askd the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the draft B mandate submitted by the French Government to the League of Nations contains a Clause permitting that Government in certain eventualities to utilise local mandate forces for military purposes outside the mandated area; whether his attention has been drawn to statements in the Press that an agreement or understanding exists upon this matter which precludes the British Government from opposing the insertion of this Clause; whether there is any truth in this suggestion; and, if not, whether the British representative on the Council of the League will be requested to draw attention to the violation which this constitutes to the terms of the Covenant?
The hon. and learned Member is referring, I think, to Article 3 of the French mandates for Togoland and the Cameroons. Under this Article the mandatory power may, in the event of a general war, use the native military forces, organised for police and defence purposes, to repel aggression or to defend territory outside the mandated area. This provision is in conformity with an understanding reached by the representatives of the principal Allied and Associated Powers in Paris early in 1919 at the time when the document which now constitutes Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations was under discussion, and is not therefore in the opinion of His Majesty's Government contrary to the spirit or the letter of the Covenant. The hon. and learned Member will be reassured when I tell him that in a letter addressed on 2nd October, 1921, to the Governments of the Mandatory Powers, the Council of the League stated, as regards the territories to be administered in accordance with paragraph 5 of Article 22 of the Covenant, that whilst reserving examination of the details of the draft mandates the principles contained in the drafts, generally speaking, expressed the high objects which the Covenant had in view, and laid down in a spirit in harmony with that of the Covenant safeguards for the rights of all members of the League.