Oral Answers to Questions — League of Nations. – in the House of Commons am ar 8 Gorffennaf 1935.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will inform the House what were the stipulations made by the British Government as a condition precedent to their withdrawal of their objection to the admission of Abyssinia to membership of the League of Nations; and whether he can assure the House that such stipulations have been fulfilled by Abyssinia?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

The special condition upon which the United Kingdom, in common with other Members of the League, agreed in 1923 to the admission of Abyssinia was that that country should sign a declaration undertaking (1) to endeavour to secure the complete suppression of slavery and of the slave trade; (2) to abide by the rules which other countries with territories in Africa had already agreed to follow in regard to the import of arms and munitions; and (3) to provide the Council with information when so requested, and to take into consideration any recommendations which the Council might make about Abyssinia's obligations. I am circulating the text of this declaration in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As regards the second part of the question, it would be difficult, on the information available, to express an opinion on the efficacy of the measures taken by the Ethiopian Government in regard to slavery. These measures have recently been reviewed by the Committee of Experts on Slavery appointed by the Council of the League. The Committee emphasised the importance of the supply by the Ethiopian Government to the League of particulars of the measures it was taking and the obstacles it was encountering in its action against slavery.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Is it not well known that slavery has not been abolished in Abyssinia, and that our own Colonies have actually had raids not very long ago upon them for slaves; and does not my right hon. Friend consider that Abyssinia, not having fulfilled the express conditions on which she was admitted to the membership of the League, has forfeited any right she may have as a member of the League?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

My hon. Friend has raised a very wide issue, which will, no doubt, be dealt with in the Debate on Thursday, and meanwhile let me say to him that the League is seized of this question. Any complaints, if complaints are to be made, should be made to the League. Our responsibility is collective, not individual, in this respect. Moreover, there may be a difference—I am not now arguing whether it is so or not—between the raids carried out by un-authorised individuals and raids that might be suggested to have had some connection with the Abyssinian Government. These are questions the League must consider.

Photo of Sir Robert Hamilton Sir Robert Hamilton , Orkney and Shetland

Is it not a fact that Abyssinia has taken, and is taking, steps to abolish slavery?

Photo of Mr Samuel Hoare Mr Samuel Hoare , Chelsea

So far as my information goes, the Abyssinian Government is doing its utmost to abolish slavery, but I say again that this question is essentially one for the League of Nations to consider.

Photo of Captain John Dickie Captain John Dickie , Consett

In the tentative proposals made by His Majesty's Government for the cession of territory to Abyssinia, was any statement made with regard to the slave traffic?

Following is the declaration referred to:

Extract from, 1923 agreement.

"The Empire of Abyssinia, following the example of other sovereign States which have given special undertakings on the occasion of their admission to the League of Nations, makes the following declaration:

  1. 1. Abyssinia adheres to the obligations formulated in Article 11, paragraph 1 of the Convention signed at St. Germain-en-Laye on 10th September, 1919, amending the General Act of Berlin, dated 26th February, 1885, and the General Act and Declaration of Brussels, dated 2nd July, 1890.
  2. 2. Abyssinia, recognising as binding the system at present established with regard to the importation of arms and ammunitions, undertakes to conform to the principles set forth in the Convention and Protocol signed at St. Germain-en-Laye on 10th September, 1919, and in particular to the stipulations contained in Article VI of the said Convention.
  3. 3. Abyssinia declares herself ready now and hereafter to furnish the Council with any information which it may require, and to take into consideration any recommendations which the Council may make with regard to the fulfilment of these obligations, in which she recognises that the League of Nations is concerned."