Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement.

– in the House of Commons on 3rd February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am happy to be able to inform the House that an Agreement was signed on behalf of His Majesty's Government with the Emperor of Ethiopia on 31st January at Addis Ababa. The text is being laid as a White Paper, copies of which will be available to hon. Members to-day. This Agreement restores our normal diplomatic relations with the Emperor. Mr. R. G. Howe is proceeding forthwith to Addis Ababa as His Majesty's Minister to the Emperor's Court. The Emperor has asked us for technical advisers, and we have agreed to do our best to procure the services of a small number of British officials. It will be their duty to assist the Emperor with their counsel in the restoration of his administration. It is expected that the currency of the Agreement will be two years.

His Majesty's Government have agreed to finance the Emperor during the first year to the extent of £1,500,000, and during the second year to the extent of £1,000,000. Should the Agreement be prolonged beyond the first two years His Majesty's Government have agreed to grant him £500,000 during the third year and £250,000 during the fourth year. This tapering-off of financial aid makes allowance for the gradual restoration of Ethiopian finances. The financial arrangements, therefore, have been designed to ensure that the dependence of Ethiopia upon a foreign country shall not be perpetuated.

The Emperor has also asked us for a military mission to assist him in the reorganisation of his armed forces. The Military Convention, which was signed at the same time as the Agreement and has been printed in the White Paper, provides for this and for the British forces which it may be necessary to maintain in Ethiopia for strategic reasons as well as for the evacuation of Italian prisoners of war. The Ethiopian army will be equipped from the booty captured during the campaign in Ethiopia.

The Emperor has asked, too, for some British Judges in his courts to assist him in the administration of justice, and the Agreement provides that a foreigner may elect to have his case heard in an Ethiopian court on the bench of which a British magistrate shall sit.

The House will observe that His Majesty's Government have not sought to profit by the Ethiopian campaign, at the expense of the independence of Ethiopia. They are glad to have been able to play a part in securing the restoration of Ethiopian liberties. I should like here to pay a tribute to the fine sense of statesmanship shown by the Emperor. This has been abundantly evident during the trying period of the readjustment of his country from the chaos of war to independent administration.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby

While congratulating my right hon. Friend on his statement, and warmly endorsing the statesmanship which the Emperor has shown from 1935 to this day, may I ask whether, at a later stage and after peace has been restored, if the Emperor desired to appoint advisers of nationalities other than British, His Majesty's Government would have any objection to that course?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

This Agreement is only for two years, but in the circumstances described by my hon. Friend, that is, after the conclusion of peace, I cannot conceive that there would be any objection.

Miss Rathbone:

Will the Emperor be free to make his own suggestions and to accept or reject the advice offered to him, and will Ethiopia in future be allowed to send a representative to meetings of the Allied Conference?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

With regard to the first point, the Emperor has asked for certain British advisers. The object is to make the arrangement work smoothly, and there is no question of imposing advice upon him. As regards the second part of the question, if the hon. Lady means the Allied Council at St. James' Palace, no doubt if Ethiopia wishes to join, an application will be made, which will be considered.

Mr. Creech Jones:

Does the Agreement accept the old frontiers of Ethiopia, and is there anything in the Agreement with regard to the suppression of slavery?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

Yes, Sir. The position is that the Emperor has declared his intention to issue decrees abolishing a state of slavery as soon as he is in a position to legislate. He will be in a position to legislate as a result of this Agreement. As regards frontiers, I would ask the hon. Member to put down a Question. But no action has been taken to decrease the frontiers of the Empire from what they were before. There are, however, certain practical points which I can discuss with my hon. Friend.