28 JUNE 1940, Page 5


EPLORABLE though the decisions taken by the Govern- ment of Marshal Petain are, there would seem to be no justification for the suggestions rather freely made in this country that the Government is not constitutionally representa- nue of the French people, or that it has acted unconstitution- ally. It is true that there has been no General Election since 1936, but Parliaments in France last regularly for four years. Within that period Governments change constantly, and M. Petam succeeded M. Reynaud at the invitation of President Lebrun. Nor, I believe I em right in saying, did the Govern- ment go m any way beyond its powers in concluding an armis- tice. This is a military, not a political, arrangement and is made ostensibly as between soldiers. The Armistice of 1918 was submitted neither to the British Parliament, nor to the French Chamber, nor to the German Reichstag. A peace treaty, which sooner or later follows the armistice, is quite another matter. Different countries follow different practices regard- mg that. In France the President nominally concludes treaties, but any treaty affecting the area of France or her colonies must be approved by the Legislature. The Government, therefore, cannot deal in the matter of a treaty as it has dealt in the matter of the armistice. As to " the area of France," the most revealing document I have seen lately is the German map (reproduced in Monday's News Chronicle) found among the papers of Herr Henlein, the Sudeten-German leader, early in 1939. It showed the area of Europe allotted to German and Italian domination respectively. The German area of France corresponds precisely with the area now occupied by German troops under the armistice. The rest is Italy's sphere.

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