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League Of Nations

Volume 342: debated on Monday 5 December 1938

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asked the Prime Minister what is the gross figure in sterling contributed by His Majesty's Government towards the general expenses of the League of Nations for the 12 months ended the last convenient date; the comparable figure for the previous 12 months; and the number of nations which have defaulted in their contributions?

The contribution of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to the expenses of the League of Nations for the year ending 3ist December, 1938, is £158,440. The contribution for the preceding year was £162,773. On 31st October last nine States had not yet completed payment of their contributions due up to 31st December, 1937.

Can the Minister say what was the gross amount of the contributions on which there was a default?

Do the Government still grudge that expenditure, as they have done in previous years?


asked the Prime Minister what are the terms of reference of the committee on standing charges set up by the last Assembly of the League of Nations as the result of a proposal by the British Government; who is the chairman of the committee; and who is its British member?

The terms of reference of the committee are

"To examine thoroughly the standing charges in the budgets of the Secretarlat and the International Labour Organisation and recommend what economies can be carried out either immedlately or in the near future."
The chairman of the committee is Count Carton de Wlart (Belgium). The United Kingdom member is Sir Russell Scott.

Was it not understood at the League Assembly last September that the chairman would be a British representative?



asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of any proposal to abolish the position of the League of Nations High Commissioner in Danzig having been put before the League?

South American States


asked the Prime Minister what South American nations have left the League of Nations since 1935, or have given notice of their intention to leave?

Since 1st January, 1935, the following South American States have left the League: Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Salvador, Venezuela and Chile have given notice of their intention to withdraw from the League.

Can the Under-Secretary state reasons why these States have left or are leaving the League, apart from their disgust with the unrellability of the Great Powers, including His Majesty's Government?

China And Japan


asked the Prime Minister what steps he has taken to remove the pressure which is being exercised by the Japanese authorities in North China upon Chinese firms to compel the latter to ship goods in Japanese or German ships instead of in British ships?

The position is that a ban exists at Chefoo and other ports in Shantung on the export to South China of certain articles, not being the property of third Power nationals. In one case, which has been brought to the notice of my Noble Friend, shipment in a foreign vessel was permitted, although the goods were apparently Chinese-owned. Representations have been made to the Japanese authorities in China and to the Japanese Government both as regards interference with trade in British ships and the discrimination in favour of a foreign vessel.

If representations are made in these cases, as in the case of General Franco, what do the Government do when no satisfaction is achieved? Do they apologise?


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the conveyance of goods in lighters between ship and wharf, which is enforced by the Japanese authorities at Tsingtao, necessitates the exposure of the cargo to the full violence of the weather in this exposed port and renders the shipment of certain types of cargo impossible; and what action he is taking to protect British trade?

Yes, Sir, and urgent representations have been made to the Japanese Government that British ships should be allowed to berth in the commerclal harbour.


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, after the Chinese retreated from Hankow, British bluejackets were sent to cut wires and remove explosives laid by the Chinese in Japanese buildings; by whose orders this was done; and what was the reason for this interference with legitimate Chinese military operations?

Yes, Sir. After the withdrawal of the Chinese military forces from Hankow, British naval patrols were landed to maintain order in the former British Concession. On taking over temporary charge, the British naval authorities removed the dynamite and other charges from certain buildings there which had previously been prepared for demolition. This was done in order to prevent damage to adjoining British property and loss of life in the former British Concession, which was then crowded with refugees. As regards the last part of the question, my Noble Friend is satisfied that in the interests of humanity the action was fully justified.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the buildings in which explosives were laid were, in all cases, adjacent to British property and were not in fact in many instances in quite separate parts of the town; and in that case did this not constitute interference with Chinese military operations?

If the hon. Gentleman has any information that he would like to give me, I will certainly consider it, but on the information in our possession, we consider the action justified.

British Consulate, Vienna (Visas)


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, owing to the great demand for visas at the British Consulate in Vienna, the staff and the premises are quite inadequate to cope with the large number of applicants, and that the Consulate is only open on two days of the week and can only deal with 40 persons on any one day; and what steps is he taking to expedite the issue of visas?

Visa applications at Vienna are dealt with by the Passport Control Officer, whose staff has been increased from four to twenty-six and who has been provided with larger premises to deal with the great increase in the volume of work. It is not a fact that the office is open on only two days a week and can deal with only 40 persons per day. The office is open for six days a week, but it has been found convenient to classify the types of application and to deal with them on different days according to category. I will, with the permission of the right hon. Gentleman, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing the detailed arrangements at this office, which my Noble Friend trusts will meet the situation.

Is it not the case that queues are formed all night long outside the Consulate; and have the arrangements in Berlin been changed in view of the fact that the centre of Berlin has now been closed to Jews?

We have tried to improve the situation in Berlin also. As regards Vienna I am aware that there has been congestion, and, as I have said, I am circulating a report of the steps which have been taken to try to meet it.

Is it proposed to move the Consulate in Berlin since it is now in an area which is prohibited to Jews?

With regard to Berlin, I should have notice as the question on the Paper relates to Vienna.

Following is the statement:

Members of the general public submitting new applications are dealt with on Tuesdays and Fridays; persons holding Ministry of Labour permits or in respect of whom authority has been given in the United Kingdom for the grant of visas are dealt with on Mondays and Thursdays, while Wednesdays and Saturdays are reserved for Special appointments, applications by post and general correspondence. On the days when the office is open to the general public the normal hours are 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., but these hours are elastic and every effort is made to assist applicants. In the afternoons of those days when the office is open to the public in the morning the staff is fully occupied in dealing with the applications submitted.

Tunis, Corsica And Nice


asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the reluctance of the Italian Government to restore friendly relations with the French Government and the propaganda at present being carried on in Italy for the cession of Tunisla, Nice and other French territory to Italy, he will assure the House that the Anglo-Italian Agreement in no way affects our obligations to France; and that he will not carry out his proposed visit to Rome unless such propaganda ceases?


asked the Prime Minister whether, in the course of the negotlations leading up to the Anglo-Italian Agreement, it was indicated that the assurances given by Italy as to the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean included Tunis, Corsica and Nice?


asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the demonstration in the Italian Chamber demanding Nice, Corsica and Tunis; whether he will make it clear to Signor Mussolini that friendly relations between this country and Italy cannot be developed unless these claims upon France are repudlated by the Italian Government; and that a visit by the British Prime Minister to Rome could serve no useful purpose if these demands are maintained?

Nothing in the Anglo-Italian Agreement of 16th April affects in any way our obligations to France, and while Tunis, Corsica and Nice were not specifically mentioned in the negotlations prior to the agreement they are covered by Annex 1 of the agreement, which deals with the maintenance of the status quo in the Mediterranean. In view of the demonstrations in the Italian Chamber His Majesty's Ambassador in Rome was instructed to represent to the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs on Saturday, that incidents of this kind, unless steps were taken to correct the impression created, must have a most detrimental effect on the prospect of collaboration between the four Munich Powers. From Count Clano's reply it is clear that the Italian Government do not assoclate themselves with the demonstration and have no intention of departing from the undertakings they have already given us. I see no reason to alter the arrangements for my visit to Rome next month.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it perfectly clear to the Italian Government when he goes to Rome that this country has no intention of sacrificing friendship with France, in order to purchase friendship with Italy?

Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that spontaneous demonstrations take place in Italy under present conditions?

We have assurances from the Italian Government, and of course we accept them.

Has the right hon. Gentleman read the report from the Rome correspondent of the "Times" to the effect that this demonstration could not possibly have been spontaneous?

Is it not clear that such visits as this one which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to pay to Rome, are made the occasion for inventing and fomenting quite spurious grievances, in order that their redress may be demanded in the name of appeasement?

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether any pact or covenant exists that if Italy should attack France, we are to come to France's aid?

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that these demands for Nice, Tunisla and Corsica are demands which can be surrendered, provided the right hon. Gentleman surrenders Spain; and will he see that they are not used as blackmail in order to enforce such a surrender?

Will the Prime Minister inform the Italian Government that this Government is not responsible for the demonstrations which sometimes take place in this House?

Anti-Comintern Pact


asked the Prime Minister whether he has any information to show that the Anti-Comintern Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan has now been strengthened, so as to be a military alllance between those three countries?

Mr Mark Flanagan (Death, Sicily)


asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any information with regard to the death of Mr. Mark Flanagan, which happened at Patti, Sicily, during a quarrel with the police there?

A report has been received from the Italian authorities through His Majesty's Ambassador at Rome. It states that in consequence of his behaviour, which was regarded as eccentric, Mr. Flanagan was asked by a gendarme to produce his identity papers and to accompany him to the barracks, whereupon Mr. Flanagan attacked the gendarme with a knife. The gendarme fired first in the air o intimidate Mr. Flanagan and then at him when the attack was renewed, inflicting a wound. A doctor was immedlately summoned, but, I regret to say, Mr. Flanagan died before he was able to arrive.

Will the hon. Gentleman make inquiries from the British Vice-Consul and not from Italian sources whether Mr. Flanagan's eccentricities consisted in making uncomplimentary remarks about the head of the Italian State?

I have given the hon. Lady the information which has reached us, but I am ready to refer the matter again to our Ambassador in Rome.

Are full inquiries being made in this case of a British subject who was shot by an Italian policeman?

We have received the information which I have imparted to the House, and I have informed the hon. Lady that I am ready to ask our Ambassador in Rome for any further information which he can give us.

Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that the statement which he has given us is an ex parte statement, and is it not possible to get from the Vice-Consul in Patti what really occurred?

That is why I said that I was ready to ask our Ambassador in Rome for any further information about this regrettable matter that he is able to sent us.

I cannot go any further than that. When our Ambassador in Rome has a sad and tragic matter like this referred to him, he may be relied upon to make the fullest inquiries.