|Statement about a meeting between British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, and a deputation from the League of Nations on 13 December 1935|
|(Catalogue ref: PREM 1/195)|
The Prime Minister received our deputation in a most friendly way. He assured us that he held faithfully to all his pledges with regard to the League and suggested that the interview should be both frank and confidential. It was agreed that no information should be given to the press and only a confidential written memorandum put before the Executive of the LNU.
and could hardly be mobilized by any provocation short of actual invasion. Consequently M. Laval would not consent – at any rate without first making further efforts at conciliation – to any step likely to precipitate an act of war by Mussolini, as the embargo on oil probably would. He considered, however, that there might be some change in French opinion if Mussolini had been offered, and had refused to accept, peace terms which Laval would no doubt put before the French nation as highly favourable to Italy.
The Prime Minister expatiated on the preparedness for war of the despotic powers such as Italy and Germany and the comparative unpreparedness of the parliamentary nations, such as England and France, and drew the general conclusion that the experience of the last few months had disclosed a situation which would require the gravest possible attention on the part of all the States Members of the League. The course of events in dealing with an aggressor seemed likely in the end to require effective action upon the territory of the aggressor. With the exception of ourselves (and our own preparations had fallen far into arrears) none
of the members of the League seemed in a position to take action of that kind.
There was no discussion of the merits of Hoare-Laval proposals, nor how far the British Government was committed to them. The Prime Minister told us that, though he considered the oil-embargo raised many serious difficulties both because of French opposition and because of its inherent dangers and difficulties, Mr. Eden’s instructions were to vote for continuing the present sanctions. He thought they were exercising a pressure greater than was commonly believed and were likely, in conjunction with the other difficulties of the Abyssinian campaign, to put Signor Mussolini in a much weaker position by the time of the next rains.
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