HC Deb 10 November 1936 vol 317 cc691-2
46. Mr. MANDER

asked the Prime Minister whether the Secretary of State for the Home Department was expressing the policy of the Government on the occasion of his address to his constituents at Hightown, Spen Valley, on 5th October, when he expressed the view that in the event of an aggressive attack by Germany on Russia or Russia on Germany this country must not become involved; and whether, in view of the fact that this policy is inconsistent with the Covenant of the League of Nations, the British Government propose to resign from the League?


I have consulted my right hon. Friend, who informs me that the occasion to which the hon. Member refers was not a public meeting, and no question of a declaration of Government policy could arise. I have, moreover, had the opportunity of examining a report of what my right hon. Friend said on the occasion in question, and I cannot accept the interpretation which the hon. Member puts on his language. All that my right hon. Friend did was to express the hope, which I am sure the hon. Member shares, that we should avoid becoming involved in international polemics, including those which have unfortunately been exchanged between the two countries to which the hon. Member refers. I need hardly say that this has no bearing on the fact, which has repeatedly been stated, that His Majesty's Government continue to base their foreign policy upon their membership of the League of Nations.


Is the Prime Minister aware that it would be extremely difficult to enlist a platoon of infantry to fight in a Russian quarrel?


Or in any quarrel?

48. Mr. MANDER

asked the Prime Minister what consultations have taken place with the leaders of the Opposition on foreign policy since July; and whether he will endeavour by further consultations to arrive at a national policy supported by all parties?


As regards the first part of the hon. Member's question, on several occasions during the Parliamentary Recess my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and other Ministers received the Leader or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, at their request, in order to discuss the situation in Spain and the working of the International Agreement regarding Non-Intervention. As regards the second part of the question, I can assure the hon. Member that, in the event of my receiving such a request from the official Leaders of the parties in this House, I shall certainly give it my careful consideration.


In view of the immense importance of securing national unity in Defence and foreign policy, can the Prime Minister not consider initiating conversations, and inviting the Leaders of the Opposition to confer with him on this vital subject?


No, Sir, I think the initiative should come from the other side. I think there was a considerable measure of unanimity displayed in the recent Debate on Foreign Office affairs. I am sure that the hon. Member, in common with Members who might desire to see me, would always like to reserve their own inalienable right to pursue their own course and, if they thought fit, of criticising the Government on points of policy.


Is the Prime Minister aware that there is no national support for the pro-Hitler, pro-Mussolini, pro-Franco policy of the present Government?