League of Nations (Optional Clause).

Oral Answers to Questions — Russia. – in the House of Commons on 11th November 1929.

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Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he will make a statement defining what he understands to be included under the reservation to the Optional Clause of matters exclusively within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom?

Mr. A. HENDERSON:

I hope to be able to deal with the point in the Debate which will arise in due course when the Government invites the House to approve the signature of the Optional Clause.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

As this is really a very vital matter, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will give the House a full opportunity of considering his interpretation of this reservation before the day comes on which we are asked to ratify it?

Mr. HENDERSON:

I have already answered a question that we had under consideration publishing a White Paper setting out our position, and, if we decide definitely to do so, it will be before the Debate comes on.

Photo of Sir William Mitchell-Thomson Sir William Mitchell-Thomson , Croydon South

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are two different sets of issues involved: In the first place, what are the intentions of the Government; in the second place, whether the language of the reservation is suitable to carry out their intentions; and we cannot have a Debate on the second point unless we have in formation on the first?

Mr. HENDERSON:

I think that the issue of the Paper and the Debate together ought to satisfy the needs of the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is in possession of any statements by any of the Governments of the Dominions on the interpretation they place upon the reservation to the Optional Clause of matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Mr Arthur Ponsonby Mr Arthur Ponsonby , Sheffield, Brightside

I have been asked to take this question. The reply is in the negative.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

Were the Dominions requested to give any indication?

Photo of Mr Arthur Ponsonby Mr Arthur Ponsonby , Sheffield, Brightside

That is another question. The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether I was in possession of any statements, and the answer is in the negative.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Dominions were approached as regards what interpretation they placed on this reservation?

Photo of Mr Arthur Ponsonby Mr Arthur Ponsonby , Sheffield, Brightside

There was full consultation with the Dominions.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Law Officers have been asked to give an opinion on the exact scope of the reservation to the Optional Clause of matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United Kingdom?

Mr. HENDERSON:

The answer is in the negative. As I have already in formed the House, I hope to deal with this and similar points during the Debate which will arise when the Government invites the House to approve the signature of the Optional Clause.

Photo of Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson Mr Godfrey Locker-Lampson , Wood Green

As this is very largely a legal question, surely the right hon. Gentleman ought to get the opinion of the Law Officers on the subject?

Mr. HENDERSON:

I will if I think it necessary, but I would point out that we have a legal Department fully qualified to give me advice, and I will only go outside when I think that it is necessary.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert James Lieut-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert James , Bromley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that questions answered in Debate are frequently highly unsatisfactory?