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Volume 155: debated on Monday 19 June 1922

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asked the Prime Minister whether the financial and economic position of Austria formed a subject of discussion at the Genoa Convention; will he say if any policy was agreed on whereby the necessary help could be given to Austria; and if so, is the Government of the United States of America a consenting party to such policy?

Informal discussions took place between the interested Delegations at Genoa with a view to securing the release of the liens on Austrian assets, but no final conclusions were reached. The Government of the United States of America has obtained the necessary powers to effect release and is, I understand, ready to release its liens as soon as the other Governments concerned have agreed to release theirs.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how soon the other Governments will come to an agreement, as the matter is very urgent?

Are the conversations about the state of Austria being carried on, in view of the terrible state of affairs in that unhappy country?

The British Government has from the first done all it can, and I think perhaps more than any other Government, to prevent a catastrophe in Austria, but I cannot, without notice, say what is the absolute position at this moment—whether conversations are actually proceeding or not. I am afraid I have forgotten what was the question put to me by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Finchley (Colonel Newman).

I asked how soon these other Powers will come to a decision in regard to Austria.

I am often asked how soon our own Government will come to a decision, and I have sometimes found that a difficult question to answer. If I am to be asked about all the other Governments, I am afraid that is more than I am equal to.

When these liens are all released, will it enable us to get better security for our loan to Austria than the tapestries which we have at the present time?

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has had this position explained to him several times. The object of releasing the liens is to enable a loan to be floated to stabilise the financial position in Austria. If that is done, the advance which we have already made would be taken into account in the new loan.


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, in order to prevent economic disaster, Austrian opinion favours the inclusion of Austria in the German Republic; whether this is forbidden by the terms of the Versailles or other treaty; and whether, in consequence, the Allied Powers, who are denying to Austria the right of self-determination, will give her the help necessary to avert ruin?

Under Article 88 of the Treaty of St. Germain and Article 80 of the Treaty of Versailles, the independence of Austria is inalienable, without the consent of the Council of the League of Nations. The Allied Powers have from time to time advanced considerable sums to Austria to aid the Government of that country to reconstruct its finances.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any assurance as to whether or not the Allies have reconsidered the question of giving Austria at least one port of access to the sea, and is he not of opinion that that might aid in the recovery of Austria?