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League Of Nations

Volume 244: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1930

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Slavery

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he intends to furnish to the League of Nations the information in possession of the Government respecting the present general position in regard to slavery, in accordance with the resolution passed by the Eleventh Assembly of the League of Nations?

This matter will be carefully considered, but I am not yet able to state what action His Majesty's Government will take on the resolution of the Assembly.

Does the right hon. Gentleman include in his consideration of this matter the question of slave labour in Russia?

May I have an answer to my question, or shall I raise it on the Adjournment?

On a point of Order. May I say, as the right hon. Gentleman is unable to give me an answer, that I shall raise this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment at an early date?

Is the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) entitled to give notice to raise a matter on the Adjournment upon a supplementary question which has nothing whatever to do with the original question?

The hon. Member can raise any question he likes on the Motion for the Adjournment.

I quite understand that an hon. Member can raise anything he likes on the Adjournment, but I would like to ask is it in order for an hon. Member, in putting a supplementary question which has no connection with the original question on the Paper, to give notice that he will raise that question on the Motion for the Adjournment and thus take up the time of the House?

The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) himself has been taking up the time of the House.

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what nations are not parties to the Anti-Slavery Convention of 1926; and with reference to Article 4 that the high contracting parties shall give to one another every assistance with the object of securing the abolition of slavery and the slave trade, whether any endeavour has been made by this country separately, or in association with other countries, to secure the adhesion of countries where slavery is known to exist?

Twenty-four countries have not yet signed the AntiSlavery Convention of 1926, and 12 countries have signed or otherwise acceded, but have not yet ratified. I am circulating the names in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave on the 5th of November to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White).

May I presume that Russia is among the countries that have not signed?

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire into the five-year-plan which has condemned the bulk of the Russian people to penal servitude for five years?

Following are the names:

Countries who have neither signed nor acceded to the Convention.
Afghanistan.Lichtenstein.
Argentine Republic.Luxemburg.
Mexico.
Bolivia.Paraguay.
Brazil.Peru.
Chile.Salvador.
Costa Rica.San Merion.
Free City of Danzig.Siam.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Guatemala.
Hejaz.
Honduras.Switzerland.
Iceland.Turkey.
Japan.Venezuela.

Countries who have signed or acceded to, but have not yet ratified, the Convention.
Abyssinia.France.
Albania.Lithuania.
China.Panama.
Colombia.Persia.
Cuba.Rumania.
Dominican Republic.Uruguay.

Minorities (Commission)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any further action has been taken as a result of the declaration made by the Government in committee at the Assembly of the League of Nations in September last to the effect that they were prepared to consider on its merits the setting up of a permanent minorities commission?

The representative of His Majesty's Government at Geneva did not commit himself either for or against the proposal for a permanent minorities commission. General agreement was reached in the Sixth Committee of the Assembly that no change should be made at present in the existing procedure, which should, however, be applied as fully as possible.

Do I understand that the Government have quite an open mind on this matter of a permanent minorities commission?

Disarmament

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if any further action has been taken in pursuance of the policy expressed in his statement made at the Assembly of the League of Nations last September that, in the opinion of the British Government., Article 8 of the Covenant with regard to disarmament was as binding and as important as any other article contained therein or in the Treaties of Peace?

As the hon. Member is aware, the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference is now in session at Geneva, and I trust that its deliberations will be successful in preparing the way for the execution by all States Members of the League of Article 8 of the Covenant.

Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear that until other States have carried out their obligations under Article 8 they cannot rely upon us to carry out our duties under Article 16, which deals with sanctions?

That is a very large question to have to settle by way of an answer to a question.

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the instructions given to the British delegation to the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament include the acceptance of the principle of no limitation of trained reserves; and whether this principle has been accepted by His Majesty's Government?

When the present Session of the Preparatory Commission is ended, I will issue a White Paper setting out its conclusions and indicating the attitude adopted by the representative of His Majesty's Government on the various questions discussed. Meanwhile I do not, consider that such points as that raised by my hon. and gallant Friend can be usefully dealt with at this stage.

I sin much obliged to my right hon. Friend for his answer. Could the right hon. Gentleman find it convenient to say whether there has been any alteration of policy with regard to the question of the limitation of trained reserves?

During the sittings which are now being held I deprecate having to answer specific questions. I appeal to my hon. and gallant Friend to accept the offer which I have made.

Mandates Commission

asked the Prime Minister what steps it is proposed to recommend to give effect to the declaration of the British Government's delegate at Geneva that the experience which the Mandates Commission was acquiring should be utilised more than it is for the benefit of Native races throughout the world?

The reference appears to be to the remarks made in the 6th Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Buxton) who was one of the British delegates at the 11th Session of the Assembly. My hon. Friend drew attention to the valuable process of pooling the results and experience in Colonial Administration derived from the work of the Permanent Mandates Commission, and he emphasised the fact that the principle of trusteeship was derived not only from the provisions of the Mandates but also from Article 23 of the Covenant which applied to all territories under the jurisdiction of members of the League. His Majesty's Government always devote close attention to the work of the Permanent Mandates Commission, and consider whether any lessons can be drawn from it involving principles of general application to the administration of Colonial Territories. They propose to continue to study the work of the Commission with this end in view.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statement referred to is an invitation to the Mandates Commission to extend their authority over all British Colonies, and can we have an assurance from the Prime Minister that it is not the policy of His Majesty's Government to extend the authority of the Mandates Commission to any other Colony?

I have no hesitation in giving that assurance. That idea has never entered our minds.

Before any recommendation of the Mandates Commission is given effect to by His Majesty's Government in respect of the territories aver which they hold a mandate, will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that there will be communication and consultation with the Government of the Union of South Africa and of the Commonwealth of Australia, which also have Mandatory territories under their control?

I think that ought to have notice of such an important question as that.