asked the Prime Minister whether the question of Eastern Galicia has been considered at Genoa; and whether, in view of the continued neglect by the Polish Government of the recommendations both of the Supreme Council and of the League of Nations in regard to Eastern Galicia, any further effort can be made diplomatically to persuade the Polish Government to give autonomy to Eastern Galicia?
(Mr. Cecil Harmsworth—who was received with cheers on his return after recent indisposition): It is understood that this question is engaging the attention of the Powers at Genoa. Separate diplomatic action would therefore be out of place.
asked the Prime Minister whether His Majesty's Government is aware of preparations alleged to have been made in France to mobilise troops to extend the occupation of German territory if reparations due are not paid by 31st May; if so, were they informed of these preparations by the French Government; if similar preparations are being made in Belgium; and, if His Majesty's Government have no information, will they make inquiries through the usual channels as to what preparations, if any, are being made?
His Majesty's Government is aware that it has been alleged that preparations have been made in France to mobilise troops to extend the occupation of German territory if reparations due are not paid by 31st May, but has reason to know that these allegations are untrue, and that no such preparations for the purpose alleged have been made either in France or Belgium. The answer to the second and third parts of the question is therefore in the negative.
asked the Prime Minister the terms and the date of the invitation that the French Government has been reluctant to accept to discuss what common action should be taken by the Allies through a default by Germany in the payment of reparations; and the reasons communicated by the French Government for their reluctance?
On the 26th April the Prime Minister made to M. Barthou a request that a meeting of the Allied States signatories of the Treaty of Versailles should be held at Genoa before the dispersal of the present Conference to consider the attitude to be taken towards Germany on 31st May. The French Government have indicated, in reply, that they would not take part in any conversations on this subject before 31st May, either at Genoa or elsewhere.
Cannot we have definite and precise details of this request by the Prime Minister? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us view with a considerable amount of anxiety the growing tension between this country and France?
I do not know that I could make my information more specific than I have done. I have given the date at which the Prime Minister made the request and I have given the answer which M. Barthou, on behalf of the French Government, conveyed to the Prime Minister at Genoa. No documents were exchanged and the communications were verbal on both sides. I also view with anxiety and regret any failure to discuss freely agreements between us which may lead to estrangement or difficulty in critical circumstances.
Can we have an assurance that discussions will take place before any action of a military nature is taken against Germany?
Notice should be given of that question.
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the difficulty experienced by Austria in obtaining a sufficient supply of coal to enable her industries to compete in the markets of the world; whether he is aware that her water power, if developed, would give her over 60 per cent, of the energy and heat she needs; and will he say if Austria will be given an equal opportunity with Russia to obtain the money needed to develop her water power under the Trade Facilities Acts or other method by which this country is to be asked to assist in the reconstruction of Russia?
I am afraid I cannot undertake to answer what is at present a hypothetical question. As the hon. and gallant Member will be aware, very considerable financial assistance has been given, both directly and indirectly, by this country to Austria?
What does the hon. Gentleman mean by calling it a hypothetical question? Is it the first part or the second part which is hypothetical?
There is a small element of hypothesis in the first part, and a large element in the second part.
Why is it there is so strong a demand in this House for action against Germany while Austria is never mentioned in terms of indemnity, but always in terms of help?
That question should be put down.
Bulgaria (Allied Officers' Pay)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the chief of the military organ of liquidation in Bulgaria receives 35 times as much pay as the chief-of-the-staff of the Bulgarian Army, as well as free quarters and motor cars; and, in view of the stringent economy enjoined upon the Bulgarian Army by the Allies, he will inquire into these rates of pay?
The rates of pay of the Allied officers serving on the military organisation of liquidation in Bulgaria were fixed by joint decision of the Allies. As they do not represent an unreasonable remuneration at the present rate of exchange, and as the organisation will be withdrawn as soon as the military clauses of the Treaty of Neuilly have been executed, I see no reason to review them.
asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to reports to the effect that the Egyptian Constitution Commission has declared the Sudan to be an inseparable part of Egypt; and, if so, will he state what attitude the Government propose to take in regard to the matter?
asked the Prime Minister whether the Egyptian ministers and officials engaged upon the task of framing the future relations between Egypt and Great Britain have been definitely informed that the limits of concession have been reached, and that proposals put forward to annex the Sudan on behalf of the Egyptian Government, or other proposals which touch upon specially reserved subjects, will tend to imperil further negotiations?
I am aware that a sub-committee of the Egyptian Constitution Commission has made known in Egypt its intention of inserting in the draft constitution some such Clause as is alluded to by my hon. Friend. Lord Allenby has drawn the attention of the Egyptian Prime Minister to the impropriety of the Commission's incorporating in the draft constitution for Egypt any Clause dealing with the Sudan, since the Sudan is one of the points reserved for future discussion between His Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government. The Egyptian Government entirely share Lord Allenby's view of the incident, and Sarwat Pasha has promised to draw the serious attention of the Chairman of the Commission to the impropriety of what has occurred.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government are contemplating or have come to any arrangement with the Government of the Sudan to permit of such financial assistance to the Sudan as will enable work to proceed for the entire completion of the Blue Nile dam; if so, what is the arrangement made; and, if not, what is the position of British shareholders in previous loans issued by the Government of the Sudan for the purpose of this work, which were guaranteed, as to interest, by the British Government.
As I informed the hon. and gallant Member on the 9th November, the whole subject is under consideration. The position of British shareholders in the Guaranteed Loan of 1919 is in no way affected.
Will my hon. Friend take care that if financial assistance is given there shall be no change in the constitution as regards this country?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that the con- stitution of the Sudan is one of the reserved subjects to be discussed when the whole question of Egypt comes up for consideration.
In that case, will the hon. Gentleman take care not to give any of the British taxpayers' money to a country which may pass partially out of our power?
I do not think that will happen in the least.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to recent statements made in Cairo regarding the present and future status of the Sudan and its definite relationship to the British Empire and whether the policy of the Government has in any way changed from that stated in 1921, namely, that any change in the administration of Egypt would in no way alter the political status of the Sudan?
I have been unable to trace the statement referred to by the hon. and gallant Member, but he may rest assured that no changes are contemplated in the administration of Egypt which will affect the political status of the Sudan.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the concern and apprehension caused to the British and Sudanese of all classes, it is the intention of the Government to state clearly that there is no intention of handing over the administration of the Sudan to the Government in Cairo and that the development of the country will be continued under British administration and control?
I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement made on this subject by the Prime Minister on 28th February, which Lord Allenby took occasion to quote in the course of a speech at Khartoum on the 26th April.