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two countries came most closely into contact with one
another, it was there that any lack of confidence between us
became most apparent, and was most calculated to give rise to
harmful results. For these reasons, it was to that region that
the two Governments directed their attention, and on 2nd
January, 1937, they signed a joint declaration which came to be
known as a * Gentlemen's Agreement/ The Gentlemen's
Agreement was designed to dispel suspicions and misunder-
standings, but, unfortunately, it proved that it did little in
that direction, and these suspicions, which were intensified
and reflected by comments in the Press of both countries,
continued to grow.
" When, later in the year, I succeeded my noble Friend,
Lord Baldwin, in my present office, the situation was as bad
as ever it had been, and it seemed to me then, and it seems to
me now, looking back, that unless some further effort could
be made it was in danger of rapidly becoming acute. In July
of that year, in response to a friendly message which I had
received from Signor Mussolini, I wrote to him a letter, in
the course of which I suggested that it might be a good thing
if the two Governments were to enter upon conversations
with a view to seeing whether they could not clear away any
misunderstandings which existed, and do something to
restore the old and more cordial relations. Signor Mussolini
responded very readily to this suggestion, but in July we
were near to the holiday season and for that, and various other
reasons, which I need not enter into now, it did not prove
possible to give an early effect to these good intentions.
" On nth December the Italian Government announced
their decision to withdraw from the League of Nations, and
the conversations between us had to remain in abeyance until
January of this year, when they were revived in circumstances
with which the House is familiar. On 2ist February last, I
announced the intention of His Majesty's Government to
begin negotiations with the Italian Government with a view
to concluding an agreement with them at an early date. Those
negotiations began, they have been carried on in a spirit of
mutual accommodation and good will and have resulted in
the Agreement which was signed on the i6th of last month.
"I should like to pay my tribute to the statesmanlike