will have to be approached in other ways.
It has been said often that those who entered on the discussion of this compromise must have known they were foredoomed to failure. I do not quite see why. They had been encouraged by observations from an Italian and an American representative. During those temporary discussions both England and France had agreed to compromise, and to give up something so as to facilitate a wider settlement and to bring down the existing Washington agreement from the two limitations to further limitations, in the hope that these in turn might lead ultimately to a universal limitation. I cannot see that it was so unreasonable that they should do this and should communicate the result to other countries, or think that those countries would not be willing to examine what had been done and in their turn make some concession too. As it has turned out, that view was not right. No concession would be made, and there was no prospect of carrying the matter any further. The whole work has gone for nothing, and such agreement as was come to then now scrapped, and we have to begin all over again.
A good deal was said about the secrecy of these discussions. There was no mystery at any time. The existence of the conversations was known, and the effect of the agreement as far as it had gone and the next step following was announced by my right hon. Friend. Why was it not published at once, we have been asked? The reason why it was not published was partly on account of the ordinary diplomatic courtesies and partly because there were cogent reasons in the character of the conversations. The conversations were tentative, tentative in this way, that they could only be final when they had been considered, approved by and embodied in an agreement by the five Powers, and when you are still hoping that conversations may so progress and be so embodied, the very worst thing for them is publicity. I have no stronger authority on my side in saying that than the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal party. We may have been wrong in our hopes and expectations, but having the hopes and expectations we had it would have been lunacy on our part, if I may borrow
his word, to have made full publication. I have here a most pertinent and apposite quotation from the speech by the right hon. Gentleman. He was speaking in December, 1919. The discussion in which he was speaking is immaterial, because the principle is true right through.
We listened to the case presented on one side and the other, and I make free to confess that, after hearing the whole discussion and hearing what was to be said against the point of view which we adopted at the start, we changed our view. And that is perfectly right. One has to hear every side.
He has had more experience of these discussions than most of us.
But it would be very difficult to effect a change of course, which was essential if we were to get anything like agreement; if declarations in the initial stages had been published and discussed and supported on one side and criticised on the other.
Everyone who has negotiated labour matters knows that that is just as true of them as it is of national affairs. There is no doubt about that. We were criticised last year and the Government of the United States were also criticized because it was said there was insufficient preparation. There was no preparation before the Geneva Conference. We tried to get some preparation before this Conference but we failed, and I profoundly regret it.
There is another criticism to which I would like to devote one or two words. and it is that this agreement, so far as it has gone, was directed against some other country. Those who are not at all particular in what they say have gone so far as to say that it was directed against the United States of America by Great Britain and France. There are one or two things I should like to say about that criticism. Here is a telegram which was communicated to the United States Secretary of State. It has already been published, but I will read it again:
We desire to emphasise the fact that the Anglo-French Agreement is not a treaty or even a final binding agreement in regard to naval disarmament. Unless it should lead to the signing of an agreed convention at Geneva its purpose will not have been achieved, and it will he necessary to make further attempts to arrange a compromise if we are not to abandon all hope of a limitation of armaments by international agreement. This compromise has now been submitted to the United States
Government in order that they may consider its terms, and, should they see fit, give us the benefit of their considered observations and of any suggestions which may occur to them.
A similar message was sent to Italy, and an intimation of what was going on was afterwards given to Germany.
Therefore it is equally untrue to say that this agreement was directed against Italy, whose approval was essential if any improvement was to be made. Here I would like to make one observation and one only. Perhaps it is a matter which is not directly connected with the subject of which I have been speaking, but I ask the House to bear it in mind as showing how bristling with difficulties is the subject of disarmament. The observation I wish to make is that you have not accomplished everything when you get a limitation in fleets. Disarmament, as I have often said, is always less a matter of the spirit than it is of the letter, and just as in the minimum wage the tendency is often for that minimum to be the minimum and the maximum, so when you get a maximum fixed in classes of ships, unless statesmen have real courage, unless they are supported by their own people, there is a tendency for every country to run up to its maximum as soon as it can; and not only that, but also to see that the maximum in numbers is made the maximum in strength. I throw that out as a point which has sometimes troubled me when I see difficulties ahead, and as a point which I want the House of Commons to bear in mind. We are not in the least ashamed of the efforts which we have made, although we recognise that we have failed, and we regret it. I am glad to see that so candid and honourable a statesman as Lord Grey said definitely in another place that having heard the statement and read the papers, there was no agreement, there was no treaty. It was a preliminary compromise between two Governments which would depend whether other nations accepted it.
I will just say one word on the point which was raised by the Leader of the Opposition before I deal with the further questions which have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the budget of the League of Nations, and I think that his account of the proceedings was lyrical and apochryphal. At any rate, we stand alone only on one question. We were instrumental in reducing the budget of the League by 500,000 Swiss francs. I think it was also very creditable to us that we helped to increase the expenditure and we accepted proposals for putting on an additional 1,750,000 Swiss francs. I think watchfulness in the case of League budgets is just as necessary as in the case of other Budgets. I know it is an ungrateful task to have to shoulder the expense of examining the accounts very closely, but we have had to do the dirty work partly because other people before us had not done it, and partly because of the amount that we were paying. We were sometimes in a minority, but I think the Leader of the Opposition is the last person in the world to reproach us on that point.
I would like to say a word or two upon what the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the Rhineland. As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, France, Belgium, Italy and Japan are involved besides ourselves. We desire to see the evacuation of the Rhineland, but we cannot compel the evacuation of the Rhineland ourselves, and even if we walked out we might cause a greater difficulty. I think there is some real hope now in this direction. The evacuation of the Rhineland is very closely bound up in the minds of certain signatories with the reparations settlement.
I am sorry to interrupt the Prime Minister, but this is really a very important point. It was never contemplated that the whole of the reparations obligations would have to be discharged before we evacuated the Rhineland. The only question was whether Germany was performing her obligations under the Treaty. The moment it was found that Germany was performing her obligations under the Treaty we were bound to evacuate the Rhineland.
Of course the question arises whether Germany's obligations are being discharged. I am not expressing an opinion on that point. Of course, I cannot say anything at the present early stage of negotiations between the Powers, but I know that this subject is being approached in a spirit and with a desire to settle it, and I hope that it will lead to a settlement which will mitigate the last troublesome remnant of wartime, that is the evacuation of the Rhineland. I would like to say a word to the right hon. Gentleman opposite in regard to what he said about the Kellogg Pact. I have said on more than one occasion that I agree with the right hon. Gentleman on this point. I attach much more importance to what the right hon. Gentleman does, and if he really thinks that what he calls the Reservations, which were explained by the Foreign Secretary in this House, destroy the effect of the Pact, then I do not agree with him. How can they destroy it, and why? After all, either the right hon. Gentleman suggests or implies that the United States have withdrawn or should withdraw the Monroe Doctrine. He cannot mean this, because that would be a suggestion which we could never make to the United States. Or else the right hon. Gentleman suggests that it is perfectly legitimate for another country to have a reservation end not for us to have one. In that case I disagree with him. I do nut think our action is misunderstood by the American Government for one moment. It was never expected that we should get the signature of every country in Europe, but we shall have to examine very carefully the objections which have been raised in the light of what we have signed. We hardly know yet how we shall be able to give effect to it, but we shall have to do it.
The right hon. Gentleman speaks of the British Government being unwilling to meet the American Government, and he says that the Conference of 1927 has broken down. Must we always be wrong? Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman, whom I know is very widely read, just to remember a little story of Voltaire's Candide. He will remember that ingenuous youth came with his tutor Dr. Pangloss to England just in time to witness the shooting of Admiral Byng. He inquired the reason, and lie was told that it was because the Admiral did not get close enough to the French. His reply was, "The French must have been as far from the Admiral as the Admiral was from the French. In this country they have the habit of shooting an Admiral to encourage the others." Is it now suggested that we tried to get a mile or two further away from America than they got from us? The right hon. Gentleman cannot resist the temptation of bringing down an Admiral and in this case of a conference. I think he has brought down two.
Here I want to touch on one aspect of this question, which is more or less common to the Leader of the Liberal party and the Leader of the Opposition, and that is the question of our relations with France. The ideal of the right hon. Gentleman opposite is to go back to 1924. I do not want to make a cheap point by suggesting that Germany was not in the League, but I think I know what he means. What was the key of our policy in 1924? Three weeks after the right hon. Gentleman came into office he wrote a letter to the head of the French Government. I endorse every word of it; it was an admirable letter. I will only give one or two sentences from it. He said:
It is a policy that can only be initiated with the agreement of France and England.
With regard to the economic stability of Europe, he said:
Hero again, if France and England can but agree the co-operation of other European countries would be assured, and it would be possible for us to approach the United States of America. I repeat, my dear Premier, the condition of Europe can only, I feel convinced, be remedied by joint action between France and England, undertaken will full sympathy for their respective requirements and with wise regard to the interests of the world at large.
When the right hon. Gentleman was in office, he never wavered in his application of that method of dealing with the European situation, and his efforts—and he will acknowledge that I have never failed to pay due tribute to them—were successful, and were universally regarded as being successful; and it was those efforts that gave him his reward in the London Conference, which led directly to the Dawes Agreement. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs spoke about the arcadian relations between himself and the French. They may have been very happy at one time, but they were not when he went out of office, and the difficulty with us was how we should get the French to resume conversations with us.
I would only say this, that the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition reaped a great success in working with the French does not mean that he did not hold his own point of view, nor does it mean trying to bully them, because on one important occasion he made a compromise with them and accepted their view, which, in fact, enabled the result to be reached, which was a wonderful success. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, by what I think was his failure to understand the feelings of the French nation and to sympathise with them, caused the wreckage of his policy, because he could not get their support. When we first came in, it was some months before we were able to get back in Paris to that friendly diplomacy which, at the time he went out, was at an end. So far as we are concerned, we do not mean to deviate from the policy we have tried to pursue since we have been in office, which, so far as cordial understanding with the Government of France goes, is the same policy that was pursued by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It is not exclusive in its nature; it is not directed against anyone; it involves no surrender. Co-operation of that kind is the one way in which Europe can be saved from being divided into two hostile camps. It has numerous achievements to its credit; progress has been registered in many directions. I am not speaking only of Locarno, but also of the period during which we have had the co-operation of the Germans. They and the French are working admirably together to-day. They have their difficulties, but are, on the whole, working with good temper and respect for each other's point of view.
We have had a policy of working in close co-operation with the French, but in co-operation with all other countries. It has been felt in the remotest corners of Europe. It has contributed to the settlement of minor disputes, but disputes which might in times past have led to very serious trouble. Our one desire in foreign polities is the desire of the British people, and that is to heal the wounds caused by the War and to see the peace of Europe consolidated for the benefit of friends and late enemies alike. There are, however, many difficulties in our way. In disarmament, you
will never make progress until you have got the hearts and the wills of the peoples and their leaders turned to it, and to get that you have to eliminate so far as you can every cause of friction between the peoples. Here I must make a complaint about the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, who knows better than anybody how easily fears ate aroused in nations. I must make complaint of some of the statements that he makes when he writes articles in the Press of foreign countries. They not only make our task incomparably more difficult, but make it perfectly impossible for himself if he should ever come back to office and again deal with foreign statesmen. The House remembers how another great leader of the Liberal party, Mr. Gladstone, in the last period of Mr. Disraeli's office, made some observations about Austria which gave much offence in that country. Fortunately, the Austrian Ambassador of that time was a very great personal friend of Mr. Gladstone. He let him down as lightly as he could. But Mr. Gladstone had to explain himself, and to write a letter, which is probably within the recollection of every student of history, but which contains one sentence which is so relevant that I must read it to the House. He said, in that letter:
Without discussing the accuracy of certain expressions in the report you have forwarded I proceed at once to the subject. At the moment when I accepted from the Queen the duty of forming an Administration, I forthwith resolved that I would not, as a Minister, either repeat, or even defend in argument, polemical language in regard to more than one foreign Power which I had used individually when in a position of greater freedom and less responsibility.
How can it possibly help us, and I put it on that ground, when the right hon. Gentleman writes in a paper in this country:
Germany having been once snapped by the springs of the Covenant in the affair of Silesia, is too wary to trust her destiny to this new and sinister contrivance forged by France's tame blacksmith, Dr. Benes.
It does not help. How can it have helped in these last few weeks, when questions are always, or will be, under discussion with regard to the evacuation of the Rhineland, when he writes in the "Neue Freie Presse" about the scarcely
veiled subservience of this country to France, and speaks about Germany's
unfair and intolerable Eastern Frontier with Poland.
[An HON. MEMBER: "Quite right !"] You may feel that, but, after all the right hon. Gentleman is the author of the Treaty of Versailles. [Interruption.] It makes it extremely difficult. I do not wish to pursue this subject, but only want to mention that, and to beg the right hon. Gentleman to see if he cannot confine his criticisms to this country.
Of course, I have not had notice of these quotations, and I have some right to complain if the right hon. Gentleman is going to quote passages which I have had no opportunity of verifying. If the right hon. Gentleman intended to make personal attack upon me in reference to articles which I am supposed to have written, I ought, at any rate, to have an opportunity of checking some of those articles. Of the last phrase that he quoted I certainly have no recollection, nor of the former. If the right hon. Gentleman will do me the honour of letting me have the article and the date, I shall check it. I have no recollection of saying anything about the intolerable conditions of the Eastern Frontier, except in reference to what I have always protested against, and that is the Silesian Award, with which I had nothing whatever to do.
I have all the details here, but I will not use any more quotations this afternoon, and, if I should have given the right hon. Gentleman notice, I regret that I did not do it. I will, however, say this, that it is a little difficult for the head of the Government, after having listened to everything that the right hon. Gentleman said, to refrain from reminding him, or rather, merely telling him of what perhaps he had not thought of, and that is the danger that it really means for us. I am appealing to him to stop it.
I will just give one extract from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman's. It was at Yarmouth, so there will be no need to give him notice of it. Indeed, there is nothing on the face of it with which I can find fault, but I want to mention it to the House. A great deal was said during the right hon. Gentleman's speech about America. He said, speaking about the suspicions of America:
I have mentioned that subject in a speech of mine. I said in my speech that they were suspicious, and I regretted it.
But the phrase he used was this:
The middle West of America was very suspicious of Europe, and this Anglo-French Pact stimulated, engendered and fostered that kind of suspicion.
If the Middle West of the United States is suspicious of us, is it really necessary for a man who has occupied the great position the right hon. Gentleman has to tell them in effect, in a speech in England which will be cabled to every paper there, that there is ground for their suspicion?
I did not justify that suspicion. That is the point. I would make one or two observations about that suspicion, because President Coolidge said it was always plain that Europe and the United States are lacking in mutual understanding. I think President Coolidge is right. I think there is lacking, as between Europe and the United States, mutual understanding. I regret it profoundly but, if I am asked why it is, it is very difficult to find an answer. I thought I would tell the House one thing I have noticed during the time I have been in Office. I do not pretend to see a way out but I think it is worth reflection and consideration. In Europe all her statesmen have got in the habit of meeting at Geneva and talking together, from which they learn not only each other's point of view but, what is very important, each other's idiosyncrasies as individuals, and I think there is rapidly coming into European statesmanship, among European statesmen inter se, a desire in negotiation to see the other point of view and to compromise, if something can be effected by that compromise, far more than existed before the War. American statesmen do not know European statesmen, European statesmen do not know American statesmen, and there is no personal intercourse. The only intercourse that takes place is the written despatch that goes across 3,000 miles of ocean. It is a far more difficult thing to get a mutual understanding in those circumstances.
I will make one more observation on that, and I make it to Members of the House. I think it is most important that all of us who may be called upon either to speak about America in foreign politics or about our relations with America should really get to understand, by studying it, the political system of that country and how she carries out any work connected with foreign relations. I say that because it is so different from any European system. On that difference shipwreck has more than once been reached. It is most important for the avoidance of future shipwreck, for the avoidance of possible ill-relations after such shipwreck, that we should be familiar on this side with the marked difference in the political system of the two countries. I should like to remind the House—it really refers to what I was saying—that some of the best work that has been done financially since the War has been the work of financial reconstruction in which America has been engaged with us and with other countries. I attribute the success of that work largely to the fact that the protagonists, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank, were not only close personal friends in constant touch, but every time a difficulty was seen coming ahead, one of those two would cross the Atlantic at once, either the Englishman to New York or the American to London or Paris, as the case might be, and discussions took place instead of despatches. I wish to say no more about those relations except to define where in my view they stand and where they stand in the view of the British people, and I shall not define them in my own words. I shall
define them in the words of one of the greatest Americans and one of the greatest Anglo-Saxons that ever lived, Abraham Lincoln. Sixty-five years ago this Christmas, when America was not the great Power she is to-day, when she was not a World Power, when the Union was split, as it appeared beyond hope of redemption, when the working men of Lancashire were starving, when cotton was not coming in because of that war in America and the union blockade of the Confederate States, these Lancashire men, to their eternal credit, wrote to Abraham Lincoln and said "Carry on," and Lincoln wrote to them 65 years ago this coming new year, and he finished his letter with these words:
I hail this interchange of sentiments as an augury that whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will he, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.
So be it.
The Prime Minister's speech, while satisfactory in some respects, was profoundly unsatisfactory in others. I cannot allow his opening sentences to pass without comment. He referred to the position in which he found himself last week when, having been informed, after he came to the House, that an Amendment was to be moved to the Gracious Speech from the Throne, he decided that he was to make no comment upon foreign affairs. I want the House to know this perfectly candidly, that before I knew what Amendment was to be moved to the Address, when as a matter of fact, the assumption was—it had been published in the newspapers—that the party that was to make itself responsible for the Debate on the English-French Agreement was to be ourselves, even then I had not made up my mind to take the part I did. This is the important point, and I am sure my Liberal friends will agree with me as to the importance of the point: I knew perfectly well last Tuesday when we opened the Debate that, unfortunately, the Foreign Secretary not being here, it would be rather awkward to have a reply from that Bench. As a House of Commons man first and foremost and not a party man, I resented that the Government should have made a pronouncement of very first-class importance in the other House a week before they said a word to us. When I came to the House of Commons, first of all in 1906, I was taught by very good mentors that when there was to be any important Ministerial statement upon either home or foreign affairs, it was the duty of the Leader of this House —the right hon. Gentleman is not only leader of his party but Leader of the House—to see to it that the statement was to be made as simultaneously as possible in both Houses. That is all I say, unless I add that I hope the precedent on this occasion is not going to be established and repeated.
The Prime Minister has been making certain reflections upon the leader of the Liberal party. The leader of the Liberal party can very well look after himself. At any rate, no one in this House would resent it more than he if I stepped in to try to defend him. The Prime Minister made those reflections which were made by one of his followers last week, and when the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Chelmsford (Colonel Howard-Bury), was good enough to deliver a fatherly lecture both to the right hon. Gentleman and myself for hampering the harmony which had been created by the good work of the Government on the Continent, he was talking pernicious nonsense. I would advise him and those who follow him, that before they make charges like this, they ought to take the trouble to consult their own Foreign Office archives.
The Prime Minister himself took up an attitude to-day which did not differ very much from that which his supporter took up the other day. He has been giving us to understand that somehow or other it is awing to the evil machinations of other people that there is trouble on the Continent and in America. I think I know my Continent pretty well. I think I know those who are responsible for the making and unmaking of opinion on the Continent, not only in one country but, as near as no matter, every country in Europe. I was there the other day. Oddly enough it was not anything I had done that had disturbed them. It was not even anything the right hon. Gentleman had done or said or written that had disturbed them. What I met with, was a profound distrust of English diplomatic policy because of things for which the right hon. Gentleman himself is responsible as the head of the Government. I was not asked to go and curse the Treaty of Versailles and I did not do so. I was appealed to by friends of this country, by men in important official positions to do the best that I could to help to restore the confidence that pro-British elements in Central Europe had forfeited on account of what had happened in connection with this White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman knows it. It did not matter whether you went to Vienna or Prague. I was rather surprised to hear the remarks made by right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches. I wish to say that after a very long acquaintance with Dr. Benes long before he went into political life on the Continent I always found him delightful to deal with, frankly straight and frankly honourable and a man who would never lend himself to the sort of thing indicated in the extract which the Prime Minister read.
It did not matter where we went, to Vienna, Prague or to Paris, the things that we met with were those extracts which I quoted last week. I am not going to quote them again. It is not necessary to repeat these things. They are on record. The dispatch sent in reply to an inquiry from Berlin is not a full statement of what actually happened; the contradictory explanations and notes that passed between our Foreign Secretary and M. Briand and between M. Briand and our Ambassador at Paris, Lord Crewe, on the one hand, and then the extraordinary note which passed between Lord Cushendun and our Ambassador in Washington—as a matter of fact I think that it was Mr. Chilton who received the note. I quoted those extracts. The Prime Minister has made no reply at all to-day. That is what has damaged our credit in Europe. We can stand a lot of observations by Leaders of the Opposition and by Leaders of the sub-Opposition or anything else. If he would keep straight himself that would be all right. It is the fact that he—and when I say he I only use the "he" in his representative capacity—and his Government have forfeited confidence in Europe by the way in which they have dealt with these documents. I hope that we shall all co-operate in an endeavour to remove that misunderstanding.
I never love the Prime Minister more than when he is behaving like an enlightened and wise father, but to-day he went a little too far. I will challenge him on this: Will he quote anything that I have ever said or anything that I have ever written which has put the blame for the failure of Geneva only upon ourselves? That is a pretty fair challenge. I do not know whether one's tongue has slipped—I am afraid that often happens; but honestly and genuinely—not for debating purposes that is exactly the opposite of what I said. In regard to the argument about America and ourselves? I hope that he will understand the position, because it is a fundamental argument. It is not an attack upon us, and it is not an attack upon them. What happened is this. You go to a conference. I have been in conferences, and I know the mental processes that evolve the moment the chairman sits down. You are going to discuss a scheme of disarmament, say with two nations involved—and if there be half-a-dozen the difficulties are greater—perfectly genuine both of them and perfectly anxious to get an agreement. But both assume that after the agreement is made they can both be secure in the event of a war breaking out. It is the beginning. America says: "In the event of a war breaking out my navy requires to do a certain job." We all know what the job is. We say: "In the event of a war breaking out, our Navy require to do a certain job." And the Admirals of America and the Admirals of Great Britain, being asked as expert advisers to tell their respective Governments how this job is to be done and how the tonnage is to be distributed in terms and categories of ships, can never agree. When I was in Berlin I discussed that question and explained it with a view to clearing people's minds. It reminded me of the fable of the stork inviting the fox to dinner. The stork quite honestly wished to give the fox a feed, but naturally, as a stork, it prepared the food in stork dishes, and when the fox's turn came it did precisely the same thing. It is just as necessary that the Prime Minister should represent accurately the views of his opponent as it is for his opponents accurately to represent the views of his Government.
The Prime Minister, by the reference he made to me and to my friends who agree with our policy, implied that some-how or other we want to quarrel with France. That is not true. He referred to the troubles of the successors of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Has he forgotten the troubles of that time? He seemed to have forgotten the relationship that I had inherited with France. It was not a silky, smooth inheritance by any means. I am not going to labour the matter or to explain it further. Under those circumstances, I say at once, that nothing could be done by a continuation of the policy that had been carried on and which I found. Under those circumstances and to establish a good relationship with France I wrote the letter quoted by the Prime Minister. There can be no peace in Europe if there is disagreement between France and ourselves. What we adopted— I am not going to explain it all through —was a very persistently carried out policy—friendship but not subordination. I pleaded again and again, as I pleaded before I went into office and when I had not the ghost of an idea whether I should be kept in office, that the time had come for British Foreign Secretaries to lay down the British policy. In that policy—make no mistake about it—there should be no enmity to France and no enmity to others. There is a sort of idea or assumption—it seems to be in Lord Cushenden's mind—that we must keep alive all alliances and old ententes. Quarrelling with Germany is a fundamental mistake of His Majesty's Government's foreign policy. Experience shows that it is so.
This White Paper—I have no intention of going over it now—was a deplorable affair. I simply say that I do not understand how it could be that was taken to mean that if France and ourselves could by meeting separately and come to an agreement between ourselves we should be carrying out what was in the mind of the American delegate. We had already disagreed—it was not a quarrel —with America, and we had already disagreed with Italy. The idea that France and ourselves by agreeing together could then without any consultation at all, except by the application of that method —which I quite agree is a very bad method—which has been pointed out by the Prime Minister. Instead of asking the American representative and the Italian representative to come and discuss the matter, France and ourselves discuss the matter and come to an agreement. It does not matter what are its merits. The Government have sent the thing in a dispatch to America and it is a dispatch which does not give the full agreement. No apology and no explanation will do for that. The Government have made a blunder of the first magnitude, and the House of Commons ought to say so.
The Prime Minister has skipped over the contents very lightly. Does he really mean to tell us that those delightful observations which he made upon conscription, which some of us have been at for over 20 years, negotiating with various foreign political parties in order to get the position of the conscript army on to something like a peace footing, does he mean to tell us that that was all that happened and all that was in the mind of the Government? That is not the case. In any event, I hope that he will read his dispatches a little more carefully. They should show all that was in the mind of the Foreign Office when the negotiations were going on. This document which I hold in my hand was something which I wished to read on the last occasion, but I did not do so. I will read it now. Just let the House observe this it is on page 21, in a Note sent by the Foreign Secretary to the Marquess of Crewe:
You should add that the adoption of this suggestion which His Majesty's Government recognise would be a concession to their views on naval classification would enable them to meet the French Government by withdrawing their opposition to the French standpoint with regard to army-trained reserves.
A very clear bargain.
The Prime Minister gave a very satisfactory general formula. Without in any way doubting what he had in his mind, I am never satisfied with a general formula, and I should like to get from someone who follows him in debate a definite and more detailed answer to the following questions: Does anything still exist of the agreement between ourselves and France? That is very important. Is it not only dead to the world—I mean the large negotiating Geneva world—but is it dead as far as France and ourselves are concerned? I hope the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) will permit me to put my questions. She will admit that it is my duty to be so sceptical as to get something which is more definite, in order that we may know precisely where we are. Will this go in any shape or form to the Preparatory Commission, or shall we begin as soon as the Preparatory Commission meets without any understanding at all between France and ourselves? Are we now free to make other proposals regarding trained reserves, or are we bound now to allow the matter to be treated as closed? The Prime Minister completely missed the point on that.
The question about trained reserves is not a question of conscription but a question of how conscription is going to work. It is a perfectly simple proposition.
Yes. It is perfectly simple to work conscription and to get men into trained reserves. You can work it through Budgets. There may be objections to that. You can work it through equipment. There may be objections to that. You can work it through numbers. You can get a co-ordination of the whole three into one scheme. One of the great troubles that is now facing Geneva in connection with this question of the limitation of trained reserves, so far as I have been able to see, and I have read all the debates that have been published, is that it is one of the great difficulties in the way of disarmament. In so far as the debates are a complete revelation of the position taken up by our representatives, they show that our representatives were not really aware what the real nature of the problem was regarding conscription. They raised points that they ought never to have raised. It was a very badly handled debate from our point of view, and it had an unfortunate result. As far as I could gather, when we started the debate on trained reserves the European nations were not friendly. Certain of them saw that our position had to be met, and, therefore, they were not unfriendly as listeners to the debate, but so badly did we handle the debate that when it was finished there was not a nation that supported us. Do not let the Prime Minister imagine that when he talks to us about conscription and the history of conscription in France and so on, that he is really answering the problem of conscription within the disarmament scheme.
There is one further point on which the Government had better make up their minds. The Prime Minister will have to say something about that final paragraph which I quoted last week in M. Briand's communication. He cannot get away from that. What does that paragraph mean? He says that, whether agreement succeeds or fails, there will still be an obligation upon both of us to pursue the same things in other ways. That point ought to be cleared up. I do not know the mind of the Foreign Office on the point, but I do know something of the situation in Europe and I know that that question ought to be answered for the sake of pacifying and clearing up the suspicious feelings which are in the minds of people in Europe. If a Minister says that, as a nation, we have no secret commitments and if any of my hon. Friends puts a question which doubts that statement, everybody on the Government side raises a laugh and shouts. That may be all very well here, but continental nations have secret commitments and they are not shocked at all to suggest that we have secret commitments. If we have no secret commitments, and I hope we have not and never shall have any secret commitments, it is well that we should he open about it and expose everything that we have done. We cannot do that successfully so long as a suspicion is allowed to remain in the mind of the Continent that we have secret commitments. One hon. Member has suggested that it was a try-on. I do not know. Was it only a try-on? Or was it something more? We have not had a reply and I think we ought to have a reply. A reply has to be made and the House of Commons is the place to make it. I hope that whoever replies on behalf of the Government in this Debate, will pay attention to the questions which I have put. Do let us try to come to some amicable understanding of the whole thing.
May I place, before the House one final consideration, which I have already indicated in what I have said about America and the criticism which I have expressed in regard to America and ourselves, a criticism which is common to both of us. You will never get disarmament, and it is worth getting, so long as you pursue it on the assumptions upon which you are now pursuing it. The Prime Minister said something about the Kellogg Pact. He said, quite truly, and we have said it again and again, that now we have the Kellogg Pact and have signed it, we are only at the beginning of our troubles. What does it mean? How are we going to carry it out? That is the whole point. Will the Prime Minister tell me what effect the signing of the Kellogg Pact has had up to now upon our policy in this country? I know, of course, that there is a large policy which one cannot change in the twinkling of an eye or even in a week or a month. I know that it has to be manipulated and very carefully handled and vary carefully thought about. But what have you been talking about at Geneva? You were discussing the possibilities of war and how far it was possible to reduce armaments pending the War. That was what was going on at Geneva when the discussion was adjourned because the Kellogg Pact had to be signed in Paris. We went to Paris and signed the Pact and declared in that Pact that war should never again enter into our heads as part and parcel of our policies, and then we went back to Geneva and resumed the discussion about war at the same point where we left off.
Let me say this quite clearly. You are not going to get disarmament until you get a very considerable psychological change in Europe. We are told that it is security that is wanted. Do not let us babble so much about security. I am not now speaking in a partisan way. I hope we are addressing ourselves to a very serious and very real problem in Europe. The problem is this. You go to Geneva for a conference and the representatives of nine, 10 or 12 nations sit down at the same table to discuss the problem of disarmament. If you start to reduce the number of ships or the number of men you will never get anywhere because when you begin to press the other nations to come to an agreement and to see your point of view, they say: "Oh! Where does my security come in?" You can base your security on one or two characteristic foundations. You can say to these people: "Very well. We will give you security from your army, navy and air force." Or you can say to them, in a reasoning sort of way: "My friends! Go back through the centuries of history that ever you have read and tell me where in that experience you have ever had security from military force." Having done that, you can say to them: "Can we not consider how we can get security other than by military force?" You can secure the peoples of Europe by establishing peace. That is the alternative to force. You can tell the peoples of Europe that they can be secured by armaments reduced to economic limits, but which can be expanded at once. You can tell them that by working out a scheme of peace organisation, working mutually together, the nations can get security by peace so that they do not require to bother so much about security by force. I am certain that you can go on with your disarmament conferences until the Day of Judgment, but unless you change the psychology of the people so that they will take the risks of being at peace, and not always run away from that, rather than accept the risks of always being half-cock at war, we shall never get the peace which we all desire. I want to warn the Government of what is so ominous and sinister in their diplomacy. Behind all this is a war diplomacy. This House ought to make its position perfectly clear, and that position should be one of unqualified censure.
The Leader of the Opposition in the speech which he made in this House last week, and to a lesser extent in the speech he has just delivered, worked himself up to some measure of indignation at the policy which the Government is pursuing at the present time, and he refreshed that indignation with reminiscences of his own recent brief tour to some of the capitals of Europe. I read with great interest the right hon. Gentleman's observations when he came back from that tour, and I gathered that he was a little depressed at the outlook for Europe, not perhaps altogether an inhuman sentiment from the point of view of one who has been Foreign Secretary and is not now in office. I gathered also that he was very dissatisfied with the part which this country was playing in the councils of Europe and the world. We were not pulling our weight as we should. But in his speech the other day the right hon. Gentleman seemed to contradict some what his previous criticism when he referred to the "tremendous damage" which the Government's foreign policy had effected on recent occasions. "Tremendous damage" is seldom effected by countries which do not count, which are not important to the immediate history of Europe.
Anyone who has tried to follow this somewhat complicated controversy in recent weeks and months will be reduced to the conviction that the Government have some right to complain of the nebulous nature of the charges which are still being brought against them in connection with recent negotiations. The right hon. Gentleman himself the other day committed what I believe to have been a serious error of fact. Ever since this campaign of misrepresentation began— I will not discuss its origin and causes— various suggestions have been thrown out about undue secrecy, about there being some sinister purpose behind such secrecy. The right hon. Gentleman has dismissed these charges for the time, but it would seem that the existence of those charges cannot for a moment be justified in fact. Let us be quite clear what happened. The original proposal was not of course the original proposal of our own Government. It was not an action arising out of the brain of our Foreign Secretary with a sinister purpose under it. The original motive power which gave origin to the first draft Convention which this country submitted to the Draft Commission came from the chair-man of that Commission. The right hon. Gentleman denied that, but if he will refer to the Commission he will find that on the day of its first meeting. 30th November, a suggestion from the chair-man, which I will not quote now, gave rise to the original draft Convention and later in the spring of this year there was again a fervent appeal by the chairman of the Commission that those Powers who disagreed should make some attempt to find common agreement outside the confines of the Commission itself.
Can the hon. and gallant Member refer me to any sugges- tions that were made that France and England should alone come to this agreement; should alone undertake these discussions and come to this agreement?
I think it is so. The original draft Convention was submitted by England alone, and the other draft Convention was submitted in opposition by France alone. If, therefore, agreement was to be the outcome, not within the confines of the Commission, it could only be between England and France the only two countries who had submitted draft Conventions.
I do not want to be led astray. The point I want to make is that the suggestion did come from the Chairman of the Disarmament Commission, that we and France, the two countries who had submitted alternative proposals, should come together outside the terms of the Commission and agree. I do not think there can be any doubt on that point of fact, and I only want to emphasise it because it is one on which there has been frank misunderstanding in many cases. Then comes the question: Were we right to try and fulfil the request of the Disarmament Commission? Were we right to try and find a measure of agreement with the French Government? Undoubtedly we were, and therefore ought to be acquitted of doing anything wrong in that respect. We therefore reach this point: That it was right to try and reach agreement, but that the terms which we achieved were unsatisfactory; it is the terms then which have produced this disastrous effect? It has been admitted by everyone, although the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) does not seem to have the least idea of it, that the terms which we eventually reached were not the terms which this country was anxious to achieve. We have not agreed upon the original proposals put forward by this country which divided armaments into nine categories and limited each; that was the policy which we desired. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs never seems to have heard of it.
It is perfectly true that we were unable to reach an agreement on those terms, but the comparison I suggest is not between the terms which we should like to have reached and the terms we have got, but the true comparison is between the terms we have got and the position as it was before those terms were reached. It is not a fair criticism to say that we should have reached an ideal limitation. The true criterion is: Was the limitation embodied in the Agreement an improvement on the condition of affairs which existed before? That is the only true comparison, and on these lines I suggest that we are entitled to say that in the terms of the agreement, which incidentally offered to the United States of America a measure of departure from the proposals which she had previously rejected, there was something which might reasonably form the basis of future discussion. And that is what the Foreign Secretary said when he stood at that Box in July last. He made no other claim. He did not pretend that there was any secret Treaty, any pact, any agreement, which was binding for all time. He said they were tentative proposals which he hoped would be considered by other Governments, and just such proposals as the Chairman of the Disarmament Commission, had asked this country and France to work out.
I hope that some of the criticisms which have been uttered in the country, some of which seem to have found an echo in the speech of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, will not gain in force or authority in this country. There seems a tendency to cast suspicion upon the present relations of this country and France, as though the friendship which existed between us cloaked sonic hidden and sinister motive. No one will endorse that. At the moment I suppose our relations with France are very friendly indeed and, personally, I hope they will always continue to be so, because I am certain that these relations form an inevitable basis for the peace of Europe not only to-day but in the future. After all, we have only to look back on recent events to realise that the friendship is in no sense exclusive. On the contrary, it is the medium through which alone such progress as has been made in international relations has been achieved. Through that medium the agreements of Locarno were achieved, and rapprochement with Germany made possible. It was through that friendship that Germany was able to find a place in the Council of the League of Nations itself, and but for the friendly relations which existed between this country and France, the League of Nations would not now be in the strong position it is at the moment; and that in itself has been the instrument which has paved the way for the settlement of difficult problems.
I am convinced that it must be an essential factor in future international relations in Europe that this country and France shall maintain and extend to others the friendship which has bound them together in the past. Surely, it would be a morbid and monstrous doctrine to lay it down that two such countries like France and England, which are bound together in their friendship by every tie which should sanctify it, cannot continue to use for their mutual benefit and the benefit of the rest of mankind that measure of friendship without in some ambiguous way embittering other nations, or rousing suspicion in other Governments. I do not believe that any foreign Government entertains such suspicion for a moment, and if anyone wished for proof of the importance of Anglo-French amity they have only to glance over the history of international relations since the War. On every occasion when the outlook for peace in Europe has been the least happy they have been the occasions when our relations with France have been the least happy.
The most anxious weeks which this country has spent since the War were those which preceded and included the Chanak episode, and it was in the last days of the Coalition when the prestige of this country sank to its lowest ebb. Those were precisely the very months when our relations with France were the least satisfactory. I myself would not blame the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs exclusively for that state of affairs. We are a little more charitable on these Benches than he is on occasions. We realise that it takes two to make a quarrel, but it also takes two to make a compromise. I have often thought that there was some little temperamental contrast which might make it difficult for the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and his French colleague to see eye to eye. The French for all the ardour of their patriotism are essentially a practical race. The Welsh are oftentimes sentimental. The French are essentially masculine and perhaps a little prickly to handle intellectually; the Welsh are perhaps a little more gentle, a little more feminine. A Frenchman will always wish to proceed by logic, but a Welshman may wish to proceed by instinct. It is not, therefore, surprising sometimes to see both setting out for the same objective and ending up in opposite places. Nor is it any more surprising, both having arrived at their respective objective and both being endowed with equal volubility, to find that there should be prolonged conferences in various parts of Europe to settle which was right.
There is one note which I think this House should not allow to let drop. I, myself, would be profoundly sorry if I thought the out-come of this attempt to find a basis of agreement and the misrepresentation that has centred round it should result for a moment in any misunderstanding among our friends in the United States of America. I do not believe that there is really any danger of that, for I do not think that that suspicion exists among the best-informed minds in the United States at present. Right or wrong, I am convinced that a greater measure of understanding between this country and the United States is the most important objective that the Government of this country could set before us. The Government should not allow itself to be stopped in that work by any obstacle however formidable or irritating. Perhaps the irritating obstacle would be the most difficult to overcome. To put it at the lowest, no two peoples in the world have more to lose by a rift in international peace than our own people and the people of the United States. We are all anxious to see disarmament carried into effect. It is world nations like ourselves and the United States who are interested in naval disarmament, and there are still perhaps unexplored avenues which might lead us to hope for better results than have been achieved in the past. I hope that successive Govern- ments in this country, no matter what their political creed, will assiduously pursue good relations between ourselves and America, not only because we need that mutual friendship, but because it is the most important safeguard for world peace in the years that are to come.
It is obvious that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken has never studied the Welsh character, and he appears to have forgotten the history of the War. I can hardly think that the gentleman who occupied the position of Prime Minister at that time is either effeminate or sentimental, and he is certainly representative of his people. The friends of peace to-morrow morning will read the Prime Minister's speech with regret and despair. Nothing has upset public opinion in this country so much during the last six months as the idea that an Anglo-French Pact had been negotiated. Speaking, or rather writing, on 9th, March last, the Foreign Secretary said:
On the two crucial military and naval questions the British and French were diametrically opposed. British public opinion, with its traditions, believed that voluntary armies were defensive and that conscript armies implied offensive war.
To-day we had the misfortune of hearing the Prime Minister of England defending the conscript armies of France and approving, though the Pact is no longer in existence, the position taken up by the Foreign Office in the matter. Are we to understand that conscription is also to be allowed to the German Government, or that the French conscript army of 4,000,000 is to remain against an army of 100,000 in Germany? That is a, matter which is of immense and vital interest to us, because in the Pact of Locarno we have bound ourselves, if the French attack Germany, to fight for Germany. On the one hand we have bound ourselves to fight with Germany, a disarmed nation, against a nation which has an army of 4,000,000 men—a conscript army which our Government are willing to allow. When that is realised tomorrow, the country's opinion of the Prima Minister will not be very high.
I do not want to quote again the Foreign Office document which has already been quoted, and which suggested that if the Pact ceases to exist there is some urgent obligation on us to do some-
thing else. What is that obligation? To what does it refer? Because in 1922 and 1923 we had negotiations for another Anglo-French Pact. I have the documents here—they were published in 1924. It has been assumed all along that France desires security, and the Leader of the Opposition said just now that that was the real position. But is it, so? France has the benefit of the security guaranteed by the League of Nations and of our undertaking under the Treaty of Locarno, and, further of a treaty between itself and Poland and another treaty with Czechoslovakia, but notwithstanding these securities the. expenditure on French armaments is higher than before the War. I am relying on figures published in the "Manchester Guardian." There has been an increase this year of no less than £32,000,000 in the French Budget on arms. The military expenditure of France to-day is greater than before the War, in spite of the devaluation of the franc. In 3 years there will be there 400,000 men in the long-service army. These figures have appeared, and I am not aware that they are disputed. But why is France armed? Is it for self-defence? If you turn hack to these discussions you will see that there is a note, dated 4th July, 1922, from Lord Balfour to Lord Hardinge, who then represented us in Paris. We had given our undertaking to France as a member of the League of Nations, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) had offered a pact to France for the defence of its frontiers. Here is what Lord Balfour said to Lord Hardinge:
M. Poincaré's memo implies that the French now attach little importance to a Part, for he was at pains to point out that if either Belgium or France would attack, Britain would of necessity and from motives of pure self-interest be compelled to come to their assistance.
France needed no protection for itself. The question then was put to France, "What is the alliance which you seek from us?" and the answer was given quite frankly. They meant an alliance against indirect attack. They did not fear an attack from Germany. A note from Lord Curzon to Lord Hardinge on this point stated that by indirect attack they meant an attack of the kind which would be more likely
to arise in the future than a direct attack and an instance was given of the situation that might arise if a resuscitated Russia or a resuscitated Germany were to attack Poland. In other words, we were to enter into an alliance with France over and above the Pact of Locarno and the League of Nations to defend Poland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs and the Cabinet of the time were obviously not satisfied, and refused to titter into that alliance. It. was said to-night that the Pact is dead, but I am afraid the spirit of the Pact is alive, and I suggest to the House that the real Pact which the French are seeking is that which they sought, and sought in vain, in 1922, and it is essential for us to understand in this country what is really meant by attack on France. I pointed out that it was not to defend France against Germany but to meet some possible attack by Germany or Russia on Poland. But what were the implications of that alliance and of that understanding? We were to be in readiness to land troops on the Continent, and there was to be a discussion among the general staffs, naval and military. Is that the meaning of the military and naval Pact now proposed?
The Prime Minister of France declared that he did not want a unilateral pact, but one by which we should also benefit. The alliance implied that the two Governments should engage to regulate in agreement with one another the strength of their respective military, naval and air forces, and there was a stipulation that there should be an understanding between the two general staffs. That was what was proposed in 1923, and I want to know whether there is anything of that kind being proposed or suggested at the present moment. I accept the Prime Minister's word that the Pact is dead, but people should discuss it. It was proposed in 1923 that there should not only be that Pact, but that it should be secret. Are these negotiations to be secret as in the past? Here is another quotation from the Blue Book:
If the British Government would prefer not to insert provisions relating to an entente between general staffs in the text of the Treaty, the French Government would be ready to agree, but such power should be embodied in an exchange of notes to be signed simultaneously with, and annexed to, the Treaty, such notes to be
published at the same time as the main Treaty.
It is because these negotiations have been conducted secretly that we are so sceptical of the assurance we have had as to what really has taken place. Now what is the French policy? Is it merely defence against Germany? The Blue Book to which I have referred makes it quite clear that France desires to prevent the union of the German States. According to the Blue Book France went further:
M. Briand deprecated an Agreement whereby England should come to the assistance of France if she were attacked by Germany, and pleaded that the Rhine should be regarded as a frontier common to Belgium, France and England, to be defended in common by all three countries.
Is that the policy of France? Is that the Pact for which the French are fighting? Is that one of the considerations which have been accepted by the Government as the basis of further discussion. France does not fear Germany. Germany is disarmed. But France has more submarines and more aeroplanes than we have, and, if one may be frank, let us admit that she does not pay her debts. She has repudiated two-thirds of her obligations to British investors, by the devaluation of the franc. I feel sure of one thing about my countrymen, and that is that they are not in favour of any alliance or understanding with any Power in Europe except through the League of Nations.
The hon. Member who has just spoken seems to see in the Anglo-French agreement some sinister kind of alliance which will carry us very much further than any other alliance which we have entered into with any other country. Surely he is under a complete misapprehension in that respect. I would not have intervened in the Debate were it not for the fact that I was in Washington earlier in the year at a time when the American naval party was making a very strong push to build a big navy. I for one am of the opinion that what has happened over this Anglo-French Agreement is, that it has been purposely torpedoed by the big navy party in Washington. Hitherto, every speech that has been made from the other side of the House has assumed that this country is in the wrong. Propaganda has been spread about, not only in Europe but in the United States, to the effect that it was the British element which was endeavouring to obtain some advantage, and speakers opposite to-day have been only too ready to allow themselves to be taken in by that propaganda. They have arrayed themselves on the side not of their own countrymen, but on that of any foreigner who criticises this country.
What is the actual position? The actual position was, as the hon and gallant Member for Warwick (Captain Eden) has said, that the suggestion for this agreement came not from Britain nor from France, but from the Chairman of the Committee and from the American representative, Mr. Gibson. Why was it suggested that France and Great Britain should discuss this matter? In the wordy of the Chairman it was
Because it is necessary that those Governments whose points of view are most divergent should seek to harmonise their views by diplomatic preparation.
Why was it, again, that France and Great Britain were more divergent in their views than any others? The position at that time was this: Great Britain and the United States were in agreement as to the general method by which disarmament could take place. The United States and ourselves wanted a strict limitation by various categories of ships, whereas France and Italy wanted limitation by global tonnage. That was the great difference in the point of view as to the general method by which disarmament was to come about and in this respect Great Britain and the United States were in agreement. They were not in agreement as to the exact definition of strength, but as to the general method of attaining it. The military powers were in complete divergence in that respect. There is nothing sinister in this situation; there is no secrecy about it. As a result of this situation it was suggested, both by the Chairman and by Mr. Gibson, that France and Great Britain should discuss this matter to see whether they could get somewhat closer together.
What was the object of that discussion? The object was to find a formula which would designate the fixation of strength, but it was not to fix the actual strength of the navy. It was merely to see whether or not a formula could be devised upon which a discussion as to the exact fixation of strength could take place. The exact fixation could not take place until the method had been submitted to every one of the other naval contracting Powers. I do not see how anyone can say that up to this point the action taken by Great Britain was other than what ought to have been taken. It was following logically upon the suggestion which had been made to France and ourselves.
Why did America reject the arrangement to which France and Great Britain came? The American naval experts, wanting to expand the navy, just as the naval experts of other countries want to do, hoodwinked not only their own Government but also the Press of the world. They have drawn a very clever red herring across the track in this discussion of disarmament. The last thing that your expert person, who depends for his livelihood on there being ships, wants, is disarmament. The last thing that the firms who manufacture these ships want is disarmament. When I was in Washington I saw the very pretty play that was going on in the way of propaganda by these two parties. I am not suggesting that it is different in America from anywhere else. Wherever you have great vested interests, those people who live by the fact that the vested interests are in existence, are bound to work for the continuation of expenditure in just the same way as I might come down and suggest that another airship should be built. I have a lot of workpeople dependent on the building of airships.
Now let me examine the official reason that America gives for destroying this Agreement, and let me compare the official reason with the actual facts of the case. What are the two reasons which the United States gave? First of all, in what was termed the "limited class" of ships, she stated that she could not obtain parity with Great Britain because she was precluded from building the number of vessels that she required or the type that she required, whereas in so far as the "unlimited class" is concerned, she was precluded from building those, because if she did build them they would be of no use to her. The reason for that was that they were too small to have the necessary cruising range to carry out her obligations. The reason for the difference between Great Britain's point of view and her's was this: America said that Great Britain had a great chain of far-flung stations throughout the world, at which her ships could re-fuel, whereas the United States, not having such stations, would require ships with great radius of action and therefore of great size. But in the Washington Treaties and Resolutions there is a little clause, slipped in no doubt by the expert, which completely destroys the foundation upon which the politicians have been discussing this matter.
Politicians have been discussing the question on the basis that America was right, that America must build these bigger ships, and that we were trying to pull the wool over her eyes and get her to build small ships because we wanted small ships and wanted to take advantage of our coaling stations. I shall read this Clause because it is very important. The reason for the breakdown between the United States and this country was stated to be in the limitation of the displacement and the size of the guns carried in the cruisers of what was termed the "unlimited" class. Here is the clause:
The standard displacement of a ship is the displacement of the ship complete, fully manned, engined, and equipped ready for sea, including all armament and ammunition, equipment, outfit, provisions and fresh water for crew, miscellaneous stores and implements of every description that are intended to be carried in war, but without fuel or reserve feed water on board.
What does that expression, "but without fuel or reserve feed water on board," mean? It means that as that is not taken into consideration in the displacement of a vessel, it is possible to build a 5,000 ton cruiser with a greater radius of action than any warship in existence. That shows at once how this official objection by the United States Government was either due to their experts advising their politicians incorrectly or was due to some other motive. Let me take the question of the eight-inch gun. A few years ago we had a discussion in this House about it. The United States official objection to the Franco-British Pact was that they could not have small ships because they could not get the necessary radius of action. I have shown how utterly untrue that statement is. Let me take the question of the guns. The Americans say that they must have
cruisers with eight-inch guns if they are to engage armed merchantmen with any degree of certainty. What is the truth? It is well known by any naval officer that a naval vessel with a drilled and disciplined crew, would take on any armed merchantman, if the vessel was armed with 4.7 guns. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), if he were in command of a destroyer with 4.7 guns, would take on any armed merchantman with 6-inch guns. That shows, however plausible may be the political objection to the Pact, how untrue in reality are the objections which have been advanced by America. If what I have said be the truth of the situation, surely it means that although we in this country have been universally accused of having caused a set-back to disarmament any unbiased person must ask if the United States, in refusing to discuss—as they have done—the Anglo-French suggestions, have not been the guilty party in respect of this set-back to disarmament.
We on our side have done everything that we ought to have done. We have carried out these discussions with France at the suggestion of the American representative. We have come to a conclusion with them on a basis which, from a technical point of view, is perfectly sound and good for the United States. We have done more than that. We have got for the first time in history three out of the five leading naval Powers in agreement. Hitherto there has never been agreement among as many as that. Before Members of the Opposition refuse to take the side of our own country in this matter they ought to delve into the details of this arrangement and see for themselves whether it is not the case that America in effect is saying to us "We want parity with you. We want peace." But then when she comes to us with this dove of peace in one hand saying that she wants parity she keeps the other hand behind her back, clasping ideas and proposals which would allow her to have a naval superiority over this country. I am not saying for one moment that the United States is not justified in building a navy of whatever size she likes. If she wants to pay for a navy three times the size of this country's navy she is perfectly entitled to do so. It has nothing to do with us at all, whether she has a navy of that size or not but I do object strongly to the statement that while all they want is parity, the suggestions made by us give us an advantage —which is not the fact, the truth of the matter being that if America gets her way it will give, not parity but a great advantage to the United States.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney)has I understand been in Washington. From his speech one would suppose, rather, that he had been at Damascus and that on the road a blinding light had struck him. I thank him for his remarks about the absurdity of sending technical expert; to disarmament conferences. As I have said before in this House you might as well call a meeting of bookmakers and jockeys to abolish horse-racing and I am glad to have the hon. and gallant Member's endorsement of that view. I also make allowance for the fact that the hon. and gallant Member has not only been out of this country for some time, but has been struck by a blinding white light, in considering his statement that it was the American "big navy" party which killed the Anglo-French Pact—perhaps I had better not call it "pact" but agreement or arrangement or new entente or whatever it may be. It was not so. It was British public opinion, with sound instinct, which killed it. If the hon. and gallant Member had read some of the English papers, of all shades of opinion, he would recognise that fact. A paper like the "Evening Standard," for instance, a very respectable and not blatantly exciting paper referred to it as a case not only of making fools of us but of making knaves of us. That was the tone of public opinion when the proposed agreement began to leak out principally through French and American papers and official and semi-official leakages.
The opinion among the ordinary work-a-day people of this country—not the politicians, not Bolsheviks, not even Diehards, but the ordinary people—was that it was a mischievous arrangement which would lead to great trouble in the future. I think the public instinct was absolutely right, and I am going to tell the First Lord of the Admiralty why I think it was right and to accuse him and his official expert advisers of having committed a betrayal of the English people ill most discreditable circumstances. I am going to show exactly what I mean. This has been a far more sinister business than my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) made it out to be. He attacked the Government hard enough, but even he is not seized of what has lain behind this policy. The Prime Minister, I am afraid, does not know all that is behind it. There is one point in this connection which I hope the First Lord will mention to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister made a very serious mis-statement in referring to the Kellogg Pact. He said the Monroe doctrine was implicit in the proposals of the American Secretary of State. That is entirely wrong and the Prime Minister has been badly advised. The Monroe doctrine has never been mentioned in any of the American State Department's dispatches, or in the Pact itself, or in any of the documents or correspondence which led up to its signature. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge having been in Washington will know that such is the case.
Even when our own Foreign Secretary—and may I say how sorry I am for the cause of his absence and how glad I am to know that he is recovering from his illness—even when he foolishly tried to draw the American State Department into a discussion about the Monroe doctrine, by mentioning our own Monroe doctrine, the American State Department was not drawn. It is wrong and unfair for the Prime Minister of England, with all the authority he has and all the publicity which his statements will receive, to make such a misstatement as to say that the Monroe doctrine was implicit in the Kellogg peace proposals.
They have been invited almost in as plain words as possible, to endorse our Monroe doctrine—if I may use that term —and they have not responded to the invitation. I think it is common know- ledge. Both the Secretary of State and President Coolidge have made it well known that the outlawry of war Treaty covers the lesser Monroe doctrine.
I say the greater covers the less and that the Monroe doctrine is covered by the far greater and wider treaty for the outlawry of war, and Senator Borah and Mr. Morrison and all the others who were the men responsible for the Kellogg proposals endorse that point regarding the Monroe doctrine. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has been advised inaccurately by somebody in the Admiralty on another point. The right hon. Gentleman took advantage of the occasion of a League of Nations Union meeting in the Albert Hall to make a highly controversial speech. I am on the executive of the League of Nations Union and we have complaints from Conservatives, which I admit are justified, of the Union platform being used for partisan attacks on the Government. That is a practice which I have always discountenanced, and I agree with those criticisms, but the Prime Minister himself used the League of Nations platform at the Albert Hall to make a highly misleading statement. I agree with one thing which the Prime Minister said about the devil's work of those who stir up ill-feeling against foreign countries, and I hope to goodness those words will be taken to heart by some of his own Cabinet colleagues.
When the right hon. Gentleman talks about stirring up suspicion against foreign countries, I wish the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary would remember his words when they are talking about Russia and that Lord Birkenhead when he was a member of the Cabinet had remembered it. It is not so very long ago since the Prime Minister at that Box had to rebuke the Home Secretary for making misleading statements about America in this House. I agree, therefore, very heartily with what the Prime Minister said upon that point and I hope it will be marked by members of the Cabinet who have been
breathing fire and slaughter first against China, then against Russia and at intervals against America. The statement of the Prime Minister to which I object is one which I hold the First Lord and his assistants responsible for putting into the mouth of the Prime Minister. It is very appropriate to deal with it here because this is one of the causes of the present mischief between ourselves and America. I think it will be agreed that mischief has been created and that there is suspicion, as the Prime Minister himself admits. This follows on what the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge has been saying about disarmament. I agree with him that the American "Big Navy" party and the shipbuilding interests would be delighted at the chance given by this blunder of the present Government. They have even the support of Senator Borah, the leading pacifist of the United States, who is going to support their navy building programme as the only way to bring about disarmament—which shows that America is really in earnest. The Prime Minister's statement to which I refer is as follows:
Our policy in naval building is and has been for the past few years to go slew. We have no intention of building in competition with the United States. We were building slow long before we were asked to sign the Kellogg Pact
That is untrue, and the Admiralty's own publication, the annual Return of Fleets, published at the beginning of the year, proves it to be untrue. The actual figures show that far from going slow we entered into a building competition and we are stronger to-day especially in cruisers—the only larger ships we are allowed to build under the Washington Treaty of 1921—than any three Powers. The figures of cruisers built since the Washington Conference Agreement of 1921 show, for Great Britain, 9 built and 14 building.
No. Since 1921 we have completed nine. Some more may have been completed during this year but, at any rate, since 1921 we have completed nine cruisers and we have 14 building.
Yes, one or two, but that is of no moment. The total is 23, and that is our addition to the fleet since the Washington Agreement was signed; and in addition to that the two largest battleships in the world, the "Rodney" and the "Nelson," at a cost of £7,000,000 each. We are the only Power that has built battleships.
I know it is by agreement, but those battleships need not have been built if we had been in earnest in desiring peace, and we could not afford them anyway. We cannot afford £14,000,000 on battleships, and the First Lord ought to know it. The United States have completed, since the Washington Agreement, 10 and have 8 building, a total of 18, against our 23; Japan, built 14, building 6, total 20; France, built 3, building 5, total 8; Italy, built nil, building 6. Take again the average standard of cruisers of 20 years old and less. We have built at the present time, according to the Admiralty publication, 48, against 12 American, 25 Japanese, 11 French, and 11 Italian cruisers. As I have said, we are equal to any three Powers combined in the only large ocean-going ships we can build under the Agreement, and then the Admiralty advisers allow the Prime Minister at the Albert Hall, on a League of Nations Union platform, to say that we have gone slow in building. The fact is, of course, that we have led the world in cruiser construction. I dare say a case can be made out for the length of our trade routes and our scattered Empire and all that sort of thing, but an equally strong case could be made out for building hundreds of cruisers.
I declared just now that British opinion was instinctive but right about this policy that has been pursued, which culminated in these conversations between the English and French naval experts, and the only conclusion I can come to is that those conversations were to have been kept secret and that the arrangement come to was to have been kept secret. I can find no other explanation to fit the facts, and when the Foreign Office were brought into the plot they thought they could act quite safely in informing the other Powers, not knowing what really lay behind the policy.
The hon. and gallant Member opposite is very simple if he believes that explanation. That was merely the excuse put forward. Does not the hon. and gallant Member see that the Government have been, to use a slang term, in a terrible hole? In the old days of the Whig and Tory parties, drawn from the same governing class, a Government doing this sort of thing and being found out would have fallen. They were in a terrible hole, and this was an isolated remark by the Chairman of the Committee. An isolated paper put forward by Lord Cecil is drawn in, and as a clever lawyer can make out a brief for the defence, so this excuse is put forward. If the hon. and gallant Member believes it, he is more simple than I took him to be.
Let me catalogue the symptoms that show what has been going on—small things in themselves, but their cumulative offect will be noticed. There were the Rhineland manoeuvres this year, the continued occupation of the Rhineland without any real effort on our part to terminate it, and the sudden renewal of harshness of treatment of the German population in the occupied territory. Then the Secretary of State, Mr. Kellogg, after the signature of the outlawry Treaty, visits Dublin and avoids London, and our Foreign Secretary goes from California to Canada and avoids Washington. Going further back, there was the breakdown of the Geneva Naval Conference last year. President Coolidge declares that it broke down because the British experts demanded twice the tonnage that America could agree to. It broke down on a quibble, a shibboleth. What does it matter whether American cruisers are built with 8-inch guns or with 6-inch guns? We are not going to fight America. The Government spokesmen are always saying that war with America is unthinkable, and even apart from that we are not going to fight America, because of Canada. Any threat of war with America would lead to the removal of the tariff wall between the United States and Canada, and what would happen then? Furthermore, even if war did break out, even if we were so insane as to allow our Governments to lead us into war, what would be our strategical position along that 3,000 miles frontier without a fort on it? But our Admiralty, still obsessed with the 300 years-old doctrine of sea supremacy could not accept the figures that the Finance Ministers forced on the naval experts at Washington in 1921.
Further symptoms of the policy that has been pursued by the invisible Government of this country—although the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord is very visible on the Front Bench; he acts as a screen—are the reservations to the Kellogg Pact, the delay in the drawing up of the new arbitration Treaty between this country and America, this unnecessarily heavy shipbuilding, started after the Washington Conference and forced on my right hon. Friend and the Labour Cabinet by the Admiralty staff on the threat of resignation, as everybody knows. I criticised them then from that side of the House and divided the House against them when the first five cruisers were laid down at the beginning of this policy. I say that my right hon. Friend and the Labour Government were bluffed and foozled by the Board of Admiralty on the threat of resignation, and everybody knows it. I am sorry my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs has had to leave the House, but, going still further back, there was his own action in forcing the deletion from President Wilson's famous 14 points, that formed the basis of the Peace Treaty, of the second point, which referred to the freedom of the seas, to the effect that peaceable merchantmen should not be interfered with on their lawful occasions outside territorial waters except when international action was being taken. I thought that that was implicit in the Covenant of the League of Nations as a matter of fact, but that was forded out of the 14 points by the action of the British Government.
Now all these symptoms taken together, some of them by themselves unimportant and some of great importance, show the way in which we are drifting, and I am afraid that I must remind the First Lord of what was said by a very great master of the science of war, Clausewitz, to the effect that war is only the same policy, pursued in another form as a policy leading to war. It is only the culminating part of a policy that leads to war. If this policy had not been killed by public opinion, it would have led to a situation which might have resulted in war. What it was leading up to was an alliance with France. It was part of a policy that we have pursued industriously, and on the whole very successfully, for 300 years, the policy of sea supremacy. Any Power that threatened us at sea was out-built and fought when we could do it, and, if not, she was overthrown by the help of Allies. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs quoted the case of Spain, and he made out that that was a religious war. It was not; it was a war to burst into the rich markets of the New World by overthrowing Spanish sea power. If it was a religious war, why did we fight our Protestant neighbours, the Dutch? We overthrew the Dutch because they had a monopoly of the carrying trade and because their sea power was hampering ours. We overthrew France two or three times for the same reasons. It was necessary for us to expand, and we had to have supremacy at sea.
The same reasons have led to our farming alliances as a re-insurance against Germany. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) has studied naval history, And he knows that for 300 years, whenever the Admiralty could force this policy upon successive Governments, they did so, and although we now have a League of Nations and have signed the Washington Treaty, the Pact of Locarno, and the Kellogg Pact, it would be too much to expect that this old, almost hereditary policy would be thrown overboard in 10 years. Ten years have passed since the Armistice, and that is little in the life of A nation such as ours. The only fault that I have to find with this policy is that it is out-of-date. It is impossible to-day. You cannot have sea supremacy by this or by any other nation to-day, and if any nation attempts to get it she endangers the peace of the world. We cannot do it, partly for financial reasons and partly because the great weapon of sea supremacy, the commercial blockade, is almost impossible to-day. You cannot enforce an effective commercial blockade to-day without alienating the neutrals, and also because the whole character of export and import trade has altered, and railways, canals, and motor transport have taken away the efficacy of the blockade. Therefore, sea supremacy by any one Power is impossible. Both we and the Americans, if we seek to gain it, are pursuing a will-o'-the-wisp, and just as the man who pursues a will-o'-the-wisp lands himself into a swamp, we shall run ourselves into the swamp of international hostilities.
Now out of all this good can come. I think we have an opportunity now of undoing all this mischief. We should immediately stop further naval construction. We do not need the cruisers, and we should let the Americans build all the ships they like, without protest, within the terms of the Washington Agreement, of course. We shall have to busy ourselves in this matter if we are to make good before 1931. The Prime Minister spoke of the need of a closer understanding between British and American statesmen. I would like to say that whenever the of the distinguished diplomat who so brilliantly occupies the position of our Minister at Washington expires, the experiment should he tried of a Canadian being sent to Washington to represent His Majesty's Government.
Yes, but he represents Canada. I mean a Canadian to represent this country, and then you would have two Canadians there, because the difficulty of Englishmen and Americans understanding each other, referred to by the Prime Minister, does not apply so much between Americans and Canadians, and we have in Canada a tremendous means of improving our relationship with America; because we should let it be known—as recently the American Government let it be known, that they do come forward to our point of view about submarines—that we have come round to the American point of view about the future of international law at sea in time of war; in other words, that we are prepared to accept now what we objected to before namely, the second of President Wilson's Fourteen Points dealing with the freedom of the seas. We have signed a solemn pact and treaty giving up the right of making private warfare as an instrument of national policy. Why should we not say that we will give up the right of private blockade? That is where the only point of difference between this country and America exists, and yet it is a real point of difference. I said just now that no one believes that the people of this country would permit even a Conservative Government to get us into the position of war danger with America, but there is this difference of opinion, which may become very difficult indeed with America.
I wonder if the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would be kind enough to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty to look at a book which has recently been published, the third volume of the papers of Colonel House. It is well worth reading. He describes the proposal that was made in 1917 that we should lend America some capital ships after the War in the by no means impossible event of the German Navy being left intact. We were trying to persuade the American Government to build destroyers in greater numbers to combat submarines, and to delay the further construction of capital ships. They felt that they must have a strong navy after the War, and the proposal was canvassed that we should lend them some of our capital ships, and that in case of a German attack upon us, the Americans would lend us the ships back. What a long way we have travelled since then! Last year we raised objections to the Americans putting eight-inch guns into cruisers. What a gulf there is between 1917, when we were prepared to lend our own capital ships, and now, when we say that we cannot possibly face the building of a few extra cruisers by America with eight-inch guns. What a distance we have drifted, and it shows the danger of continually drifting. That proposal was endorsed, according to Colonel House's papers, by Lord Balfour and Admiral Lord Fisher. It did not come to anything, for reasons that are explained, but the fact that we could find a leading Conservative ex-Prime Minister and the greatest Admiral of the day endorsing the proposal, shows the intimate relations there were between the two nations. I hope that before many years are over, they will again become as intimate. There is not much time to lose before 1932, because the Washington Treaty expires then, and the nations will be free to build battleships and any other ships without let.
There is one other proposal which I have to make. It is not my own idea, but was contained in a letter to the "Times" by a well-known American. Dr. Flexner. He pointed out how the apparently insoluble reparations difficulty was solved by a meeting of non-experts and non-politicians. The Dawes scheme was drawn up by men who were not professional diplomats or politicians, and he suggests a similar body to consider armaments. That is a rather valuable suggestion, and I think that the approach to America might be made through some such body if the Americans were prepared to appoint one.
I apologise for having detained the House; I have kept it longer than is my wont, because this is a subject on which I feel very keenly. I cannot in any way understand the proposal that France should be allowed to build submarines under 600 tons without limit, that being the size of nine-tenths of the German submarines that did the damage to our ships in the war. I cannot understand this country having at Geneva in 1927 wrecked the Conference with America on a rock, on a snag, namely, the attempt to limit the American 8-inch gun cruisers, while having unlimited right of building smaller gun cruisers. I cannot imagine us supposing that that would be accepted by the United States. The only conclusion to which I can come, taking into consideration other symptoms of policy, is that the whole arrangement was made to deceive, and that, just as in the past when we were faced by a wealthy power—France under Louis XIV, and Spain in Elizabeth's reign—whom we could not out-build at sea, we insured ourselves with alliances, so I am afraid that this is the same policy of reinsuring ourselves with alliances against America in future. I do not say that those responsible for this policy are working for war. France wants us to bind ourselves closely to them so that, if there be a danger of another war over the Rhine, we will be her sure ally. I am afraid that it is once more the old British policy of reinsurance against a very powerful nation, and I am glad to say that I believe public opinion has thoroughly checked it, and completely stopped any such policy. Experts, as long as they are the servants of Governments, are necessary and useful; when they attempt to master Governments, they lead nations into war.
It is quite fitting that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), who takes all knowledge as his province, should cover so wide a field; and so far from his speech being long, it was a marvel that he was able to mention so many subjects within the limits of time that he took. I do not propose to follow him at all, but I would say this in regard to America. I agree with him that it is a matter of utter indifference to us what armaments America has, or what ships she chooses to build, but if America raises the subject of parity, we are bound to follow suit, and that was the case very largely in the discussions at Geneva. The hon. and gallant Member made a speech which was very appropriate in parts to the Navy Estimates, and he found fault with our building. The Admiralty have gone to the very limit in abstaining from building, and anybody who knows anything about the obsolescence of cruisers knows that the Admiralty are following a mere replacement policy, in which they are stretching the age of the cruisers to considerable limits, with the idea that there can be no outbreak of war. The real question that we have to discuss is the question which was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, that of security, and let me say this in regard to America. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member that our position in the past was one of practical, close alliance. He gave one instance; I will give another. There was a time when America was concentrating the whole of her fleet in the Pacific, and it was a well understood idea that this country would look after the Atlantic, and America would look after British and American interests in the Pacific. Presently I will come to the point when suspicion was first engendered.
What is the position of Geneva, with which we have been mainly concerning ourselves of late? The Treaty of Versailles created 38 nations instead of 26, and it will be common ground to any one who has studied history that, when there is a multiplicity of nations, there is an increased chance of war. That was shown by the history of the Italian principalities and republics; it was shown by the Greek republics, and when the world was practically united under Rome, there was practically a cessation of war. Instead of one racial trouble in Austro-Hungary, we now have four racial troubles, and instead of one Alsace-Lorraine there are no less than eight or nine Alsace-Lorraines in Europe to-day. It is in a Europe in that form that we have to interpose, and the Government are quite right not to go nearly so far as the Opposition in guaranteeing the security of all these different nations. The British policy cannot be to give security to every nation, because that would simply mean that, if the League of Nations were able to order us about, we should have to employ the British Navy and have to have a much stronger Navy than we have to-day. When the Leader of the Opposition said that our policy should be to give the sense of security to every nation, he no doubt meant the Geneva Protocol over again. He said that the policy of the. Opposition would be to revive the Geneva Protocol. That is not my idea of the British policy. I should much prefer to go back to the old Canning idea which looked to friendship with America and which looked to the British Empire. That would, of course, take us a great deal out of the European outlook in which we always seem to be getting into trouble.
I do not propose to deal with the Anglo-French Pact, because that is dead and gone. If there were a mistake in the method of talking diplomacy—and I think there was—it is because we did not take the Americans into our confidence right from the first. We repeated the mistake we made at Geneva. We went to Geneva with a very big scheme, and we surprised the American delegation with our proposals. The American Admirals were not prepared to discuss the question of battleships; they were taken by surprise, and they showed their ignorance to the politicians, and no officer likes to do that. There was another mistake which we never made at Washington, and that was that we allowed the Admirals to talk, and they straightway began to fire broadsides at each other. After all, the Admirals are experts to advise; they are dangerous talkers, and
they ought never to have been brought into the Conference at all, but to advise behind the scenes. In the Geneva Protocol business we went to the other extreme. Not a single member of the Naval War Staff was taken to Geneva, and that was a great mistake. You must have the advice of your experts. Not until the Admiralty heard what they were up to at Geneva in negotiating the Geneva Protocol did they race one of the War Staff there to try to stop the mischief which was going on. There is no mistake as to what was intended by the Geneva Protocol. I must devote attention to this point, because the Leader of the Opposition has stated explicitly that if the Socialist party get into power they will revive the Geneva Protocol. I take the official report on the Protocol to show what the idea was:
Our purpose was to make war impossible, to kill it, to annihilate it. The plan drawn up leaves no loophole. It prohibits wars of every description, and lays down that disputes shall be settled by pacific means.
That is under the League of Nations; but both Russia and the United States are outside the League of Nations. That would mean that if the United States were to try to coerce any South American Republic, Geneva might order us to take sanctions against the United States —they might be economic sanctions or military sanctions—and that would be the position of every nation under the Geneva Protocol. But there was a more insidious idea, that we might have to use coercive methods against a European nation which was declared the aggressor by the League of Nations. They might be economic sanctions or military sanctions, but there could be no doubt whatever that the British Navy would be the weapon employed to carry out the blockade by sea, and this would inevitably raise the whole question of the attitude towards neutral trade with the United States.
No, the Covenant of the League of Nations leaves us freedom of action. In the League of Nations any one nation can dissent from action. But the Geneva Protocol would be a binding thing, and the British Navy would have to take action. Is it any wonder that from that moment, in 1924, suspicion was engendered in America, and that the whole of America began to look upon the British Navy as a possible aggressor? So far from bettering our relations, it was at that point that suspicion in America was started.
These mistakes were committed. In the first place, no attempt to get expert advice was made by the politicians who represented us at Geneva in the discussions on the Geneva Protocol. If they had gone to their war staffs in the first instance, as they had to go to them afterwards, I am perfectly certain they would have been told that what they had done would mean an increase of armaments. Of course, it was said in the Geneva Protocol that disarmament was to come about. That was included in the scheme of the League of Nations; and we have seen the result during the eight years since the Treaty of Versailles was passed! Further, the method adopted under the Protocol was undemocratic, because the people of this country were not to be consulted. If the League of Nations told us to take action, we had to take action. Where is democracy there? Another thing—the whole of the Empire, both the self-governing Dominions and India, opposed the Geneva Protocol, and therefore it tended to disrupt the Empire. As this will be an active subject when the General Election comes, whereas the Anglo-French Pact will not, being dead and gone, we shall rub in at the General Election what has been said on this matter by the supporters of the Opposition. The right hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said:
The Protocol involves risk of war and not the security of peace.
That is this Geneva Protocol, which the Opposition say they will revive if they are returned to power. Then the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Socialist Government, writing in the "Manchester Guardian" on 14th September, 1927, said:
The text of the Protocol seems to me to be a mass of contradictions and of ambiguities in regard to disarmament.
The hon. and gallant Member and his colleagues may rely on it that when we fight at the General Election we shall rub those quotations into the electors.
Mr. L'ESTRANGE MALONE:
I think I can assure the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Commander Bellairs) that we shall have plenty of things to rub into the Conservative Government when the next election comes. I do not intend to follow the general discussions on the Anglo-French Pact, but I wish to refer to two particular matters arising out of those discussions. The hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone referred to the part played by the admirals in those discussions. He said, and I think quite rightly, that admirals ought to advise, but not to lay down the law. The House ought to know more definitely the relations between the fighting services and the Foreign Office in those discussions. I am very sorry that the representative of the Admiralty is not here now, because this more concerns his Department than the Foreign Office.
Thank you. What I should like to know is, who is responsible for running these technical conversations with other Powers? Who originated these conversations with France I Were they originated by the Foreign Office? Did the Foreign Office send a memorandum or a note to the Admiralty instructing the Admiralty staff to get into touch with the French war staff? Was that how it was done? Did the Cabinet consider the question very carefully? Did they consider the desirability of allowing the French to take control of the Mediterranean, and all the other questions which I will discuss in a minute? Did they convene the Committee of Imperial Defence? Did the Committee of Imperial Defence approve this policy, and then instruct the Admiralty to go over to France and to meet the French war staff and discuss these questions, and then formulate its policy. Or, what is probably just as likely, have the Admiralty been conducting these negotiations all the time, and did they instruct the Foreign Office to fall into line after the Admirals at the Admiralty and the Admirals of the French Admiralty had drawn up some sort of agreement? I would like to know whether the Foreign Office have been taking the lead all this time, or have been following the lead of the Admiralty and the other fighting Departments? I, personally, believe that throughout all this year certainly, and probably for many years before, conversations have been going on between the British and the French Admiralties.
I would remind the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs that last April there was a rumour in the French Press. One does not put too much weight on rumours in the French papers, but when a paper of the standing of "Le Temps" publishes anything, there is generally a good deal in it. At the beginning of last May "Le Temps" published an article which suggested that the British naval authorities had arrived at an understanding in respect of the Mediterranean and the Baltic. That was at the beginning of these conversations before there was any suggestion of the Anglo-French Pact. I hope that whoever replies to this Debate will tell us what the instructions to the Admiralty are in all these negotiations, because very much bigger questions are involved.
I believe the decision to arrive at an understanding with the French Admiralty whereby the defence of the Mediterranean would he left to the small French submarines is part of the Singapore policy which was so rightly dropped by the Labour Government. I believe the Anglo-French Pact is a scheme to liberate our capital ships from home waters and Mediterranean waters, in order that they can go out to the Far East and be based on Singapore as a setoff to the American Navy, which can come through the Panama Canal and compete with us in Far Eastern waters. I hope that whoever replies for the Government will tell us the exact position which the War Office staff and the Admiralty have taken up in this Pact with the French Government. This question, and all the discussions which have taken place upon it during the last few months, raise something very much more important and fundamental to the rights of the Members of this House, and that is the democratic control of foreign affairs. We are now right back to the position in which we were before the War.
I think the Members of this House in general, and perhaps the people outside, might very well consider whether the present control of our relations with foreign countries is properly supervised by the position which it occupies in the House of Commons. The time has come for us to consider whether some change is not necessary. In all other important countries in Europe there is some system whereby the Chambers and the different Parliaments are able on a common party basis to obtain some control over foreign relations and foreign affairs. In the United States they have the Foreign Relations Committee, and in France they have the Foreign Affairs and General Politics and Protectorates Committee. I am not sure whether if this question was gone into, with our system of questions to Ministers and our opportunities for moving the Adjournment, we could not evolve a system under which we could have our foreign policy more democratically controlled than in the case of the Parliaments I have enumerated. I think the time has come after these secret negotiations for this House to consider whether our system is the best. We ought to consider whether our Parliamentary system, as it exists to-day, without a Foreign Affairs Committee or a Foreign Relations Committee, is the best method. In any case I think the least we can do is to insist and lay down categorically that no foreign arrangements should be carried out without the approval of this House, and no foreign negotiations should be begun without our approval. No foreign negotiations should be begun without the approval of this House. Members of this House have struggled for years to obtain Parliamentary control over foreign affairs. As long ago as 1886 Mr. Richards moved a resolution stating:
That in the opinion of this House it is not just or expedient to embark in war, or contract engagements involving great responsibility for the nation, without the approval of the House of Commons.
Similar resolutions have been before the House on many other occasions and I think the time has come, in view of these secret arrangements, to assert by resolution of this House that no diplomatic arrangement should be entered into with any foreign State involving, either
directly or indirectly, national obligations without the consent of the House of Commons. No preparation or cooperation between the naval, military and air staffs of this country and the naval, military and air staffs of another country ought to be begun or undertaken in the most simple form between the two staffs without some general instructions from the House of Commons. What you are getting now in this Anglo-French arrangement is a secret arrangement on world-wide questions such as the question of the Mediterranean and Singapore, about which this House has never laid down any general instructions. I think the time has now come for the House of Commons to assert itself on this question.
It is a very good tradition of this country that foreign politics should be kept as far as possible distinct from party questions. It may be within the memory of some hon. Members that it has not always been possible to do that, for example, if we go back to the year 1876 we find that the foreign policy of the Government was then definitely opposed on grounds of principle by the Liberal party. Where the ultimate objects aimed at differ, foreign policy may become a party question. But now there is no clear line of division on the broad question of peace as the object of all of us. We may, if we try, keep our minds free from party prejudice, on the matters now under discussion. I say frankly that my inclination is to go with the party represented by the present Government, but T do not make a fetish of that, and if I find any point of foreign policy upon which I have a good reason for disagreement, I think it is my duty to say so, and it is a fair thing also to the Government of which I claim to be in general a supporter.
Having cleared the ground so far, I wish to speak perfectly frankly on one or two points. In the king's Speech now under consideration there are two things upon which stress was laid. One of them is the Kellogg Pact and the other is the eighth article of the Covenant with regard to disarmament. I hope that, on this question of disarmament we shall always remember the extra terms of that article of the Covenant. Those who entered into it agree to disarmament so far as consistent with national safety in each case.
The other question is the Kellogg Pact. Everyone, I think, rejoiced when that Pact was signed, but there are two or three points to which I should like to call specific attention. That Pact may become a mere expression of pious opinion. Do we mean to implement it by the necessary practical steps, or do we not? The first thing to be noticed is what was said by the Prime Minister a very short time ago, namely, that the most important thing for us at present is to understand the American mentality on these matters. Until we do that we shall go hopelessly wrong. The Prime Minister laid stress on the importance of understanding the American Constitution. Within our memory there was, perhaps, but one man who always ventured to tell the Americans the truth, even when it was unpalatable to them, and that was the man who gave the most complete account of the American Constitution, Lord Bryce. He could always venture to tell them the truth without offending American sentiment, and I do not know that anyone else has been able to do that so well.
There are one or two points with regard to America that we are very much inclined to forget. The first, to which allusion has been made to-day, both on this side of the House and T think opposite, is, cannot we get America into the League? The League can never be thoroughly effective, it cannot be all that it ought to be, unless America comes in. Why did America stand out? I will not say, "I told you so," but, before the end of the War, I remember writing on the question of the establishment of the League of Nations, advocating it as strongly as I could, and pointing out that, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Wilson had been an advocate of the Clauses to which I am going to allude, we knew that the American people would not like it. It was also indicated by Lord Bryce in the House of Lords that it would be dangerous if, in the League, the Nations, in order to prevent war, entered into a Covenant to go to war under conditions which could not be foreseen. That has been confirmed by everything that has taken place since. The Protocol, to which allusion has
already been made, would have made the Clauses of the Covenant worse. There was one Clause even in the Treaty of Locarno, which in other respects we welcomed so heartily, which made the position worse. To clinch the matter by a definite statement by a most distinguished American who knew the facts, I may read one quotation from the "Life and Letters of Walter H. Page," in which he says, speaking of the Covenant of the League of Nations:
Article X was Mr. Wilson's most important contribution to that highly contentious document. This was the Article which pledged the League to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of its members. It was this Article which more than any other made the League obnoxious to Americans, who interpreted it as an attempt to involve them perpetually-in the quarrels of Europe; and it was the one section of the Treaty of Versailles which was most responsible for the rejection of that document by the United States Senate.
What was foreseen even before the League, of Nations came into being was borne out by that, statement. We cannot expect America to join the League without getting rid of those fatal Clauses X a and XVI, which might involve us or them in war for reasons of which we disapprove. It is, perhaps, not desirable to give possible cases, but let us take one that is far off, and will not cause offence. Suppose that Chile went to war with Bolivia. One may be regarded as an aggressor, though grievously provoked. Are we, under the League Covenant, to be called on to interfere? The Americans would probably not stand by if we sent out a fleet in order to carry Gut our obligations under those fatal Clauses. Let us, therefore, appreciate the American position, and let, it be our policy to get rid of those Clauses as soon as we possibly can, without breaking through engagements into which we have entered, and which can only be got rid of by general consent.
There is another point with regard to the American position, and it is a very important, practical one at the present moment. Dr. Morrison, the author of a very effective work on "The Outlawry of War," in favour of the Kellogg Pact—it had a wide circulation in America, and I hope it may have also a wide circulation here—points out that, if we are going to have peace in the world, by agreement or in any other way, if we are going to abolish war, we must have an effective substitute for war in duly constituted courts and tribunals. That is an absolutely vital point, and I am bound to say that we have seen signs that, even when treaties of peace have provided for the determination by a. tribunal of questions in dispute, all parties in the League, even neutral parties, have not shown any very great earnestness to see that these tribunals are functioning properly. Cases have arisen which might become a source of unrest and produce some of the worst possible results in Eastern Europe. I think it would be most injurious at the present moment to say one word with regard to the most prominent of those disputes, and I am not even going to mention it, but it has been a bone of contention for years. We hear that there is the possibility that the parties to it may come together, and that something may be done which will take a great weight off the minds of those who would wish to see justice done, but to see it done by peaceful means.
There are other cases in which there is a risk that tribunals will not function owing to reluctance to put pressure on the parties to see that they shall function, and I do beg that the Government will always take into consideration, as one of the most important things which is absolutely essential if we are to get rid of war, that all tribunals shall be so constituted that the action of neither party in a dispute may prevent a proper judicial decision on every kind of dispute which arises. These disputes must occur, but do let us have in all cases a tribunal, either in the form of a mixed arbitral tribunal established under treaty or a proper court at The Hague to which these questions should go at once. If they are dealt with in that way, and a judicial decision is obtained, I believe there is no case on record in which where a definite judicial decision has been given that decision has not been carried out. In the "Alabama" case, we fully carried out the award though most of us who read that decision carefully, thought it unjust. Again and again people will be only too glad, even if they think that someone is taking an unfair advantage of them, to have the matter settled by any person or tribunal to whom the dispute can be referred. Most of us do not like to go to law and still less resort to fisticuffs if we can possibly avoid it. If anyone will give a decision, right or wrong, and we can with a decent face accept it, we shall be only too glad.
Now, after dealing with those two points, yet me say one or two words in regard to the question of the Pact. Here I deprecate very much any attempt to make use of the negotiations that took place with regard to that Pact for the purpose of trying to make out that we have done something that is offensive to other countries and disregard their rights. I defy anyone judicially to read through Lord Cushendun's last note on the point without feeling that, whether they made mistakes or not, one thing was perfectly clear from beginning to end, that our Government, along with the French Government, having found out what the points of difference were said: "We will try whether we can do something, by a quiet talk with ourselves to get over the difficulties and submit to the other the result of our talk." They talked it over, and reading what Lord Cushendun's note is after what we have heard to-day, can anyone say that was not a fair and honest, I would even say eager, attempt to bring about a settlement by agreement?
But there are one or two things in the terms suggested which give very grave ground for consideration. First and foremost is that which was pointed out by the United States as open to the gravest objection. We have the American official note, which is courteously expressed, and does not show any sign of pique or annoyance. It is dated 28th September, 1928. There is no complaint about the mode of procedure, but they put their finger on what, to my mind, is a fatal defect in the suggested Pact which gives reason for rejoicing that we have heard the last of it. It has been stated here to-day that the suggested arrangement has gone. It was so stated before, by Lord Salisbury in another place. I do not think we can do better than sec what the American position is. The paragraph is so vitally important, and expresses the feeling of so many people in this country
and in other countries, as well as in the United States, that I should like to read it:
Much of what has been said above as to vessels in Class 3 of the Anglo-French agreement"—
I do not like that word "agreement,"
applies with equal or greater force to Class 4.
[Interruption.] These documents are drawn up by very distinguished people. They do not always speak with that strict accuracy which characterises the English lawyer.
The American Government cannot accept as a distinct class of submarines those of over 600 tons, leaving unlimited all submarines of 600 tons or under. 600-ton submarines are formidable combatant vessels. They carry the sonic torpedoes as are carried by larger submarines and of equal destructive force within the radius of their operation. They can also be armed with guns of 5-inch calibre. The United States would gladly, in conjunction with all the nations of the world, abolish the submarine altogether. If, however, submarines must be continued instruments of naval warfare, it is the belief of the American Government that they should be limited to a reasonable tonnage or number.
It is said that the suggestion of unlimited submarines contained in these "prior communings" does no harm. It is perfectly true that at present, as far as specific limitation is concerned, any nation may build any number of submarines, but the moment you say by agreement that you may build as many as you like, that makes it impossible to complain on general grounds. Of all cases for the limitation of armaments, the most important, not only from our point of view but from that of many other nations also, is the abolition of the submarine. Everyone who had to do with the question of our food supplies during the War was convinced that in a very short time the whole of our country might soon have been starving through submarine activity. Our excellent intelligence service and the fact that the bases from which German submarines could start were so limited, helped to save us. Supposing instead of having Cuxhaven and perhaps one or two places near the Elbe as the only ports out of which submarines could go, there had been an almost unlimited number of bases, say, in the Mediterranean, or in the Atlantic, and that unlimited power had been given of building submarines, would any ship
of ours, having passed through the Straits of Gibraltar to the East, have completed its voyage?
To say you may have as many submarines as you like seems a most fatal policy. The submarine is a mode of warfare which is peculiarly open to inhumane action. The submarine cannot take a ship which is suspected of carrying contraband into port. A small submarine is worse than a big one. Our policy ought to be to agree with the United States that submarines ought to be abolished. They are not wanted by us to keep our Empire together. They are not wanted by France to take troops or civilians across to Algiers or Tunis. They are only wanted to starve those countries which are dependent for their supplies on overseas. Let us make it clear that our policy, like that of the United States, is to get rid of them. It is not an impossible one. In a good many cases it is very difficult to see how you can enforce your regulations against armaments. That is not so with submarines. You cannot build a submarine in a day, still less can you train the crew in a day, and if we could once get agreement with all the nations that submarines should be abolished, we should take a vast step forward, not merely in preventing war, but also in doing what is almost, though not quite so important, putting an end to that enormous burden of expense on armaments which is crushing the countries of Europe.
I should like to say one or two words about another question which, I think, has been rather unfairly dealt with. The Prime Minister referred to the case of the reserve forces in France. I think a citizen army of trained people in that sense of an army may be one of the greatest instruments of peace possible for any country. There is one country which in the midst of many enemies and all sorts of contending forces, a country —although weak in some senses—whose territory has never been violated. That is Switzerland. All through the War they preserved a strict neutrality. The Swiss helped our people who were in difficulties from time to time, and if anybody crossed the Swiss frontier they felt absolutely secure. The Swiss people held themselves together by this. Although they are different in race and in religion, they form one country, and every man in that country knows that he will go each summer to exercise and make himself fit, if need be, to defend his country. The result is, that Switzerland has been at peace ever since the days of the Napoleonic wars. Apply that to the other countries. All questions of agreement on this matter are sacred.
What you want to get in all the nations of the world above everything else is that they shall begin by loving their own country intensely. The best example is the man who loves his native country best. An enormous amount of good is being done by certain steps which are indicated in regard to a subject with which I have had to devote a considerable portion of my life. That is, that our boys and girls from the schools and the universities, and ourselves too, should be able to go into foreign countries, not to live at expensive hotels, but to see the people, the children, the peasants, the innkeepers. I must confess that I have learned most from children and from the poorer peasants about their native lands. We should get the spirit of understanding foreign nations inculcated into the minds of our young people in the schools not by mere teaching, but by letting thorn see what is abroad. As soon as our people learn to understand the point of view of others, from having seen them and having known them, we shall have, not merely a peace on paper, hut a peace which exists in the hearts of our country and of other countries.
I want to say a word or two on one aspect of this Debate. It is the question of the continued occupation of the Rhineland. I have been disappointed with the attitude of the Foreign Office in many respects, and I have been more disappointed by the way in which they have allowed themselves to be led by France in this matter of the continuance of the Rhineland occupation than I have been over anything else. The continuance of our troops on German territory at the present time constitutes a real blot upon our diplomacy. The House of Commons does not really realise what a tremendous irritation that continued occupation is. The Germany with which we are dealing now is not the Germany with whom we made peace. It is not the defeated and broken Germany against whom we had very bitter feelings. The Germany of to-day is a great friendly power. The Germany of to-day is a member of the League of Nations. She is a partner with us in the Locarno Treaty, and she is a fellow signatory with us of the Kellogg Pact. Thus, there is further reason why we should treat Germany as a friendly, equal partner in the comity of Nations.
What are we doing by means of this Rhineland occupation? We have had our troops there for 10 years after the War has ended. What do these troops do? It is well that the British public should understand this, because then they will appreciate the irritation which they would feel if they were put into the same position in which the German people are to-day. The foreign troops on German soil carry out elaborate manoeuvres jointly, and in all these cases the theoretical enemy of the allied troops is the German nation. They arrest, they imprison and they banish German citizens. They forbid, as we have heard recently, the playing of ordinary German music and the German National Anthem on German soil. They interfere to a very marked degree with the liberty of the Press in Germany, and, what is more, they actually hold up the natural development of the country as far as the construction of railway lines and railway stations is concerned. They occupy houses which Germany badly needs for her own people. There is an acute housing shortage in Germany just as there is in this country, and yet the allied troops are occupying German rooms, German houses, German hotels and German barracks, and are thereby accentuating in the occupied territories very considerably the housing shortage. In submitting to things like this the German people are bound to feel intense irritation, and that irritation becomes almost unbearable when they realise that at the present time there is no legal justification for the continuance of the occupation.
This occupation is governed by two Clauses of the Treaty of Peace—Clause 429 and Clause 431. Clause 429 provides that the troops shall be withdrawn in three stages if the conditions of the Treaty are faithfully carried out. The first stage came in 1925. After a good deal of argument, the troops were withdrawn from the first zone. The next stage is to come in 1930, and the final stage in 1935. That is according to Clause 429. There is another Clause in the Treaty, Clause 431, which says, in clear specific language, that if before the 15 years have expired Germany complies with all the undertakings resulting from the Treaty, the occupying force will be withdrawn immediately. There is a difference in language, as the House will note. In one case reference is made to the "faithful carrying out of conditions," and in the other case to "complying with all the undertakings resulting from the Treaty." As I understand it, the French Government and the French Foreign Office, to the British Foreign Office appears to have become subsidiary, bases its refusal to withdraw troops at the present time upon Clause 429, and ignores the existence of Clause 431.
I confess that you have raised a new point. I have not consulted very carefully the words of the Amendment but I have been in the House for a considerable time, and I have certainly heard references to the Rhineland occupation. It has been discussed at considerable length by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and other speakers, even by the Primo Minister. With such very respectable precedents quoted, I hope you will not insist upon your point of Order.
I suggest that they have reference to the Government's policy as being a serious departure from the spirit and purpose of the League of Nations, and
contrary to the spirit both of the Treaty of Versailles and of the Locarno Treaties.
I think that if I base myself upon the spirit of the Treaty of Versailles I shall
be on fairly solid foundations. I was about to explain that the French base their attitude upon Clause 429 and ignore Clause 431. That Clause would not have been put into the Treaty unless it was intended to have some significance. In order that it should not be overlooked and that its meaning should not be confused, President Wilson, Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau went to the trouble, in June, 1919, to make a declaration regarding the meaning of Clause 431. According to that declaration, the allied and associated Powers did not insist on making the period of occupation last until the reparation Clauses were completely executed, because they assumed that Germany would be obliged to give every proof of her good will and every necessary guarantee before the end of the 15 years.
I submit that, as far as is humanly possible, Germany has given every proof of her good will, and every proof of her intention loyally to carry out the terms of the Treaty. The declaration to which I have referred deals specifically with Article 431 of the Treaty, and goes on to say, in order to make its meaning crystal clear:
If Germany at an earlier date has given proofs of her good will, and satisfactory guarantees of her intention to fulfil all her obligations, the Allied and Associated Powers concerned will be ready to come to agreement between themselves for the earlier termination of occupation.
That declaration is signed by President Wilson, Mr. Lloyd George and M. Clemenceau. It does seem to me that on that declaration and on that Clause of the Treaty, Germany is legitimately entitled to say that she has a case for the immediate evacuation of the Rhineland. If we are not going to stand by that Clause and that declaration we are doing exactly the kind of thing which we have been reprobating in other people —we are making of this Treaty of Versailles a scrap of paper. Our Foreign Office ought to have the courage of its convictions. We have heard from the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister that they would like to see the evacuation of the Rhineland carried out immediately, and the only reason why they are withholding their hand is because the French are not prepared to agree to that.
The attitude which the Foreign Office take up is, that if the French will not withdraw their troops it will be very hazardous for us to withdraw our troops. I think the Prime Minister said to-day that if we were to withdraw our troops and the French did not withdraw their troops, the position would be even worse than it is at the present time. I do not know what proof he has of that. There was a time about 18 months ago when the German view was that they would rather have the full occupation continued than have our troops withdrawn and the French troops remain. As I understand it now, Germany as a whole, if she cannot have both the French and British troops withdrawn, would prefer to have the British troops withdrawn. In these circumstances it seems to me that every consideration of British honour—I suppose we still want to think that British honour ranks for something in the world—every consideration of justice to Germany, justice as set forth in the written word of the Treaty of Versailles, and every consideration which should lead us to want to pacify Europe at the earliest possible moment, ought to make our Foreign Office, with or without the approval and consent of the French Government, to withdraw our troops from the Rhineland, immediately.
I do not wish to endeavour in any way to answer the last speaker, because I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will do that very admirably; but I do feel inclined to ponder why the Amendment was introduced by the Liberal party. It is one of three things, it is either a marked tribute to the record of the Government during the past four years, or it shows that the Gracious Speech has been framed with great skill and adroitness, or it shows total adequacy and lack of ingenuity on the part of the Opposition that they could not find any horse to flog other than a dead one. The horse is dead; the Liberal party knew it was dead before they framed their Amendment. The Prime Minister gave the finishing touch to it this afternoon. Apart from the fact that the Debate has afforded an opportunity for the expression of many pious aspirations on the part of Liberals and Socialists, the Debate has served no useful purpose, except one. It has given us one of the most powerful, sincere and eloquent speeches the Prime Minister has ever made in this House.
I do not pretend to be sorry that the Pact is dead. It might have given birth to some really constructive proposals but it has aroused so much suspicion, through the misrepresentations of the Liberal and Labour parties as well as in the Press, that it is better the Pact is dead rather than that any suspicion should continue to exist. At the same time I feel that I must acknowledge and admire the genuine spirit and motives which have actuated the Foreign Office in their handling of this question mid their conduct of the whole field of foreign policy. They have pursued the genuine sound and sober policy initiated by the Foreign Secretary of endeavouring to remove every obstacle to peace, preserve the peace of Europe and develop to the greatest extent the wellbeing of the world. But there is one difficulty to that great scheme, to that great effort, and that is the general feeling of suspicion. To my mind, although the Prime Minister assured us that there is peace, we have only to look around to find that while there is surface peace there is underneath the surface peace of Europe a general feeling of danger. France still fears the recrudescence of Germany, and Germany, possibly by reason of her crimes, feels the animosity of the world. Italy and Yugo Slavia watch each other like terriers.
Wherever we look we see fear and suspicion. Hungary is sighing for her past power to win back the rights of her nationals so meanly filched from her by Rumania. Austria reminds me of the monkey in the great picture Chang, "Will no one help poor Bingo." I may be wrong, I hope I am, but I have travelled and I feel that there is, a certain subterranean unconscious feeling on the part of the peoples of Europe and the only way it can be driven back is by reducing armaments. You must get the spirit for peace which the Prime Minister has advocated, that is essential, and reduce armaments afterwards. It is the strongly armed nation which is a danger to the world. The weakly armed nation does not want war. It is the strongly armed nation which wants war, and if we could get the spirit we could reduce armaments afterwards. Arbitra- tion is no doubt very good, and is a suitable means of bringing about a settlement of Europe.
I hazard a suggestion; it may be a crude proposal and subject to all sorts of criticisms and objections, but in spite of that I feel that it offers a basis of consideration. The difficulty is that the League of Nations has not got sufficient power. I do not mean armed power. I do not believe in that; but I think it should be equipped with moral powers far greater than those given in Article 8. I would give the League of Nations sufficient powers and let them lay down a certain number of years in which general disarmament should take place. They could lay down 10 years, 50 years, or 100 years. Let us say that they made it 10 years. The League of Nations would then say to every country who subscribed to the Covenant of the League: Every country will disarm by 10 per cent. each year; and that that 10 per cent. will be continued until the ninth year. By that time every country will have disarmed by 90 per cent. There are always marauders on the sea and on land who own no allegiance to any country and obey no laws. People must be protected from them. There are still places in the earth with disgruntled and barbarous people which must be policed, but immediately you reduce armaments by 90 per cent. you immediately destroy the desire for war; you have created not only the spirit but the inability of the nations to wage war.
It may be asked, how is a law like this to be enforced and the delinquent nation adequately dealt with? I admit that it is a drastic proposal, but everything to stop war must be drastic, and if a delinquent nation does not carry out the Covenant of the League it should be ostracised, isolated and treated as a pariah amongst the nations of the world. The right hon. Member for West Swansea (Mr. Runciman) being a financier will probably say that this is impossible. I am not a, financier, but I would say, isolate any such nation, stop all financial transactions with her, stop all trains entering her territory and all ships going to her port, stop her letters, and everything that makes for the amenities of life, and you would immediately have the people of that nation saying that the League of Nations Covenant must be observed.
I throw it out as a suggestion. It may be idealistic, but I think it is a practical proposal if only the countries of the world would join together and say that it is a policy worth considering. In spite of all its imperfections, I think we should do well to consider any proposal which would in any way give a stimulus towards peace throughout the world.
The hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down has thrown out some rather interesting suggestions, but I am not inclined to believe that a policy of trying to force nations to conform to some particular ratio or standard is likely to meet with any success. He has described the condition of Europe, and told us how France and Germany and Italy and Czechoslovakia were behaving towards one another. I believe we have got to alter our language in this matter. We are always talking about nations as Governments or as pawns in a game, but we must visualise great masses of people in a nation who do not see as their Governments do on this matter. Until we realise that the great majority of these vast populations want to see an end put to war, we shall not meet with any success in dealing with this problem internationally.
I have felt some small reluctance in supporting this Amendment, not because of its terms, for I am in hearty agreement with them, but because the right hon. Gentleman who moved it and who is not now in his place—he sometimes stands in his place but very seldom sits in it—is, I think; almost the last Member in this House who is justified in censuring the Government on this occasion. Not only was he, as the Prime Minister has reminded us, the author of the Treaty of Versailles, out of which has sprung nine-tenths of the conflicts, jealousies, and suspicions existing to-day, but he was a member of the Government which was in power in 1914. Yet he comes down and taunts this Government with making secret arrangements with France! Why, it was the secret arrangement with France that was denied by that Government before 1914 that was the prime cause of the European War. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is the right person to censure the Government on this occasion, but with the terms of the Amendment that his party has put down I agree in their entirety.
When the Foreign Secretary—for whose absence I am sorry, and I am very glad to hear he is on the road to recovery—referred in July to this arrangement with France, the phrase he used, and which was quoted by the Prime Minister, was so perfunctory that it never occurred to anybody to pin him down to giving further information. We all of us thought that something would immediately be published which we could see. A great deal has been said about this being a matter upon which other Governments were not informed, but what I am concerned about is why the people of this country were not informed. I think they are still very much mystified as to what took place. The Prime Minister has made a very interesting speech and he has been making several speeches with the themes of which all of us heartily agree. He has a silver tongue—like the tongue of a bell, but that bell, which is his Government, is cracked. The bell does not respond to its tongue, and it does not ring true, that is the trouble. It is all very well having the Prime Minister holding forth and saying these admirable things, hut when they are not carried further you find it takes away from his authority not only in this country but in other countries.
The Prime Minister said this at the Albert Hall:
You want the will to peace, and a permanent peace, and not only the machinery but the heart and mind and soul.
I am sure, so far as he is concerned, that is absolutely genuine, but let us think about the Government. I do not know about their will, and I know nothing about their heart. I am very doubtful about their mind, but what I am certain about is their actions. I want in the few minutes at my disposal just to survey their record on this question of disarmament, because now we have celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Armistice and the people of this country and of other countries are beginning to ask what is being done with regard to disarmament and peace. Ten years ago the Covenant of the League of Nations
was put as part and parcel of the Treaty of Versailles. That was the only part of it that had any real use and hope, but the subsequent attempts that have been made to implement the Covenant have been a proof that the signatories of the Treaty regarded it as a very shadowy safeguard against future war.
Soon after that we had the Treaty of Mutual Assistance which fell to the ground. Then came the Protocol, with the idea of pooled security, which was supported by the Labour Government in 1924. Then the Conservative Government began their term of office, and the wet blanketing of proposals for peace and disarmament has been carried on from that time by His Majesty's Government with extraordinary persistence. They have become the great wet blanket in Europe for attempts at peace and disarmament. First of all the Protocol, then came in 1925, and repeated in 1927 and 1928, attempts at all-in arbitration which were always turned down by the Foreign Secretary or by Lord Cushendun. In the Washington Conference some slight advance was made. As I shall try to show a little later on, I did not believe any advance in that direction was likely to lead to the end we have in view. Locarno followed, and we all had very high hopes. I cannot say I ever indulged in those hopes as much as other people, because I thought the responsibilities we had undertaken in the Locarno Treaty were very heavy, and I did not consider it was the right way by a partial agreement to come to any sort of universal decision on disarmament. But the spirit of Locarno, that was so much boasted of, has already rather disappeared owing to subsequent events. After the frontier between France and Germany has been permanently guaranteed by us, we find ourselves three years afterwards still with French and British troops in the Rhineland.
Then came the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament, and that has, I think, served to show very clearly that it is impossible for the representatives of Powers, especially if they be experts, to sit round a table and find a formula which would be applicable to all nations in all conditions, situated in very different geographical conditions and with entirely different responsibilities. They may go on sitting and be a Preparatory Commission till the Blue Moon, but they will never come to a decision. At any rate, during their sitting, there came the Soviet proposal for disarmament. The wet blanket came down again, and those proposals were laughed out of court. The Soviet Government had thought that it was a conference of Powers to talk about disarmament, and they made a suggestion which, however grotesque it may seem to some people, I believe they were perfectly sincere in, but it was laughed out of court and the chief wet blanketer at that time was Lord Cushendun. Then came the Three-Power Conference. I do not want to attribute more blame to His Majesty's Government than to the United States, for the failure of that Conference. I only ask, does any sane man really suppose that if we had 6-inch guns instead of 8-inch. we should be any nearer to permanent peace? It is folly to undertake these conferences with experts under the fond supposition that you are getting a solution of the problem, when you are only entangling yourself in intricate and very interesting arguments about different categories of armament.
Next came the Kellogg Pact. That Pact was foreshadowed for some months before, because it originated in M. Briand's suggestion, and was evolved by Mr. Kellogg and eventuated at last in an agreement. By this time His Majesty's Government began to think that their share in peace and disarmament was not a very creditable one. While they had been very ready to damp down everyone else's proposals, they thought they ought to get busy and do something themselves. So they got into a corner with France and produced this present trouble. It really has been rather interesting to hear the Prime Minister and other speakers on the Government side deprecate the idea that the Opposition should make so much out of this. It is the Government's own doing from start to finish. Because of the extraordinarily clumsy way in which they have handled this matter, they must have known that an arrangement and conversation and agreement of this sort must leak out sooner or later. One of the most discreditable things in this House is the deliberate way in which they have persistently avoided explaining why it was that they never told the other Governments anything about the French reserves. They tried to delude us, in an answer to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and they never suggested that this was part of the bargain.
I believe that the First Lord of the Admiralty is to reply to the discussion to-night. I should like to ask him one or two questions. This is really rather a serious moment. The Government are nearing the time when they have to secure the verdict of the electors at the poll. They have been very unfortunate in this matter, because it has shown them up to the country as not only inept, but as actually capable of making arrangements which would estrange Great Britain in the opinion of her age-long ally, the United States. It has been said by Lord Cushendun that this agreement has not given the cause of disarmament a very large fillip. I disagree with him. I think it has given the cause of disarmament a very large fillip, but in the wrong direction. It has really stopped the efforts that were being made, and has made the people of the world very suspicious that we are not sincere in what we are doing.
The Kellogg Pact was signed with a great flourish of trumpets, but with reservations by His Majesty's Government. These reservations are simply the opinion of His Majesty's present advisers, and they are not the least binding on any other Government. One reservation was an enunciation of a pew doctrine that is a British Monroe doctrine. We cannot here discuss the American Monroe doctrine, but it is something entirely new that there should be a British Monroe doctrine. M. Broukère, the Belgian, said:
There would appear to be no part of the habitable globe, outside the Americans, that is not menaced with British protection.
That sums it up. I have not heard the Foreign Secretary say what is the precise extent of the British Monroe doctrine. The other reservation was the reservation that we should have the inalienable right to fight an aggressor, to defend ourselves against an aggressor In all the wars that have been waged during the last 100 years—here I am sure I shall carry hon. Members opposite with
me—we have never been the aggressors. Therefore it is quite easy for as to sign this Kellogg Agreement. We have never been the aggressors; other people nave menaced us and we live in constant fear of other nations. The Admiralty view is that any nation that has a navy is a possible menace to the Empire, and that therefore we must arm. But every other country says precisely the same thing. No other country has been the aggressor. Therefore I want to know what the precise implications of the Kellogg Pact are.
I believe that the First Lord of the Admiralty said in a speech that we were very glad to sign the Kellogg Pact. The right hon. Gentleman is in a very special position. I do not believe that we in this country are going to make very much progress on this question of disarmament in this generation, so long as we here and the country outside are dominated by the Services—the Navy, the Army and the Air. It is quite well known that the Board of Admiralty, for instance, when they are talking about their political chief, to whatever party he may belong, simply stamp and shout with laughter. So do the Army Council and the Air Force. That is well known. They know that their political chiefs are simply puppets of putty in their hands. I believe the only execution they would admit was Lord Haldane at the War Office about 15 years ago. [HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] Hon. Members opposite know that I am saying what is perfectly true. They know the attitude of the Services to their political chiefs. It is just a huge joke. [HON. MEMBERS "In your time!"] I do not care to what party the political chief belongs. I say that the Services have the whip hand, and, as long as that system continues, you are not going to have much change as regards disarmament. They are going to see that their experts are not only called to these councils but that they have the deciding voice on these matters and on these preparatory commissions. They are going to take care that their view is put forward and that the political chief for the moment just voices their opinion. Until we have these Services put in a subordinate position under every Government, we are not going to see any change as regards disarmament.
I want to ask the First Lord precisely what he thought we had done by signing the Kellogg Pact. I want to ask him whether it was simply a denunciation of war, or whether he can visualise anything which really meant a renunciation of war by us. I want to know if he can give us an instance of any war, in which we should now feel restrained from participating, because of signing the Kellogg Pact; or whether he is still of opinion, like the Foreign Secretary, that we have never viewed war as an instrument of national policy, that, therefore, we can go on just as we always have done and that the Kellogg Pact is, so far as we are concerned, merely a pious opinion because we are only keeping our Navy, Army and Air Force, our submarines, our gas, our bombs and our tanks for defence. If the right hon. Gentleman really thinks so, it would he interesting to know from him what we have done in the way of renunciation in signing the Kellogg Pact.
In the day when we were urging the Foreign Secretary to sign the Pact I said that the test of his sincerity would he what would follow. We have seen nothing to encourage us since it was signed and I want to know what the First Lord thinks is going to be done in the near future in order to demonstrate that we are earnest and sincere in signing that Pact, and that we are going to renounce something by way of showing that our signature was genuine. If it is mere words I think the people will get a little impatient and then I think the people are likely to show their impatience in a few months time. I do not think, if we look back on these ten years, we can find that this Government has brought any concrete proposals, any inventive power, any initiative, any encouragement, to this question of world disarmament. They have been critical. They have damped down others and their only contribution, this late abortive agreement with France, has led to very disastrous results. Finally, I would say to the Government, in a now famous sentence, used by the Prime Minister in the conclusion of his letter accepting Lord Birkenhead's resignation—altering only the name of the office:
It is too early yet to estimate the value of your work at the Foreign Office, but I
am confident that the historians of our time will do it justice.
Anyhow, in the course of his remarks, the hon. Member took it upon himself to describe the entente which existed between this country and France in those years during which he was himself a member of the Government and derived such advantage, from it, as being the primary cause of the War.
The hon. Member then was a supporter of what he describes now as being the prime cause of the War. I am going to say that criticism of that kind comes very ill, and with scarcely any appearance of sincerity, from one who, whatever his position before the War, was at any rate, after the War, a member of a Government which presented military estimates exceeding those of their predecessors and started a dew naval race in building cruisers. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members may object but those are not my words. Those are the words of the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Benn). I leave hon. Members to arrange their dispute between themselves, and I turn for a moment to the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Lieut.-Colonel Moore) who began a very interesting speech by suggesting three or four reasons why we put this Amendment on the Paper. None of those reasons was right and I am going to ask the First Lord, when he comes to reply, to deal with the real reason. In spite of what has just been said, the real object of this Debate is not to discuss the Kellogg Pact but to discuss the so-called naval "pact," or, if you like, the recent naval conversations with France.
Before dealing with that matter, I must recall some observations made by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has followed the lead of the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Colonel Howard Bury), who a few days ago attributed all the trouble, not to the Government, not to the acting Foreign Secretary, not even to the Foreign Office, but to Members of the Opposition writing and speaking, without any responsibility, and, as he said, stirring up trouble in Europe. To-day the Prime Minister has gone a step further, and he has made an attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) in respect of statements which he is said to have written, but if it is wrong for a Member, whether he be a leader or a back bencher, in an Opposition party, without direct responsibility, to criticise a foreign country, then it is equally wrong for the supporters of the Government in this House to do as the hon. Member for the Ayr Burghs did just now— he drew attention to what he said were causes of friction in Europe—and equally wrong for members of the Government on those benches, by their speeches in the country, to queer our relations with Russia. The two things are on exactly the same plane.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister also drew a comparison between his own performances and those of the Leader of the Opposition and of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs in so far as they were successful in providing friendly relations with France. I am the last person in the world to detract from the credit due to the Leader of the Opposition for the relations he maintained with France, which were admirable, but when the Prime Minister takes credit to himself, I think it is within the recollection of everybody in this House that there were other members of the Coalition Government, who were members of the party opposite, and who did riot get on very well with France. Let me remind the First Lord of the Admiralty, in the absence of the Prime Minister, that one of the qualities that make the Prime Minister acceptable to the masses of the people of this country—personally acceptable, not politically—is his interest in our national sports. He is a great follower of the game of cricket, and he knows that when you compare the scores made by two men, you ought to have some regard to the bowling they have to bat against. The Leader of the Opposition will not deny that dealing with the Prime Minister of France who was in power in the Coalition days and dealing with the Prime Minister who was in power in 1924 were two very different things, and when you had to deal with M. Herriot it was a very different thing from dealing with M. Poinearé; but if it is contended that those who, by their spoken or written words, may have aroused suspicion in foreign countries, it seems to me that it is still more the fault of the Government which was responsible and whose actions gave rise to those very suspicions.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is not true that the method adopted by the Government on this question has not itself given rise to suspicions as to their motives. The Prime Minister took great pains to say that all these suspicions were unfounded, as did the Government representative in another place the other day. I accept the statement that there was no intention of having any partial pact or any movement as against the United States, but those suspicions did exist, and the words of Lord Cushendun himself in the House of Lords give substance to the accusations I am making. He said that all the mischievous things that were said would have been quite as compatible with the actual text of the compromise as they were with the mere announcement that a compromise had been arrived at. I agree that when you saw the terms of the compromise arrived at there was every reason for suspicion being aroused in America and in Italy.
We may be asked why suspicion should be aroused at all, and perhaps, although just a, Back Bench Member, for once I may be given the privilege of Front Bench Members and be allowed to refer to a previous speech of my own. At the end of last Session, when we were debating the Kellogg Pact, I drew attention to a matter which has been the subject of discussion to-day, namely, the reservations made by the Foreign Secretary in giving his adherence to that Pact, and I used the phrase that it was these reservations that might be the rock on which the Pact would founder—the reservations with regard to areas of the world which were the particular concern of this country. May I say, in passing, that the difference between the American Monroe doctrine and what has been called the new British Monroe doctrine is very simple. When you talk about the American Monroe doctrine, everybody knows exactly what you are talking about. [Laughter.] I am sorry if hon. Members opposite do not, as it has been laid down in perfectly simple language, and you know exactly to what, areas of the world that doctrine applies; but there has not been one word—and this was the particular criticism which I levelled against the Foreign Secretary on 30th July—to tell us what areas of the world are included in the reservations to the Kellogg Pact, and the accusation which could be levelled against our Government for their treatment of that Pact in regard to reservations is that they were putting into what was to be a multilateral Pact between six great Powers reservations which concerned only their own partial interest.
At the conclusion of that Debate on the 30th July, the last question that I put to the Foreign Secretary was as to what was going to he done in the way of disarmament as a result of the Kellogg Pact, and in particular what was the position with regard to the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament. The right hon. Gentleman, in his reply, said there had been naval conversations with France, and he used the phrase that those conversations had been successful as between ourselves and France. Exactly the same phrase was used the other day in another place by Lord Cushendun, who said that those negotiations as between ourselves and France had been successful. Of course negotiations between ourselves and France would always be successful if they only had concern for British and French interests. Our criticism of the handling of this matter is that, just as in the case of the Kellogg Pact we gave rise to suspicions in the United States that we were reserving some matters which concerned merely ourselves, so in the case of these naval conversations, suspicions have been aroused, because, in the compromise arrived at, it is perfectly clear that British and French interests have been considered to the exclusion of American interests.
The Prime Minister this afternoon assured the House and the country that there was no intention of getting at the United States at all, and Lord Cushendun said the same thing in his defence in the House of Lords. I am sure that everybody—certainly I do—acquits the Prime Minister and the Government of any such intention. He may ask, therefore, why this Amendment is moved and what the complaint is. The complaint was interpreted in another place by the Government representative by the word "imbecile." I will not use a word like that, but our complaint and our criticism of the Government is that they have erred in this matter because they do not approach these questions, which deal with the problems of peace and disarmament, in the only way in which they can be approached with any hope of success. Whatever may have been the reason in the pre-war period—it may have been an honest belief in the necessity for defence —which led people to look at these international matters from the point of view of one, two, three or more countries, who might conceive that they had interests in common, that method is fatal now. It is fatal to the hope of peace if we look at these questions from the point of view of one, two or three nations, and not always from the point of view of all nations.
At the very moment, on the 30th July last, when the Foreign Secretary was telling the House that the naval conversations between ourselves and France had been brought to a successful issue, he had sent a dispatch to our representative in Washington containing an outline of the arrangement, which had then the same germ of failure as was contained in his handling of the Kellogg Pact, that is to say, we and France in discussing these matters have been blind to what would be the obvious criticism and the obvious needs of the United States. The reply which the American Government made to our Government contained what ought to have been obvious, and our criticism of the Government is not of their intentions or of their good faith in the desire to reach a peaceful conclusion and to proceed with disarmament; it is a criticism that they did not approach these matters—it is not for me to say that they did not approach them with intelligence, but it is for me to say that they did not approach them looking at them from an all-round point of view.
Let me give the Prime Minister another instance. There has been some criticism of the fact that there was what is called a certain amount of secrecy, and that the results of these conversations were not published. When Lord Cushenden replied to that criticism in the House of Lords, he said that he thought it was wiser not to issue a denial in the Press of certain statements that had appeared in the French Press, because he hoped that these things would be forgotten and pass away. He goes on to say that he was disappointed in that, but only about three months before the Noble Lord had said that, when these statements appeared in the French Press, it was not unnatural that a sort of misgiving was caused in Germany.
Our contention is that it is essential that, in all these discussions with regard to international relationships, the state of mind and the attitude of mind of the representative of this country should be as expressed in the last few words of our Amendment, namely, that he should approach the matter, not having in view the affairs of one country or another, or the mentality that existed in international relationships before the War, but always the basis which is contained in the Covenant of the League of Nations. I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can tell the House whether this is finished, because the Prime Minister this afternoon said that it was, that we have failed, that we are sorry we have failed, but that it is done with. Lord Cushendun said the same thing; but it is not done with, and nobody really believes that we are in the same position now as we were before the conversations began. I say again, as I suggested at the end of last Session, that in international relations, whatever you do counts; either you go forward or you go backward, and there is no doubt that the failure of these conversations has given a set-back to the cause of disarmament. What is the Government going to do next? We put that question in the Debate on the Kellogg Pact, and we were told that these conversations were the next step. We want an assurance from the Government that, when this matter is taken up again, it will be taken up with the determination that no steps shall be taken that can give offence to any one of the great Powers concerned, and that we will look at these matters, not from the point of view of ourselves or any other one or two countries, but from the point of view of peace itself, and of the interests of all the nations which can possibly be considered.
Before taking what part I hope to take from the naval point of view in the general Debate, I ought, in view of the very courteous way in which the Leader of the Opposition put a few questions at the end of his speech, to begin by replying to them. The first question which he put was with regard to reserves. All through this Debate there has been a suggestion that our attitude with regard to reserves has been something quite new, and entirely due to our desire to make some agreement with the French. Our attitude is very much the same as it was when Lord Cecil on 11th April, 1927, expressed our opinion at Geneva. There, he said:
We have felt, and I have stated it all along, that this question is a matter which, however strongly we may feel about it as a matter of principle, does affect other countries very much more than ourselves, and that if a limit can be arrived at which will not include any limitation of trained reserves among the other countries, then I do not think it will be at all likely that my Government will insist on its view in respect to that.
That was Lord Cecil's view in 1927, and that represents very much our attitude now. It means that, if there is a chance of getting an agreement about disarmament generally, we should not consider it to be right to wreck that chance by insisting too rigidly on the question of reserves. The right hon. Gentleman then asked, "Are we free to take any line with regard to it now?" My answer to that is, "Yes." His next question was,
"Is the Anglo-French Agreement now dead?" It is perfectly clear from what we said when we asked the American Government to consider it, that if it were not acceptable to all the five naval Powers it would be impossible to go on, and in a despatch from the Foreign Office to Washington on 10th August which is quoted in the White Paper Lord Cushendun said:
Unless it should lead to the signing of an agreed convention at Geneva, its purpose will not have been achieved, and it will be necessary to make further attempts to arrange a compromise if we are not to abandon all hope of a limitation of armaments by international agreement.
That, I think, answers the right hon. Gentleman's point. Not having succeeded in getting the agreement of all the five Powers we had to start afresh. His other question concerned M. Briand's remarks, which are quoted on page 25 of the White Paper. It would be presumptuous for me to attempt to look into M. Briand's mind, but it does seem to me, as one who reads the sentence without the desire of introducing suspicion into everything concerned with this matter, that his meaning is very plain. It seems to me that any simple and well affected mind would read into that "If we"—that is France and ourselves "have failed to provide a basis of discussion by the proposals we have just made, we must try some other way in order that the Disarmament Conference may not be a failure." That seems to me to be the plain interpretation of M. Briand's remarks. I think it has already been said again and again that there is no exclusive secret agreement of any kind between this country and France.
With regard to the general Debate, I confess that I am a little bit surprised that those responsible for the Amendment have adopted the very mild words that they have, because they do not in any way justify the terrific outpouring of abuse and suspicion which our critics let loose, not after reading the White Paper but before it. They accuse us of causing suspicion. Surely those who, before knowing what had happened, before knowing what the exchange of views had been between us and France and the other countries, immediately suggested to the whole world that we were actuated by the vilest motives, are the ones who are responsible for this sus- picion which has been aroused? All those who have taken part in attempts to devise formulae which would meet the requirements of different countries, all of which have different conditions, will realise how simple and easy a task it is to cast suspicion upon any conceivable plan you can put forward as being suitable for every country in the world. That task is easy, but is it patriotic?
There has been very little attempt on the part of those who support this Amendment to connect their words with the action of some of the members of their own party. As a matter of fact, they have spent most of their time in talking about the Kellogg Pact and the evacuation of the Rhineland instead of attempting to justify their own action. The right hoe. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) begged the whole question from the first words he used. The right hon. Gentleman began by talking about the Pact. We deny that there has been any pact. What does a pact mean? It means some sort of exclusive arrangement, and it means some arrangement arrived at behind the backs of everybody else, some official and exclusive agreement with France. All this has created a great deal of suspicion throughout the world. Those criticisms were made not after reading the White Paper which has been issued, but before reading it, and before any of our critics knew the contents of the White Paper. Hon. Members know what the Foreign Secretary said in this House on the subject, and on that statement they cannot justify all these suspicions. The Foreign Secretary said:
Conversations have been proceeding between ourselves and the French with the hope of reducing the difference between us—indeed in the hope of finding some compromise upon which we could both agree and which we might then submit to other Powers and perhaps by our proposals facilitate progress in the Committee.
Not only have we been charged with entering into a pact, but the word "secret" has been added to it.
The Foreign Secretary also added the following words to his statement:
I am about to communicate with the other principal naval Powers the com-
promise at which we have arrived in the hope that it may be acceptable to them also."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1928; col. 1837, Vol. 220.]
On the very day when the Foreign Secretary made that statement, he communicated with the other foreign Powers. My contention is that there was no justification whatever for anybody who has read what the Foreign Secretary said in this House describing this thing as an exclusive Pact or a secret Pact. It was a tentative draft plan for a basis of discussion at the next Preparatory Commission. It was submitted to the other Powers. Lord Cushendun wrote to our representative at Washington saying that this plan was submitted to them, and we should be very glad to hear what observations or suggestions they had to make about it. Can anyone say that that was some private arrangement behind the scenes, by which we were bound, when it was to he submitted to all the other Powers concerned before anything could go further, when we were awaiting their observations and suggestions upon it, and, if they did not agree, there was an end of it? What possible justification can there be for all this insinuation and slander? The Prime Minister dealt with the diplomatic history of this question, and I would like to say a word about the naval side of that history. It has been pointed out already that, on the advice of the Chairman of the Preparatory Commission and of Mr. Gibson, the American representative, we were invited to take part in conversations with a view to arriving at some basis for discussion. Mr. Gibson said that he advocated direct negotiations between the various Governments and groups of Governments, to find the way, through mutual concessions, to eliminate existing divergencies.
The more the merrier. It cannot be said, however, when you have three of the great naval Powers on one side, that the proposal is necessarily a very bad one and not worth considering. At any rate, you have the majority of the five. We proceeded on Mr. Gibson's advice to work on the principle of mutual concession. We made concessions, and the French made concessions. The French view was originally that we ought to make an agreement based simply on global tonnage, that is to say, one figure of tonnage for the whole of the Navy. Our view was, as expressed in the Amendment to-night, that we ought to proceed by limitation by categories. After a certain amount of conversation, and by mutual concession, we arrived at a plan which, at any rate, carried the Washington principle two steps further than it had been carried before. We, naturally, should have been glad to have got what we had always proposed before, but it was something, in our opinion, to get one or two steps further in advance.
It is contended that these proposals were such that it was useless to submit them to the United States, that they were even less acceptable to them than what we proposed at the Naval Conference at Geneva; but I do not think that these proposals can be properly understood if that view is entertained. The cause of the breakdown at Geneva was that we could not either of us find any formula which would express parity between the large cruisers which the Americans say they require and the number of small cruisers which we claim are necessary for us. Nobody will contend that that was not the reason why those negotiations broke down. There is this very plain difficulty. The fact is that there is no equation which can establish that x 8-inch gun cruisers are equal to? y 6-inch gun cruisers. It was a genuine difficulty. We both expressed ourselves quite frankly. We both stated what our countries required, and we found it at that time impossible to find a form which would bring us together.
Now it is contended that what the Anglo-French plan proposed is even less acceptable to America than the plan which we put up at Geneva in 1927. I want the House to realise what was proposed then and what is proposed now. At that naval conference we proposed that America should build up to our existing total in 8-inch gun cruisers, and that we would mark time—in fact, we actually proposed to stop work on a vessel that was already begun—until they caught us up, if they on their part would agree with us that after we had built those ships no one in future would build cruisers with more than 6-inch guns. They raised two objections. One was that they would always require some S-inch gun cruisers, and the other was that, owing to their need for going great distances at sea, they must have cruisers of a higher tonnage than the 7,000 which we proposed for the lighter 6-inch gun cruisers. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) made some very pertinent remarks with regard to this argument of which I have nothing to complain. But I am out to show that the Anglo-French proposal made two very-distinct efforts to meet the American difficulties. It does not seem to be understood on this side of the Atlantic, and it does not seem to have been understood on the other, and it is not likely to be understood if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen cast suspicions on the proposals we make.
This is the difference between the present proposal and those made at the Naval Conference in 1927. We wanted to meet them on the point that they were always to have some 8-inch gun cruisers, so we asked them to name a limit of 8-inch gun cruisers which they would always observe. That met them on the point that they ought always to have a certain number of 8-inch gun cruisers. The other point they made was that they must have these very high-tonnage cruisers in order to get greater radius of action, and we tried to meet them on that by saying "All right. When you have limited the number of ships you are going to have with 8-inch guns, you can have as many of these 10,000-ton cruisers as you like if they have only 6-inch guns mounted on them." There are two points which seem to have entirely escaped the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and others opposite.
I recall the speech that the hon. And gallant Gentleman made just now, and the upshot of it was —perhaps I might as well answer it now, as it is an interjection—that as there was no chance of any war between us and America, therefore we were entirely wrong in not agreeing to everything that America proposed, and America was entirely right in disagreeing with anything that we proposed. There is another contention that we are trying to get the class which we particularly wanted, the smaller cruisers, unlimited. The Americans know perfectly well that we have always said that if we could only know how many of the heavily armed 8-inch gun cruisers there are to be, we are perfectly ready to put a limit on the number of the light cruisers that we want. But until we know that, it is not possible. They know that perfectly well. They were asked to make suggestions or observations. If they said to us, "If you are asked to put a limit on your light cruisers, what would your attitude be?" They know perfectly well that our answer would be that we would be perfectly ready to put a limit on the number of light cruisers if we knew what limit there was to be on their heavy cruisers.
We are not discussing it in that sort of atmosphere at ail. We are discussing it on the basis which hon. Gentlemen have talked about, namely, parity. We have to decide on some form of achieving that. The statement that we were determined to have an unlimited number of smaller cruisers is entirely falsified by our action at the Geneva Conference, and the Americans know perfectly well that we can agree to a limit of the smaller category as soon as we know what the larger one- is to be. There is another point which, I think, has escaped observation, and that is that these Anglo-French proposals were intended to be carried out in two stages. In the second stage the different nations were to fix the actual amount of ships in the various categories that they intended to build. I do not think there would have been very much difficulty in arriving at an agreement upon a building programme which was only to last for the period for which the Convention was to be signed. There was a chance of getting an agreement simply on the ground of everybody saying what maximum they would be likely to adopt, whether it be five or six years or whatever period of years they liked to name. We are ready to lay our cards on the table with regard to that matter, and I think that other countries might do the same. At any rate, that would have been possible under the Anglo-French plan.
It has been said that by this proposal we were reserving some great advantage to ourselves, because we had such a large number of merchantmen that could he armed in the event of war. I do not think it will be found that serious naval opinion, and in this I include the opinion expressed this evening by the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull. (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), will say that any merchantman, armed with a 6-inch gun, would have the slightest chance against a cruiser armed with a 6-inch gun, or even with a gun of smaller calibre. An armed merchantman has no mechanical loading apparatus, she can only fire three or four guns as against six, eight, ten or more that can be discharged from an armed cruiser; her pace is much less, her armour plating does not exist and her magazine and her engines are unprotected. Therefore, to say that a merchantman, armed with a 6-inch gun, cannot be dealt with perfectly easily by a warship armed with a 6-inch gun, is not borne out by any reliable naval authority. There is some experience from the War in proof of this statement. There are two particular instances which I might quote in substantiation of my argument. At the Battle of Coronel, the "Otranto," a merchantman armed with 6-inch guns, was thought to be so inferior to a German armed cruiser, armed with 4.1 guns, that she was left out of the battle. The "Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse" was destroyed in a very few minutes by a very old cruiser, "High-flyer." Therefore, as far as experience goes it bears out my contention that an armed merchantman has not the slightest chance against a cruiser with the same or even with a smaller calibre of gun.
Taking into consideration what I have said about our attempts to meet two, at least, of the points on which we differed at the Geneva Conference and also the fact that we have never attempted a programme to show our superiority over the United States, I think that all fair-minded people will say that in the Anglo-French gesture, while endeavouring to meet the wishes of the French, we have also gone some considerable distance towards meeting the wishes of the United States. On the other hand, if there is to be no limit to the largest type of cruisers, armed with the largest type of guns, how are you ever going to arrive at a reduction of the armaments of the world? [Interruption.] If the hon. and gallant Member for Hackney South (Captain Garro-Jones) interrupts, I wish he would do so in an articulate way, so that I can answer him.
I have been extremely anxious to hear how it comes about that we who are so anxious to protect our trade routes from American cruisers, show no anxiety to protect them against the French submarines.
The submarine question is not relevant to the point I was making. Our policy has been entirely consistent throughout. It has been a policy to extend further the agreement we had reached at Washington, and we were proposing to extend it, although we could not get all we wanted, to the heavily armed cruisers and the large submarines. Everyone knows that we are perfectly ready to extend it to every category; and with regard to submarines the hon. and gallant Member knows perfectly well that we have always said that we are quite ready to see submarines ruled out altogether. America is quite ready to do the same. The right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs mentioned that America had said so at Washington, but in his excessive desire to criticise the Government he did not say that I also said it at Geneva.
The right hon. Gentleman is amusing and inadequate. I did not say that the Americans proposed it at Washington. I said that Lord Balfour and Lord Lee proposed it at Washington, that the Americans ex- pressed sympathy, but that afterwards they expressed dissent. The suggestion did not come from them; it came from us.
We have never gone back upon it. We have said that if the smaller nations of the world who, in their poverty, regard submarines as their only weapon of defence would agree we should be perfectly ready to abolish it, and so are the United States of America. There is no difference between us. I therefore point out that our policy has been consistent throughout. Lord Grey of Fallodon who has been extremely fair in his criticisms on this subject, said that when we came back from the failure at Geneva we dropped two cruisers and that if we had offered them at the Geneva Conference there would have been no controversy. As a matter of fact, I did offer them at Geneva. I offered to stop building the large cruisers and give up the work already begun on the "Dorsetshire," but I did not succeed in ending the controversy. In one direction, certainly there has been great consistency and that is on the part of hon. Members opposite in trying to make as much party capital as they can out of every situation. But that has been the only consistent part of their attitude. Formerly we were blamed for not making enough concessions to the League of Nations, now we are blamed because we have made some concessions in order to get one or two steps further in this matter. After the Naval Conference at Geneva we were told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite and others that the reason we failed was because we did not have any private preliminary conversations. We are now told that the reason for the failure is that we did not blurt out the whole of our policy. Now in the words of your Amendment you say:
that the basis of naval discussion should be the extension of the successful Washing-
ton Treaties to all classes of combatant ships.
That is the only solid and serious part of the Amendment, but the odd part of it is the inconsistency of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because when did that at Geneva last year they moved a Vote of Censure on me—not because they disagreed with my policy, but because they disagreed with the people who did not accept it. Very often things which are not popular are justified in the judgment of posterity, but one does not often find that judgment coming so quickly within one year. The very party who voted a Vote of Censure upon me last year have now put down an Amendment which justifies everything which I then did. The compliment is put in such humorous terms and in such delicate language that it is one which even the most modest of men can accept without embarrassment.
I confess that it is disappointing that every well-meant effort to arrive at some solution of this very difficult problem is invariably met by most unreasonable suspicion. Suspicion, of course, makes agreement impossible, but we shall not abandon our desire to reach agreement in any possible way that may he presented to us. Perhaps it might he better if now some other country might make some concession, as we have been attempting to do from time to time, towards reaching agreement. If they will do that, they will find no one more ready to listen to them than this country and this Government. Our position is not a very simple one, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite knows it very well. If we only had to deal with the League of Nations, of which we are members, the course might be a simpler one, or if we only had to deal with the United States, the course might be a much simpler one. We are like a man living in a room with two windows, one of which looks West and the other South, and he is told to make a picture which will comprise these two views. It is not a very easy thing to do, and I think it is a matter worth consideration whether these attempts to arrive at very elaborate tables and formulae do not lead certainly to suspicion—they may lead to friction. I think that they may very likely lead to expense, for the reason that was men- tioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney), who said that if you fix a maximum it is so apt to become the standard. So I think it may be possible that some agreement may be reached more easily if each nation is not tied down too precisely. The natural desire for economy in most nations will have its effect. The fact that there is a little latitude will relieve friction.
The hon. Gentleman who spoke last from the Opposition Bench rather hinted at the same conclusion—that a little more latitude and a little less elaboration might assist to a future solution. At any rate we are bound to consider any measure that is possible for proceeding to a reduction of armaments. But at the end of his speech the hon. Gentleman asked how we interpreted the Kellogg Pact, and held out the lugubrious prospect that if we did not give a proper answer to the question his party might possibly get in at the next election—a result which he seemed to contemplate with the greatest depression.
I for one, and I think the Government with me, believe that every nation which signed the Kellogg Pact meant what it signed. The signatories wish to proceed by pacific, means and not by war for attaining their ends. If they do mean that, I think that is a very great advantage gained. He said, what have we done to show our approval? We are ready to do our share when other nations do the same. Moreover, I would point out to him and to every one else who is studying this question, that if you have the intention and desire and the love for peace, it is not necessary to have such elaborate formulae, and if you have not, no mere proportional reduction in the armaments of the different countries is going to bring you peace. So I say that our policy is trust in the other nations, believing as I do that they meant what they said when they signed the Kellogg Pact, and, as everyone in this country knows, we mean it, too.
|Division No. 3.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Groves, T||Riley, Ben|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W Bromwich)|
|Amnion, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W.R., Elland)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hamilton, sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)|
|Baker, Walter||Hardle, George D.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harney, E. A.||Saklatvala, Shapuril|
|Barnet, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Batey, Joseph||Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hayes, John Henry||Sexton, James|
|Bellamy, A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Hirst, G. H.||Shlels, Dr. Drummond|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Shinwell, E.|
|Briant, Frank||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Sinclair, Major sir A. (Caithness)|
|Bromfield, William||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bromley, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smillie, Robert|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Rennle (Penistone)|
|Buxton, Ht. Hon. Noel||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snell, Harry|
|Cape. Thomas||Jones, W. N. (Carmarthen)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kelly, W. T.||Stewart. J. (St. Rollox)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kennedy, T.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Compton, Joseph||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sullivan, J.|
|Connolly, M,||Kirkwood, D.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lansbury, George||Taylor, R. A.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lawrence, Susan||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Lawson, John James||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lee, F.||Thorns, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh)||Lindley, F. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Longbottom, A. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lowth, T.||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Day, Harry||Lunn, William||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Dennison, R.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Viant, S. P.|
|Duckworth, John||Mackinder, W.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, C.||MacLaren, Andrew||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Edge, Sir William||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Webb, Rt. Hon Sidney|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James J.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Evans. Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Malone, C. L'Eetrange (N'thampton)||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Forrest, W.||March, S.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Maxton, James||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Montague, Frederick||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Murnin, H.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gillett, George M.||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edln., Cent.)||Palin, John Henry||Wilson. R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Greenall, T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colnel||Pethick Lawrence, F. W.||Wright, W.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Potts, John S.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Fenby and Major Owen.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Berry, Sir George||Bullock, Captain M.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Betterton, Henry B.||Burman, J. B.|
|Albery, Irving James||Bevan, S. J.||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.|
|Alexander. E. E. (Leyton)||Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Butler, Sir Geoffrey|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W||Caine, Gordon Hall|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Blundell, F. N.||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Ashley, Lt. Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Boothby, R. J. G.||Cassels, J. D.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)|
|Atkinson, C.||Boyd-Carpenter, Major Sir A. B.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Baltour, George (Hampstead)||Brass, Captain W.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Briggs, J. Harold||Charterls, Brigadier-General J.|
|Barnett. Major Sir Richard||Briscoe, Richard George||Christie, J. A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Brittain, Sir Harry||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Clayton, G. C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Bennett, A. J.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Colfox, Major Win. Phillips||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Preston, Sir Walter (Cheltenham)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Preston, William|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Price, Major C. W. M|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Raine, Sir Walter|
|Couper, J. B.||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Reid, Capt. Cunningham (Warrington)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Remer, J. R.|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Rentoul, G, S.|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hurd, Percy A.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Huret, Gerald B.||Richardson, Sir p. W. (Sur'y, Ch'tl'yl|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Iveagh, Countess of||Robinson, Sir J (Lanes, Stretford)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Joynson-Hicks Rt Hon. Sir William||Rye, F. G.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putmy)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Kintoch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Dawson. Sir Philip||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Drewe, C.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Sandon, Lord|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Savery, s. S.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Shaw. R. G (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Ellis, R. G.||Long, Major Eric||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Looker, Herbert William||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Lougher, Lewis||Sinclair. Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Smith Carington, Neville W.|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lumley, L. R.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Fermoy, Lord||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Sprot, sir Alexander|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Forestler-Walker, sir L.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Storry-Deans, R.|
|Frece, Sir Walter de||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Fremantle, Lieut. Colonol Francis E.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Gadie, Lieut Col. Anthony||Malone, Major P. B.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Gaibraith, J. F. W.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John.||Margesson, Captain D.||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Gates, Percy||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Ht. Hon. Sir John||Meller, R. J.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Goff, Sir Park||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Meyer, Sir Frank||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Grace, John||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Grant, Sir J. A.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Tinne, J. A.|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Greene, W. P. Crawled||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Waddington, R.|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Murchison, Sir Kenneth||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hall. Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hon W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Hanbury, C.||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nuttall, Ellis||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Harland, A.||Oakley, T.||Wells, S. R.|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymble-|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Williams. Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Pennefather, Sir John||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Penny, Frederick George||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Perring, Sir William George||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Withers, John James|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Philipson, Mabel||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hilton, Cecil||Pitcher, G.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde||Worthington-Evant, Rt. Hon. Sir L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley||Wright, Brig.-General W. D.||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Woodcock, Colonel H. C.||Major Sir George Hennessy.|